RUNNING, BUT NOT SENT
My first maxim is, that none but He who made the world can make a minister of the Gospel. If a young man has capacity, culture and application may make him a scholar, a philosopher, or an orator; but a true minister must have certain principles, motives, feelings, and aims, which no industry or endeavours of men can either acquire or communicate. They must be given frorn above or they cannot be received.
I would likewise be satisfied, as much as possible, concerning the views and motives which make men desirous of devoting themselves to the ministry. Some desires of this kind are very frequently found in young converts. When a sense of eternal things is new and lively upon their minds, and they look round upon a world lying in wickedness, they are much affected. The obligations they feel to the Redeemer, a grief that He should be so little known, so little loved, and a compassion for their fellow-sinners, whom they see liable to perish for lack of knowledge, make them often long to be employed, and sometimes constrain them to run before they are sent. But if they are not really designed by the Lord for this service, either their desires towards it gradually subside, and they yield themselves to His appointment in other paths of life; or if they unadvisedly venture upon it, they are seldom either comfortable or useful. They soon feel themselves unequal to the work; or, if self-conceit prevents them from feeling it, their hearers are very sensible of it. They often mistake errors for truth; they retail scraps and shreds of sentiments which they pick up from others, and for want of judgement misapply them. Thus hypocrites are encouraged and those whom the Lord would have comforted are made sad. They think that preaching with power consists in vociferation and distorted attitudes; and that to utter everything that comes upon their minds, without end or side (as we say), without any regard to text, context, occasion, or connexion, is to preach extempore. Too often Satan gains open advantage over them. They are puffed up with pride, taken in snares, and perhaps fall into such woeful miscarriages as at length ruin their characters, and stop their mouths. It is therefore of great importance to be workers together with the Lord in this business; to choose those whom He chooses, to bring forward those whom He is preparing, and, if possible, none but these. We cannot indeed know the heart, but we may be wary and circumspect in judging by such lights as we can procure; and we ought to be so. Perhaps, after all, we may be mistaken in some instances; but if we have done our best, we have done well, and shall not be blameable for such consequences as we could not possibly foresee or prevent.