"And he said unto them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." (Luke 9:23)
SELF-DENIAL, in connection with the Christian religion, seems to be very much misunderstood. For the most part, we limit its meaning too much. We think, for instance, that it consists in voluntarily or involuntarily depriving ourselves of a gratification of sense or appetite, whereas, it has a far deeper and higher meaning. It is quite possible for a man to use self-denial to a great extent in this way, and yet be no follower of the Lord Jesus. Yea, it is possible to use much self-denial, and to be a worshiper of Self. This may seem a paradox to the unthinking, but it is not so.
I would attempt to make this plain by instancing a few cases.
1. Let us take a man that is fond of drink. He refrains from it, experiencing many a pang; and thus uses self-denial, but it may be for the purpose of saving his health, or his life. That man gives no evidence that he is a true Christian!
2. Take a man that is fond of gambling. He refrains from it; and many a hard struggle he has for it; but it may be for the purpose of saving himself from ruin. That man gives no evidence that he is a true Christian!
3. Take a man that is fond of the world. He resolves to separate himself from society, and in so doing experiences much pain. He uses self-denial; but it may be for some sinister purpose: he may want to educate himself; or he may think by so doing he is earning a reward in heaven. That man gives no evidence that he is a true Christian!
4. Take a man that is fond of luxuries. He decides upon excluding them from his table; and many a regret he experiences. That man uses self-denial; but it may be for the purpose of saving his pocket, or mortifying his appetite in hope of pleasing God! But he gives no proof that he is a true Christian!
5. Take a man who is fond of ease. He makes up his mind to shake off his lethargy, and devote himself with zeal to the cause of religion. He uses self-denial; but it may be for the purpose of diverting his attention from painful remembrances, or of working his way into God's good graces. That man gives no evidence that he is a follower of Jesus!
In short, it is perfectly possible for men to use great and extraordinary self-denial, and after all to be no Christians, no true followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is from want of knowing this simple truth that there is such melancholy and fatal delusion amongst monks, friars, nuns, hermits, and ascetics of all sorts. It is from want of knowing this that such multitudes of the protestant community in these days are deceiving themselves by their bodily mortifications. If even it could be proved, that all those works of self-denial, that I have supposed, were done for the honor of God, it might yet be true that the authors were not true Christians; for it is an irrefragable fact that we may sell all our goods to feed the poor, and give our bodies to be burned, and be far, far away from Christ! (1 Cor. 13:3)
The spiritual knowledge or enlightenment of the self-denying party must first be tested, and then the motive for the work, before it can be pronounced scriptural, or unscriptural, of God, or of the devil. I grant that if a man be converted, i.e., born again, regenerated by the Holy Ghost, he will deny himself in all sinful practices; but I distinctly maintain that a man may deny himself in every one of the practices that I have mentioned, and a score of others, and yet come far short of the self-denial which the Lord requires.
We will now go thoroughly into the text.
I. To the spiritually enlightened mind it will at once appear that as SELF includes body, soul and spirit, (1 Thess. 5:23) the denial of this self must extend not only to actions, but to thoughts, ideas, affections, desires, and wills of all sorts. And inasmuch as the soul or spirit is the chief portion of this self, the denial of the soul, or spiritual, or intellectual portion of self must be chiefly required by the Lord. It is certain that it is the denial of the mind, in its highest sense, that Jesus Christ demands; for, independent of other considerations, what sort of a sacrifice would that of a mortified or an emaciated body be to God, if the soul or spirit or intellect were excluded from the offering?
It may be objected that the body cannot be offered to the Lord without the soul or spirit or intellect, for it is the spirit that suggests or urges the sacrifice. To this I reply, It is a notorious fact that many of old did the one without the other. The Jews were commonly in the habit of going to God with their lips whilst their hearts were far from Him; ay, and of offering costly sacrifices, whilst their spirits were clouded with the blackness of darkness!
It may be so, yea, it is so, with thousands of Christians. They afflict their bodies for the good of their souls, and are ready to use the most mortifying forms of self-denial, whilst they fail to walk humbly with God. To make what I mean as clear as possible, I will class the faculties of the soul under four heads:--
The Understanding--The Will--The Affections--and The Imagination. All these must be denied if we would follow Christ. Let us take them in this order.
1. The Understanding of man is very proud and imperious. It thinks it can master everything. The secrets of nature or creation are nothing to it. It can climb into the heavens, or dig unto the bowels of the earth, and pry into all mysteries. It aims to bring the world and all that is therein, under its control, and boasts that the day is not far distant when it will reduce all present troublesome and resisting forces to fixed laws! It is certainly a wondrous and a glorious faculty, but its pride will be its ruin! It has ruined, and is ruining thousands; for these, not content to meddle with creation, are bold, and aspiring, and audacious enough to grapple with The Creator Himself, and to challenge His very Revelation to unfold its mysteries to their acumen!
But all this must be denied if we would be followers of Christ. I do not mean that we are not to use our understanding, or are to surrender it at the bidding of a fellow mortal. No, this would be to abuse the noblest gift we possess, and ultimately lead us into the bondage of priestcraft; but what I mean is, that, in things too high for us, we must deny our own wisdom, we must not be wise in our own eyes, or prudent in our own sight, but must submit ourselves to the teaching of Divine Revelation. In things connected with Revelation we must become as little children, (Matt. 18:3) be teachable, and willing to follow the Lamb into whatsoever mysteries He may be pleased to lead us. It is in this sense especially that the Lord requires us to deny ourselves.
But O, when we apply this requirement to men calling themselves Christians, when we test the great mass of religious professors by it, how does it find them? Why, in actual antagonism with God! It is a patent fact that religious professors in general will not receive this or that revelation, because, forsooth, it is contrary to their notions of right and wrong, because they cannot understand it, because their reason and common sense reject it. Is not this the case? Can such be said to deny themselves, in the highest sense of the term? Surely not! They ignore the Scriptures; for they forget that it is written, "We must become fools that we may be wise:" (1 Cor. 3:18) they forget that if every doctrine and dealing of God were in accordance with their understanding there would be no need of faith: they forget the Lord's own significant words--"I thank Thee, O Father, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." (Matt. 11:25)
I ask again, how does this requirement of self-denial find the opponents of the doctrines of discriminating grace? I mean the doctrines of sovereign election, of particular redemption, of effectual calling, and of the final perseverance of God's adopted family? How does mental, spiritual, intellectual self-denial find the majority of professing Christians?
I answer sadly, solemnly, but unhesitatingly--amongst the enemies of God! Do these deny themselves?
I again beg my readers to remember that self-denial in its highest, chiefest sense, must be in connection with the mind; and I ask them in all kindness, and in all honesty--Is it not a fact that those doctrines and revelations to which I refer, are rejected because of the pride of the understanding?
Ay, say not that it is because Scripture does not warrant these doctrines you do not receive them! They may as readily and as clearly be proved by Holy Writ as any doctrine of Christianity! Do not say that there is an attempt made to hoodwink or cajole your mind! Bring all the mind you possess to examine these questions; summon all your intellectual powers to search, probe, and analyze the evidence for and against these revelations, and if they have not as broad and as firm a basis as some other doctrines received without a murmur, then I will cease to charge men with neglect of the Saviour's requirement!
My readers, rely upon it, until we can deny our understanding in matters of revelation that are too high for us, we are not followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, no matter how high our profession of religion.
2. The Will must be denied as well as the understanding. By which I mean we must not make our will the sole principle of action; we must consult the will of God in all things. You know we are ever praying--
But O, what mockery and hypocrisy are many of us guilty of in presenting this petition! Let me simply paraphrase it. "My Father, I would that Thy will experienced no opposition upon earth, any more than it does in heaven. I would that all men were obedient to Thy will. I pray that I, as a member of the human family, may have my will made subservient to Thy will!"
Do we all pray this prayer with the spirit and the understanding also? Alas! No! If we did, we should be enabled to deny our own wills which are continually clashing with God's will. The living child of God knows this, feels it, and regrets it, and hence the continual necessity for prayer to enable us to deny our wills.
Is it not hard work to deny our will when we are required to do something for God that we do not see the reason for? And is it not harder still to deny our will when we are called upon to suffer something because it is God's will?
O for the spirit of poor old Eli, who under fearful and soul-agonizing circumstances could say--"It is the Lord, let Him do what seemeth Him good."
It is by thus denying our will that we are distinguished from mere moralists or professors; we deny our wills because it is God's will that we should do so (many a time not knowing the whys and wherefores of His will), others deny their own will occasionally, and only when they can see some selfish reason for so doing.
And mark you, this denial of the will by God's living children is not confined to mere sense or appetite (this I hold to be almost always under the control of a regenerated person), but extends to affliction, providences, calls of duty, and desires of the mind in its highest sense. Many a child of God is deeply tried by affliction, mentally and bodily; many by cross providences; many by calls for action unpleasant to his nature; and many a one by ambitious longings. The will is thus severely exercised. It would sometimes burst its trammels; fling off affliction; counteract cross providences; disobey the call of conscience and of God; and give liberty to its intellectual desires; but the Lord steps in and says,
"If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me!"
And then the child of God resumes his appointed journey, and keeps following the footsteps of the flock.
The denial of his will, as well as of his understanding, is the daily cross he has to carry. Heavy it is oftentimes, and is only made light by an abundant outpouring of grace. A life of self-denial is not confined to any time or season, but continues all the year round, and to the close of the years of the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
What a different aspect does the Lord's injunction now bear, as we begin to see it in its true light, and look off from the absurd, carnal, and popish construction put upon it, "deny yourselves in meats, and drinks, in bodily rest and comfort: put on sackcloth, and sandals; lie in the dust, or crawl upon your hands and knees; or make yourselves as uncomfortable as you can, for God's sake!" When all comes to all, I ask, is not this the interpretation practically given to the injunction of the Lord in our text, by our Popish, and Anglican friends? But O, what monstrous nonsense! What infatuated absurdity! What debasing folly! What degrading superstition, and contemptible obliquity of mentalism is this! The very heathen might be ashamed of it! What! To think to please God Almighty in this day of light, and perfection of Revelation, by macerating the body, or torturing the flesh! Whilst the mind, with its high imaginations exalting itself against God, is left untouched and unsubdued! To mar the body, and unfetter the spirit! This is not to deny self-will, but to pamper self-will; for it is to puff up the mind with accursed pride. And the mind is the man!
3. The affections must be denied as well as the understanding and the will. And what a wide scope do these take! Some have their affections fixed on pleasure; some on relatives; some on money; some on honor. But they must be denied in all cases, if we would be followers of Christ. What a hard saying is that of the Lord's--"If any man will come after me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciples." (Luke 14:26)
What! Exclaims some one, hate the father that begot us, and the mother that bare us! Hate the wife of our bosom whom we have pledged ourselves to love! Hate our own offspring, and our nearest and dearest relatives! Hate our very lives! Why this seems monstrous! How can these things be? To whom I answer, Christ is here speaking comparatively, and simply means to convey this lesson,--That if any man loves any person or thing more than he loves Him, that man is not a true follower of His--that man is not a Christian in the real sense of the term--that man is not a regenerated man--that man has not denied himself.
I believe this in my heart. I believe that where Christ is not loved above all, He is not loved at all! Yet, we know from other Scriptures that our natural affections are to be cherished. The Lord Jehovah has commanded us to honor our father and mother; and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Christ spoke in tenderness of His own mother with His last breath. Paul has taught us that he that careth not for his own household is worse than an infidel. (1 Tim. 5:8) So that, as the Scriptures cannot possibly contradict themselves, we must interpret Christ's saying with a qualification. It is that which I have already suggested. The word "hate" here, means love less: and then the passage will read thus--"If any man come after me, and love not his father and mother, and wife and children, etc., less than he loves me, he cannot be my disciple, for he has not denied himself."
The same mode of interpretation must be employed in connection with the passage--"Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:33) If we were to take this passage in its literality, we should cut off all the rich, and the well-to-do, from the kingdom of God, and deprive many Christians of the power to do good to their less fortunate fellow-Christians. But we know we should not be warranted in doing the one; and we should be destroying a providential source of support and comfort to the poor, by doing the other.
The meaning, then, of this saying is--"Whosoever forsaketh not in affection all that he has, and sits not loosely to his riches, and gifts of this life, and is not ready to part with them, if God should require them, he cannot be my disciple, for he has not denied himself.
In short, whosoever denies not his affections when they come in competition with love for Christ, cannot be a true Christian. But let us mark well, that these requirements do not, and cannot, involve us in the necessity of an austere, ascetic, monastic, or unnatural life; for the Lord spoke them to all; and assumed that men fulfilled the duties of their ordinary and several callings. The Lord's Prayer is remarkable upon this point--"I pray not that Thou shouldst take them out of the world; but that Thou shouldst keep them from the evil." (John 17:15)
The Lord knew that His disciples would have to battle daily with the trials, troubles, and temptations of this mortal life, and that these were to be a necessary part of their discipline; and thus He made no provision for a retreat from the world, but prayed that they might be kept from the injurious assaults of evil in it.
The devil has hardly ever invented a more deluding trap for his victims than that of retreats, such as monasteries, nunneries, convents, etc. He found poor men and women filled with carnal notions of self-denial, and self-mortification, and then suggested the idea that these views to be carried out to perfection should develop themselves in total exclusion from the world. The poor blinded victims caught at the suggestion, and hence convents, and cells, monasteries, and morbidness; but the terrible secret was hidden for a time from those ensnared, namely, The devil's power is never so great as in solitude; and, retire where man will, he cannot elude Satan! Thousands of miserable creatures have discovered these fearful truths, and would burst their bolts and bars if they could, but Satan has the leaders in this movement so thoroughly under his sway as to persuade them to believe that self-denial does consist in literal retirement from the world, and in literally forsaking all for Christ's sake!
Is it not a wonder that such people cannot read what is written by Paul? "Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burnt, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing!" (1 Cor. 13:3)
Does my reader begin to see the awfulness of the mistakes that are so commonly influencing parties who pride themselves upon their self-denial? I can have no hesitation in declaring it to be a fact that the very parties who, either actually or pretendingly, most illuse their poor bodies, are amongst the proudest and most self-conceited of mortals; for they are sacrificing to their own net, and their own drag, (Habak. 1:16) and ignoring the God of Revelation.
4. The Imagination must be denied as well as the understanding, the will, and the affections, if we would be followers of Christ. I need hardly remind my readers that the Imagination is a very discursive faculty of the soul. One of its fondest flights is upon the wings of merit, or self-righteousness. One of its most inveterate beliefs is salvation by works. Till this Imagination is subdued or denied, then, there can be no hope whatever for the soul; for the Scriptures are decided and dogmatic upon the point, that salvation is all of grace.
Christ will have no partnership in His work. Christ will be All, or nothing. We are "complete in Him," (Col. 1:10) or we are ruined! We must be "perfect in Jesus," (Col. 1:28) or be lost for ever! Not a scrap, or a shred, or a shadow of merit or work in our salvation can Christ ever recognize but His own! "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." (Rom. 10:3) And we must count all things but loss and refuse, if we would win Christ. (Phil. 3:8)
Such is the testimony of Scripture. Now the Imagination of poor carnal man is directly opposed to this. It takes him off into other regions. It will not suffer man to believe he is so marred and fallen, so wretched and undone, as not to be able to do something towards saving his soul, so it mounts him on its favorite hobby self-righteousness. But listen, self-righteousness will damn every soul that trusts it, for if man denies not himself he cannot be a follower of Christ, and there is no safety out of Christ. Paul's boast was, "not having my own righteousness;" (Phil. 3:9) and Paul's practice was to cast down imaginations, and every high thing that exalted itself against the knowledge of God, and to bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5)
Let me ask, do the professing self-deniers do this? Are they completely subjugated to God and to Christ? Are their imaginations cast down, and their high-flying thoughts about self-power and self-consequence, brought into captivity? Has their great, big, proud, pompous Self (body, soul, and spirit), been brought to the obedience of Christ? Ah, that is a comprehensive expression! "To the obedience of Christ!" What does that mean? The obedience that Christ requires! And what is that? Submission of mind to Christ, as the Author and Finisher of faith--Submission of mind to Christ, as our wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption--Submission of mind to Christ, as the end or perfection of the law for righteousness--Submission of mind to Christ, as the sinner's Substitute, in every sense of that expressive term. (Heb. 12:2; 1 Cor. 1:30; Rom. 10:3; 1 Pet. 2:21)
The imagination must thus be denied if we would be followers of Christ. A very different thing this to the denial of food to our stomachs, or of rest to our limbs, or of sleep to our eyelids! Different in more senses than one, for these last may be done by the most carnal of beings; whilst the first defy the utmost power of the natural man, as he may prove to his own satisfaction by trying the experiment.
II. And now two questions will present themselves to reflecting minds.
1. How is this self-denial to be accomplished?
2. Will not this teaching involve us in a covenant of works?
In reply to the first question, I would distinctly affirm that no man can carry out Scriptural self-denial in a spiritual manner, except he be born again. It is in virtue of the Holy Spirit's life and light that a man is able to do this great work. In other words, When a man is regenerated he is emptied of self--self-will--self-love--self-conceit, and self-righteousness: for he sees that God is everything, and that man is nothing! He then, and not till then, follows Christ with all his heart, and soul, and mind, and strength. Here is the secret.
Ah, this new birth, this being born of the Holy Spirit, this indispensable change by regeneration, how it is misunderstood, or cavilled at, or ridiculed! Professing Christians are here, too, deceived by Satan. Many have got it into their heads that they were necessarily born again at their baptism! They are ever ready to say when spoken to seriously upon this all-important subject--"O, don't talk to us about being born again; we have been born again at our baptism." And this is said, with all confidence, by parties who have never spiritually followed Christ in their lives, and are openly living to the world! This is very lamentable. But though I cannot hope to efface this dreadful delusion from the minds of all whom I should wish to set right in the matter, yet I trust that the few remarks I am about to make upon this point, may be blessed to some.
"Baptismal regeneration," as it is popularly understood, is a doctrine not to be proved by Holy Writ; and no matter what either learned or unlearned men, gifted or ungifted men, may say to the contrary, we defy them all to disprove by Scriptural argument this assertion. It does not signify one jot what "Father" this, or "Father" that, "Saint" this, or "Saint" that, has said or written upon the subject; baptismal regeneration, as it is popularly understood, is not to be found in the Bible.
I know that very many respectable men believe the opposite; but there are very many respectable men who believe to be truth what I believe to be a lie. For instance, there are many highly respectable men who believe there is no God, no devil, no hereafter; And there are other highly respectable men who believe in Unitarianism, Swedenborgianism, Arminianism, Romanism, and scores of other Isms, which others as respectable thoroughly repudiate. So this talk about "learned and respectable men" is just worth nothing at all. Here are, however, a few simple statements that will, I trust, have weight with some.
It is universally conceded by Churchmen that whatever benefits are derivable from Baptism, were equally derivable from Circumcision, for the one has superseded the other. Now if a child be regenerated at Baptism, it must follow a child was regenerated at Circumcision. Saul of Tarsus, then, was regenerated at his circumcision; but was he a regenerated being when he was on his way to Damascus? Of course not! But what became of his regeneration? Did he forfeit it by loose living? Nay, he was one of the most upright and honorable, and religious of men. (Phil. 3:4-6)
"O but he forfeited it for persecuting Christianity."
But he tells us himself that this was the result of his religious conscientiousness (Acts 26:9)--of the very religious training he received from his parents and pastors from the time of his circumcision. Surely, a man cannot forfeit a sacramental benefit through his acting religiously and conscientiously!
What became of Paul's regeneration, I again ask, that regeneration he received at his circumcision?
I answer, he never forfeited it, for he never had it! No. Paul was never a recipient of the new birth until he was arrested in his mad career upon the road to Damascus. Then and there he was born again. Then and there he was converted, and ever after took up his cross daily, and denied himself, following the Lord Jesus!
Again, "Ye will not come unto me," said the Lord to the circumcised [and regenerated?] Pharisees, "that ye might have life" (John 5:40)--Spiritual life, of course; for they already had physical life. Well, these parties had evidently not had spiritual life given to them at their circumcision, or in other words could not have been recipients of the new birth, or could not have been regenerated at their circumcision. "Ah, but they might have been regenerated at their circumcision, and might have lost the benefits of the sacrament by their rejection of Christ."
To this I have two answers.
1. If they had ever been regenerated they would never have rejected Christ.
2. As spiritual life is eternal, everlasting life, it never can be lost! (John 10:28; 3:36)
How now, ye baptismal regenerators? And how now, ye who would have us believe that man may be regenerated today, and in hell tomorrow? Ah, rely upon it, there is terrible delusion in the religious world!
Now to come back. Some one asked--How is all this self-denial to be effected? I answer--By virtue of the Holy Spirit's work in the soul at regeneration. When we are born again, we see our ruin by nature, we see Christ, and value Him, we deny ourselves, and follow Him.
To the second question, namely--If we do thus, shall we not be involved in a covenant of works? I answer--Certainly not; for no man can deny himself, and follow Christ, or follow the precepts of the gospel, till he is saved with an everlasting salvation. The man's soul is regenerated, and consequently saved, first: and, then he begins to follow Christ, denying himself.
It is amazing what wide-spread ignorance is abroad concerning the precepts of Christ, or the precepts of the gospel! According to the impression of most men, and I am sure, according to the teaching of most ministers, we might as well be under the Law as the Gospel. The gospel that was intended to be "glad tidings of great joy" to all who feel, or who have felt the intolerable weight of the law, is made to bear the form of a covenant of works to the poor sinner! And thus is he robbed of that peace which passeth all understanding!
Is it too much to say that the following is the description of "the gospel of the grace of God" which most Christians would give if called upon--namely--"The gospel plan of salvation is that laid down by Christ Himself in His sermon on the mount, and in His other discourses; and which the Apostles have elaborated upon in their several epistles. Let us attend to the precepts therein, and we shall be saved. If we neglect them, we shall be lost!"
I ask, is it too much to say that this is the impression on most minds with regard to the Gospel? I believe there are but few who will dissent.
Well, I here, openly, honestly, fearlessly, and advisedly assert--Whosoever holds this view of the gospel, and is hoping to be saved by his observance of its precepts, is on the high road to perdition! He can never be saved! For this is the Law, and not the Gospel! And it is written--"Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the law to do them." (Gal. 3:10)
If by observance of the precepts of Christ, or of the Apostles, man is to be saved; and by non-observance of them, he is to be lost, then we might as well be under the lightnings and thunderings of Sinai, as under the mild and dulcet teachings of Judea! O, what shocking ignorance is there amongst Christians! And how perilous and hopeless is their state who cannot see in Christ, "the end or perfection of the law!"
My readers, Christ has either done all, and suffered all in your stead, or you can never be saved! Christ has either been your Substitute in meeting, and satisfying all the demands of the law, or you must be lost for ever!
Think not for a moment that this great and glorious Christ ever intended you to deny yourselves, in order that you might be saved; for this, He well knew was an impossibility; but His design in promulgating this precept was to test and prove you and me whether we were "dead in trespasses and sins," or "made alive unto God" by His regenerating power. If we are enabled to deny ourselves, and follow Him, we are born again, we are saved with an everlasting salvation--the work is done for us--and done for ever. If we cannot deny ourselves, and follow Him, we are yet "without hope, and without God in the world!"
I know the cant of religionists at hearing such a gospel as this, is--"O, dangerous--dangerous!" To whom I answer, for the thousandth time--That is not my business. It is God's, who can take care of His own word. I have been sent to preach "the Word;" and preach it I will, God being my helper, whether men will hear or forbear!
What folly is this cry of "danger!" The regenerated people of God cannot take any base advantage of the glorious gospel, for they are "new creatures" (2 Cor. 5:17): and they who will live in sin, have the law hanging over them, which threatens to bring them into judgment sooner or later. (Eccles. 11:9) But I would ask this question of our over-cautious friends. What difference will it make to a hypocrite hereafter, whether we kept him outwardly straight here, through false hope, or terror; or let him have his fling in sin through telling him the truth?
The man that refrains from sin through fear of the consequences by and by, is a hypocrite to the very gates of hell, though he were the most exemplary of characters. The law of the land and the law of God will afford abundant protection against all recklessness or open profanity. Let us not, then, rob God's dear people of the nourishment of the gospel, through fear that dogs will snatch at it.