JEWELS from JAMES
(Choice devotional selections from
the works of John Angell James)
Like a ball and chain around his ankle!
"Let us throw off everything that hinders and the
sin which so easily besets you." Hebrews 12:1
Besetting sins are powerful hindrances to Christian
progress. In the case of most people, there is some
one sin to which, either from their situation, taste,
constitution, or other circumstances—they are more
powerfully tempted than to others.
Satan knows very well what in every case this is, and
skillfully adapts his temptations to it. He is an expert
angler, and never chooses his bait, or throws his line,
at random! Independently, however, of him, the very
tendency of the heart is in that direction.
That one sin, whatever it is, while indulged, will hold
you back! You cannot make progress in holiness, until
it is mortified. Even its partial indulgence, though it
may be considerably weakened, will hinder you!
Study then your situation, circumstances, and constitution.
You cannot be ignorant which temptation and sin, you are
most liable to succumb to. You must know in what way
you have most frequently wounded your conscience, and
occasioned to yourself shame and sorrow.
Is it an unsanctified temper?
Is it an impure imagination?
Is it a proud heart?
Is it a vain mind?
Is it a taste for worldly company?
Is it a proneness to envy and jealousy?
Is it a love of money?
Is it a tendency to exaggeration in speech?
Is it a fondness for pleasure?
Is it a disposition to censoriousness and backbiting?
Study yourselves! Examine your own heart! You must
find out this matter, and it requires no great pains in
order to know it. It floats upon the surface of the heart,
and does not lie hidden in its depths. There, there, is
your danger! As long as that one sin, be it what it may,
is indulged, you cannot advance in the Christian life!
Other sins are like unnecessary clothing to the racer.
Besetting sins are like a ball and chain around his ankle!
Is this your religion?
"If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all
mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith
that can move mountains, but have not love,
I am nothing!" 1 Corinthians 13:2
LOVE is a grace which many professing Christians
think far too little about; but it is of infinite value
in the eyes of God. Love is the most characteristic
feature of Christ's image in a renewed man. Love is
the most precious fruit of grace; and yet the fruit
which too many of His professed followers seem to
think themselves hardly under any obligation to
Christian love is that benevolent disposition
or kindness, which consists in good-will to all
creatures, and which leads us, as we have
opportunity, to promote their happiness.
The apostle has given us a description of the
exercises of this noble and god-like principle.
"Love is patient" and forbearing under injuries
and annoyances—and does not revile, revenge,
"Love is kind," not harsh or crude—but ever ready,
willing, and pleased by looks, words, and actions,
to promote the comfort of others.
"Love does not envy." It does not pine and grieve
at the sight of another's superior possessions, fame,
happiness, or piety—and dislike him on that account.
"Love does not boast. Love is not proud." It neither
boasts its own gifts, achievements, and possessions,
nor despises others, nor makes insulting comparisons
—but is humble and gentle.
"Love does not behave unseemly." It modestly keeps
its place, and does nothing to offend by what is
unfitting its rank, station, or circumstances.
"Love seeks not her own." It does not selfishly want
to have its own way, or promote its own interest—to
the neglect of others.
"Love is not easily provoked." It governs its temper,
controls its passions, and is not soon or unreasonably
irritable or petulant.
"Love thinks no evil." It is not censorious, nor forward
to impute a bad motive to a doubtful action—but is
disposed to put the best construction on the actions
and words of others.
"Love rejoices not in iniquity—but rejoices in the truth."
It does not delight in the sins—but in the excellences
of an opponent.
"Love bears (or covers) all things." It does not divulge,
proclaim, aggravate faults—but hides them as far as it
can, and it is right to do so.
"Love believes all things," that are to the advantage
"Love hopes all things," where there is not sufficient
evidence to authorize belief.
"Love endures all things," bears hardships, sustains
labor, makes sacrifices—in order to accomplish its
purposes of good-will.
Such is love in exercise and act. This is benevolence
—this is a regard to the happiness of others. Whoever
acts thus, must promote happiness. He must bless all
around him. All things smile in his presence.
Beautiful description! Heavenly temper! Godlike mind!
Now, dear friends, look at love! Gaze upon . . .
its lovely form,
its beautiful countenance,
its graceful actings.
Observe its seraphic glow, its divine temper, until you
are all enamored with its charms. But look at it not only
as something to be admired—but to be possessed and
practiced. Unless this is your temperament, you are not
Christians. I do not say you cannot be Christians unless
you have love in perfection. But you must have the
principle of love, and must be living in its exercise. You
are Christians no further than you live under its influence.
No matter what knowledge you may have of the doctrines
of the gospel; what seeming faith you may possess; what
zeal you may manifest; what liberality you may exercise;
what regularity, and punctuality in attendance upon the
means of grace, you may maintain—if love is lacking, all
this is of no avail.
Nothing can be a substitute for love.
Christianity is love . . .
not a slavish attendance on ceremonies;
not receiving the sacraments;
not zeal for orthodoxy;
not a form of church government;
not belonging to any particular church.
God's eternal thoughts and purposes in election,
Christ's redeeming work upon the cross,
the Spirit's omnipotent agency in regeneration,
are not merely to bring us under a particular
ecclesiastical regimen—but to deliver us from
the dominion of selfishness, and place us under
the reign of love—and thus make us like God!
If an individual is destitute of love, he has no
saving religion. He may be zealous for the forms
of Christianity, but he is destitute of its living spirit.
And now, my dear friends, let me entreat you to
examine yourselves concerning this great essential
of the Christian character. Are you experimentally
acquainted with this disposition? Is this your
religion? Is your temperament thus molded? Is
that one word 'love' characteristic of your spirit?
Has God's love to you, changed you into its own
likeness? Do you know what it is to have pride,
passion, envy, malice, selfishness—subdued,
repressed, resisted—by a meek, gentle, lowly,
forgiving, forbearing, generous, self-denying
temper? Are the harshness, hardness, asperity
of the fallen nature, displaced by the softness,
sweetness, and kindness of true love?
They shall not swoon, nor halt, nor turn back
How full of encouragement is the language of the
prophet Isaiah, "But those who hope in the Lord will
find new strength. They will fly high on wings like
eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will
walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31
This beautiful passage contains a promise of continued
supplies of grace and strength to all who really desire to
serve the Lord with integrity and simplicity. In the image
of the eagle, the prophet alludes to the strength of wing
and of vision possessed by this noble bird—whereby it
ascends to a lofty height, untired and undazzled—soaring
even above the fogs and mists of the lower regions of the
air, mounting above the very clouds, undeterred by the
lightning, and floating in the pure azure above!
Thus shall all who hope in the Lord rise higher and higher,
upon the mighty wings of strong devotion, and with the
unblinking eye of faith—into the regions of heavenly
mindedness; and shall approach nearer and nearer to
God—the sun of our spiritual day.
"They will run" in the heavenly race, for the crown of
immortal glory, "and not grow weary." Their strength,
instead of being exhausted, shall, contrary to what
occurs in bodily effort—be increased by exertion. No
length nor greatness of labor shall be too much for
them. God shall pour into their souls, fresh energy
for every fresh effort.
"They will walk and not be faint." Their pilgrimage
may be arduous; the road may be long and rugged;
often up steep ascents, and down into deep and rocky
crags, where every step is a labor—but they shall not
lose heart or hope; they shall not swoon, nor halt,
nor turn back—but go forwards, sustained by a
power greater than their own!
Dethroned—but not destroyed!
"For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no
good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to
perform that which is good I find not." Romans 7:18
A Christian is truly regenerated—but at the same
time only partially sanctified.
Sin is dethroned—but not destroyed!
His predominant taste and disposition are holy—
but godly principles may not yet have struck
their roots very deep into his soul.
His holy purposes are somewhat vacillating, and
his inclinations to evil sometimes strong.
We have the burden of our fleshly corruptions to
carry, which without great labor and effort, will
sadly retard us in our Christian lives.
We are like a traveler who is on a smooth road, has
fine weather, is intimately acquainted with the way,
and has agreeable and helpful companions—but who
at the same time is very lame, or has a load to carry.
His lameness or his load will be a great delay to him.
His attention must be directed to these things. He
must cure the one or lighten the other, or he will
make slow progress.
A poor, weak, and trembling creature
"He will feed His flock like a shepherd. He will carry
the lambs in His arms, holding them close to His
heart." Isaiah 40:11
Dwell upon the love and tenderness of our Lord Jesus!
Notice who are the objects of His care—"the lambs,"
which means not only those of tender age—but also
those who have been newly converted; those who are
young in Christian experience; and also those whose
temperament is naturally timid, whose strength is
feeble, and whose danger is great.
Yes, you are the objects of Christ's special attention,
care, and solicitude! You are those whom He takes up
in the arms of His power—and lays on the bosom of His
love! He knows . . .
He will exert for you . . .
His tenderest sympathy,
His greatest vigilance,
His mightiest power.
This expression however not only conveys the idea of
great care of the weak—but the exercise of that care
with a view to their preservation and growth. It means
not only that He cordially receives them, will provide
for their safety, be concerned for their comfort, and
will accommodate His conduct to their needs—but He
will also nourish them through their infant existence,
and raise them up to maturity and strength.
Let every lamb of the flock of Christ, therefore, go to
Him by faith and prayer, and say, "Blessed Jesus, I
come to you as a poor, weak, and trembling creature,
doubtful of my own continuance, and alarmed at my
numerous difficulties and enemies. I am but a lamb,
and often fear I shall never be anything better. But
was it not in regard to such weakness that You have
been pleased to utter these gracious and tender words?
I flee to you as the helpless lamb to its shepherd—when
hungry, to feed it—or when pursued by wild beasts, that
he may defend it. Lord, take me in the arms of Your power
and lay me on the bosom of Your love—though I am so
poor and helpless a creature. I will hope in your nurturing
power and love, that I shall continue to grow, and that
You will one day rejoice in me, as one of the flock which
You have purchased with Your own blood!"
This pleasure-loving, pleasure-seeking,
and pleasure-inventing age
A taste for worldly amusements will inevitably prove,
wherever it is indulged—a powerful obstacle to growth
Man is unquestionably made for enjoyment. He has a
capacity for bliss—an instinctive appetite for gratification;
and for this, God has made ample provision of a healthful
and lawful kind. But "a taste for worldly pleasure" means
that this God-given capacity is directed to wrong sources,
or carried to an excess.
Now there are some amusements which in their very
nature are so utterly incompatible with true godliness,
that a liking for them, and a hankering after them, and
especially an indulgence in them—cannot exist with real,
earnest, and serious piety.
The dissolute parties of the glutton and the drunkard;
the fervency for the gambling-table; the pleasures of
the race-course; the performances of the theater—are
all of this kind. A taste for them is utterly uncongenial
with a spirit of godliness! So is a love for the gay and
fashionable entertainments of the ball-room, and the
wanton parties of the upper classes. These are all
unfriendly to true religion, and are usually renounced
by people intent upon the momentous concerns of
We would not doom to perdition, all who are at any
time found in this round of worldly pleasure—but we
unhesitatingly say, that a taste for them is entirely
opposed to the whole spirit of Christianity! They are
all included in that "world" which is overcome by faith
and the new birth.
True religion is, though a happy, a very serious
thing—and can no more live and flourish in the
uncongenial atmosphere of those parties, than
could a young tender plant survive, if brought
into a frigid zone!
But in this pleasure-loving, pleasure-seeking, and
pleasure-inventing age, there is a great variety of
amusements perpetually rising up, which it would be
impossible to say are sinful, and therefore unlawful.
Yet the 'supposition of their lawfulness' viewed in
connection with their abundance, variety, and constant
repetition, is the very thing that makes them dangerous
to the spirit of true religion.
A taste for even lawful worldly amusements, which
leads its possessor to be fond of them, seeking them,
and longing for them—shows a mind that is in a very
doubtful state as to vital piety.
A Christian is not to partake of the pleasures of the
world, merely to prove that his religion does not debar
him from enjoyment. But he is to let it be seen by his
"peace which passes understanding," and his "joy
unspeakable and full of glory," that his godliness
gives far more enjoyment than it takes away—that,
in fact, it gives him the truest happiness!
The way to win a worldly person to true religion is not
to go and partake of his amusements; but to prove to
him, that we are happier with our pleasures—than he
is with his; that we bask in full sunshine—while he has
only a smoking candle; that we have found the "river
of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the
throne of God and the Lamb"—while he is drinking of
the muddy streams which issue from the earth!
"Many are asking, 'Who can show us any good?'
Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord.
You have filled my heart with greater joy than
when their grain and new wine abound!" Ps. 4:6-7
After all, it is freely admitted—
1. That true religion is not hostile to anything
which is not hostile to it.
2. That many things which are not strictly pious,
though not opposed to piety—may be lawfully
enjoyed by the Christian.
3. That what he has to do in this matter is not to
practice total abstinence—but "moderation".
4. Yet the Christian should remember how elastic
a term "moderation" is, and to be vigilant lest his
moderation should continually increase its latitude,
until it has swelled into the imperial tyranny of an
appetite which acknowledges no authority—and
submits to no restraint!
One of the last lessons we effectually learn, is
that true godliness is a constant conflict in a
believer's heart—between sin and holiness.
Some sincere believers mistake a clearer view, and
deeper sense of their depravity, for an actual increase
of sin. The Christian seems sometimes to himself, to
be growing worse, when actually it is only that he
sees more clearly what in fact he really is!
In the early stages of our Christian life, we have
usually but a slender acquaintance with the evil
of our sinfulness, and the depravity of our heart.
The mind is so much taken up with pardon and
eternal life, that it is but imperfectly acquainted
with those depths of deceit and wickedness,
which lie hidden in itself.
At first we seem to feel as if the serpent were killed.
But we soon find that he was only asleep—for by the
warmth of some fiery temptation, he is revived and
hisses at us again!
Nothing astonishes an inexperienced believer more
than the discoveries he is continually making of the
evils of his heart. Corruptions which he never dreamt to
be in him, are brought out by some new circumstances.
It is like turning up the soil, which brings out worms
and insects, which did not appear upon the surface.
Or to vary the illustration, his increasing knowledge
of God's holy nature, of the perfect law, and the
example of Christ—is like opening the shutters, and
letting light into a dark room, the filth of which,
the inhabitant did not see until the sunbeams
disclosed it to him.
As your Biblical knowledge widens
There are many who regard an increasing acquaintance
with the text of the Bible, as an evidence of growth in
Ask yourselves the solemn question. In proportion as
you store your minds with biblical texts and biblical
ideas—are you all the while seeking to have your
heart filled with biblical feelings, and your life with
As you grow in acquaintance with the character of God—
do you reverence Him more? As your ideas brighten on the
person of Christ—do you love Him more? As you become
more acquainted with the perfection and spirituality of
God's Word—do you delight in it more? As you see more
clearly the evil of sin—do you hate it with a more intense
As your Biblical knowledge widens, do you become . . .
more profoundly humble,
more tenderly conscientious,
Unless this is the case, you are in a fatal mistake by
supposing that you are making progress in the divine
life, merely because you are advancing in biblical
We live by faith
"We live by faith, not by sight." 2 Corinthians 5:7
Faith is the root of all true piety. Christians need faith
for sanctification, consolation, and perseverance. Every
act of the spiritual life is an act of faith. Every step in
the spiritual walk is a step of faith. The Christian's
course is not one of merely 'doing', but of believing.
His prayers are the breathings of faith;
his works are the actings of faith;
his penitence is the tear of faith;
his joy is the smile of faith;
his hopes are the anticipations of faith;
his fears are the tremblings of faith;
his strength is the confidence of faith;
his submission is the acquiescence of faith.
Faith is the eye which looks at Christ.
Faith is the foot which moves to Christ.
Faith is the hand which receives Christ.
Faith is the mouth which feeds upon Christ.
It is not only by the activity of obedience, but by
the 'silent and passive power of dependence', that
the Christian is made strong and victorious.
"We live by faith, not by sight." Here is the reason
why so many professors are so worldly and so weak;
why they make such little progress, and such small
attainments. They are so much under the dominion
of sense, and are so almost wholly given up to a life
of sight, that they have neither time nor inclination
to look at the things which are unseen and eternal.
There is in them no habitual looking to Christ, no
abiding in Him, no vivid consciousness that all their
springs are in Him, and that it is from His fullness
they are to receive necessary grace.
We must prefer the invisible realities of eternity, to
the visible things of time; and amid all that is . . .
dazzling to sight,
gratifying to appetite,
and dear to passion,
by faith, spend a life of . . .
mortification of sin, and
separation from the world.
Be this then your sincere and earnest prayer, my dear
friends, "Lord, increase our faith!" Be willing to have
the world displaced from your soul, to make room for the
objects of faith! Be ever ready to come from the dazzling
glare of earthly scenes, to dwell in the calm and holy light
of faith. Study the Scriptures, and meditate much upon their
contents. Frequent and devout converse with the objects of
faith, is the best way to have it increased.
Watch diligently against the influence of those objects
which have a fatal tendency to eclipse faith's light, to
obstruct its operation, and enfeeble its life—namely,
sensual pleasure; eager pursuit of the world; and a too
intimate converse with those who mind earthly things.
To live and walk by faith
"The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of
God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Gal. 2:20
To live and walk by faith, is to come daily to Jesus in
the exercise of fresh dependence, fresh expectations,
and fresh devotedness.
To live and walk by faith, is to see more of His glory and
grace continually, and to rejoice greater in His unsearchable
riches, and inexhaustible fullness.
To live and walk by faith, is in all our conflicts, sins, fears,
weaknesses, and woes—to resort afresh to Jesus, with a full
persuasion that we are welcome, and thus ever to derive
strength and courage from Him.
A little more comfort, luxury, or elegance
"During supper, a woman came in with a beautiful
jar of expensive perfume. She broke the seal and
poured the perfume over His head." Mark 14:3
"She did what she could!" Mark 14:8
Have you, like your devoted sister of Bethany, done
what you could? Take an inventory of the means
which the Lord has put into your hands for honoring
Him, and then look over the list of your contributions.
What proportion does your annual giving to the
cause of Christ bear, compared to the cost of . . .
your ornaments and decorations,
Jesus did not withhold from you His very precious
blood! What are you willing to do for Him? What
beautiful jar of expensive perfume have you
broken, will you break for Him?
It is sorrowful to see professing Christians wholly
taken up in getting wealth for themselves—either
hoarding it up—or spending it in the luxuries that
constitute "the pride of life."
Consider, I entreat you, the different results of the
money you spend upon yourselves—and that which
you spend upon Christ. The money you spend selfishly
perishes in the using. The money you spend for the
cause of Christ acquires an imperishable existence.
What you spend in the comforts and elegancies of
life—and what you hoard unnecessarily—dies with
you, when you die. But the wealth which, under the
influence of pure motives, we devote to Christ, will
never die. It is immortal and incorruptible.
Oh Christians! how is it that we can cheat ourselves
of such heavenly felicity and eternal honor, merely to
have a little more comfort, luxury, or elegance here?
Why do we impoverish ourselves in the eternal world,
to enrich ourselves in this present world?
Oh God! Bestow upon us Your grace, that when
we meet You in judgment, we may hear this
commendatory testimony from Your gracious
lips, "They did what they could!"
Our recreations and entertainments
"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do,
do it all for the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31
Our piety should appear in our recreations and
entertainments, separating us from the follies
and amusements of the world; allowing neither
what is polluting, nor what is frivolous.
True piety should not only keep us from the
theater, the ball-room, and the public concert;
but should prevent us from turning our own
homes into the 'resorts of fashion', and the
scenes of light and dissipating entertainments.
A sublime fiction
"Their destiny is destruction . . . their mind is on
earthly things." Philip. 3:19
This is the description given by the apostle, of the
predominant taste and pursuits of the men of the
Sadly, this also describes a large proportion of those
who have 'professed' to come out from the world, and
to be a people separated unto God. How engrossed are
they, not only in the business, but in the cares, the love,
and the enjoyment of earthly vanities! Who would imagine,
to see their conduct, to hear their conversation, to observe
their spirit—so undevout, and so worldly—that these were
the men, who have heaven in their eye and heart, as their
eternal destiny? We would be inclined to think, that to
them, heaven is nothing more than . . .
a mere name,
a sublime fiction,
a sacred vision,
which, with all its splendor, has scarcely power
enough to engage their thoughts and fix their
regards! How little effect has heaven . . .
to elevate them above a predominant earthly-mindedness,
to comfort them in trouble,
to minister to their happiness,
to mortify their corruptions.
Can it be that they are seeking for, and going to glory,
honor, and immortality—who think so little about it, and
derive so small a portion of their enjoyment from the
expectation of it?
"Their destiny is destruction . . . their mind is on
earthly things." Philip. 3:19
"You ought to live holy and godly lives." 2 Peter 3:11
Holiness is a very comprehensive word, and expresses
a state of mind and conduct that includes many things.
Holiness is the work of the Spirit in our sanctification.
Holiness is the fruit of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Holiness is the operation of the new nature, which
we receive in regeneration.
Holiness may be viewed in various aspects, according
to the different objects to which it relates.
Toward God, holiness is . . .
delight in His moral character;
submission to His will;
obedience to His commands;
zeal for His cause;
seeking of His glory.
Toward Christ, holiness is . . .
a conformity to His example,
imbibing His spirit.
Toward man, holiness is . . .
Toward sin, holiness is a hatred of all iniquity,
a tender conscience easily wounded by little sins,
and scrupulously avoiding them; together with a
laborious, painful, self-denying, mortification of
all the known corruptions of our heart.
Toward self, holiness is . . .
the control of our fleshly appetites;
the eradication of our pride;
the mortification of our selfishness.
Toward divine things in general, holiness is . . .
spirituality of mind,
the habitual current of godly thought,
godly affections flowing through the soul.
And, toward the objects of the unseen world,
holiness is heavenly-mindedness, a turning away
from things seen and temporal, to things unseen
Oh, what a word is holiness! How much does
it comprehend! How little is it understood, and
how much less is it practiced!
Honor, wealth, and pleasure lose their charms
"Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey Your
word. It was good for me to be afflicted!" Psalm 119:67,71
Afflictions tend to wean us from the world—and to fix
our affections on things above.
We are all too worldly!
We gravitate too much to earth!
Our feet stick in the mire, and we do not soar aloft on the
wings of faith and hope into the regions above, as we ought.
We are like moles—when we should be like eagles!
Hence the need, and the benefit too, of afflictions.
How differently things look, when seen from the chamber
of sickness—or the grave of a loved one! Honor, wealth,
and pleasure lose their charms then, and present no beauty,
that we should desire them. We then seem to regard the
world as an impostor which has deceived us, and turn from
it with disgust!
The loss of a loved one, does more to prove the truth of
Solomon's description of the 'vanity of everything beneath
the sun', than all the sermons we have ever heard, and all
the volumes we have ever read!
The divine Craftsman
"God disciplines us for our good, that we may
share in His holiness." Hebrews 12:10
God does not afflict His children willingly. He takes
no delight in seeing our tears—or hearing our groans.
But He does take delight in . . .
doing us good,
making us holy,
conforming us to His own image, and
fitting us to dwell in His own presence.
He treats us as the sculptor does the marble under
his hand, which from a rough unsightly mass, he
intends to carve into a splendid statue—a glorious
work of art. Every application of the chisel, every
blow of the mallet, is to strike off some bit of the
stone, which must be removed to bring out the
figure in perfection, which he designs to form.
In our case, how much is necessary to be struck off
from our corrupt nature, before we can be brought
into that form and beauty which it is the intention of
the divine Craftsman that we should bear. How much . . .
must be removed by each blow of the mallet, and
each cut of the chisel, before the beauties of . . .
and all the graceful proportions and features
of His own image, can be exhibited in us.
The design of the divine Artist
"And we know that all things work together for good
to those who love God, to those who are the called
according to His purpose." Romans 8:28
In this present world, you may never see how the death
of your husband is for good. Many go all their lives without
having the 'mystifying characters' of the sad event deciphered
—and the secret workings of God's love laid open. They die
in ignorance of His plans—though not of His purposes.
The 'finished side' of the embroidery may never be turned to
you here; and looking only at the tangled threads and dark
colors of the 'back part'—all now appears to be in confusion!
But when the 'front view' shall be seen; and the design
of the divine Artist; and all the connections of the finely
embroidered piece shall be pointed out; and the coloring
shall be shown in the light of eternity—with what adoring
wonder, delight, and gratitude will you exclaim, as the
'whole picture' bursts upon your sight, "O the depth of
the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How
unsearchable are His methods! How unfathomable are
His ways! All things have worked together for my good!"
You shall trace together the providential events of your
earthly history. You shall learn why you were united—and
why separated. You shall see the wisdom and goodness
of those events, which once appeared so dark, and drew
so many tears from your eyes. You shall indulge in
reminiscences, all of which will furnish . . .
new occasions of wonder;
new motives to praise; and
new sources of delight!
You shall point one another to the vista of everlasting
ages opening before you, through which an endless
succession of joys are advancing to meet you! And
then, filled with a pure, unearthly love for each other,
you shall fall down before the throne of the Lamb,
and feel every other affection absorbed in supreme,
adoring love to Him!
Such a scene is before you! And since it is—then bear
your sorrows, afflicted widow—for in what felicities
are they to result—and how soon!
"And we know that all things work together for good
to those who love God, to those who are the called
according to His purpose." Romans 8:28
A lamb with a wolf's head!
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ
Jesus." Philippians 2:5
Christians should excel in the manifestation of Christ's
character. The mind which was in Jesus, should be in
them. They should consider His character as a model
of their own; and be conspicuous for their . . .
poverty of spirit,
It is matter of surprise and regret, that many people
seem to think that Christianity has nothing to do with
character! And that provided they are free from gross
sins, and have lively feelings in devotional exercises,
they may be as petulant, irritable, and implacable as
they please! This is a dreadful error, and has done
great mischief to the cause of God!
A sour, ill-natured Christian, is like a lamb with a
wolf's head! Or like a dove with a vulture's beak!
If there be any one word which above all others should
describe a Christian's character, it is that which represents
his divine Father; and as it is said, that 'God is love', so
should it be also affirmed, that a Christian is love—love
embodied, an incarnation of love! His words, his conduct,
his very looks—should be so many expressions of love!
"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving
each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be
imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children
and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and
gave Himself up for us!" Ephesians 4:32-5:2
The beauties of social virtue
A Christian should be very eminent for a right discharge
of all their social duties. Christianity, so far from loosening
the bands of society, adds to them incredible strength and
firmness, by motives drawn from the eternal world. One part
of the design of Christianity is to purify and strengthen the
social principle, and carry it to its greatest elevation and
A good Christian—and yet a bad husband, father,
brother, neighbor, or citizen—is an anomaly.
Professing Christians should excel all others in the
beauties of social virtue. True religion should give . . .
additional tenderness to the marital relationship;
greater love to the Christian parent;
loving obedience to the Christian child;
fresh kindness to the Christian employer;
diligence to the Christian employee.
The world should look to the church with this conviction,
"Well, if social virtue were driven from every other portion
of society, it would find a sanctuary, and be cherished with
care, among Christians." Then will Christianity have
attained its highest recognition upon earth, when it shall
be admitted by universal consent, that to say a man is a
Christian, is an indisputable testimony to his excellence
in all the relationships he bears to society.
"Beware of the dog!"
"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient,
bearing with one another in love." Ephes. 4:2.
There are some people whose feelings are like dry straw
—kindled into a blaze in a moment, by the least spark
which has been purposely or accidentally thrown upon it.
A word, or a look—is in some cases quite enough to be
considered a very serious injury! It is a common thing
for such people to excuse themselves on the ground that
'their feelings are so delicate'—that they are offended by
the least touch! This is a humiliating confession, for it is
acknowledging that, instead of being like the oak of the
forest, which laughs at the tempest, and is unmoved by
the tread of the wild boar—they resemble the sensitive
plant, a little squeamish shrub, which trembles before the
breeze, and shrivels and contracts beneath the pressure
of a tiny insect!
Delicate feelings!! In plain English, this means that they
are petulant, irritable and peevish! I would like to have a
sign hung around the neck of such people—and it would
be this, "Beware of the dog!"
We should never allow ourselves to be offended, until,
at least, we are sure that offense was intended; and
this is really not so often as we are apt to conclude.
Had we but patience to wait, or humility to inquire, we
would find that many hurtful things were done by mistake,
which we are prone to attribute to design. How often do
we violate that love which thinks no evil, and which
imperatively demands of us to attribute a good motive
to another's conduct—until a bad motive is proved!
Let us then deliberately determine, that, by God's grace,
we will not be easily offended. If such a resolution were
generally made and kept, offenses would cease. Let us
first ascertain whether offense was intended, before we
allow the least emotion of anger to be indulged. And
even then, when we have proved that the offense was
committed on purpose, let us next ask ourselves whether
it is necessary to notice it. What wise man will think it
worth while, when an insect has stung him, to pursue it
all day, in order to punish the aggressor?
"I will build My church." Matthew 16:18
The power of a church is simply a right to put their
own interpretation upon the laws of Christ, and to
obey His laws, in the way which they think will be
most agreeable to Him.
This is neither understood nor remembered with as
much distinctness as it should be. Hence it is a very
usual thing for churches to consider themselves as
met to make laws, and set in order the affairs of
the spiritual kingdom. A great deal is said about
"our church," and "rules that we have established
in our church." OUR church?! When did it become
OURS? The church is Christ's! The rules WE have
established?! The sole right of making laws, is with
Him to whom the church belongs!
The church is a kingdom, of which Christ is sole
monarch! The New Testament is His spiritual code,
and all the power we have, is to execute the laws
which He has already established!
In the whole business of church government, we
are to acknowledge His authority, and consider
ourselves as doing His will. Nothing is left . . .
to our will,
to our wisdom,
to our caprice;
but in all things we are to be guided by the
law of Jesus, as laid down in His Word!
In the choice of officers, in the admission of members, in
the exercise of discipline—we are not to act upon views
and principles of our own. We are to be guided by those
we find in the New Testament. We have no power to
legislate; but merely to interpret the His law—and obey.
When we meet, Christ is in the midst of us, not only by
His essential presence—but by His revealed will. Every
authoritative voice is hushed—but that which speaks to
us from the sacred Word of God.
When a new member is proposed, we are not to ask,
"Is he such a one as we think will add respectability
to our church? is he of long standing in the ways of
God? is he peculiar in his habits?" Our only question
is, "Is he one who Christ has received as His child?"
When a new measure is submitted for our adoption,
we are not first to inquire into its policy; but whether
it is in exact accordance with the general principles
and spirit of the New Testament.
Every act of church government must be an explicit
acknowledgment of the authority of Jesus, as King of
HIS church, and an act of obedience to HIS laws!
It is impossible for this sentiment to be stated too
frequently or too forcibly. It lays the axe to the root
of all the errors on church government, which have
crept into the world.
There is the image of Christ!
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in
Christ Jesus." Philippians 2:5
Press right home to your conscience the question,
"What do I have of the mind of Christ?" Does my
heart answer, does my disposition correspond, to
the holy, meek, humble, forgiving, benevolent,
patient, self-denying mind of Christ? Do men who
know the beauty and glory of the Original, as it is
delineated on the page of the gospel, when they
see me, say, "There is the image of Christ!"
Or do they look skeptically on, and after standing
in silence for some time, profess they can see little
or no resemblance? Oh, be satisfied with nothing
short of a copy of Christ's heart into yours!
A love for pleasure, diversion and recreation
One characteristic of our age is an ever-growing taste
for elegance, refinement, and luxurious gratification.
But just in proportion as we multiply the 'attractions of
earth'—is the danger of our making it our all—and leaving
heaven out of sight. This is now affecting the church, and
the godly and self-denying spirit of our practical Christianity
is in danger of being weakened, and of degenerating into a
soft and sickly wastefulness.
Elegance, extravagance, luxurious entertainments
and expensive feasts, are beginning to corrupt the
simplicity that is in Christ. And amid our . . .
costly dress, and
professors of religion are setting their affections too
much upon things upon earth, and turning away from
the glory of the cross—to the vanities of the world!
Akin to this, is a continually augmenting desire after
amusement, for which droves are constantly yearning.
A love for pleasure, diversion and recreation, is an
ever-increasing appetite—and there are those who are
ever ingenious and ever busy to supply its demands.
Men are continually inventing new kinds of diversions
and endless devices, to blot from the mind all
considerations of eternity.
The people, it is affirmed, must have recreation.
Be it so—but let it be of a healthful kind—a taste
for wholesome literature, quiet home enjoyments,
and, above all, the sacred delights of true piety.
Who will call them off from these 'painted nothings',
and make them feel how vain are all these things?
Who will set up a barricade against the billows of
this ocean of worldly-mindedness, and guard the
piety of the church from being entirely swept away
by a flood of worldliness and ungodliness?
Humility is the crowning grace, the finishing
stroke of beauty, and the brightest ray of glory,
in the Christian character.
A godly ministry
We can do nothing without a godly ministry. Of all
the curses which God ever pours from the vials of
His wrath upon a nation which He intends to scourge,
there is not one so fearful as giving them up to an
I trust our churches will ever consider piety as the
first and most essential qualification in their pastors,
for which talents, genius, learning, and eloquence,
would and could be no substitutes. It will be a dark
and evil day when personal godliness shall be
considered as secondary to any other quality in
those who serve at the altar of God.
No ministry will be really effective, whatever may
be its eloquence, which is not a ministry of . . .
true spirituality, and
Dead things never grow!
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.
He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit,
while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes
so that it will be even more fruitful." John 15:1-2
Why is it that so many professing Christians make
no spiritual progress, and indeed make no efforts
to grow in grace? Why? Because they care nothing
about it! To take up a 'mere profession' is all they
desire; but to proceed from one degree of piety to
another; to grow in grace—is no part of their desire.
What! No solicitude to have more . . .
experimental knowledge of truth,
faith in Christ,
likeness to God,
fitness for heaven!
No desire to advance in such things! Is it possible
to be a Christian and yet destitute of this desire
to grow in grace? No, it is not! I tell you, it is not!
If you have no concern to grow in grace
—there is no grace in you!
You are a piece of dead wood
—and not a living branch!
You are a spiritual corpse
—and not a living man!
In this state there can be no growth
—for dead things never grow!
This heavenly light of truth
"All Scripture is inspired by God, and is useful for
teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in
righteousness, so that the man of God may be
thoroughly equipped for every good work."
2 Timothy 3:16-17
The doctrines of Scripture are facts, which involve
corresponding emotions and principles of action,
and must, from their very nature, if believed, be
operative upon the heart and the life.
If the doctrines of Scripture . . .
exert no godly influence,
carry with them no practical weight,
exert no moral power,
they are not truly believed.
The doctrines of Scripture are at once . . .
the source of consolation, and
the means of sanctification.
The doctrines of Scripture . . .
come into the mind as knowledge,
produce peace and love in the heart,
and spread the beauties of holiness
over the character and conduct.
The doctrines of Scripture are light; and like the
rays of the sun, they sustain life at the root of
the vine, and produce fruit on its branches.
This heavenly light of truth gives . . .
spiritual vitality to the soul,
and holy conduct to the life.
"For our gospel came to you not simply with
words, but also with power, with the Holy
Spirit and with deep conviction." 1 Thes. 1:5
"Sanctify them by the truth; Your Word is truth."
I follow like a little blind child
"And we know that God causes everything to work
together for the good of those who love God and
are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28
Strong faith has a firm persuasion of God's over-ruling
Providence—so comprehensive as to include the destinies
of empires and worlds; and so minute as to extend to
individuals. Strong faith believes that God's Providence is . . .
ever controlling, and
all things to His own purposes and plans.
Strong faith is a conviction of this great truth—so deep, so
satisfying, and so tranquilizing—as not at all to be shaken
by the chaotic aspect of human affairs, or the prevalence
of gigantic evils.
A weak faith must give way before . . .
the deep mysteries,
the confounding events,
the defeats of what is good, and
the triumphs of what is evil,
which are perpetually going on in our world's history.
The stream of Providence is . . .
apparently so murky, and
occasionally so devastating;
that it requires strong faith believe that it is the
work of God and not of chance; and that if it is the
work of God—it must be just, and wise, and good.
In the darkest dispensations of Providence affecting
ourselves, strong faith realizes that it is all from God;
and must therefore be wise, and just, and good. To be
able really say, "It is well. I am sure it is right. I cannot
tell how it is right. I do not understand why this deep
afflictive Providence came. I can find no key to unlock
the mystery. But I am as confident that it is right, as if
God's whole purpose were transparent to my reason, and
I could see the event in all its connections, bearings, and
results. I cannot see how or why—but I believe that my
deep affliction is for God's glory and my ultimate benefit. I
know that God causes everything to work together for good."
Faith assures us that the darker, the more confounding, the
more disappointing events—are all right and just, and good.
Strong faith walks on amid shadows and darkness, grasping
the arm of God, believing that He is leading us, and will lead
us right. Strong faith gives up all into His hands, saying,
"I cannot even see a glimmering of light! I cannot see where
to place my next step! But I can most implicitly trust in the
wisdom, power, and truth of God! I follow like a little blind
child, grasping the hand of his father!"
Times of great troubles and difficulties, are seasons and
opportunities for the exercise of faith. God is always the
Christian's best refuge—and often his only one! He is
sometimes reduced to extremity, and is compelled to say,
"He alone is my rock and my salvation! My help comes only
from the Lord! No one else will help me—no one else can!"
Sense and reason both fail. No door of escape presents
itself—nor any way of relief. There is nothing left for him
to do, but to take up the promise and carry it in the hand
of faith, knock by prayer at the door of mercy, and as he
stands there to say, "Find rest, O my soul, in God alone!
My hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my
salvation! He is my fortress, I will not be shaken. Yes,
Lord, You have bid me come, when I could go nowhere
else. And here according to your command and promise I
will remain—waiting, trembling, yet believing and hoping.
I am sure You will come and help me. My heavenly Father
knows the necessities of His poor helpless child, and He
will come in His own time, and in His own way, and I will
wait for him. My bread will be given me, and my water
will be sure."
A cold chill fell upon their hearts!
It has frequently occurred, that young converts in the
ardor of their first love, and while much unacquainted
as yet, with what is called the 'religious world', have
looked upon the church as a 'sacred enclosure', within
which dwelt a kind of heavenly inhabitants, who could
think or speak of little else than the glory which awaited
them. In the church, these novices expected to find . . .
the sweetest and holiest fellowship,
an almost unearthly spirituality, and
an uninterrupted strain of pious conversation.
But alas! What a woeful disappointment did the reality
produce! In the 'sacred enclosure' they found worldly
minded professors—almost as intent upon seen and
temporal things, as those they had left out in the world!
In the 'vestibule of heaven', they beheld professors . . .
covered with the 'earthly dust',
disordered with worldly concerns,
and given up to worldly amusements!
In the church members, they saw little but worldly
conduct, and heard little else but worldly conversation!
A cold chill fell upon their hearts, which checked
the ardor of their pious affections; and even they,
lately so fervent, soon sunk and settled down into
the lukewarmness of those among whom they had
come to dwell.
Vacationing at resorts?
The line of distinction between the world and the
church is fast disappearing.
What shall be said of the conduct of some professing
Christians vacationing at resorts? It has become
almost one of the necessaries of life to Englishmen,
to pay an annual visit to the coast, or to one of our
inland places of resort. To say that this is wrong to
those who can afford to pay for it, is certainly not
my intention. But some professing Christians have
ruined themselves, and plunged their families into
poverty and distress, by habits of expense and
idleness, acquired by this annual excursion to the
sea. The taste of the age is for luxurious gratification,
and it is certainly one of these luxuries to while away
a week or two amidst the beauties of the coast, or
the mirthful throng of a fashionable lounging place.
I will suppose, however, that the professor can afford
the gratification; still, are not his spendings for this
enjoyment, out of all due proportion with his donations
to the cause of Christ? When did he ever give, in one
amount, to any Christian cause, what he gives, in one
amount, for his treat to his family to a resort? No, put
together all that he gives to the cause of the Lord for
a whole year, and does it equal what he spends upon
one vacation, lavishing hundreds—or thousands, in
riding into the country, or sailing on the sea, and
luxuriating in other ways on the shore.
When a world is perishing, and immortal souls are
sinking daily in crowds to perdition, a Christian
should look, with grudging eye, on almost every
dollar he spends in luxury!
Are there no 'perils for piety' in a vacation resort?
Temptations abound everywhere, entering like a
poisoned atmosphere into every place—but surely
no one will deny, that they are found in greater
number and force in those places, which fashion
has set apart for relaxation and amusement.
The mixed society to be found in such haunts of
pleasure; the amusements which are resorted to;
and the general air of wastefulness which pervades
the whole scene—are all uncongenial with the spirit
of piety, which flourishes best in silence and solitude.
Those who frequent vacation resorts, seem as though
the object of their existence is to spend it in pleasure.
Is this proper behavior for the self-denying, humble
followers of a crucified Savior?
It is indeed to be feared that some professing Christians,
when they set out on their summer's vacation, leave their
religion at home, in order that nothing may interrupt their
pursuit and enjoyment of pleasure. Many have gone to
places of fashionable resort to have their piety lastingly
injured; and some to lose it altogether. They started a
retrograde course in piety from that day when they
went joyfully and thoughtlessly to the coast in search
of recreation. Surely, surely, then, it cannot be thought
unseasonable or unnecessary to raise a warning voice,
and to make it loud and strong when it is becoming
increasingly prevalent among professing Christians to
seek in this species of gratification, a temporary release
from the "dull cares of home, and the plodding pursuits
A chameleon kind of religion
"So that you may be blameless and pure, children of
God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted
generation, among whom you shine like stars in
the world." (Philippians 2:15)
Saving religion is not merely an occasional act—but
a permanent habit, resulting from an internal principle.
Saving religion is a principle so fixed as to constitute
a new moral nature; and so steadily operative, as to
form an unchanging character.
A real Christian is a Christian always, everywhere,
and in all companies. He carries his piety with him
wherever he goes, as an integral part of himself. It is
not like his clothes which may be continually altered, or
varied to suit his situation, occupation, and company.
He needs his piety everywhere, he loves it everywhere,
and is commanded to let it be seen everywhere.
But among most professors of Christianity, there is
too much of a chameleon kind of religion, which
takes its hue from surrounding objects. This is seen
most conspicuously in the conduct of those who have
a flexible, yielding, easy-going kind of piety—which
accommodates itself to changing circumstances, by
little sacrifices of principle and consistency.
A golden image in the house!
It is quite evident that covetousness is indeed the sin
of the church. In this wealthy age and country, there
is imminent peril of professing Christians forgetting
their high calling, and living only to get riches. We see
them toiling and panting in pursuit of the golden object
It is not the possession of wealth that we should dread;
but the inordinate desire, the dishonest means, the undue
love, and the covetous hoarding of it! Wealth justly
obtained, and piously spent, is a blessing—not a curse.
I am quite aware, that it is difficult to have money and
not love it. It is hard indeed to have a golden image
in the house, and not worship it!
Wealth often produces the pride of life—so opposite
to the humility and poverty of spirit, which is essential
to the nature of true religion.
Wealth often generates a worldly-mindedness, which
makes its possessor contented with seen and temporal
things, and disposes him to mind only earthly things.
Wealth often leads to a prevalent feeling of independence,
so unlike that habitual trust and reliance on God, which
the Scriptures require.
Wealth often originates, and keeps up, both the care and
perplexity of getting, and the anxiety of disposing; and
thus exhausts the vigor as well as time, upon worldly
objects—leaving the soul neglected, impoverished, and
Wealth is the green and flowery mount from which
many have slid down into the bottomless pit!
Yes, wealth has a tendency to do all this, in consequence
of the depravity of our hearts, and thus to cast stumbling
blocks in the path of salvation.
"But godliness with contentment is a great gain. For
we brought nothing into the world, and we can take
nothing out. But if we have food and clothing, we will
be content with these. But those who want to be
rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and
harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and
destruction. For the love of money is a root of all
kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered
away from the faith and pierced themselves with many
pains. Now you, man of God, run from these things;
but pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love,
endurance, and gentleness." (1 Timothy 6:6-11)
The silent influence in parental conduct
Parents have a great power of influence over the
minds and hearts of their children. Their children
are almost continually with them—they are seen by
them in nearly all they do, in their habitual conduct,
and character at home. They are . . .
heard in what they say;
seen in what they do;
studied in all their behavior;
by little ears, and eyes, and minds,
which are scarcely ever closed!
The child's heart is soft and pliable to a father's or a
mother's influence. Their constant influence has been
molding him from the dawn of reason. What, then,
ought to be the parents' behavior at home? The whole
cultivation, and direction, and management of a child's
mind, from the very dawn of reason, should be carried
on with special reference to the formation of Christian
character. This should be the one thing, to which all
other things should be subordination.
The silent influence in parental conduct is far
greater, either for good or for evil, than most parents
are aware of. They teach by what they say, they
influence by what they do; and also by what they
do not say, and do not perform.
The pious parents, who embody a meek, benevolent,
ardent, and consistent godliness in their character,
exert a tremendous influence over the minds of their
But oh! the dreadful contrast in the case of those
parents who are characterized by . . .
mirthful and extravagant living,
trifling conversation, and
lack of all seriousness and spirituality.
Oh! what can be expected from such parents—but
children who regard their religion with disgust?
Every man is best known at home. Parents are
ever doing something to prejudice their children in
favor of true religion—or to prejudice them against it;
doing something to draw them into the church—or to
drive them into the world; lending a helping hand to
lead then to heaven—or taking them by the hand
and leading them to hell.
Parents! Must you employ your influence in ruining the
souls of your children—and sending them to perdition?
Oh! tremble at the interview you must have with them
at the day of judgment, and the dialog you must hold
with them forever in the bottomless pit!!
The evidence of genuine piety
The evidence of genuine piety is to be found in . . .
hungering and thirsting after righteousness,
sorrow for sin, and
a continual effort to regulate your thoughts,
feelings, and conduct by the Word of God.
Genuine piety will not thrive and increase without
effort—but is of so tender and delicate a nature as
to require great, constant, and persevering concern,
watchfulness, and care.
Encroaching, absorbing, and destructive!
"Their minds are fixed on earthly things." Phil. 3:19
This is a concise, emphatic, and accurate description
of a worldly man. His supreme, yes, exclusive desire,
aim, and purpose, is to get as much, and enjoy as much,
of the world as he can. He thinks of nothing else, and
wishes for nothing else. His hopes and fears, joys and
sorrows, desires and dread—are all of the earth, earthly.
The worldly mind has an exclusive regard to, and
wish for, earthly possessions and enjoyment. It makes
the world the highest object of pursuit, and the chief
source of enjoyment. This shows itself in various ways,
a love of pleasure in one;
avarice in another;
ambition in a third;
exclusive delight in home in another.
If a professing Christian partakes of this spirit, he is
worldly-minded. If he appears like one whose supreme
aim is to be rich and happy on earth; if he appears to
be continually intent on increasing his wealth and
multiplying his comforts; if he looks like a man
who is entirely occupied in enjoying himself here
on earth—he is a worldly-minded man.
You must resist the encroaching, absorbing,
and destructive influence of the world in all
its many fascinating forms!
Consider that you have . . .
a soul to be saved,
a hell to avoid,
a heaven to obtain!
Eminence in piety signifies our having all the parts
of the Christian character in considerable strength,
and in attractive proportions.
Eminent piety is always accompanied by . . .
a large measure of spiritual affections;
a struggle for universal holiness;
a desire and endeavor for purity of heart;
a prevailing taste for divine and heavenly things;
a walking with God;
a living by faith;
a setting our affections on things above;
a being dead to the world;
a mortification of sin in the heart;
a proneness to devout meditation;
a delight to hold communion with God;
a fondness for the Scriptures;
a large portion of love to the brethren;
an inflexible integrity;
a liberality for the cause of Christ;
an ardent love of biblical ordinances;
an enjoyment of the peace that passes understanding;
a frequent experience of spiritual joy;
an exquisite tenderness of conscience;
a mind which trembles at sin;
a constant penitential frame for our many imperfections;
a holy watchfulness against sins . . .
of the life,
of the tongue,
of the imagination
and of the heart!
Piety is not an abstract system of doctrine and
ethics. It is a constant movement of the heart,
to the splendor and attraction of the cross of
Love to Christ is the spring of all Christian piety!
This is eminent piety—to be always in sight of the
cross, having fellowship with Christ; so that we
shall truly comprehend the meaning and feel the
force of the Apostle's words, "for me to live is
A showy and expensive style of living
"Tell those who are rich in this world not to be proud
and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone.
. . . Tell them to use their money to do good. They should
be rich in good works and should give generously to those
in need, always being ready to share with others whatever
God has given them." 1 Timothy 6:17-19
It is the incumbent duty of rich Christians, to consecrate a
large portion of their affluence, to upholding the cause of
truth. Let them, in order to abound more and more in such
efforts, as well as to exhibit a bright example of pure and
undefiled religion, avoid all unnecessary worldly conformity,
and all expensive modes of living.
There is, in the present age, a disposition, even in professing
Christians, to a showy and expensive style of living, which
cannot be more effectually repressed, than by the plain and
simple habits of those who are known to have an easy access
to all the elegancies and splendors of life.
Rich Christians ought to be far more anxious to give—than
to hoard their fortunes. When we enter their mansions and
see magnificence in every room, luxury on every table; when
we see their extravagant dress and decor, we cannot help
saying, "How much ought a disciple of Jesus, who lives in
this manner, to give away to the cause of Christ, before
he is justified in such an expenditure!"
In short, the VICES to which rich Christians are more
particularly exposed, and against which they should
vigilantly guard, are . . .
love of money,
The VIRTUES to which they are called to exercise are . . .
gratitude to God;
humility and meekness to men;
frugality and temperance towards themselves;
liberality, together with tender sympathy to their
poorer brethren; and a generous regard to the support
of the cause of pure religion and general benevolence.
Not markedly different
When I look into the New Testament, and read
what a Christian should be, and then look into
the church of God, and see what Christians are—
I am painfully affected by observing the dissimilarity!
That worldly spirit to which our age of growing
selfishness and luxury gives rise, is exceedingly
adverse to Christianity, whose elements are
faith, hope, love.
The church of Christ at present, is sadly mixed up
with both the spirit of the world, and many of its
customs. The great bulk of professing Christians
are not markedly different from the 'followers
of pleasure' and the 'worshipers of Mammon'.
I am in agony in this fire!
The rich man called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on
me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water
and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire!'
But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime
you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad
things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony!'
It is a grievous fact that many an ungodly sinner walks in
a flowery path to perdition—and goes merrily to his eternal
ruin. It is, on the contrary, as certain that many a godly
Christian travels by a rough and toilsome road to heaven
—and ascends to glory amid many tears. Our Divine Lord
has set forth this in the most solemn of his parables—the
rich man and Lazarus. If we looked only at the outward
and earthly condition of these two men, we would say
one is the type of all that is felicitous; while the other
is the type of all that is miserable.
But who that looks upon their eternal abode, would not a
thousand times rather be Lazarus with his poverty, sores,
and beggary, feeding at the rich man's gate upon the crumbs
which fell from his table—than the wealthy possessor of the
mansion, with his purple and fine linen and daily luxurious
living! Look up at the one who has dropped all his poverty,
borne by angels to Abraham's bosom! And then look down
upon the other, stripped of his splendid garments, deprived
of his luxurious living, and from the midst of his torment
begging for a drop of water to cool his parched tongue—and
there see the end and outcome of 'sanctified poverty' and of
What a heaven!
Heaven will consist of . . .
the moral perfection of the soul,
perfect likeness to Christ,
perfection of the body in . . .
the presence of God in the full manifestation of His glory,
the beatific vision of Christ,
the fellowship of angels and all the redeemed,
the joint worship of the heavenly multitudes,
the perfect service of Christ, without . . .
complete freedom from . . .
Such is the substance of heavenly felicity. Take
any one of them by itself—and each is a heaven!
Add them altogether—and what a heaven!
How pure! How elevated! How felicitous!
Glance at the good which afflictions are calculated to effect,
and do effect in all cases where they are sanctified. As the
bee sucks honey from many a bitter herb—so faith extracts
good from bitter sorrows!
How sorrows crucify him to the world—and the world to
him; sometimes gently drawing him away from the world
—at others forcing him out as by a violent wrench!
How trials mortify his pride and cure his vanity!
How afflictions restore him from his backslidings and bring
him again to God from whom he has departed. How they
revive his lukewarm religion and quicken him in prayer. How
they make him feel that religion is after all his great concern.
Yes, there is more learned sometimes in one great affliction,
than from a thousand sermons, or a library of books!
He has some secret source of happiness
It is highly incumbent upon Christians, to take care against
a worldly spirit. They are in extreme peril of losing the
power of godliness from their hearts, and joining the number
of those, of whom it is said, in the expressive language of
Paul, that "they mind earthly things!"
Such earthlings look upon the possession of wealth as "the
one thing needful." Wealth is their chief object of pursuit,
the chief source of happiness. Nothing modifies or mitigates
their desire for riches. They are of the earth, earthly!
Now certainly a Christian is, or ought to be, of another spirit
than this! He should be industrious, frugal, and persevering
in his attention to the concerns of this world. But still there
should be in his mind, an ultimate and supreme regard for
the possession of everlasting life. He ought not to be slothful
in business; but then he must be fervent in spirit, serving the
Lord. He should be seen to unite the 'diligent worker' and
'sincere Christian'—and to be busy for both worlds.
The men of this world should be constrained to say of him,
"This man is as attentive to business, and as diligent in it
as we are; but we can perceive in all he does, an inflexible
regard to morality, and an invariable reference to piety. We
can discover no lack of diligence or prudence; but it is perfectly
evident, that his heart and highest hope are in heaven. He is
neither so elated in prosperity, nor so depressed in adversity,
as we are. He has some secret source of happiness, of which
we are not possessed! His eye is upon some driving force,
which we do not recognize."
What a testimony!
Who can obtain a higher one?
Who should seek less?
The last pang, and groan, and tear!
The Christian also looks to the end of afflictions! The end
may sometimes come in this world. In reference to this, the
utmost that the believer can be sure of is—that they will end
in God's time. They may last for his whole life. The sickness
which afflicts his body may be unto death! The loss which he
has sustained in his property may be irreparable, and poverty
may go down with him to the grave! The trial which beclouds
and distresses his spirits may be his lot for life! But on the other
hand, they may not! God may be bringing him "through fire and
through water to bring him out into a wealthy place." But the
Christian leaves this in the hand of God, and endeavors to
maintain a hope which shall save him from despondency—
checked at the same time by a reverence that guards him
from unwarranted presumption.
But if the end of the trial should not come in this world—it will
come in the next world—when they will not only forever cease,
but leave an eternal blessing behind! "I reckon that the sufferings
of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory
which shall be revealed in us!" "Our light affliction, which is but
for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal
weight of glory!" Four things are set forth in these passages.
1. Our afflictions will have a termination! This is sweet. They are
to end—they are not to last forever! The last pang, and groan,
and tear are at hand—and how near the Christian never knows!
2. Our afflictions are not to end like those of the brute creation—in
the grave merely—but in heaven! The last pang, and groan, and
tear are to usher in that blessed state of which it is so beautifully
said, "The Lamb who is in the midst of the throne shall feed them,
and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters—and God shall
wipe away all tears from their eyes!" Heaven shall terminate the
afflictions of the righteous!
3. Heaven is so glorious, that the first view of its scenes, and
the first moment of its enjoyment, shall make amends for the
longest life of the most protracted and intense sufferings!
4. The sufferings of our earthly pilgrimage will
enhance and increase the felicities of heaven!
Their submissive endurance;
the graces which they call into exercise;
the sanctification which they promote;
the heavenly temper which they cultivate,
will be the means of ripening the spirit, and
making it fit for its eternal inheritance!
Every tear that is shed;
every groan that is heaved;
every loss that is sustained;
every moment of suffering that is endured;
every disappointment that is experienced, which is borne
with patience, with resignation, with unwearied holiness—
will not only be followed with millions of ages of ineffable
felicity—but will prepare the soul for its enjoyment, and
add something to its weight and its luster!
If there are but two real Christians in the world
There appears to me to be, at the present moment,
a most criminal neglect, on the part of Christian
parents, of the pious education of their children.
That Christian who would carry on a system of pious
education with success, should enforce it with all the
commanding influence of a holy example. Let your
children see all the "beauties of holiness" reflected
from your character, and the grand outline of godly
virtue filled up with all the delicate touches and
varied coloring of the Christian graces.
Let your children have this conviction in their hearts,
"If there are but two real Christians in the world,
my father is one, and my mother is the other."
It is dreadful—but not uncommon for children to
employ themselves in contrasting the appearance
which their parents make . . .
at the Lord's table—and at their own table;
in the house of God—and at home!