Grace Gems for April 2008

Consider what Christ is to you!

(Thomas Vincent, "Love to the Unseen Christ")

Christian! Consider what Christ is to you!

Christ is your Shepherd—He feeds you in green
pastures. He has laid down His life for His sheep.
Will you not love such a Shepherd?

Christ is your Captain—who has conquered all
your enemies for you, and leads you on to take
the spoils. Will you not love such a Leader?

Christ is your Prophet—who teaches you the
most excellent things which ever were taught,
the highest mysteries, the most glorious truths,
which are of the greatest concern to know and
believe! He teaches you in the most excellent
way—by His Word and Spirit; opening your
understandings as well as His truths, giving
you light and an eye to discern this light.
Will you not love such a Teacher?

Christ is your High Priest—who has made an
atoning sacrifice for your sins to reconcile you
unto God. He now makes intercession for you
—which is incessant and prevalent. Will you
not love such an Advocate?

Christ is your King—who rules you most wisely,
righteously and graciously. Will you
not love such a Sovereign?

Christ is your Benefactor—the most kind and
bountiful. No gifts are comparable unto His gifts!
Will you not love such a Friend?

Christ is your Brother—if He is not ashamed
to own you for His brothers and sisters—will it
not be a shame if you should withhold from
Him your hearts?

Christ is your Husband—and you are joined
to Him in such bonds as cannot be broken.
Will not you embrace Him in the arms of
your dearest love?

Christ is your Redeemer—who rescued and
delivered you from sin and Satan, from death
and wrath! He has redeemed you by price, the
price of His blood. Has He not, then, given the
greatest price for your love? He has redeemed
you also by conquest. Shall He not make a
conquest of your hearts?

Surely you are altogether unworthy of these
relations—if you do not present Christ with
your most endeared and choicest affections.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Daily supplies

(Thomas Vincent, "Love to the Unseen Christ")

Such as are very wealthy, are greatly loved by the
poor and indigent—if they find them also to have
large hearts and open hands—ready to distribute
unto their needs and necessities.

Consider Christ's fullness and all-sufficiency. None
have such fullness and plenty as the Lord Jesus
Christ—and none are so willing to give unto the
needs of such as are poor in spirit, and sensible
of their need.

"It has pleased the Father, that in Him all fullness
should dwell!" Colossians 1:19. There is not only
fullness in Him—but all fullness! Not the fullness
of the cistern—but the fullness of the fountain!
Not the fullness only of sufficiency for Himself—but
the fullness of redundancy for His people! Not some
fullness for some good things—but all fullness for
all good things! Not fullness for some time, and to
continue but for awhile—but all fullness dwells in
Him, and abides for all His people throughout all

Christians have need of daily supplies of
Christ's grace. They have need of Christ . . .
  when they are dark—to enlighten them;
  when they are deadened—to quicken them;
  when they are straitened—to enlarge them;
  when they are weak—to strengthen them;
  when they are sad—to comfort them;
  when they are tempted—to support them;
  when they are fallen—to raise them;
  when they are in doubts—to resolve them;
  when they are under fears—to encourage them;
  when they stagger—to establish them;
  when they wander—to restore them!
None but Christ can do all this—and more
than this, for them!

You are empty—Christ is full!
You are poor—Christ is rich!
You are indigent—Christ is all-sufficient!

Christians, will not you love Christ—who is able
to do for you beyond what you are able to ask
or think; and is as willing as He is able to supply
all your spiritual necessities? Will you not love
Christ—who is an overflowing and everflowing
fountain of goodness; who has inexhaustible
treasures of graces and comforts in Him, which
are set open before you, and unto you—and
every day you may freely come and fetch such
jewels out of His treasury as are of higher worth,
and of greater use, than any earthly riches!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Oh, the height! Oh the depth!

(Thomas Vincent, "Love to the Unseen Christ")

"Because of His great love that He had for us!"
    Ephesians 2:4

"We love Him—because He first loved us."
    1 John 4:19

Christian! Christ loves you with the FREEST love.
There are many motives and attractions for your
love to Christ—but Christ's love to you is most free.

There is nothing in yourselves to draw and engage
His love—except your deformity and enmity to Him;
except filthiness which He loathes, and wickedness
which His soul hates; these are the only motives.

There is no man in the world who loves you, but
he finds or fancies something to be a motive to
draw his love to you.
is a motive to some,
is a motive to others,
is a motive to some,
is a motive to others,
near relation
is a motive to some,
dear love
is a motive to others,
is a motive to some,
is a motive to others,
is a motive to some,
is a motive to others,
, whether it is in good or evil,
is a motive to the love of the most.

But Christ's love to you is altogether free!
That which is a motive to men, and induces
their love to you—is no motive to incline the
love of Christ.

The sin which you brought into the world with
you, and the many sins which, since you came
into the world, have been committed by you,
are enough to shut out all motives of love in
Christ, unto whom all sin is so odious and

Whatever motive induces Christ to love you,
it was not drawn from yourselves—but it was
drawn from His own affectionate heart!

Will not this free love of Christ to you—incline
you to love Him? Does He love you most freely,
and will you not love Him most dearly? Did
Christ love you without any motive to draw
His love—and will you not love Christ, in whom
there are so many motives to draw your love?
Did Christ love you with all your sinfulness
and vileness—and will you not love Him in
whom there is such perfect beauty?

Christ's free and sovereign love, is a matter
of the greatest admiration—and should be a
motive for the greatest affection unto Him.

Christ loves you with the TRUEST love.
The love of Christ is not in the least selfish,
and for His own ends. He does not love you
to receive good from you—but that He might
do good unto you. He chiefly He evidences His
love in affliction and adversity. He is a present
help in the time of trouble, and then gives the
most tender demonstrations of His love. He is
touched with the feelings of your infirmities
when you are tempted; and sympathizes with
you in your sorrows when you are afflicted.
He shows His love in visiting you under your
troubles, in supporting you, in relieving you,
and in delivering you. Oh! What love should
you have unto the Lord Jesus Christ—who
loves you with such a true and sincere love!

Christ loves you with the STRONGEST love.
His love is stronger than death. The strength
of Christ's love to you, shows itself in what
He has done for you! It was the strong love of
Christ, which brought Him down from heaven
for you, to assume your nature. What kind of
love was this—that God should become man!
That He who made the world—should be born
of a poor virgin, and all for your sakes!

It was the love of Christ, which made Him lay
down His life for you. John 15:13-14, "Greater
love has no man than this, that a man lay down
his life for his friends. You are My friends!" That
such a person as Christ, so excellent, so innocent
—should undergo death, and such a death as that
of the cross—so disgraceful, so painful; that He
should submit to such ignominy, and endure such
agony—and with such resolution and willingness,
with such submission and patience—and that for
such as you
, who were His enemies—here was
love stronger than death! Oh, the height! Oh
the depth
of this love! There are such depths
in this love of Christ, as the longest line of your
most extended thoughts and imaginations, can
never be able to reach and measure!

"May you experience the love of Christ, though
 it is so great you will never fully understand it!"
     Ephesians 3:19

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

There must be a difference

J. C. Ryle, "The Gospel of Matthew" 1856)

"You are the salt of the earth." Matthew 5:13

"You are the light of the world." Matthew 5:14

Surely, if words mean anything, we are meant
to learn from these two figures, that there must
be something marked, distinct, and peculiar
about our character, if we are true Christians.

It will never do to idle through life, thinking
and living like others, if we mean to be owned
by Christ as His people.

Have we grace? Then it must be seen.

Have we the Spirit? Then there must be fruit.

Have we any saving religion? Then there
must be a difference
of habits, tastes, and
turn of mind, between us and those who think
only of the world.

It is perfectly clear that true Christianity
is something more, than being baptized
and going to church.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Your hearts have gone a-whoring from Him!

(Thomas Vincent, "Christ's manifestation of Himself
unto those who love Him

"I hold this against you: You have forsaken your
 first love!"
Revelation 2:4

Time has been, when worldly affections seemed
to be mortified within you—to be dead and buried.
Many a sore thrust and wound you had given unto
them—and how they bled, and fainted, and grew
so weak—that they seemed to be dying, and you
have thought surely they would never stir much
in you any more. Then your love to Christ was
strong and active—it burned and flamed within
you! And O the zeal which you then had for your
Master's honor!

But now—your affections to Christ are strangely
cooled! If there is the fire of love to Christ still
within you—it is not fire in burning coals, or in
a vehement flame—but it is a fire in a few
scattered sparks, which give neither light nor
heat, and are hardly, if at all, discernable! Your
worldly affections, which seemed to be dead—
have gotten life, and vigor, and strength! O the
eager desire which you now have after the world
and the things in the world! Now the world has
your thoughts in plans about it; and the world
has your tongues in your frequent discourse of it.
Now the world has your hand and your time—but
that which is worst of all—is that the world has
your heart too! The world has jostled Christ
off His throne!
And is it then a wonder—if your
Beloved is offended, because your hearts have
gone a-whoring from Him
—unto the world!
You have lost your first love to Christ! Now your
spiritual joys and comforts are fled out of sight;
they are lost and gone! Your worldly delights
have expelled and banished your spiritual delights!

Your minding and savoring so much the earth and
earthly things—has disrelished your spiritual appetite!
O the mischief which indulged sin has done unto you!
O the deep and dangerous wounds—which sin has
given you! O the defilements of sin in your consciences,
and the stains and blots which sin has cast upon your
profession! O the havoc which sin has made among
your graces, and among your spiritual comforts!

You have still leaves of an outward profession—but
where is your fruit? If you have some fruit—it is
withered and sour fruit—not such ripe and mellow
and sweet fruit, as before in your flourishing estate!

"Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God. Your sins
 have been your downfall! Take words with you and
 return to the Lord. Say to Him—Forgive all our sins
 and receive us graciously!"
Hosea 14:1-2

Remember the height from which you have fallen!
Repent and do the things you did at first!" Rev. 2:5
Ransack your hearts to find out your sins! Humble
yourselves deeply! Repent, and grieve, and mourn!

Then plead with Christ, "Come, Lord Jesus, come
quickly! Make haste, O my Beloved! Make haste to
my soul that thirsts for You—as the wounded deer
thirsts after the cooling and refreshing streams of
the water brooks! O When shall I see You again,
and feed, and feast my soul again with Your love!
When, Lord, O when will You come unto me? Will
You cast me off forever? Shall this curtain always
be drawn before Your face? Truly, Lord, I have
grievously sinned, and greatly offended You; but
do I not truly repent? Is there anything in the
world so grievous unto me—as the remembrance
of my sins against You? I acknowledge my offense,
my folly, and horrid ingratitude! Shall my sins be
always a wall of separation between me and my
Beloved? Are not Your mercies plentiful? Is there
not forgiveness with You—that You may be feared,
and the more dearly beloved? Do You not forgive
freely, without upbraiding? Have You not promised
to be found by all those who diligently seek You?
And did You ever fail in Your word unto any? And
shall I be the first!
I am grieved for my sin—and
ashamed of my folly! Have You not promised to
manifest Yourself unto those who love You? And
do not I love You? You know all things—You know
that I love You! Though my love is imperfect—yet
it is true! Though it is weak—yet it is sincere!
Hasten, my Beloved! O hasten unto me! And be
as a deer upon the mountains of spices! Do not veil
Your face from me any longer! Do not conceal Your
love! O now, draw near, and make me exceeding
glad in the beauty of Your face, and in Your loving

Such desires and pleadings as these, might prevail
with the Lord to return and say unto you, "My dear
child, I have heard your prayers, your desires, and
your cries! Your pleadings have prevailed with Me,
and I am now come unto you—be it done to you
according to your desires! Come, child, and look up!
Here I am! behold Me, behold Me! I assure you that
I am yours—and you are Mine—and shall be Mine

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

This cruel foe will surely seize you!

(Henry Law, "The Gospel in Numbers" 1858)

Satan claims the sinning soul as his. He has
commission to destroy all who are sin-stained.

His eye is keen.

His steps have lightning speed.

His hate is bitter.

He delights to slaughter souls, and
drag them to the beds of flames!

Ah! sinner, tremble!

This cruel foe will surely seize you—unless
you reach some shelter higher far than earth;
some fortress stronger than human arm can

Where shall you flee? Is there a refuge?

Draw near, you guilty sons of men. You need
not die! Approach, all you whom sin oppresses,
whom conscience terrifies, and whom torturing
memory scares.

You may be safe! Flee, all who tremble, lest
your souls should perish! You may have peace.
Fears may be lulled. Anguish may proceed to
joy. You may face every foe, and laugh to
scorn their every threat.

There is a Refuge! It is Christ the Lord.

God has been pleased, in wondrous love, in
overflowing grace, to set Jesus as a sheltering
sanctuary. The word is pledged, that all in Him
are everlastingly secure. "There is therefore
now no condemnation to those who are in
Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1.

Flee to Him! Flee!

Rush to Jesus!

The vilest sinner, nestling in His arms, is safe.
He is as safe as the inhabitants of the highest
heaven; as safe as Jehovah on His throne!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Where is your treasure?

(Matthew Mead, "A Name in Heaven, the Truest
 Ground of Joy")

This is the counsel of the blessed Jesus—"Lay up
for yourselves treasures in heaven!" Matthew 6:20

The treasures of most men are perishing, earthly
treasures; cankered and moth-eaten treasures;
treasures of vanity!

Where is your treasure?

Is it in this world—or in the eternal world?

Is it in present vanities—or in future glory?

Is it in present contentments—or in an
everlasting inheritance?

Is it in food and feasting—or is it in the
light of God's countenance?

Is it in profits, pleasures, and honors
—or is it in grace and glory?

"Where your treasure is—there your
 heart will be also." Luke 12:34

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The unchangeable method of God

(Matthew Mead, "The Almost Christian" 1661)

"I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners
to repentance." Luke 5:32. That is
such as see
themselves as sinners, and thereby in a lost condition.
"For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the
lost." Luke 19:10

God will have the soul truly sensible of the bitterness
of sin
—before it shall taste the sweetness of mercy.
The plough of conviction must go deep, and make
deep furrows in the heart, before God will sow the
precious seed of grace there—so that it may have
depth of earth to grow in.

This is the unchangeable method of God in
bestowing grace—to begin with conviction of sin.
  First to show man his sin—then his Savior;
  first his danger—then his Redeemer;
  first his wound—then his cure;
  first his own vileness—then Christ's righteousness.

The sinner must see the worthlessness and vileness
of his own righteousness—before he can be saved by
righteousness. The Israelites are first stung
with the fiery serpents—and then the brazen serpent
is set up to heal them.

We must see the leprosy of our righteousness, and
be brought to cry out, "Unclean, unclean!" We must
mourn for Him whom we have pierced—and then
He sets open for us "a fountain to cleanse us from
all sin and impurity." Zechariah 12:10, 13:1.

Be convinced of the evil of sin—the filthy and heinous
nature of it. Sin is the greatest evil in the world—
  it wrongs God;
  it wounds Christ;
  it grieves the Holy Spirit;
  it damns a precious soul.
All other evils cannot be compared with this. Though
to DO sin is the worst work—yet to SEE sin is the best
sight! Sin discovered in its vileness—makes Christ to
be desired in His fullness!

Alas! it is Christ's infinite righteousness which
must atone for our sins—for it is an infinite God
whom we have sinned against!

If ever your sin is pardoned—it is Christ's infinite
mercy which must pardon it!

If ever you are reconciled to God—it is Christ's
infinite merit which must do it!

If ever your heart is changed—it is Christ's
infinite power which must effect it!

If ever your soul escapes hell, and is saved at last
—it is Christ's infinite grace which must save it!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The unsaved man's motto

Matthew Mead, "The Almost Christian" 1661)

There is a proud heart in every natural man. There
was much pride in Adam's sin—and there is much of
it in all Adam's sons. Pride is a radical sin, and from
hence arises this over-inflated opinion of a man's
spiritual state and condition.

"The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself:
 God, I thank you that I am not like other men—
 robbers, evildoers, adulterers."
Luke 18:11

This is the unsaved man's motto. A proud man has
an eye to see his beauty—but not his deformity. He sees
his abilities—but not his spots. He sees his seeming
righteousness—but not his real wretchedness.

It must be a work of grace—which must show a man
the lack of grace. The haughty eye looks upward—but
the humble eye looks downward, and therefore this is
the believer's motto,
"I am the least of saints—and
the greatest of sinners!"

"But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared
 not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead,
 he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, 'O God, be merciful
 to me, for I am a sinner!'
I tell you, this sinner, not the
 Pharisee, returned home justified before God!"
    Luke 18:13-14

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~


Spiritual conviction

(Matthew Mead, "The Almost Christian" 1661)

"When He comes, He will convict the world of sin."
    John 16:8

Spiritual conviction reaches to all sins; to sins of
heart—as well as sins of life; to the sin of our nature—
as well as the sins of practice; to the sin which is born
in us—as well as the sin which is done by us. Where
the Spirit of the Lord comes to work effectually in any
soul—He holds the looking-glass of the Word before the
sinner's eyes, and then opens his eyes to look into the
looking-glass, to see all that deformity and filthiness
which is in his heart and nature!

How blind was Paul to his sinfulness—until the Spirit
of the Lord revealed it to him by the Word! The Spirit
alone, can make the sinner see all the deformity and
filthiness which is within! It is He alone, who pulls off
all the sinner's rags, and makes him see his naked
and wretched condition! It is He alone, who shows us:
  the blindness of the mind,
  the stubbornness of the will,
  the disorderedness of the affections,
  the searedness of the conscience,
  the plague of our hearts,
  the sin of our natures,
  the desperateness of our state!

Natural conviction carries the soul out to look more
on the evil which comes as a result of sin—than on the
evil which is in sin. The soul which is under natural
conviction, is more troubled at the dread of hell, and
wrath, and damnation—than at the vileness and
heinous nature of sin!

But spiritual convictions work the soul into a greater
sensibleness of the evil which is in sin—than of the evil
which comes as a result of sin. The dishonor done to
God by walking contrary to His will; the wounds which
are made in the heart of Christ; the grief which the
Holy Spirit is put to—this wounds the soul more than
a thousand hells!

Natural convictions are not durable, they quickly die
out. They are like a slight cut in the skin, which bleeds
a little, and is sore for the moment—but is soon healed
again, and in a few days not so much as a scar is seen.

But spiritual convictions are durable, they cannot
be worn out, they abide in the soul until they have
reached their end—which is the change of the sinner.

The convictions of the Spirit are like a deep wound which
goes to the vital organs, and seems to endanger the life
of the patient, and is only healed by the great skill of the
heavenly Physician. And when it is healed, there are the
tokens of it remaining in the soul, which can never be
worn out!

Spiritual conviction is an essential part of sound conversion.
True conversion begins in convictions—and true convictions
end in conversion. Until the sinner is convinced of sin—he
can never be converted from sin. Christ's coming was as a
Savior to die for sinners. The Spirit's coming is to convince
us of sin—that we may close with Christ as our Savior. So
long as sin is unseen—Christ will be unsought. "Those who
are whole need not the physician—but those who are sick."

Slight convictions, when they are but skin-deep, are the
cause of much hypocrisy. Slight convictions have filled the
church with hypocrites! Nay, this is not only the spring of
hypocrisy—but it is also the spring of apostasy! What was
the cause that the seed was said to wither away? It was
because it had no depth of soil. Just so, where convictions
of sin are slight—there the seed of the Word withers for
lack of depth! But where there is thorough conviction,
there is a depth of soil in the heart—and there the seed
of the Word grows!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Unholy ministers

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

"Watch your life and doctrine closely." 1 Timothy 4:16

Heavenly doctrines should always be adorned with a
heavenly life.

Ministers must preach Christ as well in their life—as in
their doctrine. They must not be hot in the pulpit, and
cold and careless in their lives. The lives of ministers
oftentimes convince more strongly than their words;
their tongues may persuade—but their lives command.

What is it, which renders the things of God so contemptuous
and odious in the eyes of many people—but the ignorance,
looseness, profaneness, and worldliness of those who are the
dispensers of them. Unholy ministers pull down instead
of building up. Oh the souls who their lives destroy! These,
by their loose lives, lead their flocks to hell—where they
themselves must lie lowermost!

Wicked ministers do more hurt by their lives—than
they do good by their doctrine. Every minister's
life should be a commentary upon Christ's life!

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

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The sweet nature of grace

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

Dwell much upon the sweet nature of grace.

Grace begets the greatest joy and sweetness in the
hearts of men, that possibly can be. Grace is a panoply
against all troubles—and a paradise of all pleasures.

Grace is compared to the sweetest things; to sweet spices,
to wine and milk. Grace is a sweet flower of paradise, a
spark of glory, etc. Grace is nourished and maintained by
that sweet Word, which is sweeter than the honey or the
honey-comb, and by sweet union and communion with
the Father and the Son.

Grace is exercised about the sweetest objects, namely—
God, Christ, promises, and future glory.

Grace sweetens all your services and duties. Your best
religious performances are but stinking sacrifices
—if they
are not attended with the exercise of grace. Grace is that
heavenly salt which makes all our services savory and
sweet in the nostrils of God.

Grace is of the greatest and sweetest use to the soul.
It is an anchor at sea, and a shield at land. Grace is a
staff to uphold the soul, and a sword to defend the soul.
Grace is bread to strengthen the soul, and wine to cheer
the soul. Grace is medicine to cure all diseases, and a
plaster to heal all wounds, and a cordial to strengthen
the soul under all faintings, etc. Grace is . . .
  your eye to see for Christ,
  your ear to hear for Christ,
  your head to design for Christ,
  your tongue to speak for Christ,
  your hand to do for Christ, and
  your feet to walk with Christ.

Grace makes men of the harshest, sourest, crabbedest
natures—to be of a sweet, lovely, amiable, pleasing temper.
Grace turns lions into lambs, wolves into sheep, monsters
into men, and men into angels—as you may see in Manasseh,
Paul, Mary Magdalene, Zaccheus, and others.

Yet sometimes grace, in a rugged unhewn nature, is like . . .
  a gold ring on a leprous hand, or
  a diamond set in iron, or
  a jewel in a swine's snout, etc.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Two heavens

(Thomas Brooks, "Heaven on Earth" 1667)

Communion with Christ is that which will make you stand
fast, and triumph over all enemies, difficulties, dangers,
and deaths. Communion with Christ will make a man as
courageous and bold as a lion, yes, as a young lion
which is fearless of any creature.

Communion is a reciprocal exchange between Christ
and a gracious soul. Communion is Jacob's ladder,
where you have Christ sweetly descending down into
the soul—and the soul by divine influences sweetly
ascending up to Christ.

Communion with Christ is . . .
  a sword to defend you,
  a staff to support you,
  a balm to heal you,
  a cordial to strengthen you.

High communion with Christ will yield you two
—a heaven upon earth, and a heaven
after death.

He enjoys nothing—who lacks communion with Christ.

He lacks nothing—who enjoys communion with Christ.

Therefore above all gettings, get communion with
Christ; and above all keepings, keep communion
with Christ. All other losses are not comparable to
the loss of communion with Christ. He who has lost
his communion, has lost his comfort, his strength,
his all, and it will not be long before the Philistines
capture him, and put out his eyes, and bind him
with fetters of brass, and make him grind in a
prison, as they did Samson, in Judges 16:20-21.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The ostrich

Matthew Mead, "The Almost Christian" 1661)

A man may preach like an apostle, pray like an
angel—and yet may have the heart of a devil!

Many have gone to hell, laden with spiritual gifts. No
doubt Judas had great gifts, for he was a preacher of
the gospel. What a grand profession Judas had! He
followed Christ, left all for Christ, he preached the
gospel of Christ, he cast out devils in the name of
Christ, he ate and drank at the table of Christ—and
yet Judas was but a hypocrite!

The Scriptures speak of some who have "a form of
godliness, yet deny the power thereof." That is, they
do not live in the practice of those graces, which they
pretend to profess. He who pretends to godliness by
a specious profession—and yet does not practice
godliness by a holy life, he has a mere form of
godliness—but denies the power.

Grotius compares such to the ostrich, which has
great wings—but yet does not fly. Just so—many
have the wings of a fair profession—but yet do not
use them to mount upward in spiritual affections,
and a heavenly life.

As many go to heaven with the fear of hell in their hearts—
so many go to hell with the name of Christ in their mouths!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

All God's dealings with us

(J. R. Miller, "Home Beautiful", 1912)

"Be silent before the Lord." Psalm 37:7

We are not to speak back to God, when He speaks to
us. We are not to reason with Him or dispute with Him;
but are to bow in silent and loving acquiescence before
Him. "Be still, and know that I am God." It is in those
providences which cut sorely into our lives, and require
sacrifice and loss on our part—that we are especially
called to this duty.

There is a moving illustration of silence to God, in the
case of Aaron when his sons had offered strange fire,
and had died for their disobedience and sacrilege. The
record says, "And Aaron held his peace." He made no
natural human outcry of grief. He accepted the terrible
penalty as unquestionably just—and bowed in the
acquiescence of faith.

This silence to God, should be our attitude in all times
of trial, when God's ways with us are bitter and painful.
Why should we complain at anything that our Father
may do? We have no right to utter a word of murmuring,
for He is our sovereign Lord; and our simple duty is instant,
unquestioning submission. We have no reason to complain
—for we know that all God's dealings with us are in
loving wisdom. His will is always best for us—whatever
sacrifice or suffering it may cost.

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

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The seeds of every wickedness

(J. C. Ryle, "The Gospel of Mark" 1857)

"But Peter insisted emphatically, 'Even if I
have to die with You, I will never disown You!'

And all the others vowed the same." Mark 14:31

See how much ignorant self confidence may
sometimes be found in the hearts of Christians.
The apostle Peter could not think it possible that
he could ever deny his Lord. And he did not stand
alone in his confidence. The other disciples were
of the same opinion. "And all the others vowed
the same."

Yet what did all this confident boasting come to?

Twelve hours did not pass away before all the
disciples forsook our Lord and fled. Their loud
professions were all forgotten. The present
danger swept all their promises of fidelity clean
away. So little do we know how we shall act in
any particular position—until we are placed in it!

Let us learn to pray for humility. "Pride goes before
destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."

There is far more wickedness in all our hearts,
than we know.
We never can tell how far we might
fall—if once placed in temptation. There is no degree
of sin into which the greatest saint may not run—if he
is not held up by the grace of God, and if he does not
watch and pray.

The seeds of every wickedness lie hidden in
our hearts!
They only need the convenient season
to spring forth into a mischievous vitality. "Let him
that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall." "He
who trusts his own heart is a fool.'' Let our daily
prayer be, "Hold me up—and I shall be safe!"

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Dear wife, farewell!

(An excerpt from a letter by Christopher Love,
 to his wife, on the morning of his execution)

My most gracious beloved,
I am now going from a prison to a palace!
I have finished my work. I am now to receive
my wages. I am going to heaven! Rejoice in my
joy. The joy of the Lord is my strength. O, let it
be yours also! Dear wife, farewell! I will call
you wife no more! I shall see your face no more!
Yet I am not much troubled; for now I am going
to meet the Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ,
to whom I shall be eternally married!

Your dying, yet most affectionate friend until death,
Christopher Love,
August 22, 1651, the day of my glorification!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Wrath to come!

(Thomas Vincent, "The Only Deliverer from the Wrath to Come!"
 Or, The Way to Escape the Horrible and Eternal Burnings of Hell) 

"Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come!" 1 Thess. 1:10

By "the wrath to come" we are to understand the infinite wrath of the sin-avenging God—in comparison with which, the wrath of all other creatures in the world is mild, and not in the least to be regarded.

This wrath which is to come, will be most bitter—beyond any gall or wormwood to the taste. This wrath will be most pure—without any allay or mixture of any comfortable ingredients. This wrath will be most plentiful—the treasury of which will be opened in hell, and all the damned will be filled with it abundantly. This wrath will be most weighty—beyond any mountain of lead, to sink sinners down into the bottomless pit. This wrath will be most fierce—and so powerful that all the powers of men and devils shall not be able to make the least resistance. This wrath will be intolerable—and yet must be borne; it will be implacable—so as never to be appeased; and it will be eternal—so as never to be ended!

This wrath will include the punishment of loss—will consist of the loss of the crown, glory, and happiness of heaven, where the righteous shall be admitted to the immediate vision and full fruition of God the chief good, which will fill them with soul-ravishing, inconceivable, and eternal joy. But from this, all the wicked will be eternally shut out, and wholly denied any share in the least of that happiness which, when they come to understand the worth and excellency of it—will above all things be most vexing to them!

This wrath will include the punishment of sense—will consist in the horrible pains and tortures which shall in extreme measure be inflicted upon every part of the bodies of all the wicked, by the most dreadful and unquenchable fire into which they shall be thrown; and the horrible anguish which, through the immediate impressions of God's wrath, shall be inflicted upon every faculty of their souls in hell, where they shall have no ease or release forever! Matthew 25:41, "Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels!" Revelation 14:10-11, "They shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation, and shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends up forever and ever, and they have no rest day or night."

The wicked are vessels fitted by sin for destruction, and prepared for wrath; and therefore they shall be filled with it! God has treasured up wrath for the wicked—as they have treasured up sin! God will give them that which they have so much deserved, and which He has prepared for them. However sinners may vainly hope to flee or hide themselves from the stroke of God's vengeance, yet God's right hand will find all those who hate Him; and He will make them as a fiery oven in the time of His anger, swallow them up in His wrath, and devour them with the fire of His indignation! (Psalm 21:8-9).

The souls of the wicked, as soon as they are loosened by death from the ruinous habitation of their bodies, presently appear before God, are condemned to hell, and are dragged by the devil, hell's jailer, into that prison where they are bound in chains of darkness, filled with horror and anguish until the day of eternal judgment!

Oh, the dread and confusion which the wicked then shall be filled with—when they are summoned and dragged to the tribunal seat of Christ—and there have the books opened before them, where all their sins are written, and which will then be made manifest to the whole world; and when the sentence "Depart, you who are cursed, into everlasting fire!" shall be passed upon them; and when the Lord shall open the treasury of wrath to them, and give them that portion thereof, which is their due; and when they shall see the mouth of hell open beneath them, and a horrible flame issuing forth from there, giving notice of a more horrible fire within which is prepared for them!

Oh, the dread! Oh, the shrieks!
Who can dwell with such devouring fire! Who can inhabit such everlasting burnings! How welcome would a great rock or mountain be—if they could find any that would fall upon them, and hide them from the wrath of the Lamb, and keep off the strokes of God's vengeance, which then will be inflicted upon them!

But, the sentence being pronounced—the execution will follow—and none can escape it! From Christ's tribunal seat, the wicked will be thrown into the fiery prison of hell, where they will be shut down and shut in, and that forever! There they will lie; there they will fry, and there they will cry! Though always dying—they will never die! The fire there will burn most dreadfully and continually, yet will never be extinguished! The wicked will be tormented there, in every part and in extreme measure—and their torment will never be ended!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

What a mine of daily comfort!

(J. C. Ryle, "Looking Unto Jesus!")

"Looking unto Jesus." Hebrews 12:2

If we would look rightly to Jesus—we must look daily to His life of intercession in heaven, as our principal provision of strength and help.

We surely feel that we need Almighty help every day we live. Even when started in the narrow way of life, with pardon, grace, and a new heart—we soon find that, left to ourselves, we would never get safely to our heavenly home. Every returning morning brings with it so much to be done and borne and suffered—that we are often tempted to despair. So weak and treacherous are our hearts, so busy the devil, so persecuting and ensnaring the world; and such poor, weak creatures are we—that we need Almighty help! What are we to do? Where are we to look?

The great Scriptural remedy for all who feel such helplessness as I have faintly described, is to look upward to Christ in heaven, and to keep steadily before our eyes, His intercession at the right hand of God. We must learn to look UPWARD, away from ourselves and our weakness—and upward to Christ in heaven. We must try to realize daily that Jesus not only died for us and rose again, but that He also lives as our Advocate and Intercessor in heaven for us.

This, surely, was the mind of Paul, when he said, "He is able also to save to the uttermost, those who come unto God by Him—seeing He ever lives to make intercession for them." (Heb. 7:25).

Now I venture boldly to express a doubt whether modern Christians "look to Jesus" in this point of view—and make as much as they ought of His life of intercession. It is too often a dropped link in our present-day Christianity. We are apt to think only of the atoning DEATH and the precious blood, and to forget the LIFE and priestly office of our great Redeemer! It ought not to be so. We miss much by this forgetfulness of the whole truth as it is in Jesus.

What a mine of daily comfort there is in the thought—that we have an Advocate with the Father, who never slumbers or sleeps, whose eye is always upon us, who is continually pleading our cause and obtaining fresh supplies of grace for us, who watches over us in every company and place; and never forgets us, though we, in going to and fro, and doing our daily business, cannot always think of Him.

We have a great High Priest in heaven
, who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and who bids us pour out our hearts before Him, and come to Him for grace to help in time of need.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The New Testament Christian

(J. C. Ryle, "Looking Unto Jesus!")

"Looking unto Jesus." Hebrews 12:2

 The Christianity which the world requires, is a Christianity for everyday life. A mere Sunday religion is not enough. A thing put on and off with our Sunday clothes is powerless. A weekly round of forms and ceremonies within consecrated buildings, is not enough. Wise men remember that there is a world of duty and trial, outside the walls of the church, in which they have to play their part. They want something that they can carry with them into that world. A monastic religion will never do. A faith which cannot flourish except in an ecclesiastical hot-house, a faith which cannot face the cold air of worldly business, and bear fruit except behind the fence of retirement and private asceticism—such a faith is a plant which our Heavenly Father has not planted—and it brings no fruit to perfection.

A religion of spasmodic excitement will not do. It may suit weak and sentimental minds for a little season; but it rarely lasts. It lacks bone and muscle, and too often ends in deadness.

The Christianity which the world requires, and the Word of God reveals—is of a very different stamp. It is a useful everyday religion. It is a healthy, strong, manly plant, which can live in every position, and flourish in every atmosphere, except that of sin. It is a religion which a man can carry with him wherever he goes, and never need leave behind him. It will wear, and stand, and prosper in any climate—in winter and in summer, in heat and in cold. Such a religion meets the needs of mankind.

But where is such true Christianity to be found? What are its special ingredients? What is the nature of it? What are its peculiar characteristics? The answer to these questions is to be found in the three words of the text which form the title of this paper. The secret of a vigorous, powerful, everyday Christianity—is to be ever "Looking unto Jesus!"

In the phrase "looking unto Jesus," it is useful and interesting to remember that the Greek word which we render "looking," means "looking off," looking away from other objects to one, only one, and looking on that one with a steady, fixed, intent gaze. And the object we are to look at, you will observe, is a PERSON—not a doctrine, not an abstract theological dogma—but a living Person; and that Person is Jesus the Son of God!

The New Testament Christian was a man who trusted, and loved, a living Divine Person. Of head knowledge, and accurate theological definitions, perhaps he had but little store. Very likely he would have failed a basic exam at one of our theological schools. But one thing he did know—he knew, believed, loved, and would have died for, a living Savior, a real personal Friend in heaven—even Jesus, the crucified and risen Son of God.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~


(Matthew Mead, "The Almost Christian")

"God has set a day on which He is going to judge the world in righteousness." Acts 17:31

Reader! Meditate much on the strictness and suddenness of that judgment-day, through which you must pass, into your everlasting state; wherein God, the impartial judge, will require an exact account at your hands of all your talents and blessings. You must then account . . .
  for time—how you have spent that;
  for estate—how you have employed that;
  for strength—how you have laid out that;
  for afflictions and mercies—how they have been improved;
  for the duties—how they have been discharged;
  and for means of grace—how they have been improved.

Look! how we have sowed here on earth—we shall reap for eternity!

Reader, these are things which above all others, deserve most of, and call loudest for—our utmost care and endeavors; though they are least minded, by most people.

Consider what a spirit of atheism (if we may judge the tree by the fruits—and the principle by the practice) the hearts of most men are filled with, who live, as if
  God were not to be served,
  nor Christ to be sought,
  nor lust to be mortified,
  nor self to be denied,
  nor the Scripture to be believed,
  nor the judgment-day to be minded,
  nor hell to be feared,
  nor heaven to be desired,
  nor the soul to be valued;
but give up themselves to a worse than brutish sensuality, "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!" (Ephesians 4:19). This is a reflection fit enough to break our hearts!

"Know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment!" Ecclesiastes 11:9

"Remember, each of us will stand personally before the judgment seat of God!" Romans 14:10

 "Don't be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap!" Galatians 6:7

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

No vague sentiment

(J. R. Miller, "Being Christians on Weekdays" 1912)

We are too apt to imagine that holiness consists in mere good feeling toward God. It does not! It consists in obedience in heart and life to the divine requirements. To be holy is to be set apart for God and devoted to God's service, "The Lord has set apart him who is godly for himself." But if we are set apart for God in this sense, it necessarily follows that we must live for God. We belong wholly to him, and any use of our life in any other service is sacrilege, as if one would rob the very altar of its smoking sacrifice, to gratify one's common hunger.

Our hands are God's—and can fitly be used only in doing his work. Our feet are God's—and may be employed only in walking in his ways and running his errands. Our lips are God's—and should speak only words which honor him and bless others. Our hearts are God's—and must not be profaned by thoughts and affections which are not pure.

Biblical holiness is no vague sentiment—it is intensely practical. It is nothing less than the bringing of every thought and feeling and act—into obedience to Christ.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Our Father is taking care of us!

(J. R. Miller, "Don't Worry!" 1912)

"Cast all your cares upon Him, because He cares about you!" 1 Peter 5:7

If this world were governed by chance—no amount either of philosophy or of common sense could keep us from worrying; but we know that our Father is taking care of us! No little child in the best and most caring home, was ever carried so carefully or so safely in the love and thought and care of earthly parents—as is the least of God's little ones in the heavenly Father's heart! "So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them!" Matthew 6:31-32. The things we cannot help or change are in His hand, and belong to the "all things" which, we are assured, "work together for good, to those who love God."

In the midst of all the great rush of events and circumstances, in which we can see no order and no design—we well know that each believer in Christ, is as safe as any little child in the arms of the most loving mother!

Amid all life's trials and disappointments—our faith rests upon the character and the infinite goodness of God! We should have the faith of a little child—in a Father whose name is "Love" and whose power extends to every part of His universe! Here we find solid rock upon which to stand, and good reason for our lesson that we should never worry. Our Father is taking care of us!

In a world like ours, there are many things which incline us to worry. There are disappointments which leave the hands empty after days and years of hope and toil. There are resistless thwartings of fondly cherished plans and purposes. There  are bereavements which seem to sweep away every earthly joy. There are perplexities through which no human wisdom can lead the feet. There are experiences in every life—whose natural effect is to disquiet the spirit and produce deep and painful anxiety.

If we are never to worry, what are we to do with these things which naturally tend to cause us worry? The answer is easy—we are to put all these disturbing and distracting things—into the hands of our Father!

"Cast all your cares upon Him, because He cares about you!" 1 Peter 5:7. God is taking care of you—not overlooking the smallest thing, and you have but to cast all your cares and anxiety upon Him—and then be at peace. It is trying to carry our own cares, which produces worry! Our duty is to cast them all upon Christ! This is the secret of heart-peace in the time of distress, from whatever cause.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Does God really care for us?

(J. R. Miller, "Does God Care?" 1912)

"I am poor and needy—yet the Lord thinks upon me!" Psalm 40:17

Did God really care for him? And does God care for us, and think upon us—when we are poor and needy? Does God really care for us, as individuals? Does He give personal thought to any of us—to you, to me—according to our condition? Does pain or trouble in us—cause pity in His heart? Does God care? Does He see the individual in the crowd? When you are passing through some great trouble, enduring pain or adversity—does God know it, and does He care? 

A daughter had a bitter sorrow, a sore disappointment. The mother knew just what her daughter was passing through. Her love for her child, entered into and shared all the child's experiences. The mother cared. Is there ever anything like this in the heart of God—as He looks upon His children and knows that they are suffering?

When we turn to the Bible, we find on every page the revelation—that God does care—and has personal interest in His people.

Christ assured His disciples, that the very hairs of their heads are all numbered; meaning that God personally cares for all the minutest affairs of our lives—He cares for us as individuals. His love is as personal and individual, as the love of a mother for each one of her children.

Paul took the love of Christ to himself—as if he were the only one Christ loved! "He loved me—and gave Himself up for me!" God's love is personal. He cares for us—for me! 

Whatever your need, your trial, your perplexity, your struggle may be—you may be sure that God knows and cares—and that when you come to Him with it, He will take time amid all His infinite affairs, to help you—as if He had nothing else in all the world to do!

God cares! His love for each one of His children is so deep, so personal, so tender—that He has compassion on our every pain, every distress, every struggle. "As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him." Psalm 103:13. God is our Father, and His care is gentler than a human father's—as His love exceeds human love.

Much human care has no power to help—but when God cares—He helps omnipotently. When human friendship can give no relief—then God will come. When no one in all the world cares—then God cares! "Cast all your cares upon Him, because He cares about you!" 1 Peter 5:7

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

A little picture of Christ!

(J. R. Miller, "Transformed by Beholding" 1912)

No sooner do we begin to behold the lovely face of Christ, which looks out at us from the gospel chapters, than a great hope springs up in our hearts. We can become like Jesus! Indeed, if we are God's children, we shall become like Him. We are foreordained to be conformed to His image. It matters not, how faintly the divine beauty glimmers now in our soiled and imperfect lives—some day we shall be like Him! As we struggle here with imperfections and infirmities, with scarcely one trace of Christlikeness yet apparent in our life, we still may say, when we catch glimpses of the glorious loveliness of Christ, "Some day I shall be like that!" "For those He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son!" Romans 8:29. "We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him as He is!" 1 John 3:2.

But how may we now grow into the Christlikeness of Christ? Not merely by our own strugglings and strivings. We cannot make ourselves Christlike by any efforts of our own. Nothing less than a divine power is sufficient to produce this transformation in us.

The Scripture describes the process. "Beholding the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the image of the glory." That is, we are to find the likeness of Christ, and are to look upon it and ponder it, gazing intently and lovingly upon it—and as we gaze we are transformed and grow like Christ!

It is not merely a brief glance now and then that is here implied, not the turning of the eye toward him for a few hurried moments in the early morning or in the late evening—but a constant, loving and reverent beholding of Him through days and years, until His image burns itself upon the soul. If we thus train our heart's eyes to look at Christ, we shall be transformed into His image.

"Beholding we are changed." The verb is passive. We do not produce the change. The marble can never carve itself into the lovely figure which floats in the artist's mind—the transformation must be wrought with patience, by the sculptor's own hands. Just so—we cannot change ourselves into the image of Christ's glory. The work is wrought in us by the Holy Spirit. We simply look upon the image of the Christ, and His blessed light streams in upon us and prints its own radiant glory upon our hearts!

We have nothing to do, but to keep our eyes fixed upon Christ's beauty (as the flowers hold up their faces toward the sun,) and the transformation is divinely wrought in us. It is not wrought instantaneously. At first there are but dimmest glimmerings of the likeness of Christ. We cannot in a single day learn all the long, hard lessons of patience, meekness, unselfishness, humility, joy and peace. Little by little the change is wrought, and the beauty comes out as we continue to gaze upon Christ. Little by little the glory flows into our lives from the radiant face of the Master—and flows out again through our dull lives, transforming them!

If we continue ever beholding the glory, gazing upon it—we shall be mirrors, reflecting Him into whose face we gaze! Then those who look upon our lives will see in us—a dim image at least—a little picture of Christ!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

His life is the textbook

(J. R. Miller, "Uniting with the Church" 1912)

Bible knowledge alone, does not make one a godly Christian. One might know all the great facts and doctrines of the Word of God, might be a profound Bible scholar and a wise theologian—and yet not be an advanced, or even a growing Christian! We are to learn to 'live Christ'—as well as to know the truths about Christ.

Jesus in His teachings, makes a great deal of obedience. "You are My friends—if you do what I command you." John 15:14. We are to learn to be patient, meek, gentle,  compassionate. We are to learn to be humble, kind, unselfish, truthful, sincere. We enter Christ's school to be trained in all the qualities which make up the true Christian life. Jesus is not only the teacherHis life is the textbook which we are to study!

We are to look to His life—to learn just how to live, the kind of character we are to seek to have, and the meaning of the lessons which His words set for us. We are in the school of Christ to be trained in all Christian life and duty. The lessons which the Bible sets for us—we are to live out in common life.

For example, it is not enough to learn from the Beatitudes, that certain qualities are praised by the great Teacher; we are to get the Beatitudes into our own life as quickly and as perfectly as we can. Just so of all the teachings of Christ—they are not for merely knowing—as one learns the fine sayings of favorite literary writers; they are for living! They are to become lamps to our feet and lights to our path, and to be wrought into the web of our character.

We are not to expect perfection in the school of Christ—but we have a right to expect an increasing knowledge of spiritual things, and also spiritual growth in all the qualities which belong to Christian character. We should become more patient, more loving, more unselfish—more like Christ!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Undeserving, ill-deserving, hell-deserving!

(Thomas Vincent, "
Love to the Unseen Christ")

How may I attain great degrees of love to Christ?

Be much in holy contemplation of Christ. Spend time in secret retirement, and there think and think again—of the superlative excellencies and perfections which are in Christ. Think how wonderful and matchless His love is: what heights of His love—which cannot be reached; what depths of His love—which cannot be fathomed; what dimensions of His love—which cannot be comprehended!

O the ravishments of love! O the transports of soul, which some believers have found in their retired thoughts and views of Christ!

"O dear Jesus, how lovely are You in Yourself—the darling of heaven! The delight of the Father! The admiration of angels! O what brightness of glory, what shining luster are You arrayed with! You are clothed with most excellent majesty and honor! You are girded with infinite might and power! The beauty of Your face is most wonderful! The smiles of Your countenance are most sweet and delightful!"

"And does this beauteous One, this fairest of ten thousand, this most excellent and altogether lovely One—bear a special love to me? To such a vile worm as me! To such a dead dog as me! To such an undeserving, ill-deserving, hell-deserving sinner as me! O what marvelous kindness in this! What infinite riches of free grace! Has He given Himself for me, and given Himself to me—and shall not I give Him my heart! Am I written in His book, redeemed with His blood, clothed with His righteousness, beautified with His image! Has He made me His child, and prepared a place in the Father's house for me! O how wonderful! O how astonishing!"

"What shall I render unto Him? What returns shall I make? Had I a thousand tongues—should I not employ them all in speaking His praise? Had I a thousand hearts—should I not present them all, as too poor for a thank-offering unto Him? And yet am I slow—slow of heart, to love this dear and sweet Jesus! Awake, O my soul! Awake from your dullness and stupidity! Shake out the dust of the earth which has gotten into your eyes—and keeps you from the view of your matchless Beloved! Arise, O my soul, unfetter yourself, take the wing, and mount up above the sky and visible heavens—to the place where my lovely and dear Jesus is! Bid farewell to the flattering honors, the deceitful riches, the glancing pleasures—which are here below! Bid adieu to them, and leave them to those who place their chief happiness in them!"

"Why do you hang downwards, O my soul? Why do you bend so much to the earth and earthly things? Everything here below—is altogether unworthy of your love. How empty and vain and thorny—are these worldly things! Do not waste your time—and weary yourself for every vanity! Do not sting and wound yourself with these things anymore!"

"Come, O my soul! Ascend, and soar aloft—with your thoughts, and desires, and loves, and hopes, and joys—unto the heavens! There you may see, and view, and admire, and embrace your dearest Lord Jesus!"

Such retired contemplations of Christ, and soliloquies, and pleadings with your own souls, when alone by yourselves—will tend exceedingly to the promotion of your love unto Christ.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

A mixture of clay, dirt, and corruption

(Thomas Vincent, "Love to the Unseen Christ")

"Yes! He is altogether lovely! This is my Beloved, this my Friend!" Song of Songs 5:16

Christ is the most lovely Person, and the most suitable Object for your love. There never was, nor will be found—any person so lovely, so beautiful, and so every way deserving of your love—as the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a matchless, transcendent, and incomparable beauty and excellency in Him!

How passionately are some foolish men in love with the external beauty which they see in some women! They love the exact symmetry of parts, and lovely proportion of the body, the amiable features and lovely mixtures of colors in the face, the beauty of the eyes and features, their graceful motions, and amorous glances. How does this ravish the hearts of some foolish men, although the most beautiful woman in the world is no better than a mixture of clay, dirt, and corruption enclosed in a lovely skin; which sickness will cause to look pale and ashen—and death will fully mar and spoil! But the amiableness and beauty of Christ is more transcendent and permanent, and therefore, a more fit object for your love. Christ is all fair—without any spot; altogether lovely—without any blemish or deformity!

Could we suppose all the loveliness that ever was seen or found in the most lovely people that ever lived, were to meet in one person—how lovely would that person be! Yet such, though ever so resplendent beauty—would be but a dark shadow compared with the brightness of our most beautiful Christ!

Can you love the imperfect beauty which you see in creatures, and will you not love the perfect beauty which there is in Christ! Can you love a fading beauty which soon withers like the flower—and will you not love Christ—whose beauty never decays—but always abides more fresh than beauty in the flower of youth! Can you be soon affected with beautiful objects which are before the eye of your sense—and will you not be affected with this far more beautiful object, the Lord Jesus Christ—who is so clearly discernible by the eye of faith? If the eye of your faith was open and clear, to look upon the transcendent loveliness which is in Christ—you could not but love Him! Could you see the glances of His eye, and the sweet smiles of His lovely face—your hearts would be overcome and ravished with love, and filled with ecstasies of joy and ineffable delight!

"Yes! He is altogether lovely! This is my Beloved, this my Friend!" Song of Songs 5:16

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Life is too short; Love is too sacred

(J. R. Miller, "About Temper", 1912)

"Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance." 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

The ideal Christian life, is one of unbroken kindliness.
It is dominated by love—the love whose portrait is drawn for us in the immortal thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians. We have but to turn to the gospel pages, to find the story of a Life in which all this was realized. Jesus never lost his temper. He lived among people who tried Him at every point—some by their dullness, others by their bitter enmity and persecution, but He never failed in sweetness of disposition, in long-suffering patience, in self-denying love. Like the flowers which give out their perfume only when crushed, like the odoriferous wood which bathes with fragrance the ax which hews it—the life of Christ yielded only the tenderer, sweeter love to the rough impact of men's rudeness and wrong. That is the pattern on which we should strive to fashion our life and our character. Every outbreak of violent temper, every shade of ugliness in disposition, mars the radiant loveliness of the picture we are seeking to have fashioned in our lives.

The perfect beauty of Christ, should ever be envisioned in our hearts, as that which we would attain for ourselves. The honor of our Master's name, should impel us to strive ever toward Christlikeness in spirit and in disposition.

We represent Christ in this world; people cannot see Him, and they must look at us to see a little of what He is like. Whatever great work we may do for Christ, if we fail to live out His life of patience and kindness, we fail in an essential part of our duty as Christians. "The servant of the Lord must be gentle." Only as our own lives shine in the brightness of holy affectionateness, and our hearts and lips distill the sweetness of patience and gentleness, can we fulfill our mission in this world as Christ's true messengers to men.

Life is too short to spend even one day of it in bickering and strife. Love is too sacred to be forever lacerated and torn by the ugly briers of sharp temper. Surely we ought to learn to be patient with others, since God has to show every day such infinite patience toward us. Can we not, then, train our life to sweeter gentleness? Can we not learn to be touched even a little roughly, without resenting it? Can we not bear little injuries and apparent injustices, without flying into an unseemly rage? Can we not have in us something of the mind of Christ which will enable us, like Him—to endure all wrong and injury and give back no word or look of bitterness?

There is no temper so obdurately bad—that it cannot be trained into sweetness. The grace of God can take the most unlovely life—and transform it into the image of Christ!