Taken and adapted from, Sermons and Addresses
Written by John A. Broadus.
For I could wish myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren.
–Romans 9: 3.
Concern for the salvation of others, such as Paul here expresses, must have had some good ground in the nature of things.
Ah! My friends, you cannot tell me that the man who wrote those words thought that everybody was going to be saved at last. He did not! But if he did not believe in divine mercy and divine love; if he did not believe in the salvation that is in Jesus Christ “in the glory and the power of his grace, and his everlasting intercession –then whoever did? He did believe in these. And yet do you think a man could have felt that passionate distress to which he here gives such strong utterance, if he had thought, as so many well-meaning people think now-a-days, that God is so good and merciful, that somehow or other, maybe not at first when they die, but sometime or other, it will be well with everybody at last? Paul did not think so. He could not have thought so. And I venture to say Jesus Christ did not think so. If we are determined that we will cling to certain ideas, because they suit our natural feeling, then I am persuaded we must turn our back upon the authority of the word of God. There must be some ground for such concern as Paul felt. I shrink from telling what it is. I think of the awful terms which the Scriptures themselves sometimes employ, –the images of horror, the words of everlasting fire and I do not wish here and now to speak of them.
But there must be some ground for this passionate concern for men’s salvation which Paul expresses. And if men ought to feel so, and if devout people do feel so with reference to others, then tell me how those others ought to feel as regards themselves? My friends, you who do not care anything about your souls, you must be mad-men and irresponsible, or else you ought to care.
I humbly confess to-day, in behalf of my Christian hearers, that we do not feel on this subject as we ought to feel. It is only now and then that we catch glimpses of the reality. “Life is oft so like a dream, we know not where we are,” and we do not realize things, and so we do not feel the concern we ought to feel. We are wanting in our duty to you in this respect. And yet you do not know how much concern we do feel. Many, many a time have persons who are here to-day, when they found themselves in the presence of those they loved, wanted to say something, their very life has trembled with the desire to say something, and they have shrunk back. May be they were afraid they would meet no sympathy. This may have been true in some cases. And yet, my brethren, I suspect it has sometimes happened that you shrank from speaking when that very one you loved was secretly wishing that you would speak, but from a like shrinking to yours, perhaps from a fear that you would suppose he cared more than he did, or from a strange sensitiveness with regard to the feelings that lie deepest in our hearts, would offer you no encouragement. But I venture to say to such as are not Christians, there are those that do feel a deep yearning, an unutterable concern sometimes for your salvation, and O, my friends, you ought to feel concern for yourselves.
Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: John Albert Broadus (1827–1895) was an American Baptist pastor and professor at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, one of the most famous preachers of his day. Charles Spurgeon deemed Broadus the “greatest of living preachers.” Church historian Albert Henry Newman later said “perhaps the greatest man the Baptists have produced.”