Isaac Watts' Questions for Ministers - pt. 2

Here are parts 3-5 of Isaac Watt’s questions for young ministers. As I mentioned previously, old ministers can benefit from this kind of internal investigation, as well. If these questions seem over-scrupulous I would argue that the reason is to be found more in the laxity of our day regarding pastoral ministry than in any tendency toward morbid introspection in Watts’ day.

Section III

Of Constant Prayer and Dependance
  1. Do I “give myself to prayer, as well as to the ministry of the word?” Acts vi. 4.
  2. Do I make conscience of praying daily in secret, that I may thereby maintain holy converse with God, and also, that I may increase in the gift of prayer? Matth. vi. 6.
  3. Do I make it my practice to offer “prayers, supplications, and intercessions for all men,” particularly for our rulers, and for my fellow labourers in the ministry, and for the church of Christ, and especially for those to whom I preach? 1 Tim. ii. 1. Rom. i. 9, 10. Phil. i. 4.
  4. Do I seek by prayer, for divine direction and assistance in my studies, and in all my preparations for the public? and do I plead for the success of my ministry with God, in whom are all our springs? Eph. iii. 14-19. Phil. i. 8, 9.
  5. Do I ever keep upon my spirit a deep sense of my own insufficiency for these things, that I may ever depend and wait on the power of Christ for aid and success? 2 Cor. ii. 16. and iii. 5. and 2 Tim. ii. 1.

Section IV

Of Self-Denial, Humility, Mortification, and Patience
  1. Do I endeavour to please all men for their good, and not make it my business to please myself? Rom. xvi. 2. But to become all to all, that I may win their souls, so far as is consistent with being true and faithful to Christ? 1 Cor. x. 23, and ix. 19, 22.
  2. Do I behave myself before men, “not as a lord over God’s heritage, but as a servant of all for Christ’s sake?” and do I treat them not as having dominion over their faith, but as a helper of their joy?” 2 Cor. iv. 5. and i. 24.
  3. Am I “gentle and patient towards all men, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves?” 2 Tim. ii. 24, 25.
  4. Do I “approve myself in all things as a minister of God; in much patience possessing my own soul,” and having the government of my own spirit? 2 Cor. vi. 4.
  5. Do I, as a man of God, whose business is heavenly, flee from covetousness and the inordinate desire of gain; not seeking my own things so much as the things of Christ? 1 Tim. vi. 10, 11. But having food and raiment, have I learned therewith to be content? 1 Tim. vi. 8.
  6. Am I willing “to endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ?” 2 Tim. ii. 3. and am I learning to bear whatsoever God calls me to, “for the sake of the elect, that they may obtain salvation with eternal glory?” 2 Tim. ii. 3. 10.
  7. Am I more and more fortified against shame and suffering for the testimony of my Lord Jesus Christ? 2 Tim. i. 8-12.
  8. Am I willing “to spend myself and to be spent for the good of the people, or even to be offered up, as a sacrifice for the service of their faith? and do I count nothing dear to me, that I may fulfil the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus?” Phil. ii. 17. 2 Cor. xii. 15. Acts xx. 24.

Section V

Of Conversation
  1. It is my constant endeavour to “hold fast the true faith, and a good conscience together, lest making shipwreck of one, I should lose the other also.” 1 Tim. i. 19.
  2. “Do I so walk as to be an “example of Christian, in word, in conversation, in charity, in faith, in purity?” 1 Tim. iv. 12; that in “all things I may show myself a pattern of good works?” Tit. ii. 7.
  3. Do I endeavour to walk uprightly amongst men, and do nothing by partiality? 1 Tim. v. 21.
  4. Is my conversation savoury and religious, so as to minister edification to the hearers? Eph.. iv. 29.
  5. Do I “shun youthful lusts, and follow after righteousness, faith, charity, and peace with all them that call on the Lord, out of a pure heart? 2 Tim. ii. 22.
  6. Do I avoid, as much as possible, the various temptations to which I may be exposed, and watch against the times, and places, and company which are dangerous?
  7. Do I practise the Christian duty of love and charity, to those who differ from me in opinion, and even “bless and pray for them that are my enemies?” Rom. xii. 14; and xiv. 1.
  8. Do I behave myself blameless as a steward of God, not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, nor filthy lucre, no brawler, no striker; a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate? Tit. i. 7, 8.
  9. Do I daily endeavour “to give no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed?” 2 Cor. vi. 3.
  10. Do I watch over myself in all times, and places, and conversations, so as to do and to bear what is required of me, to make a full proof of my ministry, and to adorn the doctrine of God my Saviour? 2 Tim. iv. 5. Tit. ii. 10.
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