James Smith, 1856
"Woe unto those who call evil, good — and good, evil." Isaiah 5:20
Cheap bargains have long been popular in the world, and bargain hunters have always abounded. The command to love our neighbor as ourselves, has been supplanted by the maxim, "Every one for himself." But the principle that hunts for cheap bargains in temporal things, has got into the church, and you hear people say, when urged to attend lo certain duties, "It is not essential, I can go to heaven without that. That will not interfere with my salvation." The spirit of this is, "I intend to get Heaven as cheap as I can, I want a cheap bargain, and, therefore, it is of no use urging me to do anything, unless I like it, or it is essential to my salvation."
I fear the professing church at present swarms with those who are for cheap bargains. If two churches present themselves, the one numerous, wealthy, and popular, the other small, poor, and despised; if the latter were more spiritual, the former would be preferred. Why? "O, the latter would make so many calls on my purse, require more of my time, and demand the employment of all my talents to help to raise or carry it on."
There are two ministers, the one smooth, pleasant, and general; the other plain, pointed, and rousing; the former is preferred. Why? "O, one wants comfort on the Lord's day, after the toils of the week; one does not like that rousing, stirring, very plain mode of address. It is so like faultfinding; it is too personal, and there is an everlasting call to work, work, that one can have no comfort there."
The fact is, such people like cheap bargains. They not only want a salvation all of grace, which, is right; but they want a gospel without precepts, a religious life without duties. They would live to themselves, and for themselves on earth — and then go to Heaven to be regulated by the same principles there. They do not ask, how much can I possibly do, or how many things can I consistently engage in, or how much can I give to the cause of Christ, or what self-denial can I practice, to extend the Redeemer's kingdom? But "how good a bargain can I make? Cannot I go to Heaven without forsaking the world — without imitating Jesus — without crucifying the flesh — without joining a church?" In a word, they mean without honoring Christ, without obeying the gospel, without doing as primitive Christians did.
These lovers of cheap bargains among us are for . . .
giving as little as possible,
doing as little as possible,
suffering as little as possible, and
attending the services of the church as little as possible.
They never deny themselves a trifle, or their appetite a dish, or their flesh a pleasure — purposely to aid God's cause, and comfort the Savior's poor. Not them! And yet it would be considered an insult to tell them so. Friend, beware of a cheap bargain religion!