The Gospel of Jesus was certainly a plain doctrine at first, and in general readily and easily understood by those who heard it.
No one can doubt this who reads the accounts how and to whom it was preached by Jesus. Indeed, it is hard to believe that in a revelation of His will, intended for all humanity, the Almighty Being would fail to find a spokesman to speak clearly on his behalf, so that He would be understood by all.
Not that everything is so obvious and upon the surface, to offer itself to us without any thought or labor. It is not the way of the Almighty to easily bestow anything that is good or excellent upon his creatures.
Nor can we understand the Scriptures without taking the necessary pains, attending to the phrases and customs of the times in which our Master preached.
But by this exertion of ourselves, along with a sincere desire to become pious, wise, and good, we cannot fail to succeed. And we shall be let into all the Truth that is needful for our fulfilment.
It is a bad symptom in any person to see them indolently acquiesce in the principles of their faith without examining them, whether well or ill founded, and making their religion a series of thoughtless assents to forms and doctrines to which they have been accustomed, without any serious application to the practice of piety and virtue.
There is more hope for persons living in open vice coming to their right mind and being awakened to see their errors and be reformed, than those people.
There were men of this character from among the Jews and of the heathen world, who were satisfied with themselves that everything taught to them in their youth was right and true, and nothing further needed to be learned. They rejected without inquiry the teachings of Jesus, and to their utmost, they opposed his teachings.
And thus, all spiritual improvement for them was at an end.
Religion, divine truth, the way to please God, is not the objective of life to such persons. What was instilled into them when they were young was to ill-serve them throughout life.
They were always to remain children. But the Gospel exhorts us to a diligent and careful search after truth, and to grow in knowledge and all wisdom.
Not, indeed, to employ ourselves on barren useless speculations, merely to gratify our curiosity; but on such points that relate to a holy life and practice, and are of the utmost consequence to our true happiness.
We are to seek out: What directions God has given for our conduct, by whom it is that He has revealed himself to us, and what assistances He has taught us to look for in the way of our duty. Finally, we seek after what motives and promises God has laid before us to encourage us in it in all circumstances, to strengthen us against dangerous temptations, to calm and moderate our affections, to give comfort under the unavoidable ills and calamities of life, and carry us safely hereafter to some better state.
This is the knowledge to which Jesus invites us in his Gospel, in which we are to make advances, and surely, we would find much more knowledge to attain, if our lives were greatly extended.
A review of our own errors and recovery from them contributes a method to endear the truth to us, and to confirm us in it. In this way, our wise and good Creator give us a method to produce the greatest good out of the errors and mistakes into which we have fallen.
And although we may at times be involved in darkness and perplexity, and our progress will not always be as rapid and continual as we could wish; yet by an honest, persevering diligence we shall get further into the daylight, and see our way clearer before us. We shall discern greater tokens of divine wisdom in the words of Jesus.
And then we shall find fresh motives and encouragements to our duty, and be more and more animated in our task to overcome the world, and every obstacle that would divert us from the love of God and the obedience we owe to Him.
(Adapted from the sermons of Rev. Theophilus Lindsey, 1810)