Morbid Introspection & Mysticism, Twins of Experiential Pride

Obadiah 3

The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): There is a certain breed of Calvinists, whom I do not envy, who are always jeering and sneering as much as ever they can at the full assurance of faith. I have seen their long faces; I have heard their whining periods, and read their dismal sentences, in which they say something to this effect—“Groan in the Lord alway, and again I say, groan! He that mourneth and weepeth, he that doubteth and feareth, he that distrusteth and dishonoureth his God, shall be saved.” That seems to be the sum and substance of their very ungospel-like gospel. But why is that they do this?

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Faulty teaching, perhaps, or because of their temperament, because they look so much at their own imperfections.

C. H. SPURGEON: I speak now honestly and fearlessly. It is because there is a pride within them—a conceit which is fed on rottenness, and sucks marrow and fatness out of putrid carcasses. And what is the object of their pride? Why, the pride of being able to boast of a deep experience—the pride of being a blacker, grosser, and more detestable backslider than other people. “Whose glory is in their shame,” may well apply to them. A more dangerous, because a more deceitful pride than this is not to be found. It has all the elements of self-righteousness in it.

WILLIAM GURNALL:Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him,” Proverbs 26:12. That is, there is more hope of persuading him. Of all fools, the conceited fool is the worst. Pride makes a man incapable of receiving counsel…There is no reasoning with a proud man. He castles himself in his own opinion of himself, and there stands upon his defence against all arguments that are brought.

C. H. SPURGEON: I would sooner a man boast in his good works than boast in his good feelings, because you can deal with the man who boasts in his good works, you have plain texts of Scripture, and you convict him of being a legalist; but this other man boasts that he is no legalist; he can speak very sharply against legality; he knows the truth, and yet the truth is not in him, in its spirit, because still he is looking to his feelings, and not looking to the finished work of Christ.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: There is a wrong way of examining ourselves, as well as a right way. The right way, of course, is the one that is indicated in the Scriptures, and that always leads to a good result; the wrong way lead to morbidity and to a false introspection.  This is a very subtle matter, but there are many good people today in the Christian Church, who are absolutely orthodox, who are concerned about self-examination, but they are utterly paralyzed, and they are quite useless, because, in a sense, they do nothing else.

ROWLAND HILL (1744-1833): There cannot be religion without feeling: how can you pray without feeling your wants?  How can you fear without feeling your danger?  How can you love without feeling the object lovely?  If you cry out, “Oh, the remains of my corruptions,” cry on: God loves to hear such cries.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: But what you must never do is sit in a corner going round and round in that whirlpool, that vortex of failure and defeat and self-condemnation. Introspection and morbidity are wrong, and indeed sinful, and the Christian has no right to be depressed in that way. Deliverance comes as you realize what the devil is trying to do with you, and that he has blinded you temporarily to justification by faith only. Justification by faith is always the place where you can get a foothold. Whenever you find yourself slipping down that slope of depression, the place which you will always recover stability and get a foothold is justification by faith only.  It defeats most of the wiles of the devil. Let us then be very certain about this, for it is the royal remedy, the invariably successful remedy against morbidity and introspection.

C H. SPURGEON: Of all the Diabolians that ever stole into the city of Mansoul, Mr. Live-by-feeling was one of the worst of villains, though he had the fairest face…You are justified by faith, not by feelings; you are saved by what Christ felt for you, not by what you feel; the root and basis of salvation is the cross, and “other foundation shall no man lay than that which is laid;” even though he place his experience there, he builds “wood, hay, and stubble,” and not the corner stone, which is Christ Jesus…Put no trust in frames and feelings―Faith can build on a “thou hast said it;” but it cannot build on frames and feelings, on dreams and experiences.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Rest not on your feelings and experiences but on the written Word.

JOHN BRADFORD (1510-1555): Faith must go before, and then feeling will follow.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: This is a vital, essential aspect of the Christian life; but the devil tends to drive some [people] so far along that line that they tend to ignore the written Word…Put your emphasis on feeling, upon the “felt” aspect, and you are already in danger of degenerating into mysticism, or into a false asceticism, or into a kind of “illuminism.” And all these, of course, have made their appearance in history―there was much trouble in this respect during the Commonwealth under Cromwell. Certain sections of the Puritan movement were attacked by the devil along this line. Such people as the “Fifth Monarchy” men, and the people who came to be known as Quakers, are all illustrations of this. Their teaching, in general, was that nothing matters but what they call the Inner Light, the Spirit within you. Under the influence of the wiles of the devil, they tended to be carried off to such extremes that they lived solely on their feelings, on their impulses, on what they called their “leadings,” on impressions on their spirits. They say, “I suddenly felt; I was suddenly led; an impression was made upon my mind.”

This is a tendency for certain churches and individuals to fall into the same error at the present time. The result is that they tend to lose any sense of discrimination. They act solely on impulses, feelings, leadings, and impressions.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): We never rely with sufficient firmness on the Word of God, so long as we are led by our own feelings.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: They are not much interested in the written Word, the Scriptures. Their emphasis falls upon the Spirit, and they assert that He is ever in them to direct and guide them. They live entirely in the subjective realm, paying great attention to moods and feelings and states and impressions―they do not realize that the Word tells them to “prove” the spirits, to “test” the spirits, to examine them…These people turn a deaf ear to such warnings; the devil has pressed them so far that they are sure their guidance is infallible, and that if it is a strong impression it cannot be wrong.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): Let us not, therefore, make too much of frames and feelings.


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