Mr Erskine, it is evident, clearly discerned the sanctifying, as well as the consoling power of the cross. Of this, the following lively passage affords still further proof. Having referred to a discovery of the grace of God in Christ, by which his fears were dispelled, he thus continues: “My soul wondered at the height, the depth, the breadth and the length of His love in Christ. I saw His righteousness to be a broad, everlasting righteousness, sufficient to justify ten thousand millions of worlds, being the righteousness of God. On this blessed bottom I rest and roll my soul for ever and ever. On this blessed foundation do I build all my hope. O shall ever such a mass of iniquity as I am be admitted to behold the glory of the Lamb, and sing hallelujahs unto Him with the rest of the redeemed company? If I were sure to be with Him where He is and to be eternally rid of sin, I would be glad, glad that my soul this moment should break prison and fly out of the clay tabernacle in which it is cooped up.
“Words cannot tell the longing that I find in my soul after the immediate enjoyment of the blessed Jesus. I hope that time shall come, because He gives, I think, some of the earnests of it, and because He will satisfy the longing soul and fill the hungry with good things. Christ is the copestone of my happiness. The only thing that mars my comfort and mixes my wine with water and gives a dash to my hopes is the prevalence of sin. I am led captive by it. I am afraid that I do not walk after the Spirit but after the flesh. But this I can say, that I would fain be rid of the body of sin. If my worthless heart do not deceive me, I desire to receive Christ for sanctification, as well as for justification. O to have His law written on my heart as with a pen of iron, as with the point of a diamond.”
“It pleased the Lord,” says he again, “to bruise Him as our Surety. O how bitter should this make sin to me, that it is so hateful to my covenanted God, and to my blessed Redeemer, who suffered so much for it. I thought with myself, Who would not love such a blessed one, and who would not obey Him who shed the warm blood of His heart for love to lost sinners? O that my soul may be changed into His image. O that I may have it for my heaven through eternity to behold, admire and praise Him. What a sweet sight will it be to see Him who was dead and is alive and lives for evermore!”
1. An extract from The Life and Diary of Ebenezer Erskine, by Donald Fraser. The three-volume set of The Works of Ebenezer Erskine is now available. They may be obtained from the Free Presbyterian Bookroom, and elsewhere, at £55. Free Presbyterian Publications regret the delay in the appearance of these volumes. Erskine has been described as “the most powerful and popular preacher” among the first generation in the Secession Church in Scotland. He died in 1754, aged 73, in the fifty-first year of his ministry.