It is indeed a very arresting and even startling thing to hear it said of our Lord that anything could actually eat Him up. Yes; but look at Him. Go back and look at Him that day in the temple. Think you see Him. Think you stand beside Him. Think who He is, and what is His real errand in this world. And the more you think about Him, and the closer you come up to Him, and the better you see Him, the better will you enter into this startling language concerning Him. Yes; such was the dreadful desecration of His Father’s house that day, that He was simply eaten up with His indignation at it all.
The matter of our prayer respects the depravation of our nature, and our wants on that account. The darkness and ignorance that is in our understandings; our unacquaintedness with heavenly things, and alienation from the life of God thereby; the secret workings of the lusts of the mind under the shade and covert of this darkness; the stubbornness, obstinacy, and perverseness of our wills by nature, with their reluctancies unto and dislike of things spiritual, with innumerable latent guiles thence arising, — all keeping the soul from a due conformity unto the holiness of God, — are things which believers have an especial regard unto in their confessions and supplications.
From the Book, Personal Declension and Revival of Religion in the Soul. “
The spirit of prayer may decline in the believer, and he may not at once be sensible of it. The form and the habit of prayer may for a while continue, the domestic altar sustained, and even the closet occasionally visited; – but the spirit of prayer has evaporated, and all is coldness and dullness, the very torpor and frigidity of death! But of what real worth is the habit of prayer apart from the spirit of prayer? just what this planet would be without the sun, or the body without the living, animating, breathing soul, – what but a cold, lifeless form? Yes; and a believer may be beguiled into this lamentable state, and not a suspicion of its existence be awakened; he may observe his accustomed habit, and use his empty form, and not suspect that all is cold and breathless as death itself.
John Cooke was 43 years the pastor of the Independent Church of Maidenhead, in England. He Lived from 1760-1826. Some of his letters were recently narrated and are on site here.
“The declaration from his (the deist’s) deathbed was “My pride and the fear of being called a Methodist, would not permit me to own what I did believe.” But however formidable the word “Methodist” appeared to him, when amongst his worldly companions, it had no weight on his mind in the near views of eternity. “
Fornicators, — that is, those who are habitually so, always grow profane; and profane persons, of all other sins, are apt to set light by fornication. These things are written with the beams of the sun in the days wherein we live. They are the especial sins whose relinquishment by sincere repentance is most rare. Few fornicators or profane persons do ever come to repentance.
Fornication is a sin, which when men are habitually given up unto, they are never, or very rarely, recovered from it. When any sensual lust hath obtained a habitual predominancy in any, it doth contract so intimate a league with the flesh, as it is hardly eradicated. Such sins do usually keep men secure unto the future judgment,. Hence God, for the punishment of idolatry, gave some up unto uncleanness, through the lusts of their own hearts, Romans 1: 24-26, namely, that by them they might be secured unto that eternal vengeance which they had deserved.
Joseph was a good soldier of that God whom he served. He was far from yielding to the most insinuating and most urgent temptations. “And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her.” He regarded neither her caresses nor her frowns, her threatenings nor her promises. None of her arts could induce him to do that great wickedness to which she solicited him, and to sin against God. If she could have given him all the treasures of Egypt as the price of his virtue, he would have despised them.
Now the soul is oppressed with a weight of clay, and in drowsiness and obscurity; the great things of eternity are of little force to convince the conscience, or persuade the affections But then the soul shall work with the quickest activity; the mind shall, by an irresistible light, take a full view of all afflicting objects: the most stupid and unconcerned sinners shall then see and feel their ruined state; what a glorious felicity they have lost, what a misery they are plunged into, without any possibility of lessening it by false conceits, and receiving any relief by the error of imagination.
The delusion which is spread over the heart is rent asunder on a dying pillow. The flattery of professors, the self-deceit of the heart, the delusions of Satan, all which had buoyed up the soul with empty hopes, vanish into air at the approach of the king of terrors. One flash of eternal fire in the conscience dissolves the dream into which he had been cheated. The sparks of Tophet ordained of old, which “the breath of the Lord like a stream of brimstone does kindle” Isa 30:33, burn up the wood, hay, and stubble accumulated for years. The reality of death, the certainty of eternity, the stern justice of God, the impossibility of escape, the recollection of the past, the terror of the future, the clamor of a guilty conscience, rush in like a flood, and sweep away into despair all the refuge of lies so long sheltered in. Free-will snaps asunder, “as the thread of wax is broken when it touches the fire” Jud 16:9; human merit disappears, “like the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind out of the floor, and as the smoke out of the chimney” Ho 13:3; natural faith withers away “as the streams of brooks when it is hot are consumed out of their place” Job 6:17; and despair swallows up vain hopes, as “drought and heat consume the snow waters.” He who thought that he was a great Christian now finds that he is no Christian at all. He who fondly imagined himself on the road to heaven finds himself suddenly at the gates of hell. And now he learns that these doctrines are true which he either denied or held in unrighteousness. The iron gates of election, the deep impassable gulf of God’s decrees, the bronze bars of that reprobation which lie once disbelieved and fought against, but which is now borne witness to by his gnawing conscience, the irreversible purpose of Jehovah “to have mercy on whom He will have mercy,” and on them alone–all, all shut out hope, and drive the soul down fathoms deep into the agony of despair. “God now laughs at his calamity and mocks when his fear comes” Pr 1:26. He calls upon the Lord, but “He answers him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets” 1Sa 28:6. Thus, “he is brought into desolation as in a moment and is utterly consumed with terrors” Ps 73:19.
Whoso looks on the face of the generation this day, in respect of religion, may behold a lamentable decay in spirituals therein. Great things has God done for us again and again, not only of old, but of late: but alas! amidst all our repeated deliverances, we are like to pine away under spiritual plagues. O that on such solemn occasions we were stirred up to “strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die.”