Grace Gems for AUGUST 2011

How His eyes will sparkle with delight!

(James Smith, "The Good Soldier's Prospect!" 1864)

"Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus!" 2 Timothy 2:3

"There is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award me on that day!" 2 Timothy 4:8

Christian soldier, for encouragement in every conflict — look up to your Captain for supplies — and look forward to the glory that awaits you! The war will soon be over. Your discharge will soon be signed and sent to you. Home is even now in view!

The promised land will be far above our greatest expectations!

The glory to be revealed will far exceed our most enlarged desires!

The weight of glory will transcend our most comprehensive thoughts!

A crown is reserved for you! Not a corruptible crown of laurel or myrtle — but a diadem. A diadem of glory! More durable than gold, more costly than any earthy monarch's crown. Gold, pearls, and precious stones — are not to be compared to it! Its gems will sparkle brighter that the stars on a winter's evening! As a whole, it will shine brighter than the sun on a summer's noon!

It is a crown of glory — a most glorious crown. Not merited by your labors or sufferings in the Lord's service — but graciously promised, and gratuitously bestowed. Promised by your glorious Leader, preserved most carefully in the palace of the Most High God — to be awarded to every faithful soldier at the final and grand review.

Yes, it will be placed on your brow by His hands, who . . .
  won you to His service,
  led you to the battlefield,
  made you victorious, and
  will rejoice in your honor and happiness forever!

It will be worn before God's own throne, before the angelic hosts, among God's saints forever. What thrilling joy, what ecstatic pleasure, what inconceivable delight — will you realize, when you first feel it rest on your brow! What a look will your Savior give you — when you lift up your head that He may place it on you, and your eye meets His!

Grace, free grace will shine most gloriously on that day! The songs of the enraptured company will be divinely sweet. O how our blessed Savior's heart will dance for joy! How His eyes will sparkle with delight! His mighty spirit will realize full satisfaction — to see the whole of His redeemed people collected, arranged, and glorified before Him!
Not one missing!
All whom the Father gave Him — there!
All for whom He offered up Himself as a sacrifice — there!
All to whom He sent the Comforter — there!
All who enlisted under His banner and were sworn into His army — there!
Those who were once wounded, weeping, and lagging behind the regiment — there! O glorious salvation — in which every poor, maimed, weather-beaten, discouraged soldier of the cross shall share!

What a prospect is this! How bright, how glowing, how enchanting!

Then, O with what rapture we will sing, "Unto Him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests unto God and His Father — to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever! Amen."

Surely, surely we ought to be fired with love, filled with zeal, and prepared for every conflict, however arduous — by such a glorious prospect!

~  ~  ~  ~

If God had not helped us!

(James Smith, "A Grateful Acknowledgment!" 1864)

"I was pushed back and about to fall — but the Lord helped me!" Psalm 118:13

The psalmist had been reviewing his toils, his trials, and his dangers; he commemorates his deliverances, his conquests, and his triumphs; and he ascribes the whole, to the help of God! If God had not helped him — his faith would have failed, his expectations would have been disappointed, and his foes would have prevailed. Through the Lord, he did valiantly; and now, with joyful heart, he records the loving-kindness of the Lord.

How sweet to look back upon the rough road, the bloody battle-field, the scenes of peculiar trial. Then, if ever, gratitude will work within us, and praises will flow from our tongues and hearts. Delivered from the mouth of the lion, and the paw of the bear — we thankfully acknowledge, "The Lord helped me!"

In looking back we see that we have needed help — and more help than any mere creature could afford us!

The daily cross,
the inward conflict,
the domestic troubles,
the perplexities of business,
the state of the church,
the affairs of the world —
have all combined to teach us that Divine help was necessary!

If God had not helped us . . .
   we would have fallen into sin,
   we would have disgraced our profession,
   we would have been crushed by our foes,
   we would have fainted under our trials,
   we would have apostatized from the faith!

God alone knows what would have been the result — if we had been left to our own resources. We needed help in infancy, in youth, in manhood. We needed help in prosperity — and in adversity! We needed help in temporals — and spirituals. We found our own strength — to be weakness, and our own wisdom — to be folly.

The feeblest of our foes — would have been more than a match for us!

The least corruption in our hearts — would have overcome us!

And we need help now — as much as we ever did; for, unless the Lord helps us . . .
   our foes will yet triumph over us,
   our crosses will yet prove to be too much for us,
   and we shall yet faint in the day of adversity!

The Lord has promised help. He has said, "Fear not — for I am with you; be not dismayed — for I am your God! I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you; yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of My righteousness!" And because His people feel themselves to be vile, weak, and incompetent; He stoops to speak to them according to their own views of themselves and says, "Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel — for I Myself will help you! declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel!"

Oh, precious promise, of a good and gracious God!
It extends to all times,
it embraces all circumstances,
it belongs to all believers, and
it ensures us triumph over all our foes!

Yes, the strength of Jesus has been perfected in our weakness! We have found His grace to be sufficient for us; and to the praise of His glorious grace, in reference to all our trials, troubles, and conflicts — we can truly say, "The Lord helped me!"

Oh, beloved, it is an unspeakable mercy to have God for our helper!

~  ~  ~  ~

When His influence is put forth within us

(James Smith, "The Spirit of Grace" 1864)

All that the Spirit does for us, and all that He works within us — is of grace. He graciously . . .
  quickens the dead,
  instructs the ignorant,
  liberates the captives,
  restores the wanderers,
  comforts the dejected,
  strengthens the weak,
  and sanctifies the impure.
His work is His delight — and to see us holy and happy is His pleasure!

The Holy Spirit produces all our graces within us. He is the root — and our graces are His fruits; hence we read, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance."

When His influence is put forth within us — then we . . .
  believe God's Word,
  hope in His mercy,
  rejoice in His goodness,
  cleave to His cause,
  walk in His ways,
  love His truth, His people, and Himself,
  holiness is then happiness,
  duties are then pleasant, and
  even the cross lays light upon our shoulders.

But if the Spirit hides Himself, withdraws His influences, and leaves us to ourselves — then we . . .
  doubt and fear,
  fret and pine,
  kick and rebel,
  rove from thing to thing, and
  nothing will either please or satisfy us.
We often then . . .
  question the past,
  are wretched at present,
  and dread the future.

But when He puts forth His power in us again . . .
  our graces shoot forth like bulbous roots in the spring,
  our sighs are exchanged for songs,
  our fears are exchanged for fortitude,
  our doubts are exchanged for confidence, and
  our murmurings are exchanged for gratitude and love.
We then . . .
  sink into the dust of self-abasement,
  admire the forbearance and patience of God,
  condemn our own conduct, and
  wonder that we are out of Hell.

Then we take down our harps from the willows, and with a melting heart, a weeping eye, and a tremulous voice we sing, "The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance." Our wilderness is now turned into an Eden — and our desert into the garden of the Lord!

Come, Holy Spirit, come, and produce a spring season in our souls!

Brethren, we need the Holy Spirit, as the Spirit of grace — to make us gracious and graceful Christians. Without the Spirit of grace . . .
  we cannot live up to our profession;
  we cannot copy the example of our beloved Master;
  we cannot keep His commandments;
  we cannot love one another as He has loved us;
  we cannot sympathize with lost sinners as we should;
  we cannot keep God's glory in view in all that we do;
  we cannot walk in high and holy fellowship with God;
  we cannot meet death with peace and joy!

~  ~  ~  ~

The life-boat of free grace!

(James Smith, "The Complaint!" 1864)

"I am cast down!"

And why are you cast down?

"My heart is burdened with a sense of my short-comings!
Every duty I perform is so imperfect.
Every purpose I form is so soon frustrated.
Every hope of seeing better days is so soon beclouded.
My heart is so fearfully depraved.
My life is so unlike the life of Jesus.
My temper is so unholy.
My prayers are so brief and heartless.
My praises are so feeble and fitful.
I do so little good.
I live to so little purpose.
My evidences are so dim.
My prospects are so overcast.
I am harassed sometimes with the fear of death.
I cannot realize the glories of Heaven.
I am dissatisfied with the world — and yet glued to it!
I hate sin — and yet fall into it!
I am a riddle, a mystery, a mass of inconsistency!

Is it, then, any wonder that I am cast down?"

No, if you look at yourself, and pore over the things you have named — then it is no wonder that you are cast down! They are enough to cast anyone down! But if you carry them to the throne of grace, if you there confess them before God, if you look to Jesus to save you from them — then, in spite of them — you will not long be cast down.

I know it is difficult to do this. There is a natural proneness to pore over such things. One feels at times a secret liking to indulge in gloomy thoughts.

But we must look away from self — for if we do not, we shall become anxious, doubting and gloomy! We must run the race, not looking at our imperfections, short-comings, and failures — but looking unto Jesus. He knows what we are. He knew what we would be — before He called us by His grace; yes, before He shed His blood for us!
He loved us, as sinners.
He died for us, as sinners.
He called us, as sinners.
He saves us, as sinners. He will have all the glory of saving us, and He will get great glory by doing so, because we are such great sinners; and do not, cannot, do anything to repay Him for His wondrous love! Salvation is by free grace — from first to last! Believe this, and it will raise up your drooping mind!

The life-boat of free grace has put you on board the vessel of salvation, and that will convey you safely to the port of glory! Do not look at your spiritual destitution, or feebleness, or incapacity, or imperfections — but trust in your Pilot, rely on your Captain, and expect His mercy and merit to land you safe in Heaven at last!

As imperfect as you now are, and as imperfect you will be — your dying prayer will still be, "God be merciful unto me — a sinner!"

Hope in God!
His mercy is great unto the heavens,
His grace is as free as the air,
His love is as changeless as His nature,
His promise is as immutable as His love.

Hope in God, for you shall yet praise Him. He will save you for His own sake, and present you before assembled worlds as a monument of His mercy, and a trophy of His grace! 

~  ~  ~  ~

One hour after death!

(James Smith, "One Hour After Death!" 1864)

One hour after death, WHERE shall I be?

One hour after death, WHAT shall I be?

One hour after death, How shall I be EMPLOYED?

One hour after death, What will be my FEELINGS?

One hour after death, How shall I THINK?
How differently we shall think of money, pleasure, the indulgence of our lusts, all that we now call great, grand, and desirable — one hour after death! Let us endeavor to think now — as it is probable we shall think then!
Let us place ourselves in Heaven — and try to think there!
Let us place ourselves in Hell — and try to think there!
How different will things then appear!

~  ~  ~  ~

He will show to the whole world what you have been doing in the dark!

(James Smith, "Hidden Sin!" 1864)

"The Lord does not see it!" Ezekiel 9:9

"My way is hidden from the Lord!" Isaiah 40:27

The only thing some fear is exposure. They would not be exhibited in their true colors before their fellow-men — for all the world! They wish to live and act in the dark. They do not fear the eye of God — but they dread the eye of man! In public they are one thing — and in private just the opposite! No one really knows them.

There is a vast amount of hypocrisy in the world. Multitudes wear a mask. They are not at all — what they seem to be. The consequences will be fearful by and bye.

Open sinners offend both God and men — secret sinners offend God only!
But it is better offend the whole world — than offend God!

The power of SIN is great. And one of the most fearful things in sin — is its power of self-concealment. It hides its own deformity from many — who are actually under its influence.

The subtlety of SATAN is great. He is said to deceive the whole world (Revelation 12:9). Suppose he should have deceived you! If you are acting under his influence — you have deceived yourself!

Your sin may be hidden from men, it may even be hidden from yourself — but it is not hidden from God! His eyes are in every place, beholding the evil and the good. He searches the heart, and tries the thoughts!

The revealing day is coming! Then if wrong, God will set our iniquities before His face, and our secret sins in the light of His countenance. He will expose every secret sinner! He will show to the whole world what you have been doing in the dark! Hear His own Word, "For God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil!" (Ecclesiastes 12:14). The sins that are hidden now — will be hidden no longer!

The Judge on the throne will act justly and impartially, and will render to every man according to his deeds. "The guilt of Ephraim is stored up — his sins are kept on record!" Hosea 13:12

Many will be condemned — who expected to be acquitted!

Many will be driven to Hell — who were sure of being invited to Heaven!

Every false covering will then be stripped off, every deceitful heart will be laid bare — and no longer will anyone say, "My way is hidden from the Lord!"

Then shall be brought to pass the fearful prediction, "The sinners in Zion (God's professing people) shake with fear! Terror seizes the godless! Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?" (Isaiah 33:14).

~  ~  ~  ~

Up and at it!

(James Smith, "Wesley's Motto!" 1864)

"ALL at it — and ALWAYS at it!"

This was what John Wesley endeavored to impress upon all his followers — and this is what we would like to see impressed upon the mind of every Christian. We have much to do — and we have little time to do it in. We had need therefore, to be up and at it!

If ignorance is to be chased away,
if gospel knowledge is to be circulated,
if souls are to be saved,
if children are to be taught,
if churches are to grow,
if villages, towns, and cities are to be evangelized
 — then we had need be ALL at it — and ALWAYS at it!

This is just . . .
  what the times call for,
  what the Gospel inculcates,
  what Satan dreads,
  what the carnal world dislikes —
therefore let us be "all at it — and always at it."

Let everyone undertake that part of the work for which he is most adapted — and persevere in that which he commences.

How many there are who profess Christ — who are doing nothing!
How many may easily do twice as much as they currently do.
Is it surprising . . .
  that the church is in such a poor spiritual state,
  that Popery spreads,
  that ignorance prevails,
  that congregations are thin,
  that little is accomplished,
  that ministers are dispirited, and
  that mature Christians are going home to sigh?
No! It is not at all surprising! The wonder is, that things are not worse!

Self-denial is rarely practiced,
the flesh is indulged,
the world is loved,
the earthly is preferred to the spiritual — and the present to the future.

Let us all go at it, and let us be always at it — until we hear the Master's voice calling unto us and saying, "Well done, good and faithful servants, enter into the joy of your Lord!"

But if we . . .
  neglect duty,
  despise warning,
  love ease,
  court pleasure,
  hunt for honor,
  use our Lord's money selfishly,
  and settle down upon our lees —
we shall by and bye see the day, when we will wish we had been ALL at it — and ALWAYS at it!

"Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain!" 1 Corinthians 15:58

~  ~  ~  ~

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you

J. C. Ryle)

"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you" John 15:7

To abide in Christ, means to keep up a habit of constant close communion with Him — to be always . . .
  leaning on Him,
  resting on Him,
  pouring out our hearts to Him, and
  using Him as our Fountain of life and strength — as our chief Companion and best Friend!

To have Christ's words abiding in us, is to keep His sayings and precepts continually before our memories and minds, and to make them the guide of our actions and the rule of our daily conduct and behavior.

~  ~  ~  ~

Three Bad Companions!

(James Smith, "Three Bad Companions!" 1864)

We are all of us, at times, thrown into company which we do not like; and when so, the best thing we can do is to get out of it as quickly as possible! But sometimes we find that this is more easily said, than done. I have seen some aged people pestered with these very bad companions, and they could not get rid of them if they would!

That the young may beware of these three rascals, I will point them out:

POVERTY is the first bad companion. This is often brought on by imprudence, and lack of frugality. When work was good, and health was strong — no provision was made for a rainy day. By and bye, trade failed, strength departed, and old age came on — and then appears the pitiable object, a poor old man! We shall need many little comforts in old age, which we can very well do without now while in good health; therefore, if God has given us the opportunity, let us lay aside a little for old age.

It is hard to beg when the head is gray, to be frowned upon by the wealthy, or be obliged to go into "the poorhouse." These things may be avoided by many, if they would live frugally.

Reader, if you are young, make up your mind, that if poverty should be your companion when you are old, that you will be able to say, "This was not brought on by my intemperance, self-indulgence, or forgetfulness of the future — but by the wise providence of God!" Then you will have a source of comfort, which many elderly people have deprived themselves of.

PAIN is the second bad companion. The pains of old age often spring from the follies, sins, and recklessness of youth. Pain cannot always be prevented — but very much is brought on by ourselves. Many old people are full of pains, which are the effects of their carelessness, rashness, and wickedness in youth. A poor old man full of pain is to be pitied; and yet if we knew the origin of many of his pains — we would be obliged to say that he himself is to be blamed. Friends, if you would not have pain for a companion when you are old — live simply, take regular exercise in the open air, and stay away from rich foods.

PROCRASTINATION is the third bad companion. This has been called "the thief of time!" As, therefore, it would steal one of your most precious jewels — beware of it!

~  ~  ~  ~

And what do many do?

(James Smith, "The Zealous Christian!" 1864)

Silver and gold are given to us as God's stewards — and we are to use them for His glory. He often gives them, and then seems to leave us to ourselves, saying, "I will just see what you will do with them."

And what do many do? Look . . .
  at their opulent homes,
  at their lavish furniture,
  at their plush clothes,
  at their vain amusements,
  at their expensive foods,
  at their . . . . . . .
But I forbear!

Only just look on the other hand, at what they give . . .
  to support the ministry,
  to assist missions,
  to circulate the Bible,
  to distribute tracts,
  to relieve the poor, etc. etc.
Can we say of such people, as Paul did of others, "None of us lives to himself?"

If these are God's stewards — are they

~  ~  ~  ~

Living expositions of the truth!

(James Smith, "The Zealous Christian!" 1864)

Coldness and lukewarmness in the ways of God, are peculiarly offensive to our Lord and Savior; for if anyone deserves our whole hearts, if anyone ought to have the whole of our energies — it is Jesus!

We should be zealous for the truth of the gospel.
It is God's mind.
It is the revelation of the Savior's love.
It is the remedy for the sinner's woes.
It is the charter of the Church's privileges.
It is dear to God's heart.
It is watched over with a jealous eye.
It should be prized as inestimably valuable.
It is . . .
  the mirror, in which God is seen;
  the map, on which our road is marked out;
  the law, by which our duty is made plain!

"That they may adorn the teaching of God our Savior in everything!" Titus 2:10

We should zealously adorn the Gospel. Not by the tinsel of human eloquence — but by a consistent and holy walk.

We ought to be living expositions of the truth!

In our conduct — the nature and tendency of the Gospel ought to be seen!

By our meekness and gentleness,
by our fidelity and prudence,
by our self-denial and benevolence,
by our temperance and brotherly kindness,
by our patience and fervent love —
we ought to adorn the most holy truth of God!
God calls for it.
The Gospel is calculated to produce it!

~  ~  ~  ~

It is high time to awake out of sleep!

(James Smith, "The Zealous Christian!" 1864)

"Be zealous!" Revelation 3:19

The zealous Christian is sure of . . .
  God's blessing,
  the approbation of his own conscience,
  the opposition of Satan,
  the frown of every lukewarm professor,
  and the commendation of all godly people.

Let us warm our hearts at the fire of God's love!

Let us quicken our motives by a visit to the cross!

Let us sharpen our weapons by communion with the Spirit!

Let us seek the grace, the courage, the strength necessary at the mercy seat — and then let us zealously fall to work. Let . . .
  the work of God be our delight,
  the welfare of our fellow-men be our aim,
  and the glory of the Lord be our highest object!

Let us live in earnest. Let us live to purpose.

By the shortness of time,
by the solemnities of death,
by the realities of eternity,
by the danger of lost sinners,
by the vigilance of Satan,
by the poor state of the Church,
by the character of the present times,
by the command of God,
by the example of primitive believers,
and by the counsel of the Lord Jesus —
let us stir up our hearts — and stir up one another to "Be zealous!"

Brethren, the time is short, and "It is high time to awake out of sleep!"

By the spread of Popery,
by the activity of infidelity,
by the condition of our cities,
by the needs of the Church,
by the woes of the world,
by the authority of God,
by the blood of the cross,
by the promise of the Spirit,
by the prospect of success,
by the rest of the grave,
by the glories of Heaven,
by the terrors of Hell,
by the rewards of activity, and
by the condemnation of the lukewarm and the slothful
 — allow me to beseech you to "Be zealous!"

Be zealous today — tomorrow you may die!

Be zealous in time — and in eternity, you will rejoice that you have been so!

~  ~  ~  ~

Can this be — for such a vile wretch like me?

(James Smith's autobiography, "Marvelous Mercy!" 1862)

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

Lord, You have said, "I will cast all your sins into the depths of the sea!" They shall be carried into a land of everlasting forgetfulness. And to confirm all, You have added, "I will never leave you nor forsake you!" Is this, can this be — for such a vile wretch like me? O wondrous mercy! O boundless sovereign, everlasting, unchangeable, love! Yes, it suits me, because it is all of grace, free grace, from first to last — without works, and without boasting.

O how shall I sufficiently admire, bless, praise, and adore the grace "that buries all my sins" and rejoice in that glorious righteousness in which I stand perfect before a holy God! I feel ready to cry out, "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, for He has clothed vile, polluted, Hell-deserving me — with the garments of salvation! He has covered me with the robe of righteousness!"

Why is this? O Lord, why is this — that I am made to hear your pardoning voice — while thousands are left to perish in their sins, who are much better than I am? It is even so, Father — for so it seems good in Your sight.

O wondrous depth of sovereign grace, without either a shore or a bottom! Lord, lead me into it, and there let me bathe to all eternity! May I know the wondrous love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge! I now feel as if I was lost in an endless subject — the astonishing love of Christ — the sovereign, boundless, bottomless, free, and eternal love of Christ! O how wonderful that such a poor, vile, wretched, nothing creature, as I am — should be interested in it! Surely none but Jesus could, and none but Jesus would — so love one so vile as me; but He has done it!

What shall I render unto the Lord, my covenant God — for His boundless mercy to such a guilty, Hell-deserving, sinner as I am? O Lord, may I gaze, admire, and adore!

~  ~  ~  ~

The height of folly, arrogance, and weakness!

(James Smith's autobiography, "Marvelous Mercy!" 1862)

O to be well pleased with all that my Heavenly Father appoints for me in this valley of tears! Yet, how prone I am . . .
  to murmur at the Lord's inscrutable ways,
  to call into question His infinite wisdom, and
  to arraign His wondrous love at the bar of my poor reason!

This is the height of folly, arrogance, and weakness — and yet I am often guilty of it!

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

~  ~  ~  ~

Draw me — or drive me!

(James Smith's autobiography, "Marvelous Mercy!" 1862)

The following in an excerpt from the diary of James Smith:
It has just occurred to me, that the reason why the Lord has of late allowed me to be so severely tried — is that I have been very little at His throne of grace. Nor have His promises appeared so precious, pleadable, and suited to my case.

Jesus is determined to have me often at His throne, and if the invitations and promises of His Word will not draw me there — then He will send trials to drive me there! Blessed Jesus, are you not saying to me by every trial, "Call upon Me! Make use of Me! See what I will do for you!"

What a proof of the deep depravity and base ingratitude of my heart is this — that You are obliged to send trials and troubles to bring me to Your feet! Yet it is so! For unless drawn by the cords of Your loving-kindness, or driven by painful trials — I seldom come to You with earnestness, fervor, and life!

I am so prone to wander, to be light and trifling — troubled by shadows, and excited by mere trifles! I abhor myself because I am vile! O how base my heart is, to despise so glorious a privilege, and to neglect so choice a duty!
O Jesus, cleanse it by Your precious blood!
O Holy Spirit, purify it by Your sacred operations, and keep it by Your power!
O Righteous Father, devote it wholly to Yourself! Give me submission — help me patiently to carry my cross after Jesus, though it is rough, heavy, and galling. From the depths of my heart I can say,
"A sinful, weak, and helpless worm;
 On Your kind arms I fall!"

What a proof of the loving-kindness of Jesus to my soul is this — that He will not allow me to be comfortable or happy, while living at distance from Him!

Blessed Jesus! pardon me, correct me — but never leave me to myself! Draw me — or drive me; but never allow me to live long at a distance from You!

Gracious Lord Jesus,
  keep me near You,
  looking to You,
  living for You,
  leaning on You,
  believing in You, and
  expecting from You, all that I need!

Surely this is a sweet life — living on Jesus alone, making Him all in all!

"O bring me to Your sacred feet,
 And let me rove no more!"

~  ~  ~  ~

The poor creature went on eating the cheese!

(Charles Spurgeon)

A mouse was caught by its tail in a trap the other day — and the poor creature went on eating the cheese!

Many people are doing the same. They know that they are guilty before God, and they dread their punishment — but they go on nibbling at their beloved sins!

"Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows!" Galatians 6:7

~  ~  ~  ~

We find that they are empty bubbles!

(J.C. Ryle)

"Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world — the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does — comes not from the Father but from the world!" 1 John 2:15-16

The possession of the whole world, and all that it contains — will never make a person happy. Its pleasures are false and deceptive! Its riches, rank, and honors, have no power to satisfy the heart! So long as we have not got them — they glitter, sparkle, and seem desirable. The moment we have them — we find that they are empty bubbles, and cannot make us feel content.

And, worst of all, when we possess this world's good things to the utmost bound of our desire — we cannot keep them! Death comes in and separates us from all our property forever! Naked we came upon earth, and naked we go forth — and of all our possessions, we can carry nothing with us.

Such is the world, which occupies the whole attention of thousands!

Such is the world, for the sake of which millions are every year destroying their souls!

"This world is fading away, along with everything that people crave!" 1 John 2:17

~  ~  ~  ~

It blights and blasts!

(James Smith's autobiography, "Marvelous Mercy!" 1862)

The following in an excerpt from the diary of James Smith:
December, 1850.
Popery and the aggression of the Pope, just now engage almost everyone's attention. Many liberals appear to me to sympathize a great deal too much with the Man of Sin. The Pope is anti-Christ! Popery is alike the enemy of God and man. It is the mystery of iniquity! It blights and blasts every country where it reigns. It is drunk with the blood of the saints. It hates God's Book, and persecutes God's people to the utmost of its power — and therefore we ought to oppose it!

(Editor's note: the same could be said of the Islam religion.)

~  ~  ~  ~

If they knew all about us!

(James Smith's autobiography, "Marvelous Mercy!" 1862)

The following in an excerpt from the diary of James Smith:
I am daily more and more vexed with myself — because I am so unlike Jesus — so unlike what I ought to be, and what I wish to be. I shall never glorify Him as I ought, while I have to carry about this body of sin and death.

How kind it is of our gracious God, to conceal from others — what He Himself sees within us; and which if known by others — would alienate them from us, and fill them with disgust! What contemptible creatures we would appear to our friends — if they knew all about us!

We may study our own hearts, and if we study them under the cross, it will not injure us — but benefit us. But no man may study his brother's heart — he is not to be admitted into the chambers of idols within. We may form some idea of the hearts of others — by our own; for as face answers to face in water — so does the heart of man to man.

I find it very difficult to believe that another's heart is as bad as mine — except in the case of some heinous criminal. I cannot charge my friend with being so depraved as I am — for having such base thoughts, vile inclinations, and abominable desires, as I have. But perhaps others think the very same respecting me.

"The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked! Who really knows how bad it is?" Jeremiah 17:9

~  ~  ~  ~

The reason why He is not loved

(James Smith, "Love to Christ!" 1864)

"Yes, He is altogether lovely!" Song of Songs 5:16

Love is generally drawn forth by beauty exhibited, or by kindness shown. We love the beautiful and the benevolent.

But to the carnal mind, there is no beauty in Jesus — because its taste is vitiated, and its perception is depraved. It calls darkness, light; and light, darkness. It puts bitter for sweet — and sweet for bitter. We do not expect the natural man to see the beauty of the Redeemer's person, or to be inflamed to love by His attractions. Still the beautiful ought to be loved, and "He is altogether lovely!" The reason why He is not loved, is to be found in the corruption of human nature, and the depravity of the sinner's heart.

If you see nothing in Jesus to love — then it is evident that you are under the power of darkness. If you have never really loved Him — then you are dead in trespasses and sins. What a dreadful state! What a fearful thought is this!

Yes, no one will love Him — unless the heart is changed by the Holy Spirit. The mind must be completely changed, before it will love Christ.
He is light — but men love darkness.
He is holy — but men love sin.
He is the image of God — but men love the likeness of Satan.

The Holy Spirit, speaking by the Apostle Paul, says, "If any man does not love the Lord Jesus Christ — let him be accursed!" 1 Corinthians 16:22. How terrible, "let him be accursed!" Let him be condemned by God, driven from God, and be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of God!

"What! blessed apostle, meek and gentle servant of Christ — doom every one to Hell who does not love the Savior?"
"Yes, without anger, without any improper feeling, I say — If any man does not love the Lord Jesus Christ — let him be accursed!"

"But think how terrible a place Hell is, how awful God's curse must be, and what tremendous agonies are included in eternal punishment?"
"I have thought of that, and, while full of love to man, and desiring above all things, the salvation of all who hear me, or read what I write — yet I repeat — If any man does not love the Lord Jesus Christ — let him be accursed!"

"What! that fine young man?"
"Yes, if he does not love Christ."

"What! that amiable young woman?"
"Yes, if she does not love Christ."

"What! that venerable, silver-haired, prudent, and kind-hearted old man?"
"Yes, if he does not love Christ. I make no exceptions. If any person does not love Jesus — then he deserves to be accursed — his doom and destiny is to be accursed!"

~  ~  ~  ~

The temptation, and the opportunity

(James Smith's autobiography, "Marvelous Mercy!" 1862)

The following in an excerpt from the diary of James Smith:

I have just heard that an old friend, far advanced in life, has fallen into sin! May the Lord pardon and restore him.

In looking back, I wonder that I have not publicly fallen; for I have been powerfully tempted to other sins, equally as bad. I have regularly observed, that in my experience the Lord has not often allowed the temptation, and the opportunity — to meet! And when they have, fear has worked powerfully and kept me back.

"But as for me — my feet were almost gone! My steps had well near slipped!" Psalm 73:2

Ah, how frequently have I been almost gone! I can call to mind places and times, when I have been in the very mouth of danger, on the brink of a fearful fall — and yet the Lord has held me up! But for special keepingwhere would I have been this morning? And what would I be? Blessed be God, though it was almost — it was not fully. This word, almost, has been sweet to my soul.

Almost Gone! — but altogether saved, through God's most free, and all-glorious grace!

But I would not merely be kept from open sin, I desire to be so deeply sanctified, that my soul may . . .
  hate, abhor, and detest sin in every form,
  tremble at its approach, and
  flee from the very appearance of evil — to Jesus!

I find that my nature is still corrupt, depraved, and polluted; and that . . .
  the blood of Jesus,
  the restraining power of the Holy Spirit,
  and the forgiving grace of God
 — are as necessary as ever!

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

~  ~  ~  ~

The Drunkard's Will

(by Gorham D. Abbott, 1833) 

"I, ________, beginning to be enfeebled in body, and fearing that I may soon be palsied in mind, and having entered upon that course of drinking from which I have not resolution to flee; do make and publish this, my last will and testament —

Having been made in the image of my Creator, capable of rational enjoyment, of imparting happiness to others, and of promoting the glory of God — I know my accountability. Yet such is my fondness for sensual gratification, and my utter indisposition to resist temptation, that I give myself entirely to alcohol and its associate vices, and make the following bequests —

My property I give to be wastedknowing it will soon fall into the hands of those who furnish me with liquor.

My reputation, already tottering on a sandy foundationI give to destruction.

To my beloved wife, who has cheered me thus far through lifeI give shame, poverty, sorrow, and a broken heart.

To each of my children — I bequeath my example, and the inheritance of the shame of their father's character.

I give my body — to disease, misery, and early death.

Finally, I give my soul, which can never dieto the disposal of that God whose commands I have broken, and who has warned me by His Word — that no drunkard shall inherit the kingdom of heaven."

Drunkard, this is your will!

"Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine. Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper!" Proverbs 23:29-32

(Editor's note: I have worked in a hospital for over 40 years — and have personally cared for hundreds of such miserable alcoholics. I assure you that the above description is not in any way, an over-statement! Drinking alcohol in moderation is certainly not a sin. Yet Christians should think hard and long, before they flaunt their liberty before weaker brethren or their children — lest they become stumbling blocks to others! The power and influence of example is enormous — especially to our children.)

~  ~  ~  ~

O how strange — that God should love a worm, a dung-hill worm!

The following is an excerpt from the diary of James Smith)

August 28, 1857.
If some of my congregation knew me better — they would love me less! Yet my heavenly Father . . .
  knows me well,
  favors me much,
  and loves me wonderfully!
O how strange — that God should love a worm, a dung-hill worm — one who was bred in sin, loved sin, felt at home in sin, and at times felt regret that he was debarred from some sins! O if God had left me to myself — what would I have been, and what would I have done! "But by the grace of God — I am what I am!" 1 Corinthians 15:10

Surely, surely, I must say, that divine love and wisdom have planned my path — from first to last. I am . . .
  out of Hell,
  in the way to Heaven,
  employed by God,
  useful to saints, and
  a blessing to sinners!
O how wonderful, how wonderful is this!

~  ~  ~  ~

Almost gone!

(The following is an excerpt from the diary of James Smith)

"But as for me — my feet were almost gone! My steps had well near slipped!" Psalm 73:2

Ah, how frequently have I been almost gone! I can call to mind places and times, when I have been in the very mouth of danger, on the brink of a fearful fall — and yet the Lord has held me up! But for 'special keeping' — where would I have been this morning? And what would I have been? Blessed be God, though it was almost — it was not quite. This word, almost, has been sweet to my soul. Almost gone! — but altogether saved, through God's most free, and all-glorious grace!

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

~  ~  ~  ~

My little daughter Ann was in good health on Monday — and on Thursday she was a corpse!

(The following in an excerpt from James Smith's Autobiography, when he was 28 years old)

Another sharp stroke! My little daughter Ann was in good health on Monday — and on Thursday she was a corpse! She died just two months after her sister Mercy. But the words of the Patriarch came to silence and humble me, "If He snatches someone in death — who can stop Him? Who dares to ask: What are You doing?"

I fear I loved her too much, for she was a beautiful child. Well, she is gone — and I must follow her, nor can I tell how soon.

"The Lord gave — and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised!" Job 1:21

~  ~  ~  ~

He may be on earth at noon — but in Hell at night!

(James Smith, "The Dangerous Progress!" 1864)

"They walk on in darkness!"
Psalm 82:5

The minds of sinners make progress — but it is in the wrong path! They started wrong. They will not believe that they are wrong. Therefore they walk on to their own destruction. It is a painful sight to see thousands, and tens of thousands of travelers, passing through this world — and all going wrong! Every step they take, leaves us less hope — and gives the Prince of darkness more power over them. In temporal things — they see clearly enough; but in spiritual things — they are stone-blind! "They walk on in darkness."

Darkness is the emblem of IGNORANCE. They are ignorant . . .
   of their true state before God,
   of the character of the God who made them,
   of the just desert of sin,
   of the only Savior who can deliver them,
   of the way of escape opened up before them,
   and of the dreadful doom that awaits them!
They walk on in ignorance! If they were not so ignorant — they would surely fly to the Lord Jesus to save them.

Darkness is also the emblem of SIN. They live . . .
   in the violation of God's holy law,
   neglecting Christ's gracious gospel, and
   making SELF the end of their existence.

They live to themselves,
they live for themselves,
they neglect God's requirements,
they despise His invitations,
they turn their backs on His throne of grace,
they treat His Book with contempt,
they waste their time in idleness and folly
 — and yet talk as if they expected that He would have mercy upon them at last! They walk on in sin — and yet hope to arrive in Heaven at last!

Darkness represents DANGER. These people are in imminent danger! Disease may arrest them at any hour! Death may remove them out of this world at any moment!
Disease introduces death,
death ushers into the presence of God,
and God dooms the careless sinner to Hell!

He may be in health in the morning — but a corpse at noon!

He may be on earth at noon — but in Hell at night!

He walks upon snares. He is surrounded by the officers of justice. He may be seized any moment. Once seized . . .
  hope departs,
  despair approaches, and
  outer darkness closes up the scene!

And yet they walk on in thoughtlessness! They . . .
  fool away their time,
  neglect their opportunities of escape,
  disregard the warning voice, and
  perish in their own deceivings!

Beast-like — they have no concern for any of these things. They say they shall not be worse off than others — as if it were any relief to be no worse than others, where all are in misery, agony and endless woe! Not worse off than others! Yes, they will — for it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for them. Not worse off than others! Indeed they will — for the men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment and condemn them. Not worse off than others! This is a mistake — for careless, indifferent, Christ-rejecting sinners, "will receive the greater damnation!"

"They walk on in darkness," but if they persevere in doing so — then how fearful will their end be. It will be . . .
   misery without mercy,
   darkness without light,
   despair without prospect of deliverance —
and all the result of a willful determination to "walk on in darkness!"

~  ~  ~  ~

It is difficult to say which is the more astonishing!

(James Smith, "Daily Food for the Lord's Flock!" 1848)

"You are my portion, O Lord!" Psalm 119:57

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever!" Psalm 73:26

It is difficult to say which is the more astonishing:
  that God should be our portion, or
  that He should take us to be His portion!

"The Lord's portion is His people!" Deuteronomy 32:9

"Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name; you are Mine!" Isaiah 43:1

~  ~  ~  ~

When the tears trickled down His blessed face!

(John MacDuff, "The Character and Claims of the Redeemer" 1859)

"Jesus wept!" John 11:35

There is no doubt but that our Lord often wept — for He was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. There are, however, only three seasons expressly referred to — when the tears trickled down His blessed face.

One was during His triumphant entrance into Jerusalem: "And when He came near, He beheld the city, and wept over it!" Another occasion was when He agonized in the garden of Gethsemane: "During His earthly life, He offered prayers and appeals with loud cries and tears to the One who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence."

The other instance is the one before us — let us turn aside, and see this affecting sight! The whole company, it seems, was deeply moved; for we are told that Martha and Mary wept. The Jews also, who came to comfort the two sorrowing sisters, wept; and with peculiar emphasis, in a verse by itself, the shortest in the whole Bible — but not less precious on that account, it is said that "Jesus wept!"

Behold the interesting group, the Savior standing in the midst, as the most commanding object — all bathed in tears! It was not long, however, before the weeping ceased; or, if it continued, it would be for joy — a joy proportioned to the depth of the previous sorrow!

How pleasing is the thought that we have in Jesus, not merely a Being of boundless power and supreme authority — but a living, tender, sympathizing Friend! He can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities on the one hand, and of our sorrows on the other hand — having been in all respects tried and afflicted, even as we are. Should we not, then, be encouraged to look to Him, especially in seasons of distress? And, if we do so, He will be to us, what He has ever been to His people —
a very present help in time of need!

~  ~  ~  ~

O suffering saint!

(John MacDuff, "The Promised Land" 1859)

"And the days of your mourning shall be ended!" Isaiah 60:20

The present world is a valley of tears — a wilderness of woe. While passing through it, we are exposed to sorrows and sufferings of various kinds. Pain and disease beset us on every side; and many, in the extremity of their anguish, wish for death rather than life.

Here we are subject to innumerable troubles; our fondest hopes may be blasted, and we may be called to survey the wreck of all that we once possessed.

Here the dearest friends are snatched from each other's embrace! The ruthless spoiler respects neither rank nor age — he tears asunder the very heart-strings of our nature, and seems to delight in trampling upon the tenderest sympathies of the soul. The parent is called to weep over the remains of a much-loved child; the husband has to mourn the loss of the partner of his life; the lover and friend are cut off by a stroke — and the desire of our eyes is taken away.

From a thousand sources, do our present distresses spring; and the streams of sorrow, in all their sad variety, follow us, more or less, through the whole course of our earthly pilgrimage.

But in Heaven, all our troubles will be over! No sorrow will be there. All temporal and all spiritual evils will be entirely banished. No disappointment, no anxiety, will be there. No wearisome nights, no dismal moanings, no tossings to and fro until the dawning of the day — will be there. There will be no sickness to blast — and no death to devour there. There will be no Rachel weeping for her children, no broken-hearted father exclaiming, "O Absalom, my son, my son," there. There will be no separation from those we love there. There will be no faithless friends to wound our hearts and betray our confidence there. There will be no being vexed from day to day with the filthy lives of the wicked there. There will be . . .
   no temptations there;
   no fightings without — or fears within;
   no hardness of heart — or stings of conscience;
   no obscuring clouds, or contrary winds, or tossing waves, there.

No, nothing to grieve, nothing to cause a single sigh to rise from the bosom, or a single tear to fall from the eye — will be there.

But joy and peace will be there; and cheerful hearts and beaming countenances will be there; and the conqueror's song, and waving palms, and harps of gold, and robes of spotless white, will be there.

O suffering saint! Think much of what is there — it will help you to bear up and to press on under your load of sorrow here. It is only for a little while, that you will have to traverse this howling desert; and then, having passed the narrow stream of death — you shall know Heaven by happy experience! "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined — what God has prepared for those who love Him!"

  ~  ~  ~  ~

Trust His heart — even when you can't trace His hand!

(John MacDuff, "The Promised Land!" 1859)

"And He led them forth by the right way — that they might go to a city of habitation." Psalm 107:7

God's thoughts are not as our thoughts — neither are His ways as our ways! This truth is strikingly exemplified in the manner in which He led the Israelites from Egypt to the promised land. We would have chosen the way that was nearest and most direct — but God decided otherwise. He led them round about through the wilderness, and that for the space of forty years! And not merely was it the most distant way — but it was the most dangerous way as well. It was a land of deserts and of pits — a land of drought and death — a land that no man passed through, and where no man dwelt.

But, as strange as it appeared, we are fully justified in saying that it was wisely arranged.
Their long detainments;
their tiresome and circuitous wanderings;
their fierce conflicts with the Moabites and the Amalekites;
the bitter waters which they had to drink; and
the fiery serpents with which they were stung —
all fulfilled the high purposes of Him who is excellent in counsel, as well as wonderful in working. However contrary His way might have been to theirs — yet "He led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation."

And His dealings with His people now, are still as unusual, and as much opposed to all their preconceived plans — as were His dealings with the Israelites! He has crossed their own schemes, and thwarted their most fondly-cherished purposes! He always effects His own ends — in His own way!

Christian, what is your duty?

It is to cherish high thoughts of God in all His inscrutable dealings towards you.

It is to trust His heart — even when you can't trace His hand; believing that "all the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, unto such as keep His covenant and His testimonies."

It is to follow His guidance continually; for as He led His people of old with "the cloud by day, the pillared fire by night" — so He has promised to direct all your steps, and preserve all your goings.

It is to wait His time; for although the way may appear long and tedious — yet remember, "all is well, that ends well." And what will the end be? "And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joy upon their heads! They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away!"