Grace Gems for January 2003


(Octavius Winslow, "Evening Thoughts")

What is our path to glory, but the path of
tribulation, of suffering, and of death? Our
Lord and Master, in the expression of His
wisdom and love, forewarns us of this: "In
the world you shall have tribulation."

What are all the supports of the believer in
seasons of trial, suffering, and bereavement,
but so many manifestations of the life of the
Lord Jesus? This it is that keeps the soul . . .
  buoyant amid the billows,
  strong in faith,
  joyful in hope,
  soaring in love.

Thus is Jesus . . .
  the life of every grace,
  the life of every promise,
  the life of every ordinance,
  the life of every blessing.

Yes, of all that is really costly and
precious to a child of God, Jesus is . . .
  the substance,
  the glory,
  the sweetness,
  the fragrance,
  yes, the very life itself!

Oh! dark and lonely, desolate and painful indeed
would our present pilgrimage be, but for Jesus!

If in the world we have tribulation; in
whom do we have peace? In Jesus!

If in the creature we meet with fickleness and
change; in whom do we find the Friend who loves
at all times? In Jesus!

When adversity comes as a wintry blast, and
lays low our comforts; when the cloud is upon
our tabernacle; when health, and wealth, and
influence, and friends are gone; in whom do
we find the covert from the wind, the faithful,
tender Brother born for adversity? In Jesus!

When temptation assails,
when care darkens,
when trial oppresses,
when bereavement wounds,
when heart and flesh are failing;
who throws around us the protecting shield,
who applies the precious promise,
who speaks the soothing word,
who sustains the sinking spirit,
who heals the sorrow,
who dries the tear? Jesus!

Where sin struggles in the heart, and guilt
burdens the conscience, and unbelief beclouds
the mind; whose grace subdues our iniquities,
whose blood gives us peace, and whose light
dispels our darkness? Jesus!

And when the spark of life wanes, and the
eye grows dim, and the mind wanders, and
the soul, severing its last fetter, mounts
and soars away, Jesus, in that awful moment,
draws near in form unseen, and whispers in
words unheard by all but the departing one,
now in close communion with the solemn
realities of the invisible world, "Fear not;
I am the resurrection and the life. He who
believes in Me will live, even though he dies!"

The idol Self
(Hannah More, "Practical Piety")

The idol Self has made more desolation among
men than ever was made in those places where
idols were served by human sacrifices.

To worship images is a more obvious idolatry,
but scarcely more degrading than to set up
Self in opposition to God.

Self is the ever flowing fountain of all the evil
which deforms our hearts, of all the boiling
passions which inflame and disorder society;
the root of bitterness on which all its corrupt
fruits grow.

Beware of the world!
(William Sprague, "Letters to a Daughter")

Beware of the world! Beware of . . .
  its seductive flatteries,
  its pestilential maxims,
  its unhallowed practices.

Remember that the spirit of the world is
directly opposed to the spirit of the Gospel;
and that both cannot find a permanent
lodgement in the same bosom.

If the world attempts to seduce you with it
smiles, do not dally with the tempter for a
moment. And do not allow the world to bring
you into subjection with its frowns.

Have as little to do with the groveling and
polluted scenes of earth as you can, in
consistency with your duty. Rise above the
world and try to breathe the atmosphere of

Follow the Lamb!
(Thomas Brooks)

Follow the Lamb, though others follow
the beast and the false prophets.

Follow the Lamb wherever He goes.

Take up the cross, and follow the Lamb
over hedge and ditch, through thick and thin.

Do not turn your backs on Christ.

Deny yourself; your natural self, your sinful
self, your religious self, to follow the Lamb.

Some of you will be cast into the furnace!
"Practical Directions How to Grow in Grace and Make
Progress in Piety"  Archibald Alexander (1772-1851)

For your more rapid growth in grace, some of you
will be cast into the furnace of affliction. Sickness,
bereavement, bad conduct of children and relatives,
loss of property or of reputation, may come upon you
unexpectedly and press heavily on you.

In these trying circumstances, exercise patience and
fortitude. Be more solicitous to have the affliction
sanctified, than removed.

Glorify God while in the fire of adversity. That faith
which is most tried is commonly most pure and precious.

Learn from Christ how you ought to suffer.

Let perfect submission to the will of God be aimed at.

Never indulge a murmuring or discontented spirit.

Repose with confidence on the promises.

Commit all your cares to God.

Make known your requests to Him by prayer.

Let go your too eager grasp of the world.

Become familiar with death and the grave.

Wait patiently.

Mercy surpassing all wonders!
(David Harsha, "The Death of Christ")

Through eternity it will be a matter of the greatest
wonder, as well as the sweetest and most sublime
song, that the great God, the high and lofty One
who inhabits eternity; whom we had by wicked works
so highly offended; should ever have 'reconciled us
to Himself by Jesus Christ;' and condescended to
dwell with us who were once so vile, and rebellious,
and wretched.

Oh, the depth of the riches of the mercy of God!

Mercy surpassing all wonders!

Mercy boundless as the heavens!

Mercy vast as eternity!

How great should be our gratitude to Him,
who by the costly price of His blood has
ransomed us from an eternity of woe!

May we never cease, while passing through
the wilderness of earth, to extol in sweetest
songs the wonders of redeeming love!

The pig!
(Thomas Reade, "Christian Meditations")

"A pig that is washed goes back to her
 wallowing in the mud."  2 Peter 2:22

The pig, though washed, was a pig still.

The outward washing could not change
the inward propensity of the animal.

Is it not so with multitudes of baptized
people? Outward reformation must never
be confounded with inward regeneration!

"And when people escape from the wicked
ways of the world by learning about our Lord
and Savior Jesus Christ and then get tangled
up with sin and become its slave again, they
are worse off than before." 2 Peter 2:20

The hearts of such people were never renewed,
their natures were never changed. This they
proved by their return to the propensities of
their natural hearts.

"A pig that is washed goes back to her
 wallowing in the mud."  2 Peter 2:22

The heart of Infinite and Eternal love!
(Mary Winslow's, "Heaven Opened")

I find it sweet to retire and be alone with my
best Friend. What a privilege to open our whole
heart, and lean, like John, upon the Savior's
tender, sympathizing bosom!

What on earth is like this? A broken heart, a
helpless and powerless soul resting upon the
arm and the heart of Infinite and Eternal love!

The silly fish?
(Reade, "The Importance of Self Knowledge")

There are a thousand ways whereby we may
deceive ourselves. Vices, through the artifice of
Satan, are decked with rose buds, and concealed
under specious titles.

He puts a fascinating mask upon the face of
sin, and thus, like the angler, hides the hook.
The wretched sinner, like the silly fish, does
not see the snare.

Like the maniac, he imagines himself a king, while
held in fetters, and his scepter is but a straw!

Are not such characters objects of pity?

The common complaint?
(Thomas Reade, "Christian Meditations")

"I have sinned against the Lord." 2 Sam. 12:13

This is the common complaint of all true Christians.

They want an entire conformity to the mind of God.

They pant after universal holiness.

They labor to get their affections supremely
fixed upon Christ and heaven. They long for
the complete victory over indwelling sin, and
the perishing vanities of the world.

Yet, they find, to their inexpressible grief, that
when they would do good, evil is present with
them; not indeed as a thing indulged, but as
mixing itself with all their aims and desires,
so that they are constrained to cry out, "O
what a wretched man I am! Who will rescue
me from this body of death?" Romans 7:24

They feel a force drawing them down to
earth, when they would soar above.

This experience greatly humbles the Christian
pilgrim, while traveling through the wilderness.

He sees that he has no righteousness of his
own; that of himself he can do nothing; and
that it is of the Lord alone, that he has either
righteousness or strength.

This conviction of inward pollution, unseen by the
eye of man, drives him to the blood of sprinkling.

It makes Christ unspeakably precious.

Feeling his inability to think one good thought,
or exercise one holy affection, without the grace
and power of Jesus, he sits daily at his feet...
  to hear his word,
  to receive out of his fullness,
  to imbibe his spirit, and
  to copy his example.

Such is the experience and practice, not of one,
but of all the faithful servants of Jehovah.

Oh! that I may be found among these chosen
vessels of the Lord. I have to mourn over deadness,
lukewarmness, and earthly mindedness; though,
through grace, I abhor these evils!

I am grieved that my heart is so cold, when God is so kind!

Holy posture!
(Octavius Winslow, "Evening Thoughts")

"Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am
 a man of unclean lips, and I live among a
 people of unclean lips, and my eyes have
 seen the King, the Lord Almighty." Isaiah 6:5

What prostrated his soul thus low in the dust?

What filled him with this self abasement?

What overwhelmed him with this keen sense of his vileness?

Oh, it was the unclouded view he had of the
essential glory of the Son of God! And thus
will it ever be. The beaming forth of Christ's
glory in the soul reveals its hidden evil; the
knowledge of this evil lays the believer low
before God with the confession, "I abhor myself.
Woe is me! for I am undone."

Beloved, let this truth be ever present to your
mind, that as we increasingly see glory in Christ,
we shall increasingly see that there is no glory
in ourselves.

Jesus is the Sun which reveals the pollutions
and defilements which are within. The chambers
of abomination are all closed until Christ shines
in upon the soul. Oh, then it is these deep seated
and long veiled deformities are revealed; and we,
no longer gazing with a complacent eye upon self,
sink in the dust before God, overwhelmed with
shame, and covered with confusion of face.

Holy posture!

Blessed spectacle!

A soul prostrate before the glory of the incarnate God!

All high and lofty views of its own false glory
annihilated by clear and close views of the true
glory of Jesus. As when the sun appears, all the
lesser lights vanish into darkness, so when Jesus
rises in noontide glory upon the soul, all other
glory retires, and He alone fixes the eye and
fills the mind.

"Hovering around him were mighty seraphim, each
 with six wings. With two wings they covered their
 faces, with two they covered their feet". Isaiah 6:2

Their own perfections and beauty were not to
be seen in the presence of the glory of the Lord.

How much more profound should be the humility
and self abasement of man! Have we covered
ourselves; not with the pure wings of the holy
cherubim, but with sackcloth and ashes before the
Lord? Have we sought to veil; not our beauties,
for beauty we have none; but our innumerable
and flagrant deformities, even the sins of our
best and holiest things; and, renouncing all self
glory, have we sunk, as into nothing before God?
Oh, we are yet strangers to the vision of Christ's
glory, if we have not.

If the constellation of human gifts and attainments,
distinctions and usefulness, on which unsanctified
and unmortified self so delights to gaze, have not
retired into oblivion, the Sun of Righteousness has
yet to rise upon our souls with healing in His wings!

In the world, and yet not to be of the world!
(Mary Winslow, "Life in Jesus")

"They are not part of this world any more than
 I am."  John 17:16

What a difficult matter it is to be in the world,
and yet not to be of the world! Our Lord Himself
carried out this principle. He passed through the
world as one who was not of it.

Oh, that we could but imitate His holy example,
and aim only, while in it, so to let our light shine,
that others may take knowledge of us that we
have been with Jesus, and have learned of Him.

It should be our whole endeavor to do all the
good we can in it and for it; and yet to set at
nothing its spirit, its principles, and its maxims.

How can a believer walk through this world
safely and securely? Only as he is upheld by
a strength that is Omnipotent!

I am passing through a world lying in the wicked one.

I belong to another kingdom, which is not of this world.

Dear friend, see, then, your high calling!

He has called you to come out of the world and
to be separate; in principle, in practice, in heart.

"The world would love you if you belonged to
 it, but you don't. I chose you to come out of
 the world, and so it hates you." John 15:19

"I have given them Your word. And the world
 hates them because they do not belong to the
 world, just as I do not." John 17:14

Cold hearted, half devoted, earthly minded?
(Waterbury, "The Importance of Aiming
 at an Elevated Standard of Piety)

The cold hearted, half devoted, earthly minded
race of professing Christians are among the most
miserable beings on earth.

They make a compromise with the world, are
foremost in pleasure and in fashion, and are
undistinguished form the noisy, vain, and
trifling crowd.

Over their worldly mindedness, their niggardly
charities, and hollow professions, thousands
stumble into perdition!

They are . . . .
  a disgrace to the Christian church,
  a standing scandal upon religion,
  a grief to the pious,
  a laughing stock to the world.

Who would desire to live always in this
poor world? Who would desire to dwell
on these lower grounds, where sickness
and sorrow, the sad consequences of sin,
follow in our wake?

In heaven, our happy home, we shall
enjoy perfect holiness and perfect
(Mary Winslow, "Life in Jesus")

When the Son of Man comes in His glory!
(Octavius Winslow, "Evening Thoughts")

"When the Son of Man comes in His glory,
 and all the angels with Him, then He will
 sit upon His glorious throne." Matthew 25:31

Surpassing in glory all that the eye has ever
seen, or the imagination has ever conceived,
will be the second personal appearing of the
Son of God.

A perfect contrast will it present to His first
advent. Then He appeared a king, but . . .
  disguised in the form of a servant,
  without a retinue,
  without the insignia of royalty,
  without visible glory,
  His throne a cross,
  His crown the thorns,
  His scepter a reed.

But His second coming will be in perfect
contrast with this. He will now have thrown
off the garment of humiliation, and will
appear clad with the robe of majesty, the
King acknowledged and adored.

He will come in the glory of His Divine nature.
His Deity will now be unveiled, unclouded, and
undenied, the "God over all, blessed for evermore!"

Angels will laud Him.
Saints will crown Him.
Devils fear Him.
His enemies will bow to Him.
Every tongue shall confess His Deity.

"When the Son of Man comes in His glory,
 and all the angels with Him, then He will
 sit upon His glorious throne." Matthew 25:31

Oh what a glorious God is ours,
and what vile wretches are we!
(Winslow, "Evening Thoughts")

Born with a tear in His eye?
(Octavius Winslow, "Evening Thoughts")

The life of our adorable Lord was a life of
continuous trial. From the moment He entered
our world He became leagued with suffering.
He identified Himself with it in its almost
endless forms. He seemed to have been born
with a tear in His eye, with a shadow of sadness
on His brow. He was prophesied as "a man of
sorrows and acquainted with grief." And, from
the moment He touched the horizon of our earth,
from that moment His sufferings commenced.

He did not come to indulge in a life of tranquility
and repose. He did not come to quaff the cup of
earthly sweets.

He came to suffer!

He came to bear the curse!

He came to drain the deep cup of wrath!

He came to weep!

He came to bleed!

He came to die!

Our Savior was a cross bearing Savior.

Our Lord was a suffering Lord.

He turned His back upon . . .
  the pleasures,
  the riches,
  the luxuries, and even
  the common comforts of this world;
preferring a life of . . .
  penury, and

Jesus . . .

He . . .
  was scourged,
  was bruised,
  was mocked,
  was smitten,
  was spit upon,
  was nailed to the tree,
  was pierced,
  was slain!

Of what value is all our knowledge of truth?
(Octavius Winslow, "Evening Thoughts")

Of what value is all our knowledge of truth . . .
  if it does not lead us to Jesus;
  if it does not expand our views of His glory;
  if it does not conform our minds to His image;
  if it does not increase our love to Him,
  if it does not quicken our obedience to His commands,
  if it does not quicken our zeal for His cause;
  if it does not mature us, by a progressive holiness,
for the enjoyment of His beatific presence?

True happiness!
(Octavius Winslow, "Evening Thoughts")

Happiness is the attainment that the world
is eagerly in search of. But the believer in
Christ is its only possessor. He has found it,
and found it in Jesus. He has found it in a
renunciation of self righteousness, and in a
humble reception of Christ.

There is no true happiness outside of Jesus!

What true happiness can the heart feel while . . .
  it is unrenewed,
  its sins unpardoned,
  the soul unjustified,
  and therefore under condemnation,
  and exposed to the wrath of a holy and just God?

Oh, dream not of happiness, reader, until you have
gone as a repenting sinner to the cross of Christ!

You may be a son or a daughter of affliction; in
this furnace you may be chosen, and through this
furnace it may be the Lord's holy will you should
pass all your days.

You may be a child of poverty, possessing but
little of this world's comforts; lonely, neglected,

Yet oh, look up! you are precious in God's sight!
You are as dear to Him as the apple of His eye.
His heart yearns over you with more than a mother's
exquisite fondness for her child, because He has
loved you with an everlasting love, and, to the
praise of the glory of His grace, has accepted
you in the Beloved.

Realize this, and though . . .
  rough and thorny may be your path,
  and fiery the furnace,
  and deep your poverty,
  and lonely your situation,
you shall experience a peace and a happiness to
which the world around you is an utter stranger.

Oh, what precious fruit!
(Octavius Winslow, "Evening Thoughts")

"As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself,
 except it abide in the vine, no more can
 you, except you abide in me." John 15:4

Oh, what precious fruit does such a
living branch bear!

The broken heart;
the contrite spirit;
the mourning over sin;
the low, abasing, humbling views of self;
the venturing by faith on a full, mighty, willing Savior;
the going out of self, and resting in His all
atoning work, and all satisfying righteousness.

This is followed by a progressive advance in all
holiness and godliness, the fruits of faith which
are by Jesus Christ abounding in the life, and
proving the reality of the wondrous change . . .
  the close walk with God;
  the submission of the will in all things to His;
  the conformity of the life to the example of Jesus;
  the "power of His resurrection" felt;
  the "fellowship of His sufferings," known;
  and "conformity to His death," marking the entire man.

These are some of the fruits of a truly regenerate soul.

Some heavy, painful, yet concealed cross?
(Octavius Winslow, "Evening Thoughts")

Christian reader, we suppose you to be no
stranger to grief; your heart has known what
sorrow is; you have borne, perhaps for years,
some heavy, painful, yet concealed cross.

Over it, in the solitude and silence of privacy,
you have wept, agonized, and prayed. And still
the cross, though mitigated, is not removed.

You may be asking, "Why, if Jesus is so
tender and sympathizing, does He place
upon me this cross?"

Because of His wisdom and love.

He sees you need that cross!

You have carried it, it may be, for years. Who
can tell where and what you would have been
at this moment, but for this very cross?

What evils in you it may have checked;
what corruptions in you it may have subdued;
what constitutional infirmities it may have weakened;
from what lengths it has kept you;
from what rocks and precipices it has guarded you;
and what good it has been silently and secretly,
yet effectually, working in you all the long years
of your life; who can tell but God Himself?

The removal of that cross might have
been the removal of your greatest mercy!

Hush, then, every murmur; be still, and know
that He is God; and that all these trials, these
sufferings, these untoward circumstances, are
now working together for your good and His glory.

And what would you know, may we not ask, of
Jesus; His tenderness, and love, and sympathizing
heart; but for the rough and thorny path along
which you have been thus led?

The glory and fullness, the preciousness and
sympathy of Christ are not learned in every
circumstance of life. The hour of prosperity,
when everything passes smoothly on:
providences smiling, the heart's surface
unruffled, the gladsome sunlight of creature
happiness gilding every prospect with its
brightness; this is not the hour, nor these
the circumstances, most favorable to an
experimental acquaintance with Christ.

It is in the dark hour of suffering,
the hour of trial and of adversity,
when the sea is rough,
and the sky is lowering,
and providences are mysterious,
and the heart is agitated,
and hope is disappointed,
its bud nipped, and its stem broken,
and creature comfort and support fail.

Oh, then it is the fullness, and preciousness,
and tenderness of Jesus are learned. Then
it is the heart loosens its hold on created
objects, and entwines itself more fondly
and more closely around the Incarnate
Son of God.

Riches! Beauty! Pleasure! Genius! Fame!
(Hannah More, "Practical Piety" 1811)

To the dying bed we must all inevitably come.

Those who are brought to serious reflection by the
salutary affliction of a sick bed, will look back with
astonishment on their former false estimate of
worldly things.

Riches!  Beauty!  Pleasure!  Genius!  Fame!

What are they in the eyes of the sick and dying?

Riches! These are so far from affording them a
moment's ease, that it will be well if no remembrance
of their misuse aggravate their present pains. They
feel as if they only wished to live that they might
henceforth dedicate their riches to the purposes for
which they were given.

Beauty! "What is beauty?" they cry, as they consider
their own sunken eyes, hollow cheeks, and pallid
countenance. They acknowledge with the Psalmist
that, "You make his beauty to consume away like
a moth: surely every man is vanity." Psalm 39:11

Genius! What is it? Without faith, genius is only a
lamp on the gate of a palace. It may serve to cast
a gleam of light on those outside, but the inhabitant
sits in darkness.

Pleasure! That has not left a trace behind it.

Fame! Of this their very soul acknowledges the
emptiness. They are astonished that they could
ever have been so infatuated as to pursue a
shadow, to embrace a cloud. They now rate
at its true value the fame which will be so
soon forgotten in death.

As we approach the 'land of realities', the 'shadows
of this earth' cease to interest or mislead us.

The films are removed from our eyes.

Objects are stripped of their false luster.

Nothing that is really little any longer looks great.

The mists of vanity are dispersed.

Eternal things assume their proper magnitude,
for we behold them with a true vision.

We have ceased to lean on the world, for we
have found it both a broken reed and a spear.
It has failed us, and it has pierced us.

We lean not on ourselves, for we have long known
our own weakness. We lean not on our virtues, for
they can do nothing for us.

But we know in Whom we have trusted. We look
upward with holy but humble confidence to that
Great Shepherd, who having long since led us into
green pastures, having corrected us by His rod,
and by His staff supported us, will, we humbly
trust, guide us through the dark valley of the
shadow of death, and safely land us on the
peaceful shores of everlasting rest!

Trivial pursuits!
(Hannah More, "Practical Piety")

Trifling is ranked among the minor faults.

But, consider that a life devoted to trifles
not only takes away the inclination, but the
capacity for higher pursuits.

The truths of Christianity scarcely have more
influence on a frivolous than on a depraved
character. If the mind is so absorbed with what
is useless, it loses all interest in a life of piety.

It matters little what causes this lack of interest.
If trifling cannot be accused of being a great moral
evil, it at least reveals a low state of mind, that a
being who has eternity at stake can abandon itself
to trivial pursuits!

If the great concern of life cannot be secured
without habitual watchfulness, how is it to be
secured by habitual carelessness?

It will afford little comfort to the trifler
when at the last reckoning he accuses the
more criminal offender of worse behavior.

The trifler will not be weighed in the scale with
the profligate, but in the balance of the sanctuary.

No scanty thing, doled out in pittances!
(John MacDuff, "The Faithful Promiser")

"God is able to make all grace abound toward you;
 that you, always having all sufficiency in all things,
 may abound to every good work." 2 Cor. 9:8

All sufficiency in all things! Believer! Surely you are
"thoroughly furnished!"

Grace is no scanty thing, doled out in pittances!

It is a glorious treasury, which the key of
prayer can always unlock, but never empty.

God's grace is fountain, full, flowing, ever
flowing, overflowing. Oh! precious thought!
My need cannot impoverish that inexhaustible
treasury of grace! Myriads are hourly hanging
on it, and drawing from it, and yet there is no
diminution! Out of that fullness all we too
may receive, and grace for grace!

My soul, do you not love to dwell on that all
abounding grace? Your own insufficiency in
everything, met with an "all sufficiency in all
things!" Grace in all circumstances and situations,
in all vicissitudes and changes, in all the varied
phases of the Christian's being. Grace . . .
  in sunshine and storm;
  in health and in sickness;
  in life and in death.

Grace . . .
  for the old believer
  for the young believer,
  for the tried believer,
  for the weak believer,
  for the tempted believer.

Grace for duty;
grace in duty;
grace to carry the joyous cup with a steady hand;
grace to drink the bitter cup with an unmurmuring spirit;
grace to have prosperity sanctified;
grace to say, through tears, "Your will be done!"

Gulping down evil?
(Jeremiah Burroughs, "The Incomparable
Excellency and Holiness of God")

"The mouth of the wicked gulps down evil."
  Proverbs 19:28

This is a metaphor taken from the practice of
brute creatures. Take a beast that has been
kept from drink a long time and is exceedingly
thirsty. If you bring it to the water, it will
thrust its head into the water as if it would
devour the whole river and never be satisfied.

That is the meaning of this phrase, "the mouth
of the wicked gulps down evil." When he comes
to his sin, he is as greedy for it as the beast that
has been kept from water is greedy for water.

A soporific influence?
(by Horatius Bonar)

"Let us not sleep as others do." 1 Thes. 5:6

We all have a tendency to slumber.

As the disciples, both on the transfiguration
hill and in Gethsemane, fell asleep, so do we
in the most solemn circumstances and times.

The atmosphere of earth seems loaded with
slumberous vapors. This present evil world
exercises a soporific influence.

Satan, its god, the prince of the power of
the air, does all he can to lull us asleep.

It is a struggle to keep awake.

Hence the necessity for the solemn and
startling words "awake," "arise," "watch."

Be ever on your guard, as sentinels at their
post; as watchmen on the towers of some
beleaguered fort; as seamen navigating
some difficult stream with windings, and
sand banks, and rapids; or as servants
sitting up at night to wait for their master's

"What I say unto you, I say unto all, watch."

"Be vigilant, for your adversary the devil
 walks about as a roaring lion, seeking
 whom he may devour."

In the midst of a heedless world and an
unwatchful church, how needful the perpetual
warning, "Watch." And all the more as we see
the day approaching. The more that we see a
world "sleeping;" or wasting its hours in vanity,
and pleasure, and lust, and gaiety, the more
let us feel the necessity for resisting the wide
spread influence, and keeping awake.

"Let us not sleep as others do." 1 Thes. 5:6

Poor, naked, penniless, worthless?
(Octavius Winslow, "Morning Thoughts")

"I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has
 now come when the dead will hear the voice
 of the Son of God and those who hear will live."
        John 5:25

There is the special, direct, and effectual call of
the Spirit, in the elect of God, without which all
other calling is in vain.  The Spirit effectually
works in the soul with an inward, supernatural,
secret power. There is an energy put forth with
the call, which . . .
  awakens the conscience,
  breaks the heart,
  convinces the judgment,
  opens the eye of the soul, and
  pours a new and an alarming sound
    upon the hitherto deaf ear.

Mark the blessed effects . . .
  the scales fell from the eyes,
  the veil is torn from the mind,
  the deep fountains of evil in the heart are broken up.

The sinner sees himself as . . .
  lost and undone
  without pardon,
  without a righteousness,
  without acceptance,
  without a God,
  without a Savior,
  without a hope!

Awful condition!

"What shall I do to be saved?" is his cry! "I am
a wretch undone! I look within me, all is dark
and vile; I look around me, everything seems
but the image of my woe; I look above me, I
see only an angry God. Whichever way I look,
is hell! And were God now to send me there,
just and right would He be."

But, blessed be God, no poor soul that ever
uttered such language, prompted by such
feelings, ever died in despair! That faithful
Spirit who begins the good work, effectually
carries it on, and completes it.

Presently He leads him to the cross of Jesus
and unveils to his glimmering eye of faith a . . .
  dying Savior;
and yet a Savior with outstretched arms!

That Savior speaks; oh, did ever music sound
so melodious? "All this I do for you . . .
  this cross for you,
  these sufferings for you,
  this blood for you,
  these stretched out arms for you.
Come unto Me, all you that labor and are
heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Look
unto Me, and be saved!
Are you lost? I can save you!
Are you guilty? I can cleanse you!
Are you poor? I can enrich you!
Are you sunk low? I can raise you!
Are you naked? I can clothe you!
Have you nothing to bring with you?
  No price?
  No money?
  No goodness?
  No merit?
I can and will take you to Me, just as you are . . .
for such I came to seek,
for such I came to die."

"Lord, I believe," exclaims the poor convinced soul!
You are just the Savior that I need. I needed one
that could and would save me . . .
  with all my vileness,
  with all my rags,
  with all my poverty.
I needed one that would . . .
  save me fully,
  save me freely,
save me as an act of mere unmerited, undeserved
grace! I have found Him whom my soul loves! and
will be His through time, and His through eternity!"

Thus effectually does the blessed Spirit call a sinner,
by His especial, invincible, and supernatural power,
out of darkness into marvelous light!

"I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has
 now come when the dead will hear the voice of
 the Son of God and those who hear will live."

Go, perish! ungrateful apostate!
(John MacDuff, "The Faithful Promiser")

"I will heal your backslidings." Hosea 14:4

Wandering again?

And has He not left me to perish?

Stumbling and straying on the dark mountains,
away from the Shepherd's eye and the Shepherd's
fold, shall He not leave the erring wanderer to
the fruit of his own ways and his truant heart,
to go hopelessly onward in its career of guilty

Man would say, "Go, perish! ungrateful apostate!"

God says, "Return, O backsliding children!"

The Shepherd will not, cannot allow those sheep to
perish, which He has purchased with His own blood!

How wondrous His forbearance towards it! Tracking
its guilty steps, and ceasing not the pursuit until
He lays the wanderer on His shoulders, and returns
with it to His fold, rejoicing!

My soul! Why increase your distance from the
fold by farther departures? Why lengthen the
dreary road your gracious Shepherd has to
traverse in bringing you back?

Do not delay your return!

Do not provoke His patience any longer!

Do not venture farther on forbidden ground!

He waits with outstretched arms to welcome
you once more to His bosom. Be humble for
the past; think of your former backslidings,
and tremble. Think of His patience, and be
filled with holy gratitude; and take courage.

"I will heal your backslidings." Hosea 14:4

In a few years?
(by Thomas Chalmers, 1780 - 1847)

"Teach us to number our days aright, that
 we may gain a heart of wisdom." Ps. 90:12

How perishable is human life, yet no one
lays it to heart. With the magnificence of
eternity before us, let time, with all its
fluctuations, dwindle into its own littleness.

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

O God, help me to live for Your glory. As the
years roll over me, may I withdraw my affections
from time, and feel that in moving through the
world, I am moving toward eternity.

My soul, where would you have been this day?
(John MacDuff, "The Faithful Promiser")

"Satan has desired to have you, that he might
 sift you as wheat; but I have prayed for you,
 that your faith fail not." Luke 22:31, 32

What a scene does this unfold . . .
  Satan tempting, Jesus praying!
  Satan sifting, Jesus pleading!
  "The strong man assailing," "the stronger
  than the strong" beating him back!

Believer! here is the past history and present
secret of your safety in the midst of temptation.

An interceding Savior was at your side, saying
to every threatening wave, "Thus far shall you
go, and no farther!"

God often permits His people to be on the very
verge of the precipice, to remind them of their
own weakness; but never farther than the brink!

The restraining hand of grace of Omnipotence is
ready to rescue them, "Although he stumbles, yet
he shall not be utterly cast down." And why? "For
the Lord upholds him with His right hand!"

The wolf may be prowling for his prey; but
what can he do when the Shepherd is always
there, tending with the watchful eye that
"neither slumbers nor sleeps?"

Who cannot subscribe to the testimony, "When
my foot slipped, Your mercy, O Lord! held me up"?

Who can look back on his past pilgrimage, and
fail to see it crowded with monuments with this
inscription: "You have delivered . . .
  my soul from death,
  my eyes from tears, and
  my feet from falling"?

My soul, where would you have been this day,
had you not been "kept by the power of God"?