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Every Christian needs to read this book. Every skeptic needs to read this book. Every atheist needs to read this book. Every person of another religion needs to read this book. Apart from the Bible itself there are few books that I have read that arrive to the heart of the matter of what it means to be a Christian in a more accurate, heart-felt and practical way.
Often I have looked back at the date it was finished writing. Can it really have been written in ? It could not have been written Every Christian needs to read this book. It could not have been written yesterday and be more current. Read it and do yourself a favor. Very appropriate, very convicting There are thousands who answer this description. Sometimes, if they feel disposed, they go to some church, and attend a religious service; at other times they stay at home and read the paper, or idle about, or look over their accounts, or seek some amusement.
Is this striving? I speak to men with common sense. Let them judge what I say. What shall I say of those who come regularly to a place of worship, but come entirely out of habit? There are many in every part of our country in this condition. Their fathers taught them to come; their custom has always been to come: it would not be respectable to stay away. But they care nothing for the worship of God when they do come.
Whether they hear law or gospel, truth or error, it is all the same to them. They remember nothing afterwards. They take off their form of religion with their Sunday clothes, and return to the world. What shall I say of those who seldom or never read the Bible? There are thousands of people, I fear, who answer this description.
They know the Book by name; they know it is commonly regarded as the only book that teaches us how to live and how to die; but they can never find time for reading it. Newspapers, reviews, novels, romances, they can read, but not the Bible. What shall I say of those who never pray? There are multitudes, I firmly believe, in this condition.
Without God they rise in the morning, and without God they lie down at night. They ask for nothing; they confess nothing; they return thanks for nothing; they seek nothing. They are all dying creatures, and yet they are not even on speaking terms with their Maker and their Judge!
It is a solemn thing to be a minister of the Gospel. It is a painful thing to look on, and see the ways of mankind in spiritual matters.
We hold in our hands that great law book of God, which declares that without repentance, and conversion, and faith in Christ, and holiness, no man living can be saved. In discharge of our office we urge man to repent, believe and be saved; but, to our grief, how frequently we have to lament that our labor seems all in vain.
We show the sinfulness of sin; we unfold the loveliness of Christ; we expose the vanity of the world; we set forth the happiness of Christ service; we offer the living water to the wearied and heavy-laden sons of toil; but, to our dismay, how often we seem to speak to the winds.
Then on Monday morning the devil comes, and offers his countless snares. Then comes the world, and holds out it illusive prizes: our hearers follow them greedily. I am not writing from hearsay. I speak what I have seen. I write down the result of 37 years experience in the ministry. I have learned lessons about human nature during that period that I never knew before.
Seriousness about fleeting matters is common enough. Striving to be rich and prosperous in this world is not rare at all. Pains about money, and business, and politics; pains about trade, and science, and fine arts, and amusements; pains about rent, and wages, and labor, and land; pains about such matters I see in abundance both in the city and the country. But I see few who take pains about their souls.
I am not surprised at all this. I read in the Bible that it is only what I am to expect. The parable of the great supper is an exact picture of things that I have seen with my own eyes ever since I became a minister Luke One has his piece of land to see; another has his oxen to prove; a third has his family hindrances. But all this does not prevent my feeling deeply grieved for the souls of men.
I do not know in what state of soul many of my readers may be. Do not suppose that it needs some great scarlet sin to bring you to the pit of destruction. You have only to sit still and do nothing, and you will find your self eventually in hell. There is a another road to hell that is guaranteed to get you there - the road of spiritual sluggishness, spiritual laziness, and spiritual sloth. Satan has no objection to you being known as a respectable member of the Christian Church.
He will let you give your offerings; he will allow you to sit comfortably in church every Sunday that you live. Be careful that you do not come to this end. Never give way to the idea that you are too concerned about your spiritual condition, and that there is no need for so much carefulness.
It is a maxim among good farmers that the more they do for the land the more the land does for them. I am sure it should be a maxim among Christians that the more they do for their Christianity, the more their Christianity will do for them. Beware of shortening your prayers, your Bible reading, your private communion with God.
Be careful that you do not give way to a thoughtless, lazy manner of using the weekly services of the church. Fight against any rising disposition to be sleepy, critical and fault-finding, while you listen to the preaching of the gospel.
What ever you do for God, do it with all your heart, mind and strength. In other things be moderate, and dread running into extremes.
In matters of the soul fear moderation just as you would fear the plague.
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