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The Ministers Fault!
A. B. Earle
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TOPIC and SUBTOPIC: Coldness, Because Joy Of Salvation Lacking.

TITLE: The Ministers Fault

An incident in my own experience, some twenty years ago, taught me a lesson I shall never forget. I commenced a series of meetings in a town in New York, with the Congregational and Baptist churches united.

I thought myself fully prepared for the work, and entered into it looking for immediate and large results.

My first aim was to preach so as to lead the churches nearer to Christ. Accordingly I prepared five sermons for Christians, as clear and pointed as I knew how to make them.

The first four had no apparent effect. I wondered at it. The fifth was prepared with a scorpion in the lash; it was a severe one, and the last harsh sermon I have preached, and the last I ever expect to preach; but this too was powerless.

I then went to my closet, and there on my knees asked Jesus what could be the difficulty with those Christians. It did not enter my mind that the trouble could be anywhere else than among them.

I had preached with tears in my eyes, and been anxious to see a revival, and had no thought but that the preacher was in a right state.

But there in my closet God revealed to me my own heart, showing me that the difficulty was with myself, and not with the church; I found myself as cold as those I was trying to benefit. My tears, even in the pulpit, had been like water running from the top of a cake of ice when the warm rays of the sun are falling upon its surface, but which becomes hard and cold again as soon as the sun goes down.

I told the Congregational pastor of what I had discovered, and asked him the condition of his own heart. He frankly confessed that he was in the same state as myself. We prayed together several times.

I felt that I could not live in that state and accomplish much.

Accordingly I went home and shut myself in my room, resolved to spend the night in prayer, if necessary.

Oh, the struggle of that night! Hour after hour I wrestled alone with God. My heart had been full of coldness, and I not aware of it. No wonder the churches had not come up to the work! I renewed and repeatedly gave myself to the Saviour, determined not to let the angel depart until my heart was filled and melted with the love of Jesus.

Towards morning the victory came. The ice was all broken, melted, and carried away; the warmth and glow of my first love filled my heart; the current of feeling was changed and deepened; the joy of salvation was restored.

In the morning I went out, took the unconverted by the hand, and said the same things as on the day previous; but now they were melted to tears over their sin and danger.

I prepared and preached another sermon to the churches --- no lash, nothing harsh about it. They broke down, confessed their own need of a special preparation of heart, and gave themselves anew to the work, which from that hour went forward rapidly and successfully.

Thus I learned the necessity of having my heart filled with the love of Christ, if I would see the salvation of the Lord follow my labors.

Since then I have spoken kindly of ministers who do not see the conversions for which they labor. Yet I am convinced, and more and more every year, that generally the fault is in the ministers own heart, coldness, growing out of the absence of the joy of salvation.

Let me ask any minister that reads this incident, if he has tarried as long in that upper room, as he should.

When he has power with God he will have power with men, to lead them to the Saviour. Nothing he can do will be a substitute for the fullness of Christ's love in his own heart.

A. B. Earle, From: Incidents Usedů In His Meetings, published in 1888.

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