Trouble, sorrow, and affliction

"And He led them forth by the right way,
 that they might go to a city of habitation."
     Psalm 107:7

Those very times when God's people think
they are faring ill, may be the seasons when
they are really faring well. For instance, when
their souls are bowed down with trouble, it
often seems to them that they are faring ill.
God's hand appears to be gone out against
them. Yet perhaps they never fare better than
when under these circumstances of trouble,
sorrow, and affliction
.
These things wean them from the world.

If their heart and affections were going out
after idols—they instrumentally bring them back.

If they were hewing out broken cisterns
—they dash them all to pieces.

If they were setting up, and bowing down to
idols in the chambers of imagery, affliction
and trouble smite them to pieces before their
eyes—take away their gods—and leave them
no refuge but the Lord God of hosts.

So that when a child of God thinks he is faring very
ill, because burdened with sorrows, temptations,
and afflictions—he is never faring so well. The darkest
clouds in due time will break, the most puzzling
enigmas will sooner or later be unriddled by the
blessed Spirit interpreting them—and the darkest
providences cleared up—and we shall see that God
is in them all—leading and guiding us by the right
way
, that we may go to a city of habitation.



If you are at home in the world

"We are here for only a moment, sojourners and
 strangers in the land
as our ancestors were
 before us. Our days on earth are like a shadow,
 gone so soon without a trace." 1 Chron. 29:15

If you possess the faith of Abraham, Isaac, and
Jacob, you, like them, confess that you are a stranger;
and your confession springs out of a believing heart
and a sincere experience.

You feel yourself a stranger in this ungodly world.

It is not your element.

It is not your home.

You are in it during God's appointed time,
but you wander up and down this world . . .
  a stranger to its company,
  a stranger to its maxims,
  a stranger to its fashions,
  a stranger to its principles,
  a stranger to its motives,
  a stranger to its lusts,
  a stranger to its inclinations—and all in which
this world moves as in its native element.

Grace has separated you by God's sovereign power,
that though you are in the world, you are not of it.

I can tell you plainly if you are at home in the
world
—if the things of time and sense are your
element—if you feel one with . . .
    the company of the world,
    the maxims of the world,
    the fashions of the world, and
    the principles of the world,
grace has not reached your heart—the faith
of God's elect does not dwell in your bosom.

The first effect of grace is to separate.

It was so in the case of Abraham. He was called
by grace to leave the land of his fathers, and go
out into a land that God would show him. And so
God's own word to His people is now, "Come out
from among them, and be separate, says the Lord,
and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive
you, and will be a Father unto you, and you shall
be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."

Separation, separation, separation from the world;
is the grand distinguishing mark of vital godliness.

There may be indeed separation of body where there
is no separation of heart. But what I mean is . . .
  separation of heart,
  separation of principle,
  separation of affection,
  separation of spirit.
And if grace has touched your heart, and you are
a partaker of the faith of God's elect—you are a
stranger in the world—and will make it manifest
by your life and conduct that you are such.
 


From a burning hellto a blissful heaven!

"I consider that our present sufferings are
 not worth comparing with the glory that
 will be revealed in us." Romans 8:18

What is to be compared with the salvation of the
soul? What are—riches, honors, health, long life?
What are all the pleasures which the world can
offer, sin promise, or the flesh enjoy? What is
all that men call good or great? What is everything
which the eye has seen, or the ear heard, or has
entered into the carnal heart of man—put side by
side with being saved in the Lord Jesus Christ
with an everlasting salvation?

For consider what we are saved FROM,
as well as what we are saved UNTO.

From a burning hellto a blissful heaven!

From endless wrathto eternal glory!

From the dreadful company of devils and damned
spirits, mutually tormenting and tormented—to

the blessed companionship of the glorified saints,
all perfectly conformed in body and soul to the image
of Christ, with thousands and tens of thousands of
holy angels—and, above all, to seeing the glorious
Son of God as he is, in all the perfection of His beauty,
and all the ravishments of His presence and love.

To be done forever with . . .
  all the sorrows, troubles, and afflictions of this life;
  all the pains and aches of the present clay tabernacle;
  all the darkness, bondage, and misery of the body of sin and death.

To be perfectly holy in body and soul, being in both
without spot, or blemish, or any such thing, and ever
to enjoy uninterrupted communion with God!
 


Our own wisdom, righteousness, and strength

"Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of
 you thinks he is wise by the standards of
 this age, he should become a "fool" so
 that he may become wise." 1 Cor. 3:18

The fruit and effect of divine teaching is—to
cut in pieces, and root up all our fleshly . . .
  wisdom,
  strength, and
  righteousness.

God never means to patch a new piece upon
an old garment. All our wisdom, our strength,
our righteousness must be torn to pieces!
It must all be plucked up by the roots—that
a new wisdom, a new strength, and a new
righteousness may arise upon its ruins.

But until the Lord is pleased to teach us—we
never can part with our own righteousness,
never give up our own wisdom, never abandon
our own strength. These things are a part and
parcel of ourselves—so ingrained within us—so
innate in us—so growing with our growth—that
we cannot willingly part with an atom of them
until the Lord Himself breaks them up, and
plucks them away.

Then, as He brings into our souls some spiritual
knowledge of our own dreadful corruptions and
horrible wickedness—our righteousness crumbles
away at the divine touch.

As He leads us to see and feel our ignorance and
folly in a thousand instances—and how unable we
are to understand anything aright but by divine
teaching—our wisdom fades away.

As He shows us our inability to resist temptation
and overcome sin, by any exertion of our own—
our strength
gradually departs—and we become
like Samson, when his locks were cut off.

Upon the ruins, then, of our own wisdom,
righteousness, and strength
, does God build
up Christ's wisdom, Christ's righteousness, and
Christ's strength.

But only so far as we are favored with this special
teaching are we brought to pass a solemn sentence
of condemnation upon our own wisdom, strength,
and righteousness—and sincerely seek after the Lord's.

 

 

Oh! sweet grace, blessed grace!

"For it is by grace you have been saved."
    Ephesians 2:8

We are saved by grace . . .
  free grace,
  rich grace,
  sovereign grace,
  distinguishing grace—
without one atom of works,
without one grain of creature merit,
without anything of the flesh.

Oh! sweet grace, blessed grace!

Oh! what a help—what a strength—what
a rest for a poor toiling, striving, laboring
soul—to find that grace has done all the
work—to feel that grace has triumphed in
the cross of Christ—to find that . . .
  nothing is required,  nothing is needed,
  nothing is to be done!

 

 

Dying?

"As dying, and, behold, we live."
    2 Corinthians 6:9

Though we die, and die daily—yet, behold,
we live. And in a sense, the more we die,
the more we live.

The more we die to self,
the more we die to sin.

The more we die to pride and self-righteousness,
the more we die to creature strength.

The more we die to sinful nature,
the more we live to grace.

This runs all the way through the
life and experience of a Christian.

Nature must die,
that grace may live.

The weeds must be plucked up,
that the crop may grow.

The flesh must be starved,
that the spirit may be fed.

The old man must be put off,
that the new man may be put on.

The deeds of the body must be mortified,
that the soul may live unto God.

As then we die—we live.

The more we die to our own strength,
the more we live to Christ's strength.

The more we die to creature hope,
the more we live to a good hope through grace.

The more we die to our own righteousness,
the more we live to Christ's righteousness.

The more we die to the world,
the more we live to and for heaven.

This is the grand mystery—that the Christian
is always dying, yet always living—and the
more he dies, the more he lives.

The death of the flesh,
is the life of the spirit.

The death of sin,
is the life of righteousness.

The death of the creature,
is the very life of God in the soul.

"As dying, and, behold, we live."
    2 Corinthians 6:9

 


You were bought with a price!


"You were bought with a price!" 1 Cor. 6:20

How deep,
how dreadful,
of what alarming magnitude,
of how black a dye,
of how ingrained a stamp—
must sin be
, to need such an atonement,
no less than the blood of the Son of God,
to put it away!

What a slave to sin and Satan,
what a captive to the power of lust,
how deeply sunk,
how awfully degraded,
how utterly lost and undone, must guilty
man be—to need a sacrifice like this!

Have you ever felt your bondage to sin, Satan,
and the world? Have you ever—groaned, cried,
grieved, sorrowed, and lamented under your
miserable captivity to the power of sin?

Has the iron ever entered into your soul? Have
you ever clanked your fetters, and as you did so,
and tried to burst them—they seemed to bind
round about you with a weight scarcely endurable?

You were slaves of sin and Satan. You were
shut up in the dark cell, where all was gloom
and despondency. There was little hope in your
soul of ever being saved.

But there was an entrance of gospel light into your
dungeon—there was a coming out of the house of
bondage! "You were bought with a price!"



Which is better?

"You are not your own." 1 Corinthians 6:19

Remember that you must belong to someone.

If God is not your master—the devil will be.

If grace does not rule—sin will reign.

If Christ is not your all in all—the world will be.

We must have a master of one kind or another.

Which is better . . .
  a bounteous benevolent Benefactor;
  a merciful, loving, and tender Parent;
  a kind, forgiving Father and Friend; 
  a tender-hearted, compassionate Redeemer?
or
 
a cruel devil,
  a miserable world, and
  a wicked, vile, abominable heart?

Which is better . . .
to live under the sweet constraints of the
dying love of a dear Redeemer—under . . .
  gospel influences,
  gospel principles,
  gospel promises, and
  gospel encouragements? 
or
 
to live with sin in our heart, binding us in
  iron chains to the judgment of the great day?

Even taking the 'present life'—there is more real
pleasure, satisfaction, and solid happiness . . .
  in half an hour with God,
  in reading his Word with a believing heart,
  in finding access to His sacred presence,
  in knowing something of His favor and mercy—
than in . . .
  all the delights of sin,
  all the lusts of the flesh,
  all the pride of life, and
  all the amusements that the world has ever
devised to kill time and cheat self—thinking, by
a deathbed repentance, at last to cheat the devil.


 

Conflicts, trials, painful exercises,
sharp sorrows, and deep temptations


"The Lord tries the righteous." Psalm 11:5

To keep water fresh, it must be perpetually
running. And to keep the life of God up in
the soul
, there must be continual trials.

This is the reason why the Lord's people have so many . . .
  conflicts,
  trials,
  painful exercises,
  sharp sorrows,
  and deep temptations

to keep them alive unto God—to bring them
out of, and to keep them out of that slothful,
sluggish, wretched state of carnal security.

The Lord, therefore, "tries the righteous."
He will not allow His people . . .
  to be at ease in Zion;
  to be settled on their lees, and
  get into a wretched Moabitish state.

He therefore sends upon them afflictions,
tribulations, and trials—and allows Satan
to tempt and harass them.

 


Personal, spiritual, experimental
knowledge of Jesus


It is our dim, scanty, and imperfect knowledge of
the Lord Jesus Christ in His eternal love—and in
His grace and glory—which leaves us so often cold,
lifeless, and dead in our affections towards Him.

If there were more blessed revelations to our soul
of the Person and work, grace and glory, beauty and
blessedness of the Lord Jesus Christ—it is impossible
but that we would more and more warmly and tenderly
fall in love with Him—for He is the most glorious object
that the eyes of faith can see!

He fills heaven with the resplendent beams of His
glorious majesty—and has ravished the hearts of
thousands of His dear family upon earth by the
manifestations of His bleeding, dying love. Just in
proportion to our personal, spiritual, experimental
knowledge of Him
, will be our love to Him.
 


I have loved you with an everlasting love

The Lord has appeared of old unto me, saying,
"Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;
 therefore with loving kindness have I drawn you."
    Jeremiah 31:3

There can be no new thought in the mind of GOD.

New thoughts, new feelings, new plans,
new resolutions continually occur to OUR
mind—for ours is but a . . .
 
poor,
  fallen,
  fickle,
  changeable nature.

But God has no new—thoughts, feelings, plans or
resolutions. For if He had, He would be a 'changeable'
Being—not one great, eternal, unchangeable 'I Am'.
All His thoughts, therefore, all His plans, all His ways
are like Himself . . .
  eternal,
  infinite,
  unchanging,
  unchangeable.

The love of Christ to His Church is also—eternal,
unchanging, unchangeable. And why? Because
He loves as Deity.

O what a mercy it is for those who have any gracious,
experimental knowledge of the love of Christ—to believe
it is from everlasting to everlasting—that no incidents of
time, no storms of sin or Satan, can ever change or alter
that eternal love—but that it remains now and will
remain the same to all eternity!

 


Help from the sanctuary

"May the Lord answer you when you are in
 distress—may the name of the God of Jacob
 protect you. May he send you help from the
 sanctuary
and grant you support from Zion."
    Psalm 20:1-2

When the soul has to pass through the trying hour
of temptation, it needs help from the sanctuary.
All other help leaves the soul just where it found it.

Help is sent from the sanctuary because
his name has been from all eternity . . .
  registered in the Lamb's book of life,
  engraved upon the palms of His hands,
  borne on His shoulder,
  and worn on His heart.

Communications of life and grace from the sanctuary
produce spirituality and heavenly-mindedness. The
breath of heaven in his soul . . .
  draws his affections upward,
  weans him from earth, and
  makes him a pilgrim and a sojourner here below,
"looking for a city which has foundations, whose
builder and maker is God."

 


Holy wrestling


Wherever the Lord brings trials upon the soul,
He pours out upon it the spirit of grace and
supplication.

If the child of God has a burden;
if he is laboring under a strong temptation;
if his soul is passing through some pressing trial;
he is not satisfied with merely going through a
'form of prayer'. There is at such times and
seasons, a holy wrestling . . .
  there are fervent desires;
  there are unceasing groans;
  there is a laboring to enter into rest;
  there is a struggling after deliverance; 
  there is a crying unto the Lord—until He
appears and manifests Himself in the soul.



A disciple of Jesus

A disciple of Jesus is one who is admitted by
the Lord Jesus into His school—whom He Himself
condescends personally to instruct—and who
therefore learns of Him to be meek and lowly
of heart.

A disciple of Jesus is one who sits meekly at
the Redeemer's feet—receiving into his heart
the gracious words which fall from His lips.

But a true and sincere disciple not only listens to
his Master's instructions, but acts as He bids. So
a disciple of Jesus is one who copies his Master's
example—and is conformed to his Master's image.

A disciple of Jesus is also characterized by the love
which he bears to his Master—he is one who treasures
up the words of Christ in his heart—ponders over His
precious promises—and delights in His glorious Person,
love, and blood.

A disciple of Jesus is one who bears some reflection
to the image of his heavenly Master—he carries it
about with him wherever he goes—that men may
take knowledge of him, that he has been with Jesus.
The true disciple shines before men with some
sparkles of the glory of the Son of God.

To have some of these divine features stamped upon
the heart, lip, and life—is to be a disciple of Jesus.

To be much with Jesus is to be made like unto Jesus—
to sit at Jesus' feet is to drink in Jesus' words—to lean
upon Jesus' breast is to feel the warm heart of Jesus
pulsating with love—and to feel this pulsation, causes
the heart of the disciple to beat in tender and
affectionate unison—to look up to Jesus, is to see a
face more marred than the sons of men; yet a face
beaming with heavenly beauty, dignity, and glory.

To be  a disciple of Jesus, is to copy His example—
to do the things pleasing in His sight—and to avoid
the things which He abhors.

To be  a disciple of Jesus, is to be as . . .
  meek as He was;
  humble as He was;
  lowly as He was;
  self-denying as He was;
  separate from the world as He was;
  living a life of communion with God—
as He lived when He walked here below.

To take a worm of the earth and make him a
disciple of Jesus
is the greatest privilege God
can bestow upon man! To select an obstinate,
ungodly, perverse rebel, and place him in the
school of Christ and at the feet of Jesus—is the
highest favor God can bestow upon any child of
the dust.

How unsurpassingly great must be that kindness
whereby the Lord condescends to bestow His grace
on an enemy—and to soften and meeken him by
His Spirit—and thus cause him to grow up into the
image and likeness of His own dear Son. Compared
with this high privilege—all earthly honors, titles and
robes sink into utter insignificance.

 


Sovereign, supreme disposal


"And God placed all things under His feet and
 appointed Him to be head over everything,"
    Ephesians 1:22

How vast—how numerous—how complicated are
the various events and circumstances which attend
the Christian here below, as he travels onward to
his heavenly home!

But if all things are put under Jesus' feet—there
cannot be a single circumstance over which He
has not supreme control. Everything in providence
and everything in grace are alike subject to His
disposal. There is not . . .
  a trial,
  a temptation,
  an affliction of body or soul,
  a loss,
  a cross,
  a painful bereavement,
  a vexation,
  a grief,
  a disappointment,
  a case, state or condition,
which is not put under Jesus' feet.

He has sovereign, supreme disposal over all
events and circumstances.
As possessed of
infinite knowledge He sees them—as possessed
of infinite wisdom He can manage them—and as
possessed of infinite power He can dispose and
direct them for our good and His own glory.

How much trouble and anxiety would we save
ourselves, could we firmly believe, realize, and
act on this!

If we could see by the eye of faith that . . .
  every foe and every fear,
  every difficulty and perplexity,
  every trying or painful circumstance,
  every looked-for or unlooked-for event,
  every source of care, whether at present or
in prospect—are all put under His feet—at His
sovereign disposal—what a load of anxiety and
care would be often taken off our shoulders!



You must not love one of
these glittering baubles

"Do not love the world or anything in
 the world."
1 John 2:15

This is a very wide sentence. It stretches forth
a hand of vast grasp. It places us, as it were,
upon a high mountain, and it says to us,
"Look around you—there is not one of these
things which you must love."

It takes us, again, to the streets of a crowded
city
—it shows us shop windows filled with objects
of beauty and ornament—it points us to all the
wealth and grandeur of the rich and noble, and
everything that the human heart admires and
loves. And having thus set before us, it says,
"None of these things are for you. You must not
love one of these glittering baubles
—you must
not touch one of them, or scarcely look at them,
lest, as with Achan, the golden wedge and the
Babylonish garment should tempt you to take
them and hide them in your tent."

The precept takes us through the world as a
mother takes a child through a bazaar—with
playthings and ornaments on every side—and
says, "You must not touch one of these things."

In some such similar way the precept would, as
it were, take us through the world—and when we
had looked at all its playthings and its ornaments,
it would sound in our ears—"Don't touch any one
of them; they are not yours—not for you to enjoy,
not for you even to covet!"

Can anything less than this be intended by those
words which should be ever sounding in the ears
of the children of God—"Do not love the world or
anything in the world"?

 


One unmingled scene of
happiness and pleasure

"In My Father's house are many mansions;
 if it were not so, I would have told you. I
 go to prepare a place for you." John 14:2

O that we could lift our eyes to those blessed
abodes—those mansions of heavenly bliss—
where no sorrow intrudes,
where sin is unknown,
where tears are wiped from off all faces,
where there is . . .
  no languishing body,
  no wasting sickness,
  no pining soul,
  no doubt,
  no fear,
  no darkness,
  no distress—
but one unmingled scene of happiness and
pleasure
—and the whole soul and body are
engaged in singing the praises of the Lamb!

And what crowns the whole—there is the
eternal enjoyment of those pleasures which
are at the right hand of God forevermore!

But how lost are we in the contemplation of
these things—and though our imagination may
seem to stretch itself beyond the utmost
conception of the mind, into the countless
ages of a never-ending eternity, yet are we
baffled with the thought—though faith
embraces the blessed truth.

But in that happy land, the immortal soul and
the immortal body will combine their powers
and faculties to enjoy to the uttermost all
that God has prepared for those who love Him.



The rod was dipped in love

"I will bear the indignation of the Lord,
 because  I have sinned against Him."
    Micah 7:9

It is a view of our sins against God that
enables us to bear the indignation of the
Lord against us and them.

As long as we are left to a spirit of pride and
self-righteousness, we murmur at the Lord's
dealings when His hand lies heavy upon us.

But let us only truly feel what we rightly deserve
—that will silence at once all murmuring. You may
murmur and rebel sometimes at your hard lot in
providence. But if you feel what you deserve—it
will make you water with 'tears of repentance'
the hardest cross.


So in grace, if you feel the weight of your sins,
and mourn and sigh because you have sinned
against God, you can lift up your hands sometimes
with holy wonder at God's patient mercy that He
has borne with you so long—that He has not smitten
you to the earth, or sent your guilty soul to hell.

You will see, also, that the heaviest strokes were
but fatherly chastenings—that the rod was dipped
in love
—and that it was for your good and His glory
that it was laid on you.

When this sense of merited indignation comes into
the soul, then meekness and submission come with
it, and it can say with the prophet—"I will bear the
indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned
against Him."

You would not escape the rod if you might.
 


You can trust no minister really and fully.

"Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." John 1:17

The way to learn truth is to be much in
prayer to the Lord Jesus Christ. Beg of Him to
teach you Himself—for He is the best teacher.
The words which He speaks, they "are spirit
and life." What He writes upon our hearts is
written in characters which will "stand every
storm and live at last."

We forget what we learn from 'man'—but
we never forget what we learn from Jesus.

'Men' may deceive—Christ cannot.

You can trust no minister really and fully.

Though you may receive truth from his lips,
it is always mixed with human infirmity. But
what you get from the lips of Jesus—you get
in all its purity and power.

It comes warm from Him—it comes cold from 'men'.

It drops like the rain and distills like the dew from
His mouth—it comes only second-hand from men.

If I preach to you the truth, I preach indeed as the
Lord enables me to speak. But it is He who must
speak with power to your souls to do you any
real good.
Look then away from me—look beyond
me—to Him who alone can teach us both.

By looking to Jesus in the inmost feelings of your
soul, you will draw living truth from out of His bosom
into your own—from His heart into your heart—and thus
will come feelingly and experimentally to know the
blessedness of His own declaration—"I am the truth."

 


Buried in the grave of
carnality and worldliness


"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ,
 set your hearts on things above, where Christ
 is seated at the right hand of God." Col. 3:1
How many there are even of those who desire
to fear God who are kept down by the world,
and to whom it has not lost its attractive power.

They are held fast, at least for a time, by worldly
business—or entangled by worldly people or worldly
engagements . . .
  their partners in business or their partners in life;
  their carnal relatives or their worldly children;
  their numerous connections or their social habits;
  their strong passions or their deep rooted prejudices;
all bind and fetter them down to earth.

There they grovel and lie amid "the smoke, and stir
of this dim spot which men call earth;" and so bound
are they with the cords of their sins, that they scarcely
seek deliverance from them—or ever desire to rise
beyond the mists and fogs of this dim spot into a
purer air—so as to breathe a heavenly atmosphere, and
rise up with Jesus from the grave of their corruptions.

But they shall never be buried in the grave of carnality
and worldliness.



A solitary drop of this holy anointing oil

"As for you, the anointing you received from
 Him remains in you, and you do not need
 anyone to teach you. But as His anointing
 teaches you about all things and as that
 anointing is real, not counterfeit . . ."
    1 John 2:27

Have you ever had a solitary drop of this
holy anointing oil
fall upon your heart?


One drop, if it be but a drop, will sanctify you
forever to the service of God. There was not
much of the holy anointing oil used for the
service of the tabernacle, when we consider the
size and quantity of what had to be consecrated.
When he went through the sacred work, he
touched one vessel after another with a drop
of oil—for one drop sanctified the vessel to
the service of the tabernacle.

There was no repetition of the consecration
needed—it abode. So if you ever had a drop of
God's love shed abroad in your heart—a drop of
the anointing to teach you the truth as it is in
Jesus—a drop to penetrate, to soften, to heal,
to feed—and give light, life, and power to your
soul—you have the unction from the Holy One—

you know all things which are for your salvation,
and by that same holy oil you have been sanctified
and made fit for an eternal inheritance.

 


'Practical atheists', we daily
prove ourselves to be.


We profess to believe in an All-mighty, All-present,
All-seeing God. But we would be highly offended
if a person said to us, "You do not really believe
that God sees everything—that He is everywhere
present—that He is an Almighty Jehovah." We
would almost think that he was taking us for
an atheist! And yet 'practical atheists', we
daily prove ourselves to be.


For instance, we profess to believe that God sees
everything.
And yet we are plotting and planning
as though He saw nothing.

We profess to know that God can do everything.
And yet we are always cutting out schemes, and
carving out contrivances, as though He were like
the gods of the heathen, looking on and taking
no notice.

We profess to believe that God is everywhere
present
to relieve every difficulty and bring His
people out of every trial. And yet when we get
into the difficulty and into the trial—we speak,
think, and act, as though there were no such
omnipresent God, who knows the circumstances
of our case, and can stretch forth His hand to
bring us out of it.

Thus the Lord is obliged to thrust us into trials
and afflictions, because we are such blind fools,
that we cannot learn what a God we have to deal
with—until we come experimentally into those spots
of difficulty and trial, out of which none but such a
God can deliver us.

This, then, is one reason why the Lord often plunges
His people so deeply into a sense of sin. It is to show
them what a wonderful salvation from the guilt, filth,
and power of sin, there is in the Lord Jesus Christ.

For the same reason, too, they walk in such scenes
of temptation. It is in order to show them what a
wonder-working God He is, in bringing them out.

This too is the reason why many of them are so
harassed and plagued. It is that they may not
live and act as though there were . . .
  no God to go to,
  no Almighty friend to consult,
  no kind Jesus to rest their weary heads upon.
It is in order to teach them experimentally and
inwardly those lessons of grace and truth which
they never would know until the Lord, as it were,
thus compels them to learn—and actually forces
them to believe what they profess to believe.

Such pains is he obliged to take with us—such poor
scholars, such dull creatures we are.
No child at

a school ever gave his master a thousandth part of
the trouble that we have given the Lord to teach us.

In order, then, to teach us what a merciful and
compassionate God He is—in order to open up the
heights, and depths, and lengths, and breadths of
His love—He is compelled to treat, at times, His
people very roughly—and handle them very sharply.
He is obliged to make very great use of His rod,
because He sees that "foolishness is so bound up
in the hearts" of His children—that nothing but the
repeated "rod of correction will ever drive it far
from them."




Dead in sin


"As for you, you were dead in trespasses
 and sins." Ephesians 2:1

To be dead in sin is to have . . .
  no present part or lot with God;
  no knowledge of Him;
  no faith, no trust, no hope in Him;
  no sense of His presence;
  no reverence of His awesome Majesty;
  no desire after Him or inclination toward Him;
  no trembling at His word;
  no longing for His grace;
  no care or concern for His glory.

To be dead in sin is to be as a beast before Him,
intent like a brute on satisfying the cravings of lust,
or the movements of mere animal passion—without
any thought or concern what shall be the outcome,
and to be bent upon carrying out into action every
selfish purpose, as if we were . . .
  self creators,
  our own judge,
  our own lord,
  and our own God.

O what a terrible state is it to be thus dead in sin,
and not to know it—not to feel it—to be in no way
sensible of its present danger and certain end—unless
delivered from it by a mighty act of sovereign power!

It is this lack of all sense and feeling which makes
the death of the soul to be but the prelude to that
second death which stretches through a boundless
eternity.


 

Continual salvation?

"I cried unto You—Save me, and I shall
 keep Your testimonies." Psalm 119:146

If you know anything for yourself, inwardly
and experimentally of . . .
  the evils of your heart,
  the power of sin,
  the strength of temptation,
  the subtlety of your unwearied foe,
  and that daily conflict between nature and
grace, the flesh and the spirit, which is the
peculiar mark of the living family of heaven;
you will find and feel your need of salvation
as a daily reality.
There is present salvation
an inward, experimental, and continual salvation
communicated out of the fullness of Christ as
a risen Mediator.

You need to be daily and almost hourly
saved from the . . .
  guilt,
  filth,
  power,
  love, and
  practice
of indwelling sin.

"I cried unto You—Save me, and I shall
 keep Your testimonies." Psalm 119:146



The fatal mistake of thousands

The fatal mistake of thousands is to offer
unto God the fruits of the flesh—instead of
the fruits of the Spirit.

Fleshly holiness,
fleshly exertions, fleshly prayers,
fleshly duties,
fleshly religious forms,
fleshly zeal—
these are what men consider good works,
and present them as such to God.

But well may He "who is of purer eyes than to
behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity", say
to all such fleshly workers, "If you offer the blind
for sacrifice, is it not evil? And if you offer the
crippled and the diseased, is it not evil?"

All that the flesh can do is evil, for "every
imagination of man's heart is only evil continually;"
and to present the fruits of this filthy heart to the
Lord of hosts, is "to offer defiled food upon His altar."

A broken heart,
a contrite spirit,
a tender conscience,
a filial fear of God,
a desire to please Him,
a dread to offend the great God of heaven,
a sense of the evil of sin,
a desire to be delivered from sin's dominion,
a mourning over our repeated backslidings,
grief at being so often entangled in our lusts and passions,
an acquaintance with our helplessness and weakness,
simplicity and godly sincerity,
a hanging upon grace for daily supplies,
watching the hand of Providence,
a singleness of eye to the glory of God,
—these are a few of the fruits of the Spirit.
 


The great secret of vital godliness

The great secret of vital godliness is to
be nothing—that Christ may be all in all.

Every stripping, sifting, and emptying—every trial,
exercise and temptation that the soul passes through,
has but one object—to beat out of man's heart that
cursed spirit of independence which the devil breathed
into him when he said, "You shall be as gods".

A man must well near be bled to death before
this venom can be drained out of his veins!
 


The filthy holes and puddles
in which it grovels


In the first awakenings of the soul, we do not usually
know much, nor feel much, of our fallen sinful nature.
We feel more the guilt of sin 'committed' than of sin
'indwelling'.

The way in which SIN sometimes seems to sleep,
and at other times to awake up with renewed strength—
its active, irritable, impatient, restless nature,
the many shapes and colors it wears,
the filthy holes and puddles in which it grovels,
the corners into which it creeps,
its deceitfulness,
its hypocrisy,
its craft,
its deceptive attraction,
its intense selfishness,
its utter recklessness,
its desperate madness,
and insatiable greediness—are
secrets, painful secrets, only
learned by bitter experience.



If the devil ever feels joy

If the devil ever feels joy—it is in making souls miserable.

The cries of the damned are his music.

Their curses and blasphemies are his songs of triumph.
Their anguish and despair are his wretched feast.



Do not fear.

Say to those who are afraid, "Be strong, and do
not fear
, for your God is coming to destroy your
enemies. He is coming to save you." Isaiah 35:4

"Do not fear." "Ah! but Lord," the soul says, "I do
fear. I fear myself more than anybody. I fear . . .
  my base, wicked heart,
  my strong lusts and passions,
  my numerous inward enemies,
  the snares of Satan,
  and the temptations of the world.
I do fear. I cannot help but fear."

Still the Lord says, "Do not fear."

Here is a child trembling before a large mastiff
dog; but the father says, "Do not fear, he will
not hurt you, only keep close to me."

Who is that dog but Satan, that huge mastiff,
whose jaws are reeking with blood? If the Lord
says, "Do not fear," why need we fear him?
He is a chained enemy.

But how the timid soul needs the divine "Fear nots!"
For without Him, it is all weakness—with Him, all strength;
without Him, all trembling—with Him, all boldness.

Say to those who are afraid, "Be strong, and do
not fear
, for your God is coming to destroy your
enemies. He is coming to save you." Isaiah 35:4
 


The desire of our soul

"The desire of our soul is to Your Name, and
  to the remembrance of You." Isaiah 26:8

How sweet and expressive is the phrase, "The desire
of our soul
!" How it seems to carry our feelings with it!
How it seems to describe the longings and utterings of
a soul into which God has breathed the spirit of grace
and mercy!

"The desire of our soul"—
  the breathing of our heart,
  the longing of our inmost being,
  the cry, the sigh, the panting of our new nature,
  the—
    heavings,
    gaspings,
    lookings,
    longings,
    pantings,
    hungerings,
    thirstings, and
    ventings forth of the new man of grace;
all are expressed in those sweet and blessed
words—"The desire of our soul."

And what a mercy it is, that there should ever be
in us "the desire" of a living soul—that though the
righteous dealings of God are painful and severe,
running contrary to everything nature loves—yet
that with all these, there should be dropped into
the heart that mercy, love, and grace—which draw
forth the desire of the soul toward the Name of God.

This is expressed in the words that follow, "My
soul yearns for You in the night—in the morning
my spirit longs for You!" Isaiah 26:9.

Is your soul longing after the Lord Jesus Christ?

Is it ever, in the night season, panting after the
manifestation of His presence? hungering and
thirsting after the dropping of some word from His
lips—some sweet whisper of His love to your soul?

These are marks of saving grace.
The carnal, the unregenerate, the ungodly,
have no such desires and feelings as these!

 


O self! Self!

Oh, to be kept from myself—my . . .
  vile,
  proud,
  lustful,
  hypocritical,
  worldly,
  covetous,
  presumptuous,
  obscene self.

O self! Self!
Your desperate wickedness,
your depravity,
your love of sin,
your abominable pollutions,
your monstrous heart wickedness,
your wretched deadness, hardness,
blindness, and indifference.

You are a treacherous villain,
and, I fear, always will be such!

 


What are all the gilded toys of time?

What are all the gilded toys of time compared
with the solemn, weighty realities of eternity!

But, alas! what wretches are we when left to . . .
    sin,
    self, and
    Satan!

How unable to withstand the faintest breath of temptation!

How bent upon backsliding!

Who can fathom the depths of the human heart?

Oh, what but grace, superabounding grace,
can either suit or save such wretches?




That dear, idolized creature

"I have been crucified with Christ.
 Nevertheless I live." Galatians 2:20

The crucifixion of self is indispensable to following Christ.

What is so dear to a man as himself?

Yet this beloved self is to be crucified.

Whether it be . . .
  proud self,
  or ambitious self,
  or selfish self,
  or covetous self,
  or, what is harder still, religious self;
that dear, idolized creature, which has
been the subject of so much . . .
  fondling,
  petting,
  pampering,
  nursing–
this fondly loved self has to be taken out of
our bosom by the hand of God, and nailed to
Christ's cross! The same grace which pardons
sin also subdues it!

To be crucified with Christ! To have everything
that the flesh loves and idolizes put to death!
How can a man survive such a process?

"Nevertheless I live!"

As the world, sin, and self are crucified, subdued,
and subjugated by the power of the cross, the life
of God springs up with new vigor in the soul.

Here, then, is the great secret of vital godliness:
that the more that sin and self, and the world are
mortified, the more do holiness and spirituality of
mind, heavenly affections and gracious desires
spring up and flourish in the soul.

O! blessed death! O! still more blessed life!

"I have been crucified with Christ.
 Nevertheless I live." Galatians 2:20




Unquenched, unquenchable!


"Many waters cannot quench love; neither
 can floods drown it.
" Song of Solomon 8:7

The bride uses a figure which shall express the
insuperable strength of divine love against all
opposition; and she therefore compares it to
a fire which burns and burns unquenched and
unquenchable, whatever be the amount of water
poured upon it. Thus the figure expresses the
flame of holy love which burned in the heart of
the Redeemer as unquenchable by any opposition
made to it.

How soon is earthly love cooled by opposition! A
little ingratitude, a few hard speeches, cold words
or even cold looks, seem often almost sufficient to
quench love that once shone warm and bright. And
how often, too, even without these cold waters thrown
upon it, does it appear as if ready to die out by itself.

But the love of Christ was unquenchable by all those
waters. Not all the ingratitude, unbelief, or coldness
of His people could quench His eternal love to them!

He knew what the Church was in herself,
and ever would be . . .
  how cold and wandering her affections,
  how roving her desires,
  how backsliding her heart!

But all these waters could not extinguish His love!

It still burnt as a holy flame in His bosom,
unquenched, unquenchable!

"Many waters cannot quench love; neither
 can floods drown it.
" Song of Solomon 8:7




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