Grace Gems for SEPTEMBER, 2022

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Would such an inscription look well on some of our costly furniture?

(James Smith, "Holiness Unto the Lord" 1865)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"On that day even the harness bells of the horses will be inscribed with these words: 'Holy unto the Lord.' And the cooking pots in the Temple of the Lord will be as sacred as the basins used beside the altar." Zechariah 14:20

We are to write on all that we ARE, on all that we HAVE: "Holy unto the Lord!" We are no longer to live unto ourselves, but unto Him who loved us and gave Himself up for us. We are to have . . .
  holy thoughts,
  holy desires,
  holy motives,
  holy aims,
  holy pleasures,
  holy sorrows, and
  pursue holy objects.

1. See then, what we should BE: holy. This was God's end in our election, redemption, and effectual calling. This is God's design in all our trials, troubles, and exercises; they are for our profit, that "we may be partakers of His holiness."

2. See also, what we should DO: Write "Holy unto the Lord!" on all that we possess. We have no right to possess, use, or wear anything, on which we cannot write, "Holy unto the Lord!"

Christian, is there anything in your house, in your business, or on your person—on which it would be unfitting to write: "Holy unto the Lord?" If so, ought you to possess it, practice it, or wear it?

Would such an inscription look well on some of our costly furniture, fine clothing, or entertainments? Would it? Do not shun the question, but let conscience take it up, examine, and return an honest answer.

We should use all that we have, as consecrated to Jehovah's service and praise:
  our mental powers,
  our physical strength,
  our wealth,
  our abilities,
  our possessions
—all should be used for God, and for His glory! When about to employ any of these, we should pause, and ask: "Will putting them to this use honor God? Will it serve His cause? Will it bring praise to His most holy name?"

All who see us, dwell with us, or visit us—should be able to perceive that we have written upon all that we have and are: "Holy unto the Lord." Until they can, we are not what we ought to be, and God's end in what He has done for us, and conferred upon us, is not answered.

O Spirit of holiness, come down and by the finger of Your power, write: "Holy unto the Lord!" upon our hearts! Enable us, as the effect, to write upon all that we have and are, upon all that we purpose, plan, and do: "HOLY UNTO THE LORD!" in large and pleasing characters, such as all may understand!

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The hell of Hell!

(Thomas Brooks, "The Golden Key to Open Hidden Treasures")  Play Audio!  Download

And as there are a diversity of torments in Hell, so the torments of Hell are everlasting.

"Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels!" Matthew 25:41

The sentence which shall be passed upon them, is eternal.

Himself, who damns them, is eternal.

The prison and chains which hold them, are eternal.

The worm which gnaws them, is eternal.

The fire which torments them, is eternal.

Grievous is the torment of the damned, for the bitterness of the punishments.
It is more grievous, for the diversity of the punishments.
But it is most grievous, for the eternity of the punishments!

If, after so many millions of years as there are drops in the ocean, there might be a deliverance out of Hell, this would yield a little ease, a little comfort to the damned. But oh,
this word, 'Eternity! Eternity! Eternity!'
this word, 'Everlasting! Everlasting! Everlasting!'
this word, 'Forever! Forever! Forever!'
will break the hearts of the damned into ten thousand pieces!

Suppose that the whole world were turned into a mountain of sand, and that a little bird would come once every thousand years and carry away one grain of sand from that heap. What an infinite number of years would be spent before this great mountain of sand would be fetched away! Just so, if a man should lie in everlasting burnings so long a time as this, and then have an end of his woe, it would give him some ease, some hope, and some comfort.

But when that immortal bird shall have carried away this great mountain of sand, a thousand times over and over, alas, alas, sinful man shall be as far from the end of his anguish and torment as ever he was! He shall be no nearer coming out of Hell, than he was the very first moment that he entered into Hell!

Suppose, say others, that a man were to endure the torments of Hell for as many years as there are . . .
  sands on the sea-shore,
  drops of water in the sea,
  stars in the heavens,
  leaves on the trees,
  blades of grass on the ground
—then he would comfort himself with this poor thought, "Well, there will come a day when my misery and torment shall have an end."

But woe and alas! This word, "Forever! Forever! Forever!" will fill the hearts of the damned with the greatest . . .
  horror and terror,
  anger and rage,
  bewilderment and astonishment!

If the fire of Hell were terminable, then it might be tolerable.
But being endless, it must needs be easeless, and remediless.

The eternity of Hell, is the hell of Hell.

The damned shall live as long in Hell, as long as God Himself shall live in Heaven!

"The reprobate shall have . . .
  punishment, without pity,
  misery, without mercy,
  sorrow, without support,
  crying, without compassion,
  mischief, without measure,
  and torment, without end!"

"And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." Matthew 25:46

All the pains, torments, curse, and wrath which were due to the elect, fell on Christ, until divine justice was fully satisfied! "For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath, but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thessalonians 5:9

Oh, exalt that Christ!

Oh, extol that Savior, who has saved you from that eternal wrath!

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Jesus is only precious to believers

(James Smith, "Christ Precious!" 1861)  Play Audio!  Download

"Unto you therefore who believe, He is precious!" 1 Peter 2:7

Every believer VALUES Christ. Let others think of Him as they may, all who are taught of God, think highly of Him. They can never honor Him as they wish, or enjoy Him to their full satisfaction.

Every believer feels their NEED of Him.
No weary traveler ever felt his need of rest,
no hungry laborer ever felt his need of food,
no drowning mariner ever felt his need of a life-boat
—as the believer has felt his need of Christ!

They need to be saved, and only Christ can save them.
They need to be happy, and only Jesus can make them happy.
They need His blood to cleanse them from sin, and procure their pardon.
They need His righteousness to clothe their souls, and justify them before God.
They need His Spirit to sanctify their nature, and make them fit for Heaven.
They need His intercession to secure them from evil, and procure for them good things.
They need His fullness of grace, to supply all their needs from earth to Heaven.

Every believer discovers the exact SUITABILITY of Christ to them.
He is just what they need! He has all that they need!
They are foolish, and He has wisdom.
They are unrighteous, and He has righteousness.
They are unholy, and He has holiness.
They are weak, and He has strength.
They are in bondage, and He has redemption.
They are lost, and He has salvation.
In a word, they are led to see that God has stored up everything in Jesus, and that possessing Him they have all things!

Every Christian believes on Him to the saving of the soul. They trust Him to procure their pardon, peace with God, and everlasting life.
Their heart goes out to Him,
they repose confidence in Him,
they commit their souls to Him,
they build on Him, as God's foundation;
they hide in Him, as the sinner's refuge; and
they trust themselves with Him, as the almighty Savior.

"Unto you therefore who believe, He is precious!"

But Jesus is only precious to believers. Others . . .
  do not feel their need of Him,
  do not see His adaptation to them, and
  do not depend on Him for pardon, peace with God, and everlasting life.

Beloved, do you have this saving faith, which renders Christ so precious?

If so, admire the sovereign and distinguishing grace of God which has conferred so great a blessing upon you, for not all are given saving faith.

If so, realize the importance of this faith, which renders Christ so precious.
It is the eye, which sees the beauty of Christ.
It is the foot, which travels to Christ.
It is the hand, which lays hold of Christ.
It is the mouth, which tastes the sweetness of Christ.
It is the inward principle, which clings and cleaves to Christ.

Avoid therefore whatever weakens faith, or interrupts its exercise; and prize whatever strengthens it, and makes it vigorous!

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Everything in this world is liable to change!

(James Smith Play Audio!  Download

"Long ago You established the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure; all of them will wear out like clothing. You will change them like a garment, and they will pass away. But You are the same, and Your years will never end!" Psalm 102:25-27

Everything in this world is liable to change!
Health may give place to sickness,
pleasure may give place to pain,
plenty may give place to poverty,
love may give place to enmity,
honor may give place to disgrace,
strength may give place to weakness,
and life may give place to death.

Remember the days of darkness, for they shall be many. But though all our circumstances and friends should change, there is One who never changes! "He is unchangeable; who can oppose Him? He does whatever He pleases!" Job 23:13. With Him is no variableness. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever—and He is our best Friend, our nearest relation, our gracious Savior!

Yesterday, His name was Jesus; His nature was love; His purpose was to do us good with His whole heart and soul. Today, He is the same; we cannot expect too much from Him, or be too confident in Him—if we are walking humbly with Him. He will be our God, and we shall be His people!

Let us cultivate . . .
  intimacy with Him,
  dependence upon Him,
  concern to please Him,
  fear to offend Him,
  zeal to glorify Him;
and it must be well with us in health and sickness, in plenty and poverty, in life and death! For He is the same, and will never turn away from doing us good, but remain the fountain of love and holiness forever! "Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!" Psalm 103:1

This God is the God we adore,
Our faithful, unchangeable Friend;
Whose love is as great as His power,
And neither knows measure nor end!

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The Christian's Walk

(James Smith, "The Christian's Walk")  Play Audio!  Download

Let us daily walk looking unto Jesus.
He is our adorable Redeemer.
He is our source of supply.
Looking to Him will . . .
   enlighten us in darkness,
   cheer us in solitude,
   strengthen us in weakness,
   fortify us in conflict,
   embolden us in danger,
   comfort us in sorrow, and
   render us more than conquerors over every foe.

Let us daily walk leaning on Jesus. He will be at our side, He will lend us His arm—yes, His bosom! The posture of the Church should be ours, "Who is this coming up out of the wilderness, leaning on her Beloved?" As we get nearer to Jesus—we get further from the world! The world loses its attractions, and old sinful habits lose their power.

Let us daily walk communing with Jesus. He loves to converse with us. Let us tell Him of our foes, fears, afflictions, privations, griefs, and woes. Let us tell Him everything that tries or troubles us. He says, "Let Me hear your voice!" Yes, O Savior, You shall hear me; for I will bring all my sorrows and joys, all my trials and triumphs, all my doubts and deliverances—to You!

Let us daily walk imitating Jesus. He has left us an example, that we should follow in His footsteps. In the family, in the world, and in the church—let us endeavor to imitate Jesus. And may we receive grace to conform our conduct to His, that all who see us may take knowledge of us, that we have learned of Him who is "meek and humble in heart;" who was "holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners."

May our spirit, temper, course, and conduct—all conspire to bear testimony that we are walking with Jesus!

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Everything short of Hell is mercy!

(James Smith, "Good and Evil Alike from God" 1861)  Play Audio!  Download

"What? shall we receive good at the hands of God, and shall we not receive evil?" Job 2:10

Jehovah's Prerogative.
He sends GOOD, all good.
He sends EVIL, not moral evil, for God cannot be the author of sin, nor in any way give His sanction to it.

But He does send afflictions, bereavements, losses, crosses, pains and sorrows. He sends good and evil sometimes in quick succession. He sent the fish to preserve the life of Jonah, and the gourd to screen him from the sun; but He sent also the worm to destroy the gourd, and teach Jonah a beneficial lesson. Who can read the life of Jacob or Joseph, of David or Daniel; and not see that the Lord sends both good and evil upon His people. Hence the prophet asks, "Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord has not done it?"

The Believer's Duty. We should receive all as from God's hand. The reference is not so much to the receiving, for we must receive it; but the manner of receiving—as from God. We often receive good as from God, but we do not so receive evil; yet both alike should be so received.

GOOD should be received with gratitude and praise, with humility and love, with a deep sense of our unworthiness, and God's unmerited goodness. Nor should we forget that we are held responsible for the use of all the good things we receive from God.

EVIL should be received with patience and submission, saying with Eli, "It is the Lord, let Him do what seems good unto Him." There should be a recognition of His justice—as Aaron, when his two sons were slain, he held his peace. He was dumb, he opened not his mouth, because the Lord did it. There should also be confidence in His love, because the dispensations of His hand, never prove a change in His heart. He loves us as much when He sends evil, as when He sends good; for His love is not only everlasting, but unchangeable. 

We should receive good and evil alike, as from a sovereign, wise, gracious, and holy God!

The Expostulation. "What? shall we receive good at the hands of God, and shall we not receive evil?" Are we to view good alone as coming from God? Are we not to look at evil—at our trials, troubles, and tribulations, as coming from Him?

Are we to forget His favors, lose sight of His paternal relationship, quarrel with His wisdom and love, and thus act the rebel and the ingrate? Alas! this is too often the case. One trouble swallows up the remembrance of many mercies! We think more of one loss, than we do of the gains of years; and we are more affected with one hour's pain and sickness, than we are with months of ease and health. But it would not be so, if we were properly affected with a due sense of our sinfulness, ingratitude, and unworthiness.
Then in the midst of our good things, we would say with Jacob, "I am not worthy of the least of all Your mercies!"
And in the midst of our evil things we would say with Job, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord"

It is folly to lose sight of God's hand in our troubles. We should rather say, "This also comes forth from the Lord Almighty, who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working."

Nor is it wise to complain of His dealings with us; for a sinner out of Hell, can never have any reason to complain. Everything short of Hell is mercy!

He assures us that all that He does, is in love. His word to us, when things are at the worst is, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten." Silence befits us, though to justify God would befit us more.

We should not make too much of the instruments by which we suffer. Joseph said unto his brethren, "It was not you, but God." David said of Shimei, "Let him curse, for the Lord has bidden him." The holiest of men have always looked more at God who uses the rod, than at the rod which He used. If He appoints it, it is wise. If He permits it, it is for our good. He does nothing, He permits nothing to be done—which affects His children, but they would do themselves, if they were as wise, as judicious, and as far-seeing as He is. Nor is there a doubt, but in eternity we shall bless and praise His holy name, for the very things that grieve and distress us now. Believer, receive everything, whether painful or pleasant, as from God's hand! And bless a taking God, as well as a giving God.

Lord, pardon our folly and forgive our sins, for we have been guilty of both in our conduct toward you; and help us in the future if tempted to repine, or if rebellious feelings arise in our hearts to say: "What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil also?"

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The voice!

(James Smith, "The Voice of Christ" 1861)  Play Audio!  Download

"Truly, truly, I say unto you: the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear shall live!" John 5:25

Every believer hears the voice of Jesus, and becomes spiritually alive. He becomes deeply, intensely concerned about the things of God—to know them, to possess them, and to enjoy them.

To please Jesus, becomes his delight.
To be like Jesus, becomes his highest desire.
To be with Jesus, becomes his Heaven.

See then what we need—that Jesus should speak:
  speak to sinners, and convert them;
  speak to drowsy professors, and arouse them.
Ministers may speak, but none will heed them.
Teachers may teach, but none will be aroused by them.
It is the omnipotent voice of Jesus which is needed!
His sheep hear His voice, and follow Him!

See why some are quickened—it is because Jesus speaks to them! He may speak with the preacher, or without him. He speaks just as He pleases, and to whom He pleases.

See the dignity and power of the Redeemer—He has the power of life and death. It is but for Him to speak, and those who hear shall live! He quickens whomever He will. He gives eternal life, to as many as the Father has given Him.

O the millions to whom He has effectually spoken—and every one of those millions has heard and responded! They lived a life of faith on earth, and they are now living a life of unspeakable joy in Heaven!

See to Whom we should look. Do we want . . .
  our children converted,
  our churches revived,
  our neighbors brought to God,
  the heathen turned from darkness to light,
  or our own souls quickened?
We must look to Jesus!

O Jesus, speak to my soul and revive it!

Means without Jesus, are powerless! As the lame man lay for years at the pool of Bethesda, without a cure until Jesus came—so may we. It is Jesus, and Jesus alone, who can infuse life into the means we use, and render them effectual!

See then, Who should have the praise. Have we been quickened? Are we living by faith in the Son of God? Then Jesus has spoken to us! He has done the work, and to Him belongs all the glory! Let us praise His holy name!

"The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear shall live!"

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The very best things, for the very worst of men!

(James Smith, "Glad Tidings of Good Things" 1861)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"The glorious gospel of the blessed God!" 1 Timothy 1:11

"Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel!" 2 Timothy 1:10

The gospel is most appropriately called "Glad Tidings," for it brings tidings calculated to gladden the heart of the most depressed and sorrowful of men. It reveals God's wondrous love, it tells us of the Savior's grace, and makes known the promise and the power of the Holy Spirit. It is indeed "Glad Tidings of Good Things", for it informs us of . . .
  pardon for the guilty,
  peace for the troubled,
  wealth for the poor,
  rest for the weary, and
  salvation for the lost!

The gospel brings tidings from Heaven, tidings for sinners, tidings of good things for them; yes, tidings of the very best things, for the very worst of men!

It is the glorious glad tidings of the blessed God . . .
  giving correct views of His nature,
  revealing His loving heart,
  publishing His gracious thoughts, and
  making known His mercy to sinful men!

These tidings are calculated to . . .
  gladden the saddest heart,
  cheer the desponding mind, and
  fill the despairing soul with joy and peace.

Never were there such Glad Tidings!
No one but an infinite God could have devised them.
No one but the all-merciful God would have sent them to rebellious sinners!

Jesus is an almighty Savior.
Jesus is an ever willing Savior.
Jesus is a loving Savior!
Therefore He is able to save the vilest, to save freely, and to save all who apply to be saved by Him. The man or woman who reads these lines, is as really, as sincerely invited by Jesus—to come and be saved by Him, as if a letter had been hand-written by Jesus and addressed to that person by name!

Can you conceive of anything better than this!
  A Savior for vile sinners;
  a Savior to deliver sinners from the lowest Hell;
  a Savior to raise sinners to the highest Heaven;
  a Savior from sin, the cause of suffering;
  a Savior from guilt, the source of fear;
  a Savior from the world, which is doomed to destruction!

The gospel is also the good news of a better country, even a Heavenly one.
is . . .
  a rest for the weary,
  a home for the homeless, and
  the best company for the lonely and desolate.

Heaven comprises . . .
  all that can feast the intellect,
  all that can satisfy the heart,
  all that can fill the soul.
It is enriched with all the wealth of God,
it is filled with the glory of God, and
it is the house and home of God.

In Heaven there is . . .
 no pain or privation,
 no grief or sorrow,
 no losses or crosses,
 no temptations or trials,
 no wants or woes.

Heaven contains the highest manifestations of the greatness, grandeur, and magnificence of God. Heaven is the home of the brightest, holiest, and most dignified of God's intelligent creation.

Heaven! What is it? Heaven! What does it comprise and comprehend?
"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined—what God has prepared for those who love Him!" No one can give the faintest guess at what Heaven is; but whatever it is, whatever it contains, the gospel tells us that it is for saved sinners!

The gospel is God's best message to man. It contains the promise of all that man can need, and all that God can give—to every one who sincerely believes the message. Take heed therefore how you treat the gospel; for we can conceive of no greater sin than disbelieving God's message; or of any greater insult offered to God than to treat His message with contempt!

Precious gospel, that such sinners as we are—so vile, so poor, so feeble, so utterly worthless—may obtain God's Heaven, and dwell in it with the Savior forever!

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Heaven's great store-house!

(James Smith Play Audio!  Download Audio

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ!" Ephesians 1:3

"The unsearchable riches of Christ!" Ephesians 3:8

The Lord Jesus is Heaven's great store-house, in whom is laid up all treasures, and from whom we are to receive all our supplies!

All that we can need,
all that we can enjoy, and
all that we can desire—is in Christ!

All the perfections and attributes of God, are in Him:
  justice and grace,
  mercy and holiness,
  love and power,
in all their fullness are in Him, and are displayed by Him.

All the promises of God are in Him, confirmed by His death—to be fulfilled by His hand.

All the blessings of grace, and all the riches of glory, are in Him! He possesses and He bestows them.

All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Him, and from Him we must receive them.

All saving offices are in Christ, for His people.
He is our Surety, to pay all our sin debts.
He is our Substitute, to impute His perfect righteousness to us.
He is our Redeemer, to ransom us.
He is our Mediator, to reconcile us to the Father.
He is our Physician, to cure all our soul-diseases. He heals the diseases . . .
  of the mind; as our Prophet, He imparts saving knowledge,
  of the conscience; as our Priest, He gives us peace with God,
  and of the will; as our King, He governs His people. 

All we need, therefore, is in Christ!

All God intends to bestow, is in Christ!

To Him therefore we should apply for all, and from Him we should expect to receive all.

Every need, should send us to Christ!
Every desire, should lead us to Christ!

In all things, we should have to do with Christ. Everywhere, we should realize the presence of Christ. In a word, we should daily make Christ in our experience, what God has made Him to us in His Word—our Alpha and Omega, our first and last, our all in all. Everything should lead us to Him, and everything should serve to endear Him to us, who is at once our present fountain, and our everlasting portion!

"And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus!" Philippians 4:19

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He never thought that he would sink into Hell!

(James Smith, "Suppose I Should Die Suddenly!" 1865)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

Death has a voice—it is sent with a message to us.
It says, "I am coming for you soon! Be ready!"

Sudden death reminds us . . .
   that time is short,
   that life is uncertain,
   that death is always near,
   that we may die at any moment,
   that there is only a thin veil between us and eternity,
   that dying is going to an eternal abode, from whence we shall never return!

Death is always solemn! SUDDEN death is peculiarly so.
It should make as serious.
It should lead to reflection.

Suppose I should die suddenly? I may! There is no security against it. It is possible, if not probable:
"Dangers stand thick all around,
 To push us to the tomb!"
Any one of these dangers may push me down, and in a moment the body and soul may part. Well, suppose it should be so—am I ready?

To the true Christian, sudden death is sudden glory! The soul departs to be with Christ, which is far better than remaining here on this poor earth.

But would this be my case? Am I truly in Christ? Am I truly born again? Solemn inquiries these! Without the new birth, there can be no salvation. If I should imagine that I am born again when I am not, and then if, while deceived by such a vain hope I should die suddenly—what dreadful consequences would follow! Such a mistake could never be rectified. The effects of it must be endured forever!

Suppose I should die suddenly today! I may! And if I do,
  where will I spend this night?
  Where will I be tomorrow?
  What will be my portion forever?

Jesus tells us of one who in this life, had everything his heart could wish for; and to warn us against neglecting the soul, while feasting the body, He utters these solemn words: "The rich man died and was buried; and in Hell he lift up his eyes being in torments!" Most likely he was taken by surprise—he never thought that he would sink into Hell!

I dare say, that none of his friends supposed that he was lifting up his eyes in Hell, being in torments. But it was so, and he is in torments now, and in these torments he will remain forever!

O fearful case! But will it be mine?
Oh, it is possible, it is more than possible!

If I die suddenly as a true Christian, how glorious the transition will be. How wonderful, to be one hour in a poor world like this, engaged in its difficult duties, enduring its sore trials, and suffering from its evil habits and customs. And the next moment to be in the presence of God, suddenly free from sin, sorrow, care, and trouble; beyond the reach of doubt, fear, and the devil; and to enjoy safety, satisfaction, and the fullness of joy forever.

But the alternative! Ah, the alternative! If I die suddenly, and die unholy and unsaved, how dreadful even the supposition! But what must the reality be? To be one hour in comfort, surrounded by kind relatives and friends, in the land of hope and mercy, and the next moment in the regions of eternal despair, filled with anguish, bitter regrets, and hopeless misery!

Reader, you may die suddenly! You may die today—and if you do, your state will be fixed forever. There is no certainty of life, beyond the present moment. Therefore make your calling and your election sure!

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Afterwards you will understand!

(James Smith Play Audio!  Download Audio

"You do not understand now what I am doing, but afterwards you will understand." John 13:7

We are to walk by faith, not by sight.

We are to trust His heart, when we cannot trace His hand!

We are to believe Him, when we cannot understand His mysterious workings!

The Lord is now working in nature, providence, and grace—and He does many things which we do not understand at present. But when His work is complete, and it lies stretched out before us in the light of eternity, we shall then . . .
  comprehend His design,
  admire His wisdom, and
  adore His divine workings!

Beloved, is God cleansing you by fiery trials, or causing you to pass through deep waters? Are you at a loss to know what His design is, or where the present affliction will end?

Be still. Wait His time.

There is a divine working time, which is the present;
and there is a divine revealing time, which is to come.

The wisest Christians are often in the dark now, but the simplest Christians will see all things clearly by and by.

A little more patience, a little more faith—and all will end well.

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

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His teaching makes practical Christians!

(James SmithPlay Audio!  Download Audio

"But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name—He will teach you all things!" John 14:26

The Holy Spirit is the Teacher of the church. To Him the promise refers, "All Your children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children."

He taught the apostles all things necessary for their office and work.

He teaches the true ministers of Christ, leading them into the truth as it is in Jesus.

And He teaches every believer, all that is really necessary for him to know!

The Bible is the lesson-book,
the believer is the scholar,
the blessed Spirit is the teacher, and
experimental religion is the education!

No one teaches like Him!
He teaches us . . .
  silently, and
  always effectually!
For only what the Spirit teaches us, do we really know!

He teaches us . . .
  what God requires in His Word,
  what He has provided in His Gospel;
  what Christ is to His people,
  what His people are to Him.

His teaching makes practical Christians, for He always teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present world!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Look up!

(James Smith, A New Year's Motto" 1865)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"Look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near!" Luke 21:28

We are entering upon a new year, we shall have . . .
  new toils,
  new trials,
  new temptations,
  new troubles.

In whatever state, in whatever place, into whatever condition we may be brought this year—let us seek grace to follow our Lord's loving advice, and "look up!"

Do not look back, as Lot's wife did.

Do not look within, as too many do.

Do not look around, as David did.

But "look up!" Look up to God! He is your Father, your Friend, your Savior. He can help you. He will help you. He says, "Look unto Me, and be delivered, for I am God!"

Look up for light to guide you, and He will direct your path.

Look up for grace to sanctify you, and the grace of Jesus will be found sufficient for you.

Look up for strength to enable you to do and suffer God's will, and His strength will be made perfect in your weakness.

Look up for comfort to cheer you, and as one whom his mother comforts, so will the Lord comfort you.

Look up for courage to embolden you, and the Lord will give courage to the faint; and to those who have no might, He will increase strength.

Look up for endurance to keep you—and the God who preserves you will enable you quietly to bear the heaviest burden, and silently to endure the most painful affliction.

Look up for providence to supply you—and the jar of flour will not be used up, and the jug of oil will not run dry; but God shall supply all your needs, according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Look up in faith, exercising confidence in the Word of a faithful God.

Look up in prayer, asking for what God has graciously promised.

Look up in hope, expecting what you ask in the name of Jesus.

Look up with adoration, and adore the sovereignty, righteousness, and wisdom of God.

Look up constantly, let nothing daunt or discourage you! Rather say, "Our eyes are on the Lord our God, until He shows us mercy."

Look up, for this will keep . . .
  your head from swimming,
  your heart from sinking,
  your knees from trembling,
  your feet from slipping, and
  your hands from hanging down!

It is impossible to say what will happen to us, or what will be required of us this year—but
"Look up!" This direction, if properly attended to, will . . .
  procure for us all that we need,
  secure us against all that we dread, and
  make us more than a match for all our foes and fears!

Fellow-Christian, are you fearful? "Look up" and hear Jesus saying to you, "Do not be afraid, I Myself will help you!"

Are you discouraged? "Look up", and your youth shall be renewed like the eagle's, and fresh light, comfort, and courage shall be given to you!

Are you desponding? "Look up" for Jesus never breaks the bruised reed, nor quenches the smoking flax.

Do not look too much at your sin, but look at the infinitely meritorious blood of God's dear Son!

Do not look too much at self, but look at Jesus who ever lives to make intercession for you in Heaven.

Are you stripped of your comforts, your props, and your goods?
Then look up! He who stripped you, loves you!
He will be more than all of these to you! He will . . .
  bind up your broken heart,
  calm your discouraged spirit,
  cheer your drooping mind, and
  fill you with His own peace and happiness.

Look up . . .
  for all that you need;
  from all that you fear;
  through all that would obstruct your way.

Look up every day, saying with David, "In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You, and will look up!" Psalm 5:3

Look up in every trial, saying "I will lift up my eyes unto the hills, from whence comes my help! My help comes from the Lord, who made Heaven and earth!"

Do not look at your sin, it will discourage you!

Do not look at your self, it will distress you!

Do not look at Satan, he will bewilder you!

Do not look to men, they will deceive or disappoint you!

Do not look at your trials, they will deject you!

"Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, looking unto Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith!" Hebrews 12:1-2

Look only, look always, look intently—to Jesus!

Run looking, work looking, fight looking, suffer looking, live looking, and die looking—to Jesus, who is at God's right hand in glory!

Oh, look, look, look to Jesus!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Our path is often slippery!

(James Smith, "Preservation Sought" 1865)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"But as for me, my feet had almost slipped!
 I had nearly lost my foothold!" Psalm 73:2

The Christian is always on dangerous ground!

We may fall into sin, even when we cannot fall into Hell.
We may break our bones, when we cannot break our neck.
We may make sad work for repentance, when we do not incur a sentence of final condemnation.
We are liable to fall by error, which is specious and powerful.
We are liable to fall by Satan, who is crafty and malicious.
We are liable to fall by our weakness, which is very great.
We are liable to fall by sinful pleasures, in which the flesh takes delight.
We are liable to fall by our unhallowed tempers, which need constant watchfulness and incessant prayer.
We are liable to fall by erroneous people, who may, like Satan, lie in wait to deceive us.

We therefore need keeping—constant keeping, divine keeping!

Our path is often slippery
, and we are apt to be incautious. But it is our unspeakable mercy, that God has promised to keep us. "He keeps the feet of His saints."

But He will have us feel our weakness, and need of His keeping, and plead with Him to keep us: "Hold me up, and I shall be safe!" Psalm 119:117

"My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!
 He will not let you stumble; the One who watches over you will not slumber.
 Indeed, He who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.
 The Lord Himself watches over you!
 The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.
 The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever!"
     Psalm 121

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What is man?

(by Don FortnerPlay Audio!  Download Audio

Hebrews 2:6, "What is man, that You are mindful of him?"

What is man?
In the light of God's greatness and glory, it is an astonishing thing that God should be mindful of man—especially when we see the answer given in the Bible to the question, "What is man?"

Man is set before us in the Word of God as the particular, distinct object of God's mercy, love, and grace. But what is man?

Anyone who knows and acknowledges the greatness of God, will also freely acknowledge the utter insignificance of man. As soon as David looked up to Heaven and spoke to God of His greatness—his heart was humbled, his pride was withered, and he cried, "What is man, that you are mindful of him?"

It is impossible for anyone to have both great views of God—and great views of man.
Those who imagine that man is great—think that God is insignificant.
Those who know that God is great—know that man is insignificant.

"What is man, that You are mindful of him?" Here is:
  greatness, and littleness;
  grandeur, and nothingness;
  excellence, and corruption;
  majesty, and baseness;
  God, and man!

What is man?
The Word of God tells us plainly:
Genesis 3:19, "You are dust, and you will return to dust."
Isaiah 40:6, "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field."
Psalm 39:5, "Truly, every man at his best state is altogether vanity!"

What is man?
Do not ask:
  philosophers what they imagine,
what they teach, 
  scientists what they see under microscopes,
  psychologists what they see in their clinics, or
  sociologists what they learn from observation.

Ask God who made us!
He declares in His Word that man is fallen, depraved, sinful, cursed, condemned, helpless, dying flesh!

Men are grasshoppers before Him.
Men are the dust of the earth, nothing more.
Man is a lump of clay, a puff of smoke, a mist of vapor, the small dust of the balance, a drop in a bucket.
All the nations of all men in all the world are less than nothing before the great and infinite God!
Man is insignificant!

God, teach us to know our insignificance, that we may look to Christ for everything!

If you are unable
Ryle's superb article on "Holiness". You will find it profitable to listen to the audio, as you read along in the text.

    ~  ~  ~  ~

Watch His hand!

(James Smith, "Direction For the Perplexed" 1865)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding.
 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6

This implies that God is always present with us, is willing to be consulted by us, and will surely attend to us.

This implies that our way is likely to be difficult, dark, and perplexing; a way in which we have never traveled before, and in which we are likely to be misled.

This implies that only way to be safe, to walk securely, is to seek Divine direction; and this God is willing to give, but He will have us ask it of Him.
We are dependents, and we must realize our dependence.
We are but children, and we must feel it, and act as under the impression of it.

"In all your ways acknowledge Him."

You have His Word, consult it; make it your counselor, your directory and your guide.

You have His promise, believe it; He says, "I will teach you and instruct you in the way which you shall go, I will guide you with My eye."

You have His throne of grace, flee to it, and plead with Him as a man pleads with his friend.

And, while you consult His Word, believe His promise, and pray for direction—watch His hand! Providence is God working; working to accomplish His purposes, to fulfill His promises, and to answer the prayers of His people.

In His Word, He speaks to us;
on His throne, He listens to us,
by His providence, He works for us, and those who keep their eye open, will be sure to see His hand.

While you watch His hand, seek grace to submit to His will. He wills to do you good, the greatest good; and if His will crosses yours, depend upon it, it is just because it is most for your benefit.

Gratefully acknowledge His favors as you receive them. Remember that, as sinful creatures, being criminals and traitors, we have no "rights".
Consequently, everything short of Hell, is a mercy!
Everything but eternal punishment, is a favor!
How many favors and mercies you receive—and how few praises you render!
How many mercies are given you—and how few acknowledgments you make!

He who habitually . . .
  consults God's holy Word,
  believes His faithful promises,
  pleads at His gracious throne for direction,
  watches His working hand,
  submits to His righteous will, and
  gratefully acknowledges His sovereign favors—
will never be allowed to go far wrong, or to go wrong for long; for "He shall direct your steps!"

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The object of God's tender, perfect and ceaseless care!

(James Smith, "Divine Care!" 1865)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you!" 1 Peter 5:7

Our cares must be cast upon our God, or they will prove a burden too heavy for us—they will depress, bewilder, and make us wretched!

WHO is it that cares for us?

It is the Lord Almighty, the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity, whose name is holy!

It is He whom the angels obey, the seraphim adore, and all creation glorifies!

It is the Lord, who is so great, that we have no adequate conception of His greatness!

It is He who is so good, that it is impossible fully to set forth His goodness!

It is He who is so glorious, that no sinner can see His face and live!

It is He who created all things with His Word!

It is He who governs all things by His wisdom!

It is He who upholds all things by His power!

It is He whose resources are infinite!

It is He whose compassion is exquisite!

It is He whose patience is without limit!

But though He is so exalted, so happy, and so unspeakably great—He cares for you!

He cares for you, as base as you are.
He cares for you, as sinful as you are.
He cares for you, as depressed and discouraged as you are.

HE cares for YOU!

May I pass through the present world under the impression, "I am the object of God's tender, perfect and ceaseless care!"

"Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall." Psalm 55:22

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The Rest!

(James Smith, "The Rest!" 1865) Play Audio!  Download Audio

"There remains therefore a rest for the people of God." Hebrews 4:9

We shall consider these words as referring to HEAVENLY rest:
our Father's house,
  our Savior's home, and
  our eternal dwelling-place!

To the weary and way-worn, there is something delightful in the thought of REST.
They love to think of Heaven as the place where they shall "rest from their labors."

REST gives us the idea of . . .
; the calm, quiet repose of the soul,
; the refreshment of the exhausted spirit after conflict, sickness, or toil,
  restoration to vigor
; after debility, languor, and fainting.

Heaven will be a rest . . .
  from sin, which will no more grieve us;
  from sorrow, which will no more trouble and distress us;
  from fears, which will no more harass and perplex us; and
  from conflicts, which will no more agitate and suppress us.

It will be a rest . . .
  with God in His glory,
  with Jesus in His immediate presence,
  with saints and holy angels in full perfection and blessedness.

This rest is FUTURE, it remains for the people of God.

This rest is the object of our hopes and DESIRES.
We look forward to it, with holy longing and cheering anticipations.

This rest is PERFECT, free from all mixture of anything that will agitate, give pain, or cause grief.

This rest is UNINTERRUPTED, nothing will ever occur to disturb, distress, or agitate us any more.

This rest is GLORIOUS,
  as bright as the meridian sun,
  as balmy as the most pleasant morning,
  as glowing with holiness, splendor and majesty.

This rest is ETERNAL, and this is best of all! The possibility of a change, of a return to former scenes—would spoil all. But this rest will be enduring, as changeless as the Divine nature, and as glorious as the Divine perfections.

Blessed be God for such a rest for the weary, suffering, and downcast believer in Jesus!
Oh, to keep the eye fixed upon it, and the heart expecting it—amidst all the troubles and trials of time!

This rest is FOR the redeemed people of God.
They are now a poor, tried, tempted, and restless people.
They are strangers and pilgrims upon the earth, as all their fathers were.

Satan tempts them,
the ungodly try them,
fears harass them,
Providence perplexes them.
They often cry out, "O that I had wings like a dove, then would I fly away and be at rest!"

Believer, let the prospect of this eternal glorious rest, cheer you in toil and trouble! Your work will soon be finished, your trouble will soon come to an end—and then rest, the glorious rest, remains for you!

Let your Heavenly rest quicken your pace homewards!
You are going to a rest—a perfect, uninterrupted, and eternal rest . . .
  a rest in Heaven,
  a rest with Jesus,
  a rest in the presence of your God forever!

Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, and press on towards the mark, cheered by the prospect of the end of the race.

Remember, Christian, this rest is SECURE, for Jesus has taken possession of it for you.
"I am going," said He, "to prepare a place for you." Yes, Jesus has gone there for you, He has taken possession in your name, He is preparing your place, and will soon come and receive you to Himself!

Remember too, that it is NEAR, very near. Perhaps much nearer than you may think!

You may be sighing, sorrowing, striving, wrestling, doubting, fearing, and cast down today; and tomorrow you may be in your Heavenly rest!

Today, you may be lying like Lazarus, at the rich man's gate, full of sores.
Tomorrow, you may be basking in the beams of Immanuel's glory!

Today, you may be on the bed of sickness, suffering, and pain.
Tomorrow, you may be in the presence of Jesus, where there is no more pain, nor sorrow nor crying!

Who can tell how near we all are to our Heavenly and everlasting rest?

Remember also, that your very trials, toils, and sufferings here on earth—may sweeten your rest to you! Soon, very soon, you may be rejoicing over your present sorrows, and praising God for what now fills you with grief and sadness. Things will look very different there, from what they do here. Never, never forget . . .
  in your darkest nights,
  in your most trying days,
  in the midst of every storm and tempest,
  when passing over burning sands and under a scorching sky,
that there remains a rest for the people of God, and a rest for you!

"Arise and depart; for this is not your resting place, because it is defiled, it is ruined, beyond all remedy!"

"There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary are at rest!"

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Behold the Man!

(James Smith, 1865)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"Behold the Man!"
John 19:5

They scourge Him, crown Him with thorns, clothe Him with an old purple robe, smite Him with their fists; and now Pilate brings Him forth, saying, "Behold the Man!"

In His whole life He was holy, harmless, undefiled, full of mercy, and went about doing good. Yet, because He condemned sin, and required submission to God's righteousness, He was hated, persecuted, and murdered!

Let us behold this Man!
He exercised all the virtues which could adorn humanity. See His meekness, gentleness, patience, faith, fortitude, pity, and perfect love to God and man. O lovely character! O perfect pattern of holiness!

Behold, and adore Him heartily.
Behold, and trust in Him implicitly.
My soul, behold the man!

See . . .
  His grief-stricken countenance,
  His battered frame,
  His breaking heart,
  His bleeding brow;
He is enduring all this for you!

Behold Him, and . . .
  do not doubt His love,
  nor question His veracity,
  nor fear your foes,
  nor dread your heavenly Father's wrath!

Behold Him, as . . .
  the proof of God's love to you,
  the confirmation of all the promises made to you, 
  the pledge of all the blessings set before you.

Behold Him, and sympathize with Him.
Look on the pierced One, and "mourn for Him."

Behold Him, and give yourself afresh unto Him!

Behold Him, and crucify your flesh with its passions and lusts.

Behold Him, until a deep impression is made upon your heart, and the love of sin departs!

Behold Him, if tempted to murmur, or complain, or repine at any of the dispensations of Divine Providence.

Behold Him, when Satan or the world allures you to sin, or would draw you away from your God.

Behold Him, when death stares you in the face, and the grave is ready for you.

"Behold the Man!"

Behold, and love Him more!
Behold, and imitate Him more!
Behold, and serve Him more!

May the Man of Sorrows be daily before my eye!

And may I also behold Him, coming in power and great glory!
What a contrast will there be:
  between His first, and second coming;
  His cross, and His throne;
  His crown of thorns, and His crown of glory;
  as He appeared before Pilate and the Jewish rabble, and as surrounded with all the armies of Heaven, and all His saints with Him!

"Behold the Man!"

   ~  ~  ~  ~

In a few days, I may be in Hell!

(James Smith, "A Solemn Thought!" 1865)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"Are not my days few?" Job 10:20

You may be living as if you thought that your days would be many—living in sin and in folly, and neglecting your everlasting concerns! You may be planning and scheming, as if you were to live here forever, or were at least sure of many years to come. Years! why we are not sure of months, weeks, days, hours, nay minutes! At the best, our days will be few!

If my days are few, then time will soon end with me, eternity will soon open upon me—and I shall soon know what Heaven, or Hell, really is! How solemn!

In a few days, I may be in Heaven! I may see the Lamb in the midst of the throne. I may be joining with the triumphing multitude in the presence of God.

But in a few days, I may be in Hell! In Hell? Yes, in Hell!
In unquenchable fire!
In everlasting burnings!
In unutterable torments!
The sport of devils.
The companion of damned souls.
Under the blighting, blasting, and withering curse of God.
Hell! Who can tell what Hell is?
Who can describe its tortures, its horrors, its terrific scenes?

Are not my days few? Yes! Then I must soon be in Heaven—or Hell.

Reader, your days are few! They may be very few, much fewer than you have calculated on. Suppose they should end! Suppose the decree had gone forth from the eternal throne: "Tomorrow you shall die!" and you were to be informed of it by some angelic messenger who heard it pronounced—how would you feel? How? What would you do? Where would you be for eternity?

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

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Our Father refuses to answer such questions!

(James Smith, "PERPLEXITY" 1865)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts; neither are your ways, My ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts!" Isaiah 55:8-9

God's dealings are very mysterious. His way is in the sea, and His path in the mighty waters, and His footsteps are not known.
We looked for light, but behold darkness.
We expected success, but we meet with failure.
We anticipated prosperity, but we are plunged into adversity.
Our purposes are broken off.
Our plans are frustrated.
Our skies are clothed with clouds.
Beloved, such is the case with us sometimes! Our circumstances are so painful, so different from what we anticipated, that in bewilderment we exclaim, "Truly, You are a God who hides Yourself!"

God will do just as He pleases with His own children. He has the right, and He will exercise it. He will often . . .
  cross our wills,
  hedge up our paths,
  cut off our expectations, and
  give us wormwood and gall to drink!

And why? Because He loves to cause us pain, or takes pleasure in our sighs and sorrows? No! Oh, no! But because He consults our welfare. Because He is wiser than we are!

Why am I poor, and my brother rich?
Why am I sick, and my sister healthy?
Why are my efforts crossed, and my neighbor's crowned with success?
This is often deeply trying. But our Father refuses to answer such questions! He asks, "May I not do as I will, with My own?" He kindly quiets us by the assurance, "You don't understand now what I am doing, but someday you will." Well did the patriarch exclaim, "He gives no account of any of His matters."

How difficult to say sometimes, "Though He slays me, yet will I trust in Him!" How difficult to believe that this rough road is the right road, which leads to the Celestial City.

Our Father wisely appoints the circumstances and lot of every one of His children. He has mapped out the path in which they are to travel. He has appointed their bounds, which they cannot pass. Then with Job we say, "He is of one mind, and who can oppose Him? He does whatever He pleases. He will certainly accomplish what He has decreed for me."

We must not murmur, we must not complain—but patiently follow wherever the Lord leads, and quietly bear whatever He lays upon us. Patience must calm the spirit, quiet the heart, and close the mouth. Then shall we say with the Psalmist, "I was silent, I opened not my mouth—because You are the One who has done this!"
Had it been man, it might have been wrong.
Had it been chance, it might have been injurious.
But it was You—and therefore it must be wise, holy, and kind.

We are required quietly to persevere, though the way is rugged, though the thorns pierce our feet, though we cannot see one step before us! We must walk by faith, not by sight, believing . . .
  that we are safe, in the midst of danger;
  that we are right, though everything is perplexing;
  and that all will end well, for "We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him, and are called according to His purpose!" Romans 8:28

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The eye of God!

(James Smith, "God's Knowledge of Us" 1865)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

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

"The Lord searches every heart and understands the intention of every thought!" 1 Chronicles 28:9

"I am the one who searches out the thoughts and intentions of every person!" Revelation 2:23

"O Lord, You know!" Jeremiah 15:15

God's perfect knowledge is like the pillar-cloud which led Israel out of Egypt, and through the wilderness: it is dark and a cause of terror to His enemies, but it is light and a source of comfort to His children.

"O Lord, You know" my SINS and FOLLIES! No one else does. No one else ever will. How could I look anyone in the face—if I thought he knew what was passing in my heart, or what is transacted in the chambers of my imagination within!

The Lord alone can search the heart. He alone knows the worst of us, and He alone knows the best; for the best and the worst, are both concealed in the same heart. The eye of God sees . . .
  every motive,
  every thought,
  every lust,
  every action!

His eye is on that mysterious portion of our nature called the imagination, on which such strange pictures are often painted, in which such fearful scenes are sometimes transacted. "You know my folly, O God; my guilt is not hidden from You!" Psalm 69:5

What streams of moral filthiness sometimes flow from the heart into the imagination! How difficult sometimes to keep it back.

What a depth of pollution there is within us!

What billows of corruption sometimes roll and swell!

Little does the young Christian think what the pure and holy eye of God sees within him; and what his own eye will one day discover, filling him with alarm, if not with horror, with shame and self-loathing! Then he will enter into poor Job's confession, "Behold, I am vile!" and into Isaiah's exclamation, "Woe is me! I am undone!"

"What more can I say unto You? For You know Your servant, O Sovereign Lord!" 2 Samuel 7:20

But blessed be God, the righteousness of Jesus covers all, and conceals all; and the grace and Spirit of God will ultimately purge away the whole foul heap from us!

Now our iniquities are forgiven, and our sins are covered.
But then our natures will be perfectly purified, and be as white as the falling snow!

"Beloved, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is!" 1 John 3:2

    ~  ~  ~  ~

This is the worst part of the picture!

(James Smith, "A Serious Inquiry" 1865)   Play Audio!  Download Audio

"Lord, what is man, that You should notice us—mere mortals that You should care for us?" Psalm 144:3

1. What is man MORALLY? This is the worst part of the picture! It is bad enough to see man diseased, suffering, dying, moldering to dust; but when we come to inquire into the cause of all this, it is fearful indeed!

Man is dreadfully depraved. He has fallen from the state in which his good and glorious Creator placed him.
He is now totally depraved.
He is God's enemy.
His heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.
His carnal mind is enmity against God.
He is full of evil principles and evil passions.
He has become, not only unprofitable, but abominable!

No part of God's creation presents such a hideous sight to His pure and holy eyes, as man does; for in man, heart and mind are alike depraved, and set in opposition to Himself.

Man is wicked; but he is not only wicked, he is weak.
Sin has become a fearful disease within him.
He has no will to do good. He has no power to do good, even if he had the will.

Man is perverse, he closes his eyes, his ears, and his heart against God! It is only for God to require something, and man determines not to do it; or for God to prohibit something, and man immediately desires it! His will is as much opposed to God as it can be. He slights His mercy, dares His justice, and defies His power. He perseveres in sin, unless the Lord by His invincible grace prevents him. He has sunk lower than the beasts which perish!

There is everything in man to offend the eyes of God's holiness, and to grieve His loving heart. Looking at man as fallen, polluted, and under the power of sin—we may well ask, "What is man, that You are mindful of him?" Psalm 8:4

And will God, the great, the glorious, the holy God, take poor, sinful, vile, wretched man for His choice, His child, His companion? He will. He has done it. He is daily doing it. What astonishing grace!

2. What will renewed man BE? This is a question which no man can answer, for even the inspired Apostle John confesses his ignorance, "Beloved," says he, "now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be, but when He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is!" "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him!"

Renewed man will be like Jesus! Man will be with God. Man will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of his heavenly Father. Man will see and hear and know, and possess, and enjoy—all that he can possibly desire, all that his glorified nature is capable of. He will be more than unfallen Adam was, more than angels are—for he will be as nearly like God as perfected human nature can be made like the Divine!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

More dreadful than Hell!

(James Smith, "He Gives Grace to the Humble" 1859)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?" Romans 7:24

The godly man has a deep sense of the evil of sin.

He looks upon sin as the bitter root, from which springs . . .
  all the woes and wars,
  all the sadness and sorrow,
  all the pains and pollution,
  all the misery and madness,
  and all the torment and terror
 —to be found in God's universe!

He regards sin as that abominable thing which God hates!

It is to him a loathsome object; and a subject fraught with all that is base, degrading, and horrible. He looks at sin as more dreadful than Hell! Indeed, he considers sin to be the evil of all evils, and considers that nothing is evil in comparison with sin!

He often thinks of sin as it has . . .
  grieved God's heart,
  murdered God's only begotten Son, and
  vexed and resisted the Holy Spirit.

O if he could be but free from sin!

"Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be, has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is!" 1 John 3:2

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The Sure Resource!

(James Smith, 1858)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"God is our refuge and strength—an ever-present help in times of trouble!" Psalm 46:1

God intended Himself to be the great fountain of supply to His creatures. All are to be dependent on Him, and to look for their supplies from Him. Just so, the believer is to apply to God for all. Ample provision is made, but it is only in Jesus. Promises are given, but they are to be fulfilled by Jesus. He possesses all fullness, and as such He presents Himself to us as His needy dependent creatures, and says, "Look unto Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other!" Isaiah 45:22

This is the business of faith and prayer: to look to Jesus, and apply to Jesus for all that we need. Let us consider these words as spoken unto us every day, as calling us away from dependence on the creature, and as directing us how to act under all circumstances. It is Jesus who speaks. Jesus, as God. Jesus, as the Savior. Jesus, full of sympathy and power. Let us therefore listen to, and act upon His Word.

"Look unto Me, and be supplied. Whatever you need, either for body or soul, come to Me for it! I have the very blessing which you require. I am prepared to supply you with it, except it would be to your injury for Me to do so. You must leave Me to judge whether it will be for your good, and whether this is the best time for you to have it; but if it is, I will surely give it to you. Bring all your needs to Me, express all your desires before Me, exercise faith in Me—and your supplies are certain!"

Let us then leave off complaining, repining, and fretting; and let us look to Jesus for whatever we need, for all we need, and whenever we need. He is able to do more for us than we are able to ask or think; and He loves to be applied to, for He rejoices to supply our needs.

"Look unto Me, and be strengthened." We are very weak and feeble, and we need much strength. We have . . . .
  crosses to carry,
  burdens to bear, and
  innumerable difficulties to overcome.

Our journey is long,
the way is rough,
and our faith is feeble.

But Jesus is the Strong One, who has all strength in Himself—and that strength He imparts to the weak, the weary, and the wavering, who put their trust in Him. By looking to Him, or exercising faith in Him—we find strength flow into our soul; and we become strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Absent from Jesus, or neglecting to exercise faith in Jesus—we are weak and faint, and are sure to be overcome. If therefore we would be strong to labor, or to fight the Lord's battles, or to travel our pilgrim way—we must keep the eye of faith fixed on Jesus, and seek our strength from Him.

"Look unto Me, and be comforted." We are poor comfortless things in ourselves, and we meet with much to cast us down and make us unhappy. We daily need daily comfort, as much as we need daily food. Jesus is the Comforter of those who are cast down. He comforts us . . .
  with loving words,
  with holy communion with Himself,
  with sweet meditations,
  with holy foretastes of Heaven.
His presence is the joy of His people; and His presence will make them happy everywhere. Let us then, when our souls are cast down, when the springs of joy are low, when everything around and within us is depressing—look to Jesus, and He will comfort us with His love!

"Look unto Me, and be counseled." We often need advice, for we know not what to do, or which way to go. Friends cannot help us; our way appears to be hedged up, nor can we find our paths. We feel at times, that we would give anything if we only knew what to do, or which way to go. We are in deep perplexity, in profound distress. Now is the time to apply to, and prove the kindness of, the "Wonderful Counselor."

Jesus says, "Look unto Me, I will teach you and instruct you in the way which you shall go. I will counsel you, and My eye shall be upon you." Precious Savior! He loves to be consulted, nor will He allow any sincere and simple believer, to consult Him in vain. He knows our path, He will point out our way. He understands our difficulty, and will show us how to escape it!

"Look unto me, and be saved."
 Saved from every danger.
 Saved from every foe.  

Saved from sin, and all its penal consequences.
  Saved fully.
  Saved freely.
  Saved eternally.
Jesus loves to save. He saves all who look to Him. Let us therefore look unto Him: in all times of danger, when assaulted by our foes, and when our own hearts mislead us. Let us look to Him all through our life.

And when called to face death and eternity, let us especially look unto Him.
He will be with us in the dark valley, and whisper peace.
He will go with us across the Jordan, and cheer our sinking hearts.
He will guide us to the golden gates, and lead us up the glorious streets, and present us unto His Father!

O my soul, look to Jesus . . .
  whenever Satan assaults you,
  whenever foes beset you,
  whenever needs oppress you, and
  when death stares you in the face!

Look to Jesus for grace, and He will bestow it!

Look to Jesus for strength, and He will impart it!

Look to Jesus for comfort, and He will confer it!

Look to Jesus for counsel, and He will give it!

Look to Jesus for salvation, and He will confer it.

Look for all that He has promised, for all that you feel you need—and He will not deny you what is best for you.

Remember, ever remember, that Jesus is "a Sun and Shield; He will give grace and glory; and no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly."

"The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed; a refuge in times of trouble." Psalm 9:9

"He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge!" Psalm 144:2

"Keep me safe, O God, for in You I take refuge!" Psalm 16:1

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The vilest and the foulest thing in all creation!

(James Smith, "Sunny Subjects for All Seasons" 1858)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"The Lord saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time." Genesis 6:5

"The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked.
 Who really knows how bad it is?" Jeremiah 17:9

No man by nature really believes God's representation of the human heart. Nor does the young Christian realize it fully. God calls us to learn the plague of the heart.

The vilest and the foulest thing in all creation is the heart of man!
There are profound depths of evil there!
There are the seeds of all dreadful moral maladies there.
No man's conduct, as bad as it may be, is ever as bad as his heart is.

Just in proportion, as we learn the plague of our own hearts, do we . . .
  admire the free and distinguishing grace of God,
  see the need of the Holy Spirit's work and operation,
  value the glorious atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is a life's lesson, to learn the plague of one's own heart.

Click here to see a picture of YOUR heart!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

I am somewhat like that bird!

(James Smith, "Sighing for Jesus" 1858)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"As the deer pants for streams of water—so my soul pants for you, O God! My soul thirsts for God, for the living God! When can I go and meet with God?" Psalm 42:1-2

I have just been reading of the last days of a true believer, and his whole dying experience was comprehended in one sentence, "I am sighing for Jesus!" He did not sigh for life, nor for ease—but he was sighing for Jesus.

I cannot help observing how much of my experience now, is expressed in those words, "I am sighing for Jesus." Yes, yes, I can do without riches, or fame, or the honor which man confers. I am pretty well content with what providence sends me—and yet I often sigh, and sigh deeply too. Some would think me unhappy, but I am not. Some may conclude I am discontented with my situation in life, but I am not. Yet I sigh, I often sigh.

I have read of a bird, which if caught and caged—never ceases to sigh, until it obtains its liberty, or dies. I am somewhat like that bird, and I expect I shall continue to sigh, until I obtain my desire.

I have had a glimpse of Jesus, and I sigh for a full view of Him.

I have tasted the sweetness of communion with Him, and I sigh for uninterrupted fellowship.

I have felt a little of the cleansing influence of His precious blood, and Holy Spirit—and I sigh for a thorough cleansing, that I may be perfectly and forever holy.

I sigh for Jesus, that I may . . .
  know Him more perfectly,
  love Him more entirely, and
  enjoy Him uninterruptedly!

I sigh to be exactly like Jesus!

I sigh to be forever with Jesus!

I believe that if I were just like Him, and always with Him—that I would sigh no more; and I think that nothing else will put a complete stop to my sighing.

Yes, the day is coming, and it may be very near—when the days of my mourning will be ended, and when I shall heave the last sigh, and begin the never-ending song! My sorrows will soon end, and my sighing will forever cease! I shall soon be with Jesus, like Jesus, and everlastingly employed in praising Jesus! And then, I shall sigh no more!

"The ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away!" Isaiah 51:11

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Twenty-four hours in Hell!

(James Smith, "ANTIDOTES!" 1858)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"Why should any living man complain?" Lamentations 3:39

Occasionally I am tempted to complain of my hard lot, and think myself harshly dealt with. Ingratitude rises and works in my heart. This always makes me wretched. I then find it profitable to look down into Hell, and realize its horrors and agonies as my just deservings.

If anyone ever deserved to go to Hell, I did!

If justice was ever honored in a sinner's damnation, it would have been in mine!

If anyone was ever saved by grace alone, I am the man!

Shall I then, who deserve to be in Hell, but am not;
shall I, who am an heir of Heavenly glory, though no one ever deserved it less;
shall I, because of a few trials, troubles, and disappointments, or because I have rather a heavy cross to carry—shall I dare to murmur, or fret, or complain, or think myself harshly dealt with?

Shocking inconsistency!

What are my present pains or sufferings, compared with the Hell that I deserve!

All the afflictions that I am called to endure here on earth, cannot be compared with only twenty-four hours in Hell! And yet my desert is, not to be in Hell for a few hours, but forever! Surely every lost soul, every damned spirit, will be ready to upbraid me, if I complain of my present lot! What base gratitude if I do not praise the Lord with joyful lips, for His rich, free, and sovereign grace!

O my soul, whenever I am tempted to complain of my difficult lot, think of my deservings! Think of what would have been my eternal doom, if God had not saved me by His sovereign grace!

Yes, I do find that looking down into Hell . . .
  silences my complaints,
  awakens my gratitude, and
  humbles me in the dust before my God!

    ~  ~  ~  ~

He smote her with a disease which deprived her of strength, destroyed her beauty, and left her deformed!

(James Smith, "Loving Rebukes" 1858)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"I know, O Lord, that in faithfulness You have afflicted me!" Psalm 119:75

"God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness!" Hebrews 12:10

As God loves His people with an everlasting love, He takes the deepest interest in their welfare, and rejoices to do them good. But love can frown as well as smile; rebuke as well as commend; and God's rebukes are often very pointed, and very sharp. "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten." Revelation 3:19

Mary Scott was in a good situation, enjoyed many privileges, and was doing well; but she got vain, dressy, and carnally-minded. She thought too much of earthly things, and too little of heavenly things; and at length you could discern but little difference between her and the world! The Lord then laid His afflictive hand upon her. She fell sick, had to leave her pleasant situation, her little all was soon spent—and she is now poor and totally dependent on friends.

But God has attended the painful dispensation with His blessing, so that she is now humble, spiritual, and heavenly-minded. Worldly things have lost their charms, and spiritual things appear all-important. She now deeply deplores her former worldly course. Her Bible is now her precious companion, and she finds sweet access to God at the throne of grace. She now looks forward to Heaven, rejoicing that there shall be no more pain, nor sorrow, nor crying. She often blesses God for her affliction! This was a loving rebuke from her heavenly Father!

Eliza Brown was naturally proud and high-minded, and thought only of her figure and personal attractions. Being brought to know the Lord, for a time she walked wisely, and was happy in God. But she gave way to her natural besetting sin of pride, carried her head high, and her heart became haughty. She soon lost the humility that was manifest in her life. Meekness and gentleness seemed to forsake her, and she became spiritually dry and barren. For a time this was allowed to continue, but at length the Lord came forth to rebuke her. He smote her with a disease which deprived her of strength, destroyed her beauty, and left her deformed!

At first, her heart rose in opposition to God, she kicked like a wild bull caught in a net, and spoke harshly of God. But the Lord followed her with stroke upon stroke, until at length her proud spirit yielded, she fell down before God, confessing her sin, and mourning over her rebellious feelings. Then the Lord sweetly breathed upon her soul, and she felt a sweet peace of mind; her heart melted like wax before the fire, and she cried, "Lord, do with me as seems good to You." Meekness, humility, submission, and acquiescence in the will of God now characterize her. And, though at times she finds the old feelings arise, and her natural pride work—she daily seeks grace from God, to crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts. This was a loving rebuke from her heavenly Father!

"Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey Your Word." Psalm 119:67

"It was good for me to be afflicted, so that I might learn Your decrees!" Psalm 119:71

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Most probably I would have been in Hell!

(James Smith, "A Review" 1858)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

What WAS I by NATURE? 

This is a dark and dreary subject, for I was in a sad state, and had acquired a sad character.

My heart was fearfully depraved, my nature was totally fallen.

All within was spiritually dead, and all without was unholy.

The creature was loved and served, and the Creator was neglected and despised.

Sin was my element.

Satan was my master.

The world was my Heaven.

I had no good desires, no holy aspirations, no redeeming qualities.

I was a rebel against God's government, and a traitor against God's crown!
I would have destroyed God if I could, and blotted His name out of creation!
The language of my heart and life was, "No God for me!"
My heart was filled and fired with enmity against Him, and at times I could have cursed Him to His face!
I hated His law.
I despised His gospel.
I abhorred His people.
If I could, I would have crushed His cause!

How astonishing that such a wretch was allowed to live!

How astonishing that God had not crushed me by His power, and sentenced me to Hell!

But, O the patience and the sovereign grace of God!
He bore with me.
He loaded me with His benefits.
He determined to win me with His love.
Nevertheless I sinned yet the more, and provoked Him with my ungodly conduct.
O how surprising that I am not in Hell!
Surely there are many already in Hell, who were never such great sinners as I have been!

But, the Lord is good, ready to forgive, and plenteous in mercy unto all who call upon Him. He put a cry into my heart, He listened to that cry, and made me a new creature in Christ Jesus. He unveiled my enormous wickedness before the eyes of my mind, which filled me with confusion, despondency and shame. He laid me in the dust, and seemed to doom me to despair. He . . .
  crushed my proud spirit,
  destroyed my infernal enmity against Him,
  and melted me into contrition with His love.

What AM I by GRACE?

For all that I now am, I once was not. Everything which is in any sense was good in me, must be ascribed to the free grace of God. Yes, with the holy Apostle I must say, "By the grace of God, I am what I am!"
All that has been wrought within me,
all that has been conferred upon me,
and all the good that has been done by me,
must be traced to the free and invincible grace of God!

Who can tell what I would have been by this time—but for the grace of God?

Who can say where I would have been this morning—but for the grace of God? Most probably I would have been in Hell, where the worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched! O what a debtor to grace I am! If anyone should magnify sovereign grace, surely I should. For to God's sovereign grace, I owe everything!

I am not now, what I once was. Why?
Because God had a purpose of grace toward me.

I am not now, what I soon shall be. Why?
Because grace is always crowned with glory!

   ~  ~  ~  ~


(James Smith, "Sunny Subjects for All Seasons" 1858)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"Pray without ceasing." 1 Thessalonians 5:17

How important is a spirit of prayer! It is . . .
  the proof of regeneration,
  the manifestation of grace in our hearts, and
  the evidence our title to mansions in the skies!

Prayer is . . .
  the breath of the renewed soul,
  the beating of the sanctified heart,
  the effect of the life of God within us. 

O that I had prayed more!

Prayer should become a habit with us, then everything would furnish us with matter for prayer. Prayer should mingle with our pleasures and our pains, with our labor and our rest. O for more prayer!

We should never do, what we cannot pray God to bless. 

We should never go, where we cannot ask God to go with us.

If we would hold fast our profession,
if we would adorn the gospel,
if we would honor Jesus, 
if we would enjoy our mercies,
if we would get good by our trials,
if we would see all things working together for good,
if we would conquer Satan,
if we would overcome the world,
if we would crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts
—we must pray!

Prayer, if it is believing prayer . . .
  opens Heaven to us, 
  unveils the glorious face of God, 
  brings down foretastes of the joys of paradise,
  makes us a match for all our foes,
  enables us patiently to carry every cross, and with perseverance to climb and pass over the loftiest hills we meet with on our heaven-bound pilgrimage!

Those who pray, will, by deriving strength from Heaven, by drawing down wisdom from above, withstand every storm, and shout God's praises at last.

Tempted Christian—pray, and you will overcome every temptation.

Troubled Christian—pray, and God will deliver you out of every trouble.

Perplexed Christian—pray, and God will make your way plain before your face.

Doubting Christian—pray, and God will disperse your doubts, and chase your fears away.

Trembling Christian—pray, and God will strengthen you with strength in the soul.

Sick Christian—pray, and God will make all your bed in your affliction.

Dying Christian—pray, and death will lose all its terrors, and you will gently fall asleep in Jesus.

Lost sinner—pray, for God who heard the publican and justified him, will hear you and save you.

O for the grace of prayer, that we may in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present our requests to God.

"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." Colossians 4:2