In these days, a simple, childlike faith is very rare; but the usual thing is to believe nothing, and question everything. Doubts are as plentiful as blackberries, and all hands and lips are stained with them. To me it seems very strange that men should hunt up difficulties as to their own salvation.
If I were doomed to die, and I had a hint of mercy, I am sure I should not set my wits to work to find out reasons why I should not be pardoned. I could leave my enemies to do that: I should be on the look-out in a very different direction. If I were drowning, I should sooner catch at a straw than push a life-belt away from me. To reason against one’s own life is a sort of constructive suicide of which only a drunken man would be guilty.
To argue against your only hope is like a foolish man sitting on a bough, and chopping it away so as to let himself down. Who but an idiot would do that? Yet many appear to be special pleaders for their own ruin. They hunt the Bible through for threatening texts; and when they have done with that, they turn to reason, and philosophy, and skepticism, in order to shut the door in their own faces. Surely this is poor employment for a sensible man.
Many nowadays who cannot quite get away from religious thought, are able to stave off the inconvenient pressure of conscience by quibbling over the great truths of revelation. Great mysteries are in the Book of God of necessity; for how can the infinite God so speak that all his thoughts can be grasped by finite man? But it is the height of folly to get discussing these deep things, and to leave plain, soul-saying truths in abeyance. It reminds one of the two philosophers who debated about food, and went away empty from the table, while the common countryman in the corner asked no question, but used his knife and fork with. great diligence, and went on his way rejoicing. Thousands are now happy in the Lord through receiving the gospel like little children; while others, who can always see difficulties, or invent them, are as far off as ever from any comfortable hope of salvation. I know many very decent people who seem to have resolved never to come to Christ till they can understand how the doctrine of election is consistent with the free invitations of the gospel. I might just as well determine never to eat a morsel of bread till it has been explained to me how it is that God keeps me alive, and yet I must eat to live. The fact is, that we most of us know quite enough already, and the real want with us is not light in the head, but truth in the heart; not help over difficulties, but grace to make us hate sin and seek reconciliation.
Here let me add a warning against tampering with the Word of God. No habit can be more ruinous to the soul. It is cool, contemptuous impertinence to sit down and correct your Maker, and it tends to make the heart harder than the nether millstone. We remember one who used a penknife on his Bible, and it was not long before he had given up all his former beliefs. The spirit of reverence is healthy, but the impertinence of criticizing the inspired Word is destructive of all proper feeling towards God.
If ever a man does feel his need of a Savior after treating Scripture with a proud, critical spirit, he is very apt to find his conscience standing in the way, and hindering him from comfort by reminding him of ill-treatment of the sacred Word. It comes hard to him to draw consolation out of passages of the Bible which he has treated cavalierly, or even set aside altogether, as unworthy of consideration. In his distress the sacred texts seem to laugh at his calamity. When the time of need comes, the wells which he stopped with stones yield no water for his thirst. Beware, when you despise a Scripture, lest you cast away the only friend that can help you in the hour of agony.
A certain German duke was accustomed to call upon his servant to read a chapter of the Bible to him every morning. When anything did not square with his judgment he would sternly cry, “Hans, strike that out.” At length Hans was a long time before he began to read. He fumbled over the Book, till his master called out, “Hans, why do you not read?” Then Hans answered, “Sir, there is hardly anything left. It is all struck out!” One day his master’s objections had run one way, and another day they had taken another turn, and another set of passages had been blotted, till nothing was left to instruct or comfort him. Let us not, by carping criticism, destroy our own mercies. We may yet need those promises which appear needless; and those portions of Holy Writ which have been most assailed by skeptics may yet prove essential to our very life: wherefore let us guard the priceless treasure of the Bible, and determine never to resign a single line of it.
What, have we to do with recondite questions while our souls are in peril?
The way to escape from sin is plain enough. The wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err therein. God has not mocked us with a salvation which we cannot understand. Believe and live is a command which a babe may comprehend and obey. Doubt no more, but now believe Question not, ‘but just receive.
Artful doubts and reasonings be Nailed with Jesus to the tree.
Instead of caviling at Scripture, the man who is led of the Spirit of God will close in with the Lord Jesus at once. Seeing that thousands of decent, common-sense people — people, too, of the best character — are trusting their all with Jesus, he will do the same, and have done with further delays.
Then has he begun a life worth living, and he may have done with further fear. He may at once advance to that higher and better way of living, which grows out of love to Jesus, the Savior. Why should not the reader do so at once? Oh that he would!
A Newark, New Jersey, butcher received a letter from his old home in Germany, notifying that he had, by the death of a relative, fallen heir to a considerable amount of money. He was cutting up a pig at the time. After reading the letter, he hastily tore off, his dirty apron, and did not stop to see the pork cut up into sausages, but left the shop to make preparations for going home to Germany. Do you blame him, or would you, have had him stop in Newark with his block and his cleaver?
See here the operation of faith. The butcher believed what was told him, and acted on it at once. Sensible fellow, too!
God has sent his messages to man, telling him the good news of salvation.
When a man believes the good news to be true, he accepts the blessing announced to him, and hastens to lay hold upon it. If he truly believes, he will at once take Christ, with all he has to bestow, turn from his present evil ways, and set out for the Heavenly City, where the full blessing is to be enjoyed. He cannot be holy too soon, or too early quit the ways of sin. If a man could really see what; sin is, he would flee from it as from a deadly serpent, and rejoice to be freed from it by Christ Jesus.