WHEN GOD GAVE MAN UP TO HIS OWN WAY: Thoughts from Romans 1


Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. –Romans 1:24

There is a dark sequence, in the logic of facts, between unworthy thoughts of God and the development of the basest forms of human wrong.

“The fool hath said in his heart, ‘There is no God:’” they are corrupt, and have done abominable works” (Psalm 14:1). And the folly which does not indeed deny God but degrades His Idea, always gives its sure contribution to such corruption.

It is so in the nature of the case. The individual atheist, or polytheist, may conceivably be a virtuous person, on the human standard; but if he is so it is not because of his creed. Let his creed become a real formative power in human society, and it will tend inevitably to moral disease and death. Is man indeed a moral personality, made in the image of a holy and almighty Maker? Then the vital air of his moral life must be fidelity, correspondence, to his God. Let man think of Him as less than All, and he will think of himself less worthily; not less proudly perhaps, but less worthily, because not in his true and wonderful relation to the Eternal Good. Wrong in himself will tend surely to seem less awful, and right less necessary and great.

And nothing, literally nothing, from any region higher than himself –himself already lowered in his own thought from his true idea –can ever come in to supply the blank where God should be, but is not. Man may worship himself, or may despise himself, when he has ceased to “glorify God and thank Him”; but he cannot for one hour be what he was made to be, the son of God in the universe of God. To know God indeed is to be secured from self-worship and to be taught reverence.

“God gave them up”

So the Scripture says elsewhere. “So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lusts” (Psalm 81:12); “God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven” (Acts 7:42); “God gave them up to passions of degradation”; “God gave them over to an abandoned mind”; (below, verses 26, 28). It is a dire thought; but the inmost conscience, once awake, affirms the righteousness of the thing. From one point of view it is just the working out of a natural process, in which sin is at once exposed and punished by its proper results, without the slightest injection, so to speak, of any force beyond its own terrible gravitation towards the sinner’s misery.

But from another point it is the personally allotted, and personally inflicted, retribution of Him who hates iniquity with the antagonism of infinite Personality. He has so constituted natural process that wrong gravitates to wretchedness; and He is in that process, and above it, always and forever.

So He “gave them up, in their desires of their hearts”; He left them there where they had placed themselves, “in” the fatal region of self-will, self-indulgence; “unto uncleanness” described now with terrible explicitness in its full outcome, “to dishonor their bodies” the intended temples of the Creator’s presence, “among themselves” or “in themselves”; for the possible dishonor might be done either in a foul solitude, or in a fouler society and mutuality: Seeing that they perverted the truth of God. The eternal fact of His glory and claim, in the (τῷ) lie, so that it was travestied, misrepresented, lost, “in” the falsehood of polytheism and idols; and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

He casts this strong Doxology into the thick air of false worship and foul life, as if to clear it with its holy reverberation. For he is writing no mere discussion, it is not a lecture on the genesis and evolution of paganism. It is the story of a vast rebellion, told by one who, was once himself a rebel, is now altogether and forever the absolute vassal of the King whom he has “seen in His beauty,” and whom it is his joy to bless, and to claim blessing for Him from His whole world forever.

As if animated by the word of benediction, he returns to denounce “the abominable thing which God hateth” with language that is still more terrible in its explicitness.

For this reason, because of their preference of the worse to the infinite Good, God gave them up to passions of degradation; He handed them over, self-bound, to the helpless slavery of lust; to “passions” eloquent word, which indicates how the man who will have his own way is all the while a “sufferer,” though by his own fault; the victim of a mastery which he has conjured from the deep of sin.

Shall we shun to read, to render, the words which follow? We will not comment and expound. May the presence of God in our hearts, hearts otherwise as vulnerable as those of the old pagan sinners, sweep from the springs of thought and will all horrible curiosity. But if it does so it will leave us the more able, in humility, in tears, in fear, to hear the facts of this stern indictment. It will bid us listen as those who are not sitting in judgment on paganism, but standing beside the accused and sentenced, to confess that we too share the fall, and stand, if we stand, by grace alone.

Shall we consider if the Apostle, who thus tore the rags from the spots of the Black Death of ancient morals, would be more merciful, if possible, over similar symptoms parading today in modern Christianity?

Terrible, indeed, is the prosaic coolness with which vices are named and narrated in classical literature; and we ask in vain for one of even the noblest of the pagan moralists who has spoken of such sins with anything like adequate horror. Such “speech, and such silence, has been almost impossible since the Gospel was felt in civilization.” “Paganism,” says Dr. F.W. Farrar, in a powerful passage, with this paragraph of Romans in his view, “is protected from complete exposure by the enormity of its own vices. To shew the divine reformation wrought by Christianity it must suffice that once for all the Apostle of the Gentiles seized heathenism by the hair, and branded indelibly on her forehead the stigma of her shame.”

Yet the vices of the old time are not altogether an antiquarian’s wonder. Now, as truly as then, man is awfully accessible to the worst solicitations the moment he trusts himself away from God. And this needs indeed to be remembered in a stage of thought and of society whose sensuality, cynicism, and materialism, show gloomy signs of likeness to those last days of the old degenerate world in which St Paul looked round him, and spoke out about the things he saw.

For their females perverted the natural use to the unnatural. So too the males, leaving the natural use of the female, burst out aflame in their craving towards one another, males in males working out their unseemliness –and duly getting (ἀπολαμβάνοντες) in themselves that recompense of their error which was owed them. –Verse 27

And as they did not approve of keeping God in their moral knowledge, God gave them up to an ‘abandoned mind,’ — “a reprobate, God-rejected, mind” (ἀδόκιμον νοῦν); meeting their disapprobation with His just and fatal reprobation. That mind, taking the false premises of the Tempter, and reasoning from them to establish the autocracy of self, led with terrible certainty and success through evil thinking to evil doing; to do the deeds which are not becoming, to expose the being made for God, in a naked and foul unseemliness, to its friends and its foes; filled full of all unrighteousness, wickedness, viciousness, greed; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who (οἵτινες) knowing the (ἐπιγνόντες) judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Here is a terrible accusation of human life, and of the human heart; the more terrible because it is plainly meant to be, in a certain sense, both inclusive, and universal.’

We are not indeed compelled to think that the Apostle charges every human being with sins against nature, as if the whole earth were actually one vast City of the Plain. We need not take him to mean that every descendant of Adam is actually an undutiful child, or actually untrustworthy in a compact, or even actually a boaster, an ἀλαζόνας, a pretentious claimant of praise or credit which he knows he does not deserve. We may be sure that on the whole, in this lurid passage, man charged less with condemnation than with “lamentation, and mourning, and woe,” Paul is thinking mainly of the then state of heathen society in its worst developments. Yet we shall see, as the Epistle goes on, that all the while he is thinking not only of the sins of some men, but of the sin of man. He describes with this tremendous particularity the variegated symptoms of one disease –the corruption of man’s heart; a disease everywhere present, everywhere deadly; limited in its manifestations by many circumstances and conditions, outward or within the man, but in itself quite unlimited in its dreadful possibilities. What man is, as fallen, corrupted, gone from God, is shewn, in the teaching of St Paul, by what bad men are.

Do we rebel against the inference? Quite possibly we do. Almost for certain, at one time or another, we have done so. We look round us on one estimable life and another, which we cannot reasonably think of as regenerate, if we take the strict Scriptural tests of regeneration into account, yet which asks and wins our respect, our confidence, it may be even our admiration; and we say, openly or tacitly, consciously or unconsciously, that that life stands clear outside this first chapter of Romans. Well, be it so in our thoughts; and let nothing, no nothing, make us otherwise than ready to recognize and honor right doing wherever we see it, alike in the saints of God and in those who deny His very Being. But just now let us withdraw from all such looks outward, and calmly and in a silent hour look in. Do we, do you, do I, stand outside this chapter? Are we definitely prepared to say that the heart which we carry in our breast, whatever our friend’s heart may be, is such that under no change of circumstances could it, being what it is, conceivably develop the forms of evil branded in this passage?

Ah, who, that knows himself, does not know that there lies in him indefinitely more than he can know of possible evil? “Who can understand his errors?” Who has so encountered temptation in all its typical forms that he can say, with even approximate truth, that he knows his own strength, and his own weakness, exactly as they are?

Nor was it lightly, or as a piece of pious rhetoric, that the saintliest of the chiefs of our Reformation, seeing a murderer carried off to die, exclaimed that there went John Bradford but for the grace of God. It is just when a man is nearest God for himself that he sees what, but for God, he would be; what, taken apart from God, he is, potentially if not in actuality. And it is in just such a mood that, reading this paragraph of the great Epistle, he will smite upon his breast, and say, “God, be merciful to me the sinner” (Luke 18:13).

In so doing, the repentant sinner will be meeting the very purpose of the Writer of this passage. Inasmuch as St Paul is full of the message of peace, holiness, and the Spirit, he is intent and eager to bring his reader into sight and possession of the fullness of the eternal mercy, revealed and secured in the Lord Jesus Christ, our Sacrifice and Life. But for this very purpose he labors first to expose man to himself; to awaken him to the fact that he is before everything else a sinner; to reverse the Tempter’s spell, and to let him see the fact of his guilt with open eyes.

“The Gospel,” someone has said, “can never be proved except to a bad conscience.” If bad means “awakened,” the saying is profoundly true. With a conscience sound asleep we may discuss Christianity, whether to condemn it, or to applaud. We may see in it an elevating program for the race. We may affirm, a thousand times, that from the creed that God became flesh there result boundless possibilities for Humanity. But the Gospel, “the power of God unto salvation,” will hardly be seen in its own prevailing self-evidence, as it is presented in this wonderful Epistle, till the student is first and with all else a penitent. The man must know for himself something of sin as condemnable guilt, and something of self as a thing in helpless yet responsible bondage, before he can so see Christ given for us, and risen for us, and seated at the right hand of God for us, as to say, ” There is now no condemnation; Who shall separate us from the love of God? I know whom I have believed.”

To the full sight of Christ there needs a true sight of self, that is to say, of sin.

Written by, H.C.G. MOULE

Christ the Center


I am reminded that it was on the glorious resurrection morning that Mary went to seek for Jesus.

She was not yet aware of the resurrection, for she sought Him in the tomb. She was not looking for the Risen Lord, and yet, He stood beside her. And yes, she thought He was the gardener, but with one word, “Mary,” Jesus then revealed himself to her, as her Savior.

As we read some passage in the Old Testament, how often is our eyesight held back, and we see only the earthly form: we see Aaron the priest, or David the shepherd, or Solomon the king; but if, like Mary, we are really seeking the Lord Jesus, He manifests Himself to us through the outward type, and we turn in glad surprise, and, looking up, say, “Rabboni” (literally, “my great One”).

As we continue to seek Christ, we will find Him in some of the least expected places of the Old Testament. And as we read, with our eyes enlightened by the Holy Spirit, a pattern will present itself. Perhaps mysterious at first, a bright place revealed in an unexpected spot, and over there, we will see something shining brightly in that passage. But what is it? Why, it is a glimpse of our Lord! And as we continue to read and study, we will begin to see Jesus all through the Old Testament.  Here he is, and, over there!  –Until the whole Old Testament grows as luminous as the sun with the holy grace of the glory of God, and we behold the face of Jesus.

It was Jesus who prophetically states through David, “In the scroll of the book it is written of me” –Psalm 40:7.  

All the lines of history, and all the types of the sacrificial system, all of the wisdom of the Psalms, and all the far-reaching views of prophetic utterance, — all converge towards one center, and that center is –Jesus the Christ. 

Further, these scriptures narrow in on the work and mission of this Jesus, and to that one supreme event… which was His death on the Cross for our salvation. 

Is it any wonder that it is from this central focal point, that again all the lines of history in the book of Acts, of experience in the Epistles, and of prophecy in Revelation radiate out once more to testify to that one all-encompassing fact, that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world? For we find that it was after His resurrection of our Lord, that not only did he open the Scriptures to His disciples, but also “opened their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures.” It is the imperative of Christianity, and the basis of New Testament evangelism, that this Jesus, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, is ready to do the same for us. For the same Holy Spirit who moved holy men of old to write the divinely inspired, and all-sufficient Scriptures, is close at hand to make those words, those very same translated words, into life for our souls. How does he do this?  The Holy Spirit does this by taking of the things of Christ and not only empirically revealing them unto us, but goes much further, and impresses those important truths, savingly and regeneratingly, upon the hearts of his children.

As we study the Bible to see its center, that is, to see Christ, we see how that each of the books of the New Testament do in essence show that Christ is the Key to the Old Testament Scriptures. For it holds the same truths of the Old Testament in sublime unity. And in those places where the Old Testament falls short in its presentation of the suffering Messiah, for the Gospel is but dimly seen by the patriarchs and prophets of the Old Testament, the New Testament picks it up with great power, showing signs, wonders, miracles, prophecies fulfilled, God’s character freshly revealed, and reinterpretations and fulfillments “that even the angels desire to look into.” –1 Peter 1:12 ISV.

In short, the Bible as a whole is Christ centered from first to last. He is the essence of it. He is the author of it, and “it is written of me.”

Where are you? As his child, is Christ the center of scripture? Or, do you read it to see yourself, or perhaps, your organization? For you what is central in your mind? Do you read it to find that Christ who is the center of life? And is he the center of your life, just like he is the center of all scripture?  I ask this because today, as never before, people are reading the scripture to find themselves, the lifestyle they want; whether it be a lifestyle of prosperity, or in sensuality. Or, do you find your center of scriptures in the law, that thing which was created by a loving heavenly father to be a schoolmaster leading us unto Christ?  

May we each come to find the Jesus who is the center of all life.  May we make him the center of our hearts, for if we do, we will see that he is truly the center of all scripture and all knowledge, and then we will come to realize that “God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all-sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” –2 Corinthians 9:8

With some thoughts borrowed from A.M. Hodge

The Feast for Supper

533703_204035749759642_11397564_nI remember as a child that we were very poor.

My father, a good man, was out of work again; seems like that happened often when we were young. Mother, helpless to do anything about it, was really upset about this, and dad was pretty angry too, but mostly at himself. After an exchange of a few unkind words, I heard the screen door slam shut, and my father stomp off… turning to my mother I said to her, “mommy, I am hungry. What’s for supper?”

She quickly scooped me up and carried me over to the rocking chair, and began to quietly sing to me, “Under His Wings,” while rapidly rocking me the whole time. Holding me tightly, she just rocked me there for a while, quietly singing.

As she was doing so, someone knocked on our screen door; it was a neighbor, “I just brought by some fish I caught this afternoon. Could you use any?” he asked. Some fish would be lovely my mother replied. He helped her put a bunch of fish wrapped in newspaper in the sink, and my mother thanked him.

I hadn’t seen the tears, but she was wiping her eyes. She grabbed me again, holding me and sat down in the old rocker, and started singing again, “Under His wings…” After a little while, the old man who lived across the street from us, stomped his foot on the rickety wooden porch and said, “I got my arms full tomatoes, would you mind taking a bag?” “I wouldn’t mind at all,” my mother replied. “I think some fresh tomatoes would really go very well with the fish tonight. Thank you Peter!”

No sooner, had the old neighbor had walked back, and we had put the tomatoes on the counter, admiring each one for its size, color, and that pleasing aroma, that ripe smell tomatoes give when they are fresh, when a friend from church drove up, and told mother that they had just picked an extra bushel of corn down at the farm, and was just thinking of us. “Could we use any?”

My mother, was really beside herself at this point, and looking back at the whole scene now, I can greatly admire her firm bravery. With the smile on her face, and the straightness in her back, you would have thought that there wasn’t a thing wrong in the world, but as I look back now, I know that she must have been hurting pretty fierce.

When everyone was gone, I think that she got a little weak kneed, for she sat back down in the rocker again for a spell. She didn’t rock as fast this time, and she didn’t sing, just kind of kept clearing her throat.

My father came in about then, looking around in bewilderment at all the food, he just kind of stood there, mother asked if he could clean the fish, and she would get supper together.

That night, we had a feast. It seemed like it was all my favorite foods. And even though there wasn’t a lot of small talk at the table that evening, I didn’t notice, because I was busy eating.

I will never forget that song my mother sang to me. I didn’t realize the significance of what was happening at that moment, nor of the song, but as I have reflected back on my early childhood I realize that God was with us even back then. And from moments just like that, I have come to believe that he is with me even now, and will provide for my needs as his own Divine counsel wills. Has he provided for you? Have you thanked him?

Under His wings I am safely abiding,
Though the night deepens and tempests are wild,
Still I can trust Him; I know He will keep me,
He has redeemed me, and I am His child.


Under His wings, under His wings,
Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide,
Safely abide forever.

Under His wings, what a refuge in sorrow!
How the heart yearningly turns to His rest!
Often when earth has no balm for my healing,
There I find comfort, and there I am blessed.


The Apostasy of the Enlightened, and the Impossibility of Their Repentance

Taken and adapted from, “Studies in the Scriptures”
Written by, Arthur W. Pink (1886-1952)


“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”—Hebrews 6:4-6

This passage is one of the most solemn in the Hebrews’ Epistle, yea, to be met with anywhere in the New Testament.

Probably few regenerate souls have read it thoughtfully without being moved to fear and trembling. Careless professors have frequently been rendered uneasy in conscience as they have heard its awe-inspiring language. It speaks of a class of persons who had been highly privileged, who had been singularly favored, but who, so far from having improved their opportunities, had wretchedly perverted them; who had brought shame and reproach on the cause of Christ; and who were in such a hopeless condition that it was “impossible to renew them again unto repentance.” Well does it become each one of us to lift up his heart to God earnestly, beseeching Him to prevent us making such a shipwreck of the faith…

The chief difficulty connected with our passage is to make sure of the class of persons who are there in view. Is the Holy Spirit here describing regenerated or unregenerated souls? The next thing is to ascertain what is meant by, “If they shall fall away.” The last, what is denoted by “It is impossible to renew them again unto repentance.” Anticipating our exposition, we are fully assured that the “falling away” that is here spoken of signifies a deliberate, complete, and final repudiation of Christ—a sin for which there is no forgiveness…

…To prepare the way for our exposition of these verses, the contents of which have so sorely puzzled many, let us recall once more the condition of soul into which these Hebrew Christians had fallen. They had “become dull of hearing” (5:11), “unskillful in the word of righteousness” (5:13), unable to feed upon “strong meat” (5:14). This state was fraught with the most dangerous consequences. “The Hebrews had become lukewarm, negligent, and sluggish. The Gospel, once clearly seen and dearly loved by them, had become to them dull and vague; the persecutions and contempt of their countrymen a grievous burden, under which they groaned and under which they did not enjoy fellowship with the Lord Jesus. Darkness, doubt, gloom, indecision, and consequently a walk in which the power of Christ’s love was not manifest, characterized them. Now, if they continued in this state, what else could be the result but apostasy? Forgetfulness, if continued, must end in rejection, apathy in antipathy, unfaithfulness in infidelity.

“Such was their danger. And if they yielded to it, their state was hopeless. No other Gospel remains to be preached, no other power to rescue and raise them. They had heard and known the voice which saith, ‘Come unto me…and I will give you rest’ (Mat 11:28). They had professed to believe in the Lord Who died for sinners and to have chosen Him as their Savior and Master. And now they were forgetting and forsaking the Rock of their Salvation. If they deliberately and willfully continued in this state, they were in danger of final impenitence and hardness of heart.” — Adolf Saphir

“A clear and growing faith in heavenly things was needed to preserve Jewish Christians from relapse. To return to Judaism was to give up Christ, Who had left their house ‘desolate’ (Mat 23:38). It was to fall from grace and place themselves not only under the general curse of the Law, but that particular curse that had brought the guilt of Jesus’ blood on the reprobate and blinded nation of His murderers.” — Arthur Pridham

It should be pointed out, however, that it is just as easy and the attraction is just as real for a Gentile Christian to return to that world out of which the Lord has called him, as it was for a Jewish Christian to go back again to Judaism. And just in proportion as the Christian fails to walk with God daily, so does the world obtain power over his heart, mind, and life; and a continuance in worldliness is fraught with the most direful and fatal consequences…

Three things claim our careful attention in coming closer to our passage: The persons here spoken of, the sin they commit, the doom pronounced upon them. In considering the persons spoken of, it is of first importance to note that the Apostle does not say, “us who were once enlightened,” nor even “you”; instead, he says “those.” In sharp contrast from them, he says to the Hebrews, “Beloved, we are persuaded better things of you”…It is scarcely accurate to designate as “mere professors” those described in verses 4-5. They were a class who had enjoyed great privileges, beyond any such as now accompany the preaching of the Gospel. Those here portrayed are said to have had five advantages, which is in contrast [to] the six things enumerated in verses 1-2, which things belong to man in the flesh under Judaism…Yet were they not true Christians. This is evident from what is not said. Observe: they were not spoken of as God’s elect, as those for whom Christ died, as those who were born of the Spirit. They are not said to be justified, forgiven, and accepted in the Beloved. Nor is anything said of their faith, love, or obedience. Yet these are the very things that distinguish a real child of God.

First, they had been “enlightened.” The Sun of righteousness had shone with healing in His wings, and as Matthew 4:16 says, “The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.” Unlike the heathen, whom Christ in the days of His flesh visited not, those who came under the sound of His voice were wondrously and gloriously illumined.

The Greek word for “enlightened” here signifies “to give light or knowledge by teaching.” It is so rendered by the Septuagint in Judges 13:8; 2 Kings 12:2; 17:27. The Apostle Paul uses it for “to make manifest” or “bring to light” in 1 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Timothy 1:10. Satan blinds the minds of those who believe not, lest “the light of the gospel should shine unto them” (2 Corinthians 4:4), that is, give the knowledge of it. Thus, “enlightened” here means to be instructed in the doctrine of the Gospel, so as to have a clear apprehension of it. In the parallel passage in 10:26, the same people are said to have “received the knowledge of the truth” (cf. also 2 Peter 2:20-21). It is, however, only a natural knowledge of spiritual things, such as is acquired by outward hearing or reading, just as one may be enlightened by taking up the special study of one of the sciences. It falls far short of that spiritual enlightenment which transforms (2 Corinthians 3:18). An illustration of an unregenerate person being “enlightened,” as here, is found in the case of Balaam (Numbers 24:4).

Second, they had “tasted of the heavenly gift.” To “taste” is to have a personal experience of, in contrast from mere report. “Tasting does not include eating, much less digesting and turning into nourishment what is so tasted; for its nature being only thereby discerned, it may be refused, yea, though we like its relish and savor on some other consideration. The persons here described then are those who have to a certain degree understood and relished the revelation of mercy. Like the stony-ground hearers, they have received the Word with a short-lasting joy.” The “tasting” is in contrast from the “eating” of John 6:50–56.

Opinion is divided as to whether the “heavenly gift” refers to the Lord Jesus or the person of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps it is not possible for us to be dogmatic on the point. Really, the difference is without a distinction; for the Spirit is here to glorify Christ, as He came from the Father by Christ as His ascension “Gift” to His people. If the reference be to the Lord Jesus, John 3:16, 4:10, etc., would be pertinent references; if to the Holy Spirit, Acts 2:38, 8:20, 10:45, 11:17. Personally, we rather incline to the latter. This Divine Gift is here said to be “heavenly” because it is from Heaven and leading to Heaven in contrast [with] Judaism (cf. Act 2:2; 1 Peter 1:12). Of this “Gift,” these apostates had “tasted” or had an experience of. Compare Matthew 27:34 where “tasting” is opposed to actual drinking. Those here in view had an acquaintance with the Gospel, as to gain such a measure of its blessedness as to greatly aggravate their sin and doom. An illustration of this is found in Matthew 13:20-21.

Third, they were “made partakers of the Holy Spirit.” First, it should be pointed out that the Greek word for “partakers” here is a different one from that used in Colossians 1:12 and 2 Peter 1:4, where real Christians are in view. The word here simply means “companions,” referring to what is external rather than internal. It is to be observed that this item is placed in the center of the five, and this because it describes the animating principle of the other four, which are all effects. These apostates had never been “born of the Spirit” (John 3:6), still less were their bodies His “temples” (1 Corinthaians 6:19). Nor do we believe this verse teaches that the Holy Spirit had at any time wrought within them, otherwise Philippians 1:6 would be contradicted. It means that they had shared in the benefit of His supernatural operations and manifestations: “The place was shaken” (Acts 4:31) illustrates. We quote below from Dr. J. Brown:

“It is highly probable that the inspired writer refers primarily to the miraculous gifts and operations of the Holy Spirit by which the primitive dispensation of Christianity was administered. These gifts were by no means confined to those who were ‘transformed by the renewing of their minds.’ The words of our Lord in Matthew 7:22-23 and of Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:1-2 seem to intimate that the possession of these unrenewed men was not very uncommon in that age. At any rate, they plainly show that their possession and an unregenerate state were by no means incompatible.”

Fourth, “And have tasted the good word of God.” “I understand by this expression the promise of God respecting the Messiah, the sum and substance of all. It deserves notice that this promise is by way of distinguished superiority, termed by Jeremiah ‘that good word’ (33:14). To ‘taste,’ then, this ‘good word of God,’ is to experience that God has been faithful to His promise—to enjoy, so far as an unconverted man can enjoy, the blessings and advantages that flow from that promise being fulfilled. To ‘taste the good word of God,’ seems just to enjoy the advantages of the new dispensation.” –John Brown. Further confirmation that the Apostle is here referring to that which these apostates had witnessed of the fulfillment of God’s promise is obtained by comparing Jeremiah 29:10: “After seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.”

Observe how studiously the Apostle still keeps to the word taste, the better to enable us to identify them. They could not say with Jeremiah, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them” (15:16). “It is as though he said, I speak not of those who have received nourishment; but of such as have so far tasted it, as that they ought to have desired it as ‘sincere milk’ and grown thereby.”  A solemn example of one who merely “tasted” the good Word of God is found in Mark 6:20: “For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.”

Fifth, “And the powers of the world to come” or “age to come.” The reference here is to the new dispensation that was to be ushered in by Israel’s Messiah according to O. T. predictions. It corresponds with “these last days” of Hebrews 1:2 and is in contrast [with] the “time past” or Mosaic economy. Their Messiah was none other than the “mighty God” (Isa 9:6), and wondrous and glorious, stupendous and unique were His miraculous works. These “powers” of the new Age are mentioned in Hebrews 2:4…Of these mighty “powers” these apostates had “tasted” or had an experience of. They had been personal witnesses of the miracles of Christ and of the wonders that followed His ascension, when such glorious manifestations of the Spirit were given. Thus, they were “without excuse.” Convincing and conclusive evidence had been set before them, but there had been no answering faith in their hearts. A solemn example of this is found in John 11:47-48.

“If they shall fall away.” The Greek word here is very strong and emphatic, even stronger than the one used in Matthew 7:27, where it is said of the house built on the sand, “and great was the fall thereof.” It is a complete falling away, a total abandonment of Christianity that is here in view. It is a willful turning of the back on God’s revealed truth, an utter repudiation of the Gospel. It is making “shipwreck of the faith” (1 Timothy 1:19). This terrible sin is not committed by a mere nominal professor, for he has nothing really to fall away from, save an empty name. The class here described are such as having had their minds enlightened, their consciences stirred, their affections moved to a considerable degree, and yet who were never brought from death unto life. Nor is it backsliding Christians who are in view. It is not simply “fall into sin,” this or that sin. The greatest “sin” that a regenerated man can possibly commit is the personal denial of Christ: Peter was guilty of this, yet was he “renewed again unto repentance.” It is the total renunciation of all the distinguishing truths and principles of Christianity, and this not secretly, but openly, which constitutes apostasy.

“If they shall fall away.” “This is scarcely a fair translation. It has been said that the Apostle did not here assert that such persons did or do ‘fall away’; but that if they did—a supposition which, however, could never be realized—then the consequence would be they could not be ‘renewed again unto repentance.’ The words literally rendered are ‘and have fallen away’ or ‘yet have fallen.’ The Apostle obviously intimates that such persons might and that such persons did ‘fall away.’ By ‘falling away,’ we are plainly to understand what is commonly called apostasy. This does not consist in an occasional falling into actual sin, however gross and aggravated; nor in the renunciation of some of the principles of Christianity, even though those should be of considerable importance; but in an open, total, determined renunciation of all the constituent principles of Christianity and a return to a false religion, such as that of unbelieving Jews or heathens, or to open infidelity and open godlessness.”

“It is impossible…if they fall away, to renew them again unto repentance.” Four questions here call for answer. What is meant by “renewed unto repentance”? What is signified by “renewed again unto repentance”? Why is such an experience “impossible”? To whom is this “impossible”? Repentance signifies a change of mind: Matthew 21:29 and Romans 11:29 establish this. It is more than a mental act, the conscience also being active, leading to contrition and self-condemnation (Job 42:6). In the unregenerate, it is simply the workings of nature; in the children of God, it is wrought by the Holy Spirit. The latter is evangelical, being one of the things that “accompany salvation.” The former is not so, being the “sorrow of the world,” which “worketh death” (2 Corinthians 7:10). This kind of “repentance” or remorse receives most solemn exemplification in the case of Judas (Matthew 27:3, 5). Such was the repentance of these apostates…

But what is meant by “renewing unto repentance”? “To be ‘renewed’ is a figurative expression for denoting a change, a great change, and a change for the better. To be ‘renewed’ so as to change a person’s mind is expressive of an important and advantageous alteration of opinion, character, and service. And such an alteration the persons referred to had undergone at a former period. They were once in a state of ignorance respecting the doctrines and evidences of Christianity, and they had been ‘enlightened.’ They had once known not of the excellency and beauty of Christian truth, and they had been made to ‘taste of the heavenly gift.’ They once misunderstood the prophecies respecting the Messiah and were unaware of their fulfillment, and of course were strangers to that energetic influence that the N. T. revelation puts forth. They had been made to see that ‘good word’ was fulfilled and had been made partakers of the external privileges and been subjected to the peculiar energies of the new order of things. Their view, feelings, and circumstances were materially changed. How great the difference between an ignorant, bigoted Jew, and the person described in the preceding passage! He had become, as it were, a different man. He had not indeed become, in the sense of the Apostle, a ‘new creature.’ His mind had not been so changed as to believe in sincerity ‘the truth as it is in Jesus’; but still, a great and, so far as it went, a thorough change had taken place.”—John Brown

Now it is impossible to “renew again unto repentance” those who have totally abandoned the Christian revelation. Some things are “impossible” with respect unto the nature of God, as that He cannot lie or pardon sin without satisfaction to His justice. Other things that are possible to God’s nature are rendered “impossible” by His decrees or purpose (see 1 Samuel 15:28-29). Still other things are “possible” or “impossible” with respect to the rule or order of all things God has appointed. For example, there cannot be faith apart from hearing the Word (Romans 10:13–17). “When in things of duty God hath neither expressed command thereon, nor appointed means for the performance of them, they are to be looked upon then as impossible [as, for instance, there is no salvation apart from repentance, Luke 13:3 (A.W.Pink)] and then, with respect unto us, they are so absolutely and so to be esteemed. And this is the ‘impossibility’ here principally intended. It is a thing that God hath neither commanded us to endeavor, nor appointed means to attain it, nor promise to assist us in it. It is therefore that which we have no reason to look after, attempt, or expect, as being not possible by any law, rule, or constitution of God…

“Seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh.” This is brought in to show the aggravation of their awful crime and the impossibility of their being renewed again unto repentance. By renouncing their Christian profession, they declared Christ to be an Imposter. Thus, they were irreclaimable. To attempt any further reasoning with them would only be casting pearls before swine. With this verse should be carefully compared the parallel passage in 10:26-29. These apostates had “received the knowledge of the truth,” though not a saving knowledge of it. Afterward they sinned “willfully”: there was a deliberate and open disavowal of the truth. The nature of their particular sin is termed a “treading underfoot the Son of God (something which no real Christian ever does) and counting (esteeming) the blood of the covenant an unholy thing,” that is, looking upon the One Who hung on the Cross as a common criminal. For such, there “remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.” Their case is hopeless as far as man is concerned; and the writer believes, such are abandoned by God also.

“Seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” “They thus identify themselves with His crucifiers—they entertained and avowed sentiments that, were He on earth and in their power, would induce them to crucify Him. They exposed Him to infamy, made a public example of Him. They did more to dishonor Jesus Christ than His murderers did. They never professed to acknowledge His divine mission; but these apostates had made such a profession—they had made a kind of trial of Christianity and, after trial, had rejected it.”

Such a warning was needed and well-calculated to stir up the slothful Hebrews. Under the O. T. economy, by means of types and prophecies, they had obtained glimmerings of truth as to Christ, called “the word of the beginning of Christ.” Under those shadows and glimmerings they had been reared, not knowing their full import until they had been blessed with the full light of the Gospel, here called “perfection.” The danger to which they were exposed was that of receding from the ground where Christianity placed them and relaxing to Judaism. To do so meant to re-enter that House that Christ had left “desolate” (Matthew 23:38) and would be to join forces with His murderers, and thus “crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh,” and by their apostasy “put him to an open (public) shame”…

Taking the passage as a whole, it needs to be remembered that all who had professed to receive the Gospel were not born of God: the Parable of the Sower shows that. Intelligence might be informed, conscience searched, natural affections stirred, and yet there be “no root” in them. All is not gold that glitters.

How Christ is the Christian’s Jubilee

Taken and adapted from, “The Christian Treasury”
Written by, John Milne, of Perth
Published, January 1, 1867


‘Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound.’

–Psalm 89:15.

What is the joyful sound?

It is just, I think, the gospel. It has been in the world ever since the fall. When sin had reigned unto death, grace began to reign, through the coming righteousness, unto eternal life. It was the grain of mustard seed sown in Eden; and it went on, age after age, opening up and expanding. Paul tells us that it was preached to Israel, even as to us. It was wrapped up in all their types and ceremonies. It was the subject and substance of all their sacrifices and solemn feasts.

There was one of their feasts, however, which more clearly and fully expressed or pictured it than any of the others. It was the jubilee, which occurred every fiftieth year, and was indeed, in a temporal sense, a joyful sound. It came immediately after the Day of Atonement; and in the kindness and remission which it enjoined towards their fellow-men, was a most fitting exercise for those who had themselves just been receiving forgiveness and clemency from God. We are told how eagerly it was waited for, and how gladly it was welcomed. Persons were stationed on the hill-tops, all over the country, to watch for the first appearance of the new moon, which was the commencement of the year of grace. Whoever first observed it, signaled to the others; and so the good news was circulated all over the land, with a kind of telegraphic swiftness. Then the trumpets were blown, and that moment all were free. The prison doors were opened, the chains were broken, the debtor discharged, the captive released, the slave enfranchised, the mortgaged houses and lands restored to their original proprietors; and thus may a scattered family met once more in the old home and inheritance, to thank the Lord for his goodness, and his wonderful works to the children of men. It was a real Christmas season.

Don’t you think that Christ must have looked with deep interest upon this? He loved and honored all the ordinances of his Father’s house. Every Sabbath saw Him in the synagogue. He regularly attended the Passover from his youth up. We find Him walking in the temple at the Feast of the Dedication, and taking occasion, from the many lamps which it was the custom then to light, to draw attention to himself as the world’s great Light, and to urge them to walk in his light of life, till travelling days were done. At the end of the Feast of Tabernacles, when the people were pouring out, as they were accustomed to do, with the pitchers of water which they had just drawn from the pool of Siloam, He again drew attention to himself as the Well of life, the world’s great drinking-fountain. He stood and cried, ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.’ May we not, therefore, conclude that the jubilee would be peculiarly dear to Him?

When acknowledged by the Father, anointed by the Spirit, a victor in the wilderness, He returned full of power to Nazareth, and read in the synagogue the words of Isaiah, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; because He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised; to preach the acceptable year of the Lord,’—don’t you think that, while thus engaged, his mind may have been full of the jubilee, and that very possibly He would say to the wondering assembly, ‘I am the true Jubilee; I am the world‘s great Jubilee. Come unto me, and be free; come unto me, and be forgiven; come unto me, and receive more than your fallen father Adam lost?’ Would not the same thought be in his mind, when He said to his disciples, ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature?’ Yes, the gospel is a joyful sound. It proclaims salvation to the lost, forgiveness to the sinner, health to the sick soul, comfort to the troubled, and deliverance to the oppressed. It bids the prodigal come back to his father‘s love, his father’s house, his father’s boundless wealth; and all this free, absolutely free, without money and without price. It is simply, Come—come now—come just as you are—come, for all things are now ready. Work is not required, strength is not needed, fruit is not demanded, and questions are not asked; it is simply, “Come, and receive.”

Such is the joyful sound. But it must be known before it can bless. This is very important; it explains what would otherwise be a mystery. The jubilee trumpet has long been sounding in the world, the gospel has been largely preached, and yet the greater part of men are still aliens from God, slaves of the devil, without peace, and without hope. How is this? Here is the explanation: the joyful sound must be known before it can benefit. “By his knowledge shall my righteous Servant justify many.” Says the Apostle Paul: ‘The excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.’ What is this knowledge? It is believing, understanding, welcoming the gospel. Multitudes who read and hear the gospel, never really believe it. They give a lazy, indolent, uninquiring assent to it; but if they were asked, they could give no intelligible reason for their doing so. The subject has, perhaps, never fairly crossed their minds; or, if it has, they have given it the go-by.  They say it is too simple, too humbling too easy; it will lead to licentiousness,—as if they knew better than God what will preserve and conduce to his glory. Many, again, never really understand the gospel. They have not felt their need of it, and so they take little interest in it—never give their minds to it. They are busy with many things, which they think more urgent and important; and thus they have not attained a correct, intelligent knowledge of God’s way of peace. They never see its fullness, freeness, suitableness, nearness, and the obligation under which all are under to receive it. 

They hear the Gospel preached and explained from Sabbath to Sabbath for a whole lifetime and yet, at the end, they are as ignorant of God’s way of justifying sinners as they were at the beginning.

If we were more in the habit of speaking freely and directly with one another about our most important concerns, we should oftener see how very general this ignorance is. They confuse the way of grace with the way of works, and think that it is by their own righteousness, not by faith in the righteousness of another, that they are to be saved. They cling to their own works, and say they are doing what they can. This, I suppose, is the hell-filling sin of our day. But, once more, there are many who do not welcome the gospel. I suppose there were some who did not welcome the jubilee. The selfish slaveholder’s evil heart rose against it. He would say, Here have I been training and educating this servant; and now, must I set him free? The avaricious landholder, adding field to field and house to house, did not welcome it. He said, Must I now part with my accumulated possessions? The slave, enamored of his bondage, said, I do not wish to be free; I love my master, am pleased with his service, and enjoy the connections which I have here formed. And so there are many who do not welcome the joyful sound. They give it the same reception which He, who is the sum and substance of it, got when He came into the world,—they do not receive it.

But, thank God, there are many who do receive the Gospel. The poor, awakened, heavy-laden sinner, welcomes it; those who are broken in heart and wounded in spirit, welcome it; those who are weary of sin and its bondage, welcome it; those who feel their need of something better and more enduring than this world can give, welcome it; those who are afraid of judgment and the wrath to come, welcome it. The gospel just suits them; it is like bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty, clothing to the naked, and life to the dying. Put these three things together,—believing, understanding, welcoming,—and then you will know the joyful sound, and experience in yourself the blessedness which it brings.

Let us look at this blessedness. There are three ingredients in it which are here mentioned,

1.  The favor of God,
2.  The joy of God, and
3.  The exaltation of God.

1.  The favor of God:

‘They shall walk, 0 Lord, in the light of thy countenance.’ The light of God’s countenance is another way of describing his favor. When He is displeased, He hides his face, or covers it with a cloud; whereas, when He is pleased, He lifts up the light of his countenance, or makes his face to shine. ‘Walking’ is just the whole conduct. A man‘s walk is his whole life; and therefore, when it is said, ‘They shall walk, 0 Lord, in the light of thy countenance,’ it is as much as saying, they shall enjoy God’s favor in all they do. What a comfort is this,—the Father’s smile always resting upon his child,-—the master’s smile always resting upon his servant! This is a kind of summer life, a continual sunshine. Christ had it. The Father looked down, and said, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased;’ and the Son looked up, and said, ‘The Father hears me always, for I do always the things that please Him.’

God’s favor is life. How little the world’s frown can trouble a man in whose heart God is whispering, ‘I am well pleased!’

2.  The joy of God:

‘In thy name shall they rejoice all the day.’ God’s name is himself; what He is,—his attributes, his perfections, his being. They rejoice in this, and their joy is perennial—all the day. God’s gifts change, but He never changes. ‘He is the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.’ We very commonly err here; we rest in the streams, when we should rise to the fountain. We should turn away from our comforts, works, and fruits, and say, God is mine; ‘the Lord is the portion of my soul, therefore will I hope in Him.’

3.  God’s exultation:

‘In thy righteousness shall they be exalted.’ What righteousness is this? Not God’s attribute of righteousness, for that could only condemn us; not our own righteousness, for we have none. It can only mean the righteousness which Christ has wrought out, and in virtue of which He has been exalted, and is now with God upon the throne. When we know the joyful sound, Christ’s righteousness is put upon us, and we become partakers of his exaltation; we are justified, accepted, made near and dear to God.

‘So near, so very near to God,
Nearer I cannot be;
For, in the person of his Son,
I am as near as He.

So dear, so very dear to God,
Dearer I cannot be;
The love wherewith He loves the Son,
Is the love He bears to me.’

Put these things together, favor, joy, exaltation,—and think what a blessedness this is. Yet it is open to us all, free to us all. Take in the joyful sound; hold it fast; rest simply, unwaveringly upon it. Give no heed to the suggestions of the devil, the questionings of your own heart, and then you will abide in perfect love, and walk in perpetual sunshine. A good man, who was much blessed and honored in his day, was once asked, ‘How is it that you are always so peaceful and unencumbered amid cares and labors which would crush other men? He answered, ‘It is not that I am not tempted. I have many thoughts, and fears, and cares crowding upon me, and seeking to get possession of my heart. But then, hundreds of times a day, I think with myself, Is not God my Father, Christ my Brother, the Holy Ghost my Comforter, Providence my helper, and heaven my home? And thus I am upheld, and carried on from day to day, as upon eagles’ wings.’


Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: John Milne, became minister of St. Leonard’s, Perth, in 1839, and was almost immediately associated with an awakening in which an outstanding circle of preachers shared. Among them were his close friends, William Burns, Robert M’Cheyne, and Horatius Bonar.

Milne was one of those evangelicals who, in the words of Alexander Whyte, ‘had an immense influence on the religious life of Scotland’.

But all these men shared the conviction of M’Cheyne, ‘It is not great gifts God uses so much as great likeness to Christ’. This is why, at a later date, C.H. Waller, could speak of the 1840s in Scotland as ‘the nearest approach he knew to apostolic conditions of faith and living’.

Apart from a short period of missionary service in India, Milne spent his whole ministry in Perth as a pastor and evangelist. Bonar’s account of John Milne, as one who lived close to Christ remains a guide to what the churches need in every age.

Doers of the Word, and the Blessings of it

Taken and adapted from, “Convictions and Teachings”
Written by,  GEORGE MÜLLER
A compilation of George Muller’s works published by, Chapel Library Resources


Be Doers of the Word

“Practical atheist” is an accurate (albeit not gratifying) appellation used in days gone by to describe a familiar phenomenon: folk claiming to believe in God but living as if He did not exist. How might one earn this ignoble title? To be sure, it may be done in catastrophic fashion: denying Christ (at home, at work, in the public square) under threat of some significant loss (rejection, divorce, destitution, incarceration). But, on the other end of the spectrum, it may be done regularly without noise or tumult—and that by those claiming evangelical and reformed credentials—simply by a habitual neglect of the duty and privilege of prayer. It all amounts to the same thing: denying by our actions that God exists or that is He able or willing to come to our aid.

Such considerations position us to appreciate the genius of Hebrews 11 where faith is described in this fashion:

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

Notice, faith embraces the grand realty of God’s existence in context of His coming to my aid (“…believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder…”). Verses that follow deploy instance after instance of believers putting themselves in jeopardy because they believed God’s promise and trusted He would keep it for them. They were not disappointed.

Lastly, if God does bless us in reading His Word, He expects that we should be obedient children and that we should accept the Word as His will, and carry it into practice. If this be neglected, you will find that the reading of the Word, even if accompanied by prayer, meditation, and faith, will do you little good. God does expect us to be obedient children, and will have us practice what He has taught us. The Lord Jesus Christ says: “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them” (John 13:17). In the measure in which we carry out what our Lord Jesus taught, so much in measure are we happy children. In such measure only can we honestly look for help from our Father, even as we seek to carry out His will.

If there is one single point I would wish to have spread all over this country and over the whole world, it is just this: that we should seek, beloved Christian friends, not to be hearers of the Word only, but “doers of the Word” (James 1:22).

I doubt not that many of you have sought to do this already, but I speak particularly to those younger brethren and sisters who have not yet learned the full force of this. Oh! Seek to attend earnestly to this; it is of vast importance.

Satan will seek with much earnestness to put aside the Word of God; but let us seek to carry it out and to act upon it. The Word must be received as a legacy from God, which has been communicated to us by the Holy Ghost,

The Fullness of the Revelation Given in the Word

And remember that, to the faithful reader of this blessed Word, it reveals all that we need to know about the Father, all that we need to know about the Lord Jesus Christ, all about the power of the Spirit, all about the world that lies in the wicked one, all about the road to heaven and the blessedness of the world to come. In this blessed book we have the whole gospel and all rules necessary for our Christian life and warfare. Let us see then that we study it with our whole heart and with prayer, meditation, faith, and obedience.



A soldier, whose regiment lay in a garrisoned town of Old England…

…was about to be brought before his commanding officer for some offence. He was an old offender, and had been punished time after time, yet without effect.

“Here he is again,” said the officer, on his name being mentioned; “everything—flogging, disgrace, and imprisonment—has been tried with him.”

Whereupon the sergeant stepped forward, and, apologizing for the liberty he took, said, “There is one thing which has never been done with him yet, sir.”

“What is that?” was the answer.

“Well, sir,” said the sergeant, “he has never been forgiven.”

“Forgiven!” exclaimed the colonel, surprised at the suggestion. He reflected for a few minutes, ordered the culprit to be brought in, and asked him what he had to say to the charges against him.

“Nothing, sir,” was his reply; “only I am sorry for what I have done.”

Turning a kind and pitiful look on the man who expected nothing else than that his punishment would be increased with the repetition of his offence, the colonel addressed him, saying, “Well, we have resolved to forgive you.” The soldier was struck dumb with astonishment; the tears started in his eyes, and he wept like a child. He was humbled to the dust, he thanked his officer, and retired.

Do you think that he left to be the old reprobate, and incorrigible man that he had been? No!  He became another man from that day forward. He who told me this story had him for years under his command, and a better conducted man never wore the Queen’s colors. For here was a man that kindness had bent, but one whom harshness could not break. This man had been conquered by mercy, and, completely forgiven.  Ever afterwards this soldier feared to offend in even the smallest thing.

Is that not the way it is with the Christian? His heart is twisted towards hell. His mind is at war with God, and hates all things God-like.  Then a change happens. Is it because that one morning he wakes up and decides to turn over a new leaf?  Not at all, it is because one morning he wakes up and finds that he is an awful sinner, that he is completely destitute of an excuse. That he is without hope for a pardon, and that there is nothing that he can do to save himself.

Then God appears, and forgives this destitute sinner.  To say that he did anything, or earned any part of the forgiveness that he received, is ludicrous.  For this new Christian to claim that God owed him this grace, would be the thought farthest from his mind.  So what changed him?  I will tell you what, it was the forgiving and cleansing grace of God.

How did it come about? I am glad you asked.

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.


Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

For my pardon, this I see,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
For my cleansing this my plea,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.


Nothing can for sin atone,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
Naught of good that I have done,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.


This is all my hope and peace,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
This is all my righteousness,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Who Are the Huguenots?

Taken and adapted from the blog, “Virginia is for Huguenots”

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‘Huguenot’ is a term that came into use around 1560 to describe members of the French Reformed (Protestant) Church.

There are several theories about the origin of the term. Some believe that it morphed from the German Eidgenosse (‘confederates’ or ‘oath-fellows), while other posit a French etymological origin. Regardless, the term became (much like the words Christian and Puritan, a term both of derision and a badge of honor.

French Huguenots are simply a branch of the Reformation. For a time they were also known as “Lutherans,” since they broke from the Roman Catholic Church and followed the Scriptures as Martin Luther did likewise; but as the Reformation went on, those in France would give heed to the teachings of the Reformer John Calvin, as they diverged from Luther on points relating to the Lord’s Supper, church government, church-state relations, and worship. Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion (1536-1559) laid out the theology of French Protestantism, and became a standard reference. The French Reformed Church, also with Calvin’s assistance, published the Gallic Confession of Faith (1559), which articulated the chief points of Huguenot theology.

Calvin, meanwhile, along with many other Protestants had to flee France for his own safety. Catholic France persecuted the Huguenots severely by outlawing the Protestant religion, executing many martyrs, and banning Reformed literature, the Bible in French, and even psalm-singing, which was a hallmark of the Huguenots. After the 1534 Affair of the Placards, Calvin ended up in francophone Geneva, Switzerland, where he would spend most of the rest of his life. Persecution of those Huguenots who remained in France was especially hot in the 1550s, and from 1562 to 1598, France was rent by eight Wars of Religion between the Catholics and Protestants. At the height of the persecution, thousands of Huguenots were slaughtered during the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of 1572.

The loyalty of French Huguenots to the crown of France was tested during these religious and political struggles. Huguenots were forced to address the question of church-state relations, and whether resistance to tyranny was Biblical. Calvin’s Institutes put forth the theory of interposition of lesser civil magistrates, earlier set forth by Augustine, whereby the people were not to resist a tyrant by force on their own, but lesser magistrates were to use the sword, if necessary, to defend the people from such a tyrant. Treatises by Francis Hotman, Theodore Beza and the author of “Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos” (A Defense of Liberty Against Tyrants) [1579] — thought by many to be Philippe Du-Plessis-Mornay — also strengthened the Protestant theory of resistance to tyranny (and would later influence both the Dutch and American Wars of Independence). Samuel Rutherford, a Scottish Covenanter, would later write his famous book enlarging on the theory of “Lex, Rex,” that is, the law is over the king, meaning that the king is accountable to the law, which is the constitutional theory of government espoused by French Huguenots.

What motivated the Huguenots on the battlefields, as well as in their homes and hearths, was a fierce love of God, his laws, his worship, his church, and all of his institutions in society.

Freedom of conscience to worship God according to the Scriptures was a principle that would be shared by the French Huguenots and Scottish Covenanters, who shed their blood to resist tyranny both in church and in state. John Calvin represented the Huguenot party historically, while his friend John Knox — who spent time in Geneva and called it “the most perfect school of Christ that was ever on earth since the days of the Apostles” — represented the Covenanters; both were often known as Reformed or Calvinists.

The Huguenots, were a people in awe of the holiness of God, and not a little comforted in their sufferings by the sovereignty of God. They looked to the Bible as the sole authority of faith, worship and life, and found in the Psalms a God-given “hymnal,” which Calvin was at great pains to versify for easier congregational singing, with help from Clement Marot, Theodore Beza, Louis Bourgeois, and others. Psalmody became such a badge of the Huguenots that John Quick writes:

This holy Ordinance charmed the Ears, Hearts and Affections of Court and City, Town and Country. They were sung in the Louvre, as well as in the Pres des Clerks, by the Ladies, Princes, yea and by Henry the Second himself. This one Ordinance only contributed mightily to the downfall of Popery, and the propagation of the Gospel. It took so much with the genius of the Nation, that all ranks and degrees of Men practised it in the Temples [churches] and in their Families. No Gentleman professing the Reformed Religion, would sit down at his Table without praising God by singing. Yea it was a special part of their Morning and Evening Worship, in their several houses, to sing God’s Praises. (Synodicon in Gallia Reformata, Vol. 1, p. v.)

The Huguenots adhered to Presbyterian church government, but strived to maintain unity with all Reformed Churches. They were prohibited from attending the 1618-1619 Dutch Synod of Dort by the French King, but empty chairs were placed in their honor and they remained empty throughout the proceedings. The Huguenots received a measure of peace after the 1598 Edict of Nantes, but their limited religious liberties were eroded over time. Huguenots retreated to strongholds and enclaves, the greatest of which was the city of La Rochelle. However, King Louis XIII and Cardinal Richelieu found a pretext to launch a full-scale siege of the city (1627-1628). La Rochelle’s downfall was the beginning of the end of the French Huguenots in France.

Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685 causing thousands of Huguenots to flee the country. There was another period of resistance known as the War of the Camisards (French Huguenots who fought the king’s dragoons in the Cevennes area from 1702 to 1715). But the Huguenot Diaspora, which began in 1685, led to a mass emigration, draining France of many of its artisans and intellectuals. What was France’s loss became the world’s gain. Huguenots streamed into England, Ireland, Holland, Germany, America, South Africa and elsewhere, where they would become good citizens and valuable contributors to society (at one point there were more French Huguenots in Berlin than Germans, and elsewhere at one time a quarter of the population of New York City was French Huguenot). Indeed, many settled in Virginia, where a parish was set up with religious liberties for Huguenots (in an Anglican colony) near Richmond, called Manakintowne. New Rochelle and New Paltz, New York became centers of Huguenot immigration, as did coastal areas of North and South Carolina. French Huguenot-founded churches still exist today in New York City; Manakin, VA; and Charleston, SC.

French Huguenot blood flowed through many Presidents and heroes of American history. The legacy of the French Huguenot also remains in the witness of the Reformed Faith worldwide. There are still some Protestants in France who cherish their Huguenot heritage. But those who, as Calvin did, acknowledge that they live by the grace of God, and who also love the land of Calvin and the history of this race of noble people, nevertheless adhere to the words of Charles Spurgeon, who wrote, “Be not proud of race, face, place or grace.” It was a saying of the Scottish Covenanters they fought “For Christ’s Crown & Covenant.” The Huguenots of La Rochelle and elsewhere had their own saying: “Pro Christo et Pro Grege” (“For Christ and the Flock”).

The Elect: Chosen as God’s Firstfruits

Taken and adapted from, “An Antidote Against Arminianism or A Treatise to Enervate and Confute All The Five Points of It” Written by, Christopher Ness; London, published 1700.
Posted on June 22, 2015 by Paul D. Posted in “The Dead Puritan Society”

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“But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.”
–2 Thessalonians 2:13 (ESV)

God hath in all ages given us examples of His free receiving some of mankind and rejecting others…

…this is plain from Scripture history. Of Adam’s three sons, Cain, Abel, Seth, the eldest was rejected. Of Noah’s three, Japheth, Shem and Ham, the youngest was rejected. Of Terah’s three, Abraham, Nahor, Haran, the middlemost was rejected; for Nahor was an idolater, and Laban sware by Nahor’s idol (compare Ge 31:53 with Jos 24:2). Now why this picking and choosing, this receiving and rejecting; eldest at one time, youngest at another time, and middlemost at a third time? What is all this but to show that neither birth nor age, nor anything foreseen or existing in the creature, can produce any claim, but that all lies in the free election of God!

We can give no reason, save the good pleasure of God, why Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar (both engaged in the same warfare against Israel, the church of God) had different dispensations of Heaven upon them; the one was hardened and the other humbled; why Pharaoh’s baker was hanged and his butler restored to his office again; why two men shall be in one bed, the one taken, the other left; why two women shall be grinding at one mill, the one taken, the other left; why Aaron’s rod, of all twelve, only blossomed.

Eternal life is the gift of God (Romans 6:23); He doth not sell it for foreseen faith or works, but He freely gives it. Now if all these fruits of election be free, then the election itself to these fruits must be free also. If faith be the free gift of God (Eph. 2:8), then predestination to faith must of necessity be also free, for God worketh all things according to the counsel of His own will (Eph. 1:11).

Christian believer, there is much comfort and establishment to be drawn from a view of the freeness of the grace of God; then:

1.  Admire free grace in this decree of predestination, and cry, How is it, Lord, that Thou dost manifest Thyself and Thy love to me, and not unto the world (John 14:22)?

2.  Thou makest not thyself to differ from others, but free grace does it for thee. Thou art a lump of clay in the hands of the potter, no better than others; yea, pressed down to hell by Adam’s fall; that God should lift thee up to Heaven, be thankful.

3.  Rejoice in the Lord, sing to the honour of His great name, and live to His praise and glory. Did David dance before the Lord with all his might? Did he say to Michael, “It was before the Lord, who chose me before your father, to appoint me ruler over… Israel; therefore will I play before the Lord” (2 Sa 6:14,21)? David’s appointment, at that time, was but to an earthly kingdom; thou art freely chosen to inherit a Heavenly: therefore I say rejoice.

In Loving Memory of Richard Baxter: His Trial, Last Hours, and His Final Song

Taken and adapted from, “The Christian Pioneer” Vol. 20.
Published in 1866

Flitting across the scenes of the English Rebellion, Restoration, and Revolution, three hundred and fifty years ago, we see the shadows of some of the greatest men that England ever produced.

Among these, as a preacher and writer, Richard Baxter was conspicuous. As a preacher his energy was most forcible and powerful—few being able to resist his appeals. As a writer no man, perhaps, ever wrote and printed so many good books. He was, however, like all other men, not without his failings; but these consisted chiefly in errors of judgment arising often from the spirit and manners of the age in which he lived, and never from evil intention. In our days his life and labors would have won for him universal admiration. To think of such a man being treated in the brutal manner he was at what was called his trial cannot but excite our wonder and indignation. But there never was an English Judge who disgraced the bench like Jeffreys. But verily the wretch, as Lord Macaulay has described, met with his reward.

“It had been determined before the death of Charles II, that Baxter should be imprisoned and tried, and he was actually on bail when that wretched king died. He was, by a warrant of Lord Chief Justice Jeffreys, committed to the King’s Bench for writing ‘ that scandalous, seditious book,’—so was it styled— ‘A Paraphrase on the New Testament.’ He was committed in February, and in May he was brought to his trial. In fact, nothing could be more innocent than the words for which he was indicted. He was indicted as ‘ Richard Baxter, a seditious and factious person, of a depraved mind, impious, iniquitous, of turbulent disposition and conversation, determined to break in the peace of the community and the tranquility of our Lord the King,’ etc. He was brought to trial before Jeffreys. His counsel had moved for more time. ‘I will not give him,’ said that drunken and blood-stained judge ‘ a minute’s time to save his life. We have had to do with other sorts of persons, but now we have a saint to deal with, and I know how to deal with saints as well as sinners. Yonder stands Oates in the pillory, and he says he suffers for the truth, and so says Baxter; but if Baxter did but stand on the other side of the pillory with him, I would say two of the greatest rogues and rascals in the kingdom stood there.’

On the 30th of May, Baxter was brought for trial. Sir Henry Ashurst had the courage to stand by him all the while. ‘When I saw,’ says another eye-witness, ‘the meek man stand before the flaming eyes and fierce looks of this judge, I thought of Paul before Nero. The barbarous usage which he received drew plenty of tears from my eyes, as well as from others of the auditors and spectators. He drove on furiously, pouring out contempt and scorn upon Baxter, as if he had been a link-boy or knave, which made the people who could not get near enough to hear the indictment or Mr. Baxter’s plea, exclaim, “Surely, this Baxter had burned the city.” But others said, it was not the custom now-a-days to receive ill, except for well-doing; and, therefore, this must needs be some good man that my lord rails so at.’

The obscenity, the vulgarity, and unrighteousness of the judge on the occasion of that trial, are well known. Before the trial of Baxter, a short cause was heard; and then the clerk called another cause. ‘You blockhead you,’ said the judge, ‘the next cause is between Baxter and the King.’ Some part of the ‘Paraphrase’ objected to was Mark 12: 38-40—’ And for a pretense make long prayers.’ Baxter made some remarks on liturgies. ‘Is he not now an old knave,’ said Jeffreys, ‘ to interpret this of liturgies. No, no,’ continued he, ‘it is their own long-winded extempore prayers, such as they used to say when they appropriated God to themselves. Lord, we are Thy people, Thy peculiar people, Thy dear people.’ And then he snorted, and squeaked through the nose, lifting up his eyes and mimicking their manner, as he said they used to pray. Baxter’s counsel interposed. ‘Polfexen,’ says Jeffreys, ‘ I know you well. I will set a mark upon you; you are the patron of the faction. This is an old rogue who has poisoned the world with his Kidder minster doctrine. Don’t we know how he preached formerly? “Curse ye Meroz; curse them bitterly that come not to the help of the Lord against the mighty.” He encouraged all the women and maids to bring their bodkins and thimbles to carry on their war against the king of ever blessed memory. An old schismatical knave, a hypocritical villain.’ ‘I beseech your lordship,’ said Polfexen, ‘suffer me a word for my client. It is well known to all intelligent men of this age and nation that those things do not apply to the character of Mr. Baxter. My lord, Mr. Baxter’s loyal and peaceable spirit, King Charles would have rewarded with a bishopric when he came in if he would have conformed.’

‘Aye, aye,’ said the judge, ‘we know that; but what ailed the old blockhead, the unthankful old villain, that he would not conform? Was he wiser and better than other men? He hath been ever since the spring of the faction. I am sure he hath poisoned the world with his linsey-woolsey doctrine; a conceited, stubborn, fanatical dog. Hang him! This old fellow hath cast more reproach upon the constitution and discipline of our Church than will be wiped off for a hundred years; but I’ll handle him for it, by God! He deserves to be whipped through the city.’

Let us blush for the days when that trial took place; blush that the bench of English justice was filled by so drunken and disgraceful a buffoon—blush that the throne of England was filled by a man of a more depraved character than the judge.

Jeffreys was fond of whipping, and he was desirous that Baxter should be flogged through the city; but the sentence was ultimately fixed at a fine of £500—a tolerable sum to pay for telling a mild piece of truth. This was one of the first acts of the gentle reign of James II; and it was early in the administration of his Lord Chief Justice, but it was a type of both; —mercifully both were short. Jeffreys danced a sort of bloody hornpipe through England when he went on circuit; while his white lipped master taught for a brief year or two that love and forgiveness had no place in his Christian code; then the magnanimity of England sent both master and man packing.

“For two years Baxter continued in prison. We were walking once with Elihu Burritt over York Castle, where George Fox was confined, and when he saw the comfort of all the prisoners, their clean cells and raiment and food, he said, ‘Ah, poor dear George Fox; dear Bunyan and Baxter; how very thankful they would have been to have had such a comfortable place as this!’ In truth, perhaps, prison would not be very irksome to a man like Baxter.”

In those days the saints expected it—they took pen, ink, and paper, and a book or two, and went into jail as if they were going home.

The accounts given to us of Baxter, in prison, are interesting. The old man wrought away with his pen still. His Puritan friends came to see him. ‘We interrupt you,’ said they once; ‘Of course you do,’ said he; ‘but never mind, go on.’ A man like that would not feel the shackles so much as many men.

We confess we like best to look at Baxter in prison. The dear old man; and how beautiful his words are in those closing hours. ‘I wish,’ he says, ‘all over-sharp passages were expunged from my writings, and I ask forgiveness of God and man.’

Blessings on thee, thou dear old teacher, thou shalt have for that word, not our forgiveness only, but our undying respect. He says that all mankind appear more equal to him; the good not to appear so good as he once thought, nor the bad so evil, and that in all there is more room for grace, to make advantage of, and more to testify for God and holiness, than he once believed. ‘I less admire,’ he continues, ‘ gifts of utterance, and the bare profession of religion than I once did, and have now much more charity for those who, by want of gifts, do make an obscure profession.’ Again, ‘When God forgiveth me, I cannot forgive myself, especially for my rash words and deeds, by which I have seemed less tender and kind than I should have been to my near and dear relations, whose love abundantly obliged me. When such are dead, though we never differed in point of interest, or any other matter, every sour, or cross, or provoking word, which I gave them, maketh me almost irreconcilable to myself, and tells me how repentance brought some of old to pray to the dead whom they had wronged, to forgive them, in the hurry of their passion.’ Grieve not—weep not thou brave and tender spirit!

Cheer up, Richard!—time is short—the cross is heavy, but you have not far to carry it! Dear old father, it is but a step or two more, and even now beautiful eyes are ‘waiting on the opposite banks of the river, in the house of youth and life, to smile forgiveness on thee for every word, forgotten indeed by them, though so keenly remembered by thee!

At length he was restored to freedom. He could not pay the fine, and so he was liberated; but when he was urged to sign a declaration of thanks to James II., the sternness of his ancient knighthood returned. His heart was softened, but his soul was perhaps, therefore, even stronger; he would not commend that infamous act of intolerant toleration, by which he and many others were only made the cat’s paw for the destruction of all English liberty and freedom. We respect and love the brave old heart of oak in that act as much as in any heroism of his noble life. Seventy years of age. Sick, infirm, bankrupt and beggared by the act of a succession of governments and of kings, he was firm and unshaken. He lived to see the Stuarts fly, and fly, thank God, forever!

He died in 1694. ‘I have,’ said he, ‘great pain; there is no use arguing against that. I care not; I have peace— peace— I have peace.’ A little while after they asked him how he was, and he replied, ‘Almost well.’ To the last he continued singing, when his sleep was broken in the night, ‘then,’ says his friend Silvester, ‘he sung much, nay, he believingly expected that his angelical convoy would conduct him through all the intermediate regions to his heavenly Father’s house, with those melodious hallelujahs or with something equally delightful.’

Then, too, he chanted these last verses. They ring like a glorious farewell to earth, and all hail to Everlasting Rest.”


My soul, go boldly forth,
Forsake this sinful earth;
What hath it been to thee
But pain and sorrow?
And thinkest thou it will be
Better to-morrow?

Look up towards heaven and see,
How vast those regions be,
Where blessed spirits dwell—
How pure and lightful I
But earth is near to hell,—
How dark and frightful!

Here life is but a spark,
Scarce shining in the dark;
Life is the element there
Which souls reside in;
Much like as air is here,
Which we abide in.

Jerusalem above—
Glorious in light and love,
Is mother of us all;
Who shall enjoy them?
The wicked hellward fall,—
Sin will destroy them.

God is Essential love,
And all the saints above
Are like unto him made—
Each in his measure;
Love is their life and trade,
And their constant pleasure.

Love flames in every breast,
The greatest and the least;
Strangers to this sweet rest
There are not any;
Love leaves no place for strife—
Makes one of many.

Lord Jesus, take my spirit!
I have thy love and merit
Take home thy wandering sheep—
For thou hast sought it;
This soul in safety keep,
For thou hast bought it.