Grace Gems Collection

Grace Gems Collection 2006

Grace Gems Collection 2006
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The text has been revised for contemporary readers.
2007 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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IT WAS NOT THE NAILS!
J. C. Philpot
“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Mark 15:34
It was not the nails driven through His hands and feet; it was not the crown of thorns placed upon His brow; it was not the stripes which mangled His back; it was not the languor and faintness under which He suffered— which caused the Lord to die.
It was not the mere bodily agony of the cross; it was not the mere pain, though most acute and severe, of the nails driven through His sacred hands and feet. It was not the being stretched upon the cross six hours that constituted the chief part of the Redeemer’s suffering. But it was the almost intolerable load of imputed sin—the imputed sins of millions. It was the tremendous pouring of the wrath of God into His holy soul; it was the hiding of His Father’s face, and the very pangs of hell that there caught hold of Him.
Our suffering Savior drank the cup of the wrath of God to the very dregs—when our vile, dreadful, and horrible sins were laid upon Him!
“Yet we esteemed Him stricken, struck of God, and afflicted.” Isaiah 53:4
“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; he has put Him to grief: when You shall make His soul an offering for
sin….” Isaiah 53:10
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WAVE UPON WAVE OF GRACE
A Puritan Prayer
O God of grace, Teach me to know that grace precedes, accompanies, and follows my salvation; that it sustains the redeemed soul, that not one link of its chain can ever break!
From Calvary’s cross, wave upon wave of grace…. reaches me,
deals with my sin,
washes me clean,
renews my heart,
strengthens my will,
draws out my affection,
kindles a flame in my soul,
rules throughout my inner man, consecrates my every thought, word, work, teaches me Your immeasurable love.
How great are my privileges in Christ Jesus!
Without Him I stand far off, a stranger, an outcast. In Him I draw near and touch His kingly scepter!
Without Him I dare not lift up my guilty eyes. In Him I gaze upon my Father-God and friend!
Without Him I hide my lips in trembling shame. In Him I open my mouth in petition and praise!
Without Him all is wrath and consuming fire. In Him is all love, and the repose of my soul!
Without Him is gaping hell below me, and eternal anguish.
In Him its gates are barred to me by His precious blood!
Without Him darkness spreads its horrors before me. In Him an eternity of glory is my boundless horizon!
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Without Him all within me is terror and dismay.
In Him every accusation is charmed into joy and peace!
Praise be to You for grace, and for the unspeakable gift of Jesus!
“By the grace of God I am what I am!” 1 Cor. 15:10
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EVERY NEW TRIAL, AND EVERY FRESH CROSS
Mary Winslow
Every new trial, and every fresh cross, drives me into the very bosom of Jesus; and it seems as if I could lie there, and feel the very throbbings of His loving heart. I am His, and in His own loving hands, and can fully trust Him for all.
In the cup of trial we are called to drink, there is no wrath—all is love, though faith may be tried, and we may for a season weep.
Whatever draws or drives us to Christ is a mighty blessing. How needful are these high winds and storms to cause us to cling to our heavenly Pilot, and to speed our way to our blessed harbor of eternal rest!
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LIKE A PASSING SCENE IN A DRAMA!
Archibald Alexander, 1772–1851
Let the worldlings have the world, and make the most of it! I will never envy their prosperity, for it is but for a moment, and then, like a passing scene in a drama, disappears forever! Their feet stand on slippery places, and in due time their steps will slide! And then, all their music, their mirth, and their wine will cease forever! And when they sink, they will rise no more.
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They plunge into a horrible abyss, where no ray of hope ever enters!
Oh, their end, their dreadful end!
“Vengeance is Mine, and recompense, at the time when their foot shall slide: For the day of their calamity is at hand, the things that are to come on them shall make haste!” Deuteronomy 32:35
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GUILT, FILTH, POWER, LOVE AND PRACTICE
J. C. Philpot
“Arise, Lord! Save me, my God!” Psalm 3:7
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 God—
you will find and feel your need of salvation as a daily reality!
Do not think that the only salvation to be felt and known is salvation past—salvation accomplished by the blood-shedding and death of the Son of God. There is salvation present—an inward, experimental, and continual salvation communicated out of the fullness of Christ as a risen Mediator.
Don’t you need to be daily and almost hourly saved? But from what? Why, from everything in you that fights against the will and word of God. Sin is not dead in you. You are not free from the indwelling of sin, nor
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from the power of sin either—except as grace gives you present deliverance from it. Sin still works in your carnal mind, and will work in it until your dying hour. What then you need to be saved from is the guilt, filth, power, love and practice of indwelling sin.
“Hold me up, and I shall be safe!” Psalm 119:117
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IT IS THEIR FATHER’S HAND WHICH CHASTENS THEM!
J. C. Ryle, “The Blood of the Lamb”
God lays heavy trials upon His children for the most wise and merciful purposes. We live in such a fair and pleasant world, we are so surrounded with so much that is smiling and mirthful, that if we were not often obliged to taste of sickness and trial or disappointments, we would forget our heavenly home—and pitch our tents in this Sodom!
This is why God’s people pass through great tribulations. This is why they are often called upon to suffer the sting of affliction and anxiety—or weep over the grave of those on whom our affections are set. It is their Father’s hand which chastens them! It is thus He weans their affections from things below—and fixes them on Himself! It is thus He trains them for eternity, and cuts the threads one by one, which bind their wavering hearts to earth!
No doubt such chastening is grievous for the time—but still it brings many a hidden grace to light, and cuts down many a secret seed of evil. We shall see those who have suffered most, shining among the brightest stars in the assembly of heaven. The purest gold is that which has been longest in the refiner’s furnace! The
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brightest diamond is often that which has required the most grinding and polishing!
“For our light affliction, which is for the moment, works for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory.” 2 Corinthians 4:17
O Holy Spirit,
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LEAD ME TO THE CROSS
A Puritan Prayer
Have mercy on me. Move, I beg You, upon my disordered heart. Take away the infirmities of unruly desires and hateful lusts. Lift the mists and darkness of unbelief. Brighten my soul with the pure light of truth. Make my soul….
as fragrant as the garden of paradise, rich with every goodly fruit, beautiful with heavenly grace, radiant with rays of divine light.
Be my comforter, light, guide, sanctifier.
Take of the things of Christ and show them to my soul. Teach me more of His….
love,
grace, compassion, faithfulness, beauty.
Lead me to the cross and show me…. His wounds,
the hateful nature of sin,
the power of Satan.
May I there see my sins as….
the nails which transfixed Him,
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the cords which bound Him, the thorns which tore Him, the sword which pierced Him.
Help me to see in His death, the reality and immensity of His love. Increase my faith in the clear knowledge of….
atonement achieved, expiation completed, satisfaction for sin made, guilt done away.
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THEY ARE ALL REALLY WORTHLESS!
J. C. Ryle, “Profit and Loss”
What shall I say of the things of this world, which people appear to think so valuable—
money,
houses,
land,
clothes,
fine food and drink, learning,
honors, titles, pleasures, amusements, and the like?
I say that they are all really worthless!
What I mean is this, that if you suppose they are in themselves able to make you really happy—you are woefully deceived! If any person could have just as much as he wished of every earthly good thing—he would still find in a very short time that he was not one whit happier than before!
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I dare say you think I am mistaken—but let me tell you that many a rich man has tried the experiment, and can bear witness that the case is so! Many a one could tell you that he seeks out everything which money can purchase, he passes his life in a constant round of amusement and excitement, going from one pleasure to another. And yet he must confess that happiness and peace of mind have been like a shadow—always before his eyes but never within his grasp!
I say that all the things of the world are perishable! Surely, dear friends, this cannot require any evidence. You must have seen with your own eyes that none of the things I have mentioned are sure, lasting, permanent, incorruptible, and to be depended on!
Money and property may be lost! Health may fail! Friends may be deceitful! And unless we can make a covenant with death and hell, we ourselves may suddenly be cut off in the midst of our days—and hurried to our final judgment!
“Why do you spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which doesn’t satisfy?” Isaiah 55:2
“The world is passing away with its lusts, but he who does God’s will remains forever.” 1 John 2:17
THE ONLY SIN WHICH MAY BE INDULGED
Fuller
It has long appeared to me that worldliness will, in all probability, prove the eternal overthrow of more professing Christians, than almost any other sin.
This because it is almost the only sin which may be indulged, and a profession of religion at the same time
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kept up. If a man is a drunkard, a fornicator, an adulterer, or a liar; if he robs his neighbor, oppresses the poor, or deals unjustly—he must give up his preten- sions to religion—or his pious friends will give him up.
But he may love the world and the things of the world—and at the same time retain his profession!
If the depravity of the human heart is not subdued by the grace of God, worldliness will operate.
“Don’t love the world, neither the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the Father’s love isn’t in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, isn’t the Father’s, but is the world’s. The world is passing away with its lusts, but he who does God’s will remains forever.” 1 John 2:15-178
A NEW EXISTENCE
J. C. Ryle
“Most assuredly, I tell you—unless one is born anew, he can’t see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3
To be born again is, as it were, to enter upon a new existence, to have….
a new mind,
a new heart, new views, new principles, new tastes, new affections, new likings, new dislikings, new fears,
new joys, new sorrows,
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new love to things once hated,
new hatred to things once loved,
new thoughts of God, and ourselves, and the world,
and the life to come, and salvation.
He who has been born again, is a new man, a new creature, for old things are passed away. He receives a new bias and direction. All things have become new! It is the implanting of a new principle which will surely bear good fruit. It is….
opening the eyes of the blind;
unstopping the ears of the deaf;
loosing the tongue of the dumb;
giving hands and feet to the maimed and lame.
“You must be born again.” John 3:7
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WHY AM I TELLING YOU THESE THINGS?
J. C. Ryle, “A Bad Heart”
The firstborn in Adam’s house was Cain—a murderer.
The family of Noah, that just man, contained Ham—the wicked father of Canaan, the accursed race.
Abraham was the father of Midian—an idolatrous people who deceived Israel in the wilderness.
Isaac was the father of Esau—that “profane person.” Jacob was the father of Reuben—who defiled his
father’s bed.
Eli, the priest of the Lord, was the father of Hophni and Phinehas—who made people abhor the offering of God.
David, the man after God’s own heart, was the father of immoral Absalom and Amnon.
Hezekiah, that godly man, was the father of Manasseh— the most wicked of the kings of Judah.
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Why am I telling you these things? I tell you them to show you that good education and good example alone, cannot make our children godly—without the grace of God; and to show you how deeply rooted is the corruption of our natural dispositions!
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I KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT EVERY ONE OF THEM!
J. C. Ryle, “The Privileges of the True Christian” “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them,
and they follow Me.” John 10:27
The Lord Jesus Christ says of His sheep who hear His voice and follow Him, “I know them.” I know….
their number,
their names,
their particular characters, their besetting sins,
their troubles,
their trials,
their temptations,
their doubts,
their prayers,
their private meditations.
I know everything about every one of them!
Be comforted, all you who are tried and buffeted with difficulties in your way towards heaven, difficulties from without and difficulties from within, difficulties abroad and difficulties at home, grief for your own sins and grief for the sins of others—the Good Shepherd Jesus knows you well, though you may not realize it.
You never shed a secret tear over your own corruption, you never breathed a single prayer for forgiveness and helping grace, you never made a single struggle against
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wickedness—which He did not observe and note down in the book of His remembrance.
You need not fear His not understanding your needs. He knows your particular necessities far better than you do yourselves. Your humble prayers are no sooner offered up than heard. You may sometimes sigh and mourn for lack of Christian fellowship—but remember that the Good Shepherd is ever about your path and about your bed. His eyes are on all your movements. No husband, brother, father, mother, sister, friend, could take more tender interest in your soul’s welfare than He does. If you sorrow He will bind up your broken heart and pour in balm. He is ever watching and observing and listening. The Good Shepherd is acquainted with all your ways.
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MAPPED, ARRANGED, AND PROVIDED FOR
Octavius Winslow, “Morning Thoughts”
“He knows the way that I take!” Job 23:10
Untried, untrodden, and unknown as your future path may be, it is, each step—mapped, arranged, and provided for, in the everlasting and unchangeable covenant of God! To Him who leads us, who accepts us in the Son of His love, who knows the end from the beginning—it is no new, or uncertain, or hidden way! We thank Him that while He wisely and kindly veils all the future from our reach; all that future—its minutest event—is as transparent and visible to Him as the past. Our Shepherd knows the windings along which He skillfully, gently, and safely leads His flock. Oh, it is a thought replete with strong consolation, and well calculated to gird us for the coming year—that the Lord knows and has ordained each step of the untrodden path upon which I am about to enter!
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The infinite forethought, wisdom, and goodness which have ordained each step of our new path—have also provided for its every necessity.
Each difficulty in the new year has been anticipated. Each need will bring its appropriate and adequate
supply.
Each perplexity will have its guidance.
Each sorrow will have its comfort.
Each temptation will have its shield.
Each cloud will have its light.
Each affliction will suggest its lesson.
Each correction will impart its teaching. Each mercy will convey its message of love.
The promise will be fulfilled to the letter, “As your days, so shall your strength be!”
THIS YEAR I MAY BE IN HEAVEN!
Octavius Winslow, “Morning Thoughts”
“You have not passed this way heretofore.” Joshua 3:4
How solemn is the reflection, that each traveler to Zion is commencing a new and untrodden path!
New events in his history will transpire;
new scenes in the panorama of life will unfold;
new phases of character will develop; new temptations will assail;
new duties will devolve;
new trials will be experienced;
new sorrows will be felt;
new friendships will be formed; new mercies will be bestowed.
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How truly may it be said of the pilgrim journeying through the wilderness to his eternal home, as he stands upon the threshold of this untried period of his existence, pondering the unknown and uncertain future—“You have not passed this way heretofore.”
Reader! if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus, you will enter upon a new stage of your journey by a renewed surrender of yourself to the Lord. You will make the cross the starting-point of a fresh setting out in the heavenly race.
Oh, to begin the year with a broken heart for sin, beneath the cross of Immanuel—looking through that cross to the heart of a loving, forgiving Father!
Do not be anxious about the future—all that future God has provided for. “All my times are in Your hands.” “Casting all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.” “Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain you.”
Let it be a year of more spiritual advance. “Speak to the children of Israel that they go forward.”
Forward in the path of duty;
forward in the path of suffering;
forward in the path of conflict;
forward in the path of labor; and
forward in the path to eternal rest and glory!
Soon will that rest be reached, and that glory appear! This new year may be the jubilee year of your soul—the year of your release. Oh spirit-stirring, ecstatic thought—this year I may be in heaven!
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SEE THIS SAD SIGHT!
Charles Spurgeon
“The iniquity of the holy things.” Exodus 28:38
What a veil is lifted up by these words—and what a disclosure is made! It will be humbling and profitable for us to pause awhile—and see this sad sight!
The iniquities of our public worship—its hypocrisy, formality, lukewarmness, irreverence, wandering of heart and forgetfulness of God—what a full measure have we there!
Our work for the Lord—its envious rivalry, selfishness, carelessness, slackness, unbelief—what a mass of defilement is there!
Our private devotions—their laxity, coldness, neglect, sleepiness, and vanity—what a mountain of dead earth is there!
If we looked more carefully, we would find this iniquity in our holy things, to be far greater than appears at first sight!
Edward Payson, writing to his brother, says, “My parish, as well as my heart, very much resembles the garden of the sluggard. And what is worse, I find that very many of my desires for the betterment of both, proceed either from pride or vanity or indolence. I look at the weeds which overspread my garden, and breathe out an earnest wish that they were eradicated. But why? What prompts the wish? It may be that I may walk out and say to myself, ‘In what fine order is my garden kept!’ This is pride! Or, it may be that my neighbors may look over the fence and say, ‘How finely your garden flourishes!’ This is vanity! Or I may wish for the destruction of the weeds, because I am weary of pulling them up. This is indolence!”
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So even our desires after holiness may be polluted by sinful motives. Under the greenest sods, ‘worms’ hide themselves—we need not look long to discover them.
How cheering is the thought, that when the High Priest bore the iniquity of the holy things he wore upon his brow the words, “Holiness to the Lord” Exod 28:36 and even so while Jesus bears our sin, He presents before His Father’s face not our unholiness—but His own holiness! O for grace to view our great High Priest by the eye of faith!
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ALL TRUE SANCTIFICATION
Octavius Winslow
“Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify to Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good works.” Titus 2:14
There is no victory over the indwelling power of sin, and there is no pardon for the guilt of sin, but as the soul deals with the blood of Christ. The great end of our dear Lord’s death was to destroy the works of the devil. Sin is the great work of Satan. To overcome this, to break its power, subdue its dominion, repair its ruins, and release from its condemnation, the blessed Son of God suffered the ignominious death of the cross. All that bitter agony which He endured, all that mental suffering, the sorrow of His soul in the garden, the sufferings of His body on the cross—all was for sin.
See, then, the close and beautiful connection between the death of Christ—and the death of sin. All true sanctification comes through the cross! Seek it there. The cross brought into your soul by the eternal Spirit will be the death of your sins. Go to the cross! Oh, go to the cross of Jesus! In simplicity of faith, go with the strong
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corruption; go with the burden of guilt; go to the cross! You will find nothing but love there, nothing but welcome there, nothing but purity there. The precious blood of Jesus “cleanses us from all sin.” And while you are kept low beneath the cross, your enemy dares not approach you, sin shall not have dominion over you, nor shall Satan, your accuser, condemn you!
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I MIGHT HAVE ESCAPED ALL THIS MISERY!
Archibald Alexander, “The Misery of the Lost”
Let me imagine myself to have died impenitent. It would seem that the first moment after death must be one of unparalleled misery. My first reflections would be—
“I am lost forever! All hope of happiness or relief is gone from my miserable soul! The blackness of darkness is round about me! No ray of light dawns on my wretched soul! Despair, terrible despair has now seized upon me, and must blacken every prospect to all eternity!
“While in the body, and engaged in secular pursuits, I entertained a secret hope that there might be some mistake respecting the extreme misery of the damned, or that there might possibly be some way of escape not revealed; but now all these idle notions have fled like a dream when one awakes! I find hell to be no fable—but a dreadful reality! I find that the preachers, so far from exaggerating the misery of the lost, had no adequate conception of the wretchedness of a soul cast off from God forever, and doomed to dwell in everlasting burnings! Oh horrible! Horrible! I am undone—forever undone! I have passed beyond the reach of mercy!
“For the sake of momentary enjoyments, and worthless riches and honors—I have bartered away my soul.
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Accursed folly! What benefit can I now derive from those earthly pleasures and possessions? They only serve as fuel to the flames which consume me. O for one drop of water to cool my tongue! But for this I beg in vain. The time for prayer and for mercy has gone by—and my soul is lost, lost, lost! And through eternity I must expect no deliverance, no relief, nor even the slightest mitigation of my misery! Woe, woe, woe is me! It would have been infinitely better for me never to have been born!
“If I had not enjoyed the offers of the gospel, my anguish would not be so excruciating. But this it is which wrings my heart with unspeakable anguish—that I might have escaped all this misery! Had it not been for my own sin and folly, I might before now have been in heaven. Others who heard the same sermons, and belonged to the same family, are now in eternal glory— while I am tormented in this flame! Oh that I could cease to be; but to fly from existence is impossible.
“Here I am surrounded by wretches as miserable as myself, but their company rather aggravates than mitigates my soul’s anguish. I am reproached and cursed by all who were ever led by my counsel or example into the ways of iniquity. They dreadfully scowl upon me.
“And the fiends of the pit, who were my seducers, now combine to taunt me with my folly. They never had the offers of mercy. The merits of a dying Savior were never offered to them. They seem to entertain a malignant pleasure—if pleasure it can be called—in witnessing my extreme misery. O wretch that I am—where can I flee? Is there no possible escape from this prison of despair? Can no one ever pass the gulf which separates this dismal abode from the regions of the blessed? None! None!
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“May I hope that the passing of time will lessen the horrors and anguish of my wretched soul? Will my heart, so susceptible of the emotions of bitter anguish, by degrees become less sensible to these piercing pains, and be more able to bear up under this overwhelming weight of misery? This question can only be solved by experience: let me ask someone who has been suffering for thousands of years. Here comes Cain the first murderer, who is known still by having upon him the stain of a brother’s blood. Suppose I speak to him— ‘Tell me, fellow-prisoner, who has long endured the pains of this infernal prison, whether by long continuance these miseries become more tolerable?’ But why do I ask? the wretched fratricide is evidently writhing in keenest anguish. He is too miserable to speak, and too full of malignity to gratify anyone. His guilty stain—the blood-spot—has not been burnt out by the fiercest fires of hell. No! see, he defies the Almighty. He blasphemes the God of heaven. He asks for no mitigation of his punishment now. His malignant, fiery spirit feeds on despair, and challenges his Avenger to do his worst.
“Oh, then, I see there is a progression in wickedness even in hell. This is the most appalling prospect of all—an endless progression in sin, and consequently an increase, instead of a diminution of misery, through the endless ages of eternity!”
“Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we will be saved from God’s wrath through Him.” Romans 5:9
“For God didn’t appoint us to wrath, but to the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1
Thessalonians 5:9
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A MERE CLOAK WHICH COVERED A HEART FULL OF UNCLEAN LUSTS!
Archibald Alexander, “The day of judgment”
“The Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks at the outward
appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
“You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts. For that which is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” Luke 16:15
“He Himself knew what was in man.” John 2:25 “Lord, You know the hearts of all men.” Acts 1:24
And as externally good actions will then be examined by One who has a full view of the motives from which they proceeded, and the end which the person had in view—is it not certain that many religious actions will then appear to have been mere hypocrisy? that many actions, apparently just and benevolent, were mere efforts of pride and selfishness? and that a moral and blameless life in the eyes of men—was a mere cloak which covered a heart full of unclean lusts?
Our most intimate friends here, will be astonished when they see our secret iniquities and wicked motives exposed to view. The most detestable crimes will be unveiled in those who passed through life without suspicion! O how many secret murders, perjuries, thefts, blasphemies, and adulteries—will then be brought to light! How much fraud, injustice, cruelty, oppression, pride, malice, revenge will then be unveiled!
“Render to every man according to all his ways, whose heart You know; for You, even You only, know the hearts of all the children of men.” 1 Kings 8:39
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PATIENCE! PATIENCE! PATIENCE!
William Plumer, “Vital Godliness: A Treatise on Experimental and Practical Piety” 1864
“But the fruit of the Spirit is….patience.” Galatians 5:22 “With all lowliness and humility, with longsuffering,
bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2
“Put on therefore, as God’s elect, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, humility, and perseverance.” Colossians 3:12
“Patience has various OBJECTS. Towards God it is resigned, and says, ‘I will bear the indignation of the Lord.’ Towards Christian people, who justly reprove us, it is meek, and says, ‘Let the righteous smite me!’ Towards wicked and unreasonable people, who love to see others afflicted, it says, ‘Rejoice not against me, O my enemy.’ Towards the trials under which we are called to suffer, it is not uneasy and rebellious, but rather gives them a kind reception. Under provocation it is gentle and not resentful.” (Plumer)
“Christian patience blesses and curses not. It bears insults and injuries without malice. It is ‘patient toward all men.’ Under affliction it is quiet and submissive. It will use no wicked measures to relieve even great distresses. It is ‘patient in tribulation’—even the most extreme sufferings. Under delays it is still and uncomplaining. It loves to leave everything in the hands of the Father!” (Plumer)
“Patience is that calm and unruffled temper, with which a godly man bears the evils of life.” (Buck)
“Patience is that virtue which qualifies us to bear all conditions and all events, with such persuasions of mind, such dispositions and affections of heart, such
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external deportments and practices of life—as God requires, and good reason directs.” (Barrow)
“Christian patience is a disposition that keeps us calm and composed in our frame, and steady in the practice of our duty under the sense of our afflictions, or in the delay of our hopes.” (Evans)
“In regard of God, patience is a submission to his sovereignty. To endure a trial, simply because we cannot avoid or resist it, is not Christian patience. But to humbly submit because it is the will of God to inflict the trial, to be silent because the sovereignty of God orders it—is true godly patience.” (Charnock)
“Christian patience is not a careless indolence, a stupid insensibility, mechanical bravery, constitutional fortitude, a daring stoutness of spirit—resulting from fatalistic thinking, human reasoning, or pride. Christian patience is gift and grace of the Holy Spirit, nourished by heavenly truth, and guided by scriptural rules.” (Mason)
“Insensibility of God’s hand inflicting trials, is as different from Christian patience, as a deathly coma is different from the quiet, soft sleep of health. Nothing kindles God’s anger more, than neglecting His direct agency in sending the trial. It is a symptom of a wretched state of soul.” (Bates)
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BUT A LITTLE WHILE, AND I AM THERE!
Mary Winslow
Without Jesus life would be an aching void, earth a wilderness of woe and sorrow! He can transform this wilderness into a little heaven, making it radiant with His presence! What must heaven itself be!
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I shall soon exchange earth for heaven, and finally close my eyes, when I shall re-open them in glory. Oh, to be there! Oh, to see Jesus face to face! To behold Him whom my soul loves, and be with Him for ever! But a little while, and I am there!
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HE IS TOSSED FROM VANITY TO VANITY
William Plumer, “Contentment” 1864 “What shadows we are—and what shadows we
pursue!”
“Humility is the mother of contentment.”
“Those who realize that they deserve nothing, will be content with anything.”
When we become lifted up with pride, and think we deserve something good at God’s hands—it is impossible to satisfy us. But with the humble is wisdom, quietness, gentleness and contentment. He who expects nothing, because he deserves nothing, is sure to be satisfied with the treatment he receives at God’s hands.
The proud man is like a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke. He is turbulent and fiery. He alienates friends; he makes enemies. He has much trouble and sorrow— where the humble man passes quietly along. Pride and contentment do not go together. Neither do contentment and carnal ambition. “Do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not!” Jeremiah 45:5
Our actual needs are not many; but the ambitious create a thousand desires and demands, which are hard, if not impossible to meet.
He who is carnally ambitious, will not be content with whatever he gains, because each elevation widens his
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horizon, and gives him a view of something else which he greatly longs for. And so he is tossed from vanity to vanity—a stranger to solid peace.
Are you ambitious for the things of this world? Then you are your own tormentor!
THROUGH THE AGONIES OF GREAT TRIAL
John MacDuff, “Thoughts for the Quiet Hour”
“For you, God, have tested us. You have refined us, as silver is refined.” Psalm 66:10
As the olives must be crushed for the oil to flow; as the grapes must be bruised in the wine-press that the vats may be filled; as the gold comes out refined from the furnace—so, through the agonies of great trial, the best Christian graces are developed.
“I have chosen you in the furnace of suffering.” Isaiah
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48:10
and they follow Me.” John 10:27 This verse gives the character of true Christians.

  1. God’s children, His real believing people, are compared to sheep, because they are gentle, quiet, harmless and inoffensive; because they are useful and do good to all around them; because they love to be together, and dislike separation; and because they are very helpless and wandering and liable to stray.
  2. Jesus calls them “My sheep,” as if they were His –28–
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    MY SHEEP
    J. C. Ryle, “The Privileges of the True Christian” “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them,

peculiar property. “Mine,” He would have us know, by election; “Mine” by purchase; and “Mine” by adoption.

  1. Christ’s sheep hear His voice, they listen humbly to His teaching, they take His word for their rule and guide.
  2. Christ’s sheep follow Him, they walk in the narrow path He has marked out, they do not refuse because it is sometimes steep and narrow—but wherever the line of duty lies they go forward without doubting.
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    THE MORE WORLDLY PLEASURE— THE LESS HAPPINESS
    William Plumer, “Contentment” 1864
    “I said in my heart, ‘Come now, I will test you with mirth: therefore enjoy pleasure;’ and, behold, this also was vanity.” Ecclesiastes 2:1
    “Lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”
    2 Timothy 3:4
    Many are not content, because they have so few worldly pleasures. Yet it is commonly the case—that the more worldly pleasure—the less happiness there is.
    The more pleasure—the more sin also!
    The more pleasure—the more dreadful the last account!
    The pleasures of sin are but for a season, and that season is so short. The pleasures of sense are wholly insufficient to give permanent enjoyment.
    “All things are full of weariness beyond uttering. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.” Ecclesiastes 1:8
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    –29–

VAIN-GLORY, SELF-DELIGHT AND PRIDE
William Plumer, “Vital Godliness: A Treatise on Experimental and Practical Piety” 1864
In practical piety, there is no greater mistake than the persuasion that if we are pleased with ourselves—that God is also pleased with us.
Vainglory, self-delight and pride—blind, bewilder, and intoxicate!
On the other hand—shame for our own vileness, sorrow for our shortcomings, self-loathing for undeniable turpitude of our soul—are profitable.
Men must either part with their pride and good opinion of themselves—or they must part with the hope of a blessed eternity. You must either take your place in the dust before God—or be cast down to hell.
“What a wretched man I am!” Romans 7:24
“I abhor myself!” Job 42:6
“Behold, I am vile!” Job 40:4
“Woe is me! For I am undone!” Isaiah 6:5
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I AM ASTONISHED
A Puritan Prayer
O bottomless Fountain of all good, I am astonished at the difference….
between my receivings—and my deservings, between the state I am now in—and my past
gracelessness,
between the heaven I am bound for—and the hell I
merit.
Who made me to differ, but You? I could not have begun to love You, had You not first loved me.
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O Lord, I am astonished that….
such a crown should fit the head of such a sinner! such high advancement be for an unfruitful person! such joys for so vile a rebel!
Let ‘wrath deserved’ be written on the door of hell, but the ‘free gift of grace’ on the gate of heaven!
Let Your love draw me nearer to Yourself. Wean me from sin, mortify me to this world, and make me ready for my departure hence. Secure me by Your grace as I sail across this stormy sea.
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THE GREAT FOSTER-PARENT
William Plumer, “Vital Godliness: A Treatise on Experimental and Practical Piety” 1864
Saving faith is the great foster-parent of all that belongs to scriptural piety. Faith begets….
true worship, godly fear, devout thanksgiving, repentance,
enlarged liberality, fervent love,
a pure conscience,
a holy life,
victory over the world, eternal glory!
Faith gazes upon the cross until the course of the new nature is set on fire with heavenly love! Saving faith….
unites to Christ,
lays hold of salvation,
conquers every foe,
brings every blessing into the soul, pronounces death abolished, always begets humility,
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is self-renouncing,
consents to be nothing, that God may be all and in all, excludes boasting,
is jealous for God’s honor,
brings forth forgiveness to enemies,
begets repentance,
nourishes other graces,
ever clings to the fullness of Christ,
kindles love to an unseen Savior,
is ever laying its crown at the feet of Immanuel,
puts things in their proper place,
abases the sinner in the dust,
sets God on the throne of universal dominion, pronounces all God’s ways just and right,
counts all things as loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of God’s dear Son!
“True, saving, justifying faith carries the soul through all difficulties, discouragements, and natural impossibilities—to Jesus Christ!” (William Bridge)
“Precious faith!” 2 Peter 1:1
If you desire….
a useful life,
a pleasant old age,
a comfortable death,
a blissful immortality— believe God,
trust to His grace,
rely on His Son.
Rely on….
God alone as your Father,
Christ alone as your Redeemer,
the Holy Spirit alone as your Comforter.
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THE SINS OF THE GODLY AND THE UNGODLY
William Plumer, “Backsliding” 1864
“Whoever is born of God doesn’t commit sin, because his seed remains in him; and he can’t sin, because he is born of God.” 1 John 3:9
He who regards sin with so little abhorrence as willingly to commit it, cannot be walking in the way of holiness. He who allowedly and habitually departs from God, proves that sin reigns in his mortal body, and that he is the slave of corruption.
The sins of the godly and the ungodly are unlike in several particulars.
When the wicked depart from God, they cry, “Peace and safety.” When the righteous no longer maintain a close walk with God, they say, “Oh that it were with us as in months past.”
In their wanderings, the wicked call themselves happy. Having forsaken God, the righteous lose enjoyment, and are filled with sadness.
The wicked sin perpetually. The righteous err from God’s ways—but only for a season.
The wicked are bent to backsliding. Hosea 11:7. The righteous are betrayed into sin.
The wicked are as the sow wallowing in the mire. It is their nature to work iniquity. The righteous are as the cleanly sheep. If they are in the slough, it is their calamity.
The wicked fill up their sin always. They cannot rest until they have done some mischief. They dig into hell. The righteous is not so. When he falls, he shall rise again. When he sits in darkness, the Lord shall be a
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light unto him. A just man falls seven times, and rises up again. All his backslidings are healed.
GODLY MEN WEEP
William Plumer, “Vital Godliness: A Treatise on Experimental and Practical Piety” 1864
“And he went out and wept bitterly.” Matt. 26:75 We cannot have too low an opinion of ourselves;
or too high an opinion of Christ.
Godly men weep over the evils which are found in themselves, such as….
error,
ignorance, prejudice,
pride, self-righteousness, worldliness,
levity,
unloving tempers and dispositions, censoriousness,
envy,
sinful anger,
hatred,
a proneness….
to remember wrongs, to indulge complaints, to forget mercies.
There is no plague like the plague of an evil heart! There is no misery like the wretchedness of ‘conscious
vileness.’
There are no sighs so long and so deep-drawn as those caused by indwelling sin. Though the righteous shall
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not weep always, yet they may weep bitterly. “What a wretched man I am!” Romans 7:24 “I abhor myself!” Job 42:6
“Behold, I am vile!” Job 40:4
“Woe is me! For I am undone!” Isaiah 6:5
“Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” Luke
5:8
One must judge of his own state by the fruit he bears. When our fruit is unto holiness, we know that the end shall be everlasting life. Everyone who hopes that he is converted to God, should examine himself and prove his own fruit. In judging of piety, there is no substitute for a holy life. We are Christ’s disciples—if we do whatever He commands us. We are the servants of the wicked one—if we do the works of the flesh. We may boast of discoveries, of raptures, and ecstasies—but all is in vain if a consistent life is not the result. A godly life is the infallible evidence of conversion.
Many professors of religion are carnal, careless, and covetous. In them no change of life appears to prove a change of heart. They are much like their worldly neighbors, except that they attend church. They are spots and blemishes in Christian feasts. They are a grief and a shame to godly people. The church has their names, but the world has their hearts. The number of such is painfully large. 8
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CARNAL, CARELESS, AND COVETOUS
William Plumer, “Vital Godliness: A Treatise on Experimental and Practical Piety” 1864
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ALTOGETHER LOVELY!
“Solitude Sweetened” by James Meikle, 1730–1799 “Yes, He is altogether lovely! This is my Beloved, and
this is my Friend!” Song of Solomon 5:16
Why does the world reject the Savior of the world? Why do they abhor Him who is altogether lovely, and hate Him who is the best Friend of mankind?
O men of the world! what good can you desire which is not in Christ? The excellencies of earth are but His footstool; the excellencies of heaven are but His throne! How excellent, then, must He himself be!
His treasures are infinite—and open for you!
In Jesus are….
riches—if you are poor; honor—if you are despised; friendship—if you are forsaken; help—if you are injured; mercy—if you are miserable; joy—if you are disconsolate;
protection—if you are in danger; deliverance—if you are a captive;
life—if you are mortal;
and all things—if you have nothing at all.
Time and eternity are His! He can give you all the glorious things of eternity!
Moreover, He can deliver you….
from all your fears;
from sin—the worst of all evils;
from self—the most hurtful of all companions; from death—the most dreadful of all changes; from Satan—the most subtle of all enemies; from hell—the most horrible of all prisons;
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and from wrath—the most horrifying doom of all sinners!
Now, where will you find such a one as Jesus? Why, then, refuse life, and seek after death? All heaven is enamored with His beauty!
The longer we look on ‘created gaieties,’ the leaner and less lovely they grow; so that, by the time we have viewed them forty, fifty, or sixty years—we see nothing but vanity in the creature! But when ten thousand ages are employed in beholding the perfection and beauty of Jesus—He still appears more and more lovely—even altogether lovely!
Alas! I can say nothing of His true excellencies! They overwhelm my laboring thought, and are too vast for my feeble conception to bring forth!
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WE NEED TO RE-STUDY OUR BIBLES
John Angell James, “The Church in Earnest”
We need to re-study our Bibles, and learn what real Christianity is—how holy, how heavenly, how spiritual, how loving, how morally and socially excellent a matter it is. What separation from the world,
what devoutness,
what intense earnestness,
what conscientiousness,
what enlarged benevolence,
what unselfishness,
what zealous activity,
what unearthliness,
what seeds of celestial virtue,
our profession of godliness implies.
Having examined this, and obtained an impressive idea
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of it, let us survey our own state, and ask if we do not need, and ought not to seek, more of the prevalence of such a piety as this, which, in fact, is primitive Christianity.
Is our spiritual condition what it ought to be, what it might be, what it must be—to fulfill our high commission as the salt of the earth and the light of the world? A Christian, acting up in some tolerable measure to his profession, walking in the holiness of the Gospel—is the strongest and most emphatic testimony for God to our dark revolted world, next to that of Christ Himself. 8
O DIVINE LOVER!
“Solitude Sweetened” by James Meikle
“Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:6
Behold! the eternal Son of God loves…. an ugly, deformed, miserable creature, a crawling worm,
a condemned criminal,
an insolvent debtor,
a rebel against heaven, a daring sinner,
a drudge to hell,
a slave to lust,
a captive of Satan,
a prisoner of the pit!
This is love indeed!
How ardently, O Divine Lover! should my soul go out after You! I long for that glorious day, when I shall mourn Your absence no more—when, admitted into Your presence, I shall delight in all Your love, and feast on all Your charms, world without end!
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–38–

THEY DANCE AFTER PLEASURE’S BUBBLE
Henry Law, 1797–1884
The mass of mankind are strangers to God, and rebels to His grace. Their chief good resides in things of time and sense. Their horizon stretches not beyond this fleeting earthly scene. Their one object is to press most earthly joy into earth’s little day. They dance after pleasure’s bubble, and scorn the cross!
The world is still the world. Its baits, its filth, its vile corruptions, are unchanged.
It still extends a net for the unwary soul.
It still is the broad road going down to hell.
It still is the wide gate courting the giddy multitude.
Hence Scripture’s voice still cries, “Beware!”
Beacons still show a coast bestrewed with wrecks, and wisdom calls the holy pilgrim from treacherous path.
“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. How narrow is the gate, and restricted is the way that leads to life! Few are those who find it.” Matthew 7:13-14
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I AM CONFOUNDED WITH WONDER!
“Solitude Sweetened” by James Meikle, 1730–1799
“Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound!” Romans 5:20
Dear Savior, in Your sufferings I not only see the infiniteness of sin, but also the infiniteness of Your love; so that, though I have cause with myself to be angry on account of sin, I need not despair.
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If the desert of my sinful folly is death—the merit of Your sufferings is life!
If my sins mount up to heaven—Your mercy is above the heavens!
Though my sins reach to the very throne to accuse me—there is One upon the throne who will not condemn me!
When I look to myself and see my vileness and necessity—I am confounded with shame! But when I look to You, and see Your fullness and all-sufficiency—I am confounded with wonder!
Am I weak? Jesus is my strength.
Am I foolish? Jesus is my wisdom!
Am I wicked? Jesus is my righteousness!
Am I impure? Jesus is my sanctification!
Am I in bondage? Jesus is my complete redemption! Am I in misery? From Jesus tender mercy flows.
Am I deceitful? Jesus is wholly truth!
In a word, am I enmity itself? Then Jesus is love itself which passes understanding! Mine is but the enmity of a creature—but Yours is the love of God!
Where sin abounded—grace did much more abound!
Where misery has surrounded me—Your mercy has crowned me!
Sin is too strong for me—but Your grace is too strong for sin!
Why, then, am I so vexed with fears, doubts, and unbelief? Because I am sinful. On that very account, Jesus, who knew no sin, was made sin—that I, who
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knew no righteousness, might be made the righteousness of God in Him.
But I am a great sinner! But Jesus is a Savior, and a great One!
Where is boasting now? See—it is great mercy in God, great merit in Christ—which saves a great sinner! Since rich and free grace builds the temple of salvation—let it have all the glory!
But I fall often into the same sin! That is my failing, over which I ought to mourn, and by which I should be driven out of all boasting in my own holiness, high attainments, and religious duties; and cry, with tears of holy joy, “Grace, grace to Him who has laid the foundation, carries on the whole work of redemption, and will, with shouting bring forth the topstone!”
Now, law, what have you to do with me? Go to my Surety, Jesus! O curse! you have lighted on His head, that the blessing might rest on mine!
Though once I dared not lift my eyes heavenward, for fear of divine wrath—yet now I may come boldly to the throne of grace, and claim the blessings of His purchase!
Though my sin offends Him—I shall never sin away His love, nor His presence altogether. For He shall come a second time, to deliver me from all my inherent sinfulness!
Though my sin is my burden—it shall not be my bane! Yet I shall never willingly let the traitor rest in my bosom—which would persuade my soul into rebellion against my dearest Lord, and best Friend. I may have continual war with the invader—but shall obtain the victory at last! Meanwhile, I will grieve more for offending Him whose name is Love, by my sin—than
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for the clouds, afflictions, and chastisements which seize me because of my sinfulness.
Now, with the arms of my faith, I clasp the promise— and Jesus in the promise! Here will I live, and here will I die, blessing God, who causes me always to triumph in Jesus Christ my Lord8!
WHEN THEY ARE TWISTED OUT OF MY HAND
“Solitude Sweetened” by James Meikle, 1730–1799
“Man is born to trouble, as sparks fly upward.” Job 5:7 O, what losses and crosses, sorrows and distresses,
uncertainties and anxieties, do mankind labor under!
Godly wisdom will lead me to expect nothing but vanity and vexation here below. But, O! how happy is the soul that has all the treasure in heaven—all his happiness in God! May this be my case, and then I shall triumph in the midst of losses, distresses, disappointments, and pain!
I take a loose hold of all earthly things, that when they are twisted out of my hand—they may not torment my heart!
Eternal felicity secured, is a noble panacea, and a sufficient antidote against the heaviest misfortunes and disappointments of this deceitful world!
I rest, and am composed, and calmly wait on You, resigned to heaven’s determination, in everything concerning me in time—until I arrive at that better country, at that perfect state, where there is neither disappointment nor pain!
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MY ROCK!
“Solitude Sweetened” by James Meikle, 1730–1799
“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
Do rocks defend me from blasts, from whatever quarter they blow? So does my Rock!
Is the blast from hell? Well, He has the keys of hell and of death!
Is it from sin? He is my righteousness!
Is it from Satan? He has conquered principalities and powers!
Is it from afflictions? He is my sympathizing and loving High Priest!
Is it from losses? He is my exceeding great reward!
Is it from crosses? He makes all things work together for good to His people!
Is it from anguish? He is my joy!
Is it from darkness? He is my Sun!
Is it from doubts? He is my Counselor!
Is it from deadness? He is my life!
Is it from enemies? He is my shield!
Is it from temptation? He is my deliverer!
Is it from false friends? He will never leave me, nor forsake me!
Is it from solitude or banishment? He is everywhere present!
Is it from disease? He is my healer!
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Is it from death? He is the resurrection and the life!
O glorious refuge! O sure defense! O everlasting fortress! Here do I defy the worst that earth and hell can do!
Henceforth will I live by faith, in the MAN who is…. my hiding place from the wind,
my shelter from the tempest,
my stream of water in a dry place,
my shadow of a great rock in a weary land—
until every blast has blown over, and not a threatening cloud appears in my sky—until my heaven is beautified with everlasting day, and every storm is swept from the air which I breathe!
“And 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 shadow of a great rock in a weary land.” Isaiah 32:2
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THE MOST PRECIOUS THING IN HEAVEN OR EARTH
John Flavel, “The Fountain of Life” 1671
In giving Christ to die for poor sinners, God gave the richest jewel in His cabinet; a mercy of the greatest worth, and most inestimable value.
Heaven itself is not so valuable and precious as Christ is! Ten thousand thousand worlds—as many worlds as angels can number, would not outweigh Christ’s love, excellency and sweetness! O what a lovely One! What an excellent, beautiful, ravishing One—is Christ!
Put the beauty of ten thousand paradises, like the garden of Eden, into one; put all flowers, all fragrances, all colors, all tastes, all joys, all sweetness, all loveliness into one; O what a lovely and excellent thing would
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that be! And yet it would be less to that loveliest and dearest well-beloved Christ—than one drop of rain to all the seas, rivers, lakes, and fountains of ten thousand earths!
Now, for God to bestow the mercy of mercies, the most precious thing in heaven or earth, upon poor sinners; and, as great, as lovely, as excellent as His Son was—what kind of love is this!
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HAS HE PUT YOU SO MANY TIMES INTO THE FURNACE?
John Flavel, “The Fountain of Life” 1671
You have a further advantage to a holy life, by all the
chastisements with which God visits you.
By these afflictions, God prevents your straying and wandering. Others may wander even as far as hell, and God will not spend a sanctified rod upon them, to reduce or stop them; but says, “let them alone!” Hos. 4:17. But if you wander out of the way of holiness, He will clog you with one trouble or other to keep you within bounds.
Holy Basil was a long time sorely afflicted with an inveterate headache, he often prayed for the removal of it. At last God removed it, but in the place of it, he was sorely exercised with the motions and temptations of lust; which, when he perceived, he heartily desired his headache again, to prevent a worse evil.
You little know the ends and uses of many of your afflictions.
Are you exercised with bodily weakness? It is a mercy you are so; and if these pains and infirmities were removed, these clogs taken off, you may with Basil, wish for them again, to prevent worse evils.
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Are you poor? Why, with that poverty God has clogged your pride!
Are you reproached? With these reproaches God has clogged your sinful ambition.
Corruptions are prevented by your afflictions. And, is not this a marvelous help to holiness of life?
By your afflictions, your corruptions are not only clogged, but purged. By these God dries up and consumes that spring of sin which defiles your lives. God orders your wants to fill your wantonness; and makes your poverty poison to your pride.
Afflictions are God’s medicines, to purge ill humours out of your souls. They are both fire for the purifying; and water for the cleansing of your souls. Christ’s blood is the only fountain to wash away sin. But, in the virtue and efficacy of that blood, sanctified afflictions are cleansers and purifiers too.
A cross without a Christ never made any man better; but with Christ, saints are much the better for the cross. Has God been so many days and nights a whitening you, and yet is not the hue of your conversation altered? Has He put you so many times into the furnace, and yet is not the dross separated? The more afflictions you have been under, the more assistance you have had for this life of holiness.
By all your troubles, God has been weaning you from the world, the lusts, loves, and pleasures of it; and drawing out your souls to a more excellent life and state than this. He often makes you groan under your burdens. And yet will you not be weaned from the lusts, customs, and evils of this world?
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O WHAT A MELTING CONSIDERATION IS THIS!
John Flavel, “The Fountain of Life” 1671 “Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:6
O what a melting consideration is this! That….
out of His agony, comes our victory;
out of His condemnation, comes our justification;
out of His pain, comes our ease;
out of His stripes, comes our healing;
out of His gall and vinegar, comes our honey;
out of His curse, comes our blessing;
out of His crown of thorns, comes our crown of glory; out of His death, comes our life!
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OUR BEST FRIEND
Anne Dutton’s Letters on Spiritual Subjects
Our best Friend, our sympathizing Friend in heaven, has an inexpressible fellow-feeling with us in all our miseries of soul and body.
What wondrous grace is this!
It is a bright display….
of the Savior’s goodness,
of His tender mercy,
of His love which passes knowledge!
We have in the love of Christ….
a sweet soft bosom to rest our weary heads, an open ear to all our requests,
a flowing heart to relieve us in difficulties, and an almighty hand to supply all our needs.
No indulgent father—no compassionate mother—nor countless numbers of them, were all their affections united in one person—has or could have a thousandth
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part of that sympathy to a beloved sick child—which Jesus has with us, His sick children.
Yes, with us! though we are rebellious children!
For we are dear unto Him—ineffably dear children from the infinity of His tender mercy; from His all-endearing love, that has in it neither bottom, nor bound, nor end!
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THE GOOD SHEPHERD’S FLOCK
Henry Law, “Deuteronomy” 1858 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them,
and they follow Me.” John 10:27
The good Shepherd’s flock is widely scattered. They wander far on hills, and valleys, in every land, and every climate.
Some pant beneath a tropic sun. Some shiver in perpetual snows. A watchful eye sees all.
And in fit time each is approached. Jesus Himself draws near.
He wins the heart.
He enters in.
He takes the throne.
He shows His smile.
He melts the rock.
He turns the enmity to love.
He sits a conqueror in a once rebel camp.
All given by the Father come to Him, because He comes to them.
They follow, because He calls. They run, because He draws.
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He opens out His arms; and then they flee quickly to
the shelter.
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MY NEEDS—HIS FULLNESS!
James Meikle, May 24, 1757
All plenitude is in Christ, to answer all the needs of His people. In Christ dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, that out of His fullness I may receive all spiritual blessings!
Have I destroyed myself by sin? I have deliverance from Him who is mighty to save from sin and wrath!
Is my foolish mind darkened? Am I a guilty, polluted, and ruined wretch? Jesus is my wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption!
Is my life fleeting—and passing away like a shadow? Jesus is the Ancient of days, and endures for evermore!
Are my days short-lived and full of trouble? Jesus is my life, the length of my days, and the joy of my heart!
Am I exposed to contempt? Jesus shall be my crown of glory, and diadem of beauty!
Am I traveling through the wilderness? Jesus is my staff, and on Him I lean all the way!
Am I on my last journey to my long home? Jesus is my leader, and my rewarder!
Am I a sheep? Jesus is my pasture, and my green pasture too!
Am I hungry and thirsty? Jesus is my heavenly manna, and gives me to drink of the water of life!
Am I weary? Jesus is my rest and refreshing! Am I weak? Jesus is my strength!
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Am I oppressed and wronged? Jesus is my judge, and my avenger!
Am I reproached? The reproach of His people, Jesus will wipe away!
Am I a soldier? Jesus is my Captain and shield!
Must I fight in the field of battle? Jesus is my armor in the day of war!
Do I sit in darkness? Jesus is my light!
Do I have doubts? Jesus is my counselor!
Am I ignorant? Jesus is my wisdom!
Am I guilty? Jesus is my justification!
Am I filthy? Jesus is my sanctification!
Am I dead in sin? Jesus is my life, and quickens those who are dead in trespasses and sins!
Am I poor? Jesus is the pearl of great price, and has immeasurable riches!
Am I blind? Jesus, and none but He can open the eyes of one born blind!
Am I naked? Jesus has white clothing to cover the shame of my nakedness!
Am I in the very utmost necessity? Jesus is a very present help in time of trouble!
Am I exposed to the hurricanes of adversity? Jesus is…. a refuge from the storm;
a shelter from the blast;
rivers of water in a desert;
the shadow of a great rock in a weary land!
Am I afraid of being left alone? Jesus will never leave me, nor forsake me!
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Do friends and brethren prove false? Jesus is the friend who sticks closer than a brother!
Am I in danger from diseases and death; or from sin and Satan? My life is hidden with Christ in God!
When He shall appear, I shall appear with Him— immortal in my body, and glorious in my soul!
Is my case considered in the court of heaven? There Jesus is my Advocate!
Do I offend the Father? Jesus is my Intercessor!
Do I suffer in my body, and am I grieved in my mind? Jesus bore my infirmities, and carried my griefs!
Is my mind disquieted, and my soul debarred from peace? Jesus is my sympathetic High Priest! He was tempted in all points, and knows how to support those who are tempted!
Am I poor in my circumstances? Jesus, the heir of all things! Though He was rich, yet for my sake He became poor, that I through His poverty might be made rich!
Do I suffer in my character? Jesus was numbered with transgressors, called a Samaritan, a glutton, a drunkard, and a devil!
Am I bereaved or alone? Well, Jesus in the fatal night was left alone; all the disciples forsook Him and fled! Jesus, my only friend, can never die!
Must I undergo death and be laid in the grave? Jesus has taken away the sting of death, and robbed the grave of its victory!
Must I rot in the grave? Jesus shall be my resurrection, and raise me to immortality and bliss!
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Would I go to God and to glory? Jesus is my way, and must admit me into the palace of the great King, where I shall abide forever!
In summary, Jesus is…. my brother,
my physician,
my prophet,
my priest, my king,
my father, my head,
my husband!
In eternity, when I shall dwell in the land of bliss, in the city of God—Jesus will be the light thereof! And since I am to worship there forever, He will be the temple of all the redeemed!
My needs are many, but His fullness is infinitely more!
The morning dews and fructifying showers water the fields, and refresh the parched furrows. But what are they, compared to the exhaustless ocean of Jesus?
What is all that I enjoy here below, compared to the exuberant fullness of the heavenly bliss? O! then, how shall my soul be replenished—when possessed of this infinite All, through eternity itself!
8
HEAVENLY WISDOM
J. C. Philpot
“The Comforter, the Holy Spirit…. will teach
you all things.” John 14:26
There is a heavenly wisdom which the Holy and Blessed Spirit alone can give. He sheds a sacred light on His own word of truth, and by His personal and living
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teachings—opens, enlarges, and persuades the heart to receive what He thus shows and teaches.
However valuable and blessed the book of God is, we cannot be made wise unto salvation by the word itself—without the special teachings of the Holy Spirit as a personal and living instructor. He can suit His teachings to our case; knows when, where, and how to teach us; can bear with our ignorance and stupidity; give us the right lesson at the right time and in the right way; and do for us what no earthly teacher can— write His own laws upon our hearts and give us will and power to keep and obey them.
“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you by the way that you should go.” Isaiah
48:17
8
THEY ARE SOON SEEN DANCING
ALONG THE SLIPPERY PATH!
Archibald Alexander, “Thoughts on Religious Experience” 1844
There is a class of people, who seem never to feel the force of Christian truth. They are such as spend their whole waking hours in the giddy whirl of amusement and social company. Full of health and spirits, and optimistic in their hopes of enjoyment from the world—they put away ‘serious reflection’ as the very bane of pleasure. The very name of Jesus is hateful to them: and all they ask of Christian people is to let them alone, that they may seize the pleasures of life while within their reach.
If we may judge from appearances, this class is very large. We find them in the many places of fashionable resort. The theater, the ballroom, and the very streets
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are full of such. They flutter gaily along, and keep company with each other—while they are strangers to all serious reflection. If a Christian ever gets the opportunity of addressing a word of serious advice to them, their politeness may prevent them from behaving rudely—but no sooner is his back turned, than they laugh him to scorn, and hate and despise him for his endeavors. They habituate themselves to think that Christianity is an awkwardly foolish thing, and wonder how any person of sense can bear to attend to it.
Very often this high reverie of pleasure is short. In such a world as this, events are apt to occur which dash the ‘cup of sensual delights’ while it is at the lips. Death will occasionally intrude even upon this mirthful circle and put a speedy end to their unreasonable merriment. O how sad is the spectacle, to see one of these ‘votaries of fashion’ suddenly cut down, and carried to the grave! When mortal sickness seizes such people—their cruel friends make it their chief study to bar out every idea of true religion, and to flatter the poor dying creature with the hope of recovery—until death has actually seized his prey. Such an event produces a shock in the feelings of the others—but such is the buoyancy of their feelings and their forgetfulness of mournful events— that they are soon seen dancing along the slippery path, with as much insane thoughtlessness as before!
8
AN AVARICIOUS DISPOSITION
Archibald Alexander, “Letters to the Aged” 1844
“Beware! Keep yourselves from covetousness, for a man’s life doesn’t consist of the abundance of the things which he possesses.” Luke 12:15
Many begin life with little of the world’s goods; and the claims of an increasing family render it necessary to
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exercise much diligence and economy to make a living. But thus it often happens that an avaricious disposition under the semblance of necessity, and even of duty— strikes its roots deep into the soul, before the man is aware of any danger. Indeed, it is almost impossible to convince a man of the sin of covetousness, while he avoids open acts of injustice or fraud.
The folly of the miser who hoards his money without a thought of using it, is easily shown, and has often been ridiculed. But the truth is, that all ardent pursuit of worldly objects beyond what is necessary for the real needs of nature, might be demonstrated to be equally absurd.
“There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun: wealth kept by its owner to his harm. As he came forth from his mother’s womb, naked shall he go again as he came, and shall take nothing for his labor, which he may carry away in his hand. 16 This also is a grievous evil, that in all points as he came, so shall he go. And what profit does he have who labors for the wind?” Ecclesiastes 5
8
PRECIOUS LORD JESUS,
A Puritan Prayer
Precious Lord Jesus,
Give me faith to behold….
my name engraved in Your hand,
my soul and body redeemed by Your blood,
my sinfulness covered by Your life of pure obedience.
May….
Your comforts cheer me in my sorrows, Your strength sustain me in my trials, Your blessings revive me in my weariness,
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Your presence render me a fruitful tree of holiness, Your promises establish me in peace and joy,
Your revivings kindle in me undying devotion.
Search my heart. Show me more of my corruptions and helplessness, that I may….
flee to You, cling to You, rest in You,
as the beginning and end of my salvation.
May I never vex You by my indifference and waywardness; or grieve You by my cold welcome.
Answer my prayers, O Lord, for Your great name’s
sake.
8
COME TO CHRIST AS MARY MAGDALENE DID!
Jonathan Edwards, “Directions How to Conduct Yourself in Your Christian Course”—A Letter addressed to a young lady in the year 1741
“Behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that he was reclining in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of ointment. Standing behind at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears, and she wiped them with the hair of her head, kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.” Luke 7:37-38
When you engage in the duty of prayer, or come to the Lord’s supper, or attend any other duty of divine worship—come to Christ as Mary Magdalene did! Come, and cast yourself at His feet, and kiss them, and pour forth upon Him the sweet perfumed ointment of divine love, out of a pure and broken heart, as she poured the precious perfume out of her pure broken alabaster jar!
8
–56–

SNARES, GINS, AND TRAPS!
James Meikle, “The Traveler” 1730–1799
I am exposed to temptations from every quarter. As my finite wisdom cannot prevent my being tempted, so my feeble power cannot resist being overtaken by them. I have Your grace to adore, that I am not overcome with every temptation which assaults me.
Human nature is like a pile of dry wood shavings; and temptation is like a spark of fire cast into it. It must be divine power that hinders all from going into a blaze! O kind compassion! O tender mercy! O glorious grace! I am nothing; hence I shall think humbly of myself—but highly of Your grace.
What a thorny path is human life! How is it strewed with snares, gins, and traps—for head and feet, for heart and hands. If I lift up my head in pride, I fall into the condemnation of the devil. If I am not watchful in my goings, I am cast into a net by my own feet, and walk into a snare. Vanity is ready to fill my heart, and wickedness my hands. Satan has his deceptive and powerful weapons against each of my bodily senses. I am beset with snares on every side!
Two lessens I am taught, which, through grace, I never shall forget:

  1. To be distrustful of myself.
  2. To be confident in God, and strong in His grace.
    “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1
    “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 8
    –57–

BEWARE THEN OF THE VORTEX OF WORLDLINESS!
Archibald Alexander, “Counsels of the Aged to the Young” 1844
Another danger against which you must be watchful is pleasure—sensual pleasure. Worldly amusements, however innocent they may appear, are replete with hidden dangers! These scenes exhilarate the spirits, and excite the imagination—until ‘reason’ and ‘conscience’ are hushed, and the real end of living is forgotten.
For the sake of pleasure, everything important and sacred is neglected—and the most valuable part of human life wasted in unprofitable engagements. Beware then of the vortex of worldliness, and especially of the least approach towards the ‘gulf of intemperance.’ On that slippery ground, many strong men have fallen, never to rise.
The trophies of this insidious and destructive vice, are widely spread on every side; and the wise and the godly have come to the conclusion that there is no effectual security against this enemy, but in a resolute and persevering abstinence.
Seek your happiness, dear youth, in the pursuit of useful objects and in the performance of duty—and then you will be safe, and will have no reason to envy the votaries of sensual pleasure.
8
IF GOD SHOULD DAMN YOU FOR ALL ETERNITY
John Flavel, “The Fountain of Life”
If the death of Christ was that which satisfied God for all the sins of the elect, then certainly there is an infinite evil in sin, since it cannot be expiated but by an infinite satisfaction. Fools make a mock at sin, and
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there are but few people who are duly sensible of, and affected with—the evil of sin.
If God should damn you for all eternity, your eternal sufferings could not pay for the evil that is in one vain thought! It may be you may think this is harsh and severe—that God should hold His creatures under everlasting sufferings for sin. But when you have well considered, that the One against whom you sin is the infinite blessed God, and that sin is an infinite evil committed against Him; and when you consider how God dealt with the angels that fell, for one sin—you will alter your minds about it!
O the depth of the evil of sin! If ever you will see how dreadful and horrid an evil, sin is, you must measure it either by the infinite holiness and excellency of God, who is wronged by it; or by the infinite sufferings of Christ, who died to pay its penalty; and then you will have deeper apprehensions of the evil of sin.
8
THE MOST HIDDEN, SECRET, AND
DECEITFUL OF ALL LUSTS
Jonathan Edwards, “Directions How to Conduct Yourself in Your Christian Course”—A letter addressed to a young lady in the year 1741
“The fear the Lord is to hate evil. I hate pride, arrogance, the evil way, and the perverse mouth.” Proverbs 8:13
Remember that pride is the worst viper that is in the heart, the greatest disturber of the souls peace, and of sweet communion with Christ. Pride….
was the first sin committed,
lies lowest in the foundation of Satan’s whole building, and is with the greatest difficulty rooted out.
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Pride is the most hidden, secret, and deceitful of all lusts— and often creeps insensibly into the midst of religion, even, sometimes, under the disguise of humility itself!
8
THE DAILY BUSINESS OF A CHRISTIAN
William Plumer, “Vital Godliness: A Treatise on Experimental and Practical Piety” 1864
The daily business of a Christian is to…. resist the devil,
deny himself,
overcome the world,
crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts, imitate Christ,
walk with God.
8
FULLNESS OF JOY!
“Solitude Sweetened” by James Meikle, 1730–1799 “In Your presence there is fullness of joy! At Your right
hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11
In this present life I may have some tainted pleasures; but in eternity, I shall always have pure delights and holy raptures!
In this life I may have at times a measure of health; but in eternity, I shall always have perpetual vigor!
In this life I may have some acres of ground; but in eternity, I shall always have an unbounded inheritance in the heavenly Canaan!
Here, I may have fine clothing of silk; there I will have robes of righteousness and garments of glory!
Here I may have a beautiful house; there I will have a house not made with hands!
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Here I may have bread to eat and water to drink; there I will have the hidden manna and the river of life!
Here I may have a portion of the good things of time; there I will have the glorious treasures of eternity!
As to spiritual things, in this life I may have some communications of grace; but in eternity, I shall have eternal glory!
Here I have freedom from the reign of sin; there I will have deliverance from the presence of sin!
Here I have glances of heaven by faith; there I will have immediate vision of glory!
Here I have God in His ordinances; there I will have uninterrupted communion with Him!
Here I have some experience of His love; there I will have all the transports of eternal assurance and everlasting bliss!
Here I have access to the throne of grace; there I will have continuous attendance at the throne of glory!
Here I often sin against God; there I shall never offend
His holy heart!
8
DUTIES OF PARENTS
By Richard Baxter
Ungodly parents are the greatest servants of the devil in all the world, and the bloodiest enemies to their children’s souls! More souls are damned by ungodly parents, than by all other instruments!

  1. Understand and lament the corrupted and miserable state of your children, which they have derived from you.
  2. Train them up in exact OBEDIENCE to yourselves—and –61–

break them of their own wills. The common course of parents is to please their children so long, by letting them have what they crave, and what they desire, until their wills are so used to be fulfilled, that they cannot endure to have them denied; and so can endure no government, because they endure no crossing of their wills.
To be obedient, is to renounce their own wills, and be ruled by their parents’ wills. To allow them therefore to have their own wills, is to teach them disobedience, and harden and train them to a kind of impossibility of obeying. Tell them often and lovingly of the excellency of obedience, and how it pleases God, and what need they have of government, and how unfit they are to govern themselves, and how dangerous it is to children to have their own wills. Speak often with great disgrace of self-willedness and stubbornness—and teach them what has befallen self-willed children.

  1. In all your speeches of God, and of the holy Scripture, or the life to come, or of any holy duty—speak always with gravity, seriousness, and REVERENCE—as of the most great and solemn and most sacred things. For before children come to have any distinct understanding of particulars, it is a hopeful beginning to have their hearts possessed with a general reverence and high esteem of holy matters. For this will continually awe their consciences, and help their judgments, and settle them against prejudice and profane contempt, and be as a seed of holiness in them. For the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 9:10; 1:7. The very manner of the parents’ speech and demeanor, expressing great reverence to the things of God, has a very great power to leave the similar impression on a child. Most children of godly parents, who later became pious, can tell you this by experience—that from early
    –62–

childhood they learned to reverence holy things—which the speech and demeanor of their parents taught them.

  1. Let it be the principal part of your care and labor in all their education, to make HOLINESS appear to them the most necessary, honorable, gainful, pleasant, delightful, amiable state of life; and to keep them from apprehending it either as needless, dishonorable, hurtful, or uncomfortable. Especially draw them to the love of it— by representing it as lovely. The whole skill of parents for the pious education of their children, consists in this—to make them conceive of holiness as the most amiable and desirable life—by representing it to them in words and practice—not only as most necessary, but also as most profitable, honorable, and delightful. “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” Proverbs 3:17.
  2. Speak often to them of the brutish baseness and sinfulness of FLESH-PLEASING SENSUALITY; and of the greater excellency of the pleasures of the mind, which consist in wisdom, and in doing good. Your chief care must be to save them from flesh-pleasing; which is not only in general the sum of all iniquity—but that which in particular, children are most prone to. For their flesh and sense are very lively—and they lack not only faith, but clear reason to resist it. And so besides their natural depravity the custom of obeying sense which is in strength without reason which is in childhood is almost useless does much increase this pernicious sin. And therefore continually labor to imprint in their minds an odious dislike of a flesh pleasing life. Speak bitterly to them against gluttony, and drunkenness, and excess of amusements.
  3. To this end, and also for the health of their bodies, keep a strict guard upon their APPETITES which they are not able to guard themselves. Keep them as exactly as you
    –63–

can to the rules of reason, both in the quantity and quality of their food. Yet tell them the reason of your restraint, or else they will secretly strive the more to break their bounds. Most parents are guilty of the great hurt and danger of their children’s health and souls, by pleasing and glutting them with food and drink. If I should call them devils and murderers to their own children, they would think I spoke too harshly. They destroy their souls by accustoming them to be ruled by their appetites; which later in life, all the teaching in the world will hardly ever overcome, without the special grace of God. What is all the vice and villainy in the world, but the pleasing of the desires of the flesh? And when they are habituated to this, they are rooted in their sin and misery.

  1. For sports and RECREATIONS, let them be such, and so much—as may be needful to their health and cheer- fulness. But not so much as may carry away their minds from better things, and draw them away from their books or other duties; nor such as may tempt them to gaming or covetousness. Children must have convenient sport for the health of the body and alacrity of the mind. Such recreations which exercise their bodies, is best. Cards and dice, and such idle games, are every way most unfit, as tending to hurt both body and mind. Their time also must be limited them, that their play may not be more important than their work. As soon as they have the use of any reason and speech, they should be taught some better things, and not left until they are five or six years of age, to do nothing—thus acquiring the habit of wasting all their time in play. Children are very early capable of learning something which may prepare them for more useful things.
  2. Use all your wisdom and diligence to root out the sin of PRIDE. And to that end, do not as is usual with foolish
    –64–

parents please them by telling them how wonderful they are. But train them to humility and plainness, and speak disgracefully of pride and conceit—to breed an averseness to it in their minds. Cause them to learn such texts of Scripture as speak of God’s abhorring and resisting the proud—and of his loving and honoring the humble. When they see other children who are greedy for worldly things, speak of this as their shame—that your children may not desire to be like them. Speak against boasting, and every other way of pride which they are liable to. And yet give them the praise for all that is noble—for that is but their due encouragement.

  1. Speak to them disgracefully of the extravagance, and pomp, and riches of the WORLD, and of the sin of selfishness and covetousness; and diligently watch against it, and all that may tempt them to it. When they see great houses, and extravagance, and luxury—tell them that these are the devil’s baits, to entice poor sinners to love this world, that they may lose their souls, and the world to come. Tell them how much heaven excels all this; and that the lovers of the world can never go there; but only the humble, and meek, and poor in spirit enter heaven. Tell them of the rich glutton in Luke 16, who was thus clothed in purple and silk, and feasted sumptuously every day; but when he came to hell, could not get a drop of water to cool his tongue; when Lazarus was in the joys of paradise.
    Do not do as the wicked do—who entice their children to worldliness and covetousness, by giving them all that they desire, and by speaking highly of all who are rich and great in worldly things. But tell them how much happier a poor believer is; and withdraw all that may tempt their minds to covetousness. All this will be little enough to cure this pernicious sin.
  2. Keep them as much as may be from EVIL COMPANY, –65–

especially from ungodly play-fellows. This is one of the greatest dangers for the undoing of children in the world. Especially when they are sent to common schools—for there is scarcely any of those schools so good, but has many crude and ungodly ill-taught children in it; who will speak profanely, and filthily, and make their ribald and railing speeches a matter of boasting; besides fighting, and gaming and scorning, and neglecting their lessons. And they will make a scorn of him who will not do as they, if not beat and abuse him.
And there is such tinder in nature for these sparks to flame upon, that most children—when they hear others take God’s name in vain, or sing lewd songs, or talk filthy words, or call one another by reproachful names—do quickly imitate them. And even when you have watched over your children at home as closely as you can, they are infected abroad with such beastly vices, as they are hardly ever after cured of.
Therefore let those who are able, either educate their children most at home, or in private and well ordered schools; and those who cannot do so, must be the more exceeding watchful over them, and charge them to associate with the best. Speak to your children of the odiousness of these practices, and the wickedness of those who use them; and speak very disgracefully of such ungodly children. And when all is done, it is a great mercy of God, if they are not undone by the force of the contagion, notwithstanding all your antidotes!
Those therefore who venture their children into profane schools and company—to learn the fashions and customs of the world, upon the pretense that otherwise they will be ignorant of the course of the world, and ill-bred—may think of themselves and their own reasonings as well as they please. But for my part,
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I would rather make my son a chimney-sweeper, than be guilty of doing so much to sell or betray him to the devil!

  1. Teach your children to know the preciousness of TIME, and allow them not to misspend an hour. Be often speaking to them how precious a thing time is, and how short man’s life is, and how great his work, and how our endless life of joy or misery depends on this little time. Speak odiously to them of the sin of those who play and idle away their time. Keep account of all their hours, and allow them not to lose any by excess of sleep, or excess of play, or any other way; but engage them still in some employment that is worthy of their time.
    Train up your children in a life of diligence and labor, and do not accustom them to ease and idleness when they are young. Many children are taught no calling, nor exercised in any employment, but only such as is fit for nothing but ornament and recreation at the best. Recreation should have but a small proportion of their time. So that by the sin of their parents, many are early engaged in a life of idleness, which afterward is almost impossible for them to overcome. They are taught to live like swine or vermin—which live only to live, and do small good in the world by living. They rise, and dress, and adorn themselves, and go to dinner, and thence to cards or dice, or chat and idle talk, or some play, or idle visit, or recreation; and so to supper, and to chat again, and then to bed. This is the lamentable life of too many who have great obligations to God.
  2. Let your own EXAMPLE teach your children that holiness, and heavenliness, and blamelessness of tongue and life—which you desire for them to learn and practice. The example of parents is most powerful with children, both for good and evil. If they see that
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you live in the fear of God, it will do much to persuade them, that it is the most necessary and excellent course of life, and that they must do so too. But if they see you live a carnal, indulgent, and worldly life—it will greatly embolden them to imitate you. If you speak ever so well to them, they will sooner believe your bad lives, than your good words.

  1. Let them perceive that you dearly LOVE them, and that all your commands, restraints, and corrections are for their good, and not merely because you will have it so. If they perceive that you dearly love them, they will obey you the more willingly, and the easier be brought to repent of their disobedience. And they will as well obey you in heart as in outward actions; and behind your back as before your face. And their love for you which must be caused by your love to them must be one of the chief means to bring them to the love of all that good which you commend to them; and so to form their wills sincerely to the will of God, and make them holy. If you are too cold to them, and too harsh, they will only fear you, and not much love you; and then they will love no books, no practices, which you commend to them. Nay, it will tempt them to loathe your government, and all that good which you persuade them to, and make them like birds in a cage, which watch for an opportunity to get away and get their liberty. They will be the more in the company of evil and idle children, because your terror and coldness makes them take no delight in your company. And fear will make them liars—as often as a lie seems necessary to their escape.
    Parents who show much love to their children, may safely show severity when they commit a fault. For then they will see, that it is their fault alone, which displeases you, and not their persons; and your love
    –68–

reconciles them to you when they are corrected. Correction from parents who are always cold or angry, and show no tender love to their children—will alienate them, and do no good. Tender love, with severity only when they sin—is the only way to do them good.
If God denies you children, and saves you all this care and labor; do not repine, but be thankful, believing it is best for you. Remember what a deal of duty, and pains, and heart’s grief He has freed you from, and how few children become godly—even when parents have done their best. Remember what a life of misery children must here pass through, and how sad the fear of their sin and damnation would have been to you.
8
YOURS! MINE!
John Flavel, “The Fountain of Life”
Lord, the condemnation was Yours, that the justification
might be mine!
The agony was Yours, that the victory might be mine!
The pain was Yours, and the ease mine!
The stripes were Yours, and the healing balm issuing from them mine!
The vinegar and gall were Yours, that the honey and sweet might be mine!
The curse was Yours, that the blessing might be mine! The crown of thorns was Yours, that the crown of glory
might be mine!
The death was Yours, the life purchased by it mine!
You paid the price, that I might enjoy the inheritance!
8
–69–

THE FULLNESS OF HIS GRACE
Octavius Winslow, “From Grace to Glory” 1864
“From His fullness we all received grace upon grace.” John 1:16
Will you hesitate, then, child of God, to sink your emptiness in this fullness; to drink abundantly from this supply; to go to Jesus….
with every sin, the greatest;
with every temptation, the strongest; with every need, the deepest;
with every trial, the severest;
with your mental despondency,
your lowest spiritual frame;
yes, exactly as you are—
and receive from Christ’s boundless grace—grace to help you in the time of need? Hesitate not!
Every drop of Christ’s fullness of grace is yours! And you have….
not a sin this grace cannot cancel,
not a corruption it cannot subdue,
not a trial it cannot sustain,
not a burden it cannot enable you to bear.
Yes, the Lord will give grace! He will give us grace for every position in which His providence places us. He will give sustaining grace under every trial He sends us. He will give preserving grace in every path of peril along which He leads us. He will give comforting grace in every afflictive dispensation by which He seeks to promote our holiness here, and so to advance our fitness for glory hereafter.
There is no stintiness, no limit in the Triune God. He has given you grace for past exigencies, and He is prepared to give you more grace for present ones!
8
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O LORD! I DESIRE TO BE HUMBLED
James Meikle, July 1752. From a paper found among his remains
Under a sense of my sins and unmerited mercies, I desire through grace, in sincerity and humility of soul, to approach to the Author of all my mercies, and to lay before You, O merciful Father! all my plans—desiring Your divine direction.
And, in the first place, I confess my own sins. I desire to be humbled under my natural proneness to evil and aversion to good; for my many sinful thoughts, which You, O Lord, know; for my wrong conceptions of the great Jehovah, and the smallness of my holy fear when in Your presence, calling on You before whom all the earth should tremble.
I also desire to be humbled for my limiting God, as if he were not Almighty; for not placing all my faith and hope on Him alone, but on appearances and probabilities; for my ingratitude to God for His many matchless mercies to me in feeding and clothing me, and giving me favor in the eyes of men with whom I had to do. Providence has never failed me, but always supplied me; yet in the time of prosperity I sinned, and joined with sinners in their follies, which now I lament, and desire to be humbled for.
O to learn the language of Your rod!
O Lord! I desire to be humbled for….
all my prevailing lusts and passions;
my spiritual pride,
my ignorance of the things of God,
my barrenness under the gospel,
my lukewarmness about the things of Christ; my carelessness about pious duties.
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Ah! that ever I should doubt the good will of Him who heard my cry and delivered me out of the hand of my fierce afflictions, manifesting His mighty power. I desire to be humbled for my earthly-mindedness and my desire after temporal things—riches, honor, and glory—which perish and pass away. I desire to be humbled for that great mountain of sins accumulated on me since my last season of prayer.
And now I desire to lay before You my petitions. And first of all, O to be daily getting nearer and nearer You; to be growing more and more acquainted with lovely Jesus, increasing more and more in grace, becoming more and more like You, and daily less conformed to the world; to be delighting more and more in spiritual things, given more and more to meditation on the glory to be revealed, loving Him more and more, who loved me!
O to be delighting in God all the day long, living in His fear as before Him always, learning more and more submission to His disposals in providence, and more and more persuaded of the rectitude of His will, the equity of His law, the longness of His patience, and His care of His own. O to get some victory over prevailing sin, and that which so easily besets me! O, Let never the greed for money get a hold of my heart; keep me from covetousness.
Now, O Lord, in the hope that You will hear, I lay all my petitions before You. Choose what you will, cast away what you will—I will be content. I commit myself to You. I take You as my God and Father, for my Savior, for my Sanctifier forever. O hear!
I desire in truth, O majestic Jehovah! to call these heavens over my head, the hills and mountains around me, the growing grass—to be witnesses, that I this day
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subscribe with my hand to be Yours, wholly Yours. Amen, amen! So be it! 8
IF YOU WISH TO BECOME WEAK-HEADED,
UNSTABLE, AND GOOD FOR NOTHING
Harvey Newcomb, “The Young Lady’s Guide to the Harmonious Development of Christian Character” 1843
Novel reading produces a morbid appetite for mental excitement. The object of the novelist generally is, to produce the highest possible degree of excitement, both of the mind and the passions. The effect is very similar to that of intoxicating liquors on the body. Hence the confirmed novel reader becomes a kind of literary inebriate, to whom the things of eternity have no attractions, and whose thirst cannot be slaked, even with the water of life.
Novel reading is a great waste of time. Few will pretend that they read novels with any higher end in view than mere amusement. If anything valuable is to be derived from them, it may be obtained with far less expense of time, and with safety to the morals, from other sources. No Christian, who feels the obligation of “redeeming the time because the days are evil,” will fail to feel the force of this remark. We have no more right to squander our time and waste our energies in frivolous pursuits—than we have to waste our money in extravagant expenditures! We are as much the stewards of God in respect to the one as the other. How dangerous thus to parley with temptation!
If you wish to become weak-headed, unstable, and good for nothing—read novels!
Mr. Hall comments—“If we would divide the novels of the present day into a thousand parts; five hundred of
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these parts must be at once condemned as so contemptibly frivolous as to render the perusal of them a most criminal waste of time!
Four hundred and ninety-nine of the remaining five hundred parts are positively corrupting in their influence. They are as full of representations which can have no other tendency than to mislead, corrupt, and destroy—those who habitually peruse them.
Perhaps highest merit than that can be attributed to novels, by some, is that they are ‘innocent and amusing compositions.’ This merit, small as it is, is greater than can be conceded. All books are not innocent which may be exempt from the charge of disseminating secularism and licentiousness. If they….
convey false impressions of life,
excite a distaste for its duties,
and divert the mind from real life to fantasies,
they are decidedly pernicious. This, to a greater or less extent, is the effect of all novels. Every discerning reader knows this to be the fact.”
Hannah More comments—“Novels, however free from evil in their more gross and palpable shapes, yet, from their very nature and constitution, they diminish sober mindedness. At best, they feed habits of improper indulgence, while nourishing a vain and visionary indolence, which lays the mind open to error, and the heart to seduction!”
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CURSED SIN!
John Flavel, “The Fountain of Life” 1671
O how inflexible and severe is the justice of God! What, no abatement? no sparing mercy?
No, not even to His own Son!
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Cultivate a deep indignation against sin.
Oh cursed sin! It was you who slew my dear Lord! For your sake He underwent all this! If your vileness had not been so great, His sufferings had not been so many. Cursed sin! You were the knife which stabbed Him! You the sword which pierced Him!
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LOPSIDED RELIGION
Harvey Newcomb, “The Young Lady’s Guide to the Harmonious Development of Christian Character” 1843
There is, perhaps, a peculiar tendency to lopsided religion in our age of excitement and activity.
Nothing delights the senses like harmony. The eye rests with pleasure on the edifice which is complete in all its parts, according to the laws of architecture. And the sensation of delight is still more exquisite, on viewing the harmonious combination of colors, as exhibited in the rainbow, or the flowers of the field. The ear, also, is ravished with the harmony of musical sounds; and the palate is delighted with savory dishes.
The beauty and loveliness of Christian character depend on the harmonious culture of all the Christian graces in due proportion. If one is deficient, and another too prominent, the idea of deformity strikes the mind with painful sensations; like harsh, discordant musical sounds; or like the disproportionate combination of colors.
Where all the graces exist in due proportion, they will form a lovely character, harmonious and beautiful as the colors of the rainbow.
The beauty of the Christian character greatly depends on its symmetrical proportions. A person may be very
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zealous in some things, and yet quite defective in his Christian character; and the probability is, that he has no more true religion than shows itself in its consistent proportions.
The new energy imparted by the regenerating grace of God may unite itself with the strong points of his character, and produce a very prominent development; while, in regard to those traits of character which are naturally weak in his constitutional temperament, grace may be scarcely perceptible. The error lies in cultivating, almost exclusively, those graces which are most agreeable with our prominent traits of character.
We should bend our energies, by the grace of God, chiefly to the development of those points of character which are naturally weak; while we discipline, repress, and bring under control, those which are too prominent. This will prevent deformity, and promote a uniform consistency of character.
The perfection of Christian character consists in the harmonious development of the Christian graces.
YOU ARE THE ONE WHO HAS DONE THIS!
John Flavel, “The Fountain of Life” 1671
“I was mute, I didn’t open my mouth, Because you did it.” Psalm 39:9
Look upwards, when tribulations come upon you! Look to that sovereign Lord, who commissions and sends them upon you. You know that troubles do not rise out of the dust, nor spring out of the ground, but are framed in heaven.
Troubles and afflictions are of the Lord’s framing and devising, to reduce His wandering people to Himself.
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You may observe much of divine wisdom in the choice, measure, and season of your troubles.
God acts sovereignly, in electing the instruments of your affliction; in making them as afflictive as He pleases; and in making them obedient both to His call, in coming and going, when He pleases. Now, could you in times of trouble look up to this sovereign hand, in which your souls, bodies, and all their comforts and mercies are—how quiet would your hearts be!
Oh, when we have to do with men, and look no higher, how do our spirits swell and rise with revenge and impatience! But if you once come to see that man as a rod in your Father’s hand, you will be quiet. “Be still, and know that I am God.” Consider with whom you have to do; not with your fellow, but with your God, who can puff you to destruction with one blast of His mouth; in whose hand you are, as the clay in the potter’s hand.
It is for lack of looking up to God in our troubles, that we fret, murmur, and despond at the rate we do.
“It is the Lord. Let Him do what seems Him good.” 1
Samuel 3:18
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PEEVISH FOR TOYS AND TRIFLES
James Meikle, “Solitude Sweetened”
O for what trifles, will men cast away their precious souls!
It is proper only to children, not to men—to be peevish for toys and trifles. So let the men of this world lament the loss of worldly vanities. But let the heirs of God, the joint-heirs with Christ, rejoice that the treasures of eternity are theirs!
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“But blessed are your eyes, for they see.” Happy are those who have the eyes of their mind opened, and clearly see….
the deformity of sin,
the beauty of holiness,
the excellency of piety,
the necessity of the new birth, the preciousness of Christ, the glory of eternal realities.
I see the mutable and fickle state of temporal things, and therefore hold a loose grip on the creature, however dear, however near—and set my affections on things which are above!8
VAGRANT BUTTERFLIES
Thomas Reade
Earthly vanities can never satisfy the enlarged desires of an immortal soul. This is the reason why worldly people are so restless and changeable.
Temporal objects soon cloy and satiate, therefore worldlings fly from flower to flower like vagrant butterflies—until death closes their idle chase after an unreal happiness!
Did they possess true wisdom, they would discover the source of true felicity.
Christ and happiness are inseparable. If we find true happiness, it is because we have found Christ; for….
the pardon of sin,
peace with God,
purity of heart, and
the hope of glory,
cannot fail to render the believer blessed.
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A MIRACLE OF OMNIPOTENT GRACE!
Anne Dutton’s Letters on Spiritual Subjects
A soul kept alive in God, and for Him, amid sin’s, Satan’s, and the world’s heart-killing influence—is a miracle of omnipotent grace!
A GREY HEAD, AND A CARNAL WORLDLY HEART
James Meikle, “The Traveler” Dec. 26, 1761
Hitherto I have looked upon myself as young, and coming to the prime of my life. But henceforth I shall consider myself as in my declining years. I am certain how long I have lived in the world—but quite uncertain how soon I must leave the world. And therefore I should be preparing for my final departure, and daily be ripening for the regions of bliss!
A young man, and a holy life; one in his prime, and all his graces flourishing—is lovely to behold.
But a grey head, and a carnal worldly heart, is a wounding sight! Henceforth, be gone bewitching vanities, and all the enchantments of the world! The last years of my life are not to be trifled away with you!
Death attends me! The grave awaits me! Eternity is at hand!
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IN THE PROFOUND DEPTH OF AFFLICTION
James Meikle, “Solitude Sweetened” 1730–1799
Christians, when shut up in the depths of affliction, have their eyes on God alone, who can bring them out of the horrible pit, out of the miry clay. Then their
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thoughts ascend to heaven, and heaven shines down into their souls; while the world, in all its glittering vanities which strike the carnal eye—is cut off.
In the dark night of adversity, there are spiritual beauties seen, which were never seen in the broad day of prosperity. O desirable distress! which discloses and magnifies heavenly excellences—and diminishes earthly vanities!
In no place better than in the profound depth of affliction, does the heir of future glory see….
the love,
the goodness,
the mercy,
the wisdom of God,
the excellency of true religion,
the beauty of divine things,
the danger of prosperity,
the deceitfulness of riches,
the vanity of created things,
the happiness of the world to come.
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JUST BECAUSE HE DISPOSES ALL THINGS
James Meikle, “Converse with the Unseen World” “Our God is in the heavens. He does whatever He pleases.”
Psalm 115:3
“But He stands alone, and who can oppose him? What His
soul desires, even that He does.” Job 23:13
While I might wish to change some things in my situation in life, I reflect that the wisdom of that gracious God who rules for me is so perfect, that any other situation in life would not be good for me. Now, though I cannot now understand how such and such circumstances are for my good, yet I know that His
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wisdom is a thousand times better than mine. So I should be silent in whatever He sees fit to send me. Moreover, I should adore His sovereignty, and submit to His disposal in all things—just because He disposes all things.
“For I know that the Lord is great, that our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the Lord pleased, that He has done, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.” Psalm 135:5-6
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past tracing out!” Romans 11:33
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THIS LITTLE INCH OF TIME!
James Meikle, “The Traveler” 1730–1799
“Time is short.” 1 Corinthians 7:29
Time is precious—though misspent, though thought little of. Oh! what great things are to be done in this little inch of time!
Think much on death—that you may not be too much charmed with the ‘vanities of life.’
Remember the deceitfulness and uncertainty of riches—so shall you neither be puffed up with their possession, nor pained at their loss.
Think much on the unseen world, and let the certainty of that which is to come, dispel the ‘delusion of the present’—which so quickly passes away.
Eye God’s glory in everything, and prefer the approbation of God and your own conscience, to the applause of men. Better be the object of man’s ridicule, than the subject of God’s wrath.
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Beware that you live not for yourself, or the world. But live above the world, for eternity, and to God.
“Therefore watch carefully how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise; redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16
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WHAT SHALL THE SWEARER SAY?
James Meikle, “The Traveler” June 15, 1758
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” Exodus 20:7
How justly will God, the righteous Judge, repay the imprecations into the bosoms of these blasphemers!
They sin in sport—but God hears in earnest, and will punish in zeal. They call on God profanely in their words; and God hears, and will answer them in wrath!
They swear, and forget—but God has sworn that He will remember. That which they think adds vigor to their words—shall indeed add anguish to their grief, and fierceness to their torments!
What shall the swearer say, when tossing on the fiery billows, shrieking under consummate despair! “O miserable state of intolerable torments, which I must endure! How shall I spend this eternity of pain! It was nothing to me in time to hear others curse and blaspheme—and to join in the infernal dialect myself! And now I am encircled with unceasing blasphemies, from all the legions of demons, from all the millions of miserable sinners, suffering under infinite vengeance! And I mingle in the uproar, and join in the terrible tumult against the throne of God, although dreadfully tortured in my rebellion. Then, curses accented every
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sentence; now, every sentence is one continued curse! I thought God was altogether such a one as myself—and that He would never remember my swearings, which I never minded, nor call me to account for committing what I made no account of. Damn me! damn me! was always on my tongue—and now I am damned forever! The oaths and curses which I sowed in time, have now sprung up into bitter bewailings, and eternal blasphemings! As I took pleasure in cursing, so it is come unto me—but with inexpressible pain! O eternity, eternity, how long!”
“They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores. They didn’t repent of their works.” Revelation 16:11
This is, indeed, the lamentable end of profane swearers, who shall confess the equity of God in their torments!
But, as the wicked shall be repaid according to their ways, so shall the righteous be in theirs. All their imperfect….
attainments, longings, wrestlings, hopes, desires, prayers, meditations, tears,
godly sorrows,
spiritual joys,
and the seeds of every other grace—
shall come to a wondrous conclusion at last. Now they serve God with weakness—but then they shall enjoy Him with a vigorous immortality! They sow in tears, and go weeping heavenward—but shall possess Him in
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a triumphant state, where sorrow and signing shall
forever flee away!
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THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE GODLY & THE UNGODLY
James Meikle, “The Traveler” June 14, 1758 There is a wide difference—in both principle and
practice—between the godly and the ungodly.
The affections of the godly are refined—and their desires exalted. The inclinations of the ungodly are corrupt—and their desires groveling.
Sin has but a tottering standing, and a momentary abode—in the godly. But sin has fixed its throne, and taken up its eternal residence—in the ungodly.
In the godly, grace and sin struggle for sovereignty. In the ungodly, sin domineers and there is no struggle.
The godly is deeply concerned about world to come. The ungodly has no concern about eternal realities.
The speech of the godly is seasoned with grace. The discourse of the ungodly is insipid and vain.
The godly has his hope fixed on God. The ungodly has no fear of God before his eyes.
The godly use the world without abusing it. The ungodly, in using the world, abuse both themselves and it.
The godly confesses God in his daily life, and rejoices with his whole heart in Him. The ungodly says in his practice—“there is no God” and wishes in his heart, that there were no God.
The godly adores the Creator above all else. The ungodly worships the ‘creature’ more than the Creator.
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The godly uses God’s name with profoundest reverence, and departs from iniquity. The ungodly profanes God’s name with impudence, and adds iniquity to sin.
The godly redeems his time. The ungodly trifles away his time.
The godly studies his duty in obedience to all God’s precepts. The ungodly shakes himself loose from every command of God.
The godly forgives his foes. The ungodly lays a snare for his foes.
The godly commits it to God to avenge his wrong. The ungodly, fiery and tumultuous—seeks revenge.
The godly loves chastity in all things. The ungodly wallows in uncleanness.
The godly is content with his condition. The ungodly covets all the day long.
The godly is pure in heart. The heart of the ungodly is like a cage full of unclean birds.
The godly walks at liberty in the ways of God. The ungodly is the servant and slave of sin.
The Holy Spirit rules in the heart of the godly. Satan rules in the heart of the ungodly.
The godly has his conversation in heaven. The ungodly has his conversation in hell.
As there is such a wide difference in their principles and practices—so also, in their eternal destinies. God is faithful—He has promised felicity to the pious, and threatened vengeance to the wicked. “The wicked is brought down in his calamity, But in death, the righteous has a refuge.” Proverbs 14:32
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The godly are under the blessing of God’s love. The ungodly are under the curse of God’s law.
THE SHINING HEAP
James Meikle, “A Periodic Interview with the King of Terrors” June 6, 1775
A deceased person has left immense riches to a near friend. Some envy, others wonder—and all talk of it. But what can the bequeathed wealth do for the survivor? Alas! the shining heap cannot….
procure health,
banish sickness,
give peace of mind,
secure against anguish and disquiet, defend against the wrinkles of old age, bribe devouring death!
What advantage then, shall the obtaining of this vast wealth do to the possessor—who also in a little while must be stripped of all by death? How happy, then, to have my treasure laid up in heaven! For death, instead of tearing me from my possession like the men of the world—shall bring me to the full enjoyment of my everlasting all!
I cannot always live—but must at some period die. He is in a melancholy case—whom the prospect of death makes melancholy. But thrice happy he who rejoices in view of death. What are….
riches, honors, titles, family, friends, pleasures, delights—
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in the hour of death, in the day of eternity?
Again, what are…. poverty, disgrace, disappointment, loneliness,
pain,
anguish—
in the hour of death, in the day of eternity?
Then, whenever the vanities or vexations of time swell and appear big in my eyes, I will look to the hour of death, to the day of eternity—and see them decrease and forever disappear! 8
LAWFUL RECREATIONS
James Meikle, “A Periodic Interview with the King of Terrors” March 3, 1778
Time is one of the talents put into every man’s hand, and is more precious than we are well aware of.
To prepare for death, and to improve for eternity—may well employ our time though ever so long. O! then, how may my heart weep to think how much precious time I have trifled away! O to be wise in all time coming!
Lawful recreations are allowed by God. But in this, how soon may we go beyond what is lawful! Too much pleasure in them, too much time spent about them— spoils all. When our amusements become a part of our employment, or call us away from something more necessary or noble—it is high time to drop them altogether!
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GLUED TO THE WORLD
James Meikle, “A Periodic Interview with the King of Terrors” May 1, 1771
“For they indeed, for a few days, punished us as seemed good to them; but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.” Hebrews 12:10
It is common to complain of the troubles of life; yet they are kindly designed to loosen our affections from the world. If our life were all clear sunshine, without care or confusion, jar or contention, disappointment or pain—how would we be glued to the world, and cemented to the things of time—since amidst all the disasters which occur, we are still so attached to the transitory things!
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I AM GROWING WORSE EVERY DAY!
Archibald Alexander, “Growth in Grace” 1844
One of the best evidences of growth in grace, is a clearer and deeper insight into the evils of your own heart. But your first conclusion is apt to be—“I am growing worse every day! I see innumerable evils springing up within me which I never saw before!”
This person may be compared to one shut up in a dark room where he is surrounded by many loathsome objects. If a single ray of light is let into the room, he sees the more prominent objects. And if the light gradually increases, he sees more and more of the filth by which he has been surrounded. It was there before— but he did not perceive it. His increased knowledge of the fact is a sure evidence of increasing light.
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THE MOST LEARNED AND PROFOUND THEOLOGIAN
Archibald Alexander, “Growth in Grace” 1844
It is not the theologian, who is most likely to receive the right impression from the study of Scripture—but the humble, simple-hearted, contemplative Christian.
The most learned and profound theologian must learn to sit at the feet of Jesus in the spirit of a child, or he are not likely to be edified by his studies.
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AN UNFAVORABLE SOIL FOR THE GROWTH OF PIETY
Archibald Alexander, “The Spiritual Warfare”
Worldly prosperity has ever been found to be an unfavorable soil for the growth of piety. It….
blinds the mind to spiritual and eternal things,
dries up the spirit of prayer,
fosters pride and ambition,
furnishes the appropriate food to covetousness,
leads to a sinful conformity to the spirit, maxims, and
fashions of the world.
Very few have been enabled to pass this ‘ordeal’ without serious injury, and have come forth like the three children from Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace— without the smell of fire on their garments; but this could not have been unless the Son of Man had been with them! Such people use all their health, influence, and wealth in promoting the kingdom of Christ.
But generally, God in mercy refuses to give worldly prosperity to His children. He has “chosen the poor of this world, to be rich in faith”—that is, He has commonly chosen poverty as the safest condition for His children. His are “an afflicted and poor people—and they will take
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refuge in the name of the Lord.” Zephaniah 3:12
“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. But you, man of God, flee these things, and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.” 1 Timothy 6:10-11
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DANCING TO DESTRUCTION!
James Meikle, “The Traveler” 1730–1799
How should I hate sin, when I see….
how guilty it makes the soul,
how it debases even unto hell,
how the longer the captive lies in its chains—the
fetters grow stronger, and the captive weaker;
how it kindles hell,
how it scatters brimstone over the body,
how makes the language of the pit spew from the
tongue,
how makes its victims restless in its pursuit!
In a word, sin….
despises divine things,
proclaims rebellion against Heaven, and wages war against God!
Sin is that poison that makes a man go laughing to death—and dancing to destruction! Then, let my soul weep in secret places for those who cannot pity themselves, nor show compassion on their own souls, but….
live in a dream,
die in darkness,
and plunge into despair!
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ENCHANTING TRIFLES
James Meikle, “Converse with the Unseen World”
Never shall I attain to happiness, while I seek it in the creature, or expect it outside of heaven! O how little concern should I have with the things of time, who am so far on my journey towards eternity!
When the world gets into the affections, there is nothing but tumult and disorder there; this I have long found. But when heaven dwells within, the heart becomes a little heaven, and all is peace and serenity, composure and joy. O! then, to keep the heart barred against enchanting trifles, and to live above everything below. At the hour of death, I shall make my triumphant entry into the New Jerusalem, and from the walls of the holy city I shall bid defiance to all….
the cares of life,
the pleasures of sense,
my indwelling corruptions, and the legions of hell.8
A NOBLE INDIFFERENCE
James Meikle, “Converse with the Unseen World”
The brevity of time, and the near approach of eternity— give to the rightly-exercised soul a noble indifference about everything here on earth.
What does it matter whether I dwell in a palace or a prison—since it is but for a day, an hour, a moment! What disappointment should grieve me in time—if I shall possess God for eternity?
I look around me, and see multitudes eager on the chase, keen in the pursuit of created vanities, forgetful that this world is passing away. I look forward to the invisible world, and see multitudes in their eternal
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state, astonished at the stupidity men—that the ‘trifles of time’ should preponderate so much with them. I also find myself in the deluded throng of triflers, and condemn my own vain conduct.
A hundred years ago, the earth was filled with inhabitants, who are now in eternity. They then straggled along the road of human life with care and concern, with burdens and bitterness—but now are forever at their journey’s end.
I am now traveling the thorny path, and shall also shortly arrive at my eternal home. The interim is so short, that nothing that can befall me should either give much pain or pleasure. I am on the wing to the celestial paradise, and no blasts in my face shall hinder my flight to the city of God!
The brevity of time may be bitter to the sinner, because torment and eternity seize him in the same moment! But it must afford me joy, for the shorter my time, the nearer to my endless felicity! All the complicated afflictions of time must disappear when time is no more. Why, then, take deep concern, or heavy sorrow; or much joy, or lasting delight—at the ill or good of the few flying moments on our journey to eternity? My soul is immortal, and God is eternal. Therefore in God below, and in God above, in God in time, and in God in eternity—shall my soul find boundless pleasures and unfading bliss!
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LET ME LEAVE YOU, AND FLY INTO HIS ARMS!
James Meikle, “Converse with the Unseen World”
Where, dear angels—where do you carry my soul— which just left its dying body? “Commissioned from
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your Father’s throne, we come to carry you safely into His immediate presence.”
What dismal howling is that I hear behind us? “It is the last yells of hell’s old lion, at your safe escape.”
Ah! where am I now? What wonders rise around me! What fragrance meets me from the mountains of myrrh, from the hills of frankincense! I hear the voice of my Beloved! Sacred guardians—let me leave you, and fly into His arms!
Am I the one who lately lay tumbling and tossing on a deathbed—who now walks in beds of roses, and on banks of bliss? Am I the one who a little while ago, had weeping friends around his bed—who now am surrounded with angelic song, entranced with heavenly harmony, and ravished with delights? Am I the one who lately lay struggling with the pangs, and trembling at the approach of death—who now am above the reach of fear, and stroke of death?
But, O Majesty of heaven! I blush at my very entrance into Your courts—that I have been such a stranger here. What precious time have I wasted on toys and trifles, and despised the joy of angels and the work of heaven! Where are all the things of time now, which could once challenge God, for the possession of my heart? Why did not Your glorious being feast my meditations? Why did not Your love attract, constrain mine? Why did not the joys of heaven drown the fleeting joys, and dissipate the imaginary sorrows of the world? Why did I prostitute the temple of my soul to the idols of time? Why did I permit the world and self a place in that temple which the Godhead is to inhabit forever?
There are none before the throne but supreme lovers of God—a name I dare not claim; then, let me retire to the outmost confines of the land of bliss, as unworthy to be
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nearer. Ah! no! At your throne I will dwell forever, and glow in ardors, and dissolve in love! And the sacred spark, which sin and Satan, the world and self, smothered while below—shall burn a flame intense and strong through everlasting day!
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THE DEATH OF MY DEAR WIFE
James Meikle, “A Periodic Interview with the King of Terrors” November 6, 1781
Meikle was a surgeon. His wife died on October 14. Two weeks ago I took off a poor patient’s leg, with a view to preserve life and recover health. The operation was painful and much dreaded, but now seeming to do well, is approved of.
Infinite wisdom, then, in the death of my dear wife, has noble ends in view—
to wean me from the world,
to loosen my affections from the creature, to preserve the graces in my soul alive,
to prepare me for death,
to ripen me for glory.
O! then, as I am walking on the brink of eternity—may my meditation soar toward eternal things, and may my latter end never be out of my mind.
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LAWFUL PURSUITS
Archibald Alexander, “Thoughts on Religious Experience”
Lawful pursuits are more frequently a snare than those which are manifestly sinful. It is a duty “to provide things honest in the sight of all men”—but while this object is industriously pursued, the love of the world gradually gains ground. The possession of wealth is
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then viewed as important. Eternal things fade out of view, or viewed as at a great distance, and the impression from them is faint. Worldly entanglements are experienced; the spiritual life is weakened; a sickly state commences; and a sad declension ensues!
Alas! What a forlorn state he is now in! Where is the burning zeal with which he commenced his course? Where now are the comforts of piety, with which he was so entirely satisfied, that the world was viewed as an empty bauble? Where now is his spirit of prayer, which made this duty his delight? Where now is his love of the Bible, which drew him aside often from worldly business to peruse its sacred instructions? O! what a change!
Reader, it is perhaps your own case. “You are the man!” who has thus fallen, and left your first love. “Repent, therefore, and do the first works!”—lest some heavy judgment fall upon you!
God holds a rod for His own children, and when the warnings and exhortations of the Word, and the secret whispers of the Spirit are neglected, some painful providence is sent—some calamity, which has so much natural connection with the sin, as to indicate that it is intended as a chastisement for it.
These strokes are often very cutting and severe—but they must be so to render them effectual. “For they indeed, for a few days, punished us as seemed good to them; but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. All chastening seems for the present to be not joyous but grievous; yet afterward it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been exercised thereby.” Hebrews 12:10-11
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IT QUENCHES THE THIRST OF THE SOUL
Horatius Bonar, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ”
“My blood is drink indeed!” John 6:55
The blood of the Lamb contains the true drink for the soul. It quenches the thirst of the soul—the thirst of parching produced by an evil conscience and a sense of wrath. It removes the wrath and the sense of wrath, by showing us that wrath transferred to the Substitute.
It relieves the conscience when first we come into contact with it; and it keeps it relieved from day to day, as we drink it by faith.
It is ‘the true drink.’ It calms!
It revives!
It refreshes!
It soothes!
It is like cold water to the thirsty lips under a scorching sun. Nothing but the blood can allay this thirst; nothing else can be….
drink for the soul,
drink for the intellect, drink for the conscience, drink for the heart!
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THE SECRET OF TRUE HAPPINESS
Harvey Newcomb, “The Young Lady’s Guide to the Harmonious Development of Christian Character” 1843
The secret of true happiness lies in a cordial acquiescence in the will of God. It is sweet to lie passive in His hand—and know no will but His!
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The doctrine of a ‘particular providence’ is precious to the Christian’s heart. It enables him to see the hand of God in every event. Hence the sinfulness of a repining, discontented, unsubmissive temper. It is difficult to reconcile the habitual indulgence of such a sinful disposition—with the existence of grace in the heart. The first emotion of the new-born soul is submission to the will of God.
We are prone to lose sight of the ‘hand of God’ in the little difficulties and perplexities which are of every-day occurrence, and to look only at ‘second causes.’ We often do the same, in more important matters. When we are injured or insulted by others, we are disposed to murmur and complain, and give vent to our indignation against the immediate causes of our distress; forgetting that these are only the ‘instruments which God employs’ for the trial of our faith, or the punishment of our sins.
In this doctrine of the secret agency of divine Providence, we have the strongest motive for a hearty and cheerful resignation to all the troubles and difficulties, trials and afflictions, which come upon us in this life—whatever may be their immediate cause. We know that they are directed by our heavenly Father, whose “tender mercies are over all His works,” and who “does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men.”
Whatever may be our afflictions, so long as we are out of hell, we are monuments of His mercy. “Why does a living man complain—a man for the punishment of his sins?”
We are assured “that all things work together for good, to those who love God.” The afflictions of this life, are the faithful corrections of a kind and tender Father. “For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and He
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scourges every son whom He receives.” How consoling the reflection—that all our sufferings are designed to mortify and subdue our corruptions, to wean us from the world, and lead us to a more humble and constant sense of dependence upon God! How ungrateful for a child of God to repine at the dealings of such a tender and faithful Father!
God will give us all that He sees is best for us. And surely we ought to be satisfied with this; for He who sees the end from the beginning, must know much better than we—what is for our good. It is our duty to maintain a contented and cheerful spirit in every situation of life. If God directs all our ways, and has promised to give us just what He sees we need, we surely ought to rest satisfied with what we have; for we know it is just what the Lord, in His infinite wisdom and unbounded goodness—sees fit to give us.
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TO A VILE MAGDALENE
Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan
Never had anyone….
so rich a Banker,
so kind a Husband,
so tender a Shepherd,
so forbearing a Captain—
as I have in my glorious Christ!
The more I venture—the more He encourages.
The bolder I am—the kinder He grows.
The more I expect—the more He gives.
I cannot tire or wear Him out, for He is full, yes, fullness of grace, mercy, love, and compassion!
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The one-half of His glory has never been expressed by mortal tongue; nor the thousandth part of His ravishments and condescension conceived by those who have not felt them. This, this is my—oh yes! my Beloved—and this is my Friend! Oh, what mercy to have another love-glimpse of Him.
I look at myself with wonder of amazement and overwhelming delight—because a monument of saving, sovereign mercy! Happy! unspeakably happy! Amazing miracle of superabounding love!
Hasten the day when in His full-orbed glory I shall lose my sorrows and my sins forever! I adore and magnify Him for His mercy—amazing mercy—to a vile Magdalene. Hallelujah! Amen!
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FAITH’S VIEW OF A CRUCIFIED REDEEMER
“The Marvelous Riches of Savoring Christ, The letters of Ruth Bryan” 1805–1860
My beloved friend,
We want to be something—but our Father has determined to make and keep us nothing—so that Christ may be experimentally our all.
I hope you are a little more looking unto Jesus—a little more leaning upon Him amid your many weaknesses. He can bear all your weight, for He has borne all your sins, which are the worst part of your burden. Oh, that by the Spirit you may get a faith’s view of a crucified Redeemer—the peerless Pearl, the matchless perfection of beauty and love!
“Yes, He is altogether lovely!” Song of Songs 5:16 8
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SWEET COMFORT
Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan
During the past night I have again been called to suffer much bodily affliction and very severe pain—but was favored with such sweet comfort from my precious Savior that it seemed light; nay, I thought I could willingly bear a life of such suffering—if I might constantly enjoy His presence!
Oh, how delightful was the hope of an eternity of glory, and how sweet the thought that when life’s journey was ended, the veil would be drawn aside, and no cloud ever again intervene to hide from my soul, even for one moment, the lovely countenance of my adorable Jesus!
Ten thousand thanks to you, dearest Savior, for this love-glimpse! I long for more tokens of Your love, and thirst for more constant communion with You!
Such is my frailty, that I am ever prone to sin. Come, precious Jesus! chase away these thick clouds, and let me behold Your lovely countenance, and be so captivated with Your charms, that I may never more give my heart to earthly objects!
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THE BELIEVER’S PERFECTION
Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan
I am most exceedingly distressed by my sins, and feel the need of Jesus’ precious blood every hour! I need a supply from the Fountain! “In that day a spring will be opened….for sin and uncleanness.” Zech. 13:1
Feeling fully what I am in myself, and proving afresh that “in my flesh dwells no good thing”—in this sad state I fly to Jesus as my only refuge!
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Oh that the depth of my sin and misery may be overcome by His rich grace, that with Mary I may weep at His dear feet, and love much, having much forgiven.
While in the body we shall never be free from sin. I had been looking for something from and in my flesh which the Word of God does not warrant me to expect. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh”—and ever will be!
The believer’s perfection is in Christ. Oh that He may condescend to teach me, and lead me to look straight out of self—to a glorious Christ!
“And you are complete in Him.” Colossians 2:10 8
OH, WHAT A PICTURE!
Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan— written at the age of seventeen
I seem to have some feeling about Divine things; but, alas! this afternoon am as stupid as usual. Nothing, nothing will break this hard heart! Oh, that I may be directed by the Spirit of truth to the right way of happiness!
I fear that I am not affected as I ought, and have only a faint desire to become a Christian—and that merely to escape hell. Lord, have mercy upon me! Lead aright! Break this hard, hard heart! You, Lord, know what I would have—even the forgiveness of my sins.
During service I was as cold as a stone! Oh, when will this vile heart be melted and subdued by divine grace? I have no faith, no humility, no sense of sin, no confidence in the promises, no fear of the threatened punishments; nor anything that I ought to have!
Oh, what a picture!
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O Lord, break this heart into ten thousand pieces! Oh! I would sooner suffer all horrors and terrors imaginable, and be saved at last—than be in my present dreadful and stupid state. Break—break, oh, break my heart, and make me give it entirely to You, O blessed Savior!
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NOT PUNY, SINFUL WORMS!
“The Marvelous Riches of Savoring Christ, The letters of Ruth Bryan” 1805–1860
Deliverance seldom comes in the way we look for it; for “Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being His counselor has taught Him? With whom took He counsel, and who instructed Him, and taught Him in the path of justice, and taught Him knowledge, and shown to Him the way of understanding?” Isaiah 40:13-14
Ah, has not the Lord frustrated our purposes over and over again! I cannot tell you with what majesty this passage has often come to my mind—“Who gave Him His counsel?” Not puny, sinful worms! He will counsel for them—but not with them. “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.”
Yet “fear not, worm Jacob, I will help you”—help you to stand still and see My salvation; or help you to walk on in the dark in a rough and unknown path—just as My wisdom sees fit.
Spiritual eyesight is not given to look at the outward path—but to look at our Guide; not to look before us at the way we are going to travel—but to look only at Him who will guide us safely through all, who will Himself be our way. Oh, to be kept abiding in Him, and
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constantly looking unto Him! It is most safe and blessed—but very contrary to flesh and blood!
“I will bring the blind by a way that they don’t know; in paths that they don’t know will I lead them; I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight. These things will I do, and I will not forsake them.” Isaiah 42:16
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SPIRITUAL HEALTH AND STRENGTH
“The Marvelous Riches of Savoring Christ, The letters of Ruth Bryan” 1805–1860
“For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood lives in Me, and I in him.” John 6:55-56
It is a present act—“eats” and “drinks.”
Is the very life and death, person and work of Jesus— the daily feast of your soul? Are you eating His flesh, and drinking His blood? Let us see to it, that we are seeking spiritual health and strength in no other way than by the continual, daily feeding on Christ!
There is an ever fresh, ever full, sweetness in heaven’s precious Lamb! Oh, this precious truth! It is gospel wine to my poor soul!
We have such a Christ that we little think how far His glories and His matchless love surpass what we have ever yet conceived. We do not make half enough of Him—heaven’s brightest gem, and richest treasure! Oh, that the precious Comforter may reveal Him more and more—that we may count all other things but filth and dross.
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OUR WORKS ARE ALL BROKEN AND FAULTY
“The Marvelous Riches of Savoring Christ, The letters of Ruth Bryan” 1805–1860
As long as we look to ‘our evidences’ for comfort, we shall be full of disquiet, for we discover….
such weakness in our faith,
such wavering in our hope,
such coldness in our love,
yes, such shortcoming in everything,
that we cannot find here any rest for the sole of our foot, as regards spiritual confidence.
It must be all in Christ! “He is the rock, and His work is perfect,” while our works are all broken and faulty. Oh! may the blessed Spirit set your feet upon this Rock, and establish your goings there. May He enable you to make the venture of faith, just as you are, with wants and woes, sins and fears.
The bitten Israelites were not healed by looking at their wounds—but at the brazen serpent, which was a type of Christ. And so while you are poring over your sins and yourself you will only sink lower!
May the blessed Spirit enable you to look forth with the eye of faith to the Lamb slain, and to come away from self and all besides—to Jesus!
Oh that I could so speak of the worthy Lamb as to set your heart on fire with love to Him and longing after Him! Adieu, dear friend. The Lord bless you, and in His own time strengthen, establish, and settle you.
With kind love in our adorable Emmanuel, I remain, though most unworthy, yours affectionately,
Ruth Bryan
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WE ARE BOTH IN THE FURNACE!
“The Marvelous Riches of Savoring Christ, The letters of Ruth Bryan” April 21, 1856
“He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi, and refine them as gold and silver; and they shall offer to the Lord offerings in righteousness.” Malachi 3:3
Well, dear friend, we are both in the furnace! Much, very much vile dross has in my case risen up—but my blessed and patient Refiner sits watching the process. Nor does all this dross, hateful as it is, make Him forsake the work of His hands. He will have me know a little of what is in my heart—that I may know more of what is in His heart—even love, most invincible, unalterable, unquenchable love! Love which endures to the end, amidst all my wickedness, and wandering, and ingratitude. It is indeed astonishing! Into the blessed depths of this love I desire to be daily sinking, in all the fresh discoveries of my utter worthlessness and vileness—that thus I may praise Him more who has redeemed me from it all!
The Lord does not show us how bad we are to cause despair—but to show forth the riches of His grace in saving us, and to call forth new songs of praise to Him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood!
Oh, my dear friend, Jesus is worthy to be praised in the depths as well as in the heights. He is near, and dear, and precious in the hour of affliction. In the path of tribulation, He gives some of His choicest fruits and wines—to revive those who are faint and weary in the wilderness.
Oh! may you be helped, yes enabled, “to trust in the Lord at all times”—not only when you feel His love and
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have the shine of His countenance—but also in the dark and wintry day when clouds veil your sky, and sorrow invades your soul. “When I am afraid, I will trust in You.”
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TELL YOUR SORROWS AND SECRETS
“The Marvelous Riches of Savoring Christ, The letters of Ruth Bryan” 1805–1860
“Thus says the Lord: Cursed is the man who trusts in man, and makes flesh his arm, and whose heart departs from the Lord. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, a salt land and not inhabited. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose trust the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, who spreads out its roots by the river, and shall not fear when heat comes, but its leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.” Jeremiah 17:5-8
How I do like this passage! It is so descriptive of the blessedness of trusting in the Lord alone; and the sterility and disappointment of all creature confidence!
I know not your present difficulties, nor need I know them, for I could not bring you out of them! But I do bless the Lord that He has brought you into the very best posture of soul—looking to Him alone. Tell your sorrows and secrets to this your Friend, watch His eye, obey His bidding—and go not to carnal and lower means for relief.
Adieu in our heavenly Bridegroom, and in His undying love,
Ruth
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HAVE YOU EVER BEEN CAUGHT IN THIS SNARE?
“The Marvelous Riches of Savoring Christ, The letters of Ruth Bryan” May 8, 1852
“Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11
Whatever your heavenly Father calls you to, He will support you under. But He will not give the manna for tomorrow, or strengthen you for the next trial, while you have it only in anticipation. “As your days, so shall your strength be.” And herein I read my own foolishness; often wearing out present strength with fears and forebodings of future trials; thus far disregarding present mercies, and rebelling against the Lord’s will, because unlawfully anticipating it.
Being naturally of an anxious mind, I must say that thus foolish and ignorant have I often been, and surprised when brought to discover how much I was dragging into the present hour, what did not belong to it. Have you ever been caught in this snare?
“Therefore don’t be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Each day’s own evil is sufficient.” Matthew 6:34
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CONSTANT RELIGIOUS ENGAGEMENTS
“The Marvelous Riches of Savoring Christ, The letters of Ruth Bryan” 1805–1860
“They made me the keeper of the vineyards; but my own vineyard have I not kept.” Canticles 1:6
We may be active in our Lord’s cause—but not spiritual in our own souls. We may be earnest for the salvation of others—but not be living in the joys of salvation ourselves. We may be instrumentally distributing the bread and water of life—but not be enjoying daily
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refreshment in our own experience. I do sorrowfully think that this is too much the case in the present day.
The reason why I thus judge, is from finding people so lively in conversing upon what they are doing for the Lord—yet so slow to speak of what He is doing for them. They seem delighted to tell of the great things which are going on all around—but immediately shrink back if any ‘heart subject’ is brought home to them.
In fact, if one speaks of personal enjoyment of the love of Jesus, there is no response from some—but they put it down to the score of egotism. While others refer to years past, when they did feel Him to be precious—but they confess that they know little of it now. They are so occupied in what they call ‘working for Him,’ that they hear little from Him, say little to Him, enjoy little of Him, and may truly say, “While I was busy here and there, He had left.”
It is most lamentable for any living soul to be in constant religious engagements for the good of others— while following Jesus “afar off.” Very many such I fear there are; as well as hundreds who only know Him in the judgment—and yet are continually reading, teaching, and conversing on His blessed name. This is a day of great profession—but yet real vital godliness is at a low ebb, and close walking with God in sweet communion is too little sought after.
Solemn, indeed, are these facts!
We may well say, with David, “Search me, God, and know my heart. Try me, and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” Psalm 139:23-24
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THE SECRET OF PEACE AND POWER
Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan “Looking unto Jesus.” Hebrews 12:2
Do not be so often considering how much you love Jesus—but how much He loves you. Your love is but the effect; His is the cause. And the more you have to do with the cause, the more fully will the effect flow from it.
Just so with faith. If you would have it grow, it must be by looking at Jesus—not by looking at your faith.
The more you “consider Him,” and are continually coming unto Him—the more lively and healthy will be the graces of the Spirit in your soul. And you will rejoice—not in your fruitfulness—but only in Him and in what He has done and suffered.
If the Holy Spirit opens this to you, you will find the secret of peace and power. It is all in Christ! He says, “Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, and come away!” Away from self, away from all besides—to be absorbed in Him!
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“THUS IT WAS WITH ME.”
Ruth Bryan’s personal testimony. From “The Marvelous Riches of Savoring Christ—The letters of Ruth Bryan”
“Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound!”
Romans 5:20
Ah, indeed! I felt there never was such a wretch, such a living mass of putrefying sores and corruption! Others might be worse outside—but I felt the sin was not less polluting, because it worked chiefly within. And I thought if the Lord ever saved me, I would be the greatest wonder in heaven, and that there never could be
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such another trophy of redeeming love! Nothing less than sovereign power and irresistible grace would ever be sufficient for such a hell-deserving one as myself!
Thus it was with me. It seemed too good to be true—that I, who deserved the lowest hell, and had felt so long as though I were hanging over it—should be delivered forever from it! “Deliver her from going down to the pit—I have found a Ransom!”
The blood of Jesus is the only way by which a poor sinner can enter into heaven itself. Coming with that precious blood, the vilest shall not be shut out, for it “cleanses from all sin.”
Secret sin,
open sin,
old sin,
long-continued sin,
sins against light and knowledge, sins against judgment and mercy, known sin,
unknown sin,
every kind and manner of sin which a poor trembling,
Spirit-convinced sinner feels— does this powerful blood take away!
My sins were as scarlet, my guilt of crimson dye; but blood of a richer hue which flowed out from the veins of my precious Savior has made me white as snow! None need despair, since He has saved such a worthless, hell- deserving one as myself!
“Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound!”
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WHAT A MERCY, THEN, TO BE STRIPPED OF ALL
“The Marvelous Riches of Savoring Christ, The letters of Ruth Bryan” December, 1850
I must confess that God generally deals very contrary to my expectations. Yet “He does all things well.” It is “Sweet to lie passive in His hands, and know no will but His.”
I have proved….
my own strength to be complete weakness, my own wisdom to be consummate folly, my own righteousness to be filthy rags.
What a mercy, then, to be stripped of all, and have…. Christ for wisdom,
Christ for righteousness,
Christ for strength,
Christ for purity,
Christ for power,
Christ for beauty,
Christ for holiness,
Christ for acceptance above, Christ for our daily walk, Christ for our daily work, Christ for rest,
Christ for food,
Christ for medicine!
Yes, to know nothing among men or before God—but Jesus crucified and glorified!
To His loving heart and powerful arm I again commend you for all your needs.
Yours affectionately, Ruth
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IT IS YOUR HUSBAND WHO HANGS
BLEEDING THERE!
“The Marvelous Riches of Savoring Christ, The letters of Ruth Bryan” October 31, 1849
“I will betroth you to Me forever. Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness, in justice, in lovingkindness, and in compassion. I will even betroth you to Me in faithfulness; And you shall know the Lord.” Hosea 2:19-20
Well may it be asked, Who is this wondrous Beloved, who would go to such depths for His spouse; and on whom the weak one is leaning as she comes up out of the wilderness?
Ah! He is the same who, from all eternity, was the great “I Am!” the mighty God, by whom all things were created, who is before all things, and who holds all things together!
It is He who, in the fullness of time, scorned not the lowly Virgin’s womb, but became a babe.
It is the same glorious Person who was seen coming with crimson-stained garments, traveling in the greatness of His strength, who tread the winepress of Almighty wrath alone!
It is He whose countenance is as the sun shining in his strength, yet whose “visage was marred more than any man’s, and His form more than the sons of men.”
It is the same glorious Person who is a holy One of the holy ones; and yet “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief!” It is the same glorious Person who is “holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners;” and yet “numbered with the transgressors.”
Under the weight of sin and its punishment, Jesus agonized in the sacred garden of Gethsemane, and
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sweat great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Oh, those rich, rich drops from His precious veins! They are of more value than all the gold and gems His hands have made!
This is the matchless Bridegroom of whom we speak— who, on Calvary, was stretched on the accursed tree, and there finished the love-scene of His mystic sufferings!
Come, sit with me a moment beneath the shadow of His cross! Look up, and remember it is your Husband who hangs bleeding there!
It is the Bridegroom, in love for the Bride, enduring those unknown pangs! See how His holy flesh is bruised with scourging, and His precious hands and feet pierced with rugged nails! How is His heavenly brow torn with piercing thorns, and His dear side with the cruel spear; each gaping wound proclaiming, “Man is guilty—God is love! But God is justice too!” Oh, see His precious blood trickling down. It flowed forth for sinners like me—like you!
Look and wonder!
Look and be comforted! Look and adore!
“Here look until love dissolves your heart, And bids each slavish fear depart!”
O glorious Lord, we worship You!
“Your beauties we can never trace Until we behold You face to face!”
We love to meditate on Your sufferings, but rejoice that they are over. You have suffered, and you die no more! You have gone to our Father and to Your Father; and we are expecting you to “come again” and receive us unto Yourself, to be with You, and behold Your glory; when,
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in nobler and sweeter strains we’ll sing Your never- dying love, and tell Your power to save; while with open face and ravished heart—we forever gaze upon Your matchless beauty!
“To know Christ’s love which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to all the fullness of God.” Eph. 3:19
SHE IS UGLY!
“The Marvelous Riches of Savoring Christ, The letters of Ruth Bryan” October 31, 1849
Wonder, O heavens! and be astonished, O earth! that this most glorious Immanuel, the Prince of Peace, whom angels worship, and before whom the seraphim bow— should from all eternity engage to come and seek His Bride from this poor world, and claim her for His own!
Yet so it is!
But she is filthy and polluted! Ezek. 16:6; Job 15:14-16; Isa. 64:6 Then His own precious veins shall pour forth the rich crimson flood to cleanse her, Rev. 1:5 and His Spirit shall open the fountain to wash her from her sin and uncleanness. Zech. 13:1
But she is naked and bare! Ezek. 16:22 Then He will cast His skirt over her, Ezek. 16:8 and will for her, weave in the loom of the Law Rom. 5:19 fine linen—clean and white—a robe in which she shall be fit to appear at His court! Moreover the Spirit shall bring near the righteousness of Jesus, Isa. 46:13 clothing her with “the garments of salvation,” and covering her with the “robe of righteousness,” “as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
But she is diseased! Isa. 1:5, 6 She is a leper! Ps. 51:5 Yet will He bring her health and cure, for He says, “I am
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the Lord who heals you;” and He is actually made to be sin for her, 2 Cor. 5:21 that she might be made “the righteousness of God in Him.”
But she has no personal charms—she is ugly! Then He will put His loveliness upon her, and through it her beauty shall be perfect.
But she is poor! So He bestows Himself and His fullness upon her—and thus endows her with unsearchable riches!
But she is unwilling, and has no heart to the match, for she obeys a hostile prince! Eph. 2:2, 3. Her delights, too, are in the world and the flesh. A new heart will He give her, and a right spirit will He put within her. The Holy Spirit shall make her willing in the day of His power. “I will cause you to forget your images of Baal; even their names will no longer be spoken.” Hosea 2:17 So that, prostrate at His feet, she shall say, “Lord, our God, other lords than You have ruled over us, but we remember Your name alone!”
And now that the Spirit has touched her heart, she feels she is diseased, and discovers her filthiness and nakedness, knows she is ugly and poor, and cannot think the Bridegroom’s heart is towards her, or that she can find favor in His eyes. And therefore she cries out, “I am black!” “Behold, I am vile! My loveliness has turned into corruption!” But He overwhelms her by responding, “You are all beautiful, my love, there is no spot in you!”
Then she exclaims, “Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death!” He replies, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers
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of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior!”
Now she ventures, with a captivated heart, to declare, “My Beloved is mine, and I am His! He is the chief among ten thousand! He is altogether lovely!”
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FOR HIS POOR RACHEL
“The Marvelous Riches of Savoring Christ, The letters of Ruth Bryan” 1805–1860
Did Jacob serve seven years for his Rachel—by day in the heat, and by night in the frost—and did they seem but as a day unto him—for the love he had for her?
Our spiritual Jacob has far exceeded him! He left the throne of His glory for His poor Rachel, and took her humble flesh in the form of a servant; and for her sake served thirty-three years under the Law! He bore the heat of temptation, weariness, and thirst; as well as the cold of reproach and scorn, and the malice of sinners against Himself. This He thought not too much; for when He had finished the work on her behalf, for her He cheerfully entered upon the most bitter part of His sufferings, which made even His mighty heart to shudder with agony, while His dear lips prayed—“O my Father, if it is possible, with the rescue of my Bride let this cup of suffering be taken away from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”
Behold the depth of His unflinching love! The ‘cup of curse’ must be drunk, or the captive Bride must perish! And so He takes the bitter cup, and does not turn away until every dreg is consumed! And the same sacred lips which emptied it could say in triumph, “It is finished!”
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For the joy that was set before Him of possessing His beloved bride He endured the cross, despising the shame, and has now sat down at the right hand of God, until the blissful consummation before assembled worlds, when it will be joyfully proclaimed, “The marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready!”
Then shall the spiritual Jacob and His Rachel meet and embrace, and part no more forever! She awaking up after His likeness, shall be satisfied! And He seeing her in glory, the very travail of His soul, shall be satisfied likewise!
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GOD’S JEWELS
Alexander Moody Stuart
“They shall be Mine, says the Lord of Hosts, in that day
when I make up My jewels.” Malachi 3:17
Here and there, amid the turmoil of a world that knows not God—humble believers may be found—pilgrims and strangers—dwelling in the world and using it, but not of it; born of another parentage from those around them; leading a life peculiar to themselves, secret in its essence, but manifest in its workings and its fruits. These are God’s jewels, which He is gathering, and preparing, and polishing for Himself.
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THE EXPERIENCE OF THIS UNION
“The Marvelous Riches of Savoring Christ, The letters of Ruth Bryan” April 30, 1857
“And you are complete in Him.” Colossians 2:10 Truly, my dear friend, we should be learning more and
more how completely He has saved us in Himself, and
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how constantly He delights in us with all His heart, so that we have no need to seek for anything in ourselves to make us more entirely accepted or more loved.
“He cannot love us more, nor will He love us less; for in loving her His Church, His Bride, He loves Himself.”
Viewing us in Himself, He ever says, “You are all beautiful, my love. There is no spot in you!” And the response of faith and love is, “He is altogether lovely!” Song of Songs 4:7, 5:16
The experience of this union releases the soul from a host of cares and anxious thoughts.
CANCER, GO TO THAT CHILD!
“The Marvelous Riches of Savoring Christ— The letters of Ruth Bryan.” Ruth wrote the following when dying of cancer.
“I have much inward fever, making me restless and uneasy at night, but I have been led to see this fever as my Father’s servant, obeying His will. God says, ‘Fever, go to that child, and work in her frame, and disturb her rest;’ and it comes, but all is in covenant love. He has said also, ‘Cancer, go to that child, and wound her flesh, and sap her strength;’ and it has come, and is doing His work and His will—but all is love.”
“The waters of affliction have risen higher this month, but, safe in my living Ark, I am unhurt. It is sharp to flesh and blood, but right to faith. I am not always light and bright in my feelings; but oh! what blessed security and solidity do I find in my precious Rock! There I am, come what may! Angels might envy my joy—joy in the flood and in the flame. Hallelujah!” “The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in
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whom I find protection. He is my shield, the strength of my salvation, and my stronghold.” Psalm 18:2
AN AMAZING REVERSE OF CIRCUMSTANCES!
James Meikle, “A Periodic Interview with the King of Terrors” January 6, 1795
“Now there was a certain rich man, and he was clothed in purple and fine linen, living in luxury every day. A certain beggar, named Lazarus, was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table. Yes, even the dogs came and licked his sores.” Luke 16:19-21
Worldly people may make a figure in the things of time. But when I look into eternity, I find an amazing reverse of circumstances.
The most afflicted saint in this world—is happy above conception in eternity!
The most wealthy sinner in this world—is miserable beyond description in eternity!
“The rich man also died, and was buried. In Hades, he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far off, and Lazarus at his bosom. He cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue! For I am in anguish in this flame!’” Luke 16:22-24
What then are a few moments of sorrow—compared to an eternity of communion with God and the Lamb!
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I DAILY FAIL
James Meikle, “A Secret Survey into the State of the Soul”
My daily vain thoughts and errors who can understand, for they are innumerable? Yet my daily complaint is against them, “O who shall deliver me from this body of death?” and my continual struggle is to oppose them.
These things make me humble, and a daily suppliant to free grace, and give a continued demonstration of my own abominable vileness.
I daily fail, but I daily bewail myself, and daily dip myself in the fountain opened for sin and for
uncleanness.
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MY PLEASANT INFANT
James Meikle, “A Periodic Interview with the King of Terrors” March 7, 1797
Our youngest child for some weeks past has been getting teeth, and was seized with a fever. And though sometimes a little better—yet the fever returned and cut her off.
Yesterday she was interred.
Here divine sovereignty is clearly manifested—I am spared for many years, but my pleasant infant is mingled with the dead!
In a little while—it will be eternity with us all!
Our best wisdom will be—to hold a loose grip on every comfort which can perish, and to fasten our grip on eternal things. The more we have our hearts in heaven—the less will the troubles of time distress us.
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WHAT WOULD WE THINK?
James Meikle, “A Periodic Interview with the King of Terrors” December 20, 1791
What would we think of those who had lost their nearest and dearest relative, carried off by ruffians—and yet felt no alarm?
What would we think of those who could feast cheerfully at their sumptuous table—while their friends were destitute of all the comforts of life?
What would we think of those who could sleep pleasantly on their downy beds—while their friends were denied the least slumber, by the torturing hand of their cruel foes?
What would we think of those who could quaff and carouse with sparkling wine—while their friends could not procure a drop of water for their scorched tongue?
Now, to apply.
Where are any ruffians—like the infernal fiends?
Where is a state so utterly destitute of all comforts—as the state of damnation?
Where are any tortures—like the torments of hell, and of damned devils?
And where, but in the burning lake, are sufferers so completely miserable—who cannot even get a drop of water to cool their tormented tongue?
And yet the death of those sinners, who lived without God, and died without hope—makes no impression on their surviving friends!
“The rich man also died and was buried. In hades, being in torment….” Luke 16:22-23
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WHY AM I SO AVERSE TO DIE?
James Meikle, “A Periodic Interview with the King of Terrors”
Why am I so averse to die? Why not leap for joy at an invitation to go to my Father’s kingdom, and my Father’s throne?
The troubles which attend me, and the sins which attack me—make me weary of this life.
And the joys that await me—make me long for my heavenly home.
O! it is a sad proof that I know not….
the emptiness of the creature,
nor the sinfulness of sin,
nor the nature of the heavenly bliss,
nor the excellency of communion with God—
that I do not loathe this life more, nor long for my heavenly home more.
The heir of an eternal world should not care much about a world which passes away.
Such oceans of bliss, such rivers of joy and spiritual delight, such wonders of glory and overflowings of love—shall be revealed to, and pour in on the soul—as shall quite blot out the remembrance of all the trifling distresses of our transitory life!
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HAPPY HERE, AND HAPPY TO ALL ETERNITY!
Octavius Winslow, “The Christian’s Joint Heirship”
It is in the heart of our God to give us the chief and the best.
Had there been a greater, and a better, and a sweeter, and a more satisfying portion than Himself—then that
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portion would have been ours. But since there is not, nor can be, a greater than Himself—the love, the everlasting, changeless love that He bears to us, constrains Him to give Himself as our God, our Portion, our All.
And have we not experienced Him to be God all- sufficient?
Have we ever found a lack in Him?
Oh no! God is all-sufficient, and no arid wilderness, and no dreary land have we experienced Him to be.
There is in Him….
an all-sufficiency of love to comfort us;
an all-sufficiency of strength to uphold us;
an all-sufficiency of power to protect us;
an all-sufficiency of good to satisfy us;
an all-sufficiency of wisdom to guide us;
an all-sufficiency of glory to reward us;
and an all-sufficiency of bliss to make us happy here, and
happy to all eternity!
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DIG INTO THESE GOLDEN MINES!
Robert Leighton
Let this commend the Scriptures much to our diligence and affection—that their great theme is our Redeemer, and redemption wrought by Him. They contain the doctrine of His excellencies, and are the lively picture of His matchless beauty. Were we more in them, we would daily see more of Him in them—and so of necessity love Him more. But we must look within them—the letter is but the case—the spiritual sense is what we should desire to see. We usually huddle them over, and see no further than their outside, and therefore find so little sweetness in them. We read
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them, but we don’t search them as He requires. Would we dig into these golden mines, we would find treasures of comfort which cannot be spent, but which would furnish us in the hardest times!
“My son, if you will receive my words, And store up my commandments within you; So as to turn your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you call out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding; If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures: Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, And find the knowledge of God.” Proverbs 2:1-5
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A MAN’S VIEWS OF SIN
William S. Plumer, “The Christian,” 1878
Sin digs every grave, and wrings out every sigh and wail from earth and hell. Sin is the worst of all evils. Nothing can compare with it. It is worse than the plague. Sin is unspeakably hateful. God calls it horrible and abominable. Godly men in every age lament it— lament it much in others, most in themselves.
A man’s views of sin give a complexion to all his character. If he regards it as a trifle, he will laugh at it, when he should weep over it. He will make a mock of it. He will dally with it. He will take his fill of it. He will have low thoughts of God, and low estimates of salvation. He will despise Jesus Christ.
If, on the other hand, he considers sin as very dreadful and very hateful—he will hate every false way. He will long for holiness. He will hunger and thirst after righteousness. He will loathe and abhor himself on account of sin. He will have exalted thoughts of the being, perfections, word, and government of God. To
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him Christ will be most precious, the chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely.
Job’s sense of sin was vastly increased by the great discoveries he had of God’s majesty and glory: “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes!” Increased views of God’s glory had the same effect on Isaiah, and made him cry out, “Woe is me! for I am undone!” Job 42:5-6; Isaiah 6:5.
God’s presence is infinite; His power is infinite; His nature is infinite; His existence is infinite; and so to sin against Him must be an infinite insult and wrong. Sin is an infinite evil. Sin is that abominable thing which He hates. He hates sin with infinite loathing.
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A REMEDY FOR EVERYTHING
Harvey Newcomb, “The Young Man’s Guide to the Harmonious Development of Christian Character, 1847
It is a mistake often made—to associate piety with a downcast look, a sad countenance, and an aching heart. But there is nothing in true piety inconsistent with habitual cheerfulness.
There is a difference between cheerfulness and levity.
Cheerfulness is serene and peaceful. Levity is light and trifling. Cheerfulness promotes evenness of temper and equanimity of enjoyment. Levity drowns sorrow and pain for a short time, only to have it return again with redoubled power.
I do not deny that there are certain kinds of sinful pleasures which piety spoils; but then it first removes the taste and desire for them—so their loss is nothing to be lamented.
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The Christian hope, and the promises and consolations of God’s Word, furnish the only true ground of cheerfulness. Who should be cheerful and happy, if not one who is delivered from the terrors of hell and the fear of death—who is raised to the dignity of a child of God— who has the hope of eternal life—the prospect of dwelling forever in the presence of God, and in the enjoyment of perfect felicity? But no one would associate these things with that frivolity, levity and mirth, which are the delight of the pleasure-loving world.
The gospel of Jesus Christ has a remedy for everything in life that is calculated to make us gloomy and sad. It offers the pardon of sin to the penitent and believing; the aid of grace to those who struggle against an evil disposition; and help against temptation. It promises to relieve the believer from fear, and affords consolation in affliction.
There is no reason why a true Christian should not be cheerful. There are, indeed, many things, which he sees, within and without, that must give him pain. But there is that in his Christian hope, and in the considerations brought to his mind from the Word of God, which is able to bear him high above them all.
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A STRIKING PECULIARITY!
Alexander, “Thoughts on Religious Experience” 1844
It is incongruous for Christians to be enjoying ease and prosperity in this world, when their Lord was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Isa 53:3
For the Christian to seek great things for himself here in this world, does not befit the character of a disciple of the meek and lowly Jesus.
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It is a striking peculiarity in the religion of Christ, that in the conditions of discipleship—“taking up the cross” is the first thing Matt 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23. He never enticed any to follow Him with the promise of earthly prosperity, or exemption from suffering. On the contrary, He assures them that in the world they shall have tribulation. John 16:33
Whoever will not take Christ with His cross shall never sit with Him on His throne. “No cross—no crown”, holds out an important truth in few words.
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SOME OF YOU WILL BE CAST INTO THE FURNACE!
Archibald Alexander, “Growth in Grace” 1844
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 fervent prayer. Let go your too eager grasp of the world.
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Become familiar with death and the grave.
Wait patiently until your eternal change comes; but desire not to live a day longer than may be for the glory
of God.
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YOU WOULD NOT SUSPECT HIM TO BE A CHRISTIAN
Archibald Alexander, “The Backslider” 1844 “You left your first love.” Revelation 2:4
Backsliding occurs when the Christian is gradually led off from close walking with God, loses the lively sense of divine things, becomes too much attached to the world and too much occupied with secular concerns; until at length the keeping of the heart is neglected, prayer and the seeking of the Lord in private are omitted or slightly performed, zeal for the advancement of religion is quenched, and many things once rejected by a sensitive conscience are now indulged and defended.
All this may take place and continue long before the person is aware of his danger, or acknowledges that there has been any serious departure from God. The ‘forms of religion’ may still be kept up, and ‘open sin’ avoided. But more commonly backsliders fall into some evil habits—they are evidently too much conformed to the world, and often go too far in participating in the pleasures and amusements of the world.
Too often there is an indulgence in known sin into which they are gradually led, and on account of which they experience frequent compunction, and make solemn resolutions to avoid it in future. But when the hour of temptation comes, they are overcome again and again, and thus they live a miserable life, enslaved by
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some sin, over which, though they sometimes struggle hard, they cannot get the victory.
There is no more inconsistent thing than a backsliding Christian. Look at one side of his character and he seems to have sincere, penitential feelings, and his heart to be right in its purposes and aims; but look at the other side, and he seems to be “carnal, sold under sin”. O wretched man! how he writhes often in anguish, and groans for deliverance—but he is like Samson shorn of his locks—his strength is departed, and he is not able to rise and go forth at liberty as in former times.
The sleeping backslider is one who, being surrounded with earthly comforts and engaged in secular pursuits, and mingling much with the decent and respectable people of the world, by degrees loses the deep impression of divine and eternal things. His spiritual senses become obtuse, and he has no longer the views and feelings of one awake to the reality of spiritual things. His case nearly resembles that of a man gradually sinking into sleep. Still he sees dimly and hears indistinctly—but he is fast losing the impression of the objects of the spiritual world, and is sinking under the impression of the things of time and sense.
There may be no remarkable change in the external conduct of such a person, except that he has no longer any relish for pious conversation, and rather is disposed to waive it. The difference between such a one and the rest of the world becomes less and less distinguishable. From anything you see or hear—you would not suspect him to be a Christian, until you see him taking his seat at church!
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I HAVE OFTEN BEEN SHOCKED WITH THE THOUGHT
Alexander, “Thoughts on Religious Experience”
I have often been shocked with the thought, that while a man’s eulogy is being pronounced upon earth—his poor soul may be writhing and blaspheming in the torments of hell!
“The rich man also died, and was buried. In Hades, he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far off, and Lazarus at his bosom. He cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue! For I am in anguish in this flame.’” Luke 16:22-24
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A LITTLE, POOR, HELPLESS CHILD
Jonathan Edwards
In all your path, walk with Christ as a little, poor, helpless child—taking hold of His hand, keeping your eye on the marks of the wounds in His hands and side, whence came the blood that cleanses you from sin, and hiding your nakedness under the skirt of the white shining robes of His righteousness.
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THE LIVING GUIDE TO JESUS
Ruth Bryan
“When the Counselor has come, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about me.” John 15:26
The Holy Spirit is the living guide to Jesus.
It is He who says, with power, “Behold the Lamb of
God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
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It is He who convinces of sin, who wounds, and probes the wound, and lays open the evil of our nature— causing us to know that we are corrupt within and without.
But He not only thus discovers the malady—He also applies the remedy. He abases the sinner; and exalts the Savior. He gives the deep sense of sin—that the great salvation may be more appreciated and enjoyed.
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THE SECRET OF PEACE AND POWER
Letters of Ruth Bryan
The work of the Holy Spirit is to bring us to be experimentally nothing, and to make Jesus our “all in all,” thereby teaching us to live by faith upon Him.
Oh, may you, by the Spirit’s power, so lift up your eyes from all but Jesus, that you will be conformed to His image 2 Cor. 3:18. But do not expect to receive any better account of yourself—rather a worse one; for, as you get nearer the light, you will see more of your own sinfulness. I do hope, however, to hear you speak well of Him, and that, as you feelingly cry out, “Behold, I am vile!” He will melt your heart by responding, “You are absolutely beautiful, my darling, with no imperfection in you!”
Oh, this wondrous Savior! He opens the secret of our wanderings and transgressions—only to declare how entirely He has put them all away by the sacrifice of Himself! Oh, what mercy that He did not say, “Let them alone, they have loved idols, after idols let them go!” What mercy that by His light, He has manifested our darkness. You shall see greater things than these.
More of your own vile heart—and more of His loving heart.
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More of your sin—and more of His great salvation. More of your deformity—and more of His beauty.
Do not be considering so much how you love Jesus, as how He loves you. Your love is but the effect; His is the cause; and the more you have to do with the cause, the more fully will the effect flow from it, 1 John 4:19 and John 15:9.
So with faith; if you would have it grow, it must be by looking at Him, not at your faith.
In short, the more you “consider Him,” and are continually coming unto Him, the more lively and healthy will be the graces of the Spirit in your soul; while yet you rejoice, not in your fruitfulness—but only in Jesus and in what He has done and suffered. If the Holy Spirit opens this to you, you will find the secret of peace and power. It is all in Christ! He says, “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.” Away from self, away from all besides—to be absorbed in Him. We must learn….
our weakness—as well as His strength; our emptiness—as well as His fullness; our ignorance—as well as His wisdom.
May your eye and heart to be fixed on Him. Then will your course be steady, and you will not be greatly moved by the many changes you will ever find within. Oh, press on after a life of faith in Jesus, for it is next in blessedness to a life of glory with Jesus. Beg of the blessed Spirit to draw your faith out continually upon His precious Person and work. Oh! may He cause you to come out of self continually, and find your all in Jesus! The more you are brought so to live upon Jesus, the more stability of soul you will experience. To Him I commend you—may He be revealed more fully in your soul.
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IF YOU GAVE ME A MOUNTAIN OF GOLD
Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan “Behold, I am vile!” Job 40:4
“I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:6
I fall blushingly at Your dear feet, and loathe myself for my many abominations and shortcomings. Glorious Lord, pardon and restore vile, vile me! I fall into Your arms of ‘injured love’, to accept whatever punishment You shall appoint. I deserve the worst You can inflict. But, oh! for love’s sake, let me see Your loving frown, and feel Your loving stripe—but not find You gone.
Your absence is hell to the heart which has seen Your glorious charms, and felt Your matchless love. Oh, do not, do not leave me! And do not let me leave You! I fly to Your blood, and cleave to the crucified One.
O Lord, if You gave me a mountain of gold—I would turn from it, or climb over it—to get at Your precious self!
THE KEY WHICH FITS EVERY LOCK
Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan “When the Spirit of truth has come, He will
guide you into all the truth.” John 16:13
What a wonderful book is God’s Bible—as opened to the heart by the Spirit! Christ is the key which fits every lock, both in the book and in the heart.
“When the Counselor has come, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about me.” John 15:26
Blessed Jesus! You are the living key by which every secret in the Word is opened, as the blessed Spirit uses and reveals You in them.
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Adorable Immanuel, Moses wrote of You, the Psalms and prophets speak of You. Open my dull understanding to discern You through the types and through the shadows. Show Yourself through these lattices, and open my heart to receive You experimentally in all. Eternity will be too short to utter half Your praise. Oh, cause me to lisp it more constantly and feelingly in the low notes of the wilderness!
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THE PRECIOUS SUFFERER ON THAT MIDDLE CROSS
Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan
I have been looking much at the last hours of my precious Lord, this morning. I have been somewhat beholding the precious Sufferer on that middle cross.
Both the thieves railed on Him. But one of these thieves, by the power Spirit, was brought to confess his own sinfulness, and by the same Spirit to call Jesus “Lord.” Then how sweet was the answer of peace, “Today you shall be with Me in paradise.” Thus did redeeming love break forth in a refreshing stream from that suffering heart and those parched lips—to give drink to that other sufferer, who was, indeed, “ready to perish.”
After this, came the cry of agony, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” Oh! that was the climax of woe!
And then those mysterious words, “I thirst!” Mere bodily suffering was not all which was couched in these words. But that righteous One was dwelling with the devouring fire, and enduring what would have been “everlasting burnings” to us. The wrath of the Lawgiver was going forth upon the sin which was found upon Him. He thirsted, as in hell—that He might “lead us to fountains of living waters” in heaven!
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And those tender looks and words to His mother and His beloved John, do indeed manifest a heart without an atom of that selfishness which we inherit by the fall.
Then came the end, when, after receiving the vinegar, Jesus said, “It is finished!” Then bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. What amazing weight and fullness is in those three words, “It is finished!” Finished for me, the vilest of the vile, whom You have privileged to stand, with dear Mary Magdalene, at the foot of Your cross, and listen to Your dear lips, which, even there, drop as the honeycomb. If these ‘sips in grace’ are so sweet—what will those ‘draughts in glory’ be?
Truly, I have almost seemed to stand with Mary Magdalene beside Your cross, and gathered up these precious fragments with wondering love, and mingled joy and grief.
Oh, precious Christ, eclipse all earthly vanities, by revealing Yourself more fully!
WHY CLING TO THE ASH-HEAP?
Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan
Oh, why should kings’ sons and daughters go lean from day to day? True, these heavenly viands do spoil one for earth-born cares—but then much less of earth’s good things suffice, when we thus live in and upon a glorious Christ.
Oh, come, Spirit-born and heaven-bound ones—why do you so linger around earthly trifles? Why cling to the ash- heap? You are princes—this befits you not! There are such loves, and glories, and wonders in Jehovah-Jesus to be enjoyed even below, as yet we little think of! Oh, come, let us arise, and go to Jesus!
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“Earth has no dainties half so sweet As my Redeemer brings.”
Jesus, our divine Magnet, attract us to Your dear Self!
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MY ISHI!
Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan “You will call Me Ishi—my husband. Hosea 2:16
“You will be called Hephzibah—My delight is in her…. for the Lord will take delight in you.” Isaiah 62:4
Christ is most precious. He is my Ishi! I, His Hephzibah! What love! What wonders, for a worm so vile! But He has borne my vileness away—and is Himself my loveliness!
Christ, the Beloved of my soul, is my perfection, and His blood is my purity. However great my guilt, His precious blood is more than a match for it all. This has been like solid rock to my soul. “Praise the Lord, O my soul!”
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HAVING NOTHING—POSSESSING EVERYTHING
William S. Plumer
“As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” 2 Corinthians 6:9-10
The Christian is a paradox. Because he has Christ, he has the unsearchable riches of Christ. Believers….
have full and free forgiveness of all their sins; are fully accepted in the Beloved;
are clothed in Christ’s spotless righteousness; are adopted into the family of God;
have a perfect title to heaven through Christ;
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have God for their Father,
have Christ for their Savior,
have the Holy Spirit for their Comforter,
have heaven for their home;
shall be like Christ and with Christ forever;
shall inherit all things;
are sure of ultimate victory over sins, the world, the
flesh, the devil, all sorrow, death, and hell.
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ALL MUST FALL
Letters of J. C. Philpot
I feel so many evils daily, and sometimes hourly, working in my heart, and see so many traps and snares laid for my feet in every direction, that my wonder is, not that any fall—but that any stand!
No, I am confident that all must fall were it not for everlasting love and almighty power, “kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation!”
ALL I NEED
Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan
Oh, my precious Savior! You are all I need for time and for eternity. You are….
my rest in weariness,
my ease in pain,
my strength in weakness.
Is anything too hard for the Lord?
Is anything too small for the Lord?
Is anything too great or heavy for the Lord? No!
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My beloved and my adorable Lord, I fall into Your arms for support, guidance, and blessing.
Indeed, I am unworthy of the least of Your mercies, and I feel it. But Your mercies are free! Oh, the wonders of Your love, that can bear with such weakness and wanderings as mine! I worship and adore You, and would joyfully sink into Love’s unfathomable abyss, where sins and self are lost!
Oh! my precious Savior, how blessed is Your presence amidst the storms of this weary land! How does all that is of earth recede before the overshadowings of Your presence! Precious Lord, draw me more and more into Your secret chamber, where worldling never came, where the flesh was never fed.
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THERE GOES JOHN BRADFORD!
William Plumer, “Sinners Saved by Unmerited Kindness”
When others sin, godly men see what they themselves were before conversion; or what they would have been—but for the restraints of God’s grace.
Bradford, an eminent servant of Christ, seeing a criminal led to execution said, “There goes John Bradford—but for the grace of God!”
WHAT MORTALS SO PURSUE
Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan
My Jesus is my rest and refreshing, in all my weariness. As I lean on Him—I triumph. When I confer with flesh, and look to creatures—I get shame and loss.
I have now earnest desires for new commitment to a precious Christ, as my all in all; that the shadowy things
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of time may less cumber me, however contrary to flesh; and to live Christ be my one concern.
Now I yield up all to You, and myself to follow afresh hard after You, and afresh to “count all things but loss” for Your sake. Oh, my beloved, my all-lovely Savior, You are gain, and gain enough. My precious Jesus, Your fellowship is what I seek; and for it give up as rubbish, what mortals so pursue:
riches,
honor, appearance, fleshly indulgence.
I desire a quiet, secluded life—little with the world, much with Jesus. Come, with Your conquering charms, and all-absorb this longing soul of mine!
“Yes most assuredly, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and count them nothing but refuse, that I may gain Christ.” Phil. 3:8
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IMMORTAL SCARS?
Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan
“I saw in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain.” Revelation 5:6
Alas! those wondrous wounds! Have they left immortal scars? Will You, through all eternity, wear those marks of Your matchless love?
And will You, in those blissful realms, dissolve our souls in holy rapture and adoring love, by saying, “Look at My hands and My feet—it is I Myself!” Surely, if
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anything could add beauty to that glorious form, it would be, in the eyes of love, those deep engravings—“I have engraved you upon the palms of My hands.”
I am again almost overcome with love—my Beloved is so precious! And surely You, O Beloved, are engraved on the table of my longing heart. Oh, grant another glimpse of Your surpassing charms! I would sink into Your arms, and recline on the bosom of Your love!
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BLISSFUL EXCHANGE!
Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan
My exercise this evening is renouncing self entirely: good self,
bad self,
self pleased,
self displeased,
self in its complainings, beseechings, enticings,
desirings, self entirely.
Oh that it may be once and forever!
I embrace my all-lovely, soul-satisfying Christ—instead of my self! Blissful exchange! Perfect purity and beauty— for ugliness and vileness!
O Holy Spirit, enable me ever to renounce self, forsake creatures—and embrace Jesus!
I LOATHE MYSELF BEYOND EXPRESSION
Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan
I feel a vile, unworthy, unholy being. I loathe myself
beyond expression. But the blood and righteousness of –140–
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Jehovah-Jesus is my confidence, and here I have a place of refuge.
“What a wretched man I am!” Romans 7:24 “Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:6
“My salvation and glory depend on God; my strong rock, my refuge, is in God.” Psalm 62:7
IN MY CAGE
Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan
“Who will change the body of our humiliation to be conformed to the body of His glory.” Philippians 3:21
There has been, indeed—but a step between me and death. But here am I, still fettered in clay, and my soul still encaged in the wires of mortality. But through them beams the glory of the better country, and the loveliness of my Beloved. And though yet in my cage, I can sing His matchless love and worthy praise, for the dear Comforter has tuned my heart. How to recount the Lord’s mercies I know not, they have been so beautifully unfolded in this affliction.
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DAILY BREAD
Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan “As your days, so shall your strength be.”
Deuteronomy 33:25
I seem to see with fresh light, that it is vain to expect to come to a certain state, when we shall live by grace, constantly and spontaneously. The desirable position is, to live in felt dependence and emptiness—seeking constant renewings of the Holy Spirit—to live by simple faith on Jesus.
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Therefore, if I receive ever such large and fresh inflowings of grace today, I must not think that it is a stock for tomorrow; or think then to act by this day’s power, or walk by this day’s light.
“Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto You daily.” Psalm 86:3
“Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11
“Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” Psalm 68:19
STREAMS & FOUNTAIN
Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan
November 21st, 1830. While thinking this afternoon of some friends who have been running eagerly from one place to another after a celebrated, and, I suppose, most interesting preacher; this idea forcibly struck me—why manifest such undue concern after streams, when we have the Fountain always accessible? I can, in my humble cottage, approach the footstool of the Father of mercies, and enjoy the manifestation of His love!
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THIS HATEFUL, HATED IDOL!
Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan
Oh! kill and crucify this SELF in me—this hateful, hated idol! Come in, O precious Christ, and make it fall before You!
Yes; vile, guilty, abominable as I am—my own Jesus bathes me in His blood, robes me in His righteousness, puts upon me His beauty, and then says, “You are all beautiful, my love. There is no spot in you.” Song of
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Songs 4:7 Oh, the wonders of His love! My heart is ravished and overcome!8
THE UNANSWERABLE QUESTION
Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan
“Why me?” This is the unanswerable question—the wonder of wonders! I, a weak, low, vile, wandering worm— filled with Your love, ravished with Your beauty! It is all of grace! To God be all the glory!
Oh, my precious Lord, I am overwhelmed in, and by, Your love! You have freed me from my sin and its punishment—by taking them upon Yourself! And You have prepared me for Yourself—by putting Your perfect loveliness upon me!
You have overcome me, You ravish my heart!
I thirst with intense and increased ardency, for unfoldings of the personal glories of my precious Christ, who is, indeed, “more precious than rubies.”
Precious Lord, You are my rest, my happiness, and You are all-sufficient. Hold me to You, nor let me wander
more.
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CONTENT HIS SOUL WITH EARTH’S POOR DUST
Charles Spurgeon, December 31, 1871
There is a joy of divine origin—“The joy of the Lord.” Springing from the Lord as its source, it will necessarily be of a very elevated character. Since man fell in the garden, he has too often sought for his enjoyments where the serpent finds his. It is written, “You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.” This was the serpent’s doom; and man, with infatuated
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ambition, has tried to find his delight in his sensual appetites, and to content his soul with earth’s poor dust.
But the joys of time cannot satisfy an undying nature, and when a soul is once quickened by the eternal Spirit, it can no more fill itself with worldly mirth, or even with the common enjoyments of life—than can a man snuff up wind and feed thereon. But, beloved, we are not left to search for joy; it is brought to our doors by the love of God our Father—joy refined and satisfying, befitting immortal spirits!
God has not left us to wander among those unsatisfactory things which mock the chase which they invite. He has given us appetites which carnal things cannot content, and He has provided suitable satisfaction for those appetites. He has stored up at His right hand pleasures for evermore, which even now He reveals by His Spirit to those chosen ones whom He has taught to long for them.
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A SILLY FLY!
Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan
I have just seen a silly fly, sporting heedlessly close to a spider’s web, and most likely it would soon have sported into it—and have become fast entangled in the snare. But a friendly hand swept away the spider’s network, and thus removed the danger; while the heedless, helpless fly, was equally unconscious of both the danger and the preservation.
Ah! then, I thought, perhaps it is thus often with me! In an unseen snare I had been almost heedlessly caught. But the seeing eye, loving heart, and powerful arm of Jesus are mine! He beholds the intended mischief,
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defeats the wily worker, sweeps away the entangling thread—and thus preserves me from disaster!
All praise be Yours, dear Lord, for known and unknown mercies and deliverances! Oh, may I never knowingly sport on the edge of sin—or trifle with temptation.
“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me…. Your right hand will save me.” Psalm 138:7
MALADY AND REMEDY
“The Marvelous Riches of Savoring Christ, The letters of Ruth Bryan” May 1845
Dear friend,
I know not your present malady; but I know that Christ is the remedy for it!
There is more in Christ for empty souls, than pen or tongue of men or angels can count! May you have free access, and eat and drink, and forget your poverty— being taken up with His riches, fullness, and glory! The Lord comfort you, and establish your heart with grace. Adieu.
Yours affectionately, in our Beloved One,
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Ruth
“I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me. That life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself up for me.” Galatians 2:20
Oh, the sweet wonders of a life of simple faith in Christ! From what little I know, I am sure it is the most….
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A LIFE OF SIMPLE FAITH
Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan
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flesh-humbling, sin-subduing, world-crucifying, Satan-defeating, soul-invigorating,
life in the world!
Unbelief is the source of my misery.
“Lord, increase my faith.” Holy Comforter, teach me how to live Christ at all times, in all conditions.
Lord Jesus, I am Yours. I submit to Your will, and unreservedly lay before You myself, with all I have and am—to be at Your disposal, and used for Your glory. I am no longer my own—but Yours; and You, O precious Jesus, are mine forever!8
I AM NOT WHAT I ONCE WAS
John Newton
I am not what I ought to be.
Ah, how imperfect and deficient.
I am not what I wish to be.
I abhor what is evil, and I would cleave to what is good.
I am not what I hope to be.
Soon I shall put off, with mortality—all sin and imperfection.
Though I am not what I ought to be, nor what I wish to be, nor what I hope to be—I can truly say that I am not what I once was—a slave to sin and Satan. And I can heartily join with the apostle and say that “by the grace of God I am what I am!” 1 Corinthians 15:10
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EVIDENTLY GIVEN UP
Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan
I have again this week written to my friend, and pressed eternal things upon her notice. May the Lord bless the message. My soul yearns over her, and often do I mourn over her condition—for she is evidently given up to fashion, and worldly pursuits, and pleasure.
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A SEA OF SWEETNESS
John Flavel, “Christ Altogether Lovely”
“Yes, He is altogether lovely! This is my Beloved, and
this is my Friend.” Song of Songs 5:16
As if she had said, “Look on Him in what respect or particular you wish; cast your eye upon this lovely One, and view Him any way; consider His person, His offices, His works, or any other thing belonging to Him. You will find Him altogether lovely, there is nothing disagreeable in Him, there is nothing lovely without Him.” Jesus Christ is the loveliest person souls can set their eyes upon. He is the very essence of all delights and pleasures, the very soul and substance of them! As all the rivers are gathered into the ocean, which is the meeting-place of all the waters in the world—so Christ is that ocean in which all true delights and pleasures meet! Christ infinitely transcends the most excellent and loveliest of created things. The excellencies our altogether lovely Christ are pure and unmixed. He is a sea of sweetness without one drop of gall. “Yes, He is altogether lovely! This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend.” Song of Songs 5:16
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SOUL-KILLING PLOTS, DEVICES,
STRATAGEMS & MACHINATIONS!
Thomas Brooks “Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices”
“That no advantage may be gained over us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” 2 Corinthians 2:11
Christ,
the Scripture,
your own hearts,
and Satan’s devices,
are the four prime things that should be first and most studied and searched. If any cast off the study of these, they cannot be safe here, nor happy hereafter. It is my work as a Christian, but much more as I am a Watchman, to do my best to discover….
the fullness of Christ,
the emptiness of the creature,
and the snares of the great deceiver.
Satan being fallen…. from light to darkness, from felicity to misery, from heaven to hell, from an angel to a devil,
is so full of malice and envy that he will leave no means unattempted, whereby he may make all others eternally miserable with himself. He being shut out of heaven, and shut up “under the chains of darkness until the judgment of the great day,” makes use of all his power and skill to bring all people into the same condition and condemnation with himself. Satan has cast such sinful seed into our souls, that now he can no sooner tempt, but we are ready to assent; he can no sooner have a plot upon us, but he makes a conquest of us. If he does but show men a little of the beauty of the world, how ready are
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they to fall down and worship him! Whatever sin the heart of man is most prone to, that the devil will help forward! Satan loves to sail with the wind, and to suit men’s temptations to their conditions and inclinations.
From the power, malice and skill of Satan—proceeds all the soul-killing plots, devices, stratagems and machinations, which are in the world. A man may as well count the stars, and number the sands of the sea, as reckon up all the devices of Satan!
“That no advantage may be gained over us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” 2 Corinthians 2:11
PLAYING WITH ITS TINSEL TOYS
Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan
How the world has lessened and deadened to me lately. It seems a very nothing, and vanity indeed. To see Christians gathering its golden dust, and playing with its tinsel toys, is monstrous. Oh, come away, you foolish ones, and leave the ash-heap, and rise into Christ— your priceless inheritance and your eternal riches!
“Don’t lay up treasures for yourselves on the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume, and where thieves don’t break through and steal; for where your treasure is, your heart will be there also. No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. You can’t serve both God and Mammon.” Matthew 6:19-21, 24
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BUT GOD
William Plumer, “Theology for the People”
No two things are more contrary to each other, than the vileness of man and the purity of God.
Sin is hateful to God. It has dug every grave. It fills hell with groans.
“From the sole of the foot even to the head there is no soundness in it: Wounds, welts, and open sores.” Isa. 1:6
The whole nature of man is affected by sin: the understanding is darkened;
the will is corrupt; the conscience is defiled; the memory is polluted;
the imagination is depraved;
the throat is an open sepulcher;
the tongue is deceitful;
the mouth is full of cursing and bitterness;
the feet are swift to shed blood;
the eyes are full of adultery;
the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately
wicked.
The whole head is sick, the whole heart is faint! Man is by nature ruined. He is lost. Men are….
sinners,
wicked,
ungodly, unrighteous, corrupt,
deceitful,
vile,
ungrateful,
children of the devil, slaves of iniquity.
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“But God, being rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have you been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Eph. 2:4-7
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HIS ALL-SEEING EYE
William Plumer, “Theology for the People” 1875
“There is no creature that is hidden from his sight, but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” Hebrews 4:13
God is omniscient. His knowledge is infinite in kind and extent. It is eternal. He knows all things past, present, and future; all things that ever have been, are, or ever shall be.
In heaven, earth, and hell, nothing is hid from His all- seeing eye. God knows the hearts of all His creatures.
God also knows all things which ever could have been, could now be, or could hereafter be on any conceivable supposition. His knowledge embraces all plans, all truths, all systems. God can neither learn nor forget anything.
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WEAK AND HELPLESS AND BURDENED
John MacDuff, “Family Prayers” 1885
We come, weak and helpless and burdened, to that cross where alone there is shelter and peace for the guilty. We take refuge anew at the foot of Your cross, bringing our infinite unworthiness to Your infinite merit and all-
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sufficiency. Wash us, blessed Savior, in the fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness. Receive us graciously. Love us freely. Preserve against the world’s snares, and dangers, and temptations. May Your love exercise a paramount influence over us.
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A NEW CREATURE
Horatius Bonar, “Christ and the New Creation”
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, they have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
What condemnation do these words pronounce upon the shallow, meager religion so common among us— making us feel that hardly any description of its professors could be more exaggerated or unreal, than that of being “new creatures.”
Take yon member of the church. He wears the garb and bears the name of Christ. He is a fair average specimen of a large class. He has the profession of being a Christian; yet….
he is fond of the world;
he grasps at its gold;
he loves its fashionable gaiety;
he reads its novels;
he frequents its haunts of amusement; he enjoys its company;
he relishes its foolish talking and jesting.
Is he “a new creature” in Christ Jesus?
Is it possible that, with….
so much worldliness,
so much selfishness,
so much self-indulgence,
so much pleasing of the flesh,
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he can have been “born again,” whatever his profession may be?
“A new creature!” Then…. old feelings,
old habits,
old tastes,
old hopes,
old joys,
old sorrows,
old haunts,
old companionships—
all are gone! Old things have passed away, all things have become new!
Formerly, I sought the things of this world. So now, by the necessity of my new nature, I seek the things above. Sin has become hateful, holiness supremely attractive.
My vision has been purged, so that now I see everything as with a new eye; the evil, with an eye which loathes it; the holy, with an eye which loves it. I approach everything with….
new feelings, new tastes,
new sympathies, new antipathies.
I behold everything in a new light, and from a new point of view. Myself, this world, the world to come, God, Christ, and the everlasting joys—all these are to me now, what they have never been before! My whole inner man has changed respecting them. There has been a new creation! What, then, have I to do with sin, with the flesh, with the vanities of so vain a life, as the men of this world are leading?
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Oh, the unimaginable blessedness of those on whom this new creation has taken place! Oh, the unutterable, the endless misery of those on whom no change has passed—in whom old things still remain!
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TO THE DUST YOU WILL RETURN!
Horatius Bonar, “The Mortal and the Immortal” “For the wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23
“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
Ours is a dying world.
We dwell in a world of death—in a land of graves. Immortality has no place upon this earth.
That which is deathless is beyond these hills. Mortality is here; immortality is yonder! Mortality is below; immortality is above!
Earth is a vast graveyard.
At every moment, one of the sons of Adam passes from this life. At each swing of the pendulum is the death- warrant of some child of time. “Death! Death!” it says, unceasingly, as it oscillates to and fro.
The gate of death stands ever open—it has neither locks nor bars.
The river of death flows sullenly past our dwellings. We continually hear the splash and the cry of one, and another, and another, as they are flung into the rushing torrent—and carried down to the sea of eternity!
Earth is full of deathbeds. The groan of pain is heard everywhere—in cottage or castle—in prince’s palace or
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peasant’s hut. The tear of parting is seen falling everywhere. The rich and poor, good and evil, are called to weep over the death of beloved kindred, husband or wife, or child, or friend.
Who can bind the strong man that he shall not lay his hand upon us or our beloved ones?
Who can say to sickness—‘You shall not touch my body!’ Or to pain—‘You shall not come near me!’
Or to death—‘You shall not enter my home!’
Who can light up the dimmed eye, or re-color the faded cheek,
or re-invigorate the icy hand,
or bid the sealed lip open,
or the stiffened tongue speak once more, the words of warm affection?
Who can enter the death-chamber, and speak, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”
Who can look into the coffin, and say, “Young man, arise!”
Who can go into the tomb, and say, “Lazarus, come forth!”
The voice of death is heard everywhere. Not only from the coffin, nor the funeral procession, nor the dark vault, nor the heaving churchyard. Death springs up all around.
Each season speaks of death.
The dropping spring-blossom; the scorched leaf of summer; the ripe sheaf of autumn; the chill winter cold—all tell of death.
The wild storm, with its thick clouds and hurrying shadows; the sharp lightning, bent on smiting; the dark torrent, ravaging field and valley; the cold sea wave; the
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crumbling rock; the up-torn tree—all speak of death and corruption.
Earth numbers its grave-yards by hundreds of thousands; and the sea covers the dust of uncounted millions, who, coffined and uncoffined—have gone down into its unknown darkness.
Death reigns over earth and sea; city and village are his.
Into every house this last enemy has entered, in spite of man’s desperate efforts to keep him out. There is….
no family without some empty seat or crib; no garden without some faded rose;
no forest without some sere leaf;
no tree without some shattered bough;
no harp without some broken string.
There is no exemption from this necessity. There is no discharge in this war.
The old man dies; but the young also.
The grey head and the golden head, are laid in the same cold clay.
The wicked dies; so also does the godly.
The common earth from which they sprang, receives them both.
The fool dies; so also does the wise.
The poor man dies; so also does the rich.
“I will ransom them from the power of Sheol. I will redeem them from death! Death, where are your plagues? Sheol, where is your destruction?” Hos. 13:14
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom. 6:23
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; neither will there be mourning, nor
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crying, nor pain, any more. The first things have passed away.” Rev. 21:4
No failing of eyesight;
no wrinkles on their brow;
no hollowness in their cheeks;
no grey hairs upon their heads;
no weariness of limbs;
no languor of spirit;
no drying up of their rivers of pleasure.
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HELPLESS, HOPELESS, FRIENDLESS, PORTIONLESS
John MacDuff, “Family Prayers” 1885
O Eternal, Everlasting God, Fountain of all happiness, God of all grace—we desire to acknowledge anew with grateful hearts, Your undeserved mercies. You have made our cup to overflow with blessings. From the very threshold of our being, You have been our Protector and Guardian. You have shielded us from unknown dangers. You have warded off unseen calamities. No earthly friend could have loved us and cared for us, like You!
Helpless, hopeless, friendless, portionless by nature, we cast ourselves on Him who is help and hope and friend and portion—to all who seek Him. We have no trust but in His work. Sprinkle these polluted hearts with His pardoning, peace-speaking blood. Hide us in the clefts of the smitten Rock. Safely sheltered there, we can make the triumphant challenge, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”
We mourn….
our distance and estrangement from You, our guilty departures,
our coldness and insensibility.
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Let Your wondrous patience and kindness lead us to repentance. Turn us, Lord, and we shall be turned! Draw us and we shall run after You! May every thought, and affection, and feeling, and temper—be brought into captivity to the obedience of Jesus. May we love what He loves, and hate what He hates. May we know the happiness of true holiness; and rejoice in doing Your holy will.
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SITTING AT THE LEPER’S TABLE!
Horatius Bonar, “Bethany and its Feast”
“Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper.” Matthew 26:6
To this home Jesus had been invited—and He goes.
It seems to have been his leprosy, which first brought Simon to Christ—and Christ to him. His disease was his link of connection with the Lord; and had it not been for it, he might never have sought Him.
It is still so with us. Our sin, our moral leprosy—draws us to Jesus. We go to Jesus, not about the good that is in us—but the evil. Our sense of guilt draws us to Him as the Pardoner; and our consciousness of sin constrains us to deal with Him as the Healer and Renewer. And as we began—so also do we go on. Sin brought us to Him— and Him to us. Our sin keeps us constantly at His side.
Simon finds that he has much more to do with Jesus than merely for the cure of his leprosy; therefore he must have Him at his table. So is it with us. We begin our relationship with Jesus by going to Him with our sins. But we soon discover that it cannot be ended here. Our relationship becomes a constant interchange of thought and sympathy. We invite Him to our house— and He comes.
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We ask Him to dine with us—and He comes. How great the honor enjoyed by Simon, of entertaining the Lord of glory; sitting at his own table, with Jesus at his side as his guest! How marvelous the condescension of Christ—in thus sitting at the leper’s table!
Here, then, is the Savior that suits us—the healer of the leper, and the guest of the healed one! We say to Jesus, “Heal me”—and He heals! “Come in”—and He comes! “Sit down at my table”—and He sits down immediately.
It is but little communion indeed, that we can taste here; for the best of earthly feasts are but foretastes of the marriage-supper. But the whole glad fullness we shall yet enjoy, when we shall meet a long absent Lord, not at our table—but at His own! That day shall be the day of the Master’s joy, as well as of ours—He feasting with us, and we with Him! He enjoying our fellowship, and we His—forevermore!
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JESUS IS….
Horatius Bonar, “The Divine Banquet”
Jesus is….
the infinity of all excellence,
the vast treasure-house of all we can desire, the perfection of all perfection,
the beauty of all beauty,
the glory of all glory. 8
JUST GIVE ME JESUS!
Anne Lotz
He is enduringly strong. He is entirely sincere.
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He is eternally steadfast.
He is immortally gracious.
He is imperially powerful.
He is impartially merciful.
He is the greatest phenomena that has ever crossed the horizon of the globe.
He is God’s Son.
He is the sinner’s Savior.
He is the captive’s ransom.
He is the breath of life.
He is the centerpiece of civilization.
He stands in the solitude of Himself.
He is august, and He is unique.
He is unparalleled, and He is unprecedented.
He is undisputed, and He is undefiled.
He is unsurpassed, and He is unshakable.
He is the loftiest idea in philosophy.
He is the highest personality in psychology.
He is the supreme subject in literature.
He is the fundamental doctrine of theology.
He is the corner-stone, the cap-stone, the stumbling- stone of all religion.
He is the miracle of the ages.
Just give me Jesus!
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THE MOST TREACHEROUS ENEMY
Richard Baxter, “Self-Denial”
“For men will be lovers of self.” 2 Timothy 3:2
Self is the most treacherous enemy, and the most insinuating deceiver in the world. Of all other vices, it is both the hardest to find out, and the hardest to cure.
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THE IMMEASURABLE RICHES OF HIS GRACE
Horatius Bonar, “The God of Grace”
“Where sin abounded, grace did abound much more exceedingly!” Romans 5:20
The history of our world has been the story of abounding sin—and far more abounding grace!
What was Abraham’s history—but one of abounding sin and super-abounding grace?
What was Rahab’s history—but a history of abounding sin and super-abounding grace?
What was David’s history—but a history of abounding sin and super-abounding grace?
What was Manasseh’s history—but a history of abounding sin and super-abounding grace?
What was the history of Saul of Tarsus, but one of abounding sin and super-abounding grace, as he himself declares, “The grace of our Lord abounded exceedingly.” 1 Timothy 1:14
What is all this world’s long history—but a history of abounding sin and super-abounding grace?
God not merely allowed sin to enter—but to spread; not only to spread—but to increase in heinousness; not only to increase in heinousness—but to vary itself, and
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take every conceivable shape that man’s wicked heart could devise—all in order to demonstrate that His resources of grace were adequate to meet it all.
Sin might widen its circle age after age—but grace widened its circle and still went far beyond man’s transgression. For age after age sin ascended a higher pinnacle of rebellious ungodliness; but grace ascended along with it, and took its station far above it, like a bright canopy of heavenly azure. Age after age descended to lower and lower depths of hateful pollution; grace went down along with it. And when the soul found itself at the very bottom of the horrible pit, and expected to meet nothing there but hell itself, it found the hand of grace still beneath it, as mighty to save, as willing to bless as ever. “That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:7
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WORLDLY MEN VARNISHED OVER WITH RELIGION
Horatius Bonar, “Christ and the World” “Having a form of godliness but denying the
power thereof.” 2 Timothy 3:5
There are many religious professors, whose object seems to be, to get hold of both worlds. They want as much of worldly comfort and pleasure as will gratify their carnal tastes. Their life is a compromise. Their object is….
to balance between two adverse interests;
to adjust the conflicting claims of this world and of
the world to come;
to please and to serve two masters; to gratify two tastes;
to walk in two opposite ways at once;
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to secure the friendship of the world without losing the friendship of God.
These are, in fact, worldly men varnished over with religion—that is all. There are many of these in our day, when religion is fashionable. They have never broken with sin, nor crucified self, nor taken up the cross. Their heart is not right with God.
Some of these are people who have been brought up in worldliness, and who have, as they grew up, added a little religion to their worldliness—to make it respectable. They have merely ‘religionized the outer man’—leaving the inner man unmelted, unbroken, and unrenewed. They have passed through a certain religious process— but not experienced the heavenly change, without which they cannot enter the kingdom of God. There has been….
no broken-heartedness;
no breaking off from sin;
no surrender of the soul to God; no crucifixion of the old man;
no resurrection to newness of life.
After a while, in such cases, a deep and fixed ‘formalism’ settles in. Earnestness has faded away, and left nothing but its dregs. The soul has become sapless and insensible. The edge of feeling, both upon heart and conscience, has become blunted. The ‘routine of religion’ is still gone through, and the ‘profession’ still kept up; but all within is dried up and withered—
there is no enjoyment of spiritual things; the service of God is a burden;
praise and prayer are irksome;
sermons and sacraments are wearisome;
and the poor professor moves on in his heartless career. Outwardly he is still religious—but at heart he is unspiritual and worldly.
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These are the ‘ambiguous disciples’ of our age, who belong to Christ only in name. These are the stony- ground or thorny-ground hearers. Such a man’s whole religious life is one grand delusion; and every step he takes in it is a blunder, and a stumble, and a snare. Let such a man know that, in his present half-worldly, half- religious condition, he has no real religion at all. It is a fabrication, a delusion.
O worldly formalist, fling away your vain hopes! Give up your fond idea of securing both earth and heaven. Go straight to Calvary; there be crucified to the world, and the world to you, by the cross of Christ. Go straight to Him who died and rose again, and drink into His love. One draught, no, one drop of that love will forever quench your love of sin, and be the death of that worldliness which threatens to be your eternal ruin!
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THE ENDLESS, BLISSFUL THEME!
“The letters of Ruth Bryan” August, 1857 “Yes, He is altogether lovely! This is my Beloved, and
this is my Friend!” Song of Songs 5:16
There are heights and depths in the love of Christ of which the most favored have no conception. And there are beauties and glories in His person which none have yet beheld! Oh! I would have none rest short of the revelation of His person.
His benefits indeed are all precious: His atoning blood and sacrifice, His justifying righteousness, and the effects flowing therefrom—pardon, justification, peace in the conscience, etc., etc. But it is a further and sweeter privilege to know and enjoy Himself! Salvation is sweet—but the Savior crowns all!
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endless, blissful theme—the love and loveliness of our dear Redeemer, the Redeemer of worms!
May He favor you with His precious presence!
May you “know Christ’s love which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to all the fullness of
God.” Ephesians 3:19
I FALL AT YOUR FEET, MY JESUS
The Diary of Ruth Bryan
A poor, weak, guilty, hell-deserving creature—I fall at Your feet, my Jesus. You have redeemed me by Your blood; I am Yours! Oh, use me for Your glory! Reveal Yourself still more unto me. By faith I would embrace You for more gratitude, love, faith, submission, patience, courage, and all I need while in this dreary desert— which You alone can cheer—for all must come from You.
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FROM HEAD TO TOE
Horatius Bonar, “Consecration by Blood,” 1867
“He presented the other ram, the ram of consecration: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the ram. He killed it; and Moses took some of its blood, and put it on the tip of Aaron’s right ear, and on the thumb of his right hand, and on the great toe of his right foot.” Leviticus 8:22-23
The tip of the right ear was the first place the blood was to be sprinkled, denoting that his hearing was now set apart for God, and that he was to be ever in the attitude of one listening to God alone—hearing no words but His, heeding no instructions but His. Our ears are thus set apart to God. And if so, how wide open should they
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be to hear His voice; how thoroughly closed against all sinful sounds.
The thumb of the right hand was the next place sprinkled, indicating the consecration of all bodily skill, and energy, and power, to the service of Jehovah.
The great toe of the right foot was the third place touched with blood, signifying that his feet were to be ever ready for priestly service, that his limbs were to be employed for God, and their strength or swiftness solely dedicated to bearing His burdens or running His errands. Our feet are set apart for Him; let us run the errands of no other master, nor use our limbs in the service of the flesh, or the world, or the devil.
The whole man, in all its faculties and powers of soul and body, was to be thus set apart for God. Our ears, our hands, our feet, are thus wholly His; not our own, not the world’s, not Satan’s. As those who have died and risen with Christ, we hear Him always, and listen for His words and commands, ready to put forth hands and feet, every power and faculty of soul and body—in His service, to whom we are thus solemnly set apart.
The whole man, from head to toe, becomes a sacred thing, dedicated to the service of the living God. As God’s consecrated priests, His true Aarons, His true Levites, His true Israel—whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, let us do all to the glory of God.
Follow the Master fully.
Give Him no divided heart.
Serve Him wholly.
Give Him no half service.
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A CHRISTIAN AND YET A WORLDLING?
Horatius Bonar, “The Risen Christ and the Things Above”
Go on in your worldliness; fling yourselves headlong into the torrent of earth’s vanities; but know that the end of these things is death! “Don’t love the world, neither the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the Father’s love isn’t in him.” 1 John 2:15 “You adulterers and adulteresses, don’t you know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” James 4:4
The point is settled. The Christian cannot take part with the world in its follies, and gaieties, and sins!
What! A Christian and yet a worldling—singing its idle songs, hurrying through its mazy dance, partaking in its mirth and revelry! Impossible!
We have ceased to be citizens of earth’s polluted cities; we are citizens of heaven! We have a home—but not in the palaces or haunts of the world. We have a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens!
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from where we also wait for a Savior, the Lord, Jesus Christ.” Phil. 3:20
THE SOONER WE REACH THIS CONCLUSION
William S. Plumer, “A Treatise on Providence” “‘Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher; ‘Vanity of
vanities, all is vanity.’” Ecclesiastes 1:2 How vain are all merely earthly possessions! How unstable is popular favor!
How uncertain are riches!
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How soon our pleasures may be followed by pains!
When parents rejoice at the birth of a child, they know not how soon they may weep over his dead body, without an assurance that his soul is saved.
Solomon thoroughly tried the world. His sober inspired judgment was that all was utterly meaningless! The sooner we reach this conclusion ourselves—the wiser shall we be!
“This is the end of the matter. All has been heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether it is good, or whether it is evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
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TIME FOR TAUNT, AND INSULT, AND CRUELTY!
Horatius Bonar, “The Surety’s Thirst” “The soldiers also mocked Him, coming to Him
and offering Him sour vinegar.” Luke 23:36
This is the last venting of man’s enmity against God; the last drop of the old serpent’s venom poured upon the holy Jesus! “This is the heir; come, let us kill Him!” Man has got God into his power; he has got the Son of God hanging helplessly on a tree; and his enmity to God now gives full vent! He can mock God safely now. Thus man’s hatred of God comes out in all its bitterness; and it does so, just at the very point where God’s love was coming out in its fullness. Never did love and hatred, kindness and enmity—so meet together. Never was love so requited, and kindness so mocked, as here.
That very thing, which ought to have softened them, and drawn out their profoundest sympathies—is that which calls forth insult, which extinguishes pity, which
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steels them against the Sufferer’s cry, which rouses all hell in their bosoms! Towards God they are as devils!
Now is their time for taunt, and insult, and cruelty! So long as Jesus is going about, doing miracles, they are afraid to touch Him. But now, when He is dying on a cross, they may hate and mock Him as they please! Now, when the lion of the tribe of Judah is in chains, and expiring of His wounds—they may trample on Him at will.
O man, such is your heart! Such is the extent of your enmity to the God in whom you live, and move, and have your being!
Herein is love; not man loving God, but God loving man; so loving man as to persist in His great work of grace, notwithstanding man’s utmost hatred and rejection! Here is God’s provision, not only for man’s pardon—but for his fullest joy. The Surety thirsted that we might not thirst! He drank of the vinegar—that we might not drink it! He drained the cup of wrath—that we might never taste it! He was wounded that—we might be healed! What love!
The love of the Just to the unjust;
the love of the Holy to the unholy;
the love of the Heavenly to the earthly; the love of the Creator to the creature; the love of Jesus—infinite and divine!
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MAN ACTING AS A DEVIL!
Horatius Bonar, “The Surety’s Cross”
In the cross, we see what is in man. In the cross, man has spoken out. He has exhibited himself, and made unconscious confession of his feelings, especially in reference to God—to His Being, His authority, His
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character, His law, His love. It was man who erected the cross, and nailed the Son of God to it! Permitted by God to give vent to the feelings of his heart, and placed in circumstances the least likely to call forth anything but love—he thus expressed the feelings of his heart in hatred to God and to His incarnate Son!
Reckoning the death of the cross, the worst of all deaths—man deems it the fittest for the Son of God! Thus, the enmity of the natural heart speaks out, and man not only confesses publicly that he is a hater of God—but he takes pains to show the intensity of his hatred! More—he glories in his shame, crying aloud, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”
The cross thus interprets what is in man’s heart. The cross rips the mask of pretended religion from his face; and exhibits man overflowing with the malignity of hell!
You say, “I don’t hate God! I may be indifferent to Him. He may not be in all my thoughts; but I don’t hate Him!”
Then, what does that cross mean?
Love, hatred, indifference—which? Does love demand the death of the loved One? Does indifference crucify its objects? Look at your hands! Are they not red with blood? Whose blood is that? The blood of God’s own Son! No—neither love nor indifference shed His blood. It was hatred that did it! Enmity—the enmity of the carnal heart!
You say that I have no right to judge you. I am not judging you. It is yon cross which judges you, and I am asking you to judge yourselves by it. It is yon cross that interprets your purposes, and reveals the thoughts and intents of your heart!
Oh, what a revelation! Man hating God—and hating most, when God is loving most! Man acting as a devil—
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and taking the devil’s side against God!
The cross, then, was the public declaration of man’s hatred of God, man’s rejection of His Son, and man’s avowal of his belief that he needs no Savior!
“What do you think of Christ?” was God’s question. Man’s answer was, “Crucify Him!”
O what must man be—when he can hate, condemn, mock, scourge, spit upon, crucify, the Lamb of God; when coming to him clothed in love, and with the garments of salvation?
And what must sin be—when, in order to expiate it, the Lord of glory must die upon the tree—an outcast, a
criminal, a curse!
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GOD’S CHAIN AND GOD’S PLAN
William S. Plumer, “A Treatise on Providence”
God’s ways are unsearchable.
God’s judgments are past finding out.
God’s compassions are infinite.
God’s power is almighty.
God’s wisdom is unerring.
“I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be restrained.” Job 42:2
Providences are long chains with many links in them. If one link were missing, the event would fail. But it is God’s chain and God’s plan. The thing is fixed. The outcome is not doubtful.
“My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure. …yes, I have spoken, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed, I will also do it.” Isaiah 46:10-11
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“The purpose of Him who works all things after the counsel of His will.” Ephesians 1:11
“This is the purpose that is purposed on the whole
earth.” Isaiah 14:26
WHEN GOD THWARTS, AFFLICTS, AND
MORTIFIES US
William S. Plumer, “A Treatise on Providence” 1865
Men are so ignorant of their own hearts that they are incapable of determining what is best for them. Even regenerate men are but partially sanctified and enlightened. But God searches the heart. He understands our whole case. He knows what is most for our good. He sees our strong corruptions and sad deficiencies. When, in mercy to His child, He comes to heal his spiritual maladies, He does not take counsel with human reasoning or desires. It is right, it is best that He should act according to the wisdom which is infallible.
He employs the requisite remedies. Often they are distasteful to flesh and blood. Sometimes they are frightful to contemplate, and terrible to endure.
Then man, in his ignorance, too often says, “If God loved me—He would not give me so bitter a cup to drink!” But this is man’s folly. Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? Shall human weakness control divine power? Shall finite knowledge prescribe to omniscience? It is the height of wickedness for a worm of the dust—to revise the decisions, or pre-judge the justice of the Almighty. We would expect that God would deal with us in an incomprehensible way—if we did but remember how base, sordid, and narrow are
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our views and plans; and how holy, glorious, and eternal are His purposes and designs.
We are quite prone to magnify both the good and evil things of time—to the disparagement of those of eternity. But when God thwarts, afflicts, and mortifies us—He makes us look at the things which are unseen and eternal. If He racks this body with pain—it is that we may think of our house, not made with hands, eternal, and in the heavens. The shaking of this clay tabernacle forces upon us the recollection that this present world is not our rest—and that we ought to be seeking a heavenly country. If the godliest man on earth had his own way without divine guidance—he would soon be in full march towards destruction!
How kind is God in wisely and mercifully deciding so many things for us! God very mercifully marks out our course for us. God is governor. We are servants. To us belong obedience, submission, acquiescence. It is not ours….
to guide,
to decide what is best,
to rule the world,
to shape the course of events.
“But no, man, who are you who replies against God? Will the thing formed ask Him who formed it—Why did You make me like this?” Romans 9:20
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SUCH A GOD SHOULD BE DERIDED!
William S. Plumer, “A Treatise on Providence” 1865
The unrenewed heart is atheistic in its inclinations. “They say—The Lord will not see, neither will Jacob’s
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“He says in his heart, ‘God has forgotten. He hides His face. He will never see it.’ Arise, O Lord! God, lift up Your hand! Don’t forget the helpless.” Psalm 10:11-12
Nothing more derogatory to the character of God can possibly be said, than that He does not rule the world.
God reigns is a logical conclusion from God is. To deny God’s providence is as atheistic as to deny His existence! A God, who neither sees, nor hears, nor knows, nor cares, nor helps, nor saves—is a vanity, and can never claim homage from intelligent men. Such a God should be derided—not worshiped! He might suit the mythology of Paganism, or meet the demands of an infidel heart—but could never command the allegiance, or win the confidence of an enlightened and pious man!
The world may as well be without a God—as have one who is incompetent to rule it, or, who, wrapping Himself in a mantle of careless indifference, abandons creation to the governance of puny mortals, to the rule of devils, or to the sway of a blind chance! Such conduct may well comport with the character of false gods—but is wholly abhorrent to the nature of Jehovah! God’s tender mercies are over all His works. His kingdom rules over all!
“Our God is in the heaven. He does whatever He pleases.” Psalm 115:3
“For I know that the Lord is great, That our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the Lord pleased, that He has done, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps!” Psalm 135:5-6
“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns!” Revelation 19:68
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HE LEADS ME
William S. Plumer
“The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall lack nothing. He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters.” Psalm 23:1-2
He leads me. I certainly need someone to lead me. I am so poor, so blind, so weak, so foolish that, if left to myself, I would fatally err. Lord, never leave me nor forsake me, lest I be undone.
My Shepherd leads me gently and wisely. He makes no mistakes. He knows the way I ought to go. He knows how much sweet and how much bitter, are best for me. He understands me fully. Oh, how He mingles mercy with judgment!
True, He leads me often in a mysterious way. I see not the end from the beginning. I cannot see afar off. His footsteps are in the sea; clouds and thick darkness surround Him. He gives account of none of His matters. His judgments are a great deep. But He never does wrong. He leads me in the paths of righteousness.
He leads me always—in prosperity and in adversity; in joy and in sorrow. If He left me even for an hour I would be undone. When I sleep, You, Lord, keep vigil over me. When I awake, I am still with You. On the land and on the sea, I am kept by Your mighty power.
He leads me—and I will follow Him. I will put my hand in His—and go wherever His prudence shall direct.
“Teach me your way, O Lord. Lead me in a straight
path.” Psalm 27:11
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THE PASTURE OF WORMS!
William Bates
Women, by men’s idolizing them—are vainly proud of their beauty, and more concerned lest their faces be deformed, than their souls!
What is the body—but a mixture of earth and water?
What is beauty—but a superficial appearance—a flower blasted by a thousand accidents? How soon are the colors and charms of the face vanished? The most beautiful are no less mortal than others—they must shortly be the prey of death—and the pasture of worms! Can such a fading toy inspire pride into them?
“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain; But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” Prov. 31:30
I NEED JUST SUCH A FRIEND
William S. Plumer
Jesus knows all my wants and weaknesses; all my sin and misery. He knows the malice of my enemies, and the foolishness of my heart. He has power to subdue my whole nature to Himself, and to defeat the wiles and machinations of my foes.
His grace is all-sufficient.
His love is infinite.
His wisdom cannot be defeated. His power cannot be resisted.
He has all power and strength—and I am very weak. He has all the knowledge to understand my whole case, and all the wisdom necessary to direct everything concerning me. He makes no mistakes. He is never deceived. He is
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never outsmarted. He knows all things. He knows my weaknesses. He knows my sorrows. He knows my heart. His wisdom never fails. He is never confounded or perplexed. He has as much mercy and kindness as I need. His loving-kindness is so great that we cannot fathom its top or the bottom—the length or the breadth of it. The ocean of the Divine love is boundless and inexhaustible! It is infinite!
I have no sorrow to which He is a stranger.
He sympathizes with me in all my sufferings and temptations.
I need just such a friend.
“Let us therefore draw near with boldness to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace for timely help.” Heb. 4:16
PRAYER FOR A TIME OF BEREAVEMENT
John MacDuff, “Family Prayers” 1885
The desire of our eyes has been taken away by a stroke! The shadows of death have unexpectedly fallen around us! Oh forbid that we should rebel under the rod, and refuse to be comforted. Let us glorify You “in the fires!” Let us feel that if we are Your children, there is not a drop of wrath, in that cup of sorrow; but all is love, infinite love! We would see no hand but Yours. You gave us our blessings—and You have a supreme and inalienable right to take them away! “Even so, Father, for it seems good in Your sight.”
O Lord God Almighty, though Your way may sometimes seem to be in the sea, and Your path in the deep waters, and Your judgments unsearchable—yet nothing can happen by accident or chance. All is the
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unerring dictate of Your infinite wisdom and unchanging faithfulness and love. “This also comes from the Lord Almighty,” who is ever “excellent in working.” Often we cannot discern, through our tears, the rectitude and love of Your afflictive dispensations. Often are we led to say, with trembling hearts, “Truly, You are a God who hides Yourself.” But all is well. We could not wish our concerns in better hands, than in Yours.
You cannot send one trial that is unnecessary, or light one spark in the furnace that might be spared. We will be silent, we will not open our mouths, because You are the one who has done this! Man may err, and has often erred. But, O unerring God—the Judge of all the earth must do right! We would seek to lie submissive at Your feet, and say in unmurmuring resignation, “May Your will be done.”
Our earnest prayer, blessed God, is, that this severe trial may be sanctified to us all. We have need of such a blow—to remind us that this earth is not our rest. We were leaning on the creature—we were disowning and undeifying the Great Creator. You would not leave us to ourselves, to settle on our lees. You saw the need of Fatherly chastisement, to bring back our alien and truant hearts to Yourself. Oh, may we listen to our Father’s voice. May we feel it to be a loud voice, and yet full of gentle tenderness. May it rouse within each of us the question, “What will You have me to do?” May we “arise and call upon our God!” Thus may this very affliction, which, for the present, seems not to be joyous but grievous, nevertheless afterward yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness.
Let us hear Jesus’ voice of encouragement and love, sounding amid the stillness of the death-chamber, and from the depths of the sepulcher, “Don’t be afraid! I am
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the First and the Last. I am the living one who died. Look, I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave!”
O Helper of the helpless, Comforter of all who are cast down, better and dearer than the dearest and best of earthly relatives—give us that grace which You have promised specially in seasons of weakness. May we realize the truth of Your own precious promise, “As your day—so shall your strength be.”
May this thought reconcile us to bear all and suffer all— that we shall soon be done with this present evil world— and be with our God, and that forever and ever! Hide us meanwhile, in the clefts of the Smitten Rock, until this and all other of earth’s calamities are over and past. May we trust Your heart—where we cannot trace Your hand! We wait patiently for the great day of disclosures, when all shall be revealed; and all be found redounding to the praise and the glory of Your great name!
Hear us, blessed God. All that we ask, is for the sake of Your dear Son—our only Lord and Savior. Amen.
GOD’S MERCY
Nevins
There is something very special in the manner in which
the doctrine of God’s mercy is taught in Scripture.
Observe that several words, nearly synonymous, are used to teach us the doctrine—such as merciful, gracious, long-suffering, pitiful, slow to anger. And not satisfied with the positive—the inspired writers use the superlative—very pitiful and very gracious!
Not content with the singular, ‘mercy’—they adopt and employ the plural form—‘mercies.’ They speak of the
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mercies of God. Nor are they content with a simple plural—but they speak of these mercies as manifold. Yes, they speak of the multitude of His mercies. And to denote that there is nothing uncertain about these mercies, they speak of them as sure mercies. They also speak of them not only as many, but great! Yes—and great above the heavens! And they speak of the greatness of His mercies, in magnitude equal to what they are in multitude—many and great and sure mercies! Think of that!
They are not mere mercies—but tender mercies, and these mercies they speak of as original with God. They speak of Him as the Father of mercies! They take care to tell us that mercy is not accidental to God—but essential; they speak of it as belonging to him. Daniel goes further still. He says—“To the Lord our God belong mercies”—and ‘forgiveness’? No! but ‘forgivenesses’! You may say that is not proper grammar—but it is glorious doctrine!
There is another set of phrases they use—they speak of God as rich in mercy, plenteous in mercy, and full of compassion. They speak of His abundant mercy, of the earth as full of His mercy, to denote its amplitude. And in respect of its continuance, they say that His compassions fail not. In Psalm 136, twenty-six times it is said, “His mercy endures forever!”
There is still another phraseology used by the sacred writers. They speak of God’s kindness, His great kindness, His marvelous kindness, His everlasting kindness. But they are not satisfied to speak of it as simple kindness; they call it merciful kindness, and speak of it as great towards us. They call it lovingkindness, also. And we read of God’s marvelous and excellent lovingkindness, with which it is said also that He crowns us! Here, too, they use the plural form,
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lovingkindnesses; and they speak of the multitude of His lovingkindnesses.
We also find the sacred writers speaking of the mercy of God compared to certain human traits. For example, to a father’s pity—which it is said to be like; and to a brother’s friendship—than which it is closer; and to a mother’s love—which it is said to exceed!
What more could they say?
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HE HIDES THE HOOK!
Thomas Brooks, “Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices”
“That no advantage may be gained over us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” 2 Corinthians 2:11
Satan has his several devices to deceive, entangle, and undo the souls of men. Satan has….
snares for the wise, and snares for the simple; snares for hypocrites, and snares for the upright; snares for brave, and snares for the timorous; snares for the rich, and snares for the poor; snares for the aged, and snares for youth.
Happy are those souls which are not captured and held in the snares that he has laid! Satan’s first device to draw the soul into sin is, to present the bait—and hide the hook; to present the golden cup—and hide the poison; to present the sweet, the pleasure, and the profit that may flow in upon the soul by yielding to sin—and to hide from the soul the wrath and misery that will certainly follow the committing of sin!
By this device he deceived our first parents, “And the serpent said unto the woman, You shall not surely die—for God knows, that in the day you eat thereof,
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then your eyes shall be opened; and you shall be as gods.” Your eyes shall he opened, and you shall be as gods! Here is the bait, the sweet, the pleasure, the profit. Oh—but he hides the hook—the shame, the wrath, and the loss that would certainly follow! So Satan cheats them—giving them an apple in exchange for a paradise! Satan with ease pawns falsehoods upon us, by his golden baits, and then he leads us and leaves us in a fool’s paradise.
He promises the soul honor, pleasure, profit—but pays the soul with the greatest contempt, shame, and loss that can be!
Alas! Many have fallen forever by this vile strumpet, the world, who, by showing forth her two fair breasts of PROFIT and PLEASURE, has wounded their souls, and cast them down into utter perdition! She has, by the glistening of her pomp and preferment, slain millions!
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THE POURING FORTH OF ALL HIS WRATH
Thomas Brooks, “Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices”
“I will sing of lovingkindness and justice.” Psalm 101:1 Mercy is God’s Alpha—justice is His Omega.
When God’s mercy is despised—then His justice takes the throne!
God is like a prince, who first hangs out the white flag of mercy; if this wins men—they are happy forever! But if they remain rebellious, then God will put forth His red flag of justice and judgment.
If His mercy is despised—His justice shall be felt!
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God is as just—as He is merciful. As the Scriptures portray Him to be a very merciful God—so they portray Him to be a very just God.
Witness His casting the angels out of heaven and His binding them in chains of darkness until the judgment of the great day.
Witness His turning Adam out of Paradise.
Witness His drowning of the old world.
Witness His raining hell out of heaven upon Sodom.
Witness all the troubles, losses, sicknesses, and diseases, which are in the world.
Witness His treasuring up of wrath against the day of wrath.
But above all, witness the pouring forth of all His wrath upon His bosom Son, when Jesus bore the sins of His people, and cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
As I know not the man who can reckon up his mercies; so I know not the man who can sum up the miseries which are coming upon him for his sins.
God is slow to anger—but He recompenses His slowness with grievousness of punishment. If we abuse His mercy to serve our lust—then He will rain hell out of heaven, rather than not visit for such sins.
Men shall be deeper in hell, because heaven was offered unto them—and they abused God’s mercy. Sins against God’s mercy, will bring upon the soul the greatest misery!
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A SOUL GIVEN UP TO SIN
Thomas Brooks, “Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices”
It is the greatest judgment in the world to be left to sin. O unhappy man—when God leaves you to yourself, and does not resist you in your sins! Woe, woe to him at whose sins God winks at. When God lets the way to hell be a smooth and pleasant way—that is hell on this side hell, and a dreadful sign of God’s indignation against a man; a token of his rejection, and that God does not intend good unto him.
That is a sad word, “Ephraim is joined to idols—let him alone!” Hosea 4:17 Ephraim will be unteachable and incorrigible; he has made a match with sin—and he shall have his bellyful of it!
And that is a terrible saying, “So I let them go after the stubbornness of their hearts, That they might walk in their own counsels.” Psalm 81:12. A soul given up to sin is a soul ripe for hell—a soul hastening to destruction!
Ah Lord! this mercy I humbly beg—that whatever You give me up to, You will not give me up to the ways of my own heart! If You will give me up to be afflicted, or tempted, or reproached—I will patiently sit down, and say, It is the Lord, let Him do with me what seems good in His own eyes. Do anything with me, lay what burden You will upon me—but do not give me up to the ways of my own heart!
Augustine says, “Deliver me, O Lord, from that evil
man—myself!”
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IT IS BUT A LITTLE SIN!
Thomas Brooks, “Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices”
“That no advantage may be gained over us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” 2 Corinthians 2:11
“Ah!” says Satan, “It is but a little sin—a little pride, a little worldliness, a little lust, etc. You may commit it without any danger to your soul. It is but a little one; you may commit it, and yet your soul shall live.”
Consider, that there is great danger, yes, many times most danger—in the smallest sins. “A little leaven leavens the whole lump” 1 Cor. 5:6. If the serpent sneaks in his head—he will draw in his whole body after him. Greater sins do sooner startle the soul, and awaken and rouse up the soul to repentance, than lesser sins do. Little sins often slide into the soul, and breed, and work secretly and indiscernibly in the soul, until they come to be so strong, as to trample upon the soul, and to cut the throat of the soul.
Many are eternally killed and betrayed by the ‘little sin,’ as they call them, that are nourished in their own bosoms.
A little hole in the ship, sinks it.
A small breach in a dyke, carries away all before it. A little stab at the heart, kills a man.
A little sin, without a great deal of mercy, will damn a
man!
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SWEET POISONS!
Thomas Brooks, “Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices”
“I will give You all of these things—if You will fall down and worship me.” Matthew 4:9
Satan presents the world in such a dress, and in such a garb, as to ensnare the soul, and to win the affection of the soul. He represents the world to them in its beauty and finery, which proves a bewitching sight to carnal men. Satan can no sooner cast out his golden bait—but we are ready to play with it, and to nibble at it! He can no sooner throw out his golden ball—but men are apt to run after it—though they lose God and their souls in the pursuit!
Ah! the time, the thoughts, the hearts, the souls— which the inordinate love of this wicked world eats up and destroys! Where one thousand are destroyed by the world’s frowns—ten thousand are destroyed by the world’s smiles!
The world, siren-like, sings to us—then sinks us! It kisses us—then betrays us, like Judas!
It kisses us—then stabs us under the rib, like Joab.
The honors, splendor, and all the glory of this world, are but sweet poisons, which will much endanger us, if they do not eternally destroy us. Ah! the multitude of souls that have glutted on these sweet baits, and died forever! Such men will sell Christ, heaven, and their souls for a trifle! “How long shall My glory be turned into dishonor? Will you love vanity, and seek after falsehood?” Psalm 4:2
Ah, how many thousands are there now on earth, who have found this true by experience; who have spun a
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lovely rope to strangle themselves, both temporally and eternally, by being bewitched by the beauty and finery of this world!
The main reason why men dote upon the world, and damn their souls to get the world, is, because they are not acquainted with a greater glory! Men ate acorns, until they were acquainted with the use of wheat. Ah, did men but taste more of heaven, and live more in heaven, and had more glorious hopes of going to heaven, ah, how easily would they trample the world under their feet!
“You joyfully accepted the plundering of your possessions, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and an enduring one in the heavens.” Hebrews 10:34
Let heaven be a man’s object, and earth will soon be his abject. Assurance of more great and glorious things, breed in the soul a holy scorn and contempt of all these poor, base worldly things—which the soul before valued above God, Christ and heaven.
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A SEA OF BLOOD, WRATH, SIN, SORROW, MISERY
Thomas Brooks, “Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices”
Ah, what a sea of blood, of wrath, of sin, of sorrow and misery—did the Lord Jesus wade through for your eternal good! Christ did not plead, “This cross is too heavy for Me to bear; this wrath is too great for Me to lie under; this cup of suffering, which has in it all the ingredients of divine wrath, is too bitter for Me to sip of—how much more to drink the very dregs of it!” No! Christ does not plead the difficulty of the service—but resolutely and bravely wades through all! “I gave My
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back to the strikers, and My cheeks to those who plucked off the hair; I didn’t hide My face from shame and spitting.” Isaiah 50:6. Christ bears….
His Father’s wrath,
the punishment of your sins, the malice of Satan,
the rage of the world,
and sweetly and triumphantly passes through all.
Christ has freed you from…. all your enemies,
the curse of the law,
the damnatory power of sin, the wrath of God,
the sting of death, the torments of hell.
“Having therefore these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” 2 Cor. 7:1
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SHEEP OR SWINE?
Thomas Brooks, “Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices”
It is possible for Christians to fall into the same sins of which they have formerly repented—by the secret, subtle, and strong workings of sin in their hearts. And no wonder, for though their repentance is ever so sincere and sound—yet their graces are but weak, and their mortification of sin is imperfect in this life. Though by grace they are freed from the dominion of sin, and from the damnatory power of every sin, and from the love of all sin; yet grace does not free them from the indwelling of any one sin. Therefore it is possible for a Christian to fall again and again into the same sin.
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God will graciously pardon those sins to His people, which He will not in this life totally subdue in His people.
I have never seen a promise in Scripture, which says that when our sorrow and grief has been so great, or so much, for this or that sin—that God will then preserve us from ever falling into the same sin. The sight of such a promise would be as life from the dead to many a precious soul, who desires nothing more than to keep close to Christ, and fears nothing more than backsliding from Christ.
Yet, there is a great difference between a sheep which by weakness falls into the mire—and a swine which delights to wallow in the mire! There is a great difference between a woman who is raped, though she fights and cries out—and an alluring adulteress!
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HELL’S GREATEST ENRICHERS!
Thomas Brooks, “Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices”
“The prophets who lead My people astray.” Micah 3:5
Satan labors by false teachers, who are his emissaries to deceive, delude, and forever undo the precious souls of men! They seduce them, and carry them out of the right way into by-paths and blind thickets of error and wickedness—where they are lost forever!
As strumpets paint their faces, and deck and perfume their beds, the better to allure and deceive simple souls; so false teachers will put a great deal of paint and garnish upon their most dangerous principles and blasphemies, that they may the better deceive and delude poor ignorant souls. They know sugared-poison goes down sweetly. They wrap up their pernicious,
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soul-killing pills in gold! “Peace, peace! they say, when there is no peace.” Jeremiah 6:14
“Beware of false prophets, for they come to you in sheep’s clothing—but inwardly they are ravening wolves!” These lick and suck the blood of souls! These kiss and kill! They cry, ‘Peace, peace!’ until souls fall into everlasting flames!
False teachers handle holy things with wit and trifling, rather than with fear and reverence. They are soul- murderers! They are like evil surgeons, who skin over the wound—but never heal it. False teachers are hell’s greatest enrichers! Such smooth teachers are sweet soul- poisoners! This age is full of such teachers—such monsters!
They eye your goods more than your good; and mind more the serving of themselves—than the saving of your souls. So they may have your substance—they care not though Satan has your souls! That they may the better pick your purse—they will hold forth such principles as are very indulgent to the flesh.
These are Satan’s great benefactors, and such as divine justice will hang up in hell as the greatest malefactors!
NAMES WHICH THE HOLY SPIRIT HAS GIVEN THEM
Thomas Brooks, “Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices”
Always look upon wicked men, under those names and notions which the Scripture describes them, such as:
lions for their fierceness, bears for their cruelty, dragons for their hideousness, dogs for their filthiness, wolves for their subtleness,
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scorpions, vipers, thorns, briars, thistles, brambles, stubble, dirt, chaff, dust, dross, smoke, and scum.
You may know well enough what is within them, by the apt names which the Holy Spirit has given them. By looking upon them under those names and notions that the Scripture sets them out by, may preserve the soul from frequenting their company and delighting in their society. Such monsters are wicked men—which should render their company to all who have tasted of the sweetness of divine love, a burden and not a delight.
“Blessed is the man who doesn’t walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers.” Psalm 1:1
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TO WEAN YOU FROM A POOR, UNSATISFYING
WORLD
Octavius Winslow, “The Divine Attributes Entwining Around the Tempted and Trembling Believer”
Reader, are you a child of sorrow?
Jesus is with His people at all times, in all places, and
under all circumstances. Consoling thought!
He is “God with us.” He is with us….
to comfort us in the hour of sorrow,
to enlighten us in the hour of darkness,
to guide us in the hour of doubt and perplexity, to deliver us in the time of conflict,
to support us in the hour of death.
O for faith to realize this!
He was with His three faithful servants in the fiery furnace. He was with Daniel in the lions’ den. He was with Jacob in his wrestlings at Bethel. He was with John in his exile at Patmos.
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Jesus is, at all times, in all places, and under all circumstances—with His dear people.
Perhaps you are a son or a daughter of affliction. You may now be passing through the furnace; you may now be draining adversity’s bitter cup; the rod of the covenant may be heavy upon you:
friends unkind,
the world empty, everything earthly failing, faith weak,
corruptions strong.
Is it so?
Still is your omnipresent Jesus with you!
Do not be cast down! This furnace is but to consume the tin and burnish the gold; this cup of suffering is but to work your inward good; these painful dispensations, by which you are learning the changeableness of every thing earthly, are but to wean you from a poor, unsatisfying world—and to draw you near and yet nearer to Jesus.
Then be of good cheer, for He has promised never to leave or forsake you. So that you may boldly say, “The
Lord is my helper!”
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YOUR BEAUTY, STRENGTH, AND FINE ATTIRE
Ebenezer Erskine, “The Groans of Believers under their Burdens”
Their great concern of the worldling is about this clay tabernacle—how to gratify it, how to beautify and adorn it. Their language is, “Who will show us any good? What shall we eat? What shall we drink? How shall we be clothed?” But they have no thought or concern about the immortal soul which inhabits the
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body, which must be happy or miserable forever. O, sirs! Remember, that whatever care you take about this clay tabernacle, it will drop down to dust before long, and the abhorrent grave will be its habitation, where worms and corruption will prey upon the fairest face and purest complexion. Where will be your beauty, strength, and fine attire, when the curtains of the grave are drawn about you?
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THE DEVIL’S LOGIC
Thomas Brooks, “Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices”
“Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” Romans 6:1
To argue from God’s mercy to sinful liberty—is the devil’s logic—and such logicians do ever walk as upon a mine of gunpowder ready to be blown up! No such soul can ever avert or avoid the wrath of God. This is wickedness at the height—for a man to be very bad, because God is very good! There is not a worse spirit than this in hell. Ah, Lord, does not wrath, yes, the greatest wrath—lie at this man’s door? Are not the strongest chains of darkness prepared for such a soul? To sin against mercy is bestial; no, it is worse!
To render good for evil is divine.
To render good for good is human. To render evil for evil
is brutish.
But to render evil for good is devilish!
There is nothing in the world that renders a man more unlike a Christian, and more like Satan—than to argue from God’s mercy to sinful liberty; from divine goodness to licentiousness. This is devilish logic, and in
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whomever you find it, you may write, ‘This soul is lost!’
A man may as truly say, ‘the sea burns,’ or ‘the fire cools’—as that God’s free grace and mercy should make a truly gracious soul to live wickedly.
“Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid! How shall we who are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” Romans 6:1, 2
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ALL HANG DEPENDENT ON HIS POWERFUL PROVIDENCE!
William S. Plumer, “The Rock of Our Salvation” 1867 “In Him all things are held together.” Colossians 1:17
“Upholding all things by the word of His power.” Hebrews 1:3
Jesus Christ upholds, preserves, and governs the worlds which He has made!
Thus all creatures, from the smallest insect which is seen by the microscope; up to the archangel which worships before the eternal throne; all events, from the falling of a hair of the head to the destruction of nations by famine, pestilence, and war; all rule and authority, from that of a petty official, to that of thrones and principalities in heaven; the material universe, from the least particle which floats in the sunbeam to the grandest system of worlds which roll in immensity—all hang dependent on His powerful providence! And if one link in the chain of that dependence were broken, they would all rush headlong to destruction!
Jesus always has governed this world; and He shall ever hold the scepter over it, until His last foe shall is vanquished, and His last hidden one made victorious!
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SPIRIT-TAUGHT, SPIRIT-LED, SPIRIT-FED
Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan I want to be Spirit-taught, Spirit-led, Spirit-fed.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are children of God.” Romans 8:14
“When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all the truth.” John 16:13
KISSING EACH OTHER!
William S. Plumer, “The Rock of Our Salvation” 1867
“For while we were yet weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:6
We are justly condemned. The single sin of not loving God with all our heart, and mind, and soul, and strength—is enough to blot out every hope of heaven. Our sins have risen up like the mountains between us and God. They are more than the hairs of our heads. We have sinned against God. We are all wrong; we are wholly wrong; we are terribly wrong. Our iniquities have separated us and God. He is righteous—we are unjust. He is holy—we are vile. He can do without us— without Him we are undone.
Salvation by Jesus, is very humbling to man—the sinner, the wrong-doer. It says to him, “You are unworthy and unfit to come into the presence of God. You can neither justify nor excuse your wicked conduct. You are rejected by God. He utterly abhors all your works, all your pleas, all your merits. You are condemned. You are vile!”
Salvation by Jesus, marks sin as very evil—deserving all the woes and wrath denounced against it.
A God all mercy—is a God unjust.
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A God all justice—could not forgive a sinner.
In the cross, we see infinite mercy and inflexible justice—
kissing each other!
Christ crucified has been the salvation of millions, many of whom were sunk in almost unparalleled guilt, and shame, and ignorance, and misery! God has filled the heavens and the earth; the sea and the dry land with wonders; but above all His other works, the plan of salvation by Jesus Christ is God’s monument, displaying His infinite skill and wisdom!
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A MELTING CONSIDERATION
Hopkins
“Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:6
O what a melting consideration is this, that….
out of Christ’s agony—comes our victory;
out of His condemnation—comes our justification; out of His pain—comes our ease;
out of His stripes—comes our healing;
out of His gall and vinegar—comes our honey;
out of His curse—comes our blessing;
out of His crown of thorns—comes our crown of glory; out of His death—comes our life!
“Hearts must be harder than the rocks—if the love and death of Christ do not move them!” (Plumer)
LIVE AMONG THE SWINE?
Robert Leighton, “Practical Commentary on 1 Peter”
Shall those who are purged by Christ’s blood, return to live among the swine, and tumble with them in the mire?
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THE LORD REIGNS!
William S. Plumer, “The Rock of Our Salvation” 1867 “The Lord reigns! He is clothed with majesty!” Psalm 93:1
“The Lord reigns! Let the peoples tremble!” Psalm 99:1
Jesus Christ is— Lord,
Master, Governor, Ruler, Shepherd, Prince,
Prince and Savior,
the great Prince,
the Prince of Life,
the Prince of Peace,
the Prince of princes,
the Prince of the kings of the earth, a King,
the King,
the King of kings and Lord of lords!
He is God over all, blessed forever!
Christ’s kingdom is universal. It includes all worlds, all creatures, all causes. Nothing in heaven, nothing in earth—is outside of it. His saints praise Him. The angels adore Him. The devils are subject to Him. The king’s heart is in His hands, and He turns it wherever He will. His kingdom rules over all.
His kingdom is supreme. Nothing can shake it. Worms cannot spit their venom so as to reach the stars in their course. Nor can puny mortals reach the person or the power of our glorious Immanuel.
Christ’s kingdom is omnipotent. By His own divine efficiency He carries on His government. He upholds all
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things by His powerful word. He does His will in heaven and in earth. Not an empire rises or sinks, but by His will. Not a sparrow falls to the ground, without His notice. Every change on earth is by His providence. He gives no account of any of His matters.
His work on His people is mighty.
He subdues them to Himself.
He reigns as their Lord and Master.
He chains their great adversary.
He subdues their iniquities.
He strips the world of its fatal fascinations.
He makes them willing in the day of His power. He leads them into all necessary truth.
“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns!” Revelation 19:68
OUR WORST ENEMIES!
Charles Spurgeon
Beware of no man more than yourself! We carry our worst enemies within us!
“The human heart is deceitful above all thing, and it is exceedingly corrupt.” Jeremiah 17:9
“Deliver me, O Lord, from that evil man—myself!”
Augustine
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SPLENDID SINS!
William S. Plumer, “Sinners Saved by Unmerited Kindness”
Two things are required to make an action right. One is that it be lawful in itself. The other is that it be done with a right motive. If the thing done is itself wrong, no motives can make it right. On the other hand, the thing
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done may be right in itself, but the motive which governs us may be wrong, and so the act may be sinful because the motive is sinful. Bad motives in good actions are like dead flies in sweet ointments. They corrupt the whole. The motive of the heart is everything!
Most unbelievers do many things which are very proper, but not out of love to God. The unregenerate man never does anything with holy motives. His life is better than his heart. Indeed his heart is the worst part of him! It is all wrong. It is hard, and proud, and selfish, and unbelieving, and without any love to God. So far from pleasing God, all the unregenerate are continually offending him. Their very best works are but splendid sins! They do some things which God requires, and abstain from some things which God forbids—not because they love God or His law, but because it promotes their health, or wealth, or honor to do so.
Ploughing is itself a lawful act. If there is no ploughing, there can be no bread. Yet God says: “The ploughing of the wicked is sin!” Yes, he puts it down with other sins which greatly offend him. The whole verse reads thus: “A high look, and a proud heart, and the ploughing of the wicked—is sin.” Proverbs 21:4. If God had intended to teach that everything done by wicked men—even the most common and necessary thing was sinful—could He have chosen more fit words?
Here is a passage which shows that all the religious services of the unconverted, are defiled with sin. “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord.” Proverbs 15:8
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WHEN GOD PARDONS
William S. Plumer, “Sinners Saved by Unmerited Kindness”
One unpardoned sin would destroy a soul forever.
Many words in Scripture point towards forgiveness, such as:
grace,
mercy,
peace with God,
not imputing iniquity,
taking away sin,
bearing sin,
making an end of transgression,
covering sin, forgetting sin,
not remembering iniquity,
washing, cleansing and removing sin, casting it into the sea, or behind the back, scattering it like a cloud,
burying it,
blotting it out,
pardoning it.
The forgiveness of sins is free. It is “without money and without price.” We can do nothing to merit it, or prepare ourselves for it. When God pardons, He pardons:
all sins,
original sin and actual sin,
sins of omission and of commission, secret and open sins,
sins of thought, word and deed.
To those who believe in Jesus, all is freely forgiven. Full pardon, or none at all, is what God gives. Nor is this gift ever revoked by God. When He forgives, He forgives forever!
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“Blessed is he whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord doesn’t impute iniquity.” Psalm 32:1-2
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GOD’S ABHORRENCE OF SIN
William Plumer, “Sinners Saved by Unmerited Kindness”
God’s abhorrence of sin is more clearly expressed in the cross of Christ, than in the flames of hell.
WONDERFUL MYSTERY!
William Plumer, “Sinners Saved by Unmerited Kindness”
Wonderful mystery! God was manifest in the flesh! Our Lord Jesus Christ became incarnate, lived, acted,
obeyed, suffered, died and rose again—for His people.
He came down to earth—that they might go up to heaven.
He suffered—that they might reign.
He became a servant—that they might become kings and priests unto God.
He died—that they might live.
He bore the cross—that their enmity might be slain, and their sins expiated.
He loved them—that they might love God.
He was rich and became poor—that they, who were poor, might be made rich.
He descended into the grave—that they might sit in heavenly places.
He emptied Himself—that they might be filled with all the fullness of God.
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He took upon Him human nature—that they might be partakers of the divine nature.
He made Himself of no reputation—that they might wear His new name, and obtain eternal excellency.
He became a worm, and no man—that they, who were sinful worms, might be made equal to the angels.
He bore the curse of a broken covenant—that they might partake of all the blessings of the everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure.
Though heir of all things, He was willingly despised of the people—that they, who were justly condemned, might obtain an inheritance which is incorruptible, undefiled, and which fades not away.
His death was a satisfaction to divine justice, a ransom for many, a propitiation for sin, a sweet smelling savor to God—that we, who were an offence to God, might become His sons and daughters.
He was made sin for His people—that they might be made the righteousness of God in Him.
Though Lord of all, He took the form of a servant—that they, who were the servants of sin, might prevail like princes with God.
He had no where to lay His head—that they who otherwise must have lain down in eternal sorrow, might reach the mansions in His Father’s house.
He drank the cup of God’s indignation—that they might forever drink of the river of his pleasures.
He hungered—that they might eat the bread of life. He thirsted—that they might drink the water of life.
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He was numbered with the transgressors—that they might stand among the justified, and be counted among His jewels.
Though He existed from everlasting, from the beginning, before ever the earth was, yet He became a helpless infant—that creatures of yesterday, sentenced to death, might live forever.
He wore a crown of thorns—that all who love His appearing, might wear a crown of life.
He wept tears of anguish—that His elect might weep tears of godly repentance.
He bore the yoke of obedience unto death—that they might find His yoke easy and His burden light.
He poured out his soul unto death, lay three days in the heart of the earth, then burst the bars of death, and arose to God—that they, who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage, might obtain the victory over the grave and become partakers of His resurrection.
He exhausted the penalty of the law—that His redeemed might have access to His inexhaustible treasures of mercy, wisdom, faithfulness, truth and grace.
He was matchless in grace—that they might be matchless in gratitude.
Though a Son, He became a voluntary exile—that they, who had wickedly wandered afar off, might be brought near by His blood.
His visage was so marred more than any man—that His ransomed ones might be presented before God without spot, or blemish, or wrinkle, or any such thing.
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For a time He was forsaken of his Father—that they, whom He bought with His blood, might behold the light of God’s countenance forever.
He came and dwelt with them—that they might be forever with the Lord.
He was hung up naked before His insulting foes—that all who believe on His name, might wear a glorious wedding garment—a spotless righteousness.
Wonderful mystery! God was manifest in the flesh! Blessed is he who loves the incarnate mystery, and rests upon it. It is a mystery….
of love,
of truth,
of grace,
of wisdom,
of condescension, of power,
of salvation!
It is the great study of the inhabitants of heaven, and shall be while immortality endures!
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YOUR SINS, AND ERRORS, AND FOLLIES
William S. Plumer, “The Rock of Our Salvation” 1867
Jesus knows your sins, and errors, and follies—but He still loves you tenderly! Your weakness affords Him a welcome opportunity to show pity. There are heights, and depths, and lengths, and breadths of mercy in Christ—beyond all human necessities, miseries, and sins! He has helped myriads to glory—who were as weak, as unworthy, as desponding as any of us! His mercies are shoreless, fathomless, eternal, unchangeable!
Some humble child of God may say, “I have made but poor progress. I have sore troubles, “fears within, and
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fightings without.” Let such remember, that whatever makes us humble is good for us. Humility is the most lovely of graces. Without it, there is no real progress heavenward. It is a precious token of God’s regard to us, that He so deals with us, as to….
destroy our carnal security,
mortify our pride,
make us loathe and abhor ourselves,
and yet gives us a relish for spiritual enjoyments, and leads us to seek them above all other things.
He is a growing Christian, to whom Christ is more and more precious. As our estimate of Christ rises—our estimate of ourselves necessarily becomes lower. To believers, Christ is everything. He is all their salvation.
If we are guilty, He has atoned. If we are vile, He is worthy.
If we are nothing, He is all in all.
To be in Christ is heaven begun! To be with Christ and like Christ is heaven completed! He….
to whom Christ is precious,
to whom the word of God is sweeter than honey, to whom sin is odious,
to whom secret devotion is a delight,
who strives to honor his Master in his life,
who regards the world as a broken idol—
has passed from death unto life.
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THAT WHITE DEVIL!
Thomas Brooks, “The Privy Key of Heaven” 1665
While the disciples were healing diseases and casting out demons, the proud white devil was a-stirring in their own souls; as is evident by that gentle rebuke which
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our Savior gives them in Luke 10:20, “Don’t rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you.”
There is no pious duty which a Christian performs, but one white devil or another—one lust or another—will be still dogging and following of him to that duty. There is no public duty, there is no family duty, there is no private duty which a Christian performs—but either that white devil pride, or that white devil hypocrisy, or that white devil vainglory; or else some one or another white devil will follow the soul, near at heel to it.
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HE DIED FOR HIS PATIENTS!
William S. Plumer, “The Rock of Our Salvation” 1867
“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
Often in Scripture, sin is spoken of as a disease, a sickness, a hurt.
Christ, as the great Physician, has the only sovereign balm.
Sin is a dreadful disease! Yes, it is the very worst disease! It was the first, and so is the oldest malady. It infected man very soon after his creation. For six thousand years sin has committed its ravages and been gaining inveteracy. No other disease is so old.
Sin is also a universal disease! Other maladies have slain their thousands; but sin has slain its millions! The whole world is a graveyard, full of death and corruption. No person ever lived without sin. As soon as we begin to live, we begin to transgress.
Not only is every man sick, but our whole nature is diseased! Our understanding is darkened.
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Our memory is polluted.
The thoughts of our heart are only evil continually. Our throats are open graves.
Our tongues practice deceit.
The poison of vipers is on our lips. Our mouths are full
of cursing and bitterness.
Our feet are swift to shed blood.
Ruin and misery mark our ways, and the way of peace
we do not know.
Our eyes behold vanity.
Our hands are full of bribes and of blood.
Our heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately
wicked.
We love darkness rather than light.
We are utterly diseased with sin!
Sin makes men spiritually blind, and deaf, and dumb, and lame, and lethargic. Sin is a terrible compilation of diseases. It is a rottenness in the bones. It is a maddening fever, a wasting consumption, a paralysis of all the powers. Human nature is wholly corrupt!
Sin is a perpetual disease. It rages day and night; on the sea and on the land; in the house of mirth and in the house of God.
Sin is a hereditary disease. We are conceived in sin and brought forth in iniquity. Sin is also contagious. Sinners are enticers, seducers, corrupters.
Sin is also the most deceitful and flattering disease. One of its strong delusions is, “You shall not die!” See the throng of ungodly people marching to perdition—the slaves of Satan, the servants of corruption, the enemies of God! Their mirth would make one think them to be the happiest of people—and not, as they really are— condemned criminals, on their way to the eternal prison-house of inflexible justice! Sin has its delusive
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dreams. The worse a man is, the better he thinks himself to be.
Sin is the worst disease, because it is the parent of all other diseases. But for sin, we would never have seen a human being in pain, or sicken, or die. Suffering and agony have one parent—sin!
Other diseases are calamities—but sin is a wickedness! Sin is not a misfortune—sin is a crime! It is a wicked thing to be a sinner. Transgression brings guilt. God is angry with the wicked every day. The more sinful anyone is—the more is God displeased with him.
Sin is the most loathsome of all diseases. Pride is the worst kind of malady. No heart is so vile as a hard heart. No vileness compares with an evil heart of unbelief. No sight is so appalling as a sight of vile affections. Sin is horrible and abominable to God!
Sin is also the most dolorous disease. They multiply their sorrows—who hasten after transgression. The most bitter cries that ever were heard—were extorted by sin.
Other diseases do but kill the body—but sin kills soul and body in hell forever! Sin will rage more violently beyond the tomb than on earth. It will be followed by eternal regrets and reproaches, eternal weeping and wailing, eternal wrath and anguish!
Sin cannot be cured by any means of human devising. All reformations can never cure the heart. “I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess,” said the Pharisee—while spiritual wickedness reigned within. We may weep and lament over our sins—but that will neither dethrone sin nor atone for it! Our tears are nothing; our works are nothing; all our righteous deeds are as filthy rags; they are of no avail.
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The only remedy for sin is found only in Jesus! He is the Physician of souls. None but He can cure a sin-sick soul. He makes no charge for all His cures! He died for His patients! His blood cleanses from all sin. With His stripes we are healed. Christ’s death atones. By His sufferings we have remission of sin. In all cases where it is applied, the gospel remedy is sovereign and effectual. It availed for the dying thief, for the bloody Saul of Tarsus, for the cruel jailor, and for millions and millions who once esteemed themselves as vile, and as worthy of everlasting death!
And now, poor, sin-sick, dying soul—flee to this Physician, submit your case to Him, and seek for the healing remedy! If you stay away, you must die! “The wages of sin is death.”
“The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from
all sin!” 1 John 1:7
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WITHOUT A RAG ON HIS BACK, OR A PENNY IN HIS PURSE!
Thomas Brooks, “An Ark for All God’s Noahs” 1662 “The Lord is my portion, says my soul; therefore I will
hope in Him.” Lamentations 3:24
Lazarus having God for his portion, when he died he went to heaven without a rag on his back, or a penny in his purse! Whereas Dives, who did not have God for his portion when he died—went tumbling down to hell in all his riches, bravery, and glory. Oh! it is infinitely better to go to heaven a beggar—than to go to hell an emperor!
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THESE SAVING LESSONS
A Puritan Prayer
In Jesus….
my debt is paid,
my sins are forgiven, my soul is saved,
hell is vanquished, heaven is opened, eternity is made mine!
O Holy Spirit, deepen in me these saving lessons. Write them upon my heart, that my walk be….
sin-loathing, sin-fleeing, Christ-loving.
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YOUR GRACIOUS KEEPING
John MacDuff, “The Gates of Prayer”
Anew I commend myself to Your gracious keeping this day. Guide me by Your counsel—guard me from temptation—lead me in the everlasting way. May every unloving thought—every unworthy aim and aspiration—give place to what is pure and unselfish and kind. May every idol that would usurp Your place be overthrown. May no corrupt thought pollute my heart—no unworthy utterance defile my tongue—no unholy action stain my life. Preserve me from the world’s insinuating, seductive power—and from the treachery and deceitfulness of my own evil heart.
Whatever is my dominant sin— ease or pleasure;
pride or passion;
covetousness or ambition;
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enable me by the promised help of Your Spirit, to subdue it—nailing it to the Redeemer’s cross.
Defend me from every snare and danger which may beset my path. Be….
my Shield in prosperity; my Refuge in adversity; my Comforter in sorrow; my Light in darkness; my Hope in death;
my Defender and Vindicator in judgment; my Joy and Portion through all eternity!
FRESH SUPPLIES OF YOUR GRACE
John MacDuff, “The Gates of Prayer”
I know not what difficulties, or trials, or temptations, may be before me this day. Prepare me whether for
duty or for conflict. Knowing the treachery of the heart, I desire this morning, and each morning, to receive fresh supplies of Your grace.
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JUDGMENT!
William S. Plumer, “The Rock of Our Salvation” 1867
“For God will bring every work into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether it is good, or whether it is evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:14
God has appointed a day in the which He will judge the world. Respecting this day several things are noticeable.
All shall be judged.
Saints and sinners,
great and small,
living and dead,
the servant and his master,
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the prisoner at the bar and the judge who sat on his trial,
the assassin and the assassinated,
the seducer and his victim,
the invader and the invaded,
the hireling and his oppressor,
the king and his subjects,
the fool and the wise man,
the persecutor and the persecuted,
the apostate,
the hypocrite,
the child of God and the child of the devil,
shall all be there! No one shall be so mighty, and no one shall be so lowly—as to elude the eye or the sentence of Him who shall sit upon the throne of judgment! What a massive multitude will this be—when prophets, apostles, martyrs, confessors, saints of all ages; when sinners, liars, infidels, blasphemers, moralists, and murderers—shall all be there; when the sea and the dry land shall give up their dead; when death and hell shall deliver up the dead who are in them; when all who lived before the flood, all who have lived since the flood, and all who shall have lived to the end of time shall stand before God! This will be the first and the last assembly—in which are found every person whom God ever made.
To God, it is a certain and fixed day. He has appointed it. Acts 17:31. Nothing can hasten it; nothing can retard it. The purpose of God concerning it is fixed, unalterable.
To all creatures, it is an unknown day. “Of that day and hour knows no man; no, not the angels of heaven.”
The day of judgment will be THE great day. It will be the greatest day in the annals of the universe! It is the day for which all other days were made. This day is so well
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known to inspired men, that they call it the day, that day—as preeminent over all others.
It will be the LAST day. After it, time will be no more— time will cease to exist. Duration will no more be measured by seconds, minutes, days, months, years, centuries, cycles; but all will be boundless, shoreless, fathomless, unmeasured eternity!
It will be a day of astounding exposures. Villainy will be covered up no more. Every disguise will be taken away. There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed; neither hidden, that shall not be known.
It will be a day of intense excitement. There will be no listless spectators of those scenes. Every faculty of the intellect and of emotion will be aroused to the highest possible exercise. Men may sleep under sermons concerning the judgment, but they will not be dull when they go to judgment!
It will also be a day of final separation. The precious and the vile; the wheat and the tares; the sheep and the goats; saints and sinners—shall no longer mingle together. The separations of this day will be final. The righteous and the wicked shall part that day to meet no more.
It shall be a day of despair to all the unregenerate. Everywhere sinners will be crying to the rocks and the mountains: “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb!” Was ever despair more dreadful than this?
This will be a day full of surprise. Not only will it come unexpectedly, but its awards will fill both saints and sinners with astonishment. So Christ teaches at length in Matthew 25. The wicked will be amazed that they are lost. They will be especially surprised that God sets no value on their self-righteousness. The sons of God
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will receive more honor than they ever asked or thought of. The sons of Belial will receive more wrath than they ever feared. Christians will marvel why they are saved. Sinners will wonder why they are not saved. Many will be lost—contrary to the opinions formed of them by their neighbors. Many will be lost—contrary to the opinions they had formed of themselves!
“For God will bring every work into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether it is good, or whether it is evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:14. The judgment is coming!
The Judge stands at the door!
The time is short!
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HIS NAMES AND TITLES
William S. Plumer, “The Rock of Our Salvation” 1867
Jesus Christ is a wonderful, a glorious person. His names and titles are as important as they are significant. Every one of them is as ointment poured forth. His people sit under His shadow with great delight, and His fruit is sweet to their taste. To them He is altogether lovely.
He is their Advocate, the angel of the covenant, the author and finisher of faith. He is as the apple-tree among the trees of the forest; the alpha and the omega.
He is their the Beloved, the Shepherd and Bishop of souls, the bread of life, the righteous Branch, the bridegroom, the brightness of the Father’s glory, and the express image of His person. He is a bundle of myrrh.
To His saints He is and is owned to be Creator, captain, counselor, covenant, cornerstone, a covert from the tempest, and the chief among ten thousand.
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He is to them as the Dew, the door into the fold, a days- man, a day-star, a deliverer, a diadem, and the desire of all nations, ranks, and generations of pious men.
In their eyes He is the Elect, Emmanuel, the everlasting Father and eternal life.
He is a Fountain of living waters to thirsty souls, of joy to troubled souls, of life to dying souls. He is the foundation on which His people of all ages safely build their hopes of heaven. He is the father of eternity, the fir-tree under whose shadow the saints rejoice, the first and the last, the first fruits of the greatest harvest ever gathered, the first-born among many brethren and the first-begotten from the dead.
To His chosen He is as the most fine Gold, a guide, a governor, a glorious Lord, God, the true God, God over all blessed for ever.
He is the Head of the church, the health, the hope, the husband, the heritage, the habitation of His people. He is the horn of their salvation.
He rides upon the heavens by His name JAH. He is the Jehovah, the inheritance, Judge and King of His saints. He is their Light, their life, their Lord, their leader, their lawgiver, their atoning lamb, the lily of the valley, the lion of the tribe of Judah.
He is the Man Christ Jesus, the master, the mediator, the messenger of the covenant, the minister of the true sanctuary. He is the mighty God of Isaiah, the Michael of Daniel, the Melchisedek of David and of Paul, the bright and morning star of John, and the Messiah of all the prophets.
He is the Only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. He is at once the root and the offspring of David.
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He is the Peace, the prince, the priest, the prophet, the potentate, the purifier, the propitiation for our sins, the physician of souls, the plant of renown, the power of God unto salvation, the Passover of all saints. He is a polished shaft in the quiver of God.
He is the Rock, the refuge, the ruler, the ransom, the refiner, the Redeemer, the righteousness and the resurrection of all who walk in white. He is the rose of Sharon.
He is the Seed of the woman, the seed of Abraham, the seed of David, the stem of Jesse, the Son of God, the son of man, the shield, the strength, the surety, the Shiloh, the sacrifice, the sanctuary, the salvation, the sanctification, and the sun of righteousness to all believers.
He is the Truth, the treasure, the teacher, the temple, the tree of life, the great testator of His church.
He is the Way, the well of salvation, the Word of God, the wisdom of God, the faithful witness. He is THE WONDERFUL.
His person is one; His natures are two. He is both human and divine, finite and infinite, created and uncreated. He was before Abraham, though not born for ages after that patriarch slept with His fathers. He was dead, and behold He is alive for evermore!
On earth He had no where to lay His head; yet He disposes of all diadems. By Him kings rule and princes decree justice. He has the arm of a God, and the heart of a brother. To Him all tongues shall confess and all knees bow; yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. None loves like Him, none pities like Him, none saves like Him!
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It is not surprising that such a person lives and reigns in the hearts of His people. No marvel that the virgins love Him, and the saints praise Him, and the martyrs die for Him, and the confessors are not ashamed of Him, and the sorrowing sigh for Him, and the penitent lie at His cross and pour out their tears before Him, and the humble trust in Him, and the believing lay fast hold of Him and will not let Him go. His frown shakes the frame of universal nature, His smile gives life, His presence converts dungeons into palaces, His blood cleanses from all sin, His righteousness is the white robe of the redeemed.
If men would be safe, or wise, or holy, or happy, or useful, or strong, or victorious—let them look to JESUS! Let them look to none else, let them walk in Him, abide in Him, glory in Him, and count as loss all things besides. You may look at the law until the spirit of bondage overwhelms you with terrors and torments. You may go about to establish your own righteousness until you can boast, and sin, and perish like a Pharisee. You may weep until the fountain of your tears has gone dry, you may have all gifts, understand all mysteries, bestow all your goods to feed the poor, and yield your body to be burned; but all these things will not atone for sin, will do nothing toward regaining the lost favor of God, will not make you fit for the inheritance of the saints in light.
“None but Christ! None but Christ! None but Christ!” has been the cry of the faithful witnesses of all ages when truth has triumphed, when sinners were converted, when saints shouted for joy, when the word of God mightily grew and prevailed.
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IT WOULD MAKE HIM PULL HIS HAT OVER HIS EYES!
Thomas Brooks, “The Privy Key of Heaven” 1665
All Christians have their secret sins. Secret not only from other men—but from himself! It is but natural for every man to err, and then to be ignorant of his errors. Every man’s sins are beyond his understanding. There is not the best, the wisest, nor the holiest man in the world— who can give a full and entire list of his sins.
“Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.” Psalm 19:12
“Who can understand his errors?” This interrogation has the force of an affirmation: “Who can?” No man! No, not the most perfect and innocent man in the world!
O friends! who can reckon up…. the secret sinful imaginations, the secret sinful inclinations, the secret pride,
the secret blasphemies,
the secret hypocrisies,
the secret atheistical risings, the secret murmurings,
the secret repinings,
the secret discontents,
the secret insolencies,
the secret filthinesses,
the secret unbelievings,
which God might every day charge upon his soul?
Should the best and holiest man on earth have but his secret sins written on his forehead, it would not only put him to a crimson blush—but it would make him pull his hat over his eyes, or cover his face with a double scarf!
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“Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.” Psalm 19:12
THE CONSTANT CRY OF THE ROD
Thomas Brooks, “The Privy Key of Heaven” 1665
One lesson that you are to learn by the rod of affliction, is to get more weaned and more mortified affections to all worldly comforts, contentments, and enjoyments.
A man never comes to experience so much of…. the emptiness,
the nothingness,
the uselessness,
the vanity,
the mutability, the impotency, the insufficiency, the uncertainty
of all worldly comforts and enjoyments—as when he falls under the rod of affliction. The constant cry of the rod is, “Be dead to the profits, pleasures, honors, and applauses of the world! Be dead to everything below a living Jesus!”
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HE WAS STILL A-POINTING AT THE TOADS IN THEIR BOSOMS
Thomas Brooks, “The Privy Key of Heaven” 1665
How shall we find out that particular sin, for which God corrects us—for which He has brought the rod upon us?
Seriously observe what that sin is, which your soul would have spared above all, which your soul is most unwilling to leave, and bid an everlasting farewell to.
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Observe what your right-hand sin, your bosom sin, your constitutional sin, your complexion sin, is; for it is a hundred to one that God has sent the rod for the subduing of that very sin! Commonly by the rod, God points at the mortifying of that particular sin to which the heart stands most strongly inclined.
It may be that sin which you cannot endure should be touched, or reproved, or spoken against. Ah! how proud, how impatient, how passionate, how mad are many—when you come to touch their right-eye sin! When you come to touch them in the tender part, oh! then they fume, and swell, and rage, and carry on like people out of their wits; as you may see in the scribes and pharisees, who were so angry and mad with Christ that they sought His death; and all because He was still a-pointing at the toads in their bosoms; namely, pride, vainglory, hypocrisy, and self-righteousness. Oh! they could not endure that the sharp razor of reproof should come near their sorest part!
Certainly that Christian must be under a very bad distemper, who smites a righteous man with reproach—for smiting him with a reproof. Though gracious reproofs are a choice remedy, yet few stomachs can bear them. Who is angry with the physician for prescribing a bitter medicine? And yet, ah! how angry are many Christians when they fall under holy reproofs. Now, doubtless, the voice of the rod is this, “Soul! take heed of that sin which you cannot endure should be touched. Labor mightily with God to get that particular sin mortified—which you cannot endure should be reproved.” It is very probable that, for the subduing of that particular sin, the Lord has visited you with His fatherly rod.
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HE AWOKE WITH EVERLASTING
FLAMES ABOUT HIS EARS!
Thomas Brooks, “The Transcendent Excellency of a Believer’s Portion above All Earthly Portions”
Earthly riches commonly load the soul with a multitude of cares, fears, griefs, and vexations—which mightily disturb the soul, distract the soul; yes, often rack, torture, and torment the soul.
Earthly riches, for the most part, do a world of mischief and hurt to their owners. Oh the souls which earthly riches have pierced through and through with many sorrows! Oh the minds which earthly riches have blinded! Oh the hearts which earthly riches have hardened! Oh the consciences which earthly riches have benumbed! Oh the wills which earthly riches have perverted! Oh the affections which earthly riches have disordered! Oh the lives which earthly riches have corrupted!
Oh the time, the thoughts, the strength, the energy— which rich men spend and consume upon their riches— while their precious souls lie a-bleeding to death, and an eternity of misery is hastening upon them!
Dives was so taken up with his riches, pomp, state, and with his royal apparel, royal attendance, and royal fare—that he never minded heaven, nor ever dreaded hell—until he awoke with everlasting flames about his ears!
When the bodies of the wicked are rotting in their graves, and their souls are roaring in hell, none of their worldly greatness, pomp, state, glory, gallantry, riches, houses, or revenues, shall descend after them to administer one drop of comfort to them! Therefore never envy their outward prosperity or worldly glory.
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WHAT SHOULD MOVE GOD TO LOVE US?
Thomas Brooks, “The Transcendent Excellency of a Believer’s Portion above All Earthly Portions”
The free favor and love of God, the good will and pleasure of God—is the true ground and cause of God’s bestowing of Himself as a portion upon His people. There was no cause, nor loveliness, nor desirableness in them—which could move God to bestow Himself upon them.
God, for the glory of His own free grace and love, has bestowed Himself as a portion upon those who have deserved to have their portion among devils and damned spirits—in those torments which are endless, ceaseless, and remediless.
But what should move God to love us, who were so unworthy, so filthy, so empty, so beggarly? The question may be resolved in these words—He loves us because He loves us. The root of all divine love to us, lies only in the bosom of God.
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NOT THE DOLL NOR THE RATTLE
Thomas Brooks, “The Transcendent Excellency of a Believer’s Portion above All Earthly Portions”
“He who loves silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance, with increase: this also is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 5:10
Worldly portions can never satisfy the souls of men.
Absalom’s beauty could not satisfy him. Haman’s honor could not satisfy him.
Ahab’s kingdom could not satisfy him. Balaam’s gold could not satisfy him. Ahithophel’s wisdom could not satisfy him. The pharisees’ learning could not satisfy them.
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Dives’s riches could not satisfy him.
All the world cannot fill the soul; nor can all the creatures in the world fill up the soul with complete satisfaction. Nothing can be the satisfaction of the soul—but He who made it.
All earthly portions are dissatisfying portions. They do but vex and fret, gall and grieve, tear and torment—the souls of men. The world is a circle, and the heart of man is a triangle—and no triangle can fill a circle. Some good or other will be always lacking to that man who has only outward good to live upon. The soul can never be at rest, until it comes to rest and center in God. God Himself is the soul’s only home. No good but the chief Good, can suffice an immortal soul.
It is the breast—and not the doll nor the rattle—which will satisfy the hungry babe. And it is God, and not this or that creature—which will satisfy the soul of man.
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EVERY TWIG HAS A VOICE!
Thomas Brooks
“Listen to the rod, and He who appointed it.” Micah 6:9 Christians should hear the rod, and kiss the rod, and sit
mute and silent under God’s rod.
Christians should be mute and silent under the greatest afflictions, the saddest providences, and sharpest trials which they meet with in this world, that they may the better hear and understand the voice of God’s rod.
As the word has a voice, the Spirit a voice, and conscience a voice—so God’s rod has a voice.
God’s rods are not mutes. They are all vocal, they are all speaking as well as smiting. Every twig has a voice!
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‘Ah! soul,’ says one twig, ‘you say it smarts. Well! tell me, is it good to provoke a jealous God?’ Jeremiah 4:18.
‘Ah! soul,’ says another twig, ‘you say it is bitter, it reaches to your heart; but have not your own doings procured these things?’ Romans 6:20, 21.
‘Ah! soul,’ says another twig, ‘where is the profit, the pleasure, the sweet that you have found in wandering from God?’ Hosea 2:7.
‘Ah! soul,’ says another twig, ‘was it not best with you, when you were high in your communion with God, and when you were humble and close in your walking with God?’ Micah 6:8.
‘Ah! Christian,’ says another twig, ‘will you search your heart, and try your ways, and turn to the Lord your God?’ Lamentations 3:40.
‘Ah! soul,’ says another twig, ‘will you die to sin more than ever, and to the world more than ever, and to relations more than ever, and to yourself more than ever?’ Rom. 14:6-8; Gal. 6:18.
‘Ah! soul,’ says another twig, ‘will you live more to Christ than ever, and cleave closer to Christ than ever, and prize Christ more than ever, and venture further for Christ than ever?’
‘Ah! soul,’ says another twig, ‘will you love Christ with a more inflamed love, and hope in Christ with a more raised hope, and depend upon Christ with a greater confidence, and wait upon Christ with more invincible patience?’
Now, if the soul is not mute and silent under the rod, how is it possible that it should ever hear the voice of God’s rod, or that it should ever hearken to the voice of every twig of God’s rod?8
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THE FUNERAL
Thomas Brooks, “The Transcendent Excellency of a Believer’s Portion above All Earthly Portions”
A Christian knows that death shall be the funeral of all…. his sins,
his sorrows,
his afflictions,
his temptations, his vexations, his oppressions, his persecutions.
He knows that death shall be the resurrection of all…. his hopes,
his joys,
his delights,
his comforts,
his contentments.
He knows that death shall bring him to a more clear, full, perfect, and constant enjoyment of God! This makes him sweetly and triumphantly to sing it out, “O death! where is your sting? O grave! where is your victory?” 1 Corinthians 15:35-37
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THEN THE SCUM APPEARS!
“The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod” or, “The Silent Soul with Sovereign Antidotes” by Thomas Brooks, 1659, London
Few Christians see themselves and understand themselves rightfully. By trials, God discovers much of a man’s sinful self to his pious self.
When the fire is put under the pot—then the scum appears; so when God tries a poor soul, Oh! how does….
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the scum of pride,
the scum of murmuring, the scum of distrust,
the scum of impatience, the scum of worldliness, the scum of carnality,
the scum of foolishness, the scum of willfulness—
discover itself in the heart of the poor creature!
Trials are God’s looking-glass, in which His people see their own faults. Oh!….
that looseness,
that vileness,
that wretchedness,
that sink of filthiness, that gulf of wickedness,
which trials show to be in their hearts!
“I have chosen you in the furnace of affliction.” Isaiah
48:10
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WHAT A PITIFUL PERISHING PORTION IS THAT!
Thomas Brooks, “The Transcendent Excellency of a Believer’s Portion above All Earthly Portions”
“Men of the world, whose portion is in this life.” Psalm 17:14
Certainly, men….
whose hearts are worldly, whose minds are worldly, whose spirits are worldly, whose desires are worldly, whose hopes are worldly, whose main ends are worldly—
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have only the world for their portion; and what a pitiful perishing portion is that! Such men….
choose the world as their portion,
and delight in the world as their portion,
and trust to the world as their portion,
and in straits run to the world as their portion, and take contentment and satisfaction in the world as
their portion.
Doubtless that word was a thunderbolt to Dives— “Remember that during your life you received your good things, just as Lazarus received bad things; but now he is comforted here, while you are in agony!”
Wicked men have their best here, their worst is to come.
They have their comforts here, their torments are to come.
They have their joys here, their sorrows are to come. They have their heaven here, their hell is to come.
FATHER KNOWS BEST!
“The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod” or, “The Silent Soul with Sovereign Antidotes” by Thomas Brooks, 1659, London
“For they indeed, for a few days, punished us as seemed good to them; but he for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness.” Hebrews 12:10
What God, our Father wills, is best.
When He wills sickness, sickness in better than health.
When He wills weakness, weakness is better than strength.
When He wills want, want is better than wealth.
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When He wills reproach, reproach is better than honor. When He wills death, death is better than life.
As God is wisdom itself, and so knows that which is best; so He is goodness itself, and therefore cannot do anything but that which is best—therefore remain silent before the Lord. 8
WHEN HE SHOWS NO ANGER!
“The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod” or, “The Silent Soul with Sovereign Antidotes” by Thomas Brooks, 1659, London
“For whom the Lord loves, he chastens, And scourges every son whom he receives.” Hebrews 12:6
There cannot be a greater evidence of God’s hatred and wrath—than His refusing to correct men for their sinful courses and vanities!
Where God refuses to correct—there God resolves to destroy! There is no man so near God’s axe—so near the flames—so near hell—as he whom God will not so much as spend a rod upon!
“Those whom I love I reprove and chasten.” Rev. 3:19
God is most angry—when He shows no anger!
Who can seriously meditate upon this, and not be silent under God’s most smarting rod?
LORD, HERE I AM
Anne Dutton’s Letters on Spiritual Subjects
“Lord, here I am. I give myself up to You, to be Yours entirely. I give up everything that You have given me into Your all-wise, all-gracious, and all-powerful hands!
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O Lord, the difficulties I am encompassed with are too great for my wisdom and strength. But You know no difficulty. I cast them all upon You. I am oppressed, O Lord, undertake for me.
And, were everything else gone, give me grace to glorify You, and to count myself happy—fully, ineffably happy, in Your great Self as my earthly-portion and eternal all. I call nothing my own but You, my great God. Do with me, and all things that concern me, just as You desire.”
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THE RULING PASSION
William Sprague, “Lectures to Young People”
“We also all once lived in the lust of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” Ephesians 2:3
In the time of youth, there is a natural relish for worldly pleasure. Previous to conversion, no doubt the love of pleasure is the ruling passion. There is a natural buoyancy of spirits incident to that period, which usually finds its element, either in scenes of mirthful diversion, or sensual indulgence.
But whenever the heart comes under the influence of true piety, it, of course, yields to the dominion of a new set of principles; and he who was before supremely a lover of pleasure—now becomes supremely a lover of God.
“For those who are after the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.” Romans 8:5
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–229–

YOU HAVE BEEN LONG A-GATHERING RUST
“The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod” or, “The Silent Soul with Sovereign Antidotes” by Thomas Brooks, 1659, London
Oh! but my afflictions are greater than other men’s afflictions are! Oh! there is no affliction like my affliction! How can I not murmur?
It may be your sins are greater than other men’s sins. If you have sinned against….
more light, more love, more mercies, more promises,
than others—no wonder if your afflictions are greater than others! If this be your case, you have more cause to be mute than to murmur!
It may be that the Lord sees that it is very needful that your afflictions should be greater than others.
It may be your heart is harder than other men’s hearts, and prouder and stouter than other men’s hearts, it may be your heart is more impure than others, and more carnal than others, or else more selfish and more worldly than others, or else more deceitful and more hypocritical than others, or else more cold and careless than others, or more formal and lukewarm than others.
Now, if this is your case, certainly God sees it very necessary, for….
the breaking of your hard heart,
and the humbling of your proud heart,
and the cleansing of your foul heart,
and the spiritualizing of your carnal heart, etc.,
that your afflictions should be greater than others; and therefore do not murmur!
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Where the disease is strong, the remedy must be strong— else the cure will never be wrought! God is a wise physician, and He would never give strong medicine—if a weaker one could effect the cure!
The more rusty the NAIL is, the oftener we put it into the fire to purify it; and the more crooked it is, the more blows and the harder blows we give to straighten it.
You have been long a-gathering rust; and therefore, if God deal thus with you, you have no cause to complain.
“For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and punishes every son whom He receives.” Heb. 12:6
IF YOU ATTEMPT TO ENTHRONE THE CREATURE!
“The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod” or, “The Silent Soul with Sovereign Antidotes” by Thomas Brooks, 1659, London
O Christian! God has removed one of your sweetest mercies, comforts, or enjoyments! It may be you have over-loved them, and over-prized them, and over-much delighted yourself in them. It may be they have often had your heart—when they should have had but your hand. It may be that care, that concern, that confidence, that joy—which should have been expended upon more noble objects—has been expended upon them!
Your heart is Christ’s bed of spices—and it may be you have bedded your mercies with you—when Christ has been made to lie outside! You have had room for them— when you have had none for Him! They have had the best—when the worst have been counted good enough for Christ!
It is said of Reuben, that he went up to his father’s bed, Gen. 49:4. Ah! how often has one creature comfort, and sometimes another—been put in between Christ and
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your souls! How often have your dear enjoyments gone up to Christ’s bed! Your near and dear mercies have come into Christ’s bed of love—your hearts!
Now, if you take a husband, a child, a friend—into that room in your soul which only belongs to God—He will either embitter it, remove it, or be the death of it.
If once the love of a wife runs out more to a servant, than to her husband—the husband will remove that servant; though otherwise he was a servant worth gold.
Now, if God has stripped you of that very mercy with which you have often committed spiritual adultery and idolatry—have you any cause to murmur?
There are those who love their mercies into their graves—who hug their mercies to death—who kiss them until they kill them! Many a man has slain his mercies—by setting too great a value upon them! Many a man has sunk his ship of mercy—by overloading it. Over-loved mercies are seldom long-lived. The way to lose your mercies is to indulge them! The way to destroy them is to fix your minds and hearts upon them. You may write bitterness and death upon that mercy first—which has first taken away your heart from God.
Christian! Your heart is Christ’s royal throne, and in this throne Christ will be chief! He will endure no competitor! If you attempt to enthrone the creature—be it ever so near and dear unto you—Christ will dethrone it! He will destroy it! He will quickly lay them in a bed of dust—who shall aspire to His royal throne!
“Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will profane My sanctuary, the pride of your power, the desire of your eyes, and that which your soul pities; and your sons and your daughters whom you have left behind shall fall by the sword.” Ezekiel 24:21
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–232–

THE SLIPPERY AND INSIDIOUS NATURE OF VICE!
William Sprague, “Lectures to Young People” “The deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 3:13
How insidious is sin! From small and almost imperceptible beginnings, it gradually makes its way, until it reduces the whole man to its dominion, and brings into captivity every affection and faculty of the soul. Sin first throws out the bait of pleasure, and flatters its victim on to forbidden ground; then it makes him the sport of temptation; and does not give him over until he is fast bound in the chains of eternal death!
In its very nature, sin is deceitful; its very element is the region of false appearances, and lying promises, and fatal snares. When it addresses itself to the unwary youth, it puts on a smiling countenance, and makes fair pretensions, and takes care to conceal its hideous features, until, like a serpent, it has entwined him with its deadly coils, and rendered his escape impossible!
You may venture into the path of vice with that most foolish of all notions—that you shall retreat early enough to save your soul. Alas, I fear you have not yet learned the slippery and insidious nature of vice! As well might you think to take the deadly viper into your bosom, and render him harmless by flattering words; or as well might you drink down the fatal poison, and expect to stop its progress in your system, when the blood had curdled at your heart!
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–233–

YOU ARE THE ONE WHO HAS DONE THIS!
“The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod” or, “The Silent Soul with Sovereign Antidotes” by Thomas Brooks, 1659, London
“I was mute; I didn’t open my mouth, because You did it.” Psalm 39:9
In the words you may observe three things:

  1. The person speaking, and that is, David. David a king, David a saint, David ‘a man after God’s own heart,’ David a Christian. And here we are to look upon David, not as a king, but as a Christian, as a man whose heart was right with God.
  2. The action and carriage of David under the hand of God, in these words—‘I was silent; I would not open my mouth.’
  3. The reason of this humble and sweet carriage of his, in these words—‘for You are the one who has done this!’
    The proposition is this: That it is the great duty and concern of gracious souls to be mute and silent under the greatest afflictions, the saddest providences, and sharpest trials that they meet with in this world.
    David’s silence is an acknowledgment of God as the author of all the afflictions that come upon us. There is no sickness so little, but God has a finger in it; though it be but the aching of the little finger.
    David looks through all secondary causes to the first cause, and is silent. He sees a hand of God in all, and so sits mute and quiet. The sight of God in an affliction is of an irresistible efficacy to silence the heart, and to stop the mouth of a godly man.
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Men who don’t see God in an affliction, are easily cast into a feverish fit, they will quickly be in a flame; and when their passions are up, and their hearts on fire, they will begin to be saucy, and make no bones of telling God to His teeth, that they do well to be angry. Such as will not acknowledge God to be the author of all their afflictions, will be ready enough to fall in with that mad principle of the Manichees, who maintained the devil to be the author of all calamities; as if there could be any evil or affliction in the city, and the Lord have no hand in it, Amos 3:6.
If God’s hand be not seen in the affliction, the heart will do nothing but fret and rage under affliction.
Such as can see the ordering hand of God in all their afflictions, will, with David, lay their hands upon their mouths, when the rod of God is upon their backs!
They see that it was a Father that put those bitter cups in their hands; and love that laid those heavy crosses upon their shoulders; and grace that put those yokes around their necks—and this caused much quietness and calmness in their spirits.
When God’s people are under the rod, He makes by His Spirit and word, such sweet music in their souls, as allays all tumultuous motions, passions, and perturbations.
“I was mute, I didn’t open my mouth, Because You did
it.” Psalm 39:9
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–235–

ALL HONEY WOULD HARM US
“The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod” or, “The Silent Soul with Sovereign Antidotes” by Thomas Brooks, 1659, London
“Weeping may endure for a night—but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5
Their mourning shall last but until morning.
God will turn….
their winter’s night into a summer’s day, their sighing into singing,
their grief into gladness,
their mourning into music,
their bitter into sweet,
their wilderness into a paradise.
The life of a Christian is filled up with interchanges of sickness and health,
weakness and strength,
want and wealth,
disgrace and honor, crosses and comforts, miseries and mercies,
joys and sorrows, mirth and mourning.
All honey would harm us; all wormwood would undo us— a composition of both is the best way to keep our souls in a healthy constitution. It is best and most for the health of the soul—that the warm south wind of mercy, and the cold north wind of adversity—do both blow upon it. And though every wind which blows, shall blow good to the saints; yet certainly their sins die most, and their graces thrive best, when they are under the frigid, drying, nipping north wind of calamity, as well as under the warm, nourishing south wind of mercy and prosperity.
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THE ONLY LEGITIMATE PURPOSE OF AMUSEMENT
William Sprague, “Lectures to Young People”
If you will accomplish the greatest amount of good in your life—so far as is possible, the whole of your time should be occupied in doing good.
I would not be surprised, if the query should arise in some of your minds, whether this is indeed possible; and whether it is not necessary, from the very constitution of our nature, that part of our time should be devoted to amusement?
I answer, the constitution of our nature does require an occasional cessation from severe labor, and an occasional change of employment. But it does not require that it should be a change from what is useful— to what is useless or foolish! On the contrary, the whole purpose—the only legitimate purpose of amusement—is answered by a change from one useful employment to another—an employment which keeps you still doing good, though you are doing good in a different way.
If you govern your conduct by this principle, you will find yourselves blessed with a far higher degree of activity both of mind and body, and will be far better fitted for the discharge of your ordinary duties, than if you should yield yourselves up to absolute inactivity, or to what ordinarily passes with the world under the name of amusement—which is usually useless or foolish.
In this way, too, many of your precious moments which would otherwise be lost—or worse than lost—are improved to the benefit of your own soul, your fellow- men, and the glory of God.
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–237–

I AM NOT WHAT I ONCE WAS!
William Plumer, “Sinners Saved by Unmerited Kindness”
In his old age, when he could no longer see to read, John Newton heard someone recite this text, “By the grace of God I am what I am.” He remained silent a short time and then said: “I am not what I ought to be. Ah, how imperfect and deficient! I am not what I wish to be. I abhor that which is evil, and I would cleave to that which is good. I am not what I hope to be. Soon, soon I shall put off mortality, and with mortality all sin and imperfection.
Though I am not what I ought to be, what I wish to be, and what I hope to be; yet I can truly say, I am not what I once was—a slave to sin and Satan! I can heartily join with the apostle and acknowledge—By the grace of God I am what I am!”
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THERE IS NONE LIKE JESUS!
William S. Plumer, “Sinners Saved by Unmerited Kindness”
“What is your Beloved more than another beloved?”
Canticles 5:9
Our Beloved alone can do sinners good. His blood alone atones. He loved us unto death!
Jesus has at once an almighty arm—and a brother’s heart!
None is more exalted—yet none stoops so low! None is mightier—yet none is more tender!
He shall not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax.
He is meek and lowly, merciful and mild—at the same time He is the omnipotent Jehovah!
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He enlightens, purifies and comforts the heart! His word cannot be broken!
His power cannot be resisted!
The law of heavenly kindness is in His heart! Great is His faithfulness!
His royal titles are…. Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace!
To the pious, Jesus is the source of…. all hope,
all joy,
all peace,
all life,
all comfort.
Jesus is still as gentle, as kind, as tender as when He…. wept at the grave of Lazarus,
gave eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame,
or granted mercy to a wretch hanging by His side.
In Him dwell all excellencies! He is full of grace and truth!
He takes poor, vile, ignorant, guilty, helpless sinners— raises them to sonship with God, and makes them partakers of His holiness!
There is none like Him—no, not one! He is the chief among ten thousand! Wherever He is, there is heaven! There is none like Jesus!
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“Yes, He is altogether lovely! This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend!” Canticles 5:16
“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.” Revelation 5:12
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SHORT-LIVED, IMPERFECT AND UNSATISFYING
William Plumer, “Sinners Saved by Unmerited Kindness”
“In Your presence is fullness of joy. In Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” Psalms 16:11
Here on earth—our greatest joys are short-lived, imperfect and unsatisfying. Nothing continues in a perpetually happy state. All is unsettled, and easily marred. In heaven—all is as stable as eternity—all is as durable as the throne of God! All flows from the bounty of an infinite God and Savior.
Here on earth—sorrows beset us in troops. In heaven— all sorrows cease;
sickness, sadness and sighing flee away;
bereavement never desolates;
tears never flow;
tempests never rage;
temptations never vex;
poverty, war, and death never enter;
rust never corrupts;
thieves never steal;
weariness and vanity are forever unknown; sin never defiles;
peace reigns unbroken;
“the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at
rest.”
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–240–

WHAT DEVILS NEVER DID
William S. Plumer, “Sinners Saved by Unmerited Kindness”
“You are of your Father, the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father.” John 8:44
Such is the sad state of man by nature, that he bears a fearful resemblance to devils.
This truth is very abasing to human pride. Unconverted men are like devils in the sense in which a child is like a man, or a cub like a lion. All admit that devils have no holiness. In this unconverted men are precisely like them. They do not love God’s law, or nature, or government. They are alienated from Him, and opposed to all His attributes and authority. They do not glorify Him, do not delight in Him, do not find pleasure in thinking on His name. They choose sin and death— rather than holiness and life.
Laws, public opinion, and God’s providence now restrain many; but the heart of unrenewed man is as wicked as it ever was. It hates holiness.
In some things, the ungodly do what devils never did. They reject mercy and grace, kindly offered to them by the Lord. Devils never did that! You say—They never had the opportunity. True, but they never did it. Neither did they ever laugh at eternity, judgment and damnation. They have too fearful a sense of the wrath of God to be able to mock and jest at these most solemn things.
How dreadful is sin! It converts angels into devils, and men into fiends! There is no unfitness in the arrangement which God has made for having one great prison-house for all His incorrigible foes. The very place prepared for the devil and his angels—will be the final abode of impenitent men!
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“Then will he say also to them on the left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels.’” Matthew 25:41
How dreadful will hell be!8 MOHAMMED
William S. Plumer, “The Rock of Our Salvation” 1867
Although just now somewhat shorn of his power to persecute, Mohammed, the prophet of Mecca, still practices his sorceries, maddens the passions of men, holds the cup of carnal delight to the lips of his besotted worshipers, and endeavors to light up the horrors of the grave by pointing to a Paradise of sin!
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EVERY MAN HAS A HEAVEN AND A HELL
Hall
Every man has a heaven and a hell.
Earth is the ungodly man’s heaven; his hell is to come.
The godly have their hell upon earth, when they are vexed with temptations and afflictions by Satan and his accomplices; their heaven is above in endless happiness. If it be ill with me on earth, it is well that my torment is so short and easy; I cannot be so unreasonable as to expect two heavens!

“If we have the kingdom at last—it is no great matter what we suffer on the way to it.” (Manton)

“All the sufferings of the believer are not hell; but they are all the hell he shall suffer.” (Mason)
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–242–

FROM HIS MOTHER’S WOMB!
John Calvin
“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity. In sin did my mother conceive me.” Psalm 51:5
David does not confess himself guilty merely of some one or more sins—but that from his mother’s womb he has brought forth nothing but sin, and by nature is wholly corrupt, and, as it were, immersed in sin.
“The imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” Genesis 8:21
“We also all once lived in the lust of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” Ephesians 2:3
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A WHORE’S FOREHEAD
Thomas Brooks, “The Privy Key of Heaven” 1665
“You have a whore’s forehead, you refuse to be ashamed!” Jeremiah 3:3
“Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush.” Jeremiah 6:15
They had sinned away shame, instead of being ashamed of sin. Continuance in sin had quite banished all sense of sin and all shame for sin; so that they would not allow nature to draw her veil of blushing before their great abominations. How applicable these scriptures are to the present time, I will leave the prudent reader to judge.
But what does the prophet do, now that they were as bold in sin, and as shameless as so many harlots; now that they were grown up to that height of sin and
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wickedness; now that they were above all shame and blushing; now that they were grown so proud, so hardened, so obstinate, so rebellious, so bent on self— destruction—that no mercies could melt them or allure them, nor any threatenings or judgments could in any way terrify them or stop them? The prophet goes into a corner, he retires into the most secret places, and there he weeps bitterly; there he weeps as if he were resolved to drown himself in his own tears. “My soul shall weep in secret for your pride; and my eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears.” Jeremiah 13:17
In the times wherein we live, hell seems to be broken loose, and men turned into incarnate devils! Soul- damning wickednesses walk up and down the streets with a whore’s forehead, without the least check or restraint.
Ah, England, England! what pride, luxury, lasciviousness, licentiousness, wantonness, drunkenness, cruelties, injustice, oppressions, fornications, adulteries, falsehoods, hypocrisies, atheisms, horrid blasphemies, and hellish impieties— are now to be found rampant in the midst of you! Ah, England! England! how are the Scriptures rejected, God derided, and wickedness tolerated!
And what is the voice of all these crying abominations—but every Christian to his closet—every Christian to his closet—and there weep, with weeping Jeremiah, bitterly—for all these great abominations whereby God is dishonored openly. Oh weep in secret for their sins—who openly glory in their sins, which should be their greatest shame. Oh blush in secret for those who are past all blushing for their sins; for who knows, but that the whole land may fare the better for the sakes of a few, who are mourners in secret?
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–244–

ALL THE HELL THAT YOU SHALL EVER HAVE!
“The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod” or, “The Silent Soul with Sovereign Antidotes” by Thomas Brooks, 1659, London
Consider Christian, that all your…. trials and troubles,
calamities and miseries,
crosses and losses,
which you meet with in this world—is all the hell that you shall ever have!
Here and now you have your hell. Hereafter you shall have your heaven!
This is the worst of your condition; the best is yet to come!
Lazarus had his hell first, his heaven last; but Dives had his heaven first, and his hell at last.
You have all your pangs, and pains, and throes here— that ever you shall have! Your ease, and rest, and pleasure—is yet to come!
Here you have all your bitters; your sweets are yet to come!
Here you have your sorrows; your joys are yet to come!
Here you have all your winter nights; your summer days are yet to come!
Here you have your evil things; your good things are yet to come!
Death will put an end to all your sins—and to all your sufferings!
Death will be an inlet to those joys, delights, and comforts—which shall never have an end!
–245–

Who can seriously meditate upon this, and not be silent under God’s most smarting rod?
REDEEMING THE TIME
Thomas Brooks, “The Privy Key of Heaven” 1665
“Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:16
“Time is the only thing,” says Seneca, “that we can innocently be covetous of; and yet there is nothing of which many are more lavishly and profusely wasteful.” Chilo, one of the seven sages, being asked what was the hardest thing in the world to be done, answered, “To use and employ a man’s time well.”
“We trifle with that which is most precious, and throw away that which is our greatest interest to redeem.”
Many Christian professors, instead of redeeming of precious time—do trifle and fool away much of their precious time at the mirror, the comb, the lute, the violin, the pipe, or at vain sports, and foolish pastimes, or by idle jestings, immoderate sleeping, and superfluous feasting.
The best Christian is he who is the greatest monopolizer of time for private prayer. That man is doubtless upon the brink of ruin, whose worldly business eats up all thoughts of God, of Christ, of heaven, of eternity, of his soul, and of his soul’s concerns.
That man is lost, that man is cursed, who can find time for anything—but none to meet with God in his closet.
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–246–

GO AND KILL SUCH A MAN
Thomas Brooks, “The Privy Key of Heaven” 1665
“See now that I, even I, am he, There is no god with Me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal; There is none who can deliver out of My hand.” Deuteronomy 32:39
All diseases and sicknesses are under the command of God; they are all His sergeants, His servants, to execute His pleasure.
We must acknowledge God’s sovereign power and authority over the rod of affliction—to break it, or burn it, or take it off, or lay it on—as He pleases.
When God bids diseases….
‘Go and afflict such a man.’ They go! ‘Go and torment such a man.’ They go! ‘Go and kill such a man.’ They go!
When He calls them off—they come off at His call!
God is the author of all the diseases, maladies, and sicknesses that are in the world. He sets them on and calls them off at His own good will and pleasure. “Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord has not done it?” Amos 3:6
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A CLEANER WAY TO HELL
Thomas Brooks, “The Privy Key of Heaven” 1665 “I fast twice in the week. I give tithes of all
that I get.” Luke 18:12
Take heed of trusting in religious duties. These duties rested in, will as eternally undo a man—as the greatest and foulest enormities.
Open wickedness slays her thousands—but a secret resting upon duties slays her ten thousands!
–247–

Open profaneness is the broad dirty way which leads to hell—but trusting in religious duties is a sure way, though a cleaner way to hell.
Profane people and formal professors shall meet at last in the same hell.
You know, in Noah’s flood all that were not in the ark, though they climbed up the tallest trees, and the highest mountains and hills—yet were drowned! So let men climb up to this duty and that—yet, if they don’t get into Christ, they will be damned!
It is as natural to a man to rest in his duties, as it is for him to rest in his bed. It is not your duties, but your Christ, that must save you. Many shining professors burn themselves by resting in their duties and services.
Oh, rest not on anything but Jesus Christ! It is His free grace, it is His special mercy, it is His infinite love— which is your resting-place! It is the bosom of Christ, the favor of Christ, the satisfaction of Christ, and the pure, perfect, spotless, matchless, and glorious righteousness of Christ—which is your resting-place!
It was the saying of a precious saint, that “He was more afraid of his religious duties, than of his sins. For his duties often made him proud; his sins always made him humble.”
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A MAN TOO BIG FOR TEMpTATIONS TO CONQUER! Thomas Brooks, “The Hypocrite Detected”
Communion with God is….
the life of your graces,
the sweetener of all ordinances, providences and mercies,
the strengthener of your hearts and hands,
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the soul of your comforts, and the crown of your souls.
Communion with God makes the bitter things sweet; and massive things light.
Nothing like communion with God to fence you against temptations, to sweeten all afflictions, and to make you cleave to God in the face of all troubles and oppositions.
A man high in communion with God, is a man too big for temptations to conquer, or troubles to overcome. Souls that have no communion, or but little communion with God—they are usually as soon conquered as tempted, as soon vanquished as assaulted.
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SPLENDID SINS!
Thomas Brooks, “The Privy Key of Heaven” 1665
Prayers which are not directed to the glory of God…. never reach the ear of God,
nor delight the heart of God.
The end must be as noble as the means, or else a man may be undone after all his doings. A man’s most splendid actions will at last be found to be but splendid sins, if he has made himself, and not the glory of God, the end of those actions.
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THE COCKATRICE MUST BE CRUSHED
Thomas Brooks, “The Privy Key of Heaven” 1665 “When lust has conceived, it brings forth sin.” James 1:15
First, sin has its conception—which is its delight; and then sin has its birth—which is its action; and then sin has its growth—which is its custom;
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and then sin has its end—which is its damnation!
The very thought of sin, if but meditated on, will break forth into action; action into custom; custom into habit; and then both body and soul are irrecoverably lost to all eternity!
If the subtle Serpent can but wriggle in his tail by a sin- ful thought, he will soon get in his head by a worse action!
The cockatrice must be crushed in the egg, else it will soon
become a serpent!
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TWO INFAMOUS STRUMPETS
Thomas Brooks, “The Privy Key of Heaven” 1665 “You have set our iniquities before You, our secret sins in the
light of Your presence.” Psalms 90:8
“Can any hide himself in secret places so that I shall not see him? says the Lord. Don’t I fill heaven and earth?” Jeremiah 23:24
“The Lord’s eyes are everywhere, keeping watch on the evil and the good.” Proverbs 15:3
As we are never out of the reach of God’s hand, so we are never from under the view of God’s eye.
God is privy to our most secret sins. His eye is as much upon secret sins, as it is upon open sins. God has an eye upon our inmost evils. He sees all that is done in the dark.
There is no cloud, nor curtain, nor moment of darkness, which can stand between the eyes of God and the ways of men. “For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord. He examines all his paths.” Prov. 5:21. In this scripture Solomon mainly speaks of the ways of the adulterer, which usually are plotted with the most cunning secrecy; yet God sees all those ways. Look! as
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no boldness can exempt the adulterer from the justice of God, so no secrecy can hide him from the eye of God. Though men labor to hide their ways from others, and from themselves—yet it is but labor in vain to endeavor to hide them from God. Men who labor to hide God from themselves, can never hide themselves from God. Paphnutius turned Thais and Ephron, two infamous strumpets, from their harlotry, with only this argument—“That God sees all things in the dark, when the doors are closed, the windows shut, and the curtains drawn.”
Those sins which lie closest and are most secretly lurking in the heart, are as obvious and odious to God as those who are most fairly written upon a man’s forehead. God is all eye; so that He sees all—even the most secret turnings and windings of our hearts.
“Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened (that is, anatomized) to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” Hebrews 4:13
What is the curtain, or the darkest night, or the double lock, or the secret chamber—to Him who clearly observes all things in a perfect nakedness. God has an eye upon the most inward intentions of the heart, and the most subtle motions of the soul. Certainly there is not a creature, not a thought, not a thing, but lies open to the all-seeing eye of God. The Lord knows all our secret sinnings as exactly as our visible sinnings.
“If you cannot hide yourself from the sun, which is God’s minister of light; how impossible will it be to hide yourself from Him, whose eyes are ten thousand times brighter than the sun!” (Ambrose)
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“My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from Me, neither is their iniquity concealed from My eyes.” Jeremiah 16:17
This is the killing aggravation of all sin—that it is done before the face of God; that it is committed in the royal presence of the King of kings! The very consideration of God’s omnipresence should bravely arm us against sin! Shall not the strict, the pure, the jealous eye of an all- seeing God—keep you from sinning in the secret chamber, when all curtains are drawn, doors bolted, and everyone in the house sleeping—but you and your Delilah?
Oh! what dreadful atheism is bound up in that man’s heart, who is more afraid of the eye of his father, his pastor, his child—than he is of the eye and presence of the eternal God! Those who wallow in secret sins, act as if there were….
no God to behold them,
nor conscience to accuse them,
nor judgment-day to arraign them,
nor justice to condemn them, nor hell to torment them!
Though they may escape the eyes of men—yet they shall never escape the judgment of God.
A PRECIOUS COMMODITY IN HELL
Thomas Brooks, “Heaven on Earth” 1667
Most men spend the greatest part of their time on things that are that are of little or no value; as Domitian, the Roman emperor, who spent his time in catching of flies.
Make a speedy and a thorough improvement of all opportunities of grace and mercy. Do not trifle away your
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golden seasons. You have much work to do in a short time. You have….
a God to honor,
a race to run,
a crown to win,
a hell to escape,
a heaven to obtain,
weak graces to strengthen, strong corruptions to weaken, many temptations to withstand, afflictions to bear,
many mercies to improve,
and many services to perform, etc.
He who neglects a golden opportunity, does but create to himself a great deal of misery.
“Time,” says Bernard, “would be a precious commodity in hell, and the use of it most gainful; where for one day a man would give ten thousand worlds if he had them.”
When men trifle away their precious time, and golden opportunities, playing and toying with this vanity and that vanity; we may ask whether these men have—no Christ, no Scripture, no promises, no blessed experiences, no hopes of heavenly glories—to enjoy and take delight in?
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WHINING AND WHIMPERING?
Thomas Brooks, “Heaven on Earth” 1667 “My Beloved is mine, and I am His!” Song 2:16
“I know,” says the spouse, “that Jesus Christ is mine! I can with the greatest confidence and boldness affirm it. He is….
my Head,
my Husband, my Lord,
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my Redeemer, my Justifier, my Savior.
And I am His!
I am sure that I am His. I am His by purchase;
I am His by conquest;
I am His by election;
I am His by covenant; I am His by marriage; I am wholly His;
I am specially His;
I am universally His; I am eternally His!”
A well-grounded assurance will make a man…. patient in waiting,
courageous in doing,
cheerful in suffering.
It will make a heaven in a man’s heart—on this side heaven; and make him go singing into paradise, despite all of life’s calamities and miseries—as he realizes that he is….
everlastingly chosen and beloved of God,
that God’s heart is set upon him,
that his name is written in the book of life,
that there is laid up for him a crown of righteousness, and that nothing shall be able to separate him from
Him who is his light, his life, his crown, his all in all.
Ah, Christians! only remember what Christ has done for you, and what He is still a-doing for you in heaven, and what He will do for you to all eternity—and you will not be able to spend your days in whining and whimpering.
Christians, your mercies are greater than your miseries! One hour’s being in the bosom of Christ, will
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recompense you for all your trouble and travail on earth! Why, then, do you spend more time in sighing,
than in rejoicing?
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NOTHING BUT THE BLOOD OF CHRIST
William Plumer, “Sinners Saved by Unmerited Kindness”
Nothing but the blood of Christ can quench…. the fire of God’s wrath,
the fire of lust,
or the fiery darts of Satan!
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THE TRIFLES WHICH GOD GIVES
Thomas Brooks, “Heaven on Earth” 1667
The emperor Augustus, in his great feasts, gave trifles
to some—but gold to his favorites.
Just so—honors, riches and worldly pleasures are the
trifles which God gives to the worst of men.
God gives His gold—His special love and grace—only
to His people.
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PECCATUM EST DEICIDIUM
Thomas Brooks, “Heaven on Earth” 1667
“The deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 3:13
Sin….
has its original from a deceitful subtle serpent, is the ground of all the deceit in the world,
is the great deceiver of souls.
Sin….
debases the soul of man,
defiles and pollutes the soul of man,
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renders the soul most unlike to God, who is the best and greatest;
renders the soul most like to Satan, who is a very sea and sink of sin!
Sin robs the soul of…. the image of God, the holiness of God, the beauty of God, the glory of God,
the righteousness of God.
Sin is peccatum est Deicidium—a killing of God!
“But they shouted, saying—Crucify Him! Crucify
Him!” Luke 23:21
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SOME DELILAH!
Thomas Brooks
There is some Delilah—some darling, some beloved sin or other—that a Christian’s calling, condition, constitution, or temptations—leads him to play with, and to hug in his own bosom.
As in a plot of ground which lies untilled, among the great variety of weeds, there is usually some master- weed, that is more plenteous and more repulsive than all the rest.
So it is also in the souls of men—though there is a general mixture and medley of all evil and corrupt qualities; yet there is some one sin which is usually paramount, which is most powerful and prevalent—which sways and manifests itself more eminently and evidently than any other of them do.
So, though the root of sin and bitterness has spread itself over all, yet every man has his inclination to one
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kind of sin—rather than another. And this may be called a man’s besetting sin, his bosom sin, his darling sin.
Now, it is one of the hardest works in this world to subdue and bring under control, this bosom sin! Oh! the prayers, the tears, the sighs, the sobs, the groans, the gripes that it will cost a Christian before he subdues this darling sin!
A man may easily subdue and mortify such and such sins; but when it comes to the master-sin, to the bosom- sin, oh! what tugging and pulling is there! what striving and struggling is there to get off that sin, to get down that darling sin!
Now, if the Lord, by smiting you in some near and dear enjoyment, shall draw out your heart to fall upon the smiting of your master-sin; and shall so sanctify the affliction, as to make it issue in the mortification of your bosom corruption; what eminent cause will you have rather to bless Him, than to sit down and murmur against Him! And doubtless if you are dear to God— God will, by striking your dearest mercy, put you upon striking at your darling sin! Therefore do not murmur, even when God touches the apple of your eye; even when He has snatched the fairest and the sweetest flower out of your bosom!
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THE UNSEARCHABLE RICHES OF CHRIST!
Thomas Brooks
There is everything in Christ to encourage the greatest sinners to believe on Him, to rest and lean upon Him for all happiness and blessedness. Christ is….
the greatest good, the choicest good, the chief good,
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the most suitable good, the most necessary good, a pure good,
a real good,
a total good,
an eternal good,
a soul-satisfying good!
Sinners, are you poor? Christ has gold to enrich you. Are you naked? Christ has royal robes, and white
clothing to clothe you.
Are you blind? Christ has eye-salve to enlighten you.
Are you hungry? Christ will be manna to feed you.
Are you thirsty? He will be a well of living water to refresh you.
Are you wounded? He has a balm under his wings to heal you.
Are you sick? He is a physician to cure you.
Are you prisoners? He has laid down a ransom for you.
“The unsearchable riches of Christ!” Ephesians 3:8 8
THE MORTIFYING OF YOUR DARLING SINS
Thomas Brooks, “Heaven on Earth” 1667
Most professing Christians have not the right art of mortifying sin. All their attempts are to hide a lust, not to quench it.
A great motive to provoke you to the mortifying of your darling sins, is solemnly to consider, that the conquest and effectual mortifying of one bosom sin, will yield a Christian more glorious joy, comfort, and peace—than
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ever he has found in the gratifying and committing of all other sins.
The pleasure and sweetness which follows victory over sin, is a thousand times beyond that seeming sweetness which is in the gratifying of sin. The joy which attends the subduing of sin—is a noble joy, a pure joy, a special joy, an increasing joy, and a lasting joy. But that joy which attends the committing of sin—is an ignoble joy, a corrupt joy, a decreasing joy, a dying joy.
The truth is—if there were the least real joy in sin, there could be no hell-torments, where men shall most totally sin, and be most totally tormented with their sin.
Ah! Christians, be restless, until, in the spirit and power of Jesus, you have brought under control, that sin which sticks so close unto you!
Remember this, nothing below the conquest of bosom sins can make a jubilee in the heart. It is not a man’s whining and complaining over sin—but his mortifying of sin, which will make his life a paradise of pleasure!
If, notwithstanding all that has been said, you are still resolved to dally with sin, then you must resolve to live as a stranger to God; you must expect sad trials without, and sore troubles within; this shall be your just wages for playing with sin! If you like the wages, then dally with sin still; if otherwise, then sacrifice your Isaac!
Ah! souls, of all unpardoned sins, your bosom sins will be presented by God, conscience, and Satan at last—as the most filthy and ugly, as the most terrible and dreadful. Your bosom sins at last will appear to be those monsters, those fiends of hell—which have most provoked God against you, which have shut up Christ’s affections of love and compassion from you, which have
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armed conscience against you, which have barred the gates of glory against you, which have prepared the hottest place in hell for you, and which have given Satan the greatest advantage eternally to triumph over you!
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PAMBUS WEPT WHEN HE SAW A HARLOT
Thomas Brooks, “Heaven on Earth” 1667
What labor and pains worldlings take to obtain the vain things of this life—to obtain the poor things of this world, which are but shadows and dreams, and mere nothings!
Oh! how should this stir and provoke Christians to be up and doing, to labor as for life—to make sure of spiritual and eternal things! Is earth better than heaven? No! Oh then be ashamed, Christians, that worldlings are more studious and industrious to obtain pebbles, than you are to obtain pearls! They labor to obtain those things which at last will be their burden, their bane, their plague, their hell. You are to labor to obtain those things which will be your joy and crown in life, in death, and in the day of judgment.
Pambus wept when he saw a harlot dressed with much care and cost—partly to see one take so much pains to go to hell; and partly because he had not been so careful to please God, as she had been to please her sluttish lovers.
Ah, Christians! what great reason have you to sit down and weep bitterly—that worldlings take so much pains to make themselves miserable—and that you have taken no more pains to get more of Christ into your hearts!
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DEVOUR ME, DEVOUR ME!
Thomas Brooks, “Heaven on Earth” 1667
Assurance will sweeten the thoughts of death—and all the aches, pains, weaknesses, sicknesses, and diseases—which are the forerunners of death; yes, it will make a man look and long for death.
Nazianzen said the king of terrors, “Devour me, devour me! Death cures all diseases, the aching head, and the unbelieving heart!”
Assurance makes a man smile upon the king of terrors. The assured soul knows that death shall be the funeral of….
all his sins,
all his sorrows,
all his afflictions, all his temptations.
He knows that death shall be the resurrection of his joys. He knows that death is both an outlet and an inlet; an outlet to sin; and an inlet to the soul’s clear, full, and constant enjoyment of God! And this makes the assured soul to sing it sweetly out, “O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory? “I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far!” “Make haste, my beloved.” “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!”
Now death is more desirable than life. Now says the soul, “let him fear death, who is averse to go to Christ.”
The Persians had a certain day in the year, in which they used to kill all serpents and venomous creatures. The assured Christian knows that the day of death will be such a day to him—and that makes death lovely and desirable. He knows that sin was the midwife which brought death into the world; and that death shall be
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the grave to bury sin. And therefore death is not a terror—but a delight unto him. He fears it not as an enemy—but welcomes it as a friend.
ONE SIN LIVED IN AND INDULGED
Thomas Brooks, “Touchstone of Sincerity”
Satan knows that one sin lived in and indulged, will as certainly damn a man as many sins; as one disease, one ulcerous part, may as certainly kill a man as many diseases.
O sirs! remember that as one hole in a ship will sink it; and as one stab at the heart will kill a man; and as one glass of poison will poison a man—so one sin lived in and indulged will damn a man forever.
One wound strikes Goliath dead, as well as 23 did Caesar; one Delilah will do Samson as much mischief as all the Philistines; one vein’s bleeding will let out all the vitals; one bitter herb will spoil all the pottage.
One Achan was a trouble to all Israel; one Jonah was too heavy for a whole ship; so one sin lived in and indulged, is enough to make a man miserable forever.
One millstone will sink a man to the bottom of the sea as well as a hundred; so one sin lived in and indulged will sink a man to the bottom of hell as well as a hundred.
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GRACE, GRACE!
Thomas Brooks, “Heaven on Earth” 1667
“That no flesh should glory in His presence.” 1 Corinthians 1:29
God does not look for any goodness or merit in the creature to draw His love—but He will justify, pardon,
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and save for His name’s sake. All the motives which move God to show mercy are in His own bosom.
Salvation is only from free grace, and not from anything good in us, or done by us.
God is free to bestow His promises upon whomever He pleases. He often steps over the rich, and chooses the poor; He often steps over the learned, and chooses the gnorant; He often steps over the strong, and chooses the weak; He often steps over the sweet nature, and chooses the wicked nature; He often steps over the noble, and chooses the vile; etc., that no flesh may glory, and that all may shout out “Grace, grace!”
“By the grace of God I am what I am!” 1 Cor. 15:10
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WHEN BRUTUS WENT TO STAB JULIUS CAESAR
Thomas Brooks, “Heaven on Earth” 1667
“For I know my transgressions. My sin is constantly before me.” Psalm 51:3
Sin most afflicts a gracious soul.
The deer feeling within her the working of the serpent’s poison—runs through the thorns and thickets, and runs over the green and pleasant pastures—that she may drink of the fountain and be cured.
Just so, gracious souls, being sensible of the poison and venom of sin, run from the creatures, which are but as thorns and thickets; and run over their own duties and righteousness, which are but as pleasant pastures—to come to Christ the fountain of life—that they may drink of those waters of consolation, of those wells of salvation which are in Him, and cast up and cast out their spiritual poison, and be cured forever.
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Believers know that their sins do most pierce and grieve the Lord. The sins of God’s people, provoke Him most, and sadden Him most—and this makes them sigh and groan it out, “What a wretched man I am! Who will deliver me out of the body of this death?” Romans 7:24
If a snake were to sting your dearly beloved spouse to death—would you preserve it alive, warm it by the fire, and hug it in your bosom? Would you not rather stab it with a thousand wounds?
When Brutus went to stab Julius Caesar, he cried out, “What, you my son Brutus!” So may God well cry out, “What, you My son! What, will you stab Me with your sins! Is it not enough that others stab My honor? but will you, My son?”
You are wise, and know how to apply it.
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A HEAVEN UNTO ME!
Thomas Brooks, “Heaven on Earth” 1667
That knowledge which accompanies salvation, is a heart-affecting knowledge. It affects the heart with Christ, and all spiritual things. Oh, it does wonderfully endear Christ and the things of Christ to the soul.
“Strengthen me with raisins, Refresh me with apples; For I am faint with love!” Song 2:5 “Oh,” says the spouse, “my heart is taken with Christ, it is ravished with His love; my soul is burning, my soul is beating towards Christ. Oh, none but Christ, none but Christ! I cannot live in myself, I cannot live in my duties, I cannot live in external privileges, I cannot live in outward mercies; I can live only in Christ, who is….
my life, my love,
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my joy,
my crown, my all in all.
Oh, the more I come to know Him…. in His natures,
in His names,
in His offices,
in His discoveries, in His visits,
in His beauties,
the more I find my heart and affections to prize Christ, to run after Christ, to be affected with Christ, and to be wonderfully endeared to Christ!
Oh, God forbid that my heart should be affected or taken with anything in comparison with Christ.
The more I know Him, the more I love Him;
the more I know Him, the more I desire Him;
the more I know Him, the more my heart is knit unto
Him.
His beauty is captivating,
His love is ravishing,
His goodness is attracting,
His manifestations are enticing, His person is enamoring,
His lovely looks please me,
His pleasant voice delights me,
His precious Spirit comforts me,
His holy word rules me;
All these things make Christ to be a heaven unto me!
Oh, but all that mere notional knowledge, that speculative knowledge, which leaves a man short of salvation—never affects the heart; it never draws it, it never endears the heart to Christ, or to the precious things of Christ. Hence it is that such men, under all
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their notions, under all their light and knowledge, have….
no affection to Christ,
no delight in Christ,
no workings of heart after Christ.
“If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed.” 1 Cor. 16:22
A VULTURE, A WORM ETERNALLY GNAWING HIM!
Thomas Brooks, “Heaven on Earth” 1667
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory.” 2 Corinthians 3:18
Saving knowledge is a transforming knowledge, which metamorphoses the soul. Divine light beating on the heart, warms it, and betters it; it transforms and changes it, it moulds and fashions it into the very likeness of Christ!
The naturalists observe that the pearl, by the often beating of the sunbeams upon it, becomes radiant. Just so, the often beating and shining of the Sun of righteousness, with His divine beams, upon the saints, causes them to glisten and shine in….
holiness, righteousness, heavenly-mindedness, humbleness, etc.
Divine light casts a general beauty and glory upon the soul; it transforms a man more and more into the glorious image of Christ!
Look! as the child receives his features from his parents; just so, the beams of divine light and
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knowledge shining into the soul, stamp the living image of Christ upon the soul.
Mere notional knowledge may make a man excellent at praising the glorious and worthy acts and virtues of Christ; but that transforming knowledge which accompanies salvation, will work a man divinely to imitate the glorious acts and virtues of Christ.
When a beam of divine light shined from heaven upon Paul, ah, how did it change and metamorphose him! How did it alter and transform him! It made his rebellious soul, obedient: “Lord, what will You have me to do?” Acts 9:6. Divine light lays upon a man a happy necessity of obeying God. Divine light makes….
this lion—into a lamb,
this persecutor—into a preacher,
this destroyer of the saints—into a strengthener of the
saints,
this tormenter—into a comforter,
this monster—into an angel,
this notorious blasphemer—into a very great admirer
of God, and the actings of His free grace.
Just so, when a spark of this heavenly fire fell upon the heart of Mary Magdalene, oh what a change, what a transformation does it make in her! Now she loves much, and believes much, and repents much, and weeps much. Oh what a change did divine light make in Zacchaeus, and in the jailor!
Truly, if your light, your Biblical knowledge does not better you, if it does not change and transform you; if, under all your light and knowledge you remain as vile and base as ever; your light, your knowledge, your notions, your speculations, will undo you. That knowledge which is not a transforming knowledge—
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will torment a man at last more than all the devils in hell; it will be….
a sword to cut him,
a rod to lash him,
a serpent to bite him,
a scorpion to sting him,
and a vulture, a worm eternally gnawing him!
God at last will own no knowledge, but that which leaves the stamp of Christ, the print of Christ, the image of Christ upon the heart; but that which changes and transforms the soul, which makes a man a new man, another man than what he was before divine light shined upon him.
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SOUL-MOLLIFYING
Thomas Brooks, “Heaven on Earth” 1667
Saving faith is soul-softening, it is soul-mollifying. Peter believes soundly—and weeps bitterly. Mary Magdalene believes much—and weeps much.
Faith sets….
a wounded Christ, a bruised Christ,
a despised Christ, a pierced Christ,
a bleeding Christ—
before the soul, and this makes the soul sit down and weep bitterly: “They will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.” Zechariah 12:10.
Oh! the sight of those wounds which their sins have made—will wound their hearts through and through! It will make them lament over Christ with a bitter
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lamentation. Ah! nothing will kindly, sweetly, and effectually break the hardened heart of a sinner, but faith’s beholding the blood of Christ trickling down His sides!
That Christ should love man when he was most unlovely; that man’s extreme misery should but inflame Christ’s affections of love and mercy—this melts the believing soul.
That Christ should leave the eternal bosom of His Father; that He who was equal with God—should come in the form of a servant; that He who was clothed with glory—should be wrapped in rags; that He whom the heaven of heavens could not contain—should be cradled in a manger; that from His cradle to His cross— His whole life should be a life of sorrows and sufferings; that the Judge of all flesh should be condemned; that the Lord of life should be put to death; that He who was His Father’s joy—should in anguish of spirit cry out, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’ that that head which was crowned with honor—should be crowned with thorns; that those eyes which were as a flame of fire, which were clearer than the sun—should be closed up by the darkness of death; that those ears which were used to hear nothing but hallelujahs—should hear nothing but blasphemies; that that face which was white and ruddy—should be spit upon by the beastly Jews; that that tongue which spoke as never any man spoke, yes, as never any angel spoke—should be accused of blasphemy; that those hands which swayed both a golden scepter and an iron rod, and those feet which were as fine brass—should be nailed to the cross—and all this for man’s transgression, for man’s rebellion! Oh! the sight of these things, the believing of these things, makes a
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gracious soul to break and bleed, to sigh and groan, to mourn and lament!
True faith is a heart-breaking, a heart-melting faith.
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THE ABLEST MINISTER
J. C. Philpot, “Meditations on the Preceptive Part of the Word of God”
He is the ablest minister who is…. soundest in doctrine,
deepest in experience,
most godly in practice.
He must have also a gracious experience in his own soul of the truths which he preaches, in their savour, sweetness, and power. 8
LOATHSOME THOUGHTS
Thomas Brooks, “Heaven on Earth” 1667
“There shall you remember your ways, and all your
doings, in which you have polluted yourselves; and you shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that you have committed.” Ezekiel 20:43
True repentance includes a loathing and abhorring of sin, and of ourselves for sin.
The sincere penitent loathes his sins, and be loathes himself also because of his sins. He cries out, “Oh these wanton eyes! Oh these wicked hands! Oh this deceitful tongue! Oh this crooked will! Oh this corrupt heart! Oh how do I loathe my sins, how do I loathe myself! My sins are a burden to me, and they make me a burden to myself! My sins are an abhorrent to me, and they make me abhor myself in dust and ashes!”
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A true penitent has not only low thoughts of himself, but loathsome thoughts of himself. None can think or speak so vilely of a Christian—as he thinks and speaks so vilely of himself. “Behold, I am vile!” Job 40:4
“They shall loathe themselves in their own sight for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations.” Ezekiel 6:9
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THE SWEETEST JOYS ARE FROM THE SOUREST TEARS
Thomas Brooks, “Heaven on Earth” 1667
Sin is a turning the back upon God—and the face towards hell. Repentance is a turning the back upon sin—and a setting the face towards God!
True repentance is a sorrowing for sin because it is offensive to God. Peter was sorry for his sin; Judas was sorry his for punishment. Peter grieves because Christ was grieved; Judas grieved because he would be damned.
As Noah’s flood drowned his nearest and his dearest friends, so the flood of penitent tears drowns men’s nearest and their dearest lusts! Be they Isaacs or Benjamins, be they right eyes or right hands, true repentance puts all to the sword; it spares neither father nor mother, neither Agag nor Achan.
Repentance is a turning from all sin, without any reservation or exception. One stab at the heart kills, one hole in the ship sinks her, one act of treason makes a traitor. Just so, one sin not forsaken, not turned from, will undo a soul forever.
A true penitent looks upon every sin as poison, as the vomit of a dog, as the mire of the street, as the menstruous cloth, which of all things in the law was
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most unclean, defiling, and polluting. He looks thus upon every sin, turns his heart against every sin, and makes him not only to refrain from sin—but to forsake it, and to loathe it more than hell.
True repentance breaks the heart with sighs, sobs, and groans—that….
a loving Father is offended,
a blessed Savior crucified,
and the sweet Comforter grieved.
Penitent Mary Magdalene weeps much, as well as loves much. Tears, instead of jewels, were the ornaments of penitent David’s bed. Surely that sweet singer never sang more melodiously, than when his heart was broken most penitentially.
The sweetest joys are from the sourest tears; penitent tears are the breeders of spiritual joy. The bee gathers the best honey off the bitterest herbs. Christ made the best wine of water; the strongest, the purest, the truest, the most permanent, and the most excellent joy is made of the waters of repentance. “Those who sow in tears will reap in joy.” Psalm 126:58
KISSES
Thomas Brooks, “Heaven on Earth” 1667
“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth; for your love is better than wine.” Song 1:2
Not with a kiss—but with the kisses of His mouth. A soul once kissed by Christ, can never have enough of the kisses of Christ; His lips drop myrrh and mercy. No kisses, compared to the kisses of Christ. The more any soul loves Christ, the more serious, studious, and industrious will that soul be, to have the love of Christ discovered, confirmed, witnessed, and sealed to it.
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A soul once kissed by Christ, would gladly have…. her drop turned into an ocean;
her spark into a flame;
her penny into a pound;
her mite into a million.
A soul who truly loves Christ…. can never see enough,
nor ever taste enough,
nor ever feel enough,
nor ever enjoy enough
of the love of Christ. When once they have found His love to be better than wine, then nothing will satisfy them but the kisses of His mouth.
May you “know Christ’s love which surpasses knowledge.” Eph. 3:19 8
TO SIN AND NOT TO BLUSH!
Thomas Brooks, “Heaven on Earth” 1667 Only those things which are sinful, are shameful.
“That you may remember, and be confounded, and never open your mouth any more, because of your shame, when I have forgiven you all that you have done, says the Lord God.” Ezekiel 16:63
When the penitent soul sees his sins pardoned, the anger of God pacified, and divine justice satisfied, then he sits down ashamed.
Sin and shame are inseparable companions.
A Christian cannot have the seeming sweet of sin, but he shall have the real shame which accompanies sin. These two God has joined together, and all the world cannot put them asunder.
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It was the vile and impenitent Caligula who said of himself, “that he loved nothing better in himself, than that he could not be ashamed.”
A soul who has sinned away all shame, is a soul ripe for hell—and given up to Satan! A greater plague cannot befall a man in this life, than to sin and not to blush!
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BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS
Thomas Brooks, “Heaven on Earth” 1667
God is….
glorious in His power, wonderful in His counsel, infinite in His mercy, precious in His goodness, rich in His grace,
unsearchable in His understanding.
“I will not fail you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good
courage.” Joshua 1:5-6
When God puts His people upon weighty services, He assures them of His presence, and of His assistance. He assures them that He will stand by them, and strengthen them, and support them, and uphold them. He assures them that….
His power should be theirs to defend them, His wisdom should be theirs to direct them, His goodness should be theirs to supply them, His grace should be theirs to heal them,
His mercy should be theirs to pardon them, His joy should be theirs to strengthen them, His promise should be theirs to cheer them, His Spirit should be theirs to lead them.
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THE HYPOCRITE’S HOPE
Thomas Brooks, “Heaven on Earth” 1667
“For what is the hope of the godless, when he is cut off,
When God takes away his life?” Job 27:8
“When a wicked man dies, hope perishes.” Proverbs 11:7
That assurance is but presumption, which allows men…. to play with sin,
to be bold with sin,
to make light of sin,
to walk on in ways of sin.
Such ‘assurance’ will never bring a man to heaven; it will never keep him from dropping into hell; yes, it will double his damnation, and make him the most miserable among all damned, wretched, forlorn spirits.
“So are the paths of all who forget God; and the hope of the godless man shall perish.” Job 8:13
Ah, Lord! from such false hopes deliver my soul; and give me more and more of that divine hope which makes sin to be more hateful than hell.
A WHOLE CHRIST WITH A WHOLE HEART
Thomas Brooks, “Touchstone of Sincerity”
The terms upon which Christ is offered in the gospel are these: that we shall accept of a whole Christ with a whole heart. Now, mark—a whole Christ includes all His offices; and a whole heart includes all our faculties.
Christ as mediator is prophet, priest, and king. Christ as a prophet instructs us.
Christ as a priest redeems us and intercedes for us. Christ as a king sanctifies and rules us.
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to save him from wrath, from the curse, from hell, from everlasting burning—but he is never sincerely willing to embrace Christ as a prophet to teach and instruct him, and as a king to rule and reign over him. Many hypocrites are willing to embrace a saving Christ—but they are not willing to embrace a ruling Christ, a commanding Christ. “But bring those enemies of mine who didn’t want me to reign over them here, and kill them before me.” Luke 19:27
Hypocrites love to share with Christ in His happiness— but they don’t love to share with Christ in His holiness. They are willing to be redeemed by Christ—but they are not cordially willing to submit to the laws and government of Christ. They are willing to be saved by His blood—but they are not willing to submit to His scepter.
But a true Christian receives Christ in all His offices. He accepts Him, not only as a saving Jesus—but also as a Lord Jesus. He embraces Him, not only as a saving Christ—but also as a ruling Christ. He received Christ as a king upon His throne, as well as an atoning sacrifice upon His cross.
A hypocrite is all for a saving Christ, for a sin- pardoning Christ, for a soul-saving Christ—but has no regard for a ruling Christ, a reigning Christ, a commanding Christ, a sanctifying Christ; and this at last will prove his damning sin.
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FAITH, IN ITS PRACTICAL EXERCISE
John Newton’s Letters
That faith which justifies: purifies the heart, works by love, and overcomes the world.
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That faith which justifies the soul, does likewise receive grace from Jesus, whereby the heart is purified, and the life regulated as befits the Gospel of Christ.
Faith is of great use and importance in the daily concerns of life. Faith gives evidence and reality to things not seen, and realizes the great truths of the Gospel—so that they become abiding and living principles of support and direction while we are passing through this wilderness.
It is a believer’s privilege to walk with God in the exercise of faith, and, by the power of His Spirit, to mortify the whole body of sin, to gain a growing victory over the world and self, and to make daily advances in conformity to the mind of Christ.
Faith, in its practical exercise, has for its object the whole word of God; and forms its estimate of all things with which the soul is at present concerned, according to the standard of Scripture.
When our Lord was upon earth, and conversed with His disciples, their eyes and hearts were fixed upon Him. In danger He was their defender; their guide when in perplexity; and to Him they looked for the solution of all their doubts, and the supply of all their needs. He is now withdrawn from our eyes; but faith sets Him still before us, for the same purposes, and, with the same effects, as if we actually saw Him!
His spiritual presence, apprehended by faith, is a restraint from evil, an encouragement to every service, and affords a present refuge and help in every time of trouble.
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A MEASURE OF TRIALS IS NECESSARY
John Newton’s Letters
A measure of trials is necessary for the exercise and manifestation of your graces; to give you a more convincing proof of the truth and sweetness of the promises made to a time of affliction; to mortify the body of sin; and to wean you more effectually from the world.
Faith upholds a Christian under all trials, by assuring him that every painful dispensation is under the direction of his Lord; that chastisements are a token of His love; that the season, measure, and continuance of his sufferings, are appointed by Infinite Wisdom, and designed to work for his everlasting good; and that grace and strength shall be afforded him, according to his need.
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VAIN AND SENSUAL AMUSEMENTS
John Newton’s Letters
“Be not conformed to this world.” Romans 12:2
Conformity to the world is the bane of many professors in this day. They have found a way, as they think, to serve both God and Mammon. They may attain to a scheme of orthodox notions—but they will remain destitute of the life, power, and comfort of piety—so long as they cleave to those things which are incompatible with it.
We must not conform to the spirit of the world. As believers, we are strangers and pilgrims upon earth. Heaven is our country, and the Lord is our King. We are to be known and noticed as His subjects; and therefore it is His desire, that we do not adopt the sinful customs of the land in which we sojourn.
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We must not conform to the maxims of the world. The world in various instances calls evil good, and good
evil. But we are to judge of things by the unerring Word of God—uninfluenced by the determination of the great, or the many.
We must not conform to the world in their amusements and diversions. “What fellowship has light with darkness, or what concord has Christ with Belial?” What does a believer have to do into those places and companies, where everything tends to promote a spirit of dissipation; where the fear of God has no place; where things are purposely disposed to inflame or indulge corrupt and sinful appetites and passions, and to banish all serious thoughts of God and ourselves?
If it is our duty to redeem time, to walk with God, to do all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to follow the example which He set us when he was upon earth. It must of course be our duty to avoid a conformity with the world in those vain and sensual amusements, which stand in as direct contradiction to a spiritual frame of mind. So far as a Christian is infected by a conformity to the spirit, maxims, and sinful customs of the world, true piety will be hindered.
May the Lord enable you and I to lay this subject to heart, and that we be preserved from that growing evil—a sinful conformity to the world!
DIVINE GUIDANCE John Newton’s Letters
In general, God guides and directs His people, by affording them, in answer to prayer, the light of His Holy Spirit, who enables them to understand and to love the Scriptures.
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The word of God furnishes us with just principles, and right apprehensions, to regulate our judgments and affections, and thereby to influence and direct our conduct. Those who study the Scriptures, in a humble dependence upon Divine teaching, are taught to make a true estimate of everything around them, and are gradually formed into a spirit of submission to the will of God. They thereby discover the nature and duties of their several situations and relations in life, and the snares and temptations to which they are exposed.
The word of God dwelling richly in them, is a preservative from error, a light to their feet, and a spring of strength and consolation. By treasuring up the doctrines, precepts, promises, examples, and exhortations of Scripture, in their minds, and daily comparing themselves with the rule by which they walk, they grow into a habitual frame of spiritual wisdom, and acquire a gracious taste, which enables them to judge of right and wrong with a degree of readiness and certainty, as a musical ear judges of sounds. And they are seldom mistaken, because they are influenced by the love of Christ, which rules in their hearts, and a regard to the glory of God, which is the great object they have in view.
The Lord, whom they serve, does not disappoint their expectations. He leads them by a right way, preserves them from a thousand snares, and satisfies them that He is and will be their guide even unto death.
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WE ARE NO BETTER THAN THEY
John Newton’s Letters
Jesus, full of compassion and tenderness, wept over His enemies, and prayed for His actual murderers! A feeling of this kind seems essential to that new nature which
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characterizes the children of God; and where it is not in habitual exercise, it is a sufficient evidence that the soul, if truly alive to God at all—is at least in a lean and distempered state.
When we look at the ungodly, we are not to hate them— but to pity them, mourn over them, and pray for them. Nor have we any right to boast over them; for, by nature, and of ourselves, we are no better than they.
“For who makes you different? And what do you have that you didn’t receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” 1 Cor. 4:7
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PROUD, DOGMATIC, AND SELF-IMPORTANT
Newton’s letter on “Blemishes in Christian character”
“Finally, be all like-minded, compassionate, loving as brothers, tenderhearted, courteous.” 1 Peter 3:8
‘Austerus’ is a solid and exemplary Christian. He has a deep, extensive, and experimental knowledge of Divine things. Inflexibly and invariably true to his principles, he stems with a noble singularity the torrent of the world, and can neither be bribed nor intimidated from the path of duty. He is a rough diamond of great intrinsic value, and would sparkle with a distinguished luster—if he were more polished. But, though the word of God is his daily study, and he prizes the precepts, as well as the promises, more than thousands of gold and silver, there is one precept he seems to have overlooked—“be compassionate and tenderhearted.”
Instead of that gentleness and humility which will always be expected from a professed follower of the meek and lowly Jesus, there is a harshness in his manner, which makes him more admired than beloved; and those who truly love him, often feel more
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constraint than pleasure when in his company. His intimate friends are satisfied that he is no stranger to true humility of heart; but these are few. By others he is thought proud, dogmatic, and self-important; nor can this prejudice against him be easily removed, until he can lay aside that cynical air which he has unhappily contracted.
How lamentable are such blemishes in such a person!
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PAULINUS NOLANUS
“The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod” or, “The Silent Soul with Sovereign Antidotes” by Thomas Brooks, 1659, London
Paulinus Nolanus, when his city was taken from him, prayed thus, “Lord, let me not be troubled at the loss of my gold, silver, honor—for You are all, and much more than all these unto me!”
Christian! In the absence of all your sweetest enjoyments, Christ will be all in all unto you!
“My jewels are my husband,” said one.
“My ornaments are my two sons,” said another. “My treasures are my friends,” said yet another.
And so may a Christian, under his greatest losses say— “Christ is my richest jewels, my chief treasures, my best ornaments, my sweetest delights! What all these things are to a carnal heart, to a worldly heart—that and more—is Christ to me!”
“Christ is all!” Colossians 3:11
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WHEN MUNSTER LAY SICK
“The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod” or, “The Silent Soul with Sovereign Antidotes” by Thomas Brooks, 1659, London
“Those whom I love I reprove and chasten.” Revelation 3:19 “For whom the Lord loves, He chastens, And scourges
every son whom He receives.” Hebrews 12:6
All the afflictions which come upon the saints, are the
fruits of divine love.
When Munster lay sick, and his friends asked him how he did, and how he felt; he pointed to his sores and ulcers, whereof he was full, and said, “These are God’s gems and jewels with which He decks his best friends, and to me they are more precious than all the gold and silver in the world!”
“It is good for me that I have been afflicted.” Psalm 119:71
God afflicts you, O Christian, in love! Therefore Luther cries out, “Strike, Lord, strike, Lord! and spare not!”
THE ASTONISHING ANOMALY
Jared Waterbury, “Piety, the Only Foundation of True and Substantial Joy” May, 1838
It is a subject for serious inquiry—how far the pursuit of riches is consistent with true and genuine piety?
Why is it that some Christian professors are found in such constant contact with the world? Why are closet duties abridged or neglected, while time is freely, and even lavishly, given to business and to pleasure? Ah! the question has been sadly answered, in the almost unbounded thirst for gain, which, like a sweeping
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epidemic, has found its way into the homes and the hearts of professors!
The astonishing anomaly has been witnessed, of men professing to live above the world—yet wholly bent on acquiring its possessions! Many who profess to renounce the world’s pomps and its vanities, have been seen foremost in plans to secure them, and even ostentatious in the exhibition of them! They live in a greedy and all-absorbing pursuit of the world, while they dwell in fine houses, ride in splendid vehicles, and feast on rich dainties.
If a Christian may embark in the pursuit of riches with as unbridled an appetite as the professed votaries of the world, and vie with them in the manifestation of external grandeur; it must follow that Jesus did not mean what He said, or that He was mistaken, when He declared, “You cannot serve God and mammon.” Luke 16:13.
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AN HONEST, HEART-FELT PREFERENCE OF BETTER
THINGS
Jared Waterbury, “Piety, the Only Foundation of True and Substantial Joy” May, 1838
Piety powerfully dissuades its possessors to forsake the indulgence of pleasures, and the gaieties of the world. This relinquishment is not a forced, but a voluntary act. It is not so much the coercion of stern duty, as the sweet constraint of an honest, heart-felt preference of better things. In comparison to true piety, the world’s groveling pleasures are empty and unsatisfying.
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YOU TAKE THE GOODS
Thomas Brooks, “Heaven on Earth” 1667
“As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul after you, God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” Psalm 42:1-2
The rattle without the breast, will not satisfy the child; the house without the husband, will not satisfy the wife; the cabinet without the jewel, will not satisfy the maiden; nor will the world without Christ, satisfy the soul.
The hungry soul will not be put off with any bread but with the bread of life; the thirsty soul will not be put off with any water but with the well-springs of life.
As the king of Sodom said once, “Give me the people, and take the goods to yourself,” Gen 14:21. Just so, says the hungry soul, “You take the goods—take your honors, and riches, and the favor of creatures; you take the grain, the oil, and the wine; give me Christ, give me the light of His countenance, give me the joy of His Spirit, etc.”
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PREACH WITH YOUR FEET!
Charles Spurgeon
It is well to preach as I do, with my lips. But you can all preach with your feet and by your lives—and that is the most effective preaching! The preaching of holy lives is living preaching! The most effective ministry from a pulpit is that which is supported by godliness from the pew! God help you to do this!
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I HAD TO PUNISH HIM
Arthur Pink
“But when we are judged, we are punished by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.” 1 Corinthians 11:32
“Is Ephraim My dear son? is he a darling child? for as
often as I speak against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore My heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him.” Jeremiah 31:20
O the bitterness of provoking Him to punish us, our best Friend; that One who poured out His life’s blood for us; who endured the sharpest inflictions of justice to screen us; Him whose heart is love, and on the sense of whose love all our happiness depends! Yet, we forfeit all, and compel Him to restrain His lovely smile, put on instead a frown, take the rod in His hand, and chasten us for our folly! Then we cannot escape: smite He will. How long and how much, we must leave to Him. We are completely in His hands; His power over us is supreme, entire; resistance is vain, and will certainly increase the affliction. There is nothing to be done, but humbly to lie down before Him, and submit to His will. He may punish severely; often He does. He may punish long; and there is no promise that it shall not be so. The suffering child has but one resource, but one door of hope; it is love, the exquisite, surpassing love of Him who is chastening. On that he throws himself. Yes, there is none other. He who inflicts the pain can withdraw His hand; He who has wounded, can bind up; He who has laid us in the dust by His frown, can raise up by His smile. Yes, He can forgive, He can restore; He can heal.
This, this is a mercy, an infinite mercy, that we are in the hands of One so tender, so loving, who does not
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like to put us to pain, who does it unwillingly, and longs to restore us to favor.
“Is Ephraim My dear son? is he a darling child? for as often as I speak against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore My heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him.” Jeremiah 31:20
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ON JUST SUCH HUSKS DO THE RELIGIOUS SWINE FEED
Arthur W. Pink
“Take heed what you hear.” Mark 4:24
The word hear obviously includes what is read, for that which is written or printed is addressed to the ears of our intellect. Few people today realize the urgent need for ‘taking heed’ unto what they read. Just as the natural food which is eaten either helps or hinders the body; so the mental food we receive either benefits or injures the mind, and that, in turn, affects the heart. Now just as it is harmful to listen to the rubbish and poison which is being served from the great majority of present-day pulpits, so it is exceedingly injurious to the soul to read most of what is now being published. Take heed what you hear—and read!
“Those who are after the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh” Romans 8:5, and are charmed with oratorical eloquence, catchy sayings, witty allusions, and jocular displays. On just such husks do the religious swine feed; but the penitent prodigal can find no nutriment therein!
Christian reader, if you value the health of your soul, cease hearing and quit reading all that is lifeless, unctionless, powerless—no matter what prominent or
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popular name is attached thereto. Life is too short to waste valuable time on that which profits not.
Ninety-nine out of every hundred of the religious books, booklets, and magazines now being published, are not worth the paper on which they are printed! Take heed what you hear—and read!
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THE DEVIL’S TENNIS-BALL
Thomas Brooks, “The Privy Key of Heaven” 1665
Take heed of an idle and slothful spirit. An idle life and a holy heart are far asunder. By doing nothing men learn to do evil things. It is easy slipping out of an idle life into an evil and wicked life. Yes, an idle life is of itself evil, for man was made to be active, not to be idle. Idleness is a mother-sin, a breeding-sin; it is the devil’s cushion—on which he sits; and the devil’s anvil—on which he frames very great and very many sins. Look! as toads and serpents breed most in standing waters, so sin thrives most in idle people. Idleness is that which provokes the Lord to forsake men’s bodies, and the devil to possess their souls.
No man has less means to preserve his body, and more temptations to infect his soul, than an idle person. Oh shake off sloth! The sluggish Christian will be sleeping, or idling, or trifling; when he should be in his closet a- praying. Sloth is a fatal sickness of the soul; get it cured—or it will be your eternal bane. Of all devils, it is the ‘idle’ devil which keeps men most out of their closets. There is nothing that gives the devil so much advantage against us as idleness.
Idleness is the time of temptation. An idle person is the devil’s tennis-ball, tossed around by him at his pleasure.
The fowler bends his bow and spreads his net for birds
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when they are set, not when they are upon the wing. So Satan shoots his most fiery darts at men, when they are most idle and slothful.
Slothful and idle people commonly lie so long a-bed, and spend so much precious time between the comb and the mirror, and in eating, drinking, sporting, and trifling; that they can find no time for private prayer. Certainly such as had rather go sleeping to hell, than sweating to heaven, will never care much for prayer. And therefore shun sloth and idleness, as you would shun a lion in your way, or poison in your food, or coals in your bosom!
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HE DOES WHATEVER HE PLEASES!
Arthur Pink, “The Attributes of God”
“What His soul desires, even that He does.” Job 23:13
Ah, my reader, the God of Scripture is no make-believe monarch, no mere imaginary sovereign; but King of kings, and Lord of lords! To countless thousands, even among those professing to be Christians, the God of the Scriptures is quite unknown.
The god of this twentieth century no more resembles the Supreme Sovereign of Holy Writ, than does the dim flickering of a candle, the glory of the midday sun! The god who is now talked about in the average pulpit, spoken of in the ordinary Sunday School, mentioned in much of the religious literature of the day, and preached in most of the so-called Bible conferences, is the figment of human imagination, an invention of mushy sentimentality!
The heathen outside of the pale of Christendom form gods out of wood and stone; while the millions of heathen inside Christendom manufacture a god out of
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their own carnal mind! In reality, they are but atheists, for there is no other possible alternative between an absolutely supreme God, and no God at all. A god whose will is resisted, whose designs are frustrated, whose purpose is checkmated, possesses no title to Deity; and so far from being a fit object of worship, merits nothing but contempt!
“But our God is in the heavens. He does whatever he pleases.” Psalm 115:3
“I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.” Job 42:2
“Whatever the Lord pleased, that He has done, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.”
Psalm 135:6
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THE WRATH OF GOD LET LOOSE UPON HIS SON!
Stephen Charnock, 1628-1680
“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief.” Isaiah 53:10
Not all the vials of judgment that have or shall be poured out upon the wicked world, nor the flaming furnace of a sinner’s conscience, nor the irreversible sentence pronounced against the rebellious demons, nor the groans of the damned creatures—give such a demonstration of God’s hatred of sin—as the wrath of God let loose upon His Son! Never did divine holiness appear more beautiful and lovely than at the time our Savior’s countenance was most marred in the midst of His dying groans—when God had turned His smiling face from Him, and thrust His sharp knife into His heart, which forced that terrible cry from Him, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me!’
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WHENCE, THEN, THIS LOVELINESS, THIS CHARM?
Arthur Pink, “The Attributes of God”
“The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.” Psalm 33:5
The goodness of God is seen in the variety of natural pleasures which He has provided for His creatures. God might have been pleased to satisfy our hunger without the food being pleasing to our palates—how His benevolence appears in the varied flavors which He has given to meats, vegetables, and fruits. God has not only given us senses, but also that which gratifies them; and this too reveals His goodness. The earth might have been as fertile as it is without its surface being so delightfully variegated. Our physical lives could have been sustained without beautiful flowers to regale our eyes with their colors, and our nostrils with their sweet perfumes. We might have walked the fields without our ears being saluted by the music the birds. Whence, then, this loveliness, this charm, so freely diffused over the face of nature? Truly, “the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.”
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THE POWER OF GOD
Stephen Charnock, 1628-1680
“All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; and he does according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or tell him, What do you?” Daniel 4:35
The power of God is that ability and strength whereby He can bring to pass whatever He pleases, whatever His infinite wisdom may direct, and whatever the infinite purity of His will may resolve. As holiness is the beauty of all God’s attributes; so power is that which gives life and action to all the perfections of the divine nature.
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How vain would be the eternal decrees, if power did not step in to execute them. Without power—
His mercy would be but feeble pity, His promises an empty sound,
His threatenings a mere scarecrow.
God’s power is like Himself—infinite, eternal, incomprehensible; it can neither be checked, restrained, nor frustrated by the creature.
As His essence….
is immense—not to be confined in place;
as it is eternal—not to be measured in time;
so it is almighty—not to be limited in regard of action.
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THE UNWORTHINESS AND UNLIKELINESS OF ITS OBJECTS!
Arthur Pink, “The Attributes of God”
The Gospel addresses men as guilty, condemned, perishing criminals. It declares that the most chaste moralist is in the same terrible plight as is the most voluptuous profligate; and the zealous professor, with all his religious performances, is no better off than the most profane infidel.
The Gospel contemplates every person as a fallen, polluted, hell-deserving and helpless sinner. The grace which the Gospel publishes is his only hope!
Grace is a perfection of the divine character which is exercised only toward the elect. Divine grace is the sovereign and saving favor of God exercised in the bestowment of blessings upon those who have no merit in them, and for which no compensation is demanded from them.
Nay, more; grace is the favor of God shown to those who not only have no positive deserts of their own, but
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who are thoroughly ill-deserving and hell-deserving! Divine grace is completely unmerited and unsought, and is altogether unattracted by anything in or from or by the objects upon which it is bestowed. Grace can neither be bought, earned, nor won by the creature. If it could be, it would cease to be grace. When a thing is said to be of “grace,” we mean that the recipient has no claim upon it—that it was not in any way due him. It comes to him as pure charity, and, at first, unasked and undesired.
Because grace is unmerited favor, it must be exercised in a sovereign manner. Therefore does the Lord declare, “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious.” Exod. 33:19 The great God is under no obligation to any of His creatures, least of all to those who are rebels against Him.
The distinguishing grace of God is seen in saving those people whom He has sovereignly singled out to be His high favorites. By “distinguishing” we mean that grace discriminates, makes differences, chooses some and passes by others. Nowhere does the glory of God’s free and sovereign grace shine more conspicuously, than in the unworthiness and unlikeliness of its objects!
Nothing more riles the natural man, and brings to the surface his innate and inveterate enmity against God, than to press upon him the eternality, the freeness, and the absolute sovereignty of divine grace. That grace cannot be earned or won by any efforts of man, is too self-emptying for self-righteousness. And that grace singles out whom it pleases to be its favored object, arouses hot protests from haughty rebels.
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THE MODEL AND STRENGTH OF HIS LIFE
Arthur Pink, 1886–1952
“Christ is all!” Colossians 3:11
Christ is not only the Christian’s righteousness, but
also the model and strength of his life.
“Apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
CORRECTING IN LOVE—NOT SMITING IN WRATH!
Arthur Pink, “Comfort for Christians”
“Whom the Lord loves, He chastens.” Hebrews 12:6
The Father’s wise and loving discipline is in view here.
It is of first importance that we learn to draw a sharp distinction between Divine punishment and Divine chastisement. The distinction is very simple, yet is it often lost sight of. God’s people can never by any possibility be punished for their sins, for God has already punished them at the Cross. The Lord Jesus, our Blessed Substitute, suffered the full penalty of all our guilt, hence it is written “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.” Neither the justice nor the love of God, will permit Him to again exact payment of what Christ discharged to the full. The difference between punishment and chastisement lies not in the nature of the sufferings of the afflicted. There is a threefold distinction between the two.
First, the character in which God acts. In the former God acts as Judge—in the latter as Father. Sentence of punishment is the act of a judge—a penal sentence passed on those charged with guilt. Punishment can never fall upon the child of God in this judicial sense, because his guilt was all transferred to Christ, “Who
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His own self bore our sins in His own body on the tree.”
But while the believer’s sins cannot be punished, while the Christian cannot be condemned Romans 8:3—yet he may be chastised. The Christian occupies an entirely different position from the non-Christian: he is a member of the Family of God. The relationship which now exists between him and God is that of parent and child; and as a son he must be disciplined for wrongdoing. Folly is bound up in the hearts of all God’s children, and the rod is necessary to rebuke, to subdue, to humble.
The second distinction between Divine punishment and Divine chastisement lies in the recipients of each. The objects of the former are His enemies. The subjects of the latter are His children. As the Judge of all the earth, God will yet take vengeance on all His foes. As the Father of His family, God maintains discipline over all His children. The one is judicial—the other parental.
A third distinction is seen in the design of each. The one is retributive—the other remedial. The one flows from His anger—the other from His love. Divine punishment is never sent for the good of unrepentant sinners—but for the honoring of God’s law and the vindicating of His government. But Divine chastisement is sent for the well-being of His children: “For they indeed, for a few days, punished us as seemed good to them; but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.” Heb. 12:10
When the believer is smarting under the rod let him not say—‘God is now punishing me for my sins.’ That can never be! That is most dishonoring to the blood of Christ. God is correcting you in love—not smiting in wrath!
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Chastisement proceeds from God’s goodness and faithfulness, and is one of the greatest blessings for which we have to thank Him. Chastisement evidences our Divine sonship. It is designed for our good, to promote our highest interests. Look beyond the rod— to the all-wise hand which wields it!
Some of the saintliest of God’s people, some of the most obedient of His children—have been and are the greatest sufferers. Oftentimes, God’s chastenings are corrective. They are sent to empty us of self-sufficiency and self- righteousness. They are given to discover to us hidden transgressions, and to teach us the plague of our own hearts. Or again, chastisements are sent to strengthen our faith, to raise us to higher levels of experience, to bring us into a condition of usefulness. Still again, Divine chastisement is sent as a preventative—to keep under pride, to save us from being unduly elated over success in God’s service.
Remember, your afflictions are among the “all things” which work together for good. Learn, then, to look upon trials as proofs of God’s love—purging, pruning, and purifying you.
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A DEVIL AT HOME!
Charles Spurgeon
The way in which a man lives in his home is vital. It will not do to be a saint abroad—and a devil at home! There are some of that kind. They are wonderfully sweet at a prayer meeting, but they are dreadfully sour to their wives and children. This will never do! Every genuine believer should say, and mean it, ‘I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.’ It is in the home that we get the truest proof of godliness!
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‘What sort of a man is he?’ said one to George Whitefield; and Whitefield answered, ‘I cannot say, for I never lived with him.’ That is the way to test a man—to live with him.
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THE SWEETEST MERCIES OF GOD!
Robert Hawker, “Zion’s Pilgrim” 1827
All afflictions which tend to….
bring the soul to God,
keep up a life of communion with the Redeemer, make us sensible of the gracious influence of the Holy
Spirit,
spiritualize our affections,
wean our hearts from a world from which we must
soon part,
and promote a more intimate acquaintance with that
world in which we are shortly forever to dwell—
are undeserving the name of afflictions! They are among the sweetest mercies of God!
God removes earthly comforts—in order to make room for heavenly delights. He empties the soul of all creature-comforts—that He may fill it with Creator- mercies. We should embrace our afflictions, as affording the choicest proofs of divine love.
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SOMETHING INFINITELY BETTER!
Letters of Ruth Bryan
It is only “Christ enjoyed” which can loosen our hold of things seen, and of those earthly attractions which have long entwined themselves around the heart—for then we have found something infinitely better!
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THESE CHILDISH DISSIPATIONS!
John Newton’s Letters
Writing to a worldling, John Newton says—
If you were to send me an inventory of your pleasures; how charmingly your time runs on, and how dexterously it is divided between the coffee-house, play-house, the card-table, and tavern, with intervals of balls, concerts, etc.; I would answer, that most of these I have tried over and over, and know the utmost they can yield, and have seen enough of the rest, most heartily to despise them all. I profess I had rather be a worm crawling on the ground, than to bear the name of ‘man’ upon the poor terms of whiling away my life in an insipid round of such insignificant and unmanly trifles! Alas! how do you prostitute your talents and capacity, how far do you act below yourself—if you know no higher purpose of life than these childish dissipations!
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THE MARKS OF A TRUE SHEPHERD
Arthur Pink, Studies in the Scriptures, May, 1939
How diligently should they scrutinize their motives, who think of entering the ministry; for thousands have abused this Divine institution through love of ease, desire for authority and reputation, or love of money— and brought upon themselves “greater damnation,” James 3:1. Thousands have invaded the pastoral office in an unauthorized manner, to fleece sheep rather than feed them, robbing Christ of His honor and starving His people.
Solemn beyond words is it to observe how sternly our Lord denounced these false shepherds of His day. Matthew 23 As J. C. Ryle rightly said, “Nothing seemed
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so offensive to Christ as a false teacher of religion, a false prophet, or a false shepherd. Nothing ought to be so much feared by the Church, be so plainly rebuked, opposed and exposed.”
What are the marks of a true shepherd, how are God’s people to identify those called and qualified by Him to minister unto His people?
First, the genuine pastor has the doctrine of Christ on his LIPS. The ministers of the new covenant are described as those who had “renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness.” Christendom today is infested with men who are full of deceit and hypocrisy, trimming their sails according to whatever direction the breeze of public opinion is blowing.
“We have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully.” 2 Cor. 4:2. The true servant of Christ holds back nothing which is profitable, no matter how unpalatable it may be unto his hearers. He is one who magnifies not himself, nor his denomination, but Christ—His wondrous Person, His atoning blood, His exacting claims.
Second, the genuine pastor has the Spirit of Christ in his HEART. It is the Spirit who opens to him the mysteries of the Gospel, so that he is “the faithful and wise servant” Matt. 24:45. It is the Spirit of Christ who gives him a love for His sheep, so that it is his greatest delight to lead them into the green pastures of His Word. It is the Spirit of Christ who enables him to use “great boldness of speech” 2 Cor. 3:12, so that he
shuns not to declare all the counsel of God. It is the Spirit of Christ who makes him to be “prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction”
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2 Tim. 4:2. It is the Spirit of Christ who gives efficacy to his ministry, making it fruitful according to the sovereign pleasure of God.
Third, the genuine pastor has the example of Christ in his LIFE, which is a conforming of him to the image of his Master. It is true, sadly true, that there is not one of them who does not fall far short both of the inward and outward image of Christ. Yet there are some faint tracings of His image visible in all His true servants. The image of Christ is seen in their words, spirit, actions; otherwise we have no warrant to receive them as God’s servants.
Find a man no easy task today! who has the doctrine of Christ on his lips, the Spirit of Christ in his heart, and the example of Christ in his life—and you find one of His genuine ministers—all others are but “thieves and robbers.”
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LETTER TO A STRICKEN SOUL
Arthur Pink
My dear brother,
My heart goes out to you in sympathy in this dark hour, and I feel my helplessness to comfort you. The loss you have sustained is far greater than any human creature can make up—your suffering is too acute for any fellow-mortal to alleviate. I may endeavor to pour into your sorely-wounded heart something of ‘the balm of Gilead,’ but only the great Physician can give any efficacy to the same. I can do little more than point you to Him who alone can ‘bind up the broken-hearted’. Jesus is a Friend who sticks closer than a brother. Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you. Unburden yourself to Him.
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May divine grace be given you, so that you shall be enabled to meekly acquiesce unto whatever our all-wise God may appoint. It is in heart-submission to God’s providential dealings with us, that true religion largely consists. Your acute sorrow is among the ‘all things’ which work together for good to those who love God. If the Spirit of God is pleased to sanctify this affliction unto you, it will prove a real blessing in disguise. May I suggest several lines of meditation which, if pursued by you and blessed to you by God, will enable you to improve this affliction.

  1. Learn anew the terribleness of sin. ‘Therefore, as sin entered into the world through one man, and death through sin; and so death passed to all men, because all sinned.’ Romans 5:12 Yes, had sin never entered this world, no graves would have ever been dug in it. Every funeral should be a forceful reminder to us of what the Fall has brought in! Every funeral ought to beget in us a deeper hatred of sin. It was sin which necessitated the death of God’s beloved Son. Then how we should loathe it, seek grace to resist its evil solicitations, and follow hard after its opposite—holiness.
  2. See the great importance of holding all God’s temporal mercies with a light hand. The best of them are only loaned us for a season, and we know not how early we shall be called to relinquish them. It is the part of wisdom for us to recognize and remember this while they are in our hands: not to grasp them too tightly, nor to look upon them as ours to enjoy forever in this perishing world. Holy Writ bids us to ‘rejoice with trembling’, for that which delights my heart this morning may be taken from me before the shadows of night fall. The more I live with this fact before me, the less shall I feel the loss when it comes!
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  3. Endeavor to get your heart more weaned from this perishing world. ‘Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.’ Col. 3:2 But we are slow to heed this exhortation, and often God has to use drastic means to bring us to a compliance with it. It is for our own good as well as His glory, that we do so. It is only heavenly things which abide; then let us seek grace to have our hearts more and more set upon them.
  4. Seek to demonstrate the reality of true religion. Only the real child of God is enabled to say, ‘The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away: blessed be the name of the Lord.’ Earnestly seek supernatural help from above, dear brother, that you may be enabled to manifest the sufficiency of Divine grace to strengthen and support— to show you do have a peace and comfort which the Christless are strangers to. Sorrow not as others do, who have no hope. Doubt not the Lord’s goodness. “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you. He will never allow the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22
    Yours by God’s abounding mercy,
    A. W. Pink
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    GOD’S JEWELS
    Arthur Pink, “God’s Jewels”
    “And they shall be Mine, says the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels.” Malachi 3:17
    It almost surprises one to learn that the great and self- sufficient God has ‘jewels,’ but our surprise increases to astonishment when we learn that these ‘jewels’ are living creatures. And astonishment gives place to overwhelming amazement when we discover that these living creatures are fallen and depraved sinners
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redeemed from among men! Truly, nothing but Divine grace would ever liken such wretched worms of the dust, unto precious jewels! Yet that is the very thing which we find God doing in our text. It is not the unfallen angels, nor the holy seraphim and exalted cherubim who are spoken of as Jehovah’s valued treasure—but lost and ruined sinners saved by amazing grace!
The Lord has likened His people to ‘jewels’ because of their inestimable value in His sight. This is an exceedingly hard thing for the Christian to really grasp, for he feels such a wretched and worthless creature in himself. That the Lord of Glory should deem him of great worth, is difficult to conceive. Yet so it is!
From the earliest times, men have thought much of precious gems, and fabulous prices have been paid for them. With great ardor and toil, do men hunt after gold; but with even greater eagerness and labor will they seek the diamond. Hundreds of men will labor for a whole year in one of the diamond mines of Africa, and the entire result of their efforts may be held in the palm of your hand. Princes have been known to barter their estates in order to obtain some gem of peculiar brilliance and rare excellence.
Yet more desirable still, are His saints in the esteem of the Lord Jesus. The value of a thing in the eyes of its possessor, may be gauged by the price he was willing to pay for it. So valuable was the Church unto Christ that He gave Himself for it, and shed His precious blood to purchase it for Himself. Thus, the saints are likened unto ‘jewels’ because of the great value which the Lord places upon them.
“You shall also be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.”
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Isaiah 62:3. What marvelous words are these for faith and hope to lay hold of! Our feeble intellects cannot grasp them! Wondrous is it to think of rough stones, which first look like small pebbles, being found in the mud and mire of earth; then cut and polished until they scintillate with a brilliancy surpassing any earthly object, and being given an honored place in the diadem of a monarch. But infinitely more wonderful is it, that poor lost sinners, saved by sovereign grace, should be among the crown-jewels of the Son of God!
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THE ROYAL GATE
Thomas Brooks, “Heaven on Earth” 1667
“Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17
A man may always pray habitually; he may have his heart in a praying disposition in all states and conditions—
in prosperity and adversity, in health and sickness,
in strength and weakness, in wealth and wants,
in life and death.
The Christian needs….
divine mercy to pardon him, divine grace to purify him, divine balm to heal him, divine favor to comfort him, divine power to support him, divine wisdom to counsel him, divine goodness to satisfy him.
Our daily weaknesses, our daily needs,
our daily fears,
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our daily dangers,
our daily temptations, call for our daily prayers.
Prayer is the royal gate by which the Lord enters into the heart—
comforting, quieting, strengthening, quickening, and upholding it.
By prayer—
faith is increased,
hope strengthened,
the spirit exhilarated,
the heart pacified,
the conscience purified, temptations vanquished, corruptions weakened,
the affections inflamed,
the will more renewed, and
the whole man more advantaged.
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SNOWMEN!
Matthew Meade, “The Almost Christian”
What pains do children take to scrape and roll the snow together to make a snowman. But soon after it is done, the heat of the sun dissolves it, and it comes to nothing.
The greatest treasures of worldly people are but snowmen! When death and judgment come, they melt away, and come to nothing!
“The world with its lusts is passing away.” 1 John 2:17
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TEMPTING, SEDUCTIVE, DANGEROUS AND RUINOUS
William S. Plumer, “The Ten Commandments”
“People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:9-10
By reason of sin, riches are ordinarily tempting, seductive, dangerous and ruinous. A right view of the perils of wealth would, with the divine blessing, have a mighty efficacy in curing our covetousness and discontent, and in causing us to cease improperly to love what we have, or sinfully to desire that which belongs to others.
When one says to himself, “You have many goods stored up for many years. Take it easy; eat, drink, and enjoy yourself!” (Luke 12:19) destruction is already at the door! No state of mind is more opposite to the spirit of the gospel, than that of slothfulness, high living, banqueting, and carnal mirth. “Sodom’s sins were pride, laziness, and gluttony.” Ez. 16:49
Wantonness and luxury, sloth and corruption usually go together. The great nourisher of these is wealth.
“Covetousness is idolatry.” It disowns Jehovah. It sets up gold to be worshiped. It brings man, like the serpent, to lick the dust. It sadly perverts God’s mercies, as well as all our own thoughts. It makes men believe in no God but mammon, no devil but the absence of gold, no damnation but being poor, no hell but an empty purse.
David speaks of “men of the world, who have their portion in this life.” Psalm 17:14.
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To lead a Christian life is to give up one’s idols. Oh that men would believe their final Judge, when He says, “You cannot serve God and mammon!”
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GOD WOULD NOT RUB SO HARD
Thomas Brooks, “The Privy Key of Heaven” 1665
“I will turn My hand against you and will burn away your dross completely; I will remove all your impurities.” Isaiah 1:25
Afflictions cleanse and purge away the dross, the filth, and the scum of the Christian.
All the harm the fire did to the three children, or rather the three champions—was to burn off their cords. Our lusts are cords of vanity, but the fire of affliction shall burn them up. Sharp afflictions are a fire—to purge out our dross, and to make our graces shine; they are a potion—to carry away ill humours; they are cold frosts—to destroy the vermin; they are a tempestuous sea—to purge the wine from its dregs; they are a sharp corrosive—to eat out the dead flesh.
Afflictions are compared to washing—which takes away the filth of the soul, as water does the filth of the body. God would not rub so hard, were it not to fetch out the dirt and spots that are in His people’s hearts.
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THE DEVIL’S CHAPEL
William S. Plumer, “The Ten Commandments”
“I will set before my eyes no vile thing.” Psalm 101:3
Augustine: “Stage-plays are the subverters of goodness and honesty; the destroyers of all modesty and chastity.”
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Bernard: “All true soldiers of Jesus Christ abominate and reject all stage-plays, as vanities and false frenzies.”
Seneca: “Nothing is so destructive of godly manners or morals—as attendance on the stage.”
Gregory Nazianzen: “Play-houses are the lascivious shops of all filthiness and impurity.”
Tillotson: “The play-house is the devil’s chapel, a nursery of licentiousness and vice; a recreation which ought not to be allowed among a civilized, much less a Christian people.”
The American Congress, October 12th, 1778: “Whereas, true religion and good morals are the only solid foundation of public liberty and happiness: Resolved, that it be, and is hereby earnestly recommended to the several States—to take the most effectual means for the suppressing of theatrical entertainments, horse-racing, gaming, and such other diversions, as are productive of idleness, dissipation, and a general depravity of principles and manners.”
William S. Plumer: “The theatre is an evil place. In this vortex of vice—
the first step is to the theater, the next to the bar,
the next to lewd company, the next to the brothel,
the next to disease,
the next to death,
and the last to HELL.”8
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AN EXCELLENT WAY OF COMMENTING UPON THE BIBLE
Thomas Watson
“How I love Your teaching! It is my meditation all day long.” Psalm 119:97
Chrysostom compares the Scripture to a garden, every truth is a fragrant flower, which we should wear, not on our bosom—but in our heart!
David counted the Word “sweeter than honey and the honeycomb”. There is that in Scripture which may breed delight. It shows us the way….
to riches: Deut 28:8, Prov 3:30; to long life, Psalm 34:42;
to a kingdom, Heb 12:28.
Well then may we count those the sweetest hours which are spent in reading the holy Scriptures; well may we say with the prophet, “Your words were found, and I ate them. Your words became a delight to me and the joy of my heart.”
Conform to Scripture. Let us lead Scripture lives. Oh that the Bible might be seen printed in our lives! Do what the Word commands. Obedience is an excellent way of commenting upon the Bible. “Teach me Your way, O Lord—and I will walk in Your truth.” Let the Word be the sun-dial by which you set your life. What are we the better for having the Scripture—if we do not direct all our speech and actions according to it? What are we the better for the rule of the Word—if we do not make use of it, and regulate our lives by it? What a dishonor is it to religion—for men to live in contradiction to Scripture! The Word is called a “light to our feet.” It is not only a light to our eyes to mend our sight—but to our feet to mend our walk. Oh let us lead Bible lives!
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Be thankful to God for the Scriptures. What a mercy is it that God has not only acquainted us what His will is, but that He has made it known by writing! The Scripture is our pole-star to direct us to heaven, it shows us every step we are to take; when we go wrong— it instructs us; when we go right—it comforts us.
Adore God’s distinguishing grace, if you have felt the power and authority of the Word upon your conscience; if you can say as David, “Your word has quickened me.” Christian, bless God that He has not only given you His Word to be a rule of holiness—but His grace to be a principle of holiness. Bless God that He has not only written His Word, but sealed it upon your heart, and made it effectual. Can you say it is of divine inspiration, because you have felt it to be of lively operation?
Oh free grace! that God should send out His Word, and heal you; that He should heal you—and not others! That the same Scripture which to them is a dead letter—should be to you a savor of life!
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IN THE GREAT GAME OF EXISTENCE
John MacDuff, “Thoughts for the Quiet Hour,” 1895
Sad the case of those who had the possibilities of a good and useful existence—but have lived fatally and hopelessly given up to….
sloth, or
flippant pleasure, or engrossing selfishness.
Those fugitive, precious moments we are forgetting and wasting, cannot be recovered.
In the great game of existence many are staking all and losing all—drifting to hopeless, irremediable
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bankruptcy. That is a solemn word—a dreadful truth—
the irreparable past!
Death will dissolve many a ‘fairy vision’ that has lured and charmed us. Death will sweep down many ‘flimsy cobwebs of earth’ that we have laboriously weaved— poor tawdry things we have so often clung to and clutched!
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A BAD EXAMPLE
William S. Plumer, “The Ten Commandments”
“In everything he followed the example of his father.” 2 Kings 14:3
Children are the most imitative creatures in the world.
Parents should so walk before their children as that they may safely follow in their footsteps. Set a good example in all things. He who delivers good precepts, scatters good seed. He who adds good example, ploughs in that seed.
A bad example will destroy the good which might be expected from sound instruction. “Do as I say—and not as I do,” is a sentence which converts the best teaching into poison, and dreadfully hardens the heart.
Precepts give the theory, but example instills principle.
Words impart notions, but example carries conviction.
You need special wisdom and grace to preserve you from error, and sin, and folly. If you practice any sin before your child—you cannot fail to teach him to do the same.
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COME AND EAT!
Horatius Bonar, “The Bread of Immortality” “I am the bread of life.” John 6:48
“I am the living bread.” John 6:51 All food is for the sustaining of life.
Jesus announces Himself as the bread which will sustain the life of the soul. Not merely some doctrine—but Him- self. He is the bread; not merely bread—but the bread— the one true bread; without whom the soul cannot grow, nor its life be sustained. For only by this life-sustaining bread, can such sickly souls be nourished. As such, Jesus is necessary to the soul as its food—its bread.
Outside of Him, there is no nourishment, no sustenance.
He feeds—He alone. He feeds us on Himself! All else is husks, or mere air and vapor. Jesus, in His glorious person, is our food—the true bread and sustenance of the soul; the hidden manna.
Jesus applies various names to it: “bread from heaven”
“true bread”
“the bread of God”
“bread of life” “living bread.”
All these are names indicative of its excellence, its power, its suitableness. It is the very bread we need; no other would do. Jesus is the soul’s eternal food. This storehouse is inexhaustible—and ever accessible!
Come as you are, poor prodigal, starving on husks— come and eat! Eat, O friends! Eat, and live! Eat, and be strong!
Eat, and be in soul health!
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A LITTLE, POOR, HELPLESS CHILD
Jonathan Edwards, “Directions How to Conduct Yourself in Your Christian Course”—a letter addressed to a young lady in the year 1741
In all your daily living—walk with God, and follow Christ, as a little, poor, helpless child—taking hold of Christ’s hand, keeping your eye on the marks of the wounds in His hands and side—whence came the blood which cleanses you from sin; and hiding your nakedness under the skirt of the white shining robes of His righteousness.
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ONE FOOT IN HELL
Horatius Bonar, “The Three Crosses”
“I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in paradise.” Luke 23:43
The saved thief is a specimen of what the cross is appointed to do. Sin abounding, grace super- abounding.
What is yon cross erected for? To save souls!
See, it saves one of the worst; one who had done
nothing but evil all his days!
What does that blood flow for? To wash away sin! See, it washes one of the blackest!
What does yon Sufferer die for? To pardon the guiltiest! Not merely to save from hell, but to open Paradise to the chief of sinners—to open it at once; not after years of torment, but “today.” Today “with Me.” Yes, Jesus goes back to heaven with a saved robber at His side! What an efficacy in the cross!
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What grace, what glory, what cleansing, what healing, what blessing—at yonder cross! Even “in weakness” the Son of God can deliver—can pluck brands from the burning—can defy and defeat the evil one! Such is the meaning of the cross! Such is the interpretation which God puts upon it, by saving that wretched thief.
See how near to hell a man may be—and yet be saved! That thief, was he not on the very brink of the burning lake—one foot in hell; almost set on fire by hell? Yet he is plucked out! He has done nothing but evil all his days—down to the very last hour of his life; yet he is saved. He is just about to step into perdition, when the hand of the Son of God seizes him and lifts him to Paradise!
Ah, what grace is here!
What boundless love!
What power to save!
Who after this need despair? Truly Jesus is mighty to save!
See how near a man may be to Christ—and yet not be saved.
The other thief is as near the Savior as his fellow—yet he perishes. From the very side of Christ—he goes down to hell. From the very side of his saved fellow— he passes into damnation. We see the one going up to heaven—and the other going down to hell.
This is astonishing—and it is fearful!
Oh, what a lesson—what a sermon is here!
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THE MOST TREACHEROUS ENEMY!
Richard Baxter, “Self-Denial”
“If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and
take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Luke 9:23
Of all the sins, there is scarcely any more odious and dangerous, than selfishness. And yet most are never troubled at it, nor sensible of its malignity.
SELF is the most treacherous enemy, and the most insinuating deceiver in the world! It will be within you when you are not aware of it; and will conquer you when you don’t perceive it. Of all other vices, selfishness is both the hardest to find out—and the hardest to cure.
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“ABSOLUTE PREDESTINATION”
Jerome Zanchius, 1516–1590
Without a due sense of predestination, we shall lack the surest and the most powerful inducement to patience, resignation and dependence on God under every spiritual and temporal affliction. How sweet must the following considerations be to a distressed believer!
(1) There most certainly exists an almighty, all-wise and infinitely gracious God.
(2) He has given me in times past, and is giving me at present (if I had but eyes to see it), many and signal intimations of His love to me—both in a way of providence and grace.
(3) This love of His is immutable; He never repents of it nor withdraws it.
(4) Whatever comes to pass in time, is the result of His will from everlasting, consequently
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(5) my afflictions were a part of His original plan, and are all ordered in number, weight and measure.
(6) The very hairs of my head are (every one) counted by Him, nor can a single hair fall to the ground but in consequence of His determination. Hence
(7) my distresses are not the result of chance, accident or a fortuitous combination of circumstances, but
(8) the providential accomplishment of God’s purpose, and
(9) designed to answer some wise and gracious ends, nor
(10) shall my affliction continue a moment longer than God sees fit.
(11) He who brought me to it, has promised to support me under it, and to carry me through it.
(12) All shall, most assuredly, work together for His glory and my good, therefore
(13) “The cup which my heavenly Father has given me to drink, shall I not drink it?” Yes, I will, in the strength He imparts, even rejoice in tribulation. I will commit myself and the event to Him, whose purpose cannot be overthrown, whose plan cannot be disconcerted; and who, whether I am resigned or not, will still go on to work all things after the counsel of His own will.
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NEVER NURSE A CHILD FOR THE DEVIL
William S. Plumer, “The Ten Commandments”
The heart of your child is corrupt, and all your teaching and example will be lost without God’s blessing. You cannot change the heart, renew the will, or wash away the sins of your child. God alone can impart to him a
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love of the truth, or give him repentance. You may use your best endeavors—but all will be in vain without God’s Spirit.
A mother of eleven pious children, who being asked how she came to be so much blessed, said, “I never took one of them into my arms to give it nourishment, that I did not pray that I might never nurse a child for the devil.”
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YOU SHALL NOT TAKE THE NAME OF THE LORD YOUR GOD IN VAIN
William S. Plumer, “The Ten Commandments”
A great design of true religion is to bring men to habitual reverence for God’s divine majesty. The very moment men cease to treat God as holy—that moment their worship becomes polluted.
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain;
for the Lord will not hold him guiltless, who takes His name in vain.” Exodus 20:7
Anything relating to the true God—His being, His nature, His will, His works, His worship, His service, or His doctrine—pertains to God’s name. This commandment extends to the state of men’s thoughts and hearts—as well as to their speech.
To take God’s name in vain, is to use it in any frivolous, false, inconsiderate, irreverent, or otherwise wicked manner. The scope of this commandment is to secure the holy and reverent use of all that by which God makes Himself known to His people; and so to guard His sacred name against all that is calculated to make it contemptible.
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The manner of taking His name is to be grave, solemn, intelligent, thoughtful, sincere, and with godly fear.
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain;
for the Lord will not hold him guiltless, who takes His name in vain.” Exodus 20:7
THE CITY WAS FULL OF IDOLS!
William S. Plumer, “The Ten Commandments”
“Abominable idolatries.” 1 Peter 4:3
Men never do a more vain and empty thing, than when they make or serve an idol. It is as foolish and as unproductive of good, as when one beats the air.
Idolatry is both absurd and criminal. Idolatry, in all its forms, is a sin so gross, and expressive of so much folly and stupidity, that it is bewildering that men could ever commit it. To inspired writers it is a theme of just and severe ridicule; not the less pungent because a simple statement of its grossness is all that is required to show its absurdity.
“Their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands. They have mouths, but cannot speak; eyes, but cannot see. They have ears, but cannot hear; noses, but cannot
smell. They have hands, but cannot feel; feet, but cannot walk. They cannot make a sound with their throats. Those who make them are just like them, as are all who trust in them.” Psalm 115:4-8
In all this ridicule there is no caricature, no exaggeration. It is all fair, because it is simple truth. Yet, as absurd as idolatry is, there is no science, literature, philosophy, civilization, which can show its silliness so plainly, as to banish it from among men.
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“While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols!”
Acts 17:16
“He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.”
Psalm 103:3
What a mass of….
filth and folly,
blindness and ignorance,
deceit and hypocrisy,
carnality, sensuality, and devilism are we!
Prone to all that is bad, utterly averse to all that is good—bent upon sin—hating holiness, heavenly- mindedness, and spirituality—what earthly wretches, guilty monsters, abominable creature are we!
And if our minds are sometimes drawn upwards in faith and affection, and we pant after the living God— how soon, how almost instantly, do we drop down again into our earthly self, whence we are utterly unable to rise until the Blessed Spirit lifts us out again! What fits of unbelief, shakings of infidelity, fevers of lust, agues of carelessness, consumptions of faith, hope, love and zeal; yes, what a host of diseases dwell in our poor soul!
But they all admit of a twofold cure—that wonderful medicine which John saw run from the wounded side of the Redeemer—blood and water; the one to heal, the other to wash; the one to atone, the other to cleanse; justification by blood, and sanctification by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.
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THAT WONDERFUL MEDICINE!
Letters of J. C. Philpot
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THE GLORIES OF MARY, MOTHER OF GOD
William S. Plumer, “The Ten Commandments” 1864
“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me.” Exodus 20:2-3
A very favorite book among Catholics is entitled, “The Glories of Mary, Mother of God.” Its author is St. Alphonsus Liguori. The translator dedicates the work to Mary, “the Queen of Angels and of Men,” with “all veneration and respect,” and says it is “designed to increase the number and fervor of her worshipers.” Here is the table of contents:
How great should be our confidence in Mary, Queen of Mercy.
How great our confidence should be in Mary as our mother.
The great love borne us by Mary our mother. Mary is the refuge of repentant sinners.
Mary is our life, since she obtains us the pardon of our sins.
Mary is our life, because she obtains our perseverance. Mary renders death sweet to her servants.
Mary is the hope of all the children of Adam.
Mary is the hope of the sinner.
Mary’s readiness to assist those who invoke her.
The power of Mary to defend those who invoke her in temptations.
Necessity of Mary’s intercession in order to obtain salvation.
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Mary is a powerful Advocate.
Mary is a compassionate Advocate.
Mary is mediatrix of peace between God and sinners.
Mary is ever watchful to support our miseries.
Mary preserves her servants from hell.
Mary succours her servants in purgatory.
Mary conducts her servants to heaven.
The greatness of Mary’s mercifulness and goodness.
The sweetness of the holy name of Mary in life and in death.
In “The Psalter of the Virgin” we find the last two Psalms of David thus thrown into parody, and applied to Mary instead of Jehovah: “Sing unto our Lady a new song: let her praise be in the congregation of the just. Praise our Lady in her holiness; praise her in her virtues and miracles; praise her, you choirs of patriarchs and prophets; praise her, you army of martyrs; let everything that has breath praise our lady!”
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THE MOST DEVOURING IDOL IN ALL THE WORLD!
Richard Baxter “The Sinfulness of Flesh-Pleasing”
“Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.” Philippians 3:19
Flesh-pleasing is the grand idolatry of the world. The flesh is the greatest idol that ever was set up against God.
That is a man’s God, which he…. takes for his chief good,
and loves best,
and is most desirous to please.
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And this is the flesh, to every sensualist.
He “loves pleasure more than God.” He “minds the things of the flesh,” and “lives” for it, and “walks after it.” He “makes provision for it, to satisfy its appetite and lusts.” He “sows to the flesh, and fulfills its lusts.”
It is not primarily the bowing of the knee and praying to a thing—which constitutes idolatry. It is the loving, and pleasing, and obeying, and seeking, and delighting in a thing—which is idolatry.
So the loving of the flesh, and pleasing it, and serving it, and obeying it, and seeking and delighting in its pleasures—is the grand idolatry—more than if you offered sacrifices to it!
And so the flesh is God’s chief enemy, because it has the chief love and service which are due to Him. The flesh robs Him of the hearts of all people who are carnal and unsanctified. All the Baals, and Jupiters, and Apollos, and other idols of the world put together, have not so much of the love and service due to God, as the flesh alone has. If other things are idolized by the sensualist, it is but as they subserve his flesh, and therefore they are made but inferior idols.
The flesh is not only the common idol—but the most devouring idol in all the world! It has not, as inferior, flattered idols have—only a knee and compliment, or now and then a sacrifice or ceremony—but it has the heart, the tongue, the body to serve it!
The flesh is loved and served by the sensualist, “with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his strength.” They forsake God for the flesh. They forsake Christ, and heaven, and their salvation for it. They forsake all the solid comforts of this life, and all the joys of the life to come for it. They sell all that they have, and lay down the price at its feet. Yes, more than
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all they have, even all their hopes of what they might have to all eternity! They suffer in the flames of hell forever, for their flesh!
How vile an idol is the flesh! It is a great a madness to serve an idol of silver, or gold or stone, or wood. But is it any better to serve an idol of flesh and blood—which is full of filth and excrement within, and the skin itself, the cleanest part, is ashamed to be uncovered? Is this a god to sacrifice all that we have to? and to give all our time, and care, and labor, and our souls, and all to?
Consider how impious and horrid an abasement it is of the eternal God—to prefer so vile a thing before Him! You say continually by your practice, “This filthy, nasty flesh, is to be preferred before God—to be more loved, and obeyed, and served. It deserves more of my time than God. It is more worthy of my delight and love!”
It is but a few days until all their most adorned, pampered flesh will be turned into worms’ food! A few days will turn….
their pleasure into anguish,
their jollity into groans,
their ostentation into lamentation, all their pride into shame.
When the skull is cast up with the spade, to make room for a successor—you may see the hole where all the food and drink went in; but you will see no signs of mirth or pleasure.
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THE BITTER PILL OF AFFLICTION
Lewis Bayly, “The Practice of Piety” 1611
Nothing will more arm you with patience in your sickness, than to see that it comes from the hand of your heavenly Father, who would never send it but that He
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sees it to be to you both needful and profitable. For God, like a skillful physician, seeing the soul to be poisoned with the settling of sin, administers the bitter pill of affliction, whereby the remains of sin are purged, and the soul more soundly cured; the flesh is subdued, and the spirit is sanctified. O the odiousness of sin, which causes God to chasten so severely His children, whom otherwise He loves so dearly!
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MAN SINS—AND GOD DIES!
Lewis Bayly, “The Practice of Piety” 1611
“Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:6
What had You done, O my sweet Savior, and ever- blessed Redeemer—that You were thus betrayed by Judas, sold to the Jews, apprehended as a malefactor, and led bound as a lamb to the slaughter? What evil had You committed, that You should be thus openly arraigned, falsely accused, and unjustly condemned? What was Your offence? Whom did You ever wrong? that You should be thus….
woefully scourged with whips, crowned with thorns,
reviled with words,
buffeted with fists,
beaten with staves?
O Lord, what did You do to deserve to have Your blessed face spit upon, and covered as it were with shame; to have Your hands and feet nailed to the cross; to be lifted up on the cursed tree; to be crucified among thieves, and made to taste gall and vinegar; and in Your deadly extremity, to endure such a sea of God’s wrath, that made You cry out, as if You had been forsaken by God Your Father; yes, to have Your innocent heart pierced with a cruel spear, and Your precious blood
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spilt before Your blessed mother’s eyes? Sweet Savior, how much were You tormented to endure all this— seeing I am so much amazed even to think upon it!
What is the cause, then, O Lord, of this Your cruel ignominy, passion, and death? I, O Lord—I am the cause of these Your sorrows!
My sins wrought Your shame;
my iniquities are the occasion of Your injuries;
I have committed the fault—and You are punished for
the offence;
I am guilty—and You are arraigned;
I committed the sin—and You suffered the death;
I have done the crime—and You hung on the cross!
Oh, the deepness of God’s love!
Oh, the amazing profoundness of heavenly grace! Oh, the immeasurable measure of divine mercy!
The wicked transgress—and the just is punished; the guilty set free—and the innocent is arraigned; the malefactor is acquitted—and the harmless
condemned;
what the evil man deserves—the holy God suffers!
What shall I say? Man sins—and God dies!
O Son of God! who can sufficiently…. express Your love, or
commend Your pity, or
extol Your praise?
I was proud—and You are humble;
I was disobedient—and You became obedient;
I ate the forbidden fruit—
and You hung on the cursed tree;
evil lust drew me to eat the pleasant apple—
and perfect love led You to drink of the bitter cup;
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I tasted the sweetness of the fruit—
and You tasted the bitterness of the gall.
O my God, here I see….
Your goodness—and my vileness; Your justice—and my injustice.
And now, O blessed Lord, You have endured all this for my sake; what shall I render unto You for all Your benefits bestowed upon me, a sinful soul? What shall I render to You, for giving Yourself in Your infinite love, to so cruel a death, to procure my redemption?
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FOR A MOMENT OF SINFUL PLEASURE
Lewis Bayly, “The Practice of Piety” 1611
O the madness of man, that for a moment of sinful pleasure will hazard the loss of an eternal weight of glory!
Better it is to go sickly with Lazarus to heaven; than full of mirth and pleasure, with the rich man to hell. Better it is to mourn for a time on earth, than to be tormented forever with devils.
Without Christ you are but…. a slave of sin,
death’s vassal,
the food of worms,
whose thoughts are vain,
whose deeds are vile,
whose pleasures have scarcely a beginning, whose miseries never know an end.
What wise man would incur these hellish torments, though he might, by living in sin, purchase to himself for a time the empire of Augustus, the riches of Croesus, the pleasures of Solomon, the voluptuous fare
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and fine apparel of the rich man? For what should it avail a man, as our Savior says—to win the whole world for a time, and then to lose his soul in hell forever?
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SOME WHO READ THESE LINES
The Life and Letters of John Angell James
Consider that the eternal loss of the soul is not a rare— but a very common occurrence! So far from being a rare thing for a soul to go to hell—it is a much rarer thing for them to go to heaven! Jesus tells us that the road to eternal destruction is thronged; while the way to eternal life is traveled by few. Hell opens its mouth wide—and swallows up multitudes in eternal perdition! Every day brings you nearer to everlasting bliss—or everlasting torments. You may die at any moment; and you are as near to heaven or hell—as you are to death. Some who read these lines will very likely spend their eternity in hell.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction—and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life—and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14
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SUNK DEEP IN THE MIRE
The Life and Letters of John Angell James
Most professing Christians are sunk deep in the mire of worldly-mindedness. Mammon is the wicked and shameful idol of the church.
Our churches are, in my opinion, far from a state of sound healthy piety. We have but little of what constitutes the essence of experimental religion.
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Everything is superficial. Our repentance, our faith, our love, our devotional habits—are all superficial! The world has….
engrossed men’s minds, absorbed their feelings,
starved their piety.
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SUCH A WRETCH YOU WOULD HAVE BEEN!
Thomas Brooks, “The Unsearchable Riches of Christ”
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you
with loving-kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3
There are but few upon whom God bestows His saving love. Tell me, are not the gifts which Christ has given you—rare gifts? What would you have been—if Christ had not made a difference between you and others—by those glorious gifts which He has conferred upon you? You look upon some, and see they are very ignorant of spiritual truth. O! What would you have been—if God had not bestowed saving knowledge upon you? You look upon others who are unclean, profane, and filthy. Why! such a wretch you would have been—if the Lord had not made a difference between you and them, by bestowing Himself, His grace, and Spirit upon you.
“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were! But you were washed, you were
sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” 1
Corinthians 6:9-11
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DIRT, HANDSOMELY FASHIONED
Thomas Brooks, “The Privy Key of Heaven” 1665
“All your life you will sweat to produce food, until your dying day. Then you will return to the ground
from which you came. For you were made from dust, and to the dust you will return.” Genesis 3:19.
Our bodies are but dirt, handsomely fashioned. We derive our pedigree from the dirt, and are akin to clay. One calls the body “the soul’s beast.” Another calls it “worms’ food.” Paul calls it “a body of vileness”.
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THE INFINITIES OF BLISS AND GLORY!
Henry Law, “Forgiveness of Sins” 1875
“It was the Lord’s will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer.”
Isaiah 53:10
The Father of all mercies heaped on Christ the out- pourings of His wrath; that He may heap on pardoned sinners the infinities of bliss and glory!
“Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:6
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A DOUBLE HELL
The Life and Letters of John Angell James
You who are poor—with this ‘pearl of great price’ to enrich you, with a title to a priceless inheritance, reserved in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay—to animate and comfort you; all the privations of your earthly poverty can be borne—not only with patience, but with cheerfulness.
The grace of God in the heart, the promise of God in the hand, and the glory of God in the eye—are enough
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to reconcile us to the longest life of the most dire poverty.
But poverty, without true piety—is to be poor indeed! To be both poor and wicked, is to have a double hell—a hell here, and a worse hell hereafter!
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ONE EVERLASTING MEMORIAL OF ANGUISH AND SUFFERING
John MacDuff, 1818–1895
“Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang—Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Revelation 5:11-12
What an anthem is this! No harp is unstrung, no voice silent. One strain thrills on every tongue—“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!” What an attestation to….
God’s immaculate holiness, His burning purity,
His unimpeachable rectitude, His boundless mercy!
In Heaven, there shall still be one everlasting memorial of anguish and suffering—in a place where pain never enters and suffering is unknown!
Accordingly, when the Redeemer puts the coronation anthem into the lips of His worshipers, He reveals Himself, not in the glories of Godhead—but as a slain Lamb, wearing the marks of humiliation. He tells them to make Calvary still their meditation, and His Cross and Passion the great center of eternity. The print of the nails in His hands, and the spear-mark in His side,
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are not the mementos of shame but of victory— remembrancers of a love whose depths the ages cannot fathom! The vision of the text thus becomes the mightiest of preachers, replete to the multitudes above, with the story of grace. There is a tongue in every wound of the glorified Sufferer—silently but expressively proclaiming the great love that He had for us!
As the slain Lamb, Jesus proclaims that the same heart which throbbed in anguish on the Cross—still beats on the Throne; that He is still the Almighty Friend. Precious assurance! Jesus unchanged and unchangeable! This same Jesus, who mingled His tears with the widow at the gate of Nain; who wept over the memory of a cherished friendship, and was melted in a flood of tenderest compassion over an apostate land; this same Jesus, who breathed balm-words of comfort on the very eve of His own agony, and in the midst of it welcomed a dying felon to Paradise—is now, with a heart of unaltered love and sympathy—wielding the scepter of universal empire!
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YOUR SPOTS AND BLOTS
Thomas Brooks, “The Unsearchable Riches of Christ” “The Lord our righteousness.” Jeremiah 23:6
“They are without fault before the throne of God.”
Revelation 14:5
Weak hearts are apt to sit down troubled and discouraged, when they look upon that body of sin which is in them, and those imperfections which attend their best services. They are ready to say, “We shall one day perish by the strength of our lusts, or by the defects of our services!” Oh but, to strengthen them against all
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discouragements, they should remember this—that they stand before God, clothed with the righteousness of their Savior. “They are without fault before the throne of God.” Revelation 14:5
So in Cant. 4:7, “All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you.” There is no flaw in God’s account. God looks upon weak saints in the Son of His love— and sees them all lovely. Ah, poor souls! you are apt to look upon your spots and blots, and to cry out with the leper not only “Unclean! unclean!” but “Undone! undone!” Well, forever remember this—that you stand before God in the righteousness of Christ; upon which account you always appear before the throne of God without fault; where you are all lovely, and where there is no flaw in you.
“They are without fault before the throne of God.” Rev.
14:5
Thomas Brooks, “The Unsearchable Riches of Christ”
“By the grace of God I am what I am!” 1 Corinthians 15:10 Whatever evil you behold in other men’s practices,
realize that you have the same evil in your own nature.
There is the seed of all sins, of the vilest and worst of sins—in the best of men. When you see a drunkard— you may see the seed of that sin in your own nature. When you see an immoral man—you may see the seeds of immorality in your own nature. If you are not as wicked as others—it is not because of the goodness of your nature—but from the riches of God’s grace!
Remember this—there is not a worse nature in hell than that which is in you, and it would manifest itself
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IF YOU ARE NOT AS WICKED AS OTHERS
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accordingly—if the Lord did not restrain it!
There was one who was a long time tempted to three horrid sins: to be drunk, to lie with his mother, and to murder his father. Being a long time followed with these horrid temptations, at last he thought to get rid of them, by yielding to what he judged the least, and that was to be drunk; but when he was drunk, he did both lie with his mother and murdered his father.
Why, such a hellish nature is in every soul that breathes!
And did God leave men to act according to their natures, all men would be incarnate devils, and this world a total hell. In your nature you have that that would lead you….
with the Pharisees—to oppose Christ; and with Judas—to betray Christ;
and with Pilate—to condemn Christ; and with the soldiers—to crucify Christ.
Oh, what a monster, what a devil you would be— should God but leave you to act suitable to that sinful and woeful nature of yours!
“By the grace of God I am what I am!” 1 Cor. 15:10
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DOLLS AND RATTLES
Thomas Brooks, “The Unsearchable Riches of Christ”
The thoughts and hearts of weak Christians are more taken up with the good things they have from Christ— than with Christ Himself. Oh, their graces, their comforts, their enlargements, their meltings, and their warmings, are the things which most absorb them. Their thoughts and hearts are so exercised about these things—that Christ Himself is much neglected by them.
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The child is so absorbed with dolls and rattles, that the mother is not thought of. And such is the behavior of weak Christians towards Christ.
Those who are strong in grace are more taken up with Christ Himself, than they are with His love-tokens. They bless Christ indeed for every grain of grace—but Christ Himself is more to them than all these. Christ is the most sparkling diamond in the ring of glory!
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RATTLES AND BAUBLES
Thomas Brooks, “The Unsearchable Riches of Christ”
Weak Christians are usually much concerned and taken up with the poor base things of this world. They are much in carking and caring for them, and in pursuing and hunting greedily after them. All which does clearly evidence—that their graces are very weak, and their corruptions very strong.
Certainly there is but little of Christ and grace within, where the heart is so strongly concerned about earthly things. Where there is such strong love and workings of heart after these poor things—it shows the soul’s enjoyment of God to be but poor and low. Those who are rich and strong in grace, look upon the world with a holy scorn and disdain.
The greatest bargain which a soul rich in grace will make with God for himself is this, “Give me but bread to eat and clothes to wear—and you shall be my God.” So it was with that brave soul in Genesis 28:21. Jacob desires but bread and clothing. Mark, he asks bread— not dainties; clothing—not ornaments.
Grown men prefer one piece of gold, above a thousand new pennies. A soul who is strong in grace, who is high in its spiritual enjoyments, prefers one good word from
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God, above all the dainties of this world. Souls who know by experience what the bosom of Christ is, what spiritual communion is, what the glory of heaven is— will not be put off with things which are mixed, mutable, and momentary. “Lord,” he prays, “Warm my heart with the beams of Your love—and then a little of these things will suffice.”
It is childish to be concerned more with the rattles and baubles of this world, than with heavenly riches.
A little of this world will satisfy one who is strong in grace, much will not satisfy one who is weak in grace, nothing will satisfy one who is void of grace.
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SATAN’S APES
Brooks, “The Unsearchable Riches of Christ”
Pride sets itself against the honor, being, and sovereignty of God. Other sins strike at the word of God, the people of God, and the creatures of God—but pride strikes directly at the very being of God. He bears a special hatred against pride.
It was pride which turned angels into devils. They would be above others in heaven—and therefore God cast them down to hell.
Pride is a sin which of all sins, makes a person most like Satan. Pride is Satan’s disease. Pride is so base a disease, that God had rather see His dearest children to be buffeted by Satan, than that in pride they should be like Satan.
Humility makes a man like to angels—and pride makes an angel a devil. Pride is worse than the devil, for the devil cannot hurt you until pride has possessed you.
If you would see the devil portrayed to the life—look
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upon a proud soul; for as face answers to face, so does a proud soul answer to Satan.
Proud souls are Satan’s apes, and none imitate him to the life like these. And oh that they were sensible of it, before it is too late, before the door of darkness be shut upon them!
“The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.” Prov. 16:5
IF THIS DOES NOT HUMBLE YOU
Thomas Brooks, “The Unsearchable Riches of Christ”
Dwell much upon the greatness of God’s mercy and goodness to you. Nothing humbles and breaks the heart, like God’s mercy and love. In Luke 7, the Lord Jesus shows mercy to that notorious sinner, and then she falls down at His feet, and loves much and weeps much, etc.
Oh, if ever you would have your souls kept humble, dwell upon the free grace and love of God to you in Christ! Dwell upon….
the firstness of His love,
the freeness of His love,
the greatness of His love,
the fullness of His love,
the unchangeableness of His love, the everlastingness of His love, and the ardency of His love.
If this does not humble you, there is nothing on earth which will do it. Dwell upon what God has undertaken for you. Dwell upon the choice and worthy gifts which He has bestowed on you. Dwell upon that eternal glory and happiness which He has prepared for you—and then be proud if you can.
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WATCH YOUR LIFE AND DOCTRINE CLOSELY
“Be an example to all believers in what you teach, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12
“A preacher’s life should be a commentary of his doctrine; his practice should be a counterpart of his sermons. Heavenly doctrines should always be adorned with a heavenly life.” (Thomas Brooks)
“We preach to people who must live forever in heaven or hell—with God or devils—in an eternity of joy or of torment!” (Thomas Doolittle)
“Watch your life and doctrine closely.” 1 Tim. 4:16 8
MEDITATE, PRACTICE, PRAY
Thomas Brooks, “The Unsearchable Riches of Christ”
You must meditate and dwell upon what you read; otherwise your pains and mine will be lost. The more any man is in the contemplation of truth, the more deep and firm impression is made upon his heart by truth. Heavenly meditation brings out the sweetness that is in divine truths. Not those who get most—but those who keep most, are richest. So not those who hear most, or read most—but those who meditate most, are most edified and enriched.
You must also practice and live out what you read. To read much and practice nothing—is to hunt much and catch nothing. Ah! what cause have most to sigh, that they have heard so much, and read so much—and yet done so little!
You must also pray over what you read. Many read much, and pray little, and therefore get little by all they read. Galen writes of a fish called Uranoscopos, that has
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but one eye, which looks continually up to heaven. When a Christian has one eye upon his book—the other should be looking up to heaven for a blessing upon what he reads!
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YOUR ENEMY!
Joseph Alleine, “Alarm to the Unconverted” 1671
“I myself, the Sovereign Lord, am now your enemy!”
Ezekiel 5:8
Unconverted sinner! You are not only against God—but God is against you! As there is no friend like Him—so there is no enemy like Him. As much as heaven is above the earth, omnipotence above impotence—so much more terrible is it to fall into the hands of the living God, than into the paws of bears and lions, yes, furies or devils! God Himself will be your tormentor! Who or what shall deliver you out of His hands? Sinner, I think this would go like a dagger to your heart—to know that God Himself is your enemy! Oh where will you go? Where will you shelter yourself?
The infinite God is engaged against you! He hates all workers of iniquity. Man, does not your heart tremble to think of your being an object of God’s hatred? “As surely as I live, when I sharpen My flashing sword and begin to carry out justice, I will bring vengeance on My enemies and repay those who hate Me!” (Deuteronomy 32:40-41)
The power of God is mounted like a mighty cannon against you. Sinner, the power of God’s anger is against you—and power and anger together make fearful work. There is no escaping His hands—no breaking loose from His prison.
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“O consider this, you who forget God, lest He tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver!” (Psalm 50:22)
Submit to mercy. Let not dust and stubble battle against the Almighty. “Woe to him who strives with his
Maker!” (Isaiah 45:9)
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PAYING FOR ADMITTANCE INTO HEAVEN
Horatius Bonar, “Bible Thoughts and Themes”
“He saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy.” Titus 3:5
Ritualism, or externalism, or traditionalism are all different forms of self-righteousness; man’s self-invented ways of pleasing or appeasing God, or paying for admittance into heaven. These forms of self-righteousness are a human apparatus for procuring God’s pardon. They are the means by which the performer of them hopes to win God’s favor—perhaps, also, man’s praise—most certainly, his own esteem.
Every act, or performance, or ceremony, which honors self, exalts self, or gives prominence to self—is an accursed thing. It is an abomination in the sight of God—however religious, or sacred, or solemn, or devout, it may seem to man.
It is to self-righteousness in some form or other, that man is always tending. Man attempts to make up for this badness, or to cover it over, by works, and devotions, and ceremonies. All this is pure self- righteousness.
The religion of self-righteousness in our day consists of works, feelings, fancies, music, rites, festivals, fasts, gestures, postures, garments. It is something which gratifies self; which pleases the natural man; which
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makes a man think well of himself; which gives a man something to do or to feel in order to earn pardon and merit heaven. Pride, religious pride, is at the root. Ritualism is man’s expression of rejection of Christ. It was self-righteous religion which crucified the Son of God. All human rites and ceremonies are man’s ways of getting rid of Christ. What can all these things do?
Can they save?
Can religious postures save?
Can religious garments save?
Can religious candles save?
Can religious music save?
Can religious architecture save?
Can religious cathedrals save?
No! They lead away from Jesus! They make void the cross, and trample on His blood!
“He saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy.” Titus 3:5
BUT NOW THE TUNE IS CHANGED
Joseph Alleine, “Alarm to the Unconverted” 1671
Conversion turns the bent of the affections. These all run in a new channel. Christ is now his hope. This is his prize. Here his eye is—here his heart. He is content to cast all overboard, as the merchant in the storm about to perish—so that he may but keep this jewel.
The first of his desires is not after gold—but grace. He hungers for it, he seeks it as silver, he digs for it as for hidden treasure. He had rather be gracious than great. He had rather be the holiest man on earth than the most learned, the most famous, the most prosperous. While carnal, he said, ‘O if I were but in great esteem, rolling in wealth, and swimming in pleasure—then I
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would be a happy man!’ But now the tune is changed.
‘Oh!’ says the convert, ‘if I had but my corruptions subdued, if I had such a measure of grace, and fellowship with God—though I were poor and despised, I would not care, I would account myself a blessed man!’
Reader, is this the language of your soul?
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WE HAVE BUT ADDED FUEL TO THOSE BURNING COALS!
Thomas Brooks, “A String of Pearls” 1657
“And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.” Matthew 25:46
Oh! what trouble of mind, what horror of conscience, what distraction and vexation, what terror and torment, what weeping and wailing, what crying and roaring,
what wringing of hands,
what tearing of hair,
what dashing of knees,
what gnashing of teeth
will there be among the wicked—when they shall see the saints in all their splendor, dignity, and glory—and themselves forever shut out of heaven!
Then shall the wicked lamentingly say, “Lo! these are the men whom we counted fools, madmen, and miserable! Oh but now we see that we were deceived and deluded! Oh that we had never despised them! Oh that we had never reproached them!
Oh that we had never trampled upon them! Oh that we had been one with them!
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Oh that we had imitated them!
Oh that we had walked as they, and done as they —that so we might now have been as happy as they! Oh but this cannot be!
Oh this may not be!
Oh this shall never be!
Oh that we had never been born!
Oh that now we might be unborn!
Oh that we might be turned into a bird, a beast, a toad,
a stone!
Oh that we were anything but what we are!
Oh that we were nothing!
Oh that now our immortal souls were mortal!
Oh that we might die—so that we may not eternally
exist!
But it is now too late!
Oh we see that there is a reward for the righteous! And we see, that by all the contempt which we have cast upon these glorious shining saints, whose splendor and glory does now darken the very glory of the sun, that we have but treasured up wrath against the day of wrath! We have but added fuel to those burning coals, to those everlasting flames—in which we must now lie forever! “And they cried to the mountains and the rocks—Fall on us and hide us from the face of the One who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb!”
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NO MIND HAS IMAGINED
Thomas Brooks, “A String of Pearls” 1657
Surely there is no believer but who finds that sometimes sin interrupts his joy, and sometimes Satan disturbs his joy, and sometimes afflictions eclipse his joy. Sometimes the cares of the world, and sometimes the snares of the world, and sometimes the fears of the
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world—mar his joy.
Here on earth, our joy is mixed with sorrow; our rejoicing with trembling. The most godly have….
sorrow mixed with their joy,
water mixed with their wine,
vinegar mixed with their oil,
pain mixed with their ease,
winter mixed with their summer, etc.
But in heaven, they shall have…. joy without sorrow,
light without darkness, sweetness without bitterness, summer without winter,
health without sickness, honor without disgrace, glory without shame, and life without death.
“In His presence is fullness of joy, and at His right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11
Mark—
for quality—there are pleasures; for quantity—fullness;
for dignity—at God’s right hand; for duration—forevermore.
And millions of years multiplied by millions, do not make up one minute of this eternity of joy which the saints shall have in heaven! In heaven there shall be no sin to take away your joy, nor any devil to take away your joy, nor any man to take away your joy!
As they shall have in heaven pure joy, so they shall have in heaven fullness of joy. Here on earth all joy is at an ebb—but in heaven is the flood of joy! Here shall be joy above joy, joy surmounting all joy. Here shall be such great joys—as no geometrician can measure; so many
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joys—as no arithmetician can number; and such wonderful joys—as no rhetorician can utter, had he the tongue of men and angels!
Sometimes great crosses, sometimes hard losses, and sometimes unexpected changes—turn a Christian’s harping into mourning.
Here shall be joy within you, and joy without you, and joy above you, and joy beneath you, and joy about you. Joy shall spread itself over all the members of your bodies, and over all the faculties of your souls.
In heaven,
your knowledge shall be full, your love full,
your visions of God full,
your communion with God full, your enjoyment of God full,
and your conformity to God full;
and from thence will arise fullness of joy.
If all the earth were paper, and all the plants of the earth were pens, and all the sea were ink, and if every man, woman, and child, had the pen of a ready writer; yet they would not able to express the thousandth part of those joys which saints shall have in heaven!
All the joy which we have here in this world is but pensiveness—compared to that joy which we shall have in heaven. All the pleasure which we have here in this world is but heaviness—compared to that joy which we shall have in heaven. All sweetness which we have here in this world is but bitterness—compared to that joy which we shall have in heaven.
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love
Him.” 1 Cor. 2:9
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THIS IS NOT YOUR RESTING-PLACE
Thomas Brooks, “A String of Pearls” 1657
This life is full of trials, full of troubles, and full of changes. Sin within, and Satan and the world without, will keep a Christian from rest, until he comes to rest in the bosom of Christ. The life of a Christian is a race—and what rest have those who are still a-running their race? The life of a Christian is a warfare—and what rest have those who are still engaged in a constant warfare? The life of a Christian is the life of a pilgrim— and what rest has a pilgrim, who is still a-traveling from place to place? The fears, the snares, the cares,
the changes, etc., which attend believers in this world, are such that will keep them from taking up their rest here. A Christian hears that word always sounding in his ears, “Arise, for this is not your resting-place, because
it is polluted.” Micah 2:10. A man may as well expect to find heaven in hell—as expect to find rest in this world! Rest is a jewel very desirable on earth; but we shall not wear it in our bosoms until we come to heaven.
Man’s sorrows begin when his days begin, and his sorrows are multiplied as his days are multiplied; his whole life is but one continued grief:
labor wears him, care tears him,
fears toss him, losses vex him, dangers trouble him, crosses disquiet him, nothing pleases him.
The rest reserved in heaven for believers is a universal rest—
a rest from all sin;
a rest from all sorrow;
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a rest from all afflictions;
a rest from all temptations;
a rest from all oppression;
a rest from all vexations;
a rest from all labor and pains;
a rest from all trouble and travail;
a rest from all aches, weaknesses, and diseases.
“Blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, they are blessed indeed, for they will rest from all their toils and trials!” Rev. 14:13
WHAT DO YOU NOW THINK OF THE
DELIGHTS OF SIN?
Thomas Doolittle, “How we should eye eternity, that it may have its due influence upon us in all we do.”
Death is our passing out of time into eternity.
Death is dreadful to the ungodly, because it opens the door into everlasting misery. Did you who are yet Christless, impenitent, and unbelieving, see where you are going, and where you must within a little time take up your everlasting lodgings—what fear and trembling would seize upon you! Before your bodies are carried by men unto your graves, your souls will be dragged by devils into hell! If you sleep on in sin until you die, you will be awakened by the flames of hell!
Sin would plunge you into unseen, eternal torments, into endless flames and everlasting burnings. If you could speak with a soul departed into hell but a month ago, and ask him, “What do you now think of the delights of sin, of your pleasant cups and delightful games, of your pleasing of the flesh, and gratifying of its lusts?”
What a sad reply would he return, and what a doleful answer would he make! “Sin! O sin was my ruin! It was
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sin which has brought me (miserable wretch!) to everlasting torment! It was sin which shut me out of heaven—and sank me down to hell! The devil showed me the delights of sin—but concealed from me the extremity and eternity of the pain which sin has brought me to! The pleasure is past—but the pain continues, and I am lost forever! All this sin has brought me to!”
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O, MY SON, MY SON!
Thomas Doolittle, “How we should eye eternity, that it may have its due influence upon us in all we do”
You parents, why do you not bewail the doleful state of your unsaved children, who in their sinful courses, are hastening to eternal pains?
“What, my son! the son of my womb! did I bear you with so much sorrow—and shall you be eternally damned? Did I travail with you with so much pain, and brought and nursed you up with so much labor—and must you be forever fuel for the flames of hell? Have I brought forth my child to be a prey to devils, and a companion with them to all eternity? O, my son, my son! what shall I do for you, my son, my son!”
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THE SAINTS’ HELL—AND THE SINNERS’ HEAVEN
Thomas Brooks, “A String of Pearls” 1657
“And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.” Matthew 25:46
This present life is the saints’ hell—and the sinners’ heaven.
The next life will be the saints’ heaven—and the sinners’ hell.
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Here on earth wicked men have their heaven, hereafter they shall have their hell. The time of this life is the day of their joy and triumph; and when this short day is ended—then eternal lamentations, mournings, and woes follow!
Ah sinners! sinners! that day is hastening upon you, wherein you shall have….
punishment without pity, misery without mercy, sorrow without support, pain without pleasure, and torments without end!
Ah, sinners! sinners! Ah! your portion is below, and you are already adjudged to those torments which are endless, easeless, and remediless; where the worm never dies, and the fire never goes out! The day is coming upon you, sinners, when….
all your sweet shall be turned into bitter; all your glory into shame;
all your plenty into scarcity;
all your joys into sorrows;
all your recreations into vexations; and
all your momentary comforts into everlasting
torments!
Thomas Brooks, “A String of Pearls” 1657
A man needs very little of this world’s goods to carry him through his pilgrimage, until he comes to his home—until he comes to heaven. A little will satisfy the demands of nature; though nothing will satisfy a man’s lusts!
“I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I
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THE SECRET OF BEING CONTENT
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am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well-fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.” Phil. 4:11-12
A Christian, in the midst of all his worldly delights, comforts, and entertainments, says, “Oh these are not the delights, the comforts, the contentments which my soul looks for, which my soul expects and hopes to enjoy. I look and hope….
for choicer delights,
for sweeter comforts,
for more satisfying contentments, for more durable riches!
A Christian’s motto always is, or always should be, “I hope for better things! I hope for better things than any the world can give to me, or than any that Satan can take from me!”
“They admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one.” Hebrews 11:13, 16
THE HAPPY EXCHANGE
Thomas Brooks, “A String of Pearls” A sermon preached in London in 1657, at the funeral of that triumphant saint, Mrs. Mary Blake
I heartily wish that all who are concerned in this sad loss, were more taken up in minding the happy exchange which Mary has made, than with your present loss.
She has exchanged: earth—for heaven,
a wilderness—for a paradise, a prison—for a palace,
a house made with hands—for one eternal in the –349–
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heavens,
imperfection—for perfection, sighing—for singing, mourning—for rejoicing, petitions—for praises,
the society of sinful mortals—for the company of God, pain—for ease,
sickness—for health,
a bed of weakness—for a bed of spices,
her brass—for silver,
her pennies—for gold,
her earthly contentments—for heavenly enjoyments, an imperfect, transient enjoyment of God—for a more
clear, full, perfect, and permanent enjoyment of God.
And as I desire that one of your eyes may be fixed upon her happiness—so I desire that your other eye may be fixed upon Christ’s fullness. Though your brook be dried up, yet Christ the fountain of light, life, love, grace, glory, comfort, joy, goodness, sweetness and satisfaction—is still at hand—and always full and flowing—yes, overflowing!
As the worth and value of many pieces of silver is contracted in one piece of gold—so all the sweetness, all the goodness, all the excellencies which are in husbands, wives, children, friends, etc., are concentrated in Christ! Yes, all the whole volume of perfections which is spread through heaven and earth— is epitomized in Christ!
Oh, that your hearts and thoughts were thus busied about Christ, and taken up with Christ, and with those treasures of wisdom, knowledge, grace, goodness, sweetness, etc., which are in Him! This would very much allay your grief and sorrow, and keep your hearts quiet and silent before the Lord.
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