Some General Heads of the Causes why the LORD contends with the Land, agreed upon (after seeking of the LORD) by the Commission of the GENERAL ASSEMBLY 1650, with the advice of divers Ministers from several parts of the Kingdom, met at Edinburgh, October 1651, so far as for the present they could attain light therein, which they offer and advise to be made use of by all the LORD’s People in the Land, leaving place to add, as the Lord shall make further discoveries hereafter of the guiltiness of the Land, and intending more fully and particularly to enlarge this Paper.
We have not been men of prayer. The spirit of prayer has slumbered among us. The closet has been too little frequented and delighted in. We have allowed business, study or active labor to interfere with our closet hours. A feverish atmosphere has found its way into our closet, disturbing the sweet calm of its blessed solitude. Sleep, company, idle visiting, foolish talking and jesting, idle reading, unprofitable occupations, engross time that might have been redeemed for prayer. Why is there so little concern to get time to pray? Why is there so much speaking, yet so little prayer? Why is there so much running to and fro, yet so little prayer? Why so much bustle and business, yet so little prayer?
But suddenly it was impressed with power on my mind, that all these evils were brought upon me for my sin: and that I neither knew, feared, loved, nor served, God as I ought to do, and therefore had brought these trials on myself; and that it was a great mercy God did not take me instead of the infant. This impression was attended with an uncommon flow of contrition: insomuch that I was, at times, overwhelmed with a sorrowful spirit; and so dissolved into meekness, that I went weeping and mourning all the day long, until “my soul was as a weaned child.” William Huntington (1745-1813)
The entreating and beseeching importunity which was employed by the apostle—and which is found to be no less necessary for us—presupposes on the part of its objects, a reluctance to come into a state of reconciliation with God, which must be assailed by the force of vehement persuasion. Although we have to treat with a revolted world, a world engaged in mad conflict with Omnipotence—yet if the guilty rebels were weary of their hostilities, and in utter hopelessness of success, were prepared on the first offer of mercy to throw down their arms, and in the spirit of contrition sue for pardon—ours would be an easy mission, and we might spare ourselves the trouble of earnestness and admonition. But the very reverse is the case.
There are two things which those who, after a long profession of the
gospel, are entering into the confines of eternity do long for and desire. The one is, that all their breaches may be repaired, their decays recovered, their backsliding healed; for unto these things they have been less or more obnoxious in the course of their walking before God. The other is, that they may have fresh springs of spiritual life, and vigorous acting of all divine graces, in spiritual-mindedness, holiness, and fruitfulness, unto the praise of God, the honor of the gospel, and the increase of their own peace
This chapter is, “The work of the renovation of our affections — How differenced from any other impression on or change wrought in them, and howit is evidenced so to be — The first instance, in the universality accompanying of affections spiritually renewed — The order of the exercise of our affections with respect unto their objects.” It also includes a reading from William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armor, and answer to a mourning Christian who doesn’t feel that God is answering his prayers for grace and strength to fight his corruptions and indwelling sin.
It is by the mixture of counterfeit religion with true, not discerned and distinguished, that the devil has had his greatest advantage against the cause and kingdom of Christ. It is plainly by this means, principally, that he has prevailed against all revivals of religion, since the first founding of the christian church.
It is time to be alarmed! It is time to tremble for the church of Christ! While the enemy is thus coming in like a flood, must not the Spirit of the Lord “lift up a standard against him” (Isa. 59:19)? How can it be expected that sinners will hearken to the voice of the Son of God when saints will not hearken? How can we hope that the world will regard what the church will not regard (Amos 6:12)? How few will be brought to the saving knowledge of Jesus unless the Lord revive the languid graces of His own people and pour out His Spirit upon His enemies?
But perhaps it may be said, ‘I believe this, but I do not find peace in my conscience.’ Nay, but you do not believe it: if you did, it would certainly bring present relief; for guilt comes from the broken law, and from the apprehension of punishment deserved : but the law has been restored to its dignity, and made infinitely honorable by the righteousness of Jesus—how can you believe this, and yet be under guilt? The punishment was laid upon Jesus, and he suffered all that was due to his people, as their atoning sacrifice—how can you believe this, and yet fear that justice will punish you? A debtor would not fear to be arrested, if his surety had paid the sum, and got him a full discharge. A felon, with the king’s pardon in his pocket, would dishonor it greatly, if he was to live in continual dread and terror of suffering for his crime. Examine carefully, and pray for the right understanding of your case: and depend upon it, you will find that either you do not believe the matter of fact, or the record concerning it.
These three podcasts examine in detail the charge that the Puritans taught that a person who is under awakening must prepare himself, or go through a necessary time of conviction of sin before he is ready to come to Christ. Puritans and Preparationism 1 of 3
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