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Watch out for yourselves (Richard Baxter)

This article is taken from the book The Christian Pastor by Richard Baxter

Take heed to yourselves, for your sins are more heinous than those of other men.

“A great man,” said King Alfonso, “cannot commit a small fault. How much more can we say that an enlightened man, charged with instructing others, cannot commit a slight sin, or at least that a slight fault in another becomes serious in him.

1 ° You are more likely than others to knowingly sin, because you have more enlightenment and more means to acquire it. You know that greed and pride are sins. You are well aware of how guilty you are when, unfaithful to your charge, through negligence or selfishness, you allow souls to be lost. “You know your master's will, and you know that if you don't, you will be beaten with more blows. The more extensive your knowledge, the more ardent your zeal must be.

2 ° Your sins are tainted with more hypocrisy than those of others, because your mission is to preach ceaselessly against sin. You seek to destroy sin in others, you want to make it odious and contemptible to them, so you would be criminals to love in secret what you blame in public. You would only be miserable hypocrites, if you habitually lived in the transgressions which you condemn, and if you imposed on men burdens which you yourself would not want to touch with your fingertips, if after all your preaching was not sincere. . Oh ! Beware of this self-righteous hypocrisy, which speaks one way and acts another! More than one minister of the gospel on the day of judgment will be confused by this accusation of hypocrisy.

3 ° Your sins are more odious than those of others, because you have made a solemn commitment to renounce them. Besides your commitments as Christians, you have many others as ministers. How many times have you proclaimed the shame and the danger of sin! How many times have you threatened him with God's judgments! How many times, therefore, have you made a commitment to give it up! Every sermon, every exhortation, every public confession of sins imposed on you an obligation not to commit any more. Whenever you have administered baptism or Holy Communion, you have implicitly declared that you are renouncing the world and the flesh to give yourself to Christ. And yet, after having so often lifted yourselves up in testimony against the odious and condemnable nature of sin, after so many professions and protests, you would commit it again! Oh ! What a betrayal, after having so often condemned it in the pulpit, to still nurture it in your heart, and to give it the place which is only due to God!

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