Such a pulpit never startles the people with the horrors of an undone eternity. No strong meat, but only pap, flour and water, mostly water. The church prayer-meeting is attended only by a few gray heads who have been in the habit of going there for twenty years, not because they expect any arousing time or rapturous experiences, but because they feel only a few will be there, and they ought to go.
The minister is sound. The membership sound. The music sound. If, standing in a city of a hundred thousand people, there are five or ten conversions in a year, everything is thought to be “encouraging.” But Christ says that such a church is an emetic. “Because thou art neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.”
My friends, you had better warm up or freeze over. Better set the kettle outside in the atmosphere at zero, or put it on the altar of God and stir up the coals into a blaze. If we do not, God will remove us.
Christian men are not always taken to heaven as a reward, but sometimes to get them out of the way on earth. They go to join the tenth-rate saints in glory; for if such persons think they will stand with Paul, and Harlan Page, and Charlotte Elizabeth, they are much mistaken.
When God takes them up, the church here is better off. We mourn slightly to have them go, because we have got used to having them around, and at the funeral the minister says all the good things about the man that can well be thought of, because we want to make the funeral as respectable as possible. I never feel so much tempted to lie as when an inconsistent and useless Christian has died, and I want in my final remarks to make a good case out for the poor fellow. Still, it is an advantage to have such a man get out of the way. He is opposed to all new enterprises. He puts back everything he tries to help. His digestion of religious things is impaired, and his circulation is so poor that no amount of friction can arouse him.
Now, it is dangerous for any of you to stay in that condition. If you cannot be moved, God will kill you, and He will put in your place those who will do the work you are neglecting.
My friends, let all arouse! The nearness of our last account, the greatness of the work to be done, and the calls of God’s word and providence, ought to stir our souls. After having been in the harvest field so long it would be a shame in the nightfall of death to go home empty-handed. Gather up a few gleanings from the field, and beat them out, that it may be found that Ruth had at least “one ephah of barley.”
The Christian world has long been guessing what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was. I have a book that in ten pages tries to show what Paul’s thorn was not, and in another ten pages tries to show what it was.
Many of the theological doctors have felt Paul’s pulse to see what was the matter with him. I suppose that the reason he did not tell us what it was may have been because he did not want us to know. He knew that if he stated what it was there would have been a great many people from Corinth bothering him with prescriptions as to how he might cure it.