“I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself.”
The spiritual feeling of sin is indispensable to the feeling of salvation. A sense of the malady must ever precede, and prepare the soul for, a believing reception and due apprehension of the remedy. Wherever God intends to reveal his Son with power, wherever he intends to make the gospel “a joyful sound” indeed, he makes the conscience feel and groan under the burden of sin. And sure am I that when a man is labouring under the burden of sin, he will be full of complaint.
The Bible records hundreds of the complaints of God’s people under the burden of sin. “My wounds stink and are corrupt,” cries one, “because of my foolishness. I am troubled: I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long” (Psalm 38:5, 6). “My soul,” cries another, is full of troubles, and my life draweth nigh unto the grave” (Psalm 88:3). “He hath led me,” groans out a third, “and brought me into darkness, but not into light” (Lam. 3:2). A living man needs must cry under such circumstances. He cannot carry the burden without complaining of its weight. He cannot feel the arrow sticking in his conscience without groaning under the pain. He cannot have the worm gnawing his vitals without complaining of its venomous tooth. He cannot feel that God is incensed against him without bitterly complaining that the Lord is his enemy.
Spiritual complaint then is a mark of spiritual life, and is one which God recognises as such. “I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself.” It shews that he has something to mourn over, something to make him groan being burdened; that sin has been opened up to him in its hateful malignancy; that it is a trouble and distress to his soul; that he cannot roll it like a sweet morsel under his tongue, but that it is found out by the penetrating eye, and punished by the chastening hand of God.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869.