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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Wonderful accounts of Christian Perfection from July 1762

Monday, 26 July 1762: At five in the morning the congregation was larger than it used to be in the evening. And in these two days and a half, four persons gave thanks for a sense of God's pardoning mercy; and seven, (among whom were a mother and her daughter,) for being perfected in love. The person by whom chiefly it pleased God to work this wonderful work, was John Manners, a plain man, of middling sense; and not eloquent, but rather rude in speech; one who had never before been remarkably useful, but seemed to be raised up for this single work. And as soon as it was done, he fell into a consumption, languished a while, and died.
I now found he had not at all exceeded the truth, in the accounts he had sent me from time to time. In one of his first letters, after I left the town, he says: "The work here is such as I never expected to see. Some are justified or sanctified, almost every day. This week three or four were justified, and as many, if not more, renewed in love. The people are all on fire. Such a day as last Sunday I never saw. While I was at prayer in the society, the power of the Lord overshadowed us, and some cried out, ’Lord, I can believe!' The cry soon became general, with strong prayers. Twice I attempted to sing; but my voice could not be heard. I then desired them to restrain themselves, and in stillness and composure to wait for the blessing: On which all but two or three, who could not refrain, came into a solemn silence. I prayed again, and the softening power of grace was felt in many hearts. Our congregations increase much, and I have no doubt but we shall see greater things than these."
Four days after, he writes: "The work of God increases every day. There is hardly a day but some are justified, or sanctified, or both. On Thursday three came and told me that the blood of Jesus Christ had cleansed them from all sin. One of them told me she had been justified seven years, and had been five years convinced of the necessity of sanctification. But this easy conviction availed not. A fortnight since she was seized with so keen a conviction, as gave her no rest till God had sanctified her, and witnessed it to her heart."
Three days after, (May 11,) he writes thus: "God still continues his marvellous lovingkindness to us. On Sunday last Dor. King entered into the rest. She had been seeking it for some time; but her convictions and desires grew stronger and stronger, as the hour approached. Awhile ago she told me she grew worse and worse, and her inward conflicts were greater than ever: But on the Lord’s day she felt an entire change, while these words were spoke to her heart, 'Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.’ She now walks in sweet peace, and rejoices evermore. Her father received the blessing a few days before her, and is exceeding happy.
"The fire catches all that come near. An old soldier, in his return from Germany to the north of Ireland, fell in one night with these wrestling Jacobs, to his great astonishment. He was justified seventeen years ago, but afterward fell from it for five years. As he was going to Germany, in the beginning of the war, the Lord healed him in Dublin; and in spite of all the distresses of a severe campaign, he walked in the light continually. On his return through London, he was convinced of the necessity of sanctification; and soon after he came hither, his heart was broken in pieces, while he was with a little company who meet daily for prayer. One evening, as they were going away, he stopped them, and begged they would not go till the Lord had blessed him. They kneeled down again, and did not cease wrestling with God, till he had a witness that he was saved from all sin.
"The case of Mr. Timmins is no less remarkable. He had been a notorious sinner. He was deeply wounded two months since. Ten days ago, on a Friday, God spake peace to his soul. The Sunday following, after a violent struggle, he sunk down as dead. He was cold as clay. After about ten minutes he came to himself, and cried, 'A new heart, a new heart!’ He said he felt himself in an instant entirely emptied of sin, and filled with God. Brother Barry, likewise, had been justified but a few days, before God gave him purity of heart."
May 15, he writes: "God still makes me a messenger of good tidings. His work goes on. Our last night's meeting was remarkable for the presence and power of God, while several were relating what he had done. One said, ’All that day in which God delivered me, I felt the blessing just at hand, but could not open my heart to receive it. I was fast shut up, till, under the sermon in the evening, I felt God open my heart, remove the bar of unbelief, and give me power to receive the blessing freely.'
"There are now three places in the city, wherein as many as have opportunity assemble day and night, to pour out their souls before God, for the continuance and enlargement of his work."
"May 29.—Since my last account, many have been sanctified, and several justified. One of the former is William Moor. He was a long time struggling for the blessing; and one night he was resolved not to go to bed without it. He continued wrestling with God for two hours; when he felt a glorious change, and the Spirit of God witnessing that the work was done.
"We begin now to meet with opposition from every quarter. Some say this is rank enthusiasm; others, that it is either a cheat, or mere pride; others, that it is a new thing, and that they can find no such thing in the Bible."
"June 3.—The Lord increases his work, in proportion to the opposition it meets with. Between Monday morning and Tuesday night, I have had eight bills of thanksgiving; for two justified, three renewed in love, and three backsliders healed."
"June 15.—There is no end of the mercies of God. Three days of this week are gone, in which God has justified five sinners. On Sunday, in the afternoon, I preached at three in the Barrack-Square; and a more solemn time I have not seen; the hearers were as many as my voice could reach, and all remarkably attentive.
"In the evening a cry ran through the society, and four were justified that night. Two of these, Alexander Tate and his wife, were but lately joined. The power of God first seized her, and constrained her to cry aloud, till she heard the still small voice. He continued calling upon God, and would not cease before God answered him also in the joy in his heart."
"Saturday, June 19.—We have had eight this week, whose sins are blotted out, and two more have entered into that rest. One of them says, she has enjoyed the love of God nine years; but felt as great a difference between that state, and the state she is now in, as if her soul was taken into heaven!"
"June 26.—Last week eleven were justified, or sanctified, and this week eleven more; eight of whom received remission of sins, and three a clean heart: And a troop are waiting for the moving of the water. Among them whom the power of God has seized lately, are two eminent sinners, each of whom lived with a woman to whom he was never married. One of them already rejoices in God; the other mourns and will not be comforted: But the women are gone: They put away the accursed thing immediately.
"I had much fear about the children, lest our labour should be lost upon them; but I find we shall reap if we faint not. Margaret Roper, about eight years old, has been thoughtful for some time. The other day, while they were at family-prayer, she burst into tears and wept bitterly. They asked, what was the matter. She said she was a great sinner, and durst not pray. They bade her go to bed. She no sooner came into the chamber than she began crying, and clapping her hands, so that they heard her across the street; but God soon bound up her broken heart. Being asked how she felt herself, she said, ’Ten times better. Now I can love God. I wish you would sit up and sing with me all night.' She has been happy ever since, and as serious as one of forty."
"July 3.—Our joy is now quite full. The flame rises higher and higher. Since Saturday last, eight sinners more are freely justified, and two more renewed in love. Our House was once large enough; now it is scarce able to contain us: And we have not many in the society, who are not either wrestling with God for his love, or rejoicing therein."
Thus far the account of John Manners, quite unadorned, but plain and sensible.
Upon farther examination I found three or four and forty in Dublin, who seemed to enjoy the pure love of God: At least forty of these had been set at liberty within four months. Some others, who had received the same blessing, were removed out of the city. The same, if not a larger number, had found remission of sins. Nor was the hand of the Lord shortened yet: He still wrought as swiftly as ever.
In some respects the work of God in this place was more remarkable than even that in London. 1. It is far greater, in proportion to the time, and to the number of people. That society had above seven-and-twenty hundred members; this not a fifth part of the number. Six months after the flame broke out there, we had about thirty witnesses of the great salvation. In Dublin there were above forty in less than four months. 2. The work was more pure. In all this time, while they were mildly and tenderly treated, there were none of them headstrong or unadvisable; none that were wiser than their Teachers; none who dreamed of being immortal or infallible, or incapable of temptation; in short, no whimsical or enthusiastic persons: All were calm and sober-minded.
I know several of these were, in process of time, moved from their steadfastness. I am nothing surprised at this: It was no more than might be expected: I rather wonder that more were not moved. Nor does this, in any degree, alter my judgment concerning the great work which God then wrought.

1 comment:

Charlie said...

This is a challenging account of Christian perfection...the acts of Prevenient grace, justifying grace, and sanctifying grace are clearly enumerated...