“From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of God suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” Matthew 11:12
Suggested Further Reading: Genesis 32:22-32
Frequently complaints are made and surprise expressed by individuals who have never found a blessing rest upon anything they have attempted to do in the service of God. “I have been a Sunday-school teacher for years,” says one, “and I have never seen any of my girls or boys converted.” No, and the reason most likely is, you have never been violent about it; you have never been compelled by the divine Spirit to make up your mind that converted they should be, and no stone shall be left unturned until they were. You have never been brought by the Spirit to such a passion, that you have said, “I cannot live unless God bless me; I cannot exist unless I see some of these children saved.” Then, falling on your knees in agony of prayer, and putting forth afterwards your trust with the same intensity towards heaven, you would never have been disappointed, “for the violent take it by force.” And you too, my brother in the gospel, you have marvelled and wondered why you have not seen souls regenerated. Did you ever expect it? Why, you preach like one who does not believe what he is saying. Those who believe in Christ, may say of you with kind partiality, “Our minister is a dear good man;” but the careless young men that attend your ministry say, “Does that man expect to make me believe that which he only utters as a dry story, and to convince me when I see him go through the service with all the dullness and monotony of dead routine?” Oh, my brethren, what we want today in the churches is violence; not violence against each other, but violence against death, and hell, against the hardness of other men’s hearts, and against the sleepiness of our own.
Sermon no. 252
15 May (1859)