Grace Gems for October 2003

 
What stupid blockheads!

(Joseph Philpot, "Daily Portions")

"Are you still so dull?" Jesus asked them.
    Matthew 15:16

What lessons we need day by day to teach
us anything aright, and how it is for the most
part "line upon line, line upon line; here a
little, and there a little." O . . .
  what slow learners!
  what dull, forgetful scholars!
  what ignoramuses!
  what stupid blockheads!
  what stubborn pupils!

Surely no scholar at a school, old or young,
could learn so little of natural things as we
seem to have learned of spiritual things after . . .
  so many years instruction,
  so many chapters read,
  so many sermons heard,
  so many prayers put up,
  so much talking about religion.

How small, how weak is the amount of
growth compared with all we have read
and heard and talked about!

But it is a mercy that the Lord saves whom
He will save, and that we are saved by free
grace, and free grace alone.

 


Take me as I am with all my sin and shame

(Joseph Philpot, "Daily Portions")

"Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed;
 save me, and I shall be saved." Jer. 17:14

Here is this sin!  Save me from it!

Here is this snare!  Break it to pieces!

Here is this lust!  Lord, subdue it!

Here is this temptation!  Deliver me out of it!

Here is my proud heart!  Lord, humble it!

Here is my unbelieving heart!  Take it away,
and give me faith; give me submission to
Your mind and will

Take me as I am with all my sin and
shame
and work in me everything well
pleasing in Your sight.
 


Nothing but a huge clod of dust

(Joseph Philpot, "Daily Portions")

"Set your affection on things above, not
 on things on the earth." Colossians 3:2

Everything upon earth, as viewed by the eyes
of the Majesty of heaven, is base and paltry.

Earth is after all, nothing but a huge clod of
dust
, and as such, as insignificant in the eyes
of its Maker as the small dust of the balance,
or the drop of the bucket.

What, then, are . . .
  its highest objects,
  its loftiest aims,
  its grandest pursuits,
  its noblest employments,
in the sight of Him who inhabits
eternity; but base and worthless?

Vanity is stamped on all earth's attainments.

All earthly pursuits and high accomplishments . . .
  wealth,
  rank,
  learning,
  power, or
  pleasure,
end in death!

The breath of God's displeasure soon
lays low in the grave all that is rich
and mighty, high and proud.

But that effectual work of grace on the heart,
whereby the chosen vessels of mercy are
delivered from the power of darkness and
translated into the kingdom of God's dear
Son, calls them out of . . .
  those low, groveling pursuits,
  those earthly toys,
  those base and sensual lusts in which other
men seek at once their happiness and their ruin.
 



How can they escape?

(Joseph Philpot, "Daily Portions")

"He will keep the feet of His saints."
    1 Samuel 2:9

The Lord sees His poor scattered pilgrims
traveling through a valley of tears, journeying
through a waste howling wilderness, a path
beset with baits, traps, and snares in every
direction.

How can they escape?

Why, the Lord 'keeps their feet'. He carries them
through every rough place, as a tender parent
carries a little child. When about to fall, He
graciously lays His everlasting arms underneath
them. And when tottering and stumbling, and
their feet ready to slip, He mercifully upholds
them from falling altogether.

But do you think that He has not different ways
for different feet? The God of creation has not
made two flowers, nor two leaves upon a tree
alike; and will He cause all his people to walk
in precisely the same path? No. We have . . .
  each our path,
  each our troubles,
  each our trials,
  each peculiar traps and snares laid for our feet.

And the wisdom of the all wise God is shown by His
eyes being in every place; marking the footsteps of
every pilgrim; suiting His remedies to meet their
individual case and necessity; appearing for them
when nobody else could do them any good; watching
so tenderly over them, as though the eyes of His
affection were bent on one individual; and carefully
noting the goings of each, as though all the powers
of the Godhead were concentrated on that one
person to keep him from harm!

 


The true spiritual Atlas

(John MacDuff, "Memories of Olivet" 1870)

"You shall make His soul an offering for sin."
    Isaiah 53:10

"Now is My soul troubled." John 12:27

Mark, it is SOUL SUFFERING that is the burden of
Jesus' anguish. "Now is my soul troubled" "My soul
is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death.''

That 'cup' was filled to the brim with curses. His
holy soul was like a vast reservoir, into which the
transgressions of every elect child of Adam rushed
from every age, demanding satisfaction.

He was "filled with horror and deep distress"
at the fearful havoc sin had wrought, and at its
dreadful penalty, which He was now bearing.

The wrath of God; the terrible manifestation
of His displeasure at iniquity; was upon Jesus.

He was the true spiritual Atlas, bearing on
His shoulders the sins of a guilty world!

Jesus' sufferings were not calamities; they
were punishment judicially inflicted. There was
an eternity of woe was condensed into them!
Christ was the Sin Bearer, bearing not merely
the punishment of sin, but sin itself.

As we see drop by drop crimsoning the sods
of Gethsemane, we may well exclaim, "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

 


God will meet all your needs

(Joseph Philpot, "A Supply for Every Need" 1843)

"And my God will meet all your needs according
 to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Phil. 4:19

Until we are brought into the depths of poverty,
we shall never know nor value Christ's riches.

If, then, you are a child of God, a poor and
needy soul, a tempted and tried believer in
Christ, "God will meet all your needs."

They may be very great.

It may seem to you, sometimes, as though there
were not upon all the face of the earth such a
wretch as you,
as though there never could be
a child of God in your state . . .
  so dark,
  so stupid,
  so blind and ignorant,
  so proud and worldly,
  so presumptuous and hypocritical,
  so continually backsliding after idols,
  so continually doing things that you
  know are hateful in God's sight.

But whatever your need be, it is not beyond the
reach of divine supply! And the deeper your need,
the more is Jesus glorified in supplying it.

Do not say then, that . . .
  your case is too bad,
  your needs are too many,
  your perplexities too great,
  your temptations too powerful.

No case can be too bad.

No temptations can be too powerful.

No sin can be too black.

No perplexity can be too hard.

No state in which the soul can get, is beyond
the reach of the almighty and compassionate
love, that burns in the breast of the Redeemer!

 


 

That sympathizing, merciful, feeling,
tender, and compassionate heart


(Philpot, "A Compassionate High Priest" 1847)

"For we do not have a High Priest who is unable
 to sympathize with our infirmities." Hebrews 4:15

The child of God, spiritually taught and convinced,
is deeply sensible of his infirmities. Yes, that he is
encompassed with infirmities, that he is nothing else
but infirmities. And therefore the great High Priest
to whom he comes as a burdened sinner, to whom
he has recourse in the depth of his extremity, and
at whose feet he falls overwhelmed with a sense
of his helplessness, sin, misery, and guilt; is so
suitable to him as one able to sympathize with
his infirmities.

We would, if left to our own conceptions, naturally
imagine that Jesus is too holy to look down in
compassion on a filthy, guilty wretch like ourselves.

Surely, surely, He will spurn us from His feet. Surely,
surely, His holy eyes cannot look upon us in our . . .
  blood,
  guilt,
  filth,
  wretchedness,
  misery,
  and shame.
Surely, surely, He cannot bestow . . .
  one heart's thought,
  one moment's sympathy,
  or feel one spark of love
towards those who are so unlike Him.

Nature, sense, and reason would thus argue,
"I must be holy, perfectly holy, for Jesus to love;
I must be pure, perfectly pure, spotless and
sinless, for Jesus to think of.  But . . .
  that I, a sinful, guilty, defiled wretch;
  that I, encompassed with infirmities;
  that I, whose heart is a cage of unclean birds;
  that I, stained and polluted with a thousand iniquities;
that I can have any inheritance in Him, or that He can
have any love or compassion towards me; nature, sense,
reason, and human religion in all its shapes and forms,
revolts from the idea."

It is as though Jesus specially address Himself to the
poor, burdened child of God who feels his infirmities,
who cannot boast of his own wisdom, strength,
righteousness, and consistency; but is all weakness
and helplessness. It seems as if He would address
Himself to the case of such a helpless wretch, and
pour a sweet cordial into his bleeding conscience.

We, the children of God; we, who each knows his own
plague and his own sore; we, who carry about with us
day by day a body of sin and death, that makes us
lament, sigh, and groan; we who know painfully what
it is to be encompassed with infirmities; we, who come
to His feet as being nothing and having nothing but sin
and woe; "we do not have a High Priest who is unable
to sympathize with our infirmities," but One who carries
in His bosom that . . .
  sympathizing,
  merciful,
  feeling,
  tender, and
  compassionate heart.

 



Why are you cast down, O my soul?

(Philpot, "A Believerís Dialogue With His Soul")

"Why are you cast down, O my soul? Why so
 disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for
 I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God."
     Psalm 42:11

Do you forget, O soul, that the way to heaven
is a very strait and narrow path; too narrow for
you to carry your sins in it with you?

God sees it good that you should be cast down.

You were getting very proud, O soul.

The world had gotten hold of your heart.

You were seeking great things for yourself.

You were secretly roving away from the Lord.

You were too much lifted up in SELF.

The Lord has sent you these trials and difficulties
and allowed these temptations to fall upon you,
to bring you down from your state of false security.

There is reason therefore, even to praise God
for being cast down, and for being so disturbed.

How this opens up parts of God's Word which
you never read before with any feeling.

How it gives you sympathy and communion
with the tried and troubled children of God.

How it weans and separates you from dead professors.

How it brings you in heart and affection,
out of the world that lies in wickedness.

And how it engages your thoughts, time after time,
upon the solemn matters of eternity; instead of being
a prey to every idle thought and imagination; and
tossed up and down upon a sea of vanity and folly.

But, above all, when there is a sweet response from
the Lord, and the power of divine things is inwardly
felt, in enabling us to hope in God, and to praise His
blessed name; then we see the benefit of being cast
down and so repeatedly and continually disturbed.

"Why are you cast down, O my soul? Why so
 disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for
 I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God."
     Psalm 42:11


 

Shut up!

(Thomas Reade, "Christian Experience")

They tell the prophets, "Shut up! We don't want
any more of your reports." They say, "Don't tell
us the truth. Tell us nice things. Tell us lies.
Forget all this gloom. We have heard more than
enough about your 'Holy One of Israel.' We are
tired of listening to what He has to say."
    Isaiah 30:10-11

O what a deluge of evil has sin brought upon
the earth!

The heart of man naturally revolts against
the faithful exposure of its enormities.

Our pride fondly shelters itself under
the 'dignity of human nature'.

We cannot bear to be told how wicked
we are, how very far gone, even as far
as possible, from original righteousness.

But the Bible is no flatterer!

It is a faithful mirror, in which we may clearly
see, (if we have eyes to see) our real state,
divested of all paint and covering.

This offends our pride.

We cannot endure the sight!

Therefore we turn away with disgust from
this Holy Book, and consider it our enemy,
because it tells us the truth.

They tell the prophets, "Shut up! We don't want
any more of your reports." They say, "Don't tell
us the truth. Tell us nice things. Tell us lies.
Forget all this gloom. We have heard more than
enough about your 'Holy One of Israel.' We are
tired of listening to what He has to say." 
    Isaiah 30:10-11



Welcome all sickness!

(Henry Law, "Psalms" 1878)

"The Lord nurses them when they are sick
 and eases their pain and discomfort."
    Psalm 41:3

The Lord regards His people with especial love.

But they are not exempt from trouble.

Their heavenward march is through much tribulation.

Sickness often assails their frames.

Languor depresses them.

Weakness detains them to a bed of suffering.

But they are not deserted. No, they now are
encompassed with distinctive mercies. When
heart and flesh appear to fail, the inner man
is renewed with especial strength. Welcome
all sickness
which brings Jesus to the bedside!



Treasure in earthen vessels

(Joseph Philpot, "Daily Portions")

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

Be not surprised if you feel that in yourself
you are but an earthen vessel; if you are made
deeply and daily sensible of your frail body.

Be not surprised . . .
  if your clay house is often tottering;
  if sickness sometimes assails your mortal tabernacle;
  if in your flesh there dwells no good thing;
  if your soul often cleaves to the dust; and
  if you are unable to retain a sweet sense
of God's goodness and love.

Be not surprised nor startled . . .
  at the corruptions of your depraved nature;
  at the depth of sin in your carnal mind;
  at the vile abominations which lurk and work
in your deceitful and desperately wicked heart.

Bear in mind that it is the will of God that this
heavenly treasure which makes you rich for
eternity, should be lodged in an earthen vessel.

We have ever to feel our native weakness, and
that without Christ we can do nothing; that we may
be clothed with humility, and feel ourselves the
chief of sinners, and less than the least of all saints.

We thus learn to prize the heights, breadths,
lengths, and depths of the love of Christ, who
stooped so low to raise us up so high!


 

All the houses in this plague stricken land

(Charles Spurgeon, "Nunc Dimittis" #1014)

To many this world is very sweet, very fair.

But God puts bitters into the cup of His children.

When their nest is soft, He fills it with thorns to
make them long to fly. Alas, that it should be so,
but some of Godís servants seem as if they had
made up their minds to find a rest beneath the
moon. They are moonstruck.

All the houses in this plague stricken land
are worm eaten, and let in the rain and wind!

My soul longs to find a rest among the ivory
palaces of Your land, O Immanuel.




The gate

(by J. C. Ryle)

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is
 the gate and broad is the road that leads
 to destruction, and many enter through it."
     Matthew 7:13

There is a gate which leads to pardon, peace
with God, and heaven. Whoever goes in by that
gate shall be saved. 

Never, surely, was a gate more needed. 

Sin is a vast mountain between man and God.
How shall a man climb over it? 

Sin is a high wall between man and God.
How shall man get through it? 

Sin is a deep gulf between man and God. 
How shall man cross over it? 

God is . . .
  in heaven,
  holy,
  pure,
  spiritual,
  undefiled,
  light without any darkness at all,
  a Being who cannot bear that which
  is evil, or look upon iniquity.

Man is . . .
  a poor fallen worm crawling on earth for a few years,
  sinful,
  corrupt,
  erring,
  defective,
  a being whose imagination is only evil,
  and whose heart is deceitful above all things,
  and desperately wicked. 

How shall man and God be brought together? 
How shall man ever draw near to his Maker
without fear and shame?

Blessed be God, there is a way!

There is a road.

There is a path

There is a door

It is the gate spoken of in the words
of Christ, "the narrow gate."

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is
 the gate and broad is the road that leads to
 destruction, and many enter through it."
     Matthew 7:13



Moving shadows!

(John MacDuff, "Memories of Olivet" 1870)

"Verily every man at his best state is altogether
 vanity
. We are merely moving shadows, and all
 our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up
 wealth for someone else to spend." Ps. 39:5-6

Learn the unsatisfactory nature of all earthly things.

"Altogether vanity."

In one brief hour David's dream had vanished.

It was a pantomime, "moving shadows."

He had been "heaping up riches;" accumulating costly
materials in his palace. They now fell into the hands
of a base unscrupulous guerrilla band.

And was David's case a singular or exceptional one?

Alas! no. Every day makes additional disclosures of
the "moving shadows," and writes the old "sum of
the whole matter," "this also is vanity."

One man has toiled a whole lifetime. The coveted
RICHES have come at last; houses and lands and
equipage and luxury; all is realized. But, it is only
"moving shadows."  Disease unexpectedly supervenes;
he has no health, no heart to enjoy them. The riches
are there, but the zest is gone!

Another has toiled with equal SUCCESS. He had a
beloved child, all worthy of inheriting his wealth;
but, at the hour he least dreamed of, the footfall
of the dread messenger
was heard at the door,
and the object of his fondest anticipations is
borne away to the 'long home'!

What to him now are the long, toiling, fretting
years of the past? His gold is poor base alloy;
that amassed fortune passes to some unknown
or distant relative in whom he feels no interest.

It is again "moving shadows"; the "castle of snow"
which rises in a night and perishes with the morning
sun. "We heap up wealth for someone else to spend."

Yes! there are many broken and sad hearts that
will be ready to subscribe this experience as their
own; who, in the memory of . . .
  frustrated hopes,
  disappointed schemes,
  forfeited friendships,
  sorrowful bereavements,

will tell that the world is not the gay and
gladsome and happy thing many take it for.

Would that, in the midst of this constant experience
of its vanity and unsatisfactoriness; we might adopt
David's words in this Psalm as our habitual motto.
This would . . .
  temper the joys of prosperity,
  reconcile to the bitterness of adversity,
  and keep us mindful that this changeful,
deceitful earth is not our home.


 

All trials,
all temptations,
all strippings,
all emptyings


(Philpot, "The Everliving Intercessor" 1846)

The very trials and afflictions, and the sore
temptations through which God's family pass,
all eventually endear Christ to them.
 

And depend upon it, if you are a child of God,
you will sooner or later, in your travels through
this wilderness, find your need of Jesus as "able
to save to the uttermost."
 

There will be such things in your heart, and such
feelings in your mind, the temptations you will
meet with will be such, that nothing short of a
Savior that is able to save to the uttermost
can save you out of your desperate case and
felt circumstances as utterly lost and helpless.

This a great point to come to. All trials, all
temptations, all strippings, all emptyings

that do not end here are valueless, because
they lead the soul away from God.
 

But the convictions, the trials, the temptations,
the strippings, the emptyings, that bring us to
this spot: that we have nothing, and can do
nothing
, but the Lord alone must do it all; these
have a blessed effect, because they eventually
make Jesus very near and dear unto us.



Listen! He calls you!

(Richard Baxter, "The Saints' Everlasting Rest")

Then the King will say to those on the right,
"Come, you who are blessed by My Father,
 inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from
 the foundation of the world." Matthew 25:34

See how the Judge smiles on you; there is love
in His looks; the titles of Redeemer, Husband,
King, are written in His friendly, shining face.

Listen! He calls you! He invites you to stand
on His right hand. Fear not, for that is where
He sets His sheep.

He takes you by the hand, the door is open,
the kingdom is His and therefore yours. There
is your place before His throne. The Father
receives you as the spouse of His Son, and
bids you welcome. Ever so unworthy, you
must be crowned. This was the purpose of
free redeeming grace, the climax of eternal
love. O blessed grace! O wonderful love!

This is that joy which was purchased by sorrow.

This is that crown which was bought by the cross.

Jesus wept, that now my tears might be wiped away.

He bled, that I might now rejoice.

He was forsaken, that I might have this fellowship.

He then died, that I might now live.

O free mercy, that can exalt so unworthy a sinner!

Free to me, though costly to Christ!


 

You cannot weary nor wear Him out!

(Mary Winslow, "Life in Jesus")

The humble, penitential, minute
confession of sin will . . .
  keep the conscience tender,
  create a watchful spirit within,
  sanctify the heart, and
  draw us closer and closer to the Cross,
and to the Christ of the Cross.

Thus go to Jesus.

He is with you . . .
  in all your concerns,
  in all your trials,
  in all your blessings,
  in all your sorrows and
  in all your joys.

His dear eye is ever upon you for good.

He loved you with an everlasting love, and
with loving kindness drew you to Himself.

Veil no secrets from Him.

Keep an open heart with Christ.

If your love is cold, He will warm it.

If your spirit is depressed, He will raise it.

If your corruptions are strong, He will subdue them.

The oftener you come the more welcome you will be.

You cannot weary nor wear Him out!


 

Mysteries and perplexities

(John MacDuff, "Hospice of the Pilgrim" 1891)

"Your heavenly Father knows that you
 have need of all these things." Matt. 6:32

What a rest is this for weary, burdened wayfarers!

It is the assurance not only of a 'needs be'
in whatever befalls them; but that all are
the appointments of their heavenly Father.

"Your heavenly Father!" With tender care
for the minute and lowly, He . . .
  makes grass to grow for the cattle,
  pencils the flower,
  sculptures the snow wreath,
  watches the sparrows fall,
  and feeds the young ravens.

The unslumbering Shepherd keeps watch and
ward continually, whether under the infinite blue
of day, or under night with its starry galaxies.

Though mysteries and perplexities are on every
side, yet we can rely on the assurance that His are
no arbitrary dealings, swayed by caprice, marked
and misdirected by human blindness and ignorance;
but the dictates of unerring wisdom and of
unchanging everlasting love.


Mark the Savior's words. They are not "My heavenly
Father;" but "your heavenly Father." He would have
each child to know His individual, particular affection
and pity; and, despite baffling providences, to cleave
to the unforgetting love of God.

All which befalls His people is meted out by
One who is too kind to mingle an unnecessary
or superfluous drop in their cup of sorrow.

"This is the resting place, let the weary rest.
 This is the place of repose." Isaiah 28:12
 



False religion

(Horatius Bonar, "False Religion and Its Doom")

"I will lay your corpses in front of your idols and
 scatter your bones around your altars." Ezek. 6:5

There is such a thing as false religion.

It may be earnest and zealous, yet false.

No amount of sincerity or zeal will make
that true, which is in itself false.

False religion is the worship of a false god,
or the false worship of the true God.

We worship the true God untruly when we
give him only half a heart, half a soul.

Do not think that the utterance of some true
words, or the expression of a little sentimental
devotion, is the true worship of the true God.

False religion is useless.
It profits nothing and nobody, either here or hereafter.
It is not acceptable to God.
It will not be counted a substitute for the true.
It does not satisfy the conscience.
It does not make the man happy.
It does not fill the heart.
It does not remove burdens.
It will not stand the fire.
It is but wood, and hay, and stubble.
The judgment will sweep it all away.
It is useless both for time nor eternity,
  both for earth nor heaven. 

It is irksome and unprofitable, only cheating
the poor worshiper into the belief that he has
felt or performed something good and worthy.

God abhors false religion.
It has not one feature that is pleasing to Him.
It is merely external.
It is untrue.
It is against His revelation.
It is dishonoring to Him.
It is self exalting.
It is pure mockery.
It is rottenness and death.
It is a mouthful of words, a handful of dust and ashes.
Therefore God abhors it.

"I will lay your corpses in front of your idols and
 scatter your bones around your altars." Ezek. 6:5

 

Doctrines that relate to common life

(William Law, "A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life")

Our blessed Savior and His Apostles are wholly taken up
in doctrines that relate to common life. They call us to
renounce the world, and differ in every temper and way
of life, from the spirit and the way of the world . . .
  to renounce all its goods,
  to fear none of its evils,
  to reject its joys,
  to live as pilgrims . . .
      in spiritual watching,
      in holy fear, and
      heavenly aspiring after another life;
  to take up our daily cross,
  to deny ourselves,
  to seek the blessedness of poverty of spirit,
  to forsake the pride and vanity of riches,
  to take no anxious thought for the morrow,
  to live in the profoundest state of humility,
  to rejoice in worldly sufferings,
  to reject . . .
      the lust of the flesh,
      the lust of the eyes,
      and the pride of life;
  to bear injuries,
  to forgive and bless our enemies,
  to give up our whole hearts and affections to God,
  and strive to enter through the strait gate into a
      life of eternal glory.

This is the common devotion which our blessed
Savior taught, in order to make it the common life
of all Christians.

If contempt of the world, and heavenly affection are
necessary tempers of Christians; it is necessary that
these tempers appear in the whole course of their
lives, in their manner of using the world.

If we are to be new creatures in Christ, we must show
that we are so, by having new ways of living in the world.
If we are to follow Christ, it must be in our common way
of spending every day. Thus it is in all the virtues and holy
tempers of Christianity; they are not ours unless they be
the virtues and tempers of our ordinary life.
 

 

Easy?

(by Newman Hall)

"He who overcomes will inherit all this, and
 I will be his God and he will be my son." Rev. 21:7

To be a true Christian is not so easy a thing
as some suppose. It is not merely . . .
  true beliefs,
  an evangelical creed,
  a scriptural church,
  a comfortable sermon once or twice a week. 

It is not this which constitutes Christianity.

You who think religion so very easy a thing,
be apprehensive lest, when too late, you find
that you knew not what true religion meant.

Easy? A depraved being to trample upon his
lusts? a proud being to lie prostrate with
humility and self reproach? those who are
"slow of heart, to believe," to receive the
Gospel as little children?

Easy? To "crucify the flesh," "to deny ungodliness,"
"to cut off a right hand, and to pluck out a right eye?"

Easy? To be in the world, and yet not of the world;
to come out from it, not by the seclusion of the
cloister, but by holiness of life; to be diligent in
its duties, yet not absorbed by them; appreciating
its innocent delights, and yet not ensnared by them;
beholding its attractions, and yet rising superior to them?

Easy? To live surrounded by objects which appeal to
the sight, and yet to endure as seeing what is invisible?

Easy? To pray and see no answer to prayer, and still
pray on; to fight this battle, and find fresh foes ever
rising up, yet still to fight on; to be harassed with
doubts and fears, and yet walk on in darkness, though
we see no light, staying ourselves upon God?

Easy? To be preparing for a world we have never
visited, in opposition to so much that is captivating
in a world where we have always dwelt, whose
beauties we have seen, whose music we have
heard, whose pleasures we have experienced?

Easy? To resist that subtle foe who has cast
down so many of the wise and the mighty?

Easy? When Jesus says it is a "strait gate,"
and that if we would enter we must "strive,"
bidding us "take up our cross daily, deny
ourselves, and follow Him?"

Ah! it is no soft flowery meadow, along
which we may languidly stroll; but a rough,
craggy cliff that we must climb.

It is no smooth, placid stream, along which
we may dreamily float, but a tempestuous
ocean we must stem.

It is no easy lolling in a cushioned chariot, that
bears us on without fatigue and peril. If we are
to be saved, we must "overcome."

"He who overcomes will inherit all this, and
 I will be his God and he will be my son." Rev. 21:7 


Don't touch their filthy things!

(Stephen Tyng, "Practical Meditations")

"Therefore, come out from them and separate
yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don't touch
their filthy things
, and I will welcome you." 2 Cor. 6:17

I am to be separated from the sinful world around me.
Separated in actual character and conduct, by the work
of the Holy Spirit in my heart and life. I have come out
from them, for my lot is no longer with them.

I cannot walk in their paths.

I cannot pursue their objects.

I cannot partake of their pleasures.

While they reject the gospel, my heart thankfully
embraces it. While they live without Christ, it is
my desire and delight to live for Him and with Him.
While they are earthly in all their plans and objects,
I am to seek the things which are above. There is
my treasure, and there must be my heart also.

Their opinions, and maxims, and plans are
of no consequence to me. I cannot yield . . .
  to their judgments,
  to their examples, nor
  to their authority.

I cannot find my pleasures in this wilderness world.

I must not run out for the trifling vanities of
the world around me. I must not form a part
of its foolish passing pageant.

 


Redeemed

(Henry Law, "Redemption")

"God bought you with a high price. So you
must honor God with your body." 1 Cor. 6:20

"God purchased you at a high price. Don't
be enslaved by the world." 1 Cor. 7:23

Redeemed ones are no more their own. 

Your time is redeemed; use it as
a consecrated talent in His cause.

Your minds are redeemed; employ them to
learn His truth and, to meditate on His ways.
Thus make them armories of holy weapons.

Your eyes are redeemed; let them not look on
vanity; close them on all sights and books of folly.

Your feet are redeemed; let them trample on
the world, and climb the upward hill of Zion, and
bear you onward in the march of Christian zeal.

Your tongues are redeemed; let them only
sound His praise, and testify to His love, and
call sinners to His cross.

Your hearts are redeemed; let them love
Him wholly, and have no seat for rivals.

"For you know that it was not with perishable
 things such as silver or gold that you were
 redeemed from the empty way of life handed
 down to you from your forefathers, but with
 the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without
 blemish or defect." 1 Peter 1:18-19
 


I was a poor, lost creature

(Stephen Tyng, "Practical Meditations")

Of all the blessings which I have received,
surely the most inestimable is the gift of
Divine redemption. I have been purchased
by the death of Christ! I was a poor, lost
creature
, sold under sin, when He opened
my prison doors, and let me go free!

What a mercy was then granted to me!

When I look . . .
  at the sorrow and darkness which I have escaped;
  at the misery from which I have been delivered;
  at the glories which are laid up for me;
  at the love which has accomplished all,
how thankful ought I to be!

I have an eternal home and an inheritance above!

There my Savior will rejoice over me forever!

It is a mystery of grace. My heart ought always
to bless God for the boundless consolation.

If the world neglects me or reviles me, it is of
little consequence. God my Savior loves me!


 

No fear!

(Joseph Philpot, "The Heavenly Birth
 and its Earthly Counterfeits" 1843)

"There is no fear of God before their eyes."
     Romans 3:18

Those who have every reason to fear as to
their eternal state before God, have for the
most part, no fear at all. They are secure,
and free from doubt and fear.

The depths of human hypocrisy,
the dreadful lengths to which profession may go,
the deceit of the carnal heart,
the snares spread for the unwary feet,
the fearful danger of being deceived at the last;
these traps and pitfalls are not objects of anxiety
to those dead in sin.

As long as they can pacify natural conscience,
and do something to soothe any transient
conviction, they are glad to be deceived!

God does not see fit to disturb their quiet.
He has no purpose of mercy towards them;
they are not subjects of His kingdom;
they are not objects of His love.

He therefore leaves them carnally secure, as
in a dream, from which they will not awake
until the day of judgment.


 

Take all to Jesus!

(Octavius Winslow, "Go to Jesus")

Then Jesus said, "Come to Me, all of you
who are weary and carry heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

The life of faith is a constant coming to
Jesus
for daily, hourly, and fresh supplies.

Let every circumstance and event, every
trial, sorrow, and need, be an echo of the
gracious life inspiring words: "Go to Jesus!"

Go to Jesus, confessing sin.
Go to Jesus, unveiling grief.
Go to Jesus, telling need.
Go to Jesus, breathing love, desire, and hope.

You are still in the land of famine and of need.
But your heavenly Father would remind you
that He has anticipated and provided . . .
  for all your requirements,
  for all your history,
  for your daily demands,
in Him whom whose fullness fills all in all.

Take the hard heart, or the broken heart;
take the cold heart, or the glowing heart;
take your barrenness, or your fruitfulness;
take the sunbeam of prosperity, or the cloud of adversity;
take the joy, take the sorrow;
take all to Jesus!

Let Him participate in all, keep you in all,
sympathize with all; for Jesus is your Brother,
raised up to befriend, relieve, and preserve
you in your time of need.



These difficulties . . .

(by Joseph Philpot)

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

When there are no crosses, temptations, or trials,
a man is sure to go out after and cleave to idols.

It matters not what experience he has had. If once he
ceases to be plagued and tried, he will be setting up
his household gods in the secret chambers of his heart.

Profit or pleasure, self indulgence or self gratification,
will surely, in one form or another, engross his thoughts,
and steal away his heart.

Nor is there anything too trifling or insignificant to
become an idol. Whatever is meditated on preferably
to God, whatever is desired more than He, whatever
more interests us, pleases us, occupies our waking
hours, or is more constantly in our mind, becomes
an idol, and a source of sin.

It is not the magnitude of the idol, but its existence
as an object of worship, that constitutes idolatry. I have
seen some 'Burmese idols' not much larger than my hand;
and I have seen some 'Egyptian idols' weighing many tons.
But both were equally idols, and the comparative size had
nothing to do with the question.

So spiritually, an idol is not to be measured by its size;
its relative importance or non importance. A flower may
be as much an idol to one man, as a chest full of gold to
another.

If you watch your heart, you will see idols rising and setting
all day long, nearly as thickly as the stars by night.

But God sends . . .
  trials,
  difficulties,
  temptations,
  besetments,
  losses,
  afflictions,
to pull down these idols, or rather
to pull away our hearts from them.

These difficulties . . .
  pull us out of fleshly ease,
  make us cry for mercy,
  pull down all rotten props,
  hunt us out of false refuges, and
  strip us of vain hopes and delusive expectations.




Idolatry! 

(Joseph Philpot, "Idolatry" 1852)

"They tell how you turned to God from idols
 to serve the living and true God." 1 Thes. 1:9

Nothing is too small or too insignificant
which, at times, may not be an idol.

What is an idol?

Something my carnal mind loves.

How may I know whether my carnal mind loves it?

When we think of it, and are very much pleased with
it. We pet it, love and fondle it, dallying and playing
with it, like a mother with her babe. See how she
takes the little thing and gazes at it. Her eyes are
fixed on it; she dotes upon it because she loves it.

Thus we may know an idol if we examine our own
hearts, by what our imagination, desires and secret
thoughts are going out after.

Instead of being spiritually minded, having his
heart and affections in heaven, he has something
in his mind which it is going out after; something
or other laying hold of the affections.

The child of God has, more or less, all these
propensities working within. There is idolatry in
every man's heart.
How deep this idolatry is
rooted in a man's heart! How it steals upon his
soul! Whatever is indulged in, how it creeps over
him, until it gets such power that it becomes master.

A man does not know himself, if he does not
know what power this idolatry has over him.

None but God can make the man know it; and
when the Lord delivers him, he then turns to
God and says, "What a vile wretch I have been!
What a monster to go after these idols, loving
this thing, and that. A wretch, a monster of
iniquity, the vilest wretch that ever crawled
on the face of God's earth, for my wicked
heart to go out after these idols!"

When the soul is brought down to a sense of its
vileness and loathsomeness, and God's patience
and forbearance, it turns to God from idols, to
serve the only living and true God, who pardons
the idolater.
 


 

Through the inward conflicts, secret workings

(Joseph Philpot, "The Soul's Growth in Grace" 1837)

Through the inward conflicts, secret workings,
mysterious changes, and ever varying exercises
of his soul, the true Christian becomes established
in a deep experience . . .
  of his own folly and God's wisdom,
  of his own weakness and Christ's strength,
  of his own sinfulness and the Lord's goodness,
  of his own backslidings and the Spirit's recoveries,
  of his own base ingratitude and Jehovah's patience,
  of the aboundings of sin and the super aboundings of grace.

He thus becomes daily more and more confirmed in . . .
  the vanity of the creature,
  the utter helplessness of man,
  the deceitfulness and hypocrisy of the human heart,
  the sovereignty of distinguishing grace,
  the fewness of heaven taught ministers,
  the scanty number of living souls,
  and the great rareness of true religion.
 



Wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores

(Joseph Philpot, Balm in Gilead, 1852)

"The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.
 From the sole of the foot even unto the head, there
 is no soundness in it; but only wounds, and bruises,
 and putrefying sores
. They have not been closed,
 neither bound up, neither soothed with ointment."
     Isaiah 1:5-6

Every thought, word, and action is polluted by sin.

Every mental faculty is depraved.

The will chooses evil.

The affections cleave to earthly things.

The memory, like a broken sieve,
retains the bad and lets fall the good.

The judgment, like a bribed or drunken judge,
pronounces mindless or wrong decisions.

The conscience, like an opium eater, lies
asleep and drugged in stupefied silence.

When all these 'master faculties of the mind' are
so drunken and disorderly, need we wonder that
the bodily members are a godless, rebellious crew?

Lusts call out for gratification.

Unbelief and infidelity murmur.

Tempers growl and mutter.

Every bad passion strives hard for the mastery.

O the evils of the human heart, which, let loose,
have filled earth with misery, and hell with victims;
which deluged the world with the flood; burnt
Sodom and Gomorrah with fire from heaven; and
are ripening the world for the final conflagration!

Every sin which . . .
  has made this fair earth a 'present hell';
  has filled the air with groans; and
  has drenched the ground with blood;
dwells in your heart and mine!


Now, as this is opened up to the conscience by the
Spirit of God, we feel indeed to be of all men most
sinful and miserable; and of all most guilty, polluted,
and vile.
But it is this, and nothing but this, which
cuts to pieces our 'fleshly righteousness, wisdom, and
strength'; which slays our delusive hopes; and lays us
low at the footstool of mercy; without one good thought,
word, or action to propitiate an angry Judge.

It is this which brings the soul to this point:
that if saved, it can only be saved by the
free grace, sovereign mercy, and tender
compassion of Almighty God.


 

The wilderness wanderer

(Joseph Philpot, "The Wilderness Wanderer" 1867)

"They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary
 way; they found no city to dwell in." Psalm 107:4

The true Christian finds this world to be a wilderness.

There is no change in the world itself.

The change is in the man's heart.

The wilderness wanderer thinks it altered; a
different world from what he has hitherto known . . .
  his friends,
  his own family,
  the employment in which he is daily engaged,
  the general pursuits of men,
  the cares and anxieties,
  the hopes and prospects,
  the amusements and pleasures, and
  what I may call 'the general din and whirl of life',
all seem to him different to what they were; and
for a time perhaps he can scarcely tell whether the
change is in them, or in himself.

This however is the prominent and uppermost feeling
in his mind: that he finds himself, to his surprise a
wanderer in a world which has changed altogether its
appearance to him. The fair, beautiful world, in which was
all his happiness and all his home; has become to him
a dreary wilderness.

Sin has been fastened in its conviction on his conscience.
The Holy Spirit has taken the veil of unbelief and ignorance
off his heart. He now sees the world in a wholly different
light; and instead of a paradise it has become a wilderness;
for sin, dreadful sin, has marred all its beauty and happiness.

It is not because the world itself has changed that the Christian
feels it to be a wilderness; but because he himself has changed.

There is nothing in this world which can really gratify or satisfy
the true Christian. What once was to him a happy and joyous
world has now become a barren wilderness.

The scene of his former . . .
  pursuits,
  pleasures,
  habits,
  delights,
  prospects,
  hopes,
  anticipations of profit or happiness,
is now turned into a barren wasteland.

What once was a blooming and verdant pasture,
a glorious scene of hill and dale, trees and flowers,
is now turned into sand and gravel, with the burning
sun of God's wrath above, and the parched sand of
his own desolate heart beneath.

He cannot perhaps tell how or why the change has
taken place, but he feels it, deeply feels it. He may
try to shake off his trouble and be a little cheerful
and happy as he was before; but if he gets a little
imaginary relief, all his guilty pangs come back upon
him with renewed strength and increased violence.

God means to make the world a wilderness to every
child of His, that he may not find his happiness in it,
but be a stranger and a pilgrim upon earth.




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