The Spirit of Adoption, Grace, & Supplications

Zechariah 12:10; Galatians 4:4-7; Romans 8:15
       And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and supplications.
       God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
       For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

ROWLAND HILL (1744-1833): Prayer is the breath of the newborn soul, and there can be no Christian life without it.

JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688): None of God’s people come into the world still-born.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): The moment they believe, they are sons; and because they are sons, God sendeth forth the Spirit of his Son into their hearts, crying, “Abba, Father.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Praying is not a lesson got by forms and rules of art, but flowing from principles of new life itself.

THOMAS BOSTON (1676-1732): The supernatural instinct of praying is found in all that are born of God, Galatians 4:6. It is as natural for them to fall a praying when the grace of God has touched their hearts, as for children when they are born into the world to cry, or to desire the breasts.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Praying is here called crying, which is not only an earnest, but a natural expression of desire; children that cannot speak vent their desires by crying.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): It has been remarked that slaves were not permitted to use the term Abba, father, or Imma, mother, in accosting their masters and mistresses―and from this some suppose that the apostle intimates that being now brought from under the spirit of bondage, in which they durst not call God their Father, they are not only brought into a new state, but have got that language which is peculiar to that state. It is certain that no man who has not redemption in the blood of the cross has any right to call God Father.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): The word Abba is an Hebrew, or rather a Syriac or Chaldee word, signifying “father;” and which is added for explanation sake; and its repetition may denote the vehemency of filial affection, the strength of faith and confidence as to interest in the relation; and being expressed both in Hebrew and Greek, may show that God is the Father both of Jews and Gentiles, and that there is but one Father of all.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): To my mind, the word “Abba” is of all words in all languages the most natural word for father. I must try and pronounce it so that you see the natural childishness of it, “Ab—ba, Ab—ba.” Is it not just what your children say, ab, ab, ba, ba, as soon as they try to talk? It is the sort of word which any child would say, whether Hebrew, or Greek, or French, or English. Therefore, Abba is a word worthy of introduction into all languages. It is truly a child’s word.

MATTHEW HENRY: It denotes an affectionate endearing importunity, and a believing stress laid upon the relation. Little children, begging of their parents, can say little but “Father, Father,” and that is rhetoric enough.

C. H. SPURGEON: I think this sweet word “Abba” was chosen to show us that we are to be very natural with God, and not stilted and formal. We are to be very affectionate, and come close to Him, and not merely say “Pater,” which is a cold Greek word, but say “Abba,” which is a warm, natural, loving word, fit for one who is a little child with God, and makes bold to lie in His bosom, and look up into His face and talk with holy boldness. “Abba” is not a word, somehow, but a babe’s lisping. Oh, how near we are to God when we can use such a speech! How dear He is to us and dear we are to Him when we may thus address Him, saying, like the great Son himself, “Abba, Father,” Mark 14:36.

MATTHEW HENRY: Now, the Spirit teaches us in prayer to come to God as a Father, with a holy humble confidence, emboldening the soul in that duty.

JONATHAN EDWARDS (1703-1758): The truly godly have the spirit of adoption, the spirit of a child, to which it is natural to go to God and call upon Him, crying to Him as to a Father. But hypocrites have nothing of this spirit of adoption. They do not have the spirit of children; for this is a gracious and holy spirit, given only in a real work of regeneration. Therefore it is often mentioned as a part of the distinguishing character of the godly that they call upon God…It is natural to one who is truly born from above to pray to God, and to pour out his soul in holy supplications before his heavenly Father. This is as natural to the new nature and life as breathing is to the nature and life of the body.

ADAM CLARKE: Prayer is the language of the children of God. He who is begotten of God speaks this language. He calls God “Abba, Father,” in the true spirit of supplication.

R. C. CHAPMAN (1803-1902): Every child of God prays.

JONATHAN EDWARDS: But hypocrites do not have this new nature…The spirit of a true convert is a spirit of true love to God, and that naturally inclines the soul to those duties wherein it is conversant with God, and makes it delight in approaching God. But a hypocrite has no such spirit. He is left under the reigning power of enmity against God, which naturally inclines him to shun the presence of God.

ROWLAND HILL: In all the avocations of time, the child of God will never lose sight of his heavenly Father. I have often seen a little child following his parent in the fields, and stooping now and then to gather a few flowers. He looks up and sees him at a distance; the little creature runs and gets up to him again, afraid he should go too far away. So the Christian, while gathering a few flowers from the world, suffers his God to be often a distance from him; but the instant he perceives that he is left alone, he runs to reach again his Father, Protector, and Friend.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): None of God’s children, as one observes, come into the world still-born; prayer is the very breath of a new creature; and therefore, if we are prayerless, we are Christless; if we never had the spirit of supplication, it is a sad sign that we never had the spirit of grace in our souls; and you may be assured that you never did pray, unless you have felt yourselves sinners, and seen the want of Jesus to be your Saviour.

 

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The Proper Dress Code for Attendance at the Lord’s Supper

Matthew 22:11-12
       And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment. And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness.

BENJAMIN KEACH (1640-1704): The garment of salvation is Christ’s righteousness.

WILLIAM PERKINS (1558-1602): The most comely garment that ever we can wear is the robe of Christ’s righteousness.

BROWNLOW NORTH (1810-1875): There are two righteousnesses in which a man can stand before God in judgment, and two only. The one is his own righteousness, and the other is Christ’s righteousness; and he must choose which of these two it shall be. It must be wholly the one, however, or wholly the other; for we cannot stand partly in the one and partly in the other.

THOMAS WILCOX (1622-1687): Poor ragged nature, with all its highest improvements, can never spin a garment fine enough―without spot―to cover the soul’s nakedness. Nothing can do it but Christ’s perfect righteousness.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): If there is to be in our celestial garment but one stitch of our own making we are all of us lost.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags, Isaiah 64:6. Our best duties are so defective, and so far short of the rule, that they are as rags, and so full of sin and corruption cleaving to them that they are as filthy rags.

JOHN BERRIDGE (1716-1793): I would not give a groat for the broadest fig leaves, or the brightest human rags to cover me. A robe I must have, of one whole piece, broad as the law, spotless as the light, and richer than an angel ever wore―the robe of Jesus.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): The true believer builds upon the person and word of Christ as the foundation of his hope; he enters by Him as the only door to the knowledge, communion, and love of God; he feeds on Him by faith in his heart with thanksgiving as the bread of life; he embraces His righteousness as the wedding garment, whereby that alone he expects admission to the marriage-feast of heaven.

BROWNLOW NORTH: The righteousness which is the gift of Christ—that spotless robe, that wedding garment—is like the vesture on which the soldiers cast lots, without seam, and woven throughout, and you cannot rend it.

AUGUSTUS TOPLADY (1713-1758): Oh, beware of coming with one sentiment on your lips and another in your hearts! Take heed of saying with your mouths, “We do not come to this thy table, O Lord, trusting in our own righteousness,” while perhaps you have in reality some secret reserves in favour of that very self-righteousness which you profess to renounce, and are thinking that Christ’s merits alone will not save you unless you add something or other to make it effectual. Oh, be not so deceived! God will not thus be mocked, nor will Christ thus be insulted with impunity.

WILLIAM COWPER (1731-1800): What is all righteousness that men devise,
                                                                              What—but a sordid bargain for the skies?
                                                                             But Christ as soon would abdicate His own,
                                                                        As stoop from heaven to sell the proud a throne.

AUGUSTUS TOPLADY: If you do not wholly depend on Jesus as the Lord your righteousness—if you mix your faith in Him with anything else—if the finished work of the crucified God be not alone your acknowledged anchor and foundation of acceptance with the Father, both here and ever—come to His table and receive the symbols of His body and blood at your peril! Leave your own righteousness behind you, or you have no business here.

J. C. RYLE: Self-righteous people, who think that they are to be saved by their own works, have no business to come to the Lord’s Table…They may be outwardly correct, moral and respectable in their lives, but so long as they trust in their own goodness for salvation, they are entirely in the wrong place at the Lord’s Supper. For what do we declare at the Lord’s Supper? We publicly profess that we have no goodness, righteousness, or worthiness of our own, and that all our hope is in Christ. We publicly profess Christ’s merit and not ours, Christ’s righteousness and not ours, is alone the cause why we look for acceptance with God. Now what has a self-righteous man to do with an ordinance like this? Clearly nothing at all.

BROWNLOW NORTH: If you appear before God in your own righteousness, and that righteousness is one whit less perfect than the righteousness which God at such a cost to Himself has offered to you; if God, the righteous Judge, is able to detect the least difference between your righteousness and Christ’s, you will surely meet the fate of him who came to the marriage supper without a wedding garment, and be cast into outer darkness, where there is weeping and wailing, and gnashing of teeth.

MATTHEW HENRY: The day is coming when hypocrites will be stripped of their fig-leaves.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): It is a cobweb garment that will be rent away at the last day. I beseech you lay it aside, and remember that the truth with which you have to do is this, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” If you believe, you are saved. If you trust Christ, be you who you may, or what you may, the wide world over, you are a saved man…The true saint wears the wedding garment, but he owns that the Lord of the feast provided it for him, without money and without price.

JAMES DURHAM (1622-1658): It is in a word, by faith, according to the apostle Paul in Philippians 3:8-10, “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung. ” And he explains what that means in the next words, “That I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is according to the law, but the righteousness of God, which is by the faith of him.”

RALPH ERSKINE (1685-1752): Can you say, you count all but loss and dung that you may win Christ, and be found in Him; so that you care not what be cast overboard, if you but get to that shore, even Christ and His righteousness? Then welcome are you to the table of the Lord; I invite you in His glorious name.

 

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The Mystery of Melchizedek Part 2: Jesus, the Eternal Priest & King

Psalm 110:1,4; Hebrews 7:4-8
       The LORD saith unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool…The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
       Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even Abraham the patriarch, gave the tenth of the spoils. And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham: but he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better. And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Now Abraham was a person of very high dignity, both naturally and spiritually. Naturally he was the founder of the Jewish nation; spiritually he was the “father” of all believers, Romans 4. In his person was concentrated all the sacred dignity belonging to the people of God…Abraham was not only the root and stock of the Israelitish people, but he was the one who first received the promise of the covenant (Genesis 15:8).

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Seeing that the holy patriarch, whom God had raised to the highest rank of honour, submitted himself to Melchizedek, it is not to be doubted that God had constituted him the only head of the whole Church; for, without controversy, the solemn act of benediction, which Melchizidek assumed to himself, was the symbol of pre-eminent dignity.

A. W. PINK: Three proofs of the eminence of Melchizedek are found in the verse before us. First in the nomination of the person that was subject unto him: “even Abraham.” Second, in the dignity of Abraham; “the patriarch.” Third, in that Abraham gave him a tenth of the spoils. How “great” then must be Melchizedek, seeing that Abraham himself owned his official superiority!

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): It was his place and privilege to bless Abraham; and it is an uncontested maxim that “the less is blessed of the greater.” He who gives the blessing is greater than he who receives it.

JOHN CALVIN: If any one replies that Melchizedek did this as a priest, I ask, was not Abram also a priest? Therefore God here commends to us something peculiar in Melchizedek, in preferring him before the father of the faithful.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Melchizedek’s office was exceptional: none preceded or succeeded him; he comes upon the page of history mysteriously; no pedigree is given, no date of birth, or mention of death; he blesses Abraham, receives tithes, and vanishes from the scene amid honours which show that he was greater than the founder of the chosen nation.

JOHN CALVIN: No one has arisen except Christ, who equalled Melchizedek in dignity, still less who excelled him; we hence infer that the image of Christ was presented to the fathers, in his person…These are the words of David, “The LORD sware, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” First, he had placed him on a royal throne, and now he gives Him the honour of the priesthood. But under the Law, these two offices were so distinct, that it was unlawful for kings to usurp the office of the priesthood. Moreover, we never find that king and priest, who is to be pre-eminent over all, till we come to Christ.

C. H. SPURGEON: God would have no priest-king save His Son.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): The glory of both those crowns shall abide on Him. The peace made for God’s people shall rest upon these two, the kingly and priestly office of Christ. He shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both, Zechariah 6:13.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): He is both Priest and King, and exercises both offices at one and the same time, and even now in heaven; having offered Himself as a sacrifice on earth, by which He has put away sin for ever, and perfected His people; He is set down upon his throne, as a King crowned with glory and honour; and ever lives as a Priest the throne, to make intercession for them; by appearing in the presence of God for them.

JOHN CALVIN: It is also to be observed, that Christ is called an eternal King, like Melchizedek. For since the Scripture, by assigning no end to his life, leaves Melchizedek as if he were to survive through all ages; it certainly represents or shadows forth to us, in his person, a figure, not of a temporal, but of an eternal kingdom.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): In these respects he was like to Jesus Christ, who, as to His Godhead, had neither father nor mother, beginning of time nor end of days; and has an everlasting priesthood.

MATTHEW HENRY: This Melchisedek was “made like unto the Son of God, and abideth a priest continually,” Hebrews 7:3. He bore the image of God in his piety and authority, and stands upon record as an immortal high priest; the ancient type of Him who is the eternal and only-begotten of the Father, who abideth a priest for ever.

A. W. PINK: How minutely accurate, then, how Divinely perfect was the type!

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Melchizedek was a king and a priest. Christ was more, a priest, a prophet, and a king. These offices have met double in some others; as Melchizedek was king and priest, Samuel a priest and a prophet, David a king and a prophet; but never met all three in any but Christ alone.*

JOHN CALVIN: The sum of the whole is, that Christ would thus be the king next to God, and also that He should be anointed priest, and that for ever; which it is very useful for us to know, in order that we may learn that the royal power of Christ is combined with the office of priest. The same Person, therefore, who was constituted the only and eternal Priest, in order that He might reconcile us to God, and Who, having made expiation, might intercede for us, is also a King of infinite power to secure our salvation, and to protect us by His guardian care. Hence it follows, that, relying on His advocacy, we may stand boldly in the presence of God, Who will, we are assured, be propitious to us; and that trusting in His invincible arm, we may securely triumph over enemies of every kind.
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*Editor’s Note: John Trapp failed to notice that Melchizedek was not only a king and a priest, but also a personal prophetic type, and thus all three offices of Christ really were typified in him, making Melchizedek indeed “the most illustrious figure of Christ.”

 

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The Mystery of Melchizedek Part 1: Who was Melchizedek?

Genesis 14:18-20; Hebrews 7:1-3; John 8:14
       And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was priest of God Most High. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth: and blessed be God Most High, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand.
       This Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of God Most High, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him, to whom also Abraham divided a tenth part of all (being first, by interpretation, King of righteousness, and then also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like unto the Son of God), abideth a priest continually.
       Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): The great question that first offers itself is, Who was this Melchizedek? All the account we have of him in the Old Testament is in Genesis 14 and in Psalm 110.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): Many Christian writers have thought that this was an appearance of the Son of God Himself, our Lord Jesus. But as nothing is expressly revealed concerning it, we can determine nothing.

MATTHEW HENRY: The most commonly received opinion is that Melchizedek was a Canaanitish prince, that reigned in Salem, and kept up the true religion there; but, if so, why his name should occur here only in all the story of Abram, and why Abram should have altars of his own and not attend the altars of his neighbour Melchizedek who was greater than he, seem unaccountable.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): There is something exceedingly mysterious in the person and character of this king of Salem; and to find out the whole is impossible.

MATTHEW HENRY: Indeed we are much in the dark about him; God has thought fit to leave us so, that this Melchizedek might be a more lively type of Him whose generation none can declare―Jesus Christ Himself, appearing by a special dispensation and privilege to Abraham in the flesh, and who was known to Abraham by the name Melchizedek, which agrees very well to Christ, and to what is said, John 8:56, “Abraham saw his day and rejoiced.” Much may be said for this opinion, and what is said in Hebrews 7 does not seem to agree with any mere man; but then it seems strange to make Christ a type of Himself.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Melchisedek seems to have been, first by name, and then by place of office, doubly designated a king…A teaching was intended by the Holy Spirit in the names.

ADAM CLARKE: Melchizedek is called here king of Salem, and the most judicious interpreters allow that by Salem, Jerusalem is meant. That it bore this name anciently is evident from Psalm 76:1 & 2: “In Judah is God known; his name is great in Israel. In Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion.”

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Melchizedek means “king of righteousness” and Salem “king of peace.” But observe it well that the Holy spirit has also emphasized the order of these two: “first” king of righteousness, “after that also” king of peace.” This calls attention to another important and blessed detail in our type. Doubtless, the historical Melchizedek was both a righteous and peaceable king, but what the apostle here takes up is not the personal characteristics of this man, but how he represented Christ in His mediatorial office and work.
      Now the “King of righteousness” and “of peace” is the Author, Cause, and Dispenser of righteousness and peace. Christ is the Maker and Giver of peace because He is “the Lord our righteousness,” Jeremiah 23:6. Righteousness must go first, and then peace will follow after. This is the uniform order of Scripture wherever the two are mentioned together: peace never precedes righteousness. Mark well the following passages: “Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; that glory may dwell in our land. Mercy and truth are met together: righteousness and peace have kissed,” Psalm 85:9,10; “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever,” Isaiah 32:17; “In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth,” Psalm 72:7.

ROBERT HALDANE (1764-1842): The omission of the genealogy of Melchisedek, of his birth, and of his death, denoting the eternity of Jesus Christ, proves how much even the silence of Scripture is instructive.

A. W. PINK: No detail in Scripture is meaningless…This silence was a part of the type.

MATTHEW HENRY: It is difficult to imagine that any mere man should be said to be “without father, without mother, and without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life,” Hebrews 7:3. It is witnessed of Melchizedek that he liveth, and that he abideth a priest continually.

ADAM CLARKE: Christ, as to His Divine nature, is without father or mother, and without beginning of days; nor can He have any end. Other priests could not continue by reason of death; but He is the Eternal, He cannot die, and therefore can have no successor: “He is a priest for ever,” Psalm 110:4. Therefore, as Melchizedek was a priest and a king, and had no successor, so shall Christ be: of the increase and government of His kingdom there shall be no end. Melchizedek was priest of the Most High God; and consequently not of one people or nation, but of the universe―Jesus is priest of all mankind, and for ever. He tasted death for every man; He is the King eternal; He has the keys of hell and of death. As God is the King and Governor of all human beings, Christ, being the priest of the Most High God, must also be the priest for and over all whom this most high God made and governs; and therefore He is the priest, the atoning sacrifice, of the whole human race. In this the main similitude consists between the “order of Melchizedek,” Psalm 110:4, and that of Christ.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): The signification of his name, a title of office, King of righteousness, and King of peace, agrees with Christ the Lord, our righteousness and our peace: his being without father, mother, descent, beginning of days, and end of life, agree with the divinity, humanity, and eternity of Christ; and Who is likewise King and Priest, as he was; and Who blesses his people, as he did Abraham; and refreshes them with bread and wine, as he did Abraham’s soldiers―in this Melchizedek was a type of Christ, Who comforts and refreshes His hungry and weary people with Himself, the bread of life, and with the wine of His love.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): Look, therefore, always for Christ in the Scripture. He is the treasure hid in the field, both of the Old and New Testament…Have Christ, then, always in view, when you are reading the Word of God, and this, like the star in the east, will guide you to the Messiah, will serve as a key to everything that is obscure, and unlock to you the wisdom and riches of all the mysteries of the kingdom of God.

 

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Orderly, Systematic & Profitable Bible Reading

Deuteronomy 32:46; Acts 8:30
       Set your heart unto all the words which I testify among you this day.
       Understandest thou what thou readest?

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): Set your heart to read all these words.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Our approach to the Bible is something which is of vital importance…We should not read the Scriptures merely in order that we may say that we have read our daily portion, and so have done our duty.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Some read it traditionally, because their parents and grandparents read a portion each day.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: That is no reason for reading the Scriptures. The devil will encourage people to read the Bible, as long as he can encourage them to read it very superficially at the same time. As long as they’ve read their little daily portion, and feel all is well whether they’ve understood it or not, the devil is really very happy. They say, “I’ve read my Scriptures; I know my Scriptures.” But they don’t know the truth. It’s the truth alone, it’s this understanding, it’s getting down to the doctrine, digging down to the depths!

WILLIAM JAY: Set your heart to understand all these words. “Let him that readeth understand,” Mark 13:14. Without this, the perusal will be little more than a mere mechanical exercise.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Read all the Bible, and read it in an orderly way. I fear there are many parts of the Word which some people never read at all. This is to say the least, a very presumptuous habit. “All Scripture is profitable,” 2 Timothy 3:16. To this habit may be traced that want of broad, well-proportioned views of truth, which is so common in this day.

GEORGE MÜLLER (1805-1898): Leaving out some chapters here and there is practically saying, that certain portions are better than others; or, that there are certain parts of revealed truth are unprofitable or unnecessary

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Is there any part of what the Lord has written which you have never read? I was struck with my brother Archibald Brown’s observation that he bethought himself that unless he read the Scriptures through from one end to the other end there might be inspired teachings which had never been known to him, and so he resolved to read the books in their order; and, having done so once, he continued the habit. Have we, any of us, omitted to do this?

J. C. RYLE: Some people’s Bible-reading is a system of perpetual dipping and picking. They do not seem to have an idea of regularly going through the whole book.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): I know not a better rule of reading the Scripture, than to read it through from beginning to end; and, when we have finished it once, to begin it again. We shall meet with many passages which we can make little improvement of, but not so many in second reading as in the first, and fewer in the third than in the second: provided we pray to Him who has the keys to open our understandings, and to anoint our eyes with His spiritual ointment. The course of reading today will prepare some lights for what we shall read tomorrow, and throw a farther light upon what we read yesterday. Experience only can prove the advantage of this method, if steadily persevered in.

GEORGE MÜLLER: It is of immense importance for the understanding of the Word of God, to read it in course, so that we may read every day a portion of the Old and a portion of the New Testament, going on where we previously left off. This is important because it throws light upon the connection; and a different course, according to which one habitually selects particular chapters, will make it utterly impossible to ever understand much of the Scriptures…It may keep us, by the blessing of God, from erroneous views, as in reading thus regularly through the Scriptures we are led to see the meaning of the whole, and also kept from laying too much stress upon certain favourite views.

J. C. RYLE: No doubt in times of sickness and affliction it is allowable to search out seasonable portions. But with this exception, I believe it is by far the best plan to begin the Old and New Testaments at the same time―to read each straight through to the end, and then begin again. This is a matter in which every one must be persuaded in his own mind. I can only say it has been my own plan for nearly forty years, and I have never seen cause to alter it.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: I am a great advocate of schemes of Bible reading, but we have to be careful that in our use of such schemes we are not content just to read the portion for the day and then to rush off without thought and meditation. That can be quite profitless…I am not attacking systematic reading―All I am saying is that you should be careful that the devil in his wiliness does not come in and make you content with a mere mechanical reading of the Scriptures without really looking at them, and meditation upon them, and without realizing what they are saying, and without drawing lessons for yourself, and praying about the exercise. It takes time to read Scripture properly. It is very easy to read a number of verses and rush off to catch your bus or train. That is not reading the Scriptures; that may be quite useless. You must stop and look and think.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): It is a lamentable thing that most people have either so much or so little to do, that they can never find time to look into the Scriptures to any purpose.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: I’m always afraid to say a thing like this, but there is an awful danger in these mechanical schemes of Bible study; that you just rush through it, you’ve done your portion. My friend, does the Bible speak to you every day? If it doesn’t, I’m inclined to suggest you drop your schemes for a moment, and just take a verse and begin to think about it, and ask it, ‘What is it you’re saying to me?” We are not meant to rush through the Bible a given number of times in a year, or however often you do it. The Bible is the Word of God, it’s the food of the soul, it’s the Spirit’s message to you.

THOMAS ADAM (1701-1784): Perhaps it may be a good rule in the reading of Scripture, not to run from one passage to another, or suppose it a duty to read a certain portion of it every day, but to dwell upon particular passages, till they have in some measure done their office.

GEORGE MÜLLER: What is the food for the inner man?—not the simple reading of the Word of God, so that it only passes through our minds, just as water runs through a pipe. No, we must consider what we read, ponder over it, and apply it to our own hearts.

 

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The Christian Pilgrim

Genesis 47:9
       And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of the my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): Jacob calls his life a pilgrimage.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): A more appropriate term could not be conceived to express the life of Jacob.

OCTAVIUS WINSLOW (1808-1878): The aged saint selects one of the most striking figures with which to depict his own and all life…Let us now see how this character applies to all believers, and ascertain if in any feature it corresponds with us. What are some of the elements, or rather characteristics of the Christian pilgrimage?

ADAM CLARKE: The pilgrim was a person who took a journey, long or short, on some religious account, submitting during the time to many hardships and privations.

OCTAVIUS WINSLOW: It is recorded of the ancient worthies that “they confessed they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth,” Hebrews 11:13. They were not ashamed to acknowledge that this was their character.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): They were “strangers” because their home was in heaven; “pilgrims,” because journeying thither.

OCTAVIUS WINSLOW: In the first place, there is this characteristic: the Christian pilgrim is not at home here in this world. A pilgrim is never supposed to be so; he is travelling to a distant place. If ever this characteristic finds a truthful application, it is in the life of the child of God. He is not at home in this world; he does not feel so, and he is day by day made to realize that he is a stranger here, and that he experiences the heart of a stranger.

J. C. PHILPOT (1802-1869): You feel yourself a stranger in this ungodly world; it is not your element, it is not your home. You are in it during God’s appointed time, but you wander up and down this world a stranger to its company, a stranger to its maxims, a stranger to its motives, a stranger to its lusts, its inclinations, and all in which this world moves as in its native element. Grace has separated you by God’s distinguishing power, that though you are in the world, you are not of it.

OCTAVIUS WINSLOW: Another characteristic of the Christian’s pilgrimage is the life of faith that he lives. This is an essential element of the Christian pilgrimage―a life of faith in God.

R. C. CHAPMAN (1803-1902): It is only as by faith we see our home above, that we are proper pilgrims here.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): This world is not our home, but that is.

JOHN BRADFORD (1510-1555): Dearly beloved, remember that you are not of this world; that Satan is not your captain; that your joy and Paradise are not here; that your companions are not the multitude of worldlings. But ye are of another world, Christ is your Captain; your joy is in heaven; your companions are the fathers, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, virgins, confessors, and dear saints of God, who follow the Lamb withersoever He goeth.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Set not your hearts, say I, on this world’s trash, since better things abide you.

EDWARD PAYSON (1783-1827): The world—O what a bubble—what a trifle it is!

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): The mind of a Christian ought not to be filled with thoughts of earthly things, or find satisfaction in them, for we ought to be living as if we might have to leave this world at any moment.

OCTAVIUS WINSLOW: Another feature or characteristic of the Christian pilgrim is indifference to present objects, scenes, and events. A traveller, passing through a strange city to another and distant place, feels but little or no interest in the affairs of that city, its local administration, and its party strifes…
      We do not think that God would have His people pass blindfolded through life, abjuring their intelligent and observant faculties, taking no note of His administrative government of the world. A true child of God cannot be totally indifferent to the mode by which his heavenly Father conducts His providential government―Beyond this we are to be Christian pilgrims, feeling no more interest or regard for these things than as though they were not. Ah, many a Christian professor merges his religion in his politics, loses the spirituality of his heavenly calling, in the deadening influence of his earthly calling. Beware, as a Christian man, of the politics of the world; beware of a too absorbing interest in worldly scenes; beware, oh, beware, of having the affections, thoughts, and powers of your soul swept onward by the tide of political, commercial, and scientific excitement, which drowns so many souls in perdition. As a believer in Jesus, you are a pilgrim on earth; and you are the citizen of a better, that is, a heavenly country.

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): If his citizenship is in heaven, if his place, his portion, and his home be on high, if he is only a pilgrim and a stranger here below, then it follows that he is not called to meddle in any way with this world’s politics, but to pass on his pilgrim way, patiently submitting himself to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, yielding obedience to the powers that be, and praying for their preservation and well-being in all things.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): I am a stranger, and a pilgrim. My citizenship, my charter, my rights, my treasures, are, I hope, in heaven, and there my heart ought to be…I may be removed—and perhaps suddenly—into the unseen world, where all that causes so much bustle upon earth at present, will be no more to me than the events which took place among the antediluvians—many things which now assume an air of importance, will be found light and insubstantial as the baseless fabric of a vision.

JOHN CALVIN: In what spirit, then, ought we to dwell in a world where no certain repose or fixed abode is promised us?

MATTHEW HENRY: Jacob reckons his life by days; for, even so, it is soon reckoned, and we are not sure of the continuance of it for a day to an end, but may be turned out of this tabernacle at less than an hour’s warning. Let us therefore number our days, Psalm 90:12, and measure them, Psalm 39:4.

OCTAVIUS WINSLOW: Is this characteristic of the Christian pilgrimage ours? Oh, do we feel that earth is but a lodge, a sojourn as for a night?

MATTHEW HENRY: Such is our life: it appears but for a little time, and then vanisheth away, James 4:14; it vanisheth as to this world, but there is a life that will continue in the other world; and, since this life is so uncertain, it concerns us all to prepare and lay up in store for that to come.

MARY WINSLOW (1774-1854): Let us, then, live more for eternity, and less for this poor dying world.

JOHN TRAPP: This should be every man’s pilgrimage in this world.

 

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Female Beauty in its Proper Perspective

Proverbs 11:22
       As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): In Asiatic countries the nose jewel is very common: to this the text alludes.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): It is taken for granted here that beauty or comeliness of body is as a jewel of gold, a thing very valuable, and, where there is wisdom and grace to guard against the temptations of it, it is a great ornament.

WILLIAM ARNOT (1808-1875): Personal beauty is not a thing to be despised: it is a work of God, and none of His works are done in vain…Beauty is a talent, and has a power. Call it, if you will, a power like that of a sharp knife, dangerous in the hands of the weak or the wicked; but still it is a power, the gift of God, and capable of being ranked among the all the things that advance His glory. Like wealth or wisdom, or any other talent, it may be possessed by the humble, and employed for good. If the heart be holy and the aim true, personal beauty will enlarge the sphere and double the resources of beneficence. The same spread full sail may speed the ship on her course, or dash her on the rock of doom. If the beautiful be not also good, beauty becomes an object of disgust and a cause of ruin…When an impure character is clothed in corporeal loveliness, it is the spirit of darkness appearing as an angel of light. A beautiful woman who is proud, flippant, selfish, false, is miserable herself, and dangerous to others. It is a combination to be loathed and shunned.

CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): Let us see things as the Bible shows them to us. If a fair, light-minded young woman should see her own face in this mirror, she might well start aside in horror. Beauty indeed is to be honoured, as the gift of God. Yet in itself, it is a fading vanity, Proverbs 31:30; and without discretion, it is as misplaced, as mis-becoming, as a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout.

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): We must remember that the exhortations of the Holy Ghost on the subject of dress are all addressed to women.

WILLIAM ARNOT: Women who have beauty above the average should be peculiarly watchful on that side, lest they sin and suffer there…The dress should be, in the first place, modest. In pure eyes, nothing is aesthetically beautiful which is morally awry.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): A modest woman is known by the modesty of her attire. If the clothing be vulgar or showy the heart is vain.

MATTHEW HENRY: The outward adorning of the body is very often sensual and excessive; for instance―when you dress with design to allure and tempt others, when your apparel is too rich, curious, or superfluous, when your fashions are fantastical, imitating the levity and vanity of the worst people, and when they are immodest and wanton. The attire of a harlot can never become a chaste Christian.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): What difference is there between the fashion parade and the dog show?

CHARLES BRIDGES: Lightness and fantastic garb in apparel is the very bush or sign hanging out, that tells a vain mind lodges within. The soul fallen from God hath lost its true worth and beauty; and therefore it basely descends to these mean things, to serve and dress the body, and take share with it of its unworthy borrowed ornaments, while it hath lost and forgotten God, and seeks not after Him, knows not that He alone is the beauty and ornament of the soul, and His spirit, and the grace of it, His rich attire. Learn then to value far beyond the beauty of face, the inner “ornaments” of grace, “which are in the sight of God of great price,” I Peter 3:4,5. Many a lovely form enshrines a revolting mind. All the charms of beauty are lost upon a foolish woman.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): She disgraceth the beauty of her body by a foolish and filthy soul.

MATTHEW HENRY: It is lamented that beauty should be so abused as it is by those that have not modesty with it. It seems ill-bestowed on them.

J. R. MILLER (1840-1912): Every woman wants to be beautiful. The secret of true beauty is stated in Proverbs 31:30: “Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain; but a woman that fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” Some women sacrifice everything to win favour, to become popular. This word tells us how worthless, how empty and vain is the world’s favour. Nothing is worth striving for in womanhood, but pure, noble, lovely character. That is gotten only by being a Christian, by loving God and doing His will, and staying near Him all the time.

CHARLES BRIDGES: Let virtue, not beauty, be the primary object.

JAMES PILKINGTON (1520-1576): If women would learn what God will plague them for, and how; let them read the third chapter of the prophet Isaiah. And if they will learn what God willeth them to do, and be occupied withal, though they be of the best sort, let them read the last chapter of the Proverbs. It is enough to note it, and point it out them that will learn.

MATTHEW HENRY: Thus is shut up this looking-glass for ladies, which they are desired to open and dress themselves by; and, if they do so, their adorning will be found to praise, and honour, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ.

 

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Pride: The Popular Preacher’s Peril

I Corinthians 4:7; I Corinthians 5:6
       Who maketh thee to differ from another? And what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?
       Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?

JONATHAN EDWARDS (1703-1758): Spiritual pride. This is the main door by which the devil comes into the hearts of those who are zealous for the advancement of Christ.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): The greatest of all the temptations that assail a preacher is pride.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): They need caution, that have the great presence of God with them as to success, when eminently employed in God’s service. Credit by worldly eminency and esteem falleth in with their services, and secretly insinuates high thoughts of their own excellencies.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): We must not glory if we be extolled unto the skies in the opinion of men, and if by their voices and consents we be judged to be most excellent men.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): It is difficult, I believe, to go through the fiery trial of popularity and applause untainted.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): If opposition has hurt many, popularity has wounded more―It is like walking upon ice. When you shall see an attentive congregation hanging upon your words: when you shall hear the well-meant, but often injudicious commendations, of those to whom the Lord shall make you useful: when you shall find, upon an intimation of your preaching in a strange place, people thronging from all parts to hear you, how will your heart feel? It is easy for me to advise you to be humble, and for you to acknowledge the propriety of the advice; but, while human nature remains in its present state, there will be almost the same connection between popularity and pride, as between fire and gunpowder: they cannot meet without an explosion, at least not unless the gunpowder is kept very damp. So, unless the Lord is constantly moistening our hearts―if I may so speak―by the influences of His Spirit, popularity will soon set us ablaze. You will hardly find a person, who has been exposed to this fiery trial, without suffering loss.

JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688): I have also, while found in this blessed work of Christ, been often tempted to pride and liftings up of heart; and though I dare not say I have not been infected with this, yet truly the Lord, of His precious mercy, hath so carried it towards me, that, for the most part, I have had but small joy to give way to such a thing; for it hath been my every day’s portion to be let into the evil of my own heart, and still made to see such a multitude of corruptions and infirmities therein, that it hath caused hanging down of the head under all my gifts and attainments; I have felt this thorn in the flesh, the very mercy of God to me, 2 Corinthians 12:7-9.

JOHN NEWTON: Sometimes, if His ministers are not watchful against the first impressions of pride, He permits it to gather strength; and then it is but a small thing that a few of their admirers may think them more than men in the pulpit, if they are left to commit such mistakes, when out of it, as the weakest of the flock can discover and pity. And this will certainly be the case, while pride and self-sufficiency have the ascendant.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Pride of gifts. If once, like Hezekiah, we call in spectators to see our treasure and applaud us for our gifts and comfort, then it is high time for God to send some messengers to carry these away from us, which carry our hearts from Him, 2 Chronicles 32:31…Great gifts lift a saint up a little higher in the eyes of men, but it occasions many temptations―envy from their brethren, malice from Satan, and pride in their own hearts, I dare say none find so hard a work to bear up against those waves and winds.

JOHN NEWTON: Beware, my friend, of mistaking the ready exercise of gifts for the exercise of grace. The minister may be assisted in public for the sake of his hearers; and there is something in the nature of our public work, when surrounded by a concourse of people, that is suited to draw forth the exertion of our abilities, and to engage our attention in the outward services, when the frame of the heart may be far from being right in the sight of the Lord. When Moses smote the rock, the water followed; yet he spoke unadvisedly with his lips, and greatly displeased the Lord. However, the congregation was not disappointed for his fault, nor was he put to shame before them; but he was humbled for it afterwards.

THOMAS ADAM (1701-1784): A heart full of pride is but a vessel full of air; this self-opinion must be blown out of us.

WILLIAM GURNALL: Pride of gifts robs us of God’s blessing in the use of them. The humble man may have Satan at his right hand to oppose him; but be sure the proud man shall find God Himself there to resist him, whenever he goes about any duty. God proclaims so much, and would have the proud man know that He will oppose him; He “resisteth the proud,” James 5:6. Great gifts are beautiful as Rachel, but pride makes them also barren like her. Either we must lay self aside, or God will lay us aside.

D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): There are many people who start out with idea that they are great and other people are small, and they are going to bring them up on the high level with themselves. God never yet used a man of that stamp.

WILLIAM GURNALL: While thou art priding in thy gifts, thou art dwindling and withering in thy grace. Such are like corn that runs up much into straw, whose ear commonly is light and thin. Grace is too much neglected where gifts are too highly prized…Art thou humble under the assistance and strength God hath given thee? Pride stops the conduit. If the heart begin to swell, it is time for God to hold His hand, and turn the cock, for all that is poured on such a soul runs over into self-applauding, and so is as water spilt, in regard of any good it doth the creature, or any glory it brings to God.

THOMAS CHALMERS (1780-1847): Guard against that vanity which courts a compliment, or is fed by it.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): The success of the ministry must be derived from the divine blessing: Neither he that planteth is any thing, nor he that watereth, but God who giveth the increase, I Corinthians 3:7. Even apostolic ministers are nothing of themselves, and can do nothing with efficacy and success unless God give the increase. The best qualified and most faithful ministers have a just sense of their own insufficiency, and are very desirous that God should have all the glory of their success.

AMY CARMICHAEL (1867-1951): Those who think too much of themselves don’t think enough.

 

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The Reality of the Existence of Satan, the Devil of the Bible

Job 1:6,7
       Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.
       And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou?
       Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and for in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): I am certain that one of the main causes of the ill state of the Church today is the fact that the devil is being forgotten. All is attributed to us; we have all become so psychological in our attitude and thinking. We are ignorant of this great objective fact—the being, the existence of the devil.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Is the Devil a living reality, or is he nothing more than a figment of the imagination? Is the word “Satan” merely a synonym for wickedness, or does it stand for a concrete entity?
      In cultured circles it has become the custom to return a negative answer to these questions, and to flatly deny the existence of the Tempter. Among such people it is regarded as a mark of intellectual superiority to repudiate the personality of the Devil. By many, Satan is now looked upon as a product of priestcraft, a relic of superstition, the myth of a bygone age. With others, Satan is simply an abstraction, a mere negation, the opposite of good. “All the Devil there is, is the devil within you,” is the last word of “modern thought.” The words which Goethe puts into the mouth of Mephistopholes—“I am the Spirit of Negation”—is accepted as a good workable definition of the Devil. He is regarded as a mere abstract principle of evil. As someone has quaintly put it, “They spell Devil without a ‘d’, as they spell God with two ‘o’s’. Good and evil is their scheme.”

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Away with the silly thought!―It is he, who is continually going to the ears of intellectual and highly educated people, persuading them that the old Bible is not true, and advising them to be content with Atheism, Agnosticism, Secularism, and a general contempt for the world to come.

A. W. PINK: But the more general conception of Satan is different from the above. The popular idea, the one that prevails among the masses, may be gathered from the pictorial representations of him which appear on the street posters, which are to be met with in our illustrated magazines, and which are displayed upon the stage—where he is pictured as a grotesque monster in human form, having horns, hoofs and forked tail. Such a conception is an insult to intelligent people, and in consequence, the Devil has come to be regarded either as a bogey with which to frighten naughty children, or as a fit subject for jest and joke.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: So at this point we must assert our faith. We shall be regarded as fools. Any man who believes in the devil today is regarded as almost unintelligent, yet if you believe the Bible you must believe in [the existence] of this tremendous person and his awful power.

A. W. PINK: Thirty-five times [in the Bible] he is denominated “The Devil,” which means “The Accuser” or “Slanderer”—accusing the saints before God and traducing the character of God before men. Fifty-two times he is called “Satan,” which means “Enemy” or “Adversary.” He is God’s enemy and man’s adversary. “Satan” refers to his character: the malignant Adversary of all good—in God or His creatures. “Devil” refers to his mode of carrying out his evil designs: by lying slanders, false accusations, evil traducings.
      He is termed “The Prince of this world,” John 14:30, which defines his position in relation to our earth. He is named “Beelzebub,” Matthew 12:27, which regards him as the head of the demons. He is spoken of as the “Wicked One,” Matthew 13:19 which refers to him as the prime mover of all wickedness. He is styled “Apollyon,” that is “Destroyer,” Revelation 9:11, which links him with the Bottomless Pit. He is referred to as “The Prince of the power of the air,” Ephesians 2:2, which points to his present home and sphere of operations—cf. Ephesians 6:12. He is termed “Lucifer” which means “Morning Star,” Isaiah 14:12, a title which seems to have belonged to him before his apostasy. He is called “The god of this world,” 2 Corinthians 4:4, because he is the inspirer and director of all spurious religion. He is termed “Liar, and the father of it,” John 8:44, because he is the inveterate opposer of the truth. These and other titles of Satan are meaningless unless he is a personal being.

D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): I believe Satan to exist for two reasons: first, the Bible says so; and second, I’ve done business with him.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Those of us who have passed through any spiritual conflicts know that Satan is a terribly real personage.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): The first act of the ministry of Jesus Christ was a combat with Satan.

A. W. PINK: No unbiased mind can read carefully the fourth chapter of Matthew without coming to the conclusion that we have recorded there a real conflict between two persons—our Lord Jesus Christ and Satan…To say, in reply, We admit that Christ there is a real person but that “the Devil” must be regarded as a personification of evil, is blasphemy, for it impugns the character of our blessed Lord. Unlike every fallen son of Adam who is shapen in iniquity and conceived in sin, the Lord Jesus Christ was sinless…He declared, “The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me,” John 14:30. As then there was no evil in our blessed Saviour, the one who tempted Him must have been external and personal. To deny that Matthew 4 presents Satan as a personal entity is either to traduce our Lord’s character, or, it is to reduce the entire narrative to meaningless jargon. Everything that is said of Satan in this chapter indicates and intimates that he is as real and actual a person as the Lord Jesus Himself. The tempter “came to Him.” He spoke, yea, reasoned and argued. He took Christ up into the holy city. He quoted to Him from the Psalms. He showed Him all the kingdoms of the world. He sought worship from the Saviour. At His word “he departed from Him for a season.” All of which is proof positive—to one that believes in the Divine inspiration of the Scriptures—that Satan is a living person.

J. C. RYLE: Does anyone foolishly suppose that the devil is asleep, or dead, or less mischievous now than in the past? Nothing of the kind! He is still “walking about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour,” 1 Peter 5:8; He is still “going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it,” Job 1:7…It is he, above all, who persuades foolish people that there is no such person as a devil, no future judgment after death, and no hell.

 

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A Christian’s Best Revenge

Ephesians 4:26; Psalm 37:8; Romans 12:19-21
       Be ye angry and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.
       Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.
       Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Revenge is a passion unbecoming the children of God.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you, that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven, Matthew 5:44. This is the most sublime piece of morality ever given to man. Has it appeared unreasonable and absurd to some? It has. And why? Because it is natural to man to avenge himself, and plague those who plague him; and he will ever find abundant excuse for his conduct, in the repeated evils he receives from others; for men are naturally hostile to each other.

WILLIAM BUELL SPRAGUE (1795-1876): Look at the revengeful man. He has received, or supposes he has received, some injury; and he imagines that his honour is tarnished; and he cannot rest till he has made provision to brighten it up by some revengeful act—perhaps by attacking his adversary in the street—perhaps by calling him into the field, in the hope of shedding his blood. Rely on it, there is, in all these cases, not only mental excitement but mental agony: the spirit which can prompt to such an act or such a project, is worthy of a fiend; and it cannot have possession of a human bosom without being a tormentor. And even where from considerations of timidity or of policy, there may be no external demonstration of the revengeful spirit—though it may never be felt in any offensive act, nor heard even in a whisper, yet it will be nothing better in the soul than an imprisoned fury; or, if you please, a serpent holding the whole inner man continually in his deadly coils.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): Malice is mental murder.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): Liquors are soured when long kept; so, when we dwell upon discontents, they turn to revenge. Purposes of revenge are most sweet and pleasant to carnal nature: “Frowardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually,” Proverbs 6:14―that is to say, he is full of revengeful and spiteful thoughts.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): We must rid ourselves of the spirit of retaliation, of the desire to defend ourselves and to revenge ourselves for any injury or wrong that is done to us―“Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”

RICHARD ROGERS (1550-1618): Many a man might have eschewed murder, if he could have withdrawn his heart from wrath and revenge.

J. C. PHILPOT (1802-1869): We need patience when anything is said or done to hurt our minds, wound our feelings, irritate our tempers, and stir us up to revenge.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Call to remembrance God’s infinite patience and longsuffering with yourself.

WILLIAM ARNOT (1808-1875): The best practical specific for the treatment of anger against persons is to “defer it.” Its nature presses for instant vengeance, and the appetite should be starved…When your clothes outside are on fire you wrap yourself in a blanket, if you can, and so smother the flame: in like manner, when you heart within has caught the fire of anger, your first business is to get the flame extinguished.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): This is hard work indeed, in the very fire to keep the spirits cool, and clear of wrath and revenge. But it makes him that by grace can do it, a glorious conqueror. Flesh and blood would bid a man call fire from heaven, rather than mercy to fall upon them that so cruelly handle him. He that can forgive his enemy is too hard for him, and gets the better of him; because his enemy’s blows do not bruise his flesh, but the wounds that love gives, pierce the conscience.

DAVID DICKSON (1583-1662): The most satisfactory revenge which the godly can desire of their persecutors and mockers, is to have them made converts, to have them recalled from the vanity of their way and brought to a right understanding of what concerns their salvation.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Let me give you two illustrations of men who, we must all agree, put this teaching into practise. The first is about the famous Cornish evangelist, Billy Bray, who before his conversion was a pugilist, [a boxer], and a very good one. Billy Bray was converted; but one day, down in the mine, another man who used to live in mortal dread and terror of Billy Bray before Bray’s conversion, knowing he was converted, thought he had at last found his opportunity. Without any provocation at all he struck Billy Bray, who could very easily have revenged himself upon him and laid him down unconscious on the ground. But instead of doing that Billy Bray looked at him and said, “May God forgive you, even as I forgive you,” and no more. The result was that that man endured for several days an agony of mind and spirit which led directly to his conversion. He knew what Billy Bray could do, and he knew what the natural man in Billy Bray wanted to do. But Billy Bray did not do it; and that is how God used him.

THOMAS FULLER (1608-1661): The noblest revenge is to forgive.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: The other is a story of a very different man. Hudson Taylor, standing on a river bank in China one evening, hailed a boat to take him across a river. Just as the boat was drawing near, a wealthy Chinese came along who did not recognize Hudson Taylor as a foreigner because he had affected native dress. So when the boat came he struck and thrust Hudson Taylor aside with such force that the latter fell into the mud. Hudson Taylor, however, said nothing; but the boatman refused to take his fellow-countryman, saying, “No, that foreigner called me, and the boat is his, and he must go first.” The Chinese traveller was amazed and astounded when he realized he had blundered. Hudson Taylor did not complain but invited the man into the boat with him and began to tell him what it was in him that made him behave in such a manner. As a foreigner he could have resented such treatment; but he did not do so because of the grace of God in him. A conversation followed which Hudson Taylor had every reason to believe made a deep impression upon that man and upon his soul.

STEPHEN CHARNOCK (1628-1680): Upon what stock does revenge grow, but upon a false idea of the nature of honour?

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): It is more honour to bury an injury than to revenge it.

 

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