I can well imagine an honest youth thus reasoning with himself: “If I make up my mind to be a Christian, shall I be required to part with all I possess? It must have been comparatively easy in those times to give up the kind of things they had! If I had been he, I am sure I should have done it—at the demand of the Savior in person. But I do not love money as he was in danger of doing. I try to do good with my money! If everyone with a conscience had to give up all, the world would go to the devil! Besides, he said, ‘If thou wouldst be perfect, go, sell that thou hast.’ I cannot be perfect; it is hopeless; and he does not expect it.”
It would be more honest if the youth said, “I do not want to be perfect; I am content to be saved.” Such as he little think that perfection is salvation. I will suppose myself in conversation with such a youth. I should little care to set forth anything called truth, except in siege for surrender to the law of liberty. If I cannot persuade, I would be silent. I would not labor to instruct the keenest intellect; I would rather learn for myself. To persuade the heart, the will, the action, is alone worth the full energy of a man. His strength is first for his own, then for his neighbor’s manhood. He must first pluck out the beam from his own eye, then the mote out of his brother’s—if indeed it be more than the projection of the beam in his own. To make a man happy as a lark might be to do him grievous wrong; to make a man wake, rise, look up, and turn, is worth the life and death of the Son of the Eternal.