A purchased peace

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Christ hath purchased peace for his people; and what Christ hath purchased for them, God the Father is engaged to give unto them. Read the purchase in Eph. 2:13-14, “But now in Christ Jesus, ye who were sometimes afar off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us. Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments, for to make in himself of twain, one new man, so making peace.” Verse 16, “And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby; and came and preached peace unto you that were afar off, and to them that were nigh.” So that thus ye see it is the purchase of Jesus Christ: this inward peace and quietness of soul, it is Christ’s purchase; and what Christ the Son hath purchased, God the Father is engaged to give.

William Bridge, A Lifting Up for the Downcast

Pride is spiritual cancer

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It is a terrible thing that the worst of all the vices can smuggle itself into the very centre of our religious life. But you can see why. The other, and less bad, vices come from the devil working on us through our animal nature. But this does not come through our animal nature at all. It comes direct from Hell. It is purely spiritual: consequently it is far more subtle and deadly. For the same reason, Pride can often be used to beat down the simpler vices.

Teachers, in fact, often appeal to a boy’s Pride, or, as they call it, his self-respect, to make him behave decently: many a man has overcome cowardice, or lust, or ill-temper, by learning to think that they are beneath his dignity—that is, by Pride. The devil laughs. He is perfectly content to see you becoming chaste and brave and self-controlled provided, all the time, he is setting up in you the Dictatorship of Pride—just as he would be quite content to see your chilblains cured if he was allowed, in return, to give you cancer. For Pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (Kindle location 1625)

Mere oratory will only create sham and shame

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Brethren, we have been greatly disappointed, have we not, with some of our converts? We shall always be disappointed with them so far as they are our converts. We shall greatly rejoice over them when they prove to be the Lord’s work. When the power of grace works in them, (“Glory!”) then it will be, as my brother says, “Glory!” and nothing else but glory; for grace brings glory, but mere oratory will only create sham and shame in the long run.…

It is not our way of putting the gospel, nor our method of illustrating it, which wins souls, but the gospel itself does the work in the hands of the Holy Ghost, and to Him we must look for the thorough conversion of men. A miracle is to be wrought by which our hearers shall become the products of that mighty power which God wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly place far above all principality and power; and for this we must look out of ourselves to the living God. Must we not? We go in, then, for thorough downright conversion; and therefore we fall back upon the power of the Holy Spirit. If it be a miracle, God must work it, that is clear; it is not to be accomplished by our reasoning, or persuasion, or threatening, it can only come from the Lord.

Charles Spurgeon, The Soul Winner

Why are we so bewitched with vanities?

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Can man make for himself gods? Such are not gods!—Jer. 16:20

It is truly said that “they are no gods,” for the objects of our foolish love are very doubtful blessings, the solace which they yield us now is dangerous, and the help which they can give us in the hour of trouble is little indeed. Why, then, are we so bewitched with vanities? We pity the poor heathen who adore a god of stone, and yet worship a god of gold. Where is the vast superiority between a god of flesh and one of wood? The principle, the sin, the folly is the same in either case, only that in ours the crime is more aggravated because we have more light, and sin in the face of it. The heathen bows to a false deity, but the true God he has never known; we commit two evils, inasmuch as we forsake the living God and turn unto idols. May the Lord purge us all from this grievous iniquity!

Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening

What is the best safe-guard against false teaching?

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What is the best safe-guard against false teaching? Beyond all doubt the regular study of the word of God, with prayer for the teaching of the Holy Spirit. The Bible was given to be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. (Psalm. 119:105.) The man who reads it aright will never be allowed greatly to err. It is neglect of the Bible which makes so many a prey to the first false teacher whom they hear. They would have us believe that “they are not learned, and do not pretend to have decided opinions.” The plain truth is that they are lazy and idle about reading the Bible, and do not like the trouble of thinking for themselves. Nothing supplies false prophets with followers so much as spiritual sloth under a cloak of humility.

J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Matthew

No man ever thought too much of Christ

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Let us embrace this truth reverently, and cling to it firmly. Christ is He who has the keys of death and hell. Christ is the anointed Priest, who alone can absolve sinners. Christ is the fountain of living waters, in whom alone we can be cleansed. Christ is the Prince and Savior, who alone can give repentance and remission of sins. In Him all fullness dwells. He is the way, the door, the light, the life, the Shepherd, the altar of refuge. He that has the Son has life-and he that has not the Son has not life. May we all strive to understand this. No doubt men may easily think too little of God the Father, and God the Spirit, but no man ever thought too much of Christ.

J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Matthew

No cause for alarm, whatever may come

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But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. (Matt 28:5)

These words were spoken with a deep meaning. They were meant to cheer the hearts of believers in every age, in the prospect of the resurrection. They were intended to remind us, that true Christians have no cause for alarm, whatever may come on the world. The Lord shall appear in the clouds of heaven, and the earth be burned up. The graves shall give up the dead that are in them, and the last day come. The judgment shall be set, and the books shall be opened. The angels shall sift the wheat from the chaff, and divide between the good fish and the bad. But in all this there is nothing that need make believers afraid. Clothed in the righteousness of Christ, they shall be found without spot and blameless. Safe in the one true ark, they shall not be hurt when the flood of God’s wrath breaks on the earth. Then shall the words of the Lord receive their complete fulfillment—”when these things begin to come to pass, lift up your heads, for your redemption draws near.” Then shall the wicked and unbelieving see how true was that word, “blessed are the people whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12).

J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Book of Matthew

Turn our faces to the Mount of Calvary

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What myriads of eyes are casting their glances at the sun! What multitudes of men lift up their eyes, and behold the starry orbs of heaven! They are continually watched by thousands—but there is one great transaction in the world’s history, which every day commands far more spectators than that sun which goeth forth like a bridegroom, strong to run his race. There is one great event, which every day attracts more admiration than do the sun, and moon, and stars, when they march in their courses.

That event is, the death of our Lord Jesus Christ.

To it, the eyes of all the saints who lived before the Christian era were always directed; and backwards, through the thousand years of history, the eyes of all modern saints are looking. Upon Christ, the angels in heaven perpetually gaze. “Which things the angels desire to look into,” said the apostle. Upon Christ, the myriad eyes of the redeemed are perpetually fixed; and thousands of pilgrims, through this world of tears, have no higher object for their faith, and no better desire for their vision, than to see Christ as he is in heaven, and in communion to behold his person. Beloved, we shall have many with us, whilst this morning we turn our face to the Mount of Calvary. We shall not be solitary spectators of the fearful tragedy of our Saviour’s death: we shall but dart our eyes to that place which is the focus of heaven’s joy and delight, the cross of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Charles Spurgeon, The Death of Christ

The same substance in a new shape falls short

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To hew a block of marble from the quarry—and carve it into a noble statue; to break up a waste wilderness—and turn it into a garden of flowers; to melt a lump of ironstone—and forgo it into watch-springs—all these are mighty changes. Yet they all come short of the change which every child of Adam requires, for they are merely the same thing in a new form, and the same substance in a new shape. But man requires the grafting in of that which he had not before. He needs a change as great as a resurrection from the dead—he must become a new creature. “Old things must pass away, and all things must become new.” He must be “born again, born from above, born of God.” The natural birth is not a whit more necessary to the life of the body, than is the spiritual birth to the life of the soul (2 Cor. 5:17. John 3:3).

J. C. Ryle. Alive or Dead? (Monergism Books Edition)

A man who does not serve God is not really alive

Cross in Winter

So long as a man does not serve God with body, soul, and spirit, he is not really alive. So long as he puts the first things last and the last first, buries his talent like an unprofitable servant, and brings the Lord no revenue of honor, so long in God’s sight he is dead. He is not filling the place in creation for which he was intended; he is not using his powers and faculties as God meant them to be used. The poet’s words are strictly true—

“He only lives, who lives to God,
And all are dead beside.”

This is the true explanation of sin not felt, and sermons not believed—and good advice not followed—and the Gospel not embraced—and the world not forsaken—and the cross not taken up—and self-will not mortified—and evil habits not laid aside—and the Bible seldom read—and the knee never bent in prayer. Why is all this on every side. The answer is simple—Men are dead.

J.C. Ryle, Alive or Dead? (Monergism Books edition)

Simplicity of faith is akin to the highest knowledge

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I can bear witness that children can understand the Scriptures; for I am sure that, when but a child, I could have discussed many a knotty point of controversial theology, having heard both sides of the question freely stated among my father’s circle of friends. In fact, children are capable of understanding some things in early life, which we hardly understand afterwards. Children have eminently a simplicity of faith, and simplicity of faith is akin to the highest knowledge; indeed, I know not that there is much distinction between the simplicity of a child and the genius of the profoundest mind. He who receives things simply, as a child, will often have ideas which the man who is prone to make a syllogism of everything will never attain unto.

If you wish to know whether children can be taught, I point you to many in our churches, and in pious families—not prodigies, but such as we frequently see—Timothys and Samuels, and little girls, too, who have early come to know a Saviour’s love. As soon as a child is capable of being lost, it is capable of being saved. As soon as a child can sin, that child can, if God’s grace assists it, believe and receive the Word of God. As soon as children can learn evil, be assured that they are competent, under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, to learn good.

C.H. Spurgeon, Autobiography Volume 1: The Early Years (Banner of Truth), p. 46
(available at Westminster & Amazon)

Take care that your life and ministry are consistent

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Even in little things the minister should take care that his life is consistent with his ministry. . . . Even in your recreations, remember that you are ministers. When you are off the parade you are still officers in the army of Christ, and as such demean yourselves. But if the lesser things must be looked after, how careful should you be in the great matters of morality, honesty, and integrity! Here the minister must not fail. His private life must ever keep good tune with his ministry, or his day will soon set with him, and the sooner he retires the better, for his continuance in his office will only dishonour the cause of God and ruin himself.

Charles Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students (Banner of Truth Trust, p. 18)

An apple in a bottle

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I remember well, in my early days, seeing upon my grandmother’s mantel-shelf an apple contained in a phial. This was a great wonder to mea, and I tried to investigate it. . . . The apple was quite as big round as the phial; by what means was it placed within it? Though it was treason to touch the treasures on the mantel-piece, I took down the bottle, and convinced my youthful mind that the apple never passed through its neck, and by means of an attempt to unscrew the bottom, I became equally certain that the apple did not enter from below. I held to the notion that by some occult means the bottle had been made in two pieces, and afterwards united in so careful a manner  that no trace of the join remained. I was hardly satisfied with the theory, but… I let the matter rest. One day, the next summer, I chanced to see upon a bough another phial, the first cousin of my old friend, within which was growing a little apple which had been passed through the neck of the bottle while it was extremely small. Nature well known, no prodigies remain.” The grand secret was out.

This discovery of my juvenile days shall serve for an illustration at the present moment. Let us get the apples into the bottle while they are little: which [means] bring the young ones into the house of God by means of the Sabbath school, in the hope that, in after days, they will love the place where His honour dwelleth, and there seek and find eternal life. By our making the Sabbath dreary, many young minds may be prejudiced against religion: we would do the reverse. Sermons should not be so long and dull as to weary the young folk, or mischief will come of them, but with intersting preaching, to secure attention, and loving teachers to press home the truth upon the youthful heart, we shall not have to complain of the next generation that they have “forgotten their resting places.”

C.H. Spurgeon, Autobiography Volume 1: The Early Years (Banner of Truth), p. 5
(available at WestminsterAmazon)

The promise in our season of overwhelming sorrow

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When tempted in our season of overwhelming sorrow to say, “Never has there been so dark a cloud, never a heart so stripped and desolate as mine!” Let this thought hush every murmur, “It is your Father’s good pleasure!” The love and pity of the most tender parent — is but a dim shadow compared to the pitying love of God. If your heavenly Father’s smile has for a moment been exchanged for the chastening rod — be assured there is some deep necessity for the severe discipline. If there are unutterable yearnings in the soul of the earthly parent as the surgeon’s scalpel is applied to the body of his child; infinitely more is it so with your covenant God as He subjects you to those deep wounds of heart! Finite wisdom has no place in His inscrutable ordinations. An earthly father may err; is ever erring; but “as for God — His way is perfect!” This is the explanation of His every dealing: “Your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things.

John MacDuff, The Rainbow in the Clouds (Monergism Books edition)