“The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him.” - Psalm 25:14
[Skeptics and critics of Christianity] cannot bear to think that those who fear the Lord have reached any attainment beyond themselves, and to which, by any amount of painstaking, they cannot advance. This wounds their pride, and tends to make them uneasy in their alienation from God. They may allow that unusual knowledge is attained by those who are disciples indeed from the direct teaching of Scripture, for this they can hope to imitate. Their own unsanctified knowledge of what is written they can make to appear, to themselves at least, not unlike to what these have obtained immediately from the pages of Scripture. They could hold up their heads among the godly if this were all their attainment. The most convenient way of getting rid of their uneasiness is to regard as superstitious the attainment that is beyond them. They can make out a case, with a plausible surface, in support of their opinion. . . .
To minds that have always kept far off from the realities of a life of godliness, that look from a distance on the communion of His people with the Lord, the difference between the baseless pretensions of deceivers and the God-given privilege of the righteous is utterly impalpable. All kinds of intercourse with the Invisible are classed by these together, and to them all who claim the privilege of communion with the Lord appear as deluded fanatics. More triumphant still is their air, when they can quote, in support of their position, the mistakes of those who were truly godly. But, surely, it is not difficult to discover a very good reason why the Lord should allow even these to be sometimes deceived in their anticipations, and in their readings of the page of Providence. Such mistakes only prove that they are always prone to error, when the correctness of their information specially depends upon their own spirituality. They need to learn this, and their falls will teach them. And their painful experience of the proneness to wander here will help to make all the more precious to them the certainty attaching to what is the standing ground of their hope – a plain “thus saith the Lord,” on some page of Scripture.
There is something, in the more peculiar attainments of the righteous, which excites an unholy and dishonest ambition in those who seek the honor that cometh from man. Men have pretended to know, as others knew not, the mind of the Lord, who exhibited no such difference, between themselves and the world, as there is between him that feareth God and him that feareth Him not. When out of sight they have pretended to be holding converse with God, but their faces did not shine when they came down from the mount. But from him that hath not the true fear of the Lord shall be taken even that which he seems to have. The wise course is to seek to have the fear of God within us, to pray for grace to keep that fear in exercise, and to leave in the hands of Him, who divides to every man severally as He will. . . .
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