Wednesday, April 12, 2006

John Angell James, Passion for Souls

Yesterday I mentioned John Angell James book, An Earnest Ministry. One of the striking and beneficial things about the book is the deep, compelling passion for the salvation of souls. Here are some quotes to that end.

Here the author begins referring to himself in third person:
"And now that his shadow lengthens on the plain, and his eye is fixed on the declining sun, he feels, in the review of life, that the thought of having done any thing to save souls from death gives him far more delight than he could have derived from having made the largest acquirements in learning and science, or from having gained a reputation for genius and taste. There is a time coming to every man when the knowledge of having been the instrument of plucking a single brand from the eternal burning, will yield him more real satisfaction than the certainty of having accomplished the loftiest objects of literary ambition.” (xvii)
On the importance of making clear the human condition in sin:
“We have, as our first business, to fasten a charge of guilt upon men naturally disposed to think well of themselves: to produce a sense of utter worthlessness and depravity in those who . . . admit only some few imperfections and infirmities . . . and to substitute for a general and unhumbled dependence upon Divine mercy, such a conviction of exposure to the curse of God’s violated law, as makes it difficult for the trembling penitent to see how his pardon can be harmonised with the claims of justice” (188-189)
Then he is so good on how we present the claims of the gospel. We could do well to ponder this quote at length.
“It is as if he had said, ‘wherever we go, we find men in unprovoked hostility, inveterate enmity, and mad rebellion, against God’s holy nature, law, and government: we carry with us, as his ambassadors, the proclamation of mercy through the mediation of our Lord Jesus Christ: we tell them that we are appointed by God whom they have offended, and who could overwhelm them with the terrors of his justice, to call upon them to lay down their arms and accept the offer of eternal pardon and peace: but we find them every where so bent upon their sins, and the enjoyment of their worldly occupations and possessions, that we are compelled to use the language of the most vehement entreaty, and to beseech and implore them in God’s name, and in Christ’s stead, to come into a state of reconciliation.
“This is the most wonderful scene that the universe will ever witness; a beseeching God, an imploring Saviour, standing at the door of the sinner’s heart with eternal salvation in his hand …. The insulted Omnipotent Creator of the universe, beseeching a worm, whom an exercise of his will could sink in a moment to perdition, and his justice be glorified in the act, to accept his pardoning mercy, and waiting year after year, in all long-suffering, for the sinner’s reconsideration of his obstinate refusals.” (23)
Wow! He captures well the reality that God is under no compulsion to save anyone (He could condemn all and his justice be glorified), and yet this God due only to His own sovereign mercy and grace holds out salvation to all who will repent and believe. This is cause for wonder, awe, worship celebration and procalamtion.


Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Dr. Van Neste,

I was just pointed to this blog, and I find your articles very edifying. I am attempting to address issues facing the Baptist elder/bishop/pastor on my blog, also, but you are presenting much better material! Thank you very much for what you are sharing. I'll be back often to read what you write.

Love in Christ,


Ray Van Neste said...

Thanks Jeff. Glad you came by.