Friday, October 22, 2010

A Thought for Ministers of the Gospel

A friend sent me the following from Charles Spurgeon's historic and holy works. Nothing more needs to be said than is said below:

Excerpted from INCENSE AND LIGHT, March 11, 1883

I desire, in the third place, to show SOME SPECIAL PRACTICAL CONNECTION BETWEEN THE INCENSE AND THE LAMP. Let us read the text again: "And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it." So, then, there should be prayer especially at the dressing of the lamps: that is to say, when preparing our minds for that ministry by which we enlighten the people among whom we dwell we should be specially earnest in prayer.

Preparation for preaching and teaching is most important: God's work is not to be done carelessly as boys shoot arrows at random in their play. We must prepare both by reading and pleading: we must, like the apostles, give ourselves to the word of God and prayer. We are told by ancient Rabbis that when the priest who was appointed for that office went into the holy place he took with him the golden snuffers and the golden snuff dishes, and a vessel full of pure olive oil and by the help of these be attended to the trimming of the golden lamp. There were seven lamps on the candelabra:

some of these might have gone quite out during the night; he would have to take away whatever of snuff remained, wipe out the lamp, place a new wick, fill up with fresh oil, and then kindle the flame anew. In another lamp it may be the light was still burning but feebly: he might have simply to snuff it, take away the "the superfluity of naughtiness" in the golden snuff dish and make all things clean and right. Sometimes the light might be burning well and nothing was needed but to replenish it with oil. Thus all was set in order for another day. The like was done in the evening. In the process of trimming lamps there is a measure of offense: snuffs do not give forth a very dainty perfume, and the smear and smelt of oil are not altogether of sweet savor; therefore, before he trimmed the lamps, the priest kindled the incense. No snuff would then be offensive, for the overpowering fragrance of the incense killed it all and prevented the prevalence of any odour unfit for the house of God. When we go into our studies to try and trim our lamps let us remember that our first business is to pray. Alas, we have much of smoking wick about us; much negligence, much ignorance, many mistakes and errors; and thereby we shall grieve the Lord if Jesus is not called in to cover all. When we are preparing in secret to serve the Lord in public we shall make poor work of it if we do not beforehand draw near to God in prayer. We need that our garments should be made to smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia by being covered with the merit of Jesus, or else we shall offend even while engaged in the holy act of preparing to spread abroad the light of divine truth. You have to trim your lamps, brethren, and sisters, when you go into the Sunday-school - at least, I hope you do. I hope you do not run into your class with anything which first comes to hand: if you do not snuff your candles and fill your lamps with fresh oil your children will sit in darkness before a lamp which does not shine. No, there ought to be careful preparation, according as your time and ability will allow, and above all the pouring in of the holy oil of the Holy Spirit, by fresh fellowship with Jesus. In that process one of the chief elements is prayer. Dr. Adam Clarke used to say to young ministers, "Study yourselves dead, and then pray yourselves alive again"; and that is an excellent rule. Work in your study as if it all depended upon you, and then go forth and speak, trusting in God because all depends upon him.

Remember that the chief part of all study of God's word must be prayer.

This is the boring-rod and the powder by which we burst open the great rocks of truth. "To have prayed well is to have studied well," said Martin Luther, and so most certainly it is; therefore let none of us when we dress the lamp forget the incense.

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