The Effect of Unbelief in Ministers

autumn-2182010_640In Words to Winners of Souls Horatius Bonar challenges us in the Lord’s service:

Thus did they preach and thus did they hear in those days of terror and death. Men were in earnest then, both in speaking and hearing. There was no coldness, no languor, no studied oratory. Truly they preached as dying men to dying men. But the question is, Should it ever be otherwise? Should there ever be less fervor in preaching or less eagerness in hearing than there was then? True, life was a little shorter then, but that was all. Death and its issues are still the same. Eternity is still the same. The soul is still the same. Only one small element was thrown in then which does not always exist to such an extent; namely, the increased shortness of life. But that was all the difference.

Why then should our preaching be less fervent, our appeals less affectionate, our importunity less urgent? We are a few steps farther from the shore of eternity; that is all. Time may be a little stronger than it was then, yet only a very little. Its everlasting issues are still as momentous, as unchangeable. Surely it is our unbelief that makes the difference! It is unbelief that makes ministers so cold in their preaching, so slothful in visiting, and so remiss in all their sacred duties. It is unbelief that chills the life and straitens the heart. It is unbelief that makes ministers handle eternal realities with such irreverence. It is unbelief that makes them ascend with so light a step “that awful place the pulpit,” to deal with immortal beings about heaven and hell.

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