Grace Gems for JUNE 2005

The pursuits of butterflies and grasshoppers,
and canary birds!

(J. A. James, "The Great End of Life" 1825)

Pleasure is the supreme good, and chief object of pursuit of
many. To pleasure, they have devoted their lives. Some are
living for sports, others for the gratification of the appetites,
and others for the enjoyment of the round of fashionable
amusements. Pleasure, in one form or other, is the chief
object of pursuit with myriads.

As to the gratification of our animal appetites, it should
not be difficult to persuade us, that to sink to the level of
the brute creation, and hold communion with swine, and
goats and rats
, cannot be the chief end of a rational being.

To many, fashionable amusements seem to be the purpose of
life. Multitudes live for pleasures of this kind. Ball succeeds to
concert; the private party to the public assembly; the card party
to the dinner party. In this busy round of fashionable follies,
many pass their lives away!

Can it be, that the chief object of existence is to sing, and play,
and dress and dance? Do not these things, when we reflect upon
them, look more like the pursuits of butterflies and grasshoppers,
and canary birds
—than of rational creatures? Is it not melancholy
to see beings with never-dying souls, sinking to the amusements
of children; and employing time as if it were given them for nothing
but mirth; and using the world as if it were created by God only to
be a sort of playground for its inhabitants?

Does this kind of life really satisfy those who pursue it?

Far, very far, from it! Can any person, in reality, be farther
from happiness than those who live for pleasure?

"O Lord, save me from the men of this world—who
 have their portion in this life!" Psalm 17:14

A bubble that rises, and shines, and bursts!

(John Angell James, "Redeeming Time" 1825)

"Be very careful, then, how you live—not as fools
 but as wise, redeeming the time, because the
 days are evil." Ephesians 5:15-16

Paul implies that a man can give no greater proof
of folly, nor more effectually act the part of a fool,
than to waste his time. While on the other hand,
a just appreciation and right improvement of time
are among the brightest displays of true wisdom.

We must value time correctly, and improve it diligently.

Time is the most precious thing in the world. God
distributes time miserly—by the moment—and He
never promises us another moment! We are to highly
value, and diligently to improve the present moment,
by the consideration that for anything we know, it
may be our last.

Time, when once gone, never returns. Where is
A moment once lost, is lost forever!

We should never forget that our time is among the talents
for which we must give account at the judgment of God.
We must be tried not only for what we have done—but for
what we neglected to do. Not only for the hours spent in
sin—but for those wasted in idleness. Let us beware of
wasting time.

It might stir us up to diligence in the improvement of our
time, to think how much of it has been already misspent.
What days, and weeks, and months, and years, have
already been utterly wasted, or exhausted upon trifles
totally unworthy of them. They are gone, and nothing
remains of them but the guilt of having wasted them.
We cannot call them back if we would. Let us learn to
value more highly, and to use more kindly, those days
which remain.

How much of our time is already gone—and how little
may be yet to come? The sands of our hour-glass may
be almost out! Death may be at the door!

When you begin a day, you don't know that you shall end it!
When you lie down, you don't know that you shall rise up!
When you leave your house, you don't know that you shall
ever return!

For what is your life? It is even as a vapor that appears for
a little while and then vanishes! Life is a bubble that rises,
and shines, and bursts!
We know not in any one period of
our existence—but that it may be the last. Surely, surely,
we should then improve our time, when we may be holding,
for anything we know, the last portion of it in our hands!

You are immortal creatures, and must live forever in torment
or in bliss! And certainly you cannot be forming a right
estimate of the value of time, nor be rightly employing it,
if the soul be forgotten, salvation neglected, and eternity
left out of consideration!

Our great concern!

(John Angell James, "Christian Hope" 1859)

"There are three things that will endure—faith, hope, and
 love—and the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinth. 13:13

Real Christianity consists of these three apostolic graces.

All else is but her earthly attire, which may vary in fashion
and color, without affecting her substance and life, or
destroying her symmetry. Had this been understood,
believed, remembered, and practiced from the beginning . . .
  what monstrous systems of error;
  what iron yokes of spiritual tyranny;
  what bloody persecutions;
  what ecclesiastic arrogance and presumption;
  what disfigurements of the simple and spiritual religion
of the meek and lowly Jesus
, by pagan rites and external
ceremonies; what foul blots upon the fair form of
Christianity—would the world have been spared!

Amid the controversies and decrees of church councils,
how has the still small voice of the apostle been stifled,
which says, "There are three things that will endure—
faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love."

How forward have men been to admire this sacred trio,
but how slow to imitate them!

Poets have sung their charms!
Painters have delineated their beauty!
Music has chanted their praises!
Eloquence has emblazoned their worth!

What remains but for preachers to make them the
prevailing themes of their ministry—and for professing
Christians to exhibit them in the practice of their lives!

When this shall everywhere be done, and they shall
universally come in place of a heartless orthodoxy and
an external ritualism—then the world will see Christianity
as she is, and will covet to be like her. But, until then,
multitudes will look upon Christianity with suspicion,
and not a few turn from her with disgust!

Our great concern should be to promote a healthful,
spiritual, robust, and godly piety in our churches; for
which no external improvements in our architecture,
our music, or our services, can be a substitute!

What we should seek to maintain in our churches, is
the more powerful dominion of faith, hope, and love,
compared with which, many of those matters which are
now rife among us, are but of very small importance.

Faith, hope, and love are the great themes of the
Christian ministry, are something more than matters
of theory—something more than mere theses for the
theologian to discuss before an audience. They are
matters of eternal life or death—and should be preached
as if the preachers believed them to be so.

He who counts the stars

(Charles Spurgeon)

"He heals the brokenhearted, binding up their
 wounds. He counts the stars and calls them
 all by name.
How great is our Lord! His power
 is absolute! His understanding is beyond
 comprehension!" Psalm 147:3-5

He who counts the stars and calls them by
their names, is in no danger of forgetting His
own children! He knows your case as thoroughly
as if you were the only creature He ever made,
or the only saint He ever loved!

The great idol!

(John Angell James, "Christian Love" 1828)

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

Selfishness is the cause of all sin—the opposite of all
holiness and virtue.

The essence of man's sin, the sum of his moral depravity,
is to love himself supremely; to seek himself finally and
exclusively; to make self, in one shape or another, the
center to which all his busy thoughts, anxious cares and
diligent pursuits, constantly tend.

Self-love is the most active and reigning principle in fallen
nature! SELF is the great idol which mankind are naturally
disposed to worship; and selfishness the grand interest to
which they are devotedly attached!

Selfishness is contrary to the habitual temper of our Lord
Jesus Christ. "For even Christ did not please Himself."

The perfection of all virtue lies in unselfish love. The nearer
we approach to this state of mind, the nearer we come to
sinless moral excellence. "Love is not self-seeking."

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in
 humility consider others better than yourselves." Phil. 2:3

The loathsome moral leprosy!

(John Angell James, "Christian Love" 1828)

"Love does not boast—it is not proud." 1 Corin. 13:4

Pride has a high and overweening conceit of its own
possessions and acquirements, and ostentatiously
boasts of what it is, has done, can do, or intends to do.

Pride signifies such an exalted idea of ourselves, as
leads to self-esteem—and to contempt of others.

Pride is self-admiration—self-doating.

Pride is the sin which laid the moral universe in ruins.

Pride is the original sin, the inherent corruption of our
nature. Pride spreads over humanity with contagious
violence. Pride is the loathsome moral leprosy, raging
alike through the palace and the cottage, and infecting
equally the prince and the peasant.

Love is no less opposed to VANITY than it is to pride!

Pride differs from vanity thus—
pride causes us to value ourselves;
vanity makes us anxious for applause.

Pride renders a man odious;
vanity makes him ridiculous.

Love does not boast of, or ostentatiously display,
its possessions, abilities, or good deeds.

"Love does not boast—it is not proud." 1 Corin. 13:4

Although they should spend every penny!

(John Angell James, "Christian Love" 1828)

"If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender
 my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain
" 1 Corinthians 13:3

This representation of the indispensable necessity
of Christian love, is most striking. It supposes it
possible that a man may distribute all his substance
in acts of apparent beneficence—and yet after all be
without true religion!

Actions derive their moral character from the motives
under the influence of which they are performed.

Therefore, many actions which are beneficial to man,
may still be sinful in the sight of God, because they
are not done from a right motives!

The most diffusive generosity—if prompted by pride,
vanity or self-righteousness
—is of no value in the
eyes of the omniscient Jehovah! On the contrary, it
is very sinful!

It is too evident to be questioned, that many of the
charities of which we are the witnesses, are done from
any motives but the right ones. We readily see that
multitudes are lavish in their monetary contributions,
who are at the same time totally destitute of love to
God. They are, as it respects real religion, less than
nothing, although they should spend every penny
of their property in relieving the needs of the poor!

If our munificence, however great or self-denying, be
the operation of mere selfish regard to ourselves, to
our own reputation, or to our own safety—and not of
pure love—it may do good to others, but will do
none to ourselves!

"If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender
 my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain
" 1 Corinthians 13:3


Seraph or demon?

(John Angell James, "Christian Love" 1828)

Many conclude that they are true Christians, because
of the intensity of their religious feelings. Possessed
of much excitability and warmth of temperament, they
are, of course, susceptible of deep and powerful
impressions from true religion. They are not without
joy—and they are not without their religious sorrows.
Their tears are plentiful—and their smiles in proportion.

See them in the house of God, and none appear to feel
more under the preaching of the Word than they do. The
sermon exerts an influential power over their affections,
and the preacher seems to have their hearts at command.
They talk loudly of "happy frames and precious seasons".

But follow them from the house of God to their own
homes—and, O, how changed the scene! The least
offense, perhaps an unintentional one—raises a storm
of angry passion, and the man who looked like a seraph
in the sanctuary—seems more like a demon at home!

Follow them from the Sabbath into the other days of
the week, and you will see the man who appeared all
for heaven
on the Sunday—all for earth on the Monday!

Follow them from the assembly of the saints to the
places of business—and you will see the man who
looked so devout
; now . . .
  irritated and quarrelsome,
  selfish and unfair,
  crude and insulting,
  envious and malicious!

Yes! And perhaps in the evening of the same day,
you will see him at a prayer meeting, enjoying, as
he supposes, the holy season!

Such is the delusion under which many are living!
Their religion is, in great part, is a mere selfish
religious voluptuousness!

The necessary fruits of our doctrines

(John Angell James,
"Christian Love", 1828)

Let us remember that HUMILITY and LOVE are
the necessary fruits of our doctrines, and the
highest beauty of our character!

True Christian love must be . . .
  blended with all our habits,
  diffused through all our conduct,
  forming our character,
  breathing in our desires,
  speaking in our words,
  beaming in our eyes.

This is true religion—practical religion.

"If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom
 all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have
 a faith that can move mountains—but have
 not love, I am nothing!" 1 Corinthians 13:2

"Whoever does not love does not know God,
 because God is love." 1 John 4:8

I can conceive of no higher heaven

(John Angell James, "Christian Hope" 1859)

In the sublime visions of the Apocalypse, where
heaven is opened to our view, it is Christ who is
represented as the glory of that place . . .
  lighting up all countenances with joy,
  filling all hearts with gladness, and
  making all tongues vocal with praise.

Jesus is the sun of that blessed world—the orb
of that nightless, cloudless, and eternal day!

"I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better
by far!" This was the heaven Paul longed for. That one
idea of 'being with Christ' filled his soul. To be absent
from the body, and present with the Lord—was the
prevailing wish of his truly Christian heart.

Jesus is the object of the Christian's supreme
regard. Are there not moments when he has . . .
  such views of Christ's glory,
  such conceptions of His amazing mercy,
  such a sense of His love,
  such feelings of gratitude and affection,
that he is ready to say, "If I feel all this now,
when I only believe, what must be the felicity . . .
  of beholding His full-orbed glory,
  of gazing upon His face,
  and hearing His loving voice!
I can conceive of no higher heaven, no more perfect
paradise, than to be in the presence of Him who died
for me upon the cross!"

There is something wonderfully impressive and delightful,
in thus resolving the bliss of heaven into a one state of
mind, consisting of an adoring and grateful love, for a
being to whom we are indebted for redemption from an
infinitude and eternity of torment, and to an infinitude
and eternity of bliss; and who adds to all these claims
upon our gratitude, additional claims upon our homage
and admiration—for His own infinity and eternal glories!

Elegance, entertainment, and luxurious gratification

(John Angell James, "Christian Hope" 1859)

"For the world offers only the lust for physical pleasure, the
 lust for everything we see, and pride in our possessions.
 These are not from the Father. They are from this evil
 world." 1 John 2:16

The 'spirit of the world' has come into the church!

Elegance, entertainment, and luxurious gratification
are occupying far more than they ought to do, the minds
of professing Christians!

"Therefore, come out from them and separate yourselves
 from them, says the Lord. Don't touch their filthy things,
 and I will welcome you." 2 Corinthians 6:17

A decent, flowery, down-hill
way to eternal destruction!

(John Angell James, "Christian Hope" 1859)

Christ is . . .
  the supreme object of a true Christian's love,
  the chief source of his felicity,
  the highest end of his life.

The first object of a Christian's desire, pursuit
and expectation—is the salvation of his soul.

Our great business on earth—is to fit for heaven.

Our main concern in time—is to prepare for eternity.

The world is, indeed, a very dangerous foe to the
believer. To very, very many, it is the most destructive
one. They are not so likely to be subdued by 'open vice'
as by worldly-mindedness.

Worldliness is the sin of the age, and has deeply
infected the church of Christ.

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

This verse ought to ring through all Christendom,
and make the ears of millions tingle—and their
hearts to palpitate with fear and alarm!

What is the world?

Not merely open sin and vice, profligacy, idolatry,
infidelity or heresy. Oh no! The world contains many
things besides the lust of the eye, the lust of the
flesh, and the pride of life—things . . .
  more decent,
  more innocent,
  more rational,
  more commendable,
than these vile objects!

Everything on earth, however fair, laudable and
excellent in itself—everything besides God, is the

Your business is the world,
your family is the world,
your comfortable home is the world,
the wife of your bosom is the world,
the children whom God has given you are the world.

"What! then," you exclaim, "are we not to love these?"
Yes, in proper degrees—but not more than God. You are
not to seek your highest happiness from them. You are
not to be more solicitous to secure them, than heaven.
It is of a 'supreme love' which the apostle speaks.

"Anyone who loves his father or mother more than Me is
 not worthy of Me; anyone who loves his son or daughter
 more than Me is not worthy of Me." Matthew 10:37

Christian professors, there is need to have these solemn,
yet righteous demands, sent with a voice of thunder into
your places of business and scenes of domestic comfort.
You have need to be told that . . .
  all this engrossing solicitude about business;
  all this eager haste to be rich;
  all this ambition for larger houses;
  all this taste for elegance, show and fashion;
  all this competition for name and fame,
which leads to a neglect of salvation, to departure from
God, to indifference to heaven—is the love of the world,
which is incompatible with the love of the Father!
And not less so . . .
  that supreme concern about domestic enjoyment,
  that taste for fashionable amusements, or even
  that more refined and simple love of home-bred delights,
which leaves out God, salvation, heaven and eternity!

Here, here, I repeat, is your peril.

Here the enemy with which you have to do battle!

It is not vice.

It is not profligacy.

It is worldly-mindedness!

Do we not see mere professors throwing
themselves wholly—body, soul, and spirit . . .
  into their trade,
  into the cherished objects of their ambition,
  into their entire devotedness to a worldly life.

In these things, and for them, they live!
These things . . .
  bind round and overgrow their heart,
  stifle all serious thoughts,
  smother all heavenly desires.

The road that leads to destruction is broad enough
to comprise many parallel paths. And there is one path
crowded with professors of religion, walking in company,
with cheerful appearance, and elegant attire, and elastic
step—but still walking to perdition! Oh, yes, there is a
way 'through the church'—a decent, flowery, down-hill
way to eternal destruction
, and there are many who
take that road!

The sweetest ingredients in the cup of life

(James, "The Widow Directed to the Widow's God" 1841)

The purest happiness of an earthly nature, is that which
springs up in a comfortable home, where there is a loving
union of hearts between man and wife.

The tender sympathies,
the delicate affections,
the minute attentions,
the watchful solicitudes,
the ceaseless kindnesses of marital love,
—are the sweetest ingredients in the cup of life,
and contribute a thousand times more to earthly
enjoyment, than all the possessions of wealth, and
all the blandishments of rank, station, and fashion.

You are the one who has done this!

(James, "The Widow Directed to the Widow's God" 1841)

"They all know that the the hand of the Lord has
 done this. In His hand is the life of every creature
 and the breath of all mankind." Job 12:9-10

"Be still, and know that I am God." Such is the admonition
which comes to you—and which comes from heaven. It is God
Himself who has bereaved you
—through whatever second
causes He has inflicted the blow. Not even a sparrow falls to
the ground without His knowledge—much less a rational and
immortal creature. He has the keys of death, and never for a
moment entrusts them out of His hand—the door of the
sepulcher is never unlocked, but by Himself!

Though men may drop and die as unheeded by many, as the fall
of the autumnal leaf in the pathless desert—they die not by
Every incident which has reduced you to your present
sorrowful condition, is an individual decision of infinite wisdom.
Whether therefore, the death of your husband was slow or
sudden; at home or abroad; by accident or disease—it was
appointed, and all its circumstances arranged, by God. Be still,
therefore, and know that He is God, who does His will among
the armies of heaven, and the inhabitants of earth, and allows
no one to question His proceedings.

Bow down before Him with unqualified submission—and find
relief in acquiescence to His wise and sovereign will.

Submission forbids all passionate invective; all rebellious
language; all bitter reflections on second causes; and all
questionings about the wisdom, goodness, or equity of
the God of Providence. You should not only suppress all
murmuring and complaining language—but all thoughts
and feelings of this kind. Submission is that state of the
soul under afflictive dispensations of Providence, which
produces an acquiescence in the will of God—as just, and
wise, and good. It expresses itself in some such manner
as the following. "I deeply feel the heavy loss I have
sustained, and my nature mourns and weeps. But as I
am persuaded it is the Lord's doing, who has a right to
do as He pleases, and who is at the same time too wise
to mistake, and too benevolent to put me to unnecessary
pain—I endeavor to bow down to His holy will."

Did we really believe in the doctrine of Providence, and
that He who superintends its administration, unites to an
arm of omnipotence—
a mind of infinite knowledge, and
a heart of boundless love—submission would be easy!

Christian mourner, consider God as the author of all your
trials—as well as of all your comforts! View Him as your
Father! Be assured that He loves you too well to do you
any harm! Be confident that He is making all things work
together for your good!

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

Continually churning up mire and dirt!

(John Angell James, "Christian Love" 1828)

"The wicked are like the troubled sea, which cannot
 rest, whose waves are continually churning up mire
 and dirt
." Isaiah 57:20

Until the carnal mind, which is enmity against God,
is regenerated and brought to love God supremely,
there can be no true happiness or peace. As long as
the heart is under the dominion of selfishness, and
all those lusts and passions to which it gives rise,
it must be miserable!

In the absence of Christian love, the human bosom
must be the seat of uneasiness and distress.

Happiness does not arise from possessions, so much
as from dispositions. Happiness is not what a man has,
or where he dwells—but what he IS. The great source
and springs of felicity, are rooted in our nature. There
are certain dispositions, the absence of which would
render heaven a place of torment to us; and others,
which would raise for us an Eden in the midst of the
dreariest wilderness on earth.

It is true that many, in the absence of Christian love,
pretend to some kind of enjoyment, and have it too;
for there are 'pleasures of sin', such as they are. But
as to solid happiness—that which befits and satisfies
a rational, moral, and immortal creature—it may with
the greatest truth be affirmed, that the wicked are
like the troubled sea which cannot rest—but is
continually churning up mire and dirt!

As well may we expect quietude and comfort in a den
of wild beasts, or in a field of battle—as in a heart
where the vile passions of anger, wrath, malice, envy,
pride, and revenge—have taken up their abode and
predominate. How demon-like is the feeling when
these turbulent evil passions gain the ascendancy!
What agitation and what torment are the result!

"The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual
 immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and
 witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage,
 selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy;
 drunkenness, orgies, and the like." Galat. 5:19-21

The pastor

(John Angell James, "Christian Love" 1828)

"We were as gentle among you as a mother feeding
 and caring for her own children." 1 Thessalonians 2:7

Oh! what churches we would have, if Christian
love had its full scope!

The pastor would labor with the most earnest,
indefatigable, and unselfish zeal for the eternal
welfare of the flock; and make it evident that
compassion for souls, and not filthy lucre—was
the impulse of all his conduct. Affection would
beam in his eyes, and breathe in his spirit, while
"the law of kindness" would dwell on his lips.

He would preside over the people in the meekness
of wisdom; and, instead of proudly lording it over
God's heritage, he would rule them in love.

Over all his talents, however brilliant, he would put
the 'garment of humility'. And, with respect to all his
success, however great, he would speak in the language
of modesty. He would neither envy his more gifted or
successful brethren, nor proudly vaunt over his inferiors.

To all under his pastoral care, even the most illiterate
and poor, he would conduct himself with the humility
and love of true benevolence. He would labor to correct
their errors, whether doctrinal or practical; and have
no greater joy than to see them walking in the truth!

"Be an example to all believers in what you teach, in the
 way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity."
    1 Timothy 4:12

The meek and gentle and passive virtues

(John Angell James, "Christian Love" 1828)

The meek and gentle and passive virtues of the
gospel, are generally looked upon with disesteem,
and treated with contempt by the world. Is . . .
  poverty of spirit,
  the forgiveness of insults,
  patience under provocation,
—admired, applauded, imitated? Quite the contrary!

The men who would practice these Christian graces,
must make up their minds to endure the world's scorn,
and to be treated as poor weak-spirited creatures.
And yet this is the spirit of true piety—for this is the
disposition of Jesus!

When Jesus Christ came into the world, He found it full
of the notion that human glory consisted in ambition,
pride, and revenge. Hence He took particular pains to
correct this notion, giving, in His sermon on the mount,
a delineation the very opposite of this. Indeed, the
design of that sermon was to rectify the mistakes then
universally prevalent on the subject of true piety and
of happiness; and to teach the world that His disciples
were to be pre-eminently distinguished by . . .
  thirsting after righteousness.

These are the qualities of a true Christian, and everyone
who bears the character, must sedulously cultivate its
appropriate dispositions, and be willing to bear the ridicule
to which they will expose him. Bearing their scorn, he will
wait with patience for that world where humility and
meekness will be honored and rewarded—and love, their
parent disposition, be crowned with glory!

The flaming scimitar of the Sultan

(John Angell James, "Christian Love" 1828)


This system of imposture, abounding as it does with
minute and ridiculous ceremonies, and a slavish regard
to absurd ritual observances; enforces, by the authority
of its founder, the most ferocious and blood-thirsty
hatred to all who do not receive it with implicit faith.

Wars against all other religions are not only enjoined
in many passages of the Koran—but are declared to be
in a high degree 'meritorious' in the sight of Allah.

How completely Islamism has filled its votaries with the
most ferocious bigotry and the most merciless intolerance,
is known by universal testimony. They everywhere pour
insulting contempt upon all who are not Muslims, and
feel a savage delight in adding cruelty to insult.

The spirit of the system is everywhere visible in the absolute
despotism of the governments of those countries in which it
prevails. Where Islam is found, the arts and the sciences do not
flourish, and liberty withers in its shade. The flaming scimitar
of the Sultan
is its patron and defense. It was propagated by
the sword, and it is essentially and unalterably cruel.

Such is Islamism—a curse to the world, and the reverse of
all that is holy and beneficent.

A very common supposition

(John Angell James, "Christian Love" 1828)

It is a very common supposition that it is
an easy thing to be a Christian. And if to be
a Christian were nothing more than . . .
  going to a place of worship,
  indulging in pious emotions,
  subscribing to religious institutions, and
  professing certain religious opinions,
—the supposition would be correct—for
nothing is more easy than all this!

But if the spirit of true piety is . . .
  poverty of spirit,
  forgiveness of insults,
  patience under provocation,
  thirsting after righteousness,
—then must it be obvious to everyone who knows
his own heart, that to be a true Christian is the
most difficult thing in the world!

The power of divine teaching

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

"Our gospel came to you not simply with words, but
 also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep
." 1 Thes. 1:5

The main reason why men boggle to understanding the
Scriptures, is from lack of an experience of the truths
set forth in them. They lack the right key which fits this
intricate lock, and therefore uselessly poke at it with
false keys, which, though they cannot spoil the lock,
plainly show the ignorance of the workmen.

Unless, by the power of divine teaching, we can enter
in some good measure spiritually and experimentally into
the grand and glorious truths of the everlasting gospel,
we can neither see their peculiar beauty, nor feel their
peculiar sweetness and blessedness.

One gracious purpose of mercy!

(John Angell James, "Christian Love" 1828)

"And we know that God causes everything to work
 together for the good of those who love Him
, and are
 called according to His purpose for them." Romans 8:28

Providence is God's government of the universe.

Providence is that mighty scheme . . .
  which commenced before time was born;
  which embraces the annals of other worlds besides ours;
  which includes the history of angels, men, and devils.

Providence comprises the whole range of events which
have taken place from the formation of the first creature,
to the last moment of time—with all the tendencies,
reasons, connections, and results of things.

Providence encompasses the separate existence of
each individual, with the continuation and influence
of the whole, in one harmonious scheme.

We are puzzled at almost every step, at the deep,
unfathomable mysteries of Providence!

How often is Jehovah, in His dealings with us, a God
who hides Himself! How often does He wrap Himself in
clouds, and pursue His path upon the waters, where we
can neither see His goings, nor trace His footsteps!
How many of His dispensations are inexplicable, and
of His judgments how many are unfathomable by the
short line of our reason!

But whatever we don't know now, we shall know hereafter.
The crooked will be made straight, the clouds of darkness
will be scattered, and all His conduct towards us placed in
the broad day-light of eternity.
We shall see how all the varying, and numerous, and
seemingly opposite events of our history, were combined
into one gracious purpose of mercy, which was most
perfectly wise in all its combinations.

Delightful, most delightful, will it be to retrace our winding
and often gloomy course, and discern at each change and
turning, the reason of the occurrence and the wisdom of God.
Delightful will it be to discern the influence which all our
temporal circumstances—all our disappointments, losses,
and perplexities—had upon our permanent and celestial
happiness. How much of divine wisdom, power, goodness,
and faithfulness, will our short and simple history present,
and what rapturous fervor will the discovery give to the
song of praise which we shall utter before the throne of
God and the Lamb!


He will slay his idols

(Letters of William Tiptaft)

Real religion will find its way to the heart,
and its effect will be manifest in the life.

The Spirit's work is so little understood in the
present day. It is the work of the Holy Spirit
to convince of sin, to break the heart, and to
plough up the fallow ground.

When the Lord has taken a poor sinner in hand
He will never leave him, but will surely purge
away his dross and tin. He will slay his idols,
and tear him from those things he so much loves.
He will not be aware how many idols he has, until
God shows him in a measure the deceitfulness of
his heart.

The more God's children are taught spiritually, the
greater fools do they become in their own eyes; and
the more they know of their own wicked and vile state
by nature, the more are they astonished that God
should show mercy to such poor worms of the earth.

The serpent's poison taints infant veins

(Henry Law, "Numbers" 1858)

Alas! what broods of vileness nestle in man's
heart! As wave succeeds to wave, sin presses
on the heels of sin. If a brief calm seems to give
peace, a fiercer storm soon rises. The seeds of
evil, for a while concealed, revive as weeds in
spring. All human history proves this.

We are pilgrims journeying through a wild
wilderness. It is infested with the old serpent
and his brood.
At every step, at every turn, we
meet some forked attack. Each day the mischief
taints our veins. Satan's least touch is fatal
venom. In Eden he began his murderous work.
And still his fiery darts fly round.

No mother's son escapes.

The serpent's poison taints infant veins.

All earth is perishing, but earth brings no relief.

SELF has no help.

The LAW is no physician. Its glance detects
disease. Its voice proclaims the hopeless state.
But it holds no cordial remedy in its stores . It
denounces the leprous spots. It sternly sentences,
and leaves the wounded to expire.

MAN cannot help himself; or save his brother.

No rites,
no forms,
no services,
can suck out sin's poison.

All are surely lost, unless God had decreed to heal.
So all the 'serpent-wounded' upon earth must surely
have sunk down to hell, unless free mercy had most
freely pitied. But He who said, 'Raise up a serpent
on the pole', said also, 'Lift up My Son upon the
accursed tree'.

"And as Moses lifted up the serpent on a pole in
 the wilderness, so I, the Son of Man, must be
 lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Me
 will have eternal life." John 3:14-15

He has rescued us!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"The human heart is most deceitful and desperately
 wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?" Jer. 17:9

"For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,)
 dwells no good thing." Romans 7:18

There is nothing in man by nature apart from
God, which is not vile and deceitful.

If there is anything good in me,
if I have been transformed by the renewing of my mind,
if I am regenerate,
if I have passed from death unto life,
if I have been taken out of the family of Satan,
if I am adopted into the family of God's dear Son,
if I am now no longer an heir of wrath,
if I am a now a child of heaven,
then all these things are of God, and in no sense,
and in no degree whatever, are they of myself!

"For He has rescued us from the kingdom of
 darkness and has brought us into the Kingdom
 of His dear Son." Colossians 1:13

The whole Bible, condensed into a single term!

(John Angell James, "Christian Hope" 1859)

I heard the sound of a vast crowd in heaven shouting,
"Hallelujah! Salvation is from our God!" Revelation 19:1

What a word! And what a blessing!

One word—but containing millions of ideas!

It is the whole Bible, condensed into a single term!

God's eternal councils;
Christ's redeeming work;
the Spirit's sanctifying power;
all the riches of divine grace;
all the blessings of eternal glory,
are in substance comprehended in those few syllables!

That one word is a boundless, fathomless ocean
of blessedness—it passes knowledge!

All that preachers have ever said;
all that authors have ever written;
all that Christians have ever felt, imagined, hoped for,
leave its full meaning yet to be explained.

It can be comprehended only in heaven!

It can be developed only in eternity!

I heard the sound of a vast crowd in heaven shouting,
"Hallelujah! Salvation is from our God!" Revelation 19:1

The faults of great men

(J. C. Philpot, "Pastoral Sketches")

Luther did not come forth as a theologian fully furnished
with a scheme of doctrines, or as a warrior armed at all
points—but advanced slowly, as himself a learner, from
one position to another, gradually feeling his way onward;
taking up no ground on which he had not been clearly set
down, and which he could not firmly maintain from the
express testimony of God.

It is true that this gradual progress of his mind involved
him at times in contradictions and inconsistencies, not
to say mistakes and errors—which his enemies have
availed themselves of, to sully and tarnish one of the
noblest characters, both naturally and spiritually, that
the world has ever seen.

Admiration, or what a popular writer of the present day
calls "hero-worship," should not indeed blind us to the
faults of great men
. But a discerning eye, while it admits
Luther's inconsistencies, sees displayed more manifestly
thereby, the mercy and wisdom of God.

The Lord, indeed, was no more the author of Luther's
errors than He was of Luther's sins! But as He mercifully
pardoned the one, so He graciously passed by the other,
and over-ruled both to His own glory!

Satan's Vicar

(John Angell James, "Christian Hope" 1859)

The three great works of the devil are . . .
  and Popery.

The Mohammedan power, symbolized in the book of the
Apocalypse by the "false Prophet," is, with the Papal Beast,
to be cast into the lake which burns with brimstone and fire.

We are aware of the dreadful nature of Popery. We regard
Popery as the masterpiece of Satanic deceit and malice

—his richest trophy, and his proudest triumph. The Pope is
more Satan's Vicar, than that of Christ, upon earth. And
the Vatican his chosen seat of dominion among men.

Idolatry was a prominent Satanic invention. Mohammedanism
was a mighty stretch of diabolical craft. But Popery transcends
both! The other two were devices outside the pale of Christianity
—Popery is within it. They opposed Christianity—Popery corrupts it.
They try to destroy it—Popery goes far to make it destroy itself!

The rotten plank!

(John Angell James, "Christian Hope" 1859)

Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter
the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will
of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on
that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name,
and in Your name drive out demons and perform many
miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew
you. Away from Me, you evildoers!' Matthew 7:21-23.

These dreadful words should sound through the whole church
with the solemnity and impressiveness of an alarm bell. What
a salutary fear and trembling they should awaken! To what a
close and anxious examination they should lead!

Mistaken professors are going by myriads to the bottomless
Myriads and myriads are walking to eternity over the rotten
of a 'formal and insincere profession', which will break
beneath their feet and let them fall into the burning gulf below!

I will never cease to sound the note of warning to these deluded
professors. For not only is it a dreadful thing to go down to the
pit with a lying profession, but a possible thing! Not only is it a
possible case, but a common one! "MANY will say to Me on
that day!"

Distress in heaven?

(James, "The Christian Father's Present to His Children" 1825)

Will it cause distress in heaven, to know that our
unsaved beloved friends and relatives are forever lost?

The only way of solving this difficulty, is to realize that a
perfect knowledge of God, and of the wisdom and justice
of all His designs and operations, will constitute a chief
part of the happiness of heaven. We shall be . . .
  so convinced of the equity of His dealings towards the wicked,
  so divested of all the weakness of 'human sentimentalism',
  so absorbed in the love of what is right and just,
that the absence of our loved ones from the world of
, will cause no interruption of our heavenly bliss!

This, I acknowledge, is now hard to conceive. The day shall
reveal it. "Now we know in part and we prophesy in part, but
when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears." 1 Cor. 13:9-10

After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great
multitude in heaven shouting: "Hallelujah! Salvation and
glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are His
" And again they shouted: "Hallelujah! The smoke
from her goes up for ever and ever!
" Revelation 19:1-3.