Mark 4:24; 2 Corinthians 13:3,5,6
Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given.
Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me…Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates.
ROBERT TRAILL (1642-1716): Surely you must think they were bold and saucy professors, that sought a proof of Christ’s speaking in and by Paul, as 2 Corinthians 13:3. To them he saith in effect, “Instead of your trying, whether Christ speaks by your ministers, inquire if Christ be in yourselves or not. If Christ be not in you, they have spoken to little good purpose to you: and if Christ be in you, you will quickly know who they be that speak in Christ’s name unto you, and whether Christ speaks by them to you.”
ANDREW FULLER (1754-1815): Ministers are received for―and are given to you―by Christ. As men, and as sinful men, ministers are as nothing, and wish not to make anything of themselves; but, as the gifts of Christ, it becomes you to make much of them. If you love Christ, you will make much of your minister, on account of his being His gift—a gift designed to supply Christ’s absence in a sort. He is gone―ascended―but He gives you His servants…If you fear God, you will be afraid of treating your pastor amiss, seeing he is the gift of Christ. God took it ill of Israel for despising Moses, Numbers 12:8: He is “My servant.”
MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Make much of the ministers that are where our lot is cast, if they have ordained mercy to be faithful, though they are not of the most eminent.
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): In all congregations, however the preacher be clothed with his Master’s Spirit and his Master’s might, there will be a mixed gathering; there will come together your Pharisees and doctors of the law, your sharp critics ready to pick holes, your cold-blooded cavilers searching for faults; at the same time, chosen of God and drawn by His grace, there will be present some devout believers.
BASIL (329-379): Many go to hear a preacher, not as learners, but as spies, anxious to find out the weak parts of his discourse; and who, even in the Scriptures, seek matter for criticism, not edification.
JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): They attend not so much to be instructed, as to pass their sentence. To them, the pulpit is the bar at which the minister stands to take his trial before them; a bar at which few escape censure, from judges at once so severe and inconsistent. For, as these censors are not all of a mind, and perhaps agree in nothing so much as in the opinion they have of their own wisdom.
THOMAS ADAMS (1583-1656): Many are like barbers, that trim all men but themselves.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): There was an old preacher whom I knew very well in Wales. He was a very able old man and a good theologian; but, I am sorry to say, he had a tendency to cynicism. But he was a very acute critic. On one occasion he was present at a synod in the final session of which two men were preaching. Both these men were professors of theology. The first man preached, and when he had finished this old preacher, this old critic turned to his neighbour and said, “Light without heat.” Then the second professor preached―he was an older man and somewhat emotional. When he had finished the old cynic turned to his neighbour and said, “Heat without light.”
C. H. SPURGEON: And he criticizes everything, but never feeds upon the truth at all. Like a madman at table he puts his fork into the morsel and holds it up, looks at it, finds fault with it, and throws it on the floor.
JOHN FLETCHER (1729-1785): When you are under the Word, beware of sitting as judges and not criminals. Many judge the manner, matter, voice, and person of the preacher. You, perhaps, judge all the congregation, when you should judge yourselves…When you have used a means of grace, and do not find yourselves sensibly quickened, let it be a matter of deep humiliation to you.
JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): We do not come to the preaching to say ‘I was there,’ but to reflect on the Word that we have heard.
THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): One duty and necessary practice of God’s children, is to hide the word in their hearts. See it confirmed by a scripture or two―Receive, I pray thee, the law from his mouth, and lay up his words in thine heart, Job 22:22; Let the word of God dwell in you richly, Colossians 2:16. Oh, therefore, labour to get something into thy heart by every sermon; some fresh notion or consideration is given out to set you a work in the spiritual life.
EDMUND CALAMY (1600-1666): Let the sermon thou hast heard be converted into prayer.
THOMAS MANTON: A conscientious waiting upon God will find something every time. It is sad to consider how many have heard much, and laid up little or nothing at all, it may be they have laid it up in their note-books, but not laid up the word in their hearts.
WILLIAM GOUGE (1575-1653): The preaching of the word is a great help to bring us to do the will of God. And that is in a double respect. First, because the will of God is thereby the more clearly, distinctly, and fully opened to us. Secondly, because it is a means sanctified of God to greed credence to the truth of that which is revealed, and affiance therein; yes, and to bow our will, heart, and affections to yield thereto, and to be settled thereon. In this respect, says the wisdom of God, which is especially set forth in the preaching of His Word, Blessed is man that heareth me; watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors, Proverbs 8:34.
WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Even when the Christian, through weakness of memory, cannot remember the very words he hears to repeat them; yea, then he keeps the power and savour of them in his spirit, as when sugar is dissolved in wine you cannot see it, but you may taste it―so you may taste the truths the Christian heard, in his spirit, and see them in his life.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Some of you want a little pushing in this direction, for I know a great many Christians who live as if the main point in religion was to enjoy yourself. “I enjoyed that sermon. I enjoyed that prayer-meeting.” Yes, that is quite right. But have you done anything? Have you served your Master? Have you offered anything to Jesus? Have you brought forth fruit to His glory? Oh, it is a good thing to be watered; it is a blessed thing to stand in the warm sunlight and grow; but after the watering and the sunshine must come the fruit-bearing, or we shall be barren fig trees after all.
MATTHEW HENRY: If men did but consider that it is God that speaketh unto them by the mouth of His ministers, they would hear and heed much better.