The Oversight of Ourselves
Let us consider what it is to take heed to ourselves. See that the work of saving grace be thoroughly wrought in your own souls. Take heed to yourselves, lest you be void of that saving grace of God which you offer to others, and be strangers to the effectual working of that Gospel which you preach; and lest, while you proclaim to the world the necessity of a Savior, your own hearts should neglect Him, and you should miss of an interest in Him and His saving benefits. Take heed to yourselves, lest you perish, while you call upon others to take heed of perishing. Though there is a promise of shining as the stars, to those “who turn many to righteousness,” that is if they are first turned to it themselves. Their own sincerity in the faith is the condition of their glory though their great ministerial labors may be a condition of the promise of greater glory.
Many have warned others that they come not to that place of torment, while yet they hastened to it themselves: Many a preacher is now in hell, who hath hundreds of times called upon his hearers to escape it. Can any reasonable man imagine that God should save men for offering salvation to others, while they refuse it themselves? Many a tailor goes in rags, that maketh costly clothes for others. Believe it, brethren, God never saved any man for being a preacher, nor because he was an able preacher; but because he was a justified, sanctified man, and consequently faithful in his Master’s work. Take heed, therefore, to yourselves first, that you be that which you persuade others to be, and heartily entertain that Savior whom you offer to them.
Oh what aggravated misery is this, to perish in the midst of plenty!—to famish with the bread of life in our hands, while we offer it to others. If such a wretched man would take my counsel, he would make a stand, and call his heart and life to an account, and fall preaching to himself, before he preach any more to others.