Grace Gems for January 2007

The year before our eyes

(J. C. Philpot)

"As your days—so shall your strength be."
    Deuteronomy 33:25

The year before our eyes may hold in its bosom
events which may deeply concern and affect us.
We do not know what is to come. What personal
trials, what family trials, what providential trials
may await us—we do not know.

Sickness may attack our bodies,
death enter our families,
difficulties beset our circumstances,
trials and temptations exercise our minds,
snares entangle our feet, and
many dark and gloomy clouds, make our path
one of heaviness and sorrow. Every year hitherto
has brought its trials in its train; and how can we
expect the coming year to be exempt?

If, indeed, we are His, whatever our trials
may be, His grace will be sufficient for us.

He who has delivered, can and will deliver.

And He who has brought us thus far on the road,
who has so borne with our crooked manners in the
wilderness and never yet forsaken us—though we
have so often forsaken Him—will still lead us along;
will still guide and guard us, and be our God, our
Father and our Friend—not only to the end of the
next year, if spared to see it, but the end of our life.

Blessed with His presence, we need fear no evil;
favored with His smile, we need dread no foe;
upheld by His power, we need shrink from no trial;
strengthened by His grace, we need panic at no suffering.

Knowing what we are and have been when left to
ourselves—the slips that we have made, the snares
that we have been entangled in, the shame and sorrow
that we have procured to ourselves—well may we dread
to go forth in the coming year alone. Well may we say,
"If Your Presence does not go with us—do not send us
up from here!" Exodus 33:15

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

You were fitter to be loathed, than loved

(Thomas Boston, "Human Nature in its Fourfold State")

"Remember—that at that time you were without Christ . . .
 having no hope and without God in the world." Eph. 2:12

Call to mind the state you were in formerly. You are no longer
a child of wrath, but an heir of God, and joint heir with Christ!

Remember—that in the day our Lord first took you by the hand,
you were in no better a condition than others. O, what moved
Him to take you
—when He passed by your neighbors? He found
you a child of wrath, even as others—but He did not leave you so.
He came into the common prison, where you lay in fetters, even
as others. From among the multitude of condemned malefactors,
He picked you out, commanded your fetters to be taken off, put
a pardon in your hand, and brought you into the glorious liberty of
the children of God—while He left others in the devil's fetters!

Remember—there was nothing in you to engage Him to love you,
in the day He appeared for your deliverance. You were a child of
wrath, even as others. You were fit for hell, and altogether
unfit for heaven!
Yet the King brought you into His palace. The
King's Son made love to you, a condemned criminal, and espoused
you to Himself—on the day in which you might have been led forth
to execution! "Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight!"

Remember—you were fitter to be loathed, than loved, in that
day. Be amazed and wonder—that when He saw you in your blood,
that He did not look upon you with abhorrence, and pass you by!

Remember—you are decked with borrowed garments. It is His
loveliness which is upon you! It was He who took off your prison
garments, and clothed you with robes of righteousness, garments
of salvation! He took the chains from off your arms, the rope from
around your neck; and put you in such a dress, as you might be
fit for the court of heaven—even to eat at the King's table!

Admire that matchless love which brought you out of the state of
wrath! Christ's love brought your soul from the pit of corruption!
He gave His life for your life. He gave His precious blood to quench
the flames of wrath—which otherwise would have consumed you!
He took you out of the horrible pit, and out of the miry clay. How
was that love, which covered such a multitude of sins! See . . .
  the length of it—reaching from everlasting to everlasting;
  the depth of it—going so low as to deliver you from the lowest hell;
  the height of it—raising you up to sit in heavenly places!

That your soul is not overwhelmed with the wrath of God,
is owing purely to Jesus Christ! That your heart is not filled
with horror and despair, is owing to Him alone! That . . .
  your eyes are not blinded with the smoke of the pit;
  your hands not fettered with chains of darkness;
  your tongue is not broiling in the fire of hell; and
  your feet are not standing in the lake which burns with
fire and brimstone—is owing purely to Jesus Christ!

Walk humbly, as it befits debtors to free grace.

You have no reason to complain of your lot in the world,
whatever it is. Well may you bear the cross for Him—who
bore your curse; has freed you from eternal wrath; and
quenched hell-fire for you!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Go dogs, and eat the garbage!

(Charles Spurgeon, "The Soul Winner")

"So that you may become blameless and pure,
 children of God without fault in a crooked and
 depraved generation, in which you shine like
 stars in the universe." Philippians 2:15

I believe that one reason why the church at this
present moment has so little influence over the world,
is because the world has so much influence over the
church! Nowadays, we hear professors pleading that
they may do this, and do that—that they may live like
worldlings. My sad answer to them, when they crave
this liberty is, "Do it if you dare. It may not cost you
much hurt, for you are so bad already. Your cravings
show how rotten your hearts are. If you are hungering
after such dogs food—go dogs, and eat the garbage!

Worldly amusements are fit food for pretenders and
hypocrites. If you were God's children, you would loathe
the thought of the world's evil joys. Your question would
not be, "How far may we be like the world?" but your cry
would be, "How can we get away from the world? How
can we come out of it?"

"Whatever is true,
 whatever is noble,
 whatever is right,
 whatever is pure,
 whatever is lovely,
 whatever is admirable,
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy
—think about such things." Philippians 4:8

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

How to conquer the world!

(Thomas Brooks, "The Unsearchable Riches of Christ")

Perhaps the world—the smiling world or the frowning world,
the tempting world or the persecuting world—lies as a heavy
stone or burden upon your heart, as it does upon the hearts
of thousands in these days; (witness their attempting anything
to get the favors, honors and riches of this world! Ah! how
many have turned their backs upon God, and Christ, and
truth, etc., to gain the world!) How will you get this
burden off?
Only by exercise of faith.

Many men hear sermons much—and yet remain worldly. They
may pray like angels—and yet live as if there were no heaven
nor hell. They will talk much of heaven—and yet those who are
spiritual and wise, smell their breath to stink strong of earth.
All their endeavors can never cure them of this soul-killing
disease—until faith breaks forth in its glorious actings. A man
may hear sermons and pray many years—and yet remain as
carnal, base, and worldly as ever!
There is no way under
heaven to remove this burden—but the exercise of faith!

"For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is
 the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who
 believes that Jesus is the Son of God." 1 John 5:4-5

Faith presents the world to the soul under all those notions
which the Scripture holds forth the world unto us by. The
Scripture holds forth the world as an impotent thing, as a
thing, as a mutable thing, as a momentary thing.
Now faith comes and sets this home with power upon the
soul—and this takes the soul off from the world.

Faith causes the soul to converse with those more glorious,
soul-satisfying, soul-delighting, and soul-contenting objects.
Now when faith is busied and exercised about soul-ennobling,
soul-greatening, soul-raising, and soul-cheering objects—a
Christian tramples the world under his feet! In Hebrews 11,
it was the exercise of faith and hope upon noble and glorious
objects—which carried them above the world—above the
smiling world, and above the frowning world, above the
tempting world, and above the persecuting world!

Faith conquers the world, by assuring the soul of enjoying of
better things. Men may talk much of heaven, and of Christ,
and religion, etc.; but give me a man who does really and
clearly live under the power of divine faith—and I cannot see
how such a one can be carried out in an inordinate love to
these poor transitory things.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Do not judge a minister . . .

(Thomas Brooks, "The Unsearchable Riches of Christ")

"Consider carefully what you hear." Mark 4:24

It is sad to see how many preachers in our days, make
it their business to enrich men's heads with high, empty,
airy notions; instead of enriching their souls with saving

Fix yourself under that man's ministry, who makes it his
business, his work to enrich the soul, to win the soul, and
to build up the soul; not to tickle the ear, or please the
fancy. This age is full of such light, delirious souls—who
dislike everything—but what is empty and airy.

Do not judge a minister . . .
  by his voice, nor
  by the multitude who follow him, nor
  by his affected tone, nor
  by his rhetoric and flashes of wit;
but by the holiness, heavenliness, and spiritualness
of his teaching. Many ministers are like empty orators,
who have a flood of words—but a drop of matter.

Some preachers affect rhetorical strains; they seek abstrusities,
and love to hover and soar aloft in dark and cloudy expressions,
and so shoot their arrows over their hearers' heads—instead of
bettering their hearers' hearts. Mirthful things in a sermon
are only for men to gaze upon and admire. He is the best
, not who tickles the ear—but who breaks the heart.

"My message and my preaching were not with wise and
 persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's
 power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom,
 but on God's power." 1 Corinthians 2:4-5

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

We have actually outsinned thousands

(Thomas Brooks, "The Unsearchable Riches of Christ")

Sit down and wonder at the matchless love of God.

Oh! what is in us—that should cause the Lord to give such
gifts to us as He has given? We were all equal in sin and
misery; nay, doubtless, we have actually outsinned
, to whom these precious gifts are denied. Let
us therefore sit down and wonder at this condescending
love of God. Oh! we were once poor wretches sitting upon
the ash-heap, yes, wallowing in our blood—and yet behold!
The King of kings, the Lord of lords, has so far condescended
in His love, as to bestow Himself, His Spirit, His grace, and
all the jewels of His royal crown upon us! Oh! what heart can
conceive, what tongue can express, this matchless love!

"I will be yours forever," says Christ, "and My Spirit shall
be yours forever, and My grace yours forever, and My glory
yours forever, and My righteousness yours forever. All I am
and all I have—shall be yours forever!" O what matchless
love is this! Oh! what a Christ is this!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The Midas touch

(Thomas Brooks, "The Unsearchable Riches of Christ")

Faith is the most useful grace. It is a Christian's right eye,
without which he cannot see for Christ; it is his right hand,
without which he cannot do for Christ; it is his tongue,
without which he cannot speak for Christ; it is his very
vital spirits, without which he cannot act for Christ.

It is fabled of King Midas, that whatever he touched would
be turned into gold. I am sure that whatever faith touches,
it turns into gold, that is, into our good. If our faith touches
the promises, it turns them into our good; whatever faith
lays its hand upon, it appropriates to itself, and turns it
into the soul's good. If faith looks upon God, it says, "This
God is my God forever and ever, and He shall be my guide
unto death!" When it looks upon Christ, it says, "My Lord
and my God!" When it looks upon the crown of righteousness,
it says, "This crown is laid up for me!"

Faith is . . .
  bread to nourish us,
  wine to cheer us,
  a cordial to strengthen us,
  a sword to defend us,
  a guide to direct us,
  a staff to support us,
  a plaster to heal us,
  a friend to comfort us, and
  a golden key to open heaven unto us.

Faith, of all graces, is the most useful grace to the soul
of man. "Without faith it is impossible to please God."
All those services are lost, wherein faith has not a hand.
You may write 'loss' . . .
  upon all the prayers you make, and
  upon all the sermons you hear, and
  upon all the tears you shed, and
  upon all the alms you give,
if all are not managed by a hand of faith.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Optimum maximum

(Thomas Brooks, "The Unsearchable Riches of Christ")

Christians serve a wonderful Master.
They serve Him who is . . .
  all ear to hear them,
  all hand to uphold them,
  all power to protect them,
  all wisdom to direct them,
  all goodness to relieve them,
  all mercy to pardon them.

They serve that God who is optimum maximum
—the best and greatest. God has within Himself
all the good of angels, men, and universal nature.
God has . . .
  all dignity,
  all glory,
  all riches,
  all treasure,
  all pleasure,
  all delight,
  all joy,
  all beatitudes.

God is . . .
  mercy, and
  love itself! God is one infinite perfection in Himself!

"He has all—who has the Haver of all." Αugustine

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

A faithful minister

(Thomas Brooks, "The Unsearchable Riches of Christ")

"Let the elders who rule well be accounted worthy of
 double honor, especially those who labor in the word
 and doctrine." 1 Timothy 5:17

The which is here rendered labor, signifies not simply
to labor—but to labor with much travail and toil, to labor
even to exhaustion, as he does who chops wood, or who
toils in harvest, or who fights in a battle.

Oh what an honor is it to a faithful minister, when he has . . .
  found the people dark and blind—but left them enlightened;
  found them dead—but left them alive;
  found them a proud people—but left them humble;
  found them a profane people—but left them holy;
  found them a carnal people—but left them spiritual;
  found them a worldly people—but left them heavenly;
  found them a wavering people—but left them settled and rooted.

Oh, it is an honor to faithful ministers,
when their people are like them in . . .

"Be an example to all believers in what you
 teach, in the way you live, in your love, your
 faith, and your purity." 1 Timothy 4:12

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The cross has not become obsolete!

(Horatius Bonar, "The Surety's Cross")

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those
 who are perishing; but to us who are being saved it is
 the power of God." 1 Corinthians 1:18

The whole world looked with contempt—indignant at the
audacity of a few humble Christians, thus affronting and
defying the "public opinion" of nations and ages; assailing
the religions of earth with the cross as their only sword;
striking down their idols with this as their only hammer;
and with this, as their one lever, proposing to turn the
world upside down!

From that day the cross became "a power" in the earth;
a power which went forth, like the light—noiselessly yet
irresistibly—smiting down all religions alike, all shrines
alike, all altars alike—sparing no superstition nor philosophy.

This power remains—in its mystery, its silence, its influence,
it remains. The cross has not become obsolete! The
preaching of the cross has not ceased to be powerful and

There are those who would persuade us that, in this modern
age—the cross is out of date and out of fashion, time-worn.
But this shakes us not. It only leads us to clasp the cross more
fervently, and to study it more profoundly, as embodying in
itself that gospel which is at once the wisdom and the power
of God.

Yet the cross is not without its mysteries.

It illuminates—yet it darkens.

It is life—yet it is death.

It is honor—yet it is shame.

It is wisdom—but also foolishness.

It is . . .
  both pardon and condemnation;
  both strength and weakness;
  both joy and sorrow;
  both love and hatred;
  both medicine and poison;
  both hope and despair.

It is Christ's humiliation—yet it is His exaltation!

It is Satan's victory—yet it is Satan's defeat!

It is the gate of heaven—and the gate of hell!

The cross is the key to God's character, His word,
His ways, His purposes. It is the summary of all
the Bible—the epitome of Revelation!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

A corrupt heart was the source of all

(Thomas Boston, "Human Nature in its Fourfold State")

We have seen what man was, as God made him—a lovely
and happy creature. Let us view him now as he has unmade
himself—we shall see him a sinful and a miserable creature.
This is the sad state we are brought into by the fall. Man's
nature is now wholly corrupted. There is a sad alteration,
an astonishing overturning in the nature of man—where,
at first, there was nothing evil—now there is nothing good.

"And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in
 the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts
 of his heart was only evil continually
." Genesis 6:5

All their wicked practices are here traced to the fountain and
spring-head—a corrupt heart was the source of all. The
, which was made upright in all its faculties—is now wholly
disordered. The heart, which was made according to God's own
heart—is now the reverse of it, a forge of evil imaginations,
a sink of inordinate affections, and a storehouse of all impiety,
Mark 7:21, 22. Behold the heart of the natural man, as it is
opened in our text. The mind is defiled; the thoughts of
the heart are evil; the will and affections are defiled. The
imagination of the thoughts of the heart, that is, whatever
the heart frames within itself by thinking, such as judgment,
choice, purposes, devices, desires, every inward motion—is
evil. Yes, and every imagination, every frame of his thoughts,
is evil.

But is there not, at least, a mixture of good in them? No,
they are only evil. Whatever changes may be found in them,
are only from evil to evil; for the imagination of the heart,
or frame of thoughts in natural men, is evil continually. Not
one holy thought can ever be produced by an unholy heart.

O, what a vile heart is this! O, what a corrupt nature is this!
What can that heart be, whereof every imagination, every set
of thoughts—is only evil, and that continually? Surely that
corruption is ingrained in our hearts, interwoven with our very
natures, has sunk deep into our souls, and will never be cured
but by a miracle of grace. Now such is man's heart, such is his
nature—until regenerating grace changes it.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

One continued dream and delusion

(Thomas Boston, "Human Nature in its Fourfold State")

"There is no one who understands." Romans 3:11

"They are darkened in their understanding and separated
 from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in
 them due to the hardening of their hearts." Ephes. 4:18

The natural man's apprehension of divine things is corrupt.
The understanding, that leading faculty, is despoiled of
its primitive glory, and covered over with confusion.

Tell them how they may advance their worldly wealth, or how
they may gratify their lusts—and they will quickly understand
these things. But it is very hard to make them know how their
souls may be saved, or how their hearts may find rest in Christ.
They are very stupid and unteachable in the matters of God.
What woeful delusions prevail over them! Do we not often see
those, who in other things are the wisest of men—yet are
notorious fools with respect to their soul's interest?

Many who are eagle-eyed in the trifles of time—yet are like
owls and bats in the light of eternal realities. Nay, truly, the
life of every natural man is but one continued dream and
, out of which he never awakes, until either, by a
divine light darted from heaven into his soul, he comes to
himself—or, in hell he lifts up his eyes in torment!

Sin has closed the windows of the soul; darkness covers the
whole. The prince of darkness reigns there, and nothing but
the works of darkness are framed there. We are born spiritually
blind—and cannot be restored without a miracle of grace.

"For though your hearts were once full of darkness, now
 you are full of light from the Lord!" Ephesians 5:8

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The believer's growth in grace

(Arthur Pink)

"Without Me you can do nothing." John 15:5

Just as the sinner's despair of any hope from himself
is the first prerequisite of a sound conversion; so the
loss of all confidence in himself is the first essential
in the believer's growth in grace.

"I can do all things through Christ who
 strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

God would be voted out of the world

(Thomas Boston, "Human Nature in its Fourfold State")

"Haters of God." Romans 1:30

"The carnal mind is enmity against God." Romans 8:7

Men set up for themselves, an idol of their own fancy,
instead of the true God, and then fall down and worship it.

Every natural man is an enemy to God—as He is revealed in
His word. The infinitely holy, just, powerful, and true God—is
not the God whom he loves, but the God whom he loathes!  
The Pagans finding that they could not be like God in holiness,
made their gods like themselves in filthiness; and thereby they
show what sort of a god the natural man would have. God is
holy; can an unholy creature love His unspotted holiness?

There is not a man, who is wedded to his lusts—as all the
unregenerate are—but would desire to blot out the God of
justice. Can the malefactor love his condemning judge?
Can an unjustified sinner love a just God? No, he cannot!

Men naturally would rather have a blind idol—than the
all-seeing God. They no more love the all-seeing, every
where present God—than the thief loves to have the judge
witness to his evil deeds. If it could be carried by votes,
God would be voted out of the world; for the language
of the carnal heart is, "The Lord does not see us. The Lord
has abandoned the earth." Ezekiel 8:12

Every unrenewed man an enemy to the true God.

"They say unto God—Leave us alone! We have
 no desire to know Your ways!" Job 21:14

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

A spiritual monster!

(Thomas Boston, "Human Nature in its Fourfold State")

The unrenewed man's affections are wholly corrupted,
disordered and distempered. Man's heart naturally is
a mother of abominations! "For from within, out of
men's hearts
, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality,
theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness,
envy, slander, arrogance and folly." Mark 7:21, 22

"Men loved darkness." John 3:19

The natural man's affections are wretchedly misplaced.
He is a spiritual monster!

His heart is where his feet should be—fixed on the earth.
His heels are lifted up against heaven—which his heart
should be set on.

His face is towards hell; his back is towards heaven.

He loves what he should hate; and hates what he should love.

He joys in what he ought to mourn for; and mourns for
what he should rejoice in.

He abhors what he should desire; and desires what
he should abhor.

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

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The ant's nest

(Thomas Boston,
"Human Nature in its Fourfold State")

Never did any sin appear in the life of the vilest wretch
who ever lived; but look into your own corrupt nature,
and there you may see the seed and root that sin—and
every other sin. There is atheism, idolatry, blasphemy,
murder, adultery, and whatever is vile—in your heart!
Possibly none of these are apparent to you; but there
is more in that unfathomable depth of wickedness than
you know.

Your corrupt heart is like an ant's nest, which, while
the stone lies on it, none of them appear. But take off
the stone, and stir them up but with a straw—and you
will see what a swarm is there—and how lively they are!
Just such a sight would your heart afford you—did the
Lord but withdraw the restraint He has upon it—and
allow Satan to stir it up by temptation!

"For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil
 thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery,
 greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander,
 arrogance and folly." Mark 7:21, 22

Christian! the remembrance of what you are by
nature, should keep you humble.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

They stick there like glue!

(Thomas Boston, "Human Nature in its Fourfold State")

The memory bears evident marks of sin and corruption.
What is good and worthy to be remembered, makes but
slender impression, so that impression easily wears off; the
memory, as a leaking vessel, lets it slip. As a sieve that is
full when in the water, lets all go when it is taken out—just
so is the memory with respect to spiritual things.

But how does the memory retain what ought to be forgotten!
Sinful things so bear in themselves upon it, that though men
would sincerely have them out of mind—yet they stick there
like glue!
However forgetful men are in other things, it is
hard to forget an injury. So the memory often furnishes new
fuel to old lusts; makes men in old age remember the sins of
their youth, while it presents them again to the mind with
delight, which thereupon returns to its former lusts.

Thus the memory is like a riddle—which lets through the
pure grain, and keeps the refuse.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Hold me and never let me go!

(A Puritan Prayer)

O God of love,
Preserve . . .
  my understanding from error,
  my affections from love of idols,
  my lips from speaking deceit,
  my conduct from stain of vice,
  my character from appearance of evil;
that I may be
  zealous for Your glory and the good
    of my fellow-men.

Cast Your cords of love around my heart,
then hold me and never let me go!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The death of our dear friend Elmore

(The life and letters of John Angell James)

In the death of our dear friend Elmore, the church has
lost a very valuable member, and I a most affectionate friend.
Cut off in the prime of his life—his death speaks loudly to us all.
What now is the world, or any of its concerns, to him? Let our
hearts be more in heaven! We are too earthly and sensual.
We are too much elated by the comforts of life; and too much
depressed by the sorrows of life—forgetting how close at hand
is the event which will render them both alike indifferent to
us—and us to them. Eternity, eternity is before us—and what
earthly trifle should greatly affect those who are speedily
traveling to eternity?

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

A lion! a dragon! a serpent!

(Henry Law, "Gleanings from the Book of Life")

"I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish;
 no one can snatch them out of My hand." John 10:28

The good Shepherd protects His sheep.

Many and mighty are their foes.

In themselves they are weak and tremulous as a broken reed.

The wild boar out of the forest marks them as his prey.

The roaring lion watches to devour.

Savage dogs would mangle.

The wind, the rain, the tempest, threaten to destroy.

The Shepherd knows these perils, and protects from all.

Satan is the arch enemy of the flock.
For strength—he is a lion,
for fierceness—he is a dragon,
for twisting deviousness—he is a serpent.

His might almost reaches almightiness.

His many vassals, as legion, are a universal swarm.

His vigilance never slumbers.

His skill is barbed by world long experience.

His wrath is vehement, because his time is short. He
wars with desperation because a hopeless doom is near.

How is it that the sheep are not all
driven to Satan's prison cell?

There must be a Shepherd almighty to protect.

He who delivered David "from the paw of the lion, and
from the paw of the bear" is the same rescuing Lord.

Paul seemed to be in the jaws of ruin, but he testifies,
"The Lord stood at my side and gave me strength,
 and I was delivered from the lion's mouth."

In direst extremity let the believer cry, "Rescue me
from the mouth of the lion; save me from the horns
of the wild oxen!"

A protecting arm will speedily be outstretched.

Thus His sheep never perish, and no one can
snatch them out of His hands.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The happiest Christians

(John Newton's Letters)

They are the happiest Christians, who have the
lowest thoughts of themselves, and in whose eyes
Jesus is most glorious and precious.

"Unto you who believe He is precious." 1 Peter 2:7

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Like the bubble on the stream

John MacDuff)

We shall come, some day, to see the false and
fascinating joys of earth
in their true light:
like the bubble on the stream, dancing its little
moment on the surface—and then vanishing forever!

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the
 strength of my heart and my portion forever."
    Psalm 73:26

Nothing else; nothing less, can satisfy the cravings
of an immortal spirit. All other happiness is a mimic
happiness; a wretched counterfeit of the true; a base
alloy, on which Satan may have stamped the currency
of heaven; but it is "of the earth, earthy," and upon it
Death will put an extinguisher forever!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Into the depths of the sea!

(Thomas Boston, "Human Nature in its Fourfold State")

The sinner outside of Christ is bound over to the wrath of
God; he is under an obligation in law to go to the prison of
hell, and there to lie until he has paid the utmost farthing.

"There is therefore now no condemnation to those who
 are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1

The believer's sins are pardoned, the guilt of them is removed.
The bond obliging him to pay his debt is canceled. God the
Father takes the pen, dips it in the blood of His Son, crosses
off the sinner's accounts, and blots them out of His debt-book.

Being united to Christ, God says, "Deliver him from going down
to the pit; I have found a ransom!" Job 33:24. The sentence of
condemnation is reversed, the believer is absolved, and set
beyond the reach of the condemning law. His sins, which before
were set before the Lord, Psalm 90:8, so that they could not be
hidden—God now takes and casts them all behind His back, Isaiah
38:17. Yes, "You will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our
iniquities into the depths of the sea
." Micah 7:19.

What falls into a brook may be retrieved—but what is cast into
the sea cannot be recovered. But there are some shallow places
in the sea; true—but their sins are not cast in there—but into the
of the sea. The depths of the sea are devouring depths,
from whence their sins shall never come forth again. But what
if they do not sink? He will hurl them in with force, so that they
shall go to the bottom, and sink as lead in the mighty waters
of the Redeemer's blood!

They are not only forgiven—but forgotten, Jer. 31:34, "I will
forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."
And though their after-sins do in themselves deserve eternal
wrath, and do actually make them liable to temporal strokes,
and fatherly chastisements, according to the tenor of the
covenant of grace, Psalm 89:30-33—yet they can never be
actually liable to eternal wrath.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Such a friend

(Thomas Brooks, "Apples of Gold" 1660)

"There is a friend who sticks closer than
 a brother." Proverbs 18:24

Such a friend is Jesus. He is so a friend
to every one of His people, as if He were
a friend to none besides. Jesus is . . .
  an omnipotent friend;
  an omniscient friend;
  an omnipresent friend;
  an indeficient friend;
  a sovereign friend;
  an immutable friend;
  a watchful friend;
  a loving friend;
  a faithful friend;
  a compassionate friend;
  a close friend,
  a universal friend—a friend in
     all cases and in all places,
  our first friend,
  a constant friend—"Whom He loves,
    He loves to the end." John 13:1

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~


(Thomas Boston, "Human Nature in its Fourfold State")

"After this I heard something like the loud voice of a vast
 multitude in heaven, shouting: Hallelujah! Salvation, glory,
 and power belong to our God, because His judgments are
 true and righteous! And again they shouted: Hallelujah!
 The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever!" Rev. 19:1-3

None were so compassionate as the saints when on earth,
during the time of God's patience. But now that time is at
an end. Their compassion for the ungodly is swallowed in
joy in the Mediator's glory, and His executing just judgment,
by which His enemies are made His footstool.

Though, when on earth, the righteous man wept in secret
places for their pride, and because they would not hear; yet
"The righteous will rejoice when he sees the retribution;
he will wash his feet in the blood of the wicked." Ps. 58:10

No pity shall then be shown them from their nearest relations.
The godly wife shall applaud the justice of the Judge, in the
condemnation of her ungodly husband! The godly husband
shall say Amen! to the condemnation of her who lay in his
bosom. The godly parents shall say Hallelujah! at the
passing of the sentence against their ungodly child. And the
godly child shall, from the bottom of his heart, approve the
condemnation of his wicked parents—the father who begat
him, and the mother who bore him.

"Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the
 roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
 Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns!" Revelation 19:6

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

A furious beast

(Thomas Boston, "Human Nature in its Fourfold State")

"Their throats are open graves;
 their tongues practice deceit.
 The poison of vipers is on their lips.
 Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.
 Their feet are swift to shed blood."
    Romans 3:13-15

The body itself also is partaker of corruption and defilement.
Therefore the Scripture calls it sinful flesh, Romans 8:3. The
natural temper, or rather distemper of our bodies have a natural
tendency to sin. The body incites to sin, betrays the soul into
snares, yes, is itself a snare to the soul. The body is a furious
, of such a temper, that it will not be beat down, kept
under control, and brought into subjection. It will cast the
soul into much sin and misery.

The body serves the soul in many sins. Its members are weapons
of unrighteousness, whereby men fight against God. The eyes and
ears are open doors, by which impure motions and sinful desires
enter the soul. The tongue is "a world of iniquity," "an uncontrollable
evil, full of deadly poison;" by it the impure heart vents a great deal
of its filthiness. The throat is "an open grave." The feet run the
devil's errands. The belly is made a god, Phil. 3:19, not only by
drunkards and riotous livers—but by every natural man. So the
body naturally is an agent for the devil, and a storehouse of
weapons against the Lord.

To conclude: man by nature is wholly corrupted, "from the sole of
the foot, even unto the head, there is no soundness in him." As in
a dunghill, every part contributes to the corruption of the whole,
so the natural man grows still worse and worse—the soul is made
worse by the body, and the body worse by the soul; and every
faculty of the soul (the mind, will, affections, conscience and
memory) serves to corrupt another more and more.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Swim in an ocean of unmixed delight

(Thomas Boston, "Human Nature in its Fourfold State")

Heaven is a paradise of pleasure and delight. The glorified
saints are advanced to this heavenly paradise. There they
shall not only see, but "eat of the tree of life, which is in the
midst of the paradise of God," Rev. 2:7. They shall behold
the Mediator's glory, and be satisfied with His goodness.
They shall "drink from Your rivers of delight," Psalm 36:8,
the sweetest and purest pleasures which Immanuel's land
affords, and shall swim in an ocean of unmixed delight

They shall lack nothing that may contribute to their full
satisfaction. They may go forever through Immanuel's
land, and behold the glory and riches thereof, with the
satisfying thought—that all they see is eternally their
own! "He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will
be his God and he will be My son!" Revelation 21:7

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

No hissing serpent

(Thomas Boston, "Human Nature in its Fourfold State")

Believers shall be made completely happy in the possession
of the kingdom of heaven. They shall be fully freed from
, which of all evils, is the worst. They shall be free from
all temptation to sin. Satan can have no access to tempt
them any more, by himself, or by his agents. No hissing
can come into the paradise above! No snare or
can be laid there, to catch the feet of the saints. They
may walk there without fear, for they can be in no hazard in
the promised land. They shall be set beyond the possibility
of sinning
, for they shall be confirmed in goodness.

The guilt and the reigning power of sin are then taken away.
The corrupt nature will be fully removed; and no vestiges of
it left in their souls. Their nature shall be altogether pure and
sinless. There shall be no darkness in their minds; but the
understanding will be as a globe of pure and unmixed light.
There shall not be the least aversion to good, nor the least
inclination to evil, in their wills. They will be brought to a
perfect conformity to the will of God; blessed with angelic
purity, and fixed therein. Their affections shall not be liable
to the least disorder or irregularity. They will get such a fixed
habit of purity, as they can never lose. They will be so refined
from all earthly dross, as never more to savor of anything
but of heaven. Their graces shall then be fully perfected.
There will be no more ground for complaints of weakness
of grace, or of an evil heart, or a corrupt nature.

And they shall be freed from all the effects of sin:
"God will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be
no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old
world and its evils are gone forever!" Revelation 21:4

In heaven they find the completion and satisfaction of
all their desires; having the full enjoyment of God, and
uninterrupted communion with Him. In the heavenly
Canaan, Immanuel's land—nothing is lacking to complete
the happiness of the inhabitants. This is the happy country;
blessed with a perpetual spring, and which yields all things
for necessity, convenience, and delight.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Sheep or goat?

(Thomas Boston, "Human Nature in its Fourfold State")

"When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left. Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed by My Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.'" Matthew 25:31-34

"Then He will say to those on His left
, 'Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.' Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." Matthew 25:41, 46

The general judgment is plainly and solemnly described in this portion of Scripture. We shall take notice of the following particulars:

1. The coming of the Judge. "
When the Son of Man comes in His glory," etc. The Judge is Jesus Christ, by whose almighty power, the dead will be raised. He is also called the King, verse 34, the judging of the world being an act of the royal Mediator’s kingly office. He will come in glory; glorious in His own person, and having a glorious retinue, even all the holy angels with Him, to minister unto Him at this great solemnity.

2. The mounting the tribunal. He is a King, and therefore it is a throne, a glorious throne, "He will sit on His throne in heavenly glory," verse 31.

3. The appearance of the parties. These are—all nations; all and every one, small and great, of whatever nation, who ever were, are, or shall be on the face of the earth. All shall be gathered before Him, summoned before His tribunal.

4. The separating of them. He shall separate the elect sheep and reprobate goats, setting each group by themselves. The godly He will set on His right hand, as the most honorable place; the wicked on the left, verse 33.

5. The sentencing of the parties, and that according to their works; the righteous being absolved, and the wicked condemned, verse 34-41.

6. The execution of both sentences
, in the driving away of the wicked into hell, and carrying the godly to heaven, verse 46.


    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The wrath of God

(Thomas Boston, "Human Nature in its Fourfold State")

"The wrath of God abides on him." John 3:36

1. The wrath of God is IRRESISTIBLE, there is no standing before it; "Who can stand in Your sight, when once You are angry?" Psalm 76:7. Can the worm or the moth defend itself against him who designs to crush it? Can the worm, man, stand before an angry God? Foolish men, indeed, bid a defiance against God; but the Lord often, even in this world, opens such sluices of wrath upon them, as all their might cannot stop—they are carried away thereby, as with a flood! How much more will it be so in hell!

2. The wrath of God is INSUPPORTABLE. What a man cannot resist, he will try to endure. But who shall dwell in devouring fire? Who shall dwell with everlasting burnings? God's wrath is a weight which will sink men into the lowest hell. It is a burden which no man can endure.

3. The wrath of God is UNAVOIDABLE to those who continue impenitently, and die in their sinful course. "He who, being often reproved, hardens his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed—and that without remedy!" Proverbs 29:1. We may now flee from it, indeed, by fleeing to Jesus Christ. But those who flee from Christ, will never be able to avoid it. Where can men flee from the avenging God? Where will they find a shelter? The hills will not bear them. The mountains will be deaf to their loudest supplications, when they cry to them to "hide them from the wrath of the Lamb."

4. The wrath of God is POWERFUL and FIERCE. "Who can comprehend the power of Your anger? Your wrath is as awesome as the fear You deserve." Psalm 90:11. We are apt to fear the wrath of man more than we ought; but no man can apprehend the wrath of God to be more dreadful than it really is. The power of God's wrath can never be known to the utmost; for it is infinite, and, properly speaking, has no utmost limit. However fierce it is, either on earth or in hell, God can still carry it farther. Everything in God is most perfect in its kind; and therefore no wrath is so fierce as His. O sinner! how will you be able to endure that wrath, which will tear you in pieces, Psalm 50:22, and grind you to powder! Luke 20:18.

5. The wrath of God is PENETRATING and PIERCING wrath. It is burning wrath, and fiery indignation. There is no pain more intense than that which is caused by fire; and no fire so piercing as the fire of God's indignation, which burns unto the lowest hell, Deut. 32:22. The arrows of men's wrath can pierce flesh, blood, and bones—but cannot reach the soul. But the wrath of God will sink into the soul, and so pierce a man in the most tender part.

6. The wrath of God is CONSTANT wrath, running parallel with the man's continuance in an unregenerate state; constantly attending him from the womb to the grave. There are few days so dark—but the sun sometimes looks out from under the clouds. But the wrath of God is an abiding cloud on the objects of it; John 3:36, "The wrath of God abides on him" who believes not.

7. The wrath of God is ETERNAL. O, miserable soul! if you flee not from this wrath unto Jesus Christ; though your misery had a beginning—yet it will never have an end! Should devouring death wholly swallow you up, and forever hold you fast in the grave—it would be kind. But your body must be reunited to your immortal soul, and live again, and never die; that you may be ever-dying, in the hands of the ever-living God. Death will quench the flame of man's wrath against us, if nothing else does. But God's wrath, when it has come on the sinner for millions of ages, will still be the wrath to come! Matt. 3:7; 1 Thess. 1:10. While God is, He will pursue the quarrel.

8. However dreadful it is, and though it is eternal—yet it is most JUST wrath! It is a clear fire, without the least smoke of injustice. The sea of wrath, raging with greatest fury against the sinner, is clear as crystal. The Judge of all the earth can do no wrong. "Is God unrighteous to inflict wrath? Absolutely not! Otherwise, how will God judge the world?" Romans 3:5, 6. The Judge being infinitely just—the sentence must be righteous. Therefore, stop your mouth, O proud sinner! Still your clamor against your righteous Judge!

"Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath!"
1 Thessalonians 1:10

"For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to
receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ!"
1 Thessalonians 5:9

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Afflicted, tormented, and destroyed!

(Thomas Brooks, "Crown and Glory of Christianity" 1662)

Let me give you a little abridgment of the sufferings of some of the early Christians, "of whom the world was not worthy."

1. In the reign of Hadrian the emperor, there were ten thousand Christians crowned with a crowns of thorns, thrust into the sides with sharp lances, and then crucified.

2. Others were so whipped, that their entrails were seen, and afterwards they were thrown upon sharp shells, and then upon sharp nails and thorns. And after all this cruelty, they were thrown to wild beasts to be devoured.

3. Multitudes were banished.

4. Others were pulled apart with wild horses.

5. Some were beaten and racked with bars of iron.

6. Others were cast into loathsome dungeons.

7. Some were burnt in the fire.

8. Others were knocked down and had their brains beaten out with staves and clubs.

9. Some were pricked in their faces and eyes with sharp reeds.

10. Others were stoned to death with stones, as Stephen was.

11. Some were dashed in pieces against millstones.

12. Others had their teeth dashed out of their jaws, and their joints broken.

13. Some were cast down from very high places.

14. Others were beheaded.

15. Some were tormented with razors.

16. Others were slain with the sword.

17. Some were run through with pikes.

18. Others were driven into the wilderness, where they wandered up and down, suffering hunger and cold, and where they were exposed to the fury both of wild beasts, and also to the rage of the barbarous Arabians.

19. Some fled into caves, which their persecutors crammed up with stones, and there they died.

20. Others were trodden to death by the people.

21. Some were hanged on gibbets with a slow fire under them.

22. Others were cast into the sea and drowned.

23. Some were slain by being thrown in mines.

24. Others were hanged by the feet, and choked with the smoke of a small fire, their legs being first broken.

25. Some were covered with oil, and then roasted with a soft fire.

26. Others were hung by one hand, that they might feel the weight of their whole bodies scorching and broiling over burning coals.

27. Some were shot through with arrows, and afterwards thrown into stinking prisons.

28. Others were stripped stark naked, and thrown out in cold, frosty nights; and burnt the next day.

29. In Syria, a company of Christian virgins were stripped stark naked to be scorned by the multitude, then shaved, and then torn in pieces and devoured by beasts.

30. Lastly, many women had the joints of their bodies pulled from another, and their flesh and sides clawed with talons of wild beasts to the bones, and their breasts seared with torches until they died.

And thus you have an account of thirty different ways by which the precious sons and daughters of God have formerly been afflicted, tormented, and destroyed! What heart of stone can read over this list with dry eyes? And now tell me, sirs, whether your sufferings are worth a naming in that day, wherein the sufferings of the precious servants of God in the primitive times are spoken of? Oh, no! Well then, take heed of making molehills mountains, and of crying out, "Is there any sorrow compared to my sorrow; or any sufferings compared to my sufferings?"