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The Duties of a Gospel Minister (Rice)

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Log College Press

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In this booklet John Rice opens up the heart of a pastor’s work, both in relation to other ministers and in relation to the Church in general. He concludes with a few words concerning the motivation of a pastor. Whether new or experienced, every pastor can benefit from this forgotten American Presbyterian forefather.


John Holt Rice (1777-1831) was born in Virginia to Presbyterian parents. He studied under William Graham at Liberty Hall Academy, and then under Archibald Alexander at Hampden-Sydney College. He was ordained a Presbyterian minister in 1804, and planted the First Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Virginia, in 1812. Active in theological education endeavors throughout his ministry, in 1824 he became the President of the Theological Seminary at Hampden-Sydney (soon known as Union Theological Seminary).


“Too many works on pastoral ministry are long on worldly pragmatics and short on Biblical practicality. Yet The Duties of a Gospel Minister, though a brief work, is filled with the latter as Rice directs pastors toward a truer Presbyterian approach to the ministry. His section on pastoral ministry to youth – a key factor in awakening in church history – is especially needed in this directionless age.”  

Dr. Barry J. York, President and Professor of Pastoral Theology, Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary

“In this startlingly relevant little work, Rice refreshes the minister’s soul as he sets the spiritual beauty of this peculiar calling before his readers anew. Every new minister as well as every tired, world-worn, or discouraged pastor who would be more than a ‘baptized deist’ would do well to take the few minutes required to read this address. Do it, and see how God might use it in your life: to settle your heart; to remind you of the grand proportions, profound significance, and urgent need of your work; and to renew your desire to serve Christ vigorously, ‘with all diligence and fidelity,’ as a minister of ‘unadulterated Christianity’ in His Church and to a desperate and dying world.”  

Dr. Bruce P. Baugus, Associate Professor of Philosophy & Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary Jackson

“A wise man listens to counsel – especially counsel drawn from the Word. While John Holt Rice’s exposition of aspects of ‘The Duties of a Gospel Minister’ was written to a past generation, his application of Scripture is as relevant as ever, challenging us to re-engage the high calling of gospel ministry in Christ for the joy set before us.”  

Dr. William VanDoodewaard, Professor of Church History and Historical Theology, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary