Some beloved idol?

"Because the whole land is filled with idols, and the
 people are madly in love with them.
" Jeremiah 50:38

Have we not all in our various ways,
set up some beloved idol . . .
  something which engaged our affections,
  something which occupied our thoughts,
  something to which we devoted all the energies of our minds,
  something for which we were willing to labor night and day?

Be it money,
be it power,
be it esteem of men,
be it respectability,
be it worldly comfort,
be it literary knowledge,
there was a secret setting up of SELF in one or
more of its various forms, and a bowing down
to it as an idol.


The man of business makes money his god.

The man of pleasure makes the lust of the flesh his god.

The proud man makes his adored SELF his god.

The Pharisee makes self-righteousness his god.

The Arminian makes free-will his god.

The Calvinist makes dry doctrine his god.

All in one way or other, however they may differ
in the object of their idolatrous worship, agree in
this: that they give a preference in their esteem
and affection to their peculiar idol, above the one
true God.

"Idols will be utterly abolished and destroyed."
    Isaiah 2:18

There is, then, a time to break down these
idols which our fallen nature has set up.

And have not we experienced some measure of
this breaking down, both externally and internally?

Have not our idols been in a measure smashed
before our eyes, our prospects in life cut up and
destroyed, our airy visions of earthly happiness
and our romantic paradises dissolved into thin air,
our creature-hopes dashed, our youthful affections
blighted, and the objects from which we had fondly
hoped to reap an enduring harvest of delight
removed from our eyes?

And likewise, as to our religion . . .
  our good opinion of ourselves,
  our piety and holiness,
  our wisdom and our knowledge,
  our understanding and our abilities,
  our consistency and uprightness;
have they not all been broken down, and
made a heap of ruins before our eyes?



That monstrous creature within us!

"I abhor the pride of Jacob." Amos 6:8

O cursed pride, that is ever lifting up its head in our
hearts! Pride would even pull down God that it might
sit upon His throne. Pride would trample under foot
the holiest things to exalt itself!

Pride is that monstrous creature within us, of such
ravenous and indiscriminate gluttony, that the more
it devours, the more it craves!

Pride is that chameleon which assumes every color;
that actor which can play every part; and yet which
is faithful to no one object or purpose, but to exalt
and glorify self!


"I will put an end to the pride of the mighty." "God
will bring down their pride."  (Ezek. 7:24, Isaiah 25:11)

God means to kill man's pride!
And oh, what cutting
weapons the Lord will sometimes make use of to kill
a man's pride!

How He will bring him sometimes into the depths
of temporal poverty, that He may make a stab at
his worldly pride!

How He will bring to light the iniquities of his youth,
that He may mortify his self-righteous pride!

How He will allow sin to break forth, if not openly,
yet so powerfully within, that piercing convictions
shall kill his spiritual pride!

And what deep discoveries of internal corruption will
the Lord sometimes employ, to dig down to the root,
and cut off the core of that poisonous tree, pride!

The Searcher of hearts dissects and anatomizes this
inbred evil
, cuts down to it through the quivering and
bleeding flesh, and pursues with His keen knife its
multiplied windings and ramifications.

"The day is coming when your pride will be brought
 low
and the Lord alone will be exalted." Isaiah 2:11

"The arrogance of all people will be brought low.
 Their pride will lie in the dust. The Lord alone
 will be exalted!" Isaiah 2:17

"The Lord Almighty has done it to destroy your pride
 and show His contempt for all human greatness."
    Isaiah 23:9



Salvation

And they were shouting with a mighty shout,
"Salvation comes from our God on the throne
and from the Lamb!" Revelation 7:10

The sweetest song that heaven ever proclaimed,
the most blessed note that ever melted the soul,
is salvation.

Saved FROM . . .

  death and hell;
  the worm which never dies;
  the fire which is never quenched;
  the sulphurous flames of the bottomless pit;
  the companionship of tormenting fiends and
  all the foul wretches under which earth has groaned;
  blaspheming God in unutterable woe;
  an eternity of misery without end or hope!

Saved INTO . . .
  heaven;
  the sight of Jesus as He is;
  perfect holiness and happiness;
  the blissful company of holy angels and glorified saints;
and all this during the countless ages of a blessed eternity!

What tongue of men or angels can describe the
millionth part of what is contained in the word
salvation
?


 

The soul's natural element

Before the soul can know anything about salvation,
it must learn deeply and experimentally the nature
of sin, and of itself, as stained and polluted by sin.

It is proud, and needs to be humbled.

It is careless, and needs to be awakened.

It is alive, and needs to be killed.

It is full, and requires to be emptied.

It is whole, and needs to be wounded.

It is clothed, and requires to be stripped.

The soul is, by nature . . .
  self-righteous;
  self-seeking;
  buried deep in worldliness and carnality;
  utterly blind and ignorant;
  filled with . . .
      presumption,
      arrogance,
      conceit
      and enmity;
  hateful to all that is heavenly and spiritual.

Sin, in all its various forms, is
the soul's natural element.


Some of the features of the unregenerate
nature of man are . . .
  covetousness,
  lust,
  worldly pleasure,
  desire of the praise of men,
  an insatiable thirst after self-advancement,
  a complete abandonment to all that can please
    and gratify every new desire of the heart,
  an utter contempt and abhorrence of everything that
    restrains or defeats its mad pursuit of what it loves.

Education,
moral restraints,
or the force of habit,
may restrain the outbreaking of inward corruption,
and dam back the mighty stream of indwelling sin,
so that it shall not burst all its bounds, and desolate
the land. But no moral check can alter human nature.

A chained tiger is a tiger still.

"The Ethiopian cannot change his
 skin, nor the leopard his spots."

To make man the direct contrary of what
he originally is; to make him . . .
 love God instead of hating Him;
  fear God, instead of mocking Him;
  obey God, instead of rebelling against Him;
to do this mighty work, and to effect this wonderful
change, requires the implantation of a new nature
by the immediate hand of God Himself.

Natural light,
natural love,
natural faith,
natural obedience,
in a word, all natural religion,
is here useless and ineffectual.





Godly sorrow

Godly sorrow springs from a view of a suffering
Savior, and manifests itself by . . .
  hatred of self,
  abhorrence of sin,
  groaning over our backslidings,
  grief of soul for being so often entangled by our lusts and passions,
  and is accompanied by . . .
      softness,
      meltings of heart,
      flowings of love to the Redeemer,
      indignation against ourselves,
      and earnest desires never to sin more.




But our coward flesh shrinks from them!

"I have refined you but not in the way silver
 is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the
 furnace of suffering.
" Isaiah 48:10

What benefit is there in afflictions?


Does God send them without an object in view?

Do they come merely, as the men of the world think,
by chance? No! There is benefit intended by them.

The branch cannot bear fruit unless it be pruned.

The love of sin cannot be cast out; the soul cannot
be meekened, humbled, softened, and made contrite;
the world cannot be embittered; the things of time
and sense cannot be stripped of their false hue and
their magic appearance—except through affliction.

Our greatest blessings usually spring from our greatest
afflictions—they prepare the heart to receive them; they
empty the vessel of the poisonous ingredients which
have filled it, and fit it to receive gospel wine and milk.

To be without . . .
  these afflictions,
  these griefs,
  these trials,
  these temptations,
is to write ourselves destitute of grace.

But our coward flesh shrinks from them!

We are willing to walk to heaven; but not to walk
there in God's way. Though we see in the Scripture
that the path to glory is a rough and rugged way;
yet when our feet are planted in that painful and
trying path
, we shrink back; our coward flesh refuses
to walk in that road.

God therefore, as a sovereign, brings those afflictions
upon us which He sees most fit for our profit and His
glory, without ever consulting us, without ever allowing
us a choice in the matter.

And He will generally cause our afflictions to come from
the most unexpected source, and in a way most cutting
to our feelings—in the way that of all others we would
least have chosen—and yet in a way which of all others,
is most for our profit.

God deals with us like a surgeon dealing with a
diseased organ. How painful the operation!

How deep the knife cuts!


How long it may be before the wound is healed!

Yet every stroke of the knife is indispensable!
A skillful and faithful surgeon would not do his
duty if he did not dissect it to the very bottom.

As pain before healing is necessary, and must be
produced by the knife; so spiritually, we must be
wounded and cut in our souls, as long, and as
deeply as God sees needful
, that in His own
time we may receive the consolation.

Do the afflictions we pass through humble us?

Do they deaden the love of the world in our hearts?

Do they purge out hypocrisy?

Do they bring us more earnestly to the throne of grace?

Do they discover to us sins that we have not before seen?

Do they penetrate into our very hearts?

Do they lay bare the corrupt fountain that we carry within us?

Do they search and test us before a heart-searching God?

Do they meeken and soften our spirit?

"I have refined you but not in the way silver
 is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the
 furnace of suffering.
" Isaiah 48:10
 



The filthy holes and puddles in which it grovels


"The human heart is most deceitful and desperately
 wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?" Jerem. 17:9

The sin of our fallen nature is a very mysterious thing.
We read of "the mystery of iniquity". Sin has depths
which no human plumbline ever fathomed, and lengths
which no mortal measuring line ever yet measured out.

Thus the way in which sin sometimes seems to sleep;
and at other times to awake 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 craftiness;
its persuasiveness;
its intense selfishness;
its utter recklessness;
its desperate madness;
its insatiable greediness;
are secrets, painful secrets,
only learned by bitter experience.

"The human heart is most deceitful and desperately
 wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?" Jerem. 17:9

 


The Lord's secret power in our souls?

"He gives power to those who are tired and worn
 out; and increases strength to the weak." Is. 40:29

The Lord's people are often in the state that they have
no might. All their power seems exhausted, and their
strength completely drained away; sin appears to have
gotten the mastery over them; and they feel as if they
had neither will nor ability to run the race set before
them, or persevere in the way of the Lord.

Now what has kept us to this day? Some of you have
made a profession ten, twenty, thirty, or forty years.

What has kept us?

When powerful temptations were spread for our feet,
what preserved us from falling headlong into them?

When we felt the workings of strong lusts, what kept
us from being altogether carried captive by them?

When we look at the difficulties of the way, the
perplexities which our souls have had to grapple with,
the persecutions and hard blows from sinners and
saints that we have had to encounter—what has still
kept in us a desire to fear God, and a heart in some
measure tender before Him?

When we view the . . .
  infidelity,
  unbelief,
  carnality,
  worldly-mindedness,
  hypocrisy,
  pride, and
  presumption of our fallen nature,
what has kept us still . . .
  believing,
  hoping,
  loving,
  longing,
and looking to the Lord?

When we think of our . . .
  deadness,
  coldness,
  torpidity,
  rebelliousness,
  perverseness,
  love to evil,
  aversion to good, and
  all the abounding corruptions of our nature,
what has kept us from giving up the very profession
of religion, and swimming down the powerful current
that has so long and so often threatened to sweep
us utterly from the Lord? Is it not the putting forth
of
the Lord's secret power in our souls?

Can we not look back, and recall to mind our first
religious companions; those with whom we started
in the race; those whom we perhaps envied for their
greater piety, zeal, holiness, and earnestness; and
with which we painfully contrasted our own sluggishness
and carnality; admiring them, and condemning ourselves?

Where are they all, or the greater part of them?
Some have embraced soul-destroying errors; others
are buried in a worldly religious system; and others
are wrapped up in delusion and fleshly confidence.

Thus, while most have fallen into the snares of the devil;
God, by putting forth His secret power in the hearts of His
fainting ones
, keeps His fear alive in their souls; holds up
their goings in His paths that their footsteps slip not; brings
them out of all their temptations and troubles; delivers them
from every evil work; and preserves them unto His heavenly
kingdom. He thus secures the salvation of His people by
His own free grace.


How sweet and precious it is . . .
  to have our strength renewed;
  to have fresh grace brought into the heart;
  to feel the mysterious sensations of renovated life;
  to feel the everlasting arms supporting the soul . . .
    fighting our battles for us,
    subduing our enemies,
    overcoming our lusts,
    breaking our snares, and
    delivering us out of our temptations!


 

God's house?

In the New Testament Scriptures, we find mention
made in several places of "the house of the God."
The New Testament never, in any one instance,
means, by "the house of God," any material building.

It has come to pass, through the traditions
received from the fathers, that . . .
  buildings erected by man,
  collections of bricks and mortar,
  piles of squared and cemented stones,
are often called "the house of God."

In ancient Popish times they invested a consecrated
building with the title of "God's house", thus endeavoring
to make it appear as though it were a holy place in which
God specially dwelt. They thus drew off the minds of the
people from any internal communion with God, and
possessed them with the idea that He was only to be
found in some holy spot, consecrated and sanctified
by rites and ceremonies.

The same leaven of the Pharisees has infected the
Church of England; and thus she calls her consecrated
buildings, her piles of stone and cement, "churches,"
and "houses of God."

And even those who profess a purer faith, who dissent
from her unscriptural forms, have learned to adopt the
same carnal language, and even they, through a
misunderstanding of what "the house of God" really
is, will call such a building as we are assembled in
this morning, "the house of God."

How frequently does the expression drop from the
pulpit, and how continually is it heard at the prayer
meeting, "coming up to the house of God," as though
any building now erected by human hands could be
called the house of the living God.

It arises from a misunderstanding of the Scriptures,
and is much fostered by that priestcraft which is in
the human heart, inciting us to believe that God is
to be found only in certain buildings set apart for
His service.

 


When the Holy Spirit preaches the gospel

We often know the theory of the gospel,
before we know the experience of the gospel.

We often receive the doctrines of grace into
our judgment, before we receive the grace of
the doctrines into our soul.

We therefore need to be . . .
  brought down,
  humbled,
  tried,
  stripped of every prop;
that the gospel may be to us . . .
  more than a sound,
  more than a name,
  more than a theory,
  more than a doctrine,
  more than a system,
  more than a creed;
that it may be . . .
  soul enjoyment,
  soul blessing,
  and soul salvation.

When the Holy Spirit preaches the gospel
to the poor in spirit, the humbled, stripped,
and tried—it is a gospel of glad tidings indeed
to the sinner's broken heart.


 

We get entangled with some idol

Wherever the grace of God is, it constrains its
partaker to desire to live to His honor and glory.

But he soon finds the difficulty of so doing.
Such is . . .
  the weakness of the flesh,
  the power of sin,
  the subtlety of Satan,
  the strength of temptation, and
  the snares spread on every side for our feet,
that we can neither do what we want, nor be
what we want. Before we are well aware, we
get entangled with some idol
, or drawn aside
into some indulgence of the flesh, which brings
darkness into the mind, and may cut us out
some bitter work for the rest of our days.

But we thus learn not only the weakness of the
flesh, but where and in whom all our strength lies.

And as the grace of the Lord Jesus, in its suitability,
in its sufficiency and its super-aboundings, becomes
manifested in and by the weakness of the flesh; a
sense of His wondrous love and care in so bearing
with us, in so pitying our case, and manifesting mercy
where we might justly expect wrath, constrains us
with a holy obligation to walk in His fear and to live
to His praise.
 


The sins and slips of the saints?

The Scriptures faithfully record
the falls of believers . . .
  the drunkenness of Noah,
  the incest of Lot,
  the unbelief of Abraham,
  the peevishness of Moses,
  the adultery of David,
  the idolatry of Solomon,
  the pride of Hezekiah,
  the cowardice of Mark and
  the cursing and swearing of Peter.

But why has the Holy Spirit left on record
the sins and slips of the saints?

First, that it might teach us that they were
saved by grace as poor, lost, and ruined sinners;
in the same way as we hope to be saved.

Secondly, that their slips and falls might be
so many beacons and warnings, to guard the
people of God against being overtaken by
the same sins; as the apostle speaks, "All
these events happened to them as examples
for us. They were written down to warn us."

And thirdly, that the people of God, should
they be overtaken by sin, might not be cast
into despair; but that from seeing recorded
in the Scripture the slips and failings of the
saints of old, they might be lifted up from
their despondency, and brought once more
to hope in the Lord.



Cain, Esau, Saul, Ahab, Judas

"Godly sorrow brings repentance that
 leads to salvation and leaves no regret,
 but worldly sorrow brings death."
    2 Cor. 7:10

These two kinds of repentance are to be carefully
distinguished from each other; though they are often
sadly confounded. Cain, Esau, Saul, Ahab, Judas, all
repented.
But their repentance was the remorse of
natural conscience, not the godly sorrow of a broken
heart and a contrite spirit. They trembled before God
as an angry Judge, but were not melted into contrition
before Him as a forgiving Father.

They neither hated their sins nor forsook them.

They neither loved holiness nor sought it.

Cain went out from the presence of the Lord.

Esau plotted Jacob's death.

Saul consulted the witch of Endor.

Ahab put honest Micaiah into prison.

Judas hanged himself.

How different from this forced and false repentance
of a reprobate, is the repentance of a child of God;
that true repentance for sin, that godly sorrow, that
holy mourning which flows from the Spirit's gracious
operations!

Godly sorrow does not spring from a sense of the
wrath of God in a broken law, but from His mercy
in a blessed gospel; from a view by faith of the
sufferings of Christ in the garden and on the cross;
from a manifestation of pardoning love; and is always
attended with self-loathing and self-abhorrence; with
deep and unreserved confession of sin and forsaking
it; with most hearty, sincere and earnest petitions to
be kept from all evil; and a holy longing to live to the
praise and glory of God.


 

Here, and here alone

Standing then at the cross of our adorable Lord,
we may see . . .
  the law thoroughly fulfilled,
  its curse fully endured,
  its penalties wholly removed,
  sin eternally put away,
  the justice of God amply satisfied,
  all His perfections gloriously harmonized,
  reconciliation completely effected,
  redemption graciously accomplished,
  and the church everlastingly saved.

Here, and here alone, we see sin in its blackest
colors, and holiness in its most attractive beauties.

Here, and here alone, we see the love of God
in its tenderest form, and the anger of God in
its deepest expression.

Here, and here alone, we see the eternal and
unalterable displeasure of the Almighty against sin,
and the rigid demands of His inflexible justice, and
yet the tender compassion and boundless love of
His heart to the election of grace.

Here, and here alone, are obtained pardon and peace.

Here, and here alone, penitential grief and
godly sorrow flow from heart and eyes.

Here, and here alone, is . . .
  sin subdued and mortified,
  holiness communicated,
  death vanquished,
  Satan put to flight, and
  happiness and heaven begun in the soul.

What a holy meeting-place for repenting sinners
and a sin-pardoning God! What a healing-place
for guilty, yet repenting and returning backsliders!
What a door of hope in the valley of Achor for the
self-condemned and self-abhorred! What a safe
spot
for seeking souls! And what a blessed
resorting-place
for the whole family of grace
in this valley of grief and sorrow.




Experimental knowledge

"Now this is eternal life: that they may know
 You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ,
 whom You have sent." John 17:3

An experimental knowledge of Christ in
the soul, is the only relief for sin's . . .
  poverty,
  guilt,
  leprosy,
  bankruptcy,
  and damnation.

This is the true way of preaching Christ crucified;
not the mere doctrine of the Cross, but a crucified
Jesus experimentally known to the soul.

I am deeply conscious of my own . . .
  baseness,
  ignorance,
  blindness
  and folly.
But my malady is too deeply rooted to be healed by
dry doctrines and speculative theological opinions.

The blood of the Lamb, spiritually and supernaturally
sprinkled and applied, is the only healing balm for a
sin-sick soul.





Friend, can you understand my riddle?

I find that sin has such power over me, that
though I call on the Lord again and again for
deliverance, I seem to be as weak as ever
when temptation comes.

If a window were placed in my bosom,
what filth and vileness would be seen by all.

"O you hideous monster sin,
What a curse, have you brought in!"

I love it; I hate it.

I want to be delivered from the power of it;
and yet am not satisfied without drinking
down its poisoned sweets.

Sin is my hourly companion; and my daily curse.

Sin is the breath of my mouth; and the cause of my groans.

Sin is my incentive to prayer; and my hinderer of it.

Sin made my Savior suffer; and makes my Savior precious.

Sin spoils every pleasure; and adds a sting to every pain.

Sin fits a soul for heaven; and ripens a soul for hell.

Friend, can you understand my riddle?

Is your heart, as my heart?

Alas! Alas! We feel sin's power daily and hourly.
We sigh and groan at times, to be delivered from
the giant strength of our corruptions, which seem
to carry us captive at their will. Though sin is a
sweet morsel to our carnal mind, it grieves our soul.

I am sure I must be a monument of grace and mercy,
if saved from the guilt, curse, and power of sin!


 

My greatest enemy?

I have ever found myself to be my greatest
enemy
. I never had a foe that troubled me so
much as my own heart; nor has any one ever
wrought me half the mischief or given me half
the plague that I have felt and known within.
And it is a daily sense of this which makes me
dread myself more than anybody that walks
upon the face of the earth!

Keep a watchful eye upon every inward foe;
and if you fight, fight against the enemy that
lurks and works in your own breast!




There are many devices in a man's heart

"There are many devices in a man's heart;
 nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that
 shall stand.
" Proverbs 19:21.

The devices of our heart are generally to find some
easy, smooth, flowery path. Whatever benefits we
have derived from affliction, whatever mercies we
have experienced in tribulation, the flesh hates and
shrinks from such a path with complete abhorrence.

And, therefore, there is always a secret
devising in a man's heart . . .

  to escape the cross,
  to avoid affliction, and
  to walk in some flowery meadow,
away from the rough road which cuts
his feet, and wearies his limbs.

Another "device in a man's heart" is, that he shall
have worldly prosperity; that his children shall grow
up around him, and when they grow up, he shall be
able to provide for them in a way which shall be best
suited to their station in life; that they shall enjoy
health and strength and success; and that there shall
not be any cutting affliction in his family, or fiery trial
to pass through.

Now these devices the Lord frustrates. What grief,
what affliction, what trouble, is the Lord continually
bringing into some families! Their dearest objects of
affection removed from them, at the very moment
when they seemed clasped nearest around their hearts!

And those who are spared, perhaps, growing up in such
a searedness of conscience and hardness of heart, and,
perhaps, profligacy of life, that even their very presence
is often a burden to their parents instead of a blessing;
and the very children who should be their comfort,
become thorns and briars in their sides!

Oh, how the Lord overturns and brings to nothing the
"devices of a man's heart" to make a paradise here
upon earth.


When a man is brought to the right spot, and is in a
right mind to trace out the Lord's dealings with him from
the first, he sees it was a kind hand which "blasted his
gourds, and laid them low;" it was a kind hand that swept
away his worldly prospects; which reduced him to natural
as well as to spiritual poverty; which led him into exercises,
trials, sorrows, griefs, and tribulations; because, in those
trials he has found the Lord, more or less, experimentally
precious.

"There are many devices in a man's heart."

Now you have all your devices; that busy workshop is
continually putting out some new pattern; some new
fashion is continually starting forth from the depths of
that ingenious manufactory which you carry about with
you; and you are wanting this, and expecting that, and
building up airy castles, and looking for that which shall
never come to pass; for "there are many devices in a
man's heart
; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord,
that shall stand.
"

And so far as you are children of God, that counsel is
a counsel of wisdom and mercy. The purposes of God's
heart are purposes of love and affection toward you,
and therefore you may bless and praise God, that
whatever be the devices of your hearts against God's
counsel, they shall be frustrated, that He may do His
will and fulfill all His good pleasure.



All are more or less deeply infected with it

"Are you seeking great things for yourself?
 Don't do it!"  Jeremiah 45:5

As we are led aside by the powerful workings
of our corrupt nature, we are often seeking
great things for ourselves.

 
Riches,
worldly comforts,
respectability,
to be honored, admired, and esteemed by men,
are the objects most passionately sought after
by the world. And so far as the children of God
are under the influence of a worldly principle,
do they secretly desire similar things.

Nor does this ambition depend upon station in life.
All are more or less deeply infected with it, until
delivered by the grace of God. The poorest man
in these towns has a secret desire in his soul after
"great things," and a secret plotting in his mind
how he may obtain them.

But the Lord is determined that His people shall
not have great things. He has purposed to pour
contempt upon all the pride of man.
He therefore
nips all their hopes in the bud, crushes their
flattering prospects, and makes them for the most
part, poor, needy, and despised in this world.

Whatever schemes or projects the Lord's people may
devise that they may prosper and get on in the world,
He rarely allows their plans to thrive. He knows well
to what consequences it would lead; that this ivy
creeping round the stem would, as it were, suffocate
and strangle the tree.

The more that worldly goods increase . . .
  the more the heart is fixed upon them,
  the more the affections are set upon idols,
  the more is the heart drawn away from the Lord.
He will not allow His people to have their portion
here below. He has in store for them a better city,
that is a heavenly one, and therefore will not allow
them to build and plant below the skies.

A child of God may be secretly aiming at great
things, such as respectability, bettering his
condition in life, rising step by step in the scale
of society. But the Lord will usually . . .
  disappoint these plans,
  defeat these projects,
  wither these gourds,
  and blight these prospects.

He may reduce him to poverty, as He did Job; smite
him with sickness, as He did Lazarus and Hezekiah;
take away wife and children, as in the case of Ezekiel
and Jacob; or He may bring trouble and distress into
his mind by shooting an arrow out of His unerring
bow
into the conscience.

God has a certain purpose to effect by bringing this
trouble, and that is to pull him down from "seeking
great things." For what is the secret root of this
ambition? Is it not the pride of the heart?
When
the Lord, then, would lay this ambition low, He
makes a blow at the root. He strips away fancied
hopes, and breaks down rotten props, the great
things (so through ignorance esteemed) sought
for previously, and perhaps obtained, fall to pieces.

"Are you seeking great things for yourself?
 Don't do it!
"  Jeremiah 45:5



Ministers are often desirous of . . .

"Are you seeking great things for yourself?
 Don't do it!"  Jeremiah 45:5

Ministers are often desirous of . . .
   a greater gift in preaching,
   a readier utterance,
   a more abundant variety,
   a more striking delivery than they possess.
And this, not for the glory of God, but for the
glory of the creature. Not that praise may be
given God, but that pride, cursed pride, may
be gratified; that they may be admired by men.

My desire and aim is . . .
  not to deceive souls by flattery;
  not to please any party;
  not to minister to any man's pride or presumption;
but simply and sincerely, with an eye to God's glory,
with His fear working in my heart, to speak to the
edification of His people.

A minister who stands up with any other motives,
and aiming at any other ends than the glory of God,
and the edification of His people, bears no scriptural
marks that he has been sent into the vineyard by
God Himself.




Have we nothing to give to Christ?

Have we nothing to give to Christ?

Yes!
Our sins,
our sorrows,
our burdens,
our trials, and above all
the salvation and sanctification of our souls.

And what has He to give us? What? Why . . .
  everything worth having!
  everything worth a moment's anxious thought!
  everything for time and eternity!



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!



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
 


Have we not leaned upon a thousand things?

"Who is this that comes up from the wilderness,
 leaning upon her Beloved?" Song 8:5

Have we not leaned upon a thousand things?
And what have they proved? Broken reeds that
have run into our hands, and pierced us!

Our own strength and resolutions; the world and
the church; sinners and saints; friends and enemies;
have they not all proved, more or less, broken reeds?
The more we have leaned upon them, like a man
leaning upon a sword, the more have they pierced
our souls!

The Lord Himself has to wean us . . .
  from leaning on the world,
  from leaning on friends,
  from leaning on enemies,
  from leaning on self,
in order to bring us to lean upon Himself.

And every prop He will remove, sooner or later,
that we may lean wholly and solely upon Him.



Superabounding grace

"But where sin abounded, grace did much
 more abound."  Romans 5:20

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?

"But where sin abounded, grace did much
 more abound."  Romans 5:20



 
Job's religion

"Oh that I knew where I might find Him!" Job 23:3

What a mere shallow pretense to vital godliness
satisfies most ministers, most hearers, and most
congregations!

But there was a reality in Job's religion.

It was not of a flimsy, notional, superficial nature.
It was not merely a sound Calvinistic creed, and
nothing more. It was not a religion of theory and
speculation, nor a well-compacted system of
doctrines and duties. There was something deeper,
something more divine in Job's religion than any
such mere pretense, delusion, imitation, or hypocrisy.

And if our religion be of the right kind, there will be
something deeper in it, something more powerful,
spiritual, and supernatural, than notions and doctrines,
theories and speculations, merely passing to and fro
in our minds, however scriptural and correct.

There will be a divine reality in it, if God the Spirit be
the author of it. And there will be no trifling with the
solemn things of God, and with our own immortal souls.



The heart of God's child


There is much . . .
  presumption,
  pride,
  hypocrisy,
  deceit,
  delusion,
  formality,
  superstition and
  self-righteousness
to be purged out of the heart of God's child.

But all these things . . .
  keep him low,
  mar his pride,
  crush his self-righteousness,
  cut the locks of his presumption,
  stain his self conceit,
  stop his boasting,
  preserve him from despising others,
  make him take the lowest room,
  teach him to esteem others better than himself,
  drive him to earnest prayer,
  fit him as an object of mercy,
  break to pieces his free will, and
lay him low at the feet of the Redeemer, as
one to be saved by sovereign grace alone!




The way in which the Spirit of God works

As pride rises, it must be broken down.

As self-righteousness starts up, it must be brought low.

As the wisdom of the creature exalts itself against
the wisdom of God, it must be laid prostrate.

The way in which the Spirit of God works is to lay
the creature low, by bringing it into nothingness,
and crushing it into self-abasement and self-loathing,
so as to press out of it everything on which the
creature can depend.

Like a surgeon, who will run his lancet into the abscess,
and let out the gory matter, in order to effect a thorough
cure; so the Spirit of the Lord thrusting His sharp sword
into the heart, lets out the inward corruption, and never
heals the wound until He has thoroughly probed it.

And when He has laid bare the heart, He heals it by
pouring in the balmy blood of Jesus, as that which,
by its application, cleanses from all sin.




The world passes away, and the lust thereof

"The world passes away, and the lust thereof."
     1 John 2:17

The world and all that is in it comes to an end.
Where are the great bulk of the men and women
who fifty, sixty, or seventy years ago trod London
streets? Where are they who rode about in their
gay carriages, gave their splendid entertainments,
decked themselves with feathers and jewels, and
enjoyed all the pleasures of life?

Where are they?

The grave holds their bodies, and hell holds their souls.

"The world passes away." It is like a pageant, or a
gay and splendid procession, which passes before
the eye for a few minutes, then turns the corner of
the street, and is lost to view. It is now to you who
had looked upon it just as if it were not, and is gone
to amuse other eyes.

So, could you go on for years . . .
  enjoying all your natural heart could wish;
  lay up money by thousands;
  ride in your carriage;
  deck your body with jewelry;
  fill your house with splendid furniture;
  enjoy everything that earth can give;
then there would come, some day or other, sickness
to lay you upon a dying bed. To you the world has
now passed away with all its lusts; with you all is
now come to an end; and now you have, with a
guilty soul, to face a holy God.

"The world passes away, and the lust thereof."

All these lusts for which men have sold body and soul,
half ruined their families, and stained their own name;
all these lusts for which they were so mad that they
would have them at any price, snatch them even from
hell's mouth; all these lusts are passed away, and what
have they left?
A gnawing worm; a worm that can never
die, and the wrath of God as an unquenchable fire.

That is all which the love of the world can do for you,
with all your toil and anxiety, or all your amusement
and pleasure.

You have not gained much perhaps of this world's goods,
with all your striving after them. But could the world fill
your heart with enjoyment, and your money bags with
gold, as the dust of the grave will one day fill your mouth,
it would be much to the same purpose. If you had got all
the world, you would have got nothing after your coffin
was screwed down, but gravedust in your mouth.

Such is the end of the world.

"The world passes away, and the lust thereof."

DEATH is the great and final extinguisher of all human
hopes and pleasures.
Look and see how man sickens
and dies, and is tumbled into the cemetery, where his
body is left to the worms, and his soul to face an angry
God, on the great judgment day.

"The world passes away, and the lust thereof."




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