Grace Gems for MARCH 2006

Yours! Mine!

(John Flavel, "The Fountain of Life")

Lord, the condemnation was Yours,
that the justification might be mine!

The agony was Yours, that
the victory might be mine!

The pain was Yours,
and the ease mine!

The stripes were Yours, and the
healing balm issuing from them mine!

The vinegar and gall were Yours,
that the honey and sweet might be mine!

The curse was Yours, that
the blessing might be mine!

The crown of thorns was Yours,
that the crown of glory might be mine!

The death was Yours,
the life purchased by it mine!

You paid the price, that
I might enjoy the inheritance!

The fullness of His grace

(Octavius Winslow, "From Grace to Glory" 1864)

"From the fullness of His grace we have all
 received one blessing after another." John 1:16

Will you hesitate, then, child of God  to sink
your emptiness in this fullness; to drink
abundantly from this supply; to go to Jesus . . .
  with every sin, the greatest;
  with every temptation, the strongest;
  with every need, the deepest;
  with every trial, the severest;
  with your mental despondency, your lowest
spiritual frame yes, exactly as you are—and
receive from Christ's boundless grace—grace
to help you in the time of need? Hesitate not!

Every drop of Christ's fullness of grace is yours!
And you have . . .
  not a sin this grace cannot cancel,
  not a corruption it cannot subdue,
  not a trial it cannot sustain,
  not a burden it cannot enable you to bear.

Yes, the Lord will give grace! He will give us grace
for every position in which His providence places us.
He will give sustaining grace under every trial He
sends us. He will give preserving grace in every
path of peril along which He leads us. He will give
comforting grace in every afflictive dispensation
by which He seeks to promote our holiness here,
and so to advance our fitness for glory hereafter.

There is no stintiness, no limit in the Triune God.
He has given you grace for past exigencies, and He
is prepared to give you more grace for present ones!
"From the fullness of His grace we have all
 received one blessing after another." John 1:16

Snares, gins, and traps!

(James Meikle, "The Traveler" 1730-1799)

I am exposed to temptations from every quarter.
As my finite wisdom cannot prevent my being
tempted, so my feeble power cannot resist being
overtaken by them. I have Your grace to adore,
that I am not overcome with every temptation
which assaults me.

Human nature is like a pile of dry wood shavings;
and temptation is like a spark of fire cast into it.
It must be divine power that hinders all from going
into a blaze! O kind compassion! O tender mercy!
O glorious grace! I am nothing; hence I shall think
humbly of myself—but highly of Your grace.

What a thorny path is human life! How is it strewed
with snares, gins, and traps—for head and feet, for
heart and hands. If I lift up my head in pride, I fall
into the condemnation of the devil. If I am not watchful
in my goings, I am cast into a net by my own feet, and
walk into a snare. Vanity is ready to fill my heart, and
wickedness my hands. Satan has his deceptive and
powerful weapons against each of my bodily senses.
I am beset with snares on every side!

Two lessens I am taught, which, through grace,
I never shall forget:
1. To be distrustful of myself.
2. To be confident in God, and strong in His grace.

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present
 help in trouble." Psalm 46:1

"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of
 grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace
 to help in time of need
." Hebrews 4:16

O Lord! I desire to be humbled

Under a sense of my sins and unmerited mercies,
I desire through grace, in sincerity and humility of
soul, to approach to the Author of all my mercies,
and to lay before You, O merciful Father! all my
plans—desiring Your divine direction.

And, in the first place, I confess my own sins. I
desire to be humbled under my natural proneness
to evil and aversion to good; for my many sinful
thoughts, which You, O Lord, know; for my wrong
conceptions of the great Jehovah, and the smallness
of my holy fear when in Your presence, calling on
You before whom all the earth should tremble.

I also desire to be humbled for my limiting God,
as if he were not Almighty; for not placing all my
faith and hope on Him alone, but on appearances
and probabilities; for my ingratitude to God for
His many matchless mercies to me in feeding and
clothing me, and giving me favor in the eyes of
men with whom I had to do. Providence has never
failed me, but always supplied me; yet in the time
of prosperity I sinned, and joined with sinners in
their follies, which now I lament, and desire to be
humbled for.

O to learn the language of Your rod!

O Lord! I desire to be humbled for . . .
  all my prevailing lusts and passions;
  my spiritual pride,
  my ignorance of the things of God,
  my barrenness under the gospel,
  my lukewarmness about the things of Christ;
  my carelessness about pious duties.

Ah! that ever I should doubt the good will of Him
who heard my cry and delivered me out of the hand
of my fierce afflictions, manifesting His mighty power.
I desire to be humbled for my earthly-mindedness
and my desire after temporal things—riches, honor,
and glory—which perish and pass away. I desire to be
humbled for that great mountain of sins accumulated
on me since my last season of prayer.

And now I desire to lay before You my petitions. And
first of all, O to be daily getting nearer and nearer You;
to be growing more and more acquainted with lovely
Jesus, increasing more and more in grace, becoming
more and more like You, and daily less conformed to
the world; to be delighting more and more in spiritual
things, given more and more to meditation on the glory
to be revealed, loving Him more and more, who loved me!

O to be delighting in God all the day long, living in His
fear as before Him always, learning more and more
submission to His disposals in providence, and more
and more persuaded of the rectitude of His will, the
equity of His law, the longness of His patience, and
His care of His own. O to get some victory over
prevailing sin, and that which so easily besets me!
O, Let never the greed for money get a hold of my
heart; keep me from covetousness.

Now, O Lord, in the hope that You will hear, I lay
all my petitions before You. Choose what you will,
cast away what you will—I will be content. I commit
myself to You. I take You as my God and Father,
for my Savior, for my Sanctifier forever. O hear!

I desire in truth, O majestic Jehovah! to call these
heavens over my head, the hills and mountains around
me, the growing grass—to be witnesses, that I this
day subscribe with my hand to be Yours, wholly
Yours. Amen, amen! So be it!

James Meikle, July, 1752.
(from a paper found among his remains)

If God should damn you for all eternity

(John Flavel, "The Fountain of Life")

If the death of Christ was that which satisfied God
for all the sins of the elect, then certainly there is
an infinite evil in sin, since it cannot be expiated
but by an infinite satisfaction. Fools make a mock
at sin, and there are but few people who are duly
sensible of, and affected with—the evil of sin.

If God should damn you for all eternity, your
eternal sufferings could not pay for the evil that is
in one vain thought! It may be you may think this is
harsh and severe—that God should hold His creatures
under everlasting sufferings for sin. But when you have
well considered, that the One against whom you sin is
the infinite blessed God, and that sin is an infinite evil
committed against Him; and when you consider how
God dealt with the angels that fell, for one sin—you
will alter your minds about it!

O the depth of the evil of sin! If ever you will see how
dreadful and horrid an evil, sin is, you must measure it
either by the infinite holiness and excellency of God, who
is wronged by it; or by the infinite sufferings of Christ,
who died to pay its penalty; and then you will have
deeper apprehensions of the evil of sin.

If you wish to become weak-headed,
unstable, and good for nothing

(Harvey Newcomb, "The Young Lady's Guide to the
Harmonious Development of Christian Character
" 1843)

Novel reading produces a morbid appetite for mental
excitement. The object of the novelist generally is, to
produce the highest possible degree of excitement,
both of the mind and the passions. The effect is very
similar to that of intoxicating liquors on the body.
Hence the confirmed novel reader becomes a kind
of literary inebriate
, to whom the things of eternity
have no attractions, and whose thirst cannot be slaked,
even with the water of life.

Novel reading is a great waste of time. Few will pretend
that they read novels with any higher end in view than
mere amusement. If anything valuable is to be derived
from them, it may be obtained with far less expense of
time, and with safety to the morals, from other sources.
No Christian, who feels the obligation of "redeeming the
time because the days are evil," will fail to feel the force
of this remark. We have no more right to squander our
time and waste our energies in frivolous pursuits—than
we have to waste our money in extravagant expenditures!
We are as much the stewards of God in respect to the
one as the other. How dangerous thus to parley with

If you wish to become weak-headed, unstable,
and good for nothing
—read novels!

Mr. Hall comments—"If we would divide the novels of the
present day into a thousand parts; five hundred of these
parts must be at once condemned as so contemptibly
as to render the perusal of them a most
criminal waste of time!

Four hundred and ninety-nine of the remaining five
hundred parts are positively corrupting in their influence.
They are as full of representations which can have no other
tendency than to mislead, corrupt, and destroy—those who
habitually peruse them.

Perhaps highest merit than that can be attributed to novels,
by some, is that they are 'innocent and amusing compositions.'
This merit, small as it is, is greater than can be conceded. All
books are not innocent which may be exempt from the charge
of disseminating secularism and licentiousness. If they . . .
  convey false impressions of life,
  excite a distaste for its duties, and
  divert the mind from real life to fantasies,
they are decidedly pernicious. This, to a greater or less
extent, is the effect of all novels. Every discerning reader
knows this to be the fact."

Hannah More comments—"Novels, however free from
evil in their more gross and palpable shapes, yet, from
their very nature and constitution, they diminish sober
mindedness. At best, they feed habits of improper
indulgence, while nourishing a vain and visionary
indolence, which lays the mind open to error, and
the heart to seduction!"

You are the one who has done this!

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

"I remained speechless. I did not open my mouth
 because You are the one who has done this!"
    (Psalm 39:9)

Look upwards, when tribulations come upon you!
Look to that sovereign Lord, who commissions and
sends them upon you. You know that troubles do
not rise out of the dust, nor spring out of the
ground, but are framed in heaven.

Troubles and afflictions are of the Lord's framing and
devising, to reduce His wandering people to Himself.

You may observe much of divine wisdom in the choice,
measure, and season of your troubles.

God acts sovereignly, in electing the instruments of
your affliction; in making them as afflictive as He
pleases; and in making them obedient both to His
call, in coming and going, when He pleases. Now,
could you in times of trouble look up to this sovereign
hand, in which your souls, bodies, and all their comforts
and mercies are—how quiet would your hearts be!

Oh, when we have to do with men, and look no higher, how
do our spirits swell and rise with revenge and impatience!
But if you once come to see that man as a rod in your
Father's hand, you will be quiet. "Be still, and know that
I am God." Consider with whom you have to do; not with
your fellow, but with your God, who can puff you to
destruction with one blast of His mouth; in whose hand
you are, as the clay in the potter's hand.

It is for lack of looking up to God in our troubles, that
we fret, murmur, and despond at the rate we do.

"It is the Lord. Let Him do what seems good to Him."
    (1 Samuel 3:18)

Cursed sin!

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

O how inflexible and severe is the justice of God!
What, no abatement? no sparing mercy?

No, not even to His own Son!

Cultivate a deep indignation against sin.

Oh cursed sin! It was you who slew my dear Lord!
For your sake He underwent all this! If your vileness
had not been so great, His sufferings had not been
so many. Cursed sin! You were the knife which
stabbed Him! You the sword which pierced Him!

Lopsided religion

(Harvey Newcomb, "The Young Lady's Guide to the
Harmonious Development of Christian Character
" 1843)

There is, perhaps, a peculiar tendency to lopsided
in our age of excitement and activity.

Nothing delights the senses like harmony. The eye rests
with pleasure on the edifice which is complete in all its
parts, according to the laws of architecture. And the
sensation of delight is still more exquisite, on viewing
the harmonious combination of colors, as exhibited in
the rainbow, or the flowers of the field. The ear, also,
is ravished with the harmony of musical sounds; and
the palate is delighted with savory dishes.

The beauty and loveliness of Christian character depend
on the harmonious culture of all the Christian graces
in due proportion
. If one is deficient, and another too
prominent, the idea of deformity strikes the mind with
painful sensations; like harsh, discordant musical sounds;
or like the disproportionate combination of colors.

Where all the graces exist in due proportion, they will
form a lovely character, harmonious and beautiful as
the colors of the rainbow.

The beauty of the Christian character greatly depends
on its symmetrical proportions. A person may be very
zealous in some things, and yet quite defective in his
Christian character; and the probability is, that he has
no more true religion than shows itself in its consistent

The new energy imparted by the regenerating grace
of God may unite itself with the strong points of his
character, and produce a very prominent development;
while, in regard to those traits of character which are
naturally weak in his constitutional temperament,
grace may be scarcely perceptible. The error lies in
cultivating, almost exclusively, those graces which are
most agreeable with our prominent traits of character.

We should bend our energies, by the grace of God,
chiefly to the development of those points of character
which are naturally weak; while we discipline, repress,
and bring under control, those which are too prominent.
This will prevent deformity, and promote a uniform
consistency of character.

The perfection of Christian character consists in the
harmonious development of the Christian graces.


Peevish for toys and trifles

(James Meikle, "Solitude Sweetened")

O for what trifles, will men cast away
their precious souls!

It is proper only to children, not to men—to be
peevish for toys and trifles
. So let the men of
this world lament the loss of worldly vanities. But
let the heirs of God, the joint-heirs with Christ,
rejoice that the treasures of eternity are theirs!

"But blessed are your eyes, for they see."
Happy are those who have the eyes of their
mind opened, and clearly see . . .
  the deformity of sin,
  the beauty of holiness,
  the excellency of piety,
  the necessity of the new birth,
  the preciousness of Christ,
  the glory of eternal realities.

I see the mutable and fickle state of temporal
things, and therefore hold a loose grip on the
creature, however dear, however near—and
set my affections on things which are above!

Vagrant butterflies

(Thomas Reade)

Earthly vanities can never satisfy the enlarged
desires of an immortal soul. This is the reason
why worldly people are so restless and changeable.

Temporal objects soon cloy and satiate, therefore
worldlings fly from flower to flower like vagrant
butterflies—until death closes their idle chase
after an unreal happiness!

Did they possess true wisdom, they would
discover the source of true felicity.

Christ and happiness are inseparable. If we
find true happiness, it is because we have
found Christ; for . . .
  the pardon of sin,
  peace with God,
  purity of heart, and
  the hope of glory,
cannot fail to render the believer blessed.

A miracle of omnipotent grace!

(Anne Dutton's Letters on Spiritual Subjects)

A soul kept alive in God, and for Him, amid sin's,
Satan's, and the world's heart-killing influence
—is a miracle of omnipotent grace!

A grey head, and a carnal worldly heart

(James Meikle, "The Traveler" Dec. 26, 1761)

Hitherto I have looked upon myself as young, and
coming to the prime of my life. But henceforth I
shall consider myself as in my declining years. I
am certain how long I have lived in the world—but
quite uncertain how soon I must leave the world.
And therefore I should be preparing for my final
departure, and daily be ripening for the regions
of bliss!

A young man, and a holy life; one in his prime,
and all his graces flourishing—is lovely to behold.

But a grey head, and a carnal worldly heart, is
a wounding sight! Henceforth, be gone bewitching
vanities, and all the enchantments of the world! The
last years of my life are not to be trifled away with you!

Death attends me!

The grave awaits me!

Eternity is at hand!

In the profound depth of affliction

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

Christians, when shut up in the depths of affliction,
have their eyes on God alone, who can bring them
out of the horrible pit, out of the miry clay. Then their
thoughts ascend to heaven, and heaven shines down
into their souls; while the world, in all its glittering
vanities which strike the carnal eye—is cut off.

In the dark night of adversity, there are spiritual
beauties seen, which were never seen in the broad
day of prosperity. O desirable distress! which discloses
and magnifies heavenly excellences—and diminishes
earthly vanities!

In no place better than in the profound depth of
, does the heir of future glory see . . .
  the love, the goodness, the mercy, the wisdom of God,
  the excellency of true religion,
  the beauty of divine things,
  the danger of prosperity,
  the deceitfulness of riches,
  the vanity of created things,
  the happiness of the world to come.

Just because He disposes all things

(James Meikle, "Converse with the Unseen World")

"Our God is in heaven and does whatever He
 pleases." Psalm 115:3 (HCSB)

"But He is unchangeable; who can oppose Him?
 He does what He desires." Job 23:13 (HCSB)

While I might wish to change some things in my
situation in life, I reflect that the wisdom of that
gracious God who rules for me is so perfect, that
any other situation in life would not be good for
me. Now, though I cannot now understand how
such and such circumstances are for my good, yet
I know that His wisdom is a thousand times better
than mine. So I should be silent in whatever He
sees fit to send me. Moreover, I should adore His
sovereignty, and submit to His disposal in all
things—just because He disposes all things.

"For I know that the Lord is great; our Lord is greater
 than all gods. The Lord does whatever He pleases in
 heaven and on earth, in the seas and all the depths."
    Psalm 135:5-6 (HCSB)

"Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom
 and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable
 His judgments and untraceable His ways!"
    Romans 11:33 (HCSB)

This little inch of time!

(James Meikle, "The Traveler" 1730-1799)

"Time is short." (1 Corinthians 7:29)

Time is precious—though misspent, though
thought little of. Oh! what great things are
to be done in this little inch of time!

Think much on death—that you may not be
too much charmed with the 'vanities of life'.

Remember the deceitfulness and uncertainty
of riches—so shall you neither be puffed up
with their possession, nor pained at their loss.

Think much on the unseen world, and let the
certainty of that which is to come, dispel the
'delusion of the present'—which so quickly
passes away.

Eye God's glory in everything, and prefer the
approbation of God and your own conscience,
to the applause of men. Better be the object of
man's ridicule, than the subject of God's wrath.

Beware that you live not for yourself, or the world.
But live above the world, for eternity, and to God.

"So, then, be careful how you live. Do not
 be unwise but wise, making the best use
 of time, because the days are evil."
    (Ephesians 5:15-16)

What shall the swearer say?

(James Meikle, "The Traveler" June 15, 1758)

"You shall not take the name of the LORD your God
 in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who
 takes His name in vain." (Exodus 20:7)

How justly will God, the righteous Judge, repay the
imprecations into the bosoms of these blasphemers!

They sin in sport—but God hears in earnest, and will
punish in zeal. They call on God profanely in their
words; and God hears, and will answer them in wrath!

They swear, and forget—but God has sworn that He
will remember. That which they think adds vigor to
their words—shall indeed add anguish to their grief,
and fierceness to their torments!

What shall the swearer say, when tossing on the
fiery billows, shrieking under consummate despair!
"O miserable state of intolerable torments, which I
 must endure! How shall I spend this eternity of pain!
 It was nothing to me in time to hear others curse and
 blaspheme—and to join in the infernal dialect myself!
 And now I am encircled with unceasing blasphemies,
 from all the legions of demons, from all the millions of
 miserable sinners, suffering under infinite vengeance!
 And I mingle in the uproar, and join in the terrible
 tumult against the throne of God, although dreadfully
 tortured in my rebellion. Then, curses accented every
 sentence; now, every sentence is one continued curse!
 I thought God was altogether such a one as myself—and
 that He would never remember my swearings, which I
 never minded, nor call me to account for committing
 what I made no account of. Damn me! damn me! was
 always on my tongue—and now I am damned forever!
 The oaths and curses which I sowed in time, have now
 sprung up into bitter bewailings, and eternal blasphemings!
 As I took pleasure in cursing, so it is come unto me—but
 with inexpressible pain! O eternity, eternity, how long!"

"They cursed the God of heaven for their pains and
 sores. But they did not turn from their evil ways."
   Revelation 16:11

This is, indeed, the lamentable end of profane swearers,
who shall confess the equity of God in their torments!

But, as the wicked shall be repaid according to their ways,
so shall the righteous be in theirs. All their imperfect . . .
  godly sorrows,
  spiritual joys,
and the seeds of every other grace—shall come to
a wondrous conclusion at last. Now they serve God
with weakness—but then they shall enjoy Him with
a vigorous immortality! They sow in tears, and go
weeping heavenward—but shall possess Him in a
triumphant state, where sorrow and signing shall
forever flee away!

The difference between the godly & the ungodly

(James Meikle, "The Traveler" June 14, 1758)

There is a wide difference—in both principle and
practice—between the the godly and the ungodly.

The affections of the godly are refined—and their
desires exalted. The inclinations of the ungodly
are corrupt—and their desires groveling.

Sin has but a tottering standing, and a momentary
abode—in the godly. But sin has fixed its throne,
and taken up its eternal residence—in the ungodly.

In the godly, grace and sin struggle for sovereignty.
In the ungodly, sin domineers and there is no struggle.

The godly is deeply concerned about world to come.
The ungodly has no concern about eternal realities.

The speech of the godly is seasoned with grace.
The discourse of the ungodly is insipid and vain.

The godly has his hope fixed on God.
The ungodly has no fear of God before his eyes.

The godly use the world without abusing it.
The ungodly, in using the world, abuse both themselves and it.

The godly confesses God in his daily life, and rejoices
with his whole heart in Him. The ungodly says in his
practice—"there is no God" and wishes in his heart,
that there were no God.

The godly adores the Creator above all else.
The ungodly worships the 'creature' more than the Creator.

The godly uses God's name with profoundest reverence,
and departs from iniquity. The ungodly profanes God's
name with impudence, and adds iniquity to sin.

The godly redeems his time.
The ungodly trifles away his time.

The godly studies his duty in obedience to all God's precepts.
The ungodly shakes himself loose from every command of God.

The godly forgives his foes.
The ungodly lays a snare for his foes.

The godly commits it to God to avenge his wrong.
The ungodly, fiery and tumultuous—seeks revenge.

The godly loves chastity in all things.
The ungodly wallows in uncleanness.

The godly is content with his condition.
The ungodly covets all the day long.

The godly is pure in heart. The heart of the
ungodly is like a cage full of unclean birds.

The godly walks at liberty in the ways of God.
The ungodly is the servant and slave of sin.

The Holy Spirit rules in the heart of the godly.
Satan rules in the heart of the ungodly.

The godly has his conversation in heaven.
The ungodly has his conversation in hell.

As there is such a wide difference in their principles
and practices—so also, in their eternal destinies.
God is faithful—He has promised felicity to the pious,
and threatened vengeance to the wicked. "The wicked
is thrust out in his wickedness; but the righteous has
hope in his death." Proverbs 14:32

The godly are under the blessing of God's love.
The ungodly are under the curse of God's law.

Dancing to destruction!

(James Meikle, "The Traveler" 1730-1799)

How should I hate sin, when I see . . .
  how guilty it makes the soul,
  how it debases even unto hell,
  how the longer the captive lies in its chains—the
    fetters grow stronger, and the captive weaker;
  how it kindles hell,
  how scatters brimstone over the body,
  how makes the language of the pit spew from the tongue,
  how makes its victims restless in its pursuit!

In a word, sin . . .
  despises divine things,
  proclaims rebellion against Heaven,
  and wages war against God!

Sin is that poison that makes a man go laughing
to death—and dancing to destruction! Then,
let my soul weep in secret places for those who
cannot pity themselves, nor show compassion
on their own souls, but . . .
  live in a dream,
  die in darkness, and
  plunge into despair!


The shining heap

(James Meikle, "A Periodic Interview with
the King of Terrors" June 6, 1775)

A deceased person has left immense riches to a
near friend. Some envy, others wonder—and all
talk of it. But what can the bequeathed wealth do
for the survivor? Alas! the shining heap cannot . . .
  procure health,
  banish sickness,
  give peace of mind,
  secure against anguish and disquiet,
  defend against the wrinkles of old age,
  bribe devouring death!

What advantage then, shall the obtaining of this
vast wealth do to the possessor—who also in a little
while must be stripped of all by death? How happy,
then, to have my treasure laid up in heaven! For
death, instead of tearing me from my possession
like the men of the world—shall bring me to the
full enjoyment of my everlasting all!

I cannot always live—but must at some period die.
He is in a melancholy case—whom the prospect of
death makes melancholy. But thrice happy he who
rejoices in view of death. What are . . .
—in the hour of death, in the day of eternity?

Again, what are . . .
—in the hour of death, in the day of eternity?

Then, whenever the vanities or vexations of time
swell and appear big in my eyes, I will look to the
hour of death, to the day of eternity—and see
them decrease and forever disappear!

Lawful recreations

(James Meikle, "A Periodic Interview with
the King of Terrors" March 3, 1778)

Time is one of the talents put into every man's hand,
and is more precious than we are well aware of.

To prepare for death, and to improve for eternity—may
well employ our time though ever so long. O! then, how
may my heart weep to think how much precious time
I have trifled away!
O to be wise in all time coming!

Lawful recreations are allowed by God. But in this,
how soon may we go beyond what is lawful! Too much
pleasure in them, too much time spent about them—
spoils all. When our amusements become a part of
our employment, or call us away from something more
necessary or noble—it is high time to drop them altogether!

Glued to the world

(James Meikle, "A Periodic Interview
 with the King of Terrors" May 1, 1771)

"God disciplines us for our good, that we may
 share in his holiness." Hebrews 12:10 (NIV)

It is common to complain of the troubles of life; yet
they are kindly designed to loosen our affections from
the world. If our life were all clear sunshine, without
care or confusion, jar or contention, disappointment
or pain—how would we be glued to the world, and
cemented to the things of time—since amidst all the
disasters which occur, we are still so attached to the
transitory things!

I am growing worse every day!

(Archibald Alexander, "Growth in Grace" 1844)

One of the best evidences of growth in grace, is a
clearer and deeper insight into the evils of your own
heart. But your first conclusion is apt to be—"I am
growing worse every day!
I see innumerable
evils springing up within me which I never saw

This person may be compared to one shut up in
a dark room where he is surrounded by many
loathsome objects. If a single ray of light is let
into the room, he sees the more prominent objects.
And if the light gradually increases, he sees more
and more of the filth by which he has been
surrounded. It was there before—but he
did not perceive it.
His increased knowledge
of the fact is a sure evidence of increasing light.

The most learned and profound theologian

(Archibald Alexander, "Growth in Grace" 1844)

It is not the theologian, who is most likely to receive
the right impression from the study of Scripture—but
the humble, simple-hearted, contemplative Christian.

The most learned and profound theologian must
learn to sit at the feet of Jesus in the spirit of a child,
or he are not likely to be edified by his studies.

An unfavorable soil for the growth of piety

(Archibald Alexander, "The spiritual warfare")

Worldly prosperity has ever been found to be an
unfavorable soil for the growth of piety
. It . . .
  blinds the mind to spiritual and eternal things,
  dries up the spirit of prayer,
  fosters pride and ambition,
  furnishes the appropriate food to covetousness,
  leads to a sinful conformity to the spirit, maxims,
     and fashions of the world.

Very few have been enabled to pass this 'ordeal' without
serious injury, and have come forth like the three children
from Nebuchadnezzar's furnace—without the smell of fire
on their garments; but this could not have been unless
the Son of Man had been with them! Such people use
all their health, influence, and wealth in promoting the
kingdom of Christ.

But generally, God in mercy refuses to give worldly
prosperity to His children. He has "chosen the poor
of this world, to be rich in faith"—that is, He has
commonly chosen poverty as the safest condition
for His children.
His are "an afflicted and poor people
—who trust in the name of the Lord." Zephaniah 3:12

"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and
 by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith
 and pierced themselves with many pains. Now you,
 man of God, run from these things
; but pursue
 righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and
 gentleness." 1 Timothy 6:10-11

Enchanting trifles

(James Meikle, "Converse with the Unseen World")

Never shall I attain to happiness, while I seek it in
the creature, or expect it outside of heaven! O how
little concern should I have with the things of time,
who am so far on my journey towards eternity!

When the world gets into the affections, there
is nothing but tumult and disorder there; this I have
long found. But when heaven dwells within, the
heart becomes a little heaven, and all is peace and
serenity, composure and joy. O! then, to keep the
heart barred against enchanting trifles, and to
live above everything below. At the hour of death,
I shall make my triumphant entry into the New
Jerusalem, and from the walls of the holy city
I shall bid defiance to all . . .
  the cares of life,
  the pleasures of sense,
  my indwelling corruptions,
  and the legions of hell.

A noble indifference

(James Meikle, "Converse with the Unseen World")

The brevity of time, and the near approach of
eternity—give to the rightly-exercised soul a
noble indifference
about everything here
on earth.

What does it matter whether I dwell in a palace
or a prison—since it is but for a day, an hour, a
moment! What disappointment should grieve
me in time—if I shall possess God for eternity?

I look around me, and see multitudes eager on
the chase, keen in the pursuit of created vanities,
forgetful that this world is passing away. I look
forward to the invisible world, and see multitudes
in their eternal state, astonished at the stupidity
men—that the 'trifles of time' should preponderate
so much with them. I also find myself in the
deluded throng of triflers, and condemn my
own vain conduct.

An hundred years ago, the earth was filled with
inhabitants, who are now in eternity. They then
straggled along the road of human life with care
and concern, with burdens and bitterness—but
now are forever at their journey's end.

I am now traveling the thorny path, and shall
also shortly arrive at my eternal home. The
interim is so short, that nothing that can befall
me should either give much pain or pleasure.
I am on the wing to the celestial paradise, and
no blasts in my face shall hinder my flight to
the city of God!

The brevity of time may be bitter to the sinner,
because torment and eternity seize him in the
same moment! But it must afford me joy, for
the shorter my time, the nearer to my endless
felicity! All the complicated afflictions of time
must disappear when time is no more. Why,
then, take deep concern, or heavy sorrow; or
much joy, or lasting delight—at the ill or good
of the few flying moments on our journey to
eternity? My soul is immortal, and God is eternal.
Therefore in God below, and in God above, in
God in time, and in God in eternity—shall my
soul find boundless pleasures and unfading bliss!

Let me leave you, and fly into His arms!

(James Meikle, "Converse with the Unseen World")

Where, dear angels—where do you carry my soul—which just left its dying body? "Commissioned from your Father's throne, we come to carry you safely into His immediate presence."

What dismal howling is that I hear behind us? "It is the last yells of hell's old lion, at your safe escape."

Ah! where am I now? What wonders rise around me! What fragrance meets me from the mountains of myrrh, from the hills of frankincense! I hear the voice of my Beloved! Sacred guardians—let me leave you, and fly into His arms!

Am I the one who lately lay tumbling and tossing on a deathbed—who now walks in beds of roses, and on banks of bliss? Am I the one who a little while ago, had weeping friends around his bed—who now am surrounded with angelic song, entranced with heavenly harmony, and ravished with delights? Am I the one who lately lay struggling with the pangs, and trembling at the approach of death—who now am above the reach of fear, and stroke of death?

But, O Majesty of heaven! I blush at my very entrance into Your courts—that I have been such a stranger here. What precious time have I wasted on toys and trifles, and despised the joy of angels and the work of heaven! Where are all the things of time now, which could once challenge God, for the possession of my heart? Why did not Your glorious being feast my meditations? Why did not Your love attract, constrain mine? Why did not the joys of heaven drown the fleeting joys, and dissipate the imaginary sorrows of the world? Why did I prostitute the temple of my soul to the idols of time? Why did I permit the world and self a place in that temple which the Godhead is to inhabit forever?

There are none before the throne but supreme lovers of God—a name I dare not claim; then, let me retire to the outmost confines of the land of bliss, as unworthy to be nearer. Ah! no! At your throne I will dwell forever, and glow in ardors, and dissolve in love! And the sacred spark, which sin and Satan, the world and self, smothered while below—shall burn a flame intense and strong through everlasting day!

The death of my dear wife

(James Meikle , "A Periodic Interview with the
 King of Terrors" November 6, 1781. Meikle
 was a surgeon. His wife died on October 14.)

Two weeks ago I took off a poor patient's leg,
with a view to preserve life and recover health.
The operation was painful and much dreaded,
but now seeming to do well, is approved of.

Infinite wisdom, then, in the death of my
dear wife
, has noble ends in view—
  to wean me from the world,
  to loosen my affections from the creature,
  to preserve the graces in my soul alive,
  to prepare me for death,
  to ripen me for glory.

O! then, as I am walking on the brink of eternity
—may my meditation soar toward eternal things,
and may my latter end never be out of my mind.

Lawful pursuits

(Archibald Alexander, "Thoughts on Religious Experience")

Lawful pursuits are more frequently a snare than those
which are manifestly sinful. It is a duty "to provide things
honest in the sight of all men"—but while this object is
industriously pursued, the love of the world gradually
gains ground. The possession of wealth is then viewed
as important. Eternal things fade out of view, or viewed
as at a great distance, and the impression from them is
faint. Worldly entanglements are experienced; the
spiritual life is weakened; a sickly state commences;
and a sad declension ensues!

Alas! What a forlorn state he is now in! Where is the burning
zeal with which he commenced his course? Where now are the
comforts of piety, with which he was so entirely satisfied, that
the world was viewed as an empty bauble? Where now is his
spirit of prayer, which made this duty his delight? Where now
is his love of the Bible, which drew him aside often from worldly
business to peruse its sacred instructions? O! what a change!

Reader, it is perhaps your own case. "You are the man!" who
has thus fallen, and left your first love. "Repent, therefore, and
do the first works!"—lest some heavy judgment fall upon you!

God holds a rod for His own children, and when the warnings
and exhortations of the Word, and the secret whispers of the
Spirit are neglected, some painful providence is sent—some
calamity, which has so much natural connection with the sin,
as to indicate that it is intended as a chastisement for it.

These strokes are often very cutting and severe—but they
must be so to render them effectual
. "God disciplines us
for our good, that we may share in His holiness. No discipline
seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however,
it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those
who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:10-11

It quenches the thirst of the soul

(Horatius Bonar, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ")

"My blood is the true drink!" John 6:55

The blood of the Lamb contains the true drink for the
soul. It quenches the thirst of the soul—the thirst
of parching produced by an evil conscience and a sense
of wrath. It removes the wrath and the sense of wrath,
by showing us that wrath transferred to the Substitute.

It relieves the conscience when first we come into
contact with it; and it keeps it relieved from day
to day, as we drink it by faith.

It is 'the true drink.'

It calms!

It revives!

It refreshes!

It soothes!

It is like cold water to the thirsty lips under a
scorching sun. Nothing but the blood can allay
this thirst; nothing else can be . . .
  drink for the soul,
  drink for the intellect,
  drink for the conscience,
  drink for the heart!

The secret of true happiness

(Harvey Newcomb, "The Young Lady's Guide to the
Harmonious Development of Christian Character" 1843)

The secret of true happiness lies in a cordial acquiescence in the will of God. It is sweet to lie passive in His hand—and know no will but His!

The doctrine of a 'particular providence' is precious to the Christian's heart. It enables him to see the hand of God in every event. Hence the sinfulness of a repining, discontented, unsubmissive temper. It is difficult to reconcile the habitual indulgence of such a sinful disposition—with the existence of grace in the heart. The first emotion of the new-born soul is submission to the will of God.

We are prone to lose sight of the 'hand of God' in the little difficulties and perplexities which are of every-day occurrence, and to look only at 'second causes'. We often do the same, in more important matters. When we are injured or insulted by others, we are disposed to murmur and complain, and give vent to our indignation against the immediate causes of our distress; forgetting that these are only the 'instruments which God employs' for the trial of our faith, or the punishment of our sins.

In this doctrine of the secret agency of divine Providence, we have the strongest motive for a hearty and cheerful resignation to all the troubles and difficulties, trials and afflictions, which come upon us in this life—whatever may be their immediate cause. We know that they are directed by our heavenly Father, whose "tender mercies are over all His works," and who "does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men."

Whatever may be our afflictions, so long as we are out of hell, we are monuments of His mercy. "Why does a living man complain—a man for the punishment of his sins?"

We are assured "that all things work together for good, to those who love God." The afflictions of this life, are the faithful corrections of a kind and tender Father. "For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and He scourges every son whom He receives." How consoling the reflection—that all our sufferings are designed to mortify and subdue our corruptions, to wean us from the world, and lead us to a more humble and constant sense of dependence upon God! How ungrateful for a child of God to repine at the dealings of such a tender and faithful Father!

God will give us all that He sees is best for us. And surely we ought to be satisfied with this; for He who sees the end from the beginning, must know much better than we—what is for our good. It is our duty to maintain a contented and cheerful spirit in every situation of life. If God directs all our ways, and has promised to give us just what He sees we need, we surely ought to rest satisfied with what we have; for we know it is just what the Lord, in His infinite wisdom and unbounded goodness—sees fit to give us.