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Preventing Ministry Failure (Durham & Guthrie)

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Reformation Heritage Books
November 2022

Preventing Ministry Failure is an updated version James Guthrie’s A Humble Acknowledgement of the Sins of the Ministry (1651), together with extracts from James Durham’s Commentary on Revelation that emphasize the necessity of pastoral holiness and the encouragement Christ provides to serve Him well. The result is a guide for pastors to openly discuss their common failings that also holds out hope for putting things right. Beyond updating the language, the editors add Bible verses to assist in meditation as well as questions to stimulate reflection and discussion. Here is help, encouragement, and counsel for ministers to shine in the midst of the prevailing darkness.


Table of Contents:

1.      The Necessity of Holy Ministers
2.     The Duty of Confessing Ministerial Sin
3.     Sins before Ordination
4.     Sins of Personal Life
5.     Sins in Public Conduct
6.     Sins in Relation to Preaching
7.     Sins in Relation to Baptism and the Lord’s Supper
8.     Sins in Relation to Visitation and Catechizing
9.     Sins in Relation to Church Government
10.  Sins in Relation to National and Political Affairs
11.  What Should a Minister Do If He is in a State of Deadness?
12.  How Churches Can Put Wrongs Right
13.  Incentives for Ministers to Pursue Holiness
14.  Reassurance that Christ’s Work Will Succeed
15.  Encouragement for Ministers to Shine



James Guthrie (1612–1661) was pastor of the church in Lauder, Berwickshire and later minister of Stirling.

James Durham (1622–1658) served as minister at Black Friars Church in Glasgow, as a chaplain to King Charles II, and as a minister at the Inner Kirk of the cathedral in Glasgow.



“These are solemn confessions—the confessions of men who knew the nature of that ministry on which they had entered, and who were desirous of approving themselves to Him who had called them, that they might give in their account with joy and not with grief.... Let us, as they did, deal honestly with ourselves. Our confessions ought to be no less ample and searching.” — Horatius Bonar

“As a young seminary student with many heavy tomes to work through, my initial relief at the brevity of this title on my reading list was soon replaced by admiration at how so much profound self-examination could be packed into so few pages.” — From the Foreword by David G. Whitla