Grace Gems for DECEMBER 2005

The path of the scissors!

(Lewis Bayly, "The Practice of Piety" 1611)

"For who makes you to differ from another?
 And what do you have, that you did not
 receive?" 1 Corinthians 4:7

We are all . . .
  fashioned from the same mold,
  hewed out of the same rock,
  made as it were, of the same cloth
the path of the scissors making the only
difference between one person an another.
It is therefore only the free love and grace of
God, which makes all the difference between us.

No believer should ever insolently demean
the unsaved, who, like miserable drudges,
allow their corrupt nature to carry them to
any villainy, lust, or lewd course; and who
damn themselves in the devil's slavery!

Alas! our hearts should bleed within us at beholding
so many around us imbruing their cruel hands in the
blood of their own souls—by their ignorance, worldliness,
drunkenness, lust, unbelief and scoffing at true religion.

What heart, except it be hewed out of the hardest
rock, or has sucked the breasts of merciless tigers;
but would yearn and weep to see a man made of the
same mold with himself, willfully, as it were, against
a thousand warnings, and God's many compassionate
invitations—cast himself, body and soul, into the
endless, easeless, and remediless miseries of hell?
We should the rather pity and pray for such a one
who follows the bent of his own evil heart—to his
own everlasting perdition!

It is only the free mercy, goodness, and grace of
God which has made the difference between them
and us. If God should give us over to the unbridled
current of our corrupt nature—we might be worse
than them, and run riot in this world of wickedness.
If the same God visits them in mercy—they may
become every way as godly, or better than us.

"By the grace of God I am what I am."
 1 Corinthians 15:10

Happiness hunters!

(Cornelius Tyree, "The Moral Power of a Pious Life")

A higher degree of personal piety, will promote
a higher degree of personal happiness.

"Sin and sorrow are bound together by
adamantine chains."
Hence man increases
in misery—as he increases in sin. It is upon this
principle that the devil is the most miserable
being in the universe—because he is the most

So, on the other hand, there is an inseparable
connection between holiness and happiness. God
is the most happy being in the universe—because
He is the most holy. And the happiness of His
people is just in proportion as they resemble
Him in righteousness and true holiness.

Heaven is a world of supreme happiness,
because it is a world of supreme holiness.

is a world of supreme misery,
because sin is there fully developed.

God has so ordered it, that our comfort and happiness
in this world can only be found in a pious life. For the
last six thousand years mankind have been happiness
. In all ages and lands the eager query has been,
"Who will show us any good?" But every device has been
a failure! The recorded and unrecorded experience of all
has been, "All is vanity and vexation of spirit!" We can
no more expect to find happiness in the pursuits and
objects of this world—than we may expect to find
luscious grapes growing at the icy North Pole.

But in the likeness and service of Christ, is found
a happiness which is pure, elevating, perennial,
inexhaustible—a happiness that will go with us
in all conditions, all lands, and all worlds!

The great cause of all the sadness and depression
in the followers of Christ, is the small degree of their
piety. The only reason why they are disconsolate,
is because they "follow the Lord afar off." One single
uncrucified, unbemoaned sin—will not only destroy
all pious enjoyment—but open the soul to the devil,
with his whole black train of guilt and misery. It
matters not what this sin is. Any one sin habitually
indulged in, whether it is pride, malice, backbiting,
covetousness, filling the mind with unholy images,
or murmuring under adverse providences—will
exclude from the soul all pious enjoyment.

After all, the great secret of being happy, is
to be holy.
He who grows in practical piety has
opened a thousand sources of true bliss.

The "golden fruit of happiness" grows only on the
"tree of holiness". If happiness is sought in any
other way than by being holy—it is sought in vain.

Better than a ton of gold!

(John Angell James)

A grain of saving faith is better than a ton of gold,
for it secures an inheritance in all the unsearchable
riches of Christ, of grace, and of glory! It justifies,
sanctifies, and eternally saves!

Learn to think less and less of the wealth of this world,
and more and more of the unsearchable riches of Christ!

Lower the estimate which pride and vanity form of
the importance of worldly distinctions. How dim, how
worthless, does everything earthly appear when seen
in the sunlight of the cross!

It is by losing sight of Jesus, by living so far from
Him, by forgetting Him—that we let the world get
so much the upper hand of us.

We must meditate more upon the cross.

We must dwell more upon Calvary.

We must be more familiar with the crucified One.

A sort of second edition of the written Scriptures

(Cornelius Tyree, "The Moral Power of a Pious Life" 1859)

"So that in every way they may make the teaching about
 God our Savior more attractive
." Titus 2:10

A conversion from depravity and sinfulness—to active godliness,
is a more sublime miracle, and a more effectual proof for the
divinity of the gospel—than was the resurrection of Lazarus!

Of all modes of teaching Christianity, 'exemplifying it' is the best.

The best commentary on the Bible that the world has ever seen
—is a holy life of growing likeness to Christ.

The most eloquent sermon in behalf of the gospel that the
world has ever heard—is a uniform, active life of piety.

The best version of the Bible which has ever been made—is a
consistent pious example. The Christian whose light thus shines,
not only correctly renders—but beautifies the sacred text. His
life and conduct are a sort of second edition of the written
—a 'living epistle' which all can read, all understand,
and which convinces and convicts all.

We must become living, radiant likenesses of gospel truth. We
are to be living verifications of the great doctrines of the Bible.
A godly life is a powerful argument for the truth of the gospel.

"You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read
 by all men
." 2 Corinthians 3:2

"Be an example for the believers in your speech, your
 conduct, your love, faith and purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

The most incongruous of all things

(Cornelius Tyree, "The Moral Power of a Pious Life" 1859)

"The humility and gentleness of Christ." (2 Cor. 10:1)

How strikingly was this grace of humility displayed
in our Model and Redeemer. Though no other being
ever had the same reasons to entertain high opinions
of Himself, yet no one was ever equally humble. He
voluntarily chose . . .
  the humblest life,
  the humblest associates,
  the humblest food,
  the humblest dress,
  the humblest demeanor,
  and died the most humiliating death.

"All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me,
 because I am gentle and humble in heart."
    (Matthew 11:29)

Humility is indispensable to Scriptural piety.

The most incongruous of all things
is a proud Christian.

I am not what I once used to be!

(J. C. Ryle, "Are you regenerate?")

"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without
 which no man shall see the Lord." Hebrews 12:14

The regenerate man is a holy man. He endeavors . . .
  to live according to God's will,
  to do the things that please God,
  to avoid the things that God hates.

His aim and desire is to love God with heart and soul, and
mind and strength—and to love his neighbor as himself.
His wish is to be continually looking to Christ as his Example
as well as his Savior; and to show himself Christ's friend, by
obeying whatever He commands.

No doubt he is not perfect. None will tell you that sooner
than himself. He groans under the burden of indwelling
corruption cleaving to him. He finds an evil principle within
him constantly warring against grace, and trying to draw
him away from God. Yet, in spite of all short-comings,
the average bent and bias of . . .
  his ways is holy;
  his doings holy;
  his tastes holy
  and his habits holy.

In spite of all his swerving and turning aside, like a ship
going against a contrary wind, the general course of his
life is in one direction—toward God and for God. He will
generally be able to say, with old John Newton, "I am not
what I ought to be. I am not what I want to be. I am not
what I hope to be in another world. But still, I am not what
I once used to be!
By the grace of God, I am what I am!"

"Let none conclude that they have no grace, because they
have many imperfections in their obedience. Your grace may
be very weak and imperfect, and yet you may be truly born
again, and be a genuine son of God and heir of heaven."
 (Hopkins, 1670)

You will die this year!

(John Angell James, "A New Year's Solemn Warning")

This is what the Lord says: "I am going to remove you from
the face of the earth. You will die this year!" Jerem. 28:16

This may be the case with any one of the readers of the
present address, and therefore every one of them should
seriously reflect upon such a possibility.

This year you may die—for you must die some time—and
that time may as likely come this year as any other.

This year you may die—because you have no revelation
from God that you shall not.

This year you may die—because you are ever and
everywhere exposed to the causes that take away life.

This year you may die—because life is the most
uncertain thing in the world
, and you have not
the assurance of a single moment beyond the present.

This year you may die—for it is all but certain that
many of the readers of this address will die this year
—and why not you?

This year you may die, although there is now no
indication of approaching death; for many during
the past year have been cut off, and many during
the present year will die, who may now seem very
likely to live—and why not you?

How many, then, are the probabilities that before
next new year's day, your place will be vacant in
the family, at the scene of your daily occupation,
and in the house of God! Ought not this to induce
a habit of solemn, pensive, devout, practical,
profitable, reflection. Bring home the thought. Take
up the supposition, and say, "Yes, it is possible, by
no means improbable, that I may die—this year!"

Are you really prepared for your latter end, by being
a partaker of genuine faith, the new birth, a holy life,
and a heavenly mind? Or are you a mere nominal
professor, having a name to live, while you are dead?
Do you recognize in yourselves, and do others see in
you, the marks of a state of grace? Put the question
to your own hearts, ask yourselves, "What am I? Am
I a spiritual, heavenly, humble servant of God? Am I
really crucified with Christ, dead to the world, ripening
for glory? Is there anything heavenly about me? Is my
temper sanctified, my walk consistent?"

Is your soul in that state in which you would desire
it to be found when death strikes? Are you, in your
devotional habits, your temper, your general behavior,
as you should be—with eternity so near? Would you
desire to die—just as you are now?

How many false professors will be unmasked this
year, and appear with astonishment and horror, as
self-deceivers, formalists, and hypocrites! How many
in reply to the plea, "Lord, Lord, I ate and drank in
your presence"—will hear the dreadful response,
"Depart from me, I never knew you!" and thus find
there is a way to the bottomless pit—from the
fellowship of the church! In whatever state you die
this year—that you will be forever! The seal of eternal
destiny will be put upon you! Your last words in time,
and your first in eternity, might be, "I must be what
I am—forever!"

The grand secret is about to be revealed, whether you
are a child of God—or a child of the devil! That next
moment after death—which imagination in vain attempts
to paint, is to arrive—and, waking up in eternity, you will
shout with rapture, "I am in heaven!"—or utter with a
shriek of despair, and surprise, the dreadful question,
"What! Am I in hell forever?"

The divine Illuminator

(James W. Alexander, "Consolation" 1852)

"But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will
 send in My name—He will teach you all things, and
 bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you."
     (John 14:26)

Divine Truth is an instrument in the hand of the Spirit, for
the accomplishment of His work of consolation. If we would
be comforted, we must seek it by the truth. The Comforter
is the Spirit of truth. The consoling process is carried on by
the application of Scriptural truth. Therefore, the Word of
God is beyond all other volumes—the Book of Consolation.
The precious doctrines concerning God, Christ, salvation,
and heaven—are the principal means which the Holy Spirit
uses for the support of the soul under heavy afflictions.

Thus we are enabled to perceive more clearly and fully, how
the adorable Spirit comes in Christ's name. He teaches what
Christ taught.
He takes of the things of Christ, and reveals
them unto us. From the infinite fund of Scriptural wisdom and
knowledge—He draws and dispenses, according to the diversified
necessities of His people. It is scarcely a change of teacher. The
Spirit gives the same lessons as Jesus. He repeats and revives
them. He brings out afresh in the chambers of memory, the
truths which had faded. He touches the sluggish heart to awaken
it to new impressions of Scriptural truth. All this is by a direct
influence on the soul by the Spirit
—opening the mind and
pouring in light. It is this which accounts for the difference
between believers; and between different states of the same
In order that truth be effectual, especially to consolation,
something more is necessary than that it should be revealed
in the Bible; something more than that it should be understood
by the intellect. It must be powerfully brought home to the mind
and heart. And to do this is the especial work of the Holy Spirit. 
No effect will be produced in reading Scripture, except so far as
the Holy Spirit takes, shows, and impresses them to the heart.
And this He graciously does to many a broken-hearted Christian.

The experienced and godly Christian, long tried in the 'school
of sorrows'—is made to know that the soul may be comforted
amidst the deepest afflictions. In some unexpected moment,
the divine Illuminator reveals to him the great abiding truths
of Scripture; truths which are as precious and as satisfying—in
adverse as in prosperous days. By a process of holy attraction,
his thoughts are drawn away from self and all its sorrows and
losses—to be fixed and absorbed . . .
  by the character of God,
  by His mighty works,
  by the person of the adorable Redeemer,
  by the work of redemption,
  by the glory yet to be revealed.

Filled and animated and tranquilized by these blessed truths,
he is led to forget his private griefs; and thus the Comforter
performs His office by means of the truth. "The things of Christ,"
applied to the heart by the Spirit, direct the mind from its earthly
pangs, and to a certain extent afford a foretaste of the celestial joy.

Fearfully secularized

(J. A. James, "Earnestness in Personal Religion" 1847)

If asked to point out the specific and prevailing sin of the
church in the present day, I cannot hesitate to reply—a
prevailing worldliness of mind, heart, and conduct. The
church is fearfully secularized in the spirit and temper
of her members. The love of the world has become the
master-passion, before which other and holier affections
have grown dim and weak.

The determination, as well as the concern, to be rich, has
crept into the church! Those who profess to have overcome
the world by faith, appear almost as eager as others, in all
schemes for getting wealth, and by almost any means. 

This worldly spirit is also seen in the general
habits and tastes of professing Christians!

Their style of living,
their entertainments,
their associations,
their amusements,
their conversation—evince . . .
  a conformity to the world,
  a minding of earthly things,
  a disposition to adapt themselves to the world around,
  a desire to seek their happiness from objects of sense,
rather than from those of faith—which prove the extent
to which a secular worldly spirit is dominating the spirit
of piety in the church.

These caged wild beasts

(James W. Alexander, "Consolation" 1852)

Spiritual rest is promoted by the mortification of sin.

Sin is the sole cause of all the discord, perturbation,
and misery that there is in the universe. It was sin
that produced the disorderly commotion; it was sin
that tore the heart; it was sin that let loose all the
fierce winds of passion to howl tempestuously over
the mind.

If you catalogue the causes of your discontent, your
restlessness, your unhappiness, your feverish fretfulness,
you will find their names to be such as these:

Until these caged wild beasts are driven
out of the soul, there can be no quietness.

"Therefore, put to death whatever in you is worldly:
 sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and
 greed, which is idolatry." (Colossians 3:5)

It is very hard to learn

(Letters of J. C. Philpot)

Where we err is, that we want to be something,
when we are nothing. We want in some way to
recommend ourselves to God, and do or be
something that we can be pleased with, and
which we think will therefore please Him.

It is very hard to learn . . .
  the depth of our spiritual poverty,
  the greatness of our sin, and
  our thoroughly lost, ruined, and helpless condition.

It is a great lesson, and yet a painful one, to be
made nothing; to feel one's self weaker than the
weakest, and viler than the vilest; to be a pauper
living upon daily alms, and to be made often to
beg, and yet sensibly to get nothing.

"Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners;
 of whom I am the worst." 1 Timothy 1:15

"I am less than the least of all God's people."
  Ephesians 3:8

"I am nothing." 2 Corinthians 12:11

If God would forsake us

(James W. Alexander, "Consolation" 1852)

"Your enemy, the Devil, prowls around like a roaring
 lion, looking for someone to devour!" (1 Peter 5:8)

God does not forsake His people in their extremities. If
God would forsake us
but an instant—we would be torn
to pieces by the fiery talons of a thousand hellish destroyers!

"I will never leave you nor forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5)

Indwelling corruption may rear its head, and sometimes
threaten to prevail—but the presence of the Holy Spirit,
working repentance and faith in the soul, will crush the

"The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of
 temptation." (2 Peter 2:9)

How is affliction a blessing?

(James W. Alexander, "
Consolation" 1852)

"Blessed is the man whom You chasten, O Lord"
     (Psalm 94:12)

We are all familiar with suffering. We are either now
enduring, or shall at some future time endure severe
afflictions. There are few of us therefore to whom the
inquiry may not be interesting—how is affliction a
The question may be thus answered.

The chastisements which God inflicts upon His children
are profitable to them—as they tend under the Divine
blessing to promote piety in the heart. Chastisement
forms a necessary part of that paternal discipline, by
which our heavenly Father fits His children for their
eternal rest in glory.

1. Chastisement is useful, because it tends to convince
the believer of his misery, and shows him that without
Christ he cannot be happy. One great end of your
affliction is answered, when you are led to commence
and persevere in a faithful and earnest application to
Christ, as the great Physician.

2. Chastisement is useful, as it leads the believer to
see and feel his exceeding sinfulness.

3. Chastisement is useful, as a trial of faith. Adversity
is compared to the fire, the furnace, the refining-pot
or crucible, because it not only purifies—but tries; it
not only consumes the dross—but ascertains the gold.

4. Chastisement is useful, as it strengthens faith, by
leading the believer to the promises—and especially
to the Lord Jesus Christ.

5. Chastisement is useful, because it leads the believer
to exercise entire submission to the Divine will.

6. Chastisement is useful, because it leads the believer
to look for complete happiness in heaven alone. Let the
worst, most lingering, and most aggravated instance of
suffering be presented—and the hope of heaven is still
sufficient to mitigate its ills! It is well to learn to look
beyond all secondary, earthly, imperfect comforts—to
God, the source of good, and to that world where all
tears are wiped away!

In pain, and despondency, and grief, we go to Jesus
as to a friend who sticks closer than a brother. We
pour our sorrows into His friendly ear, and ask His
aid, and then, when He reveals to us His love, and
speaks His promises, and unveils His face, even though
He gives no assurance that we shall be set free, He does
more—He gives us Himself, and faith is refreshed and
nourished by receiving Him. And shall we not regard
as a mercy—that illness, or that bereavement, or that
severe trial—which so embitters the world's cup, as to
lead us to Christ, that we may see His beauty, and be
filled with His love?

"It is good for me that I have been afflicted!" Ps. 119:71

Analogous to the beasts

(James W. Alexander, "Consolation" 1852)

"With Your hand, Lord, save me from the men of
 the world, whose portion is in this life." Ps. 17:14

The men of the world go through their lives in a
poor ignoble manner, analogous to the beasts
which do not lift their heads above the pasture
in which they browse.

The true Christian no longer has his heart knit to
worldly pleasures and idols. His soul flies far away,
above and beyond these surrounding earthly trifles,
and fixes itself on the spiritual glories of Christ and
His eternal kingdom.

Faith in these glorious realities, casts a shadow
over the present earthy toys. "This is the victory
that overcomes the world—even our faith."

Take off the shoes from your feet!

(James W. Alexander, "Consolation" 1852)

The perfections and attributes of God afford
a refuge—and in time of trouble, faith resorts to
this refuge.

If God were ignorant or unwise, we might suffer
without His knowledge, or sink in waters which He
could not explore. We might be lost in mazes where
His eye could not follow us, or be carried away in
whirlwinds which He knew not how to quell.

If God were limited in power, we might groan under
the very burden which He could not lift off.

If God were afar off, in some pavilion beyond our solar
system, He could not be reached by our cry of anguish
when the deep waters went over our soul. And were
He not here this moment, it would be mockery to pray.

If God were not good, our happiness would be nothing
to Him, and we might have hellish pain forever and ever.

If God were not merciful, He would not care how
wretched we are.

If God were not gracious, we would sink in despair,
being sinners.

But because God is . . .
  everywhere present,
  everlasting, and
  unchangeable in goodness, mercy and compassion;
we have in Him a refuge and stronghold, to which we
may continually resort. Raise your eyes towards the
loftiness of our stronghold. But take off the shoes
from your feet
—for the place is holy ground!

"I learn the malignity of sin at the cross of Christ."
(Thomas Reade)

"Christ crucified is the blessed magnet, which
draws perishing souls to happiness and heaven."
(Thomas Reade)

The great end

(James W. Alexander, "Consolation" 1852)

"For from Him and through Him and to Him are
 all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen."
    (Romans 11:36)

The great end of Creation and Providence
and Grace—is God's own glory!

Death to the Christian

(Lewis Bayly, "The Practice of Piety" 1611)

Death to the Christian is nothing else but to
rest from his labor in this world—to go home to
his Father's house!

Oh, what joy will it be to your soul, which was
accustomed to see nothing but misery and sinners
on earth—now to behold the face of the God of
glory! Yes, to see Christ welcoming you, as soon
as you are presented before Him by the holy
angels, with a "Well done! Welcome good and
faithful servant! Enter into your Master's joy!"

And what joy will this be—to behold all the souls
of your friends, parents, husbands, wives, children,
and the rest of God's saints, who departed before
you in the true faith of Christ—standing before
God's throne in bliss and glory!

O what thanks and praise will you have, that,
by God's grace, you have escaped . . .
  all the miseries of the world,
  all the snares of the devil,
  all the pains of hell,
and received eternal rest and happiness!

You fool!

Lewis Bayly, "The Practice of Piety" 1611)

But God said to him, "You fool! This very night your
soul will be demanded from you. Now who will get the
things you've accumulated?" (Luke 12:20)

And so all trembling, the lost soul comes forth from the
body, and instantly is seized upon by infernal fiends, who
carry it with violence to the bottomless lake which burns
with fire and brimstone; where it is kept as a prisoner in
torments until the general judgment of the great day!

The loathsome carcass is afterwards laid in the grave. And
thus the godless and unregenerated worldling, who made . . .
  earth his paradise,
  his belly his god,
  his lust his law;
as in his life he sowed vanity—so he is now dead,
and reaps misery!

In his prosperity he neglected to serve God—in his
adversity God refuses to save him! And the devil, whom
he long served—now at length pays him his wages!

Detestable was his life—damnable is his death!

The devil has his soul, and the grave has his carcass—in
which pit of corruption, den of death, and dungeon of
sorrow—let us leave the miserable sinner, rotting with . . .
  his mouth full of earth,
  his belly full of worms,
  his carcass full of stench;
expecting a fearful resurrection, when the body shall
be reunited with the soul; that as they sinned together,
so they may be eternally tormented together!

"For God didn't appoint us to wrath, but to the obtaining
 of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thes. 5:9

Who can enumerate?

(Lewis Bayly, "The Practice of Piety—Directing a
Christian how to live, that he may please God" 1611)

Oh, with what a body of sin are you compassed
about, in this world of wickedness!

What are your eyes—but windows to behold vanities?

What are your ears—but flood-gates to let in the
streams of iniquity?

What are your senses—but matches to give fire
to your lusts?

What is your heart—but the anvil whereon Satan
has forged the ugly shape of all lewd affections?

You see in daily experience, that . . .
  he who was rich yesterday, is today a beggar;
  he who yesterday was in health, today is sick;
  he who yesterday was merry and laughing,
      has cause today to mourn and weep;
  he who yesterday was in favor, today is in disgrace;
  and he who yesterday was alive, today is dead!
And you know not how soon, nor in what manner
you shall die yourself!

Who can enumerate . . .
  the losses,
  the crosses,
  the griefs,
  the disgraces,
  the sicknesses,
  the calamities,
which are incident to sinful man?

More fit to be called a devil than a parent!

(Richard Baxter, "Motives for a Holy
 and Careful Education of Children")

"Bring them up in the training and instruction
 of the Lord." (Ephesians 6:4)

Parents! Your example and life are a continual
and powerful sermon
, which is always seen by
your children!

Parents! Your children have an everlasting inheritance
of happiness to attain—and it is that which you must
bring them up for. They have an endless misery to
escape—and it is that which you must diligently teach
them. If you don't teach them to know God, and how
to serve Him, and be saved, and to escape the flames
of hell—you teach them nothing, or worse than nothing.
It is in your hands to do them the greatest kindness
or cruelty in all the world!
Help them to know God
and to be saved, and you do more for them than if you
helped them to be kings or princes. If you neglect their
souls, and bring them up them in ignorance, worldliness,
ungodliness, and sin—you betray them to the devil,
the enemy of souls, even as truly as if you sold them
to him! You sell them to be slaves to Satan! You
betray them to him who will deceive them and abuse
them in this life—and torment them in eternity!

If you saw but a burning furnace, much more the flames
of hell—would you not think that man or woman more fit
to be called a devil than a parent
, who could find in
their hearts to cast their child into it? What monsters then
of inhumanity are you, who read in Scripture which is the
way to hell, and who they are that God will deliver up to
Satan, to be tormented by him—and yet will bring up your
children in that very way, and will not take pains to save
them from it!

If you love them, show it in those things on which their
everlasting welfare depends. Do not say you love them
—and yet lead them unto hell!
If you do not love them,
yet do not be so unmerciful to them as to damn them! You
cannot possibly do more to damn them, than to bring
them up in . . .
  sensuality and
There is no other way to hell. And yet, will you bring
them up in such a life—and say that you do not desire
to damn them? 

But if you train up your children in ungodliness, you may
as well say that you intend to have them damned! And
is not the devil more excusable, for dealing thus cruelly to
your children—than you who are their parents, who are
bound by nature to love them, and prevent their misery?

Let me seriously speak to the hearts of those careless
and ungodly parents, who neglect the holy education
of their children. Oh, do not be so unmerciful to those
who you have brought into the world! Oh, pity and help
the souls that you have defiled and undone! Have mercy
on the souls that must perish in hell, if they are not saved!
Oh help them that have so many enemies to assault them!
Help them that have so many temptations to pass through;
and so many difficulties to overcome; and so severe a
judgment to undergo! Help them that are so weak, and
so easily deceived and overthrown! Help them speedily;
before sin hardens them, and Satan makes a stronger
fortress in their hearts!

Oh be not cruel to their souls! Do not sell them to Satan,
and that for nothing!
Do not betray them not by your
ungodly negligence to hell! If any of them will perish, let it
not be because of you—who are so much bound to do them
good. The undoing of your children's souls is a work
much fitter for Satan, than for their parents!

Consider how odious soul-betraying parents are—who
betray their children to be the slaves of Satan here, and
the firebrands of hell forever! O do not join with the devil
in this unnatural, horrid wickedness!

"Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat
 him with the rod, he will not die. You shall beat him
 with the rod, and shall deliver his soul from hell."
  (Proverbs 23:13-14)

Hanging over the brink of the bottomless pit!

(J. C. Ryle)

And they said to the mountains and to the rocks,
"Fall on us and hide us from the face of the One
seated on the throne and from the wrath of the
Lamb, because the great day of their wrath has
come! And who is able to stand?" Revel. 6:16-17

Life is uncertain!

Time is short!

Eternity is near! 

Judgment is sure!

Sudden death to the converted sinner, is sudden glory.

Sudden death to the unconverted sinner, is sudden hell.

Unconverted reader! Your danger is far greater
than I can describe!

There is but a step between you and the worm
which never dies, and the fire which is never
quenched! You are literally hanging over the
brink of the bottomless pit!

Escape for your life!

Flee from the wrath to come!

They spring up from themselves!

(J. C. Ryle, "Repentance")

"From birth their hearts are set on nothing but evil."
    Genesis 8:21

"I have been evil from the day I was born; from the
 time I was conceived, I have been sinful." Psalm 51:5

We are all born in sin.

We naturally love sin.

We take to sin, as soon as we can act and think—
just as the bird takes to flying, and the fish takes
to swimming. There never was a child who required
schooling or education in order to learn . . .
  pride, and
These things are not picked up from bad companions, or
gradually learned by a long course of tedious instruction.
They spring up from themselves! The seeds of them
are evidently the natural product of the heart. The aptitude
of all children to these evil things is an unanswerable proof
of the corruption and fall of man.

An actual, living, personal Friend

(J. C. Ryle, "Faith!")

A man who knows nothing of an inward, spiritual,
experimental religion—is not a true believer!

"Unto you who believe, Christ is precious." 1 Pet. 2:7

This text does not say "Christianity" is precious, or
the "Gospel" is precious, or "salvation" is precious—
but Christ Himself is precious!

A true believer's religion does not consist in mere
intellectual assent to a certain set of propositions
and doctrines. It is not a mere cold belief of a
certain set of truths and facts concerning Christ.
It consists in union, communion, and fellowship
with an actual living Person—even Jesus the Son
of God. It is a life of . . .
  faith in Jesus,
  confidence in Jesus,
  leaning on Jesus,
  drawing out of the fullness of Jesus,
  speaking to Jesus,
  working for Jesus,
  loving Jesus, and
  waiting for Jesus to come again.

Such life may sound like enthusiasm to many. But
where there is true faith, Christ will always be known
and realized, as an actual, living, personal Friend.
He who knows nothing of Christ as his own Priest,
Physician, Redeemer,  Advocate, Friend, Teacher,
Shepherd—knows nothing of saving faith! He is
yet dead in trespasses and sins!

The person who loves Jesus may be poor and needy in
this world—but he is rich in the sight of God. He may
be despised and sneered at by man—but he is honorable
in the sight of the King of kings. He is traveling towards
heaven! He has a mansion ready for him in the Father's
house! He is cared for by Christ, while on earth! He will
be owned by Christ before assembled worlds, in the life
which is to come!

Are you a distressed believer?

(J. C. Ryle, "The Cross of Christ")

Are you a distressed believer?
Is your heart . . .
  pressed down with sickness,
  tried with disappointments,
  overburdened with cares?

To you I say, "Behold the cross of Christ!"

Think whose hand it is that chastens you!

Think whose hand is measuring to you the
cup of bitterness which you are now drinking!

It is the hand of Him who was crucified!

It is the same hand which in love to your
soul was nailed to the accursed tree! Surely
that thought should comfort and hearten you.
Surely you should say to yourself, "A crucified
Savior will never lay upon me anything that is
not for my good. There is a needs be. It must
be well."

Something peculiar, distinct, and different

(J. C. Ryle, "

The effects of the Spirit's work in conversion will always
be seen. Those effects may be weak and feeble at first.
But there where there is true conversion, some fruit
will always be seen.

Where no effect can be seen—there you may be sure
is no grace. Where no visible fruit can be found—there
you may be sure is no true conversion.

Does anyone ask me what we may expect to see
in a true conversion? I reply, There will always be
something seen in a converted man's . . .
  and feelings,
  and conduct,
  and opinions,
  and daily life.

You will not see perfection in him—but you will
see in him something peculiar, distinct, and
from other people. You will see him . . .
  hating sin,
  loving Christ,
  following after holiness,
  taking pleasure in his Bible,
  persevering in prayer.

You will see him  . . .

These, at any rate, will be his aims—these are the
things which he will follow after, however short he
may come of perfection. In some converted people
you will see these things more distinctly, in others
less. This only I say, wherever there is conversion,
something of this kind will be seen. True conversion
is a thing that can always be seen.

Never, never, will I allow that the blessed Spirit can
be in a man's heart—when no fruit of the Spirit can
be seen in his life! A conversion which allows a man
to live in sin, to lie, and drink, and swear—is not the
conversion of the Bible. It is a counterfeit conversion,
which can only please the devil, and will lead the man
who is satisfied with it—not to heaven, but to hell!

He puts us in our right place!

(J. C. Ryle, "Having the Spirit")

"When He comes, He will convict the world about
 sin, righteousness, and judgment." (John 16:8)

All who have the Spirit are convinced by Him of sin.

He alone can open a man's eyes to the real extent of
his guilt and corruption before God. He always does
this when He comes into the soul. He puts us in our
right place!
He shows us the vileness of our own hearts,
and makes us cry with the publican, "God be merciful to
me a sinner!" He pulls down those proud, self-righteous,
self-justifying notions with which we are all born—and
makes us feel as we ought to feel—"I am a sinful man,
and I deserve to be in hell!"

Sin is no more pleasant to those who are taught by the
Spirit. It is their sorrow when tempted by it. It is their
shame when they are overtaken by it. Their desire is to
be free from it altogether. Their happiest times are when
they are enabled to walk most closely with God. Their
saddest times are when they are furthest off from Him.

"When He comes, He will convict the world about
 sin, righteousness, and judgment." (John 16:8)

The fruits and effects He produces

(J. C. Ryle, "The Holy Spirit")

"When He comes, He will convict the world about
 sin, righteousness, and judgment." (John 16:8)

Where the Holy Spirit is, there will always be deep
conviction of sin—and true repentance for it. It is
His special office to convince of sin.

He shows the exceeding holiness of God.

He teaches the exceeding corruption and
infirmity of our nature.

He strips us of our blind self-righteousness.

He opens our eyes to our awful guilt, folly and danger.

He fills the heart with sorrow, contrition, and abhorrence
for sin—as the abominable thing which God hates.

He who knows nothing of all this, and saunters
carelessly through life, thoughtless about sin, and
indifferent and unconcerned about his soul, is a
dead man before God! He has not the Holy Spirit.

The presence of the Holy Spirit in a man's heart can
only be known by the fruits and effects He produces.
Mysterious and invisible to mortal eye as His operations
are, they always lead to certain visible and tangible results.

Just as you know there is life in a tree by its sap, buds,
leaves and fruits—just so you may know the Spirit to be
in a man's heart by the influence He exercises over his
thoughts, affections, opinions, habits, and life. I lay this
down broadly and unhesitatingly. I see it clearly marked
out in our Lord Jesus Christ's words, "Every tree is known
by his own fruit." (Luke 6:44)

Beware of self-righteousness!

(J. C. Ryle)

"We have all become like one who is unclean, and all
 our righteous deeds
are like a polluted garment.
 We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the
 wind, take us away." Isaiah 64:6

Beware of self-righteousness in every possible
shape and form. Some people get as much harm
from their 'virtues' as others do from their sins.

Oh, let us beware of self-righteousness! Open sin
kills its thousands of souls. Self-righteousness
kills its tens of thousands!

"There is none righteous, no, not one." Romans 3:10

He loves the things that once he hated

(J. C. Ryle, "Alive or Dead?")

"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

Whatever part of the globe we live in, our eyes need
to be opened—naturally we never see our sinfulness,
guilt, and danger.

Whatever nation we belong to, our understandings
need to be enlightened—naturally we know little or
nothing of the plan of salvation. Like the Babel-builders,
we think to get to heaven our own way.

Whatever church we may belong to, our wills need
to be bent in the right direction—naturally we would
never choose the things which are for our peace; we
would never come to Christ.

Whatever be our rank in life, our affections need to
be turned to things above—naturally we only set them
on things below, earthly, sensual, short-lived and vain.

Pride must give place to humility;
self-righteousness to self-abasement;
carelessness to seriousness;
worldliness to holiness;
unbelief to faith.

Satan's dominion must be put down within us—and the
kingdom of God set up. Self must be crucified—and Christ
must reign. Until these things come to pass, we are as
dead as stones. When these things begin to take place,
and not until then, we are spiritually alive.

The true Christian knows all this by experience.
He loves the things that once he hated, and
hates the things that once he loved. He has . . .
  new habits,
  new companions,
  new ways,
  new tastes,
  new feelings,
  new opinions,
  new sorrows,
  new joys,
  new concerns,
  new pleasures,
  new hopes,
  new fears.

In short, the whole bias and current of his being
is changed. Ask his nearest relatives and friends,
and they would bear witness to it. Whether they
liked it or not, they would be obliged to confess
he was no longer the same person.

Once he could see no beauty and excellence in the
Lord Jesus Christ. Now he would tell you that He is . . .
  the pearl above all price,
  the chief among ten thousand,
  his Redeemer,
  his Advocate,
  his Priest,
  his King,
  his Physician,
  his Shepherd,
  his Friend,
  his All.

Once he thought lightly about sin. He could not
see the necessity of being so particular about it.
He could not think a man's words, and thoughts,
and actions, were of such importance, and required
such watchfulness. Now he would tell you sin is the
abominable thing which he hates—the sorrow and
burden of his life. He longs to be more holy.

Once he cared only for this world . . .
  its pleasures,
  its business,
  its occupations,
  its rewards.
Now he looks upon it as an empty, unsatisfying place.
His treasure is in heaven. His home is beyond the grave.

Idols are at once cast away

(Archibald Alexander, "Obedience to Christ
Gives Assurance of the Truth of His Doctrines")

When the mind is freed from the blindness of nature,
and the eyes of the understanding opened, the light
of the glorious gospel will shine into such a regenerated
mind, revealing to it the beauties of holiness, and causing
it to rejoice in the glory of God. To such a one Christ
appears lovely—the chief among ten thousand, and He
becomes the jewel of their hearts. Idols are at once
cast away
, and He as their rightful King is enthroned
in their affections. Believers do not and cannot doubt
of Christ's excellency and suitableness. His doctrines
they humbly receive, and found their hopes of salvation
on His faithful word alone.

Doubly severe!

(J. W. Alexander, "Letters to Young Ministers
on The Cultivation of Personal Piety

Every preacher of the gospel should earnestly
strive to attain the experience of the truths
which he communicates, and to have every
doctrine which he utters turned into vital
exercises of his heart; so that when he stands
up to speak in the name of God, there may be
that indescribable freshness and penetrativeness.

That a man is a minister is no guarantee that
he shall not be cast into hell-fire! The hell of
apostate ministers must be doubly severe!

Morning devotion

(James Alexander, "My Brother's Keeper" 1838)

The habit of early rising is surely a friend to the soul.
If it is the best time for study, it is also the best time
for devotion. When prayer and praise are neglected
in the morning, they are commonly neglected all day.
If you let the world get the start of your soul in the
morning, you will seldom overtake it all day.

Morning devotion . . .
  sweetens every succeeding hour,
  pours a balm on the conscience,
  gives a pleasant savor to business,
  locks the door against wicked thoughts,
  furnishes matter for pious reflection all the day.

It is better to go from prayer to business—than from
business to prayer. Fellowship with God prepares for
fellowship with our fellow creatures—and for every
event, whether pleasing or painful.