The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 84
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.—Matthew xi, 28.
Our time, being the last days, (Tim. iii, 1-6), is an exceedingly dangerous one, not only because the world in general is full of all kinds of wickedness, but more because there is so much false Christianity and because so many false teachers exist in the world. The name of Christ is often mentioned (Matt, vii, 21); Christ has many professors but few followers. Many a false foundation is laid with a great deal of expense and labour, whereon multitudes of souls will make eternal shipwreck. Many attempts are made to break asunder what God has joined together. Many take away the Law from the Gospel, whereby they make both powerless, because none can truly embrace the Gospel who does not feel his sins, and St. Paul tells us that none can feel his sins without the Law, for "by the Law is the knowledge of sin" (Rom. iii, 20). Many take away repentance from faith, and talk of faith as their own work, and not as being the gift of God (Eph. ii, 8). That kind of faith, which they imagine they can acquire at will, is also their own work, that is to say, their faith is only taken, not received. These New-gospel-preachers, who in great numbers are abroad with their productions, present us with small books and tracts, which they call the Gospel—the pure Gospel—but it is not "the Gospel of God" (Rom. i, 1), which St. Paul and the other Apostles preached. To find that seducement out is not a hard task. No, only observe the following fact: Such books and tracts, although the name of Christ may be in almost every line, are all very monotonous, that is to say, when you have read one page you have in fact read all. There is only the page 4 same idea from the beginning to the end; the words only are found different. The poor deluded people, when they hear the name of Christ so often mentioned, think it is a most pure and bright Gospel. But let every thinking and impartial person take that monotonous New-gospel and place it beside the true Gospel, beginning with the first book in the New Testament, the Gospel according to St. Matthew. It is granted that no book of mere human authorship can be equal to the inspired books, but all books, tracts, and sermons, which claim the name of Gospel, must be much like the model of the true Gospel. Now everyone, with his eyes open, can easily see that the true Gospel, as found in the New Testament, is in no way monotonous. On the contrary, there appears a great variety, a great multitude of ideas and doctrines in all the Gospels and Epistles, all of which are good and needful, and which the inspired Apostles found good to teach. No part can be taken away without damaging the other.
When the great Reformer, Martin Luther, on one occasion was away from Wittemberg, there appeared prophets there in such a mysterious and zealous spirit, that Luther's friends, even that learned and pious Melancthon, did not know what to think, and therefore wrote to Luther in order to obtain his opinion about those new prophets. Luther wrote back that "they should try the spirits of the prophets if they had experienced in their own souls fear, sorrow, pain, with terrible death agonies, or if they only spoke about sweetness without feeling sin and struggles, and if that last only was with them, they were not to be believed, because the Divine Majesty has no intimate intercourse with the Old Adam."
If the New-gospel-preachers of our days could be placed in such circumstances as St. Paul, when he was brought before the Governor Felix (Acts xxiv, 24-27) who, we are told, wished to hear him about "the faith in Christ," surely they would take such fair opportunity to "preach Christ," as they call it, and they would no doubt say something to this effect: "Most excellent Felix, Christ has died for you—you have nothing to do—Christ has done it all, only believe now in Christ. Think not, most excellent Felix, that thou shaft be any better before thou comest to Christ," etc. Such smooth talk would, without doubt, have pleased that proud Governor very much, and he would very likely have released St. Paul from prison. He would have thought to himself, "Paul has said 1 must not try to be any better, and still he says all is well with me, and that I have nothing to do," etc. But St Paul was not so clever or smooth as the New-gospel-preachers of our days. He did not speak a single word to Felix about "the faith in Christ," for which he was not prepared, but instead, we find St. Paul spoke to that careless proud sinner just the words fitted for him, namely, about "righteousness, temperance, page 5 and the judgment to come," The Governor was terrified and without doubt very angry, and sent Paul back to his prison. Such clear and strong examples from the Holy Scriptures show us plainly how to deal with unconverted persons, and that not all are fit for hearing about "the faith in Christ." By God's grace we shall see that more clearly when we consider our text, where Christ's call to awakened sinners is set forth.