Islam & the Prophecy Concerning Hagar & Abraham’s Son Ishmael

Genesis 16:1,2,4,10-12,16

Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai…And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived…

And the angel of the LORD said unto [Hagar], I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude…Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction. And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.

And Abram was fourscore and six years old when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): The angel declares what kind of person Ishmael will be.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): He will be a wild man—a “wild ass of a man,” so the Hebrew word is: rude, and bold and fearing no man; untamed, untractable, living at large, and impatient of service and restraint. “His hand will be against every man,”―this his sin, and “every man’s hand against him,”―that is his punishment.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): And such a one Ishmael was.

JOHN CALVIN: He does not, however, speak of Ishmael’s person, but of his whole progeny; for what follows is not strictly suitable to one man.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): From Ishmael proceeded the various tribes of the Arabs…They were anciently, and still continue to be, a very numerous and powerful people.

JOHN GILL: And such the wild Arabs are to this day, who descended from him. “His hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him;” signifying, that he would be of a quarrelsome temper and warlike disposition, continually engaged in fighting with his neighbours, and they with him in their own defence. And such the Arabs his posterity always have been, and still are, given to rapine and plunder, harassing their neighbours by continual excursions and robberies, and pillaging passengers of all nations, which they think they have a right to do.

ADAM CLARKE: The country which these free descendants of Ishmael may be properly said to possess, stretches from Aleppo to the Arabian Sea, and from Egypt to the Persian Gulf.

JOHN GILL: And a late traveller into those parts observes, that they are not to be accused of plundering strangers only―but [also] for those many implacable and hereditary animosities which continually subsist among themselves, literally fulfilling to this day the prophecy of the angel to Hagar; the greatest as well as the smallest tribes are perpetually at variance with one another, frequently occasioned upon the most trivial account, as if they were from the very days of their first ancestor naturally prone to discord and contention.

ADAM CLARKE: Had the Pentateuch no other argument to evince its Divine origin, the account of Ishmael and the prophecy concerning his descendants, collated with their history and manner of life during a period of nearly four thousand years, would be sufficient.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): As for Ishmael’s posterity, Mohammed had his generation from this wild ass―Mohammed came of these Arabians.

JOHN CALVIN: Mohammed invented a new form of religion.

PHILIP MAURO (1859-1952): For our immediate purpose it is necessary only to call attention to the remarkable fact that in Islam we have a movement energized by prodigious spiritual powers of evil, a Satanic caricature of the Kingdom of God, being led by a false prophet and based upon a false Bible―the Koran―and seeking to gain the sovereignty of the world.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): The Koran. This is the Mohammedan’s holy book. A man must have a strange mind who should mistake that rubbish for the utterances of inspiration. If he is at all familiar with the Old and New Testaments, when he hears an extract from the Koran, he feels that he has met with a foreign author—the God who gave us the Pentateuch could have had no hand in many portions of the Koran!

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): Mohammed’s Koran is such a great spirit of lies that it leaves almost nothing of Christian truth remaining, so how could it have any other result than that it should become a great and mighty murderer, with both lies and murders under the show of truth and righteousness―where the spirit of lies is, there is also the spirit of murder.

JOHN TRAPP: Mohammed’s laws run thus―Avenge yourselves of your enemies; marry as many wives as you can maintain; kill the infidels, etc. But we have not so learned Christ.

C. H. SPURGEON: Christ is meek, as opposed to the ferocity of spirit manifested by zealots and bigots. Take, for a prominent example of the opposite of meekness, the false prophet Mohammed. The strength of his cause lies in the fact that he is not meek. He presents himself before those whom he claims as disciples, and says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am neither meek, nor lowly in heart; I will have no patience with you; there is my creed, or there is the scimitar—death or conversion, whichever you please.”

MARTIN LUTHER: The Turks think their Mohammed much higher and greater than Christ, for [they think] the office of Christ has ended and Mohammed’s office is still in force. From this anyone can easily observe that Mohammed is a destroyer of our Lord Christ and His kingdom, [because] if anyone denies that Christ is God’s Son and has died for us, and still lives and reigns at the right hand of God, what has he left of Christ? Father, Son, Holy Ghost, Baptism, the Sacrament, Gospel, Faith and all Christian doctrine and life are gone, and there is left, instead of Christ, nothing more than Mohammed with his doctrine of works, and especially of the sword.

C. H. SPURGEON: How opposite this is to Christ! Although [Christ] hath a right to demand man’s love and man’s faith, yet He comes not into the world to demand it with fire and sword.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): False religions, like Mohammedanism, have often been spread by the sword. False Christianity, like that of the Roman Church, has often been enforced on men by bloody persecutions. The real Gospel of Christ requires no such aids as these. It stands by the power of the Holy Spirit. It grows by the hidden influence of the Holy Spirit on men’s hearts and consciences. There is no clearer sign of a bad cause in religion than a readiness to appeal to the sword.

C. H. SPURGEON: The Mohammedans’ religion might be sustained by scimitars, but Christians’ religion must be sustained by love*―Christ’s might is under persuasion; His strength is quiet forbearance, and patient endurance; His mightiest force is the sweet attraction of compassion and love. He knoweth nothing of the ferocious hosts of Mohammed; He bids none of us draw our sword to propagate the faith, but saith, “Put up thy sword into its scabbard; they that take the sword shall perish by the sword.” “My kingdom is not of this world, else might my servants fight.”

J. C. RYLE: The weapons of our warfare are not carnal,” 2 Corinthians 10:4; “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts,” Zechariah 4:6. The cause of truth does not need force to maintain it.

PHILIP MAURO: A student of conditions in Moslem lands writes on theme of “Islam in Change,” and from a broad survey of the facts, he reaches the conclusion that “Christianity and Islam face each other for world decision”―the whole world is dividing itself into two great camps; the Christianized nations against the pagans; the western peoples against “the kings of the east.”

MARTIN LUTHER: No one can openly confess Christ or preach or teach against Mohammed. What kind of freedom of belief is it when no one is allowed to preach or confess Christ?

JOHN WYCLIFFE (1330-1384): I believe that, in the end, truth will conquer.

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*Editor’s Comment: A deluded Islamic martyr demonstrates his false ‘faith’ by screaming “God is great,” and kills himself while he murders as many innocent people as he can; a true Christian martyr, being murdered for his real faith, demonstrates the grace and longsuffering love of God in Christ Jesus, by pleading for his murderers, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

 

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God’s Answers to Prayer Come in God’s Own Perfect Time

Ecclesiastes 3:1; Habakkuk 2:3

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.

The vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): God is in no hurry, and it is required of us that “he that believeth shall not make haste,” Isaiah 28:16. But we find it much harder to wait than we do to believe: that is, probably, the weakest spot in our armour, and the point at which we fail most frequently.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714):  To all God’s purposes there is a time, a proper time.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): His time is like the time of the tide; all the art and power of man can neither hasten nor retard it a moment: it must be waited for; nothing can be done without it, and, when it comes, nothing can resist it. It is unbelief that talks of delays: faith knows that, properly, there can be no such thing. The only reason why the Lord seems to delay what He afterwards grants is that the best hour is not yet come.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): God’s calendar is not ours.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): That is to say, God will hear prayer, but He may not answer it at the time which we in our minds have appointed…Our time is always come, for we are in selfish haste; but our Lord, when on earth, had His set times and knew how to wait for them. The great God is never before His time, and never too late.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): But we are naturally full of impatience, and therefore we should be in danger of giving up the case as lost, and saying with the unbelieving nobleman, “What should I wait for the Lord any longer?” did not this hope whisper, “Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thy heart? Wait, I say, on the Lord,” Psalm 27:14. Though He delays, He cannot refuse. The delay also is founded in kindness and in wisdom.  The Lord is a God of judgment; and blessed are all they that wait on Him.

A. W. PINK: Waiting for the Lord is one of the most difficult things, I would concur; but Psalm 27:14 speaks about waiting on the Lord, which is a totally different thing! Waiting on―upon―the Lord describes an attitude of soul when we are engaged in true prayer, see Isaiah 40:31; but waiting for the Lord is the exercise of patience while His answer tarries. There are certain lessons which we have to learn experimentally, under the Spirit, before we learn to “wait patiently for him,” Psalm 37:7. What those lessons are is intimated in Psalm 37:1-7 which I earnestly commend to your careful and prayerful attention. They are summed up in the words “Fret not,” “trust,” “delight,” “commit,” and “rest.” The order of those five things is divine and unalterable; we cannot obey verse seven till we have thoroughly heeded verses one to six!

R. C. CHAPMAN (1803-1902): Many of God’s people pray without waiting for God to work in His own time and manner…Faith waits upon God; but she waits also for God. Jacob waited upon God regarding Esau his brother (Genesis 32:9-12); but he did not wait for God. Had he done so, he would not have bowed down seven times to his brother (Genesis 33:3); Esau must have bowed down to him (Genesis 27:29).

A. W. PINK: Alas, how sadly do we fail at this point! How easily we become discouraged if our Jericho does not fall the first or second time we encompass it. “The vision is yet for an appointed time—though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come.” But O how impatient is the flesh. It was at this point that Abraham failed: when Sarah bare not the promised son, he determined to have one by Hagar. It was at this point Moses first failed—taking things into his own hands (Exodus 2:11,12), instead of waiting God’s time.

F. W. KRUMMACHER (1796-1868): Discontented and presumptuous, we are a people whom God can rarely please. We find nothing more difficult than to suspend our judgment till His purposes are ripened; for, if our desires are not instantly gratified to their full extent, we become distrustful of His power, goodness, and faithfulness. Were He to remove the veil from our eyes, and show us the gifts designed for us, how should we be abashed and ashamed of our want of faith, and of our low-thoughted cares and presumptions.

C. H. SPURGEON: We are in hot haste to set the world right, and to order all affairs: the Lord hath the leisure of conscious power and unerring wisdom, and it will be well for us to learn to wait.

A. W. PINK: Learn from this, dear reader, that though God’s delays are trying to flesh and blood, nevertheless they are ordered by perfect wisdom and infinite love…Though we are impulsive and impetuous, God is never in a hurry; the sooner we learn this lesson, the better for our own peace of mind, and the sooner shall we “rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him,” Psalm 37:7.

HUGH MARTIN (1822-1885): Wait patiently and do not fret.  If the vision tarry wait for it: it will come and will not tarry; and in the meantime the just shall live by faith.

C. H. SPURGEON: Faith cures fretting…The clock will not strike till the hour; but when the instant cometh we shall hear the bell. My soul, trust thou in God, and wait patiently when He says, “My time is not yet come.”

BROWNLOW NORTH (1810-1875): Trust in Him,” says the Psalmist, “at all times,” Psalm 62:8—at all times.  And when is the time, that is not a time?

JOHN NEWTON: He knows your state, your wants, what you are at present, and what use He designs to make of you.  Trust in Him, and wait for Him; prayer, and faith, and patience, are never disappointed.

 

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An Inconvenient Truth: The Groaning of the Earth in Pain

Hebrews 1:10-12; Romans 8:22

And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: they shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.

For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Why is the world as it is?

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): The whole world was sentenced to death because of sin.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): When man sinned, the ground was cursed for man’s sake, Genesis 3:17; and with it all the creatures became subject to that curse, became mutable and mortal, “under the bondage of corruption,” Romans 8:21. There is an impurity, deformity, and infirmity, which [creation] has contracted by the fall of man: the creation is sullied and stained, much of the beauty of the world gone…It is not what it was in the day it was created.

 JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): It was never beautiful, nor cheerful, since Adam’s fall.

 MATTHEW HENRY: Cursed is the ground for thy sake,” and the effect of that curse is, “thorns and thistles shall it bring forth unto thee,” Genesis 3:18. The ground, or earth, is here put for the whole visible creation, which by the sin of man is made subject to vanity, the several parts of it being not so serviceable to man’s comfort and happiness as they were designed to be when they were made, and would have been if he had not sinned. God gave the earth to the children of men, designing it to be a comfortable dwelling to them. But sin has altered the property of it―its spontaneous productions are now weeds and briers, something nauseous or noxious; what good fruits it produces must be extorted from it by the ingenuity and industry of man.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: God is not going to allow man to enjoy the benefits of his position as lord of creation, when as a result of his sin he has forfeited that.

ADAM CLARKE: In the curse pronounced on the ground there is much more implied than generally appears. The amazing fertility of some of the most common thistles and thorns renders them the most proper instruments for the fulfillment of this sentence against man.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): To give him more trouble, and cause him more fatigue and sorrow to root them up: these include all sorts of noxious herbs and plants, and troublesome weeds, which added to man’s labour.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Therefore we may know, that whatsoever unwholesome things may be produced, are not natural fruits of the earth, but are corruptions which originate from sin. It has been falsely maintained by some that the earth is exhausted by the long succession of time, as if constant bringing forth had wearied it. They think more correctly who acknowledge that, by the increasing wickedness of men, the remaining blessing of God is gradually diminished and impaired; and certainly there is danger, unless the world repent, that a great part of men should shortly perish through hunger, and other dreadful miseries.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: It seems to me, that at this point, we must pause for a moment to draw certain very important deductions. The first is, that the state of the world is not to be explained, and cannot be explained by the theory of evolution. According to that theory, everything is progressing and developing, and is advancing―that’s the view that you’ve got to hold of man and the whole universe if you subscribe to that theory of evolution.  But here we get the exact opposite to that. Here the plain teaching is that it’s all the result of a fall, that it’s a calamity, that everything is not at a particular stage in an upward trend, but everything has been reduced from what it was to its present state and condition, so the explanation of the state of the whole of creation is not incomplete development―it is the result of the cursing which God has meted out as a part of His punishment to man for the folly of his rebellion and sin…So that creation is as it is, and is suffering, not because of anything that it has done, but because of what man has done.

MATTHEW HENRY: Our visible world is growing old. Not only men and beasts and trees grow old, but this world itself grows old, and is hastening to its dissolution; it changes like a garment, and has lost much of its beauty and strength; it grew old betimes on the first apostasy, and it has been waxing older and growing weaker ever since; it bears the symptoms of a dying world…Sin has made a great change in the world for the worse.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: But then that leads to a second deduction, which is this: the all importance for the Christian of the early chapters of the book of Genesis. Now there is a tendency on the part of some to say today that you can be a Christian and hold the doctrines of the Christian faith, but at the same time ride very loosely to the early chapters of Genesis―that it doesn’t matter whether they are true or not, you can hold on to your doctrines of salvation, whether the early chapters of Genesis are literal history, or whether they are some sort of myth. And here again, is an example and an illustration of the fact that that is not, and cannot be the case―you cannot really hold the Biblical doctrine of  salvation without accepting its history. And a part of that history is, that creation is as it is, because at a given point in history, as Genesis 3 tells us, God cursed the earth.

ROBERT HALDANE (1764-1842): In the tenth chapter of the first Epistle to the Corinthians, the essential importance of the historical parts of the Old Testament Scriptures is place beyond all doubt―“They are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come,” I Corinthians 10:11. Here the purpose and value of the historical parts of Scripture are demonstrated.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: So I go on to a third deduction, which is this one: There is no hope for man, there is no hope for creation in terms of evolution. The Bible holds out no hope whatsoever in that respect―that as the centuries pass, things will get better, man will improve, he’ll improve his environment, and at last, you’ll arrive at a state of perfection―the optimistic idea that things are going to advance and develop is quite foreign to the Biblical teaching. The Bible rather teaches that there is to be a crisis, there is to be a judgment, there is to be an end to the world as it is.

 

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The Angelic Instruments of God’s Judgments

I Chronicles 21:15, 16; Acts 12:21-23

God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it: and as he was destroying, the LORD beheld, and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD stood by the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite. And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of the LORD stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem.

And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Angels are in a peculiar sense the attendants and messengers of the Almighty, whom He employs as His ministers in effecting many of those great events which take place in the administration of His providence; and particularly such as manifest His immediate interposition in the extraordinary judgments which He inflicts for the punishment of sinful nations. See Psalm 103:20 & Psalm 104:4.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Angels are employed, more than we are aware of, as ministers of God’s justice, to punish the pride and break the power of wicked men―see Revelation 15:7 & Revelation 16:1 where we read of the angels pouring out the vials of God’s wrath upon the earth.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): The Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him,” I Samuel 16:14. Sometimes God maketh the devils as hangmen, by whose hand He executeth His judgments. And this doth He as well toward His faithful servants as toward the reprobate. Saul was troubled and vexed by Satan, but the same did also befall holy Job, (Job 1:12)…In the Psalms, the punishments wherewith God doth chasten the wicked are attributed to the evil angels; yet we see how the angel which had the government of the safety of the Church smiteth the Egyptians in the first-begotten, Exodus 12:29.

MATTHEW HENRY: He sent evil angels among them,” Psalm 78:49; not evil in their own nature, but in respect to the errand upon which they were sent; they were destroying angels, or angels of punishment, which passed through all the land of Egypt, with orders, according to the weighed paths of God’s anger, not to kill all, but the first-born only.

JOHN CALVIN: The angels are the ministers of God’s wrath, as well as of His grace…If it is objected that it is not meet that the angels, who are the ministers of grace and salvation, and the appointed guardians of the faithful, should be employed in executing judgment upon the reprobate, the explanation is simply this, that they cannot watch for the preservation of the godly without being prepared for fighting—that they cannot succour them by their aid without also opposing their enemies, and declaring themselves to be against them.

MATTHEW HENRY: Good angels become evil angels to sinners. Those that make the holy God their enemy must never expect the holy angels to be their friends―good angels are our friends, or enemies, according as God is.

JOHN CALVIN: Both the heavenly elect angels, and the fallen angels, are justly accounted the ministers or executors of calamity; but they are to be regarded as such in different senses. The former yield a prompt and willing obedience to God; but the latter, as they are always eagerly intent upon doing mischief, and would, if they could, turn the whole world upside down, are fit instruments for inflicting calamities upon men―the Scripture calleth the wicked spirits “God’s” spirits because they are obedient to His commandment, though full sore against their will.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Evil angels are frequently styled מלאכי חבלה―“destroying angels.”

JOHN CALVIN: But where the epithet evil is not added, as in this place [concerning Herod], we must understand the angel which doth willingly obey God…Let us therefore know, that it is not foreign to the office of elect angels, to descend armed for the purpose of executing Divine vengeance and of inflicting punishment. As the angel of the Lord destroyed, in one night, the army of Sennacherib which besieged Jerusalem, 2 Kings 19:35, so also the angel of the Lord appeared to David with his drawn sword, when the pestilence was raging against the people.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): The good angels are executioners of God’s righteous judgments, as they were at Sodom, in Sennacherib’s army, and oft in the Revelation. There cannot be a better or more noble act than to do justice upon obstinate malefactors.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): The good angels will function at the final judgment.  Do you remember the explanation our Lord gave to the disciples of the parable of the tares? You’ll find it in Matthew 13, verses 40 to 42: “As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity.” The angels are going to do that. Listen again to Matthew 13:49 and 50―the parable of the dragnet: “So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

JOHN CALVIN: If the judgments of God be so dreadful in this life, how dreadful will He be when He shall come at last to judge the world!

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Listen to Matthew 24:30, 31: “Then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” The angels will gather the elect together to meet Him, and to begin their glory with Him. Listen to Paul saying something similar in 2 Thessalonians, chapter one: “Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.

JOHN TRAPP: How then will wicked men bear the horror of the last day, when they shall have an angry God over them, hell gaping beneath them, an accusing conscience within them, the world all on alight fire about them, the elements melting like scalding lead upon them, the good angels testifying against them, Job 20:27, and the evil angels waiting to worry them, and hurry them to hell? Oh the unspeakable achings and quakings of heart, the terrible apprehensions, the convulsions of spirit, that shall seize and surprise them at that dreadful day!―Oh that wicked men would in their daily meditations take a turn or two in hell, and so be forewarned to flee from the wrath to come!

 

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The Malignant Cancer of Envy & Its Cure

Proverbs 14:30

A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): There are two sins which were Christ’s sorest enemies, covetousness and envy. Covetousness sold Christ and envy delivered Him—Envy is an evil disease that dwelleth in the heart, and betrays itself mostly in thoughts.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): It is the moth of the soul, and the worm, as the Hebrew word signifies, of the bones.

R. C. CHAPMAN (1803-1902): If we look beneath the surface we shall find the root of these things to be unmortified pride…Pride has always an envious eye and an envious tongue: envy is but the vexation of pride.

THOMAS MANTON: Proud men would be admired by all, well thought of and spoken of by all, and preferred above all; and, if it be not so, they are discontented, and a secret enmity and malignity invaded their spirits, and settleth itself there; it is an apparent fruit of natural corruption; “The spirit that dwelleth in us, lusteth to envy,” James 4:5.  Men cannot endure either the real or reputed excellency of others. The proud creature would shine alone. Therefore we are secretly nibbling at the credit of others, blasting their reputation, and desire by all means to lessen them, or that they should be lessened—for when we are grieved at the prosperity and excellency of others, we seek to undermine them by all the means we can devise, as when the brothers of Joseph sought to put him out of the way.

JOHN TRAPP: This vice, as it makes the heart to boil with hellish venom, so it blisters out at the tongue, as here: “They could not speak peaceably to Joseph,” Genesis 37:4, but scoff, and consult his ruin.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): His brethren envied, and hated him—Moreover, the way of Cain was a way of hatred, and the murder of his brother, which his envy led him to.

 THOMAS MANTON: It is a sin that feeds upon the mind. Those songs of the women, that Saul had slain his thousands, but David his ten thousands, they ran in Saul’s mind, therefore he hated David, 1 Samuel 18:9—And when Saul still envied David, he was plotting his destruction: so when the Pharisees envied Christ, “If we let him alone, all men will run after him,” this brought them to “crucify the Lord of glory.”

JOHN CHRYSOSTOM (347-407): As a moth gnaws a garment, so doth envy consume a man.

THOMAS MANTON: And where this disposition prevaileth into any degree of strength and tyranny, it groweth outrageous: Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?” Proverbs 27:4…Anger venteth itself in sudden flashes, and wrath in some present act of violence; but envy is injurious and treacherous. Anger and wrath suppose some offence; but envy is troubled at the goodness and excellency of others. Anger and wrath are assuaged by degrees, and when the raging billows cease, there is a calm; but envy groweth by time, and is exasperated more and more, the longer those whom we envy are in good condition.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): I have known one that when he had some envious unkind thoughts stirring in him, against anyone—and who so holy as may not find such vermin sometimes creeping about him—he would go to the throne of grace where he would most earnestly pray for the increase of those good things in them which he before had seemed to grudge.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Envy has been defined as “pain felt, and malignity conceived, at the sight of excellence or happiness in another.”—We may envy our neighbor’s wisdom, though he gives us good counsel; his riches, though he supplies our wants; and his greatness, though he employs it for our protection.

STEPHEN CHARNOCK (1628-1680): Envy is a denial of providence.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): Realize this principle. See the providence of God determining the bounds of your habitations; the age in which you were to live; the stations you were to fill; the comforts you were to enjoy; and the trials you were to endure. And if you have not much of the world―ask―whence is it? Is it because my Heavenly Father is not able to give me more? No. “The silver and the gold are His,” Haggai 2:8; “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein,” Psalm 24:1. Is it because He has no inclination to indulge me? No. He takes “pleasure in the prosperity of His servants,” Psalm 35:27. It is therefore to be resolved into the wisdom and kindness of His administration. His wisdom tells Him how much I can bear―and His kindness will not suffer Him to give me more. His aim is my welfare. The same disposition which leads Him to give, induces Him to deny.  He corrects and He crowns with the same love. This loss is to enrich me: this sickness is to cure me. “I know that all things work together for good, to them that love God, to them that are the called, according to His purpose,” Romans 8:28.

THOMAS MANTON: Envy is a rebellion against God Himself, and the liberty and pleasure of His dispensations.

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): Do not show the least discontent at the lot and portion providence carves out to you…Say, as Psalm 16:6, “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.” Surely that is best for you, which providence hath appointed, and one day you yourselves will judge it so to be.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Resign thy will, submit thy judgment, leave all with the God of all. What a medicine is this for expelling envy!

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): Too many Christians envy the sinners their pleasure, and the saints their joy, because they don’t have either one.

C. H. SPURGEON: When we see the wicked prosper we are apt to envy them. When we hear the noise of their mirth and our own spirit is heavy, we half think that they have the best of it…The deathblow of envy is a calm consideration of the future. The wealth and glory of the ungodly are a vain show. This pompous appearance flashes out for an hour and then is extinguished. What is the prosperous sinner the better for his prosperity when judgment overtakes him?

WILLIAM GURNALL: Be sure the pleasure of sin never survives this world…Who would envy the condemned man his feast which he hath in his way to the gallows?

JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688): Envy not the wicked, “nor desire to be with them; choose none of his ways,” Proverbs 3:31; Proverbs 24:1.

C. H. SPURGEON: Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long,” Proverbs 23:17. The cure for envy lies in living under a constant sense of the Divine presence—true religion lifts the soul into a higher region, where the judgment becomes more clear and the desires are more elevated. The more of heaven there is in our lives, the less of earth we shall covet…As for the godly man, his end is peace and blessedness, and none can rob him of his joy; wherefore, let him forgo envy and be filled with sweet content.

 

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The Plain Truth about Lies, & Truth, for a “Post-truth” Era

I John 2:21; Ephesians 4:25

No lie is of the truth.

Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour.

GEORGE SEATON BOWES (circa 1820’s-1880’s): When the question, “What is truth?” was proposed at a Deaf and Dumb Institution, one of the boys drew a straight line. “And what is falsehood?” The answer was a crooked line.

THOMAS BOSTON (1676-1732): The lying tongue is contrary to truth. 

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): A lying tongue―the mischief of this is open and obvious…Every man hates to have a lie told him.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Liars pervert the end for which God created speech, which was, to give light to the notions of the mind.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): Lying is such a sin, as takes away all society and conversation with men; how can you converse with him, if you cannot trust a word he says?

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): This even heathens and antichristian persons are obliged to acknowledge.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): This is a right and true judgment of the case; it is according to the nature and truth of things, and what is obvious and clear at first sight, and which every one must agree to…A tongue speaking falsehood, knowingly and willingly, with an intention to deceive others; to hurt the character of a neighbour, or to flatter a friend, is a most detestable evil; it ought to be so to men, and it must be so to God, who is a God of truth: nor is there anything in which a man more resembles the devil, who is the “father of lies,” John 8:44.

JOHN CALVIN: Nothing is deemed more precious by God than truth.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): It is certain that all kinds of lies are moral evils, and condemned by plain scriptures, that we must not “do evil that good may come,” nor tell a lie for God’s glory, Romans 3:7,8.

MATTHEW HENRY: Hypocrisy is lying; false doctrine is lying; breach of faith is lying. Lying, in commerce or conversation, is a sin which every good man hates and abhors—hates and doubly hates, because of the seven things which the Lord hates one is a “lying tongue,” and another is a “false witness that speaks lies,” Proverbs 6:16.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): It is a great deal easier to set a story afloat than to stop it. If you want truth to go round the world you must hire an express train to pull it; but if you want a lie to go round the world, it will fly; it is as light as a feather, and a breath will carry it. It is well said in the old Proverb, “A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on.”

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546):  A lie is a snowball. The longer it is rolled on the ground, the larger it becomes.

JOHN WYCLIFFE (1330-1384): I believe that, in the end, truth will conquer.

HORATIUS BONAR (1808-1889): Truth is not the feeble thing which men often think they can afford to disparage. Truth is power; let it be treated and trusted as such.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): News may come that truth is sick, but never that it is dead. No, it is error that is short lived: “The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment,” Proverbs 12:19.

C. H. SPURGEON: Truth wears well. Time will test it, but it right well endures the trial…What a poor thing is the temporary triumph of falsehood! A lying lip is but for a moment! It is a mere gourd, which comes up in a night, and perishes in a night; and the greater its development the more manifest its decay.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Truth and honesty never wear out.

C. H. SPURGEON: We believe, brethren, in the power of truth―Next, let us remember that God’s truth is still the same. It does not matter whether fifty thousand espouse its cause, or only five, or only one. Truth does not reign by the ballot box, or by the counting of heads: it abideth forever.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Let us remind ourselves that the Scriptures, while they speak to us eternal truth, are always relevant.

JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688): Why, they are the Word of God, the true sayings of God; they are the counsel of God; they are His promises and His threatenings.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): One of the many titles given to the Holy Scriptures is “the Word of Truth,” 2 Timothy 2:15. They are such because they are a communication from “the God of Truth,” Isaiah 65:17, a revelation from Him “who cannot lie,” Titus 1:2.

THOMAS WATSON: Nothing is more contrary to God than a lie―How does this sin incense God? He struck Ananias dead for telling a lie, Acts 5:5. The furnace of hell is heated to throw liars into, “Outside are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoever loves and makes a lie,” Revelation 22:15.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): I know that all this sounds dreadful in many ears. I do not wonder. But the only question we have to settle is this: “Is Hell Scriptural?” Is it true? I maintain firmly that it is so…Where is the charity of keeping back any portion of God’s truth? What is the use of hiding eternal punishment from the impenitent and the ungodly? Surely it is helping the devil, if we do not tell them plainly that, “The soul that sins shall surely die!”

Yes, [and] heaven is truth and no lie―“There shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie,” Revelation 21:27.

Verily these are solemn words; they ought to make us think.

HUDSON TAYLOR (1832-1905): There is a living God. He has spoken in His Word. He means just what He says, and will do all that He has promised.

JONATHAN EDWARDS (1703-1758): And wicked men who now doubt His truth and dare not trust His word now, will hereafter, in the most convincing, affecting manner, find His Word to be true in all that He has threatened.

 

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When God Shuts Up a Preacher’s Mouth

Ezekiel 3:24-27

Then the spirit entered into me, and set me upon my feet, and spake with me, and said unto me, Go, shut thyself within thine house. Behold, they shall put bands upon thee, and shall bind thee with them, and thou shalt not go out among them: I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, that thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be to them a reprover: for they are a rebellious house. But when I speak with thee, I will open thy mouth, and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD…

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Ministers are sometimes silenced through the sins of their people, and it becomes them to plead against such a judgment.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): God sometimes stops the minister’s mouth because the people shut their hearts. Why should the [tap] run to have the water spilt upon the ground? It is just that God should take away the ministry, or stop the minister’s mouth, when they despise His counsel, and the Word becomes a reproach to them.

C. H. SPURGEON: The Lord save us, who are his ministers, from being made the instruments of inflicting such a penalty. Let us exhibit a cheerful hopefulness in God, that we may plead it in prayer with Him when He threatens to close our lips.

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): It is an unspeakable affliction to God’s workmen to be rendered useless and unserviceable—it spends a minister to preach, but more to be silent. It is a loud speaking judgment, when God shall say to them as to Ezekiel, “Son of man, I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, and thou shalt be dumb.” Such silencing providences, speak thundering language to gracious hearts; yet, even then, the keepers of the vineyard have a private vineyard of their own to look after, they have much home-work, when no out-work.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): I have seen men who have been indefatigable in the work of the kingdom suddenly laid aside by illness, and scarcely knowing what to do with themselves. What is the matter? They have been living on their own activities. You can be so busy preaching and working that you are not nurturing your own soul. You are so neglecting your own spiritual life that you find at the end that you have been living on yourself and your own activities. And when you stop, or are stopped by illness or circumstances, you find that life is empty and that you have no resources…That is why it is a good thing for all of us from time to time to stop and take a rest, and to examine ourselves, and ask, “What am I living on?”

ROBERT MURRAY M’CHEYNE (1813-1843): When I was laid aside from the ministry, I felt it was to teach me the need of prayer for my people. I used often to say, “Now God is teaching me the use of prayer.”  I thought I would never forget the lesson, yet I fear I am grown slack again when in the midst of my work.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: May I remind you that the great Dr. Thomas Chalmers always said that what really brought him, under God, to understand the Gospel truly was an illness which confined him to his sick chamber for nearly twelve months.  He had been a brilliant ‘scientific’ and ‘intellectual’ preacher, but he came out of that sick chamber as a preacher of the Gospel, and he thanked God for that visitation.

C. H. SPURGEON: That is the cause of many ministers’ afflictions; they are necessary to our work.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): I never knew the meaning of God’s Word, until I came into affliction. I have always found it one of my best school-masters.

J. H. M. d’AUBIGNÉ (1794-1872): God usually removes his servants from the field of battle to bring them back stronger and better armed.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: But then sometimes God does this to us to prepare us for something.

ROBERT MURRAY M’CHEYNE: Every wise workman takes his tools away from the work from time to time that they may ground and sharpened; so does the only-wise Jehovah take his ministers oftentimes away into darkness and loneliness and trouble, that He may sharpen and prepare them for harder work in His service.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): Luther said that he never undertook any fresh work but he was visited either with a fit of sickness or with some powerful temptation.

C. H. SPURGEON: Before any great achievement, some measure of the same depression is very usual…This depression comes over me whenever the Lord is preparing a larger blessing for my ministry; the cloud is black before it breaks, and overshadows before it yields its deluge of mercy. Depression has now become to me as a prophet in rough clothing, a ‘John the Baptist’ heralding the nearer coming of my Lord’s richer benison. So have far better men found it.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): But as to the general purpose, God’s intention is by no means obscure, namely, that the Prophet ought not to take it ill, if he be for a time apparently useless…We see then that this is said for the Prophet’s comfort, that he should not murmur or take it ill that God wishes him ‘to remain shut up at home; because the fit time had not yet come.’

GEORGE MÜLLER (1805-1898): God not only orders our steps; He orders our stops.

JOHN CALVIN: They might be shut up, as in prison―The apostles are put in prison, but the force of their preaching is spread far and wide, and the course thereof is at liberty. Of which thing Paul boasteth very much, that the Word of God is not bound with him, 2 Timothy 2:9.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Some have observed that what this apostle wrote when he was a prisoner had the greatest relish and savour in it of the things of God.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): John Bunyan would not have done half the good he did, if he had remained preaching in Bedford, instead of being shut up in Bedford Prison.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): It was well that Bunyan did not escape from the prison at Bedford. Or we should not have had his Pilgrim’s Progress, and his Holy War.

THOMAS ADAMS (1583-1656): Our books may come to be seen where ourselves shall never be heard.  These may preach where the author cannot, and which is more―when he is not.

C. H. SPURGEON: It is a great trial to be unable to preach in the pulpit, but it is no small comfort to be able to preach through the press. By the aid of friends, the discourses which I have delivered in former times have been piloted through the press in a masterly manner, and would be forthcoming for several years, even if I were taken home to God; hundreds of manuscripts are in my publisher’s stores, and so I shall live and speak long after I am dead…My silent sabbaths breed in me a great hunger for the salvation of those to whom I can only speak through the press. O that the Lord would honour me by making me fruitful in the winter of my weakness!*
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*Editor’s Note: C. H. Spurgeon died two weeks after this writing this final note.

 

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The God of the Bible is a God of Mercy, Judgment & Justice

Psalm 101:1; Numbers 14:18; Psalm 89:14

I will sing of mercy and judgment.

The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty…

Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.

CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): God’s mercy is holy mercy.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Mercy and truth―these shall be the heralds that shall announce the coming of the Judge. His truth binds him to fulfill all His declarations; and His mercy shall be shown to all those who have fled for refuge to the hope that is set before them in the Gospel.

WILLIAM ARNOT (1808-1875): Mercy and truth meet in the person and sacrifice of the Son. Without the Saviour, we cannot conceive of mercy and truth being displayed by God to the rebellious. We could at least conceive of mercy without truth; but then it would admit the unclean into heaven: we could also conceive of truth without mercy; but then it would cast mankind without exception into hell.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): The essential justice of God will not admit of the pardon and justification of a sinner, without a satisfaction; wherefore Christ was set forth to be the propitiation for sin, to declare and manifest the righteousness of God, His strict justice; that He might be just, and appear to be so, when He is the justifier of him that believes in Jesus; and Christ’s blood being shed, and His sacrifice offered up, He is just and faithful to forgive sin, and cleanse from all unrighteousnes, Exodus 34:6,7; Romans 3:25, 26―and so the glory of divine justice is secured and peace with God for men obtained, in a way consistent with it.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): The attribute of justice must be preserved inviolate.

WILLIAM ARNOT: Mercy reigns, not over righteousness, but through righteousness.

JOHN BOYS (1619-1625): His mercy being just, and His justice being merciful.

ABRAHAM WRIGHT (1611-1690): I know that the Gospel is a book of mercy; I know likewise that in the prophets there are many expressions of mercy; I know likewise that in the ten commandments, which are the ministration of death, there is made express mention of mercy, “I will have mercy on thousands,” Deuteronomy 5:10. Yet, notwithstanding all this, if every leaf, and every line, and every word in the Bible were nothing but mercy, it would nothing avail the presumptuous sinner…Therefore, although in Psalm 136 there is nothing but “His mercy endureth for ever,” which is repeated twenty-six times in twenty-six verses: yet mark what a rattling thunder clap is in verse 15―“But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea: for His mercy endureth for ever.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): It was an act of vengeance upon Pharaoh and his host, but it was an act of mercy unto the Israelites.

THOMAS S. MILLINGTON (1821-1906): Is God unrighteous, then, that taketh vengeance? No; this is an act of retribution. The Egyptians had slain the children of the Israelites, casting their infants into the river, Exodus 1:22.

G. S. BOWES (circa 1820’s-1880’s): Give them according to their deeds,” Psalm 28:4. The Egyptians killed the Hebrew male children, and God smote the firstborn of Egypt, Exodus 12:29,30.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): In that stroke that filled Egypt with anguish, there was conspicuous mercy―even to Egypt; the sharp stroke should have wrought repentance. [And it was mercy] to Israel, they being thus delivered, and their firstborn saved.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): God delights in judgment as well as in mercy.

JOHN WESLEY: Accordingly in Psalm 136:1-26, that clause, “For his mercy endureth for ever,” is subjoined to the thanksgiving for His works of vengeance as well as for His delivering the righteous.

A. W. PINK: From God’s side, it is an act of justice, vindicating His honour. The mercy of God is never shown to the prejudice of His holiness and righteousness―it is an act of equity, when they are made to suffer the due reward of their iniquities. But from the standpoint of the redeemed, the punishment of the wicked is an act of unspeakable mercy―How dreadful would it be, if the present order of things, when the children of God are obliged to live in the midst of the children of the Devil, should continue forever! Heaven would at once cease to be heaven.

JOHN CALVIN: Although God is pitiful and even ready to pardon, yet He does not therefore spare the despisers.

WILLIAM ARNOT: There would be no glory in God’s present compassion, if it had not the full terror of immutable justice behind it to lean upon. Even the divine longsuffering would lose its loveliness if it did not stand in front of divine wrath. You cannot paint an angel upon light: so mercy could not be represented―mercy could not be, unless there were judgment without mercy, a ground of deep darkness lying beneath, to sustain and reveal it…When the day of grace is past, the throne of judgment stands alone, and the impenitent must meet it.

THOMAS BROOKS (1608-1680): Sins against God’s mercy will bring the greatest and sorest judgments upon men’s heads and hearts. Mercy is God’s Alpha, justice is His Omega.

A. W. PINK: How many there are who say, I do not believe that God will ever cast me into Hell; He is too merciful. Such a hope is a viper, which if cherished in their bosoms will sting them to death. God is a God of justice as well as mercy, and He has expressly declared that He will “by no means clear the guilty.’ Yea, He has said, “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God,” Psalm 9:17.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Beware of manufacturing a God of your own: a God who is all mercy, but not just; a God who is all love, but not holy; a God who has a heaven for everybody, but a hell for none; a God who can allow good and bad to be side by side in time, but will make no distinction between good and bad in eternity. Such a God is an idol of your own, as truly an idol as any snake or crocodile in an Egyptian temple. The hands of your own fancy and sentimentality have made him. He is not the God of the Bible, and beside the God of the Bible there is no God at all.

ABRAHAM WRIGHT: In our addresses therefore unto God, let us so look upon Him as a just God, as well as a merciful; and not either despair of, nor presume upon His mercy.

JOHN CALVIN: We have then only the true knowledge of God, when we not only acknowledge Him to be the Creator of the world, but when we also fully believe that the world is governed by Him, and when we further understand the way in which He governs it―that is, by doing mercy and judgment and justice.

DUTCH PSALTER (Psalm 36):

Thy mercy and Thy truth, O Lord, transcend the lofty sky;

Thy judgments are a mighty deep, and as the mountains high.

From those that know Thee, may Thy love and mercy ne’er depart,

And may Thy justice still protect, and bless the upright heart.

 

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When God’s Providences Seem to Contradict God’s Promises

Genesis 13:14-16; Genesis 15:1-4

And the LORD said unto Abram…Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered…

After these things, the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.

And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.

And he believed in the LORD.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): It appears from that passage that even the godly are tempted to doubt of the Providence of God―It is therefore a temptation to which all men are naturally prone, to begin to doubt of the providence of God, when His hand and judgment are not seen.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): God’s actions may appear to us to be the reverse of His promises, and then our best course is to come before Him in prayer and put the matter before Him just as it strikes our apprehension. We are allowed to do this, for this holy and inspired man did so unrebuked—but we must do it humbly and in faith.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Note: True believers sometimes find it hard to reconcile God’s promises and His providences, when they seem to disagree.

JOHN CALVIN: God exhorts Abram to be of a tranquil mind; but what foundation is there for such security, unless by faith we understand that God cares for us, and rest in His providence?

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): When our own reason fills us with a distrust of providence, it naturally prompts us to sinful shifts, and there leaves us entangled in the snares of our own making. Beware therefore you lean not too much to your own reasons and understandings.

 THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): God is to be trusted when His providences seem to run contrary to His promises.

JOHN COLLINGES (1623-1690): Among other habits of grace, faith and patience are not the least. The exercise of these is when sense fails, and the providence of God moves out of our sight, [or] in a time of adversity when it seems to move at a great distance from the promise, if not directly contrary to it. “Blessed are they who have not seen, and have yet believed,” saith our Saviour, John 20:29. God gave Abraham a promise, nay, divers promises; two of the more eminent: the one of a child; the other, of a numerous seed, and their inheriting the land of Canaan. Now, if the providence of God had presently moved in a direct line towards the fulfilling of these promises, where had been room for Abraham’s faith, so much celebrated in Scripture?

MATTHEW HENRY: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform,” Romans 4:20,21. Such was his full persuasion, and it was built on the omnipotence of God. Our waverings rise mainly from our distrust of the divine power; and therefore to fix us it is requisite we believe not only that He is faithful, but that He is able, that hath promised.

JOHN COLLINGES: The providence of God delays the time, and suffereth Abraham first, and his wife to live to an age, that they both were past any reasonable hope of children, then it giveth him a child: why doth providence move thus slowly, and obliquely? How else should Abraham’s faith have been tried? How should it have been tried whether he would stagger at the promise through unbelief?

 TIMOTHY CRUSO (1657-1697): Let no appearing impossibilities make you question God’s accomplishment of any of His gracious words. Though you cannot see how the thing can be done, ’tis enough if God hath said that He will do it.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): Nothing is too hard for the Lord.

JOHN COLLINGES: Another branch of that promise was, that this Eliezer of Damascus of whom thou speakest, shall not be thine heir: but he that shall come forth of thine own bowels, shall be thine heir. Later, God, by His providence, tempteth Abraham; He bids him go, and with his own hands sacrifice this his son, his only son; what an oblique, yet contrary motion of providence doth this seem to be, to the promise of Isaac his son being the heir? “In Isaac shall thy seed be called,” saith the promise, Hebrews 11:18.―How shall that be, when Isaac, who as yet had no seed, must be sacrificed? But how else shall Abraham’s faith and obedience be tried, which standeth on the record―“By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac,” Hebrews 11:17…Abraham had a promise of Canaan for his seed―but providence went a great way around about before it sensibly came home to this promise.

TIMOTHY CRUSO: Cast not away your confidence because He defers His performances. Though providences run cross, though they move backwards and forwards, you have a sure and faithful word to rely upon. Promises, though they be for a time seemingly delayed, cannot be finally frustrated. Dare not to harbour such a thought within yourselves as Psalm 77:8; “Doth his promise fail for evermore?”  The being of God may as well fail as the promise of God.

JOHN CALVIN: Therefore, whenever we may wander in uncertainty through intricate windings, we must contemplate, with eyes of faith, the secret providence of God which governs us and our affairs, and leads us to unexpected results.

C. H. SPURGEON: It is glory of Omnipotence to work by improbabilities.

JOHN COLLINGES: God does this, that He might be the more admired in the works of His providence…Now, when the providence of God hath moved obliquely, and to our appearance quite contrary unto the promise, when it comes home to it, to give it a being and issue, it comes upon us [suddenly] and contrary to the expectations of our sense and reason, and so wonderfully affects our hearts, that it enforces from us great and high acknowledgments of the omnipotency and power of God, of His mercy and goodness, and of His truth and veracity―If the providence of God moved in a [direct] line, He would neither have so much of the prayers and cries of His people, during the want of their desired good, nor yet so much praise upon the bestowing of it.

 

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King Solomon’s Tweets of Wisdom & Warning

Proverbs 10:19; Proverbs 29:20; Proverbs 14:29; Ecclesiastes 5:3

In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.

Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.

He that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.

A fool’s voice is known by [a] multitude of words.

CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): We cannot conceive of words, much less a multitude of words, without sin―the wisdom of these proverbs will be acknowledged by those who know the sins of the tongue, and the immense difficulty of restraining the unruly member. 

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): It is seldom seen that a man of many words miscarries not. 

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): A fool’s voice is known by a multitude of words;” it discovers the man to be a foolish, and rash, and inconsiderate man—“A fool is also full of words,” Ecclesiastes 10:14—Forward to promise and brag what he will do, which is the common practice of foolish men. 

CHARLES BRIDGES: Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth,” Proverbs 27:1. How awfully has this boasting been put to shame!—Abner promised a kingdom, but could not ensure his life for an hour, 2 Samuel 3:9-27…The rich fool’s soul was required of him “on the very night” of his worldly projects “for many years” to come, Luke 12:16-20. 

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): A little time may produce considerable changes, and such as we little think of. “Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips,” Proverbs 27:2. [Even] when we have done it we must not commend ourselves, for that is an evidence of pride, folly, and self-love, and a great lessening to a man’s reputation. Every one will be forward to run him down that cries himself up.

CHARLES BRIDGES: There is the sin of egotism: “Our own mouth praises us, not another.”  We love to hear ourselves talk, and present our own judgment intrusively.

MATTHEW HENRY: There may be a just occasion for us to vindicate ourselves, but it does not become us to applaud ourselves―thus boasting is for ever excluded. 

WILLIAM ARNOT (1808-1875): We are on dangerous ground when we are contending in our own cause…Self-love ties a bandage on the eyes of the understanding, and then leads the blind astray.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): It is impossible to speak much, and yet speak nothing but truth; and injure no man’s character in the mean while. 

WILLIAM S. PLUMER (1802-1880):  Sins of the tongue are commonly very cruel…Its canons are infernal. One of them is, “If a lie will do better than the truth, tell a lie.” Another is, “Heap on reproach; some of it will stick.” 

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile,” Psalm 34:13. The precept which David here delivers relates to a virtue which is very rare, namely, that we should be truthful and free from deceit in our discourse. Some, indeed, understand it in a much more extended sense, supposing that slander is condemned. 

PETER BARO (1534-1599): Detraction or slander is not lightly to be passed over, because we do so easily fail in this point. The good name of a man, saith Solomon, is a precious thing to everyone, and to be preferred before much treasure, Ecclesiastes 7:1. It is no less grievous to hurt a man with the tongue than with a sword: nay, oft-times the stroke of a tongue is worse than the wound of a spear, as it is in a French proverb.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Slander is an old-fashioned weapon out of the armoury of hell, and is still in plentiful use…Slander leaves a slur, even if it be wholly disproved. 

JOHN TRAPP: Slander is a kind of murder. 

ADAM CLARKE: He that uttereth slander is a fool,” Proverbs 10:18. He slays three persons: The man whom he slanders; him to whom he communicates the slander; and himself, the slanderer.

C. H. SPURGEON: The deadliest of all venom is the slander of the unscrupulous. Some men care not what they say so long as they can vex and injure. 

CHARLES BRIDGES: The next warning is directed against hasty words. 

WILLIAM ARNOT: It is the part of a wise man to set a watch upon his own lips. 

MATTHEW HENRY: A man may show himself to be a wise man—by the good government of his tongue…We ought to be “swift to hear,” and “slow to speak,” James 1:19…Seest thou a man that is forward to speak to every matter that is started, and affects to speak first to it, to open it, and speak last to it, to give judgment upon it, as if he were an oracle? There is more hope of a modest fool who is sensible of his folly, than of such a self-conceited one…He that is hasty of spirit, whose heart is tinder to every spark of provocation, that is all fire and tow, as we say―he thinks hereby to magnify himself and make those about stand in awe of him, whereas really he exalts his own folly. 

WILLIAM ARNOT: If we fling the door open, and allow the emotions to rush forth as they arise, it is certain many of our words will be evil, and do evil. 

CHARLES BRIDGES: He that hath knowledge spareth his words, and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit, Proverbs 17:27. A man of knowledge will spare his words, when the probable prospect is harm rather than good. 

MATTHEW HENRY: He “spares his words,” because they are better spared than ill-spent. This is generally taken for such a sure indication of wisdom that a fool may gain the reputation of being a wise man if he have but wit enough to hold his tongue, to hear, and see, and say little. If a fool hold his peace, men of candour will think him wise, because nothing appears to the contrary, and because it will be thought that he is making observations on what others say, and gaining experience, and is consulting with himself what he shall say, that he may speak pertinently. See how easy it is to gain men’s good opinion?

ADAM CLARKE: But who that thinks he can speak well can refrain from speaking?

WILLIAM ARNOT: To refrain, that is, to bridle back the lips, requires some practice to make one skilful in it; but skill in that art will be very profitable in the long run. It easier, and more natural, when one is full of emotions, to open the sluices, and let the whole gush forth in an impetuous stream of words. It is easy, but not right; it is pleasant to nature, but it is offensive to God, and hurtful to men. You must consider well, and pull the bridle hard, and permit no false or proud words to pass the barrier of the lips. Strangle the evil thoughts as they are coming to the birth, that the spirits that troubled you within may not go forth embodied to trouble also the world.

JOHN CALVIN: Good order cannot exist, unless princes are sedulously on the watch to repress pride.

 

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