Grace Gems for NOVEMBER 2006

The royal gate

(Thomas Brooks, "Heaven on Earth" 1667)

"Pray without ceasing." 1 Thessalonians 5:17

A man may always pray habitually; he may
have his heart in a praying disposition in all
states and conditions—
  in prosperity and adversity,
  in health and sickness,
  in strength and weakness,
  in wealth and wants,
  in life and death.

The Christian needs . . .
  divine mercy to pardon him,
  divine grace to purify him,
  divine balm to heal him,
  divine favor to comfort him,
  divine power to support him,
  divine wisdom to counsel him,
  divine goodness to satisfy him.

Our daily weaknesses,
our daily needs,
our daily fears,
our daily dangers,
our daily temptations,
call for our daily prayers.

Prayer is the royal gate by which
the Lord enters into the heart—
  quickening, and
  upholding it.

By prayer—
  faith is increased,
  hope strengthened,
  the spirit exhilarated,
  the heart pacified,
  the conscience purified,
  temptations vanquished,
  corruptions weakened,
  the affections inflamed,
  the will more renewed, and
  the whole man more advantaged.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~


(Matthew Meade, "The Almost Christian”)

What pains do children take to scrape and
roll the snow together to make a snowman.
But soon after it is done, the heat of the sun
dissolves it, and it comes to nothing.

The greatest treasures of worldly people are
but snowmen! When death and judgment
come, they melt away, and come to nothing!

"The world with its lust is passing away."
    1 John 2:17

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

These childish dissipations!

(John Newton's Letters)

Writing to a worldling, John Newton says—
If you were to send me an inventory of your pleasures;
how charmingly your time runs on, and how dexterously
it is divided between the coffee-house, play-house, the
card-table, and tavern, with intervals of balls, concerts,
etc.; I would answer, that most of these I have tried over
and over, and know the utmost they can yield, and have
seen enough of the rest, most heartily to despise them all.
I profess I had rather be a worm crawling on the ground,
than to bear the name of 'man' upon the poor terms of
whiling away my life in an insipid round of such insignificant
and unmanly trifles! Alas! how do you prostitute your talents
and capacity, how far do you act below yourself—if you know
no higher purpose of life than these childish dissipations!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Tempting, seductive, dangerous and ruinous

(William S. Plumer, "The Ten Commandments")

"People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap
 and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men
 into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root
 of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have
 wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with
 many griefs." 1 Timothy 6:9-10

By reason of sin, riches are ordinarily tempting, seductive,
dangerous and ruinous
. A right view of the perils of wealth
would, with the divine blessing, have a mighty efficacy in curing
our covetousness and discontent, and in causing us to cease
improperly to love what we have, or sinfully to desire that
which belongs to others.

When one says to himself, "You have many goods stored up
for many years. Take it easy; eat, drink, and enjoy yourself!"
(Luke 12:19) destruction is already at the door! No state of
mind is more opposite to the spirit of the gospel, than that
of slothfulness, high living, banqueting, and carnal mirth.
"Sodom's sins were pride, laziness, and gluttony." Ez. 16:49

Wantonness and luxury, sloth and corruption usually go
together. The great nourisher of these is wealth.

"Covetousness is idolatry." It disowns Jehovah. It sets up
gold to be worshiped. It brings man, like the serpent, to lick
the dust. It sadly perverts God's mercies, as well as all our
own thoughts. It makes men believe in . . .
  no God but mammon,
  no devil but the absence of gold,
  no damnation but being poor,
  no hell but an empty purse.

David speaks of "men of the world, who have their
portion in this life." Psalm 17:14.

To lead a Christian life is to give up one's idols. Oh
that men would believe their final Judge, when He
says, "You cannot serve God and mammon!"

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

God would not rub so hard

(Thomas Brooks, "The Privy Key of Heaven" 1665)

"I will turn My hand against you and will burn away
your dross completely; I will remove all your impurities."
     Isaiah 1:25

Afflictions cleanse and purge away the dross, the filth,
and the scum of the Christian.

All the harm the fire did to the three children, or rather
the three champions—was to burn off their cords. Our
lusts are cords of vanity, but the fire of affliction shall
burn them up. Sharp afflictions are a fire—to purge out
our dross, and to make our graces shine; they are a
potion—to carry away ill humours; they are cold frosts
—to destroy the vermin; they are a tempestuous sea—
to purge the wine from its dregs; they are a sharp
corrosive—to eat out the dead flesh.

Afflictions are compared to washing—which takes away
the filth of the soul, as water does the filth of the body.
God would not rub so hard
, were it not to fetch out
the dirt and spots that are in His people's hearts.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The devil's chapel

(William S. Plumer, "The Ten Commandments")

"I will set before my eyes no vile thing." Psalm 101:3

Augustine: "Stage-plays are the subverters of goodness
and honesty; the destroyers of all modesty and chastity."

Bernard: "All true soldiers of Jesus Christ abominate and
reject all stage-plays, as vanities and false frenzies."

Seneca: "Nothing is so destructive of godly manners
or morals—as attendance on the stage."

Gregory Nazianzen: "Play-houses are the lascivious
shops of all filthiness and impurity."

Tillotson: "The play-house is the devil's chapel, a
nursery of licentiousness and vice; a recreation which
ought not to be allowed among a civilized, much less
a Christian people."

The American Congress, October 12th, 1778: "Whereas,
true religion and good morals are the only solid foundation
of public liberty and happiness: Resolved, that it be, and
is hereby earnestly recommended to the several States—
to take the most effectual means for the suppressing of
theatrical entertainments, horse-racing, gaming, and such
other diversions, as are productive of idleness, dissipation,
and a general depravity of principles and manners."

William S. Plumer:
"The theatre is an evil place.
In this vortex of vice
  the first step is to the theater,
  the next to the bar,
  the next to lewd company,
  the next to the brothel,
  the next to disease,
  the next to death,
  and the last to HELL."

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

An excellent way of commenting upon the Bible  

(Thomas Watson)

"How I love Your teaching! It is my meditation
 all day long." Psalm 119:97

Chrysostom compares the Scripture to a garden,
every truth is a fragrant flower, which we should
wear, not on our bosom—but in our heart!

David counted the Word "sweeter than honey
and the honeycomb". There is that in Scripture
which may breed delight. It shows us the way . . .
  to riches: Deut 28:8, Prov 3:30;
  to long life, Psalm 34:42;
  to a kingdom, Heb 12:28.

Well then may we count those the sweetest hours
which are spent in reading the holy Scriptures; well
may we say with the prophet, "Your words were
found, and I ate them. Your words became a
delight to me and the joy of my heart."

Conform to Scripture. Let us lead Scripture lives.
Oh that the Bible might be seen printed in our
Do what the Word commands. Obedience is
an excellent way of commenting upon the Bible.
"Teach me Your way, O Lord—and I will walk in Your
truth." Let the Word be the sun-dial by which you
set your life. What are we the better for having the
Scripture—if we do not direct all our speech and
actions according to it? What are we the better for
the rule of the Word—if we do not make use of it,
and regulate our lives by it? What a dishonor is it
to religion—for men to live in contradiction to
Scripture! The Word is called a "light to our feet"
It is not only a light to our eyes to mend our sight
—but to our feet to mend our walk. Oh let us lead
Bible lives!

Be thankful to God for the Scriptures. What a
mercy is it that God has not only acquainted us
what His will is, but that He has made it known
by writing! The Scripture is our pole-star to
direct us to heaven, it shows us every step we
are to take; when we go wrong—it instructs us;
when we go right—it comforts us.
Adore God's distinguishing grace, if you have
felt the power and authority of the Word upon
your conscience; if you can say as David, "Your
word has quickened me." Christian, bless God
that He has not only given you His Word to be
a rule of holiness—but His grace to be a principle
of holiness. Bless God that He has not only written
His Word, but sealed it upon your heart, and made
it effectual. Can you say it is of divine inspiration,
because you have felt it to be of lively operation?
Oh free grace! that God should send out His Word,
and heal you; that He should heal you—and not
others! That the same Scripture which to them is
a dead letter—should be to you a savor of life!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The mad desire of plenty and pleasure

(Richard Baxter, "The Sinfulness of Flesh-Pleasing")

Remember your death. Go to the grave, and see there
the end of fleshly pleasure
—and what is all that it
will do for you at the last. One would think this would
cure the mad desire of plenty and pleasure—to see
where all our wealth, and mirth, and sport, and pleasure
must be buried at last!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Never nurse a child for the devil

(William S. Plumer, "The Ten Commandments")

The heart of your child is corrupt, and all your
teaching and example will be lost without God's blessing.
You cannot change the heart, renew the will, or wash
away the sins of your child. God alone can impart to him
a love of the truth, or give him repentance. You may use
your best endeavors—but all will be in vain without God's

A mother of eleven pious children, who being asked how
she came to be so much blessed, said, "I never took one
of them into my arms to give it nourishment, that I did
not pray that I might never nurse a child for the devil."

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

A bad example

(William S. Plumer, "The Ten Commandments")

"In everything he followed the example of
 his father
." 2 Kings 14:3

Children are the most imitative creatures in the world.

Parents should so walk before their children as that
they may safely follow in their footsteps. Set a good
example in all things. He who delivers good precepts,
scatters good seed. He who adds good example,
ploughs in that seed.

A bad example will destroy the good which might be
expected from sound instruction. "Do as I say—and not
as I do,"
is a sentence which converts the best teaching
into poison, and dreadfully hardens the heart.

Precepts give the theory, but example instills principle.

Words impart notions, but example carries conviction.

You need special wisdom and grace to preserve you from
error, and sin, and folly. If you practice any sin before
your child—you cannot fail to teach him to do the same.

"In everything he followed the example of
 his father
." 2 Kings 14:3

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Come and eat!

(Horatius Bonar, "The Bread of Immortality")

"I am the bread of life." John 6:48

"I am the living bread." John 6:51

All food is for the sustaining of life.

Jesus announces Himself as the bread which will sustain
the life of the soul. Not merely some doctrine—but Himself.
He is the bread; not merely bread—but the bread—the one
true bread; without whom the soul cannot grow, nor its life
be sustained. For only by this life-sustaining bread, can
such sickly souls be nourished. As such, Jesus is necessary
to the soul as its food—its bread.

Outside of Him, there is no nourishment, no sustenance.
He feeds—He alone. He feeds us on Himself! All else is
husks, or mere air and vapor. Jesus, in His glorious person,
is our food—the true bread and sustenance of the soul;
the hidden manna.

Jesus applies various names to it:
  "bread from heaven"
  "true bread"
  "the bread of God"
  "bread of life"
  "living bread."
All these are names indicative of its excellence, its power,
its suitableness. It is the very bread we need; no other
would do. Jesus is the soul's eternal food. This
storehouse is inexhaustible—and ever accessible!

Come as you are, poor prodigal, starving on husks—come
and eat!
Eat, O friends! Eat, and live! Eat, and be strong!
Eat, and be in soul health!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

A little, poor, helpless child

(Jonathan Edwards, "Directions How to Conduct Yourself
 in Your Christian Course"—a letter addressed to a young
 lady in the year 1741)

In all your daily living—walk with God, and follow Christ,
as a little, poor, helpless child—taking hold of Christ's
hand, keeping your eye on the marks of the wounds in
His hands and side—whence came the blood which cleanses
you from sin; and hiding your nakedness under the skirt of
the white shining robes of His righteousness.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

One foot in hell

(Horatius Bonar, "The Three Crosses")

"I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in paradise."
    Luke 23:43

The saved thief is a specimen of what the cross is appointed
to do. Sin abounding, grace super-abounding.

What is yon cross erected for? To save souls!
See, it saves one of the worst; one who had done
nothing but evil all his days!

What does that blood flow for?
To wash away sin!
See, it washes one of the blackest!

What does yon Sufferer die for? To pardon the
guiltiest! Not merely to save from hell, but to open
Paradise to the chief of sinners—to open it at once;
not after years of torment, but "today." Today "with
Me." Yes, Jesus goes back to heaven with a saved
robber at His side! What an efficacy in the cross!
What grace, what glory, what cleansing, what healing,
what blessing—at yonder cross! Even "in weakness"
the Son of God can deliver—can pluck brands from
the burning—can defy and defeat the evil one! Such
is the meaning of the cross! Such is the interpretation
which God puts upon it, by saving that wretched thief.

See how near to hell a man may be—and yet be
That thief, was he not on the very brink of the
burning  lake—one foot in hell; almost set on fire by
hell? Yet he is plucked out! He has done nothing but
evil all his days—down to the very last hour of his life;
yet he is saved. He is just about to step into perdition,
when the hand of the Son of God seizes him and lifts
him to Paradise!

Ah, what grace is here!

What boundless love!

What power to save!

Who after this need despair?

Truly Jesus is mighty to save!

See how near a man may be to Christ—and
yet not be saved.
The other thief is as near the
Savior as his fellow—yet he perishes. From the
very side of Christ—he goes down to hell. From
the very side of his saved fellow—he passes into
damnation. We see the one going up to heaven
—and the other going down to hell.

This is astonishing—and it is fearful!

Oh, what a lesson—what a sermon is here!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

"Absolute Predestination"

(Jerome Zanchius, 1516-1590)
Without a due sense of predestination, we shall lack the
surest and the most powerful inducement to patience,
resignation and dependence on God under every spiritual
and temporal affliction. How sweet must the following
considerations be to a distressed believer!

(1) There most certainly exists an almighty, all-wise
and infinitely gracious God.

(2) He has given me in times past, and is giving me
at present (if I had but eyes to see it), many and
signal intimations of His love to me—both in a way
of providence and grace.

(3) This love of His is immutable; He never repents
of it nor withdraws it.

(4) Whatever comes to pass in time, is the result
of His will from everlasting, consequently

(5) my afflictions were a part of His original plan,
and are all ordered in number, weight and measure.

(6) The very hairs of my head are (every one) counted
by Him, nor can a single hair fall to the ground but in
consequence of His determination. Hence

(7) my distresses are not the result of chance, accident
or a fortuitous combination of circumstances, but

(8) the providential accomplishment of God's purpose, and

(9) designed to answer some wise and gracious ends, nor

(10) shall my affliction continue a moment longer than
God sees fit.

(11) He who brought me to it, has promised to support
me under it, and to carry me through it.

(12) All shall, most assuredly, work together for His glory
and my good, therefore

(13) "The cup which my heavenly Father has given me to
drink, shall I not drink it?" Yes, I will, in the strength He
imparts, even rejoice in tribulation. I will commit myself
and the event to Him, whose purpose cannot be overthrown,
whose plan cannot be disconcerted; and who, whether I am
resigned or not, will still go on to work all things after the
counsel of His own will.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

In the great game of existence

(John MacDuff, "Thoughts for the Quiet Hour", 1895)

Sad the case
of those who had the possibilities
of a good and useful existence—but have lived
fatally and hopelessly given up to . . .
  sloth, or
  flippant pleasure, or
  engrossing selfishness.

Those fugitive, precious moments we are
forgetting and wasting, cannot be recovered.

In the great game of existence many are staking
all and losing all—drifting to hopeless, irremediable
bankruptcy. That is a solemn word—a dreadful
truth—the irreparable past!

Death will dissolve many a 'fairy vision' that has lured
and charmed us. Death will sweep down many 'flimsy
cobwebs of earth' that we have laboriously weaved—
poor tawdry things we have so often clung to and

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain

(William S. Plumer, "The Ten Commandments")

A great design of true religion is to bring men to habitual reverence
for God's divine majesty. The very moment men cease to treat God
as holy—that moment their worship becomes polluted.

"You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain;
for the Lord will not hold him guiltless, who takes His name in vain."
    Exodus 20:7

Anything relating to the true God—His being, His nature, His will,
His works, His worship, His service, or His doctrine—pertains to
God's name. This commandment extends to the state of men's
thoughts and hearts—as well as to their speech.

To take God's name in vain, is to use it in any frivolous, false,
inconsiderate, irreverent, or otherwise wicked manner. The
scope of this commandment is to secure the holy and reverent
use of all that by which God makes Himself known to His people;
and so to guard His sacred name against all that is calculated
to make it contemptible.

The manner of taking His name is to be grave, solemn, intelligent,
thoughtful, sincere, and with godly fear.

"You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain;
for the Lord will not hold him guiltless, who takes His name in vain."
    Exodus 20:7

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The city was full of idols!

William S. Plumer, "The Ten Commandments")

"Abominable idolatries" 1 Peter 4:3

Men never do a more vain and empty thing, than
when they make or serve an idol. It is as foolish and
as unproductive of good, as when one beats the air.

Idolatry is both absurd and criminal. Idolatry, in all its
forms, is a sin so gross, and expressive of so much folly
and stupidity, that it is bewildering that men could ever
commit it. To inspired writers it is a theme of just and
severe ridicule; not the less pungent because a simple
statement of its grossness is all that is required to show
its absurdity.

"Their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands.
 They have mouths, but cannot speak; eyes, but cannot
 see. They have ears, but cannot hear; noses, but cannot
 smell. They have hands, but cannot feel; feet, but cannot
 walk. They cannot make a sound with their throats. Those
 who make them are just like them, as are all who trust
 in them." Psalm 115:4-8

In all this ridicule there is no caricature, no exaggeration. It
is all fair, because it is simple truth. Yet, as absurd as idolatry
is, there is no science, literature, philosophy, civilization, which
can show its silliness so plainly, as to banish it from among men.

"While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly
 distressed to see that the city was full of idols!" Acts 17:16

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The Glories of Mary, Mother of God

William S. Plumer, "The Ten Commandments" 1864)

"I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me." Exodus 20:2-3

A very favorite book among Catholics is entitled, "The Glories of Mary, Mother of God." It's author is St. Alphonsus Liguori. The translator dedicates the work to Mary, "the Queen of Angels and of Men," with "all veneration and respect," and says it is "designed to increase the number and fervor of her worshipers." Here is the table of contents:

How great should be our confidence in Mary, Queen of Mercy.

How great our confidence should be in Mary as our mother.

The great love borne us by Mary our mother.

Mary is the refuge of repentant sinners.

Mary is our life, since she obtains us the pardon of our sins.

Mary is our life, because she obtains our perseverance.

Mary renders death sweet to her servants.

Mary is the hope of all the children of Adam.

Mary is the hope of the sinner.

Mary's readiness to assist those who invoke her.

The power of Mary to defend those who invoke her in temptations.

Necessity of Mary's intercession in order to obtain salvation.

Mary is a powerful Advocate.

Mary is a compassionate Advocate.

Mary is mediatrix of peace between God and sinners.

Mary is ever watchful to support our miseries.

Mary preserves her servants from hell.

Mary succours her servants in purgatory.

Mary conducts her servants to heaven.

The greatness of Mary's mercifulness and goodness.

The sweetness of the holy name of Mary in life and in death.

In "The Psalter of the Virgin" we find the last two Psalms of David thus thrown into parody, and applied to Mary instead of Jehovah: "Sing unto our Lady a new song: let her praise be in the congregation of the just. Praise our Lady in her holiness; praise her in her virtues and miracles; praise her, you choirs of patriarchs and prophets; praise her, you army of martyrs; let everything that has breath praise our lady!"

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Roman Catholicism is a gigantic system of . . .
    image-worship, and
In one word, it is a huge organized idolatry.
(J. C. Ryle "Idolatry to be Destroyed")

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The most devouring idol in all the world!

(Richard Baxter "The Sinfulness of Flesh-Pleasing")

"Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach,
 and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly
 things." Philippians 3:19

Flesh-pleasing is the grand idolatry of the world. The flesh
is the greatest idol that ever was set up against God.

That is a man's God, which he . . .
  takes for his chief good,
  and loves best,
  and is most desirous to please.
And this is the flesh, to every sensualist.

He "loves pleasure more than God." He "minds the things
of the flesh," and "lives" for it, and "walks after it." He
"makes provision for it, to satisfy its appetite and lusts."
He "sows to the flesh, and fulfills its lusts."

It is not primarily the bowing of the knee and praying
to a thing—which constitutes idolatry. It is the loving,
and pleasing, and obeying, and seeking, and delighting
in a thing—which is idolatry.

So the loving of the flesh, and pleasing it, and serving
it, and obeying it, and seeking and delighting in its
pleasures—is the grand idolatry—more than if you
offered sacrifices to it!

And so the flesh is God's chief enemy, because it has
the chief love and service which are due to Him. The
flesh robs Him of the hearts of all people who are
carnal and unsanctified. All the Baals, and Jupiters,
and Apollos, and other idols of the world put together,
have not so much of the love and service due to God,
as the flesh alone has. If other things are idolized by
the sensualist, it is but as they subserve his flesh, and
therefore they are made but inferior idols.

The flesh is not only the common idol—but the most
devouring idol in all the world!
It has not, as inferior,
flattered idols have—only a knee and compliment, or now
and then a sacrifice or ceremony—but it has the heart,
the tongue, the body to serve it!

The flesh is loved and served by the sensualist, "with all
his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his strength."
They forsake God for the flesh. They forsake Christ, and
heaven, and their salvation for it. They forsake all the
solid comforts of this life, and all the joys of the life to
come for it. They sell all that they have, and lay down
the price at its feet. Yes, more than all they have, even
all their hopes of what they might have to all eternity!
They suffer in the flames of hell forever, for their flesh!

How vile an idol is the flesh! It is a great a madness to
serve an idol of silver, or gold or stone, or wood. But is
it any better to serve an idol of flesh and blood—which
is full of filth and excrement within, and the skin itself,
the cleanest part, is ashamed to be uncovered? Is this
a god to sacrifice all that we have to? and to give all
our time, and care, and labor, and our souls, and all to?

Consider how impious and horrid an abasement it is of
the eternal God—to prefer so vile a thing before Him!
You say continually by your practice, "This filthy, nasty
flesh, is to be preferred before God—to be more loved,
and obeyed, and served. It deserves more of my time
than God. It is more worthy of my delight and love!"

It is but a few days until all their most adorned, pampered
flesh will be turned into worms' food! A few days will turn . . .
 their pleasure into anguish,
 their jollity into groans,
 their ostentation into lamentation,
 all their pride into shame.

When the skull is cast up with the spade, to make room for
a successor—you may see the hole where all the food and
drink went in; but you will see no signs of mirth or pleasure.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The most treacherous enemy!

(Richard Baxter, "Self-Denial")

"If anyone would come after Me, he must deny
and take up his cross daily and follow Me."
     Luke 9:23

Of all the sins, there is scarcely any more odious and
dangerous, than selfishness. And yet most are never
troubled at it, nor sensible of its malignity.

SELF is the most treacherous enemy, and the most
insinuating deceiver in the world! It will be within you
when you are not aware of it; and will conquer you
when you you don't perceive it. Of all other vices,
selfishness is both the hardest to find out—and the
hardest to cure.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

That wonderful medicine!

(Letters of J. C. Philpot)

"He forgives all my sins and heals all my
." Psalm 103:3

What a mass of . . .
  filth and folly,
  blindness and ignorance,
  deceit and hypocrisy,
  carnality, sensuality, and devilism are we!

Prone to all that is bad, utterly averse to all
that is good—bent upon sin—hating holiness,
heavenly-mindedness, and spirituality—what
earthly wretches, guilty monsters, abominable
creature are we!

And if our minds are sometimes drawn upwards
in faith and affection, and we pant after the living
God—how soon, how almost instantly, do we drop
down again into our earthly self, whence we are
utterly unable to rise until the Blessed Spirit lifts
us out again! What fits of unbelief, shakings of
infidelity, fevers of lust, agues of carelessness,
consumptions of faith, hope, love and zeal; yes,
what a host of diseases dwell in our poor soul!

But they all admit of a twofold cure—that wonderful
which John saw run from the wounded side
of the Redeemer—blood and water; the one to heal,
the other to wash; the one to atone, the other to
cleanse; justification by blood, and sanctification
by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the
Holy Spirit.

"The blood of Jesus, cleanses us from every sin."
    1 John 1:7

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Man sins—and God dies!

(Lewis Bayly
, "The Practice of Piety" 1611)

"Christ died for the ungodly." Romans 5:6

What had You done, O my sweet Savior, and ever-blessed
Redeemer—that You were thus betrayed by Judas, sold to
the Jews, apprehended as a malefactor, and led bound as
a lamb to the slaughter? What evil had You committed,
that You should be thus openly arraigned, falsely accused,
and unjustly condemned? What was Your offence? Whom
did You ever wrong? that You should be thus . . .
  woefully scourged with whips,
  crowned with thorns,
  reviled with words,
  buffeted with fists,
  beaten with staves?

O Lord, what did You do to deserve to have Your blessed
face spit upon, and covered as it were with shame; to have
Your hands and feet nailed to the cross; to be lifted up on
the cursed tree; to be crucified among thieves, and made
to taste gall and vinegar; and in Your deadly extremity, to
endure such a sea of God's wrath, that made You cry out,
as if You had been forsaken by God Your Father; yes, to
have Your innocent heart pierced with a cruel spear, and
Your precious blood spilt before Your blessed mother's eyes?
Sweet Savior, how much were You tormented to endure all
this—seeing I am so much amazed even to think upon it!

What is the cause, then, O Lord, of this Your cruel
ignominy, passion, and death? I, O Lord—I am the
cause of these Your sorrows!

My sins wrought Your shame;
my iniquities are the occasion of Your injuries;
I have committed the fault—and You are punished for the offence;
I am guilty—and You are arraigned;
I committed the sin—and You suffered the death;
I have done the crime—and You hung on the cross!

Oh, the deepness of God's love!

Oh, the amazing profoundness of heavenly grace!

Oh, the immeasurable measure of divine mercy!

The wicked transgress—and the just is punished;
the guilty set free—and the innocent is arraigned;
the malefactor is acquitted—and the harmless condemned;
what the evil man deserves—the holy God suffers!

What shall I say? Man sins—and God dies!

O Son of God! who can sufficiently . . .
  express Your love, or
  commend Your pity, or
  extol Your praise?

I was proud—and You are humble;
I was disobedient—and You became obedient;
I ate the forbidden fruit—and You hung on the cursed tree;
evil lust drew me to eat the pleasant apple—
  and perfect love led You to drink of the bitter cup;
I tasted the sweetness of the fruit—
  and You tasted the bitterness of the gall.

O my God, here I see . . .
  Your goodness—and my vileness;
  Your justice—and my injustice.

And now, O blessed Lord, You have endured all this for
my sake; what shall I render unto You for all Your benefits
bestowed upon me, a sinful soul? What shall I render to
You, for giving Yourself in Your infinite love, to so cruel
a death, to procure my redemption?

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The bitter pill of affliction

(Lewis Bayly, "The Practice of Piety" 1611)

Nothing will more arm you with patience in your
, than to see that it comes from the hand
of your heavenly Father, who would never send it
but that He sees it to be to you both needful and
profitable. For God, like a skillful physician, seeing
the soul to be poisoned with the settling of sin,
administers the bitter pill of affliction, whereby
the remains of sin are purged, and the soul more
soundly cured; the flesh is subdued, and the spirit
is sanctified. O the odiousness of sin, which causes
God to chasten so severely His children, whom
otherwise He loves so dearly!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

For a moment of sinful pleasure

(Lewis Bayly, "The Practice of Piety" 1611)

O the madness of man, that for a moment of
sinful pleasure
will hazard the loss of an eternal
weight of glory!

Better it is to go sickly with Lazarus to heaven;
than full of mirth and pleasure, with the rich man
to hell. Better it is to mourn for a time on earth,
than to be tormented forever with devils.

Without Christ you are but . . .
  a slave of sin,
  death's vassal,
  the food of worms,
  whose thoughts are vain,
  whose deeds are vile,
  whose pleasures have scarcely a beginning,
  whose miseries never know an end.

What wise man would incur these hellish torments,
though he might, by living in sin, purchase to himself
for a time the empire of Augustus, the riches of Croesus,
the pleasures of Solomon, the voluptuous fare and fine
apparel of the rich man? For what should it avail a man,
as our Savior says—to win the whole world for a time,
and then to lose his soul in hell forever?

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The infinities of bliss and glory!

(Henry Law, "Forgiveness of Sins" 1875)

"It was the Lord's will to crush Him and cause
 Him to suffer." Isaiah 53:10

The Father of all mercies heaped on Christ the
outpourings of His wrath; that He may heap on
pardoned sinners the infinities of bliss and

"Christ died for the ungodly." Romans 5:6

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Dirt, handsomely fashioned

(Thomas Brooks, "The Privy Key of Heaven" 1665)

"All your life you will sweat to produce food, until your
 dying day. Then you will return to the ground from
 which you came. For you were made from dust, and
 to the dust you will return." Genesis 3:19.

Our bodies are but dirt, handsomely fashioned. We
derive our pedigree from the dirt, and are akin to clay.
One calls the body "the soul's beast."
Another calls it "worms' food".
Paul calls it "a body of vileness".

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Sunk deep in the mire

(The life and letters of John Angell James)

Most professing Christians are sunk deep in the mire
of worldly-mindedness.
Mammon is the wicked and
shameful idol of the church.

Our churches are, in my opinion, far from a state of sound
healthy piety. We have but little of what constitutes the
essence of experimental religion. Everything is superficial.
Our repentance, our faith, our love, our devotional habits
—are all superficial! The world has . . .
   engrossed men's minds,
   absorbed their feelings,
   starved their piety.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Some who read these lines

(The life and letters of John Angell James)

Consider that the eternal loss of the soul is not a rare—but a
very common occurrence! So far from being a rare thing for
a soul to go to hell—it is a much rarer thing for them to go to
heaven! Jesus tells us that the road to eternal destruction is
thronged; while the way to eternal life is traveled by few. Hell
opens its mouth wide—and swallows up multitudes in eternal
perdition! Every day brings you nearer to everlasting bliss—or
everlasting torments. You may die at any moment; and you
are as near to heaven or hell—as you are to death. Some who
read these lines
will very likely spend their eternity in hell.

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad
 is the road that leads to destruction—and many enter through it.
 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life—and
 only a few find it." Matthew 7:13-14

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

A double hell

(John Angell James, "Life and Letters")

You who are poor—with this 'pearl of great price'
to enrich you, with a title to a priceless inheritance,
reserved in heaven for you, pure and undefiled,
beyond the reach of change and decay—to animate
and comfort you; all the privations of your earthly
poverty can be borne—not only with patience, but
with cheerfulness.

The grace of God in the heart, the promise of God
in the hand, and the glory of God in the eye—are
enough to reconcile us to the longest life of the
most dire poverty.

But poverty, without true piety—is to be poor indeed!
To be both poor and wicked, is to have a double hell
—a hell here, and a worse hell hereafter!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

One everlasting memorial of anguish and suffering

(John MacDuff, 1818—1895)

"Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering
thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand.
They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders.
In a loud voice they sang—Worthy is the Lamb who was
, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!" Revelation 5:11-12

What an anthem is this! No harp is unstrung, no voice
silent. One strain thrills on every tongue—"Worthy is
the Lamb who was slain!" What an attestation to . . .
  God's immaculate holiness,
  His burning purity,
  His unimpeachable rectitude,
  His boundless mercy!

In Heaven, there shall still be one everlasting memorial
of anguish and suffering
—in a place where pain never
enters and suffering is unknown!

Accordingly, when the Redeemer puts the coronation anthem
into the lips of His worshipers, He reveals Himself, not in the
glories of Godhead—but as a slain Lamb, wearing the marks of
humiliation. He tells them to make Calvary still their meditation,
and His Cross and Passion the great center of eternity. The print
of the nails in His hands, and the spear-mark in His side, are not
the mementos of shame but of victory—remembrancers of a love
whose depths the ages cannot fathom! The vision of the text thus
becomes the mightiest of preachers, replete to the multitudes
above, with the story of grace. There is a tongue in every wound
of the glorified Sufferer—silently but expressively proclaiming the
great love that He had for us!

As the slain Lamb, Jesus proclaims that the same heart which
throbbed in anguish on the Cross—still beats on the Throne;
that He is still the Almighty Friend. Precious assurance! Jesus
unchanged and unchangeable! This same Jesus, who mingled
His tears with the widow at the gate of Nain; who wept over
the memory of a cherished friendship, and was melted in a
flood of tenderest compassion over an apostate land; this
same Jesus, who breathed balm-words of comfort on the very
eve of His own agony, and in the midst of it welcomed a dying
felon to Paradise—is now, with a heart of unaltered love and
sympathy—wielding the scepter of universal empire!