Ezekiel 20:49
Then I said, "Ah, Lord GOD, they are saying of me, 'Is he not just telling parables?'"
Sermons
Infidel HearersD. Moore, M. A.Ezekiel 20:49
Mystery and Dogma in ReligionAbp. Magee.Ezekiel 20:49
Obscurities in RevelationThomas Binney.Ezekiel 20:49
PreachersG. Brooks.Ezekiel 20:49
The Mysterious Aspect of the Gospel to the Men of the WorldT. Chalmers, D. D.Ezekiel 20:49
A Parable of JudgmentW. Jones Ezekiel 20:45-49
The Forest in FlameJ.D. Davies Ezekiel 20:45-49
In a nation, men's minds are in every stage of development; a hundred phases of feeling prevail. Hence God, in his kindness, sent his instructions in every possible form, and adapted his reproofs to every state of mind - to children as well as to men of riper years.

I. THE PARABLE IMPLIES A RESEMBLANCE BETWEEN MEN AND FOREST TREES. Amid many differences, there are some resemblances, and it is on one of these resemblances that this admonition fastens. In the earlier stages of their life, trees grow better in clusters. They serve as a support to each other, and also as a protection against storms. But soon the roots rob nourishment, each from the other. The boughs shut out the light and air. They prevent the growth and hardening of the wood. They become mutually injurious. Sap diminishes. The branches dry and decay. So it is with men in society. Casting off the fear of God, they corrupt each other. They become one another's tempters. Healthy growth ceases. Shutting out, each from the other, the light and sunshine from heaven, their proper life shrivels, epics up, and decays. They become combustible - lit for burning.

II. RESEMBLANCE BETWEEN GOD'S RIGHTEOUS ANGER AND MATERIAL FIRE. On these two resemblances the parable depends. As fire naturally lays hold of and destroys forest trees, be does God's anger naturally lay hold of and destroy wicked men. There is a fixed and unalterable correspondence. "Be sure your sin will find you out!" You may as well swallow poison, and hope to live; you may as well set fire to gunpowder, and expect it not to explode; you may as well touch a galvanic current, and think to avoid any nervous sensation, - as to sin, and not suffer penalty. Each is alike an eternal decree of the living God. As each plant has in it the potency to produce another plant, so every sin has in it the germ of destruction.

III. PROXIMITY TO EVIL MEN CONSTITUTES A DANGER. All the trees in a forest are not equally dessicated. Yet such becomes the fierceness of the flame, fed by the drier trees, that those less dessicated are reduced to ashes. Men may be less guilty than their neighbours; they may flatter themselves that they are not so corrupt as others; nevertheless, it they do not separate themselves, or labour to improve their neighbours, they may be consumed in the general conflagration. The green trees were threatened with destruction along with the dry. Evil company is perilous. Each one has sin enough to draw down Divine anger.

IV. MENTAL BLINDNESS IS A DISASTROUS EFFECT OF SIN. "Doth he not speak in parables?" The bulk of men say, "It is a pretty story. It has much literary beauty. The preacher was eloquent, imaginative, interesting." Yet they see not the moral significance, do not feel the points of application. The sermon well suited some absent person; it did not touch them. The eyes of conscience are put out. As it was in the day when Jesus spake his parables, so is it always. "Men see, but do not perceive; they hear, but do not understand." Today a thousand self-blinded men say, "The doom of the wicked is not so terrible as it seems; for the alarming language of Jesus Christ was only a parable." Yet a parable contains hidden truth, sometimes the most arousing. - D.







Ah Lord God! they say of me, Doth he not speak parables.
There is a tone of remonstrance and expostulation in these words of the prophet. He is evidently conscious that because of something in the nature of his message, that message will be unpopular with his hearers. There is in that which God has given him to speak, something that for this reason he would fain have altered — something, not in the substance, but in the style and form of his address, which he fain would phrase otherwise. "Ah Lord God, that which I have to say to these people comes to them in an unacceptable form; they say of me, Doth he not speak parables?" Whatever this stumbling block was, in the manner and form of the message, that lay in the way of its acceptance, he would fain remove it if possible. And so in his entreaty is implied a petition that he might be allowed and enabled to explain his parable. "Ah Lord God, if it may be so, may I but utter plainer speech; they say of me, Doth he not speak parables." Most natural was the objection of the hearers?; most natural was the desire of the teacher to accommodate himself and his message to that objection, and yet distinctly sinful was the desire on both parts, for these words that the prophet had to speak were not his words to alter as he pleased; they were God's words. What, then, was the demand of Israel, and what was the admission of the prophet? Was it not this, to doubt whether the form in which the Lord had cast His own message was the most perfect one, to doubt whether, in some way, He or they might not improve, or have it improved upon? And what was this but of the very essence of unbelief? The message of the Church to the world is like the message of the prophets of old, in part plain, in part mysterious, and as it were in parables. Very plain and very simple words has the Church of Christ, in the name of her Master, to speak to men when she tells us that "in the midst of life we are in death"; when she tells us that "we have erred and strayed from the right way like lost sheep"; when she bids us "Wash and make clean, and put away the evil of our doings, and seek to do justice, relieve the oppressed, and plead the cause of the fatherless and widow." But then, she has other words to speak that are not so plain, and not so easily intelligible, words that are full of mystery, words that sound like parables in the ears of those who listen to them. She has to speak of a Father who sent an incarnate Son into the world to die for men. She has to speak of the mystery of the Incarnation, and the Resurrection, and the Atonement, and the Ascension, and the descending of the Spirit, the eternal life of man and the eternal life to come. And as she speaks these mysteries, and as she speaks them dogmatically in the name of Him who has commissioned her by His authority to press them, on that authority, for the acceptance of man, she meets the answer from the world the prophet met of old, "We will accept your plainer truths, but we revolt from your darker sayings; speak to us plainly, and in no proverb." Is not that the difficulty that the Church encounters again and again? Is it not the difficulty which she encounters at this moment as she faces what is called "the spirit of the age," and the century in which she lives? How often do we hear and read in almost familiar forms of modern literature expressing the heart and thought of the age: "Give us natural religion, but give us less of your dogma; we care not for your theology and its mysteries, give us religion only." And the temptation of the Church is now, as of old, to yield to that cry, not for her own sake, but for the sake of her message, to soften down some of its difficulties, to explain away some of its strange sayings, in the hope that it may be more acceptable to men — in the vain and the utterly delusive hope that it will be so accepted. No, not so can we save our creed, and yet the temptation to do so is a sore one. Our duty is to say plainly to those who thus speak to us, "The words that you will have us alter, and the very form of those words — and we dare not distinguish between the form and the essence, for we believe the form to be Divine — are not our words to change, even to win your faith and your assent; they are God's words. Mysterious they may be, but we are the stewards of the manifold mysteries of God, and we dare not for our own sakes, and we need not for yours, add to or diminish aught from the words of the message of our Lord." But while the Church is thus sternly faithful to her mission; while she speaks and must ever speak the dogma or parables that our Lord has given her to speak; while she cannot give to men what they ask for from her, a religion without mystery, — she may at least strive to show to men the reasonableness of mystery and the necessity of dogma. We may not alter the parable we have to speak, but we may at least show them that there is some reasonableness in listening to that parable. Let us, for a moment or two, consider the attitude of the Church in the present day to those who denounce in her teaching its dogma and its mystery, and let us see if we can find something to help the difficulty of the objectors, and something at the same time to lead us ourselves to a deeper faith, and therefore to a real and bolder utterance of all the mysteries of our religion. And now, if we look at the objections that are commonly made on this ground in our popular literature or otherwise, to Christianity, we will find, I think, that they divide themselves under two heads. One is the objection to the mysteriousness and difficulty of Christian dogma, and another to what is described as the unreality of the language respecting Christian experience. Now a word or two upon each of these, and in the first we may just, in passing, remind the most scientific and logical of the objectors to dogma and mystery of this fact, that very much of the belief, the scientific belief, of mankind in their own teachings is, for the mass of those who receive it, nothing but dogmatism. Is it then altogether so inconceivable a thing, and so strange, that the all-wise and infinite intelligence of the Author of this world should deal with us, even the most learned and wisest of us, as the most learned and wise of us deal with inferior intelligences, and that He should give us in form of a dogmatic utterance that which we could never have discovered for ourselves? But passing on from this, let us ask next, is it possible for us to comply with this request that we should eliminate all dogma and all mystery from religion? Let us try to do it for one moment. Let us suppose that we have banished from Christianity, and from the word that Christianity has to speak to men, all those technical and mysterious terms about the Trinity and incarnation and atonement and regeneration, and that we have simplified our message. To what shall we reduce it? We may reduce it at least to two words, and beyond these it will not bear any reduction, if it is to be a religion at all. We must speak of God, and we must speak of man. For what is religion but the joining together of God and man? And when we name these two words — and these words must make part of all or any religion — have we got rid of mystery? Are there two words more fraught with mystery than these two? And for this reason, that God and man are not words, are not notions; they are facts. They are the facts of our life and of our being, and the difficulties that arise — the difficult thoughts of God and man — and the mysteries, parables, and dogmas that underlie these thoughts have vexed the hearts and souls of men before Christ was born, and they would vex them still if the name of Christ was forgotten. There are not merely difficulties and mysteries and parables in religion, but there are difficulties, mysteries, and parables in philosophy, and fact, and in human nature; you cannot escape them. The awful shadows of these mysteries wrap us round wherever we go; we cannot avoid them, we cannot escape them merely by bidding those who talk about them not to speak parables about them. Parables are in our hearts and souls and nature, and in the worm around us; in the very air, as it were, of our intellectual breath and thought, and we cannot cease to feel them without ceasing to exist, any more than we can live our natural life or cease to draw the vital air of the atmosphere without ceasing to live our natural life. We cannot, then, you see, escape from dogma, and parable, and we cannot escape from them in our speech or in our religion. It must and ought to be so. Can we escape from cant? What is the meaning of the word cant? Cant in its strictly etymological and historical meaning is this — the language of the initiated: a language known to those engaged in any business or occupation, the terms of which are terms of art, technical terms, and as such are only known and understood by those who practise the art. It means the technical language of any business, or art, or science. Religion is a science, and it is an art, — the science of the knowledge of God, and the art of holy living. And therefore it must necessarily have cant. But there is no more unreality in the cant of religion than there is unreality in the cant of medicine, or of law, or of trade, and the most offensive of all cant is the cant of irreligion and of scepticism. But although we have seen that Christianity must thus be mysterious in its doctrine at times, and must be peculiar at others, though we know that there is something apparently unreal and unmeaning in the words that describe its life, and although we must not shrink from dogma, nor shrink again from the accusation of religious cant, there is a warning for us Christians and us teachers of Christianity in this objection of the world and of the age that we do well to listen and give solemn heed to. It is quite true that men may be guilty of religious cant in a bad sense, and not in a good sense. And they are so whenever the words of their religious life — however true and important in themselves — are used by them without some corresponding emotion and experience in their own hearts; whenever the words that describe the Christian life become unreal upon our lips, that is to say, in other words, whenever our life falls below the level of our religious speech or our religious prayer. Then are we speaking cant, and cant that is mischievous and deadly to our own spiritual life. In the last place, we thank God for this — there is the power of bringing a better reality, a nobler life, into our speech by living our creed. Our creed becomes for us real. Men may so live that their prayers and their creeds are the living utterances of the new life that is day by day stealing into their very heart and life. And as the man becomes child-like, he is able to understand the meaning of the creed in which he expresses his belief in the Father. As the man becomes Christ-like, he can understand the meaning of the word Christ. As the man becomes spiritual, more and more does he understand the sentence in his creed which speaks of the giving of God's Holy Spirit to dwell amongst us; and prayer and repentance, and conversion and approach to God, and assurance and hope, and every other word of Christian experience, become for him new words, because they become for him new facts in his fife. As he dwells more and more in the heavenly land, he learns more and more of the heavenly speech, and so the creed fills the life with light, and the life reflects back that light upon the creed. We are not to be as children, simply listening to parables of our faith, as children listen to nursery stories. We are not merely "children crying in the night," we are not merely "children crying for the light." Rather we are to live as Christian men, rather as brave and strong men, with patient and quiet and trusting hearts — walking along the hard ways of life: ways that are chequered by shadow of the Cross, and lightened with the glory of the crowned Christ; and it may be that, bent and bowed beneath the weight of difficulty and trial, and the weariness of life, our eyes rest upon the path lust where our feet can stand, and see even there such pure light from our creed that it becomes a great revelation from the Father in heaven, who has given us our lot to walk and work in life.

(Abp. Magee.)

I. THE TOO PREVALENT DISPOSITION IN HEARERS TO MAKE LIGHT OF WHAT THEY HEAR, to turn sermons into fiction, and to put such flexible and accommodating constructions upon the heavenly message as shall divest it of all its point and application and purpose. Prove the moral sincerity of your faith in God's Word, in the same way as you would prove your sincerity of your faith in any other word; in the word of a friend, for example, who had put some written instructions into your hands as to the path to be chosen and the dangers to be avoided, in some new expedition you were undertaking. If those instructions of your friend were scarcely looked at, or seldom read, or never studied, with a view to determine what you should do, or what you should not do, would any profession of trust in such guidance be entitled to the least credit? Would it not be evident that your course was shaped by other influences, and that you had no more respect for the instructions of your friend than for the counsels of one who had a love for the extravagant, and whose very truths were darkened by parables? Well, of this subtle and unacknowledged infidelity, it is to be feared very much will be found among us. Whenever they hear anything tending to disturb their settled opinions, it is always some extravagance or straining of metaphor, or licence of rhetoric, or trick of declamation to keep drowsy audience awake.

II. SOME OF THOSE DOCTRINES AND STATEMENTS WITH REGARD TO WHICH THERE SEEMS TO BE A STRONG CONVICTION IN THE MINDS OF MANY, EITHER THAT THE BIBLE DEALS IN DESIGNEDLY POETIC REPRESENTATIONS, OR ELSE THAT MINISTERS OF THE GOSPEL OVERSTATE THEIR CASE. Parable, in the sense of fiction, invented conceits, fond imagination, it is plain there must be somewhere. Teachers and hearers cannot interpret the same book so differently, and yet both be right. Which speaks in parables? For example, which speaks in the language of parable, as to the moral dangers of our probation, whether from temptations without or from a treacherous heart within? Has the preacher needlessly magnified these dangers, in exhorting you to incessant watchfulness, to a jealous vigilance over the first springs of thought, to a sacred custody of the heart's entrances and outgoings, as feeling that life and immortality were suspended on the issue? You demur perhaps to some of his descriptions of what that heart is, as the nursery of all evil, the fountain of all that is hateful and vile in human character, the ready slave to the purpose of Satan, whenever he has a design to accomplish against God and man; but strong as this language seems, is it stronger than saying, "The heart of man is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked," or "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, blasphemies, and such like"? Or perhaps he who speaks to you has given some dark sketches of an unseen and malignant foe, subtle in his plans, watchful for his opportunities, dreadful for the number of his emissaries, and fierce even unto the death. Doth not the Word that cannot lie declare of this enemy, that "his name is Legion," and that "your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour"? Or, once more, the preacher has spoken disparagingly of the world. Dear as it is to you who have happy associations, happy friendships, happy thoughts, he has exhorted you to beware of it, to have as little to do with it as you can, to make it the servant of your necessities, and not the master of your hearts. But on this point do the law and the testimony speak a more guarded language? Far otherwise; they have affirmed that the whole world lieth in wickedness, and that he who will be a friend of the world must consent to be considered as an enemy of God. Another topic on which men must suppose we use an unnecessary strictness, or they could not live as they do, is with respect to the proper moral signs of their being in a state of reconciliation with God — of their being partakers of a genuine repentance and a saving faith. Surely on such subjects we ought to speak in very faithfulness, for neither to our own souls nor to yours could anything be more perilous than fiction — than an extravagance which should outdo itself. Oh, then, is it our fault if, on reading in the solemn commission given to us, that "without holiness no man shall see the Lord," we pronounce as banished from the everlasting presence the man who does not even desire that holiness, — whose habits are utterly at variance with the temper and spirit of holiness, — whose converse with God is restricted to the service of lip and knee, — who neither knows, nor cares to know, what is meant by the believer's struggles with sin, or conflicts with the law in his members, or aspirations, so broken and so feeble, after the purities of the heavenly state? There is yet one other topic on which, unless ministers of the Gospel be thought to speak in the most extravagant parables, the life of three-fourths of professing Christians is one continued mystery. I mean the retributions which await the Christless soul in another world. On this subject, to go in excess of the awful and thrilling description of the Word of God is not possible. No uninspired imagination could ever attain to such heights — the worm and the fire and the outer darkness and the separation ever widening between repentance and God, and hope. These, if they are parables, at least are not our parables, but the parables of One who must have chosen such a medium of illustration because the intense and overwhelming majesty of the subject could not be described in any other way. And yet, how are we to explain the fact — for fact you know it is — that if we were to collect all those revelations of Holy Writ together, and were to arrange them in such order that they who run might read, many would listen, would seem to be impressed, would profess entire belief in all that had been said, and yet afterwards they would neither love sin the less, nor fear God the more, nor examine their state more closely; but as they came so would they go away, unchanged, unresolved, unreconciled, unforgiven? Surely the fact admits of but one solution. Say what they will, they do not believe these things. Whatever the delusion be, certain it is that each one has sonic lulling process by which the penalties of the eternal world become stripped of their terribleness, insomuch that the words are all but uttered in regard to the man who preaches of them: "What doth this babbler say?" "Then said I, O Lord God! they say of me, Doth he not speak in parables?"

(D. Moore, M. A.)

1. There are certain experiences of human life so oft repeated, and so familiar to all our recollections, that when we perceive, or think we perceive, an analogy between them and the matters of religion, then religion does not appear to us to be mysterious. There is not a more familiar exhibition in society than that of a servant who performs his allotted work, and who obtains his stipulated reward; and we are all servants, and one is our Master, even God. There is nothing more common than that a son should acquit himself to the satisfaction of his parents — and we are all the children of a universal Parent, whom it is our part to please in all things. Now, so long as the work of religious instruction can be upheld by such analogies as these, — so long as the relations of civil or of domestic society can be employed to illustrate the relation between God and the creatures whom He has formed, — a vein of perspicuity will appear to run through the clear and rational exposition of him who has put all the mists and all the technicals of an obscure theology away from him. All his lessons will run in an easy and direct train. Can anything be more evident than that there is a line of separation between the sensual and the temperate, between the selfish and the disinterested, between the sordid and the honourable; or, if we require a distinction more strictly religious, between the profane and the decent keeper of all the ordinances? Here then at once we witness the two grand divisions of human society, in a state of real and visible exemplification; and what more is necessary than just to employ the most direct and intelligible motives of conduct for persuading men to withdraw from one of these divisions, and pass over to the other of them? It is needless to say how much this process is reversed by many a teacher of Christianity. It is true that they hold out most prominently the need of some great transition; but it is a transition most mysteriously different from the act of crossing that line of separation to which we have just been adverting. They reduce the men of all casts, and of all characters, to the same footing of worthlessness in the sight of God; and speak of the evil of the human heart in such terms as will sound to many a mysterious exaggeration — and, like the hearers of Ezekiel, will these not be able to comprehend the argument of the preacher when he tells them, though in the very language of the Bible, that they are the heirs of wrath; that none of them is righteous, no, not one; that all flesh have corrupted their ways, and have fallen short of the glory of God; that the world at large is a lost and a fallen world, and that the natural inheritance of all who live in it is the inheritance of a temporal death and a ruined eternity. When the preacher goes on in this strain, those hearers whom the Spirit has not convinced of sin will be utterly at a loss to understand him; nor are we to wonder if he seem to speak to them in a parable when he speaks to the disease, — that all the darkness of a parable should still seem to hang over his demonstrations when, as a faithful expounder of the revealed will and counsel of God, he proceeds to tell them of the remedy. Now, it is when the preacher is unfolding this scheme of salvation, — it is when he is practically applying it to the conscience and the conduct of his hearers, — it is when the terms of grace and faith and sanctification are pressed into frequent employment for the work of these very peculiar explanations, — it is when, instead of illustrating his subject by those analogies of common life, which might have done for men of an untainted nature, but which will not do for the men of this corrupt world, he faithfully unfolds that economy of redemption which God hath actually set up for the recovery of our degenerate species, — it is then that, to a hearer still in darkness, the whole argument sounds as strangely and as obscurely as if it were conveyed to him in an unknown language, — it is then that the repulsion of his nature to the truth as it is in Jesus finds a willing excuse in the utter mysteriousness of its articles and its terms; and gladly does he put away from him the unwelcome message, with the remark that he who delivers it is a speaker of parables, and there is no comprehending him.

2. Now, if there be any hearers present who feel that we have spoken to them, when we spoke of the resistance which is held out against peculiar Christianity on the ground of that mysteriousness in which it appears to be concealed from all ordinary discernment, we should like to take our leave of them at present with two observations. We ask them, in the first place, if they have ever, to the satisfaction of their own minds, disproved the Bible? — and if not, we ask them how they can sit at ease, should all the mysteriousness which they charge upon evangelical truth, and by which they would attempt to justify their contempt for it, be found to attach to the very language and to the very doctrine of God's own communication? He actually does say that no man cometh unto the Father but by the Son — and that His is the only name given under heaven whereby men can be saved — and that He will be magnified only in the appointed Mediator — and that Christ is all and all — and that there is no other foundation on which man can lay — and that he who believeth on Him shall not be confounded. He further speaks of our personal preparation for heaven; and here, too, may His utterance sound mysteriously in your hearing, as He tells that without holiness no man can see God — and that we are without strength while we are without the Spirit to make us holy — and that unless a man be born again he shall not enter into the kingdom of God — and that he should wrestle in prayer for the washing of regeneration — and that he should watch for the Holy Ghost with all perseverance — and that he should aspire at being perfect through Christ strengthening him — and that be should, under the operation of those great provisions which are set up in the New Testament for creating us anew unto good works, conform himself unto that doctrine of grace by which he is brought to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present evil world. Secondly, let us assure the men who at this moment bid the stoutest defiance to the message of the Gospel, that the time may yet come when they shall render to this very gospel the most striking of all acknowledgments, even by sending to the door of its most faithful ministers, and humbly craving from them their explanations and their prayers. We never saw the expiring mortal who could look with an undaunted eye on God as his Lawgiver; but often has all its languor been lighted up with joy at the name of Christ as his Saviour. We never saw the dying acquaintance who, upon the retrospect of his virtues and of his doings, could prop the tranquillity of his spirit on the expectation of a legal reward. Oh no; this is not the element which sustains the tranquillity of deathbeds: it is the hope of forgiveness. It is a believing sense of the efficacy of the atonement. It is the prayer of faith, offered up in the name of Him who is the Captain of all our salvation. It is a dependence on that power which can alone impart a meetness for the inheritance of the saints, and present the spirit holy and unreprovable and unblamable in the sight of God. Now, what we have to urge is, that if these be the topics which, on the last half hour of your life, are the only ones that will possess, in your judgment, any value or substantial importance, why put them away from you now?

(T. Chalmers, D. D.)

I. GOD MAY AT TIMES REVEAL HIS TRUTH IN A MANNER SOMEWHAT OBSCURE. Much of His truth in nature is enigmatic and mystical In Providence the same. What confusion there seems to be in His moral government of mankind. In the Bible the same. I have no notion of telling people that the Bible is an exceedingly easy and simple book.

II. THE OBSCURITY IN WHICH TRUTH IS SOMETIMES REVEALED IS OFTEN FELT TO BE PAINFUL BY THE TEACHER. "They say of me, Doth he not speak parables?" Preachers have to take great subjects, but how little they know of them; and they who know most of them are most conscious of their ignorance, and they speak with hesitation.

III. SCEPTICALLY DISPOSED MINDS USE THE OBSCURITY OF THE REVELATION AS AN OBJECTION AGAINST THE TRUTH. "It cannot be," says the objector; "if God did condescend to reveal truth, no one can suppose that He would reveal it thus. No one could imagine that He would communicate it in that way: the thing on the face of it bears its own condemnation." "They say of me, Doth he not speak parables?" "They," who? All sceptically disposed men.

IV. HOWEVER COMMON THE OBJECTION TO CHRISTIANITY ON ACCOUNT OF ITS OBSCURITY, THE OBJECTION IS BY NO MEANS VALID.

1. Truth coming in this form is adapted to our condition in this state of probation and trial.

2. Truth coming in this form serves many useful purposes. It challenges inquiry and stimulates thought.(1) Preachers should learn that it is for them to preach the truth of God in whatever form it comes to them, regardless of the objections of their hearers.(2) Hearers should be cautious not to impose upon themselves by raising paltry objections to the truth.(3) All should learn that religious truth should be reached, not so much by a reasoning process, as by a moral state of the heart. It is to be understood rather by the heart than the head. Looked at through the eyes of moral sympathy, rather than through the eyes of reason or logic.

(Thomas Binney.)

I. The charge brought against the preachers of the gospel.

1. That they preach what is unreal;

2. What is unintelligible;

3. What is allegorical.

II. Some of the statements of preachers of the gospel on which this charge against them is founded.

1. Those which relate to the natural condition of mankind.

2. To the evidences of conversion.

3. To the happiness of religion.

4. To the future punishment of the finally impenitent.

(G. Brooks.).

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