I have been of late listening to Richard Baxter’s Reformed Pastor on audio (see below), and have loved it. Baxter is very insightful, and cuts through to expose your deepest depravity. Consider this section on the importance of the pastor believing and feeling what he preaches. If a pastor is not concerned for his own soul about the things whereof he preaches, how can be trusted to be concerned for the soul of others?
These things are never well known till they are felt, nor well felt till they are possessed; and he that feeleth them not himself, is not likely to speak feelingly of them to others, nor to help others to the feeling of them. How can you follow sinners, with compassion in your hearts and tears in your eyes, and beseech them, in the name of the Lord, to stop their course, and return and live, and never had so much compassion on your own soul, as to do this much for yourselves? What! can you love other men better than yourselves Can you have pity on them, who have no pity upon yourselves? Sirs, do you think they will be heartily diligent to save men from hell, that be not heartily persuaded that there is a hell? Or to bring men to heaven, that do not truly believe that there is a heaven? As Calvin saith on my text; ‘For never will the man take diligent care for the salvation of others who neglects his own salvation.’ He that hath not so strong a belief of the Word of God, and of the life to come, as will withdraw his own heart from the vanities of this world, and excite him to holy diligence for salvation, cannot be expected to be faithful in seeking the salvation of other men. Surely he that dare damn himself, dare let others alone in the way to damnation; he that, like Judas, will sell his Master for silver, will not stick to make merchandise of the flock; he that will let go his hopes of heaven, rather than leave his worldly and fleshly delights, will hardly leave them for the saving of others. We may naturally conceive, that he will have no pity on others, that is wilfully cruel to himself; that he is not to be trusted with other men’s souls, who is unfaithful to his own, and will sell it to the devil for the short pleasures of sin. I confess that man shall never have my consent to have the charge of other men’s souls and to oversee them in order to their salvation that takes not heed to himself but is careless of his own, except it were in case of absolute necessity, that no better could be had. (1.2.8)
You can actually download this book in audio format at ChristianAudio for free until the end of May. (HT: JT) Use coupon code MAY2007.