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Evidences of Regeneration PDF Print E-mail
Written by J.H. Purifoy   

GOSPEL MESSENGER 

Snow Hill, Ala., June 1, 1879

In order to strengthen the hope of doubting ones, I desire to place before them some of the evidences by which they are to know whether they have passed from death unto life.  Many are in such great doubts of their acceptance with God that they are in great anxiety about it, and long for evidence to decide their doubtful cases.   "Am I His, or am I not?" is a question they often ask themselves.   They are perplexed with the cares of the world; trials and disappointments meet them almost every step; their tempers often get the upper hand of them; evil imaginations, and forebodings of coming evils harass them; they do not begin to live as they wish; all they do is so mixed up with sin that they seem almost ready at times to give up in hopeless despair.  They are so vile and corrupt in their own eyes that they think surely they are still more vile and corrupt in the eyes of the Lord; and they reason thus with themselves, "If I were a child of God I would not be so corrupt; would not see so much vileness in myself; would not be so easily provoked; would not get out of humor so often; and every thing would not go against me as they do.  If I could only be as brother or sister so and so, I would be satisfied."

Dear doubting ones, was there not a time once when you did not appear so corrupt to yourselves? Was there not a time when you said that you were just as good as any body, and a great deal better than many you knew, better even than some of the members of the church of your acquaintance?  You do not draw such comparisons now.  Why?   Each one will answer by saying that it is because he sees himself as worse than all others, and though he does not go into such practices as others, he sees a disposition in him to do things just as wicked, so he cannot make comparisons between himself and others, except to feel and say that he is worse than they are.  You are not really worse than you were before, but you now see your true nature which you once did not see.  You now see yourselves to some extent as God sees our vile nature.  What has brought about this difference?  Why grace.  Divine light has penetrated the dark chambers of the soul by the quickening powers of the Holy Spirit, bringing the dead sinner to life; opening his blinded eyes, recalling self in all its loathsome deformity and conception.  "The blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness"--Isa. xxix. 18.  What shall they see?  Why their depraved wicked natures, their just condemnation, the holiness and purity of God; they see their lost, ruined and helpless condition, and are made to mourn and weep and cry for mercy.  The Lord hears them, for they are as the smoking flax which he will not quench, and as the bruised reed that he will not break.  They are now of a broken spirit and a contrite heart, and such the Lord will not despise.  He has opened their blind eyes, "To bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house."  Nor is this all.  He says, "I will bring the blind by a way they knew not; I will lead them in paths 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."--Isa xlii. 16.  Here then is comforting evidence to doubting ones, and Oh my Father's children, my heart runs out to you in deepest love and sympathy, for I have experienced for myself all that I have written and more too.  I write only that which I know by experience for myself, and not another for me; and now I want to comfort you with the same that comforted me.  You know that you see now as you once did not see.  God gave you that sight.  You know that you have been brought by a way that you knew not formerly, and you know that you are now led in paths not before known to you; your former ways are hateful to you and you abhor self because so much of the old sinful ways still cling to you, but you are in a different path now; one that leads you to desire to live close to God, walk in His ways, and love to be with the Lord's people--a way that is dotted with prayers, tears and sighs; a way of hungering and thirsting after righteousness; a way in which you sometimes have joys that are unspeakable and full of glory, and a way that brings that peace which the world cannot give nor take away.  All this and much more you have experienced.

Well these paths are the paths of the Lord, or the path which "no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture's eye (the eyes of the unregenerate) hath not seen"--Job xxviii. 7, see also Isa. xxxv., beginning at 3rd verse read to end of chapter.  Do you not see, then, how that darkness has been made light before you, and crooked things straight?  The Lord has done all this for you, and now what does he promise further?  "These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them."   "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins, and their iniquities will I remember no more."--Heb. viii. 12.  Do your doubts still linger?  Do you ask for still a stronger convincing and assuring evidence that you are a true child of God?  Well, the Lord knowing before hand all our doubts and fears, has graciously left upon record strong evidences of our acceptance with him in the Beloved.  Besides what has already been given, we have direct evidence; evidence directly to the point.  Says John:  "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.  He that loveth not his brother abideth in death."--1st Jno. iii. 14.  "Ah me!" says one, "I expected to hear evidence so convincing that every doubt would vanish.  I have heard that scripture quoted so often that I gather but little comfort from it, for it don't seem to fit my case exactly.  While I believe I love God's people, at the same time a question arises, 'do I love them with the right kind of love?' and that question has never been fully answered to my mind."  Well, I have been all along there with you, and in trying to answer that question let me ask: Do you doubt loving your parents?  Does the husband doubt loving his wife, or the wife the husband?   Would they not lay down their lives for one another if necessary?  Does the child ever say he hopes he loves his parents?  Do parents ever say the hope they love their children?  Suppose the husband told his wife that he did not know whether he loved her or not, but that he hoped he did, would she not at once conclude, and rightly too, that he did not love her at all?  There are no doubts about these earthly ties.  The question whether you love them with the right kind of love never crosses the mind.  You know that it is the right kind, because they are dearer to you than all other natural ties of affection, and you would sacrifice more for them than anyone else.  Now then is there not a tie the binds you to a people that is stronger that all the ties of natural affection combined, a people whom you love above and beyond all earthly objects?  For whom you are willing not only to suffer all the ills of life, but to die with them, giving up, if need be, all earthly objects rather than disown or forsake them?  What people is this?  Your own heart answers, the Lord's people, the people, whom I love better than life; and as much as I love the company of parents, husband, wife, and children, I love the company of the Lord's people more, far more than them all.  This is evidence that the love is of the right kind. "He the loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me"--Matt. x. 37.  A preacher was once asked how it was that he could sacrifice so much of his time from his wife and children to preach without remuneration --leave his family that was dearly loved and precious to him.   He replied that it was because he was going to see a woman that he loved better than his wife.  In astonishment the questioner asked what he meant.  "I mean," said he, "The Lamb's bride, the church of the living God."  As much as you may doubt, you love the company of God's people above all earthly objects, so that you can joyfully adopt the language and sentiment of the poet when he said,

"Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

Before our Father's throne,
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one,
Our comforts and our cares.

We share our mutual woes,
Our mutual burdens bear,
And oft for each others flows'
The sympathizing tear."

This love, stronger than death, is peculiar, and characteristic alone of God's people.  By it the world itself is made to know the Lord's people from others.   Said the Saviour:  "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."  Another evidence, in the line of direct testimony, of the new birth, is the Spirit bearing witness with our spirits that we are the children of God.  In the very midst of all our doubts there is a little hope of salvation that we prize above all things; and while we may not be fully and clearly able to own it, still we are not able to throw it away.

Then the fear of being lost is gone, and death is not regarded or looked upon with so much dread.  The love of God in the heart by the Holy Ghost has cast out slavish fear that had torment, and thus the Spirit is continually bearing witness with our spirits, assuring us in the face of all our doubts, that we are the Lord's, and in our hearts we cry, "Abba, Father."  "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father."--Gal. iv. 6.

Why doubt in the face of so much testimony?  Your trying to live the life of a Christian from a sense of love to God and his people in your heart is a positive proof in connection with what has already been given, that a change from nature to grace has been effected, and as you grow stronger in your confidence in the Lord, so that you will be troubled less with doubts.  But think not that you will get rid of them entirely while in the flesh.  Perfection of the flesh is not attained to in this life.  Our perfection is in Christ.  Our bodies are to be kept in subjection with the lusts of the flesh thereof, to be presented as living sacrifices while we tabernacle here below.  Until the resurrection our vile bodies must suffer corruption, the flesh warring against the spirit, causing much wretchedness at times, but when our sleeping dust shall awake with the likeness of Jesus, we shall then be fully satisfied.  Soul and body reunited will be perfect then in their glorified state.   The soul born of God has all the assurances necessary to brighten our hopes of a blessed immortality beyond the grave, for that hope is as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, entering to that within the veil where Christ our Lord has entered as our forerunner and High Priest.

J. H. PURIFOY

 

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 05 September 2006 )
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