Choice excerpts from Thomas Sherman


If this is happiness—then give me misery!

"There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen, and lived in luxury every day." Luke 16:19

How apt are many at the sight of a rich worldling—to envy him for what he has. But, for my part, I rather pity him for what he lacks!
He has a talent—but it lacks improvement;
he has a lamp—but it lacks oil;
he has a soul—but it lacks grace;
he has the creature—but he lacks the Creator;
he has a mansion—but he lacks heaven.

In his life, he floats upon a torrent of vanity—which rolls along into an ocean of vexation!

And after death, it will be said of him, "Take this unprofitable servant, bind him hand and foot, and cast him into outer darkness! Consign his soul to the eternal lake of fire and brimstone!"

Where now is the object of your envy?

It is not his gold that can then rescue him,
nor his mansion that can then satisfy him,
nor his friends that can then comfort him.

Therefore, if he is worth the envying—then who can be worth the pitying?

If this is happiness—then give me misery!

Lord, rather make me poor with a holy heart—than rich with an evil heart of unbelief!

"Have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue—because I am in agony in this fire!" Luke 16:24

"Then they will go away to eternal punishment—but the righteous to eternal life!" Matthew 25:46

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Would Jesus do it?

"I have set you an example—that you should do as I have done for you." John 13:15

When anything presents itself, think: if He were alive and in my place—would Jesus do it? Or if I were about to die—would I still do it?

I must walk—as He has walked; and I must live—as I intend to die. If the thing in question is not Christ's will—it is my sin. And if I die in that sin—it will be my ruin.

I will therefore in every action so conduct myself—as if Christ were on the one hand—and death on the other!

"Leaving you an example, so that you should follow in His steps." 1 Peter 2:21

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The Christian's choice

"Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless!" Ecclesiastes 1:2

I am frail—and the world is fleeting; but
my soul is immortal—and God is eternal.

If I choose earthly pleasures—I shall reap nothing but vanity and dissatisfaction.

If I aim at mammon, the god of this world—then shall I resemble the rich fool, who, for earthly gain, sacrificed his immortal soul; and, in consequence, went to eternal perdition!

But if I choose God for my portion, then mercy and goodness shall follow me while I live—and glory and eternal pleasure shall crown me when I die!

I will therefore now forsake that which I shall soon lose,
so that I may embrace that which I shall always enjoy!

You reveal the path of life to me; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are eternal pleasures!" Psalm 16:11

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The one is drawn in pomp to hell—while the other swims in tears to heaven!

The wicked have their heaven here—and their hell hereafter.

But the righteous have their hell here—and their heaven hereafter.

Dives had his good things in this life—and Lazarus his evil things.
Now Lazarus is comforted—and Dives is tormented!

I will not, therefore, envy the prosperity of the wicked,
nor be cast down at the afflictions of the righteous;
seeing the one is drawn in pomp to hell—
while the other swims in tears to heaven!

"There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire!'

But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime—you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things; but now he is comforted here—and you are in agony!'" Luke 16:19-25

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O stand amazed at His free grace!

O precious saint! Three questions call for your answer:
   1. What were you?
   2. What are you?
   3. What shall you be?

1. What were you?
Dead in your transgressions and sins,
a rebel to your God,
a prodigal to your Father,
a slave to your lust,
the devil's captive,
on the highway to hell.

2. What are you?
Redeemed by Christ,
a royal child of God,
the spouse of Christ,
the temple of the Holy Spirit,
the heir of a priceless eternal inheritance!

3. What shall you be?
A glorious saint,
a companion of angels,
a triumphant victor,
a crowned king,
an attendant on the Lamb,
a participant in those soul-ravishing and ineffable excellencies that are in God! You shall behold the King of Glory face to face—and enjoy immediate communion with Jesus Christ! Nay more, you are made one with Him:
  clothed with His excellencies,
  enthroned with His glories,
  crowned with His eternity,
  and filled with His felicity!

"No eye has seen,
 no ear has heard, and
 no mind has imagined . . .
 what God has prepared for those who love Him!"
1 Corinthians 2:9

O stand amazed at His free grace—and render all the glory to God!

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O think upon your dignity!

Christian! You are a child of God's love, an heir of His glory, and reckoned among His favorites! O think upon your dignity, and consider:

Will an Emperor live like a beggar?

Is it befitting for those who are clothed in scarlet—to wallow in the mire?

Am I born of God—and shall I live like a beast?

Has God raised my soul to the purest excellencies—and shall I stain my dignity with the world's filth?

May I feed upon Christ—and shall I feed upon empty vanities?

Shall I who am to judge the world—be a drudge to the world?

Has Christ prepared for me a mansion in the heavens—and shall I be groveling in earthly mire?

Am I child of light—and shall I commit the works of darkness?

No! I am born to greater and higher things—than to be a slave to lust, and a drudge to the world!

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A whole Christ must be received—with the whole heart

"Yet to all who received Him . . . He gave the right to become children of God" John 1:12

A whole Christ must be received—with the whole heart.

Some in their understanding, assent to the way of salvation--yet do not consent to it with their will. In judgment they are for Christ--but in affection they are for other things. There is only a part of their soul that is for Christ. Others would have the benefits that are from Christ--but have no love for the person of Christ.

Some would have Christ only as a Savior--but not as a Lord. They desire Him only as a Priest to offer a sacrifice for their sins--but not as a Prophet to instruct them, nor as a King to rule over them. So that it is but part of Christ, that they would receive.

But both of these courses are equally dangerous; for, if we would be saved, we must cleave to Christ with all the faculties of the soul--with will, judgment, affection, etc. And so, again, we must cleave to the whole of Christ--Christ in His natures, person, offices, etc. If, therefore, you would rightly receive Christ, see that your whole soul receives a whole Christ!

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Affliction prepared for and improved

"It was good for me to be afflicted—so that I might learn your decrees." Psalm 119:71

As it is the duty of God's children to prepare for affliction before it comes; so it is also their duty to improve affliction when it does come.

If we do not prepare for affliction—we shall be surprised by it;
and, if we do not improve it—we are likely to increase it.

He who would prepare for affliction, must beforehand:
(1.) resign all to God,
(2.) strengthen his graces,
(3.) store up divine promises,
(4.) and search out secret sins.

And he who would improve affliction when it does come, must labor to see:
  sin more and more in its filthiness—so as to mortify it;
  his heart in its deceitfulness—so as to watch over it;
  the world in its emptiness—so as to be crucified to it;
  grace in its amiableness—so as to prize it;
  God in His holiness—so as to revere Him; and
  heaven in its desirableness—so as to long after it.

He who takes more care to avoid afflictions—than to be fitted for them; or is more solicitous to be delivered from them—than to be bettered by them; is likely to come soonest into them—and to live longest under them!

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

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Call Him 'Father' in the furnace

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

The afflictions of the wicked are punishments from God—as an angry Judge!
But the afflictions of the godly are chastisements from God—as a gracious Father!

The afflictions of the wicked, moreover, are preludes to their future misery!
But the corrections of the godly, are preparations for their future glory!

"See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction." Isaiah 48:10 Under all afflictive dispensations, therefore, hold fast upon God; call Him 'Father' in the furnace!

Keep up honorable thoughts of God as to His dealings;
and low thoughts of yourself as to your deservings.

"All the paths of the Lord (in reference to His people) are mercy and truth," Psalm 25:10. In our affliction, God in mercy is fulfilling some of His faithful promises for our good. He will not allow His children to go on in the way of sin, without seasonable rebukes to bring them again to Himself. If you would, therefore, discern the goodness of God in your affliction, consider wherein you stand in need of it.

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Come, then, empty of self—to a full Christ!

To be sensible of our unworthiness before God is good; but to look within ourselves for anything to render us worthy—is evil.

This is pride—when men would bring something to Christ, instead of being willing to receive all from Him!

And this is true humility—for a soul to be nothing in itself, and to come to Christ, according to that gracious invitation: "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost!" (Isaiah 55:1.)

Come, then, empty of self—to a full Christ!

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"Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death." 2 Corinthians 7:10

As sin is the greatest evil—so sorrow for sin is the greatest sorrow.

Godly sorrow in a saint is the greatest sorrow, being that which flows from faith, whereby we see sin to be the greatest evil—as exemplified in the crucified Savior.

True repentance is a continual work. So long as we have sin to repent of—so long we must be repenting of sin.

The believer's sorrow for sin becomes more evangelical than formerly; for whereas, before there was much of self-love, and fear of wrath and hell in his mourning; now, having a clear view of the love of God in pardoning him, and of the distinguishing grace and favor of God extended to him—he comes to mourn, loathe, and abase himself more deeply than before, and to melt with filial sorrow before the Lord—that he should act so unworthily and unthankfully towards such a gracious, tender, and loving Father. "Then, when I make atonement for you for all you have done—you will remember and be ashamed." Ezekiel 16:63

The believer's hatred of sin becomes more refined.
He hates sin on account of its defiling nature—as well as its damning nature!
He hates sin for the evil that is IN it—as well as for the evil that comes BY it!
He hates sin not only because it is ruinous—but because it is wicked!

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The Christian's Righteousness

"This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe." Romans 3:22

As all believers are justified by one and the same righteousness—so all believers have an equal interest in that righteousness. The robe of Christ's righteousness is like His garment, which was without seam. It is not divided, part to one saint and part to another—but the same to all the saints, and the whole to each saint! It is imputed to all alike.

That hand of faith which receives Christ's righteousness, though weak—does as really receive it—as that hand which is strong.

How great a consolation is it to a poor soul, laboring after high degrees of grace—and yet failing to attain them—to know that though many other saints may excel him in practical holiness—yet no other saint can excel him in imputed righteousness!

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That celestial bird!

"Whom do I have in heaven but You? And I desire nothing on earth but You! My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, my portion forever!" Psalm 73:25-26

"My meditation of Him shall be sweet!" Psalm 104:34

I may compare
meditation to those birds of which David speaks, which build their nests by the altar of God. Meditation is that celestial bird, that builds her nest around the throne of glory! Contemplation is that bee which flies into the sweetest gardens—and sucks honey from every flower of paradise!

By meditation I can . . .
  converse with God,
  solace myself on the bosom of my Beloved,
  bathe myself in rivers of pleasures,
  with delight tread the paths leading to my rest,
  and anticipate the eternal mansions of glory!

Why do you loiter therefore, O my soul, in this valley of tears? Arise, ascend the mount—and view the land of promise! Why do you loiter in this wilderness of trouble? Arise, O my soul, be on the wing, and take your flight to heaven! Let your thoughts be where your happiness is—and your heart where your thoughts are!

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What can satisfy you, O my immortal soul? Nothing but the immortal God, in whom all fullness dwells. He alone can fill the soul—who fills heaven and earth.

The insufficient creature—may fill the soul with vexation;
none but the all-sufficient God—can fill the soul with satisfaction.

O Lord, no creature of Yours will satisfy me, without Yourself! Therefore, O Lord, take  my heart—and give me Yourself!

"Whom do I have in heaven but You? And I desire nothing on earth but You! My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, my portion forever!" Psalm 73:25-26

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What do you desire, O my soul? With what imaginable excellency would you clothe yourself! What desirable object would you pitch upon?

Is it beauty? The righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. So shall they be forever with the Lord.

Is it riches? Wealth and riches are the portion of all God's children; every one in His family shall have a rich, a glorious, an incorruptible, and eternal inheritance among the saints!

Is it honor? What honor can compare to this—to be a friend and favorite of God, and a spouse of Christ—to have a crown of righteousness, of life, and of glory! Nay more, a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory set upon your head!

Is it pleasure? The just shall enter into their Master's joy, and there are rivers of pleasure at God's right hand for evermore!

In a word, what would you have, O my soul? A confluence of all the glorious things of eternity?

If heaven, and the holiness thereof—are what you seek;
then heaven and the excellencies thereof—you shall find.

Lord, make me holy—then I shall be happy!

"Whom do I have in heaven but You? And I desire nothing on earth but You! My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, my portion forever!" Psalm 73:25-26

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Look at the voluptuous man!

As there is a sorrowful mirth—so there is a joyful mourning.

Look at the voluptuous man: however laughter may appear in his face—yet sadness always rests in his heart! His carnal delights are not only vain—but vexing!

While his banquet lasts—the sensualist sings; but when God's reckoning comes—his heart sinks!

But now look at the true penitent: as his tears are the joy of angels, so they are the joy of his soul.
The more briny his tears—the sweeter his comforts!
The deeper his sighs—the fuller his joy!
The beams of consolation—always shine into his house of mourning.

I may truly say, to mourn for sin—is to weep for joy! These pure and pleasant streams of consolation (which are the worldling's wonder) that flow in those crystal rivers of eternal pleasure at God's right hand—come from a weeping spring.

Why then is the mouth of wickedness opened against the way of holiness—as if grace were the Calvary to entomb joys; and impiety the very womb to bring forth happiness!

But if experience may be heard, my soul has felt both—I find such dissatisfaction in worldly pleasures, and such unspeakable delight in the depth of godly sorrow—that I esteem one drop of such spiritual joy—better than an ocean of carnal mirth!

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Go, take your fill!

"In Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures!" Psalm 16:11

Christian, your happiness arises from that object on which your affections are placed.  Where your treasure is—there will your heart be also. If your affections are placed upon a poor empty creature; or, if like Judas, your heart is so depraved, that you desire only the money-bag; or, like Reuben, you are content, for worldly convenience, to continue on this side of Jordan—then remember you are bartering eternal life for a mere fantasy, and deceiving yourself into irretrievable and endless ruin!

If you will be content with . . .
a breath of honor,
a blaze of pleasure,
a snare of riches,
or a parcel of vanity,
then go, take your fill! But know assuredly—that the end of these things is death!

When you shall draw your last breath,
when honor will appear only as air,
when your deathless soul shall be forever ensnared
—then you will greatly lament your past conduct,
and wish you had never been born!

But now, O true Christian, if you are risen with Christ from the dead, and are looking at unseen and eternal realities—then for you is prepared . . .
  a golden crown,
  a celestial harp,
  a glorious mansion,
  and eternal hallelujahs!
You shall enjoy the presence of God and the Lamb forever and ever! You shall gaze on the incomparable brightness of God, and forever contemplate the wonders of redemption!

Lord, if this is my happiness—then let others enjoy the things of this world!
For my part, I am content to deny myself, and take up my cross and follow You!

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Do not 'pick the lock' to which He has allowed no key!

"The secret things belong to the LORD our God; but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law." Deuteronomy 29:29

Do not be anxious to understand the secrets of God. Do not 'pick the lock' to which He has allowed no key! He who will be scanning every cloud—may be smitten with a thunderbolt; and he who will labor to pry into God's secrets—may be overwhelmed with His judgments!

Adam would presumptuously increase his knowledge; therefore Adam dreadfully lost his goodness! The Bethshemites would pry into the ark of God; therefore the hand of God slew more than fifty thousand of them!

For my part, I will carefully improve myself by things revealed, and not presumptuously inquire into, or after, what He has concealed.

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A Christian's Heaven and Hell

It is heaven to be forever with the Lord—and hell to be eternally without Him.

You who can see no beauty in Christ, nor any glory in heaven—do you likewise see no flames in hell, and no hell in the loss of God? You, therefore, who cannot relish His presence—O tremble at His absence! And you who are not anxious to be with Him—O fear to be without Him!

For this is hell on earth: "Yet they say to God: Depart from us! We have no desire to know Your ways. Who is the Almighty, that we should serve Him?" Job 21:14-15

And this is hell when we leave the earth, "Then He will say to those on His left: Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels!" Matthew 25:41

Lord, you are my heaven, and my happiness! "You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand!" Psalm 16:11

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It is his god!

Who will part with his God? I will part with my life—rather than with my God!

No wonder, therefore, that the covetous man so idolizes his gold—it is his god! If you take that from him, he will cry with Micah, when he lost his idols, "You have taken away all my gods—and I have nothing left!" Judges 18:24. His heaven is gone, his happiness is gone, his all is gone—if his idols are gone!

I will not therefore wonder so much at the closeness of his hand—as at the vanity of his heart.

We count it singular wisdom to keep that God we have chosen. But it is absolute folly, to choose that god which we cannot keep! "Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle!" Proverbs 23:5

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Could the devil turn chemist

O my soul, you are . . .
  spiritual in your essence,
  immense in your desires, and
  immortal in your nature;
so that there must be proportion and perfection in that which you enjoy, with a perpetuity of both—or you will have no real satisfaction.

Now, were the world turned into a pleasant Eden, and that Eden refreshed with the living springs of immortality, and you seated on a throne of its choicest excellencies, crowned with the diadem of its highest felicities, swaying the scepter of your glory over all sublunary creatures—nay, could you give guidance to the sun, did your territories border upon the highest heavens, and the revenues of your crown flow in from the farthest parts of the earth; yet what proportion does a material world bear to an immortal soul?

Will a lion feed upon grass? Or can the soul be satisfied with dust? You may as soon feed your body with wood—as your soul with the world. If the world did bear proportion—yet it lacks perfection.

Could the devil turn chemist, and extract the very vital essence and quintessence of the purest and most desirable excellencies under heaven—yet they would be of such an imperfect nature, that there would be . . .
  more lees than liquor,
  more thorns than flowers,
  more smoke than fire,
  more poison than honey;
so that a man will be filled with a whirlwind of vexation, who wished to be satisfied with an object of imperfection! For it is impossible that such a scanty excellency, should in any way fill such an enlarged capacity.

Yet again, were there perfection, there is not perpetuity in this poor world. It will fly away like a bird from the perch—or melt away like ice before the sun—and so leave the immortal soul to sink forever! So that the world will not only make you restless—but leave you miserable!

I see then, that I shall never rest—until I rest in God! He who is the Almighty Father, the fountain of bliss, the ancient of days—is the only adequate object to suit my immortal soul. The rest of the creature is in its end; the end of the soul is its God. Therefore, Lord, seeing you have made me for Yourself—fill me fully with Yourself, or take me wholly to Yourself!

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The vanity of the world

Does Satan tempt you—either by pleasures, power or profits? O my soul, stand upon your guard, gird on your strength with such thoughts as these:

What can the world profit me—if its cares choke me?

How can pleasures comfort me—if their sting poisons me?

What advancement is this—to be triumphing in honor before the face of men here, and to be trembling for shame before the throne of God hereafter?

What are the delights of the world—compared to my peace of conscience, or the joy that is in the Holy Spirit?

What are the applauses of men—compared to the eternal crown of glory prepared by God?

What is the gain of the world—compared to the loss of my soul?

The vanity of the world is far beneath the excellency of my soul. Therefore, Satan, I am determined to resist you, for you desire my eternal loss!

"Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever!" 1 John 2:15-17

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Strangers and pilgrims

"These all confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." Hebrews 11:13

A black cloud causes the traveler to quicken his pace, and hasten towards his home; whereas a sunny day, tempts him to idle away his time; and a pleasant way tends to steal away his affections while he surveys the country.

However others may think of it—yet I consider it a mercy, that occasionally some clouds interpose my sun, and often my troubles eclipse my comforts. For I perceive that if I should find too much friendship in my inn, or in my pilgrimage—that I would soon forget my Father's house and my glorious eternal inheritance.

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

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Why do you grovel in the dust of this earth?

O my soul—why do you grovel in the dust of this earth? Everything here is too base for your excellency; and too short for your eternity! You are capable of enjoying God—and must exist when these poor creatures are reduced to nothing. The world therefore is too base a metal—to make a crown of glory for you! It is too corrupt a vessel—to carry you through eternity! O fill yourself with God—and so you shall raise your dignity to glorious perpetuity!

"Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away—but the man who does the will of God lives forever!" 1 John 2:15-17

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We sow the seeds of eternity!

"What is your life? You are a vapor that appears for a little while—and then vanishes!" James 4:14

Our life is only a moment of time; and yet in this moment of time—we sow the seeds of eternity! In this transitory hour, I am preparing myself either for eternal felicity—or eternal woe! These words that I now speak, these works that I now perform, though they here seem to be forgotten—yet they shall spring up to all eternity!

As the poet answered one, upbraiding him for being three days in composing three verses; whereas the novice could compile a hundred verses in one day; "O!" said the poet, "Your verses are only for three days, as it were—but mine must continue forever; according to my composition now—my name must either rise or fall forever!"

Just so may we answer this foolish world—which upbraids us for too much preciseness. O! have not we cause to be exact, when the works we are performing are not to be written in sand—but in the records of eternity? The lines that we now draw—must run parallel with eternity; and according to our conduct in this fleeting moment of time—our souls must either be glorified—or damned forever!

O Lord, help me so to improve the brevity of my life—by the integrity of my actions; that I may turn this moment of misery—into an eternity of unspeakable happiness!

"Then they will go away to eternal punishment—but the righteous to eternal life!" Matthew 25:46

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Two inseparable companions

Sin and sorrow are two inseparable companions; you can not indulge the one—and be without the other. If your moments are spent in carnal mirth—your eternity will be spent in ceaseless mourning. If you will not weep for sin, while you may have mercy to pardon you—you will lament hereafter, and have no eye to pity you! A bottle of tears may now quench the fire of sin—but a cloud of tears will never quench the flames of hell!

Therefore while the wicked continue laughing—I will continue to mourn. Through the Valley of Bochim (weeping)—I shall pass to the hill of Zion. But the paths of carnal mirth will bring me into a hell of weeping; for this is true, "He who swims in sin—shall sink in sorrow!" His laughter shall be turned into heaviness; but my tears shall be wiped away! I will therefore ever weep—that I may not weep forever!

"Blessed are those who mourn—for they will be comforted!" Matthew 5:4

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The worldling's ease—but the godly man's end

All men desire happiness for their end—but few will have holiness for their way.

All men desire the kingdom of heaven, and the glory thereof—but few seek the kingdom of heaven, and the righteousness thereof.

A nobleman being asked whether he would rather be a godly Christian—or worldly pleasure seeker, answered, "I had rather live like the latter—and die like the former!" So most men had rather live like Balaam—but "die the death of the righteous!" They wish to have the worldling's ease—but the godly man's end.

But this is certain, no man shall go to God in death—unless he draws near to God in life. If the kingdom of God is not first in us—we shall never enter into the kingdom of God. None shall enter heaven hereafter—but those who walk in heaven here on earth.

None shall enter the gates of felicity—but those who tread the narrow paths of piety!

Lord! make me holy—as well as happy, that I may desire to glorify you, as well as to be glorified by you.

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Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless!

"Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless!" Ecclesiastes 1:2

"Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man!" Ecclesiastes 12:13

Solomon tried many experiments to find happiness—but adopted only the last: the Fear of God. O my soul! you may tire yourself with different objects—but none can satisfy you but God—He alone  is the efficient and sufficient fullness! It was said of manna, that it was the delight of every palate—just so, Jesus Christ affords satisfaction to every soul. Taste therefore and see how sweet the Lord is!

Why do we wander after such a variety of objects? Because we cannot find sufficiency in one. Were one flower as pleasant as the collection, we would never trouble ourselves to gather many. Those golden rays of goodness which lie scattered imperfectly in the creature—are to be found combined in God alone. These poor earthly ingredients, cannot make up the highest excellency, the greatest goodness, and the fullest perfection—which are to be found collectively in God alone. Is there anything profitable, or desirable in the world? You may see it in your Savior, Christ!

Are you a captive of the devil? Christ is your Redeemer.
Are you wounded? Christ is your good Samaritan.
Are you broken-hearted? Go unto Christ, and He will bind it up.
Are you sick? Christ is your physician.
Are you persecuted? Christ is your refuge.
Are you hungry or thirsty? Christ is the living bread and the flowing stream.
Are you weary? Christ is your rest.
Are you in poverty? Christ is an inexhaustible treasury.
Are you in disgrace? Christ is your honor.
Are you dull and heavy? Christ is a quickening spirit.
Do you lack grace? Christ is the fountain.
Do you desire heaven? Christ is the way—He shall guide you by his counsel, and afterwards receive you to glory.

Let that man's name be written in the dust—who forsakes the flowing fountain, to quench his thirst at a broken cistern. Why should I tire myself to gather drops of honey from so many dying flowers—when I can satisfy myself with streams of sweetness in the living Christ!

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The heavenly traveler

"They were strangers and pilgrims on the earth!" Hebrews 11:13

What heir, traveling to take possession of a rich inheritance, allows either a green meadow or pleasant garden to detain him; or a black cloud or a dirty road to dishearten him?

O my soul, you are traveling to take possession of a glorious eternal inheritance!
Will you turn aside—to pluck every flower?
Will you linger—to listen to every melodious sound?
Will you leave your way—to drink of every gliding stream of carnal pleasure?

What is this, but . . .
  to view a meadow—and to lose a mansion!
  to sacrifice an eternal crown—for a dying flower!
  to lose immortal felicity—for a flying vanity!
  to forsake the way of Zion—to gather the grapes of Sodom!

Though, my soul, your way is in tears, and your days in sorrow, all clouded; yet here is enough to comfort you: that a loving Father, an unending portion, a sweet rest, and an everlasting refreshment—will make amends for all.

Therefore, this vain world does not allure me—for I will make no deviation, because my way lies to purer comforts, and surer glory! Vexing world, threaten not, I will not halt, because I am traveling to my heavenly Father's house!

"They were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them!" Hebrews 11:16

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A race to the sepulcher!

"What is your life? You are a vapor that appears for a little while—and then vanishes!" James 4:14

To speak the truth—our life is but a lingering death!

The poet being asked what he did; answered insightfully, "I am dying, little by little!"

We do but begin to live indeed—when we begin to live to God; our life before, is but a race to the sepulcher! But when we live to God—then we are on our way to eternity!

Our life contains a thousand springs,
And dies if one goes wrong!
Strange! that a harp of a thousand strings,
Should keep in tune so long!

"What is your life? You are a vapor that appears for a little while—and then vanishes!" James 4:14

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Beautiful abominations!

Godly people alone, shall enter heaven. They may be destitute of earthly honor and riches—but they are rich in faith, and heirs to the kingdom of heaven! They may be despised by people distinguished by worldly possessions—but in the eternal world, they will infinitely surpass them in celestial riches and honor. While Christians shall eternally sing the praises of God and the Lamb—the wicked will be forever weeping and gnashing their teeth! What a contrast is this!

The mighty, the noble, the rich, in general—are not qualified to enter the mansions of bliss; they are but beautiful abominations! Those covered with the most worldly grandeur—usually possess the most wicked hearts! The gates of heaven will be shut against them; for a special command has gone forth, that none but the holy shall reign with Jesus Christ!

"Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful—but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life!" Revelation 21:27

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A sure step to glory!

The Israelites were necessitated first to pass over the Jordan River, before they could enter Canaan. But no sooner had the feet of the priests, who bore the ark of the covenant, rested in the water—but the proud waves saw it and fled, and the swelling streams were driven back, and congealed in heaps to enable them to pass over with safety.

Every child of God resembles an Israelite in this respect; he is passing through the wilderness of this world, and traveling to the land of promise. DEATH is that Jordan which runs between this wilderness world—and our heavenly Canaan. Death is that swelling stream that overflows the banks of every mortal creature. It is that last river which we all must pass over.

But this is the happiness which believers have—that Jesus Christ, our High Priest, who bears the everlasting covenant upon His shoulders, has already dipped His feet in the streams of this water, so that the streams of bitterness are diverted, the sting of death plucked out, the waters of the salt sea dried up; yes, the power of the curse cut off, so that death is but a sure step to glory!

Why then am I afraid to die? The channel is dry! I see the footsteps of my Savior at the bottom—and heaven and happiness on the other side! The waters cannot overwhelm my soul!
They may go over my sins,
they may go over my foes,
they may go over my miseries,
they may go over my troubles,
but my soul shall go over to its eternal rest!

Lord, therefore fit and sanctify me for death—and then take down my earthly tent. I cannot be with You too soon!

"I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far!" Philippians 1:23

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A letter from Christ

"You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts." 2 Corinthians 3:2-3

The commendation of a Christian is to have truth written in his heart—and read in his life!

As it should be our concern to get our judgments informed—so also our lives reformed; our heads filled with Gospel light—and our lives with Gospel holiness.

Paul says of the Romans: "But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed that form of doctrine which was delivered unto you." (Romans 6:17.) To have doctrine not only delivered to us—but to be delivered into that doctrine, so as to be framed and molded into the fashion of it—is what we should labor after.

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Why should you sit down weeping with Hagar?

"Christ lives in me!" Galatians 2:20

What Paul said of himself—that may every believer, the weak as well as the strong, say of himself. The same Christ who lived in Paul—lives in me! A right improvement of this truth, by faith, would conduce greatly to the edification of a saint.

You complain . . .
 that your corruptions are strong,
 that your temptations are many,
 that your grace is weak, and
 that your spiritual comforts are low.

Why should you sit down weeping with Hagar, because there is no water in your bottle; while there is enough in the fountain—and that fountain near you, yes, in you? For the Spirit of Christ in the soul is indeed "a well of water springing up into everlasting life!" (John 4:14)

The same Christ from whom . . .
  the strongest saint has received all his strength,
  the most fruitful saint all his fruitfulness,
  the most active saint all his liveliness, and
  the most successful saint all his victories—
that same Christ lives in you! Let your soul, then, live more on Christ—so that you may the more experience Christ's living in your soul.

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Duties which promote each other

The great duty of a saint is:
  to trust in God's Word,
  to keep in His way, and
  to submit to His will.

These are duties which promote each other;
for he who rightly believes what God says,
will carefully observe what He commands,
and quietly rest in what He does.

Though there may be darkness in God's providences,
he will see light in God's promises,
and feel comfort in his duty.

On the contrary, he who lacks faith in the promises,
will soon fail in obedience to the precepts,
and be apt to quarrel with God's providences.

"The foolishness of man perverts his way, and his heart frets against the Lord," (Proverbs 19:3.) He who through weakness questions the promise, through foolishness will be prone to pervert his way; and, perverting his way, will be apt to murmur against God's dispensations. Trust, therefore, in the Lord and do good, if you would find all His dealings to be for good.

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Insatiable desires after temporal things—make a man poor in spiritual things.

A true Christian is only rich in temporal things—when he is content with that which he has. That man enjoys but little of pious pleasure—who does not hunger and thirst after righteousness.

Worldly desires always leave us empty; either we do not obtain that which we covet—or we are dissatisfied with that which we obtain! But he who thirsts after heavenly things, is always filled—and the more he receives, the more he desires. The richest mercies that God can give—may be obtained by sincere and earnest desires, attended by fervent and importunate prayer. What unspeakable advantages might we obtain by our desires—if we did but direct them towards heaven! How many excellent mercies are stored up for us—and only require our desires to go forth as a ship, to bring them into the harbor of our souls! Why then do I allow my desires to flow in a wrong direction? I make myself poor—by thirsting after the world and the creature! Whereas I might be rich, if I counted all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord!

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Alas! the pleasures of it are soon gone!

Lord, what a miserable creature is a wicked man! His very manna turns to worms; his very mercies make him miserable!

Look at him in his wealthy condition, and you will find that he has not the privilege of enjoying it, only the trouble of keeping it—which tends not to his comfort. Or, if he enjoys it—he does so miserably abuse it, that he makes that which is but temporal in its use, to be for his eternal punishment! Alas! the pleasures of it are soon gonebut the pain of it will continue with him forever!

Lord, help me to improve your mercies—that your mercies may not aggravate my miseries.

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Red lines of damnation!

Would you know whether your name is written in the book of life? Then read what you have written in the book of conscience. You need not ask, "Who shall ascend up into heaven, to search the records of eternity?" Only descend into your own heart, and there read what you are—and what you shall be! Though God's book of remembrance is closed and kept above with God—yet your book of conscience is open, and kept below in your bosom; and what you write there—you shall be sure to read hereafter!

If I write nothing in this book but the black lines of sin—I shall find nothing in God's book but the red lines of damnation! But if I write God's Word in my book of conscience—I may be sure God has written my name in His book of life. At the great day of judgment, when the books shall be opened, there I shall read the sweetest—or the sharpest lines. I will therefore so write here—that I may not be ashamed to read hereafter!

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Take life easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!

"The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.'
Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself: You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!'
But God said to him:
You fool! You will die this very night! Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?" Luke 12:16-20

Nothing is so certain as my death!

And nothing so uncertain as the time of my death!

I may be too old to live—but I can never be too young to die! I will therefore live every hour—as if I were to die the next hour.

"Prepare to meet your God!" Amos 4:12

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As the tree falls—so it lies

"It is appointed unto men once to die—and after that to face judgment!" Hebrews 9:27

As the tree falls—so it lies

And where death strikes us down—there God awards either mercy—or misery.

I may compare the state of man at death to the Israelites and Egyptians at the Red Sea: if I go into the sea as an Israelite, my landing shall be in glory, and my rejoicing in triumph; for I shall see all my enemies dead upon the shore!

But if I go in as an Egyptian—if I am on this side of the cloud, on this side of the covenant, and yet go in hardened among the troops of Pharaoh—then justice shall return in its full strength, and inundation of judgment shall overflow my soul forever!

Or, I may compare it to the sleep of the ten bridesmaids, of whom it is said, "They slumbered and slept." Now, if I lie down with the wise bridesmaids, I shall go in with the bridegroom to the marriage feast.

But if I sleep with the foolish bridesmaids, without oil in my lamp, without grace in my soul—then I have closed the gates of mercy upon my soul forever!

Therefore I see that this life is the time in which I must do my work—and then I must be judged according to my works—on that solemn day. I am not certain how soon I shall fall into this sleep; therefore, Lord, grant that I may live every day in Your sight—as I desire to appear the last day in Your presence!

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What we Christians are

"We are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ!" Romans 8:16-17

The world scarcely knows what we Christians are—for did they realize that we are . . .
  God's jewels,
  the favorites of heaven,
  the excellency of the creation,
  and the beloved bride of Christ
—they would not mock and persecute us as they do!

Or if we did only consider . . .
  that we shall be glorified together with Christ;
  that His happiness shall be our happiness;
  that His joy shall be our joy,
  and His glories shall be our glories—truly, we would not be so much dejected as we are!

"Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when He appears—we will be like Him, because we will see Him as He is!" 1 John 3:2

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Turn the flame of envy—into a tear of pity!

"But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills. Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. From their callous hearts comes iniquity; the evil conceits of their minds know no limits!" Psalm 73:2-7

Why should I murmur at the prosperity of the wicked? Indeed when I viewed their wealth, and forgot their curse—my feet had almost slipped. But by entering the sanctuary of God, I perceived that all the blossoms of their glory must wither under the blastings of God's wrath! And all their external felicity only hastens the judgments of the Lord, and fills up the measure of their misery!

For what are their pleasures—but like the deceitful greeting of Joab to Amasa? (See 2 Samuel 20:9-10) What are their riches—but like Jael's present in a majestic bowl? (See Judges 5:24-27) It only makes way for the fatal nail—for their dreadful account at the day of judgment. Their prosperity slays them!

Now, who reckons that ox happy, which has a goodly pasture to feed himself—but only for the slaughter? Who envies that malefactor who has a sunny day—to ride to execution on? And why is it that the workers of iniquity flourish? Is it not that they may be destroyed forever? And the larger their pasture—the sooner they are fitted for their destruction!

Therefore, for my part, when I see a wicked man prosper in his wickedness, I will turn the flame of envy—into a tear of pity!

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An error is damnation!

That way which the tree leans, while it grows—that way it falls, when it is cut down; and there it lies, whether it be toward the North or South.

Just so, our life is an indication of what our death will be. As men live, so, in general, do they die; whether they lived for heaven or hell. Being once dead, there is no second chance. For as in war—an error is death; so in death—an error is damnation! Therefore live as you intend to die—and you will die as you have lived. O Lord! let my soul be always fixed on you, that I may fall into your arms, and forever rest in your gracious bosom!

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

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Down into the Dead Sea of Hell

Jordan, that famous river, no doubt runs through many a pleasant meadow, by many a shady grove and flowery bank; and yet at last empties itself into the Dead Sea.

So it is with a wicked man! Here he walks through meadows of worldly pleasures, and rests under the shades of earthly comforts, and sports and wallows among the flowers of worldly delights—but at last runs himself down into the Dead Sea of Hell. And not only so—but . . .
  his earthly delights will fade,
  his beauty shall be turned into horror,
  his honor shall be turned into shame,
  his lusts shall be turned into devils, and
  his pleasures shall be turned into bitterness!

Lord, let me be a pure stream, that may terminate in heaven! I care not what difficult channels I pass through here on earth—if in heaven I may exchange my weakness and corruption, for perfection and glory!

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Let us labor for a glorious eternity!

What is a day—compared to an age; and what is an age—compared to eternity? We know that the shortest day is part of the longest time—but the longest time is no part of eternity; for where time ends, there eternity begins!

Why then are we so foolish as to heap up baubles for mortality; to lay up riches, which, at longest, are but for many hours; and yet never provide anything for eternity? And why are we so careful to humor and pamper a moldering piece of clay—a frail and mortal body, which cannot continue beyond a certain age, perhaps not more than a day—and yet neglect our precious souls, which must endure forever? Do we all aim at a prosperous life? Why then—let us labor for a glorious eternity!

"But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also!" Matthew 6:20-21

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What an idolatrous sin!

"What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God." 2 Corinthians 6:16

Every real Christian is a spiritual temple of the living God. Worldly cares and desires, are the 'buyers' and 'sellers' that pollute this temple. Now, how inconsistent it is to make the house of God—into a den of thieves! What an idolatrous sin—to choose a lust instead of Christ!

Again, every member is a vessel of that temple. O what a debasing thing, to take these golden vessels, like that drunken king, and devote them to a sordid use! To fill the heart with lust—which should be filled with God! Those ears, which should be always ready to hear what God shall speak—to open them to foolish jests! That tongue which should be proclaiming the praises of God, and which must sing triumphant hallelujahs forever—to defile it now with vain talk, or lying words! What a sacrilegious thing is this, to drive out God—and to devote those sacred vessels to sin and lust! O Lord, what is Yours, rule and use as Your own!