Grace Gems for MARCH 2021

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He does as He pleases!

(Arthur Pink, "The Sovereignty of God")  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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"For the Lord Almighty has purposed—and who can thwart Him?
 His hand is stretched out—and who can turn it back?" Isaiah 14:27

To say that God is sovereign, is to declare that He is the Almighty, the Possessor of all power in Heaven and earth—so that none can . . .
  defeat His counsels,
  thwart His purpose,
  or resist His will.

Whatever takes place in time—is but the outworking of that which He has decreed in eternity.

The sovereignty of the God of Scripture, is . . .
  and infinite!

We insist that God does . . .
  as He pleases,
  only as He pleases,
  always as He pleases!

"But our God is in the heavens—He has done whatever He has pleased!" Psalm 115:3

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

"All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as He pleases with the powers of Heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back His hand or say to Him: What have you done?" Daniel 4:35

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Something to ponder:
"Today you will be with Me in Paradise!" is the whisper of Christ to every dying saint. Charles Spurgeon

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It would instantly transform angels into devils, and turn Heaven into Hell!

(Edward Payson, "Joy in Heaven Over Repenting Sinners" 1846)

"There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." Luke 15:10

God rejoices when sinners repent because it gratifies Him to see them escape from the tyranny and from the consequences of sin. God is light—perfect holiness. God is love—pure benevolence. His holiness and his benevolence both prompt Him to rejoice when sinners escape from sin.

Sin is that abominable thing which he hates.
He hates it as an evil or malignant thing.
He hates it as a bitter or destructive thing.

Sin . . .
  is the plague, the leprosy, the death of intelligent creatures;
  infects and poisons all their faculties;
  plunges them into the lowest depths of guilt and wretchedness;
  pollutes them with a stain . . .
      which all the waters of the ocean cannot wash away,
      which all the fires of Hell cannot remove;
      from which nothing can cleanse them, but the blood of Christ.

Such is the malignity of sin's nature, that could it gain admittance into the celestial regions—it would instantly transform angels into devils, and turn Heaven into Hell! This is no exaggerated or melancholy representation.

Already has sin transformed angels into devils.

Already has sin converted this world from a paradise, to a prison; from a habitation of immortals, to an Aceldama and a Golgotha—a place of skulls and a field of blood.

Already has sin poisoned not only our bodies, but our souls.
It has brought death into the world and all our woe.

Even now sin stalks through our fallen world with gigantic strides, spreading ruin and wretchedness around in ten thousand forms. Strife and discord, war and bloodshed, famine and pestilence, pain and sickness follow in sin's train—while death mounted on his pale horse, with the grave and Hell follow in the rear.

Such are the miseries which sin has introduced into this once happy world. Such are the evils which attend its progress here, notwithstanding the various restraints which are employed to check its Hellward career.

Would we see these evils consummated and learn the full extent of that wretchedness which sin produces—we must follow it into the eternal world, descend into those regions where peace and hope never enters; and there by the light of revelation behold sin tyrannizing over its wretched victims with uncontrollable fury, fanning the inextinguishable fire, and sharpening the tooth of the immortal worm!

See angels and archangels, thrones and dominions, principalities and powers—stripped of all their original glory and beauty, bound in eternal chains and burning with rage and malice against that Being in whose presence they once rejoiced, and whose praises they once sung.

See multitudes of the human race in unutterable agonies of anguish and despair, cursing the giver and prolonger of their existence, and vainly wishing for annihilation to put an end to their miseries. Follow them through the long, long ages of eternity, and see them sinking deeper and deeper in the bottomless abyss of ruin; perpetually blaspheming God because of their plagues, and receiving the punishment of these blasphemies in continual additions to their wretchedness.

Such are the wages of sin! Such are the inevitable doom of the finally impenitent!

From these depths of anguish and despair—look up to the mansions of the blessed and see to what a height of glory and felicity the grace of God will raise every sinner who repents. See those who are thus . . .
  favored in unutterable ecstasies of joy and love and praise,
  contemplating God face to face,
  reflecting His perfect image,
  shining with a splendor like that of their glorious Redeemer,
  filled with all the fullness of Deity, and
  bathing in those rivers of pleasure which flow forever at God's right hand!

Follow them in their endless flight toward perfect holiness. See them rapidly mounting from height to height and darting onward with increasing swiftness and unwearied wing, toward that infinity which they will never reach.

View this, and then say, whether infinite holiness and benevolence may not with propriety rejoice over every sinner who by repentance escapes the miseries and secures the felicity here so imperfectly described.

Who can conceive of the joy with which the Son of God must contemplate an immortal soul, drawn to his feet by the cords of love—whom He has rescued from the roaring lion at such an infinite expense? How greatly must Christ love and prize and rejoice in every penitent sinner! His love and joy must he unutterable, inconceivable, infinite!

If He thus rejoices over one sinner who repents—then what must be His joy when all His people are collected out of every tongue and kindred and nation and people, and presented spotless before His Father's throne! What a full tide of felicity will pour in upon Him, and how will His benevolent heart expand with unutterable delight, and swell almost to bursting—when contemplating the countless myriads whom He has redeemed!
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He saw Him falling to the ground, groveling in the dust, sweating blood!

(John Flavel)   LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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"For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life!" John 3:16

Let it be considered, to what the Father gave His only begotten Son:
  even to death, and that of the cross;
  to be made a curse for us;
  to be the scorn and contempt of vile men;
  to the most unparalleled sufferings that were ever inflicted or borne by any!

It melts our affections, it breaks our heart, to behold our children striving in the pangs of death. But the Lord beheld His Son struggling under such incomparable agonies. He saw Him falling to the ground, groveling in the dust, sweating blood—and amidst those agonies turning Himself to His Father, and with a heart-rending cry beseeching Him, "Father, if You are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from Me!" Luke 22:42

To wrath, to the wrath of an infinite God without mixture; to the very torments of Hell was Christ delivered, and that by the hand of His own Father!

What kind of love is this, which made the Father of mercies deliver His only Son to such miseries for us!

In giving Christ to die for poor sinners, God gave the richest jewel in His cabinet!
This is a mercy of the greatest worth and most inestimable value.

Heaven itself is not so valuable and precious as Christ is! Ten thousand thousand worlds, as many worlds as angels can number—would not outweigh Christ's love, excellency and sweetness! O what a lovely One! What an excellent, beautiful, ravishing One—is Christ!

Put the beauty of ten thousand paradises, like the garden of Eden, into one; put all flowers, all pleasing fragrances, all colors, all delicious tastes, all joys, all sweetnesses, all lovelinesses into one—O what a lovely and excellent thing would that be! And yet it would be less compared to that loveliest and dearest well-beloved Christ—than one drop of rain compared to all the seas, rivers, lakes, and fountains of ten thousand earths!

Now, for God to bestow this mercy of mercies, the most precious thing in Heaven or earth, upon poor sinners; and, as great, as lovely, as excellent as His Son was—what astonishing love is this!

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The more I see of Jesus

(Mary Winslow LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Something to ponder:
"Pray against that thirst for light and trifling reading—that strange and sinful inconsistency of so many, the certain tendency of which is to starve the life of God in the soul, to engender a distaste for spiritual nourishment, for the Word of God, for holy meditation, and for Divine communion and fellowship." Octavius Winslow

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Plato's wish!

(J.R. Miller, 1911)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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"You are absolutely beautiful, my Beloved; there is no flaw in You!" Song of Songs 4:7

expressed a desire that the moral law might become a living personage—that men seeing it thus incarnate, might be charmed by its beauty.

Plato's wish
was fulfilled in Jesus Christ! The holiness and the beauty of the divine law were revealed in Him. The Beatitudes contain an outline of the ideal life—but the Beatitudes are only a transcript of the life of Christ Himself! What He taught about love—was but His own love stated in a course of living lessons for His friends to learn. When He said that we should be patient, gentle, thoughtful, forgiving, and kind—He was only saying, "Follow Me!"

If we could gather from the most godly people who ever have lived, the little fragments of lovely character which have blossomed out in each, and bring all these fragments into one personality—we would have the beauty of Jesus Christ!

In one person you find gentleness, in another meekness, in another purity of heart, in another humility, in another kindness, in another patience. But in the holiest of men, there are only two or three qualities of ideal beauty—along with much that is stained and blemished, mingled with these qualities.

In Christ, however, all that is excellent is found, with no flaw!

"You are absolutely beautiful, my Beloved; there is no flaw in You!" Song of Songs 4:7

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If you are unable to attend your church services today, you may want to listen to Steve Lawson's "The Passion and Power of Apostolic Preaching!"  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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No wonder the maidens love You!

(James Durham, "The Song of Solomon")  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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"Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth; for Your love is more delightful than wine! Pleasing is the fragrance of Your perfumes; Your name is like perfume poured out. No wonder the maidens love You!" Song of Solomon 1:2-3

Believers are not soon satisfied in expressing Christ's worth. Christ, and all that is in Him, is as refreshing as a box that is full of the most precious perfume. Christ is well stored with grace—it is poured into His lips.

This fragrance of Christ's graces is not felt by everyone. The box of His perfumes is not open to all, but only to those who believe; for to them He is precious, and everything that is in Him is most cordial and fragrant to the believer. "Yes, He is very precious to you who believe!" 1 Peter 2:7

The more Christ and His worth is known, it will fragrance the better, and be the more refreshing; for it is His name which is this perfume. Christ, in His excellent worth, is unknown to the world. They do not inquire into this fragrant name. But if He were once known, they would find in Him that which would make them give over their other unprofitable pursuits, and pant after Him!

"My Lover is radiant and dazzling, better than ten thousand others!" Song of Solomon 5:10

"His mouth is sweetness itself! He is altogether lovely!
 This is my Lover, this my Friend!" Song of Solomon 5:16

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Something to ponder:
"There are three idols that Christians find very hard to mortify, namely:
  the applause of the world,
  the pleasures of the world, and
  the reproaches of the world." Andrew Gray, 1633-1656

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He is a rich, full, free, and inexhaustible fountain!

(William Nicholson, "The Enriching Savior!" 1862)
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"The same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him!" Romans 10:12

This verse is full of precious consolation. As "Lord over all" He is able to enrich others. He possesses an inexhaustible stock of spiritual blessings, by which He can "be rich unto all who call upon Him."

Note the objects of His enriching grace: "Unto all who call upon Him."

He enriches the guilty one, with the pardon of all his sins, however numerous and flagrant. 1 John 1:7; Acts 13:38.

He enriches those condemned by the law, with deliverance and justification. Acts 13:39; Romans 5:1; 8:1.

He enriches the unrighteous and defiled, with cleansing grace and regenerating power, to make them "new creatures in Christ Jesus." 2 Corinthians 5:17.

He enriches the outcast and abandoned, with adoption into His redeemed family, and all its precious privileges.

He is a rich, full, free, and inexhaustible fountain!

What more can be said?

He enriches . . .
  the ignorant—with wisdom,
  the weak—with strength,
  the fearful—with courage,
  the depressed—with consolation,
  the soldier of the cross—with armor, success, and conquest,
  the tempted and tried—with support and a way of escape,
  the afflicted and bereaved—with strength according to the day,
  the dying—with the hope of immortality, and afterwards with Heaven itself!

He can make all grace to abound to all His people!

"The LORD gives grace and glory. No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly!" Psalm 84:11

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A sea of sweetness

(John Flavel, "Christ Altogether Lovely")  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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

As if she had said, "Look on Him in what respect or particular you wish; cast your eye upon this lovely One, and view Him any way; consider His person, His offices, His works, or any other thing belonging to Him. You will find Him altogether lovely, there is nothing disagreeable in Him, there is nothing lovely without Him."

Jesus Christ is the loveliest person souls can set their eyes upon. He is the very essence of all delights and pleasures, the very soul and substance of them! As all the rivers are gathered into the ocean, which is the meeting-place of all the waters in the world—so Christ is that ocean in which all true delights and pleasures meet!

Christ infinitely transcends the most excellent and loveliest of created things. The excellencies our altogether lovely Christ are pure and unmixed. He is a sea of sweetness without one drop of gall!

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

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You may want to read the whole of Flavel's precious short sermon, "Christ Altogether Lovely".

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The endless, blissful theme!

("The letters of Ruth Bryan" August, 1857)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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

There are heights and depths in the love of Christ of which the most favored have no conception. And there are beauties and glories in His person which none have yet beheld! Oh! I would have none rest short of the revelation of His person.

His benefits indeed are all precious: His atoning blood and sacrifice, His justifying righteousness, and the effects flowing therefrom—pardon, justification, peace in the conscience, etc., etc. But it is a further and sweeter privilege to know and enjoy Himself! Salvation is sweet—but the Savior crowns all!

I must cease, though I seem to have said nothing of the endless, blissful theme—the love and loveliness of our dear Redeemer, the Redeemer of worms!

May He favor you with His precious presence!

"May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it!" Ephesians 3:19

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Something to ponder:
The poorest saint that ever died in a ghetto, is nobler in His sight than the richest sinner that ever died in a palace. God does not look at riches, titles, education, beauty, or anything of the kind. There is only one thing that God does look at, and that is the immortal soul. He measures all men by one standard, one measure, one test, one criterion—and that is the state of their souls. (J.C. Ryle)

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The most suitable good!

(Thomas Doolittle, "Love to Christ Necessary to Escape the Curse at His Coming!" 1693)

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A thing is desirable, because it is suitable.
The suitableness of the object allures our desires and love.

Suitableness is the ground of love. A thing might be good in itself, yet, if we apprehend no suitableness in it to us—then the love of our hearts is not upon it. Therefore in pain and sickness, a man judges ease and health to be better for him than gold and silver—because they are more suitable. A man in hunger and thirst, esteems bread and water to be better than honors and pleasures—because they are more suitable.

Love to Christ is grounded on the soul discerning the suitableness of Christ unto him. He says,
"Food is not more suitable to a hungry man,
 nor medicine to a sick man,
 nor clothing to a naked man—
than Christ is to me, a poor, sinful, and lost man—an undone, perishing, and damned man! For . . .
  I am naked—and He will clothe me with His perfect righteousness,
  I am blind—and He will restore my spiritual sight,
  I am enslaved to sin and Satan—and He will give me liberty,
  I am lost—and He will save me,
  I am guilty—and He will pardon me,
  I am polluted—and He will cleanse me,
  I am an enemy to God—and He will reconcile me,
  I am ignorant—and He will teach me,
  I am indebted—and He will be my Surety,
  I am poor—and He will make me wealthy to all eternity,
  I am a stranger to God—and He brings me into acquaintance with Him,
  I am unfit for Heaven—and He will make me fit to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light.

Love to Christ includes a discovery of Christ unto the soul, as the most suitable good.

In poverty, Christ will be my riches.
In disgrace, Christ will be my honor.
In bonds and imprisonment, Christ will be my liberty.
In pain, Christ will be my comfort.
In death, Christ will be my life.
In the loss of all things, Christ will be better to me than the enjoyment of all these things!

Though I have riches—yet I might be damned.
But if I have Christ—then I shall be saved!

Though men admire me—yet God might loathe me.
But if I have Christ—then the Lord will love me!

Though I prosper in the world, in all my pomp—I might be walking in the way to everlasting misery!
But if I have Christ—He will lead me in the paths unto eternal glory!

Look, O my soul, look around about you, and you shall find none so suitable to you as the lovely Savior. Then He alone shall have my best love. Is there none for me like Him? Then I will fix my love on Him!

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How is your Beloved better than others?

(Edward Payson, 1783-1827)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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"How is your Beloved better than others?" Song of Songs 5:9

Does not our Friend as far excel all other friends . . .
  as Heaven exceeds earth,
  as eternity exceeds time,
  as the Creator surpasses His creatures?

See all the fullness of the Godhead—dwelling in One who is as meek and mild as a child.
See His countenance beaming with ineffable glories—full of mingled majesty, condescension and love.
Hear the soul-reviving invitations and gracious words which proceed from His lips.
See that hand in which dwells everlasting strength—swaying the scepter of universal empire over all creatures and all worlds.
See His arms expanded to receive and embrace returning sinners.
While His heart, a bottomless, shoreless ocean of benevolence—overflows with tenderness, compassion, and love.

Such, O sinner, is our Beloved—and such is our Friend.

Will you not then embrace Him as your Friend? If you can be persuaded to do this—you will find that half, nay, that the thousandth part has not been told to you!

All the excellency, glory and beauty which is found in men or angels, flows from Christ—as a drop of water from the ocean, or a ray of light from the sun.

If, then, you supremely love the creature—can you wonder that Christians should love the Creator! Can you wonder that those who behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, should be sweetly drawn to Him by the cords of love, and lose their fondness for created glories? All that you love and admire and wish for in creatures, and indeed infinitely more—they find in Him!

Do you wish for a friend possessed of power to protect you?
Our Friend possesses all power in Heaven and earth, and is able to save even to the uttermost!

Do you wish for a wise friend?
In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Do you wish for a tender, compassionate friend?
Christ is tenderness and compassion itself.

Do you wish for a faithful, unchangeable friend?
With Christ there is no variableness nor shadow of turning.
He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

His unchangeable love will ever prompt Him to make His people happy!

His unerring wisdom will point out the best means to promote their happiness!

His infinite power will enable Him to employ those means.

In all these respects, our Beloved is more than any other beloved!

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Something to ponder:
Thomas Boston, "To be condemned by Him, who came to save sinners, must be double damnation!" "Then He will say to those on His left: Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels!" Matthew 25:41

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True excellency!

(Jonathan Edwards)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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Worldly men imagine that there is true excellency and true happiness in those things which they are pursuing. They think that if they could but obtain them, that they would be happy. But when they obtain them, and cannot find happiness—then they look for happiness in something else, and are still upon the futile pursuit.

There is a transcendent glory, and an ineffable sweetness in Christ.

Jesus Christ has true excellency, and so great an excellency that when you come to truly see Him, you look no further, but your mind rests there.

You see that you had been pursuing shadows, but now you have found the substance.

You realize that you had been seeking happiness in the stream, but now you have found the ocean.

The excellency of Christ is an object adequate to the natural cravings of the soul, and is sufficient to fill its capacity.

Christ has an infinite excellency, such as the mind desires, in which it can find no bounds.
The more the mind contemplates Him, the more excellent does He appear.

Each new discovery of Christ makes His beauty appear more ravishing, and the mind can see no end to His excellency. There is room enough for the mind to go deeper and deeper, and never come to the bottom.

Christ's excellency is always fresh and new, and will as much delight us after we have beheld Him a thousand or ten thousand years—as when we have seen Him the first moment.

The soul is exceedingly ravished when it first looks on the beauty of Christ. It is never weary of Him.

"His mouth is most sweet, Yes, He is altogether lovely. This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend!" Song of Songs 5:16

"Put the beauty of ten thousand worlds of paradises, like the Garden of Eden in one; put all trees, all flowers, all fragrances, all colors, all tastes, all joys, all loveliness, all sweetness in one. O what a lovely and excellent thing would that be! And yet it would be less compared to our dearest well-beloved Christ—than one drop of rain compared to the whole seas, rivers, and lakes of ten thousand earths." Samuel Rutherford

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Storms and tempests, whirlwinds and hurricanes!

(James Meikle, "Converse with the Unseen World")  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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"I am the man who has seen affliction!" Lamentations 3:1

Like the rest of Adam's discontented family, I am often . . .
  grumbling at my griefs,
  complaining of my afflictions, and
  on the brink of quarreling at the conduct of Providence itself!

To be without afflictions is impossible here below, where man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward. Not to feel when afflicted, is a stoical, impious stupidity. But to sink under troubles of any kind, is beneath the character of the Christian. Yet, when I reflect on that eternity of bliss which is before me, on that world of glory of which I am an heir—I wonder that my afflictions are not more.

Is it too much for me to stumble among the 'rough stones of adversity', to have my flesh pricked with the 'thorns of trouble'—who shall so soon walk the golden streets of Heaven, and wear a crown of immortal glory!

Though the whole earth should rise up against me—if Heaven, and the God of Heaven are for me, I am in perfect safety in the midst of all the storms and tempests, whirlwinds and hurricanes which can blow!

"Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that . . .
  neither death nor life,
  nor angels nor rulers,
  nor things present,
  nor things to come,
  nor powers,
  nor height,
  nor depth,
  nor any other created thing,
can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!" Romans 8:35-39

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Something to ponder:
"I fear it is sometimes forgotten that God has married together justification and sanctification. They are distinct and different things, beyond question—but one is never found without the other. All justified people are sanctified, and all sanctified people are justified. Do not tell me of your justification, unless you have also some marks of sanctification. Boast not of Christ's work for you, unless you can show us the Spirit's work in you"  J.C. Ryle.

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Altogether lovely!

("Solitude Sweetened" by James Meikle, 1730-1799)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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

Why does the world reject the wondrous Savior? Why do they abhor Him who is altogether lovely, and hate Him who is the best Friend of sinners?

O men of the world! what good can you desire which is not in Christ? The excellencies of earth are but His footstool; the excellencies of Heaven are but His throne! How excellent, then, must He Himself be!

His treasures are infinite—and open for you!

In Jesus are . . .
  riches—if you are poor;
  honor—if you are despised;
  friendship—if you are forsaken;
  help—if you are injured;
  mercy—if you are miserable;
  joy—if you are disconsolate;
  protection—if you are in danger;
  deliverance—if you are a captive;
  life—if you are mortal; and
  all things—if you have nothing at all.

Time and eternity are His—and He can give you all the glorious things of eternity!

Moreover, He can deliver you . . .
  from all your fears;
  from sin—the worst of all evils;
  from self—the most hurtful of all companions;
  from death—the most dreadful of all changes;
  from Satan— the most subtle of all enemies;
  from Hell—the most horrible of all prisons; and
  from wrath—the most horrifying doom of all sinners!

Now, where will you find such a one as Jesus?

Why, then, refuse life, and seek after death and damnation?

All Heaven is enamored with His beauty!

The longer we look on 'created gaieties', the leaner and less lovely they grow; so that, by the time we have viewed them forty, fifty, or sixty years—we see nothing but vanity in the creature! But when ten thousand ages are employed in beholding the perfection and beauty of Jesus, He still appears more and more lovely—even altogether lovely!

Alas! I can say nothing of His true excellencies! They overwhelm my laboring thought, and are too vast for my feeble conception to bring forth!

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What shall the swearer say?

(James Meikle, "The Traveler" June 15, 1758) LISTEN to audio! Download audio

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"You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain." Exodus 20:7

How justly will God, the righteous Judge, repay the imprecations into the bosoms of these blasphemers!

They sin in sport—but God hears in earnest, and will punish in zeal. They call on God profanely in their words; and God hears, and will answer them in wrath!

They swear, and forget—but God has sworn that He will remember. That which they think adds vigor to their words—shall indeed add anguish to their grief, and fierceness to their torments!

What shall the swearer say, when tossing on the fiery billows, shrieking under consummate despair! "O miserable state of intolerable torments, which I must endure! How shall I spend this eternity of pain! It was nothing to me in time to hear others curse and blaspheme—and to join in the infernal dialect myself! And now I am encircled with unceasing blasphemies, from all the legions of demons, from all the millions of miserable sinners, suffering under infinite vengeance! And I mingle in the uproar, and join in the terrible tumult against the throne of God, although dreadfully tortured in my rebellion. Then, curses accented every sentence; now, every sentence is one continued curse! I thought God was altogether such a one as myself—and that He would never remember my swearings, which I never minded; nor call me to account for committing what I made no account of. Damn me! damn me! was always on my tongue—and now I am damned forever! The oaths and curses which I sowed in time, have now sprung up into bitter bewailings, and eternal blasphemings! As I took pleasure in cursing, so it is come unto me—but with inexpressible pain! O eternity, eternity, how long!"

"They cursed the God of Heaven for their pains and sores. But they did not turn from their evil ways." Revelation 16:11. This is, indeed, the lamentable end of profane swearers, who shall confess the equity of God in their torments!

But, as the wicked shall be repaid according to their ways, so shall the righteous be in theirs. All their imperfect . . .
 godly sorrows,
 spiritual joys,
and the seeds of every other grace—shall come to a wondrous conclusion at last. Now they serve God with weakness—but then they shall enjoy Him with a vigorous immortality! They sow in tears, and go weeping heavenward—but shall possess Him in a triumphant state, where sorrow and sighing shall forever flee away!

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The difference between the godly and the ungodly

(James Meikle, "The Traveler" June 14, 1758)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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There is a wide difference in both principle and practice, between the the godly and the ungodly.

The affections of the godly are spiritually refined—and their desires are exalted.
The inclinations of the ungodly are corrupt—and their desires are groveling.

Sin has but a tottering standing, and a momentary abode—in the godly.
But sin has fixed its throne, and taken up its eternal residence—in the ungodly.

In the godly, grace and sin struggle for sovereignty.
In the ungodly, sin domineers and there is no struggle.

The godly is deeply concerned about the world to come.
The ungodly has no concern about eternal realities.

The speech of the godly is seasoned with grace.
The discourse of the ungodly is insipid and vain.

The godly has his hope fixed on God.
The ungodly has no fear of God before his eyes.

The godly use the world without abusing it.
The ungodly, in using the world, abuse both themselves and it.

The godly sees God in his daily life, and rejoices in Him with his whole heart.
The ungodly says in his practice: "There is no God!" and wishes in his heart that there were no God.

The godly adores the Creator above all else.
The ungodly worships the creature more than the Creator.

The godly uses God's name with profoundest reverence, and departs from iniquity.
The ungodly profanes God's name with impudence, and adds iniquity to sin.

The godly redeems his time.
The ungodly trifles away his time.

The godly studies his duty in obedience to all God's precepts.
The ungodly shakes himself loose from every command of God.

The godly forgives his foes.
The ungodly lays a snare for his foes.

The godly commits it to God to avenge wrongs done to him.
The ungodly, fiery and tumultuous—seeks revenge.

The godly loves purity in all things.
The ungodly wallows in impurity.

The godly is content with his condition.
The ungodly covets all the day long.

The godly is pure in heart.
The heart of the ungodly is like a cage full of unclean beasts.

The godly walks at liberty in the ways of God.
The ungodly is the servant and slave of sin.

The Holy Spirit rules in the heart of the godly.
Satan rules in the heart of the ungodly.

The godly has his citizenship in Heaven.
The ungodly has his citizenship in Hell.

As there is such a wide difference in their principles and practices—so also, in their eternal destinies.
God is faithful—He has promised felicity to the pious, and threatened vengeance to the wicked.
"The wicked is thrust out in his wickedness; but the righteous has hope in his death." Proverbs 14:32

The godly are under the blessing of God's love.
The ungodly are under the curse of God's justice.

The godly with joy, draw water out of the wells of salvation.
The ungodly shall drink of the wrath of the Almighty.

To the godly, pertain all the exceeding great and precious promises.
To the ungodly, pertain all the threatenings of God.

Heaven shall be the palace of the godly!
Hell shall be the prison of the ungodly!

While the godly shall dwell through eternity with God,
the ungodly shall be driven away into everlasting darkness!

Thus, the righteous and wicked are separated in their life, and divided in their death.
They are divided . . .

  in their principles,
  in their practices,
  in their choices,
  in their joys,
  in their thoughts,
  in their company,
  in their speech,
  in their fears,
  in their expectations,
  in their death, and
  through eternity itself!

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My Rock!

("Solitude Sweetened" by James Meikle, 1730-1799) LISTEN to audio! Download audio

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"The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my Savior, my God, my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the strength of my salvation, my stronghold!" (Psalm 18:2)

Do rocks defend me from blasts, from whatever quarter they blow? So does my Rock!

Is the blast from Hell? He has the keys of Hell and of death!

Is it from sin? He is my righteousness!

Is it from Satan? He has conquered principalities and powers!

Is it from afflictions? He is my sympathizing and loving High Priest!

Is it from losses? He is my exceeding great reward!

Is it from crosses? He makes all things work together for good to His people!

Is it from anguish? He is my joy!

Is it from darkness? He is my Sun!

Is it from doubts? He is my Counselor!

Is it from deadness? He is my life!

Is it from enemies? He is my shield!

Is it from temptation? He is my deliverer!

Is it from false friends? He will never leave me, nor forsake me!

Is it from solitude? He is everywhere present!

Is it from disease? He is my healer!

Is it from death? He is the resurrection and the life!

O glorious refuge! O sure defense! O everlasting fortress!
Here do I defy the worst that earth and Hell can do!

Henceforth will I live by faith, in the MAN who is . . .
  my hiding place from the wind,
  my shelter from the tempest,
  my stream of water in a dry place,
  my shadow of a great rock in a weary land—
until every blast has blown over, and not a threatening cloud appears in my sky—until my heaven is beautified with everlasting day, and every storm is swept from the air which I breathe!

"And a MAN shall be as a hiding place from the wind, and a shelter from the tempest, like streams of water in a dry place, like the shadow of a great rock in a weary land!" (Isaiah 32:2)

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Something to ponder:
"The study of everything that stands connected with the death of Christ, whether it be in . . .
  the types of the ceremonial law,
  the predictions of the prophets,
  the narratives of the gospels,
  the doctrines of the epistles, or
  the sublime vision of the Apocalypse,
this is the food of the soul, the manna from Heaven, the bread of life.
This is food indeed and drink indeed!" John Angell James

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I am confounded with wonder!

("Solitude Sweetened" by James Meikle, 1730-1799)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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"Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound!" Romans 5:20

Dear Savior, in Your sufferings I not only see the infiniteness of sin, but also the infiniteness of Your love; so that, though I have cause with myself to be angry on account of sin, I need not despair.

If the deservings of my sinful folly is death—the merit of Your sufferings is life!

If my sins mount up to heaven—Your mercy is above the heavens!

Though my sins reach to the very throne to accuse me—there is One upon the throne who will not condemn me!

When I look to myself and see my vileness and necessity—I am confounded with shame.
But when I look to You, and see Your fullness and all-sufficiency—I am confounded with wonder!

Am I weak? Jesus is my strength.

Am I foolish? Jesus is my wisdom!

Am I wicked? Jesus is my righteousness!

Am I impure? Jesus is my sanctification!

Am I in bondage? Jesus is my complete redemption!

Am I in misery? From Jesus tender mercy flows.

Am I deceitful? Jesus is wholly truth!

In a word, am I enmity itself?
Then Jesus is love itself which passes understanding!
Mine is but the enmity of a creature—but Yours is the love of God!

Where sin abounded—grace did much more abound!

Where misery has surrounded me—Your mercy has crowned me!

Sin is too strong for me—but Your grace is too strong for sin!

Why, then, am I so vexed with fears, doubts and unbelief? Because I am sinful. On that very account, Jesus, who knew no sin, was made sin—that I, who knew no righteousness, might be made the righteousness of God in Him.

I am a great sinner! But Jesus is a Savior, and a great One!

Where is boasting now? See, it is great mercy in God, great merit in Christ, which saves a great sinner! Since rich and free grace builds the temple of salvation, let it have all the glory!

But I fall often into the same sin! That is my failing over which I ought to mourn, and by which I should be driven out of all boasting in my own holiness, high attainments, and religious duties; and cry, with tears of holy joy, "Grace, grace to Him who has laid the foundation, carries on the whole work of redemption, and will, with shouting bring forth the topstone!"

Now, law, what have you to do with me? Go to my Surety, Jesus.
O curse! you have lighted on His head, that the blessing might rest on mine!

Though once I dared not lift my eyes heavenward, for fear of divine wrath—yet now I may come boldly to the throne of grace, and claim the blessings of His purchase!

Though my sin offends Him—I shall never sin away His love, nor His presence altogether. For He shall come a second time, to deliver me from all my inherent sinfulness.

Though my sin is my burden—it shall not be my bane! Yet I shall never willingly let the traitor rest in my bosom, which would persuade my soul into rebellion against my dearest Lord, and best Friend. I may have continual war with the invader, but shall obtain the victory at last! Meanwhile, I will grieve more for offending Him whose name is Love, by my sin—than for the trials, afflictions, and chastisements which seize me because of my sinfulness.

Now, with the arms of my faith, I clasp the promise—and Jesus in the promise! Here will I live, and here will I die—blessing God, who causes me always to triumph in Jesus Christ my Lord!

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My needs—His fullness!

(James Meikle, May 24, 1757)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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All plenitude is in Christ, to answer all the needs of His people. In Christ dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, that out of His fullness I may receive all spiritual blessings!

Have I destroyed myself by sin?
I have deliverance from Him who is mighty to save from sin and wrath!

Is my foolish mind darkened; am I a guilty, polluted and ruined wretch?
Jesus is my wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption!

Is my life fleeting and passing away like a shadow?
Jesus is the Ancient of days, and endures forevermore!

Are my days short-lived and full of trouble?
Jesus is my life, the length of my days, and the joy of my heart!

Am I exposed to contempt?
Jesus shall be my crown of glory, and diadem of beauty!

Am I traveling through the wilderness?
Jesus is my staff, and on Him I lean all the way!

Am I on my last journey to my long home?
Jesus is my leader, and my rewarder!

Am I a sheep?
Jesus is my pasture, and my green pasture too!

Am I hungry and thirsty?
Jesus is my heavenly manna, and gives me to drink of the water of life!

Am I weary?
Jesus is my rest and refreshing!

Am I weak?
Jesus is my strength!

Am I oppressed and wronged?
Jesus is my judge and my avenger!

Am I reproached?
The reproach of His people, Jesus will wipe away!

Am I a soldier?
Jesus is my Captain and shield!

Must I fight in the field of battle?
Jesus is my armor in the day of war!

Do I sit in darkness?
Jesus is my light!

Do I have doubts?
Jesus is my counselor!

Am I ignorant?
Jesus is my wisdom!

Am I guilty?
Jesus is my justification!

Am I filthy?
Jesus is my sanctification!

Am I dead in sin?
Jesus is my life, and quickens those who are dead in trespasses and sins!

Am I poor?
Jesus is the pearl of great price, and has immeasurable riches!

Am I blind?
Jesus, and none but He can open the eyes of one born blind!

Am I naked?
Jesus has white clothing to cover the shame of my nakedness!

Am I in the very utmost necessity?
Jesus is a very present help in time of trouble!

Am I exposed to the hurricanes of adversity?
Jesus is . . .
  a refuge from the storm,
  a shelter from the blast,
  rivers of water in a desert,
  the shadow of a great rock in a weary land!

Am I afraid of being left alone?
Jesus will never leave me, nor forsake me!

Do friends and brethren prove false?
Jesus is the friend who sticks closer than a brother!

Am I in danger from disease and death—or from sin and Satan?
My life is hidden with Christ in God! When He shall appear, I shall appear with Him—immortal in my body, and glorious in my soul!

Is my case considered in the court of Heaven?
There Jesus is my Advocate!

Do I offend the Father?
Jesus is my Intercessor!

Do I suffer in my body, and am I grieved in my mind?
Jesus bore my infirmities, and carried my griefs!

Is my mind disquieted, and my soul debarred from peace?
Jesus is my sympathetic High Priest! He was tempted in all points, and knows how to support those who are tempted!

Am I poor in my circumstances?
Jesus is the heir of all things! Though He was rich, yet for my sake He became poor—that I through His poverty might be made rich!

Do I suffer in my character?
Jesus was numbered with transgressors, called a Samaritan, a glutton, a drunkard, and a devil!

Am I bereaved or alone?
Jesus in the fatal night was left alone; all the disciples forsook Him and fled. Jesus, my only friend, can never die!

Must I undergo death and be laid in the grave?
Jesus has taken away the sting of death, and robbed the grave of its victory!

Must I rot in the grave?
Jesus shall be my resurrection, and raise me to immortality and bliss!

Would I go to God and to glory?
Jesus is my way, and must admit me into the palace of the great King, where I shall abide forever!

In summary, Jesus is my Brother, my Physician, my Prophet, my Priest, my King, my Father, my Head, my Husband. In eternity when I shall dwell in the land of bliss, in the city of God—Jesus will be the light thereof. And since I am to worship there forever, He will be temple of all the redeemed.

My needs are many—but His fullness is infinitely more!

The morning dews and fructifying showers water the fields, and refresh the parched furrows. But what are they, compared to the exhaustless ocean of Jesus?

What is all that I enjoy here below, compared to the exuberant fullness of the Heavenly bliss? O! then, how shall my soul be replenished—when possessed of this infinite All, through eternity itself!

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Pastoral Counsels

("The Nature, Importance, Duties and Qualifications of the Pastor" by James Meikle, 1730-1799.
 N.B. Though Meikle originally intended this for pastors, his exhortations apply to all Christians.)

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"Watch your life and doctrine closely." 1 Timothy 4:16

"Be an example to all believers in what you teach, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity." 1 Timothy 4:12

Do not contract many worldly acquaintances.

Learn to be abused without becoming angry.

Do not meddle much with the affairs of this life. 

Argue coolly, and from conscience—not for victory.    

Do not pretend a 'show of sanctimony' before men.

Do not be ashamed of piety in any company.

Whatever else you read, read a double portion in the scriptures of truth.

Shun familiarity with the men of the world—else celestial truths as uttered by you, will be despised.

Do not be much concerned about your own reputation, as long as the truth and the gospel do not suffer.

Learn daily more of Christ and more of yourself—else your other studies will profit little.

Seek not great things for yourself. Seek not . . .
  great fame,
  great applause,
  great comforts,
  or a great income.
But seek great things for Christ.
Seek for Him great glory, many converts, and abundant fruits of righteousness.

Consider . . .
  the preciousness of souls,
  the value of salvation,
  the weight of the sacred charge,
  the terrors of the Almighty,
  the solemn day of judgment,
  and your own utter inability.
Then shall you have no vain confidence, but depend on God alone.

Please all men so long as you are consistent with the truth—but do not wound the truth to please any.  

Set your affections on things above—so shall spiritual things be your delight, and not your burden.

In company, always study to say something for edification.
In this way you preach every day—as well as on Sundays.

Be much with God in secret—so shall God be with you in public.

See that the behavior of every person in your family is a pattern to all observers, and not matter of reproach to the joy of God's enemies.

Let your flock be continually on your mind. And not only pray with them in public, and from house to house—but carry them to your closet and pray for them in private.

Do not neglect to visit them at all proper times, but especially embrace those golden opportunities—sickness and affliction.

Have sympathetic feelings with the sufferings of all your flock.

Let your life be consistent with your message
What you preach on Sunday—practice through the week.

Do not only press charity on the wealthy, but let your example according to your ability show the way.

Lend your ear to reproaches—rather than applauses.
may let us see some of our foibles or failings.
But commendation is very apt to kindle self-conceit—of which everyone has enough.

Be temperate in eating and drinking.
Do not, when at a feast, though temperate at other times—be a glutton or a wine-bibber.

With respect to your flock, consider that you are made the steward of this family, and therefore must, seeing the great Master allows it—provide food for all: meat for the strong, and milk for the weak.

Keep an exact list or catalogue of your flock:
  who is pious, or profligate;
  who is in affluence, or poverty;
  who is in health, or sick
—and read it often.

Give a pleasant ear when others are commended; but always frown away the friend that would commend you to your face.

Be scant in exhibiting 'specimens of your learning', or comments on the Scriptures in their original languages. For a fine grammarian may be but a novice in true piety.

In preaching, aim at God's glory and the good of souls.
And then, without deviating from that rule—please all men as much as possible.

Let your sermons be always the fruit of much study and application.
Never dare to serve God or His people with that which cost you nothing.

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We also rejoice in our afflictions!

(James Meikle, "Solitude Sweetened")  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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"We also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that . . .
  affliction produces endurance,
  endurance produces proven character, and
  proven character produces hope." Romans 5:3-4

Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.

Sometimes God kindly sends afflictions to chastise His people for sin, and curb their carnal affections. Yet, at other times He sends afflictions to exercise and improve their graces.

Whatever my affliction is, the wisdom of Him who sends it, should make me embrace and bear it without repining.

Afflictions do not spring out of the dust—nor come at random.
Some of God's favorite ones have, for wise ends, had the severest afflictions.

Affliction deadens the pleasures of sense, and gives the soul a relish for spiritual things.
It divorces the soul from the creature, and draws it near to God.

Affliction renders the creature tasteless, and the world barren.
It dispels the intoxicating juice of carnal pleasures and sensual delights.

I should welcome whatever afflictions loosen me from this world, and bring me nearer to God.

"I know, O Lord, that Your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness You have afflicted me."
Psalm 119:75

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Monsters of cruelty!

("Solitude Sweetened" by James Meikle, 1730-1799)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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Now that I am a father and know the affection of a parent . . .
  would I not defend from every danger,
  would I not bestow every truly good thing,
  would I not implore every blessing—on my tender children?

Would I not . . .
  nourish their infant state,
  correct and educate their childhood,
  inspect, reprove, and admonish them in youth?

Would I allow the dear little creatures . . .
  to play with sharp pointed knives,
  to frolic on the brink of a rapid torrent,
  or dance around a pit's mouth?

Would I permit them to eat deadly berries—or to put a cup of poison to their tender lips?

However indulgent, would I allow them to disobey my commands? And if they labored under any disease which threatened their precious life—what pains or expenses would I spare to procure them relief? If assured that a physician lived somewhere who could heal them without fail—would I not send to the uttermost corner of the land? would I not travel to the ends of earth?

But, hear me, O parents! If our concern for our children ends only with their bodies—we are monsters of cruelty! Would we pluck them from fire and water—and yet permit them to plunge into the fire of Hell, and lie under the billows of Jehovah's wrath? Will we snatch from them sword, pistol or knife—and allow them to wound themselves to the very soul with sin? Will we chastise their disobedience to us—and wink at their spitting in the very face of God by open acts of sin? Are we fond to have them educated and well-bred—and yet let them live in the neglect of prayer, which is the highest disrespect that can be put on the Author of our being?

In a word, is this the sum of our kindness, is this the height of our concern for our dear children—to see them happy in time, flourishing in the affairs of this life—though they end up being miserable beyond description through eternity itself? Will their bodily pain excite our sympathy, and will we do all in our power to have their diseases healed—and yet have no concern that their souls pine under sin, and they suffer all the pangs of Hell? Will we not bring them in our prayers to the Physician of souls, to the Savior of sinners?

I have but one request for all of my children, and that is—that they may fear and serve God here, and enjoy him forever! No matter though they sweat for their daily bread—only let them feed on the hidden manna! Let them toil and spin for their apparel—but let them be covered in Christ's righteousness! How would I count my house renowned, and my family ennobled, if there sprang from it—not wealthy princes or kings, (let potsherds of the earth strive for such earthly vanities)—but pillars for the temple of God in glory, who shall dwell in the presence of the King of kings—when time is no more!

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Something to ponder:
"Sirs! Any kind of faith in Christ which does not change your life, is the faith of devils and will take you where the devils are—but will never take you to Heaven!" Spurgeon

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When they are twisted out of my hand

("Solitude Sweetened" by James Meikle, 1730-1799)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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"Mankind is born for trouble as surely as sparks fly upward."  (Job 5:7)

O, what losses and crosses, sorrows and distresses, uncertainties and anxieties, do mankind labor under!

Godly wisdom will lead me to expect nothing but vanity and vexation here below. But, O! how happy is the soul that has all the treasure in Heaven—all his happiness in God! May this be my case, and then I shall triumph in the midst of losses, distresses, disappointments, and pain!

I take a loose hold of all earthly things, that when they are twisted out of my hand—they may not torment my heart!

Eternal felicity secured, is a noble panacea, and a sufficient antidote against the heaviest misfortunes and disappointments of this deceitful world!

I rest and am composed, and calmly wait on You, resigned to His perfect determination in everything concerning me in time—until I arrive at that better country, at that perfect state, where there is neither disappointment nor pain!

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Something to ponder:
"Every lost man loves the mercies of God—but a saint loves the God of his mercies. The mercies of God, as they are the fuel of a wicked man's lusts—so they are fuel to maintain a holy man's love to God." John Flavel

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A glance into heavenly bliss!

("Solitude Sweetened" by James Meikle, 1730-1799)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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O Eternity! All at once I find myself in an unbounded flood of bliss, a spacious sea of glory—lost in wonder amidst ineffable delights, and transported with the raptures of seraphic harmony! While all His saints rejoice in His excellent glory—what ardor glows in every soul, and what rapture swells in every song! O the wondrous displays of His perfections, the manifestations of His goodness, the outlettings of His love!

Here we received out of His fullness—grace upon grace, and glory upon glory.
Our heavenly possession is worthy of our liberal Giver. We have . . .
  a kingdom which cannot be moved,
  an undefiled inheritance, which does not fade away,
  a city with foundations, whose builder and maker is God,
  garments of glory,
  a crown of righteousness and eternal life,
  the tree of life to feed upon,
  the fountain of life to drink of,
  the garden of God to walk in,
  life above the reach of death,
  health secured from sickness,
  eternal pleasure without pain!

Our bodies are immortal,
our souls are immaculate,
our senses are sanctified,
our conceptions are spiritualized,
our faculties are enlarged, and
our whole soul is glorious!

Our past bliss is with us in the sweet remembrance,
our present bliss enchants us in the enjoyment, and
our future bliss is present with us in the full assurance of our eternal felicity.

Thus we are forever blessed to the highest degree. We are . . .
  above all fear,
  beyond anxiety and doubt,
  and fixed above all change!

Our service is sincere,
our adorations are ardent,
our knowledge is profound and satisfying.

Rapture rushes in at every part!

Our eyes are ravished with seeing the King in His beauty;
our ears are ravished with hearing the songs of the inner temple;
our nostrils are ravished with the fragrance of the Rose of Sharon, the plant of renown;
our feet are ravished with standing in His holy place;
our hands are ravished with handling of the word of life; and
our mouths are ravished with the wine of our Beloved, which goes down sweetly—causing our souls to shout aloud, and our lips to sing and never cease.

Our experience of His fullness, our vision of His perfections and glory—constitute our most exalted bliss, and are the heaven of heavens!

O what torrents of eternal love teem from the glorious throne into our souls!

O the pleasure that is in His presence!

O the exuberant rivers of joy that flow at His right hand!

O love! never to be forgotten—which has brought me safely through so many winding labyrinths and crooked paths, in sight of so many enemies—in spite of . . .
  a tempting devil,
  the accusations of my sins,
  the rebellion of my lusts,
  the carnality of my affections, and
  the weakness of all my graces—
to dwell at last forever in heavenly bliss!

O eternity! Once the comfort of our longing expectations—now the transport of our enlarged souls! For we are . . .
  forever with the Lord,
  beholding His unclouded face,
  wearing His divine name,
  drinking at the streams of His pleasures,
  eating of His hidden manna,
  sitting beneath the Tree of Life,
  basking under the beams of the Sun of Righteousness,
  singing hallelujahs to Him who loved us, who washed us from our sins in His blood, and brought us here to be with Him forever!

O state of complete happiness and consummate bliss!

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Something to ponder:
"No man who is in his wits would leave the pure, cold, refreshing stream of a crystal fountain—to go to a filthy puddle, or an empty cistern. In the same way, the best enjoyments of this world are not to be compared with Jesus Christ." John Flavel

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A grey head, and a carnal worldly heart!

(James Meikle, "The Traveler" December 26, 1761)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

Hitherto I have looked upon myself as young, and coming to the prime of my life. But henceforth I shall consider myself as in my declining years. I am certain how long I have lived in the world—but quite uncertain how soon I must leave the world. And therefore I should be preparing for my final departure, and daily be ripening for the regions of bliss!

A young man and a holy life; one in his prime, and all his graces flourishing—is lovely to behold.

But a grey head, and a carnal worldly heart, is a wounding sight!
Henceforth, be gone bewitching vanities, and all the enchantments of the world!
The last years of my life are not to be trifled away with you!

Death attends me!

The grave awaits me!

Eternity is at hand!

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

"It is appointed unto men once to die—but after this the judgment!" Hebrews 9:27

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Something to ponder:

"As the tree falls at death and judgment—so it lies forever!" John Flavel

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Our Cherith

(F.B. Meyer)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

"Hide yourself by the brook Cherith" 1 Kings 17:3

God's servants must be taught the value of the hidden life. The man who is to take a high place before his fellows, must take a low place before his God. We must not be surprised if sometimes our Father says: "There, child, you have had enough of this hurry, and publicity, and excitement; get hence, and hide yourself by the brook; hide yourself . . .
  in the Cherith of the sick chamber, or
  in the Cherith of bereavement, or
  in some solitude from which the crowds have ebbed away."

Happy is he who can reply, "This Your will is also mine; I flee unto You to hide me. Hide me in the secret of Your tabernacle, and beneath the covert of Your wings!"

Every saintly soul who would wield great power with men, must win it in some hidden Cherith. The acquisition of spiritual power is impossible, unless we can hide ourselves from men and from ourselves, in some deep gorge where we may absorb the power of the eternal God; as vegetation through long ages absorbed these qualities of sunshine, which it now gives back through burning coal.

Passing back to the blessed age from which we date the centuries: Patmos; the seclusion of the Roman prisons; the Arabian desert; the hills and valleys of Palestine—are forever memorable as the holy Cheriths of the New Testament disciples.

Our Lord found His Cheriths at Nazareth; in the wilderness of Judea; amid the olive groves of Bethany; and the solitude of Gadara.

None of us, therefore, can dispense with some Cherith, where the sounds of human voices are exchanged for the waters of quietness, which are fed from the throne of God; and where we may taste the sweets and imbibe the power of a life hidden with Christ.

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." Psalm 91:1

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A little nook in the very heart of God

(J.R. Miller, "The Marriage Altar" 1898)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

 (You will find it helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

God's plan for every marriage is happiness.

Marriage is meant to be a miniature of Heaven—a fragment of the celestial blessedness, let down into this world.

Marriage is meant to be a little sanctuary, into which husband and wife may flee from earth's storms and dangers, where in love's shelter, their hearts fed with affection's daily bread—they may dwell in quiet peace.

Marriage is meant to be a shelter in which, covered from the frosts of the world and shielded from its cold and tempests—two lives may grow together into richest beauty, realizing their sweetest dreams of happiness, blending in whatever things are true, whatever things are pure, and attaining the finest possibilities of godly character.

Marriage is meant to be a holy ark, floating on the wild floods of human life—like Noah's ark on the deluge, bearing to Heaven's gates, to the harbor of glory—the lives which God has shut within its doors.

A godly marriage is a little nook in the very heart of God, where faithful souls are held close to the Father's heart, and carried safely, amid dangers and sorrows, to the home above!

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Something to ponder:

Pride thrust . . .
  Adam out of paradise,
  Saul out of his kingdom,
  Nebuchadnezzar out of men's society,
  Haman out of court, and
  Lucifer out of Heaven!
Thomas Adams, 1583-1652

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The perfection of Heavenly bliss!

(Charles Simeon)

"Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever!" Revelation 21:4

We are born for higher things than this poor world can afford us.

We know by sad experience what pain and sorrow mean; and frequent are the occasions on which tears flow down our cheeks. Death too, that king of terrors, warns us of the pains which we shall speedily endure in our conflicts with him.

This whole world is little else than a valley of tears
. At best it is a chequered scene, and sorrows are continually intermingled with our joys.

But in Heaven there will be no more pain, or sorrow, or crying; our happiness will be uninterrupted and without mixture.

Nor will there be any termination of our Heavenly bliss; for "there will be no more death." Whatever tears bedewed our cheeks in our departing hours, they will all be wiped away by God Himself; who will, from the instant of our entrance into His presence, seat us on His throne, put an unfading crown of glory upon our head, and invest us with all the glory and felicity of His kingdom.

When joy and gladness have thus taken possession of our souls, not only will sorrow and sighing flee away—but all occasion for them, all scope for the exercise of them, will vanish forever!

The crowning jewel of that blissful state is that the Lord Jesus Christ, in all the glory of His person, and in all the wonders of His love, will be made clear to us as the sun at noon-day. "We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is!" 1 John 3:2. O beloved, what a rapturous state will this be!

O that we were able to speak of it as we ought! But we feel the subject far too great for our feeble grasp.

We should contemplate Heaven as the main object of pursuit. What is there in the whole universe that is worthy to be put in competition with it? O! blush that you can have your heart engaged about the trifles and vanities of time and sense, and that these eternal realities occupy so little of your attention.

It is a wonder that you can be content to live in this poor wretched world, when there is such blessedness awaiting you at your departure from it.

Let us only think how near we are to that blissful state—and nothing will be able to damp our ardor, or retard our progress, in the pursuit of it.

"Our citizenship is in Heaven; we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who . . . will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body!" Philippians 3:20-21

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Life is too short; Love is too sacred

(J.R. Miller, "About Temper", 1912)   LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

"Love is patient and kind.
 Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
 Love does not demand its own way.
 Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged.
 It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance." 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

The ideal Christian life is one of unbroken kindliness.
It is dominated by love—the love whose portrait is drawn for us in the immortal thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians.

We have but to turn to the gospel pages, to find the story of a Life in which all this was realized. Jesus never lost his temper. He lived among people who tried Him at every point—some by their dullness, others by their bitter enmity and persecution—but He never failed in sweetness of disposition, in long-suffering patience, in self-denying love. Like the flowers which give out their perfume only when crushed, like the odoriferous wood which bathes with fragrance the ax which hews it—the life of Christ yielded only the tenderer, sweeter love to the rough impact of men's rudeness and wrong. That is the pattern on which we should strive to fashion our life and our character. Every outbreak of violent temper, every shade of ugliness in disposition—mars the radiant loveliness of the picture we are seeking to have fashioned in our lives.

The perfect beauty of Christ, should ever be envisioned in our hearts, as that which we would attain for ourselves. The honor of our Master's name, should impel us to strive ever toward Christlikeness in spirit and in disposition.

We represent Christ in this world; people cannot see Him, and they must look at us to see a little of what He is like. Whatever great work we may do for Christ, if we fail to live out His life of patience and kindness—we fail in an essential part of our duty as Christians.

"The servant of the Lord must be gentle." Only as our own lives shine in the brightness of holy affectionateness, and our hearts and lips distill the sweetness of patience and gentleness—can we fulfill our mission in this world as Christ's true messengers to men.

Life is too short to spend even one day of it in bickering and strife. Love is too sacred to be forever lacerated and torn by the ugly briers of sharp temper. Surely we ought to learn to be patient with others, since God has to show every day such infinite patience toward us. Can we not, then, train our life to sweeter gentleness? Can we not learn to be touched even a little roughly, without resenting it? Can we not bear little injuries and apparent injustices, without flying into a rage? Can we not have in us something of the mind of Christ which will enable us, like Him—to endure all wrong and injury and give back no word or look of bitterness?

There is no temper so obdurately bad, that it cannot be trained into sweetness. The grace of God can take the most unlovely life, and transform it into the image of Christ!

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In case you missed yesterday's gem, we have recently published both Testaments of "Charles Simeon's Devotional Commentaries". In hardcopy this is well over 10,000 pages in 21 volumes. These gems can be used for either daily devotional reading, or for sermon/lesson preparation. [Editor's note: This is my favorite commentary set—Matthew Henry's commentaries are a distant second.]

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His life is the textbook

(J. R. Miller, "Uniting with the Church" 1912)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

Bible knowledge alone, does not make one a godly Christian. One might know all the great facts and doctrines of the Word of God, might be a profound Bible scholar and a wise theologian—and yet not be an advanced, or even a growing Christian. We are to learn to 'live Christ'—as well as to know the truths about Christ.

Jesus in His teachings, makes a great deal of obedience, "You are My friends—if you do what I command you." John 15:14. We are to learn to be patient, meek, gentle, compassionate. We are to learn to be humble, kind, unselfish, truthful, sincere. We enter Christ's school to be trained in all the qualities which make up the true Christian life. Jesus is not only the teacherHis life is the textbook which we are to study!

We are to look to His life—to learn . . .
  just how to live,
  the kind of character we are to seek to have, and
  the meaning of the lessons which His words set for us.

We are in the school of Christ to be trained in all Christian life and duty.
The lessons which the Bible sets for us, we are to live out in common life.

For example, it is not enough to learn from the Beatitudes, that certain qualities are praised by the great Teacher; we are to get the Beatitudes into our own life as quickly and as perfectly as we can. Likewise for all the teachings of Christ—they are not for merely knowing, as one learns the fine sayings of favorite literary writers; they are for living! They are to become lamps to our feet and lights to our path, and to be wrought into the web of our character.

We are not to expect perfection in the school of Christ—but we have a right to expect an increasing knowledge of spiritual things, and also spiritual growth in all the qualities which belong to Christian character. We should become more patient, more loving, more unselfish—more like Christ!

Whoever claims to abide in Him, must live their lives as Jesus did." 1 John 2:6

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Something to ponder:

"The more I see of the glory of Christ, the more the painted beauties of this world will wither in my eyes—and the more I will be crucified to this world." John Owen