Grace Gems for January, 2018
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A heavenly standard for the regulation of all our conduct
(Arthur Pink, "A Prosperous New Year")
"Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth. You shall meditate on it day and night--so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." Joshua 1:8
"You shall meditate on it day and night."
Only thus will its injunctions be fixed in the memory;
only thus shall we be able to ascertain our duty;
only thus shall we discern the rightful application of the Divine precepts to all the varied details of our daily lives.
The more I am regulated by the Divine Rule--the more I shall be preserved from the mistakes and follies which characterize those who follow a course of self-pleasing. But in order to do God's commandments, I must be conversant with them; and in order to perceive their breadth and specific application unto any problem or decision confronting me, I must "meditate on it day and night." Meditation stands to reading--as mastication does to eating. Spiritual prosperity eludes the slothful and careless.
"That you may be careful to do everything written in it." This must be the dominating motive and object. God's Word is to be appropriated and masticated--fed and meditated upon--not for the purpose of understanding its prophecies, or obtaining an insight into its mysteries--but in order to learn God's will for myself, and having learned it--to conform thereunto. God's Word is given to us chiefly--not to gratify curiosity or to entertain our imagination--but as "a lamp to our feet--and a light unto our path" (Psalm 119:105) in this dark world. It is a Rule for us to walk by--it is a heavenly standard for the regulation of all our conduct. It points out the things to be avoided--the things which would harm us. It tells of the things to be followed and practiced--the things which are for our good and our peace. It contains not only good advice--but is clothed with Divine authority, commanding implicit and unqualified obedience.
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Behold my talents, my eloquence and my zeal!
(Octavius Winslow, "Eminent Holiness Essential to an Efficient Ministry")
"I hate pride and arrogance!" Proverbs 8:13
Pride is a protean evil--assuming a thousand varied and opposite forms.
There is no soil so holy, in which the root of pride will not strike.
There is no employment so sacred, on which pride will not engraft itself.
Pride will even make the cross of Christ a pedestal on which to erect its deformed visage! Yes, while exalting Jesus--we may be found but exalting ourselves. And while exclaiming, "Behold the Lamb of God!"--we may be but veiling His true glory behind our insignificant persons; virtually exclaiming, "Behold my talents, my eloquence and my zeal!" Is there not in us, my brethren, a manifest deficiency of the lowly, self-annihilating humility of the Divine Master whom we serve, and whom it should be our aim and glory to resemble?
The glory of God! What a persuasive motive to ministerial holiness! Let it be ours, my brethren--our one, sole, undeviating aim. Let us sacrifice everything that would divert us from it--fame, applause, reputation, popularity, worldly comfort, the dearest interests of self. If any of these come in competition with the honor of divine truth and the glory of God--then let them go!
"The Lord detests all the proud of heart!" Proverbs 16:5
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One year nearer to Heaven--or nearer to Hell!
(Arthur Pink, "Studies in the Scriptures" January, 1926)
Another year has passed away--gone into eternity with all its sad and glad records.
Sad, because of our sins and our failures--all of which have been observed and recorded by the All-seeing eye!
Sad, because numbers who "did run well"--do so no longer.
Glad, because of the "goodness and mercy" which have surely followed us day by day.
Glad, because . . .
weak ones have been strengthened,
sorrowing ones have been comforted, and
hungry ones have been fed with the Bread of Life.
How is it with you--progression or regression?
One thing is certain--January, 1926 finds you one year nearer to Heaven--or nearer to Hell!
Reader! You have entered this New Year, either accepted in God's Beloved--or under God's holy wrath! How unspeakably solemn are the alternatives!
To any unsaved reader who scans these lines, we would say: You have commenced this year on earth--and you may end it in Hell, where a ray of hope never enters. "Now acquaint yourself with Him, and be at peace. Thereby good will come to you." Job 22:21
To the Christian--not to the professing one, but the the genuine believer--we would say: What a bright hope is yours! How precious is the thought, that before 1926 ends, you may be "forever with the Lord!" The bud of promise--may burst into the full fruit of unspeakable bliss! The springtime of faith and hope--may give place to the unending summertime of blessedness and eternal glory.
Since this is the case, let us be reminded of our solemn responsibility at the dawn of another year . . .
to yield ourselves afresh to God,
to seek His face with full purpose of heart,
to supplicate Him for new supplies of grace--
that we may serve Him as never before!
"The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light." Romans 13:11-12
"So teach us to number our days aright--that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12
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As we launch out into another year
(Arthur Pink, "New Year's Comfort" 1943)
"The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you! He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid--do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8
As we launch out into another year, there is little visible prospect of a smooth and pleasant voyage. To the natural eye, the clouds are dark and fierce storms seem imminent. The very uncertainty of what the morrow may bring forth, fills many with uneasiness and trepidation.
But how different should be the state of God's children! An all-sufficient Object is presented to the eyes of their faith, from which unbelief derives no comfort. The poor worldling is concerned with what lies before him--but it is the blessed privilege of the believer to be occupied with Who goes before him--the One who is his Captain, his Guide, his Forerunner. "The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you!" What a difference that makes! O that writer and reader may be enabled to lay hold of this grand Truth as we enter another period of time, and keep it steadily in mind throughout the coming days!
"Do not be afraid--for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name--you are Mine!
When you go through deep waters--I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty--you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression--you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.
For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior!" Isaiah 43:1-3
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The book for the afflicted
"Before I was afflicted I went astray--but now I obey Your Word." Psalm 119:67
The Bible is the book for the afflicted. We fly to it in times of adversity. It is then that we . . .
read it more attentively,
counsel with it more closely,
understand it more clearly,
relish it more sweetly, and
receive it into the heart more experimentally, as the engrafted Word.
Affliction illuminates the Bible--as though a new book had been composed--or another constellation in the spiritual hemisphere had burst upon the telescope of faith!
We know more of the Lord Jesus through one sanctified affliction--than by all the treatises the human pen ever wrote!
Welcome whatever makes you more acquainted with God!
Despise nothing that will deepen your intimacy with Jesus.
Welcome the cross--though it may be heavy!
Welcome the cup--though it may be bitter. Receive it as a blessing sent to you from your Father--receive it as a heavenly message to your soul.
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The one indispensable book!
(Daniel March, 1870)
The Bible is the oldest--and the newest of books.
The Bible surveys the whole field of time--and it looks farthest into the infinite depths of eternity.
The Bible lends the most vivid and absorbing interest to the scenes and events of the past--and it keeps us in the most active sympathy with the time in which we live.
The Bible gives us the most reliable record of what has been--and it affords us our only means of knowing what is yet to be.
The Bible is holy enough to denounce the very shadow and semblance of sin--and it is merciful enough to save the chief of sinners.
The Bible is full of God--and must therefore be read with a pure heart, or its true glory will not be seen.
The Bible is full of man--and must therefore always be interesting and instructive to all who would know themselves.
The Bible is the plainest of books--and yet it has depths of wisdom which no created mind can fathom.
The Bible is set up as a beacon to show all wanderers the safe way--and yet its light shines forth from thick clouds of mystery, and from abysses of infinite darkness.
The Bible describes all conditions of life--and it gives utterance to all desires and emotions of the soul.
The Bible has a song of triumph for the overcomer--and a wail of defeat for the overcome.
The Bible . . .
sparkles with the fervor and gladness of youth,
celebrates the strength and glory of manhood,
bewails the sorrows and infirmities of old age.
The Bible . . .
exults in the mighty deeds of kings and conquerors,
sympathizes with the poor and lowly,
lifts up the fallen,
delivers the oppressed, and
breathes the blessing of peace upon the quiet homes of domestic life.
The Bible describes with startling clearness . . .
the seductions of temptation,
the conflicts of doubt and
the miseries of skepticism.
The Bible . . .
searches the secret chambers of the heart,
brings to light its purest love and its darkest hate,
reveals its highest joy and its deepest grief.
The Bible compasses the utmost range of thought and feeling and desire--and it sounds the utmost depth of motive and character and passion.
Thus in the Bible,
God and man,
earth and heaven,
time and eternity--
speak with one voice and teach the same truth.
The Bible sets forth the most spiritual and heavenly truths--in the lights and shadows of earthly scenes and human characters.
Thus the Bible is the one indispensable book . . .
for all ages--and all nations,
for all classes of men--and all states of society,
for all capacities of intellect--and all necessities of the soul!
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The great business of a Christian's life!
"Guard your heart above all else--for it determines the course of your life!" Proverbs 4:23
The heart is the seat of principles--and the fountain of actions. The eye of God is, and the eye of the Christian ought to be--principally fixed upon it.
The greatest difficulty in conversion--is to win the heart to God.
The greatest difficulty after conversion--is to keep the heart with God.
Here lies the very pinch and stress of religion; here is that that makes the way to life a narrow way, and the gate of Heaven a straight gate.
The keeping and right managing of the heart in every condition--is the great business of a Christian's life!
"Oh, for a holier heart!
Oh for a heart to hate sin more!
Oh for a heart to love God more--and to walk more closely with Him!
Lord, whatever you deny me--do not deny me such a heart!
Give me a heart to fear You, love You and delight in You!"
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O what a melting consideration is this!
"The Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me!" Galatians 2:20
Out of Christ's condemnation--flows my justification!
Out of His agony--comes my victory!
Out of His pain--comes my ease!
Out of His stripes--comes my healing!
Out of His gall and vinegar--comes my honey!
Out of His curse--comes my blessing!
Out of His crown of thorns--comes my crown of glory!
Out of His sin-atoning death--comes my eternal life!
O what a melting consideration is this!
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Every step along the path of life
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith!" Hebrews 12:2
Every step along the path of life, is a battle for the Christian to keep the eyes of the heart on Jesus.
If I may speak my own experience, I find that to keep my eye simply upon Christ, as my peace, and my life--is by far the hardest part of my calling.
Hungering and thirsting for Christ, is the central daily Christian discipline.
We depend on Him for hourly supplies of wisdom, strength, and comfort!
To know Jesus, is the shortest description of true grace;
to know Him better, is the surest mark of growth in grace;
to know Him perfectly, is eternal life.
This includes all I can wish for my dear friends--that you may grow in grace, and in the knowledge of Jesus.
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I would refer it back to Him again!
It was an excellent reply that a Christian mother once made to a friend--when her beloved and only child lay in a dangerous sickness at the point of death.
The friend asked the mother, "What would you now ask of God, in reference to your child? Would you beg Him for your child's life?"
The mother answered, "I refer that to the will of God."
"But," said her friend, "if God would refer it to you--what would you choose then?"
"Why truly," said she, "if God would refer it to me--I would refer it back to Him again!"
"He is the LORD. Let Him do what seems good to Him." 1 Samuel 3:18
"Suddenly, a powerful wind swept in from the wilderness and hit the house on all sides. The house collapsed, and all your children are dead!" Job 1:19
"The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away--may the name of the LORD be praised." Job 1:21
"Father, if You are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from Me. Nevertheless, I want Your will to be done, not Mine." Luke 22:42
"May the Lord's will be done." Acts 21:14
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The greatest problem we face as a nation is . . .
The greatest problem we face as a nation is our sin; and the only ultimate solution is Christ crucified!
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The duty, the privilege, the safety, the unspeakable happiness!
"Looking unto Jesus!" Hebrews 12:2
Look unto the Lord Jesus Christ!
Look unto Him as He hung exposed, wounded, bleeding, dead, and forsaken upon the cross!
Look unto Him again as He now reigns in glory, possessed of all power in Heaven and in earth, with thousands of thousands of saints and angels worshiping Him! And then compare . . .
your sins--with His blood,
your needs--with His fullness,
your unbelief--with His faithfulness,
your weakness--with His strength,
your inconstancy--with His everlasting love!
If the Lord opens the eyes of your understanding, you would be astonished at the comparison!
"Looking unto Jesus" is the duty, the privilege, the safety, the unspeakable happiness, of a believer--are all comprised in that one sentence!
It is by looking to Jesus, that the believer is enlightened and strengthened, and grows in grace and sanctification.
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If we could but grasp this in the depth of our being!
"The LORD does whatever pleases Him--in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths. He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; He sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from His storehouses." Psalm 135:6-7
God's sovereignty is but another name for the unlimited exercise of wisdom and goodness and power. Nothing can hinder Him.
Every drop of rain hits its appointed target--and every particle of dust is carried by the wind to its appointed resting place.
If we could but grasp this in the depth of our being, our souls would be liberated to depend fully on God's governance over our lives, and to learn to count trials, all joy!
"Our God is in heaven--He does whatever pleases Him." Psalm 115:3
"All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back His hand or say to Him: What have you done?" Daniel 4:35
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Religion is not to be confined to devotional exercises
Religion is not to be confined to devotional exercises--but rather consists in doing all that we are called to do, with a single eye to His glory and will, from a grateful sense of His love and mercy to us. This is the chemistry which turns every mundane thing into gold, and stamps a value upon common actions!
When a mother is making or mending the children's clothes, or teaching them, or cleaning the kitchen, or a saucepan--she may be as well employed, as when she is upon her knees or at the Lord's Table.
It is a great mistake to think that all time is lost--which is not spent in bible-reading, or hearing sermons, or prayer.
These are properly called means of grace--and should be attended to in their proper season.
But the fruits of grace--are to appear in our common daily course of conduct.
It would be wrong for a mother to neglect the house of God--and it would be equally wrong to neglect the prudent management of her own house. It is chiefly as a wife and mother of a family, that she can let her light shine to His praise. I would not have her think that she could serve the Lord better in any other station, than in that in which God in His providence has placed her.
A simple desire to please God, to walk by the rule of His Word, and to do all to His glory . . .
like the fabled magic stone, turns all to gold,
consecrates the actions of common life, and
makes everything that belongs to our situation and duty in domestic life, a part of our religion.
"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do--do all to the glory of God!" 1 Corinthians 10:31
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As many heads as a Hydra, and as many lives as a cat!
Beware of SELF! This is the worst enemy we have to deal with!
It is a large family--and I cannot count up all the branches! They are all nearly related to Satan--and they are all a sworn enemy to our peace.
If we lie low--then the Lord will raise us up.
But if we will be something--then His arm will surely pull us down.
That monster SELF has as many heads as a Hydra, and as many lives as a cat! It is more than twenty-five years since I hoped it was fast nailed to the Cross! But alas, it is alive--and still mixing with and spoiling everything I do!
(N.B. The Hydra was a serpentine mythological water monster with many heads.
For every head chopped off--the Hydra would re-grow a couple of new heads.)
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The foundation of all true knowledge of God
The foundation of all true knowledge of God, must be a clear mental apprehension of His perfections as revealed in Holy Scripture. An unknown God can neither be trusted, served nor worshiped. Something more than a theoretical knowledge of God is needed by us. God is only truly known in the soul, as we . . .
yield ourselves to Him,
submit to His authority, and
regulate all the details of our lives by His holy precepts and commandments.
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Last week we had a lion in town!
(Letters of John Newton)
July 7, 1778
My dear friend,
Last week we had a lion in town. I went to see him. He was astonishingly tame--as friendly with his keeper, and as docile and obedient as a pet dog. Yet the man told me he had his surly fits, when they dared not go near him.
No looking-glass could show my face more justly--than this lion shows my heart! I could trace every feature--as wild and fierce by nature; yes, much more so--but grace has in some measure tamed me. I know and love my Keeper, and sometimes watch His looks that I may learn His will. But, oh! I have my surly fits too! Seasons when I relapse into the savage again, as though I had forgotten all.
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How may I pass through life with the least inconvenience?
If I am redeemed from eternal misery by the death of Jesus; and if He is now preparing a glorious mansion for me near Himself, that I may drink of the rivers of pleasure at His right hand for evermore--then the question is not (at least ought not to be), "How may I pass through life with the least inconvenience?"
Rather it should be: "How may my little span of life be made most subservient to the praise and glory of Him who loved me, and gave Himself for me?"
"Live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers--but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect!" 1 Peter 1:17-19
"What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits to me?" Psalm 116:12
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Everything is necessary--Nothing is necessary
Everything is necessary, which God sends.
Nothing is necessary, which God withholds.
How happy are those . . .
who can resign all to Him,
who see His hand in every trying dispensation, and
who believe that He chooses better for them--than they could possibly choose for themselves!
Faithful are the wounds of that Friend who was Himself wounded and slain for us, and who now reigns over all!
Christ is sovereign over all of our trials.
He is the Supreme Disposer of all that concerns us, that He . . .
numbers the very hairs of our heads,
appoints every trial we meet with--in number, weight, and measure,
and will allow nothing to befall us, but what shall contribute to our good.
The view of trials as a necessary medicine suited to our disease--powerfully reconciles us unto every cross.
What a comfort to be assured that our afflictions do not happen to us at random--but are all under the direction of infinite wisdom and love, and all engaged to work together for good to those who love the Lord!
"We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28
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Men as well as children, may be pleased with trifles!
Men as well as children, may be pleased with trifles. However one object may drive out another--it is but an exchange of trifles.
A believing view of the land that is far off, where the King reigns in His beauty--will wean our affections from the trifles of this world!
Nothing can turn out the love of the world, but the love of God shed abroad in the heart. Wherever the love of God is so shed abroad in the heart as to become the ruling principle--there the world loses its hold. The light of His glory, as it shines in the face of Jesus Christ--casts shame and disgrace on all worldly vanities!
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The bulk of my congregation were burglars, highway robbers, and poor unhappy prostitutes!
"But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on Him and receive eternal life!" 1 Timothy 1:16
You would have liked to have been with me last Wednesday, when I preached at the prison. The bulk of my congregation were burglars, highway robbers, and poor unhappy prostitutes--such as infest the streets of this city, sunk in sin, and lost to shame. I had a hundred or more of these criminals before me.
I preached from 1 Timothy 1:15, "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst!" and began with telling them my own story. This gained their attention more than I expected. I spoke to them nearly an hour and a half. I shed many tears myself, and saw some of them shed tears likewise.
Ah! Had you seen their present condition, and could you hear the history of some of them, it would make you sing, "O to grace, how great a debtor, daily I'm constrained to be!"
By nature, they were no worse than the most upright and moral people; and there was doubtless a time when many of them little thought what they would live to do and suffer.
I might have been, like them, in chains--and one of them have come to preach to me, had the Lord so pleased!
In my days of folly and vanity, I was a chief sinner indeed--a vile blasphemer, and profligate to an extreme! But it has pleased Him to set me forth as a pattern of His mercy to other chief sinners--that none may despair when they see me!
"By the grace of God I am what I am!" 1 Corinthians 15:10
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It is no wonder that they were so dejected!
(James Buchanan, "The Office and Work of the Holy Spirit" 1842)
"I am now going away to Him who sent Me . . . Because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart." John 16:5-6
It is no wonder that they were so dejected in the prospect of losing the personal presence of Him who was . . .
their kindest friend,
their unwearied benefactor,
their patient teacher--whose . . .
wisdom was their guide,
power was their defense,
sympathy was their consolation,
approval their was reward, and
salvation was their highest hope.
They were attached to Him as a personal Friend--by the strongest ties of gratitude, and admiration, and love.
They had long associated with Him on terms of most endearing intimacy.
They had often looked with delight on His compassionate countenance, 'full of grace and truth'.
They had listened to his public preaching and His private conversation, when 'He spoke as never any man spoke'.
They had witnessed His miracles of mercy, and His life of unwearied beneficence, 'when He went about continually doing good'.
They had themselves received at His hands every benefit which divine love, combined with the most perfect human kindness, could bestow.
And can we deem it astonishing, if the thought of parting with such a Friend, whose appearance, and voice, and person were entwined with their fondest affections--filled their hearts with especial sadness?
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I perceive that your heavenly Father has again put you into the furnace!
(Letters of John Newton)
My Dear Madam,
I perceive that your heavenly Father has again put you into the furnace, and I trust that He will divinely impress upon your heart, that there is a needs be for it--and that the outcome of your present trial shall surely end in good to your soul.
His Word tells us that trials are absolutely necessary, and why they are so--as He would not afflict those whom He loves, but for their real profit. So He chooses those afflictions for us, and appoints them for us at such seasons, and attended with such circumstances--as He sees will be (all things considered) most for our spiritual advantage. The afflictions and trials of His people are always sent, either to cure--or to prevent something still worse.
Satan is compared to a fowler, and we sometimes are as little upon our guard as a thoughtless bird--the danger is close to us, but we are not aware of it. But, as a sudden noise affrights the bird, and makes it take wing and escape the snare--so the Lord often disappoints the devices of the enemy, by sending a seasonable trial to His dear children, which arouses them, and makes them flee to Him for safety.
I have often thought that if David had fallen and broke his leg when he was going up to the housetop--he would have missed the sight of Bathsheba, and that long train of evils which made him cry out of broken bones in a still more painful sense.
Just so, we do not know how things might have been with us--if such or such a painful dispensation had not happened. A course of continual prosperity might have lulled us to sleep. We must admit this, when we find ourselves still apt to be drowsy--even though the Lord is pleased to put thorns into our pillow.
Notwithstanding the feeling proofs we have of the vanity of the present state, our spirits are still too apt to cleave to the dust. What then might have been the case--had our path been always smooth?
He is a good master to serve--I have found Him to be so for thirty years.
Cheer up, dear Madam, the Lord does all things well! Do not be afraid of storms--for you have an infallible Pilot who will guide you with His eye, uphold you with His arm, and is every minute bringing you nearer to the harbor of eternal rest and peace!
We have just began harvest in these parts. The grain has passed through a variety of weather. Frosts and winds, rains and heat, each of which, singly, would have destroyed it--have each in their places (through the blessing of the Lord's overruling providence) concurred to bring it to its present maturity. The farmers here, as well as elsewhere, have had different fears and complaints at different times; they have thought sometimes the weather too cold or too hot, too wet or too dry, by turns. But their fears were groundless and vain--the crop is ripe, the stalks are loaded, and bend under the weight of the grain.
Is not this an emblem of the spiritual life? What changes of weather have we passed through, since the seeds of grace were first sown in our hearts! How often have we been ready to murmur at the appointments of the Heavenly Gardener! How hardly could we be persuaded that the afflictions, temptations, and trials which we have been exercised with--have, in their places, been no less subservient to our growth, than the more pleasing sunshine we have been sometimes favored with?
Yet, I trust, we are still growing and getting forward. Neither frost or floods have been able to destroy us; and Oh, Madam, (may our hearts rejoice at the thought!) the harvest is approaching! When He sees that we are fully ripe--when all that He has designed to do for us, in us, and by us, is completed--then He will separate us from these clods of earth, and remove us into His dwelling place, where we shall be done with fears and trials forever!
We shall not then live this poor dying life--neither shall we have to complain of an evil heart of unbelief. We shall not complain of a cold and careless heart--because we shall be at the fountain-head of all our best wishes and desires! We shall be enjoying, through eternal ages, that ineffable bliss which is prepared for all who love God, and who have been called by divine grace, out of the service of sin, Satan, and the world--to love and serve Him who is the Rock of eternal ages. Yes, my dear Madam, we shall, with unspeakable delight--see Jesus as He is, and be completely like Him! Let us, then, not be weary in well doing; for, in due season, we shall reap, if we fail not.
I am, my dear Madam,
Your obliged and affectionate Servant,
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Weak and singular and odd!
A consistent Christian, whose integrity, humility, and philanthropy, mark his character and adorn his profession--will in time command respect.
But his attachment to the unfashionable truths of the Gospel, and his separation from the maxims and pursuits of the world--will render him weak and singular and odd in their eyes.
"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you!" John 15:18-19
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The cause of all His anguish!
"My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Mark 15:34
Come, friend, let us leave our troubles to themselves for a while--and let us walk to Golgotha, and there take a view of His troubles!
Behold the Beloved of God, perfectly spotless and holy--yet made an example of the severest vengeance. Behold Him . . .
prostrate and agonizing in the garden;
enduring the vilest insults from wicked men;
torn with whips, and nails, and thorns;
suspended, exposed, wounded, and bleeding upon the cross;
heavily distressed, being forsaken by His Father.
Sin was the cause of all His anguish! He stood in the place of sinners--and therefore He was not spared. Not any, or all, the evils which the world has known, afford such proof of the dreadful effects and detestable nature of sin, as the knowledge of Christ crucified!
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He is a very well-behaved God!
The God of modern evangelicalism rarely astonishes anybody.
He manages to stay pretty much with the church's constitution--and never breaks her by-laws.
He is a very well-behaved God, and very denominational, and very much like one of us.
We ask Him to help us when we're in trouble--and expect Him to watch over us when we're asleep.
The God of modern evangelicalism isn't a God I could have much respect for!
"They say: How can God know? Does the Most High have knowledge?" Psalm 73:11
"A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father--then where is the honor due to Me? If I am a master--then where is the respect due to Me?" says the LORD Almighty. "It is you, O priests, who despise My name!" Malachi 1:6
"These things you have done, and I kept silent. You thought I was altogether like you. But I will rebuke you and accuse you to your face!" Psalm 50:21
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She has listened to the blandishments of those who would woo her away!
"They admitted that they were strangers and pilgrims on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, 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 city for them!" Hebrews 11:14-16
Let no one apologize for the powerful emphasis which Christianity lays upon the doctrine of the world to come.
The church is constantly being tempted to accept this present world as her home, and sometimes she has listened to the blandishments of those who would woo her away and use her for their own ends. But if she is wise, she will consider that she stands in the valley between the mountain peaks of eternity past and eternity to come. The past is gone forever--and the present is passing as swift as the shadow on the sundial of Ahaz. Even if the earth should continue a million years, not one of us could stay to enjoy it.
We would do well, to think of the long tomorrow!
"They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever!" Revelation 20:10
"And they will reign for ever and ever!" Revelation 22:5
"To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb--be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!" Revelation 5:13
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When the bird of thought was let go!
Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling--fix your thoughts on Jesus!" Hebrews 3:1
"Bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:5
What we think about when we are free to think about what we will--that is what we are, or will soon become.
Anyone who wishes to check on his true spiritual condition may do so by noting what his voluntary thoughts have been over the last hours or days. What has he thought about, when free to think of what he pleased? Toward what has his inner heart turned, when it was free to turn where it would?
When the bird of thought was let go, did it fly out like the raven to settle upon floating carcasses--or did it like the dove circle and return again to the ark of God? Such a test is easy to run, and if we are honest with ourselves we can discover not only what we are--but what we are going to become. We will soon be the sum of our voluntary thoughts!
Long practice in the art of mental prayer (that is, talking to God inwardly as we work or travel) will help to form the habit of holy thoughts.
"For as he thinks within himself, so he is." Proverbs 23:7
"Oh, Lord, You know the constant struggle which we have with our thought life. You know how often our thoughts settle on rotten carcasses. Take control of my thoughts today, and move me along in the development of the habit of holy thought. Amen."
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Rules for Self Knowledge
"For as he thinks within himself, so he is." Proverbs 23:7
Rules for Self Knowledge:
1. What we want most.
2. What we think about most.
3. How we use our money.
4. What we do with our leisure time.
5. The company we enjoy.
6. Who and what we admire.
"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things!" Colossians 3:1-2
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I labor under a complication of disorders!
I have often detected the two vile abominations--self-will and self-righteousness insinuating themselves into all that I do!
God has mercifully convinced me that I labor under a complication of disorders--summed up in the word, SIN.
He has graciously revealed Himself to me as the infallible Physician--and has enabled me, as such, to commit myself to Him, and to expect my cure from His hand alone.
Yet how often, instead of thankfully accepting His prescriptions--I have foolishly and presumptuously ventured to prescribe to Him, and to point out how I would have Him to deal with me!
How often have I thought that something was necessary for me--which He saw best to deny; and that I could have done better without those dispensations which His wisdom and grace have appointed to work for my good!
Thankfully, He is never weary of me--nor has He left me to my own management!
How inconsistent I am! To acknowledge that I am blind, to entreat Him to lead me--and yet to want to choose my own way, all in the same breath!
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This precept is very extensive and important
"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind . . ." Romans 12:2
This precept is very extensive and important. As believers, we are strangers and pilgrims upon earth. Heaven is our country--and the Lord is our King. We are to be known as His subjects--and therefore it is His pleasure that we do not speak the language or adopt the customs, of the land in which we sojourn.
We must not conform to the spirit of the world. As members of society, we have a part to act in it, in common with others. But though our business is the same--our principles and ends are to be entirely different!
We must not conform to the maxims of the world. The world in various instances calls evil, good--and good, evil. But we have recourse to the law and to the testimony, and are to judge of things by the unerring Word of God--uninfluenced by the determination of the great or the many.
We must not conform to the world in their amusements and diversions. We are to mix with the world, only so far as our necessary and providential connections engage us--so far as we have a reasonable expectation of doing or getting good, and no farther.
"What fellowship has light with darkness, or what concord has Christ with Belial?" What call can a believer have into those places and companies . . .
where everything tends to promote a spirit of dissipation;
where the fear of God has no place;
where things are purposely disposed to inflame or indulge corrupt and sinful appetites and passions, and to banish all serious thoughts of God and ourselves?
If it is our duty . . .
to redeem time,
to walk with God,
to do all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
to follow the example which He set for us when He was upon the earth,
and to work out our salvation with fear and trembling
--then it must of course be our duty to avoid a conformity with the world in those vain and sensual diversions, which stand in as direct contradiction to a spiritual frame of mind, as darkness to light.