Grace Gems for AUGUST 2006

That white devil!

(Thomas Brooks, "The Privy Key of Heaven" 1665)

While the disciples were healing diseases and casting
out demons, the proud white devil was a-stirring in
their own souls; as is evident by that gentle rebuke
which our Savior gives them in Luke 10:20, "Don't
rejoice that the spirits submit to you."

There is no pious duty which a Christian performs, but
one white devil or another—one lust or another—will be
still dogging and following of him to that duty. There is
no public duty, there is no family duty, there is no private
duty which a Christian performs—but either that white
pride, or that white devil hypocrisy, or that white
devil vainglory; or else some one or another white devil
will follow the soul, near at heel to it.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

It would make him pull his hat over his eyes!

(Thomas Brooks, "The Privy Key of Heaven" 1665)

All Christians have their secret sins. Secret not only
from other men—but from himself! It is but natural for
every man to err, and then to be ignorant of his errors.
Every man's sins are beyond his understanding. There
is not the best, the wisest, nor the holiest man in the
world—who can give a full and entire list of his sins.

"Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from
 secret faults." Psalm 19:12

"Who can understand his errors?" This interrogation has
the force of an affirmation: "Who can?" No man! No, not
the most perfect and innocent man in the world!

O friends! who can reckon up . . .
  the secret sinful imaginations,
  the secret sinful inclinations,
  the secret pride,
  the secret blasphemies,
  the secret hypocrisies,
  the secret atheistical risings,
  the secret murmurings,
  the secret repinings,
  the secret discontents,
  the secret insolencies,
  the secret filthinesses,
  the secret unbelievings,
which God might every day charge upon his soul?

Should the best and holiest man on earth have but
his secret sins written on his forehead, it would not
only put him to a crimson blush—but it would
make him pull his hat over his eyes
, or cover
his face with a double scarf!

"Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from
 secret faults." Psalm 19:12

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The constant cry of the rod

(Thomas Brooks, "The Privy Key of Heaven" 1665)

One lesson that you are to learn by the rod of affliction,
is to get more weaned and more mortified affections to
all worldly comforts, contentments, and enjoyments.

A man never comes to experience so much of . . .
  the emptiness,
  the nothingness,
  the uselessness,
  the vanity,
  the mutability,
  the impotency,
  the insufficiency,
  the uncertainty
of all worldly comforts and enjoyments—as when he falls
under the rod of affliction. The constant cry of the rod
is, "Be dead to the profits, pleasures, honors, and applauses
of the world! Be dead to everything below a living Jesus!"

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

He was still a-pointing at the toads in their bosoms

(Thomas Brooks, "The Privy Key of Heaven" 1665)

How shall we find out that particular sin, for which God
corrects us—for which He has brought the rod upon us?

Seriously observe what that sin is, which your soul would
have spared above all, which your soul is most unwilling
to leave, and bid an everlasting farewell to. Observe what
your right-hand sin, your bosom sin, your constitutional
sin, your complexion sin, is; for it is a hundred to one that
God has sent the rod for the subduing of that very sin!
Commonly by the rod, God points at the mortifying of that
particular sin to which the heart stands most strongly inclined.

It may be that sin which you cannot endure should be touched,
or reproved, or spoken against. Ah! how proud, how impatient,
how passionate, how mad are many—when you come to touch
their right-eye sin! When you come to touch them in the
tender part, oh! then they fume, and swell, and rage,
and carry on like people out of their wits; as you may see in
the scribes and pharisees, who were so angry and mad with
Christ that they sought His death; and all because He was
still a-pointing at the toads in their bosoms
; namely,
pride, vainglory, hypocrisy, and self-righteousness. Oh! they
could not endure that the sharp razor of reproof should come
near their sorest part!

Certainly that Christian must be under a very bad distemper,
who smites a righteous man with reproach—for smiting him
with a reproof. Though gracious reproofs are a choice
, yet few stomachs can bear them. Who is angry
with the physician for prescribing a bitter medicine? And
yet, ah! how angry are many Christians when they fall under
holy reproofs. Now, doubtless, the voice of the rod is this,
"Soul! take heed of that sin which you cannot endure
should be touched
. Labor mightily with God to get that
particular sin mortified—which you cannot endure should
be reproved." It is very probable that, for the subduing
of that particular sin, the Lord has visited you with His
fatherly rod.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

He awoke with everlasting flames about his ears!

(Thomas Brooks, "The Transcendent Excellency of
 a Believer's Portion above All Earthly Portions")

Earthly riches commonly load the soul with a multitude of
cares, fears, griefs, and vexations—which mightily disturb
the soul, distract the soul; yes, often rack, torture, and
torment the soul.

Earthly riches, for the most part, do a world of mischief
and hurt to their owners. Oh the souls which earthly riches
have pierced through and through with many sorrows!
Oh the minds which earthly riches have blinded!
Oh the hearts which earthly riches have hardened!
Oh the consciences which earthly riches have benumbed!
Oh the wills which earthly riches have perverted!
Oh the affections which earthly riches have disordered!
Oh the lives which earthly riches have corrupted!

Oh the time, the thoughts, the strength, the energy—which
rich men spend and consume upon their riches—while their
precious souls lie a-bleeding to death, and an eternity of
misery is hastening upon them!

Dives was so taken up with his riches, pomp, state, and
with his royal apparel, royal attendance, and royal fare—
that he never minded heaven, nor ever dreaded hell—until
he awoke with everlasting flames about his ears!

When the bodies of the wicked are rotting in their graves,
and their souls are roaring in hell, none of their worldly
greatness, pomp, state, glory, gallantry, riches, houses,
or revenues, shall descend after them to administer one
drop of comfort to them! Therefore never envy their
outward prosperity or worldly glory.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

What should move God to love us?

(Thomas Brooks, "The Transcendent Excellency of
a Believer's Portion above All Earthly Portions

The free favor and love of God, the good will and pleasure
of God—is the true ground and cause of God's bestowing of
Himself as a portion upon His people. There was no cause,
nor loveliness, nor desirableness in them—which could
move God to bestow Himself upon them.

God, for the glory of His own free grace and love, has bestowed
Himself as a portion upon those who have deserved to have their
portion among devils and damned spirits—in those torments
which are endless, ceaseless, and remediless.

But what should move God to love us, who were so unworthy,
so filthy, so empty, so beggarly? The question may be resolved
in these words—He loves us because He loves us. The root
of all divine love to us, lies only in the bosom of God.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Not the doll nor the rattle

(Thomas Brooks, "The Transcendent Excellency of
 a Believer's Portion above All Earthly Portions")

"The one who loves money is never satisfied with
 money, and whoever loves wealth is never satisfied
 with income. This too is futile." Ecclesiastes 5:10

Worldly portions can never satisfy the souls of men.

Absalom's beauty could not satisfy him.

Haman's honor could not satisfy him.

Ahab's kingdom could not satisfy him.

Balaam's gold could not satisfy him.

Ahithophel's wisdom could not satisfy him.

The pharisees' learning could not satisfy them.

Dives's riches could not satisfy him.  

All the world cannot fill the soul; nor can all the
creatures in the world fill up the soul with complete
satisfaction. Nothing can be the satisfaction of the
soul—but He who made it.

All earthly portions are dissatisfying portions. They
do but vex and fret, gall and grieve, tear and torment
—the souls of men. The world is a circle, and the heart
of man is a triangle—and no triangle can fill a circle.
Some good or other will be always lacking to that man
who has only outward good to live upon.

The soul can never be at rest, until it comes to rest and
center in God. God Himself is the soul's only home. No
good but the chief Good, can suffice an immortal soul.

It is the breast—and not the doll nor the rattle—which
will satisfy the hungry babe. And it is God, and not this
or that creature—which will satisfy the soul of man.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The funeral

(Thomas Brooks, "The Transcendent Excellency of
 a Believer's Portion above All Earthly Portions")

A Christian knows that death shall be the funeral of all . . .
  his sins,
  his sorrows,
  his afflictions,
  his temptations,
  his vexations,
  his oppressions,
  his persecutions.

He knows that death shall be the resurrection of all . . .
  his hopes,
  his joys,
  his delights,
  his comforts,
  his contentments.

He knows that death shall bring him to a more clear,
full, perfect, and constant enjoyment of God! This
makes him sweetly and triumphantly to sing it out,
"O death! where is your sting? O grave! where is
your victory?" 1 Corinthians 15:35-37

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Every twig has a voice!

Thomas Brooks)

"Pay attention to the rod and the One who
 ordained it."
Micah 6:9

Christians should hear the rod, and kiss the rod, and
sit mute and silent under God's rod.

Christians should be mute and silent under the greatest
afflictions, the saddest providences, and sharpest trials
which they meet with in this world, that they may the
better hear and understand the voice of God's rod.

As the word has a voice, the Spirit a voice, and
a voice—so God's rod has a voice.

God's rods are not mutes. They are all vocal, they are all
speaking as well as smiting. Every twig has a voice!

'Ah! soul,' says one twig, 'you say it smarts. Well! tell
me, is it good to  provoke a jealous God?' Jerem. 4:18.

'Ah! soul,' says another twig, 'you say it is bitter, it
reaches to your heart; but have not your own doings
procured these things?' Rom. 6:20, 21.

'Ah! soul,' says another twig, 'where is the profit,
the pleasure, the sweet that you have found in
wandering from God?' Hosea 2:7.

'Ah! soul,' says another twig, 'was it not best with
you, when you were high in your communion with
God, and when you were humble and close in your
walking with God?' Micah 6:8.

'Ah! Christian,' says another twig, 'will you search
your heart, and try your ways, and turn to the Lord
your God?' Lam. 3:40.

'Ah! soul,' says another twig, 'will you die to sin more
than ever, and to the world more than ever, and to
relations more than ever, and to yourself more than
ever?' Rom. 14:6-8; Gal. 6:18.

'Ah! soul,' says another twig, 'will you live more to
Christ than ever, and cleave closer to Christ than
ever, and prize Christ more than ever, and venture
further for Christ than ever?'

'Ah! soul,' says another twig, 'will you love Christ
with a more inflamed love, and hope in Christ with
a more raised hope, and depend upon Christ with
a greater confidence, and wait upon Christ with
more invincible patience?'

Now, if the soul is not mute and silent under the rod,
how is it possible that it should ever hear the voice of
God's rod, or that it should ever hearken to the voice
of every twig of God's rod?

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Then the scum appears!

("The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod"
 or, "The Silent Soul with Sovereign Antidotes"
 by Thomas Brooks, 1659, London.)

Few Christians see themselves and understand
themselves rightfully. By trials, God discovers
much of a man's sinful self to his pious self.

When the fire is put under the pot—then the
scum appears
; so when God tries a poor soul,
Oh! how does . . .
  the scum of pride,
  the scum of murmuring,
  the scum of distrust,
  the scum of impatience,
  the scum of worldliness,
  the scum of carnality,
  the scum of foolishness,
  the scum of willfulness—
discover itself in the heart of the poor creature!

Trials are God's looking-glass, in which
His people see their own faults. Oh! . . .
  that looseness,
  that vileness,
  that wretchedness,
  that sink of filthiness,
  that gulf of wickedness,
which trials show to be in their hearts!

"I have tested you in the furnace of affliction."
     Isaiah 48:10

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

What a pitiful perishing portion is that!

(Thomas Brooks, "The Transcendent Excellency of
 a Believer's Portion above All Earthly Portions")

"Men of the world, whose portion is in this life."
    Psalm 17:14

Certainly, men . . .
  whose hearts are worldly,
  whose minds are worldly,
  whose spirits are worldly,
  whose desires are worldly,
  whose hopes are worldly,
  whose main ends are worldly—
have only the world for their portion; and what a
pitiful perishing portion is that!
Such men . . .
  choose the world as their portion, and
  delight in the world as their portion, and
  trust to the world as their portion, and
  in straits run to the world as their portion, and
  take contentment and satisfaction in the world
as their portion.

Doubtless that word was a thunderbolt to Dives—
"Remember that during your life you received your
good things, just as Lazarus received bad things; but
now he is comforted here, while you are in agony!"

Wicked men have their best here, their worst is to come.

They have their comforts here, their torments are to come.

They have their joys here, their sorrows are to come.

They have their heaven here, their hell is to come.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Without a rag on his back, or a penny in his purse!

(Thomas Brooks, "An Ark for All God's Noahs" 1662)

"The Lord is my portion, says my soul; therefore
 I will hope in Him." Lamentations 3:24

Lazarus having God for his portion, when he died he went
to heaven without a rag on his back, or a penny in his
Whereas Dives, who did not have God for his portion
when he died—went tumbling down to hell in all his riches,
bravery, and glory. Oh! it is infinitely better to go to heaven
a beggar—than to go to hell an emperor!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Father knows best!

("The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod"
 or, "The Silent Soul with Sovereign Antidotes"
 by Thomas Brooks, 1659, London.)

"Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they
 thought best; but God disciplines us for our good,
 that we may share in His holiness." Hebrews 12:10.

What God, our Father wills, is best.

When He wills sickness, sickness in better than health.
When He wills weakness, weakness is better than strength.
When He wills want, want is better than wealth.
When He wills reproach, reproach is better than honor.
When He wills death, death is better than life.

As God is wisdom itself, and so knows that which is
best; so He is goodness itself, and therefore cannot
do anything but that which is best—therefore remain
silent before the Lord.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

When He shows no anger!

("The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod"
 or, "The Silent Soul with Sovereign Antidotes"
 by Thomas Brooks, 1659, London.)

"The Lord disciplines the one He loves, and
punishes every son whom He receives." Heb. 12:6

There cannot be a greater evidence of God's
hatred and wrath—than His refusing to correct
men for their sinful courses and vanities!

Where God refuses to correct—there God resolves
to destroy! There is no man so near God's axe—so
near the flames—so near hell—as he whom God
will not so much as spend a rod upon!

"Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline."
 Revelation 3:19

God is most angry—when He shows no anger!

Who can seriously meditate upon this, and not
be silent under God's most smarting rod?

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

You have been long a-gathering rust

("The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod"
 or, "The Silent Soul with Sovereign Antidotes"
 by Thomas Brooks, 1659, London.)

Oh! but my afflictions are greater than other
men's afflictions are! Oh! there is no affliction
like my affliction!
How can I not murmur?

It may be your sins are greater than other men's
sins. If you have sinned against . . .
  more light,
  more love,
  more mercies,
  more promises,
than others—no wonder if your afflictions are
greater than others! If this be your case, you
have more cause to be mute than to murmur!

It may be that the Lord sees that it is very needful
that your afflictions should be greater than others.

It may be your heart is harder than other men's
hearts, and prouder and stouter than other men's
hearts, it may be your heart is more impure than
others, and more carnal than others, or else more
selfish and more worldly than others, or else more
deceitful and more hypocritical than others, or
else more cold and careless than others, or more
formal and lukewarm than others.

Now, if this is your case, certainly God sees
it very necessary, for . . .
  the breaking of your hard heart, and
  the humbling of your proud heart, and
  the cleansing of your foul heart, and
  the spiritualizing of your carnal heart, etc.,
that your afflictions should be greater than
others; and therefore do not murmur!

Where the disease is strong, the remedy must
be strong—else the cure will never be wrought!
God is a wise physician, and He would never
give strong medicine—if a weaker one could
effect the cure!

The more rusty the NAIL is, the oftener we put it
into the fire to purify it; and the more crooked it
is, the more blows and the harder blows we give
to straighten it.

You have been long a-gathering rust; and
therefore, if God deal thus with you, you have
no cause to complain.

"For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and
 punishes every son whom He receives."
Heb. 12:6

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

If you attempt to enthrone the creature!

("The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod"
 or, "The Silent Soul with Sovereign Antidotes"
 by Thomas Brooks, 1659, London.)

O Christian! God has removed one of your sweetest mercies,
comforts, or enjoyments! It may be you have over-loved them,
and over-prized them, and over-much delighted yourself in
them. It may be they have often had your heart—when they
should have had but your hand. It may be that care, that
concern, that confidence, that joy—which should have been
expended upon more noble objects—has been expended
upon them!

Your heart is Christ's bed of spices—and it may be
you have bedded your mercies with you—when Christ
has been made to lie outside! You have had room for
them—when you have had none for Him! They have
had the best—when the worst have been counted good
enough for Christ!

It is said of Reuben, that he went up to his father's bed,
Gen. 49:4. Ah! how often has one creature comfort, and
sometimes another—been put in between Christ and
your souls! How often have your dear enjoyments gone
up to Christ's bed! Your near and dear mercies have
come into Christ's bed of love—your hearts!

Now, if you take a husband, a child, a friend—into that
room in your soul
which only belongs to God—He will
either embitter it, remove it, or be the death of it.

If once the love of a wife runs out more to a servant, than
to her husband—the husband will remove that servant;
though otherwise he was a servant worth gold.

Now, if God has stripped you of that very mercy with which
you have often committed spiritual adultery and idolatry—
have you any cause to murmur?

There are those who love their mercies into their graves—
who hug their mercies to death—who kiss them until they
kill them! Many a man has slain his mercies—by setting too
great a value upon them! Many a man has sunk his ship of
by overloading it. Over-loved mercies are seldom
long-lived. The way to lose your mercies is to indulge them!
The way to destroy them is to fix your minds and hearts
upon them. You may write bitterness and death upon that
mercy first—which has first taken away your heart from God.

Christian! Your heart is Christ's royal throne, and in this
throne Christ will be chief! He will endure no competitor!
If you attempt to enthrone the creature—be it ever
so near and dear unto you—Christ will dethrone it! He
will destroy it! He will quickly lay them in a bed of dust
—who shall aspire to His royal throne!

"This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am about to desecrate
my sanctuary—the stronghold in which you take pride, the delight
of your eyes, the object of your affection
. The sons and
daughters you left behind will fall by the sword!" Ezekiel 24:21

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

You are the one who has done this!

("The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod"
 or, "The Silent Soul with Sovereign Antidotes"
 by Thomas Brooks, 1659, London.)

"I was silent; I would not open my mouth, for You
 are the one who has done this!
" Psalm 39:9

In the words you may observe three things:

1. The person speaking, and that is, David. David
a king, David a saint, David 'a man after God's own
heart,' David a Christian. And here we are to look
upon David, not as a king, but as a Christian, as a
man whose heart was right with God.

2. The action and carriage of David under the hand
of God, in these words—'I was silent; I would not
open my mouth.'

3. The reason of this humble and sweet carriage
of his, in these words—'for You are the one who
has done this!'

The proposition is this: That it is the great duty and
concern of gracious souls to be mute and silent under
the greatest afflictions, the saddest providences, and
sharpest trials that they meet with in this world.

David's silence is an acknowledgment of God as the
author of all the afflictions that come upon us. There
is no sickness so little, but God has a finger in it;
though it be but the aching of the little finger.

David looks through all secondary causes to the first
cause, and is silent. He sees a hand of God in all, and
so sits mute and quiet. The sight of God in an affliction
is of an irresistible efficacy to silence the heart, and to
stop the mouth of a godly man.

Men who don't see God in an affliction, are easily
cast into a feverish fit, they will quickly be in a flame;
and when their passions are up, and their hearts on
fire, they will begin to be saucy, and make no bones of
telling God to His teeth, that they do well to be angry.
Such as will not acknowledge God to be the author of
all their afflictions, will be ready enough to fall in with
that mad principle of the Manichees, who maintained
the devil to be the author of all calamities; as if there
could be any evil or affliction in the city, and the Lord
have no hand in it, Amos 3:6.

If God's hand be not seen in the affliction, the heart
will do nothing but fret and rage under affliction.

Such as can see the ordering hand of God in all their
afflictions, will, with David, lay their hands upon their
mouths, when the rod of God is upon their backs!

They see that it was a Father that put those bitter cups
in their hands; and love that laid those heavy crosses
upon their shoulders; and grace that put those yokes
around their necks—and this caused much quietness
and calmness in their spirits.

When God's people are under the rod, He makes by His
Spirit and word, such sweet music in their souls, as allays
all tumultuous motions, passions, and perturbations.

"I was silent; I would not open my mouth, for You
 are the one who has done this!
" Psalm 39:9

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

All honey would harm us

("The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod"
 or, "The Silent Soul with Sovereign Antidotes"
 by Thomas Brooks, 1659, London.)

"Weeping may endure for a night—but
 joy comes in the morning." Psalm 30:5

Their mourning shall last but until morning.

God will turn . . .
  their winter's night into a summer's day,
  their sighing into singing,
  their grief into gladness,
  their mourning into music,
  their bitter into sweet,
  their wilderness into a paradise.

The life of a Christian is filled up with interchanges of
  sickness and health,
  weakness and strength,
  want and wealth,
  disgrace and honor,
  crosses and comforts,
  miseries and mercies,
  joys and sorrows,
  mirth and mourning.

All honey would harm us; all wormwood would undo
us—a composition of both is the best way to keep our
souls in a healthy constitution. It is best and most for
the health of the soul—that the warm south wind of
, and the cold north wind of adversity—do both
blow upon it. And though every wind which blows,
shall blow good to the saints; yet certainly their sins
die most
, and their graces thrive best, when they
are under the frigid, drying, nipping north wind of
calamity, as well as under the warm, nourishing south
wind of mercy and prosperity.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The only legitimate purpose of amusement

(William Sprague, "Lectures to Young People")

If you will accomplish the greatest amount of good
in your life—so far as is possible, the whole of your
time should be occupied in doing good.

I would not be surprised, if the query should arise in
some of your minds, whether this is indeed possible;
and whether it is not necessary, from the very
constitution of our nature, that part of our time
should be devoted to amusement?

I answer, the constitution of our nature does require an
occasional cessation from severe labor, and an occasional
change of employment. But it does not require that it
should be a change from what is useful—to what is useless
or foolish! On the contrary, the whole purpose—the only
legitimate purpose of amusement
—is answered by a
change from one useful employment to another—an
employment which keeps you still doing good, though
you are doing good in a different way.

If you govern your conduct by this principle, you will
find yourselves blessed with a far higher degree of
activity both of mind and body, and will be far better
fitted for the discharge of your ordinary duties, than
if you should yield yourselves up to absolute inactivity,
or to what ordinarily passes with the world under the
name of amusement—which is usually useless or foolish.

In this way, too, many of your precious moments which
would otherwise be lost—or worse than lost—are improved
to the benefit of your own soul, your fellow-men, and the
glory of God.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The ruling passion

(William Sprague, "Lectures to Young People")

"We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires,
 carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and by
 nature we were children under wrath, as the others were also."
     Ephesians 2:3

In the time of youth, there is a natural relish for worldly pleasure.
Previous to conversion, no doubt the love of pleasure is the ruling
. There is a natural buoyancy of spirits incident to that
period, which usually finds its element, either in scenes of mirthful
diversion, or sensual indulgence.

But whenever the heart comes under the influence of true piety,
it, of course, yields to the dominion of a new set of principles;
and he who was before supremely a lover of pleasure—now
becomes supremely a lover of God.

"For those whose lives are according to the flesh think about
 the things of the flesh; but those whose lives are according
 to the Spirit, about the things of the Spirit." Romans 8:5

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Lord, here I am

(Anne Dutton's Letters on Spiritual Subjects)

"Lord, here I am. I give myself up to You, to be Yours
entirely. I give up everything that You have given me
into Your all-wise, all-gracious, and all-powerful hands!
O Lord, the difficulties I am encompassed with are too
great for my wisdom and strength. But You know no
difficulty. I cast them all upon You. I am oppressed,
O Lord, undertake for me.

And, were everything else gone, give me grace to glorify
You, and to count myself happy—fully, ineffably happy,
in Your great Self as my earthly-portion and eternal all.
I call nothing my own but You, my great God. Do with
me, and all things that concern me, just as You desire."

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The slippery and insidious nature of vice!

(William Sprague, "Lectures to Young People")

"The deceitfulness of sin." Hebrews 3:13

How insidious is sin! From small and almost imperceptible
beginnings, it gradually makes its way, until it reduces the
whole man to its dominion, and brings into captivity every
affection and faculty of the soul. Sin first throws out the bait
of pleasure, and flatters its victim on to forbidden ground;
then it makes him the sport of temptation; and does not
give him over until he is fast bound in the chains of eternal

In its very nature, sin is deceitful; its very element is the
region of false appearances, and lying promises, and fatal
snares. When it addresses itself to the unwary youth, it
puts on a smiling countenance, and makes fair pretensions,
and takes care to conceal its hideous features, until, like a
serpent, it has entwined him with its deadly coils, and
rendered his escape impossible!

You may venture into the path of vice with that most
foolish of all notions—that you shall retreat early enough
to save your soul. Alas, I fear you have not yet learned
the slippery and insidious nature of vice!
As well
might you think to take the deadly viper into your bosom,
and render him harmless by flattering words; or as well
might you drink down the fatal poison, and expect to
stop its progress in your system, when the blood had
curdled at your heart!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

I am not what I once was!

(William Plumer, "Sinners Saved by Unmerited Kindness")

In his old age, when he could no longer see to read, John
Newton heard someone recite this text, "By the grace of
God I am what I am." He remained silent a short time and
then said: "I am not what I ought to be. Ah, how imperfect
and deficient! I am not what I wish to be. I abhor that which
is evil, and I would cleave to that which is good. I am not
what I hope to be. Soon, soon I shall put off mortality,
and with mortality all sin and imperfection.

Though I am not what I ought to be, what I wish to be,
and what I hope to be; yet I can truly say, I am not what
I once was
—a slave to sin and Satan! I can heartily join
with the apostle and acknowledge—By the grace of God I
am what I am!"

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

There is none like Jesus!

(William S. Plumer, "Sinners Saved by Unmerited Kindness")

"What is your Beloved more than another beloved?" Canticles 5:9

Our Beloved alone can do sinners good. His blood alone atones. 
He loved us unto death!

Jesus has at once an almighty arm—and a brother's heart!

None is more exalted—yet none stoops so low!

None is mightier—yet none is more tender! He shall not
break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax.

He is meek and lowly, merciful and mild—at the same
time He is the omnipotent Jehovah!

He enlightens, purifies and comforts the heart!

His word cannot be broken!

His power cannot be resisted!

The law of heavenly kindness is in His heart!

Great is His faithfulness!

His royal titles are . . .
  Wonderful Counselor, 
  Mighty God,
  Everlasting Father,
  Prince of Peace!

To the pious, Jesus is the source of . .  .
  all hope,
  all joy,
  all peace,
  all life,
  all comfort.

Jesus is still as gentle, as kind, as tender as when He . . .
  wept at the grave of Lazarus,
  gave eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame,
  or granted mercy to a wretch hanging by His side.

In Him dwell all excellencies!

He is full of grace and truth!

He takes poor, vile, ignorant, guilty, helpless
sinners—raises them to sonship with God, and
makes them partakers of His holiness!

There is none like Him—no, not one!

He is the chief among ten thousand!

Wherever He is, there is heaven!

There is none like Jesus!

"Yes, He is altogether lovely! This is my Beloved,
 and this is my Friend!" Canticles 5:16

"Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive
 power and wealth and wisdom and strength and
 honor and glory and praise!" Revelation 5:12

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Short-lived, imperfect and unsatisfying

(William Plumer, "Sinners Saved by Unmerited Kindness")

"In Your presence is abundant joy; in Your right hand are
 eternal pleasures! Psalms 16:11

Here on earth—our greatest joys are short-lived, imperfect
and unsatisfying
. Nothing continues in a perpetually happy
state. All is unsettled, and easily marred. In heaven—all is as  
stable as eternity—all is as durable as the throne of God! All
flows from the bounty of an infinite God and Savior.

Here on earth—sorrows beset us in troops. In heaven—
  all sorrows cease;
  sickness, sadness and sighing flee away;
  bereavement never desolates;
  tears never flow;
  tempests never rage;
  temptations never vex;
  poverty, war, and death never enter;
  rust never corrupts;
  thieves never steal;
  weariness and vanity are forever unknown;
  sin never defiles;
  peace reigns unbroken;
  "the wicked cease from troubling,
   and the weary are at rest."

"Well done, good and faithful servant! Enter
 into the joy of your Lord!" Matthew 25:21

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Nothing but the blood of Christ

(Plumer, "Sinners Saved by Unmerited Kindness")

Nothing but the blood of Christ can quench . . .
  the fire of God's wrath,
  the fire of lust, or
  the fiery darts of Satan!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Every man has a heaven and a hell


Every man has a heaven and a hell.

Earth is the ungodly man's heaven; his hell is to come.

The godly have their hell upon earth, when they
are vexed with temptations and afflictions by Satan
and his accomplices; their heaven is above in endless
happiness. If it be ill with me on earth, it is well that
my torment is so short and easy; I cannot be so
unreasonable as to expect two heavens!

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"If we have the kingdom at last—it is no great
matter what we suffer on the way to it." Manton

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"All the sufferings of the believer are not hell;
but they are all the hell he shall suffer." Mason

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~


(William S. Plumer, "The Rock of Our Salvation" 1867)

Although just now somewhat shorn of his power to persecute,
Mohammed, the prophet of Mecca, still practices his sorceries,
maddens the passions of men, holds the cup of carnal delight
to the lips of his besotted worshipers, and endeavors to light
up the horrors of the grave by pointing to a Paradise of sin!

(This apt summary of the Islam religion was written in 1867!)

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

From his mother's womb!

(John Calvin)

"Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the
 time my mother conceived me." Psalm 51:5

David does not confess himself guilty merely of some
one or more sins—but that from his mother's womb
he has brought forth nothing but sin, and by nature
is wholly corrupt, and, as it were, immersed in sin.

"Every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood."
    Genesis 8:21

"We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly
 desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and
 thoughts, and by nature we were children under
, as the others were also." Ephesians 2:3

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

What devils never did

(William S. Plumer, "Sinners Saved by Unmerited Kindness")

"You are the children of your father the Devil, and you love
 to do the evil things he does." John 8:44 

Such is the sad state of man by nature, that he bears a fearful
resemblance to devils. This truth is very abasing to human pride.

Unconverted men are like devils in the sense in which a child
is like a man, or a cub like a lion. All admit that devils have
no holiness. In this unconverted men are precisely like them.
They do not love God's law, or nature, or government. They
are alienated from Him, and opposed to all His attributes and
authority. They do not glorify Him, do not delight in Him, do
not find pleasure in thinking on His name. They choose sin
and death—rather than holiness and life.

Laws, public opinion, and God's providence now restrain
many; but the heart of unrenewed man is as wicked as it
ever was. It hates holiness.

In some things, the ungodly do what devils never did.
They reject mercy and grace, kindly offered to them by
the Lord. Devils never did that! You say—They never had
the opportunity. True, but they never did it. Neither did
they ever laugh at eternity, judgment and damnation.
They have too fearful a sense of the wrath of God to be
able to mock and jest at these most solemn things.

How dreadful is sin! It converts angels into devils, and men
into fiends! There is no unfitness in the arrangement which
God has made for having one great prison-house for all
His incorrigible foes. The very place prepared for the devil
and his angels—will be the final abode of impenitent men!

"Then He will also say to those on the left—Depart from
 Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for
 the Devil and his angels!" Matthew 25:41

How dreadful will hell be!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

A whore's forehead

(Thomas Brooks, "The Privy Key of Heaven" 1665)

"You have a whore's forehead, you refuse to be
 ashamed!" Jeremiah 3:3

"Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No,
 they have no shame at all! They do not even know
 how to blush!" Jeremiah 6:15 

They had sinned away shame, instead of being ashamed of
sin. Continuance in sin had quite banished all sense of sin
and all shame for sin; so that they would not allow nature
to draw her veil of blushing before their great abominations.
How applicable these scriptures are to the present time, I
will leave the prudent reader to judge.

But what does the prophet do, now that they were as bold in
sin, and as shameless as so many harlots; now that they were
grown up to that height of sin and wickedness; now that they
were above all shame and blushing; now that they were grown
so proud, so hardened, so obstinate, so rebellious, so bent on
self—destruction—that no mercies could melt them or allure them,
nor any threatenings or judgments could in any way terrify them
or stop them? The prophet goes into a corner, he retires into the
most secret places, and there he weeps bitterly; there he weeps
as if he were resolved to drown himself in his own tears. "I will
weep in secret because of your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly,
overflowing with tears." Jeremiah 13:17

In the times wherein we live, hell seems to be broken loose,
and men turned into incarnate devils! Soul-damning wickednesses
walk up and down the streets with a whore's forehead, without
the least check or restraint.

Ah, England, England! what pride, luxury, lasciviousness,
licentiousness, wantonness, drunkenness, cruelties, injustice,
oppressions, fornications, adulteries, falsehoods, hypocrisies,
atheisms, horrid blasphemies, and hellish impieties—are now
to be found rampant in the midst of you! Ah, England!
England! how are the Scriptures rejected, God derided,
and wickedness tolerated!

And what is the voice of all these crying abominations—but
every Christian to his closet—every Christian to his closet—and
there weep, with weeping Jeremiah, bitterly—for all these great
abominations whereby God is dishonored openly. Oh weep in
secret for their sins—who openly glory in their sins, which should
be their greatest shame. Oh blush in secret for those who are
past all blushing for their sins; for who knows, but that the
whole land may fare the better for the sakes of a few, who
are mourners in secret?