GOD CALLED ME BY HIS GRACE
An account given to the church at Gower Street Memorial Chapel, London, by David G.
Crowter on his appointment as their pastor.
My dear friends, before I really begin I would like to mention two dangers present in this sort of meeting. First, it may be too persoNot currently available. If you have a copy of this item please let us know.l or self-centred. It is necessary for me to speak in an unusually persoNot currently available. If you have a copy of this item please let us know.l way in the very Not currently available. If you have a copy of this item please let us know.ture of this meeting. But I do desire that you may be able really to forget about me, and to realise that it is the Lord alone who is worthy of all honour and praise because, “My Jesus has done all things well.” The other danger is that of discouragement. What I may relate to you is not to be regarded as any kind of standard of experience. The Holy Spirit works in somewhat different ways whenever He takes anyone in hand. In this particular case it is now evident that the Lord’s purpose was that I should go out into the ministry of the gospel, and also that I should become the pastor here. This must have needed some rather special preparation. You know that I do not often mention my own experience in preaching, but it is very often at the back of my mind.
How could I speak of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and the exceeding preciousness of
Jesus Christ; of peace with God; of rejoicing in hope of the glory of God; of having the love of God shed abroad in the heart – unless I had some persoNot currently available. If you have a copy of this item please let us know.l experience of these things so as to set them before others? Now with you the case is different, so do not feel discouraged if some of the things that I may mention are not your own experience.
Now I was favoured with godly parents and a Christian home. That is much more of a benefit than some of our younger friends may realise. I was encouraged to learn and to recite certain passages of Scripture. In those days I did not understand them very well, or benefit much from them; but in every case, I believe, they mean so much more to me now, and it may well be so with some of you in due course. When I was young, I prayed about certain matters, especially about things that I had lost, and the Lord was pleased to answer those prayers; and I had no doubt that there was a God in heaven who answered prayer. But still I did not very much care for the chapel services, and I secretly vowed over and over again that, as soon as I was free, I would no longer go.
But when I was about eleven years old I woke up one night and I knew that I was in the presence of a most holy God. There was no word spoken at the time but there was this intense realisation that I stood as a guilty sinner before a holy God. At first it was only really what we might call outward and comparatively small sins of which I was convinced; but I knew that if I were to die then I should go to hell, to everlasting misery. I got up and wandered about; I really did not know what to do. I was reminded of the lines in the children’s hymn,
“I cannot draw another breath
Unless Thou give me power.”
I could see no reason why that holy God should give me power to draw another breath, and
I wondered if every breath would be my last. All I could think of doing in that case was to beg the Lord to spare my life till the next day, and then I would try to do better. Well, the next day came and I tried hard, but at the end of the day it was no better. And I asked the Lord again to spare my life, but still I found that I just could not avoid those sins which I could see were wrong in the sight of God. And I proved so deeply the lines of that hymn which says:
“The more I strove against sin’s power,
I sinned and stumbled but the more.”
I tried hard and utterly failed and I became more and more burdened. I could just see no way out. There was no other way of obtaining the favour of God that I knew.
Then, and it was especially through the reading of a sermon in chapel, I gradually came to see that there was another way; it was not my works but the obedience of Jesus Christ that was my only hope of acceptance with God; and I began to seek, and to desire, and to long for that. Now I would go to chapel willingly whenever it was open and earnestly seek that there might be something for me – something to relieve that burden, some encouragement to believe that the Lord would indeed receive me. And I was much encouraged in various ways.
There was a hymn that gave me a great deal of encouragement:
“Tis a point I long to know,
(Oft it causes anxious thought),
Do I love the Lord, or no?
Am I His, or am I not?
Could my heart so hard remain,
Prayer a task and burden prove,
Every trifle give me pain,
If I knew a Saviour’s love?”
That hymn, with the other verses too, was so much my own language that I felt very encouraged by the thought that the good man who had written that hymn had now gone to heaven and had travelled in the same pathway as I did. That promise of the Scripture too was a tremendous help because it so exactly described my feelings: “Blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” I so longed to know more of these things, and to know a persoNot currently available. If you have a copy of this item please let us know.l interest in that great salvation that I was just beginning to understand.
As I went on in this way the Saviour did become very precious to me in my desire. It was not so much a matter of knowledge or possession but one of desire, because I so longed to know Him. I remember one night how that verse so deeply affected me:
“If I loved my Lord before,
I would love Him ten times more;
Drop into His sea outright;
Lose myself in Jesus quite.”
That so expressed my feelings, except that I thought that ten times was far too little; ten thousand times seemed much more suitable. How I desired to love the Lord much more!
There were other times of encouragement. I remember coming home from chapel one week-evening and that word came to me with such sweet power, “Rather rejoice because your Not currently available. If you have a copy of this item please let us know.mes are written in heaven.” I felt at that time such a persuasion that it was so, that my unworthy Not currently available. If you have a copy of this item please let us know.me was written in heaven, that it was as if I could see it written across the skies. Another time I was working at a nursery, and as I was at the door of a greenhouse those words dropped so sweetly into my heart, “My peace I give unto you. Not as the world giveth give I unto you.” It had such an effect upon me that my hope of obtaining an interest in that great salvation that I now so longed to know was very much strengthened.
I should also mention what a tremendous encouragement to me that promise was, when the
Saviour said, “Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out.” I really did take that promise before the Lord and I pleaded it. I said, “Lord, Thou hast said Thou wilt not cast me out, and Thou canst not cast me out.” I can see now what I could not realise in those days, that the first time I really came to the Lord and cast myself upon His mercy, relying entirely upon His own work, then I was eterNot currently available. If you have a copy of this item please let us know.lly saved, although for a long time I did not know that it was so.
As I went to the house of God with such longings and desires, there were many encouraging times that I experienced. One evening when he late Mr. Charman preached, he entered very much into my desires and feelings. But it was really a verse in the last hymn that so affected me:
“Alas! and did my Saviour bleed?
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?”
I had such a hope that He really had laid down His sacred head for me.
My burden at times was much increased. I could see now much more of sin than I did before. I had gradually been shown more of the hidden evils of the heart; of pride, and anger, and envy, and lust; of evil thoughts, desires, and motives; and of unbelief.
But the time of love was coming. It was one evening in which my desires had really reached such a climax and my burden was so heavy. I had been out to chapel and the late Mr.
Main had preached from that word in the 73rd Psalm, “But God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.” He said, “You may feel that if the Lord is not your portion, then you have no portion at all,” and that was really just how I felt. When I got home and knelt down by my bed, I was constrained to ask the Lord to speak to my heart, and I waited for Him to do so. (Now I am not commending this to you unless you are so constrained and brought to that point as I was). But as I waited that word came to me with gracious power, “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” Then
I could see that all those desires and longings that I had had were the drawings of the lovingkindness of the Lord, and that these must be traced back to His own everlasting love
for me. But my burden was still there. I still felt he great weight of sin, and how guilty and filthy I was. So I did that again. I waited there before the Lord and asked Him to settle this matter for me; and those words came so sweetly and powerfully to my heart,
‘Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.” Then it was done. It was quite amazing. One moment, in my view, I was as black as hell, and the next I was as white as snow. That burden that I had felt for so long was gone, and I could enter into that word of the prophet where he said, “In those days and in that time, saith the Lord, the iniquity of
Israel shall be sought for and there shall be none, and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found; for I will pardon whom I will reserve.” I looked for my sin, that sin I had felt so long, and it was gone; I could lot find it. The Lord had taken it quite away, and I knew that through wondrous mercy I was cleansed from all sin in the fountain of the saviour’s blood, and clothed in His spotless righteousness so that I was without spot, and all fair in His sight. The peace that flowed then couldnever be expressed because it is a peace that “passeth all
understanding.” As I went to bed that night those verses in the Psalm exactly expressed my feelings; “Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy Not currently available. If you have a copy of this item please let us know.me … Who forgiveth all thine iniquities;
who healeth all thy diseases.” The next day was very different; the peace was still there and the day was so easy; everything was now changed.
So that summer it went on. It was a very wonderful summer. The sky was often cloudless; the sun was shining nearly all the time; and that was really how it was in my experience.
For months I had scarcely a doubt at all; and I used to go out into the countryside and everything seemed changed. All creation seemed to be full of the praise of God, and I felt just like that:
“While I feel Thy love to me,
Every object teems with joy;
Here, O let me walk with Thee,
Then into Thy presence die.
Let me but Thyself possess,
Total sum of happiness;
Real bliss I then shall prove,
Heaven below and heaven above.”
Often there seemed but a little gap between ‘heaven below’ and ‘heaven above, and I longed to be there. I had, as the apostle says, “A desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better.” I could say in words like these,
“This life’s a dream, an empty show,
But the bright world to which I go,
Has joys substantial and sincere;
When shall I wake and find me there?”
The Song of Solomon was exceedingly precious to me in those months, For there the
Saviour’s love for His church, and the believer’s love for the Saviour, are so wonderfully set forth. Such language as that exactly suited my heart: “His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.”
There were times of special blessing. One in particular I remember. I had had the first part of hymn 237 (Gadsby’s Hymns) on my mind; in the afternoon I read it quietly. Then I read the second part of that hymn and it so entered into my heart. I could not really ever express what it meant to me. The first verse is like this:
“Great High Priest, we view Thee stooping
With our Not currently available. If you have a copy of this item please let us know.mes upon Thy breast;
In the garden groaning, drooping
To the ground, with horrors pressed;
Wondering angels stood confounded
To behold their Maker thus;
And can we remain unwounded,
When we know ’twas all for us?”
I could see as I’d never seen before what horrors were laid upon the dear Redeemer’s holy soul, and how intense must have been His agony in His spotless purity when all the vast horrors of sin were so pressing
Him down. I longed for that fresh, full assurance again that my sins were among all those horrors that He bore so willingly, but from which
He suffered so exceedingly. And as I was there that assurance came right into my heart, and I was so filled with His love that it was almost too much to bear. It was just overpowering, and I really had to say to the Lord that I could bear no more of His love.
There was such a hatred of sin, and such a love for the Saviour. It was truly just like that which the other line expresses: “Love and grief my heart dividing”; a sense of His love, and sorrow for sin, so dividing, so mingling in the heart. Then I was led to Calvary, to see by faith the Saviour dying there. Especially I saw how bruised He was, and I could feel that “He was bruised for my iniquities.” How I cried,
“Bruised Bridegroom, take me wholly,
Take and make me what Thou wilt.”
I was there for an hour or two. And it had such an effect upon me that I felt; “Well, if only just a little of this remains then I cannot sin any
more”; because sin was so utterly abhorrent to me. That may sound
rather strange unless you have actually been there. That experience has had its effect to this day. For one thing, I can hardly bear to hear any singing of the sufferings of the Lord
Jesus Christ which is at all irreverent; it always affects me. And that experience has left a mark on my soul which affects the way I speak of those sufferings.
Another occasion a little later on was just about my seventeenth birthday. A word which had been on my mind during the day, came with such power to my heart. I was cleaning some shoes there. (I do not know how you feel about these things. But as regards these various places that were made so special to me in my spiritual life, I can really see them now, almost as though I was there, and all the surroundings. I could take you right to the spot.
Some one says:
“Dost mind the place, the spot of ground
Where Jesus did thee meet?”
I mind it all right!) That word so dropped into my heart then: “Thine eyes shall see the
King in His beauty; they shall behold the land that is very far off.” When the word of the Lord comes with power it has suchan effect. I just knew: I really danced with joy. O the effect of that assurance and the prospect there! Later on that evening I felt some of that joy depart and I did not want to lose it. I stood there in the bedroom and prayed to the
Lord. I said, “Lord, come again: come again.” And that word came sweetly to me, “I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there ye may be also.” And the sense of His presence, and the certainty of heaven was so real that I hardly expected to open my eyes again on this world. That same night another word was laid upon my heart, “I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.” I soon dropped asleep again, and in the morning I was tempted to feel that it had all been imagiNot currently available. If you have a copy of this item please let us know.tion. I so asked the Lord to confirm it; that if it really was His word to me He would confirm it in services of that Lord’s day. At the evening service the minister, who was the late Mr.
Pilgrem, took that text for his sermon, and that so confirmed what the Lord had done. The next morning I received a letter from Mr. Green in which he spoke of his own experience and how the Lord had spoken that very word to him. So it was wonderfully confirmed.
Perhaps I ought to say that in between these times I was greatly tempted of the evil one, often tempted to doubt. As time went on I was subject to more doubts again and there was a very sad reason for this. I mention this really as a particular warning. We are never safe from trouble and temptation in this world. It is never the time to take things easy. Now if you read the Holy War you will find that Bunyan there gives a very remarkable account. When
Mansoul was delivered from the power of the evil Diabolonians, and Prince Shaddai, or
Immanuel, took possession of Mansoul, all was wonderfully peaceful and joyful for some time. But then there was a Mr. CarNot currently available. If you have a copy of this item please let us know.l Security who came along. He was able to speak very well and about a great variety of subjects. The inhabitants of Mansoul were very taken up with this visitor and began to listen to him a lot. But after a while they realised that the
Prince Himself had gone; and they had not even noticed! And that was really like what happened in my own experience. Do beware, of that man Mr. CarNot currently available. If you have a copy of this item please let us know.l Security. That means, in effect, that you can become so relaxed, so casual and careless about spiritual things, that the dangerous attractions of this world can easily creep in. We must never lake the Lord’s blessings for granted. So that had a sad effect upon me, and the Lord’s special visits to my soul, were not so frequent.My Father, My Father” . . ., without the slightest feeling of reproach at all. Another time I had a very precious view of the Saviour in His mediation, in
His intercession. I saw Him interceding and it was as though He was praying as in His
High Priestly prayer, “Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory.” I had such a persuasion that the Lord was even praying for me, that I had an interest in that wonderful prayer. Another time I was in the little room in Lothair Road when I was in London. There that word in the prophet Zephaniah came to me with such gracious power: “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty;
he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” Those are most wonderful words, and it was wonderful to enter into them, and to realise that the love of the Lord is like that, that He does rejoice even over those who are so sinful.
Another thing comes to my mind which I really should mention. That was a time when the
Lord spoke that promise so powerfully to my heart; “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go; I will guide thee with mine eye.” The effect of that promise was really like this: it came to me in such a persoNot currently available. If you have a copy of this item please let us know.l way that I knew it was especially mine, and I had such a realisation of my own sinfulness and the Lord’s goodness. The more I saw of my own sinfulness, the more I saw of the Lord’s goodness and they seemed to rise together, and the Lord’s wonderful goodness really overwhelmed the sense that I had of my own wretchedness, and so I was completely overcome with a sense of the Lord’s goodness in making such a promise to me. I could not possibly tell you how very many times I have had to plead that promise since. Perhaps you can realise a little that I have come into places where I needed that guidance so much; and how I have taken that promise and pleaded it before the Lord, and said, “Lord, Thou didst say, ‘I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go; I will guide thee with mine eye’.”
The effects of carNot currently available. If you have a copy of this item please let us know.l security caused some evil fruit. For some years I was far less concerned, and because of that I had far less assurance than I had had before, and I had great cause to confess and mourn over my own backslidings and hardness of heart, and so much that was really of a worldly Not currently available. If you have a copy of this item please let us know.ture. But the Lord is very gracious and when we moved back to
Sussex and to Hastings, we began to attend the ministry of Mr. Delves especially, and his very gracious and instructive ministry was very profitable to me. Gradually I began to feel again those wonderful mercies that the Lord had so favoured me with in my teen years. Then my exercises in this more persoNot currently available. If you have a copy of this item please let us know.l way very much merged with those of the ministry. So I will conclude with those verses of the hymn which I think can really be said to express my feelings about all this;
“Ah but for free and sovereign grace,
I still had lived estranged from God,
Till hell had proved the destined place
Of my deserved but dread abode.
But O, amazed, I see the hand
That stopped me in my wild career;
A miracle of grace I stand;
The Lord has taught my heart to fear.
To fear His Not currently available. If you have a copy of this item please let us know.me, to trust His grace,
To learn His will be my employ;
Till I shall see Him face to face,
Himself my heaven, Himself my joy.”