Saturday, September 04, 2010
The Hurtfulness of Not Preaching Christ
The Hurtfulness of Not Preaching Christ, and Distinguishing Duly Between Law and Gospel
a Poem by Ralph Erkine
Hell cares not how crude holiness be preach'd,
If sinner's match with Christ be never reach'd;
Knowing their holiness is but a sham,
Who ne'er are marry'd to the holy Lamb.
Let words have never such a pious shew,
And blaze aloft in rude professor's view,
With sacred aromatics richly spic'd,
If they but drown in silence glorious Christ;
Or, if he may some vacant room supply,
Make him a subject only by the by;
They mar true holiness with tickling chat,
To breed a bastard Pharisaic brat.
They wofully the gospel message-broke,
Make fearful havock of their Master's flock;
Yet please themselves and the blind multitude,
By whom the gospel's little understood.
Rude souls, perhaps, imagine little odds
Between the legal and the gospel roads:
But vainly men attempt to blend the two;
They differ more than Christ and Moses do.
Moses, evangelizing in a shade,
By types the news of light approaching spread;
But from the law of works, by him proclaim'd,
No ray of gospel-grace or mercy gleam'd.
By nature's light the law to all is known,
But lightsome news of gospel-grace to none.
The doing cov'nant now, in part or whole,
Is strong to damn, but weak to save a soul.
It hurts, and cannot help, but as it tends
Through mercy to subserve some gospel-ends.
Law-thunder roughly to the gospel tames,
The gospel mildly to the law reclaims.
The fiery law, as 'tis a covenant,
Schools men to see the gospel-aid they want;
Then gospel-aid does sweetly them incline
Back to the law, as 'tis a rule divine.
Heaven's healing work is oft commenc'd with wounds,
Terror begins what loving-kindness crowns.
Preachers may therefore press the fiery law,
To strike the Christless men with dreadful awe.
Law-threats which for his sins to hell depress.
Yea, damn him for his rotten righteousness;
That while he views the law exceeding broad,
He fain may wed the righteousness of God.
But, ah! to press the law-works as terms of life,
was ne'er the way to court the Lamb a wife.
To urge conditions in the legal frame,
Is to renew the vain old cov'nant game.
The law is good, when lawfully 'tis used,
But most destructive, when it is abused.
They set not duties in the proper sphere,
Who duly law and gospel don't sever;
But under many chains let sinners lie,
As tributaries, or to DO or DIE.
Nor make the law a squaring rule of life,
But in the gospel-throat a bloody knife.