Grace Gems for February 2006

Altogether lovely!

("Solitude Sweetened" by James Meikle, 1730-1799)

"Yes, He is altogether lovely! This is my Beloved,
 and this is my Friend!" (Song of Solomon 5:16)

Why does the world reject the Savior of the world?
Why do they abhor Him who is altogether lovely,
and hate Him who is the best Friend of mankind?

O men of the world! what good can you desire which
is not in Christ? The excellencies of earth are but His
footstool; the excellencies of heaven are but His
throne! How excellent, then, must He himself be!

His treasures are infinite—and open for you!

In Jesus are . . .
  riches—if you are poor;
  honor—if you are despised;
  friendship—if you are forsaken;
  help—if you are injured;
  mercy—if you are miserable;
  joy—if you are disconsolate;
  protection—if you are in danger;
  deliverance—if you are a captive;
  life—if you are mortal;
  and all things—if you have nothing at all.

Time and eternity are His! He can give
you all the glorious things of eternity!

Moreover, He can deliver you . . .
  from all your fears;
  from sin—the worst of all evils;
  from self—the most hurtful of all companions;
  from death—the most dreadful of all changes;
  from Satan—the most subtle of all enemies;
  from hell—the most horrible of all prisons; and
  from wrath—the most horrifying doom of all sinners!

Now, where will you find such a one as Jesus?

Why, then, refuse life, and seek after death?

All heaven is enamored with His beauty!

The longer we look on 'created gaieties', the leaner
and less lovely they grow; so that, by the time we
have viewed them forty, fifty, or sixty years—we
see nothing but vanity in the creature! But when
ten thousand ages are employed in beholding the
perfection and beauty of Jesus—He still appears
more and more lovely—even altogether lovely!

Alas! I can say nothing of His true excellencies!
They overwhelm my laboring thought, and are
too vast for my feeble conception to bring forth!

O Divine Lover!

("Solitude Sweetened" by James Meikle)

"Christ died for the ungodly." (Romans 5:6)

Behold! the eternal Son of God loves . . .
  an ugly, deformed, miserable creature,
  a crawling worm,
  a condemned criminal,
  an insolvent debtor,
  a rebel against heaven,
  a daring sinner,
  a drudge to hell,
  a slave to lust,
  a captive of Satan,
  a prisoner of the pit!

This is love indeed!

How ardently, O Divine Lover! should my soul go
out after You! I long for that glorious day, when I
shall mourn Your absence no more—when, admitted
into Your presence, I shall delight in all Your love,
and feast on all Your charms, world without end!

They dance after pleasure's bubble

(Henry Law, 1797-1884)

The mass of mankind are strangers to God, and
rebels to His grace. Their chief good resides in things
of time and sense. Their horizon stretches not beyond
this fleeting earthly scene. Their one object is to press
most earthly joy into earth's little day. They dance
after pleasure's bubble
, and scorn the cross!

The world is still the world. Its baits, its
filth, its vile corruptions, are unchanged.

It still extends a net for the unwary soul.

It still is the broad road going down to hell.

It still is the wide gate courting the giddy multitude.

Hence Scripture's voice still cries, "Beware!"

Beacons still show a coast bestrewed with
wrecks, and wisdom calls the holy pilgrim
from treacherous path.

"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide
 and the way is easy that leads to destruction,
 and those who enter by it are many. For the
 gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads
 to life, and those who find it are few."
    (Matthew 7:13-14)

I am confounded with wonder!

("Solitude Sweetened" by James Meikle, 1730-1799)

"Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound!"
    (Romans 5:20)

Dear Savior, in Your sufferings I not only see the infiniteness
of sin, but also the infiniteness of Your love; so that, though
I have cause with myself to be angry on account of sin, I need
not despair.

If the desert of my sinful folly is death—the merit of Your
sufferings is life!

If my sins mount up to heaven—Your mercy is above the heavens!

Though my sins reach to the very throne to accuse me
—there is One upon the throne who will not condemn me!

When I look to myself and see my vileness and necessity—I am
confounded with shame! But when I look to You, and see Your
fullness and all-sufficiency—I am confounded with wonder!

Am I weak? Jesus is my strength.

Am I foolish? Jesus is my wisdom!

Am I wicked? Jesus is my righteousness!

Am I impure? Jesus is my sanctification!

Am I in bondage? Jesus is my complete redemption!

Am I in misery? From Jesus tender mercy flows.

Am I deceitful? Jesus is wholly truth!

In a word, am I enmity itself? Then Jesus is love itself
which passes understanding! Mine is but the enmity
of a creature—but Yours is the love of God!

Where sin abounded—grace did much more abound!

Where misery has surrounded me—Your mercy has crowned me!

Sin is too strong for me—but Your grace is too strong for sin!

Why, then, am I so vexed with fears, doubts, and unbelief?
Because I am sinful. On that very account, Jesus, who knew
no sin, was made sin—that I, who knew no righteousness,
might be made the righteousness of God in Him.

But I am a great sinner! But Jesus is a Savior, and a great One!

Where is boasting now? See—it is great mercy in God, great
merit in Christ—which saves a great sinner! Since rich and free
grace builds the temple of salvation—let it have all the glory!

But I fall often into the same sin! That is my failing, over
which I ought to mourn, and by which I should be driven out
of all boasting in my own holiness, high attainments, and
religious duties; and cry, with tears of holy joy, "Grace, grace
to Him who has laid the foundation, carries on the whole work
of redemption, and will, with shouting bring forth the topstone!"

Now, law, what have you to do with me? Go to my
Surety, Jesus! O curse! you have lighted on His head,
that the blessing might rest on mine!

Though once I dared not lift my eyes heavenward, for fear
of divine wrath—yet now I may come boldly to the throne
of grace, and claim the blessings of His purchase!

Though my sin offends Him—I shall never sin away His love,
nor His presence altogether. For He shall come a second
time, to deliver me from all my inherent sinfulness!

Though my sin is my burden—it shall not be my bane! Yet
I shall never willingly let the traitor rest in my bosom—which
would persuade my soul into rebellion against my dearest
Lord, and best Friend. I may have continual war with the
invader—but shall obtain the victory at last! Meanwhile, I
will grieve more for offending Him whose name is Love, by
my sin—than for the clouds, afflictions, and chastisements
which seize me because of my sinfulness.

Now, with the arms of my faith, I clasp the promise—and
Jesus in the promise! Here will I live, and here will I die,
blessing God, who causes me always to triumph in Jesus
Christ my Lord!

When they are twisted out of my hand

Solitude Sweetened" by James Meikle, 1730-1799)

"Mankind is born for trouble as surely as sparks fly
 upward."  (Job 5:7)

O, what losses and crosses, sorrows and distresses,
uncertainties and anxieties, do mankind labor under!

Godly wisdom will lead me to expect nothing but vanity
and vexation here below. But, O! how happy is the soul
that has all the treasure in heaven—all his happiness in
God! May this be my case, and then I shall triumph in the
midst of losses, distresses, disappointments, and pain!

I take a loose hold of all earthly things, that when
they are twisted out of my hand
they may not
torment my heart!

Eternal felicity secured, is a noble panacea, and
a sufficient antidote against the heaviest misfortunes
and disappointments of this deceitful world!

I rest, and am composed, and calmly wait on You,
resigned to heaven's determination, in everything
concerning me in time—until I arrive at that better
country, at that perfect state, where there is
neither disappointment nor pain!

My Rock!

Solitude Sweetened" by James Meikle, 1730-1799)

"The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my Savior,
 my God, my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield,
 and the strength of my salvation, my stronghold!"
     (Psalm 18:2)

Do rocks defend me from blasts, from whatever
quarter they blow? So does my Rock!

Is the blast from hell? Well, He has the keys of hell and of death!

Is it from sin? He is my righteousness!

Is it from Satan? He has conquered principalities and powers!

Is it from afflictions? He is my sympathizing and loving High Priest!

Is it from losses? He is my exceeding great reward!

Is it from crosses? He makes all things work together for good to His people!

Is it from anguish? He is my joy!

Is it from darkness? He is my Sun!

Is it from doubts? He is my Counselor!

Is it from deadness? He is my life!

Is it from enemies? He is my shield!

Is it from temptation? He is my deliverer!

Is it from false friends? He will never leave me, nor forsake me!

Is it from solitude or banishment? He is everywhere present!

Is it from disease? He is my healer!

Is it from death? He is the resurrection and the life!

O glorious refuge! O sure defense! O everlasting fortress!
Here do I defy the worst that earth and hell can do!

Henceforth will I live by faith, in the MAN who is . . .
  my hiding place from the wind,
  my shelter from the tempest,
  my stream of water in a dry place,
  my shadow of a great rock in a weary land—
until every blast has blown over, and not a threatening
cloud appears in my sky—until my heaven is beautified
with everlasting day, and every storm is swept from the
air which I breathe!

"And a MAN shall be as a hiding place from the wind,
 and a shelter from the tempest, like streams of water
 in a dry place, like the shadow of a great rock in a
 weary land!" (Isaiah 32:2)

The most precious thing in heaven or earth

(John Flavel, "The Fountain of Life" 1671)

In giving Christ to die for poor sinners, God gave the
richest jewel in His cabinet; a mercy of the greatest
worth, and most inestimable value.

Heaven itself is not so valuable and precious as Christ
is! Ten thousand thousand worlds—as many worlds as
angels can number, would not outweigh Christ's love,
excellency and sweetness! O what a lovely One! What
an excellent, beautiful, ravishing One—is Christ!

Put the beauty of ten thousand paradises, like the garden
of Eden, into one; put all flowers, all fragrances, all colors,
all tastes, all joys, all sweetness, all loveliness into one;
O what a lovely and excellent thing would that be! And yet
it would be less to that loveliest and dearest well-beloved
Christ—than one drop of rain to all the seas, rivers, lakes,
and fountains of ten thousand earths!

Now, for God to bestow the mercy of mercies, the most
precious thing in heaven or earth
, upon poor sinners;
and, as great, as lovely, as excellent as His Son was—what
kind of love is this!

Has He put you so many times into the furnace?

(John Flavel, "The Fountain of Life" 1671)

You have a further advantage to a holy life, by all the
with which God visits you.

By these afflictions, God prevents your straying and wandering.
Others may wander even as far as hell, and God will not spend
a sanctified rod upon them, to reduce or stop them; but says,
"let them alone!" Hosea 4:17. But if you wander out of the way
of holiness, He will clog you with one trouble or other to keep
you within bounds.

Holy Basil was a long time sorely afflicted with an inveterate
headache, he often prayed for the removal of it. At last God
removed it, but in the place of it, he was sorely exercised with
the motions and temptations of lust; which, when he perceived,
he heartily desired his headache again, to prevent a worse evil.

You little know the ends and uses of many of your afflictions.

Are you exercised with bodily weakness? It is a mercy you are
so; and if these pains and infirmities were removed, these clogs
taken off, you may with Basil, wish for them again, to prevent
worse evils.

Are you poor? Why, with that poverty God has clogged your pride!

Are you reproached? With these reproaches God has clogged your
sinful ambition.

Corruptions are prevented by your afflictions. And, is not this
a marvelous help to holiness of life?

By your afflictions, your corruptions are not only clogged, but
purged. By these God dries up and consumes that spring of sin
which defiles your lives. God orders your wants to fill your
wantonness; and makes your poverty poison to your pride.

Afflictions are God's medicines, to purge ill humours out
of your souls. They are both fire for the purifying; and water
for the cleansing of your souls. Christ's blood is the only
fountain to wash away sin. But, in the virtue and efficacy of
that blood, sanctified afflictions are cleansers and purifiers too.

A cross without a Christ never made any man better; but with
Christ, saints are much the better for the cross. Has God been
so many days and nights a whitening you, and yet is not the
hue of your conversation altered? Has He put you so many
times into the furnace
, and yet is not the dross separated?
The more afflictions you have been under, the more assistance
you have had for this life of holiness.

By all your troubles, God has been weaning you from the world,
the lusts, loves, and pleasures of it; and drawing out your souls
to a more excellent life and state than this. He often makes you
groan under your burdens. And yet will you not be weaned from
the lusts, customs, and evils of this world?

O what a melting consideration is this!

(John Flavel, "The Fountain of Life" 1671)

"Christ died for the ungodly." (Romans 5:6)

O what a melting consideration is this! That . . .
  out of His agony, comes our victory;
  out of His condemnation, comes our justification;
  out of His pain, comes our ease;
  out of His stripes, comes our healing;
  out of His gall and vinegar, comes our honey;
  out of His curse, comes our blessing;
  out of His crown of thorns, comes our crown of glory;
  out of His death, comes our life!

The good Shepherd's flock

(Henry Law, "Deuteronomy" 1858)

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

The good Shepherd's flock is widely
scattered. They wander far on hills, and
valleys, in every land, and every climate.

Some pant beneath a tropic sun.

Some shiver in perpetual snows.

A watchful eye sees all.

And in fit time each is approached.
Jesus Himself draws near.
He wins the heart.
He enters in.
He takes the throne.
He shows His smile.
He melts the rock.
He turns the enmity to love.
He sits a conqueror in a once rebel camp.

All given by the Father come to
Him, because He comes to them.

They follow, because He calls.
They run, because He draws.

He opens out His arms; and then
they flee quickly to the shelter.

My needs—His fullness!

(James Meikle, May 24, 1757)

All plenitude is in Christ, to answer all the needs
of His people. In Christ dwells all the fullness of
the Godhead bodily, that out of His fullness I may
receive all spiritual blessings!

Have I destroyed myself by sin? I have deliverance
from Him who is mighty to save from sin and wrath!

Is my foolish mind darkened? Am I a guilty, polluted,
and ruined wretch? Jesus is my wisdom, righteousness,
sanctification, and redemption!

Is my life fleeting—and passing away like a shadow?
Jesus is the Ancient of days, and endures for evermore!

Are my days short-lived and full of trouble? Jesus is my
life, the length of my days, and the joy of my heart!

Am I exposed to contempt? Jesus shall be
my crown of glory, and diadem of beauty!

Am I traveling through the wilderness?
Jesus is my staff, and on Him I lean all the way!

Am I on my last journey to my long home?
Jesus is my leader, and my rewarder!

Am I a sheep? Jesus is my pasture,
and my green pasture too!

Am I hungry and thirsty? Jesus is my heavenly
manna, and gives me to drink of the water of life!

Am I weary? Jesus is my rest and refreshing!

Am I weak? Jesus is my strength!

Am I oppressed and wronged?
Jesus is my judge, and my avenger!

Am I reproached? The reproach of
His people, Jesus will wipe away!

Am I a soldier? Jesus is my Captain and shield!

Must I fight in the field of battle?
Jesus is my armor in the day of war!

Do I sit in darkness? Jesus is my light!

Do I have doubts? Jesus is my counselor!

Am I ignorant? Jesus is my wisdom!

Am I guilty? Jesus is my justification!

Am I filthy? Jesus is my sanctification!

Am I dead in sin? Jesus is my life, and quickens
those who are dead in trespasses and sins!

Am I poor? Jesus is the pearl of great price,
and has immeasurable riches!

Am I blind? Jesus, and none but He
can open the eyes of one born blind!

Am I naked? Jesus has white clothing
to cover the shame of my nakedness!

Am I in the very utmost necessity?
Jesus is a very present help in time of trouble!

Am I exposed to the hurricanes of adversity?
Jesus is . . .
  a refuge from the storm;
  a shelter from the blast;
  rivers of water in a desert;
  the shadow of a great rock in a weary land!

Am I afraid of being left alone? Jesus
will never leave me, nor forsake me!

Do friends and brethren prove false? Jesus
is the friend who sticks closer than a brother!

Am I in danger from diseases and death; or
from sin and Satan? My life is hidden with
Christ in God! When He shall appear, I shall
appear with Him—immortal in my body, and
glorious in my soul!

Is my case considered in the court of
heaven? There Jesus is my Advocate!

Do I offend the Father? Jesus is my Intercessor!

Do I suffer in my body, and am I grieved in my mind?
Jesus bore my infirmities, and carried my griefs!

Is my mind disquieted, and my soul debarred from
peace? Jesus is my sympathetic High Priest! He was
tempted in all points, and knows how to support
those who are tempted!

Am I poor in my circumstances? Jesus, the heir of all
things! Though He was rich, yet for my sake He became
poor, that I through His poverty might be made rich!

Do I suffer in my character? Jesus was numbered with
transgressors, called a Samaritan, a glutton, a drunkard,
and a devil!

Am I bereaved or alone? Well, Jesus in the fatal night
was left alone; all the disciples forsook Him and fled!
Jesus, my only friend, can never die!

Must I undergo death and be laid in the grave?
Jesus has taken away the sting of death, and
robbed the grave of its victory!

Must I rot in the grave? Jesus shall be my resurrection,
and raise me to immortality and bliss!

Would I go to God and to glory? Jesus is my way,
and must admit me into the palace of the great
King, where I shall abide forever!

In summary, Jesus is . . .
  my brother,
  my physician,
  my prophet,
  my priest,
  my king,
  my father,
  my head,
  my husband!

In eternity, when I shall dwell in the land of bliss,
in the city of God—Jesus will be the light thereof!
And since I am to worship there forever, He will
be the temple of all the redeemed!

My needs are many, but His fullness is infinitely more!

The morning dews and fructifying showers water the
fields, and refresh the parched furrows. But what are
they, compared to the exhaustless ocean of Jesus?

What is all that I enjoy here below, compared to the
exuberant fullness of the heavenly bliss? O! then, how
shall my soul be replenished—when possessed of
this infinite All
, through eternity itself!

Heavenly wisdom

J. C. Philpot)

"The Comforter, the Holy Spirit . . . will
 teach you all things." John 14:26

There is a heavenly wisdom which the Holy and
Blessed Spirit alone can give. He sheds a sacred
light on His own word of truth, and by His personal
and living teachings—opens, enlarges, and persuades
the heart to receive what He thus shows and teaches.

However valuable and blessed the book of God is, we
cannot be made wise unto salvation by the word itself
—without the special teachings of the Holy Spirit as a
personal and living instructor. He can suit His teachings
to our case; knows when, where, and how to teach us;
can bear with our ignorance and stupidity; give us the
right lesson at the right time and in the right way; and
do for us what no earthly teacher can—write His own
laws upon our hearts and give us will and power to
keep and obey them.

"I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best
 for you, who directs you in the way you should go."
     Isaiah 48:17

Our best Friend

(Anne Dutton's Letters on Spiritual Subjects)

Our best Friend, our sympathizing Friend in
heaven, has an inexpressible fellow-feeling with
us in all our miseries of soul and body.

What wondrous grace is this!

It is a bright display . . .
  of the Savior's goodness,
  of His tender mercy,
  of His love which passes knowledge!

We have in the love of Christ . . . .
  a sweet soft bosom to rest our weary heads,
  an open ear to all our requests,
  a flowing heart to relieve us in difficulties,
  and an almighty hand to supply all our needs.

No indulgent father—no compassionate mother
—nor countless numbers of them, were all their
affections united in one person—has or could have
a thousandth part of that sympathy to a beloved
sick child—which Jesus has with us, His sick children.

Yes, with us! though we are rebellious children!

For we are dear unto Him—ineffably dear children
from the infinity of His tender mercy; from His
all-endearing love, that has in it neither bottom,
nor bound, nor end!

They are soon seen dancing along the slippery path!

(Archibald Alexander, "Thoughts on Religious Experience" 1844)

There is a class of people, who seem never to feel the force of Christian truth. They are such as spend their whole waking hours in the giddy whirl of amusement and social company. Full of health and spirits, and optimistic in their hopes of enjoyment from the world—they put away 'serious reflection' as the very bane of pleasure. The very name of Jesus is hateful to them: and all they ask of Christian people is to let them alone, that they may seize the pleasures of life while within their reach.

If we may judge from appearances, this class is very large. We find them in the many places of fashionable resort. The theater, the ballroom, and the very streets are full of such. They flutter gaily along, and keep company with each other—while they are strangers to all serious reflection. If a Christian ever gets the opportunity of addressing a word of serious advice to them, their politeness may prevent them from behaving rudely—but no sooner is his back turned, than they laugh him to scorn, and hate and despise him for his endeavors. They habituate themselves to think that Christianity is an awkwardly foolish thing, and wonder how any person of sense can bear to attend to it.

Very often this high reverie of pleasure is short. In such a world as this, events are apt to occur which dash the 'cup of sensual delights' while it is at the lips. Death will occasionally intrude even upon this mirthful circle and put a speedy end to their unreasonable merriment. O how sad is the spectacle, to see one of these 'votaries of fashion' suddenly cut down, and carried to the grave! When mortal sickness seizes such people—their cruel friends make it their chief study to bar out every idea of true religion, and to flatter the poor dying creature with the hope of recovery—until death has actually seized his prey. Such an event produces a shock in the feelings of the others—but such is the buoyancy of their feelings and their forgetfulness of mournful events—that they are soon seen dancing along the slippery path, with as much insane thoughtlessness as before!

An avaricious disposition

(Archibald Alexander, "Letters to the Aged" 1844)

"Take care, and be on your guard against all
 covetousness, for one's life does not consist in
 the abundance of his possessions." Luke 12:15

Many begin life with little of the world's goods; and
the claims of an increasing family render it necessary
to exercise much diligence and economy to make a
living. But thus it often happens that an avaricious
under the semblance of necessity, and
even of duty—strikes its roots deep into the soul,
before the man is aware of any danger. Indeed, it
is almost impossible to convince a man of the sin of
covetousness, while he avoids open acts of injustice
or fraud.

The folly of the miser who hoards his money without
a thought of using it, is easily shown, and has often
been ridiculed. But the truth is, that all ardent pursuit
of worldly objects beyond what is necessary for the
real needs of nature, might be demonstrated to be
equally absurd.

"I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth
to the harm of its owner. Naked a man
 comes from his mother's womb, and as he comes,
 so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that
 he can carry in his hand. This too is a sickening
 tragedy—exactly as he comes, so he will go. What
 does he gain, who toils for the wind?" Ecclesias. 5

Precious Lord Jesus,

(A Puritan Prayer)

Precious Lord Jesus,
Give me faith to behold . . .
  my name engraved in Your hand,
  my soul and body redeemed by Your blood,
  my sinfulness covered by Your life of pure obedience.

May . . .
  Your comforts cheer me in my sorrows,
  Your strength sustain me in my trials,
  Your blessings revive me in my weariness,
  Your presence render me a fruitful tree of holiness,
  Your promises establish me in peace and joy,
  Your revivings kindle in me undying devotion.

Search my heart. Show me more of my
corruptions and helplessness, that I may . . .
  flee to You,
  cling to You,
  rest in You,
as the beginning and end of my salvation.

May I never vex You by my indifference and
waywardness; or grieve You by my cold welcome.

Answer my prayers, O Lord, for Your great name's sake.

Come to Christ as Mary Magdalene did!

(Jonathan Edwards, "Directions How to Conduct Yourself
 in Your Christian Course"—A Letter addressed to a young
 lady in the year 1741)

"There was a woman who was a notorious sinner in that city.
 When she learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's
 home, she took an alabaster jar of perfume and knelt at His
 feet behind Him. She was crying and began to wash His feet
 with her tears and dry them with her hair. Then she kissed
 His feet over and over again, anointing them constantly
 with the perfume." (Luke 7:37-38)

When you engage in the duty of prayer, or come to the Lord's
supper, or attend any other duty of divine worship—come to
Christ as Mary Magdalene did!
Come, and cast yourself at
His feet, and kiss them, and pour forth upon Him the sweet
perfumed ointment of divine love, out of a pure and broken
heart, as she poured the precious perfume out of her pure
broken alabaster jar!

Beware then of the vortex of worldliness!

(Archibald Alexander, "Counsels of the Aged to the Young" 1844)

Another danger against which you must be watchful is pleasure
—sensual pleasure. Worldly amusements, however innocent
they may appear, are replete with hidden dangers! These scenes
exhilarate the spirits, and excite the imagination—until 'reason'
and 'conscience' are hushed, and the real end of living is forgotten.

For the sake of pleasure, everything important and sacred is
neglected—and the most valuable part of human life wasted
in unprofitable engagements. Beware then of the vortex
of worldliness
, and especially of the least approach towards
the 'gulf of intemperance'. On that slippery ground, many
strong men have fallen, never to rise.

The trophies of this insidious and destructive vice, are widely
spread on every side; and the wise and the godly have come
to the conclusion that there is no effectual security against
this enemy, but in a resolute and persevering abstinence.

Seek your happiness, dear youth, in the pursuit of useful
objects and in the performance of duty—and then you will
be safe, and will have no reason to envy the votaries of
sensual pleasure.

The most hidden, secret, and deceitful of all lusts

(Jonathan Edwards, "Directions How to Conduct Yourself
 in Your Christian Course"—A letter addressed to a young
 lady in the year 1741)

"To fear the Lord is to hate evil. I hate arrogant pride,
 evil conduct, and perverse speech." (Proverbs 8:13)

Remember that pride is the worst viper that is in
the heart
, the greatest disturber of the souls peace,
and of sweet communion with Christ. Pride . . .
  was the first sin committed,
  lies lowest in the foundation of Satan's whole building,
  and is with the greatest difficulty rooted out.

Pride is the most hidden, secret, and deceitful of all
—and often creeps insensibly into the midst of religion,
even, sometimes, under the disguise of humility itself!

The daily business of a Christian

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

The daily business of a Christian
is to . . .
  resist the devil,
  deny himself,
  overcome the world,
  crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts,
  imitate Christ,
  walk with God.

Fullness of joy!

("Solitude Sweetened" by James Meikle, 1730-1799)

"In Your presence there is fullness of joy! At Your
 right hand are pleasures forevermore!" Psalm 16:11

In this present life I may have some tainted pleasures;
but in eternity, I shall always have pure delights and
holy raptures!

In this life I may have at times a measure of health;
but in eternity, I shall always have perpetual vigor!

In this life I may have some acres of ground; but in
eternity, I shall always have an unbounded inheritance
in the heavenly Canaan!

Here, I may have fine clothing of silk; there I will
have robes of righteousness and garments of glory!

Here I may have a beautiful house; there
I will have a house not made with hands!

Here I may have bread to eat and water to drink;
there I will have the hidden manna and the river of life!

Here I may have a portion of the good things of time;
there I will have the glorious treasures of eternity!

As to spiritual things, in this life I may have some
communications of grace; but in eternity, I shall
have eternal glory!

Here I have freedom from the reign of sin; there
I will have deliverance from the presence of sin!

Here I have glances of heaven by faith;
there I will have immediate vision of glory!

Here I have God in His ordinances; there I will
have uninterrupted communion with Him!

Here I have some experience of His love;
there I will have all the transports of eternal
assurance and everlasting bliss!

Here I have access to the throne of grace;
there I will have continuous attendance at
the throne of glory!

Here I often sin against God; there
I shall never offend His holy heart!

Duties of Parents

(By Richard Baxter. This excerpt is longer, but it is must reading for parents. You might want to print two copies of this—and read it together with your spouse.)

Ungodly parents are the greatest servants of the devil in all the world, and the bloodiest enemies to their children's souls! More souls are damned by ungodly parents, than by all other instruments!

1. Understand and lament the corrupted and miserable state of your children, which they have derived from you.

2. Train them up in exact OBEDIENCE to yourselves—and break them of their own wills. The common course of parents is to please their children so long, by letting them have what they crave, and what they desire, until their wills are so used to be fulfilled, that they cannot endure to have them denied; and so can endure no government, because they endure no crossing of their wills.

To be obedient, is to renounce their own wills, and be ruled by their parents' wills. To allow them therefore to have their own wills, is to teach them disobedience, and harden and train them to a kind of impossibility of obeying. Tell them often and lovingly of the excellency of obedience, and how it pleases God, and what need they have of government, and how unfit they are to govern themselves, and how dangerous it is to children to have their own wills. Speak often with great disgrace of self-willedness and stubbornness—and teach them what has befallen self-willed children.

3. In all your speeches of God, and of the holy Scripture, or the life to come, or of any holy duty—speak always with gravity, seriousness, and REVERENCE—as of the most great and solemn and most sacred things. For before children come to have any distinct understanding of particulars, it is a hopeful beginning to have their hearts possessed with a general reverence and high esteem of holy matters. For this will continually awe their consciences, and help their judgments, and settle them against prejudice and profane contempt, and be as a seed of holiness in them. For the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 9:10; 1:7. The very manner of the parents' speech and demeanor, expressing great reverence to the things of God, has a very great power to leave the similar impression on a child. Most children of godly parents, who later became pious, can tell you this by experience—that from early childhood they learned to reverence holy things—which the speech and demeanor of their parents taught them.

4. Let it be the principal part of your care and labor in all their education, to make HOLINESS appear to them the most necessary, honorable, gainful, pleasant, delightful, amiable state of life; and to keep them from apprehending it either as needless, dishonorable, hurtful, or uncomfortable. Especially draw them to the love of it—by representing it as lovely. The whole skill of parents for the pious education of their children, consists in this—to make them conceive of holiness as the most amiable and desirable life—by representing it to them in words and practice—not only as most necessary, but also as most profitable, honorable, and delightful. "Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace." Proverbs 3:17.

5. Speak often to them of the brutish baseness and sinfulness of FLESH-PLEASING SENSUALITY; and of the greater excellency of the pleasures of the mind, which consist in wisdom, and in doing good. Your chief care must be to save them from flesh-pleasing; which is not only in general the sum of all iniquity—but that which in particular, children are most prone to. For their flesh and sense are very lively—and they lack not only faith, but clear reason to resist it. And so (besides their natural depravity) the custom of obeying sense (which is in strength) without reason (which is in childhood is almost useless) does much increase this pernicious sin. And therefore continually labor to imprint in their minds an odious dislike of a flesh pleasing life. Speak bitterly to them against gluttony, and drunkenness, and excess of amusements.

6. To this end, and also for the health of their bodies, keep a strict guard upon their APPETITES (which they are not able to guard themselves). Keep them as exactly as you can to the rules of reason, both in the quantity and quality of their food. Yet tell them the reason of your restraint, or else they will secretly strive the more to break their bounds. Most parents are guilty of the great hurt and danger of their children's health and souls, by pleasing and glutting them with food and drink. If I should call them devils and murderers to their own children, they would think I spoke too harshly. They destroy their souls by accustoming them to be ruled by their appetites; which later in life, all the teaching in the world will hardly ever overcome, without the special grace of God. What is all the vice and villainy in the world, but the pleasing of the desires of the flesh? And when they are habituated to this, they are rooted in their sin and misery.

7. For sports and RECREATIONS, let them be such, and so much—as may be needful to their health and cheerfulness. But not so much as may carry away their minds from better things, and draw them away from their books or other duties; nor such as may tempt them to gaming or covetousness. Children must have convenient sport for the health of the body and alacrity of the mind. Such recreations which exercise their bodies, is best. Cards and dice, and such idle games, are every way most unfit, as tending to hurt both body and mind. Their time also must be limited them, that their play may not be more important than their work. As soon as they have the use of any reason and speech, they should be taught some better things, and not left until they are five or six years of age, to do nothing—thus acquiring the habit of wasting all their time in play. Children are very early capable of learning something which may prepare them for more useful things.

8. Use all your wisdom and diligence to root out the sin of PRIDE. And to that end, do not (as is usual with foolish parents) please them by telling them how wonderful they are. But train them to humility and plainness, and speak disgracefully of pride and conceit—to breed an averseness to it in their minds. Cause them to learn such texts of Scripture as speak of God's abhorring and resisting the proud—and of his loving and honoring the humble. When they see other children who are greedy for worldly things, speak of this as their shame—that your children may not desire to be like them. Speak against boasting, and every other way of pride which they are liable to. And yet give them the praise for all that is noble—for that is but their due encouragement.

9. Speak to them disgracefully of the extravagance, and pomp, and riches of the WORLD, and of the sin of selfishness and covetousness; and diligently watch against it, and all that may tempt them to it. When they see great houses, and extravagance, and luxury—tell them that these are the devil's baits, to entice poor sinners to love this world, that they may lose their souls, and the world to come. Tell them how much heaven excels all this; and that the lovers of the world can never go there; but only the humble, and meek, and poor in spirit enter heaven. Tell them of the rich glutton in Luke 16, who was thus clothed in purple and silk, and feasted sumptuously every day; but when he came to hell, could not get a drop of water to cool his tongue; when Lazarus was in the joys of paradise.

Do not do as the wicked do—who entice their children to worldliness and covetousness, by giving them all that they desire, and by speaking highly of all who are rich and great in worldly things. But tell them how much happier a poor believer is; and withdraw all that may tempt their minds to covetousness. All this will be little enough to cure this pernicious sin.

10. Keep them as much as may be from EVIL COMPANY, especially from ungodly play-fellows. This is one of the greatest dangers for the undoing of children in the world. Especially when they are sent to common schools—for there is scarcely any of those schools so good, but has many crude and ungodly ill-taught children in it; who will speak profanely, and filthily, and make their ribald and railing speeches a matter of boasting; besides fighting, and gaming and scorning, and neglecting their lessons. And they will make a scorn of him who will not do as they, if not beat and abuse him.

And there is such tinder in nature for these sparks to flame upon, that most children—when they hear others take God's name in vain, or sing lewd songs, or talk filthy words, or call one another by reproachful names—do quickly imitate them. And even when you have watched over your children at home as closely as you can, they are infected abroad with such beastly vices, as they are hardly ever after cured of.

Therefore let those who are able, either educate their children most at home, or in private and well ordered schools; and those who cannot do so, must be the more exceeding watchful over them, and charge them to associate with the best. Speak to your children of the odiousness of these practices, and the wickedness of those who use them; and speak very disgracefully of such ungodly children. And when all is done, it is a great mercy of God, if they are not undone by the force of the contagion, notwithstanding all your antidotes!

Those therefore who venture their children into profane schools and company—to learn the fashions and customs of the world, upon the pretense that otherwise they will be ignorant of the course of the world, and ill-bred—may think of themselves and their own reasonings as well as they please. But for my part, I would rather make my son a chimney-sweeper, than be guilty of doing so much to sell or betray him to the devil!

11. Teach your children to know the preciousness of TIME, and allow them not to misspend an hour. Be often speaking to them how precious a thing time is, and how short man's life is, and how great his work, and how our endless life of joy or misery depends on this little time. Speak odiously to them of the sin of those who play and idle away their time. Keep account of all their hours, and allow them not to lose any by excess of sleep, or excess of play, or any other way; but engage them still in some employment that is worthy of their time.

Train up your children in a life of diligence and labor, and do not accustom them to ease and idleness when they are young. Many children are taught no calling, nor exercised in any employment, but only such as is fit for nothing but ornament and recreation at the best. Recreation should have but a small proportion of their time. So that by the sin of their parents, many are early engaged in a life of idleness, which afterward is almost impossible for them to overcome. They are taught to live like swine or vermin—which live only to live, and do small good in the world by living. They rise, and dress, and adorn themselves, and go to dinner, and thence to cards or dice, or chat and idle talk, or some play, or idle visit, or recreation; and so to supper, and to chat again, and then to bed. This is the lamentable life of too many who have great obligations to God.

12. Let your own EXAMPLE teach your children that holiness, and heavenliness, and blamelessness of tongue and life—which you desire for them to learn and practice. The example of parents is most powerful with children, both for good and evil. If they see that you live in the fear of God, it will do much to persuade them, that it is the most necessary and excellent course of life, and that they must do so too. But if they see you live a carnal, indulgent, and worldly life—it will greatly embolden them to imitate you. If you speak ever so well to them, they will sooner believe your bad lives, than your good words.

13. Let them perceive that you dearly LOVE them, and that all your commands, restraints, and corrections are for their good, and not merely because you will have it so. If they perceive that you dearly love them, they will obey you the more willingly, and the easier be brought to repent of their disobedience. And they will as well obey you in heart as in outward actions; and behind your back as before your face. And their love for you (which must be caused by your love to them) must be one of the chief means to bring them to the love of all that good which you commend to them; and so to form their wills sincerely to the will of God, and make them holy.
<>If you are too cold to them, and too harsh, they will only fear you, and not much love you; and then they will love no books, no practices, which you commend to them. Nay, it will tempt them to loathe your government, and all that good which you persuade them to, and make them like birds in a cage, which watch for an opportunity to get away and get their liberty. They will be the more in the company of evil and idle children, because your terror and coldness makes them take no delight in your company. And fear will make them liars—as often as a lie seems necessary to their escape.

Parents who show much love to their children, may safely show severity when they commit a fault. For then they will see, that it is their fault alone, which displeases you, and not their persons; and your love reconciles them to you when they are corrected. Correction from parents who are always cold or angry, and show no tender love to their children—will alienate them, and do no good. Tender love, with severity only when they sin—is the only way to do them good.

If God denies you children, and saves you all this care and labor; do not repine, but be thankful, believing it is best for you. Remember what a deal of duty, and pains, and heart's grief He has freed you from, and how few children become godly—even when parents have done their best. Remember what a life of misery children must here pass through, and how sad the fear of their sin and damnation would have been to you.