And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor?—Jeremiah 2.18.

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A Collection of Notes

On William Perkins’ The Art of Prophesying.

Shared for the sake of other readers, or those who might find the references of useful service.

By Jeremy T. Kerr.

William Perkins

The Art of Prophesying and The Calling of the Ministry

From Puritan Paperbacks Series, Banner of Truth.

Finished reading 2015.02.10.

Read at the advice of my wife after waiting 16+ years.

Overall conclusion: Solid. Practical. Spiritual. I liked this sufficiently to send copies to local pastors who I didn't really know anything about. I would encourage others to do the same. I noticed nothing I would criticize, but I'm rather far from being qualified to do so. The two points of insight I found most worth noting were Perkins' comments about the necessity that faithful spiritual ministers should be at peace with one another, (page 99,) and that a pastor must look to his King (the Lord) for his maintenance, and not to those to whom the King sends him as ambassador, (page 182.) It is to be noted also, that Perkins has a brief comment about how Christians may help one another when there are no godly ministers, (page 104,) but he does not specify the limits or circumstances of how "godly Christians" shall do so. In any case, it implies that he recognized the reality that sometimes the Church is so backslidden that not only sceptics, schismatics, and hypocrites, but also godly Christians would find no congregation to attend, and no minister to whom to listen. It also makes clear that Perkins would have godly Christians then to fellowship one another, rather than the various erring parties of our still-beloved Church Catholic. Mr. Perkins makes very evident his opposition to all false pretensions to the ministry, regardless of a man's abilities and sincerely felt impulses to intrude into the office of the ministry without an actual commission.

--------- Notes ------------

[ The first two sections discuss the nature of preaching and the Word of God. ]


Sect/ParaNote / Info
20 [Comparing original publication, it is clear the editors have left out references
23-24Order for studying scripture
25 Directions for composing commonplace Books
Preparation: Interpret Meaning & Division for orderly exposition
Means of Interpr: Analogy of Faith; Circumstances of Passage; Comparison with other passages
30 Analogical places: apparent meaning is clearly consistent with the Analogy of Faith
30 Rule: If natural meaning agrees with circumstances then natural meaning is correct
Cryptic places: Natural meaning of words Difficult, obscure, or Disagrees with analogy of Faith or clear Scriptures
Seek Meaning which agrees with (1) Both Similar and Different Passages; (2) Circumstances & words of passage; (3) Nature of what is being discussed
"This must be right" --- But suppose more than one?!
Implication: (1) Occasionally it is appropriate to supply words.
33 (2) Alt. explanation that requires changing one noun for another implies the use of a figure of speech
Anthropomorphism, sacramental language, communication of properties,
God's involvement in evil - "must" refer to "working permission,"
[Unedited text for Perkins comment about God and evil: "Things spoken of God, which carry with them the shew of evil, must be understood in regard of his operative or working permission." Language better left untouched.]
Unfinished things described as finished,
Sins representing sins of the same kind
Threats and promises normally imply certain conditions
37 "Signifying will distinguished from God's "will of good pleasure"
Exclusive speech concerning Divine person may not exclude other persons
Term 'God' may be meant absolutely, or used referring to the Father.
38 General & Particular words: *all* may mean *many*; many may mean *all*
(3) Grammatical & Rhetorical properties of words
Ellipsis shows brevity or expresses deep emotion
Pleonasm is doubling word or phrase: has various uses in different parts of speech.
Irony / Sarcasm often implies rebuke
Repetition of word or sound; Question-Form

[ Notes page 1-V ]

41ff.Various types of scripture "contradictions" explained/resolved
41 1 Peter 3.19 --- Christ in his Spirit preached to those now in prison
46 Meaning most appropriate to context, where the natural sense of a passage can be determined, should be understood for words with multiple meanings
47 Alternate Greek/Hebrew readings to be determined based on the grammatical construction, sense of context, and analogy of the faith
48 Rightly handling the Word of God: 2 Tim. 2.15; Isa. 50.4.
49 Resolution: State Doctrines from text
Sometimes explicit. Especially in NT quotes of OT
Sometimes implicit --- Drawn from what is implied.
50 Certain kinds of examples have force of rule in their own sphere
52 Augustine interprets Psalm 72.14 as relating to interest
Analogies / Allegories should not be used to prove a point of doctrine
53 We must not rest our faith on human testimonies but only use them for conviction
53 Doctrine stated should have only a few scriptures used for proof
54 Application: handle doctrine as appropriate to circumstances of time & place and to people in congregation
Ezek. 34.15,16; Jude 22,23.
54 Know whether scripture passage is Law or Gospel
55 Understanding Law qualified by the gospel
7 Ways to make Application:
56 (1) For unbelievers both ignorant & unteachable --> Preparations
Either they become teachable or must eventually be left
56 (2) For those who are teachable but ignorant --> Catechism
"Principles of the Faith" Defined
57 "Milk" and "Strong Meat" explained and categorized
57 (3) For those who have knowledge but were never humbled --> Repentance
58 Ministry of law to be used to work godly sorrow: grieve for sin as sin
57 True repentance for one sin is repentance for all sin. --> Cofmort w/ the Gospel
(4) Already humbled but not completely --> Expound Law tempered w/ Gospel
(5) Those who believe --> Teach Gospel, Law w/o Curse, Meditate on Curse Usefully
60 For those who have fallen back --> Various resolutions for failures in Doctrine, Apprehending Christ, or Life Style
60 Fundamental and Secondary Doctrines Distinguished
61 Will to believe is faith
61 In sinful world all God's works are done by means which are contrary to him
62 Ministerial Power of binding & loosing to be used
(7) For Churches with both believers and unbelievers --> Expound Law & Gospel texts w/in biblical limitations.
63 Do not make any consciences despair while proclaiming law to hardened

[ Notes page 2-R ]

Varieties of Application: Mental & Practical
64 Mental: Doctrine or Reproof --- Limitations for Refuting Error
65 Practical: Instruction or Correction --- Include self when possible
-----------------------------------------
69 Memory: Artificial Memory aids rejected
70 Horace: words "will not unwillingly follow the matter that is premeditated"
70 Word-for-word memorized disadvantageous
-----------------------------------------
Preaching the Word
71 Human wisdom must be hidden though it be studied, Because it is the word & Spirit of God which produces Faith
72 Demonstration of the Spirit. 1 Cor. 2.4: minister's conduct makes evident that Spirit of God speaks in him & by him
72 Spiritual speech: Avoid Greek, Latin, Odd Phrases, Stories, Vulgarity
Scripture directs pastors to teach by their example: Phil. 4.8; 1 Tim. 4.12; 1 Pet. 5.3
73 Minister ought to cover his infirmities so they are not obvious
74 Preacher's Holiness: Good Conscience, Sense of Doctrine, Fear of God, Love for People... Constancy, Self-Restraint
75 Grace: Ability to Teach, Authority in Preaching, Zeal
76 Gestures: Voice loud enough, moderate in exposition, fervent in exhortation;
Trunk erect & still, arms, hands, face, & eyes move expressively
Example of widely respected godly ministers a guide
-----------------------------------------
Prayer: Minister is voice of the people in Calling upon God
77 Subject: Sin, Grace Needed, Rulers, Topics of Lord's Prayer
78 Form: Minister leads, people silent until Amen
-----------------------------------------
-----------------------------------------
The Calling of the Ministry Part I
Titles of True Ministers
85 Messenger / Angel: Deliver God's Word just as you received it.
Preaching with plainness is preaching with power b/c demonstration of God's Spirit
88 Woman's head covering in 1 Cor. 11, and the meaning of angels
89 Interpreter: Both for God to people and for people to God
89 Must have the tongue of the learned to speak a word in season to weary (Isaiah 50.4):
    Human learning, Outward Divine [knowledge], Spirit of God
91 Must be taught by the Spirit of God, but this is not same as "revelations"
91 Must be reconciled to God, to present others to God for pardon or to commend the state of Grace to others
91 Must put our corruptions to death and throw aside unruly affections to come into the holy presence of the Lord
92 The few who are converted under unsanctified ministers serve to show that the power of the Gospel is not in ministers but God's ordinance
92 "God hates anyone who takes it in hand to reconcile others to God while he himself remains unreconciled"
92 True ministers must first be God's interpreters to their own consciences

[ Notes page 2-V ]

Scarcity of True Ministers
93 The rarity of true ministers is self-evident from experience in all ages
94-95Reasons few seek the calling of minister:
(1) Contemned by men; (2) Heavy burden of duty; (3) Inadequate Financial Recompense
96 Rulers & Magistrates must support the "schools of the prophets"
97 Four years learning sufficient to Papists and encouragement for our speed
98 Without Liberality of Rulers and good discipline of schools, good ministers yet less
Ministers must (1) Take care not to decrease number of Good ministers
(2) Increase number by attracting others to honourable calling, and
99 (3) Unite together with all godly ministers and avoid division
99 Students should direct studies and thoughts to this and themselves with best helps
Others should value & respect their ministers and consecrate their children for the work
-----------------------------------------
The Office of True Ministers
102 "To declare unto man his righteousness" --- Preach Justification by Christ
102 Declare this righteousness "to those who repent and believe" --- Proper Duty
Complete Duty: Preach Repentance; Preach Faith in Christ & Free Forgiveness; Declare Righteousness
Teach where Righteousness is to be found and how to obtain it.
103 Proclaim [objective] righteousness --- able to justify and save every sinner
Must witness to consciences of poor sinners --- help doubting & distressed consciences
Must maintain truth about Righteousness against all who deny it and may call all things to witness; pledge his own soul that this is a true, perfect, all-sufficient Righteousness
104 Christians may profitably help one another when there are no godly ministers
105 Ministry must not assure people of Righteousness who seek it in themselves
105 Law & Gospel must both be preached and always Law first, then Gospel
God promises to bless the minister's testimony but blesses others to show where Power [really] is
106 Minister should have a sense of the high privilege of their calling
107 Gospel-hearers must also be content to be first declared miserable by the Law
107 Fathers should dedicate children to be ministers --- better than lawyer or physician
-----------------------------------------
The Work of True Ministers --- Its Blessing
109 Sympathy & co-operation between the heart of God and the task of the Minister
109 Minister pronounces mercy to penitent sinner and immediately God has mercy
God ties his blessing to the faithful preaching of his word - honors word preached
110 God binds and looses, remits and retains, with his ministers, confirming their word
110 Examples of binding and loosing
Rulers & Authorities have their commands confirmed in heaven [therefore] must [all] submit to Ministers of Word
111 Ministers must remember that the word of reconciliation is God's, not their own
111 People must hear ministers often and never hear the devil's messengers
112 People also must remember ministers word is actually God's word, not his
112 When there are not ministers God blesses the pronouncing forgiveness by others, but ordinarily this blessing is tied to ministers' calling
113 Reasons why Christians generally do not have the power/ability of binding/loosing
113 What private Christians may do when there is no magistrate or no minister
-----------------------------------------
The Commission and Authority of True Ministers
115 Commission to Redeem Souls: Apply the means; pronounce soul safe when means used
116 Ministers must do work of Redeemers: Pray Earnestly, Confer, Admonish, Preach
117 Christian ministers should have right motive and use more energy than Muslims, etc.
118 Fathers should see it as great honour to prepare their sons for the Ministry
118 Those who listen to preaching of God's Word should submit to it
119 Our duty to submit to rebuke, have our sins unveiled and corruptions torn up
119 We must cooperate with our minister while he uncovers our souls weaknesses and purges their corruptions --> Needful to "redeem" us
-----------------------------------------
-----------------------------------------

[ Notes page 3-R ]

The Calling of the Ministry Part II
124 Calling to the ministry Renewed: Extraordinary Minister confirmed again and again by very extraordinary means
124 We ought to doubt those who claim an extraordinary calling and yet can scarcely show the signs of an ordinary calling. We may rightly require signs.
God drives his people to fear and wonderment for other reasons than anger
128 Whoever steps into ministry w/o fear puts himself forward: Doubtful he is called
128 God's purpose to prevent us from presuming too much or trusting in self
128 It is a special danger of ministers to have high opinions of themselves because of the high dignity of their office
129 We must rejoice when God humbles us and learn to not trust in our abilities & gifts
129 We must use spiritual weapons --- not carnal weapons --- in our spiritual warfare
130 "Woe is me, for I am undone" shows one feels himself in same condition as a sinner humbled by the preaching of the law
130 To be called to the ministry is, as it were, to be converted & regenerated
131 God first humbles & casts down the prophet in the sight of God's majesty and his own misery, before he honours him with a commission to preach his word
131 This work is as necessary as learning to qualify a man for this work
132 The corruption of our nature is a sea of iniquity, & is more evident when God is nearer
132 Godly ministers should have tender consciences --- smallest sins a matter of conscience
133 Endeavour to be free from the least expression of evil and least negligence
133 "A small fault in other men is a great one in ministers"
133 Minister must deprive himself even of things which are lawful that his liberty be not an occasion of evil to others
133 Let nothing be a blemish to his calling or a burden to his conscience
133 "No man's predicament will be more miserable than a careless minister's"
134 Ministers with tender consciences may be comforted by the example of Isaiah
134 The more conscientious about little sins, the more like the holy prophets of old
135 Every man to be assessed in terms of his calling [therefore] Ministers for use of their lips
135-136Isaiah's response in conflict with Romanist idea of merit & works
137 A minister's conscience & comfort depends primarily on his preaching & clean lips
137 Minister must confess the people's sins before God publicly & privately
138 Magistrates & Ministers often accessories to the people's sins in various ways
138 Ministers duty to know the people's sins [therefore] "to know his flocks" (Prov. 27.23.)
138 [therefore] Must live among the people. Serious sin to be absent from among them
139 Free confession to Pastors --- unburdening conscience --- A needful practice
139 Regeneration qualifies & moderates corrupt nature but does not remove its capacity to be drawn into sin
140 Experience shows that a minister moved from one people to another is variously influenced to sin by different types of people
Corruption of nature so great it cannot help being infected by pollution of those around us.
141 Sin spreads from people to public persons secretly but from public persons to people openly
141 Sin must therefore be opposed by all and "nipped in the bud"
Minister should desire and endeavour to dwell w/ people who are as little polluted as possible
142 Seek a church with spiritually-minded people rather than a good stipend
Minister must be careful about the company with which he has private fellowship
144 A Minister who escapes being polluted with same sin as people may yet be dulled & decay in Grace
145 No Rebuke / Punishment too great for a Minister who lives unholy among holy people
145-146Minister's & People's sins make God's presence a fearful thing for him

[ Notes page 3-V ]

146 Spiritual Shock when we realize we are in God's presence with sins he hates
We also fear presence of one to whom we are in debt or whom we have betrayed
147-148Five ways the presence of God is terrible to the wicked
149 It is extreme presumption for men to rashly enter the ministry
A great fault to preach or administer sacraments without holy & private preparation
149 Great reason to pray both before and after sermon
Very serious sin for men to remain in their sins but exercise the ministry
150 An unprofitable ministry where men fall away or follow profaneness of minister
151 If ministers not both godly and doctrinally sound they will pull down while they build up
Man who presumptuously enters God's presence condemned here & tormented hereafter
152 Godly ministers may be comforted about coming into God's presence
153 Rome's lies about apparitions is not consistent with rare experiences of Holy Prophets
153 Perverse ideas about Mary expressed by proud & shameless men
154 Manipulativeness operates through dishonest tricks
155 It is a mercy to God's people that he speaks to them through men and not directly (Deut. 5.25-28) --> Remember this if minister is imperfect
We ought to prepare ourselves to enter God's presence when we come to Word/Sacraments
156 The least sin will make men hide from God, but holiness makes a man bold
157 Forgiveness of sins is the foundation of a minister's comfort
158 Be patient under God's afflictions, as God always uses Humiliation as a preparation for Grace, possibly a great work for him
When we feel ourselves under God's wrath, it is then we are best prepared for comfort
159 If we would have graces of God, we must "develop a conscious sense of the lack of them in ourselves"
160 Angels are especially appointed to help and comfort God's ministers
161 Ministry: "No Calling carries more crosses, but none brings more comfort."
161 Many enemies to ministry but more with us "than those who are with them."
162-163God has "given his angels charge over all his elect" (Psalm 91.11) and they are especially interested in their fellow labourers
163-164Best service ministers can do angels is to be good & faithful, seeking the conversion of sinners, which makes angels rejoice
165 Willingness and alacrity should characterize our service, whether we are ministers or anything else; like the angels fly in their business
166 Angels are willing & ready to help ministers b/c they love them
Ministers & Magistrates should carefully & willingly serve those under them from love
166 Ministers must forget their own dignity and be "servants to all, that they may win some" --- 1 Cor. 9.19.
167 God uses means, even in his miracles, which teaches us to use means diligently
167 Do not depend on "immediate helps from heaven, as many credulous and unrealistic men do"
168 The might power of God's ordinance appears in weakness
168 We should not despise the sacraments although the elements seem weak
168-169Worthy gift to be able to speak mildly and moderately; but more necessary for minister to have a fiery tongue to reprove & repress sin: pray for it
169 Minister must have his fiery tongue from the Holy Spirit: Fire from God's altar
169 Must reprove Stains in the Church & Corruption in the State
170 Bad fire described: censorious, lying, slanderous, malicious, contentious
170 ***  "God will never allow any great work to be done in his church [by such] even if his tongue is fiery and his speech powerful."
170 Ambitious spirits, turbulent, etc. --> no place in the pulpit

[ Notes page 4-R ]

170-171Coal applied to Isaiah's lips --> Apply the medicine of doctrine "to the time, people, and place which are actually infected."
171 Things with which preachers become wrongly taken-up in their preaching
171-172God magnifies the means which he himself ordains
172 As fear comes through sin so all true comfort comes from forgiveness
173 Proper way to comfort: Show particular sin, Justice of God, Humility, Pardon
173 Depression is treated with medicine and physical comfort
But the worst mental distress is a consequence of sin and needs God's forgiveness
174 No Minister well qualified for ministry unless he has repented & obtained pardon
174 Minister to whose conscience God has pronounced the pardon of his own sins will most powerfully pronounce the pardon of sins to others
174 God will send angels to help his ministers rather than leave them uncomforted
175 Renewal of the Prophet's Commission
175 Question --- "whom shall I send?" is for our sake, not God's sake
175 The question expresses the difficulty of finding an able & godly minister
176 Which is the real state of things even when there are too many ministers
176 Lord seeking men with right priorities: Honour God & Gather his Church
177 Civil rulers must reform society b/c as long as there are few places for conscientious ministers there will be many ministers w/o conscience
177 Defective Footnote from Editor or Publisher
177 Ministers of Universities should "look to ourselves" --- prepare to be ready for "who will go?"
178 Do not be content with name & title of minister but adorn Gospel and bear burdens
179 Roman Church is shameless b/c unashamed that it has so few for God to send
179 No man to undertake this function "unless God calls and sends him"
179 Privately "moved by the spirit" may really be Devil or vanity & pride
179 All good ministers are to *wait* for God's Calling --> WAIT
180 Not wise to insist on passage as proving Trinity just b/c we see the doctrine here --> Adversaries will conclude all our arguments are weak
180 Use of the plural number in Isa. 6.8 and Gen. 1.26 prove plurality of persons in the deity though they do not show us the number of the plurality
181 Ministers are God's servants to act as his ambassadors --> their profession & position
181 Min. are not their own masters and may not seek their own pleasure, credit, or profit
181-182Min. should expect their rewards from God but not without fulfilling their service
Though not rewarded as we deserve, we should continue faithful b/c God's Ambassadors
182 Though we receive gifts from those to whom we are sent, yet our maintenance comes from the King who sent us
Personal Reflection: It may be a bar or stumbling block to a minister's freeness to depend on those to whom he is sent for his maintenance
182 Faithful Ministers will expect payment from their King & Master
182 God will take mighty revenge on those who condemn or injure his ambassadors
Ahab, Jezebel, & Herod all found this truth
182 Must not be the servants of men if we are God's servants
183 All plans, purposes, efforts from ourselves or others must accord with will of him who sends minister as his servant.
183 Servants must be concerned about their Master's glory & ashamed to dishonour him
183 Must not offer our own speculations or ideas but the message we received

[ Notes page 4-V ]

183 We may speak freely but always with discretion --> Master will make it good.
184 There is a great change in Isaiah when he says: "Here am I! Send Me"
His fear is gone because he knows his sins are forgiven
184 Peace of Mind & Conscience must be sought in the favour of God and forgiveness
184 Would-be minister who is fearful of risks should come before God, find out his sins, confess, seek pardon, and not rest until he have the voice of God's Spirit "Your sins are forgiven" --- then be ready
185 Those hindered by discouragements need assurance God has pardoned and is on their side
185 Prophet doesn't recommend someone else with a testimonial, but says "here am I"
186 Do not linger in speculative studies if already sufficiently qualified
186 Many wait too long, just as others go out too soon.
186 Another warning against following private impulses: Must be clearly sent. God & Church say 'Go'
186 Sit still even if qualified --- Rest content until sent
187 Commission: Calling given with authority in plain & clear terms: "Go and Speak"
187 Extraordinary Ministers of OT & NT always had their warrant --- clear "Go and Speak"
187 Pride & Presumption for any man to go without this
187 Why ministers must have warrant: Must have authority to be deputy
188 (2) Commission needed to give credit to words and receive blessing on them
188 (3) Need God's promise of protection and safety
188 (*) Otherwise Subject to all dangers, labours w/o profit, help from no master
188 God now ordinarily gives us direction by Scripture, Conscience, & Voice of the Church
How to Know whether God wants me to go
189 If genuinely willing, and fully and worthily qualified, then God bids you go
189 ***Conscience must judge your willingness and the Church judge your ability
189 ***  Unless you love & desire this calling above all others you desire with wrong motive
189 If you desire the call but the Church does not recognize your sufficiency, God is not sending you.
189 If your conscience testifies your desire and the church approves your desire and ability and issues a public call then God himself bids you to go
Comparable to Repentance: Conscience tells you that you have repented, Church accepts evidence and minister pronounces pardon, then pardoned as if God said so.
190 Presumption based on private impulses and carnal motives again rebuked
190 Others wrong God & the Church by opposing the Church's approval & testimony
190 The Authority with which minister comes is immediate authority & commission of God
190 World should fear to do any wrong to this calling or those who have this commission
190 Description of what God will do for his ministers
191 Ministers wages: eternal weight of comfort here and of glory in heaven
God will give them special welcome in heaven:
"Well done, good and faithful servant, Enter into the joy of your Lord." --- Matt. 25.21.

[ 2015.02.10. Notes Published 2015.05.30. ]