Thomas Murphy on The Minister’s Love for Christ

Thomas Murphy speaks about the only motive that will enable a minister to faithfully and steadily serve in his office through thick and thin:

All other motives than the constraining love of Christ in the heart soon lose their influence.  There are no doubt other incentives, such as ambition, love of learning and desire for social influence, that may carry forward a minister for a while with apparent pleasure.  But they will not stand the wear and tear of years of drudgery and trial.  If the pastor who is chiefly actuated by these is successful, they will soon satiate; if he is not as successful as he expected to be, he becomes discouraged and disgusted with his office.  If there is nothing more than these, the ministry soon becomes a miserable failure.

But when the love of Chris reigns in the heart supremely, it gives an impulse to the whole life that is ever steady and joyous.  The wear and tear of toiling years will not wear it out.  Sometimes there may appear only little success, but it has a faith that lays hold of the promises and is not discouraged.  Through prosperity or adversity, among friends or enemies, in failing or continuing health, it moves steadily forward, impelled by an inward affection that cannot be quenched.  Instead of years and trials wearing it out, it only grows stronger and stronger with the lapse of time.  It constantly intensifies as more and more is seen of the love of Christ and the value of souls.

Pastoral Theology, pg. 55

Murphy notes that such love for Christ can only be created by the work of the Holy Spirit, but notes that the minister must remain in constant prayer, asking God to change his heart and kindle his love for Christ:

In everything should the minister wrestle in prayer, because God is so willing to hear and to help him, because it is so safe to rely always on the infinite understanding and infinite power, and because this carrying every act before the throne will turn the whole life into an unbroken service of God.

Pastoral Theology, pg. 71

I’ve noticed that Murphy’s description of ministerial piety is influenced by his belief in the “inestimable value” of revivals (pgs. 330-46).  Though his revivalist-sounding approach to ministerial piety should be nuanced in light of Scott Clark’s articulation of a distinctly Confessional-Reformed piety (RRC, ch. 3; note pg. 110), Murphy’s call for ministers to devote themselves to prayer, to devotional reading of the word, and to preaching the word to his own heart (to name just a few) is indeed wise and valuable advice!

I am truly amazed, humbled and edified the more I work through this 19th century gem on Pastoral Theology!

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Andrew