But surely that was not fair, it was not right to judge a whole nation by one bad specimen. Nor is it right to judge the followers of Christ in that way. I know a man, says one, who is hard and grasping and self-seeking, and that man makes a religious profession, therefore I will have nothing to do with religion. I know a Christian who is bad-tempered; I know a Christian who is not particular about truth; I know a Christian out of whose mouth come bitter, unkind words; I know a Christian who is unpleasant in his manner; I know a Christian with whom I should be sorry to do business; I know a Christian who is always mournful and miserable. These are your Christians, are they? Then do not ask me to be one; I have no opinion of any of them.
Yet, after all, the man who speaks thus draws an unfair conclusion. Because I find in my bag of gold one bad half-sovereign, or even two or three bad ones, am I therefore to throw all the rest away? And because one Christian, or several Christians, disgrace their Master, and act inconsistently, am I therefore to condemn Christianity itself? Am I therefore to cut off my own soul from all hope of safety?
But, remembering this, bearing in mind that many eyes are on us, that our conduct is being read, our ways watched, our actions weighed, our motives sifted, Christian friends, let us walk carefully. Do not let us bring disgrace on our Master, do not let us hinder others and be a stumbling-block in their way; do not let us give the world a wrong idea of Christ.
We are not half awake, we are not half careful enough; let us walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise. Let us, whenever we have been tempted to any inconsistency, be able to take up Nehemiah’s brave noble words,
‘So did not I, because of the fear of God.’
I could not get into a temper, I could not be hard or grasping, I could not do that piece of sharp practice, I could not stoop to that deceit, I could not disgrace my Master, because in my heart was a principle holding me back from sin, the fear of the Lord. I feared to grieve the One who loved me, and that fear kept me safe. ’So did not I, because of the fear of God.’
[Transcribers note 1: stumbling-black corrected to stumbling-block.]
True to his Post.
Lot’s wife was changed into a pillar of salt; and if that pillar still remained, we should see her to-day standing in exactly the same attitude in which she was standing when death suddenly came upon her.
About a hundred years ago, a baker in the south of Italy sunk a well in his garden; and whilst doing so he suddenly came upon a buried city, a city which had been lost to the world for 1800 years. The underground city was no empty place; it was peopled with the dead, and these were found in the very attitude and position in which death had overtaken them, standing, sitting, lying, just as they had been on that awful day when Mount Vesuvius sent out terrible showers of ashes, destroying them all.