Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Grace is mingled with corruption

"But grace is not only little, but mingled with corruption; therefore a Christian is said to be smoking flax. So we see that grace does not do away with corruption all at once, but some is left for believers to fight with. The purest actions of the purest men need Christ to perfume them; and this is his office. When we pray, we need to pray again for Christ to pardon the defects of our prayers."

From The Bruised Reed, by Richard Sibbes.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Soul stilling

"Fifthly, A holy silence takes in gracious, blessed, soul-quieting conclusions about the issue and event of those afflictions that are upon us, Lam. 3:27-34. In this choice scripture you may observe these five soul-stilling conclusions.

(1.) First, and that more generally, That they shall work for their good ver. 27, 'It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.' A gracious soul secretly concludes, as stars shine brightest in the night, so God will make my soul shine and glister like gold, whilst I am in this furnace, and when I come out of the furnace of affliction: Job 23:10, 'He knoweth the way that I take; and when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.'

Surely, as the tasting of honey did open Jonathan’s eyes, so this cross, this affliction, shall open mine eyes; by this stroke I shall come to have a clearer sight of my sins and of myself, and a fuller sight of my God, Job 33:27, 28; 40:4, 5; 13:1-7.

Surely this affliction shall issue in the purging away of my dross, Isa. 1:25.

Surely as ploughing of the ground killeth the weeds, and harrowing breaketh hard clods, so these afflictions shall kill my sins, and soften my heart, Hosea 5:15, 6:1-3.

Surely as the plaster draws out the core, so the afflictions that are upon me shall draw out the core of pride, the core of self-love, the core of envy, the core of earthliness, the core of formality, the core of hypocrisy, Pa. 119:67, 71.

Surely by these the Lord will crucify my heart more and more to the world, and the world to my heart, Gal. 5:14; Ps. 131:1-3.

Surely by these afflictions the Lord will hide pride from any soul, Job 33:14-21.

Surely these afflictions are but the Lord's pruning-knives, by which he will bleed my sins, and prune my heart, and make it more fertile and fruitful; they are but the Lord’s portion, by which he will clear me, and rid me of those spiritual diseases and maladies, which are most deadly and dangerous to my soul…

…Surely these shall increase my spiritual experiences, Rom. 5:3, 4.

Surely by these I shall be made more partaker of God's holiness, Heb. 12:10. As black soap makes white clothes, so doth sharp afflictions make holy hearts.

Surely by these God will communicate more of himself unto me, Hosea 2:14.

Surely by these afflictions the Lord will draw out my heart more and more to seek him, Isa. 26:16. Tatianus told the heathen Greeks, that when they were sick, then they would send for their gods to be with them, as Aganmemnon did at the siege of Troy, send for his ten councillors. Hosea 5:15, 'In their afflictions they will seek me early,' or as the Hebrew hath it, 'they will morning me;' in times of affliction, Christians will industriously, speedily, early seek unto the Lord.

Surely by these trials and troubles the Lord will fix my soul more than ever upon the great concernments of another world, John 14:1-3; Rom. 8:17, 18; 2 Cor. 4:16-18.

Surely by these afflictions the Lord will work in me more tenderness and compassion towards those that are afflicted, Heb. 10:34, 13:3…

…Surely these are but God's love-tokens: Rev. 3:19, 'As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.' …saith the holy Christian, O my soul! be quiet, be still; all is in love, all is a fruit of divine favour. I see honey upon the top of every twig, I see the rod is but a rosemary, branch, I have sugar with my gall, and wine with my wormwood; therefore be silent, O my soul! And this general conclusion, that all should be for good, had this blessed eject upon the church: Lam. 3:28, 'He sitteth alone, and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him.’

Afflictions abase the loveliness of the world without, that might entice us; it abates the lustiness of the flesh within, which might else ensnare us! And it abates the spirit in its quarrel against the flesh and the world; by all which it proves a mighty advantage unto us."

From A mute Christian under the smarting rod; With Sovereign antidotes for every case. A Christian with an olive leaf in his mouth, when under the greatest afflictions, trials, troubles, and darkest providences; with answers to questions and objections, calculated to promote submission and silence under all the changes that may be experienced in this world, by Thomas Brooks.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Counterfeit Repentance (part 2)

"Another deceit about repentance is resolution against sin.
A person may purpose and make vows, yet be no penitent. `Thou saidst, I will not transgress' (Jer. 2.20). Here was a resolution; but see what follows: `under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot'. Notwithstanding her solemn engagements, she played fast and loose with God and ran after her idols. We see by experience what protestations a person will make when he is on his sick-bed, if God should recover him again; yet he is as bad as ever. He shows his old heart in a new temptation.

Resolutions against sin may arise:
(1) From present extremity; not because sin is sinful, but because it is painful. This resolution will vanish.
(2) From fear of future evil, an apprehension of death and hell: `I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him' (Rev. 6.8). What will not a sinner do, what vows will he not make, when he knows he must die and stand before the judgment-seat? Self-love raises a sick-bed vow, and love of sin will prevail against it. Trust not to a passionate resolution; it is raised in a storm and will die in a calm."

From The Doctrine of Repentance, by Thomas Watson.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Counterfeit Repentance

"The first deceit of repentance is legal terror. A man has gone on long in sin. At last God arrests him, shows him what desperate hazard he has run, and he is filled with anguish. Within a while the tempest of conscience is blown over, and he is quiet. Then he concludes that he is a true penitent because he has felt some bitterness in sin. Do not be deceived: this is not repentance. Ahab and Judas had some trouble of mind. It is one thing to be a terrified sinner and another to be a repenting sinner. Sense of guilt is enough to breed terror. Infusion of grace breeds repentance. If pain and trouble were sufficient to repentance, then the damned in hell should be most penitent, for they are most in anguish. Repentance depends upon a change of heart. There may be terror, yet with no change of heart."

From The Doctrine of Repentance, by Thomas Watson.