Grace Gems for NOVEMBER 2005

How can I flaunt myself proudly?
(A Puritan Prayer)

Merciful Father,
Do not let pride swell my heart. My body is made from
the mire beneath my feet, the dust to which I shall return.
In body I am no better than the vilest reptile. Whatever
difference of form and intellect is mine, is a free grant of
Your goodness.

Base as I am as a creature, I am lower as a sinner.
Sin's deformity . . .
  is stamped upon me,
  darkens my brow,
  touches me with corruption.

How can I flaunt myself proudly?

Lowest abasement is my due place, for I am less
than nothing before You. Help me to see myself in
Your sight, then pride must wither, decay, die,

Humble my heart before You, and replenish it with
Your choicest gifts. Keep me humble, meek, lowly.

Rotten at the heart!
 (J. C. Ryle, "Our Hope!" 1877)
 "Everyone who has this hope in Christ keeps
  himself pure, just as Christ is pure." 1 John 3:3
 The man who has a good hope will show it in all
 his ways. It will influence his life, his character,
 and his daily conduct. It will make him strive to
 be a holy, godly, conscientious, spiritual man.
 He will feel under a constant obligation to serve
 and please Him from whom his hope comes.
 If there is light in a house it will shine through the
 windows—if there is any real hope in a man's soul
 it will be seen in his ways. Show me your hope in
 your life and daily behavior. Where is it? How does
 it appear? If you cannot show it, you may be sure
 it is nothing better than a delusion and a snare.
 The hope that does not make a man . . .
 in all the relations of life—is not from God.
 Let us beware of any hope that does not exercise
 a sanctifying influence over our . . .
   conduct, and
 It is a hope that never came down from above. It is
 mere base metal, and counterfeit coin. It lacks the
 mint-stamp of the Holy Spirit, and will never pass
 current in heaven. The hope that does not make a
 man holy—is no hope at all.
 The person who can allow himself in any willful and
 habitual breach of God's law, is rotten at the heart!
 He may talk of his hope as much as he pleases—but
 he has none in reality. His religion is . . .
   a joy to the devil,
   a stumbling block to the world,
   a sorrow to true Christians,
   and an offence to God!
 Oh, that people would consider these things!

Who has made you to differ?

(J. C. Ryle, "Our Hope!" 1877)

If you are truly saved—be thankful for it, and give
God daily praise. Who has made you to differ
from the perishing world around you? Why have
you been taught to feel your sins and nothingness
—while others are ignorant and self-righteous? Why
have you been taught to look to Jesus—while others
are looking to their own goodness, or resting on
some mere form of religion? Why are you longing
and striving to be holy—while others are caring for
nothing but this world?

Why are these things so?

There is but one answer—Grace, grace, free grace,
has done it all! For that grace praise God. For that
grace be thankful.

Go on, then, to your journey's end, rejoicing in the
thought that though you are a poor sinner—Jesus is
a most gracious Savior; and that though you have
trials here for a little season—heaven shall soon
make amends for all!

Go on! A few more tossings to and fro on the waves
of this troublesome world—a few more battles and
conflicts with our spiritual enemy—a few more years
  of tears and partings,
  of working and suffering,
  of crosses and cares,
  of disappointments and vexations,
and then—then we shall be at home! There we
shall find all that we have hoped for, and find
that it was a million times better than our hopes!
There we shall find . . .
  no sin,
  no cares of this world,
  no money,
  no sickness,
  no death,
  no devil.

There, above all, we shall find Jesus, and
be forever with the Lord!

Are only a few people going to be saved?

(J. C. Ryle, "
Few Saved!" 1877)

"Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?"
He said to them, "Make every effort to enter through
the narrow door, because I tell you, many will try to
enter and won't be able." Luke 13:23-24

There is a wide-spread delusion abroad about the number
who shall be saved, and that this very delusion is one of
the greatest dangers to which our souls are exposed.

What do people generally think about the spiritual
state of their relatives, and friends, and neighbors,
and acquaintances? They know that all around them
are going to die, and to be judged. They know that
they have souls to be lost or saved. And what do
they consider their end is likely to be?

Do they think those around them are in danger of hell?
There is nothing whatever to show they think so. They
eat and drink together; they laugh, and talk, and walk,
and work together. They seldom or never speak to one
another of God and eternity—of heaven and of hell.

Will they allow that any of their friends are wicked or
ungodly? Never!—whatever may be his way of life.
He may be a neglecter of the Bible; he may be utterly
without evidence of true religion. Yet his friends will
often tell you, "It does not matter! He has a good
heart at the bottom
, and is not a wicked man."

And what do people generally think about the
spiritual state of others—after they are dead?

I say that there is an unhappily common fashion
of speaking well of the condition of all who have
departed this life. It matters little, apparently, how
a man has behaved while he lived. He may have
given no signs of repentance, or faith in Christ; he
may have shown no evidence whatever of conversion
or sanctification; he may have lived and died like a
creature without a soul. And yet, as soon as this man
is dead, people will dare to say that he is "happier
than ever he was in his life." They will tell you
complacently, that "he has gone to a better world." 
They will follow him to the grave without fear and
trembling, and speak of his death afterwards as
"a blessed change for him." They may have disliked
him, and thought him a bad man while he was alive;
but the moment he is dead, they turn around in
their opinions, and say that he is gone to heaven!

And what does all this prove? It proves that people
flatter themselves there is no great difficulty in getting
to heaven. It proves plainly that people are of opinion
that most people will be saved.

Now what solid reason can people show us for these
common opinions? Upon what Scripture do they build
this notion—that salvation is an easy business, and
that most people will be saved?

They have none—literally none at all. They have not
a text of Scripture which supports their views. They
have not a reason which will bear examination. They
speak smooth things about one another's spiritual
state, just because they do not like to admit that
there is danger. They build up one another into an
easy, self-satisfied state of soul, in order to soothe
their consciences and make things pleasant. They
cry "Peace, peace," over one another's graves,
because they want it to be so, and would gladly
persuade themselves that so it is. Surely against
such hollow, foundationless opinions as these, a
Christian may well protest.

Whether we like to believe it or not, hell is filling fast.

Many are in the broad way that leads to destruction!

Few are in the narrow way that leads to life!

Many, many will be lost. Few, few will be saved.

"Enter in by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate
 and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and
 many are those who enter in by it. How narrow is
 the gate, and restricted is the way that leads to
 life! Few are those who find it." Matthew 7:13-14

Is the Bible the Word of God?

(J. C. Ryle, "
Inspiration" 1877)

Is the Bible the Word of God? Then mind that
you do not neglect it. Read it! Begin to read it this
very day. What greater insult to God can a man
be guilty of than to refuse to read the letter God
sends him from heaven? Oh, be sure, if you will
not read your Bible, you are in fearful danger
of losing your soul!

Is the Bible the Word of God? Then be sure
you always read it with deep reverence. Say to
your soul, whenever you open the Bible, "O my
soul, you are going to read a message from God!"

Is the Bible the Word of God? Then be sure
you never read it without fervent prayer for the
help and teaching of the Holy Spirit. Humble
prayer will throw more light on your Bible than
any commentary that ever was written. You will
not understand it unless your heart is right. You
will find it a sealed book without the teaching of
the Holy Spirit. Its contents are often "hidden
from the wise and learned, and revealed to babes."

Is the Bible the Word of God? Then let us all
resolve from this day forward to prize the Bible
more. God has given us the Bible to be a light to
guide us to everlasting life. Let us not neglect this
precious gift. Let us read it diligently, and walk in
its light.

He sees, but does not understand

(J. C. Ryle, "Inspiration" 1877)

The Bible alone explains the state of things that we
see in the world around us. There are many things
on earth which a natural man cannot explain . . .
  the amazing inequality of conditions,
  the poverty and distress,
  the oppression and persecution,
  the shakings and tumults,
  the constant existence of uncured evils and abuses
—all these things are often puzzling to him. He sees,
but does not understand
. But the Bible makes it all
clear. The Bible can tell him that the whole world lies
in wickedness—that the prince of the world, the devil,
is everywhere—and that it is vain to look for perfection
in the present order of things. The Bible will tell him
that neither laws nor education can ever change men's
hearts, and that no man will do much good in the world,
unless he always remembers that human nature is
fallen, and that the world he lives in, is full of sin.

A minister's confession

(A Puritan Prayer)

O God,
I know that I often do Your work without
Your power, and sin by . . .
  my dead, heartless, blind service,
  my lack of inward light, love, delight,
  my mind, heart, tongue moving without Your help.

I see my sinful heart in seeking the praise of others.
This is my vileness—to seek my own glory. It is my
deceit to preach and pray—in order to generate
admiration; whereas I should consider myself
more vile than any man in my own eyes.

Help me to rejoice in my infirmities and to
acknowledge my deficiencies before others.

Keep me from high thoughts of myself or my work,
for I am nothing but sin and weakness. In me no
good dwells, and my best works are tainted with
sin. Humble me to the dust before You. Root and
tear out the poisonous weed of pride, and show
me my utter nothingness. Keep me sensible of
my sinnership. Sink me deeper into penitence
and self-abhorrence.

Break the 'Dagon' of pride in pieces before
the ark of Your presence!

Demolish the 'Babel' of self-importance
and scatter it to the wind!

Level to the ground my 'Jericho walls'
of a haughty, rebel heart!

Then grace, free grace, will be my experience and
message. This is my ministry, my life, my prayer,
my end. Grant me grace that I shall not fail.

When the burden crushes

(Octavius Winslow, "Evening Thoughts")

Prayer is a  precious privilege to be enjoyed.

What! Is it no privilege to have a door of access
ever open to God? Is it no privilege when the
burden crushes, to cast it upon One who has
promised to sustain?

When the corruptions of an unsanctified nature
are strong, and temptations thicken—is prayer
no privilege then?

And when perplexed to know the path of duty,
and longing to walk complete in all the will of
God, and, as a child, fearing to offend a loving
Father—is it then no privilege to have a throne
of grace, an open door of hope?

When the world is slowly stealing upon the heart;
or when that heart is wounded through the
unkindness of friends; or is bleeding under severe
bereavement—is it then no privilege to go and tell

Say, you poor, you needy, you tried, you tempted
souls! Say, if prayer is not the most precious and
splendid privilege this side heaven!

Cease to pray, and . . .
  your grace withers,
  your vigor decays,
  your comfort dies.

"Let us therefore draw near with boldness to the
 throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and
 may find grace for help in time of need." Heb. 4:16

A balm for every wound, a cordial for every care
(John Angell James)

Some of the benefits of affliction, are that it . . .
   crucifies the world,
   mortifies sin,
   quickens prayer,
   extracts the balmy sweets of the promises,
   endears the Savior.
And to crown all, affliction directs the mind to that
glorious state where the days of our mourning shall
be ended—that happy country where God shall wipe
every tear from our eyes, and there shall be no
more sorrow or crying.

Nothing so composes the mind, and helps it to
bear the load of trouble which God may lay upon
it—as the near prospect of its termination.
In that one word, HEAVEN, genuine piety provides
a balm for every wound, a cordial for every care.


To constitute a man a Christian

(John Angell James)

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in
 Christ Jesus." Philip. 2:5

Jesus Christ is the only Teacher who ever made
a 'similarity of disposition to Himself'—a test and
badge of discipleship. He is not only the teacher,
but the pattern of His own religion. His example
is an essential part of His system.

To constitute a man a Christian, he must not only
receive the doctrines of our Lord—but must imbibe
His very spirit. He must not only believe all He
taught—but he must live as He lived, think as He
thought, and feel as He felt. Christ's mind must
be in his mind, as far as he can contain it, and
Christ's heart must be in his heart.

To be a Christian, it is not only necessary we should
  adopt Christ's doctrines,
  observe His ordinances,
  associate with His church,
  espouse His cause,
  conform outwardly to His conduct;
but we must have His very mind in us! The prevailing
spirit and disposition of His mind, must be ours also.
Unless the eye of man sees the image of Christ upon
our character, and the eye of God sees the mind of
Christ in our soul—we are not acknowledged as
true Christians.

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in
 Christ Jesus." Philip. 2:5

And what was the mind of Christ?

How holy was his mind! Not the shadow of sin, nor
the least taint of moral evil ever passed over it, to
becloud or pollute its immaculate purity. His mind
was the seat of the most ineffable benevolence.

His heart was the very temple of love—nothing
malevolent, vindictive, or cruel, ever found a
place there.

All His actions, words, and feelings were the
workings of incomparable love.

His humility was equal to His purity and benevolence.

Where and in whom, is to be seen the union of
holiness, benevolence, and condescension, which
formed the character of the Savior?

Is His holiness to be found in those professors who,
though they are free from external vice and immorality
—allow the corruptions of their heart to go unmortified;
and who indulge, instead of crucifying—the passions
and lusts of the flesh?

Is His benevolence to be found in those who are so
fond of the world, so grasping, and so hoarding, that
little or nothing can be extorted from their reluctant
hands for the salvation of sinners, and the glory of God?

And then where is His humility to be seen in His followers?
Is it to be found in those who will have their rights, and
all their rights, at whatever cost of principle or peace; who
will not tolerate the least offense, without all the boilings
of wounded pride, and mortified vanity?

Oh, is this the mind that was in Christ?

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in
 Christ Jesus." Philip. 2:5

Fresh communications
John Angell James)

The Holy Spirit is not only the efficient cause
and author of our spiritual life; but He is also
the sustainer of it.
We need fresh communications of His grace
every step of our course, to keep before us . . .
   the glory of God as our center, rest, and end;
   the loveliness, beauty, and preciousness of Christ;
   the evil of sin;
   the transcendent excellence of holiness;
   the sublimity and importance of heaven, and eternal life.

Vile thieves!

(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

Unprofitable reading is another consumer of time which
must be avoided. Worldly amusements, and parties of
pleasure, are also injurious. I do not by this mean to
condemn the occasional communion of friends in the
social circle, where the civilities of life are given and
received, the ties of friendship strengthened, and the
mind recreated, without any injury being done to the
spiritual or moral interests.

But the theater, the card-table, the billiard-room,
are all to be avoided as vile thieves
, which steal
our time and hurt our souls!

The design of Christ's work

John Angell James)

"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.
 The old things have passed away. Behold, all things
 have become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17)

The design of Christ's work is not merely to
deliver from hell, but also from sin. The  salvation
of Christ is designed to make you a new creature,
and to restore the image of God to your soul.

All true Christians
. . .
  love God,
  hate sin,
  feel Christ precious,
  give themselves to prayer,
  live holily. 

Like a concealed worm at the root of a flower

(John Angell James)

It may be that your hindrances to a more rapid
growth in grace, arise from some specific cause,
some sin indulged, some corruption cherished. Is
there not some sacrifice which you are unwilling
to make, or something which you are unwilling to
surrender? You must give up the forbidden thing,
or your growth in grace is impossible! That one sin
will, like a concealed worm at the root of a
—eat out the very life of your piety, and
cause it to droop, wither, and decay.

A misspent life

(John Angell James, "The Chief End of Life" A new year's
 address to the Young Men's Christian Association, 1850)

Time, with ceaseless flow rolls onward, and is ever bearing
you on its resistless stream—to the boundless ocean of
eternity. Yes, to eternity!

A misspent life can never be spent over again! A fault
committed in reference to the 'chief end of existence' can
never be rectified. It is a mistake on which death sets the
seal of eternity—a mistake which will require everlasting
ages to understand and deplore it!

The chief object of life must be something important.
A rational creature could not be justified in setting up
a mere trifle as the end and purpose of existence. It
marks a base and abject state of mind, or at any rate,
great childishness of taste—to allow one's thoughts,
feelings and aspirations, to be attracted, as to their
center—to a mere triviality.

God has given to man noble faculties—and to see them
all devoted to some mere petty trifle, as their supreme
aim—is a sad and a humiliating spectacle.


Who are they, and from where did they come?

(John Angell James, "The Anxious Enquirer" 1834)

 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude,
 which no man could number, out of every nation and of all
 tribes, peoples, and languages, standing before the throne
 and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes, with palm
 branches in their hands. They cried with a loud voice,
 saying, "Salvation be to our God, who sits on the throne,
 and to the Lamb!" Revelation 7

Who are they that send forth such strains? Who are they,
and from where did they come?
"These are those who
came out of the great tribulation. They washed their robes,
and made them white in the Lamb's blood. Therefore they
are before the throne of God, they serve Him day and night
in His temple. He who sits on the throne will shelter them with
His presence. They will never be hungry, neither thirsty any
more; neither will the sun beat on them, nor any heat; for
the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne shepherds them,
and leads them to springs of waters of life. And God will
wipe away every tear from their eyes."

They were once upon earth; once men of like passions with
yourself. There is not a burden that oppresses your heart, but
oppressed theirs. There is not a fear that agitates your mind,
but agitated theirs. There is not a temptation that assails you,
but assailed them. There is not an obstacle that terrifies you,
but terrified them. They were once as ignorant, as weak, as
sinful, as timid, as discouraged, as you are now. There is
not a sorrow, a perplexity, or a danger with which you
are painfully familiar—but they passed through before you.

But there they are in heaven, more than conquerors over all
these things, through Him who loved them. He who saved
them has engaged to save you; nor is His ear heavy, nor His
arm shortened. "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so
great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight,
and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance
the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the author
and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before
Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at
the right hand of the throne of God."


<>What will He do with the lambs?

(John Angell James, "The Anxious Enquirer" 1834)

"He will feed His flock like a shepherd. He will gather
 the lambs in His arm, and carry them in His bosom."
    (Isaiah 40:11)

It is said of our Divine Redeemer, "He will feed His flock
like a shepherd." And in His flock there are lambs which
can neither travel fast nor far. And what will He do with
the lambs?
"He will gather the lambs in His arm, and carry
them in His bosom." He will not carry them on His shoulder
—the emblem of strength; but in His bosom—the image of
tender love.

Weak grace is real grace, and is in connection with the
infinite source in Christ's fullness.

If anyone is in Christ

(John Angell James, "The Anxious Enquirer" 1834)

"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new
  creation. The old things have passed away.
  Behold, all things have become new!"

    (2 Corinthians 5:17)

There must be a Divine alteration of disposition. Our . . .
  views and tastes,
  pains and pleasures,
  hopes and fears,
  desires and pursuits,
must be changed!

We must be brought to love God supremely, for His
holiness and justice—as well as for His mercy and
love; to delight in Him for his transcendent glory
—as well as for His rich grace.

We must have a perception of the beauties of holiness,
—and love Divine things for their own excellence.

We must mourn for sin, and hate it for its own evil
nature—as well as its dreadful punishment.

We must feel delight in the salvation of Christ, not only
because it delivers us from hell—but makes us like God,
and all this in a way which honors and glorifies Jehovah.

We must be made partakers of true humility and universal
love, and feel ourselves brought to be of one mind with God,
in willing and delighting in the happiness of others.

We must be brought to feel an identity of heart with God's
cause, and to regard it as our honor and happiness to do
anything to promote the glory of Christ in the salvation of

We must feel a longing desire, a hungering and thirsting
after holiness—as well as come to a determination to put
away all sins, however gainful or pleasant.

We must have a tender conscience, that shrinks from
and watches against little sins, secret faults, and sins of
neglect and omission—as well as great and scandalous

We must love the people of God, for God's sake,
because they belong to Him and are like Him.

We must practice the self-denying duty of mortification of
—as well as engage in the pleasing exercises of religion.

Nothing less than such a view of Christ in His glorious
mediatorial character, and such a dependence by faith
upon His blood and righteousness for salvation—as
changes the whole heart, and temper, and conduct,
and throws the world as it were into the background,
and makes glory hereafter, and holiness now, the
supreme concern—is saving religion.


The great storehouse of iniquity!

(John Angell James, "The Anxious Enquirer" 1834)

"From the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries,
 sexual immoralities, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies.
 These are the things that defile a man." Matthew 15:19-20

The heart is the polluted fountain from whence all the
muddy streams of evil conduct flow! The heart is
great storehouse of iniquity!
Men sometimes make
excuse for their evil deeds, by saying, that they have
good hearts at the bottom. This, however, is an awful
mistake, for every man's heart, not excepting the most
wicked, is really worse than his conduct!

Men think little of sin—but does God?

What turned Adam and Eve out of paradise? Sin!

What drowned the old world in the flood? Sin!

What brought disease, accidents, toil, care, war,
pestilence, and famine into the world? Sin!

What has converted the world into one great
burying-place of its inhabitants? Sin!

What lights the flames of hell? Sin!

What crucified the Lord of life and glory? Sin!

What then must sin be? Who but God, and what
but His infinite mind—can conceive of its evil nature?


Is he a brute?  Is he a maniac?

(John Angell James, "The Anxious Enquirer" 1834)

"What will it benefit a man, if he gains the whole world
 yet loses his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange
 for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26) 

Consider what the loss of the soul includes. It is the loss
of everything dear to man as an immortal creature. It is
the loss of Heaven, with all its honors, felicities, and
glories. It is the loss of everything that can contribute
to our eternal happiness.

The loss of the soul includes in it all that is contained in
that dreadful word, Hell. Hell is the eternal endurance
of the wrath of God. It is the coming down of the curse
of the Almighty upon the soul; or rather, it is the falling
of the soul into that curse, as into a lake which burns
with fire and brimstone.

All the tears that ever have been or ever will be shed on
the face of the earth; all the groans that ever have been
or ever will be uttered; all the anguish that ever has been
or ever will be endured by all the inhabitants of the world,
through all the ages of time—do not make up an equal
amount of misery to that which is included in the loss of
one human soul!

Consider that the eternal loss of the soul is not a rare,
but a very common occurrence. The loss of the soul is so
tremendous a catastrophe, that if it happened only once
in a year, or once in a century, so as to render it barely
possible that it should happen to you—it would be reckless
carelessness not to feel some solicitude about the matter!
How much more, then, when, alas! it is an every-day
So far from its being a rare thing for men to go
to hell—it is a much rarer thing for them to go to heaven!
Our Lord tells us, that the 'road to destruction' is thronged,
while the 'way to life' is traveled by few. Hell opens its
mouth wide and swallows up multitudes in perdition! How
alarming is the idea, and how probable the fact—that you
may be among this number! Some who read these pages
will very likely spend their eternity in hell.

Concern, then, deep concern about the salvation of your
soul, is the most reasonable thing in the world! Can that
man have a soul, or know that he has one, who is careless
about its eternal happiness? Is he a man—or is he a brute?
Is he a rational being—or is he a maniac? Ever walking
on the edge of the precipice that hangs over the bottomless
pit—and not concerned about salvation! Oh, fatal, awful,
destructive indifference!

Look into the bottomless pit—can you be too anxious to
escape its torments? Look into
heaven—can you be too
anxious to obtain its glories? Look into
eternity—can you
be too anxious to secure immortal life?


What a bauble!

("The Duty of Seeking the Things Which are
Jesus Christ's
" by David Black, 1762-1806)

"The unsearchable riches of Christ!" Ephes. 3:8

How poor and trifling are all those objects which
so much engross the time and attention of the
great bulk of mankind!

What a bauble
is wealth, compared with
the unsearchable riches of Christ!

How insignificant is the honor which comes from
man, compared with the honor which comes from

And how contemptible the pleasures of sin,
which are but for a season—those short-lived
enjoyments for which men barter their souls
and eternal salvation!

"The world and everything in it that people desire
 is passing away; but those who do the will of God
 live forever." (1 John 2:17)


A powerful, operative, abiding principle

("The Duty of Seeking the Things Which are
 Jesus Christ's" by David Black, 1762-1806)

"If anyone does not love the Lord, a curse be on him."
1 Corinthians 16:22

And many, alas! in every age, who are called by
the name of Christ, and with their mouths show
much love, plainly discover by their conduct that
the world has the chief place in their heart!

No temper or disposition of mind is more frequently
spoken of in scripture, as characteristic of a real
Christian, than love to Christ. It is of the very nature
and essence of true religion. Love to Christ, proceeding
from faith in Him, is something more than a transient
glow of affection. It is something more than saying
unto Christ, 'Lord, Lord,' which many do, who in works
deny him. Genuine love to Christ is a powerful,
operative, abiding principle
. It is the spring of all
acceptable obedience, the grand incentive to the
practice of everything that is true, and honest, and
just, and pure, and lovely, and of good report. For
the love of Christ constrains us—it impels us forward,
and bears us on in its own course, like a mighty
t which carries all before it.


I am astonished

(A Puritan Prayer)

O bottomless Fountain of all good,
I am astonished at the difference between . . .
  my receivings—and my deservings,
  the state I am now in—and my past gracelessness,
  the heaven I am bound for—and the hell I merit.

Who made me to differ, but You? I could not have
begun to love You, had You not first loved me.

O Lord, I am astonished that . . .
such a crown should fit the head of such a sinner,
such high advancement for one so worthless,
such joys for so vile a rebel!

Let 'wrath deserved' be written on the door of hell;
but the 'free gift of grace' on the gate of heaven!

Let Your love draw me nearer to Yourself. Wean
me from sin, mortify me to this world, and make
me ready for my departure hence. Secure me by
Your grace as I sail across this stormy sea.


His beauty covers my deformities!

(A Puritan Prayer)

Eternal God,
O, how I mourn my sin, ingratitude, vileness.
All things in heaven, earth, around, within,
without, condemn me . . .
  the sun which sees my misdeeds,
  the darkness which is light to You,
  the cruel accuser within who justly charges me,
  Your countenance which scans my secret sins.

Your righteous law, Your holy Word, my sin-soiled
conscience, my private and public life, myself—
all write dark things against me. I deny them not. I
frame no excuse, but confess, 'Father, I have sinned!'

Yet still I live, and fly repenting to Your outstretched arms!

You will not cast me off—for Jesus brings me near!

You will not condemn me—for He died in my stead!

You will not mark my mountains of sin—for He leveled
them all, and His beauty covers my deformities!

I bid farewell to sin by . . .
  clinging to His cross,
  hiding in His wounds,
  sheltering in His side.


Continually dropping into eternal burnings!

(John Angell James, "Introduction to Sprague's
Letters on Revivals of Piety
" 1832)

What deep pity has been felt, and properly felt,
for the population of those towns in which the
ravages of the pestilence, or natural disaster,
have been unusually extensive!

But oh, Christians! think of the more awful ravages
of the plague of sin—which is sweeping crowds of
immortal souls from your own neighborhood into
everlasting misery! There are thousands of immortal
creatures perishing in sin at your very doors! Souls
are continually going down to the bottomless pit,
from the houses on your right hand and your left!
Men and women and their families are continually
dropping into eternal burnings
, almost before
your eyes! And will you not go to their houses, and
entreat them to think of their soul's eternal welfare?

"As He saw the crowds, His heart was filled with
 pity for them." (Matthew 9:36)

"And when He drew near and saw the city, He
 wept over it." (Luke 19:41)

"Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for
 them is that they may be saved." (Romans 10:1)

"I have become all things to all people, so that I
 may by all means save some." (1 Corinth. 9:22)


The rage of the present day

(John Angell James, "Revival in Piety" 1828)

If we would be revived in piety, we must resist by faith the
encroaching influence of the WORLD, and the engrossing
power of seen and temporal things. The address to the
church of Laodicea would lead one to suppose that it was
a place of trade—and that trade had produced riches—and
riches had produced . . .
  love of ease,
  indifference to divine things,
  and spiritual poverty.

Most people in our country appear inordinately intent upon
gaining the world. To be rich, or at least to be comfortable,
to be reputable, to be stylish, to be fashionable, to live in
larger houses, and to have finer furniture and more earthly
things than others—seems to be the supreme concern of
most! They must, whether they can afford it or not, vie
with their neighbors in all their habits. This seems to be
the rage of the present day—and the church of God is,
in a measure, carried away by the delusion.

Many seem almost without knowing it, to be possessed by
a grasping at things beyond their reach, and an ambitious
aspiring at some undefinable point of worldly elevation. All
their time, all their attention, is absorbed—and all the vigor
of their spirits is exhausted—in this panting race after
the world's possessions and comforts!

It is evident that . . .
  until this disposition be more subdued than it is,
  until our moderation be more known to all men,
  until we have lowered our estimate of the importance of wealth,
  until we have ceased thus to mind earthly things,
  until we have gained a greater victory over the world, or
are anxious to gain it—our piety cannot be revived. It is
like seed growing amidst thorns—and though a fertile
shower and a warmer sun should cause it to spring afresh
during a more than ordinarily genial season—yet it is still
among thorns, which will be sure to choke the grain!

I am afraid that we have not . . .
  that simplicity of taste,
  that contentment,
  that moral courage to be indifferent to the world's opinions,
  that sobriety of mind,
  that comparative unconcernedness about finery and splendor
—which are necessary to prepare us for a high state of piety.

Let us, then, consider this matter. Let us attend to the
apostolic admonition, "Be not conformed to this world
—but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

The spirit of the world, and the spirit of piety, cannot dwell
together in the same bosom. "You cannot serve God and
Mammon." "If any man loves the world, the love of the
Father is not in him." "Are you seeking great things for
yourself? Seek them not!" "Do not lay up for yourselves
treasures on earth," so much as treasures in heaven.
Remember that "one thing is needful!" "Take heed,
and beware of covetousness, for a man's life does not
consist in the abundance of the things that he has."

But if we will be rich, if we will be anxious about many
things, if we will be full of worldly ambition, and earthly
mindedness and covetousness—then we cannot experience
much revival in piety—and need not add hypocrisy to
For very little better than a hypocrite,
is the man who prays for the effusions of the Holy Spirit
—and yet will not moderate his extreme concern after
worldly wealth.

We must also put away our worldly-mindedness, our
ambition, our excessive concern to be conformed, as far
as possible, to the showy, expensive, and luxurious habits
of the people of this world. We must restrain our taste for
voluptuous ease, extravagance and self-indulgence. We
must give up our concern to be accounted fashionable.


An inundation of worldliness

(John Angell James, "The Spiritual State of our Churches")

Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world.
 If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.
 Because everything that belongs to the world—the lust of
 the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one's lifestyle
  —is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world
 with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God's will
 remains forever." (1 John 2:15-17)

What an unearthly spirit, what an impress of eternity, what
a temper of heaven should there be in us! Professing to
believe all this, to hope for all this, to love all this, to yield
up ourselves to all this—ought we not to be a people really,
practically differing from the people of the world—seen,
known and acknowledged to be different . . .
  in our prevailing spirit,
  in our pleasures,
  in our tastes,
  in our feelings and conduct in regard to wealth,
  in the maxims which govern us?

Ought we not to appear to be the conquerors, and not the
captives, of the world? But is it so? Is not the very opposite
to all this, the present characteristic of many professors? Has
not an inundation of worldliness flowed in upon the church?

In the habits of some professing Christians, there is a too
prevailing taste for an expensive, showy style of living; an
undue ambition to be in vogue; an excessive sensitiveness
about fashion, refinement, needless show, extravagance,
luxury and appearance. This is seen in their feverish concern
to live in large houses, and possess elegant furniture.

Fashion is the goddess to whose shrine too many bow with
ardent devotion. Just look at the conduct of many professors
of religion. Are they not almost as completely swallowed up
in the eagerness to be rich, as the openly ungodly?

Christians must be upon their guard, lest they become too
eager for
the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the
pride in one's lifestyle.


A consistent Christian!

(John Angell James)

The following duties are common to all Christians:
unreserved, cheerful, perpetual devotedness to Christ,
entire and constant dependence on the Holy Spirit,
a life of faith,
spirituality of mind,
separation from the world,
heavenly mindedness,
supreme regard to eternity,
universal and high toned morality,
eminent social excellence in all the relative duties of life,
all the gentle and passive virtues.

O, what a character is that of a consistent Christian!

How holy,
how heavenly,
how humble,
how gentle,
how benevolent,
how just,
how devout,
how useful,
how happy!!


Be holy in every aspect of your life

(John Angell James, "The Church in Earnest")

"As the One who called you is holy, you also are to be
 holy in every aspect of your life
; for it is written—
 Be holy, because I am holy." (1 Peter 1:15-16)

Let him turn away from all the 'conventional piety' of the
day, and study with devout attention what the Scriptures
teach of the true nature of genuine piety.

Let him, in a season of closet devotion, examine his own
piety, and compare it with the Scriptural standard.

Let him, upon discovering his great and numerous
shortcomings, humble and abase himself before God,
in a spirit of true contrition.

Let him reject all excuses which his own deceitful heart,
and lukewarm, worldly-minded Christians will be ever
ready to suggest. He must be thoroughly convinced
that nothing can, or will, be admitted by God as an
apology for a low state of personal piety.

Let him intensely desire to be raised from his low state
into a more exalted state of spirituality, devoted zeal and
heavenly-mindedness. Let him set himself most vigorously
to the work of mortifying sin, and crucifying the flesh.

Let him redouble his diligence in attending the means of
grace, and especially let him give himself to reading the
Scriptures, meditation and prayer.

Let him add a season of humiliation and supplication,
to obtain a new and copious effusion of the Holy Spirit.
Without the influence of the Spirit, we are only building
a Babel to proclaim our folly, or a mausoleum to entomb
our fleshly endeavors.

Let him cultivate a new and more delicate sensibility of
conscience, in reference to all matters of offense, both
towards God and man.

Let him give himself to Christian vigilance, watching
always against sin.

Let him, in short, intelligently, resolutely, and unalterably,
make up his mind to enter upon a new course of personal
godliness; so new that his past attainments shall seem as
if they were nothing. There is such a thing as starting
afresh, as forgetting the things that are behind—and so
must it be with him who would be really in earnest. He
will wake up from his slumbering, dreamy profession,
saying, "I have slept too long and too much! I must now
throw off the spirit of sloth, and give all diligence to make
my calling and election sure."


Propensity for amusements and entertainments

(J. A. James, "
Hindrances to Earnestness in Piety" 1847)

A great hindrance to earnest piety, is the taste for
amusement, which characterizes the present day.

Every age has had its sources of pleasure, and its means
and methods of diversion—to relieve the mind from the
fatigue and oppression of the more serious occupations
of life. The human mind cannot be kept always upon the
stretch, nor can the heart sustain, without occasional relief,
its burden of care. I would not rob the believer of his few
brief holidays, nor condemn as irrational or unchristian,
his occasional oblivion of worldly vexations amidst the
beauties of nature, or the pleasures of the social circle.
There is a time to laugh—as well as to weep.

Still, it may be seriously questioned, whether among
professing Christians, the propensity for amusements
and entertainments
has not been growing too fast, and
ripened into something like a passion for worldly pleasures.

The very craving after diversion and amusement, which there
is in some people, shows a morbid state of the soul. It might
be supposed, judging from the representations of true religion
which we find in the word of God, and from the general principles
contained in it—that a Christian has rendered unnecessary, all
such sources of enjoyment, which worldly people resort to.

To hear all this talk, then, about the necessity of entertainment;
and the impossibility of relieving the exhaustion of labor, and the
monotony of life, without parties, games, and diversions—sounds
very like a growing weariness of the yoke of Christ!

This growing desire after amusement marks a low state of piety.
The godly Christian is very well content to forego many things
in which the people of the world see no harm.