THE LAWFUL CAPTIVE DELIVERED
That sort of preaching by which the gospel of Christ in its fullness and freeness is clearly exhibited; and the Son of God set forth as one who is able to save to the uttermost all poor needy sinners; and the mercy, and grace, and promises of the Lord, brought to view without money and without price, would have been well adapted to my condition. But such preaching I had not the privilege of hearing; but such as suited a boasting Pharisee I was surrounded with, but with me it was quite out of season, and it tended to starve and not to feed my soul; or rather, to irritate my wounded conscience, instead of healing it. r~ hose legal preachers could not reach my sad case; the well was deep, and they appeared to have nothing to draw with. The wrath of God and the burden of sin, had sunk me down out of their sight and reach, so that to me they were “physicians of no value,” Job, 13. 4; and my case to them was as puzzling as was Samson’s riddle to his friends, Judges, 14. 12.
Preachers, whatever knowledge they may have of the mere letter of truth and of the plan of salvation; yet if they are not inwardly taught by the spirit of the Lord of glory, they must necessarily be ignorant of the mystery of God in a pure conscience; nor can they dive either into the waters of the sanctuary, or into the waters of affliction in the soul. Those things are out of their reach and sight; and a quickened sinner in real deep distress of soul, is a perfect puzzle to them. And so I to my sorrow found if in my early days, and so I have often found and seen it since then.
It requires a man of pretty good understanding, both in the law and in the gospel, to draw out the feelings and fairly to delineate the footsteps of an awakened sinner, “in the floods of great waters,” Psa. 32. 6. And Solomon seems to hint at something of this kind when he saith, “Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out.” Some men, and I believe the most of men, who bear the name of gospel preachers, are very “unskillful in the word of righteousness,” Heb. 5. 13; and those men, who ever they are, can be but little or no service to a person situated as I then was.
Sometimes a little light would break in upon my path, and some small comfort be afforded me from the Lord, and thankful I was for the same, for it was greatly needed by me. And from this little encouragement given unto me, I would hope that the day of darkness was about to wear away. But no, for the little light afforded me would soon disappear again, and a greater darkness succeed it; and in darkness I was made to walk from day to day, and from month to month. In those days I travelled about the country a good deal, and was as miserable as sin could well render me. Go where I would, sin was with me, and sin was my burden and grief, and Satan was my accuser; and by the law I was condemned. In the world I could take no delight, and from the gospel I could draw but little comfort, for comforting time was not yet fully come. I can truly say, that my “heart meditated terror,” Isa. 33. 18, as I moved from city to city. Sometimes I would look forward and think that perhaps the Lord -in a coming day, would in mercy arise for my help and set me free from law and terror, and from prison and chains.
Now there was one thing, though a little strange in itself, that much encouraged me thus to look forward and hope that a change for the better, even for a day of deliverance, would be effected on my behalf by the Lord of hosts; and the thing was this. At the time I was so captivated and bewitched by a pharisaical spirit, a strange preacher by the name of John Harm, pastor of an Independent Church in the town of Horsham, in Sussex, came and preached in the parish where I then lived; and his preaching had a very different sound with it to me than what I was then in the habit of hearing; but what it all could mean I knew not, but it left a very pleasant sensation on my mind. And every time I heard him preach it was the same thing with me, so that the man was much endeared to me, and yet I could hardly tell for why, but I really loved the sight of John Harm, for I thought him to be a servant of God; and I am happy to say, that he still abides in the truth, and yet preaches Christ and him crucified.
Well now, when this great trouble of soul was so heavy upon me, this servant of God would at times be much upon my mind; and I used to think if I could but hear him again, I should be set at liberty in my soul. I had more thoughts on this whole matter than what I feel willing here to state. But truly I was now and then much encouraged to look forward with high expectations of the Lord doing great things for me by the instrumentality of this servant of his: nor did I look in vain as the sequel will show.
I have said that in those trying times, I travelled about considerably; well, in my wandering from place to place in a solitary way, I suffered much with cold and hunger, for I was poor, and in a low state of health, and badly clothed, and but young in years, under twenty. This suffering, added to grief within, made my life a burden to me; and I think of it now with feelings that I cannot describe, for I was an object of pity in more senses than one; and having before me an inhospitable world, and in my soul a sense of divine wrath, I could but be dejected and much oppressed; and often would I weep over my hard fate and eternal destiny, for to me it at times appeared evident that I should be lost at last; though at other times I received some little tokens of good from the Lord, by the means of which I have been somewhat revived again, and under it my soul has melted down and been thankful; and then I would go on my way tolerably quiet in my mind. But things would soon become crooked and sadly out of order again, and I would fall to doubting and fearing that my year of jubilee would never come, but that in darkness and sorrow I should have to go down to the gates of deaths ---
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Elder James Osbourn--Part 3--continued