David Clarkson on the Effects of the Gospel
The gospel, according as it is heard, is a great mercy or a great judgment, a blessing or a curse, therefore great reason to take heed. The abuse of the greatest mercy may curse it. It lifts up to heaven or casts down to hell; it is the savour of life or of death, 2 Cor. 2.15, 16; advances salvation or aggravates condemnation. The cords of love or the snares of death; mollifies or hardens, Mat. 8.14, 15, Isa. 6.9, 10; enlightens or darkens their eyes, Rom. 11.10, John 12.40, 9.39; opens the heart to Christ, or shuts it against him. If one should tell you this diet, according as you use it, will be life or death, would you not take heed? The gospel is like the water of jealousy. A bad hearer is like the adulteress, to him it is bitter water, which causeth a curse, Num. 5.19; her belly shall swell, and thigh rot; it causes tumours and rottenness, and makes him a curse among the people. To a good hearer it is sweet, blessed, the water of life, fruitfulness, causes him to conceive seed, ver. 28. The word brings nearer heaven or further from it, it does good or hurt, makes better or worse, it is medicamen or venerium, a quickening spirit or killing letter. It returns not in vain, Isa. 55.10, 11; it shall accomplish that which I please, and prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. Now he appoints his servants, as Jer. 1.10, not only to build, but to pull down; not only to plant, but to root out and destroy; and puts his words in their mouths for that end, ver. 9. It blasts those who blossom not, flourish not under it; overthrows where it edifies not; consumes, where it refines not as fire; it is a sword, either lances imposthumes, or pierces the heart savingly or mortally.
- David Clarkson, Practical Works Vol. I, "Hearing the Word"