Word of God
Never, never neglect the Word of God. The Word will make your heart rich with truth, rich with understanding, and then your conversation, when it flows from your mouth, will be like your heart—rich, soothing, and sweet. Make your heart full of rich, generous love, and then the stream that flows from your hand will be just as rich and generous as your heart. Above all, get Jesus to live in your heart, and then out of your heart will flow rivers of living water, more rich, more satisfying than the water of the well of Sychar of which Jacob drank. Oh! Go, Christian, to the great mine of riches, and cry to the Holy Spirit to make your heart rich unto salvation. Then your life and conversations will be a benefit to your fellow man; and when they see you, your face will be like an angel of God. Wise men will stand up when they see you, and men will give you respect and honor.
God has said it; men and women must serve Him—they must serve Him in His own way, and they must serve Him in His own strength too, or He will never accept their service. That which men and women do, unaided by divine strength, can never be accepted by God. There must be a consciousness of weakness before there can be any victory.
Life is nothing but death's hallway; and our pilgrimage on earth is but a journey to the grave. The pulse that preserves our life beats our death march, and the blood which circulates our life is floating it forward to the depths of death. Today we see our friends in health, tomorrow we hear of their death. Only yesterday, we shook hands with a strong man, and today we close his eyes. We rode in a coach of comfort only an hour ago, and in a few more hours the black hearse must carry us to the home of the living. Oh, how closely allied is death to life! The little lamb that plays in the field must soon feel the knife. The cow that lows in the pasture is fattening itself for the slaughter. Trees only grow to be cut down. Yes, and greater things than these feel death. Empires rise and flourish; they flourish only to fall into decay, they rise to fall. How often do we take up a history book, and read of the rise and fall of empires? We hear of the coronation and the death of kings. Death is the somber servant who rides behind the chariot of life. See life! and death is close behind it. Death reaches far throughout this world, and has stamped all earthly creatures with an arrow pointing to the grave. Stars die; it is said that large and destructive fires have been seen in outer space, and astronomers have marked the funerals of planets—the decay of those mighty spheres, that we had imagined set forever in sockets of silver, to glisten as the lamps of eternity.
But blessed be God, there is one place where death is not life's brother—where life reigns alone; "to live" is not the first syllable which is to be followed by the next, "to die." There is a land where the death bells are never tolled, where grave clothes are never put on, where graves are never dug. Blessed land beyond the skies! To reach it, we must die.
Nothingness of Man
My God! when I survey the infinite region of space, and see those magnificent spheres rolling through it all—when I consider how vast is your universe—so wide that an angel's wing might flap throughout all eternity and never reach a boundary—I marvel that you should look on insects so obscure as man. I have looked into my microscope and seen the short lived tiny insect on a leaf, and I have called him minute. I will not call him "tiny" again—compared with me, he is great, if I put myself in comparison with God. I am so little, that I shrink into nothingness when I behold the almightiness of Jehovah—so little that the difference between the microscopic animal and man dwindles into nothing, when compared with the infinite chasm between God and man.
Death of the Righteous
What a great sorrow that the good should die! That the righteous should fall! Death, why don't you cut down the poisonous tree? Why don't you mow down the poisonous plant? Why do you touch the tree that has provided shade for the weary people? Why do you touch the flower whose perfume has made the earth joyous? Death, why do you snatch away the excellent of the earth, in whom is all of our delight? If you would use your axe, use it on the trees that draw nourishment, but produce no fruit; then we would thank you. But why will you cut down the cedars, why will you fell the godly trees of Lebanon? O Death, why don't you spare the church? Why must the pulpit be hung in black; why must the missionary outpost be filled with weeping? Why must the godly family lose its spiritual leader, and the house its head? O Death, where are you? Don't touch the earth's holy things; your hands are not fit to pollute the Israel of God. Why do you put your hand on the hearts of the elect? Oh, stop, stop; spare the righteous, Death, and take the bad! But no, it must not be; death comes and smiles at the godliest of us all; the most generous, the most prayerful, the most holy, the most devoted must die. Weep, weep, weep, O church, for you have lost your martyrs; weep, O church, for you have lost your preachers, your holy men are fallen.
Weep fir tree, for the cedar has fallen, the godly fail, and the righteous are cut off. But stay awhile; I hear another voice. Say to the daughter of Judah, spare your weeping. Say to the Lord's flock, Cease, cease your sorrow; your martyrs are dead, but they are glorified; your ministers are gone, but they have ascended up to your Father and to their Father; your brethren are buried in the grave, but the archangel's trumpet will awaken them, and their spirits are even now with God.
Satan the Defeated Enemy
Death was the devil's chief defense; Christ boldly opposed the lion in his den, and fought him in his own territory; and when He took death from him, and dismantled that once impregnable fortress, He took away from him, not only that, but every other advantage that he had over the saint. And now Satan is a conquered foe, not only in the hour of death, but in every other hour and in every other place. He is an enemy, both cruel and mighty; but he is a foe who shudders and shrinks back when a Christian gets into battle with him; for he knows that though the fight may waver for a little while in his favor, the victory must fall on the side of the saint, because Christ by his death destroyed the devil's power.
One Must Fear to Believe
See that man drowning over here—I also see another in the water too. The one in the distance thinks he can swim—a life preserver is thrown to him; he believes that he is in no danger of drowning. Well, he clutches the life preserver very leisurely, and does not seem to grab it firmly. But this poor creature over here, he knows he cannot swim, he feels that he will soon drown. Now, put the means of escape near him and note how desperately he clutches it; how he seems as if he would drive his fingers through the life preserver! He clutches it for life or death; that is his all, for he must perish if he is not saved by that. Now, in this case, he who fears the most believes the most; and I do think it is sometimes the same with poor hopeless and lost spirits.
To Die is to Gain
Here we see through a glass that is dark and cloudy, but there we will see face to face. There, what "eye has not seen nor ear heard" will be fully revealed to us. There, paradoxes will be unraveled, mysteries made clear, obscure texts enlightened, confusing and questionable verses will be revealed as being amazingly simple and true. The least of all souls in heaven knows more of God than the greatest saint on the earth. The greatest saint on the earth may have it said of him, "Nevertheless he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." Not even our greatest preachers understand as much of theology as the lambs in the flock of glory. Not even the greatest masterminds of the earth understand one-millionth part of the mighty meanings which have been discovered by souls liberated from these bodies made from clay.
Yes, "To die is gain." Take away, take away that hearse, remove the covering of black, adorn it in white with bright shiny decorations. There, take away the music of the death march, rather lend me the trumpet and the drum. O hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah; why do we cry as the saints go to heaven? They are not dead, they have simply gone to heaven before us. Stop, stop that crying, hold back your tears, clap your hands, clap your hands.
"They are supremely blessed,
Are done with care and sin and woe,
And with their Savior they rest."
What! weep! weep! for heads that are crowned with crowns of heaven? Weep, weep for hands that hold the harps of gold? What, weep for eyes that see the Redeemer? What, weep for hearts that are washed from sin, and are throbbing with eternal bliss? What, weep for men and women that are in the Savior's arms? No! weep for yourselves, that you are here. Weep that the mandate has not come which commands you to die. Weep that you must remain. But not for them.
I see them turning back on you with loving wonder, and they exclaim, "Why do you weep? What, weep for poverty that is clothed in riches? What, weep for sickness, that has inherited eternal health? What, weep for shame, that is glorified; and weep for sinful mortality, that has become immaculate? Oh, do not weep, but rejoice. If you knew what it was that I have said to you, and where I have gone, you would rejoice with a joy that no one could take from you."
Satan's Attempts to Kill the Christ
When the Lord Jesus came down to earth, Satan knew his mission. He knew that the Lord Jesus was the Son of God, and when he saw Him as an infant in the manger, he thought if he could kill Him and get Him in the bonds of death, what a fine thing it would be! So he stirred up the spirit of Herod to kill Him; but Herod missed his mark. And many times Satan attempted to put the personal existence of Christ in danger, so that he might get Christ to die. Poor fool as he was, he did not know that when Christ died he would bruise the devil's head. Once, you remember, when Christ was in the synagogue, the devil stirred up the people, and made them angry; and he thought, "Oh! what a glorious thing it would be if I could kill this man; then there would be an end of Him, and I would reign supreme forever." So he got the people to take Him to the edge of the cliff, and he gloated over the thought that surely now He would be thrown down headfirst. But Christ escaped. He tried to starve Him, he tried to drown Him; He was in the desert without food, and He was on the sea in a storm; but there was no starving or drowning Him, and Satan no doubt panted for His blood, and longed that He would die. At last the day arrived; it was transmitted to the court of hell that at last Christ would die. They rung their bells with hellish elation and joy. "He will die now," he said; "Judas has taken the thirty pieces of silver. Let those Scribes and Pharisees get Him, they will no more let Him go than the spider will let go of a poor unfortunate fly. He is as good as dead."
And the devil laughed with excitement, when he saw the Savior stand before Pilate's judgment seat. And when it was said, "Let Him be crucified," then Satan’s joy knew no limits, except the limit set by his own misery. As far as he could, he rejoiced in what was to him a delightful thought, that the Lord of glory was about to die. In death, as Christ was being observed by angels, He also was seen by the demons too; and that dreary march from Pilate's palace to the cross, was one which the demons watched with extraordinary interest. And when they saw Him on the cross, there stood the exulting fiend, Satan, smiling to himself. "Ah! I have the King of Glory now in my control; I have the power of death, and I have the power over the Lord Jesus."
He exerted that power, until the Lord Jesus had to cry out in bitter anguish, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" But ah! how short lived was hellish victory. How brief was the Satanic triumph! He died; and "It is finished!" shook the gates of hell. Down from the cross the conqueror leaped, pursued the fiend with thunderbolts of wrath; swift to the darkness of hell the fiend flew, and swift descending went the conqueror after him; and we may conceive him exclaiming—"Traitor! this thunderbolt will find and pierce you through, Though under hell's deepest, darkest wave you seek to go, to find a sheltering grave." And He seize him—chained him to his chariot wheel; dragged him up the steeps of glory; angels shouting all the while, "He ascended on high, He led captives in his train and gave gifts to men." Now, devil, you said that you would overcome me, when I came to die. Satan, I defy you, and laugh you to scorn! My master overcame you, and I will overcome you yet.
You say you will overcome the saint, do you? You could not overcome the saint's Master, and you will not overcome him. You once thought you had conquered Jesus—you were bitterly deceived. Ah! Satan, you may think you will overcome the little faith and the faint heart; but you are wondrously mistaken—for we will assuredly tread Satan under our feet shortly; and even in our last moment on earth, with fearful odds against us, we will be "more than conquerors through Him that loved us."
River of God
The river of God is full of water; but there is not one drop of it that comes from earthly springs. God will have no strength used in His own battles but the strength which He himself imparts; and I would not have you that are now distressed to be the least discouraged by it. Your emptiness is but the preparation for your being filled; and your casting down is but the making ready for your lifting up.
Deal gently, deal kindly, deal lovingly and there is not a wolf in human shape that won't be melted by kindness; and there is not a tiger in woman's form that won't break down and beg for forgiveness, if God should bless the love that is brought to bear on her by her friend.
The Devil in Sheep's Clothing
If the devil comes to my door with his horns visible, I will never let him in; but if he comes with his hat on as a respectable gentleman, I would admit him at once. The metaphor may be very strange, but it is quite true. Many men and women has taken in an evil thing, because it has been varnished and glossed over, and did not appear evil; and they had thought in their hearts, there is not much harm in it; so they have let in the little thing, and it has been like the bursting forth of water—the first drop has brought after it a torrent. The beginning has been but the beginning of a fearful end.
Few are Blessed
If we could see things as they are—if we were not deceived by the masquerade of this feeble life—if we were not so easily taken in by the masks and dresses of those who act in this great drama, be it comedy or tragedy—if we could but see what men and women are behind the scenes, penetrate their hearts, watch their inner motions, and discern their secret feelings, we would find only a few who could bear the name of "blessed."
Do not harm the bodies of men and women; but destroy their sin with a stout heart and with a strong arm. Kill both the little sins and the great ones; let nothing be spared that is against God and His truth; but we have no war with the bodies of poor mistaken men and women.
Prayer Before Blessings
If we received the blessings without asking for them, we would think them mere common things; but prayer makes the common pebbles of God's worldly provisions more precious than diamonds; and our spiritual prayer cuts the diamond, and makes it glisten more. After a long chase, the hunter prizes the animal, because he has set his heart on it, and is determined to have it; and even more true, after a long hunger, he who then eats finds his food much more tasty. So prayer does sweeten the mercy. Prayer teaches us its preciousness. It is the reading over of the bill of sale, the account, the property lists, before the estate and the properties are actually transferred. We know the value of the purchase by reading over the will of it in prayer, and when we have groaned out our own expression of its matchless price, then it is that God bestows the blessing on us. Prayer goes before the blessing, because it shows us the value of it.
We hear, sometimes, a great deal said about possessing a full assurance of being a child of God; and then, every now and then, we hear of a doubt, a hope. As good Joseph Irons used to say, "They keep hope, hope, hoping—hop, hop, hopping—all their lives, because they can't walk." Little faith is always lame.
The Great Worker of Salvation
The great King, immortal, invisible, the Divine person, called the Holy Spirit—it is He who stimulates the soul, or else it would lie dead forever; it is He who makes it tender, or else it would never feel; it is He who imparts power to the Word preached, or else it could never reach further than the ear; it is He who breaks the heart, it is He who makes it whole; He, from first to last, is the great worker of Salvation in us, just as Jesus Christ was the author of Salvation for us.
God's Salvation for Sinners
As sure as God is God, if today you are seeking Him correctly, through Christ, the day will come when the kiss of full assurance will be on your lip, when the arms of sovereign love will embrace you, and you will know it to be true. You may have despised Him, but you will know Him yet to be your Father and your friend. You may have mocked His name; yet you will one day come to rejoice in it as better than pure gold. You may have refused to worship Him and despised His Word; but the day is coming when worship to Him will be your delight, and His Word your treasure. Yes, do not wonder; you may have plunged into the wretched house of sin and made your clothes black with sin; but you will one day stand before His throne white as the angels are; and that tongue that once cursed Him will yet sing His praise. If you are a real seeker, the hands that have been stained with lust will one day grab the harp of gold, and the head that has plotted against the Most High will yet be crowned with gold. Doesn’t it seem a strange thing that God should do so much for sinners? But strange though it seem, it will be strangely true.
The God Who Hears
Our God is not a god who sits in one perpetual dream; nor does He clothe Himself in such thick darkness that He cannot see; He is not like Baal who does not hear. True, He may not be concerned about battles; He does not care for the pomp and pageantry of kings; He does not listen to the sound of military music; He does not regard the triumph and the pride of man; but whenever there is a heart full of sorrow, wherever there is an eye filled with tears, wherever there is a lip quivering with agony, wherever there is a deep groan, or a sorrowful sigh, the ear of Jehovah is wide open; He marks it down in the registry of his memory; He puts our prayers, like rose leaves, between the pages of His book of remembrance, and when the volume is finally opened, there will be a precious fragrance springing up from there.
A New World Coming
God's good pleasure is, that this world will one day be totally redeemed from sin; God's good pleasure is, that this poor planet, so long covered in darkness, will soon shine out in brightness, like a new-born sun. Christ's death has done it. The stream that flowed from His side on Calvary will cleanse the world from all its wickedness. That hour of mid-day darkness was the rising of a new sun of righteousness, which will never cease to shine upon the earth. Yes, the hour is coming, when guns and cannons will be forgotten things, when the harness of war and the pageantry of pomp will all be laid aside as food for the worm or the contemplation of the curious. The hour approaches when old Rome will shake on Her seven hills, when Mohammed's crescent will no longer increase on the earth, when all the gods of the heathens will lose their thrones and be cast out to the moles and to the bats; and then, from the equator to the poles Christ will be honored, the Lord paramount on earth, when from land to land, from the river even to the ends of the earth, one King, will reign, one shout will be heard, "Hallelujah, hallelujah, the Lord God Omnipotent reigns."
Christ Our Food
Without bread, I become thin like a skeleton; and, in time, I will die. Without thought, my mind becomes dwarfed, yes, and it deteriorates until I become an idiot, with a soul that just has life, but little more. And without Christ, my spirit must become a vague, shadowy emptiness. It cannot live unless it feeds on that heavenly manna which came down from heaven. Now the Christian can say, "The life that I live is Christ;" because Christ is the food on which he feeds, and the sustenance of his newborn spirit.
The Joy of a Newborn
Sinner, let this be your comfort, that God sees you when you begin to repent. He does not see you with His usual gaze, with which He looks on all men and women, but he sees you with an eye of intense interest. He has been looking at you in all your sin, and in all your sorrow, waiting for you to repent; and now He sees the first gleam of grace, and He beholds it with joy. Never a soldier on the lonely castle top saw the first gray light of morning with more joy than that with which God beholds the first desire in your heart. Never a physician rejoiced more when he saw the first heaving of the lungs in one that was supposed to be dead, than God rejoices over you, now that He sees the first symptom of good.
Christian, Do Not Worry
I have seen the Christian man in the depths of poverty, when he lived from hand to mouth, and scarcely knew where he would find the next meal, still with his mind unruffled, calm, and quiet. If he had been as rich as a prince, he could not have had less care; if he had been told that his bread would always be delivered to his door, and the stream which ran fast by should never run dry—if he had been quite sure that ravens would bring him bread and meat in the morning, and again in the evening, he would not have been one, bit more calm.
Our Friends in Heaven
Oh, I believe that on the day we die that we will see the bright spirits that are now before the throne; to grip the hand of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, to look into the face of Paul the apostle, and shake the hand of Peter; to sit in flowery fields with Moses and David, to bask in the sunlight of bliss with John and Magdalene. Oh, how blessed! The company of poor imperfect saints on earth is good; but how much better the society of the redeemed. Death is no loss to us by way of friends. We leave a few, a little group below, and say to them, "Do not fear, little flock," and we ascend and meet the armies of the living God—the multitudes of His redeemed. "To die is gain."
If anyone would ask me for a summation of the Christian religion, I would say, it is in that one word—"prayer." If I would be asked, "What will take in the whole of the Christian experience?" I would answer, "Prayer." A man must have been convinced of sin before he could pray; he must have had some hope that there was mercy for him before he could pray. In fact, all the Christian virtues are locked up in that word, prayer. If you tell me, that you are a person of prayer, then I will reply at once, "Sir, I have no doubt of the reality, as well as the sincerity, of your religion."
The Chosen Ones
In the very beginning, when this great universe was in the mind of God, like unborn forests in a cup of acorns; long before the echoes walked in the quiet solitudes; before the mountains were brought forth; and long before the light flashed through the sky, God loved His chosen men and women. Before there were men and women—when the heavens were not yet fanned by an angel's wing; when space itself did not exist; when there was nothing but God alone; even then, in that loneliness of Deity, and in that deep quiet and depth, His heart moved for His chosen ones, His elect ones. Their names were written on His heart, and they became dear to His soul.
The Elect of the Elect
There are elect out of the elect, I will acknowledge, as to gifts and standing, and as to the works they may accomplish in this world; but there is no election out of the elect on the basis of a deeper extent of the love of God. They are all loved the same; they are all written in the same book of eternal love and life.
The Rich Church
When I hear of a church where everyone is wealthy and members of the upper class of our society, then I always say farewell to them, for where there are no poor people, the ship will soon sink. If there are no poor, then, Christ will soon give them some, if they are a real Gospel church.
Oh! It is a glorious fact, that prayers are noticed in heaven. The poor broken hearted sinner, going into their bedroom, bends their knee, but can only utter their mournful cry in the language of sighs and tears. Look! that groan has made all the harps of heaven thrill with music; that tear has, been caught by God, and put into a vase made especially for tears, to be perpetually preserved. The tearful praying Christian, whose distress prevents his words, will be clearly understood by the Most High.
Slow Moving Christians
You crippled ones! I don't fear; you will not be thrown out. Two snails entered the ark; how they got there, I don’t know. It must have taken them a long time. They must have started rather early, unless Noah took them part of the way. So, some of you are snails; you are on the right road, but it will take a long while, unless some blessed Noah helps you into the ark.
God Knows His Children
Jesus recognizes His family when their sins make them as black as the tents of Kedar, and He knows they will be as bright as the curtains of Solomon. He knows His children when they do not know themselves; when they believe they are lost beyond recovery, or when they foolishly conceive that they can save themselves.
Living in the Light of God
Give me the support of God, and I can easily bear the insults of men. Let me lay my head on the chest of Jesus, and I will not fear the interruptions of anxieties and trouble. If my God will forever give me the light of His smile, and a glimpse of His blessing—it will be enough. Come on enemies, persecutors, demons, yes, the Devil himself, for "the Lord God is my sun and shield." Gather, you clouds, and surround me, I carry a Sun within me; blow, wind of the frozen north, I have a fire of living coal within me; yes, death, kill me, but I have another life—a life in the light of God's countenance.
Backsliders! fallen ones! God will have mercy on you if you are repentant. Glorious fact! the sorrowing backslider will not be left behind. Backsliders will sing above, as God's restored children, He has forever loved. Blind and crippled ones! believe in the Lord, and you will be found among the children of the Lamb at last.
You may erect little thrones for those whom you love; but God's throne must be the glorious high throne; you may set your loved ones on the steps leading up to His throne, but God must sit on the very seat itself. He is to be enthroned, the royal One within your heart, the king of your affections.
Do not Love the World
Hate the world, value its treasure at a cheap price, estimate its gems as nothing but fakes, and its strength as nothing but dreams. Do not think that you will lose any pleasure, but rather remember the saying of that early Church leader Chrysostom, "Despise riches, and you will be rich; despise glory, and you will be glorious; despise injuries, and you will be a conqueror; despise rest, and you will gain rest; despise the earth, and you will gain heaven!"
I gaze on beauty, and may myself be deformed. I admire the light, and may yet dwell in darkness, but if the light of the face of God rests on me, I will become like Him. The characteristics of His appearance will be on me, and the great outline of His attributes will be mine. Oh, wondrous mirror, which renders the beholder lovely! Oh, admirable mirror, which does not reflect self with its imperfections, but gives a perfect image to those that are unattractive.