Grace Gems for JUNE 2014
~ ~ ~ ~
We shall see Him as He is!
(Thomas Boston, "Human Nature in its Fourfold State")
"We shall see Him as He is!" 1 John 3:2
Then we shall behold Him who died for us, that we might live forevermore; whose matchless love made Him swim through the Red Sea of God's wrath, to make a path in the midst of it for us, by which we might pass safely to our heavenly Canaan. Then we shall see what a glorious one He is, who suffered all this for us! Then shall we be more able to understand, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love really is.
When we shall fully realize that the waters of wrath which He was plunged into, are the wells of salvation from whence we draw all our joy; that we have received the cup of salvation, in exchange for the cup of wrath which He drank — how will our hearts leap within us, burn with seraphic love, as Heaven resounds with our songs of salvation!
We shall eternally, without interruption, feast our eyes upon Him — and be ever viewing His glorious perfections! In Him shall we see everything desirable — and nothing but what is desirable. We shall look into the heart of God, and there see the love He bore to us from all eternity, and the love and goodness He will bear to us forevermore.
We who are heirs of God, the great heritage — shall then enter into a full possession of our inheritance; and the Lord will open His treasures of goodness unto us, that our enjoyment may be full. We shall not be stinted to any measure — but the enjoyment shall go as far as our enlarged capacities can reach. We shall be fully satisfied, and perfectly blessed in the full enjoyment of divine goodness.
Our love to the Lord, being purified from the dross of self-love, shall be most pure. We will be all love, when we come to the full enjoyment of God in Heaven, by intuitive and experimental knowledge of Him, by full participation in the divine goodness.
The enjoyment of God and the Lamb will be ever fresh and new to us, through the ages of eternity; for we shall drink of living fountains of waters, where new waters are continually springing up in abundance. Our joy shall be pure and unmixed, without any dregs of sorrow; solid and everlasting, without interruption. We shall swim forever in an ocean of joy — where we shall see nothing but joy wherever we turn our eyes. The presence and enjoyment of God and the Lamb will satisfy us with pleasures for evermore; and will afford us everlasting delight!
"You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand!" Psalm 16:11
~ ~ ~ ~
I will rejoice in Your salvation!
(William Nicholson, 1862)
"I will rejoice in Your salvation!" Psalm 9:14
The minds of the wicked find joy from the most trivial causes — causes which the Spirit of God has taught the Christian to estimate as mere "vanity and vexation of spirit." To the enlightened mind, the pursuits of this world, and the possessions of the most wealthy, dwindle into insignificance when compared with the value of the soul and its great salvation. If a sinner finds cause for joy in his career of iniquity, the end of which is damnation — then surely the believer has an unfailing source of joy and consolation in God's salvation!
No one can rejoice in salvation, unless he understands it. There will be a knowledge . . .
of the necessity of salvation, arising from the conviction of one's fallen, guilty, and condemned state before God;
of the accomplishment of salvation, by the atoning death, resurrection, and intercession of Jesus Christ, 1 Timothy 1:15;
that when received, salvation will grant . . .
pardon to the guilty,
justification to the condemned,
liberty to the spiritual captive,
health to the spiritually sick,
sight to the spiritually blind, and, in short,
"all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus!"
No one can ever rejoice in salvation, unless he has felt his need of it. The Spirit has opened the eyes of his understanding, and revealed to him his great guilt — and need of the Savior. He now knows the plague of his own heart. He now feels his utter helplessness — and perceives the adaptation of the Savior to his state as a perishing sinner.
True salvation always produces joy and rejoicing! "I will rejoice in Your salvation."
The sick person rejoices when his disease departs, when the bloom of health again mantles his cheek, etc.
The debtor rejoices when his debts are discharged, etc.
The culprit rejoices when reprieved, when he hears the opening of the doors of his prison-house.
And shall not the penitent and believing sinner rejoice? He is saved! Saved from . . .
the guilt of sin,
the condemnation of sin,
the dominion of sin,
the power of death,
the dominion of the grave, and
the vengeance of everlasting fire!
This joy springs from the realization of divine mercy, through the sin-atoning death of Christ. This rejoicing is over . . .
an infinite soul,
redeemed by an infinite price,
from an infinite damnation —
to infinite joys, realized first here, and then to be realized fully in an infinite Heaven.
What a possession! What a prospect! "I will rejoice in Your salvation!"
1. The believer rejoices in the origin of salvation. It is the result of distinguishing grace — the sovereign goodness and unmerited compassion and favor of God. Man . . .
did not deserve it,
had no equitable title to it,
never solicited it.
God beheld him as an outcast, pitied him, and condescended to save him!
2. The believer rejoices in the procuring of salvation. When he sees his Redeemer in the garden and on the cross, he weeps — but they are tears of joy. There he sees Christ's astonishing love. There he sees Him bearing his sins — and dying in his stead, etc.
3. The believer rejoices in the glorious properties of salvation . . .
the freeness of it, requiring no qualifications nor conditions,
the purity of it, unto holiness,
the power of it, saving him from the guilt, dominion, and pollution of sin,
the extensiveness of it, investing him with every spiritual blessing,
the certainty of it, assuring the soul, "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish — ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand." John 10:28
4. The believer rejoices in the prospective consummation of salvation in Heaven. He anticipates with joy . . .
the full harvest,
the fruition of hope, and
the vision of glory in which faith shall be lost.
"You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand!" Psalm 16:11
~ ~ ~ ~
The new birth!
(William Nicholson, "The Character and Dignity of Christians" 1862)
"You have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God!" 1 Peter 1:23
No one is born a Christian. No one comes into the world with a pure heart.
The new birth is not effected by baptism — yet some have wickedly declared that we are regenerated by baptism, made children of God, and heirs of the kingdom of Heaven. A person may be baptized in infancy, or in riper years — and yet, like Simon Magus, remain "in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity!" Acts 8:23
The new birth is not merely external, nor does it consist in mere religious duties. Some people have been preserved from immoralities, yet they too must be born again.
A man may perform a multitude of religious duties — and yet have an unholy heart.
He may be honest and fair in his dealings — and yet be an enemy to God.
He may be of a generous to others — and yet not of a gracious disposition.
He may be able to say with the young ruler, "All these things have I kept from my youth up," and yet lack the one thing needful.
The new birth is not merely a profession of faith. Not all who profess Christ, possess Him.
The new birth is a change wrought by the power of the Holy Spirit in the understanding, will, and affections of a sinner, which is the commencement of a new kind of life; and which gives another direction to his judgment, desires, pursuits, and conduct.
This new birth is a divine change. Thus He who gave man his physical being at first, can alone create him in Christ Jesus unto good works. He alone can enstamp His own image, and make us partakers of a Divine nature. To give life to the dead, and to bring a clean thing out of an unclean — is the work of Omnipotence, and the effect of sovereign grace! "Who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God!" John 1:13
This new birth is an inward and invisible change.
The understanding is enlightened,
the judgment is informed,
the affections and desires are purified,
the will is subdued, and subjected to the will of God,
the soul is turned from the love of the world and the creature, to the great Creator and His service.
Regeneration cleanses the corrupt fountain of the heart, and demolishes the strongholds of Satan. It is a change . . .
from heart wickedness — to heart holiness,
from enmity to God — to love to God,
from the image of Satan — to the image of God.
This new birth is a universal change, extending to the heart and life. Not only the mind — but the man is renewed. The tree is made good, and its fruit is good. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17
He who is born again, gives evidence that he has passed from death to life. It is visible in his conduct — the observer of him perceives the change. How different now, from what he once was! The following are the principal evidences of regeneration:
(1) Hatred to sin.
(2) Victory over the world.
(3) Brotherly love.
(4) Delight in spiritual duties.
(5) A life of holiness.
(6) Self-loathing, and constant faith in the sacrifice of Christ.
(7) Sincere love to Christ.
~ ~ ~ ~
Right hands and right eyes are dear to us!
(Excerpt from a letter of William Tiptaft)
"If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me!" Matthew 16:24
My dear Brother,
How we find that there are two principles within us continually at war — and how they ever wrestle for mastery! But whatever suits and pleases the flesh, will surely make the soul lean, and bring on spiritual deadness and barrenness.
The more we taste of the pleasures of sin, the more we get blinded and intoxicated by them, and the more anxious to enjoy them in this time-state, whether we go to Heaven or not.
Right hands and right eyes are dear to us, and self-denial is a continual cross!
When we are tried, tempted, and harassed — we want ease and comfort. Yet we daily learn that without ballast, we cannot sail safely on the seas of temptation. We need chastisements, rods, and crosses — to bring us to the throne of grace. We need a daily sense of our vileness and our sins — to constrain us to fly to the only true refuge for poor helpless sinners, who is a Friend in need and a Brother born for adversity.
Yours very affectionately,
William Tiptaft, November 13th, 1839
"If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into Hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into Hell." Matthew 5:29-30
~ ~ ~ ~
Your choicest mercies!
(Letters of John Newton)
My dear friend,
I sympathize with you in all your trials. But if the Lord is pleased to make them subservient to the increase of your sanctification, to wean you more and more from this world, and to draw you nearer to Himself — you will one day see cause to be thankful for them, and to number them among your choicest mercies!
A hundred years hence — it will signify little to you, whether you were sick or well the day I wrote this letter.
I am truly and always, your affectionate friend,
"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it!" Hebrews 12:11
~ ~ ~ ~
A holier, happier, sublimer, and more durable world than this!
(William Nicholson, 1862)
"And this is what He promised us — even eternal life!" 1 John 2:25
This poor world is full of sin, sorrow, pain, and death. If we had this life only — we would be most miserable. But the Christian has an unfailing hope of a holier, happier, sublimer, and more durable world than this! This hope supports him in every scene of earthly conflict and distress.
As the mariner tossed by the storm and tempest — hopes to gain the desired haven;
as the traveler fatigued by the perils and toils of his journey — hopes to reach his own beloved home;
as the soldier harassed by conflict in the field of battle — hopes to conquer and to wear the victor's crown
— so the Christian pilgrim in the midst of his strenuous labors — hopes that he will . . .
successfully brave all the storms of life,
finish his course,
fight the good fight of faith, and then
lay hold on eternal life in his Father's house above!
Believers shall enjoy eternal life in Heaven as . . .
the residence of the ever blessed God,
His palace of splendor,
the habitation of His holiness,
the place where His honor dwells,
the dwelling-place of angels and perfected spirits.
1. Heaven is a place of inexpressible felicity, as it appears from its names . . .
the paradise of God,
a building from God,
a mansion of God,
a heavenly city,
a better country,
a priceless inheritance,
an eternal kingdom,
an unfading crown of glory,
peace, rest, and joy of the Lord.
2. Heaven will be a life of complete purity. Sin, in this world, is the great source of estrangement from God — it is that which constantly vexes and distresses the soul. But in Heaven sin can never enter to defile, "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.
We shall be faultless, and like God! Jude 24; Ephesians 5:26-27; 1 John 3:2; Psalm 17:15.
3. Heaven will be a life of perfect happiness. There is no perfect happiness in this poor world. Life here is like the fluctuations of the sea, or weather — calms and storms, sunshine and clouds.
Sorrow is frequently the lot of God's people. Some are afflicted under the hand of God — or mourning the loss of relatives or friends — or sunk into deep adversity. Some are weeping over the sins of others — parents over their children, pastors over their flocks, and Christians over the wickedness of the world.
But all the causes of evil will be annihilated in Heaven:
sin shall distress no more,
Satan shall tempt no more,
sickness shall pain no more,
the tyrant shall oppress no more,
death shall bereave and destroy no more. "Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd! He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes!" Revelation 7:16-17
4. Heaven will be a life of the greatest honor.
A. They will be raised to a kingdom! "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom!" Luke 12:32. What can be received, more than a kingdom? It is the highest dignity known on earth. Who can be higher than a king?
B. It will be a life of honor which conquerors obtain. Crowns of victory are in reserve! "Everlasting joy shall be upon their heads!" Here on earth, they wear a crown of thorns — but there they will wear a diadem of glory!
It will be an incorruptible crown, not a fading laurel, etc. 1 Corinthians 9:25. No length of time will terminate the dominion of the saints, or tarnish the luster of their crowns. They shall reign forever and ever!
It is called a crown of righteousness, 2 Timothy 4:7. It was purchased by the righteousness of Christ, and is given, wholly for His sake, to His redeemed people.
It is a crown of life, meaning they shall never die! "The crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him!" James 1:12; Revelation 2:10.
It is a crown of gold, Revelation 4:4, to denote the priceless and lasting honor to which they will be advanced, and the superlative wealth of the kingdom which they will possess.
C. They shall sit upon a throne — the throne of Christ! "To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne!" Revelation 3:21 — that lofty throne, that expansive throne, in which He will make room for all His faithful soldiers.
5. Heaven will be a a life of rich enjoyment.
A. Heaven is represented as a feast, "Many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast!" Matthew 8:11.
B. Heaven is represented as a marriage supper, "Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!" Revelation 19:9.
C. Heaven is represented as a life of enjoyment in the best society — God Himself, angels, and glorified saints!
D. Heaven is represented as enjoyment of the beatific vision of God, when we shall see Him face to face, and understand the mysteries of creation, providence, and grace. Then the enraptured soul will exclaim, "You have done all things well!"
6. To crown all, Heaven is called eternal life. Most of the Scriptural representations of Heaven are combined with adjectives expressive of endless perpetuity. Hence Heaven is called . . .
the everlasting kingdom,
the incorruptible inheritance,
the exceeding and eternal weight of glory, etc., etc.
If a miser could insure his wealth for eternity, that alone would be Heaven enough for him. But it is his misery when he dies, that he can carry none of his riches away with him. But he who lays up treasure in Heaven need not fear moth or rust, or thief — all is eternally secure!
~ ~ ~ ~
True love to God says
(William Nicholson, "Love to God, and the Divine Approbation" 1862)
"Father, if You are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from Me. Yet I want Your will to be done, not Mine!" Luke 22:42
True love to God . . .
produces sweet submission to His will,
does not rebel at His difficult dispensations,
does not resist the appointments of His wise and holy providence,
will not permit us to call into question any part of His government,
will not indulge a doubt respecting the rectitude of His proceedings.
True love to God says, "This trial, this affliction, this bereavement, this piercing cross — has been arranged by my Father in Heaven! He is infinitely wise, and infinitely good — He does all things well — I submit."
Like Job, it says, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave — and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." Job 1:21
~ ~ ~ ~
Side by side they lie in the dust, and worms cover them both!
(William Nicholson, "Approaching Mortality!" 1862)
"Only a few years will pass, before I go on the journey of no return." Job 16:22
Death is a great journey — it is the last journey we shall ever take!
The sun rises daily, and we think little of it. Just so, the frequency and commonness of death, causes it to be little thought of. Every day, men go to their long home, and the mourners go about the street.
While death is gloomy and melancholy to the man of pleasure, to the man overwhelmed with business, and to the devotee of mammon — it is nevertheless sometimes regarded as a welcome messenger by the afflicted, and those who possess a good hope through grace, Job 19:25.
Death is full of solemn import.
What is death?
It is forever leaving the present scene of existence — it is the cessation of existence here on earth.
The lungs no longer heave;
the heart stops beating;
the blood ceases to flow and congeals;
the tongue is silent;
the hand forgets its skill;
the whole body becomes motionless, pale, and ghastly!
Death is the separation of body and soul.
Death is the dissolution of every relative and social tie, however tender and endeared.
Death is the cessation of all human pursuits, and the relinquishment of all human possessions.
Death is a journey that must be performed alone.
Death is a journey that must be taken by all. "Death has passed upon all men, for all have sinned." Romans 5:12. It is in the grave, where the rich and the poor meet together; kings as well as subjects, philosophers as well as fools.
A century removes all the inhabitants of the globe to the silent grave.
All who now live, in one hundred years to come, will be no more!
Death is unavoidable!
Death is an established fact, by God's inviolable decree:
"Dust you are — and to dust you shall return!"
"It is appointed unto men once to die — and after that the judgment!"
Death is a fact characterized by the greatest uncertainty.
Great God! Amid what a mass of perils do we live! A grain may suffocate — a crumb may stop the springs of life! A breath, a cough, a sigh — may prostrate all our vital powers, and fit us for the worms! So various, too, the texture of our bodies, so fine the mechanism, so complex the structure — that every motion has its risk! And all our hours — our very moments, are beset with hazards, perils, fears, and ambushed ills!
What then is life? A bubble that is blown for death to burst!!!
"Man knows not his time when his hour may come" etc., Ecclesiastes 9:12. "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes!" James 4:14.
Death may invade us at a period apparently the most unlikely, when we are not at all prepared for it.
It may come in the spring of life — and mar its strength and vigor and beauty, etc. "One man dies in full vigor, completely secure and at ease, his body well nourished, his bones rich with marrow. Another man dies in bitterness of soul, never having enjoyed anything good. Side by side they lie in the dust, and worms cover them both!" Job 21:23-26
Death may come . . .
to the place of business,
to the hall of pleasure,
to the couch of sensual indulgence, etc., etc.
It may come suddenly, in a moment — or it may come by protracted disease.
"And I'll say to myself: 'You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry!'
But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'" Luke 12:19-20
Death is an event followed by vastly solemn results. To the individual himself, death . . .
ends his probation,
is the departure of his soul into eternity,
is the apprehension of it either by demons or angels,
is the transmission of it to Heaven or to perdition.
"The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hell, where he was in torment . . ." Luke 16:22-23
Death ends all the conflicts and trials and sorrows of the righteous.
Death is the commencement of all the woes of the wicked.
Death is a journey from which there will be no return. "But now he is dead; can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me." 2 Samuel 12:23.
In vain we linger by the corpse — the countenance will no more smile upon us.
In vain we go to the grave — it is deaf to our cries, it will not give back its trust.
"But man dies and is laid low; he breathes his last and is no more. As water disappears from the sea or a riverbed becomes parched and dry — so man lies down and does not rise." Job 14
The fact of death should awaken the soul to reflection. In the midst of danger, we have been sleeping. While the darts of mortality are flying around us, we are calculating on future pleasures, pursuits, plans, life, etc., etc. "It is high time to awake out of sleep!"
Death may come as a thief in the night! Do not be taken by surprise when the Bridegroom comes. When the chariots of God come down, and Christ says, by death, "Come up hither!" — be ready!
The fact of death should animate the saint. "Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed." He shall soon be free from sin and suffering — soon see God and Heaven, and realize the glorious raptures of eternity!
Death teaches the value of the Gospel — which is the sovereign remedy for death, "Our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel!" 2 Timothy 1:10
~ ~ ~ ~
King Alphonso's folly!
(Letters of John Newton)
King Alphonso of Portugal said that if God had consulted him at the creation, about the placements and motions of the planets and stars, etc. — that he would have contrived them better than they are. I suppose the poor man took the schemes and dreams of the astronomers of his day — to be an accurate representation of the solar system.
It sounds, however, like a blasphemous speech in our ears. We take it for granted that the Sun, the Moon, planets, and the stars are exactly where they should be — and move just as they ought.
But if we are content that the Lord should manage the heavenly bodies without our assistance — we are ready enough to advise Him how He should manage of our insignificant selves! We think we could point at twenty things in our situation which might be mended; and that we would serve Him much better than we do — if we were but at liberty to choose where and how we would be thus placed.
Thus we rightly censure King Alphonso's folly — without being aware that the thoughts that we sometimes indulge, are no less vain and arrogant than his! We might with as much reason, offer to assist God in the government of the universe — as in the direction of our own paltry concerns!
"All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back His hand or say to Him: What have You done?" Daniel 4:35
~ ~ ~ ~
Whatever we have over-loved
Whatever we have over-loved, idolized, and leaned upon — God has from time to time broken it, and made us to see the vanity of it. We find that the readiest course to be rid of our comforts — is to set our hearts inordinately upon them!
"Anyone who loves his father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me;
anyone who loves his son or daughter more than Me, is not worthy of Me;
and anyone who does not take his cross and follow Me, is not worthy of Me!"
~ ~ ~ ~
Being cast like a weed on the bewildering stream!
(John MacDuff, "Ripples in the Twilight" 1885)
WHAT! Resign the reins of universal empire . . .
to blind fate!
Who could endure the thought of being cast like a weed on the bewildering stream, in its tortuous course, at the mercy of every current!
Oh! there is a God who reigns on high, "All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing. And He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay His hand or say to Him: What are You doing?" Daniel 4:35
"The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad!" Psalm 97:1
"Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns!" Revelation 19:6
~ ~ ~ ~
These smaller trials which God prepares for us
(Hannah More, "Practical Piety")
We must trace the hand of our Heavenly Father in those daily little disappointments, the hourly vexations which occur even in the most prosperous circumstances, and which are inseparable from the condition of sinful humanity.
We must trace that same beneficent hand, secretly at work for our purification and our correction . . .
in the imperfections and unpleasantness of those around us,
in the peevishness of those with whom we transact business, and
in those interruptions which break in upon our favorite engagements.
We are perhaps too much addicted to our innocent delights, or we are too fond of our leisure. A check then becomes necessary, but it is given in a most imperceptible way. The divine hand that gives it is unseen, is unsuspected — yet it is the same gracious hand which directs the more important events of life!
Some annoying interruption breaks in on our projected privacy, and calls us to a sacrifice of our inclination — to a renunciation of our own will.
Let us cheerfully bear and diligently receive these smaller trials which God prepares for us.
Submission . . .
to a cross which He inflicts,
to a disappointment which He sends,
to a contradiction of our self love which He appoints —
is a far better exercise than great penances of our own choosing.
Perpetual conquests over impatience, ill-temper and self-will, indicate a better spirit than any self-imposed mortifications.
By these incessant tests of our temper, God cultivates the more difficult virtues of . . .
"Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble." 1 Peter 3:8
~ ~ ~ ~
Ever gliding down the stream of time into the ocean of eternity!
(William Nicholson, "Prayer for Divine Mercy" 1862)
"We are consumed by Your anger and terrified by Your indignation. You have set our iniquities before You, our secret sins in the light of Your presence!" Psalm 90:7-8
Man is here recognized as a sinner in his relationship to . . .
the Divine Being,
his Governor and Lawgiver.
By his "iniquities" and his "secret sins," he is represented as a transgressor of that law which is "holy, just, and good." Man has . . .
resisted God's authority,
despised His counsels, and
followed the devices of his own corrupt heart.
Having acted thus, he is exposed to the Divine displeasure, and to the penalty denounced against rebellious men, "We are consumed by Your anger and terrified by Your indignation!"
Man is . . .
guilty — and needs pardon;
condemned — and needs justification;
impure — and needs righteousness and holiness;
a wanderer, an outcast — and needs reconciliation and adoption;
an heir of wrath, exposed to eternal perdition — and needs salvation and a title to Heaven.
Man is frail and mortal. This is the state of all, and it is the fruit of sin. Look at your frail, decaying body . . .
how it sickens and languishes;
how it is pained and agonized;
how its bloom and its strength depart;
how it withers and dies, and "says to corruption — you are my father; and to the worm — you are my mother!" Job 17:14. All this has been produced by sin.
Most affecting representations of man's frailty and mortality are given by Moses in the context of Psalm 90. His life is a dying one, "You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of the morning — though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered!" verses 5-6
Man is destined to return to dust, "By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are — and to dust you will return." Genesis 3:19. "Remember Him, before . . . the dust returns to the ground it came from." Ecclesiastes 12:6-7
"You carry them away as with a flood" — ever gliding down the stream of time into the ocean of eternity! The flood of mortality is ever flowing, and man is carried away with it — carried with it surely and irresistibly.
Time passes unobserved by men (they are as asleep, verse 5), as it does with people asleep, and dreaming of happiness and security — and when it is over, it is as nothing!
Man's life is short and transient, "The length of our days is seventy years — or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away!" Psalm 90:10
Man resembles the "grass," which in the morning grows up and flourishes in its beautiful greenness, but which in the evening is cut down, and instantly withers, changes its color, and loses all its beauty. So it will be with man, "You always overpower them, and they pass from the scene. You disfigure them in death and send them away!" Job 14:20
Come, then, O man, and behold your picture! You are a sinner, and perdition is your prospect — the blackness of darkness forever! You are "like grass." This is the emblem of your life, and of all your works! "Grass!" Not the strong and enduring tree of the forest; not even the shrub — but "grass," which flourishes in the morning, and by evening it is dry and withered.
"All the glory of man," all that beautifies and adorns his life, all that is beauty to the eye, or gives pleasure to the senses — is still more frail; it does not endure the life of the short-lived plant, which arrays itself in its beauty. "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall." 1 Peter 1:24
How short-lived is the glory of your physical nature! Youth, beauty, strength, intellect, energy — are fast failing you! The wind of sickness, or cares, or toil, or old age — will pass over them, and they will be entirely gone! A frost shall lay the flower in the dust — or a blight may leave its withered remains to shiver on the stem — just so, with frail man!
Observe the flowers which remind us most of the bloom of Eden, and which shed their delightful fragrance on the path of life:
the happy social hearth;
the friendships founded on virtue;
the hallowed domestic relationships;
the fellowship of saints.
Separation by death changes all these scenes — loneliness and solitude follow.
Behold the cemeteries around you — they cover the generations of short-lived men.
Like the herbage of the season, life and death have trodden in each other's footsteps, and the career of each goes on. Death is at the heels of life, cutting down its present plans, and sternly trampling into dust its constant but vain creations. "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall." 1 Peter 1:24
"It is appointed for men to die once, and after this comes judgment!" Hebrews 9:27
~ ~ ~ ~
These eternal fountains!
(William Nicholson, 1862)
"For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their Shepherd.
He will lead them to springs of living water.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes!" Revelation 7:17
"God will wipe away every tear from their eyes!" Numerous are the sources of sorrow here on earth — but God will dry them all up in Heaven. There will be no mourning Christian to drop tears there, "for all sorrow and sighing shall flee away!" There is nothing in that happy residence to distress or annoy.
Jeremiah will utter no plaintive language there.
Transgressors will grieve the holy no more.
Bartimeus is the poor blind beggar no more.
Lazarus's sores have been replaced by immortal beauty.
The weeping widow is no longer crushed to the dust by the heavy hand of poverty.
The orphan child is no longer forsaken and homeless.
Pinching poverty and wasting disease are unknown.
The distressing complaint will never accost the ear, "I am sick!"
The sting of death and the terrors of the grave will never present themselves there.
There are no graves in the land of eternal life.
There is no death of friends there.
Martha and Mary go to no beloved brother's grave to weep.
Yonder, there is . . .
no deceitful heart,
no secret foe,
no fascinating world,
no artful Satan!
The former things have passed away, and the era of immortality has arrived.
God shall give them everything calculated to secure, continue, and increase their happiness. "He will lead them to springs of living water," which shall never be exhausted. A spring is termed living water, because constantly bubbling up, and running on. These "springs of living water" indicate endless sources of happiness, which Christ will supply to His redeemed people from His own infinite plenitude.
These eternal fountains will make an infinite variety for the enjoyments of the blessed. There will be no sameness, and therefore no weariness to the spirit. Every moment will open a new source of pleasure. And as God is infinite, so His attributes are infinite, and throughout infinity more and more of those attributes will be unveiled — and the discovery of each will be a new fountain of enjoyment. These sources will be ever-opening through all eternity — and yet, through all eternity, there will still remain, in the absolute perfections of the Godhead, an infinity of them still to be opened!
Such bliss is enough to make the Christian say, "I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far!" Philippians 1:23
~ ~ ~ ~
The wiles of the devil!
(William Nicholson, "The Christian Warfare!" 1862)
"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil!" Ephesians 6:11
"That Satan will not outsmart us — for we are familiar with his evil schemes!" 2 Corinthians 2:11
How formidable are these foes, Satan and his allies! What would become of the saint, if unsupported by Divine grace and Omnipotence!
Satan is called . . .
Abaddon and Apollyon — the destroyer,
the angel of the bottomless pit,
the god of this world,
the accuser of the brethren,
a deceiver who leads the whole world astray,
a liar, and the father of lies,
a murderer from the beginning,
Beelzebub, Belial and Lucifer,
a great leviathan,
an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns,
the ancient serpent,
a cruel tormentor,
a poisonous adder,
a ravaging wolf,
a roaring lion, seeking those who he may devour!
We are told of the "wiles of the Devil" — who hides his evil designs, and falls upon us when we least expect it.
He is invisible — his influence is like the silent pestilence which walks in darkness.
He studies our propensities, and adapts his temptations to them.
Though invisible, he is near us. The safety of a nation menaced by an enemy often depends on his being kept at a distance. But this enemy is within our borders, and there is no other resource left, but to struggle for our life!
He works himself, and he employs heinous instruments. His knowledge of evil and temptations is derived from the experience of 6,000 years. And what is worse, he has a strong party within us, which he incessantly labors to excite to rebellion!
How fearful is the warfare! But it is consolatory to know that these demonic powers, as great as they confessedly are — are limited, controlled, overruled by Jehovah, who will "bruise Satan under our feet shortly!"
~ ~ ~ ~
The application may be made to all departments of life
(J.R. Miller, "Evening Thoughts" 1907)
"What are you doing more than others?" Matthew 5:47
It is not enough for us to be as good as others. We are not to take any other person as our model, or anyone's life as our standard. The only model life is Jesus Christ's! He came to show us how to live.
It is not enough either for Christian people to live just as well as unbelievers live. Anybody may be kind to those they like — but the Christian must be kind to people he does not like! What are you doing more than others — when you are only kind to those who are kind to you?
The application may be made to all departments of life.
The Christian carpenter should do better carpentering than the man who is not a Christian.
The Christian plumber should do more careful and conscientious plumbing than the plumber who does not love Christ.
The Christian businessman should do business more honestly than the businessman who does not know Christ.
The Christian home should be sweeter, kindlier, happier in every way — than the home where Christ is not a guest.
Always the question comes to us, "What are you doing more than others?"
~ ~ ~ ~
Can God, who is infinitely pure, love such a being?
(William Nicholson, "Gratitude for Spiritual Deliverance!" 1862)
All men by nature, are depraved. The heart is corrupt — an impure fountain, from which emanate the most filthy and deadly streams of action! "The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked!" Jeremiah 17:9.
The conscience is defiled,
the understanding is darkened,
the judgment is perverted,
the whole soul is alienated from God, and opposed to His righteous will.
Can God, who is infinitely pure, love such a being? No!
Sinful man is the subject of God's righteous displeasure. God is said to be "angry with the wicked every day." Psalm 7:11. "The wicked and the one who loves violence, His soul hates!" Psalm 11:5.
It is awful to live in the presence of the holy, omnipotent God who is constantly incensed against us!
Wrath, when describing the Divine Being, does not signify anything like an evil passion, as it commonly does among men. Such terms are employed to express His righteous displeasure against sin. He hates it with a perfect hatred! It is an abominable thing in His sight. The wrath of God, the anger of God, the fury of God, etc., cannot be otherwise expressed in human language, than by an appeal to our own passions, thus condescending to our weakness and ignorance.
God hates sin! For a proof of it, look to Gethsemane — look to Calvary! Behold God angry with Christ, the Substitute of man! Behold that . . .
unparalleled agony of His soul,
winepress of wrath, how it crushes Him,
that baptism of blood, how overwhelming,
those arrows of divine wrath, how piercing,
that flaming sword of justice, how it smites Him,
that curse of wrath, how it puts Him to an accursed death! "Awake, O sword, against My shepherd, against the Man who is close to Me! Strike the Shepherd!" Zechariah 13:7
"God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God!" 2 Corinthians 5:21
~ ~ ~ ~
A man's head on a beast's shoulders!
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in Heaven!" Matthew 7:21
An orthodox creed with an unholy heart and ungodly life — is like a man's head on a beast's shoulders!
Knowledge may make you a scholar — but not a saint.
Knowledge may make you orthodox — but not gracious.
He who increases in knowledge, and does not get grace with his knowledge — increases sorrow to himself, yes, eternal sorrow! It would be an ease to gospel sinners in Hell, if they could erase the remembrance of the gospel out of their memories!
"Such men will be punished most severely!" Luke 20:47
~ ~ ~ ~
This cross is heavy to bear
Jesus said, "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me."
This cross is heavy to bear when worldliness, or pride, or selfishness work in the heart. But when the heart is filled with love to the Savior, then the greatest cross is light, and even pleasant to endure.
"For the love of Christ compels us!" 2 Corinthians 5:14
~ ~ ~ ~
Lock your hand in His!
(Octavius Winslow, 1866)
"Our Father in Heaven." Matthew 6:10
"Father!" It is the language of the believing heart.
Oh, it is a marvelous fact, a stupendous truth — that God should be our Father! Higher than this, the soul cannot rise. Love then reaches its deepest yearnings. Only realize this fact, that God is your Father, and it explains . . .
every chapter of your history,
every event of your life,
every sentiment, feeling,
and desire of your soul.
All that is omnipotent in strength,
all that is profound in wisdom,
all that is tender in sympathy,
all that is rich in infinite plenitude —
is bound up in the endearing epithet, "Father!"
That Father is yours!
You were His child from eternity!
His love to you,
His choice of you,
His purpose to adopt you,
His plan to redeem, sanctify,
and bring you to glory —
are eternal acts of His sovereign grace!
Believe that all that your Father does is for your best; that your highest interests are all in His hands, and in His hands are all secure.
Lock your hand in His, as your little child links its hand with yours — willing to be led, unquestioning, confiding, meekly, just where your Father leads.
~ ~ ~ ~
Chance, accident, or luck!
"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows!" Matthew 10:29-31
"God who feeds the sparrows, will not starve His saints! God controls all the concerns of His people, even of those that are most minute, and least regarded. This is an encouragement to live in a continual dependence upon God's providential care! If God numbers our hairs, much more does He number our heads. He takes care of our lives, our needs, our concerns, and our souls. God's universal providence extends itself to all creatures, and to all their actions — even the smallest and most minute!" (Matthew Henry)
"Nothing can happen in this world without God's permission. There is no such thing in reality, as chance, accident, or luck!" (J.C. Ryle)
Scripture everywhere teaches that even the minutest details of life are of divine ordering! (Louis Berkhof)
~ ~ ~ ~
It must be consigned to the dust from whence it came!
(William Nicholson, 1862)
"It is appointed for men to die once — and after this comes judgment!" Hebrews 9:27
No event is so important as death — but how little is it regarded!
Death is sure to come. Nothing can prevent it. Every expedient has been tried, but there can be no discharge in this war.
The time of Death's approach is uncertain. It may come when . . .
you are young and in health, and calculating on long life,
you are deeply immersed in worldly cares and business,
your mind is not the least directed towards it,
in the hour of festive enjoyment, and
at a time when you would not be at all prepared for it — unpardoned, unrenewed, and without love to God.
At death, the body returns to its original dust. "By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." Genesis 3:19. "Then shall the body return to dust," etc. Ecclesiastes 12:7
Death, then, as the effect of sin, is the cessation of human existence. It is ended . . .
by sudden violence or accident,
by the human machine being worn out by affliction,
or by protracted old age.
The lungs heave no more;
the pulse ceases to beat;
the blood is congealed in the veins;
the eyes are dimmed;
the tongue is silent, and
the hand forgets its dexterity.
Such is the end of the human structure, so fearfully and wonderfully made. And however stately, well-formed, athletic, strong, and beautiful before — it must be consigned to the dust from whence it came! Its tendency to corruption causes even its once adorers to exclaim, "Bury my dead out of my sight!" It . . .
is deposited in the silent tomb,
becomes worm-food, and
is hidden from mortal sight.
Think then, of the momentous results of death. It . . .
mars the beauty and strength of the body,
casts it into the abhorrent grave,
tarnishes all its glory, and
terminates all its happiness!
Death is the last of time, and the commencement of eternity! It is a complete change . . .
and of feeling.
After death, the soul appears before God. "It is appointed for men to die once — and after this comes judgment!"
Death then, is the crisis of man's fate — the seal of his destiny.
It encounters either a smiling Father — or a frowning judge!
It conducts to the crown of life — or the regions of death!
It conducts to eternal glory — or to everlasting perdition!
"Therefore be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect!"
~ ~ ~ ~
Our afflictions are light!
Our afflictions are light, when compared with what we really deserve.
They are light, when compared with the sufferings of the Lord Jesus.
But perhaps their real lightness is best seen, by comparing them with the weight of glory which is awaiting us!
"For our light and momentary afflictions 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 4:17-18
~ ~ ~ ~
One of God's medicines!
"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11
Affliction is one of God's medicines!
By it, He often teaches lessons which would be learned in no other way.
By it, He often draws souls away from sin and the world, which would otherwise have perished everlastingly.
Health is a great blessing — but sanctified disease is a greater blessing!
Prosperity and worldly comfort are what all people naturally desire — but losses and crosses are far better for us — if they lead us to Christ.
Let us beware of murmuring in the time of trouble.
Let us settle it firmly in our minds, that there is a meaning, a 'needs be', and a message from God — in every sorrow that befalls us.
There are no lessons so useful, as those learned in the school of affliction.
There is no commentary that opens up the Bible so much, as sickness and sorrow.
Afflictions are intended by God . . .
to make us think,
to wean us from the world,
to send us to the Scriptures,
to send us to our knees!
The resurrection morning will prove, that many of the losses of God's people were in reality, eternal gains. Thousands at the last day, will testify with David, "It is good for me that I have been afflicted!" Psalm 119:71
~ ~ ~ ~
Both are buried in the same dust — both eaten by the same maggots!
(Thomas Brooks, "Apples of Gold" 1660)
"What is your life? You are a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes!" James 4:14
Youth is as fickle as old age. Every day's experience tells us, that the young man's life is as much a vapor as the old man's is. The young man will find many graves of his length in the graveyard. As green wood and old logs meet in one fire — so young sinners and old sinners meet in one Hell and burn together!
When the young man is in his spring and prime, then he is cut off and dies: "One person dies in prosperity, completely comfortable and secure, the picture of good health, vigorous and fit. Another person dies in bitter poverty, never having tasted the good life. But both are buried in the same dust — both eaten by the same maggots!" Job 21:23-26.
"All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass!" Isaiah 40:6-7
~ ~ ~ ~
One Day at a Time!
(Annie Johnson Flint)
"As your days — so shall your strength be!" Deuteronomy 33:25
One day at a time, with its failures and fears,
With its hurts and mistakes, with its weakness and tears,
With its portion of pain, and its burden of care;
One day at a time, we must meet and must bear.
One day at a time, to be patient and strong,
To be calm under trial, and sweet under wrong;
Then its toiling shall pass, and its sorrow shall cease;
It shall darken and die, and the night shall bring peace.
One day at a time — but the day is so long,
And the heart is not brave, and the soul is not strong,
O piteous Christ, be near all the way;
Give courage and patience, and strength for the day.
Swift comes His answer, so clear and so sweet;
"Yes, I'll be with you, your troubles to meet;
I will not forget you, nor fail you, nor grieve;
I will not forsake you; I never will leave."
Not yesterday's load, we are called on to bear,
Nor the morrow's uncertain and shadowy care;
Why should we look forward, or back with dismay?
Our needs, as our mercies, are but for the day.
One day at a time, and the day is His day;
He has numbered its hours, though they haste or delay.
His grace is sufficient, we walk not alone;
As the day, so the strength that He gives His own.
~ ~ ~ ~
From those deep wounds!
"And a man shall be as a hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." Isaiah 32:2
Here, sinner, is your hiding place! Under the shadow of Him who once groaned and bled on Calvary, you can find eternal repose!
While passing through this weary land, through this wilderness world — lean on Him, who will guide you safely to glory. In Him, you will experience that joy which the world cannot impart; and that peace of God, which passes all understanding.
By that blessed side which was once pierced with the soldier's spear — you will enjoy the favors and smiles of a reconciled God. From those deep wounds that were inflicted on the Savior's immortal form — fountains of joy, as inexhaustible as the ocean of divine perfection itself, will flow in the richest streams of grace, to refresh, invigorate and animate your soul.
O! there is something about Calvary so mysterious in its nature — and so glorious in its results. Time can never disclose, nor vast eternity unravel, those things connected with that affecting scene, displayed when the Son of God bowed His head and exclaimed, "It is finished!"
Go to Calvary, that life-giving mount, where the unbounded love of God for sinners once glowed in the bosom of His Son with more than human splendor; where it beamed forth in all the effulgence of the divinity — when the holy Jesus hung a suffering, bleeding, victim on the ignominious cross.
~ ~ ~ ~
The true secret of spiritual prosperity!
(J.C. Ryle, "Thoughts For Young Men")
In Christ alone, there is a full supply of all that we require for the needs of our souls. Of ourselves we are all poor, empty creatures . . .
empty of righteousness and peace,
empty of strength and comfort,
empty of courage and patience,
empty of power to persevere in the way of holiness,
or make progress in this evil world.
It is in Christ alone, that all these things are to be found — grace, peace, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. It is just in proportion as we live upon Him, that we are strong Christians.
It is only when self is nothing and Christ is all our confidence — that are we armed for the battle of life, and shall overcome. Only then are we prepared for the journey of life, and shall move forward.
To live on Christ,
to draw all from Christ,
to do all in the strength of Christ,
to be ever looking to Christ —
this is the true secret of spiritual prosperity!
"I can do everything," says Paul, "through Him who gives me strength!" Philippians 4:13
~ ~ ~ ~
Too choice a flower to grow in nature's garden!
"Godly sorrow works repentance." 2 Corinthians 7:10
Genuine, spiritual mourning for sin is the work of the Spirit of God. Repentance is too choice a flower to grow in nature's garden. Pearls grow naturally in oysters — but penitence never shows itself in sinners, unless divine grace works it in them. If you have one particle of real hatred for sin — then God must have given it you, for human nature's thorns never produced a single fig! "That which is born of the flesh is flesh!"
True repentance has a distinct reference to the Savior. When we repent of sin, we must have one eye upon sin, and another upon the cross. It will be better still, if we fix both our eyes upon Christ, and see our transgressions only in the light of His love.
True sorrow for sin is eminently practical. No man may say he hates sin, if he lives in it. Repentance makes us see the evil of sin, not merely as a theory, but experimentally — just as a burnt child dreads the fire! We shall be as much afraid of sin, as a man who has lately been stopped and robbed is afraid of the thief upon the highway. And we shall shun sin, shun it in everything — not in great things only, but in little things, as men shun little vipers as well as great ones.
True mourning for sin will make us very jealous over our tongue, lest we should say a wrong word. We shall also be very watchful over our daily actions, lest in anything we offend.
Each night we shall close the day with painful confessions of shortcomings — and each morning awaken with anxious prayers, that this day God would hold us up, that we may not sin against Him.
Sincere repentance is continual. Believers repent until their dying day. This sorrow for sin is not intermittent. Every other sorrow yields to time — but this dear sorrow grows with our growth. It is so sweet a bitter, that we thank God we are permitted to enjoy it until we enter our eternal rest!
~ ~ ~ ~
(John Mason's Spiritual Sayings)
"Learn from Me — for I am gentle and humble in heart." Matthew 11:29
None so high and glorious as Christ; yet none so gentle and humble.
To be low is the safest and loveliest posture for sinful creatures.
It is the creature's honor to abase himself before the most high God.
If men did but know themselves more, they would be more humble.
Those who are humble, are content and thankful.
A humble spirit is a charitable and quiet spirit.
When Paul was a Pharisee, he thought he was blameless.
When he was a Christian, he thought he was the chief of sinners.
Neither all the devils in Hell nor all the temptations of the world can hurt that man who keeps himself humble and depending on Christ.
"All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." 1 Peter 5:5