There  are some believers with strong and vigorous faith. Soaring high, they can mount up with wings as eagles. Fleet of foot, they can run, and not be weary; or, with steady progress, they can walk, and not faint. But all are not so highly pivileged. I suppose there is seldom a family which has no sickly member. However hale and hearty most of the sons and daughters may be, there is likely to be some weakly one amongst them. So it certainly is in the spiritual household; and it will be, therefore, my business just now to look after the weakly ones.

I do trust that the word which I shall be enabled to speak may lead their companions also to look after them, and may God grant that, by these means, many troubled ones may be conducted into peace and safety! Some of these people of God, who are compared to lame sheep, seem to have been so from their birth. Their lameness is in their constitution. Do you not know some friends of yours who naturally incline to despondency? They always look at the dark side of everything; and if there be no dark side at all, they have a very fine imagination, so they very soon conjure up some difficulty or trouble. They appear to have been born with a propensity to read black-letter literature, and nothing else. Illuminated missals are not for them; they cannot bear the fine colors, which delight our eyes; they like the dark points. If they turn to the Bible, they seem naturally to fall upon the threatenings; or if they read the promises, they shake their heads, and say, “Ah, these are not for us!” They make heavy troubles out of the common cares of life and it is only carrying out the same spirit which causes them to grieve and fret over the whole course of their Christian pilgrimage. For them, the road is always rugged, the pastures unsavoury, and the waters turbid. You will find such unhappy souls in all our churches; people who seem from their very conformation to be lame as to their faith, timorous, trembling, and full of doubts and fears.

Besides, have you never noticed a constitutional tendency in some professors to stumble, and get lame? If there is a slough, they will fall into it; if there is a thicket, they will get entangled by it; if there is an error, they will run into it. Good people we trust they are, and they do believe in Jesus; but, somehow or other, they do not see things clearly. Men to them are like walking trees. Such persons go off at a tangent if anybody makes noise enough to attract their attention. “Lo, here!” and “lo, there!” are cries at the sound of which they go off directly. Let some divine discover a novel doctrine, and they are on the new track at once, never thinking where it will lead them. Let a would-be philosopher suggest some fresh theory, which clashes with the Word of God, and the things of the Spirit, and their eager appetite is whetted, and they will leave the old fields of truth to wander in the barren wastes of science falsely so-called. When you go to market, if you are a sensible person, you do not turn aside from all the good wares and fair merchandise to waste your time and your money over the quack vendor of nostrums that he advertises with large pictures and loud talk. Your common sense directs you to seek wholesome food and useful articles; but there are credulous people ready to be caught with any bait. So, too, there is no lack of simpletons in all our congregations, good, thoughtless people, lame and limping in all their walk, troubled with skepticism, and plagued with curiosity. Unstable as water, they shall not excel.

Can you not detect, too, some who are lame in point of character? They seem to have been so from their very birth. There is a something about their gait that is unsteady. As you look at them, you are ready to say, “Yes, good people they may be but they are of a queer sort.” We hope they are sincere, but they are like Mephibosheth, who was dropped by his nurse, and was lame in both his feet. If they walk at all, it is a dreadful hobble. They do their best, and we cannot condemn them, but there is an awkwardness about their whole deportment. They are lame sheep at the best. With some, it is a cross temper; with others, it is a general moroseness, which it does not seem as if the grace of God itself would ever cure in them, or it may be a natural indolence oppresses them; or it is quite possible that habitual impatience harasses them. Now, the grace of God should eradicate these vices; it can and will, if you yield to its influence, for the grace of God, which bringeth salvation teacheth us to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts. With some of us, the conquest over such evil propensities has been already gained.

Still, there are among us those sheep that are lame in this particular respect; they are, if I may so say, constitutionally unsound from their very first entrance into the fold. Moreover, they betray their lameness when there is anything you give them to do. If they as Sunday-school teachers, they cannot walk regularly or keep step with their fellows; or they fail to help the young scholar on. Ask them to visit in any district, the steps they take are marked by indiscretion. Appoint them to preach at any of your stations, their speech is not straightforward; they go over the plainest ground of gospel statement with a lack of consistency, like the walk of a man whose legs are not equal. Whatever they attempt, they do it just as a lame man would go on an errand. They are slow in their movements, and slovenly in their performances. Aptly are they compared to lame sheep. Well, you know such people. I wonder whether you are one yourself; at least, there are some such about, lame from their birth.

Other sheep of Christ’s flock are halt and lame because they have been ill fed. Bad food is the cause of a thousand disorders. Many a sickly man, instead of being dosed with drugs, needs to be nourished with wholesome meat. Had he something better to feed upon, he might conquer his diseases. Sheep cannot thrive well on bad food. It is true that many really good Christians have been badly fed. The preaching they have heard has, perhaps, been altogether false doctrine. The poor souls have sat and listened to moral essays, maudlin sentiments, or manifold subtleties that could not nourish their faith, or invigorate their spiritual constitution. If they sometimes suspected that it was not all right, they did not like to desert the place they had long been wont to attend, or to forsake the minister they had long been wont to hear. They are afraid of being thought too critical, so they have gone on with ill fare to the prejudice of their health and strength, their comfort and usefulness. It is more than probable that poisonous doctrine has got into their constitution, and done them real mischief, hence they are lame.

In hundreds, not to say thousands, of cases that I know, Christians are lame through a kind of hazy teaching, in which, if there is not anything positively bad, there is nothing positively good. I have read the remark that, if you were to hear thirteen lectures on geology from any decent lecturer, you would probably get a pretty clear idea of his system, but that you might hear thirteen hundred sermons from many a minister without knowing what he believes. There is a systematic habit, nowadays, of keeping back the positive doctrines, and the essential truths of the gospel; or of referring to them so vaguely that the sound of words gives no clue to the sense. The whole atmosphere is so full of fog that people cannot see where they are. The preacher would appear to be profoundly deep; but he is not clear. He stirs the mud, and makes himself and his subject alike obscure. Or, perhaps, he is so superficial that he does not touch upon those truths which lie at the foundation of the blessed hope of eternal life. Those that sit under such a ministry need not wonder how it is that they do not grow in grace.

Ay, and how much ministry there is that has nothing but chaff in it! What else can we say of those exquisite preparations for the pulpit in which cuttings from the reviewers, cullings from the poets, and choice scraps from Scripture writers are woven together with a fine overture to begin, and a flowing peroration to finish? What can we say of it but chaff, chaff, without a grain of pure wheat from first to last? I should like to chain eloquence down to a post; there let it be bound for ever in the land of forgetfulness, never again let it lift its brazen face in this world. Aiming at oratory, cultivating rhetoric, the gospel, which eschews the words of man’s wisdom, and demands great plainness of speech, has been disparaged and displaced. We shall not get back a strong race of Christians till we get back such a sturdy band of outspoken men as dare their reputation, if not their lives, upon the unvarnished testimony they give to the truth they know, the truth as it is in Jesus, the truth as it burns in their own hearts, and fires their tongues, the truth as it commends itself to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

But, undoubtedly, there are thousands of  Christians at this good hour, who are lamed for life through unqualified, unhallowed teaching. God save us from its hateful witcheries, and its baneful influences! If we are called to preach, let us preach; but let us know what we have to say, and let us say it as though we meant it, or for ever hold our tongues. There are some preachers, who seem to speak as if they meant to say nothing, and they succeed to their heart’s content, if that is their intention; nothing comes of it. The children of God, trained under their auspices, do not know whether God has an elect people or not, whether the saints will persevere, or whether they will fall away, and perish, they do not know whether Christ redeemed everybody, or somebody. They have no clear notion whatsoever of the things which make for their peace. May we be preserved from all willful ignorance and woeful infatuation! May God supply us constantly with strong meat, and sound health to digest it! (Online source)

Charles Spurgeon

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