The Biblical Balance For A Happy Marriage

1 Peter 3:1,7; Ephesians 5:22-25,33

Ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands―Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life.

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it―let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

JOHN CHRYSOSTOM (347-407): The scales should always be equally poised in exhortations.

JOHN DAVENANT (1572-1641): This Paul has accurately observed in this whole exhortation―he cast into one scale the duties of wives: now he places in the other the duties of husbands also, so that both should be equal in weight.

JOHN ANGELL JAMES (1785-1869): Mutual respect is a duty of married life; for though, as we shall afterwards consider, especial respect is due from the wife—yet respect is due from the husband also.

ROBERT HAWKER (1753-1827): Observe what those two great apostles Peter and Paul, have said on this subject.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): Peter and Paul taught the same doctrine.

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): The submission of the wife to her husband must be entire, cheerful, uniform, “as unto the Lord,” because the husband is as truly the head of the wife, as Christ is the Head of the Church.

JOHN DAVENANT: The limitation is: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord,” Colossians 3:18―If the husband attempt to entice his wife into any sin, it is not fit that those who are in the Lord, should obey in such things.

CHARLES SIMEON: There is no other limit to her submission…

What is the meaning of those words, “As the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands, in every thing?” I confess to you that this appears somewhat harsh―but I am not at liberty to soften it, or to introduce into God’s Word any qualifying expressions, to lower the standard He has given us. You yourselves see the comparison which is instituted by God Himself, and the extent of the requisition that is made. Had the comparison been omitted, we might possibly have thought that the expression, “every thing” did admit of some modifications and exceptions. But who will so construe the obedience which the Church owes to Christ? If, then, we cannot so limit the requisition in the one case, neither can we in the other: and, consequently, in our statement of the duties of a wife, we must take the ground which is laid in Scripture, and set forth the will of God as it is plainly declared in the inspired volume.

JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688): Why? Because, otherwise, “the Word of God will be blasphemed,” Titus 2:5―It is unseemly to see a woman, as much as once in her lifetime, to offer to overtop her husband.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): With comparatively rare exceptions, wives are no longer in subjection to their husbands; and as for obeying them, why, the majority of women demand that such a hateful word be stricken from the marriage ceremony.

JOHN DAVENANT: But God most clearly has sanctioned this female subjection: “Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee,” Genesis 3:16.

CHARLES SIMEON: If this appear, as I fear it will, “an hard saying,” that impression will soon be removed, by stating next the duties of the husband. “Husbands, love your wives.” Here we observe the counterpart of the comparison which has been before made in relation to the wife―Is the wife to submit to her husband as unreservedly as the Church submits to Christ? Know ye then, that the husband is to love his wife as truly and tenderly, yea, and, as far as it is possible, to the very same extent―“as Christ has loved the Church, and gave himself for it.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Thus the authority of the man over the woman is founded on his love to her―and this love must be such as to lead him to risk his life for her.

CHARLES SIMEON: Now, let us suppose a husband to act on this principle: to exercise self-denial, to the utmost possible extent, for the good of his wife; to pant after her happiness, as to be willing to do any thing, or suffer any thing, in order to promote it: and let us suppose him never to propose any thing to her, but for her good; and never, in any instance, to thwart her, but with a view to her truest happiness; methinks she would never complain of the extent of her duty to him; it would be all easy, all delightful. Let it be remembered, then, that this is the husband’s duty to his wife.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them,” Colossians 3:19. Never say a bitter word against them.

D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): I have known wives afraid to talk to their husbands, afraid of getting them mad.

C. H. SPURGEON: Oh, there are some spirits that are very bitter! A little thing puts them out and they would take delight in a taunt which grieves the spirit. I pity the poor woman who has such bitterness where she ought to have sweetness―yet there are some such husbands.

ADAM CLARKE: Wherever bitterness is, there love is wanting.

JOHN BUNYAN: Think on this, you mad-brained blasphemous husbands!

ROBERT LEIGHTON (1611-1684): Your wives are subject to you, but you are likewise subject to this Word.

A. W. PINK: May it move them to treat their wives with that love, sympathy, patience, gentleness, considerateness, which is their due.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714):  And that, notwithstanding the imperfections and failures that she is guilty of.

CHARLES SIMEON: The duties of man and wife are placed in a light peculiarly simple and beautiful, each under one single term: “Wives, submit―Husbands, love.”

ROBERT LEIGHTON: As being heirs together of the grace of life.” This most strongly binds all these duties on the hearts of husbands and wives, and most strongly indeed binds their hearts together, and makes them one. If each be reconciled unto God in Christ, and so an heir of life, and one with God, then are they truly one in God with each other; and that is the surest and sweetest union that can be―Hearts centering in Him, are most excellently one―Loth will they be to despise one another, who are both bought with the precious blood of one Redeemer, and loth to grieve one another.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Now, as to Peter and Paul―when we receive and venerate everything that they have delivered to us, we hear not so much them, as Christ speaking in them.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): As Peter writes in 2 Peter 1:21, “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost;” or as Paul puts in 2 Timothy 3:16: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God.

 

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How Providence Reconciles God’s Sovereignty & Man’s Free Will

Acts 2:22,23

Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): The death of Christ was ordained by the eternal counsel of God.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): God not only foreknew that it would be, but determined that it should be.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): Yet this did in no way excuse those who were instrumental in His death; for notwithstanding God’s determinate counsel concerning it, he tells the Jews, “ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” The determination of God, as it does not necessitate to, so it does not excuse any from sin.

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): We shall be ready to say, “If what these people did was only what God’s hand and counsel had determined before to be done, we must not condemn them: they were only instruments in the hand of a superior power: and if there be any evil in what they did, it must be traced to Jehovah himself, whose counsel had decreed it, and who, by His power, stimulated them to the commission of it.” But all this is quite erroneous. Though God had ordained these things, he never instigated any man to the commission of them; he only elevated men to situations, where, if they were so disposed, they might execute all the evil that was in their hearts, and left them at liberty to follow their own will.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): It never occurred to Peter that the counsel of God deprived men of the responsibility and guilt of their actions. No neither need it ever occur to you. If anyone shall say to you, “When anything is according to the foreknowledge and counsel of God, how can God blame the doer of it?” you may tell him that he has first to explain to you what he means; and if he says there is a difficulty in it, ask him to tell you what the difficulty is―the inspired apostle Peter could see none; but when he was most vehement in charging these men with guilt, yet, at the same time, he said that it was by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. Surely, he was a bad pleader to introduce into his argument anything that could be readily construed into an excuse for those he was accusing. But there is no real excuse in it; the free agency of man is as true as the predestination of God; the two truths stand fast for ever. It is the folly of man to imagine that they disagree. If you do wrong, you are accountable for the wrong; and if there is a providence which ordains everything—as certainly there is—yet that providence takes not away from any man the full responsibility for aught that he does.

JOHN CALVIN: Man falls according as God’s providence allows, but he falls by his own fault.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): There are three things in providence: God’s foreknowing; God’s determining; and God’s directing all things to their periods and events.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Let us notice, secondly, the place where Christ was born. It was not at Nazareth of Galilee, where His mother Mary lived. The prophet Micah had foretold that the event was to take place at Bethlehem, Micah 5:2. And so it came to pass.

JOHN CALVIN: Nor is the Providence of God less wonderful in employing the mandate of a tyrant to draw Mary from home, that the prophecy may be fulfilled.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed,” Luke 2:1. That which Augustus designed was either to gratify his pride in knowing the numbers of his people, and proclaiming it to the world, or he did it in policy, to strengthen his interest and make his government appear the more formidable; but Providence had another reach in it. All the world shall be at the trouble of being enrolled, only that Joseph and Mary may.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): It was, humanly speaking, the most unlikely thing in the world that Jesus should be born here; for Bethlehem was not the place of Joseph’s residence, but Nazareth in Galilee. But the decree requiring that every one should repair to his own patrimonial city to be enrolled, Joseph, being of the house and lineage of David, goes up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth in Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, and Mary with him, being great with child. And so it was, that while they were there waiting for his registry, “the days were accomplished that she should be delivered,” Luke 2:1-7.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): There is a clock with which Providence keepeth time and pace, and God Himself setteth it.

JOHN GILL: And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria,” Luke 2:2. Such an enrollment had been determined on by Augustus when he was at Tarracon in Spain twenty seven years before; but he was diverted from it by some disturbances in the empire, so that it was deferred to this time, in which there was a remarkable interposition of divine providence.

J. C. RYLE: The overruling providence of God appears in this simple fact―He overruled the time when Augustus decreed the taxing, and He directed time of the enforcement of the decree in such a way, that Mary must needs be at Bethlehem when “the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.” Little did the haughty Roman emperor, and his officer Cyrenius, think that they were only instruments in the hand of the God of Israel, and were only carrying out the eternal purposes of the King of kings.

MARY WINSLOW (1774-1854): By the most trivial and mean things, in His all-wise, wonderful providence, He performs His wonders and accomplishes His purposes.

WILLIAM JAY: Mary thought of nothing but accompanying Joseph. Joseph thought of nothing but obeying the order of the governor. The governor thought of nothing but the mandate of the emperor. The emperor only obeyed his vanity and pride; yet all these ignorantly but unitedly conduced to fulfil the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. How freely men can act, and yet how necessarily! How real, and yet inexplicable is the concord between human liberty and the certainty of events!

MATTHEW HENRY: See how man purposes and God disposes; and how God’s providence orders all things for the fulfilling of the Scripture, and makes use of the projects that men have for serving their own purposes, quite beyond their intention, to serve His.

ALEXANDER CARSON (1776-1844): The more we give ourselves to the study of Providence, the more clearly will we be convinced that Jehovah reigns on earth as well as in heaven.

J. C. RYLE: The powers of this world are only tools in the hand of God: He is always using them for His own purposes, however little they may be aware of it.

 

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Praying in Prayer Meetings

Luke 11:1

Lord, teach us to pray.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): We’ve got to learn how to pray!

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714):  Lord, teach us to pray,” is itself a good prayer, and a very needful one, for it is a hard thing to pray well.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): The chief fault of some good prayers is, that they are too long: not that I think we should pray by the clock, and limit ourselves precisely to a certain number of minutes; but it is better of the two, that the hearers should wish the prayer had been longer, than spend half or a considerable part of the time in wishing it was over…Long prayers should in general be avoided, especially where several persons are to pray successively; or else even spiritual hearers will be unable to keep up their attention.

DAVID STONER (1793-1826): Long praying is, in general, both a symptom, and a cause of spiritual deadness.

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): Some of us seem to think it necessary to make one long prayer about all sorts of things—many of them very right and very good, no doubt—but the mind gets bewildered by the multiplicity of subjects.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): How many prayers have we heard that were so incoherent and aimless, so lacking in point and unity, that when the amen was reached we could scarcely remember one thing for which thanks had been given or request had been made, only a blurred impression remaining on the mind.

WILLIAM S. PLUMER (1802-1880): This ought not to be―nor should prayers be tedious.

JOHN NEWTON: This is frequently owing to an unnecessary enlargement upon every circumstance that offers, as well as to the repetition of the same things―and here I would just notice an impropriety we sometimes meet with, that, when a person gives expectation that he is just going to conclude his prayer, something not thought of in its proper place occurring that instant to his mind, leads him as it were to begin again. But, unless it is a matter of singular importance, it would be better omitted for that time.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): If each person will offer the petition most laid upon his heart by the Holy Spirit, and then make room for another, the meeting will be far more profitable, and the prayers incomparably more fervent than if each brother ran round the whole circle of petition without dwelling upon any one point—far better for the whole meeting that the many wants should be presented experimentally by many intercessors…Long prayers either consist of repetitions, or else of unnecessary explanations which God does not require; or else they degenerate into downright preachings.

ISAAC WATTS (1674-1748): Some persons are greatly faulty in this respect; they are speaking to the people and teaching them the doctrines of religion, and the mind and will of God, rather than speaking to God the desires of their own mind.  They wander away from God to speak to men.

C. H. MACKINTOSH: What can be more painful than to hear a man explaining and unfolding doctrines? The question forces itself upon us: “Is the man speaking to God, or to us?” If to God, then surely nothing can be more irreverent or profane than to attempt to explain things to Him; but if to us, then it is not prayer at all—It seems, at times, as though we meant to explain principles to God, and give Him a large amount of information.

JOHN NEWTON: Indeed this can hardly be called prayer. It might in another place stand for part of a good sermon; but will afford little help to those who desire to pray with their hearts.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): It is difficult to remain long in prayer, and not slacken in our affections.  Especially observe this in social prayers; for when we pray in company, we must consider them that travel with us: as Jacob said, “I will lead on softly, as the children are able to endure.”

C. H. SPURGEON: It is necessary to draw near unto God, but it is not required of you to prolong your speech till everyone is longing to hear the word “Amen.”―“He prayed me into a good frame of mind,” George Whitefield once said of a certain preacher, “and if he had stopped there, it would have been very well; but he prayed me out of it again by keeping on.”

JOHN NEWTON:  There are several things likewise respecting the voice and manner of prayer, which, if generally corrected, would make meetings for prayer more pleasant than they sometimes are…

Very loud speaking is a fault, when the size of the place, and the number of hearers, do not render it necessary―It may seem indeed to indicate great earnestness, and that the heart is much affected; yet it is often but false fire. It may be thought to be speaking with power; but a person who is favoured with the Lord’s presence may pray with power in a moderate voice; and there may be very little power of the Spirit, though the voice should be heard in the street. The other extreme, of speaking too low, is not so frequent; but, if we are not heard, we might as well altogether hold our peace. It exhausts the spirits, and wearies the attention, to be listening for a length of time to a very low voice.

D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): Another thing: Be yourself. I detest the kind of people that take a religious tone when they begin to talk.

JOHN NEWTON: Some have a tone in prayer, so very different from their usual way of speaking, that their nearest friends could hardly know them by their voice…It is pity that when we approve what is spoken, we should be so easily disconcerted by an awkwardness of delivery; yet so it often is—and probably so it will be, in the present weak and imperfect state of human nature.

C. H. SPURGEON: Cant phrases are another evil.

JOHN NEWTON: Many, perhaps most people who pray in public, have some favorite word or expression, which recurs too often in their prayers.

C. H. SPURGEON: A very favourite was “Thy poor unworthy dust”—We have heard of a good man who, in pleading for his children and grandchildren, was so beclouded in the blinding influence of this expression, that he exclaimed, “O Lord, save Thy dust, and Thy dust’s dust, and Thy dust’s dust’s dust!” When Abraham said, “I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes,” the utterance was forcible and deeply expressive; but in its misquoted, perverted, and abused form, the sooner it is consigned to the dust-bin, the better.

WILLIAM S. PLUMER: Avoid all cant phrases.  They pall upon the ear.

JOHN NEWTON:  I shall be glad if these hints may be of any service to those who desire to worship God in spirit and in truth, and who wish that whatever has a tendency to damp the spirit of devotion, either in themselves or in others, might be avoided.

 

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Samson’s Eye Problem

Judges 14:1,2,7

Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines. And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife…And he went down, and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Samson saw this woman and she pleased him well. It does not appear that he had any reason to think her wise or virtuous, or in any way likely to be a help-meet for him; but he saw something in her face that was very agreeable to his fancy. And therefore nothing will serve but she must be his wife…God had forbidden the people of Israel to marry with the devoted nations, one of which the Philistines were, Deuteronomy 7:3―But this treaty of marriage is expressly said to be “of the Lord,” Judges 14:4.

G. CAMPBELL MORGAN (1863-1945): This fact, however, in no sense justified the sin of Samson in seeking a wife of the Philistines in violation of the expressed commands of God.

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): The creature, whatever his own mind and purpose may be, is only “a rod, or staff, or sword in Jehovah’s hand,” to execute His holy will. And though this does not excuse the creature, who, in fact, thinks of doing his own will only―there may be many events which seem unpropitious, and threaten the total destruction of the life of God in the soul: but God will overrule them all for the final accomplishment of His own gracious purposes.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): Often, for the manifestation of His wisdom, power, and grace, in bringing good out of evil, He, for a season, gives them up so far to the effects of their own depravity.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Samson saw no doubt many other women besides her, but he took special notice of her, and entertained a particular affection for her. Or, in other words—on the sight of her, he fell in love with her.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Eye-gate is one of the avenues through which temptations assail the soul…Walking by sight is the cause of most of our failures and sorrows. So it was at the beginning: “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof,” Genesis 3:6. Mark, too, the confession of Achan: “When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them and took them,” Joshua 7:21. How significant the order here I saw, I coveted, I took!

MATTHEW HENRY: Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her,” Judges 16:1. His taking a Philistine to wife was in some degree excusable, but to join himself to a harlot that he accidentally saw among them was such a profanation of his honour as an Israelite, as a Nazarite, that we cannot but blush to read it…His sin began in his eye―he saw there one in the attire of a harlot, and the lust which conceived brought forth sin: he went in unto her.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Satan never ceases diligently to suggest those things that may incite us to sin. The senses both readily embrace the occasion of sin that is presented to them, and also eagerly and quickly convey it to the mind. Wherefore let every one endeavour sedulously to govern his eyes, and his ears, and the other members of his body, unless he wishes to open so many doors to Satan, into the innermost affections of his heart: and especially as the sense of the eyes is the most tender, no common care must be used in putting them under restraint.

RICHARD BAXTER (1615-1691): We can scarce open our eyes, but we are in danger―If we see beauty, it is a bait to lust.

ROBERT NISBET (1814-1874): The lust of the eyes, desire; the lust of the flesh, pleasure.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN (1826-1910): The first false step leads on to connections unforeseen, from which the man would have shrunk in horror, if he had been told that he would make them. Once on the incline, time and gravity will settle how far down we go.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah,” Judges 16:4. With lustful love, as a harlot; which though not certain, because the phrase is here ambiguous, she being neither called a harlot, as she of Gaza was; nor yet his wife, as she of Timnath was, yet it may seem more probable; partly, because the dreadful punishment now inflicted upon Samson for this sin, whom God spared for the first offence, is an intimation that this sin was not inferior to the former; partly, because the confidence which the Philistine lords had in her, and their bold and frequent treating with her, and the whole course of her carriage towards Samson, show her to be a mercenary and perfidious harlot, and not a wife, whose affection and interest would have obliged her to better things; and partly, because Samson did not carry her home to his house, as husbands do their wives, but lodged in her house, as appears from the whole story.

MATTHEW HENRY: The burnt child dreads the fire; yet Samson, that has more than the strength of a man, in this comes short of the wisdom of a child; for, though he had been more than once brought into the highest degree of mischief and danger by the love of women and lusting after them, yet he would not take warning, but is here again taken in the same snare, and this third time pays for all. Solomon seems to refer especially to this story of Samson when, in his caution against uncleanness, he gives this account of a whorish woman, that “she hath cast down many wounded, yea, many strong men have been slain by her,” Proverbs 7:26.

ROBERT HAWKER (1753-1827): Awfully let us remark the punishment suited to the offence; that is, I mean, not as it came from the hand of man, but from the correction of God. It was Samson’s eyes which had become the great inlet to evil, when he first saw this harlot.

G. S. BOWES (circa 1820’s-1880’s): Samson fell by the “lust of the eyes,” 1 John 2:16; and before his death the Philistines “put out his eyes,” Judges 16:21.

THOMAS BROOKS (1608-1680): I remember a notable saying of Ambrose, speaking of Samson: “He broke the bonds of his enemies, but he could not break the bonds of his own lusts; he choked the lion, but he could not choke his own wanton love; he set on fire the harvest of strangers, and himself being set on fire with the spark of one strange woman, lost the harvest of his virtue.” And this saying of Ambrose puts me in mind of a great Roman captain, who, as he was riding in his triumphant chariot through Rome, had his eyes never off a courtesan that walked along the street, which made one say, “Behold how this goodly captain, that conquered such potent armies, is himself conquered by one silly woman.”

 

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The Tender Mercies of the Wicked

Proverbs 12:10; Psalm 74:20

The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

For the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty.

WILLIAM ARNOT (1808-1875): Cruelty is a characteristic of the wicked in general.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): They are violent, without mercy, ruthless. The wicked, influenced by Satan, can show no other disposition than what is in their master.

JOSEPH CARYL (1602-1673): Cruel men, or men so full of cruelty that they deserve rather to be called cruelty than cruel: this sort of men inhabit and fill up all those places where the light of holy truth doth not shine.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): In some there is no fear of God at all, and they are bold and daring enough to assert it.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): “The tender mercies of the wicked,”if any such thing there were; but they have no such tenderness, scarce a common humanity.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): And doubtless it is the fear of God alone which unites us together in the bonds of our common humanity, which keeps us within the bounds of moderation, and represses cruelty; otherwise we should devour each other like wild beasts…For God, in order that He may preserve mankind from destruction, holds in check, with His secret rein, the lusts of the ungodly. It must, however, be always taken into the account, that the door is opened to all kinds of wickedness, when piety and the fear of God have vanished. Of this, at the present day, too clear a proof is manifest, in the horrible deluge of crime, which almost covers the whole earth. For, from what other cause than this arise such a variety of deceptions and frauds, such perfidy and cruelty, that all sense of justice is extinguished by the contempt of God?

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): That natural compassion which is in him, as a man, is lost, and, by the power of corruption, is turned into hard-heartedness.

JOHN CALVIN: It will, indeed, sometimes happen, that they who are destitute of the fear of God, may cultivate the appearance of equity.

ADAM CLARKE: If they appear at any time merciful, it is a cloak which they use to cover purposes of cruelty. To accomplish its end, iniquity will assume any garb, speak mercifully, extol benevolence, sometimes even give to the poor!

THOMAS COKE (1747-1814): Francis Bacon observes upon this verse, that “the very kindnesses of the wicked, being treacherous, are a cruel cheat; nay, the highest expressions which they make of tenderness and compassion, whereby they induce others to repose a trust in them, are intended merely as a cover for the mischief which they mean more securely to do them.” The Greeks have a proverb nearly to the same purpose, Εχθρων δωρα αδωρα―“The gifts of enemies are no gifts.”

MATTHEW HENRY: Even that which they will have to pass for compassion is really cruel, as Pilate’s resolution concerning Christ the innocent, “I will chastise him and let him go,” Luke 23:22. Their pretended kindnesses are only a cover for purposed cruelties.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Christ comes forth from Pilate’s hall with the cumbrous wood upon His shoulder. Through weariness He travels slowly, and His enemies, urgent for His death, and half afraid, from His emaciated appearance, that He may die before He reaches the place of execution, allow another to carry His burden.

JOHN TRAPP: Not so much to ease Christ, who fainted under the burden, as to hasten the execution and to keep Him alive till He came to it.

CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): Thus “the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel,” having no right feeling; only a milder exercise of barbarity, and usually meted out for some selfish end.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): There is cruelty mixed even with their most merciful actions.

C. H. SPURGEON:The soldiers also mocked Him, offering Him vinegar,” Luke 23:36. When our Lord cried, “Eloi, Eloi,” and afterwards said, “I thirst,” the persons around the Cross said, “Let Him be, let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him,” mocking Him; and, according to Mark 15:36, he who gave Him the vinegar uttered much the same words; he pitied the Sufferer, but he thought so little of Him that he joined in the voices of scorn. Even when man pities the sufferings of Christ—and the man would have ceased to be human if he did not—still he scorns Him! The very cup which man gives to Jesus is at once scorn and pity, for, “the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): It has ever been true, and still is today, that “the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty.”―Human nature has not changed; Satan has not changed; the world has not changed.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Man today is as rotten as he was the moment he fell in the Garden of Eden.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Many specious pretenses persecutors have to disguise their malice.

C. H. SPURGEON: Persecutors are grieved to feel forced to be harsh—their “tender” spirits are wounded by being compelled to say a word against the Lord’s people! Gladly would they love them if they would not be so obstinate! With sweet language they inflict bitter wounds—their words are softer than butter—but inwardly they are drawn swords.

THOMAS COKE: The bitterest enmity lurks often under the most plausible professions and apparent civilities.

C. H. SPURGEON: Man, at his best, mingles admiration of the Saviour’s Person with scorn of His claims—writing books to hold Him up as an example and at the same moment rejecting His Deity! Admitting that He was a wonderful Man, but denying His most sacred mission! Extolling His ethical teaching and then trampling on His blood—thus giving Him drink, but that drink, vinegar!—To attempt to preach Christ without His cross, is to betray Him with a kiss.

JOHN GILL: The most tender things which are expressed or done by them are nothing but cruelty; and what then must be their more severe expressions and actions?

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): How much, then, do we owe to the restraining power of God, which holds in check the evil passions of men…Let the withholding hand of God be withdrawn for a short season, and even now, His people would be sorely “afflicted” too—and the more Christlike is our life, the more we shall drink, in our measure, of the cup He drank from.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): Whoever brings an affliction, it is God that sends it.

MATTHEW HENRY: Afflictions are in the covenant, and therefore they are not meant for our hurt but are intended for our good…Christ went by the cross to the crown, and we must not think of going any other way.

C. H. SPURGEON: The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel; but the cruel things of God are full of tender mercy!

JOHN MASON (1600-1672): This is the Christian’s plea and glory. While he knows “the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel,” yet he also knows that the “merciful kindness of the Lord is great, and the truth of the Lord endureth forever,” Psalm 118:2.

 

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Lessons From the Life of Lot Part 3: Lot’s Testimony to his Children

Genesis 19:1,12-14

And there came two angels to Sodom at even…

And [they] said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place: for we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it.

And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): God was about to destroy Sodom.

H. A. IRONSIDE (1876-1951): The angels commanded Lot to go to his relatives in the city, men who had married his daughters and tell them that tomorrow the judgment was to fall. But they mocked him when he talked to them about judgment—they thought he was demented.

D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): The Saviour tells us they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, Luke 17:28; all went on as usual. They did not believe there was any sign of the coming judgment.

H. A. IRONSIDE: Why? Because Lot had lived so much like the rest of them.

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): It is vain to speak of approaching judgment, while finding our place, our portion, and our enjoyment, in the very scene which is to be judged.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): The world expects the Christian to be different and looks to him for something different.

D. L. MOODY: Ah! poor Lot has lost his testimony.

WILLIAM ARNOT (1808-1875): One of the heaviest complaints made in the prophets against Jerusalem for her backsliding, is that she was a “comfort” to Samaria and Sodom, Ezekiel 16:54; that those who had the name and place of God’s people, so lived as to make the wicked feel at ease. If the salt retain its saltness, surrounding corruption will be made uneasy by the contact. If Christians live as much like the world as they can, the world will think itself safe in its sin; and those who should have been the deliverers, will become the destroyers of their neighbours.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): If Christian men are so unwise as to conform themselves to the world, even if they keep up the Christian character in a measure, they will gain nothing by worldly association but being vexed with the conversation of the ungodly—and they will be great losers in their own souls—their character will be tarnished, their whole tone of feeling will be lowered and they themselves will be wretchedly weak and unhappy.

A. W. PINK: The powerlessness of Lot’s testimony appeared in the response made by his sons-in-law when he warned them―his words now had no weight because of his previous ways.

D. L. MOODY: He couldn’t get them out. I see him going through the streets with his head bowed down and great tears trickling down his cheeks.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city,” Genesis 19:15. He was now returned from his sons-in-law, and by this time it began to be light: “then the angels hastened Lot;”―urged him to get out of his house as fast as he could.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): “And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand,” Genesis 19:16. The angels first urged him by words; now seizing him by the hand, and indeed with apparent violence, they compel him to depart. His tardiness is truly wonderful, since, though he was certainly persuaded that the angels did not threaten in vain, he could yet be moved, by no force of words, until he is dragged by their hands out of the city.

C. H. SPURGEON: Why should Lot want to linger in Sodom? He had often been vexed there. The very night, before, he had his house beset with rioters! Why should he want to linger?

A. W. PINK: The words “while he lingered” show plainly where his heart was.

WILLIAM KELLY (1821-1906): Lot was a “righteous soul,” but he was seduced [by worldliness].

ALEXANDER MacLAREN (1826-1910): The world tightens its grasp as we grow older.

D. L. MOODY: He had been there twenty years. He could not bear the thought of leaving his loved ones there to perish.

C. H. SPURGEON: When Lot lingered, he was defeating his own purpose and doing the worst imaginable thing, if he wanted to convince his sons-in-law that he spoke the truth, for while he lingered, they would say, “The old fool does not believe it himself, for if he did believe it, he would pack up and hasten away!”—The mischief that Lot did to his daughters was yet more aggravated, for all the while he was hesitating, they were sure to hesitate, too.

D. L. MOODY: His own children do not believe him—I tell you, when men live so like the world that their own children have no confidence in their piety, they have sunk very low.

C. H. SPURGEON: Actions speak louder than words. Conformity to the world is sure to end badly sooner or later―to the man himself it is injurious, and to his family ruinous.

D. L. MOODY: You take your children to Sodom, and you will find it will not be long before they will want to stay there. It is easier to lead your children into temptation than it is to lead them out. What a mistake Lot had made! He had taken them away from the society of Sarah and Abram, that holy family living out on the plain in communion with heaven daily. He had taken them down to Sodom, and they were steeped in the sins of Sodom…Ask Lot now about his life, and he will tell you it has been a total failure.

ROWLAND HILL (1744-1833): Through a long life I have invariably noticed, that when such children turn out improperly, you may trace a defect in the religious character of one, or both of the parents. If the father is a godly man, the wife may have much of the world about her; or, if the mother is wholly devoted to God, the children may see a want of cooperation in the father in advancing the mother’s plans.

JOSEPH ALLEINE (1634-1668): Well then, pause a little, and look within. Does not this concern you? You pretend to be for Christ, but does not the world sway you?  Do you not take more real delight and contentment in the world than in Him?

H. A. IRONSIDE: Are you and I so living that our testimony really counts when we warn men to flee from the wrath to come, or are we living so near to the edge of the world, are we so much like those around us, that others question whether we really believe what we are professing?

 

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Walking with God in an Ungodly World

Genesis 5:21-24; Jude 14, 15; Hebrews 11:5

And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: and Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: and all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: and Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.

And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied…saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): What does Enoch’s walking with God imply?

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): He walked “in the fear of the Lord,” as the Chaldee paraphrases it: and this he did without intermission, not for a time or two, but continually, constantly: he walked with God by a humble familiarity, and a holy conformity; as a man doth with his friend.

C. H. SPURGEON: When we read that Enoch walked with God we are to understand that he realized the Divine Presence. You cannot consciously walk with a person whose existence is not known to you. When we walk with a man, we know that he is there…We have some very clear perception that there is a person at our side. Now, if we look to Hebrews again, Paul tells us, “He that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him,” Hebrews 11:6. Enoch’s faith, then, was a realizing faith. He did not believe things as a matter of creed and then put them up on the shelf out of the way, as too many of us do today—he was not merely orthodox in his head—but the Truth of God had entered into his heart. What he believed was true to him, practically true, true as a matter of fact in his daily life.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN (1826-1910): So, then, “practise the presence of God.” An old mystic says: “If I can tell how many times today I have thought about God, I have not thought about Him often enough.”

C. H. SPURGEON: It was not that he merely thought of God, that he speculated about God, that he argued about God, that he read about God, that he talked about God—he walked with God, which is the practical and experimental part of true godliness! In his daily life he realized that God was with him and he regarded Him as a living God, in whom he confided and by whom he was loved―his life must also have been a holy life, because he walked with God, for God never walks out of the way of holiness.

D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): Enoch’s name—“dedicated, disciplined, well-regulated,”—was significant of his character. He was a dedicated man, whose life was disciplined and his habits regulated by the guiding hand of God. He saw the promises afar off, and was persuaded of them, and embraced them; and by faith lived as one alive from the dead, yielding his members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

C. H. SPURGEON: If we walk with God, we must walk according to truth, justice and love.

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): Enoch loved his God―if I may so speak, with all his heart, and mind, and soul, and strength: God would never have given him a special testimony of His approbation, if his heart had been destitute of the sacred flame of love.

C. H. SPURGEON: What circumstances were connected with his remarkable life? These are highly instructive.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Enoch was a prophet.

C. H. SPURGEON: He is called “the seventh from Adam.” He was a notable man and looked up to as one of the fathers of his age. A Patriarch in those days must have been a marked man, loaded with responsibility as well as with honour.

D. L. MOODY: Enoch was translated fifty-seven years after the death of Adam―and the young prophet may have talked with him―perhaps he stood with the ancients round the grave of the father of our race.

C. H. SPURGEON: Enoch must have been a man of profound knowledge and great wisdom as to Divine things. He must have dived into the deep things of God beyond most men.

D. L. MOODY: I will venture to say that Enoch, in his day, was considered a most singular and visionary man—an “eccentric” man—the most peculiar man who lived in that day. He was a man out of fashion—out of the fashion of this world, which passeth away. He was one of those who set their affections on things above. He lived days of heaven upon earth; for the essence of heaven is to walk with God. He did not go with the current and the crowd.

THOMAS COKE (1747-1814): He not only himself lived for God, but he laboured for God.

JOHN TRAPP: He kept a constant counter-motion to the corrupt courses of the times; not only not swimming down the stream with the wicked, but pronouncing God’s severe judgment against them.

D. L. MOODY: Enoch dared to do right. He took his position, and dared to stand against an ungodly generation. There he stood; and he was not ashamed to stand alone. He testified against the sins of a generation which was filling the earth with violence, and crying out for the judgment of God upon it.

C. H. SPURGEON: Enoch lived in a day of mockers and despisers―therefore we may be sure he had his trials and bore the brunt of opposition from the powerful ungodly party which opposed the ways of godliness―he was a man who stood firm amidst a torrent of blasphemy and rebuke, carrying on the great controversy for the truth of God against the wicked lives and licentious tongues of the scoffers of his age.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): A remarkable example is set before us in the person of one man, who stood firmly in the season of most dreadful dissipation; in order that, if we wish to live rightly and orderly, we may learn to regard God more than men.

D. L. MOODY: Now there is one thing we can settle in our minds distinctly: if he pleased God, he did not please men. It is impossible to do the two things. This world is at war with God; it has been for six thousand years, and will be as long as man is on the earth. We cannot please God and man.

CHARLES SIMEON: “Before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” This testimony of His approbation God vouchsafed to Enoch. He was a bold and faithful witness for God, and doubtless incensed many against him. And God took him from a persecuting and ungodly world, who probably enough were seeking to destroy him on account of his pungent admonitions.

D. L. MOODY: Enoch was alone, yet not alone, for he walked with God. And when he was translated, he changed his place, but not his company.

C. H. SPURGEON: Enoch walked with God for many a year till, at last, he walked away with God.

 

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A New Year’s Lesson From Elijah’s Last Day on Earth

2 Kings 2:1-6

And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel. And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head today? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.

And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho. And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head today? And he answered, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.

And Elijah said unto him, Tarry, I pray thee, here; for the LORD hath sent me to Jordan…

J. R. MILLER (1840-1912): God leads us on step by step, each step a new revelation. He led Elijah on with new calls to new errands, from Gilgal to Bethel, from Bethel to Jericho, from Jericho to Jordan, and then over the river and up among the hills, until at last, as he went on, the chariot came down and lifted him away. In this same beautiful way does God lead each one of His children through life. We know not what any day may bring forth. But He knows; and He calls us forward, to this duty and experience today, to others tomorrow, and so on and on, until we come to the last step, and that will be into glory.

Elijah’s prompt obedience teaches us our side of the lesson. He went swiftly from task to task. He would finish his work before the end came. It was to visit the schools of the prophets that he went to Bethel and to Jericho. He wanted to give his last counsels to the young students whom he had been training and on whom the future religious work among the people would depend.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): I must work the works of Him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work,” John 9:4. Saith Christ, I have a set time to work in; that is, that which he here calleth day, the time wherein Christ was to live upon the earth. I am not to be here always, there will come a time when I must be absent from the earth, then none of this work can be done. A good argument to persuade every Christian to work while the time of his life lasts, for the night of death will come.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Are there not twelve hours in the day?” John 11:9. Christ here divides the day into twelve hours, according to ancient custom; for though the days are longer in summer and shorter in winter, yet they had always twelve hours of the day, and twelve of the night.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN (1826-1910): To say to a man, ‘there are twelve hours in the day of life, and then comes darkness, the blackness that swallows up all activity,’ may either be made into a support of all lofty and noble thoughts, or, by the baser sort, it may be, and has been, made into a philosophy of the ‘Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die’ kind; ‘Gather ye roses while ye may’; ‘A short life and a merry one.’

JOHN CALVIN: God doth not prolong the lives of His people, that they may pamper themselves with meat and drink, sleep as much as they please, and enjoy every temporal blessing.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Christ’s saying is one which should be remembered by all professing Christians. The life that we now live in the flesh is our day. Let us take care that we use it well, for the glory of God.

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): We are not sent here to eat, and to drink, and to pass our time in pleasure; but to do the work assigned to us. Every moment of our time is given us for that purpose, and should be employed for that end. When we rise in the morning, we should inquire, What duties have I to perform this day? And, when we lie down again at night, we should inquire, how far we have executed the will of our heavenly Master. The performance of our work should supersede every thing else.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): This made John Calvin answer his friends with some indignation, when they admonished him, for his health’s sake, to forbear studying so hard, “What! would you that Christ when He cometh should find me idle?”

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Man goeth forth to his work and to his labour until the evening,” Psalm 104:23. There is the work of every day, which is to be done in its day, which man must apply to every morning―for the lights are set up for us to work by, not to play by―and which he must stick to till evening; it will be time enough to rest when the night comes.

CHARLES SIMEON: Through the mercy of our God, the day is yet continued to you; that day, which, within the last year, has closed on thousands, who, humanly speaking, were as likely to live as you. And, to multitudes of them, how dreary a night has commenced!

MATTHEW HENRY: The night comes―it will come certainly―may come suddenly―and is coming nearer, and nearer…The consideration of our death approaching should quicken us to improve all the opportunities of life.

JOHN CALVIN: So, when we see that a short period of life is allotted to us, we ought to be ashamed of languishing in idleness.

J. R. MILLER: The nearing of the end of life should intensify our earnestness.

J. C. RYLE: Our time is very short. Our daylight will soon be gone. Opportunities once lost can never be retrieved. A second lease of life is granted to no man. Whatever our hand findeth to do, let us do it with our might.

CHARLES SIMEON: Those who are more advanced in years—much of your day is obviously gone: and little, according to the course of nature, remains. Your glass is well nigh run down. Is it not then time for you to awake, and to begin the work which God has sent you to perform?

A. W. TOZER (1897-1963): We have much to do and little time in which to get it done!

CHARLES SIMEON: Let me entreat you, beloved brethren, to be of that happy number; that, when you come to die, you may be able to adopt the words of our blessed Lord, and say, “Father, I have glorified thee on earth; I have finished the work which thou hast given me to do,” John 17:4.

 

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No Room for Jesus Christ

Luke 2:7

And [Mary] brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Jesus was laid in a manger because there was no room for Him.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): Now also, there is seldom room for Christ in an inn.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Now, they are frequently haunts for the idle and the profligate, the drunkard and the infidel―in short, for any kind of guests except Jesus and His genuine followers.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Here I am induced to relate a memorable story. While we were supping in a certain inn, and speaking of the hope of the heavenly life, a profane despiser of God happened to be present, who treated our discourse with derision, and now and then mockingly exclaimed, “The heaven of heavens is the Lord’s.” Instantly afterwards he was seized with dreadful pain, and began to vociferate, “O God! O God!” and, having a powerful voice, he filled the whole apartment with his cries. Then I, who had felt indignant at his conduct, proceeded in my own way, to tell him warmly that now at least he perceived that they who mocked God were not permitted to escape with impunity.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): And this leads us to the second remark, that there were other places besides the inn which had no room for Christ. Might there not be found some room for Christ in what is called good society? Were there not in Bethlehem some people that were very respectable, who kept themselves aloof from the common multitude; persons of reputation and standing—could not they find room for Christ?

Ah! dear friends, it is too much the case that there is no room for Him in what is called good society. There is room for all the silly little forms by which men choose to trammel themselves; room for the vain niceties of etiquette; room for frivolous conversation; room for the adoration of the body, there is room for the setting up of this and that as the idol of the hour, but there is too little room for Christ, and it is far from fashionable to follow the Lord fully. The advent of Christ would be the last thing which society would desire; the very mention of His name by the lips of love would cause a strange sensation. Should you begin to talk about the things of Christ in many a circle, you would be tabooed at once. “I will never ask that man to my house again,” so-and-so would say, “if he must bring his religion with him.” Folly and finery, rank and honour, jewels and glitter, frivolity and fashion, all report that there is no room for Jesus in their abodes.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): Christ, who had all riches, scorned earthly riches; He was born poor, the manger was His cradle, the cobwebs His curtains: He lived poor, He had not where to lay His head: He died poor, He had no crown-lands, only His coat was left, and that the soldiers parted among them: and His funeral was suitable, for as He was born in another man’s house, so He was buried in another man’s tomb.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): When the love of money begins to creep over us, let us think of the manger at Bethlehem, and of Him who was laid in it.

C. H. SPURGEON: Who would think of finding Christ there?

A. W. PINK: He was laid in a manger to show His contempt for worldly riches and pomp. We might think it more fitting for the Christ of God to be born in a palace and laid in a cradle of gold, lined with costly silks.

C. H. SPURGEON: Alas! my brethren, seldom is there room for Christ in palaces! How could the kings of earth receive the Lord? He is the Prince of Peace, and they delight in war!…How could kings accept the humble Saviour? They love grandeur and pomp, and he is all simplicity and meekness. He is a carpenter’s son, and the fisherman’s companion. How can princes find room for the new-born monarch? Why He teaches us to do to others as we would that they should do to us, and this is a thing which kings would find very hard to reconcile with the knavish tricks of politics and the grasping designs of ambition…State-chambers, cabinets, throne-rooms, and royal palaces, are about as little frequented by Christ as the jungles and swamps of India by the cautious traveler. He frequents cottages far more often than regal residences, for there is no room for Jesus Christ in regal halls.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): As there was no room for Him in the inn in Bethlehem, so there was no quiet room for Him in the land of Judea.

C. H. SPURGEON: But there were senators, there were forums of political discussion, there were the places where the representatives of the people make the laws. Was there no room for Christ there? Alas! my brethren, none, and to this day there is very little room for Christ in parliaments. How seldom is religion recognised by politicians! One or two will give Him a good word, but if it be put to the vote whether the Lord Jesus should be obeyed or no, it will be many a day before the ayes have it.

WILLIAM GREENHILL (1591-1677): Politicians think it weakness, foolishness, to suffer for religion. They can change it at pleasure, and fall in with that which hath most pomp and applause in the world.

C. H. SPURGEON: But is there not room for Him on the exchange? Cannot He be taken to the marts of commerce?―Ah! dear friends, how little of the spirit, and life, and doctrine of Christ can be found here! The trader finds it inconvenient to be too scrupulous; the merchant often discovers that if he is to make a fortune he must break his conscience…Bankruptcies, swindlings, frauds are so abundant that in hosts of cases there is no room for Jesus in the mart or the shop.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): And now, universities and schools of learning have too little.

C. H. SPURGEON: There is very little room for Christ in colleges and universities, very little room for Him in the seats of learning―universities and colleges often obscure the truth by their modes of speech.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): I much fear the universities will become wide gates to hell.

A. W. PINK: How solemnly this brings out the world’s estimate of the Christ of God―there is no room for Him in the schools, in society, in the business world, among the great throngs of pleasure seekers, in the political realm, in the newspapers, nor in many of the churches. It is only history repeating itself. All that the world gave the Saviour was a manger, a cross on which to die, and a borrowed grave to receive His murdered body.

C. H. SPURGEON: ‘Ye are not of the world, even as Christ is not of the world,’ John 15:19. Thank God, you need not ask the world’s hospitality. If it will give you but a stage for action, and lend you for an hour a grave to sleep in, ’tis all you need; you will require no permanent dwelling-place here, since you seek a city that is to come, which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

 

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Angelic Messengers

Genesis 16:7-12

And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. And he said, Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go?

And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai.

And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands…

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Here is the first mention we have in Scripture of an angel’s appearance.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Hagar, being hardly used by her mistress, runs away. She is met by an angel, and counselled to return to her mistress…Angels are in a peculiar sense the attendants and messengers of the Almighty.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): The word מלאך, malak, means a messenger; and angels are called מלאכים, melakim.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): The Bible teaches us that God uses the angels as the instruments of His will.  How has he done so?  Well, here are some of the ways in which He has done so―First of all, we are told that the law was given to the children of Israel through the medium of the angels. If you want the authority for that, you’ll find it Galatians 3:19, in Acts 7:53, and in Hebrews 2:2―Indeed, in Galatians we are told that the law was “ordained by angels.

JOHN CALVIN: Angels were the messengers of God and His witnesses in publishing the law, that the authority thereof might be firm and stable.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Another function of the angels is make known and to reveal God’s purposes.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Sometimes such are God’s messengers, sent by Him on errands to men, and are interpreters of things to them, as Gabriel was to Daniel (Daniel 8:16; 9:21).

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: We are told about Gabriel that he “stands in the presence of God,” waiting, as it were, to be given a message. And he has been given messages. It was he, you remember, that was given the special message to tell Mary what was to happen to her, and how she was to become the mother to the Son of God…It was he who gave the message to Zacharias―remember that Zacharias was told about the birth of his son, who became known as John the Baptist, through an angel that appeared to him when he was in the temple? God tells His people what He’s going to do, and His purposes, through angels…And, of course, we have this crucial statement in that last verse of the first chapter of Hebrews, where they are described as “ministering spirits”―“Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

MATTHEW HENRY: They are employed by the Redeemer as His messengers, and they go cheerfully on His errands, because they are His Father’s humble servants, and His children’s hearty friends and well-wishers.

JOHN GILL: And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip,” Acts 8:26. This angel was one of the ministering spirits sent forth by Christ, to serve a gracious purpose of His, and for the good of one of the heirs of salvation.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): How ready are the holy angels to serve the saints, rejoicing more in their names of office than of honour, of employment than preferment―so those heavenly courtiers rejoice rather to be styled angels―that is, “messengers,” and “ministering spirits,” than thrones, principalities, powers.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Do you remember how God revealed His will to Abraham His purpose with regard to Sodom and Gomorrah through angels? Read it in Genesis 18. Do you remember how He revealed His will to Jacob more than once through the medium of angels? Do you remember how He told Gideon what he’d got to do and what God purposed through an angel?

ADAM CLARKE: An angel appears to the wife of Manoah, foretells the birth of her son, and gives her directions how to treat both herself and her child, who was to be a deliverer of Israel. She informs her husband [and] Manoah prays that the Angel may reappear; he is heard, and the Angel appears to him and his wife, and repeats his former directions concerning the mother and the child, Judges 13:2-14.

ROBERT HAWKER (1753-1827): Angels―and it should seem a multitude, though one only came forward to the shepherds to be the speaker―came from heaven to proclaim the wonders of Christ’s birth, Luke 2:8-14.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): This publication of His birth is made by an angel, but whether the angel Gabriel before mentioned, or another, is not certain.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Let me remind you also how it was an angel that told Joseph that he needn’t worry about the condition of his espoused wife Mary; it was an angel that told him to flee to Egypt; it was an angel that told him to come out of Egypt―all along this intimation was given through the medium of an angel.

ADAM CLARKE: See the case of Cornelius, Acts 10:3―an angel appears to Cornelius, a centurion, and directs him to send to Joppa, for Peter, to instruct him in the way of salvation.

MATTHEW HENRY: The orders are given him from heaven, by the ministry of an angel, to send for Peter to come to him, which he would never have done if he had not been thus directed to do it…How far God may now, in an invisible way, make use of the ministration of angels, for extricating His people out of their straits, we cannot say; but this we are sure of, they are all ministering spirits for their good.

JOHN CALVIN: Though the angels are not nigh us, or at least do not appear to us in a visible form, yet God can by other means afford us help when there is any perplexity in His Word: He promises to give us the spirit of understanding and wisdom, whenever there is need.

MATTHEW HENRY: Though angels were not employed to preach the gospel, they were often employed in carrying messages to ministers for advice and encouragement. We cannot now expect such guides in our way; but doubtless there is a special providence of God conversant about the removes and settlements of ministers, and one way or other He will direct those who sincerely desire to follow Him.

JOHN CALVIN: If any man object, that angels come not down daily from heaven to reveal unto us what we ought to do, the answer if ready, that we are sufficiently taught in the Word of God what we ought to do, and that they are never destitute of the counsel who ask it of Him, and submit themselves to the government of the Spirit.

 

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