JEWELS from JAMES
(Choice devotional selections from
the works of John Angell James)
The sin of killing time
"Only fools idle away their time." Proverbs 12:11
Idleness is a complicated vice. Yes, I say VICE!
First it is a most wasteful vice. It wastes time,
which is more precious than rubies; it wastes a
man's mental faculties; it wastes property.
Idleness is a disgraceful vice. How reproachful is it
in a being made to be active, to spend life in doing
nothing, and to throw away his mental powers in sloth.
Idleness is a criminal vice. God has commanded
us to be active, and will call us to account for the
sin of killing time.
Idleness is a dangerous vice. Doing nothing is next
to doing evil—and is sure to lead to it. From its very
inaction it ultimately becomes the active cause of all
evil. "The Devil tempts all men; but the idle man
tempts the Devil."
Idleness is a wretched vice. An idle man is the
most miserable of all God's creatures. Woe be
to the man who is doomed to bear the pain and
penalties of a slothful disposition.
"And we urge you, brothers, warn those
who are idle." 1 Thessalonians 5:14
Fortified by true piety
"Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead,
bring them up in the training and instruction of
the Lord." Ephesians 6:4
Parents! How momentous a duty is it to give sound
Christian instruction to your children at the earliest
period in which they can receive it; and endeavor,
by the most judicious, affectionate, and persevering
methods, to form their character by true religion!
Train them up in the fear of God—that they may
leave home fortified by true piety, to encounter
the temptations of the world, and to endure the
trials of life.
Next to God Himself, a pious child is a parent's
best companion amid the infirmities of old age,
and in the chamber of sickness and death.
Self-seeking, men-pleasing ministers
"Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of
God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still
trying to please men, I would not be a servant of
Christ." Galatians 1:10
A fearless disregard of . . .
smiles or frowns,
character or consequences,
opposition or approbation,
pay or popularity,
will always distinguish the true servant of Christ
from self-seeking, men-pleasing ministers.
"For we speak as messengers who have been approved
by God to be entrusted with the Gospel. Our purpose
is to please God, not men. He is the one who examines
the motives of our hearts." 1 Thes. 2:4
By its own powerful and holy instinct
"I will give you a new heart with new and right desires,
and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your
stony heart of sin and give you a new, obedient heart."
The new nature, by its own powerful and holy instinct,
will turn away your feet from every forbidden place, and
every unhallowed scene. Panting after God, and thirsting
for the living God, taking pleasure in His ways, you will
shudder at the idea of being found in the haunts of vice,
or in the society of the vicious. It will be unnecessary to
forbid your going to the tavern, the theater, the house
of ill fame, the gambling-table, or horse-race. Your own
renewed and sanctified nature will be a law against
The shrine of Mammon
"You lack only one thing. Go and sell all you have and
give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure
in heaven. Then come, follow Me." At this, the man's
face fell, and he went sadly away because he had
many possessions. Mark 10:21-22
You see what was the defect in this young man. He did not
possess the faith which overcomes the world. He wished
to unite two things utterly irreconcilable—the love of God
and the love of the world. He wanted to serve two masters,
God and Mammon. It was not open vice and profligacy that
kept him from true religion here, and from heaven hereafter.
It was the more decent and reputable sin of supreme
attachment to worldly things. He could give up many
sins, but he could not give up his besetting sin—supreme
regard to wealth. He could do many things, but he could
not give up all to follow Christ. He could give up open
vice, but he could not deny himself and take up his cross.
He had many good qualities, but he lacked one thing.
If open vice has slain its thousands, worldliness has
slain its tens of thousands!
Of all the false gods, the shrine of Mammon is most
resorted to—it is from that idolatrous temple, the broadest
and most beaten path to the bottomless pit will be found.
In the crowd which press along that path, are included, not
only the knaves, the cheats, and men of dishonorable
character; but men who follow things which are just, and
honest, and true, and reputable; who yet rise to no higher
than to be the worshipers of this sordid deity. Yes, even
Mammon can boast of devotees who scorn all that is vile,
dishonorable and unjust.
In the broad road which leads to destruction, there is a path
for the lovers of the world—as well as for the lovers of vice!
"How long are you going to waver between two
opinions? If Jehovah is God, follow Him! But if
Baal is God, then follow him!" 1 Kings 18:21
There are other Baals in this age, in all the various
forms under which they are objects of human idolatry.
It is true you are not called, invited or disposed,
to bow the knee to idols of wood, stone, or metal.
These, however, are not the only way in which idolatry
may be practiced. Everyone has a god, and if man does
not love and worship Jehovah, he will make a deity of
his own image. Survey, young men, the idols which
you are called upon to worship!
Among them, sustaining a high place, is the idol of
SENSUALITY. This goddess is decked out with all that
can pollute the imagination, inflame the passions, or
excite the evil propensities of a youthful heart. Before
this image, multitudes of devotees of both sexes bow
the knee and offer the most costly sacrifices of property,
health, principle, and reputation!
Near her is the bewitching and smiling image of
WORLDLY PLEASURE, with the sound of music, the
song, and the dance—alluring the giddy and thoughtless
to its orgies; and throwing the spell of its fascinations
over the imagination of multitudes who go merrily to
MAMMON, the despicable deity of wealth, is there,
glittering with gold, and offering riches to his eager
followers as the reward of their diligent and faithful
adherence. His liturgy is the cry of "Money! Money!
Money!" His sacrifices are the time, the bodies, the
comfort, and the souls of his worshipers!
Near this is the shrine of HUMAN KNOWLEDGE.
This idol is only evil, when raised above the place
of faith, piety, and virtue. When thus exalted above
Scripture, it is a deceiving, corrupting idol—the false
goddess of a Pantheon of Vices.
Nor must we leave out the idols of FALSE RELIGION,
the chief of which is Popery—the anti-Christ of the
Apocalypse, "the Man of Sin sitting in the temple of God,
exalting itself above all that is called God." This idol,
taking the name of Christ as its designation, assuming
the cross as its symbol, and boasting of an apostle as
its first pope; enriched by wealth; venerable for antiquity;
dignified by learning; decorated by sculpture, architecture,
and painting; and adding the abysmal policies, and most
serpentine craft to all these other dangerous qualities,
has fascinated countless millions! And, notwithstanding
the monstrous absurdity of its doctrines, the blood-stained
page of its history, and its hostility to the liberties of
mankind—is now putting forth the most arrogant claims,
and making the most audacious attempts for the conquest
of our country!
These idolaters have chosen their god, and are the
determined and devoted worshipers of their Baals!
They have hardened their hearts, and seared their
consciences, except it be an occasional qualm in the
season of death or sickness.
They congratulate themselves upon their having thrown
off all the weaknesses and fears of Christianity, and
upon their being now enabled to pursue their downward
course unchecked by the restraint of conscience. Unhappy
men, blind, and glorying in their blindness; benumbed in
all their moral faculties, and exulting in their stupidity!
With every tie cut, which held them to piety and truth, they
account it a privilege that they are drifting unobstructed to
destruction—determined to be lost, and rejoicing that
nothing bars their path to the bottomless pit!
"These men have set up idols in their hearts!" Ezekiel 14:3
"Their hearts were devoted to their idols!" Ezekiel 20:16
Saving faith expresses itself not only in worship,
in religious zeal, in charity to the poor—but in a
systematic and strong restraint upon the passions,
imagination, temper, and appetites.
Saving faith will ensure you . . .
the protection of omnipotence;
the guidance of omniscience;
the companionship of omnipresence;
the supplies of all-sufficiency.
Saving faith will fill your intellect with the thoughts
of God's own mind, and your soul with the joy of
God's own heart—and thus furnish you at once with
the supreme truth, and the chief good.
Saving faith will mingle its own heavenly
pleasures with the pure delights of earth.
Saving faith will preserve you equally from the snares
of prosperity, and the withering blasts of adversity.
Saving faith will be . . .
your nurse in sickness,
your companion in solitude, and
your preserver amid the corruptions of society.
Saving faith will be your shield against
temptations to sin, and the insidious
attacks of infidelity and false philosophy.
Saving faith will be . . .
the guide of your youth,
the protector of your matured life,
and the prop of your old age.
Saving faith will prepare you for early death, or
for living until old age. It will smooth the pillow
of death, by giving you immortal hopes amid the
dissolution of nature. It will rise with you from the
grave in that day when death shall be swallowed
up in victory, and will put you in possession of
glory, honor, immortality, and eternal life!
These are the fools of whom Solomon speaks!
"Whoever walks with the wise will become wise; but
the companion of fools shall be destroyed!" Pr. 13:20
Young men! There are evil companions to be avoided!
the lunatic asylum,
the bottomless pit,
all, all, attest the truth of this, by the millions they
have swallowed up in their jaws of destruction!
Evil companionship has ruined . . .
and more souls,
than almost anything else that could be named.
Young men! Evil companionship is one of your first
and most pressing dangers. Character assimilates to
that which surrounds it. You must take your character,
to a certain extent, from your companions.
Do not have bad companions! Men . . .
who scoff at Christianity,
who ridicule the godly,
who make light of sin and laugh at conscience,
who are lewd in their actions, or obscene in their talk,
who are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God,
who are extravagant in their habits,
who are loose in their moral principles,
these are the fools of whom Solomon speaks,
—who will bring their own destruction upon you,
if you do not avoid them!
With much the same emphasis do I warn you against bad
BOOKS. There are books that inflame the imagination and
corrupt the taste—that by their excitement unfit the mind
for the sober realities of life—or by continuous light
entertainment, indispose the mind for what is serious
and holy. These are all to be avoided.
In some respects bad books are more mischievous than
bad companions, since they are more accessible, and
more constantly with us. They can be more secretly
consulted, and lodge their poison more abidingly in . . .
the intellect, and
A bad book is a bad companion of the worst kind, and
prepares for bad companions of all other kinds!
"Whoever walks with the wise will become wise; but
the companion of fools shall be destroyed!" Pr. 13:20
A most dangerous propensity!
"Lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God." 2 Tim. 3:4
A pleasure-loving youth will become a pleasure-loving man.
A love of pleasure, a taste for amusement, is a most
As to novels, I join with every other moral and religious
writer in condemning, as the vilest trash, the greater part
of these productions, which have carried a turbid stream
of vice over the morals of mankind.
Novels . . .
corrupt the taste,
pollute the heart,
debase the mind,
demoralize the conduct.
Novels throw prostrate the understanding; sensualize
the affections; enervate the will; and bring all the high
faculties of the soul into subjection to a wild imagination.
Novels generate a morbid, sickly sentimentalism,
instead of a just and lovely realism.
A wise man should despise novels, and a godly
man should abhor them!
I do not hesitate for a moment to pronounce the theater
to be one of the broadest avenues which lead to destruction!
Fascinating, no doubt it is—but on that account the more
delusive and the more dangerous! Let a young man once
acquire a taste for this species of entertainment, and yield
himself up to its gratification, and he is in imminent danger
of becoming a lost character—rushing upon his ruin!
All the evils that can . . .
waste his property,
corrupt his morals,
blast his reputation,
impair his health,
embitter his life,
and destroy his soul,
lurk in the confines of the theater! Vice, in every
form, lives, and moves, and has its being there!
Myriads have cursed the hour when they first exposed
themselves to the contamination of the theater. >From
that fatal evening, they date their destruction!
Take warning then, and have nothing to do with the
theater. Avoid it as one of the avenues to the broad
road that leads to destruction. The danger is greater
than I describe. The doors of the theater are as the
jaws of the devouring lion!
"Do not follow the crowd in doing evil." Exodus 23:2
Our life is a bubble!
"What is your life? You are a mist that appears
for a little while and then vanishes!" James 4:14
Our world is a valley of tears. Our life is a bubble,
raised from those tears, inflated by sighs; which, after
floating a little while, decked with a few gaudy colors
—is touched by the hand of death, and dissolves!
all assail the travelers as they journey onward
to eternity through this gloomy valley.
"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on
what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary,
but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinth. 4:18
When the honey is all sucked!
Love of worldly pleasure is a great impediment
to true piety. It has been most wickedly said,
"Youth is the time for pleasure,
manhood is the time for business,
old age is the time for religion."
It is painful to observe, that if the two latter parts
of human life are neglected, the first is not.
Young people too often answer the description given by
the apostle, "Lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God."
In youth, there are many temptations to this wicked
propensity . . .
the senses are vigorous,
the spirits lively,
the imagination ardent,
the passions warm, and
the concerns of life but few and feeble.
Hence many give themselves up to the impulses of their
corrupt nature, and are held in alienation from a life of
piety—by a love of pleasure. Some are carried away by
a vain and frivolous love of dress and show; others by
a delight in mirth and parties; others by games, balls,
and theatrical performances; others by the sports of
the field; others by intemperance and debauchery.
It is admitted that all these gratifications are not equally
degrading in themselves—nor equally destructive of
reputation and health. But if indulged in as the chief
good, they may all prevent the mind from attending
to the concerns of true religion.
A predominant love of worldly pleasure, of any kind—is
destructive in every point of view. It often leads on from
gratifications which, in the opinion of the world, are decent
and moral—to those which are wicked and immoral. It is
incompatible with the duties and comforts of domestic life.
It hinders the improvement of the understanding, and keeps
the mind barren and empty. It prevents from becoming the
benefactors of society. But its greatest mischief is, that it
totally indisposes the mind for true religion, and thus extends
its mischief to eternity! In short, if a predominant love of
worldly pleasure is cherished and persisted in, it ruins
and damns the soul forever!
My children, beware of this most dangerous propensity for
worldly pleasure! Consider where it leads—resist it to the
uttermost—and ask grace from God to acquire a better taste.
Yes, if you live for worldly pleasure, and neglect true religion,
you are giving up an exceeding great and eternal weight of
glory—for light and frivolous gratifications, which are but for
a moment! You are, for the sake of a few years' empty mirth,
entailing everlasting ages of unmitigated torments!
Besides, though worldly pleasure may temporarily gratify
—it does not really satisfy! When the honey is all sucked
—it leaves a sting behind!
And what are the pleasures of the world, compared with
those of true piety?
But the shadow to the substance;
the stagnant pool to the fresh and running fountain;
the smoking candle to the midday sun!
Shall worldly pleasure cheat you of eternal salvation?
He certainly acts as an atheist!
Fathers! Your children are immortal beings! The stamp
of eternity is upon them! Everlasting ages are before them!
They are like the rest of the human race—depraved, guilty,
and condemned creatures; and consequently in danger of
eternal misery! Yet they are, through the mercy of God,
creatures capable of attaining to glory, honor, immortality,
and eternal life. Looking upon them in this light, what
should be your chief concern for them—and what should
be your conduct towards them?
Fathers! Your children are hastening to either
eternal happiness—or eternal torment!
The man who does not make the eternal welfare
of his children, the supreme end of all his conduct
towards them, may profess to believe as a Christian
—but he certainly acts as an Atheist!
Once more let it be stated, and stated with all possible
emphasis—that the chief design of this work is to form
the pious character of its readers, and to implant those
virtues which shall live, and flourish, and dignify, and
delight—infinite ages after every object that is dear . . .
to avarice or pride,
to learning or science,
to taste or ambition,
shall have perished in the conflagration of the universe!
It is in the highest degree inconsistent, absurd, cruel,
and wicked—for a Christian parent not to be supremely
desirous of the everlasting welfare of his children! Let
a supreme concern for their immortal interests be at
the bottom of all your conduct, and be interwoven
with all your parental habits!
Taste & distaste
True religion changes the moral nature, producing . . .
a dislike and dread of sin, and
a love of holiness and virtue.
Piety is a spiritual taste; and, like every other taste,
it is accompanied with a distaste for the opposites
of those things or qualities which are the subjects
of its delight. Sin is that bitter thing which the soul
of a true Christian hates. It is the object of his
antipathy—and therefore of his dread. He turns from
it with aversion and loathing, as that which is offensive
and disgusting. It is not merely that he is commanded
by authority to abstain from sin—but he is led away from
it by the expulsive power of a new attraction. He may
have sinful propensities of his carnal nature—but he
resists the indulgence of them, for it is sin against God.
When you have once tasted the sweetness of true
religion—how insipid, how nauseous, will be those
draughts of 'wicked pleasure' with which the sinner
intoxicates and poisons his soul!
When you have acquired a relish for the pure,
calm, satisfying joys of faith and holiness—how
entirely will you disrelish the polluting, boisterous,
and unsatisfying pleasures of sin!
When you have once drunk of the waters of the river
of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne
of God and of the Lamb—how loathsome will be the
filthy turbid streams of licentious gratification!
The pursuits of butterflies and grasshoppers,
and canary birds!
Pleasure is the supreme good, and chief object of pursuit of
many. To pleasure, they have devoted their lives. Some are
living for sports, others for the gratification of the appetites,
and others for the enjoyment of the round of fashionable
amusements. Pleasure, in one form or other, is the chief
object of pursuit with myriads.
As to the gratification of our animal appetites, it should
not be difficult to persuade us, that to sink to the level of
the brute creation, and hold communion with swine, and
goats and rats, cannot be the chief end of a rational being.
To many, fashionable amusements seem to be the purpose of
life. Multitudes live for pleasures of this kind. Ball succeeds to
concert; the private party to the public assembly; the card party
to the dinner party. In this busy round of fashionable follies,
many pass their lives away!
Can it be, that the chief object of existence is to sing, and play,
and dress and dance? Do not these things, when we reflect upon
them, look more like the pursuits of butterflies and grasshoppers,
and canary birds—than of rational creatures? Is it not melancholy
to see beings with never-dying souls, sinking to the amusements
of children; and employing time as if it were given them for nothing
but mirth; and using the world as if it were created by God only to
be a sort of playground for its inhabitants?
Does this kind of life really satisfy those who pursue it?
Far, very far, from it! Can any person, in reality, be farther
from happiness than those who live for pleasure?
"O Lord, save me from the men of this world—who
have their portion in this life!" Psalm 17:14
A bubble that rises, and shines, and bursts!
"Be very careful, then, how you live—not as fools
but as wise, redeeming the time, because the
days are evil." Ephesians 5:15-16
Paul implies that a man can give no greater proof
of folly, nor more effectually act the part of a fool,
than to waste his time. While on the other hand,
a just appreciation and right improvement of time
are among the brightest displays of true wisdom.
We must value time correctly, and improve it diligently.
Time is the most precious thing in the world. God
distributes time miserly—by the moment—and He
never promises us another moment! We are to highly
value, and diligently to improve the present moment,
by the consideration that for anything we know, it
may be our last.
Time, when once gone, never returns. Where is
yesterday? A moment once lost, is lost forever!
We should never forget that our time is among the talents
for which we must give account at the judgment of God.
We must be tried not only for what we have done—but for
what we neglected to do. Not only for the hours spent in
sin—but for those wasted in idleness. Let us beware of
It might stir us up to diligence in the improvement of our
time, to think how much of it has been already misspent.
What days, and weeks, and months, and years, have
already been utterly wasted, or exhausted upon trifles
totally unworthy of them. They are gone, and nothing
remains of them but the guilt of having wasted them.
We cannot call them back if we would. Let us learn to
value more highly, and to use more kindly, those days
How much of our time is already gone—and how little
may be yet to come? The sands of our hour-glass may
be almost out! Death may be at the door!
When you begin a day, you don't know that you shall end it!
When you lie down, you don't know that you shall rise up!
When you leave your house, you don't know that you shall
For what is your life? It is even as a vapor that appears for
a little while and then vanishes! Life is a bubble that rises,
and shines, and bursts! We know not in any one period of
our existence—but that it may be the last. Surely, surely,
we should then improve our time, when we may be holding,
for anything we know, the last portion of it in our hands!
You are immortal creatures, and must live forever in torment
or in bliss! And certainly you cannot be forming a right
estimate of the value of time, nor be rightly employing it,
if the soul be forgotten, salvation neglected, and eternity
left out of consideration!
Our great concern!
"There are three things that will endure—faith, hope, and
love—and the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinth. 13:13
Real Christianity consists of these three apostolic graces.
All else is but her earthly attire, which may vary in fashion
and color, without affecting her substance and life, or
destroying her symmetry. Had this been understood,
believed, remembered, and practiced from the beginning . . .
what monstrous systems of error;
what iron yokes of spiritual tyranny;
what bloody persecutions;
what ecclesiastic arrogance and presumption;
what disfigurements of the simple and spiritual religion
of the meek and lowly Jesus, by pagan rites and external
ceremonies; what foul blots upon the fair form of
Christianity—would the world have been spared!
Amid the controversies and decrees of church councils,
how has the still small voice of the apostle been stifled,
which says, "There are three things that will endure—
faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love."
How forward have men been to admire this sacred trio,
but how slow to imitate them!
Poets have sung their charms!
Painters have delineated their beauty!
Music has chanted their praises!
Eloquence has emblazoned their worth!
What remains but for preachers to make them the
prevailing themes of their ministry—and for professing
Christians to exhibit them in the practice of their lives!
When this shall everywhere be done, and they shall
universally come in place of a heartless orthodoxy and
an external ritualism—then the world will see Christianity
as she is, and will covet to be like her. But, until then,
multitudes will look upon Christianity with suspicion,
and not a few turn from her with disgust!
Our great concern should be to promote a healthful,
spiritual, robust, and godly piety in our churches; for
which no external improvements in our architecture,
our music, or our services, can be a substitute!
What we should seek to maintain in our churches, is
the more powerful dominion of faith, hope, and love,
compared with which, many of those matters which are
now rife among us, are but of very small importance.
Faith, hope, and love are the great themes of the
Christian ministry, are something more than matters
of theory—something more than mere theses for the
theologian to discuss before an audience. They are
matters of eternal life or death—and should be preached
as if the preachers believed them to be so.
The great idol!
"People will be lovers of themselves." 2 Timothy 3:2
Selfishness is the cause of all sin—the opposite of all
holiness and virtue.
The essence of man's sin, the sum of his moral depravity,
is to love himself supremely; to seek himself finally and
exclusively; to make self, in one shape or another, the
center to which all his busy thoughts, anxious cares and
diligent pursuits, constantly tend.
Self-love is the most active and reigning principle in fallen
nature! SELF is the great idol which mankind are naturally
disposed to worship; and selfishness the grand interest to
which they are devotedly attached!
Selfishness is contrary to the habitual temper of our Lord
Jesus Christ. "For even Christ did not please Himself."
The perfection of all virtue lies in unselfish love. The nearer
we approach to this state of mind, the nearer we come to
sinless moral excellence. "Love is not self-seeking."
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in
humility consider others better than yourselves." Phil. 2:3
The loathsome moral leprosy!
"Love does not boast—it is not proud." 1 Corin. 13:4
Pride has a high and overweening conceit of its own
possessions and acquirements, and ostentatiously
boasts of what it is, has done, can do, or intends to do.
Pride signifies such an exalted idea of ourselves, as
leads to self-esteem—and to contempt of others.
Pride is self-admiration—self-doating.
Pride is the sin which laid the moral universe in ruins.
Pride is the original sin, the inherent corruption of our
nature. Pride spreads over humanity with contagious
violence. Pride is the loathsome moral leprosy, raging
alike through the palace and the cottage, and infecting
equally the prince and the peasant.
Love is no less opposed to VANITY than it is to pride!
Pride differs from vanity thus—
pride causes us to value ourselves;
vanity makes us anxious for applause.
Pride renders a man odious;
vanity makes him ridiculous.
Love does not boast of, or ostentatiously display,
its possessions, abilities, or good deeds.
"Love does not boast—it is not proud." 1 Corin. 13:4
Although they should spend every penny!
"If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender
my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain
nothing!" 1 Corinthians 13:3
This representation of the indispensable necessity
of Christian love, is most striking. It supposes it
possible that a man may distribute all his substance
in acts of apparent beneficence—and yet after all be
without true religion!
Actions derive their moral character from the motives
under the influence of which they are performed.
Therefore, many actions which are beneficial to man,
may still be sinful in the sight of God, because they
are not done from a right motives!
The most diffusive generosity—if prompted by pride,
vanity or self-righteousness—is of no value in the
eyes of the omniscient Jehovah! On the contrary, it
is very sinful!
It is too evident to be questioned, that many of the
charities of which we are the witnesses, are done from
any motives but the right ones. We readily see that
multitudes are lavish in their monetary contributions,
who are at the same time totally destitute of love to
God. They are, as it respects real religion, less than
nothing, although they should spend every penny
of their property in relieving the needs of the poor!
If our munificence, however great or self-denying, be
the operation of mere selfish regard to ourselves, to
our own reputation, or to our own safety—and not of
pure love—it may do good to others, but will do
none to ourselves!
"If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender
my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain
nothing!" 1 Corinthians 13:3
Seraph or demon?
Many conclude that they are true Christians, because
of the intensity of their religious feelings. Possessed
of much excitability and warmth of temperament, they
are, of course, susceptible of deep and powerful
impressions from true religion. They are not without
joy—and they are not without their religious sorrows.
Their tears are plentiful—and their smiles in proportion.
See them in the house of God, and none appear to feel
more under the preaching of the Word than they do. The
sermon exerts an influential power over their affections,
and the preacher seems to have their hearts at command.
They talk loudly of "happy frames and precious seasons".
But follow them from the house of God to their own
homes—and, O, how changed the scene! The least
offense, perhaps an unintentional one—raises a storm
of angry passion, and the man who looked like a seraph
in the sanctuary—seems more like a demon at home!
Follow them from the Sabbath into the other days of
the week, and you will see the man who appeared all
for heaven on the Sunday—all for earth on the Monday!
Follow them from the assembly of the saints to the
places of business—and you will see the man who
looked so devout; now . . .
irritated and quarrelsome,
selfish and unfair,
crude and insulting,
envious and malicious!
Yes! And perhaps in the evening of the same day,
you will see him at a prayer meeting, enjoying, as
he supposes, the holy season!
Such is the delusion under which many are living!
Their religion is, in great part, is a mere selfish
The necessary fruits of our doctrines
Let us remember that HUMILITY and LOVE are
the necessary fruits of our doctrines, and the
highest beauty of our character!
True Christian love must be . . .
blended with all our habits,
diffused through all our conduct,
forming our character,
breathing in our desires,
speaking in our words,
beaming in our eyes.
This is true religion—practical religion.
"If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom
all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have
a faith that can move mountains—but have
not love, I am nothing!" 1 Corinthians 13:2
"Whoever does not love does not know God,
because God is love." 1 John 4:8
I can conceive of no higher heaven
In the sublime visions of the Apocalypse, where
heaven is opened to our view, it is Christ who is
represented as the glory of that place . . .
lighting up all countenances with joy,
filling all hearts with gladness, and
making all tongues vocal with praise.
Jesus is the sun of that blessed world—the orb
of that nightless, cloudless, and eternal day!
"I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better
by far!" This was the heaven Paul longed for. That one
idea of 'being with Christ' filled his soul. To be absent
from the body, and present with the Lord—was the
prevailing wish of his truly Christian heart.
Jesus is the object of the Christian's supreme
regard. Are there not moments when he has . . .
such views of Christ's glory,
such conceptions of His amazing mercy,
such a sense of His love,
such feelings of gratitude and affection,
that he is ready to say, "If I feel all this now,
when I only believe, what must be the felicity . . .
of beholding His full-orbed glory,
of gazing upon His face,
and hearing His loving voice!
I can conceive of no higher heaven, no more perfect
paradise, than to be in the presence of Him who died
for me upon the cross!"
There is something wonderfully impressive and delightful,
in thus resolving the bliss of heaven into a one state of
mind, consisting of an adoring and grateful love, for a
being to whom we are indebted for redemption from an
infinitude and eternity of torment, and to an infinitude
and eternity of bliss; and who adds to all these claims
upon our gratitude, additional claims upon our homage
and admiration—for His own infinity and eternal glories!
Elegance, entertainment, and luxurious gratification
"For the world offers only the lust for physical pleasure, the
lust for everything we see, and pride in our possessions.
These are not from the Father. They are from this evil
world." 1 John 2:16
The 'spirit of the world' has come into the church!
Elegance, entertainment, and luxurious gratification
are occupying far more than they ought to do, the minds
of professing Christians!
"Therefore, come out from them and separate yourselves
from them, says the Lord. Don't touch their filthy things,
and I will welcome you." 2 Corinthians 6:17
A decent, flowery, down-hill
way to eternal destruction!
Christ is . . .
the supreme object of a true Christian's love,
the chief source of his felicity,
the highest end of his life.
The first object of a Christian's desire, pursuit
and expectation—is the salvation of his soul.
Our great business on earth—is to fit for heaven.
Our main concern in time—is to prepare for eternity.
The world is, indeed, a very dangerous foe to the
believer. To very, very many, it is the most destructive
one. They are not so likely to be subdued by 'open vice'
as by worldly-mindedness.
Worldliness is the sin of the age, and has deeply
infected the church of Christ.
"Do not love the world or anything in the world.
If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father
is not in him." 1 John 2:15
This verse ought to ring through all Christendom,
and make the ears of millions tingle—and their
hearts to palpitate with fear and alarm!
What is the world?
Not merely open sin and vice, profligacy, idolatry,
infidelity or heresy. Oh no! The world contains many
things besides the lust of the eye, the lust of the
flesh, and the pride of life—things . . .
than these vile objects!
Everything on earth, however fair, laudable and
excellent in itself—everything besides God, is the
Your business is the world,
your family is the world,
your comfortable home is the world,
the wife of your bosom is the world,
the children whom God has given you are the world.
"What! then," you exclaim, "are we not to love these?"
Yes, in proper degrees—but not more than God. You are
not to seek your highest happiness from them. You are
not to be more solicitous to secure them, than heaven.
It is of a 'supreme love' which the apostle speaks.
"Anyone who loves his father or mother more than Me is
not worthy of Me; anyone who loves his son or daughter
more than Me is not worthy of Me." Matthew 10:37
Christian professors, there is need to have these solemn,
yet righteous demands, sent with a voice of thunder into
your places of business and scenes of domestic comfort.
You have need to be told that . . .
all this engrossing solicitude about business;
all this eager haste to be rich;
all this ambition for larger houses;
all this taste for elegance, show and fashion;
all this competition for name and fame,
which leads to a neglect of salvation, to departure from
God, to indifference to heaven—is the love of the world,
which is incompatible with the love of the Father!
And not less so . . .
that supreme concern about domestic enjoyment,
that taste for fashionable amusements, or even
that more refined and simple love of home-bred delights,
which leaves out God, salvation, heaven and eternity!
Here, here, I repeat, is your peril.
Here the enemy with which you have to do battle!
It is not vice.
It is not profligacy.
It is worldly-mindedness!
Do we not see mere professors throwing
themselves wholly—body, soul, and spirit . . .
into their trade,
into the cherished objects of their ambition,
into their entire devotedness to a worldly life.
In these things, and for them, they live!
These things . . .
bind round and overgrow their heart,
stifle all serious thoughts,
smother all heavenly desires.
The road that leads to destruction is broad enough
to comprise many parallel paths. And there is one path
crowded with professors of religion, walking in company,
with cheerful appearance, and elegant attire, and elastic
step—but still walking to perdition! Oh, yes, there is a
way 'through the church'—a decent, flowery, down-hill
way to eternal destruction, and there are many who
take that road!
The sweetest ingredients in the cup of life
The purest happiness of an earthly nature, is that which
springs up in a comfortable home, where there is a loving
union of hearts between man and wife.
The tender sympathies,
the delicate affections,
the minute attentions,
the watchful solicitudes,
the ceaseless kindnesses of marital love,
—are the sweetest ingredients in the cup of life,
and contribute a thousand times more to earthly
enjoyment, than all the possessions of wealth, and
all the blandishments of rank, station, and fashion.
You are the one who has done this!
"They all know that the the hand of the Lord has
done this. In His hand is the life of every creature
and the breath of all mankind." Job 12:9-10
"Be still, and know that I am God." Such is the admonition
which comes to you—and which comes from heaven. It is God
Himself who has bereaved you—through whatever second
causes He has inflicted the blow. Not even a sparrow falls to
the ground without His knowledge—much less a rational and
immortal creature. He has the keys of death, and never for a
moment entrusts them out of His hand—the door of the
sepulcher is never unlocked, but by Himself!
Though men may drop and die as unheeded by many, as the fall
of the autumnal leaf in the pathless desert—they die not by
chance! Every incident which has reduced you to your present
sorrowful condition, is an individual decision of infinite wisdom.
Whether therefore, the death of your husband was slow or
sudden; at home or abroad; by accident or disease—it was
appointed, and all its circumstances arranged, by God. Be still,
therefore, and know that He is God, who does His will among
the armies of heaven, and the inhabitants of earth, and allows
no one to question His proceedings.
Bow down before Him with unqualified submission—and find
relief in acquiescence to His wise and sovereign will.
Submission forbids all passionate invective; all rebellious
language; all bitter reflections on second causes; and all
questionings about the wisdom, goodness, or equity of
the God of Providence. You should not only suppress all
murmuring and complaining language—but all thoughts
and feelings of this kind. Submission is that state of the
soul under afflictive dispensations of Providence, which
produces an acquiescence in the will of God—as just, and
wise, and good. It expresses itself in some such manner
as the following. "I deeply feel the heavy loss I have
sustained, and my nature mourns and weeps. But as I
am persuaded it is the Lord's doing, who has a right to
do as He pleases, and who is at the same time too wise
to mistake, and too benevolent to put me to unnecessary
pain—I endeavor to bow down to His holy will."
Did we really believe in the doctrine of Providence, and
that He who superintends its administration, unites to an
arm of omnipotence—a mind of infinite knowledge, and
a heart of boundless love—submission would be easy!
Christian mourner, consider God as the author of all your
trials—as well as of all your comforts! View Him as your
Father! Be assured that He loves you too well to do you
any harm! Be confident that He is making all things work
together for your good!
"I was silent; I would not open my mouth, for You
are the one who has done this!" Psalm 39:9
Continually churning up mire and dirt!
"The wicked are like the troubled sea, which cannot
rest, whose waves are continually churning up mire
and dirt." Isaiah 57:20
Until the carnal mind, which is enmity against God,
is regenerated and brought to love God supremely,
there can be no true happiness or peace. As long as
the heart is under the dominion of selfishness, and
all those lusts and passions to which it gives rise,
it must be miserable!
In the absence of Christian love, the human bosom
must be the seat of uneasiness and distress.
Happiness does not arise from possessions, so much
as from dispositions. Happiness is not what a man has,
or where he dwells—but what he IS. The great source
and springs of felicity, are rooted in our nature. There
are certain dispositions, the absence of which would
render heaven a place of torment to us; and others,
which would raise for us an Eden in the midst of the
dreariest wilderness on earth.
It is true that many, in the absence of Christian love,
pretend to some kind of enjoyment, and have it too;
for there are 'pleasures of sin', such as they are. But
as to solid happiness—that which befits and satisfies
a rational, moral, and immortal creature—it may with
the greatest truth be affirmed, that the wicked are
like the troubled sea which cannot rest—but is
continually churning up mire and dirt!
As well may we expect quietude and comfort in a den
of wild beasts, or in a field of battle—as in a heart
where the vile passions of anger, wrath, malice, envy,
pride, and revenge—have taken up their abode and
predominate. How demon-like is the feeling when
these turbulent evil passions gain the ascendancy!
What agitation and what torment are the result!
"The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual
immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and
witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage,
selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy;
drunkenness, orgies, and the like." Galat. 5:19-21
"We were as gentle among you as a mother feeding
and caring for her own children." 1 Thessalonians 2:7
Oh! what churches we would have, if Christian
love had its full scope!
The pastor would labor with the most earnest,
indefatigable, and unselfish zeal for the eternal
welfare of the flock; and make it evident that
compassion for souls, and not filthy lucre—was
the impulse of all his conduct. Affection would
beam in his eyes, and breathe in his spirit, while
"the law of kindness" would dwell on his lips.
He would preside over the people in the meekness
of wisdom; and, instead of proudly lording it over
God's heritage, he would rule them in love.
Over all his talents, however brilliant, he would put
the 'garment of humility'. And, with respect to all his
success, however great, he would speak in the language
of modesty. He would neither envy his more gifted or
successful brethren, nor proudly vaunt over his inferiors.
To all under his pastoral care, even the most illiterate
and poor, he would conduct himself with the humility
and love of true benevolence. He would labor to correct
their errors, whether doctrinal or practical; and have
no greater joy than to see them walking in the truth!
"Be an example to all believers in what you teach, in the
way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity."
1 Timothy 4:12
The meek and gentle and passive virtues
The meek and gentle and passive virtues of the
gospel, are generally looked upon with disesteem,
and treated with contempt by the world. Is . . .
poverty of spirit,
the forgiveness of insults,
patience under provocation,
—admired, applauded, imitated? Quite the contrary!
The men who would practice these Christian graces,
must make up their minds to endure the world's scorn,
and to be treated as poor weak-spirited creatures.
And yet this is the spirit of true piety—for this is the
disposition of Jesus!
When Jesus Christ came into the world, He found it full
of the notion that human glory consisted in ambition,
pride, and revenge. Hence He took particular pains to
correct this notion, giving, in His sermon on the mount,
a delineation the very opposite of this. Indeed, the
design of that sermon was to rectify the mistakes then
universally prevalent on the subject of true piety and
of happiness; and to teach the world that His disciples
were to be pre-eminently distinguished by . . .
thirsting after righteousness.
These are the qualities of a true Christian, and everyone
who bears the character, must sedulously cultivate its
appropriate dispositions, and be willing to bear the ridicule
to which they will expose him. Bearing their scorn, he will
wait with patience for that world where humility and
meekness will be honored and rewarded—and love, their
parent disposition, be crowned with glory!
The flaming scimitar of the Sultan
This system of imposture, abounding as it does with
minute and ridiculous ceremonies, and a slavish regard
to absurd ritual observances; enforces, by the authority
of its founder, the most ferocious and blood-thirsty
hatred to all who do not receive it with implicit faith.
Wars against all other religions are not only enjoined
in many passages of the Koran—but are declared to be
in a high degree 'meritorious' in the sight of Allah.
How completely Islamism has filled its votaries with the
most ferocious bigotry and the most merciless intolerance,
is known by universal testimony. They everywhere pour
insulting contempt upon all who are not Muslims, and
feel a savage delight in adding cruelty to insult.
The spirit of the system is everywhere visible in the absolute
despotism of the governments of those countries in which it
prevails. Where Islam is found, the arts and the sciences do not
flourish, and liberty withers in its shade. The flaming scimitar
of the Sultan is its patron and defense. It was propagated by
the sword, and it is essentially and unalterably cruel.
Such is Islamism—a curse to the world, and the reverse of
all that is holy and beneficent.
A very common supposition
It is a very common supposition that it is
an easy thing to be a Christian. And if to be
a Christian were nothing more than . . .
going to a place of worship,
indulging in pious emotions,
subscribing to religious institutions, and
professing certain religious opinions,
—the supposition would be correct—for
nothing is more easy than all this!
But if the spirit of true piety is . . .
poverty of spirit,
forgiveness of insults,
patience under provocation,
thirsting after righteousness,
—then must it be obvious to everyone who knows
his own heart, that to be a true Christian is the
most difficult thing in the world!
One gracious purpose of mercy!
"And we know that God causes everything to work
together for the good of those who love Him, and are
called according to His purpose for them." Romans 8:28
Providence is God's government of the universe.
Providence is that mighty scheme . . .
which commenced before time was born;
which embraces the annals of other worlds besides ours;
which includes the history of angels, men, and devils.
Providence comprises the whole range of events which
have taken place from the formation of the first creature,
to the last moment of time—with all the tendencies,
reasons, connections, and results of things.
Providence encompasses the separate existence of
each individual, with the continuation and influence
of the whole, in one harmonious scheme.
We are puzzled at almost every step, at the deep,
unfathomable mysteries of Providence!
How often is Jehovah, in His dealings with us, a God
who hides Himself! How often does He wrap Himself in
clouds, and pursue His path upon the waters, where we
can neither see His goings, nor trace His footsteps!
How many of His dispensations are inexplicable, and
of His judgments how many are unfathomable by the
short line of our reason!
But whatever we don't know now, we shall know hereafter.
The crooked will be made straight, the clouds of darkness
will be scattered, and all His conduct towards us placed in
the broad day-light of eternity.
We shall see how all the varying, and numerous, and
seemingly opposite events of our history, were combined
into one gracious purpose of mercy, which was most
perfectly wise in all its combinations.
Delightful, most delightful, will it be to retrace our winding
and often gloomy course, and discern at each change and
turning, the reason of the occurrence and the wisdom of God.
Delightful will it be to discern the influence which all our
temporal circumstances—all our disappointments, losses,
and perplexities—had upon our permanent and celestial
happiness. How much of divine wisdom, power, goodness,
and faithfulness, will our short and simple history present,
and what rapturous fervor will the discovery give to the
song of praise which we shall utter before the throne of
God and the Lamb!
The whole Bible, condensed into a single term!
I heard the sound of a vast crowd in heaven shouting,
"Hallelujah! Salvation is from our God!" Revelation 19:1
Salvation! What a word! And what a blessing!
One word—but containing millions of ideas!
It is the whole Bible, condensed into a single term!
God's eternal councils;
Christ's redeeming work;
the Spirit's sanctifying power;
all the riches of divine grace;
all the blessings of eternal glory,
are in substance comprehended in those few syllables!
That one word is a boundless, fathomless ocean
of blessedness—it passes knowledge!
All that preachers have ever said;
all that authors have ever written;
all that Christians have ever felt, imagined, hoped for,
leave its full meaning yet to be explained.
It can be comprehended only in heaven!
It can be developed only in eternity!
I heard the sound of a vast crowd in heaven shouting,
"Hallelujah! Salvation is from our God!" Revelation 19:1
The three great works of the devil are . . .
The Mohammedan power, symbolized in the book of the
Apocalypse by the "false Prophet," is, with the Papal Beast,
to be cast into the lake which burns with brimstone and fire.
We are aware of the dreadful nature of Popery. We regard
Popery as the masterpiece of Satanic deceit and malice
—his richest trophy, and his proudest triumph. The Pope is
more Satan's Vicar, than that of Christ, upon earth. And
the Vatican his chosen seat of dominion among men.
Idolatry was a prominent Satanic invention. Mohammedanism
was a mighty stretch of diabolical craft. But Popery transcends
both! The other two were devices outside the pale of Christianity
—Popery is within it. They opposed Christianity—Popery corrupts it.
They try to destroy it—Popery goes far to make it destroy itself!
The rotten plank!
Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter
the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will
of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on
that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name,
and in Your name drive out demons and perform many
miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew
you. Away from Me, you evildoers!' Matthew 7:21-23.
These dreadful words should sound through the whole church
with the solemnity and impressiveness of an alarm bell. What
a salutary fear and trembling they should awaken! To what a
close and anxious examination they should lead!
Mistaken professors are going by myriads to the bottomless
pit! Myriads and myriads are walking to eternity over the rotten
plank of a 'formal and insincere profession', which will break
beneath their feet and let them fall into the burning gulf below!
I will never cease to sound the note of warning to these deluded
professors. For not only is it a dreadful thing to go down to the
pit with a lying profession, but a possible thing! Not only is it a
possible case, but a common one! "MANY will say to Me on
Distress in heaven?
Will it cause distress in heaven, to know that our
unsaved beloved friends and relatives are forever lost?
The only way of solving this difficulty, is to realize that a
perfect knowledge of God, and of the wisdom and justice
of all His designs and operations, will constitute a chief
part of the happiness of heaven. We shall be . . .
so convinced of the equity of His dealings towards the wicked,
so divested of all the weakness of 'human sentimentalism',
so absorbed in the love of what is right and just,
that the absence of our loved ones from the world of
glory, will cause no interruption of our heavenly bliss!
This, I acknowledge, is now hard to conceive. The day shall
reveal it. "Now we know in part and we prophesy in part, but
when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears." 1 Cor. 13:9-10
After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great
multitude in heaven shouting: "Hallelujah! Salvation and
glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are His
judgments!" And again they shouted: "Hallelujah! The smoke
from her goes up for ever and ever!" Revelation 19:1-3.
The design of Christ's work
"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.
The old things have passed away. Behold, all things
have become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17)
The design of Christ's work is not merely to
deliver from hell, but also from sin. The salvation
of Christ is designed to make you a new creature,
and to restore the image of God to your soul.
All true Christians . . .
feel Christ precious,
give themselves to prayer,
Like a concealed worm at the root of a flower
It may be that your hindrances to a more rapid
growth in grace, arise from some specific cause,
some sin indulged, some corruption cherished. Is
there not some sacrifice which you are unwilling
to make, or something which you are unwilling to
surrender? You must give up the forbidden thing,
or your growth in grace is impossible! That one sin
will, like a concealed worm at the root of a
flower—eat out the very life of your piety, and
cause it to droop, wither, and decay.
A misspent life
Time, with ceaseless flow rolls onward, and is ever bearing
you on its resistless stream—to the boundless ocean of
eternity. Yes, to eternity!
A misspent life can never be spent over again! A fault
committed in reference to the 'chief end of existence' can
never be rectified. It is a mistake on which death sets the
seal of eternity—a mistake which will require everlasting
ages to understand and deplore it!
The chief object of life must be something important.
A rational creature could not be justified in setting up
a mere trifle as the end and purpose of existence. It
marks a base and abject state of mind, or at any rate,
great childishness of taste—to allow one's thoughts,
feelings and aspirations, to be attracted, as to their
center—to a mere triviality.
God has given to man noble faculties—and to see them
all devoted to some mere petty trifle, as their supreme
aim—is a sad and a humiliating spectacle.
Who are they, and from where did they come?
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude,
which no man could number, out of every nation and of all
tribes, peoples, and languages, standing before the throne
and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes, with palm
branches in their hands. They cried with a loud voice,
saying, "Salvation be to our God, who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb!" Revelation 7
Who are they that send forth such strains? Who are they,
and from where did they come? "These are those who
came out of the great tribulation. They washed their robes,
and made them white in the Lamb's blood. Therefore they
are before the throne of God, they serve Him day and night
in His temple. He who sits on the throne will shelter them with
His presence. They will never be hungry, neither thirsty any
more; neither will the sun beat on them, nor any heat; for
the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne shepherds them,
and leads them to springs of waters of life. And God will
wipe away every tear from their eyes."
They were once upon earth; once men of like passions with
yourself. There is not a burden that oppresses your heart, but
oppressed theirs. There is not a fear that agitates your mind,
but agitated theirs. There is not a temptation that assails you,
but assailed them. There is not an obstacle that terrifies you,
but terrified them. They were once as ignorant, as weak, as
sinful, as timid, as discouraged, as you are now. There is
not a sorrow, a perplexity, or a danger with which you
are painfully familiar—but they passed through before you.
But there they are in heaven, more than conquerors over all
these things, through Him who loved them. He who saved
them has engaged to save you; nor is His ear heavy, nor His
arm shortened. "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so
great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight,
and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance
the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the author
and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before
Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at
the right hand of the throne of God."
What will He do with the lambs?
"He will feed His flock like a shepherd. He will gather
the lambs in His arm, and carry them in His bosom."
It is said of our Divine Redeemer, "He will feed His flock
like a shepherd." And in His flock there are lambs which
can neither travel fast nor far. And what will He do with
the lambs? "He will gather the lambs in His arm, and carry
them in His bosom." He will not carry them on His shoulder
—the emblem of strength; but in His bosom—the image of
Weak grace is real grace, and is in connection with the
infinite source in Christ's fullness.
A new creation
"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new
creation. The old things have passed away.
Behold, all things have become new!"
(2 Corinthians 5:17)
There must be a Divine alteration of disposition. Our . . .
views and tastes,
pains and pleasures,
hopes and fears,
desires and pursuits,
must be changed!
We must be brought to love God supremely, for His
holiness and justice—as well as for His mercy and
love; to delight in Him for his transcendent glory
—as well as for His rich grace.
We must have a perception of the beauties of holiness,
—and love Divine things for their own excellence.
We must mourn for sin, and hate it for its own evil
nature—as well as its dreadful punishment.
We must feel delight in the salvation of Christ, not only
because it delivers us from hell—but makes us like God,
and all this in a way which honors and glorifies Jehovah.
We must be made partakers of true humility and universal
love, and feel ourselves brought to be of one mind with God,
in willing and delighting in the happiness of others.
We must be brought to feel an identity of heart with God's
cause, and to regard it as our honor and happiness to do
anything to promote the glory of Christ in the salvation of
We must feel a longing desire, a hungering and thirsting
after holiness—as well as come to a determination to put
away all sins, however gainful or pleasant.
We must have a tender conscience, that shrinks from
and watches against little sins, secret faults, and sins of
neglect and omission—as well as great and scandalous
We must love the people of God, for God's sake,
because they belong to Him and are like Him.
We must practice the self-denying duty of mortification of
sin—as well as engage in the pleasing exercises of religion.
Nothing less than such a view of Christ in His glorious
mediatorial character, and such a dependence by faith
upon His blood and righteousness for salvation—as
changes the whole heart, and temper, and conduct,
and throws the world as it were into the background,
and makes glory hereafter, and holiness now, the
supreme concern—is saving religion.
The great storehouse of iniquity!
"From the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries,
sexual immoralities, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies.
These are the things that defile a man." Matthew 15:19-20
The heart is the polluted fountain from whence all the
muddy streams of evil conduct flow! The heart is the
great storehouse of iniquity! Men sometimes make
excuse for their evil deeds, by saying, that they have
good hearts at the bottom. This, however, is an awful
mistake, for every man's heart, not excepting the most
wicked, is really worse than his conduct!
Men think little of sin—but does God?
What turned Adam and Eve out of paradise? Sin!
What drowned the old world in the flood? Sin!
What brought disease, accidents, toil, care, war,
pestilence, and famine into the world? Sin!
What has converted the world into one great
burying-place of its inhabitants? Sin!
What lights the flames of hell? Sin!
What crucified the Lord of life and glory? Sin!
What then must sin be? Who but God, and what
but His infinite mind—can conceive of its evil nature?
Is he a brute? Is he a maniac?
"What will it benefit a man, if he gains the whole world
yet loses his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange
for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26)
Consider what the loss of the soul includes. It is the loss
of everything dear to man as an immortal creature. It is
the loss of Heaven, with all its honors, felicities, and
glories. It is the loss of everything that can contribute
to our eternal happiness.
The loss of the soul includes in it all that is contained in
that dreadful word, Hell. Hell is the eternal endurance
of the wrath of God. It is the coming down of the curse
of the Almighty upon the soul; or rather, it is the falling
of the soul into that curse, as into a lake which burns
with fire and brimstone.
All the tears that ever have been or ever will be shed on
the face of the earth; all the groans that ever have been
or ever will be uttered; all the anguish that ever has been
or ever will be endured by all the inhabitants of the world,
through all the ages of time—do not make up an equal
amount of misery to that which is included in the loss of
one human soul!
Consider that the eternal loss of the soul is not a rare,
but a very common occurrence. The loss of the soul is so
tremendous a catastrophe, that if it happened only once
in a year, or once in a century, so as to render it barely
possible that it should happen to you—it would be reckless
carelessness not to feel some solicitude about the matter!
How much more, then, when, alas! it is an every-day
calamity! So far from its being a rare thing for men to go
to hell—it is a much rarer thing for them to go to heaven!
Our Lord tells us, that the 'road to destruction' is thronged,
while the 'way to life' is traveled by few. Hell opens its
mouth wide and swallows up multitudes in perdition! How
alarming is the idea, and how probable the fact—that you
may be among this number! Some who read these pages
will very likely spend their eternity in hell.
Concern, then, deep concern about the salvation of your
soul, is the most reasonable thing in the world! Can that
man have a soul, or know that he has one, who is careless
about its eternal happiness? Is he a man—or is he a brute?
Is he a rational being—or is he a maniac? Ever walking
on the edge of the precipice that hangs over the bottomless
pit—and not concerned about salvation! Oh, fatal, awful,
Look into the bottomless pit—can you be too anxious to
escape its torments? Look into heaven—can you be too
anxious to obtain its glories? Look into eternity—can you
be too anxious to secure immortal life?
What a bauble!
"The unsearchable riches of Christ!" Ephes. 3:8
How poor and trifling are all those objects which
so much engross the time and attention of the
great bulk of mankind!
What a bauble is wealth, compared with
the unsearchable riches of Christ!
How insignificant is the honor which comes from
man, compared with the honor which comes from
And how contemptible the pleasures of sin,
which are but for a season—those short-lived
enjoyments for which men barter their souls
and eternal salvation!
"The world and everything in it that people desire
is passing away; but those who do the will of God
live forever." (1 John 2:17)
Continually dropping into eternal burnings!
What deep pity has been felt, and properly felt,
for the population of those towns in which the
ravages of the pestilence, or natural disaster,
have been unusually extensive!
But oh, Christians! think of the more awful ravages
of the plague of sin—which is sweeping crowds of
immortal souls from your own neighborhood into
everlasting misery! There are thousands of immortal
creatures perishing in sin at your very doors! Souls
are continually going down to the bottomless pit,
from the houses on your right hand and your left!
Men and women and their families are continually
dropping into eternal burnings, almost before
your eyes! And will you not go to their houses, and
entreat them to think of their soul's eternal welfare?
"As He saw the crowds, His heart was filled with
pity for them." (Matthew 9:36)
"And when He drew near and saw the city, He
wept over it." (Luke 19:41)
"Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for
them is that they may be saved." (Romans 10:1)
"I have become all things to all people, so that I
may by all means save some." (1 Corinth. 9:22)
The rage of the present day
If we would be revived in piety, we must resist by faith the
encroaching influence of the WORLD, and the engrossing
power of seen and temporal things. The address to the
church of Laodicea would lead one to suppose that it was
a place of trade—and that trade had produced riches—and
riches had produced . . .
love of ease,
indifference to divine things,
and spiritual poverty.
Most people in our country appear inordinately intent upon
gaining the world. To be rich, or at least to be comfortable,
to be reputable, to be stylish, to be fashionable, to live in
larger houses, and to have finer furniture and more earthly
things than others—seems to be the supreme concern of
most! They must, whether they can afford it or not, vie
with their neighbors in all their habits. This seems to be
the rage of the present day—and the church of God is,
in a measure, carried away by the delusion.
Many seem almost without knowing it, to be possessed by
a grasping at things beyond their reach, and an ambitious
aspiring at some undefinable point of worldly elevation. All
their time, all their attention, is absorbed—and all the vigor
of their spirits is exhausted—in this panting race after
the world's possessions and comforts!
It is evident that . . .
until this disposition be more subdued than it is,
until our moderation be more known to all men,
until we have lowered our estimate of the importance of wealth,
until we have ceased thus to mind earthly things,
until we have gained a greater victory over the world, or
are anxious to gain it—our piety cannot be revived. It is
like seed growing amidst thorns—and though a fertile
shower and a warmer sun should cause it to spring afresh
during a more than ordinarily genial season—yet it is still
among thorns, which will be sure to choke the grain!
I am afraid that we have not . . .
that simplicity of taste,
that moral courage to be indifferent to the world's opinions,
that sobriety of mind,
that comparative unconcernedness about finery and splendor
—which are necessary to prepare us for a high state of piety.
Let us, then, consider this matter. Let us attend to the
apostolic admonition, "Be not conformed to this world
—but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."
The spirit of the world, and the spirit of piety, cannot dwell
together in the same bosom. "You cannot serve God and
Mammon." "If any man loves the world, the love of the
Father is not in him." "Are you seeking great things for
yourself? Seek them not!" "Do not lay up for yourselves
treasures on earth," so much as treasures in heaven.
Remember that "one thing is needful!" "Take heed,
and beware of covetousness, for a man's life does not
consist in the abundance of the things that he has."
But if we will be rich, if we will be anxious about many
things, if we will be full of worldly ambition, and earthly
mindedness and covetousness—then we cannot experience
much revival in piety—and need not add hypocrisy to
lukewarmness! For very little better than a hypocrite,
is the man who prays for the effusions of the Holy Spirit
—and yet will not moderate his extreme concern after
We must also put away our worldly-mindedness, our
ambition, our excessive concern to be conformed, as far
as possible, to the showy, expensive, and luxurious habits
of the people of this world. We must restrain our taste for
voluptuous ease, extravagance and self-indulgence. We
must give up our concern to be accounted fashionable.
An inundation of worldliness
"Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world.
If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.
Because everything that belongs to the world—the lust of
the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one's lifestyle
—is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world
with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God's will
remains forever." (1 John 2:15-17)
What an unearthly spirit, what an impress of eternity, what
a temper of heaven should there be in us! Professing to
believe all this, to hope for all this, to love all this, to yield
up ourselves to all this—ought we not to be a people really,
practically differing from the people of the world—seen,
known and acknowledged to be different . . .
in our prevailing spirit,
in our pleasures,
in our tastes,
in our feelings and conduct in regard to wealth,
in the maxims which govern us?
Ought we not to appear to be the conquerors, and not the
captives, of the world? But is it so? Is not the very opposite
to all this, the present characteristic of many professors? Has
not an inundation of worldliness flowed in upon the church?
In the habits of some professing Christians, there is a too
prevailing taste for an expensive, showy style of living; an
undue ambition to be in vogue; an excessive sensitiveness
about fashion, refinement, needless show, extravagance,
luxury and appearance. This is seen in their feverish concern
to live in large houses, and possess elegant furniture.
Fashion is the goddess to whose shrine too many bow with
ardent devotion. Just look at the conduct of many professors
of religion. Are they not almost as completely swallowed up
in the eagerness to be rich, as the openly ungodly?
Christians must be upon their guard, lest they become too
eager for the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the
pride in one's lifestyle.
A consistent Christian!
The following duties are common to all Christians:
unreserved, cheerful, perpetual devotedness to Christ,
entire and constant dependence on the Holy Spirit,
a life of faith,
spirituality of mind,
separation from the world,
supreme regard to eternity,
universal and high toned morality,
eminent social excellence in all the relative duties of life,
all the gentle and passive virtues.
O, what a character is that of a consistent Christian!
Be holy in every aspect of your life
"As the One who called you is holy, you also are to be
holy in every aspect of your life; for it is written—
Be holy, because I am holy." (1 Peter 1:15-16)
Let him turn away from all the 'conventional piety' of the
day, and study with devout attention what the Scriptures
teach of the true nature of genuine piety.
Let him, in a season of closet devotion, examine his own
piety, and compare it with the Scriptural standard.
Let him, upon discovering his great and numerous
shortcomings, humble and abase himself before God,
in a spirit of true contrition.
Let him reject all excuses which his own deceitful heart,
and lukewarm, worldly-minded Christians will be ever
ready to suggest. He must be thoroughly convinced
that nothing can, or will, be admitted by God as an
apology for a low state of personal piety.
Let him intensely desire to be raised from his low state
into a more exalted state of spirituality, devoted zeal and
heavenly-mindedness. Let him set himself most vigorously
to the work of mortifying sin, and crucifying the flesh.
Let him redouble his diligence in attending the means of
grace, and especially let him give himself to reading the
Scriptures, meditation and prayer.
Let him add a season of humiliation and supplication,
to obtain a new and copious effusion of the Holy Spirit.
Without the influence of the Spirit, we are only building
a Babel to proclaim our folly, or a mausoleum to entomb
our fleshly endeavors.
Let him cultivate a new and more delicate sensibility of
conscience, in reference to all matters of offense, both
towards God and man.
Let him give himself to Christian vigilance, watching
always against sin.
Let him, in short, intelligently, resolutely, and unalterably,
make up his mind to enter upon a new course of personal
godliness; so new that his past attainments shall seem as
if they were nothing. There is such a thing as starting
afresh, as forgetting the things that are behind—and so
must it be with him who would be really in earnest. He
will wake up from his slumbering, dreamy profession,
saying, "I have slept too long and too much! I must now
throw off the spirit of sloth, and give all diligence to make
my calling and election sure."
Propensity for amusements and entertainments
A great hindrance to earnest piety, is the taste for
amusement, which characterizes the present day.
Every age has had its sources of pleasure, and its means
and methods of diversion—to relieve the mind from the
fatigue and oppression of the more serious occupations
of life. The human mind cannot be kept always upon the
stretch, nor can the heart sustain, without occasional relief,
its burden of care. I would not rob the believer of his few
brief holidays, nor condemn as irrational or unchristian,
his occasional oblivion of worldly vexations amidst the
beauties of nature, or the pleasures of the social circle.
There is a time to laugh—as well as to weep.
Still, it may be seriously questioned, whether among
professing Christians, the propensity for amusements
and entertainments has not been growing too fast, and
ripened into something like a passion for worldly pleasures.
The very craving after diversion and amusement, which there
is in some people, shows a morbid state of the soul. It might
be supposed, judging from the representations of true religion
which we find in the word of God, and from the general principles
contained in it—that a Christian has rendered unnecessary, all
such sources of enjoyment, which worldly people resort to.
To hear all this talk, then, about the necessity of entertainment;
and the impossibility of relieving the exhaustion of labor, and the
monotony of life, without parties, games, and diversions—sounds
very like a growing weariness of the yoke of Christ!
This growing desire after amusement marks a low state of piety.
The godly Christian is very well content to forego many things
in which the people of the world see no harm.