Grace Gems for MAY 2005

All the fickleness, sinfulness, and unworthiness

(Octavius Winslow, "The Divine Attributes Entwining
 Around the Tempted and Trembling Believer")

"I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is
 why you descendants of Jacob are not already
 completely destroyed." Malachi 3:6

The believer may change, but his covenant God
never alters. The believer's feelings may vary, but
his Father's love never veers. God loved him from
all eternity, and that love extends to all eternity.

As God never loved His child for anything He saw,
or would see, in that child—so His love never
changes for all the fickleness, sinfulness, and
unworthiness, He daily and hourly discovers.

O where would the soul fly but for this truth?

When it takes into account the sins, the follies,
the departures, the flaws of but one week; yes,
when it reviews the history of but one day, and
sees enough sin in a thought to sink it to eternal
and just perdition! But for an unchangeable God,
to what consolation would it resort?

"I have loved you, My people, with an everlasting
 love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to
 Myself." Jeremiah 31:3

A few feet of earth will suffice

(J. C. Ryle, "Our Souls!")

"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the
 whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall
 a man give in exchange for his soul?" Mark 8:36-37

Nothing in the present life can make up for the loss
of the soul. You may have all the riches of the world
—all the gold of Australia and of California—all the
honors which your country can bestow upon you. You
may be the owner of half a continent. You may be one
whom kings delight to honor, and nations gaze upon
with admiration. But all this time, if you are losing
your soul, you are a poor man in the sight of God!
Your honors are but for a few years. Your riches must
be left at last. Naked you came into the world, and
naked you must go out. Of all your money or broad
acres, you will carry nothing with you when you die!
A few feet of earth will suffice
to cover that body of
yours when life is over! And then, if your soul is lost,
you will find yourself a pauper to all eternity! Truly it
shall profit a man nothing to gain the whole world, if
he loses his own soul.

The value of all things will change greatly one day.
The hour comes when money shall be worth no more
than waste paper; and gold and diamonds shall be as
the dust of the streets—when the palace of the noble,
and the cottage of the peasant shall both alike fall to
the ground. In that hour you will find out, in a way you
never found out before—the value of your immortal soul.
Soul-loss will then be seen to be the greatest of losses,
and soul-gain the greatest of gains!

Pointing or leading?

(John Angell James, 1785—1859)

Children have their eyes always upon their parents,
and are quick to discern any violations of consistency.
If they see us as worldly-minded, as grasping and
anxious after riches, as solicitous to be surrounded
by splendid furniture, luxurious gratifications, and
fashionable habits, as the people of the world—if
they see us deceitful, implacable, or malicious—what
can they conclude but that our religion is mere sham?

In such a case, of how little service is our attempt
to impress upon their minds, those claims which we
ourselves 'practically' deny? It were far better for some
parents to say nothing to their children about religion,
for until they alter their own conduct, their admonitions
can produce no other effect than to excite disgust!

It is enough to make every parent tremble—to think
what a parent should be! Without a godly example,
everything else that we do is most lamentably deficient!
As has been often said, it is only pointing them the
way to heaven—but leading them in the way to hell!

They slay their own children!

(J. A. James, "To Young Mothers")

A mother should never forget that those little engaging
creatures which play about the room so gaily and so
innocently, with all the unconsciousness of childhood, are
young immortals—beings destined to eternity—creatures
placed on earth on probation for heaven—and that much
will depend upon her
, whether the everlasting ages shall
be spent by them in torment—or in bliss!

This is an overwhelming thought!

All should realize the sublime idea that . . .
  their houses are the schools for eternity;
  their children the scholars;
  themselves the teachers; and
  evangelical religion the lesson.

Those parents who neglect the religious education
of their children, whatever else they may impart,
are more guilty than Herod!

He slew the children of others,
they slay their own children!

He slew only the body,
they slay the soul!

He slew them by hired assassins,
they slay their children themselves!

We shudder at the cruelties of those who sacrificed
their babes to Moloch. But how much more dreadful
an immolation do they practice, who offer up their
sons and daughters to Satan
, by neglecting the
education of their souls, and leaving them to grow
up in ignorance of God and their eternal destiny!

Mothers! Your religion, if it is genuine, will teach you
at once the greatness of the work, and your own
insufficiency to perform it aright in your own strength.
Your business is to train immortal beings for God,
heaven, and eternity!

The domestic slave

(J. A. James, "Female Piety—The Young Woman's
Guide Through Life to Immortality

There are various kinds of slavery in the world, and
many classes of victims of this cruel bondage. There is
among others, the domestic slave, whose tyrant is her
husband—and the scene of her bondage, her home!

His stinginess allows her scanty supplies for bare
necessities. His selfishness is so engrossing and exacting,
that his demands for his own personal ease and indulgence
are incessant, and leave her no time for the consideration
of her own comfort. His disposition is so bad, that all her
diligence to please are unavailing to give him satisfaction,
or to avert the sallies of his irritability, discontent, and

When such a man protests against Negro-slavery, let him
begin the work of emancipation at home, by raising the
oppressed woman he holds in bondage there, from the
condition of a drudge—into the station of a wife!

But there are also many sad cases in which the slavery is
The bondage comes from the wife herself!
The husband would gladly release her—but she will not
let him!

Some are slaves to neatness—and make their fidgety
anxiety about this matter a misery to themselves and
all around them!

Others are slaves to fashion—and are always anxious
and troubled about elegance and refinement!

Others are slaves to domestic display, parties and
—and are always full of anxiety about
making a splendid appearance!

Others are slaves to frugality—and are ever vexing
themselves to economize!

In these ways women will torment themselves and fill
their minds with unnecessary cares and self-imposed
troubles! To all such we say, "Martha, Martha, you are
anxious and troubled about so many things!"

A hideous skeleton!
A collection of bones!
A heap of dust!

(J. A. James, "Female Piety—The Young Woman's
Guide Through Life to Immortality

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty
 that depends on fancy hairstyles, expensive
 jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should be
 known for the beauty that comes from within,
 the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit,
 which is so precious to God." 1 Peter 3:3-4

How exquisitely is this put! How impressive the ideas
which are conveyed! It is the decoration of the soul
rather than of the body, about which Christian women
should be chiefly solicitous and concerned.

The soul is indestructible and immortal—so should its
ornaments be. What can jewels of silver or jewels of
gold do for the soul?

Can the diamond sparkle upon the intellect?
Or the ruby blaze upon the heart?
Or the pearl be set in the conscience?
Or the gorgeous robe clothe the character?
Or the flower wave over the holy nature?

No! The appropriate ornaments of the soul are truth,
holiness, knowledge, faith, hope, love, joy, humility;
and all the other gifts and graces of the Spirit—wisdom,
prudence, fortitude and gentleness. These are the jewels
with which the inner heart should be adorned. The outer
body is corruptible. Dust it is, and unto dust it shall return.

That beautiful woman glittering in all the profusion of
diamonds—the admiration and envy of the party or the
ball room—must before long be a mass of putrefaction
too ghastly to be looked upon—and then a hideous
skeleton, a collection of bones, a heap of dust!

And where will be the immortal spirit? Will it wear
the cast-off jewels of the body? O no! These remain,
rescued from the grasp of the 'king of terrors', but
only to ornament other bodies!

But turn now to that other female, the woman who,
regardless of the decoration of the body, was all
intent upon the beauty of the soul. Look at her,
who was clothed with the robe of righteousness
and the garment of salvation, and decorated with
the ornaments of a gentle and quiet spirit.

She too dies; but her indestructible and immortal
soul over which death has no dominion, goes not
unadorned into the presence of the Eternal; for the
jewels with which it decorated itself on earth are as
indestructible as its own nature, and go with it to
shine in the presence of God!

All taken up with fashion, amusement, and folly!

(J. A. James, "Female Piety—The Young Woman's
Guide Through Life to Immortality

"Make the teaching about God our Savior attractive
 in every way.
" Titus 2:10

It is a solemn thing to profess to be a disciple of Christ.

It supposes you to be a new creature, that old things
have passed away, and that all things have become
new with you.

It supposes that you have . . .
  new principles,
  new motives,
  new ends of life,
  new tastes and new pleasures.

Now, your profession is to be maintained with a due
regard to this. Your conduct must correspond with it.

You must be dissimilar in these things, to those who
make no such profession. They must see the difference
as well as hear of it. You must compel them to say,
"Well, we do not like her religion, but it is quite in
harmony with her profession."

Study your profession, and thoroughly understand
what it implies and enjoins. Consider well . . .
  what holiness of conduct;
  what spirituality of mind;
  what separation from the world in spirit and taste;
  what devotional feelings;
  what faith, hope, love and humility;
  what amiableness and kindness of disposition,
are included in that declaration you have actually
made—"I am a Christian!"

She who is bent upon eternity, cannot sink down into
the levity of those who are all taken up with fashion,
amusement, and folly!

The possessor of true religion is satisfied with her
own sources of enjoyment, without running to the
amusements of the world for pleasure and excitement.

One of the loveliest scenes

(J. A. James, "Female Piety—The Young Woman's
Guide Through Life to Immortality

A married couple without mutual love, is one of
the most pitiable spectacles on earth!
remain united only to be a torment to each other!

A loving, united, harmonious family, where the
children all promote the comfort of their parents
and of one another; where each is studious to
please and to perform all fond kindnesses for the
rest, and all seek the happiness of each other, is
one of the loveliest scenes
to be found in our
selfish and discordant world!

So much time thrown away on these elegant trifles!

(J. A. James, "Christian Zeal")

"Redeeming the time, because the days are evil." Eph. 5:16

There are three things which, if lost, can never
be recovered—time, the soul, and an opportunity.

In order to be useful, it is necessary to cultivate habits
of order, punctuality, and the right employment of time.

There is no doing good without the proper use of time.

Two things cannot be done at once. Benevolent service
requires time. And how much time is wasted, which the
miseries and needs of society require! "Redeem the time!"
is a warning that should ever be sounding in our ears!

We need time for the improvement of our own souls—and
we need it for the good of others. We can do much with a
proper use of time—and nothing without it. There is scarcely
anything to which the injunction of our Lord more strictly
applies than to time—"Gather up the fragments that nothing
be lost." Order redeems time, so does punctuality—therefore
order and punctuality are ways of supplying the time
necessary for the exercise of deeds of mercy.

Redeem time from useless reading, and other selfish
entertainments—and also from that excessive addictedness
to the worldly accomplishments of music, arts, and fancy
craft-works, which are so characteristic of the present day.
That some portion of time may be given to these things is
admitted. I am not for parting with the exquisite polish which
skill in these matters imparts to female elegance. I love to
see the decorations of female mind and manners. Of this I
may have to speak again in a future chapter, and therefore
shall merely now enquire—when the cries of misery are
entering into her ears, and the groans of creation are arising
all around her; when countless millions abroad are living and
dying without the light of the gospel and the hope of salvation;
when at our own doors will be found so many passing in
ignorance and wickedness to their eternal destinies—is it
humane for a Christian woman to spend so much precious
time each day over her knitting, crotchet, or embroidery
work? As she sits plying those needles, and bringing out,
it may be, the tasteful design, hour after hour—does she
never hear the cry of human woe, "Come over and help us!"
Does it never occur to her, how many souls have gone into
eternity unprepared to meet their God, since she took her
chair and commenced her daily entertainment?

Or, even leaving out of view the employment of her time
for deeds of mercy to others; is it not an afflicting sight
to behold so much time thrown away on these elegant
, which might be employed in cultivating one's own
mind and heart, by reading useful Christian literature?

You cannot, systematically, do good either to yourself
or others, without redeeming time for the purpose!

True religion

(J. A. James, "The Young Man Leaving Home" 1844)

True religion is . . .

It is a thing of the heart—and not merely
external religious forms.

True religion is a living principle in the soul . . .
  influencing the mind,
  alluring the affections,
  guiding the will,
  directing and enlightening the conscience.

True religion is a supreme—not a subordinate matter.
It demands and obtains the throne of the soul. It guides
the whole character—and requires the whole man and all
his conduct to be in subordination.

True religion is not an occasional thing—but habitual.
It takes up its abode in the heart—and not merely
visits it at certain times and at particular seasons.

True religion is not a partial thing—but universal.
It does not confine itself to certain times, places,
and occasions—but forms an integral part of the
character—and blends with everything we do.

True religion is noble and lofty—not an abject,
servile, and groveling thing. It communes . . .
  with God,
  with truth,
  with holiness,
  with heaven,
  with eternity,
  with infinity!

True religion is a happy—and not a melancholy thing.
It gives peace that passes understanding, and joy that
is unspeakable, and full of glory!

True religion is a durable—and not a transient thing. It . . .
  passes with us through life,
  lies down with us on the pillow of death,
  rises with us at the last day, and
  dwells in our souls in heaven as the very element of eternal life!

Such is true religion—the most sublime thing in the
world—sent down to be our comforter on earth—and our
guide to everlasting life through all this gloomy valley!

Literature, science, politics, commerce, and the arts

(J. A. James, "The Young Man Leaving Home" 1844)

Literature, science, politics, commerce, and the arts,
are all important in their place and measure; and men
give proof that they duly, or rather unduly estimate their
importance—by the devoted manner in which they attend
to them. To multitudes, these thing are everything.

Yet man is an immortal creature, and there is an eternity
before him—and what direct relation have these things
to immortality? Or what influence do they exert on our
everlasting destiny in the eternal world? More—do they
make us either virtuous or happy in this world? Is there
any necessary connection between any, or all of these
things—with human felicity? They call out and employ the
noble faculties of the mind; they raise man from savage
to civilized society; they refine the taste; they embellish
life; they decorate the stage on which the great drama
of existence is carried on—and give interest to the

But do any of these things reach the seat of man's
chief pleasures or pains—the heart? Do they . . .
  cure its disorders,
  correct its tastes,
  mitigate its sorrows, or
  soften its weightiest cares?

Do any of these things comfort man amid . . .
  the wreck of his fortunes,
  the disappointment of his hopes,
  the loss of his friends,
  the malignity of his enemies,
  the pains of a sick chamber,
  the struggles of a dying bed,
  the prospect of a coming judgment?

No! True religion is that, and that alone, which can
do this! And this it can do, and is continually doing!

The surest guide to success in this world

(John Angell James)

What is your life, but a voyage to eternity!
A life altogether unprepared for, must be a life
of perpetual mistakes, faults, and miseries.

The chief preparation for life is the formation of a
moral and spiritual character. Genuine piety, the
parent of sound morality, is the surest guide to
success in this world
. And as true religion is the
best guide to happiness in this world, likewise it
is the only way to happiness in the world to come.

True piety will preserve you from all the habits which
tend to poverty and misery—and aid the formation of
all habits which tend to usefulness and happiness.

"Who can show us any good?"

(J. A. James, "The Young MAN'S Friend
and Guide through Life to Immortality")

Many are asking, "Who can show us any good?"
    Psalm 4:6

Man is made for happiness, and is capable of it. But
is happiness—and how is it to be obtained?
To possess and enjoy it, man must be furnished with
some good—suited to his nature, adapted to his
condition, and adequate to his capacity and desires.

The nature of the chief good has been, in every age,
the interesting subject of most earnest philosophic
inquiry. But how various and opposed, have been the
conclusions at which the inquirers have arrived on this
important subject. Varro, a learned Latin writer, who
lived before Christ, reckoned up more than two hundred
different opinions on this subject—thus plainly evincing
man's ignorance of his own nature, circumstances, and

Not perceiving what it is that has made him miserable—man
cannot know what will make him happy! Unacquainted with,
or rather overlooking, the disease—he cannot know the remedy!

He feels an aching void within, an unsatisfied craving after
—but knows neither the nature, nor the source, of
the food adapted to meet and satisfy his hungry appetite.

The vagrant spirit of man is seen wandering from God—the
fountain of bliss—roaming through this "dry and thirsty land,
where there is no water;" anxiously looking for happiness,
but never finding it; coming often to springs that are dry,
and to cisterns that are broken; until weary of the pursuit
and disappointed in its hopes, it is ready to give up all in
despair, and reconcile itself to misery, under the notion
that happiness is but a fiction!

In this sad and hopeless mood, the victim of grief
and despondency is met by the Bible, which takes
him by the hand, and leads him to the fountain of
living waters. Such is the design of Scripture—to
show first of all what will not make man happy,
and then what will.

Upon all the most coveted possessions of this world,
it pronounces the solemn and impressive sentence,
"Vanity of vanities! All is vanity!" It interrogates singly
every coveted object of human desire, and asks, "What
are you?" only to receive the melancholy answer, "Vanity!"

Nothing 'on earth' can satisfy the soul of man, as its
supreme good. Science has multiplied its discoveries, art
its inventions, and literature its productions. Civilization
has opened new sources of luxury, and ingenuity has
added innumerable gratifications of appetite and of taste.
Every domain of nature has been explored; every conceivable
experiment been made, to find new means of enjoyment,
and new secrets of happiness. But still the heart of man
confirms, and the experience of the human race prolongs
the echo—"Vanity of vanities! All is vanity!"

What is the nature and the source of happiness?

What is . . .
  to terminate the weary pursuits,
  to revive the languid hopes,
  to gratify the anxious desires,
of destitute and sorrowing people,
hungering and thirsting after bliss?

What human reason is thus proved to be too ignorant
and too weak to decide, the Bible undertakes to settle;
and explicitly, imperatively, and infallibly, determines
for all and forever. Only Biblical Christianity . . .
  suits the nature,
  meets the needs,
  alleviates the sorrows,
  satisfies the desires,
of the human soul—and is its portion forever.

Only Christianity . . .
  finds man depraved—and makes him holy;
  finds him little—and makes him great;
  finds him earthly—and raises him to heaven!

"You are my portion, O my God. Your favor is
life, and your love is better than life. You are
the center, the rest, the home of my heart!"

"Everyone who drinks this water will thirst again;
 but whoever drinks the water I give him will never
 thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in
 him a spring of water welling up to eternal life!"
     John 4:13-14

The idol of our day!

(J. A. James, "The Young Man's Friend
and Guide through Life to Immortality")

One of the evils of our age, is an excessive love
of pleasure
, which leads to self-indulgence, and
indisposes the mind for sober thought and true piety.

Love of pleasure is one of the growing tendencies of
the day in which we live, and threatens infinite damage
to the present and eternal welfare of mankind, by
bringing on an age of frivolity, sensuality and 'practical

Find your pleasure, young men . . .
  in the improvement of your mind,
  in attention to duties,
  in true piety, and
  in active benevolence.
Is there not scope enough for enjoyment here?

Excessive worldliness is another of the dangers of this
age. In our wealthy and materialistic country, there is
most imminent peril of sinking into the mere worldling,
and living only to get wealth. Never was there so great
a danger of having . . .
  the conscience benumbed,
  moral principles prostrated,
  the heart rendered callous,
  the intellect emptied of its strength,
as in the age in which we live!

Wealth is the idol of our day! Without watchfulness
and prayer, you are in danger of . . .
  bowing devoutly at its shrine,
  becoming its worshipers, and
  immolating your souls as a burnt-offering on its altars!

A bad word!

(J. A. James, "The Young Man's Friend
and Guide Through Life to Immortality")

"We may throw the dice, but the Lord
 determines how they fall." Proverbs 16:33

"Luck!" There is no such thing in our world,
none in nature, none in human affairs.

Luck means that an event has no cause at all.
It is a bad word—a heathen term. Drop it from
your vocabulary! Trust nothing to luck, and
expect nothing from it. Avoid all practical
dependence upon it or its kindred words . . .

Never forget your dependence upon God. He can
exalt you to prosperity—or sink you into the lowest
depth of adversity. He can make everything to which
you set your hand to prosper—or to fail. Devoutly
acknowledge this. Abhor the atheism that shuts
God out of His own world!

The sin of killing time

(J. A. James, "The Young Man's Friend
and Guide Through Life to Immortality")

"Only fools idle away their time." Proverbs 12:11

Idleness is a complicated vice. Yes, I say VICE!

First it is a most wasteful vice. It wastes time,
which is more precious than rubies; it wastes a
man's mental faculties; it wastes property.

Idleness is a disgraceful vice. How reproachful is it
in a being made to be active, to spend life in doing
nothing, and to throw away his mental powers in sloth.

Idleness is a criminal vice. God has commanded
us to be active, and will call us to account for the
sin of killing time

Idleness is a dangerous vice. Doing nothing is next
to doing evil—and is sure to lead to it. From its very
inaction it ultimately becomes the active cause of all
evil. "The Devil tempts all men; but the idle man
tempts the Devil."

Idleness is a wretched vice. An idle man is the
most miserable of all God's creatures. Woe be
to the man who is doomed to bear the pain and
penalties of a slothful disposition.

"And we urge you, brothers, warn those
 who are idle
." 1 Thessalonians 5:14

Fortified by true piety

(J. A. James, "The Character of Joseph")

"Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead,
 bring them up in the training and instruction of
 the Lord." Ephesians 6:4

Parents! How momentous a duty is it to give sound
Christian instruction to your children at the earliest
period in which they can receive it; and endeavor,
by the most judicious, affectionate, and persevering
methods, to form their character by true religion!

Train them up in the fear of God—that they may
leave home fortified by true piety, to encounter
the temptations of the world, and to endure the
trials of life.

Next to God Himself, a pious child is a parent's
best companion amid the infirmities of old age,
and in the chamber of sickness and death.

Self-seeking, men-pleasing ministers

(J. C. Philpot, "The Precepts of the Word of God")

"Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of
 God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still
 trying to please men, I would not be a servant of
 Christ." Galatians 1:10

A fearless disregard of . . .
  smiles or frowns,
  character or consequences,
  opposition or approbation,
  pay or popularity,
will always distinguish the true servant of Christ
from self-seeking, men-pleasing ministers.

"For we speak as messengers who have been approved
 by God to be entrusted with the Gospel. Our purpose
 is to please God, not men.
He is the one who examines
 the motives of our hearts." 1 Thes. 2:4

By its own powerful and holy instinct

(J. A. James, "The Young Man from Home")

"I will give you a new heart with new and right desires,
 and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your
 stony heart of sin and give you a new, obedient heart."
     Ezekiel 36:26

The new nature, by its own powerful and holy instinct,
will turn away your feet from every forbidden place, and
every unhallowed scene. Panting after God, and thirsting
for the living God, taking pleasure in His ways, you will
shudder at the idea of being found in the haunts of vice,
or in the society of the vicious. It will be unnecessary to
forbid your going to the tavern, the theater, the house
of ill fame, the gambling-table, or horse-race. Your own
renewed and sanctified nature will be a law against
these things.

The shrine of Mammon

(J. A. James, "The Young Man's Friend
and Guide Through Life to Immortality")

"You lack only one thing. Go and sell all you have and
 give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure
 in heaven. Then come, follow Me." At this, the man's
 face fell, and he went sadly away because he had
 many possessions.  Mark 10:21-22

You see what was the defect in this young man. He did not
possess the faith which overcomes the world. He wished
to unite two things utterly irreconcilable—the love of God
and the love of the world. He wanted to serve two masters,
God and Mammon. It was not open vice and profligacy that
kept him from true religion here, and from heaven hereafter.

It was the more decent and reputable sin of supreme
attachment to worldly things. He could give up many
sins, but he could not give up his besetting sin—supreme
regard to wealth. He could do many things, but he could
not give up all to follow Christ. He could give up open
vice, but he could not deny himself and take up his cross.
He had many good qualities, but he lacked one thing.

If open vice has slain its thousands, worldliness has
slain its tens of thousands!

Of all the false gods, the shrine of Mammon is most
resorted to—it is from that idolatrous temple, the broadest
and most beaten path to the bottomless pit will be found.
In the crowd which press along that path, are included, not
only the knaves, the cheats, and men of dishonorable
character; but men who follow things which are just, and
honest, and true, and reputable; who yet rise to no higher
than to be the worshipers of this sordid deity. Yes, even
Mammon can boast of devotees who scorn all that is vile,
dishonorable and unjust.

In the broad road which leads to destruction, there is a path
for the lovers of the world—as well as for the lovers of vice!

Other Baals!

(J. A. James, "The Young Man's Friend
and Guide Through Life to Immortality

"How long are you going to waver between two
 opinions? If Jehovah is God, follow Him! But if
 Baal is God, then follow him!
" 1 Kings 18:21

There are other Baals in this age, in all the various
forms under which they are objects of human idolatry.

It is true you are not called, invited or disposed,
to bow the knee to idols of wood, stone, or metal.

These, however, are not the only way in which idolatry
may be practiced. Everyone has a god, and if man does
not love and worship Jehovah, he will make a deity of
his own image. Survey, young men, the idols which
you are called upon to worship!

Among them, sustaining a high place, is the idol of
. This goddess is decked out with all that
can pollute the imagination, inflame the passions, or
excite the evil propensities of a youthful heart. Before
this image, multitudes of devotees of both sexes bow
the knee and offer the most costly sacrifices of property,
health, principle, and reputation!

Near her is the bewitching and smiling image of
, with the sound of music, the
song, and the dance—alluring the giddy and thoughtless
to its orgies; and throwing the spell of its fascinations
over the imagination of multitudes who go merrily to
their ruin!

MAMMON, the despicable deity of wealth, is there,
glittering with gold, and offering riches to his eager
followers as the reward of their diligent and faithful
adherence. His liturgy is the cry of "Money! Money!
Money!" His sacrifices are the time, the bodies, the
comfort, and the souls of his worshipers!

Near this is the shrine of HUMAN KNOWLEDGE.
This idol is only evil, when raised above the place
of faith, piety, and virtue. When thus exalted above
Scripture, it is a deceiving, corrupting idol—the false
goddess of a Pantheon of Vices.

Nor must we leave out the idols of FALSE RELIGION,
the chief of which is Popery—the anti-Christ of the
Apocalypse, "the Man of Sin sitting in the temple of God,
exalting itself above all that is called God." This idol,
taking the name of Christ as its designation, assuming
the cross as its symbol, and boasting of an apostle as
its first pope; enriched by wealth; venerable for antiquity;
dignified by learning; decorated by sculpture, architecture,
and painting; and adding the abysmal policies, and most
serpentine craft to all these other dangerous qualities,
has fascinated countless millions! And, notwithstanding
the monstrous absurdity of its doctrines, the blood-stained
page of its history, and its hostility to the liberties of
mankind—is now putting forth the most arrogant claims,
and making the most audacious attempts for the conquest
of our country!

These idolaters have chosen their god, and are the
determined and devoted worshipers of their Baals!

They have hardened their hearts, and seared their
consciences, except it be an occasional qualm in the
season of death or sickness.

They congratulate themselves upon their having thrown
off all the weaknesses and fears of Christianity, and
upon their being now enabled to pursue their downward
course unchecked by the restraint of conscience. Unhappy
men, blind, and glorying in their blindness; benumbed in
all their moral faculties, and exulting in their stupidity!
With every tie cut, which held them to piety and truth, they
account it a privilege that they are drifting unobstructed to
destruction—determined to be lost, and rejoicing that
nothing bars their path to the bottomless pit!

"These men have set up idols in their hearts!" Ezekiel 14:3

"Their hearts were devoted to their idols!" Ezekiel 20:16

Saving faith

(J. A. James, "The Young Man's Friend
and Guide Through Life to Immortality

Saving faith expresses itself not only in worship,
in religious zeal, in charity to the poor—but in a
systematic and strong restraint upon the passions,
imagination, temper, and appetites.

Saving faith will ensure you . . .
  the protection of omnipotence;
  the guidance of omniscience;
  the companionship of omnipresence;
  the supplies of all-sufficiency.

Saving faith will fill your intellect with the thoughts
of God's own mind, and your soul with the joy of
God's own heart—and thus furnish you at once with
the supreme truth, and the chief good.

Saving faith will mingle its own heavenly
pleasures with the pure delights of earth.

Saving faith will preserve you equally from the snares
of prosperity, and the withering blasts of adversity.

Saving faith will be . . .
  your nurse in sickness,
  your companion in solitude, and
  your preserver amid the corruptions of society.

Saving faith will be your shield against
temptations to sin, and the insidious
attacks of infidelity and false philosophy.

Saving faith will be . . .
  the guide of your youth,
  the protector of your matured life,
  and the prop of your old age.

Saving faith will prepare you for early death, or
for living until old age. It will smooth the pillow
of death, by giving you immortal hopes amid the
dissolution of nature. It will rise with you from the
grave in that day when death shall be swallowed
up in victory, and will put you in possession of
glory, honor, immortality, and eternal life!

These are the fools of whom Solomon speaks!

(J. A. James, "The Young Man's Friend
and Guide Through Life to Immortality")

"Whoever walks with the wise will become wise; but
the companion of fools shall be destroyed!" Pr. 13:20

Young men! There are evil companions to be avoided!

The workhouse,
the lunatic asylum,
the prison,
the gallows,
the bottomless pit,
all, all, attest the truth of this, by the millions they
have swallowed up in their jaws of destruction!

Evil companionship has ruined . . .
  more characters,
  more fortunes,
  more bodies,
  and more souls,
than almost anything else that could be named.

Young men! Evil companionship is one of your first
and most pressing dangers. Character assimilates to
that which surrounds it. You must take your character,
to a certain extent, from your companions.

Do not have bad companions! Men . . .
  who scoff at Christianity,
  who ridicule the godly,
  who make light of sin and laugh at conscience,
  who are lewd in their actions, or obscene in their talk,
  who are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God,
  who are extravagant in their habits,
  who are loose in their moral principles,
these are the fools of whom Solomon speaks,
—who will bring their own destruction upon you,
if you do not avoid them!

With much the same emphasis do I warn you against bad
. There are books that inflame the imagination and
corrupt the taste—that by their excitement unfit the mind
for the sober realities of life—or by continuous light
entertainment, indispose the mind for what is serious
and holy. These are all to be avoided.

In some respects bad books are more mischievous than
bad companions, since they are more accessible, and
more constantly with us. They can be more secretly
consulted, and lodge their poison more abidingly in . . .
  the imagination,
  the intellect, and
  the heart!

A bad book is a bad companion of the worst kind, and
prepares for bad companions of all other kinds!

"Whoever walks with the wise will become wise; but
the companion of fools shall be destroyed!" Pr. 13:20

This trouble from which you are now suffering

(John MacDuff, "A Book for the Bereaved")

"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten."
    Revelation 3:19

"Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring
 her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably
 unto her." Hosea 2:14

"For the moment all chastening seems painful
 rather than pleasant." Hebrews 12:11

This trouble from which you are now suffering may
be utterly incomprehensible. Jehovah's name to you,
as it often has been to His tried and afflicted children,
may be that which He gave to Manoah—"Wonderful,"
"Secret," "Mysterious." But, be assured, that your
present place and season of suffering, is the
figurative "wilderness," where He "allures" His
people—rousing them . . .
  from the dream of earthly happiness,
  from the sordid and the secular,
  from busy care and debasing concerns,
to the divine and the heavenly—leading them to
exchange the earthly pottage for the bread of
life; perishable substance for the fine gold of
heavenly gain and durable riches!

Suffering Christian! you may well trust Him who
gave the mightiest pledge of love He could give
by giving His own life—that there is some all-wise
"needs be" in the trial He has laid upon you. It is
designed to bring you nearer Himself. It is one of
His own appointed gateways, opening up and
admitting to great spiritual blessings!

He rebukes and chastens just because He loves;
and, contradictory as the remark may seem, we
believe never is His love more tender than when
the rod is in His hand, and the rebuke on His lips!

The rebukes of other earthly friends are often
mis-timed; the result, it may be, of passion or
caprice—"but He disciplines us for our profit,
that we might be partakers of His holiness."
    Hebrews 12:10

No nobler result of trial surely than this—to lead
the mourner to grope his tearful way more meekly
and trustfully in search of a Savior's hand, seeking
only to hear His guiding voice saying, "This is the
way—walk in it."

A most dangerous propensity!

(J. A. James, "The Young Man Leaving Home" 1844)

"Lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God." 2 Tim. 3:4

A pleasure-loving youth will become a pleasure-loving man.

A love of pleasure, a taste for amusement, is a most
dangerous propensity!


(James, "The Christian Father's Present to His Children")

As to novels, I join with every other moral and religious
writer in condemning, as the vilest trash, the greater part
of these productions, which have carried a turbid stream
of vice over the morals of mankind.

Novels . . .
  corrupt the taste,
  pollute the heart,
  debase the mind,
  demoralize the conduct.

Novels throw prostrate the understanding; sensualize
the affections; enervate the will; and bring all the high
faculties of the soul into subjection to a wild imagination.

Novels generate a morbid, sickly sentimentalism,
instead of a just and lovely realism.

A wise man should despise novels, and a godly
man should abhor them!

The theater!

(John Angell James,
"On Theatrical Amusements" 1825)

I do not hesitate for a moment to pronounce the theater
to be one of the broadest avenues which lead to destruction!

Fascinating, no doubt it is—but on that account the more
delusive and the more dangerous! Let a young man once
acquire a taste for this species of entertainment, and yield
himself up to its gratification, and he is in imminent danger
of becoming a lost character—rushing upon his ruin!

All the evils that can . . .
  waste his property,
  corrupt his morals,
  blast his reputation,
  impair his health,
  embitter his life,
  and destroy his soul,
lurk in the confines of the theater! Vice, in every
form, lives, and moves, and has its being there!

Myriads have cursed the hour when they first exposed
themselves to the contamination of the theater. >From
that fatal evening, they date their destruction!

Take warning then, and have nothing to do with the
. Avoid it as one of the avenues to the broad
road that leads to destruction. The danger is greater
than I describe. The doors of the theater are as the
jaws of the devouring lion!

"Do not follow the crowd in doing evil." Exodus 23:2

Our life is a bubble!

(James, "The Christian Father's Present to His Children")

"What is your life? You are a mist that appears
 for a little while and then vanishes!" James 4:14

Our world is a valley of tears. Our life is a bubble,
raised from those tears, inflated by sighs; which, after
floating a little while, decked with a few gaudy colors
—is touched by the hand of death, and dissolves!

all assail the travelers as they journey onward
to eternity through this gloomy valley.

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on
 what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary,
 but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinth. 4:18

When the honey is all sucked!

(James, "The Christian Father's Present to His Children")

Love of worldly pleasure is a great impediment
to true piety. It has been most wickedly said,
"Youth is the time for pleasure,
 manhood is the time for business,
 old age is the time for religion."
It is painful to observe, that if the two latter parts
of human life are neglected, the first is not.

Young people too often answer the description given by
the apostle, "Lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God."

In youth, there are many temptations to this wicked
propensity . . .
  the senses are vigorous,
  the spirits lively,
  the imagination ardent,
  the passions warm, and
  the concerns of life but few and feeble.

Hence many give themselves up to the impulses of their
corrupt nature, and are held in alienation from a life of
piety—by a love of pleasure. Some are carried away by
a vain and frivolous love of dress and show; others by
a delight in mirth and parties; others by games, balls,
and theatrical performances; others by the sports of
the field; others by intemperance and debauchery.

It is admitted that all these gratifications are not equally
degrading in themselves—nor equally destructive of
reputation and health. But if indulged in as the chief
, they may all prevent the mind from attending
to the concerns of true religion.

A predominant love of worldly pleasure, of any kind—is
destructive in every point of view. It often leads on from
gratifications which, in the opinion of the world, are decent
and moral—to those which are wicked and immoral. It is
incompatible with the duties and comforts of domestic life.
It hinders the improvement of the understanding, and keeps
the mind barren and empty. It prevents from becoming the
benefactors of society. But its greatest mischief is, that it
totally indisposes the mind for true religion, and thus extends
its mischief to eternity! In short, if a predominant love of
worldly pleasure is cherished and persisted in, it ruins
and damns the soul forever!

My children, beware of this most dangerous propensity for
worldly pleasure! Consider where it leads—resist it to the
uttermost—and ask grace from God to acquire a better taste.

Yes, if you live for worldly pleasure, and neglect true religion,
you are giving up an exceeding great and eternal weight of
glory—for light and frivolous gratifications, which are but for
a moment! You are, for the sake of a few years' empty mirth,
entailing everlasting ages of unmitigated torments!

Besides, though worldly pleasure may temporarily gratify
—it does not really satisfy! When the honey is all sucked
—it leaves a sting behind!

And what are the pleasures of the world, compared with
those of true piety?
  But the shadow to the substance;
  the stagnant pool to the fresh and running fountain;
  the smoking candle to the midday sun!

Shall worldly pleasure cheat you of eternal salvation?

He certainly acts as an Atheist!

(James, "The Christian Father's Present to His Children")

Fathers! Your children are immortal beings! The stamp
of eternity is upon them! Everlasting ages are before them!
They are like the rest of the human race—depraved, guilty,
and condemned creatures
; and consequently in danger of
eternal misery! Yet they are, through the mercy of God,
creatures capable of attaining to glory, honor, immortality,
and eternal life. Looking upon them in this light, what
should be your chief concern for them—and what should
be your conduct towards them?

Fathers! Your children are hastening to either
eternal happiness—or eternal torment!

The man who does not make the eternal welfare
of his children
, the supreme end of all his conduct
towards them, may profess to believe as a Christian
—but he certainly acts as an Atheist!

Once more let it be stated, and stated with all possible
emphasis—that the chief design of this work is to form
the pious character of its readers, and to implant those
virtues which shall live, and flourish, and dignify, and
delight—infinite ages after every object that is dear . . .
  to avarice or pride,
  to learning or science,
  to taste or ambition,
shall have perished in the conflagration of the universe!

It is in the highest degree inconsistent, absurd, cruel,
and wicked—for a Christian parent not to be supremely
desirous of the everlasting welfare of his children! Let
a supreme concern for their immortal interests be at
the bottom of all your conduct, and be interwoven
with all your parental habits!


Taste & distaste

(J. A. James, "The Young Man Leaving Home" 1844)

True religion changes the moral nature, producing . . .
  a dislike and dread of sin, and
  a love of holiness and virtue.

Piety is a spiritual taste; and, like every other taste,
it is accompanied with a distaste for the opposites
of those things or qualities which are the subjects
of its delight. Sin is that bitter thing which the soul
of a true Christian hates. It is the object of his
antipathy—and therefore of his dread. He turns from
it with aversion and loathing, as that which is offensive
and disgusting. It is not merely that he is commanded
by authority to abstain from sin—but he is led away from
it by the expulsive power of a new attraction. He may
have sinful propensities of his carnal nature—but he
resists the indulgence of them, for it is sin against God.

When you have once tasted the sweetness of true
religion—how insipid, how nauseous, will be those
draughts of 'wicked pleasure' with which the sinner
intoxicates and poisons his soul!

When you have acquired a relish for the pure,
calm, satisfying joys of faith and holiness—how
entirely will you disrelish the polluting, boisterous,
and unsatisfying pleasures of sin!

When you have once drunk of the waters of the river
of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne
of God and of the Lamb—how loathsome will be the
filthy turbid streams of licentious gratification!