Grace Gems for JULY 2008

Safe in the Almighty Shepherd's hands!

(John Fawcett, "Christ Precious")

"I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd
 lays down His life for the sheep." John 10:11

Jesus is the Shepherd of His flock—
  to conduct, guard and defend them,
  to feed them in the green pastures of His grace,
  to cure and heal their spiritual diseases,
  to restore them when they wander,
  to gather the lambs with His arms,
  to carry them in His bosom, and gently lead them.

His power, care and compassion are infinite!
His followers are as sheep in the midst of wolves. We
hear one of them saying, "My soul is among lions!"
These lions may gape and roar, they may seek to
devour—but the sheep are safe in the Almighty
Shepherd's hands!
For He has said, "My sheep
hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me.
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish
—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!"

Such a Shepherd must be precious!

  ~  ~  ~  ~

 An inexhaustible fullness
 (John Fawcett, "Christ Precious")

 "Yes, He is very precious to you who believe!"
     1 Peter 2:7
 Christian! Jesus is your Savior, your Friend,
 and your Portion!
 You are guilty—His blood cleanses from all sin.
 You are miserable—He is rich in mercy.
 You are helpless—He is mighty to save.
 You are impoverished—His riches are unsearchable.
 His treasures of grace are inexhaustible! There is
 an inexhaustible fullness
in Him, answerable
 to all your necessities—be they ever so many, or
 ever so great. He is the ever-flowing, the over-
 flowing fountain of living waters. He is able to
 do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can
 ask or think. It has pleased the Father, that in
 Him all fullness should dwell. Indeed, we have
 all received grace after grace from His fullness.
 His kindness and mercy are unbounded.
 If the kindness of men has a tendency to win your
 hearts—how much more should the infinite love of
 Jesus constrain you to love Him! He is precious in the
 glorious perfections of His person, His transcendent
 worth, and His all-surpassing excellency. Surely then,
 it is reasonable, it is highly proper—that He should be
 chief the object of your love!

 All that is excellent, all that is desirable, all that is
 comforting—is concentrated in Him. He is fairer than
 the children of men, the chief among ten thousands,
 and altogether lovely! O how unspeakably—how
 infinitely precious! "Yes, He is very precious to you
 who believe!" 1 Peter 2:7
 Love to Jesus is maintained and continued in its
 warmth and fervor—by frequent meditation on His
 adorable person, His dying love, and His infinite
 excellence and preciousness. If we lose sight of
 Him as the spring of all our happiness, and of His
 ineffable glories—the fervency of our love for Him
 will be abated.
 If Jesus Christ is so superlatively precious in Himself,
 we have reason to be ashamed that we love Him no
 more. Alas! how languid are our affections towards
 Him who is altogether lovely—and how easily are our
 hearts captivated with vanities and trifles! This is
 matter of deep humiliation, grief, and sorrow.


  ~  ~  ~  ~

The language of the bottomless pit!

(John Fawcett, "Christ Precious")

"They blaspheme You; Your enemies take Your
 name in vain." Psalm 139:20

The hearts of those who fear God are wounded,
and their ears are stunned by multitudes, who,
on all occasions, take His holy and sacred name
in vain, and call for damnation on their own souls!
Our streets, our roads, and all our public places
are crowded with these diabolical monsters in
the shape of men
, who seem to have studied
the language of the bottomless pit!

"Do not take the name of the Lord your God in
 vain, because the Lord will punish anyone who
 takes His name in vain!" Exodus 20:7

  ~  ~  ~  ~

Better than life!

(William Mason, "A Spiritual Treasury")

"Your steadfast love is better than life!" Psalm 63:3

Forsake all—and possess all. Give up all—and enjoy all.
This is the doctrine of Jesus—and the experience of true
believers. We overcome the world . . .
  by preferring the love of Christ to everything besides;
  by really tasting that the Lord is gracious;
  by truly feeling the comforts of His love;
  by actually partaking of fellowship with Jesus;
  by freely conversing with the Father of all consolations!
O how transporting to the heart! How ravishing to the soul!

With what holy indifference does the enraptured heart
look down upon the fleeting objects of time and sense!
The gilded toys of time—which so attract the views;
the glittering vanities of life—which so enslave earthly minds;
the empty shadows of sense—which so bewitch the heart;
yes, life itself, with all its comforts—what are all, compared
to one moment's enjoyment of the loving-kindness of the
Lord! They are as shadow compared to substance! In
worth, they are as but dust—compared to diamonds!

Saving faith brings the love of God—yes, the God of love
into the sinner's heart! This changes a miserable
sinner—into a satisfied, holy, humble praiser of God. Thus
it is—when the soul has found Christ, who is its life, its
glory, its treasure, its heaven, its all.

  ~  ~  ~  ~

What more can any Christian desire?

(Brooks, "The Golden Key to Open Hidden Treasures")

"As for me, God forbid that I should boast about anything
 except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." Galatians 6:14

There is enough in a suffering Christ, to fill us and satisfy
us to the full. He has the greatest worth and wealth in Him.
Look, as the worth and value of many pieces of silver is to be
found in one piece of gold; just so, all the petty excellencies
which are scattered abroad in the creatures—are to be found
in a bleeding, dying Christ! Yes, all the whole volume of
perfections which is spread through heaven and earth—is
epitomized in Him who suffered on the cross! A man cannot
exaggerate, in speaking of the glories of Christ. Certainly it
is as easy to contain the sea in a sea-shell—as to fully relate
the transcendent excellencies of a suffering Christ!

O sirs! there is in a crucified Jesus—something
proportionate to all the straits, needs, necessities,
and desires of His poor people. He is . . .
  bread to nourish them,
  a garment to cover and adorn them,
  a physician to heal them,
  a counselor to advise them,
  a captain to defend them,
  a prince to rule them,
  a prophet to teach them,
  a priest to make atonement for them;
  a husband to protect them,
  a father to provide for them,
  a brother to relieve them,
  a foundation to support them,
  a head to guide them,
  a treasure to enrich them,
  a sun to enlighten them, and
  a fountain to cleanse them!

What more can any Christian desire
satisfy him and save him; and to make him
holy and happy—in time and eternity?

  ~  ~  ~  ~

Honeyed poison

 (Thomas Brooks, "London's Lamentations" 1670)
 O Sirs! in the grave it is all the same—to one who has
 had all, and to another who has had nothing. What folly
 is it to lay up goods for many years, when we cannot lay
 up one day for the enjoyment of our goods! Christ, who
 never miscalled any, calls him "fool!" who had much of
 the world in his hands—but nothing of God in his heart.
 All this whole world is not proportionate to the precious
 soul. All the riches of the Indies cannot pacify conscience,
 nor secure eternity, nor prevent death, nor bring you off
 victorious in the day of judgment. Therefore be contented
 with a little.
 All the good things of this world, are but cold comforts.
 They cannot stretch to eternity, they will not go with us
 into the eternal world. Therefore why should the lack of
 such things either trouble our thoughts—or break our
 The whole world is but . . .
paradise for fools;
   a beautiful but deceitful harlot;
   a dreamed sweetness;
   a very ocean of gall.
 There is nothing to be found in it, which has not mutability
 and uncertainty, vanity and vexation stamped upon it. And
 therefore he cannot be truly happy who enjoys it; nor can
 he be miserable who lacks it. And why then should not he be
 contented—who has but a little of it? The greatest outward
 happiness is but honeyed poison; and therefore do not
 mutter or murmur because you have but little of the world.
 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be
 content with what you have
, because God has said,
 "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."
     Hebrews 13:5

  ~  ~  ~  ~

Too much pleasure is a pain!

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

"In Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right
 hand are eternal pleasures!" Psalm 16:11

The glories of heaven are constantly exhilarating
and refreshing. There is fullness—but no excess.

Worldly comforts, though sweet—yet grow stale
in time. A down-bed pleases awhile—but soon we
are weary and must rise. Too much pleasure
is a pain!
But the glory of heaven never gluts;
because, as there are all imaginable rarities, so
every moment fresh delights spring from God
into the glorified soul.

In the kingdom of heaven—we shall be freed from
the vanity and dissatisfaction of the creature. Take
those worldly things which are most pleasing, and
from which we promise ourselves most contentment
—still, of the spirit and essence of them all—we shall
say, "Behold, all was vanity—a chasing after the
wind!" Ecclesiastes 2:11

God never did, nor ever will—put a satisfying
into any creature.
In the sweetest music
the world makes, either some string is lacking, or
out of tune. But in the kingdom of heaven, we shall
be freed from these dissatisfactions.

The world is like a painted landscape, in which
you may see gardens with fruit trees, beautifully
drawn—but you cannot enter them. But into the
joys of heaven, you may enter. "Enter into the joy
of your Lord!" The soul shall be satisfied while it
bathes in those rivers of pleasure at God's right
hand. "I will be fully satisfied—for I will see You
face to face!" Psalm 17:15

  ~  ~  ~  ~

Work for God's eye

(J. R. Miller, "In Green Pastures")

"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness'
 before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you
 will have no reward from your Father in heaven."
 Matthew 6:1

No grace shines more brightly in a Christian,
than humility. Wherever SELF comes in—it
mars the beauty of the work we are doing.
Seek to do your work noiselessly. Do not try
to draw attention to yourself—to make others
know that you did some beautiful thing. Be
content to pour your rich life into other wasted,
weary lives—and see them blessed and made
more holy—and then hide away and let Christ
have the honor. Work for God's eye—and even
then, do not think much about reward. Seek to
be a blessing—and never think of self-glory.

"Then your Father, who sees what is done
 in secret, will reward you." Matthew 6:4

  ~  ~  ~  ~

Unto the end!

(J. R. Miller, "In Green Pastures")

"Having loved His own who were in the world
 —He loved them to the end." John 13:1

The most wonderful thing in the universe, is
our Savior's love for His own people. Christ
bears with all our infirmities. He never tires
of our inconsistencies and unfaithfulnesses.
He goes on forever forgiving and forgetting.
He follows us when we go astray. He does not
forget us—when we forget Him. Through all
our stumbling and sinning, through all our
provocation and disobedience, through all
our waywardnesses and stubbornnesses,
through all our doubting and unfaithfulness
—He clings to us still, and never lets us go.
"Never will I leave you; never will I forsake
you." Hebrews 13:5

"I give them eternal life, and they will never
 perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of
 My hand!" John 10:28

  ~  ~  ~  ~

Your amusements

(J. R. Miller, "In Green Pastures")

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever
 you do—do it all for the glory of God."
     1 Corinthians 10:31

Amusements are proper, both as to kind and
degree—just so far as they make us better
Christians. Whenever they become hindrances
to us in our Christian living or in our holy walk
—they are harmful, however innocent they
may be in themselves.

How do your amusements influence your
spiritual life? They may be very pleasing to you.
They may afford great gratification. But what is
their effect on you, as a Christian? Are they
hindering your love for Christ, and your growth
in grace? We ought to be honest enough with
ourselves, to answer these questions truthfully,
and then act accordingly.

  ~  ~  ~  ~

Where the world reigns in the heart

(J. C. Ryle, "Faith")

"For everyone who has been born of God overcomes
 the world. And this is the victory that has overcome
 the world—our faith." 1 John 5:4

He who truly believes on Christ, overcomes the world.

A true believer is not ruled by the world's
of right or wrong, of truth or error.

He is independent of the world's opinion.

He cares little for the world's praise.

He is not moved by the world's blame.

He does not seek for the world's pleasures.

He is not ambitious of the world's rewards.

He looks at things unseen. He sees an invisible
Savior, a coming judgment, and a crown of glory
which never fades away. The sight of these
objects makes him think comparatively little
of this glittering world.

Where the world reigns in the heart, there
is no saving faith. A man who is habitually
conformed to the world, has no right to regard
himself as a believer!

"For everyone who has been born of God overcomes
 the world. And this is the victory that has overcome
 the world—our faith." 1 John 5:4

  ~  ~  ~  ~

The laws of nature

(J. R. Miller, "The Best Things in Life")

God's will controls the smallest matters, and
takes into account the smallest events in each
life. A Spanish proverb says, "A leaf does not
stir on the tree—without the will of God." God's
hand is in every event. We talk of the the laws
of nature
—but what is nature? It is not something
independent of God. The laws of nature are simply
God's laws
. Nothing takes place that is contrary
to the divine will. Nothing—no storm, no earthquake,
no cyclone, no tidal wave—ever gets out of God's

This world is not controlled by chance, nor by any
blind fate
—but by Him who loved us so much, that
He gave His son to die for us.

  ~  ~  ~  ~

If this cockatrice is not crushed in the egg!

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

"See how terrible sin really is." Romans 7:13

There is infinitely more evil in the least sin—than
there is in the greatest miseries and afflictions that
can possibly come upon you! Yes, there is more evil
in the least sin—than there is in all the troubles that
ever come upon the world; yes, than there is in all
the miseries and torments of hell! The least sin . . .
  is an offense to the great God;
  is a wrong to the immortal soul;
  is a breach of God's righteous law;
  cannot be washed away but by the blood of Jesus;
  will shut the soul out of heaven, and
  shut the soul up as a prisoner in hell forever and ever!

The least sin is rather to be avoided and prevented—
than the greatest sufferings. If this cockatrice is not
crushed in the egg
—it will soon become a serpent!

Sin, if but thought on and pondered
will break out into action
action into custom
custom into habit—and then,
both body and soul are eternally and irrecoverably lost!

If the serpent can but wriggle in his tail by an evil
thought, he will soon make a surprise of the soul—as
you see in that sad instance of Adam and Eve.

The least sin is very dangerous!
Caesar was stabbed to death with a small needle.
Herod was eaten up by small worms.
Pope Adrian was choked with a gnat.
A scorpion is little, yet is able to sting a lion to death.
The least spark, may consume the greatest house.
The least leak, may sink the greatest ship.
A whole arm has been gangrened, by a pick of the little finger.
A little opened door, may betray the greatest city.
A pinch of poison diffuses itself into all parts, until it strangles
   the vital spirits, and turns out the soul from the body.
The least sin is very dangerous!

  ~  ~  ~  ~

This tyrant wields a universal sway!

(Henry Law, "Numbers" 1858)

"For the wages of sin is DEATH, but the
 free gift of God is eternal life through
 Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23


The very sound falls heavily.

What mind can lightly think of it?

What eye unmoved can see it?

The limbs, once full of vigor, stir no more.

Sinews, once elastic in activity, become rigid.

The form, so wondrous in its mechanism,
becomes an inert mass.

The features, once the reflecting mirror of
ten thousand thoughts, are marble monotony.

The vessel, once so proudly merry,
lies a deserted wreck.

The fabric, once so sparkling in beauty,
is a deserted ruin.

DEATH! It is more than animation fled.

Decay draws near, with a polluting touch.

Corruption fastens on its prey.

The friends, most dotingly attached, cannot
but turn loathingly away. A stern necessity
requires, that offensive remains be buried
out of sight.

Reader, here pause and meditate.

This death is pressing at your heels!

It soon will lay you low.

Your weeping friends will hide you in the dust.

A forgetting world will go on merrily,
as though you had not been.

Say, do you joyfully await its touch?

Can you feel, "Death comes as with friendly
hand to open the cage door—that my freed
spirit may fly to its high home?"

Remember, you cannot escape.

This tyrant wields a universal sway!

But in what cradle is DEATH born? Whence
is it armed with that destroying scythe?

DEATH is transgression's child. Sin is the
womb which bore it. A sinless world would
have been deathless bloom. But the world
is sinful, and therefore is an open tomb.
This earth is one charnel house.

This is a humbling truth. But in this very
darkness there is light. We are not left
bereft of remedy.

The unclean may be cleansed.

All stains may vanish.

There is a fountain opened for all soul filth.

There is full help for foulest need. Where sin
abounds, sin's cure exceeds. Where pollution
spreads its wide pall, the Savior brings His
wider covering.

"For the wages of sin is DEATH, but the
 free gift of God is eternal life through
 Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23

  ~  ~  ~  ~

"Are you so dull?"

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

"Are you so dull?" Jesus asked.  Mark 7:18

We see here—how slow of understanding
men are in spiritual things.

The corruption of human nature is a universal
disease. It affects not only a man's heart, will,
and conscience—but his mind, memory, and

The very same person who is quick and clever in
worldly things—will often utterly fail to comprehend
the simplest truths of Christianity. He will often be
unable to grasp the plainest reasonings of the Gospel.
He will see no meaning in the clearest statements of
evangelical doctrine. They will sound to him—either
foolish or mysterious. He will listen to them like one
listening to a foreign language, catching a word here
and there, but not seeing the drift of the whole. He
hears, but does not understand.

We must pray daily for the teaching of the Holy Spirit,
if we would make progress in the knowledge of divine
things. Without Him, the mightiest intellect and the
strongest reasoning powers will carry us but a little way.

In reading the Bible and hearing sermons, everything
depends on the spirit in which we read and hear. A
humble, teachable, childlike frame of mind is the grand
secret of success. Happy is he who often says with
David, "Teach me Your statutes." Such a one will
understand as well as hear.

  ~  ~  ~  ~

 Nibbling at Satan's golden baits!
(Brooks "Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices")
 ". . . the deceitfulness of sin." Hebrews 3:13
 Sin is of a very deceitful and bewitching nature. It will
 kiss the soul, and look enticing to the soul—and yet betray
 the soul forever! It will with Delilah smile upon us—that it
 may betray us into the hands of the devil—as she did
 Samson into the hands of the Philistines.
 Tell the bewitched soul that sin is a viper that will certainly
 kill; that sin often kills secretly, insensibly, eternally—yet
 the bewitched soul cannot, and will not, cease from sin.
 A man bewitched with sin—had rather lose God, Christ,
 heaven, and his own soul—than part with his sin! Oh,
 therefore, forever take heed of playing with or nibbling
 at Satan's golden baits!

  ~  ~  ~  ~

They have all learned in one school

(J. C. Ryle, "Having the Spirit")

All who have the Spirit—are taught by Him. He is called
in Scripture, "The Spirit of wisdom and revelation." It
was the promise of the Lord Jesus, "He shall teach you
all things." "He shall guide you into all truth."

We are all by nature ignorant of spiritual truth. "The
natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of
God—they are foolishness to him." Our eyes are blinded.
We neither know God, nor Christ, nor ourselves, nor the
world, nor sin, nor heaven, nor hell—as we ought. We
see everything under false colors.

The Spirit alters entirely this state of things. He opens
the eyes of our understandings. He illumines us. He calls
us out of darkness into marvelous light. He takes away
the veil. He shines into our hearts, and makes us see
things as they really are!

No wonder that all true Christians are so remarkably
agreed upon the essentials of true religion! The reason
is, that they have all learned in one school—the
school of the Holy Spirit. No wonder that true Christians
can understand each other at once, and find common
ground of fellowship! They have been taught the
same language
, by One whose lessons are never

  ~  ~  ~  ~

Give Me your heart

(Arthur W. Pink)

"Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7)

"My son, give Me your heart." (Proverbs 23:26)

A "willing" heart (Exodus 35:5)—which acts spontaneously and gladly, not out of necessity.

A "perfect" heart (1 Chronicles 29:9)—sincere, genuine, upright.

A "tender" heart (2 Chronicles 34:27)—yielding and pliable, the opposite of hard and stubborn.

A "broken" heart (Psalm 34:18)—sorrowing over all failure and sin.

A "united" heart (Psalm 86:11)—all the affections centered on God.

An "enlarged" heart (Psalm 119:32)—delighting in every part of Scripture, and loving all God's people.

A "sound" heart (Proverbs 14:30)—right in both doctrine and practice.

A "merry" heart (Proverbs 15:15)—rejoicing in the Lord always.

A "pure" heart (Matthew 5:8)—hating all evil.

An "honest and good heart" (Luke 8:15)—free from deceit and hypocrisy, willing to be searched through and through by the Word.

A "single" heart (Ephesians 6:5)—desiring only God's glory.

A "true" heart (Hebrews 10:22)—genuine in all its dealings with God.

"Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do." (Proverbs 4:23)

  ~  ~  ~  ~


The Bridegroom's love

(John Fawcett, "Christ Precious")

"Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb!" Revelation 21:9

Jesus is the BRIDEGROOM of His people, and He is so unspeakably excellent in that view, that none in heaven or earth can rival Him. We were deformed, polluted, and in every respect, unworthy of standing in so near and intimate a relation to Him. There was no excellency in us, to render us desirable in His eyes—but everything to provoke His resentment. And yet He was resolved to betroth us to Himself forever—in loving-kindness, in faithfulness, and in mercy!

Sin had reduced us to a state of absolute beggary, poverty, and wretchedness. Yet it was His good pleasure to take us into union with Himself—that we might share in His unsearchable riches! Nay, though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor—that we through His poverty, might be made rich!

Do we speak of the Bridegroom's love? It is absolutely without parallel. There is nothing which will bear any comparison with it. Its height and depth, its length and breadth are immeasurable! It passes the knowledge of men or angels. It is stronger than death—for Christ loves His church, and gave Himself for it. Jesus Himself says to those who are married unto Him, "As the Father has loved me—so have I loved you!" The love of the nearest relations among men, falls inconceivably short of setting forth the nature, or the ardency of His love. No husband loves the dearest wife—as Christ loves His people.

Believers, by virtue of their marital union with Jesus—are advanced to great riches and honors. They are heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ. The riches of eternity are their own! They are taken from the dust and the dunghill—and set among glorious princes! The angels in heaven think it no dishonor to be their servants. The contract is made, and it will be consummated at the great day, when the marriage supper will be celebrated with solemnity, triumph, and glory—suited to the dignity of the glorious Bridegroom. "Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb!" Revelation 19:9

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Communion with Jesus

(John Fawcett, "Christ Precious")

"Yes, He is very precious to you who believe!"
1 Peter 2:7

Christ is precious to those who believe. They desire to have more and more daily acquaintance with Him, and to grow in the sweet and powerful experience of communion with Him. Let us suppose the true Christian, in his retired moments, addressing God in such manner as the following:

'You O God are unchangeable in Your nature, glorious in Your essence, wonderful in Your perfections, wise in Your counsels, and holy in all Your works. It is my greatest good and highest happiness—to enjoy Your favor, and to behold Your glory. Permit me to say, with Your servant Moses, I beseech You, show me Your glory! Show me the glory of Your wisdom, Your holiness, Your power, Your grace, and Your mercy in Christ Jesus. This will give me a distaste for the gaudy vanities of the present world. I shall then look with indifference on all that, after which the covetous are eagerly panting. I shall then pity the ambitious, in their restless solicitude to make themselves great, and to obtain the veneration of their fellow worms. Your Divine beauty and infinite loveliness, as displayed in the glorious Mediator, will captivate my desires, inflame my love, and excite my joy and delight!

"A more intimate view of Your holiness will embitter every sin, and lead me, in deepest humiliation, to abhor myself, and repent as in dust and ashes. Give me such a sense of Your majesty—as may dispose my heart to reverence You supremely. Afford me such discoveries of Your omnipotence, Your love, and Your goodness—as may support my fainting heart under the toils of this warfare, and all the afflictions attending this state of mortality. Let the impressions which Your adorable perfections make upon me, be deep and powerful, so as to transform my soul into Your own amiable and holy likeness. Thus by beholding Your glory—may I be changed into Your image.

"It is habitual, and not transient communion with Jesus, the Lord of glory, which alone will satisfy my desires, and produce those happy effects which I seek—of nearer conformity to Him in knowledge, righteousness and true holiness. Communion with Christ will tend to—refine my understanding, rectify my soul, and purify my heart! Grant me, O Author of all good, by frequent converse with You, to have my affections spiritualized, that I may look with indifference on all other objects, and have my mind set on things above—not on earthly things. In fellowship with You, I shall find a source of delights, infinitely superior to anything that this world can afford. For Your loving-kindness is better than life itself. You are the inexhaustible treasury of blessedness. O Lord God Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in You!"

   ~  ~  ~  ~

In characters of blood

(John Fawcett, "Christ Precious")

"Yes, He is very precious to you who believe!"
    1 Peter 2:7

If Christ is truly precious to us—we shall be distressed that we are not more conformed to His blessed image and holy will. In proportion as He is precious to us—will be our aversion to sin and all unholiness. In the undertakings, the sufferings, and the death of our Redeemer for us—we have such a representation of the evil of sin, and of the dreadful punishment due to it—as must tend to inspire our hearts with holy hatred against it!

We see in the wounds, the sorrows, and the crucifixion of the Savior—the dreadful malignity of sin! We see how hateful it is to God, since He punished it so severely in His beloved Son, when in our place, He bore it in His own body on the tree. We read the nature of sinin characters of blood—on the cross of Christ!

Those who have a due sense of the spirituality of the divine law, and who strictly examine their own hearts and lives by that perfect rule of righteousness, will ever see abundant reason for humiliation and self abasement before God.

>From sincere love to Jesus Christ—will arise holy hatred of those things which are contrary to His will, and which oppose and hinder us in our endeavors after conformity to Him. The vain imaginations of our own evil hearts—will be matter of grief and sorrow to us, "I hate vain thoughts—but I love your law."

The Christian is grieved and distressed, that his thoughts and affections are so much taken up concerning the affairs of the present life, and that he should be so insensible and unmoved at many times, in respect to eternal realities—that his heart should be so hard, so dull and unaffected about matters of infinite importance! He mourns to think that his love to God is so cold, that his desires after Him are so languid, that his zeal for Him is so low, and his gratitude for favors received, is so small.

His heart is pained within him—that he should feel himself so insensible and unmoved under the sound of the gospel. That he should sit and hear of the astonishing love of God in Christ Jesus, and of His giving his beloved Son to bleed and die for his own sins—without being melted into penitence, or inspiring him with love and zeal for Jesus. His heart is pained—that he should be so unaffected with the amazing kindness and compassion of Jesus Christ, manifested in His dying agonies, His bloody sweat, His ignominious cross, His loud and bitter cries, His pierced side, and bleeding heart—and all this for His bitter enemies—to deliver them from deserved and eternal destruction, and to bring them to the possession of everlasting glory and felicity!

"Surely," says he, "if there is a call for the exercise of fervent affections anywhere—it is here at the foot of the cross! O how disquieted I am—to think that I should be so stupid and insensible, even when I could wish my heart to be most ravished! Can anything be presented to my thoughts more important, or more wonderful? And yet how superficial and ineffectual, at some times—are the impressions which are made upon my mind by these views!"

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My unstable soul

(John Fawcett, "Christ Precious")

"O Lord, pardon my iniquity—for it is great!"
Psalm 25:11

If men have no inward grief on account of their ingratitude to a dying Savior—it indicates a lack of love to Him, and that they have not a just sense of the evil and malignity of their sin.

To think of the love of Jesus to my poor soul—manifested in His sorrows, His sufferings, His agonies, and the shedding of His precious blood—pierces my heart, and makes me loathe myself in my own sight! While I look to Him upon the cross whom I have pierced by my sins—surely I ought to mourn, and be in bitterness, as one who mourns for the death of his first-born. Shall not I shed tears of grief for those sins, for which my Redeemer shed His precious blood!

Blessed Jesus! how cold, how feeble, how languid is my love to You—the altogether lovely One! Alas! how readily are my fluctuating passions captivated by worldly things! O, let me not live so estranged from You! Warm my cold and frozen heart—and kindle in my bosom, a flame of holy fervor towards You.

At some seasons, the believer's mind is so oppressed with a sense of his own vileness—that he is ready to sink into despondency. In his retired moments, he pours out his complaints in such language as this: "The clogs of guilt, and the clouds of darkness hang heavy on my soul. What language can express the depth of my distress on account of my sin! A sense of the vilest ingratitude to the best of Beings—stings my heart, and deprives me of comfort. What returns have I made for the abundant divine favors which I have received? I cannot bear the sight of my own vileness! I abhor myself, and repent as in dust and ashes. My life has been marked with repeated instances of ingratitude to Him, who is the giver of every good and perfect gift, whom I desire to love, and to obey with my whole heart. My unstable soul has been perpetually departing from God, inclining to folly, and verging towards that which is evil. This, this is wretchedness indeed! For this I condemn myself almost without ceasing. My spirits droop, my heart desponds, my soul is disquieted within me. O Lord, be merciful to me, pardon my iniquity—for it is great!"

"Lord, I abhor myself on account of the defilement which cleaves unto me. Behold I am vile, I will lay my hand upon my mouth, and put my face in the dust! I have experienced a thousand proofs of your goodness—the remembrance of which, fills me with shame, because of my ingratitude. The height of my folly lies in having so often sinned against infinite goodness and love! I have abused your kindness, and affronted your mercy. O Lord, I beseech you, pardon my iniquity—for it is great."

Such exercises of mind as these, strongly indicate the sincerity of our love for the divine Savior.

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Beware of splitting upon this rock!

(John Fawcett, "Christ Precious")

"Yes, He is very precious to you who believe!"
    1 Peter 2:7

If Christ is truly precious to us—we shall be ready to deny ourselves for Him. "If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me." Luke 9:23. Jesus Himself has been pleased to give us a safe and proper rule of judgment in this case: "If you love Me—keep My commandments. He who has My commandments and keeps them—he it is that loves Me." His Word and will have a prevailing, governing influence on the hearts and lives of those to whom He is precious. A steady desire and endeavor to avoid those things which are displeasing in His sight—is a practical proof that He is dear to us.

To deny ourselves is—to give up our own supposed wisdom, that we may be entirely under the guidance of God; to resign our own wills that we may be subject to His will; and to yield our passions to His government. To deny ourselves is—to forego everything sinful to which self is inclined; to practice every holy thing to which self is averse; and to be ready to give up everything dear to ourselves at the call of God—as our ease, our friends, our goods, our health, or even our life. It is a disowning, or renouncing ourselves for Christ; making ourselves nothing—that He may be all.

This cannot be sincerely done—unless Jesus is truly precious to us; or, which is the same thing—unless He is the object of our supreme affection. But if this is the case, we shall give up ourselves, with all that we have, to Him, without making any reserve. We shall, on a deliberate counting of the cost, choose the religion of Jesus, with all its difficulties—just as Moses chose to suffer affliction with the people of God, rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin which are but for a season, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.

This is what our Lord means by the strong figurative expressions of plucking out the right eye, and cutting off the right hand. That is—parting with everything dear to us—when it stands in competition with Him, or is opposed to His service or His honor. For He justly reminds us, that "no man can serve two masters; either he will hate the one—and love the other; or else he will hold to the one—and despise the other." He constantly teaches us—the necessity of preferring Him and His interest and service—to the dearest objects on earth. "For he who loves father or mother, son or daughter more than Me—is not worthy of Me. Whoever does not take up his cross and follow Me—is not worthy of Me." When matters come to such a crisis—that a man must either break with his nearest and dearest relations and friends—or break with Christ—he who prefers their favor and friendship to Christ's, and will not give up temporal endearments for His sake—is not worthy to be owned as one of Christ's real disciples, nor can he partake of the spiritual and eternal blessings which belong to such. He who prefers his own ease and safety in this world—to the truths and the service of Christ, cannot be justly deemed one who sincerely loves Him, or one to whom He is precious.

The same lesson is taught us by the parable of the treasure hidden in a field, which, when a man has found it—he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field. And likewise by that of a merchant-man, seeking fine pearls, who having found one pearl of great price—he goes and parts with all, that he may possess that pearl. He is willing to give up the riches, the honors and pleasures of this world—for the enjoyment of that inestimable treasure which he has discovered.

Self-denial, in respect to things in themselves sinful, should be universal; otherwise we do not give proper evidence of the sincerity of our love for Christ. Many go very far in a profession of religion, and yet live in the habitual indulgence of some sin—either great or small, secret or open. O reader, examine yourself, and beware of splitting upon this rock!

Let us labor then, to mortify corrupt passions, inclinations and affections; and not willfully indulge ourselves in any sinful habit, custom, or practice!

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All the afflictions of God's people

(John Fawcett, "Christ Precious")

"We also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope." Romans 5:3-4

The chastisements of Christ are precious to those who believe. The believer's love to Jesus Christ, not only continues under the rod of correction—but is quickened and increased by it! Thus it is distinguished from that pretended love, which exists only in times of prosperity. The afflicted Christian is enabled to consider—that whom the Lord loves—He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives; and that He only afflicts us for our profit—to make us partakers of His holiness.

The Lord can so manifest Himself to His afflicted people—that the season of affliction shall be to them a season of great consolation. He is to them—a fountain of life, of strength, of grace and comfort in the afflictive hour—and of His fullness they receive, as their necessities require. The Lord Jesus Christ is a sun to enlighten and cheer His afflicted followers, and a shield to defend them. He is a hiding-place from the storm, a covert from the tempest, and as the shadow of a great rock in a dry and weary land.

All the afflictions of God's people are designed, under His gracious management—to test, to make manifest, and to exercise, those graces and virtues which He has implanted in them. Though afflictions in themselves are not joyous but grievous, nevertheless they yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness in those who are exercised thereby. Afflictions serve to quicken the spirit of devotion in us; and to rouse us from that formality and indifference which frequently attend a long course of ease and prosperity. We are constrained to seek God with sincerity and fervor, when His chastening hand is upon us, since we then feel our absolute need of that help and deliverance, which He alone can give us.

When the loss of any temporal enjoyment casts us into excessive despondency and dejection—it is evident that what we have lost, was the object of our inordinate love. The most innocent attachments cease to be innocent, when they press too strongly upon us! To cleave to any created object, and to look for happiness from it—is to make an idol of it—and set it up in God's place. Should this object be a friend, a brother, a wife, or a child—the idolatry is still odious in the eyes of that God, to whom we owe our chief affection. Our warmest passions, our most fervent love, desires, hopes, and confidences—should always have God for their object. It is His desire that our happiness should not center in any of the good things of this life.

Losses and disappointments—are the trials of our faith, our patience, and our obedience. When we are in the midst of prosperity, it is difficult to know whether we have a love for the Benefactor—or only for His benefits. It is in the midst of adversity—that our piety is put to the trial.

Afflictions serve most effectually—to convince us of the vanity of all that this world can afford—to remind us that this is not our rest—and to stir up desires and hopes for our everlasting home. They produce in us a spirit of sympathy towards our companions in tribulation. They give occasion for the exercise of patience, meekness, submission, and resignation. Were it not for the wholesome and necessary discipline of affliction—these excellent virtues would lie dormant. Afflictions serve to convince us more deeply of our own weakness and insufficiency, and to endear the person, the grace, the promises, and the salvation of our Redeemer, more and more to our hearts. Thus we are taught to esteem His very chastisements as precious—on account of the benefits we derive from them.

Afflictions are not to punish—but to purify the believing soul. They are not in wrath—but in mercy. Amidst the distresses and miseries of life—it is a felicity to belong to Christ, without whose permission and appointment, no evil can befall us! He always sends afflictions for our good; and knows by experience, what it is to suffer them. His kind hand will speedily put an end to all the pains we feel—when we have derived from them all the good which He intends to do for us, by them.

How many, how suitable, how sovereign are the supports our heavenly Father affords to His afflicted children! They make the affliction, which in itself would seem heavy and tedious—appear to be light, and but for a moment. It is happier to be in the furnace of affliction with these supports—than to be in the highest prosperity without them! Blessed with the hopes and comforts of Christ—the true Christian would prefer the lot of Lazarus, with all the poverty and distress which he endured—to the lot of the rich man, who, amidst all the splendor and affluence which this world could afford—lived a life of alienation from God, and destitute of the sovereign supports which can only be enjoyed, by those who love and fear Him.

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The true ministry of pain

(J. R. Miller, "In Green Pastures")

There is a Christian art of enduring pain, which we should seek to learn. The real goal is not just to endure the suffering which falls into our life; to bear it bravely, without wincing; to pass through it patiently, even rejoicingly. Pain has a higher mission to us, than to teach us heroism. We should endure it in such a way as to get something of spiritual blessing out of it.

Pain brings to us some message from God, which we should not fail to hear. It lifts for us the veil which hides God's face, and we should get some new glimpses of His beauty, every time we are called to suffer. Pain is furnace-fire, and we should always come out of this furnace, with the gold of our graces gleaming a little more brightly. Every experience of suffering ought in some way—to lift us nearer God, to make us more gentle and loving, and to leave the image of Christ shining a little clearer in our lives.

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The path to comfort in our time of sorrow

(J. R. Miller, "In Green Pastures")

"Being in an agony—He prayed," is the record of our Savior's Gethsemane experience. The lesson stands for all time. Like a bright lamp, the little sentence shines amid the olive trees of the garden. It shows us the path to comfort in our time of sorrow. Never before or since—was there such grief as the Redeemer's, that night. But in His prayer, He found comfort. As we watch Him the hour through, we see the agony changing as He prayed, until at last its bitterness was all gone—and sweet, blessed peace took its place. The gate of prayer is always the gate to comfort. There is no other way to consolation.

We may learn also from our Lord's Gethsemane, how to pray in our Gethsemanes. God will never blame us for asking to have the cup removed, nor for the intensity of our supplication; but we must always pray with submission. It is when we say, in our deepest sorrow and intensity, "Not my will—but may Your will be done," that comfort comes, that peace comes.

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The full ocean of never-failing delight and satisfaction!

(John Fawcett, "Christ Precious")

"Yes, He is very precious to you who believe!" 1 Peter 2:7

"O blessed Jesus, Your love is wonderful! It is the admiration, joy and song of glorified saints. The experimental sense of Your love on earth—sweetens the bitterness of life, and disarms death of all its terrors! It was love which moved You to bow the heavens, to come down and sojourn on earth, to humble Yourself, to take on you the form of a servant, and become obedient onto death, even the death of the cross! You pitied me in my lost estate. You sought and found me—when I sought You not. You spoke peace to me in the day of my distress, when the clouds of guilt and darkness hung heavy on my soul—and I was brought to the borders of despair. You have—borne with all my weakness, corrected my mistakes, restored me from my wanderings, and healed my backslidings. May Your loving-kindness be ever before my eyes—to induce me to walk in your truth. May Your love be the daily theme of my meditations, and the constant joy of my heart!"

When I am favored with the light of Your countenance, and the comfortable sense of Your love—my soul is filled and satisfied. All the glittering glories of this world, are then darkened, and turned into deformity! They are but broken cisterns—but you are the fountain of living waters! The streams of creature enjoyments, are shallow and deceitful as a brook—but You are the full ocean of never-failing delight and satisfaction!

To Your love I must ascribe my whole salvation; and through all the ages of a blissful eternity—I shall proclaim the wonders of redeeming love, and tell to listening angels what Your love has done for my soul. Unto You who loved us, and washed us from our sins in Your own blood, and made us kings and priests to God—to You be glory and dominion forever and ever! Amen."

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Trace the steps of His lovely feet

(John Fawcett, "Christ Precious")

"Leaving you an example, so that you should follow in His steps." 1 Peter 2:21

"He who says he abides in Him, should
 walk just as He walked
." 1 John 2:6

We see, in our Divine Leader, the several precepts of God's Word drawn out in living characters. We behold them reduced to practice, and represented to the life—in the whole of His conduct towards God and man. We see one in our nature, amidst all the assaults of temptation, amidst all the opposition which malignity could invent, and all the allurements of this enticing world—behaving in a manner exactly agreeable to the dictates of the Divine law, and leaving us an example, that we should follow His steps.

Surely it must be delightful, not only to contemplate His character—but, to the utmost of our power, to imitate the most perfect pattern which was ever exhibited. It must be desirable, by constant and strenuous exertions, according to our measure, to endeavor to trace the steps of His lovely feet.

It is impossible to contemplate the character of Jesus, with serious and devout attention—and not be charmed with it. We see in Him, all the human passions in the highest perfection. His joys were grave, His griefs were just. His gentleness and His severity, His holiness and His humanity—were in perfect harmony with each other. He manifested great tenderness, and genuine affection, and sensibility to human woe—on all occasions.

As He did no sin—so, on the other hand, every shining virtue was exemplified in Him to highest degree.
His lowliness and meekness;
His contempt of the world;
His heavenly temper;
His love to the Father, and zeal for His honor;
His activity and diligence in doing good;
His submission to the Father's will;
His patience amidst the heaviest and severest sufferings;
His constancy in the exercises of retired devotion; and
His praying for His enemies who spilt His blood—
  can never be sufficiently admired.

When you are tempted to any vanity—set the blessed Redeemer before you, consider His example, and ask yourself, "How would Jesus—my Lord and Master, have acted in such a case? Would He have spent His time upon such trifles? Would He have spoken such and such; or done this or the other thing, which I am solicited to do? And shall I give way to that which would be a manifest deviation from His holy example? God forbid!"

O Christians, fix your eyes intensely on the great exemplar! Thus you will, through Divine grace, daily grow in love with meekness, patience, and humility of heart.

The more I contemplate His lovely character, while He sojourned on earth—the more I am delighted with it. To have the same mind in me which was in Christ Jesus, and to tread in His steps—should be my constant aim. Those who are received by Him to the possession of everlasting felicity in heaven—have humbly traced His footsteps upon earth. Of them it is said, "These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes!" Revelation 14:4. They are forevermore led by Him, even in the celestial world—to the enjoyment of ever-new delights and pleasures! "For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their Shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water! And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes!" Revelation 7:17

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Eternal abhorrence—infinite love

(John Fawcett, "Christ Precious")

"Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through Him!" Romans 5:9

The blood of our Divine Savior is emphatically called precious blood. 1 Peter 1:19. The shedding of His blood procures—our pardon, our peace with God, and our everlasting salvation. On the cross—our sins were imputed to Him—and His righteousness was imputed to us. We look to Calvary, and view the suffering Savior—as bearing our sins in His own body on the tree, and putting them away by the sacrifice of Himself.

The complete atonement which Jesus Christ has made for our sins, by the sacrifice of Himself—is the life and center of the evangelical system, and that which endears it so much to the hearts of those who believe. Here we see pardon procured, and the sinner saved—while sin is condemned and punished. Here we see the most solemn display of justice and holiness, in conjunction with the freest exercise of mercy. Here we see sinful rebels delivered from deserved punishment, and advanced to a state of dignity and honor; and at the same time, the rights of that divine government against which they had rebelled, inviolably preserved and maintained. Through what Jesus Christ has done and suffered for us—we behold the righteous law of God magnified, in justifying those who had violated its precepts, and brought themselves under its curse. In the death of that Lamb of God, we perceive at once—the Almighty's eternal abhorrence of that which is evil—and His infinite love to His offending creatures.

To a condemned malefactor—a pardon sent from his offended sovereign must be precious. Just so, nothing can be matter of greater comfort—than to know that we have redemption though the blood of Jesus, the forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches of His grace. "Yes, He is very precious to you who believe!" 1 Peter 2:7

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Bending His gracious ear to sinful worms

(John Fawcett, "Christ Precious")

"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16.

The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous—and His ears are ever open to their cries. Whoever else may overlook or disappoint them—He will not. When their spirits are overwhelmed within them—He knows their path. When human means and efforts fail, when everything looks dark before them, when their way seems to be shut up on every side, and they are brought to the lowest ebb—still they have welcome access to the Divine throne, where they may tell all their needs, and unbosom all their cares and sorrows—with the certain hope of obtaining mercy, and finding grace to help in the time of need.

Prayer is not only a duty—but an inestimable privilege! The condescension of God is wonderful, in bending His gracious ear to sinful worms. When the heart of a Christian is under a proper influence—he finds a greater pleasure in approaching the Divine throne, than in anything this world can afford. He obtains more light, strength, comfort and refreshment, by one hour's converse with God—than he could do by any other means!

What an unspeakable privilege it is—to have liberty of access to God! To have His permission, nay, His invitation and command—to come boldly to His throne of grace! Amidst surrounding dangers, snares and temptations—we may fly to Him as our refuge, and lift up our hearts to Him in fervent and earnest prayer. To Him we may tell all our inmost cares—and open all our griefs. His ears are always attentive to our requests!

In the exercises of private devotion—we may nourish and express all the holy affections of our souls, with the greatest freedom. We may say a thousand things to our heavenly Father in secret—which would not be proper in public devotion. We may pour out our souls before Him, in the strongest and most pathetic sentiments of holy desire, and divine delight. We may tell Him all the disquietudes of our consciences, the secret anguish and shame of our hearts—because of those offenses which are known to Him alone. We may sigh deeply, and pour out the tear of penitence into His bosom. We may tell Him how intense our desires are—to experience more of His love, and to be conformed to His image. We may rejoice in His sight with divine exultation and holy triumph, in the prospect of being shortly with Him in the heavenly world!

Let the favorites of an earthly prince, value themselves on being permitted to hold converse with their sovereign; I would ever esteem it a privilege infinitely superior—to have free and welcome access to the King of kings!