Flesh-pleasing pulpit opiates!
(J. A. James, "Dislike to Ministerial Faithfulness Stated and Explained")
They are a rebellious people, deceptive children, children who do
not obey the Lord's instruction. They say to the seers, "Do not
see," and to the prophets, "Do not prophesy the truth to us. Tell
us flattering things! Prophesy illusions! Get out of the way!
Leave the pathway. Rid us of the Holy One of Israel." Is. 30:9-11
It is a striking fact, that He who was love incarnate; who was
mercy's messenger to our lost world; who was named Jesus,
because He was to be the Savior of His people; who was the
manifestation of God's love to mandelivered, during the
course of His personal ministry, more fearful descriptions of
Divine justice and the punishment of the wicked, than are to be
found in any other part of the Word of God! What can exceed
the solemn scene of the parable of the rich man in torments?
Hell and destruction are there set openly before us.
No man can fulfill his ministry, therefore, without frequently
alluding to the justice of God in the punishment of sin.
He must seek to alarm the fears of the unconverted by a
representation of the consequences that will follow a state
of final impenitence.
Such a subject frequently calls up all the enmity of the carnal
mind. To be told, not only that they are sinnerswhich all will
admit in general termsbut that their sins are such as to deserve
the wrath of God, such as to expose them to the torments of hell,
and such as will infallibly bring them to the bottomless pitunless
they truly repent; to be told again and again that they are hastening
to perdition; to have the rod of Divine vengeance shaken over their
heads; to have all the dreadful curses of the violated law analyzed,
ascertained and announced; to have this done in their hearing, and
done frequently; to be made to sit and hear their future eternal
doom, and thus to be tormented before their timeis what they
cannot, and will not endure! Unable to bear any longer his pointed
addresses to the conscience, they will leave his ministryfor the
flesh-pleasing pulpit opiates of some flatterer of men's souls,
who is too cowardly to trouble the minds, or alarm the consciences
of those who love smooth, flattering and delusive preaching.
To be publicly denounced as deserving Divine wrath; to be told
that they are sinners to such a degree as to merit the eternal
punishment of a holy God; to be reminded that, instead of their
fancied good heart, pure nature, and blameless lifethey are,
in the sight of God, depraved in every faculty and polluted in
every part; to be represented as unfit for communion with God
here, and for His presence hereafterall this is so opposed to all
their notions, so mortifying to their vain pride, so degrading to
their dignity, that they cannot but dislike it. To such a debasement
they would not willingly descend; and hence their demand for the
teaching of deceit, and the smooth speech of falsehood. What
they want is to be flattered into a good opinion of themselves.
They hate the doctrine which disturbs their self-delight, and
revile the man who attempts to tell them the solemn reality
of how vile they are!