‘Lord, I will follow thee: but -.’ How remarkably does Scripture prove to us that the mental characteristics of mankind are the same now as in the Saviour’s day! We occasionally hear stories of old skeletons being dug up which are greater in stature than men of these times. Some credit the story, some do not, for there are many who maintain that the physical conformation of man is at this day just what it always was. Certainly, however, there can be no dispute whatever among observant men as to the identity of the inner nature of man. The gospel of Christ may well be an unchanging gospel, for it is a remedy which has to deal with an unaltering disease. The very same objections which were made to Christ in the days of his flesh are made to his gospel now. The same effects are produced under the ministry of Christ’s servants in these modern times as were produced by his own ministry. Still are the promised hopes which made glad the preacher’s heart, blasted and withered by the same blights and the same mildews which of old withered and blasted the prospects of the ministry during our Lord’s own personal sojourn in the world. O what hundreds, what myriads of persons have we whose consciences are aroused, whose judgments are a little enlightened, and yet they vacillate—they live and die unchanged. Like Reuben, ‘unstable as water’ they do ‘not excel.’ They would follow Christ, but something lies in the way: they would join with him in this generation, but some difficulty suggests itself: they would enter the kingdom of heaven, but there is a lion in the street. They lie in the bed of the sluggard, instead of rising up with vigour and striving to enter in at the strait gate.
For meditation: ‘But’ is a wonderful word when it expresses God’s gracious attitude towards sinful man (Romans 5:8; Ephesians 2:4), but a terrible word when it expresses sinful man’s disgraceful attitude towards him (Jeremiah 6:16–17).