Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I'm a relative Schmuck...

William Gouge

During my studies these past three months I have been working on profiles for each of the 130 plus Divines that made up the Westminster Assembly. The Assembly was convened in 1643 and lasted almost 6 years. It was made up of pastors and doctors from England and Scotland primarily. Most of the Divines would be labeled as Puritan in that the believed in Sola Scriptura and reforming the Roman Catholic vestiges that remained in the Church of England. Almost to a man these Divines suffered for their convictions before the Assembly and after. If they were not fortunate enough to die before 1662 they were ejected from pastoral office when the "Act of Uniformity" was passed requiring ministers to practice various objectionable superstitious ceremonies in worship services. Many of these ministers were left destitute because of their convictions.

In reading biographies of the various Divines I have been continually stuck by their pastoral diligence, faithfulness to the Word of God, love for the truth, and deep care for the flocks they shepherd. Indeed, in comparison to many of these pastors of the mid 1600's, I am a total pastoral schmuck.

Consider William Gouge for a moment. Biographer James Reid writes-

Mr. Gouge's ministry was highly beneficial to many souls. After he had finished his public labors, on the Sabbath day, some neighbors, who were without helps in their own families, came to his house, where he repeated his sermons to them in a familiar manner, which they found to be highly useful. Afterward, he visited the sick in his parish, or such as could not attend the public ordinances. And he knew well how to avail himself of the advantages of their circumstances. He also carefully examined his parishioners, especially before they were admitted to the sacrament of the Lord's supper. He considered himself as the devoted servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, and of his church; and he highly esteemed, and greatly delighted in, the service of his Royal Master. He lived in all humility, and in singleness of heart unto the Lord Jesus Christ.

Consider also Reid's account of Joseph Caryl-

His labors were great; his studies incessant; his conversation unspotted: his charity, faith, zeal and wisdom gave fragrant smell among the churches and servants of Christ. His sickness, though painful, was borne with patience and joy in believing; and so he parted from time to eternity under the full sail of desire and joy in the Holy Spirit. He lived his sermons.

Joseph Caryl

The Puritans are often caricatured unfairly and inaccurately. Those Puritans who were part of the Westminster Assembly were pious, faithful, humble, scholarly, and diligent. Each was willing to suffer greatly for biblical convictions, and most did. To be honest, reading about these ministers makes me realize how little I am like them.

1 comment:

Woody Woodward said...

Schmuck… you’re not. I remember at my former place of worship, the “rock star” pastor could not even be personally contacted except through his personal secretary’s email. To get him on the phone, impossible! To have a one on one meeting, only if he considered it important. Glad we have pastors who are approachable and even have a since of humor.