God, a Stranger in the Land?
- It is to be feared there is much unfaithful preaching to the unconverted. Jeremiah complained of this in his day, "They have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, peace, peace, when there is no peace." Is there no reason for the same complaint in our own day? The great part of our congregations are out of Christ, and lying night and day under the wrath of the Lord God Almighty; and yet it is to be feared that the most of the minister's anxiety and painstaking is nottaken up about them, that his Sermons are not chiefly occupied with their case. All the words of men and angels cannot describe the dreadfulness of being Christless; and yet, it is to be feared, we do not speak to those who are so with anything like sufficient plainness, frequency, and urgency. Alas! How few ministers are like the angels at Sodom, mercifully bold to lay hands on lingering sinners. How few obey that word of Jude, "save with fear, pulling them out of the fire."
2. Many of those who deal faithfully, yet do not deal tenderly. We have more of the bitterness of man than of the tenderness of God. We do not yearn over men in the bowels of Jesus Christ. Paul wrote of "the enemies of the cross of Christ," with tears in his eyes! There is little of this weeping among ministers now. "Knowing the terrors of the Lord," Paul persuaded men. There is little of this persuading spirit among ministers now. How can we wonder that the dry bones are very, very dry—that God is a stranger in the land?
3. It is to be feared there is much unfaithfulness in setting forth Christ as a refuge for sinners. When a sinner is newly converted, he would fain persuade every one to come to Christ. The way is so plain, so easy, so precious. He thinks, oh, if I were but a minister, how would I persuade men! This is a true feeling and a right feeling. But oh, how little is there of this among ministers! David said, "I believed, therefore have I spoken." Few are like David in this. Many do not make it the end of their ministry to testify of Jesus as the hiding-place for sinners. It is to be feared that many are like the Scribes and Pharisees; they hold the door in their hand; they enter not in themselves, and them that are entering in they hinder. Some set forth Christ plainly and faithfully, but where is Paul's beseeching men to be reconciled? We do not invite sinners tenderly; we do not gently woo them to Christ; we do not authoritatively bid them to the marriage; we do not compel them to come in; we do not travail in birth till Christ be formed in them the hope of glory. Oh, who can wonder that God is such a stranger in the land?