Your Christian temperament can be a blessing & a curse

My dad used to tell me (or was he warning me?) that a man’s greatest strength can also be his greatest weakness. Charles Bridges elucidates this axiom in the context of Christian ministry. The text is addressed to pastors but it’s extremely relevant for Christians in any walk of life:
We may here also refer to the influence of our Christian temperament upon the character of our Ministrations. It is natural, and under due regulation important, to carry the peculiar bias of our mind into our Ministry. Every man is formed to think, and speak, and write in a manner of his own; and he will be far more useful in preserving his own manner (improved by comparison with others, but never wholly forsaken), than by enslaving himself to some popular mode. But let it be known, watched, balanced. It has its evils as well as its advantages. A speculative mind is apt to speculate in sacred Ministration-to discuss subjects in a train of argumentation, which divests them of their heavenly unction and simplicity. An accomplished mind may be in danger, even in the evangelical field, of furnishing more food for the imagination than for the immortal soul. A doctrinal Preacher mainly confines his Ministration within his favorite chapters and class of subjects. An experimental Preacher, awakened by the terrors of the law, will imbue his preaching more with the character of alarm, than of tenderness. Or if he has been “drawn by the bands of love,” he may be led almost unconsciously to omit the “persuasive” influence of “the terror of the Lord.” A practical Preacher having seen the loose profession resulting from exclusive views of doctrine or experience, perhaps leaves his statements bare, or imperfectly connected with either. An applicatory Preacher may fail in giving clear and connected statements of doctrine. A discriminating Preacher may be in danger of perplexing his hearers with refined distinctions, drawn more immediately from his own spiritual exercises, than from the clear system of the word of God. A decided Preacher will need a deep tincture of humility, forbearance, and love; else his “zeal will be without knowledge,” and his labor prove the occasion of almost unqualified offense. It is therefore an important exercise of Ministerial wisdom, not to frame our preaching to the bias of our own mind, without great self-distrust, much earnest prayer, and a clear persuasion, that it embraces within its range, alike I the converted and the unconverted, and is equally calculated to awaken and to establish; to “add to the Church,” and to strengthen in the Church, “such as shall be saved.”
-Charles Bridges, The Christian Ministry (Banner of Truth Trust, 2006 reprint), 308-09.

The Law brings men to Christ…Christ returns them to the Law

A brief “drive-by” post in the form of a quote by Charles Bridges from his book The Christian Ministry. In a chapter entitled “The Scriptural Mode of Preaching the Law” Bridges considers the benefit of the Law for the unconverted and for Christians:

Glancing for a moment at the relative aspects and uses of the law, we remark—As a covenant, it excites “the spirit of bondage unto fear;” humbling, alarming, convincing, and leading to despondency. As a rule of life, under Divine conduct, it exercises in the Christian “the spirit of adoption”—his habitual desire, and delight in conformity to it, witnessing his interest in the family of God. As a covenant, the law brings men to Christ for deliverance from its tyranny. Christ returns them to the law as their rule: that, while they are delivered from its dominion, (“that being dead wherein they were held,”) they “might serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter” (Rom 7:6). And thus they show their gratitude to him for his perfect obedience to it as a covenant in their stead, by their uniform obedience to it as to it as a rule in his service.

Agree or disagree? Discuss amongst yourselves.

‘Affluence is eating up the life of spirituality’

…. “I am sorry to say, that worldly prudence, and the desire of making provision for families, not only for necessary things, but for gentility and affluence, is, in my opinion, eating up the life of spirituality, and simple trust in the Lord”[1]… Admitting even that our income allows this indulgence of expensiveness, yet is it not a point of Christian forbearance to refrain? Is it not most important to show, that our heart is not set upon these things; that Christian plainness and simplicity are our deliberate choice; and that it is a matter of conscience, and of privilege, to devote to the service of God the expenditure, that might have been wasted upon ‘[paneled] houses'[2] or other useless decorations?

-Charles Bridges, The Christian Ministry

[1] Thomas Scott, Illustrative Notes on the Pilgrim’s Progress

[2] Haggai 1:4

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