You see multitudes lying in a deep sleep in sin all around us! You see them eager in the pursuits of the vanities of time—but stupidly unconcerned about the important realities of the eternal world just before them! So few are concerned what shall become of them—when all their connections with earth and flesh must be broken, and they must take their flight into strange, unknown regions! So few lamenting their sins! So few crying for mercy and a new heart! So few flying to Jesus, or even sensible of the importance of a Mediator, in a religion for sinners!
From Pastoral Theology:
How is it possible to preach of the awful realities of heaven and hell, of the soul and the everlasting ages, and of the death of Christ for the salvation of the lost, without the deepest emotion? Hell is a terrible reality. The prospect of its unutterable anguish, of its eternal torments, is dreadful. Then the thought that all the unconverted are posting on steadily and surely to its woes is appalling. But it might be escaped through the blood of the Son of God, and then would come a heaven of indescribable bliss and everlasting glory. Can we think of these things and not be overwhelmed at the thought? Can we speak of them without our hearts and words burning with the very deepest feeling?”
Today, my mind has been taken up with the words of David, and they seem to describe my experience, “You have shown Your people hard things; You have made us drink the wine of confusion.” Psalm 60:3. I seemed to feel all the effects of this wine — for my head was disordered, my judgment confused, and my legs trembled under me. My wisdom was baffled, my graces were tried, and my spirits were roused. I could not conceive how the present affliction could consist with everlasting love, the precious promises, the relation in which I stand to God, the tenderness of Jesus, the teaching and leading of the Holy Spirit, and what some portions of the Word — lead me to expect. I seemed to be wading in the depths of divine sovereignty, looking for Jehovah’s righteousness, and inquiring how can these things work together for my good? So foolish was I and ignorant, I was as a beast before God.
Marvelous Mercy, as Displayed in the Life and Experience of James Smith
From the Redeemer’s Tears Wept Over Lost Souls. 1686
Therefore no man can certainly know, or ought to conclude, concerning himself or others, as long as they live, that the season of grace is quite over with him. As we can conceive no rule God has set to himself to proceed by, in ordinary cases of this nature; so nor is there any He has set us to judge by, in this case. It is to no purpose, and could be of no use to men, to know so much; therefore it were unreasonable to expect God should have settled and declared any rule, by which they might come by the knowledge of it.
How may one do to offer violence to himself in mortifying the flesh? 1. Withdraw the fuel that may make lust burn. Avoid all temptations. Take heed of that which doth nourish sin. He who would suppress the gout or stone, avoids those meats which are noxious. They who pray that they may not be led into temptation, must not lead themselves into temptation. 2. Fight against fleshly lusts with spiritual weapons: faith and prayer. The best way to combat with sin is, upon our knees.
And they gathered together to Mizpeh, and drew water, and poured it out before the Lord, and fasted on that day, and said there, We have sinned against the Lord. 1 Samuel 7:6
“If those defamed servants of the Lord Jesus Christ, will be a little patient, He will at last give an honorable resurrection to their names that had so much dirt cast upon them. When the names of their envious accusers will either lie buried in oblivion or be mentioned no otherwise than Judas in the Gospel, or Pilate in the Apostle’s Creed. ”
That a single witness should never be admitted to give evidence in a criminal cause, so as that sentence should be passed upon his testimony, v. 15. This law we had before, Num. 35:30, and in this book, ch. 17:6. This was enacted in favour to the prisoner, whose life and honour should not lie at the mercy of a particular person that had a pique against him, and for caution to the accuser not to say that which he could not corroborate by the testimony of another. It is a just shame which this law puts upon mankind as false and not to be trusted; every man is by it suspected:
This discovery of forgiveness in God is great, holy, and mysterious, and which very few on gospel grounds do attain unto.
It is, then, no easy thing to make a discovery of forgiveness to a soul, when the work and employment which conscience, upon unquestionable grounds, challengeth unto itself lies in opposition unto it. Hence is the soul’s great desire to establish its own righteousness,
THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER, AND OF THE SEED by Thomas Taylor (1576-1632)
Those must needs fall off who never received the Word purely, for itself, but for other sinister respects; as either of glory and praise, if they see the profession in credit; or for profit, so long as they may gather with Christ and be gainers by him: they would stand on Mount Tabor with Christ, and while he is in his glory, Oh it is good being here: but are loth to go with him to Mount Calvary. Or they receive it only so far as may stand with their ease, delicacy, and slothfulness, but will put themselves to no hardness at all. Now all these that love themselves better than their Religion, must needs fail when the ends fail that put them on their profession. He that professeth for praise of men, when the world, being inconstant, withdraws her applause, he is gone: God’s Word shall have no further credit with him, than it hath from men.
This is the chapter on the seed that fell among the thorns.
Many men who live in ways which are not agreeable to the rules of God’s Word, yet are not sensible of it. And it is a difficult thing to make them so because the same lust that leads them into that evil way, blinds them in it. — Thus, if a man [lives] a way of malice or envy, the more malice or envy prevails, the more will it blind his understanding to approve of it. The more a man hates his neighbor, the more will he be disposed to think that he has just cause to hate him, and that his neighbor is hateful, and deserves to be hated, and that it is not his duty to love him. So if a man live in any way of lasciviousness, the more his impure lust prevails, the more sweet and pleasant will it make the sin appear, and so the more will he be disposed and prejudiced to think there is no evil in it.