This latest note from Mason is especially weighted towards ministers of the Gospel of Christ. The following note from Mason should make it clear that not every minister is a Minister of Christ.
Mason wisely quotes from Mark 4:24. You may be sure that if a minister speaks more of himself than of Christ, does not point poor lost sinners (that’s all of us) to Christ as the only hope, whose preaching does not consist in glorifying Christ, does not often name The Lord Jesus Christ, and does not preach the Cross of Christ then that minister is not a minister of Christ – avoid such a one no matter how sweet his words. Anyway, on to the text of Pilgrims Progress.
Interpreter: Then said Interpreter, Come in; I will show thee that which will be profitable to thee. So he commanded his man to light the candle, and bid Christian follow him; so he had him into a private room, and bid his man open a door; the which when he had done, Christian saw the picture a very grave person hang up against the wall; and this was the fashion of it: It had eyes lifted up to heaven, the best of books in his hand, the law of truth was written upon its lips, the world was behind its back; it stood as if it pleaded with men, and a crown of gold did hang over its head.
Christian: Then said Christian, What means this?
Interpreter: The man whose picture this is, is one of a thousand: he can beget children, (1 Cor 4:15) travail in birth with children, (Gal 4:19) and nurse them himself when they are born. And whereas thou seest him with his eyes lift up to heaven, the best of books in his hand, and the law of truth writ on his lips: it is to show thee, that his work is to know, and unfold dark things to sinners; even as also thou seest him stand as if he pleaded with men. And whereas thou seest the world as cast behind him, and that a crown hangs over his head; that is to show thee, that slighting and despising the things that are present, for the love that he hath to his Master’s service, he is sure in the world that comes next, to have glory for his reward. Now, said the Interpreter, I have showed thee this picture first, because the man whose picture this is, is the only man whom the Lord of the place whither thou art going hath authorized to be thy guide in all difficult places thou mayest meet with in the way: wherefore take good heed to what I have showed thee, and bear well in thy mind what thou hast seen, lest in thy journey thou meet with some that pretend to lead thee right, but their way goes down to death (e).
Mason’s Note (e) page 36 of my edition.
This is the true picture of a gospel minister; one whom the Lord the Spirit has called and qualified for preaching the everlasting gospel. He is one who despises the world, is dead to it’s pleasures and joys; his chief aim is to exalt and glorify the Lord Jesus, his atoning blood, justifying righteousness, and finished salvation; and his greatest glory is to bring sinners to Christ, to point him out as the one way to heaven, and to edify and build up saints in him.
But here are many who profess to do this, but turn poor sinners out of the way, and point them to a righteousness of their own for justification in whole or in part. Of these the Spirit teaches us to beware: the former he leads and directs souls to love, and esteem highly, for their labours and faith in the Lord, and zeal for his honour and glory, and for the salvation of souls. “Take heed what you hear.” – Mark 4:24.
(My end note) Be very sure of this then; it is Satan’s work to keep poor souls away from Christ. And if he has to do that through the poison of false ministers or through the poison of religious observance he will.