Making Religion Popular -- By: Willis J. Beecher

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 068:269 (Jan 1911)
Article: Making Religion Popular
Author: Willis J. Beecher

Making Religion Popular1

Willis J. Beecher, D.D.

“Shall horses run upon a rock? Will one plow there with oxen?” (Amos 6:12, Am. Rev.).

Amos and his hearers had in mind some locality in the mountains where there were acres and acres of bare and rugged rock. That would not be a good field for a chariot race. The horses would go lame, and would develop no speed. There would be no use in putting an ox-team to plow there; for crops would not grow, even if the plowing were possible. Such attempts would not be merely futile; they would result in damage and loss.

The public men of Israel were proposing to save their country by political combinations, while they neglected personal morality and national justice and Jehovah. The prophet tells them that they might as well attempt a chariot race on yonder steep field of rock; or that they might as well attempt to cultivate its surface with ox-teams, and raise crops there. Their attempts will bring loss, and not gain.

One of the omnibuses that run from the Clifton Springs railway station has a large mirror in front. When the omnibus turns the corner you look into the mirror, and you see reflected there the big brick coal market near the station. You seem to be going toward that brick building, but the more you approach it the farther away you are. This experience is typi-

cal of a surprisingly large proportion of our human activities. We seem to ourselves to be going toward some goal while we are really getting farther and farther away from it. In trying to accomplish results we make attempts that defeat their own purpose. We make efforts that turn out to be mere plowing upon a rock.

Once I called upon a sick parishioner. Within reach of his bed was a table with a dozen or more vials and packages upon it. As people came to see him each one recommended some different remedy, and he was trying them all, one after another! He seemed to himself to be making- strenuous efforts in the direction of recovery, but his efforts took him in the opposite direction. He was plowing upon a rock.

The man who is too stingy in his business expenditures is making an effort for riches that defeats itself. So is the man who is foolishly lavish in his business expenditures. Both are plowing the rock.

In our religious activities we are plowing upon a rock, are making effort that foils itself, if we try to drive men to Christ instead of winning them.

In short, here is a generic form of human experience — experience that comes to us in our business, in ...

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