A Feeling Religion
There is more true religion, more vital godliness in a sigh, cry and groan, in a simple petition put up out of a labouring bosom at the footstool of mercy, than in the presumptuous language of all the hypocrites in the world put together. There is more of the Holy Ghost’s work in the conscience of a sinner that goes burdened, exercised, tried and distressed to the throne of grace, and there looks up to a bleeding Jesus and longs after an application of His atoning blood to his conscience, than in all the presumptuous claims that thousands have made with presumptuous lips. In the Word of truth, we have before our eyes the experience of a saint of God, drawn by the hand of the Spirit; here we have the breathings of a tender conscience, the sighings of a broken spirit, the utterance of a feeling heart.
Now, can you find yours there? Look and see whether you can find anything of the experience of the 119th Psalm in your soul. Look at verse 132: “Look Thou upon me, and be merciful unto me, as Thou usest to do unto those that love Thy name.” Never mind what people say about you, nor what they say against you; no, nor even what your own heart may say in your own bosom. But can you in honesty, simplicity and godly sincerity find David’s feelings in your bosom? David’s prayer in your heart? David’s breathings in your breast? If so, God has made you a believer. If so, you are under divine teaching. If so, David’s God is your God; and as sure as David is in glory, so surely will you be in glory too.
But as to a religion that knows nothing of these things, neither sighs, nor cries, nor breathings, nor groans, nor longings, nor languishings, nor meltings, nor softenings, that feels no contrition, no tenderness, no godly sorrow, no desire to please God, no fear to offend Him – away with it! Throw it into the river! Bury it in the first dunghill you come to! The sooner it is got rid of the better. Religion without heavenly teaching, and the Spirit’s secret operations, without a conscience made tender in the fear of the LORD, without the spirit of prayer in the bosom, without breathings after the LORD, without desires to experience His love, and enjoy a sense of His mercy and goodness – all such religion is a deception and a delusion. It begins in the flesh, and it will end in the flesh. It is all that man can produce; and as the LORD says, “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1st Corinthians 15:50), so fleshly religion cannot. “The flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you,” said the Lord, “they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).
But if there be within these walls any who know something of these fruits in your souls, something of this experience traced out by the Spirit of God in your hearts, you are safe, though perhaps you cannot see it yourselves; you are secure, though your hearts may sometimes quake and fear. For the LORD, who has begun the work, will carry it on, and bring it to full perfection, satisfy you with a sweet discovery of His grace and love, here and eternally.