Grace Gems for JULY, 2016

Grace Gems for JULY, 2016

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When we become magnetized by Jesus' beauty and adore Him!

(A.W. Tozer)

"Yes, He is altogether lovely! This is my Beloved — and this is my Friend!" Song of Songs 5:16

Perhaps the most serious charge that can be brought against modern Christians, is that we are not sufficiently in love with Christ. The Christ of evangelicalism is strong, but hardly beautiful. It is rarely that we find anyone aglow with love for Christ. I trust it is not uncharitable to say that a great deal of praise in conservative circles is perfunctory and forced and downright insincere.

When we become magnetized by Jesus' beauty and adore Him
— we will want to pour ourselves out at His feet. We don't have to be urged to do it.

No one who knows Jesus intimately, can ever be flippant in His presence.

"If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed!" 1 Corinthians 16:22

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As if we saw two shining eyes looking on us out of the darkness!

(Thomas Guthrie, 1803-1873)

"Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to Heaven — You are there. If I make my bed in the depths — behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea — even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me. Even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You!" Psalm 139:7-12
We cannot shake off the presence of God! When our doors are shut, and curtains drawn, and all is still, and darkest night fills our chamber, and we are left alone to the companionship of our thoughts — it might keep them pure and holy to say, as if we saw two shining eyes looking on us out of the darkness, "You, O God, see me!"

The world called that man mad, who imagined that he saw God's eye looking on him . . .
 out of every star of the sky,
 and every flower of the earth,
 and every leaf of the forest,
 from the ground which he trod upon,
 from the walls of his lonely chamber,
 and out of the gloomy depths of night!
Mad! It was a blessed and holy imagination!

May God help you to feel yourselves at all times in His presence!

"Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account!" Hebrews 4:13

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I take my good works and my bad works!

(Thomas Guthrie, 1803-1873)

I remember reading the response of a godly man, when on his deathbed, to his friends who spoke of the many good works he had performed.

"Good works! good works!" said the dying man, "I take my good works and my bad works, and cast them into one heap out of my sight, and turn to my only hope — the Cross of Christ!"

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God's love is revealed and made known by these six deeds of indescribable love!

(Don Fortner)

"Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!" 1 John 3:1

We rejoice to know that "God is love!" Love is an attribute of His holy Being, without which He would not be God. We know that God is love, because His love is revealed and made known by His deeds. Love is active. It is never dormant. Like fire, it must break out. It cannot be contained. It is known only when it is experienced — not by words, but by deeds. We know the love of God is that love that "surpasses knowledge." Yet, God's love is revealed and made known by these six deeds of indescribable love!

The first act of God's love was our ELECTION in Christ (Deuteronomy 7:7-8). Election is not a hard doctrine. It is a delightful doctrine. Were it not for God's electing love toward sinners, there would be no salvation (Ephesians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13). We would never have come to know and love Christ — had He not first loved us (John 15:16; 1 John 4:19).

The second act of God's love was our REDEMPTION by Christ (Romans 5:8; 1 John 3:16; 4:9-10). Because He loved us, the Son of God assumed our nature, assumed our sin, assumed our guilt and died under the wrath of God as our Substitute, to put away our sins. "The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me!"

The third act by which God reveals His love to sinners is His EFFECTUAL SAVING GRACE (Jeremiah 31:3).
Those whom the triune God loved — the Father chose to save.
Those whom the Father chose to save — the Son redeemed.
And those whom the Son redeemed — the Holy Spirit will effectually call by His irresistible grace to life and faith in Christ.

The love of God is revealed fourthly in the absolute PRESERVATION of His elect in a state of grace (John 10:28; Romans 8:39). Can you imagine one who is loved of God falling from a state of grace, perishing and suffering the wrath of God forever in Hell? Such a notion is worse than nonsense — it is utter blasphemy! The love of God is . . .
  without cause,
  without beginning,
  without condition,
  without change,
  and without end!
It is free.
It is sovereign.
It is indestructible.
It is everlasting.

Fifthly, God's love for His elect is seen in our Savior's TENDER, PROVIDENTIAL CARE for us (John 11:35-36). Our Savior really is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. We really are the apple of His eye.

But there is one act of love that goes beyond election, redemption, effectual calling, preservation, and providential care. As great and marvelous as those things are — there is one act of God that goes beyond them all. If the climax of God's love is our redemption by Christ — then the apex of God's love is our ADOPTION into the family of God! (1 John 3:1-3)

By birth, we are all fallen, depraved and spiritually dead (Romans 5:12).
By our deeds, we show ourselves to be children of the devil, sinful, deceitful, and wicked (John 8:44).
By nature, we are all children of wrath (Ephesians 1:3), a people deserving the wrath of God.
But by grace, we who believe are the sons of God!

Election is the great fountain of grace.
Redemption is the greatest mystery of grace.
And adoption is the greatest privilege of grace.

"Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!"

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Religious entertainment!

(A.W. Tozer)

A great company of evangelical churches have already gone over into the area of religious entertainment, so that many churches are tramping on the doorstep of the theater!

The tragic results of this spirit are all about us:
  shallow lives,
  hollow religious philosophies,
  the preponderance of the element of fun in gospel meetings,
  the glorification of men,
  trust in religious externalities,
  quasi-religious fellowships,
  salesmanship methods,
  the mistaking of dynamic personality for the power of the Spirit.

These and such as these, are the symptoms of an evil disease — a deep and serious malady of the soul.

Religious entertainment has so corrupted the Church, that millions don't know that it's a heresy. Millions of evangelicals throughout the world have devoted themselves to religious entertainment. They don't know that it's as much heresy, as the "counting of beads" or the "splashing of holy water" or something else. To expose this, of course, raises a storm of angry protest among the people.

Isn't there a difference between worship and entertainment?

The church that can't worship, must be entertained. And men who can't lead a church to worship, must provide the entertainment. That is why we have the great evangelical heresy here today — the heresy of religious entertainment!

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The varied and rich profusion with which God had clothed His world!

(Thomas Guthrie, 1803-1873)

As we looked down on the pleasant scene, we were astonished at the varied and rich profusion with which God had clothed His world.

Nature, like Joseph, was dressed in a coat of many colors — gray, black and yellow lichens clad the rock.

The glossy ivy, like an ambitious child, had planted its foot on the crag, and, hanging on by a thousand arms, had climbed to its stormy summit.

Mosses, of hues surpassing all the colors of the loom, spread an elastic carpet around the gushing fountain.

The wild thyme lent a bed to the weary, and its perfume to the air.

Heaths opened their blushing bosoms to the bee.

The primrose, modesty shrinking from observation, looked out from its leafy shade.

At the foot of the weathered stone, the fern raised its plumes, and on its summit the foxglove rang his beautiful bells; while the birch bent to kiss the stream, as it ran away laughing to hide itself in the lake below, or stretched out her arms to embrace the mountain ash and evergreen pine.

By a very slight exercise of imagination, in such a scene one could see Nature engaged in her adorations, and hear her singing, "The earth is full of the glory of God! How manifold are Your works, O Lord God Almighty! In wisdom You have made them all."

Insects — as well as angels,
the flowers that spangle the meadow — as well as the stars that spangle the sky,
the lamp of the glowworm — as well as the light of the sun,
the lark that sings in the air — and the seraph that is singing in Heaven,
the thunders that rend the clouds — or the trumpet that shall rend the tomb
 — these and all things else, reveal God's attributes and proclaim His praise!

"Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!" Psalm 150:6

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The Bible!

(author unknown)

"And we also thank God continually because, when you received the Word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the Word of God, which is at work in you who believe!" 1 Thessalonians 2:13

The Bible contains . . .
  the mind of God,
  the state of man,
  the way of salvation,
  the doom of sinners, and
  the happiness of believers.

Its doctrines are holy,
its precepts are binding,
its histories are true, and
its decisions are immutable.

Read it to be wise,
believe it to be safe,
and practice it to be holy.

The Bible contains . . .
  light to direct you,
  food to support you,
  and comfort to cheer you.

It is . . .
  the traveler's map,
  the pilgrim's staff,
  the pilot's compass,
  the soldier's sword and
  the Christian's charter.

Here too, Heaven is opened — and the gates of Hell are disclosed.

Christ is its grand subject,
our good is its design, and
the glory of God is its end.

The Bible should . . .
  fill the memory,
  rule the heart
  and guide the feet.

Read it slowly, frequently and prayerfully. 

The Scripture is . . .
  a mine of wealth,
  a paradise of glory,
  and a river of pleasure!

It . . .
  is given to you in life,
  will be opened at the judgment,
  and be remembered forever.

The Bible . . .
  involves the highest responsibility,
  rewards the greatest labor, and
  will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents!

"Forever, O LORD, Your Word is settled in Heaven!" Psalm 119:89

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If you would adopt a swine to be your child!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will" Ephesians 1:5

"Beloved, now we are children of God!" 1 John 3:2

No man has any 'right' to be a child of God — it is an act of pure unmistakable grace!

If we are born into God's family — it is a miracle of mercy. It is one of the ever-blessed exhibitions of the infinite love of God, that has set itself upon us.

If you are this day an heir of Heaven — remember, man, you were once the slave of Hell. Once you wallowed in the mire of sin!

If you would adopt a swine to be your child
— you would not then have performed an act of greater compassion, than when God adopted you.

And if an angel could exalt a gnat to equal dignity with himself — yet this would not be as great a privilege as that which God has conferred on you.

He has taken you from the dunghill — and He has set you among princes!

Remember that this is pure grace! Look back to the hole of the pit from where you were dug, and the miry clay from where you were drawn.

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The absolute necessity of experimental religion!

(Octavius Winslow)

"Our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction." 1 Thessalonians 1:5

The religion of the Lord Jesus is valuable only as its power is experienced in the heart. In this respect, and in this only, it may be compared to the physical sciences, which, however ingenious in structure, or beautiful in theory — yet, if not reduced or reducible to purposes of practical use, are of little worth. It is so with the truth of Jesus.
The man of mere taste may applaud its external beauty,
the philosopher may admire its ethics,
the orator may admire its eloquence, and
the poet may admire its sublimity —
but if the Spirit of God does not take His own truth, and impress it upon the heart, as to the great design of its revelation — it avails nothing.

What numbers there are who rest in the mere 'theory' of Christianity!
But as a practical principle — they know nothing of it.
As a thing experienced in the heart — it is a hidden mystery to them.
They speak well of it as a religious system; they believe its Divinity, and even defend its doctrines and extol its precepts — yet make no approaches towards a personal and practical obedience to its claims. In a word, they know nothing of repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ. It will surely appear to a spiritually-enlightened mind, a subject of vast and solemn importance that this delusion should be exposed — that this foundation of sand should be undermined — and that the absolute necessity of experimental religion, as necessary to an admission within the kingdom of glory, be strenuously and scripturally enforced.

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A spiritual instinct!

(J.C. Ryle)

"He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out.
When He has brought out all His own, He goes on ahead of them — and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice." John 10:3-5

We have in these verses, a peculiar picture of true Christians. Our Lord describes them as sheep who hear the voice of a true Shepherd, and know His voice — and as "sheep who will never follow a stranger — they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice."

The thing taught in these words is a very curious one, and may seem "foolishness" to the world. There is a spiritual instinct in most true believers, which generally enables them to distinguish between true and false teaching.
When they hear unsound religious instruction, there is something within them that says, "This is wrong!"
When they hear the real truth as it is in Jesus, there is something in their hearts which responds, "This is right!"

The careless man of the world may see no difference whatever between minister and minister, sermon and sermon. The poorest sheep of Christ, as a general rule, will "distinguish things that differ," though he may sometimes be unable to explain why.

Let us beware of despising this spiritual instinct. Whatever a sneering world may please to say, it is one of the peculiar marks of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. As such, it is specially mentioned by John, when he says, "You have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things." (1 John 2:20) Let us rather pray for it daily, in order that we may be kept from the influence of false shepherds. To lose all power of distinguishing between bitter and sweet, is one of the worst symptoms of bodily disease. In the same way, to be unable to see any difference between . . .
  the gospel — and the law,
  truth — and error,
  Protestantism — and Popery,
  the doctrine of Christ — and the doctrine of man,
is a sure proof that we are yet dead in heart, and need conversion!

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Wherever he turned, the sun was there!

(Thomas Guthrie, 1803-1873)

The dimness of sin impairs our vision, but were we to see Jesus, as we shall see Him in Heaven — I think it would happen to us as once it happened to a celebrated philosopher:

Pursuing his discoveries on the subject of light — he ventured on a bold experiment. He fixed his gaze steadily, for some time, on the sun — exposing his naked eyes to the burning beams of the fiery disc.

And such was the impression made on the organ of sight — that wherever he turned, the sun was there!
If he looked down, the sun was beneath his feet;
it shone in the top of the sky in the murkiest midnight;
it blazed on the page of every book he read;
he saw it when he shut his eyes — and he saw it when he opened them.
The sun was the last object which he saw when he passed into sleep — and it was the first to meet his waking eyes.

Happy would it be for us, if we got some such sight of Jesus, and the glory of that Sun of Righteousness were so impressed upon the eye of faith — that we could never forget Him, and, ever seeing Him, ever loved Him!

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus!" Hebrews 12:2

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It was a serpent, not a Savior — which Eve pressed to her joyful bosom!

(Thomas Guthrie, 1803-1873)

"I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord!" Genesis 4:1

Most expositors think that Eve imagined Cain to be the promised seed that would bruise the head of the serpent. (Adam Clarke's Commentary)

Many suppose that Eve thought that this son was the promised seed, and that therefore she thus triumphed in him, as her words may be read, "I have gotten a man, the Lord!" (Matthew Henry's Commentary)

Eve cherished the hope that she herself would be the mother of the Messiah. Wrung with remorse for her incalculable crime, and eager to see its misery and mischief undone — she grasped at the fulfillment of the promise, but only to be disappointed — to catch only a mocking shadow. It is a common saying, What we eagerly desire — we easily believe.

Our poor mother Eve, hailing in her first-born, the promised seed, clasped Cain to her beating bosom. "I have gotten," she exclaimed, "the man" — the promised man, "from the Lord!" Never was mother so bitterly disappointed! Never more false was the bright happy vision that has floated round many an infant's cradle! It was a serpent, not a Savior — which Eve pressed to her joyful bosom!

Here, in this quiet bower where Eve is singing her boy asleep, he who cruelly shed man's blood to kill — is mistaken for Him who generously shed His own blood to save!

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I would not live here always!

(Thomas Guthrie, 1803-1873)

"Arise and depart; for this is not your rest — because it is polluted!" Micah 2:10

In his best hours, home, his own sinless home — a home with his Father above that starry sky — will be the wish of every Christian. He looks around him — the world is full of suffering; he is distressed by its sorrows, and vexed with its sins. He looks within him — he finds much in his own corruptions to grieve for. In the language of a heart repelled, grieved, vexed — he often turns his eye upward, saying, "I would not live here always!" (Job 7:16)
  Not for all the gold of the world's mines;
  not for all the pearls of her seas;
  not for all the pleasures of her flashing, frothy cup;
  not for all the crowns of her kingdoms —
would I live here always! Like a bird about to migrate to those sunny lands where no winter sheds her snows, or strips the grove, or binds the dancing streams — the Christian will often in spirit be pruning his wing for the hour of his flight to glory!

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

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The less you think of yourselves — the more will you esteem Christ!

(Thomas Guthrie, 1803-1873)

I wish you to think little, very little of yourselves. Why?
Because the less you think of yourselves — the more will you esteem Christ.
Because the humbler you are in your own eyes — the higher you will stand in God's eyes.

The guest, who, coming modestly in, takes the lowest place at the table — is called up to the seat of honor.
None are so sure to lie in Jesus' bosom — as those who have been lying lowest at Jesus' feet.

Hence, brought by grace to see sin's vileness, and to feel its exceeding evil . . .
  the holiest men — have always been the humblest,
  the strongest men — have always felt the weakest in themselves,
  the best men — have always thought the worst of themselves.

David, the man after God's own heart, said, "I was as a beast before You!"

Job, the most remarkable character of his own or any age for piety and uprightness, said, as he shrank from his own image, "I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes!"

And Paul, though the greatest of all the apostles, much too great as well as honest, to fish for compliments and depreciate himself that others might praise him — spoke of himself not as the least, but as less than the least, of all saints.

The tree grows best skyward, which grows most downward. Just so, the lower the saint grows in humility — the higher he grows in holiness. The soaring corresponds to the sinking.

The humble man's heartfelt prayer shall be, "O my God, I am ashamed, and blush to lift up my face to You! I am glad to enter Heaven at the back of the wicked Manasseh, or the immoral woman, or the thief of the cross. God be merciful to me a sinner!"

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A blind father sits by the dull fire with a blind boy on his knee!

(Thomas Guthrie, 1803-1873)

I can imagine few sadder sights than an entire family, parents and children, all blind — a home where . . .
  the flowers have no beauty,
  the night has no stars,
  the morning no blushing dawn,
  and the azure sky no glorious sun.
A home where they have never looked on each other's faces; but a blind father sits by the dull fire with a blind boy on his knee — and the sightless mother nurses at her bosom a sightless babe that never gladdened her with its happy smile.

How would such a spectacle touch the most callous feelings, and move to pity even a heart of stone!

But a greater calamity is ours. By nature, the eyes of our understanding are darkened!

"The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God!" 2 Corinthians 4:4

"They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the blindness of their hearts." Ephesians 4:18

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The journey which our Divine Lover took

(Thomas Guthrie, 1803-1873)

The story of Christ's redeeming love surpasses anything related in the pages of the wildest romances. These tell of a prince, who, enamored with a humble maiden, assumed a disguise. Doffing his crown and royal state for the dress of common life, he left his palace, traveled far, faced danger, and fared hard — to win the heart of a peasant's daughter, and raise her from obscurity to the position of a queen!

Facts are more wonderful than fables. The journey which our Divine Lover took was from Heaven to earth. To win His bride, He exchanged the bosom of the eternal Father — to lie, a feeble infant, on a woman's bosom. The Son of God left the throne of the universe, and assumed the guise of humanity — to be cradled in a feeding trough and murdered on a cross!

In His people, He found His bride deep in debt — and paid it all. Herself under sentence of death — He died in her place. A lost creature, clad in rags — He took off His own royal robes to cover her. To wash her — He shed His blood! To win her — He shed His tears! Finding her poor and miserable and naked, He endowed her with all His goods — and heir of all things. Everything that He possessed as His Father's Son — she was to forever enjoy and share with Himself!

"May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully!" Ephesians 3:19

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Every groan of your wounded heart; your every sigh, and cry, and prayer!

(Thomas Guthrie, 1803-1873)

Were Jesus Christ a mere man — how could He guard the interests, and manage the affairs of His innumerable people, scattered far and wide over the face of the habitable globe?
What heart would be large enough to embrace them all?
What eyes could see them all?
What ears could hear them all?

Think of the ten thousand prayers pronounced in a hundred different languages that go up at once, and altogether, to His ear! Yet there is no confusion; none are lost; none are missed in the crowd.

Nor are they heard by Him as, standing on yonder lofty crag, we hear the din of the city that lies stretched out far beneath us, with all its sounds of cries, and rumbling wheels, and human voices — mixed up into one deep, confused, hollow roar — like the boom of the sea's distant breakers.

No! every believer may feel as if he were alone with God — enjoying a private audience with the King in His presence-chamber! Be of good cheer. Every groan of your wounded heart; your every sigh, and cry, and prayer — falls as distinctly on Jesus' ear as if you stood beside His throne, or, nearer still, lay with John on His bosom, and felt the beating of His heart against your own!

"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16

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As you tear yourself from the encircling arms of the enchantress!

(Thomas Guthrie, 1803-1873)

"She caught him by his cloak and said, 'Come to bed with me!' But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house!"
Genesis 39:12

Let me warn you that such a holy life as the text enjoins, is impossible to all but those who are on their guard against the beginnings of evil. Take alarm at an evil thought, wish, or desire! These are the germs of sin — the floating seeds which drop into the heart, and finding in our natural corruption a fat and favorable soil, spring up into actual transgressions. These, like the rattle of the snake, or the hiss of the serpent — reveal the presence and nearness of danger!

The experience of all holy men proves that sin is most easily crushed in the bud — and that it is safer to flee from temptation than to fight it. Fight like a man when you cannot avoid the battle — but rather flee than fight.

Be afraid of temptation — avoid it — abhor it!

Let your answer, as you tear yourself from the encircling arms of the enchantress, and seek safety in flight — be that of Joseph's: "How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God!" Genesis 39:9

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The greatest fool in the world!

(Thomas Guthrie, 1803-1873)

Sin is the greatest folly — and the sinner the greatest fool in the world! There is no such madness, even in the most degraded lunacy.

Think of a man risking eternity and his everlasting happiness — on the uncertain chance of surviving another year!

Think of a man purchasing a momentary pleasure — at the cost of endless pain!

Think of a dying man living — as if he were never to die!

That man is a fool . . .
who, with a soul formed for the purest enjoyments — delights in the lowest pleasures;
who, content with this poor world — rejects Heavenly bliss;
who, surest sign of insanity — hates the heavenly Father, and the Savior, and those who love Him;
who, in love with sin — hugs his chains;
who, lying under the wrath of God — is merry;
who sings and dances on the thin crust that, ever and always breaking beneath the feet of others — is all that separates him from an infinite abyss of fire!

Every Christian looks back upon his unconverted state, and says with Asaph, "I was foolish and ignorant; I was a brute beast before You!" Psalm 73:22  

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Sin is their mother — and these are her hateful progeny!

(Thomas Guthrie, 1803-1873)

Men often talk of poverty, misfortune, disease, and bereavement, as evils. Yet there is no radical evil in this world, but sin. If you still persist in calling other things evils, remember that sin is their mother — and these are her hateful progeny!

No sin — no suffering!
No sin — no sorrow!

No sin — no death, no grave, no Hell!

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You are only fattening it for worms!

(Thomas Guthrie, 1803-1873)

"For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs!" 1 Timothy 6:7-10

If you are wealthy, you may reside in a splendid mansion — but it is only to leave it one day for a dark and narrow house! You may pamper the body with the costliest luxuries — but you are only fattening it for worms! Nor can the flashing blaze of a thousand diamonds blind our eyes to the melancholy fact that this mirthful, beautiful, charming body shall, stripped of all its luxury, be wrapped in a shroud, nailed up in a coffin — and thrust down into a black hole to rot!

But give me the treasures of redemption . . .
  my food is heavenly manna,
  my wine is divine love,
  my sweet pillow is the bosom of the Son,
  my strong defense is the arm of Almighty God,
  my home is that palace, eternal in the heavens!

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In His humblest works!

(Thomas Guthrie, 1803-1873)

"The earth is full of His unfailing love!" Psalm 33:5

The British Museum possessed in the Portland Vase — one of the finest remains of ancient art. It may be remembered how, some years ago — the world of culture was shocked to hear that this precious relic had been shattered by a maniac's hand.

Without disparaging cultured taste, or this exquisite example of it — I venture to say that there is not a poor worm which we tread upon, nor a sere leaf which dances merrily in its fallen state to the autumn winds — but has superior claims upon our study and admiration. The child who plucks a lily or rose to pieces, or crushes the fragile form of a fluttering insect — destroys an intricate work which the highest human art could not invent, nor man's best skilled hand construct!

There is not a leaf which quivers on the trees of the forest — which does not eclipse the brightest glories of the painter's brush or the sculptor's chisel! A simple flower has no rival among the triumphs of invention, which the silly world flocks to see.

Yes, in His humblest works, God infinitely surpasses the highest efforts of all created skill.

"How many are Your works, O Lord! In wisdom You made them all; the earth is full of Your creatures!" Psalm 104:24

"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!" Psalm 19:1-2

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Dance and dine with the devil!

(Thomas Brooks, "Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices")

"Lest Satan should get an advantage of us — for we are not ignorant of his evil schemes." 2 Corinthians 2:11

Sin is but a bitter sweet. That seeming sweet which is in sin will quickly vanish — and lasting shame, sorrow, horror, and terror will soon come.

Forbidden profits and pleasures are most pleasing to vain men, who count madness to be mirth. Many long to be meddling with the murdering morsels of sin, which do not nourish — but rend and consume the soul which receives them. Many eat that on earth, which they digest in Hell.

Sin's murdering morsels will deceive those who devour them!
Adam's apple was a bitter sweet;
Esau's bowl of stew was a bitter sweet;
the Israelites' quails were a bitter sweet;
Jonathan's honey was a bitter sweet;
Adonijah's dainties were a bitter sweet.
After the meal is ended — then comes the reckoning!

Men must not think to dance and dine with the devil — and then to sup with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of Heaven!

Men must not think to feed upon the poison of asps — and yet that the viper's tongue should not slay them!

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Behold the Emperor of Woe!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Behold the Man!" John 19:5

If there is one place where our Lord Jesus most fully becomes the joy and comfort of His people — it is where He plunged deepest into the depths of woe!

Come hither, gracious souls, and behold the Man in the garden of Gethsemane! Behold His heart so brimming with love — that He cannot hold it in; so full of sorrow — that it must find a vent. Behold the bloody sweat as it distills from every pore of His body, and falls upon the ground!

Behold the Man as they drive the nails into His hands and feet! Look up, repenting sinners, and see the sorrowful image of your suffering Lord! Mark Him, as the ruby drops stand on the thorn-crown, and adorn the diadem of the King of Misery with priceless gems!

Behold the Man
when all His bones are out of joint, and He is poured out like water and brought into the dust of death! God has forsaken Him — and Hell compasses Him about. Behold and see — was there ever sorrow like unto His sorrow? All you who pass by — draw near and look upon this spectacle of grief! Unique, unparalleled, a wonder to men and angels — an unmatched marvel!

Behold the Emperor of Woe — who had no equal or rival in His agonies! Gaze upon Him, you mourners, for if there is not consolation in a crucified Christ — there is no joy in earth or Heaven. If in the ransom price of His blood, there is not hope — you harps of heaven, there is no joy in you; and the right hand of God shall know no pleasures for evermore!

We have only to sit more continually at the cross foot — to be less troubled with our afflictions and woes.

We have but to see His sorrows — and we shall be ashamed to mention our sorrows.

We have but to gaze into His wounds — and heal our own.

If we would live aright — it must be by the contemplation of His death.

If we would rise to dignity — it must be by considering His humiliation and His sorrow!

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Turn aside and see this great sight!

(Hugh Dunlop, "Altogether Lovely!" 1896)

"When all the people who had gathered to witness that sight saw what took place, they beat their bosoms and went away." Luke 23:48

There have been . . .
  many wonderful sights upon the earth,
  many sad and sorrowful sights,
  many grand and awe-inspiring sights
 — but never before or after in all the world's history, such a sight as was seen by the group that gathered around the cross. What a strange and motley group it was! How many kinds of sinners were represented there!

There were the hardened Roman soldiers who gambled for His clothes. There were the mockers, the revilers, the chief priests and scribes who hated Him — the rulers who derided Him — the people who wagged their heads saying, "If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross!"

There were also the weeping women, the trembling disciples, and — best of all — the penitent thief who trusted in Him for salvation in that dread hour, and gave Him a sweet foretaste of the "joy that was set before Him," for which "He endured the cross, despising the shame."

Other spectators also, unseen by human eyes, were doubtless there — Satan and all his horrid hosts, the Victor's baffled foes, watching Him with malignant hate; the holy angels, too, looking on with silent awe; and God Himself, Who was about to "bruise Him and put Him to grief" and "make His soul an offering for sin" — Whose voice even then shook the deep, "Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd and against the Man who is My Fellow!"

As Moses took his shoes from off his feet, when he drew near to see the burning bush — let us also with reverence and adoring love, now turn aside and see this great sight!

That was a sight of WONDER. What do we see?
The Lord of glory — put to open shame!
The Creator of Heaven and earth — nailed to a cruel cross of wood!
The King of kings and Lord of lords — treated as the vilest malefactor!
The holy Son of God — crucified!
He who was the very Fountain of life, whose life was the light of men — dying!

That was a sight of SORROW. We live in a world of sorrow, a valley of tears. "Man who is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble." "Man is born to trouble — as the sparks fly upward." "The whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now."

But, of all men, Jesus was "a Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief." He saw His Father's law broken, His Father's name dishonored, His Father's love despised. "Rivers of water run down My eyes — because they keep not Your law." How His soul must have turned with loathing, from the defilement in the midst of which He walked — while His heart was bursting with pity for the sinners whom He had come to save! Now was the culmination of His woe. His holy nature shrank from the slightest touch of sin — yet now "He bore our sins in His own body on the tree" — and what that meant, God alone can tell.

That was a sight of SIN! What is sin? Its very essence is revolt against the Most High God. And here we see the crowning manifestation of this revolt. God's law had been broken, His commandments disobeyed, His name dishonored by a rebellious world — but never was the enmity of the human heart so intensely shown as when they crucified His beloved Son!

Oh, the malignant hate with which sinners cried "Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him, crucify Him!" The awful wickedness with which they closed around His cross, "breathing out cruelty!" The madness that cried, "Not this Man, but Barabbas!" They mocked, they wagged their heads, they railed, they scoffed — and in their puny impotence, defied the God of Heaven!

That was a sight of WRATH. If the crucifixion of the Son of God was the most awful manifestation of the sin of man — so was the cross also the most terrible revelation of divine wrath — the righteous wrath of a holy God! Not all the woe of the lost — not the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, of which God in His compassion warns us in His Word — not all the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth of those upon whose heads God's righteous judgments fall — can reveal to us, as does the cross of Christ, the attitude of God toward sin!

In the cross of Christ, we see the burning holiness of God, Who is "of purer eyes than to behold iniquity and cannot look upon evil."

Here we see the inviolable righteousness of God, who "can by no means clear the guilty."

And here we see the terrible fierceness of His anger, the sword of His justice, the tempest of His wrath! "God is angry with the wicked every day" — but here the whole of His wrath against sin was gathered up and burst forth with relentless fury!

But, hearken!
Against whom did God's anger burn?
Against whom did God's sword awake?
Upon whose head did God's storm of wrath burst?
Not upon the heads of the guilty sinners — but upon the sinless One, the Holy One, the spotless Lamb of God!
That was a sight of LOVE!
What pen can write,
what tongue can tell,
what heart can comprehend
 — the infinite love of God? Behind the awful wrath and righteous judgment — was the eternal love. Back in the counsels of eternity "God so loved the world." Why, we cannot understand; only we have heard of "the great love with which He loved us" — and we know of the great redemption which He planned for us. Yes, it was out of the infinite depths of that deep, mysterious love for the souls whom He had made, that the cross of Christ grew!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Hellish sin! Stupendous wickedness! Monstrous impiety!

(Thomas Doolittle, "Love to Christ Necessary to Escape the Curse at His Coming!" 1693)

"If any man does not love the Lord Jesus Christ — he shall be accursed!" 1 Corinthians 16:22

What! not love the Lord! Hellish sin!

What! not love Jesus! Stupendous wickedness!

What! not love Christ! Monstrous impiety!

Not love Him who is both Lord, and Jesus, and Christ! What name might we call him by?
Is he a man — or a beast?
Is he a man — or a devil?

Do you love the world — and not Him? Do you love sin — and not him? This may be . . .
  the astonishment of the heavens,
  the amazement of the earth,
  the wonder of angels,
  the joy of devils,
  the burden of the creation of God.
The earth groans to bear them;
the sun is grieved to give light unto them;
the air laments to be sucked into sin-filthy bodies, wherein are more filthy souls — because they are void of the love of Christ! Yes, all this world looks more like Hell than Heaven, because of the swarms of men therein who have no sincere love to Jesus Christ.

Let all who are not sensual beasts, or incarnate devils — who have the understanding and hearts of men — stand and wonder — that a man should deny Christ his love. Good Lord! What a thing is this! What cursed wickedness is this! What wonder that you behold such a sight as this — a man without love unto your Son — and allow him to continue to be a man; or do not make him . . .
  a sick man,
  a poor man,
  a tormented pained man on earth,
  or a damned man in Hell!

Oh what punishment waits for him! How do devils hope for his death, that they might drag him down to that hellish crew, where there is not one lover of Christ among them all!

"If any man does not love the Lord Jesus Christ — he shall be accursed!" 1 Corinthians 16:22

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If we had God's power we would change everything!

(Scott Richardson)

"You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand." John 13:7

If we had God's power we would change everything — but if we had God's wisdom we would change nothing.

"He has done all things well!" Mark 7:37

   ~  ~  ~  ~

When once I had got a view of Christ's transcendent loveliness!

(Thomas Doolittle, "Love to Christ Necessary to Escape the Curse at His Coming!" 1693)

The prophet Isaiah, speaking of graceless men as disliking, not desiring, nor loving Christ — brings them in as saying, "He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him!" Isaiah 53:2

What! No loveliness in Him who is "the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of His person!" Yes! there was, there is — but they had no eyes to see it! It is as if a blind man should say that the sun is dark, because he has no eyes to behold it's light. It was, because in seeing — they did not see. How could they look upon Him with an eye of love — when they did not discern Him with an eye of faith?

But a holy soul, whose eyes are divinely opened, so sees that superlative goodness, beauty, and excellency in Christ — that all other things, which are good with an inferior goodness, seem to him as dross and dung! "But whatever was to my profit, I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things! I consider them rubbish," things cast to dogs, or dog's-food, "that I may gain Christ!" Philippians 3:7-8

The holy man, whose mind is savingly enlightened, can say: I see that goodness in the Savior, which far surpasses all the goodness of the creature! Though the stars in the coldest night might be seen — yet when the sun arises, they all disappear. Just so, in the night of ignorance, when my mind was blind, my heart hard, and my affections frozen — I was bewitched with the goodness of riches, of honors, and of worldly pleasures. Yet when the Sun of righteousness with His radiant rays shined into my soul, and with His warming influences thawed my benumbed frozen heart — when Christ the day-star arose in my soul — then, O then, the glory of these things which once dazzled my eyes, presently vanished and withered away! When once I had got a view of Christ's transcendent loveliness — then in comparison to Christ, I saw . . .
  an emptiness and vanity — in all the creature's fullness;
  beggary — in all the world's nobility;
  shame — in all the world's glory;
  poverty — in all the world's riches;
  the world's greatest resplendent luster — to be darkness;
  the world's wisdom — to be folly;
  the world's beauty — appeared to me no better than deformity!

Yes, the soul whose love is fixed upon Christ, sees the superlative goodness, beauty, and excellency in Christ.

"Yes, He is altogether lovely! This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend!" Song of Songs 5:16

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Which would you really choose?

(Thomas Doolittle, "Love to Christ Necessary to Escape the Curse at His Coming!" 1693)

What the object of the love of the heart is — is object of the choice of the will. And such as is the choice of your wills — such are you.

If you choose the world before Christ — I dare boldly to call you a worldly man!
If you choose pleasures before Christ — I dare confidently to declare you a voluptuous man!
But if Christ is chosen before all other things — I may term you to be a truly holy man.

Suppose then the world, and all the riches thereof, and all the honors and the pleasures of it, were set on the one hand — and Christ on the other hand. Which would you really choose?

It is an easy thing to say that you would choose Christ, and not the world. But my question is: Which you would really choose?

Can you say, and appeal to God who knows your heart: "Lord, You who know all things — You know that I choose Christ before riches, Christ before pleasures, liberty, life, or anything that is dear unto me in this world. You know that I would rather have Christ without the world — than the world without Christ. You know that I would rather have the Lord Jesus with disgrace, with poverty, and with the cross — than all the treasures of the world!"

This must be a man's choice — or he cannot be said to have sincere love to Jesus Christ.

If Jesus is not loved above all — He is not sincerely loved at all!

"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other — or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." Matthew 6:24

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The greatest blessing — and the sorest curse!

(Thomas Doolittle, "Love to Christ Necessary to Escape the Curse at His Coming!" 1693)

As to be blessed by God is the greatest blessing — so to be cursed by God is the sorest curse!

"If any man does not love the Lord Jesus Christ — let him be Anathema! Maranatha." 1 Corinthians 16:22

To be accursed when the Lord shall come, will be to be cursed with a dreadful curse — so dreadful, as will make your joints to tremble, your knees to knock together, your faces gather paleness — for you will be cursed by God Himself!

Men will not be persuaded to love the Lord Jesus — but will . . .
  love their cups,
  and their lusts,
  and their profits,
  and their pleasures
 — better than Christ.

They love their sin — and not Christ!

They love the world — and not Christ!

Oh you non-lovers of the Lord Jesus Christ! When the Lord comes, you shall be cursed in all you are!

You shall be cursed in your BODY, and all the parts thereof:
  cursed shall be your eyes — which were as windows to let vanity into your heart;
  cursed shall be your ears — which hearkened to the enticements of sinners, but not to the commands and calls of God;
  cursed shall be your hands and feet — which acted wickedly, and carried you on in ways of sin.

You shall be cursed in your in your SOUL, and in all the powers and faculties thereof!
Cursed shall be your understanding — which was never enlightened with the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Cursed shall your will be — which never made choice of Jesus for your Savior and your Lord.
Cursed shall your conscience be — which did not effectually stir you up to look after, and to hasten to, Jesus Christ.
Cursed shall be all your affections — which were set upon the world and sin, which should have been placed upon Christ.
Those desires which ran out after vanity, which should have been upon the wing in moving after Christ — were cursed desires.
Those delights which were fetched from the creature, and from sinful objects — were cursed delights.
That hatred which you had to Christ and His ways, which should have risen against sin — was cursed hatred.

Thus where the love of Christ does not rule in the heart, sin is spread all over — so then the sinner shall be cursed all over.

To be Anathema shall be to be cursed with a bitter curse, without any ingredient of the least blessing to allay or mitigate the bitterness of it. Then he shall have . . .
  sorrow — without joy,
  mourning — without mirth,
  darkness — without light,
  pain — without ease,
  misery — without mercy,
  all evil — without the least good, and
  all this without end, and therefore without hope!

This cup of cursing, because it shall be so pure without mixture — shall be so exceedingly bitter, so inconceivably bitter! "He will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever! They have no rest day and night!" Revelation 14:10-11

This bitter curse, at the coming of Christ, shall embitter your thoughts, your soul, your very being — and make you cry out, "Oh this is a bitter place! This is a bitter state! This is a bitter condition — exceedingly bitter! My loving of the world and sin was not so sweet — as this is bitter; that seemed to me once as sweet as honey — but this is more bitter than gall!

But here is my woe, which makes it still more bitter: The sweet is gone — and the bitter remains! The sweet will never return — and the bitter will never be gone! I once put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter — but now I cannot! Oh! I never thought the sweet delight I took in what I loved, would have brought upon me this bitter curse, or me to these bitter torments!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The most suitable good!

(Thomas Doolittle, "Love to Christ Necessary to Escape the Curse at His Coming!" 1693)

A thing is desirable, because it is suitable. The suitableness of the object allures our desires and love.

Suitableness is the ground of love. A thing might be good in itself, yet, if we apprehend no suitableness in it to us — then the love of our hearts is not upon it. Therefore, in pain and sickness, a man judges ease and health to be better for him than gold and silver — because they are more suitable. A man in hunger and thirst, esteems bread and water to be better than honors and pleasures — because they are more suitable.

Love to Christ is grounded on the soul discerning the suitableness of Christ unto him. He says,
"Food is not more suitable to a hungry man,
 nor medicine to a sick man,
 nor clothing to a naked man —
than Christ is to me, a poor, sinful, and lost man — an undone, perishing, and damned man! For . . .
  I am naked — and He will clothe me with His perfect righteousness,
  I am blind — and He will restore my spiritual sight,
  I am enslaved to sin and Satan — and He will give me liberty,
  I am lost — and He will save me,
  I am guilty — and He will pardon me,
  I am polluted — and He will cleanse me,
  I am an enemy to God — and He will reconcile me,
  I am ignorant — and He will teach me,
  I am indebted — and He will be my Surety,
  I am poor — and He will make me wealthy to all eternity,
  I am a stranger to God — and He brings me into acquaintance with Him,
  I am unfit for Heaven — and He will make me fit to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light.

Love to Christ includes a discovery of Christ unto the soul, as the most suitable good.

In poverty, Christ will be my riches.
In disgrace, Christ will be my honor.
In bonds and imprisonment, Christ will be my liberty.
In pain, Christ will be my comfort.
In death, Christ will be my life.
In the loss of all things, Christ will be better to me than the enjoyment of all these things!

Though I have riches — yet I might be damned.
But if I have Christ — then I shall be saved!

Though men admire me — yet God might loathe me.
But if I have Christ — then the Lord will love me!

Though I prosper in the world, in all my pomp — I might be walking in the way to everlasting misery!
But if I have Christ — He will lead me in the paths unto eternal glory!

Look, O my soul, look around about you, and you shall find none so suitable to you, as the lovely Savior. Then He alone shall have my best love. Is there none for me like Him? Then I will fix my love on Him!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Therefore it is that He withers our gourds and breaks our cisterns!

(Mary Winslow)

How poor and unsatisfying are all things here below — even the best and the loveliest! Oh, to walk more intimately with Him, to live above the world, and hold the creature with a looser hand — taking God's Word as our guiding light and our unfailing spring of comfort!

God has eternally provided such a magnificent and holy Heaven for us above, that He is jealous lest we should set our hearts too fondly and closely upon the attractions of earth. Therefore it is that He withers our gourds and breaks our cisterns — only to dislodge us here, and lead us to seek those things which are above, where Christ our treasure is.

Let us keep our eye and our hearts upon our blessed eternal home. Earth is but a stage erected as our passage to the glorious place which Jesus has gone to prepare for us. What a place must that be, which infinite power and love has engaged to provide! Oh, let us not lose sight of Heaven for a moment.

How prone are we to allow our minds and hearts (treacherous hearts!) to become entangled with the baubles of this dying world. No wonder Christ exhorted us to watch and pray. Heaven is our home — our happy home. We are but strangers and pilgrims here on earth. Try and realize it. Let us keep ourselves ready to enter with Him to the marriage supper of the Lamb. In a little while we shall see Him — not as the "Man of sorrows" — but the "King in His beauty!" Then let us fight against this poor world and all its false attractions, for it is passing away.

Dearest Jesus! help Your pilgrims to live more like pilgrims, above a poor dying world, and more in full view of the glory that awaits them when they shall see You face to face!