Grace Gems for DECEMBER 2004


Building air-castle upon air-castle!

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

He who goes about whining all day long about some
imaginary drawbacks in the sphere which Providence
has assigned him—when all the while he is situated
so much better than thousands around—is a suicide
of his own happiness!
He is also impeaching the
faithfulness of the Supreme Ordainer and Disposer.

One half of life's enjoyment is eaten out by this sinful
craving after what cannot be obtained—the desire for
something supposed to be better
. Yes, but when "the
better" is reached, there is the yearning for an imagined
"better" still. This is building air-castle upon air-castle!

If in these days there be one household demon more
than another which needs to be exorcized—it is the
demon of discontent!


Oh, for the spirit of Paul—poor and lonely prisoner in
Rome as he was—an apparent bankrupt in all that the
world deems wealth and affluence—yet who could make
this entry in his letter to his Philippian friends—"I have
learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
At the moment I have all I need—more than I need!"



Dead and dark seasons

(J. C. Philpot, "REVIEWS")

All Christians, even the most eminent servants
of God, have their dead and dark seasons—when
the life of God seems sunk to so low an ebb as to
be hardly visible—so hidden is the stream by the
mud-banks of their fallen nature.

By these very dark and dead seasons, the people
of God are instructed. They see and feel what 'the
flesh' really is—how alienated from the life of God;
they learn in whom all their strength and sufficiency
lie; they are taught that in them, that is, in their flesh,
dwells no good thing; that no exertions of their own
can maintain in strength and vigor the life of God; and
that all they are, and have—all they believe, know, feel,
and enjoy—with all their ability, usefulness, gifts, and
grace—flow from the pure, sovereign grace—the rich, free,
undeserved, yet unceasing goodness and mercy of God!

They learn in this hard school of painful experience, their
emptiness and nothingness—and that without Christ they
can do nothing. They thus become clothed with humility,
that rare, yet lovely garb; cease from their own strength
and wisdom; and learn experimentally that Christ is, and
ever must be, all in all to them, and all in all in them.



At the cross

(J. C. Philpot, "Contemplations & Reflections")

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

At the cross we see . . .
  sin in its blackest colors, and
  holiness in its fairest beauties.

At the cross we see . . .
  the love of God in its tenderest form, and
  the anger of God in its deepest expression.

At the cross we see the blessed Redeemer lifted up,
as it were between heaven and earth, to show to
angels and to men the spectacle of redeeming love,
and to declare at one and the same moment, and by
one and the same act of the suffering obedience and
bleeding sacrifice of the Son of God—the eternal and
unalterable displeasure of the Almighty against sin,
and the rigid demands of His inflexible justice, and
yet the tender compassion and boundless love of His
heart to the elect.

At the cross, and here alone, are obtained pardon
and peace.

At the cross, and here alone, penitential grief
and godly sorrow flow from heart and eyes.

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

O what heavenly blessings, what present grace, as
well as what future glory, flow through the cross!

What a holy meeting-place for repenting sinners and
a sin-pardoning God! What a healing-place for guilty,
yet repenting and returning backsliders! What a door
of hope
in the valley of Achor for the self-condemned
and self-abhorred! What a blessed resting-place for the
whole family of God in this valley of grief and sorrow!




 

He will become a giant in wickedness!

(Gardiner Spring, "Christian Parenting")

Parents! You must recognize a mournful fact—your child
is depraved! You will fail utterly to educate him if you
don't recognize this sad reality. He possesses a
supremely selfish spirit! 'Self-indulgence' is his king!

Worse—unless he is instructed in moral truth, he will
become a slave of base appetites and unholy passions!

He will become a giant in wickedness!



How many, O how many

(Philpot, "Contemplations & Reflections")

"These people draw near to Me with their
 mouth, and honor Me with their lips; but
 their heart is far from Me." Matthew 15:8

How many, O how many of those who sit
in our chapels amid the people of God are
perishing in their sins with . . .
  the Bible and hymn-book before their eyes,
  the sound of the gospel in their ears,
  the doctrines of grace on their lips,
  but the love of the world in their hearts!

"Don't love the world, neither the things that
 are in the world. If anyone loves the world,
 the Father's love isn't in him." 1 John 2:15



Pile in one mass

(Henry Law, "Awakening and Inviting Calls")

"Yes! He is altogether lovely! This is my Beloved,
  and this is my Friend!" Song of Solomon 5:16

Think of Jesus' matchless worth. Angels are
great, but their collected weight is infinitely
outweighed by Him. Pile in one mass . . .
  all kings and potentates of earth,
  all the wisdom of the wisest,
  all the might of the mightiest,
  all the strength of the strongest;
it is all less than nothing, when compared to Him!

Without Him heaven is no heaven.

"Whom do I have in heaven but You? And I desire
  nothing on earth but You." Psalm 73:25



Have we nothing to give Christ?

(J. C. Philpot, "REVIEWS")

Have we nothing to give Christ?

Yes!

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

And what has He to give us?

What? Why, everything worth having, everything
worth a moment's anxious thought, everything for
time and eternity!



It has ruined him, body and soul

(J. C. Philpot, "REVIEWS")

"In Him we have redemption through His blood,
 the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches
 of His grace." Ephesians 1:7

As no heart can sufficiently conceive, so no tongue
can adequately express, the state of wretchedness
and ruin
into which sin has cast guilty, miserable man.

In separating him from God, it has severed him from
the only Source and fountain of all happiness and all
holiness. It has ruined him, body and soul. The body
it has filled with sickness and disease. The soul it has
defaced, and destroyed the image of God in which it
was created. It has . . .
  shattered all his mental faculties;
  broken his judgment,
  polluted his imagination,
  alienated his affections.

It has made him love sin—and hate God.

It has filled him from top to toe with pride, lust, and
cruelty, and has been the prolific parent of all those
crimes and abominations under which earth groans,
the bare recital of some of which has filled so many
hearts with disgust and horror. These are the more
visible fruits of the fall.


But nearer home, in our own hearts, in what we are or
have been, we find and feel what wreck and ruin sin
has made!
There can be no greater mark of alienation
from God than willfully and deliberately to seek pleasure
and delight in things which His holiness abhors.

But who of the family of God has not been guilty here?
Every movement and inclination of our natural mind,
every desire and lust of our carnal heart, was, in times
past, to find pleasure and gratification in something
abhorrent to the will and word of the living Jehovah.

There are few of us who, in the days of our flesh, have
not sought pleasure in some of its varied but deceptive
forms. The theater, the race-course, the dance, the sports,
the card-table, the midnight revel, "the pleasures of sin"
were resorted to by some of us.

Our mad, feverish, thirst after excitement—the continued cry
of our wicked flesh, "Give, give!"—our miserable recklessness
or headlong, daring determination to 'enjoy ourselves', as we
called it, cost what it would, plunged us again and again
into the sea of sin, where, but for sovereign grace, we
would have sunk to rise no more!


Or, if the 'restraints of morality' put their check upon gross
and sinful pleasures, there still was a seeking after such
"allowable amusements" (as we deemed them), as change
of scene and place, foreign travel, the reading of novels and
works of fiction, fine dress, visiting, building up airy castles
of love and romance
, studying how to obtain human applause,
devising plans of self-advancement and self-gratification,
occupying the mind with cherished studies, and delighting
ourselves in those pursuits for which we had a natural taste,
as music, drawing, poetry, or, it might be, severer studies
and scientific researches.

We have named these middle-class pursuits as less obvious
sins, than such gross crimes as drunkenness and vile debauchery
in the lower walks of life. But, viewed with a spiritual eye, all
are equally stamped with the same fatal brand of death in sin.

The moral and the immoral,
the refined and the unrefined,
the polished few or the crude many,
are alike "without God and without hope in the world."

We are often met with this question, "What harm is there
in this pursuit, or in that amusement?"
The harm is, that
the amusement is delighted in for its own sake; that it
occupies the mind, and fills the thoughts, shutting God out;
that it renders spiritual things distasteful; that it sets up an
idol in the heart
, and is made a substitute for God.

Now this we never really know nor feel, until divine light
illuminates the mind, and divine life quickens the soul.

We then begin to see and feel into what a miserable
state sin has cast us; how all our life long we have done
nothing but what God abhors
; that every imagination of
the thoughts of our hearts has been evil, and only evil
continually; that we have brought ourselves under the
stroke of God's justice, under the curse of His righteous
law, and now there appears nothing but death and
destruction before our eyes, and unless we poor slaves
of sin, Satan, and death were redeemed, we could not
be reconciled to God.

"In Him we have redemption through His blood,
 the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches
 of His grace." Ephesians 1:7



Three books

(J. C. Philpot, "REVIEWS")

There are three books which, if a man will read
and study, he can dispense with most others.

1. The book of Providence—and this he reads
to good purpose, when he sees written down line
by line the providential dealings of God with him,
and a ray of Divine light gilds every line.

2. The Word of God—and this he reads to profit, when
the blessed Spirit applies it with power to his soul.

3. The book of his own heart—and this he studies
with advantage, when he reads in the new man of
grace
the blessed dealings of God with his soul—
and in the old man of sin and death, enough to fill
him with shame and confusion of face, and make him
loathe and abhor himself in dust and ashes.



 

The whole apparatus of religion

(J. C. Philpot, "Reviews")

"I see that you are very religious in every way."
      Acts 17:22

Religion, in some shape or other, is indispensable
to the very existence of civilized society. There is
a natural religion—as well as a spiritual religion.

Natural conscience is the seat of the former;
a spiritual conscience the seat of the latter.

One is of the flesh—the other of the Spirit.

One for time—the other for eternity.

One for the world—the other for the elect.

One to animate and bind men together as
component members of society—the other to
animate and bind the children of God together
as component members of the mystical body
of Christ.

True religion is what the world does not want
—nor does true religion want the world.

The two are as separate as Christ and Belial.

But some religion the world must have!
And as it will not have, and cannot have
the true—it will and must have the false.

True religion is . . .
  spiritual and experimental,
  heavenly and divine,
  the gift and work of God,
  the birthright and privilege of the elect,
  the peculiar possession of the heirs of God.

This the world has not, for it is God's enemy—not
His friend—walking in the broad way which leads
to perdition—not in the narrow way which leads
to eternal life.


Worldly religion cannot exist without an order of
men
to teach it and practice its ceremonies. Hence
come clergy, forming a recognized priestly caste.
And as these must, to avoid confusion, be governed,
all large corporate bodies requiring a controlling power,
thence come bishops and archbishops, ecclesiastical
courts, archdeacons—and the whole apparatus of
clerical government.

The ceremonies and ordinances cannot be carried on
without buildings set apart for the purpose—thence
churches and cathedrals.

As prayer is a part of all religious worship, and carnal
men cannot, for lack of the Spirit, pray spiritually—they
must have forms of devotion made ready to their hand,
thence come prayer-books and liturgies.

As there must be mutual points of agreement to hold
men together, there must be written formulas of doctrine
—thence come articles, creeds, and confessions of faith.

And finally, as there are children to be instructed, and
this cannot be safely left to oral teaching, for fear of
ignorance in some and error in others, the very form
of instruction must be drawn up in so many words—
thence come catechisms.

People are puzzled sometimes to know why there is
this and that thing in an established religion—why we
have churches and clergy, tithes and prayer-books,
universities and catechisms—and the whole apparatus
of religion
. They do not see that all these things have
sprung, as it were, out of a moral necessity, and are
based upon the very constitution of man—that this
great and widespread tree of a human religion has
its deep roots in the natural conscience; and that all
these branches necessarily and naturally grow out of
the broad and lofty stem.

The attachment, then, of worldly people to a worldly
religion
is no great mystery. It is no riddle for a Samson
to put forth—or requiring a Solomon to solve.
 


 

How ravishing is the thought!

"A Song Concerning Lovingkindnesses" #1126,
delivered on August 10th, 1873 by C. H. Spurgeon

"Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love!
 Therefore with loving kindness have I drawn you."
    Jeremiah 31:3

How ravishing is the thought of eternal love!
Try to drink it in—if you are a believer in Christ
you were loved before time began its cycles; in
that old eternity, before the earth was born, you
were beloved of the Lord!

You were dear to Jehovah’s heart when this great
world—the sun, the moon, the stars, slept in the
mind of God—like unborn forests in an acorn-cup.

He loved you with an everlasting and infinite love.
Rejoice in this and let your souls be glad. Never
forget that the special electing love of God is
the source of every blessing.

"Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love!
 Therefore with loving kindness have I drawn you."
    Jeremiah 31:3
 


 

Those are charming bells indeed!

"A Song Concerning Loving-kindnesses" #1126,
delivered on August 10th, 1873 by C. H. Spurgeon

"By the grace of God I am what I am!" 1 Cor. 15:10

All that we have received has come to us by the way
of free grace! If our sense of our own unworthiness
is clear, if we know what worse than nothings we are,
what a mass of sin and corruption we are by nature,
we shall never think that we receive anything from
God by the way of merit.

Still our proud hearts need to be told over and over
again that all the blessings we enjoy come to us by
the free and sovereign grace of God!

The bread on your table is flavored with grace.

Your meat has mercy for its sauce.

Every drop of water which cools your tongue tastes of mercy.

Charity clothes you.

Infinite love feeds you.

And as for your spiritual blessings, where are your
streams found, whence do they gush—but from the
inexhaustible fountain of eternal love?


God forbid that we should glory save in the cross of
our Lord Jesus Christ—and in the love which shone
from that cross to such poor, unworthy ones as we
are!

Those are charming bells indeed
—free grace
and dying love!
Through the ivory gate of grace,
all mercies come to sinners.

"By the grace of God I am what I am!" 1 Cor. 15:10
 


 

Things that even the angels desire to look into!

(J. C. Philpot, "Meditations on First Peter")

"These are things that even the angels desire
 to look into!
" 1 Peter 1:12

To the carnal, earthly, debased, degraded mind
of man, the mystery of the Person of Christ, of
the cross, of the sufferings, blood-shedding, and
death of Jesus, whereby He put away sin by the
sacrifice of Himself—is foolishness. He sees no
beauty, blessedness, or glory in the Person of the
Son of God, nor any wisdom or grace in atoning
blood and dying love.

But not so with these bright and pure beings!
They see in the Person and work of Christ not only
the depths of infinite wisdom in the contrivance of
the whole plan of redemption, and of power in its
execution and full accomplishment; but they see
such lengths, breadths, depths, and heights of love
as fill their minds with holy wonder, admiration and
praise. They see in His incarnation, humiliation,
sufferings, blood-shedding, and death—such
unspeakable treasures of mercy and grace as
ever fill their minds with wonder and admiration.

What shame and confusion should cover our face
that we should see so little beauty and glory in
that redeeming blood and love, which fills the pure
minds of the angelic beings with holy and unceasing
admiration—and that they should be ever seeking
and inquiring into this heavenly mystery, that they
may discover in it ever new and opening treasures
of the wisdom, grace, mercy, truth, and love of God
—when we who profess to be redeemed by precious
blood, are, for the most part, so cold and indifferent
in the contemplation and admiration of it.
 


 

Every bitter cup

(John Bunyan)

"My times are in Your hand." Psalm 31:15 

Afflictions are governed by God, both as to . . .
  their time,
  their number,
  their nature,
  their measure.

Our times, therefore, and our condition
in these times, are in the hand of God.

God is in all providences, be they . . .
  ever so bitter,
  ever so afflicting,
  ever so smarting,
  ever so destructive
to our earthly comforts.

Every bitter cup is of His preparing!

It is Jesus, your best friend who most dearly
loves you, who appoints all providences, orders
them all, overrules, moderates, and sanctifies
them all—and will sweeten them all—and in His
due time will make them profitable unto you,
that you shall one day have cause to praise
and bless His name for them all.

"For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and He
 scourges every son whom He receives." Heb. 12:6
 


 

The Creator of all worlds in tears!

(John MacDuff, "A BOOK FOR THE BEREAVED")

"Lazarus is dead." John 11:14

"When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who
 had come along with her also weeping, He was
 deeply moved in spirit and troubled
." John 11:33

"Jesus wept!" John 11:35

Let us turn aside for a little and see this great sight!
It is the Creator of all worlds in tears—the God-man
Mediator dissolved in tenderest grief!
 

Jesus wept out of sympathy for the bereaved. The
hearts at His side were breaking with anguish. All
unaware of how soon and how wondrously their
sorrow was to be turned into joy—this appalling
thought was alone present to them in all its
fearfulness—"Lazarus is dead!" When He, the
God-man Mediator, with the refined sensibilities
of His tender heart, beheld the poignancy of their
affliction, the pent-up torrent of His own human
sympathies could be restrained no longer. His
tears flowed also! "Jesus wept!"



 

Passing through the valley of weeping

(John MacDuff, "A Book for the Bereaved")

"Passing through the valley of weeping."
     Psalm 84:6

Child of God! There is not one drop of wrath
in the troublous cup you are now drinking!
He took all that was bitter out of it, and left
it a cup of love! God deals tenderly, wisely,
and lovingly with His children.

In a little while the night of weeping will be
over, and a gentle hand in a tearless world
will dry up the very source of tears! Every
day is bringing you nearer that blissful reality
—nearer to Him who is now standing with the
hoarded treasures of eternity in His hand, and
the hoarded love of eternity in His heart!

How will one brief moment there, banish all the
pangs and sorrows of the valley of weeping, to
everlasting oblivion!

"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy
 comes in the morning!" Psalm 30:5

"He will wipe all tears from their eyes—and there
 will be no more death, suffering, crying, or pain!
 These things of the past are gone forever!"
    Revelation 21:4
 


 

To separate us from worldly things

(Letters of William Tiptaft)

"Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher; "Vanity
 of vanities, all is vanity." Ecclesiastes 1:2 

As long as we live in this world we shall find that
our hearts again and again cleave to the dust.

All things here, however, are very uncertain and
unsatisfactory. It is a great mercy when we
can use the world as strangers and pilgrims.

There is nothing worth living for in this vain world.

Vanity is stamped upon all created good.

All dealings with the world are of a deadening
nature; therefore, whatever unnecessarily brings
us into contact with the world should be avoided.

To separate us from worldly things, we need
stripes, scourges, rods, and afflictions—besides
various other crosses. Our souls so very much
cleave to the dust.
 


 

Disaster!

(John MacDuff, "A Book for the Bereaved")

"Does disaster come to a city, unless
 the Lord has done it?" Amos 3:6

"Does disaster come to a city," to the cottage,
to the palace—is there disaster which blights
some unknown poor man's dwelling—is there
disaster which clothes a nation in mourning,
"unless the Lord has done it?"

"I create both light and darkness; I make both
 blessing and disaster. I, the Lord, do all these
 things." Isaiah 45:7
 
"This is what the Lord says: As I brought all
 these disasters on these people." Jer. 32:42

"Therefore the Lord has brought all this
 disaster on them." 1 Kings 9:9

"Behold, I will bring disaster upon you.
 I will utterly burn you up." 1 Kings 21:21 

"Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel:
 Behold, I am bringing upon Jerusalem and Judah
 such disaster that the ears of everyone who
 hears of it will tingle!" 2 Kings 21:12 

"Thus says the Lord, behold, I will bring disaster upon
 this place and upon its inhabitants." 2 Chronicles 34:24

"Hear, O earth; behold, I am bringing disaster
 upon this people." Jeremiah 6:19
 


 

Gods appointments!

(John MacDuff, "A Book for the Bereaved")

"The widow's son got sick; he got worse and
 worse, and finally he died." 1 Kings 17:17 

How baffling and mysterious are many of God's
providential dispensations!
Surely, we might think,
if there is one dwelling more than another secure
from the assaults of the dread invader, it will be
that of the widow of Zarephath, and of the hope and
solace of her declining years; who, if spared, might
become an honored instrument in the defense and
maintenance of the true religion. And yet, behold,
the desire of her eyes and the delight of her
heart—taken away by a stroke!

Oftentimes are we perplexed and confounded by
similar dealings; decayed scaffoldings, crumbling
props remaining—and the strong and vigorous, the
virtuous and useful, swept down in a moment!

There is no key to these dark dispensations.
Many a weeping eye cannot read them through
blinding tears.

God's most favored people are often put in the
foremost ranks of chastisement. Upon the most
fruit-bearing trees of His garden He often uses
His sharp pruning-knife.

Then Elijah cried out to the Lord and said, "My Lord
God, why have You brought tragedy on the widow
I am staying with by killing her son?" 1 Kings 17:20

All bereavements and chastisements are
Gods appointments!

Trial
, in its varied forms, has ever been employed
by God as a powerful means of leading to deeper
convictions of sin, as well as a salutary quickener
of spiritual graces. He knows what discipline is best
fitted to draw the soul to Himself; and often does
He show that none is so effectual as that which was
employed in this home at Zarephath—snapping the
ties which bind us to the creature
—disuniting us
from earthly, to bind us to heavenly things.

Many can trace their first deep sense of sin—their
first lively apprehension of Christ and of Divine
realities—to the hour when their dwelling was rifled
of its prized blessings. He breaks the heart in
order to save the soul.
 


 

Each apparently capricious turn in life's way

(John MacDuff, "COMMUNION MEMORIES" 1886)

The Christian has this promise of assured help,
"My God shall supply all your needs, according
to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus!" Phil. 4:19

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow!" Matthew 6:34

Ah, that future! that unknown, sometimes dark and
chequered future, how many an anxious thought it costs!

Who can forecast the varying scenes of changeful life?

It is like walking up some sequestered dell; every
turn in the path presents something new. A cluster
of flowers here—a rotten branch or decaying tree
there; now a flowing stream—now a quiet pool—
now a sprawling cascade; now a gleam of sunlight,
now the driving rain and booming thunder.

But each apparently capricious turn in life's
way
, all its accidents and incidents, are the
appointments of Infinite Wisdom!


The future with all its vicissitudes
, is in His keeping
and ordering. You may work the loom—the shuttle may
be in your hands—but the pattern is all His—the
intermingling threads of varied hue, even what are
dark and somber. Do not talk of a tangled web,
when it is that of the Great Craftsman!

Confide in that heart of Infinite Love!

Shall we dream of being wiser than God? Shall we
dream of correcting His Book of Sovereign decrees?
of altering the building-plans of the Divine Architect?

No! trust His loving heart, where sense cannot
trace His hand!

Our All-sufficient God has said, "I will never leave
you, I will never, never, never forsake you." He is . . .
 a rich Provider,
 a sure Provider,
 a willing Provider,
 a wise Provider.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow!" Matthew 6:34
 


 

The things the pagans are always concerned about

(Erskine, "The Groans of Believers under Their Burdens")

"So don't worry, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will
we drink?' or 'What will we wear?' These are the things
the pagans are always concerned about
." Mt. 6:32-33

The great concern of the ungodly is about their clay-tabernacle,
how to gratify it, how to beautify it, and how to adorn it. Their
language is, "Who will show us any good? What shall we eat?
What shall we drink? What shall we wear?"

But they have no thought or concern about the immortal
soul which inhabits the tabernacle—which must be happy
or miserable forever!

O sirs! Remember, that whatever care you take about
this  clay-tabernacle, it will turn into dust before long,
and the reeking grave will be its habitation—where worms
and corruption will prey upon the fairest face and purest
complexion.

Where will be your beauty, strength, or fine attire,
when the curtains of the grave are drawn around you?
 


 

Blow upon my garden

(John MacDuff, "Communion Memories")

"Awake, O north wind, and come, O south wind!
 Blow upon my garden, let its spices flow. Let my
 Beloved come to His garden, and eat its choicest
 fruits." Song of Solomon 4:16

Come! Blessed Spirit, in all the plenitude of Your
gifts and graces!

Come, as the north wind bringing with it conviction
of sin—my own sin—seen in the light of my Savior's
Cross and sufferings.

Come, as the south wind—with all soothing, comforting,
sanctifying influences—bearing on its wings the Beloved's
own balm-words of mercy—revealing the wonders of His
love—the tenderness of His sympathy—the riches of His
grace.

Let the spices—the fragrance of a grateful heart filled
with all joy and peace in believing—flow out.

"Awake, O north wind, and come, O south wind!
 Blow upon my garden, let its spices flow. Let my
 Beloved come to His garden, and eat its choicest
 fruits." Song of Solomon 4:16
 


 

Smaller virtues and lesser vices

(Hannah More, "Practical Piety")
 

"Hate everything that is evil, and hold tight
 to everything that is good." Romans 12:9

It is important for the Christian . . .
  to practice the smaller virtues,
  to avoid scrupulously the lesser vices,
  and to bear patiently with minor trials.

Smaller virtues and lesser vices make
up a large part of human life, and fix and
determine our moral character.

The smaller virtues are the threads and
filaments which gently but firmly tie the
Christian graces together. The acquisition
of even the smallest virtue is actually a
conquest over the opposite vice, and
doubles our moral strength.

Faults which we are accustomed to consider as
small are apt to be repeated without reservation.
The habit of committing them is strengthened by
the repetition. Frequency renders us at first
indifferent, and then insensible.
 

The hopelessness attending a long indulged
habit
generates carelessness, until the power
of resistance is first weakened, then destroyed.

The Christian knows of no small faults. He
considers sins, whatever their magnitude, as
an offense against his Maker. Nothing that
offends God can be insignificant.

Nothing can be trifling that makes a bad
habit fasten itself to us!

Do small faults, continually repeated,
always retain their original weakness?

Is a bad temper which is never repressed, not
worse after years of indulgence, than when we
first gave the reins to it?

Does the habit of exaggeration never lead
to falsehood, or never move into deceit?

Before we determine that our small faults are
innocent
, we must try to prove that they shall
never outgrow their initial dimensions. We must
make certain that the infant shall never become
a giant!
 

"Hate everything that is evil, and hold tight
 to everything that is good." Romans 12:9
 


 

This most precious and suitable Savior!

(Letters of J. C. Philpot)

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to
 sympathize with our weaknesses." Hebrews 4:15

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

Oh what would we do without such a gracious and
most suitable Savior as the blessed Jesus! How He
seems to rise more and more . . .
  in our estimation,
  in our thoughts,
  in our desires,
  in our affections,
as we see and feel what a wreck and ruin we are,
what dreadful havoc sin has made with both body
and soul, what miserable outcasts we are by nature.

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


 

Cruel tools

(A. W. Tozer)

"I have refined you in the furnace of suffering."
     Isaiah 48:10

A sculptor does not use a 'manicure set' to reduce
the crude, unshapely marble to a thing of beauty.
The saw, the hammer and the chisel are cruel
tools
, but without them the rough stone must
remain forever formless and unbeautiful.

To do His supreme work of grace within you, God
will take from your heart everything you love most.
Everything you trust in will go from you. Piles of
ashes will lie where your most precious treasures
used to be!

"I have refined you in the furnace of suffering."
     Isaiah 48:10
 


 

My path

(Letters of J. C. Philpot)

My path has been, and is, one mainly of trial and
temptation, having a heart so evil, a tempter so
subtle, and so many crosses and snares in which
my feet are continually caught and entangled.

All here on earth, is labor and sorrow. Our own
sins, and the sins of others, will always make it
a scene of trouble.

Oh, you hideous monster, sin!
What a mighty
power it has—a power which grace alone can
subdue. It seems sometimes subdued, and
then rises up worse than before. Well may
we cry out
, "Oh, wretched man that I am!"

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


 

The desires of the flesh and of the mind

(J. C. Philpot, "Meditations on Ephesians")

"All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying
 the cravings of our sinful nature, fulfilling the desires
 of the flesh and of the mind
. Like the rest, we were
 by nature objects of wrath." Ephesians 2:3

We may observe here a distinction drawn by the Apostle
between the desires of the flesh and the desires of the
mind. Both are opposed to God and godliness, both are
the fruits of our fallen nature.

But the desires of the FLESH seem to be those grosser
and more sensual lusts and passions which are connected,
so to speak, with the lower part of our nature. The desires
of the MIND
are those which are connected with its higher
qualities.

Thus some are steeped up to the very lips in all manner
of vile abominations of sensual lust, in the gratification of
which they find all their pleasure. While others, who would
scorn, or at least are not tempted to the baser lusts of the
flesh, carry out with equal ardour the promptings of a more
refined character and disposition. Ambition to rise in the
world, thirsting after power over their fellow-men, a craving
for fame and distinction in any particular branch of art or
science, discontent with their present situation in life,
envying everyone superior to them in birth, wealth, talent,
accomplishments, position, or worldly happiness; attempts,
more or less successful, to rise out of obscurity, poverty,
and subjection, and to win for themselves name, fame, and
prosperity—how wide a field does this open to our view, as
embracing "the desires of the MIND!"

And observe how the Apostle puts upon a level the desires
of the flesh and the desires of the mind, and stamps them
both with the same black mark of disobedience and its
consequences—the wrath of God.

We look around us. We see the drunkard staggering in the
street, we hear the oath of the common swearer, we view
the sons and daughters of Belial manifesting in their very
looks how sunk they are in deeds of shame. These we at
once condemn.

But what do we think of the aspiring tradesman, the energetic
man of business, the active, untiring speculator, the man who,
without scruple, puts into practice every scheme and plan to
advance and aggrandize himself, careless who sinks if he rise?
Is he equally guilty in our eyes? What do we think of the artist
devoting days and nights to the cultivation of his skill as a painter,
as an architect, as a sculptor; of the literary man, buried in his
books; of the scientist, devoting years to the particular branch
of study which he has selected to pursue; or similar examples
of men, whose whole life and all whose energies are spent in
fulfilling the desires of their mind?


As far as society, public welfare, the comfort of themselves
and their families, and the progress of the world are concerned,
there is a vast difference between these two classes; and we
would do violence to right feeling to put them upon a level.

But when we come to weigh the matter as before God, with
eternity in view, and judge them by the word of truth, we see
at once that there is no real difference between them; that
the drunkard does but fulfill the desires of his flesh—and the
scholar, the artist, the man of business, the literary man, in a
word, the man of the world, whatever his world be, little or
great, does but each fulfill the desires of his mind.

Both are of the earth, earthy; both are sworn enemies to God
and godliness; and could you look into the very bottom of his
heart, you might find the man of intellect, refinement, and
education—to be a greater foe to God and His word than the
drunkard or the profligate!

The sin in both is one and the same, and consists in this,
that in all they do they seek to gratify that carnal mind
which is enmity against God, which is not subject to the
law of God, neither indeed can be. God is not in all, or
indeed in any of their thoughts. Instead of living to and
for Him in whom, as creatures of His hand, they live and
move and have their being, they live wholly unto and for
themselves, and thus are practical rebels against God,
as rejecting his rightful claims upon their obedience.
 


 

The desires of the flesh and of the mind

(Henry Law, "Meditations on Ephesians")

"All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying
 the cravings of our sinful nature, fulfilling the desires
 of the flesh and of the mind
. Like the rest, we were
 by nature objects of wrath." Ephesians 2:3

Our original state is here represented. Dark and hateful
as the picture is, the contemplation is most profitable . . .
  it silences all boastings;
  it utterly strips us of all self-righteousness;
  it excites self-loathing and self-abhorrence;
  it loudly proclaims the sentence of just condemnation;
  above all, it exalts the glory of God in His free grace
  and unspeakable mercy in Christ Jesus.
May these blessed effects be wrought by the Spirit in our
souls, while we fix our eyes on the portrait before us!

We fulfilled the desires of the flesh and of the mind. Before
the Spirit of God enters the soul, the whole nature is carnal
and corrupt. The mind, in its various operations, only lusts
after evil—the flesh is one mass of depravity, greedy after
low and base gratifications. The mind suggests, and plans,
and invents—the flesh is eager to obey. The mind is enmity
to God—the flesh never can become spiritual. The mind is
the nest of every unclean bird, the fountain-head of polluted
streams—the flesh is the instrument of unholy indulgence.
Here we have the mind desiring and devising, and the flesh
executing, all evil.

"FULFILLING
the desires of the flesh and of the mind."
They offer no restraint to their ungodly propensities; they
are carried rapidly down the destructive stream of sensual
indulgence. Their one desire is to crowd the largest portion
of worldly pleasure into the narrow speck of this little life
. . .
  they know no higher desires,
  they are ignorant of God;
  they tremble not at His Word;
  they are utter strangers to His fear;
  they are blind to the real character of sin;
  they are reckless of the dreadful consequences;
  their eyes are closed to . . .
the realities of eternity,
the approach of judgment,
the appalling terrors of the wrath to come.

Such were we—so we walked—having no holier object
than to fulfill the desires of the flesh and of the mind.

"Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath." God
abhors all evil—it is infinitely repugnant to His holy nature
—His wrath burns like fire against it. So while we were thus
wholly given to work iniquity, God's pure anger was against
our every word, and thought, and work. We were every
moment treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath.
This is the way of all the ungodly. We differed not from
their principles and proceedings, and therefore we were
rapidly hastening to the suffering of the wrath to come.

Praise be to "Jesus, who rescues us from the coming
wrath!" 1 Thessalonians 1:10
 


 

The golden key that fits all locks!

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

"If I have not love, I am nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:2

What a magic spell there is in love!—the absolute devotion
of a beautiful soul that loses itself in the hallowed mission
of radiating peace and joy and sympathy all around.

When other charmers have failed to charm, many dull,
unsusceptible ears have been arrested and won by the
music of kindness
. By it . . .
  old-age renews its youth,
  sick pillows are smoothed,
  burdens are eased,
  tears are turned into smiles,
  dirges are turned into songs.

Love is, of all magical charms, the most irresistible.

Love is the golden key that fits all locks!

"If I have not love, I am nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:2
 


 

The desire of the heart

(Favell Lee Mortimer, "Family Devotions")

"Wherever your treasure is, there your heart
 and thoughts will also be." Matthew 6:21

By nature, the desire of the heart is only for . . .
  health,
  riches,
  pleasures,
  worldly honor, or
  domestic comforts.

If we are more anxious to possess an earthly
portion than a heavenly inheritance, we are
not God's people.

"Wherever your treasure is, there your heart
 and thoughts will also be." Matthew 6:21