The one who bows to the solemn and searching teaching of God’s Word, the one who there learns the awful wreckage which sin has wrought in the human constitution, the one who sees the exalted standard of holiness which God has set before us, cannot fail to discover what a vile wretch he is. If he is given to behold how far short he falls of attaining to God’s standard; if, in the light of the divine sanctuary, he discovers how little he resembles the Christ of God; then will he find this language most suited to express his godly sorrow. If God reveals to him the coldness of his love, the pride of his heart, the wanderings of his mind, the evil that defiles his godliest acts, he will cry, “O wretched man that I am.”
We ordinarily and naturally lack the ability to raise and extract holy and useful considerations and thoughts from all ordinary occurrences and occasions. But a heart which is sanctified, in whose affections true grace is enkindled, will out of all God’s dealings with him, out of the things he sees and hears, will distil holy and sweet, useful meditations from them.
The premium of three hundred dollars which was awarded to the writer of the Following Essay, was offered by Mr. John Dunlop of Edinburgh, Scot- land* The Judges appointed were, the Reverend Jeremiah Day, D. D. L. L. D. President of Yale Colleqe, the Reverend Edward D. Griffin, D. D* President of Williams Col- lege, and the Reverend Heman Humphrey, D. D. President of Amherst College. The publication of the Essay was delayed some time, for the purpose of receiving the directions of Mr. Dunlop.
Published in 1847…. One of the best commentaries on Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress written.
An examination of the motives of the unregenerate who are said to be “seeking Christ.” From the Freedom of the Will
So you may hence learn the worthlessness of all your pains and endeavors after Christ. When sinners have taken a great deal of pains to get an interest in Christ, they are wont to make a righteousness of it; little considering that at the very time they are taking so much pains, they set nothing at all by Christ for any glory or excellency there is in him; but set him wholly at nought, and seek him out of respect to their own interest. Fourth, hence learn how justly God might forever refuse to give you an interest in Christ. For why should God give you any part or interest in him whom you set at nought, all whose glory and excellency you value not in the least, but rather trample it under your feet. Why should God give you any interest in him whom you so despise? Seeing you despise him, how justly might you be obliged to go without any interest in him! How justly might you be refused any part in that precious stone, whose preciousness you esteem no more than that of the stones of the street! Is God obliged to cast such a pearl before swine who will trample it under their feet? Is God obliged to make you possessors of his infinitely glorious and dear Son, when at the same time you count him not worth the having, for the sake of any worth or excellency that there is in him; but merely because you cannot escape hell without him?
Who almost makes a diligent search into and trial of his heart and ways with respect unto the procuring causes of the displeasure and judgments of God? Generally, when the tokens and evidences of them do most abound, the world is full of outrageous, provoking sins. These visibly proclaim themselves to be the causes of the “coming of the wrath of God on the children of disobedience.” Hence most men are apt to cast the whole reason of present judgments upon them, and to put it wholly from themselves Hence, commonly, there is never less of self-examination than
when it is called for in a peculiar manner.
We can have no greater evidence of a change in us from this state and condition, than a change wrought in the course of our thoughts. A relinquishment of this or that particular sin is not an evidence of a translation from this state; for, as was said, such particular sins proceed from particular lusts and temptations, and are not the immediate universal consequence of that depravation of nature which is equal in all. Such alone
are the vanity and wickedness of the thoughts and imaginations of the heart.
Men may have a multitude of thoughts about the affairs of their callings and the occasions of life, which yet may give no due measure of the inward frame of their hearts. So men whose calling and work it is to study the Scripture, or the things revealed therein, and to preach them unto others, cannot but have many thoughts about spiritual things, and yet may be, and oftentimes are, most remote from being spiritually minded.