We have proved that the people will come to receive a literal and unvarnished gospel. The impression is abroad that you must fix up the gospel to suit the age, instead of fixing up the age to suit the gospel, and the young men coming out of our theological seminaries have the impression that they must palliate the prejudices of society and must cover over the natural rottenness of the human heart, and that they must tell men what very clever people they are and that they only need to be pressed in a little one way and pulled out a little the other way, and then they will be all right. And they say, “All you want is development.”
Development! Is it? You might as well go to a man bent double with the cramps of Asiatic cholera and tell him that all he wants is development. It is a lie. He needs to have his disease killed, so that he may get well. Until our heart is changed by the grace of God, it is scabbed and ulcerous with a great leprosy, and it is not development we want, but it is the cure of an eating, loathsome, blasting, damning leprosy. Our whole nature throughout, and throughout, and throughout wrong, needs to be made over and over, and over again.
I wish that every word of that passage could come down with five ton’s weight of emphasis– “Except a man be born again, he can not see the kingdom of God.” Though he had given one hundred thousand dollars to religious institutions, though he never used a bad word in his life, though he paid all his debts, though he lived on the tiptop round of respectability– “Except a man be born again, he can not see the kingdom of God.”
But so little do we hear about this doctrine of regeneration in this day, that it is almost considered indelicate for a man to read in a public assemblage the words of Christ to Nicodemus about the new birth. And as to there being any hell, if we make any allusion to that, it must be with exquisite circulocution, as “the place of high temperature,” or “the world insalubrious,” or, as a minister recently called it, “the great elsewhere!”
I say to the young men who are studying for the ministry, if you have any idea that it is necessary to preach an emasculated gospel in order to get people to come and hear it, you make a vast mistake.
T. DeWitt Talmage