Flesh-Pleasing Pulpit Opiates
They are a rebellious people, deceptive children, children who donot obey the Lord's instruction. They say to the seers, "Do notsee," and to the prophets, "Do not prophesy the truth to us. Tell us flattering things! Prophesy illusions! Get out of the way! Leave the pathway. Rid us of the Holy One of Israel." Is. 30:9-11
It is a striking fact, that He who was love incarnate; who was mercy's messenger to our lost world; who was named Jesus, because He was to be the Savior of His people; who was the manifestation of God's love to man--delivered, during the course of His personal ministry, more fearful descriptions of Divine justice and the punishment of the wicked, than are to be found in any other part of the Word of God! What can exceed the solemn scene of the parable of the rich man in torments? Hell and destruction are there set openly before us.
No man can fulfill his ministry, therefore, without frequently alluding to the justice of God in the punishment of sin.He must seek to alarm the fears of the unconverted by a representation of the consequences that will follow a state of final impenitence.
Such a subject frequently calls up all the enmity of the carnal mind. To be told, not only that they are sinners--which all will admit in general terms--but that their sins are such as to deserve the wrath of God, such as to expose them to the torments of hell, and such as will infallibly bring them to the bottomless pit--unless they truly repent; to be told again and again that they are hastening to perdition; to have the rod of Divine vengeance shaken over their heads; to have all the dreadful curses of the violated law analyzed, ascertained and announced; to have this done in their hearing, and done frequently; to be made to sit and hear their future eternal doom, and thus to be tormented before their time--is what they cannot, and will not endure! Unable to bear any longer his pointed addresses to the conscience, they will leave his ministry--for the flesh-pleasing pulpit opiates of some flatterer of men's souls, who is too cowardly to trouble the minds, or alarm the consciences of those who love smooth, flattering and delusive preaching.
To be publicly denounced as deserving Divine wrath; to be told that they are sinners to such a degree as to merit the eternal punishment of a holy God; to be reminded that, instead of their fancied good heart, pure nature, and blameless life--they are, in the sight of God, depraved in every faculty and polluted in every part; to be represented as unfit for communion with God here, and for His presence hereafter--all this is so opposed to all their notions, so mortifying to their vain pride, so degrading to their dignity, that they cannot but dislike it. To such a debasement they would not willingly descend; and hence their demand for the teaching of deceit, and the smooth speech of falsehood. What they want is to be flattered into a good opinion of themselves. They hate the doctrine which disturbs their self-delight, and revile the man who attempts to tell them the solemn reality of how vile they are!
(J. A. James, "Dislike to Ministerial Faithfulness Stated and Explained")