Grace Gems for SEPTEMBER, 2015
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Our only and all-sufficient portion!
(Jared Waterbury, "Meditations and Prayers" 1840)
"Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it — and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun!" Ecclesiastes 2:11
The author of the book of Ecclesiastes gives us his experience of the unsatisfying nature of all worldly honors and pleasures. Everything that could . . .
please the eye,
charm the ear,
gratify the taste, or
amuse and enrich the mind —
was by him, sought and enjoyed. The whole circle of earth's pleasures was tested. But in the end, all is pronounced "vanity and a striving after wind."
The disappointment results from the very nature of the soul. Its capacity being illimitable — no finite enjoyment can fully meet its enlarged desires. Nothing but a faithful discharge of duty, and the approving smile of God can make the soul happy. Give the soul whatever you will — gratify every earthly wish — it will still be wretched if it is without God. All below is vanity.
The consideration that all worldly good must so soon be relinquished, is of itself enough to cast a shadow over its enjoyment. The heart must feel that there is nothing permanent here in this poor world.
"Life is but a vapor."
All earth-born pleasures are transitory.
Death withers every flower as soon as it blooms.
Man too is hurried to the tomb — and then forgotten.
If then all below is stamped with vanity — then O, let us seek our all in God. Let us relinquish in desire, what we have been accustomed so much to value — that the soul may start anew in the race for a prize worthy of her struggles, and which when obtained will amply reward her toils. Let us fix our eye on the "Unfading crown of glory!" Let us deliberately renounce this vain world, and take God for our only and all-sufficient portion!
Whether on earth we are known or unknown, honored or despised; let us seek after this one thing:
to secure the favor of God;
to enjoy His presence; and
at last to be with Him and inherit His glorious eternal kingdom!
Unsatisfying, O Lord, as the world is — still a strange infatuation exists within our hearts, which leads us to covet its distinctions and its pleasures. As far as you have permitted us to test the world's power to produce happiness — we have been invariably disappointed. We have found it to be "vanity and vexation of spirit."
Its sweetest pleasures have turned bitter in the enjoyment.
Its loveliest scenery cannot charm us, apart from You.
Its honors — so far as obtained — have proved but empty bubbles.
Yet why, O Lord, do we still hanker after these vain delights? Why do we not learn to evaluate them at their true worth? Come into our souls, with all Your fullness, and then our hearts will quickly bid adieu to them. You know that we are never satisfied — never happy — when we are not living unto You, and holding sweet communion with You. You know how weary is our soul — though surrounded with earthly good — if You are not with us, or if we have failed to place You first in our affections! We will return to our rest — we fly to You our God once more. Heavenly Father, hear our humble prayer, for Jesus' sake. Amen.
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Should we not be prepared to kiss it?
(Jared Waterbury, "Meditations and Prayers" 1840)
"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose!" Romans 8:28
The believer, when smarting under the rod of temporal distress — is often ready to say with Jacob, "All these things are against me!" Owing to the weakness of his faith, he concludes that "God has forgotten him." He forgets that "Whom the Lord loves, He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives" — that his Lord once said, "Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows." To sink down under troubles, and conclude that there is no relief for us — is to distrust our Father's care — and to doubt His everlasting love for us.
It may not seem good to God, who orders each event of our lives — to grant us the prosperity which we naturally desire. He may discover in us so much remaining depravity — developed in the forms of pride, sensuality, or self-seeking — as to make it necessary to visit us with the rod of correction. When that rod is intended to extirpate these sins — should we not be prepared to kiss it? Is not God's rod designed to wean us from the world — and to drive us more closely to the bosom of eternal love? "All things" — including of course these very trials and afflictions — God causes to work together for our good.
Are we sick and suffering in body? Let us not despair. The affliction shall work for our good. Relief will come in due time. Or if the sickness "be unto death," God can make it conducive to a calm or triumphant departure.
Are you poor, and apprehensive that your needs may not be supplied? O trust in your Father's care, who will "withhold no good thing from those who walk uprightly."
Do enemies beset your path? God can change the bitterest of them into friends — or can defend and deliver you from their ire.
And what though all these afflictions press upon the soul at once — even then the promise is not nullified — it is only made the more precious!
Doubt not that His mercy is in your every trial and affliction.
And always remember, that when Heaven is attained, these sorrows will be felt no more forever!
How precious, O God, are Your promises! They apply to us, your sinful and suffering children, under all circumstances. You have declared, that all of us must be partakers of chastisement. You have promised that the way to Your abode is rough and thorny. Why, then, should we fear to walk in it? Why wish to tread a smooth and easy path? We desire that measure of faith which shall recognize Your direct agency in every event of our lives!
O Lord, whatever be our earthly lot, joyous or sad — one sweet promise shall gild the darkest hours of our existence. We shall be cheered by the thought that You cause all things to work together for our good! And when we have done and suffered Your will on earth — we shall be admitted to Your glory, to see Your face and to sing Your praises forever. Amen.
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We are like that dove!
(Jared Waterbury, "Meditations and Prayers" 1840)
"But the dove could find no resting place to set its feet because there was water over all the surface of the earth. So it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark." Genesis 8:9
This passage has been beautifully applied to the condition of a Christian wandering over earth in search of rest — and disappointed, returning at length to his Savior — glad to be received again into His bosom, where alone there is peace. Surely he who has been accustomed to drink at the pure fountain of spiritual joy, can never find rest for the soul in this polluted world.
How true is it, that to one whose affections have been directed to things above — earthly pleasures seem to have lost their usual relish. No prospect however beautiful — no pleasures however tantalizing can be enjoyed — without the associated presence and blessing of God. Yet when God is recognized in them, and the heart is properly affected towards Him — then do even earthly scenes acquire an additional interest.
But let the Christian lose sight for a season of his heavenly inheritance, and wander over earth's surface in search of worldly good — how soon will he find an unsatisfying vacuity, where not even an olive leaf shall be found to greet his eye or to cheer his heart. The Christian may so far backslide, as to wish to explore anew the world which he professes to have forsaken — and God may allow him to do so. But O how soon his wing will tire, and his prospect become gloomy! Glad will he be to return and flutter around the ark, longing to be taken in, where he can once more feel himself happy and at home. And Jesus kindly extends His hand to take us in — even when we have sinfully wandered from His loving arms.
Why is it that we can be so often deceived? Have we not tried the world — and have we not been disappointed in the pursuit? Never again then let us leave the sacred ark — never again wander from our Lord.
Ever blessed God, You have taught us to find our supreme felicity in You — for You are an all-sufficient portion. But O how prone are we to wander from You — to forsake "You, the fountain of living waters, and hew out cisterns — broken cisterns that can hold no water."
But away from You, how can we he happy? How soon does sadness invade our hearts, and sorrow sit upon our eye-lids! The creature cannot make us blessed. We have tried the creature — and found all on earth to be but vanity. Wander where we will — from place to place, from pleasure to pleasure — all is unsatisfying, if you O God are absent.
We are like that dove, when out of the ark, which saw itself surrounded by one wide waste of waters. How glad was she to get back within her sacred retreat! Just so, O Savior, would we gladly flee into Your loving arms. We will search no longer for happiness here below. Henceforth, let us repose on Your kind bosom. Let us feel a holy indifference to the attractions of this deceitful world. May it be our privilege to be taken at last unto that secure ark — that glorious Heaven where no storms can come, and no temptations allure our souls away from you. Amen.
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I have this against you!
(Jared Waterbury, "Meditations and Prayers" 1840)
"Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love." Revelation 2:4
Have we lost or left our first love? If so, then has God something against us.
O, has not some secret evil been in operation to cool our love — to abate our zeal — to separate us from our heavenly Father's smile?
Is it the love of the world?
Is it the love of the creature?
Is it ambitious designs, or sensual indulgence?
Search us, O God — and enable us to search ourselves.
O we have to mourn over the sad decay in our spiritual affections. A thousand temptations have pressed in upon us; and by yielding we have driven ourselves from You and become cold in Your service. Well might You cast us off for our almost perpetual backslidings. But You, O God, are unchangeable. "Those whom You love — You love to the very end!" This is our hope.
We come to You, immutable Jehovah, and beg You to receive Your guilty but returning children. Embrace us once more in the arms of Your eternal love. O, let us once more rejoice in Your Fatherly smiles. We have been wretched in our wanderings — our souls can find happiness in nothing but Yourself. We do therefore renew our vows to be Yours — yes, Yours forever. Bind us to You "by the cords of love." Fasten our affections to the cross of Jesus! Never, O never more let us wander. Amen.
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Do not forget!
(Jared Waterbury, "Meditations and Prayers" 1840)
"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all His benefits." Psalm 103:2
Were a kind earthly parent to be hourly bringing us new tokens of his favor — would we not express our gratitude for such favors? Why then are we not found praising our heavenly Father, "Who daily loads us with benefits," and "who gives us richly all things to enjoy?"
O, the very abundance and constancy of His gifts seem, in some instances, to harden the heart. Ungrateful man! Often do days and weeks pass away marked by this guilty forgetfulness.
Is it possible, that we can forget that Being "in whom we live and move and have our being" — whose hand is open to satisfy our every reasonable desire, and to whose protecting care we owe our safety? Above all, can we forget the love which He has bestowed upon us, in giving His dear Son to die for our sins — or the compassion which our Savior has manifested in dying to redeem us? Never, never let us forget these infinite favors!
O God, You have given all nature as a vast storehouse for the supply of our needs. And yet too seldom have we eaten our "bread with gladness and singleness of heart."
Through what troubles have You carried us!
From what billows of adversity have You rescued us!
In what perils have You guarded us!
Ten thousand thousand mercies have fallen around our paths!
In darkness, You have been our light.
In sorrow, You have been our consolation.
In despondency, You have been our only trust and stay.
You have been our guide through all our weary pilgrimage.
And O, above all, and as if to crown all, You have given us Your only begotten Son — and have sweetly constrained us to come for salvation.
And shall we forget all these benefits? Shall we, in view of them, refuse to praise You? O, forgive our past ingratitude. Let us pour forth our praises unceasingly to God and to the Lamb. Let us praise the Lord for His innumerable and unmerited mercies. Touch these cold, unfeeling hearts with Your grace; soften them into penitence; and awake in them a permanent feeling of gratitude and love. For the sake of our Advocate and adorable Redeemer. Amen.
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What the human heart craves!
"Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward!" Job 5:7
"Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows." John 16:33
The testimony of Scripture, that "man is born to trouble," is continually echoed by thousands who know nothing of the Scriptures, but simply speak the language of their own experience. The world, nearly all men agree, is full of trouble. It is a true saying, that we . . .
come into life crying,
pass through it complaining,
and leave it disappointed.
Of all God's creatures, none is so vulnerable to sorrow, as man. Body, and mind, and affections, and family, and property — are all liable in their turn to become sources and avenues of sorrow. And from this, no rank or class possesses any immunity. There are sorrows . . .
for the rich — as well as the poor,
for the learned — as well as the unlearned,
for the young — as well as the old,
for the castle — as well as the cottage.
And neither wealth, nor science, nor high position can prevent their forcing their way into our homes, and breaking in upon us sometimes like an armed man! These are ancient things, I know; the poets and philosophers of old Greece and Rome knew them as well as we do. But it is well to be put in remembrance.
What shall best help man to meet and bear sorrow? That is the question! If our condition is such, since the Fall, that we cannot escape sorrow — then what is the surest remedy for making it tolerable? The cold lessons of Stoicism have no power in them. Resignation and submission to the will of God are excellent things to talk about in fine weather. But when . . .
the storm strikes us,
and our hearts ache,
and our tears flow,
and gaps are made in our family circle,
and our friends fail us,
and our money makes itself wings,
and sickness lays us low —
then we need something more than abstract principles and general lessons. We need a living, personal Friend — a Friend to whom we can turn with firm confidence that He can help and sympathize with us.
We have One sitting at the right hand of God, as our sympathizing Friend, who has all power to help us, and can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities — even Jesus, the Son of God. He knows the heart of a man and all his conditions, for He Himself was born of a woman, and took part of flesh and blood. He knows what sorrow is, for He Himself in the days of His flesh wept, and groaned, and grieved. He has proved His love towards us . . .
by suffering for thirty-three years in this world,
by a thousand acts of kindness,
by ten thousand words of consolation,
and by finally dying for us on the cruel cross.
I can imagine no truth more suited to man's needs than this. Rules, and principles, and prescriptions, and instructions in times of sorrow are all very well in their way — but what the human heart craves is a personal friend to go to, to talk to, to lean back upon, and commune with. The risen Christ, living and interceding for us at God's right hand, is precisely the Person that we need.
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Who is this amazing spectacle of woe and torture?
(Samuel Davies, "The Preaching of Christ Crucified, the Means of Salvation")
"Christ died for the ungodly!" Romans 5:6
In the cross of Christ, God's hatred to sin is manifested in the most striking light — and the evil of sin is exposed in the most dreadful colors! Now it appears, that such is the divine hatred against all sin, that God can by no means forgive sin, without punishment; and that all the infinite benevolence of His nature towards His creatures cannot prevail upon Him to pardon the least sin — without an adequate atonement.
Nay, now it appears that when so malignant and abominable a thing is but imputed to His dear Son, His co-equal, His darling, His favorite — that even He could not escape unpunished — but was made a monument of vindictive justice to all worlds!
What can more strongly expose the evil of sin — than the cross of Christ? Sin is such an intolerably malignant and abominable thing, that even a God of infinite mercy and grace, cannot let the least instance of it pass unpunished!
It was not a small thing which could arm God's justice against the Son of His love. Though He was perfectly innocent in Himself — yet when He was made sin for us — God spared not His own Son — but delivered Him up unto death — the shameful, tormenting, and accursed death of the cross!
Go, you fools, who make a mock at sin! Go and learn its malignity and demerit — at the cross of Jesus!
WHO is it that hangs there writhing in the agonies of death . . .
His hands and feet pierced with nails,
His side gashed with a spear,
His face bruised with blows,
drenched with tears and blood,
His heart melting like wax,
His whole frame racked and disjointed,
forsaken by His friends, and even by His Father,
tempted by devils,
and insulted by men?
Who is this amazing spectacle of woe and torture? It is . . .
Jesus, the eternal Word of God,
God's Elect, in whom His soul delights,
God's beloved Son, in whom He is well pleased!
And WHAT has He done? He did no wickedness; He knew no sin — but was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.
And WHY then, all these dreadful sufferings from Heaven, earth, and Hell?
Why, He only stood in the law-place of sinners
— He only received their sin by imputation.
And you see what it has brought upon Him!
You see how low it has reduced Him!
What a horrid evil must that be — which has such tremendous consequences, even upon the Darling of Heaven!
Oh! what still more dreadful havoc would SIN have made, if it had been punished upon the sinner himself in his own person! Surely all the various miseries which have been inflicted upon our guilty world in all ages, and even all the punishments of Hell — do not so loudly proclaim the terrible desert and malignity of sin — as the cross of Christ!
The infinite malignity of sin, and God's hatred to it, appear nowhere in so striking and dreadful a light — as in the cross of Christ! Let a reasonable creature take but one serious view of that cross — and surely he must ever after tremble at the thought of the least sin!
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In short, all must drink of the bitter cup!
(Jared Waterbury, "Meditations and Prayers" 1840)
"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble!" Psalm 46:1
"Man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upwards." The world in which we dwell is but "a valley of tears." Sin has caused these tears to flow; and every sinner must, sooner or later, pour in his contribution of personal grief, to swell the general tide of sorrows. The domestic circle must be invaded by the ruthless hand of death. Wealth may abound one day, to be followed by poverty the next; or even if retained, riches may prove a source of anxiety and temptation to its possessor. In short, all must drink of the bitter cup!
Alas, the poor lost sinner, who finds all his happiness in the things of earth — when these are gone, has nothing left. He has no shelter from the storm. It must beat upon his naked head. But not so the Christian. He can say, under the severest afflictions, "God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble!"
O what an unspeakable blessing to have an almighty support! How calming to the soul in the dark hour of adversity, to be able to pour all its sorrows into the bosom of God! When death has seemed to hover over us, to aim his shafts at us or ours — what sweet consolation have we found in God! In "the secret place of the Most High," we have been able to dwell safely. When the world without has been covered with gloom — all has been sunshine within. When the power of the tempter has overwhelmed us — the arm of Jesus has lifted us up and pointed out a way of escape. Whatever then are our trials, let us still trust in God — our "ever-present help in times of trouble." His promise — whatever is our situation, is "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness. So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me!" 2 Corinthians 12:9
O God, it is the hour of darkness for me. "Fearfulness and trembling have come upon us, and horror has overwhelmed us." Where can we look, but unto You? What now can be our support, but Your precious promises? You have declared Yourself to be "a refuge" to Your people, "their ever-present help in times of trouble." Often have Your redeemed people experienced the truth of this comforting declaration. When trouble and sorrow, fear and anxiety, have taken hold upon them — they have fled to this sweet refuge. They have poured out their souls unto You — and You have helped them in the time of their distress. You have calmed their rising fears, and enabled them to resign every event into Your nail-scarred hands. What peace has then pervaded their souls!
Let Your merciful loving-kindness then visit us in this hour of our tribulation. Hide not Your face from us. O speak peace to our troubled spirits. Hide us under the shadow of Your wings "until these calamities are over and past." Strengthen our faith to take a firm hold of Your promises, and let no vicissitudes of this life, no threatening dangers — shake our confidence in You or in Your declarations. For the sake of Jesus Christ, our hope and our Redeemer. Amen.
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Playing with monkeys and parrots!
(Thomas Watson, "The Christian's Charter")
"You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand!" Psalm 16:11
Eternity is the highest link of the saint's happiness! The believer shall be forever bathing in the pure and pleasant fountain of bliss! There is neither intermission nor expiration — in the joys of Heaven! When once God has set His plants in the celestial paradise — He will never again pluck them up! You may sooner separate light from the sun — than a glorified saint from Jesus Christ. O eternity, eternity! what a never-failing spring of delight will that be!
The glory of Heaven is infinitely satisfying! There is neither lack, nor excess. This cannot be properly said of anything but Heaven. You who look to the world for satisfaction — remember what the creature says, "It is not in me!" Heaven alone, is commensurate to the vast desires of the soul. Here the Christian cries out in a divine ecstasy, "I have enough, my Savior, I have enough!" O eternity, eternity! what a never-failing spring of delight will that be!
"You feed them from the abundance of Your own house, letting them drink from Your rivers of delight!" Psalm 36:8. Not drops — but rivers! These alone can quench the thirst. Every day in Heaven, shall be a feast! There is no lack at this feast! Here is soul-satisfaction! O the glory of this Paradise! It is more than we can ever imagine! There is:
There will God give us infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope! Is not this enough? What more could we ask for! A man could ask for million of worlds — but in Heaven God will give us more than we can ask — nay, more than we can ever imagine! We could imagine —
what if all the dust of the earth were turned to silver;
what if every stone were a wedge of gold;
what if every flower were a ruby;
what if every blade of grass were a pearl;
what if every sand in the sea were a diamond!
Yet all this is nothing — compared to the glory of Heaven! It is as impossible for any man in his deepest thoughts, to comprehend glory — as it would be for him to measure the Heavens with a ruler; or drain the oceans with a thimble. O incomparable place!
But why do I expatiate? These things are unspeakable and full of glory! Had I as many tongues as hairs on my head, I could never sufficiently set forth the beauty and resplendency of this blissful inheritance! Such is the excellence of this celestial paradise, that if the angels would take up their brushes to delineate it in its colors, they would but stain and eclipse the glory of it! I have given you only the dark shadow the picture — and that but crudely and imperfectly!
How should we be inflamed with desire to taste of those rare and sweet delicacies, which are above at God's right hand! O what madness is it for men to spin out their time, and tire out their strength — in pursuing the vanities of this world! Who would, for the indulging of a lust — forfeit so glorious an inheritance! Lay the whole world in scales with Heaven — it is lighter than vanity!
It is reported of Caesar, that traveling through a certain city, as he passed along, he saw some of the women playing with monkeys and parrots; at which sight he said, "What! have they no children to play with!"
So I say, when I see men toying with these earthly and beggarly vanities, "What! are there not more glorious and sublime things to mind!"
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The Trojan horse!
(Thomas Watson, "The Lord's Prayer")
"Deliver us from evil." Matthew 6:13
In this petition we pray to be delivered from the evil of our heart, that it may not entice us to sin.
The heart is the poisoned fountain, from whence all actual sins flow. "For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness." Mark 7:21-22
The cause of all evil lies in a man's own bosom — all sin begins at the heart! Lust is first conceived in the heart — and then it is midwifed into the world. Whence comes rash anger? The heart sets the tongue on fire. The heart is the shop where all sin is contrived and hammered out.
The heart is the greatest seducer, "Each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust." James 1:14. The devil could not hurt us — if our own hearts did not give consent. All that he can do is to lay the bait — but it is our fault to swallow it! How needful, therefore, is this prayer, "Deliver us from the evil of our hearts!"
It was Augustine's prayer, "Lord, deliver me from that evil man — myself!"
Beware of the bosom traitor — the flesh. The heart of a man is the Trojan horse — out of which comes a whole army of lusts! O let us pray to be delivered from the lusts and deceits of our own heart! "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life!" Proverbs 4:23
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He has done all things well!
LISTEN to Audio while you read along with the quote below!
"He has done all things well!" Mark 7:37
Yes, from first to last, from our cradle to our grave, from the earliest pang of sin's conviction, to the last thrill of sin's forgiveness, from earth to heaven — this will be our testimony in all the way the Lord our God has led us in the wilderness: "He has done all things well!"
In providence and in grace,
in every truth of His Word,
in every lesson of His love,
in every stroke of His rod,
in every sunbeam that has shone,
in every cloud that has shaded,
in every element that has sweetened,
in every ingredient that has embittered,
in all that has been mysterious, inscrutable, painful, and humiliating,
in all that He gave,
in all that He took away,
this testimony is His just due, and this our grateful acknowledgment through time and through eternity: "He has done all things well!"
Has He converted us through grace by a way we had thought the most improbable?
Has He torn up all our earthly hopes by the roots?
Has He thwarted our schemes, frustrated our plans, disappointed our expectations?
Has He taught us in schools most trying, by a discipline most severe, and lessons most humbling to our nature?
Has He withered our strength by sickness, reduced us to poverty by loss, crushed our heart by bereavement?
And have we been tempted to exclaim, "All these things are against me!"
Ah! no! faith will yet obtain the ascendancy, and sweetly sing:
"I know in all things that befell,
My Jesus has done all things well!"
Beloved, it must be so, for Jesus can do nothing wrong!
Study the way of His providence and grace with the microscopic eye of faith — view them in every light, examine them in their minutest detail, as you would the petal of a flower, or the wing of an insect; and, oh, what wonders, what beauty, what marvelous adaptation would you observe in all the varied dealings with you, of your glorious Lord!
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(Thomas Watson, "The Ten Commandments")
The Scripture is a golden love-letter, written by the Holy Spirit — and sent to us from Heaven!
The Scripture is a spiritual looking-glass, to dress our souls by. It shows us heart-sins, vain thoughts, unbelief, etc. It not only shows us our spots — but washes them away!
The Scripture is an armory, out of which we may fetch spiritual artillery to fight against Satan. When our Savior was tempted by the devil, He fetched armor and weapons from Scripture: "It is written!"
The Scripture is a panacea, or universal remedy for the soul. It can cure . . .
deadness of heart, Psalm 119:50;
pride, 1 Peter 5:5; and
infidelity, John 3:36.
It is a garden of remedies, where we may gather an herb or antidote, to expel the poison of sin!
The Scripture is "the only standard of conduct." It is the only rule by which we are to square our lives. It contains in it:
all things needful to salvation;
what duties we are to do;
what sins we are to avoid.
"When your Words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight!" Jeremiah 15:16. All true solid comfort is fetched out of the Word. The Word is a spiritual garden, and the promises are the fragrant flowers or spices in this garden. How should we delight to walk among these beds of spices!
The Scripture is a sovereign elixir, or comfort, in an hour of distress. "Your promise revives me — it comforts me in all my troubles!" Psalm 119:50
If we would have the Scripture effectual, let us labor not only to have the light of it in our heads, but its power in our hearts!
"I have hidden your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against you." Psalm 119:11. The Word, locked up in the heart — is a preservative against sin. As one would carry an antidote with him when he comes near an infected place — so David carried the Word in his heart as a sacred antidote to preserve him from the infection of sin.
When we read the holy Scriptures — let us look up to God for a blessing. Let us pray that God would not only give us His Word as a rule of holiness — but His grace as a principle of holiness! It is said, that the alchemist can draw oil out of iron. Truly, God's Spirit can produce grace in the most obdurate heart!
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An infallible test!
(Samuel Davies, "The Nature of Love to God and Christ, Opened and Enforced")
"If anyone does not love the Lord — a curse be on him!" 1 Corinthians 16:22
If you truly love the Lord Jesus Christ — then you earnestly study and endeavor to please Him by a life of universal obedience. Love is always desirous to please the person beloved; and it will naturally lead to a conduct that is pleasing. This, then, you may be sure of, that if you truly love Jesus — then it is the labor of your life to please Him.
The only way to please Jesus, and the best test of your love to Him — is obedience to His commandments. This is made the decisive mark by Christ Himself: "If anyone loves Me — he will obey My teaching. He who does not love Me — will not obey My teaching." John 14:23, 24.
Jesus repeats this theme over and over in different forms: "Whoever has My commands and obeys them — he is the one who loves Me," verse 21. "If you love Me — you will obey what I command," verse 15. "You are My friends — if you do what I command." John 15:14. "This is love for God," says John; that is, it is the surest evidence, and the natural, inseparable effect of our love to God, "that we obey His commands. And His commands are not burdensome." 1 John 5:3; that is, they will not seem grievous to one who obeys them from the principle of sincere love.
Here, then, you who profess to love the Lord Jesus — here is an infallible test for your love! Do you make it the great aim of your life to keep His commandments? Do you honestly endeavor to perform every duty which He has required — and that because He has commanded it? And do you vigorously resist and struggle against every sin, however constitutional, however fashionable, however gainful — because He forbids it? And is the way of obedience pleasant to you? Would you choose this holy way to heaven, rather than any other — if it were left to your choice?
Your not loving God — if it continues, will certainly lead you to Hell. You are fit for no other place! Where should the enemies of God be — but in an infernal prison? There is the same propriety in throwing you into Hell — as in shutting up madmen in bedlam — or rebels in a dungeon! Why, you are devilized already! You have the very temperament of devils! Enmity to God is the grand constituent of a devil — it is the worst ingredient in that infernal disposition; and this you have in your hearts, and, as it were, incorporated with your habitual temperament! And what do you think will become of you? Judge for yourselves — must you not be doomed to that everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels — whom you resemble?
"If anyone does not love the Lord — a curse be on him!" 1 Corinthians 16:22
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The masses demand that which will soothe them in their sins and amuse them while they journey down the Broad Road!
(Arthur Pink, 1886-1952)
"In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of His appearing and His kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths!" 2 Timothy 4:1-4
That time has arrived! Church-goers today will not endure sound doctrine. Those who . . .
preach the total depravity of man,
insist upon the imperative necessity of the new birth,
set forth the inflexible righteousness and holiness of God, and
warn against the eternal and conscious torment awaiting every rejecter of Christ,
find it almost impossible to obtain a hearing. Such preachers are regarded as puritanic pessimists, and are not wanted.
In these degenerate times, the masses demand that which will soothe them in their sins and amuse them while they journey down the Broad Road! The multitude is affected with itching ears which crave novelty and that which is sensational. They have ears which wish to be tickled, ears which eagerly drink in the songs of professional and unsaved soloists and choristers, ears which are well pleased with the vulgar slang of our modern evangelists!
The things which are now done in so many churches — the socials, the fund-raisers, the bazaars, the concerts, the moving picture shows and other forms of entertainment — what are these but idolatrous commercialization of these houses of prayer! No wonder that such places are devoid of spirituality and strangers to the power of God. The Lord will not tolerate an unholy mixture of worldly things with spiritual.
"Get these things out of here! Stop turning My Father's house into a marketplace!" John 2:16
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Our wisest plans and best endeavors!
(Letters of John Newton)
We are disciples — Jesus is our Master. The world we live in is His school, and every person and event is under His management, designed to forward us in the great lessons which He would have us to learn — such as . . .
a distrust of creatures, and
an absolute dependence upon Himself.
In this view,
afflictions — are mercies,
losses — are gains,
hindrances — are helps, and
all things, even those which seem most contrary — are working together for our good.
Creatures smile upon us — or frown upon us; caress us — or disappoint us;
friends grow cool — and enemies become kind —
just as His wisdom sees most expedient to promote our spiritual progress.
Where we look for most blessing — it often comes to little;
where we look for nothing — we often obtain most benefit.
Our wisest plans and best endeavors at one time produce great troubles!
At another time, what we do at random, and what we account the most trifling incidents — are productive of happy, lasting, and extensive consequences.
It is well for us if, by a long train of such changing, checkered experiences — we at length attain to some proficiency, and can say with David, "My soul, wait only upon God; for my expectation is from Him."
The heart possession of two maxims of Matthew Henry, is well worth all that the acquisition can cost us:
1. Every creature is to us — only what God makes it.
2. We cannot expect too little from man — nor too much from God.
In this school I am placed — and these lessons I am aiming to learn. But I am a poor scholar and indeed any master but He who condescends to be my teacher — would turn me out as an incorrigible dunce!
Yet I sincerely wish to be willing to be what, and where, and how the Lord would have me be — to cast all my cares simply upon Him, and to be always satisfied in my mind that He assuredly cares for me!
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We must continually come to Him!
(James Smith, "Abide with Me" 1859)
One great part of the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart is to . . .
strip us of self,
lead us to feel our own weakness, and
bring us as poor sinners to look to Jesus alone, as our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.
And just in proportion as we feel our need of Christ, and realize our absolute nothingness without Christ — shall we . . .
enjoy Him, and
exercise dependence upon Him.
O how little do many of us know our need of Christ, and therefore it is that we . . .
make so little use of Christ,
enjoy so little of Christ,
receive so little from Christ,
and do so little for Christ!
We come to Him at first — as poor, lost, helpless sinners — that we may be saved by His merit and mercy.
And as believers, we must continually come to Him . . .
with all our burdens — that He may bear them;
with all our cares — that He may manage them;
with all our sorrows — that He may sanctify them;
with all our foes — that He may conquer them;
with all our sins — that He may cleanse them; and
with all our needs — that He may supply them.
All that we need is in Christ — and it is in Christ, for us. Our sense of our need of Christ, if it is deep and increasing — will lead us to daily come to Christ for all our supplies.
Our deep necessity fits us for Christ — and His infinite fullness fits Him for us!
Our trials, troubles, temptations, disappointments, and vexations are to teach us our need of Christ — and drive us continually to Him.
There is often much prayer — and yet little communion with Christ.
We should realize that He is giving us His whole attention.
He expects us to tell Him . . .
all that troubles us,
all that grieves us,
all that pleases us,
all that we need,
and all that we desire.
We should keep back nothing from Him — but speak to Him freely on every subject, and every circumstance.
He is always with us, listening to us, and sympathetically entering into all our concerns!
We must be intimate with Christ.
We must walk with Him.
We must carry everything to Him.
We must seek all we need from Him.
We must be constantly . . .
going to Christ,
conversing with Christ,
and obtaining from Christ —
if we would receive the consoling influences of His love!
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My unstable soul!
(John Fawcett, "Christ Precious")
"O Lord, pardon my iniquity — for it is great!" Psalm 25:11
If men have no inward grief on account of their ingratitude to a dying Savior — it indicates a lack of love to Him, and that they have not a just sense of the evil and malignity of their sin.
To think of the love of Jesus to my poor soul — manifested in His sorrows, His sufferings, His agonies, and the shedding of His precious blood — pierces my heart, and makes me loathe myself in my own sight! While I look to Him upon the cross whom I have pierced by my sins — surely I ought to mourn, and be in bitterness, as one who mourns for the death of his first-born. Shall not I shed tears of grief for those sins, for which my Redeemer shed His precious blood!
Blessed Jesus! how cold, how feeble, how languid is my love to You — the altogether lovely One! Alas! how readily are my fluctuating passions captivated by worldly things! O, let me not live so estranged from You! Warm my cold and frozen heart — and kindle in my bosom, a flame of holy fervor towards You.
At some seasons, the believer's mind is so oppressed with a sense of his own vileness — that he is ready to sink into despondency. In his retired moments, he pours out his complaints in such language as this:
"The clogs of guilt, and the clouds of darkness hang heavy on my soul. What language can express the depth of my distress on account of my sin! A sense of the vilest ingratitude to the best of Beings — stings my heart, and deprives me of comfort. What returns have I made for the abundant divine favors which I have received? I cannot bear the sight of my own vileness! I abhor myself, and repent as in dust and ashes. My life has been marked with repeated instances of ingratitude to Him, who is the giver of every good and perfect gift, whom I desire to love and to obey with my whole heart. My unstable soul has been perpetually departing from God, inclining to folly, and verging towards that which is evil. This, this is wretchedness indeed! For this I condemn myself almost without ceasing. My spirits droop, my heart desponds, my soul is disquieted within me. O Lord, be merciful to me, pardon my iniquity — for it is great!"
"Lord, I abhor myself on account of the defilement which cleaves unto me. Behold I am vile! I will lay my hand upon my mouth, and put my face in the dust! I have experienced a thousand proofs of Your goodness — the remembrance of which, fills me with shame, because of my ingratitude. The height of my folly lies in having so often sinned against Your infinite goodness and love! I have abused Your kindness, and affronted Your mercy. O Lord, I beseech You, pardon my iniquity — for it is great!"
Such exercises of mind as these, strongly indicate the sincerity of our love for the divine Savior.
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All the sins of the saints!
(Thomas Brooks, "The Crown and Glory of Christianity, or, HOLINESS, the Only Way to Happiness" 1662)
"We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose!" Romans 8:28
All the afflictions, and
all the temptations, and
all the oppressions, and
all the oppositions, and
all the persecutions —
which befall a godly man, shall work for his good.
Every cross, and
every loss, and
every disease —
which befall the holy man, shall work for his good.
Every device of Satan,
every snare of Satan,
every deceit of Satan,
every stratagem of Satan,
and every enterprise of Satan
against the holy man, shall work for his good.
They shall all help to make him . . .
Every prosperity — and every adversity,
every storm — and every calm,
every bitter — and every sweet,
every cross — and every comfort,
shall work for the holy man's good.
When God gives a mercy — that shall work for his good.
When God takes away a mercy — that shall work for his good.
Yes, even all the falls and all the sins of the saints shall work for their good! Oh . . .
the zeal —
which God raises in the souls of His saints by their very falls! Oh the hatred, the indignation, and the detestation — which God raises in the hearts of His children against sin — by their very falling into sin!
Oh what love to Christ,
what thankfulness for Christ,
what admiration of Christ,
what cleaving to Christ,
what exalting of Christ,
what drawings from Christ's grace —
are saints led to, by their very falls!
It is the glory of God's holiness, that . . .
He can turn spiritual diseases — into holy remedies!
He can turn soul poisons — into heavenly cordials!
He can prevent sin by sin — and cure falling by falling!
O Christian! What though friends and relations frown upon you,
what though enemies are plotting and conspiring against you,
what though needs, like armed men, are breaking in upon you,
what though men rage, and devils roar against you,
what though sickness is devastating your family,
what though death stands every day at your elbow
— yet there is no reason for you to fear nor faint, because all these things shall work for your good! Yes, there is wonderful cause of joy and rejoicing in all the afflictions and tribulations which come upon you — considering that they shall all work for your good.
"We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose!" O Christians! I am afraid that you do not run so often as you should to the breasts of this promise — nor draw that sweetness and comfort from it, that it would yield, and that your several cases may require. I have been the longer upon this verse, because the condition of God's people calls for the strongest cordials, and the choicest and the sweetest comforts.
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The saints' everlasting rest!
"There remains therefore a rest for the people of God." Hebrews 4:9
All earthly Sabbaths are not worthy to be compared with that eternal rest, where the unfettered, unpolluted soul shall worship the Lamb without interruption and without end!
The body will there not impede, but augment our happiness; for it will be a spiritual body, which can no longer be the medium of temptation, and which shall experience no fatigue.
Nor will sin, O blissful thought, be there, to dim our eye or to pollute our worship.
We shall not only see God — but see Him with unobstructed vision.
We shall not only love Him — but love Him with unwavering affections.
We shall not only praise Him — but praise Him in pure, exalted strains forever.
Glorious rest! Let us rise and hasten towards it with renewed vigor, for "Here we have no continuing city."
Blessed be your name, O God, that You have prepared and reserved an everlasting rest for Your people. This poor world, You have taught us, is the scene of our toilsome pilgrimage — that we are not to expect our Heaven here. Yet O, how often are we building tabernacles on earth! We act as if this world were to be our permanent abode. Enable us, O God, to cast the eye of faith forward to the rest that remains for the people of God. Give us such views of its alluring glories, as shall make the brightest scenes of earth look dim. Let us see the enthroned Lamb! Let us see the pure company of the glorified saints and angels. Let us have a sweet foretaste of the celestial joys. Then, O God, shall we cease to desire the honors or the pleasures of this vain world. Then shall we forsake its attractions — allured by visions of so much superior luster. Amen.
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Christ must be all!
"Christ is all!" Colossians 3:11
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith!" Hebrews 12:2
We cannot keep our eye too exclusively or too intently fixed on Jesus.
All salvation is in Him.
All salvation proceeds from Him.
All salvation leads to Him.
And for the assurance and comfort of our salvation, we are to repose believingly and entirely on Him.
Christ the beginning — Christ the center — and Christ the end.
Oh sweet truth — to you who are sensible of your spiritual poverty, vileness, and insufficiency, and of the ten thousand flaws and failures of which, perhaps, no one is cognizant but God and your own soul! Oh, to turn and rest in Christ — a full Christ — a loving Christ — a tender Christ, whose heart's love never chills, from whose eye darts no reproof, from whose lips breathes no sentence of condemnation! Christ must be all!
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A continual supply of grace, comfort, and strength!
(William Mason, "The Believers Pocket Companion")
"I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me!" Galatians 2:20
That the believer may live cheerfully and comfortably, he is exhorted to the free and constant use of Christ.
O consider: Christ is given to us — to be enjoyed by us!
He is the bread of life — we are to feed upon Him daily.
He is the water of life, which our souls are to drink of constantly.
He is our righteousness — we are to put Him on continually.
So then, we not only have a precious Christ — but we are also to use Him, and enjoy His preciousness! He is not only a well of salvation — but we must draw water out of it with joy — and drink of it to the refreshing of our souls!
Deeply consider, that without this inward enjoyment of Christ — you cannot be . . .
happy in your soul,
comfortable in your walk,
nor holy in your life.
We must live by faith upon Christ — so as to derive a continual supply of grace, comfort, and strength from Him! "I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me!" Galatians 2:20
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Come out from them and be separate!
"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:2
Men of the world form their opinions of the gospel, from what they observe in its professors. There is nothing more dangerous and injurious, than when professors of religion conform to the world so far that no clear distinction can be observed between them and the worldling.
It is sometimes alleged by professors who thus accommodate themselves to the fashions and amusements of the world, that they hope by this means to render religion attractive. But this is a weak pretext, for such conformity always tends to confirm the ungodly in their carelessness. When they see professors at the theater, or in the ballroom, their conclusion is that there is no reality in Christianity.
"Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." 2 Corinthians 6:17-18
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We may have audience with the King of the universe!
Prayer is a difficult, and often an arduous work — but it is the life and soul of a Christian.
It is not only his incumbent duty — but his most precious privilege.
My Christian friend, the Throne of Grace is yours!
Your Father is seated on it.
Your Savior has sprinkled it with His blood.
The Holy Spirit draws you sweetly to kneel before it.
The promise, when there, is, "Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it!"
What an honor thus to approach the King of kings! Were we to have audience with an earthly monarch — we would deem it the superlative event in our history, and boast of it through life. But we may have audience with the King of the universe! Nay, we have liberty to approach Him at any time, and under all circumstances!
Have we needs? He can supply them.
Are we in trouble? He can extricate us.
Do afflictions press our souls? He can mitigate and remove them.
Does sin pollute our joys? With Him is the fountain of cleansing.
Does Satan vex our souls? He invites us to His arms as our refuge.
God knows your infirmities, your temptations, and your trials — and is ever ready to afford you relief.
There is nothing which so elevates the morals and character, as deep and intimate communion with God.
The godly man converses with God. At the Throne of Grace we acquire a benevolence, a dignity, a humility, which . . .
throws around us an attractive luster,
puts sweetness into every action and expression,
makes us . . .
contented in every condition of life,
patient under every affliction, and
faithful in the discharge of every duty!
"Let us therefore come boldly to the Throne of Grace — that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need!" Hebrews 4:16
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But a flea-bite!
(Thomas Brooks, "The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod" or, "The Silent Soul with Sovereign Antidotes" 1659)
"I am the man who has seen affliction!" Lamentations 3:1
Christian! Your present afflictions are not great — if compared with the afflictions and torments of many of the damned, who when they were it this world, never sinned at so high a rate as you have done! There are many now in Hell, who never sinned against such clear light as you have done, nor against such special love as you have done, nor against such precious mercies as you have done! Certainly there are many now a-roaring in everlasting burnings — who never sinned as you have done!
What are your present afflictions and troubles — compared to the torments of the damned, whose torments are . . .
They have . . .
weeping served for the first course, and
gnashing of teeth for the second course, and
the gnawing worm for the third course, and
intolerable pain for the fourth course!
Yet the pain of the body is least part of their pain. The very soul of sorrow and pain — is the soul's sorrow and pain! The everlasting alienation and separation from God is served for the fifth course!
Ah, Christian! how can you seriously think on these things and not lay your hand upon your mouth — even when you are under the greatest temporal sufferings? Your sins have been far greater than many of those who are now in Hell, and your great afflictions are but a flea-bite compared to theirs! Therefore hush your murmuring, and be silent before the Lord! "I was silent; I would not open my mouth, for You are the one who has done this!" Psalm 39:9
Such is the splendor, the brightness, the glory, the happiness, and blessedness that are reserved for the saints in Heaven, that had I all the tongues of men on earth and all the excellencies of the angels in Heaven — yet I would not be able to conceive nor to express that vision of glory to you! That glory is inconceivable and inexpressible! It is best to be hastening there, that we may feel and enjoy that which we shall never be able to declare!
All the troubles, afflictions, and sorrows of this life, in comparison with eternal happiness and blessedness — are to be considered as nothing. They are but as a speck of sand — compared to the fathomless glories of Heaven!
"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us!" Romans 8:18
"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all!" 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
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It is their Father's hand that chastens them!
We live in such a beauteous 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 or trial or disappointments — we would soon forget our heavenly home and pitch our tents permanently in this Sodom.
Therefore it is that God's people pass through great tribulations; therefore it is they are often called upon to suffer the sting of affliction and anxiety — or weep over the grave of those whom they have loved as their own soul.
It is their Father's hand that chastens them! It is thus He weans their affection from things below, and fixes them on Himself. It is thus He trains them for eternity, and cuts the threads that bind their truant hearts to earth one by one.
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. "Our light affliction endures but for a moment, and it works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory!" 2 Corinthians 4:17
The purest gold is that which has been longest in the refiner's furnace.
The brightest diamond is often that which has required the most grinding and polishing.
The saints are men who have come out of great tribulation — they are never left to perish in it.
The last night of weeping will soon be spent,
the last wave of trouble will have rolled over us, and
then we shall have a peace that passes all understanding!
We shall be at home forever with the Lord!
"Therefore comfort one another with these words!" 1 Thessalonians 4:18
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God's medicine cup!
"Now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials." 1 Peter 1:6
"God measures out affliction according to our need." John Chrysostom
"Prosperity is a sweet poison — and affliction is a healing, though bitter medicine." John Wesley
"Afflictive dispensations, in whatsoever form, are necessary . . .
for the humbling of our souls;
for the weaning us from the things of this world;
for the restraining, subduing, and keeping under our corruptions;
and for the trial of our grace.
The will of God has appointed all our trials, and therefore, they must be, and ought to be, quietly submitted to, and patiently borne." John Gill
"God's conduct with us is very gentle. With a great deal of moderation, He measures out our sufferings in a due proportion, not to our offences only, but to our strength." Thomas Manton
"Many-sided is the character of our heavenly Father, for, having forgiven as a judge, He then cures as a physician. Our good Physician understands the symptoms of our disease and sees the hidden evil which they reveal, hence our case is safe in His hands. God's medicine cup is not for rebels, but for those whom Jehovah-Rophi loves!" Charles Spurgeon
"The physician's care is to cure the patient's disease — not to please his palate. Just so, God will deal out afflictions to His redeemed people, as the wise physician prescribes medicines to his patients." Matthew Henry
"Afflictions are not always sent as a scourge for sins committed — but sometimes as preventatives from sins. Paul's thorn prevented his pride." John Leland
"God," said a holy man, "can neither trust me with money nor health; therefore I am both poor and afflicted."
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The gospel of Christ admits of no compromise!
(Jared Waterbury, "Advice to a Young Christian on the Importance of Aiming at an Elevated Standard of Piety")
"So then, any of you who does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple!" Luke 14:33
The gospel of Christ admits of no compromise. It demands our ALL. If it required less, it would be unworthy of its great author and finisher. I rejoice that it requires ALL — this is its glory. When we are brought to yield to its claims, and give up ALL — then, and not until then, will it throw around us its arms of mercy.
And do we talk about self-denial? Do we say, "It is hard to give up ALL!" I am ashamed to use such language — and ashamed to hear it used.
What did Christ give up for us? Let that question blot out "self-denial" from the Christian's vocabulary. When you think the Gospel makes severe requisitions by requiring ALL — go up to Mount Calvary and weep over such suggestions. See the blood of your Immanuel so freely gushing from a heart that never exercised towards you any emotion but love — love unspeakable — love unsought — and love for the guilty vile! Go hide your head in shame and penitence at such a thought.
It is a glorious privilege, my friend, to give up ALL to Christ. The soul that feels the constraining influence of His love, asks not how little may be given consistently with obtaining the heavenly reward — asks not for the lowest standard of discipleship. It burns with an ardent desire to devote ALL, and to aim at perfect "conformity to His death."
Determine, by the grace of God, that you will forsake all, and follow Christ. Do not, like Peter, follow Him afar off — but, like Mary, sit at His nail-pierced feet — like the beloved disciple John, rest upon His sweet bosom.
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The most monstrous iniquity that could ever have been imputed to Saturn, to Janus, to the goddess of the Thugs!
"Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her!" Ephesians 5:25
"I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep." John 10:11
If Christ on His cross intended to save every man — then He intended to save those who were eternally lost before He died! If the doctrine of universal atonement is true, that He died for all men — then He died for some who were in Hell before He came into this world, for doubtless there were even then myriads there who had been cast away because of their sins.
Once again, if it was Christ's intention to save all men — then how deplorably has He been disappointed, for we have His own testimony that there is a lake which burns with fire and brimstone, and into that pit of woe have been cast some of the very persons who, according to the theory of universal redemption, were bought with His blood! That seems to me a conception a thousand times more repulsive than any of those consequences which are said to be associated with the Christian doctrine of special and particular redemption.
To think that my Savior died for men who were or are in Hell, seems a supposition too horrible for me to entertain. To imagine for a moment that He was the Substitute for all people, and that God, having first punished the Substitute, afterwards punished the sinners themselves — seems to conflict with all my ideas of divine justice. That Christ should offer an atonement and satisfaction for the sins of all men, and that afterwards some of those very men should be punished for the sins for which Christ had already atoned — appears to me to be the most monstrous iniquity that could ever have been imputed to Saturn, to Janus, to the goddess of the Thugs, or to the most diabolical heathen deities. God forbid that we should ever think thus of Jehovah, the just and wise and good!
We do not believe that Christ redeemed the damned. We do not believe that He poured out His life blood for souls already in Hell. We never can imagine that Christ suffered in the room and stead of all men, and that then afterwards these same men have to suffer for themselves.
We hold to this — that Christ laid down His life for His sheep, and secured the salvation of every one of them.
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The great mistake made by most of the Lord's people!
(Arthur Pink, "The Doctrine of Sanctification" 1937)
"You are complete in Him!" Colossians 2:10
The poor Christian, conscious of his weakness, his ignorance, his poverty, his vileness — is sorely tempted to be envious of others, for they seem to have "more than heart could wish" — while the longings of his heart are denied him, and that which he pursues so eagerly continues to elude his grasp.
God's children are oppressed, sorely oppressed . . .
by their indwelling corruptions,
by their innumerable failures,
by the hidings of the Lord's face,
by the accusations of Satan,
over the workings of unbelief,
over the coldness of their hearts,
over the insincerity of their prayers,
over their vain imaginations.
The great mistake made by most of the Lord's people is in hoping to discover in themselves, that which is to be found in Christ alone.
"By His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption." 1 Corinthians 1:30
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The strongest Christian!
Let us watch jealously over our hearts, and beware of giving way to the beginnings of sin. Happy is he who always fears God, and walks humbly with Him. The strongest Christian is the one who feels his weakness most, and cries most frequently, "Hold me up — and I shall be safe!" Psalm 119:117
"And He said to me: 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong!" 2 Corinthians 12:9-10