I hope that I need not say to you, dear friends, 'Keep yourselves from all sorts of visible idols', for I trust that you abhor them as much as I do. Yet, in this present age, idol temples are being set up almost everywhere by our ritualistic clergy, and a form of idolatry that is on a par with the fetishism of ignorant Africans has come back to this land, for they make a god out of a bit of bread, and after worshipping their idol, eat it up, - a process which can only be fitly described in such sarcasm as Elijah would have poured upon it if he could have stood in the midst of these modern priests of Baal as he stood amongst their prototypes of old.
Keep yourselves, beloved, from all their idols; pay no reverence to them, nor to their so-called 'priests'. It is strange that now, when men have open Bibles, and can read them, there should come back to us the old idolatry which our fathers abhorred, and which, even in the days of dim religious light, their ancestors could not endure.
Do not you endure it for a moment, but make your protest against it every day, in the most earnest possible manner, and let the cry ring out to any Christians who are mingled with the idolaters, 'Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing'.
God will surely punish this land, and every other land where these, or any other idols, are set up.
Keep Yourself from To-day's Idols
I would say to you, beloved, in closing my observations upon this point, - in the matter of your faith, be sure to keep yourselves from the idol of the hour.
Some of us have lived long enough to see the world's idols altered any number of times. Just now, in some professedly Christian churches, the idol is 'intellectualism', 'culture', ' modern thought'. Whatever name it bears, it has no right to be in a Christian church, for it believes very little that appertains to Christ.
Now, I have some respect for a downright honest infidel like Voltaire or Tom Paine, but I have none for the man who goes to College to be trained for the Christian ministry, then claims to be free to doubt the Deity of Christ, the need of conversion, the punishment of the wicked, and other truths that seem to me to be essential to a full proclamation of the gospel of Christ.
Such a man must have strange views of honesty; and so has the minister who goes into a pulpit, and addresses people when he knows that he does not believe any of the doctrines that are dearer to them than their own lives; yet the moment he is called to account for his unbelief he cries out 'Persecution! Persecution! Bigotry! Bigotry!'
A burglar, if I found him outside my bedroom door, and held him till a policeman came, might consider me to be very bigoted, because I did not care to have my property stolen by him, and because I interfered with his liberty. So, in like manner, I am called bigoted because I will not allow a man to come and assail, from my own pulpit, the truths which are dearer to me than my life. I am quite willing to give that man liberty to go and publish his views somewhere else, and at his own expense; but it shall not be done at my expense, nor in the midst of a congregation gathered by me for the worship of God, and the proclamation of the truth as it is revealed in the Scriptures.
Keep yourself from this idol of the times, for it is the precursor of death to any church that gives it admittance.
Unitarianism, to which this so-called liberality of thought always goes, is a religion of a parasitical kind, it flourishes by feeding upon the life of other churches, just as the ivy clings to the oak, and sucks the life out of it. Let us tear this ivy down wherever we find it beginning its deadly work.
Believe me, my brethren, that the Church of Christ, if not the world, shall yet learn that the highest culture is a heart that is cultivated by divine grace, that the truest science is the science of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, and that the greatest thought and the deepest of all metaphysics are found at the foot of the Cross, and that the man who will keep on simply and earnestly preaching the old-fashioned gospel, and the people who will stand fast in the old paths, are they who will most certainly win the victory.
When those who are sailing in a frail bark, which they or their fellow-sinners have constructed, without a rudder, and without a pilot at the helm, shall drift away and be dashed to pieces upon the rocks; they who trust in the Lord, and have Him as their Pilot, shall be kept clear of the rocks on which others have made shipwreck, and shall be safely steered into the haven of peace, and there be at rest for ever.