Grace Gems for JULY, 2015
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That immortal bird!
(Thomas Brooks, "London's Lamentations" 1670)
As the mercy of God is infinite towards the elect — so the justice of God is infinite towards the reprobate in Hell. The reprobate shall have . . .
punishment without pity,
misery without mercy,
sorrow without support,
crying without compassion,
mischief without measure,
and torment without end!
All men in misery comfort themselves with the hope of an ending to their misery.
The prisoner comforts himself with hope of a deliverance.
The mariner comforts himself with hope of a safe harbor.
The soldier comforts himself with hope of victory.
The slave comforts himself with hope of liberty.
But the impenitent sinner has no hope in Hell! He shall have . . .
death without death,
night without day,
mourning without mirth,
sorrow without solace,
bondage without liberty!
The damned shall live as long in Hell — as God Himself shall live in Heaven!
Suppose, say some — that the whole world were turned to a mountain of sand, and that a little bird should come every thousandth year and carry away one grain of sand from that heap. What an infinite number of years — not to be numbered by all finite beings — would be spent before this supposed mountain would be fetched away!
Now if a man should lie in everlasting burnings so long a time as this — and then have an end of his woe — it would administer some ease, refreshment, and comfort to him. But when that immortal bird shall have carried away this supposed mountain of sand a thousand times over and over; alas! alas! man shall be as far from the end of his anguish and torment as ever he was! He shall be no nearer coming out of Hell, than he was the very first moment that he entered into Hell.
If the fire of Hell were terminable, it might then be tolerable.
But being endless, it must needs be easeless and remediless!
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(Letters of John Newton, 1778)
The whole system of my politics is summed up in this one verse, "The Lord reigns! Let the nations tremble!" Psalm 99:1
The times look awfully dark indeed; and as the clouds grow thicker — the stupidity of the nation seems proportionally to increase. If the Lord had not a remnant here, I would have very formidable apprehensions. But He loves His redeemed children; some are sighing and mourning before Him, and I am sure He hears their sighs, and sees their tears. I trust there is mercy in store for us at the bottom; but I expect a shaking time before things get into a right channel — before we are humbled, and are taught to give Him the glory.
The state of the nation, the state of the churches — both are deplorable! Those who should be praying — are disputing and fighting among themselves! Alas! how many professors are more concerned for the mistakes of government — than for their own sins!
"Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns!" Revelation 19:6
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(J. R. Miller "Bethlehem to Olivet" 1905)
"The LORD is my shepherd; I have everything I need!" Psalm 23:1
The shepherd is a favorite Scriptural picture of the divine love and care. In the Old Testament, the twenty-third Psalm gathers the whole wonderful truth in exquisite lines, which are dear to young and old wherever the Bible is known. Then in the New Testament, when our Lord would give His friends the sweetest revealings of His heart toward them, and tell them what they are to Him, and what He would be to them — He says, "I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep." John 10:11
The Hebrew shepherd lives with his sheep. If they are out in the storm — he is with them. If they are exposed to danger — so is he. Just so, Christ lives with His people. He enters into closest relations with them.
The shepherd knows his sheep. He has a name for each one and calls them all by their names. Just so, Christ knows each one of His friends, and has intimate personal knowledge of each one. He knows the best in us — and also the worst. He knows our faults, our sins, our wanderings. Yet, knowing us as we are — He loves us still and never wearies of us!
The shepherd is most gentle with his sheep. He does not drive them — but goes before them and leads them. When they need rest on the way — he makes them lie down, and chooses for their resting-place, not the dusty road — but green pastures. He is especially kind to the lambs, gathers them in his arms and carries them in his bosom. All this is an exquisite picture of the gentleness of our Good Shepherd in His care of His sheep. He is thoughtful toward the weak. He loves the lambs and makes room for them in His bosom. Whatever the need is, there is something in the heart of Christ which meets its craving and supplies its lack! "He will feed 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
The shepherd defends his flock in all danger. Often he had to risk his own safety, even his life, in protecting his sheep. Just so, the Good Shepherd gives His life — for His sheep!
Christ's sheep are absolutely safe in His keeping. "I give unto them eternal life," He said; "and they will never perish — ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!" Then at last, He will bring His own all safely home, "and they shall become one flock — with one Shepherd!"
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My God! the eternal pit has closed upon them forever!
(Edward D. Griffin, "The Watchman" 1839)
"Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from Me." Ezekiel 33:7
Standing on my watch-tower I am commanded that if I see anything of evil coming, to give warning. I solemnly declare that I plainly see evil approaching; I see a storm collecting in the heavens; I perceive the commotion of the troubled elements; I hear the roar of a distant wind — heaven and earth seem mingled in the conflict — and I cry to those for whom I watch, "A storm! A storm! Get into the Ark — or you are swept away!"
Oh! what is it I see next? I see a world convulsed and falling to ruins — the sea burning like oil — nations rising from under ground — the sun falling — the damned in chains before the judgment bar of God, and some of my poor hearers among them! I see them cast from the battlements of the judgment scene! My God! the eternal pit has closed upon them forever!
"Say to them: As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?" Ezekiel 33:11
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There has been too much trifling with Jehovah!
(Archibald Brown, "Amen, O Lord!" 1894)
"Then I answered and said: Amen, O Lord!" Jeremiah 11:5 [Or, So be it, O Lord.]
Perhaps there is a secret contention going on between you and God. God has spoken to you — but thus far there has not been Jeremiah's response of 'Amen, O Lord.'
Here you have the one response which a man of God must ever make to the words of God. When God says anything to him, there is nothing left for him but to bow the head and say, 'Amen, O Lord — so be it!'
This response is the only one that suits a creature's lip.
When God speaks — there is nothing left for man but to hear.
When God decrees — there is nothing for man to do but acquiesce.
When Jehovah gives a command — what is there left for His creature to do but obey?
Any other word than 'Amen' springs from rebellion. Any other response to the word of Jehovah, simply tells of a heart that wars with God.
It is not for men to judge God's words, far less to amend them. If it pleases Jehovah to say anything, no matter how stern, how dreadful, or how searching — there is only one position for man: that is to bow his head and say, 'Amen, O Lord.'
'Oh,' says one, in the proud spirit of our times, 'you are making a bold bid for your God this morning.'
I am. The sovereignty of God needs to be brought to the front. There has been too much trifling with Jehovah! Man needs to have the peacock's feathers plucked out of his cap, and be taught that he is a poor little nothing, and that for God to speak to him at all is infinite condescension, and that for him to say anything else than 'Amen' is boundless impudence!
If God condescends to utter a command, am I to go and judge whether the Lord has a right to say it? Shall I take the word of Jehovah my Maker and weigh it in my scales — and bring up his thoughts to the paltry bar of my fallen reason — and enter my protest unless I can see a good reason for God speaking as He does?
When God promulgates a decree, He does not send it to man to be revised.
His claim is this, "I am Jehovah. I, the Lord, speak that which is right, and let man say: Amen, O Lord."
We are living in the days of the deification of humanity. We hear so much about 'the glory of humanity', and 'the triumphs of humanity' — that God has become little better than a very inferior deity who runs after man and tips His cap to him.
This is not the picture which God's Book gives. God's claim is this, "I am the Lord, and you are but the creatures of My hand. The brightest of My angels are but sparks struck off from the anvil of My creative omnipotence. When I speak, let men and angels be silent; or, if they must speak, let them say: Amen, O Lord!" This is the only response that suits a creature's lip.
If you can conceive of a being who is . . .
and all gathered up into boundless love — that is God.
If such a One speaks — then what is there left for me but to say, 'Amen'? I am stark, raving mad, if I dare question the utterance of Infinite Wisdom. I am unutterably vile, if I can dare to criticize the utterance of Absolute Love. Idiocy must have taken hold of my brain and, alas! of my heart, if I would amend anything which His infinite holiness has declared. The very nature and character of God declare that the only response for man when God speaks, is 'Amen, O Lord.'
Oh, for that grand attitude of resignation and submission to God, that bows before every word of God — whether it be a silver note of mercy from Heaven, or a thunder-clap of denunciation!
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A man may be most religious — and yet be most ungodly!
(Archibald Brown, "The Ungodly and Their End!" 1874)
"The ungodly are not so — but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous." Psalm 1:4-5
The ungodly — who are they?
I know full well who are uppermost in your minds. I no sooner mentioned the text, and spoke about the doom of the ungodly, than you began to think of the vile and the brutalized characters whose deeds of cruelty make up that shameful list of 'crimes of violence' now appearing in our papers day by day. And side by side with them, you doubtless thought of the drunkard, pouring down his throat the liquid fire to better qualify himself for the devil's work! And you thought of brazen-faced harlotry and open immorality and of those who are steeped to the lips in sin — and of those who live, as they say, 'for time — and let eternity look after itself'. These are the characters you pictured when we read the word 'ungodly'. Well, you are right, they are ungodly.
But I am certain that all I have mentioned fail to compose one-tenth part of those who are legitimately to be included in the catalogue of the ungodly. Remember this: that a man may be ungodly, without being any of the characters that I have mentioned! An ungodly man is simply a man who tries to get through the world without God. It is not necessary for a man's life to be a shame and a disgrace, for him to be ungodly. It is not necessary for him to be steeped in all sorts of vice, in order to be without God.
I will go further, and venture to assert that a man may be most moral — and yet most ungodly. While vile immorality has slain its thousands; a godless morality has slain its tens of thousands! And for one that is dragged down to perdition by the mill-stone of vice — there are hundreds who are taken in the meshes of the net of a Christless virtue. A man may be honest in all his transactions, pure in his language, chaste in his thoughts, an honorable man in all his business dealings — just the very one you would like to trade with — his word may be his bond, and all his actions fair — and yet come under the designation of the ungodly. It is with him, simply morality, skin deep; there has been nothing of regeneration within, without which it is impossible for a man to enter into the kingdom.
Look into his character, and you will find that he is ungodly in every part of his life. Inspect all his motives, and you will find that he never does a thing for God's sake. There is no fear of God before his eyes; there is no reverence for God within his heart. He may be gentle, amiable, moral — a good sort of man as far as this world's goodness is concerned. He would be all right, if a man could be all right without God — but he belongs to the ungodly.
We will go one step further, and say that a man may be most religious — and yet be most ungodly. I can conceive of a man being a most talented preacher — and yet being ungodly. It may be that he has a natural liking and gift for speaking; and he may, perhaps, take a very great deal of interest in the increase of his denomination and the outward mechanism of his church — but for all that he is totally devoid of the life of God within his soul.
Oh, pass the question around, I beg you — you who have made profession of the Lord Jesus Christ for years. Have you got something more than the mere name to live? Are you yet — (oh, can it be?) — ungodly, though a professing Christian — ungodly though once immersed in the name of Christ — ungodly, though your life is almost a pattern for the very best of Christians? The question is, have you God or not? For my text is not about the immoral, the profane, or the criminal — but about those who, whatever else they have, possess not God.
"The ungodly are not so — but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous." Psalm 1:4-5
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"I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse." Song of Solomon 5:1
The heart of the believer is Christ's garden. He bought it with His precious blood, and He enters it and claims it as His own.
A garden implies separation. It is not the open common; it is not a wilderness — it is walled around, or hedged in. Would that we could see the wall of separation between the church and the world made broader and stronger. It makes one sad to hear Christians saying, "Well, there is no harm in this; there is no harm in that," thus getting as near to the world as possible. Grace is at a low ebb in that soul which can even raise the question of how far it may go in worldly conformity.
A garden is a place of beauty, it far surpasses the wild uncultivated lands. The genuine Christian must seek to be more excellent in his life than the best moralist, because Christ's garden ought to produce the best flowers in all the world. Even the best is poor, compared with Christ's deservings; let us not put Him off with withering and dwarf plants. The rarest, richest, choicest lilies and roses ought to bloom in the place which Jesus calls His garden.
The garden is a place of growth. The saints are not to remain undeveloped, always mere buds and blossoms. We should grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Growth should be rapid where Jesus is the Gardener, and the Holy Spirit the dew from above.
A garden is a place of retirement. So the Lord Jesus Christ would have us reserve our souls as a place in which He can manifest Himself, as He does not unto the world. O that Christians were more retired, that they kept their hearts more closely shut up for Christ! We often worry and trouble ourselves, like Martha, with much serving — so that we have not the room for Christ that Mary had, and do not sit at His feet as we should. May the Lord grant the sweet showers of His grace to water His garden this day.
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He is both Teacher and Lesson, Guide and Way!
"Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11:29-30
We are here invited to Christ as . . .
our Priest, to be saved by Him,
our Prince, to be ruled by Him, and
our Prophet, to be taught by Him.
First, we must come to Christ as our Rest, and repose ourselves in Him.
Second, we must come to Him as our Ruler, and submit ourselves in Him, 'Take My yoke upon you.' This must go along with the former, for Christ is exalted to be both a Prince and a Savior (Acts 5:31), 'a priest upon his throne' (Zechariah 6:13). The rest He promises is a release from the drudgery of sin — not from the service of God. Christ has a yoke for our necks — as well as a crown for our heads; and this yoke He requires that we should take upon us.
Third, we must come to Him as our Teacher, and set ourselves to learn of Him. We must learn of Him to be 'meek and lowly,' and to mortify our pride and passion, which render us so unlike to Him. We must so learn of Christ, for He is both Teacher and Lesson, Guide and Way.
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Treasures and pleasures!
(Thomas Watson, "God is His People's Great Reward!")
"I am your exceeding great reward." Genesis 15:1
God Himself is His people's reward! In what way is God the reward of His people?
God is a satisfying reward. God is a whole ocean of blessedness, so that the soul, while it is bathing in it, cries out in a divine ecstasy, "I have enough!" Here is fullness — but no excess. Psalm 17:15, "I shall be satisfied when I awake with Your likeness." That is — when I awake out of the sleep of death, having my soul embellished with the illustrious beams of Your glory — I shall be satisfied. In God there is not only sufficiency — but redundancy; not only the fullness of the vessel — but the fullness of the fountain! In God, this Ark of blessedness, are all good things to be found. Therefore Jacob, having God for his reward, could say, "I have enough!" or, as it is in the original, "I have all!" Genesis 33:11. God is all marrow and fatness. He is such an plenteous reward as exceeds our very faith. If the Queen of Sheba's heart fainted when she saw all King Solomon's glory — what would it have done to have beheld the astonishing and magnificent reward which God bestows upon His favorites!
God is a suitable reward. The soul, being spiritual, must have something comparable and suitable to make it happy — and that is God. Light is no more suitable to the eye, nor melody to the ear — than God is to the soul. He pours spiritual blessings into the soul, Ephesians 1:3. He . . .
enriches it with grace,
feasts it with His love, and
crowns it with heavenly glory!
God is a pleasant reward. He is the quintessence of delight! He is all beauty and love! To be feeding upon thoughts of God is delicious. Psalm 104:34, "My meditation on Him shall be sweet." It is delightful to the bee to suck the flower. Just so, by holy musing, to suck out some of the sweetness in God, carries a secret delight in it. To have a prospect of God only by faith is pleasant. 1 Peter 1:8, "In whom believing, you rejoice." Then what will the joy of vision be — when we shall have a clear, personal sight of Him — and be laid in the bosom of divine love! What a delicious reward will God be in Heaven! This will be better felt — than expressed. The godly, entering upon their celestial reward, are said to enter into the joy of their Lord, Matthew 25:21. Oh, amazing! The saints enter into God's own joy! They have not only the joy which God bestows — but the joy which God enjoys!
God is a transcendent reward. The artist, going to paint the picture of Helena, not being able to draw her beauty — drew her face covered with a veil. Just so, when we speak of God's excellencies — we must draw a veil. He is so super-eminent a reward, that we cannot set Him forth in all His luster and magnificence. Put the whole world in scale with Him — and it is as if you should weigh a feather compared to a mountain of gold. God is far better than all other things put together! He is better than the world — and better than Heaven! He is the original cause of all good things. Nothing is sweet without Him. He perfumes and sanctifies our comforts!
God being an infinite reward, there can be no defect or scantiness in it. There is no lack in that which is infinite. Some may ask, "Is God sufficient for every individual saint?" Yes! If the sun, which is but a finite creature, disperses its light to the universe — then much more God, who is infinite, distributes glory to the whole number of the elect. As every person enjoys the whole sun to himself — so every believer possesses the whole God to himself. The Lord has land enough to give all His heirs. Throw a thousand buckets into the sea — and there is water enough in the sea to fill them. Just so, though there are millions of saints and angels — there is enough in God to fill them. God is an infinite reward, and though He is continually giving out of His fullness to others — yet He has not the less. His glory is imparted — not impaired. It is a distribution, without a diminution.
God is an honorable reward. Honor is the height of men's ambition. Aristotle calls it the greatest of blessings. What greater dignity than to be taken up into communion with the God of glory, and to possess a kingdom with Him, bespangled with light, and seated with Christ upon His throne, above all the visible orbs!
God is an everlasting reward. Mortality is the flaw of all earthly things. But God is an eternal reward. Eternity cannot be measured by years nor ages. Eternity makes glory, weighty. Psalm 48:14, "This God is our God forever and ever!" Oh, saints of God, your praying and repenting are but for a while — but your reward is forever! As long as God is God, He will be rewarding you! Hosea 2:19, "I will betroth you unto Me forever." God marries Himself to His people, and this admits of no divorce. God's love for His elect is as unchangeable as His love for Christ! "God is my portion forever!" Psalm 73:26. This portion cannot be spent — because it is infinite; nor can it be lost — because it is eternal.
In God are treasures which can never be emptied — and pleasures which can never be ended!
"You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand!" Psalm 16:11
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It is His groans, His tears, His cries — which best tell what Hell means!
(Archibald Brown, "The Scriptural Doctrine of Hell!" 1878)
"For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to Hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; if He did not spare the ancient world when He brought the flood on its ungodly people; if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly — if this is so, then the Lord knows how to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment!" 2 Peter 2:4-9
It is now customary to describe the views of future punishment held by most of us, as 'medieval', and to declare that our ideas are mainly gleaned from pictures to be found in old galleries. I suppose I have seen about as many of the old masters in the galleries of Europe as most — but I must acknowledge I have never yet seen any picture from hand of a medieval artist half so dreadful as some of the descriptions that fell from our Lord's lips!
'Medieval' is it, to speak about weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth? These words came not from the lips of any mortal man. They fell from the same lips that said, 'Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.' Neither Paul, nor Peter, nor any of the apostles, ever uttered such words as leaped from the lips of the Man of Sorrows. Christ's descriptions of Hell are the most fearful that we have! It is the lips of infinite love that speak of being cut asunder, and about burning with the fire that is never quenched!
O brethren, if you want to measure the deep horrors of the lost — you must measure them by the cross of Christ! It is His groans, His tears, His cries — which best tell what Hell means! Your breaking heart, Lord Jesus — Your flowing blood — Your death-cry of 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?' — these are the things that say to me more than anything else, 'There is a dreadful judgment to come upon the sinner for his sins!'
He who . . .
hurled the angels from Heaven to Hell,
and drowned the ancient world,
and destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah —
has still power to smite! Oh, do not rouse my God to anger. Will you count His patience to be indifference? Because He still lengthens out the time of grace, will you presume on it? 'Escape for your life! Flee from the wrath to come!'
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The most matchless exhibition of mercy — and the most dreadful exhibition of holy wrath!
(Archibald Brown, "HIGGAION" 1873)
"The Lord is known by the judgment which He executes." Psalm 9:16
If you desire to see the most dreadful specimen of God's wrath, I ask you to come with me now, to a place called Calvary. I want you to gather together on that little spot just outside the city, and see such a sight as Moses never saw when he beheld the bush burning. I want you to see on Calvary, the Lord making Himself known by the judgment which He executes.
Who is that upon the tree in agonies and blood? The answer is, Jehovah's Son! What, His beloved Son? Yes, His beloved and only Son. But mark His agony. Do you see that ashen face, furrowed deep, turned up to Heaven? Do you hear that anguished cry that seems to pierce the clouds, 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?'
When the Lord looked at the adorable Jesus, He saw in Him not only His own Son — but the sinner's substitute. He saw on Him my accursed sins — He saw yours also! And oh, solemn truth, although the Substitute was His own Son, He would not, He could not spare the blow! That heaving bosom of His beloved Son, was made the sheath of the sword of His inflexible justice!
God must undeify himself, before He can wink at sin or fail in the execution of His threatened wrath against iniquity. He must cease to be the Holy One, before mercy can ride rough-shod over justice and truth. But righteousness and mercy, truth and peace all meet in the sin-atoning sacrifice.
'The Lord is known by His judgment which He executes.' Above all, by His judgment of sin at Calvary!
Oh, am I speaking to any who imagine sin to be a trifle? I beg you to measure sin by the woes of Christ! If you think that iniquity is but a small thing, understand that iniquity can only be understood as it is measured by the agonies of a dying God. Probe those wounds — and fathom that depth of anguish if you can. Tell me how hot the fire burned within that loving heart; and when you have told me that — you have told me how much God hates sin!
While Calvary is the most matchless exhibition of mercy — it is also the most dreadful exhibition of holy wrath! In one and the same person, and at one and the same time — there is illimitable love to the sinner, and there is illimitable hatred to his sin. Go to Calvary, not to Sinai, to learn how much God abhors this accursed thing, sin!
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The loving heart of an actual living Christ!
(J.C. Ryle, "Holiness, Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots" 1879)
I am afraid that many Christians in our day have lost sight of Christ. They talk . . .
more about salvation — than about their only Savior, and
more about redemption — than the one true Redeemer, and
more about Christ's work — than Christ Himself!
This is a great fault — one that accounts for the dry and shriveled spirit that infuses the religious lives of many who profess faith. As ever you would grow in grace, and have joy and peace in believing — beware of falling into this error!
Cease to regard the Gospel as a mere collection of dry doctrines. Look at it rather as the revelation of a mighty living Being in whose sight you are daily to live.
Cease to regard the Gospel as a mere set of abstract propositions and abstruse principles and rules. Look at it as the introduction to a glorious personal Friend.
This is the kind of Gospel that the apostles preached. They did not go about the world telling men of love and mercy and pardon in the abstract. The leading subject of all their sermons, was the loving heart of an actual living Christ!
This is the kind of Gospel which is most calculated to promote sanctification and fitness for glory. Nothing, surely, is so likely to prepare us for that Heaven where Christ's personal presence will be all, and that glory where we shall meet Christ face to face — as to realize communion with Christ as an actual living Person. There is all the difference in the world, between an idea and a person!
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Actions, words, desires
(Archibald Brown, "The Heart's Cry after God" 1879)
"My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God!" Psalm 84:2
The desires of the heart are the best proofs of salvation; and if a man wishes to know whether he is really saved or not, he can very soon find out by putting his finger upon the pulse of his desires, for those are things that never can be counterfeit.
You may counterfeit words;
you may counterfeit actions;
but you cannot counterfeit desires.
You cannot always tell a Christian by his actions.
For sometimes true Christians act in a very ugly style;
and sometimes those who are not Christians act in a very beautiful way;
and hypocrites often act the best. The whole of a hypocrite's life may be a simple counterfeit.
Nor are our words always a true test. Often the most beautiful experience, as far as language goes, is the experience that falls from the lips of a man whose heart knows nothing about the grace of God. It is possible to mix with God's children until you pick up a sort of Christian dialect, and talk of others' experiences as though they were your own. Just as a man sojourning in a foreign country will learn a good deal of the language of its inhabitants by simply hearing it spoken — so it is possible to dwell among Christians until their language is in great measure acquired. But talking a language does not constitute a nationality.
But there is one thing which cannot be picked up or counterfeited, and that is a desire. Let me know my desire — then do I know myself; for I can no more counterfeit a desire than I can counterfeit fire. One says, "Do you want to know what you are? Go ask your desires, and they will tell you. Do you wish to know where you are going? See where your desires tend."
A good action may be done without any love to that action. And, on the other hand, an evil action may be avoided — not from any hatred to that evil. The good action may be done from an impure motive; the evil action may be avoided simply from a selfish motive. But the desire of the soul — that is the immediate issue of the heart.
A caged bird cannot fly — does it therefore cease to be a bird? No; that it does not fly is because it is in a cage. Open the door — see, now, how quickly it darts through the opening, and flies, skimming through the air, heavenward. It has the bird's nature. It had the desire for flight, even when the cruel wires kept it in.
And so is it with the child of God. Often does he get caged, and if you were to judge simply by appearances, you would say, 'Surely he has not the nature of the Christian within.' Only open the door — only give him a chance of flight — and you will see then that, after all, the desire of his soul has been towards God, for, in the language of my text, he says, "My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God!"
The desire of the true Christian is after God Himself. "My heart and my flesh cry out for — for God." This desire swallows up all others!
Longing after God is a more infallible proof you are God's, than your most zealous services, or the very best of your actions. These might be counterfeit — but this longing after God cannot be.
Oh what must Heaven be! If all the desires of a saint are concentrated in God — then what must the satisfaction of Heaven be when it is all God — God on the throne, God before me, God leading me, God delighting my eyes, God in my songs — the world, its cares, its sorrows, its worries, all gone — a heavenly atmosphere of God all around! How unutterably deep the satisfaction! My heart and my flesh will no longer cry out for God — but will eternally rejoice in Him!
Do not I love thee, O my lord?
Behold my heart, and see,
And chase each idol far away,
That dares to rival thee!
Thou know'st I love thee, dearest Lord.
But, oh! I long to soar,
Above the sphere of mortal joys,
And learn to love thee more!
~ ~ ~ ~
The nest was destroyed, and the poor bird lay bleeding and exposed!
(James Smith, "The Pastor's Evening Visit")
"I thought: Surely I shall die in my nest!" Job 29:18
Job's nest was very comfortable — and appeared to be very secure. It was on high — and not to be easily reached. He knew that death could reach it — but he thought that nothing else would disturb it.
His conduct was consistent,
his conscience was quiet;
God was his Father, and
Providence was his friend.
"I thought: Surely I shall die in my nest!"
But, alas! Suddenly a 'storm' arose — the nest was destroyed, and the poor bird lay bleeding and exposed!
No earthly nest is out of danger! Temporal comforts are only lent to us. The higher the tree in which we build — the more exposed to the whirlwind and the storm!
Here on earth — we have no continuing city. In one moment — our fine nest may be devastated! Let us therefore endeavor to leave our matters fully with the Lord — and learn to be content with His appointments.
We must die. But when, and where, and how — should be left with the Lord.
Five minutes after death — it will matter very little whether we died on a bed of down, in a luxurious mansion, and surrounded by kind friends — OR as a poor diseased beggar, dying alone in squalor!
Present comforts may all leave us, and our soft nest may be scattered to the winds — but nothing can disturb our salvation and future glory!
"These all died in faith — and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth!" Hebrews 11:13
"They were longing for a better country — a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a heavenly city for them!" Hebrews 11:16
~ ~ ~ ~
What would you ask for?
(Joseph Alleine, "Alarm to the Unconverted" 1671)
"That night God appeared to Solomon in a dream and said: What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!" 2 Chronicles 1:7
If God would give you your choice, as He did to Solomon — what would you ask for?
Go into the gardens of pleasure, and gather all the fragrant flowers there — would these satisfy you?
Go to the treasures of mammon — suppose you may carry away as much as you desire.
Go to the towers, to the trophies of honor — and become a man of renown.
Would any of these, would all of these satisfy you, and make you to count yourself happy? If so, then certainly you are carnal and unconverted.
Converting grace turns the heart from its idols — to the living God. Before conversion, the man minded his farm, friends, pleasures more than Christ. He found more sweetness in his merry company, worldly amusements, earthly delights — than in Christ. Now he says, "But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ!" Philippians 3:7-8
~ ~ ~ ~
(Gene Fedele, edited)
What can be more delightful for the weary pilgrim who is hastening to his heavenly mansion, than to meditate on the unspeakable wonders of his future home beyond the skies? There is much of Immanuel's Land to engage our hearts in sacred contemplation, even while we sojourn and toil in this world as strangers and pilgrims.
Heaven is the most cheering and attractive occupation to which we may set our hearts. Yet I wonder why many of us fail to avail ourselves of the enjoyment and spiritual strength afforded in such a holy pursuit.
Could it be that the allurements of the world keep us from recognizing how near we are to the unseen, supernatural, and eternal state? Instead of dwelling on the glorious world to come — do we focus on the mere momentary pleasures of time? We do well to examine ourselves, with judgment day honesty, that we may check the affections of our heart.
It is the influence of the future heavenly realities exercised in our hearts and lives, which gives vitality and beauty to our religion. It reveals genuine piety, as our aim is in contrast to the passing pleasures of this fleeting earth. It affords light along the path of life's dark trials, and points to the realms of bliss, where there shall be no more tears, and sorrow is banished forevermore!
The glorious rest that remains for our earth wearied souls;
the sweet consolation of the redeemed in glory;
the unending fellowship of that precious society of saints;
the incalculable riches laid up in store for us to receive on that glorious day
— are all facets of Immanuel's Land, that we might set an adoring eye towards the one object of our affections, Christ Jesus our Lord!
Let us, therefore, 'set our affections on things above' and fix our hearts steadfastly upon the heavenly joys and glory of Immanuel's Land!
~ ~ ~ ~
Hard work, and bad pay!
(Archibald Brown, "Hard Work and Bad Pay!" 1868)
"The wages of sin is death!" Romans 6:23
What! is the reward for all that hard toil — death? Yes, death! Oh, extraordinary wages — but more astonishing still, that any should be found to work for them!
The death of the body, is but one result of sin. If sin had not found its way into God's fair earth — then death also would have been forever a stranger. Death is the dark shadow that sin casts. For six thousand years men have been receiving the wages of death. Death has passed upon all men, for all have sinned.
Think of the aggregate of sorrow that has come on this fallen world through death, the fruit of sin. Could all the groans that have burst from broken-hearted mourners since our first parents wept over their murdered son, be gathered into one — what a deep thunder-peal of anguish it would be! Were all the tears collected that death has caused to flow — what a briny ocean they would constitute! Let those call sin a trifle who dare — but to us it is clear that what could bring on man so dreadful a curse as death, must in itself be something unutterably horrible!
And yet mere physical death, is the least that is meant here. If this was all the Lord meant — if men when they die, die like dogs — there would be no occasion for the agony of soul we often have. But alas! alas! the death referred to here is a death that never dies! It is placed in contrast to "eternal life." It means eternal death; in another word, HELL! Here, poor sinner, are your wages — here is the result of a life's toil for Satan, HELL!
Let me say moreover, sin pays some of its wages now; it gives sometimes an installment of Hell on earth. The wretched debauchee often finds it so. Mark his haggard countenance, his trembling gait; follow him to the hospital — no don't — let his end remain secret; terrible are the wages he receives!
Look at the drunkard; he is paid for his sin in his home, until not a single stick remains to tell of a place that once was bright and happy. Have you ever seen a drunkard in delirium tremens? If so, you will never doubt about the wages he receives in this life. Hearken to his shrieking — listen to his raving as he imagines he is being dragged to Hell by ten thousand fiery snakes!
This is all included in the wages "death;" and yet after all, this is nothing. If the only wages for sin were those received in a lifetime, we could be calmer. But oh, Eternity, Eternity is sin's long pay-day — and the wages paid is Hell!
Suppose a person were to go to a blacksmith and say to him, 'I want you to make me a long and heavy chain — I will pay you well for it.' The blacksmith, for the sake of the money, commences it; and after toiling hard for some time, finishes it. The person calls, and says on looking at it, 'Yes, it is a good chain — but not long enough; work on it another week, I will then call and pay you for it.' Encouraged by the promise of full reward, the blacksmith toils on, adding link to link. When his employer calls again, he praises him as before — but still insists that 'the chain is too short.' 'But,' says the blacksmith, 'I can do no more; my iron is all gone, and my strength too.'
'Oh then, just add a few more links, the chain will then answer my purpose, and you shall be well paid.' The blacksmith, with his remaining strength, and last few scraps of iron, adds the last link he can. 'The chain will now do,' says the man, 'you have worked hard and long; I will now pay you your wages.' And taking the chain, he suddenly binds the blacksmith hand and foot, and casts him into a furnace of fire!
Such are the wages of sin. It promises much — but its reward is damnation!
Servants of sin and Satan, behold your future doom! Be honest, and confess that your service is hard work, and bad pay. God forbid that in this large concourse of people, there should be a single one who will ever learn by bitter, eternal experience that "the wages of sin is death!"
~ ~ ~ ~
O how strange — that God should love a worm, a dung-hill worm!
(The following is an excerpt from the diary of James Smith)
August 28, 1857.
If some of my congregation knew me better — they would love me less!
Yet my heavenly Father . . .
knows me well,
favors me much,
and loves me wonderfully!
O how strange — that God should love a worm, a dung-hill worm — one who . . .
was bred in sin,
felt at home in sin, and
at times felt regret that he was debarred from some sins!
O if God had left me to myself — what would I have been, and what would I have done!
But by the grace of God — I am what I am!" 1 Corinthians 15:10
Surely, surely, I must say, that divine love and wisdom have planned my path — from first to last.
I am . . .
out of Hell,
on the way to Heaven,
employed by God,
useful to saints, and
a blessing to sinners!
O how wonderful, how wonderful is this!
~ ~ ~ ~
True growth in grace!
(Archibald Brown, "He is Precious!")
"To you therefore who believe, He is precious!" 1 Peter 2:7
The word "precious" has a stronger meaning than appears on its surface; it is really "To you who believe, He is preciousness," or all-precious. Christ is . . .
a sun which ever shines;
a garden which is always full of flowers and fruits;
a hive ever full of honey;
a fountain which is always full;
a brook which never dries;
a rose that always blooms;
an ocean of sweetness without a drop of gall.
To the child of God, a personal living Christ is most dear.
He is not satisfied with a mere love for . . .
or Christ's gifts.
His affections entwine themselves round about Christ's person. Jesus is to him his brother, friend, companion, the one with whom he walks and talks.
True growth in grace consists of a personal Savior growing increasingly precious.
How sad it is that so many fall short of this experience. Their religion is entered more in a code of rules and collections of doctrines — than in the person of the dear Redeemer.
Yes, to you who believe, He Himself is precious!
Not only His house — for it is quite possible to like a person's house exceedingly, and yet have no particular love for the owner of that house.
Not only His book — for there are many books you may enjoy reading, and yet have neither knowledge of, nor affection for, the author.
Not only His gifts — for how many there are who value a man's gifts, while they despise him in their heart.
But He Himself, apart from all that He gives, will be your heart's dearest love.
"My God, I love You; not because
I hope for Heaven thereby.
Nor because those who love You not,
Must burn eternally.
Not with the hope of gaining anything,
Nor seeking a reward;
But as Yourself have loved me,
O ever-loving Lord."
"Whom have I in Heaven but You? I desire You more than anything on earth!" Psalm 73:25
~ ~ ~ ~
A poor, weak, and trembling creature
(John Angell James, "Christian Progress" 1853)
"He will feed His flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart." Isaiah 40:11
Dwell upon the love and tenderness of our Lord Jesus!
Notice who are the objects of His care — "the lambs," which means not only those of tender age — but also those who have been newly converted; those who are young in Christian experience; and also those whose temperament is naturally timid, whose strength is feeble, and whose danger is great.
Yes, you are the objects of Christ's special attention, care, and solicitude! You are those whom He takes up in the arms of His power — and lays on the bosom of His love! He knows . . .
He will exert for you . . .
His tenderest sympathy,
His greatest vigilance,
His mightiest power.
This expression however not only conveys the idea of great care of the weak — but the exercise of that care with a view to their preservation and growth. It means not only that He will . . .
cordially receive them,
provide for their safety,
be concerned for their comfort, and
accommodate His conduct to their needs
— but He will also nourish them through their infant existence, and raise them up to maturity and strength.
Let every lamb of the flock of Christ, therefore, go to Him by faith and prayer, and say: "Blessed Jesus, I come to you as a poor, weak, and trembling creature, doubtful of my own continuance, and alarmed at my numerous difficulties and enemies. I am but a lamb, and often fear I shall never be anything better. But was it not in regard to such weakness that You have been pleased to utter these gracious and tender words? I flee to You as the helpless lamb to its shepherd — when hungry, to feed it — or when pursued by wild beasts, that he may defend it. Lord, take me in the arms of Your power and lay me on the bosom of Your love — though I am so poor and helpless a creature. I will hope in Your nurturing power and love, that I shall continue to grow, and that You will one day rejoice in me, as one of the flock which You have purchased with Your own blood!"
~ ~ ~ ~
To an angel's eye, it must be the ugliest thing on earth!
(Archibald Brown, "The Pioneer of Destruction!" 1869, Stepney Green Tabernacle)
"Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." Proverbs 16:18
Chrysostom has aptly called pride "the mother of Hell" — for Hell with all its horrors is its hideous offspring!
Had there been no treacherous pride, there would have been no bottomless pit! Perdition was prepared for the Devil and his angels — and pride prepared the Devil and his angels for perdition! We need fear no language we can possibly use being too strong to denounce pride, for as Aristotle says, "Pride comprehends all vice!"
Is drunkenness to be condemned with unmeasured severity? Then let pride be equally so, for it is nothing less than a spiritual drunkenness. Pride flies as wine to the brain, and produces the same result. No wretched drunkard reeling along the road is a more pitiable or disgusting sight, than the man who is intoxicated into idiocy with the alcohol of his own accursed pride!
May the most unsparing language be employed in the denunciation of the sin of idolatry? Then let it be equally strong in the condemnation of pride, for they are one in essence. The proud man is simply one who bends the knee and worships a more hateful idol than can ever be found in the whole catalogue of heathendom; and its name is "Self!"
God loathes pride, for "everyone that is proud is an abomination to the Lord." Proverbs 16:5. To an angel's eye, it must be the ugliest thing on earth! And the saint, often deploring it, hates it with a perfect hatred.
But although universally condemned — it is too generally harbored. It is easy work to find a thousand excuses for the particular species of pride we possess, which is almost always, according to our own estimate, "only proper pride."
It is the minister's imperative duty to cry out against particular sins, and lay the axe at the root of special iniquities. I want this evening, by God's help, to strike a blow at the deadly root of pride. I have no doubt many things I may say will be considered too severe. I cannot help it if they are. The language of my text is strong and unvarnished enough; the truth it contains is put in the most uncomplimentary mode, and I would be a traitor were I to attempt to smooth it down. My work is to declare that "pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."
~ ~ ~ ~
A faithful minister!
(Letters of John Newton)
"Tychicus is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord." Colossians 4:7
Dear fellow pastor,
You have desired a good work — may the Lord give you the desires of your heart. May He give you . . .
the wisdom of Daniel,
the meekness of Moses,
the courage of Joshua,
the zeal of Paul, and
that self-abasement and humility which Job and Isaiah felt — when they not only had heard of Him by the hearing of the ear — but when they saw His glory, and abhorred themselves in dust and ashes!
May you be taught of God — for none teaches like Him — and come forth an able minister of the New Covenant, well instructed to rightly divide and faithfully distribute the Word of truth.
In the school of Christ, you will have to learn some lessons which are not very pleasant to flesh and blood. You must learn to labor, to run, to fight, to wrestle — and many other hard exercises — some of which will try your strength, and others your patience.
You know the common expression, 'a jack of all trades'. I am sure a minister had need be such a one:
a brave soldier,
an alert watchman,
a caring shepherd,
a hardworking farmer,
a skillful builder,
a wise counselor,
a competent physician,
and a loving nurse.
But do not be discouraged — you have a wonderful and a gracious Master, who does not only give instructions — but power and ability! He engages that His grace shall be sufficient, at all times and in all circumstances, for those who simply give themselves up to His teaching and His service.
"Be an example to all believers . . .
in what you teach,
in the way you live,
in your love, your faith, and your purity."
1 Timothy 4:12
~ ~ ~ ~
The divine magnet that draws with irresistible force, hearts of steel!
(Archibald Brown, "My Banner!" December 5th, 1869)
"But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself!" John 12:32
Whenever and wherever Christ is lifted up, then His power to attract is made plain. The elect of God, drawn by a power they have no ability or will to resist, take their places beneath the cross. The uplifting of Christ crucified, is God's chosen means to draw to Himself His elect, yet hidden people. The cross is the divine magnet that draws with irresistible force, hearts of steel. So mighty is its magnetic power, that it attracts those on whom all other means have failed.
We had often been compelled to take our stand before Mount Sinai. But though its lightnings flashed into our very eyes, and its thunders crashed right over head, our heart remained as hard as rock — yes, pride seemed more rampant in that dread storm than ever — we felt we might be broken — but we resolved we would never bend.
There have been moments when Hell argued with us, and all its sentences were written in glowing flame! There were moments when eternal damnation forced itself upon our thoughts, and made us dread the death that never dies. But though our knees shook with fright, our flinty hearts remained unmelted.
Sinai and Hell both failed. So also did Heaven, for though we read of its glories, and heard tell of its joys, and sometimes had a languid desire at last to find our way there — we still remained unattracted, and reveled in the vain world.
But when a bleeding Savior hanging on a tree met our sight, then not only were our eyes riveted — but an unseen hand touched every heart-string. We looked — and looked — and looked again — and felt that as we looked, we were being drawn with silken cords nearer, yet nearer still, until we found ourselves as penitents at His blessed feet!
Beautifully has John Newton described this sweet experience as his own:
"In evil long I took delight,
Unawed by shame or fear;
Until a new object struck my sight,
And stopped my wild career!
I saw One hanging on a tree,
In agonies and blood.
He fixed His languid eyes on me,
As near His cross I stood.
Sure never til my dying breath,
Can I forget that look!
It seemed to charge me with His death,
Though not a word He spoke.
A second look He gave, which said,
I freely all forgive;
This blood is for your ransom paid,
I die, that you may live!"
~ ~ ~ ~
Father and mother, if I am damned — it is by copying the example you placed before me!
(Archibald Brown, "Do Not Sin Against the Child!" 1870)
"Do not sin against the child!" Genesis 42:22
One way of sinning against a child is by bad example. The characters of the parents are carefully watched and imitated by their children.
You profess, dear friend, to be a Christian, and your child knows you are a member of this church. He has seen you partake of the Lord's supper — and then, when you have gone home, he has in a moment detected the discrepancy between your behavior at church — and your daily life at home. The angry temper — the selfish spirit — the worldly conversation — all these have been so many sins against the child! By some evil example seen by them in early life, an impression may be made upon their souls, the effects of which will remain to their dying day — and beyond!
Oh, how dreadful the thought, that by our own hypocritical lives we may be sinning against the little darlings we often feel we could die for. God forbid, that at the last great day, any of our children should turn to us with blanched cheek and say, "Father and mother, if I am damned — it is by copying the example you placed before me!"
You may also sin against the child by neglecting the means of its salvation. Do you have to confess before the Lord, that the eternal interests of your children find but a small space in your PRAYERS? O do not sin so against the child — he is worth praying for!
What are you DOING to try and bring them to Jesus? Do you ever, with the tear in your eye, tell them of the love of Jesus? Have you ever tried to show them their need of a Savior, and pointed them to Him who said, "Let the little children to come to Me?"
These are solemn questions, for I say to you dear parents in all love and from the very depths of my heart, "If you neglect the means for bringing your little ones to Christ, you are sinning against the child — and his blood will be required of you!" "If you do not teach them — the devil will."
O friends, it is a crying shame, that in our prayer meetings there are to be found men who pray as if they were dying to see the world converted — and yet never pray for their own children! It is a sad, sad fact that there are many who seem wondrously in earnest about the conversion of strangers — who yet let their own children go to Hell without a warning or entreaty!
~ ~ ~ ~
God SO loved!
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son." John 3:16
"God SO loved!" No plummet has ever yet been found capable of sounding the depths of that 'so' — "God SO loved."
When the Holy Spirit wants us to know the great depth of God's love, He points us to Calvary. Standing at the foot of that cruel tree and gazing at that glorious Sufferer — you learn the deep love of God as it can be learned in no other spot!
Mercy came down from Heaven — and picked up a poor vile sinner lying at the gate of Hell!
"Herein is love, not that we loved God — but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins." 1 John 4:10
~ ~ ~ ~
If we were directing the affairs of our own lives!
(J.R. Miller, "The Lesson of Love" 1903)
We often think we could do better — if we were directing the affairs of our own lives.
We think we could get more happiness and greater good out of life — if things were in our hands.
We would at once eliminate all that is painful and unpleasant in our lot.
We would have only prosperities, with no adversities; only joys, with no sorrows.
We would exclude all pain and trouble from our life.
Our days would all be sunny, with blue skies — and no clouds or storms.
Our paths would all be soft and easy, and strewn with flowers — without thorns or any rough places.
Would we not be happier — if we could direct our own affairs, and leave out the painful, the bitter, the adverse, and the sorrowful?
So most of us would probably say at first, before we have thought of the question deeply and looked on to the end. But really the greatest misfortune that could come to us in this world — would be to have the direction of the affairs, and the shaping of the experiences of our lives, put into our own hands!
We have no wisdom to know what is best for ourselves. Today is not all of life — there is a long future, perhaps many years in this world, and then immortality hereafter. What would give us greatest pleasure today — might work us harm in days to come. Present gratification might cost us untold loss and hurt in the future.
We want pleasure, plenty, and prosperity — but perhaps we need pain, self-denial, and the giving up of things that we greatly prize.
We shrink from suffering, from sacrifice, from struggle — but perhaps these are the very experiences which will do the most good for us, which will best mature our Christian graces, which will fit us for the largest service to God and man.
We should always remember that the object of living in this present world, is not merely . . .
to have unlimited pleasure and comfort,
to get along with the least trouble,
to gather the most we can of the world's treasures,
to win the brightest fame.
We are here to grow into the beauty of Christ, and to do the portion of God's will that belongs to us!
There is something wonderfully inspiring in the thought, that God has a plan and a purpose for our lives, for each life. We do not come drifting into this world — and do not drift through it like waves on the ocean. We are sent from God, each one of us with a divine plan for his life — something God wants us to do, some place He wants us to fill. All through our lives, we are in the hands of God, who chooses our place and orders our circumstances, and makes all things work together for our good — and His glory.
It is the highest honor that could be conferred upon us, to occupy such a place in the thought of God. We cannot doubt that His way for us is better than ours — since He is infinitely wiser than we are, and loves us so. It may be painful and hard — but in the pain and the hardness, there is blessing.
Of course we may not know all the reasons there are in the divine mind, for the pains and sufferings that come into our lives, or what God's design for us in these trials is. Yet without discovering any reasons at all, however, we may still trust God, who loves us with an infinite love — and whose wisdom also is infinite!
When we get to heaven, we shall know that God has made no mistake in anything He has done for us, however He may have broken into our plans — and spoiled our pleasant dreams!
It should be reason for measureless gratitude, that our lives are not in our own poor foolish hands — but in the hands of our infinitely wise and loving Father!
"My times are in Your hands!" Psalm 31:15
~ ~ ~ ~
Who called this demon up?"By pride comes nothing but strife!" Proverbs 13:10
(Archibald Brown, "Peace Versus War!" July 17th, 1870)
[Editor's note: Brown is referring to the upcoming French-German War, July 19, 1870 - May 10, 1871]
It is humiliating to our race, to find that after well-near nineteen centuries of Christian time have passed, the clumsy method of war yet remains the last resource of arbitration for the nations. Humiliating did I say? Yes, and something infinitely more: War is a crime only worthy of its father, Hell!
Strip war of its outward pageantry and pomp,
tear from it the gaudy cloak called national honor;
look at it in its naked reality —
and was ever so loathsome and horrid a specter seen outside of Hell?
This is the monster that has so unexpectedly stalked upon the scene, carrying dismay and panic and grief into the hearts and homes of myriads. Who called this demon up? What compensation is there for the curse? These questions are soon answered. This war is only the food demanded by accursed pride in order to glut its insatiable appetite. Men are to become mere food for the cannon, to maintain what is libelously called national glory. It looks like bitter sarcasm to contrast the paltry causes of war — with the dreadful results of war.
Some petty point of etiquette neglected — some ridiculously little slight which, in ordinary everyday life would be counted unworthy of any notice, becomes (when offered to a nation) sufficient motive to lead it to the battlefield! To wash away some tiny stain supposed to be found upon the robe of honor — a stain not worthy of the shedding of a tear — behold, a very ocean of blood is spilt! To avenge an insult, to maintain the old bugbear of the "the balance of power," or to glorify the ambition of a man . . .
countries are desolated,
trade is paralyzed,
blood is spilt in unknown measure,
agonies are endured by those who are as innocent of the quarrel as new-born babes,
and all the miseries contained in that one word War are let loose upon the continent!
It is horrible and sickening beyond all description, to think that even this week there will be heard the roar of the cannon and the sharp crack of the rifle, carrying death to a thousand hearts! Who can bear to contemplate without a sigh — the wives that will be made widows, and the multitudes of children that will shortly become orphans?
~ ~ ~ ~
Allured by the magnetic power of His love!
(Archibald Brown, "The Birth-day of Blessing!" 1870, Stepney Green Tabernacle)
The day of conversion is termed the "day of espousals" in Song of Solomon 3:11. It is the day in which Jesus, our Heavenly Bridegroom, wins the heart of His bride. He . . .
reveals His love to her,
shows His beauties to her,
tells her of His sufferings for her sake.
He woos her by His sighs and tears and agonies, and lays siege to her heart on every side — while His lips drop honey-words of loving affection. Unable to resist such heavenly importunity, she finds her prejudices melting fast away. One barrier after another is broken down, and at last, allured by the magnetic power of His love, she gives herself to Him, and with tears of joy exclaims, "My Beloved is mine — and I am His!"
Oh, happy day, when the soul is espoused to Christ. All Heaven looks on and rings a marriage peal, while the sweetest music fills the new-born heart!
~ ~ ~ ~
If I could live a thousand lives!"Who loved me, and gave Himself up for me!" Galatians 2:20
"Yes, He is altogether lovely! This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend!" Song of Songs 5:16
Jesus is the chief among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely One! I could not live without Him. To enjoy His company is bliss to me — for Him to hide His face from me is my midnight of sorrow. Oh, for the power to live, to die, to labor, to suffer as unto Him, and unto Him alone!
I feel that, if I could live a thousand lives, I would like to live them all for Christ; and I should even then feel that they were all too little a return for His great love to me!
~ ~ ~ ~
The base cares and the petty enjoyments of the present world
(John Angell James)
Sin is raging all around us!
Satan is busy in the work of destruction!
Men are dying!
Souls are every moment departing into eternity!
Hell is enlarging her mouth, and multitudes are continually descending to torments which knows no mitigation and no end!
How astounding is it sometimes to ourselves, that, the base cares and the petty enjoyments of the present world should have so much power over us, as to retard us in our heavenward course, and make us negligent and indolent, heedless and forgetful.
Time is short!
Life is uncertain!
Death is at hand!
Immortality is about to swallow up our existence in eternal life — or eternal death!
Heaven expanding above us!
Hell is yawning beneath us!
Eternity is opening before us!
~ ~ ~ ~
Mother! Mother! Mother!
(Archibald Brown, "Better than a Mother!")
Mother! Mother! Mother! What associations of loving tenderness are in the very name, Mother! The word touches a secret spring in the heart, and conjures back scenes of the past. It brings to view in the dim distance, a sweet face that used to bend over our little bed at eventide, and impress a kiss upon our brow. It reminds us of one who used to smile when we were happy — and weep when obliged to correct us. It calls to remembrance one who always seemed interested in our little tales of adventure, and never laughed at our little sorrows that seemed so large to us. Mother! It was her face we gazed last upon, when we went away to school. And it was into her arms that we first rushed, when the holidays brought us home.
Mother! It was the thought of her that held us back from sin with unseen silken cords! And when those dark locks of hers became silvered with advancing age, we only thought an extra charm had crowned her brow.
With many present, that mother has long since fallen asleep in her Savior's arms — but you did not forget the love that was as strong as death, and escaped from her dying lips in words that you treasure to this day. Forget? No! Her name still has a magic power, and the tears I see rolling down so many cheeks this morning are eloquent in their language. They declare that at least one word has neither lost its music or its charm, and that one word is, mother.
I think I cannot better show the hold the memory has of a mother upon a man, than by quoting the words of Archibald Thompson. He says, "Mother!! How many delightful associations cluster around that word. When my heart aches at the world's wickedness, and my limbs are weary, and my feet bloody, traveling the thorny path of life — I am accustomed to sit down on some mossy stone, and closing my eyes on real scenes, to send my thoughts back to the days of early life — and in all these reminiscences, my mother arises. If I seat myself upon my cushion, it is at her side; if I sing, it is to her ears; if I walk the meadows, my little hand is in my mother's, and my little feet keep company with hers; if I stand and listen to the piano, it is because my mother's fingers touch the keys; if I survey the wonders of creation, it is my mother who points out the object of my admiring attention. There is . . .
no velvet so soft as a mother's lap,
no rose so lovely as her smile,
no path so flowery as that imprinted with her footsteps."