Grace Gems for AUGUST 2010


The pagans run after all these things!

(James Smith, "Comfort for the Christian")

"Your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things!" Matthew 6:32

Our gracious heavenly Father bids us to cast all our cares upon Him—assuring us that He cares for us!

His EYE is ever upon us! His eye is a Father's eye, which is always quick, and always affects His heart. He has set His eyes upon us for good. His eye is ever over us—fixed immediately upon us!

His EAR catches . . .
  our every sigh,
  our every groan,
  our every desire!
It is always open to our cry. He listens to us—as one most tenderly and deeply interested in us. He knows our every need—and He intends to supply us!

Our heavenly Father has forever determined—that none of His children shall lack any good thing—and that He will never withhold any good thing from them.

"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 have need of all these things!" Matthew 6:31-32

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An almighty arm!

(James Smith, "Christ and the Christian" 1853)

"Hold me up—and I shall be safe!" Psalm 119:117

Is the Christian guided aright through this wilderness world?
It is by the wisdom of Christ!

He has no wisdom of his own—and he is surrounded by snares and foes! He has within him a principle of evil, which invariably prompts him to leave the right road. He is prone to miss the mark, like a broken bow. He is attracted and affected by external worldly objects, which feed the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life; and but for divine wisdom guiding him—he would stray into the fatal paths of folly and crime! To guide him aright, requires an omniscient eye, a wise intellect, and loving heart; and Jesus possesses and exercises these for the good of His people.

Is the Christian protected from the innumerable dangers and foes to which he is exposed?
It is by the power of Christ!

That power is his guard, and his defense. An almighty arm is placed beneath him—to uphold him. An almighty arm is lifted up—to defend him. He looks to it when foes assail him; he leans on it when his own strength fails him; and he trusts in it, in every hour of danger. Without the power of Jesus—he never could persevere; with it—he can never apostatize. It keeps him as a garrison keeps a town, as a shepherd keeps his flock, as a parent does his child.

Is the Christian supplied? Are his needs anticipated and met?
It is by the providence of Christ!

Jesus rules over all worlds!
He directs and controls all events!
He keeps His eye and His heart upon His people!
He is engaged to provide for them—and He sacredly keeps His engagement.

He is . . .
  observant of all our wants,
  attentive to our cries, and
  ready to supply our needs.

With Jesus for our provider—we are strengthened, supplied, and supported.

O Jesus! what would we be without You?
Dead in our sins!
Under eternal condemnation!
Slaves of our lusts!
Poor condemned criminals!
Depraved and polluted wretches!
Lost and wandering sheep!
Captives of Satan!
Wild and lawless rebels!
Miserable and starving paupers!
Exposed to the just wrath of Almighty God!

"Hold me up—and I shall be safe!" Psalm 119:117

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Nothing feeds, nothing refreshes, nothing delights my soul

(James Smith, "Precious Things from the Everlasting Hills")

"My meditation of Him shall be sweet!" Psalm 104:34

The Lord Jesus is the subject of my meditations. Not a day passes but my
thoughts are occupied with Him. Forget whom I may—I never forget Him.
Nothing feeds, nothing refreshes, nothing delights my soul
vigorous meditations on Jesus. I dwell at times on . . .
  the glories of His person,
  the riches of His grace,
  the merit of His blood,
  the transcendent glory of His righteousness,
  the tenderness of His sympathy,
  the constancy of His love,
  the vastness of His resources,
  the greatness of His power,
  the glory of His offices,
  the prevalence of His intercession, and
  the grandeur of His second coming—
until I am enamored with His beauty, and enraptured with His love!

My meditation of Jesus is sweet! I think of Him upon my bed, and
meditate on Him through the watches of the night.

Jesus is the solace and joy of my soul.
When all is dark within me,
when all is dreary around me,
when all is discouraging before me—
He fills me full of joy with His countenance.
One look from His eye,
one word from His lips,
one breath breathed on my soul—
relieves, restores, and makes me happy.

He is the river of pleasure—in which I sometimes bathe!
He is the Eden of delights—in which I sometimes walk!

Take away Jesus—and my soul droops, desponds, and dies!
Give me Jesus—and the enjoyment of His presence, and I can do without any other heaven!

He is the joy of my brightest days, and my solace in my dreariest nights!

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Under Divine teaching and guidance

(James Smith, "
The Spirit of Wisdom" 1853)

"Show me your ways, O Lord,
 teach me your paths;
 guide me in your truth and teach me."
    Psalm 25:4-5

Under Divine teaching and guidance:

SIN is our daily burden.

HOLINESS is our constant pursuit.

The FEAR of God is placed as sentinel of the soul, to watch the approach of the enemy.

GODLY SORROW is appointed the messenger to carry confessions, petitions, and desires to the throne of grace.

ZEAL is armed with a sword to cut off the sinful right hand, or pluck out the sinning right eye.

HOPE is placed on the watchtower to look out for the coming of the Lord—when sin shall expire in His presence, and holiness be perfected in the rays of His glory.

FAITH is engaged to work for God and man, having . . .
  the promises for its support,
  the precepts for its guide,
  and love for its handmaid.

PATIENCE is appointed to keep all quiet and calm within—let the burden ever so heavy, and the trial ever so severe. Patience will call submission and resignation into active employment, if fretfulness, murmuring, or dissatisfaction should attempt to stir.

PEACE is placed as a garrison, to keep the heart and mind from anxiety, foreboding, and fault-finding with the Lord's dealings.

JOY is directed to run backwards and forwards to the wells of salvation, to supply the soul with the reviving, invigorating, and strengthening waters of life! Thus evil is prevented, good is secured, God is glorified, Satan is foiled, and the soul is saved!

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The secrets of temporal felicity

(Arthur Pink, "
Enjoying Gods Best")

"Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus!" 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2

It is not sufficiently realized, that the Bible has far, very far, more to say about this present life—than it has about the future one; that it makes known the secrets of temporal felicity—as well as everlasting bliss.

In their zeal to tell men how to escape from hell and make sure of heaven—many evangelical preachers have had all too little to say upon our conduct on earth; and consequently, many who entertain no doubts whatever that they will inhabit a mansion in the Father's house—are not nearly so much concerned about their present walk and warfare as they should be; and even though they reach their desired haven, such slackness results in great loss to them now!

The teaching of Holy Writ is the very reverse of the plan followed by many an "orthodox pulpit"! It not only gives much prominence to—but in Old and New Testament alike—its main emphasis is on our life in this world—giving instruction how we are to conduct ourselves here and now!

The central thing which we wish to make clear in this article, and to impress upon the reader—is that God has established an inseparable connection between holiness—and happiness; between our pleasing of Him—and our enjoyment of His richest blessing; that since we are always the losers by sinning—so we are always the gainers by walking in the paths of righteousness; and that there will be an exact ratio between the measure in which we walk therein—and our enjoyment of "the peaceable fruit of righteousness" (Hebrews 12:11).

"I will be careful to lead a blameless life; I will walk in my house with blameless heart!" Psalm 101:2

"Thus you will walk in the ways of good men—and keep to the paths of the righteous." Proverbs 2:20

However distasteful to the flesh, whatever sneers it may produce from carnal professors, the Christian must rigidly and perpetually act by the rule that God has given him to walk by. In so doing, he will be immeasurably the gainer; for the path of obedience—is the path of prosperity!

"Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful!" (Joshua 1:8)

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It leaves earth for Heaven—or for Hell!

(James Smith,
"CONSIDER!" 1859)

"This is what the Lord Almighty says: Consider your ways!" Haggai 1:7

God commands you to consider—and you cannot neglect to do so, but you sin. Your circumstances require it of you—and you cannot neglect to do so, but you must be losers thereby. God complains, "My people do not consider!"

Inconsideration has ruined thousands—and will ruin thousands more. But shall it ruin you? It will—if you give way to it. Let me entreat you to do so no longer.

Consider that you are immortal—and must live forever.
Your BODY will die—and perhaps soon.
But not so your SOUL—it never dies.
Death changes its place—but not its nature.
It leaves earth for Heaven—or for Hell! It lives as much when the body is dead—as it did before. It is conscious—and capable of enjoying the highest pleasures—or of enduring the most dreadful torments! And one or the other will be its lot.

Heaven—or Hell,
happiness—or misery,
always follows upon death!

Surely an immortal being ought to consider:

  Where shall I be after death?

  What shall I be?

  Among whom shall I have my eternal portion?

Is it rational to confine our attention to the present time, and the present world—when time bears no comparison to eternity; and our stay in this present world must be brief?

Consider that you are a sinner.
You have broken God's law.
You have incurred God's displeasure.
You are condemned by God's Word.
You deserve God's wrath.
Your heart is alienated from God.
You act in opposition to God.
You lie absolutely at God's mercy—and at any moment He could cut you down, and send you to Hell.
You have no right to expect anything but justice at His hands! And if He dealt with you after your sins, and rewarded you according to your iniquities—your doom would be indescribably dreadful!

Reader! "Consider your ways!"

Consider that you are immortal—and that you must live somewhere forever!

Consider that you are a sinner—and that you cannot live in Heaven as such!

Consider that you may be saved—for the Lord Jesus Christ is both able and willing to save sinners!

Consider that you can only be saved by sincere faith in Christ!

Consider that you must denounce your own righteousness, and rely solely on His finished work!

Consider that if you are saved by Christ—you will live to Christ.
He will be your Lord—as well as your Savior.
He will be your example—as well as your atoning sacrifice!

Consider that faith is the root of holiness, and a holy life alone proves our faith to be genuine.

"This is what the Lord Almighty says: Consider your ways!

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If a man had to wade breast deep through a thousand hells!

Charles Spurgeon)

"Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" 2 Corinthians 9:15

Jesus is God's indescribable gift!

Heaven itself is nothing, as compared with Him!

If a man had to wade breast deep through a thousand hells to obtain Christ—it would be well worth the venture, if at the last he might but say, "My Beloved is mine—and I am His!"

Jesus is so precious—that He cannot be matched! There is none like Him. The most lovely of the lovely—are vile and deformed, when compared with Him. As Rutherford would say, "Black sun, black moon, black stars—but, O bright, infinitely bright Lord Jesus!"

If you ransacked time and space—eternity and immensity—you could find none that could even be compared unto Him—He is so precious!

He is all that your souls can desire; yes, He Himself is all.

You could not buy Christ in any market—if you gave the price of heaven and earth for Him.

"Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" 2 Corinthians 9:15

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Only fully understood in hell

(John Flavel)

"How will you escape being condemned to hell!"
    Matthew 23:33

Condemnation is the judgment or sentence
of God—condemning a man to bear the just
punishment of His eternal wrath for his sins.

Condemnation is a word of deep and dreadful
signification. It is a word whose profound sense
and intensity are only fully understood in hell.

"There is now no condemnation for those who
 are in Christ Jesus!" Romans 8:1

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Christ's presence—and sin's presence

(Arthur Pink, "
Sin's Presence" 1948)

There are two sides to a Christian's life: a light side—and a dark one; an elevating side—and a depressing one. His experience is neither all joy—nor all grief; but a mingling of both. It was so with the apostle Paul: "As sorrowful—yet always rejoicing" (2 Corinthians 6:10). When a person is regenerated, he is not immediately taken to heaven. Nor is sin then eradicated from his being, though its dominion over him is broken. It is indwelling corruption which casts its dark shadow over his joy!

The varied experiences of the believer, are occasioned by Christ's presence—and sin's presence. If, on the one hand, it is blessedly true that Christ is with him all his days, even unto the end; on the other hand, it is solemnly true that sin indwells him all his days, even unto the end of his earthly history! Said Paul, "evil is present with me"; and that, not only occasionally—but sin "dwells in me" (Romans 7:20-21). Thus, as God's people feed upon the Lamb, it is "with bitter herbs that they eat it" (Exodus 12:8).

The Christian's consciousness of indwelling sin,
his mourning over its defiling influence,
his sincere efforts to strive against its solicitations,
his penitent confessions to God of his failure to master this inveterate foe
—are among the unmistakable evidences that he is a regenerate person. For it is certain—that no one who is dead in trespasses and sins, realizes that there is a sea of iniquity within his heart, defiling his very thoughts and imagination; still less does he make conscience of the same and lament it!

It is cause for fervent praise—if your eyes have been opened to see "the sinfulness of sin," and your heart to feel its obnoxiousness. Since it was not always thus, a great change has taken place—you have been made the subject of a miracle of grace!

But the continuance of indwelling sin presents a sore and perplexing problem to the Christian. He is fully assured that nothing is too hard for the Lord.
Why then, is evil allowed to remain present with him?
Why is he not rid of this hideous thing—which he so much loathes and hates?
Why should this horrible depravity be allowed to disturb his peace and mar his joy?
Why does the God of all grace not rid him of this harassing tyrant?

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When a man's tongue is extensively wrong

(J. C. Ryle)

Let it be a settled principle again in our religion, that when a man's general conversation is ungodly—his heart is graceless and unconverted. Let us not give way to the foolish notion, that no one can know anything of the state of another's heart, and that although men are living wickedly—they have good hearts at the bottom. Such notions are flatly contradictory to our Lord's teaching. Is the general tone of a man's speech carnal, worldly, godless or profane? Then let us understand, that this is the state of his heart! When a man's tongue is extensively wrong, it is absurd, no less than unscriptural, to say that his heart is right!

"No good tree bears bad fruit; nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart; and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart—his mouth speaks!" Luke 6:43-45

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Reader, how is it with you?

(James Smith, "MARY" 1859)

"Mary sat at Jesus' feet, listening to what He taught" Luke 10:39

Let us notice Mary's POSITION. She was sitting at the feet of Jesus. Most probably He was reclining on the couch, and she went and took her place behind Him, where she could hear what He said, and occasionally get a glimpse of His face.

It is the posture of HUMILITY—she took the lowest place. She had no wish to be seen, nor did she regard her own ease—she was intent on getting good from Jesus.

It was the posture of ATTENTION—she wished to catch every word, and to understand all that the Lord was saying. If Jesus is teaching—then Mary will attend and listen.

It was the posture of a LEARNER—she was a disciple of Jesus, therefore she sat down at His feet, that she may receive of His words. He need not now say unto her, "Learn of Me," for she was most anxious to do so.

It was the posture of SATISFACTION—if she could but be within the sound of His voice, within the sight of His eye—it was enough for Mary. Anywhere with Jesus—would satisfy her!

It was also the posture of REPOSE—here at the feet of Jesus, she found rest unto her soul. Her desires were satisfied, her love was gratified, her hungry soul was fed. It was enough.

Being at the feet of Jesus was to her—a kind of earthly heaven.

Mary sat at the feet of Jesus in a humble cottage.
She now sits by His side in the heavenly mansion!

Reader, how is it with you?

Are you humble enough to take a seat at the feet of Jesus?

Is it your delight to listen to His words?

Are you like a little child desiring to learn of Him, and be taught by Him?

Are you satisfied—if you can but get near to Jesus?

Do you find sweet and refreshing repose in His presence?

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Strength for the Day

(James Smith, "Strength for the Day" 1859)

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

This promise which ensures us suitable and sufficient strength for all future days—is made by One who loves us dearly. Loves us—but who shall describe, who can suitably represent His love!
It is Infinite love—and cannot be comprehended!
It is Eternal love—and cannot be measured!
It is Unchangeable love—and cannot be diverted from its objects!
It is Sovereign love—and was fixed on them without anything in them to attract or draw it toward them!
It is Divine love—
  deeper than a father's love;
  more tender than a mother's love;
  stronger than a husband's love.

This Divine love is . . .
  a fire that cannot be quenched,
  an ocean that cannot be exhausted,
  a sun that will never set!

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We really need very little

(James Smith, "The Way to Be Wealthy and Happy!" 1859)

"The lions may grow weak and hungry—but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing." Psalm 34:10

Those who seek the Lord may be sick, or poor, or tried, in a variety of ways; but the Lord will send them supplies, OR give them the grace of contentment, so that they shall not lack any good thing.

But how many mistake wishes for needs! And while the Lord has promised to supply all His people's needs—He has nowhere promised to gratify all their wishes.

We really need very little
—therefore the apostle says, "If we have food and clothing—we will be content with that!" 1 Timothy 6:8. And again, "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

"They shall not lack any good thing." That is, they shall not lack whatever is really good for them at the time—and under the circumstances. Whatever will promote their holiness and happiness—shall certainly be conveyed to them.

Those who seek the Lord are sure of necessary supplies, for four reasons:

First, the Lord is ABLE to supply them. "The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof." He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think!

Second, the Lord DESIRES to supply them. "Like as a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. He knows our frame—He remembers that we are dust."

Third, the Lord has PROMISED to supply them. "The Lord God is a sun and shield, the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly." "My God shall supply all your needs, according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

Fourth, the Lord ALWAYS HAS supplied them. Look at Jacob, at David—and at all who have already arrived in glory. If the question, put by the Lord Jesus, to His disciples, when they returned from their missionary tour, on which He sent them without purse or bag, was put to them: "Have you lacked anything?" Every one of them would readily answer, "Nothing, Lord!"

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My Support
(James Smith, "
My Support" 1859)

"They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress—but the Lord was my support!" Psalm 18:18

Aged believer, you and I can look back—and wonder how it is that we are where we are, and what we are: how we have held on, and held out until now. Here is the whole secret of the case—"But the Lord was my support!"

In the seasons of my greatest difficulty,
in all my times of sorrow and danger,
when I was filled with fears and doubts,
when in deep trouble and afflictions,
when all creature help failed me,
when my heart worried and vexed me,
when my enemies were just ready to overwhelm me,
when my feet were almost gone,
when my steps had well near slipped,
in my darkest nights,
in my dreariest days,
—then the Lord was my support!

My journey has been long,
my road has been peculiarly difficult,
my heart has been weak,
my enemies have been strong,
and long ago I must have perished in my afflictions—or been a prey to my foes—but the Lord was my support!

I would have fainted under my heavy burdens,
I would have yielded to my enchanting temptations,
I would have fled before my powerful foes
—but the Lord was my support!

Yes, the Lord has upheld, supported, and supplied me along the treacherous way. To His free grace, to His inviolable faithfulness, and to His unchangeable love—I must ascribe that "By the grace of God—I am what I am!" 1 Corinthians 15:10

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Wondrous it truly is!

(Arthur Pink, "God's Loving-kindness" April, 1948)

Scripture speaks of "the multitude of His loving kindnesses!" (Isaiah 63:7) And who is capable of numbering them?

Said the Psalmist, "How excellent is your  loving-kindness, O God!" (Psalm 36:7) No pen of man, no tongue of angel, can adequately express it.

We read of God's "marvelous loving-kindness!" (Psalm 17:7) And surely it truly is!

David prayed, "Display the wonders of Your loving-kindness!" Wondrous it truly is—that One so infinitely above us, so inconceivably glorious, so ineffably holy, should not only deign to notice such worms of the earth—but set His heart upon them, give His Son for them, send His Spirit to indwell them, and so bear with all their imperfections and waywardness as never to remove His loving-kindness from them!

Well then, may we exclaim, "Your loving-kindness is better than life!" (Psalm 63:3)

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Swallowed up in a worldly church!

(James Smith, "Man's Treatment of Gods People" 1859)

"If the world hates you—keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world—it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world—but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you!" John 15:18-19

Such is the testimony of the Lord Jesus.

Real Christians have never been favorites of the world—and while it continues what it is, they never can be.

Nor can the pure and simple gospel be pleasant to the world, because it lays the sinner in the dust, and exalts God as supreme and sovereign. Let us not be surprised then, if we hear worldlings speak against the gospel, and traduce the Lord's people; for what the Romans told Paul, is in a good measure true in the present day, "For concerning this 'sect', we are aware that it is spoken against everywhere!" Acts 28:22

This 'sect' originated with Jesus, the hated Nazarene, who came into the world for its good, and to save His people from their sins. He gathered around Him many—but they were principally the poor and unlearned. There was nothing in them, or about them, to recommend them to the proud and sensual world.
They were begotten of God, and made new creatures in Christ.
They embraced the truth that He taught.
They observed the precepts that He gave.
They copied the example that He set.

Their creed consisted pretty much in these facts:
that man is a lost sinner,
that salvation by works is impossible, and therefore it must be all of grace—or not at all;
that the Lord Jesus came into the world to take the sinner's place, fulfill the law in the sinner's stead, and die as the sinner's substitute.

By such hopes, they were animated,
by such rules, they walked, and
at such objects, they aimed.

And yet, they were spoken against and despised, because they poured contempt on the luxuries, pride, and honors of this world. They were treated as the offscouring of all things, unfit for society, unfit to live.

"Do not be surprised, my brothers—if the world hates you!" 1 John 3:13

And yet, like Israel in Egypt, the more they were persecuted, the more they multiplied and grew; until at length they spread not only over the Roman empire—but nearly over the world. And, had they retained . . .
  the simplicity of their lives,
  the spirituality of their minds, and
  the correctness of their creed—
they would no doubt have encircled the globe!
But at length they were . . .
  courted by royalty,
  loaded with wealth,
  became intoxicated with worldly honors,
and then their glory departed!
They drank into the spirit of the world,
conformed to its maxims and customs,
sought its approbation and applause—and
so fell from their exalted station, and lost their real dignity. The 'sect' that had been spoken against everywhere, with the exception of a few—was swallowed up in a worldly church! 

There are still some, who, like the ancient sect of the Nazarenes, are spoken against everywhere. They will not swim with the stream. They will not compromise their Master's honor, or give up their Master's truth. According to the light they have—they walk; and they rejoice to exalt the Savior, humble the sinner, and proclaim salvation, all of grace. They rejoice that they are counted worthy to suffer shame, for His dear name.

Reader! Do you belong to this sect? Is there anything in your religion that is distasteful to the world, anything that draws forth its opposition, or excites its contempt? The carnal mind is still enmity against God, and if we are godlike—that enmity will manifest itself against us!

If we copy Christ's example, as set before us in the gospel; if we testify against the world, that its works are evil, and call upon it to repent, as Christ did—we shall soon be hated by the world!

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There is a way to hell—even from the very gates of heaven!

(James Smith, "
Not Far from the Kingdom" 1859)

"You are not far from the kingdom of God." Mark 12:34

Many are in this dangerous position. They are not far from the kingdom of God—but not actually in it.

They have clear light in their heads—but have no grace in their hearts. They know the gospel in theory—but have no inward experience of its power. But no man can be saved by light in the mind; there must be the life of God within the soul.

They have not only clear light—but correct morals. The tongue is controlled. The temper is governed. The life is regulated. But with all this, the soul is dead in trespasses and sins. There may be morality—without
spirituality. The life may not only be correct—but there may be a regular attendance on gospel ordinances. They may come as God's people, sit as God's people, hear and sing as God's people—and yet not be in the kingdom of God!

There may be no objection felt, or opposition shown to the doctrines or duties of the gospel. All may be admitted, professed, and even admired; but still the person may not be in the kingdom of God.

There may also be a form of prayer—but prayer without faith—prayer without the heart, without the soul.

They may be employed in teaching God's Word, either in the Sunday School, or in the pulpit—and yet not be in the kingdom of God.

O how solemn is the thought, how searching is the fact—that people . . .
  may have correct views of truth;
  may regularly attend on the means of grace;
  may acquiesce in the doctrines and duties of Christianity;
  may associate and unite with God's people;
  may regularly bow the knee in prayer; and
  may employ their time and talents in instructing others in the things of God—and yet never enter into the kingdom of God themselves!

Reader beware! for many rest short of vital religion. They know nothing of a broken heart for sin, of living faith in Christ, or fellowship with God through Him. They rest in a form of knowledge, or in a routine of religious services. Such may find out their mistake too late, as did the foolish virgins—when the door was shut! Or, like those referred to by our Lord when He said, "Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" Matthew 7:22-23

Many will come very near to the kingdom—but will never enter it. As John Bunyan says, "There is a way to hell—even from the very gates of heaven!"

But it must be dreadful to come near, so near to heaven—and yet to be thrust down to hell!

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God's jewels are often found buried in the worst filth!

(James Smith, "Exhortation and Encouragement" 1859)

"I have many people in this city!" Acts 18:10

What kind of a city was it?
Corinth was one of the most worldly and immoral cities of the east. Here was the temple of Venus, with its degrading and disgraceful services.

What kind of people were they?
"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were! But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God!" 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. This is the apostle's own reply to the question.


1. The Lord's people are often found in the most unlikely places! Who would have expected to find God's chosen people—a multitude of them—in a place so foul, so polluted, so degraded—as Corinth?

God's jewels are often found buried in the worst filth!

2. The Lord chooses the most unlikely people! Who would ever have thought that the Lord would have chosen: the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, slanderers, swindlers—to be saved? But He did!

God's people are picked off the foulest dunghills!

O the wonders of sovereign grace!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Coming daily and hourly to Jesus

(James Smith, "Wealth for Souls" 1859)

"I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things!" Philippians 3:8

All true Christians know Christ—not with a mere theoretical knowledge, which may be obtained from books; but with a knowledge which the Holy Spirit works in the heart. We know Christ . . .
  in the glory of His person,
  in the perfection of His work, and
  in the riches of His wondrous grace.
We so know Christ, that He stands out before us, as the chief among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely One. And the more we know Him—the more intimate we wish to become with Him!

We not only know Christ—but we need Him. And the longer we live—the more we need Him. Nor do we merely need Christ, but we need everything in Christ, or that Christ has. We need . . .
  His blood to cleanse us,
  His righteousness to clothe us,
  and His Spirit to sanctify us.
We need Christ daily, hourly!

As we need Christ—so we come to Christ. Not once for all, but we continue to come. We must come to Him . . .
   in every trial,
   in every trouble, 
   in every conflict,
   to unburden our minds,
   to find rest for our souls

We come to Him . . .
  for wisdom,
  for strength,
  for holiness.

Much of experimental religion consists in coming daily and hourly to Jesus.

"Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened—and I will give you rest!" Matthew 11:28

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

My shield

(James Smith, "Wealth for Souls" 1859)

The privileges of the godly are many and great—but this is an especial one: "My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart." Psalm 7:10

This implies exposure to foes—Satan, evil men, and death—against these we need defense.

It implies opposition—and the opposition of our foes is great, daring, and deadly.

It implies danger to be apprehended—because we are weak, timid, and unskillful—and our foes are strong, daring, and experienced.

Our safety therefore, stands in what the Lord is to us—He is our shield, and such a shield as no one besides has, or can have.
He is omniscient to see all our foes and dangers.
He is omnipresent to help us at all times, and against all opposers.
He is omnipotent to defend us, and secure us from all evil.
He is faithful to fulfill His word, and carry out His engagements.
He will come between the believer and danger.
He will preserve the trusting soul from all real injury.
He will protect the upright in heart everywhere, and at all times.

What a mercy! What an unspeakable privilege is this!

"You who fear the Lord—trust in the Lord! He is their help and shield." Psalm 115:11. O for grace to trust the Lord with all, to trust the Lord for all, and to trust the Lord under all! Holy Spirit, strip us of all confidence in the flesh, of all reliance on man, and of all trust in circumstances; and bring us by Your divine and holy teaching—to trust in the Lord alone!

"He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge." Psalm 144:2

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

SELF is always the carnal man's god

(James Smith, "The Believer's Triumph" 1862)

"So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God." Romans 8:8

No lost sinner, while carnal, while minding the things of the flesh—can ever please God. He cannot . . .
  at any time—either in youth or old age;
  in any place— either common or sacred;
  under any circumstances—of either sickness or health;
  at any season—either in life or death.

Man is totally depraved. He is wholly fallen. The whole head is sick, the whole heart is faint. The leprosy cleaves to him, has spread over him, and dried up all the moral and vital moisture of the soul. The man is therefore lost, wholly lost, eternally lost—unless God interposes for his rescue!

All that he does while he is so—is displeasing to God.
"The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination to the Lord." Proverbs 21:27
"The ploughing of the wicked is sin." Proverbs 21:4

He has no faith, and "without faith it is impossible to please God." In all his prayers, tears, alms-deeds, and other good works—there is something that is displeasing to God. It is like the offering of Cain; for the person must be reconciled to God—before the sacrifice can be accepted by God. Until then he cannot please God, for he cannot set his heart to do it. He may try—but the innate disposition of the heart while carnal, will be too strong for him, and will lead him to break through all his vows, promises, and resolutions.

He may change  his conduct—but he cannot change his heart; for its depravity has become natural to it.

He cannot do what God requires—as God requires it.

If what he does is externally good, it is internally bad.

The motive prompting, and the end aimed at—are alike evil, for SELF is always the carnal man's god.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Paul's criterion

(James Smith, "The Believer's Triumph" 1862)

And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ—he does not belong to Christ." Romans 8:9

This is Paul's criterion. No matter what a man has, if he does not have the Spirit of Christ"he does not belong to Christ!"

This divine agent, as the Spirit of Christ—always convinces the soul of its need of Christ. He always leads to the cross of Christ! He will not allow the soul to stop at, or rest in, sacraments, ceremonies, or any duties it may perform.
He points to the cross.
He leads to the cross.
He fixes the sinner's eye upon the cross.
He brings peace to the soul through the cross.
He dedicates and devotes the sinner to God's service at the cross.
Every one who has the Spirit of Christ—knows something of the worth, virtue, and efficacy of the cross of Christ.

The Spirit of Christ—always conforms to the image of Christ. Christ is the model after which the Spirit works; and by the Word and ordinances, by providence and His own inward operations—He stamps the likeness of Christ upon the soul. He fixes the eye on Jesus, who, as a mirror, represents and sets forth the glory of God; and by looking at Jesus—a divine transformation takes place—and we are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Unless, therefore, we have been taught our need of Christ as a Savior; unless we have been led to the cross of Christ to seek salvation there; unless we are in some degree conformed to Christ, and are daily seeking more conformity—we have not the Spirit of Christ. "
And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ—he does not belong to Christ."

The Spirit of Christ—is the great proof that we are Christ's. There may be much feeling, a moral reformation, and a profession of religion—without this.

But if we have the Spirit of Christ, our thoughts will be engaged with Him, our hearts will be going out to Him, and we shall at times long to depart, that we may be with Him, and see Him as He is!

The Spirit of Christ always renders Christ precious—and produces the highest possible esteem of Him.

The Spirit of Christ always makes its possessor like Christ. Not perfectly, here on earth—yet He kindles and keeps alive a desire for perfect likeness. This is the great, the grand, the habitual aim of the soul, always and everywhere—to be like Christ!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Angry with God!

(James Smith)

"The Lord asked: Have you any right to be angry?" Jonah 4:4

Jonah quarreled with his God. And who has not? We may not
as plainly as he did—but we have been in the same sullen
, and manifested the same morose spirit.

Very few are well satisfied with the Lord's plans.
Fewer still are always pleased with the Lord's works.

How many quarrel with His sovereignty!
What hard things have been spoken against it!

How many complain of His providence—and think it
unwise, unkind, and almost unjust!

Beloved, we are often angry with God!
This temper shows itself . . .
  in fretfulness,
  in complaining,
  in sullen gloom.

"Have you any right to be angry?"

Angry with your Father . . .
  whose wisdom is infinite,
  whose love is as constant as the day, and
  who constantly showers His blessings upon you!

Angry with your God, who has . . .
  pardoned all your heinous sins,
  provided for your innumerable needs,
  blessed you with countless spiritual blessings!

Surely it is a sin, a grievous sin, not to be pleased . . .
  with all that He does,
  with all that He has provided,
  and with all that He requires.

"Have you any right to be angry?"

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The sufferings of this present time

(James Smith, "
No Comparison!" 1862)

"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time—are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us!" Romans 8:18

Paul compares present sufferings—with future glory.

Believers are exposed to all kinds of suffering, and instead of obtaining an exemption from afflictions—they are assured that it is through much tribulation that they must enter into the kingdom of God.

Some endure inward suffering, with which no one is fully acquainted but God Himself. They have such darkness, gloom, distress, agitation, trouble, and sorrow—as would not be easy to describe.

Some suffer much in body, from the stressed and disordered state of the nervous system, from chronic diseases, or deformities in the physical frame. They seldom move without suffering, and for years together have but little freedom from weakness and pain. They live a life of suffering, a kind of dying life—and think much of heaven as of a place where there is no more pain.

Some suffer much financially; scarcely anything seems to prosper with them; losses, crosses, and opposition meet them at every turn; and though they live honestly, and conduct their business honorably—they are thwarted, hindered, and filled with perplexity. No one can tell what they suffer from financial trials and difficulties.

Others suffer from reproach, misrepresentation, strife, and persecution in the world, or in the Church—or both! No one seems to understand them, or is prepared to sympathize with them; they are like "a sparrow alone upon the house-top." False friends and open enemies unite to trouble and distress them, so that they often sigh, and say, "O that I had wings like a dove, for then would I fly away and be at rest!"

Others in the domestic circle, or from some of the relationships of life—are called to suffer long and seriously.

But whether from trouble of mind, sickness of body, trials in business, family difficulties, or persecution for Christ's sake—all suffer, and most believers suffer much!

But compare their present sufferings—with their future glory:
Glory which will exclude all pain and suffering, all sin and sorrow!
Glory beyond the reach of all foes and the cause of all trouble!
Glory which includes happiness—perfect, perpetual, never-ending happiness!
Glory which includes honor—the highest, holiest, and most satisfying honor!
Glory, or splendor—which will fill the soul, clothe the body, and dignify the entire person forever!

Filled with light, peace, and joy; clothed with beauty, brightness, and magnificence—they will appear with Christ in glory—filling them with wonder and unutterable delight!

This glory will be possessed by us—as part of our marriage portion and inalienable inheritance. But we can form no adequate idea of that glory, for "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined—what God has prepared for those who love Him!" 1 Corinthians 2:9

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

No more disease, no more weakness, no more pain!

(James Smith, "The Hope of Creation" 1862)

"The creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay—and brought into the
liberty of the children of God!" Romans 8:21

We shall soon have 'glorious liberty'!

The SOUL will be gloriously free:
  free from every fetter that binds it,
  free from every conflict that tries it, and
  free from every burden that bows it down.

The BODY will be gloriously free! It will be a glorious body—like the body of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

No more disease, no more weakness, no more pain!
But health, strength, and ease will characterize it forever!

The whole person, body, soul, and spirit—will be in perfect liberty:
  free from the curse—and every cross;
  free from every foe—and all our fears;
  free from every fault—and our numerous failings;
  free from frailty—and free from folly;
  free from all internal, external, and eternal evil.

It will be freedom crowned with glory—with . . .
  glorious beauty,
  glorious brightness,
  glorious majesty,
  glorious honor, and
  ineffable splendor!

Eye has never seen, ear has never heard, nor has the heart of man ever conceived of anything so grand, so magnificent, so glorious—as what God has provided, and has in store for His people!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

We are saved by HOPE

(James Smith, "
Salvation by Hope" 1862)

"Salvation is of the Lord!" Jonah 2:9

Salvation includes . . .
  our election—which is past;
  our effectual calling and sanctification—which are present;
  and our glorification—which is future.

We were chosen to salvation by the Father;
we are redeemed by Jesus Christ;
we are sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

God is the author of salvation;
grace is the source from which salvation flows;
Jesus is the Savior;
faith is the grace that receives salvation;
while separation from the world and dedication to God—prove that we are saved.

To all this, our apostle adds another view, and says, "We are saved by HOPE" Romans 8:24

Not in the same sense as we are saved by faith—which delivers us from guilt, degradation, and eternal death—by receiving from Christ, and confiding in Christ.

To be saved by hope—is to be kept, preserved, upheld, or sustained, in the midst of foes, dangers, and trials.

Hope quickens us in duties—and preserves us from becoming cold and dead.
It comforts us in tribulations—and keeps us from being disheartened and gloomy.
It enables us to overcome temptation—and so to hold on our way, looking unto Jesus.
It gives us peace in death—in the sure prospect of victory over the grave.

Thus hope saves us:
by preventing despair—into which we can never fall while hope lives within us;
by preserving us from desperation—to the verge of which we are sometimes brought;
by guarding us against rebellion—the seeds of which are still thickly sown in our corrupt hearts; and
by protecting us against apostasy—into which we can never fall so long as we hope in God.

From many evils, at many times, in many ways—we are saved by hope!

Hope is in God—as its highest object and best end.
Hope is through Christ—who is the way to the Father, the truth, and the life.
Hope is on the ground of the Word, which warrants, excites, and regulates it.
Hope is for all that God has promised, whether temporal or spiritual, in this world or the next.
Hope should be encouraged—as it brings . . .
  glory to God,
  comfort to our souls,
  credit to our religion, and
  honor to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Holy Spirit, fill us with a lively hope, and teach us to expect . . .
  all that God has promised,
  all that Christ has procured, and
  all that You have revealed in Your most holy Word.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

We owe everything to grace!

(James Smith, "The Believer's Triumph" 1862)

Glory be to God, for making us, who were once
children of wrath—and consequently heirs of hell—
children of grace—and consequently heirs of heaven!

We owe everything to grace—free grace, sovereign grace!

Our heavenly Father requires us . . .
  to believe Him without questioning,
  to obey Him without objecting,
  to follow Him without hesitating, and
  to submit to Him without murmuring or complaining.

As God's chosen, adopted, and redeemed children
—filial love, filial confidence, and filial obedience,
should characterize our lives.

"For the grace of God that brings salvation has
 appeared to all men. It teaches us to say 'No'
 to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live
 self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this
 present age, while we wait for the blessed hope
 —the glorious appearing of our great God and
 Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to
 redeem us from all wickedness, and to purify for
 Himself a people that are His very own, eager
 to do good works." Titus 2:11-14

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

I myself will help you!

(James Smith)

"For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you: Do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you," declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel." Isaiah 41:13-14

Wherever the Lord leads us—He will support us; nor shall the difficulties of the way, or the weakness we feel—be too much for us. His hand is stretched out to us, and it is for faith to lay hold of it and proceed, confident of divine assistance.

His omnipotent arm is the protection of His people in danger—and the strength of His people in weakness. He is "an ever-present help in times of trouble". He is a God at hand. Are you weak, or in difficulty? Plead His Word; it is plain, positive, and sure. He cannot lie. He will not deceive. His strength is made perfect, and is glorified in your weakness. Fear not, underneath you are His everlasting arms!

He CAN help—for He is omnipotent. He WILL help—for He has given you His Word. "Trust in the Lord at all times; yes, trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength!" That strength is promised to you, and will be employed for you in answer to prayer.

Why then are you so fearful? Why cast down? He says, "I myself will help you!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Paul's subject!

(James Smith, "Rills from the Rock of Ages", 1860
 This one is a bit longer—but it it choice!)

Paul was . . .
  an extraordinary man,
  called to an extraordinary office, and
  being sent to perform an extraordinary work
  —he chose an extraordinary subject.

He knew history,
he was acquainted with philosophy, and
he was well versed in tradition.

There were . . .
  few subjects that he could not handle,
  few themes that he could not discuss,
  few congregations that he could not interest.

But he made the conversion of sinners the object of his life—and he chose Christ crucified to be the subject of his ministry!
No matter where he went—he took his subject with him.
No matter whom he addressed—he directed their attention to this point.

He knew what man required—and what man preferred; but it made no matter to him. As he wrote to the Corinthians, so he always acted, "Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified—a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God!" 1 Corinthians 1:22-24

Paul's subject then, was Christ Crucified!

Paul CHOSE this subject—and he had good reasons for doing so!

First, it is a most comprehensive subject,
for it is the center where . . .
  time and eternity,
  God and man,
  sin and holiness,
  life and death—meet!

It is the theater where God . . .
  displays His perfections,
  unfolds His purposes,
  maintains His rights,
  confounds His foes, and
  secures His glory!

It is the instrument by which . . .
  death is destroyed,
  sin is conquered,
  rebels are reconciled,
  saints are sanctified, and
  heaven is opened!

It is an object which . . .
  confounds reason,
  astonishes angels,
  attracts sinners,
  imparts holiness, and
  furnishes matter for endless praise!

Second, it is the most honored subject.
It tunes the harps of heaven.
It fills the sweetest songs on earth.
It is that by which the Holy Spirit works . . .
  in the conversion of sinners,
  in the consolation of saints,
  in the sanctification of believers, and
  in the establishment of the church of God.

By the preaching of Christ crucified . . .
  the oracles of the heathen were silenced,
  the altars of the heathen were cast down, and
  the temples of the heathen were transformed into houses of prayer.

By the preaching of the cross . . .
  society is elevated,
  nations are honored, and
  millions are snatched from Hell!

Third, it is a subject that is intensely hated!
hate it, and try to prevent its publication.
Erroneous men hate it, and try to substitute something of their own for it.
And just in proportion as men are influenced by the prince of darkness, or yield to the pride of their own fallen natures—will
they hate the doctrine of the cross!

But all Christians love it,
all the ministers of Christ glory in it,
all poor perishing sinners need it!

The more we know of God's nature and government—the more we see of man's natural state and condition.
And the more we feel of our own weakness and depravity—the more shall we prize and value the doctrine of the cross!

Christ, and Him crucified shall be . . .
  the subject of my ministry,
  the theme of my songs,
  the joy of my heart, and
  the foundation of my everlasting hope!

O my soul, look to Jesus—as crucified for your sins!

Think of Jesus—as dying in your stead!

Speak of Jesus—as full of grace and love!

Christians! WHAT do we preach?
We are ALL preachers—and we preach daily!
But do we preach Christ?
Do we speak of Him with our tongues?
Do we write of Him with our pens?
Do we honor Him with our lives?
Is Christ and His glory—the grand end and aim of our life?

WHY do we preach Christ?
Is it out of love to Him?
Is it that we may do good to souls?
Is it that we may please God?

Christ crucified should be preached by every Christian.
Christ crucified should be preached in all companies.
Christ crucified should be preached every day.

  if we would save souls from death,
  if we would rescue sinners from eternal misery,
  if we would make believers happy,
  if we would cover Satan with shame,
  if we would deprive death of its sting, and
  if we would make the road to glory plain—
we must preach Christ crucified;
we must exercise faith in Christ crucified;
and we must daily meditate on Christ crucified!

May Christ and His cross be all my theme!
May Christ and His cross be all my hope!
May Christ and His cross be all my joy!

Cross of Jesus! Jesus crucified!
To you would I look in life—and all its troubles!
To you would I look in death—and all its pangs!
To you would I look in glory—when filled with all its joys!

"God forbid, that I should glory, except in the cross of my Lord Jesus Christ!"