Grace Gems for November 2014

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Amused, entertained, seduced!

(S. Houghton)

The fact is that theatrical performances, in order to be paying propositions, must pander to the baser passions in unregenerate men and women. They must be a reflector of the world the world that lies in the Wicked One. This, say some, is their merit they are a mirror of life, and as life includes the foul and the sordid, so too must the theater.

We grant that the playwright sets out to mirror life. So too does Holy Scripture. No book is so revealing as to human nature! No book better portrays human sin! But if the theater and the Book do one and the same thing then wherein lies the vast difference between them? And why may not one be the handmaid of the other?

For a variety of reasons; but principally for this that, whereas the Book shows . . .
  sin in its true evil colors,
  sin in its devilish origin,
  sin in its downward course,
  sin in its dreadful wages,
  sin in its awful and eternal consequences;
on the other hand the theater displays sin that men may be amused, entertained, and alas, all too often seduced! The Book smites the conscience and leads a man to say, "Woe is me, for I am undone, for I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips, for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty!" It causes him to cry, "God be merciful to me a sinner!"

But the theater tends in another direction altogether. As it sets out to entertain, so also it blurs a man's sight of that which is truly spiritual and divinely holy; as it aims to amuse, it dulls a man's ability to examine himself in the pure light of revealed truth.

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A holy antipathy against sin

(Thomas Watson, "Doctrine of Repentance")

There is no better sign of true repentance, than a holy antipathy against sin. Sound repentance begins in love to God and ends in the hatred of sin.

How may true hatred of sin be known?

1. When a man's HEART is set against sin. Not only does the tongue protest against sin but the heart abhors it. However lovely sin is painted, we find it odious just as we abhor the picture of one whom we mortally hate, even though it may be well drawn.

Suppose a dish is finely cooked and the sauce good yet if a man has an antipathy against the meat, he will not eat it. So let the devil cook and dress sin with pleasure and profit yet a true penitent has a secret abhorrence of it, is disgusted by it, and will not meddle with it.

2. True hatred of sin is UNIVERSAL. There is a dislike of sin not only in the judgment but in the will and affections. Many a one is convinced that sin is a vile thing, and in his judgment has an aversion to it yet he tastes sweetness in it, and has a secret delight in it. Here is a disliking of sin in the judgment and an embracing of it in the affections! Whereas in true repentance, the hatred of sin is in all the faculties, not only in the mind but chiefly in the will: "I do the very thing I hate!" (Romans 7:15). Paul was not free from sin yet his will was against it.

3. He who truly hates one sin hates all sins. He who hates a serpent hates all serpents. "I hate every false way!" (Psalm 119:104). Hypocrites will hate some sins which mar their credit. But a true convert hates all sins gainful sins, complexion sins, the very stirrings of corruption.

4. A holy heart detests sin for its intrinsic pollution. Sin leaves a stain upon the soul. A regenerate person abhors sin not only for the curse but for the contagion. He hates this serpent not only for its sting but for its poison. He hates sin not only for Hell but as Hell.

Those who have no antipathy against sin, are strangers to true repentance. Sin is in them as poison in a serpent, which, being natural to it, affords delight. How far are they from repentance who, instead of hating sin love sin! To the godly sin is as a thorn in the eye; to the wicked sin is as a crown on the head! "They actually rejoice in doing evil!" (Jeremiah 11:15).

Loving of sin is worse than committing it. What is it, which makes a swine love to tumble in the mire? Its love of filth. O how many there are who love the forbidden fruit! They love their sin and hate holiness.

There should be a deadly antipathy between the heart and sin. What is there in sin, which may make a penitent hate it?

Sin is the accursed thing, the most deformed monster! Look upon the origin of sin, from whence it comes. It fetches its pedigree from Hell: "He who commits sin is of the devil!" (1 John 3:8). Sin is the devil's special work. How hateful is it to be doing that which is the special work of the devil indeed, that which makes men into devils!

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'Chance' or 'blind fate'

(Samuel Davies, "Divine Government the Joy of Our World")

"The LORD reigns! Let the earth be glad!" Psalm 97:1

We are exposed to numberless accidental and unforeseen dangers, which we can neither prevent nor counter. Sickness and death may proceed from a thousand unsuspected causes. Our friends, our estates, and, in short, all our earthly enjoyments may be torn from us by a variety of accidents. We walk, as it were, in the dark, and may tread on remediless dangers before we are aware.

"But the LORD reigns! Let the earth be glad!" All contingent events are at His disposal and under His sovereign control. The smallest things are not beneath the notice of His providence, and the greatest are not above it! Those diseases and misfortunes which seem to happen 'by chance' are commissioned by the Lord of all! And those which result evidently from 'natural causes' are sent by His almighty will. He says to one, "Go!" and it goes; and to another, "Come!" and it comes!

He orders the devastations that are made by the most raging elements!

If flames lay our houses in ashes they are kindled by His breath!

If hurricanes sweep through our land, and carry desolation along with them they but perform His sovereign will, and can do nothing beyond it!

His hand hurls the lightning bolt, and directs it where to strike!

An arrow or a bullet shot at a venture in the heat of battle is carried to its mark by divine direction!

How wretched a world would this be were it not under the wise management of divine Providence! If 'chance' or 'blind fate' were its rulers what desolation would crowd upon us every moment! We would soon be crushed in the ruins of a fallen world. Every wind that blows might blast us with death! And fire and water would mingle in a blended chaos, and bury us in their destruction!

But so extensive is the care of Providence, that even the sparrows may find safety in it! And we cannot lose so much as a hair of our heads, without God's permission! Matthew 10:29-31. And how much more then, are we His redeemed children under His loving guardianship and direction!

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A continual supply of grace, comfort, and strength

An infinite debtor

(William Mason, "The One Thing Needful to Make Poor Sinners Rich, and Miserable Sinners Happy")

I think I feel myself such an infinite debtor to my Lord, for . . .
  His matchless love,
  His rich grace, and
  His glorious salvation,
that I would never stop testifying of Him to my fellow sinners, while . . .
  my heart can beat,
  my tongue can speak,
  or my hand can write.

The design of my writings is to stir up and quicken the Lord's children in the way of . . .
  greater trust in Christ,
  more intense looking to Christ,
  greater dependence upon Him,
  and more consistent abiding in Him
  so that they may . . .
  enjoy more sweet fellowship with Him,
  find more of the His inestimable preciousness,
  and experience more of His wonderful love, which surpasses knowledge.

By thus cleaving, in heart and affection, to our heavenly Bridegroom, we shall be . . .
  more spiritual in our frame of mind,
  more humble in our hearts,
  more circumspect in our walk,
  more heavenly in our conversation,
  and more holy in our lives.
Hence we shall become more dead . . .
  to the world and its vanities,
  to sin and its miseries, and
  to self-righteousness and its deceits.

All is not right between Christ and the soul if it is not earnestly desiring to maintain continuous, holy fellowship with Him studiously pursuing those means which tend to promote the life and power of practical, experimental godliness, and avoiding all things which are contrary to His precious Word.

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One throw of the dice and the great game of life is lost!

(John MacDuff, "Thoughts for the Quiet Hour", 1895)

How many there are with whom the labor of long years is a failure! They are engaged building some favorite edifice, material or mental, literally or figuratively. They dream not that it rests on shifting sands, or on the edge of a muffled volcano!

A teacher bestows his fondest assiduous care on a pupil a young life full of high intellectual promise. A sudden illness comes and sweeps him away!

A parent lavishes his tenderest love and affections, thought and time and money, in raising his child; but, by-and-by, the life of his prodigal son, is to the parent, worse than death.

Yes, often are fondest hopes, best laid plans, glad aspirations, thwarted; the glowing visions of success clouded with misfortune calamity ruin the grave! One throw of the dice and the great game of life is lost!

Not so with imperishable riches "the hope laid up for you in Heaven" bliss beyond the accidents of capricious fortune, bonds that can know no dissolution. "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever!" Psalm 73:26

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It would make us sleep more quietly, and die more comfortably!

(Thomas Manton)

A man goes to bed willingly and cheerfully because he knows he shall rise again the next morning, and be renewed in his strength.

Just so, confidence in the resurrection would make us go to the grave, as cheerfully as we go to our beds! It would make us sleep more quietly, and die more comfortably!

"So will it be with the resurrection of the dead.
 The body that is sown is perishable it is raised imperishable;
 it is sown in dishonor it is raised in glory;
 it is sown in weakness it is raised in power;
 it is sown a natural body it is raised a spiritual body.
  1 Corinthians 15:42-44

"Therefore comfort one another with these words!"
1 Thessalonians 4:18

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Oh, free, rich, glorious grace!

(Anne Dutton's Letters on Spiritual Subjects)

"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" 1 John 3:1

What! Did the Lord of all love us, and give Himself for us?
For us creatures,
for us sinners,
for rebels against His crown,
for His enemies, and
for haters of His ways,
who deserved to be companions with devils,
and were fit fuel for everlasting burnings!

Oh, free, rich, glorious grace!

What could the King of glory see in us to attract His love? Were we not the most loathsome, abominable objects in His sight? And yet we, even we, found grace in His sight!

O! He loved us freely from the infinite grace of His own heart, and the sovereign good pleasure of His will. And He so loved us, that rather than we should die He Himself would die for us; that rather than we should perish in our guilt and pollution He Himself, His righteous, holy Self, would . . .
  bear our sins,
  be made a curse for us, and
  endure all that flaming wrath that we had deserved!

Oh, never was there such a lover as our dear Lord Jesus!

Oh, glorious Lover! He ever lives, He ever loves, and from His love and life He will raise us from all sin and misery unto all grace and glory, and crown us with Him to reign in life eternal. And in all, He will rejoice over us to do good, with His whole heart and His whole soul. Yes, He will delight . . .
  to honor us,
  to lift us beggars from the ash-heap,
  to set us among princes, and
  to make us inherit the throne of glory!

"For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One he loves. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace!" Ephesians 1:4-7

Oh, free, rich, glorious grace!

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There is something fascinating in GRIEF

(Letters of John Newton)

My dear Madam,
There is something fascinating in GRIEF. As painful as it is, we are prone to indulge it, and to brood over the thoughts and circumstances which are suited (like fuel to fire) to heighten and prolong it!

When the Lord afflicts it is His design that we should grieve; but in this, as in all other things there is a certain moderation which befits a Christian, and which only grace can teach. And grace teaches us, not by books or by hearsay but by experimental lessons. All beyond this, should be avoided and guarded against as sinful and hurtful.

GRIEF, when indulged and excessive . . .
  preys upon the spirits,
  injures health,
  indisposes us for duty, and
  causes us to shed tears which deserve more tears.

This is a weeping world. Sin has filled it with thorns and briars, with crosses and calamities. This poor world is a great hospital, resounding with groans in every quarter. It is as a field of battle, where many are falling around us continually! It is more astonishing that we escape so well than that we are sometimes wounded. We must have some share of grief; it is the unavoidable lot of our nature and state; it is likewise needful in point of discipline. The Lord will certainly chasten those whom He loves, though others may seem to pass for a time with impunity. That is a sweet, instructive, and important passage,

"And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: 'My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son.' Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:5-11.

It is so plain that it needs no comment. It is so full that a comment would but weaken it. May the Lord inscribe it upon your heart, my dear Madam, and upon mine.

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Devils in their homes!

O what a Hell will it be!

(John Flavel, "The Method of Grace")

"For what is the hope of the hypocrite when God takes away his soul?" Job 27:8

Nothing more aggravates a man's damnation, than to sink suddenly into it from amid so many hopes and such high confidence of eternal bliss. For a man to find himself in Hell, when he thought himself within a step of Heaven O what a Hell will it be! The higher vain hopes lift men up the more dreadful must their fall be.

"The hypocrite's hope shall perish!" Job 8:13

"The expectation of the wicked shall perish!" Proverbs 10:28

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But how shall we attain this humble frame of spirit?

(Letters of John Newton)

To be humble, and like a little child, afraid of taking a step alone, and so conscious of snares and dangers around us, as to cry to Him continually to hold us up that we may be safe is the sure, the infallible, the only secret of walking closely with God.

But how shall we attain this humble frame of spirit? It must be from a real and sensible conviction of our weakness and vileness, which we cannot learn (at least I have not been able to learn it) merely from books or preachers.

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

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The lesson may be hard to many of us

(J.R. Miller, "The Shining Light" 1911)

"Study to be quiet." 1 Thessalonians 4:11

True spiritual culture is toward the control and the restraining of speech. Christian faith gives a quietness which in itself is one of life's holiest blessings. It gives the quietness of peace a quietness which the wildest storms cannot disturb, which is a richer possession than all the world's wealth or power.

"Study to be quiet." The lesson may be hard to many of us but it is well worth all the cost of learning. It brings strength and peace to the heart.

Speech is good but often silence is better. He who has learned to hold his tongue, is a greater conqueror than the warrior who subdues an empire! The power to be silent under provocation and wrongs, and in the midst of danger and alarms is the power of the noblest, royalest victoriousness!

"Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak." James 1:19

"When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise." Proverbs 10:19 

"Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips." Psalm 141:3

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The Christliest life

(J.R. Miller, "Christian Essentials")

"Give thanks in everything, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Thanksgiving should never be lacking in a Christian life. It is not enough to observe one day in the year for 'Thanksgiving' although that is a beautiful thing to do. Nor is it enough to put a sentence of thanksgiving into our daily prayers, although that, also, is proper.

It is the grateful spirit which pleases God, the spirit that is always full of praise. There should be a note of thanksgiving running through all our life.

Too many of us go to God only with requests, with our burdens, our worries, our troubles; while we but rarely go to Him with any word of thanks.

We are not to be thankful only for the pleasant and agreeable things that come into our days we are to be thankful, too, for the things that appear to us to be adversities. "Give thanks in everything." That means . . .
  in the sad days, as well as in the glad days,
  when clouds are in the sky, as well as when the sunshine is pouring everywhere.

It is said here that this is the will of God for us. The Christliest life is the one that is always keyed to the note of praise and thanksgiving.

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A murmuring spirit

("The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment" Jeremiah Burroughs, 1600-1646)

"Why have You brought us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness? There is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink. And we hate this wretched manna!" Numbers 21:5

"How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who murmur against Me?" Numbers 14:27

I am discontented because I have not those things which God has never promised me.

A wicked man wonders that his cross is so much.
A godly man wonders that his cross is not more.

The wicked man knows of no way to get contentment, but to have his possessions raised up to his desires.

But the Christian has another way to contentment, that is, he can bring his desires down to his possessions, and so he attains his contentment.

The world is infinitely deceived in thinking that contentment lies in having more than we already have.

Here lies the bottom and root of all contentment when there is an evenness and proportion between our hearts and our circumstances. That is why many godly men who are in low position, live more sweet and comfortable lives than those who are richer.

Grace enables believers to see love in the very frown of God's face!

One drop of Divine sweetness will sweeten a great deal of sour affliction.

A thankful heart loves to acknowledge God whenever it has received any mercy.

Oh, that we could but convince men that a murmuring spirit is a greater evil than any affliction, whatever the affliction!A murmuring spirit

"Do not murmur, as some of them did and were killed by the destroying angel." 1 Corinthians 10:10

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The world is an old nut which we crack!

(Thomas Manton, 1620-1677)

"Vanity of vanities! All is vanity!" Ecclesiastes 1:2

Without God, the world is a old nut which we crack, but find nothing in it but dust!

"When I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun!" Ecclesiastes 2:11

"Naked a man comes from his mother's womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand." Ecclesiastes 5:15

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Who cares for pebbles when jewels glitter before him?

(Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883)

"To rule a kingdom, is a nobler matter than to play with marbles."

What, then, is the folly of the worldling's choice, when he prefers to be contending among men for earthly toys instead of seeking those things which are above!

How great is the degradation of professing Christians, when their minds are taken up with fashionable trivialities instead of living alone to glorify their God, and acting as those whom Jesus has made to be kings and priests!

Who cares for pebbles when jewels glitter before him?

Who would choose toys and rattles when the wealth of the Indies is offered him?

Let us be no longer children or fools but act as men who have put away childish things.

"Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth!" Colossians 3:1-2

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Pleasures forevermore!

("Solitude Sweetened" by James Meikle, 1730-1799)

Alas! with what desperate madness are those chargeable who are taken up with transitory trifles, and neglect the realities of the everlasting world? When I consider the vanity of all earthly greatness, I cannot help concluding, that such as pursue after it are intoxicated with poison. But even if the pleasures of this world were real and solid, yet they are so transient that they are not worthy our pursuit!

O how wise they are for earthly trifles but how foolish for eternal realities!

Once a great king made a vast feast for his nobles for a hundred and eighty days; nothing less than a royal treasury could support the expense of such an entertainment.

But the King of kings shall feast and satiate all His mighty angels, and all His chosen people on His own undiminished fullness through eternity itself! Here is . . .
  bliss without ceasing,
  abundance beyond all bounds,
  and possession without end!

"In Your presence is fullness of joy! In Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore!" (Psalm 16:11)

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The funeral of all your sorrows!

An ever-present help in trouble

(Thomas Brooks, "A Word in Season to Suffering Saints")

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior!" Isaiah 43:1-3

This divine presence is the greatest good in the world.

The people of the Lord should be very thankful for His presence with them in their greatest troubles and deepest distresses. O Sirs! this divine presence is a great mercy.
It is a special mercy, it is a distinguishing mercy.
It is a big-bellied mercy which has many mercies in its womb.
It is a mercy-greatening mercy; it greatens all the mercies we enjoy.
It is a mercy-sweetening mercy; it sweetens health, strength, riches, honors, trade, relations, etc.

It is a soul-mercy, a mercy . . .
  which reaches the soul,
  which cheers the soul,
  which lifts up the soul,
  which quiets the soul,
  which satisfies the soul, and
  which will go to Heaven with the soul.

Will you not be thankful for such a mercy? Will you be thankful for temporal mercies and will you not be thankful for spiritual mercies? To enjoy the presence of God when we most need it, is a mercy which deserves perpetual praises. It is the greatest mercy in this world, to enjoy the gracious presence of God in our great troubles and desperate dangers. Therefore be much in blessing God, and in admiring God for His presence with you in a dark and trying day.

"I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you." Joshua 1:5

"The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress!" Psalm 46:7

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1

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The clock of Providence!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883)

"There is a clock with which Providence keeps time and pace and God Himself sets it!"

Our time is always now, for we are in selfish haste. But everything happens according to God's divine time-table. Our sovereign God is never before His time and never too late. We may well admire the punctuality of Heaven.

Our trials come in due season and leave at the appointed moment. Our fretfulness will neither hasten nor delay the purposes of our sovereign God.

We are in hot haste to order all our affairs. But the Lord has the leisure of omnipotence and unerring wisdom and it will be well for us to learn to wait. The clock will not strike until the hour; but when the instant comes, we shall hear the bell.

My soul, trust in God, and wait patiently when He says, "My time has not yet come but your time is always here!" John 7:6

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The rich man and Lazarus

(Thomas Sherman, "Divine Breathings!")

"There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire!'

But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony!'" Luke 16:19-25

The wicked have their Heaven here and their Hell hereafter.
But the righteous have their Hell here and their Heaven hereafter.

Dives had his good things in this life and Lazarus his evil things.
Now Lazarus is comforted and Dives is tormented!

I will not, therefore, envy the prosperity of the wicked,
nor be cast down at the afflictions of the righteous;
seeing the one is drawn in pomp to Hell
while the other swims in tears to Heaven!

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Two filthy rooms!

(Arthur Pink)

"And when the Spirit comes, He will convict the world of sin, and of God's righteousness, and of the coming judgment." John 16:8

One of the principle things which distinguishes a regenerate person from an unregenerate one, may be likened unto two filthy rooms.

In one room, the blinds are raised and the sunlight streams in, exposing the filth all around.

In the other room, the blinds are lowered, and one walking through the room would be unable to discern its real condition.

Thus it is in the case of one who has been renewed by the Spirit: his eyes have been opened to see the awful filth which lurks in every corner of his heart.

But in the case of the unregenerate, though they have occasional twinges of conscience when they act wrongfully, they are very largely ignorant of the awful fact that they are a complete mass of corruption in the pure eyes of the thrice holy God.

Abraham acknowledged, "I am dust and ashes!" Genesis 18:27
Job said of himself, "I am vile!" Job 40:4
David admitted, "I am a worm!" Psalm 22:6
Isaiah confessed, "Woe is me! I am ruined!" Isaiah 6:5
Peter affirmed, "I am a sinful man, O Lord!" Luke 5:8
Paul considered himself, "The chief of sinners!" 1 Timothy 1:15

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Our secret sins!

(Thomas Brooks)

Secret sins are in some respects more dangerous than open sins.

The more inward and secret the disease is the more the man is in danger of losing his life. There are no fevers so dangerous as those that prey upon the inward parts.

Just so, there are no sins so pernicious to the souls of men as those that are most inward and secret. Secret sins often reign in the souls of men most powerfully, when they are least apparent!

"You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of Your presence!" Psalm 90:8

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Oh the depth of the evil of sin!

(John Flavel)

If the death of Christ was that which satisfied God for our sins then there is infinite evil in sin, since it could be not expiated but by an infinite atonement.

Fools make a mock at sin, and there are few who are duly sensible of its evil. But certainly, if God should exact the full penalty of you your eternal sufferings could not satisfy for the evil there is in one vain thought. You may think it severe, that God should subject His creatures to everlasting sufferings for sin; but when you have well considered that the Being against whom you sin is the infinitely blessed God, and how God dealt with the angels that fell you will change your mind. "These he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day!" Jude 1:6

Oh the depth of the evil of sin! If ever you wish to see how great and horrible an evil sin is, measure it in your thoughts, either by the infinite holiness and excellency of God, who is wronged by it; or by the infinite sufferings of Christ, who died to atone for it and then you will have deeper apprehensions of its enormity.

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What shall the swearer say?

Storms and tempests, whirlwinds and hurricanes!

(James Meikle, "Converse with the Unseen World")

"I am the man who has seen affliction!" Lamentations 3:1

Like the rest of Adam's discontented family, I am often . . .
  grumbling at my griefs,
  complaining of my afflictions, and
  on the brink of quarreling at the conduct of Providence itself!

To be without afflictions is impossible here below, where man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward. Not to feel when afflicted, is a stoical, impious stupidity. But to sink under troubles of any kind, is beneath the character of the Christian. Yet, when I reflect on that eternity of bliss which is before me, on that world of glory of which I am an heir I wonder that my afflictions are not more.

Is it too much for me to stumble among the 'rough stones of adversity' to have my flesh pricked with the 'thorns of trouble' who shall so soon walk the golden streets of Heaven, and wear a crown of immortal glory?

Though the whole earth should rise up against me if Heaven, and the God of Heaven are for me I am in perfect safety in the midst of all the storms and tempests, whirlwinds and hurricanes which can blow!

"Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that . . .
  neither death nor life,
  nor angels nor rulers,
  nor things present,
  nor things to come,
  nor powers,
  nor height,
  nor depth,
  nor any other created thing,
can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!" Romans 8:35-39

           ~  ~  ~  ~

O for a thankful heart!

(James Smith, "The Pastor's Morning Visit")

"Be thankful!" Colossians 3:15

What tremendous cause we have to be thankful--what marvelous reasons we have to be grateful!

We are surrounded by mercies, both temporal and spiritual. If we look back, we ought to rejoice that . . .
  God has chosen us in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world;
  He sent His only-begotten Son into the world, to be an atoning sacrifice for our sins;
  He sent His Holy Spirit into our hearts, to convince us of sin, lead us to Jesus, and make us fit for Heaven!

We have . . .
  His Word in our hands,
  His grace in our hearts,
  His mercies in our houses,
  His Heaven before our eyes!

O for a thankful heart!

Let us take our poor, hard, ungrateful hearts to Jesus--He can soften them and fill them with gratitude!

Let us confess our ingratitude before Him, and mourn over our unthankfulness at His feet.

O Jesus, grant us a deep sense of our utter unworthiness, and of Your unmerited goodness--that our souls may daily praise You with joyful lips! May we live . . .
  as thankful dependents on Your gracious bounty;
  as grateful, loving children, before our Father and our God
--and daily be thankful.

Through all eternity, to You,
A joyful song I'll raise;
But O eternity's too short,
To utter all Your praise!

To God the only wise,
Our Savior and our King,
Let all the saints below the skies
Their humble praises bring!

'Tis His almighty love,
His counsel and His care,
Preserves us safe from sin and death,
And every hurtful snare

He will present our souls
Unblemished and complete
Before the glory of His face,
With joys divinely great!

Then all the chosen seed
Shall meet around His throne;
Shall bless the conduct of His grace,
And make His wonders known!

To our Redeemer, God,
Wisdom and power belongs;
Immortal crowns of majesty,
And everlasting songs!
  Isaac Watts, 1674-1748

~  ~  ~  ~

In everything give thanks!

(Thomas Watson, "All Things for Good")

"We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

See what cause the saints have to be frequent in the work of thanksgiving! In this, Christians are defective; though they are much in supplication, yet they are little in thanksgiving. The apostle says. "In everything give thanks!" 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Why so? Because God makes everything work together for our good. We thank the physician, though he gives us a bitter medicine which makes us nauseated because it is to make us well. We thank any man who does us a good turn; and shall we not be thankful to God who makes everything work for good to us?

God loves a thankful Christian! Job thanked God when He took all away: "The Lord has taken away blessed be the name of the Lord!" (Job 1:21). Many will thank God when He gives; Job thanks Him when He takes away, because he knew that God would work good out of it.

We read of saints with harps in their hands an emblem of praise (Revelation 14:2). Yet we meet many Christians who have tears in their eyes, and complaints in their mouths! But there are few with their harps in their hands who praise God in affliction.

To be thankful in affliction is a work peculiar to a saint.
Every bird can sing in spring but few birds will sing in the dead of winter!
Everyone, almost, can be thankful in prosperity but a true saint can be thankful in adversity!

Well may we, in the worst that befalls us have a psalm of thankfulness, because God works all things for our good. Oh, be much in giving thanks to God!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

And did the Holy and the Just,
The Sovereign of the skies,
Stoop down to wretchedness and dust,
That guilty worms might rise?

Yes, the Redeemer left His throne,
His radiant throne on high,
(Surprising mercy! love unknown!)
To suffer, bleed, and die!

He took the dying traitor's place,
And suffered in his stead;
For man (O miracle of grace!)
For man the Savior bled!

Dear Lord, what heavenly wonders dwell
In Your atoning blood!
By this are sinners snatched from Hell,
And rebels brought to God!

What glad return can I impart
For favors so divine?
O take my all, this worthless heart,
And make it wholly Thine!

   Anne Steele, 1859

           ~  ~  ~  ~

I shall forget all the toils of my journey!

(James Meikle, "A Secret Survey into the State of the Soul" April 13, 1779)

There is one thing which is needful and only one thing. Henceforth let me attend to it with diligence and care, and not to make trifles such matters of concern.

If I am traveling to my Father's house, I should attend closely to my journey, and not consume myself with anxiety about the climate, whether it it fair or foul; whether the road is good or bad; and whether I join agreeable company, or walk alone. For my Father's house will make me completely happy, so happy that I shall forget all the toils of my journey!

"Heaven will make amends for all!"

           ~  ~  ~  ~

Satan warms himself at the fire!

(Thomas Watson, "Doctrine of Repentance")

"Fools make a mock at sin!" Proverbs 14:9

Sin is a foolish thing. What greater foolishness is there, than to gratify an enemy! Sin gratifies Satan. When lust or anger burn in the soul Satan warms himself at the fire! Men's sins feast the devil.

Samson was called out to amuse the Philistines. Likewise the sinner amuses the devil! Nothing more satisfies him than to see men sin. How he laughs to see them hazarding their souls for the world as if one would trade diamonds for straws; or would fish for gudgeons with golden hooks!

Every wicked man shall be indicted as a fool, at the day of judgment. "But God said to him You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you!" Luke 12:20

           ~  ~  ~  ~

You have not passed this way before!

(J.R. Miller, "The Shining Light" 1911)

"You have not passed this way before!" Joshua 3:4

All of life is new. There is not a step of it of which it may not be said to us: "You have not passed this way before." Every day's path is new to each one of us.

We say that our life is only dull routine. We rise each morning to go through the same round we went through yesterday. We walk along the same roads every day for years. Life seems to us to have no variety.

Yet really each day is new and peculiar. We do not know what experiences it will bring to us . . .
  what new joys or sorrows,
  what new struggles,
  what new responsibilities,
  what new revealings,
  what new duties.

Each morning the voice of God whispers to us: "You have not passed this way before!"

"So teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12