24 MARCH (PREACHED 21 MARCH 1773)
Speaking from experience
‘Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.’ 1 Timothy 1:16
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: Acts 26:4–18
I speak not from books but experience:
(i) of the folly of self-righteousness. Before I became so exceedingly wicked, I laboured long to obtain salvation by the works of the law. I read the Scripture much, got much of it by heart, spent many hours in a day in what I called meditation and prayer, abstained from many sins which had hurt my conscience, but all the while sin and self reigned in my heart, and though I named the name of Christ I knew no more of him than a heathen [did]. Satan seeing me thus building upon the sand, suffered me to go on a good while for he knew he could presently shake it all down. And so it proved—so it will always be with self-righteousness.
(ii) of the evil of sin. I cannot doubt but when I speak of the little satisfaction that sinners find in their evil ways, I describe what passes in some of your hearts because I speak from my own. I boasted of liberty, I pretended to pity the poor precise creatures that minded religion, I forced my face to wear a smile, and stifled arguments with a jest, when at the same time my heart was full of madness, rage and misery and I would gladly have changed conditions with a dog or a toad. My life was often insupportable, and nothing but the Lord’s secret overruling power could have kept me from destroying myself. I cannot doubt but it is thus with many who would fain be thought happy by others.
(iii) of the vanity of all excuses. Some may perhaps charge their ruin, possibly their sins, upon the decrees of God. But when you have eternity as full in your view as I then had, your mouth will be stopped as mine then was. I saw I had destroyed myself, and thought it next to impossible that I could escape damnation, if the Lord was wise and just and able to punish.
FOR MEDITATION: But he enabled me to hope against hope. He saved me from the sea by a miracle of providence, and from hell by a miracle of grace, that he might show in me a pattern of his longsuffering. Once a rebel, now a messenger, I come in Christ’s name, as though he did beseech you by me—be ye reconciled to God.
SERMON: 1 TIMOTHY 1:16 [4/4]