William S. Plumer, choice quotes

(18021880)

 

The sooner we reach this conclusion

"Meaningless! Meaningless! Utterly meaningless!
 Everything is meaningless!"
Ecclesiastes 1:2


How vain are all merely earthly possessions!

How unstable is popular favor!

How uncertain are riches!

How soon our pleasures may be followed by pains!

When parents rejoice at the birth of a child, they
know not how soon they may weep over his dead
body, without an assurance that his soul is saved.

Solomon thoroughly tried the world. His sober inspired
judgment was that all was utterly meaningless! The
sooner we reach this conclusion
ourselves—the
wiser shall we be!

"Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the
 matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this
 is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed
 into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it
 is good or evil."
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14



God's chain and God's plan

God's ways are unsearchable.

God's judgments are past finding out.

God's compassions are infinite.

God's power is almighty.

God's wisdom is unerring.

"I know that You can do all things; no plan of Yours
can be thwarted."
Job 42:2


Providences are long chains with many links in them.
If one link were missing, the event would fail. But it
is God's chain and God's plan. The thing is fixed.
The outcome is not doubtful.

"My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.
 What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have
 planned, that will I do."
Isaiah 46:10-11


"The plan of Him who works out everything in conformity
 with the purpose of His will." Ephesians 1:11

"This is the plan determined for the whole world."
   
Isaiah 14:26



Having nothing—possessing everything

"Known—yet regarded as unknown;
 dying—and yet we live on;
 beaten—and yet not killed;
 sorrowful—yet always rejoicing;
 poor—yet making many rich;
 having nothing—and yet possessing everything."
    2 Corinthians 6:9-10
 

The Christian is a paradox. Because he has Christ, he
has the unsearchable riches of Christ. Believers . . .
  have full and free forgiveness of all their sins;
  are fully accepted in the Beloved;
  are clothed in Christ's spotless righteousness;
  are adopted into the family of God;
  have a perfect title to heaven through Christ;
  have God for their Father,
  have Christ for their Savior,
  have the Holy Spirit for their Comforter,
  have heaven for their home;
  shall be like Christ and with Christ forever;
  shall inherit all things;
  are sure of ultimate victory over . . .
    sins,
    the world,
    the flesh,
    the devil,    
    all sorrow,
    death,
    hell.


 

When God thwarts, afflicts, and mortifies us

Men are so ignorant of their own hearts that they are incapable
of determining what is best for them. Even regenerate men are
but partially sanctified and enlightened. But God searches the
heart. He understands our whole case. He knows what is most
for our good. He sees our strong corruptions and sad deficiencies.
When, in mercy to His child, He comes to heal his spiritual maladies,
He does not take counsel with human reasoning or desires. It is right,
it is best that He should act according to the wisdom which is infallible.
He employs the requisite remedies. Often they are distasteful to flesh
and blood. Sometimes they are frightful to contemplate, and terrible
to endure.

Then man, in his ignorance, too often says, "If God loved me—He
would not give me so bitter a cup to drink!" But this is man's folly.
Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? Shall human weakness
control divine power? Shall finite knowledge prescribe to omniscience?
It is the height of wickedness for a worm of the dust—to revise the
decisions, or pre-judge the justice of the Almighty. We would expect
that God would deal with us in an incomprehensible way—if we did but
remember how base, sordid, and narrow are our views and plans; and
how holy, glorious, and eternal are His purposes and designs.

We are quite prone to magnify both the good and evil things of time
—to the disparagement of those of eternity. But when God thwarts,
afflicts, and mortifies us
—He makes us look at the things which are
unseen and eternal. If He racks this body with pain—it is that we may
think of our house, not made with hands, eternal, and in the heavens.
The shaking of this clay tabernacle forces upon us the recollection that
this present world is not our rest—and that we ought to be seeking a
heavenly country. If the godliest man on earth had his own way without
divine guidance—he would soon be in full march towards destruction!

How kind is God in wisely and mercifully deciding so many things
for us! God very mercifully marks out our course for us. God is
governor. We are servants. To us belong obedience, submission,
acquiescence. It is not ours . . .
  to guide,
  to decide what is best,
  to rule the world,
  to shape the course of events.

"But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say
 to him who formed it—Why did you make me like this?" Romans 9:20


 

Such a God should be derided!

The unrenewed heart is atheistic in its inclinations.

"They say—The Lord doesn't see it. The God of Jacob
 doesn't pay attention." Psalm 94:7

"The wicked say to themselves—'God isn't watching!
 He will never notice!' Arise, O Lord! Punish the wicked,
 O God!" Psalm 10:11-12

Nothing more derogatory to the character of God can
possibly be said, than that He does not rule the world.

God reigns is a logical conclusion from God is. To deny
God's providence is as atheistic as to deny His existence!
A God, who neither sees, nor hears, nor knows, nor cares,
nor helps, nor saves—is a vanity, and can never claim
homage from intelligent men. Such a God should be
derided
—not worshiped! He might suit the mythology
of Paganism, or meet the demands of an infidel heart
—but could never command the allegiance, or win the
confidence of an enlightened and pious man!

The world may as well be without a God—as have one
who is incompetent to rule it, or, who, wrapping Himself
in a mantle of careless indifference, abandons creation
to the governance of puny mortals, to the rule of devils,
or to the sway of a blind chance! Such conduct may well
comport with the character of false gods—but is wholly
abhorrent to the nature of Jehovah! God's tender mercies
are over all His works. His kingdom rules over all!

"Our God is in heaven and does whatever He pleases!"
    Psalm 115:3

"For I know that the Lord is great; our Lord is greater than
 all gods. The Lord does whatever He pleases in heaven and
 on earth, in the seas and all the depths!" Psalm 135:5-6

"Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns!"

    Revelation 19:6

 

He leads me

"The Lord is my Shepherd; there is nothing I lack.
 He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads
 me
beside quiet waters." Psalm 23:1-2

He leads me. I certainly need someone to lead me.
I am so poor, so blind, so weak, so foolish that, if left
to myself, I would fatally err. Lord, never leave me nor
forsake me, lest I be undone. 

My Shepherd leads me gently and wisely. He makes no
mistakes. He knows the way I ought to go. He knows
how much sweet and how much bitter, are best for me.
He understands me fully. Oh, how He mingles mercy
with judgment!

True, He leads me often in a mysterious way. I see
not the end from the beginning. I cannot see afar off.
His footsteps are in the sea; clouds and thick darkness
surround Him. He gives account of none of His matters.
His judgments are a great deep. But He never does
wrong. He leads me in the paths of righteousness.

He leads me always—in prosperity and in adversity;
in joy and in sorrow. If He left me even for an hour I
would be undone. When I sleep, You, Lord, keep vigil
over me. When I awake, I am still with You. On the
land and on the sea, I am kept by Your mighty power.

He leads me—and I will follow Him. I will put my hand
in His—and go wherever His prudence shall direct.

"Teach me your way, O Lord; lead me in a straight
 path." Psalm 27:11

"From the ends of the earth I call to You, I call as my
 heart grows faint; lead me to the Rock that is higher
 than I." Psalm 61:2
 


 

I need just such a friend

Jesus knows all my wants and weaknesses; all
my sin and misery. He knows the malice of my
enemies, and the foolishness of my heart. He has
power to subdue my whole nature to Himself, and
to defeat the wiles and machinations of my foes.

His grace is all-sufficient.

His love is infinite.

His wisdom cannot be defeated.

His power cannot be resisted.

He has all power and strength—and I am very weak. He
has all the knowledge to understand my whole case, and
all the wisdom necessary to direct everything concerning
me. He makes no mistakes. He is never deceived. He is never
outsmarted. He knows all things. He knows my weaknesses.
He knows my sorrows. He knows my heart. His wisdom never
fails. He is never confounded or perplexed. He has as much
mercy and kindness as I need. His loving-kindness is so
great that we cannot fathom its top or the bottom—the
length or the breadth of it. The ocean of the Divine
love is boundless and inexhaustible!
It is infinite!

I have no sorrow to which He is a stranger.

He sympathizes with me in all my sufferings
and temptations.

I need just such a friend.

"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


 

A man's views of sin

Sin digs every grave, and wrings out every sigh and wail
from earth and hell. Sin is the worst of all evils. Nothing
can compare with it. It is worse than the plague. Sin is
unspeakably hateful. God calls it horrible and abominable.
Godly men in every age lament it—lament it much in
others, most in themselves.

A man's views of sin give a complexion to all his
character. If he regards it as a trifle, he will laugh at
it, when he should weep over it. He will make a mock
of it. He will dally with it. He will take his fill of it. He
will have low thoughts of God, and low estimates of
salvation. He will despise Jesus Christ.

If, on the other hand, he considers sin as very dreadful and
very hateful—he will hate every false way. He will long for
holiness. He will hunger and thirst after righteousness.
He will loathe and abhor himself on account of sin. He will
have exalted thoughts of the being, perfections, word, and
government of God. To him Christ will be most precious,
the chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely.

Job's sense of sin was vastly increased by the great
discoveries he had of God's majesty and glory: "I have
heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye
sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust
and ashes!" Increased views of God's glory had the same
effect on Isaiah, and made him cry out, "Woe is me! for
I am undone!" (Job 42:5-6; Isaiah 6:5).

God's presence is infinite; His power is infinite; His nature
is infinite; His existence is infinite; and so to sin against Him
must be an infinite insult and wrong. Sin is an infinite evil.
Sin is that abominable thing which He hates. He hates sin
with infinite loathing.


 

The daily business of a Christian

The daily business of a Christian
is to . . .
  resist the devil,
  deny himself,
  overcome the world,
  crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts,
  imitate Christ,
  walk with God.

 

Patience! Patience! Patience!

"But the fruit of the Spirit is . . . patience." (Galatians 5:22)

"With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love." (Ephesians 4:2)

"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience." (Colossians 3:12)

"Patience has various OBJECTS. Towards God it is resigned, and says, 'I will bear the indignation of the Lord.' Towards Christian people, who justly reprove us, it is meek, and says, 'Let the righteous smite me!' Towards wicked and unreasonable people, who love to see others afflicted, it says, 'Rejoice not against me, O my enemy.' Towards the trials under which we are called to suffer, it is not uneasy and rebellious, but rather gives them a kind reception. Under provocation it is gentle and not resentful." Plumer

"Christian patience blesses and curses not. It bears insults and injuries without malice. It is 'patient toward all men.' Under affliction it is quiet and submissive. It will use no wicked measures to relieve even great distresses. It is 'patient in tribulation'—even the most extreme sufferings. Under delays it is still and uncomplaining. It loves to leave everything in the hands of the Father!" Plumer

"Patience is that calm and unruffled temper, with which a godly man bears the evils of life." Buck

"Patience is that virtue which qualifies us to bear all conditions and all events, with such persuasions of mind, such dispositions and affections of heart, such external deportments and practices of life—as God requires, and good reason directs." Barrow

"Christian patience is a disposition that keeps us calm and composed in our frame, and steady in the practice of our duty under the sense of our afflictions, or in the delay of our hopes." Evans

"In regard of God, patience is a submission to his sovereignty. To endure a trial, simply because we cannot avoid or resist it, is not Christian patience. But to humbly submit because it is the will of God to inflict the trial, to be silent because the sovereignty of God orders it—is true godly patience." Charnock

"Christian patience is not a careless indolence, a stupid insensibility, mechanical bravery, constitutional fortitude, a daring stoutness of spirit—resulting from fatalistic thinking, human reasoning, or pride. Christian patience is gift and grace of the Holy Spirit, nourished by heavenly truth, and guided by scriptural rules." Mason

"Insensibility of God's hand inflicting trials, is as different from Christian patience, as a deathly coma is different from the quiet, soft sleep of health. Nothing kindles God's anger more, than neglecting His direct agency in sending the trial. It is a symptom of a wretched state of soul." Bates
 


The more worldly pleasure—the less happiness

I said in my heart, "Come now, I will test you with
pleasure—enjoy yourself!" But behold, this also was
vanity! I said of laughter, "It is mad," and of
pleasure, "What use is it?" (Ecclesiastes 2:1)

"Lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God" 2 Tim. 3:4

Many are not content, because they have so few worldly
pleasures. Yet it is commonly the case—that the more
worldly pleasure—the less happiness
there is.

The more pleasure—the more sin also!

The more pleasure—the more dreadful the last account!

The pleasures of sin are but for a season, and that season
is so short. The pleasures of sense are wholly insufficient
to give permanent enjoyment.

"All things are full of weariness beyond uttering. The eye is
 not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing."
    (Ecclesiastes 1:8)



He is tossed from vanity to vanity

"What shadows we are—and what shadows we pursue!"

"Humility is the mother of contentment."

"Those who realize that they deserve nothing,
will be content with anything."

When we become lifted up with pride, and think
we deserve something good at God's hands—it is
impossible to satisfy us. But with the humble is
wisdom, quietness, gentleness and contentment.
He who expects nothing, because he deserves
nothing, is sure to be satisfied with the treatment
he receives at God's hands.

The proud man is like a bullock unaccustomed to
the yoke. He is turbulent and fiery. He alienates
friends; he makes enemies. He has much trouble
and sorrow—where the humble man passes quietly
along. Pride and contentment do not go together.
Neither do contentment and carnal ambition. "Do
you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not!"
(Jeremiah 45:5)

Our actual needs are not many; but the ambitious
create a thousand desires and demands, which are
hard, if not impossible to meet.

He who is carnally ambitious, will not be content with
whatever he gains, because each elevation widens his
horizon, and gives him a view of something else which
he greatly longs for. And so he is tossed from vanity
to vanity
—a stranger to solid peace.

Are you ambitious for the things of this world?
Then you are your own tormentor!




Vain-glory, self-delight and pride

In practical piety, there is no greater mistake
than the persuasion that if we are pleased with
ourselves—that God is also pleased with us.

Vain-glory, self-delight and pride
blind, bewilder, and intoxicate!

On the other hand—shame for our own vileness,
sorrow for our shortcomings, self-loathing for
undeniable turpitude of our soul—are profitable.

Men must either part with their pride and good
opinion of themselves
—or they must part with
the hope of a blessed eternity. You must either
take your place in the dust before God—or be
cast down to hell.

"What a wretched man I am!" Romans 7:24

"I abhor myself!" Job 42:6

"Behold, I am vile!" Job 40:4

"Woe is me! For I am undone!" Isaiah 6:5



The great foster-parent

Saving faith is the great foster-parent of all
that belongs to scriptural piety. Faith begets . . .
  true worship,
  godly fear,
  devout thanksgiving,
  genuine humility,
  Christian boldness,
  holy joy,
  evangelical repentance,
  enlarged liberality,
  fervent love,
  a pure conscience,
  a holy life,
  victory over the world,
  eternal glory!

Faith gazes upon the cross
until the course of
the new nature is set on fire with heavenly love!

Saving faith . . .
  unites to Christ,
  lays hold of salvation,
  conquers every foe,
  brings every blessing into the soul,
  pronounces death abolished,
  always begets humility,
  is self-renouncing,
  consents to be nothing, that God may be all and in all,
  excludes boasting,
  is jealous for God's honor,
  brings forth forgiveness to enemies,
  begets repentance,
  nourishes other graces,
  ever clings to the fullness of Christ,
  kindles love to an unseen Savior,
  is ever laying its crown at the feet of Immanuel,
  puts things in their proper place,
  abases the sinner in the dust,
  sets God on the throne of universal dominion,
  pronounces all God's ways just and right,
  counts all things as loss, for the excellency
    of the knowledge of God's dear Son!

"True, saving, justifying faith carries the soul
 through all difficulties, discouragements, and
 natural impossibilities—to Jesus Christ!"
    (William Bridge)

"Precious faith!" (2 Peter 1:1)

If you desire . . .
  a useful life,
  a pleasant old age,
  a comfortable death,
  a blissful immortality—
believe God,
trust to His grace,
rely on His Son.

Rely on . . .
  God alone as your Father,
  Christ alone as your Redeemer,
  the Holy Spirit alone as your Comforter.




The sins of the godly and the ungodly

"No one born of God makes a practice of sinning,
 for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep
 on sinning because he has been born of God."
    (1 John 3:9)

He who regards sin with so little abhorrence as willingly
to commit it, cannot be walking in the way of holiness.
He who allowedly and habitually departs from God,
proves that sin reigns in his mortal body, and that
he is the slave of corruption.

The sins of the godly and the ungodly are unlike
in several particulars.

When the wicked depart from God, they cry, "Peace
and safety." When the righteous no longer maintain
a close walk with God, they say, "Oh that it were
with us as in months past."

In their wanderings, the wicked call themselves happy.
Having forsaken God, the righteous lose enjoyment, and
are filled with sadness.

The wicked sin perpetually. The righteous err from
God's ways—but only for a season.

The wicked are bent to backsliding. Hosea 11:7.
The righteous are betrayed into sin.

The wicked are as the sow wallowing in the mire.
It is their nature to work iniquity. The righteous
are as the cleanly sheep. If they are in the slough,
it is their calamity.

The wicked fill up their sin always. They cannot
rest until they have done some mischief. They dig
into hell. The righteous is not so. When he falls, he
shall rise again. When he sits in darkness, the Lord
shall be a light unto him. A just man falls seven
times, and rises up again. All his backslidings are
healed.




Godly men weep

"And he went out and wept bitterly." Matt. 26:75

We cannot have too low an opinion of ourselves;
or too high an opinion of Christ.

Godly men weep over the evils which
are found in themselves, such as . . .
  error,
  ignorance,
  prejudice,
  pride,
  self-righteousness,
  worldliness,
  levity,
  unloving tempers and dispositions,
  censoriousness,
  envy,
  sinful anger,
  hatred,
  a proneness . . .
     to remember wrongs,
     to indulge complaints,
     to forget mercies.

There is no plague like the plague of an evil heart!

There is no misery like the wretchedness of
'conscious vileness'.

There are no sighs so long and so deep-drawn
as those caused by indwelling sin. Though the
righteous shall not weep always, yet they may
weep bitterly.

"What a wretched man I am!" Romans 7:24

"I abhor myself!" Job 42:6

"Behold, I am vile!" Job 40:4

"Woe is me! For I am undone!" Isaiah 6:5

"Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" Luke 5:8



Carnal, careless, and covetous

One must judge of his own state by the fruit he bears.
When our fruit is unto holiness, we know that the end
shall be everlasting life. Everyone who hopes that he is
converted to God, should examine himself and prove his
own fruit. In judging of piety, there is no substitute for
a holy life. We are Christ's disciples—if we do whatever
He commands us. We are the servants of the wicked
one—if we do the works of the flesh. We may boast of
discoveries, of raptures, and ecstasies—but all is in vain
if a consistent life is not the result. A godly life is the
infallible evidence of conversion.

Many professors of religion are carnal, careless,
and covetous
. In them no change of life appears
to prove a change of heart. They are much like their
worldly neighbors, except that they attend church.
They are spots and blemishes in Christian feasts.
They are a grief and a shame to godly people. The
church has their names, but the world has their
hearts. The number of such is painfully large.



But God

No two things are more contrary to each other,
than the vileness of man and the purity of God.

Sin is hateful to God.
It has dug every grave.
It fills hell with groans.

"From the sole of your foot to the top of your
 head there is no soundness—only wounds
 and welts and open sores." Isaiah 1:6

The whole nature of man is affected by sin:
  the understanding is darkened;
  the will is corrupt;
  the conscience is defiled;
  the memory is polluted;
  the imagination is depraved;
  the throat is an open sepulcher;
  the tongue is deceitful;
  the mouth is full of cursing and bitterness;
  the feet are swift to shed blood;
  the eyes are full of adultery;
  the heart is deceitful above all things,
    and desperately wicked.

The whole head is sick,
the whole heart is faint!

Man is by nature ruined. He is lost. 
Men are . . .
  sinners,
  wicked,
  ungodly,
  unrighteous,
  corrupt,
  deceitful,
  vile,
  ungrateful,
  children of the devil,
  slaves of iniquity.

"But God, who is abundant in mercy, because
 of His great love that He had for us, made us
 alive with the Messiah even though we were
 dead in trespasses. By grace you are saved!
 He also raised us up with Him and seated us
 with Him in the heavens, in Christ Jesus, so
 that in the coming ages He might display the
 immeasurable riches of His grace in His
 kindness to us in Christ Jesus." Eph. 2:4-7



His all-seeing eye

"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


God is omniscient. His knowledge is infinite in
kind and extent. It is eternal. He knows all things
past, present, and future; all things that ever
have been, are, or ever shall be.

In heaven, earth, and hell, nothing is hid from
His all-seeing eye
. God knows the hearts of
all His creatures.

God also knows all things which ever could have
been, could now be, or could hereafter be on any
conceivable supposition. His knowledge embraces
all plans, all truths, all systems. God can neither
learn nor forget anything.


"His understanding is infinite!" Psalm 147:5

 

There goes John Bradford!

When others sin, godly men see what they themselves
were before conversion; or what they would have been—
but for the restraints of God's grace.

Bradford, an eminent servant of Christ, seeing a criminal
led to execution said, "There goes John Bradford—but
for the grace of God!"



Splendid sins!

Two things are required to make an action right. One is that
it be lawful in itself. The other is that it be done with a right
motive. If the thing done is itself wrong, no motives can make
it right. On the other hand, the thing done may be right in
itself, but the motive which governs us may be wrong, and
so the act may be sinful because the motive is sinful. Bad
motives in good actions are like dead flies in sweet ointments.
They corrupt the whole. The motive of the heart is everything!

Most unbelievers do many things which are very proper,
but not out of love to God. The unregenerate man never
does anything with holy motives. His life is better than his
heart. Indeed his heart is the worst part of him! It is all
wrong. It is hard, and proud, and selfish, and unbelieving,
and without any love to God. So far from pleasing God, all
the unregenerate are continually offending him. Their very
best works are but splendid sins!
They do some things
which God requires, and abstain from some things which God
forbids—not because they love God or His law, but because it
promotes their health, or wealth, or honor to do so.

Ploughing is itself a lawful act. If there is no ploughing,
there can be no bread. Yet God says: "The ploughing of
the wicked is sin!" Yes, he puts it down with other sins
which greatly offend him. The whole verse reads thus:
"A high look, and a proud heart, and the ploughing of
the wicked—is sin." Proverbs 21:4. If God had intended
to teach that everything done by wicked men—even the
most common and necessary thing was sinful—could He
have chosen more fit words?

Here is a passage which shows that all the religious services
of the unconverted, are defiled with sin. "The sacrifice of the
wicked is an abomination to the Lord." Proverbs 15:8.



God's abhorrence of sin

God's abhorrence of sin is more clearly expressed
in the cross of Christ, than in the flames of hell.



Wonderful mystery!

Wonderful mystery! God was manifest in the flesh!

Our Lord Jesus Christ became incarnate, lived, acted,
obeyed, suffered, died and rose again—for His people.

He came down to earth—that they might go up to heaven.

He suffered—that they might reign.

He became a servant—that they might become kings
and priests unto God.

He died that—they might live.

He bore the cross—that their enmity might be slain,
and their sins expiated.

He loved them—that they might love God.

He was rich and became poor—that they, who
were poor, might be made rich.

He descended into the grave—that they might
sit in heavenly places.

He emptied Himself—that they might be filled
with all the fullness of God.

He took upon Him human nature—that they
might be partakers of the divine nature.

He made Himself of no reputation—that they might
wear His new name, and obtain eternal excellency.

He became a worm, and no man—that they, who were
sinful worms, might be made equal to the angels.

He bore the curse of a broken covenant—that they
might partake of all the blessings of the everlasting
covenant, ordered in all things and sure.

Though heir of all things, He was willingly despised
of the people—that they, who were justly condemned,
might obtain an inheritance which is incorruptible,
undefiled, and which fades not away.

His death was a satisfaction to divine justice, a ransom
for many, a propitiation for sin, a sweet smelling savor
to God—that we, who were an offence to God, might
become His sons and daughters.

He was made sin for His people—that they might be
made the righteousness of God in Him.

Though Lord of all, He took the form of a servant—that
they, who were the servants of sin, might prevail like
princes with God.

He had no where to lay His head—that they who otherwise
must have lain down in eternal sorrow, might reach the
mansions in His Father's house.

He drank the cup of God's indignation—that they
might forever drink of the river of his pleasures.

He hungered—that they might eat the bread of life.

He thirsted—that they might drink the water of life.

He was numbered with the transgressors—that they might
stand among the justified, and be counted among His jewels.

Though He existed from everlasting, from the beginning,
before ever the earth was, yet He became a helpless infant
—that creatures of yesterday, sentenced to death, might
live forever.

He wore a crown of thorns—that all who love His
appearing, might wear a crown of life.

He wept tears of anguish—that His elect might
weep tears of godly repentance.

He bore the yoke of obedience unto death—that
they might find His yoke easy and His burden light.

He poured out his soul unto death, lay three days in
the heart of the earth, then burst the bars of death,
and arose to God—that they, who through fear of
death were all their lifetime subject to bondage,
might obtain the victory over the grave and become
partakers of His resurrection.

He exhausted the penalty of the law—that His redeemed
might have access to His inexhaustible treasures of mercy,
wisdom, faithfulness, truth and grace.

He was matchless in grace—that they might be matchless
in gratitude.

Though a Son, He became a voluntary exile—that they, who had
wickedly wandered afar off, might be brought near by His blood.

His visage was so marred more than any man—that His
ransomed ones might be presented before God without
spot, or blemish, or wrinkle, or any such thing.

For a time He was forsaken of his Father—that they, whom
He bought with His blood, might behold the light of God's
countenance forever.

He came and dwelt with them—that they might be forever
with the Lord.

He was hung up naked before His insulting foes—that all
who believe on His name, might wear a glorious wedding
garment—a spotless righteousness.

Wonderful mystery! God was manifest in the flesh!
Blessed is he who loves the incarnate mystery, and
rests upon it. It is a mystery . . .
  of love,
  of truth,
  of grace,
  of wisdom,
  of condescension,
  of power,
  of salvation!
It is the great study of the inhabitants of heaven,
and shall be while immortality endures!



When God pardons

One unpardoned sin would destroy a soul forever.

Many words in Scripture point towards forgiveness, such as:
  grace,
  mercy,
  peace with God,
  not imputing iniquity,
  taking away sin,
  bearing sin,
  making an end of transgression,
  covering sin,
  forgetting sin,
  not remembering iniquity,
  washing, cleansing and removing sin,
  casting it into the sea, or behind the back,
  scattering it like a cloud,
  burying it,
  blotting it out,
  pardoning it.

The forgiveness of sins is free. It is "without money and
without price." We can do nothing to merit it, or prepare
ourselves for it. When God pardons, He pardons:
  all sins,
  original sin and actual sin,
  sins of omission and of commission,
  secret and open sins,
  sins of thought, word and deed.

To those who believe in Jesus, all is freely forgiven.
Full pardon, or none at all, is what God gives. Nor is
this gift ever revoked by God. When He forgives, He
forgives forever!

"Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven,
 whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin
 the Lord does not count against him." Psalm 32:1-2



What devils never did

"You are the children of your father the Devil, and you love
 to do the evil things he does." John 8:44 

Such is the sad state of man by nature, that he bears a fearful
resemblance to devils. This truth is very abasing to human pride.

Unconverted men are like devils in the sense in which a child
is like a man, or a cub like a lion. All admit that devils have
no holiness. In this unconverted men are precisely like them.
They do not love God's law, or nature, or government. They
are alienated from Him, and opposed to all His attributes and
authority. They do not glorify Him, do not delight in Him, do
not find pleasure in thinking on His name. They choose sin
and death—rather than holiness and life.

Laws, public opinion, and God's providence now restrain
many; but the heart of unrenewed man is as wicked as it
ever was. It hates holiness.

In some things, the ungodly do what devils never did.
They reject mercy and grace, kindly offered to them by
the Lord. Devils never did that! You say—They never had
the opportunity. True, but they never did it. Neither did
they ever laugh at eternity, judgment and damnation.
They have too fearful a sense of the wrath of God to be
able to mock and jest at these most solemn things.

How dreadful is sin! It converts angels into devils, and men
into fiends! There is no unfitness in the arrangement which
God has made for having one great prison-house for all
His incorrigible foes. The very place prepared for the devil
and his angels—will be the final abode of impenitent men!

"Then He will also say to those on the left—Depart from
 Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for
 the Devil and his angels!" Matthew 25:41

How dreadful will hell be!


 

Nothing but the blood of Christ

Nothing but the blood of Christ can quench . . .
  the fire of God's wrath,
  the fire of lust, or
  the fiery darts of Satan!


 

Short-lived, imperfect and unsatisfying

"In Your presence is abundant joy; in Your right hand are
 eternal pleasures! Psalms 16:11

Here on earth—our greatest joys are short-lived, imperfect
and unsatisfying
. Nothing continues in a perpetually happy
state. All is unsettled, and easily marred. In heaven—all is as  
stable as eternity—all is as durable as the throne of God! All
flows from the bounty of an infinite God and Savior.

Here on earth—sorrows beset us in troops. In heaven—
  all sorrows cease;
  sickness, sadness and sighing flee away;
  bereavement never desolates;
  tears never flow;
  tempests never rage;
  temptations never vex;
  poverty, war, and death never enter;
  rust never corrupts;
  thieves never steal;
  weariness and vanity are forever unknown;
  sin never defiles;
  peace reigns unbroken;
  "the wicked cease from troubling,
   and the weary are at rest."

"Well done, good and faithful servant! Enter
 into the joy of your Lord!" Matthew 25:21


 

The great attraction of heaven!

"Your heart must not be troubled. In My Father's
 house are many dwelling places. I am going away
 to prepare a place for you. I will come back and
 receive you to Myself, so that where I am you
 may be also!" John 14

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

The great attraction of heaven is the Lord Jesus
Christ! He Himself is the object chiefly enjoyed. To
be with Jesus, and like Jesus, and to behold His glory
—constitute the heaven which true believers desire!
They long to behold that blessed face which was
buffeted for them! Their eternal anthem is, "All
praise to Him who loves us and has freed us from
our sins by shedding His blood for us! Give to Him
everlasting glory! He rules forever and ever! Amen!"
Revelation 1:5-6


 

There is none like Jesus!

"What is your Beloved more than another beloved?" Canticles 5:9

Our Beloved alone can do sinners good. His blood alone atones. 
He loved us unto death!

Jesus has at once an almighty arm—and a brother's heart!

None is more exalted—yet none stoops so low!

None is mightier—yet none is more tender! He shall not
break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax.

He is meek and lowly, merciful and mild—at the same
time He is the omnipotent Jehovah!

He enlightens, purifies and comforts the heart!

His word cannot be broken!

His power cannot be resisted!

The law of heavenly kindness is in His heart!

Great is His faithfulness!

His royal titles are . . .
  Wonderful Counselor, 
  Mighty God,
  Everlasting Father,
  Prince of Peace!

To the pious, Jesus is the source of . .  .
  all hope,
  all joy,
  all peace,
  all life,
  all comfort.

Jesus is still as gentle, as kind, as tender as when He . . .
  wept at the grave of Lazarus,
  gave eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame,
  or granted mercy to a wretch hanging by His side.

In Him dwell all excellencies!

He is full of grace and truth!

He takes poor, vile, ignorant, guilty, helpless
sinners—raises them to sonship with God, and
makes them partakers of His holiness!

There is none like Him—no, not one!

He is the chief among ten thousand!

He is altogether lovely!

Wherever He is, there is heaven!

There is none like Jesus!

"Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive
 power and wealth and wisdom and strength and
 honor and glory and praise!" Revelation 5:12


 

A day of great surprise!

"The hopes of the godly result in happiness, but the hopes
 of the wicked are all in vain." Proverbs 10:28

"When the wicked die, their hopes all perish." Proverbs 11:7

The day of judgment will also be a day of great surprise,
both to saints and sinners. So Christ expressly informs us:

"Many will say to me on that day—'Lord, Lord, did we not
prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons
and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly,
'I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!'" Mt. 7:22-23

Many will be saved, and many will be lost—contrary to the
judgments formed of them by their neighbors. But more
will be saved, and more will be lost contrary to the opinions
they had of themselves!

Christians
will wonder that they are saved, and how they are
saved, and they will wonder that they should be commended
for deeds full of imperfection.

The wicked will be amazed that they are lost, and how they
are lost; and especially that God puts no value upon their
self-righteousness.

The sons of God will receive more honor than they ever
thought of claiming; while the wicked will find their hopes
perishing one by one, and their lamp going out in obscure
darkness. Christians will wonder why they should be saved.
Unbelievers will wonder why they should not be saved. The
wicked will ask, "What have we done amiss?" The saved will
say, "All our righteous acts are like filthy rags!" The wicked
says he does the best he can. The righteous says, "Behold,
I am vile!"

"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the
 righteous to eternal life." Matthew 25:46

Nothing can reverse, nor arrest the judgments of that day.
Nothing can alter or vary the decree of the Judge. It shall
stand forever. The judgment of the great day will be
irrevocable and everlasting in its effects. It will bind forever. 


 

He never misses a sermon!

Though it is not profane, yet it is foolish to speak lightly of the
devil
. He is not a sacred person—but he is a dangerous person!
Thoughts of levity concerning him are quite out of place. They
throw us off our guard, make us secure, lead us to sloth and
carelessness—and thus to sin.

He who is our adversary, and has slain his thousands and tens
of thousands—is never more sure of his prey than when there
is least fear of him. He began his work of revolt in heaven,
afterwards invaded Eden, assaulted the Son of God Himself
with the greatest violence and rancor, and will always be busy
until he is chained down in the pit!

He has no pity. He is wholly malignant and unscrupulous.
To dishonor God, destroy souls, fill earth with woe, and hell
with the damned—is his trade and his delight.

The keener the anguish, the more pitiless the remorse and
the deeper the guilt of man—the more is Satan gratified.

He does all he can to make . . .
  earth like hell,
  men like devils,
  saints like sinners.

He delights in seeing all wickedness raging and rioting on
earth. He is the god of the men of this world. He commands
and they obey. He is the prince of the power of the air, the
spirit that now works in the children of disobedience. His
empire is built on usurpation and fraud, cruelty and crime,
blood and rebellion.

Satan rages, and hates, and lies, and murders.

His ways are various. Sometimes he appears as an angel of
light
. He has cordials for wounded consciences. He speaks
much of mercy. He delights in corrupting the truth. His great
object is to keep men from embracing Christ. He has much
to do with religious men and religious ordinances. He never
misses a sermon!
He knows that men can go to hell in the
pew of a church, as well as in the seat of a theater. If they
will rest in 'religious forms' and be satisfied with the ordinances
of God without the God of the ordinances, if they will go about
to establish their own righteousness—he will encourage them,
and help them to be joyful.

He frequents our closets, and there practices the same arts.

 

A low state of piety

A low state of piety paralyzes half the limbs of the body
of Christ. Cold and selfish, many never aim high. A low
estimate of evangelical doctrine makes many indifferent
to the teachings of Christ Himself.

Love is too cold.

Faith too often staggers.

Repentance sheds too few tears.

Joy has but few feasts.

Pity for the perishing too seldom stirs the soul to its depths.

Adoring views of God have too little power over men's minds.

Hope is too feeble to impart much animation.

The standard of Christian living and morals is low.

Sadly is the Christian profession compromised. Covetousness
has fearful power. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye,
and the pride of life—terribly prevail among professors.

Fashion is the Juggernaut of Christendom. Christ and Belial
are invited to the same feast!

A much deeper tone of piety is needed in all the churches.

It is a great fault in professors, that they do not
more earnestly strive to imitate Christ . . .
  in love,
  in gentleness,
  in tenderness of heart,
  in submission to the will of God,
  in zeal for the divine glory,
  in self-abnegation,
  in silence under unjust reproaches,
  in all His imitable virtues.

The highest honor we can render to the Lord
Jesus is honestly and earnestly to pray and
labor to be like Him.



Where is your treasure?

Where is your treasure? Where are your affections?

If the earth should be burned up, have you anything left?

"Moses chose to suffer with the people of God, rather than
 to enjoy the short-lived pleasure of sin." Hebrews 11:25

Like Moses, we all are passing through scenes, which are
manifesting our preferences. Had he chosen this world,
how different his history—and how sad his final destiny!
We must choose this world or the next. The present is
near, urgent, and flattering; but it is vain, fleeting,
and full of disappointment.



Hiding the truth

Then Jesus prayed this prayer: "O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding the truth from those who think themselves so wise and clever, and for revealing it to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way!" Matthew 11:25-26

The essence of this hiding the truth, consists in one's having eyes and not seeing, in having ears and not hearing, and in having a mind and heart—and not understanding. In some way, the truth reaches the intellect, and perhaps slightly moves the affections—but there it stops. It changes neither the heart or the life.

Thus one may be a clear expositor, or an apt teacher of many truths of the gospel—and yet never see its true force, nor apprehend its chief design. Pride and perverseness may hold him in such a state that he may not discern the real nature of the most glorious things. Sin hides the most precious gospel truths from the mind, as clouds hide the rays of the sun from the earth. A benighted soul is a lost soul. A state of darkness—is a state of guilt, depravity, and death. All sin produces blindness of mind. For their wicked rejection of known truth and duty, God, as a sovereign, hides the gospel from men.



The Catholic church

The Catholic church still adheres to her ignorant priesthood,
her sacraments of human invention, and her apostolic supremacy.
She is poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked—but knows it
not. She is far from Christ's precepts, far from His example, far
from His doctrines. In the pride of her apostolicity she renounces
every distinctive truth taught by apostles!

She, that has made the kings, merchants, and dwellers on earth
drunk with the wine of her fornications—holds forth other goblets
to the nations, saying: "I have perfumed my bed with myrrh,
aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill."

Follow her footsteps to any region of the world, and you find
that "the doctrine of the cross is least understood—where crosses
most abound." The lamp of God's Word is put under a bushel,
candles are substituted, and darkness becomes visible. It is a
grand error of the Romish church to keep, contrary to God's
will, the Holy Scriptures from the common people, thus taking
away the key of knowledge.



Universalism

Universalism teaches that . . .
  the wheat and the tares shall both be gathered into the garner,
  the sheep and the goats shall be forever in the same fold,
  hell is a fiction, and
  damnation a mere fabrication of the mind.



Heathenism

"The wicked freely strut about, when what is vile is
 honored among men." Psalm 12:8

What heathenism once was, it still is. The pencil of
inspiration has drawn a perfect portrait of it, Romans
1:21-32. For six thousand years the pagan world has
been seeking an image of the invisible God; and the
summit of its aspirings still reaches no higher than
the sun, or moon, or stars, or devils, or crocodiles,
or peacocks, or serpents, or images of gold, silver,
wood, or stone. Its morals never mend.

It is no marvel that when Satan is worshiped, there
should be found habitations of cruelty. Corruption is
and ever has been the alpha and the omega of
heathenism. All that is . . .
  stupid in the donkey,
  silly in the dove,
  filthy in the swine,
  fierce in wild beasts,
  venomous in serpents
—is fitly ascribed to heathenism!

From what abominations has the the gospel saved us!
"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the
kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the
sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male
prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor
the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers
will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what
some of you were!
But you were washed, you were
sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord
Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." 1 Cor. 6:9-11



 

Nothing but the cross

"They will look at Me whom they pierced." Zechariah 12:10

Nothing but the cross will . . .
  melt a hard heart,
  or bend a stubborn will,
  or give a death-blow to corruption.

A sight of hell never frightened one out of the love of sin. The
thunders of Sinai never made a rebellious heart submit to God.

Pliny, the naturalist, says that blood readily extinguishes fire.
The blood of Christ not only quenches the flaming wrath of God;
but it also extinguishes the fires of unhallowed desires in the soul.
It begets hatred to sin, and love to holiness.

When the Romans saw Caesar's bloody robes, they said, "His
murderers shall die!" And when by faith the sinner sees how
his sins crucified the Lord of glory—he will mortify his sins.




Learned heathen

The minds of the apostles were warm with saving truth.
The more fully the way of salvation was understood, the
more did they glory in the cross and in its power to save.
With them, worldly philosophies were as nothing. Learned
heathen
had wasted centuries in idle debates, in refuting
one another, and in deceiving mankind—but they had
effected nothing truly useful. Not a sinner was saved,
not an aching heart found ease, not an idol was abolished.
But when the gospel was fully and faithfully preached, it
wrought wonders. It saved men's souls. It was full of power.

Yet the wise, the scribe, and the disputer, had many
objections. They mocked; they caviled; they scorned;
they counted the gospel foolishness. They pretended to
reason. Their utmost powers were directed against the
cross and the person of Jesus Christ. They hated the
doctrine of atonement. It is even so still. Time, which
mends many things and wears out many things, has
not improved the temper of the carnal heart.



A great price paid for such sinful worms!

"For you know that it was not with perishable things such
 as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty
 way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but
 with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish
 or defect." 1 Peter 1:18-19


The moving cause of the redemption of sinners is not anything
good in them—but only the sovereign, eternal, and unchangeable
love of God. The procuring cause of redemption is the humiliation
and death of Christ. The end of redemption was the promotion of
the divine glory, as it marvelously illustrated the divine perfections.
The effect of redemption on man is full, complete, gratuitous,
eternal salvation!

God's people are redeemed from their sins by the blood
of Jesus—a great price paid for such sinful worms
—for such poor creatures!

Jehovah was the sole author of redemption.
He alone devised it.
He alone executed it.
He alone applies it.
"Salvation is of the Lord."



In the cross of Christ

Around the cross of Christ were assembled Jews and
Gentiles, men and devils. But in the cross of Christ
  justice and mercy,
  righteousness and peace,
  severity and compassion,
embrace and kiss each other.

In the cross of Christ we have the strongest
possible expression of benevolence.
The infinite dignity of the sufferer,
the unparalleled humiliation He underwent,
the debasement of those He would save, and
the utter impossibility of ever adequately requiting His love
—all show the amazing extent of the Divine compassion.

If any ever doubted God's hatred of sin, all such
uncertainty comes to a full end at Calvary. If God
would not spare His own Son, when He suffered the
Just for the unjust—surely He is the determined
enemy of all unrighteousness.

The scheme of saving mercy, evinces at once the
greatest love to the sinner—and the strongest
abhorrence of his sins!

In like manner it would be easy to show how God's truth,
and faithfulness, and power, and all His perfections—are
wondrously displayed in the cross of Christ.

The effects of redemption are glorious and elevating. He
who is saved from hell should be most of all struck with
his deliverance—most of all drawn towards his Deliverer!

They pass from the lowest depths—to the greatest heights!

They pass from just, total, and dreadful condemnation
—to full, free, and irrepealable justification!

They pass from a state of the lowest depravity—to a state
of purity and holiness fitting them for fellowship with God!

They pass from a state of inconceivable misery—to a state
of unspeakable comfort and joy!

They pass from a state of fearful estrangement from a
holy God—to a state of lasting friendship with their Maker!

Hearts must be harder than the rocks, if the love and
death of Christ do not move them! 



There is none like Him!

"He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
 Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

He is called Jesus, because He shall save His people from
their sins. Who deserves the name of Savior as He does?
He is called Christ, because the Spirit was wonderfully
poured upon Him. If Aaron's anointing filled his presence
with sweet perfume, the anointing of Christ fills heaven
and earth with a sweet fragracne. He is called Lord and
Master
, because He has perfect sovereignty over us.
None ever so worthily wore a crown or swayed a scepter.
He is called Wonderful, for His person, His birth, His life,
His works, His doctrines, Hs death, His resurrection, His
glory—all entitle him to that appellation. He is called
Counselor
, for none deals so prudently. He is the true
light, the infallible teacher of all His people. He is called
Jehovah
, because He is self-existent, independent, eternal,
and unchangeable. He has no empty titles, no insignificant
names. There is none like Him!

"His names and titles, which are more than two hundred
 in number, include everything which is great or glorious,
 amiable or excellent." Payson

"He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
 Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6



The only sure safeguard

The Bible is the profoundest book in the world. Other
books contain the thoughts of men; this is full of the
thoughts of God. It informs us of the nature, will, and
government of God
. It tells us when, where, how, and
for what man was made. It informs us of the origin
 and of the end of all things. Time, in its relations to
an eternity past and to an eternity to come, all the
loftiest themes of human thought, all the deepest
mysteries of human guilt and divine mercy, things at
once the most glorious and the most dreadful, are
discoursed of with reverent familiarity in the sacred
volume. All contempt of the word of God is therefore
foolish, dangerous, and monstrous. To abuse or even
to neglect the Bible is to covet death. To slight it is
to despise our own mercies.

The study of God's word greatly enlarges our minds,
and gives them extended views on the most sublime
and important subjects. A taste for the word of God
expels a taste for vain pursuits. The Bible is the only
sure safeguard
against heresy, fanaticism, and all
the wild disorders of mind and of society.

How I love Your teaching! It is my meditation all day
long. Your command makes me wiser than my enemies,
for it is always with me. I have more insight than all my
teachers because Your decrees are my meditation."
     Psalm 119:97-99



 
The attempt to criticize the God's proceedings

It is very dangerous to become involved in a labyrinth of
reasoning
concerning God, His character and providence.
We may safely follow wherever revelation leads; but we are
no judges of what is proper to be done under the government
of God. The attempt to criticize the God's proceedings is
always a failure and iniquity.

"The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things
 revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we
 may follow all the words of this law." Deuteronomy 29:29

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your
 ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are
 higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your
 ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55:8-9



 
The camel

"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than
 for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
Mark 10:25

Job's riches did not debar him from the kingdom of heaven.
By reason of depravity, riches tend to alienate the heart from
God. Yet sovereign grace can remedy that evil. He, who is rich
in this world's goods, and also rich in faith and good works, is
loudly called to sing the praises of Jehovah. Nothing but almighty
power could thus make the camel go through the eye of the
needle, or preserve the soul from the burning flames of insatiable
covetousness.


 

He was not a drunkard, nor a swearer

"Woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed!
 It would have been better for that man if he had not
 been born!" Matthew 26:24

Judas could heal the sick, raise the dead, and cast out demons.
He was first a disciple, and then an apostle of our Lord. He often
heard Christ preach. He held the only office of trust among the
apostles—the treasurer. His reputation for piety stood as fair as
any man's. He was not a drunkard, nor a swearer. Without
a murmur he bore all the fatigue of his apostolic mission. He was
not an envious man. He was not a slanderer, a reviler, a backbiter.
He displayed no inordinate ambition. He was not a brawler, nor a
violent man. And yet he was not a child of God. Mere negative
goodness, mere freedom from open vice—proves no man an heir
of glory.

One cannot do a wiser thing, than to inquire whether he has better
evidence of piety than the great traitor had during his apostleship.
 


 

Disaster

"If a disaster occurs in a city, hasn't the Lord done it?"
    Amos 3:6

"I form light and create darkness, I make success and
 create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things."
    Isaiah 45:7
 

"See now that I alone am He; there is no God but Me.
 I bring death and I give life; I wound and I heal. No
 one can rescue from My hand." Deuteronomy 32:39
 

<>Death is God's servant. The pestilence is His rod. The
wicked are His sword. Famine is His scourge. If the earth
becomes iron and the heavens brass, and glow like a
furnace—it is at the bidding of God. If blight and mildew
cut off the hope of the farmer—they are the messengers
of the Lord Almighty. Death and hell have no power but
from Him. He carries the keys of them both. He opens
and none can shut. He shuts and none can open. His
wisdom is unsearchable. There is none like Him. His
providence is felt everywhere. He rules all men good
and bad, great and small.



God reigns

"Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns!"
     Revelation 19:6

Let us firmly believe that God reigns. He is the Judge of
all the earth. This is a great truth. It cannot be too boldly
asserted, or too firmly believed. It is at the foundation . . .
  of all true religion,
  of all solid peace,
  of all holy living. 

The doctrine of providence is a great pillar of hope to all
godly men. It emboldens the timid. It confirms the wavering.
It converts cowards into heroes. It makes the simple wise. It
represses rashness. It is a rock of strength. But it must be
steadfastly believed.

"The Lord will reign forever. O Jerusalem, your God is King
 in every generation! Praise the Lord!" Psalm 146:10



This is a world of sorrows

"It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, since that is the end of all mankind, and the living should take it to heart. Grief is better than laughter, for when a face is sad, a heart may be glad. The heart of the wise is in a house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in a house of pleasure." Ecclesiastes 7:2-4

We come into the world with a cry, we pass through
it in tears, and we leave it with a groan!

This is a world of sorrows. This is a valley of tears.

The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning. Often is the heart made better by sorrow and sadness.

Sorrow gives luster to many a character. The Lord deals faithfully with His people. He never promised them ease or exemption from affliction. Jesus said: "In the world you shall have tribulation."

OUR TRIALS ARE FROM GOD

"Affliction comes not forth of the dust, neither does trouble spring out of the ground." Job 5:6

"When disaster comes to a city, has not the Lord caused it?" (Amos 3:6).

To a godly man, such doctrine is a great comfort. It is for a joy that God's government over evil is as perfect and constant as it is over good.

Surely, we should never forget that all our trials are by the appointment of God, who numbers the very hairs of our heads. Without Him, not a sparrow falls to the ground.


 

The cause of all our misery

"Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so
 great is His unfailing love. For He does not willingly
 bring affliction or grief to the children of men."
    Lamentations 3:33

God is the best, purest, kindest, most loving Being in
the universe. The judge of all the earth will do right.
He never errs, is never unkind. He is merciful and
gracious, abundant in goodness and truth.

God no more rejoices in misery, than He does in iniquity.
There is a cause for all the sorrows He sends. His justice
or His love, requires every stroke of His rod or His sword.
He never acts inconsistently with His wisdom, His holiness,
or His goodness. He never acts capriciously, but has good
cause for all His decisions and actions. The fact that He is
over and above all, acting with sovereign authority, shows
how fit it is that He give no account of His matters to us,
who are but worms, and vile worms at that.

Sin is the cause of all our misery. To cure this, and
rescue us from its power, God mercifully and lovingly
chastens us—yes, chastens us severely.
"God disciplines
us for our good, that we may share in His holiness."

Let us promptly admit that we deserve all our afflictions,
and say, "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail!" Yes, after our sharpest trials, let
us freely say, "God, you have punished us less than our sins have
deserved!" "He has not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded
us according to our iniquities!" Let us submit entirely to the
sovereign will of God.



The furnace of suffering

"I have refined you in the furnace of suffering."
 Isaiah 48:10

To some, afflictions are sanctified, and their moral
character is thereby improved. This effect always
follows where afflictions are received with . . .
  meekness,
  reverence,
  submission and
  true humility.

We lose our afflictions when we do not view them
aright, nor act wisely under them. "My son, do not
take the Lord’s discipline lightly, or faint when you
are reproved by Him; for the Lord disciplines the
one He loves, and punishes every son whom He
receives." Hebrews 12:5-6

Let us never forget that the Judge of all the earth
will do right, and that all opposition to His will,
whatever form it may assume, is criminal, and
leads to misery and shame.



The innocent for the guilty!

"But from Him you are in Christ Jesus, who for us
 became wisdom from God, as well as righteousness,
 sanctification, and redemption." 1 Corinthians 1:30

Christ well suits my case.

I am foolish and ignorant; Christ is the wisdom of God.

I am very sinful and guilty; Christ is the Lord our Righteousness.

I am very weak and without strength;
Christ is the power of God unto salvation.

I have no cloak for my sin; the merits of Christ
are the clean and linen white with which my poor
soul may be beauteously arrayed.

My tears cannot wash away my sins; but the
blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin.

In Him sinners boast the possession of greater
blessings than angels have—even redeeming
love and redeeming grace!

I am not required to bring any price in my hand.
Salvation is without money and without price. It
is well for me that I am not required to pay for
salvation. If I were, I would be forever lost. I am
a poor sinner—as poor as my sins can make me.
I have nothing to commend me to a just and holy
God. I deserve all the eternal punishment He has
denounced against me. I am guilty. I am all
unworthiness—but Jesus is worthy! I rely on Jesus.
He is all my desire and all my salvation. He has
borne all my curse! He has died, the just for the
unjust—the innocent for the guilty!



Observe—


"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
 He has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing
 in the heavenly realm, just as He chose us in Him before
 the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in
 his presence. In love he predestined us for adoption to
 himself through Jesus Christ, according to the pleasure
 of His will, so that we would praise His glorious grace
 that He gave us in the Beloved One." Ephesians 1:3-6.

Observe—

1. This doxology was written by Paul, a prisoner. No chains,
or bars, or stripes, could repress his adoring praises.

2. We may have all "spiritual blessings," when we have
few or no temporal blessings.

3. When the scriptural doctrine of election and predestination
offends people, it is either because they misunderstand it, or
because their hearts are not right. It filled Paul with praise,
and it is honorable to God. It is conducive to holiness.



The malignity of the sin of worldliness

Richard Baxter shows the malignity of the sin of
worldliness
, in several particulars.

1. It is a deliberate and intentional sin.

2. It is a sin against our chief interest.

3. It is idolatry.

4. It is contempt of heaven. Eternal glory is
neglected—and a miserable world preferred.

5. It shows that unbelief prevails in the heart.

6. It is a debasing of the soul of man.

7. It is a perverting of the very drift of a man's life.

8. It is a perverting of God's creatures to an end and use
totally contrary to that which they were made and given for.



Pharisaism dressed up in evangelical attire

"Little children, don't let anyone deceive you. The
 person who practices righteousness is righteous,
 just as He is righteous. The person who practices
 sin belongs to the devil." 1 John 3:7-8

Whatever does not lead to a holy life is worthless in
the sight of God. Man looks at the outward appearance,
but the Lord looks at the heart. All religious profession
which ends in mere show, is at the best Pharisaism
dressed up in evangelical attire
—the heart remains
unchanged. All pretenses to piety which do not lead
to a godly life—are utterly vain. Men people do not
obey God—because they do not love God.

There is no folly greater than double-dealing with
God. "A hypocrite is hated by the world for pretending
to be a Christian; and hated of God for not being one."



An infinitude of matchless loveliness!

"He is altogether lovely. This is my Beloved,
 and this is my Friend." Song of Solomon 5:16

Jesus is an ocean of love—an infinitude of
matchless loveliness!
There is . . .
  none like Him,
  none before Him,
  none with Him,
  none to be compared to Him,
  none besides Him.



 
No amount of worldly success

No amount of worldly success can ever satisfy
the lusts of ungodly men. Their ambition, pride,
covetousness, revenge, and envy burn the more
vehemently—the more they are gratified. To
indulge them is to give them fresh power. They
kindle a terrible, tormenting flame in every bosom,
which is never extinguished but by the grace of God.



A very great attainment

It is a very great attainment to lie passive
in God's hands, and know no will but His.



Especially beautified

"Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility." 1 Peter 5:5

Humility is lowliness of mind, the opposite of pride and
arrogance. It belongs to the essence of experimental
religion. A humble spirit is the opposite of a lofty one.
True humility is an inward grace based on a view of our
own guilt, weakness, vileness, ignorance and poverty—
as compared with the infinite excellence and glory of God.

Humility is one of the most lovely of all the traits of a
child of God. It is opposed to all ostentation. It hides
the other graces of the Christian from the gaze of
self-admiration. Its aim is not to be thought humble,
but to be humble. The godly man loves to lie low, and
cares not to have it known.

Humility will not disfigure, but adorn you. As Rebecca
was not the less lovely, but the more so, when she took
a veil and covered her beauty and all her jewels; so the
child of God is especially beautified when arrayed in
humbleness of mind. 



Invariable fruit

"If I have done iniquity, I will do it no more." Job 34:32

A holy life is the invariable fruit of genuine repentance.
"He truly repents of the sins he has committed—who
does not commit the sins he has repented of."

He does not really confess sin—who does not forsake it.

He who hates sin—turns from it.

It was not the habit of David's life to commit murder and
adultery, though he once did both; nor of Peter to deny
his Lord, and curse and swear, though he was once guilty
of both these.

A true penitent is not willing to be always sinning and repenting.



The height of wisdom and virtue

Implicit faith in man, or in any system of doctrines
taught by men—is great folly. There we have a right
to demand explanation, reasons, proof.

But when God says a thing is so
, the more simply,
promptly, and firmly we believe what He says, the better.
It is the height of wisdom to receive every word of God
as pure and true, asking no questions expressive of doubt
or distrust. And yet faith, even the simplest and strongest,
is not irrational nor foolish. No man acts so wisely as he
who implicitly believes God. The reason why faith is so
wise is, because it reposes confidence in God, who . . .
 cannot lie,
 cannot change,
 cannot fail,
 cannot be deceived, thwarted, or even perplexed;
 who sees the end from the beginning,
 who loves beyond love known to mortals;
 a God and Savior . . .
    who never trampled on a broken heart,
    who never despised the cry of the humble,
    who never left the penitent to perish in their sins,
    who will infallibly bring to eternal glory, all who
        take refuge in atoning blood.

Implicit faith in each God and in all His teachings in
Scripture, is the height of wisdom and virtue;
though implicit faith in any other, even in an angel
from heaven, would be folly.



This symptom should produce alarm

All serious declension in piety begins in negligence of
'closet duties'. These are—meditation, self-examination,
reading the Scriptures, praise, and prayer. A close walk
with God insures regularity and alacrity in performing
these duties. But an indisposition for them is one of the
first signs that spiritual health is failing. This symptom
should produce alarm.




We can go to hell without intending to do so


We go astray from the womb, speaking lies. It is
as natural for us to do wrong as for the sparks to
ascend upwards. In our voyage heavenward, both
wind and tide are both against us. If we do nothing
to overcome their action, they will carry us away.
We can go to hell without intending to do so,
without putting forth any efforts to that effect. But
to go to heaven requires prayer, self-denial, vigilance,
violence, running, wrestling, fighting.



You don't know

Because you say, "I am rich; I have become wealthy,
and need nothing," and you don't know that you are
wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.
Revel. 3:17

He who wishes to deceive himself, can usually do so.
It is no conclusive evidence that one is not a backslider
—just because he is not himself convinced of the fact.
Many grievously depart from God without being fully
convinced of their wrongdoing. It is a sad truth—that
all sin blinds the mind and hardens the heart. It is
very difficult to convince any man of his guilt.



How wicked he always has been

"What a wretched man I am!" Romans 7:24

We cannot have too low an opinion of ourselves,
or too high an opinion of Christ.

He who now complains so bitterly of his corrupt thoughts
and affections, is not a worse man than he was formerly;
but God is teaching him how wicked he always has
been
. Now the man sees how vile his heart is, whereas
once he took no notice of the swarms of evil thoughts
which passed through his bosom.

"I abhor myself!" Job 42:6

"Behold, I am vile!" Job 40:4

"Woe is me! For I am undone!" Isaiah 6:5

"Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" Luke 5:8

Though one be more vile than tongue can express—though
the heart be a sink of sin, a fountain of iniquity—yet he may
safely trust his cause with Jesus Christ.
We cannot have too low an opinion of ourselves,
or too high an opinion of Christ.



A contradiction!

A proud Christian is a contradiction!

Self-deceived professors do not grow in grace—for
they have none. They may increase in outward
manifestations and professions—but never in a
godlike temper.

True grace is a growing principle. Where conversion
is genuine, it will manifest itself more and more.

Especially do the Scriptures insist much on the
possession of a childlike temper and disposition.
Thus a little child is HUMBLE. The child of the king
and of the beggar, left to themselves, would meet
on the same level and freely mingle together. So
the true convert has such a sense of his own vileness
that he readily esteems others better than himself.

The change thus described is essential to salvation.
Unless we are turned from sin to holiness—iniquity
will be our ruin! We are naturally sunk down into sin;
yet "without holiness no man shall see the Lord."
It is only by a sound conversion—that we acquire
any genuine Christian virtue. This is a very solemn
and weighty truth. It should alarm the wicked.

He who is to be the final Judge of the living and the
dead has said, "Except you be converted, and become
as little children, you cannot enter into the kingdom of
heaven." Here is something declared to be absolutely
necessary.


 

Some sober and practical resolutions

"William Plumer, "Vital Godliness: A Treatise  on Experimental and Practical Piety" 1864

John Caspar Lavater, an eminent servant of Christ, died at Zurich in Switzerland, in 1799. He has left some sober and practical resolutions, which are but little known. They are:

"I will never proceed to any business, until I have first retired, at least for a few moments, to a private place, and implored God for his assistance and blessing."

"I will neither do nor undertake anything which I would abstain from doing if Jesus Christ were standing visibly before me, nor any of which I think it possible that I shall repent in the uncertain hour of my certain death."

"I will, with the divine aid, accustom myself to do everything without exception in the name of Jesus Christ; and as his disciple, will sigh to God continually for the Holy Spirit to preserve myself in a constant disposition for prayer."

"Every day shall be distinguished by at least one particular work of love."

"Every day I will be especially attentive to promote the benefit and advantage of my own family in particular."

"I will never eat or drink so much as shall occasion to me the least inconvenience or hindrance in my business."

"Wherever I go, I will first pray to God that I may commit no sin there, but be the cause of some good."

"I will never lie down to sleep without praying, nor, when I am in health, sleep longer than eight hours at most."

"I will every evening examine my conduct through the day by these rules, and faithfully note down in my journal how often I offend against them."



288 opinions regarding the way of happiness

A writer who lived more than a thousand years ago, tallied
up 288 opinions regarding the way of happiness. The
fact is, that man's lack of happiness results from the most
powerful causes—causes not capable of being removed but
by an almighty Friend. So long as man and society remain
in themselves what they are, more or less misery is inevitable.

For wise purposes, God denies us any cup of pure, unmixed
pleasure in this life. Every generation endures a vast amount
of misery. Poverty, disease, bereavements, commotions, make
many sigh. Many, like Job, are weary of life.

Yet mere suffering, without the grace of God, is unprofitable.
One of the most painful thoughts connected with a sight of the
woes of many is, that present sorrows are but preludes to
those which shall be eternal
. Most men mourn their lack of
health, wealth, honor, or success. How few deplore their
unconverted state and their multiplied offences against God.

 

The rules for domestic happiness

Domestic happiness requires the elements of:
truth, justice, consistency, humility, candor, gentleness and kindness from superiors;
respect, love, obedience, honor from inferiors;
truth, justice, tenderness and brotherly kindness from equals.

A profession of religion, when not accompanied by a cheerful and habitual performance of family duties—is worth nothing.

The rules for domestic happiness are few and simple. He who runs, may read. They are mighty. Who can but admire the effects produced in a Christian household by such maxims and precepts as these?

1. Be humble. "Pride only breeds quarrels."
2. "Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit."
3. Find your own happiness in trying to make others happy.
4. Mind your own business. Be not meddlesome.
5. Beware of a fretful, suspicious, or censorious temper.
6. "Overcome evil with good." "Bless and curse not."
7. "Love one another deeply, from the heart."
8. Do not magnify the trials or afflictions of life.
9. Beware of sloth. There is no greater enemy of peace and happiness.
10. Make it your business to serve God.
11. Keep out of debt. "Owe no man anything." Loans breed bad tempers and harsh dispositions.
12. Keep the ultimate purpose of life in view. This will repress many vain wishes and chasten immoderate desires.
13. Let your prayers be frequent and fervent.
14. Never listen to scandal nor backbiting.
15. Grieve not for things which cannot be helped.
16. Set the Lord always before you. Seek His glory. Do and suffer His will with readiness. Let Christ be all and in all. Trust in the Lord forever.

There is something peculiarly pleasing in the manifestations of the grace of Christ in a truly pious family, however humble their condition in life.

 

The only thing which God hates

So far as we know—sin is the only thing which God hates.

There are many filthy reptiles, unclean beasts and venomous
serpents from which we instinctively turn away; yet God's tender
mercies are over all of these. He opens His hand and supplies the
needs of every living thing. To the end which he proposed in their
creation, they are well adapted.

But sin in its own nature and tendency—is only evil. God abhors it.
Sin is the only thing which dishonors Him, grieves Him, vexes Him.
He is angry with the wicked every day.

Excess in many things is wrong—but no man fears or hates sin too much.


 

Remember that you are the son of a king!

When a prince was about to travel, he asked his tutor for some
maxims, by which to govern his behavior; and received this:
"Remember that you are the son of a king!"

Let all Christians remember that they are the sons and
daughters of the Lord Almighty, and "if sons, then heirs,
heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ!"



Justification and sanctification

What is the difference between justification and sanctification?

The answer is that they do not differ in their importance. Both
are essential to salvation. Without either we must perish. Indeed
God has inseparably joined them together. Christ Jesus is always
made sanctification to those, to whom He is made righteousness.

Nor do they differ in their source, which is the fiee grace and
infinite love of God.

We are justified by faith, and our hearts are purified by faith.
Faith is the instrument of justification. Faith is the root of
sanctification.

In justification sin is pardoned; in sanctification it is slain.

In justification we obtain forgiveness and acceptance; in
sanctification we attain the victory over corruption, and
obtain rectitude of nature.

Justification is an act of God complete at once and forever.
Sanctification is a work of God begun in regeneration,
conducted through life and completed at death.

Justification is equal and perfect in all Christians;
sanctification is not equal in all, nor perfect in any
—until they lay aside the flesh in death.

In justification God imputes to us the righteousness of
Christ; in sanctification He infuses grace, and enables
us to exercise it.

Justification always precedes sanctification.

Sanctification always comes after justification.

"Justification and sanctification differ in time and degree.
Justification lies at the beginning of the Christian life, and,
except in its consequences, does not extend beyond it, but
is instantaneous and complete upon our first exercise of
saving faith. Sanctification begins where justification ends,
runs throughout the Christian life, and is partial and
progressive, from measure to measure, until it reaches
its perfection in glory. In short, justification is God's act
for us, through the righteousness of his Son. Sanctification
is his work in us, by the power of his Spirit. Justification is
our title to Heaven. Sanctification is our education for
Heaven."



Born a heathen, a beast or a monster

Jesus replied, "I assure you, unless you are born again,
you can never see the Kingdom of God." John 3:3

This new birth we must all undergo—or be forever undone.

"All hangs upon this hinge. If this is not done, you are undone
—undone eternally! All your profession, civility, privileges, gifts,
and duties are ciphers, and signify nothing—unless regeneration
is the figure put in front of them."

Better to have been born a heathen, a beast or a monster;
yes, better never to have been born at all—than not to be born
again! "I assure you, unless you are born again, you can never
see the Kingdom of God." John 3:3



I am not what I once was!

In his old age, when he could no longer see to read, John
Newton heard someone recite this text, "By the grace of God
I am what I am." He remained silent a short time and then,
as if speaking to himself, he said: "I am not what I ought to
be. Ah, how imperfect and deficient! I am not what I wish to
be. I abhor that which is evil, and I would cleave to that which
is good. I am not what I hope to be. Soon, soon I shall put off
mortality, and with mortality all sin and imperfection. Though
I am not what I ought to be, what I wish to be, and what I
hope to be; yet I can truly say, I am not what I once was
—a slave to sin and Satan! I can heartily join with the apostle
and acknowledge—By the grace of God I am what I am!"



They love it!

"Man, who is vile and corrupt, who drinks up evil like water!"
    Job 15:16

The unconverted live in sin—they sin all the time. It is their
trade—they work hard at it. They love it, and are greedy of
iniquity. They "dig up evil." They "fill up their sin ALWAYS."
They "ALWAYS resist the Holy Spirit." Never for an hour do
they love God supremely. Unregenerate men sin always—
they do nothing but sin against God.

All the unregenerate do nothing but sin. If for a while they
seem to reform, they soon return to their wickedness, as
the dog to his vomit, or the sow that was washed to her
wallowing in the mire.

Neither mercies,
nor judgments,
nor promises,
nor threatenings,
nor hopes,
nor fears
—without the grace of Christ—will or can ever cure
the love of sin, or arrest the practice of sin.

"The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject
 to the law of God, neither indeed can be." Romans 8:7

 

Deceitful & desperately wicked

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately
 wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?" Jeremiah 17:9

Man is the only creature on earth that seems to practice
self-deception. That we should sometimes deceive others
is proof of our depravity; but that we should spend our
lives in self-deception is truly astonishing. Men of the
fewest virtues commonly have the highest thoughts of
themselves. How strange and yet how common that he,
whose heart has deceived him a thousand times, should
yet confide in it as if it had always been honest!

The human heart deceives every being but one. It would
deceive Him, if He were not omniscient. None but God
knows all the depths of iniquity and duplicity within us.

Though the language of the Bible is strong, it is just. God
declares, and every Christian knows by sad experience—that
his heart is deceitful above all things. A perfect knowledge
of the treachery of our hearts is possessed by none but God.

The heart is also VILE. It is "desperately wicked." It loves
vanity, and folly, and sin. It hates holiness, and truth, and
divine restraints. It is a sink of iniquity, a pool of pestilential
waters, a cage of unclean birds, a sepulcher full of dead men's
bones. It is torn by wild, fierce, unhallowed passions. It rejects
good and chooses evil. It is wholly corrupt. It is full of evil.
There is no soundness in it. "For from the heart come evil
thoughts, murder, adultery, all other sexual immorality,
theft, lying, and slander." Matthew 15:19

"He who trusts in his own heart is a fool." Proverbs 28:26



Good for nothing!

Surely, the fruit of the Spirit—"love, joy, peace, patience,
gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance," are
very different and very distinguishable from the works of
the flesh. In some measure these graces belong to all
who are born from above. The great test of personal piety
is personal holiness:
  a meek, forgiving temper,
  a serious, devout spirit,
  a tender, grateful heart,
  a chaste, pious conversation,
  a consistent, holy life.

An alleged work of grace on the heart, which leaves
the life wicked—is good for nothing! A life of holiness
is an infallible evidence that we are God's people.

"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared
 to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and
 worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and
 godly lives in this present age." Titus 2:11-12



Gospel holiness

It is by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that the work
of purifying our natures is carried on to completion.

Gospel holiness is inward, personal, spiritual—of the heart.

The beginning of sanctification, is regeneration.

The measure of sanctification, is the word of God.

The author of sanctification, is the Spirit of God.

The source of sanctification, is the mediation of Christ.

The necessity of sanctification, is laid in God's spotless
holiness and in man's wicked enmity and utter helplessness.

The end of sanctification, is eternal life.



If he could have things as he would

The child of God is becoming more and more like God.
The wicked wax worse and worse.

The saint longs for God's salvation. The sinner sleeps
not, except he has done some mischief.

The heart of a believer is the best part about him.
If he could have things as he would, he would
never sin any more.

The life of an unconverted man is not nearly so bad
as his heart. He is restrained in many ways from acting
out the worst that is in him.

The godly man blushes at a sinful thought. The unbeliever
loves to have vain thoughts lodge within him.

It is the business of a godly man's life to please God
and strive after holiness. It is the business of a sinner's
life to please himself and commit sin.



There is no difference between
the elect and the non-elect


This love of Christ shown in regeneration is exercised in a
sovereign way. "Of his own will, he begat us." Those who
receive Christ Jesus are "born, not of blood, nor of the will
of the flesh, nor of the will of man—but of God." The vessels
to honor and those to dishonor are made "from the same
lump of clay." By nature there is no difference between
the elect and the non-elect
.

Zaccheus as vile and greedy a worldling, as the rich man, who
lifted up his eyes in hell. The thief who cried, 'Lord, remember
me,' was as guilty and criminal as he, who perished, reviling
the dying Savior. Manasseh was for half a century wholly
corrupt and hardened, covered with sins and crimes, yet he
was saved; while the young ruler, who was so amiable as to
draw forth the natural affections of Christ, persisted in his
covetousness, and perished.



The mere mercy of God

It is the mere mercy of God, which keeps a sinner out
of hell even for an hour!



These are his gods

The unbeliever has many objects of love. He loves the world
and the things of the world. When he prospers in worldly
things—he counts himself happy. He is greatly pleased with
gold and silver, and objects of sense, and works of art.
These are his gods, because he sets his heart on them.
He thinks of them ten times as much and a thousand times
as eagerly—as he thinks of God.

What makes his case worse is that he is commonly much
at ease. He is well pleased with himself. He is not sighing
over and lamenting his sins. He thinks he is good enough!
His real belief is that God could not righteously and forever
condemn him!



Wholly and absolutely indebted

As a sinner, man can neither commend nor convert himself
to God.

He cannot atone for his sins,
he cannot satisfy divine justice,
he cannot subdue his own iniquities,
he cannot perform any holy action.

In the work of salvation, we are wholly and absolutely
indebted
to the Lord Jesus Christ for reconciliation with God.

We are equally indebted to the Holy Spirit . . .
  for all right perceptions of truth,
  for all really good desires and proper motives,
  for all spiritual strength and power to do good.

Truly all our hope is in free grace alone! In all things,
at all times we need the grace of Christ.



 
One believing view of Christ

"And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants
 of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look
 on Me, the one they have pierced
, and they will mourn for
 Him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for Him
 as one grieves for a firstborn son." "On that day a fountain will be
 opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
 to cleanse them from sin and impurity. On that day, I will banish
 the names of the idols from the land, and they will be remembered
 no more, declares the Lord Almighty. I will remove both the [false]
 prophets and the spirit of impurity from the land."
    Zechariah 12:10-11, 13:1-2.

Here we are informed:
1. That God's Spirit is necessary to bring men to true repentance.
2. That the Holy Spirit takes of the things of Christ and shows
    them to men for their salvation.
3. That Gospel truth when rightly understood affects all classes alike.
4. That true repentance inclines people to go alone and weep.
5. That such weeping will lead the soul to the blood of Christ.
6. That idolatry and error, sin and heresy will be driven from
    among the people.

Such weeping for sin will weep away all love of iniquity.
One believing view of Christ does more to mortify sin,
than all the terrors of the Lord.



An early death

We should be cheered by knowing that our departed pious friends
no more see, or hear, or feel those things—which were they alive
—must vex their righteous souls from day to day.

To the godly man, an early death is not an evil. He thereby
escapes much suffering. He is taken away from the evil to come.

Let us not be over-anxious for long life. The failure of early hopes,
the decline of usefulness, neglect by one's children, the memory of
past joys, the presence of many pains and infirmities—burden nearly
all the very aged. Their senses are blunted, their strength is not firm,
and their fears have the ascendency.

"Don't let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator.
 Honor him in your youth before you grow old and no longer enjoy
 living. It will be too late then to remember him, when the light of
 the sun and moon and stars is dim to your old eyes, and there is
 no silver lining left among the clouds. Your limbs will tremble with
 age, and your strong legs will grow weak. Your teeth will be too
 few to do their work, and you will be blind, too. And when your
 teeth are gone, keep your lips tightly closed when you eat! Even
 the chirping of birds will wake you up. But you yourself will be
 deaf and tuneless, with a quavering voice. You will be afraid of
 heights and of falling, white-haired and withered, dragging along
 without any sexual desire. You will be standing at death's door.
 And as you near your everlasting home, the mourners will walk
 along the streets. Yes, remember your Creator now while you
 are young, before the silver cord of life snaps and the golden
 bowl is broken. Don't wait until the water jar is smashed at the
 spring and the pulley is broken at the well. For then the dust will
 return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it."
    Ecclesiastes 12:1-7



The malice of the arch enemy

Satan rages, and hates, and lies, and murders the saints;
but his kingdom must fall. The kingdoms of the world shall
become the kingdoms of the Lord, and of his Christ. Glorious
things are spoken of Zion, and they shall all be fulfilled.

Yet these very things awaken the malice of the arch enemy.
Finding he cannot rule—he tempts and annoys the children of
God. He is their great foe. He studies their tempers, and adapts
his temptations to their age, station and inclination. He commonly
attacks them in the weakest point. He worries those whom he
cannot destroy.



Christian graces

Humility is an excellent grace, much commended in Scripture,
and puts us where we ought to be—in the dust.

Meekness bears the outrageous wrongs heaped upon us with
pity and forgiveness—and so makes us like Christ, who was
brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and opened not His mouth.

Hope is an anchor to the soul, both sure and steadfast, and
being lively, animates the soul in all times of trial.

Love with her broad mantle covers the faults of others,
fills the world with the fame of her deeds, and never fails.

Penitence sits at the feet of Jesus, and bathes them with its tears.

The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life to depart from the snares of death.



God's rich grace and abundant mercy

God's rich grace and abundant mercy shine forth in the whole
work of salvation from first to last. The whole devising, execution,
application and crowning of redemption—flow from God's boundless
grace, and infinite, eternal, and unchangeable love!



All our righteous acts

"All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our
 righteous acts
are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a
 leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away." Isaiah 64:6

Self-righteousness seems to be born with sin, and to grow
with its growth. A disposition to deny criminality is universal
among men. Nothing but divine grace can effectually cure
the habit of self-justification.

Nothing in human nature seems to be more obstinate, or
more difficult to eradicate—than a self-righteous spirit.

Without the grace of Christ, no man ever sought or desired
a new heart, or a gracious pardon. Left to themselves, men
will live in sin, die in sin, and lie down in eternal sorrow;
rather than renounce their own goodness and abandon
their self-righteous hopes.

It tends greatly to strengthen these delusions, when men
can plead natural amiability of temper, or a fair standing
with the world for truth, justice and honor, or a decent
and serious attention to the ordinances of religion. Christ
said to the most exact observers of the Mosaic ritual, "the
publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of God before you!"

There is not a more hopeless class, than those who trust
in themselves, that they are righteous.

Until God's Spirit enlightens his mind, he will not see that
salvation can never be compassed by his own power or
merit. So that the very process, by which a sinner is led to
the Savior, is usually one of extreme sadness. He has less
and less, in his own esteem, worthy of honorable mention
before God, until at last he finds out that he is nothing but
a guilty, vile, lost, helpless, perishing sinner. To him the
Gospel is a revelation of mercy. He is charmed with the
method of grace. He gives all honor to the Redeemer, and
is willing to be counted the chief of sinners. He no longer
goes about to establish his own righteousness. His own
merits he counts as nothing. He simply wishes to be found
in Christ. His song is of free, unmerited grace! He works,
indeed, but it is from love to the Savior. He says, "What I
am—I am by the grace of God." He casts his crown at the
Savior's feet. He expects all from the grace of Christ.



Our guilt would instantly sink us to hell

Man is not only vile and helpless—he is also guilty. He is not
only depraved and without strength—he is also condemned.
The wicked not only have their consciences to clamor against
them, but God is angry with them every day.

No sentence could be more just than this, "the soul that
sins—it shall die." Punishment is deserved by all sinners.
Our guilt would instantly sink us to hell—but for the
patience and longsuffering of God.



What you think of sin

Tell me what you think of sin, and I will tell you what you
think of God, of Christ, of the Spirit, of the divine law, of
the blessed Gospel.

He, who looks upon sin merely as a fiction, as a misfortune,
or as a trifle, sees no necessity either for deep repentance or
a great atonement. He, who sees no sin in himself, will feel
no need of a Savior. He, who is conscious of no evil at work
in his heart, will desire no change of nature. He, who regards
sin as a slight affair, will think a few tears, or an outward
reformation ample satisfaction.

The truth is, no man ever thought himself a greater sinner
before God, than he really was. Nor was any man ever more
distressed at his sins, than he had just cause to be. He, who
never felt it to be "an evil and a bitter thing to depart from
God," is to this hour an enemy of his Maker, a rebel against
his rightful and righteous Sovereign.



The chief of sinners

Sin is the worst of evils.

Sin in the heart of the believer, is to him exceedingly odious.

"I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes!"

"O wretched man that I am!"

"O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to you!"

There is a sense, in which every godly man regards himself as
the chief of sinners. That is, everyone who really knows his
own heart, and has seen the sad work which sin has made in
his moral character, is able as before God, to see more evil in
himself than of any other being.

 

Both a sin and a hindrance

(William Plumer, "Vital Godliness: A Treatise
 on Experimental and Practical Piety" 1864)

"I waited patiently for the Lord, and He turned
 to me and heard my cry for help." Psalm 40:1

Beware of a spirit of questioning, complaining and
impatience towards God. With yourself you cannot
be too much dissatisfied. But with God and His ways
you have no right to find fault. He is altogether
righteous. Every sentiment of impatience towards
Him is highly criminal. God will not be dictated to.
Impatience is both a sin and a hindrance. It
speeds no deliverance. It must be laid aside.



 

What an amazing change is this!

(William Plumer, "Vital Godliness: A Treatise
 on Experimental and Practical Piety" 1864)

"Behold, how great a love the Father has bestowed
 on us, that we should be called children of God!"
    (1 John 3:1)

What an amazing change is this!

A child of the devil—becomes a child of God!

An heir of perdition—is changed into an heir of glory!



No success, progress, or comfort

There is no success, progress, or comfort
in piety, but through the blessed Spirit.



Nothing breaks the heart like . . .

True repentance has a special regard to the work of
redemption. "They shall look on Him whom they have
pierced, and mourn and be in bitterness." Nothing
breaks the heart like
a sight of Christ crucified!

Right views of Christ and real love to Him, will make
a man determined on the death of all his sins, and
bring him in deep sorrow of heart, to the feet of the
Savior.
 




I am ashamed and blush!

Nothing but great self-ignorance enables
any man to have a good opinion of himself.

To be humble before God, is the safest and
loveliest posture for sinful creatures.

True repentance has in it, much profound humility.
True repentance has in it also much shame. This
relates not only to open and disreputable crimes,
but also to secret sins, to vain thoughts and evil
imaginations.

"O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my
 face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen
 higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted
 up to the heavens!" (Ezra 9:6)

He who does not blush for his sins . . .
  has never been truly ashamed of them;
  has never really and heartily forsaken them.

"All true penitents blush as well as weep. They
 are ashamed as well as grieved—for the things
 they have done."

On this point, universal Christian experience fully
accords with God's word. Paul never forgave himself
for his cruel persecutions. Peter never ceased to be
ashamed of his cowardly denial of his Lord. David
never ceased to be ashamed of his base conduct.

This sorrow, humility, and shame are not merely
for a wicked life—but for a sinful nature; not only for
actual sin—but also for original sin. This point seems
to be clearly settled in the case of David, who, having
 confessed his guiltiness for personal misconduct, traces
all up to the fountain of native depravity. Listen to his
words of anguish: "Behold, I was shaped in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me!"



They will loathe themselves

He who sincerely repents of sin, repents of all sin.

When a true Christian discovers the sinful nature of
anything, he abhors it. A wicked thought, no less
than a vile word or evil deed—is loathed by the true
penitent. The promise runs, "They will loathe
themselves
because of the evil things they did—
their abominations of every kind." (Ezekiel 6:9)



True repentance

"For godly sorrow works repentance to salvation,
 which brings no regret. But the sorrow of the
 world works death." (2 Corinthians 7:10)

True repentance is sorrow for sin—ending in the
reformation of heart, thought and life.

'Mere regret' is not repentance, neither is mere
outward reformation. Neither is true repentance,
a pretended, or a slight sorrow.

He who truly repents—is chiefly sorry for his sins.
He whose repentance is spurious—is chiefly
concerned for the consequences of his sins.

The sincere penitent chiefly regrets that he has
done evil. The insincere penitent that he has
incurred punishment.

One sorely laments that he deserves punishment;
the other that he must suffer punishment.

One approves of the law which condemns him;
the other thinks he is harshly treated, and that
the law is too rigorous.

To the sincere penitent—sin appears exceeding sinful.
To him who sorrows after a worldly sort—sin, in some
form, appears pleasant—he regrets that sin is forbidden.

The sincere penitent says it is an evil and bitter thing
to sin against God, even if no punishment followed.
The insincere penitent sees little evil in transgression
—if there were no painful consequences sure to follow.

If there were no hell, the sincere penitent would still
wish to be delivered from sin. If there were no retribution,
the insincere penitent would sin with increased greediness.

The true penitent is chiefly averse to sin as it is an
offence against God. This embraces all sins of every
description.

These are secret sins, and sins of omission.

In a spurious repentance the mind is much inclined to
dwell on open sins, and on sins of commission. The true
penitent knows the plague of an evil heart and a fruitless
life. The spurious penitent is not much troubled about the
real state of heart, but grieves that his sins have been
made know to others.

"They will loathe themselves because of the evil things
they did—their abominations of every kind." Ezekiel 6:9


 

Wise, mighty, rich

(William Plumer, "Vital Godliness: A Treatise
 on Experimental and Practical Piety" 1864)

"The wise must not boast in his wisdom;
 the mighty must not boast in his might;
 the rich must not boast in his riches."
    Jeremiah 9:23

The humble man realizes that beauty, strength,
rank, success, power and wealth are gifts of God.
He is their author. His mercy, not our wisdom,
secured them to us. His kindness granted us
loveliness, health, activity, reputable parentage,
and all these things. Yet how many are swollen
with pride by the possession of even one of these
things! Nay, fine clothing and costly jewels puff
up many!

Others may have toiled as hard, studied as carefully,
risen as early, sat up as late, eaten only the bread
of carefulness, and yet have not gained our measure
of success.

Oh that men would remember that "Exaltation does
not come from the east, the west, or the desert; for
God is the judge: He brings down one and exalts
another." (Psalm 75:6-7)

Between men's best and greatest efforts and success,
there is always a chasm which none but God can bridge
over. So that the honor of all is due to Him. No man is
the more base for being poor, nor is any one more noble
for being rich. No man deserves well, because he has
been successful. "The race is not to the swift, or the
battle to the strong, or bread to the wise, or riches
to the discerning, or favor to the skillful." (Ecc. 9:11)



The first step


"Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward
 one another, for God opposes the proud but gives
 grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore,
 under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper
 time he may exalt you." (1 Peter 5:5-6)

"God had rather see his children humble for sin,
than proud of grace. Neither all the devils in hell
nor all the temptations of the world can hurt that
man who keeps himself humble and depending on
Christ. As the first step heavenward is humility,
so the first step hell-ward is pride." (Mason)

"Humility is the certain fruit of a heart wherein true
piety is duly cultivated. Humility is most conspicuous
in those whose lives are adorned with the most
exemplary piety." (John Angell James)

True humility is opposed both to egotism and ostentation.



True and false hope

One difference between a true and false hope is,
that the former is operative, and produces powerful,
happy effects; while the latter is inoperative and dead.
The hope of the Christian is expressly said to be "living."
1 Pet. 1:3. It has life in itself, and communicates animation
to the soul. It arouses, awakens, and gives vigor to the
mind. It produces the grandest effects, making the people
of God triumphant over all their foes and fears, and bearing
them up when all appearances are discouraging.
But a dead hope is without any abiding effect. It does no
good in the day of trial.

Another difference between a true and a false hope is, that the
former leads to holiness, while the latter begets carelessness.
Of genuine Christian hope it is said, that "every man who has
this hope in him purifies himself, even as Christ is pure." The
stronger it is, the greater is the soul's aversion to evil.
But the hope of the deluded makes him reckless. To him sin
is a trifle, and holiness a thing of naught. This indeed is the
great difference between all genuine and all spurious hopes.
Truly pious affections and thoughts tend to holiness.

Another difference is, that a spurious hope gives no support
when we most need help; but a genuine hope bears up our
souls above all our foes.



The strokes of the sculptor

True Christian love will lead us to forgive those who
have injured us. This is a point on which our blessed
Savior laid the greatest stress. There is no dispensing
with it. "If you don't forgive others, your Father will
not forgive your sins." Matt. 6:15. "Forgive, and you
shall be forgiven." Luke 6:37. Perhaps there is no
better evidence of a renewed heart than a cordial
forgiveness of injuries. Nor is there a surer sign that
we are yet in our sins, than carrying old grudges about
with us. Of all the holy arts possessed by Christians,
none is more admirable than that whereby they turn
injuries to their own profit, and to the glory of God.

"The injuries of life, if rightly improved, will be to us as
the strokes of the sculptor
on his marble—forming
us to a more beautiful shape, and making us fitter to
adorn the heavenly temple." Mather

Genuine love to man will not only seem to forgive, but
will actually forgive from the heart. Merely to pretend
to such a thing, and not to do it, is but miserably to
mimic goodness, while we are filled with all hypocrisy.
There are upon earth no worse and no more unhappy
men than those who carry about old grudges, and
retain a lively memory of wrongs long since committed
against themselves.

"Love is never so blind as when it sees faults in others.
It is like the painter who, drawing the picture of a friend
having a blemish in one eye, would picture only the other
side of his face." South

"Love your enemies." This is the most sublime precept
ever delivered to man!



Selfishness and self-love

"You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22:39

There is a difference between selfishness and self-love.

Selfishness is the excess and immoderate indulgence of
self-love.

Selfishness is wicked, and consists in a persistent looking
on our own things and a constant caring for ourselves,
let others do as they may.

Self-love
is an enlightened and lawful regard to our own
welfare, and is the standard and measure approved of
God for regulating our affections towards others.


"You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22:39



Nothing more certain

There is nothing more certain than death; and nothing
more uncertain than the time when death may overtake us.




The malignity of the sin of worldliness

Richard Baxter shows the malignity of the sin of
worldliness
, in several particulars.

1. It is a deliberate and intentional sin.

2. It is a sin against our chief interest.

3. It is idolatry.

4. It is contempt of heaven. Eternal glory is
neglected—and a miserable world preferred.

5. It shows that unbelief prevails in the heart.

6. It is a debasing of the soul of man.

7. It is a perverting of the very drift of a man's life.

8. It is a perverting of God's creatures to an end and use
totally contrary to that which they were made and given for.



Dense clouds of smoke and thick darkness

The Christian life is supernatural. It is something far
above the powers of the carnal man. That the blind
should see, the deaf hear, the lame man leap as a
deer, and the dead live—can be accounted for only
on the ground that it is the work of God.

We are all dead in trespasses and sins, until Divine
grace makes us new creatures. Over our mind,
dense clouds of smoke and thick darkness

from the bottomless pit have settled.

We have eyes, but we see not.

Our imaginations are vain.

Our memories are polluted.

Our ingenuity devises mischief and foolish evasions and excuses.

Our wills are perverse and stubborn.

Our daring in sin is frightful.

To think of our state might well make one to shudder.

Our enmity to God is mortal.

If such are changed from hatred to love, from sin to
holiness—it must be by God's power, His mighty power



A real, living, firm, consistent Christian?  

'Christian' is a very fit name for the followers of Christ.

They are in Christ.

They love and adore Christ.

They are ready to die for Christ.

He is their Savior and Redeemer.

They are not ashamed of Him, and He is not ashamed of them.

They are the friends, followers, and redeemed of Jesus Christ.

He is all in all to them.

They are precious to Him.

Reader, are you a Christian—a real, living, firm, consistent
Christian?
You have the name, but are you worthy of it? Do
you live for Christ? Worthily to bear the name of a Christian,
is the greatest honor and the greatest happiness ever attained
on earth.



The more men sin

"The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness
 has not understood it." John 1:5

The more men sin—the less sense of sin have they,
unless God's Spirit quickens the conscience. The more
men sin
—the blinder they are. The farther a man goes
into a dark cave—the more dim are his perceptions.

"This is the verdict: Light has come into the world,
 but men loved darkness instead of light because
 their deeds were evil." John 3:19


 

Once I was . . .
 
Once I was a poor lost sinner, ready to perish.
My guilt was fearful. He passed by and said,
"Live, for I have ransomed you!"

I was all defiled, and had an evil heart of unbelief.
He took away the heart of stone, and gave me a
heart of flesh.

I was blind. I saw no beauty in holiness or in Jesus.
He anointed my eyes, and I saw His glory, full of
grace and truth.

I once loved sin; but by His grace I hate vain thoughts
and every false way. I abhor that which is evil.

Left to myself I was weak as water. I had no might
to do good. But by His grace I can do all things,
because He strengthens me.



 

Know, believe, and practice

"Instruction from Your lips is better for me than
 thousands of gold and silver pieces." Psalm 119:72

Know, believe, and practice the whole Word of God.
Indulge no prejudices against any portion of the Bible.
All of it is truth—all of it is precious truth. The part of
Scripture which you slight, probably contains the very
truth most needful for the correction of some of your
faults.

The threatenings warn,
the precepts guide,
the promises encourage,
the doctrines instruct,
the examples draw,
the histories illustrate,
the poems delight.

"I have treasured the words of His mouth
 more than my daily food." Job 23:12



Time and eternity

Put a just estimate on both time and eternity.

On time, because it is so short, because its earthly
pursuits are so vain, because on the right use of it
depend everlasting consequences.

On eternity, because it is eternity—it has no bounds,
it is more vast than the sea. Eternity gives to hell its
most impenetrable gloom; and to heaven the unfailing
fixedness of its joys.



Monuments of redeeming mercy!

At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of
 heaven and earth, because you have hidden these
 things from the wise and learned, and revealed them
 to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good
 pleasure." Matthew 11:25-26

Amazing is the distinguishing love of God, which often
takes men who are naturally neither attractive nor
amiable—and makes them the monuments of
redeeming mercy!

 

 

The trials of God's children

"God had one Son on earth without sin—but never
 a son on earth without affliction." (Augustine)

"Many are the afflictions of the righteous." Psalm 34:19

"Whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges
 every son whom He receives." Hebrews 12:6

"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten." Revelation 3:19

There is a "need be" for all the trials of God's children
on earth. Their pangs promote their purity. God puts
them into the furnace that He may consume their dross,
take away all their sin, and bring them out as pure gold.
"He does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of
men." He has no pleasure in seeing His chosen people
suffer, but He delights to see His image on their hearts
perfected. He chastens them for their profit, that they
may be partakers of His holiness. He is a wise and good
Father, and all His people on earth are more or less
wayward. He will not cease to chastise them until
their wills submit to His.




Through the wonders of Divine grace


Through the wonders of Divine grace,
the natural evils which befall godly men are
the means not only of checking, but also of
eradicating, the evils of their hearts and
preparing them for glory.



Walk as He walked


Those who have honestly and heartily received
the righteousness of Christ—will be sure to mark
His footsteps and walk as He walked.



Nothing is more offensive to God

"If anybody is preaching to you a gospel
 other  than what you accepted, let him
 be eternally condemned!"
Galatians 1:9


Nothing is more offensive to God
than false doctrine. All error is wicked.

It is a slander on the Almighty.

It is a deadly poison.

It eats like a cancer.

It enslaves.

It degrades.

It debases.

The heart of Christ and the heart of His
people, agree on all vital matters. 



Not very many

It may be said, with sorrow, that there
are not very many consistent, devoted,
thorough-going followers of the Lamb.



BENEFITS OF AFFLICTION

1. Affliction makes us sober and thoughtful. Folly is bound up in the natural heart—we are naturally giddy and thoughtless about the most weighty concerns.

2. Affliction enables us to keep in view our latter end, by presenting to us distinctly eternity. Anything is good for us that reminds us that time is short, that life must soon close—and that all beyond is boundless, shoreless eternity.

3. Affliction remind us of our sins. It was so in the case of Joseph's brethren. "We are verily guilty," they cried. Trouble made David say, "Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions."

4. One of the great ingredients of true piety is humility—deep and sincere humility.  Affliction is suited to humble us, and, if we are truly pious, it will thus do us good.

5. Affliction puts us to praying. "Is any afflicted, let him pray." 

6. Affliction teaches us the vanity of this world, and weans us from it. How effectually it does this, daily experience teaches. It writes vanity of vanities on all things below the skies. "What shadows we are—and what shadows we pursue!"

7. Affliction is a great expounder of Scripture. David said, "It is good for me that I have been afflicted—that I might learn Your statutes."

8. The great object of affliction is to promote purity of heart. "God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness." (Heb. 12:10).

9. Affliction has a reclaiming effect on wanderers. "Before I was afflicted I went astray; but now have I kept Your word." "They will search for Me in their distress."

10. Affliction teaches us quietness and submission. It hushes our perturbations. It teaches us that God will have His way.

11. Sanctified affliction leads us to trust in God. It strengthens our faith in all the rich consolations of the gospel, in all the promises of life and salvation, in all needful blessings.

12. Affliction improves all our holy principles.



God hates nothing but . . .

God's character is a combination of all that is vast,
sublime, majestic, kind, just, excellent and every way
glorious. All sin is an offence against the most gentle,
loving, patient, forbearing Being in the universe!

To maltreat any man is wrong. But to pursue with
causeless insults, and abuse a person who shows a
loving disposition, even after he has been treated
amiss—is justly regarded as very despicable.

Such is the real character of all the sin we commit
against God. And sin in the regenerate is against
more love, more light and more mercy than are
granted to the unregenerate. O Christian, hate
sin in all—but most of all, hate it in yourself!

God hates nothing but sin! So far as we know,
there is but one thing upon which the pure and
benevolent mind of God looks with more aversion,
than upon the misery of His creatures. That one
thing is worse than all misery, more horrible than
the torments of hell. It is SIN—the parent of all
misery, all disorder, all confusion. Every sigh from
hell and every groan from earth—is wrought out by
sin—man's most cruel tyrant, God's greatest enemy!



Were the world in arms against Him

God does not refrain to punish the wicked for a time,
because He has not full power to execute any sentence,
which His justice might decree. Omnipotence can do
anything—at any time!

Human governments are sometimes afraid to punish,
lest they should arouse popular indignation, or dangerous
commotions. But God is not for one moment restrained
from executing the fierceness of His anger by any such
fear. Were the world in arms against Him, He who
sits in the heavens would laugh at their impotent rage!
One breath, one word from Jehovah would sweep them
down to hell in a moment!

God proceeds to the work of judgment and of punishment
with an inflexible purpose, whenever His holiness and wisdom
determine that the right time has come.

God delays to punish sinners, because in His nature are
found infinite love and mercy. God is "long-suffering to us,"
because He has a loving, pitying, compassionate nature.



Oh! what a fiend!

"I have sinned by betraying innocent blood!" Matthew 27:4

Judas had put his Master into the hands of his murderers,
and he had obtained his promised reward. But presently
the silver began to lose its luster, and the money its value.
The price of blood began to torment its possessor. He could
not endure the vicious gnaw of the undying worm. That silver
filled his soul with intolerable horrors. Conscience wielding
over his guilty spirit the terrible sword of eternal and inflexible
justice, and a hell burning within him, he hanged himself,
jumped the awful gulf of death, and plunged into an undone
eternity! "He went to his own place."

The aggravations of the sin of betraying Christ were many and
great. The traitor was eminent in place, in gifts, in office, in
profession; a guide to others, and one whose example was
likely to influence many, and if evil, to give great occasion
to the enemy to speak reproachfully. His sin had for its object
the Lord Jesus Christ. It was an attack on God himself.

This sin admitted of no reparation, no restitution. It was
against mercies, against convictions of conscience, against
frequent and recent admonitions, against his ordination
vows, against his own preaching, against all the rules of
friendship, against all the bonds of discipleship. It was
committed deliberately, willfully, knowingly, presumptuously,
impudently, maliciously. It was perpetrated just after the
most solemn and tender last supper. It was a sin of scarlet
dye and crimson hue!

Oh! what a fiend is man without the grace of God! No
natural amiability, no faithful instructions, no power of
working miracles, no solemn sacraments, no tears and
warnings—can hold back any man from the vilest sins
and the hottest hell. God's free, sovereign, eternal love
can alone save any soul!



Why are the wicked so prosperous?

"Why are the wicked so prosperous? Why are evil people so happy?" Jeremiah 12:1

"When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me." Psalm 73:16

Asaph here tells us at length of his deep and terrible perplexity when looking at the ways of God.

God's providence is often mysterious. No subject has more perplexed godly men, than the dark aspects of Providence.

God's ways of working are infinitely diversified. He saves or he destroys in any way he pleases, by the strong, or by the weak; by friend or by foe. He sends an army of men, or an army of caterpillars to punish a guilty nation. In either case, the work is done. He shakes a leaf, or sends an earthquake, and each does its errand. God is confined to no routine. He knows and commands all causes, all agents, all truths, all errors, all influences, and all oppositions. At a nod he makes the great, small; or the small, great.

For many things in providence we can give no account, except that so it seemed good to the Judge of all the earth. Who can tell why bloody Nero was left to ruin by his passions, and Saul of Tarsus, no less bloody, was saved? Why was repentance granted to one thief on the cross, while the other died a blasphemer? The mercies received by any man are wholly undeserved. No man merits any good thing at the hand of his Maker. Yet all receive many mercies, and some are blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus. On the other hand, why is one man more afflicted than another? All our afflictions are deserved, yes, they are always fewer than we deserve. Indeed the wonder is we suffer so little. But the whole doctrine of divine judgments is of difficult interpretation, when we come to individual cases.



The purpose of God in afflicting

The purpose of God in afflicting His people is to
make them more useful, more humble, and in the
end more glorious.

As they have been the thankless receivers of countless
mercies—God's design in afflicting His incorrigible foes
is to punish them for their sins, show His wrath, and
make them examples of His fearsome justice.

In the same way, prosperity awakens the gratitude
and refines the feelings of the pious man—but hardens
the heart of his wicked neighbor.

The triumph of the wicked is short, their mirth is vain,
and it will soon be followed by damnation.



Without the influences of divine grace

Neither the word of God, nor the Providence of God,
without the influences of divine grace on the heart
—have any sanctifying power over even godly men. The
most striking events and the most precious doctrines
will not profit—without the promised aid of the Holy
Spirit. He can bless any truth or any event to our
growth in grace, our comfort and our eternal glory.
He is the sanctifier.  All the benefit derived from the
dealings of God with his people is gracious. Whatever
a Christian is, he is by the grace of God, not by nature.
No man deplores his own short-comings more than he.
He abhors himself; he glories in the Cross of Christ;
he is clothed with humility; he is full of kindness; he
seeks a heavenly country; his affections are set on
things above.



Devotion to Christ

Devotion to Christ cannot be excessive. Many love, and
serve, and trust, and praise him too little. But whoever
loved, or served, or trusted, or praised him too much?

Stick to him,
stand up for him,
live unto him,
look to him,
be ready to die for him,
let your desires center in him,
let your motives to holy living be drawn from him,
let your sorrows be sanctified by him,
let your joys be heightened, chastened, sweetened by him.
Keep to him alone.
None else can do us any good.



The greatest of all victories

The greatest of all victories is that which
one obtains over his own evil heart.



We are so wrapped up in selfishness

We are so wrapped up in selfishness that
we flagrantly over-estimate the importance of
our own affairs.



The greatest blessing ever bestowed on man

Great favors impose great obligations. The greater the
mercy—the greater the responsibility. The Gospel is the
greatest blessing ever bestowed on man
. Therefore
nothing equally obliges a people to receive the gift with
gratitude and to make a right use of it.



When iniquity abounds

When iniquity abounds in the members of a nation, its
punishment is near. The offences, which bring ruin on nations,
 are pride, luxury, idleness, oppression, extortion, cruelty,
covetousness, profaneness, hardness of heart, ingratitude
—or any of the sins forbidden in God's word.



Plagues reserved for sinners of the deepest dye!

The worst judgments are spiritual judgments.

The sorest plagues are plagues of the heart.

War, famine and pestilence are God's scourges for the
nations generally. But the withholding of the influences
of the Spirit, and the withdrawal of a pure gospel are
the plagues reserved for sinners of the deepest
dye!
They are fearful tokens of God's fiercest displeasure!




Now I know in part

"Now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face
 to face. Now I know in part, but then shall I know
 even as also I am known." 1 Corinthians 13:12

Here on earth, all men are liable to err—and all men
do err! No person is without some wrong view, or some
ignorance, which mars his knowledge. This is no reason
for sloth or discouragement; but it is a good reason why
we should be humble and careful and teachable, and
pray for light and divine guidance.

It is far different in heaven. Knowledge without any
mixture of error belongs only to the heavenly state.
Those above know perfectly—what we know in parcels only.



The subjects of which the Scriptures treat

The subjects of which the Scriptures treat, surpass all others in worth and practical usefulness. It opens to us the glorious fountain of all being, and of all blessedness. It tells us whence all creatures come. It gives the true theory of human nature. It teaches man correct views of himself, and of the moral government under which he lives. It settles the doctrine of an endless life beyond the bounds of time. Its truths make glad all the most virtuous of every generation. It cheers and guides poor wanderers through the wilderness of this world. It purifies men's hearts. For power, for sublimity, for refreshment, for purity, nothing can compare with its lessons. They humble without debasing. They elevate without puffing up. They beget modesty without cowardice. They embolden without impudence. They at once inspire beneficial fears and animating hopes. They give joy without levity. They make men to sorrow after a godly sort, and yet they greatly multiply the sources of happiness.



His justice manifested against sin

"Righteousness and justice are the foundation of
 your throne." Psalm 89:14.

The wrath, anger, indignation, vengeance, fury,
and hot displeasure of God—are nothing but His
justice manifested against sin
.

"Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
 your justice like the great deep." Psalm 36:6



Changes

The new birth changes men's aims, and hopes,
and fears, and views, and lives.

"Everyone born of God overcomes the world." 1 John 5:4
 

Whoever is truly born of God has learned to despise the
wealth, the honors, and the pleasures of the world, as his
portion. He hates sin and loves holiness. He longs after
conformity to God. He never makes a trade of sin.
 

 

True repentance

True repentance embraces these things:
1. A knowledge of sin.
2. Humility.
3. Deep and genuine abasement of soul before God.
4. Sincere and hearty confession of sin.
5. Shame.
6. Sincere grief for sin.
7. Self-loathing, self-abhorrence.
8. Hatred of sin, sin in every form.
9. Love of holiness.
10. Amendment of life.

 


True piety

True piety begins, continues, and is perfected—by our
union with Christ. We are cleansed through his blood,
we are clothed in his righteousness, we are purified by
his Spirit. In proportion as men are truly pious, they
make Jesus the foundation and the top-stone, the sum,
and substance, and center of all their hopes and rejoicings
before God. The true believer not only trusts in Christ, but
makes his boast in him. He not only makes mention of him;
he admits none into comparison with him. To all the ends,
parts, and purposes of salvation, Christ stands alone. There
is none like him, there is none with him, there is none before
him, there is none after him, there is none beside him. He
had no predecessor; he has, and shall have, no successor.
He wears an undivided crown, and wields a perfect sovereignty
over an undivided kingdom. We are complete in Christ.
 

 

Two ways

"For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction." Psalm 1:6

Every man has his way. Conduct is an index to character. Behavior before God and man tells where one is going.

The way of sinners is evil, is false, hard, wicked, dangerous, ruinous. It leads to hell. It leads nowhere else. In the end it will cause the bitterest lamentations ever heard. There is no madness equal to that of sinning against God.

But the Christian has his way too. Christ Himself is the way of believers. So He teaches: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no man comes unto the Father but by Me" (John 14:6). The soul enters on its upward and glorious career through Christ alone (John 10:1, 7). In the same manner it continues its heavenly course.

It is the way God chooses, appoints, and loves. He honors it with His presence and His smiles. He who walks in it, walks with God. God is his friend, his guide, his shepherd, his father, his exceeding joy.

The Christian's way is the way of truth. Inspired men so call it (2 Pet. 2:2). It is the true way. There is no mistake in it. It deceives no one. It disappoints no one. It is not built on fables and fictions. It is built on truth, more lasting than the mountains.

There is no foolishness in it. It is wise. It is often called the way of understanding. No man acts wisely until he walks in it. No man has any wisdom above this. To forsake this way is to choose death.

The Christian's path is the way of righteousness (2 Peter 2:21). It is the way of justifying righteousness. Only thus is any man pardoned. Only thus is any man accepted as righteous. It is the way of personal righteousness. It is the good and the right way (1 Sam. 12:23). It is the way of holiness. So the evangelical prophet spoke of it: "An highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein" (Isa. 35:8)
 


 

Unwelcome truths

In preaching the gospel, nothing is to be concealed.
It is at our peril if we withhold a truth because it is
offensive to the carnal mind. We may not even disguise
it or obscure it by the arts of rhetoric. Thus Paul says,
"We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling
block, and unto the Greeks foolishness." Nothing could
have more offended the prejudices of Jews, or assailed
the wisdom of Greeks—than preaching Christ crucified.
To call upon them to believe in one that had been crucified
on a tree seemed to them monstrous. Yet Paul preached
this very doctrine. He knew its power. He says: "Unto
those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is
the power of God and the wisdom of God." Nor did he
publish this vital truth in words which man's wisdom
teaches, but in words which the Holy Spirit teaches.
Let us follow his excellent example. Let us not try to
render the gospel pleasing to men by denying or
disguising its unwelcome truths.
 



Gambling and lotteries

Vast schemes of gambling and lotteries under various pretexts have been introduced into society, and have greatly corrupted the morals of the people. Hardly a more appalling history could be written than that of people who have become devoted to endeavors at gaining wealth by gambling and lotteries. When they have been initially successful, in many cases, reason has tottered and fallen from her throne; or sudden wealth has begotten extravagance and dissipation. But in a larger number of cases, the lack of success has driven to crime and then to despair those who have risked much or all in this hazardous scheme. Gambling by means of lotteries dates as far back as an early period of Roman history. The Republic of Genoa, among the moderns, first resorted to the lottery. It was employed as a state measure for supplying the treasury. Thence it was brought into other countries, especially France and England. The first public lottery known in English history dates as far back as 1567. The institution was soon felt to be injurious and mischievous. Parliament undertook to control it. Through the influence of the mother country, lotteries were introduced into the colonies of North America.

After the establishment of the independence of the United States, the system grew by degrees, until it threatened the most alarming consequences. All classes of citizens finally became roused by the extensive ruin wrought by the system. It perpetuated poverty among the humbler classes; it produced much insolvency, many frauds, embezzlements, larcenies and robberies. Its effects on those who won large prizes were hardly less injurious than on those who lost everything. It led both classes to intoxication and suicide.

In one of the large cities of the North, some years since, the feelings of the community were most painfully and indignantly excited by the case of Mr. A. He had been for ten years the "chief clerk in one of the first importing houses in the city; and to the hour of his death he enjoyed the unbounded confidence of his employers. "His character for integrity and purity was unsullied. Modest and amiable in his manners, temperate and domestic in his habits, he was endeared to all who knew him as one without a vice." When the distressing tidings were first spread abroad, that he had been found dead, not the most distant suspicion was entertained that he could have ended his quiet existence by suicide. The rumor which momentarily prevailed, that he had been robbed and murdered, was received, it is true, with horror, but with implicit confidence; nor was it until the fatal evidence of his rashness was found in his own hurried hand-writing, that they who had known, and loved, and trusted him so long, were made to feel that he had cruelly deceived them; and that in the distraction of remorse he had attempted to atone for one crime by committing another—the darkest crime of all.... In the short space between seven and eight months, he embezzled the sum of $18,000, every cent of which was lost on lottery tickets. This unfortunate man became so tortured in mind that he resolved on self-destruction. In his desk, after his death, a paper was found, probably written very shortly before the fearful deed which ushered him into the presence of his Judge. It is a simple picture of human woe. In its untutored language, we see to what a depth of wretchedness, one false step reduced a man upon whose whole life before, not a blot had rested.—"I have for the last seven months gone fast down the broad road to destruction. There was a time, and that too but a few months since, that I was happy, because I was free from debt and care. The time I note my downfall, or deviation from the path of rectitude, was about the middle of June last, when I took a share in a company of lottery tickets, whereby I was successful in obtaining a share of one half the capital prize; since which I have gone for myself, and that too, not on a very small scale, as you can judge from the amount now due J. R. & Co., every dollar of which has been spent in that way. I have lived, or dragged out a miserable existence, for several past months. Sleepless nights and a guilty conscience have led me on to the fatal act. The worse luck I had, the more I gambled. Since I have reflected on my rashness, I cannot look back, and see how it is possible I could have conducted in this way. When the situation I occupied, and the confidence reposed in me, and the long time I have been engaged, and the reward for my poor services—and that all should be lost in one moment—the loss is too much for me to bear. Oh! that seven or eight months past of my existence could be blotted out—but no, I must go—and before this paper is read my spirit is gone to my Maker, to give an account of my misdeeds here, and receive the dreadful sentence for self-destruction and abuse of confidence. Relatives and friends I have, from whom I do not wish to part under such circumstances, but necessity Oh, wretch that I am! Lotteries have been my ruin. I cannot add more."

Let all who have influence in controlling public affairs, either on a large or small scale, see to it that so corrupting an institution gains no footing in the community. Those amusements called games of chance, if they are indeed such, are liable to the same objection. Eliphalet Nott, President of Union College, has testified to the world that even a young gambler has been so hardened as to play at cards on the coffin of his dead brother. And the Gospels tell us that the Roman soldiers went to gambling at the foot of the cross of the Redeemer.



Too good and too wise

Let us put our hand into our Savior's hand—to lead us as he will. A child of God was very sick. She had suffered long and severely. She was asked whether she would not prefer death to life. "Just as the Lord pleases," was her reply. "But," said one, "if God should refer it to you—which would you choose?" She replied: "Then I would refer it back again to God." She was right. She was wise. Should we settle such a question, it would almost certainly be decided wrong. If the Master determines it—there will be no mistake. Besides, when we wholly submit our will to his will, his will becomes ours, and so we have our way because God has his way. When that which pleases the Lord pleases us, nothing can take away our rejoicing. Much of the bliss of heaven consists in this happy temper. No doubt things are constantly occurring in the world, which would provoke resistance and rebellion in hearts not taught perfect submission to the will of God. The demand for hearty acquiescence is most reasonable, because the Lord is unerring. It he were ever unkind, if he were unwise, if he were feeble—we might hesitate. But he is too good to be unkind; and too wise to be mistaken.





Worse than poverty, sickness, reproach!

Sin is worse than poverty, sickness, reproach. Sin is worse than all sufferings. The reason is because it is "exceeding sinful."

Sin is committed against an infinite God. The ill-desert of any evil deed is to be determined in part by the dignity of the person, against whom it is directed. To strike a brother is wrong; to strike a parent is worse.

To sin against God is so impudent, ungrateful and wicked, that no created mind can ever adequately estimate its atrocity; and so it is an infinite evil. If sin had its own way, it would dethrone the Almighty.

If men saw their sins aright, they would more highly prize divine mercy; and if they had more worthy conceptions of God's grace, they would have more abasing views of themselves.

We may learn much of the evil nature of sin by the names which the Bible gives to it, and to those who practice it. It is called disobedience, transgression, iniquity, foolishness, madness, rebellion, evil, evil fruit, uncleanness, filthiness, pollution, perverseness, frowardness, stubbornness, revolt, an abomination, an accursed thing. In like manner deeds of wickedness are called evil works, works of darkness, dead works, works of the flesh, works of the devil. And wicked men are called sinners, unjust, unholy, unrighteous, filthy, evil men, evil doers, seducers, despisers, children of darkness, children of the devil, children of hell, corrupters, idolaters, enemies of God, enemies of all righteousness, adversaries of God and man, liars, deceivers.

From low, meager apprehensions of the divine nature and law, flow a slight estimate of the evil of sin, spiritual pride, self-conceit, and a disesteem of the most precious righteousness of Jesus Christ. He, who can go to Gethsemane and Calvary, and come away with slight views of the evil nature of sin—must be blind indeed! There God speaks in accents not to be misunderstood but by the willful. Yet such is the perverseness of men that they often refuse to learn even at the cross of Christ.

 

 




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