Food for thought
This lowly frame of spirit is highly reasonable, if we look abroad in the world, and particularly the land in which we live. O what great cause of deep humiliation have we this day before the Lord, when we take a view of the abounding profanity of our day! All ranks have "corrupted their way;" a flood of atheism and wickedness, Jordan like, has broken down all its banks. Have we not reason to be humbled for the universal barrenness that is to be found amongst us, under the drops of the glorious gospel? May not the Lord say to us, as he said of his vineyard, Isa. 5. "I planted thee in a fruitful soil;" I took all imaginable pains upon thee, by ordinances, by the rod, by mercies and crosses; yet, after all, "when I looked that they should bring forth grapes, behold, they brought forth wild grapes?"
Again; have we not reason to be humbled for the lamentable divisions that are to be found among us? "Ephraim against Manasseh, Manasseh against Ephraim, and both they together against Israel." Because of the divisions of Reuben, there are great thoughts of heart. Church and state are divided. And, among other divisions that have been of late, we are like to have a new division in point of doctrine. There is a handful of ministers, who have lately put in a petition to our National Assembly, in favour of some of the pure and precious truths of the gospel, which they conceive to be injured ... There is a mighty cry raised against them, both in pulpits and in common conversation, as if they were the troublers of Israel, New-schemers, Antinomians, and what not. Many strange errors are fathered upon them, of which they never once thought. I shall be far from bringing a railing accusation against them who study to wound their reputation, and to mar the success of their ministry: for I look on many of them as great and good men. But if they be helped to bear reproach for the name of Christ, and for the cause of his truths, with humility and lowliness of mind, the Lord in his own time will find out a way to bring them forth to the light, so as they shalt behold his righteousness. And although their reputation should sink for ever in the world, under a load of calumny that is cast upon them, I hope they think it but a small sacrifice for the least truth of God, which is of more worth than heaven and earth. However, I say, this, among other things, is ground and cause of humiliation in our day, that any of the precious truths of Christ should be under a cloud, and that we should be divided in our sentiments respecting them. Have we not reason to be deeply humbled for our woeful defections and backslidings, which are the ground of our divisions? We are departed from the Lord, and the Lord is in a great measure departed from us. What a woeful withering wind has blown upon God's vineyard in the land! We are "fallen from our first love," our former zeal for God and his precious truths, and the royalties of our Redeemer's crown. And is there not a lamentable decay as to the power and life of godliness, which has dwindled away into an empty form with the most? To conclude, it is not with the nobles, gentry, ministers, or people, in [this land], as once it has been; and the worst of it is, that though it be so, though gray hairs are here and there upon us, yet we do not perceive it: we "make our faces harder than a rock, and refuse to return" to the Lord.
From "The Humble Soul the Particular Favourite of Heaven," by Ebenezer Erskinehttp://www.puritansermons.com/erskine/eerskin03.htm
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