“Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” James 5:19: 20
Suggested Further Reading: 2 Corinthians 2:5-11
The poor backslider is often the most forgotten. A member of the church has disgraced his profession; the church excommunicated him, and he was accounted “a heathen man and a publican.” I know of men of good standing in the gospel ministry, who, ten years ago, fell into sin; and that is thrown in our teeth to this very day. When you speak of them you are at once informed, “Why, ten years ago they did so-and-so.” Brethren, Christian men ought to be ashamed of themselves for taking notice of such things so long afterwards. True, we may use more caution in our dealings; but to reproach a fallen brother for what he did so long ago, is contrary to the spirit of John, who went after Peter, three days after he had denied his Master with oaths and curses. Nowadays it is the fashion, if a man falls, to have nothing to do with him. Men say, “he is a bad fellow; we will not go after him.” Beloved, suppose he is the worst; is not that the reason why you should go most after him? Suppose he never was a child of God—suppose he never knew the truth, is not that the greater reason why you should go after him? I do not understand your excessive pride, that won’t let you go after the chief of sinners. The worse the case, the more is the reason why we should go. But suppose the man is a child of God, and you have cast him off—remember, he is your brother; he is one with Christ as much as you are; he is justified, he has the same righteousness that you have; and if, when he has sinned, you despise him, in that you despise him you despise his Master. Take heed! You also may be tempted, and may one day fall.
For meditation: Discipline should not be lax or non-existent (1 Corinthians 5:1-2). But it is possible to go to the other extreme and overdo it.
Sermon no. 45
7 October (1855)