by Arthur W. Pink
Philologos Religious Online Books
Studies in the Scriptures
by Arthur W. Pink
I am sorry to find you complaining of the state of religion among you. Infidelity abounds and Christians grow cold and lukewarm, sufficient causes of lamentation these; yet both ministers and private Christians have reason to be ashamed of their frequent neglect of those important duties a serious and regular discharge of which has a tendency to revive the power of religion. Though I am fully sensible nothing will do without the presence of the Spirit of God, yet so far as we live in the neglect of any means, so far we are certainly culpable. The great defect of ministers in the present day, I apprehend, is impertinent conversation, and not labouring in private to impress upon the minds of their hearers a sense of what is delivered in public. If our visits were more religious we might find our labours more owned. When we are in Christian company, where we may use the greatest freedom, how backward to a serious enlivening conversation! And we can spend, perhaps, a whole evening among our less religious hearers and not drop a single word that savours of the real power of godliness. I speak too much by experience, having often lost the disposition to converse about the mind of God, by impertinent chat, etc.
It is a difficult matter to retain a serious temper and inclination to interject with indifferent subjects serious and suitable reflections; we are either ashamed or afraid to be speaking for God, or else our inclination is wanting, or some trifling excuse or other keeps us from the discharge of our duty. I am often convinced of my neglect, and promise to strive against it; but I am soon overcome with fear, or filled with that shameful modesty which is a great hindrance to usefulness. It is certainly a minister's duty to preach in private, and to use plainness and faithfulness. When, instead of enforcing in private what we preach in public we readily join in impertinent talk, unrenewed persons are hardened in their impenitency, and if they had any convictions upon this they presume to take encouragement either to think well of their state, or to think there is nothing in religion, by which means our public performances are despised, or looked upon as a mere form. It is necessary that we use plainness with sinners in private (as well as publicly admonish them), and talk about their souls in the most serious and affectionate manner if we would be successful.
Infidelity appears more and more barefaced; it requires courage and resolution now to confess Christ before men: things cannot continue long in the present posture, but either a reformation or some sore judgment—God grant it may be the former! One minister to another—1751