Most probably, I would have been in Hell!
(James Smith, "A Review" 1858)
What WAS I by NATURE? This is a dark and dreary subject, for I was in a sad state, and had acquired a sad character.
My heart was fearfully depraved — my nature was totally fallen.
All within was spiritually dead — and all without was unholy.
The creature was loved and served — and the Creator was neglected and despised.
Sin was my element.
Satan was my master.
The world was my heaven.
I had no good desires — no holy aspirations — no redeeming qualities.
I was a rebel against God's
government — and a traitor against God's crown!
I would have destroyed God if I could — and blotted His name out of creation! The language of my heart and life was, "No God for me!" My heart was filled and fired with enmity against Him, and at times I could have cursed Him to His face!
I hated His law.
I despised His gospel.
I abhorred His people.
If I could — I would have crushed His cause!
How astonishing that such a wretch was allowed to live!
How astonishing that God had not crushed me by His power, and sentenced me to Hell!
But, O the patience and the sovereign grace of God! He bore with me. He loaded me with His benefits. He determined to win me with His love. Nevertheless I sinned yet the more, and provoked Him with my ungodly conduct. O how surprising that I am not in Hell! Surely there are many already in Hell — who were never such great sinners as I have been!
But, the Lord is good, ready to
forgive, and plenteous in mercy unto all who call upon Him. He
put a cry into my heart, He listened to that
cry — and made me a new creature in Christ Jesus. He unveiled
my enormous wickedness before the eyes of my mind, which
filled me with confusion, despondency, and shame. He laid me
in the dust, and seemed to doom me to despair. He . . .
crushed my proud spirit,
destroyed my infernal enmity against Him,
and melted me into contrition with His love.
What AM I by GRACE?For all that I now am — I once was not. Everything which is in any sense was good in me — must be ascribed to the free grace of God. Yes, with the holy Apostle I must say, "By the grace of God — I am what I am!" All that has been wrought within me, all that has been conferred upon me, and all the good that has been done by me — must be traced to the free and invincible grace of God!
Who can tell what I would have been by this time — but for the grace of God?
Who can say where I would have been this morning — but for the grace of God? Most probably, I would have been in Hell — where the worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched! O what a debtor to grace I am! If anyone should magnify sovereign grace — surely I should. For to God's sovereign grace — I owe everything!
I am not now — what I once was.
Why? Because God had a purpose of grace toward me.
I am not now — what I soon shall be. Why? Because grace is always crowned with glory!