Grace Gems for January 2004

Untried, untrodden, and unknown

(Octavius Winslow, "The Untrodden Path" 1860)

"You have not passed this way before." Joshua 3:4

How solemn is the reflection that with a
new cycle of time, commences a new and
untrodden path
with each traveler to Zion.

New events in his history will transpire;
new scenes in the panorama of life will unfold;
new phases of character will develop;
new temptations will assail;
new duties will devolve;
new trials will be experienced;
new sorrows will be felt;
new friendships will be formed;
new mercies will be bestowed.

How truly may it be said of the pilgrim, journeying
through the wilderness to his eternal home, as he
stands upon the threshold of this untried period of
his existence, pondering the unknown and uncertain
future, "You have not passed this way before."

But there is another thought inexpressibly soothing.
Untried, untrodden, and unknown as that new path
may be, it is each step mapped and arranged, and
provided for
in the everlasting and unchangeable
covenant of God. To Him who leads us, who accepts
us in the Son of His love, who knows the end from the
beginning, it is no new, or uncertain, or hidden way.

We thank Him that, while He wisely and kindly veils all
the future from our reach; all that future, its minutest
event, is as transparent and visible to Him as the past.

Our Shepherd knows the windings along which He
skillfully, gently, and safely leads His flock. Oh! it
is a thought replete with strong consolation, and
well calculated to gird us for the coming year: the
Lord knows and has ordained each step of the
untrodden path upon which I am about to enter!

The infinite forethought, wisdom, and goodness
which have marked each line of our new path
have also provided for its every necessity . . .
  each exigency in the new year has been anticipated;
  each need will bring its appropriate and adequate supply;
  each perplexity will have its guidance;
  each sorrow its comfort;
  each temptation its shield;
  each cloud its light;
  each affliction will suggest its lesson;
  each correction will impart its teaching;
  each mercy will convey its message of love.

The promise will be fulfilled to the letter,
"As your day so shall your strength be."

Have we not leaned upon a thousand things?

(J. C. Philpot, "The Laborer's Rest" 1845)

"Who is this that comes up from the wilderness,
 leaning upon her Beloved?" Song 8:5

Have we not leaned upon a thousand things?
And what have they proved? Broken reeds that
have run into our hands, and pierced us!

Our own strength and resolutions; the world and
the church; sinners and saints; friends and enemies;
have they not all proved, more or less, broken reeds?
The more we have leaned upon them, like a man
leaning upon a sword, the more have they pierced
our souls!

The Lord Himself has to wean us . . .
  from leaning on the world,
  from leaning on friends,
  from leaning on enemies,
  from leaning on self,
in order to bring us to lean upon Himself.

And every prop He will remove, sooner or later,
that we may lean wholly and solely upon Him.

This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?

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

"This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?"
    John 6:60

Murmurs and complaints of this kind are very
common. It must never surprise us to hear them.
They have been, they are, they will be, as long
as the world stands.

To some Christ's sayings appear hard to understand.
To others they appear hard to believe. And to others,
harder still to obey.

It is just one of the many ways in which the natural
corruption of man shows itself. So long as the heart
is naturally . . .
   unbelieving, and
   fond of self-indulgence and sin,
so long there will never be lacking people who will
say of Christian doctrines and precepts, "This is a
hard teaching. Who can accept it?

Fallen man, in interpreting the Bible, has an
unhappy aptitude for turning food into poison.

There is a melancholic anxiety in fallen man
to put a carnal sense on Scriptural expressions,
wherever he possibly can.

He struggles hard to make religion a matter . . .
  of forms and ceremonies;
  of doing and performing;
  of sacraments and ordinances;
  of sense and of sight.

He secretly dislikes that system of Christianity
which makes the state of the heart the principal

There is a tendency in many minds to attach an
excessive importance to the outward and visible
parts of religion. They seem to think that the sum
and substance of Christianity consists in public
ceremonies and forms, in appeals to the eye and
ear, and bodily excitement.

Superabounding grace

(J. C. Philpot, "The Superaboundings of
Grace over the Aboundings of Sin", 1862)

"But where sin abounded, grace did much
 more abound."  Romans 5:20

What are all the gilded toys of time compared
with the solemn, weighty realities of eternity!

But, alas! what wretches are we when left to
sin, self, and Satan! How unable to withstand
the faintest breath of temptation! How bent
upon backsliding!

Who can fathom the depths of the human heart?

Oh, what but grace, superabounding grace,
can either suit or save such wretches?

"But where sin abounded, grace did much
 more abound."  Romans 5:20

Unless upheld by a heavenly arm

(Henry Law, "Psalms" 1878)

"Lord, sustain me as you promised,
 that I may live!"  Psalm 119:116

Our natural strength is utter feebleness.

Unless upheld by a heavenly arm,
we cannot but fall.

A sin that eats like a canker!

(J. C. Ryle, "The Gospel of Mark" 1857)

"Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve
 disciples, went to the leading priests to
 arrange to betray Jesus to them." Mark 14:10

See what lengths a man may go in a false
profession of religion!
It is impossible to
conceive a more striking proof of this painful
truth, than the history of Judas Iscariot. If
ever there was a man who at one time looked
like a true disciple of Christ, and bade fair to
reach heaven, that man was Judas. He was
chosen by the Lord Jesus Himself to be an
apostle. He was privileged to be a companion
of the Messiah, and an eyewitness of His mighty
works, throughout His earthly ministry. He was
an associate of Peter, James and John. He was
sent forth to preach the kingdom of God, and to
work miracles in Christ's name. He was regarded
by all the eleven apostles as one of themselves.
He was so like his fellow disciples, that they did
not suspect him of being a traitor.

And yet this very man turns out at last . . .
  a false hearted child of the devil;
  departs entirely from the faith;
  assists our Lord's deadliest enemies,
  and leaves the world with a worse reputation
       than anyone since the days of Cain!

Never was there . . .
  such a fall,
  such an apostasy,
  such a miserable end to a fair beginning,
  such a total eclipse of a soul!

And how can this amazing conduct of Judas be
accounted for? There is only one answer to that
question. "The love of money" was the cause of
this unhappy man's ruin. That same groveling
, which enslaved the heart of
Balaam, and brought on Gehazi a leprosy, was
the destruction of Iscariot's soul. The Holy Spirit
declares plainly "he was a thief." And his case
stands before the world as an eternal comment
on the solemn words, "the love of money is the
root of all kinds of evil."

Let us learn from this melancholy history of Judas,
to be "clothed with humility," and to be content
with nothing short of the grace of the Holy Spirit
in our hearts.

church membership,
power of preaching,
praying, and
talking about religion,
are all useless things, if our hearts are not converted.

They will not deliver us from hell.

Above all, let us remember our Lord's caution, to
"beware of covetousness." It is a sin that eats like
a canker
, and once admitted into our hearts, may
lead us finally into every wickedness.

Let us pray to be "content with such things as
we have." The possession of money is not the
one thing needful. Riches entail great peril on
the souls of those who have them. The true
Christian ought to be far more afraid of being
rich than of being poor.

The refuge!

(by Newman Hall)

"The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my
deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I
take refuge. He is my shield and the horn
of my salvation, my stronghold." Psalm 18:2

The desert is dreary.

The way is long.

Heavily burdened, a weary traveler
slowly drags onward his wounded feet.

Faint by reason of the fiery blaze which
smites him from the unclouded sky and
the scorching sand, he eagerly looks
around for shelter. He pants for even
the muddiest pool where he may quench
his raging thirst.

In such "a weary land," how welcome "the
shadow of a great rock," and the clear, cool
fountain gushing up within its rugged clefts!
But where can such a refuge be found for the
soul; weary with wandering, crushed by care,
groaning under guilt? Where can . . .
  its burden be taken off,
  its sorrows soothed,
  its mighty thirst assuaged?

"And a Man will be as a shelter from the wind
and a refuge from the storm, like streams of
water in the desert and the shadow of a great
rock in a thirsty land." Isaiah 32:2

What we were, and what we now are!

(From the letters of Mary Winslow)

My heart is often overwhelmed at the
thought of His avowing such a worthless
worm as myself as one of His sheep for
whom He shed His precious blood. Dear
friend, let us never for a moment forget
what we were, and what we now are!

The gate of death, and the gate of glory, are one!

(John MacDuff, "Meditations on the Glories of Heaven")

"TODAY you shall be with Me in paradise." Luke 23:43

The same moment in which I close my eyes on a
world of sin and suffering, I open them in glory!

The gate of death, and the gate of glory, are one!

The uncaged spirit will all at once fly upwards
to nestle in the golden eaves of Heaven!

Let me look forward, then, with bounding heart,
to the hour of death, as the hour of my entrance
into endless bliss; the birthday of eternity!

Oh, if there was "joy in heaven among the angels
of God" at the hour of conversion, what will it be
at the hour of glorification!

If God the Father even on earth has joy in seeing
His returning prodigal; what will it be when He
welcomes him to his everlasting home!

"He will rejoice over him with joy; He will rest in
 His love; He will rejoice over him with singing!"
    (Zeph. 3:17.)

The Redeemer utters His intercessory prayer over
the death bed on earth, "Father, I will that this
one whom you have given Me be with Me where
I am, to behold My glory."

The prayer is heard; the angels are sent down; and,
swift as lightning leaps from the cloud, THAT HOUR,
and forever, he is "with Jesus in paradise!"

"TODAY you shall be with Me in paradise."

The weather

(Henry Law, "Psalms" 1878)

"He causes the clouds to rise over the
 earth. He sends the lightning with the
 rain and releases the wind from His
 storehouses." Psalm 135:7

The wild elements seem to unenlightened
observation to act capriciously and without
control. But His power holds them fast
bound in His hands.

No clouds arise,
no lightning flashes,
no rain descends,
no wind blows furiously,
but in accordance with His sovereign will.

Let us bless God for His unbounded rule.


It changes the tastes

(Hannah More, "Christianity, a Practical Principle")

The finest 'theory' never yet carried any man to heaven.

Christianity is not a religion of 'notions which occupy
the mind' without filling the heart. Such a religion is
not that which Christ came to teach mankind.

All the doctrines of the Gospel are practical principles.

The Word of God was not written that Christians might
merely obtain right views and possess just notions.

Christianity is something more than . . .
  mere correctness of intellect,
  justness of thought, and
  exactness of judgment.

It is a life giving principle.

It must be infused into the life as well as govern
in the understanding. It must regulate the will as
well as direct the creed. It must not only cast the
opinions into a right frame, but the heart into a
new mold.

Christianity is a transforming as well as a penetrating
principle. It changes the tastes, gives activity to the
inclinations, and, together with a new heart, produces
a new life.

In principles,
in tempers,
in fervent desires,
in holy endeavors,
consists the very essence of Christian duty.

We cannot be said to be real Christians until
Christianity becomes our animating motive, our
predominating principle and pursuit; as much
as worldly things are the predominating motive,
principle, and pursuit of worldly men.

The sovereign ruler of the world!

(Jonathan Edwards, "The Final Judgment")

Wicked men question the very existence
of God, who takes care of the world, who
orders the affairs of it, and judges in it.
And therefore they cast off the fear of God.
Yet at the conclusion of the world He shall
make His dominion visible to all, so that
even those who have denied Him shall find,
that God is their supreme Lord, and Lord of
the whole world! The blasphemies of the
ungodly will be forever put to silence.

God is the sovereign ruler of the world!

He governs the sun, moon, and stars.
He governs even the motes of dust
which fly in the air. Not a hair of our
heads falls to the ground without
our heavenly Father.

God also governs the brute creatures. By His
providence, He orders, according to His own
decrees, all events concerning those creatures.

And rational creatures are subject to the His
government. All their actions, and all events
relating to them, being ordered by superior
providence, according to absolute decrees, so
that no event that relates to them ever happens
without the disposal of God, according to His
own decrees.

God exercises the most sovereign dominion
over the earth. He reigns and does all things
according to His own will, ordering all events
as seems good to Himself.

God is
the sovereign ruler of the world!


The silkworm

(Spurgeon, "The Deep-seated Character of Sin")

Nothing is more pleasing to human nature
than the attempt to do something by which
it may merit salvation at the hand of God.

Man is much like a silkworm, he is
a spinner and weaver by nature.

A robe of righteousness is wrought out for
him, but he will not have it. He will spin
for himself, and like the silkworm, he spins,
and spins, and he only spins himself a shroud.

All the righteousness that a sinner can make
will only be a shroud in which to wrap up his
soul, his destroyed soul, for God will cast
him away who relies upon his works.


The idol SELF must be dethroned!

(Thomas Reade, "Christian Experience")

Those who understand the nature of the
Gospel, and live under its power, can enter
into its blessed design. All its doctrines,
precepts, and promises, are calculated . . .
  to abase the pride of man,
  to exalt the glory of Christ,
  to reveal . . .
    the malignity of sin,
    the beauty of holiness,
    the vanity of the world,
    the bliss of heaven;
  to show the sinner his utter helplessness,
  to reveal to Jesus an all sufficient Savior.

Pride wants its share of merit in the work
of redemption, but Truth levels the proud
pretension in the dust.

Proud man must be humbled, the
idol SELF must be dethroned!

Job's religion

(J. C. Philpot)

"Oh that I knew where I might find Him!" Job 23:3

What a mere shallow pretense to vital godliness
satisfies most ministers, most hearers, and most

But there was a reality in Job's religion.

It was not of a flimsy, notional, superficial nature.
It was not merely a sound Calvinistic creed, and
nothing more. It was not a religion of theory and
speculation, nor a well-compacted system of
doctrines and duties. There was something deeper,
something more divine in Job's religion than any
such mere pretense, delusion, imitation, or hypocrisy.

And if our religion be of the right kind, there will be
something deeper in it, something more powerful,
spiritual, and supernatural, than notions and doctrines,
theories and speculations, merely passing to and fro
in our minds, however scriptural and correct.

There will be a divine reality in it, if God the Spirit be
the author of it. And there will be no trifling with the
solemn things of God, and with our own immortal souls.

The Good Shepherd

(J. C. Ryle)

"I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd
 lays down His life for the sheep. I am the Good
; I know My sheep and My sheep know
 Me." John 10:11,14

Like a Good Shepherd, Christ knows
all His believing people . . .
  their names,
  their families,
  their dwelling places,
  their circumstances,
  their private history,
  their experience,
  their trials;
with all these things Jesus is perfectly acquainted.
There is not a thing about the least and lowest of
them with which He is not familiar. The children of
this world may not know Christians, and may count
their lives folly; but the Good Shepherd knows them
thoroughly, and, wonderful to say, though He knows
them, does not despise them.

Like a Good Shepherd, Christ cares tenderly for
all His believing people. He provides for all their
needs in the wilderness of this world, and leads
them by the right way to a city of habitation. He
bears patiently with their many weaknesses and
infirmities, and does not cast them off because
they are wayward, erring, sick, footsore, or lame.
He guards and protects them against all their
enemies; and of those that the Father has given
Him He will be found at last to have lost none.

Like a Good Shepherd, Christ lays down His life
for the sheep. He did it once for all, when He was
crucified for them. When He saw that nothing could
deliver them from hell and the devil, but His blood,
He willingly made His soul an offering for their sins.
The merit of that death He is now presenting before
the Father's throne. The sheep are saved forever,
because the Good Shepherd died for them.

This is indeed a love that passes knowledge!

The heart of God's child

(J. C. Philpot, "The Heir of Heaven Walking in
Darkness, and the Heir of Hell Walking in Light")

There is much . . .
  superstition and
to be purged out of the heart of God's child.

But all these things . . .
  keep him low,
  mar his pride,
  crush his self-righteousness,
  cut the locks of his presumption,
  stain his self conceit,
  stop his boasting,
  preserve him from despising others,
  make him take the lowest room,
  teach him to esteem others better than himself,
  drive him to earnest prayer,
  fit him as an object of mercy,
  break to pieces his free will, and
lay him low at the feet of the Redeemer, as
one to be saved by sovereign grace alone!

The way in which the Spirit of God works

(J. C. Philpot, "Spiritual Times and Seasons" 1841)

As pride rises, it must be broken down.

As self-righteousness starts up, it must be brought low.

As the wisdom of the creature exalts itself against
the wisdom of God, it must be laid prostrate.

The way in which the Spirit of God works is to lay
the creature low, by bringing it into nothingness,
and crushing it into self-abasement and self-loathing,
so as to press out of it everything on which the
creature can depend.

Like a surgeon, who will run his lancet into the abscess,
and let out the gory matter, in order to effect a thorough
cure; so the Spirit of the Lord thrusting His sharp sword
into the heart, lets out the inward corruption, and never
heals the wound until He has thoroughly probed it.

And when He has laid bare the heart, He heals it by
pouring in the balmy blood of Jesus, as that which,
by its application, cleanses from all sin.

The world passes away, and the lust thereof

("The Love of the World and the Love of God",
 preached at Gower Street Chapel, London, on
 July 19, 1868, by J. C. Philpot)

"The world passes away, and the lust thereof."
     1 John 2:17

The world and all that is in it comes to an end.
Where are the great bulk of the men and women
who fifty, sixty, or seventy years ago trod London
streets? Where are they who rode about in their
gay carriages, gave their splendid entertainments,
decked themselves with feathers and jewels, and
enjoyed all the pleasures of life?

Where are they?

The grave holds their bodies, and hell holds their souls.

"The world passes away." It is like a pageant, or a
gay and splendid procession, which passes before
the eye for a few minutes, then turns the corner of
the street, and is lost to view. It is now to you who
had looked upon it just as if it were not, and is gone
to amuse other eyes.

So, could you go on for years . . .
  enjoying all your natural heart could wish;
  lay up money by thousands;
  ride in your carriage;
  deck your body with jewelry;
  fill your house with splendid furniture;
  enjoy everything that earth can give;
then there would come, some day or other, sickness
to lay you upon a dying bed. To you the world has
now passed away with all its lusts; with you all is
now come to an end; and now you have, with a
guilty soul, to face a holy God.

"The world passes away, and the lust thereof."

All these lusts for which men have sold body and soul,
half ruined their families, and stained their own name;
all these lusts for which they were so mad that they
would have them at any price, snatch them even from
hell's mouth; all these lusts are passed away, and what
have they left?
A gnawing worm; a worm that can never
die, and the wrath of God as an unquenchable fire.

That is all which the love of the world can do for you,
with all your toil and anxiety, or all your amusement
and pleasure.

You have not gained much perhaps of this world's goods,
with all your striving after them. But could the world fill
your heart with enjoyment, and your money bags with
gold, as the dust of the grave will one day fill your mouth,
it would be much to the same purpose. If you had got all
the world, you would have got nothing after your coffin
was screwed down, but gravedust in your mouth.

Such is the end of the world.

"The world passes away, and the lust thereof."

DEATH is the great and final extinguisher of all human
hopes and pleasures.
Look and see how man sickens
and dies, and is tumbled into the cemetery, where his
body is left to the worms, and his soul to face an angry
God, on the great judgment day.

"The world passes away, and the lust thereof."

Many sorrows now;
many sorrows forever!

(Henry Law, "Psalms")

"Many sorrows come to the wicked,
 but unfailing love surrounds those who
 trust the Lord." Psalm 32:10

Many sorrows now; many sorrows
, must be the sinner's doom.

The mouth of the Lord has spoken it.

Justice demands it.

A grace that all can understand

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

If there is one feature in Jesus' character more
notable than another, it is His unwearied
kindness and love.

Let us, like Him, show kindness to everyone with
whom we have to do. Let us strive to have . . .
  an eye ready to see,
  a hand ready to help,
  a heart ready to feel, and
  a will ready to do good to all.

Let us be ready to weep with those who weep,
and rejoice with those who rejoice. This is one
way to recommend our religion, and make it
beautiful before men.

Kindness is a grace that all can understand.

Kindness is one way to be like our blessed Savior.

Kindness is one way to be happy in the world.

Kindness always brings its own reward.

The kind person
will seldom be without friends.


(J. C. Philpot, "The Laborer's Rest" 1845)

"Then Jesus said, "Come to Me, all of you
 who are weary and carry heavy burdens,
 and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

The Lord's purpose in laying burdens upon
us is to weary us out. We cannot learn our
religion in any other way. We cannot learn
it from the Bible, nor from the experience of
others. It must be a personal work, wrought
in the heart of each; and we must be brought,
all of us, if ever we are to find rest in Christ,
to be absolutely wearied out of sin and self,
and to have no righteousness, goodness, or
holiness of our own.

The effect, then, of all spiritual labor is to bring
us to this point: to be weary of the world, for we
feel it, for the most part, to be a valley of tears;
to be weary of self, for it is our greatest plague;
weary of professors, for we cannot see in them
the grace of God, which alone we prize and value;
weary of the profane, for their ungodly conversation
only hurts our minds; weary of our bodies, for they
are often full of sickness and pain, and always
clogs to our soul; and weary of life, for we see
the emptiness of those things which to most
people make life so agreeable.

By this painful experience we come to this point:
to be worn out and wearied; and there we must
come, before we can rest entirely on Christ.

As long as we can rest in the world, we shall
rest in it. As long as the things of time and
sense can gratify us, we shall be gratified in
them. As long as we can find anything pleasing
in self, we shall be pleased with it. As long as
anything visible and tangible can satisfy us,
we shall be satisfied with them.

But when we get weary of all things visible,
tangible, and sensible—weary of ourselves,
and of all things here below—then we want
to rest upon Christ, and Christ alone.

"Then Jesus said, "Come to Me, all of you
 who are weary and carry heavy burdens,
 and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

Guilty, weak, helpless, ignorant, naked and filthy

(John Kershaw, "Spiritual Blessings in Christ" 1848)

The Lord brings His people to know that in His solemn
presence they are altogether as an unclean thing, and
that all their doings and righteousness are as filthy rags.

We shall never find anything in ourselves but . . .
  sin and weakness,
  unworthiness and unprofitableness.

As all the fullness of grace and salvation is
treasured up in the Lord Jesus Christ; there
must be corresponding weakness, emptiness
and unprofitableness felt in us.

When the sinner is brought to feel his spiritual
destitution, wretchedness, guilt and misery; when
he finds that the world cannot afford him any help;
and that he cannot help himself; when all creature
refuge fails him; when all the streams of earthly
comfort dry up, and they are proved to be broken
cisterns that can hold no water; then it is that he
comes and falls prostrate before the Lord at His
blessed feet.

Those who come to Him . . .
  naked and
  without money and without price,
He will never cast out.

He knows your destitution, poverty and every
spiritual blessing you stand in need of; and the
supply is all treasured up in Himself, that you
may receive grace upon grace.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus
 Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms
 with every spiritual blessing in Christ." Ephes. 1:3


Your children

"But unless you repent, you too will
 all perish." Luke 13:3

(Mary Winslow)

Did you but see your children standing
on the edge of an awful precipice, and
know that none but God could prevent
their destruction, would you not cry
day and night to Him?  What can be
compared to the eternal death that
awaits them,
if they die unconverted?
Will you not pray, that your dear children
may escape from the wrath to come?
In proportion as you feel the infinite
value of their immortal souls, you shall
feel anxious for their salvation.

The world

(Henry Law, "Gleanings from the Book of Life")

The world
forges chains to bind its captives.

The world is confessedly the enemy of God-
"The friendship of the world is enmity with God."

The exhortation is clear, "Do not love the world
or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world,
the love of the Father is not in him." 1 John 2:15

The power of this tyrant is mainly in its
fascinating arts.

The world coaxes, it entices, it allures.

The world presents attractive baits.

The world shows its votaries decked in
enchanting guise.

The world presents goblets filled to the
brim with intoxicating draughts.

The world points to the merry laugh and
noisy revelries of its infatuated crowds.

The world uses ridicule and scorn to deter
those who venture to prefer another path.

Frightful are its triumphs!

How many have fallen slain at its feet!

How many throng the cells of hell, enticed
and ruined by its fascinations!

>From this enemy Jesus makes the believer free.
He sends His Holy Spirit, and then the enslaving
chain is broken

He tears the deceiving mask from the world's
features, and shows its native hideousness.

He exposes . . .
  its hollow insipidity,
  its utter emptiness,
  its thorough insufficiency to give real peace.

The believer sees that all its ways lead
to disappointment and to shame.

He mourns the folly of ever yielding to its poor fallacies.

Oh, how religious he once used to be!

(J. C. Philpot, "The Lost Sought and Saved" 1851)

"And I, the Son of Man, have come to seek
 and save those who are LOST." Luke 19:10

Oh, how religious he once used to be!

How comfortably he could walk to church with his
Bible under his arm, and look as devout and holy
as possible! How regularly also, he could read the
Scriptures, and pray in his manner, and think
himself pretty well, with one foot in heaven.

But a ray of heavenly light has beamed into his soul,
and shown him who and what God is; what sin and
a sinful heart is; and who and what he himself as a
sinner is. The keen dissecting knife of God has come
into his heart, laid it all bare, and let the gory matter
flow out. When his conscience is bleeding under the
scalpel, and is streaming all over with the gore and
filth thus let out, where is the clean heart once
boasted of?

Where is his religion now?

All buried beneath a load of filth!

Where is all his holiness gone?
His . . .
  holy looks,
  holy expressions,
  holy manners,
  holy gestures,
  holy garb;
where are they all gone?
All are flooded and buried. The sewer has broken
out, and the filthy stream has discharged itself
over his holy looks, holy manners, holy words and
holy gestures; and he is, as Job says, 'in the ditch.'

We never find the right religion, until we have lost
the wrong one. We never find Christ, until we have
lost SELF. We never find grace, until we have lost
our own pitiful self-holiness.

"And I, the Son of Man, have come to seek
 and save those who are LOST." Luke 19:10

It is a creature of many lives!

(J. C. Philpot, "The Lost Sought and Saved" 1851)

Man is a strange compound. A sinner, and
the worst of sinners, and yet a Pharisee!

A wretch, and the vilest of wretches, and
yet pluming himself on his good works!

Did not experience convince us to the contrary,
we would scarcely believe that a monster like man,
a creature, as someone has justly said, "half beast
and half devil,"
should dream of pleasing God by his
obedience, or of climbing up to heaven by a ladder
of his own righteousness.

Pharisaism is firmly fixed in the human heart.
Deep is the root,
broad the stem,
wide the branches,
but poisonous the fruit,
of this gigantic tree, planted by pride
and unbelief in the soil of human nature.

Self-righteousness is not peculiar to only certain
individuals. It is interwoven with our very being.
It is the only religion that human nature . . .
  relishes, or

Again and again must the heart be ploughed up,
and its corruptions laid bare, to keep down the
growth of this pharisaic spirit.

It is a creature of many lives!
It is not one blow,
nor ten, nor a hundred that can kill it. Stunned it
may be for a while, but it revives again and again!

Pharisaism can live and thrive under any profession.
Calvinism or Arminianism is the same to it. It is not
the garb he wears, nor the mask he carries, that
constitutes the man.

The believer's chief troubles

(J. C. Philpot, "The Golden Chain of Tribulation and Love")

As earth is but a valley of tears, the Christian has many
tribulations in common with the world. Family troubles
were the lot of Job, Abraham, Jacob and David. Sickness
befell Hezekiah, Trophimus and Epaphroditus. Reverses
and losses
fell upon Job. Poverty and famine drove
Naomi into the land of Moab.

Trouble, then, is in itself no sign of grace; for it
inevitably flows from, and is necessarily connected
with, man's fallen state.

But we should fix our eye on two things, as especially
marking the temporal afflictions of the Lord's family:
1. That they are all weighed out and timed by special
appointment. For though "man is born to trouble as the
sparks fly upwards," yet "affliction comes not forth of
the dust, neither does trouble spring out of the ground."
    Job 5:6
2. That they are specially sanctified, and made to
"work together for good" to those who love God.

But the believer's chief troubles are internal,
and arise from . . .
  the assaults of Satan,
  powerful temptations,
  the guilt of sin laid on the conscience,
  doubts and fears about a saving interest in Christ, and
  a daily, hourly conflict with a nature ever lusting to evil.

A religion that satisfies thousands.

(Philpot, "The Cry of Jonah out of the Belly of Hell")

"Having a form of godliness but denying its power."
     2 Tim. 3:5

Much that passes for religion,
is not true religion at all.

Much that goes for hopes of salvation,
is nothing but lying refuges.

Much is palmed off for the teaching of the Spirit,
which is nothing but delusion.

Vital godliness is very rare.

There are very few people spiritually taught of God.

There are very few ministers who really preach the truth.

Satan is thus daily deceiving thousands, and tens of thousands.

A living soul, however weak and feeble in himself,
cannot take up with a religion in the flesh.

He cannot rest on the opinions of men, nor be
deceived by Satan's delusions. He has a secret
gnawing of conscience, which makes him dissatisfied
with a religion that satisfies thousands.

Unseen, and unsuspected?

(Thomas Reade, "The Evil of Pride")

Pride is a principle deeply rooted in our fallen
nature, and which nothing but the Holy Spirit
can eradicate.

Pride, assuming every form, either worldly
or religious, can go with us into the sanctuary!
Like a subtle poison, it can insinuate itself
into our prayers and praises.

Unseen, and unsuspected, it mars our best
duties, and creates that 'self admiration'; that
desire for human applause; which corrupts the
heart, and steals it away from God.

"O blessed Jesus, what need have I to look unto
You for grace and strength. Save me from pride
and vainglory. Often do I feel and lament their
baneful influence. If I speak for You, O, how does
the poison work unseen by every eye but Yours!
As You alone can behold this hidden evil of the
heart, so in mercy destroy its influence. To You,
blessed Savior, do I look. You know what is in me.
Your eyes are on all my ways. Oh! wash me in the
cleansing fountain of Your precious blood. Purge
me from this foul stain of corrupted nature. Make
me truly humble and abased before You. Purify
my soul, then shall I become as a little child in
simplicity, teachableness, and humility. The work
is all Your own. To You be all the praise."

Then down they sink to the bottom!

(Philpot, "The Blessedness of Divine Chastening")

"Until the pit is dug for the wicked." Psalm 94:13

In Eastern countries, the ordinary mode of catching
wild beasts is to dig a pit, and fix sharp spears in the
bottom. And when the pit has been dug sufficiently
deep, it is covered over with branches of trees, earth,
and leaves, until all appearances of the pitfall are
entirely concealed. What is the object? That the wild
beast intent upon bloodshed—the tiger lying in wait
for the deer, the wolf roaming after the sheep, the
lion prowling for the antelope, not seeing the pitfall,
but rushing on and over it, may not see their doom
until they break through and fall upon the spears at
the bottom.

What a striking figure is this!

Here are the ungodly, all intent upon their purposes;
prowling after evil, as the wolf after the sheep, or the
tiger after the deer, thinking only of . . .
  some worldly profit,
  some covetous plan,
  some lustful scheme,
  something the carnal mind delights in;
but on they go, not seeing any danger until the moment
comes when, as Job says, "they go down to the bars of
the pit."

The Lord has been pleased to hide their doom from them.
The pit is all covered over with leaves of trees, grass, and
earth. The very appearance of the pit was hidden from the
wild beasts; they never knew it until they fell into it, and
were transfixed.

So it is with the wicked; both with religious professors
and the profane. There is no fear of God, no taking heed
to their steps, no cry to be directed, no prayer to be shown
the way; no pausing, no turning back. On they go, on they
go; heedlessly, thoughtlessly, recklessly; pursuing some
beloved object. On they go, on they go; until in a moment
they are plunged eternally and irrevocably into the pit!

There are many such both in the professing church as well
as in the ungodly world. The Lord sees what they are, and
where they are. He knows where the pit is. He knows their
steps. He sees them hurrying on, hurrying on, hurrying on.
All is prepared for them. The Lord gives them . . .
  no forewarning,
  no notice of their danger,
  no teachings,
  no chastenings,
  no remonstrances,
  no frowns,
  no stripes.
They are left to themselves to fill up the measure of
their iniquity, until they approach the pit that has been
dug for them, and then down they sink to the bottom!