Ah, how many tongues, from hearts as hard as stone, pronounce this word! How many tongues as cold as lead in the sight of God, from the death in nature, prate of Jesus Christ! How many of the elect also are but little aware as yet of the hidden, and green, and heavenly life in that Tree of Salvation, Jesus Christ! "In the midst of the street of the city, and on either side of the river, was there the Tree of Life." (Rev. 22:2) O the sweet and balmy sap, vigour, and nourishment there are in that Vine! O the juice of its grapes! O the everlasting sweetness of the smell of the drops pressed out of its richness to those who are delivered from the sour dregs, lees, and deathly rottenness of self-righteousness! O the sweet and pleasant feelings, the exalted delight, the heavenly pleasure, the glow of adoration, worship, and never-to-be-expressed gratitude, love, admiration, and tenderness and affection that there are in the man who is rightly delivered experimentally by the Spirit of God from the law of self-righteousness, toward the Lord Jesus Christ! O the blessed happiness, I say, and anxiously desired love, unspeakable value, and delight-shedding completeness and perfection that there are in Jesus Christ to the eye of hope in a man who is thoroughly in the right way, by the Spirit of God killed experimentally to every shadow of hope from the cursing and damning law of works! For Arminianism and self-righteousness beset and distress the child of God most dreadfully and craftily. The old monster and snake, self-righteousness, puts on the garment of sanctification. It says, "Christ's imputed righteousness will justify you." "But you must be sanctified as well," says self-righteousness. "Sanctification must be wrought in you," self-righteousness says. Thus, by hook or crook, Jesus Christ comes to be turned out of doors by this cursed tiger, self-righteousness. Thus, the poor in spirit are distressed. Thus, the Gospel is slighted. Thus, the old heresy of grace and works is again brought up, and error stalks about, as over a field, in the regenerate soul. And if it were possible, the cursed mixture of part works, part grace, would destroy thus the work of God in our souls.
"That goodly Tree, the Lord Jesus Christ, from Him our fruit is found." He is our Law-fulfiller; He is our sanctification, our holiness, our inward as well as outward holiness imputed! "The king's daughter is all glorious within, as well as her raiment outwardly of wrought gold and of the finest needlework." (Psa. 45:13, 14) "The old leaven of self-righteousness, new christened holiness", as Mr. Romaine says, grows plentifully in these would-be days of false free-grace doctrines. And, alas! such refined Arminianism is very apt to lay hold of the spiritual man too. "The sanctification of the elect in the sight of a most holy God, through the imputation of the inherent holiness, as well as of the active obedience of the immaculate Lamb;" this is denied more or less by swarms of mongrel free-grace mere professors. "We are accepted of God for Christ' sake alone, irrespectively of all renovation in ourselves." A spiritual, and feeling, and experimental faith in Christ's imputed holiness, inwardly and outwardly, to the elect person, does NOT lead to carelessness, licentiousness, presumption, or negligence, as is the case in mere heady professors of these keeps every thing straight.
O the everlasting completeness, perfection, and finished work of salvation that there are in Jesus Christ our God and Saviour to each one of the chosen seed! But it is to be observed that "He sent the multitude away." (Mark 6:45,46) And so He does now; He feeds them with the bread of providence, the bread that perisheth, and then sendeth them away into the next world, where they have one that judgeth them. "Whither I go ye cannot come", says Christ to all the non-elect. Yes, there is a "going," there is a being "made to sit with Christ in heavenly places" as well as earthly. "If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell you of heavenly thing?" The knowing heavenly things breeds heavenly gratitude through the Spirit. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings." Head-knowledge Calvinists and the gross abomination called "Arminianism" are, equally, one as the other, worthless, as regards the least morsel of salvation by Christ. Yes, and there are plenty of false experiences too, as Ahithophel's and Balaam's to wit; plenty of false ones, both parsons and hearers.
But O, what tongue can fully tell the hidden excellencies, the balmy preciousness, and the hidden treasures of divine glory, goodness, and love in Jesus Christ toward the chosen seed! O the sweet and precious sensations of a hope in His mercy, a share in His love, and in being guided constantly by His Spirit! O the sin-mortifying, creature-sanctifying, and moderation-producing blessings produced by the dear Spirit in the soul through a heavenly and true experimental knowledge of Jesus! It is worth a thousand worlds! There is nothing like it! To see one's all in God! To feel one's holiness imputed from Christ on one's sin-sick and self-sick soul! To feel the balmy virtues of Christ's merits in every respect, like the alabaster box of ointment, very precious, anointing one to a spiritual eye-sight and experience of the love, value, and personally-appropriated excellencies of Jesus, through the Spirit, to one's never-dying soul, and even in all the perishing blessings of providence too; it is more than any spiritual bastard ever experienced! It is more than what any "prating fool" shall know. (Prov. 10:8) It is what all our prigs and sprigs of self-made ability in religious writings shall never know. It is more than what any fools (Eccles. 5:4) shall know. "Keep thy feet when thou goest to the house of God, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God; for God hath no pleasure in fools." (Eccles. 5:1, etc.) "Let thy words be few, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools; for they consider not that they do evil." (Eccles. 5) Ah, if men were more ready effectually to hear the Holy Spirit than to write about Jesus Christ, we should not have many writers about Jesus Christ, I tell you. If our writers about Jesus Christ would seek the honour that cometh from God, and not the honour of self and pride, we should have very little writing, I tell you. Were readers Spirit-taught, our numerous writers in books, magazines, and such like, concerning Jesus Christ, I say, these our would-be authors would have but little reward for their pride and ignorance, for no one would read them. "More ready to hear than to give the sacrifice of fools," says Solomon. "If so be that ye have heard Him, and have been taught BY Him, as the truth is in Jesus," says the apostle Paul. That "Him" is Christ teaching by His dear Spirit in the ransomed soul, gifted with supernatural, experimental, and unctuous wisdom, and not merely in the outward Scriptures. Thus, magazines about Christ do very well very often to tear up for lighting candles and such like. I know godly people who only read a piece here and there in a good magazine. They are not at all to be entertained with the paper. wasting scribbling of our natural youngsters, who can, in self-ability, naturally write on religion, just as you can buy a yard of calico in a shop.
All knowledge of Jesus Christ that is not bought in the fire, and plucked, David-like, from the paw of the lion and the bear, is not worth one straw. Talk of Jesus Christ indeed! Why, I would much sooner hear the harmless prating of the jay or the parrot, for it would be much more innocent than to talk of many of our empty, forward, self-wisdomed, self-gifted, and self-made would-be artificers of religion, in regard to that exalted Being, the Lord Jesus Christ. "For if a man thinketh himself something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself." (Gal. 6:3) And what, I pray you, can be worse than deceit, especially self-deceit? "The deceiver and the deceived are both God's and He will recompense both of them with the wages of ungodliness, which is death." And the blessed God will put the whole regiment of volunteer writers, professors, and preachers concerning Jesus Christ to an eternal rout and everlasting confusion with that one word, "Who requireth this at your hands?" "Let thy words be few; for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth." "No man can call Jesus Christ Lord but by the Holy Ghost."
"The works of nature all decay." All knowledge of Jesus Christ that is not like Samson's honey, taken out of the lion which he had slain with his own hands, (not another man's mind) is not worth a chip. But instead of lion-slaying, and plucking the lamb out of the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear, (as David did, and as the spiritual Davids must, who are the men after God's own heart) I say, now-a-days boarding-school misses and tea-table striplings pretend to wage and carry on the desperate wars of Zion by prating, and not by the bloody battles carried on against the spiritual Saul and the Philistines by the heaven-descended David, the Lord Jesus Christ, whose vesture is dipped in blood, and all His raiment red through the same! (Rev. 19:13)
Talk of religion indeed! Yes, you may get a surfeit of it at every street end. "Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit?" said Solomon. Yes; I scarce see any else! And happy is it for a man whose knowledge of Jesus Christ is "death-proof"! Happy is it for that person who is brought to depend on the unction of the Spirit alone, and not on any natural forwardness for speaking of that great and terrible Being, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is King of kings and Lord of lords, the blessed and only Potentate, who only hath immortality, the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the Prince of Life, Heir of all things, and everlasting Maker of all the elect kings and princes through Him. "Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom He hath made princes in all the earth." (Psa 45:16) Dwelling in light which no man hath approached or can approach, yet more mortal-illuminated praters, notwithstanding, are continually approaching with the tongue to this invisible Monarch just described. Paul say a novice is not to preach (I Tim. 3:6); that is, one newly brought to the faith. How much less, then, should empty professors and proud and puffed-up natural youngsters and praters be permitted to say one word concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, "Understanding neither what they speak nor whereof they affirm "doting, strivings about words". For any one not having experience, and pretending to direct people in religion is like a man born stone-blind saying to one on a dark night in a strange place, "I pray you let me show you the way. And any one mumping about experience when he has none, is only like a child's whistle, blown by pride and presumption, or like dragging a child's go-cart full of feathers to mend and keep the blazing fire in on a bitingly frosty day. Or rather may not one say that all knowledge of Jesus Christ which does not stand the shock of death, the roar of hell, get the victory over the yells of devils, awaken the spawn of the carnal mind, and the hatred of the whole non-elect world, is not worth one penny-piece to die with! Many a gilded lamp of talkers and praters about Jesus Christ is clean put out at the hour of death. The horse and rider are overthrown, if not before, in the sea of wrath.
The Gospel Standard, 1838.
By J.K. (John Kay) of Abingdon, England