The Desponding Encouraged!
James Smith, 1842
"You said, There is no hope!" Jeremiah 2:25
My dear reader, are you not convinced of sin? Do you not desire salvation? Are you not crying to the Lord? And yet perhaps you are cast down, distressed in mind, and filled with desponding fears. You think your case is singular, your state dangerous, and your situation fearful. You conclude that . . .
God will not be gracious,
Jesus will not save you, and
Heaven will never receive you.
You think you are, of all, the most miserable; that there is no hope, nor any deliverance for you. You try to pray — and cannot; you read the Bible — and find no comfort; you think over the Lord's promises — but get very little good.
Your thoughts are confused, your judgment is baffled — and you know not what to do. Your soul is burdened, your spirits sink, and you feel as though you had no strength. Satan tempts you, you see yourself more sinful, and you are ready to give up all for lost. Is not this your case? Do you not feel thus? Are you not thus terrified? Then, inquire: Whose work is all this?
Man could not thus teach you your state and danger, nor lead you to desire salvation by Jesus Christ. Satan could not thus instruct you, neither would he if he could. Then the work must be the work of God. All that you feel and fear, is the effect of the Holy Spirit's bringing home the law to your conscience! It is preparatory to your receiving Christ; it is to strip you of self; to bring down pride; and lay you low in the dust before God — that you may receive salvation as the free gift of free grace, bestowed upon a sinful, unworthy, ill-deserving creature!
True, it is Satan, taking occasion by the discovery that is made to you, who tempts you to despair, and to indulge hard thoughts of God. But even this is in your favor; he tempts you because he hates you; he hates you because Jesus loves you; and because he knows that the Holy Spirit is at work within you. Once he left you to sin on in quietness, because he then thought he was sure of you. But now he alarms, terrifies, and distresses you — because he is afraid he shall lose you!
You cannot do as you once did, you cannot love and follow the evil things you once took delight in — but why is this? What made this alteration in you? From what does this change spring? Not from nature, not from Satan, not from the wrath of God — but from the work of the Spirit, which is the effect of the love of God to your soul.
Fear not then, poor desponding soul; Jesus Christ is most exactly suited to you. He is, He has, He will bestow — all that you need or desire. He has given you His word, that He will never cast out a coming sinner. John 6:37. He receives sinners. Luke 15:2. He is able also to save them to the uttermost — all who come unto God by Him, seeing He ever lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25. He is as willing to save — as He is able; and to you He says, "Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest!"
Never was one poor soul rejected by Him, never yet did He refuse to hear, show mercy to, and deliver one — who, from a sense of need, cried to Him for forgiveness. His very nature is love, and His love is fixed upon poor sinners. His love to them is so great, that it passes knowledge! His love is so wonderful, that all other love dies before it. "He has loved us, and given Himself for us!"
His thoughts respecting you are "thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." His name is Jesus, because He came to save poor desponding souls from their sins. "You shall call His name Jesus — for He shall save His people from their sins."
His throne is grace — because there He dispenses favors to the vile and unworthy.
His promises are free — because He intended them to comfort and support the undeserving.
His invitations are general, because designed to encourage the thirsty, the heavy-laden, and the weary, who would otherwise exclude themselves.
His disposition is kindness, pity, and compassion; calculated to dissipate fear, doubt, and despondency from those who approach Him.
His intention in coming into the world, was most merciful: "to save sinners, even the chief!"
His gospel is an antidote against all the miseries, woes, and distresses of poor sinful worms!
His word contains a complete answer to all our complaints.
Are you complaining that you cannot pray? Do you desire? "He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and save them."
Do you have longings to be saved? "He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness."
Do you hunger and thirst? "Blessed ate those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled."
Are you looking to the Lord? "Look unto Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else!"
Are you crying to the Lord? "Then shall you call, and the Lord shall answer; you shall cry, and He shall say — Here I am!" "He will be very gracious unto you at the voice of your cry; when He shall hear it, He will answer you." "This poor man cried — and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all His troubles." "Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me."
Are you kept waiting; and does the Lord delay to answer? "Therefore will the Lord wait, that He may be gracious unto you; and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you." "It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord!"
Are you oppressed with sin, guilt, and a sense of danger — and do these things make you sigh? "For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, says the Lord; I will set him in safety."
Are you seeking for blessings — but still fear that Jesus will not bestow? "Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive."
Are you tempted? "Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he is tried he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to them that love Him."
Are you sorely afflicted? "I will leave in the midst of you an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord." "I have chosen you in the furnace of affliction."
Are you deeply tried? "I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried; they shall call on my name, and I will hear them; I will say, It is my people! And they shall say, The Lord is my God!" "We went through fire and through water; but you brought us out into a wealthy place."
Are you confessing your sins before God? "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." "Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
Are you defiled by sin? "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin." "I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against Me. And it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and an honor before all the nations of the earth."
Are you blind? "I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known; I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them."
Are your sins many? If they were ten thousand times more — Jesus would freely pardon, fully justify, and everlastingly save you. Jesus has promised that He will never cast out any who come unto Him!
Why then despond? Why listen to Satan? Why endeavor to prove the Redeemer guilty of falsehood? If the promises are made to such as you; if personal desert is put of the question, and all is a matter of grace — why then should YOU be excluded?
Sin, guilt, and temptation should lead you to Jesus — not keep you from Him! There are thousands now in Heaven, who were once exactly like you; but they were saved by free grace, through the blood of Jesus. Fear not then, my poor doubting brother or sister; but continue to seek, cry to, and wait upon the Lord. And you shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation!
Fly, poor sinner, to yon mountain,
Where the healing streams do flow;
Where you'll find an open fountain,
That will wash you white as snow!
Richly flowed the crimson river,
Down Immanuel's lovely side;
And that blood will you deliver,
Whensoever 'tis applied!
Never ponder o'er your baseness,
But to Calvary quick repair;
There's the fountain for uncleanness,
And the worst are welcome there!
Christ is ready to receive you;
See His bloody cross appear;
From your sins, he will relieve you,
And dissolve your every fear!