Grace Gems Collection

Grace Gems Collection 2003

Grace Gems Collection 2003
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The text has been revised for contemporary readers.
2006 Sovereign Grace Treasures
http://www.lulu.com/gracetreasures
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Our purpose is to humble the pride of man, to exalt the grace of God in salvation, and to promote real holiness in heart in life.
Our objective is to set before the Christian pilgrim some reflections which may prove challenging, consolatory and encouraging—as he journeys up from this bleak, arid, wilderness world, leaning on his Beloved.
May God’s blessing attend a humble effort to minister comfort to the downcast, strength to the weak, and courage to those who have set their faces towards their glorious eternal home.
The editors
Please visit us at http://www.GraceGems.org. Join our free Grace Gems mailing list to receive a daily devotional quote!
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JESUS!
Octavius Winslow, “Evening Thoughts”
What is our path to glory, but the path of tribulation, of suffering, and of death? Our Lord and Master, in the expression of His wisdom and love, forewarns us of this: “In the world you shall have tribulation.”
What are all the supports of the believer in seasons of trial, suffering, and bereavement, but so many manifestations of the life of the Lord Jesus? This it is that keeps the soul….
buoyant amid the billows, strong in faith,
joyful in hope,
soaring in love.
Thus is Jesus….
the life of every grace,
the life of every promise, the life of every ordinance, the life of every blessing.
Yes, of all that is really costly and precious to a child of God, Jesus is….
the substance,
the glory,
the sweetness,
the fragrance,
yes, the very life itself!
Oh! dark and lonely, desolate and painful indeed would our present pilgrimage be, but for Jesus!
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If in the world we have tribulation; in whom do we have peace? In Jesus!
If in the creature we meet with fickleness and change; in whom do we find the Friend who loves at all times? In Jesus!
When adversity comes as a wintry blast, and lays low our comforts; when the cloud is upon our tabernacle; when health, and wealth, and influence, and friends are gone; in whom do we find the covert from the wind, the faithful, tender Brother born for adversity? In Jesus!
When temptation assails,
when care darkens,
when trial oppresses,
when bereavement wounds,
when heart and flesh are failing;
who throws around us the protecting shield, who applies the precious promise,
who speaks the soothing word, who sustains the sinking spirit, who heals the sorrow,
who dries the tear? Jesus!
Where sin struggles in the heart, and guilt burdens the conscience, and unbelief beclouds the mind; whose grace subdues our iniquities, whose blood gives us peace, and whose light dispels our darkness? Jesus!
And when the spark of life wanes, and the eye grows dim, and the mind wanders, and the soul, severing its last fetter, mounts and soars away, Jesus, in that awful moment, draws near in form unseen, and whispers in words unheard by all but the departing one, now in close communion with the solemn realities of the invisible world, “Fear not; I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies!”
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THE IDOL SELF
Hannah More, “Practical Piety”
The idol Self has made more desolation among men than ever was made in those places where idols were served by human sacrifices.
To worship images is a more obvious idolatry, but scarcely more degrading than to set up Self in opposition to God.
Self is the ever flowing fountain of all the evil which deforms our hearts, of all the boiling passions which inflame and disorder society; the root of bitterness on which all its corrupt fruits grow.
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BEWARE OF THE WORLD!
William Sprague, “Letters to a Daughter”
Beware of the world! Beware of…. its seductive flatteries,
its pestilential maxims,
its unhallowed practices.
Remember that the spirit of the world is directly opposed to the spirit of the Gospel; and that both cannot find a permanent lodgement in the same bosom.
If the world attempts to seduce you with its smiles, do not dally with the tempter for a moment. And do not allow the world to bring you into subjection with its frowns.
Have as little to do with the groveling and polluted scenes of earth as you can, in consistency with your duty. Rise above the world and try to breathe the atmosphere of heaven. f
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SOME OF YOU WILL BE CAST INTO THE FURNACE!
Archibald Alexander, “Practical Directions How to Grow in Grace and Make Progress in Piety”
For your more rapid growth in grace, some of you will be cast into the furnace of affliction. Sickness, bereavement, bad conduct of children and relatives, loss of property or of reputation, may come upon you unexpectedly and press heavily on you.
In these trying circumstances, exercise patience and fortitude. Be more solicitous to have the affliction sanctified, than removed.
Glorify God while in the fire of adversity. That faith which is most tried is commonly most pure and precious.
Learn from Christ how you ought to suffer.
Let perfect submission to the will of God be aimed at. Never indulge a murmuring or discontented spirit. Repose with confidence on the promises.
Commit all your cares to God.
Make known your requests to Him by prayer.
Let go your too eager grasp of the world.
Become familiar with death and the grave.
Wait patiently.
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FOLLOW THE LAMB!
Thomas Brooks
Follow the Lamb, though others follow the beast and the false prophets.
Follow the Lamb wherever He goes.
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Take up the cross, and follow the Lamb over hedge and ditch, through thick and thin.
Do not turn your backs on Christ.
Deny yourself—your natural self, your sinful self, your religious self—to follow the Lamb.
Who would desire to live always in this poor world? Who would desire to dwell on these lower grounds, where sickness and sorrow, the sad consequences of sin, follow in our wake?
In heaven, our happy home, we shall enjoy perfect holiness and perfect happiness. —Mary Winslow, “Life
in Jesus”
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MERCY SURPASSING ALL WONDERS!
David Harsha, “The Death of Christ”
Through eternity it will be a matter of the greatest wonder, as well as the sweetest and most sublime song, that the great God, the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity; whom we had by wicked works so highly offended; should ever have ‘reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ;’ and condescended to dwell with us who were once so vile, and rebellious, and wretched.
Oh, the depth of the riches of the mercy of God! Mercy surpassing all wonders!
Mercy boundless as the heavens!
Mercy vast as eternity!
How great should be our gratitude to Him, who by the costly price of His blood has ransomed us from an eternity of woe!
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May we never cease, while passing through the wilder- ness of earth, to extol in sweetest songs the wonders of
redeeming love!
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IN THE WORLD, AND YET NOT TO BE OF THE WORLD!
Mary Winslow, “Life in Jesus”
“They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” John 17:16
What a difficult matter it is to be in the world, and yet not to be of the world! Our Lord Himself carried out this principle. He passed through the world as one who was not of it.
Oh, that we could but imitate His holy example, and aim only, while in it, so to let our light shine, that others may take knowledge of us that we have been with Jesus, and have learned of Him.
It should be our whole endeavor to do all the good we can in it and for it; and yet to set at nothing its spirit, its principles, and its maxims.
How can a believer walk through this world safely and securely? Only as he is upheld by a strength that is Omnipotent!
I am passing through a world lying in the wicked one.
I belong to another kingdom, which is not of this world.
Dear friend, see, then, your high calling!
He has called you to come out of the world and to be separate—in principle, in practice, in heart.
“If you were of the world, the world would love its own. But because you are not of the world, since I
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chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” John 15:19
“I have given them Your word. The world hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” John 17:14 f
THE PIG!
Thomas Reade, “Christian Meditations”
“But it has happened to them according to the true proverb, ‘The dog turns to his own vomit again,’ and ‘the sow that had washed to wallowing in the mire.’” 2 Peter 2:22
The pig, though washed, was a pig still.
The outward washing could not change the inward propensity of the animal.
Is it not so with multitudes of baptized people? Outward reformation must never be confounded with inward regeneration!
“For if, after they have escaped the defilement of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the last state has become worse with them than the first.” 2 Peter 2:20
The hearts of such people were never renewed, their natures were never changed. This they proved by their return to the propensities of their natural hearts.
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THE HEART OF INFINITE AND ETERNAL LOVE!
Mary Winslow’s, “Heaven Opened”
I find it sweet to retire and be alone with my best Friend. What a privilege to open our whole heart, and
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lean, like John, upon the Savior’s tender, sympathizing bosom!
What on earth is like this? A broken heart, a helpless and powerless soul resting upon the arm and the heart of Infinite and Eternal love!
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THE SILLY FISH?
Thomas Reade, “The Importance of Self Knowledge”
There are a thousand ways whereby we may deceive ourselves. Vices, through the artifice of Satan, are decked with rosebuds, and concealed under specious titles.
He puts a fascinating mask upon the face of sin, and thus, like the angler, hides the hook. The wretched sinner, like the silly fish, does not see the snare.
Like the maniac, he imagines himself a king, while held in fetters, and his scepter is but a straw!
Are not such characters objects of pity?
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THE COMMON COMPLAINT?
Thomas Reade, “Christian Meditations”
“I have sinned against the Lord.” 2 Samuel 12:13 This is the common complaint of all true Christians. They want an entire conformity to the mind of God. They pant after universal holiness.
They labor to get their affections supremely fixed upon Christ and heaven. They long for the complete victory over indwelling sin, and the perishing vanities of the world.
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Yet, they find, to their inexpressible grief, that when they would do good, evil is present with them; not indeed as a thing indulged, but as mixing itself with all their aims and desires, so that they are constrained to cry out, “What a wretched man I am! Who will deliver me out of the body of this death?” Romans 7:24
They feel a force drawing them down to earth, when they would soar above.
This experience greatly humbles the Christian pilgrim, while traveling through the wilderness.
He sees that he has no righteousness of his own; that of himself he can do nothing; and that it is of the Lord alone, that he has either righteousness or strength.
This conviction of inward pollution, unseen by the eye of man, drives him to the blood of sprinkling.
It makes Christ unspeakably precious.
Feeling his inability to think one good thought, or exercise one holy affection, without the grace and power of Jesus, he sits daily at His feet…
to hear His word,
to receive out of His fullness, to imbibe His spirit, and
to copy His example.
Such is the experience and practice, not of one, but of all the faithful servants of Jehovah.
Oh! that I may be found among these chosen vessels of the Lord. I have to mourn over deadness, lukewarmness, and earthly mindedness; though, through grace, I abhor these evils!
I am grieved that my heart is so cold, when God is so
kind!
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HOLY POSTURE!
Octavius Winslow, “Evening Thoughts”
“Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts.” Isaiah 6:5
What prostrated his soul thus low in the dust? What filled him with this self abasement?
What overwhelmed him with this keen sense of his vileness?
Oh, it was the unclouded view he had of the essential glory of the Son of God! And thus will it ever be. The beaming forth of Christ’s glory in the soul reveals its hidden evil; the knowledge of this evil lays the believer low before God with the confession, “I abhor myself. Woe is me! for I am undone.”
Beloved, let this truth be ever present to your mind, that as we increasingly see glory in Christ, we shall increasingly see that there is no glory in ourselves.
Jesus is the Sun which reveals the pollutions and defilements that are within. The chambers of abomi- nation are all closed until Christ shines in upon the soul. Oh, then it is these deep-seated and long veiled deformities are revealed; and we, no longer gazing with a complacent eye upon self, sink in the dust before God, overwhelmed with shame, and covered with confusion of face.
Holy posture!
Blessed spectacle!
A soul prostrate before the glory of the incarnate God!
All high and lofty views of its own false glory annihilated by clear and close views of the true glory of
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Jesus. As when the sun appears, all the lesser lights vanish into darkness, so when Jesus rises in noontide glory upon the soul, all other glory retires, and He alone fixes the eye and fills the mind.
“Above him stood the seraphim: each one had six wings; with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet,” Isaiah 6:2. Their own perfections and beauty were not to be seen in the presence of the glory of the Lord.
How much more profound should be the humility and self-abasement of man! Have we covered ourselves; not with the pure wings of the holy cherubim, but with sackcloth and ashes before the Lord? Have we sought to veil; not our beauties, for beauty we have none; but our innumerable and flagrant deformities, even the sins of our best and holiest things; and, renouncing all self- glory, have we sunk, as into nothing before God? Oh, we are yet strangers to the vision of Christ’s glory, if we have not.
If the constellation of human gifts and attainments, distinctions and usefulness, on which unsanctified and unmortified self so delights to gaze, have not retired into oblivion, the Sun of Righteousness has yet to rise upon our souls with healing in His wings!
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COLD HEARTED, HALF DEVOTED,
EARTHLY MINDED?
Waterbury, “The Importance of Aiming at an Elevated Standard of Piety”
The cold hearted, half devoted, earthly minded race of professing Christians are among the most miserable beings on earth.
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They make a compromise with the world, are foremost in pleasure and in fashion, and are undistinguished form the noisy, vain, and trifling crowd.
Over their worldly mindedness, their niggardly charities, and hollow professions, thousands stumble into perdition!
They are….
a disgrace to the Christian church, a standing scandal upon religion, a grief to the pious,
a laughingstock to the world.
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WHEN THE SON OF MAN COMES IN HIS GLORY!
Octavius Winslow, “Evening Thoughts”
“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Hm, then will He sit on the throne of His glory.” Matthew 25:31
Surpassing in glory all that the eye has ever seen, or the imagination has ever conceived, will be the second personal appearing of the Son of God.
A perfect contrast will it present to His first advent. Then He appeared a king, but….
disguised in the form of a servant, without a retinue,
without the insignia of royalty, without visible glory,
His throne a cross, His crown the thorns, His scepter a reed.
But His second coming will be in perfect contrast with this. He will now have thrown off the garment of
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humiliation, and will appear clad with the robe of majesty, the King acknowledged and adored.
He will come in the glory of His Divine nature. His Deity will now be unveiled, unclouded, and undenied, the “God over all, blessed for evermore!”
Angels will laud Him.
Saints will crown Him.
Devils fear Him.
His enemies will bow to Him.
Every tongue shall confess His Deity.
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BORN WITH A TEAR IN HIS EYE?
Octavius Winslow, “Evening Thoughts”
The life of our adorable Lord was a life of continuous trial. From the moment He entered our world He became leagued with suffering. He identified Himself with it in its almost endless forms. He seemed to have been born with a tear in His eye, with a shadow of sadness on His brow. He was prophesied as “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” And, from the moment He touched the horizon of our earth, from that moment His sufferings commenced.
He did not come to indulge in a life of tranquility and repose. He did not come to quaff the cup of earthly sweets.
He came to suffer!
He came to bear the curse!
He came to drain the deep cup of wrath! He came to weep!
He came to bleed!
He came to die!
Our Savior was a cross bearing Savior.
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Our Lord was a suffering Lord.
He turned His back upon the pleasures, the riches, the luxuries, and even the common comforts of this world; preferring a life of obscurity, penury, and suffering.
Jesus hungered, thirsted, labored, sorrowed, wept, suffered, bled, died! He was scourged, was bruised, was mocked, was smitten, was spit upon, was nailed to the tree, was pierced, was slain!
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TRUE HAPPINESS!
Octavius Winslow, “Evening Thoughts”
Happiness is the attainment that the world is eagerly in search of. But the believer in Christ is its only possessor. He has found it, and found it in Jesus. He has found it in a renunciation of self-righteousness, and in a humble reception of Christ.
There is no true happiness outside of Jesus!
What true happiness can the heart feel while…. it is unrenewed,
its sins unpardoned,
the soul unjustified,
and therefore under condemnation, and exposed to the wrath of a holy and just God?
Oh, dream not of happiness, reader, until you have gone as a repenting sinner to the cross of Christ!
You may be a son or a daughter of affliction; in this furnace you may be chosen, and through this furnace it may be the Lord’s holy will you should pass all your days.
You may be a child of poverty, possessing but little of this world’s comforts—lonely, neglected, despised.
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Yet oh, look up! you are precious in God’s sight! You are as dear to Him as the apple of His eye. His heart yearns over you with more than a mother’s exquisite fondness for her child, because He has loved you with an everlasting love, and, to the praise of the glory of His grace, has accepted you in the Beloved.
Realize this, and though….
rough and thorny may be your path, and fiery the furnace,
and deep your poverty,
and lonely your situation,
you shall experience a peace and a happiness to which the world around you is an utter stranger.
Oh what a glorious God is ours, and what vile wretches are we!—Octavius Winslow, “Evening Thoughts”
OH, WHAT PRECIOUS FRUIT!
Octavius Winslow, “Evening Thoughts”
“As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can you, except you abide in Me.” John 15:4
Oh, what precious fruit does such a living branch bear!
The broken heart;
the contrite spirit;
the mourning over sin;
the low, abasing, humbling views of self;
the venturing by faith on a full, mighty, willing Savior; the going out of self, and resting in His all-atoning
work, and all-satisfying righteousness.
This is followed by a progressive advance in all holiness and godliness, the fruits of faith which are by Jesus
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Christ abounding in the life, and proving the reality of the wondrous change….
the close walk with God;
the submission of the will in all things to His;
the conformity of the life to the example of Jesus; the “power of His resurrection” felt;
the “fellowship of His sufferings,” known; and “conformity to His death,” marking the entire man.
These are some of the fruits of a truly regenerate soul.
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SOME HEAVY, PAINFUL, YET CONCEALED CROSS?
Octavius Winslow, “Evening Thoughts”
Christian reader, we suppose you to be no stranger to grief; your heart has known what sorrow is; you have borne, perhaps for years, some heavy, painful, yet concealed cross.
Over it, in the solitude and silence of privacy, you have wept, agonized, and prayed. And still the cross, though mitigated, is not removed.
You may be asking, “Why, if Jesus is so tender and sympathizing, does He place upon me this cross?”
Because of His wisdom and love. He sees you need that cross!
You have carried it, it may be, for years. Who can tell where and what you would have been at this moment, but for this very cross?
What evils in you it may have checked;
what corruptions in you it may have subdued;
what constitutional infirmities it may have weakened; from what lengths it has kept you;
from what rocks and precipices it has guarded you; and what good it has been silently and secretly,
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yet effectually, working in you all the long years of your life; who can tell but God Himself?
The removal of that cross might have been the removal of your greatest mercy!
Hush, then, every murmur—be still, and know that He is God—and that all these trials, these sufferings, these untoward circumstances, are now working together for your good and His glory.
And what would you know, may we not ask, of Jesus— His tenderness, and love, and sympathizing heart—but for the rough and thorny path along which you have been thus led?
The glory and fullness, the preciousness and sympathy of Christ are not learned in every circumstance of life. The hour of prosperity, when everything passes smoothly on—providences smiling, the heart’s surface unruffled, the gladsome sunlight of creature happiness gilding every prospect with its brightness—this is not the hour, nor these the circumstances, most favorable to an experimental acquaintance with Christ.
It is in the dark hour of suffering, the hour of trial and of adversity, when the sea is rough, and the sky is lowering, and providences are mysterious, and the heart is agitated, and hope is disappointed, its bud nipped, and its stem broken, and creature comfort and support fail.
Oh, then it is, that the fullness, and preciousness, and tenderness of Jesus are learned. Then it is, that the heart loosens its hold on created objects, and entwines itself more fondly and more closely around the Incarnate Son of God.
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RICHES! BEAUTY! PLEASURE! GENIUS! FAME!
Hannah More, “Practical Piety” 1811
To the dying bed we must all inevitably come.
Those who are brought to serious reflection by the salutary affliction of a sick bed, will look back with astonishment on their former false estimate of worldly things.
Riches! Beauty! Pleasure! Genius! Fame!
What are they in the eyes of the sick and dying?
Riches! These are so far from affording them a moment’s ease, that it will be well if no remembrance of their misuse aggravate their present pains. They feel as if they only wished to live that they might henceforth dedicate their riches to the purposes for which they were given.
Beauty! “What is beauty?” they cry, as they consider their own sunken eyes, hollow cheeks, and pallid countenance. They acknowledge with the Psalmist that, “You make his beauty to consume away like a moth: surely every man is vanity.” Psalm 39:11
Genius! What is it? Without faith, genius is only a lamp on the gate of a palace. It may serve to cast a gleam of light on those outside, but the inhabitant sits in darkness.
Pleasure! That has not left a trace behind it.
Fame! Of this their very soul acknowledges the emptiness. They are astonished that they could ever have been so infatuated as to pursue a shadow, to embrace a cloud. They now rate at its true value the fame which will be so soon forgotten in death.
As we approach the ‘land of realities,’ the ‘shadows of this earth’ cease to interest or mislead us.
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The films are removed from our eyes.
Objects are stripped of their false luster.
Nothing that is really little any longer looks great.
The mists of vanity are dispersed.
Eternal things assume their proper magnitude, for we behold them with a true vision.
We have ceased to lean on the world, for we have found it both a broken reed and a spear. It has failed us, and it has pierced us.
We lean not on ourselves, for we have long known our own weakness. We lean not on our virtues, for they can do nothing for us.
But we know in Whom we have trusted. We look upward with holy but humble confidence to that Great Shepherd, who having long since led us into green pastures, having corrected us by His rod, and by His staff supported us, will, we humbly trust, guide us through the dark valley of the shadow of death, and safely land us on the peaceful shores of everlasting rest!
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TRIVIAL PURSUITS!
Hannah More, “Practical Piety”
Trifling is ranked among the minor faults.
But, consider that a life devoted to trifles not only takes away the inclination, but the capacity for higher pursuits.
The truths of Christianity scarcely have more influence on a frivolous than on a depraved character. If the mind is so absorbed with what is useless, it loses all interest in a life of piety.
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It matters little what causes this lack of interest. If trifling cannot be accused of being a great moral evil, it at least reveals a low state of mind, that a being who has eternity at stake can abandon itself to trivial pursuits!
If the great concern of life cannot be secured without habitual watchfulness, how is it to be secured by habitual carelessness?
It will afford little comfort to the trifler when at the last reckoning he accuses the more criminal offender of worse behavior.
The trifler will not be weighed in the scale with the profligate, but in the balance of the sanctuary.
NO SCANTY THING, DOLED OUT IN PITTANCES!
John MacDuff, “The Faithful Promiser”
“God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8
All sufficiency in all things! Believer! Surely you are “thoroughly furnished!”
Grace is no scanty thing, doled out in pittances!
It is a glorious treasury, which the key of prayer can always unlock, but never empty.
God’s grace is a fountain, full, flowing, ever flowing, overflowing. Oh! precious thought! My need cannot impoverish that inexhaustible treasury of grace! Myriads are hourly hanging on it, and drawing from it, and yet there is no diminution! Out of that fullness all we too may receive, and grace for grace!
My soul, do you not love to dwell on that all abounding grace? Your own insufficiency in everything, met with
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an “all sufficiency in all things!” Grace in all circumstances and situations, in all vicissitudes and changes, in all the varied phases of the Christian’s being. Grace….
in sunshine and storm; in health and in sickness; in life and in death.
Grace….
for the old believer
for the young believer, for the tried believer,
for the weak believer, for the tempted believer.
Grace for duty;
grace in duty;
grace to carry the joyous cup with a steady hand;
grace to drink the bitter cup with an unmurmuring spirit; grace to have prosperity sanctified;
grace to say, through tears, “Your will be done!”
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OF WHAT VALUE IS ALL OUR KNOWLEDGE OF TRUTH?
Octavius Winslow, “Evening Thoughts”
Of what value is all our knowledge of truth….
if it does not lead us to Jesus;
if it does not expand our views of His glory;
if it does not conform our minds to His image; if it does not increase our love to Him,
if it does not quicken our obedience to His commands, if it does not quicken our zeal for His cause;
if it does not mature us, by a progressive holiness, for
the enjoyment of His beatific presence?
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GULPING DOWN INIQUITY?
Jeremiah Burroughs, “The Incomparable Excellency and Holiness of God”
“The mouth of the wicked gulps down iniquity.” Proverbs 19:28
This is a metaphor taken from the practice of brute creatures. Take a beast that has been kept from drink a long time and is exceedingly thirsty. If you bring it to the water, it will thrust its head into the water as if it would devour the whole river and never be satisfied.
That is the meaning of this phrase, “the mouth of the wicked gulps down iniquity.” When he comes to his sin, he is as greedy for it as the beast that has been kept from water is greedy for water.
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A SOPORIFIC INFLUENCE?
by Horatius Bonar
“Let us not sleep, as do others.” 1 Thessalonians 5:6 We all have a tendency to slumber.
As the disciples, both on the transfiguration hill and in Gethsemane, fell asleep, so do we in the most solemn circumstances and times.
The atmosphere of earth seems loaded with slumberous vapors. This present evil world exercises a soporific influence.
Satan, its god, the prince of the power of the air, does all he can to lull us asleep.
It is a struggle to keep awake.
Hence the necessity for the solemn and startling words “awake,” “arise,” “watch.”
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Be ever on your guard, as sentinels at their post; as watchmen on the towers of some beleaguered fort; as seamen navigating some difficult stream with windings, and sand banks, and rapids; or as servants sitting up at night to wait for their master’s return.
“What I say unto you, I say unto all, watch.”
“Be vigilant, for your adversary the devil walks about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
In the midst of a heedless world and an unwatchful church, how needful the perpetual warning, “Watch.” And all the more as we see the day approaching. The more that we see a world “sleeping,” or wasting its hours in vanity, and pleasure, and lust, and gaiety, the more let us feel the necessity for resisting the widespread influence, and keeping awake.
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POOR, NAKED, PENNILESS, WORTHLESS?
Octavius Winslow, “Morning Thoughts”
“Most assuredly, I tell you, the hour comes, and now is, when the dead will hear the Son of God’s voice; and those who hear will live.” John 5:25
There is the special, direct, and effectual call of the Spirit, in the elect of God, without which all other calling is in vain. The Spirit effectually works in the soul with an inward, supernatural, secret power. There is an energy put forth with the call, which….
awakens the conscience,
breaks the heart,
convinces the judgment,
opens the eye of the soul, and
pours a new and an alarming sound upon the hitherto
deaf ear.
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Mark the blessed effects….
the scales fall from the eyes,
the veil is torn from the mind,
the deep fountains of evil in the heart are broken up.
The sinner sees himself as…. lost and undone
without pardon,
without a righteousness, without acceptance, without a God,
without a Savior, without a hope!
Awful condition!
“What shall I do to be saved?” is his cry! “I am a wretch undone! I look within me, all is dark and vile; I look around me, everything seems but the image of my woe; I look above me, I see only an angry God. Whichever way I look, is hell! And were God now to send me there, just and right would He be.”
But, blessed be God, no poor soul that ever uttered such language, prompted by such feelings, ever died in despair! That faithful Spirit who begins the good work, effectually carries it on, and completes it.
Presently He leads him to the cross of Jesus and unveils to his glimmering eye of faith a….
suffering, wounded, bleeding, dying Savior;
and yet a Savior with outstretched arms!
That Savior speaks; oh, did ever music sound so melodious? “All this I do for you….
this cross for you,
these sufferings for you,
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this blood for you,
these stretched out arms for you.
Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Look unto Me, and be saved! Are you lost? I can save you!
Are you guilty? I can cleanse you!
Are you poor? I can enrich you!
Are you sunk low? I can raise you!
Are you naked? I can clothe you!
Have you nothing to bring with you?
No price?
No money? No goodness? No merit?
I can and will take you to Me, just as you are…. poor,
naked, penniless, worthless;
for such I came to seek, for such I came to die.”
“Lord, I believe,” exclaims the poor convinced soul! You are just the Savior that I need. I needed one that could and would save me….
with all my vileness, with all my rags, with all my poverty.
I needed one that would…. save me fully,
save me freely,
save me as an act of mere unmerited, undeserved grace! I have found Him whom my soul loves! and will be His through time, and His through eternity!”
Thus effectually does the blessed Spirit call a sinner, by His especial, invincible, and supernatural power, out of darkness into marvelous light!
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“I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.”
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GO, PERISH! UNGRATEFUL APOSTATE!
John MacDuff, “The Faithful Promiser”
“I will heal their backsliding.” Hosea 14:4 Wandering again?
And has He not left me to perish?
Stumbling and straying on the dark mountains, away from the Shepherd’s eye and the Shepherd’s fold, shall He not leave the erring wanderer to the fruit of his own ways and his truant heart, to go hopelessly onward in its career of guilty estrangement?
Man would say, “Go, perish! ungrateful apostate!” God says, “Return, O backsliding children!”
The Shepherd will not, cannot allow those sheep to perish, which He has purchased with His own blood!
How wondrous His forbearance towards it! Tracking its guilty steps, and ceasing not the pursuit until He lays the wanderer on His shoulders, and returns with it to His fold, rejoicing!
My soul! Why increase your distance from the fold by farther departures? Why lengthen the dreary road your gracious Shepherd has to traverse in bringing you back?
Do not delay your return!
Do not provoke His patience any longer!
Do not venture farther on forbidden ground!
He waits with outstretched arms to welcome you once
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more to His bosom. Be humble for the past; think of your former backslidings, and tremble. Think of His patience, and be filled with holy gratitude; and take courage. “I will heal their backsliding.” Hosea 14:4
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A DELICIOUS POISON?
Hannah More, “Practical Piety”
Human applause is a delicious poison which infuses itself into the purest Christian service. This yearning for fame and exaltation gradually tarnishes the purity of the best actions.
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MY SOUL, WHERE WOULD YOU HAVE BEEN THIS DAY?
John MacDuff, “The Faithful Promiser”
“Satan asked to have you, that he might sift you as wheat, but I prayed for you, that your faith wouldn’t fail.” Luke 22:31, 32
What a scene does this unfold….
Satan tempting, Jesus praying!
Satan sifting, Jesus pleading!
“The strong man assailing,”
“The stronger than the strong” beating him back!
Believer! here is the past history and present secret of your safety in the midst of temptation.
An interceding Savior was at your side, saying to every threatening wave, “Thus far shall you go, and no farther!”
God often permits His people to be on the very verge of the precipice, to remind them of their own weakness; but never farther than the brink!
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The restraining hand of grace of Omnipotence is ready to rescue them, “Although he stumbles, yet he shall not be utterly cast down.” And why? “For the Lord upholds him with His right hand!”
The wolf may be prowling for his prey; but what can he do when the Shepherd is always there, tending with the watchful eye that “neither slumbers nor sleeps?”
Who cannot subscribe to the testimony, “When my foot slipped, Your mercy, O Lord! held me up”? Who can look back on his past pilgrimage, and fail to see it crowded with monuments with this inscription: “You have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from falling”?
My soul, where would you have been this day, had you not been “kept by the power of God”?
IN A FEW YEARS?
by Thomas Chalmers, 1780 – 1847
“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a
heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12
How perishable is human life, yet no one lays it to heart. With the magnificence of eternity before us, let time, with all its fluctuations, dwindle into its own littleness.
In a few years our heads will be laid in the cold grave, and the green turf will cover us. The children who come after us will tread upon our graves.
They will weep for us a few days. They will talk of us a few months. They will remember us a few years.
Then our memory shall disappear from the face of the earth, and not a tongue shall be found to recall it. “Oh
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that they were wise, that they understood this, That they would consider their latter end!” Deut. 32:29
O God, help me to live for Your glory. As the years roll over me, may I withdraw my affections from time, and feel that in moving through the world, I am moving toward eternity.
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THIRST AGAIN?
by John MacDuff
“Everyone who drinks of this water shall thirst again.” John 4:13
All creature and ‘created good’ is inadequate of itself to satisfy the yearnings of the human soul.
In every breast there is a craving after happiness.
“Who will show us any good?” is the sigh, the soliloquy, of weary humanity.
There are many streams of ‘created’ enjoyment. Some of these lawful, innocent, exhilarating, which have the blessing and favor of God resting upon them. Others are poor, vile, degraded, unworthy.
But even the best and purest, viewed by themselves and apart from God, can afford no permanent bliss or satisfaction.
They do not, cannot quench the immortal thirst.
Pitcher after pitcher may be brought to the well’s mouth; the golden goblet of riches; the jeweled flagon with the luscious draught of earthly glory; or the brimming transparent pitcher drawn up by the silken cord of human affection.
But He who knows the human heart pronounces that “thirst again” is the property and characteristic of them all.
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The finite can never be a satisfying portion for that which was born for the infinite.
Satisfying portion?
Philosophy, with its eagle soarings, says, “It is not in me!”
The pride of rank, crowns and coronets, and lordly titles, says, “It is not in me!”
The laurel of conquest, as it withers on the warrior’s brow, says, “It is not in me!”
Gold, with its glittering heaps, laughs its votaries to scorn, and says, “It is not in me!”
Jesus does not condemn many of these worldly streams of innocent pleasure, or forbid their being resorted to. He who knows our frame would lay no cruel arrest on many objects of lawful earthly pursuit; the many wells of earthly happiness. All He says of them is, “If you restrict your happiness to these, you will not be satisfied; you will assuredly thirst again. The well of living waters that I tell you of, is more far lasting than all earthly sources of supply.”
“Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” John 4:13, 14
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GO SIMPLY TO JESUS!
Octavius Winslow, “Evening Thoughts”
What is your sorrow?
Has health failed you?
Has property forsaken you?
Have friends turned against you? Are you tried in your circumstances?
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Are you perplexed in your path?
Are providences thickening and darkening around you? Are you anticipating seasons of approaching trial? Are you walking in darkness, having no light?
Go simply to Jesus!
He is a tender, loving, faithful Friend, ever near. He is a Brother born for your adversity.
His grace and sympathy are sufficient for you.
The great secret of a life of faith is…. to hang upon Jesus daily;
to go to Him in every trial;
to cast upon Him every burden;
to take the infirmity, the corruption, the cross, as it rises, simply and immediately to Jesus.
You are to set Christ before you…. as your Example to imitate;
as your Fountain to wash in;
as your Foundation to build upon; as your Fullness to draw from;
as your tender, loving, and confiding Brother and Friend,
to go to at all times and under all circumstances.
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EARTH WORM!
Jonathan Edwards, “The Justice of God”
What covetousness has been in many of you!
Such has been your inordinate love of the world, and care about the things of it, that it has taken up your heart.
For the vanities of the world you have allowed no room for God; you have minded the world more than your eternal salvation.
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For the vanities of the world you have neglected reading, praying and meditation.
For the vanities of the world you have cast God, and Christ, and heaven, behind your back.
For the vanities of the world you have sold your own soul.
You have as it were drowned your soul in worldly cares and desires; you have been a mere earthworm, that is never in its element but when groveling and buried in the earth!
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JESUS ENRICHES HIS BRIDE WITH GIFTS!
Henry Law, “The Heavenly Bridegroom” 1854
Jesus enriches His bride with gifts! Angels may marvel, dazzled by the Church’s wealth.
He holds back nothing from her. All His attributes are her grand inheritance!
His wisdom is hers to guide!
His power is hers to uphold!
His love is as the sun to cheer!
His faithfulness and truth are her shield and support!
His Spirit is poured down in unfailing measure to teach, to solace, and to bless her!
His righteousness is hers, to be her spotless robe. His heavens are hers, to be her home!
His throne is hers, to be her seat!
His glory is hers, to be her crown!
His eternity is hers, that she may rejoice forever!
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LAWS OF NATURE?
John MacDuff, “Memories of Patmos”
“You shall be visited of the LORD of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire.” Isaiah 29:6
Winds, and earthquakes, and tempests are not the capricious outbreaks of unregulated mechanical force. The laws of nature are, in the loftiest sense, the exponents and expressions of God’s higher will.
Let us not dethrone and undeify the great Maker and Sustainer, by substituting for His sovereign rule what are called the laws of nature.
The world’s vast machinery, with all its varied and intri- cate movements, is under His supervision and control.
“He holds the winds in His fists.”
“He gathers the waters in the hollow of His hand.”
“He makes the clouds His chariot.”
“He directs the snow to fall on the earth, and tells the rain to pour down.”
This offers a lesson of soothing consolation to many a stricken heart. That lightning which struck down my child was an arrow out of the quiver of God!
That wave which swept him from the vessel’s side; or that hurricane which overthrew my dwelling, and buried loved ones in the ruins, had their pathway marked out by God!
He brings forth the lightning out of His treasuries! He gives the sea its decree!
He walks on the wings of the wind!
All things are subservient to the controlling will and purposes of the Most High God.
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“Doesn’t evil and good come out of the mouth of the Most High?” Lamentations 3:38
A PARTICULAR, PERSONAL, SPECIAL LOVE!
John MacDuff
“The sheep listen to His voice. He calls His
own sheep by name and leads them out.” John 10:3
The Good Shepherd knows all His sheep individually and personally. He knows….
their names;
their circumstances; their trials;
their sorrows;
their joys.
He calls them….
His friends,
His brethren,
His peculiar treasure.
“I have called you by your name; you are Mine!” Yes! let us not lose the unutterable comfort of this!
God takes a special oversight and supervision of His creatures and their actions, of the minute circumstances and accidents of their daily life.
His is a particular, personal, special love!
The individual is not lost in the mass or the aggregate.
Believer! He loves you as if you stood alone in His world, and as if He had none other but you on whom to lavish His solicitudes!
Most comforting and consoling truth!
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Jesus, the Shepherd Savior, is ever preceding me; marking out all that befalls me; appointing and controlling the minutest events in my personal history, and loving me with an affection of which earth’s tenderest relationships afford the feeblest type.
See the mother seated by the couch of her suffering child! Watch her tender unremitting care; the hours and nights of sleepless vigilance she bends over the cherub form; smoothing its pillow, and moistening its fevered lips.
What a picture! It is earth’s most touching symbol of love and sacred affection. God points to that watchful parent and says, “Though she may forget, I will not forget you!”
“Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yes, these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” Isaiah 49:15
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WHY DO OUR HEARTS GROW SO COLD?
Winslow, “Love at the Foot of the Cross”
Beloved, why do our hearts grow so cold in their affections towards Jesus?
The influence of the world will chill it!
The encroachments of temporal engagements upon the study of God’s Word and the devout transactions of the closet, will chill it.
The society of cold, worldly professors will chill it. Unfitting levity of spirit will chill it.
Trifling with sin will chill it.
Carnal pursuits will chill it.
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An idolatrous love of the creature will chill it.
Fretting against the Lord, murmuring at His dealings, rebellion against His authority and chastenings, will chill it.
Alas! how much there is to produce deep and sad declension in the love of our hearts to the Lord. How easily its warm, flowing current chills and congeals!
Oh that our hearts should so soon grow cold in their affections towards Him whose love to us is ever so warm, who ransomed us from hell with His own heart’s blood!
Let shame and confusion of face cover us. Let deep humiliation, tender, holy contrition, prostrate us beneath the cross, that we should for one moment gaze coldly upon so divine and gracious, so lovely and precious a Redeemer!
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HEAVENLY HOMESICKNESS?
Spurgeon, “Nunc Dimittis”
Have you ever felt heavenly homesickness? Surely, when your heart has been full of the Bridegroom’s beauty, and your soul has been ravished with His dear and ever precious love, you have said: “When shall the day break, and the shadows flee away? Why are His chariots so long in coming?”
You have swooned, as it were, with love sickness for your precious Savior, thirsting to see Him as He is, and to be like Him.
The world is black when Christ is seen in His beauty. The world is a poor heap of ashes when Jesus is altogether lovely to us. f
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EVERYTHING YOU HAD STRUGGLED TO GAIN
Newman Hall, “The Choice of Moses” 1867
Christian, what is the value of all that which you relinquish to follow Christ? Grant all that may be urged in its favor. Let money, and luxury, and fame, and power, and the pleasures of sin in their fairest forms and largest measure, be combined in one great mountain of attractive fascination; and the question arises, “How long will all this last?”
You know the story of the Eastern king, one of whose courtiers, surveying the magnificence, flatteringly asked, “What is lacking here?” The monarch replied, with a sigh, “Continuance.”
Yes! a worm is hidden in the loveliest blossom, a serpent creeps amid the fairest flowers, the wealthiest summer beckons winter frosts, and the longest and the brightest days close in night.
Of what avail is it to say, “Soul, you have plenty of good things laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry;” when the message is given, “This night your soul shall be required of you!”
What will be your remorse at death if you shall have chosen, as your chief portion, that which thus perishes?
How terrible to find everything you had struggled to gain slipping from your grasp….
money, luxuries, position, power, learning, fame;
all retreating and leaving you alone!
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Was it for this you refused the enduring riches, and the endless delights of piety?
Alas! what multitudes in the unseen world now regret, when it is too late, so mad a choice! What to them is every remembrance of the pleasures of sin, but fuel added to the fire of their remorse?
“By faith, Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to share ill treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a time; accounting the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he looked to the reward.” Hebrews 11:24-26
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EVERYONE DESIRES TO BE SAVED FROM THE PIT
Spurgeon, “Our Watchword”
The unsaved sinner loves a salvation from hell. The true Christian loves a salvation from sin.
Everyone desires to be saved from the pit, but it is only a child of God who pants to be saved from every false way.
We love the Gospel because it saves us…. from selfishness,
from pride,
from lust,
from worldliness, from bitterness, from malice, and from sloth.
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WEAKNESS AND HELPLESSNESS?
Hannah More, “The Love of God”
The weakness and helplessness of the Christian resemble that of an infant.
By attempting to walk alone we discover our weakness. The experience of that weakness humbles us, and every fall drives us back to the sustaining hand whose assis- tance we vainly flattered ourselves we no longer needed.
Our spiritual life does not become strong, vigorous, and full grown at once, but through a long and often painful course. This keeps up a sense of dependence, and accustoms us to lean on the hand which fosters us.
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A POWERFUL AND EVER SLEEPLESS FOE!
Octavius Winslow, “Hoping in the Lord”
The world is a powerful and ever sleepless foe! Prayerfully and vigilantly guard against its every subtle influence. Beware of….
its friendships, its pursuits,
its recreation and its religion.
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THE GRAND DISTINCTION?
by Thomas Reade
Supreme love to the Lord Jesus Christ is the governing principle of every believer.
This sacred attachment to the Savior forms the grand distinction between the children of God, and the children of the wicked one.
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A MODEL MARRIAGE
Spurgeon, “The Saint One with His Savior”
Sometimes we have seen a model marriage, founded in pure love and cemented in mutual esteem. Therein the husband acts as a tender head; and the wife, as a true spouse, delights in her husband, in his person, his character, his affection. To her he is not only the chief and foremost of mankind, but in her eyes he is all in all, her heart’s love belongs to him and to him only. She finds sweetest contentment and solace in his company, his fellowship, his fondness. He is her little world, her paradise, her choice treasure. To please him she would gladly lay aside her own pleasure, to find it doubled in gratifying him. She is glad to sink her individuality in his. She seeks no name for herself; his honor is reflected upon her, and she rejoices in it. She would defend his name with her dying breath, safe enough is he where she can speak for him.
The domestic circle is her kingdom. That she may there create happiness and comfort is her lifework, and his smiling gratitude is all the reward she seeks. Even in her dress she thinks of him, without constraint she consults his taste, and thinks nothing beautiful which is obnoxious to his eye. A tear from his eye, because of any unkindness on her part, would grievously torment her. She asks not how her behavior may please a stranger, or how another’s judgment may be satisfied with her behavior; let her beloved be content and she is glad. He has many objects in life, some of which she does not quite understand, but she believes in them all, and anything that she can do to promote them she delights to perform.
He lavishes love on her and she on him. Their object in life is common. There are points where their affections
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so intimately unite that none could tell which is first and which is second. To see their children growing up in health and strength, to see them holding posts of usefulness and honor, is their mutual concern; in this and other matters they are fully one. Their wishes blend, their hearts are indivisible. By degrees they come very much to think the same thoughts. Intimate association creates conformity; we have known this to become so complete that at the same moment the same utterance has leaped to both their lips.
At last the two are so welded, so engrafted on one stem, that their old age presents a lovely attachment, a common sympathy, by which its infirmities are greatly alleviated, and its burdens are transformed into fresh bonds of love. So happy a union of will, sentiment, thought, and heart exists between them, that the two streams of their life have washed away the dividing bank, and run on as one broad current of united existence, until their common joy falls into the main ocean of felicity.
Happy woman and happy man!
If heaven be found on earth they have it!
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HIS EAR IS EVER OPEN TO YOUR CRY
Thomas Reade, “Christian Meditations”
Do you love God?
Then rejoice in the sweet assurance, that nothing shall be able to separate you from His love.
Do not fear.
He, who fills all space with his presence is your Friend.
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His arm encircles you.
His power protects you.
His eye is ever upon you.
His ear is ever open to your cry.
Nothing can harm you without His permission; for He will make all things work together for your good; He will supply all your needs, according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
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COMMON OR PRICELESS?
Spurgeon, “Praises and Vows Accepted in Zion”
We have our common mercies. We call them common, but, oh, how priceless they are!
Health to be able to come here and not to be stretched on a bed of sickness, I count this better than bags of gold.
To have our reason, and not to be confined in yonder asylum; to have our children still about us and dear relatives spared still to us; to have bread to eat, and clothing to put on; to have been kept from defiling our character; to have been preserved today from the snares of the enemy! These are godlike mercies!
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GET RID OF GOD!
Bonar, “Man’s Dislike of a Present God”
“They tell God, ‘Depart from us, For we don’t want to know about Your ways.’” Job 21:14
The men who speak thus are not atheists. They do not say there is no God. They may be scoffers, blasphemers, ungodly; but they are not atheists.
They whom Job describes are worldly men. God seems to them as a dark shadow overclouding all their joy.
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The world, with its riches, its possessions, its pleasures, its friendships, is their all.
They have nothing beyond it, and they do not wish anything beyond it. They are satisfied. They love the world, and are resolved to make the best of it that they can. When anything comes in between it and them, or threatens to prevent their enjoying it, such as pain, or sickness, or death, they thrust it away.
Fallen man has no liking for God or His ways. He looks on Him as…
an obstruction,
an unpleasant visitor, a dark cloud,
a spoiler of his pleasure.
Man has a desire to get rid of God; to thrust Him into a corner of His universe, where He will least disturb him.
At the bottom of all this feeling is the love of the world. It is this that prompts men to seek to get rid of God.
An abstraction, a creed, a system of theology, they bear with, because it does not interfere with their worldliness; but God Himself can only be tolerated as a shadowy, impalpable, far distant being.
Thus the age tries to get rid of God. It does so, because it dreads Him; it has no relish for Him; His presence is a gloomy shadow; His nearness would interfere with all worldly schemes and pleasures.
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A WEEPING BAND?
by John MacDuff
“The days of your mourning shall be ended.” Isaiah 60:20 Christ’s people are a weeping band, though there be
much in this lovely world to make them joyous and
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happy. Yet when they think of their sin, need we wonder at their tears in their pilgrimage in this “valley of tears?”
Bereavement, sickness, poverty, and death follow the track of sin, adding to their mourning experience; and with many of God’s best beloved, one tear is scarcely dried when another is ready to flow!
Mourners! rejoice! When the reaping time comes, the weeping time ends! When the white robe and the golden harp are bestowed, every remnant of the sackcloth attire is removed.
The moment the pilgrim, whose forehead is here furrowed with woe, bathes it in the crystal river of life; that moment the pangs of a lifetime of sorrow are eternally forgotten!
Reader! if you are one of these careworn ones, the days of your mourning are numbered! A few more throbbings of this aching heart, and then shall sorrow, and sighing, and mourning, “be no longer!”
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WORM JACOB!
John MacDuff, “Help for the Feeble”
“Don’t be afraid, you worm Jacob, and you men of Israel; I will help you, says the Lord, and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 41:14
Worm Jacob!
What weakness! What insignificance! What unworthiness!
Yet it is this helpless, groveling “worm,” that receives God’s sympathy, and has the assurance of His almighty aid.
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Believer, beaten down it may be, with a great fight of affliction; or trembling under a sense of your unworthiness and guilt; mourning….
the coldness of your faith,
the lukewarmness of your love,
the frequency of your backslidings,
the fitfulness of your best purposes, and the feebleness of your best services;
your God draws near to you; He remembers that though you are a worm, still you are “worm Jacob!” His own beloved one.
“I will help you!” Yes, poor, weak, trembling one; the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One, loves to draw near to His people in the extremity of their weakness.
“I will help you” is enough for all the emergencies of the present, and all the contingencies of an untried, and, it may be, a dark future.
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A STATE OF VANITY
Octavius Winslow, “Evening Thoughts”
The world through which the Christian is passing to his rest, may be emphatically called a state of vanity. How perpetually and forcibly are we reminded of Solomon’s exclamation, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.”
“Surely every man walks in a vain show.”
His origin, the earth;
his birth, degenerate;
his rank, a bauble;
his wealth, but glittering dust; his pomp, an empty pageant; his beauty, a fading flower;
his pursuits, an infant’s play;
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his honors, vexations of spirit; his joys, fleeting as a cloud; his life, transient as a vapor; his final home, a grave.
Surely “man at his best state is altogether vanity.”
And what is his religion but vanity?
His native holiness, a vain conceit;
his natural light, Egyptian darkness;
his human wisdom, egregious folly;
his religious forms, and rites, and duties,
“a vain show in the flesh;”
his most gorgeous righteousness, “filthy rags.”
In the impressive language of Scripture, of him it may be said, “That man’s religion is vain.”
WHAT HAVE I TO BE PROUD OF?
John MacDuff, “Infinite Condescension”
What have I to be proud of? Nothing!
I am dependent continually on Your bounty.
My existence, my health, my strength, my reason, are all a loan from You, the Great Proprietor, who can, in the twinkling of an eye,….
paralyze strength,
dethrone reason,
arrest the pulses of joyous life,
and write upon all I have, “Ichabod, the glory has departed!”
I am a pensioner from hour to hour on redeeming grace and love! But for Jesus, I would be lost forever!
O God, destroy every pedestal of pride in my heart. Make me humble; keep me humble.
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THE PARENT OF NUMBERLESS SINS?
Newman Hall, “Follow Jesus”
Pride is the parent of numberless sins.
High notions of what we deserve from God, or from men, produce….
impatience, discontent,
envy,
anger,
strife, and
all uncharitableness.
Lord, give me a humble heart. Conscious that I deserve nothing good from You, may I receive joys with thankfulness, and sorrows with submission.
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REFUGE FOR THE SOUL
Newman Hall, “The Shadow of the Almighty” 1867
The desert is dreary. The way is long.
Heavily burdened, a weary traveler slowly drags onward his wounded feet. Faint by reason of the fiery blaze which smites him from the unclouded sky and the scorching sand, he eagerly looks around for shelter. He pants for even the muddiest pool where he may quench his raging thirst.
In such “a weary land,” how welcome “the shadow of a great rock,” and the clear, cool fountain gushing up within its rugged clefts!
But where can such a refuge for the soul be found…. weary with wandering,
crushed by care,
groaning under guilt?
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Where can….
its burden be taken off,
its sorrows soothed,
its mighty thirst assuaged?
“A Man shall be as a hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest, as streams of water in a dry place, as the shade of a great rock in a weary land.” Isaiah 32:2
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FOREVER BEHOLDING FRESH BEAUTIES!
Newman Hall, “Follow Jesus”
When we get to heaven, what joy will it be to rehearse the events of the journey, and to see how the path was strewn all along with mercies.
How blessed will be…. rest after toil,
safety after peril, victory after conflict.
Jesus will still lead us into fresh pastures, to higher and yet higher regions of knowledge, purity, and bliss.
No carnal desires will drag us down.
No sinful habits will cling to and entangle us.
The flesh will no longer lust against the spirit.
No enemies will beset the road, to allure us from it, or check our advance.
We shall forever follow Jesus….
forever beholding fresh beauties in His countenance, forever discovering new glories in His character, forever experiencing fresh raptures in His love!
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–52–

THIS UNRAVELS THE MYSTERY!
Octavius Winslow, “Christ, the Counselor”
The path of providence is often paved with difficulties, and beset with perplexities with which we can ill cope.
Our way to heaven is through an intricate wilderness and across a circuitous desert.
To many even of the Lord’s people this is literally the case. Visit their abodes, and ponder the struggle passing within! All is….
poverty and discomfort, penury of bread, scantiness of clothing, pining sickness, loathsome disease, excruciating suffering, with no human friends, no soothing alleviation, no earthly comforts.
And yet not entirely unrelieved is this dark picture. Christ dwells in that obscure abode!
God’s eye is watching over it!
There is….
gnawing poverty—and yet boundless wealth; deep need—and yet a rich supply;
acute suffering—and yet exquisite pleasure; keen sorrow—and yet unspeakable joy.
And why these paradoxes? How are we to understand these strange contradictions?
The apostle gives us a clue in a page of his own history. “As unknown, and yet well known;
as dying, and, behold, we live;
as chastened, and not killed;
–53–

as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing;
as poor, yet making many rich;
as having nothing, yet possessing all things.”
This unravels the mystery!
The possession of Christ explains it! He who has Christ in him, and Christ with him, and the hope of being forever with Christ in glory, is not a poor, nor a sorrowful, nor a suffering, nor a lone man. He can say, “I am not alone, for my Father is with me. I am not poor, for all things are mine. My body is diseased, but my soul is in health. I have all and abound.”
Can we for a moment doubt His perfect power to undertake all the cares,
to cope with all the difficulties,
to solve all the doubts, and
to disentangle all the perplexities brought to Him by His saints in all places and at all times?
AFFLICTIONS, SORROWS, TRIALS
Henry Law, “Psalms” 1878
“But God is the judge. He puts down one, and lifts up another. For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup, full of foaming wine mixed with spices. He pours it out. Indeed the wicked of the earth drink and drink it to its very dregs.” Psalm 75:7-8
God’s mode of dealing is often wrapped in mystery.
We fail to understand why one is elevated to the highest rank, while others seem to waste their days in poverty, obscurity, and low estate.
But no misgivings should arise.
It should be firmly fixed in our persuasions that in all
these matters God’s hand prevails. –54–
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Thus, also, afflictions, sorrows, trials are all appointed by the same unerring wisdom.
His hand holds a cup which is mixed in accordance with His righteous will. According to His good pleasure He causes the sons of men to drink from it.
But what will be the portion of the wicked? Let them tremble! They are forewarned that they must wring out the dregs indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish forever!
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HE FOUND IT IN THE PRISON HOUSE OF THE DEVIL
Henry Law, “Psalms” 1878
“Come and hear, all you who fear God. I will declare
what He has done for my soul.” Psalm 66:16
Of what did the Psalmist speak?
Of all that God had done for his soul.
Oh! the breadth and length, the depth and height, of this most marvelous declaration!
He visited his soul in darkness, and gave the light of life! He found it in the prison house of the devil, and translated it
into the kingdom of grace and glory!
He saw it laden with all iniquities, and removed the total burden!
He saw it filthy in all the mire of evil, and clothed it with the garments of righteousness and salvation!
Such is the theme of the believer’s story; but heaven must be reached and eternity exhausted, before the
whole can be told.
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–55–

ARE THERE NO EXCEPTIONS?
Henry Law, “Psalms” 1878
“The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity. There is no one who does good.” Psalm 53:1
The heart is the true mirror of the man. Its language speaks the real character.
If we could hear the secret whispers of a graceless heart, the sound would be uniformly evil.
The godless cherish the delusion that there is no being greater than themselves. Their conceit ignores divine supremacy, and scorns to yield to a superior yoke.
Such men exist in fearful numbers.
The faithful Word declares it, and truly adds that they are fools! They may pride themselves in imagined wisdom, but their real place is in the depths of ignorance. Their light is darkness.
Their boasted knowledge is extremest folly.
It follows that from atheism in heart, comes wickedness in
life.
The spring being impure, what can flow from it but
defilement?
The tree is rotten at the core; the branches cannot be sound.
Their works, the emblems of their hearts, can only be abomination. They only pollute the earth; hateful to God, injurious to man.
Are there no exceptions?
Not one by nature!
–56–

There is no good but what the Holy Spirit implants. Where He is absent only evil dwells, and He has no abode in unregenerate men.
“The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity. There is no one who does good.” Psalm 53:1
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TO LOVE A WORM!
Spurgeon, “The Joy of the Lord”
Does it not make a man glad to know that though once his sins had provoked the Lord, they are now all blotted out, not one of them remains; though once he was estranged from God, and far off from him by wicked works, yet he is made near by the blood of Christ.
The Lord is no longer an angry judge pursuing us with a drawn sword; but a loving Father into whose bosom we pour our sorrows, and find ease for every pang of heart.
Oh, to know, that God actually loves us!
I have often told you I cannot preach upon that theme, for it is a subject to muse upon in silence, a matter to sit by the hour together and meditate upon.
The Infinite, to love….
an insignificant creature, an ephemera of an hour, a shadow that declines!
Is not this a marvel?
For God to pity me I can understand. For God to condescend to have mercy upon me I can comprehend. But for Him to love me—for the pure One to love a sinner, for the infinitely great One to love a worm—is matchless, a miracle of miracles!
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–57–

THE VERY THOUGHT IS HORROR!
Henry Law, “Psalms”
“Don’t gather my soul with sinners.” Ps. 26:9
There is a bundle of tares that shall be burned.
Hell is no fiction!
The very thought is horror!
What must be the dreadful reality!
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THE SADDEST PICTURE OF MAN’S MALIGNITY!
Henry Law, “Psalms”
“Many bulls have surrounded me. Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me. They open their mouths wide against me, Lions tearing prey and roaring.” Ps. 22:12-13
We return in spirit to the cross.
The dying Jesus looks around; multitudes encircle Him. With open mouth ferociously they assault Him. Throughout the crowd there is no sign of pity; all hearts seem dead to common feelings of humanity; they show the properties of the wildest beasts; they are savage as the untamed bull; they thirst for blood as the devouring lion.
This is the saddest picture of man’s malignity!
What frightful fury raged against Jesus, the perfect model of holiness and love! His only offense was that He walked this earth as God.
We see what man is when no grace restrains.
If we love Jesus, whom the world thus hated, let us give praise to God’s grace, which causes us to differ.
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–58–

THERE IS A GREAT DEAL OF PROFESSION
J. West, “Spiritual Desires Satisfied in Christ” 1858
There is a great deal of profession in the present day. But it is one thing to profess to be a Christian, and another thing to be a brokenhearted follower of a despised Christ.
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EMPTY BUBBLES!
Henry Law, “Psalms”
“I hate those who regard lying vanities,
But I trust in the Lord.
I will be glad and rejoice in Your lovingkindness,
For You have seen my affliction.
You have known my soul in adversities.” Psalm 31:6-7
Many vain cheats are impudent to deceive us!
Riches,
honors,
titles,
reason,
intellect,
invite us to rely on their aid.
But they are empty bubbles. Their promises are fraud.
The believer flees with abhorrence from those who walk in these deceits.
He has a large volume of experience. In trouble he has found that God’s thoughts were on him. All his adverse circumstances have been lovingly regarded. In all his ways of sorrow God has been by his side.
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–59–

STRONG, IMMUTABLE, AND ETERNAL
Henry Law, “Psalms”
“When my father and my mother forsake me, Then the Lord
will take me up.” Psalm 27:10
Earthly relationships are easily dissolved. Affection may decay.
Fickleness begets estrangement.
Distance may part.
Death comes, and desolation sits where happy fellowship once reigned.
But God’s love is strong, immutable, and eternal. His heart beats with tenderness, and is incapable of diminution or of change.
O Father, ever be a Father unto us!
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THE SCHOOL OF TRIAL
Henry Law, “The Smitten Rock”
Believer, do not think of undisturbed repose until the flesh is forever dropped.
There is a ceaseless cycle of sorrow and temptation here in this world.
But do not despise the scourge.
It has a teaching voice.
It is held by a loving Father’s hand.
Hence the command, ‘Hear the rod, and Him who has appointed it.’
The school of trial best discloses….
the hidden vileness of the heart, and the vast riches of a Savior’s grace!
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–60–

EVIL WILL NOT DIE UNTIL OUR LORD RETURNS!
Henry Law, “Psalms”
“Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end, But establish the righteous; Their minds and hearts are searched by the righteous God.” Psalm 7:9
Sights and sounds of evil are anguish to a pious heart. They pain him, because they are abhorrent to his new nature. He turns from them as images of Satan; he loathes them as rebellion against God. Hence he burns with desire that they may be repressed. Hence he wearies heaven with cries that God would drive iniquity into outer darkness.
But evil will not die until our Lord returns!
Only then shall the wickedness of the wicked reach its end. Faith waits expectantly for the blissful reign; it visits in anticipating thought the new heavens and the new earth.
In heaven, there is no form of sin; its hideous features are forever gone.
The reign of righteousness has come. Each heart is holy.
Each look reflects God’s image. Every sound is pure.
All is transcendent happiness, for all is holiness. No evil will pollute the glorious scene.
Outside is sin and all sin’s slaves. Within is the Lamb’s bride, all glorious in her robes of white!
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–61–

HE SITS ON THE CALM THRONE OF ETERNAL SERENITY!
Henry Law, “The Gospel in Exodus”
Jesus cannot change. He is as constant as He is great. As surely as He ever lives, so surely He ever lives the same. He sits on the calm throne of eternal serenity!
Change is the defect of things below.
Our brightest morn often ends in storm.
Summer’s radiance gives place to winter’s gloom.
The smiling flower soon lies withered.
The babbling brook is soon a parched channel.
The friend who smiled, smiles no more friendly welcomes.
Bereavement weeps where once the family beamed with domestic joy.
Gardens wither into deserts.
Babylons crumble into unsightly ruins.
On all things a sad inscription writes…. fleeting!
transient!
vanishing!
Time flaps a ceaseless wing, and from its wings, decay and death drop down.
But Jesus sits high above all this. He is ‘the same yesterday, and today, and forever.’
The love of Jesus is in perpetual bloom. It is always in summertime. The roots are deeply buried in Himself; therefore the branches cannot fade. Believer, drink hourly of this cup of joy.
–62–

Christ loved you fully when, in the councils of eternity, He received you into His heart.
He loved you truly when, in the fullness of time, He took upon Himself your curse, and drained your hell- deep dues.
He loved you tenderly when He showed you, by the Spirit, His hands and His feet, and whispered to you that you were His.
He loves you faithfully while He ceases not to intercede in your behalf, and to scatter blessings on your soul.
He will love you intensely in heaven when you are mani- fested as His precious purchase and crowned as His bride! f
CHASING BUBBLES ON PERDITION’S BRINK?
Henry Law, “The Golden Lampstand”
Without Christ, the affairs of this world are but a puzzled maze. Poor blinded man sees nothing as it really is. He does not know the true end of his being.
He imagines the tinsel to be gold.
He counts the true gold as dross.
He treasures up the chaff as wheat.
All his view is bounded by time’s narrow line! All his heart is fixed on vanity’s vain trifles! He chases bubbles on perdition’s brink!
He profits no one and he ruins himself!
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–63–

THESE BOASTED JOYS?
Henry Law, “The Incense Altar”
You may have wealth. It cannot profit long.
You may have health. Decay will cause its flower to fade.
You may have strength. It soon will totter to the grave.
You may have honors. A breath will blast them.
You may have flattering friends. They are but as a summer brook.
These boasted joys often now cover an aching heart, but….
they never gave a grain of solid peace;
they never healed a wounded conscience; they never won approving looks from God; they never crushed the sting of sin.
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SIN FOR YOU!
Suzanna Wesley
Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off your relish for spiritual things; is sin for you, however, innocent it may be in itself.
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THE SHIELD
Henry Law, “Psalms”
“Many there are who say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah. But you, Lord, are a shield around me, My glory, and the one who lifts up my head.” Psalm 3:2-3
In darkest days faith shines with brightest glow. In the wild storm it looks to God and sings. No weapon can succeed against it. No billows can submerge it.
–64–

God, even God Himself, surrounds His children as a shield. The shaft which touches them must pierce
through God!
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WHAT IS TIME?
David Harsha, “Come to the Savior”
Time is a stream which is rapidly bearing us all to the boundless ocean of eternity!
Let us ask again, with all seriousness, WHAT IS TIME?
I asked an aged man, a man of cares,
Wrinkled, and curved, and white with hoary hairs; “Time is the warp of life,” he said, “Oh tell,
The young, the fair, the gay, to weave it well!”
I asked the ancient, venerable dead,
Sages who wrote, and warriors who bled; From the cold grave a hollow murmur flowed, “Time sowed the seed we reap in this abode!”
I asked a dying sinner, before the tide
Of life had left his veins: “Time!” he replied; “I’ve lost it! ah, the treasure!” and he died.
I asked the golden sun and silver spheres, Those bright chronometers of days and years; They answered, “Time is but a meteor glare,” And bids us for Eternity prepare.
I asked the Seasons, in their annual round, Which beautify or desolate the ground;
And they replied no oracle more wise,
“Tis folly’s blank, and wisdom’s highest prize!”
I asked a lost spirit, but oh, the shriek
That pierced my soul! I shudder while I speak! It cried, “a particle! a speck! a mite
Of endless years, duration infinite!”
–65–

I asked my Bible and it said,
“Time is the present hour, the past is fled; Live! live today! tomorrow never yet
On any living being rose or set!”
I asked Old Father Time himself at last;
But in a moment he flew swiftly past–
His chariot was a cloud, the viewless wind
His noiseless steeds; which left no trace behind.
I asked a mighty angel, who shall stand
One foot on sea, and one on solid land;
“By Heaven,” he cried, “I swear the mystery’s o’er; “Time was,” he cried, “but Time shall be no more!”
Let us ask again, with all seriousness, What is time? Time is the path to glory, or the path to hell!
EACH MOTHER’S INFANT?
Henry Law, “The Healer”
Let us remove the mask, then, and behold the
multiform malignity of this fiend, SIN. Sin is a universal taint.
No child escapes it.
We tread this earth diverse…. in climate,
in station,
in mental power,
in mold of temper, and in frame of body.
But all who breathe life’s breath are spotted with this plague!
Adam’s foul fall infused the evil poison into human nature’s veins.
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–66–

Each parent sows this seed.
No offspring is infection free.
Cain was conceived in sin.
The last babe born must be corruption’s heir.
Reader! your cradle may have been wealth’s downy pillow, or poverty’s harsh provisions. You may have intellect to command a gazing world’s applause, or you may crawl unknown to an unknown grave. In these externals no two may be the same.
But all are one in oneness of distempered soul. Each mother’s infant is transgression’s child.
Sin is an all-spoiling evil.
It is a weed which overruns the garden.
It stains all men, and every part in each.
It enters to pervade. Its root is in the soul. But its fibers and its branches spread through each faculty of mind and body. See how it masters the whole inner frame.
The heart first sickens. This becomes harder than the nether millstone, the nest of every unclean bird, the den of lust’s vile brood.
The head soon grows distempered. Hence error and ignorance expel right judgment. The world is worshiped as a rightful lord. Hell is derided as some weak fable. Repentance is reserved for dying moments. The glorious Word is scorned as the bewildered page in which the brainsick and fanatic glean delusions.
The eye is blind to see the ‘chief among ten thousand, the altogether lovely One.’
The ear hears nothing but discord in the Gospel melody. The palate has no relish of healthful food.
–67–

The lips, the mouth, the throat, the tongue, are festered with contaminating sores. Alas! how many words go forth to spread contagion and to scatter death.
Thus the disease runs wildly through the whole man!
Sin is the union of all spiritual maladies in one compacted mass. It is no solitary evil. It comes in troops, in flocks, in swarms!
Sin’s end is endless death. Its course is sure. The stream flows on until the ocean’s bed is reached. Thus sin’s strong bias rushes to the pit of hell.
Oh! mark those writhing sufferers in the burning lake! Ask them what brought them to their woe. One wild shriek answers, Sin! Sin uncured, unchecked!
This sketch is dark.
The reality is far darker.
But why are these black colors laid? The malady’s malignity is drawn to show that one Physician alone can avail.
“I am the Lord who heals you.” Exodus 15:26
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YES, FATHER
MacDuff, “Memories of Gennesaret” 1887
Here is the secret of strength in encountering our seasons of trial and difficulty: the conviction that our times are in the hands of God; thus leading to complete and entire subordination of our wills to His.
How it would disarm affliction and bereavement of their bitterest stings if we were enabled to give as the history of our darkest dispensations, “This is my heavenly Father’s will. The hour has come; the hour appointed by His loving wisdom.”
–68–

The Christian, like his Lord, is able to view every occurrence as emanating from….
a Hand of infinite love,
a Mind of infinite wisdom, and a Will of infinite faithfulness.
Every phase in his history; every step in his pilgrimage; its most trifling incidents and circumstances; are Divinely appointed.
Feeling that he is under this kind and gracious guardianship, he resolves his own will into the will of The Supreme! All that concerns him is a part of a vast harmonious plan.
The future (mazy, dark, mysterious,) is fully known to One who sees the end from the beginning; educing good out of seeming evil; and order out of apparent confusion.
Even when a cross looms gloomily on his path, he breathes with unmurmuring lips, “Yes, Father, for so it was well-pleasing in Your sight.” Matthew 11:26
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UNEQUALED, UNPARALLELED, AND UNSURPASSED!
Octavius Winslow, “None Like Christ”
There is no love like the love of Christ. His love…. chose you,
ransomed you,
called you, and
soothes you.
His eyelid never closes.
His affections never change. His warmth never chills.
His hand is never withdrawn.
The love of Christ stands out in the history of love as
–69–

the divinest, the holiest, the strongest of all love;
unequaled, unparalleled, and unsurpassed!
Truly there is no love like the love of Christ.
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AN ARK OF SAFETY IN THE FLOOD OF VANITIES?
Henry Law, “The Burning Bush”
“By faith, Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to share ill treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a time; accounting the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he looked to the reward.” Hebrews 11:24-26
Worldly pomp is very dazzling!
Worldly luxury is very entrancing!
Worldly pleasures are very ensnaring!
But there is an ark of safety in the flood of vanities, as in the flood of waters.
Moses is neither dazzled, nor entranced, nor ensnared. He looks above, and sees a splendor far more bright. He deliberately chooses scorn and affliction and loss and poverty, with the people of God. And he finds….
such scorn to be the truest honor;
such affliction to be the purest joy;
such loss to be the richest gain;
such poverty to be the most enduring wealth.
Reader! it is an important principle, that none can tread the world beneath their feet until they see a fairer world above their heads!
When the Lord is set before you, your eyes are dim to lower objects. The beauty of the all beauteous One, makes other loveliness unlovely!
–70–

Moses proves the mighty energy of soul elevating, soul purifying faith. This stirring principle turns his whole course from ease and affluence and self, into one stream of daring activities for God.
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SODOM WILL BE BETTER OFF!
MacDuff, “The Doomed City” 1887
“But I tell you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom, in the day of judgment, than for you.” Matthew 11:24
Alas! alas! Is it not to be feared that many are content with having “a name to live,” who are spiritually dead? There are thousands who come to our churches, who hear the preacher, who assent to the message, but go back from listening to the tremendous themes of Death, Judgment, and Eternity, to plunge deep as ever into engrossing worldliness and sin.
The preacher may be heard; his words may fall like lulling music on the ear, but the gates of the soul are firmly locked and barred against admission. The preacher may thunder his rebukes, but some heart sin and life sin, will, in spite of them, be retained and caressed.
Are there none now reading these words, whom the Savior would begin to “upbraid,” because they have not repented? When His scrutinizing eye looks down, Sabbath after Sabbath, upon listening audiences throughout our land, all apparently solemn, sincere, outwardly devout, does He not discern, lurking underneath this fair external guise, the signs and symptoms of loathsomeness and decay; like the pure virgin snow covering the charred and blackened ruin?
Ah! sermons will not save us! –71–

Church going will not save us!
Orthodoxy in creed and party will not save us!
Repent! Repent! is the sharp, shrill call of the Gospel trumpet! There must be….
a change of heart; a change of life;
a crucifixion of sin;
and with full purpose of heart, a cleaving unto the Lord
who died for us!
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TWO PENNIES?
MacDuff, “Memories of Gennesaret” 1887
“He looked up, and saw the rich people who were putting their gifts into the treasury. He saw a certain poor widow casting in two lepta. He said, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow put in more than all of them, for all these put in gifts for God from their abundance, but she, out of her lack, put in all that she had to live on.’” Luke 21:1-4
He is unworthy of the name of Christian, whose every thought begins, centers, and terminates in self; a cold, frigid icicle, chilling all who come within his reach; when he gives, giving grudgingly; and what he gives, costing him no sacrifice.
Sacrifice of some sort, either of substance, or time, or personal effort, is necessarily involved in every deed of true beneficence.
It was not the gifts of costly munificence, thrown with supercilious air into the Treasury, which the Savior valued; but the widow’s two pennies, the little earnings which a grateful, giving heart doled out of her poverty, and which made her evening’s meal simpler and scantier than otherwise it would have been.
–72–

Let us learn anew, the lesson of self-sacrifice.
The world, with its millions of starving outcasts; are famishing in spiritual destitution! Have we abridged our own comforts to minister to theirs?
Is it not the duty of each to ask, before God, “What can I spare? Is there no needless expenditure; no lavish waste; no foolish luxuriance; nothing that could be spared in my house or my table, in my social feasts, that, instead of going to feed and pamper that love of extravagance which is running wild in all modern society, could go to help reach the unsaved?
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THE HEATHEN DEITY OF CHANCE?
MacDuff, “A Chapter in Providence and Grace”
God’s providence extends to all the minute and trifling occurrences of life. Have nothing to do with the heathen deity of CHANCE.
He who wheels the planets in their courses, marks the sparrow’s fall.
Events, often apparently trivial and unimportant; what the world calls ‘accidents,’ form really and truly the mighty levers of life, altering and revolutionizing our whole future.
Let us rejoice in the simple but sublime assurance that all that happens is ordered for us. It is for us to know, and to rejoice in the knowledge, that every event is in the hands of the Savior who died for us, and who has given us this mightiest proof and pledge of dying love, that all things—even the most mysterious—are working together for our good. f
–73–

SOLVING THE GREAT PROBLEM OF FRETFUL, CAREWORN, RESTLESS, SUFFERING HUMANITY?
MacDuff, “Memories of Gennesaret” 1887
The world resorts to many expedients for the improvement of man, solving the great problem of fretful, careworn, restless, suffering humanity apart from the gospel.
The philosopher may dream of visionary earthly antidotes.
The politician may see in some cold, frigid, intellectual training a panacea for human wrongs.
The moralist may discourse on human virtue, and the self rectifying power of human goodness.
The socialist may dare to propound his damning theories as the pioneers of the halcyon reign of unbounded liberty.
But we have boldness and confidence that Christ, and Him crucified, and the new life which this Lord of life has to impart, are the true and only secrets of peace on earth and good will to men.
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O MY SOUL, IS THIS ALL-SATISFYING TREASURE YOURS?
Henry Law, “Christ is All” 1864
The true Christian is called….
to many relinquishments;
to much self denial;
to constant trampling on earth’s gilded baits.
But every relinquishment is wealth; and every loss is gain. For he who leaves all for Christ, receives more than all in Christ.
–74–

This is a plain inscription over the portal of the heaven- ward path—“Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way.”
He, then, who would enter, must be stripped of all those flowing robes, in which men flaunt and swell in nature’s broad road.
Self-righteousness must be torn off to its every shred. This is the very flaying of the soul.
Dependence on imagined merit adheres as the very skin. But it all must yield.
Self, in its most cherished form, must be despised and hated, as an abominable thing.
All our darling excellences,
all our fond conceits,
all our superiorities
must be rejected as a filthy rag.
It is hard work to cast all this away, and to go naked to be clothed by Jesus. But, if ever we would be saved, it must be done.
So, also, every hope, which finds a savior in the externals of rites and services, and means of grace, must be ground to powder and given to the winds.
Christ must be embraced, unaided and alone, or not at all.
I need scarcely add, that every sweet sin, which has long been caressed in the recesses of the heart, must be dragged to the light and slain. This is oftentimes as the plucking out the right eye.
But there must be no sparing. Christ is light. Sin is darkness. How can they be one?
Sin loved, indulged, retained, binds fast the soul to the wheels of the chariot in which Christ cannot sit.
–75–

Again, the love of the world, in…. its foolish vanities,
its empty shows,
its godless maxims,
its defiling pleasures,
its lying principles,
its soul-beclouding books, and
all its idol worship of talent, wit, and falsely called glory,
must be nailed to the cross!
Its conformity must be shunned, as poison! Its touch must be shunned, as a viper’s sting! The heart must have no throne, but for Christ.
This walk is a departure from nature’s country, from sin’s kindred, and from the devil’s home. It is a march towards a land, which Christ will give. It requires many efforts, and many struggles, and many conflicts, thus to take up the Christian’s staff, and to put on the Christian’s sandal, and to spurn all things dear to nature and to self.
But what is rejected?
Nothing but husks and shadows!
Nothing but vexation, and disappointment, and misery! Nothing but….
an oppressive load,
a mocking shadow,
a gnawing anxiety,
a weary chase after emptiness,
a groaning under present burden, a dread of future reckoning!
What is gained?
The substance of all good, the perfection of all excellence, in Christ. He welcomes to the secret chambers of His love. He opens His heart. He turns….
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all dross to gold,
all clouds to sunshine,
all sighs to songs, and
earth to the very gate of heaven!
O my soul, is this all-satisfying treasure yours?
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WHAT IS IT THAT IS DRAWING YOU TO HEAVEN?
John MacDuff, “Memories of Patmos”
Reader! if you are looking forward to taking your place as a worshiper in the upper Sanctuary, the same Divine Being who will form the center and focus of your bliss there, should form the center and substance of your happiness here.
Test the reality of your hopes by this. What is it that is drawing you to Heaven? Is it some dreamy indefinite idea of material splendor? Is it a place of exemption from sorrow and suffering, where every wish is satisfied, and the very fountain of tears is dried? This may be, and doubtless will be, all true.
But are its Mansions desirable, because they are the dwelling place of your God? If at this moment it were divested of all its other attractions, would it be enough to know that “God shall be with them and be their God?”
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THE SCRIPTURES POINT TO ME!
Octavius Winslow, “Morning Thoughts”
“These are they which testify of Me!” John 5:39
Search the Scriptures, my reader, with a view of seeing and knowing more of your Redeemer, compared with whom nothing else is worth knowing or making known.
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Love your Bible, because it testifies of Jesus; because it unfolds a great Savior, an almighty Redeemer; because it reveals the glory of a sin-pardoning God, in the person of Jesus Christ.
Aim to unravel Jesus in the types, to grasp Him amid the shadows, to trace Him through the predictions of the prophet, the records of the evangelist, and the letters of the apostles.
All speak of, and all lead to, Jesus!
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THE ALMIGHTY IS A WEAK BABE!
Henry Law, “Christ is All” 1854
“Unto you is born a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
Wonder of wonders! The mighty God, without ceasing to be God, becomes man to redeem us!
Let the greatest king become the lowest beggar; let the richest prince leave his palace for the vilest cell of a loathsome prison; it is as nothing compared to the act of Jesus, when He left heaven to put on the rags of our mortality!
The Creator of all things becomes a creature!
The Almighty is a weak babe!
The Eternal is a child of time!
The Infinite is contracted into the limits of poor flesh! Is not this the wonder of wonders?
Is not this grace which has no bounds?
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THE PEARL
John MacDuff, “The Shepherd and His Flock”
As the pearl would remain forever in the depths of the ocean unless the diver descended for it; so, unless He who purchased us as gems and jewels for His crown had taken us from the depths of sin, there we would have remained forever.
And as He rescues the pearl, so He keeps it, polishes it, and finally inserts it in His eternal diadem!
A BRILLIANT FOLLY!
Henry Law, “Christ is All” 1864
Without a saving knowledge of Jesus, all other knowledge is a brilliant folly!
GOD REMEMBERS!
Bonar, “Human Heedlessness; Divine Remembrance”
“They don’t consider in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness. Now their own deeds have engulfed them. They are before my face.” Hosea 7:2
What is sin? It is not…. an accident,
nor an imprudence, nor a misfortune,
nor a disease, nor a weakness.
It may be all these, perhaps; but it is something beyond all these; something of a more fatal and terrible character.
Sin is guilt.
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Sin is crime.
Man’s tendency is either to deny, or to extenuate sin. He either pleads not guilty, or he smoothes over the evil; giving it specious names.
Or if he does not succeed in these, he casts the blame off himself; he shifts the responsibility to….
his nature,
his birth,
his circumstances, his education;
even to God himself!
But human sin is not thus to be diluted or transformed into a shadow. It is infinitely real; true; deep; terrible in the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.
Let us not trifle with sin, either in the conscience or the intellect. Let us learn its true nature from the terribleness of the wrath and condemnation threatened by God against every sin, great or small.
God remembers our sins!
His memory never fails in anything. Nothing escapes it, great or small. Nothing effaces anything from it. Time does not efface it.
Ages blot out nothing.
The past is as clear and full as the present. Other events do not efface it.
Our own forgetfulness will not efface it.
Our memory and God’s are very different. Our forgetfulness does not make Him forget.
Though man should forget, God remembers; and He can call up sin to remembrance. It will and must come up at last. Men may try to forget it; to drown all thought of it; to efface all traces of it; but it will come up!
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God remembers!
Nothing can make Him forget. He may seem to do so; but it is only seeming.
God remembers…
the person;
the time;
the circumstances; the thing itself; public or secret.
God remembers our sins!
“God does not remember sin!” is the world’s great motto!
NO PILGRIM HAS PERISHED ON THE ROAD!
Henry Law, “Psalms” 1878
“Blessed is the man whose strength is in you; Who have set their hearts on a pilgrimage. Passing through the valley of Weeping, they make it a place of springs. Yes, the autumn rain covers it with blessings. They go from strength to strength. Everyone of them appears before God in Zion.” Psalm 84:5-7
We see the picture of the tribes pursuing their journey to the great festivals at Jerusalem. They faint not, neither are weary. The needful strength is supplied. They are upheld in the journey.
A gloomy valley must be passed, but in it they find refreshment. Water fails not. The wells have been replenished by the seasonable rains. Their limbs each day are girded with fresh strength. At last each pious Israelite safely treads the sanctuary for which his heart had panted.
This is a picture of believers toiling through the journey of life. The way is sometimes long; dark valleys must be
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passed; but sweet streams are ever near. Needful vigor is maintained.
The heavenly Zion is surely reached.
No pilgrim has perished on the road!
They went forth to go into the land of Canaan, and into the land of Canaan they came!
A HUMAN RELIGION?
Horatius Bonar, “The Way Of Cain”
“Woe to them! For they went in the way of Cain….” Jude 11 Cain is not an atheist, nor an altogether irreligious man.
He acknowledges a God, and brings his fruits to the altar.
But he brings no lamb, no blood, nothing that speaks of death.
He comes with no confession, no cry for mercy.
He has a religion, but it is self-made; a human religion, something of his own; without Christ, or blood, or pardon.
Rejection of God’s religion, and of His Messiah; this is
“the way of Cain.”
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IT WAS NOT SECTS, OR CREEDS, OR DOCTRINES, OR CHURCHES, OR ECCLESIASTICAL ORGANIZATIONS!
MacDuff, “A Chapter in Providence and Grace”
It is not dead doctrine, dry formulated dogma which the soul needs, but a living Being.
Paul thus exults, in what may be called a dying testimony, “I know WHOM I have believed.”
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It was not…. sects,
or creeds,
or doctrines,
or churches,
or ecclesiastical organizations,
that the dying hero clung to, in the hour of departure, but….
the glorious Person of the divine Immanuel,
the living Presence of the ever living, ever-loving Savior; the Brother,
the Friend on the throne,
whom he had learned to love more dearly than all the
world beside!
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THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST FOOLISH OF ALL LIES!
Spurgeon, “Life’s Ever Springing Well”
Some of you think, perhaps, because you have been to a place of worship from your youth up, and have been doing your best to lead reputable and respectable lives, that perhaps you shall obtain salvation as a matter of course; but it is not so.
You must learn that saving grace can only come to you as the gift of mercy.
I have heard it said, and I have been horrified when I have heard so gross a falsehood, that there is in man something good, noble, spiritual; and that the object of the Christian minister in delivering the gospel is to take away the ignorance and folly that may overlay this innate nobility, and so to bring out and train up the precious vital spiritual life which lays latent within the human heart.
This is one of the most foolish of all lies!
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There is nothing spiritually good in man whatever by nature. The carnal mind is at enmity against God.
Man is dead in sin.
How long will you search the sepulcher before you
shall discover life within the ribs of death?
Long enough may you ransack yonder mouldering bones in the cemetery, before you shall discover the germs of immortality within the ashes of the departed.
If man were but faint, we might, perhaps, by a sort of ‘spiritual friction’ or electricity, arouse him to life.
If he were lying in a state of coma, we might, by some ‘gracious surgery,’ at length rekindle the embers, and make the life burn forth in its strength.
But when we are informed, over and over again, by the Holy Spirit himself, that man is not only dead, but that he is corrupt, where is the hope of finding spiritual life within him?
The living and incorruptible seed of grace is not produced in men, by efforts of their own, through the imitation of good example, or through early instruction, or through gradual reform.
Though for centuries the dead should be located in the neighborhood of the living, they will not thereby come to life. No matter how long you might read a homily upon life in the ears of the corpse, you shall never cause the skeleton to make any effort towards vitality.
Spiritual life is a gift, wholly a gift. It is given according to the good will and purpose of God. If the Lord gives this spiritual life to some and not to others, He is perfectly free to do as He wills with His own.
God will be debtor to no man.
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He owes nothing to sinful man but wrath! Justice awards me nothing but death. Sovereign grace alone can bring me life.
If God chooses according to His good pleasure to give a new and spiritual life to His chosen, none shall dare to
question Him.
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YOU KEEP TRACK OF ALL MY SORROWS
Henry Law, “Psalms” 1878
“You number my wanderings. You put my tears into Your bottle. Aren’t they in Your book?” Psalm 56:8
“God sees me,” is the sweet solace of the true believer. “He knows the way that I take,” will make that rugged way seem smooth.
If perils and distress so shake the heart that plenteous tears give evidence of suffering, these tears are marked on high, and tender compassion will wipe them all away.
The day has not yet come when there shall be no more tears. But the day is always present when they awaken sympathy in the Redeemer’s breast. He who wept on earth will soon wipe all tears away!
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”
Rev. 21:4
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POPE SELF?
John Newton, author of “Amazing Grace”
“I have read of many wicked popes, but the worst pope I ever met with is Pope SELF.”
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SEVERE, YET WISE AND LOVING
Octavius Winslow, commenting on the sudden death of his beloved son at the age of 21
Severe, yet wise and loving, has been the discipline by which God has sought to chasten and subdue the heart’s idolatry.
That heart, sincere and undivided, He will have.
Were every being and every object in the universe annihilated but JESUS, He were enough to fill the soul with happiness, and eternity with admiration and praise.
JESUS is all sufficient for life’s heaviest calamity, for the heart’s deepest woe.f
HOW FRAIL THE THREAD!
written by Whitmore Winslow at the age of 14
How short is time, and what a small portion is allotted to man to prepare for another world!
And yet how careless is he of that time! How frail the thread upon which life hangs!
A few hours’ illness may carry him away into a world of endless happiness or of endless woe!
WHAT A VAIN WORLD IT IS!
Whitmore Winslow, written at the age of 14
What a fallen creature is man!
Day by day calls forth more hidden depravity of his heart; and yet his whole affections are set upon the very object which is fostering and encouraging that depravity.
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His great ambition is to win the approbation of the world; a world that slew the King of kings; a world full of sin and sorrow, the medium by which Satan endeavors to blind the eyes of the children of men.
And yet, after all, what a vain world it is! It promises much, but realizes nothing.
The more we expect pleasure, the more are we disappointed in it.
Oh, what would man be, if instead of seeking the friendship and the love of a dying world, he would seek that of Jehovah!
And yet how prone are we to lament when we are frowned upon by the world. If we did not seek its smiles, we would not mind its frowns.
But the more we are delighted at the world’s praise, the more are we discomforted and made unhappy by its disapprobation.
But take the world as a whole; what is it? A speck in the universe; a ball floating in the air, surrounded by other worlds greater and more magnificent than itself.
Shall we love the world which hated and scorned, and ultimately slew our beloved Redeemer?
WE CHASE IT LIKE A BUBBLE IN THE AIR!
Whitmore Winslow, written at the age of 14
What could the Christian do in a poor world like this if he had not Christ for his Friend?
Truly is he often seeking other friends, but God will make him know, by sad yet blessed experience, that there is no friend like Jesus; and that while other friends are fickle and changeable, He changes not.
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Oh that we followed not this poor world as we do!
We chase it like a bubble in the air, and with all its apparent beauty, it fades into nothing!
But oh, when we taste the preciousness of Jesus, what a heavenly morsel it is! It raises our drooping spirits to contemplate the joy that awaits us in another world, the happiness that is laid up for us above, the glory that will crown the final end of our weary pilgrimage through a dying and unsatisfying world.
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THAT EVER PROMISING, YET EVER DECEIVING WORLD?
Whitmore Winslow, written at the age of 14
How little have appearances to do with realities! The outward show has often the effect of deceiving.
Deceit is, indeed, one of the prominent features in man; he deceives others, he deceives himself.
The world is truly a false world. And does it not show the depravity of man’s heart when after tasting its bitters, feeling its pains, and experiencing its disappointments and sorrows, he should still cling to that ever promising, yet ever deceiving world?
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PRIDE EATS AT THE ROOT OF ALL HAPPINESS!
Whitmore Winslow, written at the age of 14
Ah! blessed is he to whom God shows his own weakness and insufficiency to do anything of himself. Deem it not a curse, but a blessing, when God humbles your pride, however severe the discipline may be by which He does it. When He teaches you to lean upon Him alone for support, thank Him for it.
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Pride eats at the root of all happiness; and a proud spirit God will abase, but the humble spirit He will exalt.
THE HARD COUCH OF SORROW
Henry Law, “Gleanings from the Book of Life”
“The Lord said, ‘I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows.’” Exodus 3:7
Exquisite tenderness melts in these words. Assurance of compassion is most sweetly stated. Let no believer faint in the hour of trial.
His feet may travel in affliction’s road.
He may be called to lie on the hard couch of sorrow. Troubles may roll over him as wave upon wave.
But….
the eye of love ever watches him,
the heart of love ever throbs sympathetically for him, the ear of love ever listens to his cry,
the hand of love will in due season be outstretched to help him.
The patient sufferer will sing with David, “He brought me forth also into a large place. He delivered me, because He delighted in me.” Psalm 18:19
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IN LOVE
Henry Law, “Gleanings from the Book of Life”
Behold the overflowing riches of the grace and love of Jesus. Every page of the Gospel story teaches the feelings of His heart.
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In love He receives His people as His own. Before the world was framed, He inscribed them on the tablets of His heart.
In love He undertakes their cause, and espouses them as His bride.
In love He works out for them a righteousness so bright, so perfect, so glorious, that Jehovah’s eye can find no flaw, no spot, no blemish in it.
In love He beautifies them with His shining robe, and fits them for the banquet in the heaven of heavens.
In love He guards them from every foe, and makes them more than conquerors over all the hosts of darkness.
In love He makes all things to work together for their good.
In love He leads them to lie down in the rich pastures of Bible truth, and instructs them in the Word which is “able to make them wise unto salvation.”
In love He will come again to receive them to Himself. In love He will present them pure and blameless to His
Father with exceeding joy.
In love He will dwell among them through the ages of
eternity!
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HE FOUND THEIR HEARTS ESTRANGED FROM HIM
Henry Law, “Gleanings from the Book of Life”
Jesus loves His people with everlasting love, and has inscribed their names upon His heart.
He has received them as the jewels of His crown, the signet ring upon His right hand.
He delights over them as a bridegroom over his spouse.
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He knew that another master had obtained usurped dominion over them; He encountered this foe, and rescued them from his cruel grasp. So they became His by conquest.
He found them poor and wretched and naked, and He wrought out a glorious robe of righteousness to adorn them for His palace.
He knew that their debts were many. He laid down His life and shed His blood to satisfy each demand.
He found their hearts estranged from Him, and their affections given to the poor baubles of this fleeting world. He sent His Holy Spirit to create new hearts within them, to win their love, to lead them to choose Him as their all forever. Thus they became His by voluntary surrender.
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SALVATION TURNS THE SOUL COMPLETELY AROUND!
Henry Law, “Gleanings from the Book of Life”
By nature our course of life is wholly downward. Every step is deviation from the ways of God. The back is turned to heaven and heavenly things.
This world, with….
its polluting pleasures,
its empty vanities,
its unsatisfying shadows,
its deceitful pomps and honors,
is sought with blinded zeal.
The daily movement is descent towards hell. But Salvation turns the soul completely around! Objects once shunned are now desired.
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That is now loved which once was hated. Former pleasures retain no relish.
The mask which hid the hideous features of the world has fallen.
The other lords which so long exercised dominion are now renounced as cruel tyrants; their yoke is broken, and their scepter shattered!
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SURROUNDED WITH TROUBLE AT ALMOST EVERY STEP?
Whitmore Winslow, written at the age of 14
Today I have been surrounded with trouble at almost every step. But with all this, I can fly to Jesus as my never failing Friend, and He can give me all I need.
A bountiful Savior and a needy sinner just suit each other! f
JUSTICE SHEATHS ITS AVENGING SWORD IN HIS HEART!
Henry Law, “Gleanings from the Book of Life”
“For Him who knew no sin He made to be sin on our behalf; so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
It is a comforting thought, that the sins thus removed from the guilty and transferred to the guiltless, leave the real transgressor relieved from the weight of evil.
Thus unrighteousness is removed.
Jesus thus laden with iniquities, endures all that sin merits and the law denounces.
He approaches the altar of the Cross.
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He there presents Himself the willing victim.
He there lays down His life, the all-sufficient sacrifice. He there sheds His blood, worthy to make atonement. Wrath pours out on Him all its vials.
Justice sheaths its avenging sword in His heart!
The law pours on His head its total curse.
He endures to the uttermost all that justice required. Where now are the believer’s sins?
That which is blotted out can no more be found.
None who are washed in His most precious blood can be borne off to hell. Satan can offer no charge against those on whom no sin is found.
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LOVERS OF THEMSELVES?
Hannah More
“But know this, that in the last days, grievous times will
come. For men will be lovers of self.” 2 Timothy 3:1-2
Self love is a Proteus of all shapes, shades and complexions. It has the power of expansions and contractions as best serves the occasion.
There is no crevice so small through which its subtle essence cannot stretch itself to fill.
It is of all degrees of cultivation; so coarse and hungry as to gorge itself with the grossest adulation, so fastidious as to require a homage as refined as itself; so deceptive as to elude the detection of ordinary observers; so delusive as to escape the observation of the very heart in which it reigns paramount.
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Yet, though so extravagant in its appetites, self love can adopt a moderation which imposes a refinement which veils its deformity; an artificial character which keeps its real one out of sight.
We are apt to speak of self love as if it were only a symptom, whereas it is the disease itself. It is a malignant disease which has possession of the moral constitution and leaves nothing uncorrupted by its touch.
This corrupting principle pollutes, by coming into contact with it, whatever is in itself great and noble.
WHILE WE SOJOURN IN THIS WORLD
The following was written by Whitmore Winslow at the age of 14. It was gleaned from his journal, which was unknown to his family, until found after his unexpected death at the age of 21.
Oh, to realize the happiness in store for us in the next world! If we more anticipated the blissful future, we would not so much mind the miserable present.
A few short years will bring the Christian to the end of his pilgrimage, and to the beginning of his eternal rest!
But, oh, let us never forget that while we sojourn in this world we have a never failing Friend to whom we can take all our trials and sorrows!
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THE GREAT LAW OF OUR DEGENERATED NATURE.
John MacDuff, “The Mind of Jesus” 1870
“For even Christ pleased not Himself.” Romans 15:3 Too legibly are the characters written on the fallen
heart and a fallen world, “All seek their own!” Selfishness is the great law of our degenerated nature.
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When the love of God was dethroned from the soul, SELF vaulted into the vacant seat, and there, in some one of its Proteus shapes, continues to reign.
Jesus stands out for our imitation a grand solitary exception in the midst of a world of selfishness. His entire life was one abnegation of SELF; a beautiful living embodiment of that love which “seeks not her own.”
Reader! Seek to live more constantly and habitually under the constraining influence of the love of Jesus.
Selfishness withers and dies beneath Calvary!
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IS THAT ALL?
Mary Winslow
I was at the very zenith of earthly happiness.
On returning from the ball, I took a hasty review of the evening I had passed, as I lay sleepless upon my pillow….
the glitter;
the music;
the dance;
the excitement; the attention; the pleasure;
all passed before me.
But, oh! I felt a deficiency I could not describe.
I sighed, and, throwing my arm over my head, whispered to myself these expressive words, “Is that all?”
“Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again.”
John 4:13
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LURED AND DAZZLED, THE WORLDLING PURSUES THE PHANTOM!
John MacDuff, “Grapes of Eshcol” 1861
“In Your presence is fullness of joy. In Your right hand there
are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11 FULLNESS of joy! Can that be said of anything on this
side Heaven?
There is a restless craving in the human bosom for something better than this world can give.
There are aching voids; deep, yawning chasms in the soul of man, which the world and all its tinsel pleasures can never fill.
Hope is ever gilding the future with the prospect of that happiness which the present denies.
The worldling will cleave to the world as the center of its system. It holds its happiness to consist in “minding earthly things.”
Lured and dazzled, the worldling pursues the phantom! But each successive failure more painfully convinces him that all here is a delusion. Happiness, the object of his life search, is as far from him as ever!
Only in Heaven will the soul will have, in the enjoyment of God, the perfection of bliss.
All earthly bliss has its bounds and limits. In Heaven and in God’s presence, that bliss will be unbounded.
DEFECTIVE BEHAVIOR AT HOME?
Hannah More, “Practical Piety”
Our neglect of minor duties and virtues is particularly injurious to the minds of our families. If they see us
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peevish, vacillating, volatile, petulant or inconsistent in our daily conduct, they will not give us credit for those higher qualities which we may possess and those superior duties which we may be more careful to fulfill. Our greater qualities will do them little good, while our lesser but incessant faults do them much injury.
Seeing us so defective in the daily course of our behavior at home, though our children may obey us because they are obliged to it, they will neither love nor esteem us enough to be influenced by our instruction or advice.
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WHAT A WORLD OF WICKEDNESS!
Thomas Reade, “Christian Meditations”
What a world of wickedness may be in the heart, while no glaring irregularity is visible in the life.
MICROSCOPIC LOVE?
John MacDuff, “The Night Dream of the Desert”
Our Omnipotent God keeps watch over the lichen on the rock, and the lily on the mountainside. He tempers His wind to the fragile flower as it trembles on the lip of the Alpine glacier. He follows the timid bird to its cleft; feeds the young raven’s brood; and notes the fall of the sparrow.
“Aren’t two sparrows sold for an assarion? Not one of them falls on the ground apart from your Father’s will, but the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore don’t be afraid, you are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31
We see here, the personal love of God for every individual member of His vast family.
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The heavenly Shepherd has a special, particular care for each sheep of the fold. As it utters its apparently unheard bleat on the lonely moorland, or amid the thorny thicket of its wanderings, He tracks its truant footsteps, as if it engrossed all His interest, restoring it to the green pastures by the side of the fold.
Yes, there is surely nothing more cheering, more sublime, than the thought of this unwearying tending of the Great Shepherd; this individual, if we may so call it, this microscopic love, of our Great Father.
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THE WORLD IS….
by Horatius Bonar
The world is….
blind, and knows it not;
poor, and thinks itself rich; foolish, and thinks itself wise.
It is not aware of the extent of its ruin, alienation, and depravity.
It is not alive to its danger, its hopeless prospects; nor its
doom.
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THE VERY CREAM OF HEAVEN!
Charles Spurgeon, “Now, and Then”
There have been many suggestions of what we shall do in heaven, and what we shall enjoy; but they all seem to me to be wide of the mark compared with this one— that we shall be with Jesus, be like Him, and shall behold His glory.
Oh, to see the feet that were nailed, and to touch the hand that was pierced,
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and to look upon the head that wore the thorns, and to bow before Him who is….
ineffable love,
unspeakable condescension, infinite tenderness!
Oh, to bow before Him, and to kiss that blessed face! Brethren, is not this the very cream of heaven?
The streets of gold will have small attraction to us, and the harps of angels will but slightly enchant us, compared with the King in the midst of the throne!
He it is who shall…
rivet our gaze,
absorb our thoughts,
enchain our affections, and
move all our sacred passions to their highest pitch of celestial ardor!
We shall see Jesus!
“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it is not yet revealed what we will be. But we know that, when He is revealed, we will be like Him; for we will see Him just as He is.” 1 John 3:2
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IF THE WORLD SATISFIES YOU?
The following was written by Whitmore Winslow at the age of 14. It was gleaned from his journal, which was unknown to his family, until found among his papers after his death, at the age of 21
No being knows the trials I have undergone the past week, but Jesus. And as He only knows, so He only can help me through.
I have felt such a willingness to die! a feeling that death would be no dreadful thing to me, having a wish to
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leave this more dreadful world. But painful, yet no less blessed trial has done it all.
And oh, may I be able from my heart to thank God for having made the world my enemy, and Christ my Friend!
But mark this: if the world does not suit you, you will be sure to have a welcome in heaven. But if the world satisfies you, hell will be the most adapted to receive you.
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THE GODS OF THE UNREGENERATE SOUL
MacDuff, “The Mind of Jesus” 1870
The gods of the unregenerate soul are the world, self,
and sin.
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THE OBSTINATE MAN
Alexander Whyte, “Pictures from Pilgrim’s Progress”
“Do not be like the mule….” Psalm 32:9
Most unfortunately, it is in the very best things of life that the true ‘mulishness’ of the obstinate man most comes out. He shows worst in his home life.
The obstinate man may be affable, entertaining, the best of company, when abroad with others. But when he turns the latch key in his own door, he will instantly relapse into silence, and sink back into utter boorishness, bearishness, mulishness and doggedness. His sunshine, his smile, and his refinement is all gone now; he is discourteous to nobody but to his own wife.
The obstinate man makes his house a very prison to himself and to all those who are condemned to suffer
with him!
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LITTLE OBSTINATE
Alexander Whyte, “Pictures from Pilgrim’s Progress” “Do not be like the mule….” Psalm 32:9
Little Obstinate was born and brought up in the City of Destruction. His father was old ‘Spare the Rod,’ and his mother’s name was ‘Spoil the Child.’ Little Obstinate was the only child of his parents. He was born when they were no longer young, and they doted on their only child, and gave him his own way in everything. Everything he asked for he got, and if he did not immediately get it you would have heard his screams and his kicks three doors off! His parents were not in themselves bad people, but, if Solomon speaks true, they hated their child, for they gave him all his own way in everything, and nothing would ever make them say ‘no’ to him, or lift up the ROD when he said ‘no’ to them.
Little Obstinate’s two parents were far from ungodly people, though they lived in such a city; but they were daily destroying their only son by letting him always have his own way, and by never saying no to his greed, and his lies, and his anger, and his noisy and disorderly ways. Eli in the Old Testament was not a bad man, but he destroyed both the ark of the Lord and himself and his sons also, because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.
The meekness, the sweetness, the docility, and the love of a chastised child has gone to all our hearts in a way we can never forget. There is something sometimes almost past description in the way a chastised child clings to and kisses the hand that chastised it. But poor old ‘Spare the Rod’ never had experiences like that.
And little Obstinate, having been born like Job’s wild donkey’s colt, grew up to be a man like David’s unbridled
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mule, until in after life he became the author of all the evil and mischief that is associated in our minds with his evil name.
In old ‘Spare the Rod’s’ child also this true proverb was fulfilled, that ‘the child is the father of the man.’ For all that little Obstinate had been in the nursery, in the schoolroom, and in the playground; all that, only in an aggravated way; he was as a youth and as a grown up man.
As to the cure of obstinacy; the ROD in a firm, watchful, wise, and loving hand will cure it.
And much agonizing prayer will above all cure it. “One who spares the rod hates his son, but one who
loves him is careful to discipline him.” Proverbs 13:24 “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child: the rod of
discipline drives it far from him.” Proverbs 22:15
“Don’t withhold correction from a child. If you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod, and save his soul from Sheol.” Proverbs 23:13-14
“The rod of correction gives wisdom, But a child left to himself causes shame to his mother.” Proverbs 29:15
YOU OWE THE WHOLE TO SOVEREIGN GRACE!
Henry Law, “Deuteronomy” 1858
Believer! Only the grace of God makes you to differ from the world around you!
You once were dead in trespasses and sins.
You moved as a living carcass with a lifeless soul. Your every step was hellward.
Your every moment hurried you towards endless woe. Your life was ignorance, rebellion, slavery, disgrace.
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But now the darkness is dispersed, and true light shines. You see the cross! You stand in a new world of spiritual delight. You are a new creation of thought, affection, hope, desire.
You live for God; to God; with God; in God.
But whence the change?
Did it result your own resolve?
Did rolling years beget this wisdom?
Oh, no!
You owe the whole to sovereign grace!
God, of His own free will, looked down with favor on your ruined soul. His grace gave you, as a jewel, to His Son; and gave His Son to be your uttermost salvation!
You owe the whole to sovereign grace!
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THE SILLY MOTH IS CAUGHT!
Henry Law, “Deuteronomy” 1858
Why is this world such a wide sea of evil?
Why do earth’s multitudes roll so easily to hell? The tastes of the mass of the human race are groveling and vile. They only care to sip the vulgar cup of time and sense. Their sin soiled garments and polluted feet prove that they wallow in defiling mire.
See the worldling.
A temptation meets him.
A gilded bait allures.
A sweet indulgence opens its inviting arms.
What follows? The silly moth is caught!
Pleasure whispers, “Come and partake.” Desire acquiesces.
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Nature surrenders.
Thus Satan leads his crowds down misery’s downward slope. Quickly; easily; they glide along. The rolling pebble has no power to stop. The downhill torrent is incapable of turning.
To them, liberty is unknown. The clash of heavy chains attests their bondage. Satan drags them; and they must obey. The world gives laws; they tremblingly submit. They crouch the slaves of many an insulting tyrant.
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IS A MAN’S GENERAL CHARACTER GODLY?
J. C. Ryle, “The Gospel of John”
We are often too ready to be deceived by an ‘appearance of GOOD.’ We are in danger of rating some men as very good Christians, because of a little outward profession of religion, and a decent Sunday formality; because, in short, they talk the language of Canaan, and wear the garb of pilgrims.
We forget that all is not good that ‘appears good,’ even as all is not gold that glitters, and that daily practice, choice, tastes, habits, conduct, private character, are the true evidence of what a man is.
We are too ready, on the other hand, to be deceived by the ‘appearance of EVIL.’ We are in danger of setting down some men as not true Christians, because of a few faults or inconsistencies.
We must remember that the best of men are but men at their very best, and that the most eminent saints may be overtaken by temptation, and yet be saints at heart after all. We must not hastily suppose that all is evil, where there is an occasional appearance of evil.
The holiest man may fall sadly for a time, and yet the
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grace within him may finally get a victory.
Is a man’s general character godly?
Then let us suspend our judgment when he falls, and
hope on.
The great attracting magnet of the gospel is the doctrine of the cross.
God is glorified because Christ was punished for the sin of His people.
On the cross we see sin fully punished and yet fully pardoned.
We see justice with her gleaming sword triumphant; and mercy with her silver scepter prevailing in sublimest splendor.
Glory be to the wondrous wisdom which discovered the way of blending vengeance with love, making a tender heart to be the mirror of unflinching severity, causing the crystal vase of Jesus’ loving nature to be filled with the red wine of righteous wrath.
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NO SERPENT CRAWLS ALONG THAT PAVEMENT!
Henry Law, “The Gospel in Numbers” 1858
Heaven! It is….
our looked-for rest;
the goal to which we press;
the haven of our storm tossed voyage; the end of weary pilgrimage;
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FILLED WITH THE RED WINE OF RIGHTEOUS WRATH!
Spurgeon, “Nearness to God”
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the soul’s eternal home; the land of every delight!
Heaven! Here….
thought flags;
mind fails;
all words seem emptiness; all images fall short.
No angel’s tongue can adequately paint the brightness of those realms. Mortal powers shrink into very nothingness.
None can describe heaven, but those who enter it. And those who enter it, find their delight….
an ever swelling flood;
an ever brightening day;
an ever opening flower;
a volume, which eternity cannot read through!
Heaven!
It is the palace of the great Eternal. Salvation is its walls; its gates are praise. Its pavement is purity’s most golden luster. Its atmosphere is perfect love.
Heaven! It is the home prepared by God before the worlds were made, for His redeemed children. It is the mansion, which the ascended Jesus still labors to make fit.
Heaven! It is so attractive, that all Jehovah’s skill cannot increase the beauty. It is so full, that nothing can be added. It is so rich, that it can hold no more.
Perfection is the essence of our heaven. Nothing can enter there….
to stain, to soil,
to vex,
to humble.
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Oh! what a contrast to our present state!
Our hearts are daily pierced.
We loathe and we abhor ourselves.
We would be holy; but, alas! a treacherous adversary rolls us in the mire. The foul tempter all day long is spreading nets. There is no saint too saintly for his vile approach. But in heaven this misery has ceased. No serpent crawls along that pavement! Satan is outside; far off; the bottomless pit has shut its mouth upon him.
Our high home is barricaded against all sin. Never, never, never, can iniquity again intrude.
The soul forever joys; righteous, as God is righteous; pure, as God is pure.
Reader, seek heaven.
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GOD’S DEALINGS WITH A SIN SLAIN RACE!
Henry Law, “Numbers” 1858
“Buds will sprout on the rod belonging to the man I choose…. When he went into the Tabernacle of the Covenant the next day, Moses found that Aaron’s rod, representing the tribe of Levi, had budded, blossomed, and produced almonds!” see Numbers 17:1-8
The twelve rods at first seem all alike. They are all sapless twigs. The same grove saw their birth. Man’s eye sees but one likeness in their dry forms. But suddenly one puts forth loveliness; while the others still remain worthless and withered. Here is a picture of God’s dealings with a sin slain race!
Since Adam’s fall, all are born lifeless branches of a withered stock. Many abide so, and thus pass as fuel to the quenchless fire.
But in a chosen remnant, a new birth occurs.
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The grave sprouts into life. The sapless put forth buds. Blossoms appear.
Fruit ripens.
Whence is the difference? It is not nature’s work. No dry stick can restore itself. No ‘withered helplessness’ can deck itself with verdure. This cannot be.
When any man arises from the death of sin, and blooms in grace, God has arisen with divine almightiness.
Free, sovereign love decrees rebirth. Boundless power achieves it.
What is its voice of the Budded Rod to unregenerate worldlings? Alas! these are a forest of sticks, wholly dry. The curse, which fell on Eden’s garden, blasted their nature to the core. Thus withered they were born. Thus withered they continue.
What will their end be?
That end draws near. What then awaits them? Can they be beams and rafters in the palace of heaven’s King! Oh, no!
The decree is sure. Faithfulness has warned. Almighty power will execute. “That, which bears thorns and briers, is rejected, and is near unto cursing, whose end is to be burned.” Heb. 6:8.
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WHAT!
Henry Law, “Numbers” 1858
Earth is affliction’s home.
A troop of sorrows compass us about. Tears stream.
The bosom sighs.
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The brow is furrowed by the lines of care and worry. Death tears away the much loved friend.
Sickness invades the frame.
The home is desolate.
The table is destitute.
We look to the right hand, and there is trouble; on the left, and still fresh troubles frown.
But heaven is a wide sea of bliss without a ripple.
All tears are wiped away.
All faces beam with one enraptured smile.
All lips confess, ‘The cup of happiness overflows.’ We bathe in oceans of delight.
In heaven….
sin is shut out;
temptations banished;
fears buried in an unfathomable grave;
sorrow and unbelief have fled away;
knowledge is perfect;
our souls are purity;
our bodies are imperishable beauty;
we completely share the glory of our all glorious Lord.
Jesus is the crown of heaven! This is the pinnacle of bliss! The revelation of the Lord, without one intervening cloud, is the grand glory of the endless kingdom. Heaven is full heaven, because Christ shines there exactly as He is; seen and admired by every eye.
In heaven Jesus ever stands conspicuous in one undiminishable blaze!
Believer, what will it be to gaze on the manifested beauty of Him, who is so altogether lovely!
What! to read clearly all the deep mysteries of His redeeming will!
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What! to dive down to the vast depths of His unfathomable heart!
What! to fly upward to the very summit of His boundless love!
What! to trace clearly all His dealings in providence and grace!
What! to comprehend all that Jesus is!
What! never to lose sight of Him; no, not for a moment!
What! to be ever drinking fresh raptures from His present smile!
What! to feel, that this joy is mine forever!
This! this is heaven!
THE EXPULSIVE POWER OF A NEW AFFECTION
John MacDuff, “Paul’s Song of Songs”
“But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if it is so that the Spirit of God dwells in you.” Romans 8:9
God has made gracious provision to secure, on the part of His ransomed people, a holy walk and obedience; and that, not through their own strength, but through the strength and power of His indwelling Spirit.
By that Spirit we are not only renewed, but ‘led;’ sweetly constrained to walk in harmony with the divine will, and the impulses of our regenerated natures. We have here what is called the expulsive power of a new affection.
It is a plant which our Heavenly Father plants.
Not indigenous to the natural soil of the human heart; it is of supernatural growth.
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The power of sin becomes slowly weaker and weaker. The power of grace, slowly, it may be imperceptibly, becomes stronger and stronger.
Reader, have you in any feeble measure, been able to
realize the presence and power of this indwelling Spirit;
conscious of the surrender of heart and life to Christ; implying the gradual conquest of sin; the expulsion of whatever is base and impure, corrupt and selfish, grasping and covetous, unloving and unholy; our wills blending in greater harmony with the divine?
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THE OMNIPOTENT GRACE OF GOD
MacDuff, “A Chapter in Providence and Grace”
The omnipotent grace of God can change and transform the worst and most hopeless; quicken those who are dead; and animate the groveling spirit with….
new motives, new principles, new tastes,
new feelings, new aspirations!
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ONE INCESSANT FIGHT!
Henry Law, “Numbers” 1858
The life of faith is one incessant fight. Beneath the cross, a sword is drawn, of which the scabbard is cast far away. Until the victor’s crown is won, unflinching combat must go on. The foes are….
many, mighty, wily, restless.
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They meet us, at each step.
They lurk in every corner.
They infest our public walk. They enter our closed doors. They are outside; around; within.
Count, if you can, the hateful legions who compose hell’s hosts. They all rush at the soul.
Survey the WORLD…. its snares,
its foul seductions, its enticing arts,
its siren calls,
its smiles,
its venomed sneers, its terrifying threats.
Each in its turn assails; and each, when foiled, renews the assault.
Behold the HEART, and all its brood of lusts and raging passions.
How often it betrays! How often it deceives!
Believer, go forth in hope! You have a Captain, by whose side no battle can be lost; beneath whose banner, no warrior was ever slain.
Face all your foes.
Grasp manfully your sword.
Use skillfully your shield.
Lift up the head, safe in salvation’s helmet. Shout boldly your great Leader’s name.
The fight will soon be over. The victor’s song will soon be on your lips!
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WHAT IS HEAVEN?
Henry Law, “Holy Blood”
Heaven is one ocean of repose. No billow heaves.
No storm affrights.
No foe can enter.
No change can cloud the calm expanse of the unruffled sky.
But what is heaven, but….
to see Christ as He is;
to gaze forever on His unveiled beauty;
to sit with Him;
to realize, that never for one moment can there be
absence from Salvation’s home?
Heaven is heaven, because it is an eternal rest by the
side of Jesus.
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THE VILEST REPTILE AND THE PROUDEST PRINCE?
Henry Law, “Numbers” 1858
“By the sweat of your face will you eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:19
What is our body?
It is nothing but clay!
These bodies have one origin; the dust.
The vilest reptile and the proudest prince are composites of one poor mire. Is it not folly, then, to pamper and admire this flesh?
How soon our bodies crumble back to dust!
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No care; no thought; no art can lengthen out their continuance.
The countless families of foregone ages; where are they now? Dust they were. To dust they are gone back!
The many families of this our day; where are they speeding to? Dust they are. To dust they hasten! How fleeting is life’s day!
The bodies must fall. But when? Perhaps this very hour! Is he not then the fool of fools, who boasts himself of
tomorrow’s dawn!
Happy the inhabitants of these crumbling bodies, if only they are Christ’s!
They now are vilest dust! They soon will shine more brightly than ten thousand suns!
Their vile bodies shall be changed!
Weakness and frailty shall put on unfading freshness! The lowly bud shall bloom into a glorious flower!
THE SLIMY TRAIL AND THE DEADLY VENOM OF THE SERPENT!
Winslow, “Counsel and Consolation for the Tempted” “That no advantage may be gained over us by Satan; for we
are not ignorant of his schemes.” 2 Corinthians 2:11
There is nothing in our individual history which Satan may not make the occasion and instrument of a temptation. Our social position in the world may be one of peculiar snare; our calling in life especially so; our sore trials, crushing afflictions, and pressing needs all may furnish ample material for the purpose and schemes of the Enemy.
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Yes, there is nothing that may not be an instrument of great temptation—
our poverty or wealth;
our exalted position or our low estate; the publicity, or the privacy of our life; our loves and hatreds;
our friends and foes;
may all become powerful engines of evil in the hands of
our great, terrible, powerful, and unslumbering Enemy.
The books we read;
the literature we cultivate;
the science we pursue;
the recreations we indulge;
yes, the very religion we profess,
and the Christian service we promote;
may, with all their apparent innocence and sanctity, but conceal from our eye the slimy trail and the deadly venom of the serpent!
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HE GAVE SO MUCH THAT HE COULD GIVE NO MORE!
Henry Law, “Gleanings from the Book of Life”
With what a price has Christ redeemed His people!
He paid not silver and gold for their ransom.
He gave not all the precious things of earth as their equivalent. He heaped not worlds upon worlds and placed them as payment in the balance of God’s justice. All such expenditure would have been as unavailing as the chaff.
He gave Himself, His life, His blood.
He gave so much that He could give no more!
And He gave this to bear the extremest curse of God, to
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endure all the punishment, and all the miseries, and all the anguish which His people must have suffered if they had wailed through all the endless ages amid the torments of the lost!
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A VAST HOSPITAL OF ANGUISH
John MacDuff, “The Dirge of Creation”
“For indeed we who are in this tent do groan.” 2 Corinthians 5:4
The wailing lamentation has been voiced for six millenniums—“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.” Job 1:21
Everywhere we see….
the suffering of sick beds,
the agony of bereavement,
the sudden close of lives of promise,
human ties formed only to be sundered, births superseded by deaths,
marriage chimes followed by the funeral bell.
Yes, say as we will; this world, while a home of beauty, the vestibule of heaven; may be described, with equal truth, as a vast hospital of anguish; a cemetery and receptacle for the dead!
“Who will change the body of our humiliation to be conformed to the body of His glory.” Phil. 3:21
OUR JOURNEY IS DRAWING TO AN END
Mary Winslow, “Life in Jesus”
Bless God with me, that we are both so near our home, each day’s travel bringing us nearer and nearer. Our eyes shall behold Him whom our souls love beyond all
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created good. What a prospect is before us! Forever with the Lord!
Our journey is drawing to an end.
Look forward, look upward. Jesus’ eye is upon you; His heart is towards you.
A few more severe trials, a few more staggering steps,
and we are there!
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THE THORNS
Octavius Winslow,
“Christ and the Christian in Temptation” 1877
“He said to him, ‘I will give you all of these things, if you will fall down and worship me.’” Matthew 4:9
Alas! the world constitutes one of the most seductive temptations of the Christian.
The world is Satan’s great weapon.
Satan is constantly presenting it in endless forms of attraction, wearing as many disguises, and backed by every species of argument.
It is his chicanery to present only the bright side of the world, carefully concealing the darker and more repulsive one. He presents the flower; and conceals the thorns….
its emptiness and heartlessness, its selfishness and malice,
its deceitfulness and malignity, its ingratitude and baseness,
its hollow friendships and its false loves.
Oh! these are the thorns the cunning Tempter conceals when he presents the world and the glory thereof, in exchange for the homage and the worship he asks.
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There is not a stratagem Satan does not employ by which to bring the world to bear upon the Christian….
the eye delighting in beauty; the ear ravished with sounds; the taste delicate and dainty.
“The lust of the flesh and the lust of the eye and the pride of life” are so many media through which the attractive power and ascendancy of the world attain an easy conquest in the mind of the Christian.
Seduced by its power,
convinced by its arguments,
ensnared by its glitter,
the world may enchain you a slave at its feet.
The deceiver attempts to draw….
the heart from Christ;
the mind from devout meditation; and
the whole soul from things that are divine,
heavenly and eternal!f
COME WHAT MAY
Written by Whitmore Winslow at the age of 14. It was gleaned from his journal, which was unknown to his family, until found among his papers after his unexpected death at the age of 21.
I had some sweet sights of Jesus by faith, some feeble glimmerings of the happiness and glory which we shall realize above. It is only these glorious feelings that will solace the Christian in his toilsome journey through this weary world.
Come what may, pleasure or pain, happiness or woe, life or death, I am in the hands of the Lord of Creation, the King of kings, and in His keeping, no evil will befall me.
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THE GOSPEL
Octavius Winslow, “Morning Thoughts”
The gospel is the ‘master work’ of Jehovah, presenting the greatest display of His manifold wisdom, and the most costly exhibition of the riches of His grace. In constructing it He would seem to have summoned to His aid all the resources of His own infinity….
His fathomless wisdom, His boundless love, His illimitable grace, His infinite power,
His spotless holiness,
all contributed their glory, and conspired to present it to the universe as the most consummate piece of Divine workmanship!
The revelations it makes,
the facts it records,
the doctrines it propounds,
the effects it produces,
proclaim it to be the “glorious gospel of the blessed God.”
We live encircled by SHADOWS…. our friends are shadows,
our comforts are shadows,
our supports are shadows,
our pursuits are shadows, and
we ourselves are shadows passing away.
But in the precious gospel we have SUBSTANCE, we have reality, we have that which remains with us when all other things disappear, leaving the soul desolate, the heart bleeding, and the spirit bowed in sorrow to the dust.
But the gospel….
guides our perplexities, mitigates our griefs,
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sanctifies our sorrows, heals our wounds, dries our tears,
because it leads us to…. the love,
the tenderness,
the sympathy,
the grace of JESUS.
The gospel….
reveals Jesus,
speaks mainly of Jesus, leads simply to Jesus,
and this makes it “glad tidings of great joy,” to a poor, lost, ruined, tried, and tempted sinner!
BRING ME YOUR MISERY
Henry Law, “Leviticus”
Christ is a sure and present help.
Trials thicken; temptations threaten; and affliction’s tide runs strong. Death, also, draws near, and shows a chilling form.
But still take comfort. He, who is with you, has…. an arm of power;
a heart of tenderness;
and a voice of love.
In deepest billows, He will hold you up. And the last wave will waft you safely to Canaan’s shore. Thick blows may batter, but will not beat down. The last blow breaks the gates of flesh, and sets your happy spirit free.
Reader, there is no need in life; in death; in present or in future days; for which Christ is not an all sufficient support.
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Behold Him! He is….
life for the dead,
sight for the blind,
feet for the lame,
strength for the weak,
joy for the sad,
cleansing for the filthy, freedom for the bound, clothing for the naked, purity for the unclean, redemption for the captive; a God within to cheer,
a God above to bless,
a God who came in flesh to die,
a God who reigns in power to help, a God who comes in glory to receive.
Bring me your misery, and I will show you its relief in Christ.
He loves, as God. He aids, as God. He saves, as God.
All fullness is in Christ for His beloved flock.
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THERE ARE MANY TYRANTS!
Henry Law, “Leviticus”
“If therefore the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36
Each soul, apart from Jesus, is a poor slave.
There are many tyrants, and their yoke is hard.
SATAN enchains the heart, and drags His vassals to vile service. They have no will; no power, to resist. By nature all lie prostrate at Satan’s feet.
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But Jesus wrestles with this cruel tyrant, hurls him from his throne, breaks his scepter, and gives him a death wound.
This vile WORLD, also, a foul tyrant. Its smiles allure.
Its frowns deter.
Its fashions force compliance.
Its laws exact submission.
It drives its millions to a slavish toil.
But when Jesus unmasks this monster’s hideous filth; when He reveals the beauties of the Gospel; then the chain snaps, the tyrant is loathed, and its debasing ways are shunned. The Gospel sets free from the world’s snares.
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THE WRETCHED IDOL, SELF!
Octavius Winslow,
“Christ and the Christian in Temptation” 1877
Of all the sins common to our fallen nature, God has the most signally marked that of idolatry, or false worship.
Man is by nature an idolater. His sinful mind, being alienated from God, seeks some object of worship other than the true and living God.
The ‘renewed’ man is not entirely exempt from this sin. Hence the exhortation of the Apostle addressed to the early Christians, and in these last days addressed to us: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” “My dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.”
Surely, it was not the gross and senseless idolatry of the heathens to which the Apostles thus refer; from this many of those saints to whom they wrote had already been delivered; but to other idols and other worship, less
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palpable and degrading, but not less superstitious or offensive to God.
The worship of SELF is a natural and fearful form of idolatry. It is an innate and never entirely eradicated principle of our nature, but clings to us to the very last of life. Alas! the holiest and the best of us want to be something, and to do something, when in reality we are nothing, and can do nothing.
We walk in our religious life, for the most part, upon stilts; always appearing in the eyes of others taller than we really are!
But real greatness and true humility have ever been in alliance with entire abnegation of SELF.
Who can stand before the cross and gaze upon the Creator of all worlds impaled between two criminals, Himself dying as the chief, and not shrink into his own nothingness, bewailing that he should ever have been betrayed into the folly and the sin of burning the incense of idolatry before the wretched idol, SELF!
Beware of SELF idolatry!
It is the most insidious, hateful, and degrading form of idolism to which the soul can be subjected.
FIT FOR THE BRIDE!
Henry Law, “Psalms” 1878
“For the Lord takes pleasure in His people. He crowns the
humble with salvation.” Psalm 149:4
It is the wonder of wonders that the great and glorious
God should stoop to regard such creatures as we are. But wonder is immeasurably magnified when we are
taught that thoughts of us are pleasure to Him. –123–
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Not only does He take pleasure in His people, He beautifies the meek with salvation!
Meekness is their lovely characteristic.
This grace proves them to be followers of Him who avows Himself as meek and lowly in heart.
Beautiful robes of salvation are prepared for them. These garments are heavenly in structure, fit for the Bride, the Lamb’s wife, suited to adorn the palace of our God.
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CAN HE EMBRACE THE MONSTER?
Henry Law, “Leviticus”
He most flees sin, whose eye is riveted upon the Cross. Can he love that which gave those wounds to Christ?
Can he embrace the monster, which pierced Jesus’ heart?
It cannot be!
The sight of Calvary slays the love of sin.
The Cross unmasks the hideous form, and kindles
righteous hate.
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TWO PATHS
Henry Law, “Psalms”
“For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of
the wicked shall perish.” Psalm 1:6
Amid all their trials, sorrows, pains and reproaches; let
the godly lift up rejoicing heads. The eye of God rests on their way. He called them to the narrow path.
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He upholds their feeble steps.
He safely leads them to the glorious end.
Unfailing watchfulness surrounds them.
But the broad path, with its unrighteous throng, goes down assuredly to hell. f
SUCH IS THE CAREER OF THOUSANDS!
Bonar, “The Way Of Cain” 1846
Man is weary, toiling for that which is not bread; trying to wring water out of the world’s dry sands and broken cisterns.
Such is the career of thousands….
a fruitless worldliness;
a life of vanity;
a soul utterly empty;
a being wholly wasted.f
THE SIN OFFERING!
Henry Law, “The Sin Offering”
“He must bring to the Lord a young bull without defect as
a sin offering for the sin he has committed.” Leviticus 4:3 Sin! The sound is brief, but it presents a dark abyss of
thought.
No mind can trace its birth.
No eye can see its death.
Before the worlds it scaled the heavens, and dragged angels down.
In life’s first dawn it entered Eden and slew innocence.
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It ends not with the end of time. It ever rolls an ever deepening course.
Reader, think much of sin! It is earth’s death blow.
It marred the beauty of a beauteous world. It stripped it
of its lovely robe.
It caused the soil to harden; and the leaves to wither and decay. It turned fertility to weeds, and armed the brier with its bristling thorns.
It made the clouds to blacken, and the storm to rage. It raised the tempest’s roar, and plumed the lightning with its forked wings.
It placed its foot upon a perfect work, and left it a disordered wreck.
Reader, think much of sin!
It is man’s ruin. It drove the soul from peaceful fellowship with God. It changed the loving child into a hardened rebel.
It robbed the mind of light.
It rendered reason a bewildered maze.
Sin made the heart….
a nest of unclean birds;
a spring of impure streams;
a whirlpool of tumultuous passions; a hot bed of ungodly lusts;
a den of God defying schemes!
Sin is….
the malady; the misery; the shame
of our whole race!
It is the spring of every tear.
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Each sigh, which rends the breast; each frown, which ploughs the brow; each pain, which racks the limbs, are cradled in sin’s arms!
It is the mother of that mighty monster, death. It digs each grave in every graveyard.
Each widow and each orphan tastes its gall.
It fills each hospital with sick.
It strews the battlefield with slain.
It is the core in every grief.
It is the worm which gnaws the root of peace.
Reader, think much of sin!
Its terrible destructions die not in the grave. There is a region, where its full blown torments reign.
It built the prison house of hell. It kindled quenchless flames.
It forged the chains, which bind lost sinners to their burning beds.
It sharpened the undying sting of an upbraiding conscience.
It arms the jailer, Satan, with his scourge.
It bars the hopeless in that outer darkness, where weeping ever weeps; and wailing ever wails; and teeth forever gnash; and all is woe, which knows no respite and no end.
Reader, here is a picture, in which all horrors meet! Regard it with an earnest eye. No fiction colors it. No power can over paint the terrible reality. No artist’s skill can represent a flame.
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The dreadful truth exceeds report. The lost writhe out eternity in fully learning the deserts of sin!
Reader, think much of sin!
Though sin is death, the sinner need not die.
There is a fortress of escape.
There is a remedy to heal these wounds.
What though your sins be as countless as the sands? They all may disappear!
What though the dye of each be double crimson? Each may be washed away!
The filth may all be cleansed!
The debts may be wiped out!
The soul may meet Jehovah’s eye without one stain!
There is a way, by which the vilest may stand pure!
God’s love decreed a plan. He willed a ransom, and His Son achieved it. Let us draw nearer to the amazing sight!
Each sin must bear its merited load of woe.
Each curse must be endured. Each violation of the holy
law must drink the dregs of condemnation.
Jesus comes forth to help!
The guiltless One, takes the guilty place.
He stands as their ready and complete sin offering. He pays in anguish and in blood their every due. Wrath is endured.
Penalties are paid.
Sufferings are suffered.
Agonies are agonized.
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The work requires infinity of woe. Infinity of woe is borne by Him.
Wrathful fury seized the soul of Jesus.
All torments dealt most fiercely with Him.
He suffered, until eternal vengeance asked no more. Thus sin is fully punished.
Thus the redeemed are fully saved.
“For Him who knew no sin He made to be sin on our behalf; so that in Him we might become the righteous- ness of God.” 2 Cor. 5:21
Believer, your sins slew Christ!
They cannot now slay you.
His death is yours. Therefore you live.
God’s smile is on you, not because you have no sins, but because each has died in Christ.
Reader, if you are one with Christ, hell pains are past for you. If you are not, they still remain. Alas! how shall
you bear them!
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HOLD ME UP!
Alexander MacLaren, “Open Sins”
“Hold me up, and I shall be safe!” Psalm 119:117
The first lesson we have to learn is that without Divine help we cannot stand; and that with it we cannot fall. We must cultivate a spirit of lowly dependence, of self- conscious weakness.
We need a mightier strength than our own, which shall curb all this evil nature of ours, and restrain us from sin.
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When God’s Spirit comes into a man’s heart, He will deaden his desires after earth and forbidden ways. He will bring blessed higher objects for all our affections. He who has been fed on “the hidden manna” will not be likely to hanker after the leeks and onions that grew in the Nile mud in Egypt, however strong their smell and pungent their taste.
He who has tasted the higher sweetnesses of God will have his heart’s desires after lower delights, strangely deadened and cooled.
My heart, touched by the Spirit of God dwelling in me, will turn to Him, and I shall find little sweetness in the otherwise tempting delicacies that earth can supply.
God desires to cleanse us from the filth of the swine trough and the rags of our exile, and clothe us in fine linen, clean and white. If you will put yourselves into His hands, He will give you new powers to detect the serpents in the flowers, and new resolution to shake off the vipers into the fire. f
NO SPOT!
Henry Law, “The Song of Solomon” 1879
“You are all beautiful, My love. There is no spot in you.” Song of Solomon 4:7
There is no spot in the Church, because the blood of Jesus entirely obliterates each stain.
Omniscience may look for sins, but no more can they be found. The absence of defect is the result of her being adorned with His perfect righteousness. In this no blemish can exist. Thus she appears righteous, even as God is righteous.
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This blessed truth must be held fast without obliterating the knowledge of our own constant and innumerable transgressions. It cannot be too often repeated, that in ourselves we are deformed and loathsome.
The most saintly of saints will ever breathe the prayer, “God be merciful to me a sinner.”
But Jesus says of His people, “You are all beautiful, My love; there is no spot in you.
IT IS TOO OFTEN A VAIN UNREALIZED DREAM!
John MacDuff, “The Prophet of Fire” 1877
“He said to him, Thus says the Lord, Because you have sent messengers to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, is it because there is no God in Israel to inquire of his word? therefore you shall not come down from the bed where you are gone up, but shall surely die. So he died according to the word of the Lord which Elijah had spoken. 2 Kings 1:16-17
Alas! how much it takes to humble the proud heart. Apart from divine grace no outward trial can do it.
Impending death itself; that hour when, we might suppose, all false confidences and illusions might well be shaken, finds the hardened and impenitent impervious as ever to saving conviction.
Hence the miserable delusion of those who think that they will have penitential feelings in their last hours.
It is too often a vain unrealized dream! As men live, so do men die!
The scorner in life, is a scorner at the last; the blasphemer in life, is often a wilder blasphemer at the last. The
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unjust remain “unjust still” and the filthy remain “filthy still.”
Oh, it is the saddest picture of moral apostasy; the saddest exponent of the enmity of the unregenerate heart; when even DEATH, the ‘king of terrors’ brings no terror to the seared conscience and the unfeeling, stubborn, and obdurate soul; the banner of proud defiance against Christ waved, even when the dreadful gloom of mortal darkness is closing in all around!
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ALL OUR CARE, FORETHOUGHT, AND CAUTION
John MacDuff, “The Prophet of Fire” 1877
“Wherever we go, there is but a step between us and death!” Matthew Henry
“Ahaziah fell down through the lattice in his upper chamber that was in Samaria, and was sick.” 2 Kings 1:2
King Ahaziah was thus suddenly prostrated in the very midst of life; while manhood was yet in its glory.
Let us pause for a moment, and read, from the case of Ahaziah, the impressive lesson, that all our care, forethought, and caution, cannot ward off accident, calamity, and inexorable death.
King Ahaziah was laid low by an accidental fall from an upper room at his palace. He had probably been leaning against the screen, or railing, common in Eastern dwellings; when, overbalancing himself, the slender rail or latticework had given way. He fell on the tessellated floor below, stunned and mangled, and he was carried to a couch from which he was never to rise.
Age, character, rank, position, station, can afford no exemption from such casualties, and from the last
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terminating event of all, the universal doom of dust.
These royal robes encircled a body as perishable as that of the lowest subject of his realm. The hand grasping that ivory scepter, as well as the brawny arm of the strongest menial in his palace, must moulder to decay.
Poor and rich;
the beggar and the prince;
the slave and his master;
Dives with his purple and gold, and Lazarus with his
crumbs and rags, are on a level here.
The path of glory and royalty, of greatness and power, “leads but to the grave.”
The lattice on which the strong man leans;the iron railing of full health and unbroken energy; may in a moment give way.
Sudden accident or fever may in a few hours write Ichabod on a giant’s strength.
When you are moving through life…. charioted in comforts;
wreathed with garlands;
regaled with music,
“Remember you are mortal!”
None dare boast presumptuously of…. strong arm, and
healthy cheek, and
undimmed eye.
It is by the mercy of God each one of us is preserved from the “the terrors of the night, and the dangers of the day, and the plague that stalks in darkness, and the disaster that strikes at midday!”
And when accident or affliction does overtake us, it is our comfort to know that it is by His permission.
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It is He who puts the arrow on the bowman’s string. It is He who loosens the railing in its sockets.
It is He who makes the lightning leap from the clouds on its lethal errand.
It is He who guides the roll of that destroying billow, that has swept a loved one from the deck into a watery grave.
It is He who says, (and who can oppose!) “You shall die, and not live!”
Ah, yes, it is easy for us in health—
when the world goes well;
when life’s cup is brimming;
when the white sails are gleaming on its summer seas; when the music of high holiday is resounding in our
ears—
it is easy then to repress from thought the urgency of more solemn verities.
But wait until the ‘pillow of pain’ receives the aching, recumbent head; wait until the curtains are drawn, and the room darkened, and that music is exchanged for the suppressed whisper, and noiseless footfall; wait until the solemn apprehension for the first time steals over the spirit, that the sand glass is running out, life’s grains diminishing, and that awful hour which we have evaded, dreaded, tampered with, shrunk from, has come at last! How solemn the mockery to try then to give to God the dregs and remnants of a worn existence and a withered love!
How much nobler, wiser, happier to anticipate the necessities of that inevitable hour, that whether our summons shall come by the fall from the lattice, or the gradual sinking and wasting of strength; whether by sudden accident, or by the gradual crumbling of the
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earthly framework; we may be ready, in calm composure, to breathe the saying of the dying patriarch, “I have waited for your salvation, O God.”
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SECRETS OF HAPPY HOME LIFE
J. R. Miller, “Secrets of Happy Home Life”
Home is among the holiest of words.
A true home is one of the most sacred of places.
It is a sanctuary into which men flee from the world’s perils and alarms. It is a resting place to which at close of day the weary retire to gather new strength for the battle and toils of tomorrow. It is the place….
where love learns its lessons;
where life is schooled into discipline and strength; where character is molded.
What are some of the secrets of happy home life?
The answer might be given in one word—Christ.
Christ at the marriage altar;
Christ on the bridal journey;
Christ when the new home is set up;
Christ when the baby is born;
Christ when a child dies;
Christ in the pinching times;
Christ in the days of plenty;
Christ in the nursery, in the kitchen, in the parlor; Christ in the toil and in the rest;
Christ along all the years.
Christ is the secret of happy home life!
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EVERY STONE IN SALVATION’S BEAUTEOUS FABRIC
Henry Law, “Eternal Glory the Ultimate Cause” “Salvation be to our God, who sits on the throne, and to
the Lamb.” Revelation 7:10 The Father decreed it, willed it, planned it.
His love chose every one of that vast multitude in His Son.
His grace gave the whole number to be…. His bride,
His jewels,
His crown.
His wisdom contrived the mode by which they should be cleansed from every stain, and gloriously enrobed in righteousness; and by the Spirit’s power be purified, fitted, sanctified.
Every stone in salvation’s beauteous fabric was selected, prepared, and placed by a loving Father’s hand.
“Salvation belongs to our God!”
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THIS CHEAP CHRISTIANITY
J. C. Ryle, “Holiness”
There is a common worldly kind of Christianity in this day, which many have, and think they have enough.
This cheap Christianity…. offends nobody, requires no sacrifice, costs nothing,
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THIS IS A PLANK WHICH UPHOLDS THE SINKING HEART!
Henry Law, “Cordials in Temporal Troubles” 1873
“Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.” Job 5:7
Each woman’s child is born an heir….
not to a palace or a crown,
not to broad lands or mines of gold,
not to ancestral lineage of fame,
not to high rank among the rich and great, not to a soft seat on luxury’s lap,
but to the inheritance of a common portion, TROUBLE.
Few are called….
to be honored and caressed,
to be idols of admiring crowds,
to outstrip others in the worldly race,
to enjoy sound health and sinewy strength, to overabundance of earthly goods.
But many are called to SUFFERING.
Our usual walk is in a valley of tears.
The billows of affliction swell around us, and storms of distress, with little intermission, buffet us.
Where is the eye which rarely weeps? Where is the breast which seldom sighs? Bereavements go forth to their daily work. Pains and diseases do not slumber.
Wails belong not to a scanty class.
We know that the white robed multitude came out of great tribulations.
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Man is indeed endowed with wondrous gifts of intellect; and mental resources, neither few nor weak, labor to exclude the entrance of trouble. But they can erect no fortress which sorrow fails to scale. They can construct no intercepting bars. Trouble has a key for every lock, and takes its seat by every chair.
It is the rich man’s shadow, and lies on poverty’s low pallet.
It marches with every camp, and sails in every fleet.
It is the native of each climate, and has its root in every soil.
Flight to lonely deserts will not secure escape; and crowds give no concealment. To be a human being, is to be linked to trouble.
This truth cannot be controverted, for every heart confirms it. We read it in the annals of our race. It is the stamp on history’s brow.
In Eden’s garden, clear sunshine was a brief delight; obscuring clouds soon cast a dismal gloom.
Sin came.
All troubles thronged its rear.
The woman hears, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children.” The man hears, “In sorrow shall you eat of it all the days of your life.”
Trouble is….
our common course,
our beaten path,
the well known stream, on which we float.
Earth is a wide Bochim. “So they called that place Bochim.” (lit. ‘weeping’). Judges 2:5
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Trouble is largely written on life’s page.
But some are….
new born of God,
the children of eternal love,
the heirs of never ending life, the sheep of Christ’s pasture, His appointed spouse,
the purchase of His blood,
the called of His Spirit,
His joy, His portion, His delight.
On them….
the eye of God beams lovingly; His power protects;
His wisdom guides;
His angels encamp around them.
Will not their course be constant sunshine?
Will they not soar where trouble cannot come?
Such a conclusion would be a fallacy. Their precious privileges bring not such immunity. It is forever true, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous.” “We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”
The time of trouble is the time of thought. They suffer, and they ponder. Their eyes look inward and above. They ask, “Whence comes this trial?”
The reply is obvious.
It is not the working of blind chance.
God’s will designs; His hand inflicts it!
It is ordered in the courts of heaven.
It is prearranged in the covenant of grace.
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Who will repine when he endures according to a Father’s will? It is a precious word, “As many as I love I rebuke and chasten.”
This is a plank which upholds the sinking heart!
This is an anchor which keeps it steady in the roughest waves.
The spirit cannot faint which tastes this cordial.
The trouble does not dismay, which is fringed with shining evidence of heavenly mission. Then welcome trials. They subserve spiritual welfare, or they would not be sent!
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THIS CHEATING AND DELUDING SCENE.
Henry Law, “The Song of Solomon” 1879 “Who is this who comes up from the wilderness,
leaning on her Beloved?” Song 8:5
A form is seen coming up from the wilderness; but not alone, not unsupported. There is another near, and on Him all weight is laid. The truth is clear. We see the Christian deriving support from his Lord. They proceed together along a path leading up from the wilderness.
The believer is called….
to leave all for Christ;
to come out from a fallen and polluted world;
to shun its pleasures;
to turn from its smiles;
to disregard its frowns;
to close the ear to its enticing voice;
to reject its fascinating cup;
to trample on its principles and maxims;
to feel that the world in its every pulse is opposed to
Christ.
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Such views are the true teachings of the Spirit. The believer, a pupil in this school, arises and departs.
But there is no profit in what he abandons.
The world, when truly seen, is a waste wilderness.
It is no fair garden of Eden, fragrant with delicious flowers. It is no vineyard, in which grapes hang down in luxuriant clusters. It is no peaceful meadow, free from incursions of devouring beasts. It is no lovely grove, in which the melody of cheerful birds delights the ear. It is no path, in which surrounding prospects give enchanting views.
It is a desert—wild, dismal, and unsatisfying.
It is an enemy’s land, beset with perils and encompassed with malignant foes. Here no manna falls, and no refreshing streams trickle by the side.
Its food is poison. To taste is to imbibe death.
What is its produce? Thorns! Thistles! Briers!
It yields no nurture; but disappointment, misery, and woe. The believer is called to come up from this cheating and deluding scene.
But how can the Christian obey? He is weak and powerless in himself. But a mighty arm is near! Jesus says, “I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you; yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of My righteous- ness.” He extends the arm of His omnipotence and cries, “Come, lean on Me!”
As without Jesus the first step cannot be taken, so without Him advance cannot be made. But He is ever near, willing, able.
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The heavenward path is a steep ascent. It requires strong limbs to climb. But leaning on Jesus, the upward race may be run without loitering.
The path, also, through life’s course is slippery. Our feet are liable to stumble. Snares also, and pitfalls are before us. But leaning on Him we are upheld, and safely guided.
Thus let us pass through life leaning on our Beloved. Let us lean on Him as we pass through the valley of the
shadow of death. His rod and staff will surely comfort. Let us enter heaven leaning on the same arm.
TOO WISE A PHYSICIAN TO MAKE ANY MISTAKES
J. C. Ryle, “The Gospel of John” 1873
“When therefore He heard that he was sick, He stayed at that time two days in the place where He was.” John 11:6
Christ knows best at what time to do anything for His people. He purposely delayed His journey, and did not come to Bethany until Lazarus had been in the grave four days. No doubt He knew well what was going on. But He never moved until the time came which He saw was best.
The children of God must constantly school their minds to learn the great lesson now before us. Nothing so helps us to bear patiently the trials of life as an abiding conviction of the perfect wisdom by which everything around us is managed.
Let us try to believe not only that all that happens to us is done well, but that it is done….
in the best manner,
by the right instrument, and at the right time.
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We are all naturally impatient in the day of trial. We are apt to say, like Moses, when beloved ones are sick, “Heal her now, Lord, we beseech You.”
We forget that Christ is too wise a physician to make any mistakes. It is the duty of faith to say, “My times are in Your hand. Do with me as You will, how You will, what You will, and when You will. Not my will, but Yours be done.” The highest degree of faith is to be able to wait, sit still, and not complain.
Let us turn from the passage with a settled determination to trust Christ entirely with all the concerns of this world, both public and private. Let us believe that He by whom all things were made at first, is He who is managing all with perfect wisdom.
The affairs of kingdoms, families, and private individuals are all alike, overruled by Him.
He chooses all the portions of His people.
When we are sick, it is because He knows it to be for our good. When He delays coming to help us, it is for some wise reason.
The hand that was nailed to the cross is too wise and loving to smite without a ‘needs be,’ or to keep us waiting for relief without a cause. f
SAFE IN THE ALMIGHTY SHEPHERD’S HANDS
John Fawcett
“He will feed his flock like a shepherd, He will gather the lambs in his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and will gently lead those who have their young.” Isaiah 40:11
Jesus is the Shepherd of His flock,
to conduct, guard and defend them,
to feed them in the green pastures of His grace,
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to cure and heal their diseases,
to restore them when they wander,
to gather the lambs with His arm,
to carry them in his bosom, and
gently to lead those that are with young.
His power, His care and compassion are infinite.
His followers are as sheep in the midst of wolves. We hear one of them saying, “My soul is among lions!” These lions may gape and roar, they may seek to devour. But the sheep are safe in the Almighty Shepherd’s hands; for He has said, “I know My sheep, they follow Me, and I give them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of My hand.”
Such a Shepherd must be precious.
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WHERE LIONS HAVE THEIR DENS AND PANTHERS PROWL
Henry Law, “The Song of Solomon” 1879
“Come with me from Lebanon, my bride, With me from Lebanon. Look from the top of Amana, From the top of Senir and Hermon, From the lions’ dens, From the mountains of the leopards.” Song of Solomon 4:8
An earnest invitation is here, couched in tenderest terms. The call seems to be addressed to one, who pauses and lingers on the bleak and barren peaks of the lofty range which parted Israel from the Gentile world. In the recesses of these cliffs, ravenous beasts formed their retreats, and rioted in vicious work.
In this call we hear the voice of Christ summoning us to separate from a world, which lies beyond His peaceful kingdom.
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This range is infested by beasts delighting in savagely torturing the prey. The emblem is dark in warning. The summits of this range are bleak and barren.
Such is this cold world.
It is warmed by no gentle and genuine and generous feelings. It looks with chilling indifference on the need and misery of others.
It has no heart to sympathize.
It extends no hand to help.
Selfishness congeals the flow of tender emotion.
It cares little what the poor and needy suffer.
It seeks mainly its own contracted interests.
The mountain top is thus the portrait of this wintry world.
The world, also, is a barren spot.
No pleasing verdure clothes this scene. No flowers shed their fragrance.
No goodly fruits are ripened to refresh. Briers and thorns are its poor produce.
Here we look in vain for the fertility of holy words and works. Christ calls His people to come apart, and to unite themselves to Him.
But these summits are not only scenes of frost and unproductiveness. They have inhabitants who delight in cruelty and craftiness.
See the lion tearing the prey!
See the panther crouching to take the fatal spring. Here again are the children of this world.
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Cruelly they ruin souls.
With subtlety they lay wait to ensnare.
BUT GOD ALSO PREPARED A WORM!
John MacDuff, “The Prophet of Fire” 1877
“The Lord God prepared a vine, and made it to come up over
Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to deliver him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the vine. But God prepared a worm at dawn the next day, and it chewed on the vine, so that it withered.” Jonah 4:6-7
There is surely great comfort in the thought that the bounds of our life are divinely appointed….
our lots in life,
our occupations,
our positions,
our dwellings,
what the fatalist calls ‘our destinies,’
what heathen mythology attributed to ‘the Fates;’
all these are marked out by Him who “sees the end from the beginning.”
It is He who takes us to a place of solitude. It is He who takes us from solitude.
It is He who takes us to our sweet shelters of prosperity, with their sparkling brooks of joy.
It is He who, when He sees fit, sends the worm.
Oh, it is our comfort to know, in this mysterious, raveled, varied life of ours, that the Great Craftsman has the threads of our existence in His own hands; weaving the complex pattern, evolving good out of evil, and order out of confusion.
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MY OWN SPECIAL TREASURE
Octavius Winslow, “Pisgah Views” 1873
“They shall be Mine,” says The Lord of Hosts, “My own
possession in the day that I make.” Malachi 3:17
Not one of the sheep given by the Father to the Son shall
perish.
Not a sinner redeemed by His blood shall be lost. Not a child adopted by His grace shall be absent.
Not a jewel excavated from nature’s mine by His grace shall be missing in that day when the Shepherd shall gather together His flock, and the Father shall bring home His family, and the Savior shall cluster around Him His redeemed.
In that day the King of Zion shall appear, His diadem studded, and His breastplate blazing with the precious stones of His especial and particular treasure.
“The Lord has declared you this day to be a people for His own possession, as He has promised you.” Deut.
26:18
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THE MONOPOLIZER!
Charles Spurgeon, “Altogether Lovely”
“Yes, He is altogether lovely! This is my Beloved, and
this is my Friend.” Song 5:16
Jesus is to the true saint, the only altogether lovely one
in the world.
There is no loveliness anywhere else.
Christ has engrossed all the beauty and all the loveliness in the entire universe.
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Jesus is the monopolizer of all loveliness, and the engrosser of all that is admirable in the entire universe!
As all the rivers meet in the sea, so all beauties unite in
the Redeemer.
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GOD’S KNIFE!
Henry Law, “Comfort for Mourners”
“Every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear
more fruit.” John 15:2
God’s knife is sharp, but it removes encumbering
branches. The process is not purposeless.
Lasting impressions come from heavy blows.
These rigid means are now astir….
to wean you from the world, whose ways are death; to unmask the hollow treachery of ‘creature charms;’ to expose the utter vanity of earth’s delights.
The lesson is now taught, that all is ‘fleeting emptiness’ apart from God. He, and He only, is….
the unfailing portion;
a cup of overflowing joy;
a garden in which calm happiness is ever blooming,
ever fragrant, ever new.
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UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF STRONG TEMPTATION
J. C. Ryle, “The Gospel of John” 1873
The best Christians know but little of their own hearts.
We see the disciples professing loudly, “Now You speak plainly; now we are sure; now we believe.” John 16:30 Brave words these! And yet the very men that spoke them, in a very short time were scattered like timid
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sheep, and left their Master alone.
We need not doubt that the profession of the eleven was real and sincere. They honestly meant what they said. But they did not know themselves! They did not know what they were capable of doing under the pressure of the fear of men, and of strong temptation. They had not rightly estimated….
the weakness of the flesh,
the power of the devil,
the feebleness of their own resolutions, the shallowness of their own faith.
All this they had yet to learn by painful experience.
Like young recruits, they had yet to learn that it is one thing to know the soldier’s drill and wear the uniform, and quite another thing to be steadfast in the day of battle.
Let us mark these things, and learn wisdom. None of us, perhaps, have the least idea how much we might fall if placed suddenly under the influence of strong temptation.
The true secret of spiritual strength is ‘self distrust’ and deep humility.
“For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
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VIEW WELL THE MONSTER IN TRUE LIGHT!
Henry Law, “Comfort for Mourners”
You witnessed DEATH accomplishing its work; irresistible; unrestrained; mocking all opposing means. It came and conquered. At its touch….
the strength declined,
the vital powers ebbed,
the luster of the eye grew dim,
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the color faded,
the senses laid aside their functions, the fluttering pulse stood still, animation was no more,
the heart no longer moved,
the spirit fled its tenement of clay.
Nothing remained, but…. a stranded wreck,
a tenantless abode, an empty casket,
a deserted shell.
Death displayed its ruthlessness and might. It put forth its barbed sting and laughed resistance into nothingness.
It is instructive now to ask, “How is death armed with this tremendous sway? What furbished, what supplied its weapons? What placed a helpless world beneath its conquering feet? Whence its commission to give the inhabitants of the palace and the hut alike, a banquet to devouring worms?”
Now ponder the enlightening reply.
SIN is the origin of death.
“By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned.”
Learn that sin slew your friend, and all who ever died.
Sin locks earth’s offspring in its foul embrace, and so consigns them to the arms of death.
Survey the lifeless frames from Abel to this hour.
Huge is the pile! the whole is piled by sin! SIN…. digs all graves,
constructs all vaults,
peoples each cemetery.
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In all the tears which have bedewed the dying and the dead; in all the mourning which now racks your heart, and has made earth the home of sighs; behold the work of death through sin. You see it now in your own house. Oh! see it rightly, and you will largely gain.
Profit will not be small, if henceforth you hate sin with deadlier hate. View well the monster in true light; the enemy of God; the enemy of man.
Sin changed fair Eden into a wilderness of thorns, and
blackened angels into fiends of hell.
Never give truce to such a foe. Cry for the Spirit’s help to drive it from each corner of your heart.
Unless you slay it, it will be your ruin. Nail it to the Savior’s cross.
It will fight hard, and struggle long; but cease not the encounter. Take courage. Play the man. The believer can do all things through Christ who strengthens him. Grace will expand, while, thus abhorring sin, you steel your breast in earnest opposition.
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DARK AND MYSTERIOUS PROVIDENCES
Octavius Winslow, “No Night There”
Our journey is often dark, long, and weary.
In the present life our path is at times draped with
gloomy, painful, and inexplicable clouds.
“God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.”
So strange in shape, somber in hue, and crushing in effect, are often the events and circumstances of our personal history, that we are stunned and appalled, paralyzed and awed at the ‘thick darkness’ in which our
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God moves; at the overshadowing cloud which He makes His chariot; wondering where the scene will end.
What prophet will explain to us the handwriting upon the wall? Who will interpret the symbols of an event that has suddenly plunged us in a world of mystery?
God is speaking to us from the ‘secret place of thunder.’ He has….
nipped the bursting bud, plucked the lovely flower, broken the graceful sapling, uprooted the strong oak,
sowing life’s landscape with the snowflakes of winter, congealing all its flowing springs, and tincturing all its sweet rivers with the bitterness of Marah.
Like Moses, we are awed into silence by these dreadful emblems of His majesty and power, and wrapping our faces in our mantle, bow our heads in reverence to the ground.
Heaven bids us look beyond the present scene of suffering and sorrow to that glorious world where shall be no drapery of dark and mysterious providences. In
that glorious world, we shall….
read all the lessons of His love,
interpret all the symbols of His providence, understand all the mysteries of His dealings.
How wise will then appear all the way our covenant God led us….
through the wilderness, across the desert,
home to Himself!
We shall then see that….
every dispensation was right,
every stroke needed,
every step an advance in our heavenly ascent,
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and that every cloud that veiled God’s love, was one of its truest and holiest expressions.
And until this ‘night of mystery’ passes, ushering in the ‘perfect day’ whose sunny sky no providential clouds will ever darken; let us resolve all our Heavenly Father’s dealings into infinite wisdom, rectitude, and goodness, fully assured that, “as for God, His work is perfect.”
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THE FLOWERS IN THE LORD’S GARDEN
J. C. Ryle, “The Gospel of John” 1873
“Peter therefore went forth, and the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. They both ran together. The other disciple outran Peter, and came to the tomb first. Stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths lying, yet he didn’t enter in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and entered into the tomb.” John 20:3-6
We are taught in these verses, that there are widely different temperaments in different believers.
This is a point which is curiously brought out in the conduct of Peter and John, when Mary told them that the Lord’s body was gone. We are told that they both ran to the sepulcher; but John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, outran Peter, and reached the empty grave first. Then comes out the difference between the two men.
John, of the two more gentle, quiet, tender, reserved, retiring, deep feeling, stooped down and looked in, but went no further. Peter, more hot, and zealous, and impulsive, and fervent, and forward, cannot be content without going down into the sepulcher, and actually seeing with his own eyes.
Both, we may be sure, were deeply attached to our Lord. The hearts of both, at this critical juncture, were
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full of hopes, and fears, and anxieties, and expectations, all tangled together.
Yet each behaves in his own characteristic fashion.
We need not doubt that these things were intentionally written for our learning. Let us learn, from the case before us, to make allowances for wide varieties in the inward character of believers. To do so will save us much trouble in the journey of life, and prevent many an uncharitable thought.
Let us not judge brethren harshly, and set them down in a low place, because they do not see or feel things exactly as we see and feel, and because things do not affect or strike them just as they affect and strike us.
The flowers in the Lord’s garden are not all of one color and one scent, though they are all planted by one Spirit.
The subjects of His kingdom are not all exactly of one tone and temperament, though they all love the same Savior, and are written in the same book of life.
The Church of Christ has some in its ranks who are like Peter, and some who are like John; and a place for all, and a work for all to do. Let us love all who love Christ in sincerity, and thank God that they love Him at all.
The great thing is to love Jesus!
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SANCTIFIED AFFLICTION
Thomas Reade, “On Affliction” Sanctified affliction has a twofold effect.
Like the wintry blast, it kills the noxious weeds of…. lust,
pride, and covetousness.
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While, like the genial warmth of summer, it nourishes all the kindly graces of the Spirit….
humility, purity, and love.
When affliction renders a man humble, and resigned to the will of God; when it tends to wean him from the world, and produces a change in his whole spirit and conduct; it is because the God of all grace is employing it as a means whereby to lead him, through the accompanying power of the Spirit, to true holiness.
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LIVING IN A WORLD FULL OF DISEASE AND DEATH
J. C. Ryle, “The Gospel of John”
“Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” John 11:3
True Christians may be sick and ill as well as others. We read that Lazarus was one “whom Jesus loved.” Yet Lazarus was sick, even unto death! The Lord Jesus, who had power over all diseases, could no doubt have prevented this illness, if He had thought fit. But He did not do so. He allowed Lazarus to be sick, and in pain, and weary, and to languish and suffer like any other man.
The lesson is one which ought to be deeply engraved in our memories. Living in a world full of disease and death, we are sure to need it some day.
Sickness, in the very nature of things, can never be anything but trying to flesh and blood. Our bodies and souls are strangely linked together, and that which vexes and weakens the body can hardly fail to vex the mind and soul.
But sickness, we must always remember, is no sign that God is displeased with us; no, more, it is generally sent
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for the good of our souls.
It tends to draw our affections away from this world, and to direct them to things above.
It sends us to our Bibles, and teaches us to pray better.
It helps to prove our faith and patience, and shows us the real value of our hope in Christ.
It reminds us that we are not to live always, and tunes and trains our hearts for our great change.
Then let us be patient and cheerful when we are laid aside by illness. Let us believe that the Lord Jesus loves us when we are sick, no less than when we are well.
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DEGREES AND VARIETIES OF GRACE
J. C. Ryle, “The Gospel of John”
“Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.” John 11:5 This verse teaches us that Christ loves all who are true
Christians.
The characters of these three people seem to have been somewhat different. Of Martha, we are told in a certain place, that she was “anxious and troubled about many things,” while Mary “sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard His word.” Of Lazarus we are told nothing distinctive at all.
Yet all these were loved by the Lord Jesus. They all belonged to His family, and He loved them all.
We must carefully bear this in mind in forming our estimate of Christians. We must never forget that there are varieties in character, and that the grace of God does not cast all believers into one and the same mold.
Admitting fully that the ‘foundations’ of Christian character are always the same, and that all God’s
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children repent, believe, are holy, prayerful, and Scripture loving; we must make allowances for wide varieties in their temperaments and habits of mind. We must not undervalue others because they are not exactly like ourselves.
The flowers in a garden may differ widely, and yet the gardener feels interest in all.
The children of a family may be curiously unlike one another, and yet the parents care for all.
It is just so with the Church of Christ.
There are degrees of grace, and varieties of grace; but the least, the weakest, the feeblest disciples are all loved by the Lord Jesus.
Then let no believer’s heart fail because of his infirmities; and, above all, let no believer dare to despise and undervalue a brother.
WE SEEM TO SEE A CHILD
Henry Law, “Deuteronomy” 1858
“The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him.” Deuteronomy 33:12
Survey the picture. It is lovely in repose. We seem to see a child without one care seated securely by a parent’s side. No anxious fears disturb. Undoubting trust spreads its calm influence. A Father, strong and watchful, is at hand. An arm is ready to defend. The happy child knows it, and confides.
The image tenderly depicts the true believer’s blessed state. He sits in peace beside his God. Faith’s wings have borne him upwards. His heart and thoughts have settled in a tranquil realm. The restless wanderings of former days are past.
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There was a time, when he was tossed about on stormy waves. He wandered hopelessly in search of peace. But now he rests in God. His home is by his Father’s side. “The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him.”
With filial confidence bring each…. trial,
trouble, sorrow, need, affliction, doubt, distress,
to your Father’s ear.
God is near….
to cheer,
to bless,
to wipe the weeping eye,
to soothe the wounded heart,
to raise the drooping spirit,
to send the pilgrim singing on his way.
“The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him.”
Deut. 33:12
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EXPULSIVE POWER!
J. C. Ryle, “The Gospel of John”
“The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and said to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?” John 4:28-29
She had left her home for the express purpose of drawing water. She had carried a large vessel to the well, intending to bring it back filled.
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But she found at the well a new heart, and new objects of interest.
She became a new creature! Old things passed away!
All things became new!
At once everything else was forgotten for the time. She could think of nothing but the truths she had heard, and the Savior she had found. In the fullness of her heart she “left her water jar,” and hastened away to tell others.
We see here the expulsive power of the grace of the Holy Spirit. Grace once introduced into the heart drives out old tastes and interests. A converted person no longs cares for what he once cared for!
A new tenant is in the house! A new pilot is at the helm! The whole world looks different! All things have become new!
Conduct like that here described is doubtless uncommon in the present day. Rarely do we see a person so entirely taken up with spiritual matters, that attention to this world’s affairs is made a secondary matter, or postponed.
And why is it so?
Simply because true conversions to God are uncommon. Few really feel their sins, and flee to Christ by faith. Few really pass from death to life, and become new creatures.
Yet these few are the real Christians of the world. What are WE ourselves? This is the question, after all,
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which demands our notice. Do we feel the supreme importance of spiritual things, and the comparative nothingness of the things of the world?
Where is the reality of OUR Christianity?
Let us take heed lest we awake too late, and find that we are lost forever, a wonder to angels and devils, and, above all, a wonder to ourselves, because of our own obstinate blindness and folly.
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THERE IS NOTHING TOO TRIVIAL
Octavius Winslow
“And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”
Matthew 10:30
Christ thus teaches us that our Heavenly Father takes cognizance of the minutest events and circumstances of our individual history; and that there is nothing too trivial or common to be beneath His interest and control.
And thus, although the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain Him, yet He seeks a dwelling place amid the sighs and groans and desires of a humble, broken, and contrite heart.
And all the interests of that heart; its…. faintest desire,
gentlest sigh,
softest prayer,
are entwined with the purposes, thoughts, and affections of His heart.
Our heavenly Father is concerned with the most infinitesimal event and incident of our history!
“And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”
Matthew 10:30
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HE WILL WARM, SOFTEN, AND FILL IT WITH HIS LOVE.
Mary Winslow, “Life in Jesus”
If your heart appears cold, hard, and insensible, take it to Jesus, and tell Him how it is with you.
He will warm, soften, and fill it with His love.
Let nothing come between you and your best Friend.
In all your fears, failures, and discouragements, go to Him, and tell Him all.
Let us, in this world of trial, cling close to Him, and lean more upon Him as little helpless children.
Keep a constant communion with Him.
Tell Him all you feel, or wish, or need.
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GOD’S CHISEL
John MacDuff, “The Night Dream of the Desert” God deals in love with all His spiritual children.
The rod is required in some, more than in others…. to subdue the defiant and obdurate will,
to put an end to all schemings and compromise, and gain the heart to an unconditional surrender.
The Divine Sculptor, with each successive stroke of the chisel, has the great end in view of bringing out His own image in the soul, and deepening in it His love of goodness, truth, purity, and kindness.
And while not one stroke of that chisel is an unnecessary one, He will not cease His work until the spiritual marble has been fashioned so as to reach perfectly and forever, His own image.
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POTSHERDS OF EARTH COVERED WITH SILVER DROSS?
Thomas Reade, “Christian Meditations”
True religion is seated in the heart.
The understanding may be well furnished with Gospel
truth, and yet the heart remain destitute of Gospel grace.
A man may have very clear notions of the doctrines of grace, but if the grace of those doctrines does not influence his heart, and shine forth in a holy life, all his knowledge will profit him nothing.
A person may speak well and fluently upon religion; and yet be quite dead to the power of that Gospel, on which he speaks so well.
Something more is requisite to form the true Christian than ‘head knowledge’ and religious conversation.
Many who now shine in their circle of religious friends, will, at last, be found no better than potsherds of earth covered with silver dross.
A person, living in a round of external duties, may be esteemed first by many who look only at the outward appearance, while he is viewed as last by the Searcher of hearts.
A talkative forward professor may attract attention, and gain admirers; but it is the humble, meek, self-denying believer, who studiously avoids all public notice, while he is laboring with all his might to advance the interests of the Gospel, that will be owned by Jesus in that great day, when true faith will be made manifest by its genuine fruits.
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COME AND DISPLAY YOUR TREASURE!
Henry Law, “Deuteronomy” 1858
Ah! wretched worldling, when will you be wise!
Come and display your treasure!
Your best is but…. a fading flower;
a fleeting shadow; a tottering reed;
a failing brook.
And how long can your hands retain it?
How long?
You startle. You tremble. You turn pale.
How long?
It perishes, while you strive to grasp it!
What will then follow?
Hell is at hand to answer!
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THE ONLY THING THAT MAKES YOU DIFFER
Octavius Winslow, “Jesus, Full of Grace”
“But by the grace of God I am what I am.” 1 Corinthians 15:10
Christian! the only thing that makes you differ from the vilest being that pollutes the earth, or from the darkest fiend that gnaws his chains in hell, is the free grace of God!
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WHAT DELUSIONS!
Thomas Reade, “Christian Experience” “The human heart is deceitful above all things and
desperately wicked.” Jeremiah 17:9
O! what a wretched being is man, when left to himself! Every evil nestles in his heart, producing a thousand stings to torment him in time and through eternity.
It is awful to think what delusions men practice upon themselves. Through the artifices of Satan, and the false reasonings of their own hearts, they are deceived to their own ruin.
They compare themselves with those who are more notoriously wicked; and thus think themselves good.
They magnify their supposed virtues, and soften down their vices.
They presume upon the mercy of God, as if He were too benevolent to put His threatenings into execution; or in other words, too good to be true.
They depend upon a ‘deathbed repentance,’ not considering that repentance is the work of the Holy Spirit.
They disbelieve the eternity of hell torments, as being a punishment too cruel and severe for the all bounteous Creator to inflict upon His erring creatures.
They deny the particular providence of God; esteeming it beneath His glorious Majesty, to inspect their trivial concerns, or to notice each trifling deviation from His Law.
They suppose the Almighty to be such a one as
themselves.
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OPINIONS? THEOLOGY? RELIGION?
Horatius Bonar
It is not opinions that man needs, it is TRUTH.
It is not theology that man needs, it is GOD.
It is not religion that man needs, it is CHRIST. f
ENTANGLING THINGS?
Spurgeon, “The One Thing Needful” Around us are a thousand entangling things.
I see all around me a crowd of alluring, fascinating, pleasurable and dazzling things.
Pleasure calls to me; I hear her siren song.
Philosophy and learning charm me; fain would I yield my
heart to them.
This world is very much like the pools we have heard of in India, in which grows a long grass of so clinging a character that, if a man once falls into the water, it is almost certain to be his death, for only with the utmost difficulty could he be rescued from the meshes of the deadly, weedy net, which immediately wraps itself around him.
This world is even thus entangling.
All the efforts of grace are needed to preserve men from being ensnared with the deceitfulness of riches, and the cares of this life….
the ledger demands you,
the shop requires you,
the warehouse bell rings for you; the theater invites,
the ballroom calls.
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You must live, you say, and you must have a little enjoyment, and, consequently, you give your heart to the world.
These things, I say, are very entangling; but we must be disentangled from them, for we cannot afford to lose our souls.
“What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and lose his own soul?”
If a ship is going down, and a passenger has his gold in a bag about him, see how he acts.
With regret he flings his bag of treasure down upon the deck, for his life is dearer than gold. If he may but save his life, he is willing to lose all else besides.
Oh, sirs! for the one thing needful, all entangling things
must be given up.
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HALF THE DISEASES OF CHRISTIANITY
J. C. Ryle, “The Gospel of Matthew” 1856 “These are the names of the twelve apostles….and Judas
Iscariot, who betrayed Him.” Matthew 10:2-4
We are taught here, that all ministers are not necessarily saved men. We see our Lord choosing a Judas Iscariot to be one of His apostles. We cannot doubt that He who knew all hearts, knew well the characters of the men whom He chose.
And He includes in the list of apostles one who was a traitor!
We shall do well to bear in mind this fact.
Ordination does not confer the saving grace of the Holy Spirit. Ordained men are not necessarily converted. We are not to regard them as infallible, either in doctrine or in practice.
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We are not to make popes or idols of them, and insensibly put them in Christ’s place. We are to regard them as “men of like passions” with ourselves, liable to the same infirmities, and daily requiring the same grace.
We are not to think it impossible for them to do very bad things, or to expect them to be above the reach of harm from flattery, covetousness, and the world.
We are to prove their teaching by the word of God, and follow them so far as they follow Christ, but no further.
Above all, we ought to pray for them, that they may be successors not of Judas Iscariot; but of James and John. It is a dreadful thing to be a minister of the Gospel!
Ministers need many prayers.
It is plain that the life of a faithful minister of Christ cannot be one of ease. He must be ready to spend body and mind, time and strength, in the work of His calling. Laziness and frivolity are bad enough in any profession, but worst of all in that of a watchman for souls.
It is plain, for another thing, that the position of the ministers of Christ is not that which ignorant people sometimes ascribe to them, and which they unhappily sometimes claim for themselves. They are not so much ordained to rule as to serve. They are not intended so much to have dominion over the Church, as to supply its needs, and serve its members.
Happy would it be for the cause of true religion, if these things were better understood! Half the diseases of Christianity have arisen from mistaken notions about the pastor’s office!
Money can hire workers. Universities can give learning. Congregations may elect.
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Bishops may ordain.
But the Holy Spirit alone can make ministers of the Gospel.
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SATAN’S SPIRITUAL DOMINION OVER YOUNG PEOPLE
J. C. Ryle, “The Gospel of Matthew” 1856
“And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.” Matthew 17:18
We must not forget that there are many instances of Satan’s spiritual dominion over young people, which are quite as painful, in their way, as the case described in this passage.
There are thousands of young people who seem to have
wholly given themselves up to Satan’s temptations, and to be led captive at his will.
They cast off all fear of God, and all respect for His com- mandments. They serve diverse lusts and pleasures.
They run wildly into every excess of riot.
They refuse to listen to the advice of parents, teachers, or ministers.
They fling aside all regard for health, character, or worldly respectability.
They do all that lies in their power to ruin themselves, body and soul, for time and eternity.
They are willing bondslaves of Satan.
Who has not seen such young people?
They are to be seen in town and in country.
They are to be found among rich and among poor.
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Surely such young people give mournful proof, that Satan still exercises a fearful dominion over some men’s souls.
Yet even about such young people as these, we must never despair. We must call to mind the almighty power of our Lord Jesus Christ. Bad as this boy’s case was, of whom we read in these verses, he was “was healed from that moment” that he was brought to Christ!
Parents, and teachers, and ministers should go on praying for young people, even at their worst.
Hard as their hearts seem now, they may yet be softened.
Desperate as their wickedness now appears, they may yet be healed.
They may yet repent, and be converted, and their last state prove better than their first.
Who can tell?
Let it be a settled principle with us, when we read our Lord’s miracles, never to despair of the conversion of ANY
soul.
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THIS IS A GOLDEN RULE INDEED!
J. C. Ryle, “The Gospel of Matthew” 1856
“Therefore whatever you desire for men to do to you, you shall also do to them.” Matthew 7:12
Jesus here lays down a general principle for our guidance in all doubtful questions between man and man.
We are not to deal with others as others deal with us. This is mere selfishness and heathenism.
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We are to deal with others as we would like others to deal with us. This is real Christianity.
This is a golden rule indeed! It does not merely forbid all petty malice and revenge, all cheating and deceit. It does much more. It settles a hundred difficult points, which in a world like this are continually arising between man and man.
It prevents the necessity of laying down endless little rules for our conduct in specific cases. It sweeps the whole debatable ground with one mighty principle. It shows us a balance and measure, by which every one may see at once what is his duty.
Is there a thing we would not like our neighbor to do to us? Then let us always remember, that this is the thing we ought not to do to him.
Is there a thing we would like him to do to us?
Then this is the very thing we ought to do to him.
How many intricate questions would be decided at once, if this
rule were honestly used!
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THE RAREST AND MOST BEAUTIFUL OF GRACES?
J. C. Ryle, “The Gospel of Matthew” 1856
Pride is the oldest and commonest of sins. Humility is the rarest and most beautiful of graces. For humility let us labor.
For humility let us pray.
Our knowledge may be scanty. Our faith may be weak.
Our strength may be small.
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But if we are disciples of Jesus, let us at any rate be humble.
Humility is the very first letter in the alphabet of Christianity.
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EVERY THREAD IN THE WEB OF LIFE
by John MacDuff
Every thread in the web of life is woven by the Great Craftsman! Not one movement in these swiftly darting needles is chance; but all is by His direction, and all is to result in good!
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A POWERFUL AND PERSUASIVE INFLUENCE
MacDuff, “Words of Comfort to the Christian Pilgrim”
Every believer may exercise a powerful and persuasive influence, by a daily, consistent Christian walk; by showing to all around him, brotherly kindness and love; and by manifesting in every word and action, meekness, patience, and humility.
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A MOST DIFFICULT SCIENCE?
Thomas Reade, “Christian Experience”
The knowledge of ourselves is a most difficult science, owing to the vanity of our minds, and the influence of ‘self love.’
We are blind to our own faults, but quick sighted to the failings of others.
The mote in our brother’s eye is readily discerned, while we are unconscious of the beam so apparent in our own. f
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DAILY STRENGTH
MacDuff, “Words of Comfort to the Christian Pilgrim” “As your days, so shall your strength be.” Deuteronomy 33:25
The Christian is frequently compared to a pilgrim, traveling onwards through a dreary wilderness, to the promised land of Canaan.
His experience is varied and chequered. The path before him may be steep and arduous.
He may have to pass through…. rough and stony places;
dark, thick forests;
rapid streams;
raging hurricanes.
His days may be such, as to require great…. strength,
and energy,
and perseverance.
Oftentimes, when he strives to anticipate the future, his heart sinks within him, his courage fails, and he is apt to give way to despondency and doubt. But, such a promise, ”As your days, so shall your strength be,” may well suffice to calm the believer’s fears, and reanimate his fainting spirit.
It is true that changes and vicissitudes will come; true, that the heart, which today is cheerful and happy, may tomorrow be wounded and bleeding; true, that the full cup, now held with gladness, may be dashed in pieces before the lips have tasted the refreshing draught; true, that the bright hope, which, like a guiding star, allures the traveler onwards, may speedily be enwrapped in pitchy gloom.
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But to the child of God, there is a supply of strength to meet the hour of trial. He is not permitted to escape from the burden, the cross, the difficulty. But he is enabled to make his way through them all; to struggle with, and finally to overcome them.
Many a time, when the believer has been well near crushed under the oppressive weight; when, conscious that ordinary strength would not avail, he has cried unto the Lord, and a fresh supply of grace has been given to meet the emergency; so that he could say with David, “I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.” Psalm 40:1-2
It would be easy for God, to make the path heavenward, plain and unobstructed to His children; easy, to remove all care, anxiety, and sorrow. But such is not His purpose.
Earth is the training school for Heaven. God wills that His children should be tried; that their spiritual natures should be refined and purified in the furnace of affliction.
And that thus, by the very struggles and pains of their earthly pilgrimage, they should become more and more fit for serving Him in this world; and more and more fit for the inheritance of the saints in light.
The Christian, by each difficulty he is called on to encounter; by each trial he is summoned to bear; by each virtue he is required to call into exercise; becomes more vigorous, earnest, faithful, and Christlike. His soul is gradually training and strengthening by duty, trial, and endurance here; for glory, honor, and immortality hereafter.
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Every fresh victory…. over pride,
over vanity,
over avarice,
over selfishness,
over fretfulness,
makes us stronger for the time to come, and insures the fulfillment of the promise, “As your days, so shall your strength be.”
Christian! mark again these words. They do not give the pledge, that we shall not feel the burden and heat of the day. All they promise is, that we shall get safely through. They do not say that we shall not feel the weight of our duties, trials, temptations, conflicts. All they say is, that we shall have strength to bear their weight, and journey on with our load.
The grace imparted, will then be “sufficient” for us; sufficient for our actual necessities; sufficient strength equal to our day.
Strength to encounter the tempest will be given when the tempest rages.
Strength to breast the foaming surges will be given when the hurricane has actually come.
Strength to grapple with the last enemy will be given when he comes forth to meet you.
Yes, Christian! be assured, grace and strength will be imparted when you need them, as certainly as they will be withheld before you need them.
He who guides you, knows your necessities, and, in the day of trouble, will not leave you comfortless.
Journey on, then, with firmness, relying on His promise. Your day is coming. You will, before long, enter into your final rest, and repose from all your
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labors. You will take possession of the promised inheritance, and will then acknowledge with a grateful heart, “As my days, so my strength has been.”
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WHERE DID GOD FIND YOU?
MacDuff, “Words of Comfort to the Christian Pilgrim”
“He found him in a desert land, In the waste howling wilderness; He compassed him about, He cared for him, He kept him as the apple of His eye.” Deuteronomy 2:10
Christian! see here an emblem of yourself.
Where did God find you? He found you in “a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness.”
Yes, earth with all its loveliness and beauty is a desert place, until the sinner has been found by God.
There is much, it is true, to attract the eye and to gratify the sense; but fair and lovely though it be, in a moral and spiritual view it is “a desert land.”
The soul can find in it no sustenance, and no refuge in this desert. In this “waste howling wilderness,” he is surrounded, on every side, by dangers; and exposed to countless perils.
But, oh! it is a blessed thing to know that God seeks out, and finds the wanderer, in the desert; and, when He has found him, “He leads him,” not always by a direct path, to the promised land, but by a circuitous route, and in the right way, to “a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.”
Reader! has God permitted you to encounter the sharp stroke of affliction? Has He taken from you the earthly prop, upon which you were used to lean all too fondly?
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Remember! God is leading you! These unexpected trials; these heart rending bereavements; are just so many turnings in your pilgrimage. No thorn has been scattered on your path, but what is common to the one family of God.
The Shepherd is leading you, as all the flock are led, with a skillful hand, and in the right way.
He “instructs us” in….
His love, and faithfulness, and goodness;
our own weakness, and His all sufficiency;
our impotence, and His omnipotence;
our corruption, and His grace;
our own frailty, and His steadfastness;
our unbelief, and His unwavering faithfulness to His
word.
Mark the believer’s security, “He keeps him as the apple of His eye.” Such is God’s watchful guardianship over His saints; such His unceasing vigilance.
Yes! humble, unknown, obscure believer; dwelling in a lowly cottage, in some sequestered glen, far removed from the hum of human voice or occupation, if only you can say of God, that He is your reconciled Father, you are more to be envied than princes of the earth, for you are in possession of a blessedness, such as….
no monarch can bestow, no wealth can purchase, no earthly power procure.
Be sure that God, even your God, does not, for a solitary instant, forget or overlook you! Your most trivial actions are not without interest in His sight. Not a hair falls to the ground without your Father.
He orders all things, for the discipline of your soul, to prepare you for the glories and the blessings of eternity.
Christian!
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God has found you! God is leading you! God is instructing you!
Oh, then, leave to Him to choose your path in life!
As you stand upon the cloudless summits of the heavenly Zion, welcomed by angelic bands, greeted with the loud hosannas of the redeemed, methinks this will prove the theme of your song, “He found him in a desert land, In the waste howling wilderness; He compassed him about, he cared for him, He kept him as the apple of his eye.” Deut. 32:10
“Is this the way, my Father?” “Yes, my child.
You must pass through the tangled, dreary wild, If you would reach the City undefiled,
Your peaceful home above.”
“But enemies are round!” “Yes, child, I know That where you least expect you will find a But victor you shall prove o’er all below,
Only seek strength above.”
“My Father, it is dark!” “Child, take my hand; Cling close to Me; I’ll lead you through the Trust My all seeing care; so shall you stand
Midst glory bright above.”
“My footsteps seem to slide!” “Child, only raise Your eye to Me, then in these slippery ways I will hold up your goings; you shall praise
Me for each step above.”
foe,
land;
“O Father, I am weary!” “Child, lean your head Upon My breast; it was My love that spread
Your rugged path; hope on still, until I have said,
Rest; rest forever above.”—Monsell f
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GOD’S PROVIDENTIAL REIGN
Octavius Winslow, The Lord’s Prayer
This world is not….
a kingdom without a throne,
a throne without a sovereign,
or a sovereign without a scepter.
By no blind accident are the affairs of this planet governed.
God is in the history of the world…. its past,
its present, and
its yet unshapen future.
The statesman and the politician may not recognize this fact; but it is so.
God rules the kingdom of providence.
His hand is moving and controlling all events and circumstances, national and social, public and private; giving birth, and shape, and tint to those phenomena in the history of nations, and to those affairs in the history of individuals, which to human perception are often enshrouded in mystery so dreadful and profound.
Let this view of God’s providential reign hush all murmurings at our lot, making us content with such things as we have, assured that He will never leave us nor forsake us.
Let it bow our soul in meek submission to His sovereign will, in view of those painful and inexplicable events which sometimes cast the darkest shade upon our sunniest landscape, and dash from our lips their sweetest cup of joy.
Let it incite our gratitude for the blessings loaned us so long, though now removed; and for the blessings which
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still remain to soothe, and gladden, and cheer us onward.
Let it strengthen our faith in the Divine assurance that our daily bread shall be given us, our path shielded amid encircling evil, and our soul, guided by His counsel and kept by His power, eventually and safely conducted home to glory.
“Yes, Lord, the kingdom of providence is Yours, and I would see Your hand, and trace Your wisdom, and taste Your goodness in all the shaping and tinting of my whole history. I would deal alone with You in all the lights and shadows of my daily life. Those lights and shadows are of Your penciling, O Lord. If joy thrills my heart, it is of Your inspiration. If sorrow breaks it, it is of Your sending. Teach me that I have, in all things, to do only with You.”
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THE SAD RECORD OF MANY A RELIGIOUS PROFESSOR
Octavius Winslow, “The Lord’s Prayer” 1866
The believer has great temptation from the world.
We must pass through it, for there is no escape.
The world is the empire of the Evil One, and it is the empire of evil. It is essentially and emphatically an evil world, all its works evil, and nothing but evil.
The ungodliness of the world is appalling.
Whether we view it in its savage or its civilized state, in its refined or its gross forms of society, “we know that the whole world lies in wickedness.” Thus from every quarter is the world a snare and a temptation to the God’s children.
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Awed by its frowns we may be dissuaded from taking up Christ’s cross. Seduced by its smiles we may be persuaded to lay it down.
Our very circumstances in life may expose us to peculiar temptation. Affluence may ensnare us into wasteful extravagance and worldly living. Poverty may tempt us to depart from strict uprightness and integrity.
And then there is the worldliness of the world. How powerful and ever present a snare is this to the child of God!
“Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world,” is the sad record of many a religious professor once standing so high; but now no more walking with Jesus, swept away by the resistless current of….
the world’s gaieties,
the world’s enterprises,
and even the world’s religion.
THE ALL SUFFICIENCY OF CHRIST
Octavius Winslow, “It Is Well” 1860
“From His fullness we all received grace upon grace.” John 1:16
Look away from…. your sins,
your backslidings, your unfruitfulness, your infirmities, your shortcomings, and your flaws.
Look to Christ, and get a closer, clearer, fuller view of the cross.
The all sufficiency of Christ meets your case. –180–
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Sweet truth!
I ask not how peculiar, how aggravated, how desperate, how discouraging, the state of your soul may be. I hesitate not to affirm that such is Christ, such His love, His compassion, His fullness, His power. Your condition of soul comes within the scope of His sufficiency.
Christ’s Christ’s Christ’s Christ’s Christ’s Christ’s Christ’s Christ’s Christ’s
needs.
merit meets your demerit.
unchangeableness meets your backslidings. grace meets your corruptions.
blood meets your guiltiness.
fullness meets your emptiness.
power meets your impossibilities.
compassion meets your misery.
sympathy meets your sorrow.
intercession covers all your circumstances and
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THE SECRET OF OUR GROWTH IN GRACE
Octavius Winslow, “The Lord’s Prayer” 1866 “May Your will be done.” Matthew 6:10
The great secret of all quietness and contentedness of mind under all circumstances, is in the resignation of our own will to God’s will.
The moment there arises in the breast the least hostility to what God does, or enjoins, there is unhappiness.
The cheerful doing and the patient suffering of our Father’s will resolves itself into perfect satisfaction with all that He does. This is….
the daily lesson of life,
the secret of our growth in grace,
the essence of our personal holiness.
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“May Your will be done!” This is the most solemn prayer it is possible for man to breathe.
WHAT! LORD! AFTER ALL THAT I HAVE DONE!
Octavius Winslow, “The Lord’s Prayer” 1866
“Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against the Lord your God, and have scattered your ways to the strangers under every green tree, and you have not obeyed My voice, says the Lord.” Jeremiah 3:13
God has laid great stress in His word upon the confession of sin. How touching His language addressed to His backsliding people, whose backslidings were of a most aggravated character; than which none could have been of deeper guilt, seeing that they had committed the sin of idolatry!
“Only acknowledge your guilt.” This was all that He required at their hands. “Only acknowledge.”
Poor penitent soul, bending in tears and self reproaches over this page, read these words again and again, and yet again, until they have scattered all your dark, repelling thoughts of this sin forgiving God, winning you to His feet as His restored and comforted child, “only acknowledge your guilt.”
“What! Lord! after all that I have done, after…. my base returns,
my repeated wanderings,
my aggravated transgressions,
my complicated iniquity,
my sins against conviction, light, and love;
do You still stretch out Your hand to me, a poor, wretched wanderer as I am? Do You go forth to meet, to welcome, to pardon me? Do You watch the first kindling of penitence, the first tear of contrition, the
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first word of confession, ‘Father, I have sinned!’ Lord, I fall at Your feet, the greatest of sinners….
Your power has drawn me, Your love has subdued me, Your grace has conquered me!”
SMALL PROGRESS IN HOLINESS?
Hannah More, “Practical Piety”
Many Christians make but small progress in holiness because….
their difficulties may be great;
their natural capacity may be weak; their temptations may be strong; and their instruction may be defective.
DEAD OR WOUNDED?
Henry Law, “Beacons of the Bible” 1869
When grace subdues the heart, a wondrous change ensues!
Earth knows no greater. But words are weak to picture it. Images lend not sufficient aid.
Light shines, where once night brooded. Satan’s chains no more enslave.
The prison bars are broken.
Right principles direct.
Right ends are sought.
Right means are used.
Life now is life indeed, for the man lives to God. Such is a feeble outline of the new creation.
But is SIN therefore Dead?
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Wounded indeed it is, but it retains power to sting. Sometimes it revives in fearful strength.
Though crippled, it strives to conquer. It may seem for a season to regain its hold, and win brief victory. It may roll the new man in the mire. But it cannot keep him down.
Its real dominion is gone.
Its existence only lingers, until full escape from this
world delivers wholly from its touch.
Where is the saint who is not conscious that the foe still lives? Witness the closet prayers of the man of God….
What bitter humblings!
What smitings of the breast!
What sensitive laments!
What writhing under the motions of corruption’s
filth!
Tears, sobs, and cries are frequent.
“When I would do good, evil is present with me.”
“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”
“God be merciful to me a sinner.”
Faithful Scripture warns of this constant conflict. It tells that the heavenward march is over treacherous roads, where many pilgrims slip and stumble!
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ONE OF THE GREATEST MYSTERIES IN RELIGION
J. C. Ryle, “The Gospel of John” 1873
The extent to which one man may have true saving grace, together with much ignorance; and another may have much head knowledge and yet no true saving
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grace; is one of the greatest mysteries in religion, and one which the last day alone will unfold.
AN ICEBERG IN THE CHURCH!
Henry Law, “Beacons of the Bible” 1869
“The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not
sincerely.” Philippians 1:16 A lukewarm ministry is a withering blight.
It is an iceberg in the Church!
It freezes and deadens.
Can lips be cold which speak…. of heaven;
of hell;
of never dying souls;
of God’s everlasting love in Christ!
With such themes….
hearts should glow;
words should burn;
arguments should put forth giant strength; entreaties should agonize.
Can I then speak with chilly apathy?
Away with indifference when such interests are at stake!
THE FIRST DRUNKARD!
Henry Law, “Beacons of the Bible” 1869
“Noah began to be a farmer, and planted a vineyard. He drank of the wine, and got drunk. He was uncovered within his tent.” Genesis 9:20-21
Alas! this is a world of snares! To be beyond temptation is to soar high above this earth.
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Beneath the flower the viper lurks!
The pathway is beside a precipice.
The goblet may beguile. In the deep draught there is poison! Excess brings death.
There is no mercy incapable of abuse.
There is no privilege, which may not be misused.
The cheering wine may make a drunkard. The strengthening bowl may hurl a saint from his high pinnacle.
Could it be so with Noah?
Fact must be heard.
The record cannot be erased.
“One day he became drunk on some wine he had made and lay naked in his tent.”
Who will not sigh!
Who can restrain the pitying tear!
Alas! that such a sin should foully stain so great; so good a man! But it is so!
His sun goes down behind this darksome cloud.
This miserable blot pollutes the goodness of his name. This vile transgression soils his pure life!
The day cannot be canceled.
The deed cannot be recalled.
Intoxication was incurred.
Concealment cannot hide it.
The sin was done.
Noah, the glory of the ancient world, the first fruits
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unto God of the new world, is dishonored as the first drunkard! “One day he became drunk on some wine he had made and lay naked in his tent.”
All sin is….
frightful in its nature, fearful in its course, destructive in its outcome.
The devil kindles it. God hates it.
Wrath pursues it.
But where is the sin so pregnant with all evil as drunkenness? Mark its effects upon its miserable victims….
It puts out the lamp of reason.
It quenches the light of every faculty.
It cripples every power.
It destroys each spark of consciousness.
Behold the besotted man….
His eyes possess no more clear perception.
His ears receive not the true sound.
His feet refuse to lead him in straight paths.
His tongue gives vent; at best to folly; more frequently
to blasphemy, and every vileness.
Ah! what a spectacle!
No beast is so degraded!
No fiend outside hell’s confines can be more foul. He lies contemptible below contempt.
Oh! wine, what have you done?
Wherever drunkenness appears, it comes as a heartless
and destructive pest.
Unhappiness in every form attends its steps….
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sickness,
and withered bodies,
and early death are its sure fruits.
Whoever would contemplate wretchedness, let him mark the wretched drunkard. Whoever would see misery, let him enter the drunkard’s home. Whose are….
the trembling limbs?
the feverish pulse?
the aching head?
the restless mind?
the gnawing remorse?
the hardened heart?
the reckless disregard of reputation? the stifling of conscience?
These woes are the drunkard’s lot!
He is unhappy, and the cup is his relief. He drinks again to lull remorse. He awakens to deeper sorrow, and to drink the more. The more he drinks, the more he thirsts.
Disease soon shows its face.
The bodily and mental powers fade.
Trembling imbecility follows.
So the drunkard goes downhill to a drunkard’s grave!
Whose is that wretched home? Poverty and filth have the possession. Neglect and squalidness occupy it as their own.
The wife, unaided and downcast, with weeping eye and broken heart, sees hopeless poverty.
The children, famished, naked, untaught; proclaim the shameless father’s hardened heart.
The wages needful to sustain them, supplies the parent’s poison!
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This is a drunkard’s home!
Noah, an aged, experienced saint is entrapped in this snare! No warning can be louder. It speaks with trumpet tongue. We learn, that no advance in grace can raise above the devil’s far extending arm!
No lengthened walk with God mounts to a path above Satan’s reach. Many years of holy living do not screen from his assaults. While flesh is the tabernacle, there is danger. While earth is the home, it will be haunted by this untiring foe. There is no moment when the watchtower may be left.
The constant attitude must be the bended knee. The arm must ever wield the sword of the Spirit, which is the eternal Word. The shield may not be laid aside. Satan never ceases to hate and tempt.
Draw then nearer and nearer to the sheltering side of your beloved Lord. Let your eyes ever gaze upon the cross! The more you see redeeming blood, the more you will abhor iniquity.
Trust not, however, to previous grace.
It was sufficient for its day. But each day needs its own supply….
This help is ready.
The treasury is open. Approach by faith.
Go in by prayer.
Receive heaven’s bounty.
Remember that each day is full of peril. Therefore never cease to watch.
Do not forget, that in one unguarded moment a terrible downfall may occur!
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Think, also, that one false step brings terrible disgrace on your good reputation, and causes hell to laugh, and all the enemies of God to revel in blaspheming sneers.
Your sin may ruin multitudes.
A good man’s sin may be exposed to many eyes. But God alone sees….
the deep humiliation of the wounded spirit; the many tears;
the earnest cries for mercy;
the self-abhorring anguish;
the increased self-distrust; the life long grief.
Noah would well learn, that the atoning blood was rich to wash out all his crimson stains. He would not doubt that divine righteousness would completely cloak his terrible defilement. But, pardoned by God, he never would forgive himself.
Until the grave covered him, he would walk…. lowly;
contrite;
with downcast head;
with bleeding heart;
with many a self condemning thought.
THE BIBLE
Henry Law, “Beacons of the Bible” 1869
The Bible is the richest treasure of the world.
Without it the palace is a dark blank.
With it the humble cottage sparkles with celestial light. It is the transcript of God’s heart.
It tells, what human reason is weak to find.
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It is pure truth without one shade of error.
It gives knowledge on all things needful for time and for eternity.
It is a safe guide through life’s entangled path.
It is a compass….
through shoals and rocks; amid winds and waves;
to heaven’s eternal rest.
The sage is ignorant without it.
The peasant learns from it salvation’s road. It is a solace for every hour.
It is a companion always ready to converse. It cheers when other comforts fail.
It is arrayed in every charm for intellect.
It never wearies.
It is always fresh.
Its oldest truths cannot grow old.
Its readers become more wise; more holy.
Other books may puzzle and corrupt. The Bible is from heaven, and leads to heaven.
It enters the heart with purifying grace.
The more you search the Bible, the more your minds will wonder, and your hearts will love.
Read it as literally true. Then no human philosophy will beguile you.
Ponder its characters. You will find on them the intrinsic stamp of truth.f
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BREAK ITS ALLURING SPELL
by John MacDuff
Blessed Jesus, alas! I have to mourn that the world which crucified You….
should be so much loved by me;
that its pleasures should be so fascinating; and its pursuits so engrossing.
Wean me from it.
Break its alluring spell.
Strip it of its counterfeit charms.
Discover to me….
its hollowness;
the treachery of its promises;
the precariousness of its best blessings;
the fleeting nature of its most enduring friendship.
The world has deceived me, but You never have. Guide me by Your counsel. Savior, let me come up from this wilderness leaning on Your arm; exulting, amid its legion foes, that greater is He who is with me than all those who can be against me.
Bend Your pitying eye upon me, as I travel, burdened with sin and sorrow, through this valley of tears. So “sanctify me through Your truth,” that, though in the world, I may not be conformed to its sinful practices and lying vanities.
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“HOW AM I TO WORSHIP GOD?”
by Horatius Bonar
Man asks, “How am I to worship God?” and he has answered it also in his own way. In the gorgeous temple, in the pillared cathedral, with incense, and
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vestments, and forms, and ceremonies, and processions, and postures, he says.
But these performances are the ‘will worship’ of self- righteousness, not the obedient service of men worshiping God in ways of His own choosing.
Man cannot teach man how to worship God. When he tries it he utterly fails. He distorts worship; he misrepresents God, and he indulges his own sensuous or self-righteous tastes. His “dim religious light” is but a reflection of his own gloomy spirit, and an ignorant misrepresentation of Him “who is light.”
God’s answer to man’s question is given in the Lord’s words, “those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”
The vestments may or may not be lovely; that matters not.
The music may or may not be beautiful.
The knees may or may not be bent.
The hands may or may not be clasped.
The place of worship may or may not be a cathedral, or a consecrated building.
These are immaterial things; mere adjuncts of religion, not its essence.
The true worship is that of the inner man; and all these other exterior things are of little importance.
As it is with love, so it is with worship.
The heart is everything!
God can do without the bended knee, but not without
the broken heart!
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NO CRADLE HOLDS AN INNOCENT ONE!
Henry Law, “Beacons of the Bible” 1869
When evil fills the heart, evil effects will soon appear.
From tainted sources, tainted waters flow.
The tree proclaims the qualities of its root.
When poison permeates the veins, the whole body sickens.
The plague begun, spreads an infecting course.
When Adam fell, the inner man became entirely corrupt. Now, corruption cannot but propagate corruption.
The parent reproduces his own likeness. Hence every child is born in sin.
No cradle holds an innocent one!
Each offspring of the human family steps upon earth…. dead towards God;
corrupt in inward bias;
prone to iniquity.
He brings….
no eye to see God’s will;
no ear to hear His voice;
no feet to climb the heavenly hill.
He is….
an alien from righteousness;
a willing slave of Satan;
blinded in intellect;
a pilgrim towards a lost land;
a vessel fitted for destruction;
a current strongly rushing downwards.
His heart has many tenants; but God is no longer there. The palace once so fair is now overrun with weeds. Like
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Babylon in ruins, wild beasts of the desert lie there, and the houses are full of doleful creatures. Is. 13:21.
Reader, such surely is your birth state!
Has your soul realized the dreadful truth? Do you abhor natural self?
Has the life giving Spirit quickened you with renovating might? Are you a new creation in Christ Jesus? If so, surely you will bless God’s rescuing grace. If otherwise, may this dark picture scare you from delusion’s dream!
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PROCEED WITH YOUR CHISELINGS
Octavius Winslow, “Divine Realities” 1860
“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Rom. 8:28
Why are afflictions for the best? Because they never come, but beneath their raven wings they enfold some hidden blessing. Embosomed in the somber cloud there reposes some covenant mercy.
Repeated afflictions are repeated blessings!
They fall not as lightning on the scathed tree, blasting it yet more; but as the strokes of the sculptor on the marble block, forming it to the image of life and loveliness.
Gash may follow gash, stroke may follow stroke, but it is only to mold and fashion the soul of the child more into the image of its Heavenly Parent.
“If this be so, my Lord, proceed with your chiselings, until your child, molded beneath your hand, becomes more really and more visibly a partaker of your holiness.”
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OH IT IS A SWEET AND HOLY LIFE!
Octavius Winslow, “Divine Realities” 1860 “My times are in Your hand.” Psalm 31:15
Learn to be content with your present lot, with God’s dealings with, and His disposal of, you. You are just where His providence has, in its inscrutable, but all wise and righteous decision, placed you. It may be a painful, irksome, trying position, but it is right. Oh yes! it is right!
Strive, then, to live a life of daily dependence upon God. Oh it is a sweet and holy life! It saves….
from many a desponding feeling,
from many a corroding care,
from many an anxious thought,
from many a sleepless night,
from many a tearful eye, and
from many an imprudent and sinful scheme.
Thus you shall walk with God through this valley of tears, until you exchange….
sorrow for joy,
suffering for ease,
sin for purity, labor for rest, conflict for victory,
and all earth’s chequered, gloomy scenes, for the changeless, cloudless happiness and glory of heaven!
ENGRAVED!
John MacDuff, “The Immutability of Christ” 1874
“Behold! I have engraved you on the palms of My hands!” Isaiah 49:16
“Behold,” says Immutable One, “I have engraved you on the palms of My hands.” Not on the mountains,
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colossal as they are, for they shall depart; on no page of nature’s vast volume, for the last fires shall scorch them; not on blazing sun, for he shall grow dim with age; not on glorious heavens, for they shall be folded together as a scroll. But on….
the hand which made the worlds,
the hand which was transfixed on Calvary, the hand of might and love;
I have engraved you there! No corroding power can efface the writing, or obliterate your name!
You are Mine now, and Mine forever!
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FROM THE FULLNESS OF HIS GRACE
Octavius Winslow, “The Untrodden Path”
“From His fullness we all received grace upon grace.” John 1:16
All wisdom to guide,
all power to uphold,
all love to soothe,
all grace to support,
all tenderness to sympathize, dwells in Christ.
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BUBBLES ON LIFE’S OCEAN
by John MacDuff
What are the hopes of the worldling?
They are transient and illusory; mere bubbles on life’s ocean, sparkling their little moment, then vanishing
forever!
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HOW MANY MORE YEARS WILL I LIVE?
John MacDuff, “Sunsets on the Hebrew Mountains”
“The king said to Barzillai, Come you over with me, and I will sustain you with me in Jerusalem. Barzillai said to the king, How many are the days of the years of my life, that I should go up with the king to Jerusalem?” 2 Samuel 19:33-34
PLEASURE, shaking in her hands her crowns, cries,
“Come over with me!”
MAMMON, clinking his bags of gold, cries, “Come over with me!”
AMBITION, pointing to the hazy mountaintop, and her coveted palace gleaming in the sun, cries, “Come over with me!”
The day will come when these things will yield no pleasure; when they shall be seen in their true light, as the empty baubles of an hour!
Oh, what though you may have all that now caters to the pride of life….
affluence,
prosperity,
success in business, “gaining the whole world;”
are you imperiling or impoverishing your immortal soul?
But Barzillai answered the king, “How many are the days of the years of my life, that I should go up with the king to Jerusalem?” 2 Samuel 19:34
What a solemn question for us all, amid the daily occurring proofs of our frailty and mortality. Oh, what a motto to bear about with us continually amid the wear and tear of life!
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YOUNG MAN! with the flash of young hope in your eye; existence extending in interminable vista before you; pause ever and always on the enchanted highway, and put the solemn question to yourself, “How many more years will I live?”
MAN OF BUSINESS! in availing yourself of new openings in trade, accepting new responsibilities and anxieties, involving yourself in new entanglements, have you stopped at the threshold and probed yourself with the question, “How many more years will I live?”
CHILD OF PLEASURE! plunging into the midst of foolish excitement; the whirl of intoxicating gaiety; have you ever, in returning, jaded, and weary, and worn from the heated ballroom, flung yourself on your pillow, and sunk into a feverish dream, with the question haunting you, “How many more years will I live?”
FRUITLESS PROFESSOR! who, with the mere form of godliness, are yet destitute of every practical active Christian virtue; you who have lived a useless life.
Have you ever seriously pondered the question, “How many more years will I live?”
SIN GRASPS EACH MOTHER’S SON IN ITS VILE ARMS
Henry Law, “Forgiveness of Sins” 1875
Sin is inborn. It is a hereditary disease.
The seeds of every evil are innate in each heart.
Let this monster now be boldly faced….
let its hideous features be narrowly scrutinized; let it be stripped of its deceiving mask;
let the cheating tinsel disappear;
let it be viewed in its naked deformity;
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let its essence and character, and work, and guilt be traced unsparingly.
Sin grasps each mother’s son in its vile arms, and stops not its assaults while time endures.
Sin moves with the mind’s first movement; in the cradle it begins to stir.
Sin grows with man’s growth; it walks beside him in his every path.
Sin adheres as the very skin, and lingers in each dying chamber.
There is no lofty dwelling, and no lowly hut, which sin does not frequent. There is no period of day or night which can repel its step.
Sin is a universal and life long plague!
Let it be repeated, that each natural heart is from the cradle, a hive of sin!
Why is this dark picture thus exhibited?
There is no intent to leave any trembling, dismayed, cast down, fast bound in shackles of despair. The true desire is to show in lovelier form the Gospel’s smile; and to win readier acceptance for the tidings, “But the Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against Him.” Daniel 9:9
Sin’s vile brand is upon all; but to all the Gospel comes, with cheering voice.
A way is opened, in which, without infringement of any holy attribute, He can pardon, restore to favor, and remit sin’s curse. Full, free, complete, everlasting forgiveness has come forth from the courts of heaven!
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This forgiveness of sins is the cornerstone and glory of the Gospel. Gaining validity through Christ’s death, the Gospel….
remits all penalties of the believer, abrogates all demands,
relaxes all bonds,
cancels all debts,
blots out every accusing charge, silences all threats,
blunts every weapon of wrath, extracts the sting of vengeance, averts all miseries,
removes all apprehensions, opens the prison doors, loosens all chains,
closes hell,
makes a straight path to heaven,
and crowns an innumerable multitude with blessings of celestial favor!
SHE HAD BEEN PLUCKED FROM THE BURNING FIRES OF SODOM!
John MacDuff, “Sunsets on the Hebrew Mountains” “But his wife looked back from behind him, and she
became a pillar of salt.” Genesis 19:26 “Remember Lot’s wife!” Luke 17:32
BEWARE OF WORLDLY ENTANGLEMENTS!
How many there are who, like Lot’s wife have apparently set out to the Zoar of safety, yet who linger and perish in the plains of Sodom! They hear the terrors of the law; they are roused by the threat of the coming conflagration.
They think of fleeing; they have actually set out.
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But the world they have left has too many attractions and fascinations! Like Demas, they give the preference to these. They look back to Sodom and perish!
Beware of yielding to temptation!
She had gotten out of reach of the summonings and jeers of her evil companions; she had reached the brow of the hill, and was apparently all safe; she had been rescued from the idolatries of Chaldea, the superstitions of Egypt; she had been plucked from the burning fires of Sodom; and yet she perished notwithstanding!
How sad it is, to see a soul….
that had set out on the way to heaven;
that had escaped the temptations of youth;
that got rid of worldly entanglements;
that got out of Sodom and was on its way to Zoar,
yet perishing with salvation in sight!
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HOW ARE WE TO WALK SAFELY ALONG SUCH A PATH?
Frances Ridley Havergal, “Morning Bells” 1880
“Hold me up, and I shall be safe.” Psalm 119:117 The path is not easy.
There are many rough stones over which we may stumble, if we are not walking very carefully.
There are places which look quite smooth, but they are more dangerous than the rough ones, for they are slippery.
There are little holes, hidden under the flowers, which may catch our feet and give us a bad fall.
There are muddy ditches, into which we may slip and get sadly wet and dirty.
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How are we to walk safely along such a path?
We need a strong, kind hand to hold us up, and to hold us always; a hand that will hold ours tightly and lovingly.
Yes! Christ’s loving hand is able to keep us from falling.
“Don’t you be afraid, for I am with you; don’t be dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you; yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isaiah 41:10
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THE CONSOLATIONS OF CHRIST
John MacDuff, “Sunsets on the Hebrew Mountains”
“Is there no Balm in Gilead? Is there no Physician there?”
Jeremiah 8:22
There is not a wounded bosom on earth for which there is not Balm in Gilead, and a Physician there.
Christ is “the God of all consolation.” He has…. a remedy for every evil;
an antidote for every sorrow;
a cordial for every fainting heart;
a hand of love to wipe every weeping eye;
a heart of tenderness to sympathize with every sorrowful
bosom;
an arm of power to protect;
a rod of love to chasten;
immutable promises to encourage on earth; an unfading crown to bestow in heaven; strength to bestow in the hour of weakness; courage in the hour of danger;
faith in the hour of darkness;
comfort in the hour of sorrow;
victory in the hour of death!
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What are the world’s consolations in comparison to this? Test them in the time when they are needed most, and they will be found to be the first to give way; broken reeds; the sport of every tempest that desolates the heart.
O tempest tossed one, Jesus is your Balm!
The consolations of Christ are those alone which are independent of all times and circumstances; all vicissitudes and changes; which avail alike….
in prosperity and adversity, in joy and sorrow,
in health and sickness,
in life and death.
The drearier the desert, the sweeter and more refreshing are the streams of consolation of which He calls
us to partake.
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WE HAVE NOT PIETY ENOUGH
William Law, “A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life”
Let us not vainly content ourselves with the common disorders of our lives….
the vanity of our expenses, the folly of our diversions, the pride of our habits,
the idleness of our lives, and the wasting of our time,
fancying that these are such imperfections as we fall into through the unavoidable weakness and frailty of our natures.
But let us be assured, that these disorders of our common life are owing to this: we don’t sincerely intend to please God in all the actions of our life.
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So that the fault is not that we desire to be holy, but through the weakness of our nature fall short of it.
But it is because we have not piety enough to intend to be as holy as we can, or to please God in all the actions of our life.
She that spends her time and money in the unreasonable ways and fashions of the world, does not do so because she lacks power to be wise and religious in the management of her time and money; but because she has no intention or desire of being so.
The reason why you see….
no real mortification or self denial, no eminent charity,
no profound humility,
no heavenly affection,
no true contempt of the world,
no Christian meekness,
no sincere zeal,
no eminent piety
in the common lives of Christians, is this, because they do not so much as intend to be exact and exemplary in these
virtues.
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WE DO NOT LIVE THE LIVES OF CHRISTIANS!
William Law, “A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life”
If our common life is not a common course of…. humility,
self-denial,
renunciation of the world,
poverty of spirit,
and heavenly affection,
we do not live the lives of Christians!
But yet though it is thus plain that this, and this alone, is Christianity—a uniform, open, and visible practice of
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all these virtues—yet it is as plain, that there is little or nothing of this to be found, even among the better sort of people.
You see them often at Church, and pleased with fine preachers. But look into their lives, and you see them just the same sort of people as others are, who make no pretenses to devotion. They have….
the same taste of the world,
the same worldly cares, and fears, and joys; the same turn of mind,
equally vain in their desires.
You see…. the same the same the same the same the same the same the same
fondness for state and equipage,
pride and vanity of dress,
self love and indulgence,
foolish friendships, and groundless hatreds, levity of mind, and trifling spirit,
fondness for diversions,
idle dispositions, and vain ways of spending their time,
as the rest of the world, who make no pretenses to
Christianity.
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PUT TO DEATH BY HIS OWN CREATURES!
Spurgeon, “The Great Mystery of Godliness”
The condescension of Christ became most extraordinary when, at last, our Lord stooped to be put to death by His own creatures!
Arraigned before human tribunals, condemned as guilty of the gravest crimes, He is fastened to the accursed wood, and put to a death of deepest shame, and bitterest torture.
What a wondrous sight was the dying Redeemer!
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Jesus comes to save His people from their sins, by taking the sins of His people upon Himself!
This is a mystery surpassing all comprehension!
O you whose loving eyes have looked upon the en- sanguined rills which gush from the wounds of your bleeding Lord, and have delighted to behold the Lily of the valleys reddened into the Rose of Sharon with the crimson of His own blood; behold in the writhing form of the Crucified Man at once the vengeance and the love of God.
Behold divine power sustaining the load of human guilt, and divine compassion enduring such agonies for rebels
so ill deserving!
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WHO CAN COUNT THE HIDEOUS SPECTERS?
Henry Law, “Forgiveness of Sins” 1875 “He forgives ALL my sins.” Psalm 103:3
Satan will often strive to bring our sins to remembrance. They readily appear in frightful mass, in vast accumulation.
They swarm in all periods of life….
in childhood’s dawn;
in blooming youth;
in the prime of manhood; and
when the shadows of declining age cast gloom.
Our sins haunt us….
openly committed or allowed in secret,
acted in every condition and relationship of life, at home,
in the family,
abroad,
in solitude,
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in the busy haunts of men,
in the sanctuary,
in the closet,
in prayer uttered or neglected, in ignorance,
in clear intention,
when conscience slumbered,
and when its voice gave warning,
amid misgiving, and in daring audacity, in defiance of convictions,
in disregard of resolves and vows!
Who can count the hideous specters which are ready to revive and terrify the conscience?
But when all sins in all their aggravations threaten, the multitudinous array may be confronted with this relieving word, “He forgives ALL my sins.” Psalm 103:3
Let the emphatic monosyllable “all” be prized.
It is not said some, or few, or many; but “all.”
God so completely pardons, that not one iniquity remains
unpardoned!
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WE ARE NEVER BEYOND THE REACH OF HIS CARE!
J. C. Ryle, “The Gospel of Mark” 1857
“Cheer up! It is I! Don’t be afraid.” Mark 6:50 Mark how our Lord sees the troubles of His believing
people, and in due time will help them.
We read that when “the ship was in the midst of the sea, and He was alone on the land,” He “saw His disciples toiling in rowing,” came to them walking on the sea; cheered them with the gracious words, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid,” and changed the storm into a calm.
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There are thoughts of comfort here for all true believers. Wherever they may be, or whatever their circumstances, the Lord Jesus sees them!
Alone, or in company;
in sickness or in health; by sea or by land;
in perils in the city;
in perils in the wilderness
the same eye which saw the disciples tossed on the lake, is ever looking at us!
We are never beyond the reach of His care!
Our way is never hidden from Him!
He knows the path that we take, and is still able to help. He may not come to our aid at the time we like best, but He will never allow us utterly to fail.
He who walked upon the water never changes!
He will always come at the right time to uphold His people. Though He tarry, let us wait patiently.
Jesus sees us, and will not forsake us.
“Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Mark 6:50
WHAT A DEBT OF LOVE WE OWE HIM
Mary Winslow
How wondrous that we are not lost, and lost forever, living in a world lying in the wicked one! No power short of Omnipotence could preserve us from his malice, or foil his deeply laid schemes for our ruin.
How tenderly is Jesus watching over us!
His sleepless eye of love ever upon us.
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He is a Friend to guide us through the wilderness, encircled, as we are, by a host of beasts of prey.
What a debt of love we owe Him who, seeing our danger, ran to our rescue, and undertook our eternal salvation!
THE NOBLEST ECCLESIASTICAL EDIFICE
J. C. Ryle, “The Gospel of Mark” 1857
“And as He went out of the temple, one of Hs disciples said unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! And Jesus answering said unto him, See these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” Mark 13:1-2
We are naturally inclined to judge things by the outward appearance, like children who value flowers more than grain. We are too apt to suppose that where there is….
a stately ecclesiastical building; and a magnificent ceremonial; and carved stone;
and painted glass;
and fine music;
and gorgeously dressed ministers, that there must be some real religion.
And yet there may be no true religion at all.
It may be all form, and show, and appeal to the senses!
The ministers may perhaps be utterly ignorant of the Gospel, and the worshipers may be dead in trespasses and sins. We need not doubt that God sees no beauty in such a building as this. We need not doubt the Parthenon had no glory in God’s sight compared to the dens and caves where the early Christians worshiped; or that the lowest room where Christ is preached at this day, is
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more honorable in His eyes than St. Peter’s Cathedral at Rome.
Let it be a settled principle in our religion, however beautiful we make our churches, to regard pure doctrine and holy practice as their principal ornaments. Without these two things, the noblest ecclesiastical edifice is radically defective. It has no glory if God is not there.
With these two things, the humblest brick cottage where the Gospel is preached, is lovely and beautiful.
It is consecrated by Christ’s own presence and the Holy
Spirit’s own blessing.
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A GREAT HOSPITAL
J. C. Ryle, “The Gospel of Mark” 1857
“Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble
because of Me tonight.” Mark 14:27
We see in this verse, how well our Lord foreknew the weakness and infirmity of His disciples. He tells them plainly what they were going to do.
“All of you shall desert Me.”
Let us take comfort in the thought that the Lord Jesus does not cast off His believing people because of failures and imperfections.
He knows what they are.
He takes them, as the husband takes the wife, with all their blemishes and defects, and, once joined to Him by faith, will never leave them. He is a merciful and compassionate High priest. It is His glory to pass over the transgressions of His people, and to cover their many sins.
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He knew what they were before conversion—wicked, guilty, and defiled—yet He loved them.
He knows what they will be after conversion—weak, erring, and frail—yet He loves them.
He has undertaken to save them, notwithstanding all their shortcomings. And what He has undertaken He will perform.
Let us learn to pass a charitable judgment on the conduct of professing believers. Let us not set them down in a low place, and say they have no grace, because we see in them much weakness and corruption. Let us remember that our Master in heaven bears with their infirmities, and let us try to bear with them too.
The Church of Christ is little better than a great hospital. We ourselves are all, more or less, weak, and all daily need the skillful treatment of the heavenly Physician. There will be no ‘complete cures’ until the resurrection day.
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IN THAT REGION OF UNSULLIED HAPPINESS
Thomas Reade, “Christian Experience”
The Good Shepherd guides His flock in safety to the fold above. He alone can strengthen us for the trials of the way. He alone can support us under the last conflict with sin and death.
The stream through which we shall have to pass may be tempestuous, but its waves shall not be allowed to overwhelm us. Jesus will carry us in His bosom, and, through His faithfulness and love, will safely land us on the heavenly shore.
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No eye has seen, nor ear has heard, no heart has conceived, the glory which shall be revealed in us, as the ransomed of the Lord.
We shall be heirs of God! We shall posses Him as our portion, who is the possessor of heaven and earth!
We shall be joint heirs with Christ!
Though now compassed about with infirmities, we shall then be like the sun in his strength!
Though now allied to the dust, we shall then be made kings and priests unto God!
We shall sit with Christ upon His throne, and forever drink the living waters of purity and joy!
Our toils will there be exchanged for rest.
In that region of unsullied happiness… Satan cannot reach us;
wicked men cannot harm us; grief cannot distress us;
sin cannot defile us.
The day will forever shed its brightness over us, for the Lamb will be our everlasting light, and our God our glory.
We shall then be made like unto Jesus, and shall follow Him, as the trophies of His victory, wherever He goes.
O! transporting thought, to be made like unto Jesus!
This will form the most blessed ingredient in the happiness of heaven. The glorious image of Christ will never be defaced, but the beautiful lines of the new creature will forever shine in the perfection of beauty, to the praise of redeeming love.
Here on earth, we are struggling with imperfection, infirmity, and sin. But there, the happy spirit,
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disengaged from every weight, will ascend, with lightsome wing, to the bosom of its God and Savior!
When we come into that happy world above, to be clothed in the white attire of innocence, it will be impossible for one evil thought to slide into our minds.
In that region of perfection there will be… perfect light in our understandings; perfect rectitude in our wills;
perfect purity in our affections.
In heaven, we shall enjoy eternal communion with God. He will reveal Himself in all the splendor of His glory, in all the fullness of His love.
There, with fullness of grace in our hearts, with diadems of glory on our heads, and with the high praises of God upon our tongues, we shall surround His throne, and shall reign with Him forever and ever!
Thus our bliss will be perpetual; it will be an Eternal Joy! “Salvation to our God, who sits upon the throne, and to
the Lamb!”
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THREE RULES FOR A HAPPY MARRIAGE
J. C. Ryle, “The Gospel of Mark” 1857
Of all relationships of life, none ought to be regarded with such reverence, and none taken in hand so cautiously as the relationship of husband and wife.
In no relationship is so much earthly happiness to be found, if it be entered upon discreetly, advisedly, and in the fear of God. In none is so much misery seen to follow, if it be taken in hand unadvisedly, lightly, wantonly, and without thought.
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if people marry “in the Lord.” From none does the soul take so much harm, if fancy, passion, or any mere worldly motive is the only cause which produce the union.
There is, unhappily, only too much necessity for impressing these truths upon people. It is a mournful fact, that few steps in life are generally taken with so much levity, self-will, and forgetfulness of God as marriage. Few are the young couples who think of inviting Christ to their wedding!
It is a mournful fact that unhappy marriages are one great cause of the misery and sorrow of which there is so much in the world. People find out too late that they have made a mistake, and go in bitterness all their days.
Happy are they, who in the matter of marriage observe three rules—The first is to marry only in the Lord, and after prayer for God’s approval and blessing. The second is not to expect too much from their partners, and to remember that marriage is, after all, the union of two sinners, and not of two angels. The third rule is to strive first and foremost for one another’s sanctification. The more holy married people are, the happier they are.
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A COMMON, OLD, SUBTLE, AND MOST SOUL RUINING SIN
J. C. Ryle, “The Gospel of Mark” 1857
“They had disputed among themselves, who should be the
greatest.” Mark 9:34
It is a dreadful fact that pride is one of the commonest sins
which beset human nature. We are all born Pharisees.
We all naturally think far better of ourselves than we ought. We all naturally imagine that we deserve
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something better than we have.
Pride is an old sin. It began in the garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve thought they did not have everything that their merits deserved.
Pride is a subtle sin. It rules and reigns in many a heart without being detected, and can even wear the garb of humility.
Pride is a most soul ruining sin. It prevents repentance; keeps men back from Christ; checks brotherly love; and nips in the bud spiritual desires.
Let us watch against it, and be on our guard.
Of all garments, none is so graceful, none wears so well, and none is so rare, as true humility.
THE TRAINING AND EDUCATION OF CHILDREN
J. C. Ryle, “The Gospel of Mark” 1857
“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” Mark 7:21-23
The heart is the chief source of defilement and impurity in God’s sight. Our original sinfulness and natural inclination to evil are seldom sufficiently considered.
The wickedness of people is often attributed to…. bad examples,
bad company,
peculiar temptations, or
the snares of the devil.
It seems forgotten that everyone carries within him a fountain of wickedness.
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We need no bad company to teach us, and no devil to tempt us, in order to run into sin. We have within us the beginning of every sin under heaven.
We ought to remember this in the training and education of children. In all our management we must never forget, that the seeds of all mischief and wickedness are in their hearts.
It is not enough to keep boys and girls at home, and shut out every outward temptation. They carry within them a heart ready for any sin, and until that heart is changed they are not ‘safe,’ whatever we do.
When children do wrong, it is a common practice to lay all the blame on bad companions. But it is mere ignorance, blindness, and foolishness to do so. Bad companions are a great evil no doubt, and an evil to be avoided as much as possible. But no bad companion teaches a boy or girl half as much sin as their own hearts will suggest to them.
The beginning of all wickedness is within!
If parents were half as diligent in praying for their children’s conversion as they are in keeping them from bad company, their children would turn out far better than they do.
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THE WORKINGS OF GRACE IN THE HEART
by J. C. Ryle
“The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear its sound, but don’t know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8
The workings of grace in the heart are utterly mysterious and unsearchable.
We cannot explain why the Word produces effects on one person in a congregation, and not upon another.
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We cannot explain why, in some cases, with every possible advantage, and in spite of every entreaty; people reject the Word, and continue dead in trespasses and sins.
We cannot explain why in other cases, with every possible difficulty, and with no encouragement, people are born again, and become decided Christians.
We cannot define the manner in which the Spirit of God conveys life to a soul, and the exact process by which a believer receives a new nature.
All these are hidden things to us.
We see certain results, but we can go no further.
This is deeply instructive. It is humbling no doubt to ministers, and teachers of others.
The highest abilities, the most powerful preaching, the most diligent working, cannot command success.
God alone can give spiritual life.
But it is a truth at the same time, which supplies an admirable antidote to excessive anxiety and despondency. Our principal work is to sow the seed. That done, we may wait with faith and patience for the result. We may leave our work with the Lord.
He alone can, if He thinks fit, give success.
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SAINTS?
Henry Law, “Family Devotion” 1884 “To the saints in Ephesus.” Ephesians 1:1
The word ‘saints’ imports people who are set apart and consecrated to the service and glory of God.
They are no more of the world.
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They reject its hollow and selfish principles. They scorn its debasing maxims.
They turn from its ungodly ways.
They despise its vain pursuits.
They rise high above its miscalled pleasures.
Their one desire is increasing conformity to the will and image of God.
They no longer live unto themselves, but unto Him who loved them and gave Himself for them.
WHY WAS HIS SOUL TROUBLED?
Octavius Winslow, “Consider Jesus” 1870
“My soul exceedingly sorrowful, even to death.” Mark 14:34
In this lay our Lord’s greatest suffering—His soul sorrow. Compared with this….
the lingering, excruciating tortures of the cross, the extended limbs,
the quivering nerves,
the bleeding wounds,
the burning thirst; were, as nothing.
So long as our blessed Lord endured the gibes and insults and calumnies of mere men, not a complaint escaped His lips.
But, when the wrath of God, endured as the Substitute of His people, entered within His holy soul, then the wail of agony rose strong and piercing, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
Why was His soul troubled?
He was now bearing sin and, consequently, the punish- ment of sin; the wrath of God overwhelming His soul. Divine justice, finding the sins of God’s elect meeting
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on His holy soul, exacted full payment and inflicted the
utmost penalty!
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THE DEEP INGREDIENT OF THE WICKED HEART
Henry Law, “Psalms”
“The wicked, in the pride of his face, has no room in his
thoughts for God.” Psalm 10:4
The Spirit proceeds to draw a full blown portrait of sin.
The mask is withdrawn.
The monster is dragged forth to light.
The hideous features are revealed.
The Spirit’s pen cannot exaggerate.
The dark colors are not too dark.
The deep ingredient of the wicked heart is pride.
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HE SEES YOU, HAGGARD, HUNGER STRICKEN
John MacDuff, “Clefts of the Rock” 1874
“He arose, and came to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” Luke 15:20
Reader, you may have reached the momentous time in your spiritual history, when conscience has awoke with quickened sensibility; when forgotten sins are brought before you in vivid memorial; the obligations of a misspent life flashing upon you the reality of a hopeless bankruptcy. And you feel how utterly vain is the plea with which you have long sought to delude yourself, “Have patience with me, and I will pay You all.”
You may feel that in yourself, you are the most worthless and abandoned of prodigals; that you have righteously
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forfeited a place within the Father’s eternal halls! But, He is waiting your return. He sees you, haggard, hunger stricken; sick at heart. He watches the first indications of penitential sorrow.
While yet “a great way off,” He is ready with the fond embrace and the kindly welcome.
Wondrous tenderness, surely, do these His own words describe, in that surpassingly touching parable, “He arose, and came to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.”
What!
The riotous living!
The spendthrift life!
The debasing companionship! All forgotten?
Yes! by that one kiss of forgiveness, all is buried in everlasting oblivion!
With another it may be the burden of declension and backsliding; the guilt of apostasy from a first love; the decay of the inner life. Permitted sin and allowed worldliness have brought on spiritual languor and lethargy. You are not what once you were….
you have lost tenderness of conviction;
you have blunted the fine edge of conscience; the old ardor in the divine race is gone!
You have allowed the tooth of earthly cares to corrode; and petty vexations and annoyances to eat out the kernel of religion. “The little foxes” have entered unchallenged the soul’s vineyard and spoiled the grapes!
None more bruised and broken than you!
The candle, once burning clear, gives forth now nothing but noxious smoke; polluting and poisoning the
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atmosphere of your spiritual being! Do not despond!
The forgiving love and tenderness of Christ can meet your case! Burdened one, He your Shepherd is willing gently to lead you also. He will rekindle these smouldering ashes of a dying love. He will “strengthen the things which remain that are ready to die.”
“Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, you backsliding Israel, says the Lord; I will not look in anger on you; for I am merciful, says the Lord, I will not keep anger forever. Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against the Lord your God, and have scattered your ways to the strangers under every green tree, and you have not obeyed my voice, says the Lord.” Jeremiah 3:12-13
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WEARY AND FOOTSORE, PANTING, AND BURDENED
John MacDuff, “The Tenderness of Jesus” 1874
“I am humble and lowly in heart.” Matthew 11:29
These are not the virtues which the world values. Some of the self laudations of the world are….
I am great!
I am rich!
I am courageous! I am cultured!
I am learned!
The old Pagan qualities eulogized were bravery, manliness, heroism, and the like. Humility, meekness and gentleness were unknown in their calendar of virtues.
“He had no curses,” says an eloquent divine, “for His foes; no blows for His enemies. Such was His gentle- ness, that when He might have shaken the earth and
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rocked the thrones of tyrants, and made every idol god totter from its blood stained throne, He put forth no such physical power, but still stood with melting heart and tearful eyes, inviting sinners to come to Him; using no lash but His love; no weapon of war but His grace.”
As we watch the crowds of helpless and diseased, sick and fevered, orphaned, friendless, and dying, who thronged the way wherever He went, we see how the tenderness of His words was endorsed and countersigned by His equally tender deeds.
In the climax of His own humiliation, when nailed to the cross of Calvary, how tenderly does He commit His dearest earthly relative to the keeping of His dearest human friend!
How tenderly in the extremity of anguish and soul desertion, does He speak words of heart cheer to the dying thief at His side!
How tenderly does He plead for those who had entwined the ‘thorn crown’ around His bleeding brow, and driven the rough iron into those hands which had never been employed except to cure; never uplifted except to bless!
Reader, do you know this tenderness of Jesus?
Amid the rough blasts of life, have you taken shelter in the gentleness of Him whose love is better, truer, more enduring, than that of the kindest and most loving of earthly friends?
Have you learned to sing amid the moanings of the storm,
“Jesus, Refuge of my soul,
Let me to Your bosom fly; When the waters o’er me roll, While the tempest still is high”?
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Do you know what it is, as one of the sheep of His pasture, when weary and footsore, panting, and burdened; to run to this infinitely gracious Shepherd, who delights to carry the lambs in His arms and gently to lead His burdened ones?
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THERE IS BUT ONE, ABIDING, UNCHANGING SYMPATHIZER!
John MacDuff, “The Sympathy of Jesus” 1874
“For we don’t have a high priest who can’t be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but one who has been in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15
How varied were the methods by which Jesus, when on earth, expressed His sympathetic love and thoughtful compassion! He was the world’s good Samaritan, binding up the wounds of aching humanity!
The sympathy of Christ is a comprehensive and particular sympathy; embracing not only all His Church, but every individual member of it.
It takes in the whole range of…. human infirmities,
outward troubles,
inward perplexities,
and unspoken griefs,
with which a stranger dare not meddle.
No trial, no pang, no tear, escapes His eye.
With a microscopic power “He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust,” as if we stood alone in the world, and individually engrossed all His solicitudes.
The world’s sympathy is often short lived. It cannot penetrate the depths and recesses of the smitten heart. It cannot make allowances for intense grief. It offers its
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tribute of condolence at the moment; but if the heart wounds remain unhealed, it has its own harsh verdict on ‘inordinate sorrow.’
Sorrowful anniversaries come back, but they are all unnoted, except by the bereft one, who has learned to lock up these sacred griefs, and to weep alone.
There is but one, abiding, unchanging Sympathizer!
The Immutable Savior! The moss may gather over the tombstone, and almost obliterate the lettering; but no corroding hand of time or of years,
“Can ever efface us from His heart, Or make His love decay.”
The sympathy of the dearest earthly friend may be evanescent. Brother may be estranged from brother; sister from sister; friend from friend. But “there is a Friend that sticks closer than a brother.” There is but one, abiding, unchanging Sympathizer!
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THIS BAFFLES ALL OUR COMPREHENSION!
John MacDuff, “Clefts of the Rock” 1874
“The Word became flesh, and lived among us.” John 1:14 What a transition!
What a stoop for that Infinite Being who proclaimed Himself the Alpha and the Omega; for “The Ancient of days” to assume the nature and take the form of a cradled infant, sleeping on a virgin mother’s breast!
We have no plumb line to sound the depths of that humiliation. We have no arithmetic by which it can be submitted to any process of calculation.
If we can entertain for a moment the shocking supposition of the loftiest created spirit in heaven
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abjuring his angel nature, and becoming an insect or a worm; we can, in some feeble degree, estimate the descent involved in the transformation.
But, for the Illimitable, Everlasting Jehovah, Himself to become incarnate….
the Creator, to take the nature of the created; the Infinite, to be joined with the finite; Deity, to be linked with dust;
this baffles all our comprehension!
We can only lie in adoring reverence, and exclaim with the apostle, “O the depth!”
“Wonder, O heavens, and be astonished, O earth!”
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I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS
J. C. Ryle, “The Gospel of Matthew” 1856
“Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20
It is impossible to conceive words more…. comforting,
strengthening,
cheering, and
sanctifying than these.
Though left alone, like orphan children in a cold, unkind world, the disciples were not to think they were deserted. Their Master would be ever “with them.” Though commissioned to do a work as hard as that of Moses when sent to Pharaoh, they were not to be dis- couraged. Their Master would certainly be “with them.”
No words could be imagined more consolatory to believers in every age of the world. Let all true Christians lay hold on these words and keep them in mind.
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Christ is “with us” always.
Christ is “with us,” wherever we go.
He came to be “Emmanuel, God with us,” when He first came into the world. He declares that He is ever “Emmanuel, God with us,” when He comes to the end of His earthly ministry and is about to leave the world. He is….
with us daily to pardon and forgive;
with us daily to sanctify and strengthen; with us daily to defend and keep;
with us daily to lead and to guide;
with us in sorrow, and with us in joy; with us in sickness, and with us in health; with us in life, and with us in death;
with us in time, and with us in eternity.
What stronger consolation could believers desire than this? Whatever happens, they at least are never completely friendless and alone. Christ is ever with them. They may look into the grave, and say with David, “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for You are with me.” They may look forward beyond the grave, and say with Paul, “we shall ever be with the Lord.”
We could ask nothing more. None have…. such a King,
such a Priest,
such a constant Companion, and
such an unfailing Friend,
as the true servants of Christ.
He has said it, and He will stand to it, “and surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
“I will never leave you and never forsake you.”
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THE SOVEREIGN GRACE OF GOD!
by Horatius Bonar
Man’s entire apostasy and death in sin, so that he cannot save himself; and God’s entire supremacy, so that He saves whom He will; are doctrines exceedingly distasteful to human pride. But they are Scriptural.
Why was one thief saved and the other lost?
“Even so Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight.”
God was not bound to save the one, and He had power enough to have saved the other, and neither could save himself.
What made the difference?
The Sovereign Grace of God!
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WHEN DISAPPOINTED IN THE CREATURE!
Mary Winslow
Oh how lovely, how good, exceedingly good, is Jesus Christ to unworthy me! He is enough to satisfy my soul.
When disappointed in the creature, and I turn with a sickening feeling from the world to Christ, I find here no disappointment; here is….
fullness of joy,
an ocean of love,
a heart to feel and sympathize, an eye to pity,
and a power, an infinite power….
to supply all my needs,
to comfort my drooping spirits,
to refresh my fainting heart, and
lift me with joy and peace in believing.
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Jesus is an all satisfying portion, and He is my portion, O
my soul.
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some have been led astray from the faith in their greed, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” 1 Timothy 6:10
The love of money is one of the greatest snares to a man’s soul. The history of the Church abounds in illustrations of this truth. For money Joseph was sold by his brethren. For money Samson was betrayed to the Philistines. For money Gehazi deceived Naaman, and lied to Elisha. For money the Son of God was delivered into the hands of wicked men.
Let us all be on our guard against the love of money . The world is full of it in our days.
The plague is abroad.
Thousands who would abhor the idea of worshiping idols, are not ashamed to make an idol of gold. We are all liable to the infection, from the least to the greatest.
We may love money without having it, just as we may have money without loving it.
It is an evil that works very deceitfully.
It carries us captives before we are aware of our chains.
Once let it get the mastery, and it will harden, paralyze, scorch, freeze, blight, and wither our souls. It overthrew an apostle of Christ. Let us take heed that it does not overthrow us.
One leak may sink a ship.
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MONEY
J. C. Ryle, “The Gospel of Matthew” 1856
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One unmortified sin may ruin a soul.
We ought frequently to call to mind the solemn words, “What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and lose his own soul?” “We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” Our daily prayer should be, “Give me neither poverty nor riches. Feed me with the food that is needful for me.”
Our constant aim should be to be rich in grace.
Those who “will be rich” in worldly possessions often
find at last that they have made the worst of bargains.
Like Esau, they have bartered an eternal portion for a little temporary gratification. Like Judas Iscariot, they have sold themselves to everlasting perdition!
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THIS MY FRIEND!
Havergal, “Daily Thoughts for the King’s Children” “The King shall be his friend.” Proverbs 22:11
“You are My friends.” John 15:14
Who has not longed for an ideal and yet a real friend…. one who would exactly understand us,
one whom we could tell everything,
one in whom we could altogether confide,
one who would be very wise and very true,
one of whose love and unfailing interest we could be
certain,
one who would be very near and dear,
one who would be always with us,
one who would be always thinking of us,
one who would be always doing kind and wonderful
things for us;
one who would undertake and manage everything for us; one who would forget nothing,
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one who would fail in nothing;
one who would never change and never die.
Such is our Royal Friend, and more!
We, even we, may look up to our glorious King, and say, “He is altogether lovely. This is my Beloved, this my
Friend!” Song 5:16
THOUSANDS IMAGINE THAT THEY ARE HUMBLE
J. C. Ryle, “The Gospel of Luke” 1858
“There arose also a contention among them, which of them was considered to be greatest.” Luke 22:24
See how firmly pride and love of preeminence can stick to the hearts of Christian men!
The sin before us is a very old one—ambition, self esteem, and self conceit lie deep at the bottom of all men’s hearts, and often in the hearts where they are least suspected.
Thousands imagine that they are humble, who cannot bear to see an equal more honored and favored than themselves!
The quantity of envy and jealousy in the world is a glaring proof of the prevalence of pride.
Let us live on our guard against this sore disease, if we make any profession of serving Christ. The harm that it has done to the Church of Christ is far beyond calculation.
Let us learn to take pleasure in the prosperity of others, and to be content with the lowest place for ourselves.
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IF UNCONVERTED MEN HAD THEIR OWN WAY ENTIRELY
J. C. Ryle, “The Gospel of Luke” 1858
“The men who held Jesus mocked Him and beat Him. Having blindfolded Him, they struck Him on the face…. insulting Him.” Luke 22:63-65
See the shameful treatment that our Lord Jesus underwent at the hands of His enemies.
Conduct like this shows the desperate corruption of human nature. The excesses of savage malice to which unconverted men will sometimes go, and the fierce delight with which they will sometimes trample on the most holy and the most pure, almost justify the strong saying of an old divine, that “man left to himself is half beast and half devil.”
Unconverted men hate God and all who bear anything of God’s image about them.
We have probably a very faint idea of what the world would become, if it were not for the constant restraint that God mercifully puts upon evil. It is not too much to say that if unconverted men had their own way entirely, the earth would soon be little better than a hell.
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HIGH OFFICES IN THE CHURCH
J. C. Ryle, “The Gospel of Luke” 1858
“The chief priests and the scribes sought how they might
put him to death.” Luke 22:2
High offices in the church do not preserve the holders
of them from great blindness and sin.
The first step in putting Christ to death, was taken by the religious teachers of the Jewish nation. The very
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men who ought to have welcomed the Messiah, were the men who conspired to kill Him. The very pastors who ought to have rejoiced at the appearing of the Lamb of God, had the chief hand in slaying Him! These were the very men who crucified the Lord of glory! With all their boasted knowledge, they were far more ignorant than the few Galilean fishermen who followed Christ!
Let us beware of attaching an excessive importance to ministers of religion because of their office.
Ordination and office confer no exemption from error.
The greatest heresies have been sown, and the greatest practical abuses introduced into the church, by ordained men!
We must test all teachers by the unerring rule of the Word of God. It matters little who says a thing in religion. But it matters greatly what it is that is said.
Is it scriptural?
Is it true?
This is the only question.
The lengths to which men may go in religion, and yet be without grace, is far greater than we suppose.
THEY ARE HELPERS TO THE CAUSE OF THE DEVIL
J. C. Ryle, “The Gospel of Luke” 1858
“Take nothing for your journey—neither staffs, nor wallet,
nor bread, nor money; neither have two coats apiece.” Luke 9:3
Jesus charges His apostles, when He sends them forth, to study simplicity of habits, and contentment with such things as they have.
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These instructions contain a lesson for all time. The spirit of these verses is meant to be remembered by all ministers of the Gospel.
The leading idea which the words convey is, a warning against worldliness and luxurious habits.
Well would it be for the world and the Church if the warning had been more carefully heeded!
From no quarter has Christianity received such damage as it has from the hands of its own teachers! On no point have its teachers erred so much, and so often, as in the matter of worldliness and luxury of life.
They have often destroyed, by their daily lives, the whole work of their lips. They have given occasion to the enemies of religion to say, that they love ease, and money, and worldly things, far more than souls.
From such ministers may we pray daily that the Church may be delivered! They are a living stumbling block in the way to heaven. They are helpers to the cause of the devil, and not of God.
The preacher whose affections are set on…. money,
and dress,
and feasting,
and pleasure seeking,
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A SWEET, BEAUTIFUL HOME
J. R. Miller, “Secrets of Happy Home Life” 1894
Home is the true wife’s kingdom.
Very largely does the wife hold in her hands, as a sacred trust, the happiness and the highest good of the hearts
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that nestle there. In the last analysis, home happiness depends on the wife.
Her spirit gives the home its atmosphere. Her hands fashion its beauty.
Her heart makes its love.
And the end is so worthy, so noble, so divine, that no woman who has been called to be a wife, and has listened to the call, should consider any price too great to pay, to be….
the light,
the joy,
the blessing, the inspiration,
of a home.
The woman who makes a sweet, beautiful home, filling it with love and prayer and purity, is doing something better than anything else her hands could find to do beneath the skies.
A true mother is one of the holiest secrets of home happiness. God sends many beautiful things to this world, many noble gifts; but no blessing is richer than that which He bestows in a mother who has learned love’s lessons well, and has realized something of the meaning of her sacred calling.
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HE SITS ON THE CALM THRONE OF ETERNAL SERENITY!
Henry Law, “Christ Is All”
‘Change’ is the defect of things below.
Our brightest morn often ends in storm. Summer’s radiance gives place to winter’s gloom. The smiling flower soon lies withered.
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The babbling brook is soon a parched channel.
The friend who smiled, smiles no more friendly welcomes.
Bereavement weeps where once the family beamed with domestic joy.
Gardens wither into deserts.
Babylons crumble into unsightly ruins.
On all things a sad inscription writes…. fleeting!
transient!
vanishing!
Time flaps a ceaseless wing, and from its wings, decay and death drop down.
But Jesus sits high above all this. He is ‘the same yesterday, and today, and forever.’
Jesus cannot change. He is as constant as He is great. As surely as He ever lives, so surely He ever lives the same.
He sits on the calm throne of eternal serenity!
The LOVE of Jesus is in perpetual bloom. It is always in summertime. The roots are deeply buried in Himself; therefore the branches cannot fade. Believer, drink hourly of this cup of joy.
Christ loved you fully when, in the councils of eternity, He received you into His heart.
He loved you truly when, in the fullness of time, He took upon Himself your curse, and drained your hell- deep dues.
He loved you tenderly when He showed you, by the Spirit, His hands and His feet, and whispered to you that you were His.
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He loves you faithfully while He ceases not to intercede in your behalf, and to scatter blessings on your soul.
He will love you intensely in heaven when you are mani- fested as His precious purchase and crowned as His bride! f
HUSBANDS, LOVE YOUR WIVES!
Miller, “Secrets of Happy Home Life” 1894 “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the
church and gave Himself up for it.” Ephesians 5:25
A husband is to love his wife.
Such love never demands obedience.
It never demands anything; it seeks not to be served, but to serve.
Is love despotic?
Does love put its object in a servant’s place?
No; love serves. It seeks not its own. It desires “not to be served, but to serve.” It does not demand attention, deference, service, subjection.
It seeks rather to serve, to give, to honor.
The measure of the love required by the husband is to be well noted—“just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”
This is a lofty standard.
How did Christ show His love for His Church?
Think of….
His gentleness to His friends,
His patience with them in all their faultiness, His thoughtfulness,
His unwearying kindness.
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Never did a harsh word fall from His lips upon their ears. Never did He do anything to give them pain.
It was not easy for Him at all times to maintain such constancy and such composure and quietness of love toward them; for they were very faulty, and tried Him in a thousand ways. But His affection never wearied nor failed for an instant. Husbands are to love their wives even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself up for it. He loved even to the cost of utmost self sacrifice.
There are men, however, who would do this, whose love would sacrifice even life itself for a wife, but who fail in daily and hourly tenderness. More wives might complain of the lack of love in the little tendernesses.
A true woman’s heart craves gentleness. It is hurt…. by bitter words,
by coldness,
by impatience,
by harsh criticisms,
by neglect,
by the withholding of the expressions of affection.
Love craves its daily bread of tenderness. No husband should deny his wife the little things of affection, the amenities of love, along the busy, trying days; and then think to make amends by putting a flower in her cold hand when she lies in the coffin.
“You placed this flower in her hand, you say,
This pure, pale rose in her hand of clay.
Methinks, could she lift her sealed eyes,
They would meet your own with a grieved surprise. When did you give her a flower before?
Ah, well, what matter, when all is o’er?”
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THE GREAT MASTER SECRET OF ALL HAPPY HOME LIFE!
J. R. Miller, “Secrets of Happy Home Life” 1894
Christ is the great master secret of all happy home life! The spirit of Christ alone will enable us to live together in perfect peace and love. The presence of Christ in the home is a perpetual blessing….
we cannot be selfish,
we cannot wrangle and strive,
we cannot be bitter and unkind,
we cannot be irritable and unreasonable,
when conscious of the presence of Christ.
If only we can make Christ an abiding guest in our home, and if we can keep ourselves aware of His being with us, our household life cannot help but grow wondrously sweet!
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“CHANCE,” “LUCK,” OR “ACCIDENT”
J. C. Ryle, “The Gospel of Luke” 1858
“Aren’t five sparrows sold for two assaria? Not one of them is forgotten by God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore don’t be afraid. You are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 12:6-7
Nothing whatever, whether great or small, can happen to a believer, without God’s ordering and permission.
There is no such thing as “chance,” “luck,” or “accident” in the Christian’s journey through this world. All is arranged and appointed by God.
And all things are “working together” for the believer’s good.
Let us seek to have an abiding sense of God’s hand in all that befalls us. Let us strive to realize that a Father’s
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hand is measuring out our daily portion, and that our steps are ordered by Him.
A daily practical faith of this kind, is one grand secret of happiness, and a mighty antidote against murmuring and discontent. We should try to feel in the day of trial and disappointment, that all is right and all is well done.
We should try to feel on the bed of sickness that there must be a “needs be.” We should say to ourselves, “God could keep away from me these things if He thought fit. But He does not do so, and therefore they must be for my advantage. I will lie still, and bear them patiently. What pleases God shall please me.”
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ALWAYS LOOK UPON UNSAVED PEOPLE
Thomas Brooks,
“Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices” 1652
Always look upon unsaved people under those names and notions that the Scripture sets them out under. The Scripture calls them….
lions for their fierceness,
bears for their cruelty,
dragons for their hideousness, dogs for their filthiness, wolves for their subtleness.
The Scripture styles them scorpions, vipers, thorns, briars, thistles, brambles, stubble, dirt, chaff, dust, dross, smoke, and scum.
By looking upon them under those names and notions that the Scripture sets them out by, you may preserve your soul from frequenting their company and delighting in their society.
You may know well enough what is within them, by the
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apt names that the Holy Spirit has given them.
Guilt or grief is all that gracious souls get by conversing
with wicked men.
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WHAT BEAUTY HAVE WE THAT THE KING CAN DESIRE?
Havergal, “Daily Thoughts for the King’s Children” “So will the King desire your beauty.” Psalm 45:11
Can this be for us? What beauty have we that the King can desire? For the more we have seen of His beauty, the more we have seen of our own utter ugliness.
What, then, can He see?
‘My loveliness which I have put upon you.’ ‘The beauty of the Lord our God upon us.’ ‘He will beautify the meek with salvation.’
And so the desire of the King is set upon us.
Perhaps we have had the dreary idea, ‘Nobody wants me!’ We never need grope in that gloom again, when the King Himself desires us! This desire is love active, love in glow, love going forth, love delighting and longing. It is taking pleasure in His people; delighting in them; willing that they should be with Him where He is; with Him now, with Him always. It is the love that does not and will not endure separation; the love that cannot do without its object.
Now, if we take the King at His word, and really believe that He thus desires us, can we possibly remain cold hearted and indifferent to Him?
Oh, look straight away at His love and His desire!
Think of Jesus actually wanting you, really desiring your love, not satisfied with all the love of all the angels
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unless you love Him too; needing that little drop to fill
His cup of joy!
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AH! WHO CAN GRASP THE THOUGHT!
Thomas Reade, “Christian Experience”
One moment in heaven will convince the believer, that his afflictions upon earth were light. When earth with all its glories shall have passed away, the lowly followers of Jesus will abide forever, and shine as the sun, in the kingdom of their Father!
One moment in hell will convince the pleasure loving sinner, that it would have been good for him if he had never been born!
Ah! who can grasp the thought of never ending joy, or everlasting woe!
The mind labors to conceive, and yet can never reach beyond the first impression of eternity.
Numbers, years, ages, all, all are lost in the immeasurable, unfathomable abyss!
WHOEVER COMPLAINS OF SEASONS AND WEATHER!
William Law, “A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life”
All things are in the hands of God, have Him for their Author, are directed and governed by Him to such ends as are most suitable to His wise providence.
Whoever murmurs at the course of the world, murmurs at God who governs the course of the world.
Whoever complains of seasons and weather, and speaks impatiently of times and events, repines and speaks
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impatiently of God, who is the sole Lord and Governor of times, seasons, and events.
When we look at those things which are under the direction of God, and governed by His providence, we are to receive them with praise and gratitude.
We must adore God in the greatest public calamities, like plagues and famines, as things that are allowed by Him, for ends suitable to His wisdom and glory in the government of the world.
There is nothing more suitable to the piety of a Christian, than thus to approve, admire, and glorify God in all the acts of His general providence; considering the whole world as His particular family, and all events as directed by His wisdom.
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CHOKED BY LIFE’S WORRIES, RICHES AND PLEASURES
J. C. Ryle, “The Gospel of Luke” 1858
“That which fell among the thorns, these are those who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.” Luke 8:14
The things of this life form one of the greatest dangers which beset a Christian’s path.
The money, the pleasures, the daily business of the world, are so many traps to catch souls.
Thousands of things, which in themselves are innocent, become, when followed to excess, little better than soul poisons, and helps to hell.
Open sin is not the only thing that ruins souls!
In the midst of our families, and in the pursuit of our
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lawful callings, we have need to be on our guard. Unless we watch and pray, these temporal things may rob us of heaven, and smother every sermon we hear.
We may live and die thorny ground hearers.
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HEART AFFECTING VIEWS?
Thomas Reade, “Christian Experience”
How difficult it is to get heart affecting views…. of sin,
of Christ,
of hell, and
of heaven.
We talk about them, but alas! how little are we
practically affected by them.
Nothing but the Spirit of Christ can open our eyes to see….
the deformity of sin,
the preciousness of the Savior, the misery of hell,
the bliss of heaven.
WE SHALL ALWAYS FIND HIM AT CHURCH!
J. C. Ryle, “The Gospel of Luke” 1858
“The seed is the word of God. Those by the road are those who hear, then the devil comes, and takes away the word from their heart, that they may not believe and be saved.” Luke 8:11-12
The devil, that malicious spirit, is unwearied in his efforts to do us harm. He is ever watching for our halting, and seeking occasion to destroy our souls.
But nowhere perhaps is the devil so active as in a congregation of Gospel hearers. Nowhere does he labor so hard to stop
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the progress of that which is good, and to prevent men and women being saved.
From him come…. wandering thoughts; roving imaginations; listless minds;
dull memories; sleepy eyes;
fidgety nerves; weary ears; and distracted attention.
In all these things Satan has a great hand.
People wonder where they come from, and marvel how it is that they find sermons so dull, and remember them so badly!
They forget the parable of the sower.
They forget the devil.
Let us take heed that we are not wayside hearers.
Let us beware of the devil.
We shall always find him at Church!
He never stays away from public ordinances.
Let us remember this, and be upon our guard.
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ALL THE MISERIES, VEXATIONS, AND COMPLAINTS
William Law, “A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life”
Pride and envy; and desire for rank, fame, and power; are contrary to Christianity.
These passions are the causes of all the distresses and vexations of human life.
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They are the maladies and fevers of our minds, vexing them with false appetites, and restless cravings after such things as we do not need; and spoiling our taste for those things which are our proper good.
Let but any complaining, disturbed man, tell you the ground of his uneasiness, and you will plainly see that he is the author of his own torment; that he is vexing himself at some imaginary evil, which will cease to torment him as soon as he is content to be that which God requires him to be.
All the miseries, vexations, and complaints, that are in the world are entirely of our own making.
They are directly caused by those absurd passions which Christianity teaches us to deny. For all the things which disturb human life, which make us uneasy to ourselves, quarrelsome with others, and unthankful to God; which weary us in vain labors and foolish anxieties; which carry us from project to project, from place to place, in a futile pursuit of we know not what, are the things are solely infused into us by pride, envy, ambition, and covetousness.
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SLAVES TO THE CUSTOMS AND TEMPER OF THE WORLD
William Law, “A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life”
“If you were of the world, the world would love its own. But because you are not of the world, since I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” John 15:19
“They are not of the world even as I am not of the world.” John 17:14
“We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” 1 John 5:19
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All the ways, and maxims, and tempers of the world, lie in wickedness.
Notwithstanding the clearness and plainness of these Scriptures which thus renounce the world, yet a great part of professing Christians live and die slaves to the customs and temper of the world.
According to the spirit and vogue of this world, whose corrupt air we have all breathed, there are many things that pass for great and honorable, and most desirable, which yet are so far from being so, that the true greatness and honor of our nature consists in the NOT desiring them.
The general temper and spirit of the world, is nothing else but….
pleasure, folly, extravagance, sensuality, self love, pride, covetousness, ambition,
and vainglory.
To abound in wealth,
to have fine houses, and rich clothes,
to be attended with splendor and equipage,
to be beautiful in our persons,
to have titles of dignity,
to be above our fellow creatures,
to command the bows and obeisance of other people, to be looked on with admiration,
to overcome our enemies with power,
to subdue all that oppose us,
to set out ourselves in as much splendor as we can,
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to live highly and magnificently,
to eat, and drink, and delight ourselves in the most
costly manner—
these are the great, the honorable, the desirable things, to which the spirit of the world turns the eyes of all people.
And many a Christian is afraid of not engaging in the pursuit of these things, lest the same world should take him for a fool.
But the history of the Gospel is chiefly the history of
Christ’s conquest over the spirit of the world.
And the number of true Christians is only the number of those who, following the Spirit of Christ, have lived contrary to this spirit of the world.
You must unlearn all those notions which you have been all your life learning from this corrupt spirit of the world. You must stop the power of the world over you, and resolve against a blind obedience to its laws.
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WE REASON OURSELVES INTO ALL KINDS OF FOLLY AND MISERY
William Law, “A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life”
The misery of our condition appears in this, that we use our powers and abilities to the torment and vexation of ourselves, and our fellow creatures.
God Almighty has entrusted us with the use of reason, and we use it to the disorder and corruption of our nature.
We reason ourselves into all kinds of folly and misery, and make our lives the sport of foolish and extravagant passions….
seeking after imaginary happiness in all kinds of shapes;
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creating to ourselves a thousand needs;
amusing our hearts with false hopes and fears; using the world worse than irrational animals; envying, vexing, and tormenting one another with
restless passions, and unreasonable contentions.
Let any man but look back upon his own life, and see what use he has made of his reason….
what foolish passions, what vain thoughts,
what needless labors, what extravagant projects,
have taken up the greatest part of his life!
How foolish he has been in his words and conversation; how seldom he has done well with judgment;
how seldom he has been able to please himself;
how often he has displeased others;
how often he has changed his counsels;
hated what he loved, and loved what he hated;
how often he has been enraged and elated at trifles; pleased and displeased with the very same things— and constantly changing from one vanity to another!
Most people would rather choose to die, than to have….
all their secret follies,
all the errors of their judgments,
all the vanity of their minds,
all the falseness of their pretenses,
the frequency of their vain and disorderly passions, their uneasiness, hatred, envies, and vexations,
made known unto the world.
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WE ARE UPON THE UTMOST HEIGHTS OF HUMAN GREATNESS!
William Law, “A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life”
Prayer is the nearest approach to God, and the highest enjoyment of Him, that we are capable of in this life.
Prayer is….
the noblest exercise of the soul,
the most exalted use of our best faculties, and
the highest imitation of the blessed inhabitants of
Heaven.
When our hearts are full of God, sending up holy desires to the throne of grace, we are then in our highest state.
We are upon the utmost heights of human greatness!
We are not merely before kings and princes, but in the presence and audience of the Lord of all the world, and can be no higher, until death is swallowed up in glory!
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THE DEVIL’S OLD DELUSION!
J. C. Ryle, “The Gospel of Luke” 1858
“He said therefore to the multitudes who went out to be baptized by him, “You offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance. Even now the ax also lies at the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that doesn’t bring forth good fruit is cut down, and thrown into the fire.” Luke 3
We have, in these verses, a specimen of John the Baptist’s ministry. It is a portion of Scripture which should always be specially interesting to a Christian mind.
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We should first mark the holy boldness with which John addresses the multitudes who came to his baptism. He speaks to them as a “brood of vipers!”
He saw the rottenness and hypocrisy of the profession that the crowd around him were making, and uses language descriptive of their case.
His head was not turned by popularity.
He did not care who was offended by his words.
The spiritual disease of those before him was desperate, and of long standing, and he knew that desperate diseases need strong remedies.
Well would it be for the Church of Christ, if it possessed more plain speaking ministers, like John the Baptist, in these latter days.
A morbid dislike to strong language; an excessive fear of giving offence; a constant flinching from directness and plain speaking, are, unhappily, too much the characteristics of the modern Christian pulpit.
Uncharitable language is no doubt always to be deprecated. But there is no charity in flattering unconverted people, by abstaining from any mention of their vices, or in applying smooth epithets to damnable sins!
There are two texts which are too much forgotten by Christian preachers. In one it is written, “Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you.”
In the other it is written, “Obviously, I’m not trying to be a people pleaser! No, I am trying to please God. If I were still trying to please people, I would not be Christ’s servant.” Luke 6:26; Gal. 1:10
We should mark, also, how plainly John speaks to his hearers about HELL and danger!
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He tells them that there is a “wrath to come.”
He speaks of “the ax” of God’s judgments, and of unfruitful trees being “thrown into the fire!”
The subject of HELL is always offensive to human nature. The minister who dwells much upon it, must expect to find himself regarded as….
barbaric,
violent,
unfeeling,
and narrow minded.
Men love to hear “smooth things,” and to be told of peace, and not of danger. Isaiah 30:10
But the subject of hell is one that ought not to be kept back, if we desire to do good to souls.
It is one that our Lord Jesus Christ brought forward frequently in His public teachings. That loving Savior, who spoke so graciously of the way to heaven, has also used the plainest language about the way to hell.
Let us beware of being wise above that which is written, and more charitable than Scripture itself.
Let the language of John the Baptist be deeply engraved in our hearts. Let us never be ashamed to avow our firm belief, that there is a “wrath to come” for the impenitent, and that it is possible for a man to be lost, as well as to be saved.
To be silent on the subject is dreadful treachery to men’s souls. It only encourages them to persevere in wickedness, and fosters in their minds the devil’s old delusion, “You shall not surely die!”
That minister is surely our best friend who tells us honestly of danger, and warns us, like John the Baptist, to “flee from the wrath to come.”
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Never will a man flee until he sees there is real cause to be afraid. Never will he seek heaven until be is convinced that there is risk of his falling into hell.
The religion in which there is no mention of hell, is not the religion of John the Baptist, and of our Lord Jesus,
and His apostles.
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SYMPATHY IN ONE ANOTHER’S JOYS AND SORROWS
J. C. Ryle, “The Gospel of Luke” 1858
“Her neighbors and her relatives heard that the Lord had magnified his mercy towards her; and they rejoiced with her.” Luke 1:58
We see here a striking example of the kindness we owe to one another. It is written that “they rejoiced with her.” How much more happiness there would be in this evil world, if conduct like this was more common!
Sympathy in one another’s joys and sorrows costs little, and yet is a grace of most mighty power.
Like the oil on the wheels of some large engine, it may seem a trifling and unimportant thing; yet in reality it has an immense influence on the comfort and well working of the whole machine of society.
A kind word of congratulation or consolation is seldom forgotten. The heart that is warmed by good tidings, or chilled by affliction, is peculiarly susceptible, and sympathy to such a heart is often more precious than gold.
Sympathy is one of those ornaments of the Christian character which make it beautiful in the eyes of men.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15
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THE HIGHEST GRACE THAT CAN ADORN THE CHRISTIAN CHARACTER
J. C. Ryle, “The Gospel of Luke” 1858
“Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord. My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior, For he has looked at the humble state of his handmaid.” Luke 1:46-48
Mark Mary’s deep humility. She who was chosen of God to the high honor of being Messiah’s mother, speaks of her own “humble state,” and acknowledges her need of a “Savior.”
She does not let fall a word to show that she regarded herself as a sinless, “immaculate” person.
On the contrary, she uses the language of one who has been taught by the grace of God to feel her own sins, and so far from being able to save others, requires a Savior for her own soul. We may safely affirm that none would be more forward to reprove the honor paid by the Romish Church to the Virgin Mary, than the Virgin Mary herself.
Let us copy this holy humility of our Lord’s mother, while we steadfastly refuse to regard her as a mediator, or to pray to her. Like her, let us be lowly in our own eyes, and think little of ourselves.
Humility is the highest grace that can adorn the Christian character. It is a true saying of an old divine, that “a man has just so much Christianity as he has humility.”
Humility is the grace, which of all is most suited to human nature.
Above all, humility is the grace which is within the reach of every converted person.
All are not rich.
All are not learned.
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All are not highly gifted.
All are not preachers.
But all children of God may be clothed with humility.
THE SHEPHERD KNOWS WHAT PASTURES ARE BEST
Hannah Smith, 1875
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside the still waters.” Psalm 23:1-2
The Shepherd knows what pastures are best for His sheep, and they must not question nor doubt, but trustingly follow Him.
Perhaps He sees that the best pastures for some of us are to be found in the midst of opposition or of earthly trials. If He leads you there, you may be sure they are green for you, and you will grow and be made strong by feeding there.
Perhaps He sees that the best waters for you to walk beside, will be raging waves of trouble and sorrow. If this should be the case, He will make them quiet waters for you, and you must go and lie down beside them, and let them have all their blessed influences upon you.
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DO YOU LOVE ME?
J. C. Ryle, “The Gospel of John” 1873 “Simon son of John, do you love Me?” John 21:16
“Do you love Me?” may seem at first sight a simple question. In one sense it is so. Even a child can under- stand love, and can say whether he loves another or not.
Yet “Do you love Me?” is, in reality, a very searching question. We may….
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know much,
and do much,
and profess much,
and talk much,
and work much,
and give much,
and experience much,
and make much show in our religion,
and yet be dead before God, from lack of love, and at last go down to the pit.
Do we love Christ?
That is the great question!
Without this there is no vitality about our Christianity. We are no better than….
painted wax figures,
lifeless stuffed beasts in a museum, sounding brass and tinkling cymbals.
There is no life where there is no love to Jesus. Knowledge,
orthodoxy,
correct views,
regular use of forms,
a respectable moral life—
all these do not make up a true Christian.
THERE IS THE VILEST AND THE MOST UNWORTHY CREATURE THAT HAS EVER ENTERED HEAVEN!
Stephen Tyng, “A Series of Practical Meditations”
What an amount of guilt has He pardoned!
It is impossible to overstate this. No view that I can now take of it ascends to the truth….
my original debasement, my wayward youth,
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my rejection of His love,
my rebellion against His authority,
my forgetfulness of His goodness,
my backslidings from His way,
my inconsistent profession,
my vain and sinful example,
the wickedness of my unconverted state, the errors of my renewed state!
Alas! every day and every act brings up its separate testimony. And all condemn me!
But He has freely pardoned!
He has blotted out this whole fearful record!
He will display it all, that all may see the riches of His grace in my forgiveness. Be it so. I know it is most disgraceful to me. But willingly would I come there and have it said, “There is the vilest and the most unworthy creature that has ever entered Heaven” so that Christ shall have all the glory of my forgiveness!
My sin has fearfully abounded. But His grace has so much the more abounded, and the glory is His!
LORD, I AM A POOR, BLIND CHILD
Octavius Winslow, “Daily Need Divinely Supplied”
“He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” Isaiah 40:11
Jesus leads those who are burdened, and need a skillful, sure, and gentle shepherd.
Our journey to heaven is across a waste, howling wilder- ness, through an enemy’s country, all armed and combined to resist, dispute, and oppose our every step.
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It is a road, also, all untraveled and unknown. Over the entrance of every new path is written, “You have not passed this way before.” A new bend in our life transpires, a new path in our pilgrimage is presented, involving new duties and responsibilities, new cares and trials. And with fear and trembling we gird ourselves for the new cloud-veiled pilgrimage which God in His goodness has appointed us.
But why these doubts, these tremblings, these fears? Jesus is our Leader! He knows all the way we take, has mapped every road, and has appointed every path.
As a Teacher, He leads us into all truth;
as a Captain, He leads us from victory to victory; as a Shepherd, He leads us into green pastures; as a Guide, He leads us along our difficult path,
skillfully, gently, and safely.
And HOW does Jesus lead us? He leads us graciously.
He leads us along all the stages, and through all the exercises of our Christian experience, leaving us not when our frames are low, and our faith is assailed, and darkness, often thick darkness, covers our soul.
Who could skillfully, patiently, and faithfully lead us along all the mazes, intricacies, and perils of our Christian course safely to glory, but Christ our leader?
Commit yourself, O my soul, confidently to the Lord’s leading. The way may appear all wrong to you, but it is the right way.
Mystery may enshroud it,
trials may pave it,
sorrows may darken it,
tears may bedew it,
nevertheless He is leading you by the right way home.
“And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; –258–

I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.” Isaiah 42:16
“Lord, I am a poor, blind child, not knowing my way; and when I do see it, I am often so burdened that I cannot walk. Take me by the hand, and gently, skillfully lead me until traveling days are over, and I am at home with You forever. You have promised gently to lead the burdened and feeble who cannot keep up with the flock. Lord, lead ME!”
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THE SEARCHING, BURNING, PURIFYING FIRES OF CHRIST’S FURNACE!
Octavius Winslow, “Daily Need Divinely Supplied” 1870
“And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver.” Malachi 3:3
O my soul, what deep need is there for this refining and purifying of your Lord….
what inward corruption, what carnality,
what worldliness,
what self-seeking,
what creature idolatry,
what God-dishonoring unbelief!
All imperatively demand the searching, burning, purifying fires of Christ’s furnace!
Jesus is the Refiner and Purifier of His Church.
It is a consolatory thought that our refining is in the hands of Jesus; in the hands that were pierced for us on the cross.
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My soul! your Refiner and Purifier is Jesus! Jesus shapes all your trials!
Jesus sends all your afflictions!
Jesus mixes all your sorrows!
Jesus shapes and balances all the clouds of your pilgrimage!
Jesus prepares and heats the furnace that refines you as silver and purifies you as gold!
Then, O my soul, tremble not…. at the knife that wounds you, at the flame that scorches you, at the cloud that shades you,
at the billows that surge above you;
Jesus is in it all, and you are as safe as though you had reached the blissful climate where….
the vine needs no pruning,
and the ore no purifying,
where the sky is never darkened,
and upon whose golden sands where no storms of
adversity ever blow, or waves of sorrow ever break.
Mark the Refiner’s position. “He will SIT as a refiner and purifier of silver.” It would be fatal to his purpose, if the human refiner were to leave his post while the liquid mass was seething in the cauldron. But there he patiently sits, watching and tempering the flame, and removing the refuse and the dross as it floats upon the surface of the molten ore.
Just so, Christ sits as a Refiner….
and with an eye that never slumbers, and with a patience that never wearies, and with a love that never chills,
and with a faithfulness that never falters,
watches and controls the process that…. purifies our hearts,
burnishes our graces,
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sanctifies our nature, and
impresses more vividly His own image of loveliness
upon our soul.
If He places you in the fire, He will bring you through the fire, “that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”
But sweet and soothing is the truth that the believer is not alone in the fire! The Refiner is with us, as with the three Hebrew children passing through the king’s burning furnace.
The Lord will have us polished stones; and as some believers are more rusty and some more alloyed than others, they need a rougher file, and a hotter furnace!
This may account for the great severity of trial through which some of the Lord’s precious jewels are called to pass. Not less dear to His heart are they for this refining.
Look up, my soul, to your Refiner!
Be still, humble, submissive.
The knife is in a Father’s hand!
The flame is under a Savior’s control!
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ALL, ALL IS OURS!
Octavius Winslow, “Daily Need Divinely Supplied” 1870 “The Lord is my portion, says my soul; therefore I will
hope in Him.” Lamentations 3:24
It is our great privilege, beloved, that we live in a ‘portionless’ world. When God parceled out the land of Canaan among the tribes of Israel, He made an exception in the tribe of Levi, to whom He said, “You
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shall have no inheritance in the land, neither shall you have any part among them;” assigning as His reason, “I am your share and your inheritance.”
The gospel teaching of this is obvious and significant.
As the Lord’s true priesthood, this world is not our portion, nor earth our rest. It may have required some painful discipline, and no small measure of faith, on the part of the devout Levite, as he gazed upon the fertile meadows, the watered plains, and the vine clad hills of the Promised Land, before he was made willing to relinquish it all for Him who is invisible.
It needs no little teaching and discipline of our God, and no little faith on our part, before we are led to give up….
the world, the creature, self,
and all,
for Christ; satisfied to have the Lord alone as our Portion, and heaven only as our inheritance.
“The Lord is my portion, says my soul.” His love to us was so great, that when He could give no greater proof of that love, He gave HIMSELF!
Nothing more could have expressed the yearnings of His heart, nothing less could have satisfied the desires of ours.
And oh, what a Portion is God!
All that He is, and all that He has is ours…. every attribute of His being is over us, every perfection of His nature encircles us, every pulse of His heart beats for us,
every glance of His eye smiles upon us. We dwell in God, and God dwells in us.
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It is not the world which is our portion, but HE who made, upholds and governs the world.
It is not the creature who is our portion, but the Lord of angels and the Creator of men.
Infinite portion! Illimitable power! Immeasurable grace! Boundless love!
All satisfying good!
All, all is ours!
And what a Portion, O my soul, is Christ…. a divine Christ,
a redeeming Christ,
a full Christ,
a sympathizing Christ, an ever present Christ, an ever precious Christ, an ever loving Christ!
“Lord, I bless You for the discipline that brought me to realize what a divine, all satisfying Portion I have in Yourself. You took from me an earthly portion, only to enrich me with a Heavenly one.
You removed from me the human prop upon which I too fondly and idolatrously leaned, that I might learn what Christ was, as my soul’s all sufficient, all satisfying, and everlasting Portion. I can now admire the wisdom, and adore the love, that blasted my gourds and emptied me from vessel to vessel; that, rising superior to the broken staff, the drooping flower, and the failing spring of creature good, I might claim my portion as a true spiritual Levite in Yourself alone.”
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WHAT STUPID BLOCKHEADS!
Joseph Philpot, “Daily Portions”
“So Jesus said, ‘Do you also still not understand?’” Matthew 15:16
What lessons we need day by day to teach us anything aright, and how it is for the most part “line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.” O….
what slow learners!
what dull, forgetful scholars! what ignoramuses!
what stupid blockheads!
what stubborn pupils!
Surely no scholar at a school, old or young, could learn so little of natural things as we seem to have learned of spiritual things after….
so many years instruction,
so many chapters read,
so many sermons heard,
so many prayers put up,
so much talking about religion.
How small, how weak is the amount of growth com- pared with all we have read and heard and talked about!
But it is a mercy that the Lord saves whom He will save, and that we are saved by free grace, and free grace alone.
TAKE ME AS I AM WITH ALL MY SIN AND SHAME
Joseph Philpot, “Daily Portions”
“Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I
shall be saved.” Jeremiah 17:14 Here is this sin! Save me from it!
Here is this snare! Break it to pieces! –264–
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Here is this lust! Lord, subdue it!
Here is this temptation! Deliver me out of it! Here is my proud heart! Lord, humble it!
Here is my unbelieving heart! Take it away, and give me faith; give me submission to Your mind and will. Take me as I am with all my sin and shame and work in me everything well-pleasing in Your sight.
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NOTHING BUT A HUGE CLOD OF DUST
Joseph Philpot, “Daily Portions”
“Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the
things that are on the earth.” Colossians 3:2 Everything upon earth, as viewed by the eyes of the
Majesty of heaven, is base and paltry.
Earth is after all, nothing but a huge clod of dust, and as such, as insignificant in the eyes of its Maker as the small dust of the balance, or the drop of the bucket.
What, then, are….
its highest objects,
its loftiest aims,
its grandest pursuits,
its noblest employments,
in the sight of Him who inhabits eternity; but base and worthless?
Vanity is stamped on all earth’s attainments. All earthly pursuits and high accomplishments….
wealth, rank, learning, power, or pleasure,
end in death!
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The breath of God’s displeasure soon lays low in the grave all that is rich and mighty, high and proud.
But that effectual work of grace on the heart, whereby the chosen vessels of mercy are delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son, calls them out of….
those low, groveling pursuits, those earthly toys,
those base and sensual lusts,
in which other men seek at once their happiness and
their ruin.
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HOW CAN THEY ESCAPE?
Joseph Philpot, “Daily Portions”
“He will keep the feet of His holy ones.” 1 Samuel 2:9
The Lord sees His poor scattered pilgrims traveling through a valley of tears, journeying through a waste howling wilderness, a path beset with baits, traps, and snares in every direction.
How can they escape? Why, the Lord ‘keeps their feet.’ He carries them through every rough place, as a tender parent carries a little child. When about to fall, He graciously lays His everlasting arms underneath them. And when tottering and stumbling, and their feet ready to slip, He mercifully upholds them from falling altogether.
But do you think that He has not different ways for different feet? The God of creation has not made two flowers, nor two leaves upon a tree alike; and will He cause all his people to walk in precisely the same path? No. We have….
each our path, each our troubles,
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each our trials,
each peculiar traps and snares laid for our feet.
And the wisdom of the all wise God is shown by His eyes being in every place; marking the footsteps of every pilgrim; suiting His remedies to meet their individual case and necessity; appearing for them when nobody else could do them any good; watching so tenderly over them, as though the eyes of His affection were bent on one individual; and carefully noting the goings of each, as though all the powers of the Godhead were concentrated on that one person to keep him from harm!
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THE TRUE SPIRITUAL ATLAS
John MacDuff, “Memories of Olivet” 1870
“You shall make His soul an offering for sin.” Isaiah 53:10
“Now is My soul troubled.” John 12:27
Mark, it is SOUL SUFFERING that is the burden of Jesus’ anguish. “Now is my soul troubled.” “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death.”
That ‘cup’ was filled to the brim with curses. His holy soul was like a vast reservoir, into which the transgressions of every elect child of Adam rushed from every age, demanding satisfaction.
He was “filled with horror and deep distress” at the fearful havoc sin had wrought, and at its dreadful penalty, which He was now bearing.
The wrath of God; the terrible manifestation of His displeasure at iniquity; was upon Jesus.
He was the true spiritual Atlas, bearing on His shoulders the sins of a guilty world!
–267–

Jesus’ sufferings were not calamities; they were punishment judicially inflicted. There was an eternity of woe was condensed into them!
Christ was the Sin Bearer, bearing not merely the punishment of sin, but sin itself.
As we see drop by drop crimsoning the sods of Gethsemane, we may well exclaim, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was on Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
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GOD WILL MEET ALL YOUR NEEDS
Joseph Philpot, “A Supply for Every Need” 1843 “My God will supply every need of yours according to His
riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 Until we are brought into the depths of poverty, we
shall never know nor value Christ’s riches.
If, then, you are a child of God, a poor and needy soul, a tempted and tried believer in Christ, “God will meet all your needs.”
They may be very great.
It may seem to you, sometimes, as though there were not upon all the face of the earth such a wretch as you, as though there never could be a child of God in your state….
so dark,
so stupid,
so blind and ignorant,
so proud and worldly,
so presumptuous and hypocritical, so continually backsliding after idols,
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so continually doing things that you know are hateful in God’s sight.
But whatever your need be, it is not beyond the reach of divine supply! And the deeper your need, the more is Jesus glorified in supplying it.
Do not say then, that….
your case is too bad,
your needs are too many,
your perplexities too great, your temptations too powerful.
No case can be too bad.
No temptations can be too powerful. No sin can be too black.
No perplexity can be too hard.
No state in which the soul can get, is beyond the reach of the almighty and compassionate love, that burns in the breast of the Redeemer!
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THAT SYMPATHIZING, MERCIFUL, FEELING, TENDER, AND COMPASSIONATE HEART
J. C. Philpot, “A Compassionate High Priest” 1847 “For we don’t have a high priest who can’t be touched with
the feeling of our infirmities.” Hebrews 4:15
The child of God, spiritually taught and convinced, is deeply sensible of his infirmities. Yes, that he is encompassed with infirmities, that he is nothing else but infirmities. And therefore the great High Priest to whom he comes as a burdened sinner, to whom he has recourse in the depth of his extremity, and at whose feet he falls overwhelmed with a sense of his helpless- ness, sin, misery, and guilt; is so suitable to him as one able to sympathize with his infirmities.
–269–

We would, if left to our own conceptions, naturally imagine that Jesus is too holy to look down in compassion on a filthy, guilty wretch like ourselves.
Surely, surely, He will spurn us from His feet.
Surely, surely, His holy eyes cannot look upon us in our
blood, guilt, filth, wretchedness, misery, and shame. Surely, surely, He cannot bestow….
one heart’s thought,
one moment’s sympathy, or feel one spark of love
towards those who are so unlike Him.
Nature, sense, and reason would thus argue, “I must be holy, perfectly holy, for Jesus to love; I must be pure, perfectly pure, spotless and sinless, for Jesus to think of. But….
that I, a sinful, guilty, defiled wretch;
that I, encompassed with infirmities;
that I, whose heart is a cage of unclean birds;
that I, stained and polluted with a thousand iniquities;
that I can have any inheritance in Him, or that He can have any love or compassion towards me; nature, sense, reason, and human religion in all its shapes and forms, revolts from the idea.”
It is as though Jesus specially address Himself to the poor, burdened child of God who feels his infirmities, who cannot boast of his own wisdom, strength, righteousness, and consistency; but is all weakness and helplessness. It seems as if He would address Himself to the case of such a helpless wretch, and pour a sweet cordial into his bleeding conscience.
We, the children of God; we, who each knows his own plague and his own sore; we, who carry about with us day by day a body of sin and death, that makes us lament, sigh, and groan; we who know painfully what it
–270–

is to be encompassed with infirmities; we, who come to His feet as being nothing and having nothing but sin and woe; “we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our infirmities,” but One who carries in His bosom that….
sympathizing, merciful,
feeling,
tender, and compassionate heart.
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WHY ARE YOU CAST DOWN, O MY SOUL?
J. C. Philpot, “A Believer’s Dialogue With His Soul”
“Why are you in despair, my soul? Why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God! For I shall still praise Him, the saving help of my countenance, and my God.” Psalm 42:11
Do you forget, O soul, that the way to heaven is a very strait and narrow path; too narrow for you to carry your sins in it with you?
God sees it good that you should be cast down. You were getting very proud, O soul.
The world had gotten hold of your heart.
You were seeking great things for yourself. You were secretly roving away from the Lord. You were too much lifted up in SELF.
The Lord has sent you these trials and difficulties and allowed these temptations to fall upon you, to bring you down from your state of false security.
There is reason therefore, even to praise God for being cast down, and for being so disturbed.
How this opens up parts of God’s Word which you never read before with any feeling.
–271–

How it gives you sympathy and communion with the tried and troubled children of God.
How it weans and separates you from dead professors.
How it brings you in heart and affection, out of the world that lies in wickedness.
And how it engages your thoughts, time after time, upon the solemn matters of eternity; instead of being a prey to every idle thought and imagination; and tossed up and down upon a sea of vanity and folly.
But, above all, when there is a sweet response from the Lord, and the power of divine things is inwardly felt, in enabling us to hope in God, and to praise His blessed name; then we see the benefit of being cast down and so repeatedly and continually disturbed.
“Why are you in despair, my soul? Why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God! For I shall still praise Him, The saving help of my countenance, and my God.” Psalm 42:11 f
ALL THE HOUSES IN THIS PLAGUE STRICKEN LAND
Charles Spurgeon, “Nunc Dimittis”
To many this world is very sweet, very fair.
But God puts bitters into the cup of His children.
When their nest is soft, He fills it with thorns to make them long to fly. Alas, that it should be so, but some of God’s servants seem as if they had made up their minds to find a rest beneath the moon. They are moonstruck.
All the houses in this plague stricken land are worm eaten, and let in the rain and wind!
–272–

My soul longs to find a rest among the ivory palaces of Your land, O Immanuel.f
SHUT UP!
Thomas Reade, “Christian Experience”
“For it is a rebellious people, lying children, children who will not hear the law of the Lord; who tell the seers, ‘Don’t see;’ and to the prophets, ‘Don’t prophesy to us right things, speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits, get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.’” Isaiah 30:9-11
O what a deluge of evil has sin brought upon the earth!
The heart of man naturally revolts against the faithful exposure of its enormities.
Our pride fondly shelters itself under the ‘dignity of human nature.’
We cannot bear to be told how wicked we are, how very far gone, even as far as possible, from original righteousness.
But the Bible is no flatterer!
It is a faithful mirror, in which we may clearly see, if we have eyes to see our real state, divested of all paint and covering.
This offends our pride.
We cannot endure the sight!
Therefore we turn away with disgust from this Holy Book, and consider it our enemy, because it tells us the
truth.
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–273–

WELCOME ALL SICKNESS!
Henry Law, “Psalms” 1878
“The Lord will sustain him on his sickbed, And restore him
from his bed of illness.” Psalm 41:3
The Lord regards His people with especial love.
But they are not exempt from trouble.
Their heavenward march is through much tribulation. Sickness often assails their frames.
Languor depresses them.
Weakness detains them to a bed of suffering.
But they are not deserted. No, they now are encompassed with distinctive mercies. When heart and flesh appear to fail, the inner man is renewed with especial strength. Welcome all sickness which brings Jesus to the bedside!
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TREASURE IN EARTHEN VESSELS
Joseph Philpot, “Daily Portions”
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels.” 2 Corinthians 4:7
Be not surprised if you feel that in yourself you are but an earthen vessel; if you are made deeply and daily sensible of your frail body.
Be not surprised….
if your clay house is often tottering;
if sickness sometimes assails your mortal tabernacle; if in your flesh there dwells no good thing;
if your soul often cleaves to the dust; and
if you are unable to retain a sweet sense of God’s
goodness and love.
–274–

Be not surprised nor startled….
at the corruptions of your depraved nature;
at the depth of sin in your carnal mind;
at the vile abominations which lurk and work in your
deceitful and desperately wicked heart.
Bear in mind that it is the will of God that this heavenly treasure which makes you rich for eternity, should be lodged in an earthen vessel.
We have ever to feel our native weakness, and that without Christ we can do nothing; that we may be clothed with humility, and feel ourselves the chief of sinners, and less than the least of all saints.
We thus learn to prize the heights, breadths, lengths, and depths of the love of Christ, who stooped so low to
raise us up so high!
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THE GATE
by J. C. Ryle
“Enter in by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter in by it.” Matthew 7:13
There is a gate which leads to pardon, peace with God, and heaven. Whoever goes in by that gate shall be saved.
Never, surely, was a gate more needed.
Sin is a vast mountain between man and God.
How shall a man climb over it?
Sin is a high wall between man and God. How shall man get through it?
Sin is a deep gulf between man and God. How shall man cross over it?
–275–

God is….
in heaven,
holy,
pure,
spiritual,
undefiled,
light without any darkness at all,
a Being who cannot bear that which is evil, or look upon iniquity.
Man is….
a poor fallen worm crawling on earth for a few years, sinful,
corrupt,
erring,
defective,
a being whose imagination is only evil, and whose heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.
How shall man and God be brought together?
How shall man ever draw near to his Maker without fear and shame?
Blessed be God, there is a way! There is a road.
There is a path.
There is a door.
It is the gate spoken of in the words of Christ, “the narrow gate.”
“Enter in by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter in by it.” Matthew 7:13
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–276–

MOVING SHADOWS!
John MacDuff, “Memories of Olivet” 1870
“Behold, You have made my days handbreadths. My lifetime is as nothing before You. Surely every man stands as a breath.” Selah. “Surely every man walks like a shadow. Surely they busy themselves in vain. He heaps up, and doesn’t know who shall gather.” Psalm 39:5-6
Learn the unsatisfactory nature of all earthly things. “As a breath.”
In one brief hour David’s dream had vanished.
It was a pantomime, “moving shadows.”
He had been “heaping up riches;” accumulating costly materials in his palace. They now fell into the hands of a base unscrupulous guerrilla band.
And was David’s case a singular or exceptional one?
Alas! no. Every day makes additional disclosures of the “moving shadows,” and writes the old “sum of the whole matter,” “this also is vanity.”
One man has toiled a whole lifetime. The coveted RICHES have come at last; houses and lands and equipage and luxury; all is realized. But, it is only “moving shadows.” Disease unexpectedly supervenes; he has no health, no heart to enjoy them. The riches are there, but the zest is gone!
Another has toiled with equal SUCCESS. He had a beloved child, all worthy of inheriting his wealth; but, at the hour he least dreamed of, the footfall of the dread messenger was heard at the door, and the object of his fondest anticipations is borne away to the ‘long home’!
What to him now are the long, toiling, fretting years of the past? His gold is poor base alloy; that amassed
–277–

fortune passes to some unknown or distant relative in whom he feels no interest.
It is again “moving shadows;” the “castle of snow” which rises in a night and perishes with the morning sun. “He heaps up, and doesn’t know who shall gather.”
Yes! there are many broken and sad hearts that will be ready to subscribe this experience as their own; who, in the memory of….
frustrated hopes, disappointed schemes, forfeited friendships, sorrowful bereavements,
will tell that the world is not the gay and gladsome and happy thing many take it for.
Would that, in the midst of this constant experience of its vanity and unsatisfactoriness; we might adopt David’s words in this Psalm as our habitual motto.
This would….
temper the joys of prosperity,
reconcile to the bitterness of adversity,
and keep us mindful that this changeful, deceitful
earth is not our homef.
ALL TRIALS, ALL TEMPTATIONS,
ALL STRIPPINGS, ALL EMPTYINGS
J. C. Philpot, “The Ever Living Intercessor” 1846
The very trials and afflictions, and the sore temptations through which God’s family pass, all eventually endear Christ to them.
And depend upon it, if you are a child of God, you will sooner or later, in your travels through this wilderness, find your need of Jesus as “able to save to the uttermost.”
–278–

There will be such things in your heart, and such feelings in your mind, the temptations you will meet with will be such, that nothing short of a Savior that is able to save to the uttermost can save you out of your desperate case and felt circumstances as utterly lost and helpless.
This a great point to come to. All trials, all temptations, all strippings, all emptyings that do not end here are valueless, because they lead the soul away from God.
But the convictions, the trials, the temptations, the strippings, the emptyings, that bring us to this spot— that we have nothing, and can do nothing, but the Lord alone must do it all; these have a blessed effect, because they eventually make Jesus very near and dear unto us.
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LISTEN! HE CALLS YOU!
Richard Baxter, “The Saints’ Everlasting Rest”
“Then the King will tell them on His right hand, ‘Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’” Matthew 25:34
See how the Judge smiles on you; there is love in His looks; the titles of Redeemer, Husband, King, are written in His friendly, shining face.
Listen! He calls you! He invites you to stand on His right hand. Fear not, for that is where He sets His sheep.
He takes you by the hand, the door is open, the king- dom is His and therefore yours. There is your place before His throne. The Father receives you as the spouse of His Son, and bids you welcome. Ever so unworthy, you must be crowned. This was the purpose
–279–

of free redeeming grace, the climax of eternal love. O blessed grace! O wonderful love!
This is that joy which was purchased by sorrow. This is that crown which was bought by the cross.
Jesus wept, that now my tears might be wiped away. He bled, that I might now rejoice.
He was forsaken, that I might have this fellowship. He then died, that I might now live.
O free mercy, that can exalt so unworthy a sinner!
Free to me, though costly to Christ!
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YOU CANNOT WEARY NOR WEAR HIM OUT!
Mary Winslow, “Life in Jesus”
The humble, penitential, minute confession of sin will….
keep the conscience tender, create a watchful spirit within, sanctify the heart, and
draw us closer and closer to the Cross, and to the Christ of the Cross.
Thus go to Jesus.
He is with you….
in all your concerns,
in all your trials,
in all your blessings, in all your sorrows and in all your joys.
His dear eye is ever upon you for good.
He loved you with an everlasting love, and with loving kindness drew you to Himself.
Veil no secrets from Him.
–280–

Keep an open heart with Christ.
If your love is cold, He will warm it.
If your spirit is depressed, He will raise it.
If your corruptions are strong, He will subdue them.
The oftener you come the more welcome you will be.
You cannot weary nor wear Him out!
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MYSTERIES AND PERPLEXITIES
John MacDuff, “Hospice of the Pilgrim” 1891 “Your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all
these things.” Matthew 6:32
What a rest is this for weary, burdened wayfarers!
It is the assurance not only of a ‘needs be’ in whatever befalls them; but that all are the appointments of their heavenly Father.
“Your heavenly Father!” With tender care for the minute and lowly, He….
makes grass to grow for the cattle, pencils the flower,
sculptures the snow wreath, watches the sparrows fall,
and feeds the young ravens.
The unslumbering Shepherd keeps watch and ward continually, whether under the infinite blue of day, or under night with its starry galaxies.
Though mysteries and perplexities are on every side, yet we can rely on the assurance that His are no arbitrary dealings, swayed by caprice, marked and misdirected by human blindness and ignorance; but the dictates of unerring wisdom and of unchanging everlasting love.
–281–

Mark the Savior’s words. They are not “My heavenly Father”—but “your heavenly Father.” He would have each child to know His individual, particular affection and pity; and, despite baffling providences, to cleave to the unforgetting love of God.
All which befalls His people is meted out by One who is too kind to mingle an unnecessary or superfluous drop in their cup of sorrow.
“This is the resting place, let the weary rest. This is the place of repose.” Isaiah 28:12
FALSE RELIGION
Horatius Bonar, “False Religion and Its Doom”
“I will lay the dead bodies of the children of Israel before their idols; and I will scatter your bones round about your altars.” Ezekiel 6:5
There is such a thing as false religion.
It may be earnest and zealous, yet false.
No amount of sincerity or zeal will make that true, which is in itself false.
False religion is the worship of a false god, or the false worship of the true God.
We worship the true God untruly when we give him only half a heart, half a soul.
Do not think that the utterance of some true words, or the expression of a little sentimental devotion, is the true worship of the true God.
False religion is useless.
It profits nothing and nobody, either here or hereafter. It is not acceptable to God.
It will not be counted a substitute for the true.
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–282–

It does not satisfy the conscience. It does not make the man happy. It does not fill the heart.
It does not remove burdens.
It will not stand the fire.
It is but wood, and hay, and stubble.
The judgment will sweep it all away.
It is useless both for time nor eternity, both for earth
nor heaven.
It is irksome and unprofitable, only cheating the poor worshiper into the belief that he has felt or performed something good and worthy.
God abhors false religion.
It has not one feature that is pleasing to Him.
It is merely external.
It is untrue.
It is against His revelation.
It is dishonoring to Him.
It is self-exalting.
It is pure mockery.
It is rottenness and death.
It is a mouthful of words, a handful of dust and ashes.
Therefore God abhors it.
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DOCTRINES THAT RELATE TO COMMON LIFE
William Law, “A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life”
Our blessed Savior and His Apostles are wholly taken up in doctrines that relate to common life. They call us to renounce the world, and differ in every temper and way of life, from the spirit and the way of the world….
to renounce all its goods, to fear none of its evils, to reject its joys,
–283–

to live as pilgrims….
in spiritual watching,
in holy fear, and
heavenly aspiring after another life;
to take up our daily cross,
to deny ourselves,
to seek the blessedness of poverty of spirit, to forsake the pride and vanity of riches,
to take no anxious thought for the morrow, to live in the profoundest state of humility, to rejoice in worldly sufferings,
to reject….
the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life;
to bear injuries,
to forgive and bless our enemies,
to give up our whole hearts and affections to God,
and strive to enter through the strait gate into a life of eternal glory.
This is the common devotion which our blessed Savior taught, in order to make it the common life of all Christians.
If contempt of the world, and heavenly affection are necessary tempers of Christians; it is necessary that these tempers appear in the whole course of their lives, in their manner of using the world.
If we are to be new creatures in Christ, we must show that we are so, by having new ways of living in the world.
If we are to follow Christ, it must be in our common way of spending every day. Thus it is in all the virtues and holy tempers of Christianity; they are not ours unless they be the virtues and tempers of our ordinary life.
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–284–

EASY?
by Newman Hall
“He who overcomes, I will give him these things. I will be
his God, and he will be My son.” Revelation 21:7
To be a true Christian is not so easy a thing as some suppose. It is not merely….
true beliefs,
an evangelical creed,
a scriptural church,
a comfortable sermon once or twice a week.
It is not this which constitutes Christianity.
You who think religion so very easy a thing, be apprehensive lest, when too late, you find that you knew not what true religion meant.
Easy? A depraved being to trample upon his lusts? a proud being to lie prostrate with humility and self reproach? those who are “slow of heart, to believe,” to receive the Gospel as little children?
Easy? To “crucify the flesh,” “to deny ungodliness,” “to cut off a right hand, and to pluck out a right eye?”
Easy? To be in the world, and yet not of the world; to come out from it, not by the seclusion of the cloister, but by holiness of life; to be diligent in its duties, yet not absorbed by them; appreciating its innocent delights, and yet not ensnared by them; beholding its attractions, and yet rising superior to them?
Easy? To live surrounded by objects which appeal to the sight, and yet to endure as seeing what is invisible?
Easy? To pray and see no answer to prayer, and still pray on; to fight this battle, and find fresh foes ever rising up, yet still to fight on; to be harassed with doubts and
–285–

fears, and yet walk on in darkness, though we see no light, staying ourselves upon God?
Easy? To be preparing for a world we have never visited, in opposition to so much that is captivating in a world where we have always dwelt, whose beauties we have seen, whose music we have heard, whose pleasures we have experienced?
Easy? To resist that subtle foe who has cast down so many of the wise and the mighty?
Easy? When Jesus says it is a “strait gate,” and that if we would enter we must “strive,” bidding us “take up our cross daily, deny ourselves, and follow Him?”
Ah! it is no soft flowery meadow, along which we may languidly stroll; but a rough, craggy cliff that we must climb.
It is no smooth, placid stream, along which we may dreamily float, but a tempestuous ocean we must stem.
It is no easy lolling in a cushioned chariot, that bears us on without fatigue and peril. If we are to be saved, we
must “overcome.”
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DON’T TOUCH THEIR FILTHY THINGS!
Stephen Tyng, “Practical Meditations”
“Therefore, ‘Come out from among them, And be separate,’ says the Lord, ‘Touch no unclean thing. I will receive you.’” 2 Corinthians 6:17
I am to be separated from the sinful world around me.
Separated in actual character and conduct, by the work of the Holy Spirit in my heart and life. I have come out from them, for my lot is no longer with them.
I cannot walk in their paths. –286–

I cannot pursue their objects.
I cannot partake of their pleasures.
While they reject the gospel, my heart thankfully embraces it. While they live without Christ, it is my desire and delight to live for Him and with Him.
While they are earthly in all their plans and objects, I am to seek the things which are above. There is my treasure, and there must be my heart also.
Their opinions, and maxims, and plans are of no consequence to me. I cannot yield….
to their judgments,
to their examples, nor to their authority.
I cannot find my pleasures in this wilderness world.
I must not run out for the trifling vanities of the world around me. I must not form a part of its foolish passing
pageant.
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REDEEMED
Henry Law, “Redemption”
“For you were bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:20
“You were bought with a price. Don’t become bondservants of men.” 1 Corinthians 7:23
Redeemed ones are no more their own.
Your time is redeemed—use it as a consecrated talent in
His cause.
Your minds are redeemed—employ them to learn His truth and to meditate on His ways.
Thus make them armories of holy weapons.
–287–

Your eyes are redeemed—let them not look on vanity; close them on all sights and books of folly.
Your feet are redeemed—let them trample on the world, and climb the upward hill of Zion, and bear you onward in the march of Christian zeal.
Your tongues are redeemed—let them only sound His praise, and testify to His love, and call sinners to His cross.
Your hearts are redeemed—let them love Him wholly, and have no seat for rivals.
“Knowing that you were redeemed, not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, from the useless way of life handed down from your fathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb without spot, the blood of Christ.” 1 Peter 1:18-19f
I WAS A POOR, LOST CREATURE
Stephen Tyng, “Practical Meditations”
Of all the blessings which I have received, surely the most inestimable is the gift of Divine redemption. I have been purchased by the death of Christ! I was a poor, lost creature, sold under sin, when He opened my prison doors, and let me go free!
What a mercy was then granted to me!
When I look….
at the sorrow and darkness which I have escaped; at the misery from which I have been delivered; at the glories which are laid up for me;
at the love which has accomplished all,
how thankful ought I to be!
I have an eternal home and an inheritance above!
–288–

There my Savior will rejoice over me forever!
It is a mystery of grace. My heart ought always to bless God for the boundless consolation.
If the world neglects me or reviles me, it is of little consequence. God my Savior loves me!
NO FEAR!
Joseph Philpot, “The Heavenly Birth and its Earthly Counterfeits” 1843
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Romans 3:18
Those who have every reason to fear as to their eternal state before God, have for the most part, no fear at all. They are secure, and free from doubt and fear.
The depths of human hypocrisy, the dreadful lengths to which profession may go, the deceit of the carnal heart, the snares spread for the unwary feet, the fearful danger of being deceived at the last; these traps and pitfalls are not objects of anxiety to those dead in sin.
As long as they can pacify natural conscience, and do something to soothe any transient conviction, they are glad to be deceived!
God does not see fit to disturb their quiet.
He has no purpose of mercy towards them; they are not subjects of His kingdom; they are not objects of His love.
He therefore leaves them carnally secure, as in a dream, from which they will not awake until the day of
judgment.
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–289–

TAKE ALL TO JESUS!
Octavius Winslow, “Go to Jesus”
Then Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
The life of faith is a constant coming to Jesus for daily, hourly, and fresh supplies.
Let every circumstance and event, every trial, sorrow, and need, be an echo of the gracious life inspiring words—“Go to Jesus!”
Go to Jesus, confessing sin.
Go to Jesus, unveiling grief.
Go to Jesus, telling need.
Go to Jesus, breathing love, desire, and hope.
You are still in the land of famine and of need.
But your heavenly Father would remind you that He has anticipated and provided….
for all your requirements, for all your history,
for your daily demands,
in Him whom whose fullness fills all in all.
Take the hard heart, or the broken heart;
take the cold heart, or the glowing heart;
take your barrenness, or your fruitfulness;
take the sunbeam of prosperity, or the cloud of adversity; take the joy, take the sorrow;
take all to Jesus!
Let Him participate in all, keep you in all, sympathize with all; for Jesus is your Brother, raised up to befriend, relieve, and preserve you in your time of need.
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–290–

THESE DIFFICULTIES….
by J. C. Philpot
“From all your idols will I cleanse you.” Ezekiel 36:25
When there are no crosses, temptations, or trials, a man is sure to go out after and cleave to idols.
It matters not what experience he has had. If once he ceases to be plagued and tried, he will be setting up his household gods in the secret chambers of his heart.
Profit or pleasure, self-indulgence or self-gratification, will surely, in one form or another, engross his thoughts, and steal away his heart.
Nor is there anything too trifling or insignificant to become an idol. Whatever is meditated on preferably to God, whatever is desired more than He, whatever more interests us, pleases us, occupies our waking hours, or is more constantly in our mind, becomes an idol, and a source of sin.
It is not the magnitude of the idol, but its existence as an object of worship, that constitutes idolatry. I have seen some ‘Burmese idols’ not much larger than my hand; and I have seen some ‘Egyptian idols’ weighing many tons.
But both were equally idols, and the comparative size had nothing to do with the question.
So spiritually, an idol is not to be measured by its size; its relative importance or non importance. A flower may be as much an idol to one man, as a chest full of gold to another.
If you watch your heart, you will see idols rising and setting all day long, nearly as thickly as the stars by night.
–291–

But God sends…. trials, difficulties, temptations, besetments, losses, afflictions,
to pull down these idols, or rather to pull away our hearts from them.
These difficulties….
pull us out of fleshly ease,
make us cry for mercy,
pull down all rotten props,
hunt us out of false refuges, and
strip us of vain hopes and delusive expectations.
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IDOLATRY!
J. C. Philpot, “Idolatry” 1852
“For they themselves report…how you turned to God from
idols, to serve a living and true God.” 1 Thessalonians 1:9 Nothing is too small or too insignificant which, at
times, may not be an idol.
What is an idol? Something my carnal mind loves. How may I know whether my carnal mind loves it?
When we think of it, and are very much pleased with it. We pet it, love and fondle it, dallying and playing with it, like a mother with her babe. See how she takes the little thing and gazes at it. Her eyes are fixed on it; she dotes upon it because she loves it.
Thus we may know an idol if we examine our own hearts, by what our imagination, desires and secret thoughts are going out after.
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Instead of being spiritually minded, having his heart and affections in heaven, he has something in his mind which it is going out after; something or other laying hold of the affections.
The child of God has, more or less, all these propen- sities working within. There is idolatry in every man’s heart. How deep this idolatry is rooted in a man’s heart! How it steals upon his soul! Whatever is indulged in, how it creeps over him, until it gets such power that it becomes master.
A man does not know himself, if he does not know what power this idolatry has over him.
None but God can make the man know it; and when the Lord delivers him, he then turns to God and says, “What a vile wretch I have been! What a monster to go after these idols, loving this thing, and that. A wretch, a monster of iniquity, the vilest wretch that ever crawled on the face of God’s earth, for my wicked heart to go out after these idols!”
When the soul is brought down to a sense of its vileness and loathsomeness, and God’s patience and forbearance, it turns to God from idols, to serve the only living and true God, who pardons the idolater.
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THROUGH THE INWARD CONFLICTS, SECRET WORKINGS
J. C. Philpot, “The Soul’s Growth in Grace” 1837
Through the inward conflicts, secret workings, mysterious changes, and ever-varying exercises of his soul, the true Christian becomes established in a deep experience….
of his own folly and God’s wisdom,
of his own weakness and Christ’s strength,
of his own sinfulness and the Lord’s goodness,
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of his own backslidings and the Spirit’s recoveries,
of his own base ingratitude and Jehovah’s patience, of the aboundings of sin and the super aboundings of
grace.
He thus becomes daily more and more confirmed in…. the vanity of the creature,
the utter helplessness of man,
the deceitfulness and hypocrisy of the human heart, the sovereignty of distinguishing grace,
the fewness of heaven taught ministers, the scanty number of living souls,
and the great rareness of true religion.
WOUNDS, AND BRUISES, AND PUTREFYING SORES
J. C. Philpot, “Balm in Gilead” 1852
“Why should you be beaten more, yhat you revolt more and more? The whole head is sick, And the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head there is no soundness in it: wounds, welts, and open sores.” Isaiah 1:5-6
Every thought, word, and action is polluted by sin. Every mental faculty is depraved.
The will chooses evil.
The affections cleave to earthly things.
The memory, like a broken sieve, retains the bad and lets fall the good.
The judgment, like a bribed or drunken judge, pronounces mindless or wrong decisions.
The conscience, like an opium eater, lies asleep and drugged in stupefied silence.
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When all these ‘master faculties of the mind’ are so drunken and disorderly, need we wonder that the bodily members are a godless, rebellious crew?
Lusts call out for gratification.
Unbelief and infidelity murmur.
Tempers growl and mutter.
Every bad passion strives hard for the mastery.
O the evils of the human heart, which, let loose,
have filled earth with misery, and hell with victims; which deluged the world with the flood;
burnt Sodom and Gomorrah with fire from heaven;
and are ripening the world for the final conflagration!
Every sin which….
has made this fair earth a ‘present hell;’ has filled the air with groans; and
has drenched the ground with blood;
dwells in your heart and mine!
Now, as this is opened up to the conscience by the Spirit of God, we feel indeed to be of all men most sinful and miserable; and of all most guilty, polluted, and vile. But it is this, and nothing but this, which cuts to pieces our ‘fleshly righteousness, wisdom, and strength;’ which slays our delusive hopes; and lays us low at the footstool of mercy; without one good thought, word, or action to propitiate an angry Judge.
It is this which brings the soul to this point—that if saved, it can only be saved by the free grace, sovereign mercy, and tender compassion of Almighty God.
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THE WILDERNESS WANDERER
J. C. Philpot, “The Wilderness Wanderer” 1867 “They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way. They
found no city to live in.” Psalm 107:4
The true Christian finds this world to be a wilderness. There is no change in the world itself.
The change is in the man’s heart.
The wilderness wanderer thinks it altered; a different world from what he has hitherto known….
his friends,
his own family,
the employment in which he is daily engaged, the general pursuits of men,
the cares and anxieties,
the hopes and prospects,
the amusements and pleasures, and
what I may call ‘the general din and whirl of life,’
all seem to him different to what they were; and for a time perhaps he can scarcely tell whether the change is in them, or in himself.
This however is the prominent and uppermost feeling in his mind—that he finds himself, to his surprise, a wanderer in a world which has changed altogether its appearance to him. The fair, beautiful world, in which was all his happiness and all his home; has become to him a dreary wilderness.
Sin has been fastened in its conviction on his conscience.
The Holy Spirit has taken the veil of unbelief and ignorance off his heart. He now sees the world in a wholly different light; and instead of a paradise it has
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become a wilderness; for sin, dreadful sin, has marred all its beauty and happiness.
It is not because the world itself has changed that the Christian feels it to be a wilderness—but because he himself has changed.
There is nothing in this world which can really gratify or satisfy the true Christian. What once was to him a happy and joyous world has now become a barren wilderness.
The scene of his former…. pursuits,
pleasures,
habits,
delights,
prospects,
hopes,
anticipations of profit or happiness,
is now turned into a barren wasteland.
What once was a blooming and verdant pasture, a glorious scene of hill and dale, trees and flowers, is now turned into sand and gravel, with the burning sun of God’s wrath above, and the parched sand of his own desolate heart beneath.
He cannot perhaps tell how or why the change has taken place, but he feels it, deeply feels it. He may try to shake off his trouble and be a little cheerful and happy as he was before; but if he gets a little imaginary relief, all his guilty pangs come back upon him with renewed strength and increased violence.
God means to make the world a wilderness to every child of His, that he may not find his happiness in it, but be a stranger and a pilgrim upon earth.
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TEMPTATION
J. C. Philpot, “Daily Portions”
“The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out
of temptation.” 2 Peter 2:9
Few will sincerely and spiritually go to the Lord, and cry from their hearts to be delivered from the power of a temptation, until it presses so weightily upon their conscience, and lies so heavy a burden upon their soul, that none but God can remove it.
But when we really feel the burden of a temptation; when, though our flesh may love it, our spirit hates it; when, though there may be in our carnal mind a cleaving to it, our conscience bleeds under it, and we are brought spiritually to loathe it and to loathe ourselves for it; when we are enabled to go to the Lord in real sincerity of soul and honesty of heart, beseech- ing Him to deliver us from it; I believe, that the Lord will, sooner or later, either remove that temptation entirely in His providence or by His grace, or so weaken its power that it shall cease to be what it was before, drawing our feet into paths of darkness and evil.
As long, however, as we are in that state of which the prophet speaks, “Their heart is divided; now shall they be found faulty” Hosea 10:2; as long as we are in that carnal, wavering mind, which James describes, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways;” as long as we are hankering after the temptation, casting longing, lingering side glances after it, rolling it as a sweet morsel under our tongue; and though conscience may testify against it, yet not willing to have it taken away, there is….
no hearty cry,
nor sigh,
nor spiritual breathing of our soul,
that God would remove it from us.
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But when we are brought, as in the presence of a heart- searching God, to hate the evil to which we are tempted; and cry to Him that He would, for his honor and for our soul’s good, take the temptation away, or dull and deaden its power; sooner or later the Lord will hear the cry of those who groan to be delivered from those temptations, which are so powerfully pressing them down to the dust.f
IDLING LIFE AWAY LIKE AN IDIOT OR A MADMAN
J. C. Philpot, “The Soul’s Growth in Grace” 1837
When one is spiritually reborn, he sees at one and the same moment….
God and self,
justice and guilt,
power and helplessness,
a holy law and a broken commandment,
eternity and time,
the purity of the Creator, and the filthiness of the
creature.
And these things he sees, not merely as declared in the Bible, but as revealed in himself as personal realities, involving all his happiness or all his misery in time and in eternity. Thus it is with him as though a new existence had been communicated, and as if for the first time he had found there was a God!
It is as though all his days he had been asleep, and were now awakened; asleep upon the top of a mast, with the raging waves beneath; as if all his past life were a dream, and the dream were now at an end. He has been….
hunting butterflies, blowing soap bubbles, angling for minnows, picking daisies,
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building houses of cards, and
idling life away like an idiot or a madman.
He had been perhaps wrapped up in a religious profession, advanced even to the office of a deacon, or mounted in a pulpit. He had learned to talk about Christ, and election, and grace, and fill his mouth with the language of Zion.
But what did he experimentally know of these things?
Nothing, absolutely nothing!
Ignorant of his own ignorance—of all kinds of ignorance the worst—he thought himself rich, and increased with goods, and to have need of nothing; and knew not that he was wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.
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THIS WILY DEVIL!
J. C. Philpot, “Daily Words for Zion’s Wayfarers”
What a foe to one’s peace is one’s own spirit! What shall I call it? It is often an infernal spirit. Why? Because it bears the mark of Satan upon it.
The pride of our spirit,
the presumption of our spirit,
the hypocrisy of our spirit,
the intense selfishness of our spirit, are often hidden from us.
This wily devil, SELF, can wear such masks and assume such forms!
This serpent, SELF, can so creep and crawl, can so twist and turn, and can disguise itself under such false appearances, that it is often hidden from ourselves.
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Who is the greatest enemy we have to fear? We all have our enemies. But who is our greatest enemy?
He whom you carry in your own bosom—your daily, hourly, and unmovable companion, who entwines himself in nearly every thought of your heart; who….
sometimes puffs up with pride,
sometimes inflames with lust,
sometimes inflates with presumption, and sometimes works under pretended humility and
fleshly holiness.
God is determined to stain the pride of human glory.
He will never let SELF, which is but another word for the creature, wear the crown of victory. It must be crucified, denied, and mortified.
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TO BATHE IN THE OCEAN OF ENDLESS BLISS!
J. C. Philpot, “Daily Words for Zion’s Wayfarers”
“Blessed is the man whose strength is in you; who have set their hearts on a pilgrimage. Passing through the valley of Weeping, they make it a place of springs. Yes, the autumn rain covers it with blessings. They go from strength to strength. Everyone of them appears before God in Zion.” Psalm 84:5-7
Every living soul that has been experimentally taught his lost condition; that has known something of a resting place in Christ; that has turned his back upon both the world and the professing church; and gone weeping Zionward, that he may….
live in Jesus
feel His power, taste His love, know His blood, rejoice in His grace;
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every such soul shall, like Israel of old, be borne safely through this waste howling wilderness; shall be carried through this valley of tears; and taken to enjoy eternal bliss and glory in the presence of Jesus, to bathe in the ocean of endless bliss!
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WHERE SHALL WE HIDE OUR BLUSHING FACE?
Octavius Winslow
There is much indeed in ourselves of which we have reason truly to be ashamed, and to be filled with profound self abhorrence. We have need to be ashamed….
of our unbelief;
of our low thoughts of the Savior;
of our little love to God;
of our slow advance in the divine life;
of our imperfect conformity to Christ;
of the power of indwelling sin;
of our slender spiritual attainments in….
knowledge,
personal holiness, and heavenly meekness.
What shamefacedness should cover us, that we are so ready to compromise, to falter, and to halt.
How deeply humbled should we be that there still exists in us so much carnality, love of the world, and conformity to the world; so little of the crucified spirit of a cross-bearing Savior!
What cause of shame that, with all our profession, the pulse of spiritual life beats in our souls so faintly, the spirit of prayer breathes in us so feebly, that we possess so little real, vital religion, and follow Christ at so great a distance.
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Filled with self abasement should we be, that the fruits and graces of the Spirit are in us so sickly, drooping, and dwarfed; that we have so limited a measure of faith, love, and humility; are so defective in our patience and meekness, wisdom, and gentleness; that, with all our blossom and foliage, there is so little real fruit to the glory of our Father.
May we not, in view of all this, exclaim with Ezra, in his deep grief and humiliation for the sins of the people, “O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to you, my God; for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our guiltiness is grown up to the heavens.” Ezra 9:6.
Oh, where shall we fly; where shall we hide our blushing face but in the blood of atonement! sprinkled afresh with which, we may lift up our heads and not be ashamed.
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YOUR EYES WILL SEE THE KING IN HIS BEAUTY!
J. C. Philpot, “Daily Words for Zion’s Wayfarers,” 1893
“Your eyes shall see the King in His beauty!” Isaiah 33:17
Where in heaven or on earth can there be found such a lovely Object as the Son of God? If you have never seen any beauty in Jesus….
you have never seen Jesus,
He has never revealed Himself to you,
you never had a glimpse of His lovely face, nor a sense of His presence,
nor a word from His lips,
nor a touch from His hand.
But if you have seen Him by the eye of faith, and He has revealed Himself to you even in a small measure,
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you have seen a beauty in Him beyond all other beauties, for it is….
a holy beauty,
a divine beauty,
the beauty of His heavenly grace,
the beauty of His uncreated and eternal glory.
How beautiful and glorious does He show Himself to be in His atoning blood and dying love. Even as sweating great drops of blood in Gethsemane’s gloomy garden, and as hanging in torture and agony upon Calvary’s cross, faith can see a beauty in the glorious Redeemer, even in the lowest depths of ignominy and shame!
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CAN THE ETHIOPIAN CHANGE HIS SKIN?
J. C. Philpot, “Daily Words for Zion’s Wayfarers”
“Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may you also do good, who are accustomed to do evil.” Jeremiah 13:23
Before the soul can know anything about salvation, it must learn deeply and experimentally the nature of sin, and of itself, as stained and polluted by sin.
The soul is proud, and needs to be humbled. The soul is careless, and needs to be awakened. The soul is alive, and needs to be killed.
The soul is full, and requires to be emptied. The soul is whole, and needs to be wounded. The soul is clothed, and requires to be stripped.
The soul is, by nature….
Self-righteous and self-seeking,
buried deep in worldliness and carnality, utterly blind and ignorant,
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filled with…. presumption, arrogance, conceit,
and enmity.
It hates all that is heavenly and spiritual.
Sin, in all its various forms, is its natural element.
To make man the direct opposite of what he originally is….
to make him love God, instead of hating Him;
to make him fear God, instead of mocking Him;
to make him obey God, instead of rebelling against Him; to make him to tremble at His dreadful majesty,
instead of defiantly charging against Him;
to do this mighty work, and to effect this wonderful change, requires the implantation of a new nature by the immediate hand of God Himself!
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MY DESIRE IS….
by J. C. Philpot
My desire is….
to exalt the grace of God;
to proclaim salvation through Jesus Christ alone; to declare the sinfulness, helplessness and hopelessness of man in a state of nature;
to describe the living experience of the children of
God in their…. trials, temptations, sorrows, consolations, and blessings.
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THAT HEAVENLY TEACHER
J. C. Philpot, “Daily Words for Zion’s Wayfarers”
We do not learn that we are sinners merely by reading it in the Bible. It must be wrought, I might say, burnt into us.
Nor will anyone sincerely and spiritually cry for mercy, until sin is spiritually felt and known….
in its misery,
in its dominion,
in its guilt,
in its entanglements,
in its wiles and allurements, in its filth and pollution, and in its condemnation.
Where the Holy Spirit works, He kindles…. sighs,
groans,
supplications,
wrestlings, and
pleadings
to know Christ, feel His love, taste the efficacy of His atoning blood, and embrace Him as all our salvation and all our desire.
And though there may, and doubtless will be, much barrenness, hardness, deadness, and apparent carelessness often felt; still that heavenly Teacher will revive His work, though often by painful methods; nor will He let the quickened soul rest short of a personal and experimental enjoyment of Christ and His glorious salvation.
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PRESERVING GRACE BEFORE REGENERATION
J. C. Philpot, “Daily Words for Zion’s Wayfarers” “To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father,
and kept for Jesus Christ.” Jude 1
What a mercy it is for God’s people that before they have a ‘vital union’ with Christ, before they are grafted into Him experimentally; they have an ‘eternal, immanent union’ with Him before all worlds.
It is by virtue of this eternal union that they come into the world….
at such a time,
at such a place,
from such parents,
under such circumstances,
as God has appointed.
It is by virtue of this eternal union that the circumstances of their lives are ordained. By virtue of this eternal union they are preserved in Christ before they are effectually called.
They cannot die until God has brought about a vital union with Christ.
Whatever sickness they may pass through, whatever injuries they may be exposed to, whatever perils assault them on sea or land; die they will not, die they cannot, until God’s purposes are executed in bringing them into a vital union with the Son of His love.
Thus, this eternal union watched over every circumstance of their birth, watched over their childhood, watched over their manhood, watched over them until the appointed time and spot, when “the God of all grace,” according to His eternal purpose, was pleased to quicken their souls, and thus bring about an experimental union with the Lord of life and glory.
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FREE!
J. C. Philpot, “Genuine Discipleship” 1843
“If the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed.” John 8:36
To be made free implies a liberty from the WORLD and the spirit of covetousness in the heart. If we were to follow into their shops some who talk much of ‘gospel liberty,’ we might find that the world’s fetter had not been struck off their heart; that they had a ‘golden’ chain, though invisible to their own eyes, very closely wrapped round their heart.
And there is a being made free from the power of SIN.
I greatly fear, if we could follow into their holes and corners, and secret chambers many who prattle about gospel liberty, we would find that sin had not yet lost its hold upon them, that there was some secret or open sin that entangled them, that there was….
some lust,
some passion,
some evil temper,
some wretched pride or other,
that wound its fetters very close round their heart.
And also there is a being made free from SELF…. proud self,
presumptuous self,
self-exalting self,
flesh pleasing self,
hypocritical self,
self in all its various shapes and turns,
self in all its crooked hypocrisy and windings.
“If the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed.” f
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CAN HE SCALE HEAVEN AND DETHRONE OUR GOD?
Henry Law, “Psalms”
“Let us break their bonds apart, And cast away their
cords from us.” Psalm 2:3
Self-will rejects restraint.
Pride will not yield to rule.
Conceited reason lifts up defiant head.
The gentle scepter of Christ’s kingdom; His sweet, His light, His easy, and His loving yoke; are hated as chains which restrain, and cords which fetter.
When Jesus came, earth raised the cry, “We will not have this man to reign over us.” It still resounds.
When will man learn that widest liberty is true submission to the Gospel sway?
He is a free man whom the Son makes free.
He is a slave in whom unbridled lusts and passions rule.
But can proud man prevail?
Can he drive back the ocean’s might with a feather?
Can he lift up his puny hand, and bid the sun conceal its rays?
Can he bind the hurricane with straws?
Can he lay mountains low, lift up the valleys, and change the laws of nature?
Can he scale heaven and dethrone our God?
Such, doubtless, is his frantic will.
“Let us break their bonds apart, And cast away their
cords from us.” Psalm 2:3 But give ear again!
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“He who sits in the heavens will laugh. The Lord will have them in derision. Then He will speak to them in His anger, And terrify them in His wrath.” Psalm 2:4-5
God may be silent long; but His patience is not impunity. Reprieve brings not release.
When the appointed time comes, the floodgates open and wrath overflows!
Who can conceive these terrors?
What must His displeasure be?
Who can endure when His anger issues forth? What weeping! What wailing! What anguish!
What gnashing of teeth! When God arises to execute due judgment on His foes!
BEHOLD THE INCARNATE GOD BOWED IN GRIEF!
Octavius Winslow Accompany Him to the garden.
Behold the incarnate God bowed in grief; His empurpled brow pressed to the cold, damp sod; the cup of trembling in His hands; and the cry of anguish, O how piercing, yet how submissive, bursting from His quivering lips, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me!”
Follow Him to Calvary, staggering and swooning beneath the instrument of His torture. Behold the legions of hell let loose upon His holy soul, ‘bruising the heel of the woman’s seed.’ Listen to the insulting taunts of the priests as they swagger beneath the cross. The sun is clothed in sackcloth; the earth trembles upon its axis; the granite rocks are rent asunder; and amid the darkness, convulsion, and earthquake of the
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globe, a cry is heard; louder and more agonizing than all, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
THESE FUGITIVE, TRANSITORY THINGS
J. C. Philpot, “Heavenly Realities and Divine Certainties” “The world is passing away with its lusts, but he who does
God’s will remains forever.” 1 John 2:17
There is a reality in true religion, and indeed, rightly viewed, a reality in nothing else. For every other thing passes away like a dream of the night, and comes to an end like a tale that is told. Now you cannot say of a thing that passes away and comes to an end, that it is real. It may have the appearance of reality, when in fact it is but a shadow.
Money, jewels, pictures, books, furniture, securities, are transitory. Money may be spent, jewels be lost, books be burnt, furniture decay, pictures vanish by time and age, securities be stolen.
Nothing is real but that which has an abiding substance.
Health decays,
strength diminishes,
beauty flees the cheek,
sight and hearing grow dim,
the mind itself gets feeble,
riches make to themselves wings and flee away, children die,
friends depart,
old age creeps on,
and life itself comes to a close.
These fugitive, transitory things are then mere shadows; there is no substance, no enduring substance in them. They are for time, and are useful for a time. Like our
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daily food and clothing, house and home, they support and solace us in our journey through life. But there they stop; when life ends they end with it.
But real religion; and by this I understand the work of God upon the soul, abides in death and after death, goes with us through the dark valley, and lands us safe in a blessed eternity. It is, therefore, the only thing in this world of which we can say that it is real.
“The world is passing away with its lusts, but he who does God’s will remains forever.” 1 John 2:17
A SAD MOTLEY MIXTURE
The following is an excerpt from Philpot’s letter to a church which desired him to come as their pastor.
“…me, the very least of all saints.” Ephesians 3:8 “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I
am chief.” 1 Timothy 1:15
Many are foolishly apt to think that a minister is more spiritual than anyone else. But I am daily more and more sensible of the desperate wickedness of my deceitful heart, and my miserable ruined state as a sinner by nature and by practice. I feel utterly unworthy of the name of a Christian, and to be ranked among the followers of the Lamb.
I have no desire to palm myself off on any church, as though I were anything. I am willing to take a low place.
The more you see of me, you will be sure to find out more of my infirmities, failings, waywardness, selfishness, obstinacy, and evil temper. I am carnal, very proud, very foolish in imagination, very slothful, very worldly, dark, stupid, blind, unbelieving and ignorant.
I cannot but confess that I am a strange compound, a sad –312–
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motley mixture of all the most hateful and abominable vices that rise up within me, and face me at every turn.
WHEN YOU SHALL ENLARGE MY HEART
Philpot, “Divine Enlargement and Spiritual Obedience” “I will run the way of Your commandments, when You
shall enlarge my heart.” Psalm 119:32
The Word of God is full of precepts, but we are totally unable to perform them in our own strength. We cannot, without divine assistance, perform the precept….
with a single eye to the glory of God, from heavenly motives, and
in a way acceptable to the Lord,
without special power from on high.
We need an extraordinary power to be put forth in our hearts, a special work of the Spirit upon the conscience, in order to spiritually fulfill in the slightest degree, the least of God’s commandments.
None but the Lord Himself can enlarge the heart of His people.
None but the Lord can expand their hearts Godwards, and remove that narrowedness and contractedness in divine things, which is the plague and burden of a God- fearing soul.
When the Lord is absent,
when He hides His lovely face,
when He does not draw near to visit and bless, the heart contracts in its own narrow compass.
But when the Lord is pleased to favor the soul with His own gracious presence, and bring Himself near to the heart, His felt presence opens, enlarges, and expands the soul, so as to receive Him in all His love and grace.
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BEHOLD HIS PRECIOUS GIFT TRANSFIXED TO IT!
Octavius Winslow, “Morning Thoughts”
“He who didn’t spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how would He not also with Him freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32
Look at the cross! Behold His precious Gift transfixed to it, and that by His own hand, and for your sins.
Then look at your present circumstances, survey…. your needs,
your trials,
your chastisements,
your bereavements,
your heart-sickening, heartbreaking tribulations, and know that God still is love.
If He had love strong enough, deep enough, to give you Jesus; to tear Him, as it were, from His bosom, and to transfix Him on yonder accursed tree for your iniquities; has He not love enough to bow His ear to your cry, and His heart to your sorrow?
Will He not….
rescue you from this difficulty,
deliver you out of this trouble,
shield you in this temptation,
supply this need,
support and comfort you in this grief?
Oh yes, He will! doubt it not!
The cross of Calvary is a standing pledge; standing until sin and guilt, need and woe, shall be known no more; that God, who “spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, will with Him also freely give us all things” necessary to our good, and promotive of His glory.
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SUPERNATURAL LIGHT
J. C. Philpot, “The Heir of Heaven Walking in Darkness, and the Heir of Hell Walking in Light”
“It is God who said, ‘Light will shine out of darkness,’ who shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6
Until, then, this supernatural light of God enters into the soul, a man has no saving knowledge of Jehovah. He may….
say his prayers,
read his Bible,
attend preaching,
observe ordinances,
bestow all his goods to feed the poor, or give his body to be burned;
but he is as ignorant of God as the cattle that graze in the fields!
He may call himself a Christian, and be thought such by others, talk much about Jesus Christ, hold a sound creed, maintain a consistent profession, pray at a prayer meeting with fluency and apparent feeling, stand up in a pulpit and contend earnestly for the doctrines of grace, excel hundreds of God’s children in zeal, knowledge and conversation.
And yet, if this ray of supernatural light has never shone into his soul, he is only twofold more the child of hell than those who make no profession!
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THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE SLEEPS IN A WOMAN’S ARMS!
Horatius Bonar, “Family Sermons” 1867
Go to Bethlehem. See yon infant! It is God! the Word made flesh.
Come, see the place where the young Child lay!
Look at the manger—there is the Lamb for the burnt offering; the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
See yon infant!
The highest is the lowest;
the eternal Word a babe;
the Creator of the universe sleeps in a woman’s arms!
How low He has become; how poor! Those little tender hands shall yet be torn.
Those feet, that have not yet trod this rough earth, shall be nailed to the tree.
That side shall yet be pierced by a Roman spear. That back shall be scourged.
That cheek shall be buffeted and spit upon. That brow shall be crowned with thorns.
And all for you!
Is not this love?
Is it not the great love of God?
And in this love is there not salvation, and a kingdom,
and a throne?
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OUR REFUGE!
J. C. Philpot, “An Immutable God and a Strong Consolation” 1866
“The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my rock, in whom I will take refuge; my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower.” Psalm 18:2
On every side are hosts of enemies ever invading our souls, trampling down every good thing in our hearts, accompanied by a flying troop of temptations, doubts, fears, guilt and bondage sweeping over our soul.
And we, as regards our own strength, are helpless against them.
But there is a refuge set before us in the gospel of the grace of God. The Lord Jesus Christ, as King in Zion, is there held up before our eyes as….
the Rock of our refuge, our strong Tower,
our impregnable Fortress;
and we are encouraged by every precious promise and every gospel invitation when we are overrun and distressed by these wandering, ravaging, plundering tribes to flee unto and find a safe refuge in Him.
“Preserve me, O God, for in You do I take refuge.” Psalm 16:1
“O Lord my God, I take refuge in You. Save me from all those who pursue me, and deliver me.” Psalm 7:1
LITTLE HEATHEN?
The following is from the biography of J. C. Philpot, written by his son.
There was nothing my father mistrusted more than ‘childhood piety.’ He insisted that children should never be taught or allowed to use the language of ‘personal
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possession’ in reference to God. To sing, for instance, “Rock of Ages, cleft for ME;” or, “MY Jesus.”
Herein he was most logical. For by early influence and example you can train up a child to be….
a little patriot,
a little Catholic,
a little Calvinist, or a little Bolshevist.
But no power on earth can make him a child of God.
He took great care that we, his children, attended the means of grace, and never missed chapel or family prayers. But he never expected us to be anything but little heathens.
We had, it is true, to be well behaved little heathens.
If not, we got “the stick,” or its equivalent.
“Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:13
DO YOU LOVE ME?
Octavius Winslow, “From Grace to Glory” 1864
“Simon son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”
John 21:15
Do you love Me….
More than these creature claimants?
More than these earthly honors?
More than these worldly riches?
More than these domestic comforts?
More than parent, child, brother, sister, friend?
Do you love Me…. singly, supremely,
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above all,
amid ten thousand suitors for your heart?
Do you love Me….
Does My beauty charm you? Does My love win you? Does My grace draw you? Does My cross attract you?
Have My sufferings and My death subdued you to penitence, faith, and love?
Am I dearer to you than earth’s dearest attractions?
Am I more precious than the heart’s most precious treasure?
Can you part with all, and everyone, for Me?
“Do I love You, O my Lord? Behold my heart and see;
Gently dislodge each idol thence, That seeks to rival Thee.”
“You know I love You, dearest Lord; But, oh, I long to soar;
Far from the sphere of mortal joys, And learn to love You more!”
PAVILIONED WITHIN HIS LIVING, LOVING HEART
Octavius Winslow, “From Grace to Glory” 1864
If you are His child, Jesus is concerned with all that appertains and attaches to you. He moulds and pencils all the events of your life; giving to each its form and complexion.
He is pledged….
to the supply of every need, to guide each step,
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to sustain in every sorrow, and
to keep you by His power unto the end.
Oh, the blessedness of being in Christ! Here alone is liberty, security, and peace.
The foe cannot assail you, the arrow cannot wound you, the storms cannot reach you, encompassed by His divine perfections, and pavilioned within His living, loving heart.
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THE ENCHANTMENT OF THE WORLD?
Octavius Winslow
Has the enchantment of the world seized upon you? Has it….
stolen upon you,
beguiled you,
caught you with its glitter,
overwhelmed you with its crushing cares?
Come out from it, and be separate. Resign…. its hollow friendships,
its carnal enjoyments,
its fleshly wisdom,
its sinful conformity.
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IF YOU PLUNGE INTO ETERNITY CLUTCHING THE AIRY FICTION
Octavius Winslow, “From Grace to Glory” 1864
We do not hesitate to pronounce the doctrine of “baptismal regeneration” to be the paramount lie of Satan; the most subtle and fatal weapon which this arch foe of our race ever forged for the destruction of men’s souls in eternal perdition!
Do not build your hope of glory upon your baptism.
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You are lost to all eternity if you do. You must be born again if ever you enter the kingdom of heaven.
If you plunge into eternity clutching the airy fiction, the fatal notion, that you passed from spiritual death into spiritual life in your baptism; that in baptism you were regenerated, adopted, justified, made holy and saved; you have staked your eternal happiness upon the most fatal lie!
In many instances, the unhappy victim of this delusion passes away, undeceived until the deception is too late
to rectify!
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A BAD TREE
Octavius Winslow, “From Grace to Glory” 1864
“By their fruits you will know them. Do you gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree brings forth good fruit; but the corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. A good tree can’t bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” Matthew 7:16-18
An unconverted state will bear fruit corresponding with its own essence. It must, in the nature of things, be so.
The enmity against God of the carnal mind, the rejection of the Lord Jesus,
the governing principle of SELF,
the supreme ascendancy of the world,
the slavery of sin;
indicate, unmistakably, the unrenewed, unregenerate nature from which they spring. We do not expect one to yield the fruits of holiness from an unholy nature.
The life an unbeliever lives is in keeping with the unrenewed heart he possesses. He is of the earth, earthly. It is consistent with his unregenerate nature….
that he should be of the world,
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that he should love the world,
that the world should love him and claim him as its
own,
that the things of the world—its pursuits, its pleasures, its sins; should….
harmonize with his nature, charm his tastes,
delight his senses, and
bind his affections in their spell.
OH! THE RICHES OF THE GRACE OF OUR GOD!
Henry Law, “Family Devotion” 1884
“The riches of God’s grace” Ephesians 1:7
How blessed is the thought that God is rich in grace!
His throne is a throne of grace.
His scepter is a scepter of grace.
His covenant is a covenant of grace.
His thoughts are thoughts of grace.
His ways are ways of grace.
His word is the word of grace.
His treasure house is stored with grace.
Hence all His gifts and manifestations to His people are results of grace.
Grace called Jesus to His work.
Grace found the ransom.
Grace accepted it.
Grace determined who would be redeemed. Grace made them willing in the day of power. Grace keeps them through faith unto salvation.
Oh! the riches of the grace of our God!
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While we have breath let us extol and magnify it.
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UTTER BEGGARY AND COMPLETE BANKRUPTCY
J. C. Philpot
“O visit me with Your salvation.” Psalm 106:4 Salvation only suits the condemned, the lost.
A man must be lost—utterly lost—before he can prize God’s salvation.
And how is he lost? By….
losing all his religion,
losing all his righteousness, losing all his strength, losing all his confidence, losing all his hopes,
losing all that is of the flesh;
losing it by its being taken from him, and stripped away
by the hand of God.
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SEPARATION FROM THE UNGODLY WORLD
Octavius Winslow, “Words of Divine Comfort”
“Therefore, ‘Come out from among them, And be separate,’ says the Lord, ‘Touch no unclean thing. I will receive you.’” 2 Corinthians 6:17
There is not a stronger mark of the Lord’s people than their ‘separation.’ They are….
separated from the world,
separated from their families,
separated from their own righteousness, and often separated from the religious world.
They are a godly people whom the Lord has set apart from all others, that He might set them apart for Himself.
Now, it is this distinctive badge of ‘separateness’ the Lord will have His saints retain in all their Christian
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course. We are very apt to forget it. We…. live in the world,
mix with the world,
hold transactions with the world, and,
in some measure, are guided by the conventional habits of the world.
Still, we have need to be continually reminded that, though living IN the world, and, of necessity, compelled to conform to its proper and lawful customs, we yet are not OF the world. “I have chosen you OUT OF the world,” says the unworldly, loving Savior to His disciples; “therefore the world hates you.” “You are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”
The religion of Christ teaches crucifixion to the world, nonconformity to the world, spiritual and marked separation from….
the world,
its pleasures, its gaieties, its principles, its religion.
We are the professed disciples of an unearthly Christ, the followers of an unworldly Savior.
O my soul! come away from an unclean and defiling world. Lord! by Your cross may I be crucified to the world, and the world to me!
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I am weak and ignorant, full of sin and compassed with infirmity. But I bless God that He has in some measure shown me the power of eternal things, and by free and sovereign grace stopped me in that career of vanity and sin in which, to all outward appearance, I was fast hurrying down to the chambers of death.—J. C. Philpot
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WEARIED, TORN, AND HALF EXPIRING
J. C. Philpot, “Daily Portions”
The poor sheep has gone astray; and having once left the fold, it is pretty sure to have gotten into some strange place or other. It has fallen down a rock; or has rolled into a ditch; or is hidden beneath a bush; or has crept into a cave; or is lying in some deep, distant ravine, where none but an experienced eye and hand can find it out.
Just so with the Lord’s lost sheep. They get into strange places. They fall off rocks, slip into holes, hide among the bushes, and sometimes creep off to die in caverns.
When the sheep has gone astray, the shepherd goes after it to find it. Here he sees a footprint; there a little lock of wool torn off by the thorns.
Every nook he searches; into every corner he looks; until at last he finds the poor sheep wearied, torn, and half expiring, with scarcely strength enough to groan forth its misery. The shepherd does not beat it home, nor thrust the goad into its back; but he gently takes it up, lays it upon his shoulder, and brings it home rejoicing.
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SOME BELOVED IDOL?
J. C. Philpot, “Spiritual Times and Seasons” 1841 “For it is a land of engraved images, and they are mad
over idols.” Jeremiah 50:38
Have we not all in our various ways, set up some beloved idol….
something which engaged our affections,
something which occupied our thoughts,
something to which we devoted all the energies of our minds, something for which we were willing to labor night and
day?
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Be it money,
be it power,
be it esteem of men,
be it respectability,
be it worldly comfort,
be it literary knowledge,
there was a secret setting up of SELF in one or more of its various forms, and a bowing down to it as an idol.
The man of business makes money his god.
The man of pleasure makes the lust of the flesh his god. The proud man makes his adored SELF his god.
The Pharisee makes self-righteousness his god.
The Arminian makes free-will his god.
The Calvinist makes dry doctrine his god.
All in one way or other, however they may differ in the object of their idolatrous worship, agree in this—that they give a preference in their esteem and affection to their peculiar idol, above the one true God.
“The idols shall utterly pass away.” Isaiah 2:18
There is, then, a time to break down these idols which
our fallen nature has set up.
And have not we experienced some measure of this breaking down, both externally and internally?
Have not our idols been in a measure smashed before our eyes, our prospects in life cut up and destroyed, our airy visions of earthly happiness and our romantic paradises dissolved into thin air, our creature-hopes dashed, our youthful affections blighted, and the objects from which we had fondly hoped to reap an enduring harvest of delight removed from our eyes?
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And likewise, as to our religion….
our good opinion of ourselves,
our piety and holiness,
our wisdom and our knowledge, our understanding and our abilities, our consistency and uprightness;
have they not all been broken down, and made a heap of ruins before our eyesf?
THAT MONSTROUS CREATURE WITHIN US!
J. C. Philpot, “Spiritual Times and Seasons” 1841 “I abhor the pride of Jacob.” Amos 6:8
O cursed pride, that is ever lifting up its head in our hearts! Pride would even pull down God that it might sit upon His throne. Pride would trample under foot the holiest things to exalt itself!
Pride is that monstrous creature within us, of such ravenous and indiscriminate gluttony, that the more it devours, the more it craves!
Pride is that chameleon which assumes every color; that actor which can play every part; and yet which is faithful to no one object or purpose, but to exalt and glorify self!
“I will put an end to the pride of the mighty.” “God will bring down their pride.” Ezek. 7:24, Isaiah 25:11
God means to kill man’s pride! And oh, what cutting weapons the Lord will sometimes make use of to kill a man’s pride!
How He will bring him sometimes into the depths of temporal poverty, that He may make a stab at his worldly pride!
How He will bring to light the iniquities of his youth, that He may mortify his self-righteous pride!
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How He will allow sin to break forth, if not openly, yet so powerfully within, that piercing convictions shall kill his spiritual pride!
And what deep discoveries of internal corruption will the Lord sometimes employ, to dig down to the root, and cut off the core of that poisonous tree, pride!
The Searcher of hearts dissects and anatomizes this inbred evil, cuts down to it through the quivering and bleeding flesh, and pursues with His keen knife its multiplied windings and ramifications.
“The day is coming when your pride will be brought low and the Lord alone will be exalted.” Isaiah 2:11
“The loftiness of man shall be bowed down, And the haughtiness of men shall be brought low; And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.” Isaiah 2:17
“The Lord Almighty has purposed it, to stain the pride of all glory, to bring into contempt all the honorable of the earth.” Isaiah 23:9 f
SALVATION
J. C. Philpot, “The Accuser of the Brethren”
“They cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation be to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’” Revelation 7:10
The sweetest song that heaven ever proclaimed, the most blessed note that ever melted the soul, is salvation.
Saved FROM….
death and hell;
the worm which never dies;
the fire which is never quenched;
the sulphurous flames of the bottomless pit;
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the companionship of tormenting fiends and
all the foul wretches under which earth has groaned; blaspheming God in unutterable woe;
an eternity of misery without end or hope!
Saved INTO….
heaven;
the sight of Jesus as He is;
perfect holiness and happiness;
the blissful company of holy angels and glorified saints;
and all this during the countless ages of a blessed eternity!
What tongue of men or angels can describe the millionth part of what is contained in the word salvation?
THE BEST OF MEN ARE ONLY MEN AT THEIR VERY BEST
J. C. Ryle, “The Gospel of Matthew” 1856
“While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them. Behold, a voice out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him.’” Matthew 17:5
Let us see in these words a striking lesson to the whole Church of Christ. There is a constant tendency in human nature to “hear man.” Bishops, priests, deacons, popes, cardinals, councils, preachers, and ministers,
are continually exalted to a place which God never intended them to fill, and made practically to usurp the honor of Christ.
Against this tendency let us all watch, and be on our guard. Let these solemn words of the vision ever ring in our ears, “Listen to Christ!”
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The best of men are only men at their very best—patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, church fathers, reformers, puritans—all, all are sinners, who need a Savior.
They may be holy, useful, honorable in their place; but they are sinners after all. They must never be allowed to stand between us and Christ.
He alone is the Son, in whom the Father is well pleased.
He alone is sealed and appointed to give the bread of life.
He alone “hold the keys of death and the grave” in His hands.
Let us take heed that we hear His voice, and follow Him.
Let us value all religious teaching just in proportion as it leads us to Jesus. The sum and substance of saving religion is to “listen to Christ!”
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GODLY SORROW
J. C. Philpot, “What Is It That Saves a Soul?”
Godly sorrow springs from a view of a suffering Savior, and manifests itself by….
hatred of self,
abhorrence of sin,
groaning over our backslidings,
grief of soul for being so often entangled by our lusts
and passions,
and is accompanied by….
softness,
meltings of heart,
flowings of love to the Redeemer, indignation against ourselves,
and earnest desires never to sin more.
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THE SOUL’S NATURAL ELEMENT
J. C. Philpot, “What Is It That Saves a Soul?”
Before the soul can know anything about salvation, it must learn deeply and experimentally the nature of sin, and of itself, as stained and polluted by sin.
It is proud, and needs to be humbled.
It is careless, and needs to be awakened. It is alive, and needs to be killed.
It is full, and requires to be emptied.
It is whole, and needs to be wounded.
It is clothed, and requires to be stripped.
The soul is, by nature….
self-righteous;
self-seeking;
buried deep in worldliness and carnality; utterly blind and ignorant;
filled with….
presumption, arrogance, conceit
and enmity;
hateful to all that is heavenly and spiritual.
Sin, in all its various forms, is the soul’s natural element.
Some of the features of the unregenerate nature of man are….
covetousness,
lust,
worldly pleasure,
desire of the praise of men,
an insatiable thirst after self-advancement,
a complete abandonment to all that can please and
gratify every new desire of the heart,
an utter contempt and abhorrence of everything that
restrains or defeats its mad pursuit of what it loves.
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Education, moral restraints, or the force of habit, may restrain the outbreaking of inward corruption, and dam back the mighty stream of indwelling sin, so that it shall not burst all its bounds, and desolate the land. But no moral check can alter human nature. A chained tiger is a tiger still.
“The Ethiopian cannot change his skin, nor the leopard his spots.”
To make man the direct contrary of what he originally is—to make him….
love God instead of hating Him;
fear God, instead of mocking Him;
obey God, instead of rebelling against Him;
to do this mighty work, and to effect this wonderful change, requires the implantation of a new nature by the immediate hand of God Himself.
Natural light,
natural love,
natural faith,
natural obedience,
in a word, all natural religion is here useless and ineffectual.
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BUT OUR COWARD FLESH SHRINKS FROM THEM!
J. C. Philpot, “The Afflicted Remnant” 1845 “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have chosen
you in the furnace of affliction.” Isaiah 48:10
What benefit is there in afflictions?
Does God send them without an object in view?
Do they come merely, as the men of the world think, by chance? No! There is benefit intended by them.
The branch cannot bear fruit unless it be pruned.
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The love of sin cannot be cast out; the soul cannot be meekened, humbled, softened, and made contrite; the world cannot be embittered; the things of time and sense cannot be stripped of their false hue and their magic appearance—except through affliction.
Our greatest blessings usually spring from our greatest afflictions—they prepare the heart to receive them; they empty the vessel of the poisonous ingredients which have filled it, and fit it to receive gospel wine and milk.
To be without these afflictions, these griefs, these trials, these temptations—is to write ourselves destitute of grace.
But our coward flesh shrinks from them!
We are willing to walk to heaven—but not to walk there in God’s way. Though we see in the Scripture that the path to glory is a rough and rugged way; yet when our feet are planted in that painful and trying path, we shrink back—our coward flesh refuses to walk in that road.
God therefore, as a sovereign, brings those afflictions upon us which He sees most fit for our profit and His glory, without ever consulting us, without ever allowing us a choice in the matter.
And He will generally cause our afflictions to come from the most unexpected source, and in a way most cutting to our feelings—in the way that of all others we would least have chosen—and yet in a way which of all others, is most for our profit.
God deals with us like a surgeon dealing with a diseased organ. How painful the operation!
How deep the knife cuts!
How long it may be before the wound is healed! Yet every stroke of the knife is indispensable!
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A skillful and faithful surgeon would not do his duty if he did not dissect it to the very bottom.
As pain before healing is necessary, and must be produced by the knife; so spiritually, we must be wounded and cut in our souls, as long, and as deeply as God sees needful, that in His own time we may receive the consolation.
Do the afflictions we pass through humble us?
Do they deaden the love of the world in our hearts?
Do they purge out hypocrisy?
Do they bring us more earnestly to the throne of grace?
Do they reveal to us sins that we have not before seen?
Do they penetrate into our very hearts?
Do they lay bare the corrupt fountain that we carry within us?
Do they search and test us before a heart-searching God? Do they meeken and soften our spirit?
THE FILTHY HOLES AND PUDDLES IN WHICH IT GROVELS
Joseph Philpot, “Daily Words for Zion’s Wayfarers”
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9
The sin of our fallen nature is a very mysterious thing.
We read of “the mystery of iniquity.” Sin has depths which no human plumbline ever fathomed, and lengths which no mortal measuring line ever yet measured out.
Thus the way in which sin sometimes seems to sleep; and at other times to awake with renewed strength….
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its active, irritable, impatient, restless nature; the many shapes and colors it wears;
the filthy holes and puddles in which it grovels; the corners into which it creeps;
its deceitfulness;
its hypocrisy;
its craftiness;
its persuasiveness;
its intense selfishness; its utter recklessness; its desperate madness; its insatiable greediness;
are secrets, painful secrets, only learned by bitter experience.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9
THE LORD’S SECRET POWER IN OUR SOULS?
J. C. Philpot, “Power Given to the Faint,” 1845 “He gives power to the faint; and to him who has no
might he increases strength.” Isaiah 40:29
The Lord’s people are often in the state that they have no might. All their power seems exhausted, and their strength completely drained away; sin appears to have gotten the mastery over them; and they feel as if they had neither will nor ability to run the race set before them, or persevere in the way of the Lord.
Now what has kept us to this day? Some of you have made a profession ten, twenty, thirty, or forty years.
What has kept us?
When powerful temptations were spread for our feet, what preserved us from falling headlong into them?
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When we felt the workings of strong lusts, what kept us from being altogether carried captive by them?
When we look at the difficulties of the way, the perplexities which our souls have had to grapple with, the persecutions and hard blows from sinners and saints that we have had to encounter—what has still kept in us a desire to fear God, and a heart in some measure tender before Him?
When we view the….
infidelity,
unbelief,
carnality, worldly-mindedness, hypocrisy,
pride, and
presumption of our fallen nature,
what has kept us still….
believing,
hoping,
loving,
longing,
and looking to the Lord?
When we think of our….
deadness,
coldness,
torpidity,
rebelliousness,
perverseness,
love to evil,
aversion to good, and
all the abounding corruptions of our nature,
what has kept us from giving up the very profession of religion, and swimming down the powerful current that has so long and so often threatened to sweep us utterly
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from the Lord? Is it not the putting forth of the Lord’s secret power in our souls?
Can we not look back, and recall to mind our first religious companions; those with whom we started in the race; those whom we perhaps envied for their greater piety, zeal, holiness, and earnestness; and with which we painfully contrasted our own sluggishness and carnality; admiring them, and condemning ourselves?
Where are they all, or the greater part of them?
Some have embraced soul-destroying errors; others are buried in a worldly religious system; and others are wrapped up in delusion and fleshly confidence.
Thus, while most have fallen into the snares of the devil; God, by putting forth His secret power in the hearts of His fainting ones, keeps His fear alive in their souls; holds up their goings in His paths that their footsteps slip not; brings them out of all their temptations and troubles; delivers them from every evil work; and preserves them unto His heavenly kingdom. He thus secures the salvation of His people by His own free grace.
How sweet and precious it is….
to have our strength renewed;
to have fresh grace brought into the heart;
to feel the mysterious sensations of renovated life; to feel the everlasting arms supporting the soul….
fighting our battles for us,
subduing our enemies,
overcoming our lusts,
breaking our snares, and
delivering us out of our temptations!
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THE WORLDLING’S HAPPINESS
Mary Winslow
I have been thinking of the worldling’s happiness…. it never satisfies;
it affords no real enjoyment;
it does not reach the soul.
Ten thousand worlds could not satisfy me, now that I have tasted the unspeakably precious love of Christ!
GOD’S HOUSE?
J. C. Philpot, “Servants and Sons” 1841
In the New Testament Scriptures, we find mention made in several places of “the house of the God.”
The New Testament never, in any one instance, means, by “the house of God,” any material building.
It has come to pass, through the traditions received from the fathers, that….
buildings erected by man,
collections of bricks and mortar,
piles of squared and cemented stones,
are often called “the house of God.”
In ancient Popish times they invested a consecrated building with the title of “God’s house,” thus endeavoring to make it appear as though it were a holy place in which God specially dwelt. They thus drew off the minds of the people from any internal communion with God, and possessed them with the idea that He was only to be found in some holy spot, consecrated and sanctified by rites and ceremonies.
The same leaven of the Pharisees has infected the Church of England; and thus she calls her consecrated
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buildings, her piles of stone and cement, “churches,” and “houses of God.”
And even those who profess a purer faith, who dissent from her unscriptural forms, have learned to adopt the same carnal language, and even they, through a misunderstanding of what “the house of God” really is, will call such a building as we are assembled in this morning, “the house of God.”
How frequently does the expression drop from the pulpit, and how continually is it heard at the prayer meeting, “coming up to the house of God,” as though any building now erected by human hands could be called the house of the living God.
It arises from a misunderstanding of the Scriptures, and is much fostered by that priestcraft which is in the human heart, inciting us to believe that God is to be found only in certain buildings set apart for His service.
New Testament believers met in HOMES.
“the church that meets in their home.” Rom. 16 “the assembly that is in their house.” 1 Cor. 16:19 “the church in her house.” Col. 4:15
“the church that meets in your house.” Phil. 1:2
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WHEN THE HOLY SPIRIT PREACHES THE GOSPEL
J. C. Philpot
We often know the theory of the gospel, before we know
the experience of the gospel.
We often receive the doctrines of grace into our judgment,
before we receive the grace of the doctrines into our soul.
We therefore need to be….
brought down, humbled,
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tried,
stripped of every prop;
that the gospel may be to us….
more than a sound, more than a name, more than a theory, more than a doctrine, more than a system, more than a creed;
that it may be….
soul enjoyment, soul blessing,
and soul salvation.
When the Holy Spirit preaches the gospel to the poor in spirit, the humbled, stripped, and tried—it is a gospel of glad tidings indeed to the sinner’s broken heart.
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THE CRY OF WEARY, CARE WORN HUMANITY
John MacDuff, “Hospice of the Pilgrim” 1891
“Oh, where can rest be found?”
This is the cry of weary, care worn humanity.
This is the cry embracing every nation and every climate, from the yearnings of heathendom to the longings and aspirations of the present hour.
From the tumultuous sea of the world’s unrest, this cry has gone up like a dirge of baffled souls, “Oh, where can rest be found?”
“Come unto me,” is the address of many siren voices, titillating tones of questionable or forbidden pleasure, leading only to unrest, disquiet, heart weariness, life failure—tinted soap bubbles with a momentary iridescence, then collapsing.
–340–

The existence of many is a pursuit after spurious and counterfeit rest, misnamed happiness; an aimless, vapid life of pleasure; engrossed with objects which bring with them no sense of satisfaction; a dull, weary round on the world’s monotonous treadmill.
Some strive to find rest through the gateway of ethical systems and philosophic tenets.
Others, through the gateway of human merit.
Others through…. ceremonial observances, fasts and vigils,
penances and pilgrimages, rites and ceremonies, creeds and dogmas.
These, and such as these, are alike spurious and unavailing.
“Oh, where can rest be found?”
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
WE GET ENTANGLED WITH SOME IDOL
J. C. Philpot
Wherever the grace of God is, it constrains its partaker to desire to live to His honor and glory.
But he soon finds the difficulty of so doing.
Such is….
the weakness of the flesh,
the power of sin,
the subtlety of Satan,
the strength of temptation, and
the snares spread on every side for our feet,
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–341–

that we can neither do what we want, nor be what we want. Before we are well aware, we get entangled with some idol, or drawn aside into some indulgence of the flesh, which brings darkness into the mind, and may cut us out some bitter work for the rest of our days.
But we thus learn not only the weakness of the flesh, but where and in whom all our strength lies.
And as the grace of the Lord Jesus, in its suitability, in its sufficiency and its super-aboundings, becomes manifested in and by the weakness of the flesh; a sense of His wondrous love and care in so bearing with us, in so pitying our case, and manifesting mercy where we might justly expect wrath, constrains us with a holy obligation to walk in His fear and to live to His praise.
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THE SINS AND SLIPS OF THE SAINTS?
J. C. Philpot
The Scriptures faithfully record the falls of believers…. the drunkenness of Noah,
the incest of Lot,
the unbelief of Abraham,
the peevishness of Moses, the adultery of David,
the idolatry of Solomon, the pride of Hezekiah,
the cowardice of Mark and
the cursing and swearing of Peter.
But why has the Holy Spirit left on record the sins and slips of the saints?
First, that it might teach us that they were saved by grace as poor, lost, and ruined sinners; in the same way as we hope to be saved.
–342–

Secondly, that their slips and falls might be so many beacons and warnings, to guard the people of God against being overtaken by the same sins; as the apostle speaks, “All these events happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us.”
And thirdly, that the people of God, should they be overtaken by sin, might not be cast into despair; but that from seeing recorded in the Scripture the slips and failings of the saints of old, they might be lifted up from their despondency, and brought once more to hope in the Lord.
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CAIN, ESAU, SAUL, AHAB, JUDAS
J. C. Philpot
“For godly sorrow works repentance to salvation, which brings no regret. But the sorrow of the world works death.” 2 Corinthians 7:10
These two kinds of repentance are to be carefully distinguished from each other; though they are often sadly confounded. Cain, Esau, Saul, Ahab, Judas, all repented. But their repentance was the remorse of natural conscience, not the godly sorrow of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. They trembled before God as an angry Judge, but were not melted into contrition before Him as a forgiving Father.
They neither hated their sins nor forsook them. They neither loved holiness nor sought it.
Cain went out from the presence of the Lord. Esau plotted Jacob’s death.
Saul consulted the witch of Endor.
Ahab put honest Micaiah into prison.
Judas hanged himself.
–343–

How different from this forced and false repentance of a reprobate, is the repentance of a child of God; that true repentance for sin, that godly sorrow, that holy mourning which flows from the Spirit’s gracious operations!
Godly sorrow does not spring from a sense of the wrath of God in a broken law, but from His mercy in a blessed gospel; from a view by faith of the sufferings of Christ in the garden and on the cross; from a manifestation of pardoning love; and is always attended with self- loathing and self-abhorrence; with deep and unreserved confession of sin and forsaking it; with most hearty, sincere and earnest petitions to be kept from all evil; and a holy longing to live to the praise and glory of God.
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HERE, AND HERE ALONE
J. C. Philpot
Standing then at the cross of our adorable Lord, we may see…. the law thoroughly fulfilled,
its curse fully endured,
its penalties wholly removed,
sin eternally put away,
the justice of God amply satisfied,
all His perfections gloriously harmonized, reconciliation completely effected, redemption graciously accomplished,
and the church everlastingly saved.
Here, and here alone, we see sin in its blackest colors, and holiness in its most attractive beauties.
Here, and here alone, we see the love of God in its tenderest form, and the anger of God in its deepest expression.
Here, and here alone, we see the eternal and unalterable displeasure of the Almighty against sin, and the rigid
–344–

demands of His inflexible justice, and yet the tender compassion and boundless love of His heart to the election of grace.
Here, and here alone, are obtained pardon and peace. Here, and here alone, penitential grief and godly sorrow
flow from heart and eyes.
Here, and here alone, is….
sin subdued and mortified,
holiness communicated,
death vanquished,
Satan put to flight, and
happiness and heaven begun in the soul.
What a holy meeting-place for repenting sinners and a sin-pardoning God! What a healing-place for guilty, yet repenting and returning backsliders!
What a door of hope in the valley of Achor for the self- condemned and self-abhorred! What a safe spot for seeking souls! And what a blessed resorting-place for the whole family of grace in this valley of grief and sorrow.
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EXPERIMENTAL KNOWLEDGE
J. C. Philpot, “Letters & Memoirs” 1840
“This is eternal life, that they should know You, the only true
God, and Him whom You sent, Jesus Christ.” John 17:3
An experimental knowledge of Christ in the soul, is the only relief for sin’s….
poverty,
guilt,
leprosy, bankruptcy, and damnation.
–345–

This is the true way of preaching Christ crucified; not the mere doctrine of the Cross, but a crucified Jesus experimentally known to the soul.
I am deeply conscious of my own…. baseness,
ignorance,
blindness
and folly.
But my malady is too deeply rooted to be healed by dry doctrines and speculative theological opinions.
The blood of the Lamb, spiritually and supernaturally sprinkled and applied, is the only healing balm for a sin-
sick soul.
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IT WAS HIS OWN LOVE THAT FASTENED HIM THERE!
Octavius Winslow, “Morning Thoughts” “Jesus therefore, knowing all the things that were
coming on Him.” John 18:4
His voluntariness was not founded on ignorance.
He well knew what the covenant of redemption involved; what stern justice demanded. The entire scene of His humiliation was before Him, in all its dark and somber hues….
the manger,
the bloodthirsty king,
the scorn and ridicule of His countrymen, the unbelief of His own kinsmen,
the mental agony of Gethsemane,
the bloody sweat,
the bitter cup,
the waywardness of His disciples,
–346–

the betrayal of one,
the denial of another,
the forsaking of all,
the mock trial,
the purple robe,
the crown of thorns,
the infuriated cries, “Away with Him, away with Him!
Crucify Him, crucify Him!” the heavy cross,
the painful crucifixion,
the cruel taunts,
the vinegar and the gall,
the hidings of His Father’s countenance, the concentrated horrors of the curse, the last cry of anguish,
the falling of the head,
the giving up the spirit;
all, all was before the omniscient mind of the Son of God, with vividness equal to its reality. And yet He willingly rushed to the rescue of ruined man! He voluntarily, though He knew the price of pardon was His blood, gave Himself up thus to the bitter, bitter agony.
And did He regret that He had undertaken the work? Never!
Every step He took from Bethlehem to Calvary did but unfold the willingness of Jesus to die.
Oh, how amazing was the love of Jesus!
This, this was the secret why He did not spare His own life. He loved sinners too well.
He loved us better than Himself. With all our sinfulness, guilt, wretchedness, and poverty; He yet loved us so much as to give Himself an offering and sacrifice unto God for us. Here was the springhead where these
–347–

streams of mercy flowed from. This was the gushing fountain that was opened when He died.
And when they taunted Him and said, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself,” oh, what a reply did His silence give, “I came not to save Myself, but My people. I hang here, not for My own sins, but for theirs. I could save Myself, but I came to give My life a ransom for many.”
They thought the nails alone kept Him to the cross. He knew it was His own love that fastened Him there!
Behold the strength of Immanuel’s love! Come, fall prostrate, adore and worship Him! Oh, what love was His!
Oh the depth!
Do not content not yourself with standing upon the shore of this ocean; enter into it, drink largely from it. It is for you, if you but feel….
your nothingness, your poverty, your vileness;
this ocean is for you!
It is not for angels, it is for men.
It is not for the righteous, but for sinners.
Then drink to the full from the love of Jesus.
Do not be satisfied with small supplies. Take a large vessel to the fountain.
The larger the demand, the larger the supply. The more needy, the more welcome.
The more vile, the more fit.
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–348–

FRIEND, CAN YOU UNDERSTAND MY RIDDLE?
J. C. Philpot, “Letters & Memoirs”
I find that sin has such power over me, that though I call on the Lord again and again for deliverance, I seem to be as weak as ever when temptation comes.
If a window were placed in my bosom, what filth and vileness would be seen by all.
“O you hideous monster sin,
What a curse have you brought in!”
I love it; I hate it.
I want to be delivered from the power of it; and yet am not satisfied without drinking down its poisoned sweets.
Sin is my hourly companion; and my daily curse.
Sin is the breath of my mouth; and the cause of my groans.
Sin is my incentive to prayer; and my hinderer of it.
Sin made my Savior suffer; and makes my Savior precious.
Sin spoils every pleasure; and adds a sting to every pain. Sin fits a soul for heaven; and ripens a soul for hell. Friend, can you understand my riddle?
Is your heart, as my heart?
Alas! Alas! We feel sin’s power daily and hourly.
We sigh and groan at times, to be delivered from the giant strength of our corruptions, which seem to carry us captive at their will. Though sin is a sweet morsel to our carnal mind, it grieves our soul.
I am sure I must be a monument of grace and mercy, if saved from the guilt, curse, and power of sin!
–349–

“For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing. For desire is present with me, but I don’t find it doing that which is good. For the good which I desire, I don’t do; but the evil which I don’t desire, that I practice. But if what I don’t desire, that I do, it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the law, that, to me, while I desire to do good, evil is present. For I delight in God’s law after the inward man, but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity under the law of sin which is in my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will deliver me out of the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ, our Lord. So then I of myself with the mind, indeed serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.”—Romans 7:18-25
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IT IS THE HAND OF HIM WHO WAS CRUCIFIED!
J. C. Ryle
Are you a distressed believer?
Is your heart….
pressed down with sickness, tried with disappointments, overburdened with cares?
To you I say, “Behold the cross of Christ!” Think whose hand it is that chastens you!
Think whose hand is measuring to you the cup of bitterness which you are now drinking!
It is the hand of Him who was crucified!
It is the same hand that in love to your soul, was nailed to the accursed tree!
Surely that thought should comfort and encourage you.
–350–

Surely you should say to yourself, “A crucified Savior will never lay upon me anything that is not good for me. There is a needs be. It must be well.”
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MY GREATEST ENEMY?
J. C. Philpot, “Israel’s Happiness” 1859
I have ever found myself to be my greatest enemy. I never had a foe that troubled me so much as my own heart; nor has any one ever wrought me half the mischief or given me half the plague that I have felt and known within.
And it is a daily sense of this which makes me dread myself more than anybody that walks upon the face of the earth!
Keep a watchful eye upon every inward foe; and if you fight, fight against the enemy that lurks and works in
your own breast!
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WILT THOU PURSUE THY WORM TO DEATH?
by John Newton
I asked the Lord that I might grow In faith, and love, and every grace; Might more of His salvation know, And seek more earnestly His face.
’Twas He who taught me thus to pray, And He, I trust, has answered prayer; But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair.
I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He’d answer my request; And, by His love’s constraining power, Subdue my sins, and give me rest.
–351–

Instead of this, He made me feel The hidden evils of my heart, And let the angry powers of hell, Assault my soul in every part.
Yea, more, with His own hand He seemed Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed, Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.
“Lord, why is this?” I trembled cried; “Wilt Thou pursue Thy worm to death?” “’Tis in this way,” the Lord replied, “I answer prayer for grace and faith.”
“These inward trials I employ,
From self and pride to set thee free; And break thy schemes of earthly joy, That thou mayst seek thy all in Me.”
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THERE ARE MANY DEVICES IN A MAN’S HEART
Philpot, “Man’s Devices and the Lord’s Counsel” “There are many plans in a man’s heart, But the Lord’s
counsel will prevail.” Proverbs 19:21
The devices of our heart are generally to find some easy, smooth, flowery path. Whatever benefits we have derived from affliction, whatever mercies we have experienced in tribulation, the flesh hates and shrinks from such a path with complete abhorrence.
And, therefore, there is always a secret devising in a man’s heart….
to escape the cross,
to avoid affliction, and
to walk in some flowery meadow,
away from the rough road which cuts his feet, and wearies his limbs.
–352–

Another “device in a man’s heart” is, that he shall have worldly prosperity; that his children shall grow up around him, and when they grow up, he shall be able to provide for them in a way which shall be best suited to their station in life; that they shall enjoy health and strength and success; and that there shall not be any cutting affliction in his family, or fiery trial to pass through.
Now these devices the Lord frustrates. What grief, what affliction, what trouble, is the Lord continually bringing into some families! Their dearest objects of affection removed from them, at the very moment when they seemed clasped nearest around their earts!
And those who are spared, perhaps, growing up in such a searedness of conscience and hardness of heart, and, perhaps, profligacy of life, that even their very presence is often a burden to their parents instead of a blessing; and the very children who should be their comfort, become thorns and briars in their sides!
Oh, how the Lord overturns and brings to nothing the “devices of a man’s heart” to make a paradise hereupon earth.
When a man is brought to the right spot, and is in a right mind to trace out the Lord’s dealings with him from the first, he sees it was a kind hand which “blasted his gourds, and laid them low;” it was a kind hand that swept away his worldly prospects; which reduced him to natural as well as to spiritual poverty; which led him into exercises, trials, sorrows, griefs, and tribulations; because, in those trials he has found the Lord, more or less, experimentally precious.
“There are many devices in a man’s heart.”
Now you have all your devices; that busy workshop is
continually putting out some new pattern; some new
–353–

fashion is continually starting forth from the depths of that ingenious manufactory which you carry about with you; and you are wanting this, and expecting that, and building up airy castles, and looking for that which shall never come to pass; for “there are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.”
And so far as you are children of God, that counsel is a counsel of wisdom and mercy. The purposes of God’s heart are purposes of love and affection toward you, and therefore you may bless and praise God, that whatever be the devices of your hearts against God’s counsel, they shall be frustrated, that He may do His will and fulfill all His good pleasure.
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ALL ARE MORE OR LESS DEEPLY INFECTED WITH IT
J. C. Philpot, “Life Given for a Prey” 1841
“Seek you great things for yourself? Don’t seek them.” Jeremiah 45:5
As we are led aside by the powerful workings of our corrupt nature, we are often seeking great things for ourselves….
riches,
worldly comforts, respectability.
To be honored, admired, and esteemed by men, are the objects most passionately sought after by the world. And so far as the children of God are under the influence of a worldly principle, do they secretly desire similar things.
Nor does this ambition depend upon station in life.
All are more or less deeply infected with it, until delivered by the grace of God. The poorest man in these towns
–354–

has a secret desire in his soul after “great things,” and a secret plotting in his mind how he may obtain them.
But the Lord is determined that His people shall not have great things. He has purposed to pour contempt upon all the pride of man. He therefore nips all their hopes in the bud, crushes their flattering prospects, and makes them for the most part, poor, needy, and despised in this world.
Whatever schemes or projects the Lord’s people may devise that they may prosper and get on in the world, He rarely allows their plans to thrive. He knows well to what consequences it would lead; that this ivy creeping round the stem would, as it were, suffocate and strangle the tree.
The more that worldly goods increase….
the more the heart is fixed upon them,
the more the affections are set upon idols,
the more is the heart drawn away from the Lord.
He will not allow His people to have their portion here below. He has in store for them a better city, that is a heavenly one, and therefore will not allow them to build and plant below the skies.
A child of God may be secretly aiming at great things, such as respectability, bettering his condition in life, rising step by step in the scale of society. But the Lord will usually….
disappoint these plans, defeat these projects, wither these gourds,
and blight these prospects.
He may reduce him to poverty, as He did Job; smite him with sickness, as He did Lazarus and Hezekiah; take away wife and children, as in the case of Ezekiel and Jacob; or He may bring trouble and distress into his
–355–

mind by shooting an arrow out of His unerring bow into the conscience.
God has a certain purpose to effect by bringing this trouble, and that is to pull him down from “seeking great things.” For what is the secret root of this ambition? Is it not the pride of the heart? When the Lord, then, would lay this ambition low, He makes a blow at the root. He strips away fancied hopes, and breaks down rotten props; the great things (so through ignorance esteemed) sought for previously, and perhaps obtained, fall to pieces.
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HIS HEAVEN MINE; MY HELL HIS!
Octavius Winslow
It is astonishing that I should so be one with Christ, that all that He is becomes mine; and all that I am becomes His!
His glory mine; my humiliation His! His righteousness mine; my guilt His! His joy mine; my sorrow His!
His riches mine; my poverty His!
His life mine; my death His!
His heaven mine; my hell His!
The daily walk of faith is a continuous development of the wonders of this wondrous truth.
That in traveling to Him empty; I should return from Him full.
That in going to Him weak; I should come away from Him strong.
–356–

That in bending my steps to Him in all darkness, perplexity, and grief; I should retrace them all light, and
joy, and gladness.
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CONTINUAL SALVATION?
Joseph Philpot
“I have called to You. Save me! I will obey Your statutes.” Psalm 119:146
If you know anything for yourself, inwardly and experimentally of….
the evils of your heart,
the power of sin,
the strength of temptation,
the subtlety of your unwearied foe,
and that daily conflict between nature and grace, the flesh and the spirit, which is the peculiar mark of the living family of heaven; you will find and feel your need of salvation as a daily reality. There is present salvation: an inward, experimental, and continual salvation communicated out of the fullness of Christ as a risen Mediator.
You need to be daily and almost hourly saved from the….
guilt, filth, power, love, and practice
of indwelling sin.
“I have called to You. Save me! I will obey Your
statutes.” Psalm 119:14f6 –357–

MINISTERS ARE OFTEN DESIROUS OF….
J. C. Philpot, “Life Given for a Prey” 1841
“Seek you great things for yourself? Don’t seek them.” Jeremiah 45:5
Ministers are often desirous of….
a greater gift in preaching,
a readier utterance,
a more abundant variety,
a more striking delivery than they possess.
And this, not for the glory of God, but for the glory of the creature. Not that praise may be given God, but that pride, cursed pride, may be gratified; that they may be admired by men.
My desire and aim is….
not to deceive souls by flattery;
not to please any party;
not to minister to any man’s pride or presumption;
but simply and sincerely, with an eye to God’s glory, with His fear working in my heart, to speak to the edification of His people.
A minister who stands up with any other motives, and aiming at any other ends than the glory of God, and the edification of His people, bears no scriptural marks that he has been sent into the vineyard by God Himself.
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HAVE WE NOTHING TO GIVE TO CHRIST?
J. C. Philpot, “Daily Words for Zion’s Wayfarers”
Have we nothing to give to Christ?
Yes!
Our sins, our sorrows, our burdens,
–358–

our trials, and above all
the salvation and sanctification of our souls.
And what has He to give us? What? Why…. everything worth having!
everything worth a moment’s anxious thought! everything for time and eternity!
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O SELF! SELF!
J. C. Philpot, “Letters & Memoirs”
Oh, to be kept from myself; my…. vile,
proud,
lustful, hypocritical, worldly, covetous, presumptuous, obscene self.
O self! Self!
Your desperate wickedness,
your depravity,
your love of sin,
your abominable pollutions,
your monstrous heart wickedness, your wretched deadness, hardness, blindness, and indifference.
You are a treacherous villain, and, I fear, always will be
such!
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–359–

HE WILL BRUISE HIS DARLING SON
by Francis Covell, 1875
“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was on him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
What are we?
We are only lumps of sin and dirt.
But see the eternal love of God towards sinful men.
His love set His wisdom to work how to save these sinful and sinning creatures from the burning pit!
It pleased the Lord Himself to bruise His Son.
He thrust the sword of justice into the heart of His own dear Son, that mercy might flow to the “objects of His mercy, whom He prepared in advance for glory.”
His dear Son must suffer that they might be spared.
There was such love in God towards sinful men that many waters could not quench it. He did not spare His Son one iota. The Darling of heaven cried out, “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me!”
But that we might go eternally free, and that God might look on us in justice and holiness with smiles and kisses; He bruised His own Son.
Jesus bore thousands of hells in His own sufferings in the garden and on the tree; and the Father never withdrew the sword until He cried out, “It is finished!”
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us!” to save us from a burning pit; to bring us to the heights of bliss!
O the depths of God’s love!
–360–

If He will pardon sin; if He will save a wretch, a rebel, a man damned by the law; if He will let His heart’s love run out to save him from what he deserves; then He must part with the love of His heart, the joy of His soul, His only begotten Son!
Will He do that?
Is His love so surprisingly great, boundless, full, and free, that to save an enemy, a vile and a cursed sinner, He will bruise His darling Son?
He will! “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief.” Isaiah 53:10
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–361–

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