Grace Gems for DECEMBER 2011


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The way to Hell looks pleasant!


(Henry Ward Beecher, "Lectures to Young Men on Various Important Subjects" 1849)

Hell is populated with the victims of harmless amusements!

Will men never learn, that the way to Hell is through the Valley of Deceit!

When Satan approaches to charm us, it is not as a grim fiend, gleaming from a ghastly cloud but as an angel of light, radiant with innocence. His words fall like dew upon the flower as musical as the crystal-drop warbling from a fountain. Beguiled by his deceits, he leads you to the enchanted ground.

Oh you, who have thought that the way to Hell was . . .
  as bleak and frozen as the Arctic,
  as parched and barren as the Sahara,
  strewed like Golgotha with bones and skulls,
  reeking with stench like the valley of Gehenna
  witness your mistake! The way to Hell looks pleasant! It is a broad highway. The enchanted victim travels on. Startled for a moment, the victim pauses; gazes around upon the flowery scene, and whispers, Is it not harmless? "Harmless," responds a serpent from the grass!

You who are meddling with the edges of vice, you are on this road and utterly duped by its enchantments! The leprosy is all over you its blotches and eruptions cover you! Your feet stand on slippery places, whence in due time they shall slide, if you refuse the warning which I raise. They shall slide down to that fiery abyss below you, out of which none ever come!

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From such love may I ever be delivered!

(J.C. Ryle, "Christian Love" 1878)

Christian love does not consist in approving everybody's religious opinions. Here is another most serious and growing delusion. There are many who pride themselves on never pronouncing others mistaken whatever views they may hold. Your neighbor may be an Atheist, or a Buddhist, or a Roman Catholic, or a Mormonite, a Deist, or a Skeptic, a mere Formalist, or a thorough Antinomian. But the "love" of many says that you have no right to think him wrong! "If he is sincere then it is uncharitable to think unfavorably of his spiritual condition!"

From such love may I ever be delivered!

At this rate, the Apostles were wrong in going out to preach to the Gentiles!

At this rate, there is no use in missions!

At this rate, we had better close our Bibles, and shut up our churches!

At this rate, everybody is right and nobody is wrong!

At this rate, everybody is going to Heaven and nobody is going to Hell!

Such love is a monstrous caricature! To say that all are equally right in their opinions though their opinions flatly contradict one another; to say that all are equally in the way to Heaven though their doctrinal sentiments are as opposite as black and white this is not Scriptural love. Love like this pours contempt on the Bible, and talks as if God had not given us a written standard of truth. Love like this, confuses all our notions of Heaven, and would fill it with a discordant inharmonious rabble.

True love does not think everybody right in doctrine. True love cries, "Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world!" 1 John 4:1. "If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching do not take him into your house or welcome him!" 2 John 1:10

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The road by which the Spirit leads God's children!

(J.C. Ryle, "Heirs of God" 1878)

"As many as are led by the Spirit of God they are the sons of God." Romans 8:14

All true Christians are under the leading and teaching of a power which is Almighty, though unseen even the power of the Holy Spirit. They no longer turn to their own way, and walk in the light of their own eyes, and follow their own natural heart's desire. The Spirit leads them. The Spirit guides them. There is a movement in their hearts, lives, and affections, which they feel though they may not be able to explain; and a movement which is always more or less in the same direction.

They are all led . . .
  away from sin,
  away from self-righteousness,
  away from the world!

This is the road by which the Spirit leads God's children. Those whom God adopts as His children He teaches and trains. He shows them their own hearts. He makes them weary of their own ways.

They are all led to Christ.
They are all led to the Bible.
They are all led to prayer.
They are all led to holiness.
This is the beaten path along which the Spirit makes them to travel.
Those whom God adopts He always sanctifies.
He makes sin very bitter to them.
He makes holiness very sweet.

When they are taken into the wilderness, and taught to see their own emptiness it is the leading of the Spirit.

It is He who leads them to Sinai, and first shows them the law that their hearts may be broken.

It is He who leads them to Calvary, and shows them the cross that their hearts may be bound up and healed.

It is He who leads them to Pisgah, and gives them distinct views of the promised land that their hearts may be cheered.

Each and all of God's children is the subject of these leadings. And each and all is led by the right way, to bring him to a city of habitation.

Settle this down in your heart, and do not let it go: the children of God are a people "led by the Spirit of God," and always led more or less in the same way. Their experience will tally wonderfully when they compare notes in Heaven.

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When you find 'thorns' in your path!


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

"I will hedge up your way with thorns!" Hosea 2:6

These words are spoken to the backslider; they flow from God's love, and indicate painful opposition in the path of spiritual declension. It is a fearful thing to be allowed to choose, and pursue our own way without divine obstruction!

But if God loves us He will oppose us, when we are found in forbidden paths!

He will lay the 'thorns' in our way!

He will wound us in order to restore us!

The wounded child will go home for healing for the sense of pain and danger will humble its proud and haughty spirit.

Beloved, when you find 'thorns' in your path, just stop and ask,
"Am I in the right road?
 Is this the true pilgrim's path?
 Does this way lead to my Father's house?"

For the 'thorns' are intended to . . .
  awaken inquiry,
  produce reflection, and
  bring to repentance.

We often see and feel the thorns but we do not see the hand that laid them in our path. Perhaps we do not dream that it is our heavenly Father but are ready to say, "An enemy has done this!"

These thorns are . . .
  sometimes bodily afflictions,
  sometimes losses and crosses, and
  sometimes opposition from worldly men.

But whatever may be the nature of the thorns our Father Himself laid them in our path!

"I will hedge up your way with thorns!"
Hosea 2:6

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Our portion!

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

"They shall rejoice in their portion!" Isaiah 61:7

The Lord's people often appear to have very little to rejoice in on earth as the ground of their joy is invisible.

The Lord is their portion now and in possessing Him they really possess all things. The Lord Himself is their inheritance.

They shall possess the glorious land also, as their portion soon. It is a land . . .
  where storms never arise,
  where diseases never come,
  where sorrow is never known,
  where pain is never felt,
  where the Lamb shall be their light,
  and a present God their glory!

But they may and do rejoice along their way to this glorious land!

They rejoice that they have infallible direction so that they can never miss their road!
 
They rejoice that they have omnipotent protection so that they shall safely arrive at the end!

They rejoice that they have unfailing supplies so that they shall never be left to necessity!

They rejoice that they have a sovereign God who overrules everything for their good!

They shall rejoice in their PORTION:
  in its greatness for it is as vast as infinity;
  in its goodness for it is the best in existence;
  in its permanence for it shall never pass into other hands;
  in its purity for it is perfect holiness;
  and in its certainty for it can never be forfeited or lost!

"They shall rejoice in their portion!"

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A thorough hatred


(Charles Spurgeon, "Treasury of David")

"You hate all workers of iniquity!"
Psalm 5:5

"It is not a little dislike but a thorough hatred which God bears to workers of iniquity. To be hated by God is an awful thing. O let us be very faithful in warning the wicked around us, for it will be a terrible thing for them to fall into the hands of an angry God!" Charles Spurgeon

"What a vile thing is sin, which makes the God of love and Father of mercies into an enemy to His creatures; and which could only be purged by the blood of the Son of God!" Thomas Adams

"Not only the work but worker of iniquity also becomes the object of His hatred." William Gurnall

"Those whom the Lord hates, must perish. What is more due to such impenitent sinners, than hatred? What is more proper than wrath since they treasure up wrath? Will He entertain those in the bosom of His love those whom His soul hates? No! Destruction is their portion. What is that which Christ hates? As Christ hates iniquity, so also the "workers of iniquity." David Clarkson

"If God's hatred is against the workers of iniquity then how great is it against iniquity itself! If a man hates a poisonous creature he hates poison much more. The strength of God's hatred is against sin and so should we hate sin, and hate it with all our strength! Sin is an abomination unto God let it be so unto us!" William Greenhill

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Only another name for "Trouble"

(J.C. Ryle, "Happiness" 1878)

It is an utter mistake to suppose that RICHES alone can give happiness. They can enable a man to command and possess everything but inward peace! They cannot buy a cheerful spirit and a light heart. There is . . .
  care in the getting of them,
  care in the keeping of them,
  care in the using of them,
  care in the disposing of them,
  care in the gathering of them,
  and care in the scattering of them!

He was a wise man who said that "Money" was only another name for "Trouble," and that the same English letters which spelled "acres" would also spell "cares."

Are you poor? Are you tempted to imagine that if you had the rich man's place that you would be quite happy? Resist the temptation, and cast it behind you. Do not envy your wealthy neighbors be content with such things as you have. Happiness does not depend on houses or lands! Silks and satins cannot shut out sorrow from the heart! Castles cannot prevent anxiety and care coming in at their doors. There is as much misery riding and driving about in splendid carriages as there is walking about on foot! There is as much unhappiness in large mansions as in poor cottages!

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Reputation or character?


(Thomas Paine)

Reputation is what other people think of us.
Character is what God knows of us.

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Prayer for weanedness from the world

(John MacDuff, "Evening Incense" 1856)

"They are not of the world even as I am not of the world." John 17:16

O my God, I desire to come into Your gracious presence. May the incense-offering of gratitude and thanksgiving ascend from a grateful heart. How manifold are the proofs I have to recount of kindness on Your part! How deep the ingratitude I have to mourn on my own! My sins have reached unto the clouds they are more in number than the sands of the sea! You are of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. I cannot evade Your righteous scrutiny all things are naked and open unto the eyes of Him with whom I have to do!

Lord, I mourn the debasing influence of earthly things the fascinating power of a present evil world. How inclined I am to conform to its evil maxims and unholy practices! How often I am found among those who "mind earthly things" my soul cleaving to the dust, instead of soaring upwards to Yourself, my sole satisfying portion!

O Lord, it is my earnest prayer that You would wean me from the world. Keep me from over-anxiety about the things that are seen from being over-careful and troubled about earth's "many things" to the exclusion of the one thing needful!

Break every alluring worldly spell!

Disenchant temporal things of their false and delusive charm!

By all the beneficial discipline of Your providence disengage me from what is fleeting, uncertain, transient, perishable; and unite me to the things which cannot be shaken but which remain forever! May my heart be more in Heaven imbibing more of the pilgrim spirit. May I declare plainly that I seek a better country.

May I be driven nearer and closer to Him who is the true refuge and portion and Savior of His people. I rejoice to think that He has . . .
  a balm for every wound,
  a comfort for every bosom,
  a solace for every tear!

May it be mine to go up through this 'wilderness world' leaning on His loving and omnipotent arm!

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A proud Christian


(
John MacDuff, "The Footsteps of Jesus" 1856)

"I hate pride and arrogance!" Proverbs 8:13

Humility may be defined as consisting in:
1. a profound self-abasement before God, arising from a deep sense of our sinfulness;
2. and in a low estimation of ourselves, as we stand related to our fellow creatures, whatever is the extent of our attainments, or the importance of the station we occupy.

Upon this subject, too much stress cannot be laid for without humility, true religion cannot possibly exist. A proud Christian is a contradiction in terms. We might as well speak of a wise fool, of a wicked saint, of a sober drunkard, or of a chaste harlot as of a proud Christian! We may as soon expect delicate flowers to flourish in the frozen and barren regions of Siberia as that true piety should grow in the heart that is proud and haughty. A vine might as well thrive when a worm is gnawing at its root as that the soul should prosper and be in health, when its arrogance and pride are not subdued.

One of the Fathers of the Church, when asked which was the first principle in religion, replied, Humility. When asked which was the second, he said, Humility. And when asked which was the third, he again answered, Humility. So important was this grace in his estimation, that he regarded it as the beginning, the middle, and the end of true godliness. And we may truly say that where humility is absent, everything else in religion, is in vain. A person may possess the most splendid talents he may have the gift of miracles, and the knowledge of all mysteries but without true humility he is, in the sight of God, nothing but sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.

"God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." 1 Peter 5:5

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It is a practical and perpetual sermon!


(William Schenck, "Nearing Home; Comforts and Counsels for the Aged" 1868)

Nothing speaks so loudly as the silent eloquence of a holy and consistent life!
It is a practical and perpetual sermon!

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Soon I must go down that road from which I will never return!

(William Schenck, "Nearing Home; Comforts and Counsels for the Aged" 1868)

"Soon I must go down that road from which I will never return!" Job 16:22

An approaching journey lies before me. I have to pass from time to eternity; from this world to the next. And the time of my departure, although to me uncertain, cannot be very far distant. A few years perhaps a few days will close my stay on earth!

It is an unavoidable journey. I must go. There is no choice. Willing or unwilling, when God's summons for me arrives I shall have to set off.

It is an unknown journey, I have never taken it before. I have no practical acquaintance with the road, the mode of transit, the dangers or the discomforts which await me. And there is no one who can clearly explain them to me. Those of my friends who have traveled that way, have never come back to relate their experience.

It is a solitary journey. I must accomplish it alone. The most beloved of my present companions cannot accompany me. They may think of me, feel for me, pray for me but they cannot be with me. We must separate; they to remain behind and I go forward.

It is a momentous journey. For at its termination, I enter upon my everlasting destiny! It will convey me either to the mansions of happiness or to the abodes of misery! The narrow boundary between the present and the future state once crossed there will be no possibility of change. "He who is unjust let him be unjust still; and he who is righteous let him be righteous still." Revelation 22:11

It is a final journey. "Soon I must go down that road from which I will never return." My pilgrimage will be forever ended. It will be my last journey. And if I am a Christian, how welcome is this fact! I shall be done forever with sin and sorrow. Eternal felicity will be mine perfect holiness, and perfect happiness. This journey leads me . . .
  to my eternal home,
  to my Father's house,
  to my everlasting rest!

Then I will not shrink from its approach, nor complain of its accompaniments. It may be linked with much that is painful and unpleasant but it is my way home; and therefore, although life has many ties and many joys, I feel an earnest desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better than being here. "For this is not my resting place, because it is polluted, it is ruined, beyond all remedy!" Micah 2:10

Death is a solemn journey but it is a safe journey to Christ's people; for He will not only receive and welcome them at its close but He will be with them as they are passing through it. Oh, it will not be lonely with Him! And He is a guide who is well acquainted with the way, for He has trodden it Himself. He went for the purpose of smoothing its difficulties, clearing its dangers, dispersing its terrors and He fully accomplished His purpose. Therefore when I walk through the dark valley, I will fear no evil; for you, O Jesus, will be with me, and Your rod and your staff shall comfort me!

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Christ is exalted and Self is abased!

(Thomas Bradbury)

The longer a redeemed sinner lives the more he will want to know Christ.
The brighter the revelation of Christ to his soul the blacker SELF will be in his apprehension.
The more his heart is warmed with a sense of the love of his God the more he will mourn because of his coldness and deadness.

This is a paradox which no hypocrite or mere professor can understand. As the child of God grows in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and . . .
  sees more of His beauty,
  enjoys more of His bounty, and
  feels more of His blessedness
the more he is brought into a true conception of what he is in himself as a wretched, ruined, undeserving, and Hell-deserving sinner!

Yet he discovers something else a heart, yearning, longing, panting and desiring after communion with a glorious God, and fellowship with a precious Christ! As he grows in grace, Christ is exalted and Self is abased!

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Our everlasting All!


(James Smith)

"I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may win Christ!" Philippians 3:8

The aim of men in general is to make a fortune, enjoy the world, and live luxuriantly. The aim of the true believer is to win Christ. Jesus possesses all that he desires, and to possess Christ would satisfy his every wish.

We now receive much from Him, and we often enjoy His love; but we want to be present with Him, and to have full possession of Him as our everlasting All! He is set before us as our mark; He is held out as the prize; and is promised as the everlasting portion of every overcomer!

Where is your heart this morning?

Which way do your desires tend?

What is the object of your pursuit today?

If Jesus is the principal object, failing in our pursuit after other things, losses or crosses will not much affect us; but our conduct will say, "I aim to win Christ! If He is mine all is well; other things are but trifles compared with Him!"

Keeping Jesus in view thus, will . . .
  prevent murmuring,
  cure our impatience, and
  keep our hearts in comparative peace.

O may our every action cry in the ears of every observer, "THAT I MAY WIN CHRIST!" He who has Christ, has . . .
  an infinite portion;
  unsearchable wealth;
  and boundless resources!

"In Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures!" Psalm 16:11

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It is the same hand!

(J.C. Ryle)

Are you a distressed believer? Is your heart . . .
  pressed down with sickness,
  tried with disappointments,
  overburdened with cares?

To you I say, "Behold the cross of Christ!" Think whose hand it is that chastens you; think whose hand is measuring to you the 'cup of bitterness' which you are now drinking. It is the hand of Him who was crucified! It is the same hand which, in love to your soul, was nailed to the accursed tree! Surely that thought should comfort and hearten you. Surely you should say to yourself, "My crucified Savior will never lay upon me anything that is not for my good. There is a needs be. It must be well."

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Death is a change of company


(Thomas Brooks, "A Believer's Last Day, His Best Day")

"I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far!" Philippians 1:23

A believer's last day is his best day! Death is a change of company. In this world, the godliest man must live with the wicked, and converse with the wicked, etc. This is a part of their misery; it is their Hell on this side Heaven! This worked upon the heart of David: "Woe to me that I dwell in Meshech, that I live among the tents of Kedar!" Psalm 120:5

I have read of a godly woman, who, being near death, cried out, "O Lord, do not let me go to Hell where the wicked are, for You know that I never loved their company while in this life!"

"Oh, that I had in the desert, a lodging place for travelers so that I might leave my people and go away from them; for they are all adulterers, a crowd of unfaithful people!" Jeremiah 9:2

And this was that which vexed and tore Lot's righteous soul, "Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)." 2 Peter 2:7-8

Oh, but death is a change of company. A godly man does but change the company of profane people, of vile people, etc. for the company of God and angels; and the company of weak Christians for the company of just men made perfect.

"Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life." Revelation 21:27

"Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood." Revelation 22:15

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Death puts an end to all changes


(Thomas Brooks, "A Believer's Last Day, His Best Day")

"I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better
 by far!" Philippians 1:23

A believer's last day is his best day! Death puts an
end to all changes
. What is the whole life of a man
  but a life of changes?

Here on earth, you often change . . .
  your joy for sorrow,
  your health for sickness,
  your strength for weakness,
  your honor for dishonor,
  your plenty for poverty,
  your beauty for deformity,
  your friends for foes,
  your gold for copper.

All temporal things are transitory. Man himself
what is he but a mere nothing the dream of
a dream, a shadow, a bubble, a flash, a puff!

Now the comforts of a man are smiling
  but the next hour they are dying.

Now the Lord smiles upon the soul and
at another time He frowns upon the soul.

Now God gives assistance to conquer sin but
before long the man is carried captive by his sin.

Now he is strengthened against the temptation,
in a short while he falls before the temptation, etc.

But death puts an end to all changes. Now the
soul shall be tempted no more, sin no more, be
foiled no more. Now you may judge by this,
that a Christian's dying-day is his best day.

"And so we will be with the Lord forever!"
  1 Thessalonians 4:17

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Death brings the soul to a state of eternal rest


(Thomas Brooks, "A Believer's Last Day, His Best Day")

Revelation 14:13, "Blessed are the dead who die in
the Lord." Why? "They will rest from their labor!"

A believer's last day is his best day! Death brings
the soul to a state of eternal rest
. Death is . . .
  a rest from the trouble of our labors,
  a rest from afflictions,
  a rest from persecutions,
  a rest from temptation,
  a rest from sin, and
  a rest from sorrow.

Now while we are here in this present world, the soul
is in a perpetual agitation. The godliest man in the world,
who is highest and clearest in his enjoyments of God
either lacks some temporal mercy or spiritual mercy and
will do so until his soul is swallowed up in the everlasting
enjoyments of God!

Death brings a man to an unchangeable rest!

Death is a believer's coronation-day, it is his
marriage-day! Death is an eternal rest . . .
  from sin,
  from sorrow,
  from afflictions,
  from temptations.

Death to a believer is an entrance into
paradise into the joy of his Lord.

A believer's dying-day is his best day. The day
of his death better than the day of his birth!

"I desire to depart and be with Christ, which
 is better by far!" Philippians 1:23

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True Christian living in the world

("Golden Thoughts" 1879)

"Do not love the world, or anything in the world!" 1 John 2:15

True Christian living in the world, is like a ship sailing on the ocean. It is not the ship being in the water which will sink it but the water getting into the ship! So, in like manner, the Christian is not ruined by living in the world, which he must do while he remains in the body but by the world living in him.

The world in the heart
has ruined millions of immortal souls!

How careful is the mariner to guard against leakage, lest the water entering into the vessel should, by imperceptible degrees, cause the vessel to sink; and ought not the Christian to watch and pray, lest Satan and the world should find some unguarded inlet to his heart?

"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." Proverbs 4:23

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The influence of a mother's teachings and example

("Golden Thoughts" 1879)

Next to the sovereign grace of God, the influence of a mother's teachings and example is the most effective in molding character and shaping destiny. It is in the direction of moral training and the development of character, that the influence of the mother is most powerfully felt. The mother, more than anyone else, helps to clothe the immortal soul in garments of holiness and loveliness or else in garments of sin and sorrow and shame. She weaves her child's habits of thought and conduct. She does this not only by direct deliberate teachings but by little words and acts, and by silent unconscious influence.

Occasional exceptions do not shake the solid certainty of this rule: Show me the mother and I will show you the man!

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A vile, creeping, insinuating thing, which will twist itself like a serpent into our hearts!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Words of Wisdom")

"I hate pride and arrogance!" Proverbs 8:13

There is nothing into which the heart of man so easily falls, as PRIDE and there is no vice which is more frequently and more emphatically condemned in Scripture!

Pride is a groundless thing. It stands on bubbles, which soon must burst beneath its feet! We have reasons for almost everything but we have no reasons for pride. Pride is a thing which should be unnatural to us for we have nothing to be proud of!

Pride is a foolish thing, for it brings no profit with it. There is no wisdom in a self-exaltation. Other vices have some excuse for men seem to gain by them: avarice, pleasure, lust, have some plea; but the man who is proud, sells his soul cheaply! For one puff of empty wind, one word of sweet applause the soul is gone!

Pride wins no crown; men never honor it, not even the menial slaves of earth; for all men look down on the proud man, and think him less than themselves.

Pride is the maddest thing that can exist; it feeds upon its own vitals; it will take away its own life; it saps and undermines its own house, that it may build its pinnacles a little higher and then the whole structure tumbles down! Nothing proves men so mad, as pride.

Pride is a protean thing; it changes its shape and forms; you may find it in any fashion you may choose. You may see it in the beggar's rags as well as in the rich man's garments. It dwells with the rich and with the poor. The man without a shoe for his foot may be as proud as if he were riding in a fine chariot! Pride is found in every rank of society among all classes of men.
 

Pride can profess any form of religion; it attends all kinds of chapels and churches; go where you will you will see pride. It comes with us to the house of God; it goes with us to our houses; it is found on the mart and the exchange, in the streets, and everywhere!

Pride has ten thousand shapes! It is not always that stiff and starched gentleman whom you picture; it is a vile, creeping, insinuating thing, which will twist itself like a serpent into our hearts! It will talk of humility, and prate about being dust and ashes. I have known men talk about their corruption most marvelously, pretending to be all humility while at the same time they were the proudest wretches that could be found this side Hell.

O my friends! you cannot tell how many shapes pride will assume. Look sharply about you or you will be deceived by it, and when you think you are entertaining angels, you will find you have been receiving devils unawares!

The true throne of pride, is the heart of man. If we desire, by God's grace, to put down pride the only way is to begin with the heart. Let us seek that He would purify our hearts from pride and then assuredly, our life also shall be humble. Make the tree good and then the fruit shall be good; make the fountain pure and the stream shall be sweet.

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There are many human ant-eaters!


(Charles Spurgeon, "Treasury of David")

"Their throat is an open sepulcher! They flatter with their tongue." Psalm 5:9

"Their throat is an open sepulcher!"
That is a sepulcher full of loathsomeness, of pollution, of pestilence, and death! But, worse than that, it is an open sepulcher, with all its evil gases issuing forth, to spread death and destruction all around. It is just so with the throat of the wicked!

It would be a great mercy if the mouth of the wicked could always be closed. If we could seal it in continual silence it would be like a closed sepulcher, and would not produce much mischief. But, "their throat is an open sepulcher," consequently all the wickedness of their heart exhales, and comes forth!

How dangerous is an open sepulcher! Men in their journeys might easily stumble therein, and find themselves among the dead!

Ah! take heed of the wicked man, for there is nothing that he will not say to ruin you; he will long to destroy your character, and bury you in the hideous sepulcher of his own wicked throat!

"This figure graphically portrays the filthy conversation of the wicked. Nothing can be more abominable to the senses than an open sepulcher, when a dead putrefying body steams forth its tainted exhalations. Just so, what proceeds out of the mouth of the wicked, is infected and putrid! And, as the exhalation from a sepulcher proves the corruption within, so it is with the corrupt conversation of sinners." Robert Haldane

"The speech of unregenerate men is unsavory, rotten, and hurtful to others; for, as a sepulcher sends out detestable savors and filthy smells so evil men utter rotten and filthy words!" Thomas Wilson

"They flatter with their tongue." Or, as we might read it, "They have an oily tongue a smooth tongue." A smooth tongue is a great evil; many have been bewitched by it. There are many human ant-eaters, who with their long tongues covered with oily words, entice and entrap the unwary and make their gain thereby.

When the wolf licks the lamb, he is preparing to wet his teeth in its blood!

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The covenant of grace!

(Charles Spurgeon, "The Blood of the Everlasting Covenant!" 1859)

"The blood of the everlasting covenant!" Hebrews 13:20

Long before the day-star knew its place,
long before God had spoken existence out of nothing,
long before angel's wing had stirred the unnavigated ether,
long before a solitary song had disturbed the solemnity of the silence in which God reigned supreme
  the Father had entered into solemn counsel with Himself, with His Son, and with His Spirit and had in that council decreed, determined, purposed, and predestined the salvation of His people!

On the Father's part thus ran the covenant. I cannot tell it to you in the glorious celestial tongue in which it was written. I am glad to bring it down to the speech which suits to the ear of flesh, and to the heart of a mortal. Thus, I say, ran the covenant in lines like these:
"I, the Most High Jehovah, do hereby give unto My only begotten and well-beloved Son a people, countless beyond the number of the stars . . .
  who shall be washed
from sin by Him;
  who shall be preserved, and kept, and led by Him; and
  at last, who shall be presented before My throne without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing by Him.
I covenant by oath, and swear by Myself, because I can swear by no one greater, that these whom I now give to Christ shall forever be the objects of My eternal love!
These, I will forgive through the merit of my Son's blood.
To these, I will give a perfect righteousness.
These, I will I adopt and make My sons and daughters.
And these shall reign with Me through Christ eternally!"

The Holy Spirit also, as one of the contracting parties of the covenant, gave His declaration, "I hereby covenant, that all whom the Father gives to the Son
I will in due time quicken.
I will show them their need of redemption.
I will cut off all their groundless hopes, and destroy their refuges of lies.
I will bring them to the blood of sprinkling.
I will give them faith whereby this blood shall be applied to them.
I will work in them every grace.
I will keep their faith alive.
I will cleanse them and drive out depravity from them.
And they shall be presented at last, spotless and faultless in Heaven!"
This was the one side of the covenant, which is at this very day being fulfilled and scrupulously kept.

The Lord Jesus also, as one of the contracting parties of the covenant, gave His declaration, "My Father, on My part, I covenant that in the fullness of time, I will become man. I will live in their wretched world and for My people, I keep the law perfectly. I will work out a spotless righteousness for them, which shall be acceptable to the demands of Your just and holy law. In due time, I will bear the sins of all My people. You shall exact all their debts upon Me. By My stripes they shall be healed. My Father, I covenant and promise that I will be obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. I will magnify Your law, and make it honorable. I will suffer all that My people ought to have suffered. I will endure the curse of Your law and all the vials of Your wrath shall be emptied and spent upon My head! I will then rise again, and ascend into Heaven. I will intercede for them at Your right hand. I will make Myself responsible for every one of them that not one of those whom You have given me, shall ever be lost! I will bring all My sheep of whom, by My blood, you have constituted Me the Shepherd I will bring every one safe to You at last!"

Christ can say of what He promised to do, "It is finished!" He has paid the debts of all the elect. He has, for His people and for their redemption suffered the whole of wrath divine. Nothing remains now, except that He shall continue to intercede for them that He may safely bring all His redeemed to glory. All for whom Christ died, shall be pardoned all justified all adopted.

The Spirit shall quicken them all, shall give them all faith, shall bring them all to Heaven. And they shall, every one of them, without hindrance, stand accepted in the Beloved.

The antiquity of the covenant of grace demands our grateful attention. It is a truth which tends to elevate the mind. I know of no doctrine more grand than this! It is the very soul and essence of all Scripture! In sitting down and meditating upon it I confess my spirit has sometimes been ravished with delight!

Can you conceive of the idea, that before all things God thought of you? That when as yet He had not made His mountains He had thought of you; you, a poor puny worm?  Oh this cannot make us proud but it must make us feel happy!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The perfect husband

(James Smith, "The Glories of Christ!" 1864)

There is but one object that can be presented to a sinner's mind, which contains all that is needful for him, and all that is delightful to him and that is JESUS! In Jesus, he finds an infinite variety which is always pleasing and profitable! The more he knows of the person, perfections, and works of Immanuel the more happy, holy, and useful he will be.  Unbounded kindness, unparalleled meekness, and exquisite tenderness shine in all His dealings with His people! He has never left room for one to doubt . . .
  the kindness of His heart,
  the power of His arm, or
  the faithfulness of His Word.

Jesus loved, labored, suffered, bled, died, rose, ascended, and intercedes to save His people from their sins! He is the perfect husband who . . .
  brings us into marriage-union with Himself,
  provides for all our necessities, and
  assures us of His unalterable love!
He gives us . . .
  His arm to support us,
  His fullness to supply us,
  His name to entitle us,
  His robe to cover us,
  His angels to guard us,
  His Word to assure us, and
  His Heaven to be our habitation at last!

To know Christ is true wisdom;
to love Him is the evidence of grace; and
to walk with Him is the highest honor that can be put upon a sinful creature!

It is the delight of a truly spiritual mind to think of Jesus, feed on Him, and rejoice in Him. There is nothing in Christ but what is precious to him. Christ is the object of his faith, love, and desire; and the subject of his meditation, boast, and song in the house of his pilgrimage. To a Christian, Christ is ALL!

The believer is knit to Jesus, walks in fellowship with Him, and desires above all things to exalt and glorify Him. Jesus is just suited to the believer, and he thinks on Him with great delight and satisfaction!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Covetousness

(Henry Ward Beecher, "Lectures to Young Men on Various Important Subjects" 1849)

"
Covetousness, which is idolatry!" Colossians 3:5

Covetousness breeds misery! The sight . . .
  of houses better than our own,
  of dress beyond our means,
  of jewels costlier than we can wear,
  of stately equipage, and rare curiosities beyond our reach
these hatch the viper-brood of covetous thoughts vexing the poor who would be rich, and tormenting the rich who would be richer!

I do not wonder that God abhors him. He inspects his heart as He would a cave full of foul birds, or a nest of rattling reptiles and loathes the sight of its crawling tenants!
 
"You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or covetous person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a covetous person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world." Ephesians 5:5

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

How dear we are to Christ!

(J.R. Miller, "Daily Bible Readings in the Life of Christ" 1890)

"Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home!" Luke 15:4-6

He does not drive the poor weary sheep home. This is not the way of the gentle shepherd. He stoops down and lifts it up, and lays it on his own shoulder and carries it back. There is a wonderful lesson in this little touch in the picture let us be sure that we understand just what the words say.

We all know that Christ carried our sin when He went to the cross. We know, too, that we may cast our burdens upon Him. But here we learn that Christ wants to carry, not our sins only, not our burdens and cares only but we ourselves! The shepherd took up the sheep itself and laid it upon his shoulders!

Jesus does this "joyfully". Can this be true? Has Jesus really interest enough in any human being on this earth to be concerned by his wandering, and joyful by his recovery? The thought overwhelms me!

We can understand a shepherd's rejoicing when he bears home a sheep that has been lost. We can understand a mother's joy when her lost child is brought to her door. But that the heart of Jesus rejoiced when He finds us, and joyfully puts us on His shoulders seems too amazing to be true! Yet here the word stands!

Then listen to Zephaniah: "The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing!" (Zephaniah 3:17)

How dear we are to Christ!

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Salvation is of grace, from first to last!

(James Smith, "Salvation, for WHOM is it Provided?" 1859)

"For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.
 And those He predestined He also called;
 and those He called He also justified;
 and those He justified He also glorified."
    Romans 8:29-30

The Father chose His people to salvation before time, and gave them to His beloved Son.

The Son came into the world to be the atoning sacrifice for their sins that they might live through Him.

The Holy Spirit accompanies the preaching of His Word with power and as many as are ordained to eternal life, believe. Thus,
all whom He predestined, or eternally loved He effectually calls;
all whom He effectually calls He justifies;
and all whom He justifies He glorifies.

The Father in His love chose them to be a peculiar people unto Himself, above all people that dwell on the face of the earth.

The Son redeemed them by His blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.

The Spirit quickens, sanctifies, and seals them.

Yes, "Salvation is of the Lord!"

Salvation is of grace, from first to last!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

I warn you against evil Books and evil Pictures!

(Henry Ward Beecher, "The Immoral Woman" 1849)

I warn you against evil Books and evil Pictures! There is in every town an under-current which glides beneath our feet, unsuspected by the pure; out of which, notwithstanding, our sons scoop many a poisoned goblet. Evil books are hidden in trunks, and concealed in dark holes. Evil pictures are stored in sly portfolios, or trafficked from hand to hand; and the handiwork of depraved art is seen in forms which ought to make a harlot blush!

Those who make them are the worst public criminals!
And those who circulate them are incendiaries of all morality!
I would think a man would loathe himself, for even owning such things!
A pure heart would shrink from these abominable things as from death itself!

France, where true religion long ago was extinguished, smothered in immorality has flooded the world with a species of literature redolent of the vilest depravity. Upon the plea of exhibiting human nature novels are now scooped out of the very lava of corrupt passions. They are true to nature but to nature as it exists in grossly vile and immoral hearts. 

Obscene libertines are now our teachers of morality. They scrape the very sediment and muck of society to mold their creations; and their books are monster-galleries, in which the inhabitants of old Sodom would have felt at home as connoisseurs.

Over loathsome women, and unutterably vile men, huddled together in motley groups, and over all their monstrous deeds their lies, their plots, their crimes, their horrendous pleasures, their appalling conversation is thrown the impure light of a sensual imagination until they glow with an infernal luster!

Such novels are the common-sewers of society, into which drain the concentrated filth of the worst passions, of the worst creatures, of the worst cities! 

The Ten Plagues have visited our literature: water is turned to blood; frogs and lice creep and hop over our most familiar things the couch, the cradle, and the bread-box; locusts, plague, and fire are smiting every green thing. I am ashamed and outraged, when I think that wretches could be found to open these foreign seals and let out their plagues upon us that any Satanic pilgrim should voyage to France to dip from the dead sea of her abomination such immoral filth for our children!

It would be a mercy compared to this, to import . . .
   venomous serpents from Africa and pour them out in our homes;
   ferocious lions and free them in our towns;
   poisonous lizards and scorpions and black tarantulas and put them in our gardens!
Men could slay these but those offspring-reptiles of the French mind who can kill these? You might as well draw sword on a plague or charge malaria with the bayonet!

This black smut-lettered literature circulates in our towns, floats in our stores, nestles in the shops, is fingered and read nightly, and hatches broods of obscene thoughts in the young mind! While the parent strives to infuse Christian purity into his child's heart he is checked by most accursed messengers of evil; and the child's heart hisses already like a nest of young and nimble vipers!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The Cynic!


(Henry Ward Beecher, "Lectures to Young Men on Various Important Subjects" 1849)

The Cynic is one who never sees a good quality in a man and never fails to see a bad one. He is the human owl, vigilant in darkness and blind to light; mousing for vermin and never seeing noble game. The Cynic puts all human actions into only two classes openly bad, and secretly bad. To him, all virtue and generosity and unselfishness are merely the appearance of good but selfish at the bottom. He holds that no man does a good thing, except for profit. The effect of his conversation upon your feelings, is to chill and sear them; to send you away sour and morose. His criticisms and innuendos fall indiscriminately upon every lovely thing, like frost upon flowers.

The live-long day, he will coolly sit with sneering lip, uttering sharp speeches in the quietest manner, and in polished phrase crucifying every character which is presented. His words are softer than oil yet are they drawn swords. He indulges himself in flippant sneers; and with supercilious brow, and impudent tongue, wagging to an empty brain as he deprecates the wise, the long tried, and the venerable.

It is impossible to indulge in such habitual severity of opinion upon our fellow-men without injuring the tenderness and delicacy of our own feelings. A man will be what his most cherished feelings are. If he encourages a noble generosity every feeling will be enriched by it. If he nurses bitter and envenomed thoughts his own spirit will absorb the poison, and he will crawl among men as a burnished adder, whose life is mischief, and whose errand is death.

He who hunts for flowers will find flowers; and he who loves weeds will find weeds. Let it be remembered, that no man, who is not himself mortally diseased, will have a relish for disease in others. A swollen wretch, blotched all over with leprosy, may grin hideously at every wart or excrescence upon beauty. A wholesome man will be pained at it, and seek not to notice it. Reject, then, the morbid ambition of the Cynic or cease to call yourself a man!