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Examples of Unwise Counsel to Awakened Sinners - Asahel Nettelton

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    Asahel Nettleton's feelings were often
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    severely tried by the unwise counsel
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    which some professing Christians
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    were in the habit of giving
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    to awakened sinners.
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    He has been heard to say
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    that he recognized more
    evil from this source,
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    than from all the opposition
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    of public enemies of religion.
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    He usually occupied one meeting
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    in considering these misguided directions.
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    A sketch of the address delivered
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    on these occasions is found
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    among his papers,
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    of which the following is an extract.
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    Number one:
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    Wait at the pool.
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    You must not be discouraged,
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    for we read of one who waited 38 years.
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    This text is used by way of accommodation.
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    The impotent man was waiting at the pool,
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    not for the pardon of his sins,
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    but to be healed of a bodily disease.
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    We may accommodate
    passages of Scripture
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    for the purpose of illustrating
    acknowledged truth,
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    but we must not trace analogies too far.
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    In many respects, there
    is a striking analogy
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    between a depraved heart
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    and a diseased body;
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    but there is one important point
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    in which the analogy does not hold -
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    the one is criminal,
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    the other is merely calamitous.
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    This use of the passage contradicts
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    many plain declarations of the Bible -
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    particularly all those which enjoin
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    the duty of immediate repentance.
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    Suppose a person should address sinners
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    in this manner:
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    Behold, now is the accepted time!
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    Behold, now is the day of salvation!
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    But wait at the pool.
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    Choose ye this day whom ye will serve;
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    but wait at the pool.
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    God now commands all men everywhere
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    to repent, but wait at the pool.
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    The effect of this direction is
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    to make the impression
    on the sinner's mind,
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    that he is not under obligation
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    to obey God immediately;
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    and, of course, it
    counteracts the influence
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    of every command of God
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    on the sinner's conscience.
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    The sinner is told that he
    must not be discouraged,
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    for the impotent man waited 38 years.
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    This, however, is not said.
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    It is said that he had
    an infirmity 38 years;
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    but it is not said that
    he had waited a day.
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    Be this, however, as it may,
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    he was not healed by the pool after all,
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    nor is there any evidence
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    that he would have been
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    if he had waited all his life.
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    Number two:
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    Be patient and wait God's time.
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    What is the meaning of this direction
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    when given to an awakened sinner?
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    Be patient!
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    Is the sinner to understand
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    that he is too anxious for the salvation
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    of his soul,
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    and that he ought to wait patiently
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    in his sins till God shall see fit
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    to change his heart?
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    To tell the anxious sinner to be patient
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    without a new heart,
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    is the same as to tell him
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    to dismiss all his anxiety,
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    and to go back to a state of stupidity.
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    Patient in his sins!
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    Rather let him be more and more impatient
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    with himself and with
    his deplorable condition.
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    Let him tremble in view
    of a judgment to come,
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    and weep and howl for the miseries
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    that are coming upon him.
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    What is meant when the sinner
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    is directed to wait God's time?
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    Is it meant that God is not now ready
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    to receive the sinner?
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    Is it meant that the sinner
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    is willing to do his part,
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    and that he must wait for God
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    to do His?
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    If so, why not speak plainly
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    and tell the sinner:
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    I know you are ready and willing
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    to be a Christian,
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    but God is not ready and willing
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    to receive you.
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    But if God is not ready now
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    to receive the returning sinner,
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    what evidence is there
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    that He ever will be ready?
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    But when is God's time?
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    Do those who direct sinners
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    to wait God's time,
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    mean that it is not their duty
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    to repent and believe till
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    God grants them repentance and faith?
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    Then it was never was the duty
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    of those sinners to repent
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    who have gone to destruction,
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    and it never will be.
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    They waited all their lives,
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    and are waiting still,
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    and will wait to all eternity.
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    And it has never yet been the duty
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    of any sinner who is now impenitent
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    to repent;
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    and if God should not
    grant him repentance,
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    it never will be.
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    But this directly
    contradicts the Scriptures.
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    The sinner under conviction is distressed
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    with a sense of his obligation to comply
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    with the terms of salvation without delay.
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    And there is no way to relieve him
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    from his distress while impenitent,
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    but to release him from his sense
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    of obligation to repent.
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    To direct him to wait God's time
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    is directly calculated
    to produce this effect,
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    and to counteract the operations
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    of the divine Spirit.
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    It is to plead the sinner's
    cause against God.
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    But is it not hard to distress the sinner
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    by pressing him with his obligations?
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    It is painful, but it is necessary.
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    It is painful to the surgeon
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    to probe to the bottom
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    of a dangerous wound;
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    but it must be done,
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    or the patient will die.
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    If, through false pity,
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    we console the sinner
    under these circumstances,
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    there is reason to fear that his blood
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    will be required at our hands.
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    if we direct the sinner to wait,
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    we direct him to run the awful hazard
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    of losing his soul.
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    Number three:
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    It is sometimes said to the sinner
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    under deep distress,
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    "Don't despair."
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    This expression frequently produces
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    a bad effect upon the sinner's mind.
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    It is sometimes the case,
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    that sinners speak of the greatness
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    of their sins
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    and the hopelessness of their condition,
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    on purpose to be flattered and consoled.
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    And when they do not,
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    it is always best to admit that
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    their case is quite as bad
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    as they represent it.
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    It is proper to hold up the fullness
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    of the atonement,
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    and the readiness of God
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    to forgive all who repent.
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    But this the sinner
    generally does not doubt.
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    The thing that distresses
    the convicted sinner
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    is the fear that he never shall repent.
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    From his own experience
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    he has full conviction
    that it will never be
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    easier to repent than now.
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    His sins are increasing,
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    and his heart is becoming
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    more and more perverse.
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    God has said,
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    "Except ye repent,
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    ye shall all likewise perish."
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    He believes it.
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    He despairs of obtaining salvation
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    without repentance;
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    and of this he ought to despair.
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    Number four:
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    In every case of clear conviction
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    there is in the mind of the sinner
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    a painful sense of obligation to repent,
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    and a fearful apprehension
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    that he never shall repent.
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    In this state he sometimes inquires:
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    Do you think there is any hope in my case?
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    Do you think I ever shall
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    become a Christian?
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    This is a most interesting crisis,
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    and a little flattery here
    may ruin the soul.
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    The proper answer to these inquiries is:
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    "I do not know.
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    It is altogether uncertain.
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    One thing is certain,
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    however great your sins may be,
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    if you will repent,
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    they shall be pardoned;
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    but whether you ever will repent
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    is altogether uncertain.
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    Sinners as anxious as you,
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    and perhaps more so,
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    have returned to stupidity,
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    and their last state has become worse
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    than the first."
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    When sinners are in this state of mind,
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    their friends are exceedingly prone
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    to flatter them.
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    "Oh! Don't despair - be patient.
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    Wait God's time.
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    You will doubtless find relief."
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    Such language is exceedingly dangerous.
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    Every word takes it for granted
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    that the sinner's concern for his soul
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    is without foundation.
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    One of two things is true -
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    either such directions are wrong,
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    or the sinner is not under conviction;
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    for if he is under real conviction,
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    the Spirit of God is shewing him
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    his true condition.
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    His apprehensions are well founded,
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    and if we attempt to
    remove these apprehensions,
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    we directly counteract the operations
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    of the Holy Spirit.
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    The above extract will give the reader
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    some idea of the manner in which
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    Dr. Nettleton was in the habit
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    of dealing with awakened sinners.
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    He did not heal the
    heart of sinners slightly,
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    nor cry, "Peace, peace,"
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    when God had not spoken peace.
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    Original Title: Injudicious Directions
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    From: Asahel Nettleton: Life & Labors
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    by Bennet Tyler & Andrew Bonar
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    Created by: ILLBEHONEST.COM
Title:
Examples of Unwise Counsel to Awakened Sinners - Asahel Nettelton
Description:

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Video Language:
English
Duration:
08:39

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