Grace Gems for DECEMBER, 2020

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The last pang, and groan, and tear!

(J.A. James, "Afflictions")

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The Christian also looks to the end of afflictions! The end may sometimes come in this world. In reference to this, the utmost that the believer can be sure of is that they will end in God's time.

They may last for his whole life.
The sickness which afflicts his body may be unto death.
The loss which he has sustained in his property may be irreparable,
and poverty may go down with him to the grave.
The trial which beclouds and distresses his spirits may be his lot for life.

But on the other hand, they may not! God may be bringing him "through fire and through water to bring him out into a wealthy place." But the Christian leaves all this in the hand of God, and endeavors to maintain a hope which shall save him from despondency—checked at the same time by a reverence that guards him from unwarranted presumption.

But if the end of the trial should not come in this world—it will come in the next world, when they will not only forever cease, but leave an eternal blessing behind! "I reckon that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us!" "Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory!"

Four things are set forth in these passages:

1. Our afflictions will have a termination! This is sweet. They are to end—they are not to last forever! The last pang, and groan, and tear are at hand—and how near, the Christian never knows!

2. Our afflictions are not to end like those of the brute creation—in the grave merely, but in Heaven! The last pang, and groan, and tear are to usher in that blessed state of which it is so beautifully said, "The Lamb who is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters—and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes!" Heaven shall terminate all the afflictions of the righteous!

3. Heaven is so glorious, that the first view of its scenes, and the first moment of its enjoyment—shall make amends for the longest life of the most protracted and intense sufferings!

4. The sufferings of our earthly pilgrimage will enhance and increase the felicities of Heaven!
Their submissive endurance;
the graces which they call into exercise;
the sanctification which they promote;
the heavenly temper which they cultivate—
will be the means of ripening the spirit, and making it fit for its eternal inheritance!

Every tear that is shed,
every groan that is heaved,
every loss that is sustained,
every moment of suffering that is endured,
every disappointment that is experienced, which is borne with patience, with resignation, with unwearied holiness
—will not only be followed with millions of ages of ineffable felicity, but will prepare the soul for its enjoyment, and add something to its weight and its luster!

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A cold chill fell upon their hearts!

(J.A. James, "The Christian Professor" 1837)

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It has frequently occurred that young converts in the ardor of their first love, and while much unacquainted as yet, with what is called the 'religious world', have looked upon the church as a 'sacred enclosure', within which dwelt a kind of heavenly inhabitants, who could think or speak of little else than the glory which awaited them. In the church these novices expected to find . . .
  the sweetest and holiest fellowship,
  an almost unearthly spirituality, and
  an uninterrupted strain of pious conversation.

But alas! What a woeful disappointment did the reality produce! In the 'sacred enclosure' they found worldly-minded professors—almost as intent upon seen and temporal things, as those they had left out in the world!

In the 'vestibule of heaven', they beheld professors . . .
  covered with the 'earthly dust',
  disordered with worldly concerns,
  and given up to worldly amusements!

In the church members, they saw little but worldly conduct, and heard little else but worldly conversation!

A cold chill fell upon their hearts, which checked the ardor of their pious affections; and even they, lately so fervent, soon sunk and settled down into the lukewarmness of those among whom they had come to dwell.

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I follow like a little blind child

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

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"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

Strong faith has a firm persuasion of God's over-ruling Providence—so comprehensive as to include the destinies of empires and worlds; and so minute as to extend to individuals. Strong faith believes that God's Providence is . . .
  ever active,
  ever directing,
  ever controlling, and
  ever subordinating
—all things to His own purposes and plans.

Strong faith is a conviction of this great truth—so deep, so satisfying, and so tranquilizing—as not at all to be shaken by the chaotic aspect of human affairs, or the prevalence of gigantic evils.

A weak faith must give way before . . .
  the deep mysteries,
  the confounding events,
  the defeats of what is good, and
  the triumphs of what is evil
—which are perpetually going on in our world's history.

The stream of Providence is . . .
  so twisting,
  so dark,
  apparently so murky, and
  occasionally so devastating;
that it requires strong faith believe that it is the work of God and not of chance; and that if it is the work of God—it must be just, and wise and good.

In the darkest dispensations of Providence affecting ourselves, strong faith realizes that it is all from God; and must therefore be wise, and just, and good. To be able really say, "It is well. I am sure it is right. I cannot tell how it is right. I do not understand why this deep afflictive Providence came. I can find no key to unlock the mystery. But I am as confident that it is right, as if God's whole purpose were transparent to my reason, and I could see the event in all its connections, bearings, and results. I cannot see how or why—but I believe that my deep affliction is for God's glory and my ultimate benefit. I know that God causes everything to work together for good."

Faith assures us that the darker, the more confounding, the more disappointing events—are all right and just and good.

Strong faith walks on amid shadows and darkness, grasping the arm of God, believing that He is leading us, and will lead us right. Strong faith gives up all into His hands, saying, "I cannot even see a glimmering of light! I cannot see where to place my next step! But I can most implicitly trust in the wisdom, power and truth of God! I follow like a little blind child, grasping the hand of his father!"

Times of great troubles and difficulties, are seasons and opportunities for the exercise of faith. God is always the Christian's best refuge—and often his only one! He is sometimes reduced to extremity and is compelled to say, "He alone is my rock and my salvation! My help comes only from the Lord! No one else will help me—no one else can!"

Sense and reason both fail. No door of escape presents itself—nor any way of relief. There is nothing left for him to do, but to take up the promise and carry it in the hand of faith, knock by prayer at the door of mercy, and as he stands there to say, "Find rest, O my soul, in God alone! My hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation! He is my fortress, I will not be shaken. Yes, Lord, You have bid me come, when I could go nowhere else. And here according to your command and promise I will remain—waiting, trembling, yet believing and hoping. I am sure You will come and help me. My heavenly Father knows the necessities of His poor helpless child, and He will come in His own time, and in His own way, and I will wait for him. My bread will be given me, and my water will be sure."

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What a Heaven!

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

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Heaven will consist of . . .
  the moral perfection of the soul,
  perfect knowledge,
  perfect holiness,
  perfect love,
  perfect likeness to Christ,
  perfection of the body in . . .
      incorruptibility,
      immortality,
      glory, and
      spirituality;
  the presence of God in the full manifestation of His glory,
  the beatific vision of Christ,
  the fellowship of angels and all the redeemed,
  the joint worship of the heavenly multitudes,
  the perfect service of Christ, without . . .
      interruption,
      imperfection, or
      cessation;
  complete freedom from . . .
      pain,
      toil,
      hunger,
      thirst,
      anxiety,
      fear,
      sorrow,
      death!

Such is the substance of heavenly felicity. Take any one of them by itself � and each is a Heaven! Add them altogether—and what a Heaven!

How pure! How elevated! How felicitous!

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Do you indeed ACT as you pray?

(J.A. James, "Prayer and Practice")

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I need not prove to you that prayer, as a duty, is essential to Christian conduct; and, as a privilege, prayer is equally indispensable to Christian enjoyment. All Christians give themselves to this devout exercise. Their petitions are copious, comprehensive, and seemingly earnest.

What solemn professions they make to God!

What ardent desires they express!

What numerous blessings they seek!

What strong resolutions they form!

If we so pray—how ought we to live? What kind of people must we be, to live up to the standard of our prayers? And ought we not, in some measure at least, to reach this standard? Should there not be a harmony, a consistency, a proportion—between our practice and our prayers?

Do you indeed ACT as you pray?
Do you understand the import, and feel the obligation of your own petitions? Do you rise from your knees where you have asked and knocked—to seek? Do you really want, wish for, and endeavor to obtain an answer to your prayers? Are you really intent upon doing and being, what you ask for in prayer?

Our prayers are to act upon ourselves; they have, or ought to have, great power in the formation of character and the regulation of conduct.

It is plain, therefore, that much of prayer is mere words. We either do not understand, or do not consider, or do not mean—what we say.

Do we go from praying—to acting, and to live for Jesus, for Heaven, for eternity?

How common is it for professors . . .
  to pray for victory over the world;
  to be delivered from the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life;
  to be enabled to set their affections on things above, and not on things of the earth;
  and to be dead to seen and temporal things.
And yet all the while they are as obviously eager . . .
  to amass wealth,
  to multiply the attractions of earth, and
  to enjoy as much luxurious gratification as possible!

'Spirituality of mind' is the subject of innumerable prayers from some who never take a step to promote it! But, on the contrary, who are doing all they can to make themselves carnally-minded! How many repeat that petition, "Lead us not into temptation," who, instead of most carefully keeping at the utmost possible distance from all inducements to sin, place themselves in the very path of sin!

How often do we pray to have the mind of Christ, and to imitate the example of Jesus. But where is the assiduous endeavor, the laboring effort, to copy this high model in .  . .
  its self-denying condescension,
  its profound humility,
  its beautiful meekness,
  its indifference to worldly comforts,
  its forgiving mercy,
  its devotedness to God?

How often do we pray to be delivered from evil tempers and irascible feelings; and yet we indulge them on every slight provocation, and take no pains to subdue them!

It is unnecessary to multiply the illustrations of the inconsistency between our prayers and our practice.


 
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The silent influence in parental conduct

(J.A. James, "The Christian Professor" 1837)

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Parents have a great power of influence over the minds and hearts of their children. Their children are almost continually with them—they are seen by them in nearly all they do, in their habitual conduct, and character at home. They are . . .
  heard in what they say;
  seen in what they do;
  studied in all their behavior;
by little ears, and eyes and minds, which are scarcely ever closed!

The child's heart is soft and pliable to a father's or a mother's influence. Their constant influence has been molding him from the dawn of reason. What, then, ought to be the parents' behavior at home? The whole cultivation, and direction, and management of a child's mind, from the very dawn of reason, should be carried on with special reference to the formation of Christian character. This should be the one thing, to which all other things should be subordination.

The silent influence in parental conduct
is far greater, either for good or for evil, than most parents are aware of. They teach by what they say, they influence by what they do; and also by what they do not say, and do not perform.

The pious parents, who embody a meek, benevolent, ardent and consistent godliness in their character, exert a tremendous influence over the minds of their children!

But oh! the dreadful contrast in the case of those parents who are characterized by . . .
  ungodly dispositions,
  worldly associations,
  mirthful and extravagant living,
  trifling conversation, and
  lack of all seriousness and spirituality.

Oh! what can be expected from such parents—but children who regard their religion with disgust?

Every man is best known at home. Parents are ever doing something to prejudice their children in favor of true religion—or to prejudice them against it; doing something to draw them into the church—or to drive them into the world; lending a helping hand to lead then to heaven—or taking them by the hand and leading them to Hell.

Parents! Must you employ your influence in ruining the souls of your children—and sending them to perdition? Oh! tremble at the interview you must have with them at the day of judgment, and the dialog you must hold with them forever in the bottomless pit!!

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Other Baals!

(J.A. James, "The Young Man's Friend and Guide Through Life to Immortality")

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"How long are you going to waver between two opinions? If Jehovah is God, follow Him! But if  Baal is God, then follow him!" 1 Kings 18:21

There are other Baals in this age, in all the various forms under which they are objects of human idolatry.

It is true that you are not called, invited or disposed—to bow the knee to idols of wood, stone or metal. These, however, are not the only way in which idolatry may be practiced. Everyone has a god, and if man does not love and worship Jehovah, he will make a deity of his own image.

Survey the idols which you are called upon to worship
:

Among them, sustaining a high place, is the vile idol of SENSUALITY. This goddess is decked out with all that can pollute the imagination, inflame the passions, or excite the evil propensities of the heart. Before this image, multitudes of devotees of both sexes bow the knee and offer the most costly sacrifices of property, health, virtue and reputation!

Near her is the bewitching and smiling image of WORLDLY PLEASURE, with the sound of music, the song and the dance—alluring the giddy and thoughtless to its orgies; and throwing the spell of its fascinations over the imagination of multitudes who go merrily to their eternal ruin!

MAMMON, the despicable deity of wealth, is there—glittering with gold, and offering riches to his eager followers as the reward of their diligent and faithful adherence. His liturgy is the cry of "Money! Money! Money!" His sacrifices are the time, the bodies, the comfort, and the souls of his worshipers!

Near this is the shrine of HUMAN KNOWLEDGE. This idol is only evil, when raised above the place of faith, piety and virtue. When thus exalted above Scripture, it is a deceiving, corrupting idol—the false goddess of a Pantheon of Vices.

Nor must we leave out the idols of FALSE RELIGION, the chief of which is Popery—the anti-Christ of the Apocalypse, "the Man of Sin sitting in the temple of God, exalting itself above all that is called God." This idol, taking the name of Christ as its designation, assuming the cross as its symbol, and boasting of an apostle as its first pope; enriched by wealth; venerable for antiquity; dignified by learning; decorated by sculpture, architecture, and painting; and adding the abysmal policies and most serpentine craft to all these other dangerous qualities—has fascinated countless millions! And, notwithstanding the monstrous absurdity of its doctrines, the blood-stained page of its history, and its hostility to the liberties of mankind—is now putting forth the most arrogant claims, and making the most audacious attempts for the conquest of our country!

These idolaters have chosen their god, and are the determined and devoted worshipers of their Baals! They have hardened their hearts and seared their consciences—except it be an occasional qualm in the season of death or sickness.

They congratulate themselves upon their having thrown off all the weaknesses and fears of Christianity, and upon their being now enabled to pursue their Hell-ward course unchecked by the restraint of conscience. Duped men, blind, and boasting in their blindness—are benumbed in all their moral faculties, and exulting in their stupidity! With every tie cut which held them to piety and truth, they account it a privilege that they are drifting unobstructed to eternal destruction—determined to be lost, and rejoicing that nothing bars their path to the bottomless pit!

"These men have set up idols in their hearts!" Ezekiel 14:3

"Their hearts were devoted to their idols!" Ezekiel 20:16

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This heavenly light of truth

(John Angell James)

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"All Scripture is inspired by God, and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17

The doctrines of Scripture are facts which involve corresponding emotions and principles of action, and must, from their very nature, if believed, be operative upon the heart and the life.

If the doctrines of Scripture . . .
  exert no godly influence,
  carry with them no practical weight,
  exert no moral power—
they are not truly believed.

The doctrines of Scripture are at once . . .
  the source of consolation, and
  the means of sanctification.

The doctrines of Scripture . . .
  come into the mind as knowledge,
  produce peace and love in the heart,
  and spread the beauties of holiness over the character and conduct.

The doctrines of Scripture are
light; and like the rays of the sun, they sustain life at the root of the vine, and produce fruit on its branches.

This heavenly light of truth gives . . .
  spiritual vitality to the soul,
  and holy conduct to the life.

"For our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction." 1 Thessalonians 1:5

"Sanctify them by the truth; Your Word is truth." John 17:17

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Men may see something of God in me!

(J.A. James, "Forgiveness of Injuries")

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"For I have given you an example that you also should do just as I have done for you." John 13:15

It has long been my conviction, that there is a great deficiency in evangelical churches—of the practical enforcement of Christian duties in detail; especially of what may be emphatically called the Christian virtues—the passive graces of the Christian character, the exercise of brotherly kindness and love.

It is not so acceptable to have all the special and difficult duties of the Christian's life, or man's conduct to his fellows, set clearly before the understanding and enforced upon the conscience. Men do not like to be . . .
  followed through all the labyrinths of the heart's deceitfulness,
  beaten out of every refuge of lies, and
  made to feel the obligation to love, where they are inclined to hate;
  and to forgive where they desire to revenge.

And we ministers pander too much to this taste. The pulpit has not done its duty. We have preached to the intellect, to the imagination, and to the taste—but not enough to the heart and to the conscience. In our endeavor to please, we have not been sufficiently intent upon the greater object—to profit. We have not preached justification too much—but sanctification too little. We have urged faith—but not love. We have descanted upon the evil of licentiousness, and falsehood, and dishonesty, and covetousness—but have said far, far too little about malice and bitterness. We have urged men to zeal and liberality—but not enough to humility, forbearance, and forgiveness. We have rightly led men to view the cross of Christ—but we have not sufficiently urged them to take up their own cross. We have properly entreated them to view Jesus as their Righteousness—but not sufficiently as their Example.

O, Christians . . .
  study that wondrous character,
  contemplate that illustrious pattern,
  dwell upon that beautiful model,
until the frosty incrustations of your cold, hard heart have all melted, like icicles before the sun!

How wonderful and how ennobling is the conception, and what an ambition should it raise in the mind of the Christian, to consider and say, "Men may see something of God in me!" Yes, we can teach them what God is, as to His moral character, and let them see in 'our merciful disposition' a ray of the infinite sun of His own glory. These sweet relentings of our nature, these soft and genial currents of our soul, these effusions of love—these, we can remind them, are but the overflowings of His goodness, His own love into our hearts, and the reflection of His infinite mercy to us.

"The one who says he abides in Him, should walk just as He walked." 1 John 2:6

"Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in His steps." 1 Peter 2:21

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He who trifles with it is a fool!

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

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"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. They try to forget it, 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 antecedents of death are dreadful. So are the accompaniments, 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

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A lamb with a wolf's head!

(J.A. James, "Christian Fellowship" 1822)

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"Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart" Matthew 11:29

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." Philippians 2:5

Christians should excel in the manifestation of Christ's character. The mind which was in Jesus, should be in them. They should consider His character as a model of their own; and be conspicuous for their . . .
  poverty of spirit,
  meekness,
  gentleness,
  and love.

It is matter of surprise and regret, that many people seem to think that Christianity has nothing to do with character! And that provided they are free from gross sins, and have lively feelings in devotional exercises, they may be as petulant, irritable, and implacable as they please! This is a dreadful error, and has done great mischief to the cause of God!

A sour, ill-natured Christian is like a lamb with a wolf's head; or like a dove with a vulture's beak!

If there be any one word which above all others should describe a Christian's character, it is that which represents his divine Father; and as it is said, that 'God is love', so should it be also affirmed, that a Christian is love—love embodied, an incarnation of love! His words, his conduct, his very looks—should be so many expressions of love!

"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us!" Ephesians 4:32-5:2

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Wholly taken up with contriving methods of amusing themselves!

Concerning the performing of 'Handel's Messiah' John Newton wrote:

How shall we view the people of our times? I see the great mass of people involved in one common charge of high treason against the omnipotent God! They are already in a state of guilt—but have not yet been brought to their trial. The evidence against them is so plain, strong and pointed, that there is not the least doubt of their guilt being fully proved—and that nothing but a free pardon from God can preserve them from their deserved eternal punishment!

In this situation, it would seem in their best interest to avail themselves of every expedient in their power for obtaining God's mercy. But they are entirely heedless of their imminent danger, and are wholly taken up with contriving methods of amusing themselves—that they may pass away their short time on earth with as much levity as possible!

Among other resources, they call in the assistance of music—and they are particularly pleased with the performing of 'Handel's Messiah'. They choose to make . . .
  the solemnities of their impending judgment,
  the character of their Judge,
  the methods of His procedure, and
  the dreadful punishment to which they are exposed,
the themes of their musical entertainment!


And, as if they were quite unconcerned in their upcoming judgment—their attention is chiefly fixed upon the skill of the composer, in adapting the style of his music to the very solemn subjects with which they are trifling!

The offended King, however, unasked by them, and out of His great mercy and compassion towards those who have no pity for themselves—sends them a gracious message. He assures them that He is unwilling that they should eternally perish; and that He requires—yes, He entreats them to submit to Him! He points out a way in which He offers them a free and a full pardon!

But, instead of taking a single step towards a compliance with His undeserved and gracious offer—they set His message to music! And this, together with a description of their present hopeless state, and of the fearful doom awaiting them if they continue obstinate—is sung for their entertainment, and accompanied with every kind of music!

Surely, if such a case as I have supposed could be found in real life, though I might admire the musical taste of these people—I would certainly commiserate their stupidity and hardness of heart!

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A poor, weak, and trembling creature

(John Angell James, "Christian Progress" 1853)

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"He will feed His flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart." Isaiah 40:11

Dwell upon the love and tenderness of our Lord Jesus!

Notice who are the objects of His care: "the lambs," which means not only those of tender age—but also those who have been newly converted; those who are young in Christian experience; and also those whose temperament is naturally timid, whose strength is feeble, and whose danger is great.

Yes, you are the objects of Christ's special attention, care and solicitude! You are those whom He takes up in the arms of His power, and lays on the bosom of His love! He knows . . .
  your weakness,
  your timidity,
  your dangers!

He will exert for you . . .
  His tenderest sympathy,
  His greatest vigilance,
  His mightiest power.

This expression however not only conveys the idea of great care of the weak—but the exercise of that care with a view to their preservation and growth. It means not only that He will . . .
  cordially receive them,
  provide for their safety,
  be concerned for their comfort, and
  accommodate His conduct to their needs—
but He will also nourish them through their infant existence, and raise them up to maturity and strength.

Let every lamb of the flock of Christ, therefore, go to Him by faith and prayer, and say: "Blessed Jesus, I come to you as a poor, weak, and trembling creature, doubtful of my own continuance, and alarmed at my numerous difficulties and enemies. I am but a lamb, and often fear I shall never be anything better. But was it not in regard to such weakness that You have been pleased to utter these gracious and tender words? I flee to You as the helpless lamb to its shepherd—when hungry, to feed it—or when pursued by wild beasts, that he may defend it. Lord, take me in the arms of Your power and lay me on the bosom of Your love—though I am so poor and helpless a creature. I will hope in Your nurturing power and love, that I shall continue to grow, and that You will one day rejoice in me, as one of the flock which You have purchased with Your own blood!"

"You are My flock, the sheep of My pasture.
 You are My people, and I am your God.
 I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!" Ezekiel 34:31

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

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The chosen pleasure-ground of our souls

(Henry Law, "Family Prayers". We will be publishing gems by Henry Law over the next month or so. Since many of these are prayers, you may want to pray along with them. You will find them quite uplifting.)

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O God of patience and consolation, glory be to You for this throne of grace.
Make it ever to us—the chosen pleasure-ground of our souls.
May it be the fortress to which continually we flee.
Here may we obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Here may we see by faith, Your reconciled smile.
Here may we rejoice to plead the name of Jesus.
Here may we . . .
  sharpen the sword of the Spirit,
  anoint the shield of faith, and
  put on the helmet of salvation.

By prayer also, may we gather supplies of heavenly manna—even the precious nourishment of Your Word. Thus may we be . . .
  strengthened for each conflict,
  nerved for our upward race, and
  empowered for more than conquest over every foe.
We know that Christ is the open channel for all blessings to descend upon us. Help us to beg, until the sluices of mercy widely open, and our souls are so replenished that there shall be no room to receive more.

We marvel at our cruel folly, that when such enriching favors are within our reach—that we are so slow to extend the hand to take them! Have compassion on our deadness for Your great name's sake. Quicken us, arouse us, stir us up, fill us with holy zeal, put strength into us—that we may strive with You, and refuse to let You go. It is Your glory to be vanquished by the power of prayer. May Your Spirit within us, wrest all spiritual blessings from Your yielding hands!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

It is the vile monster!

(Henry Law, "Family Prayers")

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God Almighty, holy Father,
We beseech You to deepen in our hearts—the abhorrence of all evil.

May we hate sin with perfect hatred.
It is the vile monster
which . . .
  defies Your power,
  casts off Your yoke,
  treads down Your lovely law,
  defiles our nature,
  spreads misery throughout this earth,
  brought death into the world, and
  nailed the spotless Lamb of God to the accursed tree!

Teach us to look to Jesus on the cross—and so to estimate our sin's loathsome guilt in Your sight.

Could there be no pardon of our sin—but through Your dear Son's death?

Could no cleansing could wash out our sin's filth—but Jesus' precious blood?

Could no atonement could expiate the evil of our sin—but the shame, the agony, the bruises of Christ, the incarnate God?

We see the boundless price—may we read therein our boundless guilt!

In the infinite payment—show us our infinite debt!

Thus may we . . .
  discern the deadly viper in its real malignity,
  and tear it with holy indignation from our bosoms,
  and resolutely turn from its every snare,
  and refuse to hold polluting dalliance with it!

"Oh! What a wretched man I am!" Romans 7:24

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The sure conclusion of a godless life!

(Henry Law, "The Gospel in Deuteronomy" 1858)

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"They always heap up their sins to the limit!
 The wrath of God has come upon them at last!"
    1 Thessalonians 2:16

All men are born spiritually dead.

SIN entered with murderous hand.

It planted deep its dagger in the heart.

Knowledge of God,
love of His name,
delight in holy communion,
sweet fellowship with Heaven,
the happy worship of unsullied praise,
the blissful gaze on the Creator's smile,
and all the circle of pure joy
—were buried in a deep grave!

The soul became . . .
  a total wreck,
  a withered tree,
  a dried up stream,
  a wilderness of weeds,
  a starless night,
  a chaos of beclouded thought,
  a rebel's camp,
  the shattered home of misery,
  the region in which death reigned.

The eyes were dim and saw not God.

The face was turned away.

Each step led downward.

The hands were lifted in defiance.

The mouth was opened to blaspheme.

Man was a dying body holding a dead soul.

He moved as an unmixed evil—as a sin-spreading pest.

All this is sad—but there are sadder things yet!

This is tremendous woe—but deeper woe comes on!

This is dark night—but darker shades will deepen yet.

This is full wretchedness—but still the cup may hold more drops.

This fleeting scene must end!

The earthly home must be left!

DEATH comes!

It drives poor sinners to their final home.

And what is that?

Reader, shrink not!

Withdraw the darksome veil.

Look down into the dread abode.

Ponder the lost in their low cells.

HELL is their everlasting doom!

Think not, that hell is the mere phantom of brain-sick thought.
It is no fable fondly framed to scare weak minds.

It is a dreadful reality!
It is a gigantic certainty!

It is the sure conclusion of a godless life!

It is the gulf, to which transgressing streams rush hopelessly.

And it is not far away!
It gapes before the feet!

Another step may plunge the ruined into this abyss!

But hearken!
There is a Savior, who delivers from this death.
There is a friend, who bestows heavenly life.
Jesus appears, and on the cross endures the death and by His righteousness, brings in new life.

Thanks be to "Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath!" 1 Thessalonians 1:10

   ~  ~  ~  ~

For the ungodly!

(Henry Law)

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"Christ died for the ungodly!" Romans 5:6

To redeem poor sinners, Jesus . . .
  came down from Heaven,
  put on the rags of our mortality,
  agonized,
  bled,
  died.

Jesus is made His people's . . .
   substitute,
   burden-bearer,
   sin-remover,
   guilt-sustainer.

Their debt is placed to His account.
His riches pay the full amount.

Sin is removed from the sinner—and placed on the Sinless!

Their curse is rolled on Him—and He endures it until no more remains!

God deals with Jesus as the guilty one!

He, as spotless Deity, receives imputed sins, and fully expiates them all.

In the vicarious victim, God's justice is satisfied, and wrath expires!

Jesus, in His life, in the garden, on the cross . . .
  suffers their sufferings,
  dies their death, and
  so becomes their uttermost salvation!

His pains are their pardon!

His stripes are their healing!

His agony is their recovery!

"Christ died for the ungodly!" Romans 5:6

   ~  ~  ~  ~

We meekly knock at mercy's gate

(Henry Law, "Family Prayers")

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"All of us have become like something unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities carry us away like the wind!" Isaiah 64:6

Holy Father, Almighty God,
We feel our weakness, our ignorance, our deep corruptions. We meekly knock at mercy's gate. Regard us in tender love—for Jesus' sake. Bend down Your ear—and grant Your smile.

We are blind—be our light.

We are ignorant—be our wisdom.

We are steeped in selfishness—pluck all SELF out of us.

In the deep sense of our guilt, we fly for refuge into the wounded side of Jesus!
Be merciful, be merciful unto us—whose only hope is in Your unfailing mercy.

Our sins rise higher than the heavens—but Your merits in our behalf surpass the very heaven of heavens!

Our unrighteousness would weigh us down to hell—but Your glorious righteousness exalts us to Your heavenly throne!

All things in us call for our damnation—but all things in You demand our forgiveness.

We appeal, then, from Your throne of perfect justice—to Your throne of boundless grace!

Blessed Jesus, we hide ourselves in the sure covert of Your wrath-appeasing wounds!

Grant us to hear Your voice assuring us: that by Your stripes we are healed; that You have been bruised for our iniquities; that You have been made sin for us—that we might have Your divine righteousness; and that all our vile and grievous iniquities, are forgiven and buried in the ocean of Your sin-concealing blood!

We are guilty—yet pardoned!

We are lost in ourselves—yet fully saved in You!

Enable us to cling firmly to Your cross—even as we now seek safety and repose beneath its sin-atoning shelter!

Let floods of sustaining grace from Your inexhaustible treasury, enrich our poor and weary souls.

If the enemy approaches, quicken our steps to flee into the wounds of Jesus as our sure refuge! Sheltered in the ark of safety, may we cease to tremble at all alarms. May You our good Shepherd lead us this day into the green pastures of His refreshing Word, and cause us to lie down beside the rivers of Your divine comforts.

These prayers we humbly offer in the name of Jesus Christ, and trusting only in His saving merits. Amen.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The city was full of idols!

(Charles Spurgeon, 1863)

"While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols!" Acts 17:16

With what indignation must the Lord look down upon that apostate harlot, called the Romish Church, when, in all her sanctuaries, there are idolatrous statues, relics and shrines; and poor infatuated beings are even taught to bow before a piece of bread.

In England, Popish idolatry is not so boldly barefaced as it is in other lands; but I have seen it, and my soul has been moved with indignation like that of Paul on Mars' Hill, when he saw the city given up wholly to idolatry. I have seen . . .
  thousands adore the wafer,
  hundreds bow before the statue of the Virgin,
  scores at prayer before a crucifix, and
  companies of men and women adoring a rotten bone or a rusty nail, because it is said to be the relic of a saint.

Purge yourselves, purge yourselves of this leaven! I charge you before God, the Judge of the living and the dead, if you would not be partakers of her plagues, then come out from her, and let your protest be increasingly vehement against this church which exalts itself above God.

Let our Protestant Churches, which have too great a savor of Popery in them, cleanse themselves of her fornications, lest the Lord visit them with fire and pour the plagues of Babylon upon them. Renounce, my brethren, every ceremony which has not Scripture for its warrant; and every doctrine which is not established by the plain testimony of the Word of God. Let us, above all, never by any word or deed, have any complicity with this communion of devils, this gathering together of the sons of Baal. And since our God is a jealous God, let us not provoke Him by any affinity, fellowship, or amity with this Mother of Harlots and abominations of the earth.

"Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." 2 Corinthians 6:17-18

   ~  ~  ~  ~

While we mourn over our many maladies

(Henry Law, "Family Prayers")

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"This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith." 1 John 5:4

While we mourn over our many maladies—we see that increase of faith would be the grand remedy! Our hearts are often . . .
  the cage of every unclean bird,
  the fount of every loathsome desire,
  the deadly fruit of every poisonous tree,
  the open wayside of every earthly lust and passion.
This is because our faith sleeps. Awaken it, good Lord—give it more strength, until all impurity is cast out!

We now go forth to intermingle with the world. This foe is artful to entrap us. It will approach in an enchanting guise. It will extend many a gilded bait, and will present many a poisoned cup. Lord, increase our faith—and we shall scorn every painted bauble, and trample down every bewitching snare! We shall then be more than conquerors, for this is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith!

May our hearts be entirely weaned from the world, dead to its outward enticements, and wholly consecrated unto You. Help us by Your grace—that we may live with You, and to You, during the little speck of our earthly sojourn.

Oh! hear the cry of our anxious hearts, and increase our faith, through the merits and for the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

We offer His blood to pay the debt

(Henry Law, "Family Prayers")

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Lord God Almighty, Father of mercies, screened from all evil by Your gracious providence—we come to encircle You with grateful praise.

We bless You that at every moment the throne of grace has been open, and that the scepter of Your love has been extended to us. Pardon us that our prayers have been so few, so poor, so feeble. While You are always ready to hear, and inviting us to close communion, our souls abide amid trifles, and dally with vain follies. We grovel on earth, when we might ascend through prayer, to Heaven and You. Pity us, good Lord. You know of what we are made. You remember that we are dust. O God, make speed to save us. O Lord, make haste to help us.

We come not in our own name, seeking Your compassionate grace. We bring the name of Your dear Son before You in the arms of our faith. In whatever we have robbed You of obedience, we offer His blood to pay the debt. Impute to our account:
   His worthiness, for our unworthiness;
   His sinlessness, for our sinfulness;
   His purity, for our impurity;
   His sincerity, for our deceit;
   His truth, for our lies;
   His meekness, for our pride;
   His steadfastness, for our backslidings;
   His love, for our enmity;
   His fullness, for our emptiness;
   His glory, for our shame;
   His perfect obedience, for our incessant disobedience;
   His beauty, for our deformity;
   His devotedness to Your will, for our waywardness;
   His holy life, for our unholy ways;
   His perfect righteousness, for our manifold unrighteousnesses.

We hide ourselves in Him. We flee unto Him as our sure city of refuge. We know that in Him, we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of all our sins. We rejoice that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Thus we cry, "Abba, Father!" in the name of Jesus, and retire to rest in peace.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The sword of Divine justice buried in His sinless heart!

(Henry Law, "Family Prayers")

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Holy Father,
We blush to lift up our eyes unto You, O God of all grace and love. Shame and confusion of face humble us to the very dust. Wherever You have been boundless in mercy—we have been abundant in sin! We cannot measure our ingratitude. We cannot estimate our vileness. Each day has added to our guilt. Each scene has witnessed our wicked hearts, our straying feet and our offending tongues. What is there in heaven or in earth, above, around, without, or within—which condemns us not? The sun condemns us, which has seen our misdeeds; the darkness, too, which hides nothing from Your all-penetrating eye!
The cruel accuser justly accuses us.
Your righteous law,
Your holy Word,
our sin-soiled consciences,
our public and our private hours
—write dark things against us! We make no denial. We frame no excuse. We confess, Father, that we have sinned against heaven and before You—and are not worthy to be called Your sons! But still we live!

We live to fly as contrite penitents to Your extended arms!
We know that You will not cast us off—for Jesus brings us near.
You will not condemn us—for Your dear Son died in our place.
You will not mark the mountains upon mountains of our sins—for the Savior has removed them all.
His precious blood has washed out every crimson stain!
Christ's spotless robe of righteousness, covers all our deformities! We put it on by the hand of faith—and we rejoice that we are lovely in His precious loveliness, and beauteous in His matchless beauty.

Open widely the eyes of our faith, that we may see all our justly merited curse, expended on the faultless head of our precious sin-atoning Savior, and the sword of Divine justice buried in His sinless heart!

We come to You . . .
  clinging to His cross,
  sheltered by His side,
  hidden in His wounds,
  cleansed in His blood,
  covered by His spotless robe,
  beautified in His salvation!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Christmas Tradition: Singing Carols to the One They Don't Love

by Jim Elliff

"If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you." John 15:18

"And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds . . ." Colossians 1:21-22

"For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed." John 3:20


O Come, Let US Adore Him.


I'm quite sure you are not into the annual hypocrisy. There we are, sitting in the large public music hall listening to Handel's "Messiah." We're feeling a bit claustrophobic before we start, our coats draped over our shoulders or our chairs, and our bulky sweaters surrounding us like a woolen nest. We're heating up gradually as they sing, "For unto us a child is born; unto us a Son is given." But we warm fully to the inspiring music as they sing, "And the government shall be upon His sho-ho-ho-ho-ho-houlders."

On our crowded row are many who don't believe in Christ yet are just as much enraptured by the music as we are. It's the best of Christmas traditions regardless of the layers of fabric suffocating us—a fine community event with superb music from the finest of our local musicians. It is expected each Christmas season and all of us, unbelievers included, would be disappointed if it were not happening.

These same unbelievers will likely turn up at a local church this Christmas also, which is every bit as much a seasonal event as going to "The Messiah." Maybe they will go on a Sunday morning, or to a candlelight service in the church "mom and dad used to attend."

But these unbelievers do not love Christ. Rather, they are attracted to the opposite—to avoiding Christ all year long. In fact, the Bible teaches that they despise Him and run from Him. And this is the irony of Christmas. The long-anticipated season brings out all kinds of hypocrisy in our neighbors and friends—or in ourselves.

   They don't love what He taught.

   They don't love what He demands.

   They don't love what He causes to happen when people follow Him.

   They don't love the atmosphere of holy people who actually know and follow him.

   They don't love to identify with Him in public unless socially expedient.

   They don't even believe what they sing or hear sung about him at Christmastime. Not really.

In other words, they think that a little bit of Jesus goes a long way, and Christmas and/or Easter is certainly enough to pay respects to the concept. Anything else is, well, less than patriotic. Christmas, if everyone were honest about it all, is a little discomfiting precisely because of Jesus. It might be a lot better without Him involved. But in that this is impossible, they will do their part to keep traditions alive.

But all of this, conveniently, goes unsaid.

Another Jesus

"If one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached . . . you bear this beautifully (2 Corinthians 11:4)" Another Jesus? In fact, "yes." Some people can handle a little bit of Jesus with a certain amount of diffidence. But others must alter their Jesus to another of their own making.

"Another Jesus" might be a Jesus who remains in a manger, or a Jesus who indulges everyone in the world regardless of his or her rejection of Him, or One who does not proceed from the Father and is merely human. There are lots of Christs out there to choose from. Such people try to re-invent Jesus from the One who said hard things and who demanded more than they want to give. They don't want the One who actually was raised from the dead and ascended to the Father and will one day judge the world, and who offers a way of salvation that is too narrowly focused on His way alone. Instead they think up a Jesus who is more compatible with the lusts and sophistry of their own hearts.

Remade in our own image, Jesus can be attractive, even to unbelievers. And it is this Jesus of the imagination that so many can and do celebrate over Christmastime.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The old man yet lives!

(Henry Law, "Family Prayers")

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O ever-watchful Shepherd of Your flock—lead us, guide us, safely tend us this day. Without Your restraining rod, we shall err and stray like lost sheep. Hedge up our paths, lest we be misled into the unwholesome pastures of the world, and drink of its poisonous streams. Direct our feet—lest we be entangled by some secret snare of the devil, or stumble into his hidden pitfalls. Encircle Your fold by Your protecting power, that the roaring lion may not devour, nor any cruel foe assail. Remember Your ransomed flock. Protect and preserve it as the purchase of Your dear Son's blood.

O Lord, we beseech You now to defend us, not only from outward adversaries—but especially from ourselves! We have foes which cleave closer to us than our very skin! We cannot escape them. Help us to elude their enticing wiles. In public and in private, when we come in or go out, whether we rise up or sit down—they cling to our heart! Deliver us from their constant baits and traps. The old man yet lives within us, and is powerful. Help us to nail him to the cross of Jesus! We earnestly desire to put him off with all his foul deeds—and to put on the new man, which is created in righteousness and true holiness. If You speak the word, the victory is ours!

Our best strength is utter weakness. Our firmest resolves are as fleeting as the morning cloud and early dew. In our flesh there dwells no good thing—it is the vile abode of every corrupt desire. It is the den in which all vile passions lurk. Left to ourselves, we fail. But Your Spirit is omnipotent. Oh! then, bid Your Spirit to arise in all His might—and crush our indwelling opponents!

How often do we mourn that when we would do good, evil is present with us. The good that we would do—we cannot do; the evil that we would not do—that we do. We look to You to deliver us from the body of this death. Strengthen us with heavenly aid in the inner man, lest we faint and be weary in the conflict—and yield to our bosom-foes. The enemy is within the citadel! Come with Your almighty power and subdue him. Enable us, therefore, by Your Spirit, to mortify all the deeds of the body.

O Jesus, we are Yours! Other lords have had dominion over us, but now we are Your willing servants. O come then, You who are our Lord, pierce to the death, utterly destroy, abolish in us every particle of carnal self!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The Bible!

(Henry Law, "Beacons of the Bible" 1869)

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The Bible
is the richest treasure of the world!

Without it, the palace is a dark blank.
With it, the poor cottage sparkles with celestial light.

It is the transcript of God's heart.

It tells what human reason is too weak to find.

It is pure truth without one shadow of error.

It gives knowledge on all things needful for time and for eternity.

It is a safe guide through life's entangled path.

It is a compass . . .
  through shoals and rocks;
  amid winds and waves;
  to Heaven's eternal rest!

The sage is ignorant without it.

The peasant learns from it salvation's road.

It is a solace for every hour.

It is a companion always ready to converse.

It cheers when other comforts fail.

It is arrayed in every charm for the intellect.

It never wearies.

It is always fresh.

Its oldest truths cannot grow old.

Its readers become more wise—and more holy.

Other books may puzzle and corrupt.
The Bible is from Heaven, and leads to Heaven.
It enters the heart with purifying grace.

The more you search the Bible—the more your minds will wonder, and your hearts will love.

Read it as literally true. Then no human philosophy will beguile you.

Ponder its characters. You will find on them the intrinsic stamp of truth.

"The Bible is . . .
  an armory of heavenly weapons,
  a pharmacy of infallible medicines,
  a mine of exhaustless wealth,
  a guidebook for every road,
  a chart for every sea,
  a medicine for every malady,
  and a balm for every wound!
Rob us of our Bible, and our sky has lost its sun!"
(Thomas Guthrie)

"Oh, how I love Your Law! I meditate on it all day long!" Psalm 119:97

"
Your Words were found, and I ate them—and Your Word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart!" Jeremiah 15:16

   ~  ~  ~  ~

I am black, but lovely!

(Henry Law, "The Song of Solomon" 1879)

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"I am black, but lovely!" Song of Solomon 1:5

The believer pictures her state. It is a seeming paradox. The extremes of lowliness and greatness are combined. She presents two aspects: deformity and loveliness compose the portrait. "I am black, but lovely!"

Blackness is frightful and repulsive. No eye can rest on it complacently. But blackness is the emblem of our state by nature. We are conceived and born in sin; and sin is most hideous wherever it appears. The Spirit has revealed this truth to each enlightened convert.
He sees it;
he feels it;
he owns it;
he bewails it.
It is his constant misery.

When he would do good, evil is present with him. He hates and loathes and abhors himself in dust and ashes. Surveying the innate corruption, which is his, he mournfully confesses, "I am black! I am vile!"

But he looks off to Christ. He sees the precious blood washing out every stain and obliterating
the crimson dye.


The blackness disappears.
In Christ he is whiter than the whitest snow.

He puts on Christ, and adores Him as made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. He sees His pure and perfect obedience wrought out as a robe to hide his every defect, so bright, so lovely, and so glorious, that it exceeds all admiration.

He feels that this righteousness is through grace imputed to him. He knows that he is lovely through divine loveliness. Thus clothed and decked, he triumphantly tells his friends, "I am black, but lovely!"

"You are absolutely beautiful, My beloved! There is no spot in you!" Song of Solomon 4:7

   ~  ~  ~  ~

What!

(Henry Law, "The Gospel in Numbers" 1858)

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Earth is affliction's home.

A troop of sorrows compass us about.

Tears stream.

The bosom sighs.

The brow is furrowed by the lines of care and worry.

Death tears away the much loved friend.

Sickness invades the frame.

The home is desolate.

The table is destitute.

We look to the right hand, and there is trouble;
on the left, and still fresh troubles frown.


But Heaven is a wide sea of bliss without a ripple.

All tears are wiped away.

All faces beam with one enraptured smile.

All lips confess, "The cup of happiness overflows!"

We bathe in oceans of delight.

In Heaven . . .
  sin is shut out;
  temptations banished;
  fears buried in an unfathomable grave;
  sorrow and unbelief have fled away;
  knowledge is perfect;
  our souls are purity;
  our bodies are imperishable beauty;
  we completely share the glory of our all glorious Lord.

Jesus is the crown of Heaven! This is the pinnacle of bliss! The revelation of the Lord, without one intervening cloud, is the grand glory of the endless kingdom. Heaven is full Heaven, because Christ shines there exactly as He is; seen and admired by every eye.

In Heaven Jesus ever stands conspicuous in one undiminishable blaze!

Believer, what will it be to gaze on the manifested beauty of Him who is so altogether lovely!

What! to read clearly all the deep mysteries of His redeeming will!

What! to dive down to the vast depths of His unfathomable heart!

What! to fly upward to the very summit of His boundless love!

What! to trace clearly all His dealings in providence and grace!

What! to comprehend all that Jesus is!

What! never to lose sight of Him; no, not for a moment!

What! to be ever drinking fresh raptures from His present smile!

What! to feel that this joy is mine forever!

This! this is Heaven!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

View well the monster in true light!

(Henry Law, "Comfort for Mourners")

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You witnessed DEATH accomplishing its work; irresistible; unrestrained; mocking all opposing means. It came and conquered. At its touch . . .
  the strength declined,
  the vital powers ebbed,
  the luster of the eye grew dim,
  the color faded,
  the senses laid aside their functions,
  the fluttering pulse stood still,
  animation was no more,
  the heart no longer moved,
  the spirit fled its tenement of clay.

Nothing remained, but . . .
  a stranded wreck,
  a tenantless abode,
  an empty casket,
  a deserted shell.

Death displayed its ruthlessness and might. It put forth its barbed sting and laughed resistance into nothingness. 

It is instructive now to ask, "How is death armed with this tremendous sway? What furbished, what supplied its weapons? What placed a helpless world beneath its conquering feet? Whence its commission to give the inhabitants of the palace and the hut alike, a banquet to devouring worms?"

Now ponder the enlightening reply:

SIN is the origin of death. "By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned."

Learn that sin slew your friend, and all who ever died.

Sin locks earth's offspring in its foul embrace, and so consigns them to the arms of death.

Survey the lifeless frames from Abel to this hour. Huge is the pile! the whole is piled by sin! SIN . . .
  digs all graves,
  constructs all vaults,
  peoples each cemetery.

In all the tears which have bedewed the dying and the dead; in all the mourning which now racks your heart, and has made earth the home of sighs—behold the work of death through sin. You see it now in your own house. Oh! see it rightly, and you will largely gain.

Profit will not be small, if henceforth you hate sin with deadlier hate. View well the monster in true light—the enemy of God, the enemy of man.

Sin changed fair Eden into a wilderness of thorns, and blackened angels into fiends of Hell!

Never give truce to such a foe. Cry for the Spirit's help to drive it from each corner of your heart.

Unless you slay it, it will be your ruin.

Nail it to the Savior's cross!

It will fight hard, and struggle long; but cease not the encounter. Take courage. Play the man. The believer can do all things through Christ who strengthens him. Grace will expand, while, thus abhorring sin, you steel your heart in earnest opposition.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Wash me, gracious Lord!

(John MacDuff, "Evening Incense" 1856)

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O my God, I desire to approach the footstool of Your throne of grace. Glory be to Your holy name that I can enjoy freedom of access into Your presence, and with the confidence of Your child, unburden and unbosom to You . . .
  all my needs and sins,
  all my sorrows and infirmities,
  all my perplexities and cares.

Lord, how unworthy I am of the least of all Your mercies! What righteous cause have You to cut me down as a cumberer of the ground. How cold my love, how infrequent my prayers! How full is my heart, of pride and vain-glory, self and sin! How little have I habitually realized Your nearness, and sought Your favor as my chief good! There is enough of coldness and formality in my best approaches to Your footstool, to lead You in Your wrath to spurn me forever away!

Let me see all my sin in the light of Calvary's cross!

I cast myself as a worthless unworthy sinner, at the feet of Jesus. I need daily, hourly washing at that fountain which He has opened for sin and for uncleanness. Wash me, gracious Lord—fully, freely, and forever! Let me know the blessedness of "no condemnation." I come with all the great burden of my great guilt—to my great Savior! I seek to bring the unrighteousness of an unworthy creature, to the infinite righteousness and everlasting faithfulness of my loving Redeemer.

You have borne with all my obstinacy, all my perverseness, and waywardness, and ingratitude. I am at this hour, the monument of a divine love—as wondrous, as it is undeserved.

Where would I have been, blessed Jesus—but for You!
All that I am, and all I have—I owe to Your free, sovereign, unmerited grace!

Whom have I in Heaven but You—and there is none in all the earth I desire besides You. You alone can fill up the aching voids of my heart. In vain can I look to a transient world, or to the perishable creature—for solid peace and permanent enjoyment. You are the only refuge for my sin-stricken, woe-worn spirit.

I rejoice in the inexhaustible riches treasured up in You—that Your fullness is adequate to supply all my necessities; and out of that fullness I may still continue receiving, and that forever and ever!


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In one vast blaze of unobscured glory!

(John MacDuff, "The Promised Land" 1859)

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"Your eyes shall see the King in His beauty!"
Isaiah 33:17

To see the Savior as He is, in the splendors of His glorified humanity—is the highest and most attractive view which is given of the Heavenly world.

To see Him as He was, when He tabernacled here below—was a high privilege, one which prophets, and kings, and righteous men of old, ardently desired. But to behold Him . . .
  clothed with majesty divine,
  exalted above all blessing and praise,
  the object of celestial adoration,
  with all the heavenly hosts prostrate before His throne
—that will be a blessed sight indeed!

Between the view that is enjoyed of the Redeemer's glory on earth, and that which is realized by the redeemed in Heaven—there is a threefold distinction:

In the first place, His glory as seen here, is dark and obscure—but in Heaven it is clear and unclouded. The apostle speaks of our beholding Him now imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror. It is by means of certain indistinct mediums, such as the representations of His word and ordinances; but He will be seen above, face to face!

In the second place, His glory is beheld here, only in separate parts and portions. The things recorded of Him in the sacred writings are studied one by one, and, by comparing them together, we form a general estimate of His character. In some passages, we have an account of His person; in others, of His offices; in others, of His love or mercy. And it is by collecting these scattered fragments together, that our knowledge of Him is now obtained.

So it was with the spouse in the book of Canticles. She examined every part of His person by itself:
 His head was as fine gold;
 His cheeks were as a bed of spices;
 His lips were like lilies dropping sweet-smelling myrrh;
 His countenance was as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars.
And after having glanced at these several particulars—she comes to the conclusion that, "He is the chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely!"

It is thus that the Savior is seen here on earth; but how will it be in Heaven? We shall see Him all at once—complete and entire, in one vast blaze of unobscured glory!

And, in the third place, the view we have of Christ on earth is only in occasional glances. There are seasons in the experience of every believer when he has to say with Job, "Behold I go forward—but He is not there; and backward—but I cannot perceive Him!" Or in the language of the prophet, "Truly, you are a God who hides Yourself!"

But, precious truth! the vision in Heaven will be perpetual; it will be altogether unbroken and undisturbed. "Your sun shall no more go down, neither shall your moon withdraw itself; for the Lord shall be your everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be ended!"

Blessed Jesus! reveal Yourself even now, according to Your promise, to my waiting soul; be it mine to enter in some feeble measure, into the feelings of Your disciples of old, when they said, "We beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth!" And, refreshed, quickened, transformed by the sight—may I be daily looking for, and hastening unto, the coming of that day when Your own prayer, offered on the night of Your great agony, shall be fully answered: "Father, I want those You have given Me to be with Me where I am, and to see My glory—the glory You have given Me because You loved Me before the creation of the world!" Then shall I know how great Your beauty is—and what it is to be eternally enraptured with Your charms!