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How Faith Transformed a 17th-Century Scottish Pastor


Sorrowful and Disconsolate

James Fraser was a pastor in Scotland in the late 1600’s.

But in his diary he wrote that for a long time he had been sorrowful and disconsolate because he had no peace, joy, or rest in the Lord.

This was not because he neglected his spiritual life.

No, he regularly pursued spiritual disciplines of confessing his sin, and diligently praying and reading God’s word.

But still, he felt far from God.

“You Turned Not to Me”

But one day he read Haggai 2:17 where God says: “Yet you turned not to me.”  And it struck him that even though he pursued spiritual disciplines, he was not turning to Christ by faith.

And the reason he was not turning to Christ by faith was because he thought he was too weak spiritually; that he had too little love for Christ.

He believed he needed to overcome his spiritual weakness first, and feel some love for Christ’s glory first, before it would be right for him to turn to Christ by faith.

Faith Fetches All from Christ

But the more he studied God’s word, the more he saw that God commanded him to turn to Christ by faith.

Not only that, he saw that his lack of spiritual strength and his lack of prizing Christ should not keep him from turning to Christ. Here are his own words –

[I saw that] as faith fetches all from Him, so it fetches prizing of Him too; for if faith fetches all from Christ, then it brings nothing to Christ but deadness, blindness, and sinfulness … Emptiness is the best qualification.

He Turned to Christ

So in spite of his deadness, blindness, and weakness, he turned to Christ by faith.

He humbly admitted that he did not deserve anything good from Christ, and surrendered to whatever Christ chose to do for him.

This was not easy.  He had lots to learn about fighting the fight of faith.

But as he pressed in, and looked to Christ by faith, God powerfully met him —

Then were my eyes opened to see [Christ’s] love in all [His] dispensations.  Oh, this was a heart-ravishing consideration!

The Lord that followed me many a weary day, never rested till He had completed his work with me, and he had engaged me to believe.

A Night to Be Remembered

This understanding of faith transformed James Fraser’s life.

Through this faith Christ purified his heart, and “made me prize and desire grace.”

He was “filled with joy and peace,” and “went about the fields singing songs of triumph over Satan.”

“This joy of the Lord was my strength: It made the Lord Jesus precious; I was made to see a glory, an excellency and loveliness in Him.”

And then he describes one night in particular —

It was a night to be much remembered forever.  After going to bed, the Lord seemed to say to me — When [you] were dull and weak, why did you not delight yourself in [My] fatness?

You complained that you lacked life, strength, and comfort — why did you not come to [My] fire that you may be warmed?

And he saw that in Christ, God would always meet all of his needs.  And here is what happened next –

And with this there came such a mighty gale of the Spirit that took away all my confusions, that made my soul apply Christ and all his benefits, answered all my objections fully and clearly, and made me strongly to apply the promise; insomuch that I found Christ a sweet and satisfying thing … 

All fears were driven away; the gospel-privileges appeared exceeding sweet, so as I spent the whole night in prayer, and praising, and rejoicing, wishing now for the morning, that I might do mightily for the Lord.

My very body was weakened with the abundance of the joy of faith, arising from a sense of an interest in God.

[From John Gillies’ Historical Collections of Accounts of Revival (Banner of Truth Trust, 1981) Book III, pp.188-190.]

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Category: Strengthening Your Faith


One Response

  1. Kathy says:

    This is exactly what I have been struggling with. Thanks for sharing it.

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