There is such a thing, my dear friends, as your getting into a terribly bad condition through the ministry that you attend. Can it be expected that men should grow in grace when they are never watered with the streams that make glad the city of our God? Can they be supposed to grow strong in the Lord Jesus, when they do not feed on spiritual food? We know some who grumble, Sabbath after Sabbath, and say they can’t hear such and such a minister. Why don’t you buy an ear-trumpet then? Ah! But I mean, that I can’t hear him to my soul’s profit. Then do not go to hear him, if you have tried for a long while and don’t get any profit. I always think that a man who grumbles as he goes out of chapel ought not to be pitied, but whipped, for he can stay away if he likes, and go where he will be pleased. There are plenty of places where the sheep may feed in their own manner; and everyone is bound to go where he gets the pasture most suited to his soul. But you are not bound to run away directly your minister dies, as many of you did before you came here. You should not run away from the ship directly the storm comes, and the captain is gone, and you find her not exactly sea-worthy; stand by her, begin caulking her, God will send you a captain, there will be fine weather by and by, and all will be right. But very frequently a bad minister starves God’s people into walking skeletons, so that you can tell all their bones; and who wonders that they starve out their minister, when they get no nourishment from his ministrations.
For meditation: God provides leaders to build up his people so that they can go on to build up one another (Ephesians 4:11-12). The absence of the leader will show whether the flock can stand on their own feet in the Lord (Philippians 1:27; Colossians 2:5).