Men may see something of God in me!
(J.A. James, "Forgiveness of Injuries")
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"For I have given you an example that you also should do just as I have done for you." John 13:15
It has long been my conviction, that there is a great deficiency in evangelical churches—of the practical enforcement of Christian duties in detail; especially of what may be emphatically called the Christian virtues—the passive graces of the Christian character, the exercise of brotherly kindness and love.
It is not so acceptable to have all the special and difficult duties of the Christian's life, or man's conduct to his fellows, set clearly before the understanding and enforced upon the conscience. Men do not like to be . . .
followed through all the labyrinths of the heart's deceitfulness,
beaten out of every refuge of lies, and
made to feel the obligation to love, where they are inclined to hate;
and to forgive where they desire to revenge.
And we ministers pander too much to this taste. The pulpit has not done its duty. We have preached to the intellect, to the imagination, and to the taste—but not enough to the heart and to the conscience. In our endeavor to please, we have not been sufficiently intent upon the greater object—to profit. We have not preached justification too much—but sanctification too little. We have urged faith—but not love. We have descanted upon the evil of licentiousness, and falsehood, and dishonesty, and covetousness—but have said far, far too little about malice and bitterness. We have urged men to zeal and liberality—but not enough to humility, forbearance, and forgiveness. We have rightly led men to view the cross of Christ—but we have not sufficiently urged them to take up their own cross. We have properly entreated them to view Jesus as their Righteousness—but not sufficiently as their Example.
O, Christians . . .
study that wondrous character,
contemplate that illustrious pattern,
dwell upon that beautiful model,
until the frosty incrustations of your cold, hard heart have all melted, like icicles before the sun!
How wonderful and how ennobling is the conception, and what an ambition should it raise in the mind of the Christian, to consider and say, "Men may see something of God in me!" Yes, we can teach them what God is, as to His moral character, and let them see in 'our merciful disposition' a ray of the infinite sun of His own glory. These sweet relentings of our nature, these soft and genial currents of our soul, these effusions of love—these, we can remind them, are but the overflowings of His goodness, His own love into our hearts, and the reflection of His infinite mercy to us.
"The one who says he abides in Him, should walk just as He walked." 1 John 2:6
"Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in His steps." 1 Peter 2:21