Monday, April 17, 2017

Lord, thy word is enough; thy bond is as good as ready payment

     O my soul, there is but a short life between thee and glory, where holy angels
and glorified saints shall be my associates, and love and praise my only employment. 
Methinks I hear already how the morning stars sing together, and all the sons of God
shout for joy.  O that I could come in!  But it was said unto me, that I should rest yet for
a little season, and I shall stand in my lot at the end of the days.  It is well; Lord, thy word
is enough; thy bond is as good as ready payment.  The Holy Ghost tells me, that life and
glory abide me; that what day I loose from the body, the same day I shall be landed in
paradise.  Amen.  It is as I would have it.
     But this is not all.  When my body hath slept a short nap in the dust, Christ will call to it,
Come up hither.  Ah, true yoke-fellow, it will be a hard parting, but a welcome meeting.  I
could not leave thee, but to live with Christ.  But he will raise thee a glorious temple; and
when he shall appear, will bring me with himself in glory; and then I shall re-enter thee as a
royal mansion, wherein I shall abide with the Lord for ever.  For as we have served our
Redeemer together, so we must be glorified together with him.  And when the Lord hath
married us together again, then will he marry us both unto himself.  For I know that my
Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the last day upon the earth. 
                                                                       Joseph Alleine

Sunday, April 16, 2017




          By John Bunyan

    Friend, I salute thee in the Lord,
    And wish thou may'st abound
    In faith, and have a good regard
    To keep on holy ground.

    Thou dost encourage me to hold
    My head above the flood;
    Thy counsel better is than gold:
    In need thereof I stood.

    Good counsel's good at any time;
    The wise will it receive,
    Tho' fools count he commits a crime
    Who doth good counsel give.

    I take it kindly at thy hand
    Thou didst unto me write;
    My feet upon Mount Zion stand,
    In that take thou delight.

    I am indeed in prison now
    In body, but my mind
    Is free to study Christ, and how
    Unto me he is kind.

    For tho' men keep my outward man
    Within their locks and bars,
    Yet by the faith of Christ I can
    Mount higher than the stars.

    Their fetters cannot spirits tame,
    Nor tie up God from me;
    My faith and hope they cannot lame;
    Above them I shall be.

    I here am very much refreshed
    To think, when I was out
    I preached life and peace and rest
    To sinners round about.

    My business then was souls to save
    By preaching grace and faith,
    Of which the comfort now I have,
    And have it shall till death.

    They were no fables that I taught,
    Devis'd by cunning men,
    But God's own word, by which were caught
    Some sinners now and then.

    Whose souls by it were made to see
    The evil of their sin;
    And need of Christ to make them free
    From death, which they were in.

    And now those very hearts that then
    Were foes unto the Lord,
    Embrace his Christ and truth, like men
    Conquer'd by his word.

    I hear them sigh, and groan, and cry
    For grace to God above;
    They loathe their sin, and to it die;
    'Tis holiness they love.

    This was the work I was about
    When hands on me were laid;
    'Twas this from which they pluck'd me out;
    And vilely to me said:

    You heretic, deceiver, come,
    To prison you must go;
    You preach abroad, and keep not  home,
    You are the Church's foe.

    But having peace within my soul,
    And truth on every side,
    I could with comfort them control,
    And at their charge deride.

    Wherefore to prison they me sent,
    Where to this day I lie;
    And can with very much content
    For my profession die.

    The prison very sweet to me
    Hath been since I came here,
    And so would also hanging be,
    If God would there appear.

    Here dwells good conscience, also peace;
    Here be my garments white;
    Here, though in bonds, I have release
    From guilt, which else would bite.

    When they do talk of banishment,
    Of death, or such like things,
    Then to me God send heart's content,
    That like a fountain springs.

    Alas I they little think what peace
    They help me to, for by
    Their rage my comforts do increase;
    Bless God, therefore, do I.

    If they do give me gall to drink,
    Then God doth sweet'ning cast—
    So much thereto that they can't think
    How bravely it doth taste.

    For as the devil sets before
    Me heaviness and grief,
    So God sets Christ and grace much more,
    Whereby I take relief.

    Though they say then that we are fools
    Because we here do lie,
    I answer, Jails are Christ his schools,
    In them we learn to die.

    'Tis not the baseness of this state
    Doth hide us from God's face;
    He frequently, both soon and late,
    Doth visit us with grace.

    Here come the angels, here come saints,
    Here comes the Spirit of God,
    To comfort us in our restraints
    Under the wicked's rod.

    God sometimes visits prisoners more
    Than lordly palaces;
    He often knocketh at the door
    When he their houses miss.

    The truth and life of heav'nly things
    Lift up our hearts on high,
    And carry us on eagles' wings
    Beyond carnality.

    It takes away those clogs that hold
    The hearts of other men,
    And makes us lively, strong and bold
    Thus to oppose their sin.

    By which means God doth frustrate
    That which our foes expect—
    Namely, our turning the apostate,
    Like those of Judas' sect.

    Here comes to our remembrance
    The troubles good men had
    Of old, and for our furtherance
    Their joys when they were sad.

    To them that here for evil lie
    The place is comfortless,
    But not to me, because that I
    Lie here for righteousness.

    The truth and I were both here cast
    Together, and we do
    Lie arm in arm, and so hold fast
    Each other; this is true.

    This jail to us is as a hill,
    From whence we plainly see
    Beyond this world, and take our fill
    Of things that lasting be.

    From hence we see the emptiness
    Of all the world contains;
    And here we feel the blessedness
    That for us yet remains.

    Here we can see how all men play
    Their parts, as on a stage—
    How good men suffer for God's way,
    And bad men at them rage.

    Here we can see who holds that ground
    Which they in Scripture find:
    Here we see also who turns round
    Like weathercocks with wind.

    We can also from hence behold
    How seeming friends appear
    But hypocrites, as we are told
    In Scripture everywhere.

    When we did walk at liberty
    We were deceiv'd by them,
    Who we from hence do clearly see
    Are vile, deceitful men.

    These politicians that profess
    For base and worldly ends,
    Do not appear to us at best
    But Machiavellian friends.

    Though men do say we do disgrace
    Ourselves by lying here
    Among the rogues, yet Christ our face
    From all such filth will clear.

    We know there's neither flout nor frown
    That we now for him bear,
    But will add to our heavenly crown
    When he comes in the air—

    When he our righteousness forth brings
    Bright shining as the day,
    And wipeth off those sland'rous things
    That scorners on us lay.

    We sell our earthly happiness
    For heavenly house and home;
    We leave this world because 'tis less
    And worse than that to come.

    We change our drossy dust for gold,
    From death to life we fly;
    We let go shadows, and take hold
    Of immortality.

    We trade for that which lasting is,
    And nothing for it give
    But that which is already His
    By whom we breathe and live.

    That liberty we lose for him
    Sickness might take away;
    Our goods might also for our sin
    By fire or thieves decay.

    Again we see what glory 'tis
    Freely to bear our cross
    For Him who for us took up his
    When he our servant was.

    I am most free that men should see
    A hole cut through my ear;
    If others will ascertain me,
    They'll hang a jewel there.

    Just thus it is:  we suffer here
    For Him a little pain,
    Who when he doth again appear
    Will with him let us reign.

    If all must either die for sin
    A death that's natural,
    Or else for Christ, 'tis best with him
    Who for the last doth fall.

    Who now dare say we throw away
    Our goods or liberty,
    When God's most holy word doth say
    We gain thus much thereby?

    Hark yet again, you carnal men,
    And hear what I shall say
    In your own dialect, and then
    I'll you no longer stay.

    You talk sometimes of valour much,
    And count such bravely mann'd
    That will not stick to have a touch
    With any in the land.

    If these be worth commending, then,
    That vainly show their might,
    How dare you blame those holy men
    That in God's quarrel fight?

    Though you dare crack a coward's
    Or quarrel for a pin,
    You dare not on the wicked frown,
    Nor speak against their sin.

    For all your spirits are so stout
    For matters that are vain,
    Yet sin besets you round about;
    You are in Satan's chain.

    You dare not for the truth engage,
    You quake at 'prisonment;
    You dare not make the tree your stage
    For Christ, that King potent.

    Know, then, true valour there doth dwell
    Where men engage for God
    Against the Devil, death and hell,
    And bear the wicked's rod.

    These be the men that God doth count
    Of high and noble mind;
    These be the men that do surmount
    What you in nature find.

    First, they do conquer their own hearts,
    All worldly fears, and then
    Also the devil's fiery darts,
    And persecuting men.

    They conquer when they thus do fall,
    They kill when they do die;
    They overcome then most of all,
    And get the victory.

    The worldling understands not this,
    'Tis clear out of his sight;
    Therefore he counts this world his bliss,
    And doth our glory slight.

    The lubber knows not how to spring
    The nimble footman's stage;
    Neither can owls or jackdaws sing
    When they are in the cage.

    The swine doth not the pearls regard,
    But them doth slight for grains,
    Though the wise merchant labours hard
    For them with greatest pains.

    Consider, man, what I have said,
    And judge of things aright;
    When all men's cards are fully play'd,
    Whose will abide the light?

    Will those who have us hither cast?
    Or they who do us scorn?
    Or those who do our houses waste?
    Or us who this have borne?

    And let us count those things the best
    That best will prove at last;
    And count such men the only blest
    That do such things hold fast.

    And what tho' they us dear do cost,
    Yet let us buy them so;
    We shall not count our labour lost
    When we see others' woe.

    And let saints be no longer blam'd
    By carnal policy,
    But let the wicked be asham'd
    Of their malignity.    

Saturday, April 15, 2017

from Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners by John Bunyan


Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners
by John Bunyan

    Having made profession of the glorious Gospel of
Christ a long time, and preached the same about five years,
I was apprehended at a meeting of good people in the country;
among whom had they let me alone I should have preached that
day; but they took me away from amongst them, and had me
before a justice; who, after I had offered security for my appearing
the next sessions, yet committed me, because my sureties would not
consent to be bound, that I should preach no more to the
     At the sessions after, I was indicted for an upholder
and maintainer of unlawful assemblies and conventicles, and for not
conforming to the national worship of the Church of England; and
after some conference there with the justices, they taking my plain
dealing with them for a confession, as they termed it, of the indictment,
did sentence me to a perpetual banishment, because I refused to conform. 
So being again delivered up to the jailer's hands, I was had home to
prison, and there have lain now complete twelve years, waiting to see
what God would suffer these men to do with me.
     In which condition I have continued with much content, through grace;
but have met with many turnings and goings upon my heart, both from the
Lord, Satan, and my own corruptions:  by all which, glory be to Jesus
Christ, I have also received, among many things, much conviction, instruction,
and understanding; of which at large I shall not here discourse; only give you
a hint or two, a word that may stir up the godly to bless God and to pray
for me; and also to take encouragement, should the case be their own, not
to fear what man can do unto them.
     I never had in all my life so great an inlet into the word of God as now. 
Those Scriptures that I saw nothing in before, are made in this place and
state to shine upon me.  Jesus Christ also was never more real and apparent
than now:  here I have seen and felt him indeed.  Oh that word!  "We have
not preached unto you cunningly devised fables;" and that, "God raised
Christ from the dead, and gave him glory, that your faith and hope might
be in God," were blessed words unto me, in this my imprisoned condition. 
These three or four Scriptures also have been great refreshments in this
condition to me, (John 14:1-4; John 16:33; Col 3:3-4; Heb 12:22-24). 
So that sometimes, when I have been in the savour of them, I have been
able "to laugh at destruction, and to fear neither the horse nor his rider." 
I have had sweet sights of the forgiveness of my sins in this place, and
of my being with Jesus in another world.  Oh the Mount Sion,
the heavenly Jerusalem, the innumerable company of angels and
God the Judge of all, and the spirits of just men made perfect,
and Jesus, have been sweet unto me in this place!  I have seen that
here, which I am persuaded I shall never, while in this world, be
able to express.  I have seen a truth in this Scripture, "Whom
having not seen ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not,
yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory."
     I never knew what it was for God to stand by me at all turns,
and at every offer of Satan to afflict me, etc., as I have found him
since I came in hither; for look how fears have presented themselves,
so have supports and encouragements; yea, when I have started,
even as it were at nothing else but my shadow, yet God, as
being very tender of me, hath not suffered me to be molested,
but would, with one Scripture or another, strengthen me against
all, insomuch that I have often said, "Were it lawful, I could pray
for greater trouble, for the greater comfort's sake."
     Before I came to prison, I saw what was a-coming; and had
especially two considerations warm upon my heart.  The first was,
how to be able to encounter death, should that be here my portion. 
For the first of these, that Scripture was great information to me,
namely, to pray to God "to be strengthened with all might, according
to his glorious power, unto all patience and long suffering with joyfulness." 
I could seldom go to prayer before I was imprisoned, but for not so
little as a year together, this sentence, or sweet petition, would, as it
were, thrust itself into my mind, and persuade me, that if ever I would
go through long suffering I must have patience, especially if I would
endure it joyfully.
     As to the second consideration, that saying was of great use to me,
"But we had the sentence of death in ourselves that we might not trust in
ourselves, but in God that raiseth the dead."  By this Scripture I was
made to see, that if ever I would suffer rightly, I must first pass a sentence
of death upon every thing that can properly be called a thing of this life;
even to reckon myself, my wife, my children, my health, my enjoyments,
and all as dead to me, and myself as dead to them.
     The second was, to live upon God that is invisible; as Paul said in
another place, the way not to faint is, "to look not at the things which
are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are
seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."  And thus
I reasoned with myself:  If I provide only for a prison then the whip comes
unawares; and so doth also the pillory.  Again, if I only provide for these,
then I am not fit for banishment.  Further, if I conclude that banishment is
the worst, then if death come I am surprised.  So that I see the best way
to go through sufferings, is to trust in God through Christ, as touching the
world to come; and as touching this world, to "count the grave my house,
to make my bed in darkness, and to say to corruption, Thou art my father;
and to the worm, Thou art my mother and sister;" that is, to familiarize
these things to me.
     But notwithstanding these helps, I found myself a man encompassed
with infirmities.  The parting with my wife and poor children hath often
been to me, in this place, as the pulling the flesh from my bones;
and that not only because I am somewhat too fond of these mercies,
but also because I should have often brought to my mind the many
hardships, miseries, and wants that my poor family was likewise to
meet with; especially my poor blind child, who lay nearer my heart
than all I had beside.  Oh! the thoughts of the hardships I thought
my blind one might go under, would break my heart to pieces.
     Poor child, thought I, what sorrow art thou like to have for thy
portion in this world!  Thou must be beaten, must beg, suffer hunger,
cold, nakedness, and a thousand calamities, though I cannot now
endure the wind should blow upon thee.  But yet recalling myself,
thought I, I must venture you all with God, though it goeth to the
quick to leave you.  Oh!  I saw in this condition I was as a man who
was pulling down his house upon the head of his wife and children;
yet thought I, I must do it, I must do it.  And now I thought on those
two milch kine that were to carry the ark of God into another country,
to leave their calves behind them.
     But that which helped me in this temptation was divers considerations,
of which three in special here I will name.  The "first" was, the consideration
of those two Scriptures, "Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them
alive, and let thy widows trust in me:"  and again, "The Lord said, Verily,
it shall go well with thy remnant:  verily, I will cause the enemy to entreat
thee well in the time of evil," etc.
     I had also this consideration, that if I should now venture all for God,
I engaged God to take care of my concernments; but if I forsook him and
his ways, for fear of any trouble that should come to me or mine, then I
should not only falsify my profession, but should count also that my
concernments were not so sure, if left at God's feet, whilst I stood to
and for his name, as they would be, if they were under my own care,
though with the denial of the way of God.  This was a smarting consideration,
and as spurs unto my flesh.  That Scripture also greatly helped it to fasten
the more upon me, where Christ prays against Judas, that God would
disappoint him in his selfish thoughts, which moved him to sell his master. 
Pray read it soberly. (Ps. 109:6-8, etc.)
     I had also another consideration, and that was, the dread of the torments
of hell, which I was sure they must partake of, that for fear of the cross, do
shrink from their profession of Christ, his words and laws, before the sons of
men.  I thought also of the glory he had prepared for those that in faith, and
love and patience, stood to his ways before them.  These things, I say, have
helped me, when the thoughts of the misery that both myself and mine, might
for the sake of my profession, be exposed to, hath lain pinching on my mind.    
     When I have indeed conceited, that I might be banished for my profession,
then I have thought of that Scripture, "They were stoned, they were sawn asunder,
were tempted, were slain with the sword:  they wandered about in sheepskins,
and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented; of whom the world was
not worthy;'' for all they thought they were too bad to dwell and abide amongst
them.  I have also thought of that saying, "The Holy Ghost witnesseth in every
city, that bonds and afflictions abide me."  I have verily thought, that my soul
and it have sometimes reasoned about the sore and sad estate of a banished
and exiled condition, how they are exposed to hunger, to cold, to perils, to
nakedness, to enemies, and a thousand calamities; and at last, it may be to
die in a ditch, like a poor, forlorn, and desolate sheep.  But I thanked God,
hitherto I have not been moved by these most delicate reasonings, but rather
by them more approved my heart to God.    
     I will tell you a pretty business:  I was once above all the rest, in a
very sad and low condition for many weeks, at which time also I being
but a young prisoner, and not acquainted with the laws, had this lain much
upon my spirit, "That my imprisonment might end at the gallows for aught
that I could tell."  Now therefore Satan laid hard at me, to beat me out of
heart, by suggesting thus unto me:  "But how if, when you come indeed to
die, you should be in this condition; that is, as not to savour the things of
God, nor to have any evidence upon your soul for a better state hereafter?"
for indeed at that time all the things of God were hid from my soul.
     Wherefore, when I at first began to think of this, it was a great trouble to
me; for I thought with myself, that in the condition I now was, I  was
not fit to die; neither indeed did think I could, if I should be called to it;
besides, I thought with myself, if I should make a scrambling shift to
clamber up the ladder, yet I should, either with quaking, or other symptoms
of fainting, give occasion to the enemy to reproach the way of God and
his people, for their timorousness.  This therefore lay with great trouble
upon me; for methought I was ashamed to die with a pale face, and tottering
knees in such a case as this.
     Wherefore I prayed to God, that he would comfort me, and give strength
to do and suffer what he should call me to.  Yet no comfort appeared, but all
continued hid.  I was also at this time so really possessed with the thought of
death; that oft I was as if on a ladder with a rope about my neck.  Only this
was some encouragement to me, I thought I might now have an opportunity
to speak my last words unto a multitude which I thought would come to see
me die:  and, thought I, if it must be so, if God will but convert one soul by
my last words, I shall not count my life thrown away, nor lost.
     But yet all the things of God were kept out of my sight, and still the tempter
followed me with, "But whither must you go when you die?  What will become
of you?  Where will you be found in another world?  What evidence have you
for heaven and glory, and an inheritance among them that are sanctified?" 
Thus was I tossed for many weeks and knew not what to do:  at last this
consideration fell with weight upon me, "That it was for the word and way
of God that I was in this condition; wherefore I was engaged not to flinch
an hair's breadth from it."
     I thought also, that God might choose whether he would give me comfort
now, or at the hour of death; but I might not therefore choose whether I
would hold my profession or no.  I was bound, but he was free; yea, it was
my duty to stand to his word, whether he would ever look upon me, or save
me at the last; wherefore, thought I, save the point being thus, I am for going on,
and venturing my eternal state with Christ, whether I have comfort here or no. 
If God doth not come in, thought I, "I will leap off the ladder, even blindfold
into eternity; sink or swim, come heaven, come hell.  Lord Jesus, if thou wilt
catch me, do; if not, I will venture for thy name."
     I was no sooner fixed upon this resolution but the word dropped
upon me, "Doth Job serve God for naught?"  As if the accuser had said,
"Lord, Job is no upright man; he serves thee for by-respects:  hast thou
not made an hedge about him?" etc.  But put forth now thine hand, and
touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.  How now,
thought I, is this the sign of a renewed soul, to desire to serve God when
all is taken from him?  Is he a godly man that will serve God for nothing rather
than give out?  Blessed be God then, I hope I have an upright heart; for I am
resolved, God giving me strength, never to deny my profession, though I had
nothing at all for my pains.  And as I was thus considering, that Scripture
was set before me, (Psalm 44:12, etc.).  Now was my heart full of comfort, for
I hoped it was sincere.  I would not have been without this trial for much; I
am comforted every time I think of it; and I hope I shall bless God forever,
for the teachings I have had by it.  Many more of the dealings of God
towards me I might relate, "but these out of the spoils won in battle have
I dedicated to maintain the house of God."

Friday, April 14, 2017

I am plainly put to this choice, to part with my ministry or my conscience

The following was the conclusion of a sermon by Thomas Watson 
on the eve of his ejectment from the rectorship of St. Stephens, 
Walbrook, England, when the Act of Uniformity went into effect 
on August 24, 1662.  (This Act of Uniformity resulted in 
"the ejection of Anglican clergymen who failed to comply with
its terms--and were forced out of the Church of England, schools, 

and universities.  Approximately 2,000 ministers were ejected.")

     The most glorious morning hath its evening; the hour is come wherein
the sun is setting upon not a few of the prophets; the shadows of the
evening are stretched forth upon us; our day draws, our work seems to
be at an end.  Our pulpits and places must know us no more.  This is
the Lord's doing, let all the earth keep silence before him. 
     It is not a light thing for me, brethren, to be laid aside from the work,
and cast out of the vineyard of the Lord; and it must be something of
weight that must support under so severe a doom I know there are not
a few that will add to the affliction of the afflicted, by telling the world it
is their own fault, they might prevent it if they would.  Whether this be so
or no, God knoweth, and let the Lord be judge.  Blessed be God, whatever
be, this is not laid to our charge as the reason of our exclusion either
insufficiency or scandal!
     You are not ignorant what things there are imposed on us, as the condition
of our continuing our ministration; which how lawful and expedient soever
they seem in the judgment of many, yet have the most specious arguments that
plead for them, left me utterly dissatisfied in my conscience about them.  I
must profess before God, angels, and men, that my non-submission is not
from any disloyalty to authority, nor from pride, humour, or any factious
disposition, or design; but because I dare not contradict my light, nor do
any thing concerning which my heart tells me, the Lord says, do it not. 
     After all my most impartial inquiries,—after all my seeking counsel from
the Lord,—after all my considering, and consulting with men of all persuasions
about these matters,—I find myself so far short of satisfaction, that I am plainly
put to this choice, to part with my ministry or my conscience.  I dare not lie
before God and the world; nor come and tell you, I approve, I allow, I heartily
consent, to what I neither do nor can; but must choose rather, that my ministry
be scaled up by my sufferings, than lengthened out by a lie, through the grace
of God, though men do, yet my heart shall not reproach me while I live.  "If
our heart condemn us, God is greater than our hearts and knoweth all things."
But however, though I must now no longer act as a minister, I shall, through the
grace of God, endeavour peaceably, and patiently, to suffer as a Christian.  I
should, to testify my obedience to authority, have become all things to all men,
to the uttermost that I could, with any clearness of heart:  but since matters
stand so, I must lose my place, or my peace, I cheerfully suffer myself to be
thrust off the stage.
     And now welcome the cross of Christ,—welcome reproach,—welcome
poverty, scorn and contempt, or whatever else may befall me on this account!
This morning I had a flock, and you had a pastor; but now, behold a pastor
without a flock,—a flock without a shepherd!  This morning I had an house, but
now I have none!  This morning I had a living, but now I have none!  "The Lord
hath given, and the Lord hath taken away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord."
     Beloved, I am sensible of many weaknesses and disadvantages I am under,
which may render a suffering state the harder to be borne; help me by your
prayers, and not me only, but all my brethren also, with whom my lot must fall;
"Pray for us:  for we trust that we have a good conscience, in all things willing to
live honestly."  Pray,
     1.  That God would make our silence speak, and preach the same holy doctrine
that we have preached with our lips.
     2.  That he would give supports answerable to our sufferings; that he who
comforteth those that are cast down, will also comfort his servants that are cast out.
     3.  That, according to our earnest expectation, and our hope, as always, so now
also, Christ may be magnified in us, whether it be by life or by death.
     And thus, brethren, I bid you all farewell, in the words of the apostle, 2 Cor. 13:11,
"Finally, brethren, farewell.  Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in
peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you."  "And the God of peace,
that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep,
through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work
to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus
Christ; to whom be glory, for ever and ever.  Amen."

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Where our strength ends there God's omnipotence begins

From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: 
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
                                                                     Psalms 61:2

Where our strength ends there God's omnipotence begins.  Nature's extremity is
God's opportunity.  Again we repeat it, the end of the earth is the beginning of heaven. 
If the day should come when monarchs should banish God's people, their banishment
would be an object of contempt, for can they banish the men that are strangers wherever
they may be?  Is not my Father's house a large one?  Yon dome, the blue sky, its roof; the
rolling seas, the swelling floods, the green meads, the huge mountains—are not these
the floors of his house?  And where can I be driven from the dominions of my God,
and away from the voice of his love?  Banishment to the Christian may seem a trouble,
but if he looketh up and seeth his Father's house and beholdeth the smile of his God, he
will know that banishment is to him an impossibility.  But supposing us to be banished from
every thing good and dear to us, even then we should not be banished from God's throne,
"From the ends of the earth will I cry unto thee."
                                                                                        Charles H. Spurgeon

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

God often affords the richest habitations and the greatest earthly plenty to the greatest sinners

.....With what admirable wisdom has God ordered that there should be such
variety of places for man's habitation!  Sodom and Gomorrha were seated in the
fruitful valley, the country near it was more barren and mountainous.  Some countries
are high, and thirsty, and barren; others low, and watered, and fruitful.  God could have
made the whole earth to have been alike in all places, and not so variously ordered; but
this singular diversity excellently praises the wisdom of his providence.  They who live in
barren mountains, which are only watered by the showers of heaven, are compelled
to acknowledge that they owe all their increase to a blessing from above.  They who
inhabit the fruitful valleys enriched with fountains and rivers, are admonished of the
bounty of God's providence to them above others, in the plenty of their supplies.  They
who live in mountainous and barren places, show the goodness of God in sustaining
them even in such places of scarcity, and that it is not necessary for man's presentation
to live delicately; those who fare more hardly often living more healthfully than those
who swim in great abundance.  In a word, by this rariety, places are made helpful
and beneficial one to another; some places abound with the blessings of one kind,
some with those of another; the mountains with health, the valleys with wealth; the
mountain wants the valley for supply of food, the valley is beholden to the mountain
for strength and defence.  Every place enjoys not every comfort, but is necessitated
to crave supply from a neighbouring country.  The city cannot live without the food of
the country, nor the country without the coin and commodities of the city; the poor
wants the rich, and the rich the poor:  the one is helpful by his labours, the other by
his rewards:  the one by work, the other by wages,  True is that of Solomon, The
rich and the poor meet together, and the Lord is the Maker of them all, Prov. 22:2;
who by this variety both advances the honour of his own wisdom, and provides
for the good of human society,
     God often affords the richest habitations and the greatest earthly plenty to the
greatest sinners.  Sodom for wealth and fertility is compared to the garden of God,
and yet God bestows it upon the worst of men.  Egypt and Babylon, abounding with
waters and plenty, are given, not only to those who are without the church, but who
are enemies of the church.  In these countries God made his people slaves and captives;
and truly it is safest for Israel to meet with most woe in places of most wealth. 
God gives his enemies their heaven, portion, their all in this life, Psalms 17:14; they
here receive their good things; and have all in hand, nothing in hope; all in possession,
nothing in future reversion.  By this distribution of earthly plenty, God would have us
see how slightly and meanly he esteems it.  He throws the best things that this world
affords upon the worst and, as Daniel speaks, the basest of men.  Who but the Nimrods,
the Nebuchadnezzars, the Alexanders, the Caesars, have ordinarily been the lords of the
world?  These have fleeted off the cream of earthly enjoyments, when the portion of saints
has been thin, and lean, and poor.  Some observe, that Daniel expresses the monarchies
of the world by sundry sorts of cruel beasts; to show, that as they were gotten by beastly
cruelty, so enjoyed with brutish sensuality.  The great Turkish empire, said Luther, is but
as a crust which God throws to a hungry dog.  God sometimes indeed, lest riches should
be accounted in themselves evil, gives them to the good; but ordinarily, lest they should be
accounted the chief good, he bestows them upon the bad:  oftener making them the
portion of foes than of sons.  What is it to receive, and not to be received; to have
nothing from God but what he may give in hatred; to have, with Sodomites, a garden of
God upon earth, with the loss of the true Paradise! in a word, to have no other dews of
blessing but such as may be followed with showers of fire!
.....Rich cities have ever been the stoves of luxury.  Men have natural inclinations according
to the genius of their country; and it is rare to see religion flourish in a rich soil.  In the
scantiness of earthly enjoyments, want restrains and stints our appetites; but where there
is abundance, and the measure is left to our own discretion, we seldom know what
moderation means..... we had need of special grace at every turn, and of that watchfulness
whereby in the midst of abundance we may not want temperance.  How hard is it, with
holy Paul, to know how to be full, and to abound!  How holy is that man who can be
chaste, temperate, heavenly in Sodom!  Let us not only be content to want, but even
pray against those riches which may occasion us, full, to deny God, Prov. 30:8-9.  It
is a most unwise choice, with Lot, to leave Abraham to inhabit Sodom....
                                                                                      William Jenkyn  

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Lord, thou hast been my dwelling-place throughout all generations

Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations. 
                                                                          Psalms 90:1

.....behold the contrast which Moses, the man of God, discerns with gratitude,
"Thou art not our tent, but thou art our dwelling-place.  Though we are uneasy here,
though we are tossed from side to side by troubles, though we travel through a wilderness,
and find it a rough pathway, though when we sit down here we know not what comfort
means, O Lord, in thee we possess all the comfort which a house can afford, we have
all that a mansion or palace can give the prince, who can loll upon his couch, and rest
upon his bed of down.  Lord, thou art to us comfort, thou art a house and habitation." 
Have you ever known what it is to have God for your dwelling-place in the sense of
comfort?  Do you know what it is, when you have storms behind you, to feel like a
sea-bird, blown to the land by the very storm?.....Do you know what it is, when you
are tossed on the waves, to go down into the depths of Godhead, there rejoicing that
not a wave of trouble ruffles your spirit, but that you are serenely at home with God
your own Almighty Father?  Can you, amid all the uneasiness of this desert journey,
find a comfort there?  Is the breast of Jesus a sweet pillow for your head?  Can you,
lie thus on the breast of Deity?  Can you put yourself in the stream of Providence and
float along without a struggle, while angels sing around you -- divinely guided, divinely
led -- "We are bearing thee along the stream of Providence to the ocean of eternal bliss!" 
Do you know what it is to lie on God, to give up all care, to drive anxiety away, and
there -- not in a recklessness of spirit, but in a holy carelessness -- to be careful for
nothing, "but in every thing by supplication to make known your wants unto God?" 
If so you have gained the first idea; "Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place
throughout all generations.”
.....My hearers, what a pity it is that we have to divide our congregation, that we
can not speak to you in a mass as being all Christians.  This morning, I would I could
take God's word and address it to you all, that you all might share the sweet promises
it contains.  But some of you would not have them if I were to offer them.  Some of you
despise Christ, my blessed Master.  Many of you think sin to be a trifle, and grace to be
worthless, heaven to be a vision, and hell to be a fiction.  Some of you are careless, and
hardened, and thoughtless, without God, and without Christ.....
     One word by way of warning.  Do you know, poor soul, that you have not a house
to live in?  You have a house for your body but no house for your soul.  Have you ever
seen a poor girl at midnight sitting down on a door-step crying?  Somebody passes by,
and says, "Why do you sit here?"  "I have no house, sir.  I have no home."  "Where is
your father?"  "My father's dead, sir."  "Where is your mother?"  "I have no mother, sir." 
"Have you no friends?"  "No friends at all."  "Have you no house?"  "No; I have none. 
I am houseless."  And she shivers in the chill air, and gathers her poor ragged shawl
around her, and cries again, "I have no house -- I have no home."  Would you not pity her?
Would you blame her for her tears?  Ah! there are some of you that have houseless souls
here this morning.  It is something to have a houseless body; but to think of a houseless soul! 
Methinks I see you in eternity sitting on the door-step of heaven.  An angel says,
"What! have you no house to live in?"  "No house," says the poor soul.  "Have you no
father?"  "No; God is not my father; and there is none beside him."...."Have you no house,
then?"  "No; I am a houseless soul."  But there is one thing worse about that -- houseless
souls have to be sent into hell; to a dungeon, to a lake that burns with fire.....Poor houseless
soul, dost thou want a house?  I have a house to let this morning for every sinner who feels
his misery.  Do you want a house for your soul?  Then I will condescend to men of low
estate, and tell you in homely language, that I have a house to let.  Do you ask me what is
the purchase?  I will tell you; it is something less than proud human nature will like to give. 
It is without money and without price.  Ah! you would like to pay some rent wouldn't you? 
You would love to do something to win Christ.  You can not have the house then; it is
"without money and without price."  I have told you enough of the house itself, and therefore
I will not describe its excellences.  But I will tell you one thing -- that if you feel that you are
a houseless soul this morning, you may have the key to-morrow; and if you feel yourself to be a
houseless soul to-day, you may enter it now.  If you had a house of your own I would not
offer it to you; but since you have no other, here it is.  Will you take my Master's house on a
lease for all eternity, with nothing to pay for it, nothing but the ground-rent of loving and
serving him forever?  Will you take Jesus, and dwell in him throughout eternity? or will you
be content to be a houseless soul?  Come inside, sir; see, it is furnished from top to bottom
with all you want.  It has cellars filled with gold, more than you will spend as long as you live;
it hath a parlor where you can entertain yourself with Christ, and feast on his love; it has tables
well stored with food for you to live on for-ever; it hath a drawing-room of brotherly love
where you can receive your friends.  You will find a resting room up there where you can rest with
Jesus; and on the top there is a look-out, whence you can see heaven itself.  Will you have the
house, or will you not?  Ah! if you are houseless, you will say, "I should like to have the house;
but may I have it?"  Yes; there is the key.  The key is, "Come to Jesus."  But, you say, "I am too
shabby for such a house."  Never mind; there are garments inside.....
     If you feel guilty and condemned, come, and though the house is too good for you, Christ
will make you good enough for the house by-and-by.  He will wash you, and cleanse you,
and you will yet be able to sing with Moses, with the same unfaltering voice, "Lord, thou hast
been my dwelling-place throughout all generations.”                                                               
                                                                                                  Charles H. Spurgeon