An Appreciation of John Wesley & the Sovereign Grace of God

Psalm 65:4
       Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causeth to approach unto thee.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Whether we like it or not, John Wesley was a mighty instrument in God’s hand for good; and, next to George Whitefield, was the first and foremost evangelist of England [about three] hundred years ago.

FRANCES BEVAN (1827-1909): Whilst deeply thankful to God for the grace given to him we must not make excuses for that in him which was contrary to the mind of God…John Wesley was not in all matters a safe guide.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Wesley believed in original sin and also that a man could do nothing about his salvation apart from grace. But he also believed that this grace was available to all, and that it was left to man himself to decide whether to take advantage of it or not.

JAMES DURHAM (1622-1658): Certainly, we are not obliged to our free-will for our conversion, but to His Spirit.

J. C. RYLE: John Wesley was an Arminian in doctrine. I fully admit the seriousness of the objection. I do not pretend either to explain the charge away, or to defend his objectionable opinions. Personally, I feel unable to account for any well-instructed Christian holding such doctrines as perfection and the defectibility of grace, or denying such as election and the imputed righteousness of Christ.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: I remember speaking once on the difference between the theological standpoints of Whitefield and Wesley―I said that John Wesley was to me the greatest proof of Calvinism. Why? Because in spite of his faulty thinking he was greatly used of God to preach the gospel and to convert souls! That is the ultimate proof of Calvinism―predestination and election.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): Mr. Wesley, I think, is wrong in some things; but I believe he will shine bright in glory.

J. C. RYLE: If I am asked whether I prefer Whitefield’s gospel or Wesley’s, I answer at once that I prefer Whitefield’s: I am a Calvinist, and not an Arminian…But if I am asked to go further, and to say that Wesley preached no gospel at all, and did not real good, I answer at once that I cannot do so―that he preached the gospel, honoured Christ, and did extensive good, I no more doubt than I doubt my own existence.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Though a man may be muddled in his thinking, as John Wesley was at certain points, God may nevertheless, bless him and use him. And if He cannot do this, then there is no such thing as the sovereignty of God, and His omnipotence.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): I can only say concerning John Wesley that, while I detest many of the doctrines which he preached, yet for the man himself I have a reverence second to no Wesleyan.

J. C. RYLE: Then let us thank God for what John Wesley was, and not keep pouring over his deficiencies, and only talking of what he was not…A writer in the North British Review has well and forcibly described the difference between the two great English evangelists of the [18th] century:
      “Whitefield was soul, and Wesley was system. Whitefield was the summer cloud which burst at morning or noon a fragrant exhalation over an ample trace, and took the rest of the day to gather again; Wesley was the polished conduit in the midst of the garden, through which the living water glided in pearly brightness and perennial music, the same vivid stream from day to day. All force and impetus, Whitefield was the powder-blast in the quarry, and by one explosive sermon would shake a district, and detach materials for other men’s long work; deft, neat, and painstaking, Wesley loved to split and trim each fragment into uniform plinths and polished stones. Whitefield was the barge-man or the wagoner who brought the timber of the house, and Wesley was the architect who set it up. Whitefield had no patience for ecclesiastical polity, no aptitude for pastoral details; Wesley, with a leader-like propensity for building, was always constructing societies, and with a king-like craft of ruling, was most at home when presiding over a class or a conference.”

HOWEL HARRIS (1714-1773): I think I never saw the like of Mr. Whitefield in some things; such as strong faith, brokenness of spirit, catholic love, and true sympathy. Indeed, his tongue is like the pen of a ready writer to call sinners to Christ. And none are like brethren John and Charles Wesley to press after holiness. I see every day that each has his peculiar gifts and talents in the work.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): I preached at the Tabernacle in Norwich to a large, rude, noisy congregation. I took knowledge what manner of teachers they had been accustomed to, and determined to mend them or end them. Accordingly, the next evening, after sermon, I reminded them of two things: the one, that it was not decent to begin talking aloud as soon as service was ended; and hurrying to and fro, as in a bear-garden. The other, that it was a bad custom to gather into knots just after sermon, and turn a place of worship into a coffee-house.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: John Wesley! If ever there was a church disciplinarian it was that man! In his Journals, he records that one occasion he went over to visit a church—the class meeting at Dublin—and when he arrived there he found about six hundred people. Then he began to examine the church members one by one, and when he had finished a few days later, the church numbered three hundred.

JOHN WESLEY: I met the society at seven; and told them in plain terms, that they were the most ignorant, self-conceited, self-willed, fickle, untractable, disorderly, disjointed society, that I knew in the three kingdoms.

FRANCES BEVAN: [Wesley journeyed] all over the country—by horseback, through all weathers—it seemed a perfect matter of indifference to him that it should hail, rain, or snow, blow hurricanes, or turn to sultry heat.

JOHN WESLEY: As long as God gives me strength to labour I am to use it…I have none of the infirmities of old age…The grand cause is the good pleasure of God, who doeth whatsoever pleaseth Him. The chief means are—
      1. My constant rising at four in the morning for about 50 years.
      2. My generally preaching at five in the morning, one of the most healthy exercises in the world.
      3. My never travelling less, by sea or land, than 4500 miles a year.

VERNON J. CHARLESWORTH (1839-1915): George Whitefield, it appears, in thirty-four years, preached 18,000 sermons; and John Wesley, who lived [thirty years longer] delivered 40,560 sermons.

J. C. RYLE: John Wesley died in the sixty-fifth year of his ministry…The manner of his dying was in beautiful harmony with his life. He preached within a very few days of his death―the last [sermon] of all was at Leatherhead, on the words, “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found,” Isaiah 55:6….He retained his senses until the end, and showed clearly where his heart and thoughts were to the very last. The day but one before he died he slept much and spoke little. Once he said in a low but distinct manner, “there is no way into the holiest but by the blood of Jesus.”

BETSY RITCHIE (1752-1835): Finding we could not understand what he said, John Wesley paused a little, and then with all the remaining strength he had, cried out, “The best of all is, God is with us,” and then, as if to assert the faithfulness of our promise-keeping Jehovah, and comfort the hearts of his weeping friends, he lifted up his dying arm in token of victory, raised his feeble voice with a holy triumph not to be expressed, and again repeated the heart reviving words, “The best of all is, God is with us!”―and the last word he was heard to articulate was, “Farewell!”


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The Great Methodist Revival of the 18th Century

I Corinthians 1:20; 2 Timothy 2:3
       It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
       Therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): It was a brave day for England when George Whitefield began field preaching.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): At three in the afternoon I went to Kingswood among the coal miners…I preached and enlarged on John 3:3, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,” for near an hour.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): When the Kingswood coal miners, near Bristol, first heard [the gospel] from Whitefield’s lips, they wept till their black faces were seamed with white lines of tears.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): In the evening I reached Bristol, and met Mr. Whitefield there. I could scarce reconcile myself at first to this strange way of preaching in the fields, of which he set me an example on Sunday; having been all my life—till very lately—so tenacious of every point relating to decency and order, that I should have thought the saving of souls almost a sin, if had it not been done in a church.

C. H. SPURGEON: John Wesley stood up and preached a sermon on his father’s grave, because the parish priest would not allow him admission within the so-called sacred edifice, the church.

JOHN WESLEY: I am well assured that I did far more good to my Lincolnshire parishioners by preaching three days on my father’s tomb than I did by preaching three years in his pulpit.

J. C. RYLE: These gallant evangelists shook England from one end to the other. At first people in high places affected to despise them. The men of letters sneered at them as fanatics; the wits cut jokes, and invented smart names for them; the church shut her doors on them.

CHARLES WESLEY (1707-1788): I stood by George Whitefield while he preached on the mount in Blackheath. The cries of the wounded were heard on every side. What has Satan gained by turning him out of the churches?

GEORGE WHITEFIELD: At Usk, the pulpit being denied, I preached upon a table under a large tree to some hundreds, and God was with us of a truth.

C. H. SPURGEON: It was blessed day when the Methodists and others began to proclaim Jesus in the open air; then were the gates of hell shaken, and the captives of the devil set free by hundreds and by thousands…Among the leaders of the great revival of the 18th century were Captain Toriel Joss, a sea-captain, and Captain Scott, a captain of dragoons. Both became famous preachers. Whitefield said of them, “God, who sitteth upon the flood, can bring a shark from the ocean, and a lion from the forest, to show forth His praise.”

JOHN WESLEY: Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell.

FRANCES BEVAN (1827-1909): A little before, John Wesley would have been shocked to hear of a stonemason [named John Nelson] preaching the gospel, or, in fact, anybody who was not a clergyman.
      When he had first heard of such a thing in England, it was in the case of a young man called Thomas Maxfield. Not long before, when going from London to Bristol, he had once left Maxfield to look after the classes and meetings at the Foundry, telling him he might read the Bible to any anxious to be taught, and now and then make a remark, but he was on no account to preach. Maxfield found, however, so many longing to hear the gospel, that he dared not refuse to preach it to them. Wesley heard of it, and his mother saw him one day unexpectedly walk in, when she thought he was busy at Bristol. He looked very much disturbed, and very angry.
      “So,” he said, “Thomas Maxfield has turned preacher, I find.”
      “John,” said Wesley’s mother, “you know I used to think none but a clergyman ought to preach, but take care what you do with respect to that young man, for he is as surely called of God to preach as you are. Examine what have been the fruits of his preaching, and hear him yourself.”
      Wesley was wise enough to take his mother’s advice. He went to hear Maxfield, and was only thankful when he found that he preached faithfully and well. “It is the Lord,” he said, “let Him do what seemeth Him good. What am I that I should withstand God?”

J. C. RYLE: Their proceedings were neither fashionable nor popular, and often brought on them more persecutions and abuse than praise.

CHARLES WESLEY (1707-1788): Hell from beneath was moved to oppose us.

C. H. SPURGEON: Amid jeering crowds and showers of rotten eggs and filth, the immediate followers of the two great Methodists continued to storm village after village and town after town. Varied were their adventures, but their success was generally great. One smiles often when reading incidents in their labours. A string of packhorses is so driven as to break up a congregation, and a fire-engine is brought out and water played over the throng to achieve the same purpose. Hand-bells, old kettles, marrow-bones and cleavers, trumpets, drums, and entire bands of music were engaged to drown the preachers’ voices.

FRANCES BEVAN: Many Methodists were severely hurt, women especially, who were dragged about and trampled on by the mob. In various places the buildings where meetings were held were torn down.

C. H. SPURGEON: The preachers needed to have faces set like flints, and so indeed they had.

JOHN FURZ (1717-1800): As soon as I began to preach, a man came straight forward, and presented a gun at my face, swearing that he would blow my brains out, if I spake another word. However, I continued speaking, and he continued swearing, sometimes putting the muzzle of the gun to my mouth, sometimes against my ear. While we were singing the last hymn, he got behind me, fired the gun, and burned off part of my hair.

JOHN WESLEY: Two years ago a piece of brick grazed my shoulders. It was a year after that a stone struck me between the eyes. Last month, I received one blow, and this evening two; one before we came into town, and one after we had gone out.

CHARLES WESLEY: He looked like a soldier of Christ. His clothes were torn to tatters.

FRANCES BEVAN: Once near Bristol, a mob brought a bull they had been baiting, and drove him into the crowd when John Wesley was preaching on the village green. They hoped the bull would upset the table on which the preacher stood. But though the bull stood close to the table he was quite quiet, which so provoked the mob that they seized the table themselves and broke it in pieces, whilst some of Wesley’s friends rushed to the rescue, and carried him off on their shoulders.

JOHN WESLEY: We reached St. Ives [in Cornwall] about two in the morning. At five I preached on Matthew 5:44, “Love your enemies;” and at Gwennap, in the evening, on 2 Timothy 3:12, “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

J. C. RYLE: But the movement of these gallant evangelists went on, and made itself felt in every part of the land. Many were aroused and awakened to think about religion; many were shamed out of their sins; many were restrained and frightened at their own ungodliness—many were converted.

JOHN WESLEY: How strange has one year changed the scene in Cornwall! This is now a peaceable—nay, honourable station. They give us good words almost [everywhere]. What have we done, that the world should be so civil to us?

FRANCES BEVAN: At Gwennap, in Cornwall, there is a hollow in the hills, in the form of a horse-shoe. Here the crowds would sit around John Wesley, one row above another, so that twenty thousand or more could hear him at the same time.

JOHN WESLEY: It is field preaching which does the execution still: for usefulness there is none comparable to it.


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The Hopeless Futility of Trying to Be Saved by “Good Works”

I Corinthians 15:3; Ephesians 2:8,9
       Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.
       By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.

AUGUSTINE (354-430): “Good works,” as they are called, in sinners, are nothing but splendid sins.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): This is true of the best works of the best man, who is out of Christ, they are nothing but splendid sins—varnished sins—Nothing is a good work unless it is done with a good motive; and there is no motive which can be said to be good but the glory of God. He who performs good works with a view to save himself, does not do them from a good motive, because his motive is selfish.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): Unless a man is already a believer and a Christian, his works have no value at all. They are foolish, idle, damnable sins, because when good works are brought forward as the ground for justification, they are no longer good…Jesus Christ never died for our works. They were not worth dying for. But He gave Himself for our sins, according to the Scriptures.

C. H. SPURGEON: And, next, I think it will be admitted by all, that the way of salvation by good works would be self-evidently unsuitable to a considerable number. I will take a case. I am sent for on an emergency, and it is the dead of night. A man is dying. I go to his bedside, as requested. Consciousness remains; but he is evidently in mortal agony. He has lived an ungodly life, and he is about to die…Shall I tell him that he can only be saved by good works? Where is the time for works? Where is the possibility of them? Almost while I am speaking, his life is struggling to escape him. He looks at me in the agony of his soul, and he stammers out, “What must I do to be saved?” Shall I read to him the moral law? Shall I expound to him the Ten Commandments, and tell him that he must keep all these? He would shake his head, and say, “I have broken them all; I am condemned by them all.”
      But if salvation be of works, what more have I to say? I am of no use here…The man is utterly lost. There is no remedy for him…There is no whisper of hope for a dying man in the hard and stony doctrine of salvation by works. If salvation had been by works, our Lord could not have said to the thief, dying at his side, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise,” Luke 23:43. That man could do no works. His hands and feet were fastened to the cross, and he was in the agonies of death. No, it must be of grace, all-conquering grace; and the modus operandi must be by faith, or else for dying men the gospel is a mockery…Is it not clear that the gospel of works is unsuitable in such a case as that? Now, a gospel which is unsuitable to anybody is not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

MARTIN LUTHER: The gospel preaches nothing of the merit of works; he that says that the gospel requires works for salvation, I say flat and plain, is a liar.

C. H. SPURGEON: Yes, I put it plainly―there is no other present salvation except that which begins and ends with grace.

MARTIN LUTHER: Nobody has died for our sins but Jesus Christ the Son of God…and if it be He alone who takes away sin, it cannot be ourselves with our works.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Remember, there are no works that can merit anything—but the work of Christ.

WILLIAM TYNDALE (1490-1536): If thou trust in thy works, there is no rest. Thou shalt think, I have not done enough. Have I done it with so great love as I should do? I have left this or that undone; and such like. If thou trust in confession, then thou shalt think, Have I told all? Have I told all the circumstances? Did I repent enough? Had I as great sorrow in my repentance for my sins, as I had pleasure in doing them?

J. C. RYLE: Remember there is no priest who can truly absolve—but Christ…Hold fast the truth of God about justification, and be not deceived. Listen not to anything you may hear about other mediators and helpers to peace.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714):There one mediator between man and God, the man Christ Jesus,” 1 Timothy 2:5. There is one Mediator, and that Mediator gave Himself a ransom for all.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): This excludes all other mediators, as saints and angels, whom the Papists set up.

C. H. SPURGEON: I have no doubt that all of us who know anything of true religion are of the same opinion as that celebrated Scotch divine, old David Dickson, who was asked when dying, what was the principal subject on which his thoughts were engaged. And he answered, “I am gathering up all my good works, and all my bad works, tying them into one bundle, and throwing them all alike down at the foot of the cross, and am resting alone upon the finished work of Jesus.”

WILLIAM TYNDALE: Remember, Christ is the end of all things. He only is our resting-place, and He is our peace. For as there is no salvation in any other name, so is there no peace in any other name. Thou shalt never have rest in thy soul, neither shall the worm of conscience ever cease to gnaw thine heart, till thou come at Christ; till thou hear the glad tidings, how that God for His sake hath forgiven thee all freely.

J. C. RYLE: This is the one true way of peace—justification by Christ. Beware lest any turn you out of this way and lead you into any of the false doctrines of the Church of Rome. Remember there is no mediator but one—Jesus Christ. Remember there is no purgatory for sinners but one—the blood of Christ. Remember there is no sacrifice for sin but one—the sacrifice once made on the cross.

C. H. SPURGEON: No one in the Church of Rome claims to be now saved—completely and eternally saved. Such a profession would be heretical. Some few Catholics may hope to enter heaven when they die, but the most of them have the miserable prospect of purgatory before their eyes. We see constant requests for prayers for departed souls, and this would not be if those souls were saved, and glorified with their Saviour. Masses for the repose of the soul indicate the incompleteness of the salvation Rome has to offer. Well may it be so, since Papal salvation is by works, and even if salvation by good works were possible, no man can ever be sure that he has performed enough of them to secure his salvation.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): Works? Works? A man get to heaven by works? I would as soon think of climbing to the moon on a rope of sand.

MARTIN LUTHER: If salvation could be attained only by working hard, then surely horses and donkeys would be in heaven…I have preached justification by faith so often, and I feel sometimes that you are so slow to receive it that I could almost take the Bible and bang it about your heads.


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Why Does God ‘Permit’ Evil? The Secret Purposes of God

Proverbs 16:9; Ephesians 1:11
        A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.
        According to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): All events are governed by the secret counsel of God…He governs heaven and earth by His providence, and regulates all things in such a manner that nothing happens but according to His counsel.

GEORGE LAWSON (1749-1820): It is exceedingly dishonouring of God to suppose than any sin can be committed without His permission or any calamity befall men or nations that was not appointed for them in His eternal purpose.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): God would never permit any evil if He could not bring good out of evil.

AUGUSTINE (354-430): Nothing, therefore, happens unless the Omnipotent wills it to happen; He either permits to happen, or He brings it about Himself.

JOHN CALVIN: Good men, who fear to expose the justice of God to the calumnies of the impious, resort to this distinction, that God wills some things, but permits some others to be done…Good men are ashamed to confess, that what men undertake cannot be accomplished except by the will of God; fearing lest unbridled tongues should cry out immediately, either that God is the author of sin, or that wicked men are not to be accused of crime, seeing they fulfill the counsel of God.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): We read the Scriptures in vain if we fail to discover that the actions of men, evil men as well as good, are governed by the Lord God…God is working out His eternal purpose, not only in spite of human and Satanic opposition, but by means of them.

STEPHEN CHARNOCK (1628-1680): In providence there are two things considerable. First, man’s will. Secondly, God’s purpose. What man’s will intends as a harm in sin, God in His secret purpose orders to some eminent advantage.

JAMES DURHAM (1622-1658): Observe, that often God has one design, and men another; and that God will have His design to stand, and infrustably to take effect…
        From these words, “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him, he hath put him to grief,” Isaiah 53:10, observe that the Lord Jehovah had the main and principal hand in all the sufferings of [Christ]. It was not the Jews nor the scribes and Pharisees, nor Pilate; but it pleased the Lord to bruise Him, and to put Him to grief; as is clear, from Acts 4:27,28, “Herod and Pontius Pilate, the Gentiles and people of Israel, were gathered together, to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.” In all that they did, they were but doing that which was carved out before, in the eternal counsel of God; and therefore Peter says, in Acts 2:23, “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” The Lord’s hand was supreme in the business.

STEPHEN CHARNOCK: God, by His providence, draws glory to Himself and good out of sin…God orders the sins of men to the glory of His grace.

JAMES DURHAM: This leads us into the vindicating of the sovereign and holy providence of God, in that wherein men have a most sinful hand, they are most inexcusable. Though Judas that betrayed, and Pilate that condemned the innocent Son of God, acted most sinfully; yet the Lord Himself has an active overruling hand, in carrying out His own design; and what Judas and Pilate, with other wicked men, did, was so far from being by guess, that they were the executions of His ancient decrees. And He is most pure and spotless in venting and manifesting grace, holiness and justice, when men were venting their corruptions, impiety and injustice most―Nay, this is a principal diamond in His crown, that He cannot only govern all the natural second causes that are in the world, in their several courses and actings, and order them to His own glory, but even devils, and wicked men, and hypocrites, in their most corrupt and abominable actions, and He makes them subservient to [accomplish] His own holy ends and purposes.

ALEXANDER CARSON (1776-1844): God does the thing: the man does it. In doing the work of the Lord man acts freely, and is justly accountable for doing what is directly appointed for him to do.

JAMES DURHAM: And as it was no excuse to Judas nor to Pilate, that they did what before was decreed of God; so it shall be no excuse to any man in a sinful course, that God has a hand in everything that comes to pass, who yet is just and holy in all.

JOHN CALVIN: Away, then, with that vain figment, that, by the permission of God only, and not by His counsel or will, those evils are committed which He afterwards turns to a good account. I speak of evils with respect to men, who propose nothing else to themselves but to act perversely. And as the vice dwells in them, so ought the whole blame also to be laid upon them. But God works wonderfully through their means, in order that, from their impurity, He may bring forth His perfect righteousness…At the same time, however, it must also be maintained, that God acts so far distinctly from them, that no vice can attach itself to His providence, and that His decrees have no affinity with the crimes of men.

ALEXANDER CARSON: God’s purpose is brought about by those whose only view is fulfill their own purposes. How inscrutable are the mysteries of Providence! How unsearchable are His counsels in the government of the world! Men are His enemies, they hate Him, and disobey Him; yet in all their plans and actions they fulfill His will―men think, and resolve, and act for themselves; yet they fulfill the plans of Jehovah, as much as the sun, moon, and stars. His very enemies in opposing Him, are made the instruments of serving Him.

STEPHEN CHARNOCK: Providence is a great deep…Neither the greatness of His means, nor the wisdom of His workings, can be fully apprehended by men.

ALEXANDER CARSON: This is a depth we cannot fathom; but it is a truth necessary for the honour of the character of God; and one which the Scriptures leave no room for doubt. The sin and misery that are on the earth, the endless perdition of wicked men and devils, are subjects of melancholy consideration to the man of God; but let him be consoled with the thought that Jehovah worketh all things according to the counsel of His own will.

JOHN CALVIN: Let this sentiment remain fixed with us, that while the lust of men exults, and intemperately hurries them hither and thither, God is the ruler, and, by His secret rein, directs their motions whithersoever He pleases.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Let all true Christians lay these things to heart, and take courage. We live in a world where all things are ordered by a hand of perfect wisdom, and where in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, Romans 8:28. 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.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): I know of nothing more consoling than that. In a world in which you can’t tell what tomorrow is going to bring forth, and everything has become so uncertain, here is the great certainty: that God rules and reigns over all, and everything is under His mighty hand.


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Nationalistic Pride & War

Jeremiah 48:29; Zechariah 9:6; 10:11; 11:3; Jeremiah 13:9
       We have heard of the pride of Moab, (he is exceeding proud) his loftiness, and his arrogancy, and his pride, and the haughtiness of his heart.
       The pride of the Philistines.
       The pride of Jordan.
       The pride of Assyria.
       The pride of Judah, and the great pride of Jerusalem.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Pride is one of the distinguishing characteristics of puny man, and has been one of the chief causes of all the contentions, wars, devastations, systems of slavery, and ambitious projects which have desolated and demoralized our sinful world.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): The Christian message does not denounce patriotism. There’s nothing wrong in it. It’s a poor man who doesn’t love his country and his nation. There’s nothing in the Scriptures against that; it is God who has divided up the nations, and described and defined the bound of their habitations. It is God’s will that there should be nations. But it is not God’s will that there should be nationalism―an aggressive nationalism. There’s nothing wrong, I say, in a man honouring his own country and delighting in it, but it is utterly un-Christian to say “my country right or wrong.” That’s wrong. That is fatally wrong. That is flying into the face of the Scripture.

C. H. SPURGEON: Wherever great powers have interfered with smaller and inoffensive nationalities, for the sake of increasing their territory, or their influence, they are very guilty; and wherein nations have shown a feverish irritability, or a readiness for war, they are also to be censured. Is not war always a conglomerate of crimes?

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): War is the slaughterhouse of mankind, and the hell of this present world.

ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER (1772-1851): No man in his right sense can believe that is a right thing for men to destroy each others’ lives. For a man to shed the blood of his brother, is murder: to shed the blood of hundreds, is murder on a large scale. There is no excuse for war but dire necessity. As long as possible, every nation should avoid war; but a state of warfare may be forced upon a nation. Self defence is the first law of our nature, and is a duty. On the contrary principle, the lawless and violent would have every thing in their own hands, and the virtuous and peaceable would be the prey of the wicked. But still, it is an evident truth, that every case in which human life is taken in war, is a case of murder; some persons must be accountable for the shedding of all the blood which is spilled. And if this be so, then that nation which, without sufficient reason, commences a war, or provokes a war, has an awful responsibility resting on it; and so also, when a war is in progress, that nation which refuses to make peace, or insist on unreasonable conditions, is guilty of all the blood which may be shed, and all the misery produced.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Crusades for the recovery of a holy land so called―by the way, latterly, the most unholy in the map of the world―and wars for the support of religion, are an insult to the Gospel, and blasphemy against God!

WILLIAM S. PLUMER (1802-1880): Let men who delight in the cruelties of war remember that their day is coming.

C. H. SPURGEON: A teacher was once instructing a class in patriotism and nationality. He happened to see the national flag hanging up upon the wall, and he asked a child, “Now, my boy, what is that flag?”
      “It is the English flag, sir.”
      “And what is the use of it?”
      The truthful boy replied, “It is used to cover the dirty place in the wall behind it.”
      I need not interpret the parable.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: I believe there are many outside the church today because in the First World War the Christian church so frequently became a recruiting station…But the Church in the New Testament is not identified with any nation or nations.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): The man who is content to sit ignorantly by his own fireside, wrapped up in his own private affairs, and has no public eye for what is going on in the church and the world, is a miserable patriot, and a poor style of Christian.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: I am profoundly convinced that what is keeping large numbers of people from Christ, and from salvation, and from the Christian church, is this awful confusion of which the church herself has so frequently been guilty―There are certain things which should never be confused―Well, let me put if first by saying that [the Christian message] is not a great appeal for patriotism…
      If ever a man was proud of the fact of his nationality, it was the apostle Paul, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, of the tribe of Benjamin, Philippians 3:5. He was a narrow nationalist. He despised the others; the Gentiles were dogs outside the pale. Ah, yes! but [after his conversion to Jesus Christ] the thing he glories in, you remember, is this: in whom ye also have trusted, Ephesians 1:13; the Gentiles have come in, have been made fellow heirs with Jews, the middle wall of partition has been broken down, there is no longer Jew nor Gentile, Barbarian nor Scythian, bond nor free, male or female, all are one in Christ, Colossians 3:11. That’s the Christian position…Here is the way to break down that kind of nationalistic spirit that leads to war―the belief that we are always right, and everyone else always wrong. It’s as wrong in nations as it is in individuals. It’s always wrong. So that the Christian message is not an appeal to patriotism, and if Christianity is ever portrayed in that form it is a denial―a travesty of the message!―and it is misleading in the eyes and the ears of those who listen to it.

ROWLAND HILL (1744-1833): It is astonishing what nonsense some people will talk in the pulpit. When I was out the other day, I heard of a man who had been preaching on modern improvement; and, amongst other things, of the merciful way of making war since the invention of gunpowder, which proved so much easier a death than that inflicted by the ancient weapons. He got rightly served for his pains; for they have called him the gunpowder parson ever since…I preach Christ crucified; and when that ceases to my only theme, may I cease from the pulpit.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Christianity has not come into the world to put an end to war; it has not come to reform the world. What has it come for? It has come to save us from the destruction that is coming to the world. This Book asserts a judgement, an end of history. God in Christ will judge the whole world in righteousness, sending those who have turned their backs upon Him, refused His offer of salvation in Christ, to everlasting perdition, and ushering the saints into the glory of a “new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness,” 2 Peter 3:13.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): There we shall hear the voice of war no more.


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The Holy Spirit, The Divine Teacher of God’s Truth

John 16:13,14
       Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth…He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): Can any man understand the Scriptures without the Spirit of God helps him? Jesus Christ must open our understanding to understand the Scriptures, and the Spirit of God must take of the things of Christ, and show them unto us.

GEORGE MÜLLER (1805-1898): In our day, as well as in former times, He is the teacher of His people. The office of the Holy Spirit I had not experimentally understood before [1829]―that the Holy Spirit alone can teach us about our state by nature, show us the need of a Saviour, enable us to believe in Christ, and explain to us the Scriptures.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Let no man hesitate to acknowledge, that he is incapable of understanding the mysteries of God, any further than he has been illuminated by Divine grace…All Scripture is profitable: as indeed experience showeth us, if the fault be not in ourselves.

THOMAS GOODWIN (1600-1679): There must be light to accompany the truth if we are to know it. The experience of all gracious men proves this.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Have you not found yourself reading a passage of Scripture which you have read many times before, which you thought you knew, and suddenly finding that it becomes alive to you and speaks in a way in which it has never done before? We must all have had this kind of experience many times.

JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688): I have sometimes seen more in a line of the Bible than I could well tell how to stand under, and yet at another time the whole Bible hath been to me as dry as a stick; or rather, my heart hath been so dead and dry unto it, that I could not conceive the least drachm of refreshment, though I have looked it all over.

THOMAS GOODWIN: What is the reason that you shall see some things in a chapter at one time, and not at another; have some grace in your hearts at one time, and not at another; have a sight of spiritual things at one time and not at another? The eye is the same, but it is the Holy Ghost that openeth and shutteth this dark lantern, as I may so call it; as He openeth it wider, or contracts it, or shutteth it narrower, so do we see more or less: and sometimes He shutteth it wholly, and then the soul is in darkness, though it have never so good an eye.

R. C. CHAPMAN (1803-1902): Unless our souls are living in communion with God, the Scriptures will not yield us their strength and nourishment.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him, and that wait on Him continually; to these He will shew His covenant, not notionally, but experimentally. A few minutes of the Spirit’s teaching will furnish us with more real useful knowledge, than toiling through whole folios of commentators and expositors: they are useful in their places, and are not to be undervalued―but it will be our wisdom to deal less with the streams, and be more close in applying to the fountain head. The Scripture itself, and the Spirit of God, are the best and the only sufficient expositors of Scripture. Whatever men have valuable in their writings, they got it from hence; and the way is as open to us as to any of them. There is nothing required but a teachable humble spirit; and learning, as it is commonly called, is not necessary in order to this.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): Believe one who is speaking from experience…the Bible cannot be understood simply by study or talent; you must count only on the influence of the Holy Spirit.

GEORGE MÜLLER: It was my beginning to understand this latter point in particular, which had a great effect on me; for the Lord enabled me to put it to the test of experience, by laying aside commentaries, and almost every other book, and simply reading the Word of God and studying it. The result of this was, that the first evening that I shut myself into my room, to give myself to prayer and meditation over the Scriptures, I learned more in a few hours than I had done during a period of several months previously. But the particular difference was, that I received real strength for my soul in doing so.

JOHN NEWTON: We learn more, and more effectually, by one minute’s communication with Him through the medium of His written Word, than we could from an assembly of divines, or a library of books.

ROBERT MURRAY M’CHEYNE (1813-1843): None can teach like God.

MARTIN LUTHER: Your first duty, then, is to begin with prayer. Entreat the Lord that He will in His great mercy deign to grant you the true knowledge of His Word. There is no other interpreter of the Word of God than the Author of that word according as it is said, “They will all be taught of God,” John 6:45.

ROBERT MURRAY M’CHEYNE: “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law,” Psalm 119:18. David was not blind, his eye was not dim. He could read the Bible from cover to cover, and yet he felt he needed more light. He felt that he needed to see deeper, to have the eyes of his understanding opened. He felt that if he had nothing but his own eyes and natural understanding, he would not discover the wonders which he panted to see. He wanted Divine teaching—the eye-salve of the Spirit; and therefore he would not open the Bible without the prayer, “Open thou mine eyes.”―Do any of you feel your need of Divine teaching? Oh, run to Him; cry, “Open thou mine eyes.”

BROWNLOW NORTH (1810-1875): You have got Bibles, read them. You cannot understand them unless the Holy Spirit teach you—therefore, pray for the Holy Spirit.

JOHN BUNYAN: Pray and read, and read and pray; for a little from God is better than a great deal from men…There is nothing that so abides with us as what we receive from God; and the reason why Christians at this day are at such a loss as to some things is, because they are content with what comes from men’s mouths, without searching and kneeling before God, to know of Him the truth of things. Things that we receive from God’s hand come to us as things from the minting house, though old in themselves, yet new to us. Old truths are always new to us if they come to us with the smell of heaven upon them.

MARY WINSLOW (1774-1854): Oh, dear friend, pray over your Bible, that this same blessed Spirit—may unfold to your mind the precious truths it contains.


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Evolution: An “Opposition of Science, Falsely So Called”

I Timothy 1:20,21
       Keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: which some professing have erred concerning the faith.

WILLIAM BUELL SPRAGUE (1795-1876): Who can estimate the amount of evil which a bad book is adapted to produce? Let it be read and relished, and it will be almost sure to be read more than once—read till it has impressed itself most fully on the mind, and its poison has diffused itself through the whole moral system.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): There is the theory of Evolution, for instance, which the average man takes for granted now, a century or so after the publication of Charles Darwin’s book, The Origin of Species―that one book, I suppose, has been more responsible for undermining people’s faith and belief in the Scriptures, and in God’s way of salvation, than any other single book.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): The lie of evolution captivated the scientific world.

PHILIP MAURO (1859-1952): Although sometimes spoken of as a “scientific” theory, evolution is not scientific; for science has to do only with facts. Evolution belongs wholly in the realm of speculative philosophy. The basic assumption of this theory is that all things in nature—living and not living—had a common origin; and that all the diverse elements, compounds, and organisms were developed by the cumulative effect of changes, in themselves imperceptibly small, all of which changes were brought about by the energy of “forces resident in nature.” The theory assumes the existence of Matter and Force, without attempting to account for the origin of either…Thus, to begin with, the evolutionist makes no pretence that his theory can explain the origin of either Matter or Force. The existence of these he must take for granted, and attribute them to an unknowable first cause.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” Genesis 1:1. The world was not eternal, either as to the matter or form of it, as Aristotle, and some other philosophers, have asserted, but it had a beginning; and its being is not owing to the fortuitous motion and conjunction of atoms, but to the power and wisdom of God, the first cause and sole Author of all things.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Quite apart from my believing the Bible to be the inspired and authoritative word of God, on scientific grounds alone I have never been able to accept the theory of evolution. The difficulties I am left with, if I accept the theory of evolution, are altogether greater than the few residual difficulties I am left with when I accept the biblical record.

PHILIP MAURO: The theory of Evolution, as an universal or cosmic process, requires us to believe that the entire organic world emerged, at some past era, from the inorganic. Surely, if such were indeed the case, then the latter would contain abundant evidences thereof, showing how individual entities, with their characteristic life changes, came into existence. And not only so, but we should also find everywhere inorganic groupings of atoms gradually reaching forth towards organic existence; and most certainly it would be possible by laboratory methods to transform the one into the other…Going on further we come to creatures having that mysterious thing called “Life.” Does Evolution account for the origin of that? Quite the contrary; Darwin himself declared that spontaneous generation is “absolutely inconceivable.”

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): To create requires infinite power. All the world cannot make a fly.

PHILIP MAURO: Evolution raises the monstrous and impious fiction that Man was made in the image and likeness of the ape, by means of an unbroken continuity of changes imperceptibly small. There is much talk about “the missing link.” But such talk is nonsensical.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): After all these years in which so many people have been hunting up and down the world for “the missing link” between animals and men, among all the monkeys that the wise men have examined, they have never discovered one who has rubbed his tail off, and ascended in the scale of creation so far as to take his place as the equal of our brothers and sisters of the great family of mankind.

PHILIP MAURO: Moreover, it obscures the facts of the case, for it is not a mere “link” that is missing, but ten thousand times ten thousand links.

C. H. SPURGEON: What the advocates of evolution appear to forget is, that there is nowhere to be discovered an actual chain of growth from one creature to another—there are breaks here and there, and so many missing links that the chain cannot be made complete…You remember how it is distinctly stated, again and again, that the Lord made each creature “after his kind.” So we read, “And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good,” Genesis 1:21. And again, verse 25, “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.”

JOHN GILL: “And the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind,” verse 11; as apples, pears, plums, apricots, nectars, peaches, oranges, lemons, etc., “whose seed is in itself;” each of which produce a seed according to the nature of them, which being sown produces the like, and so there is a continuance of them upon the earth.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Every thing both in the animal and vegetable world was made so according to its kind, both in genus and species, as to produce its own kind through endless generations. Thus the several races of animals and plants have been kept distinct from the foundation of the world to the present day.

C. H. SPURGEON: There are, naturally enough, many resemblances between them, because they have all been wrought by the one great master-mind of God, yet each one has its own peculiarities. Look at the union between the animal and the bird in the bat, or think of the resemblance between a bird and a fish in the flying fish; yet, nobody, surely, would venture to tell you that a fish ever grew into a bird, or that a bat ever became a butterfly or an eagle…All the evolutionists in the world cannot “improve” a mouse so that it will develop into a cat, or evolve a golden eagle out of a barn-door fowl. Even where one species very closely resembles another, there is a speciality about each which distinguishes it from all others.
      Does Revelation teach us evolution? It never has struck me, and it does not strike me now, that the theory of evolution can, by any process of argument, be reconciled with the inspired record of the Creation.

THOMAS WATSON: Creation is both a monument of God’s power and looking glass in which we may see His wisdom.


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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.
*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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