Grace Gems for SEPTEMBER 2007

I am with you always

(John MacDuff, "The Christian's Pathway" 1858)

"Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed,
 for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you.
 I will uphold you with My victorious right hand." Is. 41:10

The Divine presence is . . .
  the believer's strength in weakness;
  his support in suffering;
  his consolation in the hour of death.

The blessed assurance, "I am with you," is sufficient to
enliven every scene, and sweeten every condition. Its
realization opens springs of joy in the cheerless waste
of this desert world. The Divine presence . . .
  dissipates the thickest darkness,
  soothes the anguish of the keenest affliction, and
  lightens the heaviest load of poverty and distress.

Reader, be anxious to possess an abiding consciousness
of the great truth—that the eye of God is ever upon you!
Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing—set the
Lord always before you. Having Him at your right hand,
whatever difficulties and dangers may surround your
path—you shall not be moved.

"Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to
 the end of the age." Matthew 28:20

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

It is utterly impossible

(Octavius Winslow, 1852)

It has been the distinctive aim, and the sincere
desire of my ministry—to make known and to
endear the Savior to your hearts.

Oh, how worthy is He . . .
  of your most exalted conceptions,
  of your most implicit confidence,
  of your most self-denying service,
  of your most fervent love!

When He could give you no more—and
the fathomless depths of His love, and
the boundless resources of His grace,
would not be satisfied by giving you
less—He gave you Himself!

Robed in your nature,
laden with your curse,
oppressed with your sorrows,
wounded for your transgressions,
and slain for your sins—
He gave His entire self for you!

His redeeming work now finished—He is perpetually
engaged in meting out blessings to His people, from
the exhaustless treasures of His love! He constantly
woos your affection—invites your grief—and bids you
repair with your daily trials to His sympathy, and with
your hourly guilt to His blood. You cannot in your drafts
upon Christ's fullness, be too covetous; nor in your
expectations of supply, be too extravagant! You may
fail, as, alas! the most of us do, in making too little of
Christ—but you cannot fail, in making too much of Him!

It is utterly impossible
to know Christ,
and not become inspired with a desire . . .
  to love Him supremely,
  to serve Him devotedly,
  to resemble Him closely,
  to glorify Him faithfully here,
  and to enjoy Him fully hereafter!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

A panacea

(Thomas Watson, "The Ten Commandments")

The Scripture is a golden epistle, written by
the Holy Spirit—and sent to us from heaven!

The Scripture is a spiritual looking-glass, to dress
our souls by. It shows us heart-sins, vain thoughts,
unbelief, etc. It not only shows us our spots—but
them away!

The Scripture is an armory, out of which we may
fetch spiritual artillery to fight against Satan. When
our Savior was tempted by the devil, He fetched
armor and weapons from Scripture: "It is written!"

The Scripture is a panacea, or universal medicine
for the soul. It gives a remedy to cure deadness of
, Psalm 119:50; pride, 1 Pet 5:5; and infidelity,
John 3:36. It is a garden of remedies, where we may
gather an herb or antidote, to expel the poison of sin!

The Scripture is "the only standard of conduct."
It is the only rule by which we are to square our
lives. It contains in it:
  all things needful to salvation;
  what duties we are to do;
  what sins we are to avoid.

"When your words came, I ate them; they were my
joy and my heart's delight!" Jer. 15:16. All true solid
comfort is fetched out of the Word. The Word is a
spiritual garden, and the promises are the fragrant
flowers or spices in this garden. How should we
delight to walk among these beds of spices!

The Scripture is a sovereign elixir, or comfort,
in an hour of distress. "Your promise revives me;
it comforts me in all my troubles!" Psalm 119:50.

If we would have the Scripture effectual, let us
labor not only to have the light of it in our heads;
but its power in our hearts!

"I have hidden your Word in my heart, that I might
not sin against you." Psalm 119:11. The Word, locked
up in the heart—is a preservative against sin. As one
would carry an antidote with him when he comes near
an infected place—so David carried the Word in his
heart as a sacred antidote to preserve him from
the infection of sin.

When we read the holy Scriptures—let us look up to
God for a blessing. Let us pray that God would not
only give us His Word as a rule of holiness—but His
grace as a principle of holiness! It is said, that the
alchemist can draw oil out of iron. God's Spirit can
produce grace in the most obdurate heart!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

God's flail

(Thomas Watson, "The Ten Commandments")

God's children may sometimes be under sore afflictions.
They have no charter of exemption from trouble, in this
life. While the wicked are kept in sugar—the godly are
often kept in brine.

And, indeed, how could God's power be seen in bringing
them out of trouble—if He did not sometimes bring them
into it? How could God wipe away the tears from their
eyes in heaven—if on earth they shed none?

Doubtless, God sees there is need that His children should
be sometimes in the house of bondage. "If need be, you
are in heaviness." 1 Peter 1:6. The body sometimes needs
a bitter portion—more than a sweet one.

"You refined us like silver. You brought us into prison
 and laid burdens on our backs." Psalm 66:10, 11

Why does God bring His people into an afflicted state?

God gives affliction—to purge our corruption. The eye,
though a tender part—yet when infected, we put sharp
medicines into it, to purge out the disease. Just so,
though the people of God are dear to Him as the apple
of His eye—yet, when corruption begins to grow in them,
He will apply the sharp medicine of affliction—to purge
out the disease.

Affliction is God's flail to beat off our husks.

Affliction is a means God uses to purge out
sloth, luxury, pride, and love of the world.

God's furnace is not to consume—but to refine.

God gives us more affliction—that we may have less sin!

God also gives affliction to increase our graces. Grace
thrives most in the iron furnace.
Grace in the saints is
often as fire hidden in the embers; affliction is the
bellows to blow it up into a flame!

God sanctifies all our afflictions. They shall not be
destructive punishments—but medicines! They shall
corrode and eat out the venom of sin! They shall polish
and refine our grace! The more the diamond is cut—the
more it sparkles. The more God afflicts us—the more
our graces cast a sparkling luster!

The stones which are cut out for a building, are first
hewn and squared. The godly are called "living stones."
1 Peter 2:5. God hews and polishes them by affliction,
that they may be fit for the heavenly building.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The knife which killed her husband!

(Thomas Watson, "The Ten Commandments")

The Lord's Supper is the looking-glass in which we see
Him whom our souls love; it is the chariot by which we
are carried up to Christ. God has appointed the Lord's
to cheer and revive our sad hearts. When we
look on our sins—we have cause to mourn; but when
we see Christ's blood shed for our sins—we rejoice!

In the Lord's Supper our spiritual needs are supplied,
our strength is renewed; there we meet with Christ
—and He says to us, "All I have is yours! My love is
yours, to pity you! My mercy is yours, to save you!"
Christ's blood is the key which opens heaven—else
we had all been shut out!

The end of the Lord's Supper, is to work in us an
endeared love to Christ. When Christ bleeds for us,
well may we say, "Behold how He loved us!" That
is a heart of stone—which Christ's love will not melt!

Another end of the Lord's Supper is the mortifying of
corruption. To see Christ crucified for us—is a means
to crucify sin in us. How can a wife endure to see the
knife which killed her husband!
How can we endure
those sins—which made Christ veil His glory and shed
His blood! Sin has rent the white robe of Christ's flesh,
and dyed it of a crimson color. The thoughts of this
should make us seek to be avenged on our sins!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The whole life
Henry Law, "Beacons of the Bible" 1869)

"Their mind is on earthly things." Phil. 3:19

To find amusement in the vanities of time;
to sip admiration from the cup of flattery;
to flutter with the giddy moths around the
blaze of merriment—is the whole life of
the ungodly.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Jesus Christ went into the
furnace of His Father's wrath

(Thomas Watson, "The Wrath of God")

"Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.
 A man reaps what he sows."
Galatians 6:7

God's wrath is just. The wicked shall drink a
sea of wrath—but not one drop of injustice!

God is justified in condemning sinners at the last day.
They deserve wrath, and it is no injustice to give them
that which they deserve. If a malefactor deserves death,
the judge does him no wrong in condemning him.

See what a great evil sin is—which exposes a person to
God's wrath forever! You may know what an evil sin is,
by the wrath and curse it brings! When you see a man
brought to the gallows, you conclude he is guilty of some
heinous crime, which brings such a punishment. So when
a man lies under the fierce anger of God's wrath, and
roars out in flames—you must say, "How horrid an evil
sin is!" Those who now see no evil in sin—will see how
vile it is—in the looking-glass of hell-torments!

See here, that which may check a sinner's mirth. He is
now brisk and frolicsome; he "sings idle songs to the
sound of the harp." Amos 6:5. "But know that for all
these things, God will bring you to judgment!" Ecc. 11:9.
Let him remember that the wrath and curse of God hang
over him, which will shortly, if he does not repent—be
executed upon him!

The sword of God's justice hangs over a sinner, and
when the slender thread of life is cut asunder—it falls
upon him! For a drop of pleasure—he must drink a
sea of wrath! His momentary pleasure cannot be so
sweet—as God's eternal wrath is bitter! Better lack
the devil's honey—than be stung with the
eternal wrath of God!

"None considers in his heart." See the stupidity of
Though the fierce wrath of God is ready to
fall upon them—they have no concern! Though a
beast has no shame, it has fear—it is afraid of fire.
But sinners are worse than brutish—for they do not
fear the "fire of hell"—until they are in it! When they
shall feel the vials of God's wrath dropping, they will
cry out as Dives, "Oh! I am tormented in this flame!"
Luke 16:24.

"Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come." 1 Th.
1:10. Christ is the only screen to stand between us and
the wrath of God; He felt God's wrath—that those who
believe in Him should never feel it.

Nebuchadnezzar's fiery furnace was a type of God's wrath,
and that furnace did not singe the garments of the three
Hebrew children, nor did they have "the smell of fire upon
them." Daniel 3:27. Jesus Christ went into the furnace
of His Father's wrath
—and the smell of the fire of hell
shall never pass upon those who believe in Him!

To you who have a well-grounded hope that you shall not
feel this wrath, which you have deserved—let me exhort
you to be very thankful to God, who has given His Son to
save you from this tremendous wrath. The Lamb of God
was scorched in the fire of God's wrath for you!
felt the wrath which He did not deserve—that you might
escape the wrath which you have deserved!

Pliny observes, that there is nothing better to quench fire,
than blood. Christ's blood has quenched the fire of God's
wrath for you! "Upon me be your curse," said Rebekah to
Jacob. Just so, Christ said to God's justice, "Upon Me be
the curse—that My elect may inherit the blessing!"

Be patient under all the afflictions which you endure.
Affliction is sharp—but it is not wrath, it is not hell. Who
would not willingly drink the cup of affliction—who knows
he shall never drink in the cup of damnation! Who would
not be willing to bear the wrath of man—who knows he
shall never feel the wrath of God!

Christian, though you may feel God's rod—you shall never
feel God's bloody axe! Augustine once said, "Strike, Lord,
where you will—so long as my sin pardoned." You should
say, "Afflict me, Lord, as you will in this life—seeing I
shall escape the wrath to come!"

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

It pulls down the plumes of his pride!

(Thomas Watson, "The Ten Commandments")

The true Christian cannot keep God's law perfectly.
"There is certainly no righteous man on the earth
who does good and never sins." Eccl. 7:20. There
is in the best actions of a godly man—that which is
damnable—if God should weigh him in the balance
of justice. Alas! He cannot pray without wandering,
nor believe without doubting. "For the desire to do
what is good is with me, but there is no ability to
do it." Romans 7:18. Paul, though a saint of the first
magnitude, was better at desiring than at performing.

The regenerate have a desire to obey God perfectly;
but they lack strength; their obedience is weak and
sickly. The mark they are to shoot at, is perfection of
holiness. But though they take a right aim, and do
what they can—they come short of the mark!

A Christian, while serving God, is like the rower who
plies the oar, and rows hard—but is hindered, for a
gust of wind carries him back again! So says Paul, 
"For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I
practice the evil that I do not want to do." Romans
7:19. "I am driven back by temptation!"

God permits this inability in His people—to humble
Man is a self-exalting creature; and if he has but
anything of worth, he is ready to be puffed up! But
when he comes to see his deficiencies and failings,
and how far short he comes of that holiness and
perfection which God requires—it pulls down the
plumes of his pride
, and lays them in the dust!
He weeps over his inability!
He blushes over his leprous spots!
He says with Job, "I abhor myself in dust and ashes!"

God allows this inability be upon us—that we may have
recourse to Christ
—to obtain pardon for our defects, and
to sprinkle our best duties with His blood. When a man
sees that he owes perfect obedience to the law—but has
nothing to pay, it makes him flee to Christ, to answer for
him all the demands of the law, and set him free in the
court of Divine justice.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

You may smite another—and never touch him!

(Thomas Watson, "The Ten Commandments")

The tongue which at first was made to be an organ
of God's praise—has now become an instrument of
unrighteousness. God has set two natural fences to
keep in the tongue—the teeth and lips.

"Not slanderers." 1 Timothy 3:11

In the Greek it is, "not devils." The same word signifies
both a slanderer and a devil. Some think it is no great
matter, to misrepresent and slander others; but it is to
act the part of a devil. This is a great sin; and I wish
I could say it is not common.

The heathen, by the light of nature, abhorred the sin
of slandering. Diogenes used to say, "Of all wild beasts,
a slanderer is the worst." Antonius made a law, that if
a person could not prove the crime he reported another
to be guilty of, he should be put to death.

The Scripture calls slandering, smiting with the tongue.
"Come, and let us smite him with the tongue." Jer 18:18
You may smite another—and never touch him!

The scorpion carries his poison in his tail;
the slanderer
carries his poison in his tongue!

Job calls slander "the scourge of the tongue." As a
rod scourges the back, so the slanderer's tongue
scourges the name.

is commonly blasted by slander.

Holiness itself is no shield from slander. The lamb's
innocence will not preserve it from the wolf. Christ,
the most innocent upon earth, was reported to be
"a glutton and a drunkard." Matthew 11:19

"The tongue inflicts greater wounds than the sword."

No physician can heal the wounds of the tongue!

To pretend friendship to a man, and slander him,
is most odious.

We must not only not raise a false report—but refuse
to hear it. He who raises a slander—carries the devil
in his tongue! He who receives a slander—carries the
devil in his ear!

You may kill a man in his name as well as in his person.
Some are reluctant to take away their neighbor's goods;
but better take their wares out of their shop—than take
away their good name! This is a sin for which no reparation
can be made; a blot in a man's name, being like a blot on
white paper, which can never be gotten out.

Surely God will punish this sin. If idle words shall be
accounted for, shall not unjust slanders? Oh therefore,
take heed of this sin!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

For a drop of pleasure

(Thomas Watson, "The Ten Commandments")

"You shall not murder." Exodus 20:13

Many murder their own souls! They willfully damn
themselves, and throw themselves into hell!

Who are those who murder their own souls?

They willfully murder their souls—who have no sense
of God, or the world to come, and are past feeling. Tell
them of God's holiness and justice—and they are not
affected at all. "They made their hearts as an adamant
stone." Zech 7:12. Sinners have adamantine hearts—
nothing will work upon them, neither ordinances nor
judgments. They do not believe in God; they laugh
at hell. Thus they murder their own souls, and throw
themselves into hell as fast as they can!

They willfully murder their own souls—who resign
themselves to their lusts,
let what will, come of it.
"Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves
over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of
impurity, with a continual lust for more." Eph 4:19.
Let ministers speak to them about their sins, let
speak, let afflictions speak—they will
have their lusts, even though they go to hell for
them! Do not these murder their own souls? Many
say in their hearts, "let our sins damn us—just
so that they but please us!" Herod will have his
incestuous lusts—though it costs him his soul. For
a drop of pleasure
—men will drink a sea of wrath!
These massacre and damn their own souls!

"A wicked man’s iniquities entrap him; he is entangled
 in the ropes of his own sin. He will be lost because of
 his great stupidity." Proverbs 5:22-23

Oh! take heed of murdering your own souls!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

How may we know whether we love God?

(Thomas Watson, "The Ten Commandments")

How may we know whether we love God?

He who loves God desires His presence. Lovers cannot be
long asunder, they soon have their fainting fits, for lack
of a sight of the object of their love. A soul deeply in love
with God desires the enjoyment of Him. David was ready
to faint away, when he had not a sight of God. "My soul
faints for God." Psalm 84:2

He who loves God, does not love sin. "You who love the
Lord—hate evil." Psalm 97:10. The love of God—and the
love of sin, can no more mix together than iron and clay.
Every sin loved, strikes at the being of God. He who loves
God, has an antipathy against sin. He who would part two
is a hateful person. God and the believing soul are
two lovers; sin parts between them, therefore the soul is
implacably set against sin. By this try your love to God.
How can he say he loves God, who loves sin—which is
God's enemy?

He who loves God is not much in love with anything else.
His love is very cool to worldly things. The love of the world
eats out the heart of piety; it chokes holy affections, as earth
puts out the fire. He who loves God—uses the world but
God. The world engages him—but God delights
and satisfies him. He says as David, "God, my exceeding
joy!" Psalm 43:4. "God is the cream of my joy!"

He who loves God cannot live without him. Things we love,
we cannot be without. A man can do without music or flowers,
but not food. Just so, a soul deeply in love with God looks upon
himself as undone without Him. "Hide not Your face from me,
lest I be like those who go down into the pit." Psalm 143:7.
If God is our chief good—we cannot live without Him! Alas!
how do they show they have no love to God—who can do
well enough without Him! Let them have but food and drink,
and you shall never hear them complain of the lack of God.

He who loves God will be at any pains to get Him. What
pains the merchant takes, what hazards he runs—to have
a rich return. Jacob loved Rachel, and he could endure the
heat by day, and the frost by night—that he might enjoy her.
A soul that loves God will take any pains for the fruition of
Him. "My soul follows hard after You." Psalm 63:8. The soul
is much in prayer; it strives as in agony, that he may obtain
Him whom his soul loves. "I will seek Him whom my soul
loves." Canticles 3:2.

He who loves God, prefers Him before estate. "For Whom
I have suffered the loss of all things." Phil 3:8. Who that
loves a rich jewel—would not part with a flower for it?

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The queen of graces

(Thomas Watson, "The Ten Commandments")

"You must love the Lord your God with all your heart,
 all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and
 greatest commandment." Matthew 22:37-38

Love to God is a holy expansion or enlargement of
soul, by which it is carried with delight after God, as
the chief good—"a delight in God, as our treasure."

Love is the soul of religion; it is a momentous grace.
If love is lacking, there can be no true religion in the
heart. All else is but pageantry—merely a devout
to God.

Love ameliorates and sweetens all the duties of
religion; it makes them savory food, which God
delights in.

As to the excellence of this grace—love is the first and
great commandment. Love is the queen of graces; it
outshines all others, as the sun outshines the planets. 

Love is the most durable grace. Faith and hope will shortly
cease—but love will remain. Thus love carries away the
garland from all other graces, as it is the most long-lived
grace. Love is a bud of eternity!

Love to God must be pure and genuine. He must be loved
chiefly for Himself. We must love God, not only for His benefits
—but for those intrinsic excellencies with which He is crowned.
We must love God—not only for the good which flows from Him
—but for the good which is in Him. True love is not mercenary;
he who is deeply in love with God, needs not be hired with
rewards, he cannot but love God for the beauty of His holiness.
Though it is not unlawful to look for benefits, we must not love
God for His benefits alone—for then it is not love of God, but

Love to God must be with all the heart. We must
not love God a little—give Him a drop or two of our
love; but the main stream must flow to Him.

The mind must think of God,
the will must choose Him,
the affections must pant after Him.

God will not have the heart divided. We must love Him
with our whole heart. Though we may love the creature
—yet it must be a subordinate love. Love to God must
be highest, as oil swims above the water.

Love to God must be flaming. To love coldly, is the
same as not to love. The spouse is said to be, "love-sick."
Canticles 2:5. The seraphim are so called, because of their
burning love. Love turns saints into seraphim; it makes
them burn in holy love to God. Many waters cannot
quench this love.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Mercy swims to us through Christ's blood!

(Thomas Watson, "The Ten Commandments")

Every link in the golden chain of salvation,
is wrought and interwoven with free grace!

God's love is free. "I will love them freely." Hosea 14:4

Election is free. "He has chosen us in Him according
to the good pleasure of His will." Ephesians 1:5

Justification is free. "Being justified freely by His
grace." Romans 3:24

God's saving MERCY is free and spontaneous. To
set up merit—is to destroy mercy. We do not deserve
mercy, because of our enmity. We may force God to
us—but not to love us! If God would show
mercy only to such as deserve it—He would show
mercy to none!

Mercy is an innate propensity in God to do good
to distressed sinners. Mercy proceeds primarily,
and originally from God. He is called the "Father
of mercies." 2 Corinthians 1:3

God's saving mercy is powerful. How powerful is that
mercy—which softens a heart of stone! Mercy changed
Mary Magdalen's heart, out of whom seven devils were
cast. She who was an inflexible adamant—was made a
weeping penitent!

God's mercy works sweetly—yet irresistibly. It allures
—yet conquers!
The law may terrify—but mercy mollifies.
Of what sovereign power and efficacy is that mercy, which
subdues the pride and enmity of the heart, and beats off
those chains of sin, in which the soul is held!

God's mercy is superabundant. The Lord has treasures of
mercy in store, and therefore is said to be "plenteous in mercy"
(Psalm 86:5), and "rich in mercy" (Eph 2:4). The vial of God's
wrath, only drops—but the fountain of His mercy, runs. The
sun is not so full of light—as God is of mercy. His mercy is
over-flowing and ever-flowing. His mercy is infinite—without
bounds, and without end. "His mercy endures forever." Psalm
136. Every time we draw our breathwe suck in mercy!

We are all living monuments of God's mercy! He shows
mercy to us in daily supplying us. He supplies us with health.
Health is the sauce which makes life sweeter. How those who
are chained to a sick-bed, would prize this mercy! God supplies
us with provisions. "God who fed me all my life long." Gen 48:15.
Mercy spreads our tables, and carves for us every bit of bread
we eat! We never drink, but in the golden cup of mercy!

God shows mercy in restraining us from sin. Lusts within—
are worse than lions without! The greatest sign of God's anger,
is to give men up to their sins. "So I gave them up to their own
hearts' lust." Psalm 81:12. While the ungodly sin themselves to
, God has laid the bridle of restraining grace upon us! As God
said to Abimelech, "I withheld you from sinning against Me." Gen
20:6. Just so, God has withheld us from those sins which might
have made us a prey to Satan, and a terror to ourselves!

God shows mercy in guiding and directing us. He guides our
affairs for us; and chalks out the way He would have us to walk.
"You shall guide me with Your counsel." Psalm 73:24. God leads
us with the oracles of His Word, and the guidance of His Spirit.
He guides our heads to keep us from error; and He guides our
feet to keep us from scandal. Oh, what mercy it is—to have God
to be our guide and pilot!

God shows mercy in correcting us. He is angry—in love.
He smites—that He may save. His rod is not a rod of iron
to break us—but a fatherly rod to humble us. "God disciplines
us for our good—that we may share in His holiness." Hebrews
12:10. In our afflictions—God will mortify some corruption, or
exercise some grace.

God shows mercy in saving us. "According to His mercy,
He saved us." Titus 3:5. This is the top-stone of mercy!
Here mercy displays itself in all its orient colors. Mercy is
mercy indeed, when God perfectly refines us from all the
lees and dregs of corruption; when our bodies are made
like Christ's glorious body, and our souls like the angels.
Saving mercy is crowning mercy. It is not merely to be
freed from hell—but enthroned in a kingdom! What rich
mercy will it be—to fully possess God, to see His smiling
face, and to lay in His bosom forever! This will fill us
with "a glorious, inexpressible joy!" 1 Peter 1:8. God's
saving mercy, is the diamond in the ring!

Mercy more overflows in God—than sin in us. His mercy
can drown great sins—as the sea covers great rocks!
Christ's blood is "a fountain to cleanse them from all
their sins and defilement." Zech 13:1. Some of the Jews
who had their hands imbrued in Christ's blood—were
saved by that blood! God loves to magnify His mercy,
and display the trophies of free grace!

How may I know that my sins are pardoned? Whenever
God removes the guilt of sin—He breaks the power of sin.
"He will have compassion; he will subdue our iniquities."
Mic 7:19. With pardoning love—God gives subduing grace.

If we would have saving mercy, it must be through Christ.
Outside of Christ, there is no saving mercy. We read in the
old law, that none might come into the holy of holies, where
the mercy-seat stood—but the high-priest. This signifies that
we have nothing to do with mercy—but through Christ our
High-priest. That the high-priest might not come near the
mercy-seat without blood, is to show that we have no right
to mercy—but through the expiatory sacrifice of Christ's
blood, Lev 16:14. If we would have mercy, we must be in
. Mercy swims to us through Christ's blood!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The afflictions of the godly

(Thomas Watson, "The Ten Commandments")

How do the afflictions of the godly, differ from
the afflictions of the wicked?

(1) The
afflictions of the godly are but corrections;
but those on the wicked are punishments. The one
come from a Father; the other from a Judge.

(2) The afflictions of the godly are fruits of covenant
mercy. Afflictions on the wicked are effects of God's
wrath. Afflictions on the wicked are the pledge of
hell; they are like the shackling of a malefactor,
which presages his execution.

(3) The afflictions of the godly make them better;
but afflictions on the wicked make them worse. The
godly pray more; "Out of the depths I cry to you,
O Lord." Psalm 130:1. The wicked blaspheme more.
"Men were scorched with great heat—and blasphemed
the name of God." Revelation 16:9.

Affliction on the godly is like bruising spices—which
makes them give off a most sweet and fragrant aroma.
Affliction on the wicked is like pounding weeds with
a pestle—which makes them give off a foul stench.

It is a sign the affliction is sanctified, when the heart
is brought to a sweet submissive frame.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Why must there be a hell?

(Thomas Watson, "The Ten Commandments")

"The wicked shall be turned into hell." Psalm 9:17

"How can you escape the damnation of hell?" Matthew 23:33

God has built hell built on purpose, for the damned to lie in.

See the dreadfulness of that place! Hell is the epitome of
Besides "the punishment of loss," which is the exclusion
of the soul from the gloried sight of God, which some think is
the worst part of hell—there will be "the punishment of sense."

In hell there will be a plurality of torments:
There will be the "chains of darkness." 2 Peter 2:4.
There will be the "never-dying worm." Mark 9:48.
    This is the worm of conscience.
There will be the "lake of fire." Revelation 20:15.
Other fire is but 'painted fire'—compared to this.

This house of hell is haunted with devils! Matt 25:41.
Anselm says, "I had rather endure all torments, than
see the devil with bodily eyes." Such as go to hell, must
not only be forced to behold the devil—but must be shut
up with this lion in his den! They must keep the devil
company! This red dragon is full of spite—and will spit
fire in men's faces!

The torments of hell abide forever! "The smoke of their
torment ascends up forever and ever." Rev. 14:2. Time
cannot finish hell. Tears cannot quench hell. Mark 9:44.
The wicked will always live in the fire of hell—but never
be consumed. After they have lain millions of years in hell,
their punishment is as far from ending, as it was at the
beginning! If all the earth and sea were sand, and every
thousandth year a bird should come, and take away one
grain—it would be a long time before that vast heap would
be removed! Yet, if after all that time the damned might
come out of hell—there would be some hope; but this
word FOREVER breaks the heart!

If anyone should ask, where is hell? I wish he may never
know experimentally. "Let us not so much," says Chrysostom,
"labor to know where hell is—as how to escape it."

Why must there be a hell? Because there must be a place
for the execution of divine justice. Earthly monarchs have their
prison for criminals—and shall not God have his? Sinners are
criminals, they have offended God. It would not be consistent
with His holiness and justice—to have His laws infringed, and
not inflict penalties.

How does it seem to comport with God's justice—to punish
a sin committed in a moment
—with eternal torment?

1. Because there is an eternity of sin in man's nature. They
will continue to sin in hell. "Men gnawed their tongues in
agony and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains
and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they
had done." Revelation 16:10-11

2. Because sin is "committed against an infinite majesty,"
and therefore the sin itself is infinite, and proportionally
the punishment must be infinite.

3. Because a finite creature cannot satisfy infinite wrath,
he must be eternally paying what he can never pay.

"Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath!" 1 Thess 1:10
What infinite cause have they to bless God—who are delivered
from hell! Jesus Christ suffered the torments of hell in His soul
—that believers should not suffer them. Oh, how should we
bless God to be preserved from the wrath to come!

It may cause more thankfulness in us, to realize that most
people go to hell
when they die. To be of the number of
those few who are delivered from hell—is matter of infinite
thankfulness. "Wide is the gate and broad is the road that
leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small
is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only
a few find it." Matthew 7:13-14

"Divide the world," says one, "into thirty-one parts, nineteen
parts of it are Jews and Turks, and seven parts are heathen;
so that there are but five parts of professing Christians—and
among these, so many deceived Papists on the one hand, and
so many formal Protestants on the other—that we may
conclude that the major part of the world goes to hell.

Scripture compares the wicked to "the mire in the streets."
Isaiah 10:6. Few precious jewels are in the street—but you
cannot go a step without meeting with mire! The wicked are
as common as the dirt in the street! The devil has most of
the harvest—and God has only a few gleanings. Oh, then,
such as are delivered from hell, have infinite cause to admire
and bless God. How should the vessels of mercy run over with
thankfulness! When most others are carried as prisoners to
hell—they are delivered from the wrath to come!

How shall I know if I am delivered from hell?

(1) Those whom Christ saves from hell—He saves from sin.
"He shall save His people from their sins." Matthew 1:21.
Has God delivered you from the power of corruption, from
pride, malice, and lust? If He has delivered you from the
hell of sin, He has delivered you from the hell of torment.

(2) If you prize, trust and love Christ—you are delivered
from hell and damnation. "There is no condemnation to
those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1. If you are in
Christ, He has put the garment of His righteousness over
you—and hell-fire can never singe it!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

How did those swine run!

(Thomas Watson, "The Ten Commandments")

"Then they may come to their senses and escape
 the Devil's trap, having been captured by him to
 do his will." 2 Timothy 2:26.

Men naturally are enslaved to Satan. Satan is called
the prince of this world (John 14:30); and the god
of this world
(2 Cor 4:4); because he has power to
command and enslave his dupes. Though he shall
one day be a fellow prisoner in chains—yet now he
insults and tyrannizes over the souls of men. Sinners
are under his rule, he exercises a jurisdiction over
them. He fills men's heads with error—and their
with malice. "Why has Satan filled your
heart?" Act 5:3. A sinner's heart is the devil's
mansion house
. "I will return into my house."
Matthew 12:44

Satan is a comprehensive tyrant.

He rules men's minds, he blinds them with ignorance.
"The God of this world has blinded the minds of those
who believe not." 2 Cor 4:4.

He rules their memories. They remember that which
is evil, and forget that which is good. Their memories
are like a strainer, which lets go all the pure—and
retains only the dregs.

He rules their wills. Though he cannot force the will,
he draws it. "You are of your father
the devil, and the
lusts of your father—you will do." John 8:44. He has
control over their hearts, and they willingly obey him.
His strong temptations draw men to evil—more than
all the promises of God can draw them to good.

This is the state of every man by nature—the devil
has him in his power!
A sinner grinds in the devil's
He is at the command of Satan—as the donkey is
at the command of the driver.

How did those swine run—when the devil entered
into them! "They entered the swine. And suddenly the
whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea
and perished in the water!" Matthew 8:32

It is a dreadful and dismal case, to be under the
power and tyranny of Satan!
He wholly possesses
them. If people should see their pets bewitched and
possessed by the devil, they would be much troubled;
and yet, though their souls are possessed by Satan,
they are not sensible of it! What can be worse, than
for men to be in bondage to the devil, and him hurry
them on in their lusts—to perdition! Yet they are
willingly enslaved to Satan! They love their gawler!

What an infinite mercy it is—when God brings poor
souls out of this house of bondage, when He gives them
a deliverance from the prince of darkness.

As David rescued a lamb out of the lion's mouth—so Christ
rescues souls out of the mouth of the roaring lion!
Oh, what
a mercy it is—to be turned "from the power of Satan, unto
God" (Acts 26:18) to be brought out of the house of bondage,
from being Satan's captives—to be made subjects of the
Prince of Peace!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

A bundle of ridiculous ceremonies!

(Thomas Watson, "The Ten Commandments")

"Flee from idolatry!" 1 Corinthians 10:14

It is idolatry, not only to worship a false god—but
to worship the true God in a false manner.

See the goodness of God to our nation, in delivering us
from popery, which is Romish idolatry—and causing the
light of His truth to break forth gloriously among us. In
former times, England was overspread with idolatry.
We had . . .
  the idolatrous mass,
  prayers to saints and angels,
  and image-worship.

What is the popish religion, but a bundle of ridiculous
Their candles, beads, crucifixes; what are
these but Satan's policy, to dress up a carnal worship,
fitted to carnal minds!
Oh! what cause have we to bless
God for delivering us from popery! It was a mercy to be
delivered from the Spanish invasion; but it is a far greater
mercy to be delivered from the popish religion!

"What have I to do any more with idols?" Hosea 14:8  

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

(The following was written by Whitmore Winslow
in 1853, at the age of 18, after visiting a Roman
Catholic Cathedral in France

The whole structure seemed to look down upon
you in conscious magnificence, and is intended
to inspire you with awe and reverence.

In England, we do not know what Popery really is!
We imagine it to be something repulsive, and cannot
conceive how people can be deceived by it. But once
to witness it as it really is, with its gorgeous pomp,
you are admitted to the secret of its power.

No system could possibly have been invented more
captivating to the senses, or better adapted to the
natural heart.

It allows its devotee free scope to sin, while covering
him with a cloak of religion.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Many dig their graves, with their teeth!

(Thomas Watson, "The Duty of Self-Denial" 1675)

More are hurt by excess in lawful things—than by
meddling with sinful things. More are killed by wine
—than by poison. Many make their belly their god,
Philippians 3:19. And to this god, they pour their
drink offerings!

One writes of a fish whose heart is in his belly.
This is an emblem of epicures—whose heart is
in their belly; they are devoted to their appetite.
Excess in food or drink—
  clouds the mind,
  chokes holy affections,
  provokes lust, and
  shortens life!

Many dig their graves, with their teeth!

Seneca could say he was born to higher things—than to
be a slave to his body. What a shame is it—that the soul,
that princely part, which sways the scepter of reason,
should be enslaved to the brutish part! What has God
given conscience for—but to be a golden bridle to check
the inordinacy of the appetite! Deny the sinful cravings
of the flesh!

"I beat my body and make it my slave." 1 Cor. 9:27

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

High, supercilious thoughts of yourselves

(Thomas Watson, "The Duty of Self-Denial" 1675)

"Vain man would be wise." Job 11:12

In the Hebrew it is "Empty man!" Man is a proud
piece of flesh!
He is apt to have a high opinion of

Such as view themselves in the flattering looking-glass
of self-love
, appear bigger in their own eyes than they
are! They think their spark—is a sun! They think their
—is a sea!

That you may deny all high, supercilious thoughts
of yourselves
, consider that self-conceit is a great sin.
Chrysostom calls it "the mother of hell." It is a kind of
idolatry, a self-worshiping. This should pull down the
plumes of pride and self-conceit!

"What makes you better than anyone else? What do you
 have that God hasn't given you? And if all you have is
 from God, why boast as though you have accomplished
 something on your own?" 1 Corinthians 4:7

Consider that, whatever noble endowments you have,
are borrowed. What wise man would be proud of a
jewel which was lent to him? The moon has no cause
to be proud of her borrowed light.

Consider what a hell of sin you carry about you! Sin is
the accursed thing, Joshua 5:13. It is the quintessence
of evil. It was typified by the menstrual cloth, which
was the most unclean thing under the Law. This may
demolish all proud imaginations.

Grace can never thrive where pride and self-conceit grow.
As a body with cancer cannot thrive—so neither can the
soul thrive, which is cancered with pride and self-conceit.
A proud head—makes a barren heart!

A supercilious conceitedness is odious to God. The more
one values himself—the less God values him. Such as
have a high opinion of their own excellencies, are on the
fast track to eternal ruin! The Lord sometimes lets vain,
conceited people fall—not only foully, but finally! "The
doves," says Pliny, "take pride in their feathers, and in
their flying high. But they soar so high, that they are
prey to the hawk!" Just so, when men fly high in pride,
they become prey to the prince of the air!

All this should make us kill the worm of self-conceit!

Let Paul be our pattern. Though he was the chief of the
Apostles, he says, "I am less than the least of all God's
Ephesians 3:8. "I am nothing." 2 Corin. 12:11.
This illustrious Apostle, a star of the first magnitude,
shrank into nothing in his own eyes!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Gone so soon without a trace!

(Thomas Watson, "The Godly Man's
Picture Drawn with a Scripture Pencil")

"Redeeming the time." Ephesians 5:16

How you spend your time, is a matter of great
importance. Many people fool away their time—
some in idle visits, others in recreations and
pleasures which secretly bewitch the heart, and
take it away from holy things. What are our
golden hours
for—but to attend to our souls?
Time misspent is not time lived—but time lost!

Time is a precious commodity. As salvation is to
be worked out in it, and a conveyance of heaven
depends on using it well—it is of infinite concern!

Think of your short stay in the world. "We are here
for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land
as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth
are like a shadow—gone so soon without a trace!"
1 Chronicles 29:15

There is only a span between the cradle and the grave!
Solomon says there is "a time to be born and a time to
die"—but mentions no time of living—as if that were so
short, it was not worth naming!

Time, when it has once gone, can never be recalled.

"My life passes more swiftly than a runner. It flees away,
filled with tragedy. It disappears like a swift boat, like an
that swoops down on its prey." Job 9:25-26

This Scripture compares time to a flying eagle. Yet time
differs from the eagle in this: the eagle flies forward and
then back again—but time has wings only to fly forward
—it never returns! "Time flies away irrevocably."

The serious thoughts of our short stay here in this world,
would be a great means of promoting godliness. Whoever
considers how flitting and winged his life is—will hasten
his repentance.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Desiring God

(Thomas Watson, "The Lord's Prayer")

We may know the kingdom of grace is set up in
our hearts—by having true desires after God. By
the beating of this pulse—we conclude there is life.

A true desire after God is sincere. We desire God for
Himself, for His intrinsic excellencies. The savor of the
ointment of Christ's graces draws the virgins' desires after
Him. Canticles 1:3. A true saint desires Him not only for
what God has—but for what He is; not only for His rewards
—but for His holiness. No hypocrite can thus desire God.
He may desire Him for His jewels—but not for His beauty!

A true desire after God is insatiable. It cannot be satisfied
without God; let the world heap her honors and riches—they
will not satisfy. No flowers or music will content him who is
thirsty. Just so, nothing will quench the soul's thirst—but the
blood of Christ!
He faints away, his heart breaks with longing
for God. Psalm 84:2; Psalm 119:20.

A true desire after God is active. It flourishes into endeavor.
"With my soul have I desired you in the night; yes, with my
spirit within me will I seek you early." Isaiah 26:9. A soul that
desires aright says, "I must have Christ! I must have grace!
I must have heaven, though I take it by storm!"

A true desire after God is supreme. We desire Christ, not
only more than the world—but more than heaven! "Whom
have I in heaven but You?" Psalm 73:25. Heaven itself would
not satisfy—without Christ. Christ is the diamond in the ring
of glory!

A true desire after God is increasing. A little of God will not
satisfy—but the pious soul desires still more. A drop of water
is not enough for the thirsty traveler. Though a Christian is
thankful for the least degree of grace—yet he is not satisfied
with the greatest degree of grace. He still thirsts for more of
Christ, and His Spirit. A saint would have more knowledge,
more sanctity, more of Christ's presence. A glimpse of Christ
through the lattice of an ordinance is sweet; but the soul will
never stop longing—until it sees Him face to face! It desires to
have grace perfected in glory! It desires to be wholly plunged
into the sweetness of God. We would be swallowed up in God,
and be forever bathing ourselves in those perfumed waters of
pleasure, which run at His right hand!

Surely this sincere desire after God is a blessed sign that the
kingdom of grace has come into our hearts. The beating of
this pulse shows life! "Desires for God—are from God." If iron
moves upwards contrary to its nature—it is a sign some magnet
has been drawing it. Just so, if the soul moves towards God in
sincere desires—it is a sign the magnet of the Spirit has been
drawing it!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Satan's workshop!

(Thomas Watson, "The Lord's Prayer")

"May Your kingdom come." Matthew 6:10

When we pray, "May Your kingdom come," we pray
that the kingdom of grace may come into our hearts.
"The kingdom of God is within you." Luke 17:21.

Why is grace called a kingdom? Because, when
grace comes, there is a kingly government set up in
the soul. Grace rules the will and affections, and brings
the whole man in subjection to Christ. Grace . . .
  kings it in the soul,
  sways the scepter,
  subdues mutinous lusts, and
  keeps the soul in a spiritual decorum.

Unless the kingdom of grace is set up in our hearts—

our purest offerings are defiled. They may be good
as to the matter—but not as to the manner; they
lack that which would meliorate and sweeten them.
Until the kingdom of grace is in our hearts, our good
works do not purify us—but we pollute them! Even
the prayer of an ungracious person is sin.
Lord hates the sacrifice of the wicked." Proverbs 15:8.

A sinner's best works are 'opera mortua'dead
And those works which are dead, cannot please
God. A dead flower has no sweetness. Hebrews 11:6.

Unless the kingdom of grace is set up in our hearts—

we are loathsome in God's eyes. "My soul loathed them."
Zech 11:8. A heart void of grace looks blacker than
hell. Sin transforms man into a devil. So deformed is a
graceless person, that when once he sees his own
filth and leprosy,
the first thing he does is to loathe
and abhor himself. "You shall loathe yourself in your
own sight for all your evils!" Ezekiel 20:43.

Unless the kingdom of grace is set up in our hearts—

we are of the bastard brood of the old serpent—and
so cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven! "You
are the children of your father the Devil!" John 8:44.

Unless the kingdom of grace is set up in our hearts—

the kingdom of Satan is set up in them! They are said
to be under "the power of Satan." Acts 26:18. Satan
commands the will—by his subtle temptations he can
draw it. He is said to take men captive "at his will."
2 Tim 2:26.

The sinner's heart is the devil's mansion-house. "I will
return into my house." Matthew 12:44. The sinner's heart
is Satan's workshop, where he works. "Satan, the mighty
prince of the power of the air, who now works in the children
of disobedience." Eph 2:2. The members of the body are the
tools with which Satan works. He possesses men. In Christ's
time many had their bodies possessed—but it is far worse to
have the souls possessed. One is possessed with an impure
devil, another with a revengeful devil, another with a
devil, etc.

The ship goes full sail when the wind blows. Just so, men
go full sail in sin when the devil, the prince of the air, blows
them! Thus, until the kingdom of grace comes—men are
under the power of Satan, who writes all his laws in blood.

Unless the kingdom of grace is set up in our hearts—we
are exposed to the wrath of God. What will it be—when
God stirs up all His anger? So inconceivably torturing is
God's wrath, that the wicked call to the rocks and mountains
to fall on them and hide them from it. Rev 6:16. The hellish
torments are compared to a fiery lake. Rev 20:15. Other fire
is but painted fire—in comparison with this! This lake of fire
burns forever. Mark 9:44. God's breath kindles this fire. Isa
30:33. Where shall we find buckets to quench it? Time will
not finish it; tears will not quench it. To this fiery lake men
are doomed—until the kingdom of grace is set up in them.
Hell follows death!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

All this, and unspeakably more!

(John MacDuff, "The Christian's Pathway" 1858)

"Receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of
 your souls
." 1 Peter 1:9

The full and final salvation of our souls, embraces
the whole of what God has in reserve for His people
through eternity! It includes the enjoyment of
those pleasures . . .
  which no sin can ever pollute,
  which no sorrow can ever becloud,
  which no time can ever impair,
  which no change can ever affect,
  which no calamity can ever destroy!

The full and final salvation of our souls, includes . . .
  whatever the infinite wisdom of God can devise;
  whatever the infinite love of God can prepare;
  whatever the infinite power of God can secure;
  complete deliverance from the bondage of corruption;
  entire emancipation from the power of every foe;
  the body of sin and death forever left behind;
  every grace, grown to perfect maturity;
  all the ineffable treasures of eternal glory;
  all this, and unspeakably more!

Welcome shame and sorrow—if such an end shall at
length be ours! The ungodly world may despise us;
even our nearest friends may forsake us. Yet we can
well afford to bear their opposition without a single
murmur, if we are only permitted to cherish the hope
—that our course will eventually terminate in so blissful
a consummation!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

He welcomes them to hell

(Thomas Watson, "The Lord's Prayer")

"The prince of this world." John 16:11

The devil has a kingdom. His throne is set up in
the hearts of men. Satan does not care for their
—but their hearts! Satan's empire is very
large. Most people in the world pay tribute to him.

His kingdom has two characters:

[1] Satan's kingdom is a kingdom of IMPIETY.
Nothing but sin goes on in his kingdom. Murder
and heresy, lust and treachery, oppression and
division—are the constant trade driven in his
dominions. He is called "the unclean spirit."
Nothing else but iniquity is propagated in
his kingdom.

[2] Satan's kingdom is a kingdom of SLAVERY.
He makes all his subjects—slaves. The sinner is
held captive under the grim tyranny of the devil!

Satan is a tyrant—and a worse tyrant than any
other! Other tyrants do but rule over the body:
but Satan rules over the soul! He rides his
captives—as we ride upon horses.

Other tyrants have some pity on their slaves.
Though they make them work in the galleys;
yet they give them food, and let them have
their hours for rest. But Satan is a merciless
tyrant—who gives his slaves poison instead of
food, and hurtful lusts to feed on! 1 Tim 6:9.
Nor will he let his slaves have any rest—he
wearies them out to do his drudgery. "They
weary themselves to commit iniquity." Jer 9:5.
When men have served him to their utmost
strength—he welcomes them to hell with fire
and brimstone! Thus he is the worst of tyrants.

Men are willing slaves to Satan! They will fight
and die for him! Therefore he is not only called
"the prince of this world," but "the god of this
world" (2 Cor 4:4), to show what power he has
over men's souls.

O let us pray that "they may come to their senses
and escape the Devil's trap, having been captured
by him to do his will." 2 Timothy 2:26

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Sharp arrows!

(Thomas Watson, "The Lord's Prayer")

"Our Father in heaven." Matthew 6:9

If God is our Father, then however He treats His
children, is done in love. If He frowns; if He dips
His pen in gall, and writes bitter things; if He
disciplines—it is all done in love! "For the Lord
disciplines the one He loves, and punishes every
son whom He receives." Hebrews 12:6

A father loves his child as well when he chastises and
disciplines him—as when he settles his inheritance on
him! "Those whom I love—I rebuke and discipline."
Rev 3:19. "Afflictions are sharp arrows—but they
are shot from the hand of a loving Father!"

Correction is God's gymnasium. Correction is God's
school of character
. God afflicts His children—in love!
He does it to humble and purify. Gentle correction is
as necessary as daily bread! There is love in all! God
—that He may save! "God disciplines us for our
good, that we may share in His holiness." Heb. 12:10

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Let your light shine!

(John MacDuff, "The Christian's Pathway" 1858)

"Let your light shine before men, so that they may
 see your good works and give glory to your Father
 in heaven." Matthew 5:16

There are many things connected with the Christian's
pathway—which worldlings cannot comprehend. They
know nothing of the high and hidden walks of spiritual
experience. What is said of the workings of the divine
life in the soul—is regarded by them as foolishness
and fanaticism.
  Its internal principles,
  its constraining motives and impulses,
  its heavenly aspirations,
  its rapturous bliss, and
  its agonizing struggles—are things which
these strangers cannot comprehend!

But still, there is much which they are able to
understand—such as . . .
  whatever is consistent in character;
  whatever is honest and straightforward between men;
  whatever is kind and compassionate in behavior;
  whatever is forbearing and forgiving under insults
     and injuries.
Such features, when unostentatiously exhibited—excite
their attention, and, generally, call forth their praise. The
manner in which the ordinary duties of life are discharged,
is something so tangible—that it lies within the province of
their own observation. These things they can understand;
and it is of the highest importance that all who profess to
be Christians, should be distinguished by an exhibition of
these practical fruits of righteousness.

What if a small band of Christians were placed in some
locality, by whom the principles of the gospel were fully
lived out.
What a powerful effect, we may suppose, would
their simple presence produce! Let them be connected with
those around them—by the ordinary engagements of life;
but without employing any direct means to promulgate
their Christian views. There they are—"blameless and pure,
children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved
generation." Their hearts are filled, not merely with love
to God—but with sincere and ardent affection for all by
whom they are surrounded. Selfishness, pride, resentment,
censoriousness—have no place among them. Their entire
spirit and deportment are influenced and controlled by
those noble, and generous, and god-like sentiments and
feelings, which Christianity inculcates and inspires. The holy
religion they profess, would appear in its true character and
beneficent tendency; and men would be constrained by the
good works which they beheld—to glorify God.

May the Lord strengthen you with all might, according to
His glorious power—"that you may live a life worthy of the
Lord and may please Him in every way—bearing fruit in
every good work, growing in the knowledge of God!"

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

It will not matter a single straw!

(John MacDuff, "The Christian's Pathway" 1858)

"We labor, that we may be accepted of Him." 2 Corinthians 5:9

Reader, it will matter but little what you may possess—if you live and
die destitute of this great blessing! Were you to attain everything that
mankind regard as enviable; were all the treasures of the globe to be
heaped upon you; were you endowed with all knowledge, so that the
wisest sages would think it an honor to sit at your feet; were the most
magnificent titles to be conferred upon you, and your fame to ring to
earth's remotest bounds; were you raised to the heights of universal
, having all the nations of the world as your willing subjects; in
a word, had you all that the most unbounded ambition in her loftiest
heights and most extravagant wishes ever panted after—what would
the whole be if, instead of being accepted of God, you were disowned
and rejected by Him, and exposed to His everlasting wrath!

But, enjoying His favor, which is life; and His loving-kindness, which
is better than life—it matters but little whether we are rich—or poor;
whether the sun of prosperity shines—or the clouds of adversity lower;
whether we are reveling in health—or stretched upon beds of languishing;
whether we are toiling as slaves—or wearing crowns and diadems. After
a few more rising and setting suns—
it will not matter a single
—what our earthly lot may have been! The only matter of
importance then—will be whether we have been accepted of God.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Lord, dig the earth out of my heart!

(Thomas Watson, "The Ten Commandments")

"You shall not covet." Exodus 20:17

Observe the holiness and perfection of God's law, which forbids the first motions and risings of sin in the heart. The laws of men take hold of actions; but the law of God goes further—it forbids not only sinful actions—but sinful desires. These lusts and desires after the forbidden fruit are sinful.

The world is an idol. It is lawful to use the world, yes, and to desire so much of it as may keep us from the temptation of poverty; and as may enable us to honor God with works of mercy. But the danger is—when the world gets into the heart! Water is useful for the sailing of the ship; the danger is—when the water gets into the ship.

What is it to covet? It is an insatiable desire of getting the world; or an inordinate love of the world.

(1) A man may be said to be given to covetousness, when his thoughts are wholly taken up with the world. A godly man's thoughts are in heaven; he is thinking of Christ's love and eternal recompense. "When I awake I am still with You," that is, in divine contemplation. Psalm 139:18. A covetous man's thoughts are in the world; his mind is wholly taken up with it; he can think of nothing but his shop or farm. The imagination is a mint-house, and most of the thoughts in a covetous man's mint are worldly. He is always plotting and projecting about worldly things. "Their mind is on earthly things." Philippians 3:19

(2) A man may be said to be given to covetousness, when he takes more pains for getting earth than for getting heaven. He will take many a weary step for the world; but will take no pains for Christ or heaven. A covetous man, having had a relish of the world, pursues after it, and never ceases until he has got it; but he neglects the things of eternity. He hunts for the world—but he only wishes for heaven.

(3) A man may be said to be given to covetousness, when all his discourse is about the world. "He who is of the earth, speaks of the earth." John 3:31. It is a sign of godliness to be speaking of heaven, to have the tongue tuned to the language of Canaan. "The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious;" he speaks as if he had been already in heaven. So it is a sign of a man given to covetousness to speak always of secular things, of his wares and business. A covetous man's breath, like a dying man's, smells strong of the earth. As it was said to Peter, "Your speech betrays you;" so a covetous man's speech betrays him. He is like the fish in the gospel, which had a piece of money in its mouth. Matt 17:27. "The words are the looking-glass of the heart," they show what is within. "The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks." Luke 6:45.

(4) A man is given to covetousness when he so sets his heart upon worldly things, that for the love of them, he will part with heaven. For the "wedge of gold," he will part with the "pearl of great price." When Christ said to the young man in the gospel, "Sell all, and come and follow Me", "He went away sorrowful." Matt 19:22. He would rather part with Christ than with his earthly possessions. Cardinal Bourbon said, he would forego his part in paradise, if he might keep his cardinalship in Paris. When they will rather part with Christ and a good conscience than with their estate, it is a clear case that they are possessed with the demon of covetousness! "Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world." 2 Timothy 4:10

(5) A man is given to covetousness, when he overloads himself with worldly business. When a man does not have time for his soul, he is under the power of covetousness.

(6) He is given to covetousness whose heart is so set upon the world, that, to get it, he cares not what unlawful means he uses. He will have the world by fair means or foul; he will wrong and defraud, and raise his estate upon the ruins of another. Pope Sylvester II sold his soul to the devil for a popedom.

The DANGER of covetousness. "Take heed and beware of covetousness!" Luke 12:15. It is a direct breach of the tenth commandment. It is a moral vice, it infects and pollutes the whole soul.

(1) Covetousness is a SUBTLE sin. It is a sin that many cannot so well discern in themselves. This sin can dress itself in the attire of virtue. It is called the "cloak of covetousness." 1 Thess 2:5. It is a sin which wears a cloak, it cloaks itself under the name of frugality and good taste. It has many pleas and excuses for itself; more than any other sin—such as providing for one's family.

(2) Covetousness is a DANGEROUS sin. It checks all that is good. It is an enemy to grace; it damps holy affections, as the earth puts out the fire. The hedgehog, in the fable, came to the cony-burrows, in stormy weather, and desired harbor; but when once he had got admission, he set up his prickles, and never ceased until he had thrust the poor conies out of their burrows! Just so, covetousness, by fair pretenses, winds itself into the heart; but as soon as you have let it in, it will never leave until it has choked all good beginnings, and thrust all piety out of your hearts. "Covetousness hinders the efficacy of the Word preached."

In the parable of the sower, the thorns, which Christ expounded to be the cares of this life—choked the good seed. Matt 13:22. Many sermons lie dead and buried in earthly hearts. We preach to men to get their hearts in heaven; but where covetousness is predominant, it chains them to earth, and makes them like the woman which Satan had bent down for eighteen years, so that she was unable to stand up straight. Luke 13:11. You may as well bid an elephant fly in the air—as a covetous man live by faith. We preach to men to give freely to Christ's poor; but covetousness makes them like the man in the gospel, who had "a withered hand." Mark 3:1. They have a withered hand, and cannot stretch it out to the poor. It is impossible to be earthly-minded and charitably-minded. Covetousness obstructs the efficacy of the Word, and makes it prove abortive. Those whose hearts are rooted in the earth, will be so far from profiting by the Word, that they will be ready rather to deride it. The Pharisees, who were covetous, "derided Him." Luke 16:14.

(3) Covetousness is a MOTHER sin. It is a radical vice. "The love of money is the root of all evil." 1 Tim 6:10. "O accursed lust for gold! what crimes do you not urge upon the human heart!" Virgil. He who has an earthly itch, a greedy desire of getting the world, has in him the root of all sin. Covetousness is a mother sin. Covetousness breaks the first commandment; "You shall have no other gods but one." The covetous man has more gods than one; Mammon is his God. He has a god of gold, therefore he is called an idolater. Col 3:5. The mammonist covets his neighbor's house and goods, and endeavors to get them into his own hands. Thus you see how vile a sin covetousness is!

(4) Covetousness is a DISHONORABLE sin to religion. For men to say their hopes are above—while their hearts are below; to profess to be above the stars—while they "lick the dust" of the serpent; to be born of God—while they are buried in the earth; how dishonorable is this to religion! The lapwing, which wears a little coronet on its head, and yet feeds on dung, is an emblem of such as profess to be crowned kings and priests unto God, and yet feed immoderately on earthly dunghill comforts. The higher grace is, the less earthly should Christians be; as the higher the sun is, the shorter is the shadow.

(5) Covetousness is a DAMNING sin. It exposes us to God's abhorrence. "The covetous, whom the Lord abhors." Psalm 10:3. A king abhors to see his statue abused, so God abhors to see man, made in His image, having the heart of a beast. Who would live in such a sin—as makes him abhorred of God? Whom God abhors He curses, and His curse blasts wherever it comes!

Covetousness brings men to eternal ruin, and shuts them out of heaven. "This you know, that no covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God." Eph 5:5. What could a covetous man do in heaven? God can no more converse with him—than a king can converse with a swine! "Those who will be rich fall into a snare, and many hurtful lusts, which drown men in perdition." 1 Tim 6:9. A covetous man is like a bee that gets into a barrel of honey, and there drowns itself. As a ferry-man, to increase his fare, takes in too many passengers, that he sinks his boat; so a covetous man takes in so much gold to increase his estate, that he drowns himself in perdition! I have read of some inhabitants near Athens, who, living in a very dry and barren island, took much pains to draw a river to the island to water it and make it fruitful; but when they had opened the passages, and brought the river to it, the water broke in with such force, that it drowned the land, and all the people in it. This is an emblem of a covetous man, who labors to draw riches to him, and at last they come in such abundance, that they drown him in perdition! How many, to build up an estate, pull down their souls! Oh, then, flee from covetousness!

The CURE for covetousness.

(1) Faith. "This is the victory that overcomes the world—even our faith." 1 John 5:4. The root of covetousness is distrust of God's providence. Faith believes that God will provide; that He who feeds the birds will feed His children; that He who clothes the lilies will clothe His lambs; and thus faith overcomes the world. Faith is the cure of care. It not only purifies the heart—but satisfies it; it makes God our portion, and in Him we have enough. Faith, by a divine chemistry, extracts comfort out of God. A little, with God—is sweet. Thus faith is a remedy against covetousness; it overcomes, not only the fear of the world—but the love of the world.

(2) The second remedy is, judicious considerations. Ah, what poor things, are these earthly things—that we should covet them! We covet that which will not satisfy us. "He who loves silver, shall not be satisfied with silver." Eccl 5:10. Solomon had put all the creatures in a scale, and distilled out their essence, and behold—"All was vanity!" Eccl 2:11. A man with dropsy—"the more water he drinks, the more he craves." Just so, the more a covetous man has of the world, the more he thirsts. Worldly things cannot remove trouble of mind. When King Saul was perplexed in conscience, his crown jewels could not comfort him. 1 Sam 28:15.

The things of the world can no more ease a troubled spirit—than a gold cap can cure the headache! The things of the world cannot continue with you. The creature has a little honey in its mouth—but it has wings to fly away. Earthly things either leave us—or we leave them! What poor things are they to covet!

(3) The third remedy for covetousness is to covet spiritual things more. Covet grace, for it is the best blessing, it is the seed of God. Covet heaven, which is the region of perfect happiness—the most pleasant climate. If we covet heaven more—we shall covet earth less! To those who stand on the top of the Alps, the great cities of Campania seem but as small villages; so if our hearts were more fixed upon the Jerusalem above, all worldly things would disappear, would diminish, and be as nothing in our eyes. We read of an angel coming down from heaven, and setting his right foot on the sea, and his left foot on the earth. Rev 10:2. Had we been in heaven, and viewed its superlative glory, how would we, with holy scorn, trample with one foot upon the earth and with the other foot upon the sea! O covet after heavenly things! There is the tree of life, the mountains of spices, the rivers of pleasure, the honeycomb of God's love dropping, the delights of angels, and the flower of joy, fully ripe and blown. There is the pure air to breathe in; no fogs or vapors of sin arise to infect that air—but the Sun of Righteousness enlightens the whole horizon continually with His glorious beams. O let your thoughts and delights be always taken up with the city of pearls, the paradise of God! Were our hearts raised by the power of the Holy Spirit up to heaven, we would not be much absorbed with earthly things.

(4) The best remedy for covetousness is contentment. Be content! "In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well-fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need." Philippians 4:12. The best way to be contented, is to believe that condition to be best, which God by His providence carves out to you. If He had seen fit for us to have more—we would have had it. Perhaps we could not manage a great estate. It is hard to carry a full cup without spilling—and a full estate without sinning! Great estates may be snares! There is no better antidote against coveting that which is another's—than being content with that which is our own.

(5) Pray for a heavenly mind. "Lord, let the loadstone of Your Spirit draw my heart upward. Lord, dig the earth out of my heart! Teach me how to possess the world, and not love it; how to hold it in my hand, and not let it get into my heart!"

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Cheer up, my friend!

(The following is excerpted from a letter written on November 16, 1838, and was published in the 'Gospel Standard Magazine')

Dear friend,
O the pleasure, wonder, and delight when the dear Comforter brings to my remembrance the way He has led me these forty years in this dreary wilderness—the helps He has afforded me; His never-failing mercy in supplying me; His omnipotent power in keeping me; His unwearied patience  in bearing with my devilish, crooked ways; His never-failing faithfulness, notwithstanding all my unbelief. It is of His mercies and His unfailing compassion—that I am not consumed. I am confident that it is because He changes not, that such a worm as I am—is not consumed. For I am sure there never was such a stubborn, refractory, stupid, rebellious, proud, presumptuous, blind fool as I am!

My dear friend, it is here where my poor soul wishes to be living and dying—enrapt up in the bosom of everlasting love! O what sweetness to have drops out of this fathomless sea, this boundless river! And, if the drops are so sweet, so soul ravishing, so sin subduing, so devil conquering, so world vanquishing, and so God glorifying; what must it be to be brought to the fountain-head! What must it be, to be delivered forever from a cursed body of sin and death, out of the reach of all the fiery darts of the devil
! What must it be, to have no nights, no clouds, no storms, no afflictions, no frowns forever and ever! There it will be an eternity of God's smiles, an eternity of immortal pleasure—and not one moment of pain nor grief forever and ever!

O sweet home, heavenly rest—"where the wicked cease from troubling," and the poor, tempted, tossed, tried, weary soul shall be forever at rest—undisturbed forever! O that the dear Comforter may bless us with foretastes of this heavenly kingdom, where we shall sing together, notwithstanding all our present sinkings, murmurings, frettings, wanderings, groanings, and sighings! All that either the world, flesh, or devils have done, can do, or ever shall do—shall never be able to pluck us out of the hands of everlasting love!

Cheer up, my friend, though it is through much tribulation—it is unto the kingdom of God! Though it is through fire and water—it is into a wealthy place! Though it is through a terrible wilderness, through pits, traps, and snares—it is into a land flowing with milk and honey! Though it is through so many fainting fits, so sickly and faint at times—it is into a land where there never is any sickness, for the inhabitants there never are sick.

Blessed be our dear Lord—He picked us up out of the ruin of the fall—unasked, unsought for, unthought of—and deadened us to all the pleasures and joys that we once lived and delighted in. He has burned up our rags of righteousness and made us sick of them in our very hearts—and brought us to long, pant, and thirst for His holy righteousness. He has given us many blessed drops and tokens of His love—that He is ours, and that we are His!

O blessed Lord, do help us, do keep us, do lead us, and do guide us by Your counsel—and afterwards receive us to glory!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

She is a common sewer!

(Thomas Watson, "The Ten Commandments". This selection is longer, but it is needful in our immoral society. Though it particularly addresses adultery, it easily applies to any kind of immorality. This is the best article I have ever read, on how to deal with lust. Every man struggles with lust—so please forward this on.)

"You shall not commit adultery."
Exodus 20:14

This commandment is set up as a hedge to keep out impurity; and those who break this hedge—a serpent shall bite them! The fountain of this sin is lust. God is a pure, holy being, and has an infinite antipathy against all impurity. We must take heed of running on the rock of impurity, and so making shipwreck of our chastity. The meaning of the commandment is not only that we should not stain our bodies with immorality—but that we should keep our souls pure. To have a chaste body—but an unclean soul, is like a beautiful face with a cancerous heart. "Be holy, for I am holy." 1 Peter 1:16.

There is a mental adultery. "Whoever looks on a woman to lust after her, has committed adultery with her already in his heart." Matthew 5:28. As a man may die of an inward bleeding—so he may be damned for the inward boilings of lust, if it is not mortified. That I may deter you from the sin of adultery, let me show you the great evil of it.

(1) Adultery is a thievish sin. It is the highest sort of theft. The adulterer steals from his neighbor, that which is more than his goods and estate; he steals away his wife from him!

(2) Adultery debases a person. It makes him resemble the beasts; therefore the adulterer is described like a horse neighing. "Everyone neighed after his neighbor's wife." Jeremiah 5:8. It is worse than brutish; for some creatures which are void of reason—yet by the instinct of nature, observe some decorum and chastity. The turtle-dove is a chaste creature, and keeps to its mate. And the stork, wherever he flies, comes into no nest but his own. Naturalists write that if a stork, leaving his own mate, joins with any other, all the rest of the storks fall upon it, and pull its feathers from it. Adultery is worse than brutish, it degrades a person of his honor.

(3) Adultery pollutes. The devil is called an unclean spirit. Luke 11:24. The adulterer is the devil's first-born; he is unclean; he is a moving quagmire. He is all over ulcerated with sin; his eyes sparkle with lust; his mouth foams out filth; his heart burns like mount Etna, in unclean desires. He is so filthy, that if he dies in this sin, all the flames of hell will never purge away his immorality! And, as for the adulteress, who can paint her black enough? The Scripture calls her a deep ditch. Proverbs 23:27. She is a common sewer! The body of a harlot is a walking dung-hill, and her soul a lesser hell!

(4) Adultery is destructive to the body.
"Afterward you will groan in anguish when disease consumes your body." Proverbs 5:11. Immorality turns the body into a hospital, it brings foul diseases, and eats the beauty of the face. As the flame wastes the candle, so the fire of lust consumes the body. The adulterer hastens his own death. "So she seduced him with her pretty speech. With her flattery she enticed him. He followed her at once, like an ox going to the slaughter or like a trapped stag, awaiting the arrow that would pierce its heart. He was like a bird flying into a snare, little knowing it would cost him his life!" Proverbs 7:21-23.

(5.) Adultery is a drain upon the purse; it wastes not the body only—but the estate.
"Keeping you from the immoral woman, from the smooth tongue of the wayward wife. Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes, for the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread, and the adulteress preys upon your very life!" Proverbs 6:24-26. Whores are the devil's horse-leeches, sponges that suck in money. The prodigal son spent his inheritance, when he fell among harlots. Luke 15:30. The concubine of King Edward III, when he was dying, got all she could from him, and even plucked the rings off his fingers.

(6) Adultery destroys reputation.
"But the man who commits adultery is an utter fool, for he destroys his own soul. Wounds and constant disgrace are his lot. His shame will never be erased!" Proverbs 6:32, 33. Wounds of reputation—no physician can heal. When the adulterer dies, his shame lives. When his body rots underground, his name rots above ground. His bastard children are living monuments of his shame.

(7) Adultery impairs the mind.
It steals away the understanding; it stupefies the heart. "Whoredom and wine take away the heart." Hosea 4:11. It eats all purity out of the heart. Solomon besotted himself with women, and they enticed him to idolatry.

(8) Adultery incurs temporal judgments.
The Mosaic law made the penalty for adultery, to be death. "The adulterer and adulteress shall surely be put to death;" and the usual death was stoning. Lev 20:10; Deut. 22:24. The Salons commanded people guilty of this sin, to be burnt. The Romans caused their heads to be stricken off. Like a scorpion—this sin carries a sting in its tail. "For jealousy arouses a husband's fury, and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge!" Proverbs 6:34. The adulterer is often killed in the act of his sin. "Lust's practice is to make a joyful entrance—but she leaves in misery." I have read of two in London, who, having defiled themselves with adultery, were immediately struck dead with lightening from heaven. If all who are now guilty of this sin were to be punished in this manner, it would rain fire again, as on Sodom.

(9) Adultery, without repentance, damns the soul.
"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor homosexual offenders . . . will inherit the kingdom of God!" 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. The fire of lust, brings to the fire of hell. "God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral!" Hebrews 13:4. Though men may neglect to judge them—yet God will judge them! He will judge them assuredly; they shall not escape the hand of justice; and He will punish them severely. The harlot's breasts keeps from Abraham's bosom! "The delight lasts a moment—the torment an eternity!" Who for a cup of pleasure—would drink a sea of wrath! "Her guests are in the depths of hell." Proverbs 9:18. The harlot is perfumed with powders, and lovely to look on—but poisonous and damnable to the soul! "She has cast down many wounded, yes, many strong men have been slain by her." Proverbs 7:26.

(10) The adulterer does all he can, to destroy the soul of another—and so kills two at once!
He is worse than the thief; for, suppose a thief robs a man, yes, and also takes away his life— the man's soul may be happy; he may go to heaven as well as if he had died in his bed. But he who commits adultery, endangers the soul of another, and does all he can, to deprive her of salvation. What a fearful thing it is—to be an instrument to draw another to hell!

(11) The adulterer is abhorred of God.
"The mouth of an adulteress is a deep pit; he who is abhorred by the Lord, will fall into it." Proverbs 22:14. What can be worse than to be abhorred by God? God may be angry with His own children; but for God to abhor a man—is the highest degree of hatred! The immoral person stands upon the threshold of hell; and when death gives him a push—he tumbles in!

All this should sound a warning in our ears, and call us off from the pursuit of so damnable a sin as immorality. Hear what the Scriptures say: "Her house is the way to hell." Proverbs 7:27.

I shall give some directions, by way of antidote, to keep from the infection of this sin.

(1) Do not come into the company of a whorish woman; avoid her house, as a seaman does a rock. "Run from her! Don't go near the door of her house!" Proverbs 5:8. He who would not have the plague, must not come near infected houses; every whore-house has the plague in it. Not to avoid the occasion of sin, and yet pray, "Lead us not into temptation," is, as if one should put his finger into the candle, and yet pray that it may not be burnt!

(2) Look to your eyes. Much sin comes in by the eye. "Having eyes full of adultery." 2 Pet 2:14. The eye tempts the imagination, and the imagination works upon the heart. A lustful amorous eye, may usher in sin. Eve first saw the tree of knowledge—and then she took. Gen 3:6. First she looked—and then she loved. The eye often sets the heart on fire; therefore Job laid a law upon his eyes. "I made a covenant with my eyes—not to look with lust upon a young woman." Job 31:1.

(3) Look to your lips. Take heed of any unclean word which may enkindle unclean thoughts in yourselves or others. "Evil communications corrupt good manners." 1 Cor. 15:33. Impure discourse, is the bellows to blow up the fire of lust. Much evil is conveyed to the heart by the tongue. "Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth!" Psalm 141:3.

(4) Look in a special manner to your heart. "Guard your heart with all diligence." Proverbs 4:23. Every person has a tempter in his own bosom! "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, adultery, all other sexual immorality." Matthew 15:19. Thinking of sin, makes way for the act of sin. Suppress the first risings of sin in your heart. As the serpent, when danger is near—guards his head, so keep your heart, which is the spring from whence all lustful motions proceed.

(5) Look to your attire. We read of the attire of a harlot. Proverbs 7:10. A wanton dress is a provocation to lust. A painted face, and half-naked breasts, are allurements to immorality. Where the sign is hung out—people will go in and taste the liquor. Jerome says, "those who by their lascivious attire endeavor to draw others to lust, though no evil follows—are tempters—and shall be punished, because they offered the poison to others, even though they would not drink."

(6) Take heed of evil company. Sin is a very contagious disease; one person tempts another to sin, and hardens him in it. There are three cords which draw men to immorality:
the inclination of the heart,
the persuasion of evil company, and
the embraces of the harlot. This threefold cord is not easily broken. "A fire was kindled in their company." Psalm 106:18. The fire of lust is kindled in bad company.

(7) Beware of going to theaters and plays. A play-house is often a preface to a whorehouse. "Plays furnish the seeds of wickedness." We are bid to avoid all appearance of evil; and are not plays the appearance of evil? Such sights are there, which are not fit to be beheld with chaste eyes. A learned divine observes, that many have on their death-beds confessed, with tears, that the pollution of their bodies has been occasioned by going to plays.

(8) Take heed of mixed dancing. "Dances are instruments of lust and wantonness." From dancing, people come to dalliance with another, and from dalliance to immorality. "There is," says Calvin, "for the most part, some unchaste behavior in dancing." Dances draw the heart to immorality—by wanton gestures, by unchaste touches, and by lustful looks. Chrysostom inveighed against mixed dancing in his time. "We read," he says, "of a marriage feast—but of dancing there—we read not." Matthew 25:7. Many have been ensnared by dancing. "Dancing is not the conduct of a chaste woman—but of the adulteress," says Ambrose. Chrysostom says, "Where dancing is, there the devil is!"

(9) Take heed of lascivious books and pictures, which provoke to lust. As the reading of the Scripture stirs up love to God, so reading vile books stirs up the mind to wickedness. To lascivious books I may add lascivious pictures, which bewitch the eye, and are incendiaries to lust! They secretly convey poison to the heart.

(10) Take heed of excess in diet. When gluttony and drunkenness lead the van, immorality and wantonness bring up the rear. "Wine inflames lust." "Sodom's sins were pride, laziness, and gluttony." Ezekiel 16:49. The foulest weeds grow out of the fattest soil. Immorality proceeds from excess. "When I had fed them to the full, everyone neighed after his neighbor's wife." Jer. 5:8. Get the "golden bridle of temperance." God allows the refreshment of nature, and what may fit us the better for his service; but beware of surfeit. Excess in temporal things—clouds the mind, chokes good affections, and provokes lust. "I discipline my body and bring it under strict control." 1 Cor. 9:27. The flesh pampered—is liable to immorality.

(11) Take heed of idleness. When a man is idle, he is ready to receive any temptation. The devil sows most of his seeds of temptation in fallow ground. Idleness is the cause of sodomy and immorality. "Sodom's sins were pride, laziness, and gluttony." Ezekiel 16:49. When David was idle on the top of his house, he espied Bathsheba, and committed adultery with her. 2 Samuel 11:4. Jerome gave his friend counsel to be always well employed in God's vineyard, that when the devil came, he might have no leisure to listen to temptation.

(12) To avoid fornication and adultery, let every man have a chaste, entire love to his own wife. Ezekiel's wife was the desire of his eyes. Ezekiel 24:16. When Solomon had dissuaded from immoral women, he prescribed a remedy against it. "Rejoice with the wife of your youth." Proverbs 5:18. It is not having a wife—but loving a wife— which makes a man live chastely. He who loves his wife, whom Solomon calls his fountain, will not go abroad to drink of muddy, poisoned waters. Pure marital love is a gift of God, and comes from heaven; but, like the vestal fire, it must be nourished, so that it does not go out. He who does not love his wife, is the likeliest person to embrace the bosom of a harlot.

(13) Labor to get the fear of God into your hearts. "By the fear of the Lord, men depart from evil." Proverbs 16:6. As the embankment keeps out the water, so the fear of the Lord keeps out immorality. Such as lack the fear of God, lack the bridle which should check them from sin! How did Joseph keep from his mistress' temptation? The fear of God pulled him back! "How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God!" Genesis 39:9. Bernard calls holy fear, "the door-keeper of the soul." As a nobleman's porter stands at the door, and keeps out vagrants, so the fear of God stands and keeps out all sinful temptations from entering.

(14) Take delight in the Word of God. "How sweet are your words unto my taste." Psalm 119:103. Chrysostom compares God's Word to a garden. If we walk in this garden, and suck sweetness from the flowers of the promises, we shall never care to pluck the "forbidden fruit." "Let the Scriptures be my pure pleasure," says Augustine. The reason why people seek after unchaste, sinful pleasures—is because they have nothing better. Caesar riding through a city, and seeing the women play with dogs and parrots, said, "Surely, they have no children." So those who sport with harlots, have no better pleasures. He who has once tasted Christ in a promise, is ravished with delight; and he would  scorn a temptation to sin! Job said, that the Word was his "appointed food." Job 23:12. No wonder then, that he made a "covenant with his eyes."

(15) If you would abstain from adultery, use serious consideration.

    [1] Consider that God sees you in the act of sin! He sees all your curtain wickedness. He is totus oculus—"all eye." The clouds are no canopy, the night is no curtain—to hide you from God's eye! Whenever you sin—your Judge looks on! "I have seen your detestable acts—your adulteries and your neighings." Jer. 13:27. "They have committed adultery with their neighbors' wives. I know it and am a witness to it! declares the Lord." Jer. 29:23.

    [2] Consider that few who are entangled in the sin of adultery, ever recover from the snare. "None that go to her return again." Proverbs 2:19. This made some of the ancients conclude that adultery was an unpardonable sin; but it is not so. David repented. Mary Magdalene was a weeping penitent; upon her amorous eyes which sparkled with lust, she sought to be revenged, by washing Christ's feet with her tears! Some, therefore have recovered from this snare. "None that go to her return," that is, "very few." It is rare to hear of any who are enchanted and bewitched with the sin of immorality, who recover from it. "I find more bitter than death the woman who is a snare, whose heart is a trap and whose hands are chains. The man who pleases God will escape her, but the sinner she will ensnare." Eccl. 7:26. Her "heart is a trap," that is, she is subtle to deceive those who come to her; and "her hands are chains," that is her embraces are powerful to hold and entangle her lovers. This consideration should make all fearful of this sin. Soft pleasures, harden the heart.

    [3] Consider what Scripture says, which may lay a barricade in the way to this sin. "I will be a swift witness against the adulterers." Malachi 3:5. It is good when God is a witness "for us", when He witnesses to our sincerity, as He did to Job's; but it is sad to have God as a "witness against us." "I," says God, "will be a swift witness against the adulterer." And who shall disprove God's witness? He is both witness and judge! "God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery." Hebrews 13:4.

    [4] Consider the sad farewell, which the sin of adultery leaves. It leaves a hell in the conscience. "The lips of an immoral woman are as sweet as honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil. But the result is as bitter as poison, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to hell." Proverbs 5:3-5. The goddess Diana was so artfully drawn, that she seemed to smile upon those who came into her temple—but frown on those who went out. So the harlot smiles on her lovers as they come to her—but at last, they come to the frown and the sting! "Until an arrow pierces his liver." Proverbs 7:23. "Her end is bitter."

When a man has been virtuous, the labor is gone—but the comfort remains; but when he has been wicked and immoral, the pleasure is gone—but the sting remains. "He gains momentary pleasure—but after that, eternal torment," says Jerome. When the senses have been feasted with unchaste pleasures, the soul is left to pay the reckoning. Stolen waters are sweet; but, as poison, though sweet in the mouth, it torments the conscience. Sin always ends in tragedy! Sad is that which Fincelius reports of a priest in Flanders, who enticed a young girl to immorality. When she objected how vile a sin it was, he told her that by authority from the Pope, he could commit any sin; so at last he drew her to his wicked purpose. But when they had been together a while, in came the devil, and took away the harlot from the priest's side, and, notwithstanding all her crying out, carried her away! If the devil should come and carry away all who are guilty of immorality in this nation—I fear more would be carried away, than would be left behind!

(16) Pray against this sin. Luther gave a lady this advice, that when any lust began to rise in her heart, she should go to prayer. Prayer is the best armor against sin; it quenches the wild fire of lust. If prayer will "cast out the devil," it will certainly cast out those lusts which come from the devil.

O let us labor for soul purity! To keep the soul pure—have recourse to the blood of Christ, which is the "fountain open, to cleanse from sin and impurity." Zech. 13:1. A soul steeped in the briny tears of repentance, and bathed in the blood of Christ—is made pure! Say, "Lord, my soul is defiled! I pollute all I touch! O purge me with hyssop—let Christ's blood sprinkle me, let the Holy Spirit anoint me. O make me pure, that I may be taken to heaven—where I shall be as holy as You would have me to be—and as happy as I can desire to be!"