Grace Gems for JUNE 2018

Should it be according to your mind?

(James Smith, "Important Questions!" 1858)

"Should it be according to your mind?" Job 34:33

We are prone to be fretful, to complain of the dispensations of Divine Providence, and to reflect harshly upon the Lord's dealings with us.

We want our own way.

We wish to carve for ourselves.

We would be treated as God's favorites.

We want our ease, and prosperity, and pleasure, consulted in all things. And if this does not appear to be done—if our wills are crossed, if our schemes are frustrated, if our purposes are broken off—then we stumble, think ourselves badly treated, and look for everybody to sympathize with us.

Under these circumstances, God comes to us—as we sit among our broken cisterns, surrounded by our dethroned idols—and puts this question to us: "Should it be according to your mind?"

  Are you wiser than God?

    Are you kinder than God?

      Are you holier than God?

    Are you more just than God?

  Are you better informed than God?

May not your mind be dark, or selfish, or foolish?

Should it then be according to your mind?

Should you reign—or God?

Remember that . . .
  God acts in the highest wisdom,
  His motives are grace and justice,
  and all His purposes are worthy of Himself.

The least the Christian can do is to submit—and to prefer God's perfect wisdom, ways, and works—to his own. Seeing God has so arranged all events, that all things must work together for the good of His people—they, at least, should daily say, "Father, may Your will be done!"

O my soul, seek grace from God, not only to submit and be resigned to the dispensations of Divine Providence—but to acquiesce in them, and be pleased with the whole of them! Your good is consulted—your best interests are secured. Soon, very soon, it will be seen that infinite wisdom and mercy, grace and goodness, have marked out every step of your road!

"Jesus replied: You do not understand what I am now doing—but someday you will." John 13:7

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The sword of His pure, infinite and incensed wrath!

Thomas Brooks, "The Golden Key to Open Hidden Treasures")

"Yet it was the Lord's will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer." Isaiah 53:10

To see God thrust the sword of His pure, infinite and incensed wrath through the very heart of His dearest Son, notwithstanding all His supplications, prayers, tears, and strong cries—is the highest manifestation of the Lord's hatred and indignation of sin—which ever was, or ever will be!

It is true, God revealed His great hatred against sin . . .
  by casting the angels down to hell,
  by turning Adam out of paradise,
  by drowning the old world, and
  by raining hell out of heaven upon Sodom and Gomorrah,
and by the various and dreadful judgments which He has been a-pouring forth upon the world in all ages. But all this hatred is but an emblem of hatred—compared to that hatred which God manifested against sin, in causing the whole curse to meet upon our crucified Lord!

It is true that God reveals His hatred of sin by those endless, easeless, and remediless torments, which He inflicts upon devils and damned men. But this is no hatred—compared to that hatred against sin, which God revealed when He opened all the floodgates of His envenomed wrath upon His Son—His own Son, His only Son, His Son who always pleased Him.

Suppose there was a father who had but one son—and he was such a son in whom he always delighted, and by whom he had never been provoked. Now suppose you should you see this father inflicting the most intensified pains and punishments, tortures and torments, calamities and miseries upon this, his dearest son. Would you not wonder at the cause of the father's exercising such amazing, such matchless severity, fury and cruelty upon his only beloved son?

Now cast your eye upon the actings of God the Father towards Jesus Christ—and you will find that He has inflicted more and greater torments upon the Son of His dearest love—than all mortals ever have or could inflict upon others. God made all the penalties and sufferings that were due to us—to fall upon Jesus Christ. God Himself inflicted upon dear Jesus, whatever was requisite to the satisfying of His justice, to the obtaining of pardon, and to the saving of all His elect!

"He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed." Isaiah 53:5

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You have not yet come to the rest and the inheritance which the Lord your God is giving you!

("Every Day!" Author unknown, 1872)

"You have not yet come to the rest and the inheritance which the Lord your God is giving you!" Deuteronomy 12:9

These words were addressed to the people of Israel in reference to their entrance into Canaan. A better rest and a more glorious inheritance are in reserve for the people of God—and they are freely bestowed. As Canaan was given to the Jews—so is Heaven, with all its joys, given to believers! God has, in unspeakable grace, given His only begotten Son—and with Him, He freely gives all things.

Christian pilgrim, you have not yet come to the rest and inheritance which the Lord your God will give you. You have yet a little longer to tread the wilderness course:
  your work is not yet done,
  your battles are not all fought,
  your trials are not all endured.
But praise your God and take courage!

"He who has helped you hitherto
 Will help you all your journey through!"

You have not yet come to your rest—but you are coming to it! It is a little nearer now, than it was yesterday.

You are not yet in possession of your eternal inheritance—but Christ is in possession, and you are a joint heir with Him. Where the forerunner is—there all His followers will be!

"Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in Heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay!" 1 Peter 1:3-4

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Our sea may sometimes be stormy, but we have an infallible Pilot!

(Letters of John Newton)

Dear friend,
Your constitution, your situation, your temperament, all that is either comfortable or painful in your lot—is of God's divine appointment. The hairs of your head are all numbered! The same power which produced the planets, is necessary to the production of a single hair; nor can one of them fall to the ground without His notice, any more than the stars can fall from their orbits!

In providence, no less than in creation, He controls the very greatest as well as the very smallest things.

Healing and wounding are equally from His hand—and equally tokens of His love and care over us.

Our faithful and good Shepherd affords to us strength according to our day. He knows our frame, and will lay no more on us than He will enable us to bear—no more than He will cause to work for our good. Our comforts of every kind come free and undeserved—and when we are afflicted, it is because there is a need-be for it. He does it not willingly. Our trials are either beneficial medicines, or honorable appointments, to put us in such circumstances as may best qualify us to show forth His praise.

Our sea may sometimes be stormy, but we have an infallible Pilot, and shall infallibly gain our port!

Therefore do not be afraid; only believe!

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The aged believer's cordial

(James Smith)

"Hearken unto Me! I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born. I will be your God throughout your lifetime—until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you!" Isaiah 46:3-4

This passage of Scripture is the aged believer's cordial. Let us look at the beautiful images employed.

God is our parent—a kind and tender-hearted parent. He is peculiarly attached to His people—they are dear to Him, and precious in His sight. They are His portion. He prizes them above all creation. He is strong to sustain, to defend and support them. His strong arm, tender heart, and watchful eye—are all employed for them—and especially so in old age.

The aged believer is as a child. He is weak. He feels exposed and defenseless. He is timid and fearful. But the Lord, as a tender parent, engages to take him up in the arms of His power—and carry him in the bosom of His love! Like a tender lamb in the shepherd's bosom on a cold and frosty night, borne across a bleak and snow-covered wasteland—so the believer, in the winter of old age, shall be carried in the bosom of his God, across the bleak and cheerless desert of time.

God will carry him tenderly—hushing the weak one's fears.
He will bear him carefully—so that nothing shall harm or hurt him.
He will soothe him with gentle words, and encourage him with kind acts—until He safely brings him Home!

Dear aged Christian, you have nothing to fear! Your God says, "I will be your God throughout your lifetime—until your hair is white with age! I am your Father—your Friend—your solace—and your confidence! Look unto Me, even to old age—I will carry you. I will bear you up under all that you feel and fear. I will carry you through all that discourages or distresses you. I will deliver you from foes, fears, dangers and death itself! Nothing shall by any means hurt you! My arm is strong enough—trust in it. My bosom is your resting-place—lean on it, lean hard! Do not be afraid . . .
  love dwells there,
  pity rules there,
  your name is engraved there!
Trust me, I will never leave you nor forsake you!

"Hearken!" Believer, your God bids you to "hearken." His words are true and faithful.
He speaks to banish your fears.
He speaks to strengthen your faith.
He speaks to comfort your poor drooping heart.
He speaks to clothe your care-worn brow, with the light of hope, with the cheerfulness which confidence imparts.

Hearken to Him—not to unbelief or carnal reason.
It is the Guide of your youth who addresses you.
It is your tender Parent who seeks to cheer your heart.
Hearken, it is your Savior who speaks!

"As one whom his mother comforts"—so does your God comfort you.
He is near you—near you every moment;
He will carry you—carry you every step;
He will deliver you—deliver you from every danger, trouble and foe!

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The greatest unkindness they could possibly do the child!

(J.R. Miller)

"Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die.
 Punish him with the rod—and save his soul from death!" Proverbs 23:13-14

To leave the roots of weeds growing in the garden among the flowers—is to insure the springing up of those weeds by and by, to mar the beauty of the garden.

In the same way, some parents have such foolish hearts that they cannot bear to correct a child lest they cause it pain. They forget that to leave an uncorrected fault in a child, or to allow any wrong habit to grow up in its life unchecked—is the greatest unkindness they could possibly do the child!

No tender feeling should ever prevent a parent from trying to correct a fault in a child. Love must always seek the best.

"Chasten your son while there is hope—and do not set your heart on his destruction!" Proverbs 19:18

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These rare pictures!

(J.R. Miller)

"Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things!" Isaiah 40:26

They miss many a tender joy—who do not have a heart in sympathy with nature.

They lose many a whisper of love which drops from God's lips—who do not have ears open to hear the voices of nature.

They fail to see many lovely visions of beauty—who have not learned to use their eyes in admiring the exquisite things that God has scattered everywhere in such glorious variety.

Yet most of us walk amid these inspirations, these rare pictures, these sweet voices—and neither feel nor see nor hear them! God meant us to get comfort and joy from the lovely things with which He has filled our earth.

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.
 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.
 There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
 Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world!" Psalm 19:1-4

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The Holy Spirit

(James Smith, "The Way of Salvation Set Forth")

"That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." John 3:6

The Holy Spirit is the author of the great work of regeneration. He takes up His abode in the renewed heart, as His temple. He dwells in us, and shall be with us. Jesus does all for us, in our justification; and the Holy Spirit does all in us, for our sanctification.

The Holy Spirit is the source of all holy desires, consistent purposes and good works. There is no good thing in us, but what He produces. He dwells within us as the Teacher, the Comforter and the Advocate of the soul. He leads us . . .
  into truth,
  against Satan,
  and to labor for God.

He . . .
warns us of evil,
directs us to Jesus, and
applies the blessings of salvation to our souls.
He is in us as a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

Without the Holy Spirit there is not, there cannot be, genuine religion; for He is its author, guardian, and guide.

To Him we are indebted . . .
  for every good desire,
  for every holy thought,
  for every good word, and
  for every fruitful work.
He works in us to will and to do of His own good pleasure.

Every tear of penitence,
every contrite sigh,
every fervent prayer,
every ray of spiritual light,
every holy emotion toward God
—is from the Holy Spirit.

If He left us—our graces would soon wither, fade and die.

When we grieve Him . . .
  our comforts decline,
  our evidences are beclouded,
  and our hands wax feeble.
But . . .
if we sow to the Spirit,
if we walk in the Spirit,
if we aim in all things to please Him—then . . .
  our souls are vigorous,
  our graces are lively, and
  we are enabled to find our joy in God.

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God has three hands!

(The sermons of Matthew Mead, 1629-1699)

"It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God!" Hebrews 10:31

What is meant by God's hands?

  1. There is God's protecting hand, which is sweet and comfortable.

  2. There is God's chastening hand, which is bitter, but profitable.

  3. There is God's revenging hand, which is neither comfortable nor profitable, but astonishing and fearful. This is the hand of God's wrath, by which He executes judgment on unrepentant sinners, without remedy, and without mercy. This is the hand which the text points at: "It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God!"

Now men go on in their sins securely—and God is quiet and lets them alone. Now they speak peace to themselves in the midst of their sin and rebellion. But when God's hand takes hold of them in judgment—then He will repay sinners for all the wrongs they have done Him all their lives long, "As surely as I live forever, when I sharpen My flashing sword and My hand grasps it in judgment—I will take vengeance on My adversaries and repay those who hate Me!" Deuteronomy 32:41

God being the living God, is matter of great terror to those who hate Him—as it is of comfort to those who love and fear Him!

He is the living God, and if you fall into His hands—then you must be the eternal prisoner of His wrath! As long as God lives—you will be miserable, and damned and undone! He is the living God, and as long as He lives—so the sinner shall live under the weight of His wrath and vengeance. The unrepentant sinner will bear His wrath as long as He is the living God!

God lives forever, and therefore, the believer's Heaven shall be forever!
And because God lives forever—the sinner's Hell shall be forever!

The life of God is eternal, and therefore He can punish us eternally. So Christ says: "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into Hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him!" Luke 12:4-5

O! that you would seriously consider that God is a living God! Think of this when you are about to sin: "This sin is done in the sight of the living God! I must give an account of this sin before the living God!"

It would be an awakening thing if we would but let this thought dwell in our minds—that God is a living God, and that I must have to deal with this living God forever, either in Heaven or Hell! 

Nothing is so dreadful to a soul under wrath, as to consider that God lives forever. It is that which puts a terror into all those attributes of God which are engaged against the lost soul. The justice of God and the wrath of God are terrible—and the power of God is that which makes them so. God's wrath is made even more terrible, by its being eternal. It is His power that makes His justice terrible—and eternity that makes His power dreadful. The eternity of Hell, makes Hell more dreadful than His power; His power makes it sharp and painful—His life makes it everlasting—and everlastingness is the sharpest sting in Hell's misery!

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Are we Christians—or are we worldlings?

(Horatius Bonar, "Self-Denial Christianity")

"Woe to those who are at ease in Zion!" Amos 6:1

What do we say to . . .
  our self-indulgence,
  our spiritual sloth,
  our love of ease,
  our avoidance of hardship,
  our luxury,
  our pampering of the body,
  our costly feasts,
  our silken couches,
  our brilliant furniture,
  our gay attire,
  our expensive jewelry,
  our idle mirth,
  our voluptuous music,
  our jovial tables, loaded with every variety of rich viands?

Are we Christians—or are we worldlings?

Where is the self-denial of the New Testament days?

Where is the separation from a self-pleasing luxurious world? Where is the cross, the true badge of discipleship, to be seen—except in useless religious ornaments for the body, or worse than useless decorations for the sanctuary?

"Woe to those who are at ease in Zion!"
Is not this the description of multitudes who name the name of Christ? They may not be "living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry." But even where these are absent, there is 'high living'—luxury of the table or the wardrobe—in conformity to this present evil world.

"At ease in Zion!" Yes! there is the shrinking . . .
  from hard service;
  from spending and being spent;
  from toil and burden-bearing and conflict;
  from self-sacrifice and noble service;
for the Master's sake.

There is conformity to the world, instead of conformity to Christ!
There is a laying down of the cross, instead of a taking up of the cross.
Or there is a lining of the cross with velvet, lest it should gall our shoulders as we carry it!
Or there is an adorning of the cross, that it may suite the taste and the manners of our refined and intellectual age.

Anything but the bare, rugged and simple cross!

We think that we can make the strait gate wider, and the narrow way broader—so as to be able to walk more comfortably to the heavenly kingdom. We try to prove that modern enlightenment has so refined 'the world and its pleasures', that we may safely drink the poisoned cup, and give ourselves up to the inebriation of the siren song.

"At ease in Zion!" Even when the walls of our city are besieged, and the citadel is being stormed!

Instead of grasping our weapons, we lie down upon our couches!

Instead of the armor, we put on the silken robe!

We are cowards, when we should be brave!

We are faint-hearted, when we should be bold!

We are lukewarm, when we should be fervent!

We are cold, when we should be full of zeal!

We compromise and shuffle and make excuses—when we should lift up our voice like a trumpet! We pare down truth, or palliate error, or extenuate sin—in order to placate the world, or suit the spirit of the age, or 'unify' the Church.

Learn self-denying Christianity. Not the form or name, but the living thing.

Let us renounce the lazy, luxurious, self-pleasing, fashionable religion of the present day!

A self-indulgent religion has nothing in common with the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ; or with that cross of ours which He has commanded us to take up and carry after Him—renouncing ease and denying self.

Our time,
our abilities,
our money,
our strength—
are all to be laid upon the altar.

"Woe to those who are at ease in Zion!"
Amos 6:1

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We are not expected to like it—but we are told not to despise it

(J.R. Miller)

"My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord." Proverbs 3:11

The Bible always talks to us as children. Chastening comes with a Father's authority—and also a Father's gentleness.

Of course, it is not possible that we should really find pleasure in being chastened. That is not natural. Indeed the Bible says, "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful." Not even the grace of God in our hearts can take the sting out of chastening. We are not expected to like it—but we are told not to despise it. That is, we are to accept it without murmuring, without complaining, and submissively—as God's messenger to us, bringing a blessing.

It will help us to receive chastening meekly, in faith and love—if we remember that it is our heavenly Father who sends it. We know that He loves us with infinite affection. He does not take pleasure therefore in causing us pain, nor would He do it at all—were it not in some way for our good. It is because He loves us and would do us good—that He sends or permits the suffering.

We should never despise any instruction our Father gives us, however costly and painful it may be. He lets us suffer because He loves us—and would make our lives beautiful and holy.

We should be willing to endure any pain or trial, in order to have the likeness of Christ fashioned in our life.

"God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:10-11

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Could you be so selfish—and so cruel?

(G. Whyte, 1888)

"Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain!" Revelation 21:3-4

Would you call beloved departed believers back to earth again?

Would you wish them back—back from the presence of the Lamb?

Back from the sweets of glory—to the bitterness of time?

Back from those rivers of pure pleasure which flow at God's right hand—to the muddied streams in this valley of sorrow?

After they have reached the haven of rest—would you recall them to struggle again with the storms of life?

Could you be so selfish—and so cruel?

"They feast on the abundance of Your house! You give them drink from Your river of delights!" Psalm 36:8

"You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand!" Psalm 16:11

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You have saved the best until now!

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

"Everyone brings out the choice wine first . . . But you have saved the best until now!" John 2:10

The world gives its best first—and the worst comes afterwards!

It is so in all sinful pleasures: first exhilaration—and then bitter remorse.

It is so in the chase for wealth, power, and fame: gratification first—and then painful disappointment. At first money brings gladness—a sort of satisfaction. But as time rolls on and wealth increases—cares multiply, anxieties thicken, burdens grow heavier, and at last—the rich man finds that in all his riches, he has less satisfaction than he had in the days when he was just a poor boy!

It is so in all mere worldly ambitions: the first cups of fame are sweet—but soon they pall upon the taste.

This truth holds especially in the sinful life: we need not deny that at the beginning, sin is sweet—but bitterness is found at the bottom of the cup!

In grace, however, this is reversed—the good wine is kept to the last! Christ Himself first had humiliation, darkness, and the shame of the cross—and then exaltation, power, glory!

In the Christian life, the same law holds:
  First there comes bitterness—but out of the bitterness, sweetness flows.

  There is first the deep sorrow of penitence—but this gives way to the blessed joy of forgiveness.

  First comes self-denial and cross-bearing—but out of these experiences comes a holy peace which fills all the heart.

  Sorrows are to be endured—but the good wine of comfort is poured into the emptied cup.

There is also a constant progression in the blessings of the divine life. We never get to the end of them! Indeed, we never get to the best! There is always something better yet to come. Christ keeps the really best wine until the very last—in Heaven! As sweet as Christ's peace now is to the Christian—he will never know the fullness of the love of God, until he gets home to the Father's house!

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Our true, abiding home!

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

Heaven is now our true, abiding home.

While on earth we are strangers and pilgrims, far from our final rest. And while such is our condition here, should we not often think of our heavenly home? Should not Heaven attract us more and more as we journey through life?

Shall we still cleave to earth, since Christ has obtained eternal salvation for us, and passed into the heavens to prepare a way for our entrance into those unending joys in the presence of God?

Oh, let our best affections be placed on those spiritual and divine things above.

Let the noblest aspirations of our minds be after a more intimate knowledge of Jesus.

Let us look beyond this valley of tears and keep our eyes fixed on that better country . . .
  where the Savior ever reigns in glorious majesty;
  where the fountains of bliss ever flow;
  where the tree of life ever spreads its delightful shade, and yields its immortal fruits;
  where all is unending joy, and love, and peace and felicity!

Let our hearts be more and more disentangled from the cares and temptations of the present life.
Let us live in the world as those who are not of it; as those whose treasure is in Heaven, and whose hearts are there also.

The nearer a Christian comes to Heaven, the less he loves or esteems this present world.

May our affections rise heavenward, endeavoring to bring the realities of future, eternal things more vividly before our minds, and to realize our interest in them.

O my soul, rise above these earthly scenes; and, on the wings of faith, soar to the realms of the blessed, where Jesus is enthroned in unspeakable glory—reigning as my life, my hope, and my treasure!

"Blessed Jesus, we beseech You to show us Your glory, and to raise our hearts, our hopes, and our desires, to that blessed world to which You have ascended. O may our souls be daily rising, in holy thought, towards our home where the ransomed of the Lord shall forever obtain joy and gladness. May our thoughts become heavenly, and our hearts be attuned to those songs with which the arches of Heaven shall resound to all eternity! O my Savior, wean my heart from earth, and enable me to place my affection on things above!"

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Upon that short time, eternity depends!

(Jeremy Taylor)

"You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of the morning—though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered." Psalm 90:5-6

"The length of our days is seventy years—or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away." Psalm 90:10

God has given to man a short time here on earth—and yet upon that short time, eternity depends!

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

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Pilfering of another's time

Hannah More)

"Redeeming the time." Ephesians 5:16

Christians should especially be on their guard against a spirit of idleness, and a slovenly habitual wasting of time. We must guard against a habitual frivolousness at home; and an abundance of unprofitable small-talk, idle reading, inane drowsiness, and a dull frittering away of time.

We must seriously consider: what a large portion of life we have unwisely squandered; what days and nights we have wasted, if not sinfully—yet selfishly; if not loaded with evil—yet destitute of good. In the day of judgment, the thin disguise which our treacherous heart now casts over indolence and sloth, will then be torn off.

We are guilty of the strange inconsistency of being most wasteful of what we best love—and of throwing away what we most fear to lose—that TIME of which life is made up. It is not so much a lack of time—as a wasting of our time—which prevents life from answering all the ends for which God has given it to us. Few things make us so useful in the world, as the prudent use of our precious time.

We should not only be careful not to waste our own time—but that others do not rob us of it! The "stealing of our purse" is a serious wrong to us. But the "stealing of our time" should grieve us even more! Pilfering of another's time is a felony for which no restitution can be made—for time is not only invaluable, but irrecoverable!

Every particle of time is valuable. No day can be insignificant—when every day is to be accounted for. Each one possesses weight and importance. What a scene will open upon us, when, from our eternal state—we shall look back on the use we have made of time—when we shall take a clear retrospect of all we have done, and all we ought to have done!

"Almighty God, I adore Your infinite patience, which has not cut me off in the midst of my follies. Let me no longer abuse that precious treasure, time. Let me bid adieu to all those vain amusements, those trifling entertainments and sinful diversions—which have robbed me of many valuable hours. Let me no longer waste my time in ease and pleasure, in unprofitable studies and conversation; but grant, that by moderation and temperance in my enjoyments, I may be able to give a good account of it in the day of judgment, and be accepted in and through the merits of Jesus Christ, my only mediator and advocate. Amen."

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

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I have just been informed of the loss of your dear wife

(Letters of John Berridge)

Dear friend,
I have just been informed of the loss of your dear wife. She was mortal—but she has now become immortal! Should this cause you to grieve immoderately? O that I was where she is now!

"Safe landed on that peaceful shore,
 Where pilgrims meet to part no more."

She was once a mourning sinner in the wilderness—but is now a glorified saint in Zion! The Lord has become her "everlasting light, and the days of her mourning are ended!" She was once afflicted with bodily pains and weakness, encompassed with family cares, and harassed with a crowd of anxious, needless fears. She is now arrived at her Father's house! Jesus has wiped away all tears from her eyes, and freed her in a moment from pain, and care, and fear, and want! Shall this make you sorrow, as those who have no hope?

You have not left your wife—she has only left you for a little moment. She has left her husband on earth—to dwell with her glorious Father in Heaven. She expects your arrival there soon, to join her Hallelujahs for redeeming love.

And are you still weeping? Weeping because your wife can weep no more; weeping because she is happy—eternally, gloriously happy? Are you weeping because she is joined to the blessed assembly where all are kings and priests—weeping, because she is where you would be, and long to be eternally?

The Lord Jesus has called her home to His kingdom, to draw your soul more ardently thither! He has broken up a cistern—to bring you nearer, and keep you closer to the overflowing fountain of all felicity!

"Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst.
 The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat.
 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their Shepherd;
 He will lead them to springs of living water.
 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes!" Revelation 7:16-17

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The grand repository of truth!

(Letters of John Newton)

"Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good." 1 Thessalonians 5:21

The Bible is the grand repository of truth. It is the complete system of divine truth, to which nothing can be added, and from which nothing can be taken, with impunity. Every attempt to disguise or soften any branch of this truth, in order to accommodate it to the prevailing taste around us—either to avoid the displeasure, or to court the favor, of our fellow mortals—must be an affront to the majesty of God, and an act of treachery to men!

Many respectable writers and preachers consider certain things to be essential. But we have the Scripture in our hands, and are not bound to abide by the decisions of any man—any farther than as they agree with this standard.

An awakened mind that thirsts after the Savior, and seeks wisdom by reading and praying over the Scripture—has little necessity for a library of human writings. The Bible is the fountain from whence every stream that deserves our notice is drawn! We have personally an equal right with others to apply immediately to the fountain-head, and draw the water of life for ourselves.

The purest streams of human wisdom are not wholly freed from a taint of the soil through which they run. A mixture of human infirmity is inseparable from the best human composition; but in the fountain, the truth is unmixed!

"Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." Acts 17:11

"The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.
 The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
 The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart.
 The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
 The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever.
 The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.
 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold.
 They are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.
 By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward." Psalm 19:7-11

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The awesome, holy, glorious beauty of Christ!

(Charles Spurgeon)

Come here gracious souls, and behold the Man in the garden of Gethsemane.

Behold His heart so brimming with love that He cannot hold it in—so full of sorrow that it must find a vent.

Behold the Man as they drive the nails into His hands and feet.

Look up and see the sorrowful ravishing image of your suffering Lord.

If we would live right, it must be by the contemplation of His death.

If we would rise to dignity, it must be by considering His humiliation and His sorrow.

The sight of Christ's loveliness, and that alone—shows the soul its own ugliness.

The sense of the awesome, holy, glorious beauty of Christ kills pride and humbles the soul.

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

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There is no doctrine more hated by worldlings!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Divine Sovereignty" 1856)

"Our God is in Heaven; He does whatever pleases Him!" Psalm 115:3

There is no attribute of God more comforting to His children, than the doctrine of Divine Sovereignty.
Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe troubles—they believe . . .
  that Sovereignty has ordained their afflictions,
  that Sovereignty overrules them, and
  that Sovereignty will sanctify them all.

There is nothing for which the children of God ought more earnestly to contend, than . . .
  the dominion of their Master over all of His creation,
  the kingship of God over all the works of His own hands,
  the throne of God, and His right to sit upon that throne!

On the other hand, there is no doctrine more hated by worldlings, no truth of which they have made such a theological football to kick back and forth—as the great, stupendous, but yet most certain doctrine of the Sovereignty of the infinite Jehovah!

Men will allow God to be everywhere, except on His throne!

"The LORD does whatever pleases Him—in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths!" Psalm 135:6

"Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns!" Revelation 19:6

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Look unto Jesus in the Scriptures

(Theodore Monod, "Looking Unto Jesus!" 1874)
"Looking unto Jesus!" Hebrews 12:2
Only three words, but in these three words is the whole secret of spiritual life.
Look unto Jesus in the Scriptures, to learn there . . .
  who He is,
  what He has done,
  what He gives,
  what He desires.

Looking unto Jesus in the Scriptures, we find . . .
  in His character—our pattern;
  in His teachings—our instruction;
  in His precepts—our law;
  in His promises—our support;
  in His person and in His work—a full satisfaction provided for every need of our souls.

"You study the Scriptures thoroughly because you think in them you possess eternal life, and it is these same Scriptures that testify about Me!" John 5:39

Oh! the bitter pain and sorrow,
That a time could ever be,
When I proudly said to Jesus,
"All for self—and none for Thee!"

Yet He found me; I beheld Him,
Bleeding on the accursed tree;
And my wistful heart said faintly,
"Some for self—and some for Thee."

Day by day His tender mercy,
Healing, helping, full and free,
Brought me lower, while I whispered,
"Less for self—and more for Thee."

Higher than the highest heavens,
Deeper than the deepest sea;
Lord, Thy love at last has conquered,
"None for self—and all for Thee!"

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There is no sweeter pillow than providence!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Israel at the Red Sea")

How sweet is providence to a child of God, when he can reflect upon it!

He can look out into this world, and say, "However great my troubles, they are not so great as my Father's power. However difficult may be my circumstances, yet all things are working together for my good."

He who holds up yonder unpillared arch of the starry heavens—can also support my soul without a single apparent prop.

He who guides the stars in the well-ordered courses, even when they seem to move in hazy dances—surely He can overrule my trials in such a way that out of confusion He will bring order; and from seeming evil, produce lasting good.

He who bridles the storm, and puts the bit in the mouth of the tempest—surely He can restrain my trial, and keep my sorrows in subjection.

I need not fear . . .
  while the lightnings are in His hands,
  and the thunders sleep within His lips;
  while the oceans gurgle from His fist,
  and the clouds are in the hollow of His hands;
  while the rivers are turned by His foot,
  and while He digs the channels of the sea.

Surely, He whose might gives wings to the angels, can furnish a worm with strength.
Surely, He who guides a cherub, will not be overcome by the trials of a speck like myself.

He who makes the most ponderous orb roll in dignity, and keeps its predestined orbit—can make a little atom like myself move in my proper course, and conduct me as He pleases.

Christian! there is no sweeter pillow than providence! And when providence seems adverse, believe it still, and lay it under your head. For depend upon it—there is comfort in its bosom.

There is hope for you, child of God! The great trouble which is to come in your way in your pilgrimage, is planned by divine love—the same love which shall interpose as your protector.

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At the cross!

(Charles Spurgeon)

The cross, that deepest revelation of the glory of God—is the great weapon which breaks down the heart's defenses! It is especially the love of Jesus  shown in the cross, which turns and transforms the hearts of sinners.

In the horrifying torture and crucifixion of Jesus, we see the highest proof of the highest love. His bleeding, makes our hearts bleed. His shame, makes us ashamed. In the cross we see the divine disgust at sin, which makes sin appalling in our eyes as well. But further, through the cross we see a love so unfathomable, that it pierces our apathy and overwhelms our desires for earthly trinkets.

At the cross . . .
  our pride and sinfulness are mortified,
  our self-deifying efforts are destroyed,
  our wandering hearts are exposed,
  the beauty of Christ in His humility and holiness are held before us,
  and the glory of God shines brightest in all its transforming power.

The atoning work of Jesus is the great gun of our battery. The cross is the mighty battering-ram with which to break in pieces the bronze gates of human prejudices and the iron bars of sinful obstinacy!

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The most excellent study for expanding the soul!

(Charles Spurgeon, "The Immutability of God!")

The proper study of God's elect, is God. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God—is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father! There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast—that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep—that our pride is drowned in its infinity!

Other subjects we can compass and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-contentment, and go our way with the thought, "Behold I am wise!" But when we come to this master-science, finding that our plumb-line cannot sound its depth, and that our eagle eye cannot see its height—we turn away with the thought that vain man would be wise, but he is like a wild donkey's colt; and with the solemn exclamation, "I am but of yesterday, and know nothing!" No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God.

The most excellent study for expanding the soul, is the science of Christ, and Him crucified—and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity. Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing will so magnify the whole soul of man—as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity. While humbling and expanding, this subject is eminently consolatory.

Oh, there is in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound!
In musing on the Father, there is a quietus for every grief.
In the influence of the Holy Spirit, there is a balsam for every sore.

Would you lose your sorrows?
Would you drown your cares?
Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead's deepest sea!
Be lost in His immensity—and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated.

I know nothing which can . . .
  so comfort the soul;
  so calm the swelling billows of grief and sorrow;
  so speak peace to the winds of trial—
as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead!

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He does whatever pleases Him!

(The sermons of Matthew Mead, 1629-1699)

"I know that the LORD is great, that our Lord is greater than all gods. 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 135:5-7

Every creature is God's subject, and even the devils themselves are at His beck.

It is so with the most inanimate beings. God bids the winds be silent and the seas be still—and how readily they obey His voice!

If God calls for a famine on a sinning nation—then how suddenly does the earth become iron and the heavens brass!

Flies and lice shall infest thrones and kingdoms, if armed with a commission from Almighty God. "All are Your servants!" Psalm 119:91

What the centurion said of his soldiers and servants—is much more true of God:
"I say to this one, 'Go,' and he goes;
 and to another, 'Come,' and he comes; and
 to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it." Matthew 8:9

God has a power and dominion over all of His creatures, and a sovereign right to dispose of them at His own pleasure.

Sometimes He governs things according to the course of second causes. Sometimes He governs them in an extraordinary way—above or beyond nature. As when He made, "the sun to stand still in Gibeon, and the moon in the valley of Aijalon." Joshua 10:12

At the word of God, the sea divides for Israel to pass over on dry land.

He makes the earth open to swallow up Korah and his companions.

He shuts the mouth of hungry lions! Daniel 6:22

He commands the fiery furnace not to burn! Daniel 3:25

The angels, those inhabitants of the glorious world—do His commandments, hearkening to the voice of His word.

All the creatures in Heaven and earth are controlled by His sovereign power! Psalm 135:6 says, "Whatever the Lord pleased, that he did in the Heaven and earth, in the sea and all deep places."

It is so with all sicknesses, trials, and diseases. Matthew 8:8

God's sovereign will and power governs all.

No creature can evade the power of His dominion, for all are at His command!

"Our God is in Heaven; He does whatever pleases Him!" Psalm 115:3

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Suppose I have fallen into some great sin—what then?

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Ah!" says one, "Suppose I have fallen into some great sin—what then?"

Why then, that is all the more reason why you should cast yourself upon Him.

Do you think Jesus Christ is only for little sinners?

Is He a doctor who only heals finger-aches?

Beloved, it is not faith to trust Christ when I have no sin—but it is true faith to trust Him when I am foul, and black, and filthy!

"The blood of Jesus, God's Son, cleanses us from all sin!" 1 John 1:7

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It is but a little sin!

(Thomas Brooks, "Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices!")

"So that Satan will not outsmart us—for we are familiar with his evil schemes." 2 Corinthians 2:11

"Ah!" says Satan, "It is but a little sin—a little pride, a little worldliness, a little lust, etc. You may commit it without any danger to your soul. It is but a little one; you may commit it, and yet your soul shall live."

Consider, that there is great danger, yes, many times most danger—in the smallest sins.
"A little leaven leavens the whole lump!" 1 Corinthians 5:6
If the serpent sneaks in his head—he will draw in his whole body after him.

Greater sins sooner startle the soul, and awaken and rouse up the soul to repentance, than lesser sins do. Little sins often slide into the soul, and breed, and work secretly and indiscernibly in the soul, until they come to be so strong, as to trample upon the soul, and to cut the throat of the soul!

Many are eternally undone by the 'little sins', as they call them, that are nourished in their own bosoms.

A little hole in the ship, sinks it.

A small breach in a dyke, carries away all before it.

A little stab at the heart, kills a man.

A little sin, without a great deal of mercy, will damn a man!

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The richest pearl of all the promises!

(Octavius Winslow, "Christ is Ever With You!" 1863)

"Lo, I am with you always—even unto the end of the world!" Matthew 28:20

Whose presence is thus promised and pledged?

It is the presence of Christ! The Christ who is God. "Immanuel, God with us!"

The Christ who . . .
  made all worlds,
  created all beings,
  governs all empires,
  and controls all events!

The Christ who replenishes . . .
  earth with beauty,
  Heaven with glory,
  eternity with song!

The Christ before whom angels and archangels, principalities and powers bend—and at whose name every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that He is Lord!

The Christ . . .
  whose glory is divine,
  whose beauty is peerless,
  whose wealth is boundless,
  whose love is as infinite as His being!

The Christ who . . .
  bore and put away your sins forever,
  removed and forever canceled your curse,
  paid all your great debt to Divine justice,
  sorrowed for you in the garden,
  suffered and expired in your stead on the cross,
  rose from the grave, ascended up to Heaven, lives and intercedes for you, representing your person and presenting your prayers and praises with ineffable acceptance and delight—to His Father and your Father, to His God and your God.

"Lo, I am with you always! Mark! Behold! I the Incarnate God, I who opened my bleeding heart for your redemption on Calvary, I who am your dearest Friend—I am with you always, in all places, and at all times, unto the end of the world!"

O honored saint of God! You have . . . 
  the Divinest in the universe to love you,
  the Mightiest in the universe to shield you,
  the Loveliest in the universe to delight you,
  the Dearest in the universe to soothe, cheer, and gladden you!
O favored disciple of Jesus—you have such a One ever at your side!

This is the promise of promisesthe richest pearl of all the promises, exceeding in its mightiness and preciousness; while it is the substance, sweetness, and pledge of all the rest!

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(John Calvin on Divine Providence)

"In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will." Ephesians 1:11

God sustains, nourishes, and cares for everything He has made, even to the least sparrow. (Matthew 10:29)

God's providence, as it is taught in Scripture, is opposed to fortune and chance. There is no such thing as fortune or chance—these are pagan terms, with which the minds of the godly ought not to be occupied.

All events are governed by God's secret plan!

They babble and talk absurdly who, in the place of God's providence, substitute bare permission—as if God sat in a watchtower awaiting chance events, and His judgments thus depended upon human will.

It is certain that not one drop of rain falls without God's sure command.

Nothing, including human suffering, happens by chance.

God so regulates all things, that nothing happens but what He has knowingly and willingly decreed.

Each year, month, and day is governed by a new, a special, providence of God!

No creature has a force more wondrous or glorious than that of the sun. The sun does not daily rise and set by blind instinct of nature—but God Himself, to renew our remembrance of His fatherly favors toward us, governs its course.

In times of adversity, believers comfort themselves with the solace that they suffer nothing except by God's ordaining and command, for they are under His all-controlling hand.

You may want to read the "1689 Baptist Confession of Faith" on the subject of Divine Providence. (one page)

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Short quotes from the Puritan Thomas Manton

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The more affected we are with our sinful misery—the fitter we are for Christ's marvelous mercy.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

God has a bottle for all the tears of His people—and a book wherein He records all their sorrows!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

If Christ shall be precious to you—then you must be vile in your own eyes!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

It is easy for Him who made all things out of nothing to help His redeemed children.
The Almighty Creator, ruler, and governor of the world—what can He not do?

   ~  ~  ~  ~

A man's greatest care should be for that place where He dwells longest; therefore eternity should be in his scope!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

By the same divine power by which Christ made all things—He preserves and sustains all things.
All creatures owe their continuance and preservation to Him.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Hell and damnation are no vain scarecrows!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

It is a hard matter to enjoy the world, without being entangled with its cares and pleasures!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

A man who is satisfied with his own righteousness, does not prize Christ.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Sin is sweet in commission, but bitter in its wages.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Excess in food and drink clouds the mind, chokes good affections, and provokes lust. Many a man digs his own grave with his teeth! "Put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony!" Proverbs 23:2

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Christ does not save us because we are holy—but that we may be holy!