The Religion Of The Day
The Gospel Standard
or, Feeble Christian’s Support
To The Editors Of the Gospel Standard.
Dear Sirs, –If you think the following extract of a letter from an affectionate friend worthy a place in your Standard for the truth as it is in Jesus, (a prospectus of which was a day or two ago placed in my hands,) please insert it; but if not, you are at full liberty to commit it to the flames. Yours sincerely, A Poor Sinner. Manchester, July 20, 1835.
My dear Friend,–Among the vast multitude of professors in this our day, how few there are that feel the plague of their own hearts, or that know anything of real and true religion by the teachings of the blessed Spirit of God! But we that profess to have been in any measure so taught, O that it may be our delight to search the Scriptures, and that we may be enabled to pray to the Lord to give us eyes to see, and hearts to understand his word, that it may be as a lamp to our feet, and a light unto our path; and may the Lord direct us in everything we do, or think, or say.
My dear friend, let us come to the word of God, and there we shall find what is said about the professors of our dav. In Romans 10:2,3 Paul, or rather the Holy Ghost by Paul, says, “I bear them record that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge; for they, being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” And again, by 2 Timothy 4:3: “For the time will come when men will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.” As it was in times of old, so it is now. We see many who appear to have a great zeal, and a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof. We are commanded from such to turn away; for they give proof that they have never been enlightened by the Holy Spirit, that they have never been brought in guilty and condemned by the law in their own conscience before God, that they have not felt that they are vile, hell-deserving sinners; therefore, when they come to hear sound doctrine, they are offended. But let them alone, for if the blind lead the blind, will they not both fall into the ditch? Nevertheless, all this is according to the word of God, for “The election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded;” “Ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep; as I said unto you, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me;” Christ is “a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient; whereunto also they were appointed;” “He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart, that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.” And here, my dear friend, we see the solemn sovereignty of God, and it is marvellous in our eyes; but what we know not now, we shall know hereafter.
These people have neither spiritual ears, nor spiritual eyes, nor spiritual understanding; yet we see a many of them that make a great outward profession, and seem to go on in a very easy and comfortable way. And, indeed, well they may; for the devil does not tempt and torment them with his fiery darts, neither are their own lusts a plague to them: they have no fightings and fears within, nor persecutions without; so they go on as smoothly as possible, within and without, and therefore have a great deal to boast of about what they are doing and have done for God. But if the Lord does not stop them here, he will say to them hereafter, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”
My dear friend, let us apply the matter more closely.- Once we were blind, but now we see; we were dead in trespasses and sins, but now we are made alive by the mighty power of God. When I am brought to meditate on these things, I feel astonished that the Lord should ever have brought such a wretch as myself out of nature’s darkness, and passed by others, leaving them to perish in their sins; for I feel that there is nothing in me to recommend me to his favour. O, no; it is all of free, sovereign, unmerited, discriminating grace. I feel that I am a vile, polluted, hell-deserving sinner; and when the blessed Spirit is pleased to lead me out of self, give me a faith’s view of Christ, in all his glorious characters, and enable me to see myself chosen in him before the foundation of the world, it is then I can rejoice in the Lord as my salvation; it is then I am laid low in self-abasement, and can say, “How is it, Lord, that thou manifesteth thyself unto me, and not unto the world?” it is then I can exclaim, “Not unto me, not unto me, but unto thy name, o Lord, be all the glory;” it is then Christ appears to me the chiefest among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely; it is then I feel a little of the sweetness of being on the Mount with Jesus; and O, what sweet and blessed moments these are to my poor tried, tempted, harassed, and perplexed soul!
But, alas! how very short they are, yes, and very seldom too! Then I again return to my old place, and a sad place it is; for there I find nothing but sin and wickedness, evil thoughts, yea, and evil desires too. My Jesus seems to be gone; my confidence and interest in the Lord seem to be the same. Then I sigh, and cry, and pray for him to return, but seem to pray in vain. Sometimes I am so vain as to try to mend myself, and I think I will drive the world, evil imaginations, and evil desires out of my heart. But, alas! the more I strive, the more powerfully they work in me. I then endeavour to fix my thoughts and affections on thing above, but cannot, for I find my evil propensities will still rise up. I then try to forget self altogether, and to read my interest in Christ, but all in vain. Then I run to my Bible, but that appears to condemn me. So that do what I will, I seem to be shut up, and unable to come forth. Then the devil comes with his suggestions, and says, Look at yourself; you are nothing but a mass of sin, and yet you profess to be a child of God. You have never had any true conviction, nor any real manifestation; it’s altogether delusion. Thus I am filled with doubts and fears, and am oft-times ready to conclude that I shall prove to be an hypocrite after all. But now and then the Lord 1s pleased to apply his promises to my soul, which revive and refresh me; therefore, I am not wholly destitute of hope.
May the Lord bless these few words to thy soul, for his name’s sake, and he shall have the glory.