Grace Gems for October 2002


(by John MacDuff)

"My presence shall go with you,
 and I will give you rest."  Ex. 33:14

Moses asked to be shown "the way."

Here is the answer: The way is not shown;
but better than this, God says, "Trust Me,
I will go with you!"

Afflicted one! hear the voice addressing you
from the cloudy pillar. It is a wilderness promise
which God speaks to His spiritual Israel still. He
who led His people of old "like a flock by the hand
of Moses and Aaron," will manifest towards you
the same Shepherd love.

The way may be very different from what we
could have wished; what we would have chosen.

But the choice is in better hands!

He had His own wise and righteous
ends in every erratic turning in it.

Who can look back on the past leadings of God
without gratitude and thankfulness? When His
sheep have been conducted to the rougher parts
of the wilderness, He, their Shepherd, has "gone
before them. When their fleece was torn, and
footsore and weary, He has borne them in His
arms. His presence has lightened every cross
and sweetened every care.

Let us trust Him for an unknown and checkered future.

Other companionships we cherished may have
failed us, but One who is better than the best,
goes before us in His gracious pillar cloud.

With Him for our portion, take what He will away,
we must be happy; we can rise above the loss of
the earthly gift, in the consciousness of the nobler
possession and heritage we enjoy in the Great Bestower.

He may have seen fit to level clay idols, that He, the
"All Satisfying" might reign paramount and supreme.

He will not allow us to raise havens on earth,
and to write upon them, "This is my rest."

But "Fear not," He seems to say, "You are not left
without a friend or without solace on the way home.
Pilgrim in a pilgrim land! My presence shall go with
you. In all your dark and cloudy days; in your hours
of faintness and depression; in sadness; in life and
in death! And when the journey is ended, the Pillar
needed no more, I will give you rest."

The pledge of Grace will be followed with the fruition of Glory!

"My presence shall go with you,
 and I will give you rest."  Ex. 33:14

"We know that all things work together for good."
  Romans 8:28

(Octavius Winslow, "Morning Thoughts")

All things under the government of an infinitely
great, all wise, righteous, and beneficent God,
work together for good.

What that good may be, the shape it may
assume, the complexion it may wear, the end
to which it may be subservient, we cannot tell.

To our dim view it may appear an evil, but
to God's far seeing eye it is a positive good.

His glory is secured by it, and that end
accomplished, we are sure it must be good.

Oh truth most divine!

Oh words most consolatory!

How many whose eye traces this page, it may
be whose tears bedew it, whose sighs breathe
over it, whose prayers hallow it, may be wading
in deep waters, may be drinking bitter cups,
and are ready to exclaim, "All these things are
against me!"

Oh no, beloved of God, all these things are for you!

"The Lord sits upon the flood."

"The voice of the Lord is upon the waters."

"He makes the clouds His chariot."

Be not then afraid.

Calmly stay your faith on this divinely assured
truth, that "all things work together for good to
those who love God."

Will it not be a good, if your present adversity results...
  in the dethronement of some worshiped idol;
  in the endearing of Christ to your soul;
  in the closer conformity of your mind to God's image;
  in the purification of your heart;
  in your more thorough fitness for heaven;
  in a revival of God's work within you;
  in stirring you up to more prayer?

Oh yes! good, real good, permanent good must result
from all the Divine dispensations in your history.

Bitter repentance shall end in the experienced sweetness of Christ's love.

The festering wound shall but elicit the healing balm.

The overpowering burden shall but bring you to the tranquil rest.

The storm shall but quicken your footsteps to the 'hiding place'.

In a little while, oh, how soon! you shall pass away
from earth to heaven, and in its clearer, serener light
shall read the truth, often read with tears before,
"All things work together for good to those who love God."

(Mary Winslow, "Life in Jesus")

We are hastening fast through time.

Time is short, and eternity, with all
its solemn realities, is before us.

What is our life?  How uncertain!

And yet is it not awfully true that poor
wretched man rushes heedlessly on,
thoughtless of what awaits him in an
endless eternity? We are traveling fast
through this wilderness world, and soon
shall pass away.

Let us, then, feel more like pilgrims and
strangers here. Let us not seek our rest
where our precious Jesus had no place to
lay His head.

Oh, for ten thousand worlds would I not
have my portion here in this wilderness!

Let us rejoice more in the prospect of that
glorious inheritance prepared for us above,
where He is who has loved us unto the death.

(Horatius Bonar, "Bible Thoughts & Themes")

"He died for our sins, just as God our Father
 planned, in order to rescue us from this evil
 world in which we live." Galatians 1:4

This world is evil, yet it is fair to look upon, with...
  its pleasures,
  its gaieties,
  its riches,
  its glories,
  its pomps,
  its glitter,
  its songs,
  its magnificent palaces,
  its gorgeous array.

This world is intoxicating to the unregenerate heart.

This world's religion is decked out in its beauty
of temple, picture, statue, and image of every kind.

The world's wisdom is seen in...
  its astronomy,
  its natural science,
  its mechanical arts,
  its architecture,
  its skill in ornament,
with all fascinations for the natural man,
all stimulants for the lust of the flesh, the
lust of the eye, and the pride of life.

All natural knowledge, natural beauty, natural
progress, are here; intellect, power, greatness,
pomp, splendor. All are here in the world.

We loved this present evil world, and delighted
in its vanities. It was the home of our hearts.

But God called us out of this evil world. With
His own almighty voice He called us. We
could not but obey. It was irresistible. Hence
He made us willing in the day of his power.

"He died for our sins, just as God our Father
 planned, in order to rescue us from this evil
 world in which we live." Galatians 1:4

(Bonar, "The Love That Passes Knowledge")

"Many waters cannot quench love; neither
 can rivers drown it." Song of Solomon 8:7

Let us take this verse as descriptive of the love
of Christ, the "love that passes knowledge."

Nothing in heaven, or earth, or hell is able to
extinguish or cool the love of Christ; the one
love whose dimensions are beyond all measure!
It is unquenchable!

1. The waters of SHAME AND SUFFERING sought to
quench and drown it. They would have hindered
its outflowing, and come (like Peter) between the
Savior and the cross; but this love refused to be
arrested on its way to Calvary; it would not be
either quenched or drowned. Herein was love! It
overleaped all the barriers in its way. Its fire would
not be quenched, its life would not be drowned!

2. The waters of DEATH sought to quench it. Their
waves and billows went over him. The grave sought
to cool or quench it; but it proved itself stronger
than death. Neither death nor the grave could alter
or weaken it. It came out of both as strong as before.
Love defied death, and overcame it!

3. The waters of OUR UNWORTHINESS could
not quench nor drown love. In general we find love
drawing to the lovable; and when anything unseemly
occurs, withdrawing from its object. Not so here. All
our unfitness and unlovableness could not quench
nor drown his love. It clung to the unlovely, and
refused to be torn away!

4. The waters of OUR LONG REJECTION sought
to quench it. After the gospel had showed us
that personal unworthiness could not arrest the
love of Christ, we continued to reject him and his
love. Yet his love surmounted this unbelief, and
survived this rejection. In spite of all it remained

sought to quench it. Even after we have believed, we
are constantly coming short. Ah! what inconsistencies,
coldness, backslidings, lukewarmness, doubtings,
worldliness, and such like, are daily flowing over
this love to quench its fire and drown its life! Yet it
survives all; it remains unquenched and unquenchable!

All these infinite evils in us are like "waters,"
"many waters"; like "floods"; torrents of sin,
waves and billows of evil; all constantly laboring
to quench and drown the love of Christ! And truly
they would have annihilated any other love; any
love less than divine. But the love of Christ is
unchangeable and everlasting!

His love is invincible, and irresistible as death;
it is a jealous love, unyielding and inexorable
as the grave! All earth and heaven together
would be ineffectual to cool or quench His
mighty love!

The love of Christ truly passes knowledge. It
is infinite like himself. It emerges out of every
storm or flood. It survives all our unworthiness,
and unbelief, and rejection!

Here, then, is the love of Christ! Its breadth, length,
height, and depth, are absolutely immeasurable!

(Bonar, "Divine Love and Human Rejection of It")

"I listen to their conversations, and what do I hear?
 Is anyone sorry for sin? Does anyone say, 'What a
 terrible thing I have done'?  No!  All are running
 down the path of sin as swiftly as a horse
 rushing into battle!" Jeremiah 8:6

Man is blind, madly blind, both to his danger
and to his sin. Furiously he plunges on in evil,
  from sin to sin,
  from lust to lust,
  defying God,
  braving His anger,
  ridiculing His threats,
  scoffing at His judgments,
  rushing against His sword,
  mocking at His hell.

How much recklessness there is among us!
Recklessness in...
  self indulgence,

Utter defiance of God!
Bold, unblushing audacity, which
nothing will daunt; which mocks at...
  and plunges on in evil,
  treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath!

"I listen to their conversations, and what do I hear?
 Is anyone sorry for sin? Does anyone say, 'What a
 terrible thing I have done'? No! All are running down
 the path of sin as swiftly as a horse rushing into
 battle!" Jeremiah 8:6

(Bonar, "The Secret of Deliverance from Evil")

God's estimate of sin is unspeakably dreadful:
 "It is the abominable thing which I hate;
  it is an evil that I cannot bear;
  it cast the angels out of heaven;
  it ruined the world;
  it brought the deluge;
  it drew down the fire and brimstone;
  it slew my Son;
  it will yet set the world on fire;
  it will kindle hell."

The pestilence? the famine? the earthquake?
the lightning? the storm? the shipwreck?
the overthrow of kingdoms and kings?
(Bonar, "Man's Misconceptions of the Works of God")

"By his mighty acts he governs the people."
    Job 36:31

His purpose comes in contact with earth and its
dwellers; not generally and by means of laws,
but directly and minutely.  His will, his voice,
his hand, his arm, all come into contact with
this world, as well as with all other worlds,
the creations of his power.

He has not left them alone.

He sustains and rules as truly as he creates
them. Not for a moment does he let go his hold.

He is the governor among the nations.

He rules by his power forever.

His eyes behold the nations. He does according
to his will in the armies of heaven and among
the inhabitants of the earth.

It is with no distant, unheeding God that we
have to do; but with that God who fixes the
bounds of our habitation, who counts our hairs,
who feeds the ravens, notes a sparrow's death,
and clothes the lilies of the field.

God governs the people by means of the changes
of nature. We use "nature" for lack of a better word:
we mean earth and sky with all their motions, and
alternations, and transformations, great and small,
all "natural phenomena" as they are called.

These phenomena, or appearances, appear to us
common things; by some ascribed to "chance", by
others to "laws of nature."

Here they are ascribed directly to God.

They are...
  His voice by which He speaks to us;
  His finger by which He touches us;
  His rod by which He corrects us;
  His sword, by which He smites us.

It seems to be the thought of many, that in
none of these can we or ought we to recognize,
directly and specially, the interposition of God;
that it is fanaticism to interpret them so as to
make them special messengers of God to us.
But the words before us are very explicit, "By
his mighty acts he governs the people."

The things by which He is here said to govern
the people, are the common things of the day
and year; the rain, the clouds, the lightning,
and such like. He uses these as His voice in...
  or commanding,
  or chastising,
  or comforting.

These common things do not come by chance,
or at random, or by dead law, but go out from
God as his messengers. Thus everything has
a divine meaning and a heavenly voice. Let
us listen and interpret and understand.

Summer speaks to us with its green fields and
fragrant gardens; winter speaks to us with its
ice and snow and frost. By these God governs
the people....
  the pestilence,
  the famine,
  the earthquake,
  the lightning,
  the storm,
  the shipwreck,
  the overthrow of kingdoms and kings.

Each of these has a special message to the
nations; and to each of us. Let us see God
drawing near to us in them; showing His care
and love, manifesting an unwearied concern
for our welfare.

Woe to us if we either misinterpret them,
or refuse to interpret them at all.

The common daily changes of personal or family
life, all speak in the same way. Not only the
sweeping calamity that carries off its hundreds,
but the sickness, the pain, or the gentle
indisposition; these have a voice to us.

He that has an ear, let him hear!

We disjoin God from creation, and so see
nothing in it of divine life and power.

We disjoin God from the changes of creation,
and so find no meaning in these.

We disjoin God from the beautiful or the terrible,
and so realize nothing in them which overawes, or
attracts, or purifies, or comforts.

We have so learned to separate between God
and the 'works of God', that we seem to imagine
that they contradict each other. The fair sky,
and the clear stream, and the green hills, all
speak of divine goodness.

This separation of God from His works is one
of the awful features of human unbelief.

How much more of Him should we know, were
we to interpret His works aright, and hear His
voice in each, whether in love or discipline.

"By his mighty acts he governs the people."
    Job 36:31

(David Harsha, "The Savior's Ascension")

The Spirit is given to supply the Savior's absence,
and to apply to our souls the redemption finished
on Calvary. It is His blessed work to glorify Jesus;
to testify of Him.

Through His power we are renewed; sanctified;
filled 'with all joy and peace in believing,' and
'abound in hope' of a blissful immortality.

The Spirit reveals the Savior to our souls in a
manner that renders Him exceedingly precious
in our estimation. He shows us....
  His excellence;
  the perfections of His divine nature, as the
    brightness of the Father's glory;
  His power, as the Creator of all things;
  His wisdom;
  His immutability;
  His eternity.

The Spirit exhibits to us....
  the amazing love of Jesus to sinners;
  the wonders of His incarnation;
  the amiableness of His life on earth;
  the spotless purity of His character;
  the unparalleled sufferings of His life;
  the fruits of His death, resurrection;
    ascension, and intercession.

The Spirit shows us His suitableness to our needs
as sinners; points us to Calvary, and whispers in
our ears the cheering truth, that we have redemption
through the blood of Jesus, even the forgiveness of sins.

The Spirit comforts us amid all the tribulations of
earth, by assuring us that our trials are but light and
momentary, by perfecting His strength in our weakness,
by bringing to our remembrance the many precious
words of the Lord Jesus, by communicating to us
the things of God, by lifting our hearts above the
world, and by pointing us to a home of rest and
glory beyond the skies; where tribulation, and
anguish, and death, never come.

Yes, by His divine power thus operating on our minds,
He enables us to look far beyond the present; to direct
faith's far reaching eye to our Father's house, and the
fountains of immortal life, flowing through those 'sweet
fields beyond the swelling flood,' the sight of which
makes us long to be there, that we may see Jesus as
He is, and taste His goodness on the shores of the
promised land.


(Horatius Bonar, "Human Remedies")

"And whenever the tormenting spirit from God
 troubled Saul, David would play the harp. Then
 Saul would feel better, and the tormenting spirit
 would go away." 1 Samuel 16:23

Here is music, religious music; the music of the
harp, the harp of David. This is soothing but it
does not reach the seat of the disease.

It is...
  something human,
  something external,
  something materialistic,
  something earthly,
  something that man can originate and apply.

It is effectual to a certain extent; it drives away
the tormenting spirit, and restores temporary
tranquility; thus possibly deceiving its victim.

In like manner we find the human spirit afflicted
in every age, sometimes more and sometimes less.

And in all such cases man steps in with his human
and external contrivances.  I do not refer to the
grosser forms of dispelling gloom; drunkenness and
profligacy, in which men seek to drown their sense
of need, and make up for the absence of God.

I refer to the refined remedies: those of
art, science, music, gaiety, by which men
try to minister to a diseased mind.

What is Romanism and Ritualism,
but a repetition of Saul's minstrelsy?

The soul needs soothing.

It is vexed and fretted with the world.

Its conscience is not at ease.

It is troubled and weary.

It betakes itself to religious forms, something for
the eye and ear; to chants, and vestments, and
postures, and performances, sweet sounds and fair
sights, sentimental and pictorial religion, which is
but a refined form of worldliness.

By these the natural man is soothed, the spirit
tranquilized; the man is brought to believe that
a cure has been wrought, because his gloom has
been alleviated by these religious spectacles,
these exhibitions which suit the unregenerate
soul so well.

They but drug the soul, filling it
with a sort of religious delirium.

They are human sedatives, not divine medicines!

They result in a partial and temporary cure.

It is said that the evil spirit departed, but
not that the Holy Spirit returned. Saul's
trouble was alleviated, but not removed.

The disease was still there!

The results of David's harp were only superficial.

So is it with the sinner still.

There are many external remedies, which
act like spiritual chloroform upon the soul.

They soothe, and calm, and please, but that is all.

They do not reach below the surface, nor
touch the deep seated malady within.

Men try rites, sacraments, pictures, music, dresses,
and the varied attractions of ecclesiastical ornament;
but these leave the spirit unfilled, and its wounds
unhealed. They cannot regenerate, or quicken, or
heal, or fill with the Holy Spirit.

They may keep up the self satisfaction and
self delusion of the soul, but that is all.

They do not fill, they merely hide our emptiness.

Our age is full of such contrivances, literary
and religious, all got up for the purpose of
soothing the troubled spirits of man...
ecclesiastical music,

What are all these but man's remedies for
casting out the evil spirit and healing the soul's
hurt without having recourse to God's one remedy?

These pleasant sights and sounds may soothe
the imprisoned soul, but what of that? They do
not bring it nearer to God, they do not work
repentance, or produce faith, or fix the eye on
the true Cross. They leave the soul still without
God, and without reconciliation.

The religion thus produced is...

It will not save nor sanctify.

It may produce a sort of religious inebriation, but
not that which God calls godliness, not that which
apostles pointed out as a holy life, a walk with God.

"And whenever the tormenting spirit from God
 troubled Saul, David would play the harp. Then
 Saul would feel better, and the tormenting spirit
 would go away." 1 Samuel 16:23


"The incredulity and stupidity of the natural
 man, with regard to supernatural and divine
 things, has no bounds!"   (Krummacher)

(Horatius Bonar, "The Sin, the Sinner, and the Sentence")

"At that moment, their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they strung fig leaves together to cover themselves." Genesis 3:7

They are alone, yet they are ashamed.

They are in Paradise, yet they are ashamed.

It is conscience that is making them blush.

It not only makes cowards of them, but it works shame and confusion of face. They are ashamed of themselves; of their nakedness; of their recent doings. They cannot look one another in the face after their disobedience and recriminations against one another. They cannot look up to God now. The feeling of happy innocence is gone.

They must be covered.

This is their feeling, the dictate of conscience. The eye must not see them, either of God or man. The light must not shine on them; the eye of the sun must not look on them; and the fair flowers and trees of Paradise must not see their shame. They love darkness rather than light. Covering is what they seek; covering from every eye.

Thus, shame and guilt are inseparable.

"I must be covered," is the sinner's first feeling; from the eye of God and man, even from my own. They cannot look on me, nor I on them! Thus far they are right. But now they go wrong.

Man thinks he can cover himself.

He knows not the greatness of the evil; he does not calculate on the penetration of the all seeing eye. He sets to work and makes himself a covering, and he says this will do.

What sin is, or what the sinner needs, or what God requires, he has no idea of.

Each sinner has his own way of covering himself.

He weaves his own web, whatever may be the substance of which it is composed. He wishes to be his own coverer, the maker of his own clothing. He thinks he can do it himself. He has no idea that it is utterly beyond his power. He trusts to the skill of his own hands to provide the dress that shall hide his shame from the eye of God and man. He thinks it an easy thing to deal with shame, and fear, and conviction, and conscience. He will not
believe that these can only be dealt with by God. This is the last thing that he will admit.

He will try a thousand plans before accepting this. He will make and try on many kinds or sets of clothing before betaking himself to that which God has made.

The unbelieving man's whole religious life is a series of plans and efforts for stitching a clothing for himself, with which to appear before God and before men; no, with which he hopes to appear before the judgment.

It is with this man made, this self made clothing, this earth made, or priest made, or church made religion, that he robes himself; with this he soothes conscience; with this he quiets fear; with this he removes the feeling of guilty shame. He can do all that is needful himself, or at the most with a little help from God.

Man thinks he can cover himself with fig leaves. He supposes that what will hide his shame from his own eye will hide it from God; that even such a frail covering as the foliage of the fig tree will do. He has no thought of anything beyond this. The fig leaf will do, he thinks. What more do I need?

But he is mistaken; the fig leaf will not do, broad and green as it may be. But why will it not do?

It is man's device, not God's. That which covers sin, and renders the sinner fit to draw near, must be of God, not of man. God only has the right, God only can, prescribe to man how he is to draw near.

What then is 'ritualism' but a religion of fig leaves?

It is simply for the body, not the soul. It does not relieve the conscience, or satisfy the guilty spirit, or cover the whole man. It is utterly insufficient. It could not remove one fear, or quiet one pang of remorse, or make the man feel tranquil in the presence of God.

Man's devices for covering sin are useless. They may be easy or difficult; cheap or costly; still they are vain. They profit nothing. The covering is narrower than a man can wrap himself in.

Man's devices for covering sin are innumerable. Good deeds, long prayers, fervent feelings, self mortifications and penances; church attendance, rites, ceremonies, religious performances; such are man's ways for approaching God, his coverings for a sinful soul. They are all fig leaves!

Man's devices for covering sin all turn upon something which he himself has to do, not on what God has done. Man misses the main point of importance.

Man's devices for covering sin assume that God is such a one as himself. He can conceal himself from his fellow man; therefore he thinks he can cover himself, so that God shall not see him. That which conceals him from a human eye, he supposes will conceal him from a divine.

Man's devices for covering sin all trifle with sin. They do not fathom its depths of malignity in God's sight. They assume that it will be easily forgiven and forgotten. They overlook its evil, its hatefulness, its eternal desert of woe.

What are fig leaves as a protection against the wrath of God, or the flames of hell!

The sooner we reach this conclusion ourselves
(William Plumer, "Job's Trials and Mercies")

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!

Solomon thoroughly experienced the world. His
sober inspired judgment was that all was vanity.
The sooner we reach this conclusion ourselves,
the wiser shall we be.

(Spurgeon, "Now, and Then")

"Now we see things imperfectly as in a poor mirror,
 but then we will see everything with perfect clarity."
  1 Cor. 13:12

When we get to heaven, we shall understand the
reasons of many of God's Providential dealings.

We shall there discover that...
    wars that devastated nations,
    and pestilences that fill graves,
    and earthquakes that make cities tremble,
are, after all, necessary cogs in the great wheel
of the divine machinery; and He who sits upon the
throne at this moment, and rules supremely every
creature that is either in heaven, or earth, or hell,
will there make it manifest to us that His government
was right.

It must come out right in the long run; it must be
well. Every part and portion must work together
with a unity of design to promote God's glory and
the saint's good. We shall see it then! And we shall
lift up our song with new zest and joy, as fresh
displays of the wisdom and goodness of God,
whose ways are past finding out, are unfolded
to our admiring view.

(Krummacher, "The Suffering Savior")

The world feels that the teachings of Christ...
  destroy their false peace,
  condemn their carnality, and
  demand the sacrifice of their idols.

Hence they are averse to, and incensed against Him.

The Christian religion disturbs the hornet's
nest, tears away the plasters and coverings
from secret wounds, and awakens conscience,
which had been rendered lethargic by a variety
of magic potions.

Hence their hatred and animosity to it.

(Thomas Reade, "The Desire of More")

"You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or
 covetous person will inherit the Kingdom of
 Christ and of God. For a covetous person is
 really an idolater who worships the things
 of this world."  Ephesians 5:5

The love of money insinuates itself
into every heart, under every form.

A day is fast approaching, when it will be
clearly seen, whether Christ or Mammon
has swayed our affections.

Covetousness, in the language of Scripture,
is the desire of having more. If we are
habitually desirous of riches, for their own
sake, we are, in the estimation of God,
covetous people, idolaters, the servants of
mammon. Our station may be exalted;
our profession of religion may be outwardly
strict, but still our destruction is sure.

There are, perhaps, few sins which assume
so plausible an appearance; and for which
so many excuses are made as for that of
covetousness. And hence it is that we have
need to guard so much the citadel of the heart.

Covetousness, or the desire of more,
eating, like a canker, upon the vitals
of our religion, is the crying evil of
both the Church and of the world.

What advantage did Achan, Gehazi, Judas,
and Ananias and Sapphira, gain by their
desire for more? They reaped shame and
death; and now stand as beacons in the
word of God to warn us against their soul
destroying sin.

"And how do you benefit if you gain the
 whole world but lose or forfeit your own
 soul in the process?" Luke 9:25

(Krummacher, "Elijah the Tishbite")

Man is from his birth a degenerate being,
blind and naked, alienated from the life of
God, through the ignorance that is in him,
and a willing servant of sin.

He neither knows Christ, nor feels his need of him.

He cries, "Peace! Peace!" to himself
and to others, "when there is no peace."

Erroneous ideas of God and of himself
lull him into carnal security.

(Thomas Reade, "Christian Meditations")

It is comparatively easy to live in
the form of godliness....
  to attend the service of the sanctuary,
  to pray in private and in the family,
  to read the Scriptures,
  to associate with religious people,
  to talk about religion, and
  to give alms to the poor.

These duties can be performed, yet
the heart may not be right with God.

Experience affords abundant proof,
that all this may be done....
  from a principle of self righteousness;
  from a principle of vainglory;
  from a desire to be seen of men,
  and to obtain a name.

To ascertain my real character, I must look
into the heart. Do I labor to perform these
outward duties with a single eye to the favor
and glory of God?

The flame of vainglory, which is kindled by
the pride of fallen nature, is fanned and
increased by the suggestions of Satan, and
kept alive by the praises of men. Oh! how
difficult it is, to keep down this unhallowed fire!

Even when we think it is quenched, it is still
smoldering beneath the embers, ready to burst
forth at the least blast of Satan's temptations.

(Thomas Reade, "Christian Meditations")

Strange to tell; yet, no less strange than
true, the worst enemy I have is MYSELF!

I may flee from other enemies,
but from this I cannot escape.

Wherever I go, SELF still is there.

The inbred evil travels with me.

I may cross mighty oceans, traverse extensive
deserts, plunge into the deepest recesses of
the tangled forest, or the caverned earth, yet,
in the profoundest solitude, SELF is there!

None but the true believer knows the dreadful
conflicts between the flesh and the Spirit.

His cry is; "Oh that I had wings like a dove!
for then would I flee away and be at rest!"

But soon he feels the vanity of this wish;
for even if could he fly on eagle's wings to
the earth's remotest bounds, he would
carry with him all the evil he deplores.

He therefore prays for present grace and
strength, for present power to conquer sin,
and glorify his Savior in the place divine
wisdom has appointed for him.

Lord Jesus, you alone can enable me...
  to vanquish the powers of darkness,
  to overcome the corruptions of my heart,
  to crucify the lustings of the flesh.

    spiritual meditation,
    secret prayer, and a
    devout study of the Holy Scriptures.
(Reade, "Christian Meditations")

(Thomas Reade, "Christian Meditations")

Adorable Jesus! I acknowledge my vileness, my
worthlessness, my ingratitude. With shame and
confusion of face I look up unto you, O bleeding
Lamb, for having slighted your goodness, and
your loving kindness towards me.

Take away this earthliness from my mind; this
coldness from my heart; this insensibility to the
things of God. Preserve me from a secret alienation
of heart; from a growing lukewarmness.

You are the Rock of Ages, the everlasting Strength.
Endue me with power from on high to overcome all
my indwelling corruptions, which, like a thick cloud,
intervene between my soul and you, the Sun of
Righteousness; and thus prevent the rays of your
consolation from gladdening my heart, and making
me to abound in the fruits of righteousness.

To whom can I look, to whom can I go, but unto
You, O Friend of sinners. Lord, at your sweet call,
I come for pardon, peace, and holiness.

Lord! I am sorely grieved, that I love you so little;
that my affections move so slowly towards you.

Stir up my languid desires.

Inflame my cold affections.

Set my whole soul on fire with holy love.

How painful, that I should be so little affected
by the agony and bloody sweat, the cross and
passion, of my suffering Redeemer.

Why is not my soul all on fire, when I think
of your love? Why is it not melted into tears,
when I think of my dying Savior?

Am I harder than the rock in Horeb?

Am I colder than the northern ice?

Lord! smite my rocky heart with the rod of your
loving kindness; dissolve my frozen affections,
by the melting beams of your grace.

O! blessed Jesus! I praise you for such infinite love,
such abounding grace to the chief of sinners!

(Reade, "Christian Meditations")

Many wear the garb of sanctity.

Outward profession has grown
profusely, but true piety, is still,
as it ever was, a rare plant.

It grows not in nature's soil.

It is an exotic.

Our defiling, chilling world, is
little congenial to its growth.

But He, who plants it in the
prepared ground of the heart
is Almighty. He waters it by his
Spirit, casts upon it the warm
beams of His love, and renders
it fruitful to His glory.


(Thomas Reade, "Christian Meditations")

Everything here below is fleeting and transitory.

While journeying through this wilderness of
troubles, few verdant spots are to be found,
on which the weary traveler can repose.

The earth lies under the curse.

Thorns and thistles cover the ground.

Storms and tempests agitate the air.

Disease and death dissolve the dearest ties.

Everything around me bespeaks the Fall,
and testifies that this is not my rest. Why,
then, should my foolish heart repose itself
on any creature comfort? Have I still to
learn that all of this world, is less than
nothing, and vanity?

"Oh! blessed Jesus, reveal yourself to my heart;
soften, melt, and renew it. Consume all the dross
which it contains, and transform it, wholly, after
your image; that, while surrounded by evils of
every name, and sorrows of every kind, which
abound in this rebellious, dying world, I may
enjoy the light of your countenance, and the
purifying influence of your love. Fill me with
your love; satiate my soul with your goodness;
and make me an everlasting trophy of your grace."

(Thomas Reade, "Christian Meditations")

There is something extremely delightful
in enjoying the blessings of Providence,
not only as pleasant in themselves, but
as the gifts of covenant love. This gives
a double relish to all the innocent
enjoyments of life.

(Thomas Reade, "Christian Meditations")

A more pitiable sight cannot be seen, than
a man sunk in poverty and disease, and, at
the same time, sunk in the depths of sin.

He has nothing but wretchedness here, and
nothing but torment in the world to come!

Oh! that the spirit of grace may lead every
such child of woe to that Friend of sinners,
whose blood cleanses from all sin, and whose
love can rescue the vilest who flee unto him.


(Thomas Reade, "Christian Meditations")

The enmity of the carnal mind is ever
directed against the work of Christ.

The moralist, the formalist, the worldling,
and the sensualist, are alike opposed to the
humbling, purifying doctrines of the Cross.

Holiness is offensive to the unrenewed mind.

The more spiritual any religious exercise or book
is, the more it is disliked. Give some truly scriptural
volume to a lover of the world, and how will he
receive it? After glancing his eyes over a few of
its pages, he will lay it down with a contemptuous
smile. He will pity the enthusiast who wrote it,
and the enthusiast who admires it.

Give him some newly launched novel, some work
replete with wit and humor, and he will devour
its contents, even though it requires the midnight
oil to finish it. Here, all his heart is engaged, all
his passions are excited, imagination ads wings
to his flight, and, soaring into the realms of fancy,
into the fairy land of unreal life, he sinks into his
slumbers, regardless whether he awake in time
or in eternity!

(Thomas Reade, "Christian Meditations")

To the true believer, afflictions are blessings
in disguise. Every trial is intended for my good.

My foolish heart would be too much attached
to earth if the spade were not inserted to
loosen the fibers, and disengage the root,
that when transplanted, I may bear a richer
fruit in the Paradise above.

My heavenly Father, whose love and wisdom
are infinite, knows exactly what I need, and
how much suffering is needed to promote the
spirituality of my mind.

Shall I then repine at his dispensations of love?

A murmuring spirit increases every evil.

It doubles the affliction.

It adds a sting to sorrow.

If our hearts are in heaven, the trials of earth
will be light and momentary, for love can
sweeten every care, and lighten every cross.

A Savior's love disarms affliction of its sting.

Oh! that we may learn wisdom by every
dispensation of Providence; and yield more
fruit by every application of the pruning knife!

The divine husbandman prunes every branch
in Christ, that it may bring forth more fruit.

(Thomas Reade, "Christian Meditations")

Everything to which we give the heart, becomes our idol.

Pleasure, wealth, and power, form the world's trinity!

Before these idols they bow down in adoration.

All their thoughts, time, and talents are employed
in their service. No sacrifice is deemed too great to
obtain possession of these vanities.

Alas! thousands, who call themselves Christians,
who have been baptized in the name of Christ,
and who make a nominal profession of Christianity,
worship these idols which Satan has set up!