Wednesday, November 26, 2008

As sheep in the midst of wolves

It would be a very pleasant thing if we could please men and please God too; if we could really make the best of both worlds, and have the sweets of this and of the next also: but a warning cry arises from the pages of holy Scripture, for the Word of God talks very differently from this. It talks about a strait and narrow way, and about few that find it; it speaks of persecution, suffering, reproach, and contending even unto blood, striving against sin; it talks about wrestling and fighting, struggling and witnessing. I hear the Savior say not, “I send you forth as sheep into the midst of green pastures,” but, “as sheep in the midst of wolves.” I hear him prophesy that we should be hated of all men for his name’s sake. Truly these things are enough to startle those good, easy souls who go so delicately onward; surely they may at once enquire, Can it be that this smooth-faced godliness, this very delightful way of getting to heaven, can be the right one? Is it not all a delusion?

Are we not buoyed up with a false hope, if that hope is never assailed by trouble and persecution? All is not gold that glitters: may not the glittering religion of the many be, after all, only a pretense and a sham? O ye lovers of carnal ease, woe unto you! Inasmuch as ye take not up the cross, ye shall never win the crown. The disciples of Christ must expect to follow their Master, not merely in obedience to his doctrines, but also in the reproach which gathers about his cross. I do not find Christ carried on flowery beds of ease to his throne; I do not find him applauded with universal acclamations; on the contrary, wherever he goes he is a protestor against things established by human wisdom, and in return the things established vow his destruction, and are not satisfied until at last they gloat their cruel eyes with his martyrdom upon the cross. Jesus Christ has no life of pleasure and of ease; he is despised and rejected of men - a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and let us rest assured that if we bear faithfully our testimony, we shall discover that the servant is not above his Master, minor the disciple above his Lord: if they have called the Master of the house “Beelzebub,” much more shall they call them of his household by titles as ignominious and shameful. We must expect, if the Christian soldier be really a soldier, and not a mere pretender to the art of war, that he will have to fight until he joins the host triumphant.

From a sermon entitled "Let Us Go Forth," delivered June 26, 1861. Flickr photo by b k; some rights reserved.

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