August Franck begins his Treatise on the Fear of Man with a strong exhortation to ministers. Here are three excerpts:
My soul hath been grieved many a time, in the sense of the apparent corruption, not only of all men in general, but also of our order in particular. More especially hath my heart been touched to the quick, when from innumerable instances I have been convinced, that the fear of man is become the epidemical disease of our teachers. For when I reflected on one hand, with what spirit, with what joy, with what undaunted courage and boldness, the servants of God, in the Old and New Testament, set aside all regard and fear of man, delivering, as the Lord’s ambassadors, their message plainly, and without mincing the matter, though it exposed them to the apparent hazard of their lives; and, on the other, how gently and how softly we go about it now-a-days; and how little we manifest the truth to the conscience of every one: when I moreover considered how much they suffered with Christ their Lord, for the sake of their testimony; and how the most of us take care to preach so smoothly, as not to incur the least shadow of their sufferings; all this made the difference between us and them appear so exceedingly great to me, that I could not but be amazed and astonished at it. Pardon me, beloved brethren, if you think me to speak with too much plainness and simplicity; for I am not at all ashamed to become a “fool for Christ’s sake,” that I may be wise indeed
sure it is, that the greater concern we have for our own profit, ease, and honour, the less we shall have for promoting the real good of our neighbour. And as long as our minds are not wholly conformable to the mind of our great Shepherd, whose servants we are, it is impossible he should be well pleased with us. For he searcheth our very hearts, and regards all our doings and intentions, whether we feed the flock, or ourselves; whether we seek every one his own, or that which is His: and if he be not well pleased with us, whence can we expect a blessing upon so sacred a function as ours, since we cannot have it but from his grace? This I take to be the true cause why we are so strongly possessed with the fear of man; for did we desire nothing in the world, we should not fear it.
It appears also, that we are very little concerned about what the Scriptures, both of the Old and New Testament, represent to us, namely, that our order hath been always most in fault, whenever a general corruption hath overspread the people. Do we consider what a thundering lecture is read to pastors and teachers in Jer. 23; Ezek. 34 and Matt. 23? If we did, should we not apply ourselves to our duty with another kind of fervour than hitherto we have? Should we not be more solicitous about the state of our own souls in the first place; and in the next, about the souls that belong to our charge? Should we not break loose from the transitory amusements of this world? Should not we enter into greater familiarity with Christ our Lord and Master, by prayer? Should not we, in many things, give a more edifying and shining example to our flocks? Should not we more effectually clear ourselves from all suspicion of covetousness, and other vices reigning among the clergy? Should not our preaching be composed with more plainness and simplicity, and delivered with greater power and demonstration of the Spirit? Should we not be more careful to examine those that we admit to the communion, whether they be worthy receivers, and whether they grow better by receiving it? Should we not be more fervent and earnest to admonish every one in particular? Should not we strive and wrestle more, in prayers, for the welfare and salvation of their immortal souls? Should we not, as soon as any desire and love to God’s word appears in our hearers, more readily lend them our helping hand, that the sparks of grace kindled in their hearts might not be extinguished, but increased and blown up into a flame? Should not we, by frequent catechizing, endeavour to put a stop to the overflowing of ignorance and vice? Should not our outward conversation with men be more holy, and consequently more successful and edifying? Verily, my brethren, I fear we have good reason to be ashamed, when we read what Taulerus* saith, in his exposition of the Gospel for the fourth Sunday in Advent: “A spiritual person ought to be so enkindled and all-flaming with divine love, and both inwardly and outwardly so conformable to God, that whenever any one came to him, he might hear nothing from him but God; and his heart and mind ought to be fixed on him by burning love, and so ready in all things faithfully to obey his will, that such as visited him, though with cold and lukewarm hearts, might be heated and set on fire by him; as we see that cold and dead coals are kindled, when they are put to glowing ones, which soon impart their light and heat to them.”