Grace Gems for APRIL, 2022

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But he was a leper!

(Arthur Pink, "Gleanings from Elisha")

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"Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man . . . but he was a leper!" 2 Kings 5:1

Naaman was a great man . . . but he was a leper! He was the victim of a loathsome and incurable disease. He was a pitiful and repulsive object, with no prospect whatever of any improvement in his condition.

Yes, my reader, the highly-privileged and honored Naaman was a leper—and as such he portrays what you are and what I am by nature. God's Word does not flatter man. It lays him in the dust, which is one reason why it is so unpalatable to the great majority of people. It is the Word of truth, and therefore instead of painting flattering pictures of human nature—it represents things as they actually are.
Instead of lauding man—it abases him.

Instead of speaking of the dignity and nobility of human nature, it declares it to be leprous—sinful, corrupt, depraved, defiled!

Instead of eulogizing human progress—it insists that "every man at his best state is altogether vanity!" (Psalm 39:5)

And when the Holy Scriptures define man's attitude toward, and relationship with God—they insist that "There is none righteous, no, not one. There is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God" (Romans 3:10-11). They declare that we are His enemies by our wicked works (Colossians 1:21), and that consequently we are under the condemnation and curse of God's law, and that His holy wrath abides on us! (John 3:36)

The Word of truth declares that by nature all of us are spiritual lepers—foul and filthy, unfit for the divine presence, "being alienated from the life of God." (Ephesians 4:18)

You may occupy a good position in this world, even an eminent station in the affairs of this life. You may have made good in your vocation, and wrought praiseworthy achievements by human standards. You may be honorable in the sight of your fellows—but how do you appear in the eyes of God? You are a leper—one whom His law pronounces unclean, one who is utterly unfit for His holy presence! As it was with Naaman, so it is with you: "He was a great man—but a leper!"

We would not be faithful to our calling were we to glide over that in God's Word which is distasteful to proud flesh and blood. Nor would we be faithful to our readers if we glossed over their frightful and fatal natural condition. It is in their souls' interests that they should face this humiliating and unpleasant fact: that in God's sight, they are spiritual lepers!

But we must personalize it. Have you, my reader, realized this fact in your own case? Have you seen yourself as you are in God's sight? Are you aware that your soul is suffering from a disease that neither you nor any human being can cure? It is so, whether you realize it or not. The Scriptures declare that from the sole of your foot to the crown of your head, there is no soundness in you. Yes, that in the sight of the holy God, you are a mass of "wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores!" (Isaiah 1:6) Only as you penitently accept that divine verdict, is there any hope for you.

"Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners!" 1 Timothy 1:15

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(Arthur Pink, 1951)

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"But if our gospel is hid—it is hid to those who are LOST! The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers!" 2 Corinthians 4:3-4

What multitudes of people there are who have no concern over, in fact, no consciousness of, their woeful condition! While they do not regard themselves as perfect, yet they are not aware that there is anything seriously wrong with them. They are respectable people, law-abiding citizens, and nothing particular ever troubles their conscience. They consider that they are certainly no worse than their religious neighbors, and though they scarcely ever read the Bible or enter a church, they fully expect to go to Heaven when they die.

Some of them will indeed admit that they are sinners, but imagine that their good works far outnumber their bad ones. Some of them were sprinkled as infants, attended a Sunday school class as children, said their prayers each night, and later joined the church. Nevertheless, to this moment, they have never realized that they are the enemies of God, an abomination in the eyes of His holiness, and that Hell is their just desert! They see no beauty or glory in the Gospel, no suitableness in it unto their case—and therefore do they despise and reject it.

Though Satan rules in their hearts and lives (Ephesians 2:2), yet it is by their own free consent. They voluntarily obey him and submit to his will. His dominion over them is maintained by . . .
  keeping their minds in darkness,
  deceiving and deluding them,
  blinding them by pride, prejudice, and the workings of their own corruptions.

Nowhere but in the Scriptures, can we learn what is the real condition of the natural man. There his case is diagnosed with unerring precision by the divine Physician. Many are the terms used therein by the Holy Spirit to describe the solemn and direful state to which the fall has reduced every descendant of Adam; and among them probably none is more pointed and awesome than is the term LOST! How dismal is its sound! How much is summed up in that single word! It signifies . . .
  that the natural man is in a sinful, wretched, and perilous state,
  that he is far astray from God,
  that he has willfully and wantonly forsaken the path of duty.

Lost! A traveler from time to eternity, treading the road that leads to certain and everlasting destruction!

Lost! A creature who has forfeited the approbation and favor of his Maker, and is now an outcast from Him!

Lost! One who has squandered his substance in riotous living, and is now a spiritual bankrupt and pauper. He is out of the way of eternal peace and blessing, and utterly incapable of finding his way back to it!

Fearful beyond words, is the condition of fallen man. His case is as hopeless as that of a dying person whose disease is incurable. A lost child is a pitiful object—but what mind can estimate, or pen depict, the tragedy of a lost soul? Lost now, lost forever—unless a sovereign God intervenes and performs a miracle of mercy for its recovery!

Man is lost positively, in that he is not what he should be. He is . . .
  a defiled creature,
  a guilty criminal,
  a child of disobedience!

Lost judicially, under the curse of God's broken Law, sentenced to death, "condemned already" (John 3:18), the wrath of God now abiding on him! (John 3:36)

Lost meritoriously, for his transgressions deserve eternal death, which is the wages of sin—and fully has he earned them.

Lost experientially in point of ability or power to recover himself, he is "not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can he be" (Romans 8:7). The moral impotency of man is such that he is utterly incapable of performing a single spiritual act: "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good, who are accustomed to doing evil! (Jeremiah 13:23)

None will know how utterly man is lost, until they experience God's wrath in Hell, and can then measure the fearful distance they have departed from Him!

Thus man is lost in every way, and in every sense!
Federally, by the imputation to him of the guilt of his representative's offence.
Effectually, by the transmission of a corrupt nature from his parents.
Actually, by his own evil conduct, "you have destroyed yourself" (Hosea 13:9).
Practically, by the forming of evil habits, so that now he is "held with the cords of his sins" (Proverbs 5:22).

Lost to God, for He has no love, no service, no glory from the unregenerate; so that they deprive Him of the honor of their creation.

Man is lost to himself . . .
  to all reason and rational inducements,
  to right conceptions and perceptions,
  to every consideration of God's claims upon him.

Lost to all sense of shame for his horrible condition in the eyes of the Holy One.

So lost as to have "delight in wickedness" (2 Thessalonians 2:12).

Lost to piety and true happiness.

Out of the way of holiness, peace, and security.

Lost in sin, in ignorance, and error.

Lost irretrievably, like a sheep that wanders farther and farther astray, until it perishes. Man is utterly unable to find his way back to God, for he is in total darkness—a wanderer in a pathless desert, perishing in a howling wilderness. What makes man's case yet worse, is that he has no desire to be recovered! He has perversely set himself up to be his own master, and stubbornly determines to please himself and carve out his own career.

Rather than return unto God, the unregenerate would take any road which leads farther away from Him. They resent His expostulations and resist the strivings of His Spirit. If not with their lips, with their hearts, they say unto God: "Depart from us, for we have no desire to know Your ways!" (Job 21:14). Yes, they would much prefer to be annihilated than yet meet God face to face, and have to give an account of themselves to Him (Romans 14:12). They hate His holiness and dread His justice, while despising His goodness and abusing His mercies!

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All our afflictions are appointed by our loving heavenly Father!

(Arthur Pink)

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

Realizing that it was the chastening hand of God upon him, David refrained from murmuring. It was not the silence of sullenness, but of meekly acquiescing to the rod. When we are in our right minds, we shall have nothing to object against God's dealings with us, or dispute with them. God is sovereign in the acts of His providence—and therefore an important branch of our obedience unto Him lies in suffering His will, as well as in doing His will. That obedience is evidenced by refusing to repine against Him by the utterance of any impatient words.

Shall vile dust and ashes censure the providential dealings of the Most High God, or impugn His goodness? Let all God's treatment of us be both wondrous and righteous in our eyes.

Matthew Henry: "If our hope is in God for a happiness in the eternal world—then we can well afford to reconcile ourselves to all the dispensations of Divine providence concerning this world."

The consideration that all our afflictions are appointed by our loving heavenly Father, should silence all complaints. It did so with David. He knew they came not by chance, but according to divine appointment.

After months of acute suffering, and still in agony of body, the last words of John Calvin were, "Lord, You grind me to powder, but it suffices me because it is Your hand."

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

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Two filthy rooms!

(Arthur Pink)

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"And when the Spirit comes, He will convict the world of sin, and of God's righteousness, and of the coming judgment." John 16:8

One of the principle things which distinguishes a regenerate person from an unregenerate one, may be likened unto two filthy rooms:

In one room, the blinds are raised and the sunlight streams in, exposing the filth all around.

In the other room, the blinds are lowered, and one walking through the room would be unable to discern its real condition.

Thus it is in the case of one who has been renewed by the Spirit: his eyes have been opened to see the awful filth which lurks in every corner of his heart.

But in the case of the unregenerate, though they have occasional twinges of conscience when they act wrongfully, they are very largely ignorant of the awful fact that they are a complete mass of corruption in the pure eyes of the thrice holy God.

Abraham acknowledged, "I am dust and ashes!" Genesis 18:27

Job said of himself, "I am vile!" Job 40:4

David admitted, "I am a worm!" Psalm 22:6

Isaiah confessed, "Woe is me! I am ruined!" Isaiah 6:5

Peter affirmed, "I am a sinful man, O Lord!" Luke 5:8

Paul considered himself, "The chief of sinners!" 1 Timothy 1:15

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What an amazing stoop of love is that!

(Arthur Pink, 1952)

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"He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the beggar from the dunghill—to set them among princes, and make them inherit the throne of glory!" 1 Samuel 2:8

What an amazing stoop of love is that!
From His throne in the Heaven of heavens, the Lord reaches down to the dunghills of earth—that He may deliver those who are in a lost and loathsome estate!

But this verse tells us of something yet more wonderful than the grace which seeks out filthy objects who are a mass of corruption—making known how high it elevates them: "To set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory."

God does nothing by halves. He exalts beggars to the status of "beloved children." He takes them into the place of nearness unto Himself. He brings them into union with His dear Son, making them "heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ!" (Romans 8:17). He takes them out of the miry clay of an unregenerate state—and sets them upon the rock. Marvelous transition and exaltation is that! Translated from the most abject condition—to the highest possible dignity!
Shame is replaced by the highest honor;
filthy rags are replaced by the spotless robe of righteousness,
poverty is replaced by the unsearchable riches of Christ!

We rightly marvel at the goodness and power of God in raising poor beggars from such depths to such heights. But let us also be awed and solemnized by recalling afresh the dreadful price which had to be paid before that could righteously be done.

The abasement of the Son of God was necessary, in order for the advancement of vile worms of the earth.

He who was rich had to seek out the lowest level of poverty, before we could be made rich.

The Beloved of the Father had to be made an object of shame, before we could be raised.

The Lord of glory must die, in order for Hell-deserving sinners to be made alive!

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The doctrine which is according to godliness!

(Arthur Pink, "Practical Christianity")

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"The doctrine which is according to godliness" 1 Timothy 6:3

The doctrine which is according to godliness at once defines the nature of Divine doctrine, intimating that its design or end is to inculcate a right temper of mind and deportment of life—it is pure and purifying. It is very much more than a series of intellectual truths intended for the instructing of our brains. The doctrine which is according to godliness, is the enunciation of spiritual facts and holy principles—for the warming of the heart and the regulating of our lives.

The objects which are revealed in Scripture are not bare abstractions which are to be accepted as true, nor even sublime and lofty concepts to be admired—they are to have a powerful effect upon our daily walk. There is no doctrine revealed in Scripture for a merely speculative knowledge, but all is to exert a powerful influence upon conduct. God's design in all that He has revealed to us, is to the purifying of our affections and the transforming of our characters.

It is absurd to conclude that if my creed is sound, then it matters little how I live. Thus it is possible to deny the Faith by conduct—as well as by words. A neglect of performing our duty is as real a repudiation of the Truth, as is an open renunciation of it!

The doctrine of grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world (Titus 2:11, 12).  By far the greater part of the doctrine taught by Christ consisted not of the explication of mysteries—but rather that which corrected men's lusts and reformed their lives. Everything in Scripture has in view the promotion of holiness.

"Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God's elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness" Titus 1:1

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Sin's enormity!

(Arthur Pink)

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"Oh, do not do this abominable thing that I hate!" Jeremiah 44:4

If we took a survey of everything on the earth, we could find nothing so vile as sin. The basest and most contemptible thing in this world, has some degree of worth in it, as being the workmanship of God. But sin and its foul streams have not the least part of worth in them. Sin is wholly evil without the least mixture of good—it is vileness in the abstract.

Sin's heinousness appears in its author: "The one who practices sin is of the Devil; for the Devil has sinned from the beginning." Sin is the Devil's trade, and he practices it incessantly!

Sin's enormity
is seen in what it has done to man: it has completely ruined his nature and brought him under the eternal curse of God!

Sin is the source of all our miseries.
All evil and wretchedness are its fruits. There is . . .
  no distress of the mind,
  no anguish of the heart,
  no pain of the body
—but is due to sin!
All the miseries which mankind groans under, are to be ascribed to sin!

Sin is the cause of all divine punishments:
"Your ways and your doings have brought these things upon you. This is your punishment." Had there been no sin, there would have been . . .
  no wars,
  no calamities,
  no prisons,
  no hospitals,
  no insane asylums,
  no cemeteries
  no eternal Hell!
Yet who lays these things to heart?

"The deceitfulness of sin!" Sin assumes many garbs. When it appears in its nakedness, it is seen as a black and misshapen monster! How God Himself views it, may be learned from the various similitudes used by the Holy Spirit to set forth its ugliness and loathsomeness. Sin is likened to the scum of a seething pot in which is a detestable carcass, and to a dead and rotting body!

There is a far greater malignity in sin than is commonly supposed, even by the majority of church members. Men regard sin as an infirmity, and term it a human frailty or hereditary weakness. The majority regard sin as a mere trifle.

Tens of thousands of religionists see so little filth in sin, that they imagine a few tears will wash away its stain. They perceive so little criminality in it, that they persuade themselves that a few good works will make full reparation for it.

All comparisons fail to set forth the horrible malignity in that abominable thing which God hates. We can say nothing more evil of sin, than to term it what it is!

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Be content with what you have!

(Arthur Pink)

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

God takes note of the discontent of our hearts, as well as the murmuring of our lips.

Not only is discontent a grievous sin against God, but it unfits the Christian for the discharge of holy duties, preventing the exercise of those graces which are necessary in order thereunto.

It silences the lips of supplication, for how can a murmurer pray?

It destroys the spirit of submission, for complaining is a fretting against the Lord.

It quenches faith, hope and love.

Discontent is the very essence of ingratitude, and therefore it stifles the voice of thanksgiving.

There cannot be any rest of soul, until we quietly resign our persons and portions to God's good pleasure.

Discontent corrodes the strings of the heart, and therefore it arrests all growth in grace.

Discontent is usually over temporal matters, and this is a sad intimation that material things are sought after more eagerly than are spiritual things. It argues a lack of confidence in the care of our heavenly Father to provide for us the things which are needed.

"How long shall this wicked congregation grumble against Me? I have heard the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against Me!" Numbers 14:27

 "Do all things without grumbling and complaining!"
Philippians 2:14

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

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So many millions of nominal Christians!

(Arthur Pink)

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"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven." Matthew 7:21

"Holding to the form of godliness but denying its power." 2 Timothy 3:5

Never have there been so many millions of nominal Christians as there are today, and never has there been such a small percentage of real believers. Never has Christendom been so crowded with those who have a form of godliness, but who are strangers to its transforming power. We seriously doubt whether there has ever been a time in the history of this Christian era when there were such multitudes of deceived souls within the churches, who truly believe that all is well with their souls, when in fact the wrath of God abides on them!

It is not that those empty professors who call themselves Christians are all conscious hypocrites, rather are they deceived souls; and the tragic thing is that in most churches there is nothing in the preaching which is at all calculated to un-deceive them; instead, there is only that which bolsters them up in their delusion!

There is a large class in Christendom today who are satisfied with a bare profession. They have heard some of the fundamentals of the Christian faith, and have given an intellectual assent thereto, and they mistake that for a saving knowledge of the Truth. Their minds are instructed—but their hearts are not reached, nor their lives transformed! They are still worldly in their affections and ways. There is . . .
  no real subjection to God,
  no holiness of walk,
  no fruit to Christ's glory.

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

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Grace levels all distinctions!

(Arthur Pink)

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

The very expression the grace of God implies and denotes that the sinner's condition is desperate to the last degree, and that God may justly leave him to perish; yes, it is a wonder of wonders that he is not already in Hell!

God is sovereign in the exercise of His grace. This of necessity, for grace is favor shown to the undeserving; yes, to the Hell-deserving.

Grace is the antithesis of justice.
Justice demands the impartial enforcement of law.
Justice requires that each shall receive his legitimate due, neither more nor less.
Justice bestows no favors and is no respecter of persons.
Justice, as such, shows no pity and knows no mercy.
But after justice has been fully satisfied, sovereign grace flows forth.

Grace has been defined as the unmerited favor of God.
If unmerited, then none can claim it as their inalienable right.
If grace is unearned and undeserved, then none are entitled to it.
If grace is a gift, then none can demand it.
Therefore, as salvation is by grace, the free gift of God—then He bestows it on whom He pleases.
Because salvation is by grace, the very chief of sinners is not beyond the reach of Divine mercy.
Because salvation is by grace, boasting is excluded, and God gets all the glory.

Grace is a divine provision for those who are . . .
  so depraved, that they cannot change their own nature;
  so averse from God, that they will not turn to Him;
  so blind, that they can neither see their malady nor the remedy;
  so dead spiritually, that God must grant spiritual life.

Grace is the sinner's last and only hope; if he is not saved by grace, he will never be saved at all.

Grace levels all distinctions
, and regards . . .
  the most zealous religionist—on the same plane as the most heinous criminal;
  the chaste virgin—on the same plane as the foul prostitute.
Therefore God is perfectly free to save the chief of sinners, and bestow His mercy on the vilest of the vile!

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The result has been . . .

(Arthur Pink, "An Exposition of the Gospel of John")

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"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you!" John 15:18-19

"Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you!" 1 John 3:13

The professing Church has boasted that it would convert the world. To accomplish this aim, it has sought to "popularize" religion. Innumerable devices have been employed to attract the ungodly—many of which even a sense of propriety should have suppressed!

The result has been that the world has converted the professing Church!

But notwithstanding this, it still remains true that the world hates the true followers of the Lamb. And nowhere is this more plainly evident, than in those who belong to what we may term the religious world!

If you resolve that by Divine grace you will live godly in Christ Jesus, then know that persecution must be your portion. And that persecution will come upon you not from atheists and infidels, but from those bearing the name of Christians. It will issue from those who still keep up a form (or semblance) of godliness, but who are strangers to its living power. It will come to you from empty professors whose compromising ways are condemned by your refusal to conform thereto; whose worldliness and carnality is rebuked by your spirituality.

Remember, it was the religious leaders who hounded the Savior to His death!

 "Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted!" 2 Timothy 3:12

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But it leads to the bottomless pit!

(Arthur Pink)

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"Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." Matthew 7:13-14

There is another gate than the narrow one, altogether different therefrom, for it is wide and gives entrance into a broad waybut it leads to the bottomless pit! It is the course of this world (Ephesians 2:2), in which all its unregenerate citizens are found. It is the path of self-will and self-gratification. It is wide because those in it own no restrictions. They have broken down the commandments of God which were designed to be a hedge about them. It is therefore a pleasant and easy way to the flesh, for . . .
  no inquiry or diligent search has to be made in order to find it,
  no resolution and perseverance are called for in order to continue treading it,
  no self-denial has to be practiced to remain therein.

A dead fish can float with the stream, but only a living one can swim against it. Just so, the unregenerate mechanically follow this road, for there is nothing in them to resist the law of gravity. The going is smooth and easy, because it is all downhill!

"Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able!"
Luke 13:24

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(William S. Plumer, "The Rock of Our Salvation" 1867)

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"For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil." Ecclesiastes 12:14

God has appointed a day in which He will judge the world. Respecting this day several things are noticeable.

All shall be judged.
Saints, and sinners;
great, and small;
living, and dead,
the servant, and his master;
the prisoner, at the bar and the judge who sat on his trial;
the assassin, and the assassinated;
the seducer, and his victim;
the invader, and the invaded;
the hireling, and his oppressor;
the king, and his subjects;
the fool, and the wise man;
the persecutor, and the persecuted;
the apostate;
the hypocrite;
the child of God and the child of the devil,
shall all be there! No one shall be so mighty, and no one shall be so lowly—as to elude the eye or the sentence of Him who shall sit upon the throne of judgment! What a massive multitude will this be—when prophets, apostles, martyrs, confessors, saints of all ages; when sinners, liars, infidels, blasphemers, moralists, and murderers—shall all be there; when the sea and the dry land shall give up their dead; when death and hell shall deliver up the dead who are in them; when all who lived before the flood, all who have lived since the flood, and all who shall have lived to the end of time, shall stand before God! This will be the first and the last assembly, in which are found every person whom God ever made.

To God, it is a certain and fixed day.
He has appointed it. Acts 17:31.
Nothing can hasten it; nothing can retard it.
The purpose of God concerning it is fixed, unalterable.

To all creatures it is an unknown day, "Of that day and hour knows no man; no, not the angels of heaven."

The day of judgment will be THE great day. It will be the greatest day in the annals of the universe! It is the day for which all other days were made. This day is so well known to inspired men, that they call it the day, that day—as preeminent over all others.

It will be the LAST day. After it, time will be no more; time will cease to exist. Duration will no more be measured by seconds, minutes, days, months, years, centuries, cycles; but all will be boundless, shoreless, fathomless, unmeasured eternity!

It will be a day of astounding exposures.
Villainy will be covered up no more.
Every disguise will be taken away.
There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed; neither hidden, that shall not be known.

It will be a day of intense excitement. There will be no listless spectators of those scenes. Every faculty of the intellect and of emotion will be aroused to the highest possible exercise. Men may sleep under sermons concerning the judgment, but they will not be dull when they go to judgment!

It will also be a day of final separation.
The precious, and the vile;
the wheat, and the tares;
the sheep, and the goats;
saints, and sinners—
shall no longer mingle together.
The separations of this day will be final.
The righteous and the wicked shall part that day, to meet no more.

It shall be a day of despair to all the unregenerate. Everywhere sinners will be crying to the rocks and the mountains: "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb!" Was ever despair more dreadful than this?

This will be a day full of surprise. Not only will it come unexpectedly, but its awards will fill both saints and sinners with astonishment. So Christ teaches at length in Matthew 25.
The wicked will be amazed that they are lost. They will be especially surprised that God sets no value on their self-righteousness.

The sons of God will receive more honor than they ever asked or thought of.
The sons of Belial will receive more wrath than they ever feared.

Christians will marvel why they are saved.
Sinners will wonder why they are not saved.

Many will be lost, contrary to the opinions formed of them by their neighbors.
Many will be lost, contrary to the opinions they had formed of themselves!

"For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil." Ecclesiastes 12:14

The judgment is coming!

The Judge stands at the door!

The time is short!

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The city was full of idols!

(William S. Plumer, "The Ten Commandments")

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"Abominable idolatries!" 1 Peter 4:3

Men never do a more vain and empty thing, than when they make or serve an idol. It is as foolish and as unproductive of good, as when one beats the air.

Idolatry is both absurd and criminal. Idolatry, in all its forms, is a sin so gross and expressive of so much folly and stupidity, that it is bewildering that men could ever commit it. To inspired writers it is a theme of just and severe ridicule; not the less pungent because a simple statement of its grossness is all that is required to show its absurdity.

"Their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands.
 They have mouths, but cannot speak; eyes, but cannot see.
 They have ears, but cannot hear; noses, but cannot smell.
 They have hands, but cannot feel; feet, but cannot walk.
 They cannot make a sound with their throats.
 Those who make them are just like them, as are all who trust in them." Psalm 115:4-8

In all this ridicule there is no caricature, no exaggeration. It is all fair, because it is simple truth. Yet, as absurd as idolatry is, there is no science, literature, philosophy, civilization, which can show its silliness so plainly, as to banish it from among men.

"While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols!" Acts 17:16
J.C. Philpot:
"The whole land is filled with idols, and the people are madly in love with them!" Jeremiah 50:38

Whatever we love more than God,
whatever we worship more than God,
whatever we crave for more than God—is an idol!

Respectable idols we can admire; vulgar idols we detest. But an idol is an idol, however respectable or however vulgar; however admired or however despised they may be.

Have we not all in our various ways, set up some beloved idol . . .
  something which engaged our affections,
  something which occupied our thoughts,
  something to which we devoted all the energies of our minds,
  something for which we were willing to labor night and day?

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There is none like Jesus!

(William S. Plumer, "Sinners Saved by Unmerited Kindness")

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"What is your Beloved more than another beloved?" Canticles 5:9

Our Beloved alone can do sinners good!
His blood alone atones. 
He loved us unto death!

Jesus has at once an almighty arm, and a brother's heart!

None is more exalted, yet none stoops so low!

None is mightier, yet none is more tender!
He shall not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax.

He is meek and lowly, merciful and mild—at the same time He is the omnipotent Jehovah!

He enlightens, purifies and comforts the heart!

His Word cannot be broken!

His power cannot be resisted!

The law of heavenly kindness is in His heart!

Great is His faithfulness!

His royal titles are . . .
  Wonderful Counselor, 
  Mighty God,
  Everlasting Father,
  Prince of Peace!

To the pious, Jesus is the source of . .  .
  all hope,
  all joy,
  all peace,
  all life,
  all comfort.

Jesus is still as gentle, as kind, as tender as when He . . .
  wept at the grave of Lazarus,
  gave eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame,
  or granted mercy to a wretch hanging by His side.

In Him dwell all excellencies!

He is full of grace and truth!

He takes poor, vile, ignorant, guilty, helpless sinners—raises them to sonship with God, and makes them partakers of His holiness!

There is none like Him! No, not one!

He is the chief among ten thousand!

Wherever He is, there is heaven!

There is none like Jesus!

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

"Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!" Revelation 5:12

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The great foster-parent!

(William S. Plumer, "Vital Godliness: A Treatise on Experimental and Practical Piety" 1864)

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Saving faith is the great foster-parent of all that belongs to scriptural piety. Faith begets . . .
  true worship,
  godly fear,
  devout thanksgiving,
  genuine humility,
  Christian boldness,
  holy joy,
  evangelical repentance,
  enlarged liberality,
  fervent love,
  a pure conscience,
  a holy life,
  victory over the world,
  eternal glory!

Faith gazes upon the cross until the course of the new nature is set on fire with heavenly love!

Saving faith . . .
  unites to Christ,
  lays hold of salvation,
  conquers every foe,
  brings every blessing into the soul,
  pronounces death abolished,
  always begets humility,
  is self-renouncing,
  consents to be nothing, that God may be all and in all,
  excludes boasting,
  is jealous for God's honor,
  brings forth forgiveness to enemies,
  begets repentance,
  nourishes other graces,
  ever clings to the fullness of Christ,
  kindles love to an unseen Savior,
  is ever laying its crown at the feet of Immanuel,
  puts things in their proper place,
  abases the sinner in the dust,
  sets God on the throne of universal dominion,
  pronounces all God's ways just and right,
  counts all things as loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of God's dear Son!

"True, saving, justifying faith carries the soul through all difficulties, discouragements, and natural impossibilities—to Jesus Christ!" (William Bridge)

"Precious faith!" (2 Peter 1:1)

If you desire . . .
  a useful life,
  a pleasant old age,
  a comfortable death,
  a blissful immortality—
believe God,
trust to His grace,
rely on His Son.

Rely on . . .
  God alone as your Father,
  Christ alone as your Redeemer,
  the Holy Spirit alone as your Comforter.

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The Lord reigns!

(William S. Plumer, "The Rock of Our Salvation" 1867)

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"The Lord reigns! He is robed in majesty!" Psalm 93:1

"The Lord reigns! Let the nations tremble!" Psalm 99:1

Jesus Christ is—
  Prince and Savior,
  the great Prince,
  the Prince of Life,
  the Prince of Peace,
  the Prince of princes,
  the Prince of the kings of the earth,
  a King,
  the King,
  the King of kings and Lord of lords!

He is God over all, blessed forever!

Christ's kingdom is universal.
It includes all worlds, all creatures, all causes.
Nothing in heaven, nothing in earth—is outside of it.
His saints praise Him.
The angels adore Him.
The devils are subject to Him.
The king's heart is in His hands, and He turns it wherever He will.
His kingdom rules over all.

His kingdom is supreme. Nothing can shake it.
Worms cannot spit their venom so as to reach the stars in their course!
Nor can puny mortals reach the person or the power of our glorious Immanuel.

Christ's kingdom is omnipotent.
By His own divine efficiency He carries on His government.
He upholds all things by His powerful word.
He does His will in heaven and in earth.
Not an empire rises or sinks, but by His will.
Not a sparrow falls to the ground, without His notice.
Every change on earth is by His providence.
He gives no account of any of His matters.

His work on His people is mighty.
He subdues them to Himself.
He reigns as their Lord and Master.
He chains their great adversary.
He subdues their iniquities.
He strips the world of its fatal fascinations.
He makes them willing in the day of His power.
He leads them into all necessary truth. 

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

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Such a god should be derided!

(William S. Plumer, "A Treatise on Providence" 1865)

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The unrenewed heart is atheistic in its inclinations.

"They say: The Lord doesn't see it. The God of Jacob doesn't pay attention." Psalm 94:7

"The wicked say to themselves: 'God isn't watching! He will never notice!'
 Arise, O Lord! Punish the wicked, O God!" Psalm 10:11-12

Nothing more derogatory to the character of God can possibly be said, than that He does not rule the world.

God reigns is a logical conclusion from God is. To deny God's providence is as atheistic as to deny His existence! A god, who neither sees, nor hears, nor knows, nor cares, nor helps, nor saves—is a vanity, and can never claim homage from intelligent men. Such a god should be derided, not worshiped! He might suit the mythology of Paganism, or meet the demands of an infidel heart—but could never command the allegiance, or win the confidence of an enlightened and pious man!

The world may as well be without a god—as have one who is incompetent to rule it, or, who, wrapping Himself in a mantle of careless indifference, abandons creation to the governance of puny mortals, to the rule of devils, or to the sway of blind chance! Such conduct may well comport with the character of false gods—but is wholly abhorrent to the nature of Jehovah! God's tender mercies are over all His works. His kingdom rules over all!

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

"For I know that the Lord is great; our Lord is greater than all gods. The Lord does whatever He pleases in Heaven and on earth, in the seas and all the depths!" Psalm 135:5-6

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

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Why is the love of the world represented as so dangerous and destructive to the souls of men?

(Nathanael Emmons, 1745-1840)

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"Do not love the world or anything in the world.
 If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." 1 John 2:15

"You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God?
 Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God!" James 4:4

Why is the love of the world represented as so dangerous and destructive to the souls of men?

The plain reason is that the world and all the things of the world, directly and powerfully tend to dissipate the thoughts of men, and so to prevent all serious reflections upon God, and upon everything serious, important, and eternal.

A habitual attention to this world, excludes a habitual attention to the eternal world!

A habitual love to this world, excludes a habitual love to the eternal world!

Worldly-mindedness excludes heavenly-mindedness!

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory!" Colossians 3:1-4

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All things have become new!

(Thomas Reade)

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"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

Our perceptions will be new. A divine light will break in upon our minds.
The darkness of error, which obscured the truth from our view, will be dissipated.

Our principles will be new:
We shall act from pure, holy, unselfish motives.
Faith working by love will be the grand moving principle.
will no longer be the pivot on which we turn, but Jesus will be our all in all.

Our practice will be new. We shall live no longer according to the sinful customs of the world, or the powerful solicitations of the flesh—but according to the holy precepts of the everlasting Gospel. We shall delight in the law of God after the inward man. It will be our food and drink to do the will of our Father.

Our plans will be new. We shall dedicate ourselves, and all we have and are, to the service of that divine Savior who loved us and gave Himself for us. We shall not be daily occupied in forming plans for worldly pleasure, or projecting schemes for the acquisition of worldly profit; but in devising means for carrying on the cause of truth, and for spreading the knowledge of a crucified Redeemer throughout the earth.

Our prospects will be new. The darkness being past, and the true light now shining—we shall see the distant radiance of the heavenly Zion, and behold, with the telescopic eye of faith, the land which is very far off!

Our privileges will be new:
God will be our reconciled Father.
Jesus will be our Savior and friend.
The Holy Spirit will be our sanctifier and comforter.
And Heaven will be our eternal home!

Our portion will be new.
All those exceeding great and precious promises, will be ours.
We shall be heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ!
We shall be the citizens of the New Jerusalem, and inherit that kingdom that is incorruptible and undefiled, prepared for all the new creatures in Christ Jesus, before the foundation of the world!

To sum up all this blessedness, we shall experience in this world a progression in holiness—and in the world to come, a perpetuity of bliss!

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What a treasure!

(Thomas Reade)

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"His delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night!" Psalm 1:2

What a treasure is the Word of God!

Here we have:
  Light, to dissipate our darkness.
  Truth, to guide us amid the mazes of error.
  Consolations, to gladden us in a world of misery.

The Bible is . . .
  the Revelation of our Father's love;
  the Expression of Jehovah's grace to sinners;
  the Depository of heavenly blessings;
  the Charter of our highest privileges;
  the Religion of true Christians;
  the Glory of our churches;
  the poor man's Friend.

Everything sublime in conception, and tender in expression—is to be found in the sacred Scriptures.

The Eternal Jehovah has there revealed Himself as . . .
  clothed with majesty and honor;
  glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders;
  of purer eyes than to behold iniquity;
  in whose sight the heavens are not clean.

In the sacred Scriptures, He has manifested His glory—as mighty to save, forgiving iniquity transgression and sin.

In that blessed volume, Mercy is seen to arrest the arm of Justice—and all the tenderness of the Father is displayed in the person of the adorable Son.

Love breathes throughout its sacred pages!

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

"When your Words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight!" Jeremiah 15:16

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The unerring hand of infinite wisdom!

(Thomas Reade, "The Sovereignty of God")

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"My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please." Isaiah 46:10

Nothing is so calming and comforting to the Christian pilgrim, as the assurance of Divine Guidance in every, even the most minute circumstances which befall him.

Without this perception of his heavenly Father's care, a thousand intricacies must beset his path. He must be staggered at almost every step. But when he beholds, by faith, the unerring hand of infinite wisdom, wielding the stupendous machine of human events, causing everything to promote the spiritual good of His people—then he quiets himself as a little child, and can say with cheerful resignation, "Father, not my will, but Yours be done!"

In such a world of change and trial, how inestimable is a calm reliance on the wisdom, power, and love of God. It fully compensates for the lack of temporal ease and wealth. If, without our heavenly Father, not even a sparrow can fall to the ground; if the very hairs of our head are all numbered—how composed should we be.

The reins of universal nature are in the hands of Infinite Love! This vast complex machine is guided by Infinite Wisdom and Power! The Almighty Ruler of the sky cannot be taken by surprise. Nothing unforeseen can happen to cross His purposes or thwart His designs. All worlds are open to His view.

If this Great and Glorious Being is our Father and our Friend—then our privilege is to rejoice at all times, and in everything to give thanks. How consoling and encouraging is the assurance that the blessed Redeemer of my soul, is the Great Sovereign of the Universe! Without His permission, nothing can happen in the vast dominion over which He sways His scepter! To His will every creature must bow—either in willing obedience, or in just and endless punishment!

"Lord, be pleased to impart unto me, your unworthy servant, this spirit of confidence in You. May I see Your hand in all the events of life—ordering the the minor, as well as in the greater movements of Your Providence. This watching and waiting for the manifestations of Your guardian care—will fill me with thankfulness for all my mercies, and make me patient under all my trials."

"My times are in Your hands." Psalm 31:15

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Lord, smite my rocky heart!

(Thomas Reade, "The Sovereignty of God")

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Adorable Jesus! I acknowledge my vileness, my
worthlessness, my ingratitude. With shame and confusion of face I look up unto You, O bleeding Lamb, for having slighted Your goodness and Your loving kindness towards me.

Take away this earthliness from my mind; this coldness from my heart; this insensibility to the things of God. Preserve me from a secret alienation of heart, from a growing lukewarmness.

You are the Rock of Ages, the everlasting Strength. Endue me with power from on high to overcome all my indwelling corruptions, which, like a thick cloud, intervene between my soul and You, the Sun of Righteousness; and thus prevent the rays of Your consolation from gladdening my heart, and making me to abound in the fruits of righteousness.

To whom can I look, to whom can I go—but unto You, O Friend of sinners. Lord, at Your sweet call, I come for pardon, peace, and holiness.

Lord! I am sorely grieved, that I love You so little; that my affections move so slowly towards You.

Stir up my languid desires.

Inflame my cold affections.

Set my whole soul on fire with holy love.

How painful, that I should be so little affected by the agony and bloody sweat, the cross and passion, of my suffering Redeemer!

Why is not my soul all on fire, when I think of Your love? Why is it not melted into tears, when I think of my dying Savior?

Am I harder than the adamantine rock?

Am I colder than the northern ice?

Lord, smite my rocky heart with the rod of your loving kindness. Dissolve my frozen affections, by the melting beams of Your grace.

O! blessed Jesus! I praise you for such infinite love, such abounding grace to the chief of sinners!

    ~  ~  ~  ~

Keep me entirely to Yourself!

(Thomas Reade, "On the Blessedness of a New Heart")

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"Oh! divine Redeemer, out of whose inexhaustible fullness I would daily draw a rich supply of grace into my needy soul, be pleased to impart unto me an undivided heart, 
  that to please You may be my greatest happiness,
  and to promote Your glory my highest honor.

Preserve me . . .
  from false motives,
  from a double mind,
  and a divided heart.

Keep me entirely to Yourself, and enable me to crucify every lust which would tempt my heart from You.

Enable me by Your grace to walk in one uniform path of holy, childlike obedience.

When tempted to turn aside to the right hand or to the left, may I keep steadily Your way—until when brought before Your throne, I see Your face, behold Your smile, and fall in ecstasy at Your feet, lost in wonder, love, and praise!"

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The Christian pilgrim

(Thomas Reade)

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"Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul!" 1 Peter 2:11

The Christian pilgrim has to journey to the heavenly Canaan, through the wilderness of this world; therefore, like the Israelites of old, his soul is sometimes discouraged because of the difficulty of the way.

The world frowns!

Satan assaults!

Providences darken!

Corruptions harass!

All these things produce, for a season, much discouragement. Like Peter, he looks at the raging waves, instead of the omnipotent Savior; and then he begins to sink into despondency, and would be overwhelmed in the depths of mental affliction, did not the compassionate Jesus stretch out His hand of mercy, and uphold him by His mighty power.

Thus, to every humble pilgrim, strength is imparted; realizing views of the faithfulness of Emmanuel are granted; and he is made to rise superior to every discouragement, and to walk, with increasing alacrity and joy, along the narrow way which leads unto eternal life!

"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." Hebrews 11:13

   ~  ~  ~  ~

He beholds the idol in its natural deformity!

(Thomas Reade)

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The converted sinner daily feeds upon Christ by faith, and daily derives strength from this gracious source of blessedness.

He feels his own weakness, and experiences the power of Jesus. He loathes himself, and truly loves his Savior, in whose righteousness he appears all lovely in the eyes of his heavenly Father.

As a pilgrim, he journeys onwards under the guidance of that Holy Spirit who dwells in him as in a temple, and who has promised to keep him by His mighty power through faith unto salvation.

The world fascinates no longer—the mask falls from its face and he beholds the idol in its natural deformity! He sees . . .
  the emptiness of human applause;
  the madness of ambition;
  the deceitfulness of riches;
  the folly of extravagance.

Everything beneath the sun assumes its true character, while he views it through the medium of God's holy Word.

The converted sinner lives by faith; he longs for Heaven; he desires to be daily conformed to Jesus, and to glorify Him more, whether it be by life or death.

To him, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Such is the character of the converted sinner.

Oh, how precious, how divine, how rare a character!

"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation!
 Old things have passed away;
 behold, all things have become new!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

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We are unworthy, but You are worthy!

(Maria Sandberg, "Glimpses of Heaven!" 1880)

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"And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders.
 No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth!" Revelation 14:3

What is this song which none but the redeemed can learn? It is the Song of the Lamb! Its theme is, "You are worthy, for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood!" And why can none but the redeemed learn this song? Angels can say, "You are worthy," but they cannot add, "You were slain for us." The unbelieving and impenitent cannot learn it.

Are we learning it? For, if we would join in this song in Heaven—we must learn to sing it here on earth. We must learn to know our own unworthiness, our own vileness, and guilt, and danger—and the worthiness of Jesus. We must learn the price at which He has redeemed us, even the price of His most precious blood. We must learn to know something of that love of Christ which surpasses knowledge.

Oh! have we in any measure learned this song? Has our heart been set in tune to join the heavenly chorus? Is it our happiness to sing the praises of redeeming love? That love which we delight to meditate upon, and celebrate on earth—will be our theme of praise in Heaven. Yes, we shall there see the depths of His unfathomable love. We shall know the riches of that unsearchable grace which Jesus has bestowed upon us; and we shall then be more than ever willing to ascribe all worthiness to the Lamb.

We are unworthy, but You are worthy! This is the one lesson which we must be ever learning; and we shall only know it fully when we reach the mansions of the blessed, when we shall see Jesus as He is, and "join in the everlasting song, and crown Him Lord of all!"

   ~  ~  ~  ~

All happiness, all satisfaction is comprehended in this!

(Maria Sandberg, "Glimpses of Heaven!" 1880)

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"They will see His face!" Revelation 22:4

What a promise is this! We shall see the face of God and the Lamb who was slain for us! We shall see the face of God in Christ! We shall see Jesus, whom having not seen, we love! All happiness, all satisfaction is comprehended in this! Long have we believed, though we have not seen; long have we desired the glorious vision of Him whom our souls love—then shall it be realized! We shall see His face!

If it has been our great delight here below to hear of His loveliness and beauty, and to have a spiritual sense of His presence—what will it be to see the substance of our hope! Yet this happiness will most assuredly be ours: we shall see His face!

While we meditate on this hope, may it exercise its transforming power upon us, and conform us now to the image of Christ! "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord—are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory!" 2 Corinthians 3:18

If we hope hereafter to see His face, we must now be, in some measure, changed into the same image. The same holy character must be formed in us, which was in Christ Jesus. He has set us an example, that we should walk in His steps; in His steps . . .
  of humility,
  of self-denial,
  of devotion,
  of love to God and men, and
  of zeal for the glory of God.

Are we treading in these steps?

Do we bear His image now?

In one sense, all, both just and unjust, will see the face of Christ; but if we would see His face with joy, and continue in the everlasting vision of it—we must bear the image of Christ now. Let us come down from the mount of heavenly meditation, retaining this truth in our memories; and resolved henceforth to seek more earnestly the grace and help of the Holy Spirit, by whom we shall be conformed to the likeness of our Savior!

"Jesus, my Savior, let me be,
 More perfectly conformed to Thee.
 Implant each grace, each sin dethrone,
 And form my temper like Thine own!"

   ~  ~  ~  ~

It is a heavenly grace!

(Maria Sandberg, "Glimpses of Heaven!" 1880)

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"All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God!" Revelation 7:11

What a view do we here obtain of the humility of those glorious and sinless beings, the angels of God! They "fall on their faces before the throne" when they worship God.

How humble, then, ought we to be, who are not pure and sinless creatures—but vile and sinful dust and ashes, who have forgotten God, and insulted Him times without number!

Humble, indeed, we ought to be—yet we are proud; we dislike humility, except so far as God graciously teaches us. Oh! it is He alone who can humble our proud hearts, and thus prepare us for the worship of Heaven. This He does by means of providential chastenings and afflictions. His design in them is to humble us, and prepare us for glory.

And shall we shrink from the process? No, let us lay our proud souls at His feet, imploring Him to undertake the gracious work of teaching us humility. Let us not fear the needful discipline. God is a tender Father—He only wants to make His creatures truly happy. We shall taste real happiness, only as we possess in any degree this heavenly grace of humility. It is a heavenly grace, for it is, as we see here, the disposition of the inhabitants of Heaven. It is a heavenly grace, for it brings into our souls a portion of the happiness of Heaven.

Oh! let us not be afraid to lie low at the foot of the cross!

The valley of humiliation is a pleasant and a fruitful place:
  there the smiles of the reconciled countenance of our God are seen;
  there fellowship with Jesus is felt;
  there love to man flourishes;
  there the painful and trembling feelings of pride and selfishness are mortified.

It is, however, only in Heaven that we shall attain to the perfection of this grace of humility, when we shall fully know:
  our vileness, our unworthiness, and
  what we owe to redeeming grace and love.

Then only shall we be truly humble; then only shall we be truly happy.

Then shall we bid farewell to the misery of sin, and taste the enjoyment of full conformity to the Divine image of Jesus!

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven." Matthew 5:3

   ~  ~  ~  ~

No longer will there be any curse!

(Maria Sandberg, "Glimpses of Heaven!" 1880)

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"No longer will there be any curse!" Revelation 22:3

Our beautiful world, filled with the wonderful works of God, bears evident traces that it is not what it was created at first. It bears everywhere, the marks of a great change—which change is accounted for in the Bible by the fall of Adam. God made everything very good—but man sinned, and the curse came upon himself and the whole creation! Though still beautiful, yet how much is its beauty marred and defaced! Now, thorns and thistles spring up, where once were only lovely flowers and sweet fruits. The wild beasts of the forest, though still beautiful in outward form—now possess violent and ferocious dispositions; and the beasts of burden groan under the tyranny of man. Man himself is subject to labor and toil, to sorrow and sickness and death. Even his most innocent enjoyments are marred by sin!

But thanks be to God, the promise of deliverance from the curse sounds in our ears in this blessed Scripture, "No longer will there be any curse!" Where then, is this land of blessing and perfection? It is that Paradise which Christ has gone to prepare for His people; that "Rest which remains for the people of God."

Here on earth, even our very blessings are mixed with signs of the curse.
But there shall be no more curse in our Heavenly home:
  no more toil and labor,
  no more weariness and faintness,
  no more hunger or thirst,
  no more bitter cold or burning heat,
  no more disappointment,
  no more sorrow,
  no more pain,
  no more sickness,
  no more death!

In Heaven there shall be no more curse, but all will be the perfection of bliss. Who can conceive the happiness of such a state? For this, the whole creation groans and travails in pain, eagerly waiting for its consummation.

Let us, then, who have such exceedingly great and precious promises, when sighing under the effects of the curse in any of its forms—gladly turn our thoughts to meditate on Heaven's glorious realities! And when admiring the beautiful works of God, which still exist to show us what they once were—let us also turn our thoughts to the greater beauty and glory of our Paradise above!