Grace Gems for March 2005

Sovereign, supreme disposal

(J. C. Philpot, "Meditations on Ephesians")

"And God has put all things under the authority of Christ,
 and He gave Him this authority for the benefit of the
 church." Ephesians 1:22

God has put all things, events, and circumstances
under the authority of Christ! How vast, how numerous,
how complicated are the various events and circumstances
which attend the children of God here below, as they travel
onward to their heavenly home! What an intricate maze
they often seem, and how much they appear opposed to
us, as if we never could get through them, or scarcely live
under them!

Yet, there cannot be a single circumstance over which
Jesus has not supreme control. Everything in providence
and everything in grace are alike subject to His disposal.
There is not . . .
  a trial,
  a temptation,
  an affliction of body or soul,
  a loss,
  a cross,
  a painful bereavement,
  a vexation,
  a grief,
  a disappointment,
  a case, state, or condition,
which is not put under Jesus' authority!

He has sovereign, supreme disposal over all events
and circumstances!
As possessed of infinite knowledge,
He sees them. As possessed of infinite wisdom, He can
manage them. As possessed of infinite power, He can
dispose and direct them for our good and His own glory!
How much trouble and anxiety we would save ourselves,
could we firmly believe, realize, and act on this! If we
could see by the eye of faith that . . .
  every foe and every fear,
  every difficulty and perplexity,
  every trying or painful circumstance,
  every looked-for or unlooked-for event,
  every source of anxiety, whether at present or in prospect,
are all under His dominion, and at His sovereign disposal—what
a load of anxiety and care would be taken off our shoulders!

"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me."
     Matthew 28:18

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Pride, worldliness, and covetousness

(J. C. Philpot, "Contemplations & Reflections")

Pride, worldliness, and covetousness may reign
rampant, where grosser sins are not committed,
or kept hidden from observation.

"The human heart is most deceitful and desperately
 wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I know!
 I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret
 motives." Jeremiah 17:9-10

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

All of us used to live that way

(J. C. Philpot, "Meditations on Ephesians")

"Once you were dead, doomed forever because of your
 many sins! You used to live just like the rest of the
, full of sin, obeying Satan, the mighty prince
 of the power of the air. He is the spirit at work in the
 hearts of the children of disobedience. All of us used
 to live that way
, following the passions and desires
 of our evil nature. We were born with an evil nature,
 and we were under God's wrath just like everyone
" Ephesians 2:1-3

Paul reminds us of the state and condition in which we
used to live,
that he may thereby magnify the riches of
God's grace, and bring before us what should be a matter
of the deepest humiliation and self-abhorrence. How clearly
does he show that there is no difference between the
saved and the lost
—except what grace makes between
them; that all, elect and non-elect, are equally dead in
sin; that all equally live according to the ways of this
world in their unregenerate condition; and that all are
equally led and acted upon by Satan, that foul and
accursed spirit which we see now working everywhere
around us in the children of disobedience.

If we view the children of God only as they are by nature,
there is no difference between them and the lost. Their sins
are as great, if not greater; their nature as corrupt; their
hearts as evil; the whole bent and course of their thoughts,
words, and works, were as saturated with sin and crime. And
all these things deserve wrath, and would draw down wrath
as their everlasting portion—but for the sovereign grace of
The very sweetness of grace lies in this—that it has put
away deserved wrath!

Paul's object is to remind us of our obligations to distinguishing,
sovereign grace, by showing us that we deserve nothing at God's
hands but wrath; and that had we our just due, wrath would be
poured out upon us to the uttermost! Surely every one who has
felt anything of the wrath of God as his just due, on account of
his personal sins, will freely acknowledge that he is by nature a
child of wrath, and that there are thousands in hell who have
not sinned as great as he has!

"But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so very much, that
 even while we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life
 when He raised Christ from the dead. It is only by grace that
 you have been saved!
" Ephesians 2:4-5

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Fall down in reverent astonishment

(J. C. Philpot, "Meditations on Ephesians")

"His great love for us." Ephesians 2:4

"You love them as much as You love Me." John 17:23

The love of God to His dear Son must be so infinite
as to exceed all conception of men or angels. Now,
that He should love the people of His choice with the
same love—the same in nature, the same in degree
as that with which He loves His dear Son—is one of
the most overwhelming thoughts which can move
and stir a human bosom! Indeed, so overwhelming
is it in its sublime mystery and unapproachable depth,
that as it can only be received by faith! Faith itself
can only fall down in reverent astonishment and
admiration before it, and cry out, "O the depth!
O the blessedness of this love!"

"I love you the same way as My Father has loved Me."
     John 15:9

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Don't you realize!

(J. C. Philpot, "Meditations on Ephesians")

"Don't you realize that you are God's temple and
 that God's Spirit lives in you?" 1 Cor. 3:16

Alas! how little is this truth contemplated and acted upon!

Were we more deeply and powerfully impressed with the
solemn truth that God Himself dwells in us through the
Spirit, how much more careful we would be to maintain . . .
  truth and reality,
  life and power in experience,
  godliness and holiness in life!

What a reverential fear would possess our minds, that
we might not defile the Lord's temple, or sin against
and before, so holy and all-seeing a Guest!

If we realized this, and lived under its solemn weight and
influence, how careful we would be not to defile that body
which is the temple of the Holy Spirit. How desirous and
anxious we would be not to pollute . . .
  our eyes by wandering lusts;
  our ears by listening to worldly and carnal conversation;
  our lips by speaking deceit, or light and frothy talk;
  our hands by putting them to anything that is evil;
  our feet by running on errands of vanity and folly.

We are to view our body as God's temple, and therefore
sanctified to His service and to His glory!

"God bought you with a high price! So you must honor
 God with your body." 1 Corinthians 6:20

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~


(J. C. Philpot, "Meditations on 1 Peter")

"To God's elect, strangers in the world." 1 Peter 1:1

"I am a stranger with you and a sojourner, as all
 my fathers were." Psalm 39:12

"I am but a stranger here on earth." Psalm 119:19

"They confessed that they were strangers and
 pilgrims on the earth." Hebrews 11:13

The main character of a child of God is that he is a
stranger upon earth. One of the first effects of the
grace of God upon our soul was to separate us from
the world, and make us feel ourselves strangers in it.

The world was once our home—the active, busy center
of all our thoughts, desires, and affections. But when
grace planted imperishable principles of life in our bosom,
it at once separated us from the world in heart and spirit,
if not in actual life and walk. We are strangers inwardly
and experimentally, by the power of divine grace making
this world a wilderness to us.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~


(J. C. Philpot, "Meditations on 1 Peter")

"People will be lovers of themselves,
 lovers of money." 2 Timothy 3:2

"For the love of money is a root of all
 kinds of evil." 1 Timothy 6:10

Money feeds the lusts of the flesh by giving
its possessor the power to gratify them.

nurses his pride by making its possessor,
so to speak, independent of the providence of God.

fosters the love of the world by giving
its possessor a portion in it.

"You cannot serve both God and Money!"
     Luke 16:13

"Not greedy for money." 1 Peter 5:2

"Keep your lives free from the love of money
 and be content with what you have." Heb. 13:5

"The Pharisees, who dearly loved their
, scoffed at all this." Luke 16:14

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

All the ravishments of His presence and love!

(J. C. Philpot, "Meditations on 1 Peter")

"Receiving the end of your faith, the salvation
 of your souls.
" 1 Peter 1:9

What is to be compared with the salvation of the
soul? What are riches, honors, health, long life?
What are all the pleasures which the world can
offer, sin promise, or the flesh enjoy? What is all
that men call good or great? What is everything
which the outward eye has seen, or natural ear
heard, or has entered into the carnal heart of man
—put side by side with being saved by Jesus with
an everlasting salvation?

Consider what we are saved from—as well as
what we are saved unto.

From a burning hell—to a blissful heaven!

From endless wrath—to eternal glory!

From the dreadful company of devils and damned
spirits, mutually tormenting and tormented—to the
blessed companionship of the glorified saints, all
perfectly conformed in body and soul to the image
of Christ, with thousands and tens of thousands of
holy angels! And, above all, to seeing the glorious
Son of God as He is, in all the perfection of His beauty,
and all the ravishments of His presence and love!

To be done forever with . . .
  all the sorrows, troubles, and afflictions of this life;
  all the pains and aches of this poor clay tabernacle;
  all the darkness, bondage, and misery of the body of
sin and death—to be perfectly holy in body and soul,
being in both without spot, or blemish—and ever to
enjoy uninterrupted union and communion with God!

O what a heaven lies before the children of God!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Fashionable sins

(J. C. Philpot, "Meditations on 1 Peter Chapter 1")

"As obedient children, do not conform to the evil lusts
 you had when you lived in ignorance." 1 Peter 1:14

Peter warns us against yielding ourselves to the power
and practice of any of those lusts which had dominion
over us in the days of our ignorance—such as the base
and sensual lusts of the flesh—or the more refined
of . . .
  fleshly ease
—those more fashionable sins in which a man may live
and walk, and yet preserve his character and good name.

Let the children of disobedience follow after and be
conformed to all these worldly lusts; but let the
children of obedience shun and abhor them as . . .
  hateful to God,
  deceitful and dangerous to themselves, and
  contrary to a holy, godly profession.

"But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy
 in all you do." 1 Peter 1:15

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

At the cross alone

(J. C. Philpot, "Meditations on the Blessed Redeemer")

"Jesus has become our wisdom and our righteousness
and sanctification and redemption." 1 Corinthians 1:30

"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

An experimental knowledge of crucifixion with his
crucified Lord, made Paul preach the cross—not only
in its power to save, but in its power to sanctify.

The cross is not only the meritorious cause of all
salvation—but is the instrumental cause of all
sanctification. As there is no other way of salvation
than by the blood of the cross—so there is no other
way of holiness than by the power of the cross.

Through the cross, that is, through union and
communion with Him who suffered upon it, not
only is there a fountain opened for all sin—but
for all uncleanness!

All our . . .
  pardon and peace,
  acceptance and justification,
  happiness and holiness,
  wisdom and strength,
  victory over the world,
  mortification of the body of sin and death,
  hope and confidence,
  prayer and praise,
  gracious feelings,
  spiritual desires,
  warm supplications,
  honest confessions,
  godly sorrows for sin,
spring from the cross!

At the cross alone can we . . .
  be made wise unto salvation,
  become righteous by a free justification,
  receive of His Spirit to make us holy, and
  be redeemed and delivered from . . .
    sin, Satan, death and hell.

To the cross we are to bring . . .
  our sorrows,
  our trials,
  our temptations,
  our sufferings,
to get life from His death,
pardon and peace from His atoning blood,
justification from His divine obedience, and
resignation to the will of God from His holy example.

At the cross alone is . . .
  the world crucified to us, and we to the world;
  sin mortified, and its reigning power dethroned;
  the old man crucified and put off, and the new man put on.

For the most part, it is only through a long series of . . .
  pains of body and mind,
  hot furnaces, and
  deep waters,
as sanctified to his soul's profit by the Holy Spirit,
that the child of God comes to the cross.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The kingship of Christ

(J. C. Philpot, "Meditations on the Blessed Redeemer")

"King of kings and Lord of lords!" Revelation 19:16

The kingship of Christ is full of sweet consolation to
the tried family of God. As Zion's enthroned King, He
supplies His people out of His own inexhaustible fullness!

To Him, as our enthroned King, we give the allegiance
of our hearts. Before His feet, as our rightful Sovereign,
we humbly lie. And we beg of Him, as possessed of all
power, to subdue our iniquities and rebellious lusts, and
sway His peaceful scepter over every faculty of our soul.

The kingship of Christ is a blessed subject of meditation,
when we consider its bearing upon our helpless, defenseless
condition. We stand surrounded by foes . . .
all armed against us with deadly enmity!

Every child of God is surrounded by a multitude of enemies
without and within, who, unless they are overcome—will
most certainly overcome him. And to be overcome is to be
lost, forever lost, and to perish under the wrath of God!

What hope or help can we have, but in . . .
  that all-seeing eye, which sees our condition;
  that all-sympathizing heart, which feels for us;
  that all-powerful hand, which delivers the objects of
His love from all the snares and traps—and defeats all
the plans and projects of these mighty, implacable foes?

We daily and hourly feel the workings of our . . .
  mighty sins,
  raging lusts,
  powerful temptations,
  besetting evils,
against the least and feeblest of which, we have no strength!

But as the eye of faith views our enthroned King,
we are led by the power of His grace to . . .
  look unto Him,
  hang upon Him, and
  seek help from Him.

Trials in providence,
afflictions in the family,
sickness and infirmities in the body,
opposition and persecution from the world,
a vile, unbelieving heart, which we can neither sanctify nor subdue,
a rough and rugged path, increasing in difficulty as we journey onward,
doubts, fears, and misgivings in our own bosom,
inward slips and falls,
startings aside,
hourly backslidings from the strait and narrow path,
jealous enemies ever watching for our halting,
with no eye to pity, nor arm to help—but the Lord's!

How all these foes and fears make us feel our need
of an enthroned King, Head and Husband . . .
  whose tender heart is soft to pity,
  whose mighty arm is strong to relieve!

We should be ever looking up to our enthroned King,
not only that He might sway His scepter over our hearts,
controlling our rebellious wills, and subduing us to His
gentle might; but as King over all our enemies—of which
our internal foes are much more numerous and mighty
than any external enemies!

When we feel the power of sin, the tyranny of our vile
lusts and passions, and what our nature is capable of
if left to its own will and way—how sweet and suitable
is the promise, "You will again have compassion on us;
You will subdue our iniquities and hurl all our sins into
the depths of the sea!" Micah 7:19

"We are powerless against this mighty army that is
 attacking us! We do not know what to do, but we
 are looking to You for help." 2 Chronicles 20:12

"The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save!"
     Zephaniah 3:17

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The chief burden of the Lord's children

(Philpot, "Meditations on the Adorable Redeemer")

The chief burden of the Lord's children is sin. This
is the main cause of all their sighs and groans, from
the first quickening breath of the Spirit of God in
their hearts until they lay down their bodies in dust.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The wrath of God due to them fell upon Him!

(J. C. Philpot, "Jesus, the Great High Priest")

"God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us." 2 Cor. 5:21

"Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the
, that He might bring us to God." 1 Peter 3:18

If we would we see, feel, and realize the exceeding
sinfulness of sin, it is not by viewing the lightnings
and hearing the thunders of Sinai's fiery top—but in
seeing the agony and bloody sweat, and hearing the
groans and cries of the suffering Son of God, as made
sin for us—in the garden and upon the cross.

To look upon Him whom we have pierced will fill heart
and eyes with godly sorrow for sin, and a holy mourning
for and over a martyred, injured Lord. (Zech. 13:10.)

To see, by the eye of faith, as revealed to the soul by the
power of God—the darling Son of God bound, scourged,
buffeted, spit upon, mocked—and then, as the climax of
cruel scorn and infernal cruelty, crucified between two
thieves—this believing sight of the sufferings of Christ,
will melt the hardest heart into contrition and repentance.

But when we see, by the eye of faith, that this was the
smallest part of His sufferings—that there were depths of
soul trouble and of intolerable distress and agony from the
hand of God as a consuming fire, as the inflexible justice
and righteous indignation against sin, and that our blessed
Lord had to endure the wrath of God until He was poured
out like water, and His soft, tender heart in the flames of
indignation became like wax, and melted within Him—then
we can in some measure conceive what He undertook in
becoming a sin offering. For as all the sins of His people
were put upon Him—the wrath of God due to them fell
upon Him!

No less real, and far more severe, were the agonies of His
soul—for the wrath of God in the Redeemer's heart was
as real as the nails that pierced His hands and feet!

When the sins of the elect were found on Christ, justice
viewed Him and treated Him as the guilty criminal. Separation
from God, under a sense of His terrible displeasure on account
of sin—that abominable thing which His holy soul hates—is not
this hell? This, then, was the hell experienced by the suffering
Redeemer when the Lord laid on Him the iniquities of us all.

What heart can conceive or tongue express what must have
been the feelings of the Redeemer's soul when He, the beloved
Son of God, who who had lain in the bosom of the Father from
all eternity, was by imputation, made a sinner—the deep wounds
of suffering love felt by the Son of God when His Father, His own
Father, hid His face from Him?

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

A gracious influence

(J. C. Philpot, "Jesus, the Great High Priest")

The love of Jesus has a gracious influence on the life,
conduct, and conversation of a true believer. The tree
is known by its fruit; and those branches alone which
bring forth fruit unto God, are in manifest union with
the only true Vine.

Love to Jesus is the constraining principle of all holy
"If you love Me, keep my commandments,"
was His dying injunction to His disciples. As, then, His
bleeding love is experimentally known, there will be . . .
  a conformity to His image,
  an obedience to His will,
  a walking in His footsteps.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

At the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ

(J. C. Philpot)

By the death Jesus, all our horrible filth and defilement,
however black, monstrous, aggravated and abominable,
however deep and dreadful, was thoroughly and forever . . .
  put away,
  cast behind God's back,
  blotted out as a thick cloud, and
  drowned in the depths of the sea!

In the pierced hands, and feet and side of Immanuel,
a fountain was opened for all sin and uncleanness!

At the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ . . .
  justice and mercy met together,
  righteousness and peace kissed each other,
  mercy rejoiced over judgment,
  grace abounded over sin!

Justice, with all its inflexible requisitions, was thoroughly
satisfied; the law, with all its holy, unbending demands
fully magnified; every perfection of God eternally glorified;
every apparently barring attribute entirely harmonized; so
that Jehovah, in all the blaze of ineffable purity, majesty,
power, and holiness—can now be just, infinitely just—and
yet the justifier of those who believe in Jesus.

Here, then, at the foot of the cross, is pardon and peace
for guilty criminals! Here is thorough justification for the
self-condemned and self-abhorred! Here is salvation,
complete and everlasting, for all the redeemed family of
God! Here is a fountain, ever open, full and free! Here is
a robe, in which the spouse of Jesus stands without blemish
and without spot before the throne of God! Here mercy is
magnified forever! Here dying love displays itself in all its
breadth, and length, and depth, and height! Here grace,
all-glorious, all-triumphant grace, reigns unto eternal life,
by Jesus Christ our Lord!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Authority, glory and sovereign power!

(J. C. Philpot, "Jesus, the Enthroned King")

"Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns!" Rev. 19:6

The unlimited dominion of King Jesus extends over . . .
  all things,
  all events,
  all circumstances,
  all people!
All are subjected to the sovereign control of the King
of kings and Lord of lords!

Everywhere on this earthly globe—as far as waves roll,
winds blow, sun shines, or stars hold on their nightly
courses—does the scepter of Jesus sway the destinies,
and control the designs and actions of men.

"He was given authority, glory and sovereign power;
 all peoples, nations and men of every language obey
 Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will
 not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never
 be destroyed!" Daniel 7:14

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The Excellency of Prayer

(By William Huntington, in a letter to a friend. This quote is longer—but it is choice.)

Prayer is the blessed means which God has appointed to bring every grace from Christ to the believer. The believer is to let his requests be made known unto God, and for his encouragement God says that the prayer of the upright is His delight. Yes, He says that He loves to hear it. "Let Me hear your voice, let Me see your face! For your voice is pleasant, and you are lovely!"

Prayer is the casting of our cares and burdens on the Lord. It is the pouring out of the soul before Him, the presenting of our troubles to Him. Prayer is communing and corresponding with Christ—and receiving grace from His fullness to help in every time of need. It is keeping open the communion between the Lord and His people. Prayer is their way of paying morning and evening visits to the King of kings and Lord of lords! It is their means of cultivating and keeping up perfect friendship with a Friend who loves at all times—and therefore it should never be neglected.

Prayer is pouring out the soul unto God and placing before Him our troubles. It is "casting all our cares upon Him who cares for us."—and our burdens upon Him in whom we have "righteousness and strength." Prayer is opening the heart, the mind, and the mouth to Him who has said, "Call upon Me in the day of trouble! I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me." It is besieging the everlasting kingdom, moving the throne of grace and knocking importunately at the door of mercy—encouraged by the promise, "Knock and it shall be opened unto you."

In prayer we must take no denial. If we have but a feeling sense of our needs, and a Scripture warrant of a promise to plead, we must argue, reason, plead, supplicate, intercede, confess, acknowledge, thank, bless, praise, adore, repeat, importune, watch, and take hold of whatever may be of use to the soul. Sinners, sensible of their lost estate by nature, who feel their need and poverty, have many invitations, encouragements, precedents and promises. They have, under the teachings of the Holy Spirit, to plead and rely upon the covenant of Jehovah, the oath of God; the merits of Christ and all His covenant engagements, undertakings and performances; the covenant characters He sustains; His near relationship to them—together with all the glorious train of Divine perfections found in the proclamation of the Name of God to Moses (Ex. 34:6,7)—for these all sweetly harmonize and brightly shine in Christ crucified—who has never once yet disappointed the hope of a penitent sinner, but has graciously said, "Come unto Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest!" His promises, like Himself, are unchangeable, and this is one of them—"The one who comes unto Me, I will never cast out."

Private prayer is the Christian's court-visit to his God—the life and breath of his soul. It is the ascent of the heart to the Almighty—and its returns are the descent of Christ to be the soul's help!

Prayer is the assuagement of grief, the easement of a burdened heart, and the vent of a joyful heart. It is the rich aroma of mystical incense, the overflowing of a living fountain, an all-prevailing sacrifice, and the delight of the Almighty! Moreover, prayer is the greatest, most blessed and most glorious privilege, with which perishing sinners ever were favored!

Prayer is a defense against the spirit of this world, a bar to the inroads of vanity, a maul upon the head of the 'old man', and a lash of scorpions for the devil. It is a bridle in the jaws of a persecutor, a triumph over a voracious enemy, a dagger to the heart of a heretic, a key to parables and difficult Scriptures, and a battering-ram on the walls of salvation—for "the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it."

Prayer uncloses the bountiful hand of God, opens the door of mercy, retains Christ on the throne of the affections, and covers every rival and usurper with shame and confusion of face! It is the believer's Royal Exchange, where he may take his cares, burdens, snares and troubles; his vexations, temptations, doubts and fears; his misgivings of heart, sorrows of mind, hardness of heart and ingratitude; together with his faintness, unbelief, and rebellion; also all his spiritual disorders—the leprosy of sin, the evil within, the plague of his heart, the plague of his head, his deaf ears, blind eyes, feeble knees, languid hands, halting feet and stiff neck! He may take all his sins there get rid of—and leave them all!

In return for their troubles, believers receive from their heavenly Banker numberless deliverances, blessings and mercies; many spiritual refreshings, renewings, revivals and restorations; large returns of comfort, peace, love and joy; together with fresh discoveries, love tokens, wholesome truths, profound mysteries, glorious glimpses, bright prospects, celestial views, undoubted evidences, heavenly lessons; conspicuous deliverances, pledges and foretastes; reviving cordials; valuable banknotes in "exceeding great and precious promises," payable this very day, and every day—and even to millions of ages afterwards—signed, sealed, and delivered by Jehovah Himself—the "God who cannot lie!"

Prayer has often scattered the confederate enemies of the soul, marred the schemes of opponents, frustrated the tales of liars, and made false teachers mad. Prayer counteracts the designs of Satan and his emissaries. It has made the believer to be an enemy to the world, the successful rival of deceivers, the envy of hypocrites, an eye-sore to the devil, the admiration of perishing sinners, a spectacle to the world—and a wonder to himself! He prays to his Father in secret, and his Father who sees in secret has engaged to reward him openly.

By prayer the spiritual pauper comes up from the dust, and the beggar up from the ash-heap—to sit among the princes of God's people, and inherit the throne of glory!

Prayer in faith has brought in countless providential mercies, as well as spiritual blessings. God could have granted them all without asking, but has condescended to honor the exercise of prayer by saying, "For all these things I will be inquired of by the house of Israel—that I may do it for them."

Prayer engages the Almighty on the side of the suppliant, and establishes an alliance with God. "All things are possible to him who believes." "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." Prayer has brought health to the sick, hearing to the deaf, speech to the mute, eyes to the blind, life to the dead, salvation to the lost; and has even driven the devil himself from the hearts of many—and brought the God of heaven to dwell in his place.

Prayer is God's appointment, the Spirit's gift, the believer's privilege, and the scourge of Satan! Therefore, prize it and use it!

God is well-pleased, and receives with pleasure, approbation, and delight—all who approach His throne of grace, sensible of their needs—in the name of Christ crucified. Hence faith in Christ becomes the only way of access to God—all other avenues are stopped up! The sword of justice is brandished to keep every other way to the tree of life closed. In Christ, we may come with boldness to the throne of grace; there is no obstacle, no hindrance, in this way. The sword of justice is sheathed, the law magnified, the ransom price paid, the devil dethroned, sin expiated, wrath endured, God well-pleased, sinners redeemed, enemies reconciled—that the Lord God might dwell among them!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The great goddess Diana

(Edward Payson, 1783-1827)

"The great goddess Diana." Acts 19:27

They started shouting again and kept it up for
 two hours: "Great is Diana of the Ephesians!
 Great is Diana of the Ephesians!" Acts 19:34

So long as they remain in their natural state, the
world is, in some form or other, the great goddess
—the grand idol of all its inhabitants.

They bow down to it.

They worship it.

They spend and are spent for it.

They educate their children in its service.

Their hearts,
their minds,
their memories,
their imaginations,
are full of it.

Their tongues speak of it.

Their hands grasp it.

Their feet pursue it.

In a word, it is all in all to them; while they
give scarcely a word, a look, or a thought to
Him who made and preserves them—and
who really is all in all.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Amusements, pleasures & gaieties of the world

(John Abbott, "The Christian Mother")

It is not necessary for us to search for happiness
in dangerous and forbidden paths. The young,
inexperienced in the dangers of the world, often
wonder why their pious parents are so unwilling
that they should acquire a fondness for worldly
—which appear so innocent and
pleasing to their youthful hearts.

Parents! Cultivate in your children a taste for pure and
noble pleasures—instead of a love of worldly gaiety.
Pure and noble pleasures last. They wear well. They
leave no sting behind. The pleasures of worldliness
and gaiety do not wear well. They exhaust the powers
of body and mind, and all the capacities of enjoyment,
prematurely—and leave a sting behind. That is the
reason why the Word of God condemns them—and
why Christians abstain from them.

He who acquires a taste for the amusements, pleasures
and gaieties of the world
—will find his earthly happiness
greatly impaired, and will be exposed to temptations
which will greatly endanger his eternal well-being.

These worldly amusements are all of the same general
character—leading to peculiar temptations. They all tend
to destroy the taste for those quiet, domestic enjoyments,
which, when cultivated, grow brighter and brighter every
year—and which confer increasing solace and joy when
youth has fled, and old age, and sickness, and misfortune
come. Christian parents endeavor to guard their children
against acquiring a taste for these worldly pleasures,
because they foresee that these amusements will, in the
end, disappoint them—and they can lead them in a safer
path—and one infinitely more promotive of their happiness!

The true Christian has experienced the folly of a life of
worldly pleasure
. There are thousands who were once the
devotees of worldly gaiety—and they will tell you, that,
since they have abandoned their former pursuits, and
sought happiness in different objects, and cultivated a
taste for different pleasures, they have found peace and
satisfaction, which they never knew before—and they
have no more disposition to turn back to these gaieties,
than they have to resume the rattles of babyhood!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The influence of example

(John Abbott, "The Christian Mother")

"Be an example . . . in speech, in the way you live,
 in your love, your faith, and your purity." 1 Tim. 4:12

The mother must strive to be herself, just what she
wishes her child to be. She must cherish in her own
spirit those virtues and those graces, which she desires
to see as the embellishments of the character of her child.
Our children have more right to expect that we shall be
model parents—than we have to require that they shall
be model children.

Words alone are air. They fall upon the ear, and are forgotten.
But who ever forgets abiding, consistent, unvarying example?
What child ever ceases to remember the life—the daily life,
of its father and mother?

The ornaments and graces of the natural character can best
be inculcated upon children through the influence of example.
Would you have your daughter learn to control her passions,
and cultivate a subdued, gentle, and submissive spirit? Would
you have her speak soothingly to her little brother, when he is
irritated, and bear her own little troubles without fretfulness
or complaining? Show her how to do it by your example!

In the same manner, all other right moral sentiments of heart,
can be best cultivated through the influence of parental example.

The great work of the formation of the character of children,
should be done in the heart of the mother herself. I am to
teach my child to avoid vanity, and pride, and selfishness—by
cultivating within myself, with never-tiring industry, the spirit
of meekness, of humility, of self-sacrifice. It is thus, more
effectually than in any other way, that I am to reach and
influence his heart.

So I am to curb the impetuous passions of my child, mainly
by gaining the victory over myself, and bringing all my own
passions under perfect control. It is thus within myself—it is
in my own heart, that I can work most effectually in molding
the character of my children; for in promoting their moral
progress I must go before them and lead the way.

What fearful questions, then, arise in the mind of every parent?
Am I what I wish my child to be? Am I grateful, submissive,
cheerful? Have I conquered my passions—obtained weanedness
from the world—and am I daily, in my life, presenting an example
such as my child may safely imitate?

Here lies the great work of parental faithfulness. Here is to
be laid the deep foundations of all salutary family discipline.
Thus did our Savior plead. Such was the influence He wielded.
Persuasive as were His words—infinitely more persuasive
was the power of His example!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

This world is fading away!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Stop loving this evil world and all that it
 offers you!"  1 John 2:15

Hate the world, value its treasure at a cheap
price, estimate its gems as nothing but fakes,
and its strength as nothing but dreams.

Do not think that you will lose any pleasure,
but rather remember the saying of that early
Church leader Chrysostom . . .
"Despise riches, and you will be rich;
 despise glory, and you will be glorious;
 despise injuries, and you will be a conqueror;
 despise rest, and you will gain rest;
 despise the earth, and you will gain heaven!"

"This world is fading away, along with everything
 it craves. But if you do the will of God, you will
 live forever!" 1 John 2:17

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Written in illegible letters

(Andrew Gray, 1634-1656,
"Christ Precious to Believers)

Love is written in illegible letters upon
the cross—and only faith can read them.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Adam's rib

(Matthew Henry)

"Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib
 He had taken out of the man, and He brought
 her to the man." Genesis 2:22

Eve was not taken out of Adam's head to top him,
neither out of his feet to be trampled on by him;
but out of his side to be equal with him,
under his arm to be protected by him,
and near his heart to be loved by him.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Ah! what is to hold them back from evil!

(David Magie, "Advice to Youth" 1855)

Young people, you are in danger! In danger
from inward corruption and outward temptation!
In danger from your own native bias to evil, and
from the traps which are set for your feet!

It is proper for me to raise the voice of alarm.

It is enough to make one's heart bleed to see
multitudes of ardent, aspiring youth cast upon
the world, with its ten thousand allurements and
snares! Ah! what is to hold them back from evil!
How are they to be kept from the paths of the
destroyer? If God does not interpose, it would
seem as if they must inevitably perish!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

I wonder why my children do not obey me better?

(John Abbott, "The Christian Mother", 1833)

Obedience is absolutely essential to proper family government.
Without this, all other efforts will be in vain. You may pray with,
and for your children; you may strive to instruct them in religious
truth; you may be unwearied in your efforts to make them happy,
and to gain their affection. But if they are in habits of disobedience,
your instructions will be lost, and your toil in vain. And by obedience,
I do not mean languid and dilatory yielding to repeated threats—but
prompt and cheerful acquiescence to parental commands. Neither is
it enough that a child should yield to your arguments and persuasions.
It is essential that he should submit to your authority.

The first thing therefore to be aimed at, is to bring your child under
total subjection
. Teach him that he must obey you. Sometimes give
him your reasons; withhold them at other times. But let him perfectly
understand that he is to do as he is told. Accustom him to immediate
and cheerful acquiescence to your will. This is obedience. And this is
absolutely essential to good family government. Without this, your
family will present one continued scene of noise and confusion—the
toil of rearing up your children will be almost intolerable—and, in all
probability, your heart will be broken by their future licentiousness or

Never give a command which you do not intend shall be obeyed!
There is no more effectual way of teaching a child disobedience, than
by giving commands which you have no intention of enforcing. A child
is thus habituated to disregard its mother; and in a short time the
habit becomes so strong, and the child's contempt for the mother so
confirmed, that entreaties and threats are alike unheeded.

"Mary, let that book alone," says a mother to her little daughter,
who is trying to pull the book from the table.

Mary stops for a moment, and then takes hold of the book again.

Pretty soon the mother looks up and sees that Mary is still playing
with the book. "Did not you hear me tell you to let that book alone?"
she exclaims: "Why don't you obey?"

Mary takes away her hand for a moment, but is soon again at her
forbidden amusement. By and by, down comes the book upon the
floor. Up jumps the mother, and hastily giving the child a passionate
blow, exclaims, "There then, obey me next time!" The child screams,
and the mother picks up the book, saying, "I wonder why my
children do not obey me better?

This is not a very interesting family scene, but every one of my
readers will admit that it is not an uncommon one. And is it
strange that a child, thus managed, should be disobedient? No!
She is actually led on by her mother to insubordination—she is
actually trained to pay no heed to her directions. Even the improper
punishment which sometimes follows transgression, is not inflicted
on account of her disobedience, but for the accidental consequences.
In the case above described, had the book not fallen, the disobedience
of the child would have passed unpunished. Let it be an immutable
principle in family government—that your word is law!

The principle of government is simple and plain. It is to begin with
enforcing obedience to every command. It is to establish the principle
that a mother's word is never to be disregarded. Every judicious mother
will, indeed, try to gratify her children in their reasonable wishes. She
will study to make them happy; but she will never allow them to gratify
themselves in contradiction to her wishes.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Sheep or swine?

(John Ensor)

"The swine that has been washed returns to
 wallow in the mire." 2 Peter 2:22

Sheep and swine can both end up in the mire.
Yet the essential difference in their two natures
is quite visible from the reaction each has to its
fallen condition. While sheep do stray and stumble
into the mire, they quickly loathe the situation and
struggle to get free. They may be dirty, but they
desire to be clean. They may be stuck, but they
bleat for their shepherd to come and save them
out of the muck. But swine, in keeping with their
nature, wallow in the muck, content to stay there
all day.

"The swine that has been washed returns to
 wallow in the mire." 2 Peter 2:22

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

When men have ridden the high horse

(Charles Spurgeon)

"I hate pride and arrogance!" Proverbs 8:13

"Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before
 a fall." Proverbs 16:18

The wise man teaches us that a haughty heart is the
prophetic prelude of a downfall. When men have ridden
the high horse
, destruction has always overtaken them.

See Nebuchadnezzar, the mighty builder of Babylon,
creeping on the ground, devouring grass like oxen,
until his nails had grown like bird's claws, and his hair
like eagle's feathers. Pride made the boaster a beast;
as once before it made an angel a devil.

God hates proud looks, and never fails to bring them down!

All the arrows of God are aimed at proud hearts!

O Christian, is your heart haughty? Are you glorying in your
graces or your abilities? Are you proud of yourself, that you
have had holy frames and sweet experiences? Mark it, there
is a destruction coming to you also! Your 'flaunting poppies
of self-conceit' will be pulled up by the roots! Your 'mushroom
graces' will wither in the burning heat! Your self-sufficiency
shall become as straw for the ash-heap!

If you forget to live at the foot of the cross in deepest
lowliness of spirit, God will chasten you with His rod. A
destruction will come to you, O exalted believer—the
destruction of your joys and of your comforts, though
there can be no destruction of your soul.

"The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of
this: They will not go unpunished." Proverbs 16:5

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Sharper scourges tear His heart!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"He had Jesus scourged, and handed Him over to be
 crucified." Mark 15:15

Pilate delivered our Lord to the lictors to be scourged.
The Roman scourge was a most dreadful instrument of
torture. Sharp bones were inter-twisted in the whip, so
that every time the lash came down, these pieces of bone
inflicted fearful lacerations, and tore off the flesh! The
Savior was, no doubt, bound to the column, and thus
beaten. He had been beaten before; but this scourging
by the the Roman lictors was probably the most severe
of His flagellations. My soul, stand here and weep over
His poor stricken body!

Believer in Jesus, can you gaze upon Him without tears,
as He stands before you—the picture of agonizing love?

He is at once fair as the lily for innocence—and red as
the rose with the crimson of His own blood. As we feel
the sure and blessed healing which His stripes have
wrought in us, does not our heart melt at once with
love and grief? If ever we have loved our Lord Jesus,
surely we must feel that affection glowing now within
our bosoms!

"See how the patient Jesus stands,
Insulted in His lowest case.
Sinners have bound the Almighty's hands,
And spit in their Creator's face!

With thorns His temples gored and gashed,
Send streams of blood from every part.
His back's with knotted scourges lashed,
But sharper scourges tear His heart!"

We would readily go to our chambers and weep and
pray our Beloved to imprint the image of His bleeding
self upon the tablets of our hearts—and sorrow that
our sin should have cost Him so dear!

"With His stripes we are healed!" Isaiah 53:5

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The heart of an unbeliever

(Jonathan Edwards, "Men Naturally God's Enemies")

"They cursed the God of heaven for their
 pains and sores. But they refused to repent
 of all their evil deeds." Revelation 16:11

The heart of an unbeliever is like a viper,
hissing and spitting poison at God!

When unbelievers come to be cast into hell,
then their malice against God will fully appear.
Then their hearts will appear as full of malice,
as hell is full of fire. When they come to be in
hell, there will be no new corruptions put into
their heart; but only that their old ones will
then break forth without restraint.

That is all the difference between an unbeliever
on earth—and an unbeliever in hell. In hell there
will be more to stir up the exercise of corruption,
and less to restrain it, than on earth. But there
will be no new corruption put in. An unbelieving
man will have no principle of corruption in hell,
but that which he carried to hell with him. Men
now have the seeds of all the malice against
God, that they will exercise in hell.

The malice of damned spirits is but a branch of
the root that is in the hearts of unbelievers now.

A unbeliever has a heart like the heart of a devil.
Only the corruption is presently more under
restraint in man, than in devils.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Sacred picklocks!

(Charles Spurgeon)

Whenever you cannot understand a text, open your
Bible, bend your knee, and pray over that text; and if
it does not split into atoms and open itself, try again.

If prayer does not explain it, it is one of the things
God did not intend for you to know, and you may be
content to be ignorant of it.

Prayer is the key that opens the cabinets of mystery!

Prayer and faith are sacred picklocks that can open
secrets, and obtain great treasures! There is no college
for holy education like that of the blessed Spirit, for He is
an ever-present tutor, to whom we have only to bend the
knee, and He is at our side, the great expositor of truth!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

God's jewels

(Robert Leighton)

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

God has many sharp cutting instruments for polishing
His jewels. Those who need the most polishing, He has
most often to use His tools.

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