“All true religion has a beginning, and a beginning, too, marked, clear and distinct. That the entrance of divine light into the soul, the first communications of supernatural life, the first manifestations of an unknown God, the first buddings forth of a new nature, the first intercourse of man with his Maker; that all these hitherto unfelt, unthought of, uncared for, undesired transactions should take place in the soul, and the soul be ignorant of them, should know neither their time nor their place, is a contradiction.
The evidence of feeling is as strong, as distinct, as perceptible as the evidence of sight. I know by sight that this object is black and that white. I know as certainly by feeling that this substance is cold and that hot. I may not be able to tell why the one is hot and the other cold, but I know the fact that they are so. Thus a new-born soul may not be able to tell why it feels, nor whence those feelings arise; but it is as conscious that it does feel as that it exists. It suits well the empty profession of the day to talk about early piety, and convictions from childhood, and Sunday school religion, and baptismal regeneration, and infant lispings, and the dawnings of the youthful mind. “The privilege of pious parents, of family religion, of the domestic altar, of a gospel ministry, of obedience to ordinances, of a father’s prayers, of a mother’s instruction”-who has not heard these things brought forward again and again as the beginning of what is called Christian conversion and decided piety? Many of these things are well in their place, and not to be despised or neglected; but when they are held up as the almost necessary beginning of a work altogether heavenly and supernatural, they must be set aside.
Thousands have had these things who have perished in their sins; and thousands have not had them who have been saved with an everlasting salvation. A true beginning is a beginning felt. I will not say that we must be able to point out the moment, the hour, the day or the week, though the nearer we approach the precision of time, the nearer we approach to a satisfactory evidence. But the season, the time within certain limits, when new feelings, new emotions, new wants, new desires arose in the heart, can never be forgotten by one who has really experienced them. To smother over, to mystify, to smuggle up the beginning is to throw discredit on the whole. If the beginning be wrong, all is wrong. If there be no divine beginning, there can be no divine middle, and no divine end; and if the first step be false, every successive step will partake of the original error. If a man, therefore, who professes to be walking in the way never knew the door, and never found it a strait and narrow one, he has clambered over the wall, and is a thief and a robber. His sentence is already recorded. “Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness” Mt 22:13.” – J. C. Philpot