Grace Gems for OCTOBER 2012 HTML clipboard

Grace Gems for OCTOBER 2012

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When others were at their amusements

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

The more pains we have taken for Heaven — the
sweeter Heaven will be when we come there.
When a farmer has long been working hard — it
is pleasant to enjoy the fruit his labors. Just so,
when in Heaven, we shall remember our former
zeal and earnestness for the kingdom — which
will sweeten Heaven.

It will add to the joy of heaven, for a Christian to
ponder, "Such a day I spent in examining my heart.
Such a day I was weeping for sin. When others
were at their amusements
— I was at prayer.
And now, have I lost anything by my devotion? No!
My tears are wiped away, and the wine of paradise
cheers my heart. I now enjoy Him whom my soul
loves! I am possessed of a glorious kingdom! My
labor is over — but my joy remains forever!"

"Better is one day in Your courts than a
 thousand elsewhere!" Psalm 84:10

Heaven will make amends for all!

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All glittering glow-worm glories

(Anne Dutton's Letters on Spiritual Subjects)

"O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who
 looks after you and cares for you." Hosea 14:8

As to our heart-idolatry, it is a very great iniquity
of which the Lord's own people are deeply guilty.

Let us bring our every idol unto Him to be entirely
slain, so shall our hearts be separated from them,
and our admiration of, and sinful affection to, all
glittering glow-worm glories
sink and die before
the rising attracting display of His all-transcendent
and infinite excellencies!

"Little children, keep yourselves from idols!" 1 John 5:21

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You shall love him!

(J. R. Miller, "Loving Your Neighbor")

"You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Mark 12:31

What is it to love our neighbor? It is the loving that is hard. We could do almost anything else, short of loving unpleasant neighbors.

But love is the word — and no revised version changes it. No matter how disagreeable, unlovely, unworthy, our neighbors may be — still the commandment persistently and relentlessly says to us, "You shall love him!"

Our neighbors are around us all the time, needing our love. Indeed, they touch our lives so continually, that we must guard our every look, word, and act — lest we hurt some sensitive spirit.

Some people seem to forget that other people have feelings. They are constantly saying words and doing things which give pain. True love is thoughtful. We ought to train our hearts to the most delicate sense of kindness, that we may never, even jokingly, give pain to any other human being.

Our neighbors have hearts, and we owe to every one of them — the beggar we meet on the street, the degraded wretch we find crawling in the mire of sin's debasement, the enemy who flings his insults in our face — to every one, we owe the love that is thoughtful, gentle, and gives no hurt.

Our love ought also to be patient. Our neighbor will have his faults. But we are taught to bear with one another's infirmities. If we knew the story of men's lives, the hidden burdens they are often carrying, the unhealed wounds in their heart — we would have most gentle patience with them. Life is hard for most people, certainly hard enough without our adding to its burdens — by our criticisms, our jeering and contempt, and our lack of love.

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He will not forget the lambs!

(John Angell James, "The Christian Professor")

"He tends His flock like a shepherd. He will carry the
 lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart.
 He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young."
    Isaiah 40:11

Are you alarmed at the difficulties and dangers of
the wilderness way? Consider that you enjoy the
notice, the love, intercession, and the support of
the Great and Good Shepherd, who carries the
lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart.
He will not forget the lambs — their feeble bleat
attracts His notice, their helplessness draws His
attention; and for them He puts forth all His
pastoral kindness and skill.

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To fill Heaven with Hells!

(Thomas Brooks, "The Crown and Glory of Christianity,
 or, HOLINESS, the Only Way to Happiness", 1662)

"Man, who is vile and corrupt, who drinks up evil
 like water!" Job 15:16

A wicked man is a sin-lover; he is a sin-maker,
he lives in sin upon choice.

All profane people . . .
  give up themselves to wickedness,
  wallow in all ungodliness,
  delight themselves in all manner of filthiness,
  commit wickedness with greediness,
  draw iniquity and sin with cords of vanity,
  weary themselves to commit iniquity, and
  are so desperately set upon wickedness,
that neither the rod of God, the lashes and checks of
their own consciences, nor the flashes of Hell upon their
souls — can stop them. They are resolved that they will
gratify their lusts — though they damn their souls; that
they will live wickedly — though they perish eternally!

By custom in sin, they have destroyed all conscience
of sin, and contracted such desperate hardness upon
their own hearts, as neither . . .
  God's smiles — nor frowns,
  God's promises — nor threatenings,
  life — nor death,
  Heaven — nor Hell,
can possibly hinder them!

The hearts and ways of wicked men are full of
Hells; and therefore to fill Heaven with such,
would be to fill Heaven with Hells!

Certainly God will shut the gates of glory upon
such workers of iniquity. These souls are . . .
  sadly abandoned by God, and
  woefully blinded by Satan, and
  fully ripened for ruin.

"All will be damned who have not believed the truth, but
 have delighted in wickedness." 2 Thessalonians 2:12

"Unless you are converted . . . you will never enter
 the kingdom of Heaven." Matthew 18:3

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It is in life's common experiences

(J. R. Miller, "The Life of Jesus")

"When He was at the table with them, He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him!" Luke 24:30-31

It was a wonderful walk that the two friends took that afternoon. The Man who joined them, seemed only to be a common stranger. He had a kindly manner, and the three were soon talking familiarly. He opened to them, the meaning of great Scripture words, saying many things His companions could never forget. They were so pleased with His company, that when they reached the end of their journey, they urged Him to become their guest, and He consented.

It was at their evening meal together, that the Stranger revealed His identity. Perhaps, as He took the bread and was in the act of breaking it, they saw His hands with the print of the nails in them. We do not know just how it happened; we only know that it was while they were at their plain, simple evening meal — that "then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him!"

It is in life's common experiences
, that Christ usually reveals Himself to us. One of His disciples asked Him to show them the Father — he wanted some remarkable revealing, a great glory, like the Sinai splendor. Jesus said, "Have I been with you these three years — and have you never known Me? I have been showing you the Father all the while!" He had been doing this in sweet, gentle living, in patience, in kindness, in thoughtfulness, in purity and simplicity of life. The disciples had seen all these beautiful things in their Master, day after day — but they had not dreamed that these were divine revealings; that in them, He was revealing God!

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Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?

(J.R. Miller, "A Message for the Day" 1901)

"Far be it from You to do such a thing — to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from You! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?" Genesis 18:25

Some people worry about the destiny of the Heathen, and ask if God can be just — and do so and so. A great deal better solution of such perplexities, is Abraham's: "Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?" Surely we can trust Him with all such things, and leave them in His hands.

Others have perplexity concerning the apparent lack of justness in the allotment of earth. Some holy people have little but trouble here — and some wicked people have very much worldly favor. We have the same truth on which to rest all such seeming inequities. God will surely do right. What we call trouble, may have more real blessing in it, than what we call prosperity. Also, the end of life is not here. God has eternity in which to adjust the inequities.

There are other people who think that their own lot is very hard. They complain about their trials and disappointments, and are discontented with what God does for them and gives them. They say that God is good; yet they imply by their petulance, that He is not good. This word of Abraham's should rebuke all such complaints. Sooner might the Heavens fall — than that in any smallest thing, God could do anything but what is absolutely right and just.

"Commit your way unto the Lord; trust also in Him — and He shall bring it to pass." Psalm 37:5

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He loves to see His poor, helpless, suffering patients come!

(James Smith, "The Love of Christ! The Fullness, Freeness, and Immutability of the Savior's Grace Displayed!")

"The whole head is sick, and the whole heart is faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it — but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores!" Isaiah 1:5-6

Sin not only brings us under condemnation — but it assumes the character of a disease! It has infected the whole soul, and spoiled every faculty. We need healing — as well as pardon. Jesus, in the greatness of his love, provides for both. He becomes not only our Redeemer — but our Physician. He employs His Spirit, His Word, and His Providence — to bring us to a healthy state.

He lays open the wound to our view — and then applies His own most precious blood to heal it! He makes us to feel our sickness — and then bestows His grace to restore us to health. All healing is by His skill — and through His Spirit, grace, blood, and Word. He is the maker of the Balm of Gilead — and He is the Physician there.

He undertakes the healing of all who apply to Him! He never yet failed in any case! He heals all gratuitously. His wisdom shines in the management of every case — and also His skill in healing the most desperate and alarming cases. He acts so kindly and tenderly to all His patients, and heals so judiciously — that He wins the heart of every patient — and all are delighted with His skill.

Thousands throng Him — but not one is overlooked or neglected by Him. He is always at His office, and ready to heal. He loves to see His poor, helpless, suffering patients come — and always greets them with a hearty welcome.
The plague of the heart,
the plague of the head,
weakness in the hands,
feebleness in the knees,
disease in every form —
are easily removed by Him.

Before Him . . .
the lame man leaps like an deer,
the tongue of the dumb sings,
broken hearts rejoice, and
the blind see out of darkness and out of obscurity.

This process of healing is on-going — none are completely healed at present. And when they are healthy enough — they are sent from the hospital below — to paradise above! Every patient who is healed — is provided with a mansion above, and has a title to the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. There the inhabitants shall no more say, "I am sick," and the people who dwell there are forgiven their iniquities!

All His patients feel and manifest the symptoms of returning health — which are love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, meekness, goodness, faith, etc. But none of them rest satisfied with any symptoms; they all visit His office frequently, asking Him to complete the cure. And such is His love, kindness, and grace — that He assures all those who have a good work begun in them — that He will complete it in the day of His glorious appearing!

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The Christian's vital breath!

(David Harsha, "The Savior's Intercession")

"O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive
 to my cry for mercy." Psalm 130:2 

Prayer is the motion of our renewed hearts towards God.

Prayer lifts the soul unto Him in sweet and heavenly
communion, 'Unto You, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.'

Prayer calls down upon us the choicest blessings of heaven.

Prayer brings our spirits near the throne of
God, and fills them with inexpressible delight.

Prayer elevates our views and affections far above
this world of sensual and perishing enjoyments.

Prayer is the Christian's vital breath!

No true child of God can live without prayer.

If we have the spirit of adoption, we
will be often crying, 'Abba, Father!'

"O God, You are my God; early will I seek You.
 My soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You
 in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water."
     Psalm 63:1

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There are many roaring devils around us!

Thomas Watson, "Body of Divinity")

There is nothing that more troubles a child of God, than that he fears he shall never hold out. "These weak legs of mine," he says, "will never carry me to Heaven!" But he is kept by the power of God! Once in Christ — forever in Christ. A believer may fall from some degrees of grace — but not from the state of grace.

How despairing is the Arminian doctrine of falling from grace! Today a saint — tomorrow a reprobate; today a Peter — tomorrow a Judas! This is  like boring a hole in a vessel — to make all the wine of his joy run out. Were the Arminian doctrine true, what comfort would it be — to have one's name written in the book of life — if it might be blotted out again? But be assured, for your comfort, that grace — if it is true — though ever so weak, shall persevere.

"Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation." 1 Peter 1:5.
See whence it is, that believers persevere in holiness. It is to be ascribed solely to the power of God.

It is a wonder that any Christian perseveres, if you consider:

(1.) Corruption within. There is more sin than grace; yet grace is habitually predominant. Grace is like a spark in the sea — it is a wonder that it is not quenched! It is a wonder that sin does not destroy grace.

(2.) Temptations without. Satan envies us happiness, and he raises his militia, and stirs up persecution. He shoots his fiery darts of temptations — which are called darts for their swiftness, fiery for their terribleness. We are every day beset with devils! As it was a wonder that Daniel was kept alive in the midst of the roaring lions, so there are many roaring devils around us — and yet we are not torn in pieces! Now, whence is it, that we stand against these powerful temptations? We are kept by the power of God!

(3.) The world's old snares — riches and pleasure. How many have been shipwrecked upon these golden rocks! "Demas has deserted me, because he loved this present world." 2 Timothy 4:10

What a wonder any persevere in holiness — that the earth does not choke the fire of all holy affections! Whence is this, but from the power of God? We are kept by His power.

"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. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand!" John 10:27-29

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If I am seeking everything that can delight my senses

(William Law, "A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life")

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction — and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life — and only a few find it!" Matthew 7:13-14

If I am seeking everything that can delight my senses, and regale my appetites; spending my time and fortune in pleasures, in diversions, and worldly enjoyments — then how can it be said that I am working out my salvation with fear and trembling?

If there is nothing in my life and conversation that shows me to be different from the heathen; if I use the world, and worldly enjoyments, as the generality of people now do, and in all ages have done — then why should I think that I am among those few who are walking in the narrow way to Heaven?

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Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest

(J. R. Miller, Daily Bible Readings in the Life of Christ, 1890)

There is a tendency to leave the Bible out of the prayer-closet. We hear a great deal of earnest counsel concerning secret prayer:
  we must both open and close the day at God's feet;
  prayer is the Christian's vital breath;
  if we would live strong, noble, beautiful, radiant, and useful Christian lives — we must get seasons of secret prayer into all our busy days.

But we must take our Bibles with us into the prayer-closet. While we talk to God — we must also let God talk to us. God feeds us through His Word. It is "into all truth" (John 16:13) that the Holy Spirit leads Christ's disciples. Seasons of prayer without meditation on some portion of the Word of God, cannot yield the full blessing that we need.

Life is hard for most of us; at least, it is hard to live nobly, lovingly, purely, Christianly. We can do so only by getting a great deal of help from Christ. We need, therefore, daily to heed His invitation, "Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." (Mark 6:31). In communion with Him — we shall receive strength and blessing to enable us to live each day more beautifully, more victoriously, more radiantly, more lovingly. We shall rob ourselves therefore, of divine help — if we do not make room in our busiest days, for quiet retreats from noise and strife — to be alone with Christ, where we may sit at His feet to hear His words; or lie on His bosom to absorb His spirit — for the refreshing and transforming of our lives.

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All Mine are Yours — and Yours are Mine!

(James Smith, "The Pleading Savior" 1861)

"All Mine are Yours — and Yours are Mine!" John 17:10

This claim of Jesus refers especially to the elect. Says Jesus, "All whom the Father has, are Mine!" They are Mine by redemption — and Yours by election!

Election, redemption, sanctification, and glorification — are divine works encompassing the same people.
All whom the Father chose — the Son redeemed;
all whom the Son redeemed — the Spirit sanctifies;
and all who are . . .
  chosen by the Father,
  redeemed by the Son,
  and sanctified by the Spirit —
  are certainly and eternally glorified!

"For those He foreknew — He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.
  And those He predestined — He also called;
  and those He called — He also justified;
  and those He justified — He also glorified!"
    Romans 8:29-30

The Father's children — constitute the Son's Church;
the Father's beloved — is the Son's bride;
the Father's property — is the Son's portion.

"All Mine" — that is, all of My disciples, My friends, My sheep — "are Yours."
The Father as Creator, gives them to the Son as Redeemer.
The Son as Redeemer, hands them over to the Spirit as the Sanctifier.
The Spirit works in them all the good pleasure of His goodness, and brings them to the Son, who presents them to the Father as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless!

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Both our teacher and our lesson!

Charles Spurgeon)

"He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures — the things concerning Himself." Luke 24:27

The two disciples on the road to Emmaus had a most profitable journey. Their companion was the best of teachers — in whom is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

This unrivaled tutor used as His class-book, the best of books. He showed us that the surest road to wisdom is not speculation, reasoning, or reading human books — but meditation upon the Word of God. The readiest way to be spiritually rich in heavenly knowledge, is to dig in this mine of diamonds, to gather pearls from this heavenly sea! When Jesus Himself sought to enrich others — He wrought in the quarry of Holy Scripture.

The favored pair were led to consider the best of subjects — for Jesus spoke of Jesus, and expounded the things concerning Himself! Here the diamond cut the diamond, and what could be more admirable? The Master of the House unlocked His own doors, conducted the guests to His table, and placed His own dainties upon it! He who hid the treasure in the field — Himself guided the searchers to it. Our Lord would naturally discourse upon the sweetest of topics — and He could find none sweeter than His own person and work.

With an eye to these things — we should always search the Word. O for grace to study the Bible with Jesus as
both our teacher and our lesson!

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The Profligate's Doom!

(Theodore Cuyler)

"He who is often reproved and hardens his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy!" Proverbs 29:1

Not many years ago, an eminent London clergyman observed among his regular hearers, a young man whose appearance excited in him an unusual interest. He took pains to learn the young stranger's history, and found that he was the son of pious parents, and had been trained to respect the gospel of Christ. A devout mother had added to her prayers the fervent precept, "My son, if sinners entice you — do not consent!"

The young man at length was missed from his place in the church. The watchful eye of the minister sought for him in vain. He had met with a company of witty and engaging skeptics, who had persuaded him to abandon the house of prayer, for the more "manly" entertainments of their infidel club, where the ribaldries of atheists were rendered more palatable by the lively jest, and the exhilarating glass. His conscience stung him, but their merry laugh soon drowned the troublesome remonstrance. He proved to be an apt scholar in the ways of sin. His Sunday instructions among the skeptics soon prepared him for the haunts of revelry, and for those chambers which lie nearby the door of Hell. A short career of reckless dissipation did its work of ruin upon his slight and delicate frame.

His former pastor, who had well-near forgotten him, was one day surprised by an invitation to visit the unhappy youth on his dying bed. He found him sinking rapidly, and sinking without hope. As the man of God approached the bedside, the young man hid his face and refused to speak to him. Finding it impossible to draw a word from the wretched victim of remorse, who was just about entering eternity in such a state of sullen despair — the minister offered a fervent prayer and turned away. He reached the door, his hand was upon the latch, when the young man suddenly rose in the bed, and beckoned him to return. He went back and leaned his head over the bed to receive the message. The young man threw his arms about him and drawing his head close to his lips, whispered in convulsive accents, "I am damned!" and then sank back silent on his pillow. No further efforts or entreaties could rouse him. The heart-wrung pastor pleaded with him, but in vain. Having pronounced his own awful doom — his lips refused to speak again; and before the clock struck the hour of midnight, his unhappy soul was in the eternal world!

Young man! as you read the appalling narrative of the poor profligate's doom — you may be reading your own! If your feet have forsaken the house of God — if you have been seen on the seat of the scorner — if you have returned home at the midnight hour from the card table, or the drinking circle — you have good cause to tremble! Persist in your course of self-destruction, and you may meet that young man in the world of eternal despair! Partners in misery, you may, to all eternity, curse yourselves as the authors of your own damnation!

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Refined worldliness

Horatius Bonar)

The multitudes of professors among us want as much religion as will save them from Hell — and not an atom more. The world is their real God; gold is their idol — it is in mammon's temple that they worship. They are, in fact, worldly men varnished over with religion — that is all. Oh, do not trifle with religion. Do not mock God and Christ.

Refined worldliness is the present snare of the Church. The young are trained and encouraged by their parents to be "lovers of pleasure." Parties, dancing, theaters, and such like, are no longer forbidden things to the followers of the Lamb!

Parents! Beware of giving your children a taste for the world's gaieties.

"Do not love the world!" (1 John 2:15). Do not teach your children to love it. Keep them "from being polluted by the world!" (James 1:27).

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When Christ finds the wandering sinner

(William Bacon Stevens, "The Parables" 1857)

"And when he finds it, he joyfully lays it on his shoulders and goes home!' Luke 15:5-6

The parable of the Lost Sheep teaches us the tender care and compassion of our Lord towards the recovered wanderers. What could illustrate this more than the shepherd's act of laying the lost sheep, when he found it, "on his shoulders," and so bearing it home?

When Christ finds the wandering sinner — He does not roughly upbraid him, He does not drive him harshly before Him, but . . .
  throws His loving arms around him,
  takes him to His bosom,
  lays him on His shoulder where no harm can reach him,
  protects him by His hands, and
  pledges the mightiness of His own power to return the wanderer to the fold of God.

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An epitome of all vanity

(Thomas Brooks, "The Crown and Glory of Christianity; or, HOLINESS, the Only Way to Happiness" 1662)

"Truly, every man at his best state is altogether vanity!" Psalm 39:5

By Adam's fall, man has become . . .
  a pile of dust,
  a puff of wind,
  a dream,
  a shadow,
  a puff of smoke,
  a worm,
  a debased soul,
  a curious nothing.

Yes, man having fallen from his primitive glory, has become altogether vanity, says the psalmist in Psalm 39:5, "Truly, every man at his best state is altogether vanity!" Truly, every man — not some man, but every man at his best state, when he is in the height and perfection of all creature comforts and contentments — is altogether, not in some measure — but altogether, vanity — all vanity! Since the fall of Adam, every natural man in his best estate is vanity; nay, every man is every vanity. Imagine whatever vanity you will — fallen man is that! He is a comprehensive vanity — he is an epitome of all vanity.

Man before his fall, was the best of creatures; but since his fall, he has become the worst of creatures. By his fall he has fallen below the very beasts that perish. He who was once the image of God, the glory of paradise, the world's ruler, and the Lord's darling — has now become a burden to God, a burden to himself.

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People who long to be rich

(Letters of John Newton)

An inordinate desire and attachment to the things of this present world, is a prevailing cause of a spiritual declension. Unless this evil principle is mortified in its root, by the doctrine of the cross — it will in time prevail over the most splendid profession. That love of the world, which is inconsistent with the true love of God — manifests itself in two different ways, as men by temper and habit are differently inclined:

The first is covetousness or greediness for gain. This was the ruin of Judas, and probably the cause of the defection of Demas. By the honorable mention made of him in some of Paul's epistles, Demas seems to have had much of Paul's confidence and esteem for a season. Yet at length his covetous passion prevailed, and the last account we have of him from the apostle, is, "Demas has deserted me — because he loved this present world." 2 Timothy 4:10

Again, there are people not chargeable with the love of money for its own sake — for they rather squander it — than hoard it. Yet they are equally under the influence of a worldly spirit! They manifest their worldly hearts — by an expensive taste in the articles of dress, furniture and feasting — which are always unsuitable to a Christian profession.

It is not easy to exactly mark out the precise line of Christian conduct in these respects, which befits the different situations in which the providence of God has placed us. Nor is it necessary, to those who are poor in spirit — and upright in heart. A simple desire of pleasing God, and adorning the gospel, will solve most cases of how a believer should spend his money — which occupy little and trifling minds. The inclination of our heart — will always direct and regulate our voluntary expenses. Those who love the Lord, and whose spirits are lively in His service, will avoid both stinginess and selfish extravagance. They will rather lean to the frugal side in how they spend their money on themselves — that they may be better able to promote God's cause, and to relieve the necessities of His people.

Misers, who can be content with the mere form of religion, will hoard all they can save — in order to gratify their avarice! Others will spend all they can spare — to gratify their vanity, or their worldly appetites!

It is not easy to determine which of these evils is the greatest. Perhaps of the two, the miser is least accessible to conviction, and consequently the most difficult to be reclaimed. But a desire for extravagance and indulgence, if persisted in — will gradually lead to such compliances with the spirit and maxims of the world, as will certainly weaken, if not wholly suppress — the exercise of vital godliness. In whatever degree the "love of the world" prevails — the "health of the soul" will proportionately decline.

"People who long to be rich, fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction! For the love of money is at the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows!" 1 Timothy 6:9-10

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What, O Christian, has God done for you?

(John MacDuff, "Looking unto Jesus!" 1856)

"Consider what great things He has done for you!" 1 Samuel 12:24

What, O Christian, has God done for you?

He has blotted out your sins from the book of His remembrance.

He has regenerated you, and made you a new creature in Christ Jesus.

He has destroyed the enmity of your carnal mind, and shed abroad His love in your heart, by the Holy Spirit whom He has given you.

He has delivered you from the tyranny of Satan, and translated you from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His beloved Son.

He has, in a word, reconciled you to Himself, justified you freely by His grace, adopted you into His family, and given you a name and place in His house, better than that of sons or of daughters!

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My eyes have seen your salvation!

(James Smith, "Food for the Soul" 1867)

"My eyes have seen your salvation!" Luke 2:30

So said Simeon — when he saw the child Jesus. Yes, Jesus is God's salvation, and everything necessary to save a sinner is to be found in Him!
His blood atones for our sins.
His righteousness justifies our persons.
His Spirit sanctifies our natures.
His precepts direct our steps.
His promises comfort our hearts.
His peace keeps our minds.
His intercession secures our lives.
His power subdues our foes.
His providence supplies our needs.
His beauty feasts our souls.

Jesus is enough. Jesus is all.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ!" Ephesians 1:3

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Abide with us!

(James Smith, "Food for the Soul" 1867)

"Abide with us!" Luke 24:29

So said the disciples when Jesus was about to leave them — and so shall we say, if we know the sweetness of His presence. When Jesus comes and manifests Himself, when He draws out our souls into sweet communion with Himself — then . . .
  we enjoy a Heaven on earth,
  our hearts glow with gratitude and burn with love,
  we are filled with joy, and
  dread nothing so much as His leaving us!
Then we cry, "Abide with us!"

Precious Lord Jesus . . .
  come and visit my soul,
  reveal Your glory,
  shed abroad Your love in my heart, and
  draw me into the closest, sweetest communion with Yourself!

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That ocean in which all true delights and pleasures meet!

(John Flavel)

Christ is the very essence of all delights and pleasures — the very soul and substance of them. As all the rivers are gathered into the ocean, which is the meeting-place of all the waters in the world — so Christ is that ocean in which all true delights and pleasures meet!

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

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The cup of wrath!

(Andrew Bonar, "The Cup of Wrath!")

"In the hand of the LORD is a cup full of red wine mixed with spices; He pours it out, and all the wicked of the earth drink it down to its very dregs!" Psalm 75:8

There has been only One who has ever drunk this cup down to its very dregs!

Cain has been drinking it for 5,000 years and finds that his punishment greater than he can bear — but has not come to the dregs.

Judas had been drinking it for some 2000 years, often crying out with a groan that shakes Hell, "Oh that I had never been born! Oh that I had never seen or heard of the Lord Jesus Christ!" But he has not reached the dregs.

The fallen angels have not come near the dregs — for they have not arrived at the judgment of the Great Day.

The only One who has taken, tasted, drunk, and wrung out the bitterest of the bitter dregs — has been the Judge Himself, the Lord Jesus!

You know how often, when on earth, He spoke of it. "Are you able to drink the cup that I shall drink of?" (Matthew 20:22). "The cup which My Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?" (John 18:11).

The universe saw Him with it at His lips. It was our cup of trembling; the cup in which the wrath due to His people was mixed. What wrath, what woe! A few drops made Him cry, "Now is my soul deeply troubled!" In the garden, the sight of it wrung out the strange, mysterious words, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death!" Though God-man, He staggered at what He saw, and went on trembling.

The next day, on Calvary, He drank it all! I suppose the three hours of darkness may have been the time when He was drinking it down the very dregs; for then arose from His broken heart, the wail which so appealed to the heart of the Father, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me!" As He drank the last drop, and cried out, "It is finished!" we may believe that the angels felt an inconceivable relief — and even the Father Himself! So tremendous was the wrath and curse! — the wrath and curse due to our sin!

Jesus drank that cup as the substitute for His innumerable people, given Him by the Father; and thereby freed them from ever tasting even one drop of that fierce wrath, that "cup of red wine, mixed with spices," with its dregs — its unknown terrors!

"Death and the curse were in our cup,
 O Christ, 'twas full for Thee!
 But Thou hast drained the last dark drop,
 'Tis empty now for me!"

"Once it was mine, that cup of wrath,
 And Jesus drank it dry!"

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Self-elevated little popes!

(Arthur Pink, "Private Judgment" 1950)

"But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers." Matthew 23:8

In every generation, there are those of an officious spirit who aspire to leadership, demanding deference from their fellows. Such men insist upon unqualified subjection from their followers. Their interpretation of the Scriptures must not be challenged, their dictates are final. Everyone must believe precisely what they teach, and order all the details of his life by the rules of conduct which they prescribe — or else be branded as a heretic.

There have been, and still are, many such self-elevated little popes in Christendom, who deem themselves to be entitled to implicit credence and obedience, whose decisions must be accepted without question. They are nothing but arrogant usurpers, for Christ alone is the Master of Christians; and since all of His disciples are "brethren," they possess equal rights and privileges.

"Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father — He who is in Heaven." Matthew 23:9. This dehortation has ever been needed by God's people, for they are the most part simple and unsophisticated, trustful and easily imposed upon. In those verses, the Lord Jesus was enforcing the duty of private judgment, bidding believers to allow none to be the dictators of their faith, or lords of their lives.

No man is to be heeded in spiritual matters, any further than he can produce a plain and decisive, "Thus says the LORD" as the foundation of his appeal. To be in subjection to any ecclesiastical authority which is not warranted by Holy Writ, or to comply with the whims of men — is to renounce your Christian freedom. Allow none to have dominion over your mind and conscience. Be regulated only by the teaching of God's Word, and firmly refuse to be brought into bondage to "the commandments and doctrines of men." Instead, "Stand fast in the liberty with which Christ has made us free," yielding unreservedly to His authority alone.

God does not require the minds and consciences of His children to be enslaved by any ecclesiastical dominion. Each one has the right to exercise his own judgment.

"Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care . . . not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock." 1 Peter 5:2-3. Instead of lording it over God's heritage, preachers are to be "examples to the flock" — personal patterns of good works, holiness, and self-sacrifice; models of piety, humility, and charity.

Love of power has been as common a sin in the pulpit, as love of money, and many of the worst evils which have befallen Christendom, have issued from a lusting after dominion and ecclesiastical honors. Such is poor human nature, that good men find it hard to keep from being puffed up and misusing any measure of authority when it is committed unto them, and from not doing more harm than good with the same. Pastors are to make self-abnegation, and not self-exaltation, their constant aim.

The right of private judgment does not mean that each Christian may be a law unto himself, and still less lord over himself. We must beware of allowing liberty to degenerate into license! No, it means the right to form our own views from Scriptures, to be in bondage to no ecclesiastical authority, and to be subject unto God alone. Two extremes are to be guarded against:
1. slavery to human authority and tradition, and
2. the spirit of self-will and pride.

Private judgment does not mean private imagination, but a deliberate conviction based on Holy Writ! Though I must not resign my mind and conscience to others, or deliver my reason and faith over blindfold to any church — yet I ought to be very slow in rejecting the approved judgment of God's true servants. Self-conceit is to be rigidly restrained. Private judgment is to be exercised humbly, soberly, and impartially, with a willingness to receive light from any quarter.

Ponder the Word for yourself; but mortify the spirit of haughty self-sufficiency, and be ready to avail yourself of anything likely to afford you a better understanding of God's truth. Above all, daily beg the Holy Spirit to be your teacher! And always accord your brethren the same right and privilege, which you claim for yourself.

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Tribulations, difficulties, and disappointments

(Letters of John Newton)

"Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is!" 1 John 3:2

Let us not be greatly discouraged at the many tribulations, difficulties, and disappointments which lie in the path which leads to glory — seeing that our Lord has foretold us of them, has made a suitable provision for every case we can meet with, and is Himself always near to those who call upon Him in His almighty strength — as a sure refuge, and a never-failing, ever-present help in every time of trouble!

Note likewise, that He Himself was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief for our sakes. He drank off the full cup of unmixed wrath for us — shall we then refuse to taste of the cup of affliction at His appointment, especially when His wisdom and love prepare it for us, and proportion every circumstance to our strength? He puts it into our hands, not in anger but in tender mercy — to do us good, to bring us near to Himself; and He sweetens every bitter draught, with those comforts which none but He can give!

The time is short, the world is passing away, all its cares and all its vanities will soon be at an end! Yet a little while, and "we shall see Him as He is!" Every veil shall be taken away — every seeming frown be removed from His face — and every tear wiped away from ours! We shall also be like Him!

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And will He feed His birds — and starve His children?

(John MacDuff, "Looking unto Jesus!" 1856)

"Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" Matthew 6:26

From the general care of God for these lower creatures — with what confidence may we infer God's special care for His people, who are His by so many close and tender ties!

Are the birds of the air fed? Do they find their food provided by a hand which they cannot recognize? Does He who gave them being, and who has assigned to them their appointed place in the ranks of creation, supply their daily needs, so that none of their species perish for lack of sustenance, but continue, from age to age — a standing monument of His providential goodness?

And will He feed His birds — and starve His children? Will He care for the one — and neglect the other? It cannot possibly be! The Savior refers to their comparative value, and asks, "Are you not of more value than they?" You are rational creatures, spiritual creatures, immortal creatures, yes, redeemed creatures — and therefore unspeakably more important than the birds are. If He then cares for them — oh! will He not care for you?

In connection with the above consideration, we may refer to the relationship which exists between God and His people. He is their Father — and they are His sons and daughters. Now a kind earthly father has it in him, as a natural instinct, to care for his children. His heart is set upon helping, supporting, directing, comforting, and blessing them. Such a concern has he for their well-being, that scarcely any sacrifice is deemed too costly by which that concern shall appear in practical manifestation. And if his concern for them should be repaid by nothing but ingratitude, as, alas! is often the case — yet even this cannot destroy his affections and feelings.

And if earthly fathers care for their children — will not our heavenly Father care for His? If they are full of concern for their offspring — then is it to be supposed that He, who implanted those kindly principles in their hearts, can be unconcerned about His offspring?

"Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" Matthew 6:26

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How great then, is the blessedness of true believers!

(John MacDuff, "Looking unto Jesus!" 1856)

God says, "I will be their God — and they shall be My people." 2 Corinthians 6:15. This is a promise in which every other promise is included. Sometimes God says to the Christian: I will be your strength, your righteousness, your deliverer, your shield, your reward; but these are nothing but modifications of the former.

Believer! endeavor to realize something of the blessedness involved in having God for your God. For this purpose, think of the representations He gives of Himself in His word. Think of Him . . .
  in all the perfections of His nature,
  in His unsearchable riches,
  in His unspeakable glory,
  in His omnipotent power,
  in His universal dominion,
  in His spotless purity,
  in His eternal veracity,
  and, above all, in His infinite grace and mercy!
And having viewed Him thus, you may venture to say, with unwavering faith and adoring gratitude, "This God is my God forever and ever, and He will be my guide even unto death!" Psalm 48:14. How great then, is the blessedness of true believers!

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The soul of His sufferings

(John MacDuff, "The Holy Mount" 1856)

"The place which is called Calvary." Luke 23:33

Christ's death on the cross was preeminently painful. It appears to have been devised with savage ingenuity, to cause as much suffering as possible. Hence the vital parts are left untouched; the wounds are inflicted upon the extremities of the body, iron spikes being driven through the hands and feet; while the poor sufferer has to hang in a position which admits of no change or rest, and burning inflammation works its way gradually to the seat of life. It was doubtless a death painful in the extreme; so much so, that the strongest term we have for expressing intense agony, the term "excruciating," is derived from it.

But the outward sufferings which the Savior bore on Calvary were nothing, when compared with His inward sufferings. His bodily agonies, as great as they were, were as light as a feather, in comparison with the agonies of His soul. The sufferings of His soul — were truly the soul of His sufferings. But of those soul-sufferings, what can we say?
We may, in some measure, describe what was going on without — but who can describe what was passing within?
We may describe the derision of the Jews — but who can describe the desertion of His Heavenly Father?
We may describe the soldiers spear — but who can describe the arrows of the Almighty?
We may describe the nails piercing His sacred flesh — but who can describe eternal justice piercing both flesh and spirit?
We may describe the cup of vinegar which He tasted — but who can describe the cup of wrath which He drank to its lowest dregs?
We may describe the accursed tree on which He hung — but who can describe the curse of the law which made it so?
In such an attempt — language fails, how poor is thought, and how impotent are the most emphatic representations! Truly, His soul-sufferings are unfathomable!

Reader, would you have your heart softened, and your love inflamed? Go to Calvary, to gaze on the wondrous spectacle which is there presented. While so doing let your language be,

"Was it for crimes that I have done,
 He groaned upon the tree?
 Amazing pity! grace unknown!
 And love beyond degree!"

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If I could but have my wish!

The following is an excerpt from the diary of James Smith)

February 10, 1859.
More than seven years have rolled away since my return to pastor in Cheltenham, and surely I have seen enough to exclaim, "What has God wrought!"

Never did I love to honor Jesus more. Never was I more desirous to win souls. Surely the Lord will work for me, and by me more than He ever has done. He reads my heart, He hears my sighs, He listens to my prayers. His mercy is ever great towards me.

Now that I am getting old and grey-headed, He will not forsake me. I desire nothing more than deeper sanctification — more holiness. I do love holiness in itself, and admire it in others — but I want to realize its full, all-pervading power in myself. If I could but have my wish, every inward motion, and every outward action, every thought, and every deed — would be entirely holy! Well, this will be the case soon, for my God will not withdraw His hand from me, until I am as holy as He is holy.

Alas! Alas! how far am I from this at present. Daily I feel ashamed of myself — that I exhibit so little of the nature and disposition of Jesus!