Itinerant Preaching

Mark 10:46
      And they came to Jericho: and as He went out of Jericho with his disciples…

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): They were itinerants; and, as I have frequently observed, seldom stayed long in a place: not that this is any argument against the stated settlement of particular pastors over particular parishes: but, however, our Lord’s practise in this respect, gives a kind of sanction to itinerant preaching, when persons are properly called to, and qualified for, such an employ. And I believe we may venture to affirm―though we would by no means prescribe or dictate to the Holy One of Israel―that, whenever there shall be a general revival of religion in any country, itinerant preaching will be more in vogue. And it is to be feared, that those who condemn it now, merely on account of the meanness of its appearance, would have joined with the self-righteous scribes and Pharisees in condemning even the Son of God Himself for such a practice…An itinerant pilgrimage-life is what I choose; and why? It was the life of my blessed Lord.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): I fear that we have not enough of the divine method of itinerancy. Paul was a great itinerant: he preached in one place, and there were twelve converted there; he made a church at once; he did not stop till he had five hundred; but when he had twelve, he went off to another place.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD: Was not the Reformation began and carried on by itinerant preaching? Were not Knox and the other Reformers itinerant preachers?”

ROWLAND HILL (1744-1833): I am more than ever convinced that itinerant preaching does a world of good, and that God blesses it continually.

C. H. SPURGEON: I love to go ranging here, there, and everywhere. I do hold that itinerancy is God’s great plan. There should be fixed ministers and pastors, but those who are like apostles should itinerate far more than they do.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): I know that, were I myself to preach one whole year in one place, I should preach both myself and most of my congregation asleep…The world is my parish.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): I have not strength of body or mind sufficient for an itinerant preacher…To ride a horse in the rain, or more than above thirty miles in a day, usually discomposes and unfits me for anything.

AUGUSTUS TOPLADY (1713-1778): I consider the true ministers of God as providentially divided into two bands: the regulars, and the irregulars. The former may be compared to sentinels, who are to keep to their stations―the latter, like troops of light-horse, are to carry the arms of their sovereign wherever an opening presents, or wherever occasional exigence may require. Both these corps are useful in their distinct departments and, in my opinion, should observe the same harmony with each other as obtains among the stationary and planetary stars, which are fixed and erratic in the regions above us.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): Sharpshooters may do execution, as well as the rank-and-file soldiers, and belong to the same army, though their movements are detached, and they seem to act irregularly.

AUGUSTUS TOPLADY: Hitherto, I have considered myself as a regular…I remember that, in one of my last conversations with dear Mr. Whitefield [before] his last voyage to America, that great and precious man of God said to me—“My good sir, why do not you come out [to America]? Why do you not come out? You might be abundantly more useful, were you to widen your sphere, and preach at large, instead of restraining your ministry to a few parish churches.” My answer was: “The same Providence which bids others [to] roll at large seems to have confined me to a particular orbit.”

C. H. SPURGEON: When the Redeemer ascended on high he received gifts for men, and those gifts were men fitted to accomplish the edification of his church, such as evangelists, pastors, and teachers.

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): An evangelist is one who possesses a bona fide gift from Christ, the Head of the Church. If a man has not this gift he is not an evangelist, though able to speak ever so fluently. We believe there is one feature which invariably characterizes a true evangelist, namely, an intense love for souls—a thirsting for their salvation, in order that Christ may be magnified.

ROBERT MURRAY M’CHEYNE (1813-1843): Such was George Whitefield; that great man scarcely ever preached without being melted into tears.

C. H. MACKINTOSH: An evangelist is, of necessity, more or less, a traveller. The world is his sphere.

JOHN NEWTON: When I have the examples of our Lord and His apostles in my view, I cannot doubt the lawfulness of preaching on mountains or plains, in market-places, or on the sea shore. But things in themselves lawful, are not always, or to all persons, expedient…I thought, and still think, it my duty to preserve a consistency of character; for I was not ordained to be an apostle or evangelist, to spread the gospel throughout a kingdom, but to take care of the particular flock committed to my charge.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Teaching is, no doubt, the duty of all pastors…Pastors, in my opinion, are those who have the charge of a particular flock.

C. H. MACKINTOSH: The grand business of the evangelist is to bring the soul and Christ together; the business of the teacher and pastor is to keep them together…The proof that a man is a divinely sent evangelist is that souls are converted by his ministry; and the proof that a man is a divinely sent teacher or pastor is that the people of God are built up and led on by his ministry.


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