The doctrine of the day of judgment, in which men are taught that Christ will come with glory, majesty and mighty power on the clouds of heaven to judge the quick and dead, and that all, both small and great, must stand before him to give an account, is a very awful and awakening doctrine, tending very much to rouse both saints and sinners, and excite to watchfulness and diligence that they may be ready for such a day. But this doctrine has been preached in the world now for many ages, but men see nothing of the accomplishment of it; and many that hear of it are the less moved by it, because they look upon [it] as at a great distance. They hear that there are many things yet to be accomplished in the world before the day of judgment, and they never expect to see it while they live, nor till a great while after they are dead.
From the sermon, “consider whether you do not horribly defile and profane the public prayers and other ordinances. Notwithstanding all your pretenses, and what you seem to hold forth by your attendance on them, do you not all the while live in known wickedness against God? For all your pretenses of respect to God, of humiliation for sin, and desires to avoid it, have you not come directly from the allowed practice of known sin to God’s ordinances, and did not at all repent of what you had done, nor at all sorry for it at the very time when you stood before God, making these pretenses, and even had no design of reformation, but intended to return to the same practice again after your departure from the presence of God?”
The full title of this adult Sunday School lesson is Temporary and the Twofold Working of the Spirit. The Twofold working of the Spirit is the title of a chapter in A W Pink’s commentary on Hebrews where he details the work of the Holy Spirit upon the non-elect. It is also called “The Common Influences of the Holy Spirit. An examination of Thomas Goodwin’s treatise from Works Volume 6 “The Holy Spirit and the Temporary Believer” is also opened up with a story in this lesson also from Davis W Clark’s Deathbed Scenes, 1851 The Apostate.
IT has often occurred to me as something wonderful, that, amongst the vast variety of books, which are to be met with, on the important subject of Religion, there should still be wanted a manual for the information and direction of the Minister in his daily intercourse with sick persons and other members of his flock. There are indeed plenty of excellent theoretical treatises upon this branch of the Minister’s duty; and much also might be learnt from the biography of Clergymen, who have been eminently active in their parochial labours.
There was too little discrimination between true and false religious feeling. There was too much encouragement given to outcries, faintings, and bodily agitations, as probable evidence of the presence and power of God. There was, in many, too much reliance on impulses, visions, and the pretended power of discerning spirits. There was a great deal of consciousness, and of a sinful disregard of ecclesiastical order. The disastrous effects of these evils, the rapid spread of false religion, the dishonour and decline of true piety, the prevalence of erroneous doctrines, the division of congregations, the alienation of Christians, and the long period of subsequent deadness in the church, stand up as a solemn warning to Christians, and especially to Christian ministers in all times to come.”
By trouble and distress, and by a sense of a heavy load of guilt, God brings men down into the dust. God brings souls thus into the wilderness to show them their own helplessness, to let them see that they have nothing to which they can turn for help, to make them sensible that they are not rich and increased with goods, but wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked; to show them that they are utterly undone and ruined, to make them sensible of their exceeding wickedness, and to bring them to be sensible how justly God might cast them off forever.
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.