Grace Gems for AUGUST 2005

I follow like a little blind child

(J. A. James, "The Practical Believer Delineated")

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

Strong faith has a firm persuasion of God's over-ruling
Providence—so comprehensive as to include the destinies
of empires and worlds; and so minute as to extend to
individuals. Strong faith believes that God's Providence is . . .
  ever active,
  ever directing,
  ever controlling, and
  ever subordinating
all things to His own purposes and plans.

Strong faith is a conviction of this great truth—so deep, so
satisfying, and so tranquilizing—as not at all to be shaken
by the chaotic aspect of human affairs, or the prevalence
of gigantic evils.

A weak faith must give way before . . .
  the deep mysteries,
  the confounding events,
  the defeats of what is good, and
  the triumphs of what is evil,
which are perpetually going on in our world's history.

The stream of Providence is . . .
  so twisting,
  so dark,
  apparently so murky, and
  occasionally so devastating;
that it requires strong faith believe that it is the
work of God and not of chance; and that if it is the
work of God—it must be just, and wise, and good.

In the darkest dispensations of Providence affecting
ourselves, strong faith realizes that it is all from God;
and must therefore be wise, and just, and good. To be
able really say, "It is well. I am sure it is right. I cannot
tell how it is right. I do not understand why this deep
afflictive Providence came. I can find no key to unlock
the mystery. But I am as confident that it is right, as if
God's whole purpose were transparent to my reason, and
I could see the event in all its connections, bearings, and
results. I cannot see how or why—but I believe that my
deep affliction is for God's glory and my ultimate benefit. I
know that God causes everything to work together for good."

Faith assures us that the darker, the more confounding, the
more disappointing events—are all right and just, and good.

Strong faith walks on amid shadows and darkness, grasping
the arm of God, believing that He is leading us, and will lead
us right. Strong faith gives up all into His hands, saying,
"I cannot even see a glimmering of light! I cannot see where
to place my next step! But I can most implicitly trust in the
wisdom, power, and truth of God! I follow like a little blind
, grasping the hand of his father!"

Times of great troubles and difficulties, are seasons and
opportunities for the exercise of faith. God is always the
Christian's best refuge—and often his only one!
He is
sometimes reduced to extremity, and is compelled to say,
"He alone is my rock and my salvation! My help comes only
from the Lord! No one else will help me—no one else can!"

Sense and reason both fail. No door of escape presents
itself—nor any way of relief. There is nothing left for him
to do, but to take up the promise and carry it in the hand
of faith, knock by prayer at the door of mercy, and as he
stands there to say, "Find rest, O my soul, in God alone!
My hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my
salvation! He is my fortress, I will not be shaken. Yes,
Lord, You have bid me come, when I could go nowhere
else. And here according to your command and promise I
will remain—waiting, trembling, yet believing and hoping.
I am sure You will come and help me. My heavenly Father
knows the necessities of His poor helpless child, and He
will come in His own time, and in His own way, and I will
wait for him. My bread will be given me, and my water
will be sure."

A cold chill fell upon their hearts!

(John Angell James, "
The Christian Professor" 1837)

It has frequently occurred, that young converts in the
ardor of their first love, and while much unacquainted
as yet, with what is called the 'religious world', have
looked upon the church as a 'sacred enclosure', within
which dwelt a kind of heavenly inhabitants, who could
think or speak of little else than the glory which awaited
them. In the church, these novices expected to find . . .
  the sweetest and holiest fellowship,
  an almost unearthly spirituality, and
  an uninterrupted strain of pious conversation.

But alas! What a woeful disappointment did the reality
produce! In the 'sacred enclosure' they found worldly
minded professors—almost as intent upon seen and
temporal things, as those they had left out in the world!

In the 'vestibule of heaven', they beheld professors . . .
  covered with the 'earthly dust',
  disordered with worldly concerns,
  and given up to worldly amusements!

In the church members, they saw little but worldly
conduct, and heard little else but worldly conversation!

A cold chill fell upon their hearts, which checked
the ardor of their pious affections; and even they,
lately so fervent, soon sunk and settled down into
the lukewarmness of those among whom they had
come to dwell.

Vacationing at resorts?

(John Angell James, "The Christian Professor" 1837)

The line of distinction between the world and the
church is fast disappearing.

What shall be said of the conduct of some professing
Christians vacationing at resorts? It has become
almost one of the necessaries of life to Englishmen,
to pay an annual visit to the coast, or to one of our
inland places of resort. To say that this is wrong to
those who can afford to pay for it, is certainly not
my intention. But some professing Christians have
ruined themselves, and plunged their families into
poverty and distress, by habits of expense and
idleness, acquired by this annual excursion to the
sea. The taste of the age is for luxurious gratification,
and it is certainly one of these luxuries to while away
a week or two amidst the beauties of the coast, or
the mirthful throng of a fashionable lounging place.

I will suppose, however, that the professor can afford
the gratification; still, are not his spendings for this
enjoyment, out of all due proportion with his donations
to the cause of Christ? When did he ever give, in one
amount, to any Christian cause, what he gives, in one
amount, for his treat to his family to a resort? No, put
together all that he gives to the cause of the Lord for
a whole year, and does it equal what he spends upon
one vacation, lavishing hundreds—or thousands, in
riding into the country, or sailing on the sea, and
luxuriating in other ways on the shore.

When a world is perishing, and immortal souls are
sinking daily in crowds to perdition, a Christian
should look, with grudging eye, on almost every
dollar he spends in luxury!

Are there no 'perils for piety' in a vacation resort?
Temptations abound everywhere, entering like a
poisoned atmosphere into every place—but surely
no one will deny, that they are found in greater
number and force in those places, which fashion
has set apart for relaxation and amusement.

The mixed society to be found in such haunts of
pleasure; the amusements which are resorted to;
and the general air of wastefulness which pervades
the whole scene—are all uncongenial with the spirit
of piety, which flourishes best in silence and solitude.

Those who frequent vacation resorts, seem as though
the object of their existence is to spend it in pleasure.
Is this proper behavior for the self-denying, humble
followers of a crucified Savior?

It is indeed to be feared that some professing Christians,
when they set out on their summer's vacation, leave their
religion at home, in order that nothing may interrupt their
pursuit and enjoyment of pleasure. Many have gone to
places of fashionable resort to have their piety lastingly
injured; and some to lose it altogether. They started a
retrograde course in piety from that day when they
went joyfully and thoughtlessly to the coast in search
of recreation. Surely, surely, then, it cannot be thought
unseasonable or unnecessary to raise a warning voice,
and to make it loud and strong when it is becoming
increasingly prevalent among professing Christians to
seek in this species of gratification, a temporary release
from the "dull cares of home, and the plodding pursuits
of business."

A chameleon kind of religion

(John Angell James, "The Christian Professor" 1837)

"So that you may be blameless and pure, children of
 God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted
 generation, among whom you shine like stars in
 the world." (Philippians 2:15)

Saving religion is not merely an occasional act—but
a permanent habit, resulting from an internal principle.

Saving religion is a principle so fixed as to constitute
a new moral nature; and so steadily operative, as to
form an unchanging character.

A real Christian is a Christian always, everywhere,
and in all companies
. He carries his piety with him
wherever he goes, as an integral part of himself. It is
not like his clothes which may be continually altered, or
varied to suit his situation, occupation, and company.
He needs his piety everywhere, he loves it everywhere,
and is commanded to let it be seen everywhere.

But among most professors of Christianity, there is
too much of a chameleon kind of religion, which
takes its hue from surrounding objects. This is seen
most conspicuously in the conduct of those who have
a flexible, yielding, easy-going kind of piety—which
accommodates itself to changing circumstances, by
little sacrifices of principle and consistency.

A golden image in the house!

(John Angell James, "The Christian Professor" 1837)

It is quite evident that covetousness is indeed the sin
of the church. In this wealthy age and country, there
is imminent peril of professing Christians forgetting
their high calling, and living only to get riches. We see
them toiling and panting in pursuit of the golden object
of ambition.

It is not the possession of wealth that we should dread;
but the inordinate desire, the dishonest means, the undue
love, and the covetous hoarding of it! Wealth justly
obtained, and piously spent, is a blessing—not a curse.

I am quite aware, that it is difficult to have money and
not love it. It is hard indeed to have a golden image
in the house
, and not worship it!

Wealth often produces the pride of life—so opposite
to the humility and poverty of spirit, which is essential
to the nature of true religion.

Wealth often generates a worldly-mindedness, which
makes its possessor contented with seen and temporal
things, and disposes him to mind only earthly things.

Wealth often leads to a prevalent feeling of independence,
so unlike that habitual trust and reliance on God, which
the Scriptures require.

Wealth often originates, and keeps up, both the care and
perplexity of getting, and the anxiety of disposing; and
thus exhausts the vigor as well as time, upon worldly
objects—leaving the soul neglected, impoverished, and

Wealth is the green and flowery mount from which
many have slid down into the bottomless pit!

Yes, wealth has a tendency to do all this, in consequence
of the depravity of our hearts, and thus to cast stumbling
blocks in the path of salvation.

"But godliness with contentment is a great gain. For
 we brought nothing into the world, and we can take
 nothing out. But if we have food and clothing, we will
 be content with these. But those who want to be
fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and
 harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and
 destruction. For the love of money is a root of all
 kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered
 away from the faith and pierced themselves with many
 pains. Now you, man of God, run from these things;
 but pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love,
 endurance, and gentleness." (1 Timothy 6:6-11)

One hour in hell

(John Bunyan, "Run for Heaven!")

Worldling! One hour in hell will burn out all
the enjoyment you have had in worldly things;
and then you shall suffer untold pains forever
and ever and ever!

"He will also drink the wine of God's wrath,
 which is mixed full strength in the cup of His
 anger. He will be tormented with fire and sulfur
 in the sight of the holy angels and in the sight
 of the Lamb, and the smoke of their torment
 will go up forever and ever!" (Rev. 14:10-11)

The silent influence in parental conduct

(John Angell James, "
The Christian Professor" 1837)

Parents have a great power of influence over the
minds and hearts of their children. Their children
are almost continually with them—they are seen by
them in nearly all they do, in their habitual conduct,
and character at home. They are . . .
  heard in what they say;
  seen in what they do;
  studied in all their behavior;
by little ears, and eyes, and minds,
which are scarcely ever closed!

The child's heart is soft and pliable to a father's or a
mother's influence. Their constant influence has been
molding him from the dawn of reason. What, then,
ought to be the parents' behavior at home? The whole
cultivation, and direction, and management of a child's
mind, from the very dawn of reason, should be carried
on with special reference to the formation of Christian
character. This should be the one thing, to which all
other things should be subordination.

The silent influence in parental conduct
is far
greater, either for good or for evil, than most parents
are aware of. They teach by what they say, they
influence by what they do; and also by what they
do not say, and do not perform.

The pious parents, who embody a meek, benevolent,
ardent, and consistent godliness in their character,
exert a tremendous influence over the minds of their

But oh! the dreadful contrast in the case of those
parents who are characterized by . . .
  ungodly dispositions,
  worldly associations,
  mirthful and extravagant living,
  trifling conversation, and
  lack of all seriousness and spirituality.

Oh! what can be expected from such parents—but
children who regard their religion with disgust?

Every man is best known at home. Parents are
ever doing something to prejudice their children in
favor of true religion—or to prejudice them against it;
doing something to draw them into the church—or to
drive them into the world; lending a helping hand to
lead then to heaven—or taking them by the hand
and leading them to hell.

Parents! Must you employ your influence in ruining the
souls of your children—and sending them to perdition?
Oh! tremble at the interview you must have with them
at the day of judgment, and the dialog you must hold
with them forever in the bottomless pit!!

The evidence of genuine piety

(John Angell James, "
The Christian Professor")

The evidence of genuine piety is to be found in . . .
  real humility,
  hungering and thirsting after righteousness,
  sorrow for sin, and
  a continual effort to regulate your thoughts,
    feelings, and conduct by the Word of God.

Genuine piety will not thrive and increase without
effort—but is of so tender and delicate a nature as
to require great, constant, and persevering concern,
watchfulness, and care. 

Encroaching, absorbing, and destructive!

(John Angell James, "The Christian Professor" 1837)

"Their minds are fixed on earthly things." Phil. 3:19

This is a concise, emphatic, and accurate description
of a worldly man. His supreme, yes, exclusive desire,
aim, and purpose, is to get as much, and enjoy as much,
of the world as he can. He thinks of nothing else, and
wishes for nothing else. His hopes and fears, joys and
sorrows, desires and dread—are all of the earth, earthly.

The worldly mind has an exclusive regard to, and
wish for, earthly possessions and enjoyment. It makes
the world the highest object of pursuit, and the chief
source of enjoyment. This shows itself in various ways,
  a love of pleasure in one;
  avarice in another;
  ambition in a third;
  exclusive delight in home in another.

If a professing Christian partakes of this spirit, he is
worldly-minded. If he appears like one whose supreme
aim is to be rich and happy on earth; if he appears to
be continually intent on increasing his wealth and
multiplying his comforts; if he looks like a man
who is entirely occupied in enjoying himself here
on earth—he is a worldly-minded man.

You must resist the encroaching, absorbing,
and destructive
influence of the world in all
its many fascinating forms!

Consider that you have . . .
  a soul to be saved,
  a hell to avoid,
  a heaven to obtain!

Eminent piety

(John Angell James, "The Christian Professor")

Eminence in piety signifies our having all the parts
of the Christian character in considerable strength,
and in attractive proportions.

Eminent piety is always accompanied by . . .
  a large measure of spiritual affections;
  a struggle for universal holiness;
  a desire and endeavor for purity of heart;
  a prevailing taste for divine and heavenly things;
  a walking with God;
  a living by faith;
  a setting our affections on things above;
  a being dead to the world;
  a mortification of sin in the heart;
  a proneness to devout meditation;
  a delight to hold communion with God;
  a fondness for the Scriptures;
  a large portion of love to the brethren;
  an inflexible integrity;
  a liberality for the cause of Christ;
  an ardent love of biblical ordinances;
  an enjoyment of the peace that passes understanding;
  a frequent experience of spiritual joy;
  an exquisite tenderness of conscience;
  a mind which trembles at sin;
  a constant penitential frame for our many imperfections;
  a holy watchfulness against sins . . .
    of the life,
    of the tongue,
    of the imagination
    and of the heart!

Piety is not an abstract system of doctrine and
ethics. It is a constant movement of the heart,
to the splendor and attraction of the cross of

Love to Christ is the spring of all Christian piety!

This is eminent piety—to be always in sight of the
cross, having fellowship with Christ; so that we
shall truly comprehend the meaning and feel the
force of the Apostle's words, "for me to live is

The worst viper in the human heart!

Jonathan Edwards)

Pride is the worst viper in the human heart!
Pride is the greatest disturber of the soul's
peace, and of sweet communion with Christ.

Pride is with the greatest difficulty rooted out.

Pride is the most hidden, secret, and deceitful
of all lusts!

Pride often creeps insensibly into the midst of
religion, even, sometimes, under the disguise
of humility itself!

That man will never be a proud man!

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

Humility may well be called the 'queen of the
Christian graces'. To know our own sinfulness
and weakness, and to feel our need of Christ,
is the very beginning of saving religion.

Humility is a grace which has always been the
distinguishing feature in the character of the
holiest saints in every age. Abraham, and Moses,
and Job, and David, and Daniel, and Paul—were
all eminently humble men. Humility is a grace
within the reach of every true Christian.

Would we know the root and spring of humility?
One word describes it. The root of humility is right
knowledge. The man who really knows . . .
   himself—and his own heart;
   God—and His infinite majesty and holiness;
   Christ—and the price at which he was redeemed;
that man will never be a proud man!

He will count himself, like Jacob, "unworthy
of the least of all God's mercies!"

He will say of himself, like Job, "I am vile!"

He will cry, like Paul, "I am chief of sinners!"

Ignorance! nothing but sheer ignorance! ignorance . . .
    of self,
    of God,
    of Christ,
is the real secret of pride! From that miserable
self-ignorance may we daily pray to be delivered!

He is the wise man who knows himself! And he
who knows himself, will find nothing within to
make him proud.

A showy and expensive style of living

(John Angell James, "Christian Fellowship" 1822)

"Tell those who are rich in this world not to be proud
and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone.
. . . Tell them to use their money to do good. They should
be rich in good works and should give generously to those
in need, always being ready to share with others whatever
God has given them." 1 Timothy 6:17-19

It is the incumbent duty of rich Christians, to consecrate a
large portion of their affluence, to upholding the cause of
truth. Let them, in order to abound more and more in such
efforts, as well as to exhibit a bright example of pure and
undefiled religion, avoid all unnecessary worldly conformity,
and all expensive modes of living.

There is, in the present age, a disposition, even in professing
Christians, to
a showy and expensive style of living, which
cannot be more effectually repressed, than by the plain and
simple habits
of those who are known to have an easy access
to all the elegancies and splendors of life.

Rich Christians ought to be far more anxious to give—than
to hoard their fortunes. When we enter their mansions and
see magnificence in every room, luxury on every table; when
we see their extravagant dress and decor, we cannot help
saying, "How much ought a disciple of Jesus, who lives in
this manner, to give away to the cause of Christ, before
he is justified in such an expenditure!"

In short, the VICES to which rich Christians are more
particularly exposed, and against which they should
vigilantly guard, are . . .
  love of money,
  worldly conformity.

The VIRTUES to which they are called to exercise are . . .
  gratitude to God;
  humility and meekness to men;
  frugality and temperance towards themselves;
  liberality, together with tender sympathy to their
poorer brethren; and a generous regard to the support
of the cause of pure religion and general benevolence.

Not markedly different

(J. A. James, "The Christian Professor" 1837)

When I look into the New Testament, and read
what a Christian should be
, and then look into
the church of God, and see what Christians are
I am painfully affected by observing the dissimilarity!

That worldly spirit to which our age of growing
selfishness and luxury gives rise, is exceedingly
adverse to Christianity, whose elements are
faith, hope, love.

The church of Christ at present, is sadly mixed up
with both the spirit of the world, and many of its
. The great bulk of professing Christians
are not markedly different from the 'followers
of pleasure' and the 'worshipers of Mammon'.

I am in agony in this fire!

(J. A. James, "
The Practical Believer Delineated" 1852)

The rich man called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on
me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water
and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire!'
But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime
you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad
things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony!'
    Luke 16:24-25

It is a grievous fact that many an ungodly sinner walks in
a flowery path to perdition—and goes merrily to his eternal
ruin. It is, on the contrary, as certain that many a godly
Christian travels by a rough and toilsome road to heaven
—and ascends to glory amid many tears. Our Divine Lord
has set forth this in the most solemn of his parables—the
rich man and Lazarus. If we looked only at the outward
and earthly condition of these two men, we would say
one is the type of all that is felicitous; while the other
is the type of all that is miserable.

But who that looks upon their eternal abode, would not a
thousand times rather be Lazarus with his poverty, sores,
and beggary, feeding at the rich man's gate upon the crumbs
which fell from his table—than the wealthy possessor of the
mansion, with his purple and fine linen and daily luxurious
living! Look up at the one who has dropped all his poverty,
borne by angels to Abraham's bosom! And then look down
upon the other, stripped of his splendid garments, deprived
of his luxurious living, and from the midst of his torment
begging for a drop of water to cool his parched tongue—and
there see the end and outcome of 'sanctified poverty' and of
'unsanctified wealth'.

What a heaven!

(J. A. James, "The Practical Believer Delineated")

Heaven will consist of . . .
  the moral perfection of the soul,
  perfect knowledge,
  perfect holiness,
  perfect love,
  perfect likeness to Christ,
  perfection of the body in . . .
      glory, and
  the presence of God in the full manifestation of His glory,
  the beatific vision of Christ,
  the fellowship of angels and all the redeemed,
  the joint worship of the heavenly multitudes,
  the perfect service of Christ, without . . .
      imperfection, or
  complete freedom from . . .
      sorrow, and

Such is the substance of heavenly felicity. Take
any one of them by itself—and each is a heaven!
Add them altogether—and what a heaven!

How pure! How elevated! How felicitous!


(J. A. James, "The Practical Believer Delineated")
Glance at the good which afflictions are calculated to effect,
and do effect in all cases where they are sanctified. As the
bee sucks honey from many a bitter herb—so faith extracts
good from bitter sorrows!

How sorrows crucify him to the world—and the world to
him; sometimes gently drawing him away from the world
—at others forcing him out as by a violent wrench!

How trials mortify his pride and cure his vanity!

How afflictions restore him from his backslidings and bring
him again to God from whom he has departed. How they
revive his lukewarm religion and quicken him in prayer. How
they make him feel that religion is after all his great concern.

Yes, there is more learned sometimes in one great affliction,
than from a thousand sermons, or a library of books!

He has some secret source of happiness

John Angell James, "Christian Fellowship" 1822)

It is highly incumbent upon Christians, to take care against
a worldly spirit. They are in extreme peril of losing the
power of godliness from their hearts, and joining the number
of those, of whom it is said, in the expressive language of
Paul, that "they mind earthly things!"

Such earthlings look upon the possession of wealth as "the
one thing needful." Wealth is their chief object of pursuit,
the chief source of happiness. Nothing modifies or mitigates
their desire for riches. They are of the earth, earthly!

Now certainly a Christian is, or ought to be, of another spirit
than this! He should be industrious, frugal, and persevering
in his attention to the concerns of this world. But still there
should be in his mind, an ultimate and supreme regard for
the possession of everlasting life. He ought not to be slothful
in business; but then he must be fervent in spirit, serving the
Lord. He should be seen to unite the 'diligent worker' and
'sincere Christian'—and to be busy for both worlds.

The men of this world should be constrained to say of him,
"This man is as attentive to business, and as diligent in it
as we are; but we can perceive in all he does, an inflexible
regard to morality, and an invariable reference to piety. We
can discover no lack of diligence or prudence; but it is perfectly
evident, that his heart and highest hope are in heaven. He is
neither so elated in prosperity, nor so depressed in adversity,
as we are. He has some secret source of happiness, of which
we are not possessed! His eye is upon some driving force,
which we do not recognize."

What a testimony!

Who can obtain a higher one?

Who should seek less?


The last pang, and groan, and tear!

(J. A. James, "Afflictions")

The Christian also looks to the end of afflictions! The end
may sometimes come in this world. In reference to this, the
utmost that the believer can be sure of is—that they will end
in God's time.
They may last for his whole life. The sickness
which afflicts his body may be unto death! The loss which he
has sustained in his property may be irreparable, and poverty
may go down with him to the grave! The trial which beclouds
and distresses his spirits may be his lot for life! But on the other
hand, they may not! God may be bringing him "through fire and
through water to bring him out into a wealthy place." But the
Christian leaves this in the hand of God, and endeavors to
maintain a hope which shall save him from despondency—
checked at the same time by a reverence that guards him
from unwarranted presumption.

But if the end of the trial should not come in this world—it will
come in the next world—when they will not only forever cease,
but leave an eternal blessing behind! "I reckon that the sufferings
of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory
which shall be revealed in us!" "Our light affliction, which is but
for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal
weight of glory!" Four things are set forth in these passages.

1. Our afflictions will have a termination! This is sweet. They are
to end—they are not to last forever! The last pang, and groan,
and tear
are at hand—and how near the Christian never knows!

2. Our afflictions are not to end like those of the brute creation—in
the grave merely—but in heaven! The last pang, and groan, and
are to usher in that blessed state of which it is so beautifully
said, "The Lamb who is in the midst of the throne shall feed them,
and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters—and God shall
wipe away all tears from their eyes!" Heaven shall terminate the
afflictions of the righteous!

3. Heaven is so glorious, that the first view of its scenes, and
the first moment of its enjoyment, shall make amends for the
longest life of the most protracted and intense sufferings!

4. The sufferings of our earthly pilgrimage will
enhance and increase the felicities of heaven!
Their submissive endurance;
the graces which they call into exercise;
the sanctification which they promote;
the heavenly temper which they cultivate,
will be the means of ripening the spirit, and
making it fit for its eternal inheritance!

Every tear that is shed;
every groan that is heaved;
every loss that is sustained;
every moment of suffering that is endured;
every disappointment that is experienced, which is borne
with patience, with resignation, with unwearied holiness—
will not only be followed with millions of ages of ineffable
felicity—but will prepare the soul for its enjoyment, and
add something to its weight and its luster!

If there are but two real Christians in the world

(John Angell James)

There appears to me to be, at the present moment,
a most criminal neglect, on the part of Christian
parents, of the pious education of their children.

That Christian who would carry on a system of pious
education with success, should enforce it with all the
commanding influence of a holy example. Let your
children see all the "beauties of holiness" reflected
from your character, and the grand outline of godly
virtue filled up with all the delicate touches and
varied coloring of the Christian graces.

Let your children have this conviction in their hearts,
"If there are but two real Christians in the world,
 my father is one, and my mother is the other."

It is dreadful—but not uncommon for children to
employ themselves in contrasting the appearance
which their parents make . . .
  at the Lord's table—and at their own table;
  in the house of God—and at home!


Sin is . . .

(John Bunyan)

Sin is . . .

  the dare of God's justice,
  the rape of His mercy,
  the jeer of His patience,
  the slight of His power
  the contempt of His love!

He who trifles with it is a fool!

(J. A. James, "The Practical Believer Delineated")

If the man who trembles at death is a coward; he who
trifles with it is a fool!
There is a thousand times more
rationality in the trembler—than in the trifler!

There is a phenomenon in the rational world well
worthy of consideration, inquiry, and solution—the
strange and fatal insensibility of men to the grand
fact that they are mortal! Since it is infallibly certain
that they must and will die—and since death is so
solemn an event—how does it happen that so few
ever seriously think of it, or really prepare for it?

One would think that so grand and solemn a fact
as death, especially viewed in connection with the
events which are to immediately follow it—heaven,
hell and eternity—along with the uncertainty how
soon it may be realized—might operate with an
unlimited and altogether overpowering influence
upon men's minds and hearts!

But men wish to forget death!

They try to forget it—and alas, too often succeed
in accomplishing this fatal oblivion! Yet we can
scarcely wonder at this, when we consider what
is their spiritual condition—and what death is!

It is the commonness of death, which deprives it
of its extreme dreadfulness. If death happened in
our world only once in a century, it would be felt
like the shock of an earthquake; and would hush
the inhabitants of earth into a breathless silence,
while the echoes of the knell of the departed soul
were reverberating around the globe!

Death is . . .
  the moment of destiny;
  the seal of eternity;
  the cessation of probation;
  the commencement of retribution and judgment!

The antecedents of death are dreadful—so are
the accompaniments—so are the consequences!

To every sense—death is revolting!

To every social affection—death is crucifying!

To reason—death is perplexing!

To everything but saving faith—death is overwhelming!

Traveling to glory, honor, immortality and eternal life!

(J. A. James, "Faith and the Blessings of This Life")

Earth is to its inhabitants, neither a paradise nor
a desert. If it has not all the beautiful scenes and
productions of a paradise—so neither has it all the
dreariness and desolation of a desert. This world is
called "a valley of tears," but it is not less true that
it is sometimes a valley without the tears. It often
wears a smiling aspect, and reflects the light of
God's graciousness and bounty.

We know very well that man's chief portion lies in
the blessings of salvation, and the hope of eternal
glory. These are so vast as almost to reduce all else
to nothing. Full pardon of sin, and the hope of an
eternity of pure and perfect felicity, are such
amazing expectations, as might seem to render
us absolutely indifferent alike to . . .
  poverty and riches;
  pain and ease;
  obscurity and renown.

How little would it signify to him who was going to take
possession of a kingdom and a throne, whether he traveled
through a desert or a garden; or whether he dined meagerly
or sumptuously; or whether he had all best accommodations
and conveniences along the way. His thoughts would be so
engrossed with the permanent scenes of greatness, grandeur,
power, and wealth before him—as to be almost insensible to
the privations or comforts along the way. So it is, with a
Christian traveling to glory, honor, immortality and
eternal life!

It is incumbent upon Christians to let their spirit and
conduct be consistent with the hope of eternal glory,
in that eminent spirituality and heavenliness of mind,
which are manifested in a supreme, constant, and
practical regard to divine and eternal things.

A Christian's habits

(John Angell James, "Christian Fellowship" 1822)

Christian parents should resist the entrance
of worldly conformity into their families.

Expensive entertainments,
mirthful parties,
vain and frivolous amusements,
showy modes of dress,
should be most cautiously avoided!

True religion will not dwell amid such scenes;
her refined and spiritual taste is soon offended,
and she retires.

A Christian's habits should be simple and spiritual.

If it is his aim to approach as nearly as possible to
the manners of the world without actually being
numbered with its votaries, his children will be
restrained with difficulty, on the godly side of the
line of demarcation, and be perpetually longing
and trying to push onward towards worldliness.

The miserable efforts, made by some professing
Christians, to be thought people of taste and
fashion, show how badly they bear the Christian
yoke, and how nearly they are resolved to cast
it away as an encumbrance. We would despise
these things wherever we see them, if they did
not demand claims upon our pity, still stronger
than those upon our scorn.

When a worldly temper has crept into the circle
of a Christian family, piety retires before it, and
the spirit of error soon enters to take possession
of the desolate home.

Christ's seemingly inexplicable conduct

(J. A. James, "The Practical Believer Delineated" 1852)

Behold the Canaanite woman appealing to Incarnate Mercy
for her demon-possessed daughter, beseeching for a cure from
Him who alone could effect it, and whom she believed could, if
He would. What a plea! "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me!
My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession!" One
would think that such an appeal of course will be instantly heard
and granted. "But Jesus gave her no reply—not even a word!"
What! the 'ear of pity' deaf to such a petition! "What!" one
would have imagined she would say, "is this the mercy, the
fame of which has reached even my afflicted home? Will He
not hear me, look on me, answer me? Must I return, and tell
all who come to inquire about my plight—that He would not
bestow a word or even a look, upon me?"

To increase her distress and discouragement, the  disciples
urged Jesus to send her away. "Tell her to leave," they said.
"She is bothering us with all her begging." Is this all the mercy
that could be found in the hearts of all the twelve apostles?
Poor woman, we pity you. There is very little hope for you!

Jesus at length breaks silence, and says, "I was sent only to
help the people of Israel—God's lost sheep—not the Gentiles."
His harsh words are more distressing than His silence!

Still her faith holds on, and her prayer continues, for "she came
and worshiped Him and pleaded again—Lord, help me!" To this
He makes a reply that seems to add insult to neglect. "It isn't
right to take food from the children—and throw it to the dogs!"

Mysterious answer! O Savior, how apparently unlike Yourself!

What must have been the poor widow's reflections—"My heart is
now almost broken—am I not a Gentile woman? and must I be
called a dog? Is it thus He will deny His own character, and
break the bruised reed? Must I go home and look upon my poor
child with the sting of this insult and its venom rankling in my
tortured bosom?"

Surely she will now give up her suit—stop her plea—and renounce
her faith. Yes, she would have done so—had her faith been less
strong. "Yes, Lord," she replied, "but even dogs are permitted to
eat crumbs that fall beneath their master's table!" Marvelous reply,
one of the finest responses which language ever formed, and the
most ingenious reasonings ever drawn.

Jesus could hold out no longer. He could protract the trial no
farther. Like Joseph under the influence of his feelings, when his
heart was moved by the discourse of his brothers; Jesus drops
the innocent disguise which His bursting compassion could not
sustain another moment, and with delighted surprise He exclaims,
"Woman, your faith is great! Your request is granted!"

What was the meaning of all this? What was the secret of Christ's
seemingly inexplicable conduct?
What? He saw He had a subject
which would enable Him to exhibit to the world an extraordinary
instance of faith in prayer, and He determined to draw it forth in
all its power and beauty. His heart was moved towards her from
the beginning. He knew what He would do—and though He beat
her off with one hand, He held her fast by the other.

Here then we have an instance of prayer continued under delays,
apparent neglect, and repulse—and continued through the power
of faith. The woman still believed that there was mercy in that
heart, to which she for a long time appealed in vain, and that
she should ultimately succeed—and she did. "And her daughter
was instantly healed!"

Turn away from the lovely enchantress!

(J. A. James, "Faith's Victory over the World" 1852)

"Stop loving this evil world and all that it offers you, for
 when you love the world, you show that you do not have
 the love of the Father in you. 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 2:15-16

Such is the world that assails the Christian, and which
he must overcome—or perish eternally! He is aware of
his danger from the strength, subtlety, and ever-present
activity of this enemy of his soul.

The whole current of Scripture commands runs against the
love of the world. In every possible form, it is forbidden.

Worldliness is the most thronged road to everlasting ruin!

Worldliness does not merely consist in an intense love
of money, and an excessive eagerness to be rich—but in
a supreme regard to that which is visible and temporal,
whether these relate to the quiet scenes of domestic
comfort, or to those elegancies, splendors, and accumulations
of wealth, which lead a man to seek his highest bliss in these!

The world is a foe which attacks us in various places! In the
shop—by all the temptations incident to trade and wealth. In
the halls of politics and public business—by all the enticements
to pride and ambition. In the places of amusement—by all the
soft blandishments of pleasure. In the haunts of vice—by all the
gratifications of appetite. In the scenes of nature—by all the
delights of taste and imagination. In the walks of science and
literature—by all the delights of intellectual gratification. In the
social circle—by all the enjoyments of friendship. In the domestic
—by all the sweets of marital bliss. Oh, how many are
the scenes where the world meets man and subdues him!

Sometimes the world approaches the believer with a smiling
face, making promises and offering caresses, like the serpent
to our first mother in the garden; or like Satan to our Lord
when he said, "All these things will I give you—if you will fall
down and worship me!" How difficult is it on such occasions
to turn away from the lovely enchantress, to keep the eye
steadily fixed on heavenly glories—and instead of greedily
quaffing the cup of poisoned sweets, to dash it on the ground!

If immorality slays its thousands—the world slays its ten
'Supreme love of the world' will as certainly lead
its possessor to the bottomless pit, as the love of open vice!

Worldliness, I repeat, and repeat with emphasis, is . . .
  the smoothest,
  the most polished,
  the most fashionable,
  the most respectable
path to the bottomless pit!

Victory over the world is subordination . . .
  of the creature to the Creator;
  of earth to heaven;
  of temporal blessings to spiritual ones;
  of time to eternity.

Victory over the world is the formation of an unearthly,
spiritual, divine, and heavenly mind-set and character!

"It was the sight of Your dear cross,
 First weaned my soul from earthly things;
 And taught me to esteem as dross,
 The mirth of fools and pomp of kings!"

How all the splendor of earthly things pales before
that infinitely more resplendent object—Jesus!

All this loveliness of character

(J. A. James, "The Practical Believer Delineated" 1852)

"Without holiness no one will see the Lord." Hebrews 12:14

An unholy person cannot inherit the kingdom of God.

There is a vast difference between sanctification—and the
common morality of life. There are many people who are  . . .
  very amiable in their dispositions,
  very just in their transactions,
  very excellent in all their relationships,
  very lovely in their general character;
but who at the same time, whatever esteem and
affection they may have—are not in a state of
sanctification. They  . . .
  have never been convinced of sin,
  have never exercised faith in Christ,
  have never been born of the Spirit,
  have never been brought to love God.

All this loveliness of character is but the beautiful
wildflower in the wilderness of unrenewed humanity.

There can be no true holiness apart from the principle
of supreme love to God. Until this is implanted in the
soul, we are under the dominion of supreme selfishness
—and all these excellences may be traced up to self!
God's law is not obeyed; God's glory is not sought,
because God Himself is not loved.

It is a melancholy spectacle, to see so much 'general
excellence of character' as we sometimes witness, all
fruitless to its possessor, as regards the eternal world,
for lack of that Divine principle which transmutes all
this apparently beautiful morality, into true godliness.

Without holiness, whatever amiable and lovely qualities
of a general kind we may possess, we are still . . .
  the children of wrath,
  the enemies of God,
  the subjects of unrenewed corruption,
  the heirs of perdition; and
  going on to everlasting destruction!

"Without holiness no one will see the Lord." Hebrews 12:14

He is both depraved and condemned!

(J. A. James, "The Practical Believer Delineated" 1852)

God created man in His own image—which consisted of
true holiness. No spot of guilt was upon his conscience
—nor spot of depravity upon his heart.

The light of truth irradiated his understanding.

The glow of perfect love warmed his heart.

The choices of his will were all on the side of purity.

His conscience was the seat of perfect peace.

The beauties of holiness adorned his character.

His whole soul was in harmony with the untainted
scenes of Paradise—in which bowers he walked in
undisturbed friendship with God.

No sorrow wrung his heart.

No care wrinkled his brow.

No anxiety broke his rest.

He was happy—because he was holy.

When he sinned, his whole moral condition was
altered! He fell under the condemnation of the law
he had violated, and became the subject of inward
corruption. An entire change passed over his nature.
He not only became guilty—but depraved!

His understanding became darkened!

His affections became selfish and earthly!

His will became prone to choose what is wrong!

His conscience became benumbed!

If he would ever be recovered from this state of
misery, he must be both pardoned and sanctified.

The covenant of God's love and mercy in Christ Jesus
—the glorious scheme of redeeming grace—meets the
whole case of fallen man, by providing not only
justification—but sanctification as well.

Wonderful gospel provision!

for the guilty!

for the unholy!

The condition of the sinner may be likened to that of
a condemned criminal shut up in prison, and infected
with a deadly plague! What he needs, is both the cure
of his plague—and the reversal of his sentence. Neither
alone, will meet his case. If he is only pardoned—he will
die of the plague. If he is only cured of the plague—he
will suffer the just sentence of the law.

So it is with fallen man—he is both depraved and
If he is only pardoned—his depravity will
be his misery. If he could by any means be reformed
—he is still under sentence of death.

The glory and completeness of the gospel scheme
is, that it provides a cure for the diseases of the
soul—in sanctification; as well as a pardon from
the condemnation of the law—in justification!

A system of religious pauperism?

(John Angell James)

"Even while we were with you, we gave you this rule:
'Whoever does not work should not eat!' Yet we hear
that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work
and wasting time meddling in other people's business.
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we appeal to
such people—no, we command them: Settle down and
get to work! Earn your own living!" 2 Thesal. 3:10-12

The poor should be conspicuous for their industry, and
should not eat the bread of idleness. The poor have no
right, therefore, to expect, that in consequence of their
association with a Christian church, they are in any
measure released from the obligation of the most
unwearied industry. They are not to be supported
in idleness
, nor ought they to look for any financial
allowance, while they are able to provide for themselves
and their family.

The religion of Jesus Christ was never intended to
establish a system of religious pauperism. It is to
be feared, that many have entered into Christian
fellowship on purpose to obtain its funds! This is a
dreadful case, wherever it occurs, and should make
all the poor members of our churches tremble at
the most distant approximation to such a crime!

The only times in which Christians should feel that
they have claims upon the funds of the church, are
when sickness or old age has incapacitated them for
labor; or when the produce of their industry is too
scanty to procure the necessities of life.

The guardian angels of our churches!

(John Angell James, "Christian Fellowship" 1822)

"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 Cor. 13:2

We must come back to the first principles of practical
piety, and cultivate the passive virtues of the Christian
character. We must remember that Christianity is being
like Christ, and that unless we partake of that love which
is patient and kind, which does not envy, nor boast, nor
is proud, nor rude, nor self-seeking, nor easily angered,
which keeps no record of wrongs—we are nothing!

Strange indeed it is, that men, who by their own
confession are lost, vile, ruined, helpless sinners,
should lack HUMILITY; and that they who believe
themselves to be saved from hell by unmerited
mercy, should be destitute of LOVE!

We must crucify that selfishness, which fixes upon its
own gratification, and cherish that expansive benevolence
which looks upon the good of others. We must contend
to be lowest—not to be highest! We must seek to please,
and not merely to be pleased.

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