Grace Gems for JULY, 2023

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Who made us to differ?

(James Smith, "The Pastor's Evening Visit")  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

"But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles . . ." Galatians 1:15-16

Paul is speaking . . .
  of being set apart from his mother's womb,
  of being called by grace to be saved,
  of Christ being revealed in him, and
  of his being made a preacher and an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ
—and he traces up the whole to the good pleasure of God!

It pleased God to convert, consecrate, and crown the apostle with such eminent success. There was nothing in him to deserve it, nothing in him to move God to do it. God blessed Paul, just because He would—because it pleased Him to do it.

Just so in our case.
Do we differ from others?
Do we differ from our former selves?
Have we spiritual life?
Have we Christian graces?
Why were they conferred upon us—and not upon others?

WHO made us to differ?

"Who makes you different from anyone else?
 What do you have that you did not receive?" 1 Corinthians 4:7

We can trace it to no cause, but the sovereign good pleasure of God!
He has mercy, on whom He will have mercy.

He has compassion, on whom He will have compassion.

"'Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.' What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For He says to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.'" Romans 9:13-15

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

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Your present trial

(James Smith, "Comfort for Christians!")  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose!" Romans 8:28

All things? Yes! Everything that happens to the Christian is directed and overruled by God's special Providence for his good! The experience may be very bitter, it may lay him very low and try him to the core; it may keep him in the dust for a long time. But it will do him good, not only in the end, but while it lasts.

Believer, your present trial is for your good. Nothing could be better for you! You may not see it now; you may even feel as if you never could think so, but the time is coming when you will bless God for it.

You love God—and God loves you with an infinite and eternal love! You came to the cross as a poor sinner, and you looked to the Lord Jesus to be your perfect Savior. This proves that you have been called according to God's purpose. You are one of God's beloved ones, and as such, you may have the assurance that all things . . .
  light and darkness,
  health and sickness,
  hatred and love,
  prosperity and adversity,
  life and death,
will work together for your good!

Dark clouds bring rich blessings, and sharp winters introduce fruitful springs. Even so, sore troubles often precede the sweetest consolations. Your present affliction, whether it is . . .
  sickness of body,
  trouble of mind,
  crosses, or
  whatever else
—is working for your good. It will work for good in the future, and it is working for good now. While your heart is bleeding, and you are tempted to think that all is against you—all is working together for your good!

Dear Lord, I do not see how my affliction can be good for me. But help me, Lord, to accept it as such by faith, so that I may receive what You have for me through it.

"We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope!" Romans 5:3-4

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All enameled and interwoven with free grace!

(Thomas WatsonLISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"Brothers, think of what you were when you were called.

 Not many of you were wise by human standards;
 not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.

 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise;
 God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things,
 and the things that are not, to nullify the things that are,
 so that no one may boast before Him!" 1 Corinthians 1:26-29

Without this effectual call, there is no going to Heaven!

This effectual call, is a GRACIOUS call. It is the fruit and product of free grace! That God should call some, and not others; that some should be taken, and others left; that one should be called who is of a more wicked disposition, while another of a sweeter temper, is rejected! Here is free grace! That the poor should be rich in faith, and heirs of a kingdom (James 2:5); and the nobles and great ones of the world for the most part rejected—this is free and rich grace! "Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight!" (Matthew 11:26)

That under the same sermon one should be effectually wrought upon, while another is no more moved than a dead man with the sound of music; that one should hear the Spirit's voice in the Word, while another does not hear it; that one should be softened and moistened with the influence of heaven, while another, like Gideon's dry fleece, has no dew upon him—behold here distinguishing, sovereign grace!

What is the cause of this, but the free grace of God! It is all enameled and interwoven with free grace! Those who are monuments of God's mercies, will be trumpets of His praise. "So that no one may boast before Him!" 1 Corinthians 1:29.

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If God left us!

(Thomas Watson, "The Worst Things" 1663)  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

The sins of the ungodly are looking-glasses in which we may see our own hearts. Do we see a heinous, impious wretch? Behold a picture of our own hearts! Such would we be—if God left us! What is in wicked men's practice—is in our nature. Sin in the wicked, is like fire which flames and blazes forth. Sin in the godly, is like fire hid in the embers. Christian, though you do not break forth into a flame of scandalous sin, yet you have no cause to boast, for there is as much sin in the embers of your nature! You have the root of all sin in you, and would bear as hellish fruit as any ungodly wretch—if God did not either curb you by His power, or change you by His grace!

Why might not God have left you to the same excess of wickedness? Think with yourself, O Christian: Why should God be more merciful to you than to another? Why should He snatch you as a brand plucked out of the fire, and not him?

How should this make you to adore free grace! What the Pharisee said boastingly, we may say thankfully, "God, I thank you that I am not like other men, robbers, evildoers, adulterers, etc."

If we are not as wicked as others, we should adore the riches of free-grace! Every time we see men hastening on in sin, we are to thank God that we are not such! If we see a crazy person, we thank God that it is not so with us. When we see another infected with the plague—how thankful are we that God has preserved us from it! Much more when we see others under the power of Satan—how thankful we should be that this is no longer our condition!

"For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, captives of various passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another." Titus 3:3

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Your hearts have gone a-whoring from Him!

(Thomas Vincent, "Christ's manifestation of Himself unto those who love Him")

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"I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love!" Revelation 2:4

Time has been, when worldly affections seemed to be mortified within you—to be dead and buried.  Many a sore thrust and wound you had given unto them; and how they bled, and fainted, and grew so weak, that they seemed to be dying—and you have thought surely they would never stir much in you any more. Then your love to Christ was strong and active, it burned and flamed within you! And O the zeal which you then had for your Master's honor!

But now, your affections to Christ are strangely cooled! If there is the fire of love to Christ still within you—it is not fire in burning coals, or in a vehement flame; but it is a fire in a few scattered sparks, which give neither light nor heat, and are hardly, if at all, discernable! Your worldly affections, which seemed to be dead, have gotten life, and vigor, and strength! O the eager desire which you now have after the world and the things in the world!

Now the world has your thoughts in plans about it; and the world has your tongues in your frequent discourse of it. Now the world has your hand and your time—but that which is worst of all, is that the world has your heart too! The world has jostled Christ off His throne! And is it then a wonder, if your Beloved is offended because your hearts have gone a-whoring from Him, unto the world!

You have lost your first love to Christ! Now your spiritual joys and comforts are fled out of sight; they are lost and gone! Your worldly delights have expelled and banished your spiritual delights! Your minding and savoring so much the earth and earthly things, has disrelished your spiritual appetite! O the mischief which indulged sin has done unto you! O the deep and dangerous wounds which sin has given you! O the defilements of sin in your consciences and the stains and blots which sin has cast upon your profession! O the havoc which sin has made among your graces and among your spiritual comforts!

You have still leaves of an outward profession, but where is your fruit? If you have some fruit, it is withered and sour fruit—not such ripe and mellow and sweet fruit, as before in your flourishing estate!

"Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God. Your sins  have been your downfall! Take words with you and  return to the Lord. Say to Him: Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously!" Hosea 14:1-2.

"Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first!" Revelation 2:5. Ransack your hearts to find out your sins! Humble yourselves deeply! Repent and grieve and mourn!

Then plead with Christ: "Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly! Make haste O my Beloved! Make haste to my soul that thirsts for You, as the wounded deer thirsts after the cooling and refreshing streams of the water brooks! O When shall I see You again, and feed and feast my soul again with Your love! When, Lord, O when will You come unto me? Will You cast me off forever? Shall this curtain always be drawn before Your face?

"Truly, Lord, I have grievously sinned, and greatly offended You; but do I not truly repent? Is there anything in the world so grievous unto me, as the remembrance of my sins against You? I acknowledge my offense, my folly, and horrid ingratitude! Shall my sins be always a wall of separation between me and my Beloved? Are not Your mercies plentiful? Is there not forgiveness with You, that You may be feared and the more dearly beloved? Do You not forgive freely, without upbraiding? Have You not promised to be found by all those who diligently seek You? And did You ever fail in Your Word unto any? And shall I be the first! I am grieved for my sin, and ashamed of my folly!

"Have You not promised to manifest Yourself unto those who love You? And do not I love You? You know all things, You know that I love You! Though my love is imperfect—yet it is true! Though it is weak—yet it is sincere! Hasten, my Beloved! O hasten unto me! And be as a deer upon the mountains of spices! Do not veil Your face from me any longer! Do not conceal Your love! O now, draw near, and make me exceeding glad in the beauty of Your face and in Your loving embrace!"

Such desires and pleadings as these, might prevail with the Lord to return and say unto you, "My dear child, I have heard your prayers, your desires, and your cries! Your pleadings have prevailed with Me, and I am now come unto you, be it done to you according to your desires! Come child, and look up! Here I am! behold Me, behold Me! I assure you that I am yours, and you are Mine, and shall be Mine forever!"

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Strewing flowers on a dead corpse!

(Thomas Watson, "The Beatitudes" 1660)  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Matthew 5:8

External morality is not heart-purity. A person may be clothed with great moral virtues, such as justice, charity, prudence, and temperance—and yet go to Hell.

We must not rest in mere outward morality.
A swine may be washed—yet be a swine still.
does but wash a man, grace changes him.
Morality may shine in the eyes of the world—but it differs as much from purity, as a pebble differs from a diamond!

Morality is but strewing flowers on a dead corpse!

A man who is but highly moral, is but a tame devil!

How many have made 'morality' their savior!
Morality will damn, as well as vice!
A boat may be sunk with gold, as well as with dung!

The moral person, though he will not commit gross sins—yet he is not sensible of heart sins. He is not troubled for unbelief, hardness of heart, vanity of thoughts. He abhors gross-sins, not gospel-sins.

The snake has a fine appearance, but has a deadly sting! Just so, the moral man is fair to look on, but has a secret antipathy against the holy ways of God.

Morality is not to be rested in. The heart must be pure.
God would have Aaron wash the inner parts of the sacrifice. Leviticus 9:14
Morality does but wash the outside—the inside must be washed.

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Matthew 5:8

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Undeserving, ill-deserving, Hell-deserving!

(Thomas Vincent, "The True Christian's Love to the Unseen Christ!")

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How may I attain great degrees of love to Christ?

Be much in holy contemplation of Christ. Spend time in secret retirement, and there think and think again—of the superlative excellencies and perfections which are in Christ. Think how wonderful and matchless His love is:
  what heights of His love, which cannot be reached;
  what depths of His love, which cannot be fathomed;
  what dimensions of His love, which cannot be comprehended!
O the ravishments of love, O the transports of soul—which some believers have found in their retired thoughts and views of Christ!

"O dear Jesus, how lovely You are in Yourself . . .
  the darling of Heaven,
  the delight of the Father,
  the admiration of angels!
O what brightness of glory—what shining luster are You arrayed with!
You are clothed with most excellent majesty and honor!
You are girded with infinite might and power!
The beauty of Your face is most wonderful!
The smiles of Your countenance are most sweet and delightful!"

"And does this beauteous One, this fairest of ten thousand, this most excellent and altogether lovely One—bear a special love to me?
  To such a vile worm as me!
  To such a dead dog as me!
  To such an
undeserving, ill-deserving, Hell-deserving sinner as me!
O what marvelous kindness is this! What infinite riches of free grace!

Has He given Himself for me, and given Himself to me—and shall not I give Him my heart! I am . . .
  written in His book,
  redeemed with His blood,
  clothed with His righteousness,
  beautified with His image!
Has He made me His child, and prepared a place in the Father's house for me!
O how wonderful! O how astonishing!"

"What shall I render unto Him? What returns shall I make? Had I a thousand tongues, should I not employ them all in speaking His praise? Had I a thousand hearts, should I not present them all, as too poor for a thank-offering unto Him? And yet am I slow—slow of heart, to love this dear and sweet Jesus! Awake, O my soul! Awake from your dullness and stupidity! Shake out the dust of the earth which has gotten into your eyes, and keeps you from the view of your matchless Beloved! Arise, O my soul, unfetter yourself; take the wing, and mount up above the sky and visible heavens, to the place where my lovely and dear Jesus is! Bid farewell to . . .
  the flattering honors,
  the deceitful riches,
  the glancing pleasures,
which are here below!
Bid adieu to them, and leave them to those who place their chief happiness in them!"

"Why do you hang downwards, O my soul? Why do you bend so much to the earth and earthly things? Everything here below, is altogether unworthy of your love. How empty and vain and thorny—are these worldly things! Do not waste your time and weary yourself for every vanity! Do not sting and wound yourself with these things anymore!"

"Come, O my soul! Ascend, and soar aloft—with your thoughts, and desires, and loves, and hopes, and joys, unto the Heavens! There you may see, and view, and admire, and embrace your dearest Lord Jesus!"

Such retired contemplations of Christ, and soliloquies, and pleadings with your own souls, when alone by yourselves—will tend exceedingly to the promotion of your love unto Christ.

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The Christian Journey

(Mary Winslow, "Life in Jesus")  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

Life is a journey, often a short one, and always uncertain.

But there is another journey. The believer is traveling through a waste howling wilderness, to another and a glorious region, where ineffable delight and happiness await us.

The road is narrow, the entrance strait—so strait that thousands miss it and perish in the wilderness. But true believers, under the teaching and convoy of the Holy Spirit, find it and walk in it.

The King, in His infinite love and compassion, has made a hedge about them—separating and defending them from the many beasts of prey that lurk around them; and although they hear their howlings and behold their threatenings, they are safe from their power.

But their strongest foe is within themselves—a heart deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. From this there is no escape but by constant watchfulness, and earnest cries to their best Friend and Guide for protection.

Were it not for this faithful Guide, how often, discouraged by reason of the way, would they turn back!  But He . . .
  watches over them by night and by day,
  strengthens them when weak,
  upholds them when falling,
  encourages them when cast down,
  defends them when attacked,
  provides for them when in need,
  leads them by living streams, and
  causes them there to lie down in pleasant pastures, and on sunny banks.

And as they advance they obtain brighter views of the good land they are nearing. And they long to see the King in His beauty, and the land that is yet very far off, and to meet those that have already arrived on that happy shore.

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You blind fools!

(Thomas Watson, "The Godly Man's Picture Drawn with a Scripture Pencil)

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"Yes, He is very precious to you who believe!" 1 Peter 2:7

There is nothing in Christ, but what is precious.
His name is precious,
His virtues are precious,
His blood is precious, more precious than the world.

The Rose of Sharon is always sweet!

We cannot prize Christ at too high a rate. We may prize other things above their value; and that is our sin. We commonly overrate the creature; we think there is more in it than there is; therefore God withers our gourd, because we over-prize it.

But we cannot raise our esteem of Christ high enough. He is beyond all value! There is no ruby or diamond, but the jeweler can set a fair price on it. But Christ's worth can never be fully known. No seraphim can set a due value on Him. His riches are unsearchable! Ephesians 3:8.

Christ is more precious than Heaven!

True Christians prize Christ, as most precious. He is their chief treasure and delight. The reason why millions perish, is because they do not prize Christ.

The ungodly choose things of no value, before Christ!

"You blind fools!" Matthew 23:17. If a person chooses an apple before a priceless diamond, he is judged to be a fool. How many such idiots are there—who choose the gaudy, empty things of this life, before the Prince of Glory!

Give a baby a rattle, and it will not want gold.
Give a worldling his lusts, and he will be content enough without Christ.

We value Christ above honor and riches. This Pearl of Great Price lies nearest our heart. He who prizes Christ, esteems the gleanings of Christ better than the world's vintage. He counts the worst things of Christ, better than the best things of the world. Moses "regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt!" Hebrews 11:26

If we are the prizers of Christ, we cannot live without Him.
A man may live without music, but not without food.
A child of God can lack health and friends, but he cannot lack Christ.

"Give me children," said Rachel, "or else I die!" Genesis 30:1.
So the soul says, "Give me Christ, or else I shall die! Give me one drop of the water of life to quench my thirst."

If we are prizers of Christ, then we shall not complain at any pains to get Him. He who prizes gold, will dig for it in the mine. "My soul follows hard after God!" Psalm 63:8

He in whose eye Christ is precious, never rests until he has gained Him: "I sought Him whom my soul loves; I held Him, and would not let Him go!" Canticles 3:1,4

If we are prizers of Christ, then we take great pleasure in Christ.
What joy a man takes, in that which he counts his treasure!
He who prizes Christ makes Him his greatest joy.
He can delight in Christ, when earthly delights are gone.

Though a flower in a man's garden dies, he can still delight in his money and jewels. He who esteems Christ, can solace himself in Christ, when there is a dearth of all other comforts.

If we are prizers of Christ, then we will part with our dearest pleasures for Him.
He who esteems Christ, will pull out that lust which is as precious as his right eye!
He who sets a high value on Christ, will set his feet on the neck of his sins!

How can they be said to prize Christ, who will not leave a vanity for Him; or who prefer a damning pleasure before a saving Christ!

"Yes, He is very precious to you who believe!"

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Do not let them become your idols!

(Charles Spurgeon)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

"Son of man, these men have set up idols in their heart!" Ezekiel 14:3

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

Thank God for the comforts and blessings of this life, but do not let them become your idols!

Whatever a man depends upon,
whatever rules his mind,
whatever governs his affections,
whatever is the chief object of his delight
—is his god.

If you worship a god of gold, you will perish as much as if you worshiped a god of mud!

If you love anything better than God, you are idolaters!

If there is anything you would not give up for God, it is your idol.

If there is anything that you seek with greater fervor than you seek the glory of God, that is your idol.

That for which you live, is your idol.

Man is such an idolater that, if he cannot idolize anything else, he will idolize himself, and set himself up, and bow down and worship himself!

Conversion means a turning from every idol.

If we are, indeed, Christians, then we have broken a great many idols. We have still some more to break, and we must keep the hammer going until they are all broken!

If we had no idols in children, friends, wealth, ourselves—we would not need half the trials we have. Foolish idols make rods for foolish backs!

If God sees us making idols of anything, He will either break our idols, or break us.

Cast out the idols from your hearts. Let them all go.
Love no one else and nothing else, as you love Him.

"Dear children, keep yourselves from idols." 1 John 5:21

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Oh, live for eternity!

(Mary Winslow) LISTEN to audio! Download audio

What poor creatures we are—if left to ourselves!

What a mercy there is One that loves us better than we love ourselves, and will watch over us all our journey here; and who has engaged, by all the varying dispensations of His providence, to prepare us for that blessed home He has gone to prepare for us.

  And oh, what a place will that be!

  Love Him supremely!

  Live for eternity!

  Live for Jesus!

  Have much to do with Him!

This world is not worth living for! Its honors, its riches, its glories are things ever passing away; but the love of Jesus is as eternal as Himself.

Oh, live for eternity! The glory of this world is fading, and is soon gone—and gone forever!

Again I say, live for a glorious eternity!

If you could have the glory, the wealth, and the honors of this world laid at your feet—how short would be the empty enjoyment of them.

Then, live and act with reference to eternity!

And oh, the glory that awaits the true follower of Christ, who has cast overboard all that the world calls good and grand, and taking the Bible as his directory, walks as Jesus did.

"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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The way to be like Jesus!

(Thomas Watson, "The Beatitudes" 1660)  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

To render evil for evil, is brutish;
to render evil for good, is devilish;
to render good for evil, is Christian.

"Blessed are the meek." Matthew 5:5

Meekness is a grace whereby we are enabled by the Spirit of God to moderate our angry passions. Meekness has a divine beauty and sweetness in it. This meekness consists in three things:
  the bearing of injuries,
  the forgiving of injuries,
  the recompensing good for evil.

Meekness is opposed to:
  revenge and

Meekness is a great ornament to a Christian. "The ornament of a meek spirit, which is so precious to God!" (1 Peter 3:4). How lovely is a saint in God's eye, when adorned with this jewel! No garment is more befitting to a Christian, than meekness. Therefore we are bid to put on this garment, "Put on therefore as the elect of God, meekness." Colossians 3:12

Meekness is a noble and excellent spirit. A meek man is a valorous man. He gets a victory over himself! Anger arises from weakness of character. The meek man is able to conquer his fury. "He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty; controlling one's temper is better than capturing a city." (Proverbs 16:32). To yield to one's anger is easy—it is swimming along with the tide of corrupt nature. But to turn against nature, to resist anger, to "overcome evil with good"—this is truly Christian!

Meekness is the best way to conquer and melt the heart of an enemy.
Meekness melts and thaws the heart of others.
The greatest victory is to overcome an enemy, without striking a blow!

Mildness prevails more than fierceness.
Anger makes an enemy of a friend. Meekness makes a friend of an enemy.

Meekness is the way to be like Jesus, "Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart." Matthew 11:29

It is not profession which makes us like Jesus, but imitation.
Where meekness is lacking, we are like brutes.
Where it is present, we are like Jesus!

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The more I see of Jesus!

(Mary Winslow LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A vexing vanity!

(Thomas Watson)  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"Deliver us from evil." Matthew 6:13

In this petition, we pray to be delivered from the EVIL world. "He died for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live." Galatians 1:4

It is an evil world, as it is a DEFILING world. The opinions and examples of the world are defiling. How easily are we hurried to sin, when we have the tide of natural corruption, and the wind of example to carry us! "You shall not follow a multitude to do evil." Exodus 23:2. Bad examples are contagious, "They mingled among the pagans, and adopted their evil customs." Psalm 106:35

Living in the world, is like traveling on a dirty road. It requires a high degree of grace to keep ourselves "unspotted by the world." James 1:27

It is an evil world, as it is an ENSNARING world.
The world is full of snares.
Company is a snare.
Recreation is a snare.
Riches are golden snares.

The apostle John speaks of the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life." 1 John 2:16
The lust of the flesh is beauty.
The lust of the eye is money.
The pride of life is honor.
These are the natural man's trinity!

The world is a FLATTERING enemy. Whom it kisses, it betrays! The world is a silken noose! The pleasures of the world, like opium, cast men into the sleep of carnal security. King Lysimachus sold his crown for a cup of water. Just so, many part with Heaven for this poor world. They are enslaved with the world's golden fetters! The world bewitched Demas, 2 Timothy 4:10. One of Christ's own apostles was caught with a silver bait. It is hard to drink the wine of prosperity, and not be giddy. The world, through our innate corruption, is evil, as it is a snare.

It is an evil world, as it is a DEADENING world. It dulls and deadens the affections to heavenly objects. Earthly things choke the seed of the Word. A man entangled in the world is so taken up with secular concerns, that he can no more mind spiritual things, than an elephant can fly in the air! And even such as have grace in them, when their affections are beslimed with earth, they find themselves much indisposed to meditation and prayer; it is like swimming with a heavy stone around the neck!

It is an evil world, as it is a DECEITFUL world.
The world makes us believe that it will satisfy our desires, but it only increases them!

It is an evil world, as it is a VEXING world. It is full of trouble.
"Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows!" John 16:33
"Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward!" Job 5:7
"How frail is humanity! How short is life, how full of trouble!" Job 14:1

Basil was of opinion that before the fall, the rose grew without prickles; but now every sweet flower of our life has its thorns! There are many things which cause trouble. Some are troubled that they have no children, others that they have children.

The world is a vexing vanity! If a man is poor, he is despised by the rich; if he is rich, he is envied by the poor.

If we do not find an ensnaring world, we shall find it an AFFLICTING world; it has more in it to trouble us than tempt us.

The world is a sea, where we are tossed upon the surging waves of sorrow, and often in danger of shipwreck!

The world is a wilderness, and full of fiery serpents!

What great need then, have we to pray, "Lord, deliver us from being hurt by this evil world!"

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(Charles Wesley, "The Cause and Cure of Earthquakes" 1750)

"Come and see the works of the Lord—the desolations He has brought on the earth!" Psalm 46:8

Of all the judgments which the righteous God inflicts on sinners here in this world, the most dreadful and destructive is an earthquake! This He has lately brought on our part of the earth; and thereby alarmed our fears, and bid us to "prepare to meet our God!"

Earthquakes are the works of the Lord, and He alone brings this destruction upon the earth. That God is Himself the Author of earthquakes, and sin the moral cause of earthquakes, (whatever the natural cause may be,) cannot be denied by any who believe the Scriptures. Earthquakes are set forth by the inspired writers, as God's proper judicial act for the punishment of sin.

"He moves mountains without their knowing it and overturns them in His anger.
 He shakes the earth
from its place and makes its pillars tremble!" Job 9:5-6 

"He looks at the earth, and it trembles; He touches the mountains, and they pour out smoke!" Psalm 104:32 

"Then the earth shook and quaked, the foundations of the mountains trembled; they shook because He burned with anger!" Psalm 18:7

"In His presence the mountains quake and the hills melt away; the earth trembles, and its people are destroyed. Who can stand before His fierce anger? Who can survive His burning fury? His rage blazes forth like fire, and the mountains crumble to dust in His presence!" Nahum 1:5-6 

Sin is the cause of God's anger; earthquakes the effect of His anger!

"I will bring disaster on the world, and their own iniquity, on the wicked. I will put an end to the pride of the arrogant, and will humble the pride of the ruthless. Therefore I will make the heavens tremble; and the earth will shake from its place at the wrath of the Lord Almighty, in the day of His burning anger." Isaiah 13:11, 13

"See, the Lord is going to lay waste the earth and devastate it; He will ruin its face and scatter its inhabitants! The earth is broken up, the earth is split asunder, the earth is thoroughly shaken!" Isaiah 24:1, 19 

And again, "The Lord Almighty will come with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with windstorm and tempest and flames of a devouring fire!" Isaiah 29:6

Nothing can be more express than these Scripture testimonies, which determine both the cause and author of this terrible calamity. We cannot conceive that the universe would have been disturbed by these furious disasters, before sin entered. Therefore reason, as well as Scripture, sufficiently assure us that earthquakes are God's works of judgment, the proper effect and punishment of sin.

Nothing can be so affecting as this judgment of an earthquake—when it comes unexpectedly as a thief in the night, when there is no time to flee, or method to escape, or possibility to resist; when no sanctuary or refuge remains; when the earth opens suddenly, and becomes the grave of whole families, towns, and cities; either sending out a flood of waters to drown them, or vomiting out flames of fire to consume them, or closing over them; when parents and children, husbands and wives, and all people, without distinction, in the midst of health, and peace, and business—are buried in a common ruin, and pass all together into the eternal world; and there is only the difference of a few hours or minutes between a famous city, and none at all!

Now, if war is a terrible evil—then how much more an earthquake, which, in the midst of peace, brings a worse evil than the extremity of war! 

If a raging pestilence is dreadful, which sweeps away thousands in a day, and ten thousands in a night; if a consuming fire is an amazing judgment—then how much more astonishing is an earthquake, whereby houses, and inhabitants, towns, and cities, and countries, are all destroyed at one stroke in a few minutes!

For a man to feel the earth, which hangs upon nothing, (as some vast ball in the midst of a thin air,) totter under him—must fill him with astonishing fright and confusion!

History informs us of the fearful effects of earthquakes in all ages, where you may see . . .
  rocks torn in pieces,
  mountains not cast down only, but removed,
  hills raised, not out of valleys only, but out of seas,
  fires breaking out of waters,
  stones and cinders belched up,
  rivers changed,
  seas dislodged,
  earth opening,
  towns swallowed up, and
  many such-like hideous events!

Of all divine judgments, there is none more horrid, more inescapable, than an earthquake! For where can we think to escape danger, if the most solid thing in all the world shakes!

With what horror are men struck:
  when they hear the earth groan, and feel it trembling beneath them;
  when houses are loosened from their foundations;
  when the roofs fall upon their heads, and the pavement sinks under their feet! 

In other evils there is some way to escape; but an earthquake encloses what it overthrows, and wages war with whole provinces; and sometimes leaves nothing behind it to inform posterity of its outrages.
More insolent than the fire, which spares rocks;
more cruel than the conqueror, who leaves walls;
more greedy than the sea, which vomits up shipwrecks
—the earthquake swallows and devours whatever it overturns!

Therefore, fear God—even that God who can in a moment cast both body and soul into Hell! 

When God makes the mountains tremble, and the earth shake—shall not our hearts be moved? "Should you not fear Me?" declares the Lord. "Should you not tremble in My presence?" Jeremiah 5:22

Will you not fear Him who can open the windows of heaven above, or break up the fountains of the deep below—and pour forth whole floods of vengeance when He pleases!

Will you not fear Him who can "rain upon the wicked, snares, fire and brimstone, and a horrible tempest!" Psalm 11:6

Will you not fear Him who can kindle those earthquakes in the caverns of the earth, and make them force their way to the destruction of towns, cities, and countries!

Will you not fear Him who can thus suddenly turn a fruitful land into a barren wilderness—an amazing spectacle of desolation and ruin!

O that His fear might this moment fall upon all you who read these words, constraining every one of you to cry out, "My flesh trembles in fear of You, and I am afraid of Your judgments!" Psalm 119:120

O that all might see that His hand is now lifted up, as in act to strike! It is stretched out still, and He shakes His rod over a guilty land—a people fitted for destruction!

God will never lack ways and means to punish impenitent sinners. He has a thousand other judgments in reserve; and if the earth should not open its mouth—yet you shall surely at last be swallowed up in the bottomless pit of Hell! Truly, "It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God!" Hebrews 10:31

If the earth just now were to open its mouth and swallow you up—what would become of you? Where would you be?

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The great means of sanctification!

(Jared Waterbury, "Advice to a Young Christian on the Importance of Aiming at an Elevated Standard of Piety")

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

The Scriptures are the great means of sanctification. This is the charm which so much attracts the pious heart. That heart is not insensible to the elegance of scriptural style, nor indifferent to its bold and beautiful imagery, but these are not the principal attractions.
The Bible is the Word of God!
It convinces of sin.
It stimulates to duty.
It rouses from sluggishness.
It warns against danger.
It unfolds the character of God.
It reveals the way of salvation.
It delineates the providence of God.
It presents the Lamb of God slain for our transgressions.
It communicates sweet strains of spiritual devotion.
It brings into view a bright and eternal reward.
It discloses the wounds of our nature, and offers the healing balm.

In short, it embodies all that a Christian in his pilgrimage can need!
It is his only chart through this tempestuous life.
In trouble, it is his consolation.
In prosperity, it is his monitor.
In difficulty, it is his guide.
Amid the darkness of death, and while descending into the shadowy valley, it is the day-star that . . .
   illuminates his path,
   makes his dying eye bright with hope, and
   cheers his soul with the prospect of immortal glory!

The oftener and the more diligently you peruse the Scriptures—the more beautiful will they appear, and the less relish will you have for light and superficial reading. There is, in an intimate acquaintance, and in a daily meditation on the Scriptures—something sanctifying, something ennobling! A satisfaction is felt in perusing them, which no human composition can excite.
You feel as if you were conversing with God.
You breathe a heavenly atmosphere.
The soul is bathed in celestial waters.
It imbibes a sweetness and a composure which shed over it unearthly attractions.

To this fountain of light and life, let us then daily resort.
Here is the healing influence.
Here is the pool of Bethesda.
Here abounds consolation for the afflicted.
Here hope dwells to cheer and to guide.

Bind this precious volume about your neck, write it on the tablets of your heart!
It will prove to be . . .
   your shield in conflict,
   your guide in perplexity,
   your solace in adversity.
If it has been faithfully studied in this life—it will afford themes for heavenly contemplation through eternity.

We should ever approach that Sacred Book with reverence. When we open the Sacred Volume, we listen to the voice of God! Should we not, therefore, give a reverential attention when Jehovah speaks? Should not our posture be that of the deepest humility and awe?

In the written Word, we have God speaking to us as to His children! Go, then, my friend, and diligently listen to the holy oracles. Search the Scriptures. Peruse them systematically. Make them your daily and nightly companions. And may their celestial influence be so infused into your soul, that you shall progressively lose the image of the earthly, and assume the image of the heavenly inhabitants.

Depend upon it, the closer attention you give to the Word, the more precious and interesting will it become, and the more rapidly will you grow in grace and holiness!

The Word of God should grow constantly in your estimation, until you exclaim with David, "O how I love Your law; it is sweeter to my taste than honey and the honey-comb!"

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A panacea!

(Thomas Watson, "The Ten Commandments")  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

The Scripture is a golden epistle written by the Holy Spirit, and sent to us from Heaven!

The Scripture is a spiritual looking-glass, to dress our souls by. It shows us heart-sins, vain thoughts, unbelief, etc. It not only shows us our spots, but washes them away!

The Scripture is an armory, out of which we may fetch spiritual artillery to fight against Satan. When our Savior was tempted by the devil, He fetched armor and weapons from Scripture: "It is written!"

The Scripture is a panacea, or universal medicine for the soul.
It gives a remedy to cure . . .
  deadness of heart, Psalm 119:50;
  pride, 1 Peter 5:5; and
  infidelity, John 3:36.
It is a garden of remedies, where we may gather an antidote, to expel the poison of sin!

The Scripture is the only standard of conduct.
It is the only rule by which we are to square our lives.
It contains in it:
  all things needful to salvation;
  what duties we are to do;
  what sins we are to avoid.

"When your Words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight!" Jeremiah 15:16. All true solid comfort is fetched out of the Word. The Word is a spiritual garden, and the promises are the fragrant flowers or spices in this garden. How should we delight to walk among these beds of spices!

The Scripture is a sovereign elixir, or comfort, in an hour of distress.
"Your promise revives me, it comforts me in all my troubles!" Psalm 119:50

If we would have the Scripture effectual, let us labor not only to have the light of it in our heads, but its power in our hearts!

"I have hidden your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against you." Psalm 119:11. The Word, locked up in the heart, is a preservative against sin. As one would carry an antidote with him when he comes near an infected place—so David carried the Word in his heart as a sacred antidote to preserve him from the infection of sin.

When we read the holy Scriptures, let us look up to God for a blessing. Let us pray that God would not only give us His Word as a rule of holiness, but His grace as a principle of holiness!

It is said that the alchemist can draw oil out of iron.
Just so, God's Spirit can produce grace in the most obdurate heart!

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There are dangers and perils peculiar to a state of prosperity

(Jared Waterbury, "The Voyage of Life!" 1862)   LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"The cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in, choke the Word, and it becomes unfruitful." Mark 4:19

"How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Luke 18:24-25

There are dangers and perils peculiar to a state of prosperity.

I understand how little apprehension is felt by the votaries of the world in regard to the moral dangers of earthly prosperity. "Be it so," says the eager devotee of wealth or fame; "I admit that there are some such dangers; yet who would not be willing to run the risk, if he might only be one of fortune's favorites? Give me my wishes in this respect, and I am ready to incur the hazard and to take the responsibility."

Foolish declaration! You know not what you say! Your selfish heart, thirsting for riches or reputation among men, and bent on their attainment, as containing, in your estimation, all that man can wish— sees not the evils which lurk in the path that leads to them, nor the perils to which, when obtained, their possessor is exposed! Blind, or rather dazzled to blindness, by that one object, the golden prize—you do not see the temptations which beset the man who is determined to seize upon it . . .
in the pursuit of wealth: dishonesty, sinful worldliness, neglect of the soul;
in the possession of wealth: avarice, pride, sensuality.

The "deceitfulness of riches" is a Scriptural expression which experience interprets and verifies. These are deceitful. Their power to make happy is mere pretension. Riches may add to one's happiness, who has other and higher elements of felicity; but, when they are sought as the principal means of happiness, they are sure to pierce their possessors through with many sorrows!

"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows! But you, O man of God, flee these things—and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness!" 1 Timothy 6:10-11

   ~  ~  ~  ~

What a comfort is this!

(Thomas Watson, "The Good Shepherd")  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep!" John 10:11 br>"I am the Good Shepherd, I know My sheep!" John 10:14
Christ knows all of His sheep.
His knowing His sheep, is His loving them.
This is a great consolation.

He knows every one of their names
"He calls His own sheep by name." John 10:3

He knows all the sighs and groans they make.
"My groaning is not hidden from You." Psalm 38:9

Christ knows every tear they shed.
"I have seen your tears!" 2 Kings 20:5
He bottles their tears as precious wine!
"You keep track of all my sorrows.
 You have collected all my tears in Your bottle.
 You have recorded each one in Your book." Psalm 56:8

He knows all their sufferings.
"I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them." Exodus 3:9
"The Lord saw the bitter suffering of everyone in Israel." 2 Kings 14:26

Christ knows all their good works; all their works of piety and charity.
"I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance." Revelation 2:2

"I am the Good Shepherd, I know My sheep!"

What a comfort is this!

"He will place the sheep at His right hand, and the goats at His left. Then the King will say to those on the right: Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world!" Matthew 25:33-34

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Deeply rooted in the heart of fallen man!

(Charles Simeon)  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"I hate pride and arrogance!" Proverbs 8:13

"The Lord detests all the proud of heart!" Proverbs 16:5

The sin of pride is deeply rooted in the heart of fallen man!
We are prone to be puffed up on the slightest occasion.

We are vain of any natural endowments of body or mind.
The strong love to display their strength.
The beautiful love to display their beauty.
A penetrating mind, or a tenacious memory—are made grounds of self-admiration and self-glorification.

Any acquired distinctions also become food for our vanity. The man of wealth, of honor, or of power—assumes a haughtiness from his elevation, and demands homage from others as his due. Those proficient in any art or science or ability—court applause, and delight to have their talents admired.

Even the gifts of grace, through the depravity of our nature, become occasions of pride. An ability to speak or pray with fluency, is often exhibited more for the purpose of attracting admiration than of glorifying God!

Whatever we are or have that elevates us a little above our fellow-creatures—our proud hearts are fond of displaying it, and we are pleased with the flattering attentions which it procures for us!

God notes much folly and wickedness in us, when we pride ourselves in things so empty, so worthless, so transient.

"Who makes you different from anyone else?
 What do you have, that you did not receive?
 And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?" 1 Corinthians 4:7

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There are nails in that cross!

(Thomas Watson, "The Beatitudes" 1660)  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me." Luke 9:23

Self-denial is the highest sign of a sincere Christian. Hypocrites may have great knowledge and make large profession, but it is only the true-hearted believer who can deny himself for Christ.

Self-denial is the foundation of godliness, and if this foundation is not well-laid, the whole building will fall. If there is any lust in our souls which we cannot deny—it will turn at length, either to scandal or apostasy. Self-denial is the thread which must run along through the whole work of piety.

A man must deny self-esteem. Every man by nature has a high opinion of himself. He is drunk with spiritual pride. A proud man disdains the cross. He thinks himself too good to suffer. Oh deny self-esteem! Let the plumes of pride fall off! Let us shake off this viper of pride!

A man must deny carnal self. This I take to be the chief sense of the text. He must deny fleshly ease. The flesh cries out for ease. It is loath to put its neck under Christ's yoke or stretch itself upon the cross. The flesh cries out, "Oh! the cross of Christ is heavy! There are nails in that cross which will lacerate, and fetch blood!"

We must deny our self-ease, and be as a deaf adder, stopping our ears to the charmings of the flesh! Those who lean on the soft pillow of sloth, will hardly take up the cross.

This self-denying frame of heart is very hard. This is "to pluck out the right eye." It is easier to overcome men and devils, than to overcome self. "Stronger is he who conquers himself, than he who conquers the strongest walled city."

SELF is the idol, and how hard it is to sacrifice this idol—and to turn self-seeking into self-denial! But though it is difficult, it is essential. A Christian must first lay down self, before he can take up the cross.

Alas! how far are they from self-denial, who cannot deny themselves in the least things; who in their diet or apparel, instead of martyring the flesh, pamper the flesh! Instead of taking up the cross, take up their cups! Is this self-denial, to let loose the reins to the flesh? Oh Christians, as ever you would be able to carry Christ's cross, begin to deny yourselves.

"Everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for My sake—will receive a hundred times as much in return and will have eternal life!" Matthew 19:29. Here is a very choice bargain!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Should we not be prepared to kiss it?

(Jared Waterbury, "Meditations and Prayers" 1840)  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God—to those who are called according to His purpose!" Romans 8:28

The believer, when smarting under the rod of temporal distress, is often ready to say with Jacob, "All these things are against me!" Owing to the weakness of his faith, he concludes that "God has forgotten him." He forgets that "Whom the Lord loves, He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives"—that his Lord once said, "Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows." To sink down under troubles, and conclude that there is no relief for us—is to distrust our Father's care, and to doubt His everlasting love for us.

It may not seem good to God, who orders each event of our lives—to grant us the prosperity which we naturally desire. He may discover in us so much remaining depravity, developed in the forms of pride, sensuality, or self-seeking—as to make it necessary to visit us with the rod of correction. When that rod is intended to extirpate these sins, should we not be prepared to kiss it? Is not God's rod designed to wean us from the world, and to drive us more closely to the bosom of eternal love? "All things", including of course these very trials and afflictions—God causes to work together for our good.

Are we sick and suffering in body? Let us not despair. The affliction shall work for our good. Relief will come in due time. Or if the sickness "be unto death," God can make it conducive to a calm or triumphant departure.

Are you poor, and apprehensive that your needs may not be supplied? O trust in your Father's care, who will "withhold no good thing from those who walk uprightly."

Do enemies beset your path? God can change the bitterest of them into friends; or can defend and deliver you from their ire.

And what though all these afflictions press upon the soul at onceeven then the promise is not nullified, it is only made the more precious!

Doubt not that His mercy is in your every trial and affliction.

And always remember that when Heaven is attained, these sorrows will be felt no more forever!

How precious, O God, are Your promises! They apply to us, your sinful and suffering children, under all circumstances. You have declared that all of us must be partakers of chastisement. You have promised that the way to Your abode is rough and thorny. Why then, should we fear to walk in it? Why wish to tread a smooth and easy path? We desire that measure of faith which shall recognize Your direct agency in every event of our lives!

O Lord, whatever be our earthly lot, joyous or sad—one sweet promise shall gild the darkest hours of our existence. We shall be cheered by the thought that You cause all things to work together for our good! And when we have done and suffered Your will on earth—we shall be admitted to Your glory, to see Your face and to sing Your praises forever! Amen.

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The net by which he drags millions to Hell!

(Thomas Watson, "The Good Practitioner")  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

Unbelief makes sermons to be like showers of rain falling upon a rock!
They neither mollify nor fructify, because men don't really believe them.

If men really believed that sin was so bitter, and that wrath and Hell followed it—would they take this serpent into their bosom?

If men really believed . . .
  that there was a beauty in holiness,
  that godliness was great gain,
  that there was joy in the way, and Heaven at the end
—would not they turn their feet into Christ's holy way?

Men have some slight transient thoughts of these things; but their minds are not fully convinced, nor their conscience fully captivated into believing them.

Unbelief is Satan's masterpiecethe net by which he drags millions to Hell!

Spurgeon: Could we roll all sins into one mass; could we take murder, blasphemy, lust, theft, immorality, and everything that is vile—and unite them all into one vast ball of horrid corruption, they would not even then equal the sin of unbelief! Unbelief is the cause of all crime, and the seed of every evil! In fact, everything that is evil and vile lies couched in that one word—unbelief!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Our only and all-sufficient portion!

(Jared Waterbury, "Meditations and Prayers" 1840)  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it—and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind; and there was nothing to be gained under the sun!" Ecclesiastes 2:11

The author of the book of Ecclesiastes gives us his experience of the unsatisfying nature of all worldly honors and pleasures. Everything that could . . .
  please the eye,
  charm the ear,
  gratify the taste, or
  amuse and enrich the mind,
was by him, sought and enjoyed.
The whole circle of earth's pleasures was tested.
But in the end, all is pronounced "vanity and a striving after wind."

The disappointment results from the very nature of the soul. Its capacity being illimitable—no finite enjoyment can fully meet its enlarged desires. Nothing but a faithful discharge of duty and the approving smile of God—can make the soul happy. Give the soul whatever you will, gratify every earthly wish, it will still be wretched if it is without God. All below is vanity.

The consideration that all worldly good must so soon be relinquished, is of itself enough to cast a shadow over its enjoyment. The heart must feel that there is nothing permanent here in this poor world.
"Life is but a vapor."
All earth-born pleasures are transitory.
Death withers every flower as soon as it blooms.
Man too is hurried to the tomb, and then forgotten.

If then all below is stamped with vanity—then O, let us seek our all in God. Let us relinquish in desire, what we have been accustomed so much to value—that the soul may start anew in the race for a prize worthy of her struggles, and which when obtained will amply reward her toils. Let us fix our eye on the "unfading crown of glory!" Let us deliberately renounce this vain world, and take God for our only and all-sufficient portion!

Whether on earth we are known or unknown, honored or despised;
let us seek after this one thing:
  to secure the favor of God,
  to enjoy His presence, and
  at last to be with Him and inherit His glorious kingdom!

Unsatisfying, O Lord, as the world is—still a strange infatuation exists within our hearts, which leads us to covet its distinctions and its pleasures. As far as you have permitted us to test the world's power to produce happiness, we have been invariably disappointed.
We have found it to be "vanity and vexation of spirit."
Its sweetest pleasures have turned bitter in the enjoyment.
Its loveliest scenery cannot charm us, apart from You.
Its honors, so far as obtained, have proved but empty bubbles.

Yet why, O Lord, do we still hanker after these vain delights?
Why do we not learn to evaluate them at their true worth?

Come into our souls, with all Your fullness, and then our hearts will quickly bid adieu to them. You know that we are never satisfied, never happy—when we are not living unto You, and holding sweet communion with You. You know how weary is our soul, though surrounded with earthly good—if You are not with us, or if we have failed to place You first in our affections! We will return to our rest, we fly to You our God once more! Heavenly Father, hear our humble prayer, for Jesus' sake. Amen.

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Only the blood of Christ can soften it!

(Thomas Watson, "The Beatitudes" 1660)  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"I will take away their hearts of stone and give them tender hearts!" Ezekiel 11:19

Oh the misery of a hard heart!

A heart of stone is insensible. A stone is not sensible of anything. Lay a heavy weight upon it; or grind it to powder—it does not feel. So it is with a hard heart, it is insensible to both its own sin and God's wrath. The stone in the kidneys is felt, but not the stone in the heart. "Having lost all sensitivity." Ephesians 4:19

A heart of stone is inflexible. A stone will not bend. Just so, the hard heart will not comply with God's command. It will not stoop to Christ's scepter. A heart of stone will sooner break, than bend by repentance. It is so far from yielding to God, that like the anvil, it beats back the hammer. A heart of stone will "always resist the Holy Spirit." Acts 7:51

A hard heart is void of all grace. While the wax is hard, it will not take the impression of the seal. Just so, the heart, while it is hard, will not take the stamp of grace. It must first be made tender and melting. The plough of the Word will not penetrate a hard heart!

A hard heart is good for nothing, but to make fuel for Hellfire! "Because of your hardness and unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath!" Romans 2:5

Hell is full of hard hearts! There is not one soft heart there! There is much weeping there, but no softness. We read of "vessels of wrath, prepared for destruction." Romans 9:22. Hardness of heart, fits these vessels for Hell, and makes them like withered wood, which is fit only to burn!

Hardness of heart makes a man's condition worse than all his other sins besides. If one is guilty of great sins, yet if he can mourn, there is hope. But hardness of heart binds guilt fast upon the soul. It seals a man under wrath. It is not heinousness of sin, but hardness of heart—which damns!

Oh the misery of a hard heart!

A stony heart is the worst heart. If it were bronze, it might be melted in the furnace; or it might be bent with the hammer. But a stony heart is such, that only the arm of God can break it, and only the blood of Christ can soften it!

"I will take out your stony heart of sin and give you a new, obedient heart." Ezekiel 36:26

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We are like that dove!

(Jared Waterbury, "Meditations and Prayers" 1840)  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"But the dove could find no resting place to set its feet because there was water over all the surface of the earth. So it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark." Genesis 8:9

This passage has been beautifully applied to the condition of a Christian wandering over earth in search of rest; and disappointed, returning at length to his Savior, glad to be received again into His bosom, where alone there is peace. Surely he who has been accustomed to drink at the pure fountain of spiritual joy, can never find rest for the soul in this polluted world.

How true is it, that to one whose affections have been directed to things above, earthly pleasures seem to have lost their usual relish. No prospect however beautiful, no pleasures however tantalizing can be enjoyed, without the associated presence and blessing of God. Yet when God is recognized in them, and the heart is properly affected towards Him—then do even earthly scenes acquire an additional interest.

But let the Christian lose sight for a season of his heavenly inheritance, and wander over earth's surface in search of worldly good—how soon will he find an unsatisfying vacuity, where not even an olive leaf shall be found to greet his eye or to cheer his heart. The Christian may so far backslide, as to wish to explore anew the world which he professes to have forsaken, and God may allow him to do so. But O how soon his wing will tire, and his prospect become gloomy. Glad will he be to return and flutter around the ark, longing to be taken in, where he can once more feel himself happy and at home. And Jesus kindly extends His hand to take us in, even when we have sinfully wandered from His loving arms.

Why is it that we can be so often deceived? Have we not tried the world, and have we not been disappointed in the pursuit? Never again then let us leave the sacred ark, never again wander from our Lord.

Ever blessed God, You have taught us to find our supreme felicity in You—for You are an all-sufficient portion. But O how prone are we to wander from You, to forsake "You, the fountain of living waters—and hew out cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water."

But away from You—how can we be happy? How soon does sadness invade our hearts, and sorrow sit upon our eye-lids! The creature cannot make us blessed. We have tried the creature, and found all on earth to be but vanity. Wander where we will, from place to place, from pleasure to pleasure—all is unsatisfying, if you O God are absent.

We are like that dove, when out of the ark, which saw itself surrounded by one wide waste of waters. How glad was she to get back within her sacred retreat! Just so, O Savior, would we gladly flee into Your loving arms! We will search no longer for happiness here below. Henceforth, let us repose on Your kind bosom. Let us feel a holy indifference to the attractions of this deceitful world. May it be our privilege to be taken at last unto that secure ark, that glorious Heaven—where no storms can come, and no temptations allure our souls away from You. Amen.

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The Trojan horse!

(Thomas Watson, "The Lord's Prayer")  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"Deliver us from evil." Matthew 6:13

In this petition we pray to be delivered from the evil of our heart, that it may not entice us to sin.

The heart is the poisoned fountain, from whence all actual sins flow. "For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness." Mark 7:21-22

The cause of all evil lies in a man's own bosom—all sin begins at the heart! Lust is first conceived in the heart, and then it is mid-wifed into the world. Whence comes rash anger? The heart sets the tongue on fire. The heart is the shop where all sin is contrived and hammered out!

The heart is the greatest seducer, "Each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust." James 1:14. The devil could not hurt us, if our own hearts did not give consent. All that he can do is to lay the bait, but it is our fault to swallow it! How needful, therefore, is this prayer, "Deliver us from the evil of our hearts!"

It was Augustine's prayer, "Lord, deliver me from that evil man—myself!"

Beware of the bosom traitor, the flesh. The heart of a man is the Trojan horse, out of which comes a whole army of lusts! O let us pray to be delivered from the lusts and deceits of our own heart!

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

"Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life!"
Proverbs 4:23

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In short, all must drink of the bitter cup!

(Jared Waterbury, "Meditations and Prayers" 1840)  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

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

"Man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upwards!" The world in which we dwell is but "a valley of tears." Sin has caused these tears to flow; and every sinner must, sooner or later—pour in his contribution of personal grief, to swell the general tide of sorrows. The domestic circle must be invaded by the ruthless hand of death! Wealth may abound one day, to be followed by poverty the next; or even if retained, riches may prove a source of anxiety and temptation to its possessor. In short, all must drink of the bitter cup!

Alas, the poor lost sinner, who finds all his happiness in the things of earth—when these are gone, has nothing left. He has no shelter from the storm. It must beat upon his naked head. But not so the Christian. He can say, under the severest afflictions, "God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble!"

O what an unspeakable blessing to have an almighty support! How calming to the soul in the dark hour of adversity, to be able to pour all its sorrows into the bosom of God! When death has seemed to hover over us, to aim his shafts at us or ours—what sweet consolation have we found in God! In "the secret place of the Most High," we have been able to dwell safely. When the world without has been covered with gloom, all has been sunshine within. When the power of the tempter has overwhelmed us, the arm of Jesus has lifted us up and pointed out a way of escape. Whatever then are our trials, let us still trust in God, our "ever-present help in times of trouble." His promise, whatever is our situation, is "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness. So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me!" 2 Corinthians 12:9

O God, it is the hour of darkness for me. "Fearfulness and trembling have come upon us, and horror has overwhelmed us." Where can we look, but unto You? What now can be our support, but Your precious promises? You have declared Yourself to be "a refuge" to Your people, "their ever-present help in times of trouble." Often have Your redeemed people experienced the truth of this comforting declaration. When trouble and sorrow, fear and anxiety, have taken hold upon them—they have fled to this sweet refuge. They have poured out their souls unto You, and You have helped them in the time of their distress. You have calmed their rising fears, and enabled them to resign every event into Your nail-scarred hands. What peace has then pervaded their souls!
Let Your merciful loving-kindness then visit us in this hour of our tribulation. Hide not Your face from us. O speak peace to our troubled spirits. Hide us under the shadow of Your wings "until these calamities are over and past." Strengthen our faith to take a firm hold of Your promises, and let no vicissitudes of this life, no threatening dangers—shake our confidence in You or in Your declarations. For the sake of Jesus Christ, our hope and our Redeemer. Amen.

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(Thomas Watson, "The Lord's Supper")

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"The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all our sin!" 1 John 1:7

Christ's blood is a CLEANSING blood.

As the merit of Christ's blood pacifies God, so the virtue of it purifies us. Christ's blood is heaven's bath. It is a laver to wash in. It washes a crimson sinner, milk-white!

The Word of God is a looking-glass to show us our spots,
and the blood of Christ is a fountain to wash them away!

"On that day a fountain will be opened, to cleanse them from all their sins and defilement!"  Zechariah 13:1

But this blood will not wash, if it is mingled with anything. If we mingle our good works with Christ's blood, it will not wash. Let Christ's blood be pure and unmixed, and there is no spot which it cannot wash away! It purged out Noah's drunkenness, and Lot's incest!

"Though your sins are like scarlet,
I will make them as white as snow!
 Though they are red like crimson,
I will make them as white as wool!
Isaiah 1:18

"They are without fault before the throne of God!" Revelation 14:5

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Undeserving, ill-deserving, Hell-deserving!

(Thomas Vincent, "The True Christian's Love to the Unseen Christ!")

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How may I attain great degrees of love to Christ?

Be much in holy contemplation of Christ. Spend time in secret retirement, and there think and think again—of the superlative excellencies and perfections which are in Christ. Think how wonderful and matchless His love is:
  what heights of His love, which cannot be reached;
  what depths of His love, which cannot be fathomed;
  what dimensions of His love, which cannot be comprehended!
O the ravishments of love, O the transports of soul—which some believers have found in their retired thoughts and views of Christ!

"O dear Jesus, how lovely You are in Yourself . . .
  the darling of Heaven,
  the delight of the Father,
  the admiration of angels!
O what brightness of glory—what shining luster are You arrayed with!
You are clothed with most excellent majesty and honor!
You are girded with infinite might and power!
The beauty of Your face is most wonderful!
The smiles of Your countenance are most sweet and delightful!"

"And does this beauteous One, this fairest of ten thousand, this most excellent and altogether lovely One—bear a special love to me?
  To such a vile worm as me!
  To such a dead dog as me!
  To such an
undeserving, ill-deserving, Hell-deserving sinner as me!
O what marvelous kindness is this! What infinite riches of free grace!

Has He given Himself for me, and given Himself to me—and shall not I give Him my heart! I am . . .
  written in His book,
  redeemed with His blood,
  clothed with His righteousness,
  beautified with His image!
Has He made me His child, and prepared a place in the Father's house for me!
O how wonderful! O how astonishing!"

"What shall I render unto Him? What returns shall I make? Had I a thousand tongues, should I not employ them all in speaking His praise? Had I a thousand hearts, should I not present them all, as too poor for a thank-offering unto Him? And yet am I slow—slow of heart, to love this dear and sweet Jesus! Awake, O my soul! Awake from your dullness and stupidity! Shake out the dust of the earth which has gotten into your eyes, and keeps you from the view of your matchless Beloved! Arise, O my soul, unfetter yourself; take the wing, and mount up above the sky and visible heavens, to the place where my lovely and dear Jesus is! Bid farewell to . . .
  the flattering honors,
  the deceitful riches,
  the glancing pleasures,
which are here below! Bid adieu to them, and leave them to those who place their chief happiness in them!"

"Why do you hang downwards, O my soul? Why do you bend so much to the earth and earthly things? Everything here below, is altogether unworthy of your love. How empty and vain and thorny—are these worldly things! Do not waste your time and weary yourself for every vanity! Do not sting and wound yourself with these things anymore!"

"Come, O my soul! Ascend, and soar aloft—with your thoughts, and desires, and loves, and hopes, and joys, unto the Heavens! There you may see, and view, and admire, and embrace your dearest Lord Jesus!"

Such retired contemplations of Christ, and soliloquies, and pleadings with your own souls, when alone by yourselves—will tend exceedingly to the promotion of your love unto Christ.