The conversion of Rev. Christopher Munro
The following piece, from Memorials of the late Rev. Christopher Munro, is part of his short “Autobiography of Religious Experience”. Ed.
IN the 24th of that month [that is, October 1840; he was then 23], I felt in such a dreadful condition and tumult of soul in consequence of blasphemous thoughts against God, and even a desire, could I accomplish it, to deprive Him of His being that I thought all the sins of the lost in hell could not equal mine. Hell had no more terrors for me, since it appeared to me that my condition was more intolerable than theirs, and that its torments had already taken possession of my soul. I continued thus the whole day and the greater part of the night, when I became a little tranquil and fell asleep.
On arising I attempted to pray, but could find no utterance; and, while in the attitude of prayer, the fact that I was a condemned sinner because of my relation to Adam appeared for the first time in a convincing light to me. Formerly my conviction arose from a sense of depravity and of inability to fulfil the law, but now the reason of this was made clear to me. I saw that I was born in sin, and a child of wrath, under a just sentence of condemnation.
In this state of mind I went that day, being Sabbath, to church, and it happened that a stranger supplied the pulpit. He preached from the text, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost,” and the reading of the text, and the sermon delivered, imparted a new idea to my mind, for I understood, in some measure what was dark to me before. I had been perplexing myself as to the qualifications required by sinners ere they were in a fit state to receive Christ, but now I saw that God looked for no qualification in any sinner, and that the express purpose of the Saviours mission was to save such as had no qualification whatever in themselves, but were utterly lost.
Whereupon I found myself relieved of a burden had been perplexing myself as to the qualifications required by sinners ere they were in a state to receive Christ, but now I saw that God looked for no qualification in any sinner, and that the express purpose of the Saviours mission was to save such as had no qualification whatever in themselves, but were utterly lost. Whereupon I found myself relieved of a burden, but the relief amounted only to this, that I perceived that Christ came to save the lost, and that I knew I was lost, and therefore one of the class whom He came to save, but as yet I felt not that I had any interest in that salvation. I came home less burdened, however.
When praying, in the evening, I felt my mind again directed to the Covenant of Grace and its provisions, to the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ, then to my own lost condition, of which I got such a view that I thought there was not a hairbreadth between me and eternal ruin. When in this state, I thought this passage of Scripture was vocally addressed to me, “Him that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out,” and at the same time I felt willing to accept of a free and unconditional offer of salvation. On the one hand, the provision was laid before me, and its adaptation to my lost and undone condition; on the other hand, I saw my warrant to avail myself of that provision, inasmuch as no exception was made with regard to any one who but came, for in the words, “Him that cometh to Me”, Christ expressed His willingness and readiness to accept any who came.
I saw then that the invitation here given was unlimited, and that the offer of salvation was unconditional as far as any merit on the part of the sinner was concerned. I felt as if the invitation were personally addressed to me, and as if I were expressly, and by name, invited to come and take freely the grant of salvation of which I stood so much in need; and I felt as if I could not but acquiesce in that salvation and accept of it on the terms of the Gospel, that is, as a lost sinner, of whom was required but a cordial reception.
Upon this I felt myself as indeed delivered “from the lowest hell”, my bonds of despair loosed, and my spirit set free from the entangling intricacies into which my old-covenant views had led me for until now I had no clear and Scriptural idea of the method of justification by free grace through Christ Jesus. For the present all my doubts were put to silence, my unbelief was chased away, so that I believed the Word, felt its power and reality, and gave credence to it as truly spoken by God. I saw that faith consisted in simply trusting in the truths of the Gospel; and that receiving Christ was a cordial reliance on what is spoken in the Scriptures, a persuasion that He spoke the truth, and that He will infallibly accomplish what He has declared. Formerly, I had been perplexed as to the nature of saving faith, imagining it to be something very mysterious and incomprehensible, but now I saw it consisted in giving credit to the truth of Gods Word and trusting to Christ alone for salvation.
This trust I felt myself enabled to exercise, from whence flowed joy unspeakable, inexpressible wonder and amazement at finding myself introduced into such a new state. Everything now seemed to wear a different aspect, Scripture afforded strong consolation, for Christ appeared throughout it all in His beauty and excellency, in His power and readiness to save. On every word recorded as spoken by Him, there seemed to be impressed, “I am willing, I am ready, and powerful to save. Salvation is free to all to the chief of sinners.” The material creation seemed full of God, every creature to declare His existence, power, wisdom, and goodness, and this filled my soul with sentiments of gratitude and love; sin appeared to be exceeding sinful and hateful, and holiness the only thing desirable. My greatest comfort now was the belief that there was a God who was faithful, true, just, and merciful, whose character is all emblazoned with love; I saw no terror in Him, through Christ, because that in Him, the Beloved, Gods anger is turned away. I wondered at my stupidity in ever doubting His being, and in questioning His truth and sincerity, and I abhorred myself on account of my conduct. The sight of my sins was accompanied with a humbling and melting of soul, a hatred of sin in itself, and a vehement desire to be holy as God is holy.
Believing that the capacity and inclination I now felt to believe and to receive Christ was the effect of infinite power exercised sovereignly towards me, I was filled with astonishment at the richness of that grace and the freeness of that love which move d God to look on a monster of unbelief, and to beget love to Himself in a heart that was full of iniquity. I reproached myself for having spent so long a period in ignorance of God and in a state of enmity to Him, for having neglected so great a salvation and despised so infinitely precious a Saviour, and that the Divine patience so long borne with me filled me with deep amazement.