From John Angell James, “Christian Love” (1828)
Oh! what churches we would have, if Christian love had its full scope! The PASTOR would labor with the most earnest, indefatigable, and unselfish zeal for the eternal welfare of the flock; and make it evident that compassion for souls, and not filthy lucre, was the impulse of all his conduct. Affection would beam in his eyes, and breathe in his spirit, while “the law of kindness” would dwell on his lips. He would preside over the people in the meekness of wisdom; and, instead of proudly lording it over God’s heritage, he would rule them in love. He would be gentle among them, “as a mother feeding and caring for her own children.” Instead of being provoked by any little unintentional infringement on his rights, or disrespect to his dignity, he would bear with that which is the result of ignorance, and wisely and meekly reason with those who wronged him. Over all his talents, however brilliant, he would put the ‘garment of humility‘. And, with respect to all his success, however great, he would speak in the language of modesty. He would neither envy his more gifted or successful brethren, nor proudly vaunt over his inferiors. To all under his pastoral care, even the most illiterate and poor, he would conduct himself with the humility and love of true benevolence, put the most favorable construction on the actions of his people, repose in them an honorable confidence, labor to correct their errors, whether doctrinal or practical, and have no greater joy than to see them walking in the truth!
Christian love would also dictate to the PEOPLE towards their minister, a line of conduct no less pious than amiable. It would lead them to attach themselves decidedly and warmly to his person and ministry; to demonstrate in every possible way their sincere and cordial wish to promote his comfort; to abstain from everything that would grieve his mind, and by every means in their power to promote his usefulness. It would not allow them to be offended by his faithful rebukes—but cause them to submit, with Christian frankness and humility, to his cautious admonitions and reproofs. Christian love would lead them to interpret, in a favorable manner, any little neglects, or unintentional offenses—and would make willing and reasonable excuses for his seeming inattention. Christian love would cover, and not expose—his minor shortcomings, faults and foibles. Christian love would lead them to manifest a fitting respect for his office and opinion—and, while it would leave them in full possession of entire freedom of thought, and manly dignity of conduct, would still prescribe that humility and respect, which the Scriptures claim for those who are set over them in the Lord.