At this point, we would say to any young man who is seriously contemplating entering the ministry, “Abandon such a prospect at once if you are not prepared to be treated with contempt and made ‘as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things’” (1Co 4:13). The public service of Christ is the last place for those who wish to be popular with their fellows. A young minister once complained to an older one, “my church is making a regular doormat of me,” to which he received the reply, “If the Son of God condescended to become the Door surely it is not beneath you to be made a doormat.” If you are not prepared for elders and deacons to wipe their feet on you, shun the ministry. And to those already in it we would say, Unless your preaching stirs up strife and brings down persecution and contumacy upon you, there is something seriously lacking in it. If your preaching is the enemy of hypocrisy, of carnality, of worldliness, of empty profession, of all that is contrary to vital godliness, then you must be regarded as the enemy of those you oppose.
It is often His way to make use of wicked men to thrash those who have enjoyed but spurned particular favours at His hands. It is indeed remarkable how the Most High accomplishes His purpose through men whose only thought is to gratify their own evil lusts. True, their sin is neither diminished nor condoned because they are executing the decrees of heaven. Nevertheless, though they are held fully accountable for the evil, they do only that which God’s hand and counsel determined before to be done, serving as His agents to inflict judgment upon His apostate people.
None but Christ can satisfy the heart, yet we are terribly slow in really believing it. We grasp at shadows, pursue phantoms, seek to feed on ashes, and then wonder why we are so miserable. God will not long allow His people to rest in things, or find contentment in their circumstances. He it is who both gives and takes away, who gratifies or thwarts our wishes. We brought nothing into the world, and it is certain we shall carry nothing out of it; therefore, there is nothing in the world which deserves a single anxious thought from us, for we shall soon be at the end of our journey through it. None but Christ will be sufficient for us when we are called upon to pass through the valley of the shadow of death, and none but Christ can do us any real good now: what we need is to really believe that truth. And does not God take abundant pains to prove the truth of it to us? He removes this and withholds that, because He sees that our hearts are too much set upon them. We imagine that a certain thing would be very pleasant and profitable, and fancy that we cannot do without it; if we could but obtain it, we promise ourselves much satisfaction from it. If God grants it to us, do we not find that it is not what we expected? We dream dreams, build air castles, live in many a fancied paradise, only to be bitterly disappointed. God’s purpose in those disappointments is to wean us from the world, to make us sick of it, to teach us that all down here is but “Vanity and vexation of spirit.”
Tribulations are needful for the testing of profession, that the difference between the wheat and the chaff may appear. Heresies are necessary that lovers of Truth may be made manifest (1 Cor. 11:19). Trials are indispensable, that patience may have her perfect work.
It is impossible to be happy in broils and enmities. If it be true that “Blessed are the peacemakers,” it necessarily follows that cursed are the peacebreakers. In order to the development of a peaceful disposition we must first cultivate the grace of “lowliness,” which is the opposite of pride, for “only by pride cometh contention” (Prov. 13:10). Second, there must be the cultivation of “meekness,” which is the opposite of self-assertiveness, the determination to press my will at all costs: remember “a soft answer turneth away wrath.” Third, the grace of “long sufferance,” which is the opposite of impatience. Finally, “forbearing one another in love,” for the queen of the graces “endureth all things.”
“Prayer without practice is blasphemy, and to speak to God with our lips while our hearts are far from Him is but a mocking of Him and an increasing of our condemnation.”
” We are either saints or sinners, spiritually alive or spiritually dead, children of God or children of the Devil. In view of this solemn fact, how momentous is the question, Have I been born again? If not, and you die in your present state, you will wish you had never been born at all.”
“All the unhappiness there is in the world is the outcome of sin, and, therefore, the further we keep from sin, the more shall we discover the secret of true happiness.”
“Since God is the sum of all excellency, they are most excellent who approximate the closest to His likeness.”