O what sorrow-bitten souls are the saints for their want of sorrow. “I mourn, Lord, I lament, I weep; but it is because I cannot mourn or lament as I should: if I could mourn as I ought, I could be comforted; if I could weep, I could rejoice; if I could sigh, I could sing; if I could lament, I could live; I die, I die, my heart dies within me, because I cannot cry; I cry, Lord, but not for sin, but for tears for sin; I cry, Lord, my calamities cry, my bones cry, my soul cries, my sins cry, ‘Lord, for a broken heart,’ and behold, yet I am not broken.
Now from all this, it follows as clear as day that our true sanctification, our true holiness of heart, our true and full and final salvation, all lie in the rectification, the simplification, and the purification of our motives. The corruption and pollution of our hearts—trace all that down to the bottom, and it all lies in our motives: in the selfishness, the unneighbourliness, the unbrotherliness, the ungodliness of our motives. We are all our own motive in all that we do: we are all our own main object and our own chief end. And it is just this that stains and debases so much that we do.”
In this lesson, the conversion of Hopeful is detailed analytically and compared to historical accounts. The question that we aimed to answer is why, sometimes, there is a lengthy awakening involving conviction of sin and self seeking prior to being granted converting grace by the Spirit. What purpose does it serve, why does God often not hear the sinner’s earnest cries for salvation, or answer them at once?
My dear mother's fears respecting my attention to
religions concerns were, alas but too well founded.
Infatuated by the pleasures and amusements which
this place affords, and which took the more powerful
hold on my senses...
Life of Edward Payson
But suddenly it was impressed with power on my mind, that all these evils were brought upon me for my sin: and that I neither knew, feared, loved, nor served, God as I ought to do, and therefore had brought these trials on myself; and that it was a great mercy God did not take me instead of the infant. This impression was attended with an uncommon flow of contrition: insomuch that I was, at times, overwhelmed with a sorrowful spirit; and so dissolved into meekness, that I went weeping and mourning all the day long, until “my soul was as a weaned child.” William Huntington (1745-1813)
He shall cover thee with thy feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust. A wonderful expression! Had it been invented by an uninspired man it would have verged upon blasphemy, for who should dare to apply such words to the Infinite Jehovah? But as he himself authorized, yea, dictated the language, we have here a transcendent condescension, such as it becomes us to admire and adore.
Trouble, danger, disquietment, arguing not only things evil, but a sense in the mind and soul of them, will of themselves put those in whom they are upon seeking relief. Every thing would naturally be at rest. A drowning man needs no exhortation to endeavor his own deliverance and safety; and spiritual troubles will, in like manner, put men on attempts for relief. To seek for no remedy is to be senselessly obdurate, or wretchedly desperate, as Cain and Judas.
Is it nothing unto us that so many nations in the world, where the profession of the gospel and an avowed subjection of soul and conscience unto Jesus Christ did flourish for some ages, are now utterly overrun with Mohammedanism, paganism, and atheism? Do we suppose these things are fallen out by chance, or come to pass by a fatal revolution of affairs, such as all things in this world are obnoxious unto? Did ever any nation or people under heaven lose the gospel as unto its profession, who did not first reject it as unto its power, purity, and obedience? And is not the glory of God, is not the honor of Christ, peculiarly concerned herein?
Ah! such a one was very hopeful for a season; but he fell into ill company, and he is quite lost. Such a one had some good beginning of religion, we were in great expectation of him; but he is fallen into temptation.” And so in other places. “Such a one was useful and humble, adorned the gospel; but now he is so wofully entangled with the world that he is grown all self, hath no sap nor savor. Such a one was humble and zealous; but he is advanced, and hath lost his first love and ways.” Oh! how full is the world, how full is this place, of these woful examples; to say nothing of those innumerable poor creatures who are fallen into temptation by delusions in religion. And is it not time for us to awake before it be too late, — to watch against the first rising of sin, the first attempts of Satan, and all ways whereby he hath made his approaches to us, be they never so harmless in themselves?
It has been said that hers was emphatically “the life, walk, and triumph of faith.” But be it remembered, that this was not the lesson of a day; before such a blessed life could be attained, self must be brought low. The process was a painful one. Many years of darkness were appointed her, during which time she had to wade through deep waters of heart-exercise, while groaning under the bondage of the law. – From the Life – Dedicated to my friend Jeff from Grace Gems who made this author known to me.