Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A word of warning to foolish virgins


We have seen - who has not that has had any experience in the religious world? - we have seen our leaders turn their backs in the day of battle; and our teachers fail to sustain their own character. Ah! And we have the painful conviction that there are others who are not discovered yet, whose sins do not go beforehand unto judgment, but follow after; who are nevertheless tainted at the core. There are the many covetous professors who are as grasping and as grinding as if they never professed to be Christians; and you know that “covetousness is idolatry.” There are the many time-serving Christians, who hold with the world and with Christ too; and ye know that we cannot serve two masters. There are the many secret sinners among Christians, who have their petty vices which come not under human observation, and who, because they are thought to be good, write themselves down among the godly; now we know there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, and woe to them when their secret sins shall be published on the house-tops.

Then we have the legal professors, who trust to their own works, and shall find that the curse of Sinai shall wither them. And what shall I more say? Have we not many who are not so inconsistent that we could put our finger upon any open sin sufficient to deserve excommunication, but who are guilty of enormous spiritual wickedness? They are dead, they bring forth no fruit; their hearts are hard as a millstone with regard to the conversion of sinners; they have not faith of God’s elect; they do not live by faith; they have not the spirit of Christ, and therefore they are none of his. God knoweth we have sought to use all care and diligence in this Church, both to keep out unworthy persons and to cast out unhallowed livers; but, despite all that, we cannot but be conscious, and we tell it you faithfully, that the enemy still continues to sow tares among the wheat. The gold is mixed with the dross and the wine with water: for evil men thrust themselves into the heritage of the Lord. When our muster-roll shall be revised at last, how many out of our more than two thousand members will be found to be base-born pretenders unto godliness! O my brethren, I conjure you, by the precious blood of Christ, which was not shed to make you hypocrites, but shed that a sincere people might show forth His praise; I beseech you, search and look lest at the last it be said of you, “Mene, Mene Tekel, thou art weighed in the balances and found wanting.”

From a sermon entitled "Self-Delusion," delivered October 19, 1862. Flickr photo by Eric Hill; some rights reserved.

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