Precious Jesus

"Afresh, precious, precious Jesus, I resign this body to You, for doing or suffering, for living or dying. Will You accept it? Will You use me for Your glory more than heretofore, that You may have some little return for all the benefits You have done to me? Oh, do grant this request; my heart longs for it, my spirit pleads for it; and "if You will, You can." You know the hot temptation of which I am the subject. Bring Your glory out of it, and keep me from the evil, and it shall be well." - Ruth Bryan

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

God and country?

This seems quite fitting for the times we are in...

True patriotism!

Dear friend,
Allow me to say, that it excites both my wonder and concern, that a Christian minister such as yourself, should think it worth his while to attempt political reforms. When I look around upon the present state of the nation, such an attempt appears to me, to be no less vain and foolish, than it would be to paint the cabin—while the ship is sinking! Or to decorate the parlor—while the house is on fire!

When our Lord Jesus was upon earth, He refused to get involved in disputes or politics, "Friend, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?" Luke 12:14. "My kingdom is not of this world! If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight!" John 18:36. God's children belong to a kingdom which is not of this world; they are strangers and pilgrims upon earth, and a part of their Scriptural character is, that they are the "quiet in the land." Psalm 35:19.
Satan has many contrivances to amuse people, and to divert their thoughts from their real danger!
My dear sir, my prayer to God for you is—that He may induce you to employ the talents He has given you, in pointing out sin as the great cause and source of every existing evil; and to engage those who love and fear Him, (instead of wasting time in political speculations, for which very few of them are competent,) to sigh and cry for our abounding abominations, and to stand in the breach, by prayer, that God's wrath may yet be averted, and our national mercies prolonged! This, I think, is true patriotism—the best way in which people in private life may serve their country.

I consider the ungodly as saws and hammers in the hand of the Lord. So far as they are His instruments, they will succeed—but not an inch further! Their wrath shall praise Him, and be subservient to His designs!

If our lot is so cast that we can exercise our ministry free from stripes, fines, imprisonments, and death—it is more than the gospel has promised to us! If Christians were quiet when under the cruel governments of Nero and other wicked persecutors, when they were hunted down like wild beasts—then we ought to be not only quiet but verythankful now! It was then accounted an honor to suffer for Christ and the 'offence of the cross'!

Those are to be greatly pitied, who boast of their 'liberty'—and yet they do not consider that they are in the most deplorable bondage as the slaves of sin and Satan, under the curse of God's law and His eternal wrath! Oh! for a voice to reach their hearts, that they may know their true and dreadful state—and seek deliverance from their horrific thraldom! May you and I labor to direct them to the one thing, which is absolutely needful, and abundantly sufficient.

If I had the wisdom or influence to soothe the angry passions of mankind—I would gladly employ them! But I am a stranger and a pilgrim here in this world. My charter, my rights and my treasures, are all in heaven—and there my heart ought to be. In a very short time, I may be removed (and perhaps suddenly) into the unseen and eternal world—where all that now causes so much bustle upon earth—will be of no more importance to me—than the events which took place among the antediluvians!
In the hour, when death shall open the door into eternity—many things which now assume an 'air of importance', will be found as light and unsubstantial as a child's dream!

How crucial then, is it for me—to be found watching, with my lamp burning, diligently engaged in my proper calling! For the Lord has not called me to set governmentsright—but to preach the gospel, to proclaim the glory of His name, and to endeavor to win souls! "Let the dead bury their own dead—but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God!" Luke 9:60. Happy is that servant, whom his Master finds so doing, when He returns!

As you have forced me to respond—both duty and love have obliged me to be faithful and free in giving you my thoughts.

I recommend you to the care and blessing of the great Shepherd and Savior; and remain for His sake, your affectionate friend and brother,
John Newton

Monday, October 24, 2016

Approaching darkness

“Give glory to the Lord your God, before He cause darkness” —Jeremiah 13:16. 

 These words are part of a weeping prophecy wherein the prophet is attempting to awaken this secure and stubborn people to repentance, from the consideration of the judgments of God that were coming upon them, of which we read in the preceding part of the chapter; and now he comes to give them good and seasonable counsel, (vs 15) “Hear ye, and give ear, be not proud; for the Lord hath spoken.” God has passed His word, and the decree is gone forth: and then he calls them to repent, and give glory to God, before He cause darkness. What hinders people’s hearing when God speaks either by word or rod? What but pride? Be not proud; do not think yourself too good to be taught. Be not scornful, be not willful, be not secure when God threatens; be not impatient when God strikes; for pride is at the bottom of both. It is the duty of a sinful people to give glory to God before He cause darkness: to repent, before He bring judgments upon them. O Sirs, be exhorted then to “Give glory to God, before He cause darkness.” 

For motives to persuade you hereto, consider: 
1. That the glory of God has been much darkened by our sins, and the sins of this generation; darkened to such a degree as may justly provoke Him to cause darkness. How has He been dishonored by our forefathers and us? How is He d i s h o n o red by the gross infidelity, error, ignorance, and irreligion of the day! by the great contempt and neglect of precious Christ and His glorious gospel! the woeful barrenness and unfruitfulness of ordinances! indifference and lukewarmness in the matters of God! lamentable backsliding and defection from His ways and His truth! hypocrisy, carnality, and earthly-mindedness! all seeking NOT the things of Christ Jesus, but their own things! gross immorality, cursing, swearing, whoredom, drunkenness, profanation of God’s name and Sabbath! How is He dishonored by our sinning against so much, and so many mercies, and warnings
2. Consider how the darkness of sin in dishonoring God, is attended with the darkness of judgment, portending yet greater darkness. How many shadows of the evening are stretched over us? The shadow of spiritual judgments and  plagues, as blindness of mind, hardness of heart, stupidity, security, and deadness; and the giving up of men to the lusts of their own hearts, in the righteous judgment of God! The shadow of desertion; the Lord visibly withdrawing His gracious presence from His ordinances, and the assemblies of His servants and people! The shadow of dissensions and divisions among ministers and people: God dividing us in His anger! The visible glory of the church, her doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, sadly corrupted with carnal policy, framing the tabernacle of God otherwise than according to the pattern seen in the mount! The invisible glory is much withdrawn, that few tokens appear of God’s powerful presence in the sanctuary, and a great famine of spiritual influence! What a shadow of darkness is the reduction of the remnant! when the good men perish, and few faithful pastors and sound professors are left! “Help, Lord,” says the psalmist, “for the godly man ceaseth”; few to bear witness for God. 
3. Consider how much it concerns us to give glory to God: glorifying of God is the great end of our creation and being: “The Lord made all things for Himself”; and if all things, then man especially, the master-piece of the visible creation. It is for this end God has given us rational souls and noble faculties, and the means of grace; and all lest this end be not obtained. The glorifying of God is the chief end of all His works, viz. creation, providence, and redemption. All the other cre a t u res, sun, moon, and stars, yea, and brute beasts, they all glorify God according to their nature and capacities; and, what are we doing? We depend upon Him absolutely for life and breath and being, every moment: “In Him we live, move, and have our being”: and is it not highly reasonable that we live to Him? The glory of God is most excellent; His glory is above heaven and earth. His glory surpasses the thoughts of men and angels. It is more worth than heaven; more worth than the salvation of all men. His glory is dear to Him. He has given many excellent gifts to His children, but His glory will He not give to another. And if His glory be so dear to Him, should it not be dear to us? And ought we not to promote it? Our NOT glorifying God will come to a sad account, for the sum of the grand account we are to be called to is this, What revenue of glory have you brought in to Me? And, if God have no glory by us, He will have glory upon us. If you glorify Him not actively, you shall glorify Him passively; and, alas! how sad will their case be, who shall serve for no other end, but to set forth the glory of His vindictive justice to all eternity! In a word, it will be our unspeakable advantage to glorify Him, for we shall be glorified by Him: “They that honor Me, I will honor.” 
4. Consider whom it concerns to glorify God; put it not off from you. Does it not concern magistrates to give glory to Him by enacting good laws and executing them faithfully? Does it not concern ministers and church-officers to give glory to God by asserting and maintaining the true doctrine, worship, discipline, and government of God’s house; to buy truth and not to sell it, though it should cost us our life, as it has done many worthy ministers and martyrs. Does it not concern people in their private stations, to give glory to God, and advance the kingdom of Christ Jesus, and to contribute their mite, though they w e re never so poor and mean, for the building of the tabernacle? As, when it was reared in the wilderness, some that were able gave gold, silver, precious stones, scarlet, and fine linen; some that were poorer and unable to give great things, they gave badgers’ skins and goats’ hair: so according to your ability, you are to give glory to God, and to pray for the coming of His kingdom, when you can do no more. 
5. Consider that darkness is threatened. There are signs of darkness and of judgment a-coming. 
a. Abounding of all manner of sin. “Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel; for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood. Therefore shall the land mourn, and everyone that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea the fishes of the sea shall also be taken away” (Hosea 4:1-3).
 b. These aggravated so much, being against light, love, and mercy; so that the patience of God is abused, (Rom 2:4,5) “Despisest thou the riches of His forbearance and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance; but after thy hardness and impenitent heart, treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath?”  
c. When God’s patience is not only abused, but affronted, and ridiculed and laughed at, (2 Peter 3:3) “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days, scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. The Lord is not slack concerning His p romise, but is long-suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night.” 
d. When the gospel is despised, and Christ is rejected by the generality, it bodes darkness, (Matt 21:42,43) “The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord ’s doing and is wonderful in our eyes. Therefore I say unto you, the kingdom of God shall be taken from  you and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” O then, “Give glory to God before He cause darkness.”Give Him glory by living by faith upon the Son of God; you cannot glorify God, if you do not glorify the Son, “He that honoreth not the Son, honoreth not the Father which hath sent Him” (John 5:23). you and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” O then, “Give glory to God before He cause darkness.” 
Give Him glory by living by faith upon the Son of God; you cannot glorify God, if you do not glorify the Son, “He that honoreth not the Son, honoreth not the Father which hath sent Him” (John 5:23). O then, Sirs, give Christ the glory of His name and offices. Give Christ the glory of His name, by making His name your strong tower. Give Him the glory of His name Jesus, by looking to Him for salvation. Give Him the glory of His name Christ, the Anointed, by looking to Him for the Spirit, the anointing. Give Him the glory of His name, The Sun of righteous - ness, by praying Him to arise on you with healing in His wings. Give Him the glory of His name, The Resurrection and the Life, by looking to Him for life to your dead soul. Give Him the glory of all His offices. A man in his office reckons it his honor to be employed, much employed.
 O then, Sirs, give Christ the glory of His prophetical office by employing Him to teach you, and to dispel the darkness of your mind. Give Him glory as a Priest, by employing Him to pardon you, and wash you in His blood. Give Him glory as a King, by employing Him to subdue all your iniquities, mortify all your corruptions, and destroy all your spiritual enemies. Give Him glory as a Physician, by employing Him to heal all your diseases. Give Him glory as a Captain, by employing Him to fight all your battles. 
Give Him glory as a Treasurer, by employing Him to supply all your wants out of His fullness. Give Him glory as an Agent, by employing Him to do all your works for you and in you, saying with the Psalmist, “Do Thou for me, for Thy name’s sake”; and again, (Psa 57:2) “I will cry unto God most high, unto God that perf o rmeth all things for me.” If you cannot believe, nor employ Him, O will you give Him glory as the Author of faith, by pleading, that He may come and take employment, and work faith in you. 
Give Him the glory of His drawing grace, saying, “Lord, draw me, and I will run; turn me, and I will be turned.” Remember you are called to give Him glory, before He cause darkness. Darkness will come whether you will or not, the darkness of distress, the darkness of a sick-bed or a death-bed, the darkness of death itself, the darkness of a judgment-day. If you would have darkness to be light before you, O Sirs, give Him glory before He cause darkness. O seek to be regenerated, for you cannot please God while you are in the flesh: “Who can gather grapes of thorns?” Seek acquaintance with Christ and union to Him; you cannot glorify God but in Christ. Seek to have the Word hid in your heart, and particularly to be well acquainted with the gospel covenant: plead the promises thereof; “For the promises are Yea and Amen, in Christ, to the glory of God” (2 Cor 1:20). How sweet will it be in a dying hour, if you could say, “Father, I have glorified Thee on earth; glorify Thou me with Thyself,” and with the glory Thou hast prepared for me from all eternity.

Ralph Erskine

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Oh how few!

“The vast majority of professing Christians today are far, far more concerned about their bodies than their souls, about carnal pleasures than spiritual riches, about earthly comforts than heavenly consolations, about the good opinion of their fellows rather than the approbation of God. But a few — and O how few — are made serious, become in deadly earnest to examine well their foundations and test every inch of the ground they stand on. With them religion is not something to be taken up and laid down according to their fitful moods. Where will they spend ETERNITY is their all-absorbing concern. Every other interest in life sinks into utter insignificance before the vital consideration of seeking to make sure that they have “the root of the matter” in them. O my reader, can you be satisfied with the cheap, easy-going religion of the day, which utterly ignores the clamant call of the Son of God “Agonize to enter in at the strait gate” (Luke 13:24)?
Can you rest content with the “smooth things” now being proclaimed from well nigh every pulpit, which assures those who are at emnity with God they can become Christians more easily than a youth can join the army, or a man become a ‘free mason’ or ‘odd fellow’? Can you follow the great crowd who claim to have “received Christ as their personal Savior” when no miracle of grace has been wrought in their hearts, while the Lord Himself declares
“Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto Life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14)?
Dare you rest upon some “decision” made when you were deeply stirred by some anecdotes addressed to your emotions? Have you nothing more than some change in your religious views or some reformation in your outward ways to show that you are “a new creature in Christ Jesus”? Slight not, we beseech you, this pressing word, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God”.” —A. W. Pink (1886–1952)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The breakdown and breakup of "Civilization"

"The Destruction of Dagon" 1943)

The "march of progress" from 1920 onwards, was, if measured by the standards of righteousness and decency, steadily downwards. Those with the least sense of decency were determined to drag the whole generation down into the gutter. An orgy of licentiousness was widely entered into. Night-clubs were multiplied, gambling spread like wild fire, and debauchery abounded on every side. The beaches lowered their bathing restrictions--and modesty became a thing of the past. Youth was allowed to have its fling, unrestrained.

The novels and magazines of the last decade have been filled with obscenities and blasphemies. A friend of ours in the publishing business recently wrote to us, "Today we have shops stacked with books which, had they been published when we were boys--the authors and publishers would have been put in jail!" Censorship has long since been reduced to a farce. The great majority of our children have had their ideas formed by the pictures they saw at the "movies" and the debasing productions of a degenerate press. As a recent writer has said, "The best-sellers of today, are often books whose morals are of the barnyard, whose language is of the sewer and whose ethicsare of the pit!"

The breakdown and breakup of "Civilization"appears in such things as the decay of the sanctity of marriage--as evidenced by the multiplication of divorces, and the abandonment of large numbers of babies; juvenile delinquency and immorality among the young; the vandalism which is now so rife; such widespread pilfering--and the flimsy efforts of the authorities to deal with such evils! Thousands of culprits who ought to be sent to prison, are given nominal fines. Law and order is almost reduced to a farce!
No matter in which direction we turn, it is the ugly and the vulgar--which is preferred to the beautiful and refined. What a commentary on our so-called "progress."
Someone has said, "The popular taste is a good index to the health of society." Apply that dictum to our own times, and it will quickly appear how the moral health of society has declined.
We do what we do--because we are what we are. There is always a rigid consistency between character and conduct. The thin coating of "civilized" varnish has worn off--and twentieth-century character stands exposed.

The political fiasco of this presidential race

This presidential campaign has been a circus, both candidates are hideous. I've been told if I don't vote, that is a vote for Clinton. I've been told I must vote for Trump to set America straight again. All this comes from 'Christians'. Frankly, I am sick of it all! God will give America the type of leadership that reflects the culture that leadership governs. 

I found this post and it describes how I feel to a 't'....

Dump Them Both

I have lived almost half a century. Being both a US citizen and a British subject, I can say that I have seen my share of politics. I have seen the games, heard the lies, and watched the vitriol fly. This current election in the USA must be the worse I have ever seen. We are a laughingstock among the nations of the world, many of whom have no fear of us as a nation. More importantly, they have no respect for us because our leaders (and potential wanna-be leaders) have no respect for the laws of this land.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The harlot in your bosom

(Thomas Watson, "The Godly Man's Picture Drawn with a Scripture Pencil")

"Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." Hebrews 12:1

There is usually one sin that is the favorite--the sin which the heart is most fond of. A godly man will not indulge his darling sin: "I kept myself from my iniquity." (Psalm 18:23). "I will not indulge the sin to which the bias of my heart more naturally inclines." 

"Fight neither with small nor great--but only with the king." (1 Kings 22:31). A godly man fights this king sin. If we would have peace in our souls, we must maintain a war against our favorite sin, and never leave off until it is subdued.

Question: How shall we know what our beloved sin is?

Answer 1. The sin which a man does not love to have reproved--is the darling sin. Herod could not endure having his incest spoken against. If the prophet meddles with that sin--it shall cost him his head! "Do not touch my Herodias!" Men can be content to have other sins reproved--but if the minister puts his finger on the sore, and touches this sin--their hearts begin to burn in malice against him!

Answer 2. The sin on which the thoughts run most--is the darling sin. Whichever way the thoughts go, the heart goes. He who is in love with a person cannot keep his thoughts off that person. Examine what sin runs most in your mind, what sin is first in your thoughts and greets you in the morning--that is your predominant sin.

Answer 3. The sin which has most power over us, and most easily leads us captive--is the one beloved by the soul. There are some sins which a man can better resist. If they come for entertainment, he can more easily put them off. But the bosom sin comes as a suitor, and he cannot deny it--but is overcome by it. The young man in the Gospel had repulsed many sins--but there was one sin which soiled him, and that was covetousness. 

Mark what sin you are most readily led captive by--that is the harlot in your bosom! It is a sad thing that a man should be so bewitched by lust, that if it asks him to part with the Kingdom of Heaven--he must part with it, to gratify that lust!

Answer 4. The sin which men most defend--is the beloved sin. He who has a jewel in his bosom, will defend it to his death. The sin we advocate and dispute for, is the besetting sin. The sin which we plead for, and perhaps wrest Scripture to justify it--that is the sin which lies nearest the heart.

Answer 5. The sin which a man finds most difficulty in giving up--is the endeared sin. Of all his sons, Jacob found most difficulty in parting with Benjamin. So the sinner says, "This and that sin I have parted with--but must Benjamin go! Must I part with this delightful sin? That pierces my heart!" A man may allow some of his sins to be demolished--but when it comes to one sin--that is the taking of the castle; he will never agree to part with that! That is the master sin for sure.

The besetting sin is, of all others, most dangerous. As Samson's strength lay in his hair--so the strength of sin lies in this beloved sin. This is like a poison striking the heart, which brings death.
A godly man will lay the axe of repentance to this sin and hew it down! He will sacrifice this Isaac; he will pluck out this right eye--so that he may see better to go to Heaven.