The Effectual Prayer of a Fervent Child…

boyI remember when on the North Side of Chicago…

I tried to reach a family time and again and failed. One night in the meeting I noticed one of the little boys of that family. He hadn’t come for any good, however; he was sticking pins in the backs of the other boys. I thought if I could get hold of him it would do good. I used always to go to the door and shake hands with the boys, and when I got to the door and saw this little boy coming out, I shook hands with him, and patted him on the head, and said I was glad to see him, and hoped he would come again. He hung his head and went away.

The next night, however, he came back, and he behaved better than he did the previous night. He came two or three times after, and then asked us to pray for him that he might become a Christian. That was a happy night for me. He became a Christian and a good one.

One night I saw him weeping. I wondered if his old temper had got hold of him again, and when he got up I wondered what he was going to say.

“I wish you would pray for my mother,” he said. When the meeting was over I went to him and asked, “Have you ever spoken to your mother or tried to pray with her?”

“Well, you know, Mr. Moody,” he replied,”I never had an opportunity; she don’t believe, and won’t hear me.”

“Now,” I said, “I want you to talk to your mother to-night.” For years I had been trying to reach her and couldn’t do it.

So I urged him to talk to her that night, and I said, “I will pray for you both.” When he got to the sitting-room he found some people there, and he sat waiting for an opportunity, when his mother said it was time for him to go to bed. He went to the door undecided. He took a step, stopped, and turned around, and hesitated for a minute, then ran to his mother and threw his arms around her neck, and buried his face in her bosom. “What is the matter?” she asked, -she thought he was sick. Between his sobs he told his mother how for five weeks he had wanted to be a Christian; how he had stopped swearing; how he was trying to be obedient to her and how happy he would be if she would be a Christian, and then went off to bed. She sat for a few minuets, but couldn’t stand it, and went up to his room. When she got to the door she heard him weeping and praying, “Oh, God, convert my dear mother.” She came down again, but couldn’t sleep that night.

Next day she told the boy to go and ask Mr. Moody to come over and see her. He called at my place of business -I was in business then- and I went over as quiet as I could. I found her sitting in a rocking chair weeping. “Mr. Moody,” she said, “I want to become a Christian.” “What has brought that change over you, I thought you didn’t believe in it?” Then she told me how her boy had come to her, and how she hadn’t slept any all night, and how her sin rose up before her like a dark mountain. The next Sunday that boy came and led that mother into the Sabbath-school and she became a Christian worker.

Oh, little children, if you find Christ tell it to your fathers and mothers. Throw your arms around their necks and lead them to Jesus.

Written by D .L. Moody

The Messiah Within the Veil

Taken and adapted from “The Rent Veil”
Written by Horatius Bonar, D.D.
Edited for space

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“For the joy set before Him He endured
the cross,
despising the shame, and is
now set down at the right hand of God.”

–Heb. 12:2

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That to which He looked forward was not so much the rending of the veil, as the result of that ending, both for Himself and for His Church, His body, the redeemed from among men.

The veil was rent; rent “once for all”; rent for ever. Yet there was a sense in which it was to be restored, though after another fashion than before. Messiah could not be “holden” by death, because He was the Holy One, who could not see corruption. Death must be annulled. The broken body must be made whole; resurrection must come forth out of death; and that resurrection was to be life, and glory, and blessedness. Through the rent veil of His own flesh, He was (if we may so use the figure) to enter into “glory and honour, and immortality.” Thus He speaks in the sixteenth Psalm:—

“Therefore my heart is glad,
Yea, my glory rejoiceth:

My flesh also shall rest in hope.
For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell;
Neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

Thou wilt show me the path of life:
In thy presence is fulness of joy;
At thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.”

Let us dwell upon these verses in connection with Messiah’s entrance within the veil.

The speaker in this Psalm is undoubtedly Christ. This we learn from Peter’s sermon at Jerusalem (Acts 2:25). He is speaking to the Father, as His Father and our Father. He speaks as the lowly, dependent son of man; as one who needed help and looked to the Father for it; as one who trusted in the Lord and walked by faith, not by sight; as one who realised the Father’s love, anticipated the joy set before Him, and had respect to the recompense of the reward.

 He speaks, moreover, as one who saw death before Him, — “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell“; and looking into the dark grave, on the edge of which He was standing, just about to plunge into it, He casts His eye upwards and pleads, with strong crying and tears, for resurrection, and joy, and glory, — “Thou wilt show me the path of life.” For the words of the Psalm are the united utterances of confidence, expectation, and prayer; not unlike those of Paul, “I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.”

He speaks too as one who was bearing our curse; as one who was made sin for us; and to whom everything connected with sin and its penalty was infinitely terrible; not the less terrible, but the more, because the sin and the penalty were not His own, but ours. The death which now confronted Him was one of the ingredients of the fearful cup, against which He prayed in Gethsemane, “Let this cup pass from me”; for we read that, “in the days of His flesh He made supplication, with strong crying and tears, unto Him that was able to save Him from death.” In this Psalm, indeed, we do not hear these strong cryings and tears, which the valley of the Kedron then heard. All is calm; the bitterness of death is past; the power of the king of terrors seems broken; the gloom of the grave is lost in the anticipated brightness of the resurrection light and glory. But still the scene is similar; though in the Psalm the light predominates over the darkness, and there is not the agony, nor the bloody sweat, nor the exceeding sorrow. It is our Surety looking the king of terrors in the face; contemplating the shadows of the three days and nights in the heat of the earth; surveying Joseph’s tomb, and while accepting that as His prison-house for a season, anticipating the deliverance by the Father’s power, and rejoicing in the prospect of the everlasting gladness.

The first thing that occupies His thoughts is resurrection. The path of death is before Him; and He asks that He may know the path of life;—the way out of the tomb as well as the way into it. Death is to Him an enemy; an enemy from which as the Prince of life His holy soul would recoil even more than we. The grave is to Him a prison-house, gloomy as Jeremiah’s low dungeon or Joseph’s pit, not the less gloomy because He approaches it as a conqueror, as bringing life and immortality to light, as the resurrection and the life. Into that prison-house He must descend; for though rich He has stooped to be poor; and this is the extremity of his poverty, the lowest depth of His low estate,—even the surrender of that, for which even the richest on earth will part with everything,—life itself. But out of that dungeon He cries to be brought; and for this rescue He puts Himself entirely into the Father’s hands, “Thou wilt show me the path of life.”

Very blessed and glorious did resurrection seem in the eyes of the Prince of life, of Him who is the resurrection and the life. Infinitely hateful did death and the grave appear to Him who was the Conqueror of death, the Spoiler of the grave. He had undertaken to die, for as the second Adam He came to undergo the penalty of the first, “dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return”; yet not the less bitter was the cup, not the less gloomy was the valley of the shadow of death; not the less welcome was the thought of resurrection.

The next thing which fills His thoughts is the presence of God,—that glorious presence which He had left when He “came down from heaven.” His thoughts are of the Father’s face, the Father’s house, the Father’s presence. Earth to Him was so different from heaven. He had not yet come to the “Why hast Thou forsaken me?” but He felt the difference between this earth and the heaven He had quitted. There was no such “presence” here. All was sin, evil, hatred, darkness; the presence of evil men and mocking devils; not the presence of God. God seemed far away. This world seemed empty and dreary. He called to mind the home, and the love, and the holiness He had left; and He longed for a return to these. “Thy presence!” What a meaning in these words, coming from the lips of the lonely Son of God in His desolation and friendlessness and exile here. “Thy presence!” How full of recollection would they be to Him as He uttered them; and how intensely would that recollection stimulate the anticipation and the hope!

Of this same Messiah, the speaker in the psalm, we read afterwards,In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; the same was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1); and elsewhere He speaks thus of Himself: “Jehovah possessed me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old; I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was…I was by Him, as one brought up with Him, and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him” (Prov. 8:22,30); and again, He, in the days of His flesh, thus prayed: “O Father, glorify Thou me with Thine own self, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was” (John 17:5). Thus we see that the “presence” or “face” of God had been His special and eternal portion. His past eternity was associated entirely with this glorious presence. No wonder then that in the day of His deepest weakness,—when the last enemy confronted Him with his hideous presence, He should recall the Father’s presence; anticipating the day of restoration to that presence, and repossession of the glory which He had before the world was.

“Thy presence,” said the only-begotten of the Father looking up into the Father’s face! He speaks as the sin-bearer, on whom the chastisement of our sins was laid, and between whom and heaven these sins had drawn a veil; He speaks as an exile, far from home, weary, troubled, exceeding sorrowful even unto death; He speaks as a Son feeling the bitterness of separation from His Father’s presence, and of distance from His Father’s house; He speaks as one longing for home and kindred, and the unimpeded outflowings of paternal love. “Thy presence,” says the Man of sorrows looking round on an evil world;—oh, that I were there! “Thy presence,” says the forsaken Son of man, for “lover and friend hast Thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness”;—oh, that I were there! “Thy presence,” not this waste howling wilderness, this region of pain, and disease, and sin, and death, and tombs. “Thy presence,” not these temptations, these devils, these enemies, these false friends; not this blasphemy, this reproach, this scorn, this betrayal, this denial, this buffeting, this scourging, this spitting, this mockery! “Thy presence,”—oh, that I were there; nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done.

Only through death can He reach life, for He is burdened with our sin and our death; and death is to Him the path of life. He must go through the veil to enter into the presence of God. Only through the grave,—the stronghold of death, and of him who has the power of death,—can He ascend into the presence of God; and therefore, when about to enter the dark valley, He commits Himself to the Father’s guidance, to the keeping of Him who said, “Behold my servant whom I uphold,” the keeping of which He himself, by the mouth of David, had spoken: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me, Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.” Bethlehem, Egypt, Nazareth, Capernaum, Gethsemane, Golgotha,—these were all but stages in His way up to “the presence”—the presence of the Father; and it is when approaching the last of these, with the consciousness of His nearness to that presence, only one more dark passage to wind through, that He gives utterance to this psalm,—His psalm in prospect of resurrection and glory,— “I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved: therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoiceth; my flesh also shall rest in hope; for Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine holy One to see corruption; Thou wilt show me the path of life: in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”

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Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: Horatius Bonar (19 December, 1808 – 31 May, 1889) was a Scottish churchman and poet. The son of James Bonar, Solicitor of Excise for Scotland, he was born and educated in Edinburgh. He comes from a long line of ministers who have served a total of 364 years in the Church of Scotland. One of eleven children, his brothers John James and Andrew Alexander were also ministers of the Free Church of Scotland. He had married Jane Catherine Lundie in 1843 and five of their young children died in succession. Towards the end of their lives, one of their surviving daughters was left a widow with five small children and she returned to live with her parents. Bonar’s wife, Jane, died in 1876. He is buried in the Canongate Kirkyard.

Our Father’s kiss

Written by D. L. Moody

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“So he got up and came to his father.

But while he was still a long way off,
his father saw him and felt compassion
for him, 
and ran and embraced him
and kissed him.”

–Luke 15:20

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One morning my dear little daughter Emma got up cross…

     …and spoke in a cross way, and finally I said to her: 
     “Emma, if you speak in that way again, I shall have to punish you.”
     Now it was not because I didn’t love her; it was because I did love her, and if I had to correct her it was for the good of the little child. One morning she got up cross again. I said nothing, but when she was getting ready to go to school she came up to me and said:
     “Papa kiss me.”
     I said, “Emma, I can not kiss you this morning.”
     “Why, father?”
     “Because you have been cross again this morning. I can not kiss you.”
     “Why, papa,” said Emma, “you never refused to kiss me before.”
     “Well, you have been naughty this morning.”
     “Why don’t you kiss me?” she said again.
     “Because you have been naughty. You will have to go to school without your kiss.”
     She went into the other room where her mother was and said, “Mamma, papa don’t love me. He won’t kiss me. I wish you would go and get him to kiss me.”
     “You know, Emma,” said her mother, ” that your father loves you, but you have been naughty.”

So she couldn’t be kissed and she went down stairs crying as if her heart would break, and I loved her so well that the tears came into my eyes. I could not help crying, and when I heard her going down stairs I could not keep down my tears. I think I loved her then better than I ever did, and when I heard the door close I went to the window and saw her going down the street weeping. I didn’t feel good all that day. I believe I felt a good deal worse than the child did, and I was anxious for her to come home. How long that day seemed to me. And when she came home at night and came to me and asked me to forgive her, and told me how sorry she felt, how gladly I took her up and kissed her, and how happy she went up stairs to her bed.

It is just so with God.

He loves you, and when He chastises you, it is for your own good. If you will only come to Him and tell Him how sorry you are, how gladly He will receive you and how happy you will make Him, and oh, how happy you will be yourself!

The Conversion of Zaccheus, Part 2.

Written by George Whitefield (1714-1770)
Taken and adapted for space

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“And when Jesus came to the place, 
he
looked up, and saw him, and said unto him,

Zaccheus, make haste and come down;
for this day I must abide at thy house.”

–Luke 19:5

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Amazing love!

Well might Luke usher in the account with “behold!” It is worthy of our highest admiration. When Zaccheus thought of no such thing, nay, thought that Christ Jesus did not know him, behold, Christ does what we never hear He did before or after, I mean, invite Himself to the house of Zaccheus, saying, “Zaccheus, make haste and come down; for this day I must abide at thy house.” Not, “Pray let me abide,” but, “I must abide this day at thy house.” He also calls him by name, as though He was well acquainted with him: and, indeed, well He might, for his name was written in the book of life; he was one of those whom the Father had given Him from all eternity; therefore He must abide at his house that day. “For whom he did predestinate, them he also called” (Rom 8:30).

Here then, as though in a glass, we may see the doctrine of free grace exemplified before us.

Here was no fitness in Zaccheus. He was a publican, chief among the publicans; not only so, but rich, and came to see Christ only out of curiosity; but sovereign grace triumphs over all. And if we do God justice, and are effectually wrought upon, we must acknowledge there was no more fitness in us than in Zaccheus; and had not Christ prevented us by His call, we had remained dead in trespasses and sins, and alienated from the divine life even as others. “Jesus looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zaccheus, make haste and come down; for this day I must abide at thy house.”

With what different emotions of heart may we suppose Zaccheus received this invitation? Think you not that he was surprised to hear Jesus Christ call him by name, and not only so, but invite Himself to his house? Surely, thinks Zaccheus, I dream: it cannot be; how should He know me? I never saw Him before; besides, I shall undergo much contempt if I receive Him under my roof. Thus, I say, we may suppose Zaccheus thought within himself. But what saith the Scripture? “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power” (Psa 110:3). With this outward call, there went an efficacious power from God, which sweetly overruled his natural will; and therefore verse 6, “He made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully,” not only into his house, but also into his heart.

Thus it is that the great God brings home His children. He calls them by name, by His Word or providence: He speaks to them also by His Spirit. Hereby they are enabled to open their hearts, and are made willing to receive the King of glory. For Zaccheus’ sake, let us not entirely condemn people that come unto the Word out of no better principle than curiosity. Who knows but God may call them? It is good to be where the Lord is passing by. May all who are now present out of this principle hear the voice of the Son of God speaking to their souls, and so hear that they may live! Not that men ought therefore to take encouragement to come out of curiosity. For perhaps a thousand more, at other times, came to see Christ out of curiosity as well as Zaccheus, who were not effectually called by His grace. I only mention this for the encouragement of my own soul and the consolation of God’s children, who are too apt to be angry with those who do not attend on the Word out of love to God. But let them alone. Brethren, pray for them. How do you know but Jesus Christ may speak to their hearts? A few words from Christ applied by His Spirit, will save their souls. “Zaccheus,” says Christ, “make haste and come down.” And he made haste, and came down, and received Him joyfully.

I have observed in Holy Scripture, how particularly it is remarked that persons rejoiced upon believing in Christ. Thus the converted eunuch went on his way rejoicing; thus the jailor rejoiced with his whole house; thus Zaccheus received Christ joyfully. And well may those rejoice who receive Jesus Christ; for with Him they receive righteousness, sanctification, and eternal redemption. Many have brought up an ill report upon our good land, and would fain persuade people that religion will make them melancholy mad. So far from it, that joy is one ingredient of the kingdom of God in the heart of a believer. “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Rom 14:7). To rejoice in the Lord is a gospel duty. “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice” (Phi 4:4). And who can be so joyful as those who know that their pardon is sealed before they go hence and are no more seen? The godly may, but I cannot see how any ungodly men can rejoice; they cannot be truly cheerful. What if wicked men may sometimes have laughter amongst them? It is only the laughter of fools. In the midst of it there is heaviness. At the best it is but like the crackling of thorns under a pot; it makes a blaze, but soon goes out. But, as for the godly, it is not so with them; their joy is solid and lasting. As it is a joy that a stranger intermeddleth not with, so it is a joy that no man taketh from them; it is a joy in God, a joy unspeakable and full of glory.

It should seem that Zaccheus was under soul distress but a little while, “perhaps,” says Guthrie, in his book entitled The Trial Concerning a Saving Interest in Christ, “not above a quarter of an hour.” I add, perhaps not so long; for, as one observes, sometimes the Lord Jesus delights to deliver speedily. God is a sovereign agent, and works upon His children in their effectual calling according to the counsel of His eternal will. It is with the spiritual as the natural birth: all women have not the like pangs; all Christians have not the like degree of conviction. But all agree in this, that all have Jesus Christ formed in their hearts. And those who have not so many trials at first may be visited with the greater conflicts hereafter, though they never come into bondage again, after they have once received the spirit of adoption. Paul says, “Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again unto fear” (Rom 8:15). We know not what Zaccheus underwent before he died.

However, this one thing I know, he now believed in Christ, and was justified, or acquitted, and looked upon as righteous in God’s sight, though a publican, chief among the publicans, not many moments before. And thus it is with all, that, like Zaccheus, receive Jesus Christ by faith into their hearts. The very moment they find rest in Him, they are freely justified from all things from which they could not be justified by the Law of Moses, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8, 9).

Say not within yourselves this is a licentious, Antinomian doctrine…

…for this faith, if true, will work by love and be productive of the fruits of holiness. See an instance in this convert Zaccheus. No sooner had he received Jesus Christ by faith into his heart, but he evidences it by his works; for in verse 8 we are told, “And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.”

Having believed on Jesus in his heart, he now makes confession of Him with his mouth to salvation. Zaccheus stood forth. He was not ashamed, but stood forth before his brother publicans—for true faith casts out all servile,[6] sinful fear of men—and said, “Behold, Lord.” It is remarkable how readily people in Scripture have owned the divinity of Christ immediately, upon their conversion. Thus the woman at Jacob’s well: “Is not this the Christ?” (Joh 4:29). Thus the man born blind: “Lord, I believe; and he worshipped him” (John 9:38). Thus Zaccheus: “Behold, Lord.” An incontestable proof this to me, that those who deny our Lord’s divinity never effectually felt His power. If they had, they would not speak so lightly of Him; they would scorn to deny His eternal power and Godhead.

“Zaccheus stood forth, and said, Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor, and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.” Noble fruits of a true living faith in the Lord Jesus! Every word calls for our notice. Not, “some small [part],” not, “the tenth part,” but, “the half.” Of what? “My goods”—things that were valuable. “My goods”—his own, not another’s. “I give.” Not, “I will give when I die, when I can keep them no longer,” but, “I give now, even now.”

Zaccheus would be his own executor. For whilst we have time we should do good. But to whom would he give half of his goods? Not to the rich, not to those who were already clothed in purple and fine linen, of whom he might be recompensed again; but to the poor, the maimed, the halt, the blind, from whom he could expect no recompense till the resurrection of the dead. “I give to the poor.”

But knowing that he must be just before he could be charitable, and conscious to himself that in his public administrations he had wronged many persons, he adds, “And if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.” Hear ye this, all ye that make no conscience of cheating the king of his taxes, or of buying or selling bad goods. If ever God gives you true faith, you will never rest till, like Zaccheus, you have made restitution to the utmost of your power. I suppose, before his conversion he thought it no harm to cheat thus, no more than you may do now, and pleased himself frequently that he got rich by doing so. But now he is grieved for it at his heart; he confesses his injustice before men, and promises to make ample restitution. Go, ye cheating publicans, learn of Zaccheus, go away and do likewise. If you do not make restitution here, the Lord Jesus shall make you confess your sins before men and angels, and condemn you for it, when He comes in the glory of His Father to judgment hereafter.

After all this, with good reason might our Lord say unto him,This day is salvation come to this house, for so much as he also is a son of Abraham” (v. 9), not so much by a natural as by a spiritual birth. He was made partaker of like precious faith with Abraham. Like Abraham, he believed on the Lord, and it was accounted to him for righteousness (Gen 15:6). His faith, like Abraham’s, worked by love; and I doubt not, but he has been long since sitting in Abraham’s arbor.
And now are you not ashamed of yourselves, who speak against the doctrines of grace, especially that doctrine of being justified by faith alone, as though it would lead to licentiousness? What can be more unjust than such a charge? Is not the instance of Zaccheus a sufficient proof to the contrary? Have I strained it to serve my own turn? God forbid. To the best of my knowledge I have spoken the truth in sincerity and the truth as it is in Jesus. I do affirm that we are saved by grace and that we are justified by faith alone; but I do also affirm that faith must be evidenced by good works where there is an opportunity of performing them.

What therefore has been said of Zaccheus may serve as a rule whereby all may judge whether they have faith or not. You say you have faith; but how do you prove it? Did you ever hear the Lord Jesus call you by name? Did you ever, like Zaccheus, receive Jesus Christ joyfully into your hearts? Are you influenced, by the faith you say you have, to stand up and confess the Lord Jesus before men? Were you ever made willing to own, and humble yourselves for, your past offenses? Does your faith work by love, so that you conscientiously lay up, according as God has prospered you, for the support of the poor? Do you give alms of all things that you possess? And have you made due restitution to those you have wronged? If so, happy are ye; salvation is come to your souls. You are sons, you are daughters of—you shall shortly be everlastingly blessed with—faithful Abraham. But if you are not thus minded, do not deceive your own souls. Though you may talk of justification by faith like angels it will do you no good; it will only increase your damnation. You hold the truth, but it is in unrighteousness; your faith, being without works, is dead; you have the devil, not Abraham, for your father. Unless you get a faith of the heart, a faith working by love, with devils and damned spirits shall you dwell forevermore.

But it is time now to enforce the latter part of the text: “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 9:10). These words are spoken by our Savior in answer to some self-righteous Pharisees, who instead of rejoicing with the angels in heaven at the conversion of such a sinner, murmured “that he was gone to be a guest with a man that was a sinner.” To vindicate His conduct, He tells them that this was an act agreeable to the design of His coming: “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” He might have said, “the Son of God,” but, oh, the wonderful condescension of our Redeemer! He delights to style Himself “the Son of man.”

He came not only to save, but “to seek and to save that which was lost.” He came to Jericho to seek and save Zaccheus; for otherwise Zaccheus would never have been saved by Him. But whence came He? Even from heaven, His dwelling place, to this lower earth, this vale of tears, “to seek and save that which was lost”—or all that feel themselves lost, and are willing, like Zaccheus, to receive Him into their hearts to save them. With how great a salvation? Even from the guilt, and also from the power of their sins, to make them heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Himself, and partakers of that glory which He enjoyed with the Father before the world began.

Thus will the Son of Man save that which is lost.

He was made the Son of Man on purpose that He might save them. He had no other end but this in leaving His Father’s throne, in obeying the moral law, and hanging upon the cross. All that was done and suffered merely to satisfy and procure a righteousness for poor, lost, undone sinners—and that too without respect of persons, “That which was lost”—all of every nation and language that feel, bewail, and are truly desirous of being delivered from their lost state, did the Son of Man come down to seek and to save. For He is mighty, not only so, but willing, to save to the uttermost all that come to God through Him; He will in nowise cast them out. For He is the same today, as He was yesterday. He comes now to sinners, as well as formerly, and, I hope, hath sent me out this day to seek, and, under Him, to bring home, some of you, the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

What say you? Shall I go home rejoicing, saying that many like sheep have gone astray, but they have now believed on Jesus Christ, and so returned home to the great Shepherd and Bishop of their souls? If the Lord would be pleased thus to prosper my handiwork, I care not how many legalists and self-righteous Pharisees murmur against me for offering salvation to the worst of sinners! For I know the Son of Man came to seek and to save them; and the Lord Jesus will now be a guest to the worst publican, the vilest sinner that is amongst you, if he does but believe on Him. Make haste then, O sinners, make haste, and come by faith to Christ. Then, this day, even this hour, nay, this moment, if you believe, Jesus Christ shall come and make His eternal abode in your hearts.

Which of you is made willing to receive the King of glory? Which of you obeys the call as Zaccheus did? Alas! Why do you stand still? How know you whether Jesus Christ may ever call you again? Come then, poor, guilty sinners. Come away, poor, lost, undone publicans. Make haste, I say, and come away to Jesus Christ. The Lord condescends to invite Himself to come under the filthy roofs of the houses of your souls. Do not be afraid of entertaining Him; He will fill you with all peace and joy in believing. Do not be ashamed to run before the multitude, and to have all manner of evil spoken against you falsely for His sake. One sight of Christ will make amends for all.

Zaccheus was laughed at; and “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2Timothy 3:12). But what of that? Zaccheus is now crowned in glory as you also shall shortly be, if you believe on, and are reproached for Christ’s sake. Do not, therefore, put me off with frivolous excuses; there is no excuse that can be given for your not coming to Christ. You are lost, undone, without Him; and if He is not glorified in your salvation, He will be glorified in your destruction! If He does not come and make His abode in your hearts you must take up an eternal abode with the devil and his angels. O that the Lord would be pleased to pass by some of you at this time! O that He may call you by His Spirit, and make you a willing people in this day of His power! For I know my calling will not do, unless He, by His efficacious[8] grace, compel you to come in. O that you once felt what it is to receive Jesus Christ into your hearts! You would soon, like Zaccheus, give Him everything.

You do not love Christ because you do not know Him.

You do not come to Him because you do not feel your want of Him. You are whole and not brokenhearted. You are not sick, at least not sensible of your sickness, and therefore no wonder you do not apply to Jesus Christ, that great, that almighty Physician. You do not feel yourselves lost, and therefore do not seek to be found in Christ. O that God would wound you with the sword of His Spirit, and cause His arrows of conviction to stick deep in your hearts! O that He would dart a ray of divine light into your souls! For if you do not feel yourselves lost without Christ, you are of all men most miserable. Your souls are dead; you are not only an image of hell, but in some degree hell itself; you carry hell about with you, and you know it not.

O that I could see some of you sensible of this, and hear you cry out, “Lord, break this hard heart. Lord, deliver me from the body of this death. Draw me, Lord; make me willing to come after Thee. I am lost! Lord, save me, or I perish!” Were this your case, how soon would the Lord stretch forth His almighty hand and say, “Be of good cheer, it is I; be not afraid” (Mat 14:27). What a wonderful calm would then possess your troubled souls! Your fellowship would then be with the Father and the Son. Your life would be hid with Christ in God.

Some of you, I hope, have experienced this, and can say, “I was lost, but I am found; I was dead, but am alive again. The Son of Man came and sought me in the day of His power and saved my sinful soul.” And do you repent that you came to Christ? Has He not been a good Master? Is not His presence sweet to your souls? Has He not been faithful to His promise? And have you not found, that even in suffering for Him, there is an exceeding present great reward? I am persuaded you will answer, “Yes.” O then, ye saints, recommend and talk of the love of Christ to others, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you! This may encourage others to come unto Him. And who knows but the Lord may make you fishers of men?

The story of Zaccheus was left on record for this purpose.

No truly convicted soul, after such an instance of divine grace has been laid before him, need despair of mercy. What if you are publicans? Was not Zaccheus a publican? Was not Zaccheus likewise? What if you are rich? Was not Zaccheus rich also? And yet almighty grace made him more than conqueror over all these hindrances. All things are possible to Jesus Christ; nothing is too hard for Him; He is the Lord Almighty. Our mountains of sins must all fall before this great Zerubabel (Zec 4:7). On Him God the Father has laid the iniquities of all that shall truly believe; in His own body He bare them on the tree.

There, there, by faith, O mourners in Zion, may you see your Savior hanging with arms stretched out and hear Him, as it were, thus speaking to your souls, “Behold how I have loved you! Behold My hands and My feet! Look, look into My wounded side and see a heart flaming with love—love stronger than death. Come into My arms, O sinners, come wash your spotted souls in My heart’s blood. See here is a fountain opened for all sin and all uncleanness! See, O guilty souls, how the wrath of God is now abiding upon you. Come, haste away, and hide yourselves in the clefts of My wounds; for I am wounded for your transgressions; I am dying that you may live for evermore. Behold, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so I am here lifted up upon a tree. See how I have become a curse for you. The chastisement of your peace is upon Me. I am thus scourged, thus wounded, thus crucified, that you by My stripes may be healed. O look unto Me, all ye trembling sinners, even to the ends of the earth! Look unto Me by faith, and you shall be saved: For I came thus to be obedient even unto death, that I might save that which was lost.”

And what say you to this, O sinners?

Suppose you saw the King of glory dying, and thus speaking to you; would you believe on Him? No, you would not, unless you believe on Him now. For though He is dead, He yet speaketh all this in the Scripture—nay, in effect, says all this in the words of the text, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Do not therefore any longer crucify the Lord of glory. Bring those rebels, your sins, which will not have Him to reign over them, bring them out to Him. Though you cannot slay them yourselves, yet He will slay them for you. The power of His death and resurrection is as great now as formerly.

Make haste therefore, make haste, O ye publicans and sinners, and give the dear Lord Jesus your hearts, your whole hearts. If you refuse to hearken to this call of the Lord, remember your damnation will be just. I am free from the blood of you all. You must acquit my Master and me at the terrible Day of Judgment. O that you may know the things that belong to your everlasting peace, before they are eternally hid from your eyes! Let all that love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity say,

“Amen.”

Just a Bit O’ History… Psalm 60. A Psalm of Hope, Victory and Reliance upon God.

wallace_bust_glassIt was in the order of service, March 20, 687…

…and it was also sung at the death of Cuthbert. This missionary of the seventh century is first heard of as a shepherd boy on the hills of Gala Water, then known as Wedale. The religious movement among the Celtic races under Columba and his followers laid hold of the Saxons, and Cuthbert became the apostle of the glens of  south Scotland and north of England. Lindisfarne, or Holy Isle, which he chose as his center, and the lona of the eastern coast.

Numerous stories of courage and God’s providence have gathered round Cuthbert’s life. But in the midst of all the stories and legends, we can see even from the churches that bear his name between the Forth and Tyne, and down into Galloway, that he was an unwearied traveler and preacher. The seed he sowed in troublous times took vital hold and sprang up in after ages. The account of his death has been given by Bede, who received it from Herefrid, an eye-witness. When Herefrid came out and announced his death, two lighted torches were held up, a signal to their friends in Lindisfarne that Cuthbert had departed. The accents of the psalm and the wail for the dead were carried with the signal across the sea.

It was in Cuthbert’s time, 685, that the Pictish monarch, after a great victory over the Saxons, crossed the Forth, took possession of Edinburgh and the Lothians, and prepared the way for an independent nationality and Church, the Church of Knox, Henderson, and the Covenanting struggle.

The 60th Psalm had a place in one of the incidents after that history. Robert Douglas gave it out to be sung when he preached the coronation sermon of Charles II at Scone, January 1, 1651, the Marquis of Argyle putting the crown on the head of the ungrateful monarch –who afterwards sent him to the block. The text for the coronation was 2 Kings 11:12, 17, was most appropriately chosen. However, the sermon very long and filled with uncourtly truths. The earnestness of the preacher and the duplicity of the chief hearer, –if hearer he was, are one of the historical contrasts of the time; but there was a true word of prophetic insight in the close of the discourse, when the text which sealed the Solemn League and Covenant, in the East Church of Edinburgh, was again quoted, Neh. 5:13, ‘ Also I shook my lap, and said, So God shake out every man from his house, and from his labor, that performeth not this promise, even thus be he shaken out and emptied.’ Nearly forty years of broken pledges and of profligacies’ lapsed till the threatening was made good for the Covenanters.

The 60th Psalm is also memorable in the history of the Secession Church of Scotland. When Ebenezer Erskine, in 1740, had to leave his church, he took his place with an immense multitude below the battlements of Stirling Castle, and sang the first five verses of this psalm. Looking down on the field where the heroic Wallace gained a decisive victory for his country, the words have in them the ring of battle:

‘And yet a banner thou hast given
To them who thee do fear;
That it by them, because of truth,
Displayed may appear.

That thy beloved people may
Delivered be from thrall,
Save with the power of thy right hand,
And hear me when I call.’

The psalm of his friend, Wilson of Perth, in similar circumstances, had a quieter tone, though scarcely less appropriate, Ps. 55:6-8 and 12-14. His text was fittingly chosen, Heb. 13:13. Both of these leaders were children of the Covenanters. When the Secession and Relief Churches of Scotland were joined in 1847, in Tanfield Hall, Edinburgh, the 60th Psalm was again sung, and with it Ps. 147: 1-3, division ending in reconstruction:

‘God doth build up Jerusalem,
And he it is alone
That the dispersed of Israel
Doth gather into one.’

——————————————————

Written by John Ker, D. D.
Taken from, “The Psalms in History and Biography”
Edited for thought and sense.

All Scripture…

Taken from, “OLD PATHS, BEING PLAIN STATEMENTS ON SOME OF THE WEIGHTIER MATTERS OF CHRISTIANITY,” From the Section or Tract titled, “Old Paths.”
Written by, JOHN CHARLES RYLE, D.D.

Adapted and Edited for thought, sense and space.

Paul-prison2-300x224.
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“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.”

—2 Timothy 3:16.
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HOW was the Bible written?—“Whence is it? From heaven, or of men?”

…Had the writers of the Bible any special or peculiar help in doing their work?—Is there anything in the Bible which makes it unlike all other books, and therefore demands our respectful attention? These are questions of vast importance. They are questions to which I wish to offer an answer in this paper. To speak plainly, the subject I propose to examine is that deep one, the inspiration of Scripture. I believe the Bible to have been written by inspiration of God, and I want others to be of the same belief.

The subject is always important. I ask a hearing for the doctrines which I am about to handle, because they are drawn from a book which is the “Word of God.” Inspiration, in short, is the very keel and foundation of Christianity. If Christians have no Divine book to turn to as the warrant of their doctrine and practice, they have no solid ground for present peace or hope, and no right to claim the attention of mankind. They are building on a quicksand, and their faith is vain. We ought to be able to say boldly, “We are what we are, and we do what we do, because we have here a book which we believe to be the “Word of God.”

The subject is one of peculiar importance in the present day. Infidelity and scepticism abound everywhere. In one form or another they are to be found in every rank and class of society. Thousands of Englishmen are not ashamed to say that they regard the Bible as an old obsolete Jewish book, which has no special claim on our faith and obedience, and that it contains many inaccuracies and defects. Myriads who will not go so far as this are wavering and shaken in their belief, and show plainly by their lives that they are not quite sure the Bible is true. In a day like this the true Christian should be able to set his foot down firmly, and to render a reason of his confidence in God’s Word. He should be able by sound arguments to meet and silence the gainsayer, if he cannot convince him. He should be able to show good cause why he thinks the Bible is “from heaven, and not of men.”

The subject without doubt is a very difficult one. It cannot be followed up without entering on ground which is dark and mysterious to mortal man. It involves the discussion of things which are miraculous, and supernatural, and above reason, and cannot be fully explained. But difficulties must not turn us away from any subject in religion. There is not a science in the world about which questions may not be asked which no one can answer. It is poor philosophy to say we will believe nothing unless we can understand everything! We must not give up the subject of inspiration in despair because it contains things “hard to be understood.” There still remains a vast amount of ground which is plain to every common understanding. I invite my readers to occupy this ground with me today, and to hear what I have got to say on the Divine authority of God’s Word.

This question of inspiration is no light one. It involves tremendously grave consequences. If the Bible is not the Word of God and inspired, the whole of Christendom for 1800 years has been under an immense delusion; half the human race has been cheated and deceived, and churches are monuments of folly.—If the Bible is the Word of God and inspired, all who refuse to believe it are in fearful danger;—they are living on the brink of eternal misery. No man, in his sober senses, can fail to see that the whole subject demands most serious attention.

The Bible is given by inspiration of God.

In saying this, I mean to assert that the Bible is utterly unlike all other books that were ever written, because its writers were specially inspired, or enabled by God, for the work which they did. I say that the Book comes to us with a claim which no other book possesses. It is stamped with Divine authority. In this respect it stands entirely alone. Sermons, and tracts, and theological writings of all kinds, may be sound and edifying, but they are only the handiwork of uninspired man. The Bible alone is the Book of God.

Now I shall not waste time in proving that the Scriptures are genuine and authentic, that they were really written by the very men who profess to have written them, and that they contain the very things which they wrote. I shall not touch what are commonly called external evidences. I shall bring forward the book itself, and put it in the witness box. I shall try to show that nothing can possibly account for the Bible being what it is, and doing what it has done, except the theory that it is the Word of God. I lay it down broadly, as a position which cannot be turned, that the Bible itself, fairly examined, is the best witness of its own inspiration. I shall content myself with stating some plain facts about the Bible, which can neither be denied nor explained away. And the ground I shall take up is this,—that these facts ought to satisfy every reasonable inquirer that the Bible is of God, and not of man. They are simple facts, which require no knowledge of Hebrew, or Greek, or Latin, in order to be understood; yet they are facts which prove to my own mind conclusively that the Bible is superhuman, or not of man.

(a) It is a fact, that there is an extraordinary fullness and richness in the contents of the Bible.

It throws more light on a vast number of most important subjects than all the other books in the world put together. It boldly handles matters which are beyond the reach of man, when left to himself. It treats of things which are mysterious and invisible,—the soul, the world to come, and eternity, depths which man has no line to fathom. All who have tried to write of these things, without Bible light, have done little but show their own ignorance. They grope like the blind; they speculate; they guess; they generally make the darkness more visible, and land us in a region of uncertainty and doubt. How dim were the views of Socrates, Plato, Cicero, and Seneca! A well-taught Sunday scholar, in this day, knows more spiritual truth than all these sages put together.

The Bible alone gives a reasonable account of the beginning and end of the globe on which we live. It starts from the birthday of sun, moon, stars, and earth in their present order, and shows us creation in its cradle. It foretells the dissolution of all things, when the earth and all its works shall be burned up, and shows us creation in its grave. It tells us the story of the world’s youth; and it tells us the story of its old age. It gives us a picture of its first days; and it gives us a picture of its last. How vast and important is this knowledge! Can this be the handiwork of uninspired man? Let us try to answer that question.

The Bible alone gives a true and faithful account of man. It does not flatter him as novels and romances do; it does not conceal his faults and exaggerate his goodness; it paints him just as he is. It describes him as a fallen creature, of his own nature inclined to evil,—a creature needing not only a pardon, but a new heart, to make him fit for heaven. It shows him to be a corrupt being under every circumstance, when left to himself,—corrupt after the loss of paradise,—corrupt after the flood,—corrupt when fenced in by divine laws and commandments, corrupt when the Son of God came down and visited him in the flesh,—corrupt in the face of warnings, promises, miracles, judgments, mercies. In one word, it shows man to be by nature always a sinner. How important is this knowledge! Can this be the work of uninspired minds? Let us try to answer that question.

The Bible alone gives us true views of God. By nature man knows nothing clearly or fully about Him. All his conceptions of Him are low, grovelling, and debased. What could be more degraded than the gods of the Canaanites and Egyptians,—of Babylon, of Greece, and of Rome? What can be more vile than the gods of the Hindus and other heathen in our own time?

By the Bible we know that God hates sin. The destruction of the old world by the flood; the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah; the drowning of Pharaoh and the Egyptians in the Red Sea; the cutting off the nations of Canaan; the overthrow of Jerusalem and the Temple; the scattering of the Jews; all these are unmistakable witnesses.

By the Bible we know that God loves sinners. His gracious promise in the day of Adam’s fall; His long-suffering in the time of Noah; His deliverance of Israel out of the land of Egypt; His gift of the law at Mount Sinai; His bringing the tribes into the promised land; His forbearance in the days of the Judges and Kings; His repeated warnings by the mouth of His prophets; His restoration of Israel after the Babylonian captivity; His sending His Son into the world, in due time, to be crucified; His commanding the Gospel to be preached to the Gentiles, all these are speaking facts.

By the Bible we learn that God knows all things. We see Him foretelling things hundreds and thousands of years before they take place, and as He foretells so it comes to pass. He foretold that the family of Ham should be a servant of servants,—that Tyre should become a rock for drying nets,—that Nineveh should become a desolation,—that Babylon should be made a desert—that Egypt should be the basest of kingdoms, that Edom should be forsaken and uninhabited,—and that the Jews should not be reckoned among the nations. All these things were utterly unlikely and improbable. Yet all have been fulfilled. Once more I say, how vast and important all this knowledge is! Can this Book be the work of uninspired man? Let us try to answer that question.

The Bible alone teaches us that God has made a full, per feet, and complete provision for the salvation of fallen man. It tells of an atonement made for the sin of the world, by the sacrifice and death of God’s own Son upon the cross. It tells us that by His death for sinners, as their Substitute, He obtained eternal redemption for all that believe on Him. The claims of God’s broken law have now been satisfied. Christ has suffered for sin, the just for the unjust. God can now be just and yet the justifier of the ungodly. It tells us that there is now a complete remedy for the guilt of sin,—even the precious blood of Christ; and peace, and rest of conscience for all who believe on Christ. “Whosoever believeth on Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” It tells us that there is a complete remedy for the power of sin,—even the almighty grace of the Spirit of Christ. It shows us the Holy Ghost quickening believers, and making them new creatures. It promises a new heart and a new nature to all who will hear Christ’s voice, and follow Him. Once more I say, how important this knowledge is! What should we know of all this comfortable truth without the Bible? Can this Book be the composition of uninspired men? Let us try to answer that question.

The Bible alone explains the state of things that we see in the world around us. There are many things on earth which a natural man cannot explain. The amazing inequality of conditions,—the poverty and distress; the oppression and persecution,—the shakings and tumults,—the failures of statesmen and legislators,—the constant existence of uncured evils and abuses,—all these things are often puzzling to him. He sees, but does not understand. But the Bible makes it all clear. The Bible can tell him that the whole world lieth in wickedness; that the prince of the world, the devil, is everywhere,—and that it is vain to look for perfection in the present order of things. The Bible will tell him that neither laws nor education can ever change men’s hearts,—and that just as no man will ever make a machine work well, unless he allows for friction,—so also no man will do much good in the world, unless he always remembers that human nature is fallen, and that the world he works in is full of sin. The Bible will tell him that there is “a good time” certainly coming,—and coming perhaps sooner than people expect it,—a time of perfect knowledge, perfect justice, perfect happiness, and perfect peace. But the Bible will tell him this time shall not be brought in by any power but that of Christ coming to earth again. And for that second coming of Christ, the Bible will tell him to prepare. Once more, I say, how important is all this knowledge!

All these are things which men could find nowhere except in the Scriptures. We have probably not the least idea how little we should know about these things if we had not the Bible. We hardly know the value of the air we breathe, and the sun which shines on us, because we have never known what it is to be without them. We do not value the truths on which I have been just now dwelling, because we do not realize the darkness of men to whom these truths have not been revealed. Surely no tongue can fully tell the value of the treasures this one volume contains. Set down that fact in your mind, and do not forget it. The extraordinary contents of the Bible are a great fact which can only be explained by admitting its inspiration. Mark well what I say. It is a simple broad fact that, in the matter of contents, the Bible stands entirely alone, and no other book is fit to be named in the same day with it. He that dares to say the Bible is not inspired, let him give a reasonable account of this fact, if he can.

(b) It is another fact that there is an extraordinary unity and harmony in the contents of the Bible…

…which is entirely above man. We all know how difficult it is to get a story told by any three persons, not living together, in which there are not some contradictions and discrepancies. If the story is a long one, and involves a large quantity of particulars, unity seems almost impossible among the common run of men. But it is not so with the Bible. Here is a long book written by not less than thirty different persons. The writers were men of every rank and class in society. One was a lawgiver. One was a warlike king. One was a peaceful king. One was a herdsman. One had been brought up as a publican, another as a physician, another as a learned Pharisee, two as fishermen,—several as priests. They lived at different intervals over a space of 1500 years; and the greater part of them never saw each other face to face. And yet there is a perfect harmony among all these writers? They all write as if they were under one dictation. The style and hand-writing may vary, but the mind that runs through their work is always one and the same. They all tell the same story. They all give one account of man,—one account of God,—one account of the way of salvation,—one account of the human heart. You see truth unfolding under their hands as you go through the volume of their writings,—but you never detect any real contradiction, or contrariety of view.

Let us set down this fact in our minds, and ponder it well. Tell us not that this unity might be the result of chance. No one can ever believe that but a very credulous person. There is only one satisfactory account to be given of the fact before us.—The Bible is not of man, but of God.

(c) It is another fact that there is an extraordinary wisdom, sublimity and majesty in the style of the Bible…

…which is above man. Strange and unlikely as it was, the writers of Scripture have produced a book which even at this day is utterly unrivalled. With all our boasted attainments in science and art and learning, we can produce nothing that can be compared with the Bible. Even at this very hour, in 1877, the book stands entirely alone. There is a strain and a style and a tone of thought about it, which separate it from all other writings. There are no weak points, and motes, and flaws, and blemishes. There is no mixture of infirmity and feebleness, such as you will find in the works of even the best Christians. “Holy, holy, holy,” seems written on every page. To talk of comparing the Bible with other “sacred books” so called, such as the Koran, the Shasters, or the book of Mormon, is positively absurd. You might as well compare the sun with a rushlight,—or Skiddaw with a molehill,—or St. Paul’s with an Irish hovel,—or the Portland vase with a garden pot,—or the Kohinoor diamond with a bit of glass.1 God seems to have allowed the existence of these pretended revelations, in order to prove the immeasurable superiority of His own Word. To talk of the inspiration of the Bible, as only differing in degree from that of such writings as the works of Homer, Plato, Shakespeare, Dante, and Milton, is simply a piece of blasphemous folly. Every honest and unprejudiced reader must see that there is a gulf between the Bible and any other book, which no man can fathom. You feel, on turning from the Scriptures to other works, that you have got into a new atmosphere. You feel like one who has exchanged gold for base metal, and heaven for earth. And how can this mighty difference be accounted for?

The men who wrote the Bible had no special advantages. They lived in a remote corner of the civilized earth. They had, most of them, little leisure, few books, and no learning,—such as learning is reckoned in this world. Yet the book they compose is one which is unrivalled! There is but one way of accounting for this fact. They wrote under the direct inspiration of God.

(d) It is another fact that there is an extraordinary accuracy in the facts and statements of the Bible, which is above man.

Here is a book which has been finished and before the world for 1800 years. These 1800 years have been the busiest and most changeful period the world has ever seen. During this period the greatest discoveries have been made in science, the greatest alterations in the ways and customs of society, the greatest improvements in the habits and usages of life. Hundreds of things might be named which satisfied and pleased our forefathers, which we have laid aside long ago as obsolete, useless, and old-fashioned. The laws, the books, the houses, the furniture, the clothes, the arms, the machinery, the carriages of each succeeding century, have been a continual improvement on those of the century that went before. There is hardly a thing in which faults and weak points have not been discovered. There is scarcely an institution which has not gone through a process of sifting, purifying, refining, simplifying, reforming, amending, and changing. But all this time men have never discovered a weak point or a defect in the Bible. Infidels have assailed it in vain. There it stands,—perfect, and fresh, and complete, as it did eighteen centuries ago. The march of intellect never overtakes it. The wisdom of wise men never gets beyond it. The science of philosophers never proves it wrong. The discoveries of travellers never convict it of mistakes.—Are the distant islands of the Pacific laid open? Nothing is found that in the slightest degree contradicts the Bible account of man’s heart.—Are the ruins of Nineveh and Egypt ransacked and explored? Nothing is found that overturns one jot or tittle of the Bible’s historical statements.—How shall we account for this fact? Who could have thought it possible that so large a book, handling such a vast variety of subjects, should at the end of 1800 years, be found so free from erroneous statements? There is only one account to be given of the fact.—The Bible was written by inspiration of God.

(e) It is another fact that there is in the Bible an extraordinary suitableness to the spiritual wants of all mankind.

It exactly meets the heart of man in every rank or class, in every country and climate, in every age and period of life. It is the only book in existence which is never out of place and out of date. Other books after a time become obsolete and old—fashioned: the Bible never does. Other books suit one country or people, and not another: the Bible suits all. It is the book of the poor and unlearned no less than of the rich and the philosopher. It feeds the mind of the labourer in his cottage, and it satisfies the gigantic intellects of Newton, Chalmers, Brewster, and Faraday. Lord Macaulay, and John Bright, and the writers of brilliant articles in the Times, are all under obligations to the same volume. It is equally valued by the converted New Zealander in the southern hemisphere, and the Red River Indian in the cold north of America, and the Hindu under the tropical sun.

It is the only book, moreover, which seems always fresh and evergreen and new. For eighteen centuries it has been studied and prayed over by millions of private Christians, and expounded and explained and preached to us by thousands of ministers. Fathers, and Schoolmen, and Reformers, and Puritans, and modern divines, have incessantly dug down into the mine of Scripture, and yet have never exhausted it. It is a well never dry, and a field which is never barren. It meets the hearts and minds and consciences of Christians in the nineteenth century as fully as it did those of Greeks and Romans when it was first completed. It suits the “Dairyman’s daughter” as well as Persis, or Tryphena, or Tryphosa,—and the English Peer as well as the converted African at Sierra Leone. It is still the first book which fits the child’s mind when he begins to learn religion, and the last to which the old man clings as he leaves the world.2 In short, it suits all ages, ranks, climates, minds, conditions. It is the one book which suits the world.

Now how shall we account for this singular fact? What satisfactory explanation can we give? There is only one account and explanation.—The Bible was written by Divine inspiration. It is the book of the world, because He inspired it who formed the world,—who made all nations of one blood,—and knows man’s common nature. It is the book for every heart, because He dictated it who alone knows all hearts, and what all hearts require. It is the book of God.

(f) It is a great fact that the Bible has had a most extraordinary effect on the condition of those nations in which it has been known, taught, and read.

I invite any honest-minded reader to look at a map of the world, and see what a story that map tells. Which are the countries on the face of the globe at this moment where there is the greatest amount of idolatry, or cruelty, or tyranny, or impurity, or misgovernment, or disregard of life and liberty and truth? Precisely those countries where the Bible is not known.—Which are the Christian countries, so-called, where the greatest quantity of ignorance, superstition, and corruption, is to be found at this very moment? The countries in which the Bible is a forbidden or neglected book, such countries as Spain and the South American States.—Which are the countries where liberty, and public and private morality have attained the highest pitch? The countries where the Bible is free to all, like England, Scotland, Germany, and the United States. Yes! when you know how a nation deals with the Bible, you may generally know what a nation is.

Which are the cities on earth where the fewest soldiers and police are required to keep order? London, Manchester, Liverpool, New York, Philadelphia,—cities where Bibles abound. —Which are the countries in Europe where there are the fewest murders and illegitimate births? The Protestant countries, where the Bible is freely read.—Which are the Churches and religious bodies on earth which are producing the greatest results by spreading light and dispelling darkness? Those which make much of the Bible, and teach and preach it as God’s Word. The Romanist, the Neologian, the Socinian, the deist, the sceptic, or the friends of mere secular teaching, have never yet shown us one Sierra Leone, one New Zealand, one Tinnevelly, as the fruit of their principles. We only can do that who honour the Bible and reverence it as God’s Word. Let this fact also be remembered. He that denies the Divine inspiration of the Bible, let him explain this fact if he can.

I place these six facts about the Bible before my readers, and I ask them to consider them well.

Take them all six together, treat them fairly, and look at them honestly. Upon any other principle than that of divine inspiration, those six facts appear to me inexplicable and unaccountable. Here is a book written by a succession of Jews, in a little corner of the world, which positively stands alone. Not only were its writers isolated and cut off in a peculiar manner from other nations, but they belonged to a people who have never produced any other hook of note except the Bible! There is not the slightest proof that, unassisted and left to themselves, they were capable of writing anything remarkable, like the Greeks and Romans. Yet these men have given the world a volume which for depth, unity, sublimity, accuracy, suitableness to the wants of man, and power of influencing its readers, is perfectly unrivalled. How can this be explained? How can it be accounted for? To my mind there is only one answer. The writers of the Bible were divinely helped and qualified for the work which they did. The book which they have given to us was written by inspiration of God.

For my own part, I believe that in dealing with sceptics, and unbelievers, and enemies of the Bible, Christians are too apt to stand only on the defensive.

They are too often content with answering this or that little objection, or discussing this or that little difficulty, which is picked out of Scripture and thrown in their teeth. I believe we ought to act on the aggressive far more than we do, and to press home on the adversaries of inspiration the enormous difficulties of their own position. We have a right to ask them, how can they possibly explain the origin and nature of the Bible, if they will not allow that it is of Divine authority? We have a right to say,—“Here is a book which not only courts inquiry but demands investigation. We challenge you to tell us how that Book was written.”—How can they account for this Book standing so entirely alone, and for nothing having ever been written equal to it, like it, near it, or fit to be compared with it for a minute? I defy them to give any rational reply on their own principles. On our principles we can.

To tell us that man’s unassisted mind could have written the Bible is simply ridiculous.

It is worse than ridiculous it is the height of credulity. In short, the difficulties of unbelief are far greater than the difficulties of faith. No doubt there are things “hard to be understood” if we accept the Scriptures as God’s Word. But, after all, they are nothing compared to the hard things which rise up in our way, and demand solution if we once deny inspiration. There is no alternative. Men must either believe things which are grossly improbable, or else they must accept the great general truth that the Bible is the inspired Word of God.

The Guilt of the Pagan, The Reprobate Mind

Taken and adapted from a sermon titled “The Guilt of the Pagan” which was
presented to the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church, May 3, 1863.
Written by William G. T. Shedd.
Edited for thought, sense and space.

condemnation WebThis brings us to the consideration of the reprobate mind…

…which St. Paul rests his position that the pagan world is in a state of condemnation. He concedes that man outside of the pale of revelation is characterized, not indeed by total, but by great ignorance of God and divine things; that his moral knowledge is exceedingly dim and highly distorted. But the fault is in himself that it is so.

“As they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind.” The question very naturally arises, and is frequently urged by the unbeliever, How comes it to pass that the knowledge of God, of which the apostle speaks, and which he affirms to be innate and constitutional to the human mind, should become so vitiated in the pagan world? The majority of mankind are polytheists and idolaters, and have been for thousands of years. Can it be that St. Paul is correct in affirming that the doctrine that there is only one God is native to the human mind, –that the pagan “knows” this God, and yet does not glorify him as God? The majority of mankind are earthly and sensual, and have been for thousands of years. Can it be that St. Paul is correct in saying that there is a moral law written upon their heart, forbidding such carnality, and enjoining purity and holiness?

The theory that the pagan is possessed of such an amount and degree of moral knowledge as has been specified has awakened some apprehensions in the minds of some Christian theologians, and has led them unintentionally to foster the opposite theory,which, if strictly adhered to, would lift off all responsibility from the pagan world, would bring them in innocent at the bar of God, and would render the whole enterprise of Christian missions a superfluity and an absurdity.

Their motive has been good. They have feared to attribute any degree of accurate knowledge of God and the moral law to the pagan world, lest they should thereby conflict with the doctrine of total depravity. They have erroneously supposed that if they should concede to every man, by virtue of his moral constitution, some correct apprehensions of ethics and natural religion, it would follow that there is some native goodness in him.

But light in the intellect is very different from life and affection in the heart. It is one thing to know the law of God, and quite another thing to obey it.

Even if we should concede to the degraded pagan, or the degraded dweller in the haunts of vice in Christian lands, all the intellectual knowledge of God and the moral law that is possessed by the ruined archangel himself, we should not be adding a particle to his moral character or his moral excellence. There is nothing of a holy quality in the mere intellectual perception that there is one Supreme Being, and that he has issued a pure and holy law for the guidance of all rational creatures.

The mere doctrine of the Divine Unity will save no man.

There is no redemptive power in it. It forgives no sin, and it delivers from no bondage to sin. “Thou believest,”says St. James, ” that there is one God; thou doest well; the devils also believe and tremble.” Satan himself is a monotheist, and knows very clearly all the commandments of God; but his heart and will are in demoniacal antagonism with them. And so it is, even in a lower degree, in the instance of the pagan and of the natural man in every age and in every clime. This intellectual perception, this constitutional apprehension of the first principles of natural religion, instead of lifting up disobedient man into a higher and more favorable position before the eternal bar, casts him down to a deeper perdition.

These facts prove that the pagan man is under supervision; that he is under the righteous despotism of moral ideas and convictions; that God is not far from him; that he lives and moves and has his being in his Maker; and that God does not leave himself without witness in his constitutional structure. Therefore it is, that this sea of rational intelligence thus surges and sways in the masses of paganism; sometimes dashing the creature up the heights, and sometimes sending him down into the depths.

But we answer no, to the question that is put by the objector, for a second reason that is still more conclusive, because it is still more practical. The guilt of the pagan can not be reduced to a minimum and disappear, because, wherever he is found, he is found to be self-willed and determined in sin. He does not like to retain truth in his mind, or to obey it in his heart.

There is not a single individual of them all who has been necessitated to do wrong. Each one of them has a will of his own, and loves the sin that is destroying him more than he loves the holiness that would save him. Notwithstanding all the horrible accompaniments of sin in heathen society, the wretched creature prefers to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season rather than come out and separate himself from the unclean thing, and begin that holy warfare and obedience to which his God and Saviour invite him. This, we repeat, proves that the sin is not forced upon the rational creature. For if he hated his sin, nay, if he felt weary and heavy-laden because of it, he would leave it.

If the positions that have been taken are correct, natural religion consigns the entire pagan world to eternal perdition.

Men are condemned already, previous to redemption, by the law written on their hearts;by their natural convictions of moral truth; by natural religion,whose truths and dictates they have failed to put in practice. And it is precisely because the pagan world has not obeyed the principles of natural religion, and is under a curse and a bondage therefore, that it is in perishing need of the truths of revealed religion.

Therefore, only know that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses all sin…

…from every soul upon whom it drops. And we know that our Redeemer and King has commanded us to proclaim this fact to every human creature. Events and successes are with him.

The church has nothing to do but obey orders, like soldiers in a campaign.

The great and the simple work before the church is to sprinkle the nations with the blood of atonement. This it does, instrumentally, when it preaches forgiveness of sins through Christ’s oblation. The one great and awful fact in human history, we have seen, is the fact of guilt. And the great and glorious fact which the mercy of God has now set over against it, is the fact of atonement. It requires no high degree of civilization to apprehend either of these facts. The benighted pagan is as easily convicted as the most highly educated philosopher; and his reception of the atonement of God is, perhaps, even less hindered by pride and prejudice.

Let the church, therefore, dismissing all secondary and inferior aims, however excellent and desirable in themselves, go forth and proclaim to all the nations that “they are without excuse, because that when they knew God they glorified him not as God;” and also that ” God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”