Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 28, 1966
NUMBER 12, PAGE 2b-3

Excerpts From Adam Clarke's "Letter To A Preacher"

Jesse M. Kelley

(Note: These excerpts have been chosen from a book entitled "Christian Theology" by Adam Clarke, and are under a sub-title "Letter to a Preacher". We have chosen here some of the more interesting paragraphs from this letter and pass them along to our readers. Some are amusing; some are serious and thought provoking. J. M. K.)

"If Christ be a priest forever, there can be no succession of priests; and if he have all power in heaven and in earth, and if he be present wherever two or three are gathered together in his name, he can have no vicars; nor can the church need one to act in his place, when he, from the necessity of his nature, fills all places and is everywhere present. This one consideration nullifies all the pretensions of the Romish pontiff, and proves the whole to be a tissue of imposture.

"A man may be well taught in the things of God, and be able to teach others, who has not had the advantages of a liberal education.

"Teachers who preach for hire, having no motive to enter into the ministry but to get a living, as it is called ominously by some; however they may bear the garb and appearance of the innocent useful sheep, the true pastors commissioned by the Lord Jesus, or to whatever name, class, or party they may belong, are, in the sight of the heart-searching God, no other than ravenous wolves, whose design is to feed themselves with the fat, and clothe themselves with the fleece, and thus ruin, instead of save the flock.

"He who preaches to get a living, or to make a fortune, is guilty of the most infamous sacrilege.

"His blood will I require at thy hand: "--I will visit thy soul for the loss of his. 0 how awful is this! Hear it, ye priests, --ye preachers, --ye ministers of the gospel; ye especially, who have entered into the ministry for a living: ye who gather a congregation to yourselves that ye may feed upon their fat, and clothe yourselves with their wool; in whose parishes and in whose congregations souls are dying unconverted from day to day, who have never been solemnly warned by you, and to whom you have never shown the way of salvation, -- probably because ye know nothing of it yourselves. 0, what a perdition awaits you! To have the blood of every soul that has died in your parishes or in your congregations unconverted, laid at your door! To suffer a common damnation for every soul that perishes through your neglect! How many loads of endless woe must such have to bear! Ye take your tithes, your stipends, or your rents, to the last grain, and the last penny; while the souls over whom you made yourselves watchmen have perished, and are perishing through your neglect! 0 worthless and hapless men! better for you had ye never been born! Vain is your boast of orthodoxy, while ye neither show nor know the way of salvation;--vain your pretensions to a divine call, when ye do not the work of evangelists. The state of the most wretched of the human race is enviable to that of such ministers, pastors, teachers, and preachers.

"We did not seek temporal emolument; nor did we preach the gospel for a cloak to our covetousness: God is witness that we did not; we sought you, not yours. Hear this, ye that preach the gospel! Can ye call God to witness that in preaching it ye have no end in view by your ministry but his glory in the salvation of souls. Or do ye enter into the priesthood for a morsel of bread, or for what is ominously and impiously called "a living, a benefice?" In better days your place and office were called "a cure of souls;" what care have you for the souls of them by those labors you are in general more than sufficiently supported? Is it your study, your earnest labour, to bring sinners to God, to preach among your heathen parishioners the unsearchable riches of Christ?

"Even in our enlightened country, we find prophets who prefer hunting the hare or the fox, and pursuing the partridge and pheasant, to visiting the sick, and going after the strayed, lost sheep of the house of Israel. Poor souls! they know neither God nor themselves; and if they did visit the sick, they could not speak to them to exhortation, edification, or comfort. God never called them to his work, therefore they know nothing of it. But 0 what an account have these pleasure-taking false prophets to render to the Shepherd of souls!

"The church of God has ever been troubled with such pretended pastors; men who feed themselves, not the flock; men who are too proud to beg, and too lazy to work; who have neither grace nor gifts to plant the standard of the cross on the devil's territories, and by the power of Christ make inroads upon his kingdom, and spoil him of his subjects. On the contrary, by sowing the seeds of dissension, by means of doubtful disputations, and the propagation of scandals; by glaring and insinuating speeches, (for they affect elegance and good breeding,) they rend Christian congregations, form a party for themselves, and thus live on the spoils of the church of God.

"How can worldly minded, hireling, fox-hunting, and card-playing priests read Ezek. 34:2, etc., without trembling to the centre of their souls? Woe to those parents who bring up their children merely for church honours and emoluments! Suppose a person have all the Church's revenues, if he have God's woe, how miserable is his portion! Let none apply this censure to any one class of preachers exclusively.

"How unutterably must the punishment of those be who are chaplains to princes or great men, and who either flatter them in their vices, or wink at their sins!

"Were men as zealous to catch souls as they are to support their particular creeds and forms of worship, the state of Christianity would be more flourishing them it is at present.

"He who boasts of his ancestry, talks of his mighty sacrifices, and insinuates that he has descended from much dignity, respectability, ease, and affluence, in order to become a Methodist preacher, is the character of which Mr. Wesley speaks, Rule 8. Such a one effects the gentleman, whiles to be thought so by other, may be thought so by persons as empty as himself; but, in the light of every man of good common sense, is a vain, conceited, empty ass; is unworthy of the ministry, should be cast out of the vineyard, and hooted from society." (Whew!! J. M. K.)