This is something I had not thought about very deeply, and worth considering as we have enjoyed the Lord’s day yesterday – the relationship between public and private ministry of the word. The question is: as ministers of the gospel, how do we best conduct ourselves after public ministry so that what we have given to the people by God’s grace gets rooted rather than snapped up by birds (Matt. 13:4).
Again, Bonar, after considering M’Cheyne’s ministry, reflecting generally on ministry that is used of God:
Whatever he said in the pulpit, men will not much regard, though they may feel it at the time, if the minister does not say the same in private, with equal earnestness, in speaking with the people face to face; and it must be in our moments of most familiar intercourse with them, that we are thus to put the seal to all we say in public. Familiar moments are the times when the things that are most closely twined round the heart are brought out to view; and shall we forbear, by tacit consent, to introduce the Lord that bought into such happy hours? We must not only speak faithfully to our people in our sermons, but live faithfully for them too. Perhaps it may be found, that the reason why many who preach the gospel fully and in all earnestness are not owned of God in the conversion of souls, is to be found in their defective exhibition of grace in these easy moments of life. “Them that honour me, I will honour.” 1 Samuel ii.30. It was noticed long ago that men will give you leave to preach against their sins as much as you will, if so be you will but be easy with them when you have done, and talk as they do, and live as they live. How much otherwise it was with Mr M’Cheyne, all who knew him are witnesses.
– Memoir, Bonar, p.82