Grace Gems for August 2002

In every thorn and thistle
(Thomas Reade, "Christian Experience")

In every thorn and thistle we may read the fall of man.

Had man never sinned, he would never have suffered. No
thorns or thistles would have sprung up beneath his feet.

Now, they cover the earth, as perpetual emblems
of man's misery, and of God's displeasure.

A new impulse?  A nobler bent?
(Hannah More, "Christianity an Internal Principle")

The Holy Spirit operates on the human character
to produce a new heart and a new life. By this
operation the affections and faculties of the man
receive a new impulse....
   his dark understanding is illuminated,
   his rebellious will is subdued,
   his irregular desires are rectified;
   his judgment is informed,
   his imagination is chastised,
   his inclinations are sanctified;
   his hopes and fears are directed to
      their true and adequate end.

Heaven becomes the object of his hopes, and
eternal separation from God the object of his fears.

His love of the world is transformed into the love of God.

The lower faculties are pressed into the new service.

The senses have a higher direction.

The whole internal frame and constitution receive a nobler bent....
    the intents and purposes of the mind, a sublimer aim;
    his aspirations, a loftier flight;
    his vacillating desires find a fixed object;
    his vagrant purposes a settled home;
    his disappointed heart a certain refuge.

That heart, no longer the worshiper of the
world, is struggling to become its conqueror.

His own Father!
David Harsha, "The Crucifixion"

"My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?"

He drinks the bitter cup of God's wrath due to sin.

The powers of darkness fiercely assail Him.

He enjoys no sensible communion with Heaven.

It is the gloomiest period in His whole life.

But at length His agony is so piercing that He is
constrained to utter the most touching words of grief.

"My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?"

His Father; His own Father; in whose bosom He had
lain from eternity; His Father, by whom He was always
beloved; has withdrawn the light of His countenance
from Him; and from His cross arises a most piercing
and agonizing cry.

"My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?"

Oh, how mysterious, how solemn, how affecting is
this cry! It is the most doleful that ever came from
the lips of Christ during His sorrowful sojourn from
the manger to the cross.

Ah! why does He hang on yonder cross, uttering
with 'strong crying and tears' these doleful words?

It was not the nails which pierced His hands and feet,
nor the agony of a crucifixion, that caused this mournful cry.

He was now offering Himself a sacrifice for the sins
of the world. As our Surety He suffered all that divine
justice required to bring the sinner back to God and
to glory.

Here is the great mystery of Godliness: the Father
bruises the Son, and puts Him to grief for our sakes;
and all those cries, and tears, and groans of Him,
whom the Father appointed to accomplish our
salvation, were for us.

On His shoulders was laid the enormous load of human guilt.

Oh, what can we render to our Divine Savior
for His amazing and unparalleled love to us?

Sign here!
F. B. Meyer, "The Blessed Life"

Dear Christian reader, seek some quiet spot,
some still hour, and yield yourself to God.

Make a definite consecration of yourselves to God.
With most it would be sufficient to write out Miss
Havergal's hymn, "Take my life, and let it be," and
to sign your name at the bottom.

Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice, and let me sing always, only, for my King.
Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect, and use every power as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.  

                 Sign here __________________

In a few years?
by Thomas Chalmers

In a few years our heads will be laid in the cold
grave, and the green turf will cover us. The children
who come after us will tread upon our graves.

They will weep for us a few days.

They will talk of us a few months.

They will remember us a few years.

Then our memory shall disappear from the face of the
earth, and not a tongue shall be found to recall it.

"If only they were wise and would understand this
 and discern what their end will be!" Deut. 32:29

Spiritual pride is the bane of all true godliness!
Thomas Reade, "The Importance of Self Knowledge"

John MacDuff, "The Rainbow in the Clouds"

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

Much is baffling and perplexing to us in God's
present dealings. "What!" we are often ready
to exclaim, "could not the cup have been less
bitter; the trial less severe; the road less dreary?"

"Hush your misgivings," says a gracious God; "Do
not arraign the rectitude of My dispensations. You
shall yet see all revealed and made bright in the
mirror of eternity!"

 "What I am doing" -it is all My doing, My appointment.

You have partial view of these dealings; they are
seen by the eye of sense through a dim and distorted
medium. You can see nothing but plans crossed, and
gourds laid low, and "beautiful rods" broken. But I
see the end from the beginning.

"Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?"

"Later you will understand!"

An earthly father does not baffle the ear of his small
child with hard sayings and involved problems. He
waits for the manhood of being and then unfolds all.

So it is with God!

We are now in our infancy; children lisping in earthly
infancy a knowledge of His ways. We shall learn the
"deep things of God" in the manhood of eternity!

Christ now often shows himself only "behind the lattice,"
a glimpse and He is gone! But the day is coming when
we shall "see Him as He is!" when every dark hieroglyphic
in the Roll of Providence will be interpreted and expounded!

It is unfair to criticize the half finished picture;
to censure or condemn the half developed plan.

God's plans are here in embryo.

But a flood of light will break upon us from the
sapphire throne; "In your light, O God! we shall see
light." The "need be," muffled as a secret now, will
be confided to us then, and become luminous with love.

Perhaps we may not have to wait until eternity for
the realization of this promise. We may experience
its fulfillment here. We frequently find, even in this
present world, mysterious dispensations issuing in
unlooked for blessings.

Jacob would never have seen Joseph had he not
parted with Benjamin. Often would the believer
never would have seen the true Joseph had he not
been called on to part with his best beloved!

His language at the time is that of the patriarch,
"I am indeed bereaved!" "All these things are against
me!" But the things he imagined to be so adverse,
have proved the means of leading him to see the
heavenly King "in His beauty" before he dies.

Much is sent to "humble us and to prove us."

It may not do us good now, but it is
promised to do so "at our latter end."

I shall not dictate to my God what His way should be.

The patient does not dictate to the physician. He
does not reject and refuse the prescription because
it is nauseous; he knows it is for his good, and takes
it on trust.

It is for faith to repose in whatever God appoints.

Let me not wrong His love or dishonor His faithfulness by
supposing that there is one needless or redundant drop
in the bitter cup which His loving wisdom has mingled.

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

Conceive of the rapid and glorious change!
David Harsha, "The Crucifixion"

How full of mercy is the Redeemer of mankind;
in His own death saving the dying malefactor!

While nailed to the accursed tree, enduring the
most indescribable suffering both of body and soul,
He turns His gracious eye to the penitent thief, and
addresses to him these cheering words, "I assure
you, today you will be with Me in paradise." Luke 23:43

What more animating words could have been spoken
by the Savior to one whose past life was stained with
sin, and who was now punished for his transgression, and
about to appear before the Judge of heaven and earth!

Today you shall pass with Me through the gates of Paradise.

Today you shall drink wine with Me in My Father's
kingdom, and eat of the fruit of the Tree of Life,
which grows in the midst of Paradise.

Today you shall enjoy the most blissful and intimate
communion with Me in those heavenly mansions which
are irradiated by the glory of God and the Lamb.

Wondrous grace indeed!

How glorious the transition to that poor
dying thief, reclaimed by sovereign grace!

Little did he think, when that last morning of his
life dawned, that the day of his wretched execution
was to end in such happiness; that the storm of
angry elements of the morning would be changed
into so blessed an evening's calm.

Conceive of the rapid and glorious change!

In the morning nailed to the cruel cross;
in the evening wearing a golden crown!

In the morning cast out as too vile for earth;
in the evening welcomed into the highest heaven!

In the morning blaspheming a dying Savior;
in the evening with that Savior in Paradise!

In the morning pierced with sorrows more
bitter than the nails in his hands and feet;
in the evening ceasing from care and pain,
and enjoying a peaceful rest!

In the morning surrounded by angry foes,
in whose curses he joined; in the evening
received among angels and the spirits of the
just, joining in the chorus of the redeemed!

In the morning on earth;
in the evening in heaven!

In the morning on the borders of hell;
in the evening caught up to Paradise.

How marvelous, how matchless, the richness of Divine grace!

Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity, transgression, and sin!

Precious fountain of redeeming blood!

How many thousands, once as vile as the dying thief,
have since washed their robes in this blood of the Lamb;
thousands who are now with Christ in Paradise. Yes,
with Christ beholding His surpassing glory; now tasting
of the immortal fruit of the Tree of Life; now standing
before the throne, and joining in all the sweet, and
melodious, and transporting songs of the heavenly temple!

"Blessed Jesus, may our hearts glow with seraphic
  love to You, our Savior, when we think of Your
  amazing compassion for sinners, which led You
  to forsake the bosom of the Father, and the
  adoration of the heavenly host, for the manger
  of Bethlehem, and the cross of Calvary!"
David Harsha, "A Guide to the Savior"

Every unrenewed man hates God?
David Harsha, "The Death of Christ"

Every unrenewed man hates God, the most
excellent and glorious Being; the Fountain of all
light, and life, and felicity; the eternal King.

Man does not love to think of the nature of that
Being who is of purer eyes than to behold evil,
and who cannot look on iniquity. God is not in
all his thoughts.

The language of depraved hearts to God is,
"Go away. We want no part of You and Your ways.
Who is the Almighty, and why should we obey Him?"

How astonishing that man should be filled with
such inveterate enmity against his blessed Creator;
that he should hate His holy and righteous law; and
slight the only remedy for all our spiritual disease,
the Gospel of His Son!

How astonishing that man should delight in that
which is impure and odious in the sight of heaven;
love the heavy burden of sin; and take pleasure in
provoking God to anger by all kinds of wicked works!

Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth! This is what the
 Lord says: "The children I raised and cared for have
 rebelled against Me!"   Isaiah 1:2

"Be appalled at this, O heavens, and shudder with
 great horror," declares the Lord.   Jeremiah 2:12

A horrible and shocking thing is done!
(J. C. Ryle, "Calvary")

I know no greater proof of man's depravity
than the fact that thousands of so called
Christians see nothing lovely in the cross.

Well may our hearts be called stony,
well may the eyes of our mind be called blind,
well may our whole nature be called diseased,
well may we all be called dead, when the cross
of Christ is heard of, and yet neglected.

Surely we may take up the words of the prophet,
and say, "Hear, O heavens, and be astonished,
O earth: A horrible and shocking thing is done!"
Christ was crucified for sinners, and yet many
Christians live as if He was never crucified at all!

Would I know how exceedingly sinful and
abominable sin is in the sight of God?

Shall I turn to the history of the flood,
and read how sin drowned the world?

Shall I go to and mark what sin
brought on Sodom and Gomorrah?

No! I can find a clearer proof still,
I look at what happened on Calvary.

There I see that sin is so black and
damnable that nothing but the blood
of God's own Son can wash it away.

There I see that sin has so separated me
from my holy Maker that all the angels
in heaven could never have made peace
between us; nothing could reconcile us,
short of the death of Christ.

Ah, if I listened to the wretched talk of
proud men I might sometimes imagine sin
was not so very sinful; but I cannot think
little of sin when I look at Calvary.

I find no balm for a sore conscience and a
troubled heart like the sight of Jesus dying
for me on the accursed tree. There I see
that a full payment has been made for all
my enormous debts.

I feel sure that there is a way to heaven for
the very vilest of men, when I look at the cross.

Would I find strong reasons for being a holy
man? I will look at Calvary and the crucifixion.

There I see that Jesus gave Himself for me,
not only to redeem me from iniquity, but also
to purify me. He bore my sins in His own body
on the tree, that I being dead unto sin should
live unto righteousness.

Ah, reader, there is nothing so sanctifying
as a clear view of the cross of Christ!

It crucifies the world unto us, and us unto the world.

How can we love sin when we remember
that because of our sins Jesus died?

Would I learn how to be contented and cheerful
under all the cares and anxieties of life? What
school shall I go to? How shall I attain this
state of mind most easily? Shall I look at the
sovereignty of God, the wisdom of God, the
providence of God, the love of God? It is well
to do so. But I have a better argument still.

I will look at Calvary and the crucifixion.

I feel that He who spared not His only begotten
Son but delivered Him up to die for me, will surely
with Him give me all things that I really need.

He that endured that pain for my soul, will surely
not withhold from me anything that is really good.

He that has done the greater things for me,
will doubtless do the lesser things also.

He that gave His own blood to procure me a
home, will unquestionably supply me with all
that is really profitable for me by the way.

Ah, reader, there is no school for learning
contentment that can be compared with
Calvary and the foot of the cross!

Life is like a painted dream?
(Winslow, "This God is Our God")

"For this God is our God forever and ever;
 He will be our guide even to the end." Ps. 48:14

"The world passes away."

Everything here in this present world is changing.

"Life is like a painted dream,
 Like the rapid summer stream,
 Like the fleeting meteor's ray,
 Like the shortest winter's day,
 Like the fitful breeze that sighs,
 Like the waning flame that dies,
 Darting, dazzling on the eye,
 Fading in eternity."

A rope of sand,
a spider's web,
a silken thread,
a passing shadow,
an ebbing wave,
are the most fitting and expressive emblems of
all things belonging to this present time's state.

The homes that sheltered us in childhood we leave.

The land which gave us birth we leave.

The loved ones who encircled our hearths pass away.

The friends of early years depart.

And the world that was so sunny, and life that was
so sweet, is all beclouded and embittered; the whole
scenery of existence changed into wintry gloom.

Such are the saddening, depressing
effects of life's vicissitudes.

But in the midst of all, "This God

All beings change but God.

All things change but heaven.

The evolutions of time revolve,
the events of earth go onward,
but He upon whom all things hang,
and by whom all events are shaped
and controlled, moves not.

"I, the Lord, do not change."

Our affairs may alter.

Our circumstances may change.

Our relations and friends may depart one by one.

Our souls in a single day pass through
many fluctuations of spiritual feeling.

But He who chose us to be His own, and who
has kept us to the present moment, is our
covenant God and Father forever and ever,
and will never throw us off and cast us away.

"For this God is our God forever and ever;
 He will be our guide even to the end." Ps. 48:14

The buzzing of a fly
(Winslow, "The God of Bethel")

Look at that flower!

It toils not, it spins not; and why?
Because your Heavenly Father clothes it.

Look at that bird!

Leaping from bow to bow, springing from hill
to valley, sparkling with beauty, gushing with
song, and wild with ecstatic delight! It has
not a thought or care of its own; and why?
Because God thinks and cares for it.

Oh, you of little faith!

Why do you hesitate...
   to trust all your personal interests,
   to confide all your worldly affairs,
   to disclose all your temporal needs
        and sorrows in prayer to God?

He is not too high for your lowest need,
nor too great for your smallest care.

"If the buzzing of a fly troubles me,"
says John Newton, "I may take it to God."

This is not mere sentiment.

It is the practical embodiment of a principle of
experimental religion most honoring to God and
sanctifying to us; the principle of faith, which...
  acknowledges God in all our ways,
  sees God in everything, and
  takes everything, the smallest, to God.

The doctrine of creature merit?
(Winslow, "The God of Grace")

"Salvation is of the Lord."

Salvation is but the unfolding of the
boundless grace of God to lost, vile,
and hell deserving sinners.

All the religions of men; and their name
is "legion"; are based upon the principle
of human merit.

All are founded upon some imagined good
and power in the creature, the effect of
which is totally to set aside the Atonement
of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit in
the soul.

In fact, the doctrine of creature merit is
the fatal element of man's religion, the
moral poison of his soul; the remedy for
which is only found in a believing reception
and heart felt experience of the free grace
salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The whole plan of salvation is based
upon free grace, or, in other words,
God's unpurchased favor to sinners.

This idea, of course, repudiates and ignores
all worth and worthiness whatever on the
part of the creature, man.

Human merit, therefore, is entirely excluded
as an element entering into our salvation; the
whole scheme, from first to last, being by grace.

Christ died, not for saints, but for sinners.

He receives, not the worthy, but the unworthy.

He came to heal, not the whole, but the sick.

He came to call, not the righteous, but sinners, to repentance!

Salvation, from first to last, is of free grace!

The inexhaustible treasures of His grace!

(Winslow, "The God of Grace")

"And my God will meet all your needs
 according to His glorious  riches in
 Christ Jesus." Philip. 4:19

Bring your perplexities to God, and He will guide them.

Bring your needs to God, and He will supply them.

Bring your mountains to God, and He will level them.

Bring your sins to God, and He will forgive them.

Bring your sorrows, trials, and temptations to God,
and He will sustain you under, and will bring you
through them, to the praise and glory of His great
Name, as the "God of all grace."

Your supplies may be exhausted, but not His fullness.

Your need may press, but there is no pressure on His sufficiency.

Your power may be limited, but His is illimitable.

Your grace may be shallow, but His is fathomless.

And you may ask, "From where will my next supply
come?" while, at the moment that the anxious
question is trembling upon your lip, the supply
that is to silence it is laid up in the inexhaustible
treasures of His grace, and will be sent just at
the moment that will awaken in you the sweetest
song, and yield to Him the richest glory.

An experimental Christian
(Winslow, "This God is Our God")

The religion of the true believer is experimental;
it is the religion of the heart. He has no dealings
with an unknown, imaginary God.

He does not know God from the hearing of the ear,
or from the reading of books, or from the religious
conversation of others merely; but He knows Him
from personal acquaintance, from heartfelt
experience, from close and constant dealings.

There has been a manifestation of God in Christ to his
soul, and with Job he can say, "I have heard of You
by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You."

And with the converted Samaritans, "We no longer
believe just because of what you said; now we have
heard for ourselves, and we know that this man
really is the Savior of the world." John 4:42

Oh to be a true, an experimental Christian!

The religion of the ear, or of the eye, or of the
imagination, or of the intellect, will not, and
cannot bring the soul to heaven!

The abodes of endless woe are peopled with
souls who went down to its regions of despair
with no better religion than this!

Oh, give me...
  the humility of the publican,
  the trembling faith of the diseased woman,
  the flowing tears of the penitent Magdalene,
  the last petition of the dying thief,
rather than the most intellectual religion or
the most gorgeous ceremonial that the mind
ever invented, or the eye ever beheld.

The empty, oilless, flameless lamp
(Winslow, "The God of Light")

See to it that your religious knowledge is not
borrowed from a Church, or from a minister,
or from a creed, but is derived directly and
only from Christ.

Let your knowledge of Christ, your faith in
Christ, your love to Christ, your obedience to
Christ, be the test and the measure of the
light that is in you.

Is there not a great danger of borrowing,
our religious thoughts, sentiments, and
phraseology, from others?

And was not this the case with the foolish
virgins in the parable, when they exclaimed,
"Please give us some of your oil because
 our lamps are going out." Matthew 25:8

Oh, it is of the utmost importance that our
religious light is not a borrowed or false light.

See that your religion is your own; the
personal, vital experience of your own heart.

It is easy; nothing easier, more deceptive or
fatal; than to make a religious profession, adopt
a religious ceremonial, imitate the experience,
and quote the language of others.

A borrowed or a counterfeit religion is of all
religions, the most ensnaring and dangerous.

Do not go to the grave clad in the religious
habiliments of others; but robed in Christ's
true and joyous garments of salvation, "girded
with the golden girdle" of truth, holiness, and love.

Bear not to death's gate the empty, oilless,
flameless lamp of a mere religious profession.

The wrath of God let loose upon His Son!
(Winslow, "The God of Holiness")

Divine holiness is best exhibited in the cross of Jesus.

Not hell itself, dreadful and eternal as is its suffering:
the undying worm, the unquenchable fire, the smoke
of the torment that goes up forever and ever; affords
such a solemn and impressive spectacle of the
holiness and justice of God in the punishment of
sin, as is presented in the death of God's beloved Son.

An eminent Puritan writer thus strikingly puts it:
"Not all the vials of judgment that have or shall be
poured out upon this wicked world, nor the flaming
furnace of a sinner's conscience, nor the irrevocable
sentence pronounced against the rebellious devils,
nor the groans of the damned creatures, give such
a demonstration of God's hatred of sin, as the
wrath of God let loose upon His Son!"

Never did Divine holiness appear more beautiful
and lovely than at the time our Savior's countenance
was most marred in the midst of His dying groans.

This Himself acknowledges in that penitential psalm,
when God turned His smiling face away from Him, and
thrust His sharp knife into His heart, which forced
that terrible cry from Him, "My God, my God, why
have You forsaken me? Why are You so far from
saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?
...Yet You are enthroned as the Holy One." Ps. 22:1-2

Such an impressive view of God's holiness the angels
in heaven never before beheld; not even when they
saw the non elect spirits hurled from the heights of
glory down to the bottomless pit, to be reserved in
chains of darkness and woe forever!

Jesus was the innocent One dying for the guilty
ones, the holy One dying for the sinful ones.

Divine justice, in its mission of judgment, as it
swept by the cross, found the Son of God impaled
upon its wood beneath the sins and the curse of
His people. Upon Him its judgment fell, on His soul
its wrath was poured, in His heart its flaming sword
was plunged; and thus, from Him, justice exacted
the full penalty of man's transgression; the last
farthing of the great debt.

Go to the cross, then, my reader, and learn
the holiness of God.

  the dignity of Christ;
  His preciousness to His Father's heart;
  the sinlessness of His nature.

And then behold...
  the sorrow of His soul,
  the torture of His body,
  the tragedy of His death,
  the abasement,
  the ignominy,
  the humiliation, into the fathomless
depths of which the whole transaction
plunged our incarnate God!

And let me ask, standing, as you are, before
this unparalleled spectacle, "Can you cherish
low views of God's holiness, or light views
of your own sinfulness?"

The leaven of pride
(Thomas Reade, "Christian Experience")

The leaven of pride is not wholly eradicated,
even in the bosom of the humble Christian.

There are seasons when it works with painful
violence; and then, the darkness of our minds,
and the deadness of our hearts, indicate that
the Holy Spirit is grieved, and that Satan has
gained an advantage over us.

Spiritual pride is a subtle evil.

It slides into our prayers, and
entwines itself about our praise.

It spoils our best duties, and creates that
fondness for human approbation, which puffs
up the heart, and steals it away from God.

Painted bubbles
(Reade, "Christian Experience")

"May you experience the love of Christ,
 though it is so great you will never
 fully understand it."  Ephesians 3:19

What are all the vanities of this world,
but painted bubbles, when compared
with this eternal treasure?

Is there not then cause for apprehension,
lest, while we profess much love for Christ,
our hearts should cleave unto the dust?

Are we not in danger of making a home of
this world, and of setting up our rest here,
as if this wilderness were the promised
Canaan, rather than the road through
which we have to pass to get to it?

The Divine Chemistry
(Thomas Reade, "Christian Experience")

It cannot be too deeply impressed on
our consciences, that love to Jesus is
the spring of holy obedience.

This is the Divine Chemistry which turns all into gold.

A 'cup of cold water' given from this principle shall
not lose its reward; while the most costly sacrifice
is worthless, if it does not spring from love to Jesus.

Our household gods?
(Thomas Reade, "Christian Experience")

Whatever draws away the heart
from God, is an idol in his sight.

Our domestic ease, our family comforts,
too often become our household gods,
at whose shrine we sacrifice the claims
of Christ.

A high Christian attainment?
(Thomas Reade, "Christian Experience")

To be in the world, and yet not of the world;
to use it for our temporal necessities, and yet
not to abuse it for carnal purposes, is a high
Christian attainment.

May we be graciously delivered from a worldly
spirit, which can assume a thousand forms to
allure and to deceive.

The tinseled Christian may gain the
admiration of those who regard the
outward appearance, but he will never
be approved of by Him who looks at
the heart.

O! may we never substitute....
  knowledge for grace,
  profession for principle,
  words for practice,
  nor zeal for love.
(Thomas Reade, "Christian Experience")

This world?
(Thomas Reade, "Christian Experience")

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

The very admonition implies the danger of
worldly conformity, and the proneness of the
heart to earthly things.

Who can say that he is always raised above the
undue influence of terrestrial objects; that he is
daily passing, as it were, upon tiptoe, across
this world of vanity?

Alas! alas! we too often sink into the mire of
earthly mindedness, and have our thoughts
absorbed amid the trifles of a day!

But what can this world profit us?

This world can neither secure us against temporal
evils, nor save us from eternal misery.

This world cannot, for a single moment, prolong
our existence here, or make that existence peaceful
and happy.

This world is often a clog, but never
a help in moments of spiritual distress.

And yet, we love this world, though, by its
deceitful smile, it robs us of our peace, entangles
us in its snares; and would, if left under its power,
eventually destroy our souls.

This world would no longer sway our affections,
did we daily reflect how quickly it is passing away!

The heavenly mindedness and contempt of this
world which shone so brightly in the lives of the
first Christians may well cause us to blush.

These devoted followers of a crucified Redeemer
did not study those arts of splendor which have
overspread this world.

When the honor of their Divine Master required the
sacrifice, they could trample under foot, those profits
and pleasures which ensnare and enslave mankind.

They looked upon the delights and advantages
of this world, as things not worthy to arrest their
affections in their journey homeward.

Their spirits breathed in too pure an air, to be caught
with the delusive charms of this lower world. It was
their continual regard to dwell within the prospect of

"All these faithful ones died without receiving what
God had promised them, but they saw it all from a
distance and welcomed the promises of God. They
agreed that they were no more than foreigners
and pilgrims here on earth."  Hebrews 11:13

Do any startle at this plain assertion?
(Thomas Reade, "Christian Experience")

In the early Christian Church religion did not
consist in talking finely, but in living well.

We, alas! are not now what these primitive
Christians were; burning and shining lights.

The lamentation of the prophet is sadly too
descriptive of our state: "Our silver has become
dross, and our wine is mixed with water."

The world has tainted the Church by its unhallowed admixture.

Where is the simplicity, the self denial, the zeal, the
entire devotedness of these first Christians to be found?

Certainly not among the great mass of religious professors.

Long continued prosperity has induced a spirit of slumber.

Without any breach of that charity which hopes all things,
we are compelled to declare this painful truth: that thousands
who are moral, and regular in all the outward duties and
decencies of religion, are still as far distant from the spirit
and practice, the principles and feelings, of the true believer,
as the East is from the West.

Do any startle at this plain assertion?

Where, we would ask, is...
  their deep contrition,
  their sincere repentance,
  their hatred of sin,
  their application to the Savior,
  their love to his name,
  their delight in his service,
  their attachment to him,
  their self denying obedience,
  their renunciation of the world,
  their patience under suffering for the Gospel's sake?

Where, in short, is the new creature in Christ Jesus
to be seen in them? It has no existence.

They have a name to live, being called Christians,
and professing to believe in Jesus, but they are dead.

The general truths of the Gospel may dwell in their
understandings, but they have no abiding place in
their hearts.

The Apostle has well described the character of these
nominal Christians: "they profess that they know
God; but in works deny him. They have the form of
godliness, but deny the power thereof."

These are the people who, frequenting the house of
God, sneer at 'conscientious piety'. Yet, they have full
confidence in the mercy of God, and deem it most
uncharitable, even to breathe a hint that they are in
danger of eternal perdition.

All the mysteries of providence
(Octavius Winslow, "Morning Thoughts")

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

The position which the Christian shall occupy
in eternity will be most favorable to a full and
clear comprehension of all the mysteries of
the earthly journey.

The "clouds and darkness," emblems in our history
of "obscurity and distress", which now envelope God's
throne, and enshroud His government of the saints,
will have passed away; the mist and fog will have
vanished, and, breathing a purer atmosphere, and
canopied by a brighter sky, the glorified saint will
then see every object, circumstance, incident, and
step, with an eye unobscured by a vapor, and
unmoistened by a tear.

And what shall we know?

All the mysteries of providence.

Things which had made us greatly grieve, will then
be seen to have been causes of the greatest joy.

Clouds of threatening, which appeared to us charged
with the agent of destruction, will then unveil, and
reveal the love which they embosomed and concealed.

Oh, what a perfect, harmonious, and glorious whole,
will all His doings in providence appear, from first to
last; to the undimmed eye, the ravished gaze of His
white robed, palm bearing Church!

Lift up your heads, you poor,
you needy, you disconsolate!

(Octavius Winslow, "Morning Thoughts")

"Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."

What a gospel is this for a poor sinner!

It speaks...
  of pardon,
  of acceptance,
  of peace,
  of full redemption here, and
  unspeakable glory hereafter!

It proclaims...
  a Savior to the lost;
  a Redeemer to the captive;
  a Surety to the insolvent;
  a Physician to the sick;
  a Friend to the needy;
  an Advocate to the criminal.

All that a...
  'self ruined'
  'sin accused'
  'law condemned'
  'justice threatened'
  'broken hearted' sinner needs, this
"glorious gospel of the blessed God" provides.

It reveals...
  to the self ruined sinner One in whom is his help;
  to the sin accused One who can take away all sin;
  to the law condemned One who saves from all condemnation;
  to the justice threatened One who is a hiding place
      from the wind, and a covert from the tempest;
  to the broken hearted One who binds up and heals.

That One is Jesus!

O name...
  ever dear,
  ever sweet,
  ever precious,
  ever fragrant,
  ever healing
to the poor in spirit!

All you can possibly need is treasured up in Christ!

You have...
  no cross but Christ can bear it,
  no sorrow but Christ can alleviate it,
  no corruption but Christ can subdue it,
  no guilt but Christ can remove it,
  no sin but Christ can pardon it,
  no need but Christ can supply it.

Lift up your heads, you poor, you needy, you disconsolate!

Lift up your heads and rejoice that Christ is all to you...
  all you need in this valley of tears,
  all you need in the deepest sorrow,
  all you need under the heaviest affliction,
  all you need in sickness,
  all you will need in the hour of death and
  all you will need in the day of judgment!

What more can you want?

What more do you desire?

A Father who loves you as the apple of His eye!

A full Savior to whom to go, moment by moment!

And a blessed indwelling, sanctifying, comforting Spirit!

"Yes, happy are those who have it like this!
 Happy indeed are those whose God is the Lord."

(by F. B. Meyer)

When by the grace of God we have been
delivered from grosser forms of sin, we are
still liable to the subtle working of SELF in
our holiest and loveliest hours.

SELF poisons our motives.

SELF breathes decay on our fairest fruit bearing.

SELF whispers seductive flatteries into our pleased ears.

SELF turns the heart from its holy purpose.

SELF aims at personal advantage, acquiring the
praise and commendation of men. Or in some
other way it aims at self aggrandizement.

His icy hand
(by David Harsha)

"Generations come and generations go...." Ecc. 1:4

We are all standing on the shores of time, and before
us stretches the unfathomable ocean of eternity.

To this vast abyss the millions of earth's inhabitants
are fast hastening. Every day that closes, every hour
that passes, every moment that flies, is bringing us
nearer to it. On its mighty surface every human being
must soon embark.

The grave is the home appointed for all living.

Everything passes away.

A great and mighty river, for ages and centuries,
has been rolling on, and sweeping away all that
ever lived, to the vast abyss of eternity.

From that unknown country none return.

On that devouring ocean, which has swallowed up
everything, no vestige appears of the things that were.

Death is the messenger that conducts us into the
invisible world; and this messenger may be very
near us.

One step more, and his icy hand may be laid upon us....
  to remove us from our dearest friends on earth,
  to dissolve all the attachments of life,
  to hide from us all earthly scenes, and
  to open to our view the solemn realities of an eternal world.

Standing on the Rock of Ages, the believer can
look down into the 'gloomy mansion of the grave'
with composure and even with triumph.

How blessed then to have the arms of Jesus, the
Conqueror of death, upholding our shrinking souls,
shielding us from all alarm, sweetening our passage
through the dark valley, and conducting us safely
through every tempest, and through every billow,
into the promised rest above!

To the Christian, death is an unspeakable advantage,
as it is the passage from the wilderness of this world,
to the heavenly Canaan.

Death is the entrance to our Father's house,
in which are the 'many mansions' of glory.

Death delivers him from all the evils incident to humanity.

Death terminates his period of discipline, toil, trial, and conflict.

Death brings him into a state of perfect holiness and
happiness before the throne of God in the highest heavens.

Death is numbered among the treasures of a Christian.

Death is his great gain. The last day of his
life is to him the opening of immortality.

As soon as death terminates the believer's
existence on earth, he enters upon the inheritance
of all those exceeding great and precious promises
which the Word of God holds forth to him.

He passes at once from the darkness of earth
to the light and glory of the celestial world.

He puts off the mortal body, for the home of God, that
house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

He exchanges this valley of tears and death, for a
world from whose blissful mansions all sorrow flees
away, and where there shall be no more death.

"For we know that when this earthly tent we live
in is taken down; when we die and leave these bodies;
we will have a home in heaven, an eternal body made
for us by God himself and not by human hands." 2 Cor. 5:1

He departs to be with Christ; and oh, what
sincere follower of the adorable Redeemer,
who is now enthroned amid heaven's ineffable
glories, would not rather be absent from the
body, to be present with Him!

In the hour of death Christ will be your refuge.

His everlasting arms will be underneath you.

His rod and staff will comfort you.

He will be with you until the last; and you shall awake
amid the unutterable splendors of heaven, to be
forever with the Savior in mansions of light and felicity.

It is the glory of the Christian religion thus to
raise the soul above the fear of death. With him
all is calm and serene; for his sins are forgiven.
He has peace within; joy beams in his countenance.
His soul is delighted with joyful prospects beyond
the grave. He is filled with strong consolation.
The sweet thought of going to his heavenly home
now occupies his mind, elevating his views, and
cheering his spirit. He thinks of the glories of his
final rest; its fullness of joy; its blessed inhabitants;
its delightful employments; its never ending pleasures.
He feels, that while earth is passing from his view,
the portals of those blessed mansions of light are
opening for his entrance, and he knows, that in
yonder home of the redeemed he will die no more.

My heavenly home is bright and fair;
Nor pain, nor death can enter there.
Its glittering towers the sun outshine,
That heavenly mansion shall be mine!

My Father's house is built on high,
Far, far above the starry sky,
When from this earthly prison free,
That heavenly mansion mine shall be!

While here a stranger far from home,
Affliction's waves may round me foam;
And though like Lazarus, sick and poor,
My heavenly mansion is secure!

Let others seek a home below,
Which flames devour, or waves o'erflow,
Be mine the happier lot to own,
A heavenly mansion near the throne!

Then fail this earth, let stars decline,
And sun and moon refuse to shine;
All nature sink and cease to be,
This heavenly mansion stands for me!

(John MacDuff, "The Rainbow in the Clouds")

"I have chosen you in the furnace of affliction." Isaiah 48:10

The Furnace of Affliction!

It is God's meeting place with His people.

"I have chosen you," says He, "in the furnace of affliction.
I will keep you there, until the purifying process is complete;
and if need be, in a 'chariot of fire' I will carry you to heaven!"

Some fires are for destruction, but this is for purification.

He, the Refiner, is sitting by the furnace regulating the
flames, tempering the heat; not the least filing of the
gold but what is precious to Him!

The bush is burning with fire, but He is in the middle of
it; a living God in a bush; a living Savior in the furnace!

And has this not been the method of His
dealing with His faithful people in every age.

First, trial; then blessing.

First, difficulties; then, deliverances.

First, Egyptian plagues, darkness, brick kilns, the Red
Sea, forty years of desert privations; then Canaan!

First, the burning fiery furnace; then
the vision of "one like the Son of God!"

Or, as with Elijah on Carmel, the answer
is first by fire, and then by rain.

First, the fiery trial, then the gentle descent of the
Spirit's influences, coming down like "rain upon the
mown grass, and as showers that water the earth."

Believer! be it yours to ask, "are my trials sanctified?"

Are they making me holier, purer, better, more meek,
more gentle, more heavenly minded, more Savior like?

Seek to "glorify God in the fires."

Patience is a grace which the angels cannot manifest.

Patience is a flower of earth; it blooms not in Paradise;
it requires tribulation for its exercise; it is nurtured only
amid wind, and hail, and storm.

By patient, unmurmuring submission, remember,
you, a poor sinner, can thus magnify God in a way
the loftiest angelic natures cannot do!

His design is to purge away your dross, to bring you
forth from the furnace reflecting His own image, and
fitted for glory!

Those intended for great usefulness are much in the refining pot.

"His children have found suffering times happy times.
They never have such nearness to their Father, such
holy freedom with Him, and such heavenly refreshment
with Him, as under the cross!"

What a treasure!
from Thomas Reade's, "Christian Experience"

What a treasure is the Word of God!

Here we have....
  Light, to dissipate our darkness;
  Truth, to guide us amid the mazes of error;
  Consolations, to gladden us in a world of misery.

The Bible is....
  the Revelation of our Father's love;
  the Expression of Jehovah's grace to sinners;
  the Depository of heavenly blessings;
  the Charter of our highest privileges;
  the Religion of true Christians;
  the Glory of our churches;
  the Poor Man's Friend.

Everything sublime in conception, and tender in
expression, it is to be found in the sacred Scriptures.

The Eternal Jehovah has there revealed Himself as....
  clothed with majesty and honor;
  glorious in holiness,
  fearful in praises,
  doing wonders;
  of purer eyes than to behold iniquity;
  in whose sight the heavens are not clean.

In the sacred Scriptures, he has manifested forth his glory,
as mighty to save; forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin.

In that blessed volume, Mercy is seen to arrest the
arm of Justice, and all the tenderness of the Father
is displayed in the person of the Son.

Love breathes throughout its sacred pages.