No subject is more important, and yet no subject is perhaps, less appreciated than the relation of a pastor to the church. It has been well said, "He who fills well, the character of a Minister of the Gospel, occupies a position honorable in the estimation of the church and the world, and fearfully responsible in the sight of God." Upon the pastor is imposed the arduous duty of marching in front of the army of the Living God: - a position attended with responsibilities which require not only great intellectual ability, and moral courage, to meet and fulfill, but which can only be properly discharged by the man, in whom grace as a sovereign reigns. He is a plenipotentiary from the court of Heaven and ought to reflect in his character the glory of every attribute of God. As an appointed watchman over the interests of Zion her prosperity and welfare demands unfaltering vigilance on his part. As a soldier of the cross of Christ he is required "to put on the whole armor of God," and go forth to battle enlisted for life, following the captain of our salvation, "through duties and through trials too."
As a pastor or "overseer of the church of God," he assumes an office which imposes upon him duties and cares and responsibilities, attended with temptation, trials and discouragements which are at times almost overwhelming. The pastoral office then, is not one of indolence or ease, it is no easy bed upon which the ignorant or indolent may repose uninterrupted, by labors, cares and study. So far from this, man cannot fill a station in life attened with cares more oppressive; anxieties which none but the experienced can appreciate and mental labor ardent, protracted and almost ceaseless, and often prosecuted under circumstances well nigh calculated to prostrate all the energies of human nature. Well might the poet sing that beautiful stanza so familiar to us all -
" 'Tis not a cause of small import,
The pastors care demands;
But what might fill an Angels heart,
And filled a Saviours hands."
And yet such is the class of men towards whose support, church members, are too often disposed to dole out a miserable pittance of 25 cents or a dime, a pittance more frequently wrenched from the iron grasp by the force of public opinion than by the influence either of the Divine commands upon the subject, or a proper view of the discharge of a religious duty. From this class of church members, we hear unceasing murmurings, about preachers, and preachers salaries; too many calls in the present day to aid benevolent objects; such a constant drain upon their purses &c. The Plaintive tones upon this subject, would almost incline one to believe, that this class of brethren were in this way oppressed almost beyond human endurance. But let such be a little further catechised, and it will be found that the complaints, and groans of such brethren are much more wieghty than their contributions. Our object is not to cast reflections upon such brethren. Evidently improper views of the subject have led them to believe, or at least to imagine that a ponderous burden has been placed upon their shoulders 'too grevious to be borne.'
Whilst if they would investigate the matter, in the absence of all jealous parsimony they would doubtless find that they have not only failed to give according to their ability, but have perhaps annually expended fourfold the amount of their pastoral contribution, in some useless luxury.
Surely these brethren are from some cause laboring under a great mistake. The attention of such brethren surely cannot have been specially directed to the various passages of the Holy Scriptures, in which the duty of liberally supporting pastor is so clearly taught and enforced. It is very remarkable, too, that this same class of brethren, are pecularily sagacious and sharp-sighted, in their own estimation, as to ministerial qualifications; rigid and exact, in requiring of ministers a prompt discharge of duty, on their part; astute critics as to the manner and matter of preaching, always insisting that the preacher should, be very careful to insult no one; that he ought to dot every i and cross every t with the greatest carefulness. They can bring even their own pastor, to ridicule before a vain public; join issue with the doctrine preaches, weigh him in all points carefully; carefully quote scripture with apparent facility, to condemn him, if he should happen to weigh a feather too light in their estimatimation, in any point in his character. But let such members, be brought up to the standard on pastoral support, and their memory seems to have become perfectly oblivious to all such Scripture passages as, I Corinthians 9th chapter, 14th verse; and Galatians 6th chapter, 5th verse. We may finally conclude as the subject of pastoral support, rests on voluntary contribution exclusively, and not upon taxation, each individual being left to the dictates of his, or her own mind and conscience; one general prinicple only, can be safely laid, as our guide in the
matter, which is, that each individual member is boudn by the unerring law of Heaven, to pay, according to his ability, and the necessity of this case. Nor is that amount to be regarded as a gift, or charitable donation, for it is the payment, of a just debt - a debt created by our covenant relations at the church of Christ, and sanctioned and required by teh authority of High Heaven. With this view of the great duty hinted at, no good soldier of the cross, will ever dare attempt to skulk from the discharge of his duty.
We must then perform it cheerfully, liberally, and promptly, for it is said "the Lord loveth a cheerful giver," and "the liberal soul shall be made fat." Let every church members then in bounds of Greenup Association resolve, that in future this great duty, shall be faithfully performed on his part. This is a debt we all honestly, and justly owe, and is too often lesft as one of the last to be paid. This is not as it should be.
Let us then henceforward, by a liberal support of our ministers and pastors, untie [unite] their hands, from secular pursuits, that they may go forth, free and untrammeled to proclaim to a "world that lieth in wickedness," the unsearchable riches of the Gospel of the Son of God. Then indeed shall the redeemed of the Lord return 'and come with a singing and Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head; they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.' Isaiah
ART. 1st. This Association shall be composed of members chosen by the different Baptist Churches in our union producing letters certifying their appointment.
ART. 2nd. The Association when convened, shall not have, or exercise, any Episcopal power over the chruches, but shall it infringe any of the internal rights of any chruch in the union.
ART. 3rd. Every Gospel Church is free, according to the written Word, to believe and act according to that divine rule of faith and practice.
ART. 4th. The Association when convened, shall be governed by regular and parlimentary rules of order, and by such as it may hereafter adopt.
ART. 5th. The Association shall have a Moderator, Clerk, and Treasurer, who shall be anually elected by the suffrages of the members present.
ART. 6th. New churches may be admitted into our union, which shall petition by letter and delagates, provided they be orthodox and orderly, maintaining missionary principles, and gospel discipline.
ART. 7th. The Association shall furnish the churches annually with the minutes of its proceedings, by the annual contributions of the churches which shall be sent by their delegates for that purpose.
ART. 8th. The Clerk shall record the proceedings in a book kept for that purpose, and shall be paid a reasonable salary or his services.
ART. 9th. The delegates from each church shall be required to bring in their letter a statistical account of the number baptized, received by letter, dimissed, excluded, restored, and that have died the preceeding year, and the number then in fellowship.
ART. 10th. The principle of associational compact by which a union is formed and perpetuated in Baptist churches and Associations, is voluntary and indepentent,and shall not be otherwise construed by this Association.
ART. 11th. No previous article in this Constitution shall be so construed as to limit the power of the Association to wihdraw from any church which may become heretical, or disorderly, or shall violate any article of this Constitution, and continue so to do.
ART. 12th. Each church shall be entitled to three lay representatives, together with its ordained ministers, and for every additional 50, over 100 members, it shall be entitled to additional representative.
ART. 13th. The Constitution may be altered or amended at any annual meeting, provided the proposed amendment shall have been submitted in writing, and is concurred in by two thirds of the delegates present.
ART. 14th. The Association will not receive or, hold in fellowship any church or individual that habitually makes, buys, sells, or uses as a beverage, alcohol liquors, and shall withdraw from any such.
ART. 15th. The Association shall have power to adjourn to any time and place it may deem fit.
ART. 16th. The Association shall have power to enquire into the causes, why any church or churches in its union fail to be represented in its annual meetings.
ART. 17th. This Association may have a fund to be raised by voluntary contributions, which fund shall be placed in the hands of the Treasurer, be paid out by him according to the direction of the association, and be accounted for to the Association at each annual meeting.
ART. 18th. The minutes of the Association shall be read and corrected if necessary, and then signed by the Moderator and clerk before the Associaiton rises.
The committee on Rules of Order was then called on to report, and their report was on motion received, and the committee discharged.
On further motion, the report on Rules of Order was adopted, and is as follows:
RULES OF ORDER
1st. The sittings of the Association shall be opened and closed with prayer.
2nd. The letters from the churches shall be read, and the names of the delegates enrolled by the Clerk.
3rd. Only one members shall speak at the same time, and address the Moderator standing, and while speaking shall not be interrupted any except the Moderator.
4th. A member while speaking shall strictly adhere to the subject, and use no words calculated to irritate the felling of a fellow-member.
5th. No member shall absent himself without leave of the Moderator.
6th. No member shall speak more than three times to the same subject without leave of the Moderator.
7th. No member shall have liberty of laughing or whispering during the time of business.
8th. No member shall address another by any other title than that of brother.
9th. The Moderator shall not interrupt any member any member, or prohibit him from giving his views, unless he depart from the subject, or violate this decorum.
10th. The Clerk shall call the roll as often as the Association shall require.
11th. The Moderator shall have the same privileges as another member, provided his seat be filled, but he shall have to vote unless the Association be equally divided.
12th. Every motion made and seconded shall come under the consideration of the Association, unless withdrawn by the member who made it.
13th. Any member who violates any of the foregoing rules, shall be reproved by the Moderator as he thinks proper.
FORM OF A CHURCH LETTER
____________ The Church at ________ sendeth greeting ________ Dear Brethren of the Greenup Association: for the purpose of maintaining that friendly union hitherto existing among us, we send as our delegates to represent us in the next annual meeting of your body _______ _________ __________ __________. We have received since our last report by Ex[perience] and Baptism ____ Deceased ____ Total ____ viz Whites ____ Colored ____. By order of the Church at a regular Conference. ____ ____ Ch. Cl'k.
[From Greenup Baptist Association Minutes, 1857, pp. 6-8. This document was typed from a microfilm copy obtained from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Library, Lousiville, KY. The author is not known; the punctuation is unchanged. - Jim Duvall]
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