Abraham Booth on Pastoral Ministry

Abraham Booth (1734-1806) was a longtime London pastor and leader among the British Particular Baptists in the 18th century. In 1784, Booth preached an ordination sermon for a young pastor named Thomas Hopkins. The title was "Pastoral Cautions" and the text was 1 Timothy 4:16–"Take heed to thyself." The sermon was soon printed and circulated among Baptists all over England. Among the pastors who were positively influenced by the printed sermon were Andrew Fuller, William Carey, John Sutcliff, and John Ryland, Jr.

In the sermon, Booth layed out ten pastoral cautions that are just as applicable to our contemporary context as they were 200 years ago.

  1. "Take heed to yourself, then, with regard to the reality of true godliness, and the state of religion in your own soul"
  2. "Take heed to yourself, lest you mistake an increase of gifts for a growth in grace"
  3. "Take heed that your pastoral office prove not a snare to your soul, lifting you up with pride and self-importance"
  4. "Take heed to yourself, respecting your temper and conduct in general"
  5. "I will now adopt the words of our Lord, and say, Take heed and beware of covetousness"
  6. "Take heed, I will venture to ass, take heed to your Second-Self in the person of your wife"
  7. "Take heed to yourself, with regard to the diligent improvement of your talents and opportunities, in the whole course of your ministry"
  8. "Take heed to yourself, respecting the motives by which you are influenced in all your endeavours to obtain useful knowledge"
  9. "Take heed of yourself, with regard to that success, and those discouragements, which may attend your ministry"
  10. "Once more: Take heed that you pay an habitual regard to divine influence; as that without which you cannot either enjoy a holy liberty in your work, or have any reason to expect success"

Brothers, they simply do not preach ordination sermons like that anymore! I would heartily recommend that every pastor, seminarian, and missionary read the full text of this sermon. It is most recently printed in Michael & Alison Haykin, eds., The Works of Abraham Booth, Volume 1: Confession of Faith & Sermons (Particular Baptist Press, 2006), pp. 57-84.

As a final note, I would be remiss if I did not mention that the only book-length scholarly study of Abraham Booth was a dissertation written by R. A. Coppenger, the grandfather of our own budding pastor-theologian and soon to be "off-the-market" blogmeister, Jedidiah Coppenger.  

Discussion Area - Leave a Comment