Athenian Curiosity

Acts 17:21
       All the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): The reason why they were inquisitive concerning Paul’s doctrine, not because it was good, but because it was new. It is a very sorry character which is here given of these people.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): The Jewish doctors, at this time, were much of the same cast in their divinity schools; the usual question asked, when they met one another, was, “what new thing” have you learned in the divinity school today?

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): There is nothing more important in the Christian life than the way in which we approach the Bible, and the way in which we read it.

A. P. GIBBS (1890-1967): Many suffer from what might be termed “Athenianitus”—like the people of Athens, they spend their time in nothing else, but either to tell or hear of some new thing. This is a mischievous malady indeed.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): We must not study the Word merely out of curiosity, that we may know what is said there; as men will pry into civil art and discipline; so the Athenians flocked about Paul; so, for novelty’s sake, men may have an affection and a delight in the Word.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Some read it to satisfy their sense of curiosity, as they might any other book of note…Some read it inquisitively, to satisfy curiosity and feed intellectual pride―they specialize on prophecy, the types, numerics, and so on.

JAMES DURHAM (1622-1658): There is an inquiring to satisfy curiosity, which the Lord abhors; as we may gather from Exodus 19:21, where the Lord, being to deliver His will, says to Moses, “Go down, charge this people”―a word of peremptory command―“lest they break through unto the Lord to gaze, and many of them perish.” The Lord is not displeased that His people should endeavour to behold, and take Him up aright; but when their end is not good, but to satisfy an itch of curiosity, it displeases Him.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Of course we are to be interested in everything in the Bible, but we are not to be mastered by the mechanics. It is good to be interested in figures, in Biblical numerics for instance; but you can easily spend the whole of your life working at such problems, and thereby forget the true interests of your soul.

THOMAS ADAM (1701-1784): The Scripture is unto us what the star was to the wise men; but if we spend all our time in gazing upon it; observing its motions, and admiring its splendour, without being led to Christ by it, the use of it will be lost to us.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): The Scriptures were written not to gratify our curiosity, but to lead us to God.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Very well; it is obviously important that we should approach this Book in the right manner.

JAMES DURHAM: The great end and design of all endeavours for knowledge, should not be to rest in speculation, but to be furthered in practice…Though we would wish that many had a holy curiosity to know God’s mind toward them.

THOMAS MANTON: For a man to study the Scripture only to satisfy curiosity, only to know what is right and good, and not to follow it with all his heart, is but to make a rod for his own back, and doth but cause his own condemnation to be sore and terrible, Luke 12:47. To be able to dispute for truth, and not lie under the power of it; to avoid heresy, and live in vice, will never bring him to Heaven. It is not them that are able to talk of it, but to walk according to this rule, Galatians 6:16; not to play with it, but to work with it. Knowledge and practise must be joined together; they do never well asunder, but excellently together.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments, Ezra 7:10. The order of things in this verse is very observable; first he endeavours to understand God’s law and word, and that not for curiosity or ostentation, but in order to practise; next, he conscientiously practiseth what he did understand, which made his doctrine much more effectual; and then he earnestly desires and labours to instruct and edify others, that they also might know and do it.

A. W. PINK: God has given the Word to us as a revelation of Himself―of His character, of His government, of His requirements. Our motive in reading it, then, should be to become better acquainted with Him, with His perfections, with His will for us. Our end in perusing His Word should be learn how to please and glorify Him; and that, by our characters being formed under its holy influence, and our conduct regulated in all its details by the rules He has there laid down.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Beware then of becoming a student of the Bible in a wrong sense.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): Let me tremble at God’s Word, and let me, in reading it, keep three purposes in view:
                                      1. To collect facts rather than form opinions.
                                      2. To regulate practise rather than encourage speculation.
                                      3. To aid devotion rather than dispute.

THOMAS MANTON: Our knowledge of it, and delight in it, must be directed to practice.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Another rule to be followed is, in reading the Scripture, continually to direct our attention to investigate and meditate upon things conducive to edification; not to indulge curiosity or the study of things unprofitable.

WILLIAM JAY: The Scripture is given to establish our faith, and comfort our hearts, and sanctify our lives, but not to amuse us and to gratify our curiosity.


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The Blessed Assurance in Jesus Christ’s Promise of Persecution

John 15:20; Matthew 5:10-12
         Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.
         Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

BROWNLOW NORTH (1810-1875): The Christian has no right to expect better treatment from the world than Christ received.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Those that bear Christ’s name must expect to bear the cross for His name.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): The Lord Jesus Christ dealt openly in this matter, and plainly made known what was likely to befall those whom He called to follow Him, and expressly affirmed that He would admit none into the ranks of His disciples save those who denied themselves, took up their cross, and engage to undergo all sorts of sufferings for His sake and the Gospel’s. He deceived none with fair promises of a smooth and easy passage through this world.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): Persecution is the legacy bequeathed by Christ to His people.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): All that will live godly in Christ Jesus must expect it in one shape or another.

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. “For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake,” Acts 9:16.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Why then does he rejoice in it? Why should he be exceeding glad? Here are the Lord’s answers. The first is that this persecution which he is receiving for Christ’s sake is proof to the Christian of who he is and what he is. “For so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” So if you find you are being persecuted and maligned falsely for Christ’s sake, you know you are like the prophets, who were God’s chosen servants, and who are now with God, rejoicing in glory. Now that is something to rejoice about.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Persecutions are, in a way, seals of adoption to the children of God…Persecution is indeed a true test whereby God discovers which are His.

THOMAS BROOKS (1608-1680): The Lord trieth the righteous, Psalm 11:5. Times of affliction and persecution will distinguish the precious from the vile, it will difference the counterfeit professor from the true. Persecution is a Christian’s touchstone, it is a lapis lydius that will try what metal men are made of, whether they be silver or tin, gold or dross, wheat or chaff, shadow or substance, carnal or spiritual, sincere or hypocritical…To stand fast in fiery trials argues much integrity within.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: This is one of the ways in which our Lord turns everything into a victory. In a sense He makes even the devil a cause of blessing. The devil through his agencies persecutes the Christian and makes him unhappy. But if you look at it in the right way, you will find a cause for rejoicing, and will turn to Satan and say, “Thank you; you are giving me proof that I am a child of God, otherwise I should never be persecuted like this for Christ’s sake.” James, in his Epistle, argues likewise that this is proof of your calling and sonship; it is something which makes you know for certain you are a child of God. Or, take a second argument to prove this. It means, of course, that we have become identified with Christ. If we are thus being maligned falsely and persecuted for His sake, it must mean that our lives have become like His. We are being treated as our Lord was treated, and therefore we have positive proof that we do indeed belong to Him.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Persecution is like the goldsmith’s hallmark on real silver and gold; it is one of the marks of a converted man.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: As we saw, He Himself prophesied before His going that this was going to happen and this teaching is found everywhere in the New Testament. The apostle Paul, for example, says, “Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake,” Philippians 1:29.

JOHN GILL: The same persons to whom it is given to believe in Christ, to them it is given to suffer for Him; and they all do in some shape or another, though some more, others less; yet all are partakers of sufferings for Christ, and so are conformed to Him [who is] their head, and hereby enter the kingdom.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: The second cause of rejoicing and of joy is, of course, that this persecution is proof also of where we are going. “Rejoice and be exceeding glad.” Why? “For great is your reward in heaven.” Here is one of these great central principles that you find running all the way through the Bible. It is this consideration of the end, our final destiny. If this happens to you, says Christ in effect, it is just the hallmark of the fact that you are destined for heaven. It means you have a label on; it means your ultimate destiny is fixed. By thus persecuting you the world is just telling you that you do not belong to it, that you are a man apart; you belong to another realm, thus proving the fact that you are going to heaven. And that, according to Christ, is something which causes us always to rejoice and be exceeding glad.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Christ’s cross is made of sweet wool, for there are comforts peculiar to those who suffer for righteousness.

THOMAS BROOKS: By grace God makes men vessels of silver and vessels of gold, and then casts them into the fire to melt and suffer for His name, and a higher glory He cannot put upon them on this side of glory.

HOWEL HARRIS (1714-1773): The greatest honour we poor mortals can be capable of is to be persecuted for righteousness’s sake. O what a favour it is to bear reproach for Christ!

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): From Paul’s declaration, that “all who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution,” 2 Timothy 3:12, we may expect it will always be so, while human nature and the state of the world remain as they are.

JEROME (340-420): You err, my brother, you err, if you think that anywhere a Christian is not to suffer persecution.


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Slanderous Lies: The Fuel of Anti-Christian Persecution

Matthew 11:18,19; John 15:20; Matthew 5:11, 12
       John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.
       The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.
       Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Lies are Satan’s chief weapons against God’s saints.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Count it not strange to be traduced, disgraced, scandalized―there are tongue-smiters, as well as hand-smiters; such as malign and molest God’s dearest children, as well with their virulent tongues as violent hands: “Such as will revile you,” saith our Saviour. Austere John hath a devil; sociable Christ is a wine bibber, and the scribes and Pharisees―whose words carry such credit―say as much.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Herein they show themselves the devil’s children, for he is a liar, and the father of lies (John 8:44).

JOHN ROBINSON (1575-1625): Slanderers may be called devilish, seeing the devil hath his name of slandering.

G. CAMPBELL MORGAN (1863-1945): The world hates Christian people if they can see Christ in them.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): The treatment they meet with is on His account, and the same that He Himself met with; the like reproaches fell on Him.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): Reviling and speaking evil of persons falsely, because of their profession of Christ, and because they dare not sin against God, is a species of persecution, Genesis 21:9; Galatians 4:29, though the lowest degree of it. It hath been the constant lot of God’s servants. David said that false witnesses did rise up, and laid to his charge things that he knew not, Psalm 35:11. Thus John and Christ were served.

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

MATTHEW HENRY: Whatever pretence persecutors have, it is the power of godliness that they have an enmity to; it is really Christ and his righteousness that are maligned, hated, and persecuted.

HUGH MARTIN (1822-1885): Now here is the principle on which all persecution against the godly is conducted. It is not for being godly that the world professedly persecutes them. The world feels that decency forbids to touch them till a semblance of some other charge is raised to cover and, if possible, conceal the real ground of hatred. It is not as a holy and benevolent teacher, winning the esteem of the nation, that Jesus is arrested: it is as a felon. It is not as holy and heavenly minded men that primitive Christians are persecuted. It is as disturbers of the peace of the Roman empire; as setters forth of strange gods; enemies of the imperial authority, as it prescribes the imperial religion. It is in that character they are given to the wild beasts at Ephesus or at Rome.

JOHN GILL: But all were malicious lies of men, invented on purpose to bring them and Christianity into disgrace.

MATTHEW HENRY: Those who have had no power in their hands to do them any other mischief, could yet do this; and those who have had power to persecute, had found it necessary to do this too, to justify themselves in their barbarous usage of them; they could not have baited them, if they had not dressed them in bear-skins; nor have given them the worst of treatment, if they had not first represented them as the worst of men.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): Paul was treated with contempt and despite, his character traduced, his doctrine misrepresented: and, though his natural and acquired abilities were great, and he spoke with power and the demonstration of the Spirit, yet he was esteemed the filth and off-scouring of all things, a babbler, and a madman.

HUGH MARTIN: It is the same principle and policy in all cases, great or small. Look into the family, the field, the workshop, where the ungodly scorn and ridicule the righteous. It is not under the character of righteous that they persecute him. That would be too obviously and visibly the very spirit of hell. It must be a little masked and hidden from the view of others; aye, they seek even to hide it from themselves. It is not because he is a Christian, righteous, godly man they hate him. They cannot condemn him under that which is the true aspect of his character. They must misrepresent him first.

WILLIAM GREENHILL (1591-1677): It matters not much what the world saith of men: it called Paul a babbler, Acts 17:18, a heretic, Acts 24:14, a pestilent fellow, Acts 24:5; but what said God of him? “He is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.” Job’s friends and the devil said that Job was hypocrite; but God said he was a perfect man, fearing God, and eschewing evil, Job. 1:1.

MATTHEW POOLE: Others had trial of cruel mockings, Hebrews 11:36. The same gospel faith enabled prophets and saints as Micaiah, (1 Kings 22:24); Elisha, (2 Kings 2:23); Isaiah, (Isaiah 8:18); Amos, (Amos 7:10); readily, cheerfully, and patiently to accept and receive the experience and trials of mocking, from the insulting, cruel enemies of God and his church, both national and aliens; being exposed and made a laughing-stock by reproaches, sarcasms, and nicknames.

MATTHEW HENRY: Note—there is no evil so black and horrid, which, at one time or other, has not been said, falsely, of Christ’s disciples and followers.

JOHN TRAPP: Elijah, for telling truth, shall hear, troubler; Jeremiah, traitor.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): It has ever been the portion of God’s servants and people to be derided, reproached and insulted; and, my reader, if we are not being “mocked”—sneered at, scoffed at—it is because we are too lax in our ways and too worldly in our walk. Human nature has not changed; Satan has not changed; the world has not changed; and the more Christlike is our life the more we shall drink—in our measure—of the cup He drank from.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): On one occasion, when John Wesley was preaching, he said, “I have been falsely charged with every crime of which a human being is capable, except that of drunkenness.” He had scarcely uttered these words before a wretched woman started up and screamed out at the top of her voice, “You old villain!―will you deny it? Did you not pledge your bands last night for a noggin of whiskey, and did not the woman sell them to our parson’s wife?” [Then she] sat down amid a thunder-struck assembly.
       Wesley lifted his hands to heaven, and thanked God that his cup was now full, for they had said all manner of evil against him falsely for Christ’s name’s sake.


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The Awesome, Glorious Presence of Our Exalted Lord Jesus Christ

Revelation 1:8
       I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

Editor’s Note: Perhaps it is better to let Scripture speak on a subject such as this. Here then are the personal testimonies of Moses, Isaiah, Daniel, and John, by nature being only sinful men of like passions as ourselves, but all of them, by grace, holy men who saw our Lord Jesus Christ in His heavenly exaltation, and heard His words. Their accounts contain none of the glib familiarity that we hear today from those who claim to have intimate communion with Him.

MOSES (Exodus 33:18-23; 34:29,30): “I beseech thee, show me thy glory.”
      And He said, “I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.”
      And He said, “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.”
      And the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: and it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: and I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.”
      And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai…that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while He talked with him. And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.

ISAIAH (Isaiah 6:1-5): In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.” And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.
      Then said I, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”

JOHN (John 12:41): These things saith [Isaiah], when he saw His glory, and spake of Him.

ISAIAH (Isaiah 6:6-8): Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: and he laid it upon my mouth, and said, “Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.” Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”
      Then said I, “Here am I; send me.”

DANIEL (Daniel 10:1,2,4-9,16-19): In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia―I Daniel was mourning three full weeks―and in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel; then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: His body also was like the beryl, and His face as the appearance of lightning, and His eyes as lamps of fire, and His arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of His words like the voice of a multitude. And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. Yet heard I the voice of His words: and when I heard the voice of His words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground…
      And, behold, one like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips: then I opened my mouth, and spake, and said unto him that stood before me, “O my lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength. For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? for as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me.”
      Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me, And said, “O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong.” And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, “Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me.”

JOHN (Revelation 1:9-18): I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last…”
      And I turned to see the voice that spake with me.
      And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire; and His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters. And He had in his right hand seven stars: and out of His mouth went a sharp two edged sword: and His countenance was as the sun shineth in His strength.
      And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.
      And He laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, “Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.”

DANIEL (Daniel 7:9,10): I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, Whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like the pure wool: His throne was like the fiery flame, and His wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him: thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.


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Pride: The Source of Error, Envy & Every Evil Work

Proverbs 13:10; James 4:1; James 3:14, 16
       Only by pride cometh contention.
       From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members.
       If ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not…for where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

JONATHAN EDWARDS (1703-1758): The first and worst cause of error that prevails in our day is spiritual pride…It is the chief inlet of smoke from the bottomless pit to darken the mind and mislead the judgment, and the main handle by which Satan takes hold of Christians to hinder a work of God.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): Wrath and contention come by pride. Every one seeks to be eminent, and would excel, not in graces and gifts; that is, a holy emulation; but in rank and place. We set too high a price on ourselves; and, when we meet not with that respect and honour which we affect, we fall into contention, and break out into strifes, supposing ourselves neglected.

RICHARD BAXTER (1615-1691): A proud mind is high in conceit, self-esteem, and carnal aspiring.

THOMAS MANTON: But this should not be: Let each esteem other better than themselves, Philippians 2:3…Most men are too great and too good in their own esteem. Self-love representeth ourselves to ourselves in a feigned shape and likeness, much more wise, and holy, and just, than we are.

D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): There are many people who start out with idea that they are great and other people are small, and they are going to bring them up on the high level with themselves…You cannot find a man who holds any false doctrine of religion who is not proud of it.

WILLIAM TYNDALE (1490-1536): The source of all heresies is pride.

RALPH ERSKINE (1685-1752): Pride of reason founds Socinianism;* pride of the will, Arminianism;* pride of self-righteousness, Neonomianism.*

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): Errorists are usually hot and passionate, proud and daring persons…Hence arise debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): I am persuaded some men take more pains to furnish themselves with arguments to defend some one error they have taken up, than they do for the most saving truths in the Bible; yea, they could sooner die at a stake to defend one error they hold, than for all the truths they profess…O it is hard to reduce a person deeply engaged in the defence of an error! How oft had the Pharisees their mouths stopped by our Saviour? yet few or none reclaimed. Their spirits were too proud to recant…They will rather go on, and brave it out as well as they can, than come back with shame, though the shame was not to be ashamed of their error, but ashamed to confess it.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): Hence proceed divisions, subdivisions, distinctions, refinements, bitterness, strife, envyings.

THOMAS MANTON: Another expression of pride is impatiency of admonitions and reproofs.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): Hypocrites can never endure to have their beloved lusts touched, and persons that have drunk in an error have no patience to hear it contradicted.

THOMAS MANTON: Contempt is the fruit of pride…Surely it argueth a proud spirit, when men cannot endure friendly counsel, and will not have their secret sores touched, but they grow fierce and outrageous, especially when they excel others in rank and power; as when the Prophet reproved Amaziah, “Art thou made of the king’s counsel? forbear; why shouldest thou be smitten?” 2 Chronicles 25:16.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Pride is the egg of persecution.

WILLIAM GURNALL: Satan comes first with a spirit of error and then of persecution. He first corrupts men’s minds with error, and then enrageth their hearts against the professors of truth. It is impossible that error, being a brat of hell, should be peaceable.

THOMAS MANTON: Proud men would be admired by all, well thought of and spoken of by all, and preferred above all; and, if it be not so, they are discontented, and a secret enmity and malignity invaded their spirits, and settleth itself there; it is an apparent fruit of natural corruption; “The spirit that dwelleth in us, lusteth to envy,” James 4:5. Men cannot endure either the real or reputed excellency of others. The proud creature would shine alone. Therefore we are secretly nibbling at the credit of others, blasting their reputation, and desire by all means to lessen them, or that they should be lessened.

JOHN ROBINSON (1575-1625): Persons oftener slander others out of love to themselves, than of hatred to them; thinking therein to build their own credit, upon the ruins of other men’s.

THOMAS MANTON: And, where this disposition prevaileth into any degree of strength and tyranny, it groweth outrageous: “Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?” Proverbs 27:4. For when we are grieved at the prosperity and excellency of others, we seek to undermine them by all the means we can devise, as when the brothers of Joseph sought to put him out of the way. And when Saul envied David, he was still plotting his destruction: so when the Pharisees envied Christ, “If we let him alone, all men will run after him;” this brought them to “crucify the Lord of glory.” Anger venteth itself in sudden flashes, and wrath in some present act of violence; but envy is injurious and treacherous. Anger and wrath suppose some offence; but envy is troubled at the goodness and excellency of others. Anger and wrath are assuaged by degrees, and, when the raging billows and tempest cease, there is a calm; but envy groweth by time, and is exasperated more and more, the longer those whom we envy are in good condition.

R. C. CHAPMAN (1803-1902): Pride has always an envious eye and an envious tongue: envy is but the vexation of pride.

THOMAS MANTON: Envy. It is a sin that feeds upon the mind…Envy is an evil disease that dwelleth in the heart, and betrays itself mostly in thoughts.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): If we ever know the feeling of being rather pleased when we hear something unpleasant about another, that is this wrong spirit. If we are jealous, or envious, and then suddenly hear that the one of whom we are jealous or envious has made a mistake and find that there is an immediate sense of pleasure within us, that is it.

WILLIAM GURNALL: I have known one that, when he had some envious unkind thoughts stirring in him against any one―and who so holy as may not find such vermin sometimes creeping about him―he would go to the throne of grace where he would most earnestly pray for the increase of those good things in them which he before had seemed to grudge.
*Editor’s Note: Briefly, these errors are as follows: Socinianism rejects the eternal Deity of Jesus Christ, the Trinity, and original sin; Arminianism rejects unconditional election and believes that man is saved by the exercise of his own free will (see the sitemap series on election and predestination); Neonomianism turns the Gospel of salvation by grace into salvation by works, whereby man is saved by keeping the law by faith.


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Some Thoughts on Dust, Both Serious & Silly

Genesis 2:7; Genesis 18:27
       The LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
       And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Those that are admitted into fellowship with God are, and must be, very humble and very reverent in their approaches to Him.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Abraham acknowledged he was “dust and ashes.”

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): By these expressions he shows how deeply his soul was humbled in the presence of God.

THOMAS BROOKS (1608-1680): The most holy men are always the most humble men.

A. W. PINK: He who is experimentally acquainted with the “plague of his own heart” (I Kings 8:38) is one in experience with the most eminent of God’s saints.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): The more he advances in the divine life, the more he sinks in his own estimation: Job―“Behold, I am vile;” David―“Who am I, and what is my father’s house;” Jacob―“I am not worthy of the least of all thy mercies;” John the Baptist―“the lachet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose,” Paul―“I am not worthy to be called an apostle,” and, “I am less than the least of all saints.” These have been the self-annihilations of men who were all great in the sight of the Lord; and these must be the best proofs, as they will be the certain effects, or our growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): I believe our hearts are all alike, destitute of every good, and prone to every evil. Like money from the same mint, they bear the same impression of total depravity; but grace makes a difference, and grace deserves the praise…The Scripture declares the principles, desires, and feelings of a Christian. It is true that you feel contrary principles, that you are conscious of defects and defilements; but it is equally true, that you could not be right, if you did not feel these things. To be conscious of them, and humbled for them, is one of the surest marks of grace; and to be more deeply sensible of them than formerly, is the best evidence of growth in grace.

A. W. PINK: One of the principle things which distinguishes a regenerate person from an unregenerate one may be likened unto two rooms which have been swept but not dusted. In one, the blinds are raised and the sunlight streams in, exposing the dust still lying on the furniture. In the other, the blinds are lowered, and one walking through the room would be unable to discern its real condition. Thus it is in the case of one who has been renewed by the Spirit: his eyes have been opened to see the awful filth which lurks in every corner of his heart. But in the case of the unregenerate, though they have occasional twinges of conscience when they act wrongfully, they are very largely ignorant of the awful fact that they are a complete mass of corruption into the pure eyes of the thrice holy God.

SAMUEL RUTHERFORD (1600-1661): Dust particles are in a room before the sun shines, but they only appear then.

JOHN NEWTON: This discovery is indeed very distressing; yet, till it is made, we are prone to think ourselves much less vile than we really are, and cannot so heartily abhor ourselves and repent in dust and ashes.

A. W. PINK: Sinful self and all its wretched failures should be sufficiently noticed so as to keep us in the dust before God. Christ and His great salvation should be contemplated so as to lift us above self and fill the soul with thanksgiving.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): The most healthy state of a Christian is to be always empty in self and constantly depending upon the Lord for supplies; to be always poor in self and rich in Jesus, weak as water personally, but mighty through God to do great exploits; and hence the use of prayer, because, while it adores God, it lays the creature where it should be, in the very dust.

JOHN NEWTON: Indeed these may be said to be great attainments; but they who have most of them are most sensible that they, in and of themselves, are nothing, have nothing, can do nothing, and see daily cause for abhorring themselves.

ROWLAND HILL (1744-1833): Poverty of spirit is the bag into which Christ puts the riches of His grace.

C. H. SPURGEON: When Abraham pleaded with God for Sodom, the Lord patiently listened to his renewed pleading. How instructive is that story of the Patriarch’s pleading for Sodom! How humbly he speaks!—“I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, even I that am but dust and ashes.” Yet how boldly he pleads!

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): He speaks as one amazed at his own boldness, and the liberty God graciously allowed him, considering God’s greatness, He is the Lord; and his own meanness, but dust and ashes. Whenever we draw near to God, it becomes us reverently to acknowledge the vast distance that there is between us and Him. He is the Lord of glory, we are worms of the earth.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Pray, then, with an humble boldness.

GEORGE SWINNOCK (1627-1673): Remember, that when thou doth speak unto the Lord, thou art but dust and ashes.

WILLIAM JENKYN (1613–1685): Our father was Adam, our grandfather dust, our great-grandfather nothing.

C. H. SPURGEON: A very favourite expression [once used in 19th century prayer meetings was] “Thy poor unworthy dust”—We have heard of a good man who, in pleading for his children and grandchildren, was so beclouded in the blinding influence of this expression, that he exclaimed, “O Lord, save Thy dust, and Thy dust’s dust, and Thy dust’s dust’s dust!”

ADAM CLARKE: Can any be so silly, and so preposterously absurd?

C. H. SPURGEON: When Abraham said, “I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes,” the utterance was forcible and deeply expressive; but in its misquoted, perverted, and abused form, the sooner it is consigned to its element―[the dust-bin]―the better.

MATTHEW HENRY: Better say nothing, than nothing to the purpose, or that which tends to the dishonour of God and the grief of our brethren…As therefore it is best for a lame man to keep his seat, so it is best for a silly man, or a bad man, to hold his tongue.


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Preparing for the Lord’s Supper

Amos 4:12
       Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): It may be asked, Is there no preparation necessary? Are we to sit down at the table of the Lord with as much indifference as if we were sitting down to any ordinary supper table? Surely not.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): I believe there ought to be a preparation before the Lord’s Supper. I do not believe in Mrs. Toogood’s preparation, who spent a week in preparing, and then finding it was not the Ordinance Sunday, she said she had lost all the week. I do not believe in that kind of preparation, but I do believe in a holy preparation for the Lord’s Supper: when we can on a Saturday if possible, spend an hour in quiet meditation on Christ, and the passion of Jesus.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Self-examination is necessary to a right attendance at this holy ordinance.

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): Prepare with all diligence―Take pains with thy dull heart; cleanse thy polluted heart; compose thy vain heart; remember how great a presence thou art approaching.

RICHARD SIBBES (1577-1635): And even if we are not so prepared as we should be, yet let us pray as Hezekiah did: “The good LORD pardon every one that prepareth his heart to seek God, the LORD God of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purifications of the sanctuary,” II Chronicles 30:18,19. Then we come comfortably to this holy sacrament, and with much fruit. This should carry us through all duties with much cheerfulness, that, if we hate our corruptions and strive against them, they shall not be counted ours.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Here is a method that is easy to learn. If you want to make right use of the benefits Christ bestows, bring faith and repentance to the Supper. The test of whether you are truly prepared is found in these two things.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): A man’s repentance may be very imperfect. Never mind! Is it real? Does he truly repent at all? His faith in Christ may be very weak. Never mind! Is it real?

ROBERT MURRAY M’CHEYNE (1813-1843): Some seem to think that we are to find peace at first by looking to Christ, and afterwards by seeing the life of God advancing in your own soul.

MARY WINSLOW (1774-1854): In the Acts of the Apostles, you will find that they invariably stated to sinners the things concerning Jesus, and when they heard they believed and rejoiced. You do not find that they looked into their own hearts for evidences when they were called to believe.

C. H. SPURGEON: “I feel as if I were coming to the communion table quite unfit to come.” Is that what you say?

D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): A great many are saying, “Do you feel this and that? Do you feel, do you feel, do you feel?” God does not want you to feel: He tells you to believe. He says, “When I see the blood I will pass over you;” and, if you are sheltered behind the blood, you are perfectly safe and secure. Suppose I say to a man, “Do you feel that you own this piece of land?” He looks at me a moment, and thinks I must be crazy. He says, “Feel? Why, feeling has nothing to do with it. I look at the title: that is all I want.” Do you see? all you have to do with is the title.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): There is nothing of any value in any of us, and if you are looking to yourself in any sense you are in the hands of the devil, he has defeated you with his wiles. You must see clearly that, as you are, if you are looking to Christ, and relying only upon His perfect work on your behalf, you are saved. He saves you by the work He completed on your behalf, and by that alone. That is the answer!

JOHANN VON STAUPITZ (1460-1534): Why torment thyself with all these speculations and high thoughts? Look to the wounds of Jesus Christ, to the blood which He has shed for thee: then thou shalt see the grace of God. Instead of making a martyr of thyself for thy faults, throw thyself into the arms of the Redeemer.

C. H. SPURGEON: When you look within, it should be to see with grief what the filthiness is; but to get rid of that filthiness you must look beyond yourself. I remember D. L. Moody saying that a looking-glass was a capital thing to show you the spots on your face; but you could not wash in a looking-glass. You want something very different when you would make your face clean. So let your eyes look right on—“To the full atonement made, to the utmost ransom paid.” Forget yourself, and think only of Christ.

MARY WINSLOW: Precious friend, look full at Jesus. Look no longer to your own weak, sinful heart…All your trouble arises from your looking for evidences within; and when Satan blinds your eye, and you cannot find them directly you think you have no part or lot in this matter. Your salvation does not hinge in the slightest degree upon what is done in you or by you, but what Christ has done for sinners.

ROBERT MURRAY M’CHEYNE: Clear away all dimness. Look ever on the sinless One, in Whom alone you stand.

R. C. CHAPMAN (1803-1902): Let us not be discouraged by any humiliating discoveries we may make of the evils of our hearts. God knows them all, and has provided the blood of Jesus Christ His Son to cleanse us from all sin.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): A sense of our own utter unworthiness is the best worthiness we can bring. A deep feeling of our own entire indebtedness to Christ for all we have and hope for, is the best feeling we can bring with us.

JOHN CALVIN: If humbled by a knowledge of your misery, you lean wholly on Christ’s grace and rest upon it, then be assured that you are a guest worthy to approach that table.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): Never are men more unfit, than when they think themselves most fit, and best prepared for their duty; never more fit, than when most humbled and ashamed, in a sense of their own unfitness.

RALPH ERSKINE (1685-1752): Are there any here, who, under a sense of sin, see their absolute need of this sacrifice of Christ; who, under a sense of their unworthiness, are fearing and trembling to approach the Lord’s table, and yet would give all the world for a share of the saving and healing virtue of this glorious sacrifice; and see nothing in all the world so fit for them as Christ? I invite them to the Lord’s table.


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A Spiritual Weather Report on Sovereign Grace

Amos 4:7; Romans 9:14-16
       I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city.
       What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

AUGUSTINE (354-430): We know that the grace of God is not given to all men; and that to them to whom it is given, it is given neither according to the merits of works, nor according to the merits of will, but by gratuitous favour; and to those to whom it is not given, we know that it is not given by the righteous judgment of God.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Because grace is exercised toward those who are destitute of worthiness or merit, grace is sovereign; that is to say, God bestows grace upon whom He pleases.

STEPHEN CHARNOCK (1628-1680): To be God and sovereign are inseparable.

ALEXANDER CARSON (1776-1844): Jehovah “worketh all things according to the counsel of His own will,” Ephesians 1:11.

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): The rain falls by divine direction and appointment: He causes it to rain upon one city, and not upon another. You shall often see a cloud dissolve and spread itself upon one place, when there is not drop within few miles of it. Thus it is that the gospel sent to shed its rich influences upon one place, and not upon another; it pours down showers of blessings upon one town or parish, whilst others are dry like the ground which lay near to Gideon’s wet fleece, Judges 6:36-38.

JOHN OWEN (1616-1683): As to the manner and the circumstance of His dispensing and communicating these blessings, they are wholly committed unto His sovereign will and wisdom.

JOHN FLAVEL:To you is the word of this salvation sent,” Acts 13:26. Sent; it comes not by chance, but by commission and appointment, and it is sent to you by special direction. Ministers can no more go whither they please, than the failing clouds can move against the wind. Paul and Timothy were two fruitful clouds that sent down many sweet refreshing showers upon every place whither they came. The Lord sent them through Phrygia and Galatia, but forbade them to preach the word in Asia, Acts 16:6; “And when they assayed to go into Bithynia, the Spirit suffered them not,” verse 7. But a man of Macedonia appears to Paul in a vision and prayed him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us,” verse 9. Thus you see how the mystical, as well as the natural clouds are moved according to divine counsel; and though ministers are not now disposed to their respective places, in such an extraordinary way, yet there is still a special hand of the Spirit guiding their motions.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): You will notice that out of the same man will at one time flow streams of living water, while at another time he will be as dry as possible. On one Sabbath you go away refreshed by the preaching, and the next you get no good. There is Divine Sovereignty in all this, and we must learn to recognize and admire it.

A. W. PINK: Sovereignty characterizes the whole being of God. He is sovereign in all His attributes.

C. H. SPURGEON: There is no attribute of God more comforting to His children than that of God’s sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe troubles, they believe that Sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that Sovereignty overrules them, and that Sovereignty will sanctify them all. There is nothing for which the children of God ought more earnestly to contend than the doctrine of their Master ruling over all creation—the kingship of God over all the works of His own hand—the throne of God and His right to sit upon that throne.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Let Him rule who said, “Let us make man.”

C. H. SPURGEON: On the other hand, there is no doctrine more hated by worldlings, no truth of which they have made such a football, as the great, stupendous, but yet most certain doctrine of the Sovereignty of the infinite Jehovah. Men will allow God to be everywhere except on His throne. They will allow Him to be in His workshop to fashion worlds and make stars. They will allow Him to be in His almonry to dispense His alms and bestow His bounties. They will allow Him to sustain the earth and bear up the pillars thereof, or light the lamps of heaven, or rule the waves of the ever-moving ocean; but when God ascends His throne, His creatures then gnash their teeth; and when we proclaim an enthroned God, and His right to do as He wills with His own, to dispose of His creatures as He thinks well, without consulting them in the matter, then it is that we are hissed and execrated, and then it is that men turn a deaf ear to us, for God on His throne is not the God they love…No doctrine in the whole Word of God has more excited the hatred of mankind than the truth of the absolute sovereignty of God.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): None is so offensive to human nature.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Therefore it is not wonderful that the licentiousness of our flesh should rise against it.

STEPHEN CHARNOCK: The great controversy between God and man hath been, whether He or they shall be God; whether His reason or theirs, His will or theirs, shall be the guiding principle.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): God does not stop to consult us.

STEPHEN CHARNOCK: Besides, if anything could frustrate God’s will, it would be superior to Him: God would not be omnipotent, and so would lose the perfection of the Deity, and consequently the Deity itself; for that which did wholly defeat God’s will, would be more powerful than He…To be God and yet inferior to another, is a contradiction.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): Let God be God!

WILLIAM CAREY (1761-1834): God has sovereign right to dispose of us as He pleases. We ought to acquiesce in all that God does with us and to us.

A. W. TOZER (1897-1963): I do not know why God does some things, but I am convinced that nothing is accidental in His universe.

JOHN CALVIN: This method of acting is secret, and far above our understanding.

ALEXANDER CARSON (1776-1844): Philosophy cannot plumb this ocean by its line; philosophy, therefore, denies what it cannot comprehend. But does she show wisdom in this? No—she manifests her folly. The amount of her unbelief is this: “There is nothing in the ways of the Almighty but what I am able to comprehend.” Can there be a purer specimen of atheism and madness?

JOHN CALVIN: What madness it is to embrace nothing but what commends itself to human reason!

C. H. SPURGEON: Opposition to divine sovereignty is essentially atheism―and were it not for sovereign grace, none of us would ever have followed the path to heaven. I am daily more and more convinced that the difference between one man and another is, not the difference between his use of his will, but the difference of grace that has been bestowed upon him.


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The Two Great Pillars of the 16th Century Protestant Reformation Part 4: The Great Price Paid for these Twin Pillars of Truth

Isaiah 8:20; Romans 4:3; Ephesians 2:8,9; Romans 11:6
       To the law and the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
       What saith the Scripture?
       By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works.
       And if by grace, then is it nor more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

J. H. M. d’AUBIGNÉ (1794-1872): Such are the principles of Christianity and of the Reformation―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. Such are the fundamental heresies of Rome.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): Rome may well be called, “The slaughter-house of the martyrs.” She hath shed much Christian blood in every age―for at Rome under the Pope, as well as under the heathen emperors, were the bloody orders and edicts given: and wherever the blood of holy men was shed, there were grand rejoicings for it. And what immense quantities of blood have been shed by her agents! Charles IX of France, in his letter to Pope Gregory XIII boasts that in, and not long after the massacre of Paris, he had destroyed seventy thousand Huguenots…To these we may add innumerable martyrs in Bohemia, Germany, Holland, France, England, Ireland, and many other parts of Europe.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): The blood thirstiness of the church of Rome! her greedy and insatiable desire after the blood of the saints, and her delight in it, being exceeding mad against them; and the multitude of it shed by her, as the slaughters of the Waldenses and Albigenses, the butcheries of the Duke d’Alva in the Low Countries, the massacres in France, Ireland, and other places, and the burning of the [English] martyrs in Queen Mary’s days, with numerous other instances, show.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Are we accepting this modern idea that the Reformation was the greatest tragedy that ever happened? If you want to say that it was a tragedy, here was the tragedy, that the Roman Church had become so rotten that it was necessary for the Reformers to do what they did. It wasn’t the departure of the Reformers that was the tragedy. It was the state of the Roman Church that was the tragedy.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Thousands now-a-days have a most inadequate notion of our debt to our martyred Reformers. They have no distinct conception of the state of darkness and superstition in which our fathers lived, and of the light and liberty which the Reformation brought in.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Some are rejoicing because Protestantism and Roman Catholicism are drawing nearer together. “What does the past matter?” they say, “let us have the right spirit, let us come together, all of us, and not be concerned about these particularities.”―To me, all such talk is just a denial of the plain teaching of the New Testament, a denial of the Creeds and the Confessions and the Protestant Reformation! It is carnal thinking, in addition to being a denial of the truth.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): There is no coming to an agreement with them, without renouncing God’s truth…Peace is not to be purchased by the sacrifice of truth.

J. C. RYLE: Peace and unity are excellent things, but they may be bought too dear. And they are bought too dear if we keep back any portion of Gospel truth, in order to exhibit to men a hollow semblance of agreement.

HUGH LATIMER (1483-1555): Unity must be according to God’s holy Word.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Look you, sirs, there are ages to come. If the Lord does not speedily appear, there will come another generation, and another, and all these generations will be tainted and injured if we are not faithful to God and to His truth today…Around the fireside fathers should repeat not only the Bible records, but the deeds of the martyrs and reformers.

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

C. H. SPURGEON: Remember that our Bible is a blood stained Book; the blood of martyrs is on the Bible, the blood of translators and confessors. The doctrines which we preach are doctrines that have been baptized in blood; swords have been drawn to slay the confessors of them.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Many of those already mentioned were martyrs for the truth.*

JOHN GILL: They are His martyrs or witnesses, by their doctrine and ministry, bearing testimony to Him as Jesus―that He is the only Saviour, that there is salvation in no other, in opposition to the anti-christian doctrines of merit, penance, purgatory, etc., for which they have been cruelly put to death, and in great numbers, and so have sealed their doctrine by their blood.

JOHN WYCLIFFE (1330-1384): I believe that, in the end, truth will conquer.
*Editor’s Note: These 16th Century Reformers who have been quoted in this series on the Protestant Reformation, and many others, suffered great persecutions from the Roman Catholic Church and her political allies, that they might pass on these essential pillars of Biblical truth to all future generations. Let present-day Protestants never forget this.
     THOMAS CRANMER (1489-1555): Burned at the stake.
     HUGH LATIMER (1483-1555): Burned at the stake.
     WILLIAM TYNDALE (1490-1536): Strangled, and then his body was burned at the stake as a “heretic;” but his real “crime” was translating the Bible into English from the original Hebrew and Greek.
     HULDRYCH ZWINGLI (1484-1531): Found wounded on the field after the Battle of Kappel (which opposed a Catholic assault on Zurich), Zwingli was murdered after he refused to “confess” his belief as being heresy; his body was then quartered and burned, and his ashes cast into the wind.
     JOHN WYCLIFFE (1330-1384): Though not a 16th Century Reformer, Wycliffe also preached the truth of the Gospel, and his early translation of the Bible into English from the Latin Vulgate laid a foundation stone for the Reformation. Such was the continuing rage of the Roman Catholic Church against him for these “crimes,” that 42 years after Wycliffe’s death, Pope Martin V decreed him a heretic, and ordered that his remains be exhumed from their grave in Lutterworth Churchyard, his bones burned, and his ashes cast into the River Swift.
     MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): After Luther’s famous “here I stand” declaration, he was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church; Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, declared Luther to be an outlaw, and ordered that he be arrested and punished as a heretic. The Emperor’s decree made it a crime to give Luther shelter, or to aid him in any way, and legal for anyone to kill him without any consequence. But Prince Frederick, the Elector of Saxony, hid Luther in the Wartburg Castle so that no one could find him. Luther, during his stay at the castle, translated the Bible into German.
     JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): When the Roman Catholic persecution of Protestants in France became violent, he fled to Switzerland.
     WILLIAM FAREL (1489-1565): He also fled France to Switzerland.
     JOHN KNOX (1514-1572): In the Catholic attempt to stamp out Protestantism in Scotland, he was imprisoned for 19 months as a galley slave on a French ship; later, fleeing the murderous persecutions of England’s “Bloody” Queen Mary, he spent 3 years as an exile in Geneva and Frankfurt.


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The Two Great Pillars of the 16th Century Protestant Reformation: Part 3: How the Roman Catholic Church Corrupted the Bible

Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:18
       Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it, that ye may keep these commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.
       I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): This sanction is like a flaming sword, to guard the canon of the Scripture from profane hands. Such a fence as this God set about the law, Deuteronomy 4:2, and the whole Old Testament, Malachi 4:4, and now in most solemn manner about the whole Bible, assuring us that it is a book of the most sacred nature, Divine authority, and of the last importance, and therefore the peculiar care of the great God.

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): Thus the holy volume is divinely guarded at both ends. It is securely fenced round about, so that no rude hand should touch its sacred contents. To suppose that aught can be added to God’s Word is, upon the very face of it, to deny that it is God’s Word.

RENÉ PACHE (1904-1979): Divine inspiration and canonicity are inseparably bound together―the word “canon”―taken from the Greek―means a rule which serves as a measure―By definition, the Scriptures must contain only inspired texts: “all Scripture is inspired by God,” 2 Timothy 3:16. Writings lacking this quality have no place in it.

CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): Hence, to add to His words, stamped as they are with His Divine authority, will expose us to His tremendous reproof, and cover us with shame.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): If the revelation of God were not enough for our faith, what could we add to it? Who can answer this question? What would any man propose to add to the sacred Word?

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): That detestable decree of the Council of Trent is well known.

ROBERT HALDANE (1764-1842): The Council of Trent, in the sixteenth century, in order to check the progress of the Protestant Reformation, pronounced the Apocryphal books to be strictly canonical. From that period they have usurped the name of inspired Scriptures, and have been intermingled with the canonical books in the Bibles of Roman Catholics.

RENÉ PACHE: The word Apocrypha―meaning “secret, hidden”―is the name given to the Jewish [Old Testament] religious books of obscure origin which were never included in the Hebrew canon [of Scripture].

ROBERT HALDANE: Who their authors were is not known. They were not written in the Hebrew language, in which all the books of the Old Testament were originally composed, with the exception of a few passages in Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezra, and Esther, which were written in Chaldee…All the early Christian writers, while they were unanimous in acknowledging the Jewish Scriptures, rejected with one accord the Apocryphal books as uncanonical, or destitute of all claim to inspiration.

RENÉ PACHE: Why, then, did Rome take so new and daring a position?
      Confronted by the Reformation, she lacked arguments to justify her unscriptural deviations. She declared that the Apocryphal books supported such doctrines as prayers for the dead (2 Macc. 12:44); the expiatory sacrifice, eventually to become the mass, (2 Macc. 12:39-46); almsgiving with expiatory value, also leading to deliverance from death (Tobit 12:9; 4:10); invocation and intercession of the saints (2 Macc. 15:14; Bar. 3:4); the worship of angels (Tobit 12:12); purgatory; and the redemption of souls after death (2 Macc.12:42, 46). Here is the list of the Apocryphal books accepted by Rome:
                                    Tobit                                       Epistle of Jeremiah
                                    Judith                                     Song of the Three Holy Children
                                    Additions to Esther              Story of Susanna
                                    Wisdom of Solomon              Bel and the Dragon
                                    Ecclesiasticus                         1 Maccabees
                                    Baruch                                    2 Maccabees

ROBERT HALDANE: Both Philo and Josephus,* who flourished in the first century of the Christian era, are altogether silent concerning these spurious books, which were not contained in the Septuagint version―and they form no part of those sacred writings committed by God to the Jews, universally acknowledged and preserved by them entire. Above all, they have not received the attestation of Jesus Christ, and His Apostles, by whom they have never once been quoted…Jesus Christ, who appeared on earth 1500 years after Moses, the first of the prophets, and 400 years after Malachi, the last of them, bore His testimony to the sacred canon as held by the Jews in His time.

RENÉ PACHE: Now, we must remember that it was the Jews who were called upon to compile the Old Testament. As Paul said, it was to them that the oracles of God were confided, Romans 3:1,2. We received those oracles from their hands and from no one else…They kept it pure, not allowing the addition of any Apocryphal writings.

ROBERT HALDANE: It was not until the fourth century, when the churches had become exceedingly corrupt both in faith and practise, that they came to be permitted to appear with the canon…In his Latin translation, called the Vulgate, Jerome intermingled the Aprocryphal and inspired writings, but, to prevent mistake, he prefixed to each book a short notice, in which the reader was distinctly informed of its character, and that the Aprocryphal writings were not in the canon of Scripture. He says that to meet the prejudices of the ignorant, he retained these “fables”―but he adds that, according to his custom, he had marked these Aprocryphal intruders with a spit or dagger, placed horizontally for the purpose of stabbing them.

JEROME (340-420): The church does not receive them among canonical Scriptures; they may be read for edification of the people, but are not to be esteemed of [any] authority for proving any doctrine of religion.

ROBERT HALDANE: The Apocryphal books, though not admitted by the first Christian writers, or churches, to have any authority in matters of faith, yet [now] claim for themselves authority, and even arrogate an equality with the sacred Scriptures, to which they were at length advanced by the Church of Rome.

JOHN TRAPP: Witness that heathenish decree of the Council of Trent; equalising, if not preferring, the Apocrypha to the canonical Scripture—

ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, COUNCIL OF TRENT (1546): If anyone receive not as sacred and canonical these said books, entire with all their parts…Let him be anathema!

RENÉ PACHE: By this decree, Jerome himself was condemned!

ROBERT HALDANE: Thus, in direct opposition to the command of God, an addition was made to the sacred canon, in the very worst form, of many entire books, and these not corresponding with the inspired writings, but in numerous instances, and most important particulars, directly contradicting them.

CHARLES BRIDGES: The church of Rome—as a church—has been found a liar; adding to the inspired canon a mass of unwritten tradition, and apocryphal writings, with all their gross errors, in despite of the clearest proof of their human origin.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): No greater mischief can happen to a Christian people, than to have God’s Word taken from them, or falsified, so that they no longer have it pure and clear.
*Editor’s Note: Philo was a Jewish philosopher who lived at Alexandria in Egypt; Josephus was a Jewish scholar and historian, who was born at Jerusalem.


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