Grace Gems for JUNE 2013

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Where does all this vanity come from?

(George Mylne, "Lessons for the Christian's Daily Walk" 1859)

"Vanity of vanities, ALL is vanity!" Ecclesiastes 1:2

My soul, why seek your happiness below — here in this fallen world, where "all is vanity"? Oft have you tried it, anxious still to find some earthly good. As often you have found Solomon right, that "all is vanity."

The worldling, too, can say that all is vanity — and yet pursues it still. Be it not so with you! Let all that is empty here on earth, lead you to what alone will satisfy — the grace of God, the love of God, the Lamb of God; to "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever." (Hebrews 13:8.)

Have you ever asked yourself, "Where does all this vanity come from?" My soul, it comes from you — and you received it from your father Adam! You and your fellows of the human race, have caused it all.
Whence comes the tempest?
Whence come the earthquake, the pestilence, the shipwreck, the blighted crop?
Whence come sickness, famine, death?
Whence come bereavement, affliction, and sorrow?
Whence come murder, drunkenness, wars, and immorality?
Whence come all that is vile, and sad, and disappointing?
Whence comes the universal taint — the wrongs, the groans, the misery of all created things?

The poison of sin that is in you, has poisoned all others besides! Since you are sinful — all is out of course. Since you are vanity — all things here are vain. The curse that fell on you — you have entailed on your children. My soul, be humbled with the thought — consider and be wise!

Oh, look within your heart, for all is vanity there.
How swift for evil!
How dead to all that is good!
What rank corruption!
What inbred sin!
How weak your purposes for good!
How faltering your course in holiness!

If all is vanity without — it is tenfold vanity within!
If all around is vanity — you are the master-vanity of all!

Bless, God, then, O my soul — in Jesus you have that which is not vanity. In Jesus you have all that is solid, durable, and perfect! You have eternal riches, strength, life, pleasure, comfort, peace! You have a sure foundation — a Rock that can never be shaken — an unfailing help!

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Have you learned your lesson so badly?

(George Mylne, "Lessons for the Christian's Daily Walk" 1859)

"All is vexation of spirit!" Ecclesiastes 1:14

Who has not felt vexation?
Who knows not what it means?

The infant in its cradle,
the schoolboy at his play;
youth in all its vitality,
manhood in its prime,
and especially old age
all, all have felt vexation!

My soul, you know it well! Your sins, your fallen nature, your infirmities — all lay you open to vexation.
How easily irritated you get!
How quick to feel offenses!
How swift to gather sorrows to yourself through your excess of sensitivity!
Often have you murmured at your lot, rising in mutiny against your Maker!
How often has your patience failed!
What trifles have often wounded you!
Some scheme of pleasure has been thwarted — and you were quite vexed!
A rainy day, or even some trifling inconvenience — has often ruffled your composure.
How often a kind reproof, a friendly warning — some imagined slight — a look — a smile withheld, and yet with no intention of unkindness — has filled you with vexation!
How often has . . .
  wounded pride;
  a humbling sense of your infirmities;
  a deep conviction of your lack of judgment;
  the fear of standing low in man's opinion
 — vexed you beyond expression!

My soul, you are not singular in your vexation. Go where you will, you will find it. The world is full of vexation. "All is vexation of spirit!"

This does not mean that . . .
 woes may lawfully be brooded over, or
 sense of injuries may be cherished in the soul, or
 that morbid feelings may be indulged in, or
 that moody silence, brooding vexation, and carking care — are healthful for the soul! Oh, no!

If God is true, if Scripture precept has its weight, and promises their meaning — then vexation, O my soul, should have no part in you! Open you must be to its trials day by day. But . . .
  where is your grace;
  where is your holiness;
  where is your consistency;
  where is your strength, your comfort, and your steadfastness
 — if you are conquered by vexation?

Have you, then, learned of Christ, the lowly and the meek One — and not found rest for your soul? (Matthew 11:29.) Have you learned your lesson so badly? Go, learn it over again. Fight, then, against this habit of vexation. Give it no place within you. Look to the Comforter to help you. Taste the tranquility of God. Take every trial, as it rises, to Jesus, your Savior-Friend. Then peace shall be your portion — not vexation.

"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid!" John 14:27

"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus!" Philippians 4:7

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Nothing on earth can satisfy the soul!

(George Mylne, "Lessons for the Christian's Daily Walk" 1859)

"The eye is never satisfied with seeing, nor the ear with hearing." Ecclesiastes 1:8

The senses are but servants to the soul. The soul desires to look — and sets the eye to see. The soul desires to hear — and sets the ear to hearken. The soul is never wearied. It listens to sweet music, and lingers, longing still for more. When had the soul enough of a sweet flower? When was it ever filled to overflowing with viewing the masterpieces of nature?

Nothing on earth can satisfy the soul!
It leaves its pleasures, with a craving for more.
It sighs to increase its satisfactions.
It grieves to think how limited are all its joys.

Oh, there is a longing in the soul; a restless appetite to see and hear, to grasp, to understand; a stretching forth of thought; a yearning principle — which spurns the restrictions of the senses. And yet (such is the tribute due to sinful human nature) sense, in its feebleness, keeps down the soul. The soul, with all its energy, cannot overpower sense!

How sad, how humbling the condition of fallen man!

Yet, child of God, you have no cause to mourn. Gifted by grace with higher faculties, you have that with which to fill your soul to the full. By faith you see, hear, and taste better things — you see Jesus on the throne of God. By faith you see the "sea of glass," and hear "the voice of harpers harping with their harps." You see Heavenly and eternal realities by faith!

My soul, why linger after the things of time — when better sights, and better sounds invite you? Or why lament your straitened means — with heavenly powers so unlimited?
Then let your eye repose on Jesus!
The more you look at Him — the longer will you look.
The more you look — the more will be your power to gaze upon Him.
The more you commune with Him — the sweeter shall you find His company.
Speak much to Jesus — you shall not speak in vain. The name of Jesus shall be to you "as beds of spices, and sweet flowers." (Canticles 5:13.) The whispers of the Spirit, telling of grace and peace, shall ever and always refresh your ear!

My soul, these pleasures shall never fail you!
Not like the music, that was, and is not — with no hand to sweep the chords!
Not like a feast of yesterday — which is now gone forever!
Not like the flowers that once were fragrant — and now are fragrant no longer!
Not like the beautiful landscape — which you have left behind!
Your Savior, Friend, and Comforter, is ever with you — now and to all eternity the same!

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If more were good for me

(George Mylne, "Lessons for the Christian's Daily Walk" 1859)

"Better what the eye sees [the enjoyment of what is available to one] than the cravings of wandering desire. This is also vanity (emptiness, meaninglessness, and futility) and a striving after the wind and a feeding on it!" Ecclesiastes 6:9

It is a bitter disappointment for a man to long for what he has not — for what he cannot have. That is, 
  to sigh for plenty — in the midst of poverty;
  to aspire for luxury — and have nothing but simple fare;
  to have dreams of grandeur and ambition — and yet to walk in humble life;
  to aspire to eminence — and then return to our mundane occupations.
All this is indeed lamentable to the heart!

Oh, how "desire" wanders, refusing to be satisfied with present comforts! Memory revels in the past; and hope dwells upon the future. The soul thus feeds on shadows — and leaves reality behind. There is bitterness in this, more than the tongue can tell.

Philosophy says, "Do not repine at your lot, but make the best of it." This is cold comfort, after all.

Blind fate says, "Hush! it is your destiny." Neither is this a cure for wandering desire.

The Christian has a remedy which never fails, when properly applied — the Savior's presence. This . . .
  turns poverty to riches;
  invests the humblest meal with luxury;
  makes crowded cities as pleasant as the mountain top;
  imparts refreshment in the midst of labor;
  fills voids with Christ's fullness; and
  gives us the presence of the best of friends.
"Surely, I am with you all the days (perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion) — to the very close and consummation of the age!" Matthew 28:20

Children of God! your heavenly Father says, "All things are yours!" (1 Corinthians 3:21) — and so they are, in the degree and manner that is good for me. All the gold in the world is Christ's, and as His child, He gives me just as much as suits my best interest. If more were good for me — would not my loving Savior give me more — money, or material things, or health, or friendship?

Come back, then, wandering desire! Do not roam abroad over that which is not yours — that is forbidden ground.

What is your present lot? Scan it well; look at it through the lens of faith — and you will see a blessing in it. You will find a Father's love, a Savior's presence, and the Spirit's comforts — wrapped in the garb of present things, and rays of glory coming from them all.

Is not what I now have, better than the cravings of wandering desire — with such realities, better, far better, than the shadows of wandering desire!

"Be content with what you have. For God has said — I will never fail you. I will never abandon you!" Hebrews 13:5

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Why were the old days better than these?

(George Mylne, "Lessons for the Christian's Daily Walk" 1859)

"Do not say, 'Why were the old days better than these?' For it is not wise to ask such questions." Ecclesiastes 7:10

Such questions are not wise. They savor either of ignorance, or discontent. If former days really were better, then you are discontent — if not, then you are ignorant. At all events, days past, and present, are just what God has made them — so it is bad to raise the question. Faith takes matters as they come. Blind unbelief asks many questions; it often asks, "WHY!"

One says, "Trade was far better before I entered business — I wonder how it is?" Another, "Markets were better before I took to farming — How can it be?" A third, "Fortunes were sooner made, when I was young — Why does it happen thus?" "The seasons are not what they once were," exclaims a fourth — "all rain, and no sunshine; what can the reason be?"

What are the times, my friend?
Who made, who ordered them?
Out of whose bosom did they come?
Who holds them in His hand?
To quarrel with the times — is to find fault with God! He has made them all beautiful in their seasons. (Ecclesiastes 3:11.) If they do not please you — whose fault is it? Could you have made them better?

Examine well the links which interweave time present with time past — the mysterious chain of providential dealings. Look at the ordering of events, one hanging on the other, in perfect order, though mysterious. Survey the wonders of God's providence, the wondrous workings of His sovereign power. These are the the sum and substance of the times; times past, times present, and times future; your times and my times; the times of all men in all ages!

To change the times — were . . .
  to derange the ordering of Providence from first to last;
  to break the golden chain of divine events;
  to mar the beauty of God's structure.
God's dispensations revolve in fixed and sure orbits, all moving, acting, following, in perfect order. To pluck one adverse event away: to change sunshine for rain — or rain for sunshine; sorrow for joy — or joy for sorrow; easy for hard — or hard for easy, would be as foolish as to arrest the planets in their course, or sweep a constellation from the skies!

You say, "Times past were better than the present." Is God less present now than then? Are His paths more difficult? Are His ways less sure? Has His grace, then, changed its character? Is Jesus not the same? Is man less wicked now than then? Does he deserve a milder treatment?

Do not compare old times — against present times; or your hard lot — against the "fortune" of your forefathers. Compare your "lot" with your deserts — and say which best befits you — to thank God or complain of His providential dealings with you!

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The adjusting of the scales

(George Mylne, "Lessons for the Christian's Daily Walk" 1859)

"In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other!" Ecclesiastes 7:14

Adversity and prosperity are divinely balanced against each other with unerring divine skill. In each, respectively, the due proportions are precisely weighed, so lovingly and wisely, that none should say, "It might have been better done!" Christian, I appeal to you: Could it have been better done? Are God's ways unjust? Have they been so to you?

It is true, your path is chequered — sweet chasing bitter — and bitter chasing sweet, in quick succession. It may be, that bitter is more frequent than the sweet — that your prosperous times are few and far between. Is there no reason for it? Is God's divine balance, then, deranged? God knows the reason for your adversity — though unknown to you. He faithfully keeps the balance true between your needs — and their supply; between His chastenings — and your good. He cannot be unkind, or unequal, or unjust. Perhaps you cannot hit upon the specific sin, and say, "For this particular sin I am chastened." But say, my friend — if there is no particular sin, is there no particular lack of virtue in you? Is there no grace to strengthen — no infirmity to check?

God's ways are always just — His purposes are always wise and loving. How beautiful is His providence! How exquisite is His skill!

Grace is poised against temptation; joys are balanced against sorrows. The lights and shadows of experience thus perfected, and perfecting each other. Were all prosperity — we would be lifted up in pride. Were all adversity — we would faint under the heavy load.

God's ways are just and equal — look back and see. Had times been pleasant with you, and experience been sweet? How surely they were followed by deadness in the soul! Your joy was gone — you knew not why. Ah! but God knew it. It was the adjusting of the scales, that nothing might be out of balance. Has life gone prosperously? Sooner or later, crosses came — some disappointment, something to bring you down, something or other, counter to your will — it was the adjusting of the scales. And just so with health, and other comforts — God keeps the scales perfectly balanced.

Watch God's providence in great things, watch it in little things — the events, the thoughts, the feelings of the day. You will always find it just — the balance must be kept. Hence all your variations in the scale of comfort — and the endless shades and vicissitudes of your experience. All this is well-ordered in God's wisdom, love, and mercy!

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In the day of adversity, consider!

(George Mylne, "Lessons for the Christian's Daily Walk" 1859)

"In the day of adversity, consider: Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other!" Ecclesiastes 7:14 

In your adversity, consider:
  That you deserve it all!
  That, had you nothing but adversity, it only were your due!
  That every moment free from trouble, is a mercy!
  That had the full curse been poured on you — your life would be nothing but sorrow and vexation!

Consider that God afflicts you for your profit — to bring your sins to mind, and lead you to the Cross. Believer, God chastens you in love, to make you a partaker of His holiness. (Hebrews 12:10.) How often have you forgotten Him! But He never forgets you — and thus He chastens you.

Consider, how much you live for the world — how little you live for the Lord!
Consider how earthly, sensual, and devilish is your nature!
Consider your thoughts — how vain!
Consider your service — how unprofitable!
Consider, then, God's love in chastening you.

Are you in sickness — then consider your many days of former health — all undeserved by you! Consider your many helps in trouble, God's presence, and His grace — all undeserved by you!

In sleepless nights, consider how many nights you have slept soundly and sweetly — all undeserved by you! Consider Him, who gives you songs in the night — all undeserved by you!

In poverty, consider how all your former needs have been supplied — food, clothing, lodging, and so many comforts — all undeserved by you!

Have you incurred the loss of sight or hearing; loss of limbs, or power of using them? Consider, then, your former powers; how much enjoyment you have had in seeing, hearing, moving, handling — all undeserved by you!

O tried believer, consider, then, that your afflictions are light — and they are but for a moment. They are all ordered in divine wisdom, tenderness, and love! Consider Jesus! what sufferings He endured — all for unworthy you! Then faint not, nor be weary, but consider your "eternal weight of glory" — glory "that far outweighs" all your woes — glory, all undeserved by you!

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all! So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal!" 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

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You are the one who has done this!

(Letters of John Newton)

Your beloved pastor has died — but he has only gone a little before you. We expect and hope to follow him soon. It will be a joyful meeting, when we shall part no more.

Come, my dear madam, I think you have wept enough! I now write and entreat you to wipe away your tears. You have had a great wound, and you cannot but feel it; but it was not the wound of an enemy! I hope you are now aiming to say, "May the will of the Lord be done." This afflictive dispensation did not spring out of the ground, nor happen by chance. It was the appointment of Him whose wisdom and love are infinite! He could easily have prevented it, and undoubtedly would — if it was not His purpose to overrule your pastor's death eventually for good.

We need to acquiesce to God's will, and to adopt the psalmist's words, "I was silent; I would not open my mouth — for You are the one who has done this!" Psalm 39:9

What must the first disciples have felt — when their Master was not only taken from them — but crucified before their eyes! Yet He had said to them a little before, "I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I go — I will send Him to you." John 16:7. Surely that Comforter, whose influence was more than a compensation for the lack of the Savior's visible presence — can fully repair our losses and heal our wounds. And He is as near to His people now, and as willing and able to help them — as He was then!

The fountain from which your dear pastor obtained the water of life, which he communicated to his congregation — is still full and still flowing; and you are still welcome to come to Him and drink! But we are prone to lean too hard upon the ministers, by whom the Lord conveys His blessings to us — as if they were necessary. Perhaps to cure us of this mistake, is one reason why He often unexpectedly takes them from us!

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What are You doing?

(George Mylne, "Lessons for the Christian's Daily Walk" 1859)

"Where the word of a King is, there is power! Who may say to Him: What are You doing?" Ecclesiastes 8:4

What word, what power, are like the Lord's? With earthly kings words may be loud — and power small. Not so with God. His purpose knows no hindrance. His word can never fail. Who can resist His power? With God, purpose, and word, and power are but one.

Who, then, may say to God: "What are You doing?" To hinder His purpose, you must be able to overcome Omnipotence! Infinite, unchangeable, almighty — with God to will, is to perform; to speak, is to proclaim His past eternal purpose, and His endless might. Who can arrest His hand, or thwart His providence? Who can? That is not the word. Rather, who ought to wish it? Who ought to quarrel with His will, or say, either with bold or fretful opposition, "What are You doing?"

Your child has died; or perhaps a shipwreck has bereft you at one stroke, of all your family; or other ills untold, unspeakable, have made you drink the wine of desperation. My friend, these things were ordained by God "before the world began." In God's eternal mind it was written — it was settled long ago. How vain to say, "What are You doing?" And when the time was come, God sent His messengers — noiseless, unseen, invisible — to do His righteous will. Could you have said, "What are You doing with my child? What are You doing with the winds and waves? Forbear!"

Your will was not consulted — your permission was not asked. Do not say, "What are You doing?" Be silent before the omnipotent Disposer! "I was silent; I would not open my mouth, for You are the one who has done this!" (Psalm 39:9.) "But what can I say? He Himself has done this! I will walk humbly all my years because of this anguish of my soul." (Isaiah 38:15.) Go softly all your years — yet not "in anguish of soul." If you have faith in Christ, you are better taught than this. Go softly — yet in faith, in patience. Looking to Jesus, let your language be: "It is the Lord! Let my Lord do what seems good in His eyes!" (1 Samuel 3:18.)

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(George Mylne, "Lessons for the Christian's Daily Walk" 1859)

"The race is not to the swift,
  or the battle to the strong;
  nor does food come to the wise,
  or wealth to the brilliant,
  or favor to the learned —
but time and chance happen to them all.
" Ecclesiastes 9:11

Time, and her handmaid, what the world calls "chance", are clad in the vesture of uncertainty. What the worldling calls "chance" — in reality, is nothing but God's divine providence. God's ways bespeak His wisdom and His power — He is wise to adapt, and mighty to fulfill. Viewed with the eye of sense, God's ways often assume an air of fickleness; by which it is inferred that all things happen without rhyme or reason — with no settled law pervading, and no sovereign will directing their occurrence.

Thus man twists the attributes of God, and robs Him of His honor — as though some mock divinity called "chance" presided over us, and made caprice his rule of action.

Man's needs are various, and require an ever varying treatment — hence the varieties of "time and chance." Not one event occurs without its meaning. All events are divinely fitted by the supreme Disposer's wisdom and sovereignty.

Such treatment is required for a fallen race. No one uniform law would suit every purpose. Shivered to atoms by the "fall" — all order is gone from man. Each broken fragment of his nature reflects prismatic rays of frailty — their hue, their color, their intensity, forever varying; each calling for a divine providence adapted to fit its need; and, as the prism varies, so is the divine treatment changed.

The divine eye which counts the feathers on the wings of insects; which numbers up the blades of grass; which counts the drops of water in the ocean; and registers each grain of sand upon the shore — is quick to see, and swift to direct. Hence, are all the changes, accidents, and "chances" of man's experience.

Hence, "the race is not to the swift, or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise, or wealth to the brilliant, or favor to the learned." Man may propose — but all the disposing is of God. God's "chance" (divine providence) is not the "chance" of men — all fickle and confused. God's "chance" is sure — fixed in its principle, certain in its aim, acting on rules of wisdom, inscrutable to man, yet clear and well-defined.

Man fails — and he knows not why. He calculates in vain. His plans are crossed by divine counter-plans — the underworkings of the divine Hand which made the worlds; of Him, who sovereignly controls all things of "time and chance."

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Thank God that He has veiled the future!

(George Mylne, "Lessons for the Christian's Daily Walk" 1859)

"Since no man knows the future, who can tell him what is to come?" Ecclesiastes 8:7

God's purposes have all their seasons of fulfillment. His judgments each have their time of visitation. Mapped out in clear perspective, your every dispensation was fixed from everlasting in the eternal mind of God. Your sunny seasons, and your cloudy days; sorrow and pain, anxiety and lack, your every loss of property or friends — all was designed before you ever saw the light. Trials may be in store for you, the thoughts of which would harrow up your soul — if you knew they were coming!

All this is known and ordained by God. What it will be, or when it is to come — He never tells to His creatures. As lightning strikes — for quickness, as wave comes after wave — for frequency; so may trials visit you. They are as uncertain as the wind. Yet fixed in divine purpose, and in performance sure — they come. From day to day, from hour to hour, who can foretell his future?

"Therefore, the misery of man is great upon him!" Reader, is this your feeling? Is "therefore" misery great on you? Does it make you brood over possibilities — alarmed at the contingency of woes? Would you rather, that all were known before, that you might be prepared for whatever trials and tribulations come?

Rather, thank God that He has veiled the future, and deals out His dispensations one by one. The time, the way, the kind, the circumstances — are all fixed by unerring wisdom, and by boundless love. It is thus that God is glorified; His power felt; His sovereignty known, free from the trammels of His creatures' will. Matchless in skill; unfailing in resources — He thus proclaims His sovereign Godhead.

The world may murmur — but the saints submit to God's sovereign plan. The world may tremble — but the saints are glad. In all their woes, they see a Father's hand, and a Savior's sympathy. They would not alter it if they could! They meekly leave the future to their God.
The times and seasons;
the "what,"
the "when,"
the "how,"
the "why" —
they would not, dare not, know!

But these things they do know:
that as their days — so their strength shall be;
that He who counts the stars, and calls them by their names — will heal the broken-hearted and bind up their wounds;
that divine comforts shall keep pace with worldly sorrows, and
that God's grace will be sufficient for every time of need!

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There is no discharge in that war!

(George Mylne, "Lessons for the Christian's Daily Walk" 1859)

"No one has power over the spirit to retain the spirit; and no one has power in the day of death. There is no discharge in that war!" Ecclesiastes 8:8

Oh, what a war it is! Since Adam's day, the war is carried on. There is no respite granted, no peace, no armistice, and no exchange of prisoners. Each moment of the day, hundreds are slain! Each one is carried off in turn — but none ever come back again. "There is no discharge in that war!" Some have been prisoners for centuries, and tens of centuries, fast bound in chains of DEATH. As yet there is no discharge!

Parents have seen their children snatched away — and none have returned again! Wives have been torn from husbands, husbands from wives, and friends from friends. There is no exception, "no discharge."

Oh, DEATH, you are the conqueror now! Some fear you; others brave you; most forget you — but all alike fall under you! You take some when life is scarcely begun. Even for them, "there is no discharge!" Some are removed in bloom of youth — in beauty's prime — in the midst of usefulness. Death, are you not mistaken? Was not your stroke intended for another? Oh, give them back! Alas! "There is no discharge in that war!"

We have seen one while still young — and loved to think how long and useful he would live. We gave him many years and hopes. But no! He is taken away! "There is no discharge in that war!" What anguish in the thought, "He will never return!" Imagination can hardly take it in. Each meal you think you see his well-known face. Each opening door, seems opened for his form to enter! Alas! "there is no discharge!"

As YET there is none. But will there never be? "There is no discharge!" Death, do not say so! One day you will see it. As all have gone — all will return; as all have died — so all will live again. Oh, death, you are doomed! "The lake of fire" is reserved for you. (Rev. 20:14.) You will be totally conquered!

The wicked are even taken from your grasp. They will rise again — to misery, it is true; yet still they will live. Oh, death — they are not yours!

But, for those who have died in faith, it is not death — they sleep in Jesus. They wait the appointed time. Their "change" will come. Jesus will not forget them, nor leave them in the dust of death. (Job 14:14, 15.)

Where, then, is your sting, O Death? Where O Grave, where then, is your victory! O Death, your war is at an end; not now, but then. And then, O Death, there is no discharge for you!

"Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire!" Revelation 20:14

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Neither youth, nor wit, nor beauty, nor strength, nor money

(George Mylne, "Lessons for the Christian's Daily Walk" 1859)

"No one has power over the spirit to retain the spirit; and no one has power in the day of death." Ecclesiastes 8:8

Man, for six thousand years, has tried to understand his spirit — yet knows as little of it as he did at first. What is the soul of man? Whence did it come? Where does it go? He can't explain how spirit dwells with flesh — what binds the two together, for a time, in perfect unity. He has never seen, as little can he feel, the links that knit them to each other. It is all within him — his flesh, his spirit, his life, his being — all the machinery of soul and body, thus closely interlaced. Yet is it as foreign to his grasp, as that which happens in another world!

Thus flesh and spirit dwell together. Who could suppose they ever would part again! Who can explain how soul and body part, or how the links of union are undone — what makes the spirit fly away, or how the flesh gives up its hold! God wills it. God does it. God does not explain why. God does not tell how. He speaks, unheard; and immediately it is done — the spirit returns to Him who made it.

Man may detain the body — but he cannot keep the soul, nor say, "You shall not go!" God says, "Return to Me!" The command must be obeyed. Neither youth, nor wit, nor beauty, nor strength, nor money, can delay His omnipotent hand.

How mysterious is death! At times how unexpected! At times how stealthy! At times He takes your darling from your side — and robs you unblushingly before your face! At other times, days, months, and years may intervene before you know it. The spirit fled — and you knew it not. You thought it still on earth; but it was gone. You think of him, prepare for him, and write to invite him to your home. But alas! the spirit is gone; and had you known it, what could you have done!

Oh, vanity of vanities! What pain, what misery — man's sin has brought to pass! And yet how astonishing is the ignorance, the recklessness of sinful man! Dead in spiritual death, he neither knows nor seeks a remedy, but binds his misery around him with thoughtless energy. And yet there is a remedy — a remedy in Jesus — a remedy for those who look to Jesus!

Say, reader, can you look around you, can you look backward or forward and be happy — unless you find this remedy for all the misery and uncertainty of this poor, passing world?

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord!" Romans 6:23

     ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Does God love the unrepentant sinner?

(Charles Finney, "The Guilt of Sin")

"God is angry with the wicked every day!" Psalm 7:11

God is not angry merely against the sin abstracted from the sinner, but against the sinner himself! Some people have labored hard to set up this ridiculous and absurd generalization, and would attempt to make it appear . . .
  that God is angry at sin — yet not at the sinner;
  that He hates the theft — but loves the thief;
  that He abhors adultery — but is pleased with the adulterer.

Now this is supreme nonsense! The sin has no moral character apart from the sinner. The act of sin is nothing, apart from the sinful actor. What God hates and disapproves is not the mere event, the thing done, in distinction from the doer — but He hates the doer himself! It grieves and displeases Him that a rational and moral agent, under His government, should array himself against his own Creator, against all that is right and just in the universe. This is what offends God. The sinner himself is the direct and the only object of His anger!

So the Bible shows that God is angry with the wicked — and not with the abstract sin. If the wicked do not repent, God will whet His sword — He has bent His bow and made it ready — not to shoot at the sin, but the sinner — the wicked man who has done the abominable thing. This is the only doctrine of both the Bible, and of common sense on this subject.  

"The wicked and those who love violence, His soul hates!" Psalm 11:5

"The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished!" Proverbs 16:5

"The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The LORD takes vengeance on His foes and maintains His wrath against His enemies!" Nahum 1:2

"Whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." John 3:36

"You are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when His righteous judgment will be revealed." Romans 2:5

"But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil — there will be wrath and anger!" Romans 2:8

"What if God, choosing to show His wrath and make His power known, bore with great patience the objects of His wrath — prepared for destruction?" Romans 9:22

"Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient." Ephesians 5:6

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No one gets the crown — without the conflict!

(J.R. Miller)

"To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God!" Revelation 2:7

The daily temptations which make every true life such a painful conflict from beginning to end — bring us constant opportunities for growth of character. To struggle — is to grow strong. The soldier's art can be learned, and the soldier's honors can be won — only on the field of battle.

If you would grow into the beauty of the Master, you must accept the conflicts, and fight the battles. You can live easy if you will, by declining every struggle — but you will then get little out of life which is truly noble and worthy. The best things all come after the battle — you must fight your way across the field to get them. Heaven is only for those who overcome. No one gets the crown — without the conflict!

"To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne!" Revelation 3:21

     ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

They cannot leave the lap of Delilah!

(Joseph Alleine, "Alarm to the Unconverted!" 1671)

The unsound convert takes Christ by halves. He is all for the salvation of Christ — but he is not for sanctification. He divides the offices and benefits of Christ. Hypocrites do not love the Lord Jesus in sincerity. They will not have Him as God offers, "to be a Prince and a Savior" (Acts 5:31).

They divide what God has joined, the King who rules — and the Priest who saves.
They desire salvation from suffering — but they do not desire to be saved from sinning.
They would have their souls saved — but still would have their lusts.
They would be content to have some of their sins destroyed — but they cannot leave the lap of Delilah, or divorce the beloved Herodias.
They cannot be cruel to the right eye or right hand.

The sound convert takes a whole Christ, and takes Him for all intents and purposes, without exceptions, without limitations, without reserve. He is willing to have Christ upon any terms. He is willing to have the dominion of Christ — as well as deliverance by Christ. He says with Paul, "Lord, what will you have me to do?" Anything, Lord! He gives Christ the blank page — to write down His own conditions.

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The infernal dungeon of Hell!

(John Bunyan)

"Depart from Me, you who are cursed — into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels!" Matthew 25:41

Those in the infernal dungeon of Hell, will undergo a VARIETY of torments. Those who are most afflicted upon earth, have seldom any more than one malady at a time. But should they have the plague, the gout, the stone, and fever all at one time — how miserable would they think themselves! Yet all that is but like the biting of a flea — compared to those intolerable, pungent pains which those in Hell endure! There, they have all the loathed variety of Hell to grapple with:
  the unquenchable fire to burn them;
  a lake of burning brimstone ever choking them;
  eternal chains
to bind them;
  utter darkness
to affright them, and
  a worm of conscience which gnaws upon them eternally!
Any one of these is worse to bear — than all the torments which mankind ever felt on earth!

But the torments in Hell are also UNIVERSAL, afflicting each part of the body and soul — which renders what they suffer, most insufferable! In those illnesses which men are seized with on earth, though some parts are afflicted — other parts are free. But in Hell, each member of the soul and body is continually tormented:

  The eye is tormented with the sight of the devils, who appear in all the horrid and black shapes which sin can give them!

  The ear is tormented with the loud yellings and continual outcries of the damned.

  The nostrils are smothered with sulphurous flames.

  The tongue is covered with burning blisters.

  The the whole body is rolled in flames of liquid fire!

  The imagination is tormented with the thoughts of what a Heaven has been lost.

  The memory is tormented with reflecting on those opportunities they had of being saved.

  The mind is tormented with considering how vainly precious time has been wasted.

  The understanding is tormented with the thoughts of of present pains, and future sorrows — which are to last forever!

  The conscience is tormented with a continual gnawing worm.

Another thing which makes the misery of Hell so dreadful, is the EXTREMITY of the torments. The fire which burns is so violent that all the water in the sea can never quench it! The pains suffered are so extreme, that it is impossible they should be known by any, but those who feel them!

Another part of Hell's misery is the CEASELESSNESS of the torments. As various, as universal, and as extremely violent as they are — they are continual, also. Nor have they the least rest from them. If there were any relaxation — it might be some allay. But what makes this condition so deplorable — is that there is no easing of the torments! "They will go away into eternal punishment!" Matthew 25:46

The COMPANY they have there, is another element of their misery. Tormenting devils and tormented souls are all the company! Dreadful shrieks and howlings, under the fierceness of pain, and fearful blasphemies, is all the conversation!

The PLACE in which they suffer is another thing which increases the sufferings. Hell is the epitome of all misery —
  a prison,
  a dungeon,
  a bottomless pit,
  a lake of fire and brimstone,
  a furnace of fire which burns to eternity,
  the blackness of darkness forever!

The cruelty of our TORMENTORS is another thing which adds to the torments. The tormentors are devils, in whom there is no pity. Being tormented themselves, they take pleasure in tormenting others.

But that which makes these sufferings most grievous — is that they shall ALWAYS be so — these most intolerable sufferings shall last to all eternity. 'Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire!" will perpetually sound in the ears of the damned! The miserable situation they are in, shall be forever!

     ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

We are unworthy — but You are worthy!

(Maria Sandberg, "Glimpses of Heaven!" 1880)

"And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth!" Revelation 14:3

What is this song which none but the redeemed can learn? It is the Song of the Lamb! Its theme is, "You are worthy, for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood!" And why can none but the redeemed learn this song? Angels can say, "You are worthy," but they cannot add, "You were slain for us." The unbelieving and impenitent cannot learn it.

Are we learning it? For, if we would join in this song in Heaven — we must learn to sing it here on earth. We must learn to know our own unworthiness, our own vileness, and guilt, and danger — and the worthiness of Jesus. We must learn the price at which He has redeemed us, even the price of His most precious blood. We must learn to know something of that love of Christ which surpasses knowledge.

Oh! have we in any measure learned this song? Has our heart been set in tune to join the heavenly chorus? Is it our happiness to us to sing the praises of redeeming love? That love which we delight to meditate upon, and celebrate on earth — will be our theme of praise in Heaven. Yes, we shall there see the depths of His unfathomable love. We shall know the riches of that unsearchable grace which Jesus has bestowed upon us; and we shall then be more than ever willing to ascribe all worthiness to the Lamb.

We are unworthy — but You are worthy! This is the one lesson which we must be ever learning; and we shall only know it fully when we reach the mansions of the blessed, when we shall see Jesus as He is, and "join in the everlasting song, and crown Him Lord of all!"

     ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

It is a heavenly grace

(Maria Sandberg, "Glimpses of Heaven!" 1880)

"All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God!" Revelation 7:11

What a view do we here obtain of the humility of those glorious and sinless beings, the angels of God! They "fall on their faces before the throne" when they worship God.

How humble, then, ought we to be, who are not pure and sinless creatures — but vile and sinful dust and ashes, who have forgotten God, and insulted Him times without number!

Humble, indeed, we ought to be — yet we are proud, we dislike humility, except so far as God graciously teaches us. Oh! it is He alone who can humble our proud hearts, and thus prepare us for the worship of Heaven. This He does by means of providential chastenings and afflictions. His design in them is to humble us, and prepare us for glory.

And shall we shrink from the process? No, let us lay our proud souls at His feet, imploring Him to undertake the gracious work of teaching them humility. Let us not fear the needful discipline. God is a tender Father — He only wants to make his creatures truly happy. We shall taste real happiness, only as we possess in any degree this heavenly grace of humility. It is a heavenly grace, for it is, as we see here, the disposition of the inhabitants of Heaven. It is a heavenly grace, for it brings into our souls a portion of the happiness of Heaven.

Oh! let us not be afraid to lie low at the foot of the cross! The valley of humiliation is a pleasant and a fruitful place:
  there the smiles of the reconciled countenance of our God are seen;
  there fellowship with Jesus is felt;
  there love to man flourishes;
  there the painful and trembling feelings of pride and selfishness are mortified.

It is, however, only in Heaven that we shall attain to the perfection of this grace of humility, when we shall fully know ourselves, our vileness, our unworthiness, and what we owe to redeeming grace and love. Then only shall we be truly humble; then only shall we be truly happy. Then shall we bid farewell to the misery of sin, and taste the enjoyment of full conformity to the Divine image of Jesus!

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven." Matthew 5:3

     ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

You shall be without fault!

(Maria Sandberg, "Glimpses of Heaven!" 1880)

"These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men . . . they are without fault before the throne of God!" Revelation 14:5

To the believer burdened with inward conflict, and struggling against the sin which dwells in him — what a blessed glimpse of Heaven is this! Free from sin — how delightful! What can convey a picture of greater happiness? A joyful multitude without fault before the throne of God! This is the bliss for which he sighs — the end which he purposes through grace to attain. Even now, he is striving after it; striving daily to be without fault. But as he grows in self-knowledge, he sees more and more the many faults and failings into which he falls, and he would sink in despair, and give up the conflict — but for the hope of final victory in Heaven.

"They are without fault before the throne of God!" And when you reach that throne, oh, tempted soul, such will be your happy lot! But remember, you must persevere in your way to it. You must hate every sin, and wrestle and strive after perfect holiness. This alone is the way of preparation for the heavenly bliss to which you aspire. Aim at perfect holiness, long after it, pray for it; though you do not attain it fully here on earth. Yes, you will feel that you are on your way to the mansions of holiness! And the thought that when you arrive there, you shall be without fault, will strengthen and nerve you for the battle. The hope of final triumph and success will encourage you. The certainty of victory will cheer your heart. The assurance of your being forever without fault before the throne of God, will be to you a foretaste of eternal happiness!

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you!" Song of Songs 4:7

"I have a home above,
 From sin and sorrow free;
 A mansion which eternal love
 Designed and formed for me!

 My Father's gracious hand
 Has built this sweet abode;
 From everlasting it was planned,
 My dwelling-place with God!

 My Savior's precious blood
 Has made my title sure;
 He passed through death's dark raging flood,
 To make my rest secure!

 The Comforter has come,
 The earnest has been given;
 He leads me onward to the home
 Reserved for me in Heaven.

 Your love, O precious Lord,
 My joy and strength shall be;
 Til You shall speak the gladdening word
 That bids me rise to Thee!

 And then through endless days,
 Where all Your glories shine;
 In happier, holier strains, I'll praise
 The grace that made me Thine!"

     ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Truly, this is a most painful thought to us

(Maria Sandberg, "Glimpses of Heaven!" 1880)

"You are just, O Holy One, the One who is and who was and who is to be, because You have sent these judgments. For they have shed the blood of Your saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink as they deserve." And I heard the altar respond: "Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments!" Revelation 16:5-7

There are, in this book of Revelation, not only glimpses of Heaven, and of the happiness of the redeemed — but dreadful views of the punishments of Hell: "And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory . . . and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain. They blasphemed the God of Heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds!" Revelation 16:9-11. "But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone!" Revelation 21:8

It must be a painful thought to the people of God, that so many of their fellow-creatures are everlastingly banished from the presence of the Lord, and that so many others are following on in the broad road that leads to eternal destruction! Perhaps among both the former and the latter, are some dear to us by the ties of kindred or friendship. Truly, this is a most painful thought to us in this present world — but it will not be so in Heaven. For we shall have such a sense of the justice of God in the punishment of the wicked, that we shall acquiesce in their sentence of condemnation, and say, "Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments! They are worthy of everlasting damnation!"

Oh, my soul, what can I render to my Savior who has delivered my soul from the nethermost Hell? Surely, but for His blood shed for me, I could never have had an entrance into His everlasting kingdom! Let me, then, first learn a lesson of deep humility, of ceasing from vain-glory, and thoughts of my own worthiness. Let me say, "O to grace how great a debtor!"

Then let me learn a lesson of submission to the righteous will of God in His dealings with mankind. What I do not know now — I shall know hereafter; and then shall I be constrained to say, "Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments!"

     ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Completely healed!

(Maria Sandberg, "Glimpses of Heaven!" 1880)

"The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations." Revelation 22:2

We will not endeavor to explain this verse, but rather confine ourselves to meditation on a topic so delightful as the healing of our souls from the dreadful disease of sin.

If we are Christians, we know that our present state is one of spiritual sickness; and that none but Jesus can be our Physician. We have need continually to utter the cry, "Heal my soul, for I have sinned against You!" Daily and hourly have we need to go with our soul sicknesses and infirmities to our heavenly Physician, and entreat Him to heal us, and strengthen us.

Naturally there is no spiritual health in us; and it is, indeed, a source of exquisite joy when we feel that Jesus has, by His all-powerful Spirit, undertaken the cure of our souls. And exquisite also is the joyous prospect of entire renovation and spiritual health in Heaven, when we shall eat of the tree of life, and be completely healed! Oh, the more we know of our spiritual weaknesses, infirmities, and sins — the greater will be our joy at the prospect of eternal deliverance from them!

Blessed Savior! Undertake and carry on the work of restoration, until it is perfected in Your paradise above! In the case of our souls, we are sure that the blood of Jesus Christ can cleanse us, and the power of Jesus can heal us. Ours cannot be a desperate case, for our Physician is Almighty!

"The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin!" 1 John 1:7

     ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

No longer will there be any curse!

(Maria Sandberg, "Glimpses of Heaven!" 1880)

"No longer will there be any curse!"
Revelation 22:3

Our beautiful world, filled with the wonderful works of God, bears evident traces that it is not what it was created at first. It bears everywhere, the marks of a great change — which change is accounted for in the Bible by the fall of Adam. God made everything very good — but man sinned, and the curse came upon himself and the whole creation! Though still beautiful, yet how much is its beauty marred and defaced! Now, thorns and thistles spring up — where once were only lovely flowers and sweet fruits. The wild beasts of the forest, though still beautiful in outward form — now possess violent and ferocious dispositions; and the beasts of burden groan under the tyranny of man. Man himself is subject to labor and toil, to sorrow and sickness and death. Even his most innocent enjoyments are marred by sin!

But thanks be to God, the promise of deliverance from the curse sounds in our ears in this blessed Scripture, "No longer will there be any curse!" Where, then, is this land of blessing and perfection? It is that Paradise which Christ has gone to prepare for His people; that "Rest which remains for the people of God."

Here on earth, even our very blessings are mixed with signs of the curse. But there shall be no more curse in our Heavenly home:
  no more toil and labor,
  no more weariness and faintness,
  no more hunger or thirst,
  no more bitter cold or burning heat,
  no more disappointment,
  no more sorrow,
  no more pain,
  no more sickness,
  no more death!

In Heaven, there shall be no more curse, but all will be the perfection of bliss. Who can conceive the happiness of such a state? For this, the whole creation groans and travails in pain, eagerly waiting for its consummation.

Let us, then, who have such exceedingly great and precious promises, when sighing under the effects of the curse in any of its forms — gladly turn our thoughts to meditate on Heaven's glorious realities! And when admiring the beautiful works of God, which still exist to show us what they once were — let us also turn our thoughts to the greater beauty and glory of our Paradise above!

     ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

All happiness, all satisfaction is comprehended in this!

(Maria Sandberg, "Glimpses of Heaven!" 1880)

"They will see His face!" Revelation 22:4

What a promise is this! We shall see the face of God and the Lamb who was slain for us! We shall see the face of God in Christ! We shall see Jesus, whom having not seen, we love! All happiness, all satisfaction is comprehended in this! Long have we believed, though we have not seen; long have we desired the glorious vision of Him whom our souls love — then shall it be realized! We shall see His face!

If it has been our great delight here below to hear of His loveliness and beauty, and to have a spiritual sense of His presence — what will it be to see the substance of our hope! Yet this happiness will most assuredly be ours — we shall see His face!

While we meditate on this hope, may it exercise its transforming power upon us, and conform us now to the image of Christ! "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord — are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory!" 2 Corinthians 3:18

If we hope hereafter to see His face, we must now be, in some measure, changed into the same image. The same holy character must be formed in us, which was in Christ Jesus. He has set us an example, that we should walk in His steps — in His steps . . .
  of humility,
  of self-denial,
  of devotion,
  of love to God and men, and
  of zeal for the glory of God.

Are we treading in these steps? Do we bear His image now?

In one sense, all, both just and unjust, will see the face of Christ; but if we would see His face with joy, and continue in the everlasting vision of it — we must bear the image of Christ now. Let us come down from the mount of heavenly meditation, retaining this truth in our memories, and resolved henceforth to seek more earnestly the grace and help of the Holy Spirit, by whom we shall be conformed to the likeness of our Savior!

"Jesus, my Savior, let me be,
 More perfectly conformed to Thee.
 Implant each grace — each sin dethrone,
 And form my temper like Thy own!"

     ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

One eternal unclouded day!

(Maria Sandberg, "Glimpses of Heaven!" 1880)

"There shall be no night there! They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever!" Revelation 22:5

While in this world, our weary bodies require the refreshment of sleep; and our merciful God has graciously given to us this sweet restorer of strength. Often we have retired to rest, overcome with fatigue and anxiety, perhaps distressed with pain — but sleep has taken away these feelings, and we have risen the next day in health and peace, to serve our God with joyfulness.

On a bed of sickness, this text has often been a source of comfort to the believer, "There shall be no night there!"

But there will be no night in Heaven, because there will be no need . . .
  of rest from labor,
  of relief from pain,
  of solace and refreshment under fatigue.
The former state of things will have fully passed away, and one eternal unclouded day will have dawned upon us! Our spirits will then be made perfect — and at the resurrection our glorified bodies will rise, no more to be a clog upon our souls' enjoyment.

A night of pain and wakefulness, is often a time in which God teaches His people. In the midst of active employment, the soul is not at leisure for reflection; and in the short periods devoted to retirement for prayer and meditation — the thoughts are often strangely distracted by what has gone before, or by the anticipation of coming events. But in a night of weariness and pain, there seems to be a rest from outward things; the soul is brought to a stand before God — it must think, it must reflect, it must examine itself, and ask if all is safe for eternity — if it is in Christ, if it is prepared to die.

Blessed result of pain — if led thereby to seek the Lord Jesus, and find rest in Him! Blessed result of pain — if led thereby to meditate on Heaven's eternal day of rest!

"There shall be no night there!" No wearisome hours of discipline — no learning the dark intricacies and windings of our heart, and the deceitfulness of sin. There shall be no night there — no night of error, no darkness of soul, no dark unbelieving thoughts of God, and of His ways; but all will be clear, bright and shining to all eternity! The way by which the Lord our God has led us, will then be seen. The retrospect will be clear — we will see that our path has been a safe and right one, and we will glorify our gracious God! "He led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation." Psalm 107:7

     ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Do not be over-righteous!

(George Mylne, "Lessons for the Christian's Daily Walk" 1859)

"Do not be over-righteous!" Ecclesiastes 7:16

How can this be? Can any man be over-righteous?
When zeal oversteps discretion;
when tasks are self-imposed;
when religious forms are trusted in;
when flesh is vainly mortified —
all this is being over-righteous!
God's people unwittingly fall into these very errors.

Prayer, as a task, persisted in — that we may think how long our prayers have been — this is a great mistake. It is wrong in principle, and practice too. Have you ever been more fretful after prayer, more worldly, more inclined to levity? The truth is this — you prayed too long; your mind was over-taxed; your soul responded to your weariness. The enemy rejoiced in your infirmity — you were "over-righteous."

Or you have found refreshment in the house of worship. You have gone a second time, and found the same. You went again (three services, three sermons in a day!) — the third occasion undid the other two. Trying to have too much — you lost all. The wearied brain could not recall its former devotion; the jaded memory broke down — you were "over-righteous."

It is often the same in reading Scripture. The mind is proud of its performances, and reads too much. To read each day so many chapters; in a short time to have gone the whole round of Scripture — rapidly to move from the Law, to History, to the Prophets, to the Gospel in the hurry — my friend, you are "over-righteous!" This is not the way to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Were you to spend a lifetime over a single Psalm, gaining daily refreshment to your soul — would be far better, than to scamper rapidly through the Word.

When household duties are neglected for the sake of devotional exercises — this, too, is being over-righteous.

The same is true when others are inconvenienced by our devotional exercises. The family waiting in the hall, the carriage at the door — while prayers are too lengthy. Is not this being "over-righteous?"

Prayer, meditation, and the Scriptures — how good they are! Yet there is a time for all things. If duties rise so thick, that you are hindered in your prayers — even this is better than prayer persisted in, and duties left undone! Beware, then, Christian friend, and do not be "over-righteous."

     ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The art of meditation

(George Mylne, "Lessons for the Christian's Daily Walk" 1859)

"So I applied my mind to understand, to investigate and to search out wisdom and the scheme of things." Ecclesiastes 7:25

We live in stirring days, when deeds are everything — when closet work is often neglected for active business, and little time is given to meditation. Yet, with more thought and prayer — wholesome activity would be greater in the end, and all our actions more successful. Time is not lost, which is spent in meditation — in searching wisdom's ways, and seeking out profound realities. There is one who often meditates — and yet accomplishes much. There is another who hastens — and yet does little. None works so heartily, nor reaps so fully — as he whose wits are sharpened by prayer and meditation.

Reading either Scripture or Christian books, apart from meditation, does little good. It is much the same as not digesting what you eat — this only starves the soul. How many read the Bible thus!

The art of meditation may be learned by dint of effort.

You say, "I am quite unused to meditate. How shall I begin?" Deal gently with yourself at first. Select your subject — some passage from the Word. Then fix the time you choose to give; say, five minutes at a time. Begin, and think aloud. This makes it easier, and saves the mind from distracted thoughts, the hardest task of all. The sound even of your own voice will help you; it is like speaking to a friend. And what is meditation, but communing with self — that self may be a constant hearer.

But, more than all, make it a time of prayer — of communing with God. This helps the matter greatly. Take the words of Scripture — and ask Jesus what they mean. In doing this, the mind is exercised. A glow of thought attends the effort. You honor Jesus; and He will honor you, by pouring out a largeness of capacity — a quicker mind. The interchange of thought between you and Jesus goes on apace, and you are surprised to find how long the exercise has lasted.

Thus meditation grows, the more it is exercised. It . . .
  feeds the soul,
  expands the mind,
  increases thought, and,
  best of all, it brings you into fellowship with Jesus. This is the very life and soul of meditation.

"Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." Joshua 1:8

"But his delight is in the Law of the LORD, and on His Law he meditates day and night." Psalm 1:2

"I will meditate on all Your works, and consider all Your mighty deeds." Psalm 77:12

"I meditate on Your precepts, and consider Your ways." Psalm 119:15

"Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long." Psalm 119:97

"I meditate on all Your works, and consider what Your hands have done." Psalm 143:5

"My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on Your promises." Psalm 119:148

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Reader, either you are mad — or you once were!

(George Mylne, "Lessons for the Christian's Daily Walk" 1859)

"The hearts of men are full of evil, and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead!" Ecclesiastes 9:3

In life a madman — a madman still in death! Such, such is man.

Man thinks he is wise. He looks with pity on the poor maniac. How little he suspects that he himself is tenfold mad — not only mad for time; mad also for eternity!
He brings madness into the world;
he imbibes madness with his mother's milk;
he learns madness at school;
he confirms and strengthens madness in manhood;
he feeds madness by all he does;
he reads madness in books;
he finds madness in every company;
he bears madness along in every walk of life;
sleeping or waking — silent or speaking — learned or ignorant — rich or poor
 — he is a maniac still!

A madman was his father; and so was his father's father! Go backwards until you come to Adam — they were all maniacs!

All his children are mad; and so will be his children's children, even to the final child — they will all be maniacs!

What do you think of a man, who walks blindfolded on a yawning precipice? Is he not mad?

And what are all men? What do they do?
They sport with life.
They play with death.
They slumber above the flames of Hell.
They defy their Maker and their Judge.
They think nothing of judgment and eternity
 — and thus they die!
Is it a libel, then, to say, "They are all mad!"

And what comes after death? Does wisdom then come? Will madness cease then? They will hear of wisdom, but they will not have it. Man will then discover how mad he has been. He will see his madness then — but only to know its endless misery!

Happy the man who, "coming to himself," resolves once more to seek his Father's house! (Luke 15:17, 18.) Yes, "coming to himself." Thus speaks the parable. I ask you to mark the words; they are full of meaning. As though the man had been asleep; or drunk; or mad; or had swooned away — unconscious of himself, and all around him. And then, as touched by a sudden hand, and sense as suddenly infused, he awakes — comes to himself again, and immediately he lives, as another man. Such is fallen nature — and such is grace in its effects.

Happy is the man, who thus recovers the gift of reason! Happy is the man, who sits at Jesus' feet, "in his right mind," and clothed with grace — cured of his madness! Jesus has said the healing word — the "legion" is cast out and gone. The man is a maniac no more. (Luke 8:35.)

Reader, either you are mad — or you once were! Say, have you looked to Jesus — or are you a madman still?

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How much you have been loved

(Horatius Bonar, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ")

"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us!"  Romans 5:8

The CROSS is the pledge and standard of divine love!

The Father's love is here — for God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son! Christ's love is here — the love that passes knowledge, the love which many waters could not quench, nor the floods drown; love to the uttermost; love grudging no toil, nor pain, nor weariness, nor reproach — for us!

Believer! If you want to know how much you have been loved, look to the cross of Jesus! That meets and answers all our doubts!