Nearness to God

You have seen a little child when it is greatly pleased with a gift from its mother’s hand; it says but little by way of gratitude, but it falls to kissing its mother at a vehement rate. as though it never could be done. Such drawing near in love exists between a regenerate soul and its God.

True saints fall to close embraces of gratitude; exhibiting thankfulness inexpressible, real and deep, and therefore not to be worded; weights of love too heavy to be carried on the backs of such poor staggering bearers as our words. This is drawing near to God, and it is good for us. As when on a sultry day the traveller strips off his garments and plunges into the cool, refreshing brook, and rises from it invigorated to pursue his way, so when a spirit has learned either in prayer or in praise really to draw near to God, it bathes itself in the brooks of heaven (streamlets branching from the river of the water of life), and goes on its way refreshed with heavenly strength.

—Charles H. Spurgeon
Flashes of Thought (Passmore and Alabaster, 1874).

Guard Your Eyes and Ears

Set a strong guard about your outward senses

These are Satan’s landing places, especially the eye and the ear. Take heed what you import at these; vain discourse seldom passes without leaving some tincture upon the heart.… And for your eye, let it not wander; wanton objects cause wanton thoughts.

—William Gurnall
Adapted from  The Christian in Complete Armour, 131.

Even Old Horses Need Bridles

“Not only colts, but horses already broken, need a bridle.”

So also do we who are advanced in years and full of experience. Old men are not always wise men. Passions which should have been by this time quite subdued still need bit and bridle, or they may hurry us into fatal errors. Flesh does not improve by keeping, nor do corruptions sweeten by the lapse of years. New converts need to watch in the morning of their days, but old saints must be equally on their guard, for the hours become no safer as they draw toward evening.

We are all within gunshot of the enemy as long as we are this side of Jordan.

“Without me ye can do nothing,” is as true of strong men as of babes in grace. Temptation, like fire, will burn where the wood is green, and certainly it hath no less power where the fuel is old and sere.

We shall need to be kept by grace till we are actually in glory.

Those who think themselves at heaven’s gate may yet sin their souls into the deepest hell, unless the unchanging love and power of God shall uphold them even to the end.

Lord, bit and bridle me, I pray thee, and never let me break loose from thy divine control. Conduct me every mile of the road till I reach my everlasting home.

—Charles H. Spurgeon
Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden (Passmore & Alabaster, 1883).

Cherishing Secret Sins

Go down into your hearts and take the keys of them and ransack your private cupboards, and narrowly observe what junkets your souls have until now lived upon, and gone behind the door and there secretly and stoutly have made a meal of them. Delights are secret things, as treasures are. As dogs … have bones they hide, and secretly steal forth to gnaw upon, so men have sins they hide under their tongues as sweet bits.

—Thomas Goodwin
Adapted from The Works of Thomas Goodwin, 6:472.

The Importance of Christ’s Death

Great is the importance of Christ’s death

We must all see, on a moment’s reflection, that without a real death there could be no real sacrifice; that without a real death there could be no real resurrection; and that without a real death and real resurrection, the whole of Christianity is a house built on sand, and has no foundation at all.

—J. C. Ryle
Adapted from Expository Thoughts on the Gospels

Christ’s Exaltation in Humiliation

Christ was in the greatest degree of His humiliation in His dying on the cross, and yet by that, above all other things, His divine glory appears.

Christ’s humiliation was great, in being born in such a low condition, of a poor virgin, and in a stable: His humiliation was great, in being subject to Joseph the carpenter, and Mary His mother, and afterwards living in poverty, so as not to have where to lay His head, and in suffering such manifold and bitter reproaches as He suffered, while He went about preaching and working miracles.

But His humiliation was never so great, as it was in His last sufferings, beginning with His agony in the Garden, till He expired on the cross.

Never was He subject to such ignominy as then; never did He suffer so much pain in His body, or so much sorrow in His soul; never was He in so great an exercise of His condescension, humility, meekness, and patience, as He was in these last sufferings; never was His divine glory and majesty covered with so thick and dark a veil; never did He so empty himself, and make Himself of no reputation, as at this time. And yet never was His divine glory so manifested, by any act of His, as in that act, of yielding Himself up to these sufferings.

When the fruit of it came to appear, and the mystery and ends of it to be unfolded, in the issue of it, then did the glory of it appear; then did it appear, as the most glorious act of Christ that ever He exercised towards the creature.

—Jonathan Edwards
Adapted from Sermons and Discourses, 1734-1738, The Works of Jonathan Edwards (Yale University Press, 2001), 576–577.

The Giant and the Straw

“A giant striking with a straw cannot put forth his strength with it. So in blessing, no creature nor ordinance can convey all the goodness of God to us.” —Thomas Manton

The best preacher is no better than a straw, in and of himself. God shows his omnipotence by accomplishing anything with such poor tools as we are. Were he not Almighty the infirmities of his servants would cause him to fail in every design in which he employs them. As it is, the fact of our unfitness should greatly enhance our sense of his glory. This feebleness on the part of the fittest instrument makes it imperative that the Lord’s own Spirit should work in men’s hearts over and above his working through the means. New hearts cannot be created by mere human voices: these are more qualified to call beasts to their fodder than dead souls out of their spiritual graves. The Holy Ghost must himself breathe life and infuse strength into men; for his ministers are little better than the staff of Elijah, which was laid upon the dead child, but neither hearing nor answering resulted from it.

The figure of a giant using a straw as a cudgel is not, however, perfect unless we picture him as able to strengthen the straw, till he strikes with it as with a hammer and dashes rocks in pieces; for even thus the Lord doth by his feeble servants. Hath he not said,

“Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the Lord, and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff. Thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them: and thou shalt rejoice in the Lord, and shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel?” (Isaiah 41:14-16)

O thou Almighty One, continue to display thine omnipotence by using me, even me, the least and feeblest of all thine instruments.

—Charles H. Spurgeon
Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden (Passmore & Alabaster, 1883).

Forgetting the Prize of Christ

It is a most lamentable thing to see how most men do spend their care, their time, their pains, for known vanities, while God and glory are cast aside

That He who is all should seem to them as nothing, and that which is nothing should seem to them as good as all.

That God should set mankind in such a race where heaven or hell is their certain end, and that they should sit down, and loiter, or run after the childish toys of the world, and so much forget the prize that they should run for.

—Richard Baxter
Adapted from “Making Light of Christ and Salvation,” in The World’s Great Sermons, 2:60.

No God for a no-god

He who dares to deny God with his lips, sets up something or other as a god in his heart

Is it not lamentable that the sacred truth of God, consented to by all nations, which is the band of civil societies, the source of all order in the world, should be denied with a bare face and disputed against in creaturely companies, and the glory of a wise Creator ascribed to an unintelligent nature, to blind chance?

—Stephen Charnock
Adapted from The Complete Works of Stephen Charnock, 1:176.

Love God Above All, or Not at All

Where God is not loved above all, he is not loved at all

It is but a false pretense of love to God that any man has who lives in any known sin. There is no love to God where men will not part with one cursed lust for His sake. Do not let your light deceive you, nor your gifts, nor your duties, nor your profession; if you live in sin, you do not love God.

—John Owen
Adapted from The Works of John Owen, 7:463