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Pastoral Book Reviews – The Christian Ministry
Reviewed by Dr. C. Matthew McMahon
The Christian Ministry
by Charles Bridges
Banner of Truth Trust, Carlisle, PA: 1997
390 Pages, Hardback.
Charles Bridges (1794-1869) was one of the leaders of the Evangelical party in the Church of England in the last century. He was vicar of Old Newton, Suffolk, from 1823 to 1849, and later of Weymouth and Hinton Martell in Dorset. The Christian Ministry is Bridges’ best-known literary work.
Bridges divides his work into 5 parts: 1) The General view of the Christian’s Ministry (which covers such topics as the Divine Origin and Institution of the Christian Ministry, Qualifications of the Ministry, and Preparation for the Ministry) 2) General Causes of the Want of Success in the Christian Ministry (which covers topics such as The power of Satan a main hindrance to Ministerial Success and the want of a Divine call a main cause of failure in the Christian Ministry), 3) Causes of Ministerial Insufficiency connected with our Personal Character, 4) The Publick Work of the Christian Ministry, and 5) The Pastoral Work of the Christian Ministry (Here he discusses cases in the work of Pastoral ministry like “the infidel” and “the young Christian).
This book is another ladened with practical and important truth which every minister should cling to. Bridges will raise the level of the pastorate in the eyes of all those who claim the banner of Christian ministry in this regard. He will also show what the pastorate is and what the pastorate is not. He will dispel the fallacies and engage the Pastor in his work, rebuke him, exhort him, and aid him in becoming a better and more reliable witness for the truth of Christ.
“The Great Head of the Church has ordained three grand repositories of His truth. In the Scriptures…in the hearts of Christians…and in the Christian Ministry.”
“For the minister, the whole work of our our particular calling is a kind of living heaven…” (footnote)
“None but He who made the world can make a minister of the Gospel.”
“The solid establishment of the people may be materially hindered by the minister’s contracted statements, crude interpretations, or misdirected Scriptural application.”
“It will not fail to be objected that if none were to be admitted into holy orders, except those who are possessed of every necessary qualification, there could not possibly be procured a sufficient number of Pastors for the supply of our Churches. To which i answer, that a small number of chosen Pastors is preferable to a multitude of unqualified teachers. At all hazards we must adhere to the command of God, and leave the event to Providence. But in reality the dearth of pastors is not so generally apprehended. To reject those candidates for holy orders, whose labors in the church would be wholly fruitless, is undoubtedly a work of piety. Others, on the contrary, who are qualified to fulfill the duties of the sacred office, would take encouragement from this exactness and severity; and the Ministry would every day be rendered more respectable in the world.”