What ministers and churches were made of: Glimpses into early Welsh Calvinistic Methodism

Taken, adapted and condensed from “Welsh Calvinistic Methodism”
A Historical Sketch of the Presbyterian Church of Wales
Written by William Williams

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Howell Harris was in the habit of attending the parish church at Talgarth on Sabbath morning…

At the close of the service he usually went out and stood on a tombstone, or on the wall of the churchyard, to address the dispersing congregation. On one of those occasions there stood among his audience a young medical student from Carmarthen shire, who was at the time pursuing his studies at the neighboring town of Hay. The words to which he then listened were blessed to his conversion, and he eventually resolved to relinquish his medical studies and to devote himself to the ministry of the gospel.

This young man became one of the mightiest instruments of the revival. He afterwards became known as the Rev. William Williams of Pantycelyn, eminent as a minister of the gospel, but more eminent still as the sacred poet of Wales. Very often in those early days was the smoldering fire which had been kindled by the sermon fanned into a flame by a hymn of Williams’s which was sung at the close. It is not too much to say that his Welsh hymns have never been approached by the productions of any other writer in the language; and now that every denomination has its own hymn-book, the great majority in each selection, including that of the Establishment, are the hymns of William Williams. He also wrote some English hymns, several of which, such as “Guide me, O thou great Jehovah,” and “O’er those gloomy hills of darkness,” are found in very many selections in that language. Mr. Williams took Deacon’s Orders in the Establishment in 1740, but his Church career was a short one. In his first church he gave so much offence that a representation was made to the Bishop, containing no less than nineteen charges against him. One of these was, that he did not use the Sign of the cross in baptism, and another, that he omitted some portions of the service; and another, that he did not confine his ministrations to the church, but went out to the highways and hedges and preached wherever he could get people to hear him. We have not been able to ascertain what were the other sixteen, but it is reasonable to infer that they looked in the same direction as the above three. When he came to the Bishop for his Orders, he was peremptorily refused, and he therefore withdrew from the Establishment and gave himself to work among the Welsh Calvinistic Methodists.

A somewhat later onto the scene was that of the Rev. Peter Williams, a native of Llaugharne in the county of Carmarthen. He was from his early childhood of a serious turn of mind, and was educated for the ministry. While he was a student at Carmarthen College, the renowned George Whitfield came to preach to the town, and so full of prejudice was the tutor against the fanatical preacher,” that he gave strict orders that none of the students should go to hear him. Four young men ventured to disobey this injunction, and one of these was Peter Williams. The sermon so deeply affected him, that he lost all taste for his former amusements, and became so earnestly religious, that he was thenceforth regarded by his tutor and fellow- students as a Methodist.”  –“And their opinion,” he writes, “was sufficient to cover me with eternal disgrace.” He after wards took Orders in the Church, and served several churches for exceedingly brief periods— for his earnest ministry gave such universal dissatisfaction, that he likewise was obliged to withdraw, and fully identify himself with those despised people whose spirit he had already so largely imbibed. These two young men, W. Williams and P. Williams, though they came a few years later on the scene, are always associated the ones that preceded them as the reformers of Wales and the founders of Welsh Calvinistic Methodism.

They were all young men, and so were Whitfield and his colleagues, by whose instrumentality the Lord was, at the same time, carrying on a great work in England. The laborers in the Principality knew nothing of that which was done by their brethren on the other Side of the Severn, but by some means, reports of the former reached the ears of the latter, and in 1738 Howell Harris, to his great delight, received an encouraging letter from George Whitfield, and before the expiration of that year the two met for the first time at Cardiff in Glamorgan shire. When the Welsh brethren were making preliminary arrangements for their first “Association,” which in Wales means the same thing as a General Assembly in Scotland, it was resolved to invite the Rev. G. Whitfield to attend. He acceded to the invitation, and presided at the meetings of the Assembly. This first Association of Welsh Calvinistic Methodists was held at Watford, in the county of Glamorgan, in the year 1742. Besides the chairman, there were present Daniel Rowlands, Howell Harris, W. Williams, J. Powell, and other preachers and exhorters. They were met to devise means to bring the numerous converts which had been already made under some spiritual supervision, and to concert measures for the further extension of the great work; and it is worthy of remark, that all the leading Spirits of this important assembly were young men varying from twenty-one to twenty—nine years of age.

Of the tremendous power of their ministry it is difficult now to form an adequate conception. Howell Harris was a veritable Boanerges (Son of Thunder). We can judge from his portrait that he was a person with a most commanding presence. The owner of those flashing eyes and firmly set mouth was not a man to be trifled with. It was not seldom that thousands in his presence experienced had many of the same sensations as the assembly of Israel at the foot of Sinai. Often there were giants in iniquity, who had come for the express purpose of disturbing the services, made to quail before his fiery glance, or driven home trembling in every limb after listening for a few minutes to the thunder of his voice. A congregation of 2000 people have been known to stand for upwards of two hours in a drenching rain to hear him preach. It is said that during the first few years of his ministry there was scarcely one instance of his preaching without being the means of bringing a number under conviction. For some time he confined his ministry to his own neighborhood. He was afterwards invited to Visit other counties, and soon he extended his travels into North Wales, everywhere lifting his voice like a trumpet against the prevailing irreligion and sin, and apprising the crowds that assembled to hear him of their impending doom. Everywhere he found the people like those of old who dwelt in the land of Zabulon and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, sitting in darkness and in the region and shadow of death; but it was a most unusual thing for him to leave a town, village, or hamlet without leaving behind him the nucleus of a religious community. His indomitable spirit triumphed over the rough usage to which he was exposed by his burning zeal for his Master’s glory and the salvation of immortal souls. And his sufferings were neither light nor few.

On several occasions, Howell Harris, like another apostle, was pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that he despaired even of life when in the hands of an infuriated mob; but after barely escaping alive, with torn raiment and a bruised and bleeding body, he would again fearlessly face the storm. He went to fairs, wakes, and revels to preach the gospel, thus invading the kingdom of darkness, and attacking sin on its own territories. The gentry regarded him as a disturber of the peace, and threatened him with legal proceedings. The clergy looked upon him as a false prophet, and however badly off they might be for sermons, were never at a loss for a text when he was in the neighborhood. The mob regarded him as a defenseless individual, whom they could have the inexpressible delight of belaboring with impunity to their hearts’ content – and they often did so without mercy. But it was useless to attempt by any such means to arrest him in his mighty career. Often while he was addressing an assembly in the open air did a magistrate appear on the scene, commanding the crowd to disperse, and enforcing his orders with the reading of the Riot Act. Harris would reply to the magnate by reading the sentence pronounced by the Judge of all upon his own guilty soul.

When the rabble hooted him, his voice was heard above their loudest howls, telling them of judgment to come. When dragged about and beaten by a mob maddened by drink, and by devils, he preached between the blows, and urged his savage assailants to hasten their escape from the stormy wind and tempest. Such is a faint picture of this extraordinary man. He believed and therefore spoke, and with such power and effect that many thousands in the Principality of Wales were turned to righteousness.

However, as powerful a Christian as Harris was, Rowlands was by far the greater preacher. Harris never made a sermon. He made it a point to abstain from formal premeditation, but spoke as he was moved and enabled at the time. Rowlands, on the contrary, carefully prepared, and his published sermons are full of matter, and of matter forcibly and eloquently arranged. He possessed extraordinary powers of mind, and was a speaker of unsurpassed eloquence; but after all, the secret of his tremendous power must be sought for in the depth and intensity of his own religious convictions. On Sabbath mornings he generally rose early, and as much as possible avoided conversation, even with his most intimate friends; but on some occasions, when his studies had been unsuccessful, it was difficult to get him out of his bed in time before the service. He was then “unwell, could not preach without any message from God to the people.” Sometimes his servant had to help him in a half -fainting condition from his house to the pulpit, but once there he was at home; and it has been observed that it was on such occasions he usually preached with the greatest power.

The people could see that he intensely felt all he said. Once in his prayer before sermon, while dwelling on the sufferings of the Savior for us, he seemed to have Him before his eye, and exclaimed, “Oh, those emptied veins Oh, that pallid countenance!” and then, overwhelmed by emotion, he fainted away. After a while he recovered, and mighty indeed was the sermon that followed. Howell Harris’s ministry for many years was wholly itinerant, but Rowlands, having a regular charge, confined his labors chiefly to Llangeitho, though he made occasional evangelistic tours to other districts, and from time to time visited every part of the Principality. But his ministry at Llangeitho alone exerted a mighty influence far and wide, for it soon began to attract hearers from the most distant parts of Wales. It was by no means an uncommon thing to see as many as thirty of the people of Bala, which is above Sixty miles distant from Llangeitho, among his congregation on Sabbath morning. Those people started early on Saturday morning, each taking with him the provision necessary for the journey. There were well – known halting- places on the road, —on the banks of streams, from which they could moisten their morsel, and there they sat and refreshed themselves. They travelled far into the night, got a few hours’ rest in such places as they could find, started again with the early dawn, and were right glad if they could reach Llangeitho in time for the morning service.

On their pilgrimage homewards they had something to talk of— the sermons to which they had listened on the preceding day; and often was the resting place by the brook was a veritable Bethel, and echoed the sounds of joy and praise. On one occasion forty-five people from Carnarvon went towards Llangeitho by sea as far as Aberystwyth, where they left the Ship, intending to return in the same manner. But by Monday the wind had Shifted, and they were obliged to walk the whole distance, which could not be much short of a hundred miles. On their journey homewards their large number created quite a sensation in the towns and Villages through which they passed. At Aberdovey they were recognized as “Methodists,” and hooted well as they passed. At Towyn, the population came out to meet them, and attempted to prevent them from passing through the place. At Barmouth, which they reached against night, in a pelting storm, some of them found accommodation in the town, while others were lodged in farm -houses farther on. One house in the town, at which they had been angrily refused, took fire, and was completely destroyed before the morning. Resuming their journey next day, they had to pass through Harlech, and here the people rose enmasse to stone them. Some were struck in their heads and badly wounded; and one man was so injured by a blow on his foot that he was lame for weeks. This incident will give an idea of the burning zeal of the early Calvinistic Methodists, and of the inveterate hatred with which they were regarded by the great mass of the people.

A large number of the early converts being men of some talent, felt it to be their duty to preach unto others that gospel which they had found so precious themselves. They were for the most part men of little education, who scarcely knew anything of any book in existence but the Welsh Bible; but they preached wherever they could find an opening, and were known and recognized, not as ministers, but as exhorters.” Numbers of these, from every part of Wales, congregated at Llangeitho on the monthly Sabbath. The effect of this periodical contact with the ministry of Rowlands was most beneficial to themselves, and by their means his ministry t old on the whole of the Principality. They caught the fire themselves, and, like Samson’s foxes, spread it throughout the length and breadth of the land.

It is not strange, therefore, that their labors produced great results. In 1742, six years from the beginning of the movement, we find that there were laboring in conjunction with the episcopally ordained clergy, who by this time had become ten in number, as many as forty exhorters. We have no more statistics of that date, but we find that by 1744, two years later, there had been formed, in South Wales alone, 140 “Societies,” which in process of time came to be designated as Churches.

As churches and districts became established, overseers were required to furnish a periodical report to the Association of the districts or subdistricts, as the case might be. The following is an example:

DEAR BRETHREN IN THE LORD, 

This is to inform you what a wide door has been opened unto me by the Almighty God in the Societies named underneath, and what successful progress the gospel makes among them. I verily believe that they excel every other part which is known to me in the Principality of Wales, in love to God and His gospel, in their carefulness to walk in accordance with its precepts, as well as in their unity with each other: not being persecuted or disturbed by any, excepting a little persecution that happened lately at Lampeter, in the county of Cardigan. While the members of the Society were together Singing psalms and praying to God, a Justice of the Peace, with his servants, came upon them to disturb them, and the man who was praying at the time was taken prisoner; but through the providence of God the persecution has somewhat moderated, and the prisoner has been set at liberty, but the Justices continue their threatening’s.

Cayo Society contains 60 members, 27 of whom enjoy liberty, the others are under the law.
Talley Society contains 68 members, 24 of whom have obtained deliverance through Christ, the others are under the law. William John, exhorter; Thomas Griffith, steward.
Llangathen Society contains 14 members, 5 of whom are free in Christ, and the others under the law. Morris John, exhorter.
Llanfynydd Society contains 54 members, 23 of whom are free in Christ, and the others under the law. Morris John is exhorter here also.
Llansawel Society contains 47 members, 18 of whom are free in Christ, and the others under the law. Joseph John, exhorter, and John David, steward.
Cilycwm Society contains 26 members; 9 free, and the others under the law. John Thomas, exhorter, and Isaac David, steward.
Lampeter Society contains 28 members; 13 free, and the others under the law. “David Williams, an exhorter at Llanfynydd, has left me and gone to keep a school. Thomas John has not been settled in any place.

This from your fellow-traveler and unworthy brother in Christ,

JAMES WILLIAMS.

Sometimes these reports descended to even more minute details. Take the following examples:

Builth Society— Thomas James, overseer; Thomas Bowen, exhorter.

Thomas James, a full and abiding testimony.
Thomas Bowen, enjoying much liberty.
Evan Evans, having obtained a testimony, but weak in grace.
Sarah Williams justified, and coming out of the furnace.
Sarah Jones, a full testimony, but under heavy bondage.
Ann Baisdel, a sweet experience, but yet weak.
Mary Bowen, seeking the Lord Jesus in earnest.”

Etc., etc.

So it was at the time, and so it continued for many years afterwards.

Able men were willing and anxious to devote all their time and energies to the service of the cause, but the Societies were either unable or indisposed to give them the means of living, and they were therefore obliged to turn for subsistence to other sources. These good man, after itinerating for long periods of time, often for twenty-five years or more, would eventually settle down as Independent Ministers, but at the same time they would retained as long as they would live, their connection with the Calvinistic Methodists.

The Most Remarkable Event

Taken and adapted from, “THE MOST REMARKABLE EVENT”
Written by A.W. Pink

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 “Great is the mystery of godliness”
1 Timothy 3:16

Amazing beyond all finite conception is that transaction that was consummated at Golgotha!

There we behold the Prince of Life dying. There we gaze upon the Lord of Glory made a spectacle of unutterable shame. There we see the Holy One of God made sin for His people. There we witness the Author of all blessing made a curse for worms of the earth. It is the mystery of mysteries that He Who is none other than Immanuel, should stoop so low as to join the infinite majesty of Deity with the lowest degree of abasement that was possible to descend into. He could not have gone lower and be God. Well did the Puritan, Richard Sibbes say,

“God, to show His love to us, showed Himself God in this: that He could be God and go so low as to die.”

To what source then can we appeal for light, for understanding, for an explanation and interpretation of the Cross? Human reasoning is futile, speculation is profane, the opinions of men are worthless. Thus, we are absolutely shut up to what God has been pleased to make known to us in His Word…

The plan of redemption, the office of our Surety, and the satisfaction that He rendered to the claims of justice against us have no parallel in the relations of men to one another. We are carried above the sphere of the highest relations of created beings into the [majestic] counsels of the eternal and independent God.

Shall we bring our own line to measure them? We are in the presence of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—one in perfection, will, and purpose. If the righteousness of the Father demands a sacrifice, the love of the Father provides it. But the love of the Son runs parallel with that of the Father; and not only in the general undertaking, but also in every act of it we see the Son’s full and free consent. In the whole work, we see the love of the Father as clearly displayed as the love of the Son. And again, we see the Son’s love of righteousness and hatred of iniquity as clearly displayed as the Father’s, in that work of which it was impossible to tell whether the manifestation of love or righteousness is most amazing. In setting out upon the undertaking, we hear the Son say with loving delight, “Lo, I come to do Thy will.” –Hebrews 10:7, 9

As He contemplates its conclusion, we hear Him say, “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.” –John 10:17 They are one in the glorious manifestation of common perfections and in the joy of all the blessed results. The Son is glorified by all that is for the glory of the Father.

And while, in the consummation of this plan, the wisdom of God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—shall be displayed, as it could not otherwise have been, to the principalities and powers in heavenly places. Ruined man will be exalted in Christ to heights of glory and bliss otherwise unattainable.

What Kind of Faith, James?

Written by Warren E. Berkley
Taken and adapted from Expository Files 5.6; June 1998
An Expository Sermon on James 2:14-26

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We often say that man’s problem is sin and God’s solution is the gospel of Christ…

…and I believe that’s exactly what the Bible says. As we develop this and study and talk to our friends, it is necessary to focus on faith – and especially the response of faith that is essential to be saved. For instance, in Eph. 2:8 – “…by grace have you been saved through faith…” By grace, God offers to sinners the gift of salvation; that offer is based on what Jesus did for us. By faith, we accept or receive that gift. Simple.

How does the Bible describe this faith? What is faith — what is involved? Are we talking about simple mental agreement with a set of propositions? Are we talking about a feeling that Jesus is your Savior? Are we talking about trust that produces action in the form of obedience?

These are not just questions or issues for theologians to debate, and these are not mysterious, unanswered problems. These questions are relevant to the needs of every person who has ever sinned – and who now wants to be saved. And, there is an abundance of passages in the New Testament designed to instruct us about what faith is, and how faith behaves.

Please read James 2:14-26.

“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe; and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

Before we explore the details of this text – I think it will help to deal with three fundamental questions:

  • WHAT IS FAITH
  • WHAT DOES FAITH DO, and WHAT KIND OF LIFE DOES FAITH PRODUCE ??
  • WHAT IS FAITH?

Faith is confidence or trust we place in another.

In the case of God and our Savior, Jesus Christ – faith means we are convinced that there is a God; we are persuaded that He knows best, and in regard to Jesus – we believe He is who He claims to be, He has the power to save us — and everything He said about everything is the truth!

When I consider examples of faith in the Old Testament – as reflected in Hebrews eleven; when I read what Jesus said about faith, then study the book of Acts, I’m persuaded: Faith means we are convinced that there is a God; we are persuaded that He knows best, and in regard to Jesus – we believe He is who He claims to be, He has the power to save us – and everything He said about everything is the truth! Our next question is –

WHAT DOES FAITH DO?

And the answer can be found in Heb. 11:1 — Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Heb. 11:1, NKJV). Faith stands under – that is, faith is THE SUB-STANCE of those things we hope for – that’s what faith does. And faith convinces us or affords the evidence of things not seen. The third question is:

WHAT KIND OF LIFE DOES FAITH PRODUCE ??

Faith in God and faith in Christ produces a manner of life that is in harmony with the will of God and Christ. So faith — from beginning to end — is active; it produces a particular manner of life, develops and nurtures our character and gives us an anxious and favorable attitude toward every command and requirement of God.

And that’s really what James wants to say to us. He wants to be sure Christians understand that the faith that saves is an active, obedient faith! This faith – the faith that saves – disposes us in a friendly and favorable way toward everything God has said. Faith always discovers its’ existence in obedience.

Earlier, James warned about the man who thinks he is religious, but he does not bridle his tongue. Likewise – he warned about the person who is a hearer of the word, but not a doer. Now – he just comes out and deals with this matter in the plainest possible way.

This is about THE DAILY PRACTICE of being A Christian — if I have FAITH … faith in God, faith in Christ – I WILL LIVE A CERTAIN WAY…

  • I will be a doer.
  • I will bridle my tongue.
  • I will not show favoritism.

I will so speak and so do – as one who will be judged by the perfect law of liberty. Through the book of James there is this emphasis on the activity, the conduct, the behavior of those who have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s explore the passage, and see what James has to say about FAITH ONLY.

He tells us eight things about FAITH ONLY:

  • A Faith that does not result in obedience, is not profitable (illustrated, 15-16). Certainly this tells us something about compassion; about generosity or charity; just telling somebody to be OK, but not giving them the help we are able to give — that betrays a lack of compassion. That’s nothing but empty symbolism. It doesn’t help me, and it certainly does no real good for the person who is suffering – when I just walk by and say, “be ye warmed and filled.” But that also illustrates FAITH WITHOUT WORKS: if I say I have faith, but there is no expression of it, IT DOES NOT PROFIT. It is nothing but religious symbolism or lip service – to say we have faith, when there is no expression of it in our behavior. Jesus taught this, in Matt. 7:21-23; listen to what He said …

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Jesus and James agreed that faith, even when confessed and claimed – faith without works does not profit.

  • A Faith that does not result in obedience, does not save (Verse 14). “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?” The obvious and implied answer to this is – faith without works does not save. Does the Bible say anything about “faith only?” It does. It says faith only DOES NOT SAVE … any questions? Now, you may pick up a religious tract or magazine and over and over it is affirmed that we are saved by FAITH ONLY. You may turn on your television and watch and hear a preacher say this. What is your impression when you compare what these men preach to James 2:14? My conclusion is – they are wrong, and James is right — faith only does not save.
  • A Faith that does not result in obedience, is dead (verses. 17,20,26). Verse 17 – “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” Verse 20 – “But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” Verse 26 – “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” You want to ask James, how many times do you need to say this? Three times in one paragraph James tells us that faith without works … faith only is dead! Here is something that is written into denominational creeds – this is the mantra of the modern evangelical church; you hear this on religious radio programs all the time – WE ARE SAVED BY FAITH ONLY. James says – faith only is dead! Can you think of any way the Holy Spirit could have worded this – to make it plainer??
  • A Faith that does not result in obedience, cannot be proved (v.18). “But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (Jas. 2:18, NKJV).The meaning of this verse seems plain. Faith is SHOWN; faith is EXPRESSED OR MADE REAL by action. FAITH ALWAYS DISCOVERS ITS EXISTENCE IN OBEDIENCE. Faith is shown by works.
  • A Faith that does not result in obedience, is no more than the faith that the demons have (v.19). “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe–and tremble!” I have had occasion to talk to people about religion – about God and their duty – and often in such discussions – somebody will say: “Well, I believe in God!” And the implication is, that’s really all that’s necessary. I have not obeyed the gospel; no repentance – I don’t go do anything; my life is pretty well lived as I see fit … I have my vices …. BUT, I believe in God. James says – so do the demons!
  • A Faith that does not result in obedience, did not justify Abraham (21,22). All through the life of Abraham it is apparent, he heard, believed and obeyed God. He made mistakes, without any doubt. His mistakes are openly documented on the pages of Genesis. But the general tendency and direction of his heart and life was to believe and obey God. Here in Jas. 2:21,22 James makes reference to a particular event: when Abraham “offered Isaac his son,” and this takes us back to Genesis 22. Read that chapter and notice The verbs … the words indicating ACTION.

So Abraham becomes the classic example of faith that produces works.

At this point in this discussion someone might want to ask about Romans chapter four. All right, read Rom. 4:19-21, pay attention to how Paul describes the faith of Abraham – and ask yourself this: IS PAUL DESCRIBING A DISOBEDIENT MAN? He was “not weak in faith … he did not waver … he was strengthened in faith and was fully persuaded.”

Is this a description of a man with dead faith?

  • Faith without works is imperfect (22). Verse 22 – “Do you see that faith was working together with this works, and BY WORKS FAITH WAS MADE PERFECT?” All right – if by works, faith is made perfect … when there are no works, the faith is imperfect.
  • It is not accounted as righteousness (23). Verse 23  – And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.”

Abraham was considered righteous, and was called the friend of God by what kind of faith?

In verses 24-26 James states his conclusions about faith only.  “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only,” (24). Verse 25 – – “Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?” James does not approve of being a harlot, and he doesn’t comment on her methods … he gives her as an example of believing something, and then acting on that belief. This is an illustration of faith that responds, not a model of behavior in every respect. Verse 26 – “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

Finally I want to say, what James teaches in chapter two, not only agrees perfectly with Paul in Romans 4 — but also, with Simon Peter in Acts ten, who said …

“In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. “But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. (Acts 10:34,35, NKJV).

The harlot in your bosom!

Taken and adapted from, “The Godly Man’s Picture Drawn with a Scripture Pencil”
Written by  Thomas Watson
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“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” –Hebrews 12:1

There is usually one sin that is the favorite…

…It is the sin which the heart is most fond of. A godly man will not indulge his darling sin: “I kept myself from my iniquity.” (Psalm 18:23). “I will not indulge the sin to which the bias of my heart more naturally inclines.”

“Fight neither with small nor great — but only with the king.” (1 Kings 22:31). A godly man fights this king sin. If we would have peace in our souls, we must maintain a war against our favorite sin, and never leave off until it is subdued.

Question:  How shall we know what our beloved sin is?

Answer 1.  The sin which a man does not love to have reproved…

…That is the darling sin. Herod could not endure having his incest spoken against. If the prophet meddles with that sin — it shall cost him his head! “Do not touch my Herodias!” Men can be content to have other sins reproved — but if the minister puts his finger on the sore, and touches this sin — their hearts begin to burn in malice against him!

Answer 2. The sin on which the thoughts run most…

…That is the darling sin. Whichever way the thoughts go, the heart goes. He who is in love with a person cannot keep his thoughts off that person. Examine what sin runs most in your mind, what sin is first in your thoughts and greets you in the morning — that is your predominant sin.

Answer 3. The sin which has most power over us, and most easily leads us captive…

…That is the one beloved by the soul. There are some sins which a man can better resist. If they come for entertainment, he can more easily put them off. But the bosom sin comes as a suitor, and he cannot deny it — but is overcome by it. The young man in the Gospel had repulsed many sins — but there was one sin which soiled him, and that was covetousness.

Mark what sin you are most readily led captive by…

That is the harlot in your bosom! It is a sad thing that a man should be so bewitched by lust, that if it asks him to part with the Kingdom of Heaven — he must part with it, to gratify that lust!

Answer 4. The sin which men most defend…

…That is the beloved sin. He who has a jewel in his bosom, will defend it to his death. The sin we advocate and dispute for, is the besetting sin. The sin which we plead for, and perhaps wrest Scripture to justify it — that is the sin which lies nearest the heart.

Answer 5. The sin which a man finds most difficulty in giving up…

…That is the endeared sin. Of all his sons, Jacob found most difficulty in parting with Benjamin. So the sinner says, “This and that sin I have parted with — but must Benjamin go! Must I part with this delightful sin? That pierces my heart!” A man may allow some of his sins to be demolished — but when it comes to one sin — that is the taking of the castle; he will never agree to part with that! That is the master sin for sure.

The besetting sin is, of all others, most dangerous. As Samson’s strength lay in his hair — so the strength of sin lies in this beloved sin. This is like a poison striking the heart, which brings death.

A godly man will lay the axe of repentance to this sin and hew it down! He will sacrifice this Isaac; he will pluck out this right eye — so that he may see better to go to Heaven.