Grace Gems for DECEMBER 2010

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PRAYER

(James Smith, "Sunny Subjects for All Seasons" 1858)

"Pray without ceasing." 1 Thessalonians 5:17

How important is a spirit of prayer! It is . . .
  the proof of regeneration,
  the manifestation of grace in our hearts, and
  the evidence our title to mansions in the skies!

Prayer is . . .
  the breath of the renewed soul,
  the beating of the sanctified heart,
  the effect of the life of God within us. 

O that I had prayed more!

Prayer should become a habit with us — then everything would furnish us with matter for prayer. Prayer should mingle with our pleasures and our pains, with our labor and our rest. O for more prayer!

We should never do — what we cannot pray God to bless. 

We should never go — where we cannot ask God to go with us.

If we would hold fast our profession,
if we would adorn the gospel,
if we would honor Jesus, 
if we would enjoy our mercies,
if we would get good by our trials,
if we would see all things working together for good,
if we would conquer Satan,
if we would overcome the world,
if we would crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts
   — we must pray!

Prayer, if it is believing prayer . . .
  opens Heaven to us, 
  unveils the glorious face of God, and
  brings down foretastes of the joys of paradise,
  makes us a match for all our foes,
  enables us patiently to carry every cross, and with perseverance to climb and pass over the loftiest hills we meet with on our heaven-bound pilgrimage!

Those who pray, will, by deriving strength from Heaven, by drawing down wisdom from above — withstand every storm, and shout God's praises at last.

Tempted Christian — pray, and you will overcome every temptation.

Troubled Christian — pray, and God will deliver you out of every trouble.

Perplexed Christian — pray, and God will make your way plain before your face.

Doubting Christian — pray, and God will disperse your doubts, and chase your fears away.

Trembling Christian — pray, and God will strengthen you with strength in the soul.

Sick Christian — pray, and God will make all your bed in your affliction.

Dying Christian — pray, and death will lose all its terrors, and you will gently fall asleep in Jesus.

Lost sinner — pray, for God who heard the publican and justified him, will hear you and save you.

O for the grace of prayer, that we may in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present our requests to God.

"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." Colossians 4:2

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You are precious in My sight!

(James Smith, "Daily Bible Readings for the Lord's Household")

"You are precious in My sight!" Isaiah 43:4

All of the Lord's people are precious in His sight! Never was
choice child so precious in the estimation of a fond mother
 — as the poorest, weakest believer, is to the Lord Jesus!

They are precious to Him — therefore He laid down His life for them!

He will never, never part with one of them!


Their persons are precious,
their graces are precious,
their prayers and praises are precious,
their life is precious,
their death is precious —
"Precious in the sight of the Lord — is the death of His saints."

They are precious to the Father — as His choice!

They are precious to the Son — as His bride!

They are precious to the Holy Spirit — as His temple!

They are . . .
  redeemed by precious blood,
  blessed with precious faith,
  interested in precious promises,
  entitled to a precious Heaven!

"Therefore, to you who believe — HE is precious!" 1 Peter 2:7

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The Sure Resource!

by James Smith, 1858
 

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble!" Psalm 46:1

God intended Himself to be the great fountain of supply to His creatures. All are to be dependent on Him — and to look for their supplies from Him. Just so, the believer is to apply to God for all. Ample provision is made — but it is only in Jesus. Promises are given — but they are to be fulfilled by Jesus. He possesses all fullness, and as such He presents Himself to us as His needy dependent creatures — and says, "Look unto Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other!" Isaiah 45:22

This is the business of faith and prayer — to look to Jesus, and apply to Jesus for all that we need. Let us consider these words as spoken unto us every day — as calling us away from dependence on the creature, and as directing us how to act under all circumstances. It is Jesus who speaks. Jesus, as God. Jesus, as the Savior. Jesus, full of sympathy and power. Let us therefore listen to — and act upon His Word.

"Look unto Me — and be supplied. Whatever you need, either for body or soul — come to Me for it. I have the very blessing which you require. I am prepared to supply you with it, except it would be to your injury for Me to do so. You must leave Me to judge whether it will be for your good — and whether this is the best time for you to have it; but if it is — I will surely give it to you. Bring all your needs to Me, express all your desires before Me, exercise faith in Me — and your supplies are certain!"

Let us then leave off complaining, repining, and fretting; and let us look to Jesus for whatever we need, for all we need, and whenever we need. He is able to do more for us, than we are able to ask or think; and He loves to be applied to, for He rejoices to supply our needs.

"Look unto Me — and be strengthened." We are very weak and feeble — and we need much strength. We have . . . .
  crosses to carry,
  burdens to bear, and
  innumerable difficulties to overcome.

Our journey is long,
the way is rough,
and our faith is feeble.

But Jesus is the Strong One, who has all strength in Himself — and that strength He imparts to the weak, the weary, and the wavering, who put their trust in Him. By looking to Him, or exercising faith in Him — we find strength flow into our soul; and we become strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Absent from Jesus, or neglecting to exercise faith in Jesus — we are weak and faint, and are sure to be overcome. If therefore we would be strong to labor, or to fight the Lord's battles, or to travel our pilgrim way — we must keep the eye of faith fixed on Jesus, and seek our strength from Him.

"Look unto Me — and be comforted." We are poor comfortless things in ourselves — and we meet with much to cast us down and make us unhappy. We daily need daily comfort — as much as we need daily food. Jesus is the Comforter of those who are cast down. He comforts us with loving words, with holy communion with Himself, with sweet meditations, with holy foretastes of heaven. His presence is the joy of His people; and His presence will make them happy everywhere. Let us then, when our souls are cast down, when the springs of joy are low, when everything around and within us is depressing — look to Jesus, and He will comfort us with His love!

"Look unto Me — and be counseled." We often need advice, for we know not what to do, or which way to go. Friends cannot help us; our way appears to be hedged up, nor can we find our paths. We feel at times, that we would give anything if we only knew what to do — or which way to go. We are in deep perplexity, in profound distress. Now is the time to apply to, and prove the kindness of, the "Wonderful Counselor."

Jesus says, "Look unto Me — I will teach you and instruct you in the way which you shall go. I will counsel you, and My eye shall be upon you." Precious Savior! He loves to be consulted, nor will He allow any sincere and simple believer, to consult Him in vain. He knows our path — He will point out our way. He understands our difficulty — and will show us how to escape it!

"Look unto me — and be saved." Saved from every danger. Saved from every foe. Saved from sin — and all its penal consequences. Saved fully. Saved freely. Saved eternally. Jesus loves to save. He saves all who look to Him. Let us therefore look unto Him — in all times of danger, when assaulted by our foes, and when our own hearts mislead us. Let us look to Him all through our life.

And when called to face death and eternity — let us especially look unto Him. He will be with us in the dark valley — and whisper peace. He will go with us across the Jordan — and cheer our sinking hearts. He will guide us to the golden gates — and lead us up the glorious streets, and present us unto His Father!

O my soul, look to Jesus . . .
  whenever Satan assaults you,
  whenever foes beset you,
  whenever needs oppress you, and
  when death stares you in the face!

Look to Jesus for grace — and He will bestow it!

Look to Jesus for strength — and He will impart it!

Look to Jesus for comfort — and He will confer it!

Look to Jesus for counsel — and He will give it!

Look to Jesus for salvation — and He will confer it.

Look for all that He has promised, for all that you feel you need — and He will not deny you what is best for you.

Remember, ever remember, that Jesus is "a Sun and Shield; He will give grace and glory, and no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly."

"The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble." Psalm 9:9

"He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield — in whom I take refuge!" Psalm 144:2

"Keep me safe, O God, for in You I take refuge!" Psalm 16:1

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There, in the solitudes of that voiceless ocean — a plunge is heard!

(
John MacDuff, "God's Words of Comfort to His People" 1872)

"You will trample our sins under Your feet — and throw them into the depths of the ocean!" Micah 7:19

The picture here is of an ocean — not near the shore — but far beyond sight of land, in the midst of a wide wilderness of waters — the illimitable horizon stretching on every side; and when the sounding line is let down — it cannot fathom the depth, or reach the bottom!

There, in the solitudes of that voiceless ocean — a plunge is heard! The surface is ruffled only for a moment; then the waves resume their usual calmness. The load, whatever it is — is never more seen. It is buried somewhere in these dark caverns! No spirit of the deep can ever come up from the silent caves to tell its story! Ships cross and recross where it fell — but no distinguishing marker is left on the unstable highway, to mark the spot. The sea can be tempted by no bribe, to give up the secret of its keeping — all trace is lost from sight and memory forever!

That is a picture of what God does for all His redeemed people!

"You will trample our sins under Your feet — and throw them into the depths of the ocean!"

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Technology Warning!

(J.I. Packer)

I'm amazed at the amount of time people spend on the internet. I'm not against technology — but all tools should be used to their best advantage. We should be spending our time on things that have staying power, instead of on the latest thought of the latest blogger — and then moving on quickly to the next blogger. That makes us more superficial, not more thoughtful.

"Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil." Ephesians 5:15-16

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Market-Driven Christianity

by Don Fortner

"Am I now trying to win the approval of men — or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men — I would not be a servant of Christ." Galatians 1:10

Religion in America is big business. Scads of money, powerful personalities, huge egos, and positions of prominence, influence, and recognition are at stake in the business of religion, just as they are in any other business. There was a time when the concern of churches and preachers in this country was the glory of God and the truth of God. Today, like any business, the concern is for success.

Christianity today is market-driven. The goal of all marketing is to make both the buyer and the seller satisfied. Consequently, market-driven churches, in utter abandonment of God’s glory and God’s truth, in their insatiable quest for success and recognition — do whatever it takes to win customers and keep them.

Be warned! False doctrine and worldliness always go hand in hand. Worldliness usually leads the way. The early modernists did not aim at destroying biblical Christianity. They simply tried to make Christianity palatable to an unbelieving world. It cannot be done. When Christianity becomes acceptable to unregenerate people — it has ceased to be Christianity!

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing!" 1 Corinthians 1:18

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No one can escape from that prison!

(James Smith,
"Is it Time?" 1859)

Eternity stamps a seriousness on every subject connected with it.

The soul must live forever.

Hell is eternal.

Heaven is eternal.

The immortal soul must inhabit Heaven — or Hell, forever!

Sudden death would plunge the sinner into sudden Hell — and from Hell there is no deliverance!

No one can escape from that prison!

No one can ever escape from that lake of fire!


"They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire!" Jude 1:7

"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life!" Matthew 25:46

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The death of an infant

(Letters of John Newton)

My Dear Friend,
I must leave a line to tell you that we sympathize with you and your wife in your severe trial. (The death of an infant.) But, at the same time, I rejoice exceedingly in the Lord's goodness, enabling you to be resigned and satisfied with His will, despite all the feelings and pinchings of flesh and blood.

If you can now believe and say, "He does all things well" — with what transport would you say it, if the whole plan of His wisdom and love was unfolded to your view? He will condescend to unfold it to you hereafter — and it will fill you with admiration. It is an affliction, to be cordially rejoiced in, when the Lord, who cares for us — intimates His will by the event.

Healing and wounding are equally from His hand — and are equally tokens of His love and care over us! "The Lord gives — and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!" Job 1:21

You are in the wise and merciful hands of One who prescribes for you with unerring wisdom, and has unspeakably more tenderness than can be found in all human hearts taken together! He weighs all your painful afflictions with consummate accuracy! You shall not have a single grain of trouble more, nor for a single moment longer — than He will enable you to bear, and will sanctify to your good.

We know all things are dispensed to us by infinite wisdom — in number, weight, and measure — with a far greater accuracy than any doctor can adjust his medicines to the state and strength of his patients.

The flesh will feel the sharp affliction — but faith and prayer will lighten the burden, and heal the wound. Daily your sense of the Lord's goodness will increase, and the sense of pain will abate — so that you will have less sorrow, and more joy, from day to day.


What a blessing to be a Christian — to have a hiding place and a resting place always at hand! To be assured that all things work for our good, and that our compassionate Shepherd has His eye always upon us — to support and to relieve us.

I am affectionately and sincerely your friend, brother and servant,
John Newton


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Too wise to err — and too loving to be unkind!

(
Arthur Pink, "The Sovereignty of God")

Because God is righteous — His judgments fall upon those who rebel against Him.

Because God is faithful — the solemn threatenings of His Word are fulfilled.

Because God is omnipotent — none can successfully resist Him, still less overthrow His counsel.

Because God is omniscient — no problem can master Him and no difficulty baffle His wisdom.

It is just because God is who He is, and what He is — that we are now beholding on earth, the beginning of His out-poured judgments! In view of His inflexible justice and immaculate holiness — we could not expect anything other than what is now spread before our eyes!

Faith endures "as seeing Him who is invisible." (Hebrews 11:27) Faith endures the disappointments, the hardships, and the heart-aches of life — by recognizing that all comes from the hand of Him who is too wise to err — and too loving to be unkind. So long as we are occupied with any other object than God Himself, there will be neither rest for the heart, nor peace for the mind. But when we receive all that enters our lives as from His hand — then, no matter what may be our circumstances or surroundings — whether in a hovel, a prison-dungeon, or a martyr's stake — we shall be enabled to say, "The lines have fallen unto me in pleasant places!" (Psalm 16:6). But that is the language of faith — not of sight or of sense.

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Pains, infirmities, loss of sleep, the failure of sight and hearing

(Letters of John Newton)

"Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone." Psalm 71:9


I am drawing nearer and nearer to the season which the Psalmist either expected or felt. Many reasons teach the aged believer the need of this prayer. As his graces are still imperfect, so his powers are feelingly upon the decline. It was but little he could do at his best — and now less and less.

He feels other props and comforts dropping off apace. When he was young he had warm spirits and pleasing prospects; but now what a change of the friends in which he once delighted! In some he has found inconstancy — they have forsaken and forgotten him; and others have been successively taken away by death. They have fallen like the leaves in autumn — and now he stands almost a naked trunk. If any yet remain, he is expecting to lose them likewise — unless he is first taken from them.

Old age abates, and gradually destroys, the relish of such earthly comforts as might be otherwise enjoyed.
Pains, infirmities, loss of sleep, the failure of sight and hearing, and all the senses — are harbingers, like Job's messengers, arriving in close succession to tell him that death is upon his progress, and not far distant!

If youth has no security against death — then old age has no possibility of escaping the grim monster. But though friends fail, cisterns burst, gourds wither, strength declines, and death advances — if God does not forsake me — then all is well.

"Even to your old age and gray hairs — I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you!" Isaiah 46:4

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Our wisest plans and best endeavors

(Letters of John Newton)

We are disciples — Jesus is our Master. The world we live in is His school — and every person and event is under His management, designed to forward us in the great lessons which He would have us to learn — such as . . .
  self-denial,
  a distrust of creatures, and
  an absolute dependence upon Himself.

In this view,
  afflictions — are mercies,
  losses — are gains,
  hindrances — are helps,
  and all things, even those which seem most contrary — are working together for our good.

Creatures smile — or frown, caress — or disappoint us,
friends grow cool, and enemies become kind — 
just as His wisdom sees most expedient to promote our spiritual progress.

Where we look for most blessing — it often comes to little;
where we look for nothing — we often obtain most benefit.

Our wisest plans and best endeavors at one time produce great troubles!
At another time, what we do at random, and what we account the most trifling incidents — are productive of happy, lasting, and extensive consequences.

It is well for us if, by a long train of such changing, checkered experiences — we at length attain to some proficiency, and can say with David, "My soul, wait only upon God; for my expectation is from Him."

The heart possession of two maxims of Matthew Henry, is well worth all that the acquisition can cost us:
1. Every creature is to us — only what God makes it.
2. We cannot expect too little from man — nor too much from God.

In this school I am placed — and these lessons I am aiming to learn. But I am a poor scholar and indeed any master but He who condescends to be my teacher — would turn me out as an incorrigible dunce!

Yet I sincerely wish to be willing to be what, and where, and how the Lord would have me be — to cast all my cares simply upon Him, and to be always satisfied in my mind that He assuredly cares for me!

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I am very sorry about your accident!

(Letters of John Newton)

My dear friend,
I am very sorry about your accident — but I am thankful that you were not hurt. Such catastrophes, as this may properly be called, have often been attended with dislocated or broken bones, a fractured skull, or instant death — so frail is man!

Often, when he thinks himself safe, and is dreaming of his own importance, as if he were a necessary part in the complicated movements of Divine Providence — he falls like grass before the scythe! And not by the hands of a giant, or the fangs of a tiger — but the smallest trifle is sufficient to destroy him!

For example — how many loose stones do we see in the road; it seems no great matter where they lie. Yet any one of them, by changing the direction of a wheel — is sufficient to confound all the plans of this mighty creature! One stone stumbles him down; he falls with his head upon another — in that very moment all his future plans perish! But the Lord gave His angels charge over you; therefore you fell unhurt, and are still alive to praise and serve Him.

I see so much of the uncertainty of life, and how little I can either foresee or prevent what the next moment may bring forth — that I would be a very great coward — afraid not only of riding in a coach — but of walking across a room — if I was not in some degree enabled to confide in the Lord's protection!

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

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Oh to grace how great a debtor!

(Letters of John Newton)

"By the grace of God — I am what I am!" 1 Corinthians 15:10

It is a part of my daily habit to look back to my slavery in Africa, and to retrace the path by which the Lord has led me, for about forty-seven years, since He called me from infidelity and madness!

My astonishing unsought deliverance from the hopeless wickedness and misery into which I had plunged myself, taken in connection with what He has done for me since — make me say, with peculiar emphasis, "Oh to grace how great a debtor, daily I'm constrained to be!"

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see!

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come!
'Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home!

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine!
(by John Newton)

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Dear Miss Medhurst

(Letters of John Newton)

"Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith!" Hebrews 12:2

Dear
Miss Medhurst,
The best advice I can send, or the best wish for you, is, that you may have an abiding and experimental sense of those words of the apostle which are just now upon my mind, "Looking unto Jesus!" The duty, the privilege, the safety, the unspeakable happiness, of a believer — are all comprised in that one sentence! Let us first pray that the eyes of our faith and understanding may be opened and strengthened; and then let us fix our whole gaze upon Him!

But HOW are we to behold Him? I answer, in the looking-glass of His written Word! There He is represented to us in a variety of views. The wicked world can see no form nor loveliness in the portraiture He has given of Himself. Yet blessed be God, there are those who can "behold His glory as the glory of the only begotten Son of God, full of grace and truth!" And while they behold it — they find themselves "changed into His image, from glory to glory," by the transforming influence of the Spirit.

In vain do we use our reasonings and arguments, and resolutions — to beat down our sins and corruptions, and to silence our fears; but a believing view of Jesus does the business!

When heavy trials in life are appointed to us, and we are called to give up, or perhaps to pluck out, a right eye — it is an easy matter for a bystander to say "Be comforted;" and it is as useless as easy; but a view of Jesus by faith comes home to the point.

When we can fix our thoughts upon Him, as laying aside all His honors, and submitting for our sakes to drink off the bitter cup of the wrath of God to the very dregs; and when we further consider: that He who thus suffered for our sins, knows and sympathizes with all our weaknesses; that He is now the Supreme Disposer of all that concerns us; that He numbers the very hairs of our heads, appoints every trial we meet with in number, weight, and measure; and will allow nothing to befall us but what shall contribute to our good — this view, I say, is a medicine suited to the disease, and powerfully reconciles us to every cross!

When Jesus is upon our thoughts, either in His humbled — or His exalted state; either as bleeding on the cross — or as worshiped by all the host of heaven — then we can ask the apostle's question with a befitting disdain, "Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid!" What! shall I sin against my Lord, my Love, my Friend — who once died for my sins, and now lives and reigns on my behalf! What! shall I sin against my Redeemer who supports, and leads, and guides, and feeds me every day? God forbid! No! I would rather wish for a thousand hands and eyes, and feet, and tongues — for ten thousand lives — that I might devote them all to His blessed service!

"Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith!" Hebrews 12:2

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Is this all I get — after so much trouble?

(Letters of John Newton)

"Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world." John 16:33


Dear Brother,
Blessed be God for the news of a better world, where there will be no sin, trouble, nor defect forever!

What shall it be — when the Lord shall call us up to join with those who are now singing before the eternal throne!

What shall it be — when all the children of God, who in different ages and countries have been scattered abroad — shall be all gathered together, and enter into that glorious and eternal rest provided for them!

What shall it be — when there shall not be one trace of sin or sorrow remaining — not one discordant note to be heard, nothing to disturb or defile, or alleviate the never-ceasing joy!

Many a weary step we have taken, since the Lord first drew us to Himself; but we shall not have to tread the past way over again. Some difficulties may remain — but we know not how few. Perhaps before we are aware, the Lord may cut short our conflict and say, "Come up hither!" At the most, it cannot be very long! He who has been with us thus far — will be with us to the end. He knows how to cause our consolations to exceed our greatest afflictions!

And when we get safely home — we shall not complain that we have suffered too much along the way. We shall not say, "Is this all I get — after so much trouble?" No! When we awake in that glorious world, we shall in an instant — be satisfied with His likeness. One sight of Jesus as He is — will fill our hearts, and dry up all our tears!

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." Romans 8:18

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If a toad or a serpent was put in my food or in my bed!

(John Newton,
Indwelling Sin and the Believer)

"The evil which I would not do — that I do." Romans 7:19

Permit me to tell you a little part, (for some things must not, cannot be told,) not of what I have read — but of what I have felt, in illustration of the above passage.

I would not be the sport and prey of wild, vain, foolish, and vile imaginations — but this evil is present with me! My heart is like an open highway — like a city without walls or gates. Nothing is so false, so frivolous, so absurd, so impossible, or so horrid — but it can obtain access, and that at any time, or in any place! Neither the study, the pulpit, nor even the Lord's table — exempt me from their intrusion.

But if this awful effect of heart-depravity cannot be wholly avoided in the present state of human nature — yet, at least, I would not allow and indulge it — yet this I find I do! In defiance of my best judgment and best wishes — I find something within me, which cherishes and cleaves to those evils, from which I ought to be horrified by, and flee from — as I would if a toad or a serpent was put in my food or in my bed! Ah! how vile must the heart (at least my heart) be — that can hold a parley with such abominations, when I so well know their nature and their tendency.

Surely he who finds himself capable of this, may, without the least affectation of humility (however fair his outward conduct appears), subscribe himself less than the least of all saints, and the very chief of sinners! But the Lord knows how this dead fly taints and spoils my best services, and makes them no better than splendid sins.

This is only a faint sketch of my depraved heart. But though my disease is grievous, it is not desperate; I have a gracious and infallible Physician. I shall not die — but live, and declare the works of the Lord.

But I shall not always be — as I am now! Yet a little while, and I shall be freed from this vile body — which, like the leprous house, is incurably contaminated, and must be entirely taken down. Then I shall see Jesus as He is, and be like Him, and with Him forever!

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The theaters are fountains of vice!

(Letters of John Newton)

"The Lord, the Lord Almighty, called you on that day to weep and to wail, to tear out your hair and put on sackcloth. But see, there is joy and revelry, eating of meat and drinking of wine! 'Let us eat and drink,' you say, 'for tomorrow we die!' The Lord Almighty has revealed this in my hearing: 'Till your dying day — this sin will not be atoned for!' says the Lord, the Lord Almighty." Isaiah 22:12-14


My dear Madam,
I am well convinced, that, if there is any practice in this land which is sinful — attendance on the playhouse is eminently so. The theaters are fountains of vice! I can hardly think there is a Christian upon earth who would dare to be seen there — if the nature and effects of the theater were properly set before him! By its innumerable train of dissipations, the god of this world blinds the eyes of multitudes, lest the light of the glorious gospel should shine in upon them.

I wish you, therefore, to use all your influence to make them shunned as pest-houses, and dangerous nuisances to precious souls! Especially if you know any who you hope, in the main, are seriously disposed, who yet venture into those haunts of Satan — endeavor earnestly and faithfully to undeceive them!

The time is short! Eternity at the door! Was there no other evil in these vain amusements, than the loss of precious time (but alas! their name is legion) — we have not leisure time to regard them.

And, blessed be God — we have no need for them! The gospel opens a source of purer, sweeter, and more substantial pleasures! We are invited to communion with God! The wonders of redeeming love are laid open to our view. Well then, may we bid adieu to the perishing pleasures of sin!

Well may we pity those who can find pleasure in those places and parties . . .
  where Jesus is shut out;
  where His name is only mentioned to be profaned;
  where His commandments are not only broken — but insulted;
  where sinners proclaim their shame, as in Sodom, and make no attempt to hide it;
  where wickedness is veiled in the disguise of amusement — to make it more insinuating!

"You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God." James 4:4

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A plain book designed for plain people

(Letters of John Newton)

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness — so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work!" 2 Timothy 3:16-17

"When the Spirit of truth comes — He will guide you into all the truth." John 16:13

A few minutes of the Spirit's teaching will furnish us with more real, useful and experimental knowledge — than toiling through whole folios of commentators and expositors! It will be our wisdom to deal less with the streams — and be more close in applying to the fountain-head. The Scripture itself, and the Spirit of God — are the best and the only sufficient expositors of Scripture. Whatever men have valuable in their writings — they got it from Scripture; and the Scripture is as open to us — as to any of them. There is nothing required but a teachable, humble spirit; and academic learning, as it is commonly called, is not necessary in order for this.


As a minister, I endeavor to avoid all panaceas, singularities, 'hidden truths' and 'new discoveries' in Scripture. I wish to advance nothing which I cannot maintain upon the authority of the Bible in our English language — which I deem sufficient to make us and our hearers wise unto salvation.

The New Testament is a plain book designed for plain people. The gospel is to be preached to the poor and simple, who are just as capable of receiving it as the educated — and in some sense more so. I therefore lay little stress upon any academic learning — which depends upon a knowledge of original Greek and Hebrew languages, or requires a larger degree of capacity and genius to be understood.

"From a child, you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus!" 2 Timothy 3:15

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The Lord reigns!

(Letters of John Newton)

"The Lord reigns! He is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed in majesty and is armed with strength!" Psalm 93:1

"The Lord reigns! Let the nations tremble!" Psalm 99:1

The Lord reigns! He who once bore our sins, and carried our sorrows — is seated upon a throne of glory, and exercises all power in heaven and on earth! Thrones, principalities, and powers, bow before Him. Every being and event are under His rule. His providence pervades and manages the whole, and is as minutely attentive to every part — as if there were only that single object in His view.

From the tallest archangel, to the meanest ant or fly — all depend on Him for their being, their preservation, and their powers! He directs the sparrows where to build their nests, and to find their food. He overrules the rise and fall of nations; and bends, with an invincible energy and unerring wisdom — all events! So that, while many intend otherwise — in the outcome, their designs all concur and coincide in the accomplishment of His holy will. He restrains with a mighty hand, the still more formidable efforts of the powers of darkness; and Satan, with all his hosts, cannot exert their malice a hair's breadth beyond the limits of His permission. Satan may rage — but he is a chained enemy!

This is He, who is the Redeemer and Husband of His believing people. How happy are those whom it is His good pleasure to bless! How safe are those whom He has engaged to protect! How honored and privileged are those whom He enables and warrants to claim Him as their friend and their portion! Having redeemed them by His own blood — He sets a high value upon them! He esteems them His treasure, His jewels! He guards them as the pupil of His eye. They shall not lack; they need not fear!
His eye is upon them in every situation,
His ear is open to their prayers, and
His everlasting arms are under them for their sure support.

On earth, He guides their steps, controls their enemies, and directs all His dispensations for their good! While, in heaven, He is pleading their cause, preparing a place for them, and communicating down to them reviving foretastes of the glory that shall shortly be theirs!

"The Lord reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord!" Psalm 146:10

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Here is the conclusion of the matter:

(Thomas Chalmers, 1826)

"
When I surveyed all that I had accomplished 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 world is passing away along with its desires!" 1 John 2:17

"Whosoever drinks of this water — shall thirst again!" John 4:13

There is no delusion more prevalent
, or more difficult to dissipate from the minds of men — than the imagined power which this world possesses to confer solid good or substantial enjoyment on its votaries. Their life is one unceasing struggle for some object or attainment which lies at a distance from them. They are fighting their way to an arduous eminence of wealth or of distinction — or running with eager desire after some station of imagined delight, or imagined repose — on this side of death.

And it is the part of Christian wisdom: to mark the contrast which exists between the activity of the pursuit in the ways of human ambition — and the utter vanity of the termination; to observe how, in the career of restless and aspiring man, he is ever experiencing that to be tasteless, on which, while beyond his reach — he had lavished his fondest and most devoted energies!

When we thus see that the life of man in the world is spent in vanity — and goes out in darkness — we may say of all the wayward children of humanity, "Surely man walks in a vain show, surely he vexes himself in vain!" Psalm 39:6

But these censures on that waste of strength and of exertion, which is incurred by the mere votaries of this world, are not applicable merely to the pursuits of general humanity — they are frequently no less applicable to the pursuits of professing Christians!

"Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil." Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

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Like coins from the same mint!

(Letters of John Newton)

My dear sir,
I could write a long note indeed, upon your very great mistake in considering me as a great man. If we could have a personal interview — I think you would be quickly undeceived! Ah! how different I am — from what perhaps I appear to be to others when in the pulpit.


Your mistake, however, has done me good. A whole quire of invective from an enemy could hardly have given me so keen a sense of shame. The Scripture assures us that our hearts by nature, like coins from the same mint — are all alike. I hear my fellow-Christians complain of evils similar to what I feel. Otherwise I would have reason to conclude that there could not be one believer upon earth — so inconsistent, so evil, so vile beyond expression — as myself!
 

Ah, dear sir! what would you have thought of me — had you seen me when I lived among the slaves? The sight of me would have been offensive to your eyes, and my vile speech would have struck you with horror! I was miserable and despicable in every view — the common mark of scorn and insult! My whole wretched amusement and pleasure seemed to lie in blaspheming the name and person of Jesus, and in feeding my imagination with schemes of wickedness!

Some of my unhappy companions have perished in their sins — who have just cause to charge the ruin of their souls to my account! For Satan himself, had he been upon earth in a bodily shape — could hardly have been more industrious in tempting to infidelity and profligacy than I was!

There is seldom a day of my life, in which my thoughts are not led back to my former state of estrangement from Him, and that pre-eminence of wretchedness into which my sins plunged me!

Yet, it is of grace that my poor story is not much worse. The Lord is my keeper — therefore I am still preserved. "By the grace of God — I am what I am!" 1 Corinthians 15:10


I am, dear sir, your affectionate friend and servant,
John Newton, 1778

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see!

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
'Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine!
  John Newton

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But when the mower comes!

(Letters of John Newton)

Dear friend,
In preferring a warm heart to a full head — you certainly judge by the rule of Scripture. The Lord looks to the heart — not to the stature, the popularity, the intellect, the rank or wealth of a person. These are to the man — no more than ornamental trappings to a horse!


"All men are like grass, and all their goodness is like the flower of the field!" Isaiah 40:6. The mass of mankind may be compared to grass. And those who are distinguished by intellectual or external accomplishments of any kind — may be compared to the flowers which look more gaudy and are perhaps a little taller than the grass. But when the mower comes — the scythe finds no difference! Both fall by the same stroke, and wither with equal speed!


Indeed I believe that the most lively grace and the most solid comfort — are known among the Lord's poor and insignificant people. Every outward advantage, has a tendency to nourish the pride of the human heart; and requires a proportionable knowledge of the deceitful SELF and the evil of sin — to counterbalance them.

If I were qualified to search out the best Christian in the country, I would not expect to find him either in a professor's chair, or in a pulpit. I would give the trophy to that person who had the lowest thoughts of himself — and the most admiring and loving thoughts of the Savior. And perhaps this person may be some bedridden old man or woman, or a pauper in a workhouse.

Love to Jesus is not to be measured by the amount of knowledge we have, or how well we talk — but rather by the simplicity of our dependence upon Him, and the uniform tenor of our obedience to His will.

Your affectionate friend and servant,
John Newton

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By the grace of God — I am what I am!

(William Plumer, "Sinners Saved by Unmerited Kindness")

In his old age, when he could no longer see to read, John Newton heard someone recite this verse, "By the grace of God — I am what I am."
1 Corinthians 15:10. He remained silent a short time, and then said:
 
I am not what I ought to be. Ah! how imperfect and deficient.

I am not what I might be, considering my privileges and opportunities.

I am not what I wish to be. God, who knows my heart — knows I wish to be like Him.

I am not what I hope to be. Before long, I will drop this clay tabernacle, to be like Him and see Him as He is!

Yet, I am not what I once was — a child of sin, and slave of the devil!

Though not all these — not what I ought to be, not what I might be, not what I wish or hope to be, and not what I once was — I think I can truly say with the apostle, "By the grace of God — I am what I am!"

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More dreadful than Hell!

(James Smith,
"He Gives Grace to the Humble" 1859)

"Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?" Romans 7:24

The godly man has a deep sense of the evil of sin.

He looks upon sin as the bitter root, from which springs . . .
  all the woes and wars,
  all the sadness and sorrow,
  all the pains and pollution,
  all the misery and madness,
  and all the torment and terror
 — to be found in God's universe!

He regards sin as that abominable thing which God hates!

It is to him a loathsome object; and a subject fraught with all that is base, degrading, and horrible. He looks at sin as more dreadful than Hell! Indeed, he considers sin to be the evil of all evils, and considers that nothing is evil in comparison with sin!

He often thinks of sin as it has . . .
  grieved God's heart,
  murdered God's only begotten Son, and
  vexed and resisted the Holy Spirit.

O if he could be but free from sin!

"Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be, has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is!" 1 John 3:2

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My dear wife has been quite ill

(Letters of John Newton)

"And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered!" Matthew 10:30

Dear friend,
My dear wife has been quite ill. Sickness is a bitter pill to swallow. Yet the Lord is good; He knows what we need, and when we need it. We must and shall have it — whether it is sweet, bitter, or sour — for He will withhold no good thing from those who fear and love Him.

He upholds and enlightens the planets and stars. He weighs the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance. At the same time, He is providing for the lions and ravens, and supporting all the ants and worms that creep upon the earth!

And with equal accuracy — He adjusts all that concerns us! Worms as we are — He is attentive to everything that relates to our peace and welfare, as though we, each of us singly — were the sole objects of His providential care! Yes, His eye and His heart are attentively fixed upon you and worthless me! Well may we say, "Who is a God like unto You!"

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Whose presence is thus promised and pledged?

(Octavius Winslow, "Christ is Ever With You!" 1863)

"Lo, I am with you always — even unto the end of the world!" Matthew 28:20

Whose presence is thus promised and pledged?

It is the presence of Christ! The Christ who is God. "Immanuel, God with us!"

The Christ who . . .
  made all worlds,
  created all beings,
  governs all empires,
  controls all events!

The Christ who replenishes . . .
  earth with beauty,
  heaven with glory,
  eternity with song!

The Christ before whom angels and archangels, principalities and powers bend, and at whose name every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that He is Lord!

The Christ . . .
  whose glory is divine,
  whose beauty is peerless,
  whose wealth is boundless,
  whose love is as infinite as His being!

The Christ who . . .
  bore and put away your sins forever,
  uplifted and forever removed your curse,
  paid all your great debt to Divine justice,
  sorrowed for you in the garden,
  suffered and expired in your stead on the cross,
  rose from the grave, ascended up to heaven, lives and intercedes for you, representing your person and presenting your prayers and praises with ineffable acceptance and delight — to His Father and your Father, to His God and your God.

"Lo, I am with you always! Mark! Behold! I the Incarnate God, I who opened my bleeding heart for your redemption on Calvary, I who am your dearest Friend — I am with you always, in all places, and at all times, unto the end of the world!"

O honored saint of God! You have . . . 
  the Divinest in the universe to love you,
  the Mightiest in the universe to shield you,
  the Loveliest in the universe to delight you,
  the Dearest in the universe to soothe, cheer, and gladden you!
O favored disciple of Jesus — you have such a one ever at your side!


This is the promise of promises
— the richest pearl of all the promises, exceeding in its mightiness and preciousness; while it is the substance, sweetness, and pledge of all the rest!

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Your unfailing Guide

(Octavius Winslow, "Christ is Ever with You!" 1863)

"Surely, I am with you always — even unto the end of the world!" Matthew 28:20

Christ is with us — as our GUIDE. How deep our need of Him as such, and how endeared does it make Him! So blind are we, so dark is our future, so perplexing is our present path — that the very next step might be a false one — taking us into a wrong direction, entailing untold anxieties and sorrows, or hurling us from a precipice into total ruin! Yes, we need just such a guide as Christ!

What Alpine traveler would attempt the ascent of a steep glacier, or cross the dangerous pass — unattended by an experienced guide — one who knew the route, whose skillful eye could detect the treacherous crevice, and whose strong arm could fence the narrow, winding way?

Our path to eternity demands just such a guide as the prophet foretold Christ would be. "I have given Him," says God, "for a Leader and Commander to the people." His own gracious words corroborate this statement when speaking of Himself as the Shepherd of His flock, who "Goes before them, and the sheep follow Him, for they know His voice."

Oh, what a privilege — in every path of doubt, in every circumstance of danger, where human judgment is either warped or beclouded, and your own mind hesitates and falters — to have such a wonderful Counselor, such a divine Guide as Christ at your side! As such — He is ever with you!

He will guide you . . .
  with His eye of providence,
  and with His hand of power,
  and with His heart of love!

He knows the way that you take — for He has ordained it.

He knows every crook in your lot — for He has appointed it.

He will . . .
  roll away the stone of difficulty,
  level mountains,
  fill up valleys,
  make the crooked path straight,
  and the rough place smooth!

Oh, be honest and upright with Him! Go to Him first, consult Him first, acknowledge Him in all your ways — before you consult any human guide. May Christ, in all the minute details of your life, have the pre-eminence. Learn to lay your own desires and thoughts at His feet.

"He guides the humble in what is right — and teaches them His way!" Psalm 25:9. Not our way — but "His way." We must first surrender our way and will — before He will teach us His. He guides the "humble" — the childlike, trustful, unquestioning disciple, who humbly locks his hand in Christ's and says, "Lord, lead me and guide me, not in my own way — but in Yours!"

Oh, take a firm grasp of your unfailing Guide, and you shall travel safely and surely, through all your unknown future.

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A shield and deliverer

(Octavius Winslow, "Christ is Ever with You!" 1863)

"Surely, I am with you always — even unto the end of the world!" Matthew 28:20

Christ is ever with His people — as a shield and deliverer. Our estimation of this truth, will be proportioned to our intelligent apprehension of the number and potency of our enemies — and the costliness and preciousness of the treasure thus divinely protected.

There are assaults from which Christ alone can shield us!
Innumerable and invisible,
sleepless and restless,
working with an almost almighty power,
everywhere with an almost omnipresent existence,
ever plotting our ruin —
are the spiritual enemies of our soul, and the sworn foes of our faith!

The world and its fascinations,
Satan and his devices,
the flesh and its tendencies,
error and its disguises —
are all confederate against the child of God, opposing his every advance in holiness!

But Christ is our ever-present shield, near at the moment of assault, and skillful to deflect and disarm it! "Fear not, Abram, I am your shield!" are words addressed to all who have like precious faith with him. Oh yes! the Lord encompasses you. Encircled by danger — you are also encircled by the ever-present protection of Jesus!

"So do not fear — for I am with you! Do not be dismayed — for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand!" Isaiah 41:10

With what unslumbering vigilance,
with what divine power,
with what changeless love —
does the Lord Jesus shield the work of grace in the soul of His people!

Who keeps that spark alive — in the midst of the ocean?

Who guards this vineyard night and day — lest any hurt it?

Who preserves . . .
  faith from faltering,
  love from chilling,
  hope from dying?

Who . . .
strengthens the 'work of grace' when it is feeble,
raises it when it droops,
restores it when it relapses,
keeps it in the cold of winter and the drought of summer;
and, when the frosts and winds of autumn would nip and scatter its foliage — clothes it with the freshness and bloom of spring?

Oh, it is Jesus, encircling with His all-protecting shield — the work of grace which His death has accomplished, and which His Spirit wrought!

Trembling believer! The work of grace in your heart shall never die! The kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in your soul — is indestructible! "They shall never perish!" is the declaration of the Shepherd who bought you with His blood! You are watched over by Christ — and kept by the power of God.

"The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
 my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge!
 He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold!"
    Psalm 18:2

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This is the worst part of the picture!

(James Smith, "
A Serious Inquiry" 1865)

"Lord, what is man — that You should notice us, mere mortals that You should care for us?" Psalm 144:3

1. What is man MORALLY? This is the worst part of the picture! It is bad enough to see man diseased, suffering, dying, moldering to dust; but when we come to inquire into the cause of all this — it is fearful indeed!

Man is dreadfully depraved. He has fallen from the state in which his good and glorious Creator placed him.
He is now totally depraved.
He is God's enemy.
His heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.
His carnal mind is enmity against God.
He is full of evil principles and evil passions.
He has become, not only unprofitable — but abominable!

No part of God's creation presents such a hideous sight to His pure and holy eyes — as man does; for in man, heart and mind are alike depraved, and set in opposition to Himself.

Man is wicked; but he is not only wicked — he is weak. Sin has become a fearful disease within him. He has no will to do good. He has no power to do good — even if he had the will.

Man is perverse — he closes his eyes, his ears, and his heart against God! It is only for God to require something — and man determines not to do it; or for God to prohibit something — and man immediately desires it! His will is as much opposed to God as it can be. He slights His mercy, dares His justice, and defies His power. He perseveres in sin — unless the Lord by His invincible grace prevents him. He has sunk lower than the beasts which perish!

There is everything in man to offend the eyes of God's holiness, and to grieve His loving heart. Looking at man as fallen, polluted, and under the power of sin — we may well ask, "What is man — that You are mindful of him?" Psalm 8:4

And will God, the great, the glorious, the holy God — take poor, sinful, vile, wretched man for His choice, His child, His companion? He will. He has done it. He is daily doing it. What astonishing grace!

2. What will renewed man BE? This is a question which no man can answer, for even the inspired Apostle John confesses his ignorance, "Beloved," says he, "now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be — but when He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is!" "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined — what God has prepared for those who love Him!"

Renewed man will be like Jesus. Man will be with God. Man will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of his heavenly Father. Man will see and hear and know, and possess, and enjoy — all that he can possibly desire, all that his glorified nature is capable of. He will be more than unfallen Adam was, more than angels are, for he will be as nearly like God as perfected human nature can be made like the Divine!

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Would such an inscription look well on some of our costly furniture?

(James Smith, "Holiness Unto the Lord" 1865)

"On that day even the harness bells of the horses will be inscribed with these words: 'Holy unto the Lord.' And the cooking pots in the Temple of the Lord will be as sacred as the basins used beside the altar." Zechariah 14:20

We are to write on all that we ARE, on all that we HAVE — "Holy unto the Lord!" We are no longer to live unto ourselves — but unto Him who loved us, and gave Himself up for us. We are to have . . .
  holy thoughts,
  holy desires,
  holy motives,
  holy aims,
  holy pleasures,
  holy sorrows, and
  pursue holy objects.

1. See then, what we should BE — holy. This was God's end in our election, redemption, and effectual calling. This is God's design in all our trials, troubles, and exercises; they are for our profit — that "we may be partakers of His holiness."

2. See also, what we should DO — write, "Holy unto the Lord!" on all that we possess. We have no right to possess, use, or wear anything — on which we cannot write, "Holy unto the Lord!"

Christian, is there anything in your house, in your business, or on your person — on which it would be unfitting to write, "Holy unto the Lord?" If so — ought you to possess it, practice it, or wear it?

Would such an inscription look well on some of our costly furniture, fine clothing, or entertainments? Would it? Do not shun the question — but let conscience take it up, examine, and return an honest answer.

We should use all that we have — as consecrated to Jehovah's service and praise:
  our mental powers,
  our physical strength,
  our wealth,
  our abilities,
  our possessions
 — all should be used for God, and for His glory! When about to employ any of these, we should pause, and ask, "Will putting them to this use honor God? Will it serve His cause? Will it bring praise to His most holy name?"

All who see us, dwell with us, or visit us — should be able to perceive that we have written upon all we have and are, "Holy unto the Lord." Until they can, we are not what we ought to be — and God's end in what He has done for us, and conferred upon us, is not answered.

O Spirit of holiness, come down and by the finger of Your power — write, "Holy unto the Lord!" upon our hearts! Enable us, as the effect, to write upon all we that have and are, upon all that we purpose, plan, and do — "Holy unto the Lord!" in large and pleasing characters, such as all may understand!

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"The Rack" "Skull Crusher" "Iron Maiden" "Chair of Nails"

Most Christians are not well acquainted with the "Catholic Inquisition". Though we realize that it is not "politically correct" — we offer the following instructive excerpt by Richard Bennett, a former Roman Catholic Dominican Priest:

The torture chambers of the Inquisition lasted 605 years and were found throughout the nations controlled by Papal Rome. They had their beginning under Pope Innocent III in 1203 until the Inquisition's final dissolution in Spain and Portugal in 1808.

The Instruments of Torture

"The Rack" is one of the best known forms of medieval torture. This mechanism operated by having the victim lie on a horizontal rack with his hands and ankles tied to rollers on opposite ends.

The Inquisitors would perform the interrogation while turning the rollers, stretching the body of the suspect and causing colossal pain. They would stretch the body out until the joints were actually yanked from their sockets. The ultimate intent was that of killing the victim either through shock or injuries. If the believer were still alive, yet refused to submit, he or she was sent to be burned at the stake.

The Inquisitors also used "Skull Crusher." They ordered the believer's chin to be placed on a lower bar and a screw then forced an iron cap down on his or her head. Their teeth could be crushed. Their eyes could be squeezed from their sockets.

It was hoped that the believer was so overcome by the extreme pain of having his head crushed, would confess his alleged errors and believe in the Holy Mother Church.

The Inquisitors also used the "Iron Maiden." It was a tomb-sized container with folding doors. The spiked studded arms wrapped around the victim in such a way so as to puncture parts of the entire body, including the ears and eyes.

The purpose of the use of Iron Maiden was to inflict pain by means of vicious spikes and a slow death. The prickles inside were designed so that the trapped believer was left to slowly die in the utmost pain.

A prisoner would be bidden to stand right in front of the "Iron Maiden" prior to torture. The spring would be touched by the executioner and the Iron Maiden would fling open her arms, and the wretched victim would straightway be forced within them. Another spring was then touched and the Iron Maiden closed upon her victim. Then spiky arms of the Iron Maiden slowly but irresistibly closed upon the man, cruelly goring him.

The talons of the Iron Maiden, sometimes called the "Iron Virgin," were not designed to kill outright. They trapped the prisoner who was left to slowly perish in the utmost pain.

Beside these instruments of torture there were others for the tearing and ripping of one's flesh. The Catholic Church learned a human being could live until the skin was peeled down to the waist. Often the torturers heated these instruments and then used them on women's breasts and the genital organs of both sexes.

There were also instruments for compressing the fingers until the bones would be squeezed into splinters.

There were instruments for tearing out the tongue, for scooping out the eyes, and for rooting out the ears.

There was a bunch of iron cords with a spiked circle at the end of every whip for tearing the flesh from the back until bone and sinew were laid bare.

There were also iron cases for the legs, which were tightened upon the limb placed in them by means of a screw, till flesh and bone were reduced to a pulp.

The thumbscrews were also applied to crush prisoners' toes, while larger, heavier devices based on the same design principle were applied to destroy knees and elbows.

The "chair of nails," used by Inquisitors, was studded with spikes. The victim was strapped naked in the chair and a fire was lit beneath it. Heavy objects were placed upon the victim to increase the pain of the spikes. Blows with mallets were also used to inflict more pain.

There were also devices to slowly and painfully remove the intestines and other organs from the body while keeping the person alive and conscious of the pain.

Any one of those horrors could be inflicted on anybody, i.e., man, woman, or child over the age of 12 that did not agree with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. The Inquisition was carried out in France, Holland, Germany, Spain, and Italy.