A chapter from the book, Personal Declension and Revival of Religion in the Soul. ”
When God becomes less an object of fervent desire, holy delight, and frequent contemplation, we may suspect a declension of Divine love in the soul. Our spiritual views of God, and our spiritual and constant delight in him, will be materially affected by the state of our spiritual love. If there is coldness in the affections, if the mind grows earthly, carnal, and selfish, dark and gloomy shadows will gather round the character and the glory of God.
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.
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.
The book, The Church in Earnest, was a followup book to An Earnest Ministry. It was published in 1850. This chapter is the first part of his exhortations to the churches in Revelation through Thyatira.
Souls are wont to be brought into trouble before God bestows true hope and comfort. The corrupt hearts of men naturally incline to stupidity and senselessness before God comes with the awakening influences of his Spirit. They are quiet and secure. They have no true comfort and hope, and yet they are quiet; they are at ease. They are in miserable slavery, and yet seek not a remedy.
It is a part and duty of spiritual wisdom, as also an evidence of a due reverence of God, to take notice of extraordinary occurrences in the dispensations of his providence; for they are instructive warnings, and of great importance in his government of the world. In them the “voice of the Lord crieth unto the city, and the man of wisdom shall see his name.” And there is a mark left on them, — as profligate persons, — who will not see when his hand is so lifted up. An example of this wisdom is given us here in our blessed Saviour, who, on the report that was made unto him of some severe providential accidents, then newly fallen out, gives an exposition of the mind of God in them, with an application of them unto the present duty of them that heard him, and ours therein.
John Colquhoun, former pastor New Church in South Leith, Scotland. Educated at Glasgow University. Shortly after his conversion he walked all the way from Luss to Glasgow, a distance in all of about fifty miles, to buy a copy of Thomas Boston’s Fourfold State. MonergismDOTcom
It is time to be alarmed! It is time to tremble for the church of Christ! While the enemy is thus coming in like a flood, must not the Spirit of the Lord “lift up a standard against him” (Isa. 59:19)? How can it be expected that sinners will hearken to the voice of the Son of God when saints will not hearken? How can we hope that the world will regard what the church will not regard (Amos 6:12)? How few will be brought to the saving knowledge of Jesus unless the Lord revive the languid graces of His own people and pour out His Spirit upon His enemies?
Ministers are set as guides and teachers, and are represented in Scripture as lights set up in the churches, and in the present state meet their people, from time to time, in order to instruct and enlighten them, to correct their mistakes, and to be a voice behind them, when they turn aside to the right hand or the left, saying, “This is the way, walk ye in it;” to evince and confirm the truth by exhibiting the proper evidences of it.