Novices must not be made Pastors of the Church. He is blind that perceiveth not in Christ’s example, a most notorious Condemnation of the pride of those that run into the Ministry, or that hasten to be Teachers of others, before they have had time or means to learn

Richard Baxter’s Cure of Church Divisions was published in 1670, in the hope of persuading presbyterians and congregationalists not to leave the Church of England after the 1662 Act of Uniformity.

Here is a second extract, reminding us how to cope with a church not faithful to God’s word:

Forget not the great difference between Novices and experienced Christians; between the babes and those at full age; between the weak and the strong in grace: Level them not in your estimation. It is not for nothing that the Spirit of God in Scripture maketh so great a difference between them, as you may read in Heb. 5. 11–14,  6. 1f, I Tim. 3. 6, I John 2. 12–14. There are babes, strong men, and fathers among Christians. There are some that are dull of hearing, and have need of milk, and are unskilful in the word of righteousness, and must be taught the principles; and there are others who can digest strong meat, who by reason of Use, have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Novices must not be made Pastors of the Church. It is not for nothing that the Younger are so often commanded reverence and submission to the Elder; and that the Pastors and Governors of the Church, are usually called by the name of Elders; because it was supposed that the elder sort were the most experienced and wise, and therefore Pastors and Rulers were to be chosen out of them…  Christ would not enter upon his publick Ministry or Office, till he was about thirty years of age. Luke 3. 23. He is blind that perceiveth not in this example, a most notorious Condemnation of the pride of those that run into the Ministry, or that hasten to be Teachers of others, before they have had time or means to learn; and that deride or vilifie the judgments of the aged, who differ from their conceits, before they understand the things in which they are so confident.

I know that the old are too oft ignorant, and that wisdom doth not always increase with age: But I know withall, that Children are never fit to be the Teachers of the Church; And that old men may be foolish, but too young men are never wise enough for so high a work. We are not now considering, what may fall out rarely as a wonder, but what is ordinarily to be expected.

Most of the Churches confusions and divisions, have been caused by the younger sort of Christians: Who are in the heat of their zeal, and the infancy of understanding: Who have affection enough to make them drive on, but have not judgement enough to know the way. None are so fierce and rash in condemning the things and persons which they understand not, and in raising clamours against all that are wiser and soberer than they. If they once take a thing to be a sin which is no sin, or a duty which is no duty, there is no person, no Minister, no Magistrate, who hath age, or wisdom or piety enough, to save them from the injuries of juvenile temerity, if they do not think and speak and do according to their green and raw conceits.

Remember therefore to be always sensible of the great disadvantages of youth, and to preserve that reverence for experienced age, which God in nature as well as in Scripture hath made their due. If time & labour were not necessary to maturity of knowledge, why do you not trust another with your health, as well as a studyed experienced Physician, and with your Estates, as well as a studyed Lawyer? And why do no Sea-men trust any other, to govern the ship, as well as an experienced Pilot? Do you not see that all men ordinarily are best, at that which by long study they have made their profession.

I know those that I have now to do with will say, that Divinity is not learnt by labour and mens teaching, as other Sciences and Arts are; but by the teaching of the spirit of God: and therefore the youngest may have as much of it as the eldest. There is some truth and some falshood, and much confusion, in this objection. It is true that the saving knowledge of Divinity, must be taught by the Spirit of God: But it is false that labour and human teaching are not the means which must be used by them, who will have the teaching of the spirit.

Consider I pray you, why else it is, that God hath so multiplied commands, to dig for it as for Silver, and search for it as a hidden treasure: to cry for Knowledge and lift up our voice for understanding: to wait at the posts of wisdom’s doors: to search the Scriptures and meditate in them day and night: Is not this such study and labour as men use, to get understanding in other kind of professions? Are not these the plain commands of God? and are they not deceivers who contradict them?

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