Tuesday, September 30, 2008

In the outer court

How many there are of these whom I must call outer-court worshippers, for they are strangers to this panting to know him. They can say with Paul, "That I may win him and be found in him" - that they do want; but this higher wish, “That I may know him,” has not stirred their hearts.

How many brethren we know, who are content to know Christ’s historic life! They read the evangelists and they are charmed with the perfect beauty of the Savior’s history. “Never man spake like this man,” say they; and they confess that never man acted with such love as he did. They know all the incidents of his life, from his manger to his cross; but they do not know Him. They are as men who have read “ Caesar’s Commentaries,” but who have never seen Caesar. They know the battles which Caesar fought; they can even recognize the mantle which Caesar wore “that day he overcame the Nervii;” but they do not know Caesar himself. The person of the Lord Jesus is us much hidden from their eyes us the golden pot of manna when concealed in the ark. They know the life of Christ, but not Christ the Life; they admire his way among men, but they see not himself as the way.

From a sermon entitled "Do You Know Him?," delivered January 31, 1864. Flickr photo by Paul Friel; some rights reserved.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The thoughts of man

September forest

Whether men admit or deny that God knows, one thing is here declared, namely, that “The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity.” Not their words alone are heard, and their works seen, but he reads the secret motions of their minds, for men themselves are not hard to be discerned of him, before his glance they themselves are but vanity. It is in the Lord's esteem no great matter to know the thoughts of such transparent pieces of vanity as mankind are, he sums them up in a moment as poor vain things. This is the sense of the original, but that given in the authorised version is also true - the thoughts, the best part, the most spiritual portion of man's nature, even these are vanity itself, and nothing better. Poor man! And yet such a creature as this boasts, plays at monarch, tyrannises over his fellow worms, and defies his God! Madness is mingled with human vanity, like smoke with the fog, to make it fouler but not more substantial than it would have been alone.

How foolish are those who think that God does not know their actions, when the truth is that their vain thoughts are all perceived by him! How absurd to make nothing of God when in fact we ourselves are as nothing in his sight.

From the Treasury of David, exposition of Psalm 94:11. Flickr photo by Marcus Vegas; some rights reserved.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Faith and Life Together

flower in water

The two most important things in our holy religion are faith and life. He who shall rightly understand these two words is not far from being a master in experimental theology. Faith and life! These are vital points to a Christian. They possess so intimate a connection with each other that they are by no means to be severed; God hath so joined them together, let no man seek to put them asunder. You shall never find true faith unattended by true godliness; on the other hand, you shall never discover a truly holy life which has not for its root and foundation a living faith upon the righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ. Woe unto those who seek after the one without the other!

There be some who cultivate faith and forget holiness; these may be very high in orthodoxy, but they shall be very deep in damnation, in that day when God shall condemn those who hold the truth in unrighteousness, and make the doctrine of Christ to pander to their lusts. There are others who have strained after holiness of life, but have denied the faith; these are comparable unto the Pharisees of old, of whom the Master said, they were “whitewashed sepulchres;” they were fair to look upon externally, but inwardly, because the living faith was not there, they were full of dead men’s bones and all manner of uncleanness. Ye must have faith, for this is the foundation; ye must have holiness of life, for this is the superstructure. Of what avail is the mere foundation of a building to a man in the day of tempest? Can he hide himself among sunken stones and concrete? He wants a house to cover him, as well as a foundation upon which that house might have been built; even so we need the superstructure of spiritual life if we would have comfort in the day of doubt.

But seek not a holy life without faith, for that would be to erect a house which can afford no permanent shelter, because it has no foundation on a rock - a house which must come down with a tremendous crash in the day when the rain descends, and the floods come, and the winds blow, and beat upon it. Let faith and life be put together, and, like the two abutments of an arch, they shall make your piety strong.

From a sermon entitled "Faith And Life," delivered January 24, 1864. Flickr photo by Perla Lewis; some rights reserved.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Flee to the refuge today

A man on board a vessel, when he hears the cry of “Fire!” must not stop to arrange his clothes; he must not he concerned to see that his face is washed, that he has bound together that little bundle of papers, or packed up the portmanteau, or counted over the little purse of gold, or even snatched his little property from the cabin. At once, at once, must he climb the stairs and reach the deck, or he will never have stairs to climb, nor feet to climb with. Now or never. Quick is the word. Waste a moment, and it is all over with you; the fire is upon you, for it tarries not in its march. So is it with you tonight who fear not God. “Escape for thy life,” is a cry for the present moment. Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” Now, now, NOW. This is the only period God has allotted to you, take care that you use it, lest when your todays are past, and you hope to see your to-morrow, you should have to spend your tomorrows in the pit of hell. Procrastination is not only the thief of time, but the thief of souls. Now is the day of salvation; I have never heard of any other day. I do not know, but I think this is one of the most difficult things in the gospel ministry, a matter worthy of the Holy Ghost’s power - to make men
seriously think about their souls at this present.

From a sermon entitled "The Ship On Fire - A Voice Of Warning," delivered November 8, 1863. Flickr photo by Kazuhiko Teramoto; some rights reserved.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The value of fasting and prayer


“Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove: and nothing shall he impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”-Matthew 17:19-21.

And what is fasting for? That seems the difficult point. It is evidently... practiced oftentimes by our Lord, and advised by him to his disciples. Not a kind of religious observance, in itself meritorious, but a habit, when associated with the exercise of prayer, unquestionably helpful. I am not sure whether we have not lost a very great blessing in the Christian Church by giving up fasting....

Martin Luther, whose body, like some others, was of a gross tendency, felt as some of us do, that in our flesh there dwelleth no good thing, in another sense than the apostle meant it; and he used to fast frequently. He says his flesh was wont to grumble dreadfully at abstinence, but fast he would, for he found that when he was fasting, it quickened his praying. There is a treatise by an old Puritan, called, “The soul-fattening institution of fasting,” and he gives us his own experience that during a fast he has felt more intense eagerness of soul in prayer than he had ever done at any other time. Some of you, dear friends, may get to the boiling-point in prayer, without fasting. I do think that others cannot...

From a sermon entitled "A Desperate Case - How To Meet It," delivered January 10, 1864. Flickr photo by Shirl; some rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Prayer and Action


Spiritual men, in their distresses, turn at once to prayer, even as the stag when hunted takes to flight. Prayer is a never-failing resort; it is sure to bring a blessing with it. Even apart from the answer of our supplications, the very exercise of prayer is healthy to the man engaged in it. Far be it from me ever to say a word in disparagement of the holy, happy, heavenly exercise of prayer. But, beloved, there are times when prayer is not enough-when prayer itself is out of season. You will think that a hard saying, and say, “Who can hear it?...”

Moses prayed that God would deliver his people; but the Lord said to him, “Wherefore criest thou unto me?” As much as to say this is not the time for prayer, it is the time for action. “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward.” When we have prayed over a matter to a certain degree, it then becomes sinful to tarry any longer; our plain duty is to carry our desires into action, and having asked God’s guidance, and having received divine power from on high, to go at once to our duty without any longer deliberation or delay.

From a sermon entitled "Forward! Forward! Forward!," delivered October 18, 1863. Flickr photo by Mike Ormsby; some rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Suffering and reigning with Him


The suffering which brings the reigning with Jesus, must be a suffering with Jesus. There is a very current error among those poor people who are ignorant of true religion, that all poor and afflicted people will be rewarded for it in the next state. I have heard working men refer to time parable of the rich man and Lazarus, with a cruel sort of satisfaction at the pains of Dives, because they have imagined that, in the same manner, all rich people would be cast into the flames of hell without a drop of water to cool their tongue, while all poor persons like Lazarus, would be triumphantly carried into Abraham’s bosom. A more fearful mistake could not be made. It was not the suffering of Lazarus which entitled him to a place in Abraham’s bosom; he might have been licked by all the dogs on earth and then have been dragged off by the dogs of hell. Many a man goes to hell from a dunghill. A drunkard’s hovel is very wretched: is he to be rewarded for bringing himself to rags?

Very much of the beggary we see abroad is the result of vice, extravagance, or folly- are these things so meritorious as to be passports to glory? Let no man deceive himself so grossly. On the other hand, the rich man was not cast into hell because he was rich and fared sumptuously; had he been rich in faith, holy in life, and renewed in heart, his purple and fine linen would have done him no hurt. Lazarus was carried above by the angels, because his heart was in heaven; and the rich man lifted up his eyes in hell, because he had never lifted them up towards God and heavenly things. It is a work of grace in the heart and character, which shall decide the future, not poverty or wealth.

From a sermon entitled "Suffering And Reigning With Jesus," delivered January 3, 1864. Flickr photo by b k ; some rights reserved.

Monday, September 22, 2008



He is Alpha, the first, the chief, the foremost, the first-born of every creature, the Eternal God. Man by nature is not the first even among creatures, for angels excel him far; nor are angels the chief, for our glorious Lord infinitely transcends them. He who made is greater than they who are made; and he who sends is greater than those who are sent. Jesus Christ stands Alpha in honorable degree; no angel can vie with him. “Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” “For unto which of the angels said he at any time, thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? . . . And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.” As for the Son, he hath appointed him heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds, but of the angels it is asked — “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?”

Alpha was frequently used by the Hebrews to signify the best, just as we are accustomed to use the letter A. We say of a ship, for instance, that it is “A 1.” So Jesus Christ may truly be said to be the Alpha the first in this sense. Call him by whatever title Scripture has affixed to him, and he is the first in it. Is he a prophet? Then all the prophets follow at a humble distance, bearing witness of him. Is he a priest? Then he is the Great High Priest of our profession; he is the fulfillment of all that which the priest did but typically set forth. Let him mount his throne as king, then he is King of kings, and Lord of lords; “his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation.” If he be the builder of his Church, he is the wise Master-builder; if a shepherd, he is the Great Shepherd who shall appear; if the corner-stone, he is the chief corner-stone — in fact, it mattereth not what title, or which character he beareth, he is in all these respects the Alpha, as much surpassing all things that may be compared to him, as the sun excelleth the stars, or as the sea exceedeth the drops of the dew.

From a sermon entitled "Alpha And Omega," delivered December 27, 1863. Flickr photo by Kevin Law; some rights reserved.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

True God, True Man

While we always contend that Christ is God, very God of very God, let us never lose the firm conviction he is most certainly and truly a man. He is not a God humanized, nor yet a human being deified; but, as to his Godhead, pure Godhead, equal and co-eternal with the Father; as to his manhood, perfect manhood; made in all respects like unto the rest of mankind, sin alone excepted. His humanity was real, for he was born. He lay hidden in the virgin’s womb, and in due time was born into a world of suffering. The gate by which we enter upon the first life, he passed through also; he was not created, nor transformed, but his humanity was begotten and born. As he was born, so in the circumstances of his birth, he is completely human; he is as weak and feeble as any other babe. He is not even royal, but human. Those who were born in marble halls of old were wrapped in purple garments, and were thought by the vulgar to be a superior race; but this babe is wrapped in swaddling clothes and hath a manger for his cradle, that the true humanness of his being may come out.

From a sermon entitled "The Holy Child Jesus," delivered December 20, 1863. Flickr photo by NASA/ESA/ESO/Wolfram Freudling et al. (STECF); some rights reserved.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The means of grace


Although God works great wonders and calls men when they are not hearing the Word, yet usually we must expect that being in the way, God will meet with them. It is somewhat extraordinary that the first convert in Europe was converted at a very small prayer-meeting. There were only a few women there; we have no reason to think that there were any more males than just Paul and his friend Luke; and these you see, had called in, as we say accidentally, and had been moved to give an address at the prayer-meeting, and that address it was which was the means in God’s hand of opening her heart. Beloved friends, let us never neglect the means of grace; wherever we are, let us not forget the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is. I say again, God may bless us when we are not in his house, but we have the best reason to hope that he will when we are in communion with his saints. Oh! what a joy it is to see so many constantly thronging our house of prayer, because we have good hope that the God of salvation will meet with them.

From a sermon entitled "Lessons From Lydia's Conversion," delivered December 13, 1863. Flickr photo by John Haslam; some rights reserved.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

He will perfect!

“The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me.”

All my interests are safe in Jehovah's hands.

“The work which his goodness began,
The arm of his strength will complete;
His promise is yea and Amen,
And never was forfeited yet.”

God is concerned in all that concerns his servants. He will see to it that none of their precious things shall fail of completion; their life, their strength, their hopes, their graces, their pilgrimage, shall each and all be perfected. Jehovah himself will see to this; and therefore it is most sure.

“Thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever.”

The refrain of the former Psalm is in his ears, and he repeats it as his own personal conviction and consolation. The first clause of the verse is the assurance of faith, and this second one reaches to the full assurance of understanding. God's work in us will abide unto perfection because God's mercy towards us thus abideth.

“Forsake not the works of thine own hands.”

Our confidence does not cause us to live without prayer, but encourages us to pray all the more. Since we have it written upon our hearts that God will perfect his work in us, and we see it also written in Scripture that his mercy changeth not, we with holy earnestness entreat that we may not be forsaken. If there be anything good in us, it is the work of God's own hands: will he leave it? Why has he wrought so much in us if he means to give us up? - it will be a sheer waste of effort. He who has gone so far will surely persevere with us to the end. Our hope for the final perseverance of the believer lies in the final perseverance of the believer's God. If the Lord begins to build, and does not finish, it will not be to his honour. He will have a desire to the work of his hands, for he knows what it has cost him already, and he will not throw away a vessel upon which he has expended so much of labour and skill. Therefore do we praise him with our whole heart, even in the presence of those who depart from his Holy Word, and set up another God and another gospel; which are not another, but there be some that trouble us.

From the "Treasury of David," exposition of Psalm 138:8. Flickr photo by Matteo Mazzoni; some rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

With great mercies

“And it shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel, so will I save you and ye shall be a blessing: fear not, but let your hands be strong.” — Zechariah 8:13.

As these words came from the lips of Zechariah, doubtless they referred to the seed of Abraham, including the two tribes of Judah and the ten tribes of Israel. They have already received a minor fulfillment; but their most glorious accomplishment is yet to come. The Jews have for many a generation been cursed by all people. For ages no one had a good word or a kind look for the Jew. In every nation they have been persecuted, and hunted like beasts of prey.... In our own country, in the dark ages, it was accounted God’s service to afflict the Israelites, and the day upon which the Church celebrated our Savior’s passion was chosen for the public stoning of his own brethren if they ventured into the streets. To be a Jew was, in the estimation of that era, to be deserving of all scorn and cruelty, and of no pity or consideration.

To what exactions, to what fines, to what imprisonments and tortures, have not the sons of Jacob been subjected by the professed followers of the Messiah? It is perhaps the greatest of all modern miracles, that there should be one Jew upon earth who is a Christian, for the treatment they have received from pretended Christians has been enough to make them hate the name of Jesus; it has been not simply villainous, but diabolical. Devils in hell could not be more cruel to their victims than professed Christians have been to the sons of Abraham. They have been a curse indeed. The whole vocabulary of abuse from “dog” down to “devil” has been exhausted upon them; among all nations they have been a hissing and a byword. But the day is coming, yea it dawns already, when the whole world shall discern the true dignity of the chosen seed, and shall seek their company, because the Lord hath blessed them. In that day when Israel shall look upon him whom they have pierced, and shall mourn for their sins, the Jew shall take his true rank among the nations as an elder brother and a prince.

The covenant made with Abraham, to bless all nations by his seed, is not revoked; heaven and earth shall pass away, but the chosen nation shall not be blotted out from the book of remembrance. The Lord hath not cast away his people; he has never given their mother a bill of divorcement; he has never put them away; in a little wrath he hath hidden his face from them, but with great mercies will he gather them. The natural branches shall again be engrafted into the olive together with the wild olive graftings from among the Gentiles. In the Jew, first and chiefly, shall grace triumph through the King of the Jews. O time, fly thou with rapid wing, and bring the auspicious day!

From a sermon entitled "Once A Curse But Now A Blessing," delivered December 6, 1863. Flickr photo by Ron Almog; some rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

He will strengthen your heart


“The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.” — 2 Timothy 4:13.

In your greatest trials do you find your fewest friends? Have those who once loved and respected you, fallen asleep in Jesus? And have others turned out to be hypocritical and untrue? What are you to do now? You are to remember this case of the apostle [Paul]; it is put here for your comfort. He had to pass through as deep waters as any that you are called to ford, and yet remember, he says, “Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me.” So now, when man deserts you, God will be your friend. This God is our God for ever and ever — not in sunshiny weather only, but for ever and ever. This God is our God in dark nights as well as in bright days. Go to him, spread your complaint before him.

Murmur not. If Paul had to suffer desertion, you must not expect better usage. Let not your faith fail you, as though some new thing had happened to you. This is common to the saints. David had his Ahithophel, Christ his Judas, Paul his Demas, and can you expect to fare better than they? As you look at that old cloak, as it speaks of human ingratitude, be of good courage, and wait on the Lord, for he shall strengthen thy heart. “Wait, I say, on the Lord.”

From a sermon entitled "Paul - His Cloak and His Books," delivered November 29, 1863. Flickr photo by Forest Wander; some rights reserved.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The value of our troubles

Vanity has covered our eyes with scales more dense, than those which fell from the eyes of Saul of Tarsus. We are always prone to put a high estimate upon what we are, or may be, or can feel, or do. It is clear, then, that self must stand out of the way, that there may be room for God to be exalted; and this is the reason, the true secret, why God brings his people ofttimes into straits and difficulties, that, being brought to their wits’ end, and made conscious of their own folly and weakness, they may be fitted to behold the majesty of God when he comes forth to work their deliverance.

A man whose life shall be one even and smooth path, will see but little of the glory of God, for he has few occasions of self-emptying, and hence, but little fitness for being filled with the revelation of God. They who navigate little streams and shallow creeks, know but little of the God of tempests; but they who “go down to the sea in ships, and do business in great waters, these see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.” Among the huge Atlantic waves of bereavement, poverty, temptation, and reproach, we learn the power of Jehovah, because we feel the littleness of man. Self esteem is that speck in the eye which most effectually mars human vision; the Great Surgeon of souls removes this from us chiefly by sanctified afflictions. At the mouth of the furnace the Great Purifier sits as a Refiner to purify the sons of Levi, and when this work has been achieved, and they have become pure in heart, the divine purpose is accomplished, God’s glory is manifested, for the pure in heart shall see the Lord, Thank God, then, dear brother, if you have been led by a rough road: it is this which has given you your experience of God’s lovingkindness. Your troubles have enriched you with a wealth of knowledge to be gained by no other means; your trials have been the cleft of the rock in which God has set you as he did his servant Moses, that you might behold his glory as it passed by.

From a sermon entitled "Direction in Dilemma," delivered November 22, 1863. Flickr photo by Louise Docker; some rights reserved.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Without guile

You see the lion creeping through the thicket full of cunning; but sheep have none. “Poor, simple sheep,” we say; and God’s people are a simple people. Like Nathaniel of old, we may say of them, “Behold an Israelite indeed in whom is no guile.” Those who are crafty and cunning, betray but very little of the spirit of Jesus. Jesus was no dupe for knaves, but at the same time, a fool was safe in his hands; and so with the Christian, he is not to be so foolish as to be the prey of every deceiver, but he is to be so generous that the most foolish shall never be wronged, or have advantage taken of them by him. The lambs bear this character as well as the sheep; they, too know no guile.

From a sermon entitled "The Lambs And Their Shepherd," delivered November 15, 1863. Flickr photo by b k; some rights reserved.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Follow the Lord

Into the sun

We ought to follow the Lord. The sheep follow the shepherd. “He putteth forth his own sheep,” saith Christ, “and goeth before them, and they follow him.” They follow as the soldier follows the captain; he points the road, leads the van, and bears the thick of the danger, while the faithful warrior keeps close behind. They follow as the disciple follows the Master, not teaching, nor discussing, or disputing, but sitting at his feet, believing that when he leads in the way of knowledge, it is a true and a right way, whereas if we seek to be wise beyond what is written, we make unto ourselves pits and traps, and fall into a snare.

Caleb followed the Lord, many others do the same, but then they could not win that adverb, which is Caleb’s golden medal. He followed the Lord “fully,” says one text, “wholly,” says another. Some of us follow the Lord, but it is a great way off, like Peter, or now and then as did Saul the king. We are not constant; we have not given our whole heart to God. The pith then of the man’s faithful following lies in the adverb — “fully.”

From a sermon entitled "Caleb - The Man For The Times," delivered November 1, 1863. Flickr photo by James Jordan; some rights reserved.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy

“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.”

Hence, present distress must not be viewed as if it would last for ever: it is not the end, by any means, but only a means to the end. Sorrow is our sowing, rejoicing shall be our reaping. If there were no sowing in tears there would be no reaping in joy. If we were never captives we could never lead our captivity captive. Our mouth had never been filled with holy laughter if it had not been first filled with the bitterness of grief. We must sow: we may have to sow in the wet weather of sorrow; but we shall reap, and reap in the bright summer season of joy. Let us keep to the work of this present sowing time, and find strength in the promise which is here so positively given us. Here is one of the Lord's shalls and wills; it is freely given both to workers, waiters, and weepers, and they may rest assured that it will not fail: “in due season they shall reap....”

It is not every sowing which is thus insured against all danger, and guaranteed a harvest; but the promise specially belongs to sowing in tears. When a man's heart is so stirred that he weeps over the sins of others, he is elect to usefulness. Winners of souls are first weepers for souls. As there is no birth without travail, so is there no spiritual harvest without painful tillage. When our own hearts are broken with grief at man's transgression we shall break other men's hearts: tears of earnestness beget tears of repentance: “deep calleth unto deep.”

From the Treasury of David, exposition of Psalm 126:5. Flickr photo by dro!d; some rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I will not leave you orphans

It is the Holy Spirit’s business to see after the saints. “If I go away,” said Jesus, “I will send the Comforter unto you.” So long as they had the personal presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, the disciples could want for nothing. As long as he had a crust of bread, they had half. If he had a place where to lay his head at any time given him by charity, they whould rest with him. “Where I am there shall also my servant be,” was Christ’s loving rule. When he went away, then they were left like orphans until the Spirit of God came as another Comforter, “who should abide with them for ever.” Do you think that the Holy Spirit will neglect his office? O weak and trembling believer, do you imagine that God the Holy Ghost will be negligent of his sacred trust? Can you suppose that he has undertaken what he cannot or will not perform? Now if it be his business to work in you, to strengthen you, to illuminate you, to comfort you, do you suppose he has forgotten you?

From a sermon entitled "Encourage Your Minister," delivered October 18, 1863. Flickr photo by René Ehrhardt; some rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Worldly wisdom

Let me again remind you that the world’s estimation of the Church has frequently been seen in the way in which it will mock at all her teachings. The wise men of this world have always something far superior to anything that the Bible can reveal. Even bishops make great discoveries, and find out that perfect wisdom has made very many blunders in the book of Exodus. New theologians are every now and then starting most remarkable schemes of doctrine — their own wood, hay, and stubble being, in their own opinion, infinitely superior to the gold and the silver, and precious stones of inspiration. Well, they may go on and tell us still that the gospel is a vulgar thing, and only fit for the poor; they may assure us that it will suit very well the uneducated masses, but the intellectual and enlightened few want something better.

Ah! we can well endure their boastings, for the doctrines of grace are the loftiest of all philosophy and the most intellectual of all teachings — because Jehovah-Shammah, the Lord is in them; and where God is, there is perfect wisdom; where God is, there is incomprehensible knowledge. The sum total of all human knowledge is but as a drop of the bucket compared with the wisdom of God; and the wisdom of God is in and with the teachings of his Church, wherever Jesus Christ is lifted up. He is the wisdom of God, and the power of God, and therefore in answer to the world’s vauntings against our folly, we reply, “Ay, but the foolishness of God is wiser than man,” and, in Scripture, “Jehovah-Shammah,” the Lord is there.

From a sermon entitled "Jehovah-Shammah," delivered October 25, 1863. Flickr photo by Julian; some rights reserved.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Better than life itself

Nelson Point sunset

“Because thy lovingkindness is better than life.”

....Life is dear, but God's love is dearer. To dwell with God is better than life at its best; life at ease, in a palace, in health, in honor, in wealth, in pleasure; yea, a thousand lives are not equal to the eternal life which abides in Jehovah's smile. In him we truly live, and move, and have our being; the withdrawal of the light of his countenance is as the shadow of death to us: hence we cannot but long after the Lord's gracious appearing. Life is to many men a doubtful good; lovingkindness is an unquestioned boon: life is but transient, mercy is everlasting: life is shared in by the lowest animals, but the lovingkindness of the Lord is the peculiar portion of the chosen.

From "The Treasury of David," exposition of Psalm 63:3. Flickr photo by James Jordan; some rights reserved.

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Saturday, September 6, 2008

The influence of godliness and religion

tulips at night

The kings of Israel were all idolaters, but yet the presence of a little salt, a few of the godly in the land, had an effect upon the state; and the situation of the little kingdom of Judah, close at their elbow, with its temple and its prophets, influenced the manners and customs of the people, so that “the kings of the house of Israel were merciful kings,” and this not because they feared God themselves, but because there were others who did, and whose influence and example, perhaps, unconsciously, softened public sentiment, and mitigated the ruthless ferocity of war. Is this nothing? Is it not a high honor to the seven thousand who bowed not the knee to Baal, that in this respect they made Baal’s worshippers bow to them?

Little do we know how much of the apparent morality of this country is due to the real religion which we have in our land. There are thousands of men in London who would open their shops tonight, if it were not for the influence of those who fear the Lord; their shops are closed, not because they take any interest in the Christian’s day of rest, but out of respect to custom. Sins, which now hide their heads under the veil of night, would stalk through our streets with barefaced impudence, if once Christianity were withdrawn. Bad as the customs of trade are, without the purifying power of the godly they would be infinitely worse. The whole fabric of our commerce, politics and war, is manifestly affected for the better by our religion. Let those, then, who do not feel its power, yet at least think well of it, from this fact — that it is a blessing to our country; and while other nations have been rent with civil war, while revolution has followed revolution, and class has been set against class, the religion of Jesus Christ has made our land a happy land, and a land, after all, in which there is more generous benevolence towards the needy, and more mutual sympathy, than in any other kingdom or even in any republic beneath the sky. Thank God for true religion! Even if it does not convert a man, yet its presence in his neighborhood tends to sober him, and to keep him from running into so great an excess of riot.

From a sermon entitled "Ben-Hadad's Escape - An Encouragement For Sinners," delivered October 11, 1863. Flickr photo by James Jordan; some rights reserved.

Friday, September 5, 2008


island in the stream

“Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.”

In the court-yards of Oriental houses trees were planted, and being thoroughly screened, they would be likely to bring forth their fruit to perfection in trying seasons; even so, those who by grace are brought into communion with the Lord, shall be likened to trees planted in the Lord's house, and shall find it good to their souls. No heart has so much joy as that which abides in the Lord Jesus. Fellowship with the stem begets fertility in the branches. If a man abide in Christ he brings forth much fruit. Those professors who are rooted to the world do not flourish; those who send forth their roots into the marshes of frivolous pleasure cannot be in a vigorous condition; but those who dwell in habitual fellowship with God shall become men of full growth, rich in grace, happy in experience, mighty in influence, honored and honorable. Much depends upon the soil in which a tree is planted; everything, in our case, depends upon our abiding in the Lord Jesus, and deriving all our supplies from him. If we ever really grow in the courts of the Lord's house we must be planted there, for no tree grows in God's garden self-sown; once planted of the Lord, we shall never be rooted up, but in his courts we shall take root downward, and bring forth fruit upward to his glory for ever.

From the Treasury of David, exposition of Psalm 92:13. Flickr photo by James Jordan; some rights reserved.

Thursday, September 4, 2008



“Keep me as the apple of the eye.”

No part of the body more precious, more tender, and more carefully guarded than the eye; and of the eye, no portion more peculiarly to be protected than the central apple, the pupil, or, as the Hebrew calls it, “the daughter of the eye.” The all-wise Creator has placed the eye in a well-protected position; it stands surrounded by projecting bones like Jerusalem encircled by mountains. Moreover, its great Author has surrounded it with many tunics of inward covering, besides the hedge of the eyebrows, the curtain of the eyelids, and the fence of the eyelashes; and, in addition to this, he has given to every man so high a value for his eyes, and so quick an apprehension of danger, that no member of the body is more faithfully cared for than the organ of sight. Thus, Lord, keep thou me, for I trust I am one with Jesus, and so a member of his mystical body.

“Hide me under the shadow of thy wings.”
Even as the parent bird completely shields her brood from evil, and meanwhile cherishes them with the warmth of her own heart, by covering them with her wings, so do thou with me, most condescending God, for I am thine offspring, and thou hast a parent's love in perfection. This last clause is in the Hebrew in the future tense, as if to show that what the writer had asked for but a moment before he was now sure would be granted to him. Confident expectation should keep pace with earnest supplication.

From the "Treasury of David," exposition of Psalm 17:8. Flickr photo by James Jordan; some rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

When God reaches out to us

sea and sky

All the soldiers and the high priests could not keep the body of Christ in the tomb. Death himself could not hold Christ in his bonds. When the life-pangs first began to move in Jesus, he could no longer be holden of death. Then was death swallowed up in victory. The Father brought forth his begotten Son, and said, “Let all the angels of God worship him.” He was the first begotten from the dead. Irresistible is the power put forth, too, in the Christian. No sin, no corruption, no temptation, no devils in hell, nor sinners upon earth can ever stay the hand of God’s grace when it intends to convert a man. If God says, “Thou shalt,” man shall not say, “I will not,” or, if he do, as the trees of the wood before the hurricane are torn up by the roots, so shall the human will give place to the irresistible power of grace.

From a sermon entitled "The Mighty Power Which Creates and Sustains Faith," delivered October 11, 1863.  Flickr photo by Calum Davidson; some rights reserved.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Pay the price to obtain the wisdom of God!

mountains from the sky

It is worthy of observation, that [the Queen of Sheba] coming from afar, made a journey which cost her very much expense. She came with a great train, with camels bearing spices and very much good and precious stones. She looked upon the treasures of her kingdom as only valuable, because they would admit her into the presence of the keeper of the storehouse of wisdom. Now, our Lord Jesus Christ asks nothing of men except their hearts. He doth not sell the truth to any of them, but gives it freely without money and without price. And what if men will not have it, if they refuse to lend their ears, and to give their thoughts to divine things, shall they not be utterly inexcusable when this heathen queen shall rise up and shall declare that she gave her rubies and her pearls, her spices and her camels to King Solomon, that she might learn his human wisdom?

O sirs, should we lose the light of our eyes and the use of our limbs, yet were it better to enter into life blind and lame, than having those eyes and limbs to be cast into hell fire. “Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life;” and if he would give all that for his temporal life, oh! how much more costly is the spiritual life, and how cheap were the price if he could give a thousand martyrdoms to redeem his soul. But nothing of this kind is asked; the gospel presents freely to every needy soul just that which he requires. It cries — “He that hath no money, let him come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” O my dear hearers, if you have refused the invitation of Christ’s gospel, well may you tremble at the thought, that the Queen of Sheba shall rise up in judgment against you.

From a sermon entitled "The Queen of the South, or The Earnest Enquirer" delivered October 4, 1863. Flickr photo by Dino Olivieri; some rights reserved.