A Rod of Correction For Those Who Want It
“Rebuke them sharply.”
Some preached Christ out of strife and contention in Paul’s time. Many preach Christ now, it is to be feared, from no better motive; but Satan is their master, and he will pay them their wages. “Cursed be he who doeth the work of the LORD deceitfully.” (Jeremiah 38:10) By their fruits we are to know them; watch them closely, and you will see antichrist written in legible characters in all their deportments. It is not enough that it can be said of a man, “he preaches Christ.” No; he must show out of a good conversation his works with meekness and fear. Angelic perfection is not contended for; but a life of honesty, simplicity, and godly sincerity, showing an example to the flock. Such men are censured above may be useful to a man to furnish him with information; so is the handpost useful to the traveller on the road, to direct him on the right way; but it cannot bear him company one step. As the directing-post receives the writing from another’s hand, so do such preachers; it is not their own that they preach; it is not from the Holy Spirit’s preaching; “they follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing.” Concerning such preachers the LORD speaks thus: “They shall not be in the assembly of my people, neithershall they be written in the writing of house of Israel, neither shall they enter in to the land of Israel; and ye shall know that I am LORD GOD.” (Ezekiel 13:9)
Some may be called elastic preachers; they will shrink or expand, like a ribbed stocking, as times and circumstances may seem to require. Sych may be compared to the vane on the steeple, that moves about with every change of wind; they are turned about with every wind of error, and the last turn is with them the best; a new will-o’-the-wisp has dazzled their eyes, and they mistook it for the light of divine truth. Such preachers are as unstable as water, and they shall not excel, they may have their thousands to follow them. Alas! How many have I known of the last description within these last thirty years!
There are also subtle, crafty preachers; they study the temper and peculiar opinion of their more influential hearers, and preach, to suit their corrupt taste to the greatest nicety. They flatter the pride and vanity of their hearers in expense of truth and an honest conscience. O, beware of flattering preachers, as you would a notorious villian! Such were not Paul and his fellow-labourers. “Neither at any time used we flattering words, nor a cloak of covetousness; God is witness.” (1st Thessalonians 2:5) “A flattering mouth worketh ruin.” (Proverbs 26:28)
There are also gossiping preachers, whose minds are always from home, and bodies too, as much as possible. This class of preachers reminds me of illegitimate sons of Abraham who perambulate the metropolis, buying and selling, receiving into their bags, and turning out to traffic with their brethren as often as they can; no matter where nor how, so that they can do business viz., gain. Such preachers shpuld study Paul for once, practically. “Meditate upon these things, give thyself wholly to them, that thy profiting may appear to all.” (1st Timothy 4:15)
But, blessed be God, bad as things are in Zion, there are still to be found a few who have nit defiled their garments, whose eyes look straight forward, who ponder the path of their feet, and look well to their goings. May their number greatly increase, that sinners may be converted to God, and the saints be built up in their most holy faith.