The Grace of Christ, or,
Sinners Saved by Unmerited Kindness
William S. Plumer, 1853
There goes John Bradford!
When others sin, godly men see what they themselves
were before conversion; or what they would have been—
but for the restraints of God's grace.
Bradford, an eminent servant of Christ, seeing a criminal
led to execution said, "There goes John Bradford—but
for the grace of God!"
Two things are required to make an action right. One is that
it be lawful in itself. The other is that it be done with a right
motive. If the thing done is itself wrong, no motives can make
it right. On the other hand, the thing done may be right in
itself, but the motive which governs us may be wrong, and
so the act may be sinful because the motive is sinful. Bad
motives in good actions are like dead flies in sweet ointments.
They corrupt the whole. The motive of the heart is everything!
Most unbelievers do many things which are very proper,
but not out of love to God. The unregenerate man never
does anything with holy motives. His life is better than his
heart. Indeed his heart is the worst part of him! It is all
wrong. It is hard, and proud, and selfish, and unbelieving,
and without any love to God. So far from pleasing God, all
the unregenerate are continually offending him. Their very
best works are but splendid sins! They do
which God requires, and abstain from some things which God
forbids—not because they love God or His law, but because it
promotes their health, or wealth, or honor to do so.
Ploughing is itself a lawful act. If there is no ploughing,
there can be no bread. Yet God says: "The ploughing of
the wicked is sin!" Yes, he puts it down with other sins
which greatly offend him. The whole verse reads thus:
"A high look, and a proud heart, and the ploughing of
the wicked—is sin." Proverbs 21:4. If God had intended
to teach that everything done by wicked men—even the
most common and necessary thing was sinful—could He
have chosen more fit words?
Here is a passage which shows that all the religious services
of the unconverted, are defiled with sin. "The sacrifice of the
wicked is an abomination to the Lord." Proverbs 15:8.
God's abhorrence of sin
God's abhorrence of sin is more clearly
in the cross of Christ, than in the flames of hell.
Wonderful mystery! God was manifest in the
Our Lord Jesus Christ became incarnate, lived, acted,
obeyed, suffered, died and rose again—for His people.
He came down to earth—that they might go up to heaven.
He suffered—that they might reign.
He became a servant—that they might become kings
and priests unto God.
He died that—they might live.
He bore the cross—that their enmity might be slain,
and their sins expiated.
He loved them—that they might love God.
He was rich and became poor—that they, who
were poor, might be made rich.
He descended into the grave—that they might
sit in heavenly places.
He emptied Himself—that they might be filled
with all the fullness of God.
He took upon Him human nature—that they
might be partakers of the divine nature.
He made Himself of no reputation—that they might
wear His new name, and obtain eternal excellency.
He became a worm, and no man—that they, who were
sinful worms, might be made equal to the angels.
He bore the curse of a broken covenant—that they
might partake of all the blessings of the everlasting
covenant, ordered in all things and sure.
Though heir of all things, He was willingly despised
of the people—that they, who were justly condemned,
might obtain an inheritance which is incorruptible,
undefiled, and which fades not away.
His death was a satisfaction to divine justice, a ransom
for many, a propitiation for sin, a sweet smelling savor
to God—that we, who were an offence to God, might
become His sons and daughters.
He was made sin for His people—that they might be
made the righteousness of God in Him.
Though Lord of all, He took the form of a servant—that
they, who were the servants of sin, might prevail like
princes with God.
He had no where to lay His head—that they who otherwise
must have lain down in eternal sorrow, might reach the
mansions in His Father's house.
He drank the cup of God's indignation—that they
might forever drink of the river of his pleasures.
He hungered—that they might eat the bread of life.
He thirsted—that they might drink the water of life.
He was numbered with the transgressors—that they might
stand among the justified, and be counted among His jewels.
Though He existed from everlasting, from the beginning,
before ever the earth was, yet He became a helpless infant
—that creatures of yesterday, sentenced to death, might
He wore a crown of thorns—that all who love His
appearing, might wear a crown of life.
He wept tears of anguish—that His elect might
weep tears of godly repentance.
He bore the yoke of obedience unto death—that
they might find His yoke easy and His burden light.
He poured out his soul unto death, lay three days in
the heart of the earth, then burst the bars of death,
and arose to God—that they, who through fear of
death were all their lifetime subject to bondage,
might obtain the victory over the grave and become
partakers of His resurrection.
He exhausted the penalty of the law—that His redeemed
might have access to His inexhaustible treasures of mercy,
wisdom, faithfulness, truth and grace.
He was matchless in grace—that they might be matchless
Though a Son, He became a voluntary exile—that they, who had
wickedly wandered afar off, might be brought near by His blood.
His visage was so marred more than any man—that His
ransomed ones might be presented before God without
spot, or blemish, or wrinkle, or any such thing.
For a time He was forsaken of his Father—that they, whom
He bought with His blood, might behold the light of God's
He came and dwelt with them—that they might be forever
with the Lord.
He was hung up naked before His insulting foes—that all
who believe on His name, might wear a glorious wedding
garment—a spotless righteousness.
Wonderful mystery! God was manifest in the
Blessed is he who loves the incarnate mystery, and
rests upon it. It is a mystery . . .
It is the great study of the inhabitants of heaven,
and shall be while immortality endures!
When God pardons
One unpardoned sin would destroy a soul forever.
Many words in Scripture point towards forgiveness, such as:
peace with God,
not imputing iniquity,
taking away sin,
making an end of transgression,
not remembering iniquity,
washing, cleansing and removing sin,
casting it into the sea, or behind the back,
scattering it like a cloud,
blotting it out,
The forgiveness of sins is free. It is "without money and
without price." We can do nothing to merit it, or prepare
ourselves for it. When God pardons, He
original sin and actual sin,
sins of omission and of commission,
secret and open sins,
sins of thought, word and deed.
To those who believe in Jesus, all is freely forgiven.
Full pardon, or none at all, is what God gives. Nor is
this gift ever revoked by God. When He forgives, He
"Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin
the Lord does not count against him." Psalm 32:1-2
What devils never did
"You are the children of your father the Devil, and you love
to do the evil things he does." John 8:44
Such is the sad state of man by nature, that he bears a fearful
resemblance to devils. This truth is very abasing to human pride.
Unconverted men are like devils in the sense in which a child
is like a man, or a cub like a lion. All admit that devils have
no holiness. In this unconverted men are precisely like them.
They do not love God's law, or nature, or government. They
are alienated from Him, and opposed to all His attributes and
authority. They do not glorify Him, do not delight in Him, do
not find pleasure in thinking on His name. They choose sin
and death—rather than holiness and life.
Laws, public opinion, and God's providence now restrain
many; but the heart of unrenewed man is as wicked as it
ever was. It hates holiness.
In some things, the ungodly do what devils never did.
They reject mercy and grace, kindly offered to them by
the Lord. Devils never did that! You say—They never had
the opportunity. True, but they never did it. Neither did
they ever laugh at eternity, judgment and damnation.
They have too fearful a sense of the wrath of God to be
able to mock and jest at these most solemn things.
How dreadful is sin! It converts angels into devils, and men
into fiends! There is no unfitness in the arrangement which
God has made for having one great prison-house for all
His incorrigible foes. The very place prepared for the devil
and his angels—will be the final abode of impenitent men!
"Then He will also say to those on the left—Depart from
Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for
the Devil and his angels!" Matthew 25:41
How dreadful will hell be!
Nothing but the blood of Christ
Nothing but the blood of Christ can
quench . . .
the fire of God's wrath,
the fire of lust, or
the fiery darts of Satan!
Short-lived, imperfect and
"In Your presence is abundant joy; in Your right hand are
eternal pleasures! Psalms 16:11
Here on earth—our greatest joys are short-lived,
and unsatisfying. Nothing continues in a perpetually happy
state. All is unsettled, and easily marred. In heaven—all is as
stable as eternity—all is as durable as the throne of God! All
flows from the bounty of an infinite God and Savior.
Here on earth—sorrows beset us in troops. In heaven—
all sorrows cease;
sickness, sadness and sighing flee away;
bereavement never desolates;
tears never flow;
tempests never rage;
temptations never vex;
poverty, war, and death never enter;
rust never corrupts;
thieves never steal;
weariness and vanity are forever unknown;
sin never defiles;
peace reigns unbroken;
"the wicked cease from troubling,
and the weary are at rest."
"Well done, good and faithful servant! Enter
into the joy of your Lord!" Matthew 25:21
The great attraction of heaven!
"Your heart must not be troubled. In My Father's
house are many dwelling places. I am going away
to prepare a place for you. I will come back and
receive you to Myself, so that where I am you
may be also!" John 14
"I desire to depart and be with Christ, which
is better by far!" Philippians 1:23
The great attraction of heaven is the Lord
Christ! He Himself is the object chiefly enjoyed. To
be with Jesus, and like Jesus, and to behold His glory
—constitute the heaven which true believers desire!
They long to behold that blessed face which was
buffeted for them! Their eternal anthem is, "All
praise to Him who loves us and has freed us from
our sins by shedding His blood for us! Give to Him
everlasting glory! He rules forever and ever! Amen!"
There is none like Jesus!
"What is your Beloved more than another beloved?" Canticles 5:9
Our Beloved alone can do sinners good. His blood alone atones.
He loved us unto death!
Jesus has at once an almighty arm—and a brother's heart!
None is more exalted—yet none stoops so low!
None is mightier—yet none is more tender! He shall not
break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax.
He is meek and lowly, merciful and mild—at the same
time He is the omnipotent Jehovah!
He enlightens, purifies and comforts the heart!
His word cannot be broken!
His power cannot be resisted!
The law of heavenly kindness is in His heart!
Great is His faithfulness!
His royal titles are . . .
Prince of Peace!
To the pious, Jesus is the source of . . .
Jesus is still as gentle, as kind, as tender as when He . . .
wept at the grave of Lazarus,
gave eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame,
or granted mercy to a wretch hanging by His side.
In Him dwell all excellencies!
He is full of grace and truth!
He takes poor, vile, ignorant, guilty, helpless
sinners—raises them to sonship with God, and
makes them partakers of His holiness!
There is none like Him—no, not one!
He is the chief among ten thousand!
He is altogether lovely!
Wherever He is, there is heaven!
There is none like Jesus!
"Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive
power and wealth and wisdom and strength and
honor and glory and praise!" Revelation 5:12
A day of great surprise!
"The hopes of the godly result in happiness, but the hopes
of the wicked are all in vain." Proverbs 10:28
"When the wicked die, their hopes all perish." Proverbs 11:7
The day of judgment will also be
a day of great surprise,
both to saints and sinners. So Christ expressly informs us:
"Many will say to me on that day—'Lord, Lord, did we not
prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons
and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly,
'I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!'" Mt. 7:22-23
Many will be saved, and many will be lost—contrary to the
judgments formed of them by their neighbors. But more
will be saved, and more will be lost contrary to the opinions
they had of themselves!
Christians will wonder that they are saved, and how they are
saved, and they will wonder that they should be commended
for deeds full of imperfection.
The wicked will be amazed that they are lost, and how they
are lost; and especially that God puts no value upon their
The sons of God will receive more honor than they ever
thought of claiming; while the wicked will find their hopes
perishing one by one, and their lamp going out in obscure
darkness. Christians will wonder why they should be saved.
Unbelievers will wonder why they should not be saved. The
wicked will ask, "What have we done amiss?" The saved will
say, "All our righteous acts are like filthy rags!" The wicked
says he does the best he can. The righteous says, "Behold,
I am vile!"
"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the
righteous to eternal life." Matthew 25:46
Nothing can reverse, nor arrest the judgments of that day.
Nothing can alter or vary the decree of the Judge. It shall
stand forever. The judgment of the great day will be
irrevocable and everlasting in its effects. It will bind forever.
He never misses a sermon!
Though it is not profane, yet it is foolish to speak lightly of the
devil. He is not a sacred person—but he is a dangerous person!
Thoughts of levity concerning him are quite out of place. They
throw us off our guard, make us secure, lead us to sloth and
carelessness—and thus to sin.
He who is our adversary, and has slain his thousands and tens
of thousands—is never more sure of his prey than when there
is least fear of him. He began his work of revolt in heaven,
afterwards invaded Eden, assaulted the Son of God Himself
with the greatest violence and rancor, and will always be busy
until he is chained down in the pit!
He has no pity. He is wholly malignant and unscrupulous.
To dishonor God, destroy souls, fill earth with woe, and hell
with the damned—is his trade and his delight.
The keener the anguish, the more pitiless the remorse and
the deeper the guilt of man—the more is Satan gratified.
He does all he can to make . . .
earth like hell,
men like devils,
saints like sinners.
He delights in seeing all wickedness raging and rioting on
earth. He is the god of the men of this world. He commands
and they obey. He is the prince of the power of the air, the
spirit that now works in the children of disobedience. His
empire is built on usurpation and fraud, cruelty and crime,
blood and rebellion.
Satan rages, and hates, and lies, and murders.
His ways are various. Sometimes he appears as an angel of
light. He has cordials for wounded consciences. He speaks
much of mercy. He delights in corrupting the truth. His great
object is to keep men from embracing Christ. He has much
to do with religious men and religious ordinances. He
misses a sermon! He knows that men can go to hell in the
pew of a church, as well as in the seat of a theater. If they
will rest in 'religious forms' and be satisfied with the ordinances
of God without the God of the ordinances, if they will go about
to establish their own righteousness—he will encourage them,
and help them to be joyful.
He frequents our closets, and there practices the same arts.
The rules for domestic happiness
Domestic happiness requires the elements of:
truth, justice, consistency, humility, candor, gentleness and kindness from
respect, love, obedience, honor from inferiors;
truth, justice, tenderness and brotherly kindness from equals.
A profession of religion, when not accompanied by a cheerful and habitual
performance of family duties—is worth
The rules for domestic happiness are few
and simple. He who runs, may read. They are mighty. Who can but admire the
effects produced in a Christian household by such maxims and precepts as
1. Be humble. "Pride only breeds quarrels."
2. "Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit."
3. Find your own happiness in trying to make others happy.
4. Mind your own business. Be not meddlesome.
5. Beware of a fretful, suspicious, or censorious temper.
6. "Overcome evil with good." "Bless and curse not."
7. "Love one another deeply, from the heart."
8. Do not magnify the trials or afflictions of life.
9. Beware of sloth. There is no greater enemy of peace and happiness.
10. Make it your business to serve God.
11. Keep out of debt. "Owe no man anything." Loans breed bad tempers and harsh
12. Keep the ultimate purpose of life in view. This will repress many vain
wishes and chasten immoderate desires.
13. Let your prayers be frequent and fervent.
14. Never listen to scandal nor backbiting.
15. Grieve not for things which cannot be helped.
16. Set the Lord always before you. Seek His glory. Do and suffer His will
with readiness. Let Christ be all and in all. Trust in the Lord forever.
There is something peculiarly pleasing in the manifestations of the grace of
Christ in a truly pious family, however humble their condition in life.
The only thing which God hates
So far as we know—sin is the only thing which God
There are many filthy reptiles, unclean beasts and venomous
serpents from which we instinctively turn away; yet God's tender
mercies are over all of these. He opens His hand and supplies the
needs of every living thing. To the end which he proposed in their
creation, they are well adapted.
But sin in its own nature and tendency—is only evil. God abhors it.
Sin is the only thing which dishonors Him, grieves Him, vexes Him.
He is angry with the wicked every day.
Excess in many things is wrong—but no man fears or hates sin too much.
Remember that you are the son of a king!
When a prince was about to travel, he asked his tutor for some
maxims, by which to govern his behavior; and received this:
"Remember that you are the son of a king!
Let all Christians remember that they are the sons and
daughters of the Lord Almighty, and "if sons, then heirs,
heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ!"
Justification and sanctification
What is the difference between justification and
The answer is that they do not differ in their importance
are essential to salvation. Without either we must perish. Indeed
God has inseparably joined them together. Christ Jesus is always
made sanctification to those, to whom He is made righteousness.
Nor do they differ in their source
, which is the fiee grace and
infinite love of God.
We are justified by faith
, and our hearts are purified by faith.
Faith is the instrument of justification. Faith is the root of
In justification sin is pardoned; in sanctification it is slain.
In justification we obtain forgiveness and acceptance; in
sanctification we attain the victory over corruption, and
obtain rectitude of nature.
Justification is an act of God complete at once and forever.
Sanctification is a work of God begun in regeneration,
conducted through life and completed at death.
Justification is equal and perfect in all Christians;
sanctification is not equal in all, nor perfect in any
—until they lay aside the flesh in death.
In justification God imputes to us the righteousness of
Christ; in sanctification He infuses grace, and enables
us to exercise it.
Justification always precedes sanctification.
Sanctification always comes after justification.
"Justification and sanctification differ in time
Justification lies at the beginning of the Christian life, and,
except in its consequences, does not extend beyond it, but
is instantaneous and complete upon our first exercise of
saving faith. Sanctification begins where justification ends,
runs throughout the Christian life, and is partial and
progressive, from measure to measure, until it reaches
its perfection in glory. In short, justification is God's act
for us, through the righteousness of his Son. Sanctification
is his work in us, by the power of his Spirit. Justification is
our title to Heaven. Sanctification is our education for
Born a heathen, a beast or a monster
Jesus replied, "I assure you, unless you are born again,
you can never see the Kingdom of God." John 3:3
This new birth we must all undergo—or be forever undone.
"All hangs upon this hinge. If this is not done, you are undone
—undone eternally! All your profession, civility, privileges, gifts,
and duties are ciphers, and signify nothing—unless regeneration
is the figure put in front of them."
Better to have been born a heathen, a beast or a
yes, better never to have been born at all—than not to be born
again! "I assure you, unless you are born again, you can never
see the Kingdom of God." John 3:3
I am not what I once was!
In his old age, when he could no longer see to read, John
Newton heard someone recite this text, "By the grace of God
I am what I am." He remained silent a short time and then,
as if speaking to himself, he said: "I am not what I ought to
be. Ah, how imperfect and deficient! I am not what I wish to
be. I abhor that which is evil, and I would cleave to that which
is good. I am not what I hope to be. Soon, soon I shall put off
mortality, and with mortality all sin and imperfection. Though
I am not what I ought to be, what I wish to be, and what I
hope to be; yet I can truly say, I am not
what I once was
—a slave to sin and Satan! I can heartily join with the apostle
and acknowledge—By the grace of God I am what I am!"
They love it!
"Man, who is vile and corrupt, who drinks up evil like water!"
The unconverted live in sin—they sin all the time. It is their
trade—they work hard at it. They love it,
and are greedy of
iniquity. They "dig up evil." They "fill up their sin ALWAYS."
They "ALWAYS resist the Holy Spirit." Never for an hour do
they love God supremely. Unregenerate men sin always—
they do nothing but sin against God.
All the unregenerate do nothing but sin. If for a while they
seem to reform, they soon return to their wickedness, as
the dog to his vomit, or the sow that was washed to her
wallowing in the mire.
—without the grace of Christ—will or can ever cure
the love of sin, or arrest the practice of sin.
"The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject
to the law of God, neither indeed can be." Romans 8:7
Deceitful & desperately wicked
"The heart is deceitful
things, and desperately
. Who really knows how bad it
is?" Jeremiah 17:9
Man is the only creature on earth that seems to practice
self-deception. That we should sometimes deceive others
is proof of our depravity; but that we should spend our
lives in self-deception is truly astonishing. Men of the
fewest virtues commonly have the highest thoughts of
themselves. How strange and yet how common that he,
whose heart has deceived him a thousand times, should
yet confide in it as if it had always been honest!
The human heart deceives every being but one. It would
deceive Him, if He were not omniscient. None but God
knows all the depths of iniquity and duplicity within us.
Though the language of the Bible is strong, it is just. God
declares, and every Christian knows by sad experience—that
his heart is deceitful above all things. A perfect knowledge
of the treachery of our hearts is possessed by none but God.
The heart is also VILE. It is "desperately wicked." It loves
vanity, and folly, and sin. It hates holiness, and truth, and
divine restraints. It is a sink of iniquity, a pool of pestilential
waters, a cage of unclean birds, a sepulcher full of dead men's
bones. It is torn by wild, fierce, unhallowed passions. It rejects
good and chooses evil. It is wholly corrupt. It is full of evil.
There is no soundness in it. "For from the heart come evil
thoughts, murder, adultery, all other sexual immorality,
theft, lying, and slander." Matthew 15:19
"He who trusts in his own heart is a fool." Proverbs 28:26
Good for nothing!
Surely, the fruit of the Spirit—"love, joy, peace, patience,
gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance," are
very different and very distinguishable from the works of
the flesh. In some measure
these graces belong to all
who are born from above. The great test of personal piety
is personal holiness:
a meek, forgiving temper,
a serious, devout spirit,
a tender, grateful heart,
a chaste, pious conversation,
a consistent, holy life.
An alleged work of grace on the heart, which leaves
the life wicked—is good for nothing!
life of holiness
is an infallible evidence that we are God's people.
"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared
to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and
worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and
godly lives in this present age." Titus 2:11-12
It is by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that the work
of purifying our natures is carried on to completion.
is inward, personal,
spiritual—of the heart.
of sanctification, is regeneration.
of sanctification, is the word of God.
of sanctification, is the Spirit of God.
of sanctification, is the mediation of Christ.
of sanctification, is laid in God's spotless
holiness and in man's wicked enmity and utter helplessness.
of sanctification, is eternal life.
If he could have things as he would
The child of God is becoming more and more like God.
The wicked wax worse and worse.
The saint longs for God's salvation. The sinner sleeps
not, except he has done some mischief.
The heart of a believer is the best part about him.
If he could have things as he would
never sin any more.
The life of an unconverted man is not nearly so bad
as his heart. He is restrained in many ways from acting
out the worst that is in him.
The godly man blushes at a sinful thought. The unbeliever
loves to have vain thoughts lodge within him.
It is the business of a godly man's life to please God
and strive after holiness. It is the business of a sinner's
life to please himself and commit sin.
There is no difference between
the elect and the non-elect
This love of Christ shown in regeneration is exercised in a
sovereign way. "Of his own will, he begat us." Those who
receive Christ Jesus are "born, not of blood, nor of the will
of the flesh, nor of the will of man—but of God." The vessels
to honor and those to dishonor are made "from the same
lump of clay." By nature there is no difference
the elect and the non-elect
Zaccheus as vile and greedy a worldling, as the rich man, who
lifted up his eyes in hell. The thief who cried, 'Lord, remember
me,' was as guilty and criminal as he, who perished, reviling
the dying Savior. Manasseh was for half a century wholly
corrupt and hardened, covered with sins and crimes, yet he
was saved; while the young ruler, who was so amiable as to
draw forth the natural affections of Christ, persisted in his
covetousness, and perished.
The mere mercy of God
It is the mere mercy of God
keeps a sinner out
of hell even for an hour!
These are his gods
The unbeliever has many objects of love. He loves the world
and the things of the world. When he prospers in worldly
things—he counts himself happy. He is greatly pleased with
gold and silver, and objects of sense, and works of art.
These are his gods
, because he sets
his heart on them.
He thinks of them ten times as much and a thousand times
as eagerly—as he thinks of God.
What makes his case worse is that he is commonly much
at ease. He is well pleased with himself. He is not sighing
over and lamenting his sins. He thinks he is good enough!
His real belief is that God could not righteously and forever
Wholly and absolutely
As a sinner, man can neither commend nor convert himself
He cannot atone for his sins,
he cannot satisfy divine justice,
he cannot subdue his own iniquities,
he cannot perform any holy action.
In the work of salvation, we are wholly and
to the Lord Jesus Christ for reconciliation with God.
We are equally indebted
to the Holy
Spirit . . .
for all right perceptions of truth,
for all really good desires and proper motives,
for all spiritual strength and power to do good.
Truly all our hope is in free grace alone! In all things,
at all times we need the grace of Christ.
One believing view of Christ
"And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants
of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look
on Me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for
Him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for Him
as one grieves for a firstborn son." "On that day a fountain will be
opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
to cleanse them from sin and impurity. On that day, I will banish
the names of the idols from the land, and they will be remembered
no more, declares the Lord Almighty. I will remove both the [false]
prophets and the spirit of impurity from the land."
Zechariah 12:10-11, 13:1-2.
Here we are informed:
1. That God's Spirit is necessary to bring men to true repentance.
2. That the Holy Spirit takes of the things of Christ and shows
them to men for their salvation.
3. That Gospel truth when rightly understood affects all classes alike.
4. That true repentance inclines people to go alone and weep.
5. That such weeping will lead the soul to the blood of Christ.
6. That idolatry and error, sin and heresy will be driven from
among the people.
Such weeping for sin will weep away all love of iniquity.
One believing view of Christ does
more to mortify sin,
than all the terrors of the Lord.
An early death
We should be cheered by knowing that our departed
no more see, or hear, or feel those things—which were they alive
—must vex their righteous souls from day to day.
To the godly man, an
early death is not an evil. He thereby
escapes much suffering. He is taken away from the evil to come.
Let us not be over-anxious for long life. The failure of early hopes,
the decline of usefulness, neglect by one's children, the memory of
past joys, the presence of many pains and infirmities—burden nearly
all the very aged. Their senses are blunted, their strength is not firm,
and their fears have the ascendency.
"Don't let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator.
Honor him in your youth before you grow old and no longer enjoy
living. It will be too late then to remember him, when the light of
the sun and moon and stars is dim to your old eyes, and there is
no silver lining left among the clouds. Your limbs will tremble with
age, and your strong legs will grow weak. Your teeth will be too
few to do their work, and you will be blind, too. And when your
teeth are gone, keep your lips tightly closed when you eat! Even
the chirping of birds will wake you up. But you yourself will be
deaf and tuneless, with a quavering voice. You will be afraid of
heights and of falling, white-haired and withered, dragging along
without any sexual desire. You will be standing at death's door.
And as you near your everlasting home, the mourners will walk
along the streets. Yes, remember your Creator now while you
are young, before the silver cord of life snaps and the golden
bowl is broken. Don't wait until the water jar is smashed at the
spring and the pulley is broken at the well. For then the dust will
return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it."
The malice of the arch enemy
Satan rages, and hates, and lies, and murders the saints;
but his kingdom must fall. The kingdoms of the world shall
become the kingdoms of the Lord, and of his Christ. Glorious
things are spoken of Zion, and they shall all be fulfilled.
Yet these very things awaken the malice of the
Finding he cannot rule—he tempts and annoys the children of
God. He is their great foe. He studies their tempers, and adapts
his temptations to their age, station and inclination. He commonly
attacks them in the weakest point. He worries those whom he
Humility is an excellent grace, much commended in Scripture,
and puts us where we ought to be—in the dust.
Meekness bears the outrageous wrongs heaped upon us with
pity and forgiveness—and so makes us like Christ, who was
brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and opened not His mouth.
Hope is an anchor to the soul, both sure and steadfast, and
being lively, animates the soul in all times of trial.
Love with her broad mantle covers the faults of others,
fills the world with the fame of her deeds, and never fails.
Penitence sits at the feet of Jesus, and bathes them with its
The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life to depart from the
snares of death.
God's rich grace and abundant mercy
God's rich grace and abundant mercy
shine forth in the whole
work of salvation from first to last. The whole devising, execution,
application and crowning of redemption—flow from God's boundless
grace, and infinite, eternal, and unchangeable love!
All our righteous acts
"All of us have become like one who is unclean, and
righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like
leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away." Isaiah 64:6
Self-righteousness seems to be born with sin, and to grow
with its growth. A disposition to deny criminality is universal
among men. Nothing but divine grace can effectually cure
the habit of self-justification.
Nothing in human nature seems to be more obstinate, or
more difficult to eradicate—than a self-righteous spirit.
Without the grace of Christ, no man ever sought or desired
a new heart, or a gracious pardon. Left to themselves, men
will live in sin, die in sin, and lie down in eternal sorrow;
rather than renounce their own goodness and abandon
their self-righteous hopes.
It tends greatly to strengthen these delusions, when men
can plead natural amiability of temper, or a fair standing
with the world for truth, justice and honor, or a decent
and serious attention to the ordinances of religion. Christ
said to the most exact observers of the Mosaic ritual, "the
publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of God before you!"
There is not a more hopeless class, than those who trust
in themselves, that they are righteous.
Until God's Spirit enlightens his mind, he will not see that
salvation can never be compassed by his own power or
merit. So that the very process, by which a sinner is led to
the Savior, is usually one of extreme sadness. He has less
and less, in his own esteem, worthy of honorable mention
before God, until at last he finds out that he is nothing but
a guilty, vile, lost, helpless, perishing sinner. To him the
Gospel is a revelation of mercy. He is charmed with the
method of grace. He gives all honor to the Redeemer, and
is willing to be counted the chief of sinners. He no longer
goes about to establish his own righteousness. His own
merits he counts as nothing. He simply wishes to be found
in Christ. His song is of free, unmerited grace! He works,
indeed, but it is from love to the Savior. He says, "What I
am—I am by the grace of God." He casts his crown at the
Savior's feet. He expects all from the grace of Christ.
Our guilt would instantly sink us to
Man is not only vile and helpless—he is also guilty. He is not
only depraved and without strength—he is also condemned.
The wicked not only have their consciences to clamor against
them, but God is angry with them every day.
No sentence could be more just than this, "the soul that
sins—it shall die." Punishment is deserved by all sinners.
Our guilt would instantly sink us to hell—but
patience and longsuffering of God.
What you think of sin
Tell me what you think of sin, and I
will tell you what you
think of God, of Christ, of the Spirit, of the divine law, of
the blessed Gospel.
He, who looks upon sin merely as a fiction, as a misfortune,
or as a trifle, sees no necessity either for deep repentance or
a great atonement. He, who sees no sin in himself, will feel
no need of a Savior. He, who is conscious of no evil at work
in his heart, will desire no change of nature. He, who regards
sin as a slight affair, will think a few tears, or an outward
reformation ample satisfaction.
The truth is, no man ever thought himself a greater sinner
before God, than he really was. Nor was any man ever more
distressed at his sins, than he had just cause to be. He, who
never felt it to be "an evil and a bitter thing to depart from
God," is to this hour an enemy of his Maker, a rebel against
his rightful and righteous Sovereign.
The chief of sinners
Sin is the worst of evils.
Sin in the heart of the believer, is to him exceedingly odious.
"I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes!"
"O wretched man that I am!"
"O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to you!"
There is a sense, in which every godly man regards himself as
the chief of sinners. That is,
everyone who really knows his
own heart, and has seen the sad work which sin has made in
his moral character, is able as before God, to see more evil in
himself than of any other being.
Worse than poverty, sickness,
Sin is worse than poverty, sickness, reproach.
Sin is worse than all sufferings. The reason is because it is "exceeding
Sin is committed against an infinite God. The ill-desert of any evil
deed is to be determined in part by the dignity of the person, against
whom it is directed. To strike a brother is wrong; to strike a parent is
To sin against God is so impudent, ungrateful and wicked, that no
created mind can ever adequately estimate its atrocity; and so it is an
infinite evil. If sin had its own way, it would dethrone the Almighty.
If men saw their sins aright, they would more highly prize divine mercy;
and if they had more worthy conceptions of God's grace, they would have
more abasing views of themselves.
We may learn much of the evil nature of sin by the names which the Bible
gives to it, and to those who practice it. It is called disobedience,
transgression, iniquity, foolishness, madness, rebellion, evil, evil
fruit, uncleanness, filthiness, pollution, perverseness, frowardness,
stubbornness, revolt, an abomination, an accursed thing. In like manner
deeds of wickedness are called evil works, works of darkness, dead
works, works of the flesh, works of the devil. And wicked men are called
sinners, unjust, unholy, unrighteous, filthy, evil men, evil doers,
seducers, despisers, children of darkness, children of the devil,
children of hell, corrupters, idolaters, enemies of God, enemies of all
righteousness, adversaries of God and man, liars, deceivers.
From low, meager apprehensions of the divine nature and law, flow a
slight estimate of the evil of sin, spiritual pride, self-conceit, and a
disesteem of the most precious righteousness of Jesus Christ. He, who
can go to Gethsemane and Calvary, and come away with slight views of the
evil nature of sin—must be blind indeed! There God speaks in
accents not to be misunderstood but by the willful. Yet such is the
perverseness of men that they often refuse to learn even at the cross of