Grace Gems for JUNE, 2017

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You will never come to the bottom of these depths!

(Robert Murray M'Cheyne)

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

Learn much of the Lord Jesus. For every look at yourself — take ten looks at Christ!

Such infinite majesty, and yet such meekness and grace — and all for sinners, even the chief!

Unfathomable oceans of grace
are in Christ for you. Dive and dive again — you will never come to the bottom of these depths! Yes, He is altogether lovely!

Live much in His smiles — bask in His beams. Feel His all-seeing eye settled on you in love, and repose in His almighty arms!

Live near to Him — and all worldly things will appear little to you in comparison.

"Lord, make me as holy as a pardoned sinner can be!"

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When will it be my time to be eaten?

(Charles Spurgeon)

All men persist in thinking all men mortal, but themselves.

If there were a great monster in our city, which ate ten of the inhabitants alive every day — we would be dreadfully miserable, especially if we never knew when it would be our turn to be devoured!

If we were certain that it would eat all in our city by-and-bye, but would only eat ten in a day — we would all tremble as we passed by the huge monster's den, and say, "When will it be my time to be eaten?" This would cast a dark cloud over the whole metropolis, blacker than its usual fog.

But here is a monster, DEATH, which devours its hundreds at its meal. With its iron tongue, the funeral knell keeps crying out for more! Its greedy and insatiable throat is never filled — its teeth are never blunted — and its ravenous hunger is never satisfied.

And though it will be our turn by-and-bye to be devoured of this great monster — yet how little do we think about it!

All men persist in thinking all men mortal, but themselves.

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A great bundle of sticks far too large for us to lift!

(John Newton)

Sometimes I compare the troubles we have to undergo in the course of a year, to a great bundle of sticks far too large for us to lift. But God does not require us to carry the whole at once. He mercifully unties the bundle, and gives us first one stick, which we are able to carry today; and then another, which we are able to carry tomorrow; and so on.

This we can easily manage — if we would only take the burden appointed for us each day. But we foolishly choose to increase our trouble, by carrying yesterday's stick over again today — and adding tomorrow's burden before we are required to bear it.

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

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Modern church machinery!

(Charles Spurgeon)
Friends! the churches have no need for the modern machinery which has supplanted the simplicity of faith.

I truly believe, that if the Lord swept the church committees and schemes out of the universe, we would be better without them.

I hope the church will soon say, like David in Saul's clanking armor, "I cannot go with these" — and with only her sling and her stone, confident in her God, I trust she will confront her foe.
We can do all things, if we can but trust Christ. But nothing is possible to your man-made schemes and systems.

God will sweep them away yet, and happy shall be that man who shall lead the van in their utter destruction! Go up against her, take away her bulwarks, for they are not the Lord's; He did not ordain them, nor will He stand by them.

Act in faith, O people of God, and prove the power of prayer — for "all things are possible to him who believes." Mark 9:23

The fact is, God does not need our power — but our weakness.
He does not need our greatness — but our nothingness.

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Look at that cold creeping worm!

(Thomas Guthrie, 1803-1873)

Look at that cold creeping worm! The playful child shudders from its touch!

Yet in a few weeks, and with merry laugh and flying feet, that same child over flowery meadow, is hunting an insect that never lights upon the ground — but flitting in painted beauty from flower to flower — drinks nectar from their cups, and sleeps the summer night away in the bosom of their perfumes.

If that is the same boy — this is also the same creature. The change most wonderful!

Yet this is but a dull, earthly emblem of the divine transformation wrought on those who are converted by God!

Fallen though he is, man is capable of undergoing a more wondrous change than the insect when, no longer a worm, no longer crawling on the ground, no longer feeding on garbage — it leaves its shell to spend its happy days in sport, flitting from flower to flower; its food their sweet juices, and its bed their tender leaves.

The spiritual change which we call conversion, is not a mere reform. It is a mighty revolution — a revolution greater than the tomes of secular history. Conversion changes the heart, the habits, and the eternal destiny of an immortal being!

Conversion does not bestow new faculties. Yet our affections, our temperament, our will, and our judgment — partake of this great and holy change. Thus, the understanding is enlightened; the will is renewed; and our whole temperament is sweetened and sanctified by the Spirit of God.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone — the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

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Weary mariner on life's tempestuous ocean!

(David Harsha)

"My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline and do not resent His rebuke — because the Lord disciplines those He loves, just as a father disciplines the son he delights in." Proverbs 3:11-12

To the children of God, afflictions are sent in mercy. They are directed by love.

They are designed . . .
  to draw us more closely to the Savior,
  to mortify indwelling sin,
  to purify our hearts,
  to wean us from earth,
  to elevate our affections to that blessed world where there shall be no more pain.

Every breeze of earthly sorrow is only wafting us to those high and heavenly abodes, where temporal ills are forever unknown!

Oh, then, when ready to sink under the accumulated ills of life — let us come to the Savior in the time of trouble.

Weary mariner on life's tempestuous ocean, when afflictions cloud your sky, and billows roar around you — then cling to the Savior in grateful, confiding love.

Amid all your difficulties and dangers, He will whisper consolation to you, and support your fainting soul with the richest consolation and the choicest promises. You will then be enabled to bear the trials of life with composure — knowing that, like the Captain of our salvation, you must also be made perfect through suffering; and that these light and momentary afflictions are working for you a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory!

You will then experience the sweetness of the divine promises — and in the midst of outward trouble, enjoy inward peace.

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There are three things that earthly riches can never do!

Thomas Brooks)

There are three things that earthly riches can never do
  they can never satisfy divine justice,
  they can never pacify divine wrath,
  nor can they ever quiet a guilty conscience.
Until these things are done — man is undone!

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Remember that those sins which are now as jewels sparkling in your eyes
 — will at last be millstones around your necks, to sink you forever in Hell!

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He who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved — be his sins ever so many!
He who believes not on the Lord Jesus Christ shall be damned — be his sins ever so few!

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Jesus came leaping!

(William Dyer, "Christ's Famous Titles")

"The voice of my Beloved! Look! Here He comes, leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills!" Song of Songs 2:8

The Scriptures tell us that Jesus came leaping! He came with such love — that He came leaping!
When a man goes leaping — you may know that it was with a great eagerness.

Jesus came leaping! How so? He came leaping . . .
  from the throne — to the womb,
  from the womb — to the cradle,
  from the cradle — to the cross, and
  from thence to the throne again!

This was His great leap! Oh! sirs, oh! sirs — how eagerly did Jesus suffer and die for poor believers!

"Christ loved us — and gave Himself up for us!" Ephesians 5:2

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What a comfort is this!

(Thomas Watson, "The Good Shepherd")

"I am the Good Shepherd — I know My sheep!" John 10:14
Christ knows all of His sheep.
His knowing His sheep — is His loving them. This is a great consolation.

He knows every one of their names
"He calls His own sheep by name." John 10:3

He knows all the sighs and groans they make.
"My groaning is not hidden from You." Psalm 38:9

Christ knows every tear they shed.
"I have seen your tears!" 2 Kings 20:5
He bottles their tears as precious wine! "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book." Psalm 56:8

He knows all their sufferings.
"I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them." Exodus 3:9
"The Lord saw the bitter suffering of everyone in Israel." 2 Kings 14:26

Christ knows all their good works — all their works of piety and charity.
"I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance." Revelation 2:2

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

"He will place the sheep at His right hand — and the goats at His left. Then the King will say to those on the right: Come, you who are blessed by My Father — inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world!" Matthew 25:33-34

What a comfort is this!

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It has put hatred into God Himself!

(Ralph Venning, "The Plague of Plagues!" 1669)

"The wicked and the one who loves violence — His soul hates!" Psalm 11:5

God hates man for sin! It is not only sin, but sinners that God hates — and that for sin! It is said of God, that He hates the workers of iniquity (Psalm 5:5); not only the works of iniquity — but the workers of it.

It is because of sin, that the merciful God says, "Their Maker has no compassion on them, and their Creator shows them no favor!" Isaiah 27:11

This is the worst that can be spoken of the venom of sin, that in a sense, and to speak after the manner of men — it has put hatred into God Himself! Sin has made the Lord hate and destroy His own workmanship!

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The worst of Hell — and worse than Hell!

(Ralph Venning, "The Plague of Plagues!" 1669)

Sin is worse than Hell!

Hell is only a punishment — but sin is a crime! The crime is more evil than the punishment. Hell is the punishment for the crime of sin. The very greatness of this punishment — argues the greatness of the crime, and the sinfulness of sin. That God is glorified on men in such a way — is a clear and full proof what an evil thing it is to sin against and dishonor God. Consequently Hell itself does not inflict so much hurt — as sin does. Hell, indeed, is a dismal place of horror and torment, the extremity of suffering — but it never had any existence until sin came. Nor could Hell have such extreme torments as it does — if sin were not there.

It is reported as a saying of Anselm, that if sin and Hell were set before him and he must go through one of them — he would choose to go through Hell, rather than sin!

Sin is the worst of Hell — and worse than Hell! Sin is what makes sinners cry out for the torment of devouring fire and everlasting burnings — which are no terror to righteous and upright souls (Isaiah 33:14,15). It is sin which makes Hell to be Hell. God was never angry — until sin made Him so. His wrath was never kindled — except by sin.

Now just as sin made Hell, so the more sin — the worse the Hell!

"These shall receive greater damnation!" Mark 12:40

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I may express all my complaints in one short sentence

(John Newton's Letters)

My recent journey was very pleasant — but I ought to wish that it was profitable. I have had long experience how little I am able to improve by the most desirable advantages — and how little I am affected by a combination of the greatest mercies.

I may express all my complaints in one short sentence: "I am a poor creature!"
And all my hopes and comforts may be summed up as briefly, by saying: "I have a rich and gracious Savior!"

Full as I am in myself of inconsistencies and conflicts — I have in Him, a measure of peace. He found me in a waste howling wilderness — and He redeemed me from the house of misery and bondage. And though I have been ungrateful and perverse — He has not yet forsaken me — and never will. He is able to hold even me up — to pity, support and supply me to the end of life.

How suitable a Savior! He is made all things to those who have nothing — and is engaged to help those who can do nothing.

"Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost, those who come to God through Him — since He always lives to make intercession for them!" Hebrews 7:25

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This will hold you back from a thousand evils!

(Edward Griffin, 1770-1837)

"Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." 2 Corinthians 7:1

"How can a young man keep his way pure?" Psalm 119:9

Let the fear of God always be before your eyes. This will hold you back from a thousand evils! To feel that you are in the presence of your Maker, that an omniscient eye is upon you — is the best preservative against sin!

"Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account!" Hebrews 4:13

"You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue — You know it completely, O Lord!" Psalm 139:2-4

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You will see the reason

(Edward Payson, 1783-1827)

"What I am doing you do not understand now — but afterward you will understand!" John 13:7

Above all, I would say to the Christian: Never distrust the kindness, the love, the wisdom and faithfulness of your Savior — but confide in Him who has promised that all things shall work together for your good. Though you may not now know what He is doing — you shall know hereafter. You will see the reason for . . .
  all the trials and temptations,
  all the dark and comfortless hours,
  all the distressing doubts and fears,
  all the long and tedious conflicts with which you are now exercised.
You will be convinced that not a sigh, not a tear, not a single uneasy thought was ever allotted to you — without some wise and gracious design.

Say not, then, like Jacob of old, "All these things are against me!"
Say not, like David, "I shall one day perish by the hand of Saul!"
For all these things are for your good — and you shall never perish, neither shall any pluck you out of Christ's hand!

Why should you, who are sons of the King of Heaven — be lean and discontented from day to day? Remember that you are the heir of God and joint heir with Christ — of an incorruptible, eternal, and unfading inheritance!

Go to Jesus, the compassionate Savior of sinners, who heals the broken in heart, who gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart. Go, I say, to Him!
Tell Him all your griefs and sorrows!
Tell Him that your souls cleave to the dust!
Tell Him that iniquities, doubts, and fears prevail against you!
Tell Him that you are poor and miserable and wretched and blind and naked.

Go to His mercy-seat, where He sits as a merciful High Priest. Go and embrace His feet, lay open your whole hearts — and you will find Him infinitely more gracious than you can conceive; infinitely more willing to grant your requests, than you are to make them. He is love itself — it is His very nature to pity.

Have you a hard heart? Carry it to Him — and He will soften it.

Have you a blind mind? Carry it to Him — and He will enlighten it.

Are you oppressed with a load of guilt? Carry it to Him — and He will remove it.

Are you defiled and polluted? He will wash you in His own blood.

Have you backslidden? "Turn unto Me," says He, "O backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings."

How great are the privileges which result from an ability to say, "Christ is mine!"
If Christ is yours — then all that He possesses is yours!
  His power is yours — to defend you!
  His wisdom and knowledge are yours — to guide you!
  His righteousness is yours — to justify you!
  His Spirit and grace are yours — to sanctify you!
  His Heaven is yours — to receive you!

You will never live happily or usefully — until you can feel that Christ, and all that He possesses, are yours — and learn to come and take them as your own!

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Worse than devilish!

(Ralph Venning, "The Plague of Plagues!" 1669)

"Fools mock at sin!" Proverbs 14:9

Those who mock at sin, are worse than fools and madmen!

Tell them, as Lot told his sons-in-law of the danger and judgments which hang over their head — and, as with Lot, you seem to them as one who jokes. Genesis 19:14. They laugh at it, as if God were not in earnest when He threatens sinners — and as if those who preach against sin were deranged.

"To do evil, is like sport to a fool!" Proverbs 10:23. There are some who sport themselves on their way to Hell — as if sin were but a recreation! What fools are they — who laugh at their own folly and destruction! It is a devilish nature in us, to mock at the calamity of others — but to laugh at our own calamity, seems to be worse than devilish!

There are many, too many, who mourn under affliction — yet laugh over their sins! They sigh and weep when they feel any burden on their body — but make merry at that which destroys their soul! Can anything be more mad than this — to laugh, mock and make sport at that which eternally wrongs and damns their own souls!

The wicked laugh over their sin now. But if they do not repent — then they will weep forever in Hell over it!

Holiness is the beauty of earth and Heaven — without which we cannot live well on earth, nor shall ever live in Heaven. Certainly those who jeer and scoff at holiness, will be turned into Hell.

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Father knows best!

(John Newton's Letters)

"My times are in Your hands!"
Psalm 31:15

This world seems all uncertainty — yet all is under the unspeakably gracious and infallibly wise direction of our Heavenly Father.

Oh! This is the great thing to be desired — to be savingly interested in the promise which engages that all things shall work together for our good — to give us a fitness for the inheritance of the saints in light, so that at last we may attain to His eternal joy. That will make rich amends for all the trials we can meet with along the way.

Our heavenly Father knows best, what is good for us. Oh, for grace to yield ourselves simply and cheerfully to His wise management. Hitherto He has helped us, and all His paths have been mercy and truth. What reasons have we to praise Him for the past — and to trust Him for the rest!

The Lord knows, and He permits me to tell Him what I feel or fear or wish. But when I have done so, it befits me to submit all to Him and to say, "Not my will — but may Your will be done." I aim to say this from my heart, and to account it not only my duty — but my privilege to prefer His choice to my own.

The Lord graciously adjusts all our concerns — and it is our privilege to peaceably and thankfully submit to His judicious management. Our times are in His hands. Vastly more than we are aware of, depends upon the Lord's wise controlling of all our affairs. Is it not a comfort to a blind man, to have an unfailing guide whom he may fully and safely trust?

May we be willing to leave all our concerns in His skillful and faithful hands — to live to Him and for Him today, and to trust Him for the events of tomorrow.

Oh how happy we are — when we can leave all in His nail-pierced hands!

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When believers die!

(John Newton's Letters)

"Father, I want those whom You have given Me — to be with Me where I am, and to see My glory!" John 17:24

Health and sickness, life and death — will always be in the hands of the Lord.

When believers die
— whatever the accident or the illness may be — they are only the means, but not properly the cause of their death. They die because the time has come when He who loves them best, will have them with Him to behold His glory!

Until then, they are immortal. They recover from sickness, however threatening, and are preserved unhurt — in defiance of the greatest dangers! But when His appointed hour arrives — then they must depart. When He will have them with Him — we cannot detain them; nor ought we to wish it, though the flesh will feel the parting stroke.

None of us can be perfectly happy in this poor fleeting world. It is a state in which sin and sorrow will hunt us and pain us to the last step of life! Therefore, though we wish to keep those whom we love with us as long as we can — it is well both for us and them, that we cannot live here always. We are in the Lord's hands — and He does all things wisely and well, at the right time and in the right manner.

Death is but a temporary separation. Those who are gone before us, are waiting for us. Oh! It will be a happy meeting before the throne of the Lamb — out of the reach of sin and sorrow, to meet and part no more!

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We are all living monuments of God's goodness and patience!

(Ralph Venning, "The Plague of Plagues!" 1669)

"The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease — for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning! Great is Your faithfulness!" Lamentations 3:22-23

If sin is so exceedingly sinful — so contrary to, and displeasing to God — then surely . . .
  His patience is exceedingly great,
  His goodness is exceedingly rich, and
  His long-suffering is exceedingly marvelous
 — even such as to cause astonishment!

We are all living monuments of God's goodness and patience!
It is of the Lord's mercies that all of us are not altogether and utterly consumed — and that in eternal Hell!

Such is . . .
  the power of His patience,
  the infiniteness of His mercy and compassion,
  and the riches of His unsearchable grace!

Consider the multitude of sinners in the world. If it were only one or two sinners — then they might be winked at and passed by. But all the world lies in wickedness (1 John 5:19). There is none righteous — no, not one! If there had been only ten righteous ones — then God would have spared Sodom, although ten thousand sinners might be there. Yet there is not a single man to be found who does not sin. All have sinned — and that continually. What grace, then — what patience is this!

Consider the multitude of sins committed by every sinner. Every sinner commits innumerable sins! If all men had sinned only once — it would have mitigated the matter. Sin, however, has grown up with men. Not a single good thought is to be found in their hearts! (Genesis 6:5) Sin grows up faster than men do — they are old in sin, when still young in years. They are adding iniquity to iniquity, and drawing sin on with cords and ropes, committing it with both hands greedily, as if they could not sin enough! They dare God Himself to judge them. They drink down iniquity like water, as if it was their element and nourishment and pleasure also. Yet, behold, how miraculously patient is God!

God sees sin — He is sensible of it and angered about it — for it grieves and vexes Him. God is able to avenge Himself whenever He pleases — yet He forbears with sinners. Be astonished at it!

It is a wonder that men are spared so long — especially if we consider how quickly God cast the angels that sinned down to Hell!

O the wonder of sovereign grace!

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The time is short — our obligations are unspeakably great — and Heaven will make amends for all!

(John Newton's Letters)

"Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows." John 16:33

Every step we take, brings us nearer to our Father's house! We shall soon be at Home — where the wicked cannot trouble, and where the weary are at rest.

How wisely the Lord varies His dispensations!

They are not all painful — lest we should be too much cast down.

Nor are they all pleasant — lest we should forget what and where we are.

Nor do our troubles come all at once. They are parceled out at different intervals, that one wound may be well healed before another is inflicted.

The Lord has wise reasons for all that He does — and we shall, before long, know them more clearly. In short, He does all things well! May we even now be thankful and yield a sweet submission to His holy will. He has a sovereign right to dispose of us as He pleases — and He has promised that He shall work all together for our good.

He has promised us peace in Himself — but in the world, He bids us to expect many trials and sorrows. The same or equal or greater afflictions — are common to all His people. We would never say, "This is too hard!" if we considered that we are sinners, and therefore always suffer less than we deserve.

The time is short — our obligations are unspeakably great — and Heaven will make amends for all! Surely then we should cheerfully, yes thankfully, take up our crosses, and follow our Lord — since we are assured that if we suffer with Him and for Him, we shall also reign with Him. Time flies apace, and past troubles will return no more. Every pulse we feel, beats a sharp moment of the pain away — and the last stroke will soon come. Then sorrow and sighing shall flee away — and joy and gladness shall come forth to conduct us Home! That time will come — yes, it is drawing nearer every hour!

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Give the devil and sin an inch!

(Ralph Venning, "The Plague of Plagues!" 1669)

Beware of such sins as the world calls little sins! They say: "What harm is there in an innocent lie?" Alas, what a contradiction this is! Can a lie be innocent? One says, "Oh, it is only a trick of youth!" Yes, but it is such a trick as may cost you going to Hell! Another "deceives his neighbor and says: I am only joking!" Proverbs 26:19. Yes, but he who sins in jest or makes a jest of sin — may be damned in earnest!

Consider that no sin against a great God, can be strictly a little sin — though compared with a greater one, it may be. But however little it is — to account it so, makes it greater.

The nature of the greater sin is in the least sin. A spark of fire, or a drop of poison — have the nature of much more sin.

God has severely punished sins that have been looked upon as little sins, indeed, some of them well-meant sins — as when Uzzah took hold of the Ark when the cart shook (2 Samuel 6:6,7). When men only looked into the Ark — it cost them dearly! "The LORD killed seventy men from Beth-shemesh because they looked into the Ark of the LORD!" (1 Samuel 6:19). Gathering a few sticks on the Sabbath was severely punished! (Numbers 15:32-36).

These seem to be small matters — but in sin, we must not consider so much what is forbidden — as why it is forbidden, and who forbids it.

Besides, a little sin makes way for a greater sin — just as a little boy-thief entering a house, makes way for a man-thief to enter.

It is hard to sin once and only once — to commit one little sin and only one. Give the devil and sin an inch — and they will take a mile! Vain babbling increases to more ungodliness. A little leak in a ship, may by degrees fill it with water and sink it. The Devil does not much care by what sins we go to Hell, whether small — or great; whether by religious formality — or open immorality.

If a man makes no conscience of little sins, to which the temptations can be only little — then how little conscience is he likely to make of great sins, to which there are greater temptations?

If Judas betrays his Lord for thirty pieces of silver — then what would he not do for more?

Beware then of little sins!

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They were once like us — sorrowing, suffering, sinning!

(John Newton's Letters)

"Oh magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together!" Very wonderful have His dealings been with me, since the day when He took me by the hand to bring me out of Egypt.

We have nothing that we can properly call our own — but sin and misery!

I wish to be more thankful for what the Lord has been to me — but I long to rise a step higher still, to be enabled to contemplate His character, as displayed by the cross of Christ, so that I may continually admire and adore Him for what He is in Himself. He would have been great and glorious, wise, powerful, holy, and gracious — though I had never been brought into existence, or had been left to eternally perish in my sin as I deserved.

The redeemed before the throne — look how they shine! Hark how they sing! They were not always as they are now. They were once like us — sorrowing, suffering, sinning! But He has washed them from their sins in His own blood — and wiped away their tears with His own nail-pierced hands!

"All glory to Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding His blood for us! All glory and power to Him forever and ever! Amen." Revelation 1:5-6

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Mr. Andrews met with many storms and billows during his voyage on the sea of life!

(John Newton's Letters)

"Father, I desire that those whom You have given Me be with Me where I am — that they may behold My glory!" John 17:24

My Very Dear Friends,
We wished that Mr. Andrews might remain much longer in this world of sin and sorrow — but the Lord had much better things for him. The time was come when He would have him near His throne, to behold His glory — and therefore our prayers were overruled.

I hope dear Mrs. Andrews can say from her heart, "The Lord does all things well."

The time is short, and those who weep should be, if believers — as though they wept not. Many whom we loved best while here, and who are gone a little before us — are waiting for us. The joy of meeting where there will be no parting — will make abundant amends for the pain of a temporary separation.

Mr. Andrews met with many storms and billows during his voyage on the sea of life
— but we trust he is now in that peaceful haven, where the winds of trouble never blow.

What a wonderful transition — to pass, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye — from pain and sickness and weeping friends — to join in the songs of the innumerable company of the redeemed before the throne of God and the Lamb!

"And God will wipe away all tears from their eyes. And there will be no more death, nor mourning, nor crying out, nor will there be any more pain; for the first things passed away!" Revelation 21:4

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She had often been cautioned against sliding down by the rail!

(John Newton's Letters)

My dear friends,
Poor dear Rebecca! Thankfully your child was not killed, nor a bone broken. We are always glad to hear from you, but now we must beg to hear soon to confirm our hopes, that by this time she is perfectly recovered. She had often been cautioned against sliding down by the rail — but I believe her late tumble will render future warnings needless. [Note: Rebecca had fallen off the rail at the top of stairs, and was taken up apparently dead — but revived in a few minutes.]

Is it not so with us? What are all the Lord's precepts or prohibitions — but admonitions to do ourselves no harm. We are but children of a larger growth, and think we can please ourselves in our own way — until repeated experience makes us wiser, and the consequences of our choices teach us how unfit we are to choose for ourselves. The Lord pities His redeemed children — He says, "Oh, that you had hearkened unto Me!"

I preached a funeral sermon yesterday evening for my dear friend Benamore, from his own dying words, "He has done all things well!" How can it be otherwise? If He does all things — then they must necessarily be well done; for His wisdom, power, and goodness are infinite. We are assured that not a sparrow, much less a child and a servant who loves Him, can fall to the ground without Him!

We are travelers through this wilderness world, and know something of the difficulties and dangers which surround us. At all times, let us stir up each other to admire our great Shepherd.
What love to redeem His sheep with His own precious blood!
What infinite wisdom — what an infallible guide!
What a sure guard is His almighty power!
What a never failing supply from His unbounded fullness!
What a comfortable resource we have in that unspeakable compassion and tenderness, which are but feebly represented by the tenderness of the nearest earthly relations — father, husband, brother, friend — all united!

He who once bled to death for us upon the cross — now reigns as a King and Priest upon His heavenly throne! He hears our prayers — He watches over us — He is preparing a place for us near Himself, and is waiting to receive us. We shall soon be at home, at our long home — for then all our warfare and wanderings will be ended, and we shall go out no more. Let us then cheerfully take up our cross, and run with faith and patience, the race that is set before us — looking unto Jesus!

May the Lord bless you all and double all your comforts, and sweeten all your trials, with a sense of His special redeeming love.
Your affectionate and obliged friend,
John Newton, 5th October, 1796

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Hold your hand in this fire!

(Ralph Venning, "The Plague of Plagues!" 1669)

"Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account!" Hebrews 4:13

Take heed of what men call secret sins. There are only too many who continue in wickedness, because as they think, no one knows how wicked they are. They are drunkards — but it is in the night. They are immoral — but it is in the dark. Their mystery of iniquity trades in the works of darkness and in the dark. Indeed, if men could sin and no eye see them — then they might sin securely; but this is a falsehood as well as a mistake.

Once a young maiden was tempted to be unchaste. The person who solicited her, promised to do great things for her if she would yield.

"I will," he said, "do anything for you!"

"Will you?" she said, "then hold your hand in this fire!"

"Oh, that is unreasonable!" he answered.

"But," she replied, "it is much more unreasonable that I should burn forever in Hell for your sake! Who would venture his soul to eternal torment — to gratify his own or another's pleasure and lust?"

We cannot escape God's sight — any more than we can escape His judgment. He sees us, though like Adam and Eve we cover ourselves with fig-leaves. And He will one day call to us, as He did to them, "Sinner — where are you?"

You cannot flee from His presence. You may more easily hide from yourselves — than from God.

I hope you will say, for I am sure you will see cause to do so, "How shall I do this wickedness — and sin against God!"

"Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him? Do not I fill heaven and earth?" Jeremiah 23:24

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Those tokens of divine love!

(John Newton's Letters)

"Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning — but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure." Ecclesiastes 7:3-4

Every day almost I meet with new occasions of admiring the wisdom, care, and faithfulness of our great Shepherd — as He adjusts His dispensations exactly to our need and state.

When the enemy is spreading a snare for our feet, when our deceitful hearts are beginning to start aside, when we have perhaps actually taken some steps in that path which, if persisted in, might terminate in apostasy — oh then, how gracious, how seasonable, how beneficial — are those tokens of divine love (called afflictions in the language of mortals) which He sends to break the snare, to check our progress in sin, and to recall our wandering feet into the path of duty and peace!

How many turns of my life can I recollect of which, though at the time they were not joyous but grievous, I may now say, "I would have perished — if I had not been made wretched!"

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"Sadness is often a happy means of seriousness. That affliction which is impairing to the health, estate, and family — may be improving to the mind, and make such impressions upon it as may alter its temperament very much for the better. Afflictions tend to make the heart . . .
  humble and meek,
  loose from the world,
  penitent for sin,
  and careful in duty.
It will follow, on the contrary, that by foolish mirth, the heart is made worse — more vain, more carnal, more sensual, more in love with the world, and more estranged from God and spiritual things." Matthew Henry

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I bequeath my pastor's soul to the devil!

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

"Covetousness, which is idolatry." Colossians 3:5

Covetousness is explicit idolatry.

Covetousness is the darling sin of our nation.

Covetousness being idolatry — is highly provoking to God.

This leprosy has infected all sorts and ranks of men.

Whatever a man loves most and best — that is his god. The covetous man looks upon the riches of the world as his Heaven — his happiness — his great ALL.
  His heart is most upon the world,
  his thoughts are most upon the world,
  his affections are most upon the world,
  his discourse is most about the world.

He who has his mind taken up with the world, and chiefly delighted with the world's music — he has also his tongue tuned to the same key, and takes his joy and comfort in speaking of the world and worldly things. If the world is in the heart — it will break out at the lips. A worldly-minded man speaks mostly of worldly things. "They are of the world, therefore they speak of the world," John 4:5. The love of this world oils the tongue for worldly discourses, and makes men . . .
  forget God,
  neglect Christ,
  despise holiness,
  forfeit Heaven.

Ah! the time, the thoughts, the strength, the efforts — which are spent upon the world, and the things of the world — while sinners' souls lie a-bleeding, and eternity is hastening upon them!

I have read of a greedy banker, who was always best when he was most in talking of money and the world. Being near his death, he was much pressed to make his WILL. Finally he dictates:

First, I bequeath my own soul to the devil — for being so greedy for the muck of this world!

Secondly, I bequeath my wife's soul to the devil — for persuading me to this worldly course of life.

Thirdly, I bequeath my pastor's soul to the devil — because he did not show me the danger I lived in, nor reprove me for it!

"People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction!" 1 Timothy 6:9

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He who gave — has an undoubted right to take away!

(John Newton's Letters)

"Naked I came from my mother's womb — and naked I will depart. The LORD gave — and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." Job 1:21

Believers are free from condemnation — but not free from pain, sickness, poverty, losses, crosses, sudden trying changes, and what we call premature death. These trials give occasion for the exercise and manifestation of many graces which are not so visible in the sunshine of prosperity. Our trials are further sanctified, to wean the people of God more from the world, and to weaken the body of sin which still dwells in them.

He who gave — has an undoubted right to take away. We are sure that His sovereignty is combined with His infinite wisdom and goodness — and that, when He crosses our wishes, no less than when He grants them — He does all things well! He does not afflict without a need-be — neither will He permit a trial to continue longer than is necessary. Be still, my soul, and know that He is God!

You are in the best hands — and I leave you with Him who loves you and will make all things work for your final benefit.

Oh, the mercy to be enabled to trust ourselves and those whom we love — to Him, and to see them confiding in Him likewise and resigned to His wise disposal. This all-sufficient God can and does make His people more than equal to any and every trial He appoints for them.

But I am a poor creature — and am daily learning that without Him I can do nothing.

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If you admit a pig into your parlor among your friends

(John Newton's Letters)

"Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful — but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life!" Revelation 21:27

If we do not exactly know the particulars of what Heaven is — then we know to a certainty what it is not. We are sure that it is not like earth — there are no ale-houses, gambling parlors, or theaters there.

How then could those whose hearts are set upon these things — possibly be happy even in Heaven, where they would be separated forever from all that they love? Heaven must be a Hell to an unhumbled, unsanctified sinner — even if he could be admitted there. The company, the employments, the enjoyments — are of the same kind with what he despised on earth. If you admit a pig into your parlor among your friends — he would find no pleasure there. He would rather be in the sty, or wallowing in the mire in a ditch!

Well, such were some of us — yes, such were all of us once! And you, my dear friends, though you were not vile profligates like me — you were carelessly swimming down the stream of the world, and, when upon the edge of the whirlpool which would have eternally swallowed you up — He snatched you with a strong hand, set your feet upon a rock, established your goings, and has put a new song in your mouth!

"By the grace of God I am what I am!" 1 Corinthians 15:10