James Smith, 1864
"I am cast down!"
And why are you cast down?
"My heart is burdened with a sense of my short-comings!
Every duty I perform is so imperfect.
Every purpose I form is so soon frustrated.
Every hope of seeing better days is so soon beclouded.
My heart is so fearfully depraved.
My life is so unlike the life of Jesus.
My temper is so unholy.
My prayers are so brief and heartless.
My praises are so feeble and fitful.
I do so little good.
I live to so little purpose.
My evidences are so dim.
My prospects are so overcast.
I am harassed sometimes with the fear of death.
I cannot realize the glories of Heaven.
I am dissatisfied with the world — and yet glued to it!
I hate sin — and yet fall into it!
I am a riddle, a mystery, a mass of inconsistency!
Is it, then, any wonder that I am cast down?"
No, if you look at yourself, and pore over the things you have named — then it is no wonder that you are cast down! They are enough to cast anyone down! But if you carry them to the throne of grace, if you there confess them before God, if you look to Jesus to save you from them--then, in spite of them — you will not long be cast down.
I know it is difficult to do this. There is a natural proneness to pore over such things. One feels at times a secret liking to indulge in gloomy thoughts.
But we must look away from self — for if we do not, we shall become anxious, doubting and gloomy! We must run the race, not looking at our imperfections, short-comings, and failures — but looking unto Jesus. He knows what we are. He knew what we would be — before He called us by His grace; yes, before He shed His blood for us!
He loved us, as sinners.
He died for us, as sinners.
He called us, as sinners.
He saves us, as sinners. He will have all the glory of saving us, and He will get great glory by doing so, because we are such great sinners; and do not, cannot, do anything to repay Him for His wondrous love. Salvation is by free grace — from first to last! Believe this, and it will raise up your drooping mind!
The life-boat of free grace has put you on board the vessel of salvation, and that will convey you safely to the port of glory! Do not look at your spiritual destitution, or feebleness, or incapacity, or imperfections — but trust in your Pilot, rely on your Captain, and expect His mercy and merit to land you safe in Heaven at last!
As imperfect you now are, and as imperfect you will be — your dying prayer will still be, "God be merciful unto me — a sinner!"
Hope in God!
His mercy is great unto the Heavens,
His grace is as free as the air,
His love is as changeless as His nature,
His promise is as immutable as His love.
Hope in God, for you shall yet praise Him. He will save you for His own sake, and present you before assembled worlds as a monument of His mercy, and a trophy of His grace!