Grace Gems for AUGUST 2014

Grace Gems for AUGUST 2014

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They are the willing, abject slaves of what is called amusement!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883)

"In gambling there is a secret enchantment. A man will play a little, and only venture a small sum — but soon he is enticed in, and more and more entangled. Just so, men think it is no great matter to sin a little — and yet that little leads on to more!"

The illustration is most forcible. Many people have put down a dollar on the gambling-table when passing through the room — and from that moment their ruin has been sealed. They will be seen from day to day staking their hundreds — until the last fatal roll of the dice leaves them penniless! They are the willing, abject slaves of what is called amusement!

Thus does sin begin with littles, and glides into more serious faults — until the sinner is spellbound, and finds himself enthralled by folly, which he has no ability to leave.

Be it ours to give no place to the devil. Let him not have a spot whereon to set up his enchantment, and work his diabolical arts.

If we never venture a farthing upon Satan's table — we shall never be made beggars by his subtle devices!

If he is not allowed to spin a spider's web about us — he will never be able to hold us with the cords of iniquity!

If we never wade into sin — we shall never drown in it!

Lord, keep us from the very appearance of evil!

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If we spend our time on the newspaper, or sit hour after hour reading trashy novels!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883)

"Take a mirror and turn it toward Heaven — and there you shall see the reflection of Heaven, the clouds and things above. Turn it downward toward the earth, you shall see the reflection of the earth, trees, meadows, men. Just so does the soul receive a reflection from the things to which it is set. If the heart is set toward Heaven — that puts you into a heavenly frame. If you set your heart on earthly objects — you are a man of the earth!"

Are our thoughts and our affections full of worldliness? Let us make good use of the above figure, and turn the mirror the other way. Our mind will readily enough reflect divine things, if we turn it in that direction. Let us see if it is not so. Prayerfully read your Bible, or some lively devotional book — and see if the heart is not immediately filled with holy and heavenly reflections.

At any rate, if we spend our time on the newspaper, or sit hour after hour reading trashy novelswe have no reason to wonder that thought and heart go after vanity! The turning of the mind upward is half the battle. We cannot expect it to reflect that toward which it does not turn.

Those who mind earthly things — are earthly.
Those who set their affections upon things above — are heavenly.

Paul shows how practically useful it is to turn the mind Godward, when he says that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, "looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ."

We may well cry concerning this matter, "Turn us, O Lord, and we shall be turned!" If we cannot see divine truth to our enjoyment — let us nevertheless look that way; for that eye is blessed which looks in the direction of the light.

He who would behold the sun at its rising — must look to the east.
Just so, he who would see God as his delight — must look Godward.

If the mirror of the soul is resolutely set toward the Lord, we shall with open face behold, as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord, and be changed into the same image from glory to glory!

O, my blessed Master, help me I beseech you, to keep the mirror of my mind in the right position — that evermore I may see You! True, it will be but as in a dark mirror, but even that will be a marvelous preparation for beholding You face to face in glory!

"Those who live according to the sinful nature — have their minds set on what that nature desires;
 but those who live in accordance with the Spirit — have their minds set on what the Spirit desires."
Romans 8:5

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things!" Colossians 3:1-2

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If they cannot have a fresh dish from Satan's kitchen!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883)

"If ravens are driven away from carrion, they love to abide within scent of it.
 If you would be free from sin — then avoid the temptations which lead to it!"

This first sentence is a grim parable, but all too true. We have seen those who dared not enter the devil's house — linger long around his doors! The old woman in the fable could find no wine in the jar — yet loved to smell at it. It is a clear proof of the love of human nature to evil that, when restrained from actual sin — men will rehearse their former exploits, and dote on the lusts which they indulged years ago! If they cannot have a fresh dish from Satan's kitchen, they will have his crumbs, sooner than go without!
Our author gives sage advice at the outset, when he says: To avoid sin — avoid temptation.
He who would not be wounded, should keep out of battle.

He who would not be tossed about, should not go to sea.

He who would not be burned, should keep away from the fire.

If men will get into the train which runs to the terminus of iniquity — they must expect to be carried to their journey's end.

If I stand in the way of sinners, I shall soon run with them.

Oh to possess a godly fear, which shall lead me rather to go ten miles out of the way, than pass by the place of temptation!

It is well to keep out of the smell of sin, for the very odor of it is baneful.

If we seek a temptation — we shall soon find it. And within it, like a kernel in a nut, we shall meet with sin!

Oh that we had the wit to see this, and were more firmly resolved not to stand in the broad road that leads to destruction, or even go near it — lest we should become regular travelers upon it! "Keep to a path far from the adulteress, do not go near the door of her house!" Proverbs 5:8

Lord, give me prudence. As I would not devour the carrion of sin, give me grace that the most distant scent of it shall at once sicken me, and cause me to keep my steps as far from it as possible!

"Blessed is the man who does not . . .
  walk in the counsel of the wicked,
  or stand in the way of sinners,
  or sit in the seat of mockers." Psalm 1:1

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Above all, wait at the cross-foot!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883)

"Wisdom's dole is given at wisdom's gates!"

Those who wish for it — must go there for it.

Resort to the 'Beautiful Gate' of the temple — if you would obtain that healing which is given by the gospel.

Search the Scriptures — if you would find eternal life.

Hasten humbly to the gate of prayer — if you would obtain God's covenant blessings.

Above all, wait at the cross-foot
— for the purchased blessings of Jesus' love.

The dole is free and large, but God has His place appointed for its distribution — be often there.

Lord, I would not be absent when Your alms are being distributed, for I am as poor as poverty itself! See, I am even now waiting at the portal of Your grace. Give me, I beseech you, my daily bread from Heaven, and send me on my way rejoicing.

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Don't bite the stick!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883)

"As children will thank the tailor, and think they owe their new clothes to him rather than to their parent's bounty — so we often look to the instrument of blessing, and thank that instead of God."

Second causes must never be made to stand before the First Cause. Friends and helpers are all very well as servants of our Father — but our Father must have all our praise.

There is a similar evil in the matter of trials and afflictions. We are apt to be angry with the instrument of our affliction — instead of seeing the hand of God over all, and meekly bowing before it.

It was a great help to David in bearing with the railing Shimei — when he saw that God had appointed this provocation as a chastisement. He would not allow his hasty captains to take the scoffer's head, but meekly said, "Let him alone, and let him curse, for the Lord has bidden him."

When a dog is struck — he will bite the stick! If he were wise, he would observe that the stick only moves as the hand directs it. Just so, when we discern God in our tribulations, we are helped to be quiet and endure with patience.

Let us not act like silly children, but trace matters to their fountain-head, and act accordingly. May the Spirit of wisdom make us understand.

"He is the LORD; let Him do what is good in His eyes." 1 Samuel 3:18

"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

"Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" Job 2:10

"When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other." Ecclesiastes 7:14

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Even though he had a shipload of such rubbish!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883)

The more abundance of truly valuable things a man has — the more he has of true riches.

A child counts himself rich when he has a great many marbles, and toys, and rocks — for these suit his childish age and imagination.

Just so, a worldly man counts himself rich when he has a great store of gold and silver, or lands and houses.

But a child of God counts himself rich when he has . . .
  God for his Portion,
  Christ his his Redeemer, and
  the Spirit for his Guide, Sanctifier, and Comforter.
This is as much above a carnal man's estate in the world, as a carnal man's estate is above a child's toys and trifles — yes, infinitely more!

It is above all things desirable, that we adopt a correct scale to estimate things. When we make our personal audit, we shall fall into grievous error if the principles of our reckoning are not thoroughly accurate. If we reckon buttons as silver, and brass as gold — we shall dream that we are rich, when we are in poverty!

In taking stock of our own condition, let us be sure only to reckon that for riches, which is really riches to us. Wealth to the worldling is not wealth to the Christian. His currency is different, his valuables are of another sort.

Am I today poorer in money than I was ten years ago. And at the same time, am I more humble, more patient, more earnest, more loving? Then set me down as a rich man!

Have my worldly goods largely increased during the last few years? And at the same time, am I also more proud, more carnal-minded, more lukewarm, more petulant? Then I must write myself down as a poorer man, whatever others may think of my estate.

A Christian's riches are within him!
External belongings are by no means a sure gain to a man.

A horse is none the better off for all its gilded trappings. Just so, a man is in truth, none the richer for his sumptuous surroundings.

Paul was richer than King Croesus, when he was able to say, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want!" Philippians 4:11-12

Such contentment surpasses riches! Solomon, after summing up all his possessions and delights, was compelled to add, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!"
If a man should labor to be rich after the fashion of the poor African natives, and should accumulate a large store of shells and beads — yet when he came home to England he would be a beggar, even though he had a shipload of such rubbish!

Just so, he who gives his heart and soul to the accumulation of gold coins — is a beggar when he comes into the spiritual realm, where such coins are reckoned as mere forms of earth, non-current in Heaven, and of less value than the least of spiritual blessings!

O, my Lord, let me not merely talk thus, and pretend to despise earthly treasure — when all the while I am hunting after it! Grant me grace to live above these perishable things, never setting my heart upon them; nor caring whether I have them, or have them not. But give me grace to exercise all my energy in pleasing You, and in gaining those things which You hold in esteem. Give me, I beseech You, the riches of Your grace — that I may at last attain to the riches of Your glory!

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Will we be numbered with cat-worshipers and dog-adorers?

(Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883)

"Those who have no children, take pleasure in little dogs and cats."

People must have an object of affection, and if they have not something noble, they will accept something less. Just so, those who disdain to live for God, will live for their own bellies.

If we do not live in all seriousness for a noble object — the probability is that we shall trifle our lives away in doing nothing! Are we prepared for this? Will we be numbered with cat-worshipers and dog-adorers?

My God, save me from petty and paltry objects! Deliver me from worthless amusements and hobbies! May the objects of my life's pursuit be worthy of an immortal spirit, worthy of an heir of Heaven!

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ — set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things!" Colossians 3:1-2

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A hazardous game!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883)

"If we play around the viper's hole — it no wonder that we are bitten!"

An old proverb advises us not to play with sharp-edged tools, lest we cut our fingers.

It is a sin to trifle with sin! If we must play, we had better find harmless toys! That evil which caused Christ a bloody death, is no fit theme for any man's sport.

Playing with wickedness is a hazardous game! Sooner or later, we will pluck the lion of sin by the beard, and we shall be torn in pieces!

This is true of indulgence in strong drink: "Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake, and poisons like a viper!"

This is equally true of all other forms of evil, especially of the lusts of the flesh. Lewd words, soon lead to foul deeds. Yet such is the folly of men, that they run dreadful risks in sheer wantonness, as though vipers and cobras were fine playmates, and devils were merry-makers!

"Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Do not let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin." Psalm 19:13

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Square me! Prune me!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883)

"There is more hewing, and hacking, and squaring used on a stone which is to be set in the wall of a stately palace — than that which is placed in a rock wall. Just so, the vine is carefully pruned — when the bramble is untouched."

This should reconcile believers to their chastisements. It is a well-worn figure; but it is well put.

Brambles certainly have a fine time of it, and grow after their own pleasure. We have seen their long shoots reaching far and wide, and no knife has threatened them as they luxuriated upon the wastelands.

The poor vine is cut down so closely, that little remains of it but bare stems. Yet, when clearing-time comes, and the brambles are heaped together for burning — who would not rather be the vine?

Ah, Lord! Let me never sigh for ease, but always seek for usefulness.
Square me
until I am fit for a place in Your temple!
Prune me
until I yield my utmost fruit!

"Every branch that does bear fruit, He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful!" John 15:2

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Lord, I thank you for shaking me!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883)

"When the tree is soundly shaken, the rotten apples fall to the ground. Just so, in great trials, unsound professors will fall away."

First, trials and afflictions test me, that I may see how far my supposed graces are real and vital. Those which are unsound will soon be lost; only the living and growing graces will remain.

Secondly, trials and afflictions relieve me, for it is a hurtful thing to the tree and to its living fruit to be cumbered with rottenness, in which may breed noxious worms, which when they multiply may come to be devourers of the tree's life!

We are enriched when we lose fabricated virtues. Stripping of filthy rags, is an advance toward cleanliness — and what are counterfeit graces but mere rags, worthy to be torn off and cast into the fire?

In the end, such a result of affliction also beautifies me. For as rotten apples disfigure the tree, so would the mere pretense of virtue mar my character in the sight of God and holy men. It is always better to be openly without a virtue, than to bear the form of it without in reality possessing it.
A sham — is a shame!
An unreal virtue — is an undoubted vice!

Lord, I thank you for shaking me, since I now perceive that all this good and much more is designed by the process; and is, I trust, in some measure accomplished thereby. Oh that your Holy Spirit may bless my adversities to this end!

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The master-strokes of the Divine Artist!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883)

"We would have speedy riddance of trouble — but God does not think it fit to grant our request. Showers that come by drops and soak into the earth, are better than those which come in a tempest and hurricane!"

The gradualness and long continuance of a trial, which are its sharpness and bitterness — are also, to a large extent, the causes of its usefulness. If the sharp affliction came and departed with a rush — we would be rather swept away by it, than softened and saturated by its influence. To push a crucible among the glowing coals and snatch it out again, would answer no purpose in refining — the metal must tarry in the furnace until the fire has done its work.

Perhaps the reader has long lived in the perpetual grip of affliction, and now feels himself to be quite weary of the endless torture. Let him not faint under the lengthened process — the highest degree of benefit is accruing to him, from the continuance of his adversity!

In the later part of a trial, every stroke brings forth a tenfold result, and operates with a greatly increased efficacy. It would be a pity for the Lord to stay His hand, when it is working with such special and marked result. All the preceding affliction has only worked the heart into a fit condition to receive the master-strokes of the Divine Artist! The foundational colors have hitherto been laid on — but the second and finishing touch is now being given! Therefore, do not ask God's hand to cease, but rather pray that its work may be carried on with power, and the Lord's glory be seen in it all.

It will not cease raining yet — and why should it, so long as the soil is being softened, saturated, and fertilized by the falling drops? Let patience have her perfect work — and how can that be, unless the tribulation runs its full time?

Lord, make me ready to tarry for the vision, however long it may be delayed. Your way of trying me is the best. I would not hurry Your hand, if I could!

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He and Bacchus were rolling in the gutter together!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883)

"In a fit of anger, we bid a naughty servant begone — but he lingers in the house, and before the next morning all is cool and quiet, and he is again in our favor. Just so, many a time an argument happens between a man and his lusts — but after a short time, he again hugs his darling lusts."

Ungodly men have their quarrels with their favorite sins on various accounts. But these are like children's disputes with one another — soon over, because they come from passion, and not from principle.

An unholy person will fall out with sin, because it has injured his health or his credit, or has brought him into difficulties with his neighbors. But when these temporary results are ended, he falls in love again with the same iniquity! Thus we have seen the drunkard loathing his excess in the morning, when his eyes were red, and his head was aching; but before the sun went down, the quarrel was ended, and he and Bacchus were rolling in the gutter together!
(N.B. Bacchus is the Roman god of wine and intoxication.)

Our enmity to sin should be based upon sound knowledge and solid reason, and be wrought in us by the Spirit of God — and then it will lead us to join in solemn league with the Lord, who has war with Amalek throughout all generations. We must have no peace with sin — nay, not with the least sin!

Of old, converted Israelites cast their idols to the moles and to the bats — away from their sight with the moles, away from the light with the bats. Just so, our detestation must lead us to put sin among the dead and the forgotten! So far from ever entering into amity with it, we must regard it as a dead and corrupted thing, forever abandoned to silence and the worm! As Heaven and Hell will never unite — so must it be plain that a saint and sin will never come together on any terms whatever.

Lord, I beseech You to keep me ever in desperate earnest in my war with sin. Forbid that I should trifle in this conflict, or grow cold in it. Let me be bound to never-ending warfare with my own sin — and never may I be pacified until Christ has utterly crushed the foul foe! Like your servant David, I would hate every false way!

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The fear of Hell whips him off some favorite vice!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883)

"A wolf may be scared from his prey — yet he keeps his ravenous nature."

He has not lost his taste for lambs — though he was obliged to drop the one which he had seized.

Just so, a sinner may be forced to forego his beloved lust — and yet remain as truly a sinner as before. He may give up his drinking, for fear of losing his job, or dying of disease — but he would be at his liquor again if he dared. The fear of Hell whips him off some favorite vice — and yet his heart pines for it, and in imagination he nourishes it.

In the sight of God, each man is as his heart is!
The muzzled wolf is still a wolf,
the silenced swearer is still profane in heart,
the lewd thinker is still immoral.

Something is done when a wolf is scared, or a transgressor driven out of his evil ways — yet nothing is done which will effectually change the wolf, or renew the ungodly heart. A frightened sinner — is a sinner still. Like the frightened dog, he will return to his vomit! And like the sow that was washed, he will wallow in the mire again as soon as opportunity offers!

"You must be born again!" This is the only effectual cure for sin! While the nature is unchanged — it is but the outside of the cup and platter which is washed.

"Truth in the inward parts" is what God desires, and until that is given, we remain under divine wrath.

Any thief will turn honest under the gallows — and yet if he were set free, he would rob the first house he came to! A scare is not a conversion. A sinner may be frightened into hypocrisy — but he must be wooed by God to repentance and faith. Divine love tames, and divine grace transforms. May the God of all grace deal thus with each of us!

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Let my life be filled, packed and crammed!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883)

"When men have much to say in a letter, and perceive that they have little paper left, they write closely."

Looking at the shortness of life, and the much that has to be written upon life's tablets — it befits us also to do much in a short space, and so to write closely.

"No day without a line!" is a good motto for a Christian.

A thoroughly useful life is very short, for it is but a span — but how much may be crowded into it for God, our souls, the Church, our families, and our fellows!

We cannot afford wide blanks of idleness. We should not only live by the day, but by the 20 minutes, as Wesley did. He divided each hour into three parts.

So scanty is our life's space, that we must condense and leave out superfluous matter — giving room only to that which is weighty and of the first importance.

Lord, whether I live long or not, I leave to your discretion. But help me to live while I live, that I may live profitably. You can give life more abundantly. Let me receive it, and let my life be filled, packed and crammed, with holy thoughts and words and deeds to Your glory!

"But this I say, brethren, the time is short!" 1 Corinthians 7:29

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My feeble hand lies in His; His omnipotent hand is clasped round mine!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Secret Place" 1907)

"Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of Heaven!" Matthew 18:3

One writes of Robert Louis Stevenson that, "it was part of his genius that he never seemed to grow old like the rest of us — but was a child, a boy, a young man, and an old man all at once."

Just so, Jesus bids me to keep the young lamb's tender heart amid the full-grown flocks.

I look into the face of the child. There are no hard and haughty lines of pride, there is no blatant self-importance in the features. Humility is written there.

Can I get back my vanished humility? I can. God the Spirit creates it when, in my conversion, He shows my sinfulness, and teaches me to abhor my vile self. And He fosters meekness more and more, as He confirms in me the conviction that not for a moment dare I dispense with my Savior and Keeper and Friend.

I survey the mind of the child. It is teachable. It is well aware of its ignorance — and it hungers and thirsts for knowledge of every description. And is there a mind anywhere, that God has touched, which does not feel itself in the presence of . . .
  problems still to be disentangled,
  mysteries waiting to be unfolded,
  great tracts of truth of which it knows little?
I have parted with the delusion of my own wisdom. I sit as a child at the feet of my great Prophet, Christ.

I peer into the imagination of the child. It lives in a realm of marvels. But as I grow older, I pass out of the magical country. But when I experience the miracles of saving grace — they are more extraordinary than the marvels I have left behind in childhood. My sense of wonder and astonishment are reborn!

I remember the affections of the child. They are the shrine of love — unbounded and enthusiastic and outspoken love. But by and by, I am less frank and more reticent. Convention, if not cynicism, has frozen the love-look in the eyes, and the love-speech on the tongue. Is there anything that will break the ice? Yes, the sight of God's love and grace in Christ will! That brings me back to the spring. That makes my heart grateful, devoted, and affectionate.

I note the hand of the child. It is not tremulous and worried. It trusts. It lies in the father's hand, certain that the father will lead it aright.

Just so, to the same peace and unruffled faith, the new birth should conduct me. Confiding in my adorable Redeemer and Heavenly Father, I ought to have no gloomy fears, about either my temporal or my eternal well-being. My feeble hand lies in His; His omnipotent hand is clasped round mine!

All is well, because I "know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose!" Romans 8:28

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The grandest benefactors of the church!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883)

"By running and exercising every day, you are the fitter to run in a race. Just so, the oftener you come into God's presence — the greater confidence, and freedom, and enlargement it will bring to your soul."

No doubt by praying we learn to pray; and the more we pray — the oftener we can pray, and the better we can pray. He who prays by fits and starts is never likely to attain to that effectual, fervent prayer which avails much.

Prayer is good,
the habit of prayer is better,
but the spirit of prayer is the best of all.
It is in the spirit of prayer, that we pray without ceasing.
It is astonishing what distances men can run, who have long practiced; and it is equally marvelous for what a length of time they can maintain a high speed after they have once acquired stamina and skill in using their muscles.

Just so, great power in prayer is within our reach, but we must work to obtain it. Let us never imagine that Abraham could have interceded so successfully for Sodom, if he had not been all his lifetime in the practice of communion with God. Jacob's all-night at Peniel was not the first occasion upon which he had met his God. We may even look upon our Lord's most choice and wonderful prayer with His disciples before His Passion, as the flower and fruit of His many nights of devotion, and of His often rising up a great while before day to pray.

A man who becomes a great runner has to put himself in training, and to keep himself in it; and that training consists very much of the exercise of running. Those who have distinguished themselves for speed have not suddenly leaped into eminence, but have long been runners.

Just so, if a man dreams that he can become mighty in prayer just when he pleases, he labors under a great mistake. The prayer of Elijah, which shut up Heaven and afterward opened its floodgates — was one of a long series of mighty prevailings with God. Oh that Christian men would remember this!

Perseverance in prayer is necessary to prevalence in prayer!

Those great intercessors, who are not so often mentioned as they ought to be in connection with confessors and martyrs, were nevertheless the grandest benefactors of the church. But it was only by abiding at the mercy-seat, that they attained to be such channels of mercy to men.

O Jesus, by whom we come to God, seeing You have Yourself trodden the way of prayer, and never turned from it — teach me to remain a suppliant as long as I remain a sinner, and to wrestle in prayer so long as I have to wrestle with the powers of evil. Whatever else I may outgrow, may I never dream that I may relax my supplications.

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

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He writes my sins on the sand!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Secret Place" 1907)

"And I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam." Micah 6:4

I am interested in the inclusion of Miriam's name. Long generations after her death, God commemorates her deeds no less than those of her great brothers. For in His Kingdom there is neither male nor female, and the woman is as essential and as helpful as the man.

How it illustrates His forgiveness, too, that God recalls only that which is good about Miriam! There was a mournful episode in her history, when she spoke against Moses, and when, for a little while, the frightful scourge of the leprosy fell upon her. But this is forgotten, and nothing is recounted except her brave leadership of Israel.

Who is so liberal-hearted as God, and so rich in magnanimity?

He writes my sins on the sand, and the flowing waters of His mercy and grace soon obliterate the indictment.

My services, as small as they are in comparison with what He deserves — He writes on the undecaying page of His Book of Remembrance, and they live abidingly in His thought and heart!

"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is My disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward!" Matthew 10:42

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Providence is no other than God providing!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883)

"To be served at table by a great king, would be counted as great a favor as the meal itself. Just so, to take outward blessings out of God's hand — to see that He remembers us, and sends our provision at every turn — this endears His mercy, and increases our delight in Him."

What, indeed, would most men give if they could say, "The Queen herself has served me, and was most anxious that I should be well supplied!" But each believer has the Lord Himself for his Provider. He loads our table, and fills ours cup. Providence is no other than God providing! He . . .
  measures out our joys,
  weighs our sorrows,
  appoints our labors,
  and selects our trials!

There is no morsel on the saint's plate, which is not of the Lord's serving — unless he has been so foolish as to put forth his hand unto iniquity.

It is delightful to know that our Father's hand provided for us the bread which we have eaten this day; that the Savior's own fingers mingled our cup; and that every blessing has come directly from God's own table!

Surely we are as dear to God as the little ewe lamb in Nathan's parable was to the poor man. For we are told that "the poor man had raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him!" Does not this make our food, and drink, and lodging more than royal? Are we not more than content with such fare?

Yes, Lord, my portion tastes of Your divine love, for Your hand has sweetened it. A sacred perfume is on my clothing and in my chamber — for You have prepared both for me. And this would be true if I wore rags, and lay in a dungeon in sore sickness! What a heritage is mine!

O Lord, You are my all, and my all in all. My all is more than all — because it comes of You, and is dealt out to me by Your own precious self!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The Shepherd searching for the sheep!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Secret Place" 1907)

"This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for My sheep and look after them!" Ezekiel 34:11

The prophet looked into a distant future, and saw the day of Christ from afar.

1. Just so, I look back and see my sovereign Lord in the manger-cradle at Bethlehem. He has emptied Himself — He has laid all His glory down. He has come to my earth, not in the splendors of His divinity, but with an infant's palpable and pathetic claim for nursing and nurture. He has taken my nature in its feeblest and most helpless condition, and made it His own nature.

It is a long way for the Shepherd to travel in search of the sheep — no arithmetic can compute it, no history can describe the downward journey. But the Incarnation is not enough. Not at Bethlehem does the Lover of my soul find me who has departed from His fold.

2. Then I see my sovereign Lord on the hillsides and in the cornfields and on the lake-waters of Galilee.

Never a man speaks like this Man — His are the words of grace and truth, of fire and dew.

Never a man lives like this Man — He does not weary in healing, feeding, comforting, rebuking sin, and compassionating and blessing the sinner.

He is seeking me by the messages of His lips, and by the blamelessness and beneficence of His life. Patiently He is enticing me home. But the ministry of word and miracle is not enough. Not in Capernaum does the Flock-master find me, who am so persevering in my revolt.

3. Then I see my sovereign Lord beneath the olive trees in Gethsemane. He is praying with strong cryings and tears. He has come very near to the transgressors now, and more poignantly than ever He feels the awfulness of their burden. His sweat, falling down to the ground, is, as it were, great drops of blood. The Seeker is learning the sharpness of the crag, and the rush of the torrent. None has cared for me so much; none has borne a sorrow so deep on my behalf. But His intercession and His sympathy are not enough. Not in the agonies of the garden, does He succeed in finding me.

4. But, last, I see my sovereign Lord nailed to the Cross outside the gate on the Hill of Reproach. He dies for sin — but not His own; He is purer than the newborn lamb and the new-fallen snow. He lays my immeasurable guilt on Himself. He redeems me by the one perfect offering of His unblemished body and soul. The Good Shepherd is giving His life for His sheep! And this, at length, is enough — the atonement, the blood-shedding. It is enough for God — and it is enough for me.

On Calvary I behold the depth of my iniquity — and the wonder of His redemption!

On Calvary my God finds me, and conquers me, and saves me!

Never was there a sheep so silly, so fond of roaming, so bent on destroying itself!
Never was there a search so longsome, so untiring, and so fraught with suffering!
Never was there a Shepherd like my adorable Redeemer!

"I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep!"
John 10:11

   ~  ~  ~  ~

He asks for every niche and cranny of my soul!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Secret Place" 1907)

"Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you!" 1 Samuel 12:24

Here is a simple RULE: "Only fear the Lord."
It gathers in my wandering thoughts and desires. It reduces the thousand schemes and interests of my life, to singleness and unity. It writes the briefest and the most hallowing inscription over all my days and nights. It brings everything to one sure touchstone.

If I reverence and worship God,
if I love Christ Who first loved me,
if I cherish and obey His Holy Word —
then nothing more is demanded of me.

Here is a principle which will conduct me infallibly and securely through the difficulties and perplexities which now environ me — to the Celestial City!

Here is a penetrating TEST also: "And serve Him in truth with all your heart."
Does it not probe deep? Does it not flash a searching light into the secret crevices of my heart? My Sovereign will not be satisfied with fair professions, and lovely words, and external obediences. He comes to reign within my heart. He puts my most hidden feelings, my secret purposes and intentions — into His unerring scales! He asks for every niche and cranny of my soul!

Here is an appropriate PLEA also: "Consider what great things He has done for you!"
There is nothing good in my daily life — but has come by His blessing and gift. There is no deliverance from danger, no sudden incoming of joy, no softening and mellowing and sanctifying through trial — which He did not devise and send. "Minutes come quick — but God's mercies are more fleet and free than they!"

And then the unmeasurable marvel of His best treasure — Christ and His wondrous salvation! The Son of God gave Himself for me! Jesus never fails me, and never forsakes me. He will perfect that which concerns me. Does not love so amazing deserve my all? Shall I not be a willing captive to a Lover so gracious, so patient, so persevering, so victorious?

Rule, and test, and plea — together they constitute the blessed life!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

His work is yet on the anvil!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883)

"God many times works contrary to outward likelihoods. When the toll of bricks was doubled for the Hebrew slaves — who would look for deliverance? As the sun going back ten degrees on the sundial was a sign of Hezekiah's recovery — so divine providence is to be read backward. Joseph was made a slave — that he might be made the deliverer of the Hebrew people."

Thus have we found sickness work for our spiritual health — and poverty promote our spiritual wealth. Our worst days, have turned out to be our best days; and our low estate has lifted us on high. When storms come we may welcome them, for they bring blessing on their wings. But when our calm is long and deep, we ought to be on our watch, lest stagnation and disease should come of it!

Our adorable Redeemer bends all things to His gracious purpose! To judge His wise proceedings, is folly and ingratitude. What can we know? Especially what can we know of His design and purpose — while His work is yet on the anvil? Our judgments at their best, are only moderated foolishness.

We are neither prophets nor sons of prophets; and if we were wise, we would no more speculate upon the results of His divine operations — but firmly believe and patiently wait until the providence comes to bloom, and God becomes His own interpreter!

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose!" Romans 8:28 

   ~  ~  ~  ~

It is time that I am done with all butterfly-hunting!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883)

"As children catch at butterflies, the gaudy wings melt away in their fingers, and there remains nothing but an ugly worm!"

Such is the end of all earthly ambitions! They cost us a weary pursuit, and if we gain our desire — it is destroyed in the grasping of it!

Alas, poor rich man, who has wealth — but has lost the power to enjoy it!

Alas, poor famous man, who in hunting for honor, has learned its emptiness!

Alas, poor beautiful woman, who in making a conquest of a false heart, has pierced her own with undying sorrow!

A butterfly-hunt takes a child into danger, wearies him, trips him down, and often ends in his missing the pretty insect. If, however, the boy is able to knock down his victim with his hat — he has crushed the beauty for which he undertook the chase, and his victory defeats him!

The parallel is clear to every eye. For my part, let me sooner be the schoolboy, dashing after the painted insect — than his father worrying and wearying to snatch at something more deceptive still.

It is time that I am done with all butterfly-hunting!
My years are warning me that I may hope soon to be with Christ Himself, and see greater beauties than this whole creation can set before me! I am now bent on pursuing nothing but that which is eternal and infinite. Keep me to this resolve, I beseech you Lord.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The song of the Lamb!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Secret Place" 1907)

"They sang the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb!" Revelation 15:3

Moses and Jesus join in teaching me the song of the redeemed children in God's family.

Moses cannot lead me so far as Jesus can. My Savior and Master gives breadth and length and depth and height to the melody. But the one song is the precursor of the other. Moses points me forward to the slain Lamb — and Christ acknowledges and honors the servant Moses; and I learn the doxologies both of the servant and of the Son.

The song of Moses is the song of emancipation. Broken are the fetters of Egyptian bondage!

And it is the song of guidance. It celebrates the life of marching and encamping, over which the mercy and the wisdom and the omnipotence of the Lord preside.

And it is the song of inheritance. "Happy are you, O Israel!" the brave voice cried, on the borders of the land of brooks of water and wheat and barley and oil olive and honey.

The song of Moses is pregnant and rich for me. I hope I am learning more fully and perfectly, such chords and octaves as these. Do I commemorate the goodness of the God, Who discovered me in the prison of shame and fear and helplessness and despair — and Who brought me forth by the blood-shedding of His Son, and the mightiness of His Holy Spirit? Have I my testimony to bear to Him Who rules over all the wilderness experiences of my history? Can I speak of the treasures of His wealthy land?

The song of the Lamb has new elements of delightfulness and wonder!

It tells of the Crucified and slain Lamb. His cruel wounds are healed — but the scars are left as mementos of His anguish and shame!

It tells of the Royal Lamb in the midst of the throne — the sovereign Governor, Controller and Lord of all.

It tells of the Shepherd Lamb, feeding His flock and leading it to living fountains of waters.

It tells of the Conquering Lamb who shall overcome all the enemies of His redeemed people!

Is this Lamb the theme of the hymns which captivate and satisfy me most?

The Lamb assumed my sin and misery, and reaped the bitter harvest I had sown.

The Lamb governs His great world in my behalf — and directs and curbs the storms within my soul.

The Lamb conducts me by the best paths, and supplies my needs, and shelters me from every peril.

The Lamb is lionlike and courageous, and will finally slay my craftiest and strongest enemies, and will rid me of the besetting sins which torment me most!

I would complete the song of Moses the servant, with the song of Jesus the Lamb!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Robbers of God!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Secret Place" 1907)

"Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me!" Malachi 3:8

Other things I withhold from God, besides the tithes and offerings that are His due.

Do I not rob Him of my thoughts? He is a theme of study and meditation that need never become monotonous or wearisome — He has so many wondrous aspects to His nature and works. His self-existence, His holiness, His saving grace, His sympathy and friendship — here are worlds to roam over, which I cannot exhaust!

But it is only at rare intervals that I turn to Him, and then I am content with the briefest interview. I do not practice His presence in earnest thought.

Do I not rob Him of my reverence? Our age has to a great degree lost the reverence that marked former generations — and I am too entirely the child of our age. I have forgotten the humble habit of walking softly before the Lord. He has ceased to be so sacred, so awe-inspiring, so glorious in majesty — as He used to be to me. I seldom feel myself in a holy shrine where I must tread quietly, and must shut my lips, and must lay myself in the dust before Him. I am merry where I should be serious — and flippant when I should tremble. I do not reverence God as I should.

Do I not rob Him of my love? It matters to Him if I refuse Him . . .
  the love of gratitude,
  the love of trust,
  the love of adoration,
  the love of obedience,
  the love of delight.
Have I considered the wrong I inflict on Him, when I do not love Him as He deserves?

Do I not rob Him of my speech? It is astonishing that what is every man's chief concern — should be no man's conversation. Amidst the crowding words that are continually crossing the threshold of my lips — how rarely do I interpose a sentence on behalf of God, or in praise of Him whom I call my Savior and my Master, or in commendation of His great salvation! It is most sinful to be so tongue-tied.

And do I not rob Him of my life?
He requires the prayers of my life.
He requires the endeavors of my life.
He requires the totality of my life!
But how little of my life is undeniably His!

What can I do, but claim the mercy which Christ gave to the robber on the tree?

   ~  ~  ~  ~

In the last consummate city!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Secret Place" 1907)

"I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband! No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servants will serve Him!" Revelation 21:2-3

In the last consummate city, all will be worshipers. Its inhabitants will have the godward look. They will recognize . . .
  God's existence,
  His government,
  His watchfulness,
  His faithfulness,
  His grace.
To them, He will be the Reality of realities. They will breathe through all the happy year the atmosphere of the spiritual, the supernatural, the divine, the infinite, the eternal. Atheism, and unbelief, and forgetfulness of God will have spread their black wings and flown forever away.

In the last supreme city, all will be brothers. Uniting in adoration around the throne of God and of the Lamb, they will gaze with kindly eyes into each other's faces and will clasp each other's hands in love and affection. It will be a society in which a new spirit and a new law rule — the law and the spirit of love.
Antagonisms, burdens, fears, will have vanished;
selfishness and greed, will be unthinkable;
the sorrow which man causes man, will never be felt.

In the last crystalline city, all will be saints. Its foundations are precious stones:
  the sapphire of hope,
  the emerald of humility,
  the chrysolite of truth,
  the amethyst of trust.
Its twelve gates are the twelve pearls of whitest and tenderest purity. No life flourishes in its ethereal air, but the life that is redeemed from all iniquity, and that bears the image of Jesus Christ. There is . . .
  no dust in the highways,
  no smoke in the skies,
  no harsh and discordant noise,
  no chilling or arid weather,
  no workhouse, nor tavern, nor prison.

"The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass. I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp!" Revelation 21:21-23

"Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city!" Revelation 22:14

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Fear not!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Secret Place" 1907)

I have many agitations and misgivings. But when heart and flesh faint and fail, my Lord has three whispers for me that banish fear and alarm.

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you!" Isaiah 43:1
My PAST brings me trouble . . .
  the sins I have committed,
  the duties I have neglected,
  the guilt I am chargeable with,
  the penalty I merit —
these make the retrospect of my days and years sad in the extreme.
I have wrecked my own life.
I have injured others.
I have sinned against God.
Sometimes I am overwhelmed by self-contempt.

But there is redemption — there is forgiveness. God concerns Himself with the locust-eaten yesterday. He forgives it through the might of Christ's Cross. He may transmute my very sins and errors and falls into means of grace — as nature can convert the battlefield that was strewn with the dead, into the greenest of pastures. He redeems me from my past!

"Fear not, for I am with you!" Isaiah 41:10
My PRESENT stirs in me great disquietude.
Apart from my Savior, I am still . . .
  as weak as water before temptation,
  an easy prey to the enemy,
  the willing servant of sin.
But then God remains with me, to preserve . . .
  my soul from death and
  my feet from falling and
  my eyes from tears.
By His providence, His Gospel, His Spirit — He sanctifies and makes me holy.

I know not which to marvel at more: His suffering for me on the cruel Tree — or His long-suffering with me always.

"Fear not, I will help you!" Isaiah 41:13
The FUTURE has its distresses.
Peering ahead, what do I see?
Many perplexities,
many trials and afflictions,
much weariness and struggle.
But my Lord will go before me.
As feeble as I am in myself, I shall be more than a conqueror over all the contingencies of the future, when the Lord helps and strengthens me.

To His thrice-repeated "Fear not!"
I reply, "I will not fear, for . . .
  You have redeemed me,
  You are with me, and
  You will help me!"

   ~  ~  ~  ~

My needs — His resources!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Secret Place" 1907)

"Acsah said: 'Let me have another gift. You have already given me land in the South — now please give me springs of water also!' So Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs." Judges 1:15

"Also" — the word of Acsah, Caleb's daughter, is the commonest of words in the hungering and thirsting heart, and on the praying lips of the Christian.

God has done much for me. He has given me a south land, where the sun shines, where the fields are broad and rich, where grape-vines and olive trees and fig trees may flourish and yield their harvests.

But I am not yet at the end of my needs — or of His resources. He must give me also springs of water to quicken and revive everything. I have not attained. I am not fully satisfied. As liberal as He has been — He is not wearied in bestowing, nor is His treasury depleted!

Back and back to Him I shall come — with new entreaties and new desires.
Back and back to me He will return — with new endowments and new love.

"Also" — it is both my word and His!

Suppose that I am forgiven — I would have Him also add to His forgiveness, the peace and assurance which it should beget.

Suppose that I am justified in His sight by the infinite meritoriousness of my Lord Jesus Christ — I would also know now what it is to be sanctified and made holy by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.

Suppose that I am His redeemed and adopted child, dwelling in the home and atmosphere of His favor — I would also be His consecrated servant and commissioned ambassador, employed to advance His Kingdom.

Suppose that He has given me the south land of His mercifulness and grace — He must also give me the springs of water, that through the whole of the encircling year I may bear much fruit to His glory.

Lord, give me springs of water also!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

A universe which carries the print of the Creator's finger!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Secret Place" 1907)

"O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom have You made them all." Psalm 104:24

Let me walk through the world, so various, so beautiful, so pleasing — with an open eye. It is strange that there are many who have no discernment of its wondrousness. They are dwellers in a palace, which has a variety and a magnificence that India's Taj Mahal never possessed — and they are blind to its marvels!

But I would ask for a purged and illuminated vision — and then Your works in nature will astonish me. Let me walk through the world, which is the many-colored vesture of the Lord, with a believing mind.

It is both strange and sad, that men should be atheists in a universe which carries the print of the Creator's finger on . . .
  each grain of sand,
  each blade of grass,
  each beam of light.
They are as senseless as one who would go through a large factory, with its complicated mechanisms and machinery, and would say, "I do not believe man exists!"

But I would be wiser than they. I would subscribe to William Law's sentiment, "Nature is what it is for this end only — that the hidden riches, the invisible powers, the blessings, the glory, and the love of the unsearchable God — may become visible, sensible, and manifest in it and by it!" This is a saner conclusion than the atheist's.

And let me walk through the world with a joyous soul. No doubt, there is much in it to fill the heart with painfulness; and pessimism has turned to the strifes and sorrows of creation for proof of its dismal creed.

But the goodness of God is written, too, in letters of gold on hill and lake and mountain and forest and stream. Not a sunrise, but speaks of His patient and enduring grace. Not a sunset, but stirs the conscience of the sinner, and opens Heaven itself to the saint. So much of His divine glory, the Almighty Maker conveys . . .
  by His sunrise and sunset touches,
  by His flowers and woodland trees,
  by His vast ocean and starry sky.
Therefore let me be strong and of a good courage — He remembers me, His redeemed child!

The sights and sounds of the landscape ought to be preachers and trumpets of the glory of God. In the cool of the day, when I pass through the country fields, or climb to the summit of the hill, or sit and gaze across the sea — God and my soul should meet and talk.

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard!" Psalm 19:1-3

   ~  ~  ~  ~

If we had God's power!

(Scott Richardson)

If we had God's power, we would change everything.
If we had God's wisdom, we'd change nothing!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The love of Christ which surpasses knowledge!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Secret Place" 1907)

"The love of Christ which surpasses knowledge!" Ephesians 3:19

No love stoops like Christ's love. It abandoned place and prospects and power — to save me! It traveled from the heights of Heaven, to the depths of sinful earth. God, pure and holy, chose voluntarily to make His home with me a sinner!

The sole qualification I need to commend myself to Him is not my conviction of worth, but my conviction of worthlessness — my knowledge that I am devoid of goodness and holiness! Then, when I confess myself penniless — He will invest me with His treasures. He banishes no self-destroyed and forlorn and penitent man outside the pale of His grace. His love stoops!

No love suffers like Christ's love. The test of affection is its willingness to suffer sacrifice and pain for another. Never has any affection stood the test like the love of Jesus.

"It is certain," one writes, "that not for one hour on earth, was our Lord without the anguish of His passion." And at last He made the supreme offering of His life for me. Such bitterness, such dereliction, such unspeakable sorrow — there were in my Savior's death. For me He bore the hiding of His Father's face on Calvary. It is an unfathomable pre-eminence of grief. It is a horror of great darkness which I may not pierce. His love suffers!

No love gives like Christ's love. Love is always giving. But when was there human love with such wealth to bestow, and such willingness to communicate it — as the love of Christ? In simple fact, He imparts nothing less than Himself to me! The most unholy, the most tempted, the most despairing — cannot desire anything more sufficient. His love gives!

And no love lasts like Christ's love. The truest and tenderest earthly love says farewell to its beloved in death. And too often, even on this side of the grave, doubts insinuate themselves, and suspicions arise, and covenants are snapped and broken. It is not so with the love of Christ. Neither things present nor things to come, the demands of today and the contingencies of tomorrow — chill that great heart of love! Christ's love is like Himself — eternal and unchangeable. His love lasts!

Does not His wondrous love deserve my whole soul and body — all that I have, and all that I am? Nothing is stranger, and nothing more sad, than that, bathed in Christ's love — I should be so indifferent, so forgetful, so cold!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

It is not always ugly!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Secret Place" 1907)

"But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate!" Revelation 2:6

So I must live, with equal aloofness from every wicked and dubious way — with equal abhorrence of all which my divinely enlightened conscience may not approve. Christ expects me to hate the works of the Nicolaitans!

If I am to escape the seductions of sin — I require such intolerance and hatred.
There is great enticement in sin's gaieties, fascinations, and charms!
It beguiles!
It entraps!
It enthralls!
It is not always ugly
— often it has a mesmerizing enchantment. My one safety is have an unflinching opposition to that which is both so fair and so foul at the same time. If I dull the keen edge of my hostility to sin — the plausible and insinuating foe will quickly have me at his mercy!

There is a type of weakness which is all for concession and clemency in the presence of evil. It parleys with sin, and it dallies in its society. It can say a great deal in sin's defense — perhaps it discerns admirable qualities in it.

But the holiness to which I am called, is more manly and soldierly. It will have no friendship with the foul adversary!

If I am to imitate Christ — I require such severities and aversions to sin. He also hates the works of the Nicolaitans. I misread Him if I think of Him as altogether meek and gentle. He sends a sword, He kindles a fire, upon the earth. Before His pure gaze, sin blushes, and droops its proud head, and withers away! He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and He will not rest until He has trodden every iniquity under His feet!

"I hate every false way!" Psalm 119:128