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DO NOT BE OFFENDED.
The terms of the gospel are mortifying to the pride of the natural heart. What!” say you, perhaps, " is such a man as I am, not entitled to salvation ? an honourable man, a learned man; or, if neither great nor learned, an honest man, a sober man, a respectable man, a moral man-must I come upon the same terms as the thief, or the drunkard, or the profli. gate ?” And when you have been told that all your respectability, all your morality, all your self-righteousness, can avail nothing in the matter of justification ; that the blood of Jesus Christ, and that alone, cleanseth from all sin ; and that you must either wash in that fountain for sin, or remain a poor miserable leper for ever, you have been offended, and, like Naaman, have gone away in a rage.
But Naaman had prudent servants, and they reasoned with him kindly and wisely. When he was turning away in a rage, they said to him, “My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean ?" Happy for Naaman that he was blest with these kind advisers, and that he listened to their advice. He followed the directions of the prophet, and was healed of his leprosy, so that “his flesh came again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.”
In like manner go to Jesus, wash in the “ fountain which he has opened for sin and for uncleanness," and be at once healed of the leprosy of sin. Why, like Naaman, should you turn away in a rage? My brother, my sister, my father, if thou wert commanded to do some great thing, wouldest thou not do it to obtain eternal life ? how much rather when it is only, Wash, and be clean ; believe, and be saved ; depend not on thy doings that thou mayest merit salvation, but simply trust in Christ, who has done all; and rely upon his atonement and righteousness as the only and sufficient ground of hope and dependence for thee, a poor perishing and guilty sinner.
But remember, if you go away in a rage and stay away, yours will be the ruin and the loss. Suppose Naaman had had no faithful servants to expostulate with him, and had finally left the prophet in a rage, who would have been the loser? Without doubt, he would have lived and died a poor miserable leper. So, my fellow-sinner, will it be with thee. “If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself; but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it," Prov. ix. 12.
The writer was once as much offended with salvation by grace as thou canst be, till he saw that his best deeds were defiled by sin, and that if not saved by grace manifested through Christ the Saviour, he could not be saved at all. Will you be offended heaven and hell, and to fly to Christ for mercy, that your precious soul may be saved ?
Is it with a once dear relative you are now offended? that husband or wife, brother or sister, son or daughter, who has left you alone to tread the road you once travelled together, the road that leads to death? Oh, do not be offended. If you are resolved to destroy your own soul by rejecting the only way of salvation, do not require him or her to do the same.
Be content to go down to hell alone, without requiring one who was once dear to be your companion on that miserable journey. But you need not be separated; accompany that dear friend in the road which leads to heaven; trust in the same precious Saviour, and you shall meet in the same heaven at last.
Is it with the truth you are offended ? the truth that you are by nature a lost and guilty sinner ; that except you repent you must perish; that salvation, if obtained at all, must be, not through your own merits, but the merits and sufferings of another; and that the honour of that salvation will belong not to you, but to Christ, who gave himself a ransom for inany ? No doubt these truths are as offensive to the unrenewed heart as were Elisha's directions to the proud Naaman; and many who hear them, like him, go away in a rage. But oh, fellow-sinner, do not be offended! These are Bible truths, whether you believe them or whether you reject them; and remember that your unbelief or your anger does not alter their nature—they are truths still; and if you do not believe them before, you will find them to be truths when it is too late to avail yourself of that knowledge. O solemn, solemn words! and yet they are the words of Christ, -"He that believeth not shall be damned," Mark xvi. 16.
Is it with the Lord Jesus Christ you are offended ? From the evident unwillingness to hear his name mentioned which is displayed by some, no less than from the open enmity which is shown by others to Christ and his religion, it is, alas ! too manifest that there are many who are offended with Christ himself. But why offended with the precious Saviour, who left his throne to suffer and agonize on the cross to provide a way of salvation for thee, poor sinner? Oh, do not be offended with Him who shed his precious blood to open a fountain for sin and uncleanness. Rather come to him as a poor, weary, heavy-laden sinner, crying for mercy, for he has invited you in those blessed words, " Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” Matt. xi. 28.
An Agent of a Fire Insurance Company set out with a friend to visit several persons, in the hope of prevailing on them to insure. He called on many, and used his best efforts to impress on them the prudence and desirableness of insuring.
Some few were persuaded by him, and immediately gave him the necessary information for effecting a policy. By others various objections were made; among the rest, one said, “Oh, it is to your interest to get us to insure, you are paid for it.”
“Ah, well,” said another, “I must take my chance; after all, if a fire should occur, it might not be so very bad, there are plenty of engines now-a-days.
It was surprising to find, in some instances, that even the little attention and trouble that would be necessary were made a reason against insuring, though it was admitted that certainly it would be a good thing to be insured.
“I am fully aware of the importance of the thing," said one ; "you know, Sir, I have been thinking of it for some time past; I'll not trouble you to call again; my new arrangements will be completed in the course of a few weeks, and then, you may rely on it, I will see you immediately."
Really,” said another, “I am hardly willing to incur the expense ; you know my insurance would be a hazard, and would cost me a great deal ; and after all I might never be benefited
Another suggested that it was possible the Company might fail; “ and then,” said he, “I should be worse off than now; I should be uninsured, and lose my money as well."
Other excuses were made. The friend departed, wishing the Agent better encouragement in his work. Some months had elapsed, when on re-entering the town, the Agent's friend perceived the engines just returning from a fire, and, seeing the Agent, he inquired of him whether it had been anything very serious.
“Oh it was a tremendous fire!” he replied, " on the premises of poor A-, the oilman; the loss is very great, and his property is totally destroyed." The friend remarked, “ I suppose it falls heavy on your Company."
“Ah!" cried the Agent, " I was going to say I wish it did ; No, poor fellow, he has lost his all, for he was not insured.”
"Not insured! Why, when you called on him three months ago, he all but engaged to effect a policy within a few weeks."
“ Yes, poor man, he has been delaying for many months, and now it is too late."
Reader, are you insured? You may be ready severely to blame these persons who raised such trivial objections against insuring, and to say that you would on no account be guilty of such imprudence. So far, good. It is right that you should take due care of your temporal possessions. But have you ever considered that you have property of infinitely greater value ? You may have much or little of this world's goods, but without doubt you have a soul, and he who gave you your soul has pronounced it to be of greater value than the whole world.
Now, have you cared for your soul? You would not be so imprudent as to neglect the insurance of your earthly goods, and is it possible that your soul, which is worth more than anything and everything else, is forgotten? Yes, it is possible, and if it should be the case, what reason can you give that you
have not paid attention to your soul and its safety? Have you anything better to offer than objections of much the same nature as those put forth by the persons who would not be persuaded to insure ? If their infatuation was great, yours is greater in the same proportion as your soul is more valuable than their property; and remember too that your soul will live for ever, whereas in a few
or not, as they will have "no more a portion for ever in anything that is done under the sun," Eccles. ix. 6.
Have you ever said or felt, when the subject of religion has been presented to you by ministers, “I do not much heed what they say, they are hired to say it," and so rejected their mes. sage? But can you afford to risk the salvation of your soul because you suppose others may have a wrong motive? Should you not at least consider the matter, and see whether the message they bring, and which purports to be of vast importance to you, be true ?
When those who love your soul endeavour to set before you your sinfulness, and the horrors of the everlasting state of the impenitent, and entreat you to seek the salvation of your soul, do you reply, “Well, I am a great sinner, but I must také my chance; God is very merciful, and I am in hopes it will not be quite so bad as you think ?" Oh! do not rest in such a delusion. God is merciful, he delights in mercy; but he will show mercy only in his own way-only through Jesus. “Repent and believe the gospel," acknowledge that you deserve nothing better than death and hell, but plead the merits of Christ, take him as your Saviour, your atoning sacrifice; then, and not till then, may you trust and rejoice in the mercy of God.
But can you think it too much trouble to attend to the things which make for your eternal peace? What! did the Son of God come down from heaven, and take upon him the form of a man, yea, of a servant, to suffer and die for us, and shall we think it too much trouble to attend to his gracious offers of peace?
Perhaps, however, you say, “ I am fully aware of the importance of religion; I made up my mind
that I would attend to it; but I have a good deal of business on my hands just now: I shall be more at leisure soon, and then
Oh! wait not for that time! Very likely you will never feel yourself to be more at leisure ; on the contrary, you will probably get more and more entangled in the cares and business of life. When you are least expecting it, you may hear the voice saying, “ Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee," Luke xii. 20 : “For man also knoweth not his time : as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them,” Eccles. ix. 12. Therefore, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest," Eccles. ix. 10.
Are you unwilling to make the sacrifices that religion would require of you? Are you in the midst of pleasures which you must give up, of gay companions, who would forsake
you if you should