“In all things approving ourselves as the ministers
of God.” 2 Corinthians 6:4.
This verse implies that ministers are to labor for God—
surely not for the preacher’s fame. SELF is an idol which
has been worshiped by far greater multitudes than any
other deity of either ancient or modern heathenism.
A minister is the last man in the world who should be
seen at the altar of this vile abomination—SELF. And yet
without great care he is likely to be the first one there,
to linger there the longest, to bow the lowest, and to
express his devotion by the costliest sacrifices!
Many become ministers merely to acquire popular
applause. ‘Fame’ is their motive and their aim. To
commend themselves, is the secret but powerful
spring of all they do. SELF is with them in the study
directing their reading, selecting their texts, arranging
their thoughts, forming their illustrations—and all with
a view to ‘shine in public’. Thus prepared, they ascend
the pulpit with the same object which conducts the
actor to the stage—to secure the applause of approving
spectators. Every tone is modulated, every emphasis
laid, every attitude regulated—to please the audience,
rather than to profit their souls; to commend themselves,
and not Jesus Christ. The service ended, this bosom idol
returns with them to their own abode, and renders them
restless and uneasy to know how they have succeeded.
If they are admired, they receive their reward; if not,
the first prize is lost!
It is nothing in abatement of the sin, that all this
while evangelical sentiments are uttered. Orthodoxy
is the most direct road to popularity. Christ may be
the text—when SELF is the sermon! And dreadful
as it seems, it is to be feared that many have elevated
the cross only to suspend upon the ‘sacred tree’ their
own honors! and have employed all the glories of
redemption—merely to emblazon their own name!
The ministry is not intended to be a platform, where the
petty manufacturer of ‘tinsel eloquence’ and ‘rhetorical
flowers’ shall display to a gaping crowd his gaudy wares!
When carried to this height, this is the direst, deepest
tragedy that was ever performed by man, since it ends
in the actual and eternal death of the performer, who
forgets, as he snuffs the gale of popular applause,
that it bears the vapors of damnation!
“The Spirit took me to the north gate of the temple’s
inner courtyard, where there was an idol that
disgusted the Lord and made Him furious!”