Sunday, 27 September 2015

If My people

If My people
(Daniel Webster, 1772-1852)

If we and our posterity reject religious instruction and authority, violate the rules of eternal justice, trifle with the injunctions of morality, and recklessly destroy the political constitution which holds us together — no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us, that shall bury all our glory in profound obscurity!

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14

My pardon cost Him that!

My pardon cost Him that!
(Archibald Brown, "Who is a Pardoning God Like Thee?" Stepney Green Tabernacle)

"Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea." Micah 7:18-19

Before God could forgive a sinner in accordance with His infinite holiness and perfect justice — think what had to be done, sacrificed, and suffered! Measure God's pardon, by the obstacles His pardoning love overcame — and then you can form some idea of its intensity.

God has fathomed His love and pity in one text, "God SO loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son." That little word "so" contains more than Heaven or earth can describe. In it, is the heart of God; in it, is the depth of pardoning love. O think for a minute what that pardon cost, which now makes your soul sing for joy. You received it freely enough, because Another paid the price; but what was that price?

It cost Jesus a price no lip can tell — and no heart conceive! See Him tied to yonder pillar — mark that awful scourge as it falls again and again upon His quivering flesh; note how deep the thongs cut, drawing blood at every stroke! Your pardon cost that! "with his stripes we are healed." Isaiah 53:5

Follow Him in that weary walk to Calvary — linger by Him as fever courses through His veins, while head and hands and feet all drip with gore! Stay by Him until His sacred head falls upon the bosom, and His great heart breaks with anguish. And then looking up into that ashen countenance, say "My pardon cost Him that!" Yes, no pardon could ever have come to guilty man — if an atonement had not been made that . . .
  satisfied divine justice,
  honoured the law, and
  magnified the holiness of God.

It is sweet work to trace the ruby stream of forgiving love; and mark how it would flow on until it reached the sinner, yes, even though it flowed along the channel of a Saviour’s wounds!

Who is a pardoning God like Thee?
Who has grace so rich and free?

Sunday, 20 September 2015

The last pang, and groan, and tear!

The last pang, and groan, and tear!
(John Angell James, "Afflictions")

The Christian looks to the end of afflictions! The end may sometimes come in this world. In reference to this, the utmost that the believer can be sure of, is that afflictions will end in God's time.

They may last for his whole life.
The sickness which afflicts his body may be unto death!
The trial which beclouds and distresses his spirits — may be his lot for life!
The loss which he has sustained may be irreparable — and he may go down to the grave in poverty.
But on the other hand, they may not! God may be bringing him "through fire and through water, to bring him out into a wealthy place."

The Christian leaves this in the hand of God, and endeavours to maintain a hope which shall save him from despondency — checked at the same time by a reverence that guards him from unwarranted presumption.

But if the end of the trial does not come in this world — it will come in the next world — when they will not only forever cease, but leave an eternal blessing behind! "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;" Four things are set forth in these passages:

  1. Our afflictions will have a termination! This is sweet. They are to end — they are not to last forever! The last pang, and groan, and tear are at hand — and how near the Christian never knows!

  2. Our afflictions are not to end like those of the brute creation — in the grave merely — but in Heaven! The last pang, and groan, and tear are to usher in that blessed state of which it is so beautifully said, "For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." Heaven shall terminate all the afflictions of the righteous!

  3. Heaven is so glorious, that the first view of its scenes, and the first moment of its enjoyment — shall make amends for the longest life of the most protracted and intense sufferings!

  4. The sufferings of our earthly pilgrimage — will enhance and increase the felicities of Heaven!
Their submissive endurance;
the graces which they call into exercise;
the sanctification which they promote;
the heavenly temper which they cultivate —
will be the means of ripening the spirit, and making it fit for its eternal inheritance!

Every tear that is shed,
every groan that is heaved,
every loss that is sustained,
every moment of suffering that is endured,
every disappointment that is experienced, which is borne with patience, with resignation, with unwearied holiness — will not only be followed with millions of ages of ineffable felicity — but will prepare the soul for its enjoyment, and add something to its weight and its luster!

Sunday, 13 September 2015

The best means to mortify sin!

The best means to mortify sin!

(Thomas Brooks, "The Crown and Glory of Christianity, or, HOLINESS, the Only Way to Happiness", 1662)

"Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:" Colossians 3:5

While a darling sin lives and keeps the throne in the heart — grace and holiness will be kept exceeding weak and low. But when your darling sin is dethroned and slain by the power and the sword of the Spirit — grace and holiness will quickly grow stronger and stronger, and rise higher and higher.

When a man has eaten poison, nothing will make him thrive, until he has vomited up the poison. Beloved sins are the poison of the soul — and until these are vomited up, and cast out by sound repentance, and the exercise of faith in the blood of Christ — the soul will never thrive in grace and holiness!

If ever you would attain to higher degrees of holiness, then fall with all your might upon subduing and crucifying your most raging corruptions, and your most darling lusts!

Oh do not think that your golden and your silver idols will lay down their weapons, and yield the battle, and lie at your feet, and let you trample them to death — without striking a blow! Oh remember that besetting-sins will do all they can to keep their ground, and therefore you must arise with all your strength against them, and crush them to powder, and burn them to ashes!

Oh deal with your most enraged lusts, as the Philistines dealt with Samson — pluck out their eyes, and force them to grind in the mill of mortification, until their strength is utterly consumed and wasted.

I have read of five men, who being asked what was the best means to mortify sin, gave these answers:

Said the first, "The best means to mortify sin, is to meditate on the terrors of death."

Said the second, "The best means to mortify sin, is to meditate on the solemnity of judgment-day."

Said the third, "The best means to mortify sin, is to meditate on the joys of Heaven."

Said the fourth, "The best means to mortify sin, is to meditate on the torments of Hell."

Said the fifth, "The best means to mortify sin, is to meditate on the death and sufferings of Christ."

Doubtless the last man hit the nail on the head! The daily sight of a bleeding, groaning, dying Saviour — is the only thing which will subdue and mortify darling sins!

O friends! Never leave looking up to a crucified Christ, until virtue flows from Him to the crucifying of those special besetting sins which do most obstruct and hinder the growth of grace and holiness in the soul.

Friday, 4 September 2015

What can mortal man give to his God?

What can mortal man give to his God? 
(Archibald Brown, "What shall I give Him?" 1870)

"What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?"

"What shall I render to the Lord?" Here is a question far easier asked, than answered. I confess that in studying this subject, when I asked my soul this question, and then tried faithfully to answer it, I found myself completely bewildered. I found I had all the desire in the world to render something. But what?

Think for a moment of the possessions of God. What can mortal man give to his God? How can the treasury of the Creator — be enriched by the gifts of the creature? The thought of our God's infinite wealth, makes the question of our text appear next door to an impertinence. Listen but to His own words, "I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he goats out of thy folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fullness thereof." Psalm 50:9-12

The golden veins of the everlasting hills are His, and the hidden treasures of the vast deep belong to Him. Lift up your eyes on high some starry night, and behold the bespangled skies — every glittering speck you see is a rolling world, and every world is the result of His handiwork. The heavens are but His jewel-case!

Now say believer, what you will lay at the feet of Him who can place His hand upon Heaven, Earth, and Hell, and say, "All is Mine!"

But apart from the possessions of our God, there is another insuperable difficulty to answering the question, and that is our own poverty. It is total poverty talking making a gift to infinite wealth. Ransack your memory, run over your accounts, find out what you possess. What is the sum total? Nothing! Nothing!! Nothing!!! We are miserable bankrupts, not worth a jot. The very bread we eat is the bread of divine charity — and the breath we draw is lent to us. It is utter emptiness, talking of giving to the perfection of fullness. It is the beggar rendering to the benefactor!

If we were able to give Him anything — it would be but rendering to Him what is already His own. What do we have, that we have not first received from God? "For all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee.” 1 Chronicles 29:14

The heart's gratitude is all the saint can give in return for divine mercies that are fresh with every hour, and as numerous as the seconds in the day.

But if thanksgiving is good, remember thanks-living is better; therefore let your whole life join in the harmony! Live for Him who died for you! The highest praise that mortal saint can give, is the praise that vents itself in the exclamation, "For me, to live is Christ!"

Give Him your love. Nothing testifies to gratitude so much. Indeed, where love is lacking, no true praise can exist. Do not be afraid of loving Him too much. Do not fear being thought a fanatic, or considered an enthusiast. If you could love Him to a flaming passion — you would not love Him half enough. Give Him your love — He asks for it, and will pardon its weakness.