Grace Gems for September 2003

This my Friend!

(Havergal, "Daily Thoughts for the King's Children")

"The King shall be his friend."  Proverbs 22:11

"You are My friends." John 15:14

Who has not longed for an ideal and yet a real friend . . .
  one who would exactly understand us,
  one whom we could tell everything,
  one in whom we could altogether confide,
  one who would be very wise and very true,
  one of whose love and unfailing interest we could be certain,
  one who would be very near and dear,
  one who would be always with us,
  one who would be always thinking of us,
  one who would be always doing kind and wonderful things for us;
  one who would undertake and manage everything for us;
  one who would forget nothing,
  one who would fail in nothing;
  one who would never change and never die.

Such is our Royal Friend, and more!

We, even we, may look up to our glorious
King, and say, "He is altogether lovely. This
is my Beloved, this my Friend!" Song 5:16


Thousands imagine that they are humble

(J. C. Ryle, "The Gospel of Luke" 1858)

"A dispute arose among them as to which of them
 was considered to be greatest."  Luke 22:24

See how firmly pride and love of preeminence
can stick to the hearts of Christian men!

The sin before us is a very old one . . .
  self esteem, and
  self conceit
lie deep at the bottom of all men's hearts, and
often in the hearts where they are least suspected.

Thousands imagine that they are humble,
who cannot bear to see an equal more honored
and favored than themselves!

The quantity of envy and jealousy in the world
is a glaring proof of the prevalence of pride.

Let us live on our guard against this sore disease,
if we make any profession of serving Christ. The
harm that it has done to the Church of Christ is
far beyond calculation.

Let us learn to take pleasure in the prosperity
of others, and to be content with the lowest
place for ourselves.


If unconverted men had their own way entirely

(J. C. Ryle, "The Gospel of Luke" 1858)

"Now the guards in charge of Jesus began mocking
 and beating Him. They blindfolded Him; then they
 hit Him . . . . And they threw all sorts of terrible
 insults at Him."   Luke 22:63-65

See the shameful treatment that our Lord Jesus
underwent at the hands of His enemies.

Conduct like this shows the desperate corruption
of human nature.
The excesses of savage malice
to which unconverted men will sometimes go, and
the fierce delight with which they will sometimes
trample on the most holy and the most pure, almost
justify the strong saying of an old divine, that "man
left to himself is half beast and half devil

Unconverted men hate God and all who bear
anything of God's image about them.

We have probably a very faint idea of what the
world would become, if it were not for the constant
restraint that God mercifully puts upon evil. It is
not too much to say that if unconverted men had
their own way entirely
, the earth would soon be
little better than a hell.


High offices in the church

(J. C. Ryle, "The Gospel of Luke" 1858)

"The leading priests and teachers of religious law
 were actively plotting Jesus' murder." Luke 22:2

High offices in the church do not preserve the
holders of them from great blindness and sin.

The first step in putting Christ to death, was taken
by the religious teachers of the Jewish nation. The
very men who ought to have welcomed the Messiah,
were the men who conspired to kill Him. The very
pastors who ought to have rejoiced at the appearing
of the Lamb of God, had the chief hand in slaying
Him! These were the very men who crucified the Lord
of glory! With all their boasted knowledge, they were
far more ignorant than the few Galilean fishermen
who followed Christ!

Let us beware of attaching an excessive importance
to ministers of religion because of their office.

Ordination and office confer no exemption from error.

The greatest heresies have been sown, and
the greatest practical abuses introduced into
the church by ordained men!

We must test all teachers by the unerring rule of the
Word of God. It matters little who says a thing in
religion. But it matters greatly what it is that is said.

Is it scriptural?

Is it true?

This is the only question.

The lengths to which men may go in religion, and yet
be without grace, is far greater than we suppose.


He sits on the calm throne of eternal serenity!

(Henry Law, "Christ Is All")

'Change' is the defect of things below.

Our brightest morn often ends in storm.

Summer's radiance gives place to winter's gloom.

The smiling flower soon lies withered.

The babbling brook is soon a parched channel.

The friend who smiled, smiles no more friendly welcomes.

Bereavement weeps where once the family beamed with domestic joy.

Gardens wither into deserts.

Babylons crumble into unsightly ruins.

On all things a sad inscription writes . . .

Time flaps a ceaseless wing, and from
its wings, decay and death drop down.

But Jesus sits high above all this. He is 'the
same yesterday, and today, and forever.'

Jesus cannot change. He is as constant as
He is great. As surely as He ever lives, so
surely He ever lives the same.

He sits on the calm throne of eternal serenity!

The LOVE of Jesus is in perpetual bloom. It is
always in summertime. The roots are deeply
buried in Himself; therefore the branches cannot
fade. Believer, drink hourly of this cup of joy.

Christ loved you fully when, in the councils of
eternity, He received you into His heart.

He loved you truly when, in the fullness of
time, He took upon Himself your curse, and
drained your hell deep dues.

He loved you tenderly when He showed
you, by the Spirit, His hands and His feet,
and whispered to you that you were His.

He loves you faithfully while He ceases not
to intercede in your behalf, and to scatter
blessings on your soul.

He will love you intensely in heaven when
you are manifested as His precious purchase
and crowned as His bride!

Husbands, love your wives!

(Miller, "Secrets of Happy Home Life" 1894)

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ
 loved the church and gave Himself up for
 her." Ephes. 5:25

A husband is to love his wife.

Such love never demands obedience.
It never demands anything; it seeks
not to be served, but to serve.

Is love despotic?

Does love put its object in a servant's place?
No; love serves. It seeks not its own. It desires
"not to be served, but to serve." It does not
demand attention, deference, service, subjection.
It seeks rather to serve, to give, to honor.

The measure of the love required by the husband
is to be well noted, "just as Christ loved the church
and gave Himself up for her."

This is a lofty standard.

How did Christ show His love for His Church?
Think of . . .
  His gentleness to His friends,
  His patience with them in all their faultiness,
  His thoughtfulness,
  His unwearying kindness.

Never did a harsh word fall from His lips upon their
ears. Never did He do anything to give them pain.
It was not easy for Him at all times to maintain
such constancy and such composure and quietness
of love toward them; for they were very faulty, and
tried Him in a thousand ways. But His affection
never wearied nor failed for an instant.
are to love their wives even as Christ also loved the
Church, and gave Himself up for it. He loved even
to the cost of utmost self sacrifice.

There are men, however, who would do this, whose
love would sacrifice even life itself for a wife, but
who fail in daily and hourly tenderness. More wives
might complain of the lack of love in the little

A true woman's heart craves gentleness. It is hurt . . .
  by bitter words,
  by coldness,
  by impatience,
  by harsh criticisms,
  by neglect,
  by the withholding of the expressions of affection.

Love craves its daily bread of tenderness. No
husband should deny his wife the little things
of affection, the amenities of love, along the
busy, trying days; and then think to make
amends by putting a flower in her cold hand
when she lies in the coffin.

"You placed this flower in her hand, you say,
This pure, pale rose in her hand of clay.
Methinks, could she lift her sealed eyes,
They would meet your own with a grieved surprise.
When did you give her a flower before?
Ah, well, what matter, when all is o'er?"

A sweet, beautiful home

(J. R. Miller, "Secrets of Happy Home Life" 1894)

Home is the true wife's kingdom.

Very largely does the wife hold in her
hands, as a sacred trust, the happiness
and the highest good of the hearts that
nestle there. In the last analysis, home
depends on the wife.

Her spirit gives the home its atmosphere.

Her hands fashion its beauty.

Her heart makes its love.

And the end is so worthy, so noble, so divine,
that no woman who has been called to be a wife,
and has listened to the call, should consider any
price too great to pay, to be . . .
  the light,
  the joy,
  the blessing,
  the inspiration,
of a home.

The woman who makes a sweet, beautiful home,
filling it with love and prayer and purity, is doing
something better than anything else her hands
could find to do beneath the skies.

A true mother is one of the holiest secrets of
home happiness. God sends many beautiful things
to this world, many noble gifts; but no blessing is
richer than that which He bestows in a mother who
has learned love's lessons well, and has realized
something of the meaning of her sacred calling.

"Chance," "luck," or "accident"

(J. C. Ryle, "The Gospel of Luke" 1858)

"Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?
 Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.
 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all
 numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth
 more than many sparrows." Luke 12:6-7

Nothing whatever, whether great or small,
can happen to a believer, without God's
ordering and permission.

There is no such thing as "chance," "luck,"
or "accident"
in the Christian's journey through
this world. All is arranged and appointed by God.
And all things are "working together" for the
believer's good.

Let us seek to have an abiding sense of God's
hand in all that befalls us. Let us strive to realize
that a Father's hand is measuring out our daily
portion, and that our steps are ordered by Him.

A daily practical faith of this kind, is one grand
secret of happiness, and a mighty antidote against
murmuring and discontent. We should try to feel in
the day of trial and disappointment, that all is right
and all is well done.

We should try to feel on the bed of sickness that
there must be a "needs be." We should say to ourselves,
"God could keep away from me these things if He thought
fit. But He does not do so, and therefore they must be
for my advantage. I will lie still, and bear them patiently.
What pleases God shall please me."

Always look upon unsaved people

(Thomas Brooks, "Precious Remedies
 Against Satan's Devices" 1652)

Always look upon unsaved people under those
names and notions that the Scripture sets them
out under. The Scripture calls them . . .
  lions for their fierceness,
  bears for their cruelty,
  dragons for their hideousness,
  dogs for their filthiness,
  wolves for their subtleness.

The Scripture styles them . . .
  and scum.

By looking upon them under those names and
notions that the Scripture sets them out by,
you may preserve your soul from frequenting
their company and delighting in their society.

You may know well enough what is within them, by
the apt names that the Holy Spirit has given them.

Guilt or grief is all that gracious souls
get by conversing with wicked men.

The great master secret of all happy home life!

(J. R. Miller, "Secrets of Happy Home Life" 1894)

Christ is the great master secret of all happy home
The spirit of Christ alone will enable us to live
together in perfect peace and love. The presence of
Christ in the home is a perpetual blessing . . .
   we cannot be selfish,
   we cannot wrangle and strive,
   we cannot be bitter and unkind,
   we cannot be irritable and unreasonable,
when conscious of the presence of Christ.

If only we can make Christ an abiding guest in our
home, and if we can keep ourselves aware of His
being with us, our household life cannot help but
grow wondrously sweet!


They are helpers to the cause of the devil

(J. C. Ryle, "The Gospel of Luke" 1858)

"Don't even take along a walking stick,
 nor a traveler's bag, nor food, nor money.
 Not even an extra coat." Luke 9:3

Jesus charges His apostles, when He sends
them forth, to study simplicity of habits, and
contentment with such things as they have.

These instructions contain a lesson for all
time. The spirit of these verses is meant to
be remembered by all ministers of the Gospel.
The leading idea which the words convey is,
a warning against worldliness and luxurious

Well would it be for the world and the Church
if the warning had been more carefully heeded!
From no quarter has Christianity received such
damage as it has from the hands of its own
teachers! On no point have its teachers erred
so much, and so often, as in the matter of
worldliness and luxury of life.

They have often destroyed, by their daily lives,
the whole work of their lips. They have given
occasion to the enemies of religion to say, that
they love ease, and money, and worldly things,
far more than souls.

From such ministers may we pray daily that
the Church may be delivered!
They are a living
stumbling block in the way to heaven. They are
helpers to the cause of the devil
, and not of God.

The preacher whose affections are set on . . .
  and dress,
  and feasting,
  and pleasure seeking,
has clearly mistaken his vocation.

He has forgotten his Master's instructions.

What beauty have we that the King can desire?

(Havergal, "Daily Thoughts for the King's Children")

"So shall the King greatly desire your beauty."
     Psalm 45:11.

Can this be for us? What beauty have we that
the King can desire?
For the more we have seen
of His beauty, the more we have seen of our own
utter ugliness.

What, then, can He see?
'My loveliness which I have put upon you.'
'The beauty of the Lord our God upon us.'
'He will beautify the meek with salvation.'

And so the desire of the King is set upon us.

Perhaps we have had the dreary idea, 'Nobody
wants me!' We never need grope in that gloom
again, when the King Himself desires us! This
desire is love active, love in glow, love going
forth, love delighting and longing. It is taking
pleasure in His people; delighting in them; willing
that they should be with Him where He is; with
Him now, with Him always. It is the love that
does not and will not endure separation; the
love that cannot do without its object.

Now, if we take the King at His word, and really
believe that He thus desires us, can we possibly
remain cold hearted and indifferent to Him?

Oh, look straight away at His love and His desire!
Think of Jesus actually wanting you, really desiring
your love, not satisfied with all the love of all the
angels unless you love Him too; needing that little
drop to fill His cup of joy!

Whoever complains of seasons and weather!


All things are in the hands of God, have Him for their
Author, are directed and governed by Him to such ends
as are most suitable to His wise providence.

Whoever murmurs at the course of the world, murmurs
at God who governs the course of the world.

Whoever complains of seasons and weather, and
speaks impatiently of times and events, repines and
speaks impatiently of God, who is the sole Lord and
Governor of times, seasons, and events.

When we look at those things which are under the
direction of God, and governed by His providence,
we are to receive them with praise and gratitude.
We must adore God in the greatest public calamities,
like plagues and famines, as things that are allowed
by Him, for ends suitable to His wisdom and glory in
the government of the world.

There is nothing more suitable to the piety of a
Christian, than thus to approve, admire, and glorify
God in all the acts of His general providence;
considering the whole world as His particular family,
and all events as directed by His wisdom.

Choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures

(J. C. Ryle, "The Gospel of Luke" 1858)

"The seed that fell among thorns stands for
those who hear, but as they go on their way
they are choked by life's worries, riches and
, and they do not mature." Luke 8:14

The things of this life form one of the greatest
dangers which beset a Christian's path.

The money, the pleasures, the daily business
of the world, are so many traps to catch souls.

Thousands of things, which in themselves are
innocent, become, when followed to excess,
little better than soul poisons, and helps to hell.

Open sin is not the only thing that ruins souls!

In the midst of our families, and in the pursuit
of our lawful callings, we have need to be on our
guard. Unless we watch and pray, these temporal
things may rob us of heaven, and smother every
sermon we hear.

We may live and die thorny ground hearers.

"The seed that fell among thorns stands for
those who hear, but as they go on their way
they are choked by life's worries, riches and
, and they do not mature." Luke 8:14

Ah! who can grasp the thought!

(Thomas Reade, "Christian Experience")

One moment in heaven will convince the believer,
that his afflictions upon earth were light. When
earth with all its glories shall have passed away,
the lowly followers of Jesus will abide forever, and
shine as the sun, in the kingdom of their Father!

One moment in hell will convince the pleasure
loving sinner, that it would have been good for
him if he had never been born!

Ah! who can grasp the thought of
never ending joy, or everlasting woe!

The mind labors to conceive, and yet can never
reach beyond the first impression of eternity.

Numbers, years, ages, all, all are lost in
the immeasurable, unfathomable abyss! 


Heart affecting views?

(Thomas Reade, "Christian Experience")

How difficult it is to get heart affecting views . . .
  of sin,
  of Christ,
  of hell, and
  of heaven.

We talk about them, but alas! how little
are we practically affected by them.

Nothing but the Spirit of Christ can
open our eyes to see . . .
  the deformity of sin,
  the preciousness of the Savior,
  the misery of hell,
  the bliss of heaven. 


We shall always find him at Church!

(J. C. Ryle, "The Gospel of Luke" 1858)

"The seed is the Word of God. Those along the
 path are the ones who hear, and then the devil
 comes and takes away the Word from their hearts,
 so that they may not believe and be saved."
      Luke 8:11-12

The devil, that malicious spirit, is unwearied in his
efforts to do us harm. He is ever watching for our
halting, and seeking occasion to destroy our souls.

But nowhere perhaps is the devil so active as in a
congregation of Gospel hearers.
Nowhere does he
labor so hard to stop the progress of that which is
good, and to prevent men and women being saved.
>From him come . . .
  wandering thoughts;
  roving imaginations;
  listless minds;
  dull memories;
  sleepy eyes;
  fidgety nerves;
  weary ears; and
  distracted attention.

In all these things Satan has a great hand.

People wonder where they come from, and
marvel how it is that they find sermons so
dull, and remember them so badly!

They forget the parable of the sower.

They forget the devil.

Let us take heed that we are not wayside hearers.

Let us beware of the devil.

We shall always find him at Church!

He never stays away from public ordinances.

Let us remember this, and be upon our guard.


Slaves to the customs and temper of the world.

(William Law, "A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life")

"If you belonged to the world, it would love you as
 its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world,
 but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why
 the world hates you." John 15:19

"They are not of the world any more
 than I am of the world.
" John 17:14

"And we know that we are of God, and the
 whole world lies in wickedness.
" 1 John 5:19

All the ways, and maxims, and tempers
of the world, lie in wickedness.

Notwithstanding the clearness and plainness of these
Scriptures which thus renounce the world, yet a great
part of professing Christians live and die slaves to
the customs and temper of the world.

According to the spirit and vogue of this world,
whose corrupt air we have all breathed, there are
many things that pass for great and honorable,
and most desirable, which yet are so far from
being so, that the true greatness and honor of
our nature consists in the NOT desiring them.

The general temper and spirit of the world,
is nothing else but . . .
  self love,
  and vainglory.

To abound in wealth,
to have fine houses, and rich clothes,
to be attended with splendor and equipage,
to be beautiful in our persons,
to have titles of dignity,
to be above our fellow creatures,
to command the bows and obeisance of other people,
to be looked on with admiration,
to overcome our enemies with power,
to subdue all that oppose us,
to set out ourselves in as much splendor as we can,
to live highly and magnificently,
to eat, and drink, and delight ourselves in the most costly manner,
these are the great, the honorable, the
desirable things, to which the spirit of
the world turns the eyes of all people.

And many a Christian is afraid of not engaging
in the pursuit of these things, lest the same
world should take him for a fool.

But the history of the Gospel is chiefly the history
of Christ's conquest over the spirit of the world.
And the number of true Christians is only the number
of those who, following the Spirit of Christ, have lived
contrary to this spirit of the world.

You must unlearn all those notions which you have
been all your life learning from this corrupt spirit of
the world. You must stop the power of the world over
you, and resolve against a blind obedience to its laws.

"And we know that we are of God, and the
 whole world lies in wickedness.
" 1 John 5:19

"They are not of the world any more
 than I am of the world.
" John 17:14

We reason ourselves into all kinds of folly and misery

(William Law, "A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life")

The misery of our condition appears in this, that we use
our powers and abilities to the torment and vexation of
ourselves, and our fellow creatures.

God Almighty has entrusted us with the use of reason,
and we use it to the disorder and corruption of our nature.

We reason ourselves into all kinds of folly and misery, and
make our lives the sport of foolish and extravagant passions . . .
  seeking after imaginary happiness in all kinds of shapes;
  creating to ourselves a thousand needs;
  amusing our hearts with false hopes and fears;
  using the world worse than irrational animals;
  envying, vexing, and tormenting one another with
  restless passions, and unreasonable contentions.

Let any man but look back upon his own life,
and see what use he has made of his reason . . .
  what foolish passions,
  what vain thoughts,
  what needless labors,
  what extravagant projects,
have taken up the greatest part of his life!

How foolish he has been in his words and conversation;
how seldom he has done well with judgment;
how seldom he has been able to please himself;
how often he has displeased others;
how often he has changed his counsels;
hated what he loved, and loved what he hated;
how often he has been enraged and elated at trifles;
pleased and displeased with the very same things,
and constantly changing from one vanity to another!

Most people would rather choose to die, than to have . . .
  all their secret follies,
  all the errors of their judgments,
  all the vanity of their minds,
  all the falseness of their pretenses,
  the frequency of their vain and disorderly passions,
  their uneasiness, hatred, envies, and vexations,
made known unto the world.


The devil's old delusion!

(J. C. Ryle, "The Gospel of Luke" 1858)

John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized
by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee
from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with
repentance. The ax is already at the root of the trees,
and every tree that does not produce good fruit will
be cut down and thrown into the fire!"  Luke 3

We have, in these verses, a specimen of John the
Baptist's ministry
. It is a portion of Scripture which
should always be specially interesting to a Christian

We should first mark the holy boldness with which
John addresses the multitudes who came to his
baptism. He speaks to them as a "brood of vipers!"
He saw the rottenness and hypocrisy of the profession
that the crowd around him were making, and uses
language descriptive of their case.

His head was not turned by popularity.

He did not care who was offended by his words.

The spiritual disease of those before him was
desperate, and of long standing, and he knew
that desperate diseases need strong remedies.

Well would it be for the Church of Christ, if it
possessed more plain speaking ministers, like
John the Baptist, in these latter days.

A morbid dislike to strong language; an excessive
fear of giving offence; a constant flinching from
directness and plain speaking, are, unhappily, too
much the characteristics of the modern Christian pulpit.

Uncharitable language is no doubt always to be
deprecated. But there is no charity in flattering
unconverted people
, by abstaining from any
mention of their vices, or in applying smooth
epithets to damnable sins!

There are two texts which are too much forgotten
by Christian preachers. In one it is written, "Woe
unto you when all men shall speak well of you."
In the other it is written, "Obviously, I'm not trying
to be a people pleaser! No, I am trying to please
God. If I were still trying to please people, I would
not be Christ's servant." (Luke 6:26; Gal. 1:10)

We should mark, also, how plainly John speaks
to his hearers about HELL and danger!

He tells them that there is a "wrath to come."

He speaks of "the ax" of God's judgments, and
of unfruitful trees being "thrown into the fire!"

The subject of HELL is always offensive to human
nature. The minister who dwells much upon it,
must expect to find himself regarded as . . .
  and narrow minded.

Men love to hear "smooth things," and to be told
of peace, and not of danger. (Isaiah. 30:10)

But the subject of hell is one that ought not to
be kept back, if we desire to do good to souls.

It is one that our Lord Jesus Christ brought forward
frequently in His public teachings. That loving Savior,
who spoke so graciously of the way to heaven, has
also used the plainest language about the way to hell.

Let us beware of being wise above that which is
written, and more charitable than Scripture itself.
Let the language of John the Baptist be deeply
engraved in our hearts. Let us never be ashamed
to avow our firm belief, that there is a "wrath to
come" for the impenitent, and that it is possible
for a man to be lost, as well as to be saved.

To be silent on the subject is dreadful treachery to
men's souls. It only encourages them to persevere
in wickedness, and fosters in their minds the devil's
old delusion
, "You shall not surely die!"

That minister is surely our best friend who tells
us honestly of danger, and warns us, like John
the Baptist, to "flee from the wrath to come."

Never will a man flee until he sees there is real
cause to be afraid. Never will he seek heaven until
be is convinced that there is risk of his falling into

The religion in which there is no mention of hell,
is not the religion of John the Baptist, and of our
Lord Jesus, and His apostles.


Sympathy in one another's joys and sorrows

(J. C. Ryle, "The Gospel of Luke" 1858)

"Elizabeth's neighbors and relatives heard that
 the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they
 rejoiced with her
." Luke 1:58

We see here a striking example of the kindness
we owe to one another.
It is written that "they
rejoiced with her." How much more happiness
there would be in this evil world, if conduct like
this was more common!

Sympathy in one another's joys and sorrows
costs little, and yet is a grace of most mighty power.

Like the oil on the wheels of some large engine,
it may seem a trifling and unimportant thing; yet
in reality it has an immense influence on the comfort
and well working of the whole machine of society.

A kind word of congratulation or consolation is
seldom forgotten. The heart that is warmed by
good tidings, or chilled by affliction, is peculiarly
susceptible, and sympathy to such a heart is
often more precious than gold.

Sympathy is one of those ornaments of the Christian
character which make it beautiful in the eyes of men.

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep
 with those who weep." (Romans 12:15)

We are upon the utmost heights of human greatness!

(William Law, "A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life")

Prayer is the nearest approach to God, and the highest
enjoyment of Him, that we are capable of in this life.

Prayer is . . .
  the noblest exercise of the soul,
  the most exalted use of our best faculties, and
  the highest imitation of the blessed inhabitants of Heaven.

When our hearts are full of God, sending up holy desires
to the throne of grace, we are then in our highest state.
We are upon the utmost heights of human greatness!
We are not merely before kings and princes, but in the
presence and audience of the Lord of all the world, and
can be no higher, until death is swallowed up in glory!

The highest grace that can
adorn the Christian character

(J. C. Ryle, "The Gospel of Luke" 1858)

And Mary said: "My soul glorifies the Lord and
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has
been mindful of the humble state of His servant."
   Luke 1:46-48

Mark Mary's deep humility. She who was chosen
of God to the high honor of being Messiah's mother,
speaks of her own "humble state," and acknowledges
her need of a "Savior."

She does not let fall a word to show that she regarded
herself as a sinless, "immaculate" person.  On the
contrary, she uses the language of one who has been
taught by the grace of God to feel her own sins, and
so far from being able to save others, requires a Savior
for her own soul. We may safely affirm that none would
be more forward to reprove the honor paid by the Romish
Church to the Virgin Mary, than the Virgin Mary herself.

Let us copy this holy humility of our Lord's mother,
while we steadfastly refuse to regard her as a mediator,
or to pray to her. Like her, let us be lowly in our own
eyes, and think little of ourselves.

Humility is the highest grace that can adorn the
Christian character
. It is a true saying of an old
divine, that "a man has just so much Christianity
as he has humility."

Humility is the grace, which of all is most
suited to human nature.

Above all, humility is the grace which is
within the reach of every converted person.

All are not rich.

All are not learned.

All are not highly gifted.

All are not preachers.

But all children of God may be clothed with humility.

Do you love Me?

(J. C. Ryle, "The Gospel of John" 1873)

"Simon son of John, do you love Me?" John 21:16

"Do you love Me?" may seem at first sight a
simple question. In one sense it is so. Even a
child can understand love, and can say whether
he loves another or not.

Yet "Do you love Me?" is, in reality,
a very searching question. We may . . .
  know much,
  and do much,
  and profess much,
  and talk much,
  and work much,
  and give much,
  and experience much,
  and make much show in our religion,
and yet be dead before God, from lack
of love, and at last go down to the pit.

Do we love Christ?

That is the great question!

Without this there is no vitality about our
Christianity. We are no better than . . .
  painted wax figures,
  lifeless stuffed beasts in a museum,
  sounding brass and tinkling cymbals.

There is no life where there is no love to Jesus.

correct views,
regular use of forms,
a respectable moral life;
all these do not make up a true Christian.

All the miseries, vexations, and complaints

(William Law, "A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life")

Pride and envy; and desire for rank, fame,
and power; are contrary to Christianity.

These passions are the causes of all the
distresses and vexations of human life.

They are the maladies and fevers of our minds,
vexing them with false appetites, and restless
cravings after such things as we do not need;
and spoiling our taste for those things which
are our proper good.

Let but any complaining, disturbed man, tell you
the ground of his uneasiness, and you will plainly
see that he is the author of his own torment; that
he is vexing himself at some imaginary evil, which
will cease to torment him as soon as he is content
to be that which God requires him to be.

All the miseries, vexations, and complaints, that
are in the world are entirely of our own making.
They are directly caused by those absurd passions
which Christianity teaches us to deny. For all the
things which disturb human life, which make us
uneasy to ourselves, quarrelsome with others, and
unthankful to God; which weary us in vain labors
and foolish anxieties; which carry us from project
to project, from place to place, in a futile pursuit
of we know not what, are the things are solely
infused into us by pride, envy, ambition, and

The Shepherd knows what pastures are best

(Hannah Smith, 1875)

"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters" Psalm 23:1-2

The Shepherd knows what pastures are best
for His sheep, and they must not question nor
doubt, but trustingly follow Him.

Perhaps He sees that the best pastures for
some of us are to be found in the midst of
opposition or of earthly trials. If He leads you
there, you may be sure they are green for you,
and you will grow and be made strong by
feeding there.

Perhaps He sees that the best waters for you
to walk beside, will be raging waves of trouble
and sorrow. If this should be the case, He will
make them quiet waters for you, and you must
go and lie down beside them, and let them
have all their blessed influences upon you.


Lord, I am a poor, blind child

(Winslow, "Daily Need Divinely Supplied")

"He tends His flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in His arms
and carries them close to His heart;
He gently leads those that have young."
   Isaiah 40:11

Jesus leads those who are burdened, and
need a skillful, sure, and gentle shepherd.

Our journey to heaven is across a waste,
howling wilderness, through an enemy's
country, all armed and combined to resist,
dispute, and oppose our every step.

It is a road, also, all untraveled and unknown.
Over the entrance of every new path is written,
"You have not passed this way before." A new
bend in our life transpires, a new path in our
pilgrimage is presented, involving new duties
and responsibilities, new cares and trials. And
with fear and trembling we gird ourselves for
the new cloud veiled pilgrimage which God in
His goodness has appointed us.

But why these doubts, these tremblings, these
fears? Jesus is our Leader! He knows all the way
we take, has mapped every road, and has
appointed every path.

As a Teacher, He leads us into all truth;
as a Captain, He leads us from victory to victory;
as a Shepherd, He leads us into green pastures;
as a Guide, He leads us along our difficult path,
skillfully, gently, and safely.

And HOW does Jesus lead us? He leads us graciously.
He leads us along all the stages, and through all the
exercises of our Christian experience, leaving us not
when our frames are low, and our faith is assailed,
and darkness, often thick darkness, covers our soul.

Who could skillfully, patiently, and faithfully lead
us along all the mazes, intricacies, and perils of our
Christian course safely to glory, but Christ our Leader?

Commit yourself, O my soul, confidently to the
Lord's leading. The way may appear all wrong to
you, but it is the right way.
Mystery may enshroud it,
trials may pave it,
sorrows may darken it,
tears may bedew it, nevertheless He
is leading you by the right way home.

"I will lead the blind by ways they have not known,
along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn
the darkness into light before them, and make the
rough places smooth. These are the things I will do;
I will not forsake them." Isaiah 42:16

"Lord, I am a poor, blind child, not knowing my way;
and when I do see it, I am often so burdened that I
cannot walk. Take me by the hand, and gently, skillfully
lead me until traveling days are over, and I am at home
with You forever. You have promised gently to lead the
burdened and feeble who cannot keep up with the flock.
Lord, lead ME!"

There is the vilest and the most unworthy
creature that has ever entered Heaven!

(Stephen Tyng, "A Series of Practical Meditations")

What an amount of guilt has He pardoned!

It is impossible to overstate this. No view that
I can now take of it ascends to the truth . . .
  my original debasement,
  my wayward youth,
  my rejection of His love,
  my rebellion against His authority,
  my forgetfulness of His goodness,
  my backslidings from His way,
  my inconsistent profession,
  my vain and sinful example,
  the wickedness of my unconverted state,
  the errors of my renewed state!
Alas! every day and every act brings up its
separate testimony. And all condemn me!

But He has freely pardoned!

He has blotted out this whole fearful record!

He will display it all, that all may see the riches
of His grace in my forgiveness. Be it so. I know it
is most disgraceful to me. But willingly would I
come there and have it said, "There is the vilest
and the most unworthy creature that has ever
entered Heaven
" so that Christ shall have all
the glory of my forgiveness!

My sin has fearfully abounded. But His grace has
so much the more abounded, and the glory is His!

The searching, burning, purifying
fires of Christ's furnace!

(Winslow, "Daily Need Divinely Supplied" 1870)

"He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver;
 He will purify the Levites and refine them like
 gold and silver. " Malachi 3:3

O my soul, what deep need is there for this
refining and purifying of your Lord . . .
  what inward corruption,
  what carnality,
  what worldliness,
  what self seeking,
  what creature idolatry,
  what God dishonoring unbelief!
All imperatively demand the searching, burning,
purifying fires of Christ's furnace!

Jesus is the Refiner and Purifier of His Church.

It is a consolatory thought that our refining is in
the hands of Jesus; in the hands that were pierced
for us on the cross.

My soul! your Refiner and Purifier is Jesus!

Jesus shapes all your trials!

Jesus sends all your afflictions!

Jesus mixes all your sorrows!

Jesus shapes and balances all the clouds of your pilgrimage!

Jesus prepares and heats the furnace that
refines you as silver and purifies you as gold!

Then, O my soul, tremble not . . .
  at the knife that wounds you,
  at the flame that scorches you,
  at the cloud that shades you,
  at the billows that surge above you;
Jesus is in it all, and you are as safe as though
you had reached the blissful climate where . . .
  the vine needs no pruning,
  and the ore no purifying,
  where the sky is never darkened,
  and upon whose golden sands where no storms of
  adversity ever blow, or waves of sorrow ever break.

Mark the Refiner's position. "He will SIT as a
refiner and purifier of silver." It would be fatal
to his purpose, if the human refiner were to leave
his post while the liquid mass was seething in the
cauldron. But there he patiently sits, watching and
tempering the flame, and removing the refuse and
the dross as it floats upon the surface of the molten

Just so, Christ sits as a Refiner . . .
  and with an eye that never slumbers,
  and with a patience that never wearies,
  and with a love that never chills,
  and with a faithfulness that never falters,
watches and controls the process that . . .
  purifies our hearts,
  burnishes our graces,
  sanctifies our nature, and
  impresses more vividly His own
image of loveliness upon our soul.

If He places you in the fire, He will bring you
through the fire, "that the trial of your faith,
being much more precious than of gold that
perishes, though it be tried with fire, might
be found unto praise and honor and glory at
the appearing of Jesus Christ."

But sweet and soothing is the truth that the
believer is not alone in the fire!
The Refiner
is with us, as with the three Hebrew children
passing through the king's burning furnace.

The Lord will have us polished stones; and
as some believers are more rusty and some
more alloyed than others, they need a
rougher file, and a hotter furnace!

This may account for the great severity of trial
through which some of the Lord's precious
are called to pass. Not less dear to
His heart are they for this refining.

Look up, my soul, to your Refiner!

Be still, humble, submissive.

The knife is in a Father's hand!

The flame is under a Savior's control!

All, all is ours!

(Winslow, "Daily Need Divinely Supplied" 1870)

"The Lord is my portion, says my soul;
 therefore I will hope in Him."  Lament. 3:24

It is our great privilege, beloved, that we live in a
'portionless' world.
When God parceled out the land
of Canaan among the tribes of Israel, He made an
exception in the tribe of Levi, to whom He said,
"You shall have no inheritance in the land, neither
shall you have any part among them;" assigning as
His reason, "I am your share and your inheritance."

The gospel teaching of this is obvious and significant.

As the Lord's true priesthood, this world is not our
portion, nor earth our rest.
It may have required
some painful discipline, and no small measure of faith,
on the part of the devout Levite, as he gazed upon the
fertile meadows, the watered plains, and the vine clad
hills of the Promised Land, before he was made willing
to relinquish it all for Him who is invisible.

It needs no little teaching and discipline
of our God, and no little faith on our part,
before we are led to give up . . .
  the world,
  the creature,
  and all,
for Christ; satisfied to have the Lord alone as
our Portion, and heaven only as our inheritance.

"The Lord is my portion, says my soul." His love
to us was so great, that when He could give no
greater proof of that love, He gave HIMSELF!
Nothing more could have expressed the yearnings
of His heart, nothing less could have satisfied the
desires of ours.

And oh, what a Portion is God!

All that He is, and all that He has is ours . . .
  every attribute of His being is over us,
  every perfection of His nature encircles us,
  every pulse of His heart beats for us,
  every glance of His eye smiles upon us.

We dwell in God, and God dwells in us.

It is not the world which is our portion, but
HE who made, upholds and governs the world.

It is not the creature who is our portion, but
the Lord of angels and the Creator of men.

Infinite portion!
Illimitable power!
Immeasurable grace!
Boundless love!
All satisfying good!
All, all is ours!

And what a Portion, O my soul, is Christ . . .
  a divine Christ,
  a redeeming Christ,
  a full Christ,
  a sympathizing Christ,
  an ever present Christ,
  an ever precious Christ,
  an ever loving Christ!

"Lord, I bless You for the discipline that brought
me to realize what a divine, all satisfying Portion
I have in Yourself. You took from me an earthly
portion, only to enrich me with a Heavenly one.
You removed from me the human prop upon which
I too fondly and idolatrously leaned, that I might
learn what Christ was, as my soul's all sufficient,
all satisfying, and everlasting Portion. I can now
admire the wisdom, and adore the love, that blasted
my gourds and emptied me from vessel to vessel;
that, rising superior to the broken staff, the drooping
flower, and the failing spring of creature good, I
might claim my portion as a true spiritual Levite
in Yourself alone."