“And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.”

Jer. 3:15

“And He gave some… pastors…”

Eph. 4:11




On an Extraordinary Calling



Order of Contents

Advice for Pastors
On the Office of Pastor
On the Qualifications of 1 Tim. 3
Female Pastors?
How Preachers Bind with the Keys
Not All Truths must be Preached in All Circumstances
How Far Pastors are to be Believed
On the Pastor’s Duty for Evangelism
On Pastors Guiding Elders



Advice for Pastors

Beeke, Joel – Ten Commandments for Pastors  2015, 10 paragraphs




Alexander, Archibald

Introduction to Pastoral Reminiscences, 1849  5 pp.

On the heart of a pastor.

“Weep with them that Weep”,  a Discourse Occasioned by the Burning of the Theater in the City of Richmond, Virginia on Dec. 26th, 1811  1812  21 pp.

Church of Scotland – A Humble Acknowledgment of the Sins of the Ministry of Scotland  1651

Pastors and Elders, let us grieve and break our hearts over our sins in Christ’s ministry.  May this cause us to look to Christ for all of our righteousness, and may it spur us on to walk more humbly and closely with Him as we work in His Vineyard.  Use this in secret prayer throughout the year.  

Church members, bring reformation to our land and humbly encourage your elders with this article.

Dabney, Robert

What is a Call to the Ministry?  no date or source info

Are you called to the Ministry?  Read this to find out.

The Public Preaching of Women  1879  from the The Southern Presbyterian Review for October 

The argument against women preaching

Girardeau, John

An Address on Behalf of the Society for the Relief of Superannuated Ministers and the Indigent Families of Deceased Ministers of the Synod of South Carolina  1858  24 pp.

The Suffering Seaboard of South Carolina  1876  29 pp.

A chronicle of the sufferings of Charleston, SC, “our Southern Zion”, after its occupation by the Northern army during the War between the States.  Peer here into the sufferings of a part of Christ’s church, and the labors of her faithful pastors. 

Hodge, Charles

“He Preached Christ”, Acts 9:20, Sermon Preached… at the Memorial Services… [for] James Waddel Alexander, D.D.1859  17 pp.

The Teaching Office of the Church  1882  16 pp.

Macleod, William

The Essence of the Ministry  2006 17 paragraphs  The opening address given at the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) Seminary in Sept., 2006.

Macleod helpfully and practically gives eight things that it is not and two things that it is.

The Ideal Minister  2005  11 paragraphs, a public address

What should Christians look for when they call a man to be their minister? What should they pray for God to do in their own minister? What should ministers and divinity students strive to be?  Here are 10 characteristics.

Miller, Samuel – The Importance of the Gospel Ministry  1827  68 pp.





Bernard, Richard

The Faithful Shepherd… with the Shepherd’s Practice  1621  355 pp.

The Shepherd’s Practice: or, the Manner of his Feeding the Flock  1621  56 pp.

Bernard (bap.1568-1642) was an English, puritan clergyman.

Baxter, Richard – The Reformed Pastor  565 pp.



The Office of Pastor

Binnie, William – The Holy Ministry, p. 120 ff.  3 pp. from his The Church



On the Qualifications of 1 Tim. 3 & the Good Order of the Church

There are some who consider the qualifications set forth in 1 Tim. 3 to be of the essence of the offices there described, such that if a person lacks or is deficient in any one of them, then they have no authority as an elder.  Rather, in consistency with much of reformed history, these qualifications are for the good order of the Church (which should be the regular rule).  A deficiency or absence of any one of them may not necessarily disqualify one from the office or remove their authority in the office, especially in extraordinary circumstances.

The difference in interpretation is due to (1) an unqualified, Biblicist and exclusively divine-command interpretation of the text, versus (2) recognizing natural law and other ethical categories.

(1) is wrong as Paul in 1 Tim. 2:1-12 says that women ought not to hold authority over men in the Church, and yet God extraordinarily called female prophets in Scripture to teach and exercise authority over men.  (2) understands the apostle in 1 Tim. 3 to be setting forth wholesome positive ordinances based on natural law.  Other natural law factors may be (and often should be) taken into account, as virtually every congregation in fact (rightly) considers other natural factors beyond those in 1 Tim. 3 (especially as they are relevant in their circumstances) when considering who to elect for elders.  Such natural qualifications must also be weighed against the whole of other relevant natural factors and principles.  As Rutherford and Gillespie argue, extraordinary circumstances often necessitate extraordinary means; and what is right in extraordinary circumstances by no means warrants the same means to be used in ordinary circumstances.

In contrast to the plain words of 1 Tim. 3, that elders be married to one wife, the Church of Scotland during the First and Second Reformations often allowed, on occasion, gifted men who were single to be ordained as ministers (consider Mt. 19:12 and the apostle Paul’s calling to the ministry, who was likely single at the time).

Can simply physical circumstances, of themselves, determine one’s fitness to hold the authority of an elder?  Must an elder, whose wife dies, resign the eldership?  According to Titus 1:6, must an elder step down if a child, grown and out of the house, in a distant place, becomes an unbeliever or is riotous in their living?  Some would argue that this is a communication of God’s will through providence that the elder should step down, and that he is no longer a fitting example to the flock.  But, while providence may indicate God’s will in our changes of circumstances, must providence always be interpreted this manner?

There is quite a difference in how this informs our interpretation of Scripture:  Are the happenstances of providence always determinative of one’s calling, such that the spiritual is inevitably tied and constrained to the physical (and other people’s actions which we cannot control), or is the spiritual, and the call of God, often more fundamental than the changing physical circumstances which God has placed in our lot?  While the apostle was setting down fundamental guidelines for Church governors in 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1 to be a rule of good order for us throughout the ages, yet even when the apostles spoke, natural and spiritual qualifications apply.




Homily 10 on 1 Timothy, on 3:1-4

“A Bishop then, he says, must be blameless, the husband of one wife. This he does not lay down as a rule, as if he must not be without one, but as prohibiting his having more than one.”


Peter Martyr Vermigli

Common Places (1583),  4th Part, ch. 1, ‘Of Calling, and Especially unto the Ministry’

“19.  But the election of Paul [who was likely unmarried at the time] and such other[s] ought not to move us but that in choosing the ministers of the Church we must follow the doctrine of the same apostle taught us in the epistle unto Timothy, where he will that those which be novices in religion should not be chosen, but they which have a good testimony. But it must be considered that the rules described unto Timothy were given unto men, from whom, seeing other men’s minds be hidden and that they be utterly ignorant what is in them, it behoves that they use the cautions described by the apostle, lest they err in their elections.

But God rightly chooses his without those rules (Ps. 7:11; Jer. 11:20; Apoc. 2:23), “For He trieth the reigns and the hearts, and changeth the wills of men at his own pleasure.” Albeit some have said, that Paul in Judaism was of very honest conversation, as he himself testifies unto the Philippians (Phil. 2:6). And in the latter epistle to Timothy he writes that he had served God from his forefathers with a pure conscience. But I hold not with these men. For I will not diminish his fault in persecuting of the Church, seeing Paul did so greatly after a sort reproach himself with the same.

Wherefore when I allow of the solution now brought, this comes to mind that the canons which the apostle delivered unto Timothy are not always kept even as touching men. For Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan, when he was yet a novice, and youngling in the faith, was placed in the See of the Church. For he was sent from the emperor to execute the office of Praetor.

(Margin Note: The commandments of God so far as sometime one gives place to another)

Here the adversaries vaunt against us, that it is lawful sometimes to deal against the holy Scriptures, and that the words of God are not most steadfast. But we must note that the precepts of God sometime have not their own strength, neither in very deed be precepts. For when two precepts meet together so as they cross one another, whereof the one is more excellent than the other, and God would have that chiefly to be done than the other which is of less excellency, and as touching the will of God, inferior, gives place unto the first and has not the [obliging] authority of a commandment [in that situation]: because God would not have it to be done in that place and at that time. Even as Christ taught as touching the drawing of an ox and an ass out of a pit on the Sabboth day (Lk. 14:5). By which means He excused his disciples who had plucked off the ears of the corn on the Sabboth day (Matt 12:1) and had rubbed out the grain. And He often times testified that He would have mercy and not sacrifice. (Ibid., v. 7).

The Church of Milan therefore was greatly molested by the Arians: it had need of a bishop and specially of a teacher that should be of great authority. These things were perceived to be in Ambrose. Neither was there any other fit man presented. Whereby that Church was quit from the other precept which was of less excellency, wherein it was commanded to beware of novices, or those which were not fully instructed. And of this matter it seems to be enough to have spoken somewhat by the way.”


Samuel Rutherford

The Due Right of Presbyteries  (1644), pt. 2, p. 228

“7.  A calling to the ministry is either such as wants the essentials, as gifts in any messenger, and the Churches’ consent, or these who occupy the room of the Church, the Church consenting, such a minister is to be reputed for no minister.  Or. 2. An entry to a calling, or a calling, where diverse of the apostles’ requisites are wanting, may be a valid calling, as if one enter as Caiphas who entered by favor and money, and contrary to the Law was High-Priest but for a year: yet was a true High-Priest, and prophesied as the High-Priest.

8.  If the Church approve by silence, or countenance the ministry of a man who opened the Church door to himself, by a silver key, having given the prelate a bud, the ordinance of God is conferred upon him and his calling ceases not to be God’s calling because of the sins of the instruments both taking and giving.”


Westminster Annotations  1st ed. 1645

On 1 Tim. 3:2

“He that is to be chosen a bishop must not necessarily be a married man, but necessarily be no polygamist…”


David Dickson

An Exposition of All St. Paul’s Epistles, on 1 Tim. 3:2

”Of one’  2. Property:  It behoves him to be the husband of one wife: which property is not laid down by way of precept, as if it was necessary for a pastor to be married, but by way of limitation, because if he purpose to marry, he ought to content himself with one wife so long as she lives and to keep himself from polygamy, which was frequent in those times.”


Robert McWard

The Banders Disbanded (1681), p. 47  McWard was a protege of Rutherford and leader of the Scottish covenanters.

“XXV.  As every escape, error, or act of unfaithfulness (even known and continued in) whether in a minister’s entry to the ministry, or in his doctrine or deportment, does not non-minister him, nor give sufficient ground to withdraw from, or reject him as a minister of Christ: So neither does every enormity, mis-demeanure or act of tyranny, injustice, perfidy or profanity etc. in the civil magistrate, whither as to his way of entry to that office, or in the execution of it, or in his private and personal behavior, denominate him a tyrant or an usurper, or give sufficient ground to divest him of his magistratical power, and reject him as the lawful magistrate.

XXVI. Though such a minister may lawfully be withdrawn from and disowned as a minister of Christ’s mission and institution, who either enters to the ministry by the window (i.e. in a way unwaranted or condemned in the Word of God) preaches erroneous and damnable doctrine, is grossly scandalous and vicious in his conversation, or is utterly insufficient for such a sacred function:”



Female Pastors?

While there were blessed women prophets in both the Old Testament (Ex. 15:20; Judges 4:4; 2 Kings 22:14; 2 Chron. 34:22; Isa. 8:3; Joel 2:28) and New Testament (Lk. 2:36; Acts 2:16-18; 21:9) there is no Scriptural example of a female in any other Church office.

Pastors, though, are of a different office than a prophet.  Prophets were extraordinarily called of God (who is able to read the hearts, and retains his sovereignty), they prophesied by inspiration and the office was not prescribed to be regularly and successively conferred by human instrumentality on others for its perpetual continuance.  A pastor, on the contrary, is ordinarily called and ordained through the Church, and regular guidelines are given in Scripture for their qualifications and regular continuance through the Church age (e.g. 1 Tim. 3; Titus 1).  While prophets could perform and lead acts of public worship, yet the regular administration of the public worship of the Church was given to priests in the Old Testament, and pastors in the New Testament.

The requirement that pastors be male stems not only from 1 Tim. 3:2, but also from the equity of the Old Testament precedent that the regular prescribed requirement for priests was that they were male; hence the regularly ordained ministry was all male.  This is inline with the regular rule of natural law, which teaches, as Paul says regarding the Church, that women ought not to teach or usurp authority over men (1 Tim. 2:11-15; see also Isa. 3:12).

Women prophets were an exception to this, as extraordinarily and immediately called by God.  They exercised their office righteously, without sin, and were a blessing in their circumstances, though such women officers were never the norm or to form a regular rule.

There is a distinction between that which is sinful and that which is valid.  A person may sinfully enter and remain in an office, and yet still have the valid authority of the office.  Not every sin entering into, or in, the office takes away the validity of the office (see on the qualifications of 1 Tim. 3 in the section above).

While it is wrong for a woman to be an ordained pastor in a regular, settled and constituted Church area (exception might be made for an extraordinary calling in an unsettled and unconstituted Church area), due to the positive qualification Scripture holds forth (which is a rule to us in regular circumstances), yet if the woman is in a valid Church, she may yet be a valid pastor with valid pastoral authority (her baptisms being valid, etc.).  This is because the sex of the minister is not of the essence of the ministerial office.  This is seen in that there were blessed women prophets in Scripture, who were valid ministers of the Word.  Those women prophets were also, by definition, elders and could sit and rule in the assembly of elders, insofar as, according to historic presbyterianism, the higher offices contain have all the authority, calling and gifts of the lower offices.

The case of women pastors is similar to the case of women being civil magistrates.  While natural law and Scripture teaches that women ruling in a nation is a curse (Isa. 3:12), yet Scripture also clearly upholds the validity of women civil magistrates (such as Deborah), even as magistrates are the servants and ministers of God who bear his authority.

The following quotes below by Rutherford and Vermigli support the viewpoint taught here.


Samuel Rutherford

Due Right of Presbyteries  1644  The context is Rutherford arguing against congregationalists, that election by the people is not always necessary, as in extraordinary circumstances.

1st Part, p. 202

“And why not (say I) electi­on [is extraordinary] also in another case, if as Peter Martyr says well (on Judges 4:5) a woman may be a preacher of the Gospel;”

[For Rutherford a ‘preacher’ was not the same as a pastor.  The word ‘preacher’ may include anyone who incidentally preaches, such as a woman (by the extraordinary motion of God, and moral necessity) proclaiming the message of Christ in a place where there is no settled Church (Jn. 4:28-29, see below).  This is far distinguished from a regular ordained pastor of a congregation.  That Rutherford is against women pastors, see Due Right of Presbyteries, 2nd Part, p. 303).]


pp. 203-8

“4th Distinction.  A calling may be expressly and formally corrupt in respect of the particular intention of the ordainers and of the particular Church, ex intentione ordinanris & operantis [out of the intention of the ordainers and of the one working]. Thus Luther’s calling to be a monk was a corrupt calling, and eatenus, and ‘in that respect’ he could not give a calling to o­thers.  But that some calling may be implicitly and virtually good and lawful in respect of the intention of the Catholic Church and ex intentione operis & ipsius ordinationis [out of the intention of the work and the ordination itself], he was called to preach the Word of God.

7.  A calling to the ministry is either such [1.] as wants the es­sentials, as gifts in any messenger and the Church’s consent, or these who occupy the room of the Church, the Church consenting: such a minister is to be reputed for no minister; or 2. an entry to a calling, or a calling where diverse of the apostles’ requisites are wanting, may be a valid cal­ling, as if one enter as Caiphas, who entered by favor and mo­ney and contrary to the Law, was High-Priest but for a year: yet was a true High-Priest and prophesied as the High-priest [Jn. 11:49-51].

8. If the Church approve by silence, or countenance the mi­nistry of a man who opened the Church door to himself, by a silver key, having given the prelate a bud. The ordinance of God is conferred upon him, and his calling ceases not to be God’s cal­ling because of the sins of the instruments both taking and giving.”


1st Part, p. 454-5

“But a woman in no case is capable of administrat­ing baptism or the Lord’s Supper, except she were extraordinarily and immediately inspired to be a prophetess…”


1st Part, p. 475

“It is a shame for a woman to speak in the Church: the word ‘Church’ cannot be in that place restricted to the one single congregation supposed to meet all in one house at one time in Corinth [as per the congregationalists], because it is a shame for a woman to preach in all the churches of the world, as is clear, 1 Tim. 2:11-12 and Ex. 12:47[?].”


Pt. 2, p. 293

“‘The Samaritan woman’ (says [John] Robinson [a congregationalist]) ‘Jn. 4:28, preached, and many of the Samaritans believed because of her, v. 39, and without preaching of the Word of God, none can believe, Rom. 10:14-15.  If a woman may teach without the Church, then may a man teach in the Church.’

Answer 1.  A woman may teach, 2. in a non-constituted Church where there is no salvation and they worship they know not what, Jn. 4:22.  3.  A woman may occasionally declare one point of the Gospel, that Mary’s Son is Christ.  But hence it follows not, [that] therefore, 1. a man 2. in a constituted Church 3. may ordinarily preach the whole Gospel to the Church in public: a weak spar for so vast a roof.

2.  He abuses the place, Rom. 10:14, and would hence prove that a woman or any gifted teacher is a sent preacher by whom faith ordinarily comes; for otherwise who dare deny but faith comes by reading? and just as the [Socinian] Catechism of Raccovia expones the place, Rom. 10:14, to evert the necessity of a sent ministry, so does Robinson expone the place.”


Pt. 2, p. 303

“But [1 Cor. 14] v. 34, he sets down a new canon about women who took on them to prophesy publicly, and he inhibits so much as ordinary prophesying, yea so much as speaking in the Church; and I deny not but Irenaeus, Eusebius, yea and Tertullian, Cyril, Chrysostom, Theophylactus, with warrant teach that always women extraordinarily inspired may prophesy, for in that God immediately exalts them above men.  But for ordinary prophesying in public, it is of moral equi∣ty, and perpetual, that the women should not teach, for Adam was first formed; this Paul brings as a moral argument against women’s preaching.”


Peter Martyr Vermigli

Common Places (1583), 4th Part, ch. 1

‘Of Diverse Ministries of the Church’

“(In Judges 4:4)

10.  But when as God chose Deborah unto the ministry of judging, being weak in sex, He straightway made her very famous and honorable through the gift of prophesying.  By which grace, and perhaps many other miracles more, she was constituted by God and confirmed by miracles as a woman chosen to so great an office.

Neither was only this woman endued with the spirit of prophesy, for in the holy Scripture we read of other women also which were in such sort instructed by the Holy Ghost.  Mary the sister of Moses, Hannah the mother of Samuel, Hulda in the time of Josiah the king were prophetesses (Ex. 15:20; 1 Sam. 2:1; 2 Kings 22:14).  And in the New Testament (to speak nothing of Mary the virgin, of Elizabeth the mother of John and of Anna the daughter of Phanuel, Lk. 1:42 & 46; 2:36) the daughters of Phillip the deacon (as it is written in the Acts of the Apostles) were prophetesses.

(Margin Note: That women prophets did openly teach the people)

Neither think I [that] it ought to be denied that some of those women, endued with the gift of prophesy did openly teach the people in declaring of those things unto them which had been showed them of God: seeing the gifts of God are not therefore given that they should lie hidden, but to the intent they should further the common edifying of the Church.

And yet hereby it follows not that what God does by some peculiar privilege, we should forthwith draw it into an example unto us: because according to the rule of the apostle we are bound unto an ordinary law,

(Margin Note: 1 Tim. 2:12; 1 Cor. 14:34; Why women were commanded to be silent in the Church)

whereby both in the epistle to Timothy and in the first epistle to the Corinthians, he commands that a woman should keep silence in the Church.  And of the silence commanded, he assigns causes, namely, for that they ought to be subject to their husbands.  But the office of a teacher does declare a certain authority over those which are taught, which must not be attributed unto a woman over men.  For she was made for man, whom to obey she ought always to have a respect; which thing is also appointed her by the judgment of God, whereby He said unto the woman after sin was committed, (Gen. 3:16) “Thy disposition shall be towards thy husband.”  Further, the apostle derived a reason from the first fault, (1 Tim. 2:14) wherein he says that Eve was seduced and not Adam.

So as if women should ordinarily be admitted to the holy ministry in the Church, men might easily suspect that the devil by his accustomed instrument would deceive the people, and for that cause they would the less esteem the ecclesiastical function if it should be committed unto women; wherefore by the ordinary right and by the apostolical rule, it ought to be appointed unto men.  Howbeit if God do otherwise sometime, yet can He not be justly accused, for so much as all laws are in his power. If then sometime He send a prophetess, and adorn her with heavenly gifts, the same woman speaking in the Church must undoubtedly be hearkened unto, but yet so as her state be not forgotten.

(Margin Note: Two places of Paul are reconciled)

Therefore, the two testimonies of Paul, which seem to be repugnant one to another, may easily be reconciled.  In the first epistle to Timothy he writes that “a woman ought to be silent in the Church,” which, toward the end of the first epistle to the Corinthians, he most manifestly confirms. Howbeit in the same epistle he commands that a man prophesying or praying should have his head uncovered, but the woman while she prophesies should have it covered (1 Cor. 11:5): whereby doubtless he teaches that it is lawful for a woman both to speak and also to prophesy in the Church.  For it would not seem that so doing she should have been commanded to cover her head if she were utterly to keep silence in the holy assembly.

(Margin Note: Why the women that prophesy are commanded to be covered on their head)

After this sort the matter must be expounded, namely, that the precept of silence is a general precept, but the other, which is for covering of the head when they pray or prophesy, pertained only to those which were prophetesses.  They verily are not forbidden to prophesy for the common edifying of the Church: but lest they, forgetting the property of their own state (by reason of the extraordinary office committed unto them), should wax proud, they are commanded to have their head covered: whereby they might understand that they have yet the power of man above them.”


‘Of Calling and Especially unto the Ministry’

“18….  As touching the holy women and other prophets which exercised the ministry without attending till they were called, those we say had extraordinary vocations [callings], the Church either being as yet not planted, or else so fallen to decay as it might not otherwise be repaired.”



How Preachers Bind with the Keys, Lk. 10:16

George Gillespie

English Popish Ceremonies  (1637), pt. 3, ch. 8, Digression 4, pp. 188-89

“1. We must distinguish a twofold power of the keys (Trelcatius, Instittutes of Theology, bk. 2, p. 287-88; Pareus on 1 Cor. 5, Of Excommunication): the one is execute in doctrine: the other in discipline: the one concionalis [of preaching]: the other judicialis [of judgment]. 

Touching the former, we grant it is proper for pastors alone, whose office and vocation it is, by the preaching and publishing of God’s Word, to shut the Kingdom of Heaven against impenitent and disobedient men, and to open it unto penitent sinners, to bind God’s heavy wrath upon the former, and (by application of the promises of mercy) to loose the latter from the sentence and fear of condemnation.

When we ascribe the power of binding and loosing to that whole consistory, wherein governing elders are joined together with pastors, we mean only of the Keys of external discipline, which are used in ecclesiastical courts and judicatories.”


Samuel Rutherford

A Free Disputation Against Pretended Liberty of Conscience…  (1649), ch. 2

pp. 33-34

“…for it is a greater obligation for pastors to subject men to divine wrath, if they receive not what they preach, than for synods to bind them only to ecclesiastical censures; and yet none can say that Pastors exercise tyranny over the conscience [because what they preach is God’s Word]…”


pp. 39-40

“…we conceive that God has given to some one single pastor, and far more to a synod of pastors and doctors a power to rebuke, teach, exhort with all authority, 2 Tim. 4:1-2, to charge, Tit. 2:15, them before the Lord, 1 Tim. 6:17, to lay on burdens and decrees, Acts 15:28; 16:4, and that all that hear them believe and receive as true what they speak in the Name of the Lord, according to that, ‘he that heareth you heareth Me; he that despiseth you, despiseth Me.’ [Lk. 10:16]

He that will not hear an ambassador as an ambassador speaking from his master and prince, refuses to hear the prince that sent him; yet we say not that they are to be heard without controversy as they [Libertines] object, that is, peremptorily, absolutely as if their word were the very oracle of God, but they are to be heard, but not but after trying and searching, and not but conditionally, insofar as they carry the mind of God along with them, so that there may be an appeal to the Scripture and place left for examining and trying of their doctrine whether it be so or not.”



Not All Truths must be Preached in All Circumstances

James Durham

Treatise on Scandal, pp. 358-359

“Neither can it be ground enough to plead for such decisions in preaching, that the thing they preach-for is truth, and the thing they condemn is error.  Because:

1.  It is not the lawfulness of the thing simply that is in question, but the necessity and expediency thereof in such a case: Now, many things are lawful that are not expedient, 1 Cor. 10:23.

2.  In these differences that were in the primitive times concerning meats, days, genealogies, etc. there was a truth or an er­ror upon one of the sides, as there is a right and a wrong in every contradiction of such a kind, yet the apostle thinks fitter, for the Church’s peace, that such be altogether refrained, rather than any way (at least in public) insisted upon or decided.

3.  Because no minister can bring forth every truth at all times, he must then make choice; And I sup­pose some ministers may die, and all do so, who have not preached every truth, even which they knew, un­to the people.  Beside, there are (no question) many truths hid to the most learned.

Neither can this be thought inconsistent with a minister’s fidelity, who is to reveal the whole counsel of God; because, that counsel is to be understood of things necessary to men’s salvation, and is not to be extended to all things whatsoever; for, we find the great apostle expound­ing this in that same sermon, Acts 20, verse 20, ‘I have keeped back nothing that was profitable unto you;’ which evidenceth that ‘the whole counsel of God,’ or the things which he showed unto them, is the whole, and all that was profitable for them, and that for no by-respect or fear whatsoever he shunned to reveal that unto them.

[4.]  Also, it is clear, that there are many truths which are not decided by any judicial act; and amongst other things, sparingness to decide truths that are not fundamental judicially has been ever thought no little mean[s] of the Church’s peace, as the contrary has been of division.”



How Far Pastors are to be Believed

Richard Baxter

A Christian Directory: a Sum of Practical Theology and Cases of Conscience  Buy  (1673), pt. 3, Christian Ecclesiastics, Question 132, ‘Is it unlawful to obey in all those cases where it is unlawful to impose and command?  Or in what cases?  And how far pastors must be believed and obeyed?’, p. 889

“…Whether pastors are to be believed or obeyed any farther than they show a Word of God revealing or commanding the particular thing?  Divine faith and obedience is one thing, and human is another:

1.  If as a preacher he say, ‘This is God’s Word, believe it and obey it as such,’ you must believe with a human faith that it is likelier that he knows what he says than you do (unless 1. you see evidence, 2. or the consent of more credible persons to be against him, and then you are not to believe him at all).

Even as a child believes his teacher in order to learn the things himself, so you are so far to take his word while you are learning to know whether it be so or not.  But not to rest in it as certain, nor to take your belief of him and obedience to him, to be a believing and obeying God formally, though a duty.”



On the Pastor’s Duty for Evangelism


Gillespie, George – p. 48, ‘My second proposition concerning…’  in Ch. 3, ‘Of Greater Presbyteries, which some call Classes’  in Assertion of the Government of the Church of Scotland  (1641; Edinburgh, 1846), Pt. 2, Concerning the Assemblies of the Church of Scotland & the Authority Thereof



Samuel Rutherford

The Due Right of Presbyteries  (1644), pt. 2, p. 204

“Answer.  First, we hold that by a calling or ordination he is made a pastor; by election he is restricted to be ordinarily the pastor of his flock.

Secondly, a pastor is a pastor of the catholic Church, but he is not a catholic pastor of the catholic Church, as were the apostles.

Thirdly, the Reformed Churches may send pastors to the Indians, for that which Acosta says of Jesuits, we may with better reason say it of our selves: That pastors are as soldiers, and some soldiers are to keep order and remain in a certain place; others run up and down in all places; So some are affixed to a con­gregation, to feed them; others may be sent to those people who have not heard of the Gospel, which sending is ordinary and lawful in respect of pastors sending and the pastors who are sent, because in pastors, even after the apostles be dead, there remains a general pastoral care for all the Churches of Christ.  Thus sending is not ordinary, but extraordinary in respect of those to whom the pastors are sent; yet is it a pastoral sending [as opposed to this being absent in congregationalism in such a case].

…but a pastoral care for the Churches is not proper to apostles only, but only such a pastoral care by special direction from Christ immediately to preach to all,  2. Backed with the gift of tongues and of miracles; and this essentially differences the apostle from the ordinary pastor; but the former pastoral care to preach the Gospel to all nations, and to convert, is common both to the apostle and pastor.”



On Pastors Guiding Elders

John Calvin

Commentary on 1 Cor. 5, v. 4

“It is to be carefully observed, that Paul, though an apostle, does not himself, as an individual, excommunicate according to his own pleasure [in 1 Cor. 5], but consults with the Church, that the matter may be transacted by common authority.  He, it is true, takes the lead, and shows the way, but, in taking others as his associates, he intimates with sufficient plainness, that this authority does not belong to any one individual.”




“The pastor teaches sound doctrine (1 Tim. 3:1), often thrice in the week, which is in season and out of season (1 Tim. 4:2)…  The pastors, besides public preaching and praying in our church, are also to catechize the flock (Gal. 6:5; Heb. 5:12-13; 6:1-3; 1 Cor. 3:1-3), visit the flock (Cant. 7:11- 12; Eze. 34:4; Rom. 1:13; Acts 14:22-23,27; 20:17-18), are especially to exhort and pray over the sick (Jam. 5:14) and to strengthen the exercised in conscience (Job 33:23-24), and that in every house (as Acts 10:34; 5:42).”

Samuel Rutherford

A Defense of the Government of the Church of Scotland, 1642




Related Pages