2 Corinthians 3:1-5
Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, letters of commendation to you…
The Bible is God's book for the world, only it shuts it. But the world will read you. Masters, your servants read you; servants, your masters read you; so will parents children, etc. Do they read in you what they ought to read? A Christian should be a Bible alive. Never mind though a man has not learned his letters; he will be able to read you fast enough. All men can read justice, mercy, and truth, or the opposite of them.
1. One day a thought flashed into my mind that I did not want to lose, and, having no paper at hand except a letter from a friend, I just wrote between the lines of it; and when I had done that the fancy struck me to read through the writing as it stood, one line of my friends and one of my own, and you cannot think what nonsense it was! Ah! there are some characters like that. I dare not say there was nothing about them that Christ had written, but they have sadly allowed the devil and the world to underline them; there is no coherency or consistency in them.
2. I remember, when I was a little boy at school, if I by any chance managed to make the smallest blot, as sure as I took the book up to my master, the first thing he looked at was the blot; and, as sure as I took it home, the first thing anybody looked at was the blot. My letters may have been made very gracefully, but nobody said a word about them; but everybody said something about the blot. Ah! I have known some people very good on the whole, but they have had sad blots — blots of temper, vanity, and worldliness. The sun himself is looked at more during the few minutes he has a black spot on his face than on all the days of the year besides. The world has an eagle glance for your spots, and if you have a spot on your character people will look more at it than at all the beautiful things that are there.
3. I got a letter one day which had been sent to a committee. For the life of them they could not read it, and they sent it to me to try to make it out. It was a difficult task, and when I had made out the words I could scarcely make out the sense. It was a letter, but a very unintelligible one. I have known some characters like that, and if I preached to such I should have to take the text, "I stand in doubt of you." These are not like the epistles spoken of in the text, "known and read of all men," Endeavour to keep clear of such a character that nobody can tell what list to put you in: avoid being so quaint and difficult that nobody can tell what to make of you. May it be said of you, as it was said as I passed the door of a godly man who had lately died, "If ever there was a Christian, that man was one."
4. I remember, just before I left my last circuit, that I looked over a great number of old letters, some of which, at the time I received them, were so precious that I put them away to preserve them, and several of these had become so creased and dirty and illegible that I was obliged to throw them into the fire, though once they were so precious to me. I should not like that any of you who had been real letters of Christ's own writing should become so careless and worldly that the writing became marred. I should not like that you should get into such a cold, backsliding state that all the beautiful letters that once were put upon you should become illegible, and that at the last Christ should say, "Cast them into the fire."
5. I was once in an assize court where a man was being tried for forgery. The individual whose writing, it was suspected, had been imitated, was dead, and so a large letter-book, full of what was known to be the writing of the deceased, was produced in court, to test the alleged forgery by it. If you are letters of Christ you will resemble His writing. The very name Christian implies that you profess to have Christ's name written upon you. But it is no use to profess to be Christ's epistle if you are not like Him. Suppose I picked up a letter which professed on the face of it to be a letter from Jesus Christ, but recommended this congregation to be worldly-minded, to love gold, to be fretful and peevish, and to be guilty of evil-speaking and slander. Of course I should know that it was no letter from Jesus Christ. I wonder whether all present who profess to be Christ's epistles ever do that which Christ would not put His name to? Are you genuine letters? A friend of mine went to the bank to pay in some money. Amongst it there was a ten-pound note. The clerk looked at it carefully, and then stamped "Forged" right across it. What a sad thing it would be if any of you who profess to be epistles of Christ now should at the last be disowned of Him, and He should say, "You are none of Mine — forged"!
Parallel VersesKJV: Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?