Joseph Alleine wrote a wonderful book called “An Alarm to the Unconverted” back in 1671. It is available to read for free at Grace Gems website, and is now sold by Banner of Truth books under the title “A Sure Guide to Heaven”. You can purchase it for less than a $5 coffee at Starbucks from my favorite on-line bookstore, Westminster Bookstore, by clicking this text.
This book was a favorite of both Whitefield and Spurgeon, and was influenced in no small part by Richard Baxter’s “A Call to the Unconverted”. The information in the introduction of the book, though brief, gives a nice glimpse into the character of the author. His wife, Mrs. Theodosia Alleine, is referred to in the Introduction of the book, in stating that she “left a moving account of her husband’s ministry. The only ‘fault’ for which she chided her husband was that he did not spend more time with her, to which he would reply, ‘Ah, my dear, I know thy soul is safe; but how many that are perishing have I to look after? O that I could do more for them!’ Alleine’s whole life was an illustration of his saying, ‘Give me a Christian that counts his time more precious than gold.'”
The snippet I am posting here is from chapter 4, entitled “The Marks of the Unconverted”. In this chapter, Alleine takes the reader through 10 marks of an “open” (or obvious) sinner, and then through 12 marks of a “secret” sinner (these sections are clearly marked at Grace Gems, but not in the book). I have thought often over the last couple years how much better it would be to know you doubt your salvation but be truly converted than to be lost but think that you’re saved. In the section on secret sins, Alleine helps the reader to really examine the heart for its bent. I wish this book was given out at every church to everyone who professes faith in Christ.
On coveting, that secret and pernicious sin, Alleine writes:
The predominant love of the world. This is the sure evidence of an unsanctified heart. ‘If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him’ (1 John 2:15). But how often does this sin lurk under the fair cover of profession. Yes, such a power of deceit is there in this sin that many times, when everybody else can see the man’s worldliness and covetousness, he cannot see it himself—but has so many excuses and pretenses for his eagerness after the world, that he blinds his own eyes and perishes in his self-deceit! How many professing Christians are there, with whom the world has more of their hearts and affections than Christ, ‘who mind earthly things’, and thereby are evidently after the flesh, and likely to end in destruction (Rom 8:5; Phil 3:19). Yet ask these men, and they will tell you confidently they prize Christ above all; for they do not see their own earthly-mindedness for lack of a strict observance of the workings of their own hearts. Did they but carefully search, they would quickly see that their greatest satisfaction is in the world, and that their greatest care and main endeavor are to get and secure the world—which are the certain signs of an unconverted sinner. May the professing part of the world take earnest heed lest they perish by the hand of this sin unobserved. Men may be, and often are, kept off from Christ as effectually by the inordinate love of lawful comforts, as by the most wicked lives.
In my next post, we will read his thoughts on the fase assurance of “carnal security”, which has been a subject of heated discussion amongst the local churches in our area, having recently been visited by “The Power Team“, who are masters in the Finney-esque man-centered methods and manipulations of modern evangelism.