Payne’s comments come from his reflections on 1 Timothy 4:13-15, “Give attendance to reading….Neglect not the gift that is in thee….Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them, that thy profiting may appear to all.”
All these expressions show the solicitude of the Eternal Spirit and the deepness of the impression Paul desired to make upon the mind of Timothy, causing him to feel and know that he was not to be a mere drone in the hive, a snail in the garden, or a lounger about the house of God, but that he had a mind, and that mind was made for thinking, investigating, discriminating—for study.
Therefore, neglect would lead to disastrous consequences. The Christian minister has no more liberty to cease from the cultivation of his mind than the ocean has to cease its motion. Think of the disastrous consequences of the latter, and you will see the consequences of the former. If the ocean ceased to move, its waters would become as stagnant as those of a rain barrel. Every fish in it would perish, the whole atmosphere would be pregnant with pestilence, and the green earth itself would be struck with universal palsy and become a field of graves!
So also with the ministers of Jesus. If they cease to cultivate their minds by the study of holy truth they will retrograde back to the darkness, superstition, and errors of heathenism, religion would become a mere cloak of hypocrisy, with blasphemy the language of its teachers, and the church itself, like the temple at Jerusalem, would once more hear the awful words, “Let us depart, let us depart!”
Daniel A. Payne (1811-1893) from the sermon “The Christian Ministry: Its Moral and Intellectual Character” in The Faithful Preacher, ed. Thabiti Anyabwile, p. 98