Grace Gems for January, 2019

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A New Year's Resolution

(Matthew Henry)

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

Firmly believing that my times are in God's hand, I here submit myself and all my affairs for the ensuing year, to the wise and gracious disposal of God's divine providence. Whether God appoints for me . . . .
  health or sickness,
  peace or trouble,
  comforts or crosses,
  life or death—
may His holy will be done!
All my time, strength, and service, I devote to the honor of the Lord Jesus—and even my common actions. It is my earnest expectation, hope, and desire, my constant aim and endeavor—that Jesus Christ may be magnified in me.

In everything I have to do—my entire dependence is upon Jesus Christ for strength. And whatever I do in word or deed, I desire to do all in His name, to make Him my Alpha and Omega. I have all from Him—and I would use all for Him.

If this should prove a year of affliction, a sorrowful year to me—I will fetch all my supports and comforts from the Lord Jesus and stay myself upon Him, His everlasting consolations, and the good hope I have in Him through grace.

And if it should be my dying year—then my times are in the hand of the Lord Jesus. And with a humble reliance upon His mediation, I would venture into the eternal world looking for the blessed hope. Dying as well as living—Jesus Christ will, I trust, be gain and advantage to me.

Oh, that the grace of God may be sufficient for me, to keep me always a humble sense of my own unworthiness, weakness, folly, and infirmity—together with a humble dependence upon the Lord Jesus Christ for both righteousness and strength.

"Remember that your life is short, your duties are many, your assistance is great, and your reward is sure. Therefore faint not, persevere in ways of holiness—and Heaven shall make amends for all!" Thomas Brooks

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Not our home!

(David Harsha, "Immanuel's Land")

"For this world is not our home; we are looking forward to our city in Heaven, which is yet to come!" Hebrews 13:14

We are strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

This present world is not our home. We are coming up from the wilderness with our faces Zionward; we are traveling to the Celestial City!

Our path is rough, but the Savior sustains us.

Our pilgrimage lies through a wilderness, but faith cheers us with a view of the glorious rest of the redeemed in our Father's house, in mansions of blessedness!

Let this consideration animate us amid the conflicts of life. In a little while we shall obtain a joyous entrance into the glorious rest above. The storms of life's ocean will soon carry us into the haven of peace, where there is no trouble.

The language of inspiration is, "Get up, go away! For this is not your resting place, because it is defiled, it is ruined beyond all remedy!" Micah 2:10

Your Savior, pilgrim Christian, has prepared for you a nobler rest than this polluted world!

In His Father's house are many spacious mansions, where your happy spirit, after tasting the bitter cup of life's sorrow, shall rest in eternal blessedness!

"We would rather be absent from the body, and at home with the Lord!" 2 Corinthians 5:8

"For this world is not our home; we are looking forward to our city in Heaven, which is yet to come!" Hebrews 13:14

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Our afflictions are light!

(Arthur Pink)

Our afflictions are light, when compared with what we really deserve.

They are light, when compared with the sufferings of the Lord Jesus.

But perhaps their real lightness is best seen, by comparing them with the eternal glory which is awaiting us!

"For our light and momentary afflictions are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all! So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal!" 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

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The more I see of Jesus

(Mary Winslow)

"My ears had heard of You, but now my eyes have seen You! Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes." Job 42:5-6

The more I see of Jesus, the more He opens to me His loving heart—the deeper is my sorrow for sin. I lie down in the dust at His feet closer than ever I did before. I can truly say I abhor myself in dust and ashes before Him. My heart seems ready to melt into contrition in view of the ten thousand thousand sins, willful and aggravating—that I have committed against Him who loved me with an everlasting love, and with loving kindness drew me to Himself.

So eternal and deep, so sovereign and boundless is the love of Jesus, that angels cannot fathom it! He is nothing but sincere, constant, and unabating love—to the weakest, the most unworthy of all His little flock.

I feel such a weariness of this world that nothing here gives me anything more than a momentary, passing pleasure—and it is gone at a glance.

Oh, to have such a Friend as Jesus, who feels all our sorrows, carries all our burdens, and has promised to bring us safely through this trying world, and place us at last at His own right hand, where neither sickness nor sorrow shall ever come!

Oh for Heaven! Nothing else will satisfy my longing soul, but the sight of Him it loves.

Jesus is all in all to me, and He will be all in all through eternity!

Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name!

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There are 'Jebusites' in every Christian heart!

(J. R. Miller, "Miller's Year Book—a Year's Daily Readings")

"The king and his men marched to Jerusalem, to fight against the Jebusites who inhabited the land." 2 Samuel 5:6

The Jebusites still held a stronghold in the heart of the country, never having been dislodged. Just so, there are 'Jebusites' in every Christian heart!

In every heart, there are little 'Jebusite strongholds', which it seems impossible for us to conquer. Sometimes it is a secret sin which lives on, unconquered, amid the general holiness of a life. Sometimes it is a remnant of the old nature—such as pride, worldliness, selfishness, lust, or bitterness. There are many other such citadels of evil, which rear their proud towers and defy conquest.

"We all have our faults!" we say, and under this cloak we manage to tuck away a large number of dear idols that we do not want to give up!

We ought to give attention to these unsubdued parts of our life—that every thought, feeling, and temper may be brought into subjection to Christ. It is perilous to leave even one such unconquered stronghold in our heart!

"If your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of Hell!" Matthew 18:9

"For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the evil deeds of the body, you will live." Romans 8:13

"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived." Colossians 3:5-7

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Christ's sympathy!

(Octavius Winslow, "The Tears of Christ")

"Jesus wept!"
John 11:35

The Creator of all worlds, the Author of all beings, the Upholder of the universe—raining tears of human woe and sympathy upon a grave!

Oh, there lives not a being in the universe who can enter into our bereavements with the sympathy, the support, and the soothing of Christ!

They were tears of sympathy. His heart was touched, deeply touched, with sympathy for the sorrow of others. He wept because the mourning sisters wept. He mingled His tears with theirs.

This is true sympathy, "weeping with those who weep," making their sorrow our own. How really our Lord does this with His people. So completely is He our Surety—that He takes our sins and infirmities, our trials and sorrows upon Himself, as if they were all and entirely His own. Our sins were so completely laid upon Him—that not one remains charged to the account of those who believe in Jesus.

Our present griefs are so entirely absorbed in Him, that,
  softened by His love,
  soothed by His sympathy,
  supported by His grace—
the trial is welcome,
the affliction is sweet, and
the rod of a Father's chastening, buds and blossoms into delectable fruit.

Bereaved mourner, the sympathy of Christ is yours! The same Savior who wept at the grave of Bethany, now shares your grief. Do not imagine that your sorrow is isolated, or that your tears are forbidden or unseen. You have a merciful and faithful High Priest who is touched with your present calamity.

There exists no sympathy . . . 
  so real,
  so perceptive,
  so deep,
  so tender,
  so sanctifying—
as Christ's sympathy.

If your heavenly Father has seen it wise and good to remove from you the spring of human pity—it is but that He may draw you closer beneath the wing of Jesus' compassion, presence and love.

O child of sorrow, will not this suffice, that you possess Christ's sympathy—as immeasurable and exhaustless as the ocean—as exquisite and changeless as His being! Yield your heart to His rich compassion!

Will Jesus be regardless of what I feel, and the sorrows under which I groan? Oh no! The sigh that bursts in secret from my heart is not secret to Him; the tear that is my food day and night and drops unperceived and unknown—is known and remembered by Him!

"Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses!" Hebrews 4:14-15

"You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book."
Psalm 56:8

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The most unpopular, hated and feared teaching in the entire Bible!

(Brian Schwertley, "The Biblical Doctrine of Hell Examined")

"The rich man also died and was buried. In Hell, where he was in torment . . ." Luke 16:22-23
The doctrine of eternal punishment is probably the most unpopular, hated and feared teaching in the entire Bible. The thought of people burning in Hell for eternity is most repugnant to the human mind.

Yet in spite of the terrifying nature of the doctrine, and in spite of the fact that people find the idea of everlasting torment revolting, the strongest support of the doctrine comes from the lips of Jesus Christ. Think of it: the most terrifying imagery and detailed descriptions of Hell are found in the discourses of the Redeemer! Jesus continually warned men and women of the danger of going to Hell. Jesus Christ, who foretold that He would come again to judge the entire human race, spoke more about Hell and its terrors than all the prophets and apostles combined. To ignore and disregard the clear teaching of Jesus, is to deny Christ.

The Bible sets before us many differing aspects of the torments in Hell as a warning. The torments of Hell help us to understand how much God hates sin. Oh what dreadful torments await those who die without Christ!

"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in Hell." Matthew 10:28

"They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth!" Matthew 13:42

"Then He will say to those on His left: Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels!" Matthew 25:41

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Let us beware of the love of money!

(J.C. Ryle)

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21

"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God!" Mark 10:25

"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." 1 Timothy 6:10

Let us beware of the love of money! It is possible to use money well, and do good with it. But for each one who makes a right use of money, there are thousands who make a wrong use of it, and do harm both to themselves and others.

Let the worldly man, if he will, make an idol of money, and count him happiest who has most of it.

But let the Christian, who professes to have "treasure in Heaven," set his face like a flint against the spirit of the world in this matter. Let him not worship gold. He is not the best man in God's eyes who has most money, but he who has most grace and likeness to Jesus.

"Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread." Proverbs 30:8

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said: Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." Hebrews 13:5

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Let us beware of the love of money!

(J.C. Ryle)

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21

"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God!" Mark 10:25

"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." 1 Timothy 6:10

Let us beware of the love of money! It is possible to use money well, and do good with it. But for each one who makes a right use of money, there are thousands who make a wrong use of it, and do harm both to themselves and others.

Let the worldly man, if he will, make an idol of money, and count him happiest who has most of it.

But let the Christian, who professes to have "treasure in Heaven," set his face like a flint against the spirit of the world in this matter. Let him not worship gold. He is not the best man in God's eyes who has most money, but he who has most grace and likeness to Jesus.

"Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread." Proverbs 30:8

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said: Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." Hebrews 13:5

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The best way to spend your leisure time

(Charles Spurgeon, "Paul, His Cloak and His Books"

"Give yourself unto reading!" 1 Timothy 4:13

The man who never reads, will never be read; he who never quotes, will never be quoted.

He who will not use the thoughts of other men's brains, proves that he has no brains of his own.

You need to read!

We are quite persuaded that the very best way for you to be spending your leisure time, is to be either reading or praying.

You may get much instruction from books which afterwards you may use as a true weapon in your Lord and Master's service.

Paul cries, "Bring the books!" Join in the cry.

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The best way to spend your leisure time

(Charles Spurgeon, "Paul, His Cloak and His Books"

"Give yourself unto reading!" 1 Timothy 4:13

The man who never reads, will never be read; he who never quotes, will never be quoted.

He who will not use the thoughts of other men's brains, proves that he has no brains of his own.

You need to read!

We are quite persuaded that the very best way for you to be spending your leisure time, is to be either reading or praying.

You may get much instruction from books which afterwards you may use as a true weapon in your Lord and Master's service.

Paul cries, "Bring the books!" Join in the cry.

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The Christian and Prayer

(Charles Spurgeon)

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If any of you should ask me for the epitome of the Christian life, I would say that it is in one word—prayer.

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The habit of private prayer, and the constant practice of heart-communion with God—are the surest indicators of the work of the Holy spirit upon the soul.

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The more a man loves God and becomes more like Jesus—the more delight he takes in heart communion with God.

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All of our libraries and our studies are mere emptiness, compared with our prayer closets.

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We grow in Christlikeness, in private prayer.

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Prayer is the true gauge of spiritual health.

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I have now concentrated all my prayers into one—and that one prayer is this: that I may die to self, and live wholly to Him.

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He who has the key of prayer can open Heaven! Yes, he has access to the heart of God!

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Nothing brings such leanness into a Christian's soul, as lack of prayer.

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A prayerless soul, is a Christless soul. Prayer is . . .
  the lisping of the believing infant,
  the shout of the fighting believer,
  the requiem of the dying saint falling asleep in Jesus.

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A Christian's vigor, happiness, growth and usefulness—all depend upon prayer.

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Prayer is the autograph of the Holy Spirit upon the renewed heart.
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Prayer is the indispensable mark of the true child of God.

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I would rather teach one man to pray—than ten men to preach!

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Nine times out of ten, spiritual declension from God begins in the neglect of private prayer.

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Prayer with the heart, is the heart of prayer.

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The masses demand that which will soothe them in their sins and amuse them while they journey down the Broad Road!

(Arthur Pink,

"In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of His appearing and His kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths!" 2 Timothy 4:1-4

That time has arrived! Church-goers today will not endure sound doctrine. Those who . . .
  preach the total depravity of man,
  insist upon the imperative necessity of the new birth,
  set forth the inflexible righteousness and holiness of God, and
  warn against the eternal and conscious torment awaiting every rejecter of Christ,
find it almost impossible to obtain a hearing. Such preachers are regarded as puritanic pessimists, and are not wanted.

In these degenerate times, the masses demand that which will soothe them in their sins and amuse them while they journey down the Broad Road! The multitude is affected with itching ears which crave novelty and that which is sensational. They have ears which wish to be tickled, ears which eagerly drink in the songs of professional and unsaved soloists and choristers, ears which are well pleased with the vulgar slang of our modern evangelists!

The things which are now done in so many churches—the socials, the fund-raisers, the bazaars, the concerts, the moving picture shows and other forms of entertainment—what are these but idolatrous commercialization of these houses of prayer! No wonder that such places are devoid of spirituality and strangers to the power of God. The Lord will not tolerate an unholy mixture of worldly things with spiritual.

"Get these things out of here! Stop turning My Father's house into a marketplace!" John 2:16

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A clean path to Hell!

(Charles Spurgeon)

Unbelief will destroy the best of us!

Faith will save the worst of us!

There is a clean path to Hell—as well as a dirty one.

You will be lost if you trust to your good works—as surely as if you trusted in your sins.

There is a road to perdition along the 'highway of morality'—as surely as down the 'slough of vice'!

"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us!" Titus 3:5

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Salvation from Hell—or from sin?

(Charles Spurgeon)

"You shall call His name Jesus—for He will save His people from their sins." Matthew 1:21

The mere professor loves a salvation from Hell.

The true Christian loves a salvation from sin.

Everyone desires to be saved from the bottomless pit—but only a child of God pants to be saved from every false way. We love the Gospel because it saves us . . .
  from selfishness,
  from pride,
  from lust,
  from worldliness,
  from bitterness,
  from malice,
  and from sloth.

"Because I consider all Your precepts to be right, I hate every wrong path." Psalm 119:128

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Who makes you different from anyone else?

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Who makes you different from anyone else?
 What do you have, that you did not receive?
 And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?" 1 Corinthians 4:7

It is grace—free sovereign grace, which has made you to differ!

Should any here, supposing themselves to be the children of God, imagine that there is some reason "in them" why they should have been chosen—let them know that as yet they are in the dark concerning the first principles of grace, and have not yet learned the gospel.

If ever they had known the gospel, they would, on the other hand, confess that they were . . .
  the off-scouring of all things,
  and Hell-deserving!

They would ascribe it all to distinguishing grace, which has made them to differ; and to discriminating love, which has chosen them out from the rest of the world.

Great Christian, you would have been a heinous sinner—if God had not made you to differ!

O! you who are valiant for truth, you would have been as valiant for the devil—if sovereign grace had not laid hold of you!

A seat in Heaven shall one day be yours, but a chain in Hell would have been yours—if grace had not changed you!

You can now sing His love; but a licentious song would have been on your lips—if grace had not washed you in the blood of Jesus!

You are now sanctified, you are quickened, you are justified; but what would you have been today—if it had not been for the interposition of the divine hand?

There is not a crime you might not have committed—there is not a folly into which you might not have run.  Even murder itself you might have committed—if grace had not preserved you.

You shall be like the angels; but you would have been like the devil—if you had not been changed by grace!

Therefore never be proud, though you now have a wide domain of grace.
Once you had not a single thing to call your own—except your sin and misery.

You are now wrapped up in the golden righteousness of the Savior, and accepted in the garments of the Beloved! But you would have been buried under the black mountain of sin, and clothed with the filthy rags of unrighteousness, if He had not changed you!

And are you proud?

Do you exalt yourself?

O! strange mystery, that you who have nothing but sin and misery, should exalt yourself!
That you, a poor dependent pensioner upon the bounty of your Savior, should be proud!

Go, hang your pride upon the gallows as high as Haman! Hang it there to rot, and execrate it to all eternity!

Surely of all things most to be despised—is the pride of a Christian. He, of all men, has ten thousand times more reason than any other to be humble, and walk lowly with his God, and kindly and meekly toward his fellow-creatures.

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

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Chance, accident, luck—or Divine Providence!

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid—you are worth more than many sparrows!" Matthew 10:29-31

Charles Spurgeon: "Blessed is that man who is done with chance, who never speaks of luck—but believes that from the least, even to the greatest, all things are ordained by the Lord. We dare not leave out the least event! The creeping of an aphid upon a rosebud is as surely arranged by the decree of Providence—as the march of a pestilence through a nation! Believe this, for if the least thing is omitted from the supreme government, so may the next be, and the next—until nothing is left in the divine hands. There is no place for chance, since God fills all things."

J.C. Ryle: "There is no such thing as chance, luck or accident in the Christian journey through this world. All is arranged and appointed by God. And all things are working together for the believer's good!"

Charles Spurgeon: "God's Providence not only extends to mankind in general, and to the beasts of the field, and the birds of the air, and the innumerable fish in the sea—but also to every atom of matter in the universe!"

Charles Spurgeon: "All things are ordained of God and are settled by Him, according to His wise and holy predestination. Whatever happens here on earth—happens not by chance, but according to the counsel of the Most High!"

Matthew Henry: "God who feeds the sparrows—will not starve His saints! God controls all the concerns of His people, even of those that are most minute, and least regarded. This is an encouragement to live in a continual dependence upon God's providential care! If God numbers our hairs, much more does He number our heads. He takes care of our lives, our needs, our concerns, and our souls. God's universal providence extends itself to all creatures, and to all their actions—even the smallest and most minute!"

Charles Spurgeon: "Providence may be seen as the finger of God, not merely in those events which shake nations and are duly emblazoned on the page of history—but in little incidents of common life. Yes, in the motion of a grain of dust, the trembling of a dew-drop, the flight of a swallow, or the movements of a fish!"

Charles Spurgeon: "We talk of God's providence when we have hairbreadth escapes. But are they not quite as much divine providences, when we are preserved from danger?"

Charles Spurgeon: "It is most important for us to learn that the smallest trifles are as much arranged by the God of Providence—as the most momentous events! He who counts the stars—has also numbered the hairs of our heads. Our lives and deaths are predestined—but so, also, are our sitting down and our rising up."

Louis Berkhof: "Scripture everywhere teaches that even the minutest details of life are of divine ordering!"

Charles Spurgeon: "Jesus rules the whole world for the good of His people. All the arrangements of Providence are under His control. Nothing is done in the entire universe, without His command or His permission."

Charles Spurgeon: "The best remedy for affliction, is sweet submission to God's providence. What can't be cured, must be endured!"

J.C. Ryle: "If God has given His Son to die for us—let us beware of doubting His kindness and love in any painful providence of our daily life."

Charles Spurgeon: "Divine Providence is a downy pillow for an aching head—and a blessed salve for the sharpest pain. He who can feel that his times are in the hand of God—need not tremble at anything that is in the hand of man!"

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The world's pleasures are often curses in disguise!

(John MacDuff, "Ripples in the Twilight" 1885)

"Jabez called on the God of Israel saying: 'Oh, that You would bless me indeed!'
So God granted him what he requested." 1 Chronicles 4:10 

There is much apparent good not worth calling by the name. What the world speaks of as blessings are, some of them, often worthless; and many of them are undoubtedly evil and detrimental. They are counterfeits—they do not bear upon them the coinage and currency of Heaven. Satan has disguised them—stamped them as true metal—while they are base alloy!

Let us leave our blessings, and the method of their bestowal, with the Giver of every good and perfect gift—into His hand committing our earthly all, with this prayer of intense fervor yet of simple faith, "Oh that You would bless me indeed!" I want nothing which the world calls a blessing, unless You think it proper for me. I want no shadows—no baubles. I do not ask for riches—they may be a snare to me. I do not ask for . . .
  the cup running over,
  the barns full,
  the fig-tree blossoming,
  the home-nest without the thorn.
These might alienate me from Yourself, and bind me only closer to earth!

I want blessings indeed. God, I am no judge of this. Whatever YOU give, will be a true blessing to me. And even if You take it away—I will strive to believe that the dark and painful dealing, is Your kindness to me also.

Yes, we repeat, the world's pleasures are often curses in disguise—like Cleopatra's viper, which was hidden in a basket of flowers. There is often . . .
  an adder lurking in the bed of roses,
  a fly in the ointment,
  poison in the wine-cup!

But the blessings of God are blessings bearing His own divine seal and signature. They may come . . .
  in frowning providences,
  in baffling dispensations,
  in strokes of the chastening rod.
For the present they may seem not joyous, but grievous. But I am content to be in His hands—joyful or sorrowful, in health or in sickness, living or dying. O my Father, give Your own blessing, and I shall bow my heart in submission; for I can only hear in it accents of paternal love!

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My Father's home!

(James Smith, "The Better Land")

"Do not be troubled. There are many rooms in my Father's home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with Me where I am!" John 14:1-3

How familiar with Heaven—how well acquainted with that "better land" must Jesus be! He calls it "My Father's home!" Sweet view of our eternal residence!

Dying is but 'going home!' Going home to our Father! Going to our Father's home!

And shall we fear this? Fear it! Can we do anything other than eagerly desire it? Do we not wish to go home and see our Father? We shall not be strangers there—so many of our Christian friends have gone home before us. And even if some of our loved ones are not there—we could not possibly feel unhappy where JESUS is!

"I am leaving the world," said Jesus, "and am going to My Father!" Such should be our language in the prospect of death. O that, with child-like simplicity, we could receive into our minds the testimony of God's Word! O that we could view death and Heaven—just as the Scriptures represent them! Where would our doubts and fears be then? What would become of our reluctance to leave the world then? Then, if we spoke of departed Christian loved ones—we would use similar language to that of Judah in reference to his younger brother Benjamin, "He is this day with our Father!" We would no longer talk of losing friends or relatives. Oh no! we should speak of them as being in our Father's home, or of being with our Father!

My soul, I charge you in future to look to Heaven, simply as your Father's home!

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal!" 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

    ~  ~  ~  ~

Who knows the power of God's anger?

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

God always acts like Himself—like a God. When He shows mercy—it is like the God of all grace who is rich in mercy and loves with a great love.

In the same way, when He executes wrath and vengeance—He makes bare His arm and strikes like a God!

"Who knows the power of God's anger?"
Psalm 90:11

None but the damned!

"If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left—but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God!" Hebrews 10:26-27.

It is a terrifying a thing to fall into the hands of the living God, when He acts like a God of vengeance! How dreadful a thing then would it be to be in Hell itself—under the tortures of His executed wrath forever?

A stone thrown from a weak arm will not hit very hard—but when the hand and arm of God shall throw down that wrath from Heaven which is now only threatened against ungodly men, and turn them into Hell—how will it sink them deep into Hell!

I cannot go any further without pleading with you. Do you need anything more to dissuade you from going on in sin, which is the way to damnation—than the thought of damnation, and such a damnation, which is the wages of sin? For your soul's sake, hear and fear!

What! Will you be damned?
Can you think calmly of going to Hell?
Have you no pity on your precious soul?

If you were to go from reading of Hell—into Hell—you would surely say, "I would not believe it—but now I feel it!"

"It is Mine to avenge—I will repay! It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God!" Hebrews 10:30-31

    ~  ~  ~  ~

The sovereignty of God

(Arthur Pink)

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

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

"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

The sovereignty of God may be defined as the exercise of His supremacy. Being infinitely elevated above the highest creature—He is the Most High, Lord of Heaven and earth. Subject to none, influenced by none—He is absolutely independent. God does . . .
  as He pleases,
  only as He pleases,
  and always as He pleases.
None can thwart Him, none can hinder Him.

Sovereignty characterizes the whole being of God. He is sovereign in all of His attributes.

Divine sovereignty is not the sovereignty of a tyrannical despot—but the exercised pleasure of One who is infinitely wise and good!

Because God is infinitely wise—He cannot err.
Because He is infinitely righteous—He will not do wrong.

Here then is the preciousness of this truth. The mere fact itself that God's will is irresistible and irreversible, fills me with fear—but once I realize that God wills only that which is good for His redeemed people, my heart is made to rejoice.

    ~  ~  ~  ~

He who trifles with it is a fool!

(J.A. James, "The Practical Believer Delineated")

"Show me, O LORD, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life!" Psalm 39:4

If the man who trembles at death is a coward—then he who trifles with it is a fool!
There is a thousand times more rationality in the trembler—than in the trifler!

There is a phenomenon in the rational world well worthy of consideration, inquiry and solution—the strange and fatal insensibility of men to the grand fact that they are mortal! Since it is infallibly certain that they must and will die, and since death is so solemn an event—how does it happen that so few ever seriously think of it or really prepare for it?

One would think that so grand and solemn a fact as death, especially viewed in connection with the events which are to immediately follow it—Heaven, Hell and eternity—along with the uncertainty how soon it may be realized—might operate with an unlimited and altogether overpowering influence upon men's minds and hearts!

But men wish to forget death—and alas, too often succeed in accomplishing this fatal oblivion! Yet we can scarcely wonder at this, when we consider what their spiritual condition is—and what death is!

It is the commonness of death, which deprives it of its extreme dreadfulness. If death happened in our world only once in a century, it would be felt like the shock of an earthquake—and would hush the inhabitants of earth into a breathless silence, while the echoes of the knell of the departed soul were reverberating around the globe!

Death is . . .
  the moment of destiny;
  the seal of eternity;
  the cessation of probation;
  the commencement of retribution and judgment!

The accompaniments of death are solemn, and so are the consequences!

To every sense—death is revolting!

To every social affection—death is harrowing!

To reason—death is perplexing!

To everything but saving faith—death is overwhelming!

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

    ~  ~  ~  ~

Nothing can frustrate His designs—and nothing can hinder His purposes!

("Theology Explained" Timothy Dwight, 1752-1817)

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Genesis 1:1

"By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of His mouth!" Psalm 33:6

"The heavens are Yours, and Yours also the earth; You founded the world and all that is in it." Psalm 89:11

"Before the mountains were born or You brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God!" Psalm 90:2

"In the beginning You laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing You will change them and they will be discarded. But You remain the same, and Your years will never end!" Psalm 102:25-27

How great and glorious is the character of God as seen in His Creation!

Possessed of perfect excellence, contemplating with infinite delight His glorious attributes, and containing in Himself a boundless sufficiency for the accomplishment of everything great and desirable—God saw that it was befitting to His character to unfold His perfections and communicate His goodness to an endless and innumerable race of beings.

From an infinite height, He took a survey of the limitless range of possible beings; and in a cosmos without limits, but desolate and wild, where nothing was—He called into existence with a word, the countless multitude of worlds, with all their various furnishings. With His own hand He lighted up at once innumerable stars, and rolled around them innumerable worlds! All these He perfectly dispersed and arranged—and all, at the same time, He stored and adorned with a rich and unceasing variety of beauty and magnificence.

Throughout His vast empire, He surrounded His throne with intelligent creatures, to fill the immense and perfect scheme of being which originally existed with infinite splendor in His own incomprehensible mind. Independent of all possible beings and events—He sits at the head of His universe unchanged; and incapable of change—amid all the vicissitudes, tossings, and tumults by which it is agitated.

When empires are overthrown, or angels fall; when stars are extinguished, and solar systems return to their original nothingness—He is as equally unmoved as when a sparrow expires, or when a hair falls from a head. Nothing can happen, nothing can be done, beyond His expectation, or without his permission. Nothing can frustrate His designs—and nothing hinder His purposes!

All things, beside Him—change and fluctuate without ceasing. Events exist—and vanish. Beings rise—and expire. But His own existence, the thoughts which He entertains, the desires which He has, the purposes which He forms—are the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Throughout the coming limitless Eternity, also, and the boundless tracts of Immensity—He sees with serene delight His own perfect purposes daily and invariably advancing with a regular fulfillment towards their absolute completion. In its own place, in its own time, and in its own manner—each exists in exact obedience to His immutable will, and in exact accordance with His choice.

Nothing lingers, nothing hastens—but His counsel exactly stands, and all His good pleasure will be precisely accomplished.

"For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods! In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him. The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care!" Psalm 95:3-7

    ~  ~  ~  ~

Prepare to meet the monster!

(David Harsha)

This young lady had been confined to a bed of severe suffering for one year. At last her soul was ripened for glory. The time came that she must die, and her death-bed was a scene of triumph. Christ was very precious to her, and His love was wonderfully manifested to her soul. She often exclaimed, "My Beloved is mine, and I am His."

The following are among her last words:

To her distant brother she thus dictated a letter: "Dear brother, I know not whether I shall meet you again on earth; but I hope to meet you in Heaven, where we shall be forever singing the praises of God; where the Lamb, who is in the midst of the throne, shall feed us, and lead us unto living fountains of waters, and where God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes."

To her father, who said to her, "I fear I must lose you." She replied, "Your loss will be my gain! I have a building from God, a house, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." And again when he said, "I think you will fall asleep in Jesus;" she responded, "It will be a happy change!"

She exclaimed in a transport of joy, "Oh! I would not give up Christ for all the world!"

Her earthly course being nearly finished, she opened her eyes, which were soon to be closed in death, and in the language of strong, unshaken faith, exclaimed with Job, "But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!"

Her faith remained firm unto the end, and her hope and confidence unshaken to the last. Her sky was clear and serene, her mind calm and composed—and thus she fell asleep in Jesus and entered into the joy of her Lord.

A few days before this young lady died, she requested the following lines to be read at her funeral.

To my young companions:

"My youthful mates, both small and great,
  Stand here, and you shall see,
  An awful sight, which is a type
  Of what you soon will be!

"I used to appear once fresh and fair
  Among the youthful crowd;
  But now behold me dead and cold,
  Wrapped in a sable shroud!

"My cheeks once red, like roses spread,
  My sparkling eyes so gay;
  But now you see how 'tis with me,
  A lifeless lump of clay!

"When you are dressed in all your best,
  In 'fashion' so complete,
  You soon must be, as you see me,
  Wrapped in a shrouding sheet!

"Ah, youth beware, and do prepare
  To meet the monster
, death!
  For he may come when you are young,
  And steal away your breath!

"When you unto your frolics go,
  Remember what I say;
  In short time, though in your prime,
  You may be called away!

"Now I am gone, I can't return;
  No more of me you'll see;
  But it is true that all of you,
  Must shortly follow me!

"When you unto my grave do go,
  That gloomy place to see,
  I say to you who stand and view,
  Prepare to follow me!"

What an awful thing it is to die without salvation by Christ, without a saving interest in him; and yet millions live without God, and without hope in the world. And millions more die in the same awful condition, and plunge into a dark and miserable eternity!

"Let me die like the righteous—let my life end like theirs!" Numbers 23:10

    ~  ~  ~  ~

Better to rot in prison!

(J.R. Miller, "Practical Lessons from the Story of Joseph")

"How can I do this great wickedness—and sin against God!" Genesis 39:9

"After hearing his wife's story, Potiphar was furious! He took Joseph and threw him into the prison!" Genesis 39:19-20

Sometimes it costs very dearly to be true to God. Joseph lay now in a dungeon. But his loss through doing right, was nothing in comparison with what he would have lost—had he done the wickedness to which he was tempted. His prison gloom, deep as it was—was as noonday, compared with what would have been the darkness of his soul under the blight of evil, and the bitterness of remorse. The chains that hung upon him in his dungeon, were but like feathers—in comparison with the heavy chains which would have bound his soul, had he yielded to the temptation. Though in a prison, his feet hurt by the fetters—he was a free man because his conscience was free and his heart was pure!

No fear of consequences should ever drive us to do a wrong thing.

It is better to suffer any loss, any cost, any sacrifice—than be eaten up by remorse!

Better be hurled down from a high place for doing right—than win worldly honor by doing wrong.

Better lose our right hand—than lose our purity of soul.

Better to rot in prison—than to sin against God!

It was the prayer of a young queen, which she wrote with a diamond point on her castle window, "Keep me pure—make others great." That is the lesson of Joseph's victory over temptation: dishonor, loss, dungeon, death—anything before sin!

    ~  ~  ~  ~

What are you doing with your time?

(J.R. Miller)

"Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of the time" Ephesians 5:15-16

Our days, as God gives them to us—are like beautiful summer fields.
The hours are like trees with their rich fruit, or vines with their blossoms of purple clusters.
The minutes are like blooming flowers, or stalks of wheat with their golden grains.

Oh the endless, blessed possibilities of our days and hours and minutes—as they come to us from God's hands!

But what did you do with yesterday? How does the little acre of that one day look to you now?

What are you doing with your time? Every moment God gives you, has in it a possibility of beauty or usefulness—as well as something to be accounted for.

Are you using your time for God?

"Show me, O Lord, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life!" Psalm 39:4

Jeremy Taylor: "God has given to man a short time here upon earth, and yet upon this short time eternity depends!"

Ryle: "No time is so well spent in every day—as that which we spend upon our knees."

Spurgeon: "Time is short. Eternity is long. It is only reasonable that this short life be lived in the light of eternity!"

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

    ~  ~  ~  ~

Home, sweet home! There is no place like home!

(James Smith, "Rills from the Rock of Ages", 1860)

"These all died in faith . . . they confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth" Hebrews 11:13

The day of life with them is ended. Its duties are ended. Its responsibilities are past. Its hours are fled away.

What a trying day some of them had! How stormy. How sultry. How often overcast. How gloomy. But it is now past—and past forever! The toils of the wilderness are over! They had much to afflict and pain them . . .
  a difficult and dangerous journey,
  a long wearisome march,
  many a heavy cross to carry,
  many a stubborn foe to face,
  many a painful doubt,
  numerous gloomy fears.

But now the wilderness is all behind them! The afflictions of the pilgrimage are terminated. Those sufferings were sharp, and some of them continued long. Many of them were endured in secret, without sympathy and without relief. They were soul sorrows, agony of mind—as well as sharp pains of body. But however multiplied, however severe, however protracted those sorrows—they are past and gone, never, never to return!

The sweetest repose is now enjoyed. The poor tabernacle has been taken down, and is laid in a quiet resting-place until the resurrection morning. The soul is gone to be with Jesus. It has traveled through the rough path of life—and is now in God's presence, where there is fullness of joy, and pleasures for evermore!

As Christians, we are going to the same place. The graves will soon be ready for our bodies—and the mansions of glory for our souls. We are going home! Home to our Father's house! Home where our hearts have long been. Home where all our prayers will be answered, and all our best desires will be gratified. "Home, sweet home! There is no place like home!" Especially our home! A paradise without a tempting serpent! A paradise where all are holy, all are safe, all are happy. Those pure and perpetual joys, which are at God's right hand, await us! We taste them now and are delighted with a sip—but there we shall soon drink full draughts of eternal glory, eternal joy, and eternal blessedness!

Amidst present toils and trials, dangers and distresses—when wearied, way-worn, and tempted to fret—remember that you will soon be HOME! Think, think, O my soul, of an eternity of enjoyment—when the sufferings of time are ended!

"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, for the old order of things has passed away!" Revelation 21:3-4

    ~  ~  ~  ~

Oh, you killers of time!

(Octavius Winslow) Ephesians 5:16

Time is the preface to eternity. And as the preface indicates the character of the volume, so our present use of time is the foreshadowing of our future eternal history.

We may rob God by a misuse of time. Time is a solemn and priceless gift, and involves a responsibility and an account of a most tremendous character.

What sin, what madness, then, to abuse a privilege so solemn—to misuse a blessing so precious. To employ time in vain pleasures and frivolous pursuits; to use it in senseless levities and sinful engagements; to devote it too absorbingly even to literary and noble pursuits: the studies of the antiquarian, the researches of the historian, the fascinations of art, the discoveries of science; may verge upon the crime of robbing God of one of His most costly loans! All these absorbing engagements are limited to the present, and have no essential relation to the soul's certain and solemn future.

Oh, you killers of time!
How will the ghost of your murdered hours haunt and upbraid you through the interminable centuries of eternity! Oh, what would you not then give for one hour of that precious period of your existence which now you waste and fritter and destroy—in vain, useless, and sinful trifles, dreams, and shadows.

Remember, you rob God when your time is not consecrated to His glory. Ponder well the inspired precept, "Redeeming the time, because the days are evil." Ephesians 5:16. Consider the apostolic exhortation, "Brethren, the time is short!" 1 Corinthians 7:29

"So teach us to number our days—that we may present to You a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12

    ~  ~  ~  ~

God is everywhere!

(Don Fortner)

"The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good." Proverbs 15:3

God is everywhere by His power—upholding, maintaining, sustaining all things, and performing with His own hands the works of His eternal purpose in all places.

God is everywhere by his providence—taking care of and governing all His creatures, executing in all places at the same time His everlasting decrees.

God is everywhere by His omniscience—beholding all things, all places, all events, all people, even the secrets of the hearts of all men at one time.

"His eyes are on the ways of men; He sees their every step. There is no dark place, no deep shadow, where evildoers can hide." Job 34:21-22

"For a man's ways are in full view of the LORD, and He examines all his paths." Proverbs  5:21

"My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from Me, nor is their sin concealed from My eyes." Jeremiah 16:17

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

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

"O LORD, You have searched me and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely, O LORD. You hem me in—behind and before; You have laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain!" Psalm 139:1-6

    ~  ~  ~  ~

If you saw Christ standing beside you all the time

(J.R. Miller, "Intimate Letters on Personal Problems")

Scripture says of Moses, that "he endured as seeing Him who is invisible!" Hebrews 11:27. That is, Moses always remembered that God was right beside him, his friend to help him—and this made him strong. He did not actually see God—but it was as if he saw Him. That is, he realized the divine presence in all of his life.

If you saw Christ standing beside you all the time—it would not be hard for you to keep sweet, or to keep control of your temper and speech.

Well, Christ IS beside you—just as really as He was beside Mary when she sat at His feet in Bethany, or beside Peter and the other disciples as they walked together over the hills of Judea and Galilee. What you need, is to realize this fact.

We know that Jesus is present with us all the time, at every moment, by day or by night. He is closer than any human friend can be to us. Indeed, we are to practice His presence—that is, we are to live all the time, as if we actually saw Him!

You must remember that Christ is always besides you, not only to see you—but to help you, as your truest and best Friend!

    ~  ~  ~  ~

Atheistic beliefs

("Theology Explained" Timothy Dwight, 1752-1817)

"The fool says in his heart: There is no God!" Psalm 14:1

Atheism has its seat in the heart, and not in the understanding. "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed." John 3:19-20

Nothing can be more evident, than that atheistic beliefs can never be embraced from reason, or conviction, or by an unbiased understanding. They are certainly adopted under the influence of the heart. They are believed only because they are loved—or because God is dreaded and hated. Thus the heart is the true source of the belief that there is no God; and he is a fool, who, governed by his desires, thus believes against all reason and evidence.

The great danger lies in the heart—and in its hostility to God and His character. What we desire—we easily believe; and what we dread or hate—we easily disbelieve. As we dread the anger of God against sin, and against ourselves particularly as sinners, and all His designs to punish sin; and as we hate to renounce sin and its pleasures—we easily and naturally contrive to disbelieve God's designs, character, and existence. Especially is this the case, when God, provoked by our rebellion and opposition, gives us up to a reprobate mind.

"Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity!" Romans 1:28-29

"They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness." 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12

"So also these men oppose the truth—men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are reprobate." 2 Timothy 3:8

How greatly ought we then to fear this mass of atheistic guilt, danger, and ruin! How earnestly ought we to watch, and strive, and pray that we fall not into this train of temptations and miseries! Let us resolve to receive and love the truths of Scripture at all events, however humbling or painful.