From A. W. Pink’s Exposition of the Gospel of John:
From what has been said, it will be evident that when God told Moses to make a serpent of brass, fix it upon a pole, and bid the bitten Israelites look on it and they should live, that He was preaching to them the Gospel of His grace. We would now point out seven things which these Israelites were not bidden to do.
5. They were not told to pray to the serpent. Many evangelists urge their hearers to go to the “mourners bench” or “penitent form” and there plead with God for pardoning mercy, and if they are dead in earnest they are led to believe that God has heard them for their much speaking. If these “seekers after a better life” believe what the preacher has told them, namely, that they have “prayed through” and have now “got forgiveness,” they feel happy, and for a while continue treading the clean side of the Broad Road with a light heart; but the almost invariable consequence is that their last state is worse than the first. O dear reader, do not make the fatal mistake of substituting prayer for faith in Christ.
It would seem that Pink has Finney dead in his sights. I am reminded of the “burned-over” region of upstate New York, which was so exhausted by the revivalism of Finney and his disciples that no true religion could find purchase there ever since.
I also love this phrase: “treading the clean side of the Broad Road.” What a great description of unredeemed good-living!