f o r


b y

E l d e r W a l t e r C a s h



Marceline, Mo.

Copies may be obtained from:

The Primitive Baptist Library
416 Main Street
Carthage, IL 62321

(217) 357-3723


THE MINISTRY ................................ 1-16

Definition of Terms ....................... 1
Variety of Gifts .......................... 1
Authority Conferred in Ordination ......... 1
Work of the Ministry ...................... 2
Time to be Wholly Devoted ................. 2
Study Necessary ........................... 2
Not to Please Men ......................... 3
Teach what the Bible Teaches .............. 4
Error not to be Passed in Silence ......... 5
Responsibility for Wrong Practice ......... 5
Preach Practical Godliness ................ 6
Doctrine to be Taught ..................... 7
Exhortation Equal with Doctrine ........... 8
Personal Influence ........................ 8
Interest in the Children .................. 9
Comforting the Bereaved ................... 9
Funeral Services .......................... 9
Visiting the Sick ......................... 9
Undue Levity .............................. 9
Devotional Exercises at Homes ............. 10
Outside Appointments ...................... 10
Respond to Church's Demands ............... 10
Preach All the Word ....................... 10
Understanding Character ................... 11
Cultivating Gifts ......................... 11
Members to Take Part in Services .......... 11
Pastor to Direct Services ................. 12
Pastor Must not do Everything ............. 12
Experience or Covenant Meetings ........... 12
Talks on Experience ....................... 13
Pastor's Duty to His Family ............... 14
Must not be Afraid to Work ................ 14
Should not Preach for Salary .............. 15
Living off the Labors of Others ........... 16

QUALIFICATIONS OF ELDERS .................... 17-23

Must be Called of God ..................... 17
Character Specified ....................... 17
Desire for the Work ....................... 17
To be Blameless ........................... 18
Vigilant, Sober, of Good Behavior ......... 18
Given to Hospitality, Apt to Teach ........ 18
Not Given to Wine, No Striker ............. 19
Not Covetous .............................. 19
Ruling His Own House ...................... 19
Not a Novice .............................. 20
A Lover of Good Men ....................... 21
Reputation Outside the Church ............. 22-23

AN APPEAL TO THE MINISTRY ................... 24-29

It is a Life Work ......................... 24
Neither Wealth nor Ease Promised .......... 24
Responsibility ............................ 24
Contend for Divine Pattern ................ 25
Preach What is Needed ..................... 25
Educating to Oppose Truth ................. 26
Agreement Among Ministers ................. 26
Ill Effects of Jealousy ................... 26
Leaving Churches in Disorder .............. 27
Should not Drift .......................... 27
Should Contend Earnestly .................. 27
Shall we be Faithful ...................... 28-29

THE DEACONSHIP .............................. 30-64

Neglect of the Office ..................... 30
Importance of the Subject ................. 30
Chastisement for Neglect .................. 31
Return to Authorized Practice ............. 31
The Term in the New Testament ............. 32
Connection with the Lord's Supper ......... 32
God's Plan Embraces Deaconship ............ 33
God's Plan for the Church Complete ........ 34
The Seven were Deacons .................... 34
Fund to be Maintained ..................... 34
No Fund, no Need of Deacons ............... 35
NECESSITY FOR DEACONS ..................... 35-37
To Take Charge of Church Funds ............ 36
Not Simply to Report to Church ............ 36
The Office not Needless ................... 36
DUTY OF CHURCH TO DEACON .................. 37-39
Duty not to the Man ....................... 37
No Right to Annul Work of Office .......... 37
Ignoring Deacons is Contempt .............. 38
Alms-Giving in Secret ..................... 38
God's way Through Deaconship .............. 39
DUTY OF DEACONS ........................... 39-54
Pastor Should Instruct .................... 40
Qualifications for Special Work ........... 40
Deacons to Feel Responsibility ............ 40
To Supply all Who Need .................... 40
To Equalize Burdens ....................... 41
To Labor with the Covetous ................ 41
Sin of Ananias and Sapphira ............... 42
Dealing with Covetous Members ............. 42
Should Keep an Account .................... 43
To Collect as Needed not Right ............ 43
What Each Member should Pay ............... 44
Distributing to the Poor .................. 45
Incidental Expenses ....................... 45
Should Look after Pastor's Needs .......... 46
Pastor not to Bear Expenses ............... 47
Preacher to Live of the Gospel ............ 47
Might Waive his Right ..................... 48
Wrong to Bear Church's Burden ............. 48
How Much Pastoral Service ................. 48
Strong to Help the Weak ................... 48
Pastoral Service Intended ................. 49
Church Defrauds Itself .................... 49
A Church that Asked Too Much .............. 49
Deaconship to Help Ministry ............... 50
Making Good the Time for Study ............ 50
Should not Wrong Pastor's Family .......... 51
Other Expenses of the Pastor .............. 51
All to Bear Burden of the Ministry ........ 51
The Minister's Burden ..................... 52
The Part of Other Members ................. 52
Members have the Lightest Part ............ 53
Costs Something, but not Much ............. 53
Cause of Present Condition ................ 53
What Can be Done? ......................... 54
Other Work for Deacons .................... 54
To Lead in Good Work ...................... 54
QUALIFICATIONS OF DEACONS ................. 55-64
He Must be Grave .......................... 55
Caring for the Sick ....................... 55
The Widows and Orphans .................... 56
The Old and Infirm ........................ 56
The Number of Deacons ..................... 57
Influencing the Members ................... 57
Encourage the Babes in Christ ............. 57
Not Double-Tongued ........................ 57
Not Given to Wine ......................... 58
Must Not be Covetous ...................... 58
Holding Faith in Pure Conscience .......... 58
Should be Proved .......................... 59
Deacons' Wives ............................ 60
Qualifications of Deacon's Wife ........... 60
Ruling His House Well ..................... 61
Results of Using Office Well .............. 62-64

ORDINATIONS ................................. 65-68

The Presbytery ............................ 65
Qualifications of Candidate ............... 65
Examination of Candidate .................. 65
Form of Ordination ........................ 66
The Charge ................................ 66
Deacons not Presbyters .................... 67
Annulling an Ordination ................... 67
Licensing Ministers ....................... 67
Certificate of Ordination ................. 68

PARLIAMENTARY RULES ......................... 69-72

Presiding Officer ......................... 69
Calling Meeting to Order .................. 69
Addressing the Meeting .................... 69
Making Motions ............................ 70
Amendments to Motions ..................... 70
To Lay on the Table ....................... 70
Business Referred ......................... 70
Motion to Reconsider ...................... 70
Call for Previous Question ................ 71
To Suspend a Rule ......................... 71
Committees ................................ 71
Appeal from Moderator's Ruling ............ 71
Common Errors ............................. 72

CHURCH MEETINGS ............................. 73-76

Obligation to Attend Meetings ............. 73
Be Prompt to Time Appointed ............... 73
Order of Business ......................... 73
Invitation for Members .................... 73
Reference ................................. 73
Matters Touching Fellowship ............... 74
New Business .............................. 74
Special Meetings .......................... 74
Two Services Saturdays .................... 74
Keeping a Record .......................... 74
Inquiring after Absent Members ............ 75
Obligation to Vote ........................ 75
Right Behavior ............................ 76
The Communion Service ..................... 76

RECEIVING MEMBERS ........................... 77-79

Must be Born Again ........................ 77
Should be Indoctrinated ................... 77
Bring the Feeble into the Church .......... 77
Unwarranted Instructions .................. 77
Form of Receiving Members ................. 78
Baptism ................................... 78
Restoring Members ......................... 78
Receiving by Letter ....................... 79
Receiving by Relation ..................... 79

LETTERS OF DISMISSION ....................... 80-81

ERRING MEMBERS .............................. 82-85

CHOOSING A PASTOR ........................... 86-87

CONSTITUTION OF CHURCHES .................... 88

FINAL NOTICE ................................ 89


In presenting this work to the household of faith my desire
is that it may be compared with God's word and that only such
parts of it as are in harmony with Divine Authority may be
But I would ask for it a careful reading and that it may be
judged impartially. I have written it with a deep desire to
benefit the churches by calling their attention to practices that
seem to me to be scriptural, and which, if they are, ought not to
be neglected, and cannot be neglected by God's people with His
My first intention was to treat only of the deacon and his
work, but at the request of brethren the work has been extended
to embrace suggestions upon practice generally, and I hope that
it may be helpful to the household of faith.

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There is no authority in the New Testament for but two
classes of church officers--Elders and Deacons.
It is admitted by all scholars that the terms "Bishop" and
"Presbyter," or "Elder" and "Pastor" are one and interchangeable
and refer to but one class of church officers and all of equal
The apostles, it is true, rank above bishops or elders, but
they have no successors in office. They were called in person by
the Lord Jesus, and one of the qualifications of an apostle was
to have actually seen Jesus in the body after the resurrection.
They were inspired to write and teach with infallibility, and so
long as their writings are received, all who claim to succeed
them must be accounted liars (Rev. 2: 2).
The apostles are called "Elders," (I Pet. 5: 1; II John 1:
1), and the term is not used either with the same signification
as in the Old Testament references to "Elders" or rulers, for the
church of Christ has no rulers over it, nor can there be any
organized body, of whatever character, above the church. The
apostles did not make laws, but taught what Christ commanded
(Matt. 28: 20). Each gospel church is the highest ecclesiastical
authority on earth, but it has no power to make laws.
The elders, bishops, or pastors, are to take the oversight
of the flock, (I Pet. 5: 2), not, however, "as being lords over
God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock."--I Pet. 5: 3.
Deacons are to have charge of the funds of the church, (Acts
4: 34, 35; 6: 2,3), looking after the poor and any who may need
help, and to act as "servants" of the church in any matter where
they can act efficiently. That the deaconship is a fixed office
is indicated by I Tim. 3: 13.
The apostles as establishing officers of the church embodied
within themselves all offices, and at first took the labors of
both elders and deacons. This they had a right to do as a part
of the work committed to them to set in order.
Soon, however, a division of the work was made, (Acts 6),
and the work as then classed (Acts 6: 3,4) should now be observed
in our churches. An elder should not attempt to take to himself
the right of an apostle and do the work of the deacon in
connection with his own work, but should take up the work
assigned him in the church by the apostles of our Lord, and
insist, as it becomes his duty to do, that the church set apart
brethren qualified to do the work of deacons, and then instruct
both the church and the deacons in the work required at their
As it becomes his duty to deliver the whole counsel of God,
he should firmly maintain all things as given in the New
Testament pattern. He cannot do this and let the church do away
with the office of deacon.
The Roman Catholic church teaches the intolerable heresy
that the church, as represented by the Pope, is infallible and
can make changes of any kind, such as to substitute sprinkling
for immersion in baptism, etc. But it will never do for
Primitive Baptists to assume such power, or to fall into such
practices. If we are to live up to our high claim of being the
church of Christ, the practices as well as the doctrines of the
Bible must be lived up to. That we do things in name, will not
be sufficient. We should have pastors and deacons in fact as
well as in form. It may be said of too many churches that they
have a pastor in name and deacons in name, but they have neither
pastoral service nor the work of the deaconship among them.
Can we expect God's blessing while we neglect His word and
have only a crippled and deformed organization instead of the
body designed by the Great Head of the church?
I think not. God's word teaches that he will not approve of
our course when we neglect or change His statutes.
But the pastor may say that he is doing the best he can
under the circumstances; that he must provide for himself and
family if the brethren do not do so, and that he cannot give as
much time to the ministry as the field demands. Here is exactly
the difficulty to a great degree. A church that ignores the
deaconship cannot have proper pastoral service. Lack in either
service works against the other and between the shortcomings of
the two the poor church barely lives, and that at a dying rate.
It is not that the pastor can save the church, nor that a
good deacon can make a church a live one; but it is this: The
Lord will not bless the church that is indifferent to His word,
and either adds to it or takes therefrom.
"For I testify unto every man that heareth the prophecy of
this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add
unto him the plagues that are written in this book; and if any
man shall take away from the word of the book of this prophecy,
God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of
the holy city, and from the things that are written in this
book." -- Rev. 22: 18, 19.
Primitive Baptists, in view of all this, let me appeal to
you to consider this matter prayerfully, searching God's word to
learn what is the duty of a pastor of a church, the duty of a
deacon, and God's plan for providing for the pastor, and for the
poor of the church, and for the watchcare over all the members.

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As before stated, the terms "Bishop" and "Presbyter," or
"Elder" and "Pastor," designate but one class of officers in the
church, and no one term indicates a pre-eminence over the other
as to rank or degree.
An "Elder" is one whom the church judges to have received a
special gift which enables him to preach the word to the
edification of the church, and who, being approved in walk and
conversation, is set apart to the gospel ministry by the solemn
form of imposition of hands and prayer by a presbytery, which is
called ordination. He may or may not have special charge of
particular churches.
A "Presbyter" is an elder who, by virtue of his office,
participates in the ordination of an elder or deacon, or work of
like nature.
The term "Bishop" is not in much use among Primitive
Baptists, probably because of the almost universal misuse of it
by most religious denominations, but in meaning would about equal
the term "Pastor" in common useage, which is an elder who has
active oversight of a church. He is not more or less an elder,
but his relations to the church are changed.
In the church various gifts are recognized. "And he gave
some apostles, and some prophets; and some evangelists, and some
pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the
work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ."--
Eph. 4: 11,12.
The ends for which any gift is bestowed are here set forth
and churches and presbyteries should not lose sight of these
things. One may claim to have a "call" to preach, but if his
exercise does not tend to "perfecting" the saints, and is not
edifying, to ordain him an elder would be a mistake that might
plague the church for many years. For when one holds the
position of elder, if the honor that attaches to the office is
withheld, trouble is provoked.
Many have gifts to benefit the church and would be
profitable to it if not put into the ministry. Some can offer
prayer in public service; some relate in an edifying manner the
Lord's dealings with them; others can give timely and profitable
exhortations, and each and all who can be so drawn out ought to
be encouraged that the church may have the benefit of all the
gifts that have been given to it. "How is it then, brethren?
when ye come together, every one of you hath a song, hath a
doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an
interpretation. Let all things be done to edifying."--I Cor. 14:
But before a brother comes under the imposition of hands let
the brethren be persuaded that he has, indeed, been called of God
to the work of the ministry, for God must send ministers (Matt.
9: 38). The laying on of the hands does not confer any gift or
power now, as the apostolic power ceased with the apostles, and
it is now only a solemn recognition of God's gift, and conferring

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authority to do certain things in the name of the church (Tit. 1:
After ordination a brother is recognized in all the churches
as having authority to baptize persons who may have been received
by the church, to administer the Lord's supper, and he may be
called to the pastoral care of churches.
It is his principal business to preach the Word. When the
work of the apostles' was divided and a portion assigned the
deacons (Acts 6: 3), the part left for the elders was to give
themselves continually to prayer and the ministry of the Word
(Acts 6: 4; I Tim. 4: 15). That they should give themselves
continually to prayer indicates with what weight they should feel
the responsibility resting upon them, and that their faith in God
to still lead and care for his people should be in lively
The ministry of the Word requires work in and out of the
pulpit. Speaking to the multitude upon the grand theme of
redeeming love is the ministry of the Word, but no more so than
comforting the poor, trembling, inquiring child of God by
speaking to him privately of the work of the Spirit in his soul.
Paul wrote to Timothy that he was to "meditate on these
things; give thyself wholly to them, that thy profiting may
appear to all."--I Tim. 4: 15. He who is to serve the churches
to their best interest, and as contemplated in the New Testament,
must follow this injunction. His service cannot be what it
should be if his mind and efforts are concentrated on worldly
work and time objects. "No man that warreth entangleth himself
with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who hath
chosen him to be a soldier."--II Tim. 2: 4. If the churches are
to be benefitted to any great degree, the minister must devote
his life to preaching the gospel.
One of the reasons for this fact is that if he is obliged to
give his attention to other things his mind will not be fruitful
in spiritual things, but will be burdened and cold, and his
sermons and conversation cannot be as helpful to the church as
though he gave himself to the contemplation of divine things.
Another reason for giving himself wholly to the work is that he
may inform himself in what has been written for our learning.
Paul said to Timothy that he must "give attendance to
reading." No minister can tell what is in God's word without
having read or heard of its contents.
Some ministers learn a few things and then seem to stop
reading; at any rate, when you have heard them preach a few times
you have heard all they have to say, and they use the same
arguments and illustrations again and again. If they could take
time, and would use it, to study God's word, they would have an
inexhaustible fountain of thought and expressions from which to
draw. "To show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth
not to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth."--II Tim.
2: 15.
No man can preach acceptably and profitably to the hearers
without study. It is not to be understood that he must go to

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college and study theology, as men teach it, but he must study
God's word that he may know the will of God concerning his
people, and that he may conduct himself properly in the house of
One of the ablest preachers in Missouri, a few years ago,
was a brother who learned to read after he was married. He made
the sacred word a study, however, and that without helps, and
became a strong defender of the doctrine of grace and was held in
high regard by all the churches as an able minister of the New
Testament. While it will widen the mind to read extensively with
discrimination, no writings should supplant the Holy Scriptures--
these must be read by the minister who desires to benefit his
hearers and glorify God by his service. It is refreshing to
listen to the minister whose heart is full of the Spirit and
whose mind is stored with information got from the Bible.
The idea that the Holy Spirit enables the minister to lay
before his hearers what is in the Bible without having studied
it, is arrayed against the judgment and purpose of God in giving
the inspired word.
The things contained in the scriptures are useful and
necessary to the welfare and happiness of the children of God. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable
for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in
righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, throughly
furnished unto all good works."-- II Tim. 2: 16.
It should not trouble his mind whether he will be approved
of men--God's approbation is what is to be desired.
Early in my ministry this thought was impressed upon my
mind. An old, gray haired brother wanted me to abandon a
position that I had taken as to the practice of the church. He
said that he was doing just as his father before him had done,
and I did not doubt his word. I was young, and knowing that any
change in church practice is generally regarded as a movement to
leave the old paths, I knew that with this old brother and others
I was likely to be looked upon as bringing in new things, and
this would make trouble. I could get their favor by going
according to their ideas of right.
Which would I do? Would I obey God or man?
It was my first hard struggle of the kind, and for that
reason made such an impression that it can never be forgotten.
I decided to obey God, and have been thankful ever since
that an approving conscience in that case has given me courage to
be in a great degree unmoved by the opinions of those who have
abandoned the apostolic practice.
Brethren in the ministry, we must give an account to God of
our stewardship, and not to men. So what good reason can we give
for not always contending for those doctrines and practices which
have the mark of apostolic authority?
Many a minister has allowed his churches to practice, and
has practiced himself, things that he was persuaded in his own
mind were wrong, and could not be called apostolic. Yet he could
not bring himself to bear the disapproval of men by turning to

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the right. It would have shamed him to confess it, and yet it
was true that in his actions he cared more for the approval of
men than for the approval of God.
It is often the case when brethren want to oppose a practice
advocated by a minister they report that he is unsound in
doctrine. Brethren have tried this course toward me, and I feel
it is possible this will be one of the weapons used against this
work--my humble effort to call the attention of brethren to
apostolic practice. If so, I hope brethren will be as fair
toward me as I feel toward them, and will state my error plainly
and try to recover me from it.
"But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned,
and has been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them."
--II Tim. 3: 14. One of the trials of my early ministry was the
fact that the churches having had the services of a worthy and
able minister in doctrine, were well established. I did not feel
that I could instruct them in this direction, for I realized they
had the advantage of me in years. But I saw where in practice
there were many things lacking. I soon found, however, that they
did not like to hear these things, as their tastes had been
educated rather to relish the sweets of the covenant of
redemption than to enjoy hearing all things commanded them to do. But I knew the Savior's instruction, "Teaching them to observe
all things whatsoever I have commanded you."--Matt. 28: 20.
A very humble and good brother said to me in regard to my
manner of preaching, "Brother Cash, you can see by the effect
your preaching has what is best to preach. When you preach about
what the Saviour did for sinners, the brethren all have their
heads up and are full of rejoicing. But when you get to talking
about what we ought to do, they sit with their heads down and the
meeting is a cold one."
I had weighed this brother's argument many times, for I had
observed the effects as stated, and the inclination was strong to
preach what was best received.
What preacher does not have a strong inclination to preach
to please his hearers, especially his brethren? But it is a
dangerous and delusive influence and always leads away from the
truth and the right.
It was not a pleasant thing to tell David of his sin; but it
was right to do it. When the Spirit testified by John to the
churches, how nice it would have been if they might all have been
commended. But when there is imperfection, there should be
I said to the brother, who was endeavoring to show me the
better way, "My brother, do you believe I have preached anything
that God's word does not teach?"
"O no, Brother Cash," he said, "but I was only indicating to
you what kind of preaching the brethren liked best, and which
seemed to me to do the most good."
"But," said I, "if I preach the truth, and the brethren do
not receive it gladly, who is to blame? Does it not rather
indicate that there is something wrong with them? And if so,

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would not I be doing wrong to encourage them in their course by
passing it by in silence, as though they were following Christ?"
I think it is a dangerous thing for a preacher to pass
anything in silence, simply because brethren do not want to hear
reproof. It does not please our ears to hear wherein we are
wrong. But to this end the minister's labors should be directed,
to supply the things that are lacking, and set in order the
things of the Lord's house (Tit. 1: 5).
But it is a common thing for ministers, when discussing
church affairs, to admit that there are many things not as they
should be. Yet when they get up to preach they utter no word of
reproof or rebuke to the church, but direct their whole discourse
to proving that the Arminian theory is false, which every
Primitive Baptist present knew before a word was spoken. Now, if
we are the Lord's ministers, it is traitorous to the cause we
represent to say to the church by our actions that it is
immaterial whether the Lord's commands are obeyed or not. We do
not have to say, "Brethren, I, myself, would like to see you do
this or that," but we should say, "These are the things commanded
by our Lord, and he has sent me to cry aloud and spare not" (Isa.
58: 1).
Why should a minister assume the responsibility of letting
things to wrong about the house of the Lord when He has given
special charge that we should show Israel her sins? It seems
evident to my mind that we spend too much of our time on
Arminians as compared with the time given to putting the house of
the Lord in order.
If a shepherd should get so interested in keeping the wolves
away from the flock as to forget to feed them and let them
starve, he might be accounted a very valiant shepherd, but
certainly not a very wise one.
To be prudent he would provide plenty of food, and
administer promptly to the sick lest disease spread. If hunger
and disease devastate the flock what good will defense do.
May it not be the case that lack of a spiritual ministry,
and that errors and sinful practices being unchecked, have been
the cause of the dispersion of many of our flocks?
If a church is wrong in practice, the pastor is to blame for
it, for it is his duty to lead the flock. I do not mean to say
that the pastor is altogether to blame for the conduct of the
members as individuals, but here have reference to the wrong
practices of the church as a body. If the pastor does his duty
he will not only instruct the church in apostolic practices, but
he will insist that these practices must be followed.
Many ministers shrink from pressing such matters on a
church, fearing they will seem to be assuming too much authority
and lording it over God's heritage. But a little reflection will
make it plain that it is the business of the servant to do his
Master's will, and that so long as he confines himself to the
commandments of His Master he assumes no responsibility whatever.
But if he sees the will of his Master neglected and spurned,
and does not resent such action, and cry out against it, he,

- 5 -

himself, has in fact, rebelled against his Master and is no
longer entitled to claim that he is faithful to God who called
The last words of the Master to those who were to go forth
to preach the gospel were, "Teaching them to observe all things
whatsoever I have commanded you."
Now no one should feel at liberty to teach that this means,
teaching them to "believe" all things, and then that believers
may stop short of doing the things commanded, for "faith without
works is dead, being alone." Jesus said, "If ye love me, keep my
Jesus likens the man who hears his words, but does not do
them, to a foolish man who builds his house on the sand; but he
said, "Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I
will liken him unto a wise man which built his house upon a
rock." "Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter
into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my
Father which is in heaven."
These, and many other scriptures, put much stress upon
actual obedience to the commands of our Lord. Can any minister
remain silent while the church is indifferent to the practical
duties which the inspired word lays upon the church and its
Not only should he preach to the church practical godliness,
but the congregations that attend the services should know what
we believe in regard to the requirements of churches and members.
This would, in a great measure, be an answer to the criticisms of
the world against our churches.
Several years ago my attention was called to this by a
brother asking me why it was that all our ministers preached
doctrinal discourses on Sunday, and if they spoke on practical
things at all they did so on Saturdays?
Said he, "The world does not know that we think there is
anything to be considered at all but doctrine."
I felt the reproof of his words and on that Sunday preached
before a mixed congregation the commandments with greater weight
of responsibility than I had felt before, for I realized that
there might be some in the congregation whose hearts had been
opened to hear the truth, but whose minds might have been
prejudiced against us by designing persons who represent all who
believe in grace alone for salvation as being careless of gospel
obligations, if not actually immoral.
Then there are many members in the churches who hear so much
more doctrine than exhortation that they do not at all take
kindly to reproof and rebuke, though very careless of their walk
and conversation, and their obligations as members of the church
of Christ.
If they heard the word of God rightly divided they would get
a greater proportion of instruction in righteousness. "All
scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for
doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in
righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, throughly

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furnished unto all good works."
The scriptures are profitable for doctrine. Certainly no
minister can pretend to preach the gospel without preaching
doctrine. Our churches would not tolerate such a preacher. The
Arminians would endeavor to bring all professors together by
refusing, as they say, to preach doctrine, which divides people,
and simply preach Christ. But Primitive Baptists know that
Christ can not be preached without preaching the doctrines of the
Bible, for doctrines are simply the facts. One might hear an
Arminian preach without being able to decide to which
denomination he belonged. But no one who knew the doctrine of
grace ever heard a Primitive Baptist without recognizing the
glorious doctrine of salvation by grace, be it told ever so
None of our preachers would preach for a church which denied
or would not receive the doctrines of predestination, election,
etc. It is a safe principle to lay down that if one is to do
anything right, and for a proper purpose, the doctrine of the
Bible must be accepted. In this particular our people stand
apart from all the world.
But because we give doctrine its proper importance, can we
be excused from finding in the same scriptures which teach
doctrine, the reproof, correction and instruction in
righteousness with which they so abound? Surely not! The church
must "suffer the word of exhortation." In apostolic times there
was need that they "exhort one another daily," and certainly
there is no less need of exhortation now. Those who neglect to
exhort to every good work, and to faithfulness in the house of
God, cannot claim to declare the whole counsel of God, though
what they preach may be the truth, and they may be very bold in
defense of the doctrine of grace.
I stood by the bedside of a loved and honored soldier of the
cross in his last sickness and when he was in view of the end of
his life. He said to me, "What I have preached I believe to be
the truth. If my life was to live over again I would preach the
same doctrine--in it is the only salvation for a sinner. But
some things I have neglected. I have never told the churches
their duty to the ministry, and this I regret." He said he
realized that had he done this it would be easier for the younger
men in the ministry.
What he said caused me to consider my own course. How would
I finish up my life? This dear old brother was dying in triumph,
and during the greater part of his ministry had borne all the
burden of his work himself. His had been a life of self-
sacrifice and he stood firm, a powerful advocate of his Master's
cause. It may be thought that he had a right to do this, and
that all the more honor was his because of his self-sacrifice. But he did not feel so, and said like Paul that it was wronging
the church not to let it carry its own burden. Paul said,
"Forgive me this wrong." The wrong that he had been guilty of
was not asking the Corinthians to minister to his necessities,
for instead of doing so he had taken help of others to do this

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church service (II Cor. 12: 13).
So while I considered the matter I concluded that it would
be better to teach the members of the church of Christ to
"observe all things."
Not only should the duty of members to the ministry be
taught, but the walk and conversation that becomes all who have
named the name of Christ should be clearly pointed out, not once
only, but continually, and every transgression should be
reproved, and if need be sharply. Not always should this be done
from the pulpit, for the pastor of the church should labor
personally and privately with the members of his charge to
forsake every evil way and to be found diligently inquiring the
way and walking in it (Jer. 6: 16).
While the influence of a good minister in the pulpit is
great, it can be greatly increased by personal contact with the
members of the church. To wield the greatest influence he must
visit the members at their homes and learn their surroundings.
In the hardships of their lives they should have his kindly
affection, and be made to feel that they can confide any and all
troubles to him and find sympathy. He should be worthy of such
esteem from all the members of his churches as to be an intimate
friend with whom there are no reservations regarding the affairs
of the church, and the fullest confidence is enjoyed. By such
association his influence may reach its greatest usefulness in
controlling and directing the lives of those under his charge.
The tactful pastor will find many opportunities to condemn the
wrong and point out the right, and good use should be made of all
of them.
It is his business to raise the lives of the members of his
pastorate above reproach by every method within his power. He
must see that they are not only sound in the faith, but that
their walk and conversation are such as become Christians; and in
no way can he do this more effectually than by being with them in
their homes and conversing with them on spiritual matters.
Then there are in the congregations of most churches persons
who are born again, but who find it difficult to make profession
before men by going before the church. These should be
encouraged, and perhaps no means has as much influence as to have
the pastor of the church talk to them about their hope and their
duty to the Lord. Of course all the members of the church should
feel it a duty and a privilege to talk to inquiring persons, and
the pastor should continually encourage them from the pulpit to
do so; but he can most effectually lead them by giving them an
example in earnestness regarding the welfare of those who are
inquiring to know their duty.
The children of Baptist parents are no doubt often led
astray and join Arminian organizations because the members of
these organizations manifest so much interest in the children
just at a time when they are troubled in mind and want some one
to lead and instruct them, at least to manifest a kindly interest
in their welfare, while the members of the church of Christ fail
to do their duty, saying nothing to them on religious subjects,

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offering no sympathy or fellowship, and do not exhort them to go
home to their friends. They do not pursue this course from real
indifference. The members may often be heard to speak to each
other of certain persons giving indications of serious thought,
and conversation closing with the remark, perhaps, "I would be
glad to see them come to the church;" but the neglect is the
result of habit, a habit formed because the pastor does not
remonstrate against it, and perhaps does not show the interest he
feels in the children of members of the church.
Certainly it would be right for him to manifest an interest
in the children of parents who are not members of the church, but
it is presumed that all Baptist parents desire that their
children will become members of the true church when the Lord
quickens them into life, and would gladly have the pastor's
influence in that direction.
A pastor of a church is expected to comfort by his presence
and words the bereaved when death claims a victim in the families
of his pastorate. Here the close relationship of the pastor and
the members will find expression in the deep sympathy of the one
and the loving confidence of the other, and such occasions may
serve to bind the whole church together in closer ties. For as
we have fellowship for Christ in his sufferings, so are our
hearts drawn out to each other in the hour of affliction.
I will remark here that I was never favorable to a custom
that used to prevail to a greater extent than now, of having
funerals preached at some time after the burial of the dead.
There may be instances of the decease of old, or influential
members of the church, when circumstances prevent a general
attendance at the time of the interment, when the labors and
faith of the dead might be remembered in a service later with
good results to the church and to the community, for funeral and
all other services, should be held with a view to benefitting the
living. But, commonly, funeral services should be conducted, if
at all, at the time of the interment, and they should be short
and of such character as to impress upon those present the dire
results of sin and the consolations of the gospel, avoiding all
recitals that would excite the grief of the bereaved, and any
undue eulogy of the dead--simply preach Christ.
The pastor should visit the sick. When racked with pain and
burned with fever, the sufferer yearns for sympathy, and when it
is received it will long be remembered. It is the pastor's
opportunity to show his interest and to do a good deed. His
demeanor should be cheerful, his words full of kindness, love and
hope. His visits should be remembered as a bright ray of
sunshine, full of the hope, buoyancy and gospel joy that would
help the sick to meet what sufferings must be borne. "Pure
religion and undefiled before God the Father is to visit the
fatherless," etc.--James 1: 27.
Never under any circumstances must the minister of the
gospel engage in undue levity, or let his conversation be
otherwise than is becoming to his calling. He must shun vain
babbling and filthy conversation. "Let no corrupt communication

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proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of
edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers."--Eph. 4:
29. The habit into which brethren sometimes fall, of indulging
in vulgar jokes and stories is very reprehensible and should be
discouraged by all. "Let your speech be always with grace,
seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every
man."--Col. 4: 6. Anger must not move him to speak rashly, for
this would be to forget that he is a minister of Christ. But he
mut be cheerful, full of thankfulness for all of the Lord's
blessings, rejoicing in spirit, hopeful and patient, and his
conversation should bear out that character.
He should encourage the practice of devotional exercises at
the homes of the members, especially when he visits them. It
will have a beneficial effect, if when the family are assembled
before retiring, he will read a chapter and comment upon it, and
then bow humbly before God and pray his blessings on the
household. I have no doubt this is well pleasing in the sight of
God. The pastor must not forget that he is to minister in
spiritual things at any and all times when opportunity offers.
It will be to the advantage of the church for the pastor to
preach at different points in the neighborhood of the church. By
so doing he will often find persons who receive the truth gladly
and will be easily induced to attend the regular services at the
church. This will extend the limits of the congregation and add
to the influence of the church correspondingly.
It is often beneficial to hold a meeting of several days at
the church. Sometimes no good might come of it, so far as could
be observed, but at other times the members seem to desire to
meet and hear the Word preached, and the whole congregation is
observed to take more than ordinary interest. I have observed
that at meetings continued under conditions named, sometimes
persons who have long neglected their duty to join the church are
given courage to go forward and yield obedience to the Master.
The demand on the time of the pastors of churches is
constant and pressing. The Lord makes it his duty to serve the
church and it becomes his duty to answer its calls in every need.
He is not the servant of the church in the sense that its demands
are authority for his actions, for to God only is he accountable,
and the Lord is his Master. When the church demands that for
which the Lord has not given authority, the minister is not bound
to respond, except in reproof for the departure. The Lord's
commands must be to him the supreme command.
He is to dispense from the pulpit the pure word of God, its
doctrines, its exhortations, its reproofs, its promises, its
instructions in every direction, and give each part of it when
and where needed, "rightly dividing the word of truth."
Are there persons who are longing for the sincere milk of
the word, he must try to unfold its essentials for their benefit;
are the members growing careless in their lives and failing to
maintain godliness in walk and conversation, he must not let a
man-fearing nor a man-pleasing spirit stand in the way of
reproving them as the word of God directs. Sometimes general

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reproof, that is, the mentioning in a general way, of certain
courses that members should not follow, without indicating by
word or manner that anyone present is guilty, will have the
desired effect, and will cause those who are dropping into the
error to forsake the wrong and pursue the right. In such cases
the pastor must be tactful, remembering what humanity is, and
taking every advantage possible of it (2 Cor. 12: 16) to subdue
it that the flesh may not rule the church. Some members require
petting, while others cannot endure such treatment. "To the weak
became I as weak, that I might gain the weak; I am made all
things to all men, that I might be all means save some."--I. Cor.
9: 22.
This treatment of members according to their different
dispositions must not be allowed to foster their weaknesses, but
the strengthening of their characters must be kept constantly in
mind. A pastor who has the cause of Christ at heart, must study
his members to find their weaknesses that he may strengthen them,
and he must learn in what direction lies their greatest strength
that he may use them for the best interest of the church. When
he understands the members of the church he must not hesitate to
assign them work suited to each character. It would be a grave
error to assign work to the hand that could only be done by the
eye; but there is a work for the hand. Often much confusion gets
into the church by poor judgment being exercised in assigning
work to the members, or else permitting members to follow their
own impulses. If the hand attempts to do the work of the eye,
the matter is made worse instead of being properly done. And
brethren ought to be guided to a great degree by the pastor, if
he is known to give his attention to ascertaining what is best
for the church, for he has better opportunities for knowing what
is best. But if a pastor is known to be deficient in judgment,
then one of the deacons should be encouraged to take the
direction of matters, as, indeed, the deacons should be forward
to do at all times. The pastor should always consult with the
deacons about the affairs of the church for his benefit and their
The pastor should make special effort to bring out the gifts
that are in the church. Some have the gift of prayer; some have
the gift of exhortation; and others will be found who are able to
strengthen the church if their gifts are put into exercise. To
this end the pastor must not preach his church to death, using
all the time himself. However able the pastor may be, the church
needs all the gifts the Lord has placed in it, and their lights
ought not to be put under a bushel, they should be placed where
they will give light to all that are in the house (church).
I have found it a great help to the church, and to the
development of the members, to call on several members at each
service to take part. One brother can select a scripture to
read, and comment on it as much as he desires; another may make
choice of a hymn that expresses his feelings, and if he so
desires may call attention to the spiritual truth of the words;
then let some brother or sister offer prayer. Preachers often

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pray too long and include too many things, seeming to exhibit
their ability to pray for everything needed by mankind. But if
some humble brother kneels before God he will feel a proper
degree of solemnity and will pour out his soul in prayer without
making it an elocutionary effort. His words may be few, but they
will be sincere; they may be awkward, but they will be spoken in
the fear of God; he may feel that he has made a very poor effort,
but most likely he will have given expression to a petition in
which all can join.
Let the hymns sung be chosen, not by the leader, but give
the brethren and sisters an opportunity to select the hymns and
all will feel a renewed interest in the words because they will
no longer be the words of the poet only, but they will now
express the trials, the hopes, the fears and the faith of a
brother or sister present.
When the pastor calls on members to take part in the
services he must not allow them to excuse themselves. As pastor
of the church it is his duty to direct such matters, and his
judgment must be followed, for the Holy Ghost has made him
"overseer" (Acts 20: 28). If one member is excused, others may
be, and finally it will fall back to the bad practice of the
pastor doing everything, which no minister who regards the
welfare of the church will do. One of the deacons may be called
upon to take charge of the meeting and then when the pastor is
not present he will not feel embarrassed to do so.
A church trained to let the pastor do everything is helpless
unless he is present. If the pastor or other minister is not
present at meeting time, the members disperse without any
service--without song, prayer or scripture reading.
My dear brother Pastor, let me implore you in the name of
our dear Redeemer, who will accept the praise of the lowliest of
the flock, do not bind the church with such a fetter as the
unscriptural practice of doing everything yourself. It is
harmful every way and blighting in its effect. "For ye may all
prophesy, one by one, that all may learn, and all may be
comforted."--I. Cor. 14: 31.
Then, every few months, let all the members who can be
induced to do so, take part by telling the dealings of the Lord
with them. These are feasts for the pastor and also for the
members. There are but few who will not in time talk to the
I remember at one of these meetings, after a brother had
told his experience, an old sister arose from her seat, went
across the room and gave the brother her hand, saying, "I can't
tell it like you can, but I can feel and realize the same
things." Thus did she publicly bear testimony to the dealings of
the Lord with her. Such a course as this will draw out all the
gifts and those who are calculated to edify the church can be put
into their proper positions. The talks of the older members will
do the younger members more good than sermons by the pastor, for
these talks re in fact notes taken along the actual walks of

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I remember at a meeting at my own house one night, a young
sister, who had just united with the church, related in a very
connected manner some of her experiences. After she had closed,
an aged sister told of her past trials and present feelings. When she had finished, the young sister asked if she might speak
again to tell how much she had been encouraged and strengthened
by the talk of the old sister. It was to her like passing over
life's experiences and seeing the close of her own life if she
should live to be old.
A minister may so preach as to get the fellowship of the
brethren, but if the brethren have warm fellowship for each other
they must talk with one another.
I shall never forget what an old deacon of my home church
said once. He was very willing to do his part as far as he
could. When we met he would read a chapter, or have a chapter
selected for some one else to read, or suggest a hymn that
expressed his sentiments, but he was not in the habit of offering
public prayer or speaking before the church. He arose at one of
our meetings, however, and said, "Before I die I want to tell
those who are members of this church now my reasons for
entertaining a hope."
Said he, "I have seen most of you come to the church and
have heard you relate the dealings of the Lord with you, and in
this respect have the advantage of you, as you have never heard
me speak of my trials." He then spoke of his life from boyhood
up, and we who were young got great encouragement from his talk. His life had seemed so far above us, and judging that his
experience of mind and heart had been as much removed from ours
as his life seemed to be, it was a revelation to hear him tell of
the same hopes, fears and trials that we had experienced, and
learn that he, like the rest of us, had to live by faith.
Young members as they come into the church should be induced
to talk before the church, and not be allowed to form a habit of
remaining silent. Older members who have not been in the habit
of speaking in public should take some part in the meeting. If
they do not think it for their own benefit, they should do so
that they may set a good example for the young members, that they
may grow up active and useful.
The Lord's work in the heart of a poor sinner is of more
importance than anything in the world, and the pastor of a church
should not get so intellectual as to let the Lord's children
forget His work, "His strange work." They should speak of it
often and tell it to the generations following them.
These "heart-talks" should be encouraged at the homes of the
members, and, in fact, everywhere. Many a troubled soul would be
glad to hear some one's "experience" that it might learn if,
indeed, there is hope for the vilest and weakest of all. But
such are often discouraged by hearing professed Christians join
in unbecoming conversation, and hearing them talk with great
interest upon everything else but God's love and the wonderful
gift of grace.
Primitive Baptists contend that there must be a work of the

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Spirit in the hearts of men that they may have a good hope in
Christ, and we should not drift with the world to disregard it;
but, instead, we should make this the first thing of importance
to the sinner, and the more he is brought to contemplate it and
talk about it the better for him.
A pastor who has a family owes the same to them as any
husband and father. He must protect and care for the woman who
has forsaken all others to depend upon him. His children must be
cared for, and should have his personal training and watchcare. Of course he cannot be with them as much as though he was not in
the ministry, for he will need to visit among the members of the
church, and to fill his appointments. But he need not go away
from home and leave those depending on him in need to serve
churches that are able to help him and his family. He should not
neglect his duty as a minister to make his family independent in
this world, he must in a measure trust their welfare and his own
in the hands of the Master. But he must not forget his
obligation to them and give his service to churches that are able
to bear the burden of what pastoral work they have. It is a very
nice point for a man to decide just how much he must do for his
family, and it ought to be considered with prayerful heart. One
thing is certain, when the Lord calls a man to the ministry he
does not absolve him from the responsibility of caring for his
family. But he must not attempt to provide wholly for them by
his own labor, for that will hinder his ministry, especially if
he is a poor man.
If the minister is unmarried as was Paul, and an industrious
and tireless worker for the cause, he can do much good, for it
will take little for his necessities and need cost him but little
thought. But if he has a family his labor is very much
increased. His wife and children must look to him for support,
for in the economy of God's government of the world, the family
tie is the most sacred, and its obligations the most binding of
any upon men. A man who is indifferent to his obligations as the
head of a family is not worthy to put into the ministry. One of
the qualifications of a bishop is that he must rule his own house
well and have his children under subjection. How is he to do
this if he does not exercise all the obligations of the head of
the family?
His family should not be proud and extravagant, but should
live in a humble way, all learning to be industrious, and to do
some work, for there is no room in God's government of the world
or the church, for those who are lazy and inclined to do nothing.
He must not be afraid to soil his hands by labor, but must
make an earnest effort to provide all necessaries for those
depending upon him. Laziness, and a disposition to live off the
labors of others, will soon bring a minister into disrepute among
Primitive Baptists.
Jesus was reputed to be the son of a carpenter, and no doubt
labored with his father until he began his public ministry. Paul, though entitled to a support from the churches, (I Cor. 9:
6), labored with his own hands (Acts 20: 34) that he might

- 14 -

minister, not only to his own wants, but to others as well. An
active life will conduce to health, if judgment is exercised, and
a certain amount of bodily exercise will help the mind to
meditate on spiritual things.
Then, if a pastor knows something of the labors and
privations of life, if he has profited by his own experience, he
will get into the affections of the people all the deeper.
The servant should not be above his Lord, and as our Saviour
trod the lowly walks of life, His ministers will have more
fellowship for His sufferings if they bear some of life's
A minister should never preach for a stipulated
consideration, but for Christ's sake. It is his business to
preach whether men will withhold or whether they will contribute. Of course he cannot spare so much of his time from caring for his
family if he is not helped, but he can preach all the time he can
He has been bought with the precious blood of Christ, and
has hope of eternal deliverance because of God's grace and mercy. So his life belongs to the Master and he has no right to set a
price upon his labors. If he preaches the pure gospel of Christ
there will always be a place for him to preach and his
opportunities should be improved.
The system of fixing salaries for ministers is corrupting in
its influence. Instead of trying to please Christ, men endeavor
to get their salaries raised; instead of being devoted to their
flocks, they are always looking for a better paying position. Raising money for the salary of a preacher, with Arminian
denominations, gets to be a grinding weight on their shoulders,
as is evidenced by their trying to shift it on to others and
resorting to all kinds of schemes, gambling included, to get
The Primitive Baptists can never resort to paying salaries
to get pastors, nor should our ministers ever stoop to sell the
word of God at so much a sermon or by the year.
When he obeys his Master and preaches the Word, and men do
not communicate, it is beneath the dignity of his calling to say
he will refuse to preach the glorious doctrine of grace because
others fail to appreciate God's mercy in administering spiritual
comforts to them; but he may turn to others where his labors are
better appreciated. He should not leave a church until he has
told the members plainly of their duty to the ministry. But when
they have shown such a covetous disposition that they will not
bear a fair share of the expense of pastoral work, though able to
do so, then he will be justified in turning from them to preach
elsewhere. It would be wrong for a pastor to take his time from
his family and give it to a people so covetous that they would
not minister to him of their carnal things (I. Cor. 9: 11). But
a minister should not covet riches, nor should he attempt to gain
them by neglecting the work to which God has called him. He
should be satisfied to live as his brethren live, and they should
not ask him to bear greater hardships than they themselves have

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to bear.
Some ministers make a practice of traveling from one church
to another and depend upon the churches to support them, having
no work by which to earn anything. This is living off the labors
of others and taking what justly belongs to the pastors of
churches. It is no doubt beneficial for able and faithful
ministers to visit churches, but for a minister to aim to live
off churches which have pastors they should assist, is certainly
an unwarranted practice, and should be discountenanced.

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To perform all the varied duties enumerated a minister must
have special qualifications for the work. The qualification
which stands pre-eminently above all is, he should be called of
God. A man may be ever so wise and learned, but if God has not
called him to the work he will not be able to edify the churches. And a man's call may be best judged by his being able or
qualified to edify. What he may claim as his "call" is not to be
taken as deciding the matter, the proof is in the effect that his
preaching has.
But even after it has been decided that a brother has a gift
to edify, there are certain character qualifications given in the
scriptures. Paul in his first letter to Timothy (I Tim. 3: 1-7)
states the qualifications of a bishop, and when writing to Titus,
his son in the ministry, gives the same qualifications for
elders, and uses the term bishop as interchangeable with elder. It may not be possible for any man to measure up to the highest
degree in the several traits mentioned, but he ought to have them
in view and be molding his character in that direction.
And the church should not allow too great a deviation from
the qualifications given, for it would ruin the usefulness of a
minister to have a character plainly at variance with the
scriptural standard. Church and minister ought to feel that the
interest of the cause demands that the minister shall maintain
such a character as will help instead of injuring the cause. If
the minister feels this, he will not resent a correction from the
members, for he will feel that as the interest of the church is
involved the members ought to be concerned about his life. Then
if the members realize that the minister's life may seriously
interfere with the prosperity of the church, they may feel under
greater responsibility to speak to him about any unbecoming
conduct or neglect of his duty.
I will notice briefly some of the requirements of elders of
bishops. The qualifications are such as relate to his duties as
a husband and parent as the head of the family, his moral
standing, and his fitness for his position as being apt to teach
and to benefit the church.
"If a man desire the office of a bishop he desireth a good
work."--I Tim. 3: 1. Some men desire the honor of the office,
but have no longing for the work. It would seem to be the
meaning of this text that if a man desires to yield himself a
servant of all, to preach, administer the ordinances of the
gospel, look after the discipline of the church, take the
responsibility of having the oversight of it, his desire is to a
work of much importance, and is in fact a good work, though it is
a heavy work. Some men take great delight in doing others good
and in giving much service to God. One of such disposition would
have some qualification at least for the office of bishop or
pastor of a church; but a man who had no willingness for the
work, nor a disposition to make the sacrifice necessary, would
hardly do much good in the office.

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Before men and the church he must not be chargeable with
immorality. It cannot mean that he is without sin, but
blameless, as Paul was in compliance to the law, for he said he
was blameless (Phil. 3: 6). It is ruinous to the church with
dishonesty, falsifying or other discreditable or immoral conduct. His life should be above blame.
In Titus 1: 7 it is said that the bishop must be "blameless
as the steward of God." This would require that he should
discharge the duties of his office in such a manner that he could
not be charged with neglect. Certain it is, in the light of both
these passages, the life and work of a minister would need be
very circumspect and he would have to be very faithful in the
discharge of his duty.
That he is to be the "husband of one wife" is understood to
mean that he must not have two wives living. It is thought that
this was written because polygamy was practiced up to the time of
the apostles. He may be unmarried as was Paul.
A slothful, indifferent pastor will neglect many things
about the churches that should receive his notice. He will not
give attention to matters that require immediate action. Small
things which will ultimately grow into important matters are
unnoticed. Lack of good discipline marks the church that is
under the charge of a pastor that is not vigilant. The vigilant
pastor will be on the watch to guard the interest of the church
and his congregation. He will be alert to stop such things as
will disturb the peace of the church and promptly check hurtful
tendencies, whatever they may be.
He must be "sober" or prudent, not given to reckless talk or
actions. His ways and conversation should indicate serious and
careful considerations of his surroundings. He must not try to
be wise above what is written, or think more of himself than he
ought to think. It is a reproach to a minister if his talk is
light and trifling. He must not forget his office.
He is to be of "good behavior" so he will not give needless
offense by his manner. Some men seem to take delight in being
coarse and ill-behaved, but it is certainly very unbecoming. He
should be a pattern in considerate, kindly actions that we may
have the respect of people, which is so necessary that he may
edify and instruct them.
One of the traits of a true follower of Christ is
hospitality. Mary and Martha showed delight at having the Savior
and His disciples at their house, and this is characteristic to
this day of Primitive Baptists, who never seem to have too many
of their brethren at their homes.
Now it is but reason that the minister should not be lacking
in this particular. To be otherwise would betray a selfish,
grasping disposition, entirely incompatible with the spirit he
ought to bear. It would have a tendency to isolate him and
interfere with the warm feeling that should exist between him and
the members of the church, and will hinder his influence for good
in the community.
Unless he is "apt to teach" he cannot be useful. He may be

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well informed, but if he cannot communicate his knowledge to
others he cannot benefit them. It is not enough that a man can
make a discourse that is appreciated by his hearers, he should be
able to lead the to understand and think more about the
scriptures, and matters pertaining to the church, so they may
become well established in doctrine and practice.
It is very hurtful for any member of the church to be "given
to wine," and especially so for a minister. He at once becomes a
reproach to the cause, and a burden to the church, and prompt
measures should be taken to have the practice discontinued. A
minister should be in a position to rebuke this evil, but if he
be given to it himself his reproof will have no good effect. The
scriptures have very many passages condemning the over-indulgence
of strong drink, and the safest way is to let it entirely alone. If it is used for medicine let it be under a physician's
prescription, as many have formed a taste for it by thinking they
needed it for their health. The safest rule is to let it alone,
and a minister should watch carefully that none of his flock are
overcome by it, for it is a great shame for a member of the
church of Christ to be seen under the influence of strong drink.
A minister should not be quarrelsome. He should be "no
striker." He should not be vindictive, desiring to injure those
who oppose him, but his methods should be characterized by
charity and forbearance for all. "The servant of the Lord must
not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach."--II Tim.
2: 24. It is very unbecoming in a minister to try to carry his
point by force or harsh measures. He should use gentleness, love
and persuasion. He must not be a "brawler."
Covetousness is strongly condemned in the New Testament, and
if a minister has an immoderate love for money it will certainly
destroy his usefulness. If his love of gain keeps him from the
ministry it will hurt him by claiming his time and absorbing his
mind until his services will amount to but little. If his
covetousness leads him to try to make gain of his office, he will
not be a faithful steward; for, instead of laboring for the good
of those whom he ought to serve, he will be turning everything to
serve self and make a gain of the churches. The example of a
covetous minister would encourage the evil among the members and
it is very hurtful to the cause. A pastor of churches should be
very generous and liberal, ready to bestow his means according to
his ability, for in this manner the members of his pastorate may
be led to be more liberal with their means which will result in
better care for the poor and the sick, and the loosing of the
pastor's hands that he may give himself to the cause of Christ.
Some ministers, who have plenty, refuse to accept help at
the hands of their brethren, but doubtless it would be better for
them to take what is offered, and then be more liberal in their
contributions to worthy objects, as their opportunities for
knowing of needy persons and worthy efforts are greater than that
of the members.
As the head of the family he is to rule his own house,
having his children in subjection with all gravity. It is not

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presumed that the pastor's children will be of better
dispositions than other children, and their evil natures will
likely be manifested. But he who is to have the care of
churches, which have in them people of so many different
dispositions, should show by the government of his own family
that he has the judgment and faculty to manage others. If his
family is immoral and vicious, and he has shown no disposition to
check and train them right, it will weaken his ministry by
standing in the way of his exhorting others to right living. If
a man shows no tact for managing his own affairs, it is not
likely that he will succeed in taking the oversight of the
church. He might get along smoothly with such churches as have
no unruly spirits in them, and where the members are disposed to
go in the right way, but in most churches there are times and
cases that try a pastor and if he is not equal to the occasion it
is bad for the church.
Some ministers' wives make trouble for them and interfere
seriously with their work. A man who is called to preach cannot
expect to do very good service and follow the dictation of some
one who is not called to preach, especially if that person is his
wife and she is inclined to be selfish. She will want to claim
his time as belonging to her, and will likely find much fault if
he does not receive a handsome recompense for his labor. She
will not be willing to leave it to his judgment as to what he had
best do, but will want to dictate to him. A man who does not
rule his own house, but who does the bidding of a wife who is
opposed to his preaching, will have a hard time serving churches,
and it may be will not be able to give them good pastoral
service. A wife should be in subjection to her husband, and
certain it is that a wife who is disposed to help her husband,
instead of ruling him, is the kind of a wife the pastor of a
church needs. Not only should she be of a disposition to further
him in his pastoral work, but to uphold his rule in the
household, teaching the children to be in subjection to their
father, not for his sake alone, but for the sake of the cause of
Christ, that the ministry be not blamed.
Churches sometimes make mistakes by putting men into the
ministry who have not been members of the church long enough to
be well established, and they make shipwreck of faith and cause
the church much distress. Those who are put into the ministry
should be well established in doctrine and have stability of
character that the church may not be shamed.
It is suggested in the text that he should not be a novice
"lest being lifted up with pride, he fall into condemnation of
the devil."--I Tim. 3: 6. Being newly come into the faith, his
elevation to an office of such distinction might cause him to be
lifted up with pride, and he be destroyed by it. It is but a
matter of time when a man will fall who is puffed up with pride
and is exalted in himself.
The tendencies of these times is to have young men in the
pulpits. A novice might not be a young man, but it is well to
try young men well, and know that they are established. It will

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do them no hurt and may save the church much trouble. Churches
sometimes get into trouble for not exercising due care, and
putting men into the ministry who have not been tried by
experience and afflictions until they have learned humility. When one has learned how weak he is, and that he does not know
all things, he has learned some things that are very essential to
a successful ministry. To be proud and haughty, disdaining
brethren of low estate, and trying to pass as wise in matters
pertaining to the church and spiritual things, are some of the
marks of a novice. As the peace and prosperity of the church
depends so much on the soundness, prudence and stability of the
ministry, no one who could be called a novice should be put into
this important office.
In Paul's letter to Titus (Titus 1: 8) he says that elders
should be lovers of good men (the margin reads good things). This is a mark by which a man's character may soon be known. A
man's character is to be judged from the company he keeps. If he
loves the company of the boisterous and the rude, he will not
have the influence that he ought to have, because the company he
seeks gives a true index to his disposition. If he seems to
enjoy best the companionship of the purest and most active
members of the church, the indications are good; he will seek to
lead all to love what is best in the church. But if he finds the
company of the tattler and busybody congenial he will probably be
found taking sides in the church in difficulties among the
His preference for good men should be so marked that it
should be well known that whoever comes into association with him
is being lifted up and made better in mind and character.
If the text be taken to mean "good things" it is all the
broader, and will apply to the whole life of the minister. In his
every-day affairs his preference for the good must be manifested
and his rejection of evil so pronounced as to be apparent to all. Such a man will not be accused of being a hypocrite, for it will
be seen that he is not simply trying to appear good, but that he
loves the good.
A minister, more than others, will be judged by what he
loves. He must not love worldly things too much. Its
amusements, riches, fame, honor, etc., must not be held in too
high esteem. He should love the Lord supremely and love
everything that emanates from him. He must love His law, His
church, His service and His saints, and this will make his life
pure, strong, cheerful and of much benefit to the church on
earth. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." The "pure heart" loves pure things. The minister's preference
for good and faithful men should be such that the members of the
church will feel that to be in harmony with him their walk and
conversation must be such as become the followers of Christ, and
if he has the influence with the members that a pastor should
have, it will lead them to higher and better lives.
It will not do for the church nor its pastor to be
indifferent to the reputation of the pastor outside the

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membership of the church. "Moreover, he must have a good report
of them that are without, lest he fall into the reproach and
snare of the devil."--I Tim. 3: 7.
If the pastor have not a good reputation as a man it will
hurt the church in many ways. He will be a constant reproach to
the church, which is very discouraging to the members. It is
very mortifying to members of a church to hear slighting remarks
about the pastor, especially if it is known that there are
grounds for the remarks. This has a tendency to break the
pastor's influence with the members of his pastorate, and it is
bad, indeed, for a pastor to lose the love and respect of the
brethren whom he is trying to serve. They lose their interest in
his preaching and grow indifferent to the privileges and duties
of the church.
Then if the pastor has not a good report of those without,
it diminishes his congregation and so limits the influence of the
church for good. Some persons will not attend our services
because they do not believe the doctrines preached, while others
are not so bitter against the truth, and if treated as they
should be, and if they respect the pastor and members, they will
attend; and when the Lord opens their hearts and ears they may
come into the church.
A pastor who has the respect of all who know him is himself,
in his life, a strong argument in favor of the cause he
represents and will strengthen the church. If such a pastor be
not a brilliant speaker, it will always be said in his favor,
"But he is a good man;" and this will outweigh many short-comings
in delivery, speech and wisdom, and will be worth more to the
church than a great gift of oratory and keenness of mind if it
might be said, "But he is crooked in his life."
Some preachers claim that they do not want to stand well
with the world, quoting "Woe unto you, when all men shall speak
well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets." But they ignore the fact that we are only blessed when men shall
cast out our names for evil for the Son of man's sake. There is
no commendation for those who are criticized because of their own
character and behavior. It is only when they have to hear the
taunts of men because of following Christ that they are exhorted
to bear it without murmuring. Being "cast out" for one's own
misconduct is a very different thing.
Some ministers get a bad report "without" because they have
no charity in their discourses for those who differ from them,
but use sarcasm and harsh epithets when referring to people of
other denominations. This does no good and only makes a bad
reputation among those who are without. Preaching ought always
to be in love and one does not make enemies when speaking in
love. It is very unfortunate for a church when the pastor, or
any minister who may preach for it, does it in such a manner as
to drive the congregation away. Once I heard a minister say, in
referring to the belief of a certain denomination, that he would
not want his dog to have such religion. There was no argument in
such an assertion, and it was very unkind to use it. The result

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was that some present said they would never come back again. It
was not the gospel of Christ that drove these people away, it was
unkind criticism of their belief, which could serve no good
Many preachers become unpopular with the people in this
manner and then attribute it to the doctrine they preach, when,
perhaps, it is rather the way they preach than what they preach. It is a very unreasonable course, because people cannot be
instructed without being interested, and cannot be interested if
offended, for no one who feels to be offended stops to reason. A
minister to have a good reputation must be just and liberal in
his dealings with all men, careful in conversation, and must shun
the very appearance of evil. He must preach faithfully the word
of God our Saviour, preach it in love without compromise in any
point, and yet seek to draw men to listen to the truth instead of
driving them away.

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Having briefly noticed some things pertaining to pastoral
work and the preaching of the gospel, I will make this appeal to
my brethren in the ministry. I trust that I feel the
responsibility of the work, and think I know something of its
weight and the sacrifice it requires.
There is no such thing as retiring a minister because of his
age--he must wear out in the harness. He ought so to live that
when he comes to the close of life it could be said of him that
he had fought a good fight, that he had kept the faith. The
memory and influence of this kind of a life should be esteemed a
richer legacy than a fortune in this world's goods. To have
faithfully devoted a life to serving the Lord's people is to have
spent it well. It would be better to be remembered among the
humble poor of the flock as a loving, firm and helpful pastor
than to have one's name enrolled among the great of the earth.
Preaching the gospel, and the pastor's ministrations, are
like giving cold water to the thirsty, and the Master has said to
give one cup of water in His name shall be rewarded.
The minister of the gospel is not promised wealth nor ease,
and none of us certainly could have entered upon the work with
these in view. Then if wealth and ease fail to be our lot we
should not feel disappointed. The Lord called all his disciples
to follow him and we ought not to complain when the Lord himself
has gone before us.
Self-servers have no business in the ministry. The minister
of Christ must serve his Lord and his brethren, and sacrifice
himself (II Cor. 12: 15). Personal interest must not be allowed
to dictate to him what he shall do. He should ask with a
prayerful heart what the Lord will have him to do, and when this
has been decided there should be no appeal from it, either to
serve self or to please men. This will not mean that one must be
harsh with those who differ from him, or that he shall try to
force them to the right way, for he must be "patient," willing to
contend earnestly for the truth in love, bearing the weaknesses
of the brethren for Christ's sake, not being overcome of their
evil or wrong way, but overcoming evil with good.
This is not a pleasant prospect to one who knows what human
nature is, yet a minister should take this course. He should do
so, feeling that the Lord can strengthen him and enable him to
endure all things.
Brethren, what a great responsibility there is in leading
the flock. In ancient times the leaders of the people caused
them to err; and are they not as liable to do so now? One can
but think of Israel when they were afflicted for David's sin, and
apply the same words to the churches which are led astray by
their pastors: "What have these sheep done?"
It is not infrequently the case where pastors blame churches
that they themselves are the cause of the disorder in the church. It may be the pastor's example has led them astray; or it may be
he has not preached to them the whole counsel of God and has left

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them uninstructed on many things; and on some things that they
knew to do, they have not been stirred up to diligence, and have
fallen into fault; or seeing they were in a wrong practice he did
not reprove them, or having reproved them once became passive and
did not insist that they should follow the right. This course,
though not generally considered as actually wrong, is perhaps as
blameworthy as to go wrong and suffer others to follow, for it is
the duty of the pastor to reprove and rebuke when necessary. If
he shall fail to do this the Master will not hold him faultless.
It is, perhaps, too often the case that pastors do not feel
proper responsibility for the churches and members. It would
awaken pastors to greater diligence if they felt they were
accountable in a great measure for disorder and declension in the
churches. When John was directed to write to the seven churches
he addressed the reproofs, admonitions, etc., to the "angel" or
minister of each church. Can a minister feel that he will not be
held to account for his stewardship, when the Holy Ghost has
given him oversight of a church to feed it and care for it?
Brother minister, as you look about you, do you not see many
things in the churches that ought to be corrected? And not only
in the churches but in the lives of the members. All these you
should strive to correct, but especially in the church you should
see to it that it is after the divine pattern. It is not merely
a difference of opinion between you and the brethren, in which
they are as likely to be right as you are, for then it would not
be right to consider the matter as very serious. But what the
Bible teaches you are not at liberty to surrender because some do
not have the right view of the matter, for if you were, a
preacher would not have to study what God's word teaches, but he
would need to ascertain the mind of those to whom he was
preaching and then either preach to suit them, or upon points
where they were at variance with the word of god, if his
conscience would not permit him to go with them, simply keep
silent upon those things. Would such a course be characteristic
of a true servant of God?
Oh, no, he must never, never, never give up the right! He
must ever have it in view and be striving, not only to go toward
it himself, but to bring others to it as well. It should
strengthen him in this struggle to know, and have full confidence
in the fact, that God will be on the side of the right to bless
and strengthen it. But you will "have need of patience that
after you have done the will of God ye might receive the
promise."--Hebrews 10: 36. We should not expect to receive the
promise while still in disobedience.
The church our blessed Redeemer gave us should be preserved
in form, and doctrine, and practice. How will you do this? By
preaching on doctrine when you know that practice ought to be
preached? When you go to a church should you not ask, "What does
this church need?"
If a servant went out to care for sheep and there was plenty
of corn in the troughs, but no water, and some were sick and
needed attention, yet he poured in more corn and went away, would

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his course be approved?
The Shepherd would say, "You should have given the thirsty
(poor souls needing encouragement) water (spiritual instruction),
and the diseased (erring ones) should have had medicine
Will you deliberately withhold from the erring what they
need because you think it will not be well received? When you
know that no member of the church is infected with Arminian
ideas, but that covetousness is keeping members away from the
church meetings, and forcing the pastor to carry on the warfare
at his own charges, and keeping him from receiving of the fruit
of the vineyard, or eating of the milk of the flock (see I Cor.
9: 7), will you then preach a sermon against Arminianism or
against covetousness, which?
If you preach against Arminianism under such circumstances
why do you do it? Do you do it to please God or men? Is this
considering the matter as it should be? Or would it not be best
to remember that to his own master a man standeth or he falleth,
and then tell the church what you think they ought to know, and
insist on their returning to such scriptural practices as you
know they have departed from?
I sometimes hear a minister say, "I know that is right, but
you would not dare to preach it at my church." Is it possible
that a church can get so far away from the right that it will not
do to preach to it the right way without giving serious offense! That is the spirit that put our Lord to death, and ought it to be
fostered in the churches? Any of us ought to be shamed that
would educate a church in that direction.
My dear brother, let us be honest with ourselves and
obedient to God, for if "God be for us," why need we care who is
against us? But God will be against us if we are not faithful in
our ministry, and the more friends we make by perverting the
gospel, or keeping back part of it, will only add that much to
our shame and confusion when we are brought to realize our
standing before Him.
As ministers of Christ we all ought to be working for one
end, the advancement of the church, and all should walking
together in harmony. True, men of different temperaments may not
be able to go together as companions, but they need not try to
destroy each other because they are not congenial in
dispositions. We ought to realize there are places where one
minister can do no good, when another might work successfully and
accomplish much good.
So, instead of standing in the way of others, let us help
them all in our power and make it manifest that we pray the
Lord's blessing on their labors. See Mark 9: 38-42.
Nothing so ill becomes a minister of Christ as jealousy. He
would make his own efforts a limit for efficient and acceptable
labor for the Lord, and object to any having grace to surpass
him. How little and contemptible such a spirit! Brethren, if
you find such a disposition growing in your heart, strangle it;
allow it not to live another day. It will dwarf your life and

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make you miserable to see anyone receive blessing and
approbation. He is happiest who rejoices most in the uplifting
and enjoyment of others.
I have in mind a once able minister of the gospel who is
today separated from brethren and cut off from the church because
he could not bear to see a growing affection among his churches
for other ministers for their work's sake.
Paul feared lest he might become a "cast-away" (I Cor. 9:
27), and a jealous disposition is as likely to bring about this
condition as anything else, for "jealousy is cruel as the grave;
the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement
flame."--Cant. 8: 6. Let us be brethren not only in faith, but
in deed and in truth, all working lovingly together for the good
of the cause that ought to be so precious to us all.
I appeal to you, my brethren, not to leave to those who
shall follow in your field of ministerial labor, churches in all
manner of disorders and ignorant of the duties imposed by the
scriptures on the members. It will work a hardship on those who
follow you, it will cripple the churches and be disregarding your
obligations as ministers of Christ.
Study to know the New Testament pattern and then let all the
efforts of your life be directed to shaping the churches after
the pattern. This do persistently.
Sometimes you will grow discouraged and you will feel
inclined to give up the struggle and simply drift with the course
such things take if not prevented. But think what drifting
means, my brother. It means to be getting farther and farther
away from the right. Do not make spasmodic efforts to stop the
"drifting" and then fall again into more harm than good. It is
the steady, determined efforts that accomplish something. Keep
on preaching, and talking, and working for godliness in the lives
of the members, and to set in order all things connected with the
church, "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the
knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure
of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we henceforth be
no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about by every
wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness,
whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in
love, may grow up unto him in all things, which is the head, even
Christ; from whom the whole body fitly joined together, and
compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the
effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase
of the body unto the edifying of itself in love." --Eph. 4: 13-
O, my brethren, let us contend earnestly for all that is
taught in God's word. I give these "suggestions," not as
embodying all that is written, nor speaking as one who has
attained to all things. "Brethren, I count not myself to have
apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things
which are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are
before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling
of God in Christ Jesus." --Phil. 3: 13,14. I feel that I would

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like to see--

"The church our blessed Redeemer saved,
With His own precious blood,"

shake off the traditions which bind her people and rise to the
high privileges promised to the obedient and humble followers of
the Lamb. "It is high time to awake out of sleep." "Let us,
therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the
armor of light." "Wherefore he saith, Awake, thou that sleepest,
and arise from the dead, and Christ will give thee light. See
then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore, be ye
not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is."
I would not presume that I know more of the "will of the
Lord" than those to whom I write, but I am moved to bring these
things to your minds, and appeal to you to move forward as one
man, crying as did the prophet, "For Zion's sake will I not hold
my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake, I will not rest, until the
righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation
thereof as a lamp that burneth."--Isa. 62: 1.
I know hundreds of you feel as I do about these matters. Should we not "cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a
trumpet, and shew my people their transgressions, and the house
of Jacob their sins."--Isa. 58: 1. "Bring ye all the tithes into
my storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me
now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open to you
the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there
shall not be room enough to receive it."--Mal. 3: 10.
We believe all these things. Shall we act as God directs
and as His spirit prompts? Those who have not investigated the
subject of practical duties have the scriptures, and they can and
should do so.
But as I have before said, ministers may know the Lord's
will and not insist on its observance in the churches. "And that
servant which knew his lord's will and prepared not himself,
neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many
stripes."--Luke 12: 47. If a minister accepts the pastoral care
of a church it is equivalent to covenanting with the church that
he will deal honestly with it and give all needed instruction.
He cannot keep this agreement and remain silent while the church
is neglecting any important matter. And it will be better for
himself and the church, for him to resign rather than to keep
silent where God speaks, permitting the church to ignore God's
rule and way.
I repeat that I do not ask anyone to accept these
suggestions unless they be found to agree with God's word; but if
they are in harmony with the truth, what reason can a pastor give
for not following out the spirit of them? I hope, Brother
Ministers, that you will determine whether they are right or
wrong; and that you will join with all our ministers in
advocating the practices in harmony with the New Testament

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Particularly do I ask that you take a stand in regard to the
office of the deaconship in the churches and enter a life-long
protest against doing away with the office, for the
discontinuance of that work has seriously crippled the ministry
until the churches are deprived of the service they ought to
have. I invite your careful and prayerful attention to the
positions taken in the following article on "The Deaconship."

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No authority questions it being apostolic to have an officer
in the church known as deacon. But in no one particular have the
Primitive Baptists, and all religious organizations, come so near
disregarding the apostolic mark as in the use of this office.
As to being apostolic, Catholics and Protestants can make no
showing doctrinally, as compared with the Primitive Baptists; but
when it comes to this one office of the church, although Arminian
bodies have generally disregarded the power and degree of the
office, and the Primitive Baptists in this particular make a
better showing, yet when it comes to the practical work of the
office we find our people have fallen far short, and in many
places have practically abolished the office, except in form.
Primitive Baptist churches, claiming to be the churches of
Jesus Christ, should have a better record than this. We should
not only be apostolic in doctrine, but in practice as well. When
there is apostolic authority for but two classes of church
officers, then for us to abolish one of them in practice, is
departing too far for those who love the doctrine of grace, and
who would prove that they love the Master by keeping his
Some may question that these statements are warranted, but
ministers who are acquainted with the practice of the churches,
and who have given the matter proper study, know that the facts
sustain them.
These pages have been written to call attention to practices
undoubtedly authorized and commanded by the scriptures. To this
end I wish to examine the office of the deaconship in the light
of the sacred word and try to point out to the best of my ability
an approved practice.
First, I would like to engage the attention of the reader
with the importance of the subject. Suppose some person should
assert that sprinkling is just as good as immersion for baptism. What answer would a Primitive Baptist make? No doubt he would
say, "Our Lord commanded believers to be baptized. Christ's own
example shows that he understood baptism to be immersion in
water, for he was baptized in the river Jordan and came up out of
the water. Every allusion and example, as far as given, show
that the apostles and believers of their day understood baptism
to be immersion. Since the apostles' time there has been no
power authorized to change any doctrine or practice delivered to
the church. So one who is not immersed cannot have Christian
baptism, and if we were to receive anything else for baptism we
would at once lose our right to claim that we are churches of
Jesus Christ, because we would not have a baptism that was
So with the doctrines of the church. We contend that if a
church departs from the doctrines of the Bible and persists in
such error, she loses her identity with the church of Christ.
Now if some Arminian should turn these arguments against us
and ask, "What was the work of the New Testament deacons?" and

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then ask if Primitive Baptists did a like work, what would we
say? Then if it should be urged that because of this lack or
error, we did not have a right to call ourselves churches of
Christ, what defense could we make, except we could truthfully
say we still believe in the duties prescribed for deacons just as
taught in the scriptures, and this difference in the practice of
our deacons and New Testament deacons was only a temporary
falling off or deviation and not because we had rejected the New
Testament teaching?
If the difference in practice arose because we had actually
usurped the authority to change the duties of the office, as some
have done, then the reason we assign for not recognizing the
various organizations as churches of Jesus Christ, would fall
with dreadful weight upon us and deny our claims, too.
But if we can be said to still hold the theory of the office
as it was in the days of the apostles, and it is only the
indifference of our members that causes us to fail in our
practice, how can we expect the blessings of the Lord when we
say, but do not do, the things He has left on record for us to
follow? Are not these considerations of sufficient weight to
prompt us to an immediate investigation of God's word to see how
our practice agrees with it.
I hope no one who reads these pages will feel that it makes
no difference! In the eyes of Him who taught that we are to
follow Him, every obedience and disobedience is important. We
may look at ancient Israel and see this principle clearly taught,
and no doubt their experiences are recorded that we may learn
from them the real issues of life to the child of God.
As we now view their journeyings we see what ingratitude it
showed to God to depart from His laws, and bring in observances
which He had positively forbidden. They no doubt felt at first
when they went astray that it was of little consequence, and that
God would not take notice of what they did to hold them to
account for every violation. Sometimes, no doubt, they believed
if their practice was according to the traditions of the elders,
it would be all the justification needed. But when Christ came
how severe His denunciations of those who through traditions made
void the word of God!
Beware, brethren, lest we take a course similar to that
disobedient and stiff-necked people. We should remember our God
is a jealous God and His glory He will not give to another. He
will not allow His people to follow the traditions or heresies of
men and pour His blessings upon their course. To do this would
be to make His laws of no effect. If we may do them or not do
them, and the result will be the same, then His laws are of no
consequence. But Primitive Baptists can never admit such a
theory as this. "He is our Lawgiver." There be Lords many and
gods many, but unto us there is one God. I. Cor. 8: 5, 6.
If we have deacons we want New Testament deacons in
practice. As our deacons fill an office recognized by God's
word, they should do it in a manner approved by that authority. If our churches have gone astray upon this subject, they will

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have to repent--leave off the present practices--and return to
that warranted by the word of God.
We may expect to find opposition. Our people may follow
tradition, and when they do so, they are as loath to give up such
things as others; in fact, they seem in some cases to hold to
them with greater tenacity, for they get to thinking of their
practice as being approved of God, and generally, what an Old
Baptist esteems as coming from God he does not readily give up,
for we are taught to view his teachings with greater reverence
than other people do.
So we cannot expect to see a change in a few days or months,
or even years; it will require patience and continued effort for
the truth. But no true soldier will falter on this account. It
is our duty, and our high privilege, to contend for the Lord's
way and word and leave the result entirely in his hand. By
reading the history of ancient Israel we may see that wrong
practices often found their way in among them, and when they had
to suffer for it, then they would be induced to put the evil away
from them. May we not hope the Israel of our God will arise now
and put every evil way behind her, and trusting in the God of
Abraham, take his law as the only rule of faith and practice? She should not be satisfied to merely believe the doctrine of
grace, she should obey her Lord.
I come now to consider the office of the deaconship. The
Greek word which is translated "deacon" in the New Testament
means, servant, attendant, waiter. This word in its verbal and
noun form occurs one hundred and one times in the New Testament,
but it is only rendered "deacon" five times. It is rendered
"minister" sixty-four times and "servant" twenty-one times. In
its general meaning of ministering, it is applied to pious women
(Matt. 27: 55), to brethren (Matt. 25: 44), to preachers (Eph. 6:
21), to apostles (Acts 1: 16), to angels (Mark 1: 13), and to
Christ (Matt. 20: 28).
But it is used in a special sense to indicate an officer of
the New Testament church and should be used by us in the same way
to denote the same thing today.
That there is another office beside that of elder indicates
there is other work to be done besides ministering the word. To
judge from the practice of some churches only one officer is
needed (a preacher), and he shorn of all power, to look after the
interest of the flock, except at communion time a deacon is
needed to pass the bread and wine to the brethren.
I will here state that I have never read a text of
scripture, nor have I ever heard anyone make any reference to
one, indicating that the deacon rather than any other person,
should pass the bread and wine. Some refer to Acts 6: 2, where
it is said by the apostle that it was not meet for the apostles
to leave the word of God and "serve tables," and these "tables"
are taken to be the tables spread at the Lord's supper, but it
has no reference to such at all. The "tables" the apostle did
not have time to serve, was daily ministering to the Grecian
widows, who were being neglected because the disciples were

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How much time is saved to the minister by the deacon passing
the bread and wine? What does the minister do at that time that
he could not do as well and pass the emblems himself? So far as
I know this is the only passage referred to, and it is evident
upon consideration that this had no reference whatever to the
communion table.
But as there is nothing stated just who may, or who may not,
assist at communion seasons, our custom of having the deacons to
do so is not in violation of God's word. But instead of this
being their principal duty it is only one of the many things that
may be laid upon them as being in harmony with the character of
the work to be expected of deacons.
It would be more in keeping with the exact wording of our
Lord when any brother has been served, for him to pass the bread
or wine to another brother, so long as all are conveniently
situated, and only call for the deacon's assistance when brethren
were not convenient to each other. As to providing the emblems,
and the articles necessary for the communion, it is evident from
the nature of the deacon's work that they should do this.
I will here remark that the objection of some deacons to
passing the bread and wine at churches where they may be visiting
and are not acquainted with all the members, seems to be well
taken, for they are liable to miss some, and to offer them to
others who should not partake of them. I have known persons to
take of the communion under such circumstances who were not
members of the Old Baptist church at all. They had no scruples
themselves, and took license from the fact that the emblems were
passed to them. It is presumed that a deacon would know who was
entitled to eat at his home church.
Coming to the occasion for the appointment of deacons in the
apostolic church, it will be found that there was work for them
to do, and of such character that it was necessary to select men
especially fitted to do it. This is one peculiarity of the
church of Christ, work is to be done by persons peculiarly fitted
for it. The work of deacons was principally to handle and
distribute money, or its equivalent.
The militant church of Christ is made up of men and women
who, though born of God, are subject to life's ills and needs,
and he who had wisdom to build the earth and sky, and all things
therein, did not set up his church and overlook this important
fact. Christ affirms, "Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have
need of all these things," and everything proves that He does,
and that He who hears the ravens when they cry, and sees the
sparrows when they fall, cares for us in all life's sufferings. -
-I. Peter 5: 7.
I have heard unthinking brethren affirm that their church
had no money system in it. While I feared they were telling the
truth, I knew if it was true, their church, in that respect at
least, was not apostolic. He who set up the church keeps all
worlds in motion by a law that will never fail until his purpose
has been worked out and He himself shall bid it stop. Would he,

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who always went about doing good, healing the sick and relieving
the distress of the poor, forget that there would be poor in the
church in the ages then to come? O, no, for he said, The poor ye
have with you always.--Mark 14: 7.
Is the theory of men correct that Jesus made no arrangements
for caring for the poor and distressed and keeping up the
ministry, and that now it is necessary to organize societies and
helps for that purpose, the church not being adapted for such
No, a thousand times no! The church as set up by our Master
is all complete and nothing lacking. And as the law he gave the
sun shall keep on shining as long as he designs, without having
to be renewed, so the system he devised for equalizing the
burdens among the members of the church of Christ will never need
revision, nor that anything be added to it. We do not need
ministerial boards nor aid societies that our ministers may give
themselves to him who has called them. The church in herself has
every needed arrangement, and it will be found perfectly adequate
to every emergency when our people trust in God and obey his
word. We need never trouble ourselves to devise a plan for
anything connected with the church of Christ, everything is
already devised and laid down in God's word, and we may be sure
if the plan we are following is not laid down there it will not
be successful in the accomplishment of a Bible end.
Deacons were chosen to take charge of the funds of the
church as a part of their work. It is questioned by some that
the seven (Acts 6: 3) were deacons. But from the fact there were
deacons in the churches later on, and no authority for the office
is given except this in Acts 6, and that the duty as set forth in
that chapter and elsewhere is in harmony with the meaning of the
word, I conclude that the seven were deacons.
That the church had a fund will appear from the fact that as
many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them and laid the
price at the apostles' feet (Acts 4: 34, 35). From the common
fund so formed the apostles made distribution to all as they had
need. But the number of the disciples increased until the
apostles were unable to see to the needs of all, and some of the
Grecian widows were neglected. The apostles had also to preach,
and there was not time to attend to both matters (Acts 6: 1). As
the work of caring for these widows was the express purpose for
which the seven were set apart, it is certainly a legitimate
conclusion that the church fund passed into their hands.
Even prior to the crucifixion of our Lord a common fund was
provided as will be seen from the fact that when they sat at meat
before Judas had betrayed our Lord, Judas was in charge of what
money was needful for Jesus and the twelve. Some of them
thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him,
"Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or that
he give something to the poor."--John 13: 29.
From this we learn that Jesus had been training the
disciples in the course they afterwards recommended to the
church. Christ and his apostles had a common fund and they used

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it to supply their needs and to help the poor. If it had not
been the practice to give to the poor out of that fund the
disciples would not have thought that Judas had been told to do
anything of the kind.
Who supplied that fund we are not told, but as the disciples
were all poor, and there is no record that they stopped to work,
except when the disciples went fishing, we may believe, without
drawing very hard on our imagination that there were friends of
the cause of Christ who were in position to help and had liberal
The fact that Judas had the purse, and was a devil, has
nothing to do with its being right or wrong. Up to this time he
had been a follower of Christ, and there is no proof that he did
not do as the other disciples did. Judas followed Christ, but
that did not make it wrong to be a follower of Christ.
Now if a church has no fund, and will not maintain one, it
has no use for deacons. Any member may use his own funds for the
relief of the needy, but it is the business of a deacon to use
the funds of the church for that purpose. I have known churches
to ordain deacons when it was not the intention of the members of
the church to put anything into their hands, at any rate they did
not. This is to trifle with solemn obligations and make much ado
over form and deny the plain teaching of God's word. If the
elders of the churches who form presbyteries would be true to
their conviction, they would say to the churches when called on
in such cases, we will not use our authority to put a brother in
an office and then have you withhold that from him which is
necessary to the performance of his duty. To ordain a deacon in
a church that will not keep any funds in his hands is to lay upon
him a solemn responsibility and then have the church tie his
hands and force him to non-compliance with the obligations of his
A brother chosen in a church to be deacon knowing it had not
been the practice of the church to keep any funds, and had reason
to believe that unless they viewed the matter different to the
general impression among the members there would be nothing put
into his hands, might well refuse to submit to ordination until
there was a more scriptural understanding on the subject.
These questions should be answered, not only by the brother
chosen deacon, but by the members of the church as well:

1. Is there necessity for deacons in the church?
2. What is the duty of the church to the deacon?
3. What is the duty of the deacon?
4. What are the qualifications of a deacon?

I. Necessity for Deacons

With the view that there is no duty for the deacon but to
assist at the communion, it cannot be made out that there is any
necessity at all. As before stated, there is no passage of
scripture indicating that any member of the church might not

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properly do the work the deacon usually does at the communion.
If the view be taken that he is only to look after the
spiritual interests of the members, then his place is more
eminently filled by the ministry, and if there is necessity for
more careful oversight, spiritually, then there should be more
elders, or the pastor in charge should give himself more wholly
to the work. From this standpoint there is no necessity whatever
of choosing deacons.
The necessity, as it is stated in the New Testament, is to
take charge of financial matters and look after the needs of the
members of the church, being supplied with the means to do this
by the voluntary contributions of the members.
I repeat, if a church does not intend to keep funds in the
hands of her deacons, she does not need deacons.
It may be said in reply to this that it would be the duty of
the deacons to look about and see if there were any poor, or
needed expenses, or if the pastor needed help, and report it to
the church and get instructions what to do and receive supplies
from the church.
I would say, in the first place, to admit this view a member
who had but little judgment would make about as good a deacon as
the one endowed with the greatest wisdom, for he would not be
expected to exercise his judgment in any case, but must always
wait until he has been directed just what to do. While the
qualifications given indicates that he is to act on his own
Then, in cases of immediate need, if the church met only
once a month, as most of our churches do now, the needy brother
or sister might pass in great suffering and distress beyond the
need of anything ministered by human hands.
But the objector to the fund suggests that in such a case it
would be the duty of the deacon to either contribute of his own
means, or see the brethren and collect something.
This is purely an innovation on God's way, as set forth in
the Acts of the apostles, and the example of the Primitive
church. Paul gives instruction that there be weekly collections,
that when the time for the use of the funds arrived, there would
need to be no collection taken (I. Cor. 16: 1,2). The deacon
might be poor himself and not have enough to supply the needs of
others, and it very often happens that very poor brethren are
very prompt to do their duty, and would make just as good deacons
as any.
Further, if the deacon is just to make report to the church
of cases of need, any brother can do that, and there is no
necessity for a special appointment. The fact is this, it is the
duty of all the members to report to the deacon.
A church cannot do in a proper way, and most likely will not
do at all, the things done by apostolic churches without active
deacons. The Lord has nothing done except for a good reason. If
the church can do as well without deacons as with them, then what
reason can be given for their appointment, unless the office is
to be considered as ornamental rather than practical, simply a

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dignitary without a duty.
Certainly it will be conceded by all who revere the sacred
word that there must have been, and is yet, a necessity for the
deaconship in the church, not simply that the church may say she
has a deacon, but that the work of the deacon may be done. So a
church should consider it is not in complete working order until
the work of the deacon is recognized and carried out. When
churches are organized after they have secured a pastor, and
sometimes before, they choose deacons, the inference being, even
when the statement is not made, that a church is not fully in
working order without deacons. But it is clear in some cases
that this is a mere recognition of the office, and not of the
work of the office, for no attempt is made to make the deacon of
any practical aid to the church and cause. We should look deeper
than mere form. The fact that there were deacons in the
apostolic church should be argument enough with Primitive
Baptists that the office was necessary, and also if necessary
then, necessary now, or else the apostolic church would not be a
pattern for all ages. This admission would let in all the
innovations of the day, which no Primitive Baptist could agree to
at all. As proof that there were deacons in the apostolic
churches, see the following scriptures: Acts 6: 3-6; Phil. 1: 1;
I. Tim. 3: 8-13.
So if we are to lay claim to apostolic form in our churches
we must have deacons, and it is certainly of more importance to
have the work of the office done than it is to have the officer.

II. Duty of Church to Deacon.

As to the question, "What is the duty of the church to the
deacon?" if the members of the church do not recognize that there
is a binding duty, the office might as well remain vacant. It is
not a duty to the man who is filling the office, but to the
office work as a function of the church. We do not care for the
hand or the foot as having any dignity of themselves, but because
they are a part of the body, and without them the body would be
So must the office of the deaconship be considered. Here is
a function of the church to be performed through this office, and
if she does not have this office, she either does not do the
work, or does it not in a scriptural way. The church should not
choose a brother as a deacon to honor the man, but to use him as
a servant to carry out the full work of the church.
A church cannot raise a brother to the work of the ministry,
that is God's work. But she can put any brother into the
deaconship who has the qualification, though there may be other
brethren who are just as well fitted for the place who are not
needed. God appoints the minister to do a special work, and the
church appoints the deacon to carry out the active work that
falls to the church as an organization.
A church has as much right to do away with baptism as it has
to do away with the work of the church that is to be done through

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deacons. She may have deacons in form, and yet do away with the
work of the deacon. If a member of the church has never done
anything through the deacon's hands, that member has done away
with the work of the deacon so far as he is concerned, and has
committed as much of an offense against the Great Head of the
church as though he had attempted to make void anything else that
belongs to the house of the Lord. Indeed, it is hard to say if
there is anything else connected with the church, except it be
the ministry of the word, but it could be struck down with less
hurt than this.
To appoint deacons and then ignore them in administering the
financial part of the church's business is gross contempt for
God's law as head of the church. It would be as though an
Israelite of old had said, I will ignore the priest who is to
minister in the temple and do the work myself. Many brethren
make this statement in substance when they say they will not have
the deacon to fill his office, but what they have to give they
will give it themselves.
If the apostolic church is to be taken as a pattern (and if
it is not we have none), we must consider the deaconship as an
office of God's own arranging and should hesitate as much to
change it or abolish it as we would to change the doctrines given
in the scriptures, and should feel that as great a curse will
fall on us for the one as for the other.
The deacon is the hand of the church that she stretches out
to all who are in need, and to keep her affairs working in
decency in in order.
Some brethren try to step behind this passage, "But when
thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand
doeth," and conclude that what they do they must do very
privately, not letting anyone know what they do, not even the
This is plainly straining the passage to mean something it
was never intended to mean at all. It is wrong to make a display
among men, and these words of the Savior were spoken in
condemnation of such a practice. In the same connection the
Savior tells his disciples that when they pray they are to enter
into their closets and pray in secret and not before men (Matt.
6: 5).
Is it then wrong to pray in public? Most of our church
rules say that our services ought to be opened by singing and
prayer. According to this construction this would be wrong and
no one ought to offer prayer in public. The absurdity of this
construction at once appears.
It may be that brethren who have urged such a construction
have done so, violating the true principle in their hearts. It
may be they wanted the recipient to know just whose liberality he
received, and they did not put it into the hands of the deacon
because then it would never be known by the recipient who made
the contribution.
Sometimes when there are several preachers at a meeting a
brother wants his favorite preacher to know that he is

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appreciated, and prefers to give out of his own hand; for if it
was given to the deacon it would be divided up and those who were
in greatest need would get most, and his favorite would never
know just how he had appreciated him. This is the very spirit
our Lord was condemning, and the plea is a mere pretext. If one
is willing that his liberality should not be advertised, let him
put his gifts in with the common funds in the deacon's hands.
If the church is to feel as she ought toward the deaconship
it must be viewed as God's way of attending to certain affairs,
and must be sacredly guarded from those who would change or
abolish it. If a brother be chosen by the church to be put into
the deaconship it is his right to know that the church rightly
understands her obligations to the office, and is disposed to
recognize them, before assuming obligations himself that he
cannot discharge unless the church will first do her duty.
A church should not consider the work of the deacon as apart
from her own act, but every member should feel that God has made
it his duty to do certain things, and that these things are to be
done through the deaconship.
The scriptures teach that we must be baptized and then
leaves us no discretion as to manner or mode of baptism--we must
be dipped in water.
Now it is the duty of members of the church to do certain
things, and then it is specified that this is to be done through
the deacon's hands. It is contempt for God and his word to say,
It can be done as well some other way. The duty of the church to
the deaconship is such that it is open rebellion to say to the
deacon, "Stand thou here, we can do all there is to do without
having need of thee." What right has any member or individual to
ignore or make void an office that has the approval of the sacred
The duty of the church toward this office is such that they
should hold all their possessions subject to the needs of the
church, as did the saints in the time of the apostles. While it
is not obligatory now, nor was it then, to sell one's property
and put it into a common fund, yet the principle is that each
brother should be willing to support the cause with all he has,
and to that end should keep sufficient funds in the hands of the
deacons to discharge the obligations of their office.

II. What is the Duty of the Deacon?

This is the next question to be considered by all the church
in setting apart a deacon.
It would appear strange that a church should ever set apart
a member to a work when very few of the members understood
clearly what that work was. But such might be the case. Every
member should be able to answer the plain question, in choosing a
deacon, "What is he to do?" The necessity for this will be
apparent upon reflection. If the members of a church do not
properly understand the duty of a deacon he will not be able to
discharge his duty, if his performance in any ways depends upon

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them, for they will not cooperate with him. So a brother, when
chosen by a church to this office, might very properly demand of
them what they expected him to do.
If the members only expected him to assist the pastor at the
communion, and bear unkind criticism, as every one put into any
prominence must do, he might with good ground refuse to accept
the responsibility because the church was not scriptural as to
the duty of deacons.
No pastor should permit a church of his care to go into the
selection of a deacon without thoroughly instructing them as to
the duty of the deacon. Here is where many of our pastors
confess error, and failure to discharge their obligation. Too
often the only things considered are the moral qualifications of
the deacon without respect to what the deacon is to do.
How is it possible to decide on the qualifications of a
person to an office without deciding what he is to do?
Here is where many mistakes have been made. Often, if a
brother is exemplary in his walk and character as a man and a
Christian, he is considered fit to be put into the deacon's
But a man might be well fitted to be a judge on the bench
who would make a very poor farmer or merchant, and the scriptures
consider this, and point out the special qualifications of a
deacon. I appeal to every reader of these pages to decide in his
own mind what a deacon is to do if he carries out the scriptural
idea of the office.
Certainly no member of the church should consider himself
competent to enter into the choice of deacon without first
defining to his own satisfaction the work of the deacon, and then
considering the peculiar fitness of the brother who is to be set
The work of the deacon needs to be decided upon and
understood by all, that the brother chosen to the office may be
impressed with the fact that certain things are expected of him,
and knowing it is the mind of all that he is to do these things,
he will feel a greater obligation to discharge his duty. For, if
there be a diversity of opinion regarding his work, he can never
act without the feeling that his course was disapproved by some,
which is a very discouraging condition.
But, if all the members are properly instructed, the deacon
will feel encouraged to perform the duties of his office, knowing
his work is known to all, and that a failure to do it will meet
with criticism, while to act faithfully will endear him to all
his brethren.
It is, indeed, very essential that all the members
understand what the work of the deaconship is, and that they
regard it not as separate and apart from their work, but rather
the channel through which individual members and the whole
church, are to discharge certain obligations.
By reference to Acts, 6th chapter, it will be very clearly
seen that he is to make distribution of the church funds to all
who have need. None will contend that the church ought to

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neglect or overburden any of her members, but different brethren
will propose different plans for equalizing the burdens and
caring for all who should be ministered to. This is ignoring
God's plan, and certainly His plan must be the best.
Some would advocate that each brother or sister must act for
himself or herself, and minister to all whom they find who have
need. Now, certainly, there is nothing in God's word that would
stand in the way of anyone taking this course. But the members
of churches are weak human beings, and some who have plenty of
means have little charity, and some who have great sympathy for
the cause, and for the suffering, have but little means. So, if
left to themselves, the burden will fall most unequally, for
many, who are able to help, will evade any occasion for bearing
the burden of others, leaving the few who are willing, whether
able or not, to do whatever is done.
So it is evident that if the burdens of the church are to be
equalized, and those who need help are to receive it, the New
Testament plan is the only one that will meet all the conditions
to be provided for.
Here will be found a stimulus for those who have been
blessed with plenty, but who have a covetous disposition; here
will be found a check for those who are liberal beyond their
means, and funds sufficient for the needs of all.
Besides this, the pastor should have an efficient helper,
one full of wisdom, leading an exemplary life before the members
for them to follow, an officer of the church full of the Holy
Ghost and faith.
It is a wise provision by the Great Head of the church for
equalizing the burdens among members that the means contributed
by the members go into a common fund, of which the deacons have
charge. The deacon will know whether a member is contributing
according to his ability, nor that it is the deacon to say how
much any member shall give, for the needs of the church are to be
met by voluntary offerings, as were the necessary things for the
tabernacle and its service; but he will know who are giving as
the Lord has prospered them, and if they fail to do this after
proper instruction, and reproof if necessary, they should be
reported to the church as covetous, which is a grievous sin, and
should be summarily dealt with.
"Mortify, therefore, your members which are upon the earth;
fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil
concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry; for which
things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of
disobedience."--Col. 3: 5.6.
Old Testament lessons teach us that an idolater is an
abomination in the sight of God. The Apostle Paul wrote to the
church at Corinth, "But now I have written unto you not to keep
company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or
covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an
extortioner; with such an one no not to eat."--I. Cor. 5: 11.
All the members of any church know it is wrong to tolerate a
drunkard in the church. Well, the sacred writ couples drunkards

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and covetous people together as being of one class, a class on
which the "wrath of God" cometh.
Now the deacons, knowing who are covetous and who are not,
it would be their duty, more than that of any other member, to
labor with such an offender in this direction, and if need be
report him to the church.
Ananias and Sapphira were accused by the Apostle Peter. This was before the institution of the deaconship, and the funds
of the church were in the hands of the apostles.
Ananias and Sapphira professed before men that they were
giving in all they had to give. So long as there was no use for
their goods they were under no obligation to part with them; but
their sin was in withholding through a covetous disposition. Before the property was sold it was their own, and after it was
sold the proceeds were theirs (Acts 5: 4). But they evidently
felt it would be commendable to give in all they had, and yet
they loved what they had better than they did the cause of
Christ. The church could make no demand as to the amount to be
given, so these two lied to God and not to men.
How many deacons have seen cases like this, brethren
professing to give all they were able to give, and yet the
deacons knew that a covetous disposition was causing them to hold
back what they ought to bestow?
We should learn from this lesson in Acts that the principle
upon which the church was founded is, that the possessions of all
members ought to be held by them subject to the needs of their
brethren and the good of the cause.
This fact should be recognized by the deacons who should not
be slow to call upon the members for funds to meet all needs. A
brother who is one indeed, should be ready to divide his last
crust, and if this spirit prevailed it would not be hard for the
deacons to do their work.
For the deacons to know there is need for distribution to
the poor, or to the ministry, or to the sick, and yet have
members who are well able to contribute to such purposes withhold
their means, after an appeal from the deacon, is very
discouraging, indeed; in fact, this is the greatest burden
deacons have to bear. Finding that members fail and refuse to do
their duty the deacons grow indifferent to their work and the
office falls into disuse.
When the deacons have reported a covetous person to the
church he should be dealt with the same as for any other offense. And that covetous persons should be dealt with there can be no
doubt whatever, if the scriptures are to be taken as a rule. As
before remarked, if covetous persons were classed with the
drunkards, idolators, etc., and dealt with accordingly, it would
be better for the church and all the members. Of course the
deacon will have to take gospel steps to bring such matters
before the church, and when this is done the church should not
regard this sin as a peculiarity of character that cannot be
reached, for it stands in the way of the prosperity of the church
by withholding that which is needed perhaps in the upholding of

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the ministry. Not that the pastor of a church should serve for a
salary, or for the sake of money. But many of God's ministers
are poor in this world's goods, and having families, it is
impossible for them to give a very great portion of their time to
the ministry.
The apostles ordained deacons and put the funds of the
church into their hands that the ministers might give themselves
wholly to the work (Acts 6: 4). With this thought on his mind
the deacon will not feel that it is simply a personal matter
between him and the brethren. To neglect his duty, and let
brethren withhold from the church what they are able to give, if
it is needed to assist the pastor that he may discharge his duty,
is to give assent to a weakened service, and weakened for mere
greed, too, and to actually become a party to breaking down the
apostolic plan for keeping up a church and sustaining the
ministry in its work.
An important duty of deacons is to see that those who are
able do not withhold their means because of covetousness.
Not only is it the business of the deacon to receive the
funds contributed by the members, but that perfect confidence may
be maintained, he should keep an accurate account of all he
receives and all he pays out, and make his report to the church
regularly. He need not report what each member gives, but the
whole amount received. But he should give the items as paid out. If the church desires it he may report items received.
This is necessary, because the members must have every
evidence of the integrity and honesty of the deacon. True, they
might feel this at the time of his selection, but that this
feeling may be maintained it will be found necessary that the
members know what he does with the funds in his hands. If it is
known that he keeps no account they will feel that he himself
does not know just in what condition the funds are, whether he
has church funds on hand, or whether he has paid out more than
has been put into his hands.
I knew a case in which a good brother's word was called in
question. He said he had not received enough money for a certain
purpose. Another brother, equally good, said from his knowledge
he felt sure that he had, but said, "He keeps no account and
If the deacon keeps no account of the funds he receives, and
of what use he puts it to, it soon results in a falling off of
the receipts and necessitates making a collection every time
there is an occasion to use any funds.
Some churches follow this practice: The deacon calls on the
brethren when he has need of any funds, such as to help the
pastor or a visiting minister, or to pay church expenses, and he
collects only so much as may be needed and pays it all out at
This practice is rather to be commended than for the members
to ignore the deacon, but it falls short of meeting the
necessities, and is not following the scriptural practice. One
of the bad features is, there will often be need of money, and

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the members will not be present to collect from. The regular
meeting time may be cold and stormy, or heavy rains or sickness
may keep the members at home, but the faithful pastor is present. He meets two discouraging things--the members are not present ahd
his expenses are not paid.
Then at the next meeting, if the members are present, they
only contribute as much as though they had been present at the
meeting before, because there is no report whether the pastor's
expenses are met or not, and he has it to bear.
Now if the deacon kept an account of the church funds, he
could report at any time before it was exhausted, and it would be
the duty of the members to replenish it. Then, whether the
members were present at a meeting or not, if the pastor was
present he could be helped on his way. Or if there was need to
help any poor person, or incidental church expense, the deacon
would be prepared to meet it.
Another reason for keeping an account is for the convenience
of the members. Many of our members are farmers, and do not have
ready money at all times of the year, in fact, it may be the case
with anyone that he is not at all times prepared to make a
contribution. But there will be some time during the year when
he could put in his share toward keeping up the church's
expenses. He could then hand it to the deacon and his entry of
it would show that this brother had given his proportional part. The deacon would then know not to call on him again until the
other members had borne their part.
Here arises a very important question: What is each
member's share? Or how much should he pay? This is where most
of the attempts to systematize the deacon's work break down.
A member asks the deacon, "How much shall I contribute?" The
deacon, feeling he has no right to set the amount for members to
give, says, "O, I don't know, just give what you feel like
The member, feeling, perhaps, that it is not right to burden
the deacon with surplus funds, or that the deacon will at once,
and for that occasion, pay out all he receives, whether it is
actually needed or not, gives but little. The deacon can say
nothing, though he knows if the other members do not do better,
the amount needed will not be raised. In his heart the deacon
knows what the member ought to give, and, perhaps, the member
would be quite willing to give all that is needed, but because of
a wrong system in attending to business, the church has not done
its duty.
Now all this can be remedied if the deacon is allowed to,
and will do his duty. Every deacon who is qualified for the
office can estimate about what the yearly expenses of his church
will be. He can tell how much the fuel will cost; he knows if
there are any poor to be looked after regularly; he can estimate
needed repairs about the building and grounds; he knows how much
it will cost to have some one care for the house, and have it
ready for services; he should know the circumstances of the
pastor, and about how much such a church as his ought to

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contribute to him.
He should lay this before all the members of the church, and
let each one say how much of it he is willing to give. These
amounts he can enter on his book. If it is enough to meet the
demands, well and good, and each one will know about what he is
to do, and he can do it when it is convenient.
But if the amounts volunteered at the first do not cover
probable expenses, the deacon can ask the members to reconsider
the matter, and raise their contributions; or knowing the
circumstances of all the members, he will suggest to those who
have not been as liberal as their circumstances warrant, that
they should give more to equalize the burden. When this matter
has been arranged, the members can pay in the amounts they have
agreed to give as soon as they have it, or as the deacon may need
it. The deacons should not wait until the funds are entirely
exhausted before calling upon the members, nor should the members
wait to be called on at all. They should try to make the work of
the deacon as light as possible, and should not put him to the
trouble of calling on them individually.
Of course the members are privileged to make as many gifts
outside of this church fund as they feel disposed.
Out of the funds in their hands the deacons should
distribute to the poor. No poor member should be allowed to
suffer for the necessities of life, nor for any needed comfort
that the church is able to provide. Never should a brother or
sister, who can possibly be cared for otherwise, be sent out to
the poor house to be cared for by the general public. The church
need not take upon herself the burden of caring for the poor
outside of her own membership, because the members pay taxes to
care for these poor. But her own poor and afflicted should be
cared for by the church, and it is the especial duty of the
deacons to look after this work.
When one church is not able to care for its poor, other
churches should help, as did the church at Corinth and the
churches of Galatia (I. Cor. 16: 1-3).
In the United States, outside of the cities, we have not
many poor who are actually unable to care for themselves who have
no relatives to look after their needs, so this is not a heavy
burden on the churches. In some cases members may be lazy and
imprudent, so the deacons should carefully investigate each case
and report it fully to the church that their course may be
The deacons should defray the necessary expenses of the
church, such as providing fuel, employing a janitor and keeping
up needed repairs. The practice of some churches making such
things a special order of the church is disregarding the
deaconship, and results in neglect and often in dissatisfaction. It is an old saying, that what is everybody's business is
nobody's business, and it often proves true.
A pane of glass is broken in a window. The janitor did not
break it, and is not obliged to put in a new one, as he probably
will not get pay for caring for the house until the end of the

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year, and has no money with which to buy the glass except what is
his own. He knows the deacons have no church money, and that
there will have to be a collection taken, and perhaps if the
glass is put in before the collection is taken, it may not be
made at all. So he waits for the church to "take the matter up"
and take up a collection, before this small matter can be
attended to.
Then the janitor is employed by the year, and whether he
does his work well or not, no one feels disposed to speak to him
about it, for the church, and not an individual employed him, and
"individuals" do not want to be "too forward" in matters which
concern others as well as themselves.
Now if the deacons were held accountable for all these
things, then there would not be so much neglect. Or if there was
the church would need a new deacon.
I will suggest to deacons, if they pay the janitor every
month they will get better service, and they should see to it
that the house is kept in proper order to make the congregation
comfortable. The house should be kept clean, the seats free from
dust, warmed in winter before the congregation assembles, and
kept warm enough, but not too warm, proper ventilation being
provided. If the person employed to look after these things does
not attend to them properly, and will not be instructed to do so,
get some one else. "Be not slothful in business."--Rom. 12: 11. Keep the house and grounds in nice order, that it may be a
pleasant and inviting place.
Some churches appoint an annual or a semi-annual "house
cleaning" when the members all come in to spend the day together,
and to thoroughly clean the house, cut the grass, repair the
fences, etc., and this is commendable, especially as it affords
the members an opportunity of spending a day together.
The deacons should minister out of the church funds to the
necessities of the pastor, and they must to a great degree
determine how much is done for him. The pastor's circumstances
and opportunities should be understood. The deacons should
remember that a church cannot proper without pastoral service,
and they must provide for as efficient service as possible.
If a church simply provides for a minister to come and
preach for it two days or more in the month, and return at once
to his home, if he lives at a distance, it is arranging for no
pastoral service except the public ministry of the Word, which is
but a part of the pastor's duty.
Deacons were first chosen that those who ministered the word
might give themselves wholly to that work, and the deaconship
should still be used to loose the hands of the ministry that the
church may have the benefit, not only of the preached word, but
of pastoral service as well. The pastor should visit the sick,
the afflicted, the disobedient, the indifferent, those who fail
to attend their meetings, those who have a hope but who are not
members of the church, those who are in trouble on account of
their sins, and the faithful members as well. This will all take
time, and the scriptures teach that he is not to do this at his

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own expense. "Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? Who planteth a vineyard and eateth not of the fruit thereof? Or
who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?"--
I. Cor. 9: 7.
No unbiased person can read this and believe but that it has
reference to a preacher of the gospel. Those who would try to
make it mean anything else would certainly be wresting the
scriptures. It means very plainly that the pastor, minister or
preacher, is not to go at his own charges, and then it is plainly
told from whence his lack is to be made up.
He is to eat of the fruit of the vineyard, and he is to take
of the milk of the flock.
"For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not
muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God
take care for oxen? or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he that ploweth
should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be
partaker of his hope. If we have sown unto you spiritual things,
is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?"--I.
Cor. 9: 9-11.
I remember when we used oxen on the farm, and when gathering
corn in the field, we let the oxen eat the corn off the stalks as
they went along, and we did not have to feed them the corn at the
stables when engaged in this work. This is on the same principle
as the law of Moses in regard to treading out the corn, though
the "corn" was a different grain in that case.
Now, Paul says, this law in regard to oxen treading out corn
was written in special regard to the gospel ministry. "For our
sakes, no doubt, this is written." But that the matter may be
settled he asks, "Is it a great thing if we shall reap your
carnal things," having sown to you spiritual things?
Now the law that God gave the church, according to Paul (I.
Cor. 9: 14), is "that they which preach the gospel should live of
the gospel." As a parallel case with this he cites the fact that
in the temple service (which is the type of the church service)
"they which minister about holy things live of the things of the
temple, and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the
altar." The priests, which evidently represent the gospel
ministry, drew no land when the land of Canaan was divided,
because they were to live of the things of the temple. If the
offerings of the temple were abundant, then their living was
plenteous; but if the offerings fell off, then they might even be
driven to seek a living at other employment. "Even so," says
Paul to the church at Corinth, "hath the Lord ordained that they
which preach the gospel should live of the gospel."
Some try to spiritualize this passage, and make it mean
something very different from what the apostle evidently
intended. But it would be very strange, indeed, if Paul had
taken no spiritual comfort from the gospel, as would be implied
if we are to spiritualize this passage, for Paul says, "But I
have used none of these things; neither have I written these
things that it should be done unto me; for it were better for me

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to die, than that any man should make my glorying void."
Paul did as any minister who is in the same position might
do; he might not use his power in the gospel, and might support
himself with his own hands. Not that Paul did this all the time,
for even when he was preaching for the church at Corinth, and not
asking them to supply his needs, he says he robbed other
churches, taking wages of them, to do service to the church at
Corinth. When he was at Corinth the brethren which came from
Macedonia supplied his wants. See II. Cor. 11: 8, 9.
But to this church to which he was not "burdensome" he
wrote, asking them to forgive him for not having them supply his
needs, and so be on an even footing with the other churches. "For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches,
except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? Forgive me
this wrong."--II. Cor. 12: 13.
If it was wrong then to train a church up in this way, and
made it inferior to churches which supplied the minister, would
it not be wrong now? And would not a church which neglected its
pastor be inferior to one that did not?
But while Paul did not at first teach the Corinthians to
minister to his support, in both his letters he deals with the
subject very plainly. There seemed to be some condition peculiar
to this church which caused him to deal with them thus. While
upon this subject (II. Cor. 12: 16) he says, "Being crafty, I
caught you with guile."
But he asserts that he had power to forbear working (I. Cor.
9: 6), but he had not used that power in this case. Any minister
who is in like circumstances might follow a like course. but if
he had a wife, as Paul declared he had a right to have, and a
family, and he had to provide for them, he might have very little
time to devote to the churches, and here is where the deaconship
is of so much value to the church. A wise and zealous deacon
will see to it that means are provided that the church may have
pastoral service. Of course the members of the church must be of
like mind or the deacon would be powerless to do anything of
himself. But if the church does not feel it her duty to provide
for pastoral service, the pastor will have to take from his own
family to serve the church, or the church will have to do without
this needed service.
As to how much service any church shall have must depend
upon circumstances. First on its own condition, and second, upon
the disposition of the churches about it. If the church is weak
in numbers, and the members poor in this world's goods, then if
it cannot get a pastor who can afford to devote his time to them,
they can have but a limited service, unless the churches about it
are strong and willing to give a pastor such aid that he can
devote more time to the weak church than it is able of itself to
This is a subject that should be taken under consideration
by strong churches. They should not feel that they have
discharged their obligations when they have simply provided for
their own service if there are weak churches about them that need

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help. The apostolic practice was to gather up at one place to
distribute in another (I. Cor. 16: 1-3; II. Cor. 8: 4; 9: 1-5;
11: 9). Ministers should impress this principle on the churches,
for it is certainly taught in the New Testament that the strong
should help the weak, and this should not be ignored.
No church should be satisfied while others are needing its
help, and it is able to extend it, and this might be done very
efficiently by enabling the pastor to give the weak church more
time. But the strong churches should go still farther and help
the weak churches to build houses of worship, for it should be
considered that all belong to one family and should help each
other accordingly.
It is the Lord's plan that churches should have pastoral
service and when they pursue such a course as to cut themselves
off from this service it is not to be wondered at that the Lord
shows his disapproval.
Now it is through the deaconship that this service is to be
extended if it is properly recognized. If a church should say to
its pastor, We want one-half your time, or all your time, if the
church was conducted on a scriptural basis the pastor would have
no right to refuse, as under scriptural conditions he is to give
himself wholly to the work. But the means of the members would
have to be put into the deacon's hands in sufficient amount that
he might supply the pastor's needs.
Now when a church keeps back that which should be given to
extend pastoral work it is not defrauding the minister, but it is
cutting off its own spiritual service. The members are gaining
in the wealth of this world at the expense of the service of the
Lord. They are serving mammon rather than God.
They are not defrauding the minister if he has not actually
given them his time, for if the churches do not want his time he
can work with his hands and make his living and care for those
dependent upon him. Too many members try to think of this matter
as simply being between themselves and the pastor, but it affects
the pastor much less than it does the church. The pastor may not
be able to do the work that he sees needs to be done, and this
may pain his heart, and he may make many sacrifices endeavoring
to do it, but he can provide for himself as others do, and he
should not hesitate on his own account to do it.
No pastor who is worthy of the name will see the
covetousness of the members standing as a barrier to the progress
of the church without a pang at his heart, and without feeling a
disposition to do all he can for the cause, even if it must be at
his own charges.
In my early ministry I attended a church several years,
principally at my own expense. Finally when the needs of a
growing family forced me to say that they would have to pay the
expenses of my attending them, they said that I was not an Old
Baptist, and I severed my connection with them. I was young
then, and had never given these things much thought, and had
never delivered a discourse to this church on the duty of the
church to the ministry. I did, however, before leaving them show

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them the scriptural principle and practice. They would not
consider it rightly, however, and the result is that they have
had but little preaching for many years, and now have no pastor. This is not because preachers in this section are "money-
hunters," but because this church has asked its pastors to bear a
heavier burden than the members were willing to take upon
themselves. They asked one man to do more than they altogether
would do. Many churches have suffered on the same principle as
this one, but in a lesser degree, though no doubt the extinction
of many churches might be traced to this unwillingness of the
members to aid with their means the ministry of the word.
Now the deacons and the whole church should understand that
the deaconship is to be used in this direction. Before the
office of deacon was instituted the church funds were in the
hands of the apostles, and no doubt they lived out of this fund
as they had need, for they gave themselves constantly to the
work. But all this fund was turned over to the deacons, and it
is but reason that the deacons then supplied the ministry with
what they needed.
As before indicated, the deacons need to understand the
circumstances of the pastor and the ability of the church, and
then try to provide for such service as will not too heavily
burden either. Of course a pastor, on his part, may give as much
service as he is able to give, or even more, without the church
doing anything for him. But it is not right for the church to
ask him to bear any more burden than the members bear, and of
this the deacon should be a competent judge. And if a deacon is
to succeed he must have an opinion and be faithful to express it.
Some one must have an idea about how much the church needs
to help the pastor and it is not the business of the pastor to
set a price on his time and labor.
He who can be hired to preach can be hired to quit. But
because this is true is no reason that the pastor should bear
more of the burden than other brethren. The pastor must have
time to study the Word and store his mind with information needed
that he may instruct and be helpful to the flock over which he
has charge. This is entirely different from writing sermons. In
writing a sermon one might simply consult works upon the subject
to be treated upon and soon have the work over. But where one is
to be so informed on what the scriptures teach on all subjects
that he may speak extemporaneously on any given subject, there
must be much more study, and the mind must be stored with
knowledge to be drawn on at a moment's notice. It is
presumptuous for a pastor to try to instruct and properly serve a
church without study, and study takes time. This is one of the
things that a deacon must reckon as expense, and either the
pastor or the church must meet it. The church certainly has the
right to expect the pastor to study, and as it is for the benefit
of the church, the church is properly chargeable with the time.
Then the deacon must take under consideration the time and
necessary expense of the pastor in serving the church. If he has
a family, certainly the church cannot ask him to leave his family

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and serve it without restitution to the family. If the minister
has no family, to ask for his time will not be to ask for much,
though certainly an appreciation of his labors ought to be shown
(Phil. 4: 17).
A church could not very consistently say to a minister, "We
know that your wife needs your support, that your children need
food and raiment, nevertheless God has called you to preach, so
we call you to serve our church; when you are not giving us your
time you can work to support you wife and children. Though it
hardly seems possible that you can do a good part by them in that
time, yet you can trust the Lord to take care of them."
This kind of treatment would hardly agree with the argument
of the Apostle James. "If a brother or sister be naked, and
destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in
peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not
those things which are needful to the body; what doth it
profit?"--James 2: 15, 16. Brethren with a thought of what they
were doing surely could not ask a minister to leave his family
and give his time to them. They may argue that he is giving his
time to the Lord. If it be so that God requires so much at the
hands of his ministers, and has required nothing at the hands of
the members to correspond with it, then the burden is a most
unequal one, indeed.
But there is no scripture to hold up such an argument, it is
all the other way. We can know the mind of the Lord by going to
His word and learning what He says.
Then, again, a man cannot do as well in his business, if he
has one, and be gone several days out of each week. He will lose
by his non-attendance to it, and the deacons should consider
His clothing will cost him more, be he ever so humble and
careful. It is a reflection on a church for the minister to be
poorly clad when the condition of the church is such that it is
not necessary. He should not wear costly apparel, but it should
be such as is suitable to his station. It causes remarks which
are hurtful to the cause for a minister to be dressed too
expensively. But the members should think too much of the cause
to let their pastor go shabbily dressed.
These and many other reasons will be admitted by the
thoughtful deacon as good ground for a liberal contribution,
according to the circumstances of the members of the church.
Before leaving this part of the subject I wish to call the
attention of members again to a fact already stated, when a
church withholds from a minister it is defrauding itself. It is
wrong to consider this matter simply as a duty from the members
to the preacher as a man. The church must be considered as a
whole, and the ministry is one important work in the body without
which the church cannot prosper. Cut it off and the church must
fail. It is God's law that His word must be preached. The
burden of preaching He has laid upon the whole church, not just
on His ministers. His ministers are to be humiliated and used as
the vessels, but it is not theirs to carry all the weight of the

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service. Theirs is unspeakably the heaviest part to bear, since
poor and stammering as they may be they must proclaim before all
people the greatness of God and the sinfulness of man. All their
lives they may not call their time their own; they must do the
bidding of others, and put fleshly desires behind them. They may
not enter life as other men and compete for wealth and fame--they
must preach; and there are a great number of things that a man
cannot do and preach the gospel.
With every undertaking the minister must have this in mind:
"I cannot call my time my own to dispose of it as I will; I
cannot have the enjoyment of my family as other men have, I must
leave them to serve others; my children need my presence, but I
must leave them without it; whether sick or well, weary or in
buoyant spirits, with darkened mind or joyful heart, I can never
get away from this continuous round of duties: week after week,
month after month and year after year it will always be the same
with me.
"I cannot change off this work for something else. When the
churches are in trouble, when the members are indifferent, where
my labors are scarcely valued, when all the sacrifice must be
mine, my sympathies open to the suffering and sorrowing so that
my heart-strings are bleeding, still I must hold on my way as
though all was bright and cheerful.
"I must never think that men can requite me, for my service
is to God; I must never let the acts of men discourage me, for
God requires that I shall be found faithful; if the church and
the world shall take my services without thanks, still I must not
abate my zeal, I must labor as seeing Him who is invisible.
"I cannot buy off from this work, not if I owned the whole
world and would give it all; God requires the service of my heart
and tongue and not my possessions or the labors of my hands. Woe
is me if I preach not the gospel of the Son of God, and yet how unqualified am I for so great an undertaking."
This is the burden on one side. This but poorly expresses
what the minister must bear.
How is it on the other hand? What part will the members of
the church have to bear in proclaiming the gospel of the Son of
God? They have only to minister of their carnal things to him
who has been appointed of God to minister unto them spiritual
How would you like to exchange, my brother, take upon you
the work of the ministry, this life-long service, instead of
joining in with numbers of others to take a small part of your
possessions (which are the gift of God to you), to uphold this
poor minister while he goes where God has sent him?
Ah! How it would hurt you to have to leave off everything
and go here and there as though you had no home! How it might
grind into your nature to see opportunity after opportunity to
get on in the world slip by you because you dare not renounce
your calling. Would you give up your present life to be a
minister? Would you suffer ridicule for the church's sake, and
bear tribulation for the sake of Christ? Would you exchange?

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O, no, you would not like to exchange, if you knew what it
meant! You would beg to be excused. You would plead your
stammering tongue, your unworthiness and inability to perform the
duties of the office well. You would say, "Send this man."
Well, since you do not want the work for yourself, will you
object if the Lord asks at your hands a mite to hold up this man
while he does the work which you feel is too heavy for you? Certainly since you recognize that the work is important you will
not ask that you shall bear no part of it at all?
If you do, the Lord will not excuse you, any more than he
will the man whom he calls to preach. Preaching is a service of
the church which the whole church must bear. And well it might,
since it is so important. Think of having to go day after day,
week after week, month after month and year after year without
hearing the glorious gospel promises proclaimed by the Lord's own
anointed! How discouraging! The church could not live! There
could be no glad meetings where praises would go up from happy
hearts to God, for when the shepherd does not call, the sheep
scatter, and every one goes his own way.
Would you be willing to bear something to have all this
changed, and to hear the good sound of the gospel regularly? To
have the sheep fed and led by the living waters where there is
coolness and verdure, where they may lie down at noontide under
the shade of the trees and realize the loving presence of the
Good Shepherd?
Well, it will not cost you much. You should not want all
these privileges at the expense of some one else. David said,
"Neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord of that which
doth cost me nothing." If you are willing to enjoy the preaching
of the gospel at your church, and let some one else bear all the
expense, you are not of the disposition that David was. But you
ought to be of the disposition of the poor woman who cast the
mite into the treasury, she cast in all she had. She did not do
it to be seen of men, but because she loved the service of the
Lord and felt that she was willing to help support it.
So are all the Lord's people who have a right mind about
such matters. They do not want to have other people burdened and
themselves eased. They feel that they owe all they have to the
goodness of the Lord and are glad to show in any manner they can
their appreciation of His blessings. Most of our people dearly
love to hear the gospel proclaimed, but many of them have never
been taught their responsibility in helping to forward this good
work with their means.
In fact when the Missionaries split off from the church with
the Arminian idea that money might help salvation to reach people
by carrying to them the gospel, our people wanted to get as far
from such an idea as possible, and backed away from the
scriptural practice of helping the ministry. Many of our
ministers have felt a timidity in advocating a return to the
right, for fear they would be suspected of wanting to follow the
And their fears are not groundless, for there are many

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brethren who are blessed with plenty, but who are so covetous
they cry down every attempt toward liberality in this direction,
professedly for love of the truth, but really for love of money.
But, on the other hand, there are many good brethren who
know it is not wrong to do right, and who have liberal hearts and
are willing to do what they can, and do do so, but they are
discouraged by irregularities and unscriptural methods. This is
the situation as many God-fearing ministers see it. But many
seem to be perplexed and ask, "What can we do?" with doubting
hearts as to whether anything can be done.
Why, let the ministry and members rise as one man and
restore the walls that have been broken down, and establish again
the service of the Lord according to his statutes. We have been
many years going away, and we should not be discouraged if we are
not able to return in one day, but we should decide to at least
be going in the right direction.
Certain it is, the deacons in the churches should return to
their duties as in apostolic times and all our people should be
instructed as to their duty in maintaining the office of the
As before remarked, it cannot be done by spasmodic efforts,
it must be done by patient, determined labor.
According to the qualifications given for the deacons their
duties extend farther than simply to administering the financial
affairs of the church. They are considered as helpers to the
ministry. Paul, when writing to Timothy, states the
qualifications of elders and deacons in the same connection as
though the two offices were of great importance to the church.
One address is to the "bishops and deacons" (Phil. 1: 1), as
though both were responsible for the oversight of the church
regarding the things treated.
In fact, in practice, a good, scriptural deacon fills a
place in the church that the pastor can hardly make up in his
absence. The pastor's duty is principally the preaching of the
gospel and directing the affairs of the church. The deacon's
work is necessary to stir up members to an observance of the
preached word, and to actively lead in carrying out the pastor's
The pastor's instructions often fall with no result because
there is no one to lead in doing the things taught. This work,
it seems, falls to the deacons.
A church that has no one to lead in this manner is not a
live church, so far as my observation has taught me. Often the
deacons chosen by the church are not active in this direction at
all, and some other member of the church takes the lead in
everything. This brother is then doing the work of the deacon
and his qualifications for the office should be recognized in the
church by his appointment to it.
Other duties of the deacons will be taken up in the
discussion of the next question.

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IV. What are the Qualifications of Deacons?

The fact that the qualifications of deacons are given,
indicates that not every one can do the work that belongs to the
office, so churches should be very careful in the selection of
men for this place. A brother may have many excellent traits,
but if he does not have the particular characteristics mentioned,
he will not fill the office to the advancement of the church. He
must be of the right disposition to do that which falls to the
One who would accomplish anything in the deaconship should
maintain the dignity of the office and not be given to frivolity. As he must be a man of experience, his demeanor should indicate
that life's lessons have not been lost upon him. So also should
he feel his responsibility, and this, if properly appreciated,
will keep him from being light and chaffy.
He who is to minister in the house of God should behave
himself with proper decorum or he cannot have the respect of the
membership, and will bring the office to nothing, for the members
will not give ear to what he has to advise, nor put their affairs
into his hands. If he appears giddy and thoughtless they will
feel that he will not give things of importance sufficient
thought and due consideration, and he will need to have the
confidence of all the brethren in this direction.
His manners should be such that those in need and distress
will feel that he is their friend, and can be trusted in all
their troubles, or he cannot get close enough to render the help
he ought to give. The weak will need to lean on him for sympathy
and help, and if he is not "grave" he will not invite confidence
in that direction.
He is to be the helper of the pastor and will need such a
character that he can effectively reprove and correct the erring,
and none but a "grave" person could do this well.
He will need to be helpful to the sick, for it is in the
distress of the sick room that he will find a field of labor. None appreciate the help of the church more than those who, added
to their want, have the weight of sickness. And if sick persons
are not in want a visit from the deacons will make the sufferers
feel that the church is not neglecting them, for the deacon in
his ministrations represents the church.
It should be a grave accusation against a deacon for a sick
brother or sister to say, "The deacons have never been around to
see about me." He should not only go himself, but stir up the
members of the church to care for the sick.
The fraternal orders of the day profess to do more for the
sick and suffering than the churches, and when it is true in the
case of any church it is said to the shame of that church.
The church should be like a family in this respect, that the
welfare of every member should be carefully looked after. If a
member of a household falls sick, all the other members drop
whatever else they may have in hand that the sufferer may have
all proper care and every comfort that loving hands can minister,

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and day after day, and night after night give themselves to
assiduous watching until health is restored or death comes.
So it should be in the church. It should be the business of
some one to know what is needed and lead in a work which is
liable to be neglected, and that one is the deacon. It should
occur to him as soon as he learns of the illness of a member, "I
am the deacon, and here is the work to which I was solemnly
ordained, and God will not hold me guiltless if I neglect it."
Then he should put by anything that would hinder him and go
at once, as the hand of the church, to minister to the sick. If
need be, supplies should be furnished out of the funds in his
hands. But if only watchers are needed, he should notify members
of the church that their help is needed, and they should respond
at once.
If they belonged to a fraternal society of the world they
would have to go or send someone in their places; but should not
the love of brethren in the church, and gratitude to God for his
mercy and goodness, move one more quickly than any oath to man?
The deacon need not go to the members of the church and
simply tell them of the sickness of a brother, but as an officer
of the church, using his best judgment as to whom he should call
on, should notify them that their help is needed, and those so
notified should not feel at liberty to refuse, but should
cheerfully render all the assistance possible.
And where assistance is not needed, sympathy and brotherly
love ought to be manifested, and the deacon should keep brethren
in remembrance of their duty, for the world, the flesh and the
devil are all the time working to get brethren to neglect each
other and so drift apart for lack of expression of the feeling
that should fill the hearts of God's people.
As a kindred duty the deacons will remember the widows and
orphans. How heartless for the church to neglect those who are
thrown on the mercy of others. The church, when working
according to the principle shown in the New Testament, is better
than any man-made institution for caring for the sick and the
widows in their affliction, and I trust the day may soon come
when the churches will not be remiss in this important matter.
But it will not come until we get scriptural deacons in the
churches, deacons who know their duty and who are zealous enough
to do it, sacrificing personal interest for the cause of Christ.
Then there are those who are old and infirm, and who cannot
attend the church meetings, and these should not be neglected. A
"grave" deacon may give them much encouragement and comfort, not
only by visiting them himself, but by seeing that the members of
the church do not neglect them. It is sad, indeed, for aged
persons who may have been faithful attendants as long as able, to
be neglected when age or infirmities confine them to their homes. I heard a sister say, "My old mother often sheds a tear because
the church members do not visit her." Brother deacon, and
members of the church, let me appeal to you not to neglect the
aged soldiers of the cross who can no longer mingle in your

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The work to be done will decide the number of deacons which
a church is to have. One deacon might be sufficient to hold the
funds of a large church, but he might not be conveniently located
to look after the needs of all the members. A church in choosing
its deacons should have an eye to properly distributing them
among the membership to serve all efficiently. Usually as many
as two are chosen, and as many more may be ordained as the needs
of the church may determine.
Deacons who are successful in influencing the lives of the
members for good must be "grave." A church could hardly have
such efficient pastoral service that the deacons would not need
to watch over the lives of the members to check imprudent things
before mischief results. Does a brother go wrong in such a
manner that it can hardly be called a personal offense, while it
is the duty of any one who knows of it to try to recover the
erring brother, it is imperative that the deacon shall act as
soon as it comes to his knowledge. It will not seem to the
offender that the deacon is doing it for personal spite, for as
an officer of the church it is his duty to take the matter up. Often disorderly actions of some member become known to nearly
all the members and it seems not to be the duty of one more than
another to try to get them right, and when it is not understood
to be the duty of the deacon, no one takes it up. But if it were
understood to be his duty, not only would he have a sense of
obligation in that direction, but the members would be pressing
him forward which would strengthen him to act. It would make him
feel that he, himself, was responsible for a disorderly condition
of affairs and so increase the likelihood of getting rid of
evils. It would have a good effect on members if they felt, "If
I go wrong the deacons will be around to see me."
There will be need that some one take the lead in
encouraging those about the church who have a hope in Christ. Perhaps the pastor might do this more effectively than others,
but he cannot reach every case and be present at every
opportunity for doing good in this direction. As taking a part
of the labors of the pastor, the deacons should be alert to mark
all who have the work of grace in their hearts, and give them all
the encouragement in their power. He who has the qualifications
for all the work of a deacon should be able to do much work of
this character.
It would be a disgrace to the church and a hindrance to the
cause for a deacon to be otherwise than perfectly reliable in his
statements. It is a great shame for any member of the church to
talk in such manner that any one will doubt his word. But it
effectually disqualifies a member for the deaconship, for the
duties of this office require such intimate relations with the
members as could not exist if the deacons were "double-tongued." He would lose his power over the members until he could not
influence them to action in any direction for good. A man who
does not adhere strictly to the truth will be shunned by good
The duties of the deacon make it absolutely necessary that

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all the brethren shall have confidence in his sincerity and the
truthfulness of his statements. Members of the church will need
to act on his judgment and statements in many cases. When he
reports a case of need, if the members have to make an
investigation themselves before feeling willing to act, his work
is lost, and the duties of the office should be turned over to
some one else.
The brethren will not feel like putting funds into the hands
of a "double-tongued" man, for they will not feel sure that his
reports are correct. He cannot be successful in making peace
among brethren, but will be more likely to cause trouble. His
record for veracity should be such that his statement will be an
end of controversy. This will lead to referring matters to him
for adjustment and will enable him to bring about reconciliation
between brethren, for a deacon should be a peacemaker and be
constantly on the watch to keep down differences between
What is true in regard to elders as being given to wine is
true as applied to deacons. (See earlier discussion.) The deacon
will have better opportunities for knowing whether members of the
church are indulging too much in strong drink than the pastor,
and should use his influence to prevent such habits. But if he,
himself, be given to the habit, he will be powerless to do
anything. No brother who indulges in strong drink should be
retained in the deacon's office. A church can command no respect
in a community if it be known that its deacons are "given to much
To put a miserly or covetous man into the deaconship is
worse than to have no deacon at all. A covetous person, if not
put into prominence, might have but little influence on the lives
of others; but if he be put into the deacon's office his
influence at once begins to affect others and the purpose of the
office will be defeated. If he has a disposition to get others
to do their duty his actions will betray his own greedy nature
and render his efforts fruitless. In fact, the more he tries to
get others to bestow their means the more will his motives be
suspected and criticized. But he will not endeavor to get others
to be liberal, for it would require him to be so, too.
To be "greedy of filthy lucre" is to destroy spiritual
mindedness and no person who lacks this can be a deacon indeed
and in truth.
The care of the church must be upon his mind more than the
accumulation of wealth. A deacon who will stay away from his
meetings, and neglect the work of his office to make money,
should be reproved; and if he will not change his course should
be put out of office. He should be an example of liberality and
faithfulness which no one can be who is grasping for the things
of this world.
Deacons are to hold "the mystery of the faith in a pure
conscience" (I. Tim. 3: 9). They are not to be half-hearted in
their indorsement of the truth, but are to have an experimental
knowledge of it, for in no other way can it be held in a "pure

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conscience." If they have but a superficial knowledge of it,
they cannot console the poor and needy with their conversation
and presence, nor will they be able to encourage those who have a
hope in Christ who ought to come into the church. The fact that
they are not in hearty accord with the principles upon which the
church was founded will render their work unsatisfactory to the
church. He must not be in doubt about the doctrines of the
church nor the duties of the office, and should follow the
prompting of a "pure conscience."
He may be conscious of his own weakness, and feel that he
cannot fill the office as he would like to do, yet he should not
draw back nor be remiss in known duties. He should have a
consuming desire to perform the duties of the office without
As an elder should not be a "novice," so should those put
into the office of deacon be "proved." Old deacons should be
training up younger members to their places, for it is a work
that requires experience. If a brother has never been active in
such service, how can the church choose him to be a deacon, not
knowing whether he will develop these qualifications or not? Too
often it is but an experiment in putting a brother into the
office. If he has not the qualifications in some degree it may
be that they cannot be developed, and, if not, the brother can
never be acceptable as a deacon. His business ability, his
temperament, his spirituality, his devotion to the cause, and
fitness in general for the office should be "proved" before he is
solemnly put in charge of it.
Here is where so many mistakes occur. If a church needs a
deacon, and has not seen the qualifications in any brother, it
would be better to lay the duties on some member for a time to
see if he has the necessary traits. If need be, try several
brethren until one is found who can "use" the office, for to
choose one who has no ability in this direction is a grave
mistake which may hinder the cause much.
It is not enough to say that he is a good brother, for many
"good" brethren are worth nothing at all as deacons. When a
church has made the mistake of choosing a good brother and not a
capable one for deacon, the only consistent course is to
acknowledge the mistake by putting another brother into the
office who is not only good, but who can and will perform the
duties of the office. It is wrong for a church when it has made
such a mistake to drag along until the brother dies to get the
opportunity of choosing another deacon. Cases have been known
where the church died first. The good of the cause is at stake
and it should not be ruined rather than for the church to
acknowledge her wrong.
It may not be the fault of the brother put into the office,
since he did not elect himself, and perhaps protested against
being put into the place. So it should not be considered as
disgracing him to give the office to another.
But the church owes it to her interests, and the cause in
general, and is in duty bound by the Great Head of the church, to

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rectify every wrong in her power, and this is one wrong that can
be righted.
Owing to the nature of the deacon's work, his wife, if he
has one, can be of much service to him if she is of the right
disposition; but if she is not, she can very seriously interfere
with his work. This is of so much importance that the
qualifications of a deacon's wife are laid down.
Some churches insist that the deacon shall be married when
chosen to the office, and that his wife shall be a member of the
church and of the character prescribed, but he is not
disqualified by her death. But if he marries again, to retain
his office, his wife must be a suitable one for him. Other
churches make no difference as to whether he has a wife or not.
It seems plain to my mind that whether it is imperative that
he shall be married or not, it is advisable. If, as in giving
the qualifications of elders, the requirement that he shall be
the "husband of one wife" is simply declaring against polygamy,
then he might be unmarried. But as the qualifications of the
wife are given (I. Tim. 3: 11), it would seem that there is work
for her, also, in connection with that of her husband.
Some claim that the passage giving the qualifications of
deacons' wives was meant simply for "women" who held positions
corresponding to that of the deacons. But there is no record of
the establishment of such an office by the apostles, as the
"seven" chosen were men.
It is certainly advisable when possible, to find a man of
proper qualifications who has a wife who is the right character
to help him. I would not be in favor of ordaining a deacon to
the work who was married, and whose wife had not the
qualifications to aid him.
It is clear, upon reflection, that if a deacon's wife is to
be a help to him in the ministrations of his office, she should
be "grave," not a foolish woman of the world who loves amusement
and society better than the service of the Lord. If she is
worldly minded she will take no interest in assisting her husband
in his labor of love for others. She will not want to visit the
sick of her own sex, and do for them what belongs to the deacon's
work, but which can hardly be done as well by the deacons.
To be a common gossip or "slanderer," would prevent all
possibility of doing good. It is a bad mark in any sister of the
church to indulge in this kind of talk, and often results in
serious trouble in the church. But in a deacon's wife it
interferes with his work and stands in her way of doing that
which is her duty to do.
She is to be "faithful in all things." That is, she is to
do what godly women should be found doing. She will imitate the
deeds of Dorcas (Acts 9: 39) who busied herself in doing good to
others. Her adorning will not be in dress and outward show, but
will be the manifestation of the "hidden man of the heart" (I.
Pet. 3: 3,4). She will receive the saints into her house, as did
Mary and Martha, so that it may be said of her that she does what
she can. She can help to care for the widows (Acts 9: 39) and

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orphans, and while her husband is providing for the minister she
can ascertain what his wife and children have need of and how
they live.
As the deacons are to be examples to the brethren of the
church in godly living, so is she to be to the women.
More attention should be given to these requirements of
deacons' wives, and they should be encouraged to take a more
active part in church work. They might go into many homes with
good cheer and helpfulness. And this is not alone for the sake
of the work that they, themselves, would do, but the sisters of
the churches should have efficient leaders in the work which they
must do or which will probably remain undone. To their
faithfulness and sacrifice the church now owes a great part of
its activity, and it would be greatly heightened if they were
properly encouraged and led on. They should be true "daughters
of Sarah" (I. Pet. 3: 6) and with their abundance of love and
sympathy render all the service possible to the Master's cause.
The same reasons exist for the deacons "ruling their children
and their houses well" as in the case of the elders. The home
life of brethren affects their efficiency as members of the
church of Christ, and especially is this true of the officers of
the church. Immoral and vicious actions of the members of the
deacon's family, if traceable to his training or neglect, injures
not only him in his work, but it injures the whole church, so
they cannot be too careful in this direction, as the good of the
cause is at stake.
"For they that have used the office of a deacon well,
purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the
faith which is in Christ Jesus." How much in the church depends
upon using this office well! The care of its sick, the relief of
its poor, the help of the ministry, and the active work of the
church in every direction, are connected with this office. Take
away its efficiency and all efforts in these directions are
crippled and weakened, if not entirely cut off, and the church
becomes a motionless body, simply drinking in comfort from the
declaration of God's grace to sinners, but manifesting no
gratitude for such a wonderful gift, nor endeavoring to show love
for the blessed Savior who said, "If ye love me keep my
commandments." Without the work of the deaconship (the deacon's
work is often done by brethren who are not known as deacons) no
pity is shown for the suffering, nor help extended to the needy;
the pastor is not helped on in his ministry and has no efficient
aid in keeping up the practical work of the church.
But with it, how changed! The members realize that there
are duties to fulfill, and wake up to active service, knowing
that we serve God when we serve his people. The service of God
is no longer in word only, but in deed as well. A strong hand
takes hold of the active labor of the church and the ministry is
permitted to declare with all freedom the glorious gospel of
grace, knowing that the church will do its duty. This takes a
burden off the ministry, and pastors of churches are content to
give their work the time needed, having assurance that their

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wants will be supplied.
The members, of a church which has an active deacon, feeling
that they have a leader who can be trusted, work together in
harmony, with little division as to the way things are to be
done. But without such a leader among them they are liable to
each one go after his own opinion, and there being little concert
of action, but little or nothing is accomplished in practical
In a church where the deacons do not use the office well,
when the members meet, and the deacons are absent, there is no
inquiry about them more than there would be for other absent
members, for not having been active in church matters, the
members have not been accustomed to thinking of them as having
any special duties, nor to depend upon them for guidance.
But I can call to mind a few men who were deacons, indeed,
and their presence gave assurance that everything would be
conducted in order. When the time came for service they said,
"Come in, brethren, let us sing." If the pastor was present he
was assisted in the opening services and encouraged in his work. If no minister was present the church was called to order just as
promptly, and services held in which all the brethren, who could
be induced to do so, joined. If any of the members were absent,
inquiry was made to ascertain whether any one present knew the
reason of their absence, and the following week, or as soon as
possible, those who were not present received a visit from the
deacon if he could not otherwise learn the cause of their
absence. Brethren who were remiss in their duty were kindly and
yet firmly rebuked and exhorted to greater faithfulness.
These brethren were held in high esteem, not feared, but
loved, and purchased to themselves a "good degree" in the
affections of their brethren. When the Lord called them home,
and the churches no longer had the stimulus of their presence,
brethren could be heard to remark, "It was not this way in
Brother A's lifetime." In one of these churches the old deacon,
when age had made it impossible for him to do all the work he was
accustomed to doing, took one of the younger brethren and put his
work on him, instructing him how to act and what to do. When the
old deacon died the church had a man who could take up the work
of the deaconship acceptably, and he was put into the office,
having first been "proved."
To use the office of the deaconship well can but raise a
brother in the estimation of all. It brings him a "good degree." His watchfulness and activity in the cause, he having nothing but
the glory of God and the peace of his church in view, endears him
to pastor and church alike.
By using his office well a deacon will grow to great
"boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus." He will have
to meet opposition of every kind, from outside the church and
from within. One who can meet all the opposition that a deacon
must meet without getting discouraged and relaxing his efforts
will have great boldness in the faith as the result of his

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It is hard for a deacon to represent the church in its
practical work in the face of the criticism of the world. The
world will want him to join some benevolent society, and have all
the members do the same, and let the society take care of the
poor. The world will frown on him when he takes some erring
brother by the arm, and calling him brother, leads him back to
the path of rectitude. The world would try to make him feel that
it was too much condescension for him to try to lift the poor and
needy by his labors and to reform the erring with prayers and
tears. Then it will take some of his time, too, and will require
a self-sacrificing life all the way through.
Inside the church will be found those who are opposed to
Bible practice and they will stand in the way of his carrying out
the work of the office. They will want to bestow gifts in person
or give nothing at all.
Covetous persons will argue against expense, and oppose
assisting the poor and helping the ministry. The members will be
slack in their duty in various directions, and sometimes inclined
to make trouble instead of laboring for peace.
All these things will try his patience and his faith in God,
but if he perseveres, he will grow into a humble boldness that
will bear all things and endure without flinching the severest
I implore the deacons of the churches to consider these
things. Do you love the Zion of our God? Do you love the peace
and prosperity of the churches? Do you not feel that your life
should be consecrated to the service of God?
If these things appeal to you, take God's word and, studying
it carefully, resolve that by the Spirit's help you will follow
what it teaches. I do not expect that doing your duty will be to
you like "flowery beds of ease," but a conscience blessed with
the approval of God will more than recompense you for the
sacrifices you must make.
If you have not been in the habit of doing your duty, when
you think of what you know you ought to do, it may be that you
will be conscious of much indecision in regard to your future
course. You know what ought to be done, but you do not feel
equal to the task of bringing it about. And perhaps you cannot,
by yourself, for if the duties of your office are attended to
there must be a right understanding by the pastor and the
But you can pray to God for strength and faith, and,
"Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord," you can "persuade
men" (II. Cor. 5: 11).
Talk to the pastor first and encourage him to preach and
talk on practical things, and especially to call attention to the
work of the deacons.
Then talk to the members, being careful to refer to what
God's word says. Do not think when you have done this once that
you have done your duty--spend your life in this direction. If
you do not see the fruits yourself, others will, and the cause
will have been served.

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Let us all labor together for the upbuilding of the precious
cause among God's humble poor, for it is better to be a
doorkeeper in the house of the Lord than to dwell in the tents of
wickedness (Psalms 84: 10).
By the help of God and following His commandments, the
condition of our churches can be bettered. There may be a cry
that these are new things, but it will not be the truth, they are
the old things taught in the times of the apostles. Departures
from them are the new things. "Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in
the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good
way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls."--
Jeremiah 6: 16.

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Churches which have brethren to set apart by ordination may
call upon other churches to send their ordained ministers to form
a presbytery for that purpose; or they may call upon elders who
may be convenient without notifying the churches of their
membership. One elder might ordain. The church might also
invite the members of other churches, especially the deacons, to
sit with her in council to advise with her as to the prudence of
the proposed ordination.
When the elders are assembled with the church the presbytery
may organize by choosing a moderator, and either appointing a
clerk or having the clerk of the church act as such.
The candidate should then be delivered into the hands of the
presbytery which should satisfy itself that the church has acted
with all due prudence in the matter, for churches have sometimes
made mistakes. While the decision of the church must be final,
yet the presbytery might advise with the church, and no member of
the presbytery ought to act against his judgment, especially if
the ordination be that of an elder, for then the interests of
other churches and the cause in general is affected. Pastors of
churches are sometimes very negligent of their duty and do not
properly instruct the members in regard to such matters. Though
this lack cannot be made up by the presbytery, yet, as brethren,
if not in their official characters, they should endeavor to
check anything that in their judgment would be hurtful to the
cause. A personal knowledge of the facts in the case by the
presbytery would be the best safeguard, and to that end it would
be best to have presbyteries formed as nearly as possible by
brethren who are acquainted with both the church and the
candidate, for then they can act with full knowledge and
everything is more likely to be satisfactory.
If the candidate be for ordination to the office of the
deaconship, the presbytery should enquire as to the practice of
the church with regard to that office. If it is the practice of
the church simply to keep up the office in form, without keeping
a church fund, or leaving the management of its financial affairs
to the deacons, then the presbytery might very properly refuse to
ordain the candidate because of the church being unscriptural in
its practice.
As to the qualifications of the candidate, if the church
believes in scriptural practice, it is likely to judge correctly
as to the qualification of the person chosen. Yet it would be
perfectly proper for the presbytery to satisfy the minds of its
members, as every precaution should be taken to guard against
mistakes. The cause is too precious to be careless in regard to
such matters.
If the candidate be proposed for ordination as an elder, the
presbytery should be careful, indeed. To ordain a brother who
has no gift to edify, may prove a great detriment to the church,
and can be of no benefit to him.
The presbytery, if not personally acquainted with the

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character and gift of the brother, may ask the church to appoint
one of her members to speak for her, and then this brother may be
interrogated as to the character and gift of the candidate, who
may be asked to step aside during this time. It should be shown
by the church that the character of the brother is such as will
not interfere with his work in the ministry, taking the
scriptural requirements as the standard. Also the church should
be satisfied that the brother has a gift that will enable him to
edify the same. This is a matter that should be determined
before ordination. A brother should not be ordained when a
church is undecided. He should have exercised his gift long
enough so there will be no question.
Then if the brother's labors are not needed as pastor, there
may be no use to ordain him, as he can preach without being
ordained. But if his services are required to administer the
ordinances, or some other church desires him to act as its
pastor, then there would seem to be a call for his ordination.
Some churches have ordained brethren whose services were not
acceptable to themselves. This is evidently wrong, and if a
presbytery has reason to believe that this is the case, they
should refuse to ordain. If the presbytery is satisfied with the
report of the church, as to the character and gift of the
brother, then he should be called before the presbytery to answer
for himself as to his hope in Christ and his doctrinal and
practical views.
One of the members of the presbytery may be appointed to
conduct the examination, of course any of the members having the
privilege of asking or suggesting questions. This examination
will serve a good purpose in bringing our doctrines and practices
before the members of the church and the congregation.
After this examination, if it seems to be necessary, the
presbytery may step aside to decide its action, and if favorable
to proceeding, to appoint one of its members to offer the
ordination prayer, and another to deliver the charge.
The arrangements being completed, the candidate is caused to
kneel, the members of the presbytery kneeling around him, and
placing their hands upon him, while the brother appointed to do
so, offers an appropriate prayer. After the prayer the members
of the presbytery may extend to the brother their hands,
expressing their fellowship in his new field of work, and
encouraging him to a faithful performance of the duties of his
office. Generally all the members of the church, and the
brethren present, extend their hands to the brother who has been
The usual form is to deliver the charge after the
ordination. It may be dispensed with, though it seems to me to
be proper and right. The presbytery should choose one of her
members who is best calculated to set forth the duties of the
office to which the brother has been ordained. His discourse
should be very plain, and he should faithfully set forth the
purpose of the office and the duties of the one who fills it. He
should also set forth clearly the duty of the members of the

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church to the office, and what should be their treatment of the
one who fills it, showing them all that if the church is to reach
the purpose of Him who organized it, all must do their duty and
be faithful in the house of God.
I have sometimes known "charges" that had very few practical
suggestions in them. If the duties of the person ordained, and
the duty of the church to him, is not to be discussed, the
discourse should not be called a charge. But if the purpose of
the office is faithfully set forth it will serve to impress all
concerned that the Lord has called them to special services for
the good of Christ's cause, and that in the ordination they enter
into covenant to work together to keep all things in order.
It has been the practice of our churches in many parts of
the United States to admit deacons to presbyteries; in some
places for the ordination of elders and deacons, in others for
the ordination of deacons only, while in some sections deacons
are not ordained at all.
If it is to be taken as proven that the seven first ordained
were deacons, then deacons should be ordained if scriptural
practices are to be followed.
There is nothing to indicate that deacons should sit in
The question has been raised as to whether a church could
annul an ordination, seeing that the ordination was by a
presbytery. This question would imply that the presbytery might
be superior in authority to the church. This idea is not to be
entertained, however, for then ministers would not be amenable,
in their official character, to the church, but to a presbytery,
which has no existence except for the time of the ordination, and
acts then only by authority of the church.
The church undoubtedly has the authority to depose a
minister, and to exclude him from her fellowship if necessary. One who could retain membership in a church might not be a fit
character for the office of elder, and the church should guard
the office zealously.
It might be that the brother ordained had no gift for the
edification of the church. Then it would be the duty of the
church to acknowledge the error in setting him forward for
ordination, for it was her fault. A brother might want
ordination, but he could not get it without an order of the
church. If the church errs in making the order, it is of no
advantage to the brother to continue in error, and it works to
the injury of the cause.
The practice of giving "license" or recommendation before
ordination has no doubt been much abused. Brethren who could be
of much service to the church to speak occasionally are
"licensed," to be henceforth looked upon as preachers, and
treated as preachers, and must be invited to speak when perhaps
their gift does not make it prudent to do so.
The fact is, all the members should be considered as having
license or liberty to speak when they have anything to say, and
when it is a proper time to speak. A preacher who is not needed

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as an ordained minister might have letters of "recommendation"
when going where he is not known, but where he is known he should
not need anything of the kind as his gift will "recommend"
It is customary to furnish a certificate of ordination to
elders. The following form is recommended:

Certificate of Ordination.

To all whom it may concern: Be it known that at the request
of _________________ church of Primitive Baptists (postoffice,
county and state), the following named elders met as a presbytery
for the purpose of ordaining _______________________________ to
the full work of the gospel ministry:

(Give names of elders with the name of the church to which they

The church, the presbytery and the candidate hold the
doctrine of "special atonement by Jesus Christ for the elect of
God, who are predestinated unto the adoption of children, and
kept by the power of God unto glory."
After examination, Brother _____________________________ was
solemnly set apart by the laying on of hands and prayer, to the
work whereunto God has called him; and we hereby witness his full
authority to teach, to baptize, to administer the Lord's supper,
and to serve the church of Christ in any other way that the
gospel directs.
Done this _______ day of ________________, _______,

__________________________________________ Moderator

__________________________________________ Clerk.

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It is not the intention to give here more than the briefest
suggestions as to parliamentary rules. No effort is made to
cover all points that may come up, merely those rules which are
liable to be needed in any church meeting being mentioned. Some
churches adopt rules to cover most cases that will arise, and
when this is the case, the rules so adopted supersede all others. But in the absence of any special rule then the rules commonly
accepted by organized bodies may be resorted to, and hence these
All brethren should inform themselves as to the common form
of making motions, amending them, etc., so that no confusion will
arise in our meetings. All the brethren should know how to
preside over a meeting and preserve order, and I hope these few
suggestions will be of some benefit. But I would advise all our
ministers to read some standard "manual."
The presiding officer of our meetings is called "moderator,"
and should be addressed as "Brother Moderator." The pastor of a
church is usually by special rule made moderator of its meetings
when present, but a church may choose one of its members to
preside at all meetings. The "Rules of Decorum" of the church
should state how the moderator's chair is to be filled. It is a
good practice for the church to give all her male members some
experience in the moderator's chair, then when an emergency calls
them to preside they will not be at a loss how to proceed.
When the hour for business arrives the moderator may say,
"Brethren will now come to order," or if it be at the close of
divine services he will announce, "We will now proceed with the
business of the meeting."
At the call to order, brethren should all take their seats
and all conversation should cease at once. "Let all things be
done decently and in order."--I. Cor. 14: 40. It is very
unbecoming, indeed, in brethren to make confusion during a
When order prevails, if there is a set order of business, as
most of our churches have, the moderator will at once announce
the first order of business. When that has been disposed of he
will announce the next, etc. But where there is no regular order
of business, the moderator may say, "What is the will of the
brethren?" when it will be in order for some brother to introduce
a subject for consideration, by motion or otherwise. If the
meeting has been called for a certain purpose, the moderator
should announce the purpose of the meeting.
Brethren who wish to speak, or bring any matter before the
meeting, should arise from their seats and say, "Brother
Moderator," and then wait before proceeding until the moderator
"recognizes" them, which he should do by calling them by name, or
if he does not know the name, he may say, "Speak on, brother." This point should be strictly enforced as there are times when it
will prevent confusion. The brother who rises first is entitled
to recognition if he has not spoken beyond the limit of the

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rules. When two rise at the same time, if one of them does not
sit down, the moderator must decide which one of them may speak. When brethren do not keep to the subject before the meeting, or
speak in a wrong tone or spirit, the moderator should at once
call them to order.
In making a motion, a brother should arise and address the
moderator, and when recognized, should say, "Brother Moderator, I
move that," etc. If the motion is in order the moderator will
call for a second, and after a second has been made, the question
is then before the meeting, and may be debated. The moderator
should state the question in the language of the mover, or
suggest modifications to the mover before it is stated. A motion
which involves serious matters should be presented in writing and
fully understood before a vote is taken. When a motion is once
before the meeting it cannot be withdrawn if there is any
objection. A principal motion must give way to everything except
another principal motion.
Principal motions may be amended. Motion and second must be
made for that purpose, and the amendment must be acted upon
before a vote is taken on the principal motion. An amendment
cannot be laid on the table or postponed without carrying the
principal motion with it. Amendments may be amended, but
amendments to amendments cannot be amended. Amendments, to be in
order, must have a bearing on the subject, and may negative the
principal motion or entirely change its meaning. After the
amendment is disposed of, then the principal motion will be
A motion may be "laid on the table," which removes the
subject until taken from the table. A motion to lay on the table
is not debatable, nor is one to take from the table. A motion to
take from the table is in order after intervening business.
A motion to "refer" or "postpone" to a given time is
debatable and may be amended only to change the time. At
expiration of the time the subject comes up under the head of
"reference" in most of our churches, or as "unfinished business,"
and is taken up without a motion and must be disposed of. A
matter referred to a given time may be taken up before the time
by a two-thirds vote.
It is customary in some of our churches to "refer" subjects
without date, that is, indefinitely, and such references are
taken up by motion and second. This is not according to
parliamentary useage, but if made a custom it amounts to a rule. A motion to lay on the table would be proper.
Motions which have been passed upon may be reconsidered. The motion to reconsider must be made by some one who voted on
the prevailing side, and should be made at the same or the next
succeeding meeting. Motion to reconsider is debatable if motion
to be considered was debatable, otherwise, not. If motion to
reconsider carries, the subject comes up before the meeting as
though no vote had been taken upon it. A secret ballot cannot be
reconsidered, but may be thrown out if shown to be irregular. An
affirmative vote to lay on the table or take from, to adjourn or

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to suspend the rules, cannot be reconsidered. A majority vote is
sufficient to reconsider.
To call for the previous question, if seconded and adopted,
stops debate on the motion pending and brings it to a vote at
once. It requires a two-thirds vote, can be applied to all
debatable questions, and is not debatable. A call for the
previous question may be laid on the table, but cannot be
postponed, amended or reconsidered. If adopted it precludes all
further amendments. When a motion is made the mover may move the
previous question at the same time and so preclude debate.
To suspend a rule requires a two-thirds vote, and the motion
is not debatable. Neither can it be laid on the table, referred,
reconsidered, or amended. The rules of some churches cannot be
suspended as the only provisions for changing them are contained
in the rules themselves.
Committees, unless otherwise ordered, are appointed by the
moderator. The first person named is chairman of the committee,
and the committee has no power, except to follow instructions. Report should be made to the meeting in writing, which is
received by general consent without motion. After it is read, a
motion to adopt, reject, or lay on the table is in order. If
there is a majority and a minority report from the committee,
both must be read. Then the majority report is taken up first,
and there may be a motion to amend by substituting the minority
report. There is no need to make a motion to discharge a
committee after it has reported in full. If the matter is to be
taken out of the hands of the committee then it may be
If members are not pleased with the ruling of the moderator
they may appeal to the meeting, and this appeal is not debatable
unless the moderator invites discussion. He may give his reasons
for his decision. The matter comes up in the following form: The member who objects to the ruling of the moderator says, "I
appeal from the decision of the moderator." If the appeal is
seconded, the moderator immediately states the question as
follows: "Shall the decision of the moderator stand as the
judgment of the meeting?" If there is a tie vote the decision of
the moderator is sustained. When appeal is debated no member can
speak but once.
If any member notices a breach of a rule it is his duty to
insist upon its enforcement. He should rise from his seat and
say, "Brother Moderator, I rise to a point of order." If any
member is speaking he should at once take his seat, and the
moderator should ask the brother to state his point of order,
which the moderator will pass on at once. If there is no appeal
the brother who was speaking will resume his speech.
Do not say "I motion" or "I move you." Say, "Brother
Moderator, I move that," etc.
Do not say, "support" when you mean "second."
Do not say "adjourn" when you mean to close the meeting.
Do not say "accept" or "receive" if you mean "adopt" or

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Do not combine "indefinitely" with "lay on the table," and
do not confuse "lay on the table" with "postpone."
Do not think that calls of "question" compel the chair to
take the vote.
Do not forget that local law, however unwise, supersedes
parliamentary rules, but in the absence of such law, established
customs govern.
Do not permit thoughtless advocates of loose methods to
ridicule you out of a demand that the business of any
organization you are interested in be transacted according to
parliamentary forms.
Do not forget that the greatest brains in the finest
parliamentary assemblies on earth, regard inflexible rules as
necessary to secure well defined action and profitable results.

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The regular business meetings of the church should be
attended to by all the members unless they are prevented by
sickness. These meetings are usually held but once a month, and
on Saturday, and brethren should not let their work interfere.
A brother who was transacting some business was asked if he
could be in a certain neighborhood on a certain Saturday. He
replied, "Yes, I agreed fifteen years ago to be there on that
day." When asked for an explanation he replied, "My church meets
in that neighborhood on that day, and when I united with it
fifteen years ago I covenanted to meet with it every session, and
I expect to be there."
This is the feeling that brethren should have in regard to
their church meetings. They should want to attend every service,
but they should feel duty bound to attend the church meeting. The members should meet promptly at the time appointed. The
habit of being late should be discouraged by all. The song
service should commence before the time set for public service. If the time set be 11 o'clock, from one-half to three-quarters of
an hour should have been spent before that time in singing, and
prayers by different brethren.
If the business meeting is held after the preaching, when it
has concluded, the moderator should at once announce the order of
business. He should not consume the time with unnecessary talk,
but without seeming haste, get through with the business as soon
as possible.
The members should be trained to speak promptly and to take
a lively interest in keeping everything in order. When one knows
of business that ought to be brought up, he should not wait for
some one else to speak, but should at once introduce it.
It is best to have a regular "order of business." While it
may not make any material difference as to which subject is taken
up first, yet to my mind the following order could be

1. Invite visiting brethren from sister churches to seats.
2. Extend invitation for membership.
3. Take up references from previous meetings.
4. Take up matters touching fellowship.
5. Opportunity given to introduce new business.

The sermon should close with an invitation to persons who
have a hope to come to the church, the first order of business
(to invite visiting brethren to seats), taking but a word and
passing on. If the sermon has been what it should be, those who
ought to unite with the church will, perhaps, be in a better
frame of mind than after the routine of business has been
Matters taken up under the head of "reference" are properly
"unfinished business," and may be taken up without a motion,
unless it is something that has been referred, to be taken up at

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a convenient time, without the day being set. This would need to
have a motion to take it up.
When the order for matters touching fellowship is reached,
the moderator should ask, "Are there any matters touching
fellowship which have been dealt with in gospel order that should
be brought before the church?"
I deem this form better than asking, "Is the church in
peace?" While it is to be considered in peace until something is
brought before it, yet brethren have their little difficulties,
and get their feelings hurt, and while they cannot say, "All is
peace," yet the matter is not in condition to bring before the
church. I have known the clerk's minute to read, "All in peace,"
when most of the members knew that there were some bad hurts not
healed. None of the members felt just right to have the minute
read so, but none were in a position to speak.
It would be better to have the clerk's minute read, if
nothing is brought up, "Nothing brought up touching fellowship,"
which would be the fact and all would be satisfied with the
Under the head of "new business," any subject relating to
the interest of the church, not before taken up, can be
introduced. It is usually better to talk subjects over with the
members before putting them before the church while in session,
as it should be the aim of all to promote harmony and peace and
have the brethren all see alike, if possible, on every subject
acted upon.
Free discussion should be had on all subjects, and all
should be resolved that they will not give offense to any brother
or sister by word or action.
Special meetings may be appointed by the church for the
transaction of stated business. No number of members have the
authority to call a special meeting. So far as I know none of
our churches have any provisions in their rules of decorum for
calling special meetings, which leaves the matter wholly with the
church while in regular session.
Some of our churches have two services on Saturday, through
the summer months, the members taking their dinners with them. After the morning service an adjournment is taken for dinner, and
when called together again the church business is taken up and
followed by short talks by the brethren and pastor. It seems to
me that this is a good way to do. As a rule, the members of the
churches do not get to see each other often enough, and this
brings them together so that they may cultivate friendship and
Each church should preserve a correct record of its
proceedings, and to that end should have a capable clerk, one who
writes well and who can have the minute of the day ready by the
time is through its business.
The minute, as made out, should be read, and corrected if
need be, so that it will correctly state what business has been
transacted. The clerk should record the minute as approved.
I would recommend that churches get a well bound record

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book, one that will last for a number of years. A part of it
should be ruled to show clearly the names of members, the dates
when they united with the church, and their ages. The form
should be carried out to show date of death, if remaining in the
church till death. But if dismissed by letter, or excluded, the
form should show the fact and the date; if dismissed by letter
the name of the church in which the letter is placed should be
It would be impossible to take the books kept by many clerks
and ascertain who are members of the church. This is certainly
different to what it should be. Most of the books show who
joined the church and when, but that is far as the record goes. When members die no record is made where it can be found, nor
when letters of dismission are granted is the fact stated
anywhere except in the minute of the meeting making the order,
making it necessary to search the whole book through to get at
the facts.
The names of the members should be on the left hand side of
the left hand page and the ruling should extend across the right
hand page.
When members are absent from the meeting the moderator may
inquire if brethren present know the reason. In this way deacons
may learn of sick members, or information may be given to all the
membership regarding the sick or needy. Then when members are
unavoidably kept away from the meetings, knowing that inquiry
will be made as to the reason of their absence, they will try to
let the churches know the cause.
Others who might be inclined to be indifferent about
attending the meetings would give the matter more serious thought
if they knew the circumstances of their remaining away from
church meetings would be inquired into.
Some churches call the roll of members when the church sits
for business and the clerk makes a minute of the number present. I do not see any reasonable objection to this practice, and there
are some good points in its favor. It should certainly be the
desire of all to have every member attend all the meetings if
On all questions that come before the church there should be
a full vote. None should try to escape responsibility for the
action of the church. They cannot do so by refusing to vote, for
not voting is equivalent to voting on the side of the question
that prevails. But members should express their best judgment on
every motion, and when the voice of the church is taken let that
be the end of the matter. It is all right to reason together on
a subject before the vote is taken, but it is not right to try to
stir up dissatisfaction after the majority has decided it, for it
is impossible to have a unanimous vote on all questions. The
majority should not be overbearing, for it is necessary to
exercise mutual forbearance that peace may abound. But it is
usual, and I think right, for the majority to rule in all matters
except the receiving of members, dismissing members by letter and
in choosing a pastor.

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The members should observe proper decorum at the church
meetings, whether the services are in progress or not. There
should not be undue levity during the intermissions nor before
nor after services. They come together as members of the church
of Christ, and should demean themselves as such.
It is my judgment that the Lord's supper should be observed
when the members come together as a church. If the business
meeting is on Saturday, let the communion service be on Saturday. This is the practice of many of our churches. The mixed
multitude that attends the Sunday service for the public
proclamation of the gospel often breaks the solemnity that should
prevail at the celebration of this sacred ordinance. Generally,
on Saturday, the members of the church are nearly alone together,
and they can feel more impressed with the lesson that was given
in that upper chamber where Jesus and his disciples alone first
brake bread and took the cup (Mark 14: 15-24) as all His
followers are to do to the end of time in remembrance of Him.
The Lord's supper is a church ordinance and should be
considered a church service, and partaken of when the members
come together as a church.

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Receiving member into a Primitive Baptist church is quite
different to receiving members into any other organization on
earth. To become a member of any other organization one has only
to comply with the requirements of that body.
But to become a member of a Primitive Baptist church one
must have something done for him that he cannot do himself--he
must give evidence of an inward work of grace. It is no
advantage to a church to receive for membership persons who have
not been born of God (John 1: 13; 3: 5).
The so-called churches are only anxious to have persons
become members of their organizations, and seem to think it but a
stumbling block to preach that sinners must be born again. They
try every scheme they can conceive of to get numbers. But
Primitive Baptists can never follow such practices without
forsaking the doctrines of the Bible and changing the principles
of true service. We may be very anxious for our churches to
grow, but adding the world to them will subvert the very end we
wish to attain--the increase of our spiritual enjoyment. Unconverted persons, being of the world, will want to bring in
worldly things, which soon destroy the church.
But all the members, together with the pastor, should want
to see all who have a hope in Christ become members of the
church. Of course before coming in they will need to accept the
doctrine of grace and feel willing to submit to the order of the
church. Here is a work for the pastor. He should instruct them
in the doctrine of salvation by grace. In his sermons he should
have it in view that there may be persons in the congregation who
need instruction that they may some day become faithful members
of the church.
The pastor and members of the church should search out
(Jeremiah 16: 16; Matt. 4: 19) all who have a hope of salvation,
talk with them to know if they are in harmony with the doctrines
and practices of the church, and encourage them to do their duty.
I feel that it would be right when persons desire to unite
with the church, and are too timid to arise and come forward, for
members who know their feelings to obtain their consent to bring
the matter before the church. There is no good reason for making
it as difficult as possible for the timid and weak to come to the
church. It is hard at best for them to feel that they have a
right to come to the church, and often all the members are
convinced that individuals ought to be members of the church, and
have fellowship for them, but because these persons are so weak,
and have so little trust in themselves, and have so many doubts
to struggle with, they remain out of the church to their own
sorrow and to the disappointment of the members. Surely this is
not right. The church home is intended as a protection and a joy
for the pilgrims and strangers in the earth, and every barrier
should be taken out of the way, or at least none erected.
I have heard of some ministers who, when announcing the door
of the church open for the reception of members, said, "Now if

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you can stay away just do so; but when you can no longer stay
away, come to the church." Whether the theory of these brethren
is right or wrong, certain it is they can find neither example
nor precept in the Bible for such teaching. The Bible is full of
exhortation and encouragement. One would not say to a child,
"Disobey your father just as long as you can, but when he forces
you to observe his precepts do so." If it would be showing
disregard to an earthly parent to teach in this manner, is it not
contempt for our heavenly Father to so teach His children? When
we find one who gives evidence of the Spirit's work in his heart,
we find one who ought to openly profess Christ before men by
coming into the church.
It is a common custom to request a person who desires to
join the church to come forward and give his hand to the
minister. The person is then seated conveniently until the hymn
is finished, if the congregation is singing. When the
congregation is seated the minister or moderator requests the
applicant to tell the church what the Lord has done for him, and
to speak freely, as he is among friends. When he has finished,
the members are given the opportunity to ask any questions that
they may desire that they may be fully persuaded in their minds
as to his Christian experience and fitness for the church. Then
the moderator asks, "What will the church do with the
application?" A motion is then in order to receive the applicant
for baptism, or to reject, as may be the mind of the members. When the question is put every member should vote and the church
must be unanimous if the candidate is received. The form of
voting is usually by raising the right hand.
If the person is received the brethren all extend the right
hand as a token of fellowship, though the candidate is not
considered to have the full privileges of the church until after
The ordinance of baptism should be attended to as soon as
possible after the candidate has been received. If it is the
duty and privilege of an individual to be baptized, it is not
becoming in the church to encourage a delay. Nothing can be
considered as baptism except immersion in water by an ordained
minister, duly authorized by the Primitive Baptist church.
Restoring members is receiving persons back into fellowship
who have been excluded. This is usually done by the excluded
member going to the church from which he was excluded and making
acknowledgements for the wrong committed, which, if satisfactory,
is followed by a motion to forgive and restore to full
It sometimes happens that members move away from the church
of their membership into the bounds of another church and while
there act so as to be excluded. If they repent, the church in
whose bounds they live will know more about the evidences of
repentance than the home church, and it is my opinion it would be
right for such persons to go to the church whose members know of
their lives, and make application for restoration, and have this
church recommend their home church to restore them and give them

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a letter, which could then be made a matter of record when
received by the church to which they came with their application
for restoration. It seems proper that the church where they
would want membership should judge their lives and make the
recommendation for restoration.
A church should not be too rigid with members which have
been excluded. When the church sees by their lives that they are
humbled and repentant, and have turned away from the course that
cut them off, it should invite them back to membership again. The purpose of exclusion should not be to destroy the members,
but to turn them over to satan for the destruction of the flesh
(I. Cor. 5: 5) and when that end has been attained the purpose
has been served, and there is no use to keep them out longer. True, it would be right for them to turn at once, and
acknowledging their wrong, come humbly to the church. But we
should remember the weakness of the flesh, and do unto others as
we would have them do unto us.
In receiving members by letter, the church will satisfy
herself that the church issuing the letter is sound in the faith
and in gospel order. A letter from such a church should be all
the recommendation needed to obtain membership. When the letter
is handed in, and has been read, the moderator should give the
person presenting it an opportunity to talk to the church, after
which a motion to dispose of the application will be in order.
If the person bearing the letter is received, the clerk of
the church should at once inform the clerk of the church issuing
the letter of the fact so that its records may be kept complete.
Persons may be received on "relation," that is, they may
have had connection with a church which has gone down, so that
they cannot get letters of dismission, and they may come to the
church and relate the facts of their connection with said church,
and satisfying the members that there is nothing to bar them from
membership, may be received. But as long as the church of their
membership is in existence, members should get letters of
dismission before uniting with another church.

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When members desire to change their membership from one
church to another they should get a letter of dismission from the
church of their membership and present it to the church where
they desire to make their home. The only purpose for which a
letter can be granted is to unite with another church. Some
brethren have labored under the mistaken idea that as soon as a
letter of dismission is granted the person receiving it is out of
the church until he puts it into some church, but such is not the
case. Brethren sometimes desire to get out of a church because
they become offended at some brother, or at some action of the
church, and in such cases have been known to ask for letters of
dismission when they had no idea of uniting with any other
The fact is, a letter of dismission, according to its own
terms, does not dismiss until it is presented to some other
church and is accepted. A person holding a letter as much
belongs to the church that issued it as he did before it was
granted, and his obligations are in no wise changed. And it is
the duty of the church to look after him just the same as before
the letter was issued until he shall put it into some church.
Sometimes brethren who live at a distance from the church
ask for letters, giving as a reason that they are so far away
that they cannot attend the meetings of the church. This is no
reason at all, because as above stated, they still belong to the
church as long as they hold the letter. Letters of dismission
should not be granted unless members desire to join other
churches, and it would be right to ask them what church they
desire to unite with. It requires a unanimous vote of those
present to grant a letter of dismission.
I would recommend the following form for letters of

The _____________________ Church of Primitive Baptists (post
office, county and state), holding the following doctrine:
Special atonement by Jesus Christ for the elect of God, who
are predestinated unto the adoption of children, and kept by the
power of God unto glory.
Do certify that ___________________________ is a member in
good standing and in full fellowship with us, (state if ordained)
and is by this dismissed from us when joined to another church of
the same faith.
If the holder of this letter does not become a member of
some church within one year from this date he is required to
report to this church reasons for holding the same, with such
other information as the church may require.
Any church receiving this letter will please notify the
clerk of this church.
Given by order of the church at the regular meeting on the
______ day of _____________, _______.

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_____________________________________ Moderator

_____________________________________ Clerk

The clerk of the church receiving the letter may write on
the back of it: This letter presented to and accepted by
___________________ Church (post office, county and state) on the
______ day of ________________, _______, and the bearer received
into full fellowship.

______________________________________ Clerk

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Seeing that all are weak it is to be expected that all will
err. This is the teaching of the scriptures. Christ died for
sinners and the regulations given the church show that its
members will probably do wrong. The most prominent men mentioned
in the Bible either confessed error or were convicted of it. Christ taught that offenses would come (Matt. 18: 7) and exhorted
to forbearance and forgiveness (Matt. 18: 21; 18: 35; Luke 11:
4). So while the fact is to be deplored, yet we should not get
discouraged when the members of the church do wrong, for such has
been the history of men and women throughout all time.
But the church, if walking according to the rule laid down
in the scriptures, is well calculated to correct wrongs and bring
the erring back to the way of right. This is the end for which
the rules are given, and when they are used otherwise they are
perverted. The pastors of churches, and every lover of the
prosperity of Zion, should try to impress on the members of the
church the thought that one object of the church is to correct
the erring and save them from their weaknesses.
While it is admitted that members may do wrong, and
forbearance should be exercised toward them, yet the church
should not encourage wrong doing in any direction, either in
permitting brethren to violate the rules of right or to fail in
demeaning themselves as members of the church.
The course to be pursued with all erring members is much the
same in all cases. True, there is a difference between giving
personal offense to a brother and committing a wrong which
affects no one member more than another, but the principle upon
which the brother is to be approached to save him is one and the
same. The object in approaching him should be to save him to the
church and preserve the fellowship of the brethren.
When one brother gives offense to another, the matter is
just between the two brethren and should be settled without any
one else knowing anything about it. The brother offended should
go at once to the brother giving the offense, being sure that he
goes in the right spirit. (Matt. 18: 15.) If a brother, instead
of taking this course, should begin to tell the matter to others,
he has given offense to the whole church, and should make his
acknowledgements to the church in regular session. And the
church should take up the case of any brother who claims that a
brother has trespassed against him, and is talking about the
matter instead of going according to the directions given, as
cited above.
But if a brother has gone in love to one who has trespassed
against him, and has not been able to settle the matter, he may
take one or more brethren with him to reason with the brother who
has trespassed, his object being to have these brethren try their
influence to have the matter settled, and not simply to make
witnesses out of them against the brother. He should take
friends of the brother who has trespassed, and not his own
friends, and especially should he be careful not to take persons

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who do not have a good feeling for the brother, for they would be
inclined to make more trouble instead of making it less. If the
brethren taken effect an agreement, here the matter stops. But
if they fail to accomplish anything, the offended brother will
take the matter to the church, that the church may judge of it. The object in going to the church with it should not be to have
the brother put out of the church, but to rest the matter with
the church for its decision as to who is in the wrong. The
church should investigate the matter until the members are ready
to give their decision, which should be accepted by the two
brethren. But if either of them will not submit to the decision
of the church, the church may drop him from her fellowship, and
he "shall be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican."
If the brother who is offended does not take the matter up,
and go to the brother who has trespassed, and it becomes known to
the trespassing brother that he has aught against him, he should
at once go to the offended brother and try to reconcile him. See
Matthew 5: 23,24. He should proceed just the same as in Matthew
18: 15-17. Some brethren seem to feel that the offended brother
must take the matter up, or no attention is to be paid to it. But any brother who has the interest and peace of Zion at heart
should not want anyone to be carrying a hurt against him if he
can heal it with an explanation or an acknowledgement.
If two brethren have a difference between them, and are hurt
at each other, and will do nothing to be reconciled or to bring
the matter into the church for its decision, and it becomes known
to the members, they should have the deacons go to each of them
separately and show them that they should not be irreconciled to
their brethren, and try to get them to settle the matter. If
they cannot get them to act they should take other brethren with
them to reason with the brethren. If they accomplish nothing,
the matter should be brought into the church. Feuds in a church
should not be tolerated. Brethren should be willing to
acknowledge their wrongs and to forgive others as they ask the
Lord to forgive them.
If a brother violates the law of right with respect to
morals, or his duty to the church, he should make his
acknowledgements to the church. The manner of proceeding in such
cases is much the same as in the cases cited above. The deacons
should go to the offending brother alone and try to show him the
error of his way, and how he hurts the church by his actions, and
try to have him come to the church and acknowledge his wrongs. Before bringing the matter to the church they should take other
brethren to reason with him. Of course any brother can take such
matters up, but members do not like to do things that are just as
much the duty of others, and which will seem to indicate that
they have a personal feeling in the matter.
This class of offenses should cover all acts that are
clearly forbidden in God's word and such things as are certainly
inconsistent with the character of a member of the church of
One of such things I will mention because it is so generally

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disregarded, and because some brethren seem to think that nothing
can be done in such cases, and that is, remaining away from the
church meetings. We certainly have a rule on this subject
(Hebrews 10: 25) and the church is in error if it is not
enforced. Members who "forsake" assembling with the church are
worth nothing to keep the church up. Of course if they are too
far away to attend, or sick, or old, that is different. The
church will be able to judge, however, whether members are
blamable for remaining away from the church or not. Where they
are at fault they should either amend their ways or the church
should drop their names from its roll, stating the cause
therefor. There should be effort made to recover such members
the same as for any other wrong doing. It is contempt for the
church and is disregarding the scriptures to stay away from the
church meetings when it is possible to attend, and such a
practice should not be tolerated.
The authority of the church is from God, and the members of
the church have not the right to make void its laws by permitting
members to ignore them. Sometimes members declare that they will
not attend the meetings, and that they do not want membership in
the church. Such brethren should be labored with at once, and if
they do not see the error of their way, the church should not
keep them on its roll of members, as the church should not be a
prison for anyone. If the authority of the church is firmly
upheld it will command more respect from the members and there
will not be so much trouble. Nothing should be done hastily nor
harshly, but all action should be deliberate and kindly, showing
the fear of God and love for his children.
Churches may sometimes err and some member may be wronged. If there seems a probability of this in any case, the church
might agree with the individual to have brethren come in from
other churches to hear the matter and give their advice. Brethren met under such circumstances may form a council and hear
the evidence submitted by both sides. The council has no power
to pass upon the matter farther than to advise, as the only power
of action is in the church. Yet other churches might take the
judgment of the council as a basis for their action in passing on
whom they would receive. This procedure may also be followed
where a church has divided over questions which the members have
not been able to decide among themselves. Both parties should
join in calling for a council of brethren and submit all things
fairly, desiring to know the right and to do it. As before said,
the council cannot decide the matter, but the brethren forming it
may give their best judgment, and the brethren submitting the
matter should sacrifice personal feelings, if the doctrine nor
practice of the church is compromised, and come together on the
recommendations of the council and live in peace. Of course it
is better for brethren to settle their difficulties among
Most of the troubles in churches come from talking too much. What is said about a little grievance makes more trouble than the
real grievance. A good rule for every member of the church to

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remember is, Don't talk about any brother or sister. If this
rule was observed there would be but little trouble, and what
there was would not spread very far. But as soon as brethren get
to talking about a grievance they get other brethren interested,
who soon take part, and in a little while many are into trouble
over a very trivial affair. Another good rule is, Don't get
mixed up in someone else's trouble. The best rule of all is, "Be
perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace, and
the God of love and peace shall be with you."--II Cor. 13: 11.

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Making choice of a pastor is a very important matter with a
church, and should be gone into prayerfully. Some churches are
so situated that they have but little choice about the matter, as
there is but one minister available. These churches should be
satisfied and get the best possible service from the minister who
attends them. If he is not the most brilliant speaker, nor the
best gift that they know of, they should not begin to mistreat or
neglect him, but take the more care of him and pray that God may
bless him to their needs and them in his service. Many ministers
are discouraged because it is so plainly manifest that the
membership of the church do not think they have sufficient
ability to serve the church. This is wrong. If the church
cannot do better, let it make the very best of the situation.
But where a church has the opportunity of making choice
between ministers it should do so very carefully. Different
members will have their likes and dislikes, each finding what is
congenial to him in different ministers. As far as possible this
influence must be guarded against. A member who is of a jolly,
jovial disposition would like to have a pastor who would indulge
his disposition, while he, perhaps, needs a sedate pastor to curb
his disposition towards undue levity. The needs of the whole
church and its surroundings must be taken into consideration, and
then all pray to the Lord of the harvest to send a laborer. There should be due notice given that a pastor is to be chosen. Let it be understood by all that unless all should want one man
some one will not get his first choice, but all should feel that
the will of the majority is to be followed, and the call made
unanimous. When the vote has been taken, let the name of the one
receiving the majority be announced. Then let there be a motion
to make the call unanimous, and if possible let the motion
prevail by unanimous vote. But if there are any who for
conscience' sake cannot vote to make the choice unanimous, the
call fails. No Primitive Baptist minister can afford to try to
preach to a church where there are objections that cannot be laid
down. The church might demand of the objector his reasons and
then pass on them as to whether the member is justified in
holding them or not, and he may waive them at the judgment of the
church. Or if he persists in objecting, when the church thinks
it without reason, it may deal with him for opposing it without
sufficient grounds. This same course might also be taken in the
reception of members where there is objection. But in either
case the action of the church should in the end be made
Some churches choose a pastor for an indefinite period,
while others choose for a period of one year. The latter allows
both church and pastor to be free when the time expires, and a
change can be made if thought advisable. If a pastor is chosen
for an indefinite time the members may feel that they can get
better service by changing, but none might feel like bringing the
matter up, and it might drag along to the injury of the church.

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Churches may get into a condition where it is not prudent to
call a pastor. They may then get ministers to preach for them
until conditions change and it is thought advisable to choose a
pastor. A minister who was not ordained might preach for a
church regularly and have some ordained minister administer the

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In every community where there are a sufficient number of
brethren to keep up regular services, and have the gospel
preached, there should be a church organization. These brethren
have the power of organization within themselves. As no one
church can be inferior to another they do not have to get
authority from some other body to organize into a church. Of
course the persons who come together to meet as a church must be
regularly baptized persons, and if they have belonged to other
churches must have letters of dismission. But a minister might
go into a country where there were no Primitive Baptists and
receive and baptize enough persons to organize a church, and if
the faith and practice were apostolic the church would be a
church of Jesus Christ in order. The first churches were
doubtless organized in this way.
It is common, however, when brethren wish to meet together
as a church where they are convenient to other churches, to ask
that a council of brethren be sent them from the churches
nearest, not to give them authority to constitute a church, but
to witness their soundness in the faith and gospel order, and to
recommend them to the churches in general as being one with them
in faith and practice. When a council of brethren are met for
this purpose they choose a moderator and clerk. Then the
standing of the proposed membership is examined, to see if they
have letters from churches in order, or have been regularly
baptized. Then the church covenant with the names of the members
affixed is read, and the articles of faith upon which they have
agreed are examined. All being found in order, the council moves
to approve and to recognize them as a church in order, which is
further manifested by the council extending to the members of the
church the hand of fellowship.
The church then chooses a moderator and clerk and adopts
suitable rules of decorum, establishes a meeting day, etc., and
takes its place among the sisterhood of churches. The following
form of covenant may be used:
We, whose names are subscribed below, do hereby covenant
together to meet as a church of Jesus Christ, holding the
doctrines set forth in the attached articles of faith, and
agreeing with each other to such practice as is taught in the
scriptures. This church is to be known as the __________________
Primitive Baptist church.
Witness our hands hereunto subscribed this ______ day of
_______________, _____. (Here follow names of all who enter into
the constitution.)

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This work has been written while pressed with many duties,
the manuscript being prepared on trains while going to
appointments, and at various short intervals, and I am painfully
aware of many defects. But in response to requests of many
brethren I send it forth, hoping that it will awaken
investigation on the subjects treated.
Submitting these "Suggestions," I am
Yours to serve in the gospel,


Marceline, Mo., September 8, 1899.

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