Grace Gems for DECEMBER 2008

The dark dungeon of ignorance!

(William Secker, "The Consistent Christian" 1660)

"God has called you out of darkness—into His marvelous
 light." 1 Peter 2:9

The papists cry up 'ignorance' as the mother of devotion.
But we cry down 'ignorance' as the father of superstition.

It is no wonder that Christ should be so much undesired
—when He is so much unknown.

Satan binds all his captives down in the dark dungeon
of ignorance!
Like the cunning falconer, he blindfolds
his birds
—that he may carry them to hell more securely!

Darkness is the devil's element—and the sinner's

Utter darkness—is the recompense of inward darkness.
"My people perish—for lack of knowledge." Hosea 4:6

An ignorant man neither cares what he does—nor
knows where he is going. When such a one is taken
off the earth—he cannot be taken into heaven!
"Taking vengeance with flaming fire on those
who do not know God!" 2 Thessalonians 1:8

   ~  ~  ~  ~ 

The golden key, and the iron lock

(William Secker, "The Consistent Christian" 1660)

He who is Omniscient—to know your needs,
is also Omnipotent—to grant your requests.

"Ask, and receive—that your joy may be full."

Spiritual supplication is the channel to consolation.

Now none are more fruitful in divine labor—than
those who are most joyful under a sense of the
divine favor.

Death shortens our way to heaven—but
prayer sweetens our way to heaven.

There never was one new-born soul—who was still-born.

The prayerless soul—is a fruitless soul. The waters of life
are sweet—and it is blessed to bring the vessels of prayer
to these wells. It matters not, how often you carry your
empty pitcher—to so full a river!

Christians will never lack a praying time—if they possess
a praying frame. In the morning, prayer is a golden key
—to open the heart for God's service; and in the evening,
prayer is an iron lock—to guard the heart against sin.

   ~  ~  ~  ~ 

If we were left to ourselves

(William Secker, "The Consistent Christian" 1660)

"What makes you better than anyone else?"
    1 Corinthians 4:7

Reader, are there not the same lusts lodging in your
—which are reigning in wicked men's lives? The
reason why there is so little self-condemnation, is
because there is so little self-examination.

If we were left to ourselves but for a moment—we
would destroy ourselves in that moment! We can defile
ourselves—but we cannot cleanse ourselves. The sheep
can go astray alone—but can never return to the fold,
without the assistance of the shepherd.

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

   ~  ~  ~  ~ 

Slavery to a bad husband!

(William Secker, "The Wedding Ring")

"Husbands, love your wives and do not
 be harsh with them." Colossians 3:19

If the woman is a help to the man—then
let not the man cast dirt on the woman!

Secundus treated his wife like a servant! But
surely he was a monster—and not a man! He
was fitter for a tomb to bury him—than a
to bear him!

It is evil to play 'the butcher' with that gentle
, which has no arms but for embraces.
Because they are the 'weaker vessels'—shall
we break them all to pieces?

A wife must never be sharply driven—but
sweetly drawn
. Compassion may bend her
—but compulsion will break her! Husband
and wife should act towards each other
with consent—not by constraint!

The husband must provide for the wife's
necessities. You must not be a drone—and
she a drudge! Many husbands waste that
money in luxury—which should supply their
wives necessity! They have neither the piety
of a true Christian—nor the love of a true
husband. It is a sad spectacle to see a wife
in slavery to a bad husband—who keeps
her under his fetters!

   ~  ~  ~  ~ 

All the links of the golden chain of salvation

(Thomas Brooks, "A Cabinet of Choice Jewels" 1669)

"It is by grace you have been saved!" Ephesians 2:5

All the links of the golden chain of salvation are
made up of free grace! The people of God are . . .
  freely loved, Deuteronomy 7:6-8;
  freely chosen, John 15:16-19, Ephesians 1:4;
  freely accepted, Ephesians 1:6;
  freely adopted, Ephesians 1:5, Galatians 4:5-6;
  freely reconciled, 2 Corinthians 5:18-20;
  freely justified, Romans 3:24;
  freely saved, Ephesians 2:5, 8.

Free grace is the foundation of all spiritual and eternal
mercies. Free grace is the solid bottom and foundation
of all a Christian's comfort in this world. Were we to
measure the love of God to us by . . .
  our fruitfulness,
  our holiness,
  our humbleness,
  our spiritualness,
  our heavenly-mindedness, or
  our gracious behavior towards Him
—how would our hope and our confidence be
every moment staggered—if not vanquished!

But all is of grace—of free grace! O sirs! it is free grace . . .
  which will strengthen you in all your duties,
  which will sweeten all your mercies,
  which will support you under all your changes,
  which will arm you against all temptations!

"For it is by grace you have been saved!" Ephesians 2:8

   ~  ~  ~  ~ 

God's sin-purging medicine

(Arthur Pink, "A Fourfold Salvation" 1938)

"God chastens us for our good—that we may
 share in His holiness." Hebrews 12:10

Chastening is God's sin-purging medicine, sent . . .
  to wither our fleshly aspirations,
  to detach our hearts from carnal objects,
  to deliver us from our idols, and
  to wean us more thoroughly from the world.

God has bidden us, "put to death whatever in you
is worldly: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil
desire, and greed." (Col. 3:5) If we refuse to comply
with this unpleasant task, then we may expect God
Himself to use the pruning knife upon us!

"My son, do not take the Lord's chastening lightly,
or faint when you are reproved by Him." (Heb. 12:5)
This is a beneficial warning. So far from despising the
Lord's chastening, we should be grateful for it—that
God cares so much and takes such trouble with us,
and that His bitter medicine produces such healthful
effects. "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but
painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of
righteousness and peace for those who have been
trained by it." (Hebrews 12:11)

   ~  ~  ~  ~ 

It is a sense of our pollution and filth!

(Arthur Pink, "Experimental Preaching" 1937)

Some of the evidences of God's work in the soul,
are: a lively interest in the things which concern
our eternal welfare, a trembling at God's Word
and being suitably affected thereby, hatred of sin,
loathing of self, and a childlike love for the Lord.

Ah, we never prize Divine grace so much—as
when we have been afflicted by indwelling sin.
It is a sense of our pollution and filth

which moves us to turn again to the Fountain
open for sin and for impurity!

   ~  ~  ~  ~ 

What abounding grace!

(Stephen Tyng, "Practical Meditations")

"But where sin abounded—grace did
 much more abound." Romans 5:20

What abundant grace has He displayed!

His forgiveness, how full and free it has been!
No sin remaining.

His justification, how complete!
No defect unforgiven.

His faithfulness, how unfailing!
No hour of my pilgrimage unwatched.

His forbearance, how tender!
No error of my life remembered.

His compassion, how affectionate!
No sorrow of my heart unconsoled.

His recompense, how abundant!
More than I have power to conceive.

What abounding grace has been thus
displayed to a creature so completely vile;
so destitute of all ground of hope or claim
in himself!

What an amount of guilt has He pardoned!
It is impossible to overstate this.
My original debasement,
my wayward youth,
my rejection of His love,
my rebellion against His authority,
my forgetfulness of His goodness,
my backslidings from His way,
my inconsistent profession,
my vain and sinful example,
the wickedness of my unconverted state,
the errors of my renewed state.
Alas! every day and every act brings up its
separate testimony. And all condemn me!

But He has freely pardoned!

He has blotted out this whole fearful record!

He will remember it no more!

"But where sin abounded—grace did
 much more abound." Romans 5:20

   ~  ~  ~  ~ 

Love of Jesus

(Theodore Cuyler, "Wayside Springs
from the Fountain of Life" 1883)

"The love of Christ constrains us."
    2 Corinthians 5:14

Love of Jesus is essential to Christianity.
No privations can starve it, and no burdens
can break it down. It is the core of all true
piety. It is the only cure of the reigning
worldliness and covetousness and fashion
, which have made such havoc in
too many churches.

There is only one way to be a steadfast
Christian—it is to get the heart so full of love
to Jesus—that the world, and the lusts of
the flesh, and the devil can get no foothold.

A true Christian life is the continual
consecration of our bodily powers, of our
energies, our affections, our resources,
and our influence—to Him who bought
us with His precious blood.

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of
 God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living
, holy and pleasing to God—this is
 your spiritual act of worship." Romans 12:1

   ~  ~  ~  ~ 

A Christian's ways and words

(Theodore Cuyler, "Wayside Springs
from the Fountain of Life" 1883)

"Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers
 and pilgrims—to abstain from fleshly lusts,
 which war against the soul." 1 Peter 2:11

Here on earth, I am but a pilgrim—a transient
lodger, for this world is not my rest. I am seeking
for and pressing towards, the magnificent city with
eternal foundations—a city designed and built by
Almighty God!

"Do not be conformed to this world; but
 be transformed by the renewing of your
 mind." Romans 12:2

The world around us has its unwritten code of
morals and of manners. It sets up its standards
and fixes its fashions to suit itself. But they are
no rule for the Christian. Jesus has "chosen us
out of the world," and given His own life to be
our standard and our pattern. "If you love Me,"
said our loving Redeemer, "keep My

The first question of a Christian should be,
"What does my Master command? Would He
approve my style of living, my amusements,
my temper, my whole daily conduct? If so,
that is enough! I am not to copy the behavior
of this world—when sinful customs make their
claims, or worldly seductions offer their bribes.
I am Christ's servant!"

As high as the heavens are above the earth,
so much higher should a Christian's ways
words and whole conduct—be above
the ways of the world!

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test
 me and know my thoughts. Point out anything
 in me that offends You, and lead me along the
 path of everlasting life." Psalm 139:23-24

        ~  ~  ~  ~ 

Those are not mothers—but monsters!

(William Secker, "The Wedding Ring" 1658)

"Train up a child in the way he should go—and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6

The goal of the godly mother, is that her children in the flesh—may be God's children in the spirit. A mother should be more careful of her children's pious breeding—than she should be fearful of her children's worldly bearing.

Take heed, lest these flowers grow in the devil's garden! Take heed, that though you bring them out in corruption—yet do not bring them down to damnation! Those are not mothers—but monsters—who while they are teaching their children the way to heaven with their lips—are leading them to hell with their lives!

You let out your efforts to make them great—lift up your prayers to make them godly; that before you die from them—you may see Christ live in them. While these twigs are green and tender—they should be bowed towards God.

Children are in a family—as passengers are in a boat. The husband and wife are as a pair of oars to row them to their desired haven!

Let these small pieces of timber be hewed and squared for the celestial building.

By putting a scepter of grace into their hands—you will set a crown of glory upon their heads! "Train up a child in the way he should go—and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6

   ~  ~  ~  ~ 

The black hand—must then part with its white glove!

(William Secker, "The Consistent Christian" 1660)

There is in the same rose—honey for the bee, and poison for the spider.

The same Jesus who shall say, "Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world!" will also say, "Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels!"

As both blessing and cursing proceed out of the mouth of the same man—so both blessing and cursing will come out of the mouth of the same Christ! Man's curse is a curse of wicked execration—but Christ's curse is a curse of righteous execution.

As the same wind—may send one vessel into the haven, and sink another in the ocean; so shall the same voice of Christ—doom the sinner to eternal damnation, and welcome the saint to eternal salvation! That same gate which is opened for a citizen to go abroad for recreation, may also be opened for a malefactor to go out to execution!

Reader, how sad is that tragedy—which shall never be ended! Ah, how can you hear the doleful knell—of an everlasting funeral! Will those transient glances at former prosperity, lessen the intolerable weight of eternal calamity? The wheat and the chaff may grow together—but they shall not always lie together. There may be but of a few moments of breathing, between the sinner—and his everlasting burning! The day of separation, will prove to him a day of retribution. While the wheat is secured in the garner—the tares are consumed in the fire!

Sinner, you would then give a thousand worlds—to be the companion of the godly! Then their enjoyments will be incomparably pleasant—while your torments shall be intolerably painful. The sea of damnation—will not be sweetened with a drop of compassion! If once you fall into hell—after millions of ages have elapsed—you will be as far from coming out, as you were at going in! There will not be a sinner in heaven—to interrupt the joys of saints; nor will there be a saint in hell—to soften or soothe the anguish of sinners!

How will those ministers appear—who like the dog and wolf—combine to macerate and fleece the flock! Who instead of nurturing the child—have strangled the child!

How will fair-faced, gilded professors appear—when they shall be found no better than hell's freeholders! How will they appear—when the painted sepulcher shall be opened—and the dead men's bones disclosed! They will not be judged by the whiteness of their hands—but by the blackness of their hearts! The black hand—must then part with its white glove! That solemn day of judgment, will be too critical—for the hypocritical.

~  ~  ~  ~

Your many defects and corruptions

(Arthur Pink, "Christ our Exemplar")

"Leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps." 1 Peter 2:21
Sincere believers are often cast down by the realization of how far, far short they come to measuring up to the standard which Christ has set before them. According to the yearnings of the new nature—you have sincerely endeavored to follow Christ's example, but being weak in grace and meeting with much opposition from the flesh and temptations from the Devil—you have been frequently turned aside from the holy purposes and designs of your honest hearts—to the great grief and discouragement of your souls. You can heartily say with David, "O that my ways were directed to keep Your statutes!" (Psalm 119:5), and you have tried hard and long to follow after exact holiness, "if by any means you might attain unto it." But your efforts have been repeatedly thwarted, your aspirations dashed, and you have to cry out, "O wretched man that I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin!" (Romans 7:24)

First, let us assure the genuinely exercised soul, that such defects in obedience do not invalidate your justification, or in any way affect your acceptance with, and standing before God. Your justification is not built upon your obedience—but upon Christ's. However imperfect you are in yourself, you are "complete in Him" (Col. 2:10). Woe had it been to Abraham, Moses, David, and Paul—if their justification had depended upon their own holiness and good works. Let not, then, your sad failures dampen your joy in Christ—but rather be increasingly thankful for His robe of righteousness, which hides your filthy rags!

Second, your heart-anguish over your unlikeness to Christ, evidences that you have a sincere acquaintance with the evil of your heart, a deep loathing of sin, and truly love God. The most eminent saints have made the bitterest lamentation on this account, "My sins have flooded over my head; they are a burden too heavy for me to bear. My wounds are foul and festering because of my foolishness!" (Psalm 38:4-5)

Third, the Holy Spirit makes an excellent use of your infirmities, and turns your failures unto spiritual advantages. By those very defects—He humbles you, subdues your self-righteousness, causes you to appreciate more deeply the riches of free grace, and to place a higher value upon the precious blood of the Lamb. By your many falls—He makes you to long more ardently for Heaven—and gradually reconciles you to the prospect of death. The more a holy soul is buffeted by sin and Satan—the more sincerely will he cry out, "Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest!" (Psalm 55:6). "O the blessed chemistry of Heaven, to extract such mercies—out of such miseries!" (John Flavel), to make sweet flowers—spring up out of such bitter roots!

Fourth, your bewailed infirmities do not break the bond of the Everlasting Covenant! That holds firm, notwithstanding your many defects and corruptions. "Iniquities prevail against me" said David—yet in the same breath he added, "You shall purge them away!" (Psalm 65:3)

Fifth, though the defects of your obedience are grievous to God—yet your deep sorrows for them are well-pleasing in His sight, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit—a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise!" (Psalm 51:17)

Sixth, your very grief is a conformity to Christ—for when here, He was "the Man of sorrows." If He suffered because of our sins—shall we not be made to weep over them?

Seventh, "Though God has left many defects to humble you—yet He has given many things to comfort you. This is a comfort—that your sins are not your delight as once they were—but your shame and sorrow! This is a comfort—that your case is not singular, but more or less the same complaints and sorrows are found in all gracious souls in the world!" (John Flavel)

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The counsel of the wicked

(Arthur Pink, "The Blessed Man")

Conversion is the soul's surrender to God, and acceptance of God—as Guide through this world of sin.

"Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked.
" Psalm 1:1

Notice exactly how this is expressed—it is not "does not walk in the open wickedness" nor even "the manifest folly of the wicked," but "does not walk in the counsel of the wicked." How searching that is! How it narrows things down!

The ungodly are ever ready to "counsel" the believer, seeming to be very solicitous of his welfare. They will warn him against being too strict and extreme, advising him to be broad-minded and to "make the best of both worlds." But the policy of the "ungodly"—that is, of those who leave God out of their lives, who have no "fear of God"—is regulated by self-will and self-pleasing, and is dominated by what they call "common sense."

Alas, how many professing Christians regulate their lives by the advice and suggestions of ungodly friends and relatives—heeding such "counsel" in their business career, their social life, the furnishing and decorating of their homes, their dress and diet, and the choice of school or avocation for their children!

But not so with the "blessed man." He "does not walk in the counsel of the wicked." Rather is he afraid of it, no matter how plausible it sounds, or apparently good the intention of those who offer it. He shuns it, and says "Get behind me, Satan!"

Why? Because Divine grace has taught him that he has something infinitely better to direct his steps. God has given him a Divine revelation, dictated by unerring wisdom, suited to his every need and circumstance, designed as a "lamp unto his feet and a light unto his path." His desire and his determination is to walk by the wholesome counsel of God, and not by the corrupt counsel of the ungodly.

The "blessed man" does not walk according to the maxims of the world. "But his delight is in the Law of the Lord." "The carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the Law of God" (Romans 8:7). The worldling seeks his "delight" in the entertainment furnished by those who scorn spiritual and eternal things. Not so the "blessed" man—his "delight" is in something infinitely superior to what this perishing world can supply, namely, in the Divine Scriptures. The unregenerate delight in pleasing self—but the joy of the Christian lies in pleasing God. His Word is the daily bread of the "blessed" man.

"And in His Law, he meditates day and night" (Psalm 1:2). Thereby does he evidence his "delight" therein—for where his treasure is, there is his heart also! Here, then, is the occupation of the blessed man. The voluptuary thinks only of satisfying his senses; the giddy youth is concerned only with sports and pleasures; the man of the world directs all his energies to the securing of wealth and honors; but the "blessed" man's determination is to please God, and in order to obtain a better knowledge of His will, he meditates day and night in His holy Word. Thereby is light obtained, its sweetness extracted, and the soul nourished!

"Your Words were found, and I ate them; and Your Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart!" (Jeremiah 15:16). Meditation stands to reading—as digestion does to eating. It is as God's Word is pondered by the mind, turned over and over in the thoughts, and mixed with faith—that we assimilate it. That which most occupies the mind and most constantly engages our thoughts—is what we most "delight" in.

"He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season." Fruit is an essential character of a gracious man, for there are no fruitless branches in the true Vine. "In season," for all fruits do not appear in the same month, neither are all the graces of the Spirit produced simultaneously.
Times of trial—call for faith.
Times of suffering—call for patience.
Times of disappointment—call for meekness.
Times of danger—call for courage.
Times of blessings—call for thanksgiving.
Times of prosperity—call for joy.

How far, dear reader, do you resemble this "blessed man"?

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His Father's hand

(Arthur Pink, "Divine Providence")

"How countless are Your works, O Lord! In wisdom You have made them all; the earth is full of Your creatures! Here is the sea, vast and wide, teeming with creatures beyond number—living things both large and small. All of them wait for You to give them their food at the right time. When You give it to them, they gather it; when You open Your hand, they are satisfied with good things. When You hide Your face, they are terrified; when You take away their breath, they die and return to the dust!" Psalm 104:24, 25, 27-29

The providence of God is His care of and provision which He makes for His creatures; with His supervision and superintendence of them.  The providence of God in His government of the world is a subject of deep importance to the Christian, for by proper views thereof, he will learn to see God's activities—in the daily works of His hands. Yet, though Christians assent to this truth, nevertheless they are prone to overlook it in exercise, and thereby to be deprived in great measure of that poise of mind and comfort of heart, which a deep and constant improvement of this doctrine is calculated to impart.

Nothing is more strengthening to faith, stabilizing to the mind, and tranquilizing to the heart of a Christian—than for him to be enabled to discern his Father's hand guiding, shaping, and controlling everything which enters his life; and not only so, but that He is also governing this world, and all people and events in it. Alas, we are living in an age of terrible skepticism, when most of what happens is attributed to natural causes, while God is more and more banished from the world, in the consideration of His creatures. It is not only a fact that God governs the world in a general sense, but He also regulates all its affairs, and controls all creatures in it, "working all things after the counsel of His own will" (Ephesians 1:11).

God is not troubled by anything that is now taking place in His world—either in its political, social, or religious sphere; nor should we be troubled. The helm is still in His hand; and Satan himself cannot so much as touch a hair of our heads, without His direct permission.

"We ought to see the hand of God in the most trifling things. Nothing is so small as to be below His attention! Nothing is too great for His Providence to effect!" Carson

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The Devil's Delusion

(Arthur Pink, "Another Gospel")

"If our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ." 2 Corinthians 4:3

Satan blinds the minds of unbelievers through hiding the light of the Gospel of Christ, and he does this by substituting his own gospel. Appropriately he designated, "that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray!" (Revelation 12:9)

The gospel of Satan is not a program of anarchy. It does not promote strife and war—but aims at peace and unity. It does not seek to drag down the natural man—but to improve and uplift him. It advocates education and cultivation, and appeals to the "best that is within us." It endeavors to occupy man so much with this world—that he has no time or inclination to think of the world to come. It propagates the principles of self-sacrifice, charity and benevolence; and teaches us to live for the good of others, and to be kind to all. It appeals strongly to the carnal mind and is popular with the masses, because it ignores the solemn facts—that by nature man is a fallen creature, alienated from the life of God, dead in trespasses and sins, and that his only hope lies in being born again.

The gospel of Satan teaches salvation by works. It inculcates justification before God, on the ground of human merits. It is a bloodless gospel, and presents a crossless Christ, who is received merely, as the Ideal Man.

The apostles of Satan are not saloon-keepers and white-slave traffickers—but are for the most part ordained ministers! Their message may sound very plausible, and their aim appear very praiseworthy—yet we read of them, "For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness." (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

In Proverbs 14:12 we read, "There is a way that seems right to a man—but in the end it leads to death." This "way" which ends in "death" is the Devil's Delusion—the gospel of Satan—a way of salvation by human attainment. It is a way which "seems right," that is to say, it is presented in such a plausible way that it appeals to the natural man. It is set forth in such a subtle and attractive manner, that it commends itself to the minds of its hearers. By virtue of the fact that it appropriates to itself religious terminology, sometimes appeals to the Bible for its support (whenever this suits its purpose), holds up before men lofty ideals, and is proclaimed by those who have graduated from our theological institutions, countless multitudes are decoyed and deceived by it!

It as been said with considerable truth, that the way to Hell is paved with good intentions. There will be many in the Lake of Fire who lived with good intentions, honest resolutions and exalted ideals; who were just in their dealings and charitable in all their ways; men who prided themselves in their integrity—but who sought to justify themselves before God by their own righteousness; men who were moral and kind—but who never saw themselves as guilty, lost, hell-deserving sinners, needing a Savior. Such is the way which "seems right." Such is the way that commends itself to the carnal mind and recommends itself to multitudes of deluded ones today. The Devil's Delusion is that we can be saved by our own works, and justified by our own deeds!

"He saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy." Titus 3:5

~  ~  ~  ~

God's mill

(William Gurnall, 1660)

The greatest miracle in the world is God's patience and bounty—to an ungrateful and rebellious world!

If a king has an enemy fortified in one of his towns, he does not send them provisions—but lays heavy siege to the town, and does what he can to starve them. But the great God, who could wink all His enemies into destruction, bears with them, and is at daily cost to maintain them!

But do not think, O sinners, that you shall finally escape! God's mill goes slow—but grinds small! The more admirable His patience and bounty now is—the more dreadful and unsupportable will that fury be—which arises out of His abused goodness. Nothing is smoother than the sea; yet when stirred into a tempest, nothing rages more! Just so, nothing is so sweet as the patience and goodness of God—and nothing is so dreadful as His wrath when it takes fire!

"Because of your hardness and unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed." Romans 2:5

~  ~  ~  ~

Growing worse and worse!

(Arthur Pink, "A Fourfold Salvation" 1938)

By nature we are thoroughly in love with ourselves—but as the Divine work of grace is carried forward in our souls, we come to loathe ourselves. Those who have been saved  from penalty of sin, are being made increasingly conscious not only of sin's polluting presence, but of its tyrannizing power!

How can we explain the fact, that the Christian finds himself growing worse and worse—the more closely he endeavors to walk with God? The answer is because of increased light from God, by which he now discovers heart-filth of which he was previously unaware. The sun shining into a neglected room, does not create the dust and cobwebs—but simply reveals them. Thus it is with the Christian. The more the light of the Spirit is turned upon him inwardly, the more he discovers the horrible plague of his heart (1 Kings 8:38), and the more he realizes what a wretched failure he is!

The fact is, dear discouraged soul, that the more you are growing out of love with yourself, the more you are being saved from the power of sin. Wherein lies its fearful potency? Why, in its power to deceive us. It lies to us. It did so to Adam and Eve. It gives us false estimates of values so that we mistake the tinsel for real gold. To be saved from the power of sin is to have our eyes opened so that we see things in God's light—it is to know the truth about things all around us, and the truth about ourselves.

But further—sin not only deceives, it puffs up, causing its infatuated victims to think highly of themselves. Sin ever produces self-love and self-righteousness. But when God takes us in hand, it is the very opposite—the workings of the Spirit subdue our pride. How? By giving increasing discoveries of SELF and of the exceeding sinfulness of SIN, so that each one cries with Job, "Behold! I am vile!" (40:4). Such a one is being saved from the power of sin—its power to deceive and to inflate.

~  ~  ~  ~

He shall save His people from their sins

(Arthur Pink, "A Fourfold Salvation" 1938)

"You shall call His name Jesus—for He shall save His people from their sins" Matthew 1:21

Our salvation from the pleasure of sin is effected by Christ's taking up His abode in our hearts, "Christ lives in me" (Gal. 2:20). Our salvation from the penalty of sin was secured by Christ's sufferings on the Cross where He endured the punishment due our iniquities. Our salvation from the power of sin is obtained by the gracious operations of the Spirit, whom Christ sends to His people. Our salvation from the presence of sin will be accomplished at Christ's second advent, "We are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for Him to return as our Savior. He will take these weak mortal bodies of ours and change them into glorious bodies like His own!" (Phil. 3:20, 21). And again we are told, "We know that when He shall appear—we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (1 John 3:2). It is all of Christ, from beginning to end!

Salvation from the pleasure or love of sin takes place at our regeneration; salvation from the penalty or punishment of sin occurs at our justification; salvation from the power or dominion of sin is accomplished during our practical sanctification; salvation from the presence or indwelling of sin is consummated at our glorification.

"You shall call His name Jesus—for He shall save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). First, He shall save them from the pleasure or love of sin by bestowing a nature which hates it—this is the great miracle of grace. Second, He shall save them from the penalty or punishment of sin, by remitting all its guilt—this is the grand marvel of grace. Third, He shall save them from the power or dominion of sin, by the workings of His Spirit—this reveals the wondrous might of grace. Fourth, He shall save them from the presence or indwelling of sin—this will demonstrate the glorious magnitude of grace!

~  ~  ~  ~

The golden idol is but clay after all!

(Arthur Pink, "A Fourfold Salvation" 1938)

God delivers us from the love and pollution of sin—by bitter disappointments. God has plainly warned us of the vanity of all earthly pursuits. "When I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 2:11) This was written by one who was permitted to gratify the physical senses as no other ever has. Yet we do not take this warning to heart, for we do not really believe it. On the contrary, we persuade ourselves that satisfaction is to be found in things under the sun—that the creature can give contentment to our hearts. As well attempt to fill a circle with a square! The heart was made for God—and He alone can meet its needs. But by nature we are idolaters, putting things in His place. Those things we invest with pleasing qualities which they do not possess, and sooner or later our delusions are rudely exposed to us, and we discover that the pleasing images in our minds are only dreams—that the golden idol is but clay after all!

God may so order His providences, that our earthly nest is destroyed. The winds of adversity compel us to leave the downy bed of carnal ease and luxury. Grievous losses are experienced in some form or other. Trusted friends prove fickle, and in the hour of need fail us. The family circle, which had so long sheltered us and where peace and happiness were found, is broken up by the grim hand of death. Health fails, and weary nights are our portion. These trying experiences, these bitter disappointments, are another of the means which our gracious God employs to save us from the love and pollution of sin. By them, He reveals to us the vanity and vexation of the creature. By them, He weans us more completely from the world. By them, He teaches us that the objects in which we sought satisfaction, are but "broken cisterns," —that we may turn to Christ and draw from Him who is the living water, the One who alone can supply true satisfaction of soul.

~  ~  ~  ~

He was a constant thorn in their sides!

(Arthur Pink, "Christ Despised" 1937)

"He was despised and rejected by men." Isaiah 53:3

Another reason why Christ was despised and rejected, was because He exposed and denounced sin. Ah, this explains why Christ was not wanted here. He was a constant thorn in their sides! His holiness condemned their unholiness! Men wish to go their own way, to please themselves, to gratify their lusts. They want to be comfortable in their wickedness—therefore they resent one who searches the heart, pierces the conscience, and rebukes their evil. Christ was absolutely uncompromising. He would not wink at wrong-doing, but unsparingly denounced it, in whoever it was found. He boldly affirmed, "For judgment I have come into this world" (John 9:41), that is, to unveil men's secret characters, to prove they are blind in spiritual things, to demonstrate they loved darkness rather than light. His Person and preaching tried everything and everyone He came into contact with!

~  ~  ~  ~

This so riled them!

(Arthur Pink, "Christ Despised" 1937)

"He was despised and rejected by men." Isaiah 53:3

Another reason why Christ was despised and rejected, was because He repudiated empty profession. Nothing so infuriated the Jews, as Christ's exposure and denunciation of their vain pretensions.

Being omniscient—it was impossible to impose upon Him! Being inflexibly righteous—He could not accept deceptions! Being absolutely holy—He must insist upon sincerity and reality. When they declared "Abraham is our father!" He answered, "If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham!" When they added "We have one Father, even God," He replied, "If God were your Father, you would love Me . . . you are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do!" This so riled them, that they exclaimed, "Aren't we right in saying that You are a Samaritan and demon-possessed!" (John 8:39-48).

Men will not tolerate One who pierces their religious disguise, exposes their shams, and repudiates their fair, but empty profession!

~  ~  ~  ~

Religious superstitions!

(Arthur Pink, "Christ Despised" 1937)

"He was despised and rejected by men." Isaiah 53:3

One reason why Christ was despised and rejected, was because He denounced religious traditions. Despite the Fall, man is essentially a religious creature. The peoples of the world pay homage to gods of their own devising; and there are few things on which they are more sensitive—than their religious superstitions! He who condemns or even criticizes the devotees of any religious belief or practice—will be greatly disliked.

Christ drew upon Himself the hatred of Israel's leaders, by His denunciation of their religious inventions. "Jesus replied—And why do you break the command of God—for the sake of your tradition?" Matthew 15:3

"See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ." Colossians 2:8

~  ~  ~  ~

I asked the Lord that I might grow

(Arthur Pink, "Experimental Preaching" 1937)

"Make Your ways known to me, Lord; teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me." Psalm 25:4-5

There are two ways of learning of Divine things. The one is to acquire a letter knowledge of them from the Bible, the other is to be given an actual experience of them in the soul, under the Spirit's teaching.

Many suppose that by spending a few minutes in a concordance, they can discover what humility is; that by studying certain passages of Scriptures, they may obtain an increase of faith; or that by reading and re-reading a certain chapter, they may secure more love.

But that is not the way those graces are experimentally developed. Humility is learned by a daily smarting under the plague of the heart, and having its innumerable abominations exposed to our view. Repentance is learned by feeling the load of guilt, and the heavy burden of conscious defilement, bowing down the soul. Faith is learned by increasing discoveries of unbelief and infidelity. Love is learned by a personal sense of the undeserved goodness of God to the vilest of the vile. Patience cannot be learned from books—it is acquired in the furnace of affliction! It is thus with all the spiritual graces of the Christian.

Ah, my reader, we beg the Lord to teach us—but the fact is, that we do not like His method of teaching us! Fiery trials, storms of afflictions, the dashing of our carnal hopes—are indeed painful to flesh and blood; yet it is by them that the heart is purified.

We say that we wish to live to God's glory—but fail to remember that we can do so only as SELF is denied and the Cross be taken up. God's ways of teaching His children are, like all His ways, entirely different from ours!

I asked the Lord that I might grow,
In faith and love and every grace,
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek more earnestly His face.

It was He who taught me thus to pray,
And He I trust has answered prayer.
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair!

I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He'd answer my request.
And by His love's constraining power,
Subdue my sins and give me rest!

Instead of this, He made me feel,
The hidden evils of my heart.
And let the angry powers of hell,
Assault my soul in every part!

Yes, more with His own hand, He seemed,
Intent to aggravate my woe.
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low!

"Lord, why is this?" I trembling cried.
Will You pursue Your worm to death?"
"This is the way" the Lord replied,
"I answer prayer for grace and strength."

"These inward trials I employ,
From self, and pride, to set you free;
And break your schemes of earthly joy,
That you may find your all in Me!"
    —John Newton

~  ~  ~  ~

A Morning Prayer

(by S. E. Pierce, 1820)

We again draw near unto You, O Lord our God, beseeching You to grant us audience with Your Divine majesty. We appear before You in the name and Person, righteousness and sacrifice, intercession and advocacy of the holy and immaculate Lamb. At Your throne of grace, as the monuments of Your sacred mercy, we desire to extol and praise Your most holy name.

O Lord, we have nothing in ourselves—but sin. We are all impurity—to us belong shame and confusion of face. We are in the uttermost sense—lost, undone, sinful, guilty, and vile. We entreat You to behold us in Christ Jesus. View us in Him, O Lord.

O let our souls be under the mighty, all-constraining, all-conquering influence of Your everlasting love today. We beg You to keep us this day from sinning against You. Lord, we are in ourselves, and when left to ourselves—as unstable as water. O support us. O defend us. O be near unto us this day, and uphold us with the right hand of Your righteousness.

Lord, we are full of sin; O lead us to the fountain opened for sin and impurity! We are all emptiness in ourselves. Lord, lead us to the fullness of Jesus for the supply of all our needs.

Blessed God and Father, do most graciously sympathize with us. Guide us with Your eye. O keep us near Yourself. Allow no iniquity to have dominion over us; save us from ourselves! Save us, O Lord, from our constitutional sins, tempers, and corruptions. O let them be kept under control, and subdued by the omnipotent power of Your grace.

We beseech You, O Holy Spirit, to bring our minds and hearts under the mighty power of all-conquering grace. O Lord, let not sin, nor Satan, prevail against us. We leave ourselves with You, Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

~  ~  ~  ~

Keep watch over the door of my lips!

(Arthur Pink, "Evil Speaking" 1935)

"Do not speak evil against each other, brethren." James 4:11

That which is here forbidden, is the saying of anything, be it true or false, to the harm of another. God requires that our words should be governed by "the law of kindness" (Proverbs 31:26), and anything which would hurt or injure the reputation of another, is to be rigidly shunned. Whenever I cannot speak well of my brother or sister, I must say nothing at all. To speak evil of others, proceeds from ill will or malice—desiring that they should be made odious in the esteem of others.

It is devilish to take delight in exposing the faults of fellow-Christians, and stirring up prejudice and bitter feelings against them (Rev. 12:10). God requires that our words should agree with love—as well as with truth. Since Christians are brethren, the last thing they should be guilty of is defaming one another!

Except where the glory of God plainly requires it, and the good of that person demands it—we must refrain from all evil speaking of others. If we are duly occupied with and humbled over our own many faults—we shall have neither time nor inclination to dwell upon or publish those of others! If we properly heed the exhortation of Philippians 4:8, we shall cultivate the habit of admiring the graces in our brethren—instead of being like filthy flies, settling on their sores!

Well may we pray, "Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord! Keep watch over the door of my lips!" Psalm 141:3

~  ~  ~  ~

The spy-glass of faith!

(Theodore Cuyler, "Words of Cheer for Christian Pilgrims")

"This is not your resting place, because it is defiled, it is ruined, beyond all remedy!" Micah 2:10. This world is not our rest. It is only—our temporary lodging-place, our battle-ground to fight sin and Satan, our vineyard in which to labor for our Master until sundown, our training-school for the development of character and growth in grace.

In a little while, perhaps within a few days for some of us—the veil which hides the eternal world may drop—and the gates of the Father's house may open before our astonished vision! If heaven is ready for Christ's redeemed people—then surely they should be making ready for heaven. We ought to think more about our everlasting home. If our treasures are there, then our hearts should be there also—in frequent and joyful anticipations.

A Christian, to whom Jesus Christ is real, and the glories of the world to come are real, and who has set his affections set on things above—must inevitably have some deep meditations about his eternal home, and his magnificent inheritance. He loves to read about it, and gathers up eagerly the few grand, striking things which his Bible tells him about that glorious City of God.

Sometimes, when cares press heavily, or bodily pains wax sharp, or bereavements darken his house—he gets homesick, and he says, "Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest!" Psalm 55:6

Such devout meditations do not prove any Christian to be a dreamy mystic. They are not the pious sentimentalizings of mourners to whom this world has lost all its charm; nor of enthusiasts whose religion evaporates in mere emotion. The hundred-handed Paul constantly reminds his fellow-workers that "Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ!" Philippians 3:20

It is no wonder that some professors do not catch more distinct glimpses of the celestial world—as their vision is obscured. A very small object when held close to the eye—will hide the noonday sun. Just so, a professor may hold a dollar so close to the eye of his soul—as to shut out both Christ and heaven!

Fish shut up in a dark cavern for a long time—become blind. In the same way, we will lose the faculty of spiritual sight—if we shut ourselves up in a cavern of carking worldliness!

Those whose hearts are in heaven, and who keep it constantly before their view, have abundant sources of spiritual joy. They renew their strength as they push upward and heavenward. What is it to them—
  that the road is long;
  that the hills of difficulty are steep;
  that there are often lions in the way;
  that there are crosses to be carried;
  and that not far ahead—is that river of
over which there is no bridge!
None of these things disturb them! Heaven lies at the end of the way—clothed in its glorious light! From the hilltops they can, with the spy-glass of faith, bring heaven so near—that they can see its gates, and its streets of shining gold, and the Lamb on His throne!

These views of our imperishable inheritance of glory, ought to quicken our zeal greatly. The time is short—and shortening every day! It is certain, that he who doesn't love Christ—doesn't love heaven; and he who doesn't love heaven—will never see heaven.

A godly life is just a tarrying and a toiling in this earthly tent for Christ—until we go into the heavenly mansions with Christ! Brethren! the miles to heaven are few and short; let us be found busy in heart and hand when the summons sounds, "Come up here!" And they rose to heaven! Revelation 11:12

~  ~  ~  ~

The stunted professor

(Theodore Cuyler, "Beulah-Land" or, "Words of Cheer for Christian Pilgrims", 1896)

"The righteous will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green." Psalm 92:12-14

The first quality of the cedar—is that it GROWS. It is a live tree. Where there is hearty life—there must be growth. It is the lamentable lack of inward godliness, which makes the stunted professor. There is not vitalizing sap enough in his heart-roots to reach up into the boughs of his outward conduct. There is not vigor enough in the trunk of his character, to stand erect. No showers brought down by fervent prayer, cleanse the dust of worldliness from his yellow, sicklied leaves.

There he is—just as he set out in the church a score of years ago—no larger, no broader, no brighter in graces than he was then! The caterpillars of lust have spun their unsightly webs all over his branches. He has not grown an inch—in any one Bible trait. He has not yielded one single fruit of the Spirit. He is a cumberer of the ground—fit only to be cut down. He is all the while drinking up God's pure air and water—and yet fulfilling Satan's purpose! Not of such a prayer-neglecting professor, not of such a time-serving, money-loving, fashion-worshiping professor, could we honestly say, "He grows like a cedar in Lebanon."

~  ~  ~  ~

Right and wrong praying

(Theodore Cuyler, "Wayside Springs
 from the Fountain of Life" 1883)

The richest blessing that prayer can bring—is to bring us into closer communion and agreement with the all-holy and the all-loving God. The very first essential to all right prayer—is unconditional submissiveness to God's will.

"Find your happiness in God—and He will give you the askings of your heart." This is the exact rendering of Psalm 37:4, and it throws a flood of light upon the important question of—what is right prayer—and what is wrong prayer. A great deal of prayer is born of selfishness, and takes on the airs of dictating to our Heavenly Father. It is not humble supplication, born of a devout, submissive spirit; but it amounts to a demand. God's promises to His children are not unconditional; and we may not presume to dictate to the God of wisdom and of love.

What is laid down distinctly, as the indispensable quality of right asking in the above quoted verse? It is a right feeling towards God. When a soul comes into such an entire submissiveness towards God that it can honestly say, "Nevertheless, not as I will—but as You will;" when that soul delights in seeing God reign, and in seeing His glory advanced—then its desires will be so purified from the dregs of selfishness, that they may be fearlessly poured out before God. In this frame of unselfish submissiveness, the soul may indeed come boldly to the throne of grace, and ask for grace suited to its every need. The desires of God—and the desires of a sincere Christly soul, will then agree. God loves to give to those—who love to be submissive to Him. They are as willing to accept His "no" as His "yes," for they are seeking not their own desires and glory—but His!  As a kind father loves to grant the reasonable requests of a dutiful son, so does our Heavenly Father love to grant righteous and reasonable requests of His children!

A man stands in a row-boat out on a lake, and pulls upon a line attached to the shore. His pull does not move the solid ground one hair's breadth—but it does move his boat towards the land. In like manner, when I attach the line of my desire, fast to the everlasting throne, my faith does not expect to move the throne—but to draw me closer to it. When I get more and more into harmony with God—I receive all that my heart most desires. Finding my happiness in Christ—I am satisfied. Money, health, promotion, ease, and all kindred worldly cravings, are only lawful—when they are subordinated to God's higher desires for me.

The question now arises, What are right desires? As far as my ignorance has been enlightened by the Word, I would reply that every desire is a right one—which aims only to please God—and not SELF. Grace does not forbid desires—but it purifies and directs our desires.

Nay, the Bible exhorts us to "eagerly desire the greater gifts." 1 Corinthians 12:28. Wisdom from above, strength for the hour of need, faith, grace, love and kindred blessings, are in harmony with God's promises. These are the very things which God has told us to covet!

Our Heavenly Father does not hand the reins over to us—when our selfishness grasps after them. Nor does He allow our ignorance to be the judge of what is best for us. He often surprises us by sending something better than what we petitioned for. But infinitely the best thing which He can give us—is His favor and grace. If we find our supreme happiness in these—oh, how our souls are purified from all base, selfish, wayward, and wicked desires! And with what banqueting on His love, and with what foretastes of heaven—are our best askings answered!

~  ~  ~  ~

Let me no longer waste my time

(Hannah More, "The Book of Private Devotion")

Almighty God, I adore Your infinite patience, which has  not cut me off in the midst of my follies; I magnify Your wonderful goodness, which has spared me thus long. Let me no longer abuse that precious treasure—time, which you have allotted me as a proper season to work out my own salvation, and secure that happiness which is great in itself, and infinite in its duration.

Let me bid adieu to all those vain amusements, those trifling entertainments and sinful diversions, which have robbed me of many valuable hours, and endangered the loss of my immortal soul. Let me no longer waste my time in ease and pleasure, in unprofitable studies, and more unprofitable conversation; but grant, that, by diligence and honesty in my calling, by constancy and fervor in my devotions, by moderation and temperance in my enjoyments, by justice and charity in all my words and actions, and by keeping a conscience void of offence to God and man—I may be able to give a good account in the day of judgment, and be accepted in and through the merits of Jesus Christ, my only mediator and advocate.