Grace Gems for APRIL 2004

My beloved

(Octavius Winslow, "None Like Christ" 1866)

"How is your beloved better than others?"
    Song of Solomon 5:9

Does the world challenge– "How is your beloved
better than others?" Your answer is at hand–
"My beloved bore my sins, and opened in His heart
a fountain in which I am washed whiter than snow!
My beloved . . .
  sustains my burdens,
  counsels my perplexities,
  heals my wounds,
  dries my tears,
  supplies my needs,
  bears with my infirmities,
  upholds my steps, and
  cheers my pathway to the tomb.
My beloved
will be with me in the valley of
the shadow of death, and with His presence
I shall fear no evil.
My beloved has gone to prepare a place for me
in the many-mansioned house of my Father, and
will come again and receive me to Himself, that
where He is, I may be also.
My beloved will walk with me in the gold-paved
streets of the new Jerusalem. He will lead me to
fountains of living waters, and will wipe every
tear from my eyes! He is altogether lovely!
This is my beloved, and this is my Friend!"

And how is it that I am made to differ?

(John MacDuff, "The Prophet of Fire" 1877)

Let us adore the freeness of God's mercy,
and the sovereignty of His grace.

God's thoughts are not our thoughts, neither
are His ways our ways. Man has generally
some reason for conferring his favors; some
claim arising from person or pedigree, from
character or attainments.

But God's sole motive in conferring favors is
His own free and gracious purpose. "It is not
of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of
God who shows mercy."

He takes a Manasseh filling Jerusalem with blood,
and makes him a monument of forgiveness.

He takes a Saul breathing out his blasphemies,
and converts him into the great Apostle.

He takes . . .
  a crude heathen jailer, or
  an unprincipled tax gatherer of Jericho, or
  a profligate woman of Capernaum, or
  a felon in his dying agonies, while
many encircled with the halo of natural virtues
or with the prestige of religious education and
training, are left to perish in their ungodliness
and unbelief and pride!

And it is the same principle we recognize still
in His dealings. He often passes by . . .
  the great,
  the powerful,
  the rich,
  the sophisticated,
  the educated;
yes, even the virtuous and the amiable;
and He crowds the marriage supper of the King
  from the highways and hedges;
  with the poor and the illiterate;
  the outcast and prodigal.

He often leaves palace and castle and stately
mansion and lettered hall; and enters the
humble cottage and the poor man's hovel.

He takes the children's bread and casts it
to Gentile dogs!

Many old companions; those at one time better
and more promising than I; have been long ago
scattered as wrecks on life's ocean, entangled
in the swirling vortex, and hurried down into
nameless depths of infamy.

And how is it that I am made to differ?

How is it that that tale of misery and ruin; that
which, in the case of others, has broken a parent's
heart, and sent him sobbing and halting to the grave;
how is it that I have escaped these dread temptations;
and that, while others have broken loose with a worse
than maniac's madness, I am this day sitting at the
feet of Jesus, clothed and in my right mind?

Not unto me, O God! not unto me!
But unto Your name be all the glory!

I read the reason, written in gleaming letters,
in the heights and depths of Your own Infinite
love. By Your grace, Your free, sovereign,
unmerited grace alone, I am what I am!

How can he travel through this waste
howling wilderness?

(J. C. Philpot, "Reconciliation and Salvation" 1858.)

If you are alive to what you are as a poor, fallen
sinner—you will see yourself surrounded by . . .
  sins, and

You will feel yourself utterly defenseless, as weak
as water, without any strength to stand against them.
You will see a mountain of difficulties before your eyes.

If you know anything inwardly and experimentally
of yourself of . . .
  the evils of your heart,
  the power of sin,
  the strength of temptation,
  the subtlety of your unwearied foe,
  and the daily conflict between nature and grace,
the flesh and the Spirit, which are the peculiar marks
of the true child of God—you will find and feel your
need of salvation as a daily reality.

How shall you escape the snares and temptations
spread in your path? How shall you get the better
of all your enemies . . .
and reach heaven's gates safe at last?

There is present salvation, an . . .
salvation communicated out of the
fullness of Christ as a risen Mediator.

Don't you need to be daily and almost hourly
saved? But from what? Why, from everything in
you that fights against the will and word of God.

Sin is not dead in you.

If you have a saving interest in the precious blood
of Christ—if your name is written in the Lamb's book
of life, and heaven is your eternal home—that does
not deliver you from the indwelling of sin, nor from
the power of sin—except as grace gives you present
deliverance from it.

Sin still works in your carnal mind, and will
work in it until your dying hour. What then
you need to be saved from is the . . .
   love, and
of that sin which ever dwells and ever works
in you, and often brings your soul into hard
and cruel bondage.

Now Christ lives at the right hand of God for His dear
people, that He may be ever saving them by His life.
There He reigns and rules as their glorious covenant
Head, ever watching over, feeling for and sympathizing
with them, and communicating supplies of grace for the
deliverance and consolation for all His suffering saints
spread over the face of the earth. The glorious Head is
in heaven, but the suffering members upon earth; and
as He lives on their behalf, He maintains by His Spirit
and grace, His life in their soul.

Each Christian has to walk through a great and terrible
wilderness, wherein are fiery serpents, and scorpions,
and drought (Deut. 8:15); where he is surrounded with
temptations and snares—his own evil heart being his
worst foe.

How can he travel through this waste howling
unless he has a Friend at the right hand
of God to send him continual supplies of grace—who
can hear his prayers, answer his petitions, listen to
his sighs, and put his tears into his bottle—who can
help him to see the snares, and give him grace to
avoid them—who observes from his heavenly watch
tower the rising of evil in his heart, and can put a
timely and seasonable check upon it before it bursts
into word or action?

He needs an all-wise and ever-living Friend who can . . .
save him from pride by giving him true humility;
save him from hardness of heart by bestowing repentance;
save him from carelessness by making his conscience tender;
save him from all his fears by whispering into his soul, "Fear
not, I have redeemed you."

The Christian has to be continually looking
to the Lord Jesus Christ . . .
  to revive his soul when drooping,
  to manifest His love to his heart when cold and unfeeling,
  to sprinkle his conscience with His blood when guilty and sinking,
  to lead him into truth,
  to keep him from error and evil,
  to preserve him through and amid every storm,
  to guide every step that he takes in his onward journey,
  and eventually bring him safe to heaven.

We need continual supplies of His grace, mercy, and
love received into our hearts, so as to save us . . .
  from the love and spirit of the world,
  from error,
  from the power and strength of our own lusts,
  and the base inclinations of our fallen nature.

These will often work at a fearful rate; but this will
only make you feel more your need of the power and
presence of the Lord Jesus to save you from them all.

You are a poor, defenseless sheep, surrounded
by wolves, and, as such, need all the care and
defense of the good Shepherd.

You are a ship in a stormy sea, where winds and
waves are all contrary, and therefore need an all
wise and able pilot to take you safe into harbor.

There a single thing on earth or in hell which can
harm you—if you are only looking to the Lord Jesus
Christ, and deriving supplies of grace and strength
from Him.

What trifles, what toys, what empty vanities

(J. C. Philpot, "The Things Which God has
 Prepared for Those Who Love Him" 1858)

What trifles, what toys, what empty
do the great bulk of men pursue!

Christian recreation

(Theodore Cuyler, "Christian Recreation
and Unchristian Amusement" 1858)

All work makes a man a sorry slave.

All play makes him a sorrier fool.

The wise person avoids both extremes.

Whatever makes . . .
  your body healthier,
  your mind happier, and
  your immortal soul purer,
is Christian recreation.

Many confound innocent recreation with sinful
pleasures. One is right and the other is ruinous.
Everything that . . .
  rests my body or mind,
  improves my health
  and elevates my soul,
is commendable.

Everything that stimulates my lustful propensities,
until I become a walking maniac—everything that
debauches my body, weakens my conscience, excites
impure thoughts, and makes my soul a horrendous
house of imagery—everything that makes me forget
God and eternity—is dangerous, and in the last damnable.

If God left us for a single hour

(J. C. Philpot, "Prevailing Pleas" 1865)

"Don't leave us!" Jeremiah 14:9

How much is summed up in those three words!

What would it be for God to leave us?

What and where would we be,

if God left us for a single hour?

What would become of us?

We would fall at once into the hands . . .
  of sin,
  of Satan, and
  of the world.

We would be abandoned to our own evil
hearts—abandoned, utterly abandoned to
the unbelief, the infidelity, to all the filth
and sensuality of our wicked nature—to fill
up the measure of our iniquities, until we
sank under His wrath to rise no more!

"Don't leave us!" Jeremiah 14:9

An idol is an idol

(J. C. Philpot, "Prevailing Pleas" 1865)

"Son of man, these leaders have set up idols
 in their hearts!
They have embraced things
 that lead them into sin." Ezekiel 14:3

An idol is an idol, whether worshiped inwardly
in heart, or adorned outwardly by the knee.

Therefore, give the people of Israel this message
from the Sovereign Lord: "Repent and turn away from
your idols, and stop all your loathsome practices. I,
the Lord, will punish all those, both Israelites and
foreigners, who reject Me and set up idols in their
, so that they fall into sin." Ezekiel 14:6-7

A worldly spirit will ever peep out

(J. C. Philpot, "Trying the Spirits" 1865)

"He gave Himself for our sins to rescue us
 from the present evil age." Galatians 1:4

The first effect of sovereign grace in its divine
operation upon the heart of a child of God, is to
separate him from the world by infusing into him
a new spirit. There is little evidence that grace
ever touched our hearts if it did not separate us
from this ungodly world.

Where there is not this divine work upon a sinner's
conscience—where there is no communication of this
new heart and this new spirit, no infusion of this holy
life, no animating, quickening influence of the Spirit
of God upon the soul—whatever a man's outward
profession may be, he will ever be of a worldly spirit.

A set of doctrines, however sound, merely received
into the natural understanding—cannot divorce a man
from that innate love of the world which is so deeply
rooted in his very being. No mighty power has come
upon his soul to revolutionize his every thought, cast
his soul as if into a new mold—and by stamping upon
it the mind and likeness of Christ to change him
altogether. This worldly spirit may be . . .
  checked by circumstances,
  controlled by natural conscience, or
  influenced by the example of others;
but a worldly spirit will ever peep out from the
thickest disguise, and manifest itself, as occasion
draws it forth, in every unregenerate man.

One drop of that potion

(DeWitt Talmage, "The Ministry of Tears")

I am a herb doctor. I put in the caldron the Root
out of dry ground without form or loveliness. Then
I put in the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley.
Then I put into the caldron some of the leaves from
the Tree of Life, and the branch that was thrown into
the wilderness Marah. Then I pour in the tears of
Bethany and Golgotha—then I stir them up. Then I
kindle under the caldron a fire made out of the wood
of the Cross. One drop of that potion will cure the
worst sickness that ever afflicted a human soul.


Chasing of the shadow

(John MacDuff, "The Shepherd and His Flock")

"My soul finds rest in God alone." Psalm 62:1

The life of man is a constant striving after . . .
  repose, and

Many, indeed, are seeking it in base counterfeits;
yet even in the counterfeit search we detect the
aspiration after a nobler reality. In the very
chasing of the shadow we discern the longing
after the substance.

The miser seeks it in his gold.

The ambitious man seeks it as he climbs his giddy eminences.

The pleasure hunter seeks it in artificial excitements.

The student seeks it in the loftier aspirations
and achievements of his intellectual nature.

But true rest can be found in God alone.

"My soul finds rest in God alone." Psalm 62:1


What a lesson is here for ministers!

(J. C. Philpot, "The Wisdom of Men and the Power
of God" Please forward this 'gem' to your pastors!)

"And my speech and my preaching were not
 with enticing words of man's wisdom
, but
 in demonstration of the Spirit and of power"
   1 Cor. 2:4

The word "enticing" is as we now say, "persuasive."
It includes, therefore, every branch of skillful oratory,
whether it be logical reasoning to convince our
understanding—or appeals to our feelings to stir up
our passions—or new and striking ideas to delight
our intellect—or beautiful and eloquent language to
please and captivate our imagination.

All these "enticing words" of man's wisdom—the very
things which our popular preachers most speak and aim
—this great apostle renounced, discarded, and rejected!

He might have used them all if he liked. He possessed
an almost unequalled share of natural ability and great
learning—a singularly keen, penetrating intellect—a
wonderful command of the Greek language—a flow of
ideas most varied, striking, and original—and powers of
oratory and eloquence such as have been given to few.
He might therefore have used enticing words of man's
wisdom, had he wished or thought it right to do so—but
he would not. He saw what deceptiveness was in them,
and at best they were mere arts of oratory. He saw that
these enticing words—though they might . . .
  touch the natural feelings,
  work upon the passions,
  captivate the imagination,
  convince the understanding,
  persuade the judgment, and to a certain extent force
their way into men's minds—yet when all was done that
could thus be done, it was merely man's wisdom which
had done it.

Earthly wisdom cannot communicate heavenly faith.
Paul would not therefore use enticing words of man's
wisdom, whether it were force of logical argument, or
appeal to natural passions, or the charms of vivid
eloquence, or the beauty of poetical composition, or
the subtle nicety of well arranged sentences. He would
not use any of these enticing words of man's wisdom
to draw people into a profession of religion—when their
heart was not really touched by God's grace, or their
consciences wrought upon by a divine power.

He came to win souls for Jesus Christ, not converts
to his own powers of oratorical persuasion—to turn
men from darkness to light, and from the power of
Satan unto God—not to charm their ears by poetry
and eloquence—but to bring them out of the vilest
of sins that they might be washed, sanctified, and
justified by the Spirit of God—and not entertain
or amuse
their minds while sin and Satan still
maintained dominion in their hearts!

All the labor spent in bringing together a church
and congregation of professing people by the power
of logical argument and appeals to their natural
consciences would be utterly lost, as regards fruit
for eternity—for a profession so induced by him and
so made by them would leave them just as they were . . .
  in all the depths of unregeneracy,
  with their sins unpardoned,
  their persons unjustified,
  and their souls unsanctified.

He therefore discarded all these ways of winning
over converts—as deceitful to the souls of men,
and as dishonoring to God.

It required much grace to do this—to throw aside
what he might have used, and renounce what most
men, as gifted as he, would have gladly used.

What a lesson is here for ministers!

How anxious are some men to shine as great
preachers! How they covet and often aim at
some grand display of what they call eloquence
to charm their hearers—and win praise and honor
to self!

How others try to argue men into religion, or by
appealing to their natural feelings, sometimes to
frighten them with pictures of hell, and sometimes
to allure them by descriptions of heaven.

But all such arts, for they are no better, must be
discarded by a true servant of God. Only the Spirit
can reveal Christ, taking of the things of Christ, and
showing them unto us, applying the word with power
to our hearts, and bringing the sweetness, reality,
and blessedness of divine things into our soul.

"And my speech and my preaching were not
 with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in
 demonstration of the Spirit and of power

Unless we have a measure of the same demonstration
of the Spirit, all that is said by us in the pulpit drops to
the ground—it has no real effect—there is no true or
abiding fruit—no fruit unto eternal life. If there be in it
some enticing words of man's wisdom, it may please
the mind of those who are gratified by such arts—it may
stimulate and occupy the attention for the time—but
there it ceases, and all that has been heard fades away
like a dream of the night.


A peculiar, indescribable, invincible power

(Philpot, "The Word of Men and the Word of God")

"Our gospel did not come to you in word only,
 but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and
 with deep conviction." 1 Thes. 1:5

The gospel comes to some in word only. They
hear the word of the gospel, the sound of truth;
but it reaches the outward ear only—or if it touches
the inward feelings, it is merely as the word of men.

But where the Holy Spirit begins and carries on
His divine and saving work, He attends the word
with a peculiar, an indescribable, and yet an
invincible power.

It falls as from God upon the heart. He is heard to
speak in it—and in it His glorious Majesty appears
to open the eyes, unstop the ears, and convey a
message from His own mouth to the soul.

Some hear the gospel as the mere word of men,
perhaps for years before God speaks in it with a
divine power to their conscience. They thought
they understood the gospel—they thought they
felt it—they thought they loved it. But all this
time they did not see any vital distinction between
receiving it as the mere word of men, and as the
word of God.

The levity, the superficiality, the emptiness stamped
upon all who merely receive the gospel as the word
of men—is sufficient evidence that it never sank
deep into the heart, and never took any powerful
grasp upon their soul.

It therefore never brought with it any real separation
from the world—never gave strength to mortify the least
sin—never communicated power to escape the least snare
of Satan—was never attended with a spirit of grace and
prayer—never brought honesty, sincerity, and uprightness
into the heart before God—never bestowed any spirituality
of mind, or any loving affection toward the Lord of life and
glory. It was merely the reception of truth in the same way
as we receive scientific principles, or learn a language, a
business, or a trade. It was all . . .

But in some unexpected moment, when little looking
for it, the word of God was brought into their conscience
with a power never experienced before. A light shone in
and through it which they never saw before . . .
  a majesty,
  a glory,
  an authority,
  an evidence
accompanied it which they never knew before. And
under this light, life, and power they fell down, with
the word of God sent home to their heart.

When then Christ speaks the gospel to the heart—
when He reveals Himself to the soul—when His word,
dropping as the rain and distilling as the dew, is
received in faith and love—He is embraced as the
chief among ten thousand and the altogether lovely
one—He takes His seat upon the affections and
becomes enthroned in the heart as its Lord and God.

Is there life in your bosom?

Has God's power attended the work?

Is the grace of God really in your heart?

Has God spoken to your soul?

Have you heard His voice, felt its power,
and fallen under its influence?

"And we also thank God continually because,
 when you received the word of God, which you
 heard from us, you accepted it not as the word
 of men
, but as it actually is, the word of God,
 which is effectually at work in you who believe."
    1 Thes. 2:13


The A and the Z

(by DeWitt Talmage)

Christ is the A and the Z of the Christian ministry.

A sermon that has no Christ is a dead failure. The
minister who devotes his pulpit to anything but Christ
is an impostor. Whatever great themes we may discuss,
Christ must be the beginning and Christ the end.

A sermon given up to sentimental and flowery
speech is as a straw flung to a drowning sailor.

What the world needs is to be told in the most
direct way of Jesus Christ, who comes to save
men from eternal damnation.

Christ the Light,
Christ the Sacrifice,
Christ the Rock,
Christ the Star,
Christ the Balm,
Christ the Guide.
If a minister should live one thousand years,
and preach ten sermons each day, these
subjects would not be exhausted.

Do you find men tempted?
Tell them of Christ the Shield.

Or troubled? Tell them of Christ the Comfort.

Or guilty? Tell them of Christ the Pardon.

Or dying? Tell them of Christ the Life.

Scores of ministers, yielding to the demands
of the age for elegant rhetoric, and soft speech,
and flattering terms, have surrendered their
pulpits to the devil.

May Christ be the subject of our talk;
Christ the inspiration of our prayers;
Christ the theme of our songs;
Christ now, and Christ forever!

Philosophy is nothing;
denominations nothing;
conferences nothing;
assemblies nothing;
ourselves nothing,


That love will eternally embrace you!

(by Richard Baxter)

Is it a small thing in your eyes
to be loved by God—to be . . .
  the child,
  the spouse,
  the love,
  the delight
of the King of glory?

Christian, believe this, and think about it—you
will be eternally embraced in the arms of the
love which was from everlasting, and will extend
to everlasting—of the love which brought the
Son of God's love . . .
  from heaven to earth;
  from earth to the cross;
  from the cross to the grave;
  from the grave to glory;
that love which was . . .
  spit upon,
that love which . . .

That love will eternally embrace you!


A prayer from hell

(Mortimer, "Devotional Commentary on the Gospels")

In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and
saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.
The rich man cried, "Father Abraham, have some pity!
Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in
water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony
in these flames!
"  Luke 16:23-24

If prayers were heard in hell, how many would be
offered up! But the 'abode of despair' is not the place
for prayer. All the rich man's requests were refused.
His was a very small petition. It was not a petition for
'release'. Lost spirits know that release is impossible.
The gates have closed upon them forever.

But the rich man hoped that the slightest possible
relief might be granted. He did not ask that Lazarus
might bring him a large glass, nor even a drop of
water—he did not ask that he might dip his own hand
or his finger in water—but he asked that Lazarus might
dip the tip of his finger in water, and apply it to his
burning tongue. Yet the request was refused!

Abraham reminded the tormented spirit that on earth
he had received good things—and Lazarus bad things.
Lazarus must not feel even for a moment the scorching
flames of hell—nor must the rich man taste one drop of
the cooling streams of heaven.

There is a great gulf fixed. The inhabitants of each
eternal world know that there can be no change of
state. Hell knows that no celestial comforter will
ever enter her gates—and Heaven that no malicious
enemy will ever break through hers.

This fills heaven with delight, and hell with despair!

In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and
saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.
The rich man cried, "Father Abraham, have some pity!
Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in
water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony
in these flames!"  Luke 16:23-24


Your life preaches all the week

(Robert Murray M'Cheyne, 1813—1843)

Study universal holiness of life. Your whole
usefulness depends on this, for your sermons
last but an hour or two—your life preaches all
the week
. If Satan can only make a covetous
minister a lover of praise, of pleasure, of good
eating—he has ruined his ministry.

Give yourself to prayer, and get your texts, your
thoughts, your words from God. In great measure,
according to the purity and perfections of the
instrument, will be success.

It is not great talents God blesses, so much
as great likeness to Jesus.
A holy minister is
an awesome weapon in the hand of God.


The deep things of God  

(J. C. Philpot, "The Things Which God has
Prepared for Those Who Love Him" 1858)

"But God has revealed it to us by His Spirit.
 The Spirit searches all things, even the deep
 things of God
." 1 Cor. 2:10

The Spirit of God in a man's bosom searches
the deep things of God, so as to lead him into
a spiritual and experimental knowledge of them.

What depths do we sometimes see in a single
text of Scripture as opened to the understanding,
or applied to the heart?

What a depth in the blood of Christ—how it
"cleanses from all sin,"—even millions of millions
of the foulest sins of the foulest sinners!

What a depth in His bleeding, dying love,
that could stoop so low to lift us so high!

What a depth in His pity and compassion to extend
itself to such guilty, vile transgressors as we are!

What depth in His rich, free, and sovereign grace,
that it should super-abound over all our aggravated
iniquities, enormities, and vile abominations!

What depth
in His sufferings—that He should have
voluntarily put Himself under such a load of guilt,
such outbreakings of the wrath of God—as He felt
in His holy soul when He stood in our place to
redeem poor sinners from the bottomless pit—that
those who deserved hell, should be lifted up into
the enjoyment of heaven!


A new creature

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

In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth,
no one can see the kingdom of God unless
he is born again." John 3:3

The change which our Lord here declares
needful to salvation is evidently no slight
or superficial one. It is not merely . . .
  or amendment,
  or moral change,
  or outward alteration of life.

It is a thorough change of . . .
  will, and

It is a resurrection.

It is a new creation.

It is a passing from death to life.

It is the implanting in our dead hearts
of a new principle from above.

It is the calling into existence
of a new creature, with . . .
  a new nature,
  new habits of life,
  new tastes,
  new desires,
  new appetites,
  new judgments,
  new opinions,
  new hopes, and
  new fears.

All this, and nothing less than this is
implied, when our Lord declares that
we all need a "new birth."

Let us solemnly ask ourselves whether
we know anything of this mighty change.

Have we been born again?

Can any marks of the new birth be seen in us?

Is the image and superscription of the
Spirit to be discerned in our lives?

Happy is the man who can give satisfactory
answers to these questions! A day will come
when those who are not born again will wish
that they had never been born at all.

The most gorgeous cathedral service

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

"God is spirit, and His worshipers must
 worship in spirit and in truth." John 4:24

Note the utter uselessness of any religion
which only consists of formality. The Samaritan
woman, when awakened to spiritual concern,
started questions about the comparative
merits of the Samaritan and Jewish modes
of worshiping God.

Our Lord tells her that true and acceptable worship
depends not on the place in which it is offered, but
on the state of the worshiper's heart.

The principle contained in these sentences can
never be too strongly impressed on professing
Christians. We are all naturally inclined to make
religion a mere matter of outward forms and
, and to attach an excessive importance
to our own particular manner of worshiping God.

We must beware of this spirit, and especially when
we first begin to think seriously about our souls.

The heart is the principal thing in all our approaches
to God. "The Lord looks on the heart." (1 Sam. 16:7)

The most gorgeous 'cathedral service' is offensive
in God's sight
, if all is gone through coldly, heartlessly,
and without grace.

The feeblest gathering of three or four poor believers
in a lowly cottage to read the Bible and pray, is a more
acceptable sight to Him who searches the heart, than
the fullest congregation which is ever gathered in St.
Peter's at Rome.

The religionists of the day

(J. C. Philpot, "Faith's Standing-Ground" 1862)

"And everyone will hate you because of your
 allegiance to Me." Luke 21:17

Professors of religion have always been the
deadliest enemies of the children of God.

Who were so opposed to the blessed Lord as the
Scribes and Pharisees? It was the religious teachers
and leaders who crucified the Lord of glory!

And so in every age the religionists of the day
have been the hottest and bitterest persecutors
of the Church of Christ.

Nor is the case altered now. The more the children
of God are firm in the truth, the more they enjoy its
power, the more they live under its influence, and
the more tenderly and conscientiously they walk in
godly fear, the more will the professing generation
of the day hate them with a deadly hatred.

Let us not think that we can disarm it by a godly life;
for the more that we walk in the sweet enjoyment of
heavenly truth and let our light shine before men as
having been with Jesus, the more will this draw down
their hatred and contempt.

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


My leanness, my leanness, woe unto me!

(Philpot, "Confiding Trust and Patient Submission")

"My leanness, my leanness, woe unto me!"
    Isaiah 24:16

There is no more continual source of lamentation
and mourning to a child of God than a sense of his
own barrenness. He would be fruitful in every good
word and work. But when he contrasts . . .
  his own miserable unprofitableness,
  his coldness and deadness,
  his proneness to evil,
  his backwardness to good,
  his daily wanderings and departings from God,
  his depraved affections,
  his stupid frames,
  his sensual desires,
  his carnal projects, and
  his earthy grovelings,
with what he sees and knows should be the fruit
that should grow upon a fruitful branch in the only
true Vine, he sinks down under a sense of his own
wretched barrenness and unfruitfulness.

Yet what was the effect produced by all this upon
his own soul? To wean him from the creature; to
divert him from looking to any for help or hope, but
the Lord Himself. It is in this painful way that the
Lord often, if not usually, cuts us off from all human
props, even the nearest and dearest, that we may
lean wholly and solely on Himself.


The sunniest and sweetest home on earth

(Octavius Winslow)

One unhappy temper,
one unbending will,
one unloving unsympathetic heart,
may becloud and embitter the sunniest
and sweetest home on earth


What kind of bodies will they have?

(Octavius Winslow, "Morning Thoughts")

"How will the dead be raised? What kind of
 bodies will they have?
" 1 Cor. 15:35

The identical body that was sown, yet . . .
  so changed,
  so spiritualized,
  so glorified,
  so immortalized,
as to rival in beauty the highest form of spirit,
while it shall resemble, in its fashion, the
glorious body of Christ Himself!

We can form but a faint conception, even from the
glowing representations of the apostle, of the glory
of the raised body of the just. But this we know, it
will be in every respect a structure worthy of the
perfected soul which will inhabit it.

Presently, 'the body' is the antagonist, and not the
assistant of 'the soul'—its clog, its prison, its foe.
The moment that Jesus condescends to "grace this
lowly abode" with His indwelling presence, there
commences that fierce and harassing conflict between
holiness and sin, which so often wrings the bitter cry
from the believer, "Oh wretched man that I am! Who
shall deliver me from the body of this death?"

Oh, what a encumbrance is this body of sin!
Its corruptions,
its infirmities,
its weaknesses,
its ailments,
its diseases,
all conspire to render it the tyrant of the
, if grace does not subdue it, and bring
it into subjection as its slave.

How often, when the mind would pursue its favorite
study, the wearied and over-tasked body enfeebles it!
How often, when the spirit would expatiate and soar
in its contemplations of, and in its communings with
God—the inferior nature detains it by its weight, or
occupies it with its needs! How often, when the soul
thirsts for divine knowledge, and the heart pants for
holiness—its highest aspirations and its strongest
efforts are discouraged and thwarted by the clinging
infirmities of a corrupt and suffering body!

Not so will it be in the morning of the resurrection!
Then shall "the perishable must clothe itself with
the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality!"

Mysterious and glorious change!

"In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the
last trumpet," the dead in Christ shall awake from
their long sleep, and spring from their tombs into
a blissful immortality!

Oh, how altered!

Oh, how transformed!

Oh, how changed!

"Sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body."

"A spiritual body!" Who can imagine, who describe it?
What anatomy can explain its mysteries? What brush
can paint its beauties!

"A spiritual body!" All the remains, all the vestiges
of corrupt matter—passed away!

"A spiritual body!" So regenerated, so sanctified, so
invested with the high and glorious attributes of spirit,
that now sympathizing and blending with the soul in its
high employment of obeying the will and chanting the
praises of God—it shall rise with it in its lofty soarings,
and accompany and aid it in its deep researches in the
hidden and sublime mysteries of eternity!


Those poor stupid people!

(J. C. Philpot, "The Sons of God—
Their Blessings and Their Privileges")

"The world knows us not." 1 John 3:1

Both the openly profane world, and the
professing world, are grossly ignorant
of the children of God. Their . . .
  real character and condition,
  state and standing,
  joys and sorrows,
  mercies and miseries,
  trials and deliverances,
  hopes and fears,
  afflictions and consolations,
are entirely hidden from their eyes.

The world knows nothing of the motives and
feelings which guide and actuate the children
of God. It views them as a set of gloomy,
morose, melancholy beings
, whose tempers
are soured by false and exaggerated views of
religion—who have pored over the thoughts of
hell and heaven until some have frightened
themselves into despair, and others have puffed
up their vain minds with an imaginary conceit of
their being especial favorites of the Almighty.
"They are really," it says, "no better than other
folks, if so good. But they have such contracted
minds—are so obstinate and bigoted with their
poor, narrow, prejudiced views—that wherever
they come they bring disturbance and confusion."

But why this harsh judgment?

Because the world knows nothing of the spiritual
feelings which actuate the child of grace, making
him act so differently from the world which thus
condemns him.

It cannot understand our sight and sense of the
exceeding sinfulness of sin—and that is the reason
why we will not run riot with them in the same
course of ungodliness.

It does not know with what a solemn weight eternal
things rest upon our minds—and that that is the cause
why we cannot join with them in pursuing so eagerly
the things of the world, and living for time as they
do—instead of living for eternity.

Being unable to enter into the spiritual motives and
gracious feelings which actuate a living soul, and the
movements of divine life continually stirring in a
Christian breast, they naturally judge us from their
own point of view, and condemn what they cannot

You may place a horse and a man upon the same
hill—while the man would be looking at the woods
and fields and streams—the horse would be feeding
upon the grass at his feet. The horse, if it could
reason, would say, "What a fool my master is! How
he is staring and gaping about! Why does he not sit
down and open his basket of provisions—for I know
he has it with him, for I carried it—and feed as I do?"

So the worldling says, "Those poor stupid people,
how they are spending their time in going to chapel,
and reading the Bible in their gloomy, melancholy way.
Religion is all very well—and we ought all to be religious
before we die—but they make so much of it. Why don't
they enjoy more of life? Why don't they amuse themselves
more with its innocent, harmless pleasures—be more gay,
cheerful, and sociable, and take more interest in those
things which so interest us?"

The reason why the world thus wonders at us is
because it knows us not, and therefore cannot
understand that we have . . .

  sublimer feelings,
  nobler pleasures, and
  more substantial delights,
than ever entered the soul of a worldling!

Christian! the more you are conformed to the image
of Christ—the more separated you are from the world,
the less will it understand you. If we kept closer to the
Lord and walked more in holy obedience to the precepts
of the gospel, we would be more misunderstood than
even we now are! It is our worldly conformity that
makes the world understand many of our movements
and actions so well.

But if our movements were more according to the mind of
Christ—if we walked more as the Lord walked when here
below—we would leave the world in greater ignorance of
us than we leave it now—for the hidden springs of our life
would be more out of its sight, our testimony against it
more decided, and our separation from it more complete.


Who can be against us?

(Octavius Winslow, "Morning Thoughts")

"If God is for us, who can be against us?"
    Romans 8:31.

With such a Father, such a Friend, and such a
, who can wage a successful hostility
against the children of God?

God Himself cannot be against us, even when the
clouds of His providence appear the most lowering,
and His strokes are felt to be the most severe.
"Though He slays me, yet will I trust in Him."

The law cannot be against us; for the Law-fulfiller has,
by His obedience, magnified and made it honorable.

Divine justice cannot be against us; for Jesus has,
in our stead, met its demands, and His resurrection
is a full discharge of all its claims.

Nor sin,
nor Satan,
nor the ungodly,
nor suffering,
nor death,
can be really or successfully against us, since . . .
  the condemnation of sin is removed,
  and Satan is vanquished,
  and the ungodly are restrained,
  and suffering works for good,
  and the sting of death is taken away.

"If God is for us, who can be against us?"

With such a Being on our side, whom shall we fear?

Has He ever been a wilderness to you, a land of
darkness? Has He, in any instance, been unkind,
unfriendly, unfaithful? Never!

All His love,
all His grace,
all His perfections,
all His heaven of glory is for you!

Trembling Christian! God is on your side!

"If God is for us, who can be against us?"


We were not always a set of poor mopes

(Philpot, "Spiritual Convictions & Heavenly Affections")

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set
 your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated
 at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things
 above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your
 life is now hidden with Christ in God." Col. 3:1-3

Men's pursuits and pleasures differ as widely as
their station or disposition—but a life of selfish
gratification reigns and rules in all.

Now it is by this death that we die unto . . .
  the things of time and sense;
  to all that charms the natural mind of man;
  to the pleasures and pursuits of life;
  to that busy, restless world which once held
us so fast and firm in its embrace—and whirled
us round and round within its giddy dance.

Let us look back. We were not always a set of poor
—as the world calls us. We were once as merry
and as gay as the merriest and gayest of them.

But what were we really and truly with all our mirth?

Dead to God—alive to sin. Dead to everything holy and
divine—alive to everything vain and foolish, light and
trifling, carnal and sensual—if not exactly vile and

Our natural life was with all of us a life of gratifying our
senses—with some of us, perhaps, chiefly of pleasure and
worldly happiness—with others a life of covetousness, or
ambition, or self-righteousness.

Sin once put forth its intense power and allured
us—and we followed like the fool to the stocks.

Sin charmed—and we listened to its seductive wiles.

Sin held out its bait—and we too greedily,
too heedlessly swallowed the hook.

"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus
 Christ, through which the world has been crucified to
 me, and I to the world
." Galatians 6:14


To walk after the flesh

(J. C. Philpot, "No Condemnation" 1862)

"There is therefore now no condemnation to
 those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not
 after the flesh
, but after the Spirit." Rom. 8:1

To walk after the flesh carries with it the idea of
the flesh going before us—as our leader, guide, and
example—and our following close in its footsteps,
so that wherever it drags or draws we move after
it, as the needle after the magnet.

To walk after the flesh, then, is to move
step by step in implicit obedience to . . .
  the commands of the flesh,
  the lusts of the flesh,
  the inclinations of the flesh,
  and the desires of the flesh,
whatever shape they assume,
whatever garb they wear,
whatever name they may bear.

To walk after the flesh is to be ever pursuing,
desiring, and doing the things that please the
flesh, whatever aspect that flesh may wear or
whatever dress it may assume—whether molded
and fashioned after the grosser and more flagrant
ways of the profane world—or the more refined
and deceptive religion of the professing church.

But are the grosser and more manifest sinners the
only people who may be said to walk after the flesh?
Does not all human religion, in all its varied forms and
shapes, come under the sweep of this all-devouring
sword? Yes! Every one who is entangled in and led by
a fleshly religion, walks as much after the flesh as
those who are abandoned to its grosser indulgences.

Sad it is, yet not more sad than true, that false
religion has slain its thousands
, if open sin has
slain its ten thousands.

To walk after the flesh, whether it be in the
grosser or more refined sense of the term, is
the same in the sight of God.


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.


The very thought is appalling!

(J. C. Philpot, "Alienation and Reconciliation")

"Once you were alienated from God and were
 His enemies, separated from Him by your
 evil thoughts and actions." Colossians 1:21

All man's sins, comparatively speaking, are but
'motes in the sunbeam' compared with this giant
of enmity against God. A man may be given
up to fleshly indulgences; he may sin against his
fellow creature—may rob, plunder, oppress, even
kill his fellow man. But viewed in a spiritual light,
what are they compared with the dreadful, the
damnable sin of enmity against the great and
glorious Majesty of heaven?

This is a sin that lives beyond the grave!

Many sins, though not their consequences, die
with man's body, because they are bodily sins.

But this is a sin that goes into eternity with him,
and flares up like a mighty volcano from the very
depths of the bottomless pit! Yes, it is the very
sin of devils
, which therefore binds guilty man
down with them in the same eternal chains, and
consigns him to the same place of torment!

O the unutterable enmity of the heart against
the living God! The very thought is appalling!

How utterly ruined, then, how wholly lost must
that man's state and case be, who lives and
dies as he comes into the world . . .

I will not dwell longer upon this gloomy subject,
on this sad exhibition of human wickedness and
misery, though it is needful we should know it for
ourselves, that we should have a taste of this bitter
cup in our own most painful experience, that we may
know the sweetness of the cup of salvation when
presented to our lips by free and sovereign grace.

Nothing but the mighty power of God Himself
can ever turn this enemy into a friend!

"Once you were alienated from God and were
 His enemies, separated from Him by your
 evil thoughts and actions, yet now He has
 brought you back as His friends. He has done
 this through His death on the cross in His own
 human body. As a result, He has brought you
 into the very presence of God, and you are holy
 and blameless as you stand before Him without
 a single fault." Colossians 1:21-22



(C. H. Spurgeon, "The Fair Portrait of a Saint" 1880)

"My feet have closely followed His steps; I have
 kept to His way without turning aside." Job 23:11

A very beautiful motto is hung up in our infant
classroom at the Stockwell Orphanage, "What
would Jesus do?
" Not only may children take it
as their guide, but all of us may do the same,
whatever our age.

"What would Jesus do?"

If you desire to know what you ought to do under
any circumstances, imagine Jesus to be in that
position and then think, "What would Jesus do?
for what Jesus would do, that ought I to do."

That unties the knot of all moral difficulty in the
most practical way, and does it so simply that no
great wit or wisdom will be needed.

"I have set you an example that you should
 do as I have done
for you." John 13:15

"Christ, who suffered for you, is your example.
 Follow in His steps." 1 Peter 2:21

"Whoever claims to live in Him must
 walk as Jesus did." 1 John 2:6

I will give you rest

(Philpot, "An Anxious Inquiry and a Gracious Response")

Are you ever weary . . .
  of the world,
  of sin,
  of self,
  of everything below the skies?

If so, you want something to give you rest.

You look to SELF—it is but shifting sand, tossed
here and there with the restless tide, and ever
casting up mire and dirt. No holding ground; no
anchorage; no rest there.

You look to OTHERS—you see what man is, even
the very best of men in their best state—how fickle,
how unstable, how changing and changeable; how
weak even when willing to help; how more likely
to add to, than relieve your distress; if desirous
to sympathize with and comfort you in trouble and
sorrow, how short his arm to help, how unsatisfactory
his aid to relieve! You find no rest there.

You lean upon the WORLD—it is but a broken
reed which runs into your hand and pierces you.
You find no rest there.

So look where you will, there is no rest for the
sole of your foot.

But there is a rest. Our blessed Lord says, "Come to
Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28