What to do when YOU are Suffering DECLENSIONS in Grace

Taken and adapted from, “SPIRITUAL FEARS”
Written by, Henry Law, 1873

fear3

The first love, so bright –so joyous –so ecstatic –has suffered sad eclipse.

The early warmth is chilled. The leaves, once verdant, now droop witheringly. Delight in prayer–high flights of praise–delicious feasting on the richness of the Word–have spread departing wings. A vacancy is left most coldly void. They have gone back to the husks of worldly vanity. They have sought pleasure in scenes, where God rules not, and their dear Savior is ignored. Theirs is the backsliders’ deadness. They feel disquietude. An accusing conscience alarms. They mourn and sigh alone –”Is not all hope now gone? Can I regain the happy eminence from which I have fallen? Can heavenly smiles again beam over me? Can my delinquency be pardoned? Can I again have place among the children? Can my erring soul be restored?”

Let no one speak lightly of this case.

To desert the Lord and drink again the puddle of the world, is grievous guilt. But such is the tender mercy of our Gospel–such the sweet pitifulness of our heavenly Father–such the infinitude of His love, that especial promises and most alluring calls pursue this class. Peter has been foremost to deny his Lord–but Peter especially receives tidings of great joy–“Go your way, tell His disciples and Peter.”–Mark 16:7. The admonition is reiterated, “Return backsliding Israel–says the Lord–and I will not cause My anger to fall upon you–for I am merciful, says the Lord, and I will not keep anger forever. Turn O backsliding children, says the Lord; for I am married unto you.”—Jeremiah 3:12, 14.

Let such then hasten to the throne of grace, pleading that they obey this gracious call. He who gave the pledge will faithfully redeem it. They will realize the gracious truth “He hates divorce.”–Malachi 2:16. “The redeemed of the Lord shall return and come with singing unto Zion–and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads–they shall obtain gladness and joy–and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.”–Isaiah 51:11.

Sometimes the soul is locked in another gloomy cell.

It questions whether its faith is true. May it not be some cheat–some counterfeit–some deceiver in disguise–some earthborn vanity–no heaven-born grace! Undoubtedly presumption may assume the semblance of faith. It stealthily may creep into the heart and give sweet opiates. It may persuade that soul-concerns are safe, and cause for discomfort remains no more. It may lull on a soft pillow of delusion, and rock to sleep amid deception’s dreams. Wherever this impostor cheats, there is the full calm of security.

The fact, then, that the soul trembles is sure proof that presumption is not its inhabitant. The presumptuous, pleased with their seeming beauty, are at ease in Zion. They gaze complacently on painted features, and take them for the children’s likeness. This counterfeit may be detected by its half-heartedness. It professes to make total self-sacrifice–to be bought by a price, and therefore to be wholly Christ’s. But, like Ananias, while it consecrates much, some portion is retained. It hides some secret idol ‘beneath the stuff’. It offers to surrender all sons, except the darling Benjamin. It locks some secret chamber, from which the Lord is excluded.

If you are conscious of this half-consecration, your faith is equivocal, and trembling is justly yours. But if in thorough sincerity you give your body, soul, and spirit to the Lord–if you are willing that He should live in you as truly as He died for you–if you desire that He should reign supreme, as really as you hope to sit beside Him on His throne–these evidences show faith to be true. This fear is your own infirmity, and ranks among the deceiver’s guiles.

Observe, also, presumption has scanty relish in the Word, and draws but little strength from prayer, and warms not in the joys of ordinances. It still seeks pasture amid the weeds and berries of the world. But if you turn dissatisfied from such food, and have no content in anything but Christ–if your constant yearning is for more of His presence–more tokens of His love–more basking in the sunshine of His smiles, you may take comfort. Such are the actings of true faith. Presumption never thirsts for such delights.

The traveler must expect some cloudy days.

So the Christian pilgrim must be prepared for storms. Providences may seem to frown. A great fight of affliction must be endured. As wave succeeds to wave, so trouble may follow trouble. One disappears, another comes, more trying and severe. Sometimes sickness invades the frame–strength languishes–the night brings no repose–the day is wearisome in pain. Sometimes failing health in much-loved friends awakens concern–means of family support are dried–poverty shows its grim form–the cruse of oil runs to its last drop–the barrel of meal is exhausted. Perhaps malicious tongues breathe wicked slanders. Reproach assails the name, and calumny hints opprobrious surmise. Varied miseries assail in turn, and batter with pitiless assault. The disconsolate heart is prone to read in these dealings, signs of heavenly wrath. Gideon’s doubt is felt, “If the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us?”–Judges 6:13. Timidity infers, If God indeed loves me, if rightly I call Him Father, Protector, Friend, why am I thus? If He but speak the word, all pains depart–all peace and joy and blessedness come in. These troubles intimate that I am an alien, and no child.

But all these doubts are prompted by the father of lies. The sun is near, though its rays do not appear. The Father’s love is no inconstancy. These dealings may be real mercies. Have you not read “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.”–Revelation 3:19. He is not the blessed man who never knows, but who endures, temptation–for when he is tried he shall receive the crown of life. Consider the saints of old. May not the present trial be Paul’s thorn? Did not Job suffer more than this? In this affliction may I not be retracing David’s path? A cloud of witnesses have preceded in this road. Many were their afflictions. Did they perish in them? Out of them all the Lord delivered them. Perhaps you cannot read God’s purpose, yet you must trust, and still cry, “It is the Lord; let Him do what seems good to Him.”–1 Samuel 3:18.

Sometimes the wheels move heavily, being clogged by fears of final failure. Intelligence is sound–knowledge illumines the mind–the provisions of the covenant of grace are clearly seen. The work of grace is real. Repentance is deeply felt. Faith tightly grasps the Savior. But the full assurance of hope is not admitted. The feet are in the right path, but clouds obscure the end. There is a lurking dread, lest the vessel, in which Jesus sits, may yet make shipwreck. What! can it be, that they who are born of God should die at last in Satan’s grasp? What! can his breath put out the flame of grace? Can the incorruptible seed decay? Can he who has received everlasting life find it to be everlasting death? Can a son of God–an heir of promise–lapse into a child of perdition? Let not such groundless surmise be entertained.

There would indeed be cause for every fear–there would be slender ground of hope, if saints were left to their own keeping. They would then fall, as Adam fell in Paradise. They would not keep their high estate better than apostate angels kept theirs. But they are secure in the almighty arms of God. Their “life is hidden with Christ in God.”–Colossians 3:3. Christ must be spoiled, and God subdued, and heaven ransacked, before saints can be plucked from their safe custody. They are committed to the guardian-care of God the Holy Spirit. It is a wondrous word–but not more full of marvel than of truth, “I will put My spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you shall keep My judgments and do them–and you shall be My people, and I will be your God.”–Ezekiel 36:27, 28.

When Israel left Egypt, not a hoof might be left behind. Exodus 10:26. The ark stood still in Jordan, until the entire host had passed the stream. The promise provides that all God’s children shall safely reach their home. Christ and His members make one body. If but one member perish, Christ is no longer whole. Christ incomplete is an impossibility. Believer, realize these solid truths. The covenant, which secures salvation to Christ’s seed, includes each member. The portion in Paradise is doubtless more happy, but the militants on earth are equally secure. Cling to Christ, and He will bring you to be with Him where He is.

If fears be thus prone to enter, diligence should bar the portals of the heart against them. The tremblers are weak. Satan knows this and strives to despoil us of our strength. Awake to his stratagems, and vigilantly resist.

  1. With this intent renew repentance daily. Be often in the penitential valley. Cloak not transgressions. Recite with smitten breast the falls which conscience knows. Bewail their multitude and magnitude. The weeping eye sweetly beholds the cross. The humbled heart most quickly hears, “Your sins, which are many, are forgiven–go in peace.” The promises cheer most tenderly such as confess and forsake their sins.
  1. Daily draw near to Christ, as if each day’s approach were a new act. Plead, “Lord, if I never came before, now I lie low at Your feet.” Continually cast yourself into His open arms, and enter by faith into His wounds. Clinging to His side, avow that nothing shall ever part you from His presence. Be assured that oneness thus cemented is oneness for the endless life. Draw near, then, and be happy.
  1. Review the gracious dealings of preceding days. Surely memory’s casket contains many jewels. Let them not lie neglected. Bring them to light and profit by their contemplation. Retrace your journey through the desert land. The guiding pillar has never yet failed. When foes came forth have not your arms been strengthened to win glorious trophies! Think of your many escapes, as a bird from the fowler’s snare. Has not sadness disappeared, when the Sun of righteousness arose with healing in His wings! You have trembled at the thought of hindrance, but the opposing stone was gone when you drew near. –Mark 16:3-4. 

    When sinking in the billows the Savior has held forth His hand, and you sank not. When you were mourning in a captive’s cell, the prison-door flew open untouched. Infuriate Esau has run to your embrace. These sweet Ebenezers are courage for succeeding days. He, who delivers now, and has delivered, will deliver to the end. Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind. Review your mercies and march bravely on.

  1. Soar high on wings of PRAISE. Begin on earth the song of the redeemed. Intermingle now with the harpers harping with their harps. What motives urge you to this melody! What topics of thanksgiving throng around you! Verily, they cannot be exhausted. The bliss of adoration is ever new. The name of Jesus is an ever-budding theme. In it there is melody without end. Without pause praise His salvation. Bless God incessantly that you claim Him as your own–that your feet stand on praising and on praying ground–and that every moment wafts your bark nearer to the shore of ceaseless hallelujahs. In this blissful exercise fears wither. Resolve that these songs shall continually be in your mouth, and happiness will fill your heart.
  1. Never hold parlance with your crafty foe. You cannot sound the depths of his devices. He can transform himself into an angel of light, and can soon bewilder by his subtleties. Answer him not a word. Appeal to your Advocate on high. Fly quickly to His sheltering arms. There nestle as in a mother’s close embrace. The tempter cannot then obtain advantage.

May the loving Spirit so bless these humble words, that they may lead you to be happy among the happiest, ever rejoicing with the sons of joy! It should be so. It is sad shame–it is ingratitude, when they, professing to be Christ’s, weep among the woe-worn and downcast. The spies were punished who brought discouraging report of Canaan’s land. Never misrepresent your gracious Lord. You are high above others in exalted state–in present privilege–in glorious prospect. Be equally high in happy walk–in smiling brow–in glowing lip. Let all observers see the coming glory beaming in your heaven-lit countenance. Let godly words prove that you are upraised from earth. Thus allure others to your happy walk; and until heaven’s portals open to you, sing for very joy at your own heaven’s gate.