What shall separate the insincere from the sincere follower of Christ? When the many own Christ with their lips, what shall try and discipline His true servant, and detect the self-deceiver? Difficulties in revelation mainly contribute to this end.
They are stumbling-blocks to proud and unhumbled minds, and were intended to be such. Faith is unassuming, modest, thankful, obedient. It receives with reverence and love whatever God gives, when convinced it is His gift. But when men do not feel rightly their need of His redeeming mercy, their lost condition and their inward sinfulness, when, in fact, they do not seek Christ in good earnest, in order to gain something, and do something, but as a matter of curiosity, or speculation, or form, of course these difficulties will become great objections in the way of their receiving His word simply. And I say these difficulties were intended to be such by Him who “scattereth the proud in the imagination of their hearts.”
St. Peter assures us, that that same corner-stone which is unto them that believe “precious,” is “unto them which be disobedient, a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence,” “whereunto also (he adds) they were appointed.” [1 Pet. ii. 7, 8.] And our Lord’s conduct through His ministry is a continued example of this. He spoke in parables that they might see and hear, yet not understand,—a righteous detection of insincerity; whereas the same difficulties and obscurities, which offended irreligious men, would but lead the humble and meek to seek for more light, for information as far as it was to be obtained, and for resignation and contentedness, where it was not given.