Grace Gems for SEPTEMBER 2005

The panacea for the world's evils
(John Angell James, "Christian Missions" 1828)
The secret of the world's moral renovation, and the
panacea for the world's evils
, lies compressed in
that one expression of the apostle Paul, "Christ Jesus
came into the world to save sinners!"

O blessed hurricane!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep
 Your word. It was good for me to be afflicted, so that
 I could learn Your statutes." (Psalm 119:67, 71)

In seasons of severe trial, the Christian has nothing on
earth that he can trust to, and is therefore compelled to
cast himself on God alone. When no human deliverance
can avail, he must simply and entirely trust himself to
the providence and care of God. Happy storm that wrecks
a man on such a rock as this! O blessed hurricane that
drives the soul to God—and God alone!

When a man is so poor, so friendless, so helpless that he
has nowhere else to turn—he flies into his Father's arms,
and is blessedly clasped therein! When he is burdened with
troubles so pressing and so peculiar, that he cannot tell
them to any but his God, he may be thankful for them; for
he will learn more of his Lord then, than at any other time.

Oh, tempest-tossed believer, it is a happy trouble that
drives you to your Father!

This city has so aroused My anger and wrath!

(John Angell James, "The Crisis—or, Hope and Fear
Balanced, in Reference to the Present Situation of
the Country
" Sunday Morning, Nov. 28, 1819)

"From the day it was built until now, this city has so
 aroused My anger and wrath
that I must remove it
 from My sight!" Jeremiah 32:31

Let us devoutly acknowledge both the source and
the justice of our calamities. The origin of the evils
that afflict us, is often to be found in the sins which
disgrace us.

Sin is the only thing in all the universe which God
hates, and this He abhors wherever He discovers it.

With our limited understanding, and feeble powers of
moral perception, it is impossible for us to form an
adequate idea of the evil of sin, or the light in which
it is contemplated by a God whose understanding
is infinite, and whose purity is immaculate. That law
which men are daily trampling upon, equally without
consideration, without reason, and without penitence,
is most sacred in His eyes, as the emanation and the
transcript of His own holiness. He is also omnipresent
and omniscient. There is not a nook or corner of the
land from which He is excluded. Of every scene of
iniquity He is the constant, though invisible witness.
The whole mass of national guilt, with every the
minutest particular of it, is ever before His eye!

His justice, which consists in giving to all their
due, must incline Him to punish iniquity—and His
enables Him to do it!

He is the moral governor of the nations, and
concerned to render His providence subservient
to the display of His attributes. And if a people so
highly favored as we are, notwithstanding our
manifold sins, escape without chastisement—will
not some be ready to question the equity, if not
the very exercise of His administration?

His threatenings against the wicked are to be found
in almost every page of holy Scripture. Nor are the
threatenings of the Bible
to be viewed in the light
of mere unreal terrors, as clouds and storms which
the poet's pencil has introduced into the picture; the
creatures of his own imagination, and only intended
to excite the imagination of others.

No! They are solemn realities, intended to operate
by their denunciation as a check upon sin; or if not
so regarded, to be endured in their execution as a
punishment upon our sins! Scripture gives us many
examples in which this has happened. It has preserved
an account of the downfall of nearly all the chief empires,
kingdoms, and cities of antiquity; and that, not as a
mere chronicle of the event, but as a great moral
lesson to the world. Scripture carefully informs us,
that sin was the cause of their ruin!

terrify with their eruptions, and submerge
towns or cities beneath their streams of lava!

Earthquake's convulsive throes bury a population
beneath the ruins of their own abodes!

Hurricanes carry desolation through a country!

Famine whitens the valleys with the bones of the
thousands who have perished beneath its reign!

Pestilence stalks through a land, hurrying
multitudes to the tomb, and filling all that
remain with unutterable terrors!

Wars have been agents in the unparalleled
scenes of bloodshed and misery!

Scripture proclaims that these are to be regarded
as a fearful exposition of the evil nature of
, written by the finger of God upon the tablet
of the earth's history!

Visit, in imagination, my countrymen, the spots
where many of these cities once stood, and you
shall see nothing but desolation stalking like a
specter across the plain, lifting its eye to heaven,
and exclaiming, amidst the silence that reigns
around, "The kingdom and the nation that will
not serve You, shall utterly perish!" As you stand
amidst the moldering fragments of departed
grandeur, does not every breeze, as it sighs
through the ruins, seem to say, as a voice from
the sepulcher, "See, therefore, and know that it
is an evil and a bitter thing to sin against the Lord!"

Let us devoutly acknowledge both the source and
the justice of our calamities. The origin of the evils
that afflict us, is often to be found in the sins which
disgrace us.

"From the day it was built until now, this city has so
 aroused My anger and wrath
that I must remove it
 from My sight!" Jeremiah 32:31

"The Lord your God pronounced this disaster against this
 place. The Lord has brought it about, and has done as He
 said. Because you sinned against the Lord and did not
 obey his voice, this thing has come upon you."
    (Jeremiah 40:2-3)

I kill

("The Death of Eminent Ministers, a Public Loss"
 A funeral sermon by J. A. James, Nov. 6, 1825)

'Chance' has nothing to do with death! Not the outcast
infant of a day old, exposed by its unnatural mother to
perish by the tiger or the vulture; nor even the sparrow
that dies of hunger in its nest—passes out of life without
the knowledge of God.

"Don't be afraid!" said Christ, "I am the first and the last,
the living one. I was dead, but now I am alive forever! I
have the keys of the unseen world and of death!" What
consolation is there in this sublime declaration! The key
of death is never for a moment entrusted out of His hands
—and never can be wrested from them! Every time a
human being dies
, it is by an act of His power, in turning
the key which unlocks the gates of death! Our life is under
the constant and strict observation of His omniscient eye!
He determines the moment when to take the key from His
belt, and throw the portals of immortality back on their
mighty hinges!

O, what comfort does this impart to us, in reference to
our own lives—to know that exposed as we are to all the
accidents and diseases of this 'world of changes', and
enveloped as we are in darkness as to the consequences
of the next step, and the events of the next hour—that we
cannot die by a random stroke, or by a blind chance! The
key of death must be turned by Him who is infinitely
wise, and powerful, and good!

"See, I am the only God! There are no others. I kill,
 and I make alive! I wound, and I heal, and no one
 can rescue you from My power!" Deuteronomy 32:39

That one majestic, inconceivable,
and expressive word

(J. A. James, "The Death of Mrs. Sherman" May 28, 1848)

"And this is the promise that He Himself made to us:
 eternal life." (1 John 2:25)

In the infinite comprehensiveness of this one promise are
included all that the omniscient mind of the Father in the
exercise of His love has contrived in eternity; all that the
incarnate Son has obtained by His sacrifice upon the cross;
and all that the Divine Spirit has revealed upon the page of
Scripture; and all which is contained in that one majestic,
inconceivable, and expressive word

I do not need flamboyant descriptions and eloquent
representations of the celestial state, to raise my desires
and hopes. It is enough to know that it is GLORY, first
prepared, then promised, and ultimately bestowed by
Jehovah—as the concentration of His infinite beneficence
and the full manifestation of His boundless benevolence!

Heaven is . . .
  the absence of all evil, natural and moral;
  the possession of all possible good;
  a glorified body united with a perfect soul,
and all this in the immediate presence of God!

There we shall see God!

We shall not only see Him—but love Him!

We shall not only love Him—but serve Him!

We shall not only serve Him—but enjoy Him!

We shall not only enjoy Him—but hold such
communion with Him as will assimilate
us to the all-perfect source of our felicity!

The objects of our contemplation,
our situation,
our companions,
our personal constitution,
our constant exercises of holy intellect, heart, and
volition—will be so many distinct sources of bliss!

Perfect knowledge,
perfect holiness, and
perfect love must of necessity
open the fountain of perfect joy!

No secondary concern will call off our unwearied
attention from the service of God; no sin or pain
will interrupt us in it; nor will death ever dismiss
us from it. The business and the blessedness of
that happy state are the same—our supreme
delight will be our constant employment.
Every sense will be an inlet,
every faculty a capacity, and
every energy a pulsation—of the purest bliss!

Heaven will be "life" . . .
  life in perfection,
  the life of the soul,
  the life of God,
  the life of eternity!

But to describe it, how vain and arrogant the
attempt, when even to conceive of it is impossible!
"In Your presence is fullness of joy! At Your right hand
there are pleasures for evermore!" Neither language
nor thought can go beyond this! Mind cannot conceive
more. God Himself can tell us no more, than that
heaven consists in His presence, and the enjoyment
of His favor—forever and ever!

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind
 has imagined the things that God has prepared for
 those who love Him!" (1 Corinthians 2:9)

The base cares and the petty enjoyments
of the present world

John Angell James)

Sin is raging all around us!

Satan is busy in the work of destruction!

Men are dying!

Souls are every moment departing into eternity!

Hell is enlarging her mouth, and multitudes are
continually descending to torments which knows
no mitigation and no end!

How astounding is it sometimes to ourselves, that,
the base cares and the petty enjoyments of
the present world
should have so much power
over us, as to retard us in our heavenward course,
and make us negligent and indolent, heedless and

Time is short!

Life is uncertain!

is at hand!

is about to swallow up our
existence in eternal life—or eternal death!

Heaven expanding above us!

Hell is yawning beneath us!

Eternity is opening before us!

It is by faith

(J. A. James, "The Death of Mrs. Sherman" May 28, 1848)

It is by faith, as an operative principle of universal obedience
to the gospel of Christ, that the believer "purifies his heart" and
adorns his character with "the beauties of holiness," through
the power of the Divine Spirit.

It is by faith that he overcomes the world . . .
  the dread of its frown,
  the desire of its smile,
  its evil maxims,
  its corrupt principles.

It is by faith that he . . .
  quenches the fiery darts of the wicked one,
  is delivered from the wiles of the devil,
  and bruises the serpent's head.

It is by faith, as a pilgrim and stranger upon earth, he
nourishes the desire for, and indulges the expectation of,
that country which God has promised to those who love Him.

It is by faith
that he rises superior to the love of life, vanquishes
the fear of death, and while this monster puts his most horrid
form of mischief on—he smiles at his terrors, and, swelling into
rapture, exclaims, "O death, where is your sting!"

Essential to eminent usefulness

(John Angell James)

A revived church is the best hope of a lost world.

A revived ministry the best hope of a dormant church.

Under 'a great show of outward profession', there is a lamentable
deficiency of vital godliness in our churches. Much of the prevailing
benevolence and activity of the church, are a mere substitute for
spiritual religion—rather than the expression of vital godliness.

In our churches, it is easy to perceive . . .
how much more welcome is the
'humorous'—than the serious;
how much more anxious the audience is to be 'entertained'
    —than to be edified;
how much greater homage is paid to the 'talent' of the preacher
    —than to his piety!

In fact, our public meetings sometimes assume rather the
character of 'religious amusements'—than pious worship!

It ought never to be forgotten that a church meeting, if rightly
understood, is a company of people brought together to carry
out the design for which the Son of God expired upon the cross!
Surely the frame of our minds, and the tone of the sermons,
and the spirit and tendency of the whole worship service, ought
to be in strict harmony with such a purpose. Yet many of our
church meetings have rather lowered, than elevated the tone
of our piety, and thus enfeebled our real strength for carrying
on this great work.

Eminent piety is
essential to eminent usefulness!

It is eminent piety alone, which will enable us to take a clear
and impressive view of the object to be sought, and supply
the energies necessary for obtaining it.

It is eminent piety alone, which will purify our motives, and produce
that spirit of profound humility, self-denial, dependence, and entire
consecration—which are necessary to qualify us for the work.

It is eminent piety alone, which will keep up the spirit of faith and
prayer, to which the divine promises are made. We must become . . .
  more devout,
  more prayerful,
  more holy,
  more heavenly,
  more spiritual.

He secretly wishes there was no Supreme Being

(J. A. James, "Dislike to Ministerial Faithfulness
 Stated and Explained")

The fool says in his heart, "There is no God!"
     (Psalm 14:1)

His sinful disposition is at deadly enmity with the
perfection of the Divine character. The holiness of
God is the object of his abhorrence—as long as this
exists he cannot be at perfect peace. The rays of Divine
purity, as often as they fall upon his disordered mind,
must disturb and exasperate it. He secretly wishes
there was no Supreme Being
—or that He was not holy.
If his powers were equal to his desires, he would . . .
  wrest the sword of justice from the hand of Deity,
  strip the character of Jehovah of the beauties of holiness,
  dash in pieces the tables of His law,
  overturn the throne of judgment,
  and establish the reign of anarchy,
in order that he might sin in peace, and escape the
punishment of his wickedness!

The very existence of a holy God is, and ever must be, an
annoyance to him, in whose mind there are combined . . .
  the love of sin,
  a dread of its consequences, and
  a wish to be unmolested in his course of iniquity.

Flesh-pleasing pulpit opiates!

(J. A. James, "Dislike to Ministerial Faithfulness Stated and Explained")

They are a rebellious people, deceptive children, children who do
not obey the Lord's instruction. They say to the seers, "Do not
see," and to the prophets, "Do not prophesy the truth to us. Tell
us flattering things!
Prophesy illusions! Get out of the way!
Leave the pathway. Rid us of the Holy One of Israel." Is. 30:9-11

It is a striking fact, that He who was love incarnate; who was
mercy's messenger to our lost world; who was named Jesus,
because He was to be the Savior of His people; who was the
manifestation of God's love to man—delivered, during the
course of His personal ministry, more fearful descriptions of
Divine justice and the punishment of the wicked, than are to be
found in any other part of the Word of God! What can exceed
the solemn scene of the parable of the rich man in torments?
Hell and destruction are there set openly before us.

No man can fulfill his ministry, therefore, without frequently
alluding to the justice of God in the punishment of sin.
He must seek to alarm the fears of the unconverted by a
representation of the consequences that will follow a state
of final impenitence.

Such a subject frequently calls up all the enmity of the carnal
mind. To be told, not only that they are sinners—which all will
admit in general terms—but that their sins are such as to deserve
the wrath of God, such as to expose them to the torments of hell,
and such as will infallibly bring them to the bottomless pit—unless
they truly repent; to be told again and again that they are hastening
to perdition; to have the rod of Divine vengeance shaken over their
heads; to have all the dreadful curses of the violated law analyzed,
ascertained and announced; to have this done in their hearing, and
done frequently; to be made to sit and hear their future eternal
doom, and thus to be tormented before their time—is what they
cannot, and will not endure! Unable to bear any longer his pointed
addresses to the conscience, they will leave his ministry—for the
flesh-pleasing pulpit opiates of some flatterer of men's souls,
who is too cowardly to trouble the minds, or alarm the consciences
of those who love smooth, flattering and delusive preaching.

To be publicly denounced as deserving Divine wrath; to be told
that they are sinners to such a degree as to merit the eternal
punishment of a holy God; to be reminded that, instead of their
fancied good heart, pure nature, and blameless life—they are,
in the sight of God, depraved in every faculty and polluted in
every part; to be represented as unfit for communion with God
here, and for His presence hereafter—all this is so opposed to all
their notions, so mortifying to their vain pride, so degrading to
their dignity, that they cannot but dislike it. To such a debasement
they would not willingly descend; and hence their demand for the
teaching of deceit, and the smooth speech of falsehood. What
they want is to be flattered into a good opinion of themselves.
They hate the doctrine which disturbs their self-delight, and
revile the man who attempts to tell them the solemn reality
of how vile they are!

Slaves of the WORLD

J. C. Philpot, "The Master's Bounty")

In our natural state, we are all the
slaves of the world

What the world presents—we love.

What the world offers—we delight in.

To please the world;
to get as large a portion as we can of its goods;
to provide amply for ourselves and our children;
to obtain and maintain a respectable station in it
—this is the grand bent of man's carnal heart.

"He died for our sins, in order to rescue us from
 this evil world in which we live." Galatians 1:4

"You have died with Christ, and he has set you
 free from the evil powers of this world." Col. 2:20

"God purchased you at a high price. Don't be
 enslaved by the world." 1 Corinthians 7:23

"Don't copy the behavior and customs of
 this world." Romans 12:2

Slaves of SELF

J. C. Philpot, "The Master's Bounty")

In our natural state, we are all the slaves of SELF.

Self in its various forms . . .
  proud self,
  lustful self,
  covetous self,
  righteous self,
  self in some shape or other, is
the idol before whom all carnal knees bow,
the master whom all carnal hearts serve.

Do you remember little Elizabeth?

(J. A. James, "The Sunday School Teacher's Guide")

"He who wins souls is wise." Proverbs 11:30

My 'imagination' has sometimes presented me with this
picture of a faithful teacher's entrance to the state of her
everlasting rest. The agony of death finished, the triumph of
faith completed—and the conquering spirit hastening to her
crown! Upon the confines of the heavenly world, a divinely
lovely form awaits her arrival. Enrapt in astonishment at the
dazzling glory of this celestial inhabitant, she inquires, "Is
this Gabriel, chief of all the heavenly multitudes—and am
honored with his aid to guide me to the throne of God?"

With a smile of ineffable delight, such as gives fresh beauty
to an angel's countenance, the mystic form replies, "Do you
remember little Elizabeth
, who was in yonder world—a
pupil in your Sunday school class? Do you recollect the child
who wept as you talked to her of sin—and directed her to the
cross of the dying Redeemer? God smiled with approbation
upon your effort, and by His own Spirit sealed the impression
upon her heart in characters never to be effaced. Providence
removed her from beneath your care, before the fruit of your
labor was visible. The gospel seed, however, had taken root,
and it was the privilege of another to water—what you had
sown. Nourished by the influence of heaven, the 'plant of
piety' flourished in her heart, and shed its fragrance upon
her character. Piety, after guarding her from the snares of
youth, cheered her amidst the accumulated trials of an
afflicted life, supported her amidst the agonies of death,
and elevated her to the mansions of immortality! And now
behold before you—the glorified spirit of that poor child,
who, under God, owes the eternal life on which she has
entered—to your faithful labors in the Sunday School; and
who is now sent by our Redeemer to introduce you to the
world of glory, as your first and least reward for guiding the
once thoughtless, ignorant, wicked Elizabeth
to the
world of grace! Hail, happy spirit! Hail, favored of the Lord!
Hail, deliverer of my soul! Hail, to the world of eternal glory!"

I can trace the scene no further! I cannot paint the raptures
produced in the honored teacher's bosom by this unexpected
encounter. I cannot depict the mutual gratitude and love of
two such spirits meeting on the confines of heaven—much
less can I follow them to their everlasting mansion, and
disclose the bliss which they shall enjoy before the throne
of God! All this, and a thousand times more, is attendant
upon the salvation of one single soul! Teachers, what a
motive to diligence!

Amidst surrounding millions, the faithful teacher shall stand
to receive the public plaudits of his Judge and Savior—"In as
much as you have done it unto the least of these My brethren
—you have done it unto Me! Well done, good and faithful
servant, enter into the joy of your Lord!"

This most hateful disposition!

(J. A. James, "The Sunday School Teacher's Guide")

Temptations vary with our circumstances, but there
is no scene from which they are entirely excluded.
There is no situation, however obscured by solitude,
or elevated by piety—from which all temptations can
be effectually shut out. The fact is, that as our chief
arises from our own evil heart. Until we can
be separated from our vile selves, we shall look in
vain for a spot sequestered from the attack of

One temptation to which Sunday School teachers
are exposed, is a spirit of PRIDE.
To be a teacher of others;
to be invested with authority;
to be regarded as an oracle;
to be listened to with deference;
is a situation which has its temptations, and which
some weak minds have found quite too powerful for
the growth of humility.

You mistake, if you suppose that merely being a teacher
of children, is too small to induce pride. Pride is a vice
that does not dwell exclusively in king's houses, wear
only elegant clothing, and feed sumptuously every day
upon lofty titles, fame or affluence. Pride . . .
  is generated in the depravity of our nature,
  accommodates itself to our circumstances,
  and adapts itself to our taste!

Pride is found as often in the poor cottage, as in the elegant
mansion. Consciousness of superiority—whatever be the
object of comparison—is the basis of this most hateful
of pride; and this may be supplied even from
the office of a Sunday School teacher!

Be watchful therefore, over your own heart—for the loss
of humility is a destruction in the Christian character
which cannot be repaired by the most splendid talents,
or the most active zeal.

A viper which will suck their blood!

(Henry Law, "Psalms")

"Evil shall slay the wicked." Psalm 34:21

The wicked embrace evil. It is a viper
which will suck their blood!

They greedily drink the cup of pleasure,
but it is deadly poison!

"Evil shall slay the wicked." Psalm 34:21

The desire of our soul

J. C. Philpot)

"The desire of our soul is to Your Name, and
 to the remembrance of You." Isaiah 26:8

How sweet and expressive is the phrase, "The desire
of our soul
!" How it seems to carry our feelings with it!
How it seems to describe the longings and utterings of
a soul into which God has breathed the spirit of grace
and mercy!

The breathing of our heart,
the cry, the sigh, the panting of our new nature,
the longing of our inmost being, the . . .
    thirstings, and
    ventings forth
of the new man of grace; all are expressed in
those sweet and blessed words, "The desire
of our soul

And what a mercy it is, that there should ever be
in us "the desire" of a living soul; that though the
righteous dealings of God are painful and severe,
running contrary to everything nature loves; yet
that with all these, there should be dropped into
the heart that mercy, love, and grace, which draw
forth the desire of the soul toward the Name of God.

"My soul yearns for You in the night; in the morning
my spirit longs for You!" Isaiah 26:9

Is your soul longing after the Lord Jesus Christ?

Is it ever, in the night season, panting after the
manifestation of His presence? hungering and
thirsting after the dropping of some word from His
lips, some sweet whisper of His love to your soul?

These are marks of saving grace. The carnal, the
unregenerate, the ungodly, have no such desires
and feelings as these.

Every child is totally depraved

(J. A. James, "The Sunday School Teacher's Guide" 1816)

It is important for you, in all your exertions, to bear in mind
the total and universal depravity of the human race. By total
, I do not mean that people are as bad as they can
be; for in general they lie under strong restraints—and most
do not sin with reckless abandonment. I do not mean that
they are all equally wicked; for some are less sinful than others.
I do not mean that they are destitute of everything useful, and
lovely in society; for their social affections are often strong and
praiseworthy. I do not mean that their actions are always
wrong; the contrary is manifestly true.

What I mean by total depravity, is an entire destitution in the
human heart by nature—of all spiritual affection, and holy
propensities. In this view, every child is totally depraved.

To change this state of the mind, and produce a holy bias; to
create a new disposition; to turn all the affections into a new
channel, and cause them to flow towards God and heaven, is
the work of the omnipotent and eternal Spirit!

Fly to Jesus!

(Octavius Winslow, "My Times in God's Hand")

Oh! the unutterable blessings that flow
from a vital union with the Lord Jesus!

All of your cares are His cares.
All of your sorrows are His sorrows.
All of your needs are His supply.
All of your sicknesses are His cure.

Believer, nothing can....
  separate you from the love of Jesus,
  nor sever you from His care,
  nor exclude you from His sympathy,
  nor banish you from His heaven of eternal blessedness!

Fly to Jesus in the confidence of a loving Friend.
Reveal to Him your secret sorrow.
Confess to Him your hidden sin.
Acknowledge your backsliding to Him.

Tell Him your needs, your sufferings, your fears.
Tell Him how chilled your affections to Him are.
Tell Him how reserved is your obedience.
Tell Him how imperfect is your service.
Tell Him how you long to . . .
   love Him more ardently;
   follow Him more closely;
   serve Him more devotedly;
   and to be more wholly His.

Gently rubbed off by the hand of love

(John Angell James, "The Sin of Scoffing at Religion" 1824)

"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness
 sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you
 when others revile you and persecute you and utter all
 kinds of evil against you falsely on My account. Rejoice and
 be glad, for your reward is great in heaven!" Matt. 5:10-12

Consider it your honor to be persecuted for righteousness sake.

The richest laurel that can adorn your brow is the scorn of fools!

The praise of the wicked is censure—and their satire is praise.

Every feeble mind can scoff, but only the wise man can bear it well.

The scorner is below a man; but the man who bears scorn
patiently is like an angel.

Instead of indulging in revenge, exercise forgiveness!

You have reason rather to be grateful to the scoffer, than to
be angry with him. His foul breath, though it seems to tarnish
your reputation for awhile, yet being gently rubbed off by
the hand of love
, shall only prepare it for a brighter luster.

And it shall be proved hereafter that the scorner was the
occasion of adding one more gem to the crown of glory
which shall adorn your brow with unfading honor!

Pity him, for he is indeed more an object of your pity than
of your contempt. Thus prove to the scoffer that the religion
which he ridicules, subdues the turbulent and angry passions,
teaches its possessor to forgive iniquities against himself, and
implants the godlike disposition of returning good for evil.

The sum total of worldly enjoyment in those two ciphers!

(John Angell James, "Youth Warned!" 1824)

"I have seen everything that is done under the sun. Look at
 it! All is vanity and vexation of spirit!" Ecclesiastes 1:14

The design of Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes seems to
be this—after detailing the good things of life to the widest
extent, setting them in the strongest light, and granting to
them every possible advantage which their most passionate
admirers contend for—to demonstrate, that as they are
attended with so many inseparable evils, are so short-lived
in their continuance, so unprofitable in the hour of death,
and so utterly useless in the eternal world beyond the
grave—that they are insufficient for the needs of the soul,
and inadequate to the eternal happiness of man.

No one was more capable of forming a correct opinion on
this subject than Solomon; since no man ever commanded
more resources of earthly delight than he did, or ever more
eagerly availed himself of the opportunities which he
possessed. And yet he grew disgusted and dissatisfied
with sensual pleasures, and at length gives us the sum
total of worldly enjoyment in those two ciphers

—vanity and vexation of spirit!

His testimony, therefore, is to be considered as that of
a man who had drunk the cup of earthly pleasures
to its dregs
—and who found those dregs to be
wormwood, gall, and poison!

The worst enemy of mankind!

(J. A. James, "Character & Reward of the Faithful Minister")

"being examples to the flock." 1 Peter 5:3

"He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus,
 which agrees with what I teach everywhere in
 every church." 1 Corinthians 4:17

They expect to see our descriptions of piety copied into our
own conduct; and happy the man who having set forth true
godliness in his discourses, in all its beautiful proportions and
all its glowing colors, shall constrain the audience to exclaim,
"The painter has delineated his own likeness!" Happy the man
who, when the people shall ask, "What is true religion?" shall
be not only able to reply in reference to his pulpit, "Come and
hear," but in reference to his life, "Come and see!"

He alone is an honor to his pastoral office, who lives the
gospel which he preaches, and adorns by his conduct the
doctrines which he believes. But the unholy minister is
a disgrace to Christianity, and the worst enemy of
He is the most powerful abettor of infidelity,
and does more to wither the eternal interests of mankind
than the most malignant and pestiferous treatises that ever
issued from the press. If he perished alone in his sins, our
feelings might be those of unmingled pity. But when we
view him ruining the souls of others by his example, we
unite abhorrence with our compassion, just as we would
at the conduct of the shepherd who first drove his flock over
a precipice, and then dashed himself upon the rocks below!

An insatiable thirst after larger attainments

(John Angell James, "Small Beginnings Not to Be Despised")

The man who thinks he has enough godliness—gives a
decisive proof that he has none at all. There is in true
piety, an insatiable thirst after larger attainments . . .
  in knowledge,
  in faith,
  in hope,
  in love,
  in purity.

Therefore let every real Christian adopt the language of
Paul, and act up to the assertion, "Not that I have already
reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make
every effort to take hold of it because I also have been
taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do not consider
myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do—
forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what
is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by
God's heavenly call in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:12-14

He cannot forget

(J. A. James, "Christian Mercy Explained and Enforced")

"Whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life,
 but the wrath of God remains on him." John 3:36

The Christian realizes that the whole human race is in
a state of sin and ruin; suffering all the consequences
of sin in this world—and exposed to the bitter pains of
eternal death in the world to come. He is convinced
that without a fitness for the pure and spiritual joys of
heaven, not one individual of all the millions who are
continually passing into eternity, can ascend to the
realms of glory and felicity. They appear, in his eyes,
to be actually perishing, and hence he is filled with
the tenderest concern, and affected with the deepest
sorrow. In his estimation . . .
  the most agonizing diseases,
  the most pinching poverty,
  the greatest deprivation,
  and the heaviest cares,
are as nothing, compared with those miseries
which sin has brought upon the deathless soul.

He cannot forget
, that the soul, if not saved, will
become immortal in its suffering and wretchedness.

"Whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life,
 but the wrath of God remains on him." John 3:36

Delusive signs!

John Angell James)

There are delusive signs of spiritual health and vigor.

Increased ability and disposition to 'talk of religion' in
the way of explaining and defending its doctrines, may
be mistaken for an increased influence of it in the heart.
Yet this may be nothing but the working of pride, or an
effusion of vanity.

To have a knowledge of the truths of Scripture, without
an experience of their influence upon the heart, is only
walking to the bottomless pit with the torch of truth
in our right hand!

Zeal for some peculiar notions or forms, may be thought
to be pure concern for God's glory. Yet all the while it
may only be the most rancorous party spirit.

Liberality in giving may be merely self-righteousness
or ostentation.

Undeviating formality may be erroneously thought
to be ardent devotion.

Enthusiastic attachment to some novel opinion, may
be erroneously supposed to be spirituality of mind.

These are but a few specimens of the errors into which
people fall, in judging spiritual health and vigor. And
they tend to show the vast importance of our having
a scriptural knowledge of the correct tests of personal

As he snuffs the gale of popular applause!

(J. A. James, "
Ministerial Duties Stated and Enforced")

"In all things approving ourselves as the ministers
 of God
."  2 Corinthians 6:4.

This verse implies that ministers are to labor for God—
surely not for the preacher's fame. SELF is an idol which
has been worshiped by far greater multitudes than any
other deity of either ancient or modern heathenism.
A minister is the last man in the world who should be
seen at the altar of this vile abomination—SELF. And yet
without great care he is likely to be the first one there,
to linger there the longest, to bow the lowest, and to
express his devotion by the costliest sacrifices!

Many become ministers merely to acquire popular
applause. 'Fame' is their motive and their aim. To
commend themselves, is the secret but powerful
spring of all they do. SELF is with them in the study
directing their reading, selecting their texts, arranging
their thoughts, forming their illustrations—and all with
a view to 'shine in public'. Thus prepared, they ascend
the pulpit with the same object which conducts the
to the stage—to secure the applause of approving
spectators. Every tone is modulated, every emphasis
laid, every attitude regulated—to please the audience,
rather than to profit their souls; to commend themselves,
and not Jesus Christ. The service ended, this bosom idol
returns with them to their own abode, and renders them
restless and uneasy to know how they have succeeded.
If they are admired, they receive their reward; if not,
the first prize is lost!

It is nothing in abatement of the sin, that all this
while evangelical sentiments are uttered. Orthodoxy
is the most direct road to popularity. Christ may be
the text—
when SELF is the sermon! And dreadful
as it seems, it is to be feared that many have elevated
the cross only to suspend upon the 'sacred tree' their
own honors! and have employed all the glories of
redemption—merely to emblazon their own name!

The ministry is not intended to be a platform, where the
petty manufacturer of 'tinsel eloquence' and 'rhetorical
flowers' shall display to a gaping crowd his gaudy wares!

When carried to this height, this is the direst, deepest
tragedy that was ever performed by man, since it ends
in the actual and eternal death of the performer, who
forgets, as he snuffs the gale of popular applause,
that it bears the vapors of damnation!

"The Spirit took me to the north gate of the temple's
 inner courtyard, where there was an idol that
 disgusted the Lord and made Him furious!
    (Ezekiel 8:3)

This heavenly magnet!

(J. A. James, "The Attraction of the Cross" 1819)

"But God proves His own love for us, in that while we
 were still sinners, Christ died for us!" Romans 5:8

It magnifies the love of God, to consider the guilt,
sinfulness and unworthiness of its objects.

As an exhibition of unparalleled love, the cross melts
and captivates the heart! Think of the attraction of the
—when the love which it exhibits, is seen and felt
by a mind under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

What was it, my readers, which melted your hard and
frozen hearts into penitence, and gratitude and love?
What was it that drew you away from your sins? What
was it that brought you as willing captives to the feet
of Jesus? It was the love of God beseeching you upon
the summit of Calvary, and with open arms bidding
you welcome to the heart of Deity!

Everything else united to repel you. The terrors of justice
petrified you with horror, and despair was binding you
more closely than ever to your sins—until divine mercy
appeared and told you there was hope for the guilty—in
this heavenly magnet—the cross of Christ!

Gathering around the very cradle of his infant!

(J. A. James, "Parental Desire, Duty, & Encouragement")

The godly parent reflects on the destiny of that being which
with rapture, he calls his child. He penetrates the disguise
which the 'helplessness and unconsciousness of infancy'
seem to have thrown around that child, and discovers the
grandeur and the dignity of an immortal being! He sees in
his countenance, that face which is to shine like the sun in
the skies with the glory of God—OR to be clouded with the
infamy and horror of the divine curse! He hears a voice
which is to be forever hymning the praises of its Creator
—OR to be forever venting blasphemies against its Judge!

In short, he contemplates a being born for eternity; one
who will be forever towering from height to height of glory
in heaven—OR sinking from gulf to gulf of despair in hell!

He reflects that his child is born with the latent seeds
of sinful corruption in his nature, which await only the
advancing 'spring of life' to vegetate, to strike root, to
spring up under the fatal warmth of temptation, and
bear the bitter fruits of rebellion against God.

He sees, in imagination, the world, the flesh and the
, gathering around the very cradle of his infant,
fixing their murderous eyes upon his immortal soul and
going out to prepare for his ruin!

He realizes that his child possesses an immortal soul,
which is in danger of being forever undone! To desire
anything for him less than the salvation of his child's
immortal soul, is cruelty of the blackest kind!

The hand of faith

(John Angell James, "
The Christian Professor")

the hand of faith opens to lay hold of
Christ, it drops the sin it had grasped before.
You must part with your sin—or Christ.