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 

Monday, April 10, 2017

“He loved us and gave Himself for us, and we have washed our robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

There is singing up in heaven such as we have never known,
Where the angels sing the praises of the Lamb upon the throne;
Their sweet harps are ever tuneful and their voices always clear,
Oh, that we might be more like them while we serve the Master here.

But I hear another anthem, blending voices clear and strong,
“Unto Him who hath redeemed us and hath bought us,” is the song;
We have come thro’ tribulations to this land so fair and bright,
In the fountain freely flowing He hath made our garments white.

Then the angels stand and listen, for they cannot join that song,
Like the sound of many waters, by that happy blood-washed throng;
For they sing about great trials, battles fought and vict’ries won,
And they praise their great Redeemer who hath said to them, “well done.”

So, although I’m no an angel, yet I know that over there
I will join a blessed chorus that the angels cannot share;
I will sing about my Savior who upon dark Calvary
Freely pardoned my transgressions, died to set a sinner free.

Holy, holy, is what the angels sing,
And I expect to help them make the courts of heaven ring;
But when I sing redemption’s story they will fold their wings,
For angels never felt the joys that our salvation brings.
                                              Rev. Johnson Oatman, Jr.

For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing
many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.                                                                                                                  Hebrews 2:10

     Oh, my brothers and sisters, what delight and transport will seize the minds of those
who are redeemed!  How will God be glorified then!  Why, every wound of Christ will
cause an everlasting song!  As we shall circle His throne, rejoicing, will not this be the
very summit of all our harmony—“You were slain, and have redeemed us unto God by
Your blood”?  We must not say what God could do, or could not do, but it does seem
to me that by no process of creation could He have ever made such beings as we shall be
when we are brought to heaven; for if He had made us perfect, then we would have stood
through our own holiness; or if He had forgiven us without an atonement, then we would
never have seen His justice, nor His amazing love.  But in heaven we shall be creatures
who feel that we have everything, but deserve nothing; creatures who have been the
objects of the most wonderful love, and therefore, so mightily attached to our Lord, that
it would be impossible for a thousand Satans ever to lead us astray!
     Again—we shall be such servants as even the angels cannot be, for we shall feel
under deeper obligation to God than even they!  They are but created happy; we shall be
redeemed by the blood of God’s dear Son, and I am sure, brothers and sisters, day without
night we shall circle God’s throne rejoicing, having more happiness than the angels, for they
do not know what evil is, but we shall have known it to the fullest—and yet shall be perfectly
free from it!  They do not know what pain is, but we shall have known pain, and grief, and
death—and yet shall be immortal!  They do not know what it is to fall, but we shall look
down to the depths of hell and remember that this could have been our portion.  Oh, how
we will sing, how we will chant His praise, and this, I say again, shall be the highest note,
that we owe all to that bright one, that Lamb in the midst of the throne!  We will tell it over,
and over, and over again, and find it an inexhaustible theme for melodious joy and
song—that He became man, that He sweat great drops of blood, that He died, that He
rose again!  While the angels are singing, “Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah,” we
will bid them stop the song a moment, while we say, “He whom you thus adore was once
covered with bloody sweat.” As we cast our crowns at His feet, we will say, “And He was
once despised and rejected of men.” Lifting up our eyes and saluting Him as God over all,
blessed forever, we will remember the reed, the sponge, the vinegar, and the nails; and
as we come to Him, and have fellowship with Him, He shall lead us beside the living
fountains of water!  And we will remember the black brook of Kedron of which He
drank, and the awful depths of the grave into which He descended.  Amid all the
splendors of heaven we shall never forget the agony, and misery, and dishonor of earth;
and even when they sing the loudest sonnets of God’s love, and power, and grace, we
will sing this after all, and before all, and above all, that Jesus, the Son of God died for
us, and this shall be our ever-lasting song—“He loved us and gave Himself for us, and
we have washed our robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”             
                                                                                           Charles H. Spurgeon  

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Jesus, the Redeemer, is altogether ours, and ours forever

Pensive, doubting, fearful heart,
Hear what Christ the Saviour says;
Every word should joy impart,
Change thy mourning into praise:
Yes, He speaks, and speaks to thee,
May He help thee to believe!
Then thou presently wilt see,
Thou hast little cause to grieve.

"Fear thou not, nor be ashamed,
All thy sorrows soon shall end:
I who heaven and earth have framed
Am thy Husband and thy Friend:
I the High and Holy One,
Israel's God by all adored,
As thy Saviour will be known,
Thy Redeemer and thy Lord.

For a moment I withdrew,
And thy heart was fill'd with pain;
But my mercies I'll renew,
Thou shalt soon rejoice again:
Though I seem to hide my face,
Very soon my wrath shall cease;
'Tis but for a moment's space,
Ending in eternal peace.

When my peaceful bow appears,
Painted on the watery cloud;
'Tis to dissipate thy fears,
Lest the earth should be o'erflow'd:
'Tis an emblem too of grace,
Of my covenant love a sign;
Though the mountains leave their place,
Thou shalt be for ever mine.

Though afflicted, tempest-toss'd,
Comfortless awhile thou art,
Do not think thou canst be lost,
Thou art graven on my heart:
All thy wastes I will repair,
Thou shalt be rebuilt anew;
And in thee it shall appear
What a God of love can do."
                 William Cowper

For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy
Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.             
                                                                                            Isa 54:5
     Jesus, the Redeemer, is altogether ours, and ours forever.  All the offices of
Christ are held on our behalf.  He is king for us, priest for us, and prophet for us
Whenever we read a new title of the Redeemer, let us appropriate Him as ours under
that name as much as under any other.  The shepherd's staff, the father's rod, the captain's
sword, the priest's mitre, the prince's sceptre, the prophet's mantle, all are ours.  Jesus
hath no dignity which he will not employ for our exaltation, and no prerogative which he
will not exercise for our defence.  His fulness of Godhead is our unfailing, inexhaustible
     His manhood also, which He took upon Him for us, is ours in all its perfection.  To us
our gracious Lord communicates the spotless virtue of a stainless character; to us He gives
the meritorious efficacy of a devoted life; on us He bestows the reward procured by
obedient submission and incessant service.  He makes the unsullied garment of His life
our covering beauty; the glittering virtues of His character our ornaments and jewels; and
the superhuman meekness of His death our boast and glory.  He bequeaths us His manger,
from which to learn how God came down to man; and His Cross to teach us how man may
go up to God.  All His thoughts, emotions, actions, utterances, miracles, and intercessions,
were for us.  He trod the road of sorrow on our behalf, and hath made over to us as His
heavenly legacy the full results of all the labors of His life.  He is now as much ours as
heretofore; and He blushes not to acknowledge Himself "our Lord Jesus Christ," though
He is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords.  Christ
everywhere and every way is our Christ, forever and ever most richly to enjoy.  O my
soul, by the power of the Holy Spirit call Him this morning, "thy Redeemer."
                                                                                  Charles H. Spurgeon.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Believers meet with rubs and disappointments, which convince them, that if they obtain any thing, it is the Lord must do it for them

To the Reverend Mr. R.-------Letter 7

July 6, 1776
Dear Sir,
.....To me you seem to be in a tolerable fair way:  but I know, in affairs of this
kind, Mr. Self does not like suspense, but would willingly come to the point at once: 
but Mr. Faith (when he gets liberty to hold up his head) will own, that in order to make
our temporal mercies wear well, and to give us a clearer sense of the hand that bestows
them, a waiting and a praying time are very seasonable.  Worldly people expect their
schemes to run upon all fours, as we say, and the objects of their wishes to drop into
their mouths without difficulty; and if they succeed, they of course burn incense to their
own drag, and say, This was my doing:  but believers meet with rubs and disappointments,
which convince them, that if they obtain any thing, it is the Lord must do it for them.  For
this reason I observe that he usually brings a death upon our prospects, even when it is
his purpose to give us success in the issue.  Thus we become more assured that we did
not act in our own spirits, and have a more satisfactory view that his providence has been
concerned in filling up the rivers and removing the mountains that were in our way.  Then,
when he has given us our desire, how pleasant it is to look at it, and say, This I got not
by my own sword, and my own bow, but I wrestled for it in prayer, I waited for it in
faith, I put it into the Lord's hand, and from his hand I received it.
     You have met with the story of one of our kings (if I mistake not) who wanted to
send a nobleman abroad as his ambassador, and he desired to be excused on account
of some affairs which required his presence at home:  the king answered, "Do you take
care of my business, and I will take care of yours."  I would have you think the Lord says
thus to you.....Watch in all things; endure afflictions; do the work of an evangelist; make
full proof of your ministry:  and when other thoughts rise in your mind (for you have no
door to shut them quite out), run with them to the throne of grace, and commit them
to the Lord.  Satan will perhaps try to force them upon you unseasonably and
inordinately; but if he sees they drive you to prayer, he will probably desist, rather
than be the occasion of doing you so much good.  Believe, likewise, that as the Lord
has the appointment of the person, so he fixes the time.  His time is like the time of the
tide;  all the art and power of man can neither hasten or retard it a moment:  it must be
waited for:  nothing can be done without it, and when it comes, nothing can resist it.  It is
unbelief that talks of delays; faith knows that properly there can be no such thing.  The
only reason why the Lord seems to delay what he afterwards grants, is, that the best hour
is not yet come.  I know you have been enabled to commit and resign your all to his
disposal.  You did well.  May he help you to stand to the surrender.  Sometimes he
will put us to the trial, whether we mean what we say.  He takes his course in a way
we did not expect; and then, alas! how often does the trial put us to shame!  Presently
there is an outcry raised in the soul against his management:  this is wrong, that
unnecessary, the other has spoiled the whole plan:  in short, all these things are
against us.  And then we go into the pulpit, and gravely tell the people how wise
and how good he is, and preach submission to his will, not only as a duty, but a
privilege!  Alas! how deceitful is the heart!  Yet, since it is, and will be so, it is necessary
we should know it by experience.  We have reason, however, to say, He is good and
wise; for he bears with our perverseness, and in the event shows us, that if he had listened
to our murmurings, and taken the methods we would have prescribed to him, we should
have been ruined indeed, and that he has been all the while doing us good in spite of ourselves.
     If I judge right, you will find your way providentially opened more and more; and yet
it is possible, that when you begin to think yourself sure, something may happen to put
you in a panic again.  But a believer, like a sailor, is not to be surprised if the wind changes,
but to learn the art of suiting himself to all winds for the time:  and though many a poor sailor
is shipwrecked, the poor believer shall gain his port.  Oh, it is good sailing with an infallible
pilot at the helm, who has the wind and weather at his command!
                                                                                                  John Newton  

Friday, April 7, 2017

Jesus has come and gone – come, because God loved the world – gone, because the world hated God

Ye simple souls that stray
Far from the path of peace,
That lonely, unfrequented way
To life and happiness,
Why will ye folly love,
And throng the downward road,
And hate the wisdom from above,
And mock the sons of God?

So wretched and obscure,
The men whom ye despise,
So foolish, impotent, and poor,-
Above your scorn we rise:
We through the Holy Ghost,
Can witness better things;
For he whose blood is all our boast,
Hath made us priests and kings.

Riches unsearchable
In Jesus’ love we know;
And pleasures springing from the well
Of life, our souls o’erflow:
The Spirit we receive
Of wisdom, grace, and power;
And always sorrowful we live,
Rejoicing evermore.

Angels our servants are,
And keep in all our ways,
And in their watchful hands they bear
The sacred sons of grace:
Unto that heavenly bliss
They all our steps attend;
And God himself our Father is,
And Jesus is our friend.
                       John Wesley

     Let us turn, for a moment, to the sixty-ninth psalm, which so vividly presents
our blessed and adorable Lord suffering from the hand of man, and appealing
to God for vengeance.....
     But let us look at the other side of the picture.  Turn to the twenty-second psalm,
which presents the Blessed One suffering under the hand of God.  Here the result is
wholly different.  Instead of judgment and vengeance, it is universal and everlasting
blessedness and glory.....
     These two quotations present, with great distinctness, the two aspects of the death
of Christ.  He died, as a martyr, for righteousness, under the hand of man.  For this
man will have to account to God.  But He died, as a victim, for sin, under the hand
of God.  This is the foundation of all blessing to those that believe in His Name.  His
martyr sufferings bring down wrath and judgment upon a godless world:  His atoning
sufferings open up the everlasting well-springs of life and salvation to the Church, to
Israel, and to the whole creation.  The death of Jesus consummates the world's guilt;
but secures the Church's acceptance.  The world is stained, and the Church purged,
by the blood of the cross.
     Such is the double bearing of the first of our three great New Testament facts. 
Jesus has come and gone – come, because God loved the world – gone, because
the world hated God.  If God were to ask the question – and He will ask it – "What
have you done with My Son?"  What is the answer?  "We hated Him, cast Him out,
and crucified Him.  We preferred a robber to Him."
     But, blessed forever be the God of all grace, the Christian, the true believer,
can look up to heaven and say, "My absent Lord is there, and there for me.  He is
gone from this wretched world, and His absence makes the entire scene around me a
moral wilderness – a desolate waste.”
                                                                                      C. H. Mackintosh

Thursday, April 6, 2017

What shall we be, and whither shall we go

What shall we be, and whither shall we go,
When the last conflict of our life is o'er,
And we return from wandering to and fro
To our dear home through heaven's eternal door;
When we shake off the last dust from our feet,
When we wipe off the last drop from our brow,
And our departed friends once more we greet,
The hope which cheers and comforts us below?

What shall we be, when we ourselves shall see
Bathed in the flood of everlasting light,
And from all guilt and sin entirely free,
Stand pure and blameless in our Maker's sight,
No longer from His holy presence driven,
Conscious of guilt, and stung with inward pain,
But friends of God and citizens of heaven,
To join the ranks of His celestial train?

What shall we be, when we drink in the sound
Of heavenly music from the spheres above,
When golden harps to listening hosts around
Declare the wonders of redeeming love;
When far and wide through the resounding air
Loud Hallelujahs from the ransomed rise,
And holy incense, sweet with praise and prayer,
Is wafted to the Highest through the skies?

What shall we be, when the freed soul shall rise
With unrestrained and bold aspiring flight
To Him, who by His wondrous sacrifice
Hath opened heaven, and scattered sin's dark night;
When from the eye of faith the thin veil drops,
Like wreaths of mist before the morning's rays,
And we behold, the end of all our hopes,
The Son of God in full refulgent blaze?

What shall we be, when we shall hear Him say,
"Come, O ye blessed;" when we see Him stand,
Robed in the light of everlasting day,
Before the throne of God at His right hand;
When we behold the eyes from which once flowed
Tears o'er the sin and misery of man,
And the deep wounds from which the precious blood,
That made atonement for the world, once ran?

What shall we be, when hand in hand we go
With blessed spirits risen from the tomb,
Where streams of living water softly flow,
And trees still flourish in primeval bloom;
Where in perpetual youth no cheek looks old
By the sharp touch of cruel time imprest,
Where no bright eye is dimm'd, no heart grows cold,
No grief, no pain, no death invades the blest?

What shall we be, when every glance we cast
At the dark valley underneath our feet,
And every retrospect of troubles past
Makes heaven brighter and its joys more sweet;
When the remembrance of our earthly woe
Gives a new relish to our heavenly peace,
And draws our heart to Him, to whom we owe
Our past deliverance and our present bliss?

What shall we be, who have in Christ believed?
What through His grace will be our sweet reward?
Eye hath not seen, ear heard, or heart conceived,
What God for those who love Him hath prepared.
Let us the steep ascent then boldly climb,
Our toil and labour will be well repaid;
Let us haste onward, till in God's good time
We reap the fruit, a crown that doth not fade.
                C. J. P. Spitta,
                trans by H. Massie

I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.                       
                                                                                   Psalms 130:5

.....while we live here we are always children of hope; not miserable, because we
have a sweet taste of what we hope for, and not perfectly happy, because we want
fulness.  Before Christ they hoped for his coming in the flesh; since Christ, we look
for his 'second coming in glory;' in grace we look for glory; and when our souls are in
glory, they look for the redemption of the bodies, and for the day of restoring of all
things.  'How long, Lord, how long?' Rev. 6:10.  Else would this life be heaven to us;
and we should not desire or pray, 'Lord, let thy kingdom come.’.....This should whet 
in us our desires and prayers for our heavenly estate; and not make our heaven
here on earth, but desire earnestly the full harvest, by considering how excellent the
first-fruits of glory in this life are; and with the creature, Rom. 8:19, 'wait, and expect,
and long, and groan for the time of the dissolution of all things;' and make this a note to
discern of our estate; for it is a certain infallible token of a good frame of spirit in us,
if we can long for that better life in the fulness, that we have here; that we can desire
to be with Christ.  Furthermore, note this as a difference between the estates of 
the wicked and the godly.  The wicked must look for worse and worse continually. 
His best is here, and while he hath this world; but the godly, their worst is here, their
best is to come.                          
                                                                                         Richard Sibbes, D.D.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Brethren, Christ is real in all that he speaks unto you

The following is a part of a letter written by Reverend Joseph Alleine - 
August 11, 1665. 

    Brethren, understand mine office;—I preach not myself, but the Lord Jesus Christ,
and myself your servant for Jesus’ sake.  Give him your hearts, and I have my errand. 
I am but the friend of the bridegroom, and my business is but to give you to understand
his love, and to gain your hearts unto him.  He is an object worthy of my commendations
and of your affections.  His love is worth the writing of, and worth the thinking of, and
worth the speaking of.  O my brethren, never forget, I beseech you, how he loveth you. 
He is in heaven, and you are on earth:  he is in glory, and you in rags; he is in the shining
throne, and you in dirty flesh;—and yet he loveth you.  His heart is infinitely tender
over you, even now while he is at the right hand of the Majesty on high.  How feelingly
doth he cry out at the hurt of his poor members on earth, Saul, Saul why persecutest 
thou me?  Oh, of what quick sense is the sense of our dear Lord unto us!  When we
are touched on earth he feels it in heaven.
     Brethren, Christ is real in all that he speaks unto you.  He is not like a flourishing
lover, who fills up his letters with rhetoric, and hath more care of the dress of his
speech than of the truth.  Who ever gave demonstration of the reality of his love at
so dear a rate as Christ hath done?  Men do not use to die in jest.  Who will impoverish
himself to enrich his friend?  And divest himself of his honour to advance him?  And
debase himself to admiration below his own degree to contract affinity with him? 
And all this but to make him believe that he loves him?
     Brethren, possess your very hearts with this, that Christ's love doth go out with
infinite dearness towards you.  Even now, while he is in all his glory, he earnestly
remembers you still.  This is the High Priest that now is entered into the holy of holies,
doth bear your names particulary, remembering every poor believer by name.  He
bears your names, —but where? "upon his breast-plate, upon his heart," saith
the text, Exodus 28:29.  Ah! Christians, I may salute you as the angel did Mary,
Hail you that are highly favoured:  Blessed are you among men.  Sure
your lot is fallen in a happy place.  What! in the bosom of Christ?  Yea, and verily
you may believe, and doubt not.  I may apply that of Gabriel, O Daniel, thou art 
greatly beloved, unto you; you are beloved indeed, to have your names written
upon the very heart of Christ, now he is in glory.
     Oh, let his name be written then on your hearts.  Do not write his name in the
sand when he hath written yours upon his own breast!  Do not forget him who
hath taken such care, that where he is, he may never forget you, having recorded
your names only on his book, but on his flesh, and set you as a seal upon his heart. 
He hath you upon his heart,—but why?  "For a memorial before the Lord continually,"
so saith the text.  Beloved, your Lord is so far from forgetting you in all his greatness
and glory, that he is gone into heaven on purpose, there to present you before the
Lord, that you may be always in remembrance before him.  O beloved, glory, yea,
and triumph in his love.  Doubtless it must go well with us.  Who shall condemn? 
It is Christ that died, and rose again, and is now making intercession.  His interest is
potent.  He is always present.  Our advocate is never out of court.  Never did cause
miscarry in his hand.  Trust you safely in him.  Happy is that man for whom he shall
undertake to speak.
     Oh, the riches of Christ's love!  He did not think it enough to die for you.  His
love and care doth not end with his natural life on earth, but "he ever liveth to make
intercession for us."  His love is like his life, ever and ever; knowing no remission in
degree, nor intermission of time, no cessation of working, but is ever, ever in motion
towards us.
     But when shall I end, if I suffer my soul to run out its length, and my running pen to
enlarge according to the dimensions of this boundless field of divine love?  If the pens
of all the world were employed to write volumes of love; if the tongues of all the living
were exercised in nothing else but talking of this love; if all the hearts that be were made
up of love:  and all the powers and affections of the mind were turned into one, to wit,
the power of love; yet this were no less than infinitely too little, either to conceive, or to
express the greatness of Christ's love.
     O my dearly beloved, may your souls be swallowed up in this love.  Think, and think
while you will, you can never think how much you are beloved.  See that ye love again,
by way of gratitude, though not of requital.  What though, your souls be but narrow,
and your powers but little, yet love him with all you have.  Love him with all your hearts,
and all your strength.  To the meditations, and to the embraces of divine love I leave
you, thinking it now not worth while to tell you of my love, remaining
        Yours in the bonds
            of your most dear Lord Jesus,
                Joseph Alleine.  

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The heathen raged

6    The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice,
the earth melted.
7    The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
8    Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in
the earth.
9    He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow,
and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.
10    Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen,
I will be exalted in the earth.
11    The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.                
                                              Psalms 46:6-11

     I.  As King of nations, ruling the world by his power and providence, and
overruling all the affairs of the children of men to his own glory; he does according
to his will among the inhabitants of the earth, and none may say, What doest thou?
     1.  He checks the rage and breaks the power of the nations that oppose him
and his interests in the world (v. 6)....
     2.  When he pleases to draw his sword, and give it commission, he can make
great havoc among the nations and lay all waste (v. 8).....
     3.  When he pleases to sheathe his sword, he puts an end to the wars of the
nations and crowns them with peace, v. 9.....
     II.  As King of saints, and as such we must own that great and marvellous are 
his works, Rev. 15:3.  He does and will do great things,
     1.  For his own glory (v. 10):  Be still, and know that I am God.
     (1.)  Let his enemies be still, and threaten no more, but know it, to their terror,
that he is God, one infinitely above them, and that will certainly be too hard for them;
let them rage no more, for it is all in vain: he that sits in heaven, laughs at them; and, in
spite of all their impotent malice against his name and honour, he will be exalted
among the heathen and not merely among his own people, he will be exalted in the
earth and not merely in the church.  Men will set up themselves, will have their own
way and do their own will; but let them know that God will be exalted, he will have
his way will do his own will, will glorify his own name, and wherein they deal proudly
he will be above them, and make them know that he is so.  (2.)  Let his own people
be still; let them be calm and sedate, and tremble no more, but know, to their comfort,
that the Lord is God, he is God alone, and will be exalted above the heathen; let him
alone to maintain his honour, to fulfil his own counsels and to support his own interest
in the world.  Though we be depressed, yet let us not be dejected, for we are sure
that God will be exalted, and that may satisfy us; he will work for his great name, and
then no matter what becomes of our little names.  When we pray, Father, glorify thy
name, we ought to exercise faith upon the answer given to that prayer when Christ
himself prayed it, I have both glorified it and I will glorify it yet again.  Amen, Lord,
so be it.
     2.  For his people's safety and protection.  He triumphs in the former:  I will be
exalted; they triumph in this, v. 7 and again v. 11.  It is the burden of the song, "The
Lord of hosts is with us; he is on our side, he takes our part, is present with us and
president over us; the God of Jacob is our refuge, to whom we may flee, and in
whom we may confide and be sure of safety."  Let all believers triumph in this. 
(1.)  They have the presence of a God of power, of all power:  The Lord of hosts
is with us.  God is the Lord of hosts, for he has all the creatures which are called
the hosts of heaven and earth at his beck and command, and he makes what use
he pleases of them, as the instruments either of his justice or of his mercy.  This
sovereign Lord is with us, sides with us, acts with us, and has promised he will
never leave us.  Hosts may be against us, but we need not fear them if the Lord
of hosts be with us.  (2.)  They are under the protection of a God in covenant,
who not only is able to help them, but is engaged in honour and faithfulness to
help them.  He is the God of Jacob, not only Jacob the person, but Jacob the people;
nay, and of all praying people, the spiritual seed of wrestling Jacob; and he is our
refuge, by whom we are sheltered and in whom we are satisfied, who by his providence
secures our welfare when without are fightings, and who by his grace quiets our minds,
and establishes them, when within are fears.  The Lord of hosts, the God of Jacob,
has been, is, and will be with us--has been, is and will be our refuge:  the original includes
all; and well may Selah be added to it.  Mark this, and take the comfort of it, and say,
If God be for us, who can be against us?
                                                                                                 Matthew Henry

Monday, April 3, 2017

Christ, from whom all blessings flow

           Christ, from whom all blessings flow,
           Perfecting the saints below,
           Hear us, who thy nature share,
           Who thy mystic body are.
           Join us, in one spirit join,
           Let us still receive of thine;
           Still for more on thee we call,
           Thou who fillest all in all.

           Move and actuate, and guide,
           Divers gifts to each divine;
           Placed according to thy will,
           Let us all our work fulfill;
           Never from our office move;
           Needful to each other prove;
           Let us daily growth receive,
           More and more in Jesus live.

           Sweetly may we all agree,
           Touched with softest sympathy;
           Kindly for each other care;
           Every member feel its share.
           Many are we now and one,
           We who Jesus have put on;
           Names, and sects, and parties fall;
           Thou, O Christ, art all in all.
                                                           Charles Wesley

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Great is the mystery of godliness

And, without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness:  God manifested
in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles,
believed on in the world, received up to glory.            1 Timothy 3:16

     All the graces are mysteries, every grace.  Let a man once know it, and he shall
find that there is a mystery in faith; that the earthly soul of man should be carried above
itself, to believe supernatural truths, and to depend upon that he sees not, to sway the
life by reasons spiritual; that the heart of man should believe; that a man in trouble should
carry himself quietly and patiently, from supernatural supports and grounds, it is a mystery. 
That a man should be as a rock in the midst of a storm, to stand unmoveable, it is a mystery. 
That the carriage of the soul should be turned universally another way; that the judgment
and affections should be turned backward, as it were; that he that was proud before
should now be humble; that he that was ambitious before should now despise the vain
world; that he that was given to his lusts and vanities before  should now, on the contrary,
be serious and heavenly-minded:  here is a mystery indeed when all is turned backward. 
Therefore we see how Nicodemus, as wise as he was, it was a riddle to him when our
blessed Saviour spake to him of the new birth, that a man should be wholly changed and
new moulded; that a man should be the same; the same man for soul and body, yet not
the same in regard of a supernatural life and being put into him, carrying him another way,
leading him in another manner, by other rules and respects, as much different from other
men as a man differs from a beast.  A strange mystery, that raiseth a man above other
men, as much as another man is above other creatures.  For a man to be content with his
condition, in all changes and varieties, when he is cast and tossed up and down in the
world, to have a mind unmoveable, it is a mystery.  Therefore St Paul saith,
Philip. 4:11-12, 'I have entered into religion,' as it were, 'I have consecrated myself.' 
The word is wondrous significant.  'I have learned this mystery, to be content.'  It is a
mystery for a man to be tossed up and down, and yet to have a contented mind.  'I can
want, and I can abound; I can do all through Christ that strengtheneth me.'  Why? 
I have consecrated myself to Christ and religion, and from them I have learned this point,
to be content.  Therefore in the text here,—as we shall see afterwards,—not only divine
truths are a mystery —'great is the mystery of godliness'—but he insists on particular
graces, 'preached to the Gentiles, believed on in the world:'  these are mysteries.
     In Christ, all is mysteries:  two natures, God and man, in one person; mortal and
 immortal; greatness and baseness; infiniteness and finiteness, in one person.
     The church itself is a mystical thing.  For under baseness, under the scorn of the
world, what is hid?  A glorious people.  The state of the church in this world, it is like a
tree that is weather-beaten.  The leaves and fruit are gone, but there is life in the root. 
So, what is the church?  A company of men that are in the world without glory, without
comeliness and beauty; yet notwithstanding, they have life in the root, a hidden life: 
'Our life is hid with Christ, in God,' Col. 3:3.  The church hath a life, but it is a hidden
mystical life, a life under death.  They seem to die to the world, but they are alive. 
This is excellently and theoretically followed by St Paul:  'As dying, and yet we live;
as poor, yet making many rich,' 2 Cor. 6:9.  A strange kind of people; poor and rich,
living and dying, glorious and base.  Yet this is the state of the church here in this
world.  They are an excellent people, but they are veiled under infirmities of their
own, and the disgraces and persecutions of the world.  So we see both the doctrine
itself, and the graces, and the head of the church, and the church itself, are nothing
but mysteries.
                                                                                           Richard Sibbes, D.D.