Particular attention ought to be paid to backsliders. For in bringing backsliders into the Church there is as much honor to God as in bringing in sinners. “Brethren, if any of you do err from the Truth, and one convert him.” Alas! the poor backslider is often the most forgotten. A member of the church has disgraced his profession, the church excommunicated him and he was accounted “a heathen man and a publican.”
I know of men of good standing in the Gospel ministry who, ten years ago, fell into sin. And that is thrown in our teeth to this very day. Do you speak of them? You are at once informed, “Why, ten years ago they did so-and-so.” Brethren, Christian men ought to be ashamed of themselves for taking notice of such things so long afterwards. True, we may use more caution in our dealings. But to reproach a fallen Brother for what he did so long ago is contrary to the spirit of John, who went after Peter three days after he had denied his Master with oaths and curses.
Nowadays it is the fashion, if a man falls, to have nothing to do with him. Men say, “he is a bad fellow, we will not go after him.” Beloved, suppose he is the worst—is not that the reason why you should go most after him? Suppose he never was a child of God—suppose he never knew the Truth—is not that the greater reason why you should go after him? I do not understand
your mawkish modesty, your excessive pride that won’t let you after the chief of sinners. The worse the case, the more is the reason why we should go.
But suppose the man is a child of God and you have cast him off—remember, he is your Brother. He is one with Christ as much as you are. He is justified, he has the same righteousness that you have. And if, when he has sinned, you despise him, then you despise his Master. Take heed! You yourself may be tempted and may one day fall. Like David, you may walk on the top of your house rather too high and you may see something which shall bring you to sin. Then what will you say, if the Brethren pass you by with a sneer and take no notice of you?
Oh, if we have one backslider connected with our Church, let us take special care of him. Don’t deal harshly with him. Remember you would have been a backslider, too, if it were not for the grace of God. I advise you, whenever you see professors living in sin to be very shy of them. But if after a time you see any sign of repentance, or if you do not, go and seek out the lost sheep of the house of Israel. For remember that if one of you do err from the Truth, and one convert him, let him remember, that “he who converts the sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”