To Those Who Preach The Gospel
I BELIEVE we ought to preach the love of God to sinners and appeal to them more than we do. The preaching should be such that it should convict of sin, and the impossibility of sin and God going together, so that it should be well understood that there is need of reconciling. And here Christ at once comes in, and atonement and righteousness. Holiness precludes all sin from God, righteousness judges it. This I believe the sinner should understand, so that he should know what love applies to, yet that love should be fully preached. It does itself often convict of sin, for the conscience has often its wants already, and this draws them out, so that men find consciously where they are. But conviction of sin under righteousness is a very useful thing if grace be fully preached with it, and both righteousness and grace unite in Christ.
I think it very important that preachers should go to the world, especially now, with a message of distinct love to them. But it should be love manifested in Christ, so as to bring out the sinner's condition to himself; that it should not be mere easiness as to sin: that it is a gracious love to sinners—grace abounding over sin—grace reigning through ness, than which nothing is more per fectly grace. Sometimes I think the love of God is so preached as if it were a kind ol boon on the sinner's part to accept it. It is God's joy. Still, as a sinner his being a debtor to God ought to be before his soul. ... I count evangelizing the happiest service. Yet my heart yearns over the saints and the glory of Christ in the truth, too. Happy there is One above all who does all.
Repentance has to be preached, because there is God's claim over man and man's judgment of himself, but preached in Christ's name, which carries grace with it. It is easy to put the just line on paper. In preaching, love to souls and living with God— and God's love to souls, which involves necessarily His holiness—will alone give preaching its true character. I am sure, and it is evident, that conscience must be reached, or nothing is done. But that is power, and God's power. Law itself may be used lawfully, when there is a reckless conscience and with blessing ; only grace and remission must go with it. But the cross convicts of sin, where really understood, more deeply than anything.