My leanness, my leanness, woe unto me!

"My leanness, my leanness, woe unto me!"
    Isaiah 24:16

There is no more continual source of lamentation
and mourning to a child of God than a sense of his
own barrenness. He would be fruitful in every good
word and work. But when he contrasts . . .
  his own miserable unprofitableness,
  his coldness and deadness,
  his proneness to evil,
  his backwardness to good,
  his daily wanderings and departings from God,
  his depraved affections,
  his stupid frames,
  his sensual desires,
  his carnal projects, and
  his earthy grovelings,
with what he sees and knows should be the fruit
that should grow upon a fruitful branch in the only
true Vine, he sinks down under a sense of his own
wretched barrenness and unfruitfulness.

Yet what was the effect produced by all this upon
his own soul? To wean him from the creature; to
divert him from looking to any for help or hope, but
the Lord Himself. It is in this painful way that the
Lord often, if not usually, cuts us off from all human
props, even the nearest and dearest, that we may
lean wholly and solely on Himself.

 


Those poor stupid people!


"The world knows us not." 1 John 3:1

Both the openly profane world, and the
professing world, are grossly ignorant
of the children of God. Their . . .
  real character and condition,
  state and standing,
  joys and sorrows,
  mercies and miseries,
  trials and deliverances,
  hopes and fears,
  afflictions and consolations,
are entirely hidden from their eyes.

The world knows nothing of the motives and
feelings which guide and actuate the children
of God. It views them as a set of gloomy,
morose, melancholy beings
, whose tempers
are soured by false and exaggerated views of
religion—who have pored over the thoughts of
hell and heaven until some have frightened
themselves into despair, and others have puffed
up their vain minds with an imaginary conceit of
their being especial favorites of the Almighty.
"They are really," it says, "no better than other
folks, if so good. But they have such contracted
minds—are so obstinate and bigoted with their
poor, narrow, prejudiced views—that wherever
they come they bring disturbance and confusion."

But why this harsh judgment?

Because the world knows nothing of the spiritual
feelings which actuate the child of grace, making
him act so differently from the world which thus
condemns him.

It cannot understand our sight and sense of the
exceeding sinfulness of sin—and that is the reason
why we will not run riot with them in the same
course of ungodliness.

It does not know with what a solemn weight eternal
things rest upon our minds—and that that is the cause
why we cannot join with them in pursuing so eagerly
the things of the world, and living for time as they
do—instead of living for eternity.

Being unable to enter into the spiritual motives and
gracious feelings which actuate a living soul, and the
movements of divine life continually stirring in a
Christian breast, they naturally judge us from their
own point of view, and condemn what they cannot
understand.

You may place a horse and a man upon the same
hill—while the man would be looking at the woods
and fields and streams—the horse would be feeding
upon the grass at his feet. The horse, if it could
reason, would say, "What a fool my master is! How
he is staring and gaping about! Why does he not sit
down and open his basket of provisions—for I know
he has it with him, for I carried it—and feed as I do?"

So the worldling says, "Those poor stupid people,
how they are spending their time in going to chapel,
and reading the Bible in their gloomy, melancholy way.
Religion is all very well—and we ought all to be religious
before we die—but they make so much of it. Why don't
they enjoy more of life? Why don't they amuse themselves
more with its innocent, harmless pleasures—be more gay,
cheerful, and sociable, and take more interest in those
things which so interest us?"

The reason why the world thus wonders at us is
because it knows us not, and therefore cannot
understand that we have . . .

  sublimer feelings,
  nobler pleasures, and
  more substantial delights,
than ever entered the soul of a worldling!

Christian! the more you are conformed to the image
of Christ—the more separated you are from the world,
the less will it understand you. If we kept closer to the
Lord and walked more in holy obedience to the precepts
of the gospel, we would be more misunderstood than
even we now are! It is our worldly conformity that
makes the world understand many of our movements
and actions so well.

But if our movements were more according to the mind of
Christ—if we walked more as the Lord walked when here
below—we would leave the world in greater ignorance of
us than we leave it now—for the hidden springs of our life
would be more out of its sight, our testimony against it
more decided, and our separation from it more complete.


 

We were not always a set of poor mopes

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set
 your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated
 at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things
 above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your
 life is now hidden with Christ in God." Col. 3:1-3

Men's pursuits and pleasures differ as widely as
their station or disposition—but a life of selfish
gratification reigns and rules in all.

Now it is by this death that we die unto . . .
  the things of time and sense;
  to all that charms the natural mind of man;
  to the pleasures and pursuits of life;
  to that busy, restless world which once held
us so fast and firm in its embrace—and whirled
us round and round within its giddy dance.

Let us look back. We were not always a set of poor
mopes
—as the world calls us. We were once as merry
and as gay as the merriest and gayest of them.

But what were we really and truly with all our mirth?

Dead to God—alive to sin. Dead to everything holy and
divine—alive to everything vain and foolish, light and
trifling, carnal and sensual—if not exactly vile and
abominable.

Our natural life was with all of us a life of gratifying our
senses—with some of us, perhaps, chiefly of pleasure and
worldly happiness—with others a life of covetousness, or
ambition, or self-righteousness.

Sin once put forth its intense power and allured
us—and we followed like the fool to the stocks.

Sin charmed—and we listened to its seductive wiles.

Sin held out its bait—and we too greedily,
too heedlessly swallowed the hook.

"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus
 Christ, through which the world has been crucified to
 me, and I to the world
." Galatians 6:14


 

To walk after the flesh

"There is therefore now no condemnation to
 those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not
 after the flesh
, but after the Spirit." Rom. 8:1

To walk after the flesh carries with it the idea of
the flesh going before us—as our leader, guide, and
example—and our following close in its footsteps,
so that wherever it drags or draws we move after
it, as the needle after the magnet.

To walk after the flesh, then, is to move
step by step in implicit obedience to . . .
  the commands of the flesh,
  the lusts of the flesh,
  the inclinations of the flesh,
  and the desires of the flesh,
whatever shape they assume,
whatever garb they wear,
whatever name they may bear.

To walk after the flesh is to be ever pursuing,
desiring, and doing the things that please the
flesh, whatever aspect that flesh may wear or
whatever dress it may assume—whether molded
and fashioned after the grosser and more flagrant
ways of the profane world—or the more refined
and deceptive religion of the professing church.

But are the grosser and more manifest sinners the
only people who may be said to walk after the flesh?
Does not all human religion, in all its varied forms and
shapes, come under the sweep of this all-devouring
sword? Yes! Every one who is entangled in and led by
a fleshly religion, walks as much after the flesh as
those who are abandoned to its grosser indulgences.

Sad it is, yet not more sad than true, that false
religion has slain its thousands
, if open sin has
slain its ten thousands.

To walk after the flesh, whether it be in the
grosser or more refined sense of the term, is
the same in the sight of God.
 

 

The very thought is appalling!

"Once you were alienated from God and were
 His enemies, separated from Him by your
 evil thoughts and actions." Colossians 1:21

All man's sins, comparatively speaking, are but
'motes in the sunbeam' compared with this giant
sin
of enmity against God. A man may be given
up to fleshly indulgences; he may sin against his
fellow creature—may rob, plunder, oppress, even
kill his fellow man. But viewed in a spiritual light,
what are they compared with the dreadful, the
damnable sin of enmity against the great and
glorious Majesty of heaven?

This is a sin that lives beyond the grave!

Many sins, though not their consequences, die
with man's body, because they are bodily sins.

But this is a sin that goes into eternity with him,
and flares up like a mighty volcano from the very
depths of the bottomless pit! Yes, it is the very
sin of devils
, which therefore binds guilty man
down with them in the same eternal chains, and
consigns him to the same place of torment!

O the unutterable enmity of the heart against
the living God! The very thought is appalling!

How utterly ruined, then, how wholly lost must
that man's state and case be, who lives and
dies as he comes into the world . . .
  unchanged,
  unrenewed,
  unregenerated!

I will not dwell longer upon this gloomy subject,
on this sad exhibition of human wickedness and
misery, though it is needful we should know it for
ourselves, that we should have a taste of this bitter
cup in our own most painful experience, that we may
know the sweetness of the cup of salvation when
presented to our lips by free and sovereign grace.

Nothing but the mighty power of God Himself
can ever turn this enemy into a friend!

"Once you were alienated from God and were
 His enemies, separated from Him by your
 evil thoughts and actions, yet now He has
 brought you back as His friends. He has done
 this through His death on the cross in His own
 human body. As a result, He has brought you
 into the very presence of God, and you are holy
 and blameless as you stand before Him without
 a single fault." Colossians 1:21-22




I will give you rest

Are you ever weary . . .
  of the world,
  of sin,
  of self,
  of everything below the skies?

If so, you want something to give you rest.

You look to SELF—it is but shifting sand, tossed
here and there with the restless tide, and ever
casting up mire and dirt. No holding ground; no
anchorage; no rest there.

You look to OTHERS—you see what man is, even
the very best of men in their best state—how fickle,
how unstable, how changing and changeable; how
weak even when willing to help; how more likely
to add to, than relieve your distress; if desirous
to sympathize with and comfort you in trouble and
sorrow, how short his arm to help, how unsatisfactory
his aid to relieve! You find no rest there.

You lean upon the WORLD—it is but a broken
reed which runs into your hand and pierces you.
You find no rest there.

So look where you will, there is no rest for the
sole of your foot.

But there is a rest. Our blessed Lord says, "Come to
Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28




That which is highly esteemed among men

"That which is highly esteemed among men is
 an abomination in the sight of God." Luke 16:15

The pride,
the ambition,
the pleasures,
the amusements,
in which we see thousands and tens of thousands
engaged—and sailing down the stream into a dreadful
gulf of eternity—are all an abomination in the sight of
God.

Whereas, such things as . . .
  faith,
  hope,
  love,
  humility,
  brokenness of heart,
  tenderness of conscience,
  contrition of spirit,
  sorrow for sin,
  self-loathing,
  self-abasement,
  looking to Jesus,
  taking up the cross,
  denying one's self,
  walking in the strait and narrow path that leads to
eternal life—in a word, the power of godliness—these
things are despised by all
—and by none so much as
mere heady professors who have a name to live while
dead.

"That which is highly esteemed among men is
 an abomination in the sight of God." Luke 16:15



Invincibly and irresistibly drawn


As the Lord is pleased to enlighten
his mind, the Christian sees . . .

  such a beauty,
  such a blessedness,
  such a heavenly sweetness,
  such a divine loveliness,
  such a fullness of surpassing grace,
  such tender condescension,
  such unwearied patience,
  such infinite compassion,
in the Lord of life and glory—that he is as
if invincibly and irresistibly drawn by these
attractive influences to come to His feet to
learn of Him. So far as the Lord is pleased to
reveal Himself in some measure to his soul,
by the sweet glimpses and glances which he
thus obtains of His Person and countenance,
he is drawn to His blessed Majesty by cords
of love to look up unto Him and beg of Him
that He would drop His word with life and
power into his heart.

 

Woman's chief besetting sins

"The Lord will strip away their artful beauty—their
 ornaments, headbands, and crescent necklaces;
 their earrings, bracelets, and veils. Gone will be
 their scarves, ankle chains, sashes, perfumes, and
 charms; their rings, jewels, party clothes, gowns,
 capes, and purses; their mirrors, linen garments,
 head ornaments, and shawls." Isaiah 3:18-23

"The Lord will wash away the filth of the women
 of Zion." Isaiah 4:4

These women of Zion are typical representatives of
women professing godliness in all ages. The Lord
looked at their hearts, and the motives of their gaudy
attire. There He saw pride, luxury, love of dress and
admiration
woman's chief besetting sins—and all
this was in His eyes so much filth!

But as I do not wish to be too hard upon the women,
I may say, that we men have our hidden filth to as
great, or worse degree, than they. In us there are . . .
  many secret and powerful lusts,
  much hypocrisy, self-righteousness, pride, and
  various other sinful and sensual abominations.




You are not your own!

"You are not your own! For you are bought with
 a  price—therefore glorify God in your body, and in
 your spirit, which are God's." 1 Corinthians 6:19

Your eyes are not your own—that you may feed your
lusts, that you may go about gaping, and gazing, and
looking into every shop window to see the fashions of
the day—learn the prevailing pride of life—and thus lay
up food for your vain mind—either in coveting what
must be unfitting to your profession—or applying your
money to an improper use—or being disappointed
because you cannot afford to buy it.

Your ears are not your own—that you may listen to
every foolish tale—drink in every political, worldly, or
carnal report which may fall upon them—and thus feed
that natural desire for news, gossip, and even slander
—which is the very element of the carnal mind.

Your tongue is not your own—that you may speak
what you please, and blurt out whatever passes in
the chambers of your heart, without check or fear.

Your hands are not your own—that you may use them
as implements of evil—or employ them in any other way
than to earn with them an honest livelihood. Our hands
were not given us for sin—but for godly uses.

Your feet are not your own—that you may walk in
the ways of the world—or that they should carry you
to haunts where all around you are engaged upon
errands of vanity and sin.

All must be held according to the disposal of God,
and under a sense of our obligations to Him.

But perhaps you will say, in the rebellion of your carnal
mind, "What restraint all this lays upon us. Cannot we
look with our eyes as we like—hear with our ears as we
please—and speak with our tongues as we choose? Will
you so narrow our path that we are to have nothing of
our own—not even our time or money, our body or soul?
Surely we may have a little enjoyment now and then—a
little recreation, a little holiday sometimes, a little
relaxation from being always so strict and so religious—
a little feeding of our carnal mind which cannot bear all
this restraint?"

Well, but what will you bring upon yourself by . . .
  the roving eye,
  the foolish tongue,
  the loose hand,
  the straying foot?

Darkness,
bondage,
guilt,
misery,
death!

"But," you say, "we are not to be tied up so
tightly as all this! We have gospel liberty,
but you will not allow us even that!"

Yes, blessed be God, there is gospel liberty, for
there is no real happiness in religion without it;
but not liberty to sin—not liberty to gratify the
lusts of the flesh—not liberty to act contrary to
the gospel we profess, and the precepts of God's
Word—for this is not liberty but licentiousness.

"You are not your own! For you are bought with
 a price—therefore glorify God in your body, and in
 your spirit, which are God's." 1 Corinthians 6:19




Do you seek you great things for yourself?

"Do you seek you great things for yourself?
 Seek them not!"
Jeremiah 45:5

O the pride of man's heart! How it will work and show
itself even under a guise of religion and holiness!

Few can see that in religion, what are considered
great things—are really very little; and what are
considered little—are really very great.
How few can see that . . .
  a broken heart,
  a contrite spirit,
  a humble mind,
  a tender conscience,
  a meek, quiet, and patient bearing of the cross,
  a believing submission and resignation to the will of God,
  a looking to Him alone, for all supplies in providence and grace,
  a continual seeking of His face,
  a desiring nothing so much as the visitations of His favor,
  a loving, affectionate, forbearing, and forgiving spirit,
  a bearing of injuries and reproaches without retaliation,
  a liberal heart and hand, and
  a godly, holy, and separate life and walk—
are the things which in God's sight are great.
While a knowledge of doctrine, clear insight into
gospel mysteries, and a ready speech are really
very little things—and are often to be found side
by side and hand in hand with a proud, covetous,
worldly, unhumbled spirit, and a living in what is
sinful and evil.

How many ministers are seeking after great gifts
thirsting after popularity, applause, and acceptance
among men! They are not satisfied with being
simply and solely what God may make them by
His Spirit and gracewith the blessing which He
may make them to a scattered few here and there.
This inferior position, as they consider it, so beneath
their grace and gifts, their talents and abilitiesdoes
not satisfy their restless mind and aspiring desires.
Their ambition is . . .
  to stand at the very head of their peers,
  be looked up to and sought after as a leader and a guide,
  have a larger building,
  have a fuller congregation,
  have a better salary, and
  have a wider field for the display of their gifts and abilities.
Gladly would they . . .
  stand apart from all others,
  brook no rival to their 'pulpit throne', and
  be lord paramount at home and abroad.

And what is the consequence of this proud, ambitious
spirit? What envy, what jealousy, what detraction do
we see in men who want to stand at the top of the tree!
How, again and again, do they seek to rise by standing,
as it wereon the slain bodies of others!

"Do you seek you great things for yourself?
 Seek them not!"
Jeremiah 45:5



We would not be such muck-worms!

"I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be
 enlightened
—in order that you may know the hope
 to which He has called you—what a rich and glorious
 inheritance He has given to His people." Ephes. 1:18

If the Spirit would but enlighten the eyes of our heart,
how this would lift us up out of the mud and mire of this
wretched world! We would not be such muck-worms,
raking and scraping a few straws together—or running
about like ants with our morsel of grain!
We would have
our affections fixed more on things above. We would . . .
  know more of Christ,
  enjoy more of Christ,
  be more like Christ,
  walk more like Christ walked, and
  look forward to our glorious inheritance.

If these things were brought into our hearts with divine
power—how they would sweeten every bitter cup, and
carry us through every changing scene, until at last we
were landed above—to see the Lord as He is, in the full
perfection of His infinite glory!
 



The multitude of Your tender mercies

"Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your
 loving-kindness—according unto the multitude of
 Your tender mercies
blot out my transgressions."
    Psalm 51:1

What a sweet expression it is—and how it seems
to convey to our mind that God's mercies do not
fall 'drop by drop'—but are as innumerable . . ..
  as the sand upon the sea-shore;
  as the stars that stud the midnight sky;
  as the drops of rain that fill the clouds before
they discharge their copious showers upon the earth.

It is the multitude of His mercies that makes Him so
merciful a God. He does not give but a drop or two of
mercy—that would soon be gone, like the rain which
fell this morning under the hot sun. But His mercies
flow like a river! There is in Him . . .
  a multitude of mercies,
  for a multitude of sins,
  and a multitude of sinners!

This felt and received in the love of it—breaks, humbles,
softens, and melts
a sensible sinner's heart—and he says,
"What, sin against such mercies? What, when the Lord has
remembered me in my low estate, and manifested once
more a sense of His mercy? What, shall I go on to provoke
Him again—walk inconsistently again—be entangled in
Satan's snares again? O, forbid it God, forbid it gospel,
forbid it tender conscience, forbid it every constraint of
dying love!"

"Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your
 loving-kindness—according unto the multitude of
 Your tender mercies
blot out my transgressions."
    Psalm 51:1

 

Can Christ love one like me?

"To grasp how wide and long and high and deep
 is the love of Christ, and to know this love that
 surpasses knowledge." Ephesians 3:17-19

You may wonder sometimes—and it is a wonder that
will fill heaven itself with anthems of eternal praise—
how such a glorious Jesus can ever look down from
heaven upon such crawling reptiles, on such worms
of earth—what is more, upon such sinners who have
provoked Him over and over again by their misdeeds.
Yes, how this exalted Christ, in the height of His glory,
can look down from heaven on such poor, miserable,
wretched creatures as we—this is the mystery that
fills angels with astonishment!

We feel we are such crawling reptiles—such undeserving
creatures—and are so utterly unworthy of the least notice
from Him, that we say, "Can Christ love one like me?
Can the glorious Son of God cast an eye of pity and
compassion, love and tenderness upon one like me—who
can scarcely at times bear with myself—who sees and
feels myself one of the vilest of the vile, and the worst
of the worst? O, what must I be in the sight of the
glorious Son of God?"

And yet, He says, "I have loved you with an everlasting
love." His love has breadths, and lengths, and depths,
and heights unknown!
 
Its breadth exceeds all human span;
its length outvies all creature line;
its depth surpasses all finite measurement;
its height excels even angelic computation!

Because His love is . . .
  so wondrous,
  so deep,
  so long,
  so broad,
  so high;
it is so suitable to our every want and woe.

"To grasp how wide and long and high and deep
 is the love of Christ, and to know this love that
 surpasses knowledge." Ephesians 3:17-19

 

A woman's best ornament

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty
 that depends on fancy hairstyles, expensive
 jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should be
 known for the beauty that comes from within,
 the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit,
 which is so precious to God." 1 Peter 3:3-4

This "beauty that comes from within" is that . . .
  meekness,
  quietness,
  gentleness,
  brokenness of heart,
  contrition of spirit,
  humility of mind,
  tenderness of conscience,
which are fitting to the children of God.

A gentle and quiet spirit is a woman's best ornament.

As to other gay and unbecoming ornaments, let those
wear them, who wish to serve and to enjoy . . .
   the lust of the flesh,
   the lust of the eyes,
   and the pride of life.

Let the "daughters of Zion" manifest they have other
ornaments than what the world admires and approves.
Let them covet . . .
  the teachings of God,
  the smiles of His love,
  the whispers of His favor.
The more they have of these, the less will they care
for the adornments which the "daughters of Canaan"
run so madly after; by which also they often impoverish
themselves, and by opening a way for admiration, too
often open a way for seduction and ruin.
 



O you filthy creature!


"Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me
 from this life that is dominated by sin?" Romans 7:24

No doubt you have your enemies—and so have we all.

But I will tell you where you have an enemy—and a
greater enemy than ever you have found in others—
yourself! I have often felt that I could do myself more
harm in five minutes, than all my enemies could do me
in fifty years! I need not fear what others may do or
say—I fear myself more than them all—knowing what
I am as a sinner—the strength of sin—and the power
of temptation.

Be sure of this—that YOU are the worst
enemy you ever had . . .
  your sin,
  your lust,
  your covetousness,
  your pride,
  your self-righteousness.

God Himself will make you feel your enemy.
You shall see something of his accursed designs;
how sin has deceived you, betrayed you, brought
guilt upon your conscience, and made you a burden
to yourself. You shall be brought to feel, and say,
"There is nothing I hate so much as my own vile
heart—my own dreadfully corrupt nature. O what
an enemy do I carry in my own bosom! Of all my
enemies, he is surely the worst! Of all my foes,
he is the most subtle and strong!"

Have you not sometimes felt as though you could
take your lusts by the neck and dash their heads
against a stone? Have you not felt you could take
out of your breast this vile, damnable heart, lay
it upon the ground, and stamp upon it?
And when tempted with . . .
  pride,
  or unbelief,
  or infidelity,
  or blasphemy,
  or any hateful lust,
how you have cried out again and again with
anguish of spirit, "O this heart of mine!"

We hate our sins, and would, if possible, have no
more to do with them, and would say to this lust,
idol, or temptation, "O you filthy creature! What
an enemy you are to my soul! O that I could
forever be done with you!"

"Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me
 from this life that is dominated by sin? Thanks be to
 God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord."
    Romans 7:24-25
 


You never knew what real happiness was!

One false charge against the children of God, is that
they are a poor, moping, miserable people, who . . .
  know nothing of happiness,
  renounce all cheerfulness, mirth, and gladness,
  hang their heads down all their days like a bulrush,
  are full of groundless fears,
  nurse the gloomiest thoughts in a kind of melancholy,
  grudge others the least enjoyment of pleasure and happiness,
  and try to make everyone else as dull and as miserable as
their dull and miserable selves.

Is not this a false charge?

You know—that you never had any real happiness
in the things of time and sense—that under all your
'pretended gaiety' there was real gloom—that every
'sweet' was drenched with bitterness—that vexation
was stamped upon all that is called pleasure and
enjoyment.

You never knew what real happiness was, until you
knew the Lord, and were blessed with His presence,
and some manifestation of His goodness and mercy!


 

Were it no bigger than a child's doll

"I will cleanse you from all your idols." Ezekiel 36:25

Idolatry takes a wide range. There are 'respectable' idols
and 'vulgar' idols—just as there are marble statues, and
other objects of worship made up of shells and feathers.
 

And yet each will still be an idol.

Respectable idols we can admire—vulgar idols we detest.

But an idol is an idol—however respectable, or however
vulgar—however admired, or however despised they may be.

But O how numerous are these respectable idols!

Love of money,
ambition,
craving after human applause,
desire to rise in the world;
all these we may think are natural desires that
may be lawfully gratified. But O, what idols may
they turn out to be!

But there are more secret and more dangerous idols.
You may have a husband, or wife, or child—whom you
love almost as much as yourself—you bestow upon
this idol of yours all the affections of your heart.
Nothing is too good for it, nothing too dear for it.

You don't see how this is an idol.

But, whatever you love more than God,
whatever you worship more than God,
whatever you crave for more than God,
is an idol.

It may lurk in the chambers of imagery—you may
scarcely know how fondly you love it. But let God
take that idol out of your breast—let Him pluck that
idol from its niche—and you will then find how you
have allowed your affections to wander after that
idol and loved it more than God Himself. It is when
the idol is taken away, removed, dethroned—that
we learn what an idol it has been.

How we hug and embrace our idols!

How we cleave to them!

How we delight in them!

How we bow down to them!

How we seek gratification from them!

How little are we aware what affections entwine
around them—how little are we aware that they
claim what God has reserved for Himself when
He said, "My son, give Me your heart."

Many a weeping widow learns for the first time that
her husband was an idol. Many a mourning husband
learns for the first time how too dearly, how too fondly,
how too idolatrously he loved his wife. Many a man
does not know how dearly he loves money until he
incurs some serious loss. Many do not know how
dearly they hold name, fame, and reputation until
some slanderous blight seems to touch that tender
spot. Few indeed seem to know how dear SELF is,
until God takes it out of its niche and sets Himself
there in its room.

Self,
pride,
reputation,
the love of money
the love of name and fame—
these idols you cannot take with you into the courts
of heaven. How would God be moved to jealousy if
you could you carry an idol
were it no bigger than
a child's doll
into the courts above!

"I will cleanse you from all your idols." Ezekiel 36:25


 

Your filth will be washed away!

O, what loathsome monsters of iniquity—how
polluted, filthy, and vile do we feel ourselves
to be—when the guilt of our sin is charged home
upon our conscience! Have you not sometimes
loathed yourselves on account of your abominations?
Has not the filth of your sin sometimes disgusted you;
the opening up of that horrible, that ever running
sewer, which you daily carry about with you?

We complain, and justly complain—of a reeking sewer
which runs through a street—or of a ditch filled with
everything disgusting. But do we feel as much—do
we complain as often—of the foul sewer which is
ever running in our soul—of the filthy ditch in our
own bosom?

As the sight of this open sewer meets our eyes—and
its stench enters our nostrils, it fills us with self-loathing
and self-abhorrence before the eyes of a holy God.

"Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you
 will be clean. Your filth will be washed away!"
    Ezekiel 36:25-26



Philippians 3:7

"But whatever was to my profit I now consider
 loss for the sake of Christ." Philippians 3:7

This includes the loss . . .
  of all your fancied holiness,
  of all your vaunted strength,
  of all your natural or acquired wisdom,
  of all your boasted knowledge;
in a word, of everything in creature religion of which
the heart is proud, and in which it takes delight.

All, all must be counted loss for Christ's sake—all,
all must be sacrificed to His bleeding, dying love.

Our dearest joys,
our fondest hopes,
our most cherished idols,
must all sink and give way to the grace,
blood, and love of an incarnate God.




Strangers & Pilgrims

"They confessed that they were strangers
 
and pilgrims on the earth." Hebrews 11:13

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,
  to its maxims,
  to its fashions,
  to its principles,
  to its motives,
  to its lusts,
  to its inclinations, and
all in which this world moves as in its native element.

Grace has separated you by God's distinguishing power,
that though you are in the world, you are not of it. You
feel yourself to be a stranger here—as David says, "a
stranger and a sojourner, as all my fathers were."

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,
    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."

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.


But they were also pilgrims—that is, sojourners
through weary deserts—longing, longing for home,
possessing nothing in which they could take
pleasure—feeling the weariness of a long journey
and anxious for rest.

Are you not at times almost worn out by . . .
  sin,
  self,
  trials,
  temptations,
  afflictions;
so that you would gladly lay down your weary
body in the grave—that your soul might rest
in the sweet enjoyment of the King of kings?

If such is your spirit, you have something
of the spirit of the pilgrim sojourning in a
weary land, and and longing for . . .
  rest,
  happiness,
  and peace
in a better country.

"But they desire a better place—a
 heavenly homeland." Hebrews 11:16


 

Looking down into a filthy pit!

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

Sometimes we are so astonished . . .
  at what we are,
  at what we have been, or
  at what we are capable of.

We stand sometimes and look at our heart, and see
what a seething, boiling, and bubbling is there!
And we look at it with indignant astonishment, as
we would look into a pool of filthy black mud, all
swarming and alive with every hideous creature!

So when a man takes a view of his own heart . . .
  its dreadful hypocrisy,
  its vile rebellion,
  its alarming deceitfulness,
  its desperate wickedness,
  of what his heart is capable of plotting,
  of what evil it can conceive and imagine,
it is as if he stood looking down into a filthy pit and
saw with astonishment, mingled with self-abhorrence,
what his heart is, as the fountain of all iniquity.

A man must have some knowledge of his own heart
to understand such language as this.

You that are so exceedingly 'pious' and so 'extra good',
and from whose heart the veil has never been taken away
to show you what you are, will perhaps think that I am
drawing a caricature of human nature, and painting it as
the haunt of thieves and prostitutes.

Could you but have the veil taken off your heart,
you would see that you were capable of doing all
that wickedness that others have done, or can do!

By this sight of ourselves, we learn what a wonderful
God we have to deal with!
Surely none so highly prize
the grace of God as those who are most led into a
knowledge of the fall, and the havoc and ruin, and the
guilt and misery which it has brought into our own hearts.

 


The largest slice of the well-sugared cake

"They confessed that they were strangers
 and pilgrims
on the earth." Hebrews 11:13

Many profess that they are strangers and pilgrims here
below. But they take care to have as much of this world's
comforts as they can scrape together by hook and by crook.

They talk about being 'strangers', yet can be in close
friendship with men of the world. And could you see them
at the exchange, at the market, behind the counter, or at
home with their families—you would not find one mark
to distinguish them from the ungodly!


Yet they come to chapel—and if called upon to pray, they
will tell the people they are "poor strangers and pilgrims in
a valley of tears"—while all the time their hearts are in the
world—and their eyes stand out with fatness—and they are
as light and trifling as a comic actor—and have no concerns
except to get the largest slice of the well-sugared cake
that the world sets before them!

It is not the 'mere profession of the lips'—but 'grace in
the heart', that makes a man a stranger and a pilgrim.

God's people are strangers and sojourners—the world is not
their home—nor can they take pleasure in it. Sin is often a
burden to them—guilt often lies as a heavy weight upon
their conscience—a thousand troubles harass their minds
—a thousand perplexities oppress their souls. They cannot
bury their minds in business and derive all their happiness
from their successes, for they feel that this earth is not their
home. They are often cast down and exercised, because they
have to live with such an ungodly heart in such an ungodly
world.

"They confessed that they were strangers
 and pilgrims
on the earth." Hebrews 11:13




The things which men despise

"The things which are highly esteemed among men
 are an abomination in the sight of God!" Luke 16:15

The pride, ambition, pleasures, and amusements, in
which we see thousands and tens of thousands engaged
—and sailing down the stream into a dreadful gulf of
eternity—are all an abomination in the sight of God!

Whereas the things which men despise, such as . . .
  faith,
  hope,
  love,
  humility,
  brokenness of heart,
  tenderness of conscience,
  contrition of spirit,
  sorrow for sin,
  self-loathing,
  self-abasement,
  looking to Jesus,
  taking up the cross,
  denying one's self,
  walking in the narrow path that leads to eternal life,
—are despised by all—and by none so much as mere heady
religious professors—who have a name to live, while dead.

"The things which are highly esteemed among men
 are an abomination in the sight of God." Luke 16:15



Can they beat back this monster to his filthy den?

"Hold me up, and I shall be safe!" Psalm 119:117

The Lord's people are a tempted people. Satan is ever
waiting at their gate, constantly suggesting every hateful
and improper thought—perpetually inflaming the rebellion
and enmity of their carnal mind—and continually plaguing,
harassing, and besieging them in a thousand ways!

Can they repel him?

Can they beat back this monster to his filthy den?


Can they beat back this leviathan? They cannot—they feel
they cannot. They know that nothing but the voice of Jesus,
inwardly speaking with power to their souls, can beat back
the lion of the bottomless pit!
One whisper, one soft word
from the lips of His gracious Majesty, can and will put every
temptation to flight!

"Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called
 you by name—you are Mine! When you go through deep
 waters and great trouble—I will be with you! When you
 go through rivers of difficulty—you will not drown! When
 you walk through the fire of oppression—you will not be
 burned up—the flames will not consume you. For I am
 the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel—your Savior!"
    Isaiah 43:1-3



When it comes in the guise of a friend

"Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

Does not this show that the world is an enemy to
the Lord, and to the Lord's people? and never so
much an enemy—never to be so much dreaded—as
when it comes in the guise of a friend. When it . . .
  steals upon your heart,
  engrosses your thoughts,
  wins your affections,
  draws away your mind from God,
—then it is to be dreaded.

When the world smites us as an enemy—its
blows are not to be feared. It is when it smiles
upon us as a friend
—it is most to be dreaded.

When our eyes begin to drink it in,
when our ears begin to listen to its voice,
when our hearts become entangled in its fascinations,
when our minds get filled with its anxieties,
when our affections depart from the Lord
and cleave to the things of time and sense,
—then the world is to be dreaded.




Canaanitish idols and heathenish abominations

"You shall destroy their altars, and break down
 their images, and cut down their groves, and burn
 their engraved images with fire!" Deuteronomy 7:5

Our hearts are by nature full of Canaanitish idols and
heathenish abominations
, which must be destroyed!

Lusts after evil things,
adulterous images,
idolatrous desires,
strong hankerings after sin—
along with evils which have the impudence
to wear a religious garb
—such as . . .
  towering thoughts of our own ability,
  pleasing dreams of creature holiness,
  swellings up of pride—dressed out and painted
in all the tawdy colors of Satanic delusion—how
can these abominations be allowed to run rampant
in the human heart?

The altars and religious rites of Canaanites were to be
destroyed as much as their idols! And thus we may say
of that very religious being—man, that his false worship
and heathenish notions of God must be destroyed—as well
as his more flagrant, though not more dangerous, lusts
and abominations.

The sentence against both is, "Destroy them!" They
must not stand side by side with Immanuel, who is
to have the preeminence in all things, and who is
"the Alpha and the Omega—the first and the last."

And O what a mercy it is to have both our FLESHLY and
RELIGIOUS abominations both destroyed!
For I am sure
that God and self never can rule in the same heart—that
Christ and the devil can never reign in the same bosom
—each claiming the supremacy!


 

This inward conflict

"I know that nothing good lives in me—that is, in
 my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what
 is good—but I cannot carry it out." Romans 7:18

Now it is this which makes the Lord's people such a
burdened people—that makes them so oppressed in
their souls as to cry out against themselves daily,
and sometimes hourly—that they are what they are
—that they would be spiritual, yet are carnal—that
they would be holy, yet are unholy—that they would
have sweet communion with Jesus, yet have such
sensual alliance with the things of time and sense—
that they would be Christians in word, thought, and
deed; yet, in spite of all, they feel their carnal mind,
their wretched depravity intertwining, interlacing,
gushing forth—contaminating with its polluted stream
everything without and within—so as to make them
sigh, groan, and cry being burdened, "What a wretched
man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?"
   Romans 7:24

He would not be entangled in these snares for ten thousand
worlds—he hates the evils of his heart, and mourns over the
corruptions of his nature. They make the tear fall from his
eye, and the sob to heave from his bosom—they make him
a wretched man—and fill him day after day with sorrow,
bitterness, and anguish.

None but a saved soul, under divine teaching, can see
this evil—and mourn and sigh under the depravity, the
corruption, the unbelief, the carnality, the wickedness,
and the deceitfulness of his evil heart.

This inward conflict, this sore grief, this internal burden,
that all the family of God are afflicted with—is an evidence
that the life and grace of God are in their bosoms.

"Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord!
 So you see how it is—in my mind I really want to obey
 God's law, but because of my sinful nature I am a
 slave to sin." Rom. 7:25



Who really knows how bad it is?

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

Without a knowledge of the corruptions
and abounding evils of our deceitful and
desperately wicked heart . . .
  unbelief,
  infidelity,
  pride,
  hypocrisy,
  worldly mindedness,
  carnality,
  sensuality,
  selfishness;
there will be . . .
  no humility,
  no self loathing,
  no dread of falling,
  no desire to be kept,
  no knowledge of the super-aboundings
     of grace, over the aboundings of sin.




So many truly sincere and religious people

"Cornelius and all his family were devout and
 God-fearing; he gave generously to those in
 need and prayed to God regularly." Acts 10:2

Yet Cornelius and his family weren't saved! (Acts 11:14)


–A generous centurion build a synagogue. (Luke 7:3-5)

–A young man keeps the commandments from his
  youth up. (Luke 18:21)

–Balaam prophesies. (Numbers 23:16)

–Saul weeps. (1 Samuel 24:16)

–Judas preaches the gospel. (Matthew 10:5-8)

Yet none of these men were saved!


It is at times, enough to fill one's heart with mingled
astonishment and sorrow, to see so many truly sincere
and religious people
, whose religion will leave them short
of eternal life—because they are destitute of saving grace.

To see so much . . .
  amiability,
  benevolence,
  devotedness,
  self-denial,
  liberality
  loveliness of character,
  integrity,
  consistency of life,
all inescapably dashed against the rock of inflexible justice,
and there shattered and lost—swallowed up with its unhappy
possessors in the raging billows beneath—such a sight, did
we not know that the Judge of the whole earth cannot do
wrong, would indeed stagger us to the very center of our being!


 

Sick of SIN, sick of SELF, sick of the WORLD

"Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give
 you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4

By nature we delight in SIN. It is the very element of
our nature—and even after the Lord has called us by
His grace and quickened us by his Spirit—there is the
same love to sin in the heart as there was before.
We delight in it—we would wallow in it—take our full
enjoyment of it—and swim in it as a fish swims in
the waters of the sea!

By nature we also are prone to IDOLATRY. Self is
the grand object of all our sensual and carnal worship.
Our own exaltation,
our own amusement,
our own pleasure,
our own gratification.
Something whereby SELF may be . . .

  flattered,
  admired,
  adored,
  delighted,
is the grand end and aim of man's natural worship.

By nature we also delight in the WORLD. It is . . .
  our element,
  our home,
  what our carnal hearts are intimately blended with.

From all these things, then, which are intrinsically
evil—which a pure and holy God must hate with
absolute abhorrence—we must be weaned and
effectually divorced—we need to have these
things embittered to us.

All the time we are doing homage and worship to
self—all the time we are loving the world—all the
time we delight in sin—all the time we are setting
up idols in the secret chambers of imagery—there
is no delighting ourselves in the Lord.

We cannot delight ourselves in the Lord until we are
purged of creature love—until the idolatry of our hearts is
not merely manifested, but hated and abhorred—until by . . .
  cutting temptations,
  sharp exercises,
  painful perplexities,
  and various sorrows,
we are brought to this state—to be . . .
  sick of SIN,
  sick of SELF,
  sick of the WORLD
.

Until we are brought to loathe ourselves, we are not
brought to that spot where none but God Himself can
comfort, please, or make the soul really happy.

Now the very means that God employs to embitter the
world to us are cutting and grievous dispensations—as
unexpected reverses in fortune—or afflictions of body,
of family, or of soul. But these very means that the Lord
employs to divorce our carnal union from the world, stir
up the self-pity, the murmuring, the peevishness, and
the rebelliousness of our nature. So that we think we
are being very harshly dealt with, in being compelled
to walk in this trying path.

But only by these cutting dispensations we are eventually
brought to delight ourselves in Him, who will give us the
desires of our heart.

How long you shall be walking in this painful path—
how heavy your trials—what their duration shall be—how
deep you may have to sink—how cutting your afflictions
may be in body or soul, God has not defined, and we cannot.
But they must work until they have produced this result—
weaned, divorced, and separated us from all that we
naturally love and idolatrously cleave unto—and all
that we adulterously roam after. If our trials have not
done this, they must go on until they produce that effect.

The burden must be laid upon the back,
affliction must try the mind,
perplexities must encumber the feet,
until we are brought to this point—that none but the
Lord Himself
, with a taste of His dying love, can comfort
our hearts, or give us that inward peace and joy which
our soul is taught to crave after.


 

A hundred doctrines floating in the head

By five minutes real communion with the Lord . . .
  we learn more,
  we know more,
  we receive more,
  we feel more, and
  we experience more
than by a thousand years of merely studying
the Scriptures, or using external forms, rites,
and ceremonies.
 

One truth written by the Spirit in the heart,
will bring forth more fruit in the life, than
a hundred doctrines floating in the head
.
 


However low we may sink

What a mercy it is to have a faithful, gracious, and
compassionate High Priest who can sympathize with
His poor, tried, tempted family—so that however
low we may sink
. . .
  His piteous eye can see us in our low estate,
  His gracious ear hear our cries,
  His loving heart melt over us, and
  His strong arm pluck us from our destructions!

Oh, what would we do without such a gracious
and most suitable Savior as our blessed Jesus!
How He seems to rise more and more . . .

  in our estimation,
  in our thoughts,
  in our desires,
  in our affections,
as we see and feel . . .

  what a wreck and ruin we are,
  what dreadful havoc sin has made with us,
  what miserable outcasts we are by nature.

But oh, how needful it is, dear friend, to be
brought down in our soul to be the . . .
  chief of sinners,
  viler than the vilest,
  worse than the worst,
that we may really and truly believe in, and cleave
unto, this most precious and suitable Savior!

Yours affectionately in the Lord,
J. C. Philpot, October 1, 1868
 


Nothing but a slave!

"Once you were slaves of sin!" Romans 6:17

What a picture does this draw of our sad state, while
walking in the darkness and death of unregeneracy!

The Holy Spirit here sets forth Sin as a harsh master,
exercising tyrannical dominion over his slaves! How
this portrays our state and condition in a state of
unregeneracy—slaves to sin!

Just as a master commands his slave to go here and
there—imposes on him certain tasks—and has entire
and despotic authority over him—so sin . . .
  had a complete mastery over us,
  used us at its arbitrary will and pleasure,
  drove us here and there on its commands.

But in this point we differed from physical slaves—
that we did not murmur under our yoke—but gladly
and cheerfully obeyed all sin's commands—and
never tired of doing the most servile drudgery!

Thus some have had sin as a very vulgar and
tyrannical master
, who drove them into open acts
of drunkenness, uncleanness, and profligacy—yes,
everything base, vile, and evil.

Others have been preserved through education,
through the watchfulness and example of parents,
or other moral restraints, from going into such open
lengths of iniquity—and outward breakings forth of
evil. But still sin secretly reigned in their hearts . . .
  pride,
  worldliness,
  love of the things of time and sense,
  hatred to God and aversion to His holy will,
  selfishness and stubbornness,
in all their various forms, had a complete mastery
over them! And though sin ruled over them more
as a gentleman—he kept them in a more refined,
though not less real or absolute slavery! Whatever
sin bade them do, that they did, as implicitly as the
most abject slave ever obeyed a tyrannical master's
command.

What a picture does the Holy Spirit here draw of
what a man is! Nothing but a slave!—and sin, as
his master, first driving him upon upon God's sword,
and then giving him eternal death as his wages!

"He has rescued us from the dominion
 of darkness—and He has brought us into
 the Kingdom of His dear Son!
" Col. 1:13


 

A glory, a beauty, and a sweetness

How sweet it is to trace the Lord's hand in providence . . .
to look back on the chequered path that He has led us by;
to see how His hand has been with us for good;
what difficulties He has brought us through;
in what straits He has appeared;
how in things most trying He has wrought deliverance;
and how He has sustained us to the present hour.

How sweet are providential favors when they come
stamped with this inscription, "This is from the Lord!"
How precious every temporal mercy becomes—our
very food, lodging, and clothing!

How sweet is the least thing when it comes down
to us as from God's hands! A man cannot know the
sweetness of his daily bread until he sees that God
gives it to him—nor the blessedness of any providential
dealing until he can say, "God has done this for me—and
given that to me." When a man sees the providence of
God stamped on every action of life, it casts
a glory, a
beauty, and a sweetness
over every day of his life!
 

 

Having nothing—and yet possessing all things.

"Having nothing—and yet possessing all things." 2 Cor. 6:10

How can this apparent contradiction be reconciled?

It is resolved thus—
"having nothing" in self,
"possessing all things" in Christ.

And just in proportion as I have nothing in self
experimentally—so I possess all things in Christ.

My own beggary leads me out of self
into His riches.

My own unrighteousness leads me out of self
into Christ's righteousness.

My own defilement leads me out of self
into Christ's sanctification.

My own weakness leads me out of self
into Christ's strength.

My own misery leads me out of self
into Christ's mercy.

"Having nothing—and yet possessing all things." 2 Cor. 6:10

These two branches of divine truth, so far from clashing with
each other—sweetly, gloriously, and blessedly harmonize.
And just in proportion as we know spiritually, experimentally,
and vitally of "having nothing," in self—just so much shall we
know spiritually, experimentally, and vitally of "possessing all
things" in Christ.




Riches, honors, and comforts

"But we have this precious treasure in earthen vessels."
    2 Cor. 4:7

How different is the estimate that the Christian makes
of riches, honors, and comforts—from that made by
the world and the flesh!

The world's idea of riches are only such as consist in gold
and silver, in houses, lands, or other tangible property.

The world's estimate of honors, are only such as man
has to bestow.

The world's notion of comfort, is "fulfilling the
desires of the flesh and of the mind."

But the true Christian takes a different estimate
of these matters, and feels that . . .
  the only true riches are those of God's grace in the heart,
  the only real honor is that which comes from God,
  the only solid comfort is that which is imparted by the
Holy Spirit to a broken and contrite spirit.

Now, just in proportion as we are filled by the Spirit
of God—shall we take faith's estimate of riches,
honors, and comforts
. And just so much as we are
imbued with the spirit of the world—shall we take
the flesh's estimate of these things.

When the eye of the world looked on the Apostles, it
viewed them as a company of poor ignorant men—a set
of wild enthusiasts, who traveled about the country
preaching Jesus, who they said, had been crucified,
and was risen from the dead. The natural eye saw no
beauty, no power, no glory in the truths they brought
forth. Nor did it see that the poor perishing bodies of
these outcast men contained in them a heavenly
treasure
—and that they would one day shine as the
stars forever and ever—while those who despised
their word would sink into endless woe.

The spirit of the world can never understand or love the
things of eternity—it can only look to, and can only rest
upon, the poor perishing things of time and sense.



The continued teachings of the Spirit

When once, by the operation of the Spirit on
our conscience, we have been stripped of . . .
  formality,
  superstition,
  self-righteousness,
  hypocrisy,
  presumption,
and the other delusions of the flesh that hide
themselves under the mask of religion
—we have
felt the difference between having a name to live
while dead, and the power of vital godliness—and
as a measure of divine life has flowed into the
heart out of the fullness of the Son of God—we
desire no other religion
but that which stands
in the power of God
—by that alone can we live,
and by that alone we feel that we can die.

And, at last, we are brought to this conviction and
solemn conclusion—that there is no other true
religion but that which consists in
the continued
teachings of the Spirit
, and the communications
of the life of God to the soul.


And with the Spirit's teachings are connected . . .
  all the actings of faith in the soul,
  all the anchorings of hope in the heart,
  all the flowings forth of love,
  every tear of genuine contrition that flows down the cheeks,
  every sigh of godly sorrow that heaves from the bosom,
  every cry and groan because of the body of sin,
  every breath of spiritual prayer that comes from the heart,
  every casting of our souls upon Christ,
  all submission to Him,
  all communion with Him,
  all enjoyment of Him, and
  all the inward embracements of Him
     in His suitability and preciousness.




It will come in at every chink and crevice!

"I know that nothing good lives in me."
    Romans 7:18

The world within us is ten thousand times
worse than the world outside of us!

We may shut and bar our doors, and exclude the
outside world—but the world within cannot be so
shut out! More—we might go and hide ourselves
in a hermit's cave, and never see the face of man
again—but even there we would be as carnal and
worldly as if we lived in Vanity Fair!

We cannot shut out the world—it will come in
at every chink and crevice!
This wretched world
will intrude itself into our every thought and
imagination!

I don't know how it may be with you, but I have no
more power to keep out the workings of sin in my
heart—than I have power by holding up my hand to
stop the rain from coming down to the earth! Sin will
come in at every crack and crevice
, and manifest
itself in the wretched workings of an evil heart!

The seeds of every crime are in our nature—and
therefore, could your flesh have its full swing—there
would not be a viler wretch in London than you!




At last to cheat the devil!

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.

It is not as though we could roam abroad in total
liberty. We must have a master of one kind, or another.

And which is best?

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,
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 walk in imagined liberty, with sin in our heart,
exercising dominion and mastery there—and 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 sweet union and communion with the Lord of life and
glory, in reading His word with a believing heart, in finding
access to His sacred presence, in knowing something of the
droppings in 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 death-bed
repentance—at last to cheat the devil!




This is what the Lord says

This is what the Lord says—"Cursed is the one who
trusts in man
, who depends on flesh for his strength
and whose heart turns away from the Lord." Jer. 17:5

The Lord here does not lay down a man's moral
or immoral character as a test of salvation.
He does not say, "Cursed is . . .
  the thief,
  the adulterer,
  the extortioner,
  the murderer,
  the man that lives in open profanity."

He puts all that aside, and fixes His eye and lays
His hand upon one mark—which may exist with the
greatest morality and with the highest profession
of religion.

"I will tell you," the Lord says, "who are under My
curse—the person who trusts in man—who depends
on flesh for his strength—and in so doing, his heart
turns away from Me."

This is what the Lord says—"Cursed is the one who
trusts in man
, who depends on flesh for his strength
and whose heart turns away from the Lord." Jer. 17:5



That hideous idol SELF in his little shrine

Never again will we say any more to the work
of our hands—"You are our gods!"  Hosea 14:3

The besetting sin of Israel was the worship of idols.

Perhaps, if you have walked into the British Museum,
and seen the idols that were worshiped in former days
in the South Sea Islands, you have been amazed that
rational beings could ever bow down before such ugly
monsters.

But does the heart of a South Sea Islander differ from
the heart of an Englishman? Not a bit! The latter may
have more civilization and cultivation—but his heart
is the same!
And though you have not bowed down to
these monstrous objects and hideous figures—there
may be as filthy an idol in your heart! Where is
there a filthier idol than the lusts and passions of
man's fallen nature?

You need not go to the British Museum to see
filthy idols and painted images. Look within!

Where is there a more groveling idol than Mammon,
and the covetousness of our heart? You need not
wonder at heathens worshiping hideous idols—when
you have pride, covetousness, and above all that
hideous idol SELF in his little shrine
, hiding himself
from the eyes of man—but to which you are so often
rendering your daily and hourly worship!

If a person does not see that the root of all
idolatry
is SELF, he knows but little of his heart.



 
Such a perpetual and unceasing conflict?

"I do not understand what I do! For what I want
 to do I do not do; but what I hate I do. I know
 that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful
 nature. For I have the desire to do what is good,
 but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the
 good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do
 —this I keep on doing. So I find this law at work:
 When I want to do good, evil is right there with
 me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue
 me from this body of death?" Rom. 7:15,18,19,21,24

What a picture of that which passes in a godly
man's bosom! He has in him two distinct
principles
, two different natures—one . . .
  holy,
  heavenly,
  spiritual,
  panting after the Lord, and
  finding the things of God its element.

And yet in the same bosom a principle . . .
  totally corrupt,
  thoroughly and entirely depraved,
  perpetually striving against the holy principle within,
  continually lusting after evil,
  opposed to every leading of the Spirit in the soul,
  and seeking to gratify its filthy desires at any cost!

Now, must there not be a feeling of misery in a man's
bosom to have these two armies perpetually fighting?
That when he desires to do good, evil is present with
him—when he would be holy, heavenly minded, tender
hearted, loving, seeking God's glory, enjoying sweet
communion with Jehovah—there is a base, sensual,
earthly heart perpetually at work—infusing its baneful
poison into every thought, counteracting every desire,
and dragging him from the heaven to which he would
mount, down to the very hell of carnality and filth?

There is a holy, heavenly principle in a man's bosom
that knows, fears, loves, and delights in God. Yet he
finds that sin in himself, which is altogether opposed to
the mind of Christ, and lusts after that which he hates.
Must there not be sorrow and grief in that man's bosom
to feel such a perpetual and unceasing conflict?

Is there ever this piteous cry forced by guilt, shame,
and sorrow out of your bosom, "O wretched man that
I am!" If not, be assured that you are dead in sin, or
dead in a profession.




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