Grace Gems for MARCH 2009
Those ghastly corpses might well have affrighted Rizpah!
"Then Rizpah, the mother of two of the men, spread sackcloth on a rock and stayed there the entire harvest season. She prevented vultures from tearing at their bodies during the day, and stopped wild animals from eating them at night." 2 Samuel 21:10
If the love of a woman to her slain sons, could make her prolong her mournful vigil for so long a period—shall we be weary of considering the sufferings of our blessed Lord? She drove away the vultures—and shall not we chase away those worldly and sinful thoughts which defile our minds? Away, you evil birds! Leave the sacrifice alone!
Rizpah bore the scorching heat of summer, the night dews and the rains, unsheltered and alone. Sleep was chased from her weeping eyes—for her heart was too full for slumber. Behold how she loved her children! Shall Rizpah thus endure—and shall we give up at the first little inconvenience or trial? Are we such cowards—that we cannot bear to suffer with our Lord? She even chased away the wild beasts, with courage unusual in her gender—and will not we be ready to encounter every foe for Jesus' sake?
Her children were slain by other hands than hers—and yet she wept and watched. What ought we to do—who by our sins, have crucified our Lord! Our obligations are boundless, our love should be fervent, and our repentance thorough!
Those ghastly corpses might well have affrighted Rizpah! But in our Lord, at whose cross-foot we are sitting, there is nothing revolting—but everything attractive! Never was living beauty so enchanting, as a dying Savior! To abide by His cross—will be our solace.
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He is dull, heavy, lumpy—all but dead
"Turn away my eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken me in Your way." Psalm 119:37
"Turn away my eyes from beholding vanity."
There are diverse kinds of vanity. The cap and bells of the fool; the mirth of the world; the dance and the cup of the dissolute. All these we know to be vanities; they wear their proper name and title upon their forefront. Far more treacherous, are those equally vain things—the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches. A man may follow vanity as truly in his business—as in the theater! If he is spending his life in amassing wealth—he passes his days in a vain show. Unless we follow Christ, and make our God the great object of life—we only differ in appearance, from the most frivolous. It is clear that there is much need of the first prayer of our text.
"Quicken me in Your way."
The Psalmist confesses that he is dull, heavy, lumpy—all but dead. Perhaps, dear reader, you feel the same. We are so sluggish that the best motives cannot quicken us, apart from the Lord Himself. What! will not hell quicken me? Shall I think of sinners perishing—and yet not be awakened? Will not heaven quicken me? Can I think of the glory that awaits the righteous—and yet be cold? Will not death quicken me? Can I think of dying, and standing before my God—and yet be slothful in my Master's service? Will not Christ's love constrain me? Can I think of His dear wounds, can I sit at the foot of His cross—and not be stirred with fervency and zeal? It seems so! No mere consideration can quicken us to zeal—but God Himself must do it, hence the cry, "Quicken me!"
The Psalmist breathes out his whole soul in vehement pleadings—his body and his soul unite in prayer. "Turn away my eyes," says the body. "Quicken me," cries the soul. This is a fit prayer for every day. O Lord, hear it in my case this day.
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A little thing?
Beware of light thoughts of sin. It is sadly true, that even a Christian may grow by degrees so callous, that the sin which once startled him—no longer alarms him in the least. We palliate and excuse our sin; we throw a cloak over it; we call it by dainty names.
Sin, a little thing? Is it not a poison! Who knows its deadliness!
Sin, a little thing? Do not the little foxes—spoil the grapes? Does not the tiny coral insect—build a rock which wrecks a navy? Do not little strokes—fell lofty oaks? Will not continual droppings—wear away stones?
Sin, a little thing? It girded your Redeemer's head with thorns—and pierced His heart! It made Him suffer anguish, bitterness, and woe! Could you weigh the least sin in the scales of eternity—you would fly from it as from a serpent, and abhor the least appearance of evil. Look upon all sin as that which crucified your Savior—and you will see it to be "exceeding sinful."
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If I might but get the broken crumbs!
"They feast on the abundance of Your house; You give them drink from Your river of delights!" Psalm 36:8
The Queen of Sheba was amazed at the sumptuousness of Solomon's table. She was overwhelmed when she saw the provisions of a single day; and she marveled equally at the company of servants who were feasted at the royal table. But what is this, compared to the feast provided by the God of grace! Thousands of His people are daily fed there! Hungry and thirsty—they bring large appetites with them to the banquet—but not one of them return unsatisfied! There is enough for each, enough for all, enough for evermore!
Though the multitude which feeds at Jehovah's table is as countless as the sands of the sea—yet each one has his portion of food. Think how much grace one Christian requires—so much that nothing but the Infinite God could supply him for one day! And yet the Lord spreads His table, not for one—but many saints; not for one day—but for many years; not for many years only—but for generation after generation!
Observe the full feasting spoken of in the text, the guests at mercy's banquet are satisfied, nay, more "they feast;" and that not with ordinary fare—but "on the abundance of Your house"—the special abundance of God's own house! And such feasting is guaranteed by a faithful promise—to all those who are sheltered under the shadow of Jehovah's wings.
I once thought, that if I might but get the broken crumbs at God's back door of grace—that I would be satisfied; like the woman who said, "even the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from the master's table." But no child of God is ever served with scraps and leftovers! Like Mephibosheth, they all feast from the King's own table. In matters of grace, we all have Benjamin's portion—we all have ten times more than we could have expected! And though our necessities are great—yet are we often amazed at the marvelous plenty of grace, which God gives us experimentally to enjoy!
"They feast on the abundance of Your house; You give them drink from Your river of delights!" Psalm 36:8
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Do you understand what you read?
"Do you understand what you read?" Acts 8:30
We would be abler teachers of others, and less liable to be carried about by every wind of doctrine—if we sought to have a more intelligent understanding of the Word of God. As the Holy Spirit, the Author of the Scriptures, is He who alone can enlighten us rightly to understand them, we should constantly ask His teaching, and His guidance into all truth.
When the prophet Daniel would interpret Nebuchadnezzar's dream, what did he do? He set himself to earnest prayer that God would open up the vision. The apostle John, in his vision at Patmos, saw a book sealed with seven seals which none was found worthy to open, or so much as to look upon. The book was afterwards opened by the Lion of the tribe of Judah; but it is written first, "I wept much!" The tears of John, which were his liquid prayers, were, so far as he was concerned, the sacred keys by which the sealed book was opened!
Therefore, if, for your own and others' profiting, you desire to be "filled with the knowledge of God's will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding," remember that prayer is your best means of study! Like Daniel, you shall understand the dream, and the interpretation thereof—when you have sought unto God; and like John you shall see the seven seals of precious truth unloosed—after you have wept much.
Stones are not broken, except by an earnest use of the hammer; and the stone-breaker must go down on his knees. Use the hammer of diligence, and let the knee of prayer be exercised—and there is not a stony doctrine in Scripture, which is useful for you to understand, which will not fly into shivers under the exercise of prayer and faith! You may force your way through anything—with the leverage of prayer. Prayer is the lever which forces open the iron chest of sacred mystery, that we may get the treasure hidden within! So shall you grow healthy, strong, and happy in the divine life!
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Look up today, O parched plant!
"I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing." Ezekiel 34:26
Here is sovereign grace, "I will send down showers." Is it not sovereign, divine mercy—for who can say, "I will send down showers," except God? There is only one voice which can speak to the clouds, and bid them beget the rain, "Who sends down the rain upon the earth? Who scatters the showers upon the green herb? Do not I, the Lord?" Grace is the gift of God—and is not to be created by man.
It is also needed grace. What would the ground do without showers? You may break the clods, you may sow your seeds—but what can you do without the rain? As absolutely needful, is the divine blessing. In vain you labor—until God bestows the plenteous shower, and sends the needed grace down!
Then, it is plenteous grace. "I will send down showers." It does not say, "I will send them drops," but "showers." So it is with grace. If God gives a blessing, He usually gives it in such a measure that there is not room enough to receive it. Plenteous grace! Ah! we need plenteous grace . . .
to keep us humble,
to make us prayerful,
to make us holy,
to make us zealous,
to preserve us through this life,
and at last to land us in heaven!
We cannot do without saturating showers of grace!
Again, it is seasonable grace. "I will send down showers in season." What is your season this morning? Is it the season of drought? Then that is the season for showers. Is it a season of great heaviness and black clouds? Then that is the season for showers. "I will send down showers in season."
And here is a varied grace. "I will give you showers of blessing." The word is in the plural. All kinds of blessings God will send. All God's blessings go together, like links in a golden chain. If He gives converting grace, He will also give comforting grace. He will send "showers of blessing." Look up today, O parched plant—and open your leaves and flowers for a heavenly watering!
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The grand object of the eye of faith!
"We fix our eyes not on what is seen—but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal!" 2 Corinthians 4:18
In our Christian pilgrimage it is well, for the most part—to be looking forward. Forward lies the crown—and onward is the goal. Whether it is for hope, for joy, for consolation, or for the inspiring of our love—the future must, after all, be the grand object of the eye of faith!
Looking into the future—the Christian sees sin cast out, the body of sin and death destroyed, the soul made perfect, and fit to be a partaker of eternal glory. Looking further yet, the believer's enlightened eye can see death's river passed. He sees himself . . .
enter within the pearly gates,
hailed as more than conqueror,
crowned by the hand of Christ,
embraced in the arms of Jesus,
glorified with Him, and
made to sit together with Him on His throne!
Contemplation of my glorious future may well relieve,
the darkness of the past, and
the gloom of the present!
The joys of heaven will surely compensate for the sorrows of earth!
Hush, hush, my fears!
Death is but a narrow stream—and you shall soon have forded it!
Death—how brief! Immortality—how endless!
Time—how short! Eternity—how long!
The road is so, so short! I shall soon be there!
"In the future, there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day; and not only to me—but to all those who have loved His appearing!" 2 Timothy 4:8
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A portion for each day
"Jehoiachin changed his prison clothes—and he dined regularly in the presence of the king of Babylon for the rest of his life. As for his allowance, a regular allowance was given to him by the king, a portion for each day, for the rest of his life." 2 Kings 25:29-30
Jehoiachin was not sent away from the king's palace with a 'supply' to last him for months—but his provision was given him as a daily pension. Herein he well pictures the happy position of all the Lord's people. A daily portion is all that a man really needs. We do not need tomorrow's portion; for that day has not yet dawned, and its needs are as yet unborn. The thirst which we may suffer in the month of June—does not need to be quenched in February, for we do not feel it yet. If we have enough for each day as the days arrive—we shall never know want. Sufficient for the day—is all that we can enjoy.
We cannot eat or wear more than the day's supply of food and clothing. Any surplus gives us the care of storing it, and the anxiety of watching against a thief. One staff aids a traveler—but a bundle of staffs is a heavy burden. Enough is not only as good as a feast—but is all that the greatest glutton can truly enjoy. Enough is all that we should expect—a craving for more than this, is ungrateful. When our Father does not give us more—we should be content with His daily allowance.
Jehoiachin's case is ours—we have . . .
a sure portion;
a portion given to us by the King;
a gracious portion;
and a perpetual portion.
Here is surely ground for thankfulness.
Beloved Christian reader, in matters of grace—you need a daily supply. You have no store of grace. Day by day must you seek help from above. It is a very sweet assurance—that a daily portion is provided for you. In the Word, by meditation, in prayer, and waiting upon God—you shall receive renewed grace and strength. In Jesus, all needful things are laid up for you. Never go hungry—while the daily bread of grace is on the table of mercy! Enjoy your continual allowance!
"Give us each day—our daily bread." Luke 11:3
"As your days—so shall your strength be." Deuteronomy 33:25
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HE cares for ME!
"Casting all your care upon Him—for He cares for you!" 1 Peter 5:7
It is a happy way of soothing sorrow, when we can feel—"HE cares for ME!" Christian! do not dishonor God, by always wearing a brow of worry! Come—cast your burden upon your God! You are staggering beneath a weight—which your Father would not feel. What seems like a crushing burden to you—would be but as small dust to Him. Nothing is so sweet as to,
"Lie passive in God's hands,
And know no will, but His."
O child of suffering—be patient! God has not overlooked you in His providence. He who is the feeder of sparrows—will also furnish you with what you need. Do not sit down in despair.
There is One who cares for you!
His all-seeing eye is fixed on you!
His all-loving heart beats with pity for your woe!
His omnipotent hand shall yet bring you the needed help!
The darkest cloud—shall scatter itself in showers of mercy.
The blackest gloom—shall give place to the morning light.
If you are one of His family—He will bind up your wounds, and heal your broken heart. Do not doubt His grace, because of your troubles—but believe that He loves you as much in seasons of distress—as in times of happiness. What a serene and quiet life might you lead—if you would leave providing—to the God of providence!
If God cares for you—why need you care also? Can you trust Him for your soul—and not for your body? He has never refused to bear your burdens—He has never fainted under their weight. Come, then, soul! Be done with fretful worry—and leave all your concerns in the hand of your gracious God!
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Shame on you—O silly heart!
"What makes you better than anyone else? What do you have—that God hasn't given you? And if all you have is from God—why boast as though you have accomplished something on your own?" 1 Corinthians 4:7
Christian! By nature—you are no better than others! What would you be—without the continual influence of the Spirit? O believer, whatever you are—you have nothing to make you proud. The more you have—the more you are in debt to God—and should you be proud of that which renders you a debtor?
Consider your origin—look back to what you were. "Once you were dead, doomed forever because of your many sins!" Ephesians 2:1. Consider what you would have been—but for divine grace!
It is only God's grace—which has made you to differ! Great believer—you would have been a great sinner—if God had not made you to differ! O you who are valiant for truth—you would have been as valiant for error—if grace had not laid hold upon you!
Therefore, do not be proud, though you have a wide domain of grace—for once, you had not a single thing to call your own—except your sin and misery!
Oh! strange infatuation, that you—who have borrowed everything, should think of exalting yourself! How foolish—that you—a poor dependent pensioner upon the bounty of your Savior—are yet proud! Shame on you—O silly heart!
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The devil's jackals!
"One evening David got up from his bed and strolled around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing—a very beautiful woman." 2 Samuel 11:2
At that hour David saw Bathsheba. We are never out of the reach of temptation! Both at home and abroad we are liable to meet with allurements to evil. The morning opens with peril—and the shadows of evening find us still in jeopardy. They are well kept—whom God keeps! But woe unto those who go forth into the world, or even dare to walk their own house, unarmed. Those who think themselves secure, are more exposed to danger than any others. The armor-bearer of sin—is self-confidence.
David should have been engaged in fighting the Lord's battles, instead of which he tarried at Jerusalem, and gave himself up to luxurious repose, for he arose from his bed in the evening. Idleness and luxury are the devil's jackals—and find him abundant prey. In stagnant waters—noxious creatures swarm. Neglected soil—soon yields a dense tangle of weeds and briers. Oh for the constraining love of Jesus to keep us active and useful!
When I see the King of Israel sluggishly leaving his couch at the close of the day, and falling at once into temptation—let me take warning, and set holy watchfulness to guard the door! Is it possible that the king had mounted his housetop for prayer and devotion? If so, what a caution is given us to count no place, however secret—a sanctuary from sin!
While our hearts are so like a tinder-box, and sparks so plentiful—we had need use all diligence in all places—to prevent a blaze. Satan can climb housetops, and enter closets! And even if we could shut out that foul fiend—our own corruptions are enough to work our ruin—unless God's grace prevents it.
Reader, beware of evening temptations. Be not secure. The sun is down—but sin is up. We need a watchman for the night—as well as a guardian for the day. O blessed Spirit, keep us from all evil this night. Amen.
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If there were an ant at the door of your granary
"Do not be afraid—for I Myself will help you—declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel." Isaiah 41:14
This morning, let us hear the Lord Jesus speak to each one of us:
"I Myself will help you. It is but a small thing for Me, your God, to help you. Consider what I have done already. What! not help you? Why, I bought you with My blood. What! not help you? Why, I have died for you! And if I have done the greater—will I not do the lesser? Help you? Before the world began—I chose you. I laid aside My glory and became a man for you. I gave up My life for you! And if I did all this—I will surely help you now. If you had need of a thousand times as much help—I would give it to you. You require little, compared with what I am ready to give. It is much for you to need—but it is nothing for Me to bestow.
What! not help you? Fear not! If there were an ant at the door of your granary, asking for help—it would not ruin you to give him a handful of your wheat! Just so, you are nothing but a tiny insect at the door of My all-sufficiency!"
"I Myself will help you!" O my soul, is not this enough? Bring your empty pitcher here! Surely this well will fill it. Hasten! gather up your needs, and bring them here—your emptiness, your woes, your troubles. Behold, this river of God is full for your supply. What more can you desire? The Eternal God is your helper!
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It kindles in the heart
Whom God justifies—those He also sanctifies.
Whom He legally saves—He experimentally saves.
Where the righteousness of Christ is imputed to an
individual—a principle of holiness is imparted to him;
the former can only be ascertained by the latter.
The merits of Christ's finished work are reckoned to
my account—only if the efficacy of the Holy Spirit's
work is evident in my soul and life.
Wherever Christ's redemption is truly received by
faith—it kindles in the heart, an intense hatred
of sin, and the deepest love and gratitude unto God.
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This reprehensible laxity, is misnamed "love"
(Arthur Pink, "Love Reproving" 1943)
Few words have been used more inaccurately and loosely in recent years, than has "love." With a great many people—it is but a synonym for moral laxity, weakness of character, a taking the line of least resistance, a quiet tolerating of what is felt to be wrong.
Multitudes of parents have supposed they were treating their children "lovingly" when they overlooked their folly, made excuses for their wildness, and refused to discipline them for disobedience. They have prided themselves on being "kinder" toward their children than the "stern measures" which were meted out to themselves in their own youth. But it is laxity—and not love—which allows a child to have its own way. "He who spares his rod—hates his son; but he who loves him—chastens him early" (Proverbs 13:24). Let those of our readers who have young children ponder Proverbs 19:18; 22:15; 23:13, 14; 29:15, 17, and remember, that those are the words of Him who is Love!
This same evil has held sway in the churches. Leniency and weakness have overridden righteousness and faithfulness. Instead of maintaining and enforcing the discipline which God's Word enjoins—the great majority of the churches have winked at even glaring sins, refusing to deal with those who walk disorderly. This reprehensible laxity, is misnamed "love". A mushy sentimentality which shrank from "hurting the feelings" of others—has ousted all concern for the glory of Christ and the honor of His house.
This is one of the inevitable effects of the lopsided preaching of the pulpit, where the 'love' and 'grace' of God were constantly proclaimed—while His 'justice' and 'wrath' were studiously ignored. God is 'light' (1 John 1:5) as well as 'love' (1 John 4:8); 'holy' as well as 'merciful'; 'severe' as well as 'good' (Romans 11:22). Unless the balance is preserved between those two sides of the Divine character, not only will He be grievously misrepresented—but the most serious results will follow!
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Such likeness between men and swine!
(Sword and Trowel)
Rowland Hill illustrated the folly of sinners, by the story of a butcher who was followed by the swine right into the slaughterhouse. As pigs are not usually in the mind to go where they are wanted, it seemed a mystery how these animals were so eager to follow their executioner; but when it was seen that he wisely carried a bag of corn with which he enticed the creatures onward—the riddle was solved at once. Unsuspicious of impending death—the hogs cared only for the passing gratification of their appetites, and hastened to the slaughter.
Just in the same manner, ungodly men follow the great enemy of souls down into the jaws of hell, merely because their depraved passions are pleased with the lusts of the flesh and the pleasures of sin which the devil gives them by handfuls on the road. Alas, that there should be such likeness between men and swine!
The joys of sin are so short and so unsatisfactory, that they can never be thought of for a moment—as a fitting inducement for a rational being to lose his immortal soul. Will a few hours' foolery, gambling, drinking, or immorality — compensate for eternal fire? Is the momentary indulgence of a base passion, worth . . .
enduring of flames which never can be quenched,
eternally moaning in vain for a drop of water,
being tormented by the never dying worm,
being shut out from heaven forever,
being eternally cursed by God!
Is any sin worth all this? Can any gain make up for this?
O you who delight in the poisonous sweets of sin—remember that though pleasant in the mouth for the moment—sin will be as wormwood and gall in your belly forever! Why will you swallow the bait—when you know that the hook is there? Why will you be lured by the Satanic fowler? Surely in vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird; but you are more foolish than the birds—and fly into the snare when you know it to be there! O that you were wise, and would consider your latter end. Let that one word "Eternity!" ring in your ears, and drive out the giddy laughter of worldlings, who prefer the present sensual joys.
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A football to be kicked from man to man
(Sword and Trowel)
Two learned doctors were angrily disputing the nature of food, and allowing their meal to lie untasted; while nearby, a simple farmer was eating heartily of that which was set before him.
Just so, the religious world is full of quibblers, critics, and debaters, who, like the doctors—argue over religious controversies, without profit either to themselves or others. Those are far happier, who imitate the farmer—and feed upon the Word of God, which is the true food of the soul.
Questioning with honesty and candor is not to be condemned, when the object is to "prove all things, and hold fast that which is good." But to treat Scripture as if it were a football to be kicked from man to man—is irreverence, if not worse!
Study the Word of God; lay hold upon it, and spend your time in feasting upon precious truth! Reader, argue, if you please—but remember that communion with the Lord Jesus gives infinitely more enjoyment than disputing can ever afford you. Eat—don't argue!
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This poisonous virus!
(Arthur Pink, "The Word of Truth")
By nature, both writer and reader are liars. "The wicked are estranged from the womb, they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies" (Psalm 58:3). No child has to be taught to lie—it comes naturally to him. Nor does he have to be corrupted by contact with others—he is born corrupt at the core of his being! This is the inevitable consequence of the Fall. Our first parents preferred the Devil's lie—to God's Truth, and all of their descendants inherit this poisonous virus.
In consequence "the whole world lies in the wicked one" (1 John 5:19) and he is "a liar—and the father of lies" (John 8:44). Thus by nature, we have no love for the Truth—but instead, we all have a strong antipathy and resistance against it. The unregenerate do not want to know the truth about themselves—no, they wish to be flattered and encouraged to entertain a good opinion of themselves. Hence, the Lord Jesus declared "Because I tell you the Truth—you do not believe" (John 8:45). Had He told them pleasant lies—they would have welcomed Him.
Since the whole world lies in the wicked one, and he is the arch-liar, we should not be surprised at the world being so full of pretense and deceit—and that the Truth of God is so bitterly hated. The fact is, that "Truth has fallen in the street!" (Isaiah 59:14) and is now being ruthlessly trampled on, on every side.
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A life-giving stream for parched pilgrims!
(Arthur Pink, "The Word of Grace")
The Word and the Spirit are so intimately conjoined, that we are scarcely warranted in thinking of the one, without the other. The Word does not operate without the Spirit's agency—and the Spirit does not work apart from the Word.
It was by the Spirit's inspiration, that the Word was first given, for "holy men of God spoke, as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21).
It is by the Spirit, that we are enlightened (Eph 1:17, 18), yet the Word is the means He employs.
It is by the Spirit, that we are sanctified (Rom 15:16), yet not apart from the Truth (John 17:17).
It is by the Spirit, that we are strengthened (Eph 3:16) as He causes the Word to dwell in us richly (Col 3:16).
It is by the Spirit, that we are comforted (Acts 9:31) as He applies the Divine promises to our hearts.
How appropriate, then, that the grand instrument employed by the Spirit of grace, should be termed "the Word of His grace."
The "Word of His grace" proclaims . . .
rest for the weary,
pardon to the guilty,
justification to the ungodly,
adoption to the outcast,
eternal heavenly treasures for spiritual paupers!
It is "the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind" who are to be called to the feast which free grace has spread! (Luke 14:13)
"The Word of His grace" not only instructs us where grace is to be found, and how further supplies of it are to be obtained—but it is the principal medium through which grace is actually imparted to the soul. It is a life-giving stream for parched pilgrims—as they journey through this "wilderness of sin."
As its sacred pages are reverently perused—
the mind is instructed,
the conscience is enlightened,
the affections are warmed,
and the will is moved.
As its exceeding great and precious promises are meditated upon and treasured up in the heart—new strength is imparted to the soul.
As its holy precepts are turned into earnest prayer—help is obtained for the discharge of duty.
As its timely warnings and admonitions are heeded—temptations lose their power and the snares of Satan are avoided.
As its cheering revelation of what God has prepared for those who love Him is received by faith—new hope is kindled in the heart, and the trials of life are borne with greater fortitude. And as the end of the journey is neared—death loses its terrors and the call to leave this "valley of tears" becomes more desirable.
Without "the Word of His grace" we would be mariners upon the sea of life—without chart or compass!
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It pierces and winds itself
into every corner and chink
(Thomas Brooks, "Apples of Gold" 1660)
"The deceitfulness of sin." Hebrews 3:13
Sin is of a penetrating nature. It pierces and
winds itself into every corner and chink
—into our thoughts, our words, and our works.
Sin will wind itself . . .
into our understandings to darken them,
into our judgments to pervert them,
into our wills to poison them,
into our affections to disorder them,
into our consciences to corrupt them,
and into our lives to debase them.
Sin will wind itself into every duty—and every
mercy; it will wind itself into every one of our
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(Arthur Pink, "Beholding the Crucified Christ")
"They kept shouting—Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" Luke 23:21
The Word of Truth declares that "the carnal mind is enmity against God" (Romans 8:7). Men do not believe it—in fact most of them pretend the very opposite. Nevertheless, at Calvary—they gave proof of their hatred of God.
Not only was Christ unwelcome here—but men hated Him—and that "without a cause" (John 15:25). He gave them every reason to admire and adore Him—but they had an inveterate detestation of Him!
Multitudes go through the form of paying homage to God—but it is a "god" of their own imagination. They hate the true and living God, and were it possible—they would rid the universe of His existence! This is clear from their treatment of Christ, for He was none other than "God manifest in flesh" (1 Timothy 3:16). They hated and hounded Him to death—and nothing short of His cruel death by crucifixion would appease them!
Here at Calvary the real character of man was revealed, and the desperate wickedness of his heart was laid bare. There it was shown, that man was capable of the blackest of all crimes!
As evil as man had shown himself all through his history—the coming of Immanuel to this earth brought sin to such a head—that all that which had gone before, was relatively but a trifling thing—when compared with the monstrous wickedness which was done against Love incarnate! In the treatment which the Son of God received at the hands of men—we see sin in its true colors, stripped of a disguise, exposed in its hideous reality; revealed in its true nature as contempt of God, and rebellion against Him. Here at Calvary we behold the climax of sin—and the fearful and horrible lengths to which sin is capable of going! That sin which germinated in Eden—culminated in the crucifixion! Here at Calvary, we see sin at it's apex—Deicide—in the slaying of the Lord of Glory!
"They kept shouting—Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" Luke 23:21
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Better than Hell-deserving sinners!
(Arthur Pink, "A Legal Spirit" 1942)
Though the Gospel is exactly suited to the dire need of fallen man—yet it is far from being suited to his proud heart! It calls upon him to "Behold the Lamb of God"—but in order to do so—he must look away from himself. That is, he must renounce himself, deny himself, repudiate all "imagined goodness" in himself—and this is something which he is very far from being willing to comply with. The Gospel is a revelation of pure grace, of sovereign mercy, unmerited favor—offering to enrich spiritual paupers, to clothe the spiritually naked, to save Hell-deserving sinners—but that is something the self-righteous and independent heart of fallen man cannot tolerate!
Being completely under the dominion of the Devil—fallen man is puffed up with pride. Instead of humbling himself beneath the mighty hand of God, and confessing his ruined condition—he foolishly imagines that he cannot only do that which will meet with God's approval—but actually make God his Debtor, so that justice requires God to reward him for his excellent performances. He refuses to acknowledge that he is a fallen, depraved, lost sinner, "without strength," and without a spark of spiritual life. He refuses to acknowledge that he is utterly incapable of recovering himself, of bettering himself, of doing anything which can meet with the approval of a holy and sin-hating God.
Thus, the unsaved are so deceived by their own hearts and so deluded by Satan—that it is impossible to disillusion them—until a miracle of grace is wrought within them!
But even Christians themselves, have the 'root of legality' still left within them, and are to a greater or less degree, infected with a self-righteous spirit to the end of their days! Though a Divine work of grace has been wrought in them, enabling them to see, feel and know they are depraved, polluted and vile creatures—causing them to close with Christ as He is presented to them in the Gospel, and cast themselves upon Him as their only Hope, their Deliverer, their all-sufficient Savior—pride still works within them, and as it does, they are ready to give heed to some of Satan's lies—and imagine that they are now in themselves something more, something better than Hell-deserving sinners!
This 'root of legality' is constantly bringing forth its foul and poisonous fruit, though for the most part—we are quite unaware of its so subtle and secret activities. Whenever we are pleased with ourselves and our religious performances —a legal spirit is at work within us. Whenever we are less conscious of our deep need of Christ—pride is to that extent, possessing our hearts. Whenever we feel that God, in His providences, is dealing severely with us—a self-righteous spirit possesses us, and we are guilty of this sin. This is sure proof that we think more highly of ourselves, than we ought to think.
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Wounds and bruises and putrefying sores!
(Arthur Pink, "The Good Samaritan" 1942)
"The whole head is sick, and the whole heart is afflicted. From the sole of the foot even unto the head—there is no soundness in it; but only wounds and bruises and putrefying sores!" Isaiah 1:5, 6
Sin and Satan have wounded man's body, which bring it down with disease and pain to the dust from whence it was taken. They have wounded his soul in all its faculties—his understanding with darkness, his will with a wicked choices, his affections with worldly-mindedness, so that he places his love upon the creature instead of the Creator. They have wounded his conscience with guilt, and with fear of death and dread of Hell. They have stopped his ears to the voice of the Spirit, and closed his eyes to the glory of God. How completely and severely man is wounded! Worst of all—sin has inflicted a mortal wound which has deprived man of his spiritual consciousness, for he is insensible, unaware of his desperate state!
Fallen man is in such a wretched condition, that he is beyond doing anything for his deliverance. But such a truth is far too distasteful to proud human nature. Man will not accept the Divine verdict, he will not believe his case is so desperate as the Scriptures depict it. He persuades himself that it lies in his own power to win the favor of God. He thinks that if he tries his best, and employs himself in religious duties—that such endeavors will receive an eternal recompense. All the expedients which human wisdom has devised as remedies for the wounds which sin has inflicted, may be reduced to two: good works—and religious duties.
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Some have two hells
(Thomas Watson, "The Lord's Prayer")
Suffering Christian—remember that this
is all the hell you shall have.
Some have two hells. They suffer now in
their body and conscience, which is one hell;
and they will suffer eternally in another hell
to come, in unquenchable fire!
Judas had two hells—but a child of God has
but one. Lazarus had all his hell here on earth;
he was full of sores—but had a convoy of angels
to carry him to heaven when he died. Say, then,
"Lo! if this is the worst I shall have, if this is all
my hell—I will patiently acquiesce. May Your
will be done!"
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Your Goliath lust
(Thomas Watson, "Christ All in All")
"Be strong in the Lord, and in the power
of His might." Ephesians 6:10
When you are to resist a temptation, or to
mortify a corruption—do not go out in your
own strength, but in the strength of Christ.
Some go out to duty in the strength of their
abilities; and go out against sin in the strength
of their resolutions—and they both come home
foiled. Alas! What are our resolutions, but like
the green cords which bound Samson! A sinful
heart will soon break these!
Do as David when he was to go up against Goliath.
He said, "I come to you in the name of the Lord!"
So say to your Goliath lust, "I come to you in the
name of Christ!" Then we conquer, when the Lion
of the tribe of Judah marches before us!
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Stripped of his peacock feathers
(Arthur Pink, "Unworthiness" 1940)
GRACE is favor shown to the undeserving and ill-deserving.
When Divine grace bestows salvation upon the ill-deserving, it makes them conscious of the infinite favor that has been shown them. Fallen man is naturally proud, self-complacent, and self-righteous.
But wherever the miracle of regenerating grace is wrought—all this is reversed. Its subject is stripped of his peacock feathers, made poor in spirit, and humbled into the dust before God. He is made painfully aware of the loathsome plague of his heart, given a sight of his vileness in the light of God's holiness, and brought to realize that he is a spiritual pauper, dependent upon Divine charity. He now readily acknowledges that he is a Hell-deserving sinner.
"I am not worthy of the least of all Your mercies and unfailing love, which You have shown to me, Your servant" (Genesis 32:10). This is the confession made by all who are the recipients of the saving grace of God. Whenever a miracle of saving grace is wrought in the heart—pride is subdued, self is effaced, and a sense of ill-desert takes possession of the heart.
One of the elements of great faith—is deep humility. "For I am the least of the Apostles, that am not worthy to be called an Apostle" (1 Cor. 15:9). "I am less than the least of all saints" (Eph. 3:8). What complete self-abasement! The most eminent Christians—are always the most lowly ones; those most honored in Christ's service—are deeply conscious of their unprofitableness.
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Tied to their minister's apron strings
(Arthur Pink, "Spiritual Nurses")
It is lamentable when a boy in his teens is still tied to his mother's apron strings. Yet is it not equally deplorable for those who have been Christians many years—to be tied to their minister's apron strings? Yet how often we witness this very thing. There is a certain class who seem to be afraid, or at any rate unwilling, to think for themselves—to search the Scriptures for themselves, and act accordingly—and we suspect that in many cases the preacher is as much to be blamed as they are. It is true that he is their teacher, and as such he should possess a wider and deeper knowledge of spiritual things than they have. Yet it is his duty to instruct them—to familiarize themselves with God's Word, and thus become qualified to "Test all things—and hold fast that which is good." (1 Thess. 5:21). In other words, the preacher is not to be a nurse unto them all their lives!
It has long been our conviction that the preacher who is really of greatest service to his people—is the one who makes them most independent of human help, and casts them back directly upon God Himself. For souls to run to their pastor every time they are in trouble, or look to him to solve all their spiritual problems—is virtually to give him the same place in their lives, as the deluded Papists accord their "priests." This is not only to rob God of His glory—but also retards their spiritual progress. It is with God Himself, that I most need to deal, and any man who comes between me and the Lord is really a hindrance, no matter how good his intentions may be. Moreover, the preacher is human, and therefore liable to err—but God is omniscient and never misdirects. "If any of you lacks wisdom—let him ask of God." (James 1:5).
Sooner or later there comes a time in the lives of most real Christians, when those words, "Stop trusting in man!" (Isaiah 2:22) are applied to their hearts in Divine power. This will not mean that they now refuse to hear God's servants or read their writings—but that they will no longer place the same blind confidence in their teachers as the Papists do in their priests. Instead, they will emulate the Bereans, who did not mechanically accept what they heard, even from the lips of the Apostle Paul—but "examined the Scriptures every day—to see if what Paul said was true." (Acts 17:11)
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The sword of God's Truth
(Arthur Pink, "Faithfulness")
"Their speech is filled with flattery." Psalm 5:9
This is the identifying mark of the "hireling," the false pastor. He aims at pleasing his hearers, making them feel satisfied with themselves, ever patting them on the back.
"But he who has My Word—let him speak My Word faithfully" (Jeremiah 23:28), no matter how unpalatable it may be to the flesh, how much of a weariness to those who wish to have their ears tickled with novelties, or how loud the outcry against it is!
Ministerial faithfulness includes loyalty to his Master, devotion to His interests, steadfast adherence to the preaching of His Word, dispensing the Truth unto those whose souls are committed to Him—not mixing it with his speculations, much less substituting false doctrine. A far higher motive than the pleasing of his hearers must actuate and regulate ministerial service. Faithful preaching will render the minister unpopular, and will 'empty' churches—not 'fill' them!
"Then you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free." (John 8:32) Souls are caught fast in the meshes of Satan's lies—and nothing but the sword of God's Truth can cut them free!
"A faithful man—who can find?" (Proverbs 20:6). Why is this? Because it is the part of fallen human nature to take the line of least resistance, and choose the path easiest to the flesh. But remember, my reader, whoever you are, that, "Lying lips are abomination to the Lord; but those who deal 'faithfully' are His delight." (Proverbs 12:22)
"Be faithful unto death—and I will give you a crown of life!" (Revelation 2:10)
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A choice mercy!
"Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered." Psalm 32:1
Pardon of sin is a choice mercy. This jewel God hangs upon none but His elect.
Pardon of sin draws the silver link of grace, and the golden link of glory after it. It is a voluminous mercy—there are many mercies bound up with it.
The pardoned sinner is a weeping sinner. Never did any man read his pardon with dry eyes! Look upon that weeping penitent, "she stood behind Christ weeping." Tears were distilled out of her penitent heart! O, how precious were Mary's tears—surely more costly in Christ's esteem than her ointment! They dropped from her eyes—as so many
Her amorous eyes, whose sparkles had so often set on fire all her lovers, she now seeks to be revenged on them—and washes Christ's feet with her tears! Her embroidered hair, which had so often as a net, ensnared others—she now makes it towel to wipe Christ's feet! Here was a pardoned penitent. A pardon will turn the stony heart into a spring of tears! O sinner, ask yourself the question—Is your heart dissolved into tears? Does it melt for sin? God seals His pardons only upon melting hearts.
Nothing can melt the stony heart of a sinner—but the blood of Christ.
The pardoned sinner looks upon a bleeding Christ—with a bleeding heart.
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Pilfering of another's time
"Redeeming the time." Ephesians 5:16
Christians should especially be on their guard against a spirit of idleness, and a slovenly habitual wasting of time. We must guard against a habitual frivolousness at home; and an abundance of unprofitable small-talk, idle reading, inane drowsiness, and a quiet and dull frittering away of time.
We must seriously consider—what a large portion of life we have unwisely squandered; what days and nights we have wasted, if not sinfully—yet selfishly; if not loaded with evil—yet destitute of good. In the day of judgment, the thin disguise which our treacherous heart now casts over vanity and sloth, will then be torn off.
We are guilty of the strange inconsistency of being most wasteful of what we best love—and of throwing away what we most fear to lose—that TIME of which life is made up. It is not so much a lack of time—as a wasting of our time—which prevents life from answering all the ends for which God has given it to us.
Few things make us so useful of the world, as the prudent use of our precious time. We should not only be careful not to waste our own time—but that others do not rob us of it! The "stealing of our purse" is a serious wrong to us. But the "stealing of our time" should grieve us even more! Pilfering of another's time is a felony for which no restitution can be made—for time is not only invaluable, but irrecoverable!
Every particle of time is valuable. No day can be insignificant—when every day is to be accounted for. Each one possesses weight and importance. What a scene will open upon us, when, from our eternal state—we shall look back on the use we have made of time—when we shall take a clear retrospect of all we have done, and all we ought to have done!
"Almighty God, I adore Your infinite patience, which has not cut me off in the midst of my follies. Let me no longer abuse that precious treasure, time. Let me bid adieu to all those vain amusements, those trifling entertainments and sinful diversions—which have robbed me of many valuable hours. Let me no longer waste my time in ease and pleasure, in unprofitable studies and conversation; but grant, that by moderation and temperance in my enjoyments, I may be able to give a good account of it in the day of judgment, and be accepted in and through the merits of Jesus Christ, my only mediator and advocate. Amen."
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(Samuel Clark, "The Saint's Bouquet" 1641)
"Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach." Proverbs 22:17
Sin is the spawn of the old Serpent, the source of hell, and the vomit of the Devil.
Sin is more hateful to God than the Devil; for God hates the Devil for sin's sake—and not sin for the Devil's sake.
Sin is like a serpent in our bosoms, which cannot live—but by sucking out our life blood.
The conflict of the godly—is with the defilement of sin. But the conflict of the wicked—is only with the guilt and punishment of sin. The godly hate sin—because it has filth in it to pollute the soul. The ungodly fear sin—because it has fire in it to burn the soul.
The deluge of waters which overflowed all the world, washed away many sinners—but not one sin! The world shall one day be all on fire—yet all that fire, and those flames in hell which follow—shall not purge one sin!
All the evils in the world, serve to give names to sin.
Sin is called poison—and sinners, serpents.
Sin is called vomit—and sinners, dogs.
Sin is called mire—and sinners, sows.
Sin is called darkness, blindness, shame, nakedness, folly, madness, death and whatever is filthy, vile, infective, or painful.
A glutton may fill his belly—but he can never fill his lust. A covetous man may have his house full of money—but he can never have his heart full of money. An ambitious man may have titles enough to overload his memory—but never to fill his pride.
The Devil's last stratagem is, if he cannot beat us down to sin—to blow us up with pride.
Nothing will make God's children so pure, as to wash themselves every morning in their tears of repentance.
Without sound repentance, sin is not accounted as the greatest evil—nor Christ as the greatest good.
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He has altogether lost his relish for them
(Legh Richmond, "Memoir of Hannah Sinclair" 1839)
(The following is an excerpt from a letter of Hannah Sinclair to her sister)
The chief danger attending a state of prosperity, is that it strongly exposes us to the temptation of becoming "lovers of pleasures, more than lovers of God," 2 Timothy 3:4. This danger is considerably increased, when people have been introduced into mirthful and fashionable circles. People in such circumstances may be said to stand on the brink of a dangerous precipice. They run the greatest risk of being drawn into a vortex of folly and dissipation, in which all sense of piety is likely to be swallowed up.
But ask a godly Christian, who has just been rejoicing in his Savior, whether he would be willing to give up these delightful contemplations—that he might go to a play, or a ball, or to read a novel—and he would be apt to smile at the question. Not only does he look upon these amusements as vain and ensnaring; not only does he know that they are apt to steal away the heart from God, to indispose him for the exercises of devotion, and to draw him back, as it were, to that world from whence he has with so much difficulty escaped; not only does he avoid them on these accounts—but he can with truth say, that he has altogether lost his relish for them—in the same manner as you, now that you are grown up, have lost your relish for the toys and amusements of children.
Your affectionate sister,
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15 Marriage Admonitions
(By Legh Richmond)
(Prior to his daughter's marriage, Mr. Richmond put into her hands a paper of directions for her future conduct, which, for simplicity, affection, and sound practical wisdom—may be considered one of the best dowries that a Christian parent could bestow on his child.)
My much-loved daughter,
When your sister Mary left her paternal roof, I gave her a paper of admonitions, which I requested her to read often. I do the same for you, in the form of a friendly string of maxims, to regulate your conduct in your new and very responsible situation.
1. Aim at keeping a devoted heart for God in the least and most common transactions of every hour—as well as in those events which may seem to call the loudest for manifestations of Christian prudence and principle.
2. Pray regularly and frequently, not seldom and occasionally—for grace to live by.
3. Remember the Christian principles and examples of your father's house, and everywhere endeavor to preserve its character, by consistency in conduct, conversation, and temper. Keep in constant recollection—the wise, prudent, and conscientious example of your dear mother.
4. Form no hasty friendship; and none whatever, but such as may promote seriousness of heart, tongue and life.
5. Beware of cheerfulness degenerating into levity. Let no natural vivacity of temper, no occasionally indulged sallies of humor and jocularity—throw a shadow over the exercise of solid principle. Little foolish things give a color to character, and are more easily imitated, than serious and good sentiments.
6. Guard against hasty judgments of character, and above all against uttering hasty opinions, and making remarks to the disparagement of others. Particularly avoid making the errors, failings, faults, or follies of others—the subject of rash and unguarded remarks. Be known for charity, forbearance, and kindness. Be slow to judge—rather than swift to speak.
7. Wherever you are, in the first place, remember that God's eye is upon you; and then imagine also that your husband and father are present. It may be a fanciful—but it is a profitable supposition.
8. Keep Christ's golden rule, "Do unto to others—as you would have them do unto you" in perpetual remembrance. It is the panacea for most of the social evils of life.
9. Be conscientious towards all; friendly with few; confidential with fewer still; strictly intimate with fewest of all.
10. When you think of your father, bear with his infirmities and pardon his faults—but remember his principles and instructions, so far as they have been agreeable to the Word of God.
11. Do not be content with anything short of deep, sincere, diligent, and decided piety.
12. If you and your husband happen to differ in opinion or feeling on any point—remember whom you have promised to love, honor, and obey—and this will settle all things.
13. Of your husband's warm affections towards you, I entertain no doubt—strive to preserve them by daily elevation of character; and not so much by fondness—as by prudence and dignity. May you both learn to raise a home of marital happiness—by mutual wisdom and love.
14. Observe great simplicity and plainness in dress. You should be a pattern to others in this respect. There is a just complaint made of many females who profess to be pious—that they are far too showy and mirthful in their outward apparel. Remember the apostle Peter's injunction, "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight."
15. Christ has been made known to you fully and freely; let Christ be your all in all, both now and forever.
Receive my parting advice in love, and be assured, my beloved child, that it comes from the affectionate heart of your dear father.