Sunday, March 18, 2007
Take heed to yourselves lest you live in those actual sins which you preach against in others, and lest you be guilty of that which you daily condemn. Will you make it your work to magnify God and then when you have finished dishonor Him as much as others do? Will you proclaim Christ's governing power and yet show contempt for it and rebel against it yourselves? Will you preach His laws and then willfully break them?
If sin is evil, why do you live in it?
If it is not, why do you disuade men from it?
If it is dangerous, how dare you venture on it?
If it is not, why do you tell men it is?
If God's threatenings are true, why do you not fear them?
If they are false, why do you trouble men needlessly and put them into such frights without a cause?
Do you know the judgement of God that they who commit such things are worthy of death and, yet, will you do them? You that teach another, do you not teach yourself? (Romans 1:32)
You have a heaven to win or lose yourselves and souls that must be happy or miserable forever therefore it concerns you to take heed to yourselves as well as others. Preaching may succeed to the salvation of others without the holiness of your own hearts or lives. It is possible, at least, though not usual, but it is impossible that it should serve to save yourselves. Many shall say in that day, "Lord, Lord have we not prophecied in your name?" They shall be answered with, "I never knew you. Depart from me you workers of iniquity."
Oh, sirs! How many have preached Christ and yet have perished for a lack of a saving interest in Him? How many that are now in hell have told their people of the torments of hell, warning them to avoid it; how many have preached the wrath of God against sinners and are now feeling it? Oh what melancholy case can there be than a man that make it his trade and calling to proclaim salvation and to help others to obtain it, yet for himself to be lost forever!
Alas for us, that we should have so many books in our libraries that tell us the way to heaven, that we should spend so many years reading those books and studying the doctrine of eternal life and after all this to miss it, that we should study and preach so many sermons on salvation and yet fall short of it, so many sermons on condemnation and fall into it, and all because we preached so many sermons conerning Christ while we were neglecting Him, on the Spirit while we resisted Him, on faith while we did not heartily believe, on repentance and conversion while we continued to be carnal and earthly.
If we are defined only in tounge and title and not the defined image upon our souls, nor give up ourselves to the divine honor and will, it is no wonder if we are separated from the divine presense and denied the fruition of God forever. Believe it, sirs, God is no respector of persons. He saves men not for their coats or their callings (titles). A holy calling will not save an unholy man.
- Richard Baxter