Grace Gems for January 2006

It was not the nails!

J. C. Philpot)

"My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Mark 15:34

It was not the nails driven through His hands and feet;
it was not the crown of thorns placed upon His brow;
it was not the stripes which mangled His back;
it was not the languor and faintness under which He
suffered—which caused the Lord to die.

It was not the mere bodily agony of the cross; it was
not the mere pain, though most acute and severe, of
the nails driven through His sacred hands and feet. It
was not the being stretched upon the cross six hours
that constituted the chief part of the Redeemer's
suffering. But it was the almost intolerable load of
imputed sin—the imputed sins of millions. It was the
tremendous pouring of the wrath of God into His holy
soul; it was the hiding of His Father's face, and the
very pangs of hell that there caught hold of Him.

Our suffering Savior drank the cup of the wrath of
God to the very dregs—when our vile, dreadful, and
horrible sins were laid upon Him!

"Yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten
 by Him, and afflicted." Isaiah 53:4

"Yet it pleased the Lord to crush Him, and cause
 Him to suffer, and though the Lord makes His
 soul an offering for sin . . ." Isaiah 53:10

Wave upon wave of grace

(A Puritan Prayer)

O God of grace,
Teach me to know that grace precedes, accompanies,
and follows my salvation; that it sustains the redeemed
soul, that not one link of its chain can ever break!

From Calvary's cross, wave upon wave of grace . . .
  reaches me,
  deals with my sin,
  washes me clean,
  renews my heart,
  strengthens my will,
  draws out my affection,
  kindles a flame in my soul,
  rules throughout my inner man,
  consecrates my every thought, word, work,
  teaches me Your immeasurable love.

How great are my privileges in Christ Jesus!

Without Him I stand far off, a stranger, an outcast.
In Him I draw near and touch His kingly scepter!

Without Him I dare not lift up my guilty eyes.
In Him I gaze upon my Father-God and friend!

Without Him I hide my lips in trembling shame.
In Him I open my mouth in petition and praise!

Without Him all is wrath and consuming fire.
In Him is all love, and the repose of my soul!

Without Him is gaping hell below me, and eternal anguish.
In Him its gates are barred to me by His precious blood!

Without Him darkness spreads its horrors before me.
In Him an eternity of glory is my boundless horizon!

Without Him all within me is terror and dismay. In
Him every accusation is charmed into joy and peace!

Praise be to You for grace, and for
the unspeakable gift of Jesus!

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

Every new trial, and every fresh cross

(Mary Winslow)

Every new trial, and every fresh cross,
drives me into the very bosom of Jesus;
and it seems as if I could lie there, and
feel the very throbbings of His loving heart.
I am His, and in His own loving hands, and
can fully trust Him for all.

In the cup of trial we are called to drink,
there is no wrath—all is love, though faith
may be tried, and we may for a season weep.

Whatever draws or drives us to Christ is
a mighty blessing. How needful are these
high winds and storms to cause us to cling
to our heavenly Pilot, and to speed our way
to our blessed harbor of eternal rest!

Like a passing scene in a drama!

(Archibald Alexander, 1772-1851)

Let the worldlings have the world, and make the most
of it! I will never envy their prosperity, for it is but for a
moment, and then, like a passing scene in a drama,
disappears forever! Their feet stand on slippery places,
and in due time their steps will slide! And then, all their
music, their mirth, and their wine will cease forever! And
when they sink, they will rise no more. They plunge into
a horrible abyss, where no ray of hope ever enters!

Oh, their end, their dreadful end!

"Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay. In time their
 foot will slip, for their day of disaster is near, and
 their doom is coming quickly!" Deuteronomy 32:35

Guilt, filth, power, love and practice

(J. C. Philpot)

"Arise, Lord! Save me, my God!" (Psalm 3:7)

If you know anything for yourself inwardly
and experimentally of . . .
  the evils of your heart,
  the power of sin,
  the strength of temptation,
  the subtlety of your unwearied foe, and
  that daily conflict between nature and grace,
the flesh and the spirit, which is the peculiar mark
of the living family of God—you will find and feel
your need of salvation as a daily reality!

Do not think that the only salvation to be felt and
known is salvation past—salvation accomplished by
the blood-shedding and death of the Son of God.
There is salvation present—an inward, experimental,
and continual salvation communicated out of the
fullness of Christ as a risen Mediator.

Don't you need to be daily and almost hourly saved?
But from what? Why, from everything in you that fights
against the will and word of God. Sin is not dead in you.
You ar not free from the indwelling of sin, nor from the
power of sin either—except as grace gives you present
deliverance from it. Sin still works in your carnal mind,
and will work in it until your dying hour. What then you
need to be saved from is the guilt, filth, power, love
and practice
of indwelling sin.

"Hold me up, and I shall be safe!" (Psalm 119:117)

Lead me to the cross

(A Puritan Prayer)

O Holy Spirit,
Have mercy on me. Move, I beg You, upon my
disordered heart. Take away the infirmities of
unruly desires and hateful lusts. Lift the mists
and darkness of unbelief. Brighten my soul with
the pure light of truth. Make my soul . . .
  as fragrant as the garden of paradise,
  rich with every goodly fruit,
  beautiful with heavenly grace,
  radiant with rays of divine light.

Be my comforter, light, guide, sanctifier.

Take of the things of Christ and show them
to my soul. Teach me more of His . . .

Lead me to the cross and show me . . .
  His wounds,
  the hateful nature of sin,
  the power of Satan.

May I there see my sins as . . .
  the nails which transfixed Him,
  the cords which bound Him,
  the thorns which tore Him,
  the sword which pierced Him.

Help me to see in His death, the reality
and immensity of His love. Increase my
faith in the clear knowledge of . . .
  atonement achieved,
  expiation completed,
  satisfaction for sin made,
  guilt done away.

It is their Father's hand which chastens them!

(J. C. Ryle, "The Blood of the Lamb")

God lays heavy trials upon His children for the most wise
and merciful purposes. We live in such a fair and pleasant
world, we are so surrounded with so much that is smiling
and mirthful, that if we were not often obliged to taste
of sickness and trial or disappointments, we would forget
our heavenly home—and pitch our tents in this Sodom!

This is why God's people pass through great tribulations.
This is why they are often called upon to suffer the sting
of affliction and anxiety—or weep over the grave of those
on whom our affections are set. It is their Father's hand
which chastens them!
It is thus He weans their affections
from things below—and fixes them on Himself! It is thus He
trains them for eternity, and cuts the threads one by one,
which bind their wavering hearts to earth!

No doubt such chastening is grievous for the time—but
still it brings many a hidden grace to light, and cuts down
many a secret seed of evil. We shall see those who have
suffered most, shining among the brightest stars in the
assembly of heaven. The purest gold is that which has
been longest in the refiner's furnace! The brightest
is often that which has required the most
grinding and polishing!

"For our momentary light affliction is producing for us
 an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory!"
    (2 Corinthians 4:17)

They are all really worthless!

(J. C. Ryle, "Profit and Loss")

What shall I say of the things of this world,
which people appear to think so valuable—
  fine food and drink,
  and the like?

I say that they are all really worthless!

What I mean is this, that if you suppose they are in
themselves able to make you really happy—you are
woefully deceived! If any person could have just as
much as he wished of every earthly good thing—he
would still find in a very short time that he was not
one whit happier than before!

I dare say you think I am mistaken—but let me tell you
that many a rich man has tried the experiment, and can
bear witness that the case is so! Many a one could tell
you that he seeks out everything which money can
purchase, he passes his life in a constant round of
amusement and excitement, going from one pleasure
to another. And yet he must confess that happiness
and peace of mind have been like a shadow—always
before his eyes but never within his grasp!

I say that all the things of the world are perishable!
Surely, dear friends, this cannot require any evidence.
You must have seen with your own eyes that none of the
things I have mentioned are sure, lasting, permanent,
incorruptible, and to be depended on!

Money and property may be lost! Health may fail! Friends
may be deceitful! And unless we can make a covenant with
death and hell, we ourselves may suddenly be cut off in the
midst of our days—and hurried to our final judgment!

"Why waste your money on what really isn't food? Why
 work hard for something that doesn't satisfy?" Isaiah 55:2

"The world and its evil desires are passing away! But the
 person who does God's will lives forever!" 1 John 2:17

I know everything about every one of them!

(J. C. Ryle, "The Privileges of the True Christian")

"My sheep hear my voice, and
I know them,
 and they follow Me." (John 10:27)

The Lord Jesus Christ says of His sheep who hear His
voice and follow Him, "
I know them." I know . . .
  their number,
  their names,
  their particular characters,
  their besetting sins,
  their troubles,
  their trials,
  their temptations,
  their doubts,
  their prayers,
  their private meditations.
I know everything about every one of them!

Be comforted, all you who are tried and buffeted
with difficulties in your way towards heaven,
difficulties from without and difficulties from within,
difficulties abroad and difficulties at home, grief for
your own sins and grief for the sins of others—the
Good Shepherd Jesus knows you well, though you
may not realize it.

You never shed a secret tear over your own corruption,
you never breathed a single prayer for forgiveness and
helping grace, you never made a single struggle against
wickedness—which He did not observe and note down in
the book of His remembrance.

You need not fear His not understanding your needs.
He knows your particular necessities far better than
you do yourselves. Your humble prayers are no sooner
offered up than heard. You may sometimes sigh and
mourn for lack of Christian fellowship—but remember
that the Good Shepherd is ever about your path and
about your bed. His eyes are on all your movements.
No husband, brother, father, mother, sister, friend,
could take more tender interest in your soul's welfare
than He does. If you sorrow He will bind up your
broken heart and pour in balm. He is ever watching
and observing and listening. The Good Shepherd is
acquainted with all your ways.

A new existence

(J. C. Ryle)

"Truly, truly, I say to you—Unless a man is born
 again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." John 3:3

To be born again is, as it were, to enter upon
a new existence, to have . . .
  a new mind,
  a new heart,
  new views,
  new principles,
  new tastes,
  new affections,
  new likings,
  new dislikings,
  new fears,
  new joys,
  new sorrows,
  new love to things once hated,
  new hatred to things once loved,
  new thoughts of God, and ourselves, and the
     world, and the life to come, and salvation.

He who has been born again, is a new man, a
new creature, for old things are passed away.
He receives a new bias and direction. All things
have become new! It is the implanting of a new
principle which will surely bear good fruit. It is . . .
  opening the eyes of the blind;
  unstopping the ears of the deaf;
  loosing the tongue of the dumb;
  giving hands and feet to the maimed and lame.

"You must be born again." John 3:7

Why am I telling you these things?

(J. C. Ryle, "A bad heart")

The firstborn in Adam's house was Cain—a murderer.

The family of Noah, that just man, contained Ham
—the wicked father of Canaan, the accursed race.

Abraham was the father of Midian—an idolatrous
people who deceived Israel in the wilderness.

Isaac was the father of Esau—that "profane person."

Jacob was the father of Reuben—who defiled his father's bed.

Eli, the priest of the Lord, was the father of Hophni and
Phinehas—who made people abhor the offering of God.

David, the man after God's own heart, was the
father of immoral Absalom and Amnon.

Hezekiah, that godly man, was the father of
Manasseh—the most wicked of the kings of Judah.

Why am I telling you these things? I tell you them
to show you that good education and good example
alone, cannot make our children godly—without
the grace of God
; and to show you how deeply rooted
is the corruption of our natural dispositions!

Mapped, arranged, and provided for

Octavius Winslow, "Morning Thoughts")

"He knows the way that I take!" Job 23:10.

Untried, untrodden, and unknown as your future path
may be, it is, each step—mapped, arranged, and
provided for
, in the everlasting and unchangeable
covenant of God! To Him who leads us, who accepts
us in the Son of His love, who knows the end from
the beginning—it is no new, or uncertain, or hidden
way! We thank Him that while He wisely and kindly
veils all the future from our reach; all that future—its
minutest event—is as transparent and visible to Him
as the past. Our Shepherd knows the windings along
which He skillfully, gently, and safely leads His flock. 
Oh, it is a thought replete with strong consolation,
and well calculated to gird us for the coming year—
that the Lord knows and has ordained each step of
the untrodden path upon which I am about to enter!

The infinite forethought, wisdom, and goodness which
have ordained each step of our new path—have also
provided for its every necessity.

Each difficulty in the new year has been anticipated.

Each need will bring its appropriate and adequate supply.

Each perplexity will have its guidance.

sorrow will have its comfort.

Each temptation will have its shield.

Each cloud will have its light.

Each affliction will suggest its lesson.

Each correction will impart its teaching.

Each mercy will convey its message of love.

The promise will be fulfilled to the letter,
"As your days, so shall your strength be!"

This year I may be in heaven!

(Octavius Winslow, "Morning Thoughts")

"You haven't traveled this way before!" Joshua 3:4

How solemn is the reflection, that each traveler to
Zion is commencing a new and untrodden path!
New events in his history will transpire;
new scenes in the panorama of life will unfold;
new phases of character will develop;
new temptations will assail;
new duties will devolve;
new trials will be experienced;
new sorrows will be felt;
new friendships will be formed
new mercies will be bestowed.

How truly may it be said of the pilgrim journeying
through the wilderness to his eternal home, as he
stands upon the threshold of this untried period of
his existence, pondering the unknown and uncertain
future—"You haven't traveled this way before!"

Reader! if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus, you
will enter upon a new stage of your journey by a
renewed surrender of yourself to the Lord. You will
make the cross the starting-point of a fresh setting
out in the heavenly race.

Oh, to begin the year with a broken heart for sin,
beneath the cross of Immanuel—looking through
that cross to the heart of a loving, forgiving Father!

Do not be anxious about the future—all that future God
has provided for. "All my times are in Your hands."
"Casting all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you."
"Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain

Let it be a year of more spiritual advance. "Speak
to the children of Israel that they go forward."
Forward in the path of duty;
forward in the path of suffering;
forward in the path of conflict;
forward in the path of labor; and
forward in the path to eternal rest and glory!

Soon will that rest be reached, and that glory appear!
This new year may be the jubilee year of your soul—
the year of your release. Oh spirit-stirring, ecstatic
thought—this year I may be in heaven!

See this sad sight!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"The iniquity of the holy things." Exodus 28:38

What a veil is lifted up by these words—and what a
disclosure is made! It will be humbling and profitable
for us to pause awhile—and see this sad sight!

The iniquities of our public worship—its hypocrisy,
formality, lukewarmness, irreverence, wandering of
heart and forgetfulness of God—what a full measure
have we there!

Our work for the Lord—its envious rivalry,
selfishness, carelessness, slackness, unbelief
—what a mass of defilement is there!

Our private devotions—their laxity, coldness,
neglect, sleepiness, and vanity—what a mountain
of dead earth is there!

If we looked more carefully, we would find this iniquity in
our holy things
, to be far greater than appears at first sight!

Edward Payson, writing to his brother, says, "My parish,
as well as my heart, very much resembles the garden of
the sluggard. And what is worse, I find that very many
of my desires for the betterment of both, proceed either
from pride or vanity or indolence. I look at the weeds
which overspread my garden, and breathe out an earnest
wish that they were eradicated. But why? What prompts
the wish? It may be that I may walk out and say to myself,
'In what fine order is my garden kept!' This is pride! Or,
it may be that my neighbors may look over the fence and
say, 'How finely your garden flourishes!' This is vanity!
Or I may wish for the destruction of the weeds, because
I am weary of pulling them up. This is indolence!"

So even our desires after holiness may be polluted by
sinful motives. Under the greenest sods, 'worms' hide
themselves—we need not look long to discover them.

How cheering is the thought, that when the High Priest
bore the iniquity of the holy things he wore upon his brow
the words, "Holiness to the Lord" (Exod 28:36) and even
so while Jesus bears our sin, He presents before His Father's
face not our unholiness—but His own holiness! O for grace
to view our great High Priest by the eye of faith!

All true sanctification

(Octavius Winslow)

"Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us
 from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar
 people, zealous of good works." Titus 2:14

There is no victory over the indwelling power of sin, and
there is no pardon for the guilt of sin, but as the soul deals
with the blood of Christ. The great end of our dear Lord's
death was to destroy the works of the devil. Sin is the great
work of Satan. To overcome this, to break its power, subdue
its dominion, repair its ruins, and release from its condemnation,
the blessed Son of God suffered the ignominious death of the
cross. All that bitter agony which He endured, all that mental
suffering, the sorrow of His soul in the garden, the sufferings
of His body on the cross—all was for sin.

See, then, the close and beautiful connection between the death
of Christ—and the death of sin. All true sanctification comes
through the cross!
Seek it there. The cross brought into your
soul by the eternal Spirit will be the death of your sins. Go to the
cross! Oh, go to the cross of Jesus! In simplicity of faith, go with
the strong corruption; go with the burden of guilt; go to the cross!
You will find nothing but love there, nothing but welcome there,
nothing but purity there. The precious blood of Jesus "cleanses us
from all sin." And while you are kept low beneath the cross, your
enemy dares not approach you, sin shall not have dominion over
you, nor shall Satan, your accuser, condemn you!

I might have escaped all this misery!

(Archibald Alexander, "
The misery of the lost")

Let me imagine myself to have died impenitent. It would seem that the first moment after death must be one of unparalleled misery. My first reflections would be—

"I am lost forever! All hope of happiness or relief is gone from my miserable soul! The blackness of darkness is round about me! No ray of light dawns on my wretched soul! Despair, terrible despair has now seized upon me, and must blacken every prospect to all eternity!

"While in the body, and engaged in secular pursuits, I entertained a secret hope that there might be some mistake respecting the extreme misery of the damned, or that there might possibly be some way of escape not revealed; but now all these idle notions have fled like a dream when one awakes! I find hell to be no fable—but a dreadful reality! I find that the preachers, so far from exaggerating the misery of the lost, had no adequate conception of the wretchedness of a soul cast off from God forever, and doomed to dwell in everlasting burnings! Oh horrible! Horrible! I am undone—forever undone! I have passed beyond the reach of mercy!

"For the sake of momentary enjoyments, and worthless riches and honors—I have bartered away my soul. Accursed folly! What benefit can I now derive from those earthly pleasures and possessions? They only serve as fuel to the flames which consume me. O for one drop of water to cool my tongue! But for this I beg in vain. The time for prayer and for mercy has gone by—and my soul is lost, lost, lost! And through eternity I must expect no deliverance, no relief, nor even the slightest mitigation of my misery! Woe, woe, woe is me! It would have been infinitely better for me never to have been born!

"If I had not enjoyed the offers of the gospel, my anguish would not be so excruciating. But this it is which wrings my heart with unspeakable anguish—that I might have escaped all this misery! Had it not been for my own sin and folly, I might before now have been in heaven. Others who heard the same sermons, and belonged to the same family, are now in eternal glory—while I am tormented in this flame! Oh that I could cease to be; but to fly from existence is impossible.

"Here I am surrounded by wretches as miserable as myself, but their company rather aggravates than mitigates my soul's anguish. I am reproached and cursed by all who were ever led by my counsel or example into the ways of iniquity. They dreadfully scowl upon me.

"And the fiends of the pit, who were my seducers, now combine to taunt me with my folly. They never had the offers of mercy. The merits of a dying Savior were never offered to them. They seem to entertain a malignant pleasure—if pleasure it can be called—in witnessing my extreme misery. O wretch that I am—where can I flee? Is there no possible escape from this prison of despair? Can no one ever pass the gulf which separates this dismal abode from the regions of the blessed? None! None!

"May I hope that the passing of time will lessen the horrors and anguish of my wretched soul? Will my heart, so susceptible of the emotions of bitter anguish, by degrees become less sensible to these piercing pains, and be more able to bear up under this overwhelming weight of misery? This question can only be solved by experience: let me ask someone who has been suffering for thousands of years. Here comes Cain the first murderer, who is known still by having upon him the stain of a brother's blood. Suppose I speak to him—'Tell me, fellow-prisoner, who has long endured the pains of this infernal prison, whether by long continuance these miseries become more tolerable?' But why do I ask? the wretched fratricide is evidently writhing in keenest anguish. He is too miserable to speak, and too full of malignity to gratify anyone. His guilty stain—the blood-spot—has not been burnt out by the fiercest fires of hell. No! see, he defies the Almighty. He blasphemes the God of heaven. He asks for no mitigation of his punishment now. His malignant, fiery spirit feeds on despair, and challenges his Avenger to do his worst.

"Oh, then, I see there is a progression in wickedness even in hell. This is the most appalling prospect of all—an endless progression in sin, and consequently an increase, instead of a diminution of misery, through the endless ages of eternity!"

"Since, therefore, we have now been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God!" (Romans 5:9)

"For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ!" (1 Thessalonians 5:9)

A mere cloak which covered
a heart full of unclean lusts!

(Archibald Alexander, "
The day of judgment")

"God does not view things the way men do.
 People look on the outward appearance, but
 the Lord looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

"You are the ones who make yourselves look right in
 other people's sight, but God knows your hearts.
 For the things that are considered of great value by
 people are worth nothing in God's sight." Luke 16:15

"He Himself knew what was in their hearts." John 2:25

"Lord, You know the thoughts of everyone." Acts 1:24

And as externally good actions will then be examined
by One who has a full view of the motives from which
they proceeded, and the end which the person had in
view—is it not certain that many religious actions
will then appear to have been mere hypocrisy? that
many actions, apparently just and benevolent, were
mere efforts of pride and selfishness? and that a moral
and blameless life in the eyes of men—was a mere
cloak which covered a heart full of unclean lusts

Our most intimate friends here, will be astonished when
they see our secret iniquities and wicked motives exposed
to view. The most detestable crimes will be unveiled in
those who passed through life without suspicion! O how
many secret murders, perjuries, thefts, blasphemies, and
adulteries—will then be brought to light! How much fraud,
injustice, cruelty, oppression, pride, malice, revenge will
then be unveiled!

"Almighty Lord, You test people justly; You know what
 is in their hearts and minds." Jeremiah 20:12

"You alone know the thoughts of the human heart.
 Deal with each person as he deserves." 1 Kings 8:39

The only sin which may be indulged


It has long appeared to me that worldliness will, in
all probability, prove the eternal overthrow of more
professing Christians, than almost any other sin.

This because it is almost the only sin which may
be indulged
, and a profession of religion at the same
time kept up. If a man is a drunkard, a fornicator, an
adulterer, or a liar; if he robs his neighbor, oppresses
the poor, or deals unjustly—he must give up his
pretensions to religion—or his pious friends will
give him up.

But he may love the world and the things of the
world—and at the same time retain his profession!

If the depravity of the human heart is not subdued
by the grace of God, worldliness will operate.

"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)

Patience! Patience! Patience!

(William Plumer, "Vital Godliness: A Treatise
on Experimental and Practical Piety
" 1864)

"But the fruit of the Spirit is . . . patience." (Galatians 5:22)

"With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love." (Ephesians 4:2)

"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience." (Colossians 3:12)

"Patience has various OBJECTS. Towards God it is resigned, and says, 'I will bear the indignation of the Lord.' Towards Christian people, who justly reprove us, it is meek, and says, 'Let the righteous smite me!' Towards wicked and unreasonable people, who love to see others afflicted, it says, 'Rejoice not against me, O my enemy.' Towards the trials under which we are called to suffer, it is not uneasy and rebellious, but rather gives them a kind reception. Under provocation it is gentle and not resentful." Plumer

"Christian patience blesses and curses not. It bears insults and injuries without malice. It is 'patient toward all men.' Under affliction it is quiet and submissive. It will use no wicked measures to relieve even great distresses. It is 'patient in tribulation'—even the most extreme sufferings. Under delays it is still and uncomplaining. It loves to leave everything in the hands of the Father!" Plumer

"Patience is that calm and unruffled temper, with which a godly man bears the evils of life." Buck

"Patience is that virtue which qualifies us to bear all conditions and all events, with such persuasions of mind, such dispositions and affections of heart, such external deportments and practices of life—as God requires, and good reason directs." Barrow

"Christian patience is a disposition that keeps us calm and composed in our frame, and steady in the practice of our duty under the sense of our afflictions, or in the delay of our hopes." Evans

"In regard of God, patience is a submission to his sovereignty. To endure a trial, simply because we cannot avoid or resist it, is not Christian patience. But to humbly submit because it is the will of God to inflict the trial, to be silent because the sovereignty of God orders it—is true godly patience." Charnock

"Christian patience is not a careless indolence, a stupid insensibility, mechanical bravery, constitutional fortitude, a daring stoutness of spirit—resulting from fatalistic thinking, human reasoning, or pride. Christian patience is gift and grace of the Holy Spirit, nourished by heavenly truth, and guided by scriptural rules." Mason

"Insensibility of God's hand inflicting trials, is as different from Christian patience, as a deathly coma is different from the quiet, soft sleep of health. Nothing kindles God's anger more, than neglecting His direct agency in sending the trial. It is a symptom of a wretched state of soul." Bates

The more worldly pleasure—the less happiness

(William Plumer, "Contentment" 1864)

I said in my heart, "Come now, I will test you with
pleasure—enjoy yourself!" But behold, this also was
vanity! I said of laughter, "It is mad," and of
pleasure, "What use is it?" (Ecclesiastes 2:1)

"Lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God" 2 Tim. 3:4

Many are not content, because they have so few worldly
pleasures. Yet it is commonly the case—that the more
worldly pleasure—the less happiness
there is.

The more pleasure—the more sin also!

The more pleasure—the more dreadful the last account!

The pleasures of sin are but for a season, and that season
is so short. The pleasures of sense are wholly insufficient
to give permanent enjoyment.

"All things are full of weariness beyond uttering. The eye is
 not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing."
    (Ecclesiastes 1:8)

He is tossed from vanity to vanity

(William Plumer, "
Contentment" 1864)

"What shadows we are—and what shadows we pursue!"

"Humility is the mother of contentment."

"Those who realize that they deserve nothing,
will be content with anything."

When we become lifted up with pride, and think
we deserve something good at God's hands—it is
impossible to satisfy us. But with the humble is
wisdom, quietness, gentleness and contentment.
He who expects nothing, because he deserves
nothing, is sure to be satisfied with the treatment
he receives at God's hands.

The proud man is like a bullock unaccustomed to
the yoke. He is turbulent and fiery. He alienates
friends; he makes enemies. He has much trouble
and sorrow—where the humble man passes quietly
along. Pride and contentment do not go together.
Neither do contentment and carnal ambition. "Do
you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not!"
(Jeremiah 45:5)

Our actual needs are not many; but the ambitious
create a thousand desires and demands, which are
hard, if not impossible to meet.

He who is carnally ambitious, will not be content with
whatever he gains, because each elevation widens his
horizon, and gives him a view of something else which
he greatly longs for. And so he is tossed from vanity
to vanity
—a stranger to solid peace.

Are you ambitious for the things of this world?
Then you are your own tormentor!

But a little while, and I am there!

(Mary Winslow)

Without Jesus life would be an aching void,
earth a wilderness of woe and sorrow! He
can transform this wilderness into a little
heaven, making it radiant with His presence!
What must heaven itself be!

I shall soon exchange earth for heaven, and
finally close my eyes, when I shall re-open
them in glory. Oh, to be there! Oh, to see
Jesus face to face! To behold Him whom my
soul loves, and be with Him for ever! But a
little while,
and I am there!

Through the agonies of great trial

(John MacDuff, "Thoughts for the Quiet Hour")

"You, O God, have purified us like silver
 melted in a crucible." Psalm 66:10

As the olives must be crushed for the oil to flow;
as the grapes must be bruised in the wine-press
that the vats may be filled; as the gold comes out
refined from the furnace—so, through the agonies
of great trial
, the best Christian graces are

"I have refined you in the furnace of suffering."
    Isaiah 48:10

My sheep

(J. C. Ryle, "The Privileges of the True Christian")

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and
 they follow Me." (John 10:27)

This verse gives the character of true Christians.

1. God's children, His real believing people, are compared
to sheep, because they are gentle, quiet, harmless and
inoffensive; because they are useful and do good to all
around them; because they love to be together, and
dislike separation; and because they are very helpless
and wandering and liable to stray.

2. Jesus calls them "My sheep," as if they were His
peculiar property. "Mine," He would have us know, by
"Mine" by purchase; and "Mine" by adoption.

3. Christ's sheep hear His voice, they listen humbly to
His teaching, they take His word for their rule and guide.

4. Christ's sheep follow Him, they walk in the narrow
path He has marked out, they do not refuse because it
is sometimes steep and narrow—but wherever the line
of duty lies they go forward without doubting.

I am astonished

(A Puritan Prayer)

O bottomless Fountain of all good,
I am astonished at the difference . . .
  between my receivings—and my deservings,
  between the state I am now in—and my past gracelessness,
  between 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 be for an unfruitful person!
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.

Vain-glory, self-delight and pride

(William Plumer, "Vital Godliness: A Treatise
 on Experimental and Practical Piety
" 1864)

In practical piety, there is no greater mistake
than the persuasion that if we are pleased with
ourselves—that God is also pleased with us.

Vain-glory, self-delight and pride
blind, bewilder, and intoxicate!

On the other hand—shame for our own vileness,
sorrow for our shortcomings, self-loathing for
undeniable turpitude of our soul—are profitable.

Men must either part with their pride and good
opinion of themselves
—or they must part with
the hope of a blessed eternity. You must either
take your place in the dust before God—or be
cast down to hell.

"What a wretched man I am!" Romans 7:24

"I abhor myself!" Job 42:6

"Behold, I am vile!" Job 40:4

"Woe is me! For I am undone!" Isaiah 6:5

The great foster-parent

(William Plumer, "Vital Godliness: A Treatise
 on Experimental and Practical Piety
" 1864)

Saving faith is the great foster-parent of all
that belongs to scriptural piety. Faith begets . . .
  true worship,
  godly fear,
  devout thanksgiving,
  genuine humility,
  Christian boldness,
  holy joy,
  evangelical repentance,
  enlarged liberality,
  fervent love,
  a pure conscience,
  a holy life,
  victory over the world,
  eternal glory!

Faith gazes upon the cross
until the course of
the new nature is set on fire with heavenly love!

Saving faith . . .
  unites to Christ,
  lays hold of salvation,
  conquers every foe,
  brings every blessing into the soul,
  pronounces death abolished,
  always begets humility,
  is self-renouncing,
  consents to be nothing, that God may be all and in all,
  excludes boasting,
  is jealous for God's honor,
  brings forth forgiveness to enemies,
  begets repentance,
  nourishes other graces,
  ever clings to the fullness of Christ,
  kindles love to an unseen Savior,
  is ever laying its crown at the feet of Immanuel,
  puts things in their proper place,
  abases the sinner in the dust,
  sets God on the throne of universal dominion,
  pronounces all God's ways just and right,
  counts all things as loss, for the excellency
    of the knowledge of God's dear Son!

"True, saving, justifying faith carries the soul
 through all difficulties, discouragements, and
 natural impossibilities—to Jesus Christ!"
    (William Bridge)

"Precious faith!" (2 Peter 1:1)

If you desire . . .
  a useful life,
  a pleasant old age,
  a comfortable death,
  a blissful immortality—
believe God,
trust to His grace,
rely on His Son.

Rely on . . .
  God alone as your Father,
  Christ alone as your Redeemer,
  the Holy Spirit alone as your Comforter.

The sins of the godly and the ungodly

(William Plumer, "Backsliding" 1864)

"No one born of God makes a practice of sinning,
 for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep
 on sinning because he has been born of God."
    (1 John 3:9)

He who regards sin with so little abhorrence as willingly
to commit it, cannot be walking in the way of holiness.
He who allowedly and habitually departs from God,
proves that sin reigns in his mortal body, and that
he is the slave of corruption.

The sins of the godly and the ungodly are unlike
in several particulars.

When the wicked depart from God, they cry, "Peace
and safety." When the righteous no longer maintain
a close walk with God, they say, "Oh that it were
with us as in months past."

In their wanderings, the wicked call themselves happy.
Having forsaken God, the righteous lose enjoyment, and
are filled with sadness.

The wicked sin perpetually. The righteous err from
God's ways—but only for a season.

The wicked are bent to backsliding. Hosea 11:7.
The righteous are betrayed into sin.

The wicked are as the sow wallowing in the mire.
It is their nature to work iniquity. The righteous
are as the cleanly sheep. If they are in the slough,
it is their calamity.

The wicked fill up their sin always. They cannot
rest until they have done some mischief. They dig
into hell. The righteous is not so. When he falls, he
shall rise again. When he sits in darkness, the Lord
shall be a light unto him. A just man falls seven
times, and rises up again. All his backslidings are

Godly men weep

(William Plumer, "Vital Godliness: A Treatise
on Experimental and Practical Piety
" 1864)

"And he went out and wept bitterly." Matt. 26:75

We cannot have too low an opinion of ourselves;
or too high an opinion of Christ.

Godly men weep over the evils which
are found in themselves, such as . . .
  unloving tempers and dispositions,
  sinful anger,
  a proneness . . .
     to remember wrongs,
     to indulge complaints,
     to forget mercies.

There is no plague like the plague of an evil heart!

There is no misery like the wretchedness of
'conscious vileness'.

There are no sighs so long and so deep-drawn
as those caused by indwelling sin. Though the
righteous shall not weep always, yet they may
weep bitterly.

"What a wretched man I am!" Romans 7:24

"I abhor myself!" Job 42:6

"Behold, I am vile!" Job 40:4

"Woe is me! For I am undone!" Isaiah 6:5

"Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" Luke 5:8

Carnal, careless, and covetous

(William Plumer, "Vital Godliness: A Treatise
on Experimental and Practical Piety" 1864)

One must judge of his own state by the fruit he bears.
When our fruit is unto holiness, we know that the end
shall be everlasting life. Everyone who hopes that he is
converted to God, should examine himself and prove his
own fruit. In judging of piety, there is no substitute for
a holy life. We are Christ's disciples—if we do whatever
He commands us. We are the servants of the wicked
one—if we do the works of the flesh. We may boast of
discoveries, of raptures, and ecstasies—but all is in vain
if a consistent life is not the result. A godly life is the
infallible evidence of conversion.

Many professors of religion are carnal, careless,
and covetous
. In them no change of life appears
to prove a change of heart. They are much like their
worldly neighbors, except that they attend church.
They are spots and blemishes in Christian feasts.
They are a grief and a shame to godly people. The
church has their names, but the world has their
hearts. The number of such is painfully large.

We need to re-study our Bibles

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

We need to re-study our Bibles, and learn
what real Christianity is—how holy, how heavenly,
how spiritual, how loving, how morally and socially
excellent a matter it is. What separation from the world,
what devoutness,
what intense earnestness,
what conscientiousness,
what enlarged benevolence,
what unselfishness,
what zealous activity,
what unearthliness,
what seeds of celestial virtue,
our profession of godliness implies.

Having examined this, and obtained an impressive
idea of it, let us survey our own state, and ask if
we do not need, and ought not to seek, more of the
prevalence of such a piety as this, which, in fact, is
primitive Christianity.

Is our spiritual condition what it ought to be, what
it might be, what it must be—to fulfill our high
commission as the salt of the earth and the light of
the world? A Christian, acting up in some tolerable
measure to his profession, walking in the holiness
of the Gospel—is the strongest and most emphatic
testimony for God to our dark revolted world, next
to that of Christ Himself.