The Dignity of the Christian Ministry
Romans 11:11-22
I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come to the Gentiles…

The word "magnify," employed to express the qualities of an object or pursuit, conveys the idea of something highly esteemed, honourable, glorious. And this is the estimate which Paul put on the office he sustained as a minister of Jesus Christ. The dignity of the Christian ministry may be seen by contemplating —

I. THE AUTHORITY BY WHICH IT ACTS. That the Christian ministry has had its origin in an appointment directly from Heaven, it were folly for any to question who bow to the teachings of revelation. This claim has been asserted from the beginning, and in not a single instance has it ever been modified or relinquished. I say not that the ministry of the New Testament is in all respects identical with that of the Old. There is now no official earthly priesthood, for the one great Sacrifice has been offered "once for all." And yet I do say that, as a Divinely appointed agency to meet the spiritual wants of the world, the ministry is not peculiar to the Christian dispensation. The ministry, and, in its most important attributes, the Christian ministry too, has existed under every revelation of the gospel as the medium of spiritual intercourse between Heaven and earth. Change of names, or of forms, or of outward service, does nothing to disturb what is strictly essential to the great ministerial function, nor to mar the integrity of that gracious system in which it has ever held an indispensable place.

II. THE OBJECTS IT CONTEMPLATES. In all the departments of man's social condition we discover ample proofs of the salutary influence which the ministry is fitted to exert. The influence of the pulpit upon the intellectual condition of man is a subject worthy the profoundest thought of all who are lovers of their kind. There is no agency under heaven that can bear with so much power upon the convictions and motives of humanity as the ministry of the gospel. Compared with the attainments of the human mind under the influence of Christianity, all its achievements amid the most favourable auspices of paganism are light and trivial. It was reserved for teachers mightier than those of the Academy or the Lyceum to proclaim to the world those great principles upon which its elevation, purity, and glory are made to rest. In like manner must it be said that the ministry of the gospel constitutes a most essential element in the progress of civilisation. The science of government, the theory of civil and religious liberty, are properly understood and appreciated only where the pulpit is true to its glorious mission. But to the ministry of the gospel appertains still higher honour. The gospel has to do pre-eminently with man's spiritual nature, and has a direct bearing upon interests that affect his eternal destiny. The ministry goes forth on its benevolent mission. It preaches the gospel — the gospel as a source of light, making known a new element in the character of God — an element of mercy. It preaches the gospel as a source of power, by which the bondage of depravity is broken, the prey is taken from the mighty, and the captive is made free. It preaches the gospel as a source of consolation, by which the spirit is cheered amid all the trials of life, till Death itself falls a conquered monster at his feet, and he is away to the bosom of his Father and his God. And I ask, must not the instrumentality that stands connected with such glorious results as these be of all others the most dignified and important?

III. THE MEANS WHICH IT EMPLOYS. Though several agencies might be mentioned having a concurrent influence in accomplishing the objects of the ministry, yet there is one that holds such a preeminence above all others, that we shall confine our attention to it alone: it is truth — "the truth as it is in Jesus." How comprehensive and profound, how noble and soul-stirring the themes there presented for investigation!

IV. THE AIDS THAT ARE PLEDGED TO IT. Among these we specially note the Spirit and Providence of God. Is there anything the mind can contemplate more truly sublime and beautiful than this alliance of the weakness of humanity with the strength of Divinity? thus constituting the ministry associate labourers with the eternal God in the regeneration of the world! But the Providence of God is also pledged to aid in the same great enterprise. Christ, the Author of the gospel and the Founder of the ministry, is "Head over all things to the Church." Not only by Him were all things created, but by Him also are they sustained and controlled and made subservient to the accomplishment of His purposes of grace.

(D. Kennedy, D.D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.

WEB: I ask then, did they stumble that they might fall? May it never be! But by their fall salvation has come to the Gentiles, to provoke them to jealousy.

The Conversion of the Jews
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