Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Angel was Sent

.....The angel was sent with the most interesting
news that could be made known to
mankind; not to Caesar, or to Herod, or to
the High Priest, but to obscure and lowly
shepherds. The Lord seeth not as man seeth;
the petty distinctions that obtain among men
are not regarded by him. He is equally near
to them that fear him in every situation of
life, as the sun shines, as freely and fully, upon
a cottage as upon a palace. These shepherds
were doubtless, of the number of the
happy few, who, in that time of degeneracy,
were waiting and longing for the consolation
of Israel. The heads of the Jewish people
found their consolation in their rank and
wealth, and in the respect paid them by the
vulgar. These things usually add to the idea
of self-importance, and feed those tempers
which are most displeasing to the Lord, and
which indispose the mind to the reception of
the gospel, or to any due inquiry concerning
it. And thus, in fact from age to age, it has
generally been hidden from the wise and the
great, and revealed unto babes. The magi,
or wise men who lived in the east, where the
knowledge of astronomy obtained, but where
the scripture was not known, were guided to
Messiah by the appearance of a new star or
meteor. The shepherds, who were acquainted
with the prophecies concerning Messiah,
were informed of their accomplishment by an
angel. Thus the Lord was pleased to suit
the different manner of making known his
will, to the previous situation of the persons.

II. The message of the angel, though
concise, was comprehensive and full. It contained
the Fact, "Unto you is born this day"—the Place,
"In the city of David," that is, in Bethlehem, so called,
because David likewise had been born there
(Luke ii. 4.)—the Office of Messiah,
"A Saviour"—his Name, Honour, and Character,
"Christ," or the Anointed; "the Lord," the head
and king of Israel, and of the church, the Lord
of all......

For how unlikely would it seem to a merely
human judgment, that the Saviour of sinners,
the promised Messiah, the Lord of all, should
be a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and
lying in a manger. Yet thus it was. Though rich
in himself, he became poor for our sakes,
2 Cor. viii. 9. On this account, as the scriptures
had foretold, he was despised and rejected of
men. Though he came to his own, as a Lord
or Master to his own house; yet, coming in
this manner, his own professed servants, who
pretended that they were longing and waiting
for him, slighted and opposed him; preferred
a notorious malefactor to him, and put him to
death as an impostor and blasphemer. But
the shepherds reasoned not through unbelief,
and therefore they were not staggered: they
obeyed the message, they went, they saw, they
believed.
                         from a sermon by John Newton


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Have Seen a Great Light


by John Newton

THE SUN RISING UPON A DARK WORLD.
The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; they
that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath
the light shined Isaiah, ix. 2.

Contrasts are suited to illustrate and strengthen the impression of
each other. The happiness of those, who, by faith in Messiah, are
brought into a state of peace, liberty, and comfort, is greatly enhanced
and heightened by the consideration of that previous state of misery
in which they once lived, and of the greater misery to which they were
justly exposed. They are not only made meet to be partakers of the
inheritance of the saints in light (Col. i. 12, 13), but they have been
delivered from the powers of darkness. Thus, while they have communion
with God as a father, they contemplate their privilege with a greater pleasure,
than they probably could do if they had never known a difference. They
remember a time when they were afar off, without hope, and without God
in the world; and they remember how carelessly they then trifled upon
the brink of destruction. In this deplorable and dangerous situation they
were found of the Lord, when they sought him not, Isa. lxv. 1. He
convinced, humbled, and pardoned them, and brought them near to
himself, into a state of adoption and communion by the blood of Jesus.
The admiration, gratitude, and love, which they feel for this undeserved
grace, gives them a more lively sense of the blessings they enjoy. Yea,
the thought of what they have been redeemed from (of which they will
then have a much clearer perception than at present) will add to their joys
in heaven, and inspire such a song of praise as will be peculiar to themselves,
and in which the holy angels, who never felt the stings of guilt, nor tasted
the sweetness of pardoning mercy, will not be able to join them. They are
accordingly represented, in the prophetical vision, as standing nearest to
the throne, and uniting in the noblest strains of praise to him who sitteth
upon it (Rev. v. 9—21), while the surrounding angels can only take part in
the chorus, and admire and adore, when they behold the brightest displays
of the glory of the wonder-working God, manifested in his love to worthless,
helpless sinners. These opposite ideas are joined in my text. The people
who are spoken of as rejoicing ina great light, were, till this light arose and
shone upon them, in darkness; walking, sitting, living in darkness, and in
the land of the shadow of death. That this passage refers to Messiah, we
have a direct proof. The evangelist refers it expressly to him, and points
out the time and manner of its literal accomplishment, Matthew iv. 15, 16.
I shall first consider the literal sense and completion of the prophecy, and
then shew how fitly it applies to the state of mankind at large, and to the
happy effects of the gospel of salvation;which, by the blessing of God,
has been the instrument of bringing multitudes of many nations, peoples,
and languages, out of a state of gross darkness, into marvellous light,
1 Pet. ii. 9.

I. Hebrew words (like many in our own language) have often more than
one signification. But only one sense can be expressed in a version.
And therefore interpreters and translators frequently differ. Which of the
different words, used to express the meaning of the same original term,
is most happily chosen, may be sometimes decided by the context. The
two words, in the first verse of this chapter, rendered lightly afflicted and
grievously afflicted, signify likewise, the one to think lightly of, to account
vile; and the other, to honour, to render honourable, and glorious. Both
these words occur in one verse, and are used in these senses, in the Lord's
message to Eli, "Them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise
me shall be lightly esteemed," 1 Sam. ii. 30. Had the same words been
thus rendered in the passage before us, the sense of both verses would,
I think, have been more plain, connected, and consistent to the following
purport, agreeable to the translation given by Vitringa, and the present
bishop of London. "Nevertheless there shall not be dimness (or darkness)
as in the time of her vexation or distress. He formerly debased (made light
or vile) the land of Zebulon and Naphtali but in the latter time he hath made
it glorious, even (the land) by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee
of the Gentiles. (For) the people that walked in darkness have seen a great
light," &c.—Such was the afflicted and low state of Galilee previous to the
coming of Messiah; such was the exaltation and honour it derived from
his appearance.

1. The land allotted to the tribes of Issachar, Zebulon, and Naphtali, was
chiefly included in the province, which, upon a subsequent division of the
country, obtained the name of Galilee. The northern part of it, the inheritance
of Naphtali, was the boundary or frontier towards Syria, and had been
frequently vexed and afflicted, when the sins of Israel brought the armies
of their enemies upon them, as frontier countries usually suffer most in times
of invasion and war. Particularly this part of the land, called Galilee of the
Gentiles, was the first, and most  immediately exposed to the ravages of
Tiglath-Pileser and Sennacherib. And as the people there were likewise
more mixed with foreigners, and at the greatest distance from the capital,
Jerusalem, on these accounts Galilee was lightly esteemed by the Jews
themselves. They thought that no prophet could arise in Galilee, John vii. 52.
It even prejudiced Nathaniel against the first report he received of Jesus
as Messiah, that he lived, and was generally supposed (by those who
were content to be governed by popular rumour, without enquiring
attentively for themselves) to have been born in Galilee. He asked
with an appearance of surprise, "Can any good thing come out of
Nazareth?" John i. 46. They were accounted a rude, unpolished,
provincial people. And therefore, when Peter would have denied any
acquaintance with his Lord, he was discovered to be a Galilean (Mark xiv. 70),
by his dialect and manner of speech.

2. This despised and least valued part of the land of Israel was the principal
scene of Messiah's life and ministry, insomuch that, as I have observed, he
was supposed to have been born there, a mistake which his enemies
industriously supported and made the most of; for those who could persuade
themselves that it was so in fact, would think themselves justified in rejecting
his claim, it being one undeniable mark of Messiah, given by the prophet
Micah, that he was to be born in Bethlehem of Judah, Micah v. 2. He was,
however, brought up at Nazareth, and lived for a time in Capernaum,
towns in Galilee, but both of so little repute, that, had they not been connected
with his history, it is not probable that their names would have been transmitted
to posterity.

3. But by his residence there, Galilee was honoured and ennobled. He himself
declared, that on this account, Chorazin, Betbsaida, and Capernaum (though
probably none of them were more than inconsiderable fishingtowns) were
exalted even to heaven, Matthew xi. 21—23. Those were highly privileged
places which our Lord condescended to visit in person; so likewise are those
places where he is pleased to send his gospel. I have observed formerly, and
I make no apology for repeating a truth so very important and so little attended
to, that the glorious gospel of the blessed God, when faithfully preached, and
thankfully received and improved, renders an obscure village more honourable,
and of more real consequence, than the metropolis of a great empire, where
this light shineth not. For what are the dark places of the earth, however
celebrated for numbers and opulence, for the monuments of ambition and
arts, but habitations of cruelty, infatuation, and misery!

4. Though Galilee was favoured with the scriptures, and with synagogue-worship,
and the inhabitants were a people who professed to know the God of Israel, it
was a land of darkness at the time of Messiah's appearance. Though they were
not idolaters, ignorance prevailed among them. The law and the prophets
were read in their synagogues, but we may believe to little good purpose,
while they were under the direction of perverse teachers, who substituted the
traditions of men for the commands of God. The single circumstance of keeping
herds of swine, as the Gadarenes did, seems a proof that the law of Moses was
but little regarded by them. They, as well as the people of Judea, were under the
guidance of the Scribes and Pharisees in their religious concerns, who were, if
I may use a modern phrase, the clergy of that time; and these, we are assured by
him who knew their hearts, were generally corrupted, blind leaders of the blind.
Yet they were held in ignorant admiration, and implicitly submitted to. From the
character of the public ministers of religion, we may, without great danger of mis-
take, infer the character of the people who are pleased and satisfied with their
ministrations. As the disciple cannot, ordinarily, be expected to be superior to
his master (Luke vi. 40), the religion of the scribes may be taken as a standard
of that of the Galileans, who were instructed by them; yet these were the people
among whom Messiah chiefly conversed; so that his enemies styled him a
Galilean and a Nazarene, as a mark of reproach and contempt. Many
of his apostles, perhaps the most of them, were Galileans likewise. He
seeth not as man seeth, 1 Sam. xvi. 7. The most of his immediate followers
while upon earth were such as men despised, on account of their situation,
rank, or callings; publicans and sinners, fishermen and Galileans. This
was, among other reasons, for the encouragement of the poor, the destitute,
the despised, the miserable, and the guilty, in succeeding ages, who should
desire to put their trust in his name and to implore his mercy. To those who
received him he was the light, the true light; he relieved them from the
ignorance, wickedness, and distress in which he found them. They, on
their parts, bore testimony to him. They saw and acknowledged his glory.
They felt his power, and devoted themselves to his service. Thus much for
the literal sense.

II. But this prophecy is not to be restrained to the first and more immediate
season of its accomplishment. The Lord speaks thus of Messiah in another
place: "It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant, to raise up the
tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee
for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation to the ends of the
earth," Isaiah, xlix. 6. And there are many declarations of a like import. He
is still the light of the world (John viii. 12), though no longer visible and
conversant with men. By the influence and power of his Spirit, he is still
present wherever his gospel is known. This his word of grace and truth
he sends where he pleases, and with a discrimination not unlike that which
he observed when he was upon earth. The gospel is preached to the poor.
Courts and palaces are seldom favoured with it. While he passes by many
great cities, many habitations of the wise and wealthy, he is known in
villages and cottages. His condescension and favour to those who are
unnoticed by the world, cannot be too highly extolled. That the others are
excluded from the same benefits is more properly to be ascribed to their
obstinacy than to his will. They exclude themselves. He stands at the door
and knocks, Rev. iii. 20. His word is within their reach; his ministers are
within their call. They might easily enjoy every mean and help which the
gospel provides for sinners if they pleased, but they do not please. They
are either engaged in a round of sensual pleasure, or engrossed by studies
and pursuits which possess their hearts and fill up their thoughts and time,
so that they have neither leisure nor inclination to attend to the things
which pertain to their peace. Instead of inviting his gospel to them, they
too frequently employ their power and influence to discountenance, and,
if possible, to suppress it. They have their choice. The great and the gay
will not receive his message; it is therefore sent to the poor and to the
wretched, and they will hear it. Yet as he visited Jerusalem in person,
and taught there, so London likewise is favoured with the light of his gospel.
But alas! how few believe the report! They who do, experience the change
described in my text. Their darkness is changed into marvellous light.

Mankind, till enlightened by the word and Spirit of grace, are truly in a
state of darkness. Thick darkness is a vail which conceals from us, not
only distant, but the nearest objects. A man in the dark cannot perceive
either friend or enemy; he may be in great danger, yet think himself in
safety; or, if he thinks himself in danger, be unable to take any step for his
preservation, from a want of light. Thus, though God be our maker and
preserver, though in him we live, move, and have our being, though we
are surrounded with his presence, and proofs of his wisdom and goodness
are before us wherever we turn our eyes, yet we live without him in the world.
Equally ignorant are we of ourselves, of the proper happiness of our nature,
or how it is to be attained. We know neither the cause, nor the cure, nor the
consequences of our proneness to cleave to the dust, and of placing our
affection on inadequate and unsatisfying objects.

And if we suppose a person awakened to a conviction of the evil of sin,
and to understand that nothing less than the favour of God can make a
rational and immortal creature happy, still, without the gospel, he would
be in darkness and the shadow of death. His case may be compared to
that of a person shipwrecked upon some desert, inhospitable coast,
suffering great horrors and anxiety, from his exposedness to perish, by
hunger, by enemies, or wild beasts—who, if he saw, at no very great
distance, an island, and was, by some means, informed and assured, that
that island was the seat of safety, plenty, and pleasure; and that, if he was
once there, his dangers would all cease, and his utmost wishes be satisfied;
still, if there were neither bridge, nor boat, nor any means by which he
might arrive thither, to know that happiness was so near him, yet
inaccessible to him, would but aggravate his misery, and make his despair
more emphatically pungent. Miserable indeed must we be, if we clearly
perceived that only he, whose creatures we are, can make us happy;
and that, as sinners, we have forfeited his favour, and are utterly incapable
of regaining it, if we were left under these views, without any hope of relief.
Such must have been our situation sooner or later, if God, who is rich in
mercy, had not himself provided the means of reconciliation. For though
a hope of pardon is easily taken up by those who are ignorant of the
holiness of God, and the malignity of sin, yet nothing but a declaration
from himself, that there is forgiveness with him, can give peace to a
truly awakened conscience. But Jesus dispels this darkness, and brings
life and immortality to light by the gospel. For,

1. The office and agency of the Holy Spirit, so absolutely necessary to
make us duly sensible, either of our danger, or of the possibility of
scaping it, is entirely the effect of his mediation. The soul of man,
originally formed to be the temple of the living God, when defiled by
sin, was justly forsaken by its great inhabitant; and, since the fall,
answers the prophetical description given of Babylon: "It is become
the habitation of devils, the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every
unclean and hateful bird," Rev. xviii. 2. If we ask, as with good reason we
may, How can the wise and holy God, who is of purer eyes than to behold
iniquity, and with whom evil cannot dwell, return to his sanctuary, thus
polluted and profaned? an answer is afforded in that gracious promise,
"I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean: from all
your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you: and I will take
away the stony heart, and I will give you an heart of flesh, and," in order
to this, "I will put my Spirit within you," Ezek. xxxvi. 25, 26. But the source
of this mercy is his sovereign love and purpose, to give the seed of the
woman, his only Son, to be the mediator of sinners. By his atonement, to be
manifested in due time, but which had a virtual influence from the beginning,
the Holy Spirit returned to dwell with men.

2. His obedience unto death, when revealed by the Holy Spirit to the
enlightened conscience, affords a clear and satisfactory discovery of
reconciliation with God: it shews, that, on his part, every hindrance to the
free exercise of mercy is thereby removed, the honour of his law
vindicated, and the demands of his justice answered. On our parts, by
opening a door of hope, it removes that enmity and obduracy of heart,
which are nourished by consciousness of guilt, and a secret foreboding of
deserved punishment. But when the dignity of the Redeemer's person,
the causes, nature, and design of his sufferings are understood, emotions
of admiration, love, and gratitude, till then unknown, are felt, and obstinate
sinners are made a willing people in this day of divine power.

3. The doctrine of the cross pours a light upon every subject and
circumstance in which we are concerned. It enlarges the mind, and forms
the judgment and taste, agreeable to the standard of truth, and the real
nature of things. It rectifies those prejudices and prepossessions which
dispose us to mistake good for evil, and evil for good (Isa. v. 20), to pursue
trifles with earnestness, and to trifle with things of the greatest importance.
In Jesus Christ crucified, all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are
at once both hidden and exhibited. This object the holy angels, whose
knowledge of the wonders in creation, without doubt, greatly surpasses our
conceptions, incessantly contemplate with delight, as affording the brightest
displays of the manifold wisdom of God, Eph. iii. 10. It is especially the
fountain of wisdom to sinners. They look unto him, and are enlightened.
The slight and partial thoughts they once entertained of the great God,
the mistaken judgment they formed of themselves, of their state and their
conduct, are corrected by their knowledge of the cross: from thence they
derive a solid hope, a humble spirit, just views of their duty and obligations,
and motives and prospects which animate them in a course of cheerful,
persevering obedience to the will of God.

4. In this way, God, as revealed in Christ, is apprehended and chosen, as
the chief and proper good of the soul. Thus the poor are enriched with the
pearl of great price, and the weary obtain rest. The mind, no longer burdened
with anxiety, nor mortified with a succession of disappointments, which attended
the vain pursuit of happiness in earthly things, possesses present peace, and
rejoices in the expectation of future glory. It is released from the slavery of
hewing out broken cisterns, and introduced to the fountain of living waters.
Or, to close with the beautiful image in my text, The people who once walked
in darkness, and the region of the shadow of death are translated into the
kingdom of life and salvation, Col. i. 13.

How greatly are they to be pitied who reject the light of the gospel! It is true,
they cannot see it; but it is equally true, they will not. But may I not hope that
this is a day of divine power, in which some of you shall be made a willing
people? Do not reason against your own life, but repent, and believe the gospel.
The light shines around you, whether you perceive it or not; and it has an efficacy
to open the eyes of the blind. Where the gospel is preached, the Lord is
present. If you call upon him, he will hear, and you shall receive your sight. If
the grace and the glory of the Saviour have hitherto made no impression
upon your heart, you are spiritually blind. Could you be sensible of your
disorder, the remedy is at hand. If now, at last, you are willing to seek
him, he will be found of you. But if you deliberately prefer darkness, your state
is awfully dangerous; and if you persist in your obstinacy, your ruin is unavoidable.
God is gracious and long-suffering, but he will not be mocked, Gal. vi. 7.
Humble yourselves at once, and implore his mercy, or else prepare to meet
him in judgment. But be assured he will not meet you as a man. You must
either bend or break. The Lord forbid that he should say to any of you, in
the great day of his appearance, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting
fire!"

His Name Shall be Called Wonderful






Monday, December 16, 2013

You Say You Have the Bible in Your Houses


You say you have the Bible in your houses; do I think
you are such heathens as not to have a Bible?  But when
did you read it last?  How do you know that your spectacles,
which you have lost, have not been there for the last three years?
                                              C. H. Spurgeon

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Host Prayed

.....I have heard an anecdote of two gentlemen travelling together,
somewhere in Switzerland.  Presently they came into the midst of
the forests; and you know the gloomy tales the people tell about
the inns there, how dangerous it is to lodge in them. 
     One of them, an Infidel, said to the other, who was a Christian,
"I don't like stopping here at all; it is very dangerous indeed." 
     "Well," said the other, "let us try." 
     So they went into a house; but it looked so suspicious that neither
of them liked it; and they thought they would prefer being at home in
England. 
     Presently the landlord said, "Gentlemen, I always read and pray
with my family before going to bed; will you allow me to do so to-night?" 
     "Yes," they said, "with the greatest pleasure."  
     When they went up stairs, the Infidel said, "I am not at all afraid now."
     "Why?" said the Christian.
     "Because our host has prayed." 
     "Oh!" said the other, "then it seems, after all, you think something of
religion; because a man prays, you can go to sleep in his house." 
     And it was marvellous how both of them did sleep.  Sweet dreams
they had, for they felt that where the house had been roofed by prayer,
and walled with devotion, there could not be found a man living that would
commit an injury to them. 
                                              C. H. Spurgeon

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

What a Poor, Uncertain Dying World is This!

 A Letter from John Newton

Dear Madam,—
     What a poor, uncertain dying world is this! What a
wilderness in itself!  How dark, how desolate, without
the light of the gospel and the knowledge of Jesus! 
It does not appear so to us in a state of nature, because
we are then in a state of enchantment, the magical lantern
binding us with a splendid delusion.
     It is a great mercy to be undeceived in time; and
though our gay dreams are at an end, and we awake
to every thing that is disgustful and dismaying, yet
we see a highway through the wilderness, a powerful
guard, an infallible guide at hand to conduct us
through; and we can discern beyond the limits of the
wilderness a better land, where we shall be at rest and
at home.  What will the difficulties we meet by the
way then signify?  The remembrance of them will
only remain to heighten our sense of the love, care,
and power of our Saviour and leader.  O, how shall
we then admire, adore, and praise him, when he shall
condescend to unfold to us the beauty, propriety, and
harmony of the whole train of his dispensations towards
us, and give us a clear retrospect of all the way, and all the
turns of our pilgrimage!
     In the meanwhile, the best method of adorning our
profession, and of enjoying peace in our souls, is
simply to trust him, and absolutely to commit ourselves
and our all to his management.  By casting our burdens upon
him, our spirits become light and cheerful; we are freed from
a thousand anxieties and inquietudes, which are wearisome to
our minds, and which, with respect to events, are needless for
us, yea, useless.  But though it may be easy to speak of this
trust, and it appears to our judgment perfectly right
and reasonable, the actual attainment is a great thing;
and especially, so to trust the Lord, not by fits and starts,
surrendering one day and retracting the next, but to
abide by our surrender, and go habitually trusting
through all the changes we meet, knowing that his
love, purpose, and promise, are unchangeable.  Some
little fainting, perhaps, none are freed from; but I believe
a power of trusting the Lord in good measure at
all times, and living quietly under the shadow of his
wing, is what the promise warrants us to expect, if
we seek it by diligent prayer; if not all at once, yet
by a gradual increase.  May it be your experience and mine.
                                               John Newton

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Blood of Jesus is Precious

.....the blood of Christ is precious for another reason.  Sometimes
people get the idea that this amazing transaction of the cross was
a governmental arrangement with no especial significance in the
way of affection or love.  God commendeth his love to us in that
while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  We have a picture
setting forth all the effect of the infinite love of God; precious to me
because of what it cost a Father to give that Son to death.  Do you
think of God as a great, wonderful, impassible being that experiences
no sorrow—that can know no emotion such as you and I feel at the
death of a child?  God through the Scriptures, talks in human language;
tells of his sorrow, of his love; of his being grieved at the heart; of his
being susceptible of those emotions of which yours and mine are but
feeble manifestations.  Now out of the bosom of the Father to make
this atoning sacrifice, his only begotten and eternal Son came forth to
suffer and die—it was full of cost to the Father.  I saw during the war
what some of you saw.  I remember a regiment in my own town in
Kentucky; I saw the boys standing in ranks waiting for the word to
march to battle.  I have seen a widowed mother hanging upon an
only son—seen hot tears pouring down—seen her sinking at the
feet of her son when the word to march came.  I have seen fathers
and mothers, brothers, wives and sisters yielding up their loved ones
to the country.  Some of you here to-night know how great a sacrifice
this was.  But if you could have known that the loved son would have
come back a mangled corpse your patriotism would have broken down. 
You gave him up with nine chances in ten that he would come back a
hero.  But when God gave His Son he knew what was coming.  He
knew the time was coming when under the cause of the law that dear
Son bearing the sins of the world would suffer the agonies of the
damned, that he would lie in the garden and sweat great drops of  blood
under the force of an anguish that we can never comprehend.  God knew
that His Son would have His back stripped, His flesh hanging in ribbons,
as he was scourged like a common criminal.  God knew that His own
Son, the ruler of the universe, would be spit upon and mocked; God
knew not simply that His Son would go to yonder cross bearing the
agony of crucifixion, but that in those hours of darkness, when there
was silence in Heaven, when the earth reeled and rocked in terrible
sympathy with that awful scene, God knew He must smite His Son as he
would smite a world of sinners, cursed by the law. There is infinite meaning
packed away in the 16th verse 3 chapter of John: "God so loved the world
that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him,
should not perish, but have everlasting life."  "Herein is love, not that we
loved God, but that He loved us and gave His Son to be a propitiation
for our sins."  Besides it is precious because of what it cost the Son who
sprang with gladness to offer himself in our stead, to have his face marred
more than the face of any man; to have himself filled with all the mysterious
consciousness of a sin-offering—bearing the awful curse of the law that
rested on men and that you and I might be redeemed from that curse.
                                          Rev. George F. Pentecost

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thou Didst Make the Promise

Hear my prayer, O LORD, give ear to my supplications: 
in thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness.   
                                             Psalms 143:1



It was thy righteousness that thou didst make the promise, but it is
thy faithfulness that thou wilt keep thy promise: and seeing I am
certain of thy making it, how can I be doubtful of thy keeping
it?  If thou shouldst not answer me in thy righteousness, yet thou
shouldst be righteous still; but if thou shouldst not answer me in
thy faithfulness, thou shouldst not be faithful still.
                                             Sir Richard Baker 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

True Worship





Standing Beneath a Tree Today

     Standing beneath a tree today, I heard an unknown bird effortlessly singing a song recognized by her own particular species.  And I will be forever ignorant of the meaning or usage of those beautiful notes!
     But I am a Christian and as such, I, too, have songs to sing.
     But I am like a mocking bird which utilizes the songs of other species into her repertoire.

                            M. Robbins

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Christ is truly and essentially Jehovah

The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade 
upon thy right hand.     Ps 121:5

Two principal points are asserted in these previous words.
1. Jehovah, and Jehovah alone, the omnipotent and self-existent
God, is the Keeper, and Preserver of his people. 2. The people
of God are kept, at all times and in all circumstances, by his mighty
power unto everlasting salvation; they are preserved even “for
evermore.”  In the first particular, the divinity of the great Keeper
is declared; and, in the second, the eternal security of his people
through his omnipotence and faithfulness.  This was the Psalmist’s
gospel.  He preached it to others, and he felt it himself.  He did not
speculate upon what he did not understand; but he had a clear
evidence, and a sweet perception, of these two glorious doctrines,
which he delivered to the people.......This character, under the name
of Jehovah, is the character of Christ.  Just such a one is Jesus, the
Shepherd of Israel.  He says of himself to the Father,  “Those that thou
gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the Son of Perdition,
that the Scripture might be fulfilled.”.....From what has been premised, it
seems evident, that the keeper of the faithful is no other than Jehovah. 
This the Psalmist has proved.  It appears equally evident that Christ is
their Keeper and Preserver.  This he hath declared himself; and his apostles
have repeatedly declared it of him.  It follows, therefore, that Christ is truly
and essentially Jehovah.  All the sophistry in the world cannot elude this
conclusion; nor all the heretics in the world destroy the premises.  And, if
Christ be Jehovah, he is all that supreme, eternal, omnipotent being,
which Arians, Socinians, and others deny him to be.
                                                                      Ambrose Serle, 1815

Monday, November 25, 2013

Our God is Ever Awake


He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth 
thee will not slumber.  Behold, he that keepeth Israel 
shall neither slumber nor sleep.            Psalms 121:3-4

     A poor woman, as the Eastern story has it, came to the Sultan
one day, and asked compensation for the loss of some property.
     “How did you lose it?” said the monarch.
     “I fell asleep,” was the reply, “and a robber entered my dwelling.”
     “Why did you fall asleep?”
     “I fell asleep because I believed that you were awake.”
     The Sultan was so much delighted with the answer of the woman,
that he ordered her loss to be made up.  But what is true, only by a
legal fiction, of human governments, that they never sleep, is true in the
most absolute sense with reference to the divine government.  We can
sleep in safety because our God is ever awake.  We are safe because
he never slumbers.  Jacob had a beautiful picture of the ceaseless care
of Divine Providence on the night when he fled from his father's house. 
The lonely traveller slept on the ground, with the stones for his pillow,
and the sky for his canopy.  He had a wondrous vision of a ladder
stretching from earth to heaven, and on which angels were seen
ascending and descending.  And he heard Jehovah saying to him,
“Behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither
thou goest.” 
                                                                     N. McMichael

Saturday, November 23, 2013

“Though an host should encamp against me,”

Though an host should encamp against me, my heart 
shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in 
this will I be confident.
                                               Psalms 27:3

“Though an host should encamp against me,” etc.  If I love my
God, and I love him with a noble-spirited love, all my enemies
will fight against me in vain; I shall never fear them, and the whole
world cannot harm me.  Charity cannot be offended, because
she takes offence at nothing.  Enemies, enviers, slanderers,
persecutors, I defy you; if I love, I shall triumph over your
attacks.  Ye can take away my goods; but if my love has a
generous spirit, I shall be always rich enough, and ye cannot
take away my love, which alone makes all my riches and treasures.
Ye may blacken my reputation; but as I hold you cheaply quit of
all homage of praise and applause, I, with all my heart, give you a
free leave to blame and to defame.  Happily for me, ye cannot
blacken me before my God, and his esteem alone makes amends
to me, and rewards me, for all your contempt.  Ye can persecute
my body, but there I even will help you on by my penances;
the sooner it shall perish, the sooner shall I be delivered from this
domestic enemy, which is a burden to me.  What harm, then, can
ye do me?  If I am resolved to suffer all and if I think I deserve
all the outrages ye can do me, ye will only give more loftiness of
spirit to my love, more brilliancy to my crown.
                                                  Jean Baptiste Elias Avrillon

Friday, November 22, 2013

Praise our Triune Jehovah


He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded 

his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name.  
                                               Psalms 111:9

Praise our Triune Jehovah for his redemption.  Write it down
where you may read it.  Affix it where you may see it.  Engrave
it on your heart that you may understand it.  It is a word big
with importance.  In it is enfolded your destinies and those
of the Church, to all future ages.  There are heights in it you never
can have scaled, and depths you never can have fathomed.  You
have never taken the wings of the morning, and gained the utmost
parts of earth, to measure the length and breadth of it.  Wear it as
a seal on your arm, as a signet on your right hand, for Jesus is the
author of it.  O! prize it as a precious stone, more precious than
rubies. . . . Let it express your best hopes while living, and dwell
on your trembling lips in the moment of dissolution; for it shall
form the chorus of the song of the redeemed throughout eternity.
                                                    Isaac Saunders

Thursday, November 21, 2013

God Remembered

.....No life is so hedged about with difficulties as that of faith. 
This was the life lived by Noah and his sons, whom we see
absolutely depending upon the heavens for support.  The earth
was covered with water.  There was no bottom on which
to stand.  It was the word of promise that upheld them, as
they drifted in this welter of waters.
     The difficulty besetting Noah is hinted at in the words,
"God remembered."  Moses thus intimates that Noah had been
tossed on the water so long that God seemed to have forgotten
him entirely.  They who pass through such mental strain, when
the rays of divine grace are gone and they sit in darkness or are
forgotten by God, find by experience that it is far more difficult
to live in the Word or by faith alone than to be a hermit or a
monk.  Hence it is not a meaningless expression when the Holy
Spirit says that "God remembered Noah."  He means that from
the day that Noah entered the ark, no word was spoken, nothing
was revealed to him; that he saw no ray of divine grace
shining, but merely clung to the promise which he had accepted,
while the waters and waves raged as if God had certainly forgotten
him.
     The word "remembered" indicates that great sadness beset both
man and beast during the entire time of the flood.  It must have been
by dint of great patience and extraordinary courage that Noah and
the others bore this lapse from God's memory, which is simply
unbearable to the flesh without the spirit, even in slight trials.  True,
God always remembers his own, even when he seems to have
forgotten them; but Moses indicates that he remembered his people
here in a visible way, by a sign, and by openly fulfilling what he
had previously promised through the Word and the Spirit.  This
story sets before us an example of faith, of endurance and patience.    
                              Martin Luther 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Seeking to be Justified by the Law Brings Death instead of Salvation


     But this seemeth a strange and wonderful definition, that to
live to the law, is to die to God: and to die to the law, is to
live to God. These two propositions are clean contrary to reason,
and therefore no crafty sophister or law-worker can understand
them.  But learn thou the true understanding thereof.  He that
liveth to the law, that is, seeketh to be justified by the works of
the law, is and remaineth a sinner: therefore he is dead and
condemned.  For the law cannot justify and save him, but accuseth,
terrifieth, and killeth him.  Therefore to live unto the law, is to die
unto God; and contrariwise, to die to the law, is to live unto God.
Wherefore if thou wilt live unto God, thou must die to the law; but
if thou wilt live to the law, thou shalt die to God.  Now, to live unto
God, is to be justified by grace or by faith for Christ's sake without
the law and works.
     This is then the proper and true definition of a Christian, that he is
the child of grace and remission of sins because he is under no law,
but is above the law, sin, death, and hell.  And even as Christ is free
from the grave, and Peter from the prison, so is a Christian free
from the law.....
.....Therefore, when I feel the remorse and sting of conscience for sin,
I behold that brazen serpent, Christ, hanging upon the cross.  There
I find another sin against my sin, which accuseth and devoureth me.
Now, this other sin, namely, in the flesh of Christ, which taketh away
the sins of the world, is almighty, it condemneth and swalloweth up
my sin.  So my sin is condenmed by sin, that is, by Christ crucified:
"who is made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of
God through him.'' (1 Cor. 5:21.)  In like manner I find death in my flesh,
which afflicteth and killeth me, but I have in me a contrary death, which
is the death of death, for this death crucifieth and swalloweth up my death.
     These things be not done by the law or works, but by Christ
crucified, upon whose shoulders lie all the evils and miseries of mankind,
the law, sin, death, the devil, and hell: and all these do die in him, for
by his death he hath killed them......
.....let us now set apart the law and charity until another time, and let us rest
upon the principal point of this present matter, which is this, that Jesus Christ
the Son of God died upon the cross, did bear in his body my sins, the law,
death, the devil and hell.  These invincible enemies and tyrants do oppress,
vex, and trouble me, and therefore I am careful how I may be delivered out
of their hands, justified and saved.  Here I find neither law, work, nor charity,
which is able to deliver me from their tyranny.  There is none but the Lord
Jesus only and alone, which taketh away the law, killeth and destroyeth my
death in his body, and by this means spoileth hell, judgeth and crucifieth the
devil, and throweth him down into hell.  To be brief, all the enemies which
did before torment and oppress me, Christ Jesus hath brought to nought,
"hath spoiled them, and made a show of them openly, triumphing by
himself over them," (Col. 2:15,) in such sort, that they can now rule and
reign no more over me, but are constrained to obey me.

                                              Martin Luther

Monday, November 4, 2013

Why then should I so highly esteem Peter, which is but a drop, and set God aside, which is the whole sea?

Galations 2:11. And when Peter was come to Antiochia, 
I withstood him to his face, for he was to he blamed.

     Paul goeth on still in his confutation, saying, "that he not only
hath for his defence the testimony of Peter, and the other Apostles
which were at Jerusalem, but also that he withstood Peter in the
presence of the whole church of Antioch."  He showeth here a
matter, not done in a corner, but in the face of the whole church;
for, as before I have said, he hath here no trifling matter in hand,
but the chiefest article of all Christian doctrine, the utility and majesty
whereof whoso rightly esteemeth, to him all other things shall seem
but vile and nothing worth; for what is Peter, what is Paul, what is
an angel from heaven, what are all other creatures to the article of
justification?  Which if we know, then are we in the clear light; but
if we be ignorant thereof, then are we in most miserable darkness.
Wherefore, if we see this article impugned or defaced, fear not
to resist either Peter or an angel from heaven, following the
example of Paul, who, seeing the majesty of this article to be in
danger for the dignity of Peter, had no regard of his dignity and
estimation, that he might keep the same pure and incorrupt.
For it is written, "He that loveth father or mother, or his own life,
more than me, is not worthy of me." (Mark x. 37.)
     Wherefore we are not ashamed, for the defence of the truth,
to be counted and called of the hypocrites, proud and obstinate,
and such as will be only wise, will hear none, will give place to
none.  Here we must needs be obstinate and inflexible.  For
the cause why we offend man, that is to say, tread down the
majesty of the person or of the world, is so great, that the sins
which the world judgeth to be most henious, are counted singular
virtues before God.  "In that we love our parents, honour the
magistrates, show reverence to Peter and other ministers of the
word, we do well."  But here we have in hand the cause
neither of Peter, nor parents, nor magistrates, nor of the world,
nor of any other creatures, but of God himself.  Here if I give
no place to my parents, to the magistrate, or an angel from
heaven, I do well.  For what is the creature in respect of the
Creator?  Yea, what are all creatures, being compared unto him?
Even as one drop of water in respect of the whole sea.  Why
then should I so highly esteem Peter, which is but a drop, and
set God aside, which is the whole sea?  Let the drop therefore
give place to the sea, and let Peter give place unto God.  This I
say, to the end that ye should diligently weigh and consider the
matter whereof Paul entreateth: for he entreateth of the word of
God, which can never be magnified enough.....
.....and Peter, although he heard this commandment of Christ, "Go
into the whole world," &c. (Matt xxviii.), had not gone unto Cornelius,
if he had not been admonished by a vision. (Acts x. 12.)  And in this
matter he did not only err, but also committed a great sin; and if Paul
had not resisted him, all the Gentiles which did believe, had been
constrained to receive circumcision and to keep the law.  The believing
Jews also had  been confirmed in their opinion: to wit, that the observation
of these things was necessary to salvation; and by this means they had
received again the law instead of the Gospel, Moses instead of Christ.
And of all this great enormity and horrible sin, Peter, by his dissimulation,
had been the only occasion.  Therefore we may not attribute to the saints
such perfection as though they could not sin......
.....So circumcision of itself is good, but this end is evil: if thou be not
circumcised after the law of Moses, thou canst not be saved.  Also to
eat meats prohibited in the law is not evil; but this shrinking and
dissimulation of Peter is evil.  For it might be said, Peter abstaineth from
meats forbidden in the law, wherefore if thou  dost not likewise abstain,
thou canst not be saved.  This Paul might in no wise dissemble; for
the truth of the Gospel was here in danger.  To the end therefore that this
truth might continue sound and incorrupt, he resisted Peter to his face.
                                              Martin Luther

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Should God's Word Be Preferred before the Apostleship?

.....in the cause of religion and the word of God, there must
be no respect of persons.  But in matters of policy we must
have regard to the person; for, otherwise there must needs
follow a contempt of all reverence and order.  In this world
God will have an order, a reverence, and a difference of
persons.  For else the child, the servant, the subject, would say,
I am a Christian as well as my father, my schoolmaster, my master,
my prince, why then should I reverence him?  Before God, then,
there is no respect of persons, neither of Grecian nor of Jew, but
all are one in Christ; although not so before the world.
     Thus Paul confuteth the argument of the false apostles as
touching the authority of the Apostles, and saith, that it is nothing
to the purpose.  For the question is not here concerning the
respect of persons, but there is a far weightier matter in hand,
that is to say, a divine matter concerning God and his word, and
whether this word ought to be preferred before the apostleship,
or no.  Whereunto Paul answereth, so that the truth of the
Gospel may continue, so that the word of God, and the righteousness
of faith, may be kept pure and incorrupt, let the apostleship go, let
an angel from heaven, let Peter, let Paul, all together perish......
.....Let this be then the conclusion of all together, that we will suffer our
goods to be taken away, our name, our life, and all that we have; but the
Gospel, our faith, Jesus Christ, we will never suffer to be wrested from us......
.....Wherefore, a Christian, as touching his faith, can never
be too proud nor too stout, neither must he relent or give place,
no, not the breadth of one hair; for faith maketh a man here
like unto God; but God suffereth nothing, he giveth place to
none, for he is immutable; so is faith immutable, and therefore
may suffer nothing, give place to no man.
                                              Martin Luther

Friday, November 1, 2013

Do not too much Magnify the Outward Persons

     So the prince, the magistrate, the preacher, the schoolmaster,
the scholar, the father, the mother, the children, the master, the
servant, are persons and outward veils, which God will have us
to acknowledge, love, and reverence as his creatures, which also
must needs be had in this life; but he will not have us so to
reverence them, or trust unto them, that we forget him.  And to
the end that we should not too much magnify the outward persons,
or put any trust in them, God leaveth in them offences and between
the person and God himself.  David, that good king, because he
should not seem to be a person upon whom men should trust, fell
into horrible sins, adultery and murder.  Peter, that excellent Apostle,
denied Christ.  These, and such-like examples, whereof the Scripture
is full, ought to warn us, that we repose not our trust in the person and
outward veil, nor think that when we have the outward shows and
shadows, we have all things;.....God hath given his creatures
to our use, and to do us service, and not as idols, that we should
do service unto them. Let us then use bread, wine, apparel,
possessions, gold, silver, and all other creatures; but let us not trust
or glory in them: for we must trust and glory in God alone.
He only is to be loved, he only is to be feared and honoured.....
.....But when the question is as touching religion, conscience,
the fear of God, faith, and the service of God, we must
not fear these outward persons, we must put no trust in them,
look for no comfort from them, or hope deliverance by them,
either corporally or spiritually.  For this cause God will have
no respect of persons in judgment: for judgment is a divine
thing.  Wherefore I ought neither to fear the judge, nor trust in
the judge: but my fear and trust ought to be in God alone, who
is the true judge.  The civil judge or magistrate I ought indeed
to reverence for God's cause (Deut. i.), whose minister he is;
but my conscience may not stay or trust upon his justice and
equity, or be feared through his unjust dealing or tyranny,
whereby I might fall into any offence against God in lying, in bearing
false witness, in denying the truth, etc.  Otherwise, I will reverence
and honour the magistrate with all my heart.
                                              Martin Luther

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Christ and the Law can by No Means Agree

.....because they mingle the law with the Gospel, they must needs
be perverters of the Gospel.  For either Christ must remain, and
the law perish, or the law must remain and Christ perish; for Christ
and the law can by no means agree and reign together in the conscience.
Where the righteousness of the law ruleth, there cannot the righteousness
of grace rule; and again, where the righteousness of grace reigneth, there
cannot the righteousness of the law reign; for one of them must needs
give place unto the other.  And if thou canst not believe that God will
forgive thy sins for Christ's sake, whom he sent into the world to be
our high-priest; how then, I pray thee, wilt thou believe that he will
forgive the same for the works of the law, which thou couldest never
perform; or for thine own works, which (as thou must be constrained
to confess) be such, as it is impossible for them to countervail the
judgment of God?
     Wherefore, the doctrine of grace can by no means stand with
the doctrine of the law.  The one must simply be refused and
abolished, and the other confirmed and established.  For as Paul
saith here, to mingle the one with the other, is to overthrow the
Gospel of Christ.  And yet, if it come to debating, the greater
part overcometh the better; for Christ, with his side, is weak, and
the Gospel but a foolish preaching; contrariwise, the kingdom
of the world, and the devil, the prince thereof, are strong.
Besides that, the wisdom and righteousness of the flesh carry a
goodly show; and by this means, the righteousness of grace and
faith is lost, and the other righteousness of the law and works
advanced and maintained.....
     It seemeth to be a light matter to mingle the law and the
Gospel, faith and works, together:  but it doth more mischief
than a man's reason can conceive; for it doth not only blemish and
darken the knowledge of grace, but also it taketh away Christ,
with all his benefits, and it utterly overthroweth the Gospel, as
Paul saith in this place.  The cause of this great evil is our flesh,
which, being plunged in sins, seeth no way how to get out but by
works, and therefore it would live in the righteousness of the law,
and rest in the trust and confidence of her own works.  Wherefore,
it is utterly ignorant of the doctrine of faith and grace,
without the which, not withstanding, it is impossible for the conscience
to find rest and quietness....
.....So we at this day do not reject fasting, and other good exercises,
as damnable things; but we teach, that by these exercises we do not
obtain remission of sins.
                                              Martin Luther

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Brand Plucked out of the Fire


A Brand plucked out of the Fire-Zech 3:1-5

With Satan, my accuser, near,
My spirit trembled when I saw
The Lord in majesty appear,
And heard the language of His law.

In vain I wished and strove to hide
The tattered filthy rags I wore:
While my fierce foe, insulting, cried,
"See what you trusted in before!"

Struck dumb, and left without a plea,
I heard my gracious Savior say,
"Know, Satan, I this sinner free,
I died to take his sins away.

"This is a brand which I, in love,
To save from wrath and sin design;
In vain thy accusations prove;
I answer all, and claim him Mine."

At His rebuke the tempter fled;
Then He removed my filthy dress;
"Poor sinner, take this robe," He said,
"It is thy Savior's righteousness.

"And see a crown of life prepared!
That I might thus thy head adorn;
I thought no shame or suffering hard,
But wore for thee a crown of thorn."

O, how I heard these gracious words!
They broke and healed my heart at once;
Constrained me to become the Lord's,
And all my idol-gods renounce.

Now, Satan, thou hast lost thy aim,
Against this brand thy threats are vain;
Jesus has plucked it from the flame,
And who shall put it in again?
                             John Newon

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Tongue

Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door 
of my lips.  Psalms 141:3


The tongue is the principal instrument in the cause of God;
and it is the chief engine of the devil; give him this, and he asks
no more-there is no mischief or misery he will not accomplish by it.
The use, the influence of it, therefore, is inexpressible; and words
are never to be considered only as effects, but as causes,
the operation of which can never be fully imagined.  Let us
suppose a case, I fear, but too common.  You drop, in
the thoughtlessness of conversation, or for the sake of argument or
wit, some irreligious, sceptical expression-it lodges in the memory
of a child, or a servant-it takes root in a soil favourable to such
seed-it gradually springs up, and brings forth fruit, in the profanation
of the Sabbath; the neglect of the means of grace; in the reading
of improper books; in the choice of dangerous companions;-who
can tell where it will end?  But there is a Being who knows
where it began.  It will be acknowledged that some have it in
their power, by reason of their office, talents, and influence, to do
much more injury than others; but none are so insignificant
as to be harmless.  
                                                                                  W. Jay

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sowing in Tears

The spiritual redemption which was effected by Jesus Christ is
the Christian's highest consolation and joy; and the greatest
miracle which God ever wrought among men.  God often
so deals with His children, that they receive greater blessings
than they themselves had hoped for.  It is our duty as Christians
to remember before God, in our prayers, those who are in
distress and have been wrongly imprisoned.  The tears of true
repentance and of sanctified affliction are a precious seed, from
which will spring a joyful harvest.  In the kingdom of nature
the seed bears after its own kind, but God has a different
order for believers in the kingdom of glory.  They sow tears
and reap joy.  Where nothing is sown, nothing will be harvested.
                                                             Starke

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

God Often Hides His Face

God often hides His face from us, and postpones His help, only that
we may pray more earnestly.  The more success the ungodly have in
their heart's desire, the less they care for God.  Pride and haughtiness
make the ungodly so unreasonable that they do not inquire after man
or God, and they regard all wholesome reflection as folly.  The security
and dissoluteness of man receive their support, in not reflecting upon
the judgments of God.  If an ungodly man believes in the word of God,
he must likewise believe that his fall is near, that it will surely come. 
Since however he does not believe this, he must likewise regard the
word of God as lies.  The ungodly make lies their refuge and hypocrisy
their shelter; but the curse reaches them.  To deny Divine providence is
to blaspheme against God.  When God begins to search after wickedness,
then everything must come out; for God sees even into the most secret
corners.  As long as the enemies of Christ are unable to cast Him down
from His throne of glory, His Church will remain in spite of all the devils.
                                                             Starke

Monday, October 21, 2013

Driven to the Throne of Grace

Often God's children are driven to the throne of grace by some desperate
need of help and definite supply of an absolute want, and, as they cry
to God and plead their case with tears before him, he so manifests his presence
to them and so fills them with a consciousness of his love and power, that the
burden is gone and without the want being supplied that drove them to God,
they rejoice in God himself and care not for the deprivation.  This was Paul's
experience when he went thus to God about the thorn, and came away without
the specific relief he had prayed for, but with such a blessing as a result of his
drawing near to God, that he little cared whether the thorn remained or not—or,
rather, rejoiced that it was not removed; that it might be used to keep him near
to God, whose love so filled his soul.
                                                                            D. W. Whittle