Jul 18, 2011

Compassionate their ignorance, in the recollection of my own - Robert Hawker

...Some modern Writers, in the awful day in which the Church of GOD now is, have ventured, in contradiction to those most plain truths of Scripture, to insinuate, as if the inculcation of such doctrines as salvation by CHRIST alone, were dangerous. They have, indeed, made a violent blow, at all the great articles by which the faith once delivered unto the saints are distinguished. And were those blessed foundation truths within the reach of their arm, they would wish to dig them up, and reduce the whole Gospel to a mere system of morality, and the miserable piety of fallen, sinful creatures. But this is as futile, as throwing snow-balls at the sun. The sovereignty of GOD the FATHER, in his electing love of the Church; the redemption of the Church, by the sole labors, righteousness, and death, of the SON OF GOD; and the final perseverance of the saints, by the graces, influences, and renewing strength, of GOD the HOLY GHOST: these soul-supporting doctrines, are not in danger of suffering harm, much less of annihilation, by an arm of flesh, or all the powers of darkness. They have stood all the ravages of time, and all the revolutions of empires; and must stand, though all the time-state of the Church, like the divine Author of our holy faith, the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever.

But, is the Reader astonished at the attack made on those fundamental articles of the faith which was once delivered unto the saints? So am not I. We are taught to expect it, and especially in the last times. 1 Timothy 4:1. Paul told the Church at Ephesus, that after his departure, not only from without, grievous wolves would enter in among them, not sparing the flock: but, what was more distressing to hear; I know, (said he,) that also of your ownselves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Acts 20:29, 30. And the word of GOD traceth the evil to its source. For, as long as men are unacquainted with the plague of their own heart, their employment in sacred things will give them but a very superficial knowledge, either of their own corruptions before GOD, or of the infinite extent of malignity in sin, which can yield to nothing to do away, but the blood, and righteousness of the LORD JESUS CHRIST. There is in every man by nature, a free-will righteousness, in his very heart. We are all born with it. And so closely is it woven into the very texture of the old Adam-nature of the body, that even after a work of grace hath passed upon the soul of the child of GOD; it lurks still in the flesh, and some taints of it he carries with him, even to his grave. And, in instances where the mere form of godliness appears, in much seeming zeal, without the power by regeneration; there the utmost bitterness will manifest itself, in opposing the doctrines of free grace. Paul felt this to the full, in the days of his unregeneracy; and made a very honest confession of it, when by conversion the LORD led him to see it. I verily thought (said he) with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of JESUS of Nazareth. Acts 26:9.

And if, after mentioning the name, and testimony, of so great an Apostle, the humble writer of this Poor Man's Commentary, may venture to speak of himself, he would, with the deepest self-abasement of spirit say, that many a year did he conceive the same. Indeed, there is scarce a spot of ground, marked by the feet of daring unbelief, and disputation, against GOD'S sovereignty in his election of grace, with the many sweet, and precious blessings, which take their rise from that fountain of everlasting love, and make glad the Church of GOD, but I have trodden. I have gone over the whole of the field of controversy, on these grand points; and, inch by inch, con-tended on the awful side of unbelief, until driven out by the overwhelming testimony of divine truth, brought home to my heart, by the arrows of conviction, from the hand of GOD the HOLY GHOST. I can, therefore, readily enter into a full apprehension of those men's feelings, who contend on that ground, by what my own once were. And under the hope, that He who hath taught me, will teach them; I can, and do, truly pity, and compassionate their ignorance, in the recollection of my own. When GOD the HOLY GHOST shall have brought them into a clearer view of things, on those glorious truths, (as I bless his Majesty, he hath me,) they will look back, as I now do, and stand astonished, which to admire most; the LORD'S forbearance, or man's presumption.

But, in the mean time, as an old man going out of life, it behoves me, having received his testimony, to set to his seal, that GOD is true. John 3:33. I hesitate not to say, therefore, that all such writers, or preachers, if a work of grace from GOD the SPIRIT, is happily began in their heart, (and with all others I have nothing at present to do,) the LORD, for wise and gracious purposes, hath not as yet brought them into a full acquaintance; (as he will at length do,) with, the plague of their own heart. They have been convinced of sin, no doubt; for this is among the first works of GOD the SPIRIT, after regeneration. But they have not fully learnt, as hereafter they will learn, what Paul calls; the old man of sin; and that sin by the commandment, might become exceeding sinful. Romans 7:13. GOD the HOLY GHOST doth by his children, as we for the most part do by our's. In our system of education, we instruct them, as their tender capacities will bear. Here a little, and there a little. When the LORD brought his Israel out of Egypt, he would not lead them through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for GOD said, lest peradventure the people repent, when they see war, and return to Egypt. Exodus 13:17. So is it now, in the LORD'S deliverance of his Israel, from spiritual Egypt. He doth not bring his people all at once acquainted with the depth of sin in their fallen nature, lest they should despond, at the prospect of such a war. But the LORD leads them into this knowledge, as they are enabled to bear it. Hence, those persons to whom I am now alluding, are not, while they so write, or preach, brought into a thorough acquaintance with the plague of their own heart. They have not descended, like the Prophet, into the chambers of imagery, from one degree of information to another, to discover the greater abominations of themselves, and their own corruptions. Ezekiel 8:8-13. They see only, as the poor man did in part, when JESUS first touched his eyes, and beheld men, as trees walking. But, if they are the LORD'S, and He hath began the good work in their souls; they will have their spiritual apprehensions exercised, into larger discoveries, both of their own totally helpless, lost estate, and of the ability in CHRIST alone for salvation. And then, like Paul, they will preach the faith which once they labored to destroy. Some such, I myself have known. And, as it was with the Church in his instance, so hath it been upon those occasions, with me, in their's: I have glorified GOD in them. Galatians 1:23, 24.

Duty-faith Expositions

Free Grace Expositions