1. Church people, Ranters, Independents, Papists, General Baptists, Methodists, and Quakers, who believe in free will and that Christ died for all men, will find every thing in this book point blank against them. All these believe that Christ died for all men. Why? Because they have not the Spirit of God to teach them, and to open their understanding aright "to understand the Scriptures." "Ye do err, not knowing" thus "the Scriptures." And as for free will, I glory in being of the opinion of Martin Luther, the champion of the Reformers, who wrote a book in defense of the "Bondage of the Will;" for every non-elect and unregenerate man is in bondage to Satan.
2. It may seem to call for an apology for an obscure person like myself to write his life, as if it savored of pride and presumption; but,
3. I do it much for one reason, to let all that have ever known me know that God has given me "repentance unto life and salvation never to be repented of," and "the faith of God's elect."
4. A doctrine advocated in this book is this, That Christ and the Bible are both called the Word of God. Now, Christ is expressly called a stumbling-block to all but the elect. (Rom. 9:23-33; 1 Pet. 2:8) If follows, consequently, so is the Bible also. Thus, the non-elect are appointed, as Peter, Jude, and others there say, to make all manner of mistakes, blunders, and errors in the Scriptures, as they do concerning Christ. "They stumble at the word, whereunto they were appointed." (1 Pet. 2:8) Thus, all Denominations quarrel over the Bible, and are in endless mazes lost; "to which also they were appointed."
5. See also thus here the marvelous mercy of God, (for so it is,) that I, when a youth, was brought, as all the elect are, sooner or later, to cry to God, "Open thou my understanding to understand the Scriptures" and "thy truth."
6. Thus I derive as an inference spiritually, and know it to be so experimentally, that all the elect are brought to pray their "Father" (for God is not the Father of the non-elect, (Rom. 9:8; John 8:44) to give them--I say, his own children--his Holy Spirit, that best of all gifts, to enlighten the eyes of their understanding, to be in them "the Spirit of supplication," etc.
7. Election and reprobation are strongly spoken of in this pamphlet; for these doctrines are necessary consequents of Christ dying only for some, not for all. To say that Christ died for any that go to hell is trampling under foot the blood of Christ with a witness; for the blood of Jesus cleanses from all sin. Therefore, if it was shed for all men, there is no hell; if it was shed for any in hell they could not have been there, for it would have cleansed them from guilt and punishment. Thus, how true the decrees of election and reprobation are; for "known unto God are all his works, from the beginning of the world." (Acts 15:18)
8. But the eternal and unalterable decrees of God, "with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning," (James 1:17) look not finally with any terrible aspect on any but the proud, the self-righteous, and unregenerate.
The decrees thus of God in amazing majesty are a consolation to "the poor in spirit," "those that mourn," and "the broken-hearted." You will not find many broken-hearted people about religion. As, therefore, most people die without a broken heart concerning religion, consequently, as Christ says of "the broad way," most people go to hell; for "the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit and a broken heart." Happy art thou, therefore, reader, if thine heart has ever been broken in fear about these things, about the things that pertain to the Lord Jesus. Happy art thou if thou art "poor in spirit" thus, as "God's workmanship," in thus breaking thy heart to implant there the Lord Jesus, the Plant of Renown and the vital and felt Hope of Glory; "Christ is formed in us" (Col. 1:27) by the mighty, regenerating, and renewing power of God felt. (Titus 3:5) O happy soul, if thou art thus mocked by man, and art thus called a "poor-spirited" wretch! Happy art thou if thou thus art "meek," "hungering after Christ;" if thou hast ever been brought thus to bemoan thyself over thy sins; if thou hast ever been brought here to have vital contrition and penitence thus, though thou art mocked of man!
The decrees of election and reprobation will not finally destroy the "mourners," the spiritually "humble," and those whose life is thus through regeneration hid manifestively with Christ in God. "The lame take the prey;" "the crippled," through repentance, "win the garland;" the lost "are found;" and "blessed are they that mourn," and are as sons "scourged and chastened of God." (Heb. 12:6; Gal. 4:19)
Such are God's "husbandry!" (1 Cor. 3:9) And the ploughs and harrows of distress will make way for a bountiful crop of joy. Sowing in tears to reap in joy! Blessed mourners! You have in this way an evidence of your election from all eternity, and that you are not in the dreadful list of the reprobate proud! (Mal. 4:1) God resisteth the proud; and every one is a proud man whose heart is not more or less broken as I have described. "Their heart is as fat as grease; their eyes stand out with fatness; these are they who prosper in this wicked world." (Ps. 73:12) "They love the world, and the world loveth them," and, consequently, they are the enemies of God, and the love of God the Father in election is not in them." "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in that man." (1 John 2:15) These are the ungodly; "Egyptians" never disciplined under the inward tuition of God in a change of heart. These remain the stock of the first Adam, and are dead and lost before God; for, "whosoever"--whether gilded professors of Christianity, or profane cursers and swearers; whether smooth as silk in a varnished profession of religion, or as rough as badgers in brutish carelessness about religion altogether; all, whether buried in a dead profession, or hostile to the very profession of religion; all, I say, the non-elect,--"whosoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire." (Rev. 20:15) "The goats," or non-elect, are to be "on the left hand" at the winding up or dreadful day of final judgment. (Matt. 25:33) This we must believe, and that "the sheep," or elect, will all be at "the right hand." Not one will be missing on either hand. Thus all God's works shall then finally praise him; for "He hath made all things," yea, even "the vessels of wrath," "the tares," "goats," non-elect, as well as the saints, or elect, "for himself; yea, even the wicked for the day of evil." (Prov. 16:4) And if a sparrow does not fall on the earth by chance, never-dying souls surely do not fall into hell by chance. And the "eternal" God, "with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning," made "the tares" to be burnt, as the event will show; "Gather the tares in bundles to burn!" (Matt. 13:30) Dread thought! Happy art thou, reader, if thou art brought to "fear;" for right "spiritual" fear is the beginning of all saving wisdom. "Knowing the terrors of the Lord, we persuade men," as Paul says. (2 Cor. 5:11) He that hath an ear spiritually will hear. Freewillers will, I know, say that these are lies; but it is to be so, for God says to them in the Acts of the Apostles and in Habakkuk, "Behold, I work a work in your days which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man" (as my unworthy self) "tell it" to you. Thus, I am quite prepared for this poor imperfect book of my experience to be by them called all lies, and to be mocked.
9. But it may be said that I discourage prayer. I merely contend for right prayer. (See Appendix)
10. Again. As the true doctrine of God to the saints for salvation is, (as I have warmly advocated,) grace and faith without works on our part, it may be said that we declare, "Let us do evil that good may come," "We may live as we list," etc. Now, they who bring that objection stumble as "they are appointed to do." Faith, without works, sometimes, in the head and notion of the unregenerate, may be perverted; (Jude 4) for they have "no root." Faith without works, in the heart of the regenerate, will constrain by love, and will work by love, to shine in universal excellence outwardly and inwardly, in thought, word, and deed; not for self-righteousness, not for righteousness before God, for Christ is that to them, and that Christ only is there to them. "The" vital "faith of God's elect," (Titus 1:1) is a guarantee thus to them against licentiousness of life. As for all other faith, it is only paper and ink, historical, bookish, and what the devils believe; for I believe that Satan believes the Bible the outward echo and sound of inward salvation, every word of it; (Matt. 4:6) which, as pertaineth to salvation, is all that the non-elect can ever attain to by faith; and I am sure that they cannot be saved by works, or part works, part faith. Dreadful predicament! But look how proud the non-elect are! They mount up to the skies in soaring conceit; self and nature are their gods! But the works of nature all decay, perish, and vanish as regards heaven and salvation. "And the earth and heaven fled away" before Him! (Rev. 20:11) I wish that these considerations may damp the ardor of pride in the non-elect, and make them humble themselves and go softly, like king Aham. (1 Kings 21:27)
11. May I drop one remark without offense, without making myself something when I am nothing? It is this: Let not any supposed depth in the following experience damp the weakest believer supernaturally in Christ. A man will get to heaven if he have the faith of God's saints, though it be but like a grain of mustard seed comparatively. "Who hath despised the day of small things?" "Say to them that are of a fearful heart, be strong." (Isa. 35:4)
12. Religion thus to me (judging from my own experience and that of the children of God) spiritually appears, with one difference, to be like death to a soul taught of God. It appears to me to be like entering a lonely valley, called the valley of the shadow of death, through which all saints must pass naturally and spiritually. There may be many unwelcome attendants in this valley. Darkness, gloominess, and death are the blackly-clad attendants in it to the feelings. Many a stormy assault may there be on our peace throughout it. "My soul fainteth" in me, may, like the psalmist's, be our cry. Tossings, rockings, and changes may be our vehement exercises. And under the assaults of Satan and the overcloudings of God's cheering countenance, we may be tempted to give up all hope. "But when my soul fainted in me," such a one will cry, "then I remembered God with vital faith, and by its power through the Spirit I drew God down to my help!" "O that thou wouldest come down!" (Isa. 64:1) Then, when the soul is ready to give all up, he goes through the jaws of destruction in the valley, and at last comes out on the other side into the blaze of eternal victory. This is the case in the death of a saint; and religion in this world in such a character differs from it only in this respect, that bodily death to as saint frees him for ever from every woe; whereas, a deliverance in the conscience from the curse of the law felt, into the brilliant light of unclouded "Day," from Jesus the felt Sun of righteousness and peace, leaves the soul so blest. Though not in the valley of law, wrath, and despair, yet he is still left while in the body to many painful changes; "Changes and war are against me," he will have to say, like Job. But
Did Jesus once upon thee shine?
Then Jesus is for ever thine."
This, with various other spiritual exercises, holds believers up through every remaining vale of life; being persuaded, from time to time, that "the first fruits" and "the earnest" will end in the full wages and harvest; "For if the first fruit be holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root be holy, so are the branches." (Rom. 11:16) This is their strong consolation. Neither shall their expectation be cut off. Thus severity ends in joy; bitters in sweets; the trials in time grow for a crop for eternity; "the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth," in each darksome, startling "valley" of distress, will to them lead on at last to "the hidden manna," and to the unclouded mysteries of celestial and endless joys.
This is the "PREFACE" to "The Inward Kingdom of God; or, the Varied Dealings of God with an Elect Soul. Being A Sketch of the Christian Experience the Writer has gone through.
This booklet can be ordered through: "HUNTINGTON PRESS"