He can crawl like a serpent,
and he can roar like a lion!

"So that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are
 very familiar with his evil schemes." 2 Cor. 2:11

Satan well knows both how to allure and how to
attack; for he can crawl like a serpent, and he
can roar like a lion!
He has snares whereby he
entangles, and fiery darts whereby he impales.

Most men are easily led captive by him at his will,
ensnared without the least difficulty in the traps
that he lays for their feet; for they are as ready
to be caught as he is to catch them! Why would
Satan need to roar against them as a lion, if he
can wind himself around them and bite them as
a serpent?

If you want to see what sin really is

To cast the sinning angels out of heaven;
to banish Adam from Paradise;
to destroy the old world by a flood;
to burn Sodom and Gomorrah with fire from heaven–
these examples of God's displeasure against sin were
not sufficient to express His condemnation of it. He
would therefore take another way of making it manifest.

And what was this?

By sending His own Son out of His bosom, and offering
Him as a sacrifice for sin upon the tree at Calvary, He
would make it manifest how He abhorred sin, and how
His righteous character must forever condemn it.

See here the love of God to poor guilty man in not
sparing His own Son; and yet the hatred of God against
sin, in condemning it in the death of Jesus.

It is almost as if God said, "If you want to see what
sin really is
, you cannot see it in the depths of hell. I
will show you sin in blacker colors still– you shall see
it in the sufferings of My dear Son; in His agonies of
body and soul; and in what He as a holy, innocent
Lamb endured under My wrath, when He consented
to take the sinner's place."

What wondrous wisdom,
what depths of love,
what treasures of mercy,
what heights of grace
were thus revealed and brought to light in God's
unsparing condemnation of sin, and yet in His
full and free pardon of the sinner!

If you have ever had a view by faith of the suffering
Son of God in the garden and upon the cross; if you
have ever seen the wrath of God due to you, falling
upon the head of the God-Man; and viewed a bleeding,
agonizing Immanuel; then you have seen and felt in
the depths of your conscience what a dreadful thing
sin is. 
Then the broken-hearted child of God looks
unto Him whom he has pierced, and mourns and grieves
bitterly for Him, as for a firstborn son who has died.

Under this sight he feels what a dreadful thing sin is.

"Oh," he says, "did God afflict His dear Son? Did
Jesus, the darling of God, endure all these sufferings
and sorrows to save my soul from the bottomless pit?
O, can I ever hate sin enough? Can I ever grieve and
mourn over it enough? Can my stony heart ever be
dissolved into contrition enough, when by faith I see
the agonies, and hear the groans of the suffering,
bleeding Lamb of God?"

Christians hate their sins. They hate that sinful, that
dreadfully sinful flesh of theirs which has so often,
which has so continually, betrayed them into sin.
And thus they join with God in passing condemnation
upon the whole of their flesh; upon all its actings and
workings; upon all its thoughts and words and deeds;
and hate it as the prolific parent of that sin which
crucified Christ, and torments and plagues them.

The hard-hearted, cold-blooded,
wise-headed professor

We are surrounded with snares.

Temptations lie spread every moment in our path.

These snares and these temptations are so suitable
to the lusts of our flesh, that we would certainly fall
into them, and be overcome by them, but for the
restraining providence or the preserving grace of God.
The Christian sees this; the Christian feels this.

The hard-hearted, cold-blooded, wise-headed
sees no snares. He is entangled in
them, he falls by them, and not repenting of his
sins or forsaking them, he makes utter shipwreck
concerning the faith.

The child of God . . .
  sees the snare,
  feels the temptation,
  knows the evil of his heart,
and is conscious that if God does not
hold him up, he shall stumble and fall.

As then a burnt child dreads the fire, so he
dreads the consequence of being left for a
moment to himself; and the more is he
afraid that he shall fall.

If his eyes are more widely opened to see . . .
  the purity of God,
  the blessedness of Christ,
  the efficacy of atoning blood,
  and the beauties of holiness,
the more also does he see the evil of sin, the dreadful
consequences of being entangled therein. And not only
so, but his own helplessness and weakness and inability
to stand against temptation in his own strength.

And all these feelings combine to raise up a more
earnest cry, "Hold me up, and I shall be safe!"

A stable, a hovel, a hedge, any unadorned corner

This is what the Sovereign Lord says: "Although
I sent them far away among the nations and
scattered them among the countries, yet I will
be to them as a little sanctuary
in the countries
where they have gone." Ezekiel 11:16

Every place in which the Lord manifests Himself,
is a sanctuary to a child of God.

Jesus is now our sanctuary, for He is "the true
place of worship that was built by the Lord and
not by human hands." We see the power and
glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ.

Every place is a sanctuary, where God manifests
Himself in power and glory to the soul. Moses,
doubtless, had often passed by the bush which
grew in Horeb; it was but a common thorn bush,
in no way distinguished from the other bushes
of the thicket. But on one solemn occasion it was
all "in a flame of fire," for "the angel of the Lord
appeared unto him in a flame of fire" out of the
midst; and though it burned with fire, it was not
consumed. God being in the bush, the ground
round about was holy, and Moses was bidden to
take off his shoes from his feet. Was not this
a sanctuary to Moses? It was, for a holy God was
there! Thus wherever God manifests Himself,
that becomes a sanctuary to a believing soul.

We don't need places made holy by the ceremonies
of man; but places made holy by the presence of

Then a stable, a hovel, a hedge, any unadorned
may be, and is a sanctuary, when God fills
your heart with His sacred presence, and causes
every holy feeling and gracious affection to spring
up in your soul.

Poor, miserable, paltry works of a polluted worm!

"We are all infected and impure with sin. When we
 proudly display our righteous deeds, we find they
 are but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither
 and fall. And our sins, like the wind, sweep us away."
        Isaiah 64:6

We once thought that we could gain heaven by
our own righteousness. We strictly attended to
our religious duties, and sought by these and
various other means to recommend ourselves
to the favor of God, and induce Him to reward
us with heaven for our sincere attempts to obey
His commandments.

And by these religious performances we thought we
would surely be able to make a ladder whereby we
could climb up to heaven. This was our tower of
, whose top was to reach unto heaven, and
by mounting which, we thought to scale the stars.

But the same Lord who stopped the further building
of the tower of Babel, by confounding their speech
and scattering them abroad on the face of the earth;
began to confound our speech, so that we could not
pray, or talk, or boast as before; and to scatter all
our religion like the chaff
of the threshing floor. Our
mouths were stopped; we became guilty before God;
and our bricks and mortar became a pile of confusion!

When, then, the Lord was pleased to discover to our
souls by faith, His being, majesty, greatness, holiness,
and purity; and thus gave us a corresponding sense of
our filthiness and folly; then all our creature religion
and natural piety
which we once counted as gain, we
began to see was but loss; that our very religious duties
and observances, so far from being for us, were actually
against us; and instead of pleading for us before God as
so many deeds of righteousness, were so polluted and
defiled by sin perpetually mixed with them, that our
very prayers were enough to sink us into hell
, had
we no other iniquities to answer for in heart, lip or life.

But when we had a view by faith of the Person, work,
love, and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, then we began
more plainly and clearly to see, with what religious toys
we had been so long amusing ourselves
, and what is
far worse, mocking God by them.

We had been secretly despising . . .
  Jesus and His sufferings,
  Jesus and His death,
  Jesus and His righteousness,
and setting up the poor, miserable, paltry
works of a polluted worm
in the place of
the finished work of the Son of God.

Mere toys and baubles

True religion must be everything or nothing with us.
In religion, indifference is ruin; neglect is destruction.

Of all losses, the loss of the soul is the only one that
is utterly irreparable and irremediable. You may lose
property, but you may recover the whole or a portion
of it; you may lose health, but you may be restored
to a larger measure of bodily strength than before
your illness; you may lose friends, but you may obtain
new ones, and those more sincere and valuable than
any whom you have lost. But if you lose your soul,
what is to make up for that loss?

Do you ever feel what a tremendous stake heaven
or hell is? Have you ever felt that to gain heaven is
to gain everything that can make the soul eternally
happy; and to lose heaven is not only to lose
eternal bliss, but to sink down into . . .
  unutterable woe?

It is this believing sight and pressing sense of eternal
things; it is this weighty, at times overpowering, feeling
that they carry in their bosom an immortal soul, which
often makes the children of God view the things of
time and sense as . . .

  mere toys and baubles,
  trifles lighter than vanity,
  and pursuits empty as air,
and gives them to feel that the things of eternity
are the only solid, enduring realities.

Heavenly dew

"My words descend like dew."  Deuteronomy 32:2

The dew falls imperceptibly. No man can see it fall.
Yet its effects are visible in the morning. So it is with
the blessing of God upon His Word. It penetrates the
heart without noise; it sinks deep into the conscience
without anything visible going on. And as the dew
opens the pores of the earth and refreshes the ground
after the heat of a burning day, making vegetation lift
up its drooping head, so it is with the blessing of God
resting upon the soul.

Heavenly dew comes imperceptibly, falls quietly, and is
manifested chiefly by its effects, as softening, opening,
penetrating, and secretly causing every grace of the Spirit
to lift up its drooping head.

Whenever the Lord may have been pleased to bless our
souls, either in hearing, in reading, or in private meditation,
have not these been some of the effects? Silent, quiet,
imperceptible, yet producing an evident impression . . .
  softening the heart when hard,
  refreshing it when dry,
  melting it when obdurate,
  secretly keeping the soul alive, so that it is neither withers
up by the burning sun of temptation, nor dies for lack of grace.

"May God give you the dew of heaven." Genesis 27:28

Coming up from the wilderness

"Who is this coming up from the wilderness,
 leaning upon her Beloved?
" Song of Solomon 8:5

To come up from the wilderness, is to come up out
of OURSELVES; for we are ourselves the wilderness.
It is our wilderness heart that makes the world
what it is to us . . .
  our own barren frames;
  our own bewildered minds;
  our own worthlessness and inability;
  our own lack of spiritual fruitfulness;
  our own trials, temptations, and exercises;
  our own hungering and thirsting after righteousness.

In a word, it is what passes in our own bosom
that makes the world to us a dreary desert.

Carnal people find the world no wilderness. It is an
Eden to them! Or at least they try hard to make it so.
They seek all their pleasure from, and build all their
happiness upon it. Nor do they dream of any other
harvest of joy and delight, but what may be repaid
in this 'happy valley', where youth, health, and good
spirits are ever imagining new scenes of gratification.

But the child of grace, exercised with a thousand
difficulties, passing through many temporal and
spiritual sorrows, and inwardly grieved with his own
lack of heavenly fruitfulness, finds the wilderness

But he still comes up out of it, and this he does
by looking upward with believing eyes to Him who
alone can bring him out.

He comes up out of his own righteousness, and
shelters himself under Christ's righteousness.

He comes up out of his own strength,
and trusts to Christ's strength.

He comes up out of his own wisdom,
and hangs upon Jesus' wisdom.

He comes up out of his own tempted, tried,
bewildered, and perplexed condition, to find rest
and peace in the finished work of the Son of God.

And thus he comes up out of the wilderness of
, not actually, but experimentally. Every desire
of his soul to be delivered from his 'wilderness
sickening sight' that he has of sin and of himself
as a sinner. Every aspiration after Jesus, every
longing look, earnest sigh, piteous cry, or laboring
groan, all are a coming up from the wilderness.

His turning his back upon an ungodly world; renouncing
its pleasures, its honors, its pride, and its ambition;
seeking communion with Jesus as his chief delight;
and accounting all things but loss and rubbish for
the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus his Lord
as revealed to his soul by the power of God; this,
also, is coming up from the wilderness.

When we gaze upon the lifeless corpse

From the cradle to the coffin, affliction and sorrow are
the appointed lot of man.
He comes into the world with
a wailing cry, and he often leaves it with an agonizing
groan! Rightly is this earth called "a valley of tears," for
it is wet with them in infancy, youth, manhood, and old
age. In every land, in every climate, scenes of misery
and wretchedness everywhere meet the eye, besides
those deeper griefs and heart-rending sorrows which lie
concealed from all observation. So that we may well say
of the life of man that, like Ezekiel's scroll, it is "written
with lamentations, and mourning and woe."

But this is not all. The scene does not end here!

We see up to death, but we do not see beyond death.

To see a man die without Christ is like standing
at a distance, and seeing a man fall from a lofty
cliff—we see him fall, but we do not see the crash
on the rocks below.

So we see an unsaved man die, but when we gaze
upon the lifeless corpse
, we do not see how his soul
falls with a mighty crash upon the rock of God's eternal
justice! When his temporal trials come to a close, his
eternal sorrows only begin!
After weeks or months of
sickness and pain, the pale, cold face may lie in calm
repose under the coffin lid; when the soul is only just
entering upon an eternity of woe!

But is it all thus dark and gloomy both in life and death?
Is heaven always hung with a canopy of black? Are there
no beams of light, no rays of gladness, that shine through
these dark clouds of affliction, misery, and woe that are
spread over the human race?

Yes! there is one point in this dark scene out of which
beams of light and rays of glory shine! "God did not
appoint us to suffer wrath, but to receive salvation
through our Lord Jesus Christ."  1 Thessalonians 5:9

There, on the other side, is my solitary soul

"For what is a man profited, if he shall gains the
 whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what can
 a man give in exchange for his soul?" Mt. 16:26

Here is my scale of profit and loss.

I have a soul to be saved or lost.

What then shall I give in exchange for my soul?

What am I profited if I gain the
whole world and lose my soul?

This deep conviction of a soul to be saved
or lost lies at the root of all our religion.

Here, on one side, is the WORLD and all . . .
  its profits
  its pleasures,
  its charms,
  its smiles,
  its winning ways,
  its comforts,
  its luxuries,
  its honors,
to gain which is the grand struggle of human life.

There, on the other side, is my solitary SOUL,
to live after death, forever and ever, when the
world and all its pleasures and profits will sink
under the wrath of the Almighty.

And this dear soul of mine, my very self, my
only self, my all, must be lost or saved.

Even your own relatives think you are almost insane

"The Spirit of truth. The world cannot receive Him,
 because it neither sees Him nor knows Him."
    John 14:17

The world—that is, the world dead in sin, and the
world dead in profession—men destitute of the life
and power of God—must have something that it can
see. And, as heavenly things can only be seen by
heavenly eyes, they cannot receive the things which
are invisible.

Now this explains why a religion that presents itself
with a degree of beauty and grandeur to the natural
eye will always be received by the world
; while a . . .
  heartfelt and
religion will always be rejected.

The world can receive a religion that consists of . . .
  rites, and

These are things seen.

Beautiful buildings,
painted windows,
pealing organs,
melodious choirs,
the pomp and parade of an earthly priesthood,
and a whole apparatus of 'religious ceremony',
carry with them something that the natural eye can
see and admire. The world receives all this 'external
religion' because it is suitable to the natural mind
and intelligible to the reasoning faculties.

But the . . .
  divine religion,
which presents no attractions to the outward eye, but
is wrought in the heart by a divine operation—the world
cannot receive this—because it presents nothing that
the natural eye can rest upon with pleasure, or is
adapted to gratify their general idea of what religion
is or should be.

Do not marvel, then, that worldly professors despise a
religion wrought in the soul by the power of God. Do not
be surprised if even your own relatives think you are
almost insane
, when you speak of the consolations of
the Spirit, or of the teachings of God in your soul. They
cannot receive these things, for they have no experience
of them; and being such as are altogether opposed to
the carnal mind, they reject them with enmity and scorn.

Make straight paths for your feet.

"Make straight paths for your feet." Hebrews 12:13

Surrounded as we are with a crooked generation,
professing and profane, whose ways we are but too
apt to learn; beset on every hand by temptations . . .
  to turn aside into some crooked path,
  to feed our pride,
  to indulge our lusts,
  to gratify our covetousness;
blinded and seduced sometimes by the god of this world;
hardened at other times by the deceitfulness of sin; here
misled by the example, and there bewitched by the flattery
of some friend or companion; at one time confused and
bewildered in our judgment of right and wrong; at another
time entangled, half resisting, half complying, in some
snare of the wicked one; what a struggle have some of us
had to make straight paths for our feet; and what pain
and grief that we should ever have made crooked ones.

"But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
 I had nearly lost my foothold." Psalm 73:2

When I said, "My foot is slipping," Your love,
O Lord, supported me. Psalm 94:18

"He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the
 mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and
 gave me a firm place to stand." Psalm 40:2

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

"I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead
 you along straight paths
." Proverbs 4:11

Have nothing to do with them.

"They mingled among the pagans and adopted
 their evil customs. They worshiped their idols,
 and this led to their downfall." Ps. 106:35-36

The 'carnal professors' of the day see nothing
wrong, nothing amiss, nothing inconsistent in
their conduct or spirit, though they are sunk in . . .
  carnality, or

But where there is divine life, where the blessed
Spirit moves upon the heart with His sacred
operations and secret influences, there will be
light to see, and a conscience to feel, what is . . .
  and improper.

It its but too evident that we cannot be mixed up
with the professors of the day without drinking, in
some measure, into their spirit and being more or
less influenced by their example.

We can scarcely escape the influence of those with
whom we come much and frequently into contact.
If they are dead, they will often benumb us with
their corpse-like coldness. If they are light and
, they will often entangle us in their carnal
levity. If they are worldly and covetous, they
may afford us a shelter and an excuse for our
own worldliness and covetousness.

Abhor that loose profession, that ready
compliance with everything which feeds the . . .
  and lusts of our depraved nature,
which so stamps the present day with some
of its most perilous and dreadful characters.

"Having a form of godliness but denying its power.
 Have nothing to do with them." 2 Timothy 3:5

The foulest filth under the cleanest cloak

"Take heed unto yourselves!" Acts 20:28

There are few Christians who have not ever found
SELF to be their greatest enemy. The pride, unbelief,
hardness, and impenitence of a man's own heart; the
deceitfulness, hypocrisy, and wickedness of his own
fallen nature; the lusts and passions, filth and folly of
his own carnal mind; will not only ever be his greatest
, but will ever prove his most dreaded foe!

Enemies we shall have from outside, and we may
at times keenly feel their bitter speeches and cruel
words and actions. But no enemy can injure us like
In five minutes a man may do himself
more real harm, than all his enemies united could
do to injure him in fifty years!

To yourself you can be the most insidious
and the greatest foe!

In all its forms, SELF in its inmost
spirit is still a . . .
  proud, and
; masking its real character in a
thousand ways, and concealing its destructive
designs by countless devices.

We have but to look on the professing church to find . . .
  the highest pride under the lowest humility,
  the greatest ignorance under the vainest self-conceit,
  the basest treachery under the warmest profession,
  the vilest sensuality under the most heavenly piety,
  and the foulest filth under the cleanest cloak.

"Take heed unto yourselves!" Acts 20:28

Familiarity with sacred things

"Take heed unto yourselves!" Acts 20:28

This was Paul's public warning to the elders of
the church at Ephesus. It was Paul's private
warning to his friend and disciple, his beloved
son, Timothy. And do not all who write or speak
in the name of the Lord need the same warning?

Familiarity with sacred things has a natural
tendency to harden the conscience, where
grace does not soften and make it tender.

Men may preach and pray until both become a
mere mechanical habit; and they may talk about
Christ and His sufferings until they feel as little
touched by them as a 'tragic actor' on the stage,
of the sorrows which he impersonates.

Well, then, may the Holy Spirit sound this note of
warning, as with trumpet voice, in the ears of the
servants of Christ. "Take heed unto yourselves!"

Pride, self-conceit, and self-exaltation

Pride, self-conceit, and self-exaltation, are both
the chief temptations, and the main besetting sins,
of those who occupy any public position in the church.

Therefore, where these sins are not mortified by the
Spirit, and subdued by His grace; instead of being, as
they should be, the humblest of men; they are, with
rare exceptions, the proudest.

Did we bear in constant remembrance our slips, falls,
and grievous backslidings; and had we, with all this,
a believing sight of the holiness and purity of God,
of the sufferings and sorrows of His dear Son, and
what it cost Him to redeem us from the lowest hell;
we would be, we must be clothed with humility; and
would, under feelings of the deepest self-abasement,
take the lowest place among the family of God, as
the chief of sinners, and less than the least of all
the saints.

This should be the feeling of every child of God.

Until this pride is in some measure crucified,
until we hate it, and hate ourselves for it, the
glory of God will not be our main object.

What? Will He forgive us all sins?

"He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins,
 and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
     1 John 1:9

What? Will He forgive us all sins?

Every sin that we have committed?

Do we not sin with every breath that we draw?

Is not every lustful desire sin?
And is not every proud thought sin?
And is not every wicked imagination sin?
And is not every unkind suspicion sin?
Every act of unbelief sin?
And every working of a depraved nature sin?

We committed sin when we sucked our mother's
breast! We committed sin as soon as we were
able to stammer out a word. And as we grew in
body, we grew in sinfulness.

Will He forgive . . .
  sins of thought,
  sins of look,
  sins of action,
  sins of omission,
  sins of commission,
  sins in infancy,
  sins in childhood,
  sins in youth,
  sins in old age?

Will He forgive . . .
  all the base lusts,
  all the filthy workings,
  all the vile actions,
  all the pride,
  all the hypocrisy,
  all the covetousness,
  all the envy, hatred, and malice,
  all the aboundings of inward iniquity?

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

This sacred anointing

"But you have an anointing from the Holy One."
    1 John 2:20

Wherever the anointing of the Holy One touches
a man's heart it spreads itself, widening and
extending its operations. It thus communicates
divine gifts and graces wherever it comes. It . . .
  bestows and draws out faith,
  gives repentance and godly sorrow,
  causes secret self-loathing, and
  separation from the world,
  draws the affections upwards,
  makes sin hated, and
  Jesus and His salvation loved.

Wherever the anointing of the Holy Spirit touches
a man's heart it diffuses itself through his whole
soul, and makes him wholly a new creature. It . . .
  gives new motives,
  communicates new feelings,
  enlarges and melts the heart, and
  spiritualizes and draws the affections upwards.

Without this sacred anointing . . .
  all our religion is a bubble,
  all our profession a lie, and
  all our hopes will end in despair.

O what a mercy to have one drop of this heavenly
! To enjoy one heavenly feeling! To taste
the least measure of Christ's love shed abroad in the
heart! What an unspeakable mercy to have one touch,
one glimpse, one glance, one communication out of
the fullness of Him who fills all in all!

By this anointing from the Holy One, the
children of God are supported under . . .
  and sorrows.

By this anointing from the Holy One,
they see the hand of God . . .
  in every chastisement,
  in every providence,
  in every trial,
  in every grief, and
  in every burden.

By this anointing from the Holy One they can
bear chastisement with meekness; and put
their mouth in the dust, humbling themselves
under the mighty hand of God.

Every good word,
every good work,
every gracious thought,
every holy desire,
every spiritual feeling
do we owe to this one thing:
the anointing of the Holy One.

"But you have an anointing from the Holy One."
    1 John 2:20

What makes the children of God so strange?

"To God's elect, strangers in the world." 1 Peter 1:1


What makes the children of God so strange?

The grace of God which calls them out of this wretched
world. Every man who carries the grace of God in his
bosom is necessarily, as regards the world, a stranger
in heart, as well as in profession, and life.

As Abraham was a stranger in the land of Canaan;
as Joseph was a stranger in the palace of Pharaoh;
as Moses was a stranger in the land of Egypt;
as Daniel was a stranger in the court of Babylon;
so every child of God is separated by grace,
to be a stranger in this ungodly world.

And if indeed we are to come out from it and to
be separate, the world must be as much a strange
place to us; for we are strangers to . . .
   its views,
   its thoughts,
   its desires,
   its prospects,
   its anticipations,
in our daily walk,
in our speech,
in our mind,
in our spirit,
in our judgment,
in our affections.

We will be strangers from . . .
  the world's company,
  the world's maxims,
  the world's fashions,
  the world's spirit.

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


By His wounds we are healed

Sin has thoroughly diseased us,
and poisoned our very blood.

Sin has diseased our understanding, so
as to disable it from receiving the truth.

Sin has diseased our conscience, so as to make it
dull and heavy, and undiscerning of right and wrong.

Sin has diseased our imagination, polluting it
with every idle, foolish, and licentious fancy.

Sin has diseased our memory, making it swift to
retain what is evil, slow to retain what is good.

Sin has diseased our affections, perverting
them from all that is heavenly and holy, and
fixing them on all that is earthly and vile.

"But He was pierced for our transgressions, He
 was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment
 that brought us peace was upon Him, and by
 His wounds we are healed
." Isaiah 53:5

Strangle and suffocate it!

"O Israel, you have destroyed yourself!
 But in Me is your help." Hosea 13:9

Is not this a true charge? Does not your conscience
agree with it, as a well founded accusation? Have you
not willingly with your eyes open, run into some sin,
which, but for God's mercy and upholding hand,
would have proved your certain destruction? Have you
not stood upon the very brink of some deep pit, down
into which one more step would have plunged you?

As you realize the evils of your heart, you see what
a marvel it is, that grace is kept alive in your bosom!
You see yourself surrounded on every side with that
which would inevitably destroy it—but for the mighty
power of God!

You look back and wonder how the life of God in your
soul has been preserved so many years. Sometimes you
have been sunk into such carnality. You have felt such
emptiness of all good, and such proneness to all evil,
that you wonder how you have not been swallowed up,
overcome, and carried away into the pit of destruction!

David said, "I am as a wonder to many." But you can
say, "I am a wonder to myself!" The world, the devil,
and your own evil heart, have been for years all aiming
to destroy the precious life of God in your soul—all
stretching out their hands to strangle and suffocate it!

And yet, in His mysterious wisdom, unspeakable grace,
and tender compassion, He has kept the holy principle
alive in your soul.

O, the mystery of redeeming love!

O, the blessedness of preserving grace! We
have been preserved, upheld, and kept by the
power of God through faith unto salvation!

"O Lord, You have kept me alive, that I should
 not go down to the pit!" Psalm 30:3

"He has preserved our lives and kept our
 feet from slipping!" Psalm 66:9

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


They will never perish!

"For God has reserved a priceless inheritance for
 His children. It is kept in heaven for you, pure and
 undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay!
 And God, in His mighty power, will protect you
 until you receive this salvation.
" 1 Peter 1:4-5

The elect are preserved in Christ, BEFORE they are
called by grace. They are kept by the power of
God from perishing in their unregeneracy.

Have not you been almost miraculously preserved in the
midst of dangers, and escaped when others perished by
your side—or been raised up as it were, from the very
brink of destruction and the very borders of the grave?

Besides some striking escapes from what are called
'accidents', three times in my life—once in infancy, once
in boyhood, and once in manhood, I have been raised
up from the borders of the grave, when almost everyone
who surrounded my bed thought I would not survive the
violence of the attack.

Were not these instances of being kept by the power
of God? I could not die until God had manifested His
purposes of electing grace and mercy to my soul.

But the elect are also kept by the mighty power of God
AFTER they are called by grace; for they are in the hollow
of His hand, and are kept as the apple of His eye.

I will not say they are kept from all sins. Yet I will
say that they are kept from damning sins. They are
kept especially from three things . . .
  from the dominion of sin,
  from daring and final presumption,
  from lasting and damnable error.

They are never drowned in the sins and evils of the
present life so as to be swallowed up in them—for
it is impossible that they can ever be lost!

They are therefore preserved in hours of temptation,
for they are guarded by all the power of Omnipotence,
shielded by the unceasing care and watchfulness of
Him who can neither slumber nor sleep.

Looking back through a long vista of years, can you not
see how the hand of God has been with you—how He has
held you up, and brought you through many a storm, and
preserved you under powerful temptations? How gently
He sometimes drew you on, or sometimes kept you back?

"I give them eternal life, and they will never perish!
 No one can snatch them out of My hand!" John 10:28

Having chosen us, God begets us with His word,
regenerates us by a divine influence, and  makes
us new creatures by the power and influence of
the Holy Spirit.


All things!

"You crowned Him with glory and honor and put
 all things under His feet. In putting all things
 under Him, God left nothing that is not subject
 to Him." Hebrews 2:7-8

See the sovereign supremacy of Jesus!

There may be circumstances in your earthly lot
which at this moment are peculiarly trying. You look
around and wonder how this or that circumstance will
terminate. At present it looks very dark—clouds and
mists hang over it, and you fear lest these clouds
may break, not in showers upon your head, but burst
forth in the lightning flash and the thunder stroke!

But all things are put in subjection under Christ's feet!
That which you dread cannot take place except by His
sovereign will—nor can it move any further except by
His supreme disposal. Then make yourself quiet. He will
not allow you to be harmed. That frowning providence
shall only execute His sovereign purposes, and it shall
be among those all things which, according to His
promise, shall work together for your good.

None of our trials come upon us by chance! They are
all appointed in weight and measure—are all designed
to fulfill a certain end. And however painful they may
at present be, yet they are intended for your good.

When the trial comes upon you, what a help it would
be for you if you could view it thus, "This trial is sent for
my good. It does not spring out of the dust. The Lord
Himself is the supreme disposer of it. It is very painful
to bear; but let me believe that He has appointed me
this peculiar trial, along with every other circumstance.
He will bring about His own will therein, and either
remove the trial, or give me patience under it, and
submission to it."

You may be afflicted by sickness. It is not by chance
that such or such sickness visits your body—that the Lord
sees fit to afflict head, heart, chest, liver, hand, foot, or
any other part of your body. All things are put in subjection
under Him, and He has not exempted sickness and disease!
Whatever you suffer in bodily disease, He appoints and
arranges it for your good. Be resigned to His holy and
almighty will.

All your afflictions are put under the feet of Jesus! You may
think at times how harshly you are dealt with—mourning, it
may be, under family bereavements, sorrowing after the loss
of your 'household treasures'—a beloved husband, wife, or
child. But O that you could bear in mind that all your
, be they what they may, are put under the feet
of Jesus, so that, so to speak, not one can crawl from under
His feet but by His permission—and, like scolded hounds, they
crawl again beneath them at a word of command from His lips!

Let us then hold fast this truth, for on it depends so
much of our comfort.


Without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish!

"Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. He did
 this to present her to Himself as a glorious church without
 a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish!
Instead, she will
 be holy and without fault." Ephesians 5:25, 27

What are we ourselves as viewed by our own eyes?
Full of spots, wrinkles, and blemishes! And  What do we
see in ourselves every day, but sin and filth and folly?
What evil is there in the world that is not in us, and in
our hearts? It is true others cannot read our hearts. But
we read them; yes, are every day, and sometimes all the
day reading them. And what do we read there? Like
Ezekiel's scroll, it is "written within and without;" and
we may well add, if we rightly read what is there written,
we have every reason to say it is "full of lamentations,
and mourning, and woe." Ezekiel 2:10

For I am sure that there is nothing that we see there
every day and every hour, but would cover us with
shame and confusion of face, and make us blush to
lift up our eyes before God, or almost to appear in
the presence of our fellow man!

But neither others, nor we ourselves, now see what
the church one day will be, and what she ever was in
the eyes of Jesus! He could look through all the sins
and sorrows of this intermediate period, and fix His
eye upon the bridal day—the day when before
assembled angels, in the courts of heaven, in the
realms of eternal bliss, He would present her to
Himself a glorious church, without  a spot or wrinkle
or any other blemish
, but holy, and without fault.

O what a day will that be, when the Son of God
shall openly wed His espoused bride; when there
shall be heard in heaven, "what sounded like a
great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and
like loud peals of thunder, shouting—Hallelujah!
For our Lord God Almighty reigns! Let us rejoice and
be glad and give Him glory! For the wedding of the
Lamb has come
, and His bride has made herself ready."
    Revelation 19:6-7

Bitten by this serpent's tooth

No man has ever sounded the depths of the fall.

The children of God have indeed discoveries of the
evil of sin. And they have such views at times of
the desperate wickedness and awful depravity of
human nature, that they seem as if filled with
unspeakable horror at the hideous enormity of
the corruption that works in their carnal mind.

But no man has ever seen, as no man ever can see,
in this time-state, what sin is to its full extent, and
as it will be hereafter developed in the depths of hell.

We may indeed in our own experience see something
of its commencement; but we can form little idea of
its progress, and still less of its termination. For sin
has this peculiar feature attending it, that it ever
spreads and spreads until it involves everything
that it touches in utter ruin.

We may compare it in this point of view to the
venom-fang of a serpent. There are serpents of
so venomous a kind, as for instance the Cobra
de Capello, or hooded snake, that the introduction
of the minutest portion of venom from their poison
tooth will in a few hours convert all the fluids of
the body into a mass of putrefaction. A man shall
be in perfect health one hour, and bitten by this
serpent's tooth
shall in the next, be a loathsome
mass of rottenness and corruption. Such is sin.

The introduction of sin into the nature of Adam at
the fall was like the introduction of poison from the
fang of a deadly serpent into the human body. It at
once penetrated into his soul and body, and filled
both with death and corruption.

Or, to use a more scriptural figure, sin may be
compared to the disease of leprosy, which usually
began with a "bright spot," or "rising in the skin",
scarcely perceptible, and yet spread and spread
until it enveloped every member, and the whole
body becoming a mass of putrefying hideous

Or sin may be compared to a cancer, which begins
perhaps with a little lump causing a slight itching,
but goes on feeding upon the part which it attacks,
until the patient dies worn out with pain and suffering.

Now if sin be . . .
  this venom fang,
this spreading leprosy,
this loathsome cancer;
if its destructive power be so great that, unless
arrested and healed, it will destroy body and soul
alike in hell, the remedy for it, if remedy there be,
must be as great as the malady. Thus if there be . . .
  a cure for sin,
  a remedy for the fall,
  a deliverance from the wrath to come,
it must be at least as full and as complete
as the ruin which sin has entailed upon us.

The man who has slight, superficial views and feelings
of sin will have equally slight and superficial views of
the atonement made for sin. The groans of Christ will
never sound in his ears as the dolorous groans of an
agonizing Lord; the sufferings of Christ will never be
opened up to his soul as the sorrows of Immanuel, God
with us; the death of Christ will never be viewed by him,
as the blood shedding of the darling Son of God. While
he has such slight, superficial views of the malady, his
views of the remedy will be equally slight and superficial.

As we are led down into a spiritual knowledge of self
and sin, so we are led up into a gracious knowledge
of the Lord Jesus Christ.

By suffering all the penalties of our sin, Jesus redeems
us from the lowest hell and raises us up to the highest
heaven—empowering poor worms of earth to soar above
the skies and live forever in the presence of Him who
is a consuming fire!

"And she will have a son, and you are to name Him
Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."
    Matthew 1:21


Like a weed upon a dung-heap!

"I hate pride and arrogance!" Proverbs 8:13

Our hearts are desperately proud.

If there is one sin which God hates more than
another, and more sets Himself against, it is
the sin of pride.

Like a weed upon a dung-heap, pride grows
more profusely in some soils, especially when
well fertilized by . . .
  our own ignorance,
  and the ignorance of others.

We all inherit pride from our fallen ancestor
Adam, who got it from Satan, that "king over
all the children of pride."

Those, perhaps, who think they possess the
least pride, and view themselves with wonderful
self-admiration as the humblest of mortals, may
have more pride than those who feel and confess
it. It may only be more deeply hidden in the dark
recesses of their carnal mind.

As God then sees all hearts, and knows every
movement of pride, whether we see it or not,
His purpose is to humble us!

When I look back upon my life, and see . . .
  all my sins,
  all my follies,
  all my slips,
  all my falls,
my conscience testifies of the many things
I have thought, said, and done, which . . .
  grieve my soul,
  make me hang my head before God,
  put my mouth in the dust, and
  confess my sins unto Him.

When I contrast my own exceeding
sinfulness with . . .
  God's greatness,
  God's majesty,
  God's holiness, and
  God's purity . . .
I fall down, humbly and meekly before Him,
I put my mouth in the dust,
I acknowledge I am vile.

"I am nothing but dust and ashes." (Abraham)

"Behold, I am vile!" (Job)

"Woe to me! I am ruined!" (Isaiah)

"I am a sinful man!" (Peter)


He alone can rescue me

"My eyes are always looking to the Lord for
 help, for He alone can rescue me from the
 traps of my enemies." Psalm 25:15

"Oh, please help us against our enemies,
 for all human help is useless." Psalm 60:11

What a mighty God we have to deal with!

And what would suit our case but a mighty God?

Have we not mighty sins?

Have we not mighty trials?

Have we not mighty temptations?

Have we not mighty foes and mighty fears?

And who is to deliver us from all this mighty army,
except the mighty God? It is not a 'little God' (if I may
use the expression) that will do for God's people. They
need a 'mighty God', because they are in circumstances
where none but a mighty God can intervene in their behalf.

And it is well worth our notice that the Lord puts His
people purposely into circumstances where they may
avail themselves, so to speak, of His omnipotent power,
and thus know from living personal experience, that He
is a mighty God, not in mere doctrine and theory, but
a mighty God in their special and particular behalf.

Why, if you did not feelingly and experimentally know . . .
  your mighty sins,
  your mighty trials,
  your mighty temptations,
  your mighty fears,
you would not need a mighty God.

O how this brings together the strength of God and
the weakness of man! How it unites poor helpless
creatures with the Majesty of heaven! How it conveys
to feeble, worthless worms the very might of the
Omnipotent Jehovah!

This sense of . . .
  our weakness and His power,
  our misery and His mercy,
  our ruin and His recovery,
  the aboundings of our sin and
the super-aboundings of His grace;
a feeling sense of these opposite yet harmonious
things, brings us to have personal, experimental
dealings with God. And it is in these personal
dealings with God that the life of all religion consists.

"The Lord hears His people when they call to Him for help.
 He rescues them from all their troubles." Psalm 34:17

The Lord sometimes flogs His children home!

"As chastened, yet not killed." 2 Corinthians 6:9

The Lord does not see fit to lay the same chastisements
upon all His people. He has rods of different sizes and
different descriptions
; though all are felt to be rods
when God brings them upon the back.

The Lord chastises with one hand, and upholds with the
other. In your spiritual experience, you may have passed
under many chastising strokes. And when they fell upon
you, they seemed to come as a killing sentence from God's
lips. You feared your illness might end in death. Under your
bereavement, you felt as if you could never hold up your
head again. You thought your providential losses might
prove to be your earthly ruin. Your family afflictions
seemed to be so heavy, as to be radically incurable.

All these were killing strokes. But though chastened,
you were not killed. You lost no divine life thereby;
but you lost much that pleased the flesh; much that
gratified the creature; much that looked well for
days of prosperity, but would not abide the storm.

But you lost nothing that was for your real good.

If you lost bodily health; you gained spiritual health.

If you lost a dear husband or child; God filled up the
void in your heart by making Christ more precious.

If you had troubles in your family; the Lord made it up
by giving more manifestations of His love and grace.

Your very losses in providence were for your good;
for God either made them up, or what you lost in
providence He doubled in grace.

So that though chastened; you are not killed!

Has anything that has happened to you quenched
or extinguished the life of God in your soul?

As the dross and tin were more separated; has not
the gold shone more brightly? Have you not held
spiritual things with a tighter grasp? When God
chastens His people, it is not to kill them; it is . . .

  to make them partakers of His holiness,
  to revive their drooping graces,
  to make them more sincere, upright and tender in conscience,
  to make them more separate from the world,
  to make them seek more His glory,
  to make them have a more single eye to His praise,
  to make them live more a life of faith.

Here is the blessedness—that when God chastises
His people
, it is not for their injury, but for their profit;
not for their destruction, but for their salvation; not to
treat them with the unkindness of an enemy, but with
the love of a friend!

Look at the afflictions, chastenings and grievous sorrows
that you have passed through. Have they been . . .
  friends to you, or enemies?
  instruments of helping you, or hindrances?
  ladders whereby you have climbed up to heaven,
  or steps whereby you have descended into hell?
  means of taking you nearer to Christ, or means
  of carrying you more into the world?

If you know anything of God's chastening, you will
say, "Every stroke has brought me nearer to God!
He has flogged me home!" As a father will seize
his truant boy out of a horde of other children and
flog him home, so the Lord sometimes flogs His
children home!
Every stroke laid upon their back
brings them a step nearer to their home in the
mansions above!

In your own experience, you know that God's
chastenings have not killed you
. But rather they
have been the means of reviving and keeping
alive the work of grace upon your heart!

"As chastened, yet not killed." 2 Corinthians 6:9

He may talk like an angel, and live like a devil.

There is "a knowledge of the things of God" which a
man may possess without a personal experience of
the new birth—without any divine operation upon his
soul whatever, or any participation of the grace of God.

>From reading the scriptures and hearing the Gospel
preached, many attain to a carnal, intellectual,
barren head knowledge of the truth;
who, as to
any experimental, vital, saving acquaintance
with it, are still in the very gall of bitterness and
the bond of iniquity.

A man may have the 'knowledge of an apostle'
and the 'worldliness of a Demas'.

He may be clear in head, and rotten in heart.

He may talk like an angel, and live like a devil.

He may understand all mysteries and all knowledge,
and be nothing but a hypocrite and an impostor.

In our day such characters abound in the churches.

But distinct from this "head knowledge", as distinct
from it as heaven from hell, there is a most blessed
"spiritual knowledge" of the things of God, with
which the people of God are favored.

"Then He opened their minds so they could
 understand the Scriptures." Luke 24:45


This idol-making, idol-loving world

'You have seen what I did to the Egyptians.
 You know how I brought you to Myself and
 carried you on eagle's wings." Exodus 19:4

The idea here, is of snatching His people out of
Egypt as an eagle would snatch her young away
from the hands of the spoiler of her nest, and bear
them away and aloft on her outstretched wings.

Deliverance . . .
  from idolatry,
  from bondage,
  from a state of degradation and abject slavery,
is the leading idea of bringing His people out of Egypt.

So, spiritually, the Lord bears us out of a worse Egypt, by
His Almighty power. Has He given you some deliverance
from the world and the spirit of it, and brought you to
Himself by the power of His grace? Has He carried you
up out of sin . . .
  its open commission,
  its secret practice,
  its inward indulgence,
and broken in some measure the love and the power of it?

Has He carried you not only out of the grosser iniquities of
Egypt, but its more 'refined and acceptable sins', such as . . .
  creature idolatry,
  religious lip-service,
  self-righteousness, and
  mocking God by superstition, tradition, and vain ceremony?

Has He carried you, as on eagles' wings, out of all
the idols of Egypt? For Egypt was a land teeming
with idolatry, and therefore an apt emblem of this
idol-making, idol-loving world

"I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of
 Egypt, so that you would no longer be slaves to
 the Egyptians." Leviticus 26:13

"Praise be to the Lord, for He has saved you from
 the Egyptians and from Pharaoh. He has rescued
 His people from the power of Egypt!" Exodus 18:10


Accomplished actors

"The pulpit has its accomplished
actors, as well as the playhouse!"

He has given me a cup of deep sorrow to drink

"He has filled me with bitterness. He has given me
 a cup of deep sorrow to drink
." Lamentations 3:15

The Lord's people have many hard lessons which they
have to learn in the 'school of Christ'. Each one has to
carry a daily cross
, and are burdened and pressed down
under its weight. This daily cross may and does differ in
individuals. But every child of God has his own cross,
which laid upon his shoulders by an invincible hand, he
has, for the most part, to carry down to the very grave.

Thus, some of God's people are afflicted in body from
the very time the Lord begins His work of grace upon
their heart. Or if exempt from disease, are shattered
in nerve, depressed in spirits, and weighed down by
lassitude and languor, often harder to bear than
disease itself.

Some are tied to ungodly partners, meeting
with opposition and persecution at every step.

Others have nothing but trouble in their family,
either from the invasion of death into their circle,
or what sometimes is worse than death—disgrace,
shame, and ungodliness.

Others have little else but one continual series
of losses and crosses in their circumstances,
wave after wave rolling over their heads.

O, view the family of God toiling homeward . . .
  some dragging along an afflicted body;
  others a wounded spirit;
  others carrying upon their shoulders dying children;
  others with scarcely a rag to their back or a crust in their hand;
  fearful in heart,
  trembling at a rustling leaf,
  a deep river to pass, and
  a furious enemy in sight.

"Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there
 are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop
 fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though
 the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty,
 yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of
 my salvation. The Sovereign Lord is my strength!"
     Habakkuk 3:17-19

Were we left wholly in its hands!

"No temptation has seized you except what
 is common to man." 1 Cor. 10:13

There is not a single sin ever perpetrated by man
which does not lie deeply hidden in the recesses of
our fallen nature! But these sins do not stir into
activity until temptation draws them forth.

Temptation is to the corruptions of the heart, what
fire is to stubble. Sin lies quiet in our carnal mind
until temptation comes to set it on fire.

Temptation is to our corrupt nature, what the spark
is to gunpowder. Have you not found this sad truth:
how easily by temptation are the corruptions of our
wretched heart set on fire, and burst into every kind
of daring and dreadful iniquity?

In temptation, we learn what sin is . . .
  its dreadful nature,
  its aggravated character,
  its fearful workings,
  its mad, its desperate upheavings against God,
  and what we are or would be,
were we left wholly in its hands!

"Watch and pray so that you will not fall into
 temptation."  Matthew 26:41

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

Romantic dreams of pleasure and earthly joy?

"The things on earth will be shaken, so that only
 eternal things will be left." Hebrews 12:27

Man is always seeking happiness in some shape or
other, in the things of this world.
He does not see or
feel that outside of God, happiness is impossible; and
that to seek it in 'the creature' is to add sin to sin. But
look at this vain attempt in a variety of instances.

Look at people young in life. What romantic prospects
dance before their eyes! "What dreams of love and home
by flowery streams!" But what a rude shock do these 'dreams
of earthly happiness' usually experience! This is true of most,
if not all, who build their hopes of happiness on 'the creature'.
But particularly so in the case of the family of God. How
jealous is He of all such schemes of earthly bliss—and how,
sooner or later, He shatters them all by His mighty hand!

Look, for instance, at health, that indispensable element of
all earthly happiness! What a rude shock many of the dear
family of God have experienced in their earthly tabernacle,
even in their youthful days, by accident or disease, so as to
mar all earthly happiness almost before the race of life was

Look again at wedded happiness—that "perpetual fountain
of domestic sweets"—how bitter a drop often falls from the
hands of God into that honeyed cup! Why does that mourning
widow sigh? Why does her heart swell, and her eye run over?
What does that scalding drop on her cheek mean?

How many a blooming daughter has faded away in consumption
before a mother's eye! How many a fine strong son has been
cut down by an accident—or sudden illness has borne him away
to the cold grave, in the very pride and prospect of life!

But apart from these elements of shattered and broken
creature happiness, what disappointment, what vexation,
what sorrow and care we find in everything we put our
hands to! Even with health and home unbroken, wife and
child untouched by death's cold hand, there is sin and
misery enough in a man's own bosom
to fill his heart
with continual sorrow!

Thus wisely and mercifully, all our attempts to grasp
earthly happiness
fail and come to nothing.

Child of grace, do not murmur at the hand of the Lord which
has broken your 'dreams of creature happiness'. God does not
intend that you should have your heaven here on earth, nor
live after the fashion of this world. It is a kind hand, though a
rough one
, which blasts all your schemes of creature happiness,
which breaks your body into pieces with sickness, blights all your
prospects of wealth, and fame, and reputation, and ambition,
and pours bitter gall into each honeyed cup.

Why does the Lord brake all your earthly schemes
of human happiness? Why does He blight all . . .
  your prospects,
  your plans of ambition and of success in life,
  your romantic dreams of pleasure and earthly joy?

That they may all be removed out of your hearts' affections;
and give you happiness which shall endure forever and ever!

"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot
 be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God
 acceptably with reverence and awe." Hebrews 12:28

The love of the truth

"They perish because they did not receive the love of
 the truth
, that they might be saved." 2 Thess. 2:10

There is a receiving of 'the truth', and a receiving of
'the love of the truth'. These two things widely differ.

To receive the truth will not necessarily save; for many
who receive the truth, never receive 'the love of the truth'.

Professors by thousands receive the truth into their
judgment, and adopt the plan of salvation as their creed;
but are neither saved nor sanctified thereby. But to receive
'the love of the truth' by Jesus being made sweet and
precious to the soul, is to receive salvation itself.

"Yes, He is very precious to you who believe." 1 Peter 2:7

These "lovers" of ours

"I will run after my lovers and sell myself to
 them for food and drink, for clothing of wool
 and linen, and for olive oil." Hosea 2:5

Here is the opening up of what we are by nature,
what our carnal mind is ever bent upon, what we
do or are capable of doing, except as held back by
the watchful providence and unceasing grace
and goodness of the Lord.

These "lovers" of ours are our old sins and former
lusts which still crave for gratification. To these
sometimes the carnal mind looks back and says,
"Where are my lovers that gave me my food and
drink? Where are those former delights that so
pleased my vile passions, and so gratified my
base desires?"

These lovers, then, are . . .
  the lust of the flesh,
  the lust of the eyes,
  and the pride of life;
all which, unless subdued by sovereign grace,
still work in our depraved nature, and seek to
regain their former sway.

But the Lord, for the most part, mercifully interposes,
nor will He usually let His children do what they gladly
would do; or be what they gladly would be. He says,
"therefore I will block your path with thornbushes; I
will wall you in so that your cannot find your way."
(Hosea 2:6)

The Lord, in His providence or in His grace, prevents
our carnal mind from carrying out its base desires;
hedges up our way with thorns—by which we may
spiritually understand prickings of conscience, stings
of remorse, pangs of penitence—which are so many
thorny and briery hedges that fence up the way of
transgression, and thus prevent our carnal mind from
breaking forth into its old paths, and going after these
former lovers to renew its ungodly alliance with them.

A hedge of thorns being set up by the grace of God,
our soul is unable to break through this strong fence,
because the moment that it seeks to get through it,
or over it, every part of it presents a pricking brier or
a sharp and strong thorn, which wounds and pierces
our conscience.

What infinite mercy, what surpassing grace, are hereby
manifested! Were our conscience not made thus tender
so as to feel the pricking brier, we can hardly tell what
might be the fearful consequence, or into what a miserable
abyss of sin and transgression our soul would fall.

But these lacerating briers produce remorse of soul
before God; for finding, as the Lord speaks, "that
when she runs after her lovers, she won't be able
to catch up with them. She will search for them but
not find them," there comes a longing in her mind
for purer pleasures and holier delights than her
adulterous lovers could give her
. And thus a change
in her feelings is produced, a revolution in her desires.
"Then she will say, I will go back to my Husband as
at first, for then I was better off than now."

The idea is of an adulterous wife contrasting
the innocent enjoyments of her first wedded
love—with the state of misery into which she
had been betrayed by base seducers.

And thus the soul spiritually contrasts its former
enjoyment of the Lord's presence and power—with
its present state of darkness and desertion. "Where,"
she would say, "are my former delights, my first joys,
and the sweetness I had in days now passed, in knowing,
serving, and worshiping the Lord? Ah! He was a kind and
loving husband to me in those days. I will return to Him
if He will graciously permit me, for it was better with me
when I could walk in the light of His countenance, than
since I have been seeking for my lovers, and reaping
nothing but guilt, death, and condemnation."

It is in these storms

"When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone;
 but the righteous stand firm forever." Proverbs 10:25

The very storms through which the believer passes,
will only strengthen him to take a firmer hold of Christ.

As the same wind that blows down the shallow-rooted
tree, only establishes the deep-rooted tree—so the
same storms which uproot the 'shallow professor',
only establish the 'true believer' more firmly in Christ.

Though these storms may shake off some of his 'leaves',
or break off some of the 'rotten boughs' at the end of the
branch, they do not uproot the believer's faith, but rather
strengthen it.

It is in these storms that he learns . . .
  more of his own weakness, and of Christ's strength;
  more of his own misery, and of Christ's mercy;
  more of his own sinfulness, and of superabounding grace;
  more of his own poverty, and of Christ's riches;
  more of his own desert of hell, and of his own title to heaven.

It is in these storms that the same blessed Spirit who
began the work carries it on; and goes on to engrave
the image of Christ in deeper characters upon his heart;
and to teach him more and more experimentally the
truth as it is in Jesus.

"Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy!
 I look to You for protection.
 I will hide beneath the shadow of Your wings
 until this violent storm is past." Psalm 57:1

His secret power and influence

"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent
 Me draws him." John 6:44

"I have loved you, My people, with an  everlasting love.
 With unfailing love I  have drawn you to Myself."
    Jeremiah 31:3

None can really come to Jesus by faith, unless this
drawing power
is put forth.

The Holy Spirit—that gracious and blessed Teacher, acts
upon the soul by His secret power and influence, puts
'cords of love' and 'bands of mercy' around the heart, and
by the attractive influence that He puts forth, draws the
soul to Jesus' feet; and in due time reveals Him as the
chief among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely one.

As the Spirit reveals and manifests these precious
things of Christ to the soul, He raises up a living faith
whereby Jesus is sought unto, looked unto, laid hold of,
and is brought into the heart with a divine power, there
to be enshrined in its warmest and tenderest affections.

All through its Christian pilgrimage, this blessed Spirit
goes on to deepen His work in the soul, and to discover
more and more of the suitability, beauty, and blessedness
of the Lord Jesus, as He draws the soul more and more
unto Him. There is no maintaining of the light, life, and
power of God in our souls, except as we are daily coming
unto Jesus as the living stone, and continually living
upon Him
as the bread of life.

Every kind of sin

"He gave Himself to redeem us from
 every kind of sin."
Titus 2:14

Sins of heart.

Sins of lip.

Sins of life.

There are five things as regards sin, from
which our blessed Lord came to redeem us . . .
  its guilt,
  its filth,
  its power,
  its love,
  its practice.

By His death, He redeemed us from sin's guilt.

By the washing of regeneration,
He delivers us from sin's filth.

By the power of His resurrection,
He liberates us from sin's dominion.

By revealing His beauty,
He frees us from sin's love.

By making the conscience tender in His fear,
He preserves us from sin's practice.

"The blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin."
  1 John 1:7

If your flesh had its full swing?

"The old sinful nature loves to do evil, which is just
 opposite from what the Holy Spirit desires. And the
 Spirit gives us desires that are opposite from what
 the sinful nature desires. These two forces are
 constantly fighting each other, so that you cannot
 do the things that you would do
." Galatians 5:17

At times, we can hardly tell how we are kept from evil.

There is in those who fear God, a spiritual principle
which holds them up, and keeps them back from the
ways of sin and death in which the flesh would walk.
This inner principle of grace and godly fear has, in
thousands of instances, preserved the feet of the saints,
and kept them from doing things that would have . . .
  ruined their reputation,
  blighted their character,
  brought reproach upon the cause of God, and
  the greatest grief and distress into their own conscience!

They cannot do the EVIL things that they would do.

The flesh is always lusting towards evil, but grace
is a counteracting principle to repress and subdue it.
Grace does not wholly overcome the evil lustings of
the flesh, but it can prevent those lustings from being
carried out into open action. For the Spirit fights
against the flesh, and will not let it altogether reign
and rule, nor have its own will and way unchecked.

What a mercy lies couched here! For what would
you be, if your flesh had its full swing?

What evil is there which you would not do?

What crime which you would not commit?

What slip which you would not make?

What open and horrid fall which you would not be
guilty of—unless you were upheld by Almighty
—and the flesh curbed and checked from
running its destructive course?

We can never praise God sufficiently for His restraining
—for what would we be without it?

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


A coward's castle

A pastor has no right to turn the pulpit into a
coward's castle
, and from there attack those
in the congregation, whom he is afraid to meet
face to face privately.

It is cruelly unfair to attack an individual who
cannot defend himself—to hold him up, as if on
the horns of the pulpit, before the congregation,
(who generally know pretty well who is meant),
and to condemn him without hearing his side,
with the pastor being the only judge and jury.