Book Review: “Mercies of a Covenant God” – By John Warburton
Mercies of a Covenant God – By John Warburton;
Hardback; 255 pages;
Published by Gospel Standard Trust Publications.
We are thankful for this so gracious, so God-honouring a book, displaying, as it does, in a very lively manner, the sovereign love of God the Father in election, the efficacy of the blood of God the Son, with which He purchased the church, and the mercy of God the Holy Ghost in the washing of regeneration.
The simple, original, and in some ways powerful narrative of the dealings of his covenant God with one who was designed to receive grace for the ministry, for the “obedience to the faith” of many precious souls, is very attractive, and we hope may be the means of much good in the church of God.
In the first place, it tells of the wonderful, the clear work of the Holy Ghost in quickening, converting, and separating John Warburton from sin and the world. For
indeed, before this divine operation, he walked according to the course of this world; to use his own words, he…
“was given up to all manner of wickedness, and so continued until I arrived at that time and place God had purposed, not to offer, but to call by grace.
‘To change the heart, renew the will,
And turn the feet to Zion’s hill.’“
We most heartily welcome this dear book, because, if we have “the seeing eye,” we shall see the great works of the Lord, which are “sought out of all them that have pleasure therein;” see not a natural religion, not a towardness to God, but a mighty, a radical, an inward change, a powerful life, whose source, and nature, and end he himself knew not for a long time. It was eternal life which wrought, bubbled, boiled over, wrought according to its own nature, and manifested itself by its appetite, raising the forlorn sinner towards its glorious Source and End. Like its divine Author, it “could not be hid.”
Mr. Warburton’s convictions of sin were deep, too deep for a human gospel; the wounds could not be slightly healed. The holy, just, and good law handled him severely, to use one man’s word, it “killed his heart;” or as Paul expresses the matter, “I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died” (Romans 7:9).
And as the killing work was powerful and clear, so was the blessed deliverance. Mr. Roby, whom Mr. Warburton was hearing, read a precious text, “Thou hast ascended on high, Thou hast led captivity captive; Thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them” (Psalm 68:18).
The word was the word of a King; it was not in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; and it was received in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.
Writing of it, Mr. Warburton says,
“O the wonder and the glory that shone into my soul! O the love, the peace, and joy that broke into my heart as the words came out of his mouth! They were truly sweeter than ten thousands of gold and silver.”
Thus the man who died by the operation of the law in him, Romans 7:9, became dead to the law by the body of Christ, Romans 7:4.
Let it suffice, then, to say that he received a divine call to preach the gospel, that he was anointed thereto, that constant and heavy trials in providence, and constant and remarkable deliverances were commanded for him, and that in an eminent degree his ministry was owned of God at Trowbridge, and that his end was peace.
We cannot forbear giving our readers a beautiful ascription of praise and glory to the Trinity which Mr. Warburton penned after one of his many marked deliverances.
“And why, O my soul, art thou not amongst them [the false prophets]?
Is it because thou hast merited His favour more than they?
O no; it is because it pleased the God and Father of all mercies and all comfort that it should be so. Blessings and honours be unto Thee, O holy God the Father, that ever Thy love and choice was fixed upon such a brat of hell as I.
Honours, blessings, majesty, praises, and glories for ever crown Thy head, O holy God the Son, equal with the Father, and one with Him, that ever Thou didst condescend to take my nature into union with Thy divine Person, didst obey and righteously fulfil all the demands of the holy law, and didst satisfy divine Justice for all my cursed sins; didst conquer death and him that hath the power of death, even the devil; and hath ascended up on high, and taken possession of the inheritance, and ever liveth to make intercession for my poor soul.
And O Thou holy God, Thou blessed Spirit, one with the Father and the Son, blessings, honours, majesty and glories for ever be unto Thee, that ever Thou didst pick up my poor soul out of the ruins of the Fall; didst kill me to all works of righteousness which I could do; didst reveal justifying righteousness and pardoning blood to my heart, and didst bear Thy solemn witness to my spirit that I am an heir of God, and a joint heir with Christ.
O Thou that hast preserved me from falling a prey to the world, the flesh, and the devil all these years up to this moment; that hast lifted up a standard in my soul again and again when the floods of horrid, awful, and unspeakable blasphemies have plunged my poor, trembling soul into such despair that I have many times given it all up as a lost matter!
O holy, blessed Trinity of Persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, one God, whom reason cannot fathom, but faith believes, love embraces, and praise adores, bless Thy holy Name. It is in Thy light that I see light; it is Thy smiles that make my smiles; it is Thy strength and power made manifest in me that holds me up and makes me strong; it is Thy Spirit of grace and supplications poured into my heart, that brings my soul to pour it out unto Thee; it is Thy precious gift of faith, and Thy precious power that draws it into exercise, which enables my soul to come with confidence and say, “My Lord and my God;” it is Thy precious presence as my Father, my Friend, and my eternal All, that changes a dungeon into a palace.
Without Thee I am more and more confident that I can do nothing. O, ever keep me, ever teach me, ever uphold me. O, never leave me to myself, my dear Lord, for two are better than one.”
Our concluding word to our readers is, obtain the book, and may God make the reading a blessing to you.
By J.K. Popham