Several of the awakened told me, that they were brought to a concern about their souls by such a reasoning as this within themselves:—These people under so much distress are far from being so great sinners as I have been and am: how stupid and hard-hearted then am I who am altogether unconcerned. And if they are afraid of the wrath of God, I have far greater reason to be so. There appeared to me nothing more unreasonable in making use of the example of the distressed, to make other secure sinners afraid of sin and the wrath of God than there is in the law
punishing crimes publicly to make others afraid to commit them. I was also convinced that it was sinful in me to wish or desire that the infinitely wise and sovereign Lord should order his own work in another way than what pleased himself. There were also some brethren who did not think the way 1 had taken, to remove the distressed, to be the best: and therefore, after some weeks’ trial, I altered it: I am now of opinion, after all, that I have seen and experienced relating to this work, that it is best to leave the distressed to their liberty, and in the congregation, if they incline, until it be dismissed. No means that Providence puts in our hands is to be omitted that hath a tendency to awaken secure sinners.
This act is put forth with much difficulty and struggling. It is a hard matter to bring Christ and the soul together. There is a great deal of struggle ere we can cast our souls upon Christ. We must reason with our own fears, plead and dispute with ourselves and with God, and cry long and loud many times at the throne of grace. As when the prodigal began to be in want, then he deliberates with himself—In my father’s house there is bread enough and to spare. The case of a soul in coming to Christ is much like the case of Peter in coming to Christ upon the waves: Mat. xiv. 28-30, Peter, when he saw Christ, he acknowledged him for his lord and saviour ‘Peter said unto him. Lord, if it be thou, bid me to come on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked upon the water to go to Jesus; but when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.’ Peter left his ship, and resolved to venture on Christ’s call; but he found difficulty. So it is in our coming to Christ, when by an undoubted assent to the truth of the word we are convinced in con science that Christ is the alone saviour, that he is a rock for shelter in the midst of waves; by the impulses of grace the soul begins to make out to Christ. Christ saith, Come, come, and the soul is even overwhelmed with the tempests of wrath and waves of divine displeasure; therefore we had need encourage our hearts in God, and cry, Lord, arise and save us.
It is the Lord, that has the absolute Right to us, and all that we have; more than we have to ourselves, or anything that we enjoy. It is the Lord, that hath the absolute Authority over us, to do with us what He will; you have not so much authority over a Worm under your feet, as God hath over you, and over all your Comforts; you have not so much right to kill a Fly, as the Lord hath to take away your Lives: He hath more Right a thousand times over your Lives, Family, Comforts, and all you have, than you have over the meanest Creature, He hath the absolute Right over you all.
There is no service wherein Christians have such a near and familiar intercourse with God, as in this of private prayer: neither is there any service wherein. God doth more delight to make known his truth and faithfulness, grace, goodness, mercy and bounty, his beauty, and glory to poor souls, than this of private prayer. Luther professeth, ” That he profited more in the knowledge of the scripture by private prayer. in a short time, then he did by study in a longer space.” As John, by weeping in private got the sealed book opened. Private prayer crowns God with the honor and the glory that is due to his name, and God crowns private prayer with a discovery of those blessed and weighty. truths to his servants, that are a sealed book to others. Certainly, the soul usually enjoys most communion with God in secret.
From the book, England’s Duty, or Christ Knocking at the Door of Sinner’s Hearts.
That all hearts are naturally shut and made fast against Christ, is a sad but certain truth; we read, John 1:11, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” He came unto his own people, from whose stock he sprung—a people to whom he had been prefigured in all thesacrifices and types of the law, and who might in him clearly discern”the accomplishment of them all. His doctrines and his miracles plainly told them who he was, and whence he came ; yet few discerned and received him as the Son of God. Christ found the doors of men’s hearts generally shut against him, save only a few whose hearts were opened by the almighty power of God, in the way of faith. John 1:12.
If we rise to the survey of the world—if ascending the lofty eminence which is occupied by the genius of history, we review the annals of our race; or setting out with the traveler, we bring the eye of observation to bear on the existing condition of mankind—what a mournful picture is presented to the reflecting mind! Over by far the larger portion of that wide expanse, what does either the past or the present exhibit, but” darkness covering the earth and gross darkness the people”? Millions upon millions of our fellow-creatures, possessed of the same rational, moral, and immortal nature with ourselves, sunk to the level of the beasts that perish; ignorant alike of their origin and of their end—”changing the glory of the incorruptible Jehovah into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds and four-footed beasts and creeping things.”
“It is transporting and astonishing, that after all the great and horrid provocations we have given the Most-High in this church and land, by growing deism and infidelity, carnality and profanity, formality and hypocrisy, our bitter envyings and unreasonable divisions, but most of all by a general rejecting of the blessed Son of God by unbelief, and using gospel ordinances contentedly without feeling the power of them, the Lord hath been so far from utterly forsaking us, and making our country desolate by some destroying judgment, that he is in ” wrath remembering mercy,” and beginning manifestly to revive his work, and help us in such a situation as was become hopeless and helpless by any human possible means.”
There may be a very remarkable external change from vile and blasphemous opinions, idolatrous and profane practices, to a profession of truth and suitableness of the outward conversation to it, where there is no saving or inward change made of the heart, from the love of secret lusts to the love of Christ and His grace; the one without the other may be occasioned by the power of example, the majesty and clearness of truth, which is in nothing contrary to nature’s light, the beauty of holiness shining in the conversation of professors, and outward advantages which sometimes may attend the profession of truth and holiness: for these here who were yet given to the lusts of their flesh and much wantonness had once clean escaped from the blasphemous opinion and profane and idolatrous practices of those without the church, who are here called “them that live in error.”
Recording 1 of 2 on 2 Peter 2 A judicious and gracious Scotch commentary, after the style of Dickson and Hutcheson.’ – Spurgeon
Even those who are destitute of the saving knowledge of Christ, and strangers to the mortification of heart pollutions, may find so much power in the knowledge of Him as to make them cleanse their external conversation. The knowledge of Christ is so ravishing a subject, able to divert even an unrenewed mind from many sinful speculations, that even a hypocrite, living in love with his secret lusts, may escape the pollutions that are breaking forth in the world, through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, [a.] They who have not attained to a heart-outcast with sin and some inward mortification thereof, will , upon fit occasions and temptations, be readily ensnared again and made slaves to these same sins which were externally reformed, and from the outward acts whereof only they had made an escape : for these here spoken of, having only escaped the pollutions that are in the world through the knowledge of Christ, are again entangled and overcome.
Oh what groaning should the new creature be in, till it be delivered from this bondage! See then to thyself, and examine all things that pass through thy soul more narrowly and exactly. It may be thy imagination is the cause of all thy religion, of all thy opinions. It may be it is not faith but fancy. It may be it is not conscience, but imagination that instigates you.
Alas, marvel not at it, these serpents and toads were a long while
breeding in the imagination. The pleasure or profit of such a sin was often
fancied before. It was again and again committed in thy thoughts before it
was expressed in thy life, so that a man can never live unblameably in his
life that doth not keep his imagination pure and clean. Hence you have so
often evil thoughts complained of as the root of all bitterness, Jer. 4:14.
“How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?” Mat. 15:19. “Out
of the heart proceed evil thoughts.” As exhalations and vapors ascending
from the earth, which are scarce perceptible, yet at last are congealed into
thick and dismal clouds, so those sins which while in the thoughts and
imagination were scarce taken notice of, do at last grow into soul and
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