I confess, some of these words of Paul have been so often presented before my eyes, and impressed upon my conscience, that I have been much convinced by them of my duty and my neglect. And I think this one speech better deserveth a twelvemonth’s study, than most things that young students spend their time upon. O brethren! write it on your study doors – set it in capital letters as your copy, that it may be ever before your eyes. Could we but well learn two or three lines of it, what preachers should we be!
[a] Our general business – Serving the lord with all humility of mind and with many tears.
[b] Our special work – Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock.
[c] Our doctrine – Repentance toward God and faith toward our lord Jesus Christ.
[d] The place and manner of teaching – I have taught you publicly and from house to house.
[e] His diligence, earnestness, and affection – I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. This is that which must win souls, and preserve them.
[f] His faithfulness – I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, and have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
[g] His disinterestedness and self-denial for the sake of the gospel – I have coveted no man’s silver or gold or apparel: yea these hands have ministered unto my necessities and to them that were with me remembering the words of the lord Jesus, how he said, it is more blessed to give than to receive.
[h] His patience and perseverance – None of these things move me neither count I my life dear unto me, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the lord Jesus.
[i] His prayerfulness – I commend you to god and to the word of his grace which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.
[j] His purity of conscience – Wherefore I take you to record this day that I am pure from the blood of all men.
Write all this upon your hearts, and it will do yourselves and the Church more good than twenty years’ study of those lower things, which, though they may get you greater applause in the world, yet, if separated from these, they will make you but as ‘sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal.’ (The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter, pg. 229-230)