And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.
JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Grace is both a grace, and a vessel to receive grace.
JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): The Lord leads all His people effectually and savingly to the knowledge of the same essential truths, but in such a variety of methods, that it will be needful in this discussion to set aside, as much as possible, such things as may be only personal and occasional in the experience of each, and to collect those only which in a greater or lesser degree are common to them all.
ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): The kingdom of God, which is generated in the soul by the Word of life, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, is first very small; there is only a blade, but this is full of promise, for a good blade shows there is a good seed at bottom, and that the soil in which it is sown is good also.
JOHN NEWTON: He may be a believer thus far: he believes the word of God, sees and feels things to be as they are there described, hates and avoids sin, because he knows it is displeasing to God, and contrary to His goodness: he receives the record which God has given of His Son; he has his heart affected and drawn to Jesus by views of His glory, and of His love to poor sinners; he ventures upon His name and promises as its only encouragement to come to a Throne of Grace; he waits diligently in the use of all means appointed for the communion and growth of grace; he loves the Lord’s people, accounts them the excellent of the earth, and delights in their conversation. He is longing, waiting, and praying, for a share in those blessings which he believes they enjoy, and can be satisfied with nothing less. He is convinced of the power of Jesus to save him; but, through remaining ignorance and legality, the remembrance of sins previously committed, and the sense of present corruption, he often questions His willingness; and, not knowing the aboundings of grace, and the security of the promises, he fears lest the compassionate Saviour should spurn him from his feet.
ROBERT BOLTON (1572-1631): That faith which is never assaulted with doubting is but a fancy. Assuredly that assurance which is ever secure is but a dream.
J. C. PHILPOT (1802-1869): You may not perhaps, for the most part, enjoy a strong or clear assurance of your interest in Christ; you may be frequently much exercised whether you are a child of God; and yet you may at times have had a sweet testimony that grace is in your heart.
WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): “A bruised reed will He not break, and the smoking flax will He not quench,” Matthew 12:20. He gathers the lambs with His arm, and carries them in His bosom. He affords to young converts some peculiar encouragements to allure them on, till they have advanced too far to think of going back, whatever they meet with.
JOHN NEWTON: While he is thus young in the knowledge of the Gospel, burdened with sin, and perhaps beset with Satan’s temptations, the Lord, “who gathers the lambs in his arms, and carries them in his bosom,” is pleased at times to favour him with cordials, that he may not be swallowed up with over-much sorrow. Perhaps his heart is enlarged in prayer, or under hearing [a sermon], or some good promise is brought home to His mind, and applied with power and sweetness.
SAMUEL MARTIN (1802-1850): So God deals with us in our spiritual childhood, and the weakness of our faith.
JOHN NEWTON: But he mistakes the nature and design of these comforts, which are not given him to rest in, but to encourage him to press forward. He thinks he is then right because he has them, and fondly hopes to have them always. Then his mountain stands strong. But before long he feels a change: his comforts are withdrawn; he finds no heart to pray; no attention in hearing; indwelling sin revives with fresh strength, and perhaps Satan returns with redoubled rage. Then he is at his wits’ end; thinks his hopes were presumptuous, and his comforts delusions.
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Up, poor soul! If Satan is trying to tear thee, tell him it is written, “He is able to save to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by him;” that “whosoever cometh he will in no wise cast out,” Hebrews 7:25; John 6:37. And it may be that thus God will deliver thee from that desperate conflict into which, as a coming sinner, thou hast been cast.
JAMES DURHAM (1622-1658): Have they little grace? Is it scarce smoking? He is not a rigid taskmaster, like to the Egyptians, nay, nor like to the law. He quenches not the smoking flax. Are they staggering because of apprehended or real weakness, and their hearts shaking like the trees in the wood, or rather, like so many straws?
PHILIP MELANCTHON (1497-1560): Contemplate the Son of God on the right hand of His Father, as a powerful Mediator who intercedes for us; and He asks you to be assured that your sins are forgiven, and that you are accounted righteous, and received by the Father for the sake of His Son, offered as a victim on the cross.
RICHARD SIBBES (1577-1635): Faith may be as “a grain of mustard seed.” Matthew 17:20. Nothing so little as grace at first, and nothing more glorious afterward.
WILLIAM JAY: A spark is fire, and a little grace is grace, and perfectly distinguishable from mere nature.
RICHARD SIBBES: Let us not therefore be discouraged at the small beginnings of grace, but look on ourselves as elected to be “holy and without blame,” Ephesians 1:4. In case of discouragement, we must consider ourselves as Christ does, who looks on us as those He intends to fit for Himself. Christ values us by what we shall be, and by what we are elected unto. We call a little plant a tree, because it is growing up to be so. “Who has despised the day of small things?” Zechariah 4:10. Christ would not have us despise little things—a pearl, though little, yet is of much esteem…Christ, we see, ever cherishes even the least beginnings.
JOHN NEWTON: By these changing dispensations, the Lord is training him up, and bringing him forward. He receives grace from Jesus, whereby he is enabled to fight against sin: his conscience is tender, his troubles are chiefly spiritual troubles; and he thinks, if he could but attain a sure and abiding sense of his acceptance in the Beloved, hardly any outward trial would be capable of giving him much disturbance.
WILLIAM JAY: Remember one thing: be simple, and receive the kingdom of God as a little child, not only as to its doctrines, but as to its invitations and promises. The writer one day attended the dying-bed of a young female. “I have little,” said she, “to relate as to my experience. I have been much tried and tempted, but this is my sheet-anchor: He has said, “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.” I know I come to Him, and I expect that He will be as good as His Word.
STEPHEN CHARNOCK (1628-1680): Assurance is the fruit that grows out of the root of faith.