Suggested Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:17–2:5
It is a fact that the system of doctrines called Calvinism is so exceedingly simple and so readily learned, that as a system of divinity it is more easily taught and more easily grasped by unlettered minds than any other. The poor have the gospel preached to them in a style which assists their memories and commends itself to their judgments. It is a system which was practically acknowledged on high philosophic grounds by such men as Bacon and Newton, and yet it can charm the soul of a child. And then it has another virtue. I take it that the last is no mean one, but it has another—that when it is preached, there is a something in it which excites thought. A man may hear sermons upon the other theory which shall glance over him as the swallow’s wing gently sweeps the brook, but these old doctrines either make a man so angry that he goes home and cannot sleep for very hatred, or else they bring him down into lowliness of thought, feeling the immensity of the things which he has heard. Either way it excites and stirs him up not temporarily, but in a most lasting manner. These doctrines haunt him, he kicks against the goads, and full often the word forces a way into his soul. And I think this is no small thing for any doctrine to do, in an age given to slumber, and with human hearts so indifferent to the truth of God. I know that many men have gained much good by being made angry under a sermon than by being pleased by it, for being angry they have turned the truth over and over again, and at last the truth has burned its way right into their hearts.
For meditation: Gospel truths have always provoked joyful acceptance or bitter opposition (Acts 8:1–8;39; 9:1–2; 13:45,48); but the most zealous opponents of the Gospel can be saved (Acts 9:21–22). The most fearful cases are those who can hear the Word of God comfortably and remain unmoved one way or the other (Ezekiel 33:30–33); among them are people who sit through sermons about hell and the judgement of God and then tell the preacher how much they ‘enjoyed the nice message.’ What effect do these daily readings have upon you?
Part of nos. 385–8
11 April (1861)