The Nature and Calling of Free Grace

Written by J.C. Philpot

I admire and love the grace of God; and the longer I live, the more do I love and admire it.

My sins, my corruptions, my infirmities make me feel my deep and daily need of it; and as its freeness, fulness, suitability and inexpressible blessedness are more and more opened up to my heart and conscience, so do I more and more cleave to and delight in it. What, in fact, is there which you can substitute for it?

I assume that you have some concern about religion; that the solemn realities of eternity press with more or less weight on your conscience, and that you are awakened to see the evil of sin and your own evil case as sinners. I speak not to stocks and stones; I speak to you who desire to fear God and to have your hearts right before Him. If you have no concern about the salvation of your soul, you will love many things far beyond free grace. Money, dress, amusements, the pleasures that present themselves on every side, though hollow as the tomb and vain as a drunkard’s mirth, will so charm your mind and occupy your thoughts that Christ and His gospel will have no place in your conscience. But if you have any anxiety about your eternal condition, and are brought to cry, “What shall I do to be saved?” then I ask you, what can you put in the place of free grace? Surely, you cannot be so foolish as to put your own works in its stead. Surely, you cannot be so ignorant of your ruined condition before God, and of what is revealed in the Scriptures of the way of salvation by the atoning blood of Jesus, as to substitute the words and works of man for the words and works of the God-Man?

You may doubt your own interest in His atoning blood; but you do not doubt that salvation is all of grace, and that if saved your soul can be saved by grace alone.

And why not YOU be saved? What countless trophies has grace already at the Redeemer’s feet! What hosts of ruined wretches, of souls sunk beyond all other help or hope, has free grace sought out, rescued from their destructions, plucked from the jaws of hell, and ransomed from the hand of him that was stronger than they, so that they have come and sung in the height of Zion, and flowed together to the goodness of the Lord!

Look at Paul. Where can we find among the sons of men a parallel to the great Apostle of the Gentiles? What a large capacity! What a powerful intellect he naturally possessed, but how subdued and subjugated it became by grace, and how devoted to the glory of God and the advancement of His Dear Son! How grace arrested him at Damascus’ gate, cast him down body and soul at the Redeemer’s feet, translated him from the power of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son, and changed a bloodthirsty persecutor of the church of Christ into a minister and an apostle, the greatest ever seen. As such, what a deep humility, thorough disinterestedness, noble simplicity, godly zeal, unwearied labors distinguished him from first to last-a course of more than thirty years.

How in his inspired writings he pours, as it were, from his pen the richest streams of heavenly truth! With what clearness, power, and savor he describes and enforces the way of salvation through the blood shedding and obedience of the Son of God, the blessings of free grace, the glorious privileges of the saints, and the things that make for their happiness and holiness! How in every epistle it seems as if his pen could hardly drop a line without in some way setting forth the infinite grace, the boundless mercy, and unfathomable love of God, as displayed in the gift of His dear Son, and the blessings that flow to the church through His blood and love.

But look not at Paul only. View the jewels on every side that grace has set in the Redeemer’s crown out of the most depraved and abject materials! Who, for instance, were those Ephesians to whom Paul wrote that wonderful epistle? The most foolish and besotted of idolaters, so infatuated with their image which fell down from Jupiter-most probably some huge meteoric stone, that had fallen from the sky-that they spent two hours until they wearied out their throats with crying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians; ! men debased with every lust, ripe and ready for every crime. How rich, how marvelous the grace that changed worshippers of Diana into worshippers of Jehovah, brutal howlers into singers who made melody in their heart to the Lord (Eph. 5:19), and magicians, full of curious arts and Satanic witchcraft, into saints built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets!

Now cannot the same grace, that did so much for them, do the same or similar things for us?

Is the nature of man now less vile, or is the grace of Christ now less full and free? Has the lapse of 1800 years raised man out of the depths of the Fall, eradicated sin from his constitution, cleansed the foul leprosy of his nature, and purified it into holiness? Let the thin sheet of decent morality and civilization be taken off the corpse, and here it lies in all its hideous ghastliness.

Human nature is still what it ever was dead in trespasses and sins. Or has time, which changes so many things on earth, changed things in heaven? Is not God the same gracious Father, Jesus the same compassionate Savior, the Holy Spirit the same heavenly Teacher? Is not the gospel the same glad tidings of salvation, and the power of the gospel the same to everyone that believeth? Then why should not we be blessed with the same spiritual blessings as the saints at Ephesus? Why may not the same Jesus be to us what He was to them, the same Spirit to do for us and in us what He did for and in them, and the same grace save and sanctify us which saved and sanctified them? Here and here alone is our strength, our help, our hope, our all.

———-
Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage:  Joseph Charles Philpot (1802 – 1869) was known as “The Seceder”. He resigned from the Church of England in 1835 and became a Strict & Particular Baptist. While with the Church of England he was a Fellow of Worchester College, Oxford. After becoming a Strict and Particular Baptist he became the Editor of the Gospel Standard magazine and served in that capacity for twenty years.

Educated at Oxford University, he was elected a fellow of Worcester College, and appeared to have a brilliant scholastic career before him. But he was brought into solemn concern spiritually and the Lord led him into the ministry. He first preached in the Established Church at Stadhampton (Oxfordshire). In 1835, however, he was constrained, for the truth’s sake, to sever his connection with the Church of England and to resign his curacy and his fellowship. The letter to the provost stating his reasons was published and went into several editions.

The same year, he was baptized by John Warburton at Allington (Wilts). The rest of his life was spent ministering among the Strict Baptists. For 26 years, he held a joint pastorate at Stamford (Lines) and Oakham (Rutland). In addition for over twenty years, he was editor of “The Gospel Standard”, where many of his sermons first appeared.

–Theopedia

Christian, when you are “Smarting” under the Rod. Part 3. “What is a Prudent, a Gracious, and a Holy Silence?”

Excerpts taken, adapted and condensed from, “Mute Christian under the Smarting Rod” or, “The Silent Soul with Sovereign Antidotes”
Written by, Thomas Brooks, 1659, London.

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What does a prudent, a gracious, a holy silence include?  It includes and takes in these eight things:

First, It includes a sight of God, and an acknowledgment of God as the author of all the afflictions which come upon us. And this you have plain in the text—’I was silent; I would not open my mouth, for You are the one who has done this!’ The psalmist looks through secondary causes to the first cause, and so sits mute before the Lord. There is no sickness so little—but God has a finger in it; though it be but the aching of the little finger. So the Lord, who is the chief agent and mover in all actions, and who has the greatest hand in all our afflictions, is more to be eyed and owned than any inferior or subordinate causes whatever.

So Job, he beheld God in all—Job 1:21, ‘The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away.’ Had he not seen God in the affliction, he would have cried out—Oh these wretched Chaldeans, they have plundered and spoiled me; these wicked Sabeans, they have robbed and wronged me! Job discerns God’s commission in the Chaldeans’ and the Sabeans’ hands, and then lays his own hand upon his mouth. So Aaron, beholding the hand of God in the untimely death of his two sons, holds his peace, Lev. 10:3. The sight of God in this sad stroke is a bridle both to his mind and mouth, he neither mutters nor murmurs. So Joseph saw the hand of God in his brethren’s selling of him into Egypt, Gen. 14:8, and that silences him.

Men who don’t see God in an affliction, are easily cast into a feverish fit, they will quickly be in a flame, and when their passions are up, and their hearts on fire, they will begin to be saucy, and make no bones of telling God to his teeth, that they do well to be angry, Jonah 4:8, 9. Such as will not acknowledge God to be the author of all their afflictions, will be ready enough to fall in with that mad principle of the Manichees, who maintained the devil to be the author of all calamities; as if there could be any evil of affliction in the city, and the Lord have no hand in it, Amos 3:6. Such as can see the ordering hand of God in all their afflictions, will, with David, lay their hands upon their mouths, when the rod of God is upon their backs, 2 Sam. 16:11, 12. If God’s hand be not seen in the affliction, the heart will do nothing but fret and rage under affliction.

Secondly, It includes and takes in some holy, gracious apprehensions of the majesty, sovereignty, authority, and presence of that God under whose acting hand we are—Habakkuk 2:20, ‘But the Lord is in his holy temple—let all the earth be silent’, or as the Hebrew reads it, ‘Be silent, all the earth, before his face.’ When God would have all the people of the earth to be hushed, quiet, and silent before him, he would have them to behold him in his temple, where he sits in state, in majesty, and glory—Zeph. 1, ‘Hold your peace at the presence of the Lord God.’ Chat not, murmur not, repine not, quarrel not; stand mute, be silent, lay your hand on your mouth, when his hand is upon your back, who is all eye to see, as well as all hand to punish. As the eyes of a well-drawn picture are fastened on you which way soever you turn, so are the eyes of the Lord; and therefore you have cause to stand mute before him.

Thus Aaron had an eye to the sovereignty of God, and that silences him. And Job had an eye upon the majesty of God, and that stills him. And Eli had an eye upon the authority and presence of God, and that quiets him. A man never comes to humble himself, nor to be silent under the hand of God, until he comes to see the hand of God to be a mighty hand—1 Pet. 5:6, ‘Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God.’ When men look upon the hand of God as a weak hand, a feeble hand, a low hand, a mean hand—their hearts rise against his hand. ‘ Who is the Lord,’ says Pharaoh, ‘that I should obey his voice?’ Exod. 5:2. And until Pharaoh came to see the hand of God, as a mighty hand, and to feel it as a mighty hand, he would not let Israel go.

When Tiribazus, a noble Persian, was arrested, at first he drew out his sword and defended himself; but when they charged him in the king’s name, and informed him that they came from the king, and were commanded to bring him to the king, he yielded willingly. So when afflictions arrest us, we shall murmur and grumble, and struggle, and strive even to the death, before we shall yield to that God that strikes, until we come to see his majesty and authority, until we come to see him as the king of kings, and Lord of lords, Isaiah 26:11, 12. It is such a sight of God as this, that makes the heart to stoop under his almighty hand, Rev. 1:5. The Thracians being ignorant of the dignity and majesty of God; when it thundered and lightened, used to express their madness and folly in shooting their arrows against heaven! As a sight of his grace cheers the soul, so a sight of his greatness and glory silences the soul.

Thirdly, A gracious, a prudent silence, takes in a holy quietness and calmness of mind and spirit, under the afflicting hand of God. A gracious silence shuts out all inward heats, murmurings, frettings, quarrelings, wranglings, and boilings of heart—Psalm 62:1, ‘Truly my soul keeps silence unto God, or is silent or still;’ that is, my soul is quiet and submissive to God; all murmurings and repinings, passions and turbulent affections, being allayed, tamed, and subdued. This also is clear in the text; and in the former instances of Aaron, Eli, and Job. They saw that it was a Father that put those bitter cups in their hands, and love that laid those heavy crosses upon their shoulders, and grace that put those yokes about their necks; and this caused much quietness and calmness in their spirits.

Marius bit in his pain when the surgeon cut off his leg. Some men, when God cuts off this mercy and that mercy from them, they bite in their pain—they hide and conceal their grief and trouble; but could you but look into their hearts, you will find all in an uproar, all out of order, all in a flame; and however they may seem to be cold without, yet they are all in a hot burning fever within. Such a feverish fit David was once in, Psalm 39:3. But certainly a holy silence allays all tumults in the mind, and makes a man ‘in patience to possess his own soul,’ which, next to his possession of God, is the choicest and sweetest possession in all the world, Luke 21:19.

The law of silence is as well upon that man’s heart and mind as it is upon his tongue, who is truly and divinely silent under the rebuking hand of God. As tongue-service abstracted from heart-service, is no service in the account of God; so tongue-silence abstracted from heart-silence, is no silence in the esteem of God. A man is then graciously silent when all is quiet within and without, Isa 29:13, Mat. 15:8, 9.

Terpander, a harpist and a poet, was one that, by the sweetness of his verse and music, could allay the tumultuous motions of men’s minds, as David by his harp did Saul’s. When God’s people are under the rod, he makes by his Spirit and word such sweet music in their souls as allays all tumultuous motions, passions, and perturbations, Psalm 94:17-19, Psalm 119:49, 50, so that they sit, Noah-like, quiet and still; and in peace possess their own souls.

Fourthly, A prudent, a holy silence, takes in an humble, justifying, clearing and acquitting of God of all blame, rigor and injustice, in all the afflictions he brings upon us; Psalm 51:4, ‘That you may be justified when you speak, and be clear when you judge,’ that is, when you correct. God’s judging his people is God’s correcting or chastening of his people—1 Cor. 11:32, ‘When we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord.’ David’s great care, when he was under the afflicting hand of God, was to clear the Lord of injustice. ‘Ah! Lord, says he, there is not the least show, spot, stain, blemish, or mixture of injustice, in all the afflictions you have brought upon me; I desire to take shame to myself, and to set to my seal, that the Lord is righteous, and that there is no injustice, no cruelty, nor no extremity in all that the Lord has brought upon me.’ And so in that Psalm 119:75, 137, he sweetly and readily subscribes unto the righteousness of God in those sharp and smart afflictions which God exercised him with. ‘I know, O Lord, that your judgments are right, and that you in faithfulness have afflicted me. Righteous are you, O Lord, and righteous are your judgments.’

God’s afflictions are always just; he never afflicts but in faithfulness. His will is the rule of justice; and therefore a gracious soul dares not cavil nor question his proceedings. The afflicted soul knows that a righteous God can do nothing but that which is righteous; it knows that God is uncontrollable, and therefore the afflicted man puts his mouth in the dust, and keeps silence before him. Who dare say, ‘Why have You done so?’ 2 Sam. 16:10.

The Turks, when they are cruelly lashed, are compelled to return to the judge who commanded it, to kiss his hand, give him thanks, and pay the officer who whipped them—and so clear the judge and officer of injustice. Silently to kiss the rod, and the hand that whips with it—is the noblest way of clearing the Lord of all injustice.

The Babylonish captivity was the sorest, the heaviest affliction that ever God inflicted upon any people under heaven; witness that 1 Sam. 12:and Dan. 9:12, etc. Yet under those great afflictions, wisdom is justified of her children—Neh. 9:33, ‘You are just in all that is brought upon us, for you have done right—but we have done wickedly!’ Lam. 1:18, ‘The Lord is righteous, for I have rebelled against him.’ A holy silence shines in nothing more than in an humble justifying and clearing of God from all that which a corrupt heart is apt enough to charge God with, in the day of affliction. God, in that he is good, can give nothing, nor do nothing—but that which is good. “Others do evil frequently; God can never do evil,” says Luther.

Fifthly, A holy silence takes in gracious, blessed, soul-quieting conclusions about the outcome of those afflictions which are upon us. “It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young. Let him sit alone in silence, for the Lord has laid it on him. Let him bury his face in the dust—there may yet be hope. Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him, and let him be filled with disgrace. For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.” Lamentations 3:27-33. In this choice scripture you may observe these FIVE SOUL-STILLING CONCLUSIONS.

(1.) First, and that more generally, That afflictions shall work for their good ver. 27, ‘It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young.’ A gracious soul secretly concludes—as stars shine brightest in the night, so God will make my soul shine and glisten like gold, while I am in this furnace, and when I come out of the furnace of affliction—Job 23:10, ‘He knows the way that I take; and when he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold!’ ‘It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.’ Psalm 119:71.

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

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

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

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

Surely by these afflictions, the Lord will crucify my heart more and more to the world, and the world to my heart, Gal. 6:14; Psalm 131:1-3.

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

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

Affliction is such a potion, as will carry away all soul-diseases, better than all other remedies, Zech. 13:8, 9.

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

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

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

Surely by these afflictions, the Lord will draw out my heart more and more to seek him, Isaiah 36:16. Tatianus told the heathen Greeks, that when they were sick, then they would send for their gods to be with them, as Aganmemnon did at the siege of Troy, send for his ten counselors. Hosea 5:15, ‘In their afflictions they will seek me early,’ or as the Hebrew has it, ‘they will morning me;’ in times of affliction, Christians will industriously, speedily, early seek unto the Lord.

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

Surely by these afflictions the Lord will work in me more tenderness and compassion towards those who are afflicted, Heb. 10:34, 13:3. The Romans punished one that was seen looking out at his window with a crown of roses on his head, in a time of public calamity.

Surely these afflictions are but God’s love-tokens. Rev. 3:19, ‘As many as I love—I rebuke and chasten.’ Seneca persuaded his friend Polybius to bear his affliction quietly, because he was the emperor’s favorite, telling him, that it was not lawful for him to complain while Caesar was his friend. So says the holy Christian—’O my soul! be quiet, be still; all is sent in love, all is a fruit of divine favor. I see honey upon the top of every twig, I see the rod is but a rosemary branch, I have sugar with my gall, and wine with my wormwood; therefore be silent, O my soul!’ And this general conclusion, that all should be for good, had this blessed eject upon the church—Lam. 3:28, ‘He sits alone, and keeps silence, because he has borne it upon him.’

Afflictions abase the carnal attractions of the world, which might entice us. Affliction abates the lustiness of the flesh within, which might else ensnare us! And it abates the spirit in its quarrel against the flesh and the world; by all which it proves a mighty advantage unto us.

(2.) Secondly, Afflictions shall keep them humble and low—Lam. 3:29, ‘He puts his mouth in the dust, if so be there may be hope.’ Some say, that these words are an allusion to the manner of those that, having been conquered and subdued, lay their necks down at the conqueror’s feet to be trampled upon, and so lick up the dust that is under the conqueror’s feet. Others looked upon the words as an allusion to poor petitioners, who cast themselves down at princes’ feet, that they may draw forth their pity and compassion towards them. As I have read of Aristippus, who fell on the ground before Dionysius, and kissed his feet, when he presented a petition to him; and being asked the reason, answered—he has his ears in his feet. Take it which way you will, it holds forth this to us, That holy hearts will be humble under the afflicting hand of God. When God’s rod is upon their backs, their mouths shall be in the dust. A good heart will lie lowest, when the hand of God is lifted highest, Job 13:1-7; Acts 9:1-8.

(3.) Thirdly, The third soul-quieting conclusion you have in Lam. 3:31, ‘For the Lord will not cast off forever;’ the rod shall not always lie upon the back of the righteous. ‘In the evening—sudden terror! Before morning—it is gone!’ Isaiah 17:13. As Athanasius said to his friends, when they came to bewail his misery and banishment—’it is but a little cloud—and it will quickly be gone.’ There are none of God’s afflicted ones, that have not their intermissions and respites; yes, so small a while does the hand of the Lord rest upon his people, that Luther cannot get diminutives enough to extenuate it; for he calls it a very little little cross that we bear—Isaiah 26:20, ‘Come, my people, enter into your chambers, and shut your doors behind you—hide yourself as it were for a little moment (or for a little space, a little while), until the indignation is over-pass.’ The indignation does not pass—but over-pass. The sharpness, shortness, and suddenness of the saints’ afflictions, is set forth by the travail of a woman, John 16:21, which is sharp, short, and sudden.

4.) Fourthly, The fourth soul-silencing conclusion you have in Lamentations 3:32 ‘But though he causes grief, yet will he have compassion, according to the multitude of his mercies.‘ ‘In wrath God remembers mercy,’ Hab. 3:2. ‘Weeping may endure for a night—but joy comes in the morning,’ Psalm 30:5. Their mourning shall last but until morning. God will turn their winter’s night into a summer’s day, their sighing into singing, their grief into gladness, their mourning into music, their bitter into sweet, their wilderness into a paradise. The life of a Christian is filled up with interchanges of sickness and health, weakness and strength, want and wealth, disgrace and honor, crosses and comforts, miseries and mercies, joys and sorrows, mirth and mourning. All honey would harm us; all wormwood would undo us—a composition of both is the best way in the world to keep our souls in a healthy constitution. It is best and most for the health of the soul that the warm south wind of mercy, and the cold north wind of adversity—do both blow upon it. And though every wind that blows, shall blow good to the saints, yet certainly their sins die most, and their graces thrive best, when they are under the frigid, drying, nipping north wind of calamity, as well as under the warm, nourishing south wind of mercy and prosperity.

(5) Fifthly, The fifth soul-quieting conclusion you have in Lament. 3:33, ‘For He does not afflict willingly (or as the Hebrew has it, ‘from his heart’), ‘nor grieve the children of men.’ Christians conclude that God’s heart was not in their afflictions, though his hand was. He takes no delight to afflict his children; it goes against his heart. It is a grief to him to be grievous to them, a pain to him to be punishing of them, a sorrow to him to be striking them. He has no will, no desire, no inclination, no disposition, to that work of afflicting of his people; and therefore he calls it ‘his strange work,’ Isaiah 28:21. Mercy and punishment—they flow from God, as the honey and the sting from the bee. The bee yields honey of her own nature—but she does not sting but when she is provoked. God takes delight in showing of mercy, Micah 7:18; he takes no pleasure in giving his people up to adversity, Hosea 11:8. Mercy and kindness flows from him freely, naturally; he is never severe, never harsh; he never stings, he never terrifies us—but when he is sadly provoked by us. God’s hand sometimes may lie very hard upon his people, when his heart, his affections, at those very times may be yearning towards his people, Jer. 31:18-20.

No man can tell how the heart of God stands—by his hand. God’s hand of mercy may be open to those against whom his heart is set—as you see in the rich poor fool, in the Gospel. And his hand of severity may lie hard upon those on whom he has set his heart—as you may see in Job and Lazarus. And thus you see those gracious, blessed, soul-quieting conclusions about afflictions, that a holy, a prudent silence does include.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Psalms 37:7

Sixthly, A holy, a prudent silence includes and takes in a strict charge, a solemn, command, that conscience lays upon the soul to be quiet and still. Psalm 37:7, ‘Rest in the Lord, (or as the Hebrew has it, ‘be silent to the Lord’), ‘and wait patiently for him.’ I charge you, O my soul—not to mutter, nor to murmur; I command you, O my soul, to be dumb and silent under the afflicting hand of God. As Christ laid a charge, a command, upon the boisterous winds and the roaring raging seas—Mat. 8:26, ‘Be still; and there was a great calm,’—so conscience lays a charge upon the soul to be quiet and still—Psalm 27:14, ‘Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart—wait, I say, on the Lord.’ Peace, O my soul! be still, leave your muttering, leave your murmuring, leave your complaining, leave your chafing, and vexing—and lay your hand upon your mouth, and be silent. Conscience allays and stills all the tumults and uproars that are in the soul, by such like reasonings as the clerk of Ephesus stilled that uproar—Acts 19:40, ‘For we are in danger to be called in question for this day’s uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse.’ O my soul! be quiet, be silent, else you will one day be called in question for all those inward mutterings, uproars, and passions that are in you, seeing no sufficient cause can be produced why you should murmur, quarrel, or wrangle—under the righteous hand of God.

Seventhly, A holy, a prudent silence includes a surrendering, a resigning of ourselves to God, while we are under his afflicting hand. The silent soul gives himself up to God. The secret language of the soul is this—’Lord, here am I; do with me what you please, write upon me as you please—I give up myself to be at your disposal.’

There was a good woman, who, when she was sick, being asked whether she were willing to live or die, answered, ‘Whichever God pleases.’ But, said one that stood by, ‘If God would refer it to you, which would you choose?’ ‘Truly,’ said she, ‘if God would refer it to me, I would even refer it right back to him again.’ This was a soul worth gold.

‘Well,’ says a gracious soul, ‘The ambitious man gives himself up to his honors—but I give up myself unto God. The voluptuous man gives himself up to his pleasures—but I give up myself to God. The covetous man gives himself up to his bags of money—but I give up myself to God. The wanton man gives himself up to his lust—but I give up myself to God. The drunkard gives himself up to his cups—but I give up myself to God. The papist gives up himself to his idols—but I give myself to God. The Turk gives up himself to his Mahomet—but I give up myself to God. The heretic gives up himself to his heretical opinions—but I give up myself to God. Lord! lay what burden you will upon me, only let your everlasting arms be under me!

Lord! lay what burden you will upon me, only let your everlasting arms be under me. Strike, Lord, strike, and spare not, for I am lain down in your will, I have learned to say amen to your amen; you have a greater interest in me than I have in myself, and therefore I give up myself unto you, and am willing to be at your disposal, and am ready to receive whatever impression you shall stamp upon me. O blessed Lord! have you not again and again said unto me, as once the king of Israel said to the king of Syria, ‘I am yours, and all that I have is yours,’ 1 Kings 20:4.

God says, “I am yours, O soul! to save you! My mercy is yours to pardon you! My blood is yours to cleanse you! My merits are yours to justify you! My righteousness is yours to clothe you! My Spirit is yours to lead you! My grace is yours to enrich you! My glory is yours to reward you!” And therefore, says a gracious soul, “I cannot but make a resignation of myself unto you. Lord! here I am, do with me as seems good in your own eyes. I know the best way to have my own will, is to resign up myself to your will, and to say amen to your amen.”

I have read of a gentleman, who, meeting with a shepherd in a misty morning, asked him what weather it would be? ‘It will be,’ says the shepherd, ‘that weather which pleases me.’ And being courteously requested to express his meaning, replied, ‘Sir, it shall be whatever weather pleases God; and whatever weather pleases God—pleases me.’ When a Christian’s will is molded into the will of God, he is sure to have his will. 

Eighthly and lastly, A holy, a prudent silence, takes in a patient waiting upon the Lord under our afflictions until deliverance comes—Psalm 11:1-3; Psalm 62:5, ‘My soul, wait only upon God, for my expectation is from him;’ Lam. 3:26, ‘It is good that a man should both hope, and quietly (or as the Hebrew has it, ‘silently’) wait for the salvation of the Lord.’ The farmer patiently waits for the precious fruits of the earth, the mariner patiently waits for wind and tide, the watchman patiently waits for the dawning of the day; and so does the silent soul in the night of adversity, patiently wait for the dawning of the day of mercy, James 5:7, 8. The mercies of God are not described as being swift—but the sure mercies; and therefore a gracious soul waits patiently for them. And thus you see what a gracious, a prudent silence does include.

Christian, when you are “Smarting” under the Rod. Part One.

Excerpts taken, adapted and condensed from, “Mute Christian under the Smarting Rod” or, “The Silent Soul with Sovereign Antidotes”
Written by, Thomas Brooks, 1659, London.

Sorrow a

“I was silent; I would not open my mouth, for  You are the one who has done this!”
–Psalm 39:9 

“The Lord is in his Holy Temple—let all the earth keep silence before him.”
–Habakkuk 2.20.

To all afflicted and distressed, dissatisfied, disturbed, and agitated Christians throughout the world.

Dear hearts,

The choicest saints are ‘born to troubles as the sparks fly upwards’, Job 5:7. ‘Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivers him out of them all.’ Psalm 34:19. If they were many, and not troubles, then, as it is in the proverb, the more the merrier; or if they were troubles and not many, then the fewer the better. But God, who is infinite in wisdom and matchless in goodness, has ordered troubles, yes, many troubles to come trooping in upon us on every side. As our mercies—so our crosses seldom come single; they usually come treading one upon the heels of another; they are like April showers, no sooner is one over but another comes. And yet, Christians, it is mercy, it is rich mercy, that every affliction is not an execution, that every correction is not a damnation. The higher the waters rise, the nearer Noah’s ark was lifted up to heaven; the more your afflictions are increased, the more your heart shall be raised heavenward.

Luther could not understand some Psalms until he was afflicted; the Christ-cross is no letter in the book, and yet, says he, it has taught one more than all the letters in the book. Afflictions are a golden key by which the Lord opens the rich treasure of his word to his people’s souls; and this in some measure, through grace, my soul has experienced. When Samson had found honey, he gave some to his father and mother to eat, Judges 14:9, 10; some honey I have found in my following text; and therefore I may not, I cannot be such a churl as not to give them some of my honey to taste, who have drunk deep of my gall and wormwood.

Augustine observes on that, Psalms 66:16, ‘Come and hear, all you that fear God, and I will declare what he has done for my soul.’ ‘He does not call them’, says he, ‘to acquaint them with speculations, how wide the earth is, how far the heavens are stretched out, what the number of the stars is, or what is the course of the sun; but come and I will tell you the wonders of his grace, the faithfulness of his promises, the riches of his mercy to my soul’. Gracious experiences are to be communicated. ‘We learn—that we may teach’—is a proverb among the Rabbis. And I do therefore ‘lay in and lay up,’ says the heathen, that I may draw forth again and lay out for the good of many. When God has dealt bountifully with us, others should reap some noble good by us. The family, the town, the city, the country, where a man lives, should fare the better for his faring well. Our mercies and experiences should be as a running spring at our doors, which is not only for our own use—but also for our neighbors’, yes, and for strangers too.

Few men, if any, have iron memories. How soon is a sermon preached forgotten, when a sermon written remains! Augustine writing to Volusian, says, ‘That which is written is always at hand to be read, when the reader is at leisure.’ Men do not easily forget their own names, nor their father’s house, nor the wife of their bosom, nor the fruit of their loins, nor to eat their daily bread; and yet, ah! how easily do they forget that word of grace, that should be dearer to them than all! Most men’s memories, especially in the great concernments of their souls, are like a sieve, where the good grain and fine flour goes through—but the light chaff and coarse bran remain behind; or like a strainer, where the sweet liquor is strained out—but the dregs left behind; or like a grate that lets the pure water run away—but if there be any straws, sticks, mud, or filth, that it holds, as it were, with iron hands. Most men’s memories are very treacherous, especially in good things; few men’s memories are a holy ark, a heavenly storehouse for their souls, and therefore they stand in the more need. But,

Its marvelous suitableness and usefulness under these great turns and changes that have passed upon us. As every wise husbandman observes the fittest seasons to sow his seed—some he sows in the autumn and some in the spring of the year, some in a dry season and some in a wet, some in a moist clay and some in a sandy dry ground, Isaiah 28:25; so every spiritual husbandman must observe the fittest times to sow his spiritual seed in. He has heavenly seed by him for all occasions and seasons, for spring and fall; for all grounds, heads, and hearts. 

The friendship of most men in these days is like Jonah’s gourd, now very promising and flourishing, and quickly fading and withering; it is like some plants in the water, which have broad leaves on the surface of the water—but scarce any root at all; their friendship is like melons, cold within, hot without; their expressions are high—but their affections are low; they speak much—but do little. As drums, and trumpets, and flags in a battle make a great noise and a fine show—but do nothing; so these friends will compliment highly and handsomely, speak plausibly, and promise lustily, and yet have neither a hand nor heart to do anything cordially or faithfully. From such friends it is a mercy to be delivered, and therefore king Antigonus was used to pray to God that he would protect him from his friends; and when one of his council asked him why he prayed so, he returned this answer, Every man will shun and defend himself against his professed enemies—but from our professed or pretended friends, of whom few are faithful, none can safe-guard himself—but has need of protection from heaven.

First, Read and look up for a blessing—‘Paul may plant, and Apollos may water,’ but all will be to no purpose, except ‘the Lord gives the increase,’ 1 Cor. 3:6, 7. God must do the deed, when all is done, or else all that is done will do you no good. If you would have this work successful and effectual, you must look off from man—and look up to God, who alone can make it a blessing to you. As without a blessing from heaven, your clothes cannot warm you, nor your food nourish you, nor medicine cure you, nor friends comfort you, Micah 6:14; so without a blessing from heaven, without the precious breathings and influences of the Spirit, what here is written will do you no good, it will not turn to your account in the day of Christ; therefore cast an eye heavenwards, Haggai 1:6.

It is Seneca’s observation, that the husbandmen in Egypt never look up to heaven for rain in the time of drought—but look after the overflowing of the banks of Nile, as the only cause of their plenty. Ah, how many are there in these days, who, when they go to read a book, never look up, never look after the rain of God’s blessing—but only look to the river Nile; they only look to the wit, the learning, the arts, the parts, the eloquence, etc., of the author, they never look so high as heaven; and hence it comes to pass, that though these read much, yet they profit little.

He who would read to profit must read and meditate. Meditation is the food of your souls, it is the very stomach and natural heat whereby spiritual truths are digested. A man shall as soon live without his heart, as he shall be able to get good by what he reads, without meditation. Prayer, says Bernard, without meditation, is dry and formal; and reading without meditation is useless and unprofitable. He who would be a wise, a prudent, and an able experienced statesman, must not hastily ramble and run over many cities, countries, customs, laws, and manners of people, without serious musing and pondering upon such things as may make him an expert statesman; so he who would get good by reading, that would complete his knowledge, and perfect his experience in spiritual things, must not slightly and hastily ramble and run over this book or that—but ponder upon what he reads, as Mary pondered the saying of the angel in her heart.

Lord! says Augustine, the more I meditate on you, the sweeter you are to me; so the more you shall meditate on the following matter, the sweeter it will be to you. They usually thrive best who meditate most. Meditation is a soul-fattening duty; it is a grace-strengthening duty, it is a duty-crowning duty. Meditation is the nurse of prayer. Jerome calls it his paradise; Basil calls it the treasury where all the graces are locked up; Theophylact calls it the very gate and portal by which we enter into glory; and Aristotle, though a heathen, places felicity in the contemplation of the mind. You may read much and hear much—yet without meditation you will never be excellent, you still never be eminent Christians.

Read, and test what you read; take nothing upon trust—but all upon trial, as those ‘noble Bereans’ did, Acts 17:to, 11. You will try and count and weigh gold, though it be handed to you by your fathers; and so should you all those heavenly truths that are handed to you by your spiritual fathers. I hope upon trial you will find nothing—but what will hold weight in the balance of the sanctuary; and though all be not gold that glitters, yet I judge that you will find nothing here to blister, that will not be found upon trial to be true gold.

Read and do, read and practice what you read, or else all your reading will do you no good. He who has a good book in his hand—but not a lesson of it in his heart or life, is like that donkey that carries burdens, and feeds upon thistles. In divine account, a man knows no more than be does. Profession without practice will but make a man twice told a child of darkness. To speak well is to sound like a cymbal—but to do well is to act like an angel [Isidore]. He who practices what he reads and understands, God will help him to understand what he understands not. There is no fear of knowing too much, though there is much fear in practicing too little; the most doing man, shall be the most knowing man; the mightiest man in practice, will in the end prove the mightiest man in Scripture, John 7:16, 17, Psalm 119:98-100. Theory is the guide of practice, and practice is the life of theory.

Salvian relates how the heathen did reproach some Christians, who by their lewd lives made the gospel of Christ to be a reproach. ‘Where,’ said they, ‘is that good law which they believe? Where are those rules of godliness which they learn? They read the holy gospel, and yet are unclean; they read the apostles’ writings, and yet live in drunkenness; they follow Christ, and yet disobey Christ; they profess a holy law, and yet lead impure lives.’ Ah! how may many preachers take up sad complaints against many readers in these days! They read our works, and yet in their lives they deny our works; they praise our works, and yet in their lives they reproach our works; they cry up our labors in their discourses, and yet they cry them down in their practices—yet I hope better things of you into whose hands this treatise shall fall. The Samaritan woman did not fill her pitcher with water, that she might talk of it—but that she might use it, John 4:7; and Rachel did not desire the mandrakes to hold in her hand—but that she might thereby be the more apt to bring forth, Gen. 30:15.

The application is easy. But, read and apply. Reading is but the drawing of the bow, application is the hitting of the bulls-eye. The choicest truths will no further profit you than they are applied by you. It would be as good not to read, as not to apply what you read. No man attains to health by reading books on health—but by the practical application of their remedies. All the reading in the world will never make for the health of your souls—except you apply what you read. The true reason why many read so much and profit so little—is because they do not apply and bring home what they read to their own souls.

Read and pray. He who makes not conscience of praying over what he reads, will find little sweetness or profit in his reading. No man makes such earnings of his reading, as he who prays over what he reads. Luther professes that he profited more in the knowledge of the Scriptures by prayer, in a short space, than by study in a longer. As John by weeping got the sealed book open, so certainly men would gain much more than they do by reading good men’s works, if they would but pray more over what they read! Ah, Christians! pray before you read, and pray after you read, that all may be blessed and sanctified to you; when you have done reading, usually close up thus—So let me live, so let me die, that I may live eternally. 

And when you are in the mount for yourselves, bear him upon your hearts, who is willing to ‘spend and be spend’ for your sakes, for your souls, 2 Cor. 12:15. Oh! pray for me, that I may more and more be under the rich influences and glorious pourings out of the Spirit; that I may ‘be an able minister of the New Testament—not of the letter—but of the Spirit,’ 2 Cor. 3:6; that I may always find an everlasting spring and an overflowing fountain within me, which may always make me faithful, constant, and abundant in the work of the Lord; and that I may live daily under those inward teachings of the Spirit, which may enable me to speak from the heart to the heart, from the conscience to the conscience, and from experience to experience; that I may be a ‘burning and a shining light,’ that everlasting arms may be still under me; that while I live, I may be serviceable to his glory and his people’s good; that no discouragements may discourage one in my work; and that when my work is done, I may give up my account with joy and not with grief. I shall follow these poor labors with my weak prayers, that they may contribute much to your internal and eternal welfare.

Your soul’s servant in our dearest Lord,

Thomas Brooks.

The Christian’s Rest

Taken from, “The Saint’s Everlasting Rest”
Written by Richard Baxter,

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“There remaineth therefore a rest unto the people of God.”

–Hebrews 4:9.

IT was not only our interest in God, and actual enjoyment of him…

…which was lost in Adam’s fall, but all spiritual knowledge of him, and true disposition towards such a felicity. When the Son of God comes with recovering grace, and discoveries of a spiritual and eternal happiness and glory, he finds not faith in man to believe it. As the poor man, that would not believe any one had such a sum as a hundred pounds, it was so far above what he himself possessed, so men will hardly now believe there is such a happiness as once they had, much less as Christ hath now procured. When God would give the Israelites his Sabbaths of rest, in a land of rest, it was harder to make them believe it, than to overcome their enemies, and procure it for them. And when they had it, only as a small intimation and earnest of an incomparably more glorious rest through Christ, they yet believe no more than they possess, but say, with the epicure at the feast, Sure there is no other heaven but this! or, if they expect more by the Messiah, it is only the increase of their earthly felicity. The apostle aims most of this Epistle against this obduracy, and dearly and largely proves that the end of all ceremonies and shadows is to direct them to Jesus Christ, the substance; and that the rest of Sabbaths, and Canaan, should teach them to look for a further rest, which indeed is their happiness. My text is his conclusion after divers arguments; a conclusion which contains the ground of all the believer’s comfort, the end of all his duty and sufferings, the life and sum of all gospel promises and Christian privileges.

What more welcome to men under personal afflictions, tiring duties, disappointments, or sufferings, than rest? It is not our comfort only, but our stability. Our liveliness in all duties, our enduring of tribulation, our honoring of God, the vigor of our love, thankfulness, and all our graces; yea, the very being of our religion and Christianity depend on the believing, serious thoughts of our rest. And now, reader, whoever thou art, young or old, rich or poor, I entreat thee, and charge thee, in the name of thy Lord, who will shortly call thee to a reckoning, and judge thee to thy everlasting, unchangeable state, that thou give not these things the reading only, and so dismiss them with a bare approbation; but that thou set upon this work, and take God in Christ for thy only rest, and fix thy heart upon him above all. May the living God, who is the portion and rest of his saints, make these our carnal minds so spiritual, and our earthly hearts so heavenly that loving him, and delighting in him, may be the work of our lives; and that neither I that write, nor you that read this book, may ever be turned from this path of life; “lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest,” we should “come short of it,” through our own unbelief or negligence.

The saints’ rest is the most happy state of a Christian; or, it is the perfect endless enjoyment of God by the perfected saints, according to the measure of their capacity, to which their souls arrive at death, and both soul and body most fully after the resurrection and final judgment.

There are some things necessarily presupposed in the nature of this rest: as, that mortal men are the persons seeking it. For angels and glorified spirits have it already, and the devils and damned are past hope:

That they [God’s chosen children] choose God only for their end and happiness. He that takes any thing else for his happiness is out of the way the first step:

That they are distant from this end. This is the woeful case of all mankind since the fall. When Christ comes with regenerating grace, he finds no man sitting still, but all posting to eternal ruin, and making haste toward hell; till, by conviction, he first brings them to a stand, and then, by conversion, turns their hearts and lives sincerely to himself. This end, and its excellency, is supposed to be known, and seriously intended. An unknown good moves not to desire or endeavor. And not only a distance from this rest, but the true knowledge of this distance, is also supposed. They that never yet knew they were without God, and in the way to hell, never yet knew the way to heaven. Can a man find he hath lost his God and his soul, and not cry, I am undone? The reason why so few obtain this rest, is, they will not be convinced that they are, in point of title, distant from it and, in point of practice, Contrary to it. Who ever sought for that which he knew not he had lost’? “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick:”

The influence of a superior moving Cause is also supposed; else we shall all stand still, and not move toward our rest. If God move us not, we cannot move.

It is a most necessary part of our Christian wisdom, to keep our subordination to God, and dependence on him. “We are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God.” “Without me,” says Christ, “ye can do nothing.”

It is next supposed, that they who seek this rest have an inward principle of spiritual life. God does not move men like stones, but he endows them with life, not to enable them to move without him, but in subordination to himself, the first mover.

And further, this rest supposes such an actual tendency of soul toward it as is regular and constant, earnest and laborious. He that hides his talent shall receive the wages of a slothful servant. Christ is the door, the only way to this rest. “But strait is the gate and narrow is the way;” and we must strive, if we will enter; for “many will seek to enter in, and shall not be able; which implies, “that the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence.” Nor will it bring us to the end of the saints, if we begin in the spirit and end in the flesh. He only “that endureth to the end shall be saved.” And never did a soul obtain rest with God whose desire was not set upon him above all things else in the world. “Where your treasure is, there will your heart he also.” The remainder of our old nature will much weaken and interrupt these desires, but never overcome them. And, considering the opposition to our desires, from the contrary principles in our nature, and from the weakness of our graces, together with our continued distance from the end, our tendency to that end must be laborious, and with all our might. All these things are pre-supposed, in order to a Christian’s obtaining an interest in heavenly rest.

Now we have ascended these steps into the outward court, may we look within the veil? May we show what this rest contains, as well as what it pre-supposes? Alas! how little know of that glory! The glimpse which Paul had, contained what could not, or must not, be uttered. Had he spoken the things of heaven in the language of heaven, and none understood that language, what the better? The Lord reveal to me what I may reveal to you! The Lord open some light, and show both you and me our inheritance! Not as to Balaam only, whose eyes were opened to see the goodliness of Jacob’s tents, and Israel’s tabernacles, where he had no portion, and from whence must come his own destruction; not as to Moses, who had only a discovery instead of possession, and saw the land which he never entered; but as the pearl was revealed to the merchant in the Gospel, who rested not till he had sold all he had, and bought it; and as heaven was opened to blessed Stephen, which he was shortly to enter, and the glory showed him which should be his own possession.

If men and angels should study to speak the blessedness of that state in one word, what could they say beyond this, that it is the nearest enjoyment of God?

O the full joys offered to a believer in that one sentence of Christ, “Father, I will that they whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me!” Every word is full of life and joy. If the queen of Sheba had cause to say of Solomon’s glory, “Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, who stand continually before thee, and hear thy wisdom;” then, surely, they that stand continually before God, and see his glory, and the glory of the Lamb, are more than happy. To them will Christ give to eat of the tree of life, and to eat of the hidden manna; yea, he will make them pillars in the temple of God, and they shall go no more out; and he will write upon them the name of his God, and the name of the city of his God, which is New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from his God, and he will write upon them his new name; yea, more, if more may be, he will grant them to sit with him in his throne. “These are they who came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb; therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple, and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. The Lamb, which is in the midst of the throne, shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of water and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” O blind, deceived world! can you show us such a glory? This is the city of our God, where the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them and be their God. The glory of God shall lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And there shall be no more curse; but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him, and they shall see his face, and his name shall be in their foreheads. These sayings are faithful and true, and the things which must shortly be done.

And now we say, as Mephibosheth, let the world take all, forasmuch as our Lord will come in peace. Rejoice, therefore, in the Lord, O ye righteous! and say, with his servant David, “The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance: the lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage. 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 fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” What presumption would it have been, once, to have thought or spoken of such a thing, if God had not spoken it before us! I durst not have thought of the saints’ preferment in this life, as Scripture sets it forth, had it not been the express truth of God. How unbecoming to talk of being sons of God — speaking to him — having fellowship with him — dwelling in him and he in us — if this had not been God’s own language! How much less durst we have once thought of shining forth as the sun — of being joint heirs with Christ — of judging the world — of sitting on Christ’s throne — of being one in him and the Father — if we had not all this from the mouth, and under the hand of God! But hath he said, and shall he not do it? Hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? — Yes, as the Lord God is true, thus shall it be done to the man whom Christ delighteth to honor.

Be of good cheer, Christian; the time is at hand when God and thou shalt be near, and as near as thou canst well desire. Thou shalt dwell in his family. Is that enough?

It is better to be a door-keeper in the house of God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. Thou shalt ever stand before him, about his throne, in the room with him, in his presence-chamber. Wouldst thou yet be nearer? Thou shalt be his child, and he thy Father; thou shalt be an heir of his kingdom; yea, more, the spouse of his Son. And what more canst thou desire? Thou shalt be a member of the body of his Son; he shall be thy head; thou shalt be one with him, who is one with the Father, as he himself hath desired for thee of his Father: “that they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; and the glory which thou gavest me, I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me.”

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Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: Richard Baxter (1615 – 1691) was an English Puritan church leader, poet, hymn-writer, theologian, and controversialist. Dean Stanley called him “the chief of English Protestant Schoolmen”. After some false starts, he made his reputation by his ministry at Kidderminster, and at around the same time began a long and prolific career as theological writer. After the Restoration he refused preferment, while retaining a non-separatist Presbyterian approach, and became one of the most influential leaders of the Nonconformists, spending time in prison.

Baxter also found himself as a peacemaker during the English Civil Wars. He believed in monarchy, but a limited one. He served as a chaplain for the parliamentary army, but then helped to bring about the restoration of the king. Yet as a moderate, Baxter found himself the target of both extremes. He was still irritated with the episcopacy in 1660, when he was offered the bishopric of Hereford, so he declined it. As a result, he was barred from ecclesiastical office and not permitted to return to Kidderminster, nor was he allowed to preach. Between 1662 and 1688 (when James II was overthrown), he was persecuted and was imprisoned for 18 months, and he was forced to sell two extensive libraries. Still, he continued to preach: “I preached as never sure to preach again,” he wrote, “and as a dying man to dying men.”
Baxter became even better known for his prolific writing. His devotional classic The Saints’ Everlasting Rest was one of the most widely read books of the century. When asked what deviations should be permitted from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, he created an entirely new one, called Reformed Liturgy, in two weeks. His Christian Directory contains over one million words. His autobiography and his pastoral guide, The Reformed Pastor, are still widely read today.

What is a Christian?

Excerpts taken and adapted from , “What is the Christian?”
Written by, David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981).

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The man who is not a Christian is a man who is…

…dead in trespasses and sins. He is being led about according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience. His conversation is in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; he is under the wrath of God by nature. That is the non-Christian.

What is the Christian?

He is the exact opposite of that—quickened, alive, raised, seated in the heavenlies, entirely different, the complete contrast. The “but” brings out everywhere this aspect of contrast. Obviously, we cannot truly understand our position as Christians unless we realize that it is a complete contrast to what we once were. You see how important it is in interpreting the Scripture to take everything in its context. We must be clear about our state in sin because, if we are not, we shall never be clear about our state in grace and in salvation.

If that is the truth about us as Christians now, two main matters must occupy our attention. The first is, “How has all this happened to us? How has this come to be true of me as a Christian?” The Apostle answers the question: it is “together with Christ.”

Do you notice his constantly repeated emphasis? “When we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Here we are undoubtedly face-to-face with one of the greatest and most marvelous of all the Christian doctrines, one of the most glorious beyond any question at all. It is the whole teaching of the Scripture with regard to our union with Christ. It is a teaching that you find in many places. I would refer you to the fifth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, which is in many ways the most extended statement of the doctrine to be found anywhere. But it is to be found in exactly the same way in the sixth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. It is likewise found in 1 Corinthians 15, the great chapter that is read so often at funeral services; but it is seen equally clearly in 2 Corinthians, chapter 5. Similarly it is the teaching found in those beautiful words at the end of the second chapter of the Epistle to the Galatians: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20). This is the most wonderful and the most amazing thing of all, and to me it is always a matter of great surprise that this blessed doctrine should receive so little attention!

For some reason or other, Christian people seem to be afraid of it… Yet according to this teaching in Ephesians 2 and elsewhere, you are not Christians at all unless you are joined to Christ and “in Him”…

The Imbecility of Grace

Excerpt taken from, “The Art of Patience and the Balm of Gilead under all Afflictions.”
Written by, Richard Alstree, Royalist, 1654.
Completely rewritten for thought and substance into modern English by Michael Pursley

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You complain of the imbecility of Grace. You feel some little motion of God’s Spirit; but it is so small, so insignificant, that you cannot find any solid comfort in it.  You see others (so you say) whose breasts are full of spiritual milk, and whose bones are completely moistened with spiritual marrow, Job 21:24, while you are languishing under spiritual leanness, discomfort, and insensibility. You are suffering these feelings, you say, while you are yearning for that vigorous heat of holy affections, and that alacrity of the spirit in the performance of those holy duties which you observe so prominently in other Christians.

I like your complaint, and I will plainly tell you that without this, you couldn’t possibly be on the way to happiness.

Do you think that those who you esteem so highly in grace don’t also make the same groan in the Spirit that you do? Only those who have never tasted grace, would not make the complaint that they had too little. Every true Christian is sensitive to his own weaknesses; he feels his own spiritual shortcomings, and he tends to censure himself for his own apparent unworthiness when others applaud him.  Even the man after God’s own heart can say, “but I am poor and sorrowful, Psalms 69:29. David was a great king when he said this, and it wasn’t because he was suffering and was impoverished as a king that bothered him; but his spiritual neediness. You see, just before in the same beautiful psalm, David had confessed his heart; “O God, Thou knowest my foolishness, and my sins are not hid from Thee.” Psalm 60:5.

It was the observation of wise Solomon; “There is one that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing; there is one that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.” Proverbs 13:7. In the latter half of this verse, there are many pious souls, and yours (I hope) who have never been so rich in grace; but surely, even in this sense the saint may say with the apostle Paul, when I am weak, then I am strong.  I say this because often the complaint of weakness argues strength.  On the other hand, if a person feels that they have sufficient grace, and need nothing, it is usually evident, that their conviction is a sign of their true emptiness.

But suppose that you are as poor as you believe you are; think about this, it is not what we have, as it is about how we improve upon what we do have that counts.  How many people have you known that have become rich even though they started with very little? And, how many people have you know that have started off with great wealth, and ended up with nothing?

Think about the servant in the Gospel with the one Talent. He employed it to the gain of the second, and he was, as expected, proportionately rewarded.  But so too was the one that Master gave five talents; he also was proportionately rewarded with ten talents.  In our temporal estate we are warned by wise Solomon to take heed that, “he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished.” Proverbs 28:20.  And the Apostle also tells us that, “But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.” 1Tim. 6:9.  Surely, is there also not a small danger in accumulating too many  of the endowments of the soul, too quickly? For, if you were to obtain these endowments before you were ready, would you also be led into the temptation of unthankful distrust? Why? Because the real Christian, the true Christian, will believe and place his trust in God to give his gifts on his timetable, and for his glory. Realize this, God will not make unwise haste to give his blessings just because we are over-eagerly reaching for that which we do not have.

Now tell me, you spiritual complainer, do you not acknowledge that you have received God’s gift of eternal life? If you have received all of this, can’t you allow the Benefactor of Heaven, to dispense his favors as it pleases him? So what you are telling me is that you are discontented because God thinks best to fill your vessel with only “drops of grace,” while he is pouring whole bottle of grace on somebody else?  Listen, if you enjoy any grace, it is because of his bounty. Further, you can’t pay for any of it, for God’s grace cost far more than you could ever pay.

So take what you can, and let me encourage you to wait with a thankful spirit for the rest.  For isn’t it the privilege of the donor to give the free gift at his convenience?  What sturdy beggars we are, not to stay at the door until we are served; and grudge our portion when it comes.  Look at Abraham and you will find him eighty-six years old, and still childless; –and then he got Ishmael, –and then he had to wait fourteen years to receive Isaac, the Promised Seed. Even then, just when Abraham was really enjoying having his son, he finds out that he must sacrifice him back to God the giver. So too, must our faith be exercised for a time. But even then, the exercise of our faith, will be made with the measure of mercy.

Ok, so you are weaker in grace than you want to be; that is not reason to be upset. Don’t you know that there are all ages and statures of spiritual maturity throughout the body of Christ? Now if there was a set standard, or a measure of grace we had to reach, I could see why some might be upset and deeply troubled. But look at what Jesus said, “suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14.

Now to be sure, in some legal aspects, it did please God to regard time and space. For an instance, the lamb for the passover, and for the peace offering, Leviticus 3:7, and the bullock for the Sin Offering of Israel, Leviticus 4:14. In each of these cases the sacrifice had the acceptable age for sacrifice assigned. In other cases, calls for two turtle doves, or two young pigeons to be sacrificed. Leviticus 1:14, 5:7,11, and 12:8 and also 15:14. Interestingly, according to ancient Jewish writings, Old Pigeons and young doves were unlawful to be offered as a sacrifice. But in that Spiritual Sacrifice made for us, once for all, he that is Eternal regards not age nor time.

What really perplexes you is that you think that you have made slow progress in the Graces.  Your desires are directed heavenward, and you are upset with yourself because you are not seeing a lot of movement. You have a happy ambition and its going to take you to heaven. So pull yourself up out of your despondency and remind yourself with a good pep-talk that God has led you this far, and he will lead you home. Just understand, you are not going to reach perfection while you are here, for the bible doesn’t give way to haste.  How many have we known in this journey of life, who by way of their aggressiveness, got lost on their spiritual journey, they lost their footing?  But I am glad, that it is the desire of your soul to “run the way of God’s commandments.” Psalms 119:32.  And I would encourage your zeal to purify yourself to run the Holy Race of life. Make sure that you are always praying that you run with the grace that you are given. Run in such a way that you may win. 1 Corinthians 9:24.

 

Adventist Involvement With Nazi Germany, Part 3: The Not Very Apologetic Apology…

Church Leaders Say “We’re Sorry”
German and Austrian churches apologize for Holocaust actions
BY MARK A. KELLNER, assistant director for news and information of the General Conference Communication Departmentoting the sixtieth anniversary of the end of World War II, Seventh-day Adventist church leaders in Germany and Austria have released a declaration saying they “deeply regret” any participation in or support of Nazi activities during the war. The church bodies “honestly confess” a failure “in following our Lord” by not protecting Jews, and others, from that era’s genocide, widely known as the Holocaust. Millions of people perished from war atrocities, including more than 6 million Jews who were exterminated in Nazi persecutions during the 12-year period of 1933 to 1945.The declaration was initially published in the May 2005 issue of AdventEcho, a monthly German-language church magazine, and also will appear in other German publications, said Günther Machel, president of the South German Union Conference and one of three signatories to the statement.

A copy of the statement has been provided to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority in Israel, added Rolf Pöhler, a former North German church area president who is now that region’s theological advisor and was involved with the drafting of the declaration.

“We deeply regret that the character of National Socialist dictatorship had not been realized in time and distinctly enough, and the ungodly nature of [Nazi] ideology had not clearly been identified,” the statement, as translated from German, reads. The church says it also regrets “that in some of our publications . . . there were found articles glorifying Adolf Hitler and agreeing with the ideology of anti-Semitism in a way that is unbelievable from today’s [perspective].”

Church leaders also expressed regret that “our peoples became associated with racial fanaticism destroying the lives and freedom of 6 million Jews and representatives of minorities in all of Europe” and “that many Seventh-day Adventists did not share the need and suffering of their Jewish fellow-citizens.”

A paramount regret, the statement indicated, was that German and Austrian Adventist congregations “excluded, separated and left [church members who were] . . . of Jewish origin to themselves so that they were delivered to imprisonment, exile or death.”

Under various racial decrees, some Adventist congregations expelled members of Jewish heritage. One, Max-Israel Munk, was placed in two concentration camps by the Nazis and survived and returned to his church after the war. He said he did not wish to act toward his congregation in the way in which he had been treated, according to Daniel Heinz, a church archivist at Friedensau Adventist University who has studied Adventist activities during the National Socialist era.

Along with Machel, the other leaders who signed the statement were Klaus-Juergen van Treeck, North German Union Conference president, and Herbert Brugger, president of the Adventist Church in Austria. Pöhler and Johannes Hartlapp, church historian at Friedensau, drafted the statement on which the declaration is based. All three church geographic areas voted to approve the text, Pöhler said.

In the statement, the three assert that the “obedience we owe to the state authorities does not lead to giving up biblical convictions and values.” They said that while only God can judge the actions of prior generations, “in our day, however, we want to take a decided stand for right and justice-towards all people.”

Brugger, in a telephone interview, said, “Our church members really appreciated the publishing of this document.” No indication of a reaction from Austria’s Jewish community has been received, but Brugger said the Adventist Church is not as well known in Austria as some other movements are.

Asked how a church that considers keeping the Sabbath as one of its core beliefs could forsake Jewish Sabbath-keepers during a time of persecution, Brugger suggested that it was political, not theological, considerations that may have led to the strategy.

During World War I a portion of the German Adventist church had split off, opposing any military service. This led the National Socialists in 1936 to ban the so-called “Reform Movement” during their time in power. Brugger said concern over a Nazi closure of the main Adventist churches may have weighed on leaders in that era.

“I think during these times the official leaders of our church were afraid of losing the control over the church and losing the church because the political authorities had already . . . [confused] our church with the Reform movement,” he explained. “I think our leaders were afraid to lose the official recognition of our church, so therefore maybe they were not [as faithful] to our beliefs as would have been necessary.”

The main Seventh-day Adventist church in Germany was also briefly banned under the Nazis, notes Pöhler. A quick reversal by the regime led to relief among Adventists but also to a level of cooperation with the government that was unhealthy.

“We not only kept silent, but we also published things we never should have published. We published anti-Semitic ideas that, from our perspective, weren’t really needed,” Pöhler said in a telephone interview.

“We had to realize that one wrong statement, one wrong move by a person meant he could end up in a concentration camp,” Pöhler said of that era. “[That was the] reason why we excluded and disfellowshipped Jewish-born Adventists from our midst: If a local church had not done this, [the Nazis] would have closed the church, taken the elder to prison, and it would have meant the whole church would be forbidden.”

While some European Adventists took courageous stands to protect Jews, others went along in part because of concern for their families and churches. It would be difficult enough for an individual to reach out to a Jewish person, Pöhler explained, but to risk the lives of those in a congregation was an added burden. Such caution was even reflected in the nomenclature used by German Adventists, he said.

Daniel Heinz, director of church archives at the Adventist university in Friedensau, Germany, said his research into the stories of Adventists who helped Jews during the war led to his discovery of those who acted less honorably.
Resistance to Nazi policies, as well as the compassionate yet brave response of many Christians, among them Seventh-day Adventists, to protect lives of those under Nazi persecution, have been documented throughout Europe, including Poland, Hungary, Holland, and Denmark.

“I found some very impressive stories of Adventists who helped Jews in the Third Reich, risking their lives, and I found the opposite,” Heinz said. Among other church members, one Latvian Adventist family took in a Jewish man, hid him during the war, and survived. The refugee became an Adventist believer and church pastor after the war ended.
According to Machel, “Sixty years after World War II is late-but we saw it as the last chance for a declaration.”

Young adult church members reacted positively to the statement’s expressions of concern and contrition.

“To humbly reveal our sins and failures is the most important thing God wants us to do,” said Sara Gehler, 25. “And even though 60 years have already passed, I think it was necessary for us as [the Seventh-day Adventist] Church to take a stand on the Second World War.” She added, “It is our duty as Christians to protect and help those who are weak, helpless, and in need.”

Said John Graz, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty director for the Adventist world headquarters, “For those who believe in God’s love for every member of the human family, against any kind of discrimination based on race, religion, or gender, this declaration written by a generation which had no responsibility in the Holocaust and the war, but endorse the responsibility of their parents, will stand as a positive landmark and great encouragement.”



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