Being Able to Do Our Duty in Worship in the Hearing of the Word

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C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
I'm working on a book by John Jackson (1600-1648), dealing with conducting one's self in public worship.

I personally preached through a series called "The Lord's Voice Cries to the City" which surrounded how the congregation should consider the act of preaching from their perspective. I'm also taking up this same topic (Lord willing) in our June General Assembly.

In thinking about this in-depth, Jackson (a Westminster Divine) is so on point, that after reading him, it causes you to feel as though you just don't know what you are doing in spiritual duties. He is so thorough and deep, that you'd think to yourself, I just don't know how to pray well, or read well, or attend holy duties well. Not just that we are inadequate, but that we have not been instructed well on how to do them the way they should be done.

That said, he comes upon making a note on beginning to hear the word of God in a right way when it is preached. What he is assuming, though, is that preachers are doing their job rightly so we can do our job rightly in hearing. And this, as it stands today, is woefully inadequate. He even says that if the hearer hears, aside from whether the preacher is any good or not, the hearer ought to prove all things and keep that which is good. In doing this, not only does the responsibility become greater on our part, but it does so even when it is more difficult because of poor preaching.

"As the minister begins to perform his duty, so begin in a holy manner to attend the preaching of the word; if he has begun, join with him and the people (having pursued God in your heart to help you in this) in that duty that they are entered on.[1] Behave yourself so in that, and in all other duties of God’s worship, you may hold forth your acknowledgement of God’s holiness, that by your demeanor the Lord may appear to be a holy God. And as you hear the Word then or at any other time or place, make note on all things, so especially the things that concern you, that instructs you where you are ignorant, that reproves you where you are sinful, that exhorts you where you are negligent, that opens your understanding, that inclines your will, that humbles your heart, that comforts your soul, that quickens you to believe and love, and to live to God, that you may apply it as you were before directed...And whenever you hear the Word, remember to hear it without respect of persons, and as an ordinance of God for your soul’s good, and do not think better nor worse for it simply because of the person that speaks it,[2] but prove all things, and keep that which is good."

[1] 1 Corinthians 14:33; 1 Peter 1:15-16

[2] 1 Thessalonians 2:13
 
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