Sound Words for Pilgrims

Mar 11, 2011 at 04:40 o\clock

Christ in the Song of Solomon (parts 1 & 2)

Christ in The Song of Solomon (1)

Jim Flanigan

"My Beloved"

We are honored to include this series from the pen of our esteemed brother, on the Song of Songs.

This delightful little book is full of Christ. He is in every chapter. Sometimes it may be just a glimpse; sometimes it is a lengthy portrayal. But always it is Christ. Is this why the title of the book is "The Song of Songs," as in the opening verse? It sings Christ, and there can be no greater or sweeter theme. Solomon was a prolific writer, and, like his father David before him, was an accomplished poet. It is perhaps fairly well known that Solomon wrote one thousand and five songs (1 Kings 4.32), but this one alone survives, and has been called "The Song par excellence." It is, like that lovely Psalm 45, "A Song of Loves," and love abides when all else is forgotten.

It cannot be determined with certainty in what order Solomon wrote the three books which bear his name. He has given us Proverbs, where he writes of things moral. He has given us Ecclesiastes, in which he deals with things natural. But the Song is unique; it is occupied with things spiritual.

The form of words in the title of the Song is a Hebrew way of expressing its superlative excellence. It is the Song of Songs. It is the best, the sweetest, the greatest of all songs. The same form of words is used in other places and always helps to exalt the Savior. In His deity He is "God of gods" (Dan 2:47). He is greater than the "Heaven of heavens," which cannot contain Him (2 Chron 2:6; 6:18). In wondrous grace He became a "Servant of servants" (Gen 9:25), the greatest of all Jehovah’s servants. Those who know Him and love Him have found Him to be the answer to earth’s "Vanity of vanities" (Eccl 1:2; 12:8). He is the grand antitype of that place of glory which we call the "Holy of Holies" (Exod 26:33). One day His true greatness will be universally recognized when He appears as "King of Kings and Lord of Lords" (Rev 19:16). It is a "Song of Songs" indeed, that sings of such a One as He!

There are two principal speakers in the Song: Solomon and the Shulamite, the King and His Bride. There are other secondary or subordinate voices heard throughout the Song, and these will be noticed in the course of our meditations.

The Song is, therefore, in the main, a dialogue of love, two persons in a happy and loving communion, almost vying with each other as to who can find the more excellent language and the most endearing words to extol the beauties and merits of the other. Some will interpret these as Messiah and a faithful remnant of Israel, and this indeed may be a very true interpretation. Others will see Christ and the Church in the Song; and yet others will detect the love of Christ and the individual believer. Perhaps the ground is too holy for argument or for cold theological niceties. Notice what these differing views have in common, however. The Bridegroom is always Christ, the Beloved of His people, whoever, and wherever, at any time, those people may be. It is surely a safe principle that wherever we may find language that exalts Him whom we love, we may borrow that language, and use it in our expressions of devotion, whether speaking to each other or to the Father. This is a song of communion. There is no reference to sin or to forgiveness in the Song. That is all settled and the Bride is in the enjoyment of a pure and stainless companionship with her Beloved.

Christ is called the Beloved almost forty times in the Song, but some twenty-five times the Bride calls Him, "My Beloved," and this personal attachment makes the relationship very precious indeed. Others have called Him "My Redeemer," "My Shepherd," "My Lord," and "My Savior." She calls Him, "My Beloved." The personal pronoun makes all the difference! So the saints love to sing -

Ten thousand charms around Him shine
But best of all – I know He’s mine.

The Shulamite speaks first, and the Song opens abruptly as she says, "Let Him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth." She earnestly desires an expression of His love for her. It is not that she doubts His love, but she longs for the affirmation and demonstration of it in His kiss. Such intimacy was unusual in Oriental custom and culture, where at times the spouse may never have seen the face of her bridegroom until the day of the marriage. Perhaps she is longing for that day, as do those who love Him now. It is often noticed that she does not name Him, but simply uses the pronoun "Him." "Let Him kiss me." He so fills her heart that it seems somehow everyone should know of whom she speaks. This is sometimes likened to Mary Magdalene, when, at the Garden Tomb, she speaks to the supposed gardener saying, "Sir, if thou have borne Him hence, tell me where thou hast laid Him, and I will take Him away." Three times Mary uses the pronoun "Him," apparently never feeling the need to use the name Jesus, or to identify the One concerning whom she speaks. Everyone should know! Mary’s heart is full of Christ, as the heart of the Shulamite is enraptured with Solomon, her beloved. As the quaint Matthew Henry says, "Those that are full of Christ themselves are ready to think that others should be so too!"

There are a variety of kisses in Scripture, almost too numerous to mention just now. They are associated with a variety of circumstances. Sadly, the first kiss, in Genesis 27:26-27, was a kiss of deception. Then there were kisses at moments of reunion and reconciliation. There were sad kisses too, with tears, at the moment of parting between Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah, as also between David and Jonathan. There are, in all, some thirty-five references to the kiss in the OT. This one is especially precious. It is the longing of the Bride for the love of her Beloved. May this be our longing too as we continue to muse upon Him in the Song!

http://www.truthandtidings.com/issues/2004/t20040107.php

Christ in The Song of Solomon (2)

Jim Flanigan

"In His Chambers"

There are five references to the King in the Song of Solomon. This is the first: "The King hath brought me into His chambers." "Chambers" is the Hebrew cheder, which denotes the inner apartments, the private parlor of the King. It is a picture of privacy and intimacy, where the Beloved and His Bride enjoy the companionship of one another in an atmosphere of undisturbed love.

Is this the response and answer to the Bride’s request, "Draw me?" She has desired this hallowed communion, and now it has been granted. Is not the longing of every redeemed heart to be drawn nearer to Him whom we love? There are distractions all around in the busy world. There are sights and sounds which would demand our attention, and so, sincerely, the saints sing

Nearer, still nearer, close to Thy heart,
Draw me, my Savior, so precious Thou art.
Fold me, O fold me, close to Thy breast,
Shelter me safe in that haven of rest.

Notice the change in the pronoun. She says, "Draw me," and adds, "We will run after thee." The ardent movements of the inividual believer toward Christ have an influence upon others who now also desire the companionship and presence of the King. While it is true, of course, that the Bride enjoys an intimacy which others do not, still, her attachment to the King does draw other hearts to him. It has been pointed out by another that in that other well-known love story, Ruth was not initially attracted to Boaz. It was what she saw of the dealings of the Almighty with Naomi that influenced the girl from Moab and created desires in her heart for the tender El Shaddai, for Bethlehem, and for the people of God.

It is solemn and sobering to think that what I am, and what I do, will have a bearing on other saints. How good it is then that we should ever be in the enjoyment of the King’s presence so that others will be attracted to Him also!

But how then, the exercised younger believer might ask, can I know His presence? How may I know the sweetness of the communion of the inner chambers of the Beloved? In some sense the answer is simple, and yet, in the bustling world in which we live, perhaps it may prove rather difficult. This is a quiet place, the inner apartments, far removed from the restless world around us; but ready access is available to every heart that loves Him through the privilege of prayer and attendance to His Word.

Like the Holiest of all in Israel’s tabernacle, there may indeed be a certain loneliness in that awful presence. With what trepidation the High Priest must have gone within the veil! Thousands of priests on a lower plane than he would draw close to the veil at times but would never see beyond or behind it. It was a solitary privilege granted to one man, once a year, to enter into the glory of the Holiest. But with the believer now it is different. In the sweet privilege of bridal affection we now enter with a holy familiarity, having been invited to come boldly. The spiritual heart may now enter the inner chambers of the King with reverent confidence. This means withdrawal from the world at times, just to commune in quietness with Him. Sometimes it may be just to breathe out our requests to Him, to draw near in our times of need. We do have an invitation to come to find grace at such times.

However, how He must appreciate it when we come there to worship! And what is worship? J. N. Darby’s definition is hard to improve upon. He says, "Worship is the honor and adoration rendered to God for what He is in Himself, and for what He means to those who render it." It must delight the heart of God when we come near just to speak well of our Beloved, just to say what we have found in Him and what He means to us. This is the privilege of the inner chambers. It is communion with divine Persons.

The blessed quietness of the King’s inner apartments is conducive to meditation, and the Bride says, "We will remember." So it is that, drawn aside from a busy life and a noisy world, the believer in precious contemplation has time and opportunity to remember. What memories fill our hearts in His presence! Exalted King though He is, we remember the days of His flesh, the lowliness of Bethlehem, the simplicity of His manger-bed, and His swaddling bands. We remember the Boy of Nazareth, living for the Father’s pleasure. We remember the lowly Man of Galilee, who brought fragrance to Cana, to Sychar, to Bethany, dispensing blessing on every hand in His preaching, teaching, and healing. But then, we remember Gethsemane, Gabbatha, Golgotha, and a Garden Tomb. How can we truly remember and not worship?

We will remember Thy love! We have, in wondrous grace, been brought into a circle of love. "The Father loveth the Son" (John 3:35). So it was from eternal ages, the Son in the bosom of the Father. And the Son said, "I love the Father" (John 14:31). Then He said, "The Father Himself loveth you" (John 16:37). And the story continues as He says, "As the Father hath loved Me so have I loved you" (John 15:9). Each individual believer can then say, in the blessed realization of it all, "The Son of God loved me" (Gal 2:20), and together we exclaim, "We love Him because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19). Then at times, when vocabulary fails us, we simply say, "Lord, Thou knowest all things, Thou knowest that I love Thee (John 21:17). A circle of divine love indeed, and in the quietness of the inner chambers of the King we say, "We will remember Thy love more than wine." His love is sweeter than all the accumulated joys that earth can offer. Those joys are transient. His love abides forever, and we remember.

http://www.truthandtidings.com/issues/2004/t20040107.php

Mar 5, 2011 at 20:25 o\clock

Proverbs (part 2)

Proverbs: Primer for Princes (2)

David Oliver

The Sayings Scrutinized

All who read Proverbs must surely recognize that the book is "profitable . . . for instruction in righteousness" (2 Tim 3:16). One of the primary purposes of education is to mold the student’s mind into a way of thinking. If the thinking pattern of Proverbs became internalized, we would have "the mind of Christ," Who embodies the "wisdom that is from above" (James 3:17). Here, overseers, parents, spouses, children’s workers, and all soul winners find cardinal principles to guide them in their God-given responsibilities.

Their Probable Intent

Several factors suggest that these proverbs initially addressed princes in their late teens and early twenties. First, rulers are the source of each section of Proverbs (see the previous article). Second, as a young man, Solomon learned his need of wisdom in order to rule God’s people (2Ch 1:10). Third, Wisdom says, "By me, kings reign" (Prov 8:15), and many of the proverbs deal with princes and kings and with justice and rule. Add to that at least fifteen times in the first nine chapters when the king passionately pleads with "my son" to heed wisdom and act wisely. Good kings recognized a ruler’s need for wisdom and wanted to prepare their sons for that responsibility. Although Solomon "pondered and sought out and set in order many proverbs" in order to teach the people, he directs the lesson primarily to his son (Eccl 12:9-13 JND). In the first six verses of Proverbs, Solomon states their central purpose: "To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity" (v 3: instruction). This instruction will give wisdom to the uninstructed and the young (v 4: impartation) so they will recognize wisdom and discern what contributes to it (v 2: insight), and be able to interpret and apply these proverbs (v 6: interpretation). Considering the content of the early chapters of Proverbs, a father was addressing young men sufficiently mature to understand marital fidelity but still single and young enough to directly heed their father’s advice.

Proverbs may therefore have been the basis for education in the kings’ court. It is a primer for princes but instructs all of us who need wisdom and who desire, as was the responsibility of kings, to see God’s will effected in our lives and the lives of others.

Their Prudent Interpretation

These proverbs exemplify Hebrew thought processes and the communication style of an agrarian society. In contrast to exact communication, proverbs are indirect, picturesque, subtle, yet powerful. Proverbs do with words what parables do with stories. The word for proverb (mashal) may mean "be like, compared to, represents." If we begin to analyze all the details of the comparison, we miss the message. Consider "As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country" (25:25). Some thirsty souls prefer hot tea. The thirsty need to be careful the water is not too cold. Such details are irrelevant; this proverb paints a general picture but is not about water and thirst. To interpret it, we consider the parallel implications of the word picture. Thoughtfulness, expressed in a "cup of cold water" or in directing good news to waiting ears, changes longing, necessity, preoccupation, and increasing debility into refreshment, relief, and renewed strength. All that and more are in the word picture, but that explanation certainly lacks the power and beauty of the proverb itself.

The introduction to the book informs us that we need wisdom to understand and interpret a proverb (1:5, 6). Here is an illustration: "Answer not a fool according to his folly" and "Answer a fool according to his folly" (26:4, 5) are not absolute statements, otherwise, they are contradictory. The remainder of each verse helps to guide us. Wisdom knows when and how to apply these principles. The proverbs therefore are principles to guide us, not promises to guarantee results. For example, "He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread" is not a promise that every farmer who plows in the Spring will have an abundant harvest the next Fall. This proverb tells us that the desired result is dependent on diligent preparation.

Their Profound Interrelation

The three major divisions of the Old Testament, which are Moses, the Psalms, and the Prophets (Luke 24:44), relate to Proverbs. First, like the Law, these proverbs inculcate righteousness, but from the viewpoint of experience and God’s character written into creation (8:30), an inductive approach. The Law speaks with authority based on God’s revealed character and holiness. This is rather a deductive approach. Second, the seven "blessed" passages of Proverbs (3:13; 8:32, 34; 14:21; 16:20; 28:14; 29:18) relate to that often repeated pronouncement in the Psalms, including the six "Asher" psalms, those that begin with "Blessed" (1, 32, 41, 112, 119, 128). The connection of wisdom and the fear of the Lord (Prov 1:7; 9:10) is in both Job (28:28) and Psalms (111:10). Proverbs rightly belongs in this section of the Old Testament. Third, Proverbs is concerned with personal and national righteousness, a theme which the prophets echo.

In addition, at least six New Testament passages quote Proverbs (3:11, 12 with Hebrews 12:5, 6; 3:34 with James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5; 25:21, 22 with Romans 12:20; 26:11 with 2 Peter 2:22; 11:31 LXX with 1 Peter 4:18). James’ style is reminiscent of the Proverb’s pithy, direct, moralistic style. His content has at least 30 reminders of Proverbs. Without doubt, when James wrote about "the wisdom that is from above" (3:17), he was thinking of the Man Who grew up in the same home as he did. The Lord claimed to have wisdom exceeding Solomon’s (Matt 12:42) and to be the source of wisdom (23:34), which Paul also claims for Him (Col 2:3). The relationship between Wisdom (Prov 8:22-31) and the Lord Jesus is clear; it undergirds important New Testament Christological passages (John 1:1-4; Col 1:15, 20; Heb 1:1, 3).

Their Practical Insights

When you read a proverb, it springs to life as you relate a Bible character to its truth. Samson, Ruth, Peter, Jacob, Elizabeth, David, and many more Bible friends are hiding in the forest of Proverbs. When you read about the righteous, the poor, the diligent, sons, or the wise, you can compare and contrast the statements to the Lord Jesus. Although stripes are "for the back of fools" (19:29) and that may reflect the intent of those who scourged Him, yet He gave His back to the shame inflicted by the smiters (Isa 50:6).

How often have you read a proverb in the morning and found it applicable before evening? "He that walketh uprightly walketh securely" (Prov 10:9) is a powerful guideline for any day of the week. Consistent integrity yields long-term security; what a principle for a lifetime! Relationships with others, words with their power, character with its value, business decisions with their implications, wealth with its potential for good or ill, and so many other subjects bespeak the relevance of wisdom. The degree to which the wisdom of this book prevails in our lives is the degree to which we are like Christ. The articles that follow in this series will have much to say about practical Christianity.

Their Perfect Ideal

The theology of Proverbs is concise, but significant. On average, direct references to God occur more than three times per chapter. In those references, His character predominates: He is sovereign, omniscient, omnipotent, faithful, holy, and just. The primary issue in Proverbs (1:7; 9:10) is knowing and revering God. When this is right, then relationships with others will become right as well. Our "knowledge of the Holy" (9:10; 30:3) defines how we live.

For believers, living in harmony with the universe is not naturalism; it is living by the principles that a wise God wove inextricably into His physical and moral universe. It is living in a vibrant relationship with "the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ." This is the ideal of Proverbs.

http://www.truthandtidings.com/issues/2006/t20060302.php 

Mar 5, 2011 at 20:24 o\clock

Proverbs (part 1)

Proverbs: Primer for Princes (1)

David Oliver

This article introduces a series on Proverbs, with contributions from various brethren.

The Structure Analyzed

A proverb a day keeps the devil away" is as easily remembered as its mother adage, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." Both likely have the same (lack of) truth value, but the comparison is hardly fair to doctors. Nonetheless, a daily chapter in Proverbs is common and profitable reading in many Christian homes. Its thirty-one chapters fit the longest months. Even better, the ancient wisdom and daily relevance of this inspired book fit the needs of younger and older alike.

Their Plenary Inspiration

Considering at least chapter 30, Solomon is not the source of all the proverbs in this book. According to Solomon’s own words (Eccl 12:9), he studied, searched for, and set in order many proverbs, so he may not be the original source of these proverbs. By their nature, proverbs seem to develop by oral tradition. That Solomon spoke 3000 proverbs, of which less than 400 are in Proverbs, may simply imply that he was wise enough to store up the ancient wisdom available to him. Also, his life was inconsistent with what the book’s first nine chapters teach. That may indicate he is quoting his father’s instruction to him (see 4:3), rather than preaching what he himself didn’t practice. Obviously though, that instruction influenced his request for wisdom from God (1Ki 3:9, 12). Although some of the proverbs he spoke were not recognized as part of the Scriptures until over 250 years later in Hezekiah’s reign (25:1), yet the Spirit of God moved the original sources to speak them (2Pe 1:21), preserved the words through the centuries, and superintended their recognition (about 2600 of Solomon’s proverbs were not included). The recorded proverbs are God-breathed (2Ti 3:16). The inspiration of Scripture is amazing!

Their Preliminary Information

The simplest division of the book includes the introduction (1:1-6) and five sections, marked by their opening verse: 1:7- chapter 9; chapters 10-24; chapters 25-29; chapter 30; chapter 31. If, as suggested, David is the source of the first 9 chapters, they embody the instruction of a father (Israel’s greatest king) to a son - Pleas of a Ruler in His Tutelage. The last section embodies the instruction of a mother (perhaps Solomon’s) to the same son - Pointers for a Ruler in His Training. The second section titled "The Proverbs of Solomon" records the wisdom of Israel’s most glorious king - Pearls of a Ruler in His Teaching. One possible translation of the title of the fourth section is "The sayings of Agur, son of Jakeh of Massa . . ." (NIV, mg.). If this is the Bible’s only recorded Massa (Genesis 25:14, 16), he is among the earliest recorded rulers. One text of verse one reads, ". . . I am weary, O God . . ." Trying to know God, he was weary, a brute beast before a transcendent God (30:2, 3) - Principles From a Ruler in His Tiredness. If Solomon had retained this wisdom, (see also 9:10), how different his life and influence would have been! The third section (chapters 25-29) contains proverbs that Solomon spoke, but that were of great value to Hezekiah, a king who knew God and trusted Him as did no other kings (2Ki 18:5) - Provisions for a Ruler in His Trials.

Observing the form of the proverbs helps to understand them. Primarily, they are Hebrew poetry. As such, they are based not on rhythm and rhyme but on a parallelism and balance of thought. The first nine chapters are primarily narrative or protracted poetry, as are the "words of the wise" (22:17 - 24:34). The last 22 verses (31:10-31) are alphabetical, probably pedagogical poetry. The remainder of the book is pithy poetry, concise and memorable. The poetic balance of most proverbs is within one verse; some are two verses in length, and a few extend further, up to 5 verses (30:24-28). Noting these connections helps to interpret the proverbs.

Basically, the parallelism in the lines of poetry is either synonymous (using repetition to emphasize), antithetical (using contrasts, often presenting a choice), or synthetic (building or completing the thought). The repetition of words or phrases helps to give structure to the book. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of" knowledge or wisdom (1:7; 9:10) forms brackets around the first section of the book. Related words, like tongue, lips, words, and mouth, give us some hints about groupings of proverbs. Observing that the proverbs copied in Hezekiah’s day have specific relevance to his circumstances unifies those chapters (25-29). Since the book is the result of the Spirit’s inspiration, we may expect that it is more than a random collection of sayings.

Their Prospecting Illustrations

With these suggestions in mind, as we do some prospecting in Proverbs, we’ll look for some fine gold. One proverb that gives a basic principle for the entire book is in the form of synonymous parallelism: "Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner" (11:31). The synonymous repetition is in the understood form of the two parts of the proverb. The righteous will be recompensed in the earth; the wicked and sinner will be recompensed in the earth. The first word, "behold," draws attention to a truth we shouldn’t miss. This truth underlies the book of Proverbs. We often focus on the fact that righteousness will have eternal results. This book assures us of a positive result in this life when we express God’s character in our daily living. But, says the proverb, if that is true, how much more will it be true for the wicked and sinners. Why "much more"? Is it because of the manifold frustration, self-destruction, disappointment, and hurtfulness of evil that visits the sinner? Is it because the greater the opposition to God, the greater the certainty of a disastrous outcome?

Another example of synonymous parallelism shows how the forms vary: "The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom; and before honor is humility" (15:33). Here the equivalence of the parallel statements is reversed. Before a person receives the instruction of wisdom, he will have the fear of the Lord (see 9:10). Before a person receives honor, he will have humility. But notice the parallelism in the expressions. Receiving wisdom and being honored are equated (4:7, 8). Solomon’s request for wisdom at the beginning of his reign was inseparable from the honor the Lord promised him (2Ch 1:12). Also, humility and the fear of God are equated. Our preoccupation with self and our preoccupation with God vary inversely.

Two quite similar proverbs exemplify synthetic parallelism: "The law (or teaching, JND) of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death" (13:14); "The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death" (14:27). In both cases, the second part of the proverb ("to depart . . ." and "that one may turn . . .") completes the thought of the first part. In the first case, the benefit is to others; in the second, to one’s self. Actually, "depart" and "turn away" translate the same word. Both of these verses should be interpreted with the verses that precede them, but just noting their similarity helps for now. Those who heed what the wise teach them will find satisfaction and will be preserved from the wiles of evil. Likewise, one who reveres the Lord will enjoy the same results. Again, notice the equivalence of heeding wisdom and having the fear of the Lord.

Finally, let’s look at examples of antithetical parallelism. "Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands" (14:1). The conjunction "but" joining two lines of a proverb is often (but not always) the clue that the lines are antithetical. That is the case here where the wise woman and the foolish woman are opposites, as are building and plucking down. By her words, actions, and example, a wise woman recognizes and nurtures the highest potential for God that each one in her house possesses. The addition of the words, "with her own hands," may be a telling extension of the contrast. The foolish woman may work hard with her hands in caring for her family, but if not guided by wisdom, even her diligence will be destructive to her family. How broad and searching that is! Thank God for women like Rachel and Leah, who, though imperfect women, were builders (Ruth 4:11)!

As an example of a reversal in an antithetical proverb, consider "Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil: but to the counsellors of peace is joy" (12:20). Those who devise evil are the opposite of those who consult with others to effect peace (ultimate well-being). But between deceit and joy there is a reversal. Deceit within produces the plan to harm others. Judas is the sad illustration of this. Joy doesn’t produce the plan for peace, but, as with Mordecai, the man who brings peace to his brothers (Est 10:3) produces joy for them (8:15-17). Understood in the antithesis is the incompatibility of deceit and joy: deceit cannot produce joy; joy does not need deceit to exist. The exemplar of the last part of this proverb is no less than our Lord. To make peace for us (Col 1:20), He endured the cross and its shame, because His faith affirmed the truth that "to the counsellors of peace is joy," and He fixed His eye on that certain outcome, "the joy that was set before Him" (Heb 12:2).

http://www.truthandtidings.com/issues/2006/t20060202.php

Dec 12, 2010 at 04:50 o\clock

Paul - preaching Christ

Paul was . . .

...
an extraordinary man,

called to an extraordinary office, and

being sent to perform an extraordinary work

--he chose an extraordinary subject.

He knew history,

he was acquainted with philosophy, and

he was well versed in tradition.

There were . . .

few subjects that he could not handle,

few themes that he could not discuss,

few congregations that he could not interest.

But he made the conversion of sinners the object of his life--and he chose Christ crucified to be the subject of his ministry!

No matter where he went--he took his subject with him.

No matter whom he addressed--he directed their attention to this point.

He knew what man required--and what man preferred; but it made no matter to him. As he wrote to the Corinthians, so he always acted, "Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified--a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God!" 1 Corinthians 1:22-24

Paul's subject then, was Christ Crucified!

Paul CHOSE this subject--and he had good reasons for doing so!

First, it is a most comprehensive subject,

for it is the center where . . .

time and eternity,

God and man,

sin and holiness,

life and death--meet!

It is the theater where God . . .

displays His perfections,

unfolds His purposes,

maintains His rights,

confounds His foes, and

secures His glory!

It is the instrument by which . . .

death is destroyed,

sin is conquered,

rebels are reconciled,

saints are sanctified, and

heaven is opened!

It is an object which . . .

confounds reason,

astonishes angels,

attracts sinners,

imparts holiness, and

furnishes matter for endless praise!

Second, it is the most honored subject.

It tunes the harps of heaven.

It fills the sweetest songs on earth.

It is that by which the Holy Spirit works . . .

in the conversion of sinners,

in the consolation of saints,

in the sanctification of believers, and

in the establishment of the church of God.

By the preaching of Christ crucified . . .

the oracles of the heathen were silenced,

the altars of the heathen were cast down, and

the temples of the heathen were transformed into houses of prayer.

By the preaching of the cross . . .

society is elevated,

nations are honored, and

millions are snatched from Hell!

Third, it is a subject that is intensely hated!

Devils hate it, and try to prevent its publication.

Erroneous men hate it, and try to substitute something of their own for it.

And just in proportion as men are influenced by the prince of darkness, or yield to the pride of their own fallen natures--will they hate the doctrine of the cross!

But all Christians love it,

all the ministers of Christ glory in it,

all poor perishing sinners need it!

The more we know of God's nature and government--the more we see of man's natural state and condition.

And the more we feel of our own weakness and depravity--the more shall we prize and value the doctrine of the cross!

Christ, and Him crucified shall be . . .

the subject of my ministry,

the theme of my songs,

the joy of my heart, and

the foundation of my everlasting hope!

O my soul, look to Jesus--as crucified for your sins!

Think of Jesus--as dying in your stead!

Speak of Jesus--as full of grace and love!

Christians! WHAT do we preach?

We are ALL preachers--and we preach daily!

But do we preach Christ?

Do we speak of Him with our tongues?

Do we write of Him with our pens?

Do we honor Him with our lives?

Is Christ and His glory--the grand end and aim of our life?

WHY do we preach Christ?

Is it out of love to Him?

Is it that we may do good to souls?

Is it that we may please God?

Christ crucified should be preached by every Christian.

Christ crucified should be preached in all companies.

Christ crucified should be preached every day.

Beloved,

if we would save souls from death,

if we would rescue sinners from eternal misery,

if we would make believers happy,

if we would cover Satan with shame,

if we would deprive death of its sting, and

if we would make the road to glory plain--

we must preach Christ crucified;

we must exercise faith in Christ crucified;

and we must daily meditate on Christ crucified!

May Christ and His cross be all my theme!

May Christ and His cross be all my hope!

May Christ and His cross be all my joy!

Cross of Jesus! Jesus crucified!

To you would I look in life--and all its troubles!

To you would I look in death--and all its pangs!

To you would I look in glory--when filled with all its joys!

"God forbid, that I should glory, except in the cross of my Lord Jesus Christ!"
(James Smith, "Rills from the Rock of Ages", 1860)

Nov 25, 2010 at 18:40 o\clock

No place like home

Home, sweet home! There is no place like home!

(James Smith, "Rills from the Rock of Ages", 1860)

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

The day of life with them is ended. Its duties are ended. Its responsibilities are past. Its hours are fled away.

What a trying day some of them had! How stormy. How sultry. How often overcast. How gloomy. But it is now past--and past forever! The toils of the wilderness are over! They had much to afflict and pain them . . .
  a difficult and dangerous journey,
  a long wearisome march,
  many a heavy cross to carry,
  many a stubborn foe to face,
  many a painful doubt,
  numerous gloomy fears.
But now the wilderness is all behind them! The afflictions of the pilgrimage are terminated. Those sufferings were sharp, and some of them continued long. Many of them were endured in secret without sympathy, and without relief. They were soul sorrows, agony of mind--as well as sharp pains of body. But however multiplied, however severe, however protracted those sorrows--they are past and gone, never, never to return!

The sweetest repose is now enjoyed. The poor tabernacle has been taken down, and is laid in a quiet resting-place, until the resurrection morning. The soul is gone to be with Jesus. It has traveled through the rough path of life--and is now in God's presence, where there is fullness of joy, and pleasures for evermore!

As Christians, we are going to the same place. The graves will soon be ready for our bodies--and the mansions of glory for our souls. We are going home! Home to our Father's house! Home where our hearts have long been. Home where all our prayers will be answered, and all our best desires will be gratified. "Home, sweet home! There is no place like home!" Especially our home! A paradise without a tempting serpent! A paradise where all are holy, all are safe, all are happy. Those pure and perpetual joys, which are at God's right hand, await us! We taste them now, and are delighted with a sip--but there we shall soon drink full draughts of eternal glory, eternal joy, and eternal blessedness!

Amidst present toils and trials, dangers and distresses--when wearied, way-worn, and tempted to fret--remember that you will soon be HOME! Think, think, O my soul, of an eternity of enjoyment--when the sufferings of time are ended! "Weeping may remain for a night--but rejoicing comes in the morning!" Psalm 30:5

Nov 11, 2010 at 20:55 o\clock

More of Christ !

More of Christ! More of Christ!

by James Smith, 1860


What is it my soul, which causes this uneasiness, this dissatisfaction, this deep inward yearning after something which you have not, or do not at present enjoy? I am not at rest. I am not rejoicing in God. I am not singing from the heights of Zion. Yet, I have no slavish fears, I have no gloomy doubts of my saving interest in Christ, I have no actual dread of death or the judgment. But I feel a desire to climb higher, to know more, and to enjoy the power of religion within — as I have not of late. It seems to me that all my needs lead me to Christ, and all my desires go out toward Christ. I want — well, what do I want?

I want to feel more of my NEED of Christ. I have imagined at times, that I could not have a deeper sense of my need of Christ, and of all that Christ is, and has — than I have already experienced. But I am persuaded now that I may, and that only in proportion as I daily feel my need of Christ — shall I desire to know him, trust in him, and enjoy him. I know theoretically, that I need Christ in every office which he sustains, in every relationship which he fills, and in every character which he has assumed. I need him not only to rescue me from death — but to feed me, clothe me, teach me, keep me, guide me, and comfort me. I need him to do all for me, and all within me — which either God, or my circumstances require. O to feel more of my need of Jesus, that I may not be happy one moment — but only as I look to him, lean on him, and receive from him!

I want to KNOW more of Christ. O how little do I really know of Christ! I have thought of him, spoken of him, and wrote about him — but how little I really know of him. I want to know more of the person of Christ, more of the grace of Christ, and more of the work of Christ. I want to know more of Christ for me, and more of Christ within me. I want to know more of the words of Christ, and more of the heart of Christ. I want to know Jesus as God's Christ — and as my Christ. I want so to know Christ, as never to doubt his love, question his veracity, or to fear his coming. Yes, so to know him — as to devote myself wholly to him, and be ready at any time to depart and be with him!

I want more AFFECTION for Christ. Yes, I want to love Jesus — and to feel that I love him. I want to love him — and to prove by my conversation, conduct, and spirit — that I do so love him. There ought to be no doubt on my own mind on this point — but I should be ready to say, "I love him — because he first loved me." There ought to be no cause or occasion for any who know me, to question whether I love him. O no, his love should so influence my conduct, and his love should so season my conversation — that all about me may feel sure, that if I love anyone, I love Jesus. O that the Holy Spirit would shed abroad the love of Christ in my heart more and more — that my love to him may be as strong as death!

I want to realize more sensibly my UNION with Christ. Christ is the head of the church, and all the true members of that church are in union with him. I cannot but believe that I am one with Christ. I often feel as if I could not live without Christ. But I want daily and hourly to live under the impression — that Christ and my soul are one. That I am a member of his body, of his flesh and of his bones. What privilege can exceed this — to be united to Christ! Then, because he lives — I shall live also. Then he will use his influence for me, spend his wealth upon me, and desire to have me with him to behold his glory. O Jesus, dwell more sensibly in my heart, and let me dwell more sensibly in you!

I want more COMMUNION with Christ. Communion flows from union — and proves its vitality. No union to Christ — no communion with Christ. And if there is no communion with Christ — then there is no evidence of union to Christ. The branch being one with the vine — receives its life, sap, and nourishment from the vine. Just so, we being one with Christ — receive our spiritual life, holiness, and happiness from Christ. The member lives, grows, and is strong — because it is in union with the head. Just so, the believer lives, grows, and is strong — because he is in union with Christ, the head. In proportion as we realize our union with Christ, will be the sweetness and constancy of our communion with Christ. And in proportion to the sweetness and constancy of our communion with Christ — will be the assurance of our union to Christ. O for more sweet, sanctifying, and soul-ennobling communion with Jesus!

I want more ASSIMILATION to Christ. What I see in Christ I admire, and I admire all that I see in Christ. But admiration is not enough. I want to be like Jesus, just like him — altogether like him. The more I am with him, and the more I see of him — the more I sigh, cry, and long to be like him! I think one may live at such a distance from Christ, and have so little to do with Christ — that he may not be very anxious or desirous to be like him. But I am sure that we cannot be much in his company, or be led by the Holy Spirit, to see much of his moral and spiritual beauty — but we shall desire to be fully like him. At times, this seems to be the one thing needful with me, the one thing that I desire of the Lord — that I may be like Jesus. But it is not always so, it is not sufficiently so — therefore I cannot but wish for more assimilation to Christ.

I want to be fully POSSESSED of Christ. Not only to be like him — but to be with him — not only with him in grace — but with him in glory! I am sure that I shall never be perfectly satisfied — until I have Christ always with me — until I am always with him in his Father's home and kingdom. This is promised me, I must believe the promise, and wait for its fulfillment. Soon it will be true in my experience, "Absent from the body — present with the Lord." I shall "depart and be with Christ — which is far better" than being here, distant from him, and so often sighing for the enjoyment of him! Then I shall possess Christ! Then I shall be fully satisfied with the presence of Christ.

O Lord, let me have a deeper sense of my saving interest in Christ now, let me enjoy more of him while on earth — and then I know that I shall be satisfied when I awake up in his glorious likeness!

Now it seems to me that these things go together, or naturally follow each other:

In proportion as I feel my need of Christ — I shall desire to know Christ — to know him fully, to know him experimentally.

In proportion as I know Christ — shall I desire to set my affections on Christ, and to love him with an unquenchable love.

Just in proportion to my love to him — will be my desire to realize close and vital union to him.

In proportion as I realize my union to Christ — shall I want to have and enjoy communion with Christ.

In proportion as I enjoy communion with Christ — shall I long for assimilation to Christ.

And as I long for assimilation to Christ — shall I desire fully to possess him, and to be forever with him!

Reader, do you know anything about these things? I have written these lines out of my own heart, and they express the feelings and desires of my soul.

If I know anything — I do know in a degree my need of Christ.

If I desire anything — I do desire to know Christ.

If I wish to love at all — I wish to love Christ supremely.

If I prize anything — I prize union to Christ.

If I desire anything — I desire communion with Christ.

If I aspire to anything — I aspire to be like Christ.

If I am persuaded that I shall be satisfied with anything — I am persuaded that I shall be satisfied with the presence and possession of Christ.

All my religion finds its center in Christ!

My whole creed begins, goes on, and ends with Christ!

I value doctrines — but I set more value on Christ!

I prize ordinances — but I think more highly of Christ!

With me it is — Christ first, Christ middle, Christ last!

Reader, is it so with you?

Oct 30, 2010 at 06:30 o\clock

Everlasting Love

EVERLASTING LOVE

"How precious also are Your thoughts unto me, O God!"

I have loved you, My people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to Myself. Jeremiah 31:3

Here we have an everlasting thought of God, "in the beginning, before ever the earth was." Believer, travel back in imagination to the ages of the past. Before the trance of eternity was broken by any visible manifestation of power—before one temple was erected in space, before one angel waved his wing, or one note was heard of seraph's song—when God inhabited alone these sublime solitudes—then there was a thought of you, and that thought was—Love!

Think of the sovereignty of that love. He says not, 'You have loved Me with your poor earthly love, therefore have I drawn you.' No, no! It is from nothing in you—no foreseen goodness on your part. Grace is the reason of all He has done—"God who is rich in mercy for His great love with which He loved us." "I will have mercy," is His own declaration—on whom I will have mercy." "Jacob," (that cunning, scheming, crafty youth,) "I have loved."

Manasseh, (that miserable man who has defiled his crown, dishonored his throne, and deluged Jerusalem with blood,) "I have loved." That dying thief—fresh from a life of infamy, breathing out his blasphemies on a felon's cross—"I have loved." And why, let each of us ask, am I not a Cain or a Judas? Why am I not a wrecked and stranded vessel, like thousands before me? Here is the reason; "Yes, I have loved you." Before you had one thought of Me, yes, when your thoughts were those of hatred, rebellion, enmity—My thoughts towards you were thoughts of love!

And that Sovereign love, as it is from everlasting, so is it to everlasting—endless in duration—enduring as eternity. The love of the creature is but of yesterday—it may be gone tomorrow—dried like a summer-brook when most needed. But the love of God is fed from the glacier summits—the everlasting hills. We may estimate its intensity, when the Savior could utter regarding it such a prayer as this, "That the love with which You have loved Me, may be in them."

Oh, amid the often misgivings of my own doubting heart, with its frames and feelings vacillating as the shifting sand, let me delight to ponder this precious thought—the long line of unbroken love—every link love—connecting the eternity that is past with the eternity to come—God thinking of me before the birth of time—even then mapping out all my future happiness and heavenly bliss—and standing now, with the hoarded love of that eternity in His heart, seeking therewith to "draw" me!

It is "the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness towards us through Christ Jesus"—the moral gravitation-power of the cross, by which His true people have ever been drawn. "I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Myself." Draw me, Lord, and I will run after You. Show me Your loving-kindness thus enshrined and manifested in Your dear Son. Constrain me to love You in Him, because You have first loved, and so loved, me."

How priceless is Your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of Your wings. Psalm 36:7

Oct 21, 2010 at 03:58 o\clock

Quotes from Richard Sibbes (part 10)

Prayer

148. Prayer exercises all the graces of the Spirit; we cannot pray, but our faith is exercised, our love, our patience, which makes us set a high price upon that we seek after and to use it well.

149. It is not so easy a matter to pray as men think, and that in regard of the unspiritualness of our nature compared with the duty itself which is to draw near to a holy God; we cannot endure to sever ourselves from our lusts. There is also a great rebellion in our hearts against anything that is good. Satan also is a special enemy. When we go to God by prayer, the devil knows we go to fetch help and strength against him, and therefore he opposes all he can; but though many men mumble over a few prayers, yet indeed no man can pray as he ought but he that is within the covenant of grace and by the Holy Ghost.

150. A child of God may pray and not be heard, because at that time he may be a child under displeasure. If any sin lie unrepented of we are not in a fit state to pray. Will a king regard the petition of a traitor that purposes to go on in his rebellion, or a father hear a disobedient child? Therefore when we come to God, we should renew our repentance, faith and purposes of better pleasing Him, and then remember the Scripture and search all the promises as part of our best riches, and when we have them, we should humbly challenge God with His own promises. This will make us strong and faithful in our prayers when we know we never pray to Him in vain.

151. In prayer we tempt God if we ask that which we labor not for; our faithful endeavors must second our devotion, for to ask maintenance and not put our hands to the work is only to knock at the door and yet pull the door to us that it might not open. In this case, if we pray for grace and neglect the spring from whence it comes, how can we speed? It was a rule in ancient time, "Lay your hand to the plough and then pray." No man should pray without ploughing, nor plough without prayer.

152. When we pray God oftentimes refuses to give us comfort because we are not on good terms with Him; therefore we should still look back to our past life. Perhaps God sees you running to this or that sin, and before He will hear you, you must renew your repentance for that sin, for our nature is such that it will knock at every door and seek every corner before we will come to God, like the woman in the Gospel - she sold all before she came to Christ - so that God will not hear before we forsake all helps and all false dependence upon the creature, and then He gets the greatest glory and we have the greatest sweetness to our souls. That water which comes from the fountain is the sweetest, and so divine comfort is the sweetest when we see nothing in the creature, and God is the best discerner of the fittest time to bestow His own consolations.

153. When God means to bestow any blessing on His church or children He will pour out upon them the spirit of prayer and, as all pray for everyone, so everyone prays for all; this is a great comfort to weak Christians when they cannot pray, that the prayers of others shall prevail for them.

154. When we shoot an arrow, we look to the fall of it; when we send a ship to sea, we look for its return; and when we sow seed, we look for a harvest; so likewise when we sow our prayers, through Christ, in God's bosom, shall we not look for an answer and observe how we speed? It is a seed of atheism to pray and not to look how we speed. But a sincere Christian will pray and wait, and strengthen his heart with promises out of the Word, and never leave praying and looking up till God gives him a gracious answer.

Sin

155. If we would make it evident that our conversion is sound we must loathe and hate sin from the heart; now a man shall know his hatred of evil to be true, first if it be universal. He that hates sin truly hates all sin. Secondly, where there is true hatred it is fixed; there is no appeasing it, but by abolishing the thing it hates. Thirdly, hatred is a more rooted affection than anger; anger may be appeased, but hatred is against the whole kind. Fourthly, if our hatred be true, we hate all evil in ourselves first, and then in others. He that hates a toad would hate it most in his own bosom. Many like Judah are severe in censuring others but are partial to themselves (Genesis 38:24). Fifthly, he that hates sin truly, hates the greatest sin in the greatest measure; he hates all evil in a just proportion. Sixthly, our hatred is right if we can endure admonition and reproof for sin and not be enraged with him that tells us of it; therefore those that swell against reproof, hate not sin; only with this caution, it may be done with such indiscretion and self-love that a man may hate the reprover's proud manner. In disclosing our hatred of sin in others, we must consider our calling; it must be done in a sweet temper, reserving due respect to those to whom reproof is offered, that it may be done out of true zeal, and not out of anger nor pride.

156. There are some sins that let Satan loose upon us. Such as first, pride. We see it in Paul, "And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure" (2 Cor. 12:7). Secondly, conceitedness and presumption, as we may see in Peter. "Peter answered and said unto Him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended" (Matt. 26:33). Thirdly, security, which is always the forerunner of some great punishment or great sin (which also is a punishment) as we see in David. Fourthly, idleness: it is the hour of temptation when a man is out of God's business. Fifthly, intemperance, either in diet or otherwise. Therefore Christ commands us to pray and watch, and keep to sobriety in the use of created things. Sixthly, there is a more subtle intemperance of passion. In whatever degree we give way to wrath and revenge and covetousness, in that degree Satan has advantage against us. Seventhly, when a man will not believe and submit to truths revealed, though likewise natural truths. Therefore "God gave them up unto vile affections" (Rom. 1:26), because they would not cherish the light of nature, much more when we do not cherish the light of His grace.

157. Christians find their corruptions more offensive to them than when they were in the state of nature, and therefore it is that they think their state is not good, but corruption boils more because it is restrained.

158. As the woman in the law, when she was forced by any man, if she cried out was then blameless; so if we unfeignedly cry unto Christ and complain of our corruptions that they are too strong for us, this will witness to our hearts that we are not hypocrites.

159. After a gracious pardon for sin, there are two things remaining in us, infirmities and weaknesses. Infirmities are corruptions stirred up, which hinder us from good and excite us to evil, but yet they are so far resisted and subdued that they do not break forth into action. Weakness, this appears when we suffer an infirmity to break out into act for want of watchfulness, as if a man be subject to an angry temper; when this is working disturbance in the mind it is infirmity; but when for want of watchfulness it breaks forth into action then it is weakness. These diseases are suffered to attend us to remind us frequently of the bitter root of sin, for if sin did not sometimes break forth we should think our nature perfectly cured. Who would have thought that Moses, so meek a man, could have broken out into passion? We see it also in David and Peter and others, and this is to show that the corruption of nature in them was not fully healed. But there is this difference between the slips and falls of God's children and of other men, when other men fall, they settle in the mire, but when God's children fall, they see their weakness, they see the bitter root of sin, and hate it the more, and are never at rest till it be cast out by the strength of grace and repentance.

160. There is through sin venom and vanity in everything (without grace) wherewith we are tainted, but when grace comes it removes the curse and takes out the sting of all evil, and then we find a good even in the worst.

Temptation

161. In every evil work that we are tempted to, we always need delivering grace, as to every good work God's assisting grace.

162. It is hard to discern the working of Satan from our own corruptions, because for the most part he goes secretly along with them; he is like a pirate at sea who fires upon us under our own colors. Like Judas to Christ, he comes as a friend, therefore it is hard to discern; but it is partly seen by the eagerness of our lusts, when they are sudden, strong and strange, so strange sometimes that even nature itself abhors them. The Spirit of God leads sweetly on, but the devil hurries a man like a tempest, as we see in Amnon for his sister Tamar. Again, when we resist the motions of God's good Spirit, dislike His government, and give way to passion, then the devil enters. Let a man be unadvisedly angry, and the devil will make him envious and seek revenge; when passions are let loose they are chariots in which the devil rides; some by nature are prone to distrust and some to be too confident; now the devil joins with them and so draws them on further; he broods upon our corruptions; he sits as it were upon the souls of men, and there broods and hatches all sin. All the devils in hell cannot force us to sin. Satan works by suggestions, stirring up humors and fancies, but he cannot work upon the will; we betray ourselves by yielding before he can do us any harm; yet he ripens sin when cherished in the heart and brings it forth into actual transgression.

163. Take heed of Satan's policy, that God has forgotten me because I am now in extremity; nay rather, God will then show mercy, for now is the special time of mercy; therefore beat back Satan with his own weapons.

164. Temptations at first are like Elijah's cloud, no bigger than a man's hand, but if we give way to them they will soon overspread the whole soul. Satan nestles himself when we dwell upon the thoughts of sin; we cannot prevent the sudden risings of sin, but by grace we may keep them down, and they should never long remain without opposition. Let us labor therefore as much as we can to be in good company, and run in a good course, for as the Holy Ghost works by these advantages, so we should wisely observe and improve them.

(to be continued) 

 

Oct 12, 2010 at 05:56 o\clock

Secret prayer

Secret prayer

(Thomas Brooks, "A Word in Season to Suffering Saints")

"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." Colossians 4:2

In all the ages of the world, the saints have kept up secret prayer. In spite of all opposers and persecutors, in prisons, in dungeons, in dens, in chains, on racks, in banishments, and in the very flames--the saints have still kept up this secret prayer.

A Christian can as well . . .
  hear without ears, and
  live without food, and
  fight without hands, and
  walk without feet--
as he is able to live without secret prayer!
Look! as secret meals make fat bodies--so secret prayers make fat souls!

Secret prayer is the life of our lives--the soul, the sweet, the heaven of all our earthly enjoyments. Of all the duties of piety, secret prayer is the most . . .
  soul-sweetening,
  soul-strengthening,
  soul-enriching,
  soul-fattening,
  soul-refreshing,
  soul-satisfying, and
  soul-encouraging duty.

"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace--that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16

Oct 9, 2010 at 03:41 o\clock

Quotes from Richard Sibbes (part 9)

The Means of Grace

129. That man has made good progress in religion that has high esteem of the ordinances of God, and though perhaps he may find himself dead and dull, yet the best things have left such a taste and relish in his soul that he cannot be long without them.

130. If we do not find ourselves the people of God's delight, let us attend upon the means of salvation and wait God's good time, and not stand disputing, "Perhaps God hath not a purpose to save me", but zealous in obedience, cast ourselves into the arms of Christ and say, "If I perish, I will perish here."

131. In the ark there was manna, which was a type of our sacraments; and the testaments, which was a type of the Word preached; and the rod of Aaron, a type of government. Wheresoever therefore there is spiritual manna and the Word preached and the rod of Aaron in the government, there is a true church though there be many personal corruptions.

132. In times of calamity God will take care of His fruitful trees, as in Deuteronomy 20:19. The Israelites were commanded not to destroy the trees that bear fruit; so though God's judgments come amongst us, yet God will take special care of His children that be fruitful; but the judgments of God will light heavy upon barren trees; though God may long endure barrenness in the want of means, yet He will not in the use of means. It were better for a bramble to be in the wilderness than in an orchard; nothing will keep the axe from the root but fruitfulness in God's vineyard.

Mercy

133. If God's mercy might be overcome with our sins we should overcome it every day. It must be rich mercy that can fully and forever satisfy the soul, and therefore the Apostle never speaks of it without the extensions of love, the height and depth. We Jack words; we lack thoughts to form any idea of it. We should therefore labor through grace to frame and raise our souls to rich and large conceptions and apprehensions of mercy that is sovereign and divine.

134. God is rich in mercy, not only to our souls but in providing all things we stand in need of. He keeps us from evil and so He is called a Buckler. He gives us all good things and so He is called a Sun. He keeps us now in a good condition, and will advance us still higher, even so far as our nature shall be capable in the heavenly world.

135. No sin is so great but the satisfaction of Christ and His mercies are greater; it is beyond comparison. Fathers and mothers in tenderest affections are but beams and trains to lead us upwards to the infinite mercy of God in Christ.

136. He that seeks us before we sought Him, will He refuse us when we seek after Him? Let no man therefore despair or even be discouraged; if there be in you the height and depth, and length and breadth of sin, there is also much more the height and depth and length and breadth of mercy in God, and though we have played the harlot with many lovers, yet let us return again. For His thoughts are not as ours, and His mercies are the mercies of a reconciled God.

Man by Nature

137. Every man naturally is a god unto himself, not only in reflecting all upon himself, but in setting about divine things in his own strength, as if he were principal in his own actions, coming to them in the strength of his own wit, and in the strength of his own reason. This seed is in all men by nature, until God shall have turned a man out of carnal self by the power of the Holy Ghost.

138. The righteousness of works leaves, the soul in perplexity; that righteousness which comes by any other means than by Christ leaves the soul unsettled, because the law of God promises life only upon absolute and personal performance. Now the heart of man tells him that this he has not done, such and such duties he has omitted, and this breeds perplexity because he has not any support.

139. No man is a true divine but the child of God; he only knows holy things by a holy light and life. Other men though they speak of these things, yet practically they know them not. Take the most mystical points in religion such as justification, adoption, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, the sweet benefit of communion of saints, the excellent state of a Christian in extremity, to know what is to be done upon all occasions, inward sight and sorrow for sin; they know not what these things mean, for however aptly they may discourse of them, yet the things themselves are mysteries. Repentance is a mystery; joy in the Holy Ghost is a mystery; no natural man though he be never so great a scholar knows these things experimentally. He knows them only as physicians know physic by their books, but not as a sick man by his own experience.

140. Whatsoever is good in a natural man is depraved by a self-end; self-love rules all his actions. He keeps within himself and makes his chief end himself, and he is a god to himself. God is but his idol. This is true of all natural men in this world; they make themselves their last end, and where the end is depraved, the whole course is corrupted.

141. A man may know that he loves the world if he be more careful to get than to use it; we are but stewards, and should consider, "I must be as careful in distributing as in getting," for when we are all in getting, and nothing in distributing, this man is a worldling; though he be moderate in getting without wronging any man, yet the world has got his heart because he makes not that use of it he should.

142. It has been an old imputation to charge distraction upon men of the greatest wisdom and sobriety. John the Baptist was accused of having a devil, and Christ to be beside Himself and the Apostles to be full of new wine, and Paul to be mad. The reason is because as religion is a mystical and spiritual thing, so the tenets of it seem paradoxes to carnal men; as first, that a Christian is the only freeman, and other men are slaves; that he is the only rich man, though never so poor in the world; that he is the only beautiful man, though outwardly never so deformed; that he is the only happy man in the midst of all his miseries. Now these things though true seem strange to natural men, and therefore when they see men earnest against sin, or making conscience of sin, they wonder at this commotion for trifles. But these men go on in a course of their own and make that the measure of all; those that are below them are profane, and those that are above them are indiscreet. By fanciful affections, they create idols, and then cry down spiritual things as folly. They have principles of their own, to love themselves and to love others only for themselves, and to hold on the strongest side and by no means expose themselves to danger. But when men begin to be religious, they deny all their own aims, and that makes their course seem madness to the world, and therefore they labor to breed an ill opinion of them, as if they were madmen and fools.

143. Those that lay the imputation of folly and madness on God's children, will be found to be fools and madmen themselves. First, is not he a fool that cannot make a right choice of things? And how do carnal men make their choice when they embrace perishing things for the best? Secondly, a carnal man has not a spiritual capacity to apprehend spiritual things aright; he cannot see things invisible. Thirdly, his heart accounts it a vain thing to serve the Lord. Fourthly, he judges his enemies to be his best friends, and his best friends to be his worst enemies. Fifthly, the principles of all his actions are unsound, because they are not directed to the right object, therefore all his affections are mad, such as his joy, his love, his delight. His love is but lust; his anger vexation. For his confidence, he calls God's love into question, but if a false suggestion comes from the devil, that he embraces; and therefore is he not mad? And this is the condition of all natural men in the world.

Obedience

144. Partial obedience is not obedience at all; to single out easy things that do not oppose our lusts, which are not against our reputation, therein some will do more than they need; but our obedience must be universal to all God's commandments, and that because He commands it. Empty relationships are nothing; if we profess ourselves God's servants and do not honor Him by our obedience, we take but an empty title. Let us seek grace to make our professed relationship good, at least in our affections, that we may be able to say, I desire to fear Thy Name; yea with my spirit within me will I seek thee early (Isaiah 26: 8-9).

145. All the contention between the flesh and the Spirit lies in this, whether God shall have His will or we have ours. Now God's will is straight but ours is crooked, and therefore if God will have us offer up our Isaac we must submit to Him, and even acquiesce in the whole will of God. The more (through grace) emptied of self, the more free and happy we shall be by being more subject to God, for in what measure we part with anything for Him we shall receive even in this world an hundredfold in joy and peace.

146. Sincerity is the perfection of Christians. Let not Satan therefore abuse us. We do all things when we endeavor to do all things and purpose to do all things and are grieved when we cannot do better; then in some measure we do all things.

147. There are many that will give some way to divine truths, but they have a reservation of some sin. When Herodias is once touched, John Baptist must lose his head. Such truths as come near, make transgressors fret because their consciences tell them they will not yield obedience to all. Some sin has got the dominion over their affections, but conscience says, "I warn thee against this sin," and then that hatred which should be turned upon the sin is turned upon the Word and the minister. Some vermin when they are driven to a stand will fly in a man's face, so these men, when they see they must yield, grow malicious, so that what they will not follow, that they will reproach. Therefore it should be our care at all times to yield obedience according to what we know of the divine will.

(to be continued)

Sep 30, 2010 at 02:28 o\clock

Quotes from Richard Sibbes (part 8)

Love Toward God

116. There are four things observable in the nature of love; first, an esteem of the party beloved, secondly a desire to be joined to him, thirdly a settled contentment, fourthly a desire to please the party in all things. So there is first in every Christian a high estimation of God and of Christ; he makes choice of Him above all things, and speaks largely in His commendation. Secondly he desires to be united to Him, and where this desire is, there is an intercourse; he will open his mind to Him by prayer and go to Him in all his consultations for His counsel. Thirdly, he places contentment in Him alone, because in his worst conditions he is in peace and quiet if he may have His countenance shine upon him. Fourthly, he seeks to please Him because he labors to be in such a condition that God may delight in him. His love stirs up his soul to remove all things distasteful to Him. He asks as David did, "Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake?" (2 Sam. 9:1).

117. We see by experience that there is a succession of love; he that loves for beauty will despise when he sees a better. So it is in the soul respecting heavenly and earthly things; when the soul sees more excellency and a satisfying fullness in heavenly things, then the love of earthly things like Dagon immediately falls down. So Paul says "I account all things as dross and as dung in comparison of Christ."

118. When we love things baser than ourselves it is like a clear stream that runs into a sink. As our love therefore is the best thing we have, and none deserves it more than God, so let Him have our love, yea the strength of our love, that we may love Him with all our souls and with all our mind and with all our strength.

119. The love of a wife to her husband may begin from the supply of her necessities, but afterwards she may love him also for the sweetness of his person; so the soul first loves Christ for salvation but when she is brought to Him and finds what sweetness there is in Him then she loves Him for Himself.

120. God comforts us in the exercise and practice of grace; we must not therefore snatch comforts before we be fit for them; when we perform precepts then God will bestow comforts. If we will make it good indeed that we love God, we must keep His commandments; we must not keep one but all; it must be universal obedience fetched from the heart-root, and that out of love.

121. When the love of Christ is manifested to us, and our love again to Christ is quickened by the Spirit, this causes an admiration in the soul, when it considers what wonderful love is in Christ, and the Spirit witnesses that this love of Christ is set upon us; from hence it begins to admire, "How is it that Thou wilt manifest Thyself unto us and not unto the world? What is the reason Thou so lovest me, and not others?" When the soul has been with God on the mount and is turned from earthly things, then it sees nothing but love and mercy. Such grace constrains us to do all things out of love to God and goodwill to men.

Man's Chief End

122. The whole life of a Christian should be nothing but praises and thanks to God; we should neither eat nor drink nor sleep, but eat to God and sleep to God and work to God and talk to God, do all to His glory and praise.

123. We glorify God when we exalt Him in our souls above all creatures in the world, when we give Him the highest places in our love and in our joy, when all our affections are set upon Him as our greatest good. This is seen also by opposition, when we will not offend God for any creature; when we can ask our affections, "Whom have I in heaven but thee?" (Psalm 73:25).

124. In the covenant of grace God intends the glory of His grace above all. Now faith is fit for it, because it has a uniting virtue to knit us to the Mediator and to lay hold of a thing out of ourselves; it empties the soul of all idea of worth or strength or excellence in the creature, and so it gives all the glory to God and Christ.

125. To glory in any creature whatsoever is idolatry, first, because the mind sets up something to glory in which is not God; secondly, it must be spiritual adultery to cleave to anything more than to God; thirdly, it is bearing false witness to ascribe excellency where there is none. We have a prohibition, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, nor the strong man in his strength, nor the rich man in his riches (Jeremiah 9:23). God will not give His glory to another, and therefore when men will be meddling with that glory which belongs to God alone He blasts them aside as broken vessels and even disdains to use them.

126. All things out of God are only like the grass. When we rejoice in anything out of God, it is a childish joy as if we rejoiced only in flowers; after we have drawn out their sweetness we cast them away. All outward things are common to sinners as well as to saints, and without grace they will surely prove snares. At the hour of death what comfort can we have in them any further than with humility and love to God we have used them well? Therefore if we would have our hearts seasoned with true joy, let us labor to be faithful in our several places, and endeavor according to the gifts we have to glorify God.

127. This life is not a life for the body but for the soul, and therefore the soul should speak to the body, "If you move me to fulfil your desires now, you will lose me and yourself hereafter." But if the body be given up to Christ, then the soul will speak a good word for it in heaven, "Lord, there is a body of mine in the grave in yonder world that did fast for me and pray with me:" it will speak for it as Pharaoh's butler to the king for Joseph.

128. It is rebellion against God for a man to make away with himself; the very heathens could say that we must not go out of our station till we be called. It is the voice of Satan, "Cast thyself down," but what says Paul to the jailer, "Do thyself no harm: for we are all here." We should so carry ourselves that we may be content to stay here till God has done that work He has to do in us and by us, and then He will call us hence in the best time.

(to be continued) 

Sep 24, 2010 at 03:32 o\clock

Quotes from Richard Sibbes (part 7)

Humility

102. Poverty of spirit should accompany us all our life long to let us see that we have no righteousness nor strength of our own for sanctification; that all the grace we have is out of ourselves, even for the performance of every holy duty; for though we have grace, yet we cannot bring that grace into act without new grace, even as there is a fitness in trees to bear fruit, but without the influence of heaven they cannot be fruitful. That which oftentimes makes us miscarry in the duties of our callings is this, we think we have strength and wisdom sufficient, and then what is begun in self-confidence is ended in shame. We set about duties in our own pride and strength of parts, and find no better success; therefore it is always a good sign that God will bless our endeavors, when out of a deep sense of our own weakness, we in prayers and supplications like our Lord also water our business with strong crying and tears: "Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared" (Heb. 5:7).

103. The hearts of men, yea of good men, are apt to be taken up with outward things. When the weak disciples had cast out devils they were ready to be proud, but Christ quickly spies it and admonishes them, not to rejoice that the devils were subject to them, but that their names were written in heaven (Luke 10:20). Therefore when we find the least inclination to glory in anything we must check ourselves, and consider what grace we have to use them, what love to men we have to turn these things to the common good. For, whatsoever a man has, if he has not also humility and love to use it aright, it will turn to his sorrow.

104. God's children are strengthened by their falls; they learn to stand by their falls. Like tall cedars the more they are blown the deeper will they be rooted. That which men think is the overthrow of God's children does but root them the deeper, so that after all outward storms and inward declensions this is the issue, "They take root downward and bear fruit upward" for the Lord restoreth their souls.

105. Many men that make a profession are like the hawk which ascends high but looks low; but those that look high as they ascend high are risen with Christ; for a Christian being once in a state of grace forgets what is behind, and looks upon ascending higher and higher, till he be in his place of happiness. As at Christ's rising there was an earthquake, so such as are risen with Him find a commotion and conflict between the flesh and the Spirit.

106. None can be truly confident but God's children. Other men's confidence is like a madman's strength; he may have the strength of two or three for a time, but it is a false strength, and it is when they are lifted up upon the wings of ambition and favor of men; but these men in the time of trial sink. The hope of the hypocrite shall perish (Job 8:13).

107. It is God's free love that has cast us into these happy times of the Gospel, and it is further love that makes choice of some and leaves others. This should therefore teach us sound humility, considering that God must open the heart or else it will remain eternally shut.

Joy

108. The bitterest things in religion are sweet - there is a sweetness even in reproofs, when God meets with our corruptions and whispers unto us such and such things are dangerous, and that if we cherish them they will bring us to hell. The Word of God is sweet to a Christian that has his heart under its influence. Is not pardon sweet to a condemned man, and riches sweet to a poor man, and favor sweet to a man in disgrace, and liberty sweet to a man in captivity? So all that comes from God is sweet to a Christian that has his heart touched with the sense of sin.

109. A Christian's joy is right when it proceeds from right principles, from judgment and conscience, not from fancy and imagination; when judgment and conscience will bear him out; when there is fellowship between them both, for our joy must spring from peace, "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God" (Romans 5:2). The Apostles began their Epistles with mercy, grace and peace; mercy in forgiveness, grace to renew our natures, and peace of conscience. These are things to be gloried in. If we find our sins pardoned, our persons accepted, and our nature renewed; we may comfort ourselves in health, in wealth, in wife, in children, in anything, because all come from the favor of God. We may joy in afflictions because there is a blessing in the worst things to further our eternal happiness. Though we cannot joy in affliction itself as being contrary to our nature, yet we may in the outcome; so that we rejoice aright when, having interest in God, we glory in the testimony of a good conscience; when looking inward, we find all at peace; when each of us can say upon good grounds that God is mine, and therefore all is mine, both life and death and all things, so far as they may serve for my truest good.

110. The religious affections of God's people are mixed, for they mingle their joy with weeping, and their weeping with joy; whereas a carnal man's are all simple; if he rejoices, he is mad; if he is sorrowful (unless it be restrained) it sinks him; but grace always tempers the joy and sorrow of a Christian, because he has always something to joy in, and something for which to grieve. What a poorness of spirit is it to be over-joyful or overmuch grieved, when all things are fading and vanish so soon away. Let us therefore bear continually in our minds that all things here below are subordinate to the upper world.

Learning & Teaching

111. When men can find no comfort and yet set themselves to teach and encourage weaker Christians, by way of reflection they receive frequently great comfort themselves. So does God reward the conscientious performance of this duty of mutual discourse; that those things we did not so fully understand before, by discourse we come to know and relish far better. This should teach us to be in love with holy conference, for besides the good we do to others we are much profited ourselves.

112. I t is much to be desired that there were that love in all men to teach what they know, and that humility in others to be instructed in what they know not. God humbles sometimes great persons to learn of others that are meaner, and it is our duty to embrace the truth whoever brings it, and oftentimes ordinary persons are instruments of knowledge and comfort to many that are greater than themselves, as Aquila and Priscilla instructed Apollos.

113. That a man may be fit to persuade others, he must have love to their persons, a clear knowledge of the cause, and grace that he may be able to speak in wisdom to their souls and consciences. As we are saved by love, so we are persuaded by the arguments of love, which is most agreeable to the nature of man that is led by persuasion not by compulsion. Men may be compelled to the use of the means but not to faith. Many labor only to unfold the Scriptures for the increase of their knowledge, that they may be able to discourse, whereas the special intent of the ministry is to work upon the heart and affections.

114. There are none that in sincerity do frequently promote holy conference but are great gainers thereby. Many men ask questions and are inquisitive to know, but not that they might put into practice. This is but a proud desire to taste of the tree of knowledge. But the desire of well-affected Christians is to know more that they might more diligently seek Christ. We gain much oftentimes by discourse with those that are young in religion. Paul desires to meet with the Romans though they were his converts, that he might himself be strengthened and comforted by their mutual faith. "That is, that I may be comforted together with you, by the mutual faith both of you and me" (Rom. 1:12).

115. Those that measure lands are very exact in everything, but the poor man whose it is knows the use of the ground better, and delights in it more because it is his own; so it is with those ministers that can exactly speak of heavenly truths yet have no share in them, but the poor soul that hears them rejoices and says, "These things are mine."

(to be continued) 

Sep 17, 2010 at 00:08 o\clock

Quotes from Richard Sibbes (part 6)

Holy Desires

84. Our desires are holy if they are exercised about spiritual things. David desires not to be great, to be rich in the world, or to have power to be revenged upon his enemies, but that he may dwell in the house of the Lord and enjoy His ordinances there.

85. A sincere heart that is burdened with sin, desires not heaven so much as the place where he shall be free from sin, but to have the image of God and Christ perfected in his soul; and therefore a sincere spirit comes to hear the Word, not so much because an eloquent man preaches as to hear divine truths, because the evidence of the Spirit goes with it to work those graces. You cannot still a child with anything but the breast, so you cannot satisfy the desires of a Christian but with divine truths. "The desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee" (Isaiah 26:8).

86. When the truth of grace is wrought in a Christian, his desires go beyond his strength, and his prayers are answerable to his desires. Whereupon it is that young Christians often call their state in question because they cannot bring heaven upon earth, because they cannot be perfect, but God will have us depend upon Him for increase of grace in a daily expectation.

87. Desires are the spiritual pulse of the soul, always beating to and fro and showing the temper of it; they are therefore the characters of a Christian and show more truly what he is than his actions do.

88. When the soul admires spiritual things it is then in a holy frame, and so long it will not stoop to any base comfort. We should therefore labor to keep our souls in a state of holy admiration.

89. It is a hard matter to find out the least measure of grace, and the greatest degree of formality, for as the portrait oftentimes exceeds the person, so does an hypocrite often make a greater show than the true Christian. The lowest exercise of saving grace is in spiritual desires, and these are known to be saving if they proceed from a taste of divine things, and not merely from the object in the Word.

90. When the soul desires the forgiveness of sin and not grace to lead a new life, that desire is hypocritical, for a true Christian desires power against sin as well as pardon for it. If we have not sanctifying grace we have not pardoning grace. Christ came by water to regenerate as well as by blood to justify. It should therefore be our continual care and endeavor to grow and increase in grace, because without it we shall never get to heaven; without this endeavor our sacrifices are not accepted; without this, we cannot withstand our enemies nor bear any cross. Without it we cannot go on comfortably in our course. Without this we cannot do anything acceptable and pleasing to God.

The Holy Spirit

91. As it was with Christ Himself, so it is with His members. He was conceived by the Spirit, anointed by the Spirit, sealed by the Spirit. He was led into the wilderness by the Spirit, and by the Spirit He was raised from the dead; even so the members of Christ answer unto Christ Himself. All is by the Spirit; we are conceived by the Spirit, the same Spirit that sanctifies us; but first we receive the Spirit by way of Union, and then unction follows after; when we are knit to Christ by the Spirit, then it works the same in us as it did in Him.

92. The Spirit of God may be known to be in weak Christians, as the soul is known to be in the body by the pulses; even so the Spirit discovers itself in them by pulses, by groaning, sighing, complaining that it is so with them and that they are no better, so that they are out of love with themselves. This is a happy sign that the Spirit in some good measure dwells in such souls.

93. In trouble we are prone to forget all that we have heard and read that makes for our comfort. Now what is the reason that a man comes to think of that which otherwise he should never have called to mind? The Holy Ghost brings it to his remembrance; He is a Comforter, bringing to mind useful things at such times when we have most need of them.

94. It is not enough to know by the Word that there is strength and righteousness in Christ, but the Spirit must open the eyes of the soul to see, else we shall only have a natural knowledge of supernatural things. I t is necessary to have a supernatural light to see supernatural things, so as to change the soul, and therefore the Spirit only works faith to see Christ is mine. Further, only the Spirit can lead the conscience to rest, because He is greater than the conscience, and can answer all inward objections and quibbles of flesh and blood; unless therefore the Holy Ghost does effectually apply what Christ has done, the conscience will not be satisfied.

95. If we desire to have the Spirit we must wait in the way of duty, as the Apostles waited many days before the Comforter came. We must also empty our souls of self-love and the love of the things of the world, and willingly entertain those crosses that bring our souls out of love with them. The children of Israel in the wilderness had no manna till they had spent their onions and garlic, so this world must be out of request with us before we can be spiritual. Let us through grace therefore, labor to see the excellency of spiritual things, and how cheap and poor must all the glory of the world appear! These things duly thought of and considered will make our desires more and more spiritual.

96. Those that care not for the Word are strangers to the Spirit, and those that care not for the Spirit never make a right use of the Word. The Word is nothing without the Spirit. It is animated and quickened by the Spirit. The Spirit and the Word are like the veins and arteries in the body, that give quickening and life to the whole body, and therefore, where the Word is most revealed there is most of the Spirit, but where Christ is not opened in the Gospel, there the Spirit is not at all visible in His saving power.

97. As we may know who dwells in a house by observing who go in and come out, so we may know that the Spirit dwells in us by observing what sanctified speech He sends forth and what delight He has wrought in us to things that are spiritual, and what price we set upon them. Whereas a carnal man lowers the price of spiritual things because his soul cleaves to something that he rejoices in far more, and this is the cause why he slights the directions and comforts of the Word; but those in whom the Spirit dwells, will consult with it, and not I regard what flesh and blood will dictate, but will follow the directions of the Word and Spirit of God.

98. As the Spirit is necessary to work faith at first, so is He necessary also to every act of faith, for faith cannot act upon occasion but by the Spirit; and therefore we should not attempt to do, or to suffer anything rashly, but beg the Spirit of God and wait for His assistance, because according to the increase of our troubles must our faith be increased. The life of a Christian commences by the Spirit's working faith at first, but is promoted upon all occasions by His animating our graces already received. Faith stirs up all other graces and holds every grace to the Word, and so long as faith continues active we keep all other graces in exercise.

99. There are three main parts of our salvation; first, a true knowledge of our misery; and secondly, the knowledge of our deliverance; and then, a life conformable to the Word. The Holy Ghost only can work these; He only convinces of sin, and where He truly convinces of sin, there also of righteousness, and then of judgment, and leads us by faith to heaven.

100. Where the Spirit dwells largely in any man, there is boldness in God's cause, a contempt of the world. He can do all things through Christ that strengthens him; his mind is content and settled. He can bear with the infirmities of others and not be offended (for it is the weak in the Spirit that are offended); he is ready in his desires to say, "Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly." But where corruption bears too much sway there is, "O stay a little that I may recover my strength;" that is, "Stay awhile that I may repent;" for the soul in the present frame is not fit to appear before God, but where the Spirit dwells in grace and divine comforts.

101. When we are young carnal delight leads us, and when we are old covetousness drowns us, so that if our knowledge be not spiritual we shall never hold out; and the reason why at the hour of death so many despair is because they had knowledge without the Spirit.

(to be continued) 

Sep 13, 2010 at 00:44 o\clock

God is our Treasure

The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One. Having the Source of all things, he has in One all satisfaction, all pleasure, all delight. Whatever he may lose he has actually lost nothing, for he now has it all in One, and he has it purely, legitimately and forever. -- A.W. Tozer

Sep 11, 2010 at 22:10 o\clock

Quotes from Richard Sibbes (part 5)

Good Things

69. We may use God's creatures without scruples or superstition, as singling out one from another, but yet may we not use them just as we please. There is a difference between our right and the use of that right. The magistrate may restrain the use of that right, and so may our weak brother in case of scandal; so that though all things be ours, yet in the use of them we must be sober, not eating or drinking immoderately nor using anything uncharitably, whereby others may take offence, for though we have a right to God's bounty, yet our right and the exercise of it, must be sanctified by the Word of God and prayer.

70. Whatsoever outward good things we have we should use them in a reverent manner, knowing that the liberty we have to enjoy them is purchased with the blood of Christ. As David when he thirsted for the waters of Bethlehem would not drink, because it was the blood of the three worthies, so though we have a free use of the created things, yet we must be careful to use them with moderation and reverence and all to the glory of God.

71. When we receive any good to our souls or to our bodies, whoever is the instrument, let us look to the Principal; as in the gifts we receive, we look not to him that brings but to him who sent them.

Grace

72. Though Christ is a Head of influence from which rich grace flows into every member, yet He is a voluntary Head, and gives grace according to His own good pleasure, and the exigence of His members. Sometimes we have need of more grace, then it flows plentifully and supplies all our wants. Sometimes we have need to know our own weakness, and then the Lord our strength and our guide leaves us to ourselves that we may know that without Him we cannot stand; that we may know the necessity of His guidance to heaven in the sense of our imperfections, and that we may see our weakness, such corruptions which we thought were wholly subdued, as Moses by God's permission was tempted to murmur - such a meek man; and David to cruelty - such a mild man. They thought they had not had those corruptions so powerful in their hearts.

73. Many men oppose the power of divine grace, and rest in common civil things and mere outward performances. But when we do not duly regard the manner, God regards not the matter of the service we do; therefore oftentimes He punishes professors for the ill performance of good duties, as we see in 1 Corinthians 11: 30-31. "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged."

74. It is an ill time to get grace when we should use grace; therefore that we may have less to do when it is enough to struggle with sickness, and that we may have nothing else to do but to die and comfortably to yield up our souls to God, oh, through grace let us be exact in our accounts every day!

75. It is the endeavor of an evil man to quench a great deal of good for a little ill; but Christ cherishes a little grace though there be a great deal of corruption, which yet is as offensive to Him as smoke to us, therefore we should labor to gain all we can by love and meekness.

Growth in Grace

76. As the sun is on its course though we cannot see it move, and as plants and herbs grow though we cannot perceive them to grow, even so it does not follow that a Christian grows not because he cannot see himself grow. Nay, if believers decay in their first love, or in some other grace, yet another grace may grow and increase, such as their humility, their broken-heartedness; they sometimes seem not to grow in the branches when they may grow at the root; upon a check grace breaks out more; as we say, after a hard winter there usually follows a glorious spring.

77. It is not sufficient for a Christian to have habitual grace; there is no vine can bring forth fruit without the fresh influences of heaven, though it be planted and well rooted in a good soil; so we cannot bring forth fruit unless God assists us; our former strength will not serve when a new temptation comes.

78. As men cherish young plants at first and fence them about with hedges to keep them from hurt, but when they are grown they remove these things and leave them to the wind and weather, so God sustains His children at first with props of inward comforts, but afterwards He ex poses them to storms and winds because they are better able to bear them. Therefore let no man think himself the better because he is more free from troubles than others; it is because God sees him not fit to bear greater.

Heaven

79. If we will walk aright in God's ways, let us have heaven daily in our eye, and the day of judgment, and times to come; so faith will steer the course of our lives, and breed love in the use of the means, and patience to pass under all conditions; let us have our eye with Moses upon Him that is invisible.

80. Many men would be in Canaan as soon as they were out of Egypt, they would be at the highest pitch presently; but God will lead us through the wilderness of temptations and afflictions till we come to heaven, and it is a part of our Christian meekness to submit to God and not to murmur because we are not as we would be, but let us rather magnify the mercies of God that work in us any love of good things, and that He vouchsafes us any of the first-fruits of glory.

81. A Christian is now in his minority and therefore not fit to possess all that he has a title to, but yet so much is allotted to him as will conduct him through life and give him a passage to heaven. If therefore he be in want, he has contentment, and in suffering he has patience. All things are his needs as well what he wants as what he enjoys.

82. Wicked men depart out of this world like malefactors that are unwilling to go out of prison, but God's children when they die, they die in obedience, "Lord. now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy Word" (Luke 2:29). To be in the body is a good condition because we live by faith, but it is better to be with the Lord because then we shall live by sight.

83. As children in the womb have eyes and ears, not for that place but for community life afterwards among men, wherein they shall use all their members; even so our life here is not for this world only but for another. We have large capacities, large memories, large affections, large expectations. God does not give us large capacities and large affections for this world, but for heaven and heavenly things.

(to be continued)