The Spirit of Martyrdom in the 21st Century

Genesis 4:8; I John 3:12
       And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.
       And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Persecutors may pretend what they please, but it is the saint’s religion and piety that their spite is aimed at.

WILLIAM JENKYN (1613–1685): Martyrdom came into the world early; the first man that died, died for religion.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): The world is a cavern of assassins under the command of the devil; an inn, whose landlord is a brigand, and which bears this sign, “Lies and Murder.” And none are more readily put to death therein than those who proclaim Jesus Christ. You ought to beware of thinking that Christ will achieve things in the earth quietly and softly, when you see that He fought with His own blood, and afterwards all the martyrs.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): The Son of God hath pronounced that the cross and tribulation shall always accompany His gospel; we must not pamper and cherish ourselves with a vain hope, as though the state and condition of the Church should be quiet―prosperous, and flourishing here upon earth. Let us, therefore, address ourselves to suffer the like things. And that is added as no small comfort for us, that as God hath marvellously delivered His Church in times past, being afflicted and oppressed so many ways, so He will at this day be present with us also.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): Suffering is commonly connected with service in the divine life. It was so invariably in the beginning of the gospel. Then it was deemed impossible for any one to live godly in Christ Jesus and not suffer persecution. Therefore no sooner was Paul converted, than he was told how great things he had to suffer, Acts 9:16.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Paul must suffer for His name’s sake. Those that bear Christ’s name must expect to bear the cross for His name; and those that do most for Christ are often called out to suffer most for Him.

WILLIAM JAY: As real religion is always the same, some degree of the same opposition may be always looked for; and the hatred of the world will be shown as far as they have liberty to express it, and are not restrained by law, or the usages of civilized life.

LORD SHAFTESBURY (1801-1885): The offence of the cross has not ceased.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): My dear brother, you must also be willing to bear Christ’s burden. Now the burden of Christ is His cross, which every Christian must take up. Expect to be reproached, expect to meet with some degree of the scandal of the cross, for the offence of it never ceases. Persecution and reproach are a blessed burden; when your soul loves Jesus, it is a light thing to suffer for Him, and, therefore, never by any cowardly retirement or refusal to profess your faith, evade your share of this honourable load. Woe unto those who say, “I will never be a martyr.” No rest is sweeter than the martyr’s rest. Woe unto those who say, “We will go to heaven by night along a secret road, and so avoid the shame of the cross.” The rest of the Christian is not found in cowardice but in courage; it lies not in providing for ease but in the brave endurance of suffering for the truth.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Faith imparts a steadfastness of purpose, a noble courage, a tranquillity of mind, which no human education or fleshly efforts can supply. Faith makes the righteous as bold as a lion, refusing to recant though horrible torturers and a martyr’s death be the only alternative.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): The hypocrite makes faith a cloak; the martyr makes it a shield…It is true that every Christian is not a martyr, but he has the spirit of martyrdom in him.

WILLIAM GURNALL: We must not spread our sails of profession in a calm, and furl them up when the wind riseth. Pergamos is commended, Revelation 2:13, for her bold profession: I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.

WILLIAM JAY: And thus it is with His people now. They are in the world, and this is their field of action; and this is their sphere of duty and trial for a season. There they are to serve their generation, there they are to glorify God, by doing and suffering His will. The world has advanced much in science and civilization, but it retains the same disposition towards real godliness as formerly, and is more perilous in its smiles than in its frowns, in its treacherous embraces than in its avowed hostilities.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): The smiling daughters of Moab did more mischief to Israel than all Balak’s frowning warriors. All Philistia could not have blinded Samson if Delilah’s charms had not deluded him.

HENRY CLAY FISH (1820-1877): Dr. Neander, in his History of the Christian Religion during the First Three Centuries, says, with reference to the struggle which the early Christians were obliged to maintain against a conformity to the customs of society: “This struggle might indeed have been partially avoided, had the early church, like the churches of later days, been inclined to humour the world, had they at least accommodated themselves to the prevailing manners, even when opposed to Christianity, merely to obtain more followers. But the first Christians were far more inclined to a haughty abomination of everything heathen, and even of that which had merely an apparent connection with paganism, than to any thing like a lax accommodation.” It is precisely this spirit that is now required. Instead of indulging in a “lax accommodation” to “humour the world,” we need to “come out of the world and be separate.”

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): There is no being a Christian without giving up all for Christ. We must all have the spirit of martyrdom, though we may not all die martyrs.

HENRY CLAY FISH: A return, therefore, of the self-sacrificing spirit of the primitive Christians, is a grand necessity of the times…The prevailing influence is not that of the gospel. And the followers of Jesus are in danger of being contaminated by that influence, and losing “the simplicity that is in Christ.” To resist it, requires moral courage. As large a measure of self-denial is requisite, on our part, to withstand the tide of worldly influence, as was requisite on the part of the early Christians. The martyr spirit is still essential to a life of eminent godliness. And this spirit waits a resurrection. It shall yet be revived. The time is coming when men shall act less from impulse and matters of convenience in religion, and more from principle.

 

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The Traditional Primary Principle of the Protestant Reformation

Colossians 2:8; Isaiah 8:20; 2 Thessalonians 2:15
       Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men.
       To the law and the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
       Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

WILLIAM C. BURNS (1815-1868): The word “tradition” has no mysterious or difficult signification; it means something handed down, whether from God to man, or from man to man.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): All are ready to declare, that they do not speak except from God. So the Papists at this day boast with magisterial gravity, that all their inventions are the oracles of the Spirit. Nor does Mahomet assert that he has drawn his dotages except from heaven…But to all this I reply, that we have the Word of the Lord, which ought especially to be consulted.

J. H. MERLE d’AUBIGNÉ (1794-1872): The infallible authority of the Word of God alone was the first and fundamental principle of the Reformation. All the reformations in detail which took place at a later period, as reformations in doctrine, in manners, in the government of the Church, and in worship, were only consequences of this primary principle. One is scarcely able at the present time to form an idea of the sensation produced by this elementary principle, which is so simple in itself, but which had been lost sight of for so many ages…The bold voices of all the Reformers soon proclaimed this powerful principle, at the sound of which Rome is destined to crumble away: “Christians, receive no other doctrines than those which are founded on the express words of Jesus Christ, His apostles, and prophets. No man, no assembly of doctors, are entitled to prescribe new doctrines.”

WILLIAM ARNOT (1808-1875): In the times immediately after the Reformation, when the word of God was new to the people, it was much valued…They were not ashamed of their deliverer: all classes felt and acknowledged their obligations to the Bible. In this respect our lot has fallen on worse times: direct appeal to the Scriptures seems to be counted a violation of taste.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Another form which the modern attitude sometimes takes is the suggestion that those of us who are Conservative Evangelicals are “Bibliolators,” that is, we put the Scriptures in the place of the Lord. Their own authority, these critics tell us, is not the Scriptures, but the Lord Himself.
       Now this sounds very impressive and very imposing at first, as if they were but stating that for which we ourselves are contending. It sounds as if it were a highly spiritual position until, again, you begin to examine it carefully. The obvious questions to put to those who make such statements are these: “How do you know the Lord? What do you know about the Lord, apart from the Scriptures? Where do you find Him? How do you know that what you seem to have experienced concerning Him is not a figment of your own imagination, or not the product of some abnormal psychological state, or not the work perchance of some occult power or evil spirit?” It sounds all very impressive and imposing when they say “I go directly to the Lord Himself.”

JOHN CALVIN: When, therefore, false spirits pretend the name of God, we must inquire from the Scriptures whether things are so.

WILLIAM ARNOT (1808-1875): It is refreshing to observe how the early Reformers appealed to the Scriptures as the supreme arbiter.

J. H. MERLE d’AUBIGNÉ: “How is it possible,” asked the Reformers, “to distinguish between what is human in tradition, and what is divine, unless by the Scriptures of God?”

E. W. BULLINGER (1837-1913): It was the one great question which underlay all others at the Reformation. For, what was the Reformation in its essence? Was it not just the abandonment of human authority for Divine authority?

J. H. MERLE d’AUBIGNÉ: The Reformers and the Apostles held up the Word of God alone for light, just as they hold up the sacrifice of Christ alone for righteousness. To attempt to mix human authority with this absolute authority of God, or human righteousness with this perfect righteousness of Christ, is to corrupt Christianity in its two foundations.

HUGH LATIMER (1483-1555): Let us beware of the bypaths of human tradition, filled of stones, brambles, and uprooted trees. Let us follow the straight road of the Word.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): We hold it a sin to “take for doctrines the commandments of men,” Colossians 2:22; Titus 1:14. We give no heed to the traditions that are handed down to us. If our opponent cannot quote text or verse for anything he advances, we hold no argument with him.

CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): The most exquisite deceivers are they, who under the shadow of religion do set forth men’s traditions.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): If a teaching is opposed to Scripture, whatever be its origin—traditions, custom, kings, sophists, Satan, or even an angel from heaven—all from whom it proceeds must be accursed.

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): It has ever been a special design of Satan to lead God’s people away from Scripture. He will use anything and everything—tradition, the church so-called, expediency, human reason, popular opinion, reputation and influence, character, position, and usefulness—all those he will use to get the heart and conscience away from that one golden sentence—that divine, eternal motto, “It is written.”

C. H. SPURGEON: Thus, our Lord gave His opponents Scripture instead of tradition.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: It is always wrong to put tradition before truth―the Scripture is our sole authority, our only authority, I say this to emphasize that we do not accept tradition as an authority in any sense of that term.

WILLIAM C. BURNS: Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught―not the traditions of men, not the traditions of Rome, not the traditions of your fathers, Christ’s faithful martyrs though they were. No―your faith lies here, within the boards of this Book.

AUGUSTINE (354-430): The faith will totter if the authority of the Holy Scriptures loses its hold on men. We must surrender ourselves to the authority of Holy Scripture, for it can neither mislead nor be misled.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: We believe the Bible. We take it authoritatively. We don’t impose our philosophies and ideas upon it, and we’re the only people who are doing this. God has given us this solemn task of guarding and protecting and defending this faith, in this present evil age in which we find ourselves. But, my friends, we’re not only the guardians and custodians of the faith of the Bible itself. We are the representatives and the successors of the glorious men who fought this same fight, the good fight of faith in centuries past. We are standing in the position of the Protestant Reformers. Are we accepting this modern idea that the Reformation was the greatest tragedy that ever happened?

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Never forget the principles of the Protestant Reformation―and let nothing tempt you to forsake them.

 

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Roman Catholicism – The Great Church of Human Tradition

Mark 7:5-7,13
      Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?
      He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men…Making the word of God of none effect through your traditions which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): The doctrine of the Pharisees may be summed up in three words—they were formalists, tradition-worshippers, and self-righteous. They attached such weight to the traditions of men that they practically regarded them of more importance than the inspired writings of the Old Testament.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): They observed the traditions of the elders, were still adding to them; and the consequence was―as it will always be in such a case―that they were so pleased with their own inventions, as to prefer them to the positive commands of God.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): They enforced the observation of their own impositions as much as of God’s institutions…Where will men stop, when once they have made the word of God give way to their tradition?

J. C. RYLE: All this time, be it remembered, they did not formally deny any part of the Old Testament Scripture. But they brought in, over and above it, so much of human invention, that they virtually put Scripture aside, and buried it under their own traditions. This is the sort of religion, of which our Lord says to the Apostles, “take heed and beware,” Mark 8:15. How awful the picture of Scribes and Pharisees, and their religion! But who can wonder? The Scripture was made of none effect by man’s traditions―Do we not see the same thing coming out in after times, in the form of Romanism?

J. H. MERLE d’AUBIGNÉ (1794-1872): Rome places human tradition above the Word of God.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Roman Catholicism puts the Church, its tradition and its interpretation of Scripture first…Protestantism teaches the “universal priesthood of all believers” and the right of every man to read the Scripture for himself and to interpret it under the illumination of the Holy Spirit. Rome denies that completely and absolutely…She does not believe, as true Protestants do, that revelation ended with what we have in the New Testament. She claims a continuing and a continuous revelation. She therefore does not hesitate to say that you must add to the truth in the Scriptures. While saying that the Bible is the Word of God, she claims that her tradition, which she adds on, is equally authoritative and equally binding.

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): They reproach and defame the Scripture, calling it an uncertain thing, a dead letter, an insufficient guide of itself, without their tradition.

E. J. POOLE-CONNOR (1872-1962): The matter is nothing short of vital―where is authority for the Christian faith to be found? “In the Scriptures, plus tradition and Papal decrees,” replies the Romanist.

HUGH LATIMER (1483-1555): They make a mingling of the way of God and man’s way together; a mingle-mangle, as men serve pigs in my country―they mingle-mangle the Word with man’s invention and traditions…If they say, “This was done by a council, determined in a council;” what is it the better, if the council be wicked?

E. W. BULLINGER (1837-1913): After exploring several special objects in the [Vatican] Library…[I] was examining the ceiling, which was arched and was very gaudily painted with pictures of all the Councils of the Church from the Council of Nicea to that of the Council of Trent…In the first, that of the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D., no prelate or potentate occupies the chair. The Bishop of Rome and the Emperor Constantine both declined to preside, and the Bible is placed on the chair. In the succeeding pictures man becomes more and more prominent, the Bible more and more insignificant. In the second picture, it is placed by the side of the chair; and it gets smaller and smaller; until, at the Council of Trent in 1545 A.D., it vanishes altogether. This is―though doubtless undesigned―a fitting symbolical representation of the relations between the Church and the Bible! As the one increases in authority, the authority of the other decreases.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): The ungodly papists prefer the authority of the church far above God’s Word; a blasphemy abominable and not to be endured…These adulators put the pope above Scripture and say that he cannot err. In that case Scripture perishes, and nothing is left in the Church save the word of man.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Religion based on human authority is worthless―doctrines and ordinances are only to be accepted when the divine Word supports them, and they are to be accepted for that reason only.

C. H. MACKINTOSH: There is no other foundation of faith but this; and the faith that rests on any other is not true faith at all. A faith resting on human tradition—on the authority of the Church—on the authority of so-called general councils—on the clergy—or on learned men, is not divine faith, but mere superstition; it is a faith which stands “in the wisdom of men,” and not “in the power of God,” I Corinthians 2:5.

C. H. SPURGEON: Thus, our Lord gave his opponents Scripture instead of tradition.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Let not authority from man, but evidence from the Word, conclude thy judgment; that is but a shore, this a foundation. Quote the Scripture rather than men for thy judgment.

RICHARD SIBBES (1577-1635): Too much respect to man was one of the inlets of popery.

C. H. SPURGEON: We think too much of God’s foes and talk of them with too much respect. Who is this pope of Rome? His Holiness? Call him not so, but call him His Blasphemy! His Profanity! His Impudence! What are he and his cardinals, and his legates, but the image and incarnation of Antichrist, to be in due time cast with the beast and the false prophet into the lake of fire?

MARTIN LUTHER: I once said that the pope was the vicar of Christ; now, I say that he is the enemy of the Lord, and the apostle of the devil…Our unthankfulness for, and light esteem of God’s Word, will do more than anything to help the pope into the saddle again―the state of the church was terrible under the pope.

C. H. SPURGEON: Holy Scripture must be our weapon against the Church of traditions: nothing will overthrow Rome but the Word of the Lord.

MARTIN LUTHER: It was by the Word the world was overcome, by the Word the church has been saved, and by the Word will she be re-established.

 

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The Necessity of True Christian Zeal in Evil Times

Titus 2:11-14
       For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): The Syriac version renders it, “a new people.” And they who are redeemed and purified by Christ, through the power of his grace upon them, become a people “zealous of good works;” not in order to [gain] their justification and salvation, but in obedience to the will of God, and to testify their subjection and gratitude to Him, and for His honour and glory, and for the credit of religion, and the good of men. These not only perform them, but perform them from principles of truth and love, and with a zeal for the glory of God, and the honour of his Gospel.

GEORGE SWINNOCK (1627-1673): Zeal is the heat or tension of the affections; it is a holy warmth, whereby our love and anger are drawn out to the utmost for God, and His glory.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): It maketh us spare no cost, yea, it judgeth that best done for God which costs us most, as David would not serve God with that which cost nothing, 2 Samuel 24:25. That is worth nothing that cost nothing in religion…Therefore they that will be at no cost for Christ, maintaining His truth, upholding His worship, relieving His people, have no zeal.

WILLIAM S. PLUMER (1802-1880): He who has no zeal has no love to God.

JOHN ROBINSON (1575-1625): As nothing lives without natural heat; so neither does he live the life of Christ indeed who is destitute of Christian zeal to warm him in his affections and actions―especially in the matter of God’s worship and service; in which, whether wrong or right, lukewarmness is odious and loathsome. The Lord will spue out of His mouth the lukewarm, Revelation 3:16.

THOMAS WILSON (1601-1653): Lukewarm men call zeal fury; God’s Spirit names it a “live coal,” that hath a most vehement flame, Isaiah 6:6.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): A childlike heart is a zealous heart. It is impatient of God’s dishonour. Moses was cool in his own cause, but hot in God’s. When the people of Israel had wrought folly in the golden calf, he broke the tables. As we shall answer for idle words, so we shall answer for sinful silence. It is dangerous in this sense to be possessed with a dumb devil. David says that the zeal of God’s house had eaten him up, Psalm 69:9. Many Christians, whose zeal once had almost eaten them up, now they have eaten up their zeal. Let some talk of bitterness, but I can never believe that he has the heart of a child in him, that can be patient when God’s glory suffers…Though we should be silent under God’s displeasure, we must not be silent under His dishonour.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): And I am sure zealous lovers of truth count it as melancholy living in evil times, when that is fallen in the streets.

THOMAS MANTON: Oh! we should not let one dust of truth perish. This is to be zealous for the truth, standing to, and striving for the defence thereof, in our way and place. If God had not raised up zealous instruments in every age to plead for his truth, what a sad case would the church have been in? Truth would have been buried under a great heap of prejudices, and Christ’s kingdom have been crushed in the very egg, and religion strangled in the cradle. But there is a cloud of witnesses gone before us.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): It is desirable to enlist the feelings on the side of truth and excellence. Impulse is useful and even necessary to exertion and success; but in proportion to its force, it requires guidance, if not restraint. It is good to be always zealously affected in a good thing; but, without knowledge, zeal may even in a good cause carry us astray; so that our good may be evil spoken of, and even produce evil…We are not therefore pleading for a zeal without knowledge; but we are not satisfied with a knowledge without zeal.

ASAHEL NETTLETON (1783-1844): Zeal without prudence will defeat its own end. Zeal, untempered with love and compassion for souls, will soon degenerate into harshness and cruelty of manner and expression, which will have no other effect on an audience than scolding, or even profane swearing.

THOMAS MANTON: The true cause of holy zeal is love to God and what belongs to God…It quickens us to our duty, and makes us publicly active for God: Galatians 4:18, It is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing. Oh! how remiss and sluggish would we be otherwise in matters of God’s kingdom and glory, if we had not a strong degree of love to stir us up to appear for God, in the worst times, and in the way and places that is proper for us! Paul, when he saw the whole city given to idolatry, it is said, his “spirit was stirred in him,” Acts 17:16; he could not contain; and again, Acts 18:5, Paul “was pressed in spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.”

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): I doubt not the warmth of his zeal, in this respect, has disgusted many in the present day, wherein a seeming candour and forbearance is pleaded for and extended to almost every sentiment, except the truths in which Paul gloried. There is little doubt but many, if they had the courage and honesty to speak out, would add Paul himself to the list of those whom they despise as uncharitable and hot-brained bigots; for who has offended more than he against the rules of that indifference to error which is at present is miscalled charity?

JOHN ROBINSON: Worldly wise men despise zeal, as prejudicial to wisdom and discretion.

THOMAS MANTON: Zeal for God is so little understood by men of the world, that it always draws down opposition upon those who are inspired with it; they are sure to be accused of sinister motives, or of hypocrisy, or being out of their senses.

THOMAS WILSON: Festus called Paul mad with a loud voice, when he spoke but words of truth and soberness, Acts 26:24,25. Christ’s kinsmen thought that he was beside himself, Mark 3:21.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Lastly, let us be zealous: “Let not thy hands be slack,” Zephaniah 3:16. Now is the time when every Christian should do more for God than ever. Let us plan great things for God, and let us expect great things from God. “Let not thine hands be slack.”

SELINA HASTINGS, COUNTESS OF HUNTINGDON (1707-1791): None know how to prize Christ but those who are zealous in good works.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): Has God wrought in you a spirit of zeal and love? Has He wrought in you a love to His name, and a zeal for His cause?

 

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True Christian Meditation is not Contemplative Mysticism

Psalm 1:2; Psalm 119:99; Psalm 39:3,4
       His delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
       I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation.
      My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue, LORD, make me to know my end.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): King David was fond of retirement, and was much alone in meditation and prayer.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): Let us inquire what meditation is, because the practice and knowledge of the duty is almost become a stranger to us.

R. C. CHAPMAN (1803-1902): Meditation on the Word of God is the chief means of our growth in grace.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): The word meditate implies a deep, and serious, and affectionate thoughtfulness about it: see Psalm 19:14; Psalm 49:3; Proverbs 24:2; Isaiah 33:18.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): It is not a few transient thoughts that are quickly gone.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Meditation is a studious act of the mind, searching the knowledge of a hidden truth by the discourse of reason. A most sweet exercise to those that are any with acquainted with it, who could even wish themselves pent up in voluntary prison-walls of divine meditation. This―this is that which makes a man see far into God’s secrets, and enjoy both God and himself with unspeakable comfort.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): What we love we love to think of; by this it appeared that David loved the Word of God, that it was his meditation.

THOMAS MANTON: But mark, first, the Word was his delight, and then his meditation.

THOMAS WATSON: How shall we be able to meditate? Get a love for spiritual things…Many say they cannot meditate because they lack memory; but is it not rather because they lack affection? If they loved the things of God, they would make them their continual study and meditation.

THOMAS MANTON: Delight causeth meditation, and meditation increaseth delight. A man that delighteth in the law of God, will exercise his mind therein. Our thoughts follow our affections. He that findeth a heart to this work, will find a head. Delight will set the mind at work; for we are more apt to muse and pause upon that which is pleasing to us. Why are not holy thoughts as natural and as kindly to us as carnal? The defect is in the heart.

STEPHEN CHARNOCK (1628-1680): A natural man is said not to know God, or the things of God; he may know them notionally, but he knows them not affectionately. A sensual soul can have no delight in a spiritual law. To be sensual and not to have the Spirit are inseparable, Jude 19. Natural men may indeed meditate upon the law and truth of God, but without delight in it; if they take any pleasure in it, it is only as it is knowledge, not as it is a rule…and if they have a delight, it is not in the duties that stream from that knowledge; they design the furnishing of their understandings, not the quickening of their affections—like idle boys that strike fire, not to warm themselves by the heat, but to sport themselves with the sparks. Whereas, a gracious soul accounts not only his meditation, or the operations of his soul about God and His will to be sweet, but He hath a joy in the object of that meditation. Many have the knowledge of God, who have no delight in Him or His will.

THOMAS MANTON: Meditation is in order to practice; and if it be right, it will beget a respect to the ways of God. We do not meditate, that we may rest in contemplation, but in order to obedience: “Thou shalt meditate in the book of the law day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein,” Joshua 1:8. So, “think of these things, do these things,” Philippians 4:8,9…Meditation is not a flourishing of the wit, that we may please the fancy by playing with divine truths―nor yet acquainting ourselves with the Word, that we may speak of it in company―nor merely to store ourselves with curious notions, and subtle inquiries; study searcheth out a truth, but meditation improveth it for practical use…In hiding the word in our hearts there must be a right end; our knowledge of it, and delight in it, must be directed to practice.

THOMAS WATSON: Meditation produces reformation. I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto Thy testimonies, Psalm 119:59.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Meditation is the machine in which the raw material of knowledge is converted to the best uses. By reading, research, and study, we gather the grapes; but it is by meditation we press out the juice of those grapes, and obtain the wine.

JOHN TRAPP: Make the best of what you read, by serious and set meditation thereupon. David hereby became wiser than his teachers, elders, and enemies, Psalm 119:98-100. And why? When the Lord spake once he heard him twice, Psalm 72:11―to wit, by an after-meditation.

THOMAS WATSON: As the bee sucks the flower, so by meditation we suck out the sweetness of a truth. It is not the receiving the meat into the mouth, but the digesting of it which makes it nutritional.

C. H. SPURGEON: Meditation is of all things the most soul-fattening when combined with prayer.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): From meditation go to prayer. Indeed, a soul in meditation is on his way to prayer; that duty leads the Christian to this, and this brings help to that.

THOMAS WATSON: Meditation is a help to prayer. Gerson calls it the nurse of prayer. Meditation is like oil to the lamp; the lamp of prayer will soon go out unless meditation cherish and support it. Meditation and prayer are like two [turtle-doves]―if you separate one the other dies…Meditation hath a double benefit in it―it pours in and pours out; first it pours good thoughts into the mind, and then it pours out those thoughts again into prayer; meditation first furnisheth with matter to pray and then it furnisheth with a heart to pray. “I was musing,” saith David, and the very next words are a prayer, “Lord, make me to know mine end.”

RICHARD BAXTER (1615-1691): When we read, that Isaac went out to meditate in the field, Genesis 24:63, the margin says to pray, for the Hebrew word signifies both…And our speaking to ourselves in meditation, should go before our speaking to God in prayer.

THOMAS WATSON: Prayer is the child of meditation: meditation leads the van, and prayer brings up the rear.

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): Meditation is the grand means of our growth in grace; without it, prayer itself is an empty service.

C. H. SPURGEON: Why remain a babe in grace? Grow up…The Puritans were abundant in meditation and prayer; and there were giants on the earth in those days.

 

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Sanctified Thought Control

Psalm 94:11; Proverbs 24:9; Jeremiah 4:14; Psalm 119:113
       The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity.
       The thought of foolishness is sin.
       How long shall vain thoughts lodge within thee?
       I hate vain thoughts; but thy law do I love.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Here we have, David’s dread of the risings of sin, and the first beginnings of it: I hate vain thoughts. He does not mean that he hated them in others, for there he could not discern them, but he hated them in his own heart. Every good man makes conscience of his thoughts, for they are words to God. Vain thoughts, how light soever most make of them, are sinful and hurtful, and therefore we should account them hateful and dreadful, for they not only divert the mind from that which is good but open the door to all evil, Jeremiah 4:14.

WILLIAM SECKER (died 1681): Vain thoughts defile the heart as well as vile thoughts.

THOMAS GOODWIN (1600-1679): Let us see what vanity is.
It is taken for unprofitableness. So, Ecclesiastes 1:2,3, “All is vanity,” because there is “no profit in them under the sun.” Vanity is taken for lightness. “Lighter than vanity,” is a phrase used, Psalm 62:9; and whom is it spoken of?―Of men; and if anything in them be lighter than other, it is their thoughts, which swim in the uppermost parts, float at the top, are as the scum of the heart. When all the best, and wisest, and deepest, and solidest thoughts in Belshazzar, a prince, were weighed, they were found too light, Daniel 5:27. Vanity is put for folly. So, Proverbs 12:11, “vain men” is made all one with men “void of understanding.” Vanity is put for inconstancy and frailty; therefore vanity and a shadow are made synonymous, Psalm 144:4. Such are our thoughts, flitting and perishing, as bubbles: “All their thoughts perish.” Lastly, they are wicked and sinful. Vanity is yoked with wickedness, and vain men and sons of Belial are all one, 2 Chronicles 13:7.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): The thought of foolishness is sin; not only the thought of wickedness, but foolishness. Thoughts are the firstborn of the soul, the immediate issues of the mind; yet we lavish them away upon every trifle. Follow men all the day long, and take account of their thoughts. Oh! what madness and folly are in all the musings they are conscious of―If we did judge as God judges, all the thoughts, reasonings, discourses of the mind, if they were set down in a table, we might write at the bottom, Here is the sum and total account of all: nothing but vanity.

STEPHEN CHARNOCK (1628-1680): What a mass of vanity should we find in our minds, if we could bring our thoughts in the space of one day, even only one hour, to account? How many foolish thoughts with our wisdom, ignorant thoughts with our knowledge, worldly thoughts with our heavenliness, hypocritical thoughts with our religion, and proud thoughts with our humiliations? Our hearts would be like a grotto, furnished with monstrous and ridiculous pictures; or as the wall in Ezekiel’s vision portrayed with every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, Ezekiel 8:10-12.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Some of our thoughts are specially vain in the sense of vain glory, pride, conceit, and self trust; others in the sense of bringing disappointment, such as fond ambition, sinful dreaming, and confidence in man; others in the sense of emptiness and frivolity, such as the idle thoughts and vacant romancing in which so many indulge; and, yet once more, too many of our thoughts are vain in the sense of being sinful, evil, and foolish.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Mark, David doth not say he is free from vain thoughts, but he “hates” them, he likes their company no better than one would a pack of thieves that break into his house.

MATTHEW HENRY: He hated them; he did not countenance them, nor give them any entertainment, but did what he could to keep them out, or at least to keep them under.

THOMAS SCOTT (1747-1821): The spiritual mind recoils at them; such thoughts will intrude from time to time, but they are unwelcome and distressing, and are immediately thrust out; while other subjects, from the word of God, are stored up in readiness to occupy the mind more profitably and pleasantly during the hours of leisure and retirement. There is no better test of our true character, than the habitual effect of “vain thoughts” upon our minds―whether we love and indulge them, or abhor, and watch and pray against them.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): A godly man may have roving thoughts in duty. Sad experience proves this; the thoughts will be dancing up and down in prayer…The heart is like quicksilver which will not fix. It is hard to tie two good thoughts together; we cannot lock our hearts so close, but that distracting thoughts, like wind, will get in.

THOMAS MANTON: Vain thoughts will be more ready with us, unless the word dwell richly in our hearts; “A good man, out of the good treasure of his heart, bringeth forth good things: and an evil man, out of the evil treasure, bringeth forth evil things,” Matthew 12:35. The workings of our spirits are as our treasure and stock. The mind works upon what it finds in itself, as a mill grinds whatsoever is put into it, be it chaff or corn. Therefore, if we would prevent wicked thoughts, and musings of vanity all the day long, we must hide the Word in our heart.

CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): Let the Word be kept “in the midst of the heart,” Proverbs 4:20-22.

ANDREW FULLER (1754-1815): The heart cannot be reduced to a vacuum; if spiritual things do not occupy it, carnal things will…Hence we see the force of the wise man’s precept, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life,” Proverbs 4:23. Look well to the fountain, or the streams will in vain be expected to be pure. To watch our words and actions to the neglect of our hearts will be unavailing.

WILLIAM ARNOT (1808-1875): First the fountain, then the streams: first the heart, then the life-course…The same prescription for the same disease occurs in that great hymn of Hebrews, Psalm 119:11, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

MATTHEW HENRY: Thy law do I love,” which forbids those vain thoughts, and threatens them. The more we love the law of God the more we shall get the mastery of our vain thoughts, the more hateful they will be to us, as being contrary to the whole law, and the more watchful we shall be against them, lest they draw us from that which we love.

J. C. PHILPOT (1802-1869): Now if you carried about with you a deep and daily sense that God saw every thought, marked every movement, heard every word, and observed every action, this sense of His presence would put a restraint upon your light, trifling, and foolish spirit. You would watch your thoughts, your words, your actions, as living under a sense of God’s heart-searching eye.

 

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Evil Thoughts & Wicked Imaginations

I Chronicles 28:9; Ezekiel 11:5; Genesis 6:5
       The LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts.
       I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them.
      And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Nothing is quite so fallacious as to think of sin only in terms of actions; and as long as we think of sin only in terms of things actually done, we fail to understand it…Thoughts, motives, and desires are equally important―Take that statement: “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries,” and so on, Matthew 15:19―Our Lord always includes evil thoughts with murders, and such things as strife, enmity, deceit, and many other things which we do not regard as being such terrible, foul sins.

THOMAS GOODWIN (1600-1679): Our greatest sins are those of the mind.

STEPHEN CHARNOCK (1628-1680): As good thoughts and purposes are acts in God’s accounts, so are bad ones.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Peter lays the accent of Magus’s sin on the wicked thought, which his words betrayed to be in his heart: “Pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee,” Acts 8:22.

JOHN ROBINSON (1575-1625): Men judge of our thoughts by our works and actions, but God judges our words and works by our thoughts; accounting the thing whether good, or evil, as done in His sight, if once it be resolved on in the purpose of the heart.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): It is the earnest wish or desire of the soul, which, in a variety of cases, constitutes the good or evil of an act. If a man earnestly wish to commit an evil, but cannot, because God puts time, place, and opportunity out of his power, he is fully chargeable with the iniquity of the act.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): There is such a thing as heart-adultery―adulterous thoughts and dispositions, which never proceed to the act of adultery or fornication.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Whosoever looketh upon a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart, Matthew 5:28. Did not our Lord emphasize that when He said, in effect, “As long as you are not guilty of physical adultery you think you are all right. But I ask, What about your heart? What about your thoughts?”

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): It was not any looking upon a woman, that is forbid by Christ as criminal; but so to look, as “to lust after her.”

STEPHEN CHARNOCK: All vice arises from imagination―a man has neither strength nor opportunity always to act, but he may always think, and imagination can supply the place of action…A man may in complacent thought commit fornication with a woman in Spain, in a covetous thought rob another in the Indies, and in a revengeful thought stab a third in America; and that while he is sitting in a pew. An unclean person may commit a mental folly with every beauty he meets.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: It is sin in the heart; sin in the mind!

WILLIAM GURNALL: Wanton objects cause wanton thoughts. Job knew his eye and his thoughts were like to go together, and therefore to secure one he covenants with the other, Job 31:1, “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Let me say a word about the subtlety of sin…Think of the clever way in which it insinuates itself into the mind. There are highly respectable men and women who would never dream of committing an act of adultery, but look at the way in which they enjoy sinning in the mind and in the imagination.

STEPHEN CHARNOCK: Let me add this too, that sin in thoughts is more simply sin―outward acts are but the sprouts; the sap and juice lies in the wicked imagination or contrivance, which has the strength in it to produce a thousand fruits [just] as poisonous.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): The sins that do most usually engross and take up our thoughts are,
First, Uncleanness. There is a polluting ourselves by our thoughts, and this sin usually works that way.
Secondly, Revenge. 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.
Thirdly, Envy. It is a sin that feeds upon the mind. Those songs of the women, that Saul had slain his thousands, but David his ten thousands, they ran in Saul’s mind, therefore he hated David, I Samuel 18:9. Envy is an evil disease that dwelleth in the heart, and betrays itself mostly in thoughts.
Fourthly, Pride. Either pride in the desires or pride in the mind, either vain glory or self conceit; this is entertaining our hearts with whispers of vanity―proud men are full of imaginations.
Fifthly, Covetousness, which is nothing but vain musings and exercises of the heart: “A heart they have exercised with covetous practices,” 2 Peter 2:14. And it withdraws the heart in the very time of God’s worship: “Their heart goeth after their covetousness,” Ezekiel 33:31.
Sixthly, Distrust is another thing which usually takes up our thoughts―distracting motions against God’s providence.

WILLIAM GURNALL: Walk in the company of sinful thoughts all the day, and thou wilt hardly shut the door upon them…Thou hast taught them to be bold; they will now plead acquaintance with thee, and crowd in after thee, like little children who, if you play with them, will cry after you when you would be rid of their company.

C. H. SPURGEON: Certain insects assume the colour of the leaves they feed upon; and they are but emblems of a great law of our being: our minds take the hue of the subjects whereon they think. As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he, Proverbs 23:7.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: A man once said that the best definition of religion was this: “Religion is that which a man does with his own solitude.” In other words, if you want to know what you really are, you can find the answer when you are alone with your thoughts and desires and imaginations.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): How solemn is this fact: nothing can be concealed from God! “For I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them.”

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): Thy thoughts are vocal to God.

 

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Franken-Self: the Monster that Man Made of Himself

Genesis 2:16,17; Genesis 3:4-6
      And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
      And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desire to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

SAMUEL RUTHERFORD (1600-1661): What made Eve miscarry? And what hurried her headlong upon the forbidden fruit, but that wretched thing―herself?

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Self was responsible for the fall. But for it, sin would never have entered into the world. The devil was subtle enough to know its power, so he put it in terms of self. He said, “God is not being fair to you; you have a legitimate grudge and a grievance.” And man agreed, and that was the whole cause of the fall.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): These were the baits with which Satan covered his hook. Your eyes shall be opened―“ye shall have much more of the power and pleasure of contemplation than now you have; you shall fetch a compass in your intellectual views, and see further into things than now you do.” He speaks as if now they were but dim sighted, in comparison of what they would be then. Ye shall be as gods―or, “ye shall be as God Himself, equal to Him, rivals with Him; you shall be sovereigns and no longer subjects, self-sufficient and no longer dependent.” A most absurd suggestion!

STEPHEN CHARNOCK (1628-1680): The great controversy between God and man hath [always] been, whether He or they shall be God; whether His reason or theirs, His will or theirs, shall be the guiding principle. As grace is the union of the will of God and the will of the creature, so sin is the opposition of the will of self to the will of God; “Leaning to our own understanding,” is opposed as a natural evil to “trusting in the Lord,” a supernatural grace, Proverbs 3:5. Men commonly love what is their own, their own inventions, their own fancies; therefore the ways of a wicked man are called the “ways of his own heart,” and the ways of a superstitious man his own devices, Jeremiah 18:11: “We will walk after our own devices,”―we will be a law to ourselves.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Self always means defiance of God; it always means that I put myself on the throne instead of God, and therefore it is always something that separates me from Him.

STEPHEN CHARNOCK: It was not the eating a forbidden apple, or the pleasing of his palate that Adam aimed at, or was the chief object of his desire, but [it was] to live independently of his Creator, and be a God to himself…God had ordered man by this prohibition not to eat of the fruit of the “tree of knowledge of good and evil” not to attempt the knowledge of good and evil of himself, but to wait upon the dictates of God; not to trust to his own counsels, but depend wholly upon Him for direction and guidance. Certainly he that would not hold off his hand from so small a thing as an apple, when he had his choice of the fruit of the garden, would not have denied himself anything his appetite had desired, when that principle had prevailed upon him; he would not have stuck at a greater matter to pleasure himself with the displeasing of God, when for so small a thing he would incur the anger of His Creator. Thus he would deify his own understanding against the wisdom of God, and his own appetite against the will of God.

WILLIAM ARNOT (1808-1875): I know not any point in the whole circumference of duty on which the human mind makes a more obstinate stand than here, against the authority of God. The determination to be our own master, and do what he liked with himself, seems to have been the very essence of the sin which constituted man’s fall, and still animates the fallen. “Who is lord over us?” is the watch-word of the life-long battle.

THOMAS GOODWIN (1600-1679): Self is the most abominable principle that ever was.

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): That household god―a man’s own self.

STEPHEN CHARNOCK: Self is the great antichrist and anti-God in the world, that sets up itself above all that is called God; self-love is the captain of that black band, 2 Timothy 3:2, For men shall be lovers of themselves―it sits in the temple of God, and would be adored as God.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): The master-sin of man is independence of God.

STEPHEN CHARNOCK: This self-love and desire of independency of God has been the root of all sin in the world.

SAMUEL RUTHERFORD: What drew that brother-murderer to kill Abel? That wild himself. What drove the old world on to corrupt their ways? Who but themselves and their own pleasure? What was the cause of Solomon’s falling into idolatry and multiplying of strange wives? What but himself, whom he would rather pleasure than God? What was the hook that took David and snared him first in adultery, but his self-lust; and then in murder, but his self-credit and self-honour? What led Peter on to deny his Lord? Was it not a piece of himself, and self-love to a whole skin? What made Judas sell his Master for thirty pieces of money, but a piece of self-love, the idolizing of avaricious self? What made Demas to go off the way of the Gospel to embrace this present world? Even self-love, and love of gain for himself. Every man blameth the devil for his sins, but the great devil, the house-devil of every man, the house-devil that eateth and lieth in every man’s bosom, is that idol that killeth all, himself.

RICHARD BAXTER (1615-1691): Ourselves are the greatest snares to ourselves.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): Worst of all my foes, I fear the enemy within.

D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): I have more trouble with D. L. Moody than with any man I ever met.

SAMUEL RUTHERFORD: Alas! that idol, that whorish creature, myself, is the master-idol we all bow to. O, if I could be master of that house-idol, myself―my own, mine, my own will, wit, credit, and ease, how blessed were I! O, but we have need to be redeemed from ourselves rather than from the devil and the world; learn to put out yourselves, and to put in Christ for yourselves.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): Dear Lord, the idol self dethrone, and from our hearts remove.

THOMAS BROOKS (1608-1680): Deliver me, O Lord, from that evil man―myself.

 

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Preachers that God Commissions are Given Preaching Gifts

Isaiah 61:1-3
       The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): This passage ought to be carefully observed, for no man can claim right or authority to teach unless he show that he has been prompted to it by the Spirit of God.

CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): We cannot suppose the Lord will send unqualified labourers, however willing, into His vineyard: and none but He can qualify them.

WILLIAM FAREL (1489-1565): If the church be God’s husbandry, then those that be employed in ministerial work ought to be men of great judgment and experience in soul affairs; for these are the labourers whom God, the mystical Husbandman employs and entrusts about His spiritual husbandry. Should a husbandman employ ignorant persons, that neither understand the rules nor proper seasons of husbandry? He will not employ such to weed his fields, as know not wheat from tares; or to prune his trees, that think midsummer as fit for that work as December: much less will God. He qualifies all that He sends with a wisdom for their work. His workman approve themselves workmen indeed, such as need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth, 2 Timothy 2:15.

JOHN CALVIN: Gifts come before the office to be discharged.

WILLIAM FAREL: As Bezaleel was furnished with wisdom before he was employed in tabernacle-work, Exodus 31:1-5, so Christ instructs His servants with skill and insight, before they are employed in ministerial work. He gives them a mouth and wisdom, Luke 21:15, and endows them with power from on high. As Christ was filled abundantly with the Spirit for His work, so, according to proportion, are those that are sent by Him; As my Father hath sent me, so send I you, John 20:21,22. And as for those that run before they are sent, and understand not the mysteries of the gospel; I shall say no more of them but this: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

JOHN CALVIN: True pastors do not rashly thrust themselves forward by their own judgment, but are raised up by the Lord.

A. W. TOZER (1897-1963): I cannot recall, in any of my reading, a single instance of a prophet who applied for the job.

JOHN CALVIN: When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men…And he gave unto some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, Ephesians 4:8,11,12.
      It may excite surprise, that, when the gifts of the Holy Spirit form the subject of discussion Paul should enumerate offices instead of gifts. I reply, when men are called by God, gifts are necessarily connected with offices. God does not confer on men the mere name of Apostles or Pastors, but also endows them with gifts, without which they cannot properly discharge their office. He whom God has appointed to be an apostle does not bear an empty and useless title; for the divine command, and the ability to perform it, go together…Another inference is, that no man will be fit or qualified for so distinguished an office who has not been formed and moulded by the hand of Christ Himself.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): I have made thee a watchman, Ezekiel 3:17. Here we read a true account of the making of a minister. God alone can do it. Two things are absolutely requisite to make a man a preacher.
      1. Special gifts—such as perception of truth, simplicity, aptness to impart instruction, some degree of eloquence, and intense earnestness.
      2. Special call. Every man who is rightly in the ministry must have been moved thereto of the Holy Ghost.

WILLIAM S. PLUMER (1802-1880): God alone can call any man into the ministry. This is a divine prerogative. No sovereign would allow another to appoint his ministers. The Sovereign of the universe calls to Him whom He will.

OLIVER CROMWELL (1599-1658): He that ascended up on high may give His gifts to whom He pleases: and if these gifts be the seal of commission, be not envious though Eldad and Medad prophesy, Numbers 11:27. You know who bids us to covet earnestly the best gifts, but chiefly that we may prophesy―which the Apostle explains there to be a speaking to instruction and edification and comfort. Approbation―[man’s ordination and appointment]―is an act of conveniency in respect of order; not of necessity, to give the faculty to preach the Gospel.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): We must not limit the Holy One of Israel. He will sometimes take a man out of our rules, and give him acceptance and success. And we must receive a Bunyan as well as an Owen. When will persons allow God to work in His own way, and learn that, because one thing is right, another need not be wrong?

JOHN CALVIN: If, therefore, having been appointed by the Lord, he abounds in the graces of the Spirit and the ability which the calling demands, he actually has the Spirit.

G. CAMPBELL MORGAN (1863-1945): The only way in which a man can possibly enter the ministry is when the Holy Spirit of God bestows upon a him a gift from the Head of the Church. By that gift he is made a minister of Jesus Christ. It means this, He will never call a man to preach who has no natural ability for preaching. I am afraid we often do―He never does.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): There is only one thing to say about this; it cannot be taught. That is impossible. Preachers are born, not made. This is an absolute. You will never teach a man to be a preacher if he is not already one…I would say that a dull preacher is a contradiction in terms; if he is dull he is not a preacher.

JOHN CALVIN: How, then, shall we judge that any man has been sent by God, and is guided by His Spirit? By “anointing”―that is, if he is endowed with the gifts which are necessary for that office.

VERNON J. CHARLESWORTH (1839-1915): A lady once requested Rowland Hill to examine her son as a candidate for the ministry, remarking, “I am sure he has a talent, but it is hid in a napkin.” At the close of the interview with the young man, Mr. Hill said, “Well, madam, I have shaken the napkin, and I cannot find the talent.”

 

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The Sudden, Surprising Sovereignty of God in True Revival

2 Chronicles 29:36; 30:1
       And Hezekiah rejoiced, and all the people, that God had prepared the people: for thing was done suddenly. And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, to keep the Passover unto the Lord God of Israel.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): A great revival took place in the days of Hezekiah. There had been a time of fearful declension in the reigns of the preceding kings, but in the days of Hezekiah God graciously gave a blessed revival. Things had gotten into such an awful state that they had not even kept the Passover for several centuries!

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Revivals are God’s way of keeping His work alive. You get that even in the Old Testament. You get the children of Israel falling into sin, forgetting God, and becoming indolent and slack, and then God would suddenly deal with a prophet or a king, and there’d be a revival. You have it in the time of Josiah, you have it in the time of Hezekiah, and there are other instances of it. These are revivals. God manifesting Himself. And so I say it has proved to be throughout the long history of the Christian church. There have been times when Christianity almost had come to an end, and certain people were quite confident that the end had come, and it’s then that God comes in revival, and the moribund church is raised to a new period of reactivity.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): The thing was done suddenly, which showed there was much of God in it. Church businesses usually go on but slowly. The Spirit makes quick work.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Suddenly. Suddenly! Yes, and often unexpectedly…as you look at the subsequent history of the church, you can add to “suddenly” the word unexpectedly. And I thank God for this, because it is to me the greatest consolation in this arid period through which we are living. You never know when the Spirit is going to visit us and revive His Work.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): If ever God’s church has declined for a little while, unexpectedly there has been yielded a season of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: The history of the church has been a history of ups and downs―ups and downs throughout these long running centuries. Indeed there is a sense in which it can be said almost that the history of the church is the history of revivals, and of the waning of revival and the coming back of revival―and as you take a bird’s eye view of church history, isn’t this what you see? You see that great beginning in the Book of Acts, and then you find it gradually pass, and then you come to the dark middle ages, all that period of torpor, and lethargy, and of lifelessness, and then the brilliant, blazing Protestant reformation, which was a revival, a return to the Book of Acts, a restoration of this ancient power.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): The Church of Christ was very low at the time of the Reformation. But then it was suddenly revived, and broke forth like the sun from behind a dark cloud; and the light of the Gospel was diffused far and wide, almost as at the beginning, in the apostles’ days.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: And then that seemed to pass, and you get the Puritan era, which was again a great revival, and then the revival of the eighteenth century, and then the revival of the nineteenth century…Oh, I do commend to you the reading of the history of revivals.

J. H. M. d’AUBIGNÉ (1794-1872): A reformation is not arbitrarily made, as charters and revolutions are in some countries. A real reformation, prepared during many ages, is the work of the Spirit of God. Before the appointed hour, the greatest geniuses, and even the most faithful of God’s servants, cannot produce it; but when the reforming time is come, when it is God’s pleasure to renovate the affairs of the world, the divine life must clear a passage.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Revival is always His work…In some countries the word “revival” has now come to mean the holding of an evangelistic campaign. This is not revival! In a sense I cannot think of anything that is further removed from revival than just that—a man-made, man-organized series of meetings.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Christian men should never speak of “getting up a revival.” Where are you going to get it up from?

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: This is something which is most glorious. Man not only cannot start a revival, he cannot stop it either. Nor can he keep it going when it has stopped. Men have tried to do all these things but they have never succeeded. The sovereignty of God appears in the timing. Yes, and also the sovereignty of God appears in the place where revival starts…Believe me, my friends, when the next revival comes, it will come as a surprise to everybody, and especially to those who have been trying to organize it.

C. H. SPURGEON: We know not what God has in store. He is great at surprises: His best wine last amazes us all. When the devil is most secure upon his throne, then God springs a mine, and blows his empire into atoms.

J. H. M. d’AUBIGNÉ: It is often at the very moment when the storm is set at its height, when the thunder seems to have struck down the truth, and when the darkness of night covers it, that a sudden gleam shines forth, and announces a great deliverance.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: If I have any understanding of the times at all, and the Biblical teaching concerning the nature of the church and the work of the Holy Spirit, I do not hesitate to assert this―that the only hope of the church lies in revival. I see no hope whatsoever in any other movement, or organization, or any other kind of effort. The one supreme need of the church is revival.

MARY WINSLOW (1774-1854): We need an especial outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

C. H. SPURGEON: Oh, that the Lord would sent us times of true revival once again!

 

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