Grace Gems for SEPTEMBER 2004

The carnal man's trinity!

("Soul Idolatry" David Clarkson, 1621-1686)

"You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy
 person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God.
 For a such a person is really an idolater who worships
 the things of this world." Ephesians 5:5

"For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh,
 and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is
 not of the Father, but is of the world." 1 John 2:16

Pleasures, and riches, and honors are the carnal
man's trinity
. These are the three great idols of
worldly men
, to which they prostrate their souls!

Idolatry is to give that honor and worship to 'the creature',
which is due to the Creator alone. When this worship is
communicated to other things, whatever they are, we
thereby make them idols, and commit idolatry. When the
mind is most taken up with an object, and the heart and
affections most set upon it, this is "soul worship"—and
this worship is due to God alone.

Now this worship due to God alone, is given . . .
  by the savage heathen to their stick and stones;
  by the papist to their angels, saints, and images;
  by carnal men to their lusts.

There are two kinds of idolatry:
1. Open, external idolatry—when men, out of a religious
respect, bow to, or prostrate themselves before anything
besides the true God. This is the idolatry of the heathen,
and in part, the idolatry of papists.

2. Secret and soul idolatry—when the mind is set
on anything more than God; when anything is . . .
  more valued than God,
  more desired than God,
  more sought than God,
  more loved than God.

Hence, secret idolaters shall have no inheritance in
the Kingdom of God. Soul idolatry will exclude men
from heaven, as much as open idolatry!

He who serves his lusts is as incapable of entering
heaven, as he who worships idols of wood or stone!

"Therefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry!"
 1 Corinthians 10:14


Poor ephemeral things which cannot last

(J. C. Ryle, "Thoughts on Immortality", 1883)

"For what is seen is temporary, but what
 is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:18

"This world and all it contains will pass away."
    1 Corinthians 7:31

We live in a world where all things are temporary
and passing away. We are all "going, going, going,"
whether high or low, rich or poor, old or young.
We are all going—and shall soon be gone! What
is our life? It is a vapor! So soon passes it away,
and we are gone!

Humbling and painful as these truths may sound, it
is good for us to realize them and lay them to heart.
The houses we live in,
the homes we love,
the riches we accumulate,
the professions we follow,
the plans we form,
the relations we enter into,
they are only for a time. The things you live
for now are all temporary and passing away.

The pleasures,
the amusements,
the recreations,
the merry-makings,
the profits,
the earthly callings,
which now absorb all your heart, and drink
up all your mind, will soon be over. They are
poor ephemeral things which cannot last.

Oh, do not love them not too much!

Do not grasp them too tightly!

Do not make them your idols!

You cannot keep them, and you must leave them!

"Set your affections on things above,
 not on things on the earth." Col. 3:2

When our path is strewed with roses

(The Christian Monitor)

Many and precious are the benefits arising from affliction.

Affliction tends to wean us from this world, and enable us
rightly to appreciate its fading enjoyments. When our path
is strewed with roses
, when nothing but brightness and
fragrance float around us, how apt we are to be enamored
with our present condition, and to forget the crown of glory
at the end of the Christian's race, and to forget Jesus, and
everlasting ages.

But affliction, with a warning voice, rouses us from the
sweet delusion
; warns our hearts to "arise and depart"
from these inferior delights, because this is "not our rest,"
—that true and lasting joys are not to be found here.

The sweeping tempest and the beating surge teach
the mariner to prize the haven, where undisturbed
repose awaits his arrival. In like manner . . .
  anxieties, and
teach us to long for those happy mansions, where
"God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and
there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor
crying, neither shall there be any more pain. For the
old world and its evils are gone forever!"  Rev. 21:4

God's perfect will

(J. C. Philpot, "The Living Sacrifice Presented" 1856)

"That good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God."
     Romans 12:2

God's will is "perfect". In it, there is . . .
  no spot,
  no stain,
  no weakness,
  no error,
  no instability.

It is and indeed must necessarily be as perfect as God
Himself; for it emanates from Him who is all perfection;
and is a discovery of His mind and character.

But when God's perfect will . . .
  sets itself against our flesh,
  thwarts our dearest hopes,
  overturns our fondest schemes,
we cannot see that it is a perfect will. But rather, are
much disposed to fret, murmur, and rebel against it.

God's perfect will may . . .
  snatch a child from your bosom;
  strike down a dear husband;
  tear from your arms a beloved wife;
  strip you of all your worldly goods;
  put your feet into a path of suffering;
  lay you upon a bed of pain and languishing;
  cast you into hot furnaces or overwhelming floods;
  make your life almost a burden to yourself!

How can you, under circumstances so trying and
distressing as these, acknowledge and submit to
God's perfect will; and let it reign and rule in
your heart without a murmur of resistance to it?

Look back and see how God's perfect will has, in
previous instances, reigned supreme in all points,
for your good. It has ordered or overruled all
circumstances and all events, amid a complication
of difficulties in providence and grace. Nothing has
happened to your injury; but all things have worked
together for your good.

Whatever we have lost, it was better for us that
it was taken away. Whatever . . .
  or comfort,
  or friends,
  or health,
  or earthly happiness we have been deprived of,
it was better for us to lose, than to retain them.

Was your dear child taken away? It might be
to teach you resignation to God's sacred will.

Has a dear partner been snatched from your
embrace? It was that God might be your better
Partner and undying Friend.

Was any portion of your worldly substance taken
away? It was that you might be taught to live a
life of faith in the providence of God.

Have your fondest schemes been marred; your
youthful hopes blighted; and you pierced in the
warmest affections of your heart? It was . . .
  to remove an idol,
  to dethrone a rival to Christ,
  to crucify the object of earthly love,
so that a purer, holier, and more enduring
affection might be enshrined in its stead.

To tenderly embrace God's perfect will is
the grand object of all gospel discipline.

The ultimatum of gospel obedience is to lie
passive in His hand
, and know no will but His.

"That good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God."
     Romans 12:2

This sinner, not the Pharisee

(J. C. Philpot, "Spiritual Fruit" 1858)

The proud Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this
prayer: "I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like
everyone else, especially like that publican over there!
For I never cheat, I don't sin, I don't commit adultery,
I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my
income." Luke 18:11-12

Man unites in himself, what at first sight seem to
be completely opposite things. He is the greatest
of sinners—and yet the greatest of Pharisees.

Now, what two things can be so opposed to each
other as sin and self-righteousness? Yet the very
same man who is a sinner from top to toe, with the
whole head sick and the whole heart faint—who is
spiritually nothing else but a leper throughout—how
contradictory it appears that the same man has in
his own heart a most stubborn self-righteousness!

Now, against these two evils God, so to speak, directs
His whole artillery—He spares neither one nor the other.

But it is hard to say which is the greatest rebellion
against God—the existence of sin in man and what he
is as a fallen sinner—or his Pharisaism, the lifting up
his head in pride of self-righteousness.

It is not easy to decide which is the more obnoxious
to God
—the drunkard who sins without shame—or the
Pharisee puffed up with how pleasing he is to God.

The one is abhorrent to our feelings—and, as far as
decency and morality are concerned, we would rather
see the Pharisee. But when we come to matters of
true religion, the Pharisee seems the worst! At least
our Lord intimated as much when He said the publicans
and harlots would enter the kingdom of God before them.

"But the publican stood at a distance and dared not
even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he
beat his chest in sorrow, saying, 'O God, be merciful
to me, for I am a sinner!'

I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home
justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself
will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be
exalted." Luke 18:13-14

Five devilisms!

("Reconciliation by Death, and Salvation by Life"
Preached at Providence Chapel, Eden Street, London,
on Tuesday Evening, July 30, 1850, by J. C. Philpot)

As regards sin in its workings, we may say
there are five devilisms from which we need
to be saved . . .

1. The GUILT of sin.

2. The FILTH of sin.

3. The LOVE of sin.

4. The DOMINION of sin.

5. The PRACTICE of sin.

1. We need the application of Christ's precious blood
to our conscience, to take away the guilt of sin.

2. We need the Spirit of Christ to sanctify and
to wash the soul in the fountain, to cleanse
from the filth of sin.

3. We need the love of Christ shed abroad in
our hearts, to take away the love of sin.

4. We need the power of Christ, to rescue
us from the dominion of sin.

5. We need  the grace of Christ, to preserve
us from the practice of sin.

It is feeling sin in its various workings, which
makes us value Christ! Strange mysterious way!
O, strange path! that to be exercised with sin,
is the path to the Savior!

Very painful, very mysterious, very inexplicable
—that the more you feel yourself a wretched,
miserable sinner; the more you long after Jesus,
who is able to save you to the uttermost!

Thus, we shall find that we need all that Christ is.
For we are no little sinners; and He is no little Savior!

We are great sinners!

He is a Savior—and a great one!

"He is able to save to the uttermost!" Hebrews 7:25

This is the struggle!

("Reconciliation by Death, and Salvation by Life"
Preached at Providence Chapel, Eden Street, London,
on Tuesday Evening, July 30, 1850, by J. C. Philpot)

"Oh, what a wretched man I am! Who will free me
 from this body that is dominated by sin?" Rom. 7:24

If a person were to tell me he did not love sin in his carnal
mind, I would say with all mildness, "You do not speak the
truth!" If your carnal mind does not love sin . . .
Why do you think of it?

Why do you secretly indulge it in your imagination?

Why do you play with it?

Why do you seek to extract a devilish sweetness out of it?

O, what a mercy it would be, if there were not this
dreadful love of sin in our heart! This is the struggle
—that there should be this traitor in the camp; that
our carnal mind should be so devilish as to love that
which made the blessed Jesus die; as to love that
which crucified the Lord of glory, and to love it with
a vehement love!

"Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord!"
   Romans 7:25

It is I

("The Fruits and Marks of the Lord Being Our God"
 J. C. Philpot, Providence Chapel, London, 1849)

"Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." Mark 6:50

It is I who formed you in the womb, and brought you
forth into your present existence. It is I, the Lord your
God, who has fed you, and clothed you from that hour
up to the present moment. It is I, the Lord your God,
who has preserved you on every side. When you were
upon a sick bed, it was I, the Lord your God, who
visited your soul, raised up your body, and gave you
that measure of health which you do now enjoy. It is
, the Lord your God, who placed you in the situation
of life which you do now occupy.

It is I, the Lord your God . . .
  who deals out to you every trial,
  who allots you every affliction,
  who brings upon you every cross,
who works in you everything according
to My own good pleasure.

When we can thus believe that the Lord our God is
about our bed and our path, and spying out all our
ways; when we can look up to Him, and feel that
He is the Lord our God, there is no feeling . . .
  more sweet,
  more blessed,
  more heavenly!

"Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." Mark 6:50


That sweet grace

(J. C. Philpot, "Pilgrims' Hunger and Pilgrims' Food")

"Remember how the Lord your God led you through the
 wilderness for forty years, to humble you." Deut. 8:2

We learn humility by a deep discovery of
what we are
; by an opening up of . . .
  the corruption,
  the weakness,
  the wickedness,
of our fallen nature.

The Lord's way of teaching His people humility is
by placing them first in one trying spot, and then
in another; by allowing . . .
  some temptation to arise;
  some stumbling block to be in their path;
  some besetting sin to work upon their corrupt affections;
  some idol to be embraced by their idolatrous heart;
  something to take place to draw out the sin which is
in their heart; and thus make it manifest to their sight.

As a general rule, we learn humility, not by hearing
ministers tell us what wicked creatures we are; nor
by merely looking into our bosoms and seeing a whole
swarm of evils working there; but from being compelled
by painful necessity to believe that we are vile, through
circumstances and events time after time bringing to
light those hidden evils in our heart
, which we once
thought ourselves pretty free from.

We learn humility, not merely by a discovery of what
we are, but also by a discovery of what Jesus is.

We need a glimpse . . .
  of Jesus,
  of His love,
  of His grace,
  of His blood.

When these two feelings meet together
in our bosom . . .
  our shame, and the Lord's goodness;
  our guilt, and His forgiveness;
  our wickedness, and His superabounding mercy;
they break us, humble us, and lay us, dissolved in tears
of godly sorrow and contrition, at the footstool of mercy!

And thus we learn humility, that sweet grace, that
blessed fruit of the Spirit in real, vital, soul-experience.

Slaves of Satan!

(Philpot, "The Master's Bounty, and the Servant's Obedience")

"Then they will come to their senses and escape from
 the Devil's trap. For they have been held captive by
 him to do whatever he wants.
" 2 Timothy 2:26

In our natural state, we are all the slaves of Satan!

We love our foul master, hug his chain, and delight in his
servitude, little thinking what awful wages are to follow.

This mighty conqueror has with him a numerous train of
captives! This haughty master, the 'god of this world', has
in his fiendish retinue, a whole array of slaves who gladly
do his behests. They obey him cheerfully, though he is
leading them down to the bottomless pit! For though he
amuses them while here in this world with a few toys
and baubles
, he will not pay them their wages until he
has enticed and flattered them into that ghastly gulf of
destruction, in which he himself has been weltering for

"Satan, the god of this evil world, has blinded the
 minds of those who don't believe." 2 Cor. 4:4

To keep me from getting puffed up

(J. C. Philpot, "The Promises Inherited" 1845)

"But to keep me from getting puffed up, I was
given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan
to torment me and keep me from getting proud.
Three different times I begged the Lord to take
it away. Each time He said to me, 'My grace is
sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect
in your weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the
more gladly about my weaknesses, so that
Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Cor. 12:7-9

Depend upon it, the Lord's family have to go through
much tribulation on their way to heaven
. So says the
unerring word of truth, and so speaks the experience
of every God-taught soul. Now . . .
  in these seasons of trouble,
  in these painful exercises,
  in these perplexing trials,
the Lord's people need strength; yet the Lord
sends these trials in order to drain and exhaust
them of 'creature strength'.

Such is the 'self-righteousness' of our heart; such
the 'legality' intertwined with every fiber of our
natural disposition—that we cleave to our own
righteousness as long as there is a thread to
cleave to; we stand in our own strength as long
as there is a point to stand upon; we lean upon
our own wisdom as long as a particle remains!

In order, then, to exhaust us, drain us, strip us, and
purge us of this pharisaic leaven, the Lord sends . . .

What is their effect?

To teach us our weakness, and bring us to that
one and only spot where God and the sinner
meet—the spot of creature helplessness.

In order, therefore, to bring us to this spot, to know
experimentally the strength of Christ, and feel it to
be more than a doctrine, a notion, or a speculation—
to know it as an internal reality, tasted by the inward
palate of our soul—to have this experience wrought
into our hearts with divine power, we must be brought
to this spot—to feel our own utter weakness.

If anyone loves the world

(J. C. Philpot, "Evidences Sealed and Open" 1869)

"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

If the love of the Father is in us, we will not
love the world—nor will the world love us!

If your heart and spirit are still in the world,
and you are not separated from . . .
  its society,
  its amusements,
  its pursuits,
  its pleasures,
  its delights,
  its men,
  its maxims,
you certainly lack any evidence of a divine
change having been wrought in your soul.

"Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the
becomes an enemy of God." James 4:4


He has a healing balm for all

(John MacDuff, "The Throne of Grace")

"The Holy Spirit helps us in our distress." Rom. 8:26

You cannot live without the Holy Spirit.

There cannot be . . .
  one heavenly aspiration,
  one breathing of love,
  one upward glance of faith
without His gracious influences.

Apart from Him, there is . . .
  no preciousness in the Word,
  no blessing in ordinances,
  no permanent, sanctifying results in affliction.

The Holy Spirit . . .
  directs His people to the waters of comfort,
  gives new glory to the promises, and
  invests the Savior's character and work,
    with new loveliness and beauty.

Come, then, with your affliction!

Come with your infirmity!

Come with your need!

Come with your wounded spirit!

Come with your broken heart!

Whatever, then, be your present situation,
seek the promised help of the Holy Spirit.
He has a healing balm for all . . .
  the weak,
  the tempted,
  the sick,
  the sorrowing,
  the bereaved,
  the dying.

"The Holy Spirit helps us in our distress." Rom. 8:26


For the ungodly!

(Henry Law, "Awakening and Inviting Calls")

"Christ died for the ungodly!" Romans 5:6

To redeem poor sinners, Jesus . . .
  came down from heaven,
  put on the rags of our mortality,

Jesus is made His people's . . .

Their debt is placed to His account.
His riches pay the full amount.

Sin is removed from the sinner,
and placed on the Sinless!

Their curse is rolled on Him, and He
endures it, until no more remains!

God deals with Jesus as the guilty one!

He, as spotless Deity, receives imputed
sins, and fully expiates them all. In the
vicarious victim, God's justice is satisfied,
and wrath expires!

Jesus, in His life, in the garden, on the cross . . .
  suffers their sufferings,
  dies their death,
  and so becomes their uttermost salvation!

His pains are their pardon!

His stripes are their healing!

His agony is their recovery!

"Christ died for the ungodly!" Romans 5:6

He has blotted out this whole fearful record!

(Stephen Tyng, "Practical Meditations")

"I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions,
 for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more."
     Isaiah 43:25

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 remember it no more!

"Once again you will have compassion on us.
 You will trample our sins under Your feet and
 throw them into the depths of the ocean!"
     Micah 7:19

The devil's holiday dress to deceive men's souls

(William Gadsby, "The Feeble Christian's Support")

"You must be born again." John 3:7

We have a whole host of 'professors' in our day,
who talk about their being 'religious' ever since
they were born. They had a 'religious' education,
entered into a 'religious' society, were 'religiously'
instructed from an infant, and when they got to
years of maturity, they became 'decidedly religious'.
And their minister tells them have no need to
experience any particular convictions, or to have
any particular alarm, like 'notorious sinners'.

If that minister had made up his mind to carry
them to hell comfortably
, he could not have set
about doing it in a better way!

All this beginning to be 'religious', and becoming
'decidedly religious', is the devil's holiday dress to
deceive men's souls
, and to blind their minds as to
their real state and condition before a just a holy God.

"You must be born again." John 3:7


The treasury is large and inexhaustible

(John MacDuff, "The Throne of Grace")

"Grow in grace." 2 Peter 3:18

Growth in grace is chiefly manifested in common
—in your ordinary duties—in your home circle,
in resisting and overcoming—habits of self-indulgence
—habits of harshness, fretfulness, irritability of temper,
or the like.

"Grace" may be brought into exercise too, in bearing
sickness, trial, unkindness, or reproach, with a patient
uncomplaining spirit—in helping and encouraging your
neighbor—in being more generous, more kind, more
sympathizing—in showing more "love, joy, peace,
patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness,
temperance"—in delighting more in prayer and the
Word of God—in setting the Lord more and more
before you—in ever keeping Him in mind.

It is thus "grace" will truly grow and expand, so that
every fresh duty becomes more easy, and every fresh
trial less painful. Grace, brought into the details of
daily life—
elevates and consecrates human affection,
and sweetens earthly love with the deepest and tenderest
sympathies, as it pervades duty, pleasure, and recreation.

But we must never forget, that our ability for all this
comes from above—that, as there is only one source
from which "grace" comes to us at first, so there is
only one source from which we can obtain renewed
supplies. "He gives more grace." Grace is no scanty
thing, doled out in pittances. The fountain is full and
overflowing—the treasury is large and inexhaustible;
myriads are hourly hanging on it, and drawing from it,
and yet there is no diminishing! Out of that fullness
all may receive grace for grace.

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so
 that in all things at all times, having all that you need,
 you will abound in every good work." 2 Corinthians 9:8

Christian! Oh, repair to the throne of grace for a
fresh supply, and, be assured, that there is . . .
  not a trial you can encounter,
  not a sorrow you can experience,
  not a difficulty you can meet with in your daily life,
for which Jesus, in the treasury of grace, has not a
corresponding solace. The throne of grace is the
only refuge for the sin-stricken, woe-worn spirit.


Your Savior's heart

(John MacDuff, "The Throne of Grace")

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable
 to sympathize with our weaknesses." Heb. 4:15

Jesus is able to sympathize with all the sorrows
and infirmities to which His people are exposed.
Such is our great High Priest—divine in His ability,
human in His sympathy. Amid earth's painful
trials and temptations—amid its changes and
vicissitudes—amid dangers and duties, it is
such a High Priest that we stand in need of.

Oh, precious thought! that we have a Friend above
who can sympathize as no other can—that we have
an Intercessor who can plead more powerfully than
we are even able to conceive—and whose eye of love
is on each one of His followers—to support, sustain,
and comfort, amid daily trials, vicissitudes, and conflicts.

Let us then, because we have such a High Priest above—the
all-powerful, all-helpful, all-loving, all-tender Savior—One
who can and does feel for us—One who knows all our cares,
and troubles, and trials—One who has Himself deeply suffered,
and is therefore able to sympathize with us in all our sorrows,
"let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that
we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."

Come, then, you poor, you disconsolate,
come, you tried and afflicted,
come, you wounded,
come, you needy,
come, and welcome, to the throne of grace!

Reader! whatever be . . .
  your need,
  your weakness,
  your trial,
  your infirmity,
do not brood over it—but bring it to the throne of grace!
The longer you bear about with you the burden under
which you groan, the more hopeless and wretched
you will become. But if you take it to the foot of the
Cross, you will assuredly obtain relief.

Surely, it is a comforting thought, that you are bringing
your wishes, and cares, and anxieties to One who knows
how to pity and support—who longs to show mercy, and
to impart "grace to help in every time of need."

Your Savior's heart is . . .
  a human heart,
  a tender heart,
  a sinless heart,
  a heart, once the home of sorrow,
  once an aching, bleeding, mournful heart.

And He is still unchanged! He loves . . .
  to chase grief from the troubled spirit,
  to bind up the broken heart,
  to stanch the bleeding wound,
  to dry the weeping eye,
  "to comfort all who mourn."

Yes, Christian, if you would disclose your sorrow to One
who sorrowed as none ever sorrowed—if you would weep
upon the bosom of One, who wept as none ever wept—if
you would bare your wound to One, who was wounded as
none ever was wounded—then, in your affliction, turn from
all creature sympathy and support, to your "merciful and
faithful High Priest."

Your temptations from Satan,
your persecutions from man,
your struggles with an evil heart,
your tribulations and dangers, and fears,
all are known to Him—and He feels for you.
Tender, to Him, are you, as the apple of His eye.

Your happiness,
your peace,
your necessities,
your discouragements,
are all subjects of His deepest interest,
and of His incessant care.

His faithfulness never falters.

His love never changes.

His tenderness never lessens.

His patience never wearies.

His grace never decays.

"I cried unto the Lord, and He heard me, and
 delivered me from all my fears." Psalm 34:4


God is at the root of our sufferings

(MacDuff, "Encouragements to Patient Waiting")

"Affliction does not come forth from the dust,
neither does trouble spring out of the ground."
    Job 5:6

Of all things, the most difficult is to truly realize 
"the need be" for our own personal trials.

We inwardly think . . .
  that our lot is a very hard one;
  that our cross is the most painful;
  that our suffering the most agonizing;
  that our path the most thorny.

And all this arises from the fact that we have
not discovered the "need be." How could we?
At the best, our spiritual eyesight is weak and
dim. We cannot know the real state of our souls,
or see them as He does, whose searching scrutiny
detects the slightest symptom of disease. We
imagine all is well when we are sick, wounded,
ready to die. We imagine that all is right with
the heart, when faith is weak, love cold, hope
almost obscured.

Only gradually, after having been long in the
school of trial, do we begin to realize that the
Physician must probe the wound within us
and apply severe remedies, and cause pain
and anguish, in order to cure the malady which
is preying upon us. Only then can we rightly
comprehend our former weakness, and thank
God that in tender love He cared for us . . .
  not hesitating to inflict pain,
  not withdrawing His hand,
  not sparing the rod,
that He might do us good in the end.

Reader, it is when we come to know and realize
this, that we begin to reap the benefit of affliction.
So long as we attribute it only to 'second causes',
there will be no submission, no gratitude, no praise.
It is when the discovery has been made that God is
at the root of our sufferings
—that He is desolating
our comforts, robbing us of our joys with His own hand
—when every grief and pang, every sorrow and anxiety,
are felt to be His work—when we cannot banish Him
from our thoughts, nor disconnect Him from one of
our troubles, nor even wish to do either—it is then
that the soul begins to consider, and the heart to
soften, and our proud, rebellious, stubborn spirit
to give way.

Only let us see that a Father's hand has mingled
our cup of bitterness, and the Comforter will come,
even when our heart is almost broken, and inspire
the trembling utterance, "The Lord gave, and the Lord
has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!"

Affliction will be sent again and again, until we learn
to sit loose to the world, and have our chief joy in God.

"I was silent; I would not open my mouth, for You
 are the one who has done this!
" Psalm 39:9


All for you!

(MacDuff, "Encouragements to Patient Waiting")

Take a pilgrimage in thought, to Gethsemane
and Calvary! Gaze upon His sufferings! He knew
all the sorrows that await Him—the shame, the
suffering, the anguish—but He takes the bitter
cup, and, with His heart set on the salvation
of His people—with His heart set on you—the
blessed Savior drains it to the very dregs!

See Him on Calvary . . .
  unpitied by the crowd;
  deserted by His disciples;
  forsaken by His Father;
  the Lamb led to the slaughter;
and all for you!


The storms of life

(Charles Buck, 1820)

"Before I was afflicted I went astray,
 but now I obey Your word." Psalm 119:67

In Scripture, the afflictions of believers are represented as . . .
 and when sanctified, beneficial.

Afflictions . . .
  wean from the world;
  work submission;
  produce humility;
  excite to diligence;
  stir up to prayer;
  conform us to the divine image.

To bear afflictions with patience, we should consider . . .
  our own unworthiness;
  the design of God in sending them;
  the promises of support under them;
  the real good they are productive of.

The afflictions of a believer never come without
a cause, nor are sent but upon a divine errand.

Let us, therefore, quietly submit to God's Providence.

Let us conceive this life to be the winter of our existence.
Now the rains must fall, and the winds must roar around us;
but, sheltering ourselves under Him who is the "shelter from
the tempest," let us wait with patience until the storms of
shall terminate in an everlasting calm.

"In faithfulness You have afflicted me." Psalm 119:75


See the old man rise and fume!

(author unknown)

We must have . . .
  our idols exposed,
  our lusts dragged forth from their holes,
  our carnal religion made loathsome in our eyes,
  our own righteousness shown to be filthy rags.

Heart-searching preaching, where it does not convince,
is sure to offend. Nothing is so cutting to an unrenewed
heart, especially when there is a decent outside, as to
have its rottenness exposed, its refuge of lies swept
away, and the pillow of 'forms' whereon it was sleeping
removed from under its head. Whoever attempts this,
must expect to see the old man rise and fume.


My jewels!

(by John MacDuff)

"They will be Mine," says the Lord Almighty,
"in the day when I make up My jewels!"
   Malachi 3:17

Oh most precious, most wondrous thought!

Can it be that He can think of treasuring me;
a poor, unworthy, contemptible piece of clay,
in His treasure box now; and at last of setting
me a jewel in His crown?

The little firefly

(John MacDuff, "The Story of Naaman the Syrian")

"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to
 one of these little ones because he is My disciple,
 I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his
 reward." Matthew 10:42

God is glorified by obedience to His will in LITTLE things.
They most glorify God
, who, without the often false
incentive of outward and ulterior motives, gladly perform
their humble, unostentatious deeds and services—which
are unacknowledged and unapplauded by the world. Such,
assuredly, will not be unowned or rejected by the Great
Recompenser, because they have nothing better or
costlier to offer.

Motive is everything with the omniscient Heart-searcher!
And He is satisfied, if we fulfill with a good conscience our
apportioned place and lot, however lowly that may be.

The little firefly, illuminating its little sphere, is one of the
tiniest lamps in God's magnificent Temple of night—a mere
'glimmering spark' compared with the nobler Altar-fires of
moon and stars, in the same great sanctuary. But that
tiny insect is content to shine with the luster assigned to
it, in its humble place in the universe—and the Creator is
glorified by it.

"She has done what she could," is the divine word of
approval. The 'widow's mite' and the 'cup of cold water'
are owned and accepted by God. And the 'intention' and
'desire' would be accepted, if there were no mite and
no cup to give.


An almost boundless capacity of wickedness

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

But Peter said, "Man, I don't know what you
are talking about." And as soon as he said
these words, the rooster crowed. Luke 22:60

The best and highest believer is a poor
weak creature
, even at his best times.

Whether he knows it or not, he carries within him
an almost boundless capacity of wickedness
however fair and decent his outward conduct may

There is no enormity of sin into which he
may not run
, if he does not watch and pray,
and if the grace of God does not hold him up.

When we read the falls of Noah, Lot, and
Peter, we only read what might possibly
befall any of ourselves!

Let us never presume.

Let us never indulge in high thoughts about
our own strength, or look down upon others.

Whatever else we pray for, let us daily
pray that we may walk humbly with God.

"Hold me up, and I shall be safe!" Ps. 119:117

A lump of vanity

(John Mason's Spiritual Sayings)

In reality . . .
are but dust,
  honors are but shadows,
are but bubbles, and
is but a lump of vanity,
   composed of sin and misery.


If God gave us no thorn

(John MacDuff, "The Leper-warrior" 1873)

God's dealings with His people are often incomprehensible.
His name to them is that which He gave to Manoah,
"Wonderful," "Secret," "Mysterious."

That wearing sickness,
that wasting heritage of pain,
these long tossings on a fevered, sleepless pillow,
—where is God's love or mercy here?

But the silence and loneliness of the sickbed is the
figurative "wilderness," where He "allures" that He
may "speak comfortably unto them, and give them
their vineyards from thence" (Hosea 2:14, 15),
rousing them from the contemptible dream of
earthly happiness
, from the sordid and the secular,
from busy care and debasing solicitude—to the
divine and the heavenly!

Or, that unexpected affliction of poverty—the crash
of earthly fortune—the forfeiture of earthly gain—the
stripping of cherished treasure, and sending those
'nursed in the lap of luxury' penniless on the world
—where is God's mercy or love here?

But it is through this beneficial, though rough discipline,
that God weans from the enervating influence of prosperity,
leading them to exchange 'the mess of earthly pottage'
for 'the bread of life'—perishable substance for the fine
gold of heavenly wealth and durable riches!

Or, that cruel blighting of young hope and pure affection
—the withering of some cherished gourd—the opening of
'early graves' for the loving and beloved; holiest ties
formed, but the 'memory' of which is all that remains.
Where is God's kindness and mercy in creating bonds
only to sever them? raising up friends only to bury them?

The plaintive experience and utterance of the bereaved
mother in Israel, is that of many, "Call me not Naomi,
call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly
with me!
" (Ruth 1:20)

But the 'shallow rills' are dried by Him, in order to lead to
the 'great Fountainhead'. The links of earthly affection are
broken, in order that stronger and more enduring ones may
be formed above. The rents have been made in the house
of clay, only to render more inviting the eternal home in
heaven—stimulating us to live more for that world where
all is perfection—where we shall stand without a fault
before the throne!

Yes, suffering Christian! believe it—your trials are designed
by Him who sent them, to bring you nearer Himself! They
are His own appointed gateways, opening up and admitting
to great spiritual blessings!

The mother eagle is said purposely to put a 'thorn' into her
nest to compel her young brood to fly. If God gave us no
—if He never disturbed the "downy nest of our worldly
ease"—we might be tempted to remain grovelers forever!
He knows us better! He loves us better!

The day will come when we shall joyfully testify, "Had it
not been for these wilderness experiences—that protracted
sickness—that loss of worldly position—the death of that
cherished friend—I would still have been clinging to 'earth'
as my portion, content with the polluted rill and the broken
cistern, instead of drawing water out of the wells of salvation!"


Who makes you differ from thousands?

(Anne Dutton's Letters on Spiritual Subjects)

Permit me to ask, my dear sister—who taught
you that you were miserable, wretched, blind,
and naked, sin-ruined, and law-condemned—and
must perish forever without a saving interest
in precious Jesus? Who showed you the worth of
your immortal soul, that if your soul was safe for
eternity, it did not much matter how things were
as to your body, during this momentary state of
your little inch of time? Who gave you such a
high esteem of Christ, the Friend of sinners?

Have you always had such a living sensation of
these things? If not, how did you come by this?
Who gave it to you? Who makes you differ from
, on your right hand and on your left,
who, insensible of their own misery as sinners,
and of the excellency of Christ as the Savior, seek
no higher happiness than the empty enjoyments
of this perishing life?

Oh, dear sister, have not you cause to adore
the rich, free, distinguishing grace of God to
—which opened your eyes, while numbers
round about you are blinded by sin and Satan?

You have seen your unspeakable misery without
Christ, and His immense and eternal excellency to
make you incomparably happy unto endless glory!
You have been drawn by His all-conquering love,
and changed in some measure into His image, and
have given yourself up to Him, to be entirely and
forever His. The altogether lovely Jesus is your
beloved, and He is your friend—and in Him you
have, and shall have, a well of life, and ocean
of inexhaustible and eternal bliss!

"By the grace of God I am what I am." 1 Cor. 15:10


"The gospel of God's grace." Acts 20:24

(Don Fortner)

There is no grace but free and sovereign grace.

There is no election but eternal and unconditional election.

There is no redemption but particular and effectual redemption.

There is no salvation but by the irresistible grace
and omnipotent power of God the Holy Spirit.

There is no security but by the absolute preservation
of God's immutable goodness.


The Holy Spirit

(Thomas Reade, "Christian Meditations")

It is the work of the Spirit to animate,
comfort and strengthen the true believer.

By His gracious influences He sheds abroad
the love of God in the hearts of believers;
fills them, at times, with joy unspeakable
and full of glory, and gives them a peace
that passes understanding.

The Holy Spirit . . .
  supports them under the severest trials;
  preserves them from the power of evil;
  guards them from the attacks of Satan;
  upholds them on their journey through the wilderness;
  and brings them triumphant to the heavenly Canaan.

"Oh, blessed Spirit, prepare me for Your
abode of glory; wean my heart daily from
this wicked world; impress the Savior's
image on my soul, that when He shall
appear, I may be like Him, when I see
Him as He is.