Grace Gems for JULY 2007

The best friend—but the worst enemy!

(Thomas Watson, "Body of Divinity")

Woe to all such, as have God against them. He lives
forever to be avenged upon them. "Can your heart
endure, or can your hands be strong in the day that
I shall deal with you?" Such as oppose His people,
trampling these jewels in the dust; and such as live
in contradiction to God's Word—engage the Infinite
Majesty of heaven against them! How dreadful will
their case be! "As surely as I live, when I sharpen
My flashing sword and begin to carry out justice,
I will bring vengeance on My enemies and repay
those who hate Me!"

If it is so dreadful to hear the lion roar, what must
it be when he begins to tear his prey? "Consider
this, you who forget God, lest I tear you in pieces!"
Oh that men would think of this—who go on in sin!
Shall we engage the great God against us? God
strikes slow—but heavy! "
Have you an arm like
God?" Can you strike such a blow? God is the best
friend—but the worst enemy!
If He can look men
into their grave, how far can He throw them? "Who
knows the power of His wrath?" What fools are they,
who, for a drop of pleasure—drink a sea of wrath!

Paracelsus speaks of a craze some have, which
will make them die dancing. Just so—sinners
go dancing to hell!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The trials and sufferings of the godly

(Thomas Watson, "Body of Divinity")

God's own people often suffer great afflictions.

"This is what the wicked are like—always carefree,
 they increase in wealth. Surely in vain have I kept
 my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in
 innocence. For I am afflicted all day long!"
    Psalm 73:12-14

How can this be consistent with God's justice?

'God's ways of judgment are sometimes secret, but
never unjust!' The Lord never afflicts His people
without a cause; He cannot be unjust towards them.

There is some good in the godly—therefore the wicked
afflict them; there is some evil in them—therefore God
afflicts them!

God's own children have their blemishes. "But aren't
you also guilty of sins against the Lord your God?"
2 Chr. 28:10. These spiritual diamonds—have they no
Do we not read of the spots of God's children?
Are not they guilty of much pride, passion, worldliness?
Though, by their profession, they should resemble the
birds of paradise, to fly above, and feed upon the dew
of heaven; yet, as the serpent, they often lick the dust!

The sins of God's people, do more provoke God than
the sins of others. "The Lord saw this and was filled
with loathing. He was provoked to anger by His own
sons and daughters." Deut 32:19. The sins of others
pierce Christ's side; the sins of His people wound His
heart! Therefore is not God just in all the afflictions
which befall them? "You only have I chosen of all the
families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for
all your sins." Amos 3:2. I will punish you sooner,
surer, sorer—than others.

The trials and sufferings of the godly, are to
refine and purify them. God's furnace is in Zion. Is
it any injustice in God to put His gold into the furnace
to purify it? Is it any injustice in God, by afflicting His
people, to make them partakers of His holiness? What
more proclaims God's faithfulness—than to take such
a course with them as may make them more holy?

"I know, O Lord, that Your laws are righteous, and
in faithfulness You have afflicted me." Psalm 119:75

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

A sleeping lion

(Thomas Watson, "Body of Divinity")

"Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why
do the treacherous live at ease?" Jeremiah 12:1

Such as are highest in sin—are often highest in
prosperity. This has led many to question God's
justice. Diogenes, seeing a thief live on affluently,
said, "Surely God has cast off the government of
the world, and does not care how things go on
here below."

How can it be consistent with God's justice,
that the wicked should prosper in the world?

If God lets men prosper a while in their sin—His
vial of wrath is all this while filling; His sword is
all this time sharpening. Though God may forbear
with men a while—yet long forbearance is not
forgiveness. The longer God is in taking His blow,
the heavier it will be at last! As long as there is
eternity, God has time enough to reckon with
His enemies!

God's justice may be as a sleeping lion—but the
lion will awake at last, and roar upon the sinner!

"Yes, Lord God Almighty, Your punishments are
 true and just." Revelation 16:7

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Who are you, O man, to talk back to God?

(Thomas Watson, "Body of Divinity")

"I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I
 will have compassion on whom I have compassion.
 It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or
 effort, but on God's mercy." Romans 9:15-16

God has a sovereign right and authority over man.
He can do with His creatures as He pleases. Who shall
dispute with God? Who shall ask Him a reason of His
doings? "Who are you, O man, to talk back to
Shall what is formed say to him who formed
it—Why did you make me like this?" Romans 9:20

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

"The Lord does whatever He pleases in heaven and
 on earth, in the seas and all the depths." Psalm 135:6

God sits as judge in the highest court, and is not bound
to give a reason for His proceedings. "He puts down one,
and raises up another." He has salvation and damnation
in His power. He has the key of justice in His hand, to
lock up whomever he will, in the fiery prison of hell! And
He has the key of mercy in His hand, to open heaven's
gate to whomever He pleases! The name engraved upon
His vesture is, "King of kings, and Lord of lords!" He sits
Lord paramount, and who can call Him to account? The
world is God's house, and shall not He do what He
desires in His own house?

"My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please!"
     Isaiah 46:10

"Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns!"
     Revelation 19:6

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

God bottles every tear!

(Thomas Watson, "Body of Divinity")

Is God a God of infinite knowledge? This is comfort
to the child of God. Christian, you set hours apart for
God, your thoughts run upon Him as your treasure;
God takes notice of every good thought! "He had a
book of remembrance written for those who thought
upon His name." You enter into your closet, and pray
to your Father in secret; He hears every sigh and
"My groaning is not hidden from You." You
water the seed of your prayer with tears—God bottles
every tear!
"You keep track of all my sorrows. You
have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have
recorded each one in Your book!" Psalm 56:8

The infiniteness of God's knowledge is a comfort, in
the case of saints who have not a clear knowledge of
themselves. They find so much corruption—that they
judge they have no grace. "If it is so—why am I thus?
If I have grace, why is my heart in so dead and earthly
a frame?" Oh remember, God is of infinite knowledge.
He can spy grace where you cannot; He can see grace
hidden under corruption, as the stars may be hidden
behind a cloud. God can see that holiness in you, which
you can not discern in yourself. He can spy the flower
of grace
in you, though overtopped with weeds.

"Because there is some good thing in him." God sees
some good thing in His people—when they can see no
good in themselves; and though they judge themselves
harshly, He will forgive their sins and infirmities.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

God sees through these fig-leaves!

(Thomas Watson, "Body of Divinity")

"My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden
 from Me, nor is their sin concealed from My eyes!"
     Jeremiah 16:17

If God is a God of infinite knowledge, then see the
folly of hypocrisy
. Hypocrites carry it fair with
men—but care not how bad their hearts are; they
live in secret sin. "They say—How can God know?
Does the Most High have knowledge?" "What does
God know? Can He judge through thick darkness?"
"God has forgotten, He hides His face, He will
never see it!

But, "His understanding is infinite!" He has a window
to look into men's hearts! He has a key to open up the
heart. "Your Father who sees in secret." God sees in
secret. As a merchant enters debts in his book, so God
has His debt-book, in which He enters every sin!

The hypocrite thinks to disguise and juggle with God—but
God will unmask him. "God shall bring every work into
judgment, with every secret thing." "For they have done
outrageous things . . . I know it and am a witness to
—declares the Lord." Jeremiah 29:23

The hypocrite hopes he shall color over his sin, and
make it look very good. Absalom masks over his
treason with the pretense of a religious vow. Judas
cloaks his covetousness, with the pretense of "charity
to the poor." Jehu makes religion a cloak for his selfish
design. But God sees through these fig-leaves!

He who has an eye to see—will find a hand to punish!

Since God is infinite in knowledge, we should always feel
as under His omniscient eye. "I have set the Lord always
before me." The consideration of God's omniscience would
be preventive of much sin. The eye of man will restrain
from sin; and will not God's eyes much more?

"Will he even assault the queen right here in the palace,
before my very eyes? the king roared." Esther 7:8. Will
we sin when our Judge looks on? Would men speak so
vainly, if they considered God overheard them? What care
would people have of their words, if they remembered that
God heard, and His pen was writing everything down in
heaven? Would they commit immorality, if they believed
God was a spectator of their wickedness, and would punish
them in hell for it? Would they defraud in their dealings,
and use false weights, if they knew God saw them; and
for making their weights lighter—would make their
damnation heavier?

Is God omniscient, and His eye chiefly upon the heart? 
Then be sincere—be what you seem! "The Lord does not
look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward
appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 1 Sam. 16:7

judge the heart—by the actions.
judges the actions—by the heart.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Well-colored dirt

(Thomas Watson, "Body of Divinity")

Did God make our bodies out of the dust, and that
dust out of nothing? Let this keep down pride! When
God would humble Adam, He uses this expression,
"You were made from dust." Why are you proud,
O dust and ashes?

David says, "I praise You because I am fearfully
and wonderfully made." Your being wonderfully
made—should make you thankful; your being
made from the dust—should keep you humble.

If you have beauty, it is but well-colored dirt!

"For you were made from dust, and to the dust
 you will return." Genesis 3:19

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Mirror and fountain

(Thomas Watson, "Body of Divinity")

The Scripture is a mirror to show us our sins;
Christ's blood is a fountain to wash them away.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~


A lamp for my feet

(Thomas Watson, "Body of Divinity")

"Teach me Your ways, O Lord, that I may
 live according to Your truth!" Psalm 86:11

Let us lead Scripture lives. Oh that the Bible might
be seen printed in our lives! Obedience is an excellent
way of commenting upon the Bible. Let the Word be
the sun-dial by which you set your life. What are we
the better for having the Scripture, if we do not direct
all our speech and actions according to it? What is a
carpenter the better for his rule about him, if he sticks
it at his back, and never makes use of it for measuring
and squaring his work? So, what are we the better for
the rule of the Word, if we do not make use of it, and
regulate our lives by it? How many swerve and deviate
from the rule!

"Your Word is a lamp for my feet
and a light for my
path." Psalm 119:105. It is not only a light to our eyes
to mend our sight—but to our feet to mend our walk.
Oh, let us lead Bible lives!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Why is salvation by faith?

(Thomas Watson, "Body of Divinity")

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through
 faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift
 of God—not by works, so that no one can boast."
    Ephesians 2:8-9

"Jesus said to the woman—Your faith has saved
 you; go in peace." Luke 7:50

Why is salvation by faith?

To exclude all glorying in the creature. Faith is a
humble grace. If salvation were by repentance or
, a man would say, "It is my righteousness
which has saved me!" But if it is of faith, where is
boasting? Faith fetches all from Christ—and gives
all the glory to Christ!

God's believing people are a humble people. 
"Be clothed with humility." God's people shrink into
nothing in their own thoughts. David cries out, "I am
a worm, and not a man!" Though a saint, though a
king—yet a worm! When Moses' face shined, he
covered it with a veil. When God's people shine most
in grace—they are covered with the veil of humility.
Abraham the father of the faithful, confesses, "I am
nothing but dust and ashes." "God resists the proud."
Surely, God will not take to be with Himself in glory,
such as whom He resists.

God's believing people are a willing people.
Though they cannot serve God perfectly—they serve
Him willingly. They do not grudge God a little time
spent in His worship. They do not murmur at sufferings.
They will go through a sea and a wilderness—if God calls.
"Your people shall be a willing people." This spontaneity
and willingness is from the attractive power of God's
Spirit. The Spirit does not force—but sweetly draws the
will. This willingness makes all our services acceptable.
God sometimes accepts of willingness without the
work—but never the work without willingness.

God's believing people are a consecrated people.
They have "holiness to the Lord" written upon them.
"You are a holy people to the Lord your God." God's
people are separated from the world—and sanctified
by the Spirit. The priests under the law were not only
to wash in the laver—but were arrayed with glorious
apparel. This was typical, to show that God's people
are not only washed from gross sins—but adorned
with holiness of life. They bear not only God's name
—but His image! Holiness is God's stamp; if He does
not see this stamp upon us, He will not own us for
His believing people.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Worse than a dog!

(Thomas Watson, "Body of Divinity")

Sin cleaves to us, as blackness to the skin of the Ethiopian,
so that we cannot get rid of it. Paul shook off the viper on
his hand—but we cannot shake off this inbred corruption!
Sin comes not, as a lodger, for a night—but as an indweller.
"Sin which dwells in me." Romans 7:17. Sin is an evil
spirit, which haunts us wherever we go

Sin, though latent in the soul, and as a spring which runs
under ground—often breaks forth unexpectedly. Christian,
you cannot believe that evil which is in your heart, and
which will break forth suddenly—if God should leave you!
"Is your servant a dog that he should do this monstrous thing?"
2 Kings 8:13. Hazael could not believe he had such a root of
evil in his heart, that he would rip up pregnant women. "Is
your servant a dog?" Yes, and worse than a dog—when
that corruption within is stirred up!

If one had come to Peter and said, "Peter, within a few hours
you will deny Christ;" he would have said, "Is your servant a
dog?" But alas! Peter did not know his own heart, nor how far
that corruption within would prevail upon him. The sea may be
calm, and look clear; but when the wind blows—how it rages
and foams! So though now your heart seems good—yet, when
temptation blows—how may sin reveal itself, making you foam
with lust and passion!

Who would have thought to have found adultery in David,
and drunkenness in Noah, and cursing in Job? If God leaves
a man to himself
—how suddenly and scandalously may sin
break forth in the holiest men on the earth!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

See its ugly face!

(Thomas Watson, "Body of Divinity")

What a heinous and execrable thing is sin! Sin is
the distillation of all evil. The Scripture calls it the
"accursed thing." It is compared to the venom of
serpents, and the stench of sepulchers. The devil
would paint sin with the pleasing colors of pleasure
and profit—that he may make it look fair; but I
shall pull off the paint, that you may see its
ugly face!
We are apt to have slight thoughts of
sin, and say to it, as Lot of Zoar, "Is it not a little
one?" But sin is a great evil.

Sin fetches its pedigree from hell; sin is from the
devil. "He who commits sin is of the devil." Satan
was the first actor of sin, and the first tempter to
sin. Sin is the devil's first-born!

Sin is a defiling thing—a polluting thing. It is to the
soul—as rust is to gold, as a stain to beauty. It makes
the soul red with guilt, and black with filth! Sin in
Scripture is compared to a "menstruous cloth," and
to a "plague-sore." Sin has blotted out God's image,
and stained the orient brightness of the soul.

Sin makes God loathe a sinner; and when
a sinner sees his sin—he loathes himself!

Sin stamps the devil's image on a man. Malice is
the devil's eye, hypocrisy his cloven foot. Sin turns
a man into a devil. "One of you is a devil!" John 6:70

Sin is an act of rebellion against God. A sinner tramples
upon God's law, crosses His will, and does all he can to
affront, yes, to spite God!

Sin strikes at the very Deity. Sin is God's would-be
Sin would not only unthrone God—but
un-God Him. If the sinner could help it, God would
no longer be God.

Sin is an act of ingratitude and unkindness. God feeds
the sinner, keeps off evils from him, be-miracles him
with mercy; but the sinner not only forgets God's
mercies—but abuses them! He is the worse for mercy;
like Absalom, who, as soon as David had kissed him,
and taken him into favor, plotted treason against him!
Like the mule, who kicks the mother after she has given
it milk. God may upbraid the sinner, "I have given you,
your health, strength, and estate; but you requite Me
evil for good; you wound Me with My own mercies! Did
I give you life—to sin against Me? Did I give you wages—
to serve the devil? Is this your kindness to your Friend?"

Sin is a disease. "The whole head is sick!" Some are sick
with pride, others with lust, others with envy. Sin has
distempered the intellectual part—it is a leprosy in the
head; it has poisoned the vitals. It is with a sinner as with
a sick patient—his palate is distempered—the sweetest
things taste bitter to him. The Word, which is 'sweeter
than the honey-comb," tastes bitter to him. Nothing
can cure this disease, but the blood of the Physician!

Sin is an irrational thing. It makes a man act not only
wickedly—but foolishly. It is absurd and irrational to
prefer the less, before the greater. The sinner prefers
the passing pleasures of sin, before eternal rivers of
pleasures. Is it rational to lose heaven—for the
indulging of a lust? Is it rational to gratify an
enemy? When sin burns in the soul, Satan warms
himself at this fire. Men's sins feast the devil.

Sin is a painful thing.
It costs men much labor to
pursue their sins. How do they tire themselves in
doing the devil's drudgery! "They weary themselves
to commit iniquity." What pains did Judas take to
bring about his damnation! Many a man goes to
hell, in the sweat of his brow.

Sin is the only thing God has antipathy against.
God does not hate a man because he is poor, or
despised in the world. The only thing which draws
forth the keenness of God's hatred, is sin. "Oh, do
not do this abominable thing, which I hate!" And
surely, if the sinner dies under God's hatred, he
cannot be admitted into the celestial mansions. Will
God let that man live with Him—whom He hates?
God will never lay such a viper in His bosom!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

What is the chief end of man?

(Thomas Watson, "Body of Divinity")

Question: What is the chief end of man?

Answer: Man's chief end is to glorify God,
and to enjoy Him forever.

"My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When
 can I go and meet with God?" Psalm 42:2

Is the enjoyment of God in this life so sweet? How
wicked are those who prefer the enjoyment of their
lusts, before the enjoyment of God! 'The lust of the
flesh, the lust of the eye, the pride of life,' is the
evil trinity
they worship.

Lust is an inordinate desire or impulse, provoking the
soul to that which is evil. Lust, like a feverish heat, puts
the soul into a flame. Aristotle calls sensual lusts, brutish,
because, when any lust is violent—reason and conscience
cannot be heard. These lusts besot and brutalize the man.

How many make it their chief end, not to enjoy God—but
to enjoy their lusts! Lust first bewitches with pleasure—and
then comes the fatal dart! This should be a flaming sword
to stop men in the way of their carnal delights—Who, for
a drop of pleasure, would drink a sea of wrath?

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

It is in these storms

(Philpot, "Christ Jesus the Lord Received and Walked In")

The very storms through which the believer passes,
will only strengthen him to take a firmer hold of Christ.
As the same wind that blows down the poplar tree, only
establishes the oak tree; so the very storms which
uproot the shallow professor, only root the child of
God more firmly in Christ.

Though these storms may shake off some of his
leaves, or break off some of the rotten boughs, they
do not uproot his faith—but rather strengthen it.

It is in these storms that he learns . . .
  more of his own weakness, and of Christ's strength;
  more of his own misery, and of Christ's mercy;
  more of his own sinfulness, and of superabounding grace;
  more of his own poverty, and of Christ's riches;
  more of his own desert of hell, and of his own title to heaven.

It is in these storms that the same blessed Spirit who
began the work carries it on; and goes on to engrave
the image of Christ in deeper characters upon his heart;
and to teach him more and more experimentally—the
truth as it is in Jesus.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

A weeping creature

(Thomas Watson, "Harmless as Doves")

"Open to Me, My sister, My darling, My dove,
 My flawless one." Song of Songs 5:2

Christ calls His spouse His "dove". The dove is a
weeping creature
. Grace dissolves and liquefies
the soul, causing a spiritual thaw. The sorrow of
the heart, runs out at the eye.

A godly heart grieves that it is not more holy.
It troubles him that he falls short of the rule and
standard which God has set. "I should", he says,
"love the Lord with all my heart. But how defective
my love is! How far short I come of what I should
be, no, of what I might have been!"

A godly man sometimes weeps out of the sense
of God's love. Gold is the finest and most solid of
all the metals, yet it is soonest melted in the fire.
Gracious hearts, which are golden hearts—are the
soonest melted into tears, by the fire of God's love.

A godly person weeps because the sins he commits
are in some sense worse than the sins of other men.
The sin of a justified person is very odious, because
it is a sin of unkindness. Peter's denying of Christ was
a sin against love. Christ had enrolled him among the
apostles. He had taken him up into the Mount and
shown him the glory of heaven in a vision. Yet after
all this mercy, it was base ingratitude that he should
deny Christ. This made him go out and 'weep bitterly.'
He baptized himself, as it were, in his own tears.

The sins of the godly, go nearest to God's heart.

The sins of the wicked—anger the Lord.
The godly man's sins—grieve Him.

The sins of the wicked—pierce Christ's side.
The sins of the godly—wound His heart.

How far from being godly—are those
who scarcely ever shed a tear for sin!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

God's hatred of sin

(J. A. James, "The Practical Believer Delineated" 1852)

The death of Christ, apprehended by faith, presents
the strongest motives to holiness—by setting forth in
the most vivid and striking manner . . .
  the evil nature of sin;

  the holiness and justice of God;
  His determination to punish transgression;
  the fearfulness of falling into the hands of the living God.

Not all the judgments God ever inflicted—nor all
the threatenings He ever denounced, give such an
impressive warning against sin, and admonition
to righteousness—as the death of Christ.

The torments of the bottomless pit are not so
dreadful a demonstration of God's hatred of sin,
the agonies of the cross!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

A man's god

(Henry Law)

A man's god is that which . . .
  has the greatest influence over him;
  he sets the highest value upon;
  he chiefly devotes himself and his energies.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Christ is . . .

(J. C. Ryle)

"Christ is all." Colossians 3:11

True Christians have trustful thoughts of Christ.
They daily lean the weight of their souls upon
Him by faith—for pardon and peace.

They daily commit the care of their souls to Him
—as a man commits a treasure to a safe keeper.

They daily cling to Him by faith—as a child in
a crowd clings to its mother's hand.

They look to Him daily for . . .

Christ is . . .
  the rock under their feet,
  the staff in their hands,
  their ark and their city of refuge,
  their sun and their shield,
  their bread and their medicine,
  their health and their light,
  their fountain and their shelter,
  their portion and their home,
  their advocate and their physician,
  their captain and their elder brother,
  their life,
  their hope,
  their all.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Carnally minded

(John Owen)

"For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually
 minded is life and peace." Romans 8:6

Let a man profess what he will—if his thoughts are generally
conversant about earthly and worldly things—he has an earthly
and worldly mind. And if his thoughts are generally conversant
about sensual things—he has a sensual and carnal mind. "For
as he thinks in his heart—so is he." Proverbs 23:7

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Communion with God

(Thomas Brooks, "Hypocrites Detected, Anatomized,
 Impeached, Arraigned and Condemned" 1650)

Communion with God is . . .
  the life of all your graces;
  the sweetener of all providences and mercies;
  the strengthener of your hearts and hands;
  the soul of your comforts;
  the crown of your souls.

Nothing can compare with communion with God—
  to fence you against temptations,
  to sweeten all afflictions, and
  to make you own God, and stand for God,
and cleave to God—in the face of all troubles
and oppositions. Communion with God makes
bitter things—sweet; and massive things—light.

A man high in communion with God, is a man too big
for temptations to conqueror troubles to subdue!
Those who have but little communion with God, are
usually as soon conquered as tempted—as soon
vanquished as assaulted.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Little sinners

(John Flavel, "Keeping the Heart")

Perhaps the smallness of the sin is urged as
a reason why you may commit it: "It is but
a little sin—a small matter—a trifle!"

But, if you commit this little sin—you will offend
a great God! Is there any little hell to torment
little sinners in? No! The least sinners in hell are
full of misery! There is great wrath treasured up
for those whom the world regard as little sinners.

The less the sin—the less the inducement you should
have to commit it. Will you provoke God for a trifle?
Will you destroy your peace, wound your conscience,
and grieve the Spirit—all for nothing? What madness
is this!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Instructions for daily conduct

(Mason's Select Remains)

"For you know what instructions we gave you by
 the authority of the Lord Jesus." 1 Thessal. 4:2

1. Make the word of God the rule of all you do.

2. Whatever you do, do it in the strength of Christ.
Without Christ, you can do nothing. Of yourself, you
cannot even think a good thought; but you may do
all things, through Christ strengthening you. Nature
is a dry root—no gracious actions spring from it. Grace
depends on continual supplies from Christ—as of sap
from the root. Be strong in the Lord, and in the power
of His might, and then nothing shall be too hard for
you. All things are possible to him who believes and
relies upon Christ's power.

3. As we are to act by the power of Christ, so we are
to present our services for acceptance in the name of
Christ. The best we can do—needs His intercession,
blood, and merits—to render it acceptable to God. In
the Lord alone—we have righteousness and strength.

4. Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
Selfishness is the natural idolatry of the human heart.
The design and tendency of piety is to take the heart
off self—and set it upon God. That duty which does
not begin and end with God is no part of godliness.
Self must be cast down—and God alone exalted.

5. To spend every day well,
  let your waking thoughts be with God;
  let your fervent prayers ascend in the name of Christ;
  let the Word of God be your counselor;
  let the fear of God be always before your eyes.
In all your actions, let integrity and uprightness preserve
you. Set a watch over your lips, and a guard upon your
spirit, that you be not provoked to anger, nor speak
unadvisedly with your lips.

6. At night, review the actions of the day. Give to God
the glory of what has been good; take shame to yourself
for what has been evil. Review the dispensations of God's
providences—and consider their special meaning and
application. Acknowledge the mercies of God received
through the day. Submit to the afflictions laid upon you.
Commit yourselves afresh to the mercy and protection
of God, through Jesus Christ—that you may be preserved
through the slumbers of the night, and be permitted to
wake in peace—whether it be in earth or heaven.

By these points let every action be examined—
   By whose rule have I acted?
   In whose strength have I acted?
   In whose name have I acted?
   For whose glory have I acted?
   What faith, humility, self-denial, love to God
   and Christ, have there been in my actions?

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

As humbling as it may be

(Gorham Abbott, "The Family at Home", 1833)

"I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom
 of God unless he is born again." John 3:3

As humbling as it may be, it is a truth—that
the loveliest babe that was ever born, and the
most amiable youth that eyes ever beheld—is a
guilty, depraved creature—and must be born
again before it can see the kingdom of God. He
who is old enough to sin, is old enough for hell.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Finding happiness in a miserable world

(Gorham Abbott, "The Family at Home", 1833)

"A man's life does not consist in the abundance
 of his possessions." Luke 12:15

"But if we have food and clothing, we will be
 content with these." 1 Timothy 6:8

A little simple food, and plain clothing, and humble
shelter—this is all that man really needs. Outward
things can neither make a man happy or miserable.
Ahab was discontented on a king's throne.
Paul and Silas were happy in a dungeon.

    Nature is content with little;
    grace is content with less.
    Luxury is seldom satisfied;
    lust is never satisfied.

If we have but little in this world, we may content
ourselves with the reflection, that it is safer to have
little than much. Many have been ruined by prosperity.
Many have gone to hell splendidly clothed, and who
lived each day in luxury!

Very wise was the prayer of Agur, "Give me neither
poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread."
Proverbs 30:8

Christians should be content, because time is short;
and if time is short, trouble cannot be long! "Weeping
may endure for a night—but joy comes in the morning!"
These light afflictions are but for a moment—and then
comes an eternal weight of glory! The Christian is
traveling down a rough and dirty piece of road; but
he is going home—to his glorious heavenly home!
This is the true secret of finding happiness in a
miserable world

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Death-bed repentance

(Gorham Abbott, "The Family at Home", 1833)

"They shall look on Him whom they have pierced,
 and shall mourn." Zechariah 12:10

    Repentance is the tear of love,
    dropping from the eye of faith,
    when it fixes on Christ crucified.

Repentance begins in the humiliation of the heart, and
ends in the reformation of the heart and of the life.

Sincere repentance is never too late, but late repentance
is seldom sincere. The thief on the cross repented, and was
pardoned in the last hour of his life. We have one such
instance in scripture—that none might despair; and only
—that none might presume.

Still, however, the probability that apparent repentance,
which comes at a dying hour, will be genuine, is very small.
The following fact will furnish an affecting illustration of this
sentiment, and a solemn warning against the too common
delusion of deferring the work of repentance to a dying bed:

The faithful and laborious clergyman of a very large and
populous parish had been accustomed, for a long series of
years, to preserve notes of his visits to the afflicted, with
remarks on the outcome of their affliction—whether life or
death, and of the subsequent conduct of those who recovered.
He stated, that, during forty years, he had visited more than
two thousand people apparently drawing near to death, and
who revealed such signs of penitence as would have led him
to indulge a good hope of their eternal safety—if they had
died at that moment.
When they were restored to life and
health—he eagerly looked that they should bring forth fruits
fit for repentance. But alas! of the two thousand, only two
people manifested an abiding and saving change! The rest,
when the terrors of eternity ceased to be in immediate
prospect, forgot their pious impressions and their solemn
vows—and returned with new avidity to their former worldly
mindedness and sinful pursuits, "as the dog returns to its
vomit again, and as the sow that was washed to its
wallowing in the mire."

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The love of fine dress

(Gorham Abbott, "The Family at Home", 1833)

"I also want women to dress modestly, with decency
 and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls
 or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate
 for women who profess to worship God." 1 Tim. 2:9-10

To many young women, the love of fine dress is a great
snare—which leads them into a series of mistakes.

A profusion of fine bows, feathers, necklaces, and earrings
—is often the outward and visible sign of inward emptiness
and vanity!

A minister, calling to visit a lady, was detained a long time
while she was dressing. At length she made her appearance,
bedecked in all the frippery of fashion and folly. The minister
broke into tears. She demanded the cause of his grief; when
he replied, "I weep, madam, to think that an immortal being
should spend so much of that precious time which was given
her to prepare for eternity—in thus vainly adorning that body
which must so soon become a prey to worms!"

A lady once asked a minister whether a person might not
be fond of fine dress and ornaments, without being proud.
"Madam," replied the minister, "when you see the fox's tail
peeping out of the hole—you may be sure the fox is within!"

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment,
 such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and
 fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self,
 the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is
 of great worth in God's sight. For this is the way the holy
 women of the past who put their hope in God used to
 make themselves beautiful." 1 Peter 3:3-5

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman
 who fears the Lord is to be praised." Proverbs 31:30

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Too many novels

"Redeeming the time, because the days are evil." Ephesians 5:16

"Of making many books there is no end." Ecclesiastes 12:12

(Sophia Smith's journal entry, 7 November 1863)

"I have done too much light reading in the past—too many novels.
 Although interesting and well written, they take up too much time,
 and are too absorbing. They induce a disrelish for more substantial
 reading. And they also have a tendency to dissipate the mind and
 take it off from more solemn things."

"Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk." 1 Peter 2:2-3

"Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long!" Ps. 119:97

"There are many books," said John Newton, "which I cannot sit down
to read. They are indeed good and sound—but have a great quantity
of pages, compared to their insignificant value. There are some silver
books, and a very few golden books; but I have one book worth more
than all, called the Bible—and that is a book of priceless gems!"

(Gorham Abbott, "The Family at Home", 1833)
To a man who knows the value of the Word of God, it is . . .
  nearer than his friends,
  dearer than his life,
  sweeter than his liberty,
  pleasanter than his daily comforts.

"How sweet are Your Words to my taste, sweeter than honey
 to my mouth!" Psalm 119:103

"They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are
 sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb." Psalm 19:10

This one book is worth more than all the other books in the world!
He who reads this book with attention, humility, prayer, and self
application, can never be ignorant of that which it chiefly concerns
him to know. "Therein are contained the words of eternal life. It
has God for its Author, salvation for its object, and truth, without
mixture of error, for its matter."

Guard against the love of light, trifling reading. At best, it wastes
the time and enfeebles the mind, and disqualifies it for the relish
of more solid subjects. By giving a false and delusive coloring to
the scenes of human life—it excites unreasonable expectations,
unfits for common duties, and produces discontent with the sober
realities of life.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The Christian's strength

(Thomas Watson, "The One Thing Necessary")

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

Always labor in the strength of Christ. Never go
to work alone. Samson's strength lay in his hair.
The Christian's strength lies in Christ.

When you are . . .
  to do any duty,
  to resist any temptation,
  to subdue any lust,
set upon it in the strength of Christ!

Some go out against sin, in the strength of their
resolutions and vows—and they are soon foiled.
Do as Samson did—he first cried to God for help
and then having taken hold of the pillars, he pulled
down the house upon the Philistines! Likewise, only
when we engage Christ in the work, can we bring
down the house upon the head of our lusts!

Prayer beats the weapon out of the devil's hand
—and gets the blessing out of God's hand!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Not whom he may bite—but devour!

(Thomas Watson, "The Christian Soldier" 1669)

We read in Scripture of Satan's snares and darts;
he hurts more by his snares than by his darts!

Satan opposes us both by open violence, and secret

1. Satan opposes by open violence—so he is called
the Red Dragon. He labors to storm the castle of the
heart; he stirs up passion, lust and revenge. These are
called "fiery darts," Ephes. 6:16, because they often set
the soul on fire. Satan in regard to his fierceness, is
called a lion, "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy
the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for
someone to devour!" 1 Peter 5:8. Not whom he
may bite—but devour!

2. Satan opposes by secret treachery—so he is
called the Old Serpent. What he cannot do by force,
he will endeavor to do by fraud. Satan has several
subtle devices in tempting:

Satan suits his temptations to the temper of
the individual.
Satan studies our dispositions, and
lays suitable baits. He knew Achan's s covetous heart,
and tempted him with a wedge of gold. He tempts
the youthful man with lust.

Satan tempts to sin gradually.
He steals into into
the heart by degrees. He is at first, more modest.
He did not say to Eve at first, "Eat the apple!" No!
but he goes more subtly to work. He puts forth a
question, "Has God said? Surely Eve, you are mistaken;
the bountiful God never intended to debar one of the
best trees of the garden. Has God said? Surely, either
God did not say it; or if He did, He never really intended
it." Thus by degrees he wrought her to distrust God, and
then she took of the fruit and ate. Oh, take heed of
Satan's first motions to sin, which seem more modest.
He is first a fox, and then a lion.

Satan tempts to evil in lawful things. It was lawful
for Noah to eat the fruit of the grape; but he took too
much, and so sinned. Excess turns that which is good—
into evil. Eating and drinking may turn to intemperance.
Industry in one's calling, when excessive, becomes
covetousness. Satan draws men to an immoderate love
of the creature, and then makes them sin in that which
they love—as Agrippina poisoned her husband Claudius,
in that food which he loved most.

Satan puts men upon doing good, out of evil ends.
If he cannot hurt them by scandalous actions—he will by
virtuous actions. Thus he tempts some to espouse religion
out of ulterior motives. He tempts others to give to charity,
for applause, that others may see their good works.

"Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish
all the flaming arrows of the evil one!" Ephesians 6:16. We
must resist the devil by faith. Faith is a wise, intelligent
grace. Faith can see a hook under the bait! Faith keeps
the castle of the heart, so that it does not yield. Faith beats
back the temptation. Faith holds the promise in one hand,
and Christ in the other. The promise encourages faith, and
Christ strengthens it; so faith beats the enemy out of the field!

We overcome Satan upon our knees!
A Christian by prayer
fetches in auxiliary forces from Heaven. In all temptations, go
to God by prayer. "Lord, teach me to use every piece of the
spiritual armor—how to hold the shield, how to wear the helmet,
how to use the sword of the Spirit. Lord, strengthen me in the
battle; let me rather die a conqueror—than be taken prisoner,
and led captive by Satan!"

Remember that Christ has given Satan his death-wound
upon the cross. He has bruised the head of the old Serpent!
He is a chained enemy, and a conquered enemy; therefore
do not fear him. "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you!"
James 4:7. "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under
your feet!" Romans 16:20.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Suck out the sweetness

(Thomas Watson, "The Christian Soldier" 1669)

Meditation is a holy exercise of the mind; whereby we
bring the truths of God to remembrance—and seriously
ponder upon them and apply them to ourselves. It is a
work which cannot be done in a crowd. A Christian must
retire from the world, to have serious thinking upon God.
It is not a few transient thoughts that are quickly gone;
but a fixing and staying of the mind upon heavenly

As the bee sucks the honey from the flower—so by
meditation we suck out the sweetness of a truth.
It is not the receiving of food into the mouth, but the
digesting of it, which makes it nutritious. Just so, it is
not the receiving of the most excellent truths in the
ear, which nourishes our souls—but the digesting of
them by meditation.

Satan does what he can to hinder this duty. He is an
enemy of meditation. The devil does not care not how
much we read—so long as we do not meditate on what
we read. Reading begets knowledge—but meditation
begets devotion. "Oh, how I love your law! I meditate
on it all day long." Psalm 119:97

Holy meditation quickens the affections. The reason
why our affections are so cold to heavenly things—is
because we do not warm them at the fire of holy
meditation. As the musing on worldly objects makes
the fire of lust burn; and as the musing on injuries
makes the fire of revenge burn; just so, meditating
on the transcendent beauties of Christ, would make
our love to Christ flame forth.

Meditation has a transforming power in it. The reading
of the Word may affect us—but the meditating upon it
transforms us. Meditation stamps the impression of divine
truths upon our hearts. By meditating on God's holiness,
we grow holy. While by meditation we look upon God's
purity—we are changed into His likeness.

Meditation produces reformation. "I have considered
my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes."
Psalm 119:59. If we would spend but one quarter of
an hour every day in contemplating heavenly objects,
it would leave a mighty impression upon us!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The rat gets into his belly and eats his entrails

(Thomas Watson, "The Christian Soldier" 1669)

Take heed of a slothful, lazy disposition. A slothful
person would gladly have Heaven—but is loathe to
take it by storm. Sloth is the soul's sleep. Many,
instead of working out salvation, sleep away salvation!
Such as will not labor, must be put at last to beg. They
must beg, as Dives in hell—for one drop of water!

God never made Heaven as a hive for drones!

Sloth is a disease apt to grow upon men—shake it off!

A sluggish ship is a prey to the pirate.
A sluggish soul is a prey to Satan!

When the crocodile sleeps with his mouth open—the
rat gets into his belly and eats his entrails
. Just
so, while men are asleep in sloth—the Devil enters
and devours them!

Our sleeping time is Satan's tempting time!


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