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Saturday, July 14, 2018

Saving Faith # 3

Saving Faith # 3

No, beloved, the reason is this. Conscience tells every unconverted person, whether he like to confess it or not, that after death shall come the judgment; conscience tells him that all shall be judged according to their works- that he cannot abide this fiery trial, because he has sinner and not sought reconciliation, and he feels that he may one day have his part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone. Hence it is that he thinks death a most unpleasant subject, and with all his pride of life stands in cowardly fear of his last day; and hence you may understand how blessed these words would be to a sinner's ear, that "Whoever believes on Him shall not perish but have everlasting life."

Observe now the contents of this promise; look narrowly into it, for it will stand a close examination. The believer shall not perish; this earthly tabernacle may indeed be dissolved, and laid in the grave and see corruption - but the true sting of that death is sin, and this his Saviour has taken on Him and put away. He shall not perish in the day of judgment; the second death can have no power over him, and then the words of our blessed Master shall be found a truth. "This is the will of Him that sent Me, that everyone which sees the Son, and believes on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:40). "I am the resurrection and the life: he who believes on Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die" (11:25, 26).

And more than this: the believer shall have everlasting life. He shall be raised body and soul at our Lord's second coming. He shall have part in that first resurrection, which belongs only to the saints, and finally shall dwell forever in that blessed place where "there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain - for the former things are passed away" (Revelation 21:4).

And now, beloved, judge for yourselves whether it be not true, that our text contains a treasury of precious and most consoling doctrines, and he who can hear it without feeling its value may indeed tremble for the safety of his immortal soul. Believer, let it be your care to carry home these comfortable words on which we have dwelt, and meditate upon them as your daily food throughout the week which is now before you. Let them be ever in your mind, and prepare you for that holy sacrament which Jesus has mercifully ordained; let them add strength to your faith and growth to your sanctification; let them increase your humility and your thankfulness, your zeal for God's glory, and your desire to show forth His praise, your love towards Christ and your love towards your brethren; for surely, dear friends, if God so loved us, it is a small matter if we love our fellow sinners.

And you too, dear brethren, who have dared hitherto, like Gallio, to care for none of these things, you also are appealed to in this text. Learn then, now, if you have not learned it yet, that this single verse, if there were no other, would be sufficient to condemn you in the last day, because it leaves you without excuse for remaining in your sins. You have deserved nothing but wrath; and yet, behold, here is God willing to save, loving, giving, promising all things. Oh! remember how great must be your guilt if you reject so great salvation. You are the very world that God has so loved; for your sakes He gave His only begotten Son, and even now, at this minute, He is inviting you, by me, His minister, to accept the mercy which He freely offers, to be reconciled with Him who will one day be the judge of all (Isaiah 55:1, 2; 1:18; Acts 16:31).

Come then, I entreat you, to your Father, in the name of Christ, for through Him we have boldness and access with confidence. Resist the attempts of the world, the flesh and the devil to detain you; resist even your best friend, if he would keep you back from God and tell you there will be a more convenient season than today. "As though God did beseech you by us; we beg you in Christ's stead, be reconciled to God. For He has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor. 5:20, 21).

~J. C. Ryle~

(The End)

Few Saved # 3

Few Saved # 3

(c) But again, what do people generally think of ministers who preach full the doctrines of the New Testament? Let us see how this question can be answered.

Send a clergyman into a parish who shall "declare all the counsel of God," and "keep back nothing that is profitable." Let him be one who shall clearly proclaim justification by faith - regeneration by the Spirit - and holiness of life. Let him be one who shall draw the line distinctly between the converted and the unconverted,  and give both to sinners and to saints their portion. Let him frequently produce out of the New Testament a plain, unanswerable description of the true Christian's character. Let him show that no man who does not possess that character can have any reasonable hope of being saved. Let him constantly press that description on the consciences of his hearers, and urge upon them repeatedly that every soul who dies without that character will be lost. Let him do this, ably and affectionately, and after all, what will the result be?

The result will be, that while some few repent and are saved, the great majority of his hearers will not receive and believe his doctrine. They may not oppose him publicly. They may even esteem him, and respect him as an earnest, sincere, kind-hearted man, who means well. But they will go no further. He may show them the express words of Christ and His Apostles; he may quote text upon text, and passage upon passage - it will be to no purpose. The great majority of his hearers will think him "too strict," and "too close," and "too particular." They will say among themselves, that the world is not so bad as the minister seems to think - and that people cannot be so good as the minister wants them to be - and that, after all, they hope they shall be all right at the last! I appeal to any minister of the Gospel, who has been any length of time in the ministry, whether I am not stating the truth. Are not these things so?

And what does it prove? It just makes one more proof that people generally are resolved to think that salvation is not a very hard business, and that after all most people will be saved.

Now what solid reason can people show us to these common opinions? Upon what Scripture do they build this notion, that salvation is an easy business, and that most people will be saved? What revelation of God can they show us, to satisfy us that these opinions are sound and true?

They have none - literally none at all. They have not a text of Scripture which, fairly interpreted, supports their views. They have not a reason which will bear examination. They speak smooth things about one another's spiritual state, just because they do not like to admit that there is danger. They build up one another into an easy, self-satisfied state of soul, in order to soothe their consciences and make things pleasant. They cry "Peace, peace," over one another's graves because they want it to be so, and would gladly persuade themselves that so it is. Surely against such hollow, foundationless opinions as these, a minister of the Gospel may well protest.

The plain truth is that the world's opinion is worth nothing in matters of religion. About the price of an ox, or a horse, or a farm, or the value of labor - about wages and work - about money, about business, arts, science and politics - about all such things the people of the world may give a correct opinion. But we must beware, if we love life, of being guided by man's judgment in the things that concern salvation. "The natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him" (1 Cor. 2:14).

Let us remember, above all, that it never will do to think as others do, if we want to get to heaven. No doubt it is easy work to "go with the crowd" in religious matters. It will save us much trouble to swim with the stream and tide. We shall be spared much ridicule- we shall be freed from much unpleasantness. But let us remember, once for all, that the world's mistakes about salvation are many and dangerous. Unless we are on our guard against them we shall never be saved.

3. Let me show, in the third place, what the Bible says about the number of the saved.

There is only one standard of truth and error to which we ought to appeal. That standard is the Holy Scripture. Whatever is there written we must receive and believe; whatever cannot be proved by Scripture we ought to refuse!

Can any reader of this paper subscribe to this? If he cannot, there is little chance of his being moved by any words of mine. If he can, let him give me his attention for a few moments, and I will tell him some solemn things.

Let us look, then, for one thing, at one single text of Scripture, and examine it well. We shall find it in Matthew 7:13, 14. "Enter in by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter in by it. How narrow is the gate, and restricted is the way that leads to life! Few of those who find it." Now these are the words of our Lord Jesus Christ. They are the words of Him who was very God, and whose words shall never pass away. They are the words of Him who knew what was in man - who knew things to come, and things past - who knew that He should judge all people at the last day. And what do those words mean? Are they words which no man can understand without a knowledge of Hebrew or Greek? No - they are not!! Are they a dark, unfulfilled prophecy, like the visions in Revelation, or the description of Ezekiel's temple? No - they are not! Are they a deep mysterious saying, which no human intellect can fathom? No - they are not! The words are clear, plain, and unmistakable. Ask any laboring man who can read, and he will tell you so. There is only one meaning which can be attached to them. Their meaning is, that many people will be lost - and few will be saved.

Let us look, in the next place, at the whole history of mankind as respects religion, as we have it given in the Bible. Let us go through the whole four thousand years, over which the history of the Bible reaches. Let us find, if we can, one single period of time at which godly people were many, and ungodly people were few.

~J. C. Ryle~

(continued with # 4)

Few Saved # 2

Few Saved # 2

3. To be saved, is to be delivered in the day of judgment, from all the awful consequences of sin. It is to be declared blameless, spotless, faultless, and complete in Christ, while others are found guilty, and condemned forever. It is to hear those comfortable words, "Come, you who are blessed!" While others are hearing those fearful words, "Depart, you who are cursed!" (Matt. 25:34, 41). It is to be owned and confessed by Christ, as one of His dear children and servants, while others are disowned and cast off forever. It is to be pronounced free from the portion of the wicked - the worm which never dies, the fire which is not quenched - the weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth, which never ends. It is to receive the reward prepared for the righteous, in the day of Christ's second coming - the glorious body - the kingdom that is incorruptible - the crown that fades not away - and the joy that is for evermore. This is complete salvation. This is the redemption for which true Christians are bid to look and long. (Luke 21:28). This is the heritage of all men and women who believe and are born again. By faith they are saved already. In the eye of God their final salvation is an absolutely certain thing. Their names are in the book of life. Their mansions in heaven are even now prepared. But still there is a fullness of redemption and salvation which they do not attain to while they are in the body. They are saved from the quilt and power of sin - but not from the necessity of watching and praying against it. They are saved from the fear and love of the world - but not from the necessity of daily fighting with it. They are saved from the service of the devil - but they are not saved from being vexed by his temptations. But when Christ comes the salvation of believers shall be complete. They posses it already in the bud. They shall see it then in the flower.

Such is salvation. It is to be saved from the guilt, power, and consequences of sin. It is to believe and be sanctified now, and to be delivered from the wrath of God in the last day. He who has the first part in the life that now is, shall undoubtedly have the second part in the life to come. Both parts of it hang together. What God has joined together, let no man dare to put asunder. Let none dream he shall ever be saved at last, if he is not born again first. Let none doubt, if he is born again here, that he shall assuredly be saved hereafter.

Let it never be forgotten that the chief object of a minister of the Gospel is to set forward the salvation of souls. I lay it down as a certain fact that he is no true minister who does not feel this. Talk not of a man's ordination! All may have been done correctly, and according to rule. He may wear a black coat, and be called a "reverend" man. But if the saving of souls is not the grand interest - the ruling passion - the absorbing thought of his heart - he is no true minister of the Gospel - he is a hireling, and not a shepherd. Congregations may have called him - but he is not called by the Holy Spirit. Bishops may have ordained him; but not Christ.

For what purpose do people suppose that ministers are sent forth? Is it merely to wear ecclesiastical vestments - and read the services - and preach a certain number of sermons? Is it merely to administer the sacraments, and officiate at weddings and funerals? Is it merely to get a comfortable living, and be in a respectable profession? NO!, indeed! we are sent forth for other ends than these. We are sent to turn people from darkness to light, and from the power of satan unto God. We are sent to persuade people to flee from the service of the world to the service of God - to awaken the sleeping, to arouse the careless - and "by all means to save some" (1 Cor. 9:22).

Think not that all is done when we have set up regular services, and persuaded people to attend them. Think not that all is done, when full congregations are gathered, and the Lord's table is crowded, and the parish school is filled. We want to see manifest work of the Spirit among people - an evident sense of sin - a lively faith in Christ - a decided change of heart - a distinct separation from the world - a holy walk with God. In one word, we want to see souls saved! And we are fools and impostors - blind leaders of the blind, if we rest satisfied with anything less.

After all the grand object of having a religion is to be saved. This is the great question that we have to settle with our consciences. The matter for our consideration is not whether we go to church or chapel - whether we go through certain forms and ceremonies - whether we observe certain days, and perform a certain number of religious duties. The matter is whether, after all, we shall be "saved." Without this all our religious doings are weariness and labor in vain.

Never, never let us be content with anything short of a saving religion. Surely to be satisfied with a religion which neither gives peace in life, nor hope in death, nor glory in the world to come - is childish folly.

2. Let me in the second place, point out the MISTAKES which are common in the world about the number of the saved.

I need not go far for evidence on this subject. I will speak of things which every man may see with his own eyes, and hear with his own ears.

I will try to show that there is a wide-spread delusion abroad about this matter, and that this very delusion is one of the greatest dangers to which our souls are exposed.

(a) What then do people generally think about the spiritual state of others while they are alive? What do they think of the souls of their relatives, and friends, and neighbors, and acquaintances? Let us just see how that question can be answered.

They know that all around them are going to die, and to be judged. They know that they have souls to be lost or saved. And what, to all appearance, do they consider their end is likely to be?

Do they think those around them are in danger of the bottomless pit? There is nothing whatever to show they think so. They eat and drink together; they laugh, and talk, and walk, and work together. They seldom or never speak to one another of God and eternity. I ask anyone, who knows the world, as in the sight of God, is it not so?

Will they allow that anybody is wicked or ungodly? Never, hardly, whatever may be his way of life. He may be a breaker of of Sabbath; he may be a neglecter of the Bible; he may be utterly without evidence of true religion. His friends will often tell you, "It does not matter! He has a good heart at the bottom, and is not a grossly wicked man."

I ask anyone, who knows the world, as in God's sight, is it not so? And what does this prove? It proves that people flatter themselves there is no great difficulty in getting to heaven. It proves plainly that people are of opinion that most people will be saved.

(b) But what do people generally think about the spiritual state of others after they are dead? Let us just see how this question can be answered.

People allow, if they are not infidels, that all who die have gone to a place of happiness, or of misery. And to which of these two places do they seem to think the greater part of people go, when they leave this world?

I say, without fear of contradiction, that there is an unhappily common fashion of speaking well of the condition of all who have departed this life. It matter little, apparently, how a man has behaved while he lived. He may have given no signs of repentance, or faith in Christ; he may have been ignorant of the plan of salvation set forth in the Gospel; he may have shown no evidence whatever of conversion or sanctification; he may have lived and died like a creature without a soul. And yet, as soon as this man is dead, people will dare to say that he is "probably happier than ever he was in his life." They will tell you complacently, that "he has gone to a better world." They will shake their heads gravely, and say they "hope he is in heaven." They will follow him to the grave without fear and trembling, and speak of his death afterwards as "a blessed change for him." They may have disliked him, and thought him a bad man while he was alive; but the moment he is dead they turn around in their opinions and say they trust he is gone to heaven! I have no wish to hurt anyone's feelings. I only ask anyone, who knows the world - Is it not true?

And what does it all prove? It just supplies one more awful proof that people are determined to believe it is an easy business to get to heaven. People will have it that most people are saved.

~J. C. Ryle~

(continued with # 3)

The Mind of Christ # 5

The Mind of Christ # 5

It would appear from the spirit and conduct of some, as if to be zealots for a creed or a church, were the true signs of discipleship, instead of the temper of Jesus; and yet an apostle has told us, that "if any man has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His," (Rom. 8:9). Many had need study afresh the elemental principles of our holy religion, to learn in what it truly consists. And if they will allow Christ and His apostles to teach them, instead of fathers and doctors, councils and convocations, they would learn that the creeds and the ceremonies of the church are poor substitutes for the mind of Christ.

Therefore, my dear friends, I entreat you cultivate the Christian temper; seek for the Spirit of Christ, and be content with nothing short of the mind that was in Him. Let me entreat you to contemplate Him - first upon the throne of glory, adored by angels; and then upon the Cross of Calvary, despised, rejected, insulted, murdered by men; and when you have been filled with astonishment at the grace that induced Him thus to humble Himself, examine yourselves as to what you know of the holy and humble benevolence which dictated this wondrous, yes, this ineffably mysterious condescension. Confine your attention for a while to this one point of inquiry - let go everything else for a season; drop creeds, sacraments, sabbaths, ordinances, alms-deeds, and press right home to your conscience the question, "What do I have of the mind of Christ?"  Does my heart answer, does my disposition correspond, to the holy, meek, humble, forgiving, benevolent, patient, self-denying mind of Christ? Do men who know the beauty and glory of the original, as it is delineated on the page of the gospel, when they see me, say, "There is the image of Christ!" Or do they look skeptically on, and after standing in silence for some time, profess they can see little or no resemblance? Can you hold up your spirit and disposition to the world, and say, "Behold the mind of Christ?" Will Christ acknowledge your mind to be His mind? Oh, be satisfied with nothing short of a copy of Christ's heart into yours. You must go lower, lower, lower yet, in self-denying service for God and His saints.

I need scarcely point out to you again the intimate connection between the practical principles of Christianity, and the great doctrines of Christianity. Take away the incarnation of our Lord, His sacrifice upon the Cross, and His atoning death, and the gospel loses its glorious peculiarities. And if you blot out His Divinity, His atonement loses its efficacy, and His example its power. "If we take away His divinity," says Mr. Hall, "this great example dwindles into nothing. Rob Him of His Divinity, and you divest Him of His humility. It is this which renders His sacrifice of infinite value, His Cross so inexpressibly awful and interesting, and to His people so inefffably precious. The Cross of Jesus Christ is the appropriate, the appointed rendezvous of heaven and earth - the meeting place between God and the sinner. Deprive Jesus Christ of His Divinity, and all these momentous truths dwindle into inexpressible futilities. Doctrines meant to warm  and kindle our hearts, fill us with perplexity. When we look for a glorious mystery, we find nothing but the obscurity which makes men rack their invention to find out the meaning of those passages, which it is plain the apostle poured forth in a stream of exquisite affection and delight."

And never, never forget, my friends, that the Divinity of Christ, however firmly it may be held, is never properly felt, never rightly improved, nor truly enjoyed, until it is experienced to be a doctrine that fills the soul with a vivid resemblance to that holiness, benevolence, and humility, which were so conspicuously displayed by Him, "who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God - but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men - and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross."

~John Angell James~

(The End)

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Few Saved # 1

Few Saved # 1

"Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?" He said to them, "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because I tell you, many will try to enter and won't be able" (Luke 13:23-24).

"Enter in by the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter in by it. How narrow is the gate, and restricted is the way that leads to life! Few are those who find it" (Matthew 7:13-14)

I take it for granted that every reader of this paper calls himself a Christian. You would not like to be reckoned a deist, or an infidel. You profess to believe the Bible to be true. The birth of Christ the Saviour - the death of Christ the Saviour - the salvation provided by Christ the Saviour, all these are facts which you have probably never doubted. But, after all, will Christianity like this profit you anything at last? Will it do your soul any good when you die? In one word - Shall you be saved?

It may be you are now young, healthy and strong. Perhaps you never had a day's illness in your life, and scarcely know what it is to feel weakness and pain. You scheme and plan for future years, and feel as if death was far away, and out of sight. Yet, remember, death sometimes cuts off young people in the flower of their days. The strong and healthy of the family do not always live the longest. Your sun may go down before your life has reached its mid-day. Yet a little while, and you may be lying in a narrow, silent home, and the daisies may be growing over your grave! And then, consider - Shall you be saved?

It may be you are rich and prosperous in this world. You have money, and all that money can command. You have "honor, love, obedience, troops of friends." But, remember, "riches are not forever." You cannot keep them longer than a few years. "It is appointed unto people once to die, and after this the judgment." (Prov. 17:24; Heb. 9:27). And then, consider - Shall you be saved?

It may be you are poor and needy. You have scarcely enough to provide food and raiment for yourself and family. You are often distressed for lack of comforts, which you have no power to get. Like Lazarus, you seem to have "bad things" only, and not good. But, nevertheless, you take comfort in the thought that there will be an end of all this. There is a world to come, where poverty and need shall be unknown. Yet, consider a moment - Shall you be saved?

It may be you have a weak and sickly body. You hardly know what it is to be free from pain. You have so long parted company with health, that you have almost forgotten what it is like. You have often said in the morning, "Would God it were evening," - and in the evening, "Would God it were morning." There are days when you are tempted by very weariness to cry out with Jonah, "It is better for me to die than to live." (Jonah 4:3). But, remember, death is not all. There is something else beyond the grave! And then, consider - Shall you be saved?

If it was an easy thing to be saved, I would not write as I do in this volume. But is it so? Let us see.

If the common opinion of people of the world as to the number of the saved was correct, I would not trouble people with searching and hard questions. But is it so? Let us see.

If God had never spoken plainly in the Bible about the number of the saved, I might well be silent. But is it so? Let us see.

If experience and fact left it doubtful whether many or few would be saved, I might hold my peace. But is it so? Let us see.

There are four points which I propose to examine in considering the subject before us.

1. Let me explain what it is to be saved.

2. Let me point out the mistakes which are common in the world about the number of the saved.

3. Let me show what the Bible says about the number of the saved.

4. Let me bring forward some plain facts as to the number of the saved.

A calm examination of these four points, in a day of wide-spread carelessness about vital religion, will be found of vast importance to our souls.

First of all let me explain what it is to be saved. This is a matter that must be cleared us. Until we know this, we shall make no progress. By being "saved" I may mean one thing, and you may mean another. Let me show you what the Bible says it is to be "saved," and then there will be no misunderstanding. To be saved, is not merely to profess and all ourselves Christians. We may have all the outward parts of Christianity, and yet be lost after all. We may be baptized into Christ's church - to to Christ's table - have Christian knowledge - be reckoned Christian men and women - and yet be dead souls all our lives, and at last, in the judgment day, be found on Christ's left hand, among the goats! No - this is not salvation! Salvation is something far higher and deeper than this. Now what is it?

1. To be saved, is to be delivered in this present life from the GUILT of sin, by faith in Jesus Christ, the Saviour. It is to be pardoned, justified, and freed from every charge of sin, by faith in Christ's blood and mediation. Whoever with his heart believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, is a saved soul. He shall not perish. He shall have eternal life. This is the first part of salvation, and the root of all the rest. But this is not all.

2. To be saved, is to be delivered in this present life from the POWER of sin, by being born again, and SANCTIFIED by the Holy Spirit. It is to be freed from the hateful dominion of sin, the world, and the devil, by having a new nature put in us by the Holy Spirit. Whoever is thus renewed in the spirit of his mind, and converted, is a saved soul. He shall not perish. He shall enter into the glorious kingdom of God. This is the second part of salvation. But this is not all.

~J. C. Ryle~

(continued with # 2)

The Mind of Christ # 4

The Mind of Christ # 4

See, my dear friends, what true religion is - not, as I have had frequent occasion to remark, mere churchmanship or dissent; not episcopacy, Presbyterianism, independency, Methodism, or baptism; not orthodoxy of creed, or gorgeousness of ceremony; not a matter of church government, or of spiritual organization. No! No! True religion is having the mind of Christ. Did it ever occur to you to examine how little is said by the sacred writers, about observing the sabbath and the sacraments; about public worship and religious ceremonies; compared with what is said about holiness, benevolence, and humility? But, alas! Alas! how much more eager are the multitudes of professors about the one than the other, inverting Christ's order, and setting forms above the Holy Spirit - just because it is so much more easy, and so much more congenial with all the feelings of our proud and corrupt nature to hear a sermon, observe a sacrament, and repose for safety upon the trueness of our church - than to mortify the corruptions of our own mind, and to transplant into it the virtues and the graces of the mind of Christ.

For what purpose have four different pens been employed by the hand of inspiration, in writing the Gospels - but to show us the mind of Christ for our imitation, as well as His atoning work for our salvation, and by this quadruple delineation of His beautiful character, to impress us not only with its charms - but with the necessity of our resembling it!

See how the life of piety is to be promoted - by reading the Gospels, and that not only to learn how sin is to be pardoned - but what holiness is, and how it is to be promoted. Religion in us is no fancy sketch; no original picture; but a copy, and Christ is the original. To this we must sit down, with the determination, and the hope, of producing, by the help of Divine grace, something resembling it in ourselves; and like artists keeping their eyes constantly upon the original they are copying, not for the purpose of admiring it merely, though they do this, and their admiration helps their object in copying - but for the purpose of producing as perfect a resemblance as possible. So must we, in reading the Gospels, keep our minds intently fixed upon the conduct and spirit of Jesus, not merely to see and say, "How beautiful!" but to copy it!

If nothing short of this be true religion, how comparatively little of it is there in our world. If the mind of Christ in us be necessary to make out our claim to the character of a Christian, how many must forgo the honor. It is enough to make us all tremble for ourselves and one another. Where and in whom is to be seen the union of holiness, benevolence, and condescension, which formed the character of the Saviour? is this holiness to be found in those professors who, though they are free from external vice and immorality, allow the corruption of their heart to go unmortified; and who indulge, instead of crucifying, the passions and lusts of the flesh? Is His benevolence to be found in those who are so fond of the world, so grasping, and so hoarding, that little or nothing can be extorted from their reluctant hands for the salvation of sinners, and the glory of God? And then where is His humility to be seen in His followers? Is it to be found in those who will never forgo a single point of precedence, or one punctilio of etiquette; who will have their rights, and all their rights, at whatever cost of principle or peace; who are so tenacious of all that belongs to them, not only in the way of property - but of influence and respect, that they will not brook the least slight - but resent the smallest possible neglect of their claims, or infringement of their prerogative, or opposition to their will, with all the boilings of wounded pride, and mortified vanity? They are so filled with high notions and excessive admiration of their own fancied greatness and excellence, that if they are not flattered and caressed, they will feel as if they were robbed of their rights, and retire in disgust and indignation.

Oh, is this the mind that was in Christ?? It is matter of little astonishment that the people of the world should not evince the Christian temper; but that the professed disciples of Christ should be so lacking in it, is as surprising as it is painful. It might have been expected that in the school of such a Master, self-denial and humility would have been accounted by His disciples cardinal virtues; that all would commence the cultivation of these Christlike virtues the moment they took their place at His feet; and that the post of honor and ambition with them, would be the lowest instead of the highest place. Yet how widely different is the case. It would seem as if men had yet to learn either what the mind of Christ really is, or that this mind was binding upon them; and as if it were the design of Christianity to form the proud, intolerant, and selfish ecclesiastic professor - rather than the holy, meek, and humble Christian.

~John Angell James~

(continued with # 5)

Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit

How much we are indebted to the Holy Spirit, and how apt we are to forget, or lose sight of our obligations to Him! Jesus, who knew all about our nature, and Who knew all that would happen to His people in this world - in order to allay their fears, comfort their hearts, and fortify their souls. - promised them the Holy Spirit. What He promised , He performed - and the Holy Spirit is in the Church, and in every true believer, as the gift of Jesus.

The Holy Spirit teaches us, helps our infirmities, testifies of Jesus, sympathizes with us, and will never leave us as long as we listen and obey.

I wish to dwell for a few minutes, and to write a few lines on this subject, for the benefit of my own soul, and for the profit of others. Lord, help me! Let no unworthy thought enter into my mind. Let no improper word drop from my pen. I would honor the Blessed Comforter, and glorify His most holy Name.

The Holy Spirit is with us for the most important purposes, and to perform a most glorious work.

The Holy Spirit is with us to animate us in conflict. We have to do battle with most determined foes. With indwelling sin, the god of this world, and the evil world itself - all being in league against us - we would faint and give up the contest often, were it not that the Holy Spirit points us to our great Captain,fixes the eye on the crown, and brings home the precious promises, which animate and stimulate us afresh.

The Holy Spirit is with us to strengthen us in duty. many of our duties are very arduous, and exceedingly trying to flesh and blood. We would shrink from them, or fail in them - but that the Holy Spirit, by fresh communications of grace, and supplies from the fullness of Christ - strengthens us with strength in our souls.

The Holy Spirit is with us to console in sorrow. He is entitled, "the Comforter." And as such, He administers the choicest consolation to us. Our sorrows are at times very deep. They appear to be overwhelming. We fear we shall sink under them - but the Holy Spirit leads us to Gethsemane, or to Calvary - to have fellowship with Christ in His sufferings. Or He directs our thoughts forward to the end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls,and so administers consolation to us.

The Holy Spirit is with us to sanctify in joy. As our sorrows may fill us with gloom, and overwhelm us with distress - so our joys may unduly elate, or make us light and vain. To prevent this, the Holy Spirit reminds us of what we were, or what we would have been - but for the grace of God. He refers us to many who have fallen, or have become carnal and vain - and so preserves us serious, watchful, and prayerful.

The Holy Spirit is with us to enlighten in perplexity. This He does by throwing light upon our path, by unfolding the Word of God, or by shining into our minds.

Then we stand and wait to see. We wait for the Lord. We look out to see our Father's hand clearing our path. We listen to hear the voice behind us, which says, "This is the way - walk in it."

The Holy Spirit is with us to help in prayer. For, with the Apostle, we can say, "We know not what to pray for as  we ought," therefore "the Spirit helps our infirmities." We have neither light to see what we need, nor faith to believe the promises made to us, nor power to plead with God and prevail - but as the Holy Spirit renders us assistance. He teaches us for what to pray for, and how to pray. He prompts, suggests, and renders us successful at the throne of grace.

The Holy Spirit is with us to inspire in praise. Our praises are often very dull. Gratitude is a scarce thing with us. But our praise would be dullness itself, and gratitude to God would be a stranger to our bosom - but for the Holy Spirit. Blessed Comforter, animate me in all my conflicts, strengthen me in every duty, console me under my sorrows, sanctify me in all my joys, enlighten me in all my perplexities, help me in all my prayers, and inspire all my praises to my covenant God and Father!

The Holy Spirit imparts penitence for sin, working in us repentance unto life.

He produces aspirations after holiness, so that we pant to be made pure in body, soul, and spirit.

He gives love to duty, so that we choose the things that please God, esteem all His precepts concerning all things to be right, and hate every false way.

He leads into correct views of truth, so that we escape the errors that float around us, and  are preserved from damnable heresies.

He generates humbling thoughts of self, so that we are not inflated with pride - but lie low before God in self-abasement, admiring His free and sovereign grace, which has made us to differ from others.

He gives us liberty in prayer, so that we plead with God, as a man pleads with his friend; and at times, we feel no where so much at home, as at the mercy-seat, when alone with God.

The Holy Spirit produces delight in God's law, He shows us its beauty and excellency, assures us that we are delivered from its curse, and shall ultimately be so sanctified, that every vibration of the soul will be in exact conformity with it.

He fills us with confidence and joy in Christ - then every tear is dissipated, peace and profound happiness are enjoyed, foretastes of Heaven are realized, and we often long to depart and be with Christ - which is far better.

Reader, have you received the Holy Spirit? Do you know anything of receiving supplies of the Spirit of Christ? Does the Holy Spirit dwell in you, work in you, and endear Jesus to you? The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of life - and without Him we are dead in sin, alienated from the life of God, and are totally unfit for Heaven!

As there is no pardon - but through the blood of Christ; so there is no holiness - but through the Spirit of Christ. And as the blood of Christ will not avail for us, unless it is applied to us; so the Spirit of Christ will not sanctify us, unless He dwells in us.

We cannot get to heaven without a pardon; nor obtain a pardon but through the blood of Jesus; no more can we see God without holiness; nor be made holy - but by the Spirit of Jesus.

We do not more need a dying Saviour on the Cross - than we need the living, and life-giving Spirit in our hearts!

See to it then, that you have the fullness of the Spirit of Christ dwelling in you, for Jesus has said, "If you being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children - then how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit unto those who ask Him." Ask then, and receive - and so you will be safe!

~James Smith~