The church, though in this deplorable state, was not aware of its condition, but thought all was going on well; it did not know that it was “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” This is surprising and affecting, and shows, in an alarming view, how far self-deception may be carried, especially in the case of those, who, like the members of the church at Laodicea, are much taken up with the enjoyment of worldly prosperity. Let a professor of religion have his mind much occupied with the cares of business, and his affections much engrossed with the objects of sense, and it is astonishing how ignorant and mistaken he may remain as to the real state of his soul.
In this solemn lesson, the story of the casting out of Ignorance from the gate of heaven is explained. Quotes are given from Jonathan Edwards’s sermon Sinners in Zion Tenderly Warned, John Bunyan’s Barren Fig Tree, or the Downfall of the Fruitless Professor, and Samuel Davies, The Resurrection of the Dead. So as to not leave the hearers in despair, the lesson is finished off with a reading of The Holy War, Emmanuel Addresses the Inhabitants of Mansoul.
The full title of this adult Sunday School lesson is Temporary and the Twofold Working of the Spirit. The Twofold working of the Spirit is the title of a chapter in A W Pink’s commentary on Hebrews where he details the work of the Holy Spirit upon the non-elect. It is also called “The Common Influences of the Holy Spirit. An examination of Thomas Goodwin’s treatise from Works Volume 6 “The Holy Spirit and the Temporary Believer” is also opened up with a story in this lesson also from Davis W Clark’s Deathbed Scenes, 1851 The Apostate.
This sermon was published in the magazine called The National Preacher, for the year 1832. It hardly has its equal, in my humble opinion, for searching the profession and thinking forward to the great sifting on judgment day. “It is not this withering passion alone that will be tested by the gospel. It is adapted to try the hypocrite and all his subterfuges, and all his mental reservations; in all his evasions to escape the simple and decided duties of Christian piety. Every demand of truth or duty brings his character out. The doctrines of the gospel disturb or discuss him. Those solemn and awful, and yet tender truths, which go beyond the coldest moral sentiments, and which speak of the just government of God, of sovereignty, of election, of hell, of holiness, and prayer, trouble him. Those expressions of pure and advanced piety which speak of the higher joys of the Christian and tell of communion with God, disquiet him. Those sentiments which speak of active piety, which call on him for decided zeal in the cause of God, irritate him. Those assaults which religion makes on his corrupted feelings, those reproofs what she administers when he conforms to the world, those denunciations which thunder along his path when he lives just like other men, and is ashamed of the religion which he professes to love, provoke him. His mind is ruffled by the demands of a life of sincere and prayerful piety. So Job asks, respecting the hypocrite, “will he always call upon God?”
Ye men of business and of might, in the high meridian of your
course. What is your life ? Were we to make up an estimate from your daily conversation, from the eagerness of your worldly pursuits, from your extensive plans, and far-reaching expectations,we must suppose you exempted from the common lot of mortality. But no estimate can be more delusive. Strip your life then of these fictitious and imposing circumstances, and what is it but a vapor ? What obstacle does your fine constitution oppose to the ravages of disease ?—to the stroke of death? How many firmer have fallen in a few days, or hours?
A reading from Plumer’s Commentary on Hebrews 3:7-19
God hath no other intention in the removing the gospel, and unchurching a nation, but the utter ruin and destruction of that nation. Other judgments may be medicinal ; this is killing. Other judgments may lance and let out the corrupt matter ; this opens a passage for life, soul, and happiness.
Other judgments are but scourges ; this is a deadly wound. In other judgments, God may continue a Father ; in this, he is no other than an enemy and a destroyer. Other judgments are upon our backs ; but this is in our bowels. Other judgments may be for conversion ; this takes away the means of conversion. The torments of hell are not inflicted for the conversion of the damned, nor the setting of the gospel sun for the conversion of a nation.
The last awful hours of a young gentleman who departed from the principles of Christianity and turned Deist. ‘That there is a God I know because I continually feel the effects of His wrath. That there is a hell I am equally certain having received an earnest of my inheritance there already in my bosom.’ narrated by Thomas Sullivan
Let a soul in such an estate awake and look about him. His enemy is at hand, and he is ready to fall into such a condition as may cost him dear all the days of his life. His present estate is bad enough in itself; but it is an indication of that which is worse that lies at the door. The disciples that were with Christ in the mount had not only a bodily, but a spiritual drowsiness upon them. What says our Savior to them? “Arise; watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.” We know how near one of them was to a bitter hour of temptation, and not watching as he ought, he immediately entered into it.