You have read the history of Job, how that Satan desired to sift him as wheat is sifted, affirming that he would make him curse God to his face, and that God granted his request, so far as to suffer his infernal majesty to do his utmost to make Job curse God. But was this to satisfy Satan, or torture Job? No; though no doubt it did both; but to show that wherever God has put his life, it is out of the power of the devil to remove it; and though Beelzebub, with all the soldiers under his command, blew into Job all their infernal venom, yet God held him up, and would not let him curse him; and though Job cursed a variety of things, the Lord preserved him from cursing his God. Job, at that time, appears to have been in a dreadfully hot fire, and Satan blew it into a horrible blaze, yet he could not make him curse God. By and by, we find Job with his hand upon his mouth, crying out, “Behold, I am vile!” And I believe Job had never more holiness in him than he had then.
The Lord’s eyes are continually upon us, to watch over and keep us, notwithstanding our unbelief. The great point, therefore, is, are we righteous? A man may have a great zeal for what he may call his holy Church, and even fight and bleed for it, and yet not be righteous; he may have a kind of humility and repentance, and yet not be righteous. Judas repented, and threw down the money, saying, “I have betrayed innocent blood;” but we know the place he went to. He may give his assent and consent to all the doctrines of the Bible, even to regeneration being the special work of God the Holy Ghost, to sanctification being the absolute act of a Triune God, to the resurrection of the dead, &c. &c., and yet have no vitality. He may, from constant hearing or reading, patch up an experience and be able to state it very clearly, and yet never feel it. Numbers have by this means crept into the church below, deceiving them, and ultimately causing them agony, by turning out despicable characters. Nay, they may be thought so highly of as to have great trust placed in them by the church. Judas deceived the apostles, even to that degree that they entrusted him with the purse; but he never deceived Christ. He knew who would betray him. Further. Ho may stand up to preach, preach the truth, and preach it in a masterly manner, and expose error in its various branches, and yet never experience the power of it in his conscience by the blessed Spirit.
Then what docs constitute a man righteous? Why, say you, I suppose, real grace in the heart, real obedience, &c. No, they do not. This is only like sending down, as it were, a copy of the title deed, not the deed itself. They are proofs that he is righteous; but the fact of his being righteous is another thing. Ho is constituted righteous by being interested in the precious blood and righteousness of Christ, having his obedience, &c., placed to his account; and here he stood justified before all worlds.
Perhaps some poor trembling sinner says he wants the manifestation of it. I know he does. Well, if ever he obtains it, most likely he will soon after have to feel many things very trying to his flesh. Says the poor soul, “What will they be?” Why, the blessed Spirit, by his quickening power, will put him out of conceit with himself, with his holiness, his duties, his sins, and everything else he has, and thus take all his strength from him. God help you to have no strength; then his strength will be made perfect in your weakness. Professors may gallop; but God’s children have often to go upon crutches; and sometimes, poor things, down they come, crutches and all. Good works and bad works of their own are all alike to them, in this respect.—Manchester, 1838.
William Gadsby (1773-1844) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher, writer and philanthropist.