Grace Gems for APRIL, 2019

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The biggest problem for those in Hell

(R.C. Sproul)

Many people hope for a second chance after death, yet nothing in Scripture gives the slightest hope of that. The Bible says that "it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).

In recent years, there has been a revival within evangelical circles of the heretical doctrine called annihilationism, which holds that the wicked are merely annihilated. Their punishment is that they cease to exist. But the Bible is very clear that the punishment of Hell is conscious and unending—a place where the wicked "will go away into everlasting punishment" (Matthew 25:46).

Almost all the biblical teaching about Hell comes from the lips of Jesus. Modern Christians have pushed the limits of minimizing Hell, in an effort to sidestep or soften Jesus' own teaching.

Yet there is no biblical concept more grim or terror-invoking, than the idea of Hell.
The Bible describes Hell as . . .
  a place of outer darkness,
  a lake of fire,
  a place of weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth,
  a place of eternal separation from the blessings of God,
  a prison,
  a place of torment where the worm never dies.

A breath of relief is usually heard when someone declares, "Hell is a symbol for separation from God." To be separated from God for eternity is no great threat to the impenitent person. The ungodly want nothing more than to be separated from God. "They say to God: Leave us alone! We have no desire to know Your ways!" Job 21:14

Yes, Hell is separation from the grace, care, and love of God, but not from God Himself. The biggest problem for those in Hell will not be separation from God—it will be the presence of God that will torment them. In Hell, God will be present in the fullness of His divine wrath, actively punishing the wicked. Hell is an eternity before the righteous, ever-burning wrath of God. He will be there to exercise His just punishment of the damned. They will know Him as an all-consuming fire.

When we are saved, we are saved from God Himself! We are saved from exposure to His fierce wrath and punishment!

Perhaps the most frightening aspect of Hell is its eternality. People can endure the greatest agony, if they know that it will ultimately stop. In Hell there is no such hope. The Bible clearly teaches that the punishment is eternal. Punishment implies pain. Mere annihilation, which some have lobbied for, involves no pain. Jonathan Edwards said, "Wicked men will hereafter earnestly wish to be turned to nothing and forever cease to be, that they may escape the wrath of God!" "They called to the mountains and the rocks: Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!" Revelation 6:16

Hell, then, is an eternity before the righteous, ever-burning wrath of God—a suffering torment from which there is no escape and no relief.

No matter how we analyze the concept of Hell, it often sounds to us as a place of cruel and unusual punishment. If, however, we can take any comfort in the concept of Hell—we can take it in the full assurance that there will be no cruelty there. It is impossible for God to be cruel. Cruelty involves inflicting a punishment that is more severe or harsh than the crime. Cruelty in this sense is unjust. God is incapable of inflicting an unjust punishment. The Judge of all the earth will surely do what is right. No innocent person will ever suffer at His hand. The last judgment will be administered by a perfectly just and righteous Judge, so there will be nothing arbitrary or unjust about it.

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There is enough tinder in the heart of the holiest of men, to light a fire that shall burn to the lowest Hell!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Keep back your servant also from willful sins; let them not have dominion over me!" Psalm 19:13

Such was the prayer of "the man after God's own heart." Did holy David need to pray thus? How needful, then, must such a prayer be for us babes in grace! It is as if he said, "Keep me back, or I shall rush headlong over the precipice of sin!"

Our evil nature, like an ill-tempered horse, is apt to run away. May the grace of God put a bridle upon it, and hold it in, that it rush not into mischief. What grievous sins might the best of us do—if it were not for the checks which the Lord sets upon us both in providence and in grace!

The psalmist's prayer is directed against the worst form of sin—that which is done with deliberation and willfulness. Even the holiest people need to be kept back from the vilest transgressions! It is a solemn thing to find the apostle Paul warning the saints against the most loathsome sins: "So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual sin, impurity, lust, and shameful desires, and greed, which is idolatry." Colossians 3:5. What! do saints need warning against such sins as these? Yes, they do! The whitest robes, unless their purity is preserved by divine grace, will be defiled by the blackest spots.

Experienced Christian, do not boast in your experience; you will yet trip—if you look away from Him who is able to keep you from falling. You whose love is fervent, whose faith is constant, whose hopes are bright, say not, "We shall never fall!" but rather cry, "Lead us not into temptation." There is enough tinder in the heart of the holiest of men, to light a fire that shall burn to the lowest Hell—unless God shall quench the sparks as they fall. Who would have dreamed that righteous Lot could be found drunken, and committing incest? Hazael said, "Is your servant a dog—that he should do this monstrous thing?" and we are very apt to use the same self-righteous question. May divine wisdom cure us of the madness of self-confidence!

"He who trusts in his own heart is a fool!" Proverbs 28:26

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The only system adapted to his case!

(William Nicholson, "Pearls of Great Price!" 1855)

Viewing man as a fallen, sinful creature—the gospel is the only system adapted to his case! 
The more he contemplates it, the more he perceives its precious adaptation to his dreadful state.
The gospel is . . .
  light, for the darkness of his reason;
  peace, for the tumult of his conscience;
  joy, for the anguish of his mind;
  hope, for the gloom of his despair.

Is he guilty? The gospel presents . . .
  an all-sufficient Savior,
  an all-atoning sacrifice,
  and an all-forgiving God.

Is he impure? The gospel opens up for him a fountain for sin and for uncleanness—a hallowed flood supplied from the Redeemer's cross, where the vilest sinner may wash from his heinous pollution.

Is he alienated from God—at an infinite distance from the only source of happiness and forgiveness? The gospel is a medium of approach, a way of access to the thrice holy God. Here the Alpine mountains of his guilt are leveled to the dust. Here the prodigal returns, is freely received, fully forgiven, elevated to a place in his heavenly Father's family, and never lost from his heavenly Father's heart.

Is he the victim of ignorance and error? Here he receives the lessons of a heavenly prophet—the Spirit of God becomes his kind instructor. Here the untutored savage is made wiser than the learned sage, "wise unto salvation!"

Does he feel himself the subject of passions that lead him continually astray from God?
The same Spirit becomes the inhabitant of his bosom . . .
  to subdue his passions,
  to curb his lusts,
  to control his will, and
  to sanctify the nature He has first renewed, and which shall finally be glorified with Christ.

In every point of view, the gospel meets his case!

Is he a sinner? The gospel offers pardon!

Is he a debtor? The gospel grants him full payment of his dept!

Is he a captive to sin and Satan? The gospel gives him liberty.

Is he fallen into utter depravity? It elevates him to God's throne, and constitutes him "a king and a priest unto God."

Is he thirsty? The gospel is a river of life.

Is he weary? It is a sweet repose.

Is he ignorant? The gospel is a divine instructor.

Is he spiritually diseased? It is immortal health and vigor to his soul.

Is he dying? The gospel is eternal life.

Yes, in the gospel . . .
  the law is fulfilled,
  justice is atoned, and
  the divine perfections are harmonized in man's redemption.

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A cooler Hell!

(Thomas Brooks, "The Crown and Glory of Christianity, or, HOLINESS, the Only Way to Happiness", 1662)

"God, I thank You that I'm not like other people—greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get." Luke 18:11-12

Many please and satisfy themselves with mere civility and common morality. They bless themselves that they are not swearers, nor drunkards, nor extortioners, nor adulterers, etc. Their behavior is civil, sincere, harmless and blameless.

But civility is not sanctity.

Civility rested in, is but a beautiful abomination—a smooth way to Hell and damnation!

Civility is very often . . .
  the nurse of impiety,
  the mother of flattery, and
  an enemy to real sanctity.
There are those who are so blinded with the fair shows of civility—that they can neither see the necessity nor beauty of sanctity. There are those who now bless themselves in their common morality, whom at last God will scorn and cast off for lack of real holiness and purity.

A moral man may be an utter stranger . . .
  to God,
  to Christ,
  to Scripture,
  to the filthiness of sin,
  to the depths and devices of Satan,
  to their own hearts,
  to the new birth,
  to the great concerns of eternity,
  to communion with Christ,
  to the secret and inward ways and workings of the Spirit.

Well, sirs, remember this: though the moral man is good for many things—yet he is not good enough to go to Heaven! He who rises to no higher pitch than civility and morality—shall never have communion with God in glory. The most moral man in the world, may be both Christless and graceless.

Morality is not sufficient to keep a man out of eternal misery. All morality can do, is to help a man to one of the best rooms and easiest beds which Hell affords! For, as the moral man's sins are not so great as others—so his punishments shall not be so great as others. This is all the comfort that can be given to a moral man—that he shall have a cooler Hell than others have. This is but cold comfort.

Morality without piety is as a body without a soul.
Will God ever accept of such a stinking sacrifice? Surely not!

"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God." Luke 18:13-14

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A house of fools!

(Thomas Brooks, "The Crown and Glory of Christianity, or, HOLINESS, the Only Way to Happiness", 1662)

"The heart of fools is in the house of pleasure."
Ecclesiastes 7:4

A fool prefers toys and trifles, above things of greatest worth.

Just so, wicked and ungodly men prefer their lusts, before the Lord. Upon choice, they prefer the honors, the riches and glory of this fleeting world—above their own souls and the great concerns of eternity.

I have read of the foolish people of Ceylon, who preferred a consecrated ape's tooth, above an incredible mass of treasure. Such fools are all unholy people, who prefer the toys and trifles of this world—above the eternal pleasures and treasures which are at God's right hand. The world is full of such fools.

Says one: "If you behold the lives of men, you will judge the whole world to be a house of fools!"

Ah, friends! What folly can be compared to that of men's spending their time, their strength, their lives, their souls—in getting the ephemeral things of this world, and neglecting that one thing necessary—the salvation of their souls! Oh, what vanity is it to prefer . . .
  a puff of honor,
  a blast of fame,
  a dream of pleasure,
  a wedge of gold,
  a Babylonish garment,
  and such like transitory trifles and trash
—before a blessed eternity!

"For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his soul?
 Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?" Matthew 16:26

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Get out of My sight!

(Thomas Brooks, "The Crown and Glory of Christianity, or, HOLINESS, the Only Way to Happiness", 1662)

Many now-a-days say that there is no Hell. Multitudes think that all that is spoken of Hell in Scripture is false and mythical. They will not believe that there is a Hell . . .
  until they come to feel themselves in Hell,
  until they find everlasting flames about their ears,
  until they are sentenced to the fire,
  until they are doomed to everlasting fire!

The last words that Christ will ever speak to the ungodly will be the most tormenting and horrifying, the most killing and damning, the most stinging and wounding! "Then He will also say to those on the left: Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his demons!" Matthew 25:41

This terrible sentence breathes out nothing but fire and brimstone, terror and horror, dread and woe!

"Depart from Me!" Here is utter rejection: "Pack! Be gone! Get out of My sight! Let Me never see your face again!"

"You who are cursed!" Here is malediction. You shall be cursed in your bodies and cursed in your souls! You shall be cursed of God, and cursed of angels, and cursed of saints, and cursed of devils, and cursed of your companions! Yes, you shall curse your very selves, your very souls. All your former curses, all your maledictions—shall at last recoil upon your own souls!

Now you curse every man and thing which stands in the way of your lusts, and which cross your designs! But at last all the curses of Heaven and Hell shall meet in their full power and force upon you!

"But, Lord, if we must depart, and depart cursed—oh let us go into some good place!"

"No! Depart into the eternal fire!" There is the vengeance and everlasting continuance of it. You shall go into fire, into everlasting fire, which will neither consume itself, nor consume you! Eternity of extreme punishment is the hell of Hell.

If all the fires which ever were in the world were contracted into one fire, how terrible would it be! Yet such a fire would be but as a 'painted fire'—compared to the fire of Hell. The greatest and the hottest fires that ever were on earth—are but ice in comparison to the fire of Hell. Ah! how sad, how dreadful would it be to experience what it is to lie in unquenchable fire—not for a day, a month, or a year, or a hundred, or a thousand years—but forever and ever!

"If it were," says one, "but for a thousand years, I could bear it—but seeing it is for eternity, this astonishes and affrights me!"

"I am afraid of Hell," says another, "because the worm there never dies, and the fire never goes out!"

It is called "unquenchable fire," and "eternal fire." The torments of the damned are . . .
  very grievous for the bitterness of them,
  and more grievous for the diversity of them,
  but most of all grievous for the eternity of them!

Wronged justice can never be satisfied, and therefore the sinner must be forever tormented. The sinner in Hell will sin forever, and therefore he must be punished forever. It will not stand with the unspotted justice and righteousness of God to cease punishing—while the sinner ceases not sinning.

"But, Lord, if I must go into fire, into everlasting fire—then oh, let me have some good company in my misery!"

"No! The devil and his demons shall be your companions!" Ah! who can conceive or express the misery of living with devils and damned spirits and hellish fiends and furies forever!

"For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath, but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ!" 1 Thessalonians 5:9

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Oh stand and wonder!

(Thomas Brooks, "The Crown and Glory of Christianity")

"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us—that we should be called the sons of God!" 1 John 3:1

It is an infinite condescension in God to honor us with the title of sons, and therefore we should never think of it, nor ever speak of it—but with much amazement. O sirs! what matter of admiration is this—that the great and glorious God, who has many millions of glorious angels attending Him—that He should . . .
  look upon all redeemed people as His sons, 
  and love them as His sons,
  and delight in them as His sons,
  and clothe them as His sons,
  and feed them as His sons,
  and protect them as His sons,
  and stand by them as His sons,
  and lay up for them as His sons,
  and lay out Himself for them as His sons;
that those who have not deserved . . .
  a smile from God,
  a good word from God,
  a bit of bread from God, or
  a temporal blessing from God,
should be made the sons of God!

What manner of love is this—that those who have . . .
  so highly provoked God,
  walked so disobediently and contrary to God,
  were so exceeding unlike God,
  preferred every lust, and every toy and vanity before God,
  fought many years under Satan's banner against God,
  refused all the offers of mercy that have been made by God,
that those who have deserved to be . . .
  reprobated by God,
  damned by God, and
  to be thrown to Hell by God—
that these should be made the sons of God!

Oh stand and wonder! Oh stand and admire the freeness of His grace, and at the riches of His grace!

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!" 1 John 3:1

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The fool's bauble, the fool's fiddle!

(Thomas Brooks, "The Crown and Glory of Christianity, or, HOLINESS, the Only Way to Happiness", 1662)

"The wicked freely strut about, when what is vile is honored among men." Psalm 12:8

"Their souls delight in their abominations." Isaiah 66:3

"They love to indulge in evil pleasures." 2 Peter 2:13

Proverbs 10:23, "A fool finds pleasure in evil conduct."
Evil conduct is the fool's bauble, the fool's fiddle.
Fools take great delight and pleasure in doing evil.
Sin and wickedness are a sport or recreation to a fool.
It is a great pleasure and merriment to a fool—to do wickedness.

Proverbs 14:9, "Fools make a mock of sin." They make . . .
  a jeer of sin—which they should fear more than Hell itself,
  a sport of sin—which will prove a matter of damnation to them,
  a pastime, a game of sin—which will them miserable to all eternity,
  a mock of sin on earth—for which the devil will mock and flout them forever in Hell.

Justice will at last turn over such fools to Satan, who will be sure to return mock for mock, jeer for jeer, and flout for flout. Those who love such kind of pastime, shall have enough of it in Hell.

All unbelievers are such fools—for they delight and take pleasure in sin, which is the most corrupting and dangerous thing in the world. "And so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth, but have delighted in wickedness." 2 Thessalonians 2:12

Well, sirs! Sin is . . .
  the poison of the soul,
  the curse of the soul,
  the disease of the soul,
  the burden of the soul!
And if God in mercy does not prevent it—sin will prove the eternal bane of the soul.

Oh, then, how great is their folly, who delight in sin, and who make a sport of it!

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No one really desires to go to Hell

(Arthur Pink, "The Scriptures and GOOD WORKS" 1932)

"Enter through the narrow gate.
 For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.
 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matthew 7:13-14

No one really desires to go to Hell, though there are few indeed who are willing to forsake that broad road which inevitably leads there.

All would like to go to Heaven, but only true Christians are really willing and determined to walk that narrow way which alone leads thereto.

"For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish!" Psalm 1:6

"The LORD detests the way of the wicked, but He loves those who pursue righteousness." Proverbs 15:9

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No dirty dogs shall ever trample upon that golden pavement!

(Thomas Brooks, "The Crown and Glory of Christianity, or, HOLINESS, the Only Way to Happiness", 1662)

Throughout the Scriptures unholy people are branded, to their everlasting contempt—with the worst appellations. They are the most dangerous, and the most harmful beings in the world, and therefore are emblemized . . .
  by lions—for they are cruel, Psalm 22:21;
  by bears—for they are savage, Isaiah 11:7;
  by dragons—for they are hideous, Ezekiel 29:3;
  by wolves—for they are ravenous, Ezekiel 22:27;
  by dogs—for they are snarling, Revelation 22:15;
  by vipers and scorpions—for they are stinging, Matthew 12:34, Ezekiel 2:6;
  by spiders and cockatrices—for they are poisoning, Isaiah 59:5;
  by swine—for they are intemperate, Matthew 7:6.

Remember this: that all these stinging expressions and appellations which disgrace and vilify unholy people, were inspired by the Holy Spirit and published in His holy Word.

The glutton is depicted as a swine;
the fraudulent person is depicted as a fox;
the lustful person is depicted as a goat;
the backbiter is depicted as a barking cur;
the slanderer is depicted as an asp;
the oppressor is depicted as a wolf;
the persecutor is depicted as a tiger;
the seducer is depicted as a serpent.

Do you think that God admit such vermin as unholy people are—to eternally inhabit His holy Heaven? Surely not! God has long since resolved upon it—that no unclean beasts shall enter into Heaven—that no dirty dogs shall ever trample upon that golden pavement! Certainly God will not allow such beasts and toads and snakes and serpents—to forever live with Him! Heaven is a too holy place to admit such vermin to inhabit!

"Nothing impure will ever enter it." Revelation 21:27

"Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood." Revelation 22:15

All in Heaven are holy: the angels holy, the saints are holy—and the Lord Himself above all is most glorious in holiness.

Now certainly it would be a Hell to these holy ones to have unholy wretches to be their eternal companions! When the holy angels fell from their holiness—Heaven was so holy that it spewed them out! Certainly there will be no room in Heaven for such filthy beasts as unholy people are! 'Jerusalem above' is too glorious a habitation for beasts—or for men of beastly spirits, or beastly principles, or beastly practices. The city of the great God was never built for beasts. A wilderness and not a paradise—is fittest for beasts.

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How wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"May you have the power to understand, as all God's people should—how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is! May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully." Ephesians 3:18-19

The love of Christ in its sweetness, its fullness, its greatness, its faithfulness—surpasses all human comprehension. Where shall language be found—which could describe His matchless, His unparalleled love towards His redeemed people? It is so vast and boundless that, as the swallow but skims the water, and dives not into its depths—so all descriptions of Jesus but touch the surface, while immeasurable depths lie beneath. Well might the poet say, "O love—you fathomless abyss!" for this love of Christ is indeed measureless and fathomless; none can attain unto it!

Before we can have any right idea of the love of Jesus, we must understand His previous glory in His height of majesty—and His humiliation upon the earth in all its depths of shame.

But who can fathom the majesty and glory of Christ, when . . .
  He was enthroned in the highest heavens;
  He was very God of very God;
  He made the heavens and all the hosts thereof;
  His own almighty arm upheld the spheres;
  the full chorus of the hallelujahs of the universe unceasingly flowed to the foot of His throne;
  He reigned supreme above all His creatures, as God over all, blessed forever!
Who can fathom His height of glory then?

And who, on the other hand, can fathom how low He descended?
To become a man was something—to be a man of sorrows was far more.
To bleed, and die, and suffer—these were much for Him who was the Son of God; but to suffer such unparalleled agony, to endure a death of shame and desertion by His Father—this is a depth of condescending love which the most inspired mind must utterly fail to penetrate!

Herein is love! and truly it is love that surpasses knowledge!

O let His love for such unworthy sinners as us, fill our hearts with adoring gratitude.

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The picture of agonizing love!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Then Pilate took Jesus and had Him scourged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head. They clothed Him in a purple robe and went up to Him again and again, saying, "Hail, king of the Jews!" And they struck Him in the face!" John 19:1-3 

Pilate delivered our Lord to the lictors to be scourged. The Roman scourging was a most dreadful instrument of torture. It was made of the sinews of oxen, and sharp bones were inter-twisted among the sinews; so that every time the lash came down—these pieces of bone inflicted fearful laceration, and tore off some flesh from the victim. The Savior was, no doubt, bound to the pillar, and thus beaten. He had been beaten before, but this scourging of the Roman lictors was probably the most severe of His flagellations.

"With His stripes we are healed." Isaiah 53:5

My soul, stand here and weep over His poor stricken body. Believer in Jesus, can you gaze upon Him without tears, as He stands before you—the picture of agonizing love? He is at once as white as the lily for innocence, and as red as the rose with the crimson of His own blood. As we feel the sure and blessed healing which His stripes have wrought in us—does not our heart melt at once with love and grief? If ever we have loved our Lord Jesus—surely we must feel that affection glowing now within our bosoms.

"See how the patient Jesus stands,
  Insulted in His lowest case!
  Sinners have bound the Almighty's hands,
  And spit in their Creator's face!

"With thorns His temples gored and gashed
  Send streams of blood from every part.
  His back's with knotted scourges lashed,
  But sharper scourges tear His heart!"

We would sincerely go to our chambers and weep. But since our business calls us away this morning, we will first ask our Beloved to print the image of His bleeding self upon the tablets of our hearts all the day; and at nightfall we will return to commune with Him, and sorrow that our sin should have cost Him so dear!

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An outlet and an inlet!

(Thomas Brooks, "The Crown and Glory of Christianity, or, HOLINESS, the Only Way to Happiness", 1662)

"Death has been swallowed up in victory!" 1 Corinthians 15:54

DEATH is an outlet and an inlet to a holy man.

Death is an eternal outlet . . .
  to all his sins,
  to all his sorrows,
  to all his shame,
  to all his sufferings,
  to all his afflictions,
  to all his temptations,
  to all his oppressions,
  to all his confusions,
  and to all his vexations.

Death is an eternal inlet into . . .
  the clear, full, and constant enjoyment of God,
  the sweetest pleasures,
  the purest joys,
  the highest delights,
  the strongest comforts, and
  the most satisfying contentments.

Death is the funeral of all a holy man's sins and miseries, and
the perfection of all his joys, graces, and spiritual excellencies.

Death is not the death of the man—but the death of his sin.

Death is a Christian's discharge from all trouble and misery!

Death came in by sin—and sin goes out by death.

Death cures all diseases—the aching head and the unbelieving heart; the diseased body and the defiled soul. Death will cure the holy man of all natural and spiritual distempers.

Death is God's gentle usher to conduct us to Heaven!

Death to a holy man, is nothing but the changing of . . .
  his grace—into glory,
  his faith—into vision,
  his hope—into fruition, and
  his love—into eternal rapture!

Oh, who would not go through death . . .
  to Heaven!
  to eternal life!
  to immortality and glory!

Death, to a Christian, is . . .
  a welcome guest,
  a happy friend,
  a joyful messenger!

"For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Philippians 1:21

"I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far." Philippians 1:23

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Glued to their lusts!

(Thomas Brooks, "A Cabinet of Choice Jewels" 1669)

Sinners' hearts are so glued to their lusts, that they will rather part with their nearest, dearest, and choicest enjoyments—than part with their sins! Yes, they will rather part with God, Christ, and all the glory of Heaven—than they will part with some darling lust!

"When He comes, He will convict the world about sin." John 16:8
The first work of the Spirit upon the soul, is to make a man . . .
  look upon sin as an enemy,
  deal with sin as an enemy,
  loathe sin as an enemy,
  fear sin as an enemy, and
  fight against sin as an enemy.

Of all the vile things in the world, sin is the most defiling thing.
Sin makes us red with guilt, and black with filth.

Inward corruptions grieve the gracious soul.
"Oh," says the gracious soul, "that I were but rid of . . .
  this proud heart,
  this hard heart,
  this unbelieving heart,
  this filthy heart,
  this rebellious heart,
  this earthly heart of mine!"

The Christian has a sincere willingness to be rid of all sin.
The enmity which grace works in the heart, is against all sin:
  profitable sins,
  pleasurable sins,
  secret sins,
  disgracing sins,
  darling sins,
  small sins,
  great sins.

It is certain that sin is more afflictive to a gracious soul, than all the losses, crosses, troubles, and trials that he meets with in the world.

True grace would not have one Canaanite left in the holy land.
He would have every Egyptian drowned in the red sea of Christ's blood!
"I hate every false way." Psalm 139:24

Saving grace makes a man as willing to leave his beloved lusts,
  as a slave is willing to leave his chains,
  or a prisoner longs to leave his dungeon,
  or a beggar desires to leave his rags.

A sincere heart had much rather be rid of his sins, than of his sufferings. 
Yes, he would rather be rid the least sins, than of the greatest sufferings.

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Devils in their homes!

(Thomas Brooks, "A Cabinet of Choice Jewels" 1669)

A true Christian will endeavor to obey God in home duties. He will not only attend church, and pray, and read Scripture, and meditate, and fast—but he will labor to be godly in domestic relationships.

Remember this forever: What a man is at home—that he is in reality before God. Many make a great profession, and have great abilities and gifts, and can discourse well on any pious subject—whose homes are not little Heavens, but little Hells! Some are very much like . . .
  angels in public,
  saints in the church, and
  devils in their homes!

Domestic graces and duties better demonstrate true piety and godliness, than public or general duties do. For pride, reputation, love of praise, and a hundred other carnal ulterior motives—may cause a man to shine in the general duties of religion. But it argues both heart-sincerity and strength of grace, to be diligent and conscientious in the discharge of domestic duties.

This is the true reason why the apostles in their epistles so frequently, so earnestly, and so strongly, by variety of motives—press Christians to the performance of their home duties.

"Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord." Colossians 3:20

    ~ ~ ~ ~

A worm, a gnat, a fly, a hair, a raisin, a skin of a grape

(Thomas Brooks, "A Cabinet of Choice Jewels" 1669)

"Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth!" Proverbs 27:1

Who can sum up . . .
  the many possible deaths which are still lurking in his own body;
  or the innumerable hosts of external dangers which beleaguer him on every side;
  or the invisible arrows which fly about his ears continually!

Who can tell how soon he may have his mortal wound given him by one or another of them? Now, how sad would it be for a man to have a summons to appear before God in that eternal world, before his heart and life are savingly changed!

The life of a man is but a shadow, a span, a vapor, a flower, etc.

Though there is but one way to come into the world—yet there are thousands of ways to be sent out of the world!

We carry about in our bodies the material for a thousand deaths—and may die a thousand different ways in several hours. As many senses, as many members, nay, as many pores as there are in the body—so many windows there are for death to enter in at!

Death needs not spend all his arrows upon us. A worm, a gnat, a fly, a hair, a raisin, a skin of a grape, the stumbling of a horse, the trip of a foot, the pick of a pin, the cutting of a fingernail, the cutting out of a corn; all these have been to others, and any of them may be to us—the means of our death within the space of a few days; nay, of a few hours; nay, of a few moments!

Yet I am sure that the worst of deaths, shall but translate true believers . . .
  from earth—to Heaven,
  from a wilderness—to a paradise,
  from misery—to glory, and
  from mixed and mutable enjoyments—to the pure and everlasting enjoyments of God!

To a believer, "The day of death better than the day of birth. It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart." Ecclesiastes 7:1-2

    ~ ~ ~ ~

Other men's sins!

(Thomas Brooks, "The Crown and Glory of Christianity, or, HOLINESS, the Only Way to Happiness", 1662)

By other men's sins, a holy man is put in mind of the badness of his own heart.

Bernard makes mention of an old man, who, when he saw any man sin, lamented and wept for him. Being asked why he grieved so, for other men's sins, answered, "He fell today—and I may fall tomorrow!"

The falls of others puts a holy man in mind of the roots of sinfulness which are in himself. Other men's actual sins are as so many looking-glasses, through which a holy man comes to see the manifold seeds of sin which are in his own heart—and such a sight as this cannot but humble him.

A holy heart knows that the best way to keep himself pure from other men's sins, is to mourn for other men's sins. He who makes conscience of weeping over other men's sins—will rarely be defiled with other men's sins.

A holy heart looks upon other men's sins as their bonds and chains—and this makes him mourn. Ah, how can tears but trickle down a Christian's cheeks, when he sees multitudes fast bound with the cords of their iniquity, trooping to Hell? Who can look upon a lost sinner as a bound prisoner to the prince of darkness—and not bemoan him?

If holy people thus mourn for the wickedness of others, then certainly those who take pleasure in the wickedness of others—who laugh and joy, who can make a sport of other men's sins—are rather monsters than men! There are none so nearly allied to Satan as these—nor any so resemble Satan as much as these! (The devil always joys most—when sinners sin most!) To applaud them, and take pleasure in those who take pleasure in sin—is the highest degree of ungodliness!

    ~ ~ ~ ~

The separated life!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.
 Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.
 For here we have no continuing city, but we are seeking the city which is to come."
     Hebrews 13:12-14

Jesus, bearing His cross, went forth to suffer outside the gate.

The Christian's reason for leaving the camp of the world's sin and the world's religion, is not because he loves to be singular—but because Jesus did so, and the disciple must follow his Master. Christ was "not of the world"—His life and His teachings were a constant protest against conformity with the world. Never was there such overflowing affection for men as you find in Him; but still He was "separate from sinners."

In like manner, Christ's people must "go forth unto Him." They must take their position "outside the camp," as witness-bearers for the truth. They must be prepared to tread the straight and narrow path. They must have bold, unflinching, lion-like hearts, loving Christ first, and His truth next—and Christ and His truth beyond all the world!

Jesus would have His people "go forth to Him, outside the camp" for their own sanctification. You cannot grow in grace to any high degree—while you are conformed to the world. The life of separation may be a path of sorrow—but it is the highway of safety. And though the separated life may cost you many pangs, and make every day a battle—yet it is a happy life after all. No joy can excel that of the soldier of Christ; Jesus reveals Himself so graciously, and gives such sweet refreshment, that the warrior feels more calm and peace in his daily strife—than others in their hours of rest!

The highway of holiness is the highway of sweet communion with Jesus. It is thus we shall hope to win the crown, if we are enabled by divine grace faithfully to follow Christ "outside the camp."

The cross of separation—will be followed by the crown of glory!

A moment's shame—will be well recompensed by eternal honor when we are "forever with the Lord!"

    ~ ~ ~ ~


(Charles Spurgeon)

"Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth!" Song of Solomon 1:2

Let us seek the same desires after our Lord, as those which glowed in the heart of the elect spouse.

How bold is her love! See how she leaps at once to Him—there are no prefatory words; she does not even mention His name; she is in the heart of her theme at once, for she speaks of Him who was the only "Him" in the world to her!

It was much condescension which permitted the weeping penitent to anoint His feet with spikenard.
It was rich love which allowed the gentle Mary to sit at His feet and learn of Him.
But here love—strong, fervent love, aspires to higher tokens of regard and more intimate fellowship.

trembled in the presence of king Ahasuerus; but here the spouse in joyful liberty of perfect love, knows no fear. If we have received the same loving spirit—we also may ask the like kisses.

By "kisses" we suppose to be intended those varied manifestations of affection by which the believer is made to enjoy the love of Jesus.

The kiss of reconciliation we enjoyed at our conversion, and it was as sweet as honey dropping from the comb.

The kiss of acceptance is still warm on our brow, as we know that He has accepted us through His rich grace.

The kiss of daily communion is that which we pant after to be repeated day after day
—until it is changed into the kiss of reception, which removes the soul from earth,
and the kiss of consummation which fills it with the joy of Heaven!

Faith is the road—but communion with Jesus is the well from which the pilgrim drinks.

O Lover of our souls, do not be distant to us.
Let the lips of Your blessing—meet the lips of our asking!
Let the lips of Your fullness—touch the lips of our need, and straightway the kiss will be effected!

    ~ ~ ~ ~

The diamond in that ring!

(Thomas Brooks, "The Crown and Glory of Christianity, or, HOLINESS, the Only Way to Happiness", 1662)

The whole of Scripture is but one entire love-letter, all written in golden letters, dispatched from the Lord Christ to His beloved spouse on earth. In it, there is so much to be read of . . .
  the love of Christ,
  the heart of Christ,
  the kindness of Christ,
  the grace of Christ, and
  the glory of Christ,
that a holy heart cannot but love, and embrace, and endeavor to conform to every line.

The whole Word of God is a field—and Christ is the treasure which is hidden in that field!

The whole Word of God is a ring of gold—and Christ is the diamond in that ring!

"The Scriptures point to Me!" John 5:39

    ~ ~ ~ ~


(Charles Spurgeon)

"A great multitude of the people followed Him, including women who mourned and wailed for Him." Luke 23:27

Amid the rabble crowd which hounded the Redeemer to His doom, there were some gracious souls whose bitter anguish sought vent in wailing and lamentations—fit music to accompany that march of woe!

When my soul can, in imagination, see the Savior bearing His cross to Calvary—she joins the godly women and weeps with them; for, indeed, there is true cause for my grief—cause lying deeper than those mourning women thought. They bewailed . . .

But my heart has a deeper and more bitter cause to mourn—MY SINS were the scourges which lacerated those blessed shoulders, and crowned that bleeding brow with thorns!

My sins cried, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" and laid the cross upon His gracious shoulders! His being led forth to die, is sorrow enough for one eternity; but MY having been His murderer—is more, infinitely more grief, than one poor fountain of tears can express! Those women who loved and wept—could not have had greater reasons for love and grief, than my poor heart has!

The widow of Nain saw her son restored—but I myself have been raised to newness of life!
Peter's mother-in-law was cured of the fever—but I myself have been cured of the plague of sin!
Mary Magdalene had seven devils cast out of her—but a whole legion of devils were cast out of me!
Mary and Martha were favored with visits from Jesus—but He dwells with me!

I am not behind these holy women in debt to Jesus—let me not be behind them in gratitude or sorrow.

"Love and grief my heart dividing,
 With my tears His feet I'll lave;
 Constant still in heart abiding,
 Weep for Him who died to save!"

"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

Infinite grief! amazing woe!
Behold my bleeding Lord!
Hell and the Jews conspired His death,
And used the Roman sword.

O, the sharp pangs of smarting pain
My dear Redeemer bore,
When knotty whips and ragged thorns
His sacred body tore!

But knotty whips and ragged thorns
In vain do I accuse;
In vain I blame the Roman bands,
And the more spiteful Jews.

'Twere you, my sins, my cruel sins,
His chief tormentors were;
Each of my crimes became a nail,
And unbelief the spear!

'Twere you that pulled the vengeance down
Upon His guiltless head;
Break, break, my heart! O burst, mine eyes!
And let my sorrows bleed.

Strike, mighty grace, my flinty soul,
Till melting waters flow,
And deep repentance drowns my eyes,
In sincere and bitter woe!
   Isaac Watts, 1674-1748

    ~ ~ ~ ~

Then the scum appears!

(Thomas Brooks, "The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod" or, "The Silent Soul with Sovereign Antidotes" 1659)

"I have tried you in the furnace of affliction." Isaiah 48:10

Few Christians see themselves and understand themselves rightfully.
By trials, God reveals much of a man's sinful self to his pious self.

When the fire is put under the pot—then the scum appears!
Just so, when God tries a poor soul, Oh! how does . . .
  the scum of pride,
  the scum of murmuring,
  the scum of distrust,
  the scum of impatience,
  the scum of worldliness,
  the scum of carnality,
  the scum of foolishness,
  the scum of willfulness
—reveal itself in the heart of the poor creature!

Trials are God's looking-glass, in which His people see their own faults. Oh! . . .
  that looseness,
  that vileness,
  that wretchedness,
  that sink of filthiness,
  that gulf of wickedness,
which trials show to be in their hearts!

"When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold!" Job 23:10

"Trials make the promise sweet,
 Trials give new life to prayer;
 Trials bring me to His feet,
 Lay me low, and keep me there!"

    ~ ~ ~ ~

Take both sorrow and sin to the same place!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Look upon my affliction and my pain—and forgive all my sins." Psalm 25:18

It is well for us when prayers about our sorrows are linked with pleas concerning our sins—when, being under God's hand, we are not wholly taken up with our pain—but remember our offences against God.

It is well, also, to take both sorrow and sin to the same place.
It was to God that David carried his sorrow—it was to God that David confessed his sins.

We must take our sorrows to God. Even your little sorrows you may roll upon God—for He counts the hairs of your head. You may also may commit your great sorrows to Him—for He holds the ocean in the hollow of His hand. Go to Him, whatever your present trouble may be—and you shall find Him both able and willing to support you.

But we must also take our sins to God. We must carry them to the cross, that the blood may fall upon them to purge away their guilt, and to destroy their defiling power.

The special lesson of the text is this—that we are to go to the Lord with sorrows and with sins in the right frame of heart.
Note that all David asks concerning his sorrow is, "Look upon my affliction and my pain."
But the next petition is vastly more express, definite, decided, and plain, "Forgive all my sins!"

Many sufferers would have put it, "Remove my affliction and my pain—and look at my sins."

But David does not say so. He cries, "Lord, as for my affliction and my pain, I will not dictate to Your wisdom. Lord, look at them—I will leave them to You to do as You think best. I would be glad to have my pain removed—but do as You will. But as for my sins, Lord, I must have them forgiven! I cannot endure to lie under their defiling power for a moment!"

A Christian counts his sorrow lighter in the scale, than his sin. He can bear that his troubles should continue—but he cannot support the burden of his transgressions.

    ~ ~ ~ ~

All the Hell that you shall ever have!

("The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod" or, "The Silent Soul with Sovereign Antidotes" by Thomas Brooks, 1659)

Consider Christian, that all your . . .
  trials and troubles,
  calamities and miseries,
  crosses and losses,
which you meet with in this world—is all the Hell that you shall ever have!

Here and now, you have your Hell.
Hereafter, you shall have your Heaven!

This present life is the worst of your condition—the best is yet to come!

Lazarus had his Hell first—and his Heaven last.
Dives had his Heaven first—and his Hell at last.

You have all your pangs, and pains, and throes here—that ever you shall have!
Your ease, and rest, and pleasure—is yet to come.

Here you have all your bitters—your sweets are yet to come!

Here you have your sorrows—your joys are yet to come.

Here you have all your winter nights—your summer days are yet to come!

Here you have your evil things—your good things are yet to come.

Death will put an end to all your sins, and to all your sufferings!

Death will be an inlet to those joys, delights, and comforts—which shall never have an end!

Who can seriously meditate upon this, and not be silent under God's most smarting rod?

    ~ ~ ~ ~

Everything on this side Hell is mercy!

("The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod" or, "The Silent Soul with Sovereign Antidotes" by Thomas Brooks, 1659)

"I was silent; I would not open my mouth, for You are the one who has done this!" Psalm 39:9

Oh! labor every day to be more humble and more low and little in your own eyes. "Who am I," says the humble soul—"to complain of trials. I am not worthy of the least mercy, I deserve not a crumb of mercy, I have forfeited every mercy!"

It is only pride that puts men upon complaining and contending with God.

A humble soul will lie quiet at the foot of God; it will be contented with bare necessities. A dinner of green herbs is relished to the humble man's palate; whereas a stalled ox is but a coarse dish to a proud man's stomach.

A humble heart looks upon . . .
  small mercies as great mercies;
  and great afflictions as small afflictions;
  and small afflictions as no afflictions;
  and therefore sits mute and quiet under all.

Do but keep humble, and you will keep silent before the Lord.

Pride kicks, and grumbles, and frets—but a humble man has still his hand upon his mouth. Everything on this side Hell is mercy—much mercy, rich mercy to a humble soul; and therefore he remains mute under God's smarting rod.

John Berridge: "The heaviest afflictions on this side Hell—are less, far less than my iniquities have deserved! Oh, boundless grace! The chastening rod of a reconciled Father, might have been the flaming sword of an avenging Judge! I might now have been weeping and wailing with devils and damned spirits in Hell! I will bear the indignation of the Lord—because I have sinned against Him. It is of His mercy alone, that I am not consumed!"

Ruth Bryan: "Seek a resigned, submissive will—it will greatly lighten every outward cross. Murmuring thoughts ill become worms who deserve the lowest Hell; everything on this side Hell is more than we deserve."

    ~ ~ ~ ~

The birthmarks of a true child of God

(Al Martin)

"How may I be certain that I am saved?"

To live and to die believing a wrong answer has horrific and irreversible consequences!

The Spirit of God guided John to write his first epistle in order to help professing Christians give the right answer to this all-important question (1 John 5:13). John describes the convictions and patterns of life that are true of every one who has been born of the Holy Spirit and united to Jesus Christ. I have designated these as "the birthmarks of a true child of God." John identifies at least five such birthmarks. It is important to note that John uses present-tense verbs, indicating a pattern of ongoing action and conviction.

(1) Faith in the Christ of Scripture. We read in 5:1 that "everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God." This birthmark is also emphasized in 1 John 5:6; 1 John 2:18-19; 1 John 2:23-25; 1 John 4:2-3; and 1 John 5:10.

(2) Pursuit of a life of Christlike holiness and personal righteousness. In 1 John 2:29, John writes, "If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him." This birthmark is further insisted upon in 1 John 1:5-7; 1 John 2:6; 1 John 3:2-3; 3:4-10; and 1 John 5:18-19.

(3) Pursuit of a life of obedience to God's commandments. John's words in 2:3-5 affirm this birthmark with unmistakable clarity: "By this we know that we have come to know him if we keep his commandments. Whoever says 'I know him' but does not keep his commandments is a liar and the truth is not in him." See also 1 John 2:17; 1 John 3:24; and 1 John 5:3.

(4) A life of brotherly love. John writes in 1 John 3:14: "We know we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and . . . no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." This statement is buttressed by similar assertions in 1 John 2:8-10; 1 John 3:11; 1 John 4:7-8; 1 John 4:12; 1 John 4:20-21; and 1 John 5:1.

(5) An experience of the manifold ministries of the Holy Spirit.
In 1 John 2:20, John asserts that true children of God will remain in fellowship with the church and the Apostolic truth present in the church because they have been anointed by the Holy One. Other aspects of the Spirit's ministry to everyone who has been born again are found in 1 John 2:27; 1 John 3:24; 1 John 4:8; and 1 John 4:13.

The things John has written in order that we may "know that we have eternal life" must never be looked upon as the basis upon which we possess eternal life (1 John 5:13). John has clearly asserted that "whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life" (1 John 5:12). These various "birthmarks" are the inevitable and necessary evidences that we "have the Son," but they are not the Son who is our righteousness Himself. Nevertheless, without these birthmarks, our claim to know that we are saved is utterly without a biblical foundation.

    ~ ~ ~ ~

We see hands, and feet and side—all distilling crimson streams of precious blood

(Charles Spurgeon)

"The precious blood of Christ!" 1 Peter 1:19

Standing at the foot of the cross, we see hands, and feet and side—all distilling crimson streams of precious blood.

It is precious because of its redeeming and atoning efficacy. By it . . .
  the sins of Christ's people are atoned for;
  they are redeemed from under the law;
  they are reconciled to God, made one with Him.

Christ's blood is also precious in its cleansing power. It "cleanses from all sin." "Though your sins be as scarlet—they shall be as white as snow!" Through Jesus' blood, there is not a spot left upon any believer—no wrinkle nor any such thing remains. O precious blood, which makes us clean, removing the stains of abundant iniquity, and permitting us to stand accepted in the Beloved, notwithstanding the many ways in which we have rebelled against our God.

The blood of Christ is likewise precious in its preserving power. We are safe from the destroying angel under the sprinkled blood. Remember it is God's seeing the blood—which is the true reason for our being spared. Here is comfort for us when our eye of faith is dim, for God's eye is still the same.

The blood of Christ is precious also in its sanctifying influence. The same blood which justifies by taking away sin, does in its after-action, quicken the new nature and leads it onward to subdue sin and to follow out the commands of God. There is no motive for holiness so great—as that which streams from the veins of Jesus!

And precious, unspeakably precious, is this blood—because it has an overcoming power. It is written, "They overcame through the blood of the Lamb." How could they do otherwise? He who fights with the precious blood of Jesus—fights with a weapon which cannot know defeat.

The precious blood of Jesus!
  Sin dies at its presence.
  Death ceases to be death.
  Heaven's gates are opened.

The precious blood of Jesus! We shall march on, conquering and to conquer, so long as we can trust its power!

    ~ ~ ~ ~

Marthas and Marys

J. C. Ryle, Mary & Martha, Luke 10:38-42)

Observe how different the characters and personalities of true Christians may be. The two sisters of whom we read in this passage were both faithful disciples. Both had believed. Both had been converted. Both had honored Christ, when few gave Him honor. Both loved Jesus—and Jesus loved both of them. Yet they were evidently women of very different character!

Martha was active, stirring and impulsive; feeling strongly, and speaking out all she felt.
Mary was quiet, still and contemplative; feeling deeply, but saying less than she felt.

Martha, when Jesus came to her house, rejoiced to see Him, and busied herself with preparing suitable refreshment.
, also, rejoiced to see Him, but her first thought was to sit at His feet and hear His word.

Grace reigned in both hearts—but each showed the effects of grace in different ways.

We shall find it very useful to ourselves to remember this lesson.
We must not expect all believers in Christ to be exactly like one another.
We must not set down others as having no grace, because their experience does not entirely tally with our own.

The sheep in the Lord's flock have each their own peculiarities.

The flowers in the Lord's garden are not all precisely alike.

All true servants of God agree in the principal things of religion.
All are led by one Spirit.
All feel their sins, and all trust in Christ.
All repent, all believe, and all are holy.
But in minor matters, they often differ widely.

Let no one despise another on this account.

There will be Marthas and there will be Marys in the Church, until the Lord comes again.