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← Examples of Unwise Counsel to Awakened Sinners - Asahel Nettelton

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Showing Revision 2 created 03/03/2018 by Carrie Spradlin.

  1. Asahel Nettleton's feelings were often

  2. severely tried by the unwise counsel
  3. which some professing Christians
  4. were in the habit of giving
  5. to awakened sinners.
  6. He has been heard to say
  7. that he recognized more
    evil from this source,
  8. than from all the opposition
  9. of public enemies of religion.
  10. He usually occupied one meeting
  11. in considering these misguided directions.
  12. A sketch of the address delivered
  13. on these occasions is found
  14. among his papers,
  15. of which the following is an extract.
  16. Number one:

  17. Wait at the pool.
  18. You must not be discouraged,
  19. for we read of one who waited 38 years.
  20. This text is used by way of accommodation.
  21. The impotent man was waiting at the pool,
  22. not for the pardon of his sins,
  23. but to be healed of a bodily disease.
  24. We may accommodate
    passages of Scripture
  25. for the purpose of illustrating
    acknowledged truth,
  26. but we must not trace analogies too far.
  27. In many respects, there
    is a striking analogy
  28. between a depraved heart
  29. and a diseased body;
  30. but there is one important point
  31. in which the analogy does not hold -
  32. the one is criminal,
  33. the other is merely calamitous.
  34. This use of the passage contradicts

  35. many plain declarations of the Bible -
  36. particularly all those which enjoin
  37. the duty of immediate repentance.
  38. Suppose a person should address sinners
  39. in this manner:
  40. Behold, now is the accepted time!
  41. Behold, now is the day of salvation!
  42. But wait at the pool.
  43. Choose ye this day whom ye will serve;
  44. but wait at the pool.
  45. God now commands all men everywhere
  46. to repent, but wait at the pool.
  47. The effect of this direction is
  48. to make the impression
    on the sinner's mind,
  49. that he is not under obligation
  50. to obey God immediately;
  51. and, of course, it
    counteracts the influence
  52. of every command of God
  53. on the sinner's conscience.
  54. The sinner is told that he
    must not be discouraged,

  55. for the impotent man waited 38 years.
  56. This, however, is not said.
  57. It is said that he had
    an infirmity 38 years;
  58. but it is not said that
    he had waited a day.
  59. Be this, however, as it may,
  60. he was not healed by the pool after all,
  61. nor is there any evidence
  62. that he would have been
  63. if he had waited all his life.
  64. Number two:

  65. Be patient and wait God's time.
  66. What is the meaning of this direction
  67. when given to an awakened sinner?
  68. Be patient!
  69. Is the sinner to understand
  70. that he is too anxious for the salvation
  71. of his soul,
  72. and that he ought to wait patiently
  73. in his sins till God shall see fit
  74. to change his heart?
  75. To tell the anxious sinner to be patient
  76. without a new heart,
  77. is the same as to tell him
  78. to dismiss all his anxiety,
  79. and to go back to a state of stupidity.
  80. Patient in his sins!
  81. Rather let him be more and more impatient
  82. with himself and with
    his deplorable condition.
  83. Let him tremble in view
    of a judgment to come,
  84. and weep and howl for the miseries
  85. that are coming upon him.
  86. What is meant when the sinner

  87. is directed to wait God's time?
  88. Is it meant that God is not now ready
  89. to receive the sinner?
  90. Is it meant that the sinner
  91. is willing to do his part,
  92. and that he must wait for God
  93. to do His?
  94. If so, why not speak plainly
  95. and tell the sinner:
  96. I know you are ready and willing
  97. to be a Christian,
  98. but God is not ready and willing
  99. to receive you.
  100. But if God is not ready now
  101. to receive the returning sinner,
  102. what evidence is there
  103. that He ever will be ready?
  104. But when is God's time?

  105. Do those who direct sinners
  106. to wait God's time,
  107. mean that it is not their duty
  108. to repent and believe till
  109. God grants them repentance and faith?
  110. Then it was never was the duty
  111. of those sinners to repent
  112. who have gone to destruction,
  113. and it never will be.
  114. They waited all their lives,
  115. and are waiting still,
  116. and will wait to all eternity.
  117. And it has never yet been the duty
  118. of any sinner who is now impenitent
  119. to repent;
  120. and if God should not
    grant him repentance,
  121. it never will be.
  122. But this directly
    contradicts the Scriptures.
  123. The sinner under conviction is distressed

  124. with a sense of his obligation to comply
  125. with the terms of salvation without delay.
  126. And there is no way to relieve him
  127. from his distress while impenitent,
  128. but to release him from his sense
  129. of obligation to repent.
  130. To direct him to wait God's time
  131. is directly calculated
    to produce this effect,
  132. and to counteract the operations
  133. of the divine Spirit.
  134. It is to plead the sinner's
    cause against God.
  135. But is it not hard to distress the sinner

  136. by pressing him with his obligations?
  137. It is painful, but it is necessary.
  138. It is painful to the surgeon
  139. to probe to the bottom
  140. of a dangerous wound;
  141. but it must be done,
  142. or the patient will die.
  143. If, through false pity,
  144. we console the sinner
    under these circumstances,
  145. there is reason to fear that his blood
  146. will be required at our hands.
  147. if we direct the sinner to wait,
  148. we direct him to run the awful hazard
  149. of losing his soul.
  150. Number three:

  151. It is sometimes said to the sinner
  152. under deep distress,
  153. "Don't despair."
  154. This expression frequently produces
  155. a bad effect upon the sinner's mind.
  156. It is sometimes the case,

  157. that sinners speak of the greatness
  158. of their sins
  159. and the hopelessness of their condition,
  160. on purpose to be flattered and consoled.
  161. And when they do not,
  162. it is always best to admit that
  163. their case is quite as bad
  164. as they represent it.
  165. It is proper to hold up the fullness
  166. of the atonement,
  167. and the readiness of God
  168. to forgive all who repent.
  169. But this the sinner
    generally does not doubt.
  170. The thing that distresses
    the convicted sinner
  171. is the fear that he never shall repent.
  172. From his own experience
  173. he has full conviction
    that it will never be
  174. easier to repent than now.
  175. His sins are increasing,
  176. and his heart is becoming
  177. more and more perverse.
  178. God has said,
  179. "Except ye repent,
  180. ye shall all likewise perish."
  181. He believes it.
  182. He despairs of obtaining salvation
  183. without repentance;
  184. and of this he ought to despair.
  185. Number four:

  186. In every case of clear conviction
  187. there is in the mind of the sinner
  188. a painful sense of obligation to repent,
  189. and a fearful apprehension
  190. that he never shall repent.
  191. In this state he sometimes inquires:
  192. Do you think there is any hope in my case?
  193. Do you think I ever shall
  194. become a Christian?
  195. This is a most interesting crisis,
  196. and a little flattery here
    may ruin the soul.
  197. The proper answer to these inquiries is:
  198. "I do not know.
  199. It is altogether uncertain.
  200. One thing is certain,
  201. however great your sins may be,
  202. if you will repent,
  203. they shall be pardoned;
  204. but whether you ever will repent
  205. is altogether uncertain.
  206. Sinners as anxious as you,
  207. and perhaps more so,
  208. have returned to stupidity,
  209. and their last state has become worse
  210. than the first."
  211. When sinners are in this state of mind,
  212. their friends are exceedingly prone
  213. to flatter them.
  214. "Oh! Don't despair - be patient.
  215. Wait God's time.
  216. You will doubtless find relief."
  217. Such language is exceedingly dangerous.
  218. Every word takes it for granted
  219. that the sinner's concern for his soul
  220. is without foundation.
  221. One of two things is true -
  222. either such directions are wrong,
  223. or the sinner is not under conviction;
  224. for if he is under real conviction,
  225. the Spirit of God is shewing him
  226. his true condition.
  227. His apprehensions are well founded,
  228. and if we attempt to
    remove these apprehensions,
  229. we directly counteract the operations
  230. of the Holy Spirit.
  231. The above extract will give the reader

  232. some idea of the manner in which
  233. Dr. Nettleton was in the habit
  234. of dealing with awakened sinners.
  235. He did not heal the
    heart of sinners slightly,
  236. nor cry, "Peace, peace,"
  237. when God had not spoken peace.
  238. Original Title: Injudicious Directions

  239. From: Asahel Nettleton: Life & Labors
  240. by Bennet Tyler & Andrew Bonar
  241. Created by: ILLBEHONEST.COM