Grace Gems for December 2002

Are you as a bruised flower?

(Octavius Winslow, "Morning Thoughts")

It is in times of soul abasement, that the . . .
  tenderness, and
  grace of the Holy Spirit are better known.

As a Comforter, as a Revealer of Jesus, we are,
perhaps, more fully led into an acquaintance with
the work of the Spirit in seasons of soul abasement
than at any other time. The mode and time of His
divine manifestation are thus beautifully predicted:
"He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass:
 as showers that water the earth."  Psalm 72:6

Observe . . .
  the gentleness,
  the silence, and
  the sovereignty of His operation: "He shall come
down like rain." How characteristic of the blessed
Spirit's grace!

Then mark the occasion on which He descends.
It is at the time of the soul's deep prostration . . .
  the waving grass is mowed,
  the lovely flower is laid low,
  the fruitful stem is broken,
that which was beautiful, fragrant, and precious is cut down . . .
  the fairest first to fade,
  the loveliest first to die,
  the fondest first to depart.

Then, when . . .
  the blessing is gone,
  and the spirit is bowed,
  when the heart is broken,
  the mind is dejected, and
  the world seems clad in wintry desolation and gloom,
the Holy Spirit, in all the . . .
  comforting, and
  refreshing influence of His grace, descends,
speaks of the beauty of Jesus, leads to the
grace of Jesus, lifts the bowed soul, and
reposes it on the bosom of Jesus!

Precious and priceless, then, beloved, are the
seasons of a believer's humiliation. They tell . . .
  of the soul's emptiness,
  of Christ's fullness;
  of the creature's insufficiency,
  of Christ's all sufficiency;
  of the world's poverty,
  of Christ's affluence.

They create . . .
  a necessity which Jesus supplies,
  a void which Jesus fills,
  a sorrow which Jesus soothes,
  a desire which Jesus satisfies.

They endear the cross of the incarnate God,
they reveal the hidden glory of Christ's humiliation,
they sweeten prayer,
they lift the soul to God.

Are you as a bruised flower?

Are you as a  broken stem?

Does some heavy trial now bow you in the dust?

Oh never, perhaps, were you so truly beautiful;
never did your grace send forth such fragrance,
or your prayers ascend with so sweet an odor;
never did faith, and hope, and love develop their
hidden glories so richly, so fully as now!

In the eyes of a wounded, a bruised, and a
humbled Christ, you were never more lovely, and
never more precious to His heart than now . . .
  pierced by His hand,
  smitten by His rod,
  humbled by His chastisement,
  laid low at His feet,
  condemning yourself,
  justifying Him,
  taking to yourself all the shame, and
  ascribing to Him all the glory!

These Canaanites!
(Thomas Reade, "Christian Meditations")

"They could not drive out the Canaanites
 who continued to live there." Joshua 17:12

Sin is ever abhorrent to a holy God, and
distressing to a renewed mind. Can the
believer, then, derive any benefit from the
sin which he hates, and against which he
hourly combats?

These Canaanites in the land, though grievous
to the spirit of a true Israelite, as thorns are to
his flesh, may be overruled by Infinite Love to
teach him many lessons.

These Canaanites remind him of his former
condition, of the rock from where he was hewn,
and of the hole of the pit from where he was
dug; of his natural depravity, wretchedness,
and misery, that so, he may loathe himself in
his own sight.

These Canaanites constrain him to acknowledge
the grace of God in saving him, when he had nothing
to expect but fiery indignation and judgment without

These Canaanites make him distrust him self,
through the constant experience of his own weakness
in resisting the world, the flesh, and the devil.

These Canaanites cause him to trust altogether
in the divine power of his Savior, from the repeated
victories which he obtains over indwelling sin, by
looking with a single eye to Jesus, the Captain of
his salvation.

These Canaanites bring into exercise the graces
of faith and patience, courage and self denial,
watchfulness and prayer. The weapons of his
warfare are not allowed to rust, having daily to
fight the good fight of faith.

These Canaanites make him value the blood
and righteousness of Christ, which rise in value,
in proportion to the true and saving knowledge
which he acquires of himself. Thus, the more he
is convinced of his sins and imperfections, the
more earnestly does he seek after a better
righteousness to justify him in the sight of God,
even the spotless righteousness of Jesus Christ.

These Canaanites make him long more ardently
for the rest which remains for the people of God;
for that pure world, where sorrow cannot enter,
where indwelling sin will never harass the soul,
but where he will forever behold his adorable
Redeemer, and be made like him, when he
shall see him as he is.

"They could not drive out the Canaanites
 who continued to live there." Joshua 17:12


Have we not many Orpahs?
(Horatius Bonar, "The Kiss of the Backslider")

"Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye. But
 Ruth insisted on staying with Naomi."  Ruth 1:14

Orpah was not prepared to leave Moab.

The ties between her and it were still unbroken, though
for a time a little loosened. Moab was still Moab to her,
the home of her kindred, the center of her affections,
the dwelling place of her gods.

Thus millions are not ready to leave the world,
though often in some measure broken from it.

They cling to their old haunts of...
  lust, or

They cannot think of forsaking these.

No, they soothe their consciences with the argument,
that it would not be right to break off from all these.
To them the world is still the world; attractive and
excellent. They cannot think of crucifying it, or
themselves to it. They have been born in it, lived in
it, their friends are in it; why should they leave it?

Their hearts are still here, their treasure is here;
and they linger in it, though at times they feel the
necessity of leaving it.

What would life be to them without the novel or the
ballroom, the theater, the gay assembly, the banquet,
the revel, the folly, the wine cup, and the song?

For the sake of Moab, Orpah was willing to part with
Naomi. She was not without longings after Naomi
and her city, and her kindred, and her God. But her
old longings and ties kept her back, and in the end
prevailed. Yet she wished to part in peace, to bid a
decent farewell to her mother in law. She kissed
that she might not cleave. Her kiss was a farewell;
a farewell to Naomi, her land, and her God.

Have we not many Orpahs?

They would sincerely have both Israel and Moab.

They would rather not part with either.

Their heart is divided.

They would sincerely cast in their lot with
God's people, and obtain their inheritance.

They are not scoffers.

They are not openly godless.

They are not reckless pleasure seekers.

But half and half Christians, or rather not so much.

They would be religious up to a certain point;
to the point when a choice must be made; and
then their heart speaks out.

They give up Christ, and turn back to the world.

Yet they do so quietly, as it were, and kindly.

They kiss at parting; but will that kiss avail them?

Will God accept the kiss as an excuse for turning
back, or as a substitute for the whole hearted
service which He desires?

God will not accept the divided heart.

He abhors vacillation and compromise.

If you prefer Moab, go dwell there!

Enjoy its pleasures, and worship its gods!

If you choose Israel, pitch your tent
there, and take Jehovah for your all.

"Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye. But
 Ruth insisted on staying with Naomi."  Ruth 1:14


A canker into the very core of your spirituality!
(Octavius Winslow "Evening Thoughts")

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this
 world, but be transformed by the renewing of your
 mind." Romans 12:2

Heavenly-mindedness can only be maintained by
the strictest vigilance. It is a delicate and fragile
flower, susceptible of every variation of the spiritual
atmosphere. Guard against that which checks its

Many are not aware how much . . . .
  great joviality,
  light conversation,
  foolish jesting,
  novel reading,
  carnal music,
unfit the heart for communion with God,
and lessen the tone of its spirituality.

Close communion with mere nominal religious
professors is particularly to be avoided. Much
more injury to spiritual-mindedness accrues
from intimate friendship with such, than from
those who assert no pretensions to a religious
character; as with the one we are apt to be
less on our guard than the other.

Avoid the world's amusements; they will eat as
a canker into the very core of your spirituality!

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this
world" is a prohibition which should never be absent
from the eye of a traveler to the heavenly city.

Are not heaven's attractions many and powerful?

How rich is heaven! Why, then, should not our
thoughts be there? Oh! shall not our hearts be
more where our most precious treasure is, where
our holiest and dearest hopes center, and where
we ourselves shall shortly be?


Trials and discomforts?
(Octavius Winslow, "Morning Thoughts")

"There is therefore now no condemnation to
 those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1

How strong the consolation flowing from this
truth to the believer in Jesus! 'No condemnation' is
the ground of all comfort to the suffering Christian.

God may afflict you, but He will never condemn you.

Chastisements are not judgments.

Afflictions are not condemnations.

Sickness, bereavement, and poverty, you can welcome
and patiently bear. The fiery trials which purify our faith
have not a spark in them of that "unquenchable fire"
that will consume the condemned hereafter.

Oh, what are the trials and discomforts of this
present world, if at last we are kept out of hell!

And oh, what are the riches, and honors, and comforts
of this life, if at last we are shut out of heaven!

At the bottom of that cup of sinful pleasure which
sparkles in the worldling's hand, and which with such
zest and glee he quaffs, there lies eternal condemnation.
The death-worm feeds at the root of all his good.

But at the bottom of this cup of sorrow, now trembling
and dark in the hand of the suffering Christian, bitter
and forbidding as it is, there is no condemnation;
eternal glory is at the root of all his evil.

Christian, your whole life ought to be, a sweetly-tuned
psalm, a continual anthem of thanksgiving and praise,
pouring forth its swelling notes to the God of your
salvation; since beyond the cloudy scene of your
present pilgrimage there unveils the light and bliss
of celestial glory, on whose portal you read as you
pass within—No Condemnation!


A worldly Christianity?
(Octavius Winslow, "Morning Thoughts")

"Do not be conformed to this world." Romans 12:2

Professor of the gospel! guard against the world; it
is your undoing! Watch against conformity to it . . .
  in your dress,
  in your mode of living,
  in the education of your children,
  in the principles, motives, and policy that govern you.

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit by . . .
  any known inconsistency of conduct,
  any sinful conformity to the world,
  any inordinate pursuit of . . .
    its wealth,
    its honors,
    its pleasures,
    its friendships, and
    its great things.

Pray against the sin of covetousness, that canker
worm that feeds at the root of so many souls!

Pray against the love of dress, that sin that diverts
the mind of so many professors from the simplicity of
Christ, and takes the eye off from the true adornment!

Pray against a thirst for light and trifling reading, that
strange and sinful inconsistency of so many, the certain
tendency of which is to starve the life of God in the soul,
to engender a distaste for spiritual nourishment, for
the Word of God, for holy meditation, and for Divine
communion and fellowship. Yes, pray against the
spirit of worldly, sinful conformity in everything!

Reader! are you a professing Christian? Then guard
against a worldly Christianity—a Christianity that
wears a fair exterior, so far as it is composed of church
attendance, but which excludes from it the cross of the
meek and lowly Lamb of God—a Christianity which
loves the world and the things of the world, "makes
a fair show in the flesh," speaks well of Christ, and
yet betrays Him with a kiss. Oh, awful state! oh,
fearful deception! oh, fatal delusion!

The world is the sworn enemy of your Savior; let it not
be your friend. No; come out of it, and be separate.


(Octavius Winslow, "Evening Thoughts")

"For God makes my heart soft, and the
 Almighty troubles me." Job 23:16

The hour of affliction is the hour of softening . . .
  the hardness of the heart yields,
  the callousness of the spirit gives way,
  the affections become tender,
  conscience is more susceptible.

The hour of softening is the season . . .
  of holy abstraction,
  of meditation,
  of prayer,
  of withdrawment from the world and
from creature delights, while the soul
is more closely shut in with God.

The heart, now emptied, humbled, and softened
is prepared for the work of the Spirit; and what
an impression is then made! What discoveries of
God's love to the soul! What enlarged views . . .
  of the personal glory of Christ,
  of the infinite perfection of His work,
  of the preciousness of the atoning sacrifice,
  of the hatefulness of sin, and
  of the beauty of holiness!

Low views of yourself?
(Octavius Winslow, "Evening Thoughts")

What are you to yourself?

What is Jesus to you?
  all your salvation?
  all your desire?

What is sin to you?
  the most hateful thing in the world?

What is holiness to you?
  most lovely?
  most longed for?

What is the throne of grace to you?
  the most attractive spot?

What is the cross to you?
 the sweetest resting place in the universe?

What is God to you?
  your God?
  your Father?
  the spring of all your joys?
  the fountainhead of all your bliss?
  the center where your affections meet?

Is it so? Then you are a child of God!

Those low views of yourself . . . .
  that brokenness,
  that inward mourning,
  that secret confession,
  that longing for . . .
    more spirituality,
    more grace,
    more devotedness,
    more love,
does but prove the existence, reality,
and growth of God's work within you.

Cheer up, precious soul!

That soul never perished, that felt itself
to be vile, and Jesus to be precious!


Herod's birthday ball?
(Horatius Bonar, "Herod's Ball-room")

But at a birthday party for Herod, Herodias's daughter performed a dance that greatly pleased him, so he promised with an oath to give her anything she wanted. At her mother's urging, the girl asked, "I want the head of John the Baptist on a tray!" So John was beheaded in the prison, and his head was brought on a tray and given to the girl, who took it to her mother. Matthew 14:6-11

Herod's birthday ball was a high and royal festival. Pomp, splendor, luxury, and lust were all gathered there. In the midst of the song, and the glitter, and the mirth, there was one troubled conscience, that of Herod—one trembling man, Herod. His soul was ill at ease, though surrounded with all that the world could give to banish care.

His course of sin had been begun and persevered in. He was braving out his crimes; and like worldly men in such circumstances, he rushes into gaiety to drown his troubles and terrors. The pleasures of the feast and the ball-room, the song and the dance—these are welcomed to induce forgetfulness, and "minister to a mind diseased."

In how many cases do men fly to the ball, the theater, the card-table, the tavern, the riotous party, not simply for pleasure's sake, and to "taste life's glad moments," but to drown care, to smother conscience, to efface convictions, to laugh away the impressions of the last sermon, to soothe an uneasy mind, to relieve the burden, or pluck out the sting of conscious guilt! O slaughter-houses of souls! O slaughter-houses, reeking with blood!

O lust of the flesh, lust of the eye, and pride of life, when will you cease to intoxicate, and lead men captive at your will? O God-forgetting gaiety! O dazzling worldliness! O glittering halls of midnight, when, when will you cease to be resorted to by the sons of men to "heal the hurt" of the human soul, to still its throb and heartache, and to medicate the immedicable wound?

It is a gay scene. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life are there. All that can minister to these are there. Herod is there, feeding on lust, drinking in pleasure, stupefying conscience. The fair daughter is there, in all the splendor of gay wantonness. And the vile mother is there, lascivious and revengeful. And the courtiers are there, in pomp and glitter. Music and mirth are there. The dance and the song are there. No note of gloom, no indication of trouble. What a scene of mirth and revelry!

These scenes of royal vanity are instructive; for they present the world in its most fascinating aspects. All that regal state, and princely beauty, and wealth, and gold, and silver, and gems, and tapestry, and blazing lamps can do, to make this world fair, is in such scenes and haunts. These balls are the most seductive specimens of pure worldliness that can be found. Surely the god of this world knows how to enchant both ear and eye. In an assembly like this, the natural man is at home. Here the unregenerate heart gets scope to the full.

It was during that ball that the murder of John was plotted and consummated; that a drunken, lustful king, urged on by two women, perpetrated that foul deed. Such are the haunts of pleasure! Such are the masquerades of time. Lust is let loose; revenge rises up; murder rages; conscience is smothered; the floor of the ball-room is spotted with blood; the dancers may slip their feet in it, but the dance goes on. Such was the coarse worldliness of old days. But is the 'refined worldliness' of modern times less fatal to the soul? The ball is finished, and John lies dead in prison. What a picture of gaiety! What a specimen of ball-room revelry! And this is pleasure! This is the world's joy!

Of the chief actors in this ball-room murder, nothing more is said. They pass to the judgment-seat, there to receive sentence for lust, rage, revenge, and murder. They have sent John before them to the presence of his Judge to receive his reward.

The day of recompense is coming!

O gaieties of earth! Feasts, and revelings, and banquetings, how often have you slain both body and soul! Men call you innocent amusements, harmless pleasures; but can you be harmless, can you be innocent, when you steal away the soul from God, when you nurse the worst lusts of humanity, when you smother conscience, when you shut out Jesus, when the floors on which your votaries dance off their immortal felicity, are red with the blood of souls!


Bought with a high price!
(Spurgeon, "Bought with a Price" #1004)

"For God bought you with a high price."
 1 Cor. 6:20

Refresh in your souls a sense of the fact
that you are "bought with a high price."

There in the midnight hour, amid the olives of
Gethsemane, kneels Immanuel the Son of God;
he groans, he pleads in prayer, he wrestles.
See the beady drops stand on his brow, drops
of sweat, but not of such sweat as pours from
men when they earn the bread of life, but the
sweat of him who is procuring life itself for us.
It is blood! It is crimson blood! Great gouts of
it are falling to the ground! O soul, your Savior
speaks to you from out Gethsemane at this hour,
and he says: "Here and thus I bought you with a
price." Come, stand and view him in the agony of
the olive garden, and understand at what a cost
he procured your deliverance.

Track him in all his path of shame and sorrow until
you see him at Gabbatha. Mark how they bind
his hands and fasten him to the whipping-post. See,
they bring the scourges and the cruel Roman whips;
they tear his flesh; the ploughers make deep furrows
on his blessed body, and the blood gushes forth in
streams, while rivulets from his temples, where the
crown of thorns has pierced them, join to swell the
purple stream. From beneath the scourges he speaks
to you with accents soft and low, and he says, "My
child, it is here and thus I bought you with a price."

But see him on the cross itself when the consummation
of all has come. His hands and feet are fountains of
blood, his soul is full of anguish even to heartbreak;
and there, before the soldier pierces with a spear his
side, bowing down he whispers to you and to me,
"It was here and thus, I bought you with a high price."

O by Gethsemane, by Gabbatha, by Golgotha, by
every sacred name collected with the passion of our
Lord; by sponge and vinegar, and nail and spear,
and everything that enlarged the pain and increased
the anguish of his death, I implore you, my beloved
brethren, to remember that you were "bought with
a high price," and "are not your own."


The life-buoy?
(Spurgeon, "Christ Is All" No. 1006)

Whatever trials you have, my dear brother,
Christ is all in all to meet them.

Are you poor? He will make you rich in
your poverty by his consoling presence.

Are you sick? He will make your bed in
your sickness, and so will make your
sick-bed better than the walks of health.

Are you persecuted? Be it for his sake,
and you may even leap for joy.

Are you oppressed? Remember how he also
was oppressed and afflicted; and you will
have fellowship with him in his sufferings.

Amidst all the vicissitudes of this present
life, Christ is all that the believer needs to
bear him up, and bear him through. No
wave can sink the man who clings to this
life-buoy; he shall swim to glory on it!

Jesus is all I need.  Jesus is . . . .
  the living water to quench my thirst,
  the heavenly bread to satisfy my hunger,
  the snow-white robe to cover me,
  the sure refuge,
  the happy home of my soul,
  my food and my medicine,
  my solace and my song,
  my light and my delight.

The believer can say, "Christ is mine." No
emperor is half as rich as the beggar that
has Christ. He that has Christ, being a pauper,
has all things. And he that has not Christ,
possessing a thousand worlds, possesses
nothing for real happiness and joy.

Oh, the blessedness of the man who
can say, "Christ is mine!"


Damned by being self-righteous?
(Spurgeon, "North and South"#1007)

There is nothing more certain than this—
that you cannot be saved and keep your
sins—they must be parted with.

No man can carry fire in his bosom and yet be
safe from burning. While you drink the poison,
it must and will work death in you. The thief
cannot expect mercy while he keeps the goods
he has stolen.

Will you keep your sins and go to hell,
or leave your sins and go to heaven?

Most men in their heart of hearts would like
to have their sins, and go to heaven too. But
that cannot be! While God is just, and heaven
is holy, and truth is precious, it cannot be!

What if the man does not go to hell as a
drunkard—it will not help him if he is damned
by being self-righteous. So long as he is lost
I do not see that it materially matters how
he goes to hell.

Many and many a man has given up outward
sins and set up a self-righteousness of his
own, and said, "These are my gods!" And so
he fled from a bear, and a lion slew him;
he leaned on a wall, and a serpent bit him.

All sin must be cast out of the throne of the
heart, and whatever righteousness that is not
Christ's righteousness must go with it.

I would sincerely put the sword-point to your
heart, O sinner, and say, "Give up all that
opposes Christ!" For if you do not give it up,
your soul will be lost!

It entwines him with its deadly windings?
(Sprague, "Lectures to Young People," revised)

How insidious is sin! People are beguiled by
sin, and do not think of the danger until it is
too late to avert it!

From small and almost imperceptible beginnings,
sin gradually makes its way, until it reduces the
whole person to its mastery, and brings into
captivity every affection and faculty of the soul!

Sin first throws out the bait of 'pleasure' and then
flatters its victim onto forbidden ground. Then it
makes him the willing captive of temptation. Sin
does not give up until its dupe is fast bound in
the chains of eternal death!

Sin, in its very nature, is deceitful. It is a
stranger to all open and honest dealings.
Its very element is the region of . . .
  false appearances,
  lying promises, and
  fatal snares!

When sin shows itself to its unwary victim,
it puts on a smiling countenance, and makes
fair pretentions, and takes care to conceal
its hideous features, until, like a serpent,
it entwines him with its deadly windings,
and renders his escape impossible, and
consigns his soul to destruction!


The Gospel
(Octavius Winslow, "Morning Thoughts")

The gospel is the master-work of Jehovah,
presenting the greatest display of His manifold
wisdom, and the most costly exhibition of the
riches of His grace. In constructing it He would
seem to have summoned to His aid all the
resources of His own infinity . . .
   His fathomless wisdom,
   His boundless love,
   His illimitable grace,
   His infinite power,
   His spotless holiness,
all contributed their glory, and conspired
to present it to the universe as the most
consummate piece of Divine workmanship!

The revelations it makes,
the facts it records,
the doctrines it propounds,
the effects is produces,
proclaim it to be the "glorious
gospel of the blessed God."

We live encircled by shadows . . .
  our friends are shadows,
  our comforts are shadows,
  our supports are shadows,
  our pursuits are shadows, and
  we ourselves are shadows passing away.

But in the precious gospel we have substance,
we have reality, we have that which remains
with us when all other things disappear, leaving
the soul desolate, the heart bleeding, and the
spirit bowed in sorrow to the dust.

But the gospel . . .
   guides our perplexities,
   mitigates our griefs,
   sanctifies our sorrows,
   heals our wounds,
   dries our tears,
because it leads us to . . .
   the love,
   the tenderness,
   the sympathy,
   the grace of Jesus.

The gospel . . .
   reveals Jesus,
   speaks mainly of Jesus,
   leads simply to Jesus,
and this makes it "glad tidings of great joy," to
a poor, lost, ruined, tried, and tempted sinner!


Sleeping soundly?
(Horatius Bonar, "True Vigils")

The world at large is . . .
   thoroughly careless;
   sleeping soundly;
   dreaming its dreams of vanity;
   enjoying . . .

Awake! sleep no more! Awake, lest
the flash of God's avenging sword be
the first thing that awakens you!


No oil?
(Bonar, "Religion Without the Holy Spirit")

"The five who were foolish took no oil for
 their lamps."  Matthew 25.3

This parable has many sides and aspects.
It is prophetical; it is also practical.
It suits all ages, but especially the last days.
It suits the world, but especially the church of God.
It is searching and sifting.
It is also quickening and comforting.
It suits us well in these days of . . .
  fashionable religion and
It is a parable for the church.
It comes in to the inner circle of Christian
profession, and sifts it, divides it.

There are points of likeness between the two classes.
    They get the same name, virgins;
    they wear the same dress;
    they are on the same errand;
    they both have lamps;
    they both slumber and sleep.
They have thus many features in common.

The peril of mere externalism is that which our
Lord points out here. This externalism may not
always be hypocrisy, but it is imitation. It is not
the flower in its natural color and growth, but
painted, artificial. Let us watch against an
artificial life, and an artificial religion. What
does it profit now? What will it profit in the
day of wrath? The name, the dress, the lamp,
the outward show, will all go for nothing in
that day of universal discovery and detection.

Though in most respects they were all alike,
yet there was a difference. It was within; it
was imperceptible from without; it could only
be discovered when the bridegroom came. Up
until then all were completely similar. Only
then the deficiency came out in the foolish.
Then was it seen who were wise, and who
were foolish. That day is the day of certain
and unerring detection. It is the day of
weighing in the balances! It is the separation
of the false from the true.

The difference was confined to a single point,
the lack of oil. The oil is the Holy Spirit. Thus
a man may be very like a Christian, and yet
not be one. He may come very near the kingdom,
and yet not enter in. He may have all the outward
features of a Christian, and yet be lacking in the
main one. He may have the complete dress of
the saint, and yet not be one.

He may have a good life, a sound creed, a strict
profession; he may be one who says and does
many excellent things; he may be a subscriber
to all the religious societies in the land, a member
of all their committees, or a speaker at all their
meetings, and supporter of all their plans; he
may profess to be looking for Christ's coming,
and going forth to meet the bridegroom, yet
not necessarily a Christian!

He may lack the oil, the Holy Spirit.

A religion without the Holy Spirit profits nothing.

There is the religion . . .
    of the intellect,
    of the sense,
    of the imagination,
    of the flesh,
    of the creed,
    of the liturgy,
    of the catechism,
    of nature,
    of poetry,
    of sentiment,
    of mysticism,
    of humanity.
But what are these without the Spirit?

Christianity without Christ, what would that be?

Worship without God, what would that be?

So religion without the Holy Spirit, what would that be?

The five who were foolish took no oil for their lamps.
"Sir! Sir!" they said. "Open the door for us!"
But He replied, "I tell you the truth, I don't know you."


So deplorable a state!
(Spurgeon, "Job's Regret and Our Own")

Many pastors have grown 'professional' in
their service, and preach like automatons,
wound up for a sermon, to run down when
the discourse is over.

They have little more care for the souls
of men than if they were so much dirt!

Too many pastors are fascinated with . . .
  technical trifles about words,
  fancies of speculation, or
  fopperies of oratory.

God forgive us if we have fallen into so
deplorable a state!


As though it had never been!
(Octavius Winslow, "Morning Thoughts")

Child of God, soon, oh, how soon! all that now
loads your heart with care, and wrings it with
sorrow; all that dims your eye with tears, and
renders the day anxious and the night sleepless;
will be as though it had never been!

Emerging from . . .
  the entanglement,
  the dreariness,
  the solitude,
  the loneliness and
  the temptations of the wilderness,
you shall enter upon  your everlasting rest,
your unfading inheritance, where there is . . .
  no sorrow,
  no declension,
  no sin,
  no sunset,
  no twilight,
  no evening shadows,
  no midnight darkness,
but all is one perfect, cloudless, eternal day; for
Jesus is the joy, the light, and the glory thereof.


The chastening of love!
(Octavius Winslow, "Morning Thoughts")

Oh, could we always analyze the 'embittered cup',
how astonished should we be to find that in the
bitterest draught that ever touched our lips, the
principal ingredient was love!

Love saw the discipline needful.
Love selected the chastisement sent.
Love appointed the instrument by which it should come.
Love arranged the circumstances by which it should take place.
Love fixed the time when it should transpire.
Love heard the sigh.
Love saw the tear.
Love marked the anguish.
Love never for one moment withdrew its beaming eye from the sufferer.

Alas! how much is this truth overlooked by
the disciplined and suffering believer!

Think, suffering child of God, of the many consoling,
alleviating, and soothing circumstances connected
with your chastisement. Think of . . .
  the many divine supports,
  the precious promises,
  the tenderness of God,
  the gentleness of Christ,
and all this will demonstrate to you
that this is the chastening of love!

Welcome your trials; they are sent by your Father.

Welcome the stroke of His rod; it is a Parent smiting.

Welcome whatever detaches you from earth,
and wings your spirit heavenward.

Welcome the furnace that consumes the dross
and the tin, and brings out the precious gold and
silver, to reflect in your soul, even now, the
dawnings of future glory.

Oh! be submissive, meek, and quiet,
under God's chastening and afflicting hand!


Superstitious regard for times and seasons?
(Spurgeon, "Joy Born at Bethlehem" December 24, 1871)

We have no superstitious regard for times and seasons.

Certainly we do not believe in the present ecclesiastical
arrangement called Christmas. First, because we do not
believe in the mass at all, but abhor it, whether it be
said or sung in Latin or in English. And, secondly, because
we find no Scriptural warrant whatever for observing any
day as the birthday of the Savior; and, consequently, its
observance is a superstition, because not of divine authority.

Superstition has fixed most positively the day of our Savior's
birth, although there is no possibility of discovering when it
occurred. Probably the fact is that the 'holy days' were
arranged to fit in with heathen festivals. We venture to
assert, that if there be any day in the year, of which we
may be pretty sure that it was not the day on which the
Savior was born, it is the twenty fifth of December.

There are those who, on December 25th, will pretend to
exhibit joy in the remembrance of our Savior's birth, but they
will not seek their pleasure in the Savior. Joy in Immanuel
would be a poor sort of mirth to them. In this country,
too often, if one were unaware of the name, one might
believe the Christmas festival to be a feast of Bacchus,
certainly not a commemoration of the Divine birth.

Since it is lawful, and even laudable, to meditate upon
the incarnation of the Lord upon any day in the year, it
cannot be in the power of other men's superstitions to
render such a meditation improper for today. Regarding
not the day, let us, nevertheless, give God thanks for
the gift of his dear Son.


Made for frivolities?
(Spurgeon, "The One Thing Needful" #1015)

Were you made only to be a machine for digging
holes, laying bricks, or cutting out pieces of wood?
Were you created only to stand at a counter and
measure or weigh out goods? Do you think your
God made you for that and that only?

Is this the chief end of man? to earn so many
dollars a week, and try to make ends meet?

Is that all immortal men were made for?

As a man with a soul, capable of thought and
judgment, and not a mere animal like a dog,
nor a machine like a steam engine; can you
stand up and look at yourself, and say, "I
believe I am perfectly fulfilling my destiny"?

God has made man that he may glorify him; and
whatever else man accomplishes, if he attains
not to this end, his life is a disastrous failure.

Others are lovers of pleasure. They are merry as
the birds, their life is as the flight of a butterfly,
which lightly floats from flower to flower, according
to its own sweet will.

It cannot be that an immortal spirit was
made for frivolities; spending all its time
on the playthings of the world.

So great a thing as an immortal soul could not
have been made by God, with no higher object
than to spend itself upon trifles as light as air.

Oh, pause a while, you careless, godless one!
There is something more than the fool's laugh.
All things are not a comedy. Death and heaven
and hell are serious; and should not life be?

The charms of music, the merriment of the gay
assembly, the beauties of art, and the delights
of banqueting; there must be something more
for you than these; and something more must
be required of you than that you should waste
your precious time from morn to night upon
nothing but to please yourself!


Long, habitual, and uninterrupted mercies?
(Hannah More, "Prayer")

That sun that has shone unremittingly from the
day is a stupendous exertion of God's power, an
astonishing exhibition of omnipotence.

In adoring the providence of God, we are apt
to be struck with what is new and out of the
usual course, while we too much overlook long,
habitual, and uninterrupted mercies.

But common mercies, if less striking, are more
valuable, because we have them always.

The ordinary blessings of life are overlooked for
the very reason for which they ought to be most
prized; because they are most uniformly bestowed.

They are most essential to our being; and when
once they are withdrawn, we begin to find that
they are also most essential to our comfort.

Nothing raises the price of a blessing like its
removal, whereas it was its continuance which
should have taught us its value.

We prefer novelties to awaken our gratitude,
not considering that it is the duration of the
common mercies which enhances their value.

We desire fresh excitements.

We consider mercies long enjoyed as things to be
taken for granted, as things to which we have a
sort of presumptive claim; as if God had no right to
withdraw what he has once bestowed, as if he were
obliged to continue what he has once been pleased
to confer.


Modern manufacturers of gods?
(Spurgeon, "Joy in God" #2550 Romans 5:11)

Many are very busy trying to construct a god for
themselves, such as they think God ought to be.

And it generally turns out that they fashion a god
like themselves, for that saying of the psalmist
concerning idols and 'idol makers' is still true,
"And those who make them are just like them,
as are all who trust in them."  Psalm 135:18

These modern manufacturers of gods make
them blind because they are themselves blind,
and deaf because they are deaf, and dead
because they are spiritually dead.

Some quarrel with God as a Sovereign, and
no doctrine makes them grind their teeth like
the glorious truth of divine sovereignty.

They profess to want a god, but . . .
  he must not be on a throne;
  he must not be King;
  he must not be absolute and universal Monarch.

He must do as his creatures tell him, not as
he himself wills. Their effeminate deity is not
worthy to be known by the name of God!


Precious fruits of sanctified affliction?
(by Newman Hall)

"It was good for me that I have been afflicted."

One of the precious fruits of sanctified affliction
is humility.  If pride is the Christian's greatest
foe, anything that rebukes it is our great friend.

Pride in our 'strength' is rebuked by infirmity.

Pride in our 'beauty' is rebuked by disease.

Pride in our 'wealth' is rebuked by losses.

Pride in our 'fame' is rebuked by slander.

"It was good for me that I have been afflicted."


The Sun of righteousness
(Spurgeon, "The Sun of Righteousness" #1020)

"But for you who revere my name, the Sun of
 righteousness will rise with healing in its wings."
    Malachi 4:2

The golden tressed sun is the most glorious
object in creation; and in Jesus the fullness
of glory dwells.

The sun is at the same time the most influential
of existences, acting upon the whole world; and
truly our Lord is, in the deepest sense, of this
great world both eye and soul. He with benignant
ray sheds beauty, life, and joy from above.

The sun is, moreover, the most abiding of creatures;
and therein it is also a type of Him who remains
from generation to generation, and is the same
yesterday, today, and forever.

The 'king of day' is so vast and so bright that
the human eye cannot bear to gaze upon him.
We delight in his beams, but we would be blinded
should we continue to peer into his face. Even yet
more brilliant is our Lord by nature, for as God he
is a consuming fire, but He deigns to smile upon
us with milder beams as our brother and Redeemer.

Jesus, like the sun, is . . .
  the center and soul of all things,
  the fullness of all good,
  the lamp that lights us,
  the fire that warms us,
  the magnet that guides and controls us.

Jesus is the source and fountain of all . . .
   and strength.

Jesus is . . .
  the fosterer of tender herbs of penitence,
  the quickener of the vital sap of grace,
  the ripener of fruits of holiness, and the life of
everything that grows within the garden of the Lord.

Whereas to adore the sun would be idolatry;
it is treason not to worship ardently the divine
Sun of righteousness.

As the sun is the center, so is Christ to His people.

As the sun is the great source of power,
so is Christ to His people.

As the sun is the fountain from which
light, life, and heat perpetually flow,
so is the Savior to His people.

As the sun is the fructifier by which fruits
multiply and ripen, so is Christ to His people.

Enthrone Jesus as the central sun of your hearts.
Bask in his beams, and let Him rule your entire
being; enlightening your understanding; warming
your hearts; filling all your powers, passions, and
faculties with the fullness of his presence. Come
and lay your souls beneath His divine influence.

Come, plunge into this sea of sweetness,
dive deep into this abyss of happiness!


Are you a Ciceronian?
(Spurgeon, "Joy Born at Bethlehem")

Perhaps you know the legend, or perhaps true
history of the awakening of Augustine. He
dreamed that he died, and went to the gates
of heaven, and the keeper of the gates said to
him, "Who are you?" And he answered, "I am a
Christian." But the porter replied, "No, you are
not a Christian, you are a Ciceronian, for your
thoughts and studies were most of all directed
to the works of Cicero and the classics, and
you neglected the teaching of Jesus. We judge
men here by that which most engrossed their
thoughts, and you are judged not to be a
Christian but a Ciceronian."

When Augustine awoke, he put aside the classics
which he had studied, and the eloquence at which
he had aimed, and he said, "I will be a Christian
and a theologian;" and from that time he devoted
his thoughts to the word of God, and his pen and
his tongue to the instruction of others in the truth.

Oh I would not have it said of any of you, "Well,
he may be somewhat Christian, but he is far more
a keen money getting tradesman." I would not have
it said, "Well, he may be a believer in Christ, but
he is a good deal more a politician."

Perhaps he is a Christian, but he is most at
home when he is talking about science, farming,
engineering, horses, mining, navigation, or
pleasure taking.

No, no, you will never know the fullness of the
joy which Jesus brings to the soul, unless under
the power of the Holy Spirit you take the Lord
your Master to be your All in all, and make him
the fountain of your intensest delight.


A deadly enemy!
(Sprague, "Lectures on Revivals of Religion")

Beware of the world!

Everyone who has made much progress in
the Christian life, has been taught by his own
experience that the world is a deadly enemy
to the believer's growth in grace.

The cares of the world are exceedingly
apt to mar the Christian character.

But there are, in addition . . .
   the pleasures of the world,
   the honors of the world,
   the riches of the world;
all of which in turn seize hold of
the heart with a mighty grasp.

Sometimes the world laughs and scoffs at the
Christian, and tries to persuade him that he is
giving himself to fanaticism and folly.

Sometimes it flatters and caresses him, and by
its artful blandishments, seeks to draw him aside
from the plain path of duty.

Indeed the world will assume any form, or turn
into anything, to draw the Christian away from
God and from duty.

How important then that you be on guard against
this dangerous enemy! Beware especially against
the levities and amusements of the world; for this
is the point at which you are most in danger.


Weaned and divorced from creature help!
(Octavius Winslow, "Waiting and Watching")

It is sweet to lean upon one we love, hanging
upon his arm for support, and reclining upon
his bosom for sympathy; one on whose wisdom
we can unhesitatingly rely, in whose love we
can confidently repose.

Transfer this thought to God! How unutterable
the blessedness, how vast the privilege, and
how happy the result of waiting upon Him who
stands to us in the relation of our Father and
Redeemer; our Brother and Friend; waiting the
movement of His pillar of cloud; waiting the
supply of His inexhaustible providence; waiting
the comfort of His unchanging love; waiting for
the fulfillment of the word of promise upon
which He has caused our soul to hope!

"My soul waits on the Lord."

There does not exist a more privileged and holy
condition of the soul than that of being entirely
cast upon God. When the created arm fails to
sustain, and the human heart to love; when
earthly props give way, and affection and
sympathy have fled their last asylum; when
the barrel of meal is well near exhausted, and
the cruse of oil distills its last drop; oh then to
exclaim, "My soul, wait only upon God; for my
expectation is from Him." This is a privilege
indeed, a privilege eclipsing all others!

Oh count it the richest experience of the divine life
when, thus weaned and divorced from creature help,
you are brought to wait only on the Lord, exclaiming,
"Now I have no prop, no supply, no sympathy, no
comfort, but that which I find in Jehovah. I am shut
up to Infinity alone; my help comes from the Lord."

The gracious soul hangs in faith upon God . . .
upon the veracity of God to fulfill His promise;
upon the power of God to help him in difficulty;
upon the wisdom of God to counsel him in perplexity;
upon the love of God to shield him in danger;
upon the Omniscience of God to guide him with His eye;
and upon the Omnipresence of God to cheer him
  with His presence, at all times and in all places,
  his Sun and his Shield.

Oh have faith in God! The moment the soul can
believingly repose upon Him, it ceases to be the
sport of every wind and wave of circumstance and
doubt, and drops its anchor on the firm and
immovable bedrock of DIVINITY!


A religious man?
(Bonar, "The Doom of the Double Hearted")

Then Balaam uttered this oracle... "Let me die
the death of the righteous, and may my end be
like theirs!" Numbers 23:7, 10

They have left the straight way and wandered
off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who
loved the wages of wickedness. 2 Peter 2:15

Balaam is a specimen of multitudes in these last
days. An educated and intelligent man, shrewd and
quick seeing, of respectable character, high in favor
with the rich and great, a religious man, too, after
a fashion.

But he is fond of the world, fond of money, fond
of preferment; one that would not let his religion
stand in the way of his advancement; who could
pocket all scruples if he could pocket a little gold
along with them; hollow of heart, but with a
acceptable outside.

His worldly interests are the main thing to him.

He would rather not risk offending God, but yet he
would not like to lose Balak's rewards and honors.
He would rather not take up his cross, nor deny
himself, nor forsake all for his God.

So is it with multitudes among us.

They want as much religion as they imagine
will save them from hell; not an atom more!

The world is their real God.

Gold is their idol.

It is in mammon's temple that they worship.

Love God with all their heart? They don't so
much as understand the meaning of such a thing.

Sacrifice riches, place, honor, friends to Christ?
They scoff at the thing as madness.

Don't trifle with religion.

Don't mock God.

Love not the world.

Be religious in your inmost soul.

Don't mistake sentimentalism for religion;
or a good character for the new birth.

This world OR the world to come, that is the
alternative; not this world AND the world to come.

Christ must be all, or nothing.

No middle ground; no half discipleship; no compromise.

The friendship of the world is enmity with God.

Come out and be separate.

The new birth, or no religion at all.

Then Balaam uttered this oracle... "Let me die
the death of the righteous, and may my end be
like theirs!" Numbers 23:7, 10

They have left the straight way and wandered
off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who
loved the wages of wickedness. 2 Peter 2:15


I am going to prepare a place for you.
(John MacDuff, "The Words of Jesus")

"I am going to prepare a place for you.
 When everything is ready, I will come and
 get you, so that you will always be with Me
 where I am." John 14:2-3

What a wondrous thought!

Jesus is now busied in Heaven in His people's
behalf! He can find no abode in all His wide
dominions, befitting as a permanent dwelling
for His ransomed ones.

He says, "I will make a new heavens and
a new earth. I will found a special kingdom.
I will rear eternal mansions expressly for
those I have redeemed with my blood!"

Orphaned pilgrims, dry your tears! Soon the
sighs of a groaning and burdened creation will
be heard no more. Soon He will come again, to
receive those who followed Him in His cross, to
be everlasting partakers with Him in His crown!


What a pillow on which to rest your aching head!
(John MacDuff, "The Faithful Promiser")

"Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now
 for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness
 through many trials." 1 Peter 1:6

"If need be!"  Three gracious words!

Not one of all my tears has been shed for nothing!

Not one stroke of the rod has been unneeded,
or that might have been spared!

Your heavenly Father loves you too much,
and too tenderly, to bestow harsher correction
than your case requires!

Is it loss of health, or loss of wealth, or loss of
beloved friends? Be still! there was a needs be!

We are no judges of what that "needs be" is;
often through aching hearts we are forced to
exclaim, "Your judgments are a great deep!"

But God here pledges Himself, that there will
not be one unnecessary thorn in the believer's
crown of suffering!

No burden too heavy will be laid on him.

No sacrifice too great exacted from him.

God will "temper the wind to the shorn lamb."

Whenever the "need be" has accomplished its end, then . . .
  the rod is removed;
  the chastisement suspended;
  the furnace quenched.

"If need be!" Oh! what a pillow on which to rest
your aching head! that there is not a drop in all
your bitter cup but what a God of love saw to be
absolutely necessary!

Will you not trust His heart, even though you
cannot trace the mystery of His dealings?

Do not be too curious to prying into the "Why it is?"
or "How it is?" but satisfied that "So it is," and,
therefore, that all must be well!