Nov 29, 2010

The first evidences of the renewed life - Robert Hawker

"...What were the secondary means which the Lord in his providence was pleased to employ, it is not so interesting to the reader to be informed of, as to behold their efficacy under grace. It will be sufficient for him to know, that from an ardent pursuit, like that of the generality of the world, of the several objects which attract attention in the circle of life, I found my mind suddenly arrested by matters of an higher nature; and among the first evidences of the renewed life, I discovered two or three leading principles manifesting the mighty change. As for example—from being occupied in an unremitting regard to things temporal, I now found my heart earnest to pursue the things which are eternal—and if at any time the necessary and unavoidable claims of the world broke in upon me, to call off my attention, my heart, like the needle under magnetic influence, which cannot be long diverted from the object of its attraction, soon was turned again to its favorite pursuit. In like manner the troubles of life and the disappointments necessary to the present preliminary state, which in the days of my unregeneracy operated with all their severity, now lost their power, or at least became lessened, in the great anxiety of what might be my situation in the world to come. This, like the ocean, whose boundless bosom takes in all the rivers flowing into it, swallowed up every lesser stream of sorrow; and an awakened concern for the "one thing needful," made me forget every other consideration.

Add to these, I had been exceedingly prodigal of time, while I knew not its value; and have been literally sending out into the streets and lanes of the city to invite passengers to take it off my hands; but when it pleased God to call me by his grace, I found every part of it to be so precious, that, like the fugitive man-slayer hastening to the gate of Refuge, I dreaded every moment lest the adversary should seize me before I had found a sanctuary from his fury. As well as I recollect (and great cause have I to recollect everything connected with a situation so critical) I was in this state of mind when my desires were first awakened to an inquiry after Zion—and the question involuntarily was bursting from the fullness of my heart, "Who will show me any good? Lord, lift up the light of your countenance upon me; and it shall put more gladness in my heart than in the time when corn, and wine, and oil increase!"

Awakened to a concern which I had never before experienced, and called upon continually by a voice from within, which neither the engagements of pleasure nor the clamor of business could wholly stifle, I found myself, insensibly as it were, entered upon the road to Zion, eagerly disposed to ask everyone by the way, "Who will show me any good?" though unconscious at that time what that good meant, or whether there were any means of attaining it."

"[At a later time in the story, the gospel is preached to him and he then writes]... I knew not what to reply, and therefore remained silent. The poor man, bidding me farewell, left me to ruminate on the solemn inquiry, "How should man be just with God?" (Job 9:2.)

I felt the same force of what he said. It was a harsh sound; and the vibration long dwelt upon my ear, "How shall man be just with God?" It followed me to what Job calls the "visions of the night;" (Job 4.) and even then, like the spectre which he saw, the same expostulating voice seemed to cry, "How shall man be just with God?"

The stern demand rang through all the chambers of the conscience, as if a thousand voices had concurred to proclaim the utter impossibility of answering the question in the very moment of proposing it; and as an echo reverberates from broken walls, so the sound of conviction returned from my broken heart. "By the deeds of the law no flesh can be justified in his sight." (Rom. 3:20.)

It is with some degree of grateful recollection that I look back upon this part of my history; and bless God, while I trace his divine hand graciously interposing by the instrumentality of this poor man, to rescue me from the dangerous path of delusion into which I had turned, when seeking justification by the deeds of the law. I can now enter into the participation of David's experience upon a similar occasion, and feel somewhat of that spirit which he felt in the instance of the wife of the Carmelite, when under a deep conviction of that sin-preventing providence, he cried out, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me; and blessed be your advice, and blessed be you." (1 Sam. 25:32.) In like manner I find cause to bless God in the review of this instance as the Author, the poor man as the instrument, and his advice as the means, which the Lord was pleased to commission, for the emancipation of my mind from a self-confidence which, if cherished, must have ultimately ended in my eternal ruin."

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