I make it my particular intercession from Palm Sunday to Good Friday to pray for all Anglican ministers who are preparing Easter sermons and services, that they will present clearly the truth of Christ’s death and resurrection and to call the unconverted to faith in Christ. Some are more gifted in personal presence or in felicity of expression than others but every ministers’ faithfulness to the gospel or their impassioned personal plea of the gospel rests in their own heart, the heart that is held captive by God’s astonishing grace and is thus filled with compassion for the lost and an urgency driven by love.
This came home to me again early in March as I began writing the summaries for our reading group on à Brakel’s The Christian’s Reasonable Service. His third point pierced me deeply in his exhortation to faithfulness in our calling that ends the chapter on the offices of presbyter and deacon. It brought me to my knees almost with the completion of reading it:
“…the salvation or damnation of precious and noble souls hinges upon your labor. When view a church full of people, be reminded that every person has an immortal soul and by nature is traveling on a broad road to destruction – a destruction which will be everlasting. There are no other means whereby they can be helped but by you in whose mouth the Lord has placed the word of reconciliation. If you allow them to go their own way, they will be lost. Whose soul would not be moved to help them? If somone has but fallen in the water, everyone will cry for help and do whatever he can to help. How moved one ought to be when reflecting upon eternal destruction of men according to body and soul! You, having been sent by the Lord Jesus to help them, ought especially to be moved. Would you not, as much as possible, combine all your skills to help them by instructing, exhorting, and rebuking them, and thus take such souls by the hand to draw them out of the fire, removing them from the gate of hell and bringing them to the feet of Jesus?” [2.153]
Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s wrote of his congregation in the same vein:
“As I was walking in the fields, the thought came over me with almost overwhelming power, that every one of my flock must soon be in heaven or hell. Oh, how I wished tht I had a tongue like thunder, that I might make all hear; or that I had a frame like iron, that I might visit every one, and say, ‘Escape for thy life!’ Ah, sinners! you little know how I fear that you will lay the blame of your damnation at my door” [Memoir and Remains, p. 148].
Pray for your ministers.