TAKE HEED UNTO THYSELF AND UNTO THE DOCTRINE
'Take heed unto thyself and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.' 1 Tim. 4:16.
In remarking upon these words We shall consider four things:
I. THE RESPECTS IN WHICH A MINISTER SHOULD TAKE HEED TO HIMSELF.
II. THE RESPECTS IN WHICH HE SHOULD TAKE HEED TO THE DOCTRINE HE PREACHES.
III. WHAT IS INTENDED BY CONTINUING IN THEM.
IV. WHAT WE ARE TO UNDERSTAND BY HE SHALL SAVE BOTH HIMSELF AND THEM THAT HEAR.
I. Some respects in which a minister should take heed to himself.
1. He should not take heed to his own self-interest, as the great end of pursuit.
- If a minister gives himself up to look after his own interest instead of the interest of God, he will be worse than useless as a minister.
2. He should not take such heed to his reputation.
- With such a state of mind as this, the minister is a perfect slave to public sentiment rather than the freeman of Jesus Christ.
3. Ministers should take heed to the motives by which they are actuated in entering upon the great work of the ministry.
- Be careful, brethren, that you make no mistake on this point. See that your eye is single to the glory of God
4. Take heed that you are called of God in this work.
- But let your mind be well satisfied that it is the will of God, that you should be separated to the work of the gospel ministry.
5. Take heed to yourselves that you are studious men.
- Do not suppose that you can run about without study or reflection during the week. A good minister must be a student.
6. Take heed that you do not encumber yourselves with unnecessary cares.
Take upon your hands no business or labor that shall interfere with your high calling.
7. Take heed that you do not encumber yourselves with an unsuitable companion for a wife.
- See that you do not unite yourself with a worldly woman, one who is fond of dress, or property, or worldly society. If you do, she will greatly injure your influence, if not entirely ruin it.
8. Take heed that you have a thorough experience of the power of the gospel in your own souls.
- Do not preach Christ by hearsay. Your preaching will take very much of the character of your Christian experience.
9. Take heed that you realize your dependence upon Christ.
- Remember that He has expressly told you, that except you abide in Him, you can do nothing, but that if you abide in Him you shall bring forth much fruit. Do not depend upon your education, upon your eloquence, or the strength of your intellect.
10. Take heed to yourselves that you do not neglect much secret prayer.
- Unless you are in the habit of coming to your people from the mount of communion, you will do them little or no good.
- Pray much or you will cease to pray at all. Pray honestly. Pray earnestly. Pray perseveringly. Pray in faith. Pray effectually. Pray in the Spirit. Pray without ceasing, or you will cease to pray at all.
11. Take diligent heed that you grieve not the Holy Spirit of God.
- Remember, that in every stage of your ministry you are in danger of doing this. If you grieve away the Holy Spirit, you are a withered branch, a cast away minister.
12. Take heed that you rule your own spirit.
- 'He that ruleth his own spirit is greater than he that taketh a city.' If a minister cannot govern his temper he is likely to do very little good in the world.
13. Take heed to yourselves that you govern your tongue.
- Few things in the world do so much mischief as an unbridled tongue in the mouth of a minister.
14. Take heed to yourselves that you preach out of the pulpit as well as in it.
- that your whole demeanor out of the pulpit shows that you mean what you say when you are in the pulpit. If this be not so, though you may be called a grand preacher, you will, nevertheless, be a bad minister.
15. Take heed that you be in all things an example to the flock.
- Do not content yourselves with preaching well, but do well whatever you do. Always be punctual to the hour and moment of your appointments. Never be late at meeting. Never be behind hand with any of your engagements.
16. Take heed to yourselves that you seek not magical power.
Be not among those who are endeavoring to concentrate magical power, Such ministers are a curse to the Church.
17. Take heed to yourselves that you be not flattered.
- It is the sin and curse of many churches and congregations, that they spoil their ministers by flattering them. They compliment them about their splendid sermons, their profound learning, their great eloquence, and even sometimes go so far as to compliment them on account of the elegance of their personal appearance.
18. Take heed to yourselves that you preserve a conscience void of offense toward God and toward man.
- If in any thing you violate your conscience, you, in that proportion, lose your confidence in God, and in yourself, cover your own face with confusion, and tie your own hands, so as to prevent your fearlessly attacking sin in high and low places.
II. In what respects you are to take heed to the doctrine.
1. Be sure you have a thoroughly developed idea of what constitutes true religion.
- Nothing is more common than for ministers and people to make a mistake here
2. Take heed that you thoroughly develop this idea in your hearers.
- Observe narrowly their daily walk, to see whether they are benevolent. Mark their prayers and conversation, that you may understand whether they distinguish between a religion of feeling and of outward action, and a religion of supremely disinterested benevolent intention.
3. Take heed that you preach the whole doctrine of the gospel.
- Many ministers seem able to preach sinners under conviction, but can go no farther. They can make sinners see their sins, but cannot tell them how to get rid of them.
- Others still can tell sinners how they may be forgiven, but cannot tell Christians how they may be sanctified.
- You must be qualified to preach to them the higher doctrines of grace, and to preach them from your own experience, or you can do them comparatively little good.
4. Take heed that you live out the doctrine of Christ.
- Remember that the doctrine of the gospel is not taught merely in the pulpit. It is often most emphatically and impressively taught out of the pulpit by the temper, spirit, and life of a disciple.
III. What is intended by continuing in them.
The Apostle says, 'Take heed to thyself and to the doctrine; continue in them: for in so doing, thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee.'
- By continuing in them is meant, the continuing to take heed to yourself and your doctrine.
- Do not take it for granted, that if for some time, or for any length of time, God shall be with and bless you, that He will therefore always do so, whether you continue to take heed to yourself and to the doctrine, or not.
- Remember that if at any time, or under any pretense, you neglect to take heed to yourself and to the doctrine, to continue in them, He will cast you off. 'Therefore be not high-minded, but fear.'
IV. what is intended by the phrase, 'In so doing, thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.'
1. This may be understood either as a declaration or a promise.
- It may be regarded either as a declaration, that those who take heed to themselves and their doctrine, shall save both themselves and their hearers, or as a promise that upon this condition, such shall be the result.
2. The language is general and not universal.
- We are not to understand the Apostle as affirming strictly a universal truth, that all who hear such a minister shall be saved.
- Judas listened to Christ, who certainly took heed to Himself and to his doctrine, and yet he was not saved.
- But he lays it down as a general truth, that upon this condition ministers shall not only be saved themselves, but shall be instrumental in saving their hearers.
3. This passage of scripture is the faithful minister's strong hold.
- It is his consolation amid his trials, his strength and his support. Let him but persevere in the fulfillment of the condition, and the result is as certain as the truth of God.
1. Remember that you are to exercise faith in this and kindred promises--to expect the salvation of your hearers as much as your own salvation--to plead the promise of God in respect to them, as well as in respect to yourselves.
2. Always remember the condition upon which this and other promises are given. You are to believe the promise, and fulfill whatever other conditions may be expressed or implied. In this case you are not only to believe the promise, but remember that you are to take heed to yourself, and to your doctrine.
3. If you neglect either condition, you will fail. If you take heed to yourself, and do not take heed to your doctrine; or if you take heed to the doctrine, and do not take heed to yourself, or should you do both these, and still disbelieve the promise, in either case, the end will fail, and the blame will be your own.
4. How much it is to the interest of any people that a minister should comply with these conditions, and how unjust the minister is to the people, as well as rebellious against God, and injurious to his own soul, if he neglect to take heed to himself and to the doctrine.
5. What an infinite blessing a true and faithful minister is to a people. From what has been said, it is plain, that as a general truth, the minister has it within his power, not only to secure his own salvation, but also the salvation of those that hear him. What a blessing, then, to any people to have a faithful minister.