Charles J. Brown was born in Scotland in the year 1806. He belonged to that valiant group of men who broke away from the Church of Scotland to form the Free Church of Scotland in 1843. He was one noted for his piety and godliness. It was said of him that he possessed, “a rare combination of intellectual power and spiritual earnestness, proceeding from a mind and heart full of the treasure of the Word”. He wrote a book recently reprinted on the work of the preacher entitled The Ministry1. It consists of a series of public addresses delivered on various occasions.
The author begins with what must surely be the most important factor in any ministry – godliness. Astonishing as it may seem there have been, and still are, unconverted men in the Christian ministry. Without true conversion to God a man cannot possess any form of godliness. Such a man, Brown solemnly reminds us, is an enemy to Christ. He goes on to say that to imagine that Jesus should commission an enemy for any such service is out of the question. Christ calls only truly converted men into the ministry, and it is only such who are given sufficient grace and strength to carry out such a function.
However, in order for converted men to draw on the grace needed they must be those who are living at the very fountainhead of that strength – drawing supplies of it, by ceaseless prayer, for the finding of suitable subjects and themes from week to week”. The minister must be a man of prayer, but not only a man of prayer; he must be a man of the Word. We are warned, though, against “an unholy familiarity with the things and themes of the Scripture”. Gladly we are also reminded of a godly familiarity, “the sacred volume becoming more and more a minister’s bosom companion and friend”. It is not enough that a man be converted to Christ; he must also “keep his heart with all diligence”. We are challenged to “be much in secret prayer, especially in the morning of each day. Guard against the temptation of running away from your knees to study, because you seem to get little comfort or good from your devotions”.
Brown goes on to deal with matters relating to Public Prayer; Preaching, its Priorities, Place, and Power; and Elements of Pulpit Power. In the appendix section there are helpful points on the Plan of Sermons; Introduction – Conclusion; and some wise council on Pastoral Visitation. We are warned against overly long prayers in public and the misuse of Scripture in our praying. Some practical hints are offered for public prayer. In connection with the minister’s pastoral visits we are reminded that it “will be of small power without good preaching on the Sabbaths”. Yet, lest we think we can neglect our pastoral responsibility, he goes on to say, “the best preaching will lose much of its power without the systematic visiting of the flock at their homes. Some guidelines from the author’s own experience are provided for our consideration. We are treated at the end of the book to a sermon of Charles Brown on Genesis 3:24, “So he drove out the man”.
This little book can be read in a relatively short period of time. Its contents though need digesting and carrying out. Under God, our pulpits and congregations, and our nation for that matter, would be all the better for listening and acting upon the truths expressed. Iain Murray states in his Biographical Introduction, “Had these lessons been remembered the state of Scotland would be far different from what it is today where one may see what was once the New North Church on Forrest Road” (the church where Charles Brown ministered for some forty seven years) “converted into the Bedlam Theatre”.
Addresses to Students of Divinity
Charles J. Brown was born in Scotland in the year 1806. He belonged to that valiant group of men who broke away from the Church of Scotland to form the Free Church of Scotland in 1843. He was one noted for his piety and godliness. It was said of him that he possessed, “a rare […]
Taken with permission from the March-April Protestant Truth
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Your Church and the Priority of Worship 11 February 2020
9 And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, 10 And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall […]
Amen — ‘A Sound Like Thunder’ 4 February 2020
Usage certainly varies. There is the sonorous ‘Amen’ from the pulpit to which the response is total silence. There is the elaborate musical ‘Amen’ which in some congregations is considered to be the appropriate finale to the service. There is a congregational response which ranges from a perfunctory mumble to a virtually non-stop background sound. […]