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THE COURSE OF THE WICKED

IT is quite certain that there are immense benefits attending our present mode of burial in extra mural cemeteries. It was high time that the dead should be removed from the midst of the living — that we should not worship in the midst of corpses, and sit in the Lord’s house on the Sabbath, breathing the noxious effluvia of decaying bodies. But when we have said this, we must remember that there are some advantages which we have lost by the removal of the dead, and more especially by the wholesale mode of burial which now seems very likely to become general. We are not so often met by the array of dead. In the midst of our crowded cities we sometimes see the sable hearse bearing the relics of men to their last homes, but the funeral ceremonies are now mostly confined to those sweet sleeping places beyond our walks, where rest the bodies of those who are very dear to us.

Now, I believe the sight of a funeral is a very healthful thing for the soul. Whatever harm may come to the body by walking through the vault and the catacomb, the soul can there find much food for contemplation, and much excitement for thought. In the great villages, where some of us were wont to dwell, we remember how, when the funeral came. Now and then, the tolling of the bell preached to all the villagers a better sermon than they had heard in the church for many a day; and we recollect how, as children, we used to cluster around the grave, and look at that which was not so frequent an occurrence in the midst of a rare and spare population; and we remember the solemn thoughts which used to arise even in our young hearts when we heard the words uttered, “Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” The solemn falling of the few grains of ashes upon the coffin-lid was the sowing of good seed in our hearts. And afterwards, when we have in our childish play climbed over those nettle-bound graves, and seated ourselves upon those moss-grown tombstones, we have had many a lesson preached to us by the dull, cold tongue of death, more eloquent than aught we have heard from the lip of living man, and more likely to abide with us in after years; but now we see little of death. We have fulfilled Abraham’s wish beyond what he desired — we “bury the dead out of our sight;” it is rarely that we see them, and a stranger passing through our streets might say, “Do these live always? For I see no funerals amongst the millions of this city; I see no signs of death.”

Shall we just take the wicked man’s arm and walk with him to the house of God? When he begins to go, if he be one who has neglected going in his childhood, which perhaps is not extremely likely; when he begins to go even in his childhood, or whenever you choose to mention, you will notice that he is not often affected by the sound of the ministry. He goes up to the chapel with flippancy and mirth. He goeth to it as he would to a theater or any other place of amusement, as a means of passing away his Sabbath and killing time. Merrily he trippeth in there; but I have seen the wicked man when he went away look far differently from what he did when he entered.

His plumes had been trailed in the dust. As he walks home there is no more flippancy and lightness, for he says, “Surely the Lord God has been in that place and I have been compelled to tremble. I went to scoff, but I was obliged, in coming away, to confess that there is a power in religion, and the services of God’s house are not all dullness after all.” Perhaps you have hoped good of this man. But, alas! He forgot it all, and cast away all his impressions. And he came again the next Sunday, and that time he felt again. Again the arrow of the Lord seemed to stick fast in his heart. But, alas! It was like the rushing of water. There was a mark for a moment, but his heart was soon healed, he felt not the blow; and as for persuading him to salvation, he was like the deaf adder: “charm we never so wisely,” he would not regard us so as to turn from his ways. And I have seen him come and go till years have rolled over his head, and he has still filled his seat, and the minister is still preaching, but in his case preaching in vain.

Still are the tears of mercy flowing for him; still are the thunders of justice launched against him; but he abideth just as he was. In him there is no change except this, that now he groweth hard and callous. You do not now hear him say that he trembles under the Word — not he. He is like a horse that hath been in the battle, he feareth not the noise of the drum nor the rolling of the smoke, and careth not for the din of the cannon. He cometh up, he heareth a faithful warning, and he saith, “What of it? This is for the wicked.” He heareth an affectionate invitation, and he saith, “Go thy way, when I have a more convenient season I will send for thee.” And so he comes and goes up to the house of God and back again. Like the door upon its hinges he turns into the sanctuary today, and out of it tomorrow.

He comes and goes from the place of the holy.” It may be, however, he goes even further. Almost persuaded to be a Christian by some sermon from a Paul, he trembles at his feet. He thinks he really repents; he unites himself with the Christian Church: he makes a profession of religion; but, alas! His heart has never been changed. The sow is washed, but it is the sow still. The dog has been driven from its vomit, but its doggish nature is there the same. The Ethiopian is clothed in a white garment, but he hath not changed his skin. The leopard hath been covered all over, but he hath not washed his spots away. He is the same as ever he was. He goes to the baptismal pool a black sinner, and he comes out of it the same. He goes to the table of the Lord a deceiver; he eats the bread and drinks the wine, and he returns the same. Sacrament after Sacrament passes away. The Holy Eucharist is broken in his presence; he receives it, but he comes and he goes, for he receives it not in the love of it. He is a stranger to vital godliness, and as a wicked man “he comes and he goes from the place of the holy.”

But is it not a marvelous thing that men should be able to do this? I have sometimes heard a preacher so earnestly put the matter of salvation before men, that I have said, “Surely they must see this.” I have heard him plead as though he pleaded for his own life, and I have said, “Surely they must feel this.” And I have turned round, and I have seen the handkerchief used to brush away the tear, and I have said, “Good must follow this.” You have brought your own friends under the sound of the Word, and you have prayed the whole sermon through that the arrow may reach the white and penetrate the center of the mark, and you said to yourself, “What an appropriate discourse.” Still you kept on praying, and you were pleased to see that there was some emotion. You said, “Oh, it will touch his heart at last!” But is it not strange that, though wooed by love divine, man will not melt; though thundered at by Sinai’s own terrific thunderbolts, they will not tremble; yea, though Christ Himself incarnate in the flesh should preach again, yet would they not regard Him, and mayhap would treat Him today as their parents did but yesterday, when they dragged Him out of the city and would have cast Him headlong from the summit of the mount on which the city was built. I have seen the wicked come and go from the place of the holy till his conscience was seared, as with a hot iron. I have seen him come and go from the place of the holy till he had become harder than the nether millstone, till he was past feeling, given up “to work all manner of uncleanness with greediness.”

But now we are going to change our journey. Instead of going to the house of God we will go another way. I have seen the wicked go to the place of the holy, that is to the judgment bench. We have had glaring instances even in the criminal calendar of men who have been seen sitting on a judgment bench one day, and in a short time they have been standing at the dock themselves. I have wondered what must be the peculiar feelings of a man who officiates as a judge, knowing that he who judges has been a lawbreaker himself. A wicked man, a greedy, lustful, drunken man — you know such are to be discovered among petty magistrates. We have known these sit and condemn the drunkard, when, had the world known how they went to bed the night before, they would have said of them, “Thou that judgest another doest the same things thyself.” There have been instances known of men who have condemned a poor wretch for shooting a rabbit or stealing a few pheasants’ eggs or some enormous crime like that, and they themselves have been robbing the coffers of the bank, embezzling funds to an immense extent, and cheating everybody. How singular they must feel! One would think it must be a very strange emotion that passes over a man when he executes the law upon one which he knows ought to be executed upon himself. And yet, I have seen the wicked come and go from the holy place, until he came to think that his sins were no sins, that the poor must be severely upbraided for their iniquities, that what he called the lower classes must be kept in check, not thinking that there are none so low as those who condemn others whilst they do the same things themselves; speaking about checks and barriers, when neither check nor barrier were of any use to himself; talking of curbing others and of judging righteous judgment, when had righteous judgment been carried out to the letter, he would himself have been the prisoner, and not have been honored with a commission from Government.

I may have seen the wicked man buried in a quiet way. He is taken quietly to his tomb with as little pomp as possible, and he is with all decency and solemnity interred in the grave. And now listen to the minister. If he is a man of God, when he buries such a man as he ought to be buried, you do not hear a solitary word about the character of the deceased; you hear nothing at all about any hopes of everlasting life. He is put into his grave.

The minister well remembers how he did “come and go from the place of the holy;” he recollects full well how he used to sit in the gallery and listen to his discourse. And there is one who weeps; and the minister stands there and weeps, too, to think how all his labor has been lost, and one of his hearers has been destroyed, and that without hope. But note how cautiously he speaks, even to the wife. He would give her all the hope he could, poor widow as she is, and he speaks very gently. She says, “I hope my husband is in heaven.” He holds his tongue; he is very silent; if he is of a sympathetic nature he will be quiet. And when he speaks about the deceased in his next Sunday’s sermon, if he mentions him at all, he refers to him as a doubtful case; he uses him rather as a beacon than as an example, and bids other men beware how they presume to waste their opportunities, and let the golden hours of their Sabbath-day roll by disregarded. “I have seen the wicked buried who have come and gone from the place of the holy.” As for the pompous funeral, that was ludicrous. A man might almost laugh to see the folly of honoring the man who deserved to be dishonored, but as for the still and silent and truthful funeral, how sad it is! But after all, we ought to judge ourselves very much in the light of our funerals. That is the way we judge other things. Look at your fields tomorrow. There is a flaunting poppy, and there by the hedge-rows are many flowers hat lift their heads to the sun. Judging them by their leaf, you might prefer them to the sober colored wheat. But wait until the funeral, when the poppy shall be gathered and the weeds shall be bound up in a bundle to be burned — gathered into a heap in the field to be consumed, to be made into manure for the soil. But see the funeral of the wheat. What a magnificent funeral has the wheat-sheaf. “Harvest home!” is shouted as it is carried to the garner, for it is a precious thing. Even so let each of us so live, as considering that we must die. Oh, I would desire to live that when I leave this mortal state, men may say, “There is one gone who sought to make the world better! However rough his efforts might have been, he was an honest man; he sought to serve God, and there lies he who feared not the face of man.” I would have every Christian seek to win such a funeral as this — a funeral like Stephen’s: “And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.”

Every man likes to live a little longer than his life — Englishmen especially — for there is scarcely to be found a rock in all England up which even a goat might scarcely climb, where there may not be discovered the initials of the names of men, who never had any other mode of attaining to fame, and therefore thought they would inscribe their names there. Go where you will, you find men attempting to be known; and this is the reason why many people write in newspapers, else they never would be known. A hundred little inventions we all of us have for keeping our names going after we are dead. But with the wicked man it is all in vain; he shall be forgotten. He has done nothing to make anybody remember him. Ask the poor: “Do you remember So-and-so?” “Hard master, sir, very. He always cut us down to the last sixpence; and we do not wish to recollect him.” Their children will not hear his name; they will forget him entirely. Ask the church, “Do you remember So-and-so? He was a member.” “Well,” says one, “I remember him certainly, his name was on the books, but we never had his heart. He used to come and go, but I never could talk with him.

There was nothing spiritual in him. There was a great deal of sounding bell-metal and brass, but no gold. I never could discover that he had the ‘root of the matter’ in him.” No one thinks of him, and he will soon be forgotten. The chapel grows old, there comes up another congregation, and somehow or other they talk about the old deacons who used to be there, who were good and holy men, and about the old lady who used to be so eminently useful in visiting the sick; about the young man who rose out of that church, who was so useful in the cause of God; but you never hear mention made of his name; he is quite forgotten. When he died his name was struck out of the books; he was reported as being dead, and all remembrance of him died with him. I have often noticed how soon wicked things die when the man dies who originated them. Look at Voltaire’s philosophy; with all the noise it made in his time — where is it now? There is just a little of it lingering, but it seems to have gone. And there was Tom Paine, who did his best to write his name in letters of damnation, and one would think he might have been remembered. But who cares for him now? Except amongst a few, here and there, his name has passed away. And all the names of error, and heresy, and schism, where do they go? You hear about St. Austin to this day, but you never hear about the heretics he attacked. Everybody knows about Athanasius, and how he stood up for the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ; but we have almost forgotten the life of Arius, and scarcely ever think of those men who aided and abetted him in his folly. Bad men die out quickly, for the world feels it is a good thing to be rid of them; they are not worth remembering.

Charles H. Spurgeon – Words of Warning for Daily Life, ‘The Course of the Wicked’

The Wednesday Word: The ABCs of Jesus

March 30, 2022 3 comments

The Scriptures tell us that Jesus is all in all (Colossians 3:11).

Let’s look at that today.

Jesus is The Advocate (1 John 2.1), The Anointed (Hebrews 1:9), The Apostle (Hebrews 3:1), The Author (Hebrews 12:2), The Amen (Revelation 3:14), The Alpha (Revelation 1:8), The Adonai (Psalm 135: 5), and The Almighty God (Revelation 1:8).

But He is more.

He is The Beginning (Revelation 1:8), The Beloved (Matthew 3:17), The Branch (Isaiah 11:1-2), The Bread (John 6:35), The Bridegroom (John 3:28-30), The Bright and Morning Star (Revelation 22:16), The Bishop of our Souls (1 Peter 2:25), The Brightness of the Father’s Glory (Hebrews 1:3).

And Jesus is …

The Captain (Hebrews 2:10), The Consolation (Luke 2:25-32), The Chief Cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20), The Counselor (Isaiah 9:6), The Covenant (Isaiah 42:6), The Chosen of God (Isaiah 42:1), and The Christ (John 20:31).

Also …

Jesus is The Daysman (Job 9:33; 1Timothy 2:5), The Deliverer (Psalm 34:17; Psalm 50:15), The Dayspring (Luke 1:78), The Door (John 10:7; John 10:9), and The Desire of all Nations (Haggai 2:7).

And there’s yet more!

Jesus is the Elect (Isaiah 42:1), The Everlasting Father (Isaiah 9:6), Emmanuel (Matthew 1:23), The El Shaddai (Genesis 35:11).

Jesus is The Finisher of our Faith (Hebrews 12:2), The Forerunner (Hebrews 6:20), Our Friend (John 15:14-15), The Faithful Witness (Revelation 1:5), The Fountain of Life (Psalm 36:9).

But there’s more,

Jesus is the God/ Man (Philippians 2:6-11), The Gift of God (John 3:16; Romans 6:23), The Governor (Isaiah 9:6; Matthew 28:18), our Guide (Psalm 23:2-3), and The Glorious Lord (James 2:1).

Jesus is our Help (Hebrews 13:6), our Hope (1 Timothy 1:1), The Horn of Salvation (Psalm 18:2), The Head of the Church (Colossians 1:18), The Heir of all things (Hebrews 1:2), The High Priest (Hebrews 2:17; 4:14), The Holy One (Acts 2:27).

But don’t go away yet.

Jesus is the I Am (John 8:58), our Inheritance (Psalm 16:5-6), The Image of God (Colossians 1:15), The Immortal One (1 Timothy 6:16), The Intercessor (Hebrews 7:25).

Jesus is The Judge (2 Corinthians 5:10), The Just and the Justifier (Romans 3:26).

Jesus is The King of Israel (John 1:49), The King of Kings (Revelation 19:16) The King Everlasting (Luke 1:33), The King of Glory (Psalm 24:7-8), The King of Righteousness and of Peace (Hebrews 7:2).

Jesus is The Life (John 14:6), The Light (John 8:12), The Lion (Revelation 5:5), The Lamb (John 1:29), The Living Stone (1 Peter 2:4), The Lord of Glory (1 Corinthians 2:7-8), The Lord of Lords (Revelation 17:14), The Lord our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6).

This is enough for any of us to feed upon. But there’s more!

Jesus is The Messenger (Malachi 3:1), The Mediator (1 Timothy2:5), The Master (John 13:13-15), The Messiah (Matthew 1:16), and The Mighty God (Isaiah 9:6).

Jesus is The Nazarene (Matthew 2:23).

Jesus is The Offspring of David (Revelation 22:16), The Omega (Revelation 1:8), The Offering (Hebrews 9:14), The Omnipresent One (Matthew 18:20), The Omnipotent One (Colossians 1:17 ) and the Omniscient One (Romans 11:33).

Jesus is The Passover (1Corinthians 5:7), The Potentate (1 Timothy 6:15-16), The Prophet (Matthew 21:11), The Propitiation (Romans 3:25), The Prince of Life (Acts 3:15), The Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), and The Physician (Luke 4:23).

Jesus is The Quickener of those who are dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1).

Is there no end to this man Jesus? No there’s not for,

Jesus is the Ransom (Matthew 20:28), our Rest (Matthew 11;28), The Root of Jesse (Isaiah 11:10), The Root of David (Revelation 22:16, The Refiner (Malachi 3:2-3), Our Refuge (Psalm 62:8), The Resurrection (John 11:25), The Redeemer (Isaiah 44:6), The Rock (Psalm 18:2).

Jesus is The Stone (1 Peter 2:6), The Shepherd (John 10:11), The Son of God (Matthew 14:33), The Son of Man (Mark 10:45), The Shield (Genesis 15:1), The Servant (Philippians 2:7), The Seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15; Galatians 4:4), The Surety (Hebrews 7:22), The SAVIOUR (1 John 4:14), The Sinless One (Hebrews 7:26), The Same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

Jesus is The Teacher (John 13:13), The Truth (John 14:6) and The Tabernacle (John 1:14).

Jesus is The Upholder of all things (Hebrews 1:3).

Jesus is The Vine (John 15:1).

Jesus is The Word (John 1:1), The Way (John 14:6), The Wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24; Colossians 2:3), The Wonderful (Isaiah 9:6).

Jesus is Yahweh (Colossians 2:9).

What more do we need? He is the Saviour from death, the Redeemer from sin’s penalty, power and pleasure. He is the Deliverer from our enemies, our Leader through the wilderness; He Himself is the Way, He is Light in the darkness, He is the Teacher to His people, He is the Shepherd of His flock, He is our Justification, Wisdom, Righteousness, Lord, Master and King.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com   

Then thy design is the ruin of sin

From this consideration, two things present themselves to our sight.

II. There have been, and may yet be a people in the world that have, and may suffer in the sense of the apostle here, according to the will of God.

Second, To prove this by reason is easy. The devil is not yet shut up in the bottomless pit-Antichrist is yet alive. The government in all kingdoms is not yet managed with such light, and goodness of mind, as to let the saints serve God, as he has said, whatever it is in some. And until then there will be in some places, though for my part I cannot predict where, a people that will yet suffer for well-doing, or for righteousness’ sake.

In order to a right handling of this matter, I shall divide this head into these two parts-

A. Show you what it is to suffer for well-doing, or for righteousness.

B. Show you what it is to suffer for righteousness’ sake. I put this distinction, because I find that it is one thing to suffer for righteousness, and another to suffer for righteousness’ sake.

[B. What it is to suffer for righteousness’ sake.]

Wherefore, that I may show you who may be said to suffer for righteousness’ sake, I will propound and speak to several things.

3. Is it for righteousness’ sake that thou sufferest? then thy design is the ruin of sin. This depends upon what was said before; for he that strives against sin, that seeks to promote righteousness, he designs the ruin of sin. “Be not,” said Paul to the suffering Romans, “overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:21). To overcome evil with good is a hard task. To rail it down, to cry it down, to pray kings, and parliaments, and men in authority to put it down, this is easier than to use my endeavour to overcome it with good, with doing of good, as I said before.[37] And sin must be overcome with good at home, before thy good can get forth of doors[38] to overcome evil abroad.

Abraham overcame evil with good, when he quieted the discontent of Lot and his herdsmen, with allowing of them to feed their cattle in the best of what God had given him (Gen 13:7, 8).

David overcame evil with good, when he saved the life of his bloody enemy that was fallen into his hand; also when he grieved that any hurt should come to them that sought nothing so much as his destruction. “They rewarded me,” saith he, “evil for good, to the spoiling of my soul. But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth. I humbled my soul with fasting, I behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother; I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother.” This is to overcome evil with good (Psa 35:12-14).

Job saith concerning his enemy, that he did not rejoice when evil found him; “neither have I,” said he, “suffered my mouth to sin by wishing a curse to his soul.” He means he did the quite contrary, and so overcame evil with good (Job 31:29, 30).

Elisha overcame evil with good, when he received the men that came for his life, and had them where he might feast, and comfort them, and sent them home in peace to their master (2 Kings 6:19-23).

The New Testament also is full of this, both in exhortations and examples, In exhortations where it is said, resist not evil, that is, with evil, but overcome evil with good (Prov 24:29). “But whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.-And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee; and from him that would borrow of thee, turn not thou away.-Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven, for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil, and on the good – on the just, and on the unjust” (Matt 5:39-45). “Bless them that persecute you: bless and curse not” (Rom 12:14). “Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing, but contrariwise, blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9; Rom 12:14). This is righteousness-these are righteous courses. And as these are preceptively propounded, so they were as practically followed by them that were eminently godly in the primitive church.

“We are fools for Christ’s sake,” said Paul, “we are despised, we are hungry, thirsty, naked, and buffeted.-Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it; being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the filth of the earth, and are the off-scouring of all things unto this day” (1 Cor 4:10-13). This is overcoming of evil with good, and he that has chosen to himself that religion that teaches these things, and that loves that religion because it so teacheth him; if he suffereth for it, he suffereth for righteousness’ sake.

John Bunyan- Seasonable Counsel or Advise to Sufferers

Footnotes:

37. Revenge naturally rises in the mind of man under a sense of injury. To return good for evil is one of the effects of the new birth. But while this is done, it is also our duty to petition kings and parliaments to remove evils.-Ed.

38. “Forth of doors”; out of doors, public.-Ed.

The later references in Scripture to the rainbow are inexpressibly blessed

Arthur PinkThe later references in Scripture to the rainbow are inexpressibly blessed. Thus, in the visions of the glory of God which Ezekiel was favored with at the beginning of his ministry, we find part of the imagery thus described, “As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about” (Ezek. 1:28). It is to be duly noted that this verse comes in at the close of one of the most awe-inspiring representations of heavenly things to be found in Scripture. It is a vision of the ineffable holiness of God, hence the presence of the cherubim. There is then the fervid appearance of metallic brightness and flashes of liquid flame, which shone forth from all parts of the vision. Then wheels of vast proportion are added to the cherubim: wheels full of eyes, speaking of the terrible energy which was going to characterize the divine providences. Above all was the throne of God, on which He Himself sat in human form.

It is well known that at the time of this vision the people of Israel were in a most distressed condition. Those amongst whom Ezekiel prophesied were in captivity, and the ruin of their country was nigh at hand. How blessed, then, was the introduction here of the sign of the rainbow into this vision! It intimated that the purpose and promises of divine grace were sure. Though God’s judgment would fall heavily upon the guilty nation, yet because of the elect remnant therein, it would not be utterly cast off; and after the storm had passed, times of restoration and peace would follow. It was the divine assurance, for faith to rest upon and enjoy, that what Jehovah had pledged in the covenant would be made good.

Arthur W. Pink- The Divine Covenants-Part Three-The Noahic Covenant

The Promise of Mercy

CharlesSpurgeonIV. Now to conclude-THE PROMISE OF MERCY. “And will not remember thy sins.” There are some things which even God cannot do. Though it is true he is Omnipotent, yet there are some things he cannot do. God cannot lie-he cannot forsake his people-he cannot disown his covenant; and this is one of the things it might be thought he could not do-that is, forget. Is it impossible for God to forget? We finite creatures suffer many things to skip, but can the Almighty ever do so? That God who counteth the stars and calleth them all by their names-who knoweth how many animalculae there are in the mighty ocean-who notices every grain of dust that floats in the summer air, and is acquainted with every leaf of the forest, can he cease to remember? Perhaps we may answer “No.” Not as to the absolute fact of the committal of the deed; but there are senses in which the expression is entirely accurate. In what sense are we to understand God’s forgetfulness of our sins?

Charles H. Spurgeon- Forgiveness, A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Morning, May 20, 1855; at Exeter Hall.

We have shown that infant baptism leads to religious persecutions

Thus we have shown incontrovertibly that infant baptism leads to religious persecutions. It necessarily makes an ignorant and worldly church, which if it has the power will persecute; it unites the church with the state, and every such church has been and is guilty of religious persecutions; the source from which infant baptism mainly draws the arguments for its support leads the church to acts of persecution; and history shows that all Pedobaptist churches having the power have engaged in persecution, and that their persecutions have been always most violent and bitter against Baptists, principally because we deny, and refuse to practice, infant baptism. The world has never been visited by a more dreadful evil than religious persecutions. No man can read the details of their enormities without shuddering. All feel the deepest disgust. I shall attempt here no description of them. But let it be remembered that persecution is one of the results of infant baptism.

The converse of this proposition is also true, Baptist principles are inimical to persecution. They, in their very nature, repel it in all its hateful forms. And when these principles shall spread themselves over the earth, and they ever have advanced, and ever will advance pari passu with political freedom, religious persecution shall be known no more among men.

It is not a little remarkable that historians, and others, have attributed the first true conceptions of religious liberty to Roger Williams, the Governor of Rhode Island. In this they all evince their total ignorance of Baptist history.

Of Williams Bancroft says:

“He was the first in modern Christendom, to assert in its plenitude, the doctrine of the liberty of conscience, the equality of opinions before the law, and in its defense he was the harbinger of Milton, and the precursor, and the superior of Jeremy Taylor.”[152]

I honor Roger Williams for his enlightened conceptions, and his bold action regarding religious liberty. But he was only the representative of all the Baptists who had gone before him, many of whom had written as wisely, as learnedly, and as conclusively as he. When, for example, Calvin had succeeded in bringing Servetus to the stake—one of the most horrid blasphemies alleged against whom, by the way, was his denial of infant baptism—a protest against the proceeding was published by a learned and pious Baptist minister, Mr. David Joris.

“It is,” said Joris, “an incredible blindness that the servants of Christ, who are sent to give life to the dead through the knowledge of the truth, should condemn the erring to death, and through temporal death expose their souls to eternal ruin. The fight to pass such a sentence belongs to Him alone who gave life, and suffered death for our redemption. Were it lawful to put heretics to death, there would be a general slaughter, since all religious parties regard their opponents as guilty of heresy.”[153]

In Calvin and Joris, you see Presbyterian and Baptist principles regarding religious liberty, in full contrast, long before the days of Roger Williams. Thomas Helwys was another example equally as striking as the Governor of Rhode Island. If the latter stated and defended in the new world, the doctrine of “soul liberty,” with great skill and force in his writings, and honorably illustrated it in the planting of a civil state where consciences, however diverse or eccentric, were never oppressed, the former gave in his publications, in the old world, full form and expression to the same sentiments, and maintained them with singular personal boldness, and magnanimity. Helwys was spurned from society, and driven into obscurity.

Williams was more fortunate. The small territory that he planted, scarcely noticeable upon the map of the great confederacy of states of which it now forms a part, furnished the example of religious freedom which that confederacy has copied, and which across this wide continent, the millions of our people now account “their highest honor.” This was, however, only the embodiment of the great Baptist principle which, from the apostles’ times, our churches have all maintained, and defended.

R. B. C. Howell- The Evils of Infant Baptism- Chapter 13- Infant Baptism is an Evil because it leads to religious persecutions

RUNNING FOR A PURPOSE

SOME people think they must be religious, in order to be respectable. There are a vast number of people in the world who go to church and to chapel, because everybody else does so. It is disreputable to waste your Sundays, not to be found going up to the house of God; therefore they take a pew and attend the services, and they think they have done their duty: they have obtained all that they sought for, when they can hear their neighbors saying, “Such-and-such a man is a very respectable person; he is always very regular at his church; he is a very reputable person, and exceedingly praiseworthy.” Verily, if this be what you seek after in your religion, you shall get it; for the Pharisees who sought the praise of men “had their reward.” But when you have gotten it, what a poor reward it is! Is it worth the drudgery? I do not believe that the drudgery to which people submit, in order to be called respectable, is at all compensated by what they gain. I am sure, for my own part, I would not care a solitary rap what I was called, or what I was thought; nor would I perform anything that was irksome to myself for the sake of pleasing any man who ever walked beneath the stars, however great or mighty he may be. It is the sign of a fawning, cringing spirit, when people are always seeking to do that which renders them respectable. The esteem of men is not worth the looking after, and sad it is, that this should be the only prize which some men put before them in the poor religion which they undertake.

Another set of people take up with religious life for what they can get by it. I have known trades-people attend church for the mere sake of getting the custom of those who went there. I have heard of such things as people knowing which side their bread was buttered, and going to that particular denomination, where they thought they could get the most by it. Loaves and fishes drew some of Christ’s followers, and they are very attracting baits, even to this day. Men find there is something to be gotten by religion. Among the poor it is, perhaps, some little charity to be obtained, and among those who are in business, it is the custom which they think to get. “Verily I say unto you, they have their reward;” for the church is ever foolish and unsuspicious. We do not like to suspect our fellow creatures of following us from sordid motives. The church does not like to think that a man would be base enough to pretend to religion for the mere sake of what he can get; and, therefore, we let these people easily slip through, and they have their reward. But ah, at what a price they buy it! They have deceived the Lord’s servants for gold, and they have entered into His church as base hypocrites for the sake of a piece of bread; and they shall be thrust out at last with the anger of God behind them, like Adam driven out of Eden, with the flaming Cherubim with a sword turning every way to keep the tree of life; and they shall forever look back upon this as the most fearful crime they have committed — that they pretended to be God’s people when they were not, and entered into the midst of the fold when they were but wolves in sheeps’ clothing.

There is yet another class; and when I have referred to them, I will mention no more. These are the people who take up with religion for the sake of quieting their conscience; and it is astonishing how little of religion will sometimes do that. Some people tell us that if in the time of storm men would pour bottles of oil upon the waves, there would be a great calm at once. I have never tried it, and it is most probable I never shall, for my organ of credulity is not large enough to accept so extensive a statement. But there are some people who think that they can calm the storm of a troubled conscience by pouring a little of the oil of a profession about religion upon it; and it is amazing how wonderful an effect this really has. I have known a man who was drunk many times in a week, and who got his money dishonestly, and yet he always had an easy conscience by going to his church or chapel regularly on the Sunday. We have heard of a man who could “devour widows’ houses” — a lawyer who could swallow up everything that came in his way, and yet he would never go to bed without saying his prayers; and that stilled his conscience. We have heard of other persons, especially among the Romanists, who would not object to thieving, but who would regard eating anything but fish on a Friday as a most fearful sin, supposing that, by making a fast on the Friday, all the iniquities of all the days in the week would be put away. They want the outward forms of religion to keep the conscience quiet; for Conscience is one of the worst lodgers to have in your house when he gets quarrelsome: there is no abiding with him; he is an ill bed-fellow; ill at lying down, and equally troublesome at rising up. A guilty conscience is one of the curses of the world: it puts out the sun, and takes away the brightness from the moonbeam. A guilty conscience casts a noxious exhalation through the air, removes the beauty from the landscape, the glory from the flowing river, the majesty from the rolling floods. There is nothing beautiful to the man who has a guilty conscience. He needs no accusing; everything accuses him. Hence people take up with religion just to quiet them. They take the Sacrament sometimes; they go to a place of worship; they sing a hymn now and then; they give a guinea to a charity; they intend to leave a portion in their will to build alms-houses; and in this way conscience is lulled asleep, and they rock him to and fro with religious observances, till there he sleeps while they sing over him the lullaby of hypocrisy, and he wakes not until he shall wake with that rich man who was here clothed in purple, but in the next world did lift up his eyes in hell, being in torments, without a drop of water to cool his burning tongue.

The Apostle says, “So run that ye may obtain.” There are some people who certainly never will obtain the prize, because they are not even entered. Their names are not down for the race, and therefore it is quite clear that they will not run, or, if they do run, they will run without having any warrant whatever for expecting to receive the prize. There are some who will tell you themselves, “We make no profession — none whatever.” It is quite as well, perhaps, that you do not; because if you did, you would be hypocrites, and it is better to make no profession at all than to be hypocrites. Still, recollect, your names are not down for the race, and therefore you cannot win. If a man tells you in business that he makes no profession of being honest, you know that he is a confirmed rogue. If a man makes no profession of being religious, you know what he is — he is irreligious — he has no fear of God before his eyes, he has no love to Christ, he has no hope of heaven. He confesses it himself. Strange that men should be so ready to confess this. You don’t find persons in the street willing to acknowledge that they are confirmed drunkards. Generally, a man will repudiate it with scorn. You never find a man saying to you, “I don’t profess to be a chaste living man.” You don’t hear another say, “I don’t profess to be anything but a covetous wretch.” No; people are not so fast about telling their faults: and yet you hear people confess the greatest fault to which man can be addicted: they say, “I make no profession” — which means just this — that they do not give God His due. God has made them, and yet they won’t serve Him; Christ hath come into the world to save sinners, and yet they will not regard Him; the gospel is preached, and yet they will not hear it; they have the Bible in their houses, and yet they will not attend to its admonitions; they make no profession of doing so. It will be short work with them at the last great day. There will be no need for the books to be opened, no need for a long deliberation in the verdict.

They do not profess to be pardoned; their guilt is written upon their own foreheads, their brazen shamelessness shall be seen by the whole world, as a sentence of destruction written upon their very brows. You cannot expect to win heaven unless your names are entered for the race. If there be no attempts whatever made, even at so much as a profession of religion, then of course you may just sit down and say, “Heaven is not for me; I have no part nor lot in the inheritance of Israel; I cannot say that my Redeemer liveth; and I may rest quite assured that Tophet is prepared of old for me. I must feel its pains and know its miseries; for there are but two places to dwell in hereafter, and if I am not found on the right hand of the Judge there is but one alternative — namely, to be cast away forever into the blackness of darkness.”

Then there is another class whose names are down, but they never started right. A bad start is a sad thing. If in the ancient races of Greece or Rome a man who was about to run for the race had loitered, or if he had started before the time, it would not matter how fast he ran if he did not start in order. The flag must drop before the horse starts; otherwise, even if it reach the winning post first, it shall have no :reward. There is something to be noted, then, in the starting of the race. I have known men run the race of religion with all their might, and yet they have lost it because they did not start right. You say, “Well, how is that?” Why, there are some people who on a sudden leap into religion. They get it quickly, and they keep it for a time, and at last they lose it because they did not get their religion the right way. They have heard that before a man can be saved, it is necessary that, by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, he should feel the weight of sin, that he should make a confession of it, that he should renounce all hope in his own works, and should look to Jesus Christ alone. They look upon all these things as unpleasant preliminaries, and therefore, before they have attended to repentance, before the Holy Spirit has wrought a good work in them, before they have been brought to give up everything and trust to Christ, they make a profession of religion. This is just setting up in business without a stock in trade, and there must be a failure. If a man has no capital to begin with, he may make a fine show for a little time, but it shall be as the crackling of thorns under a pot, a great deal of noise and much light for a little time, but it shall die out in darkness. How many there are who never think it necessary that there should be heart work within!

Again, there are some runners in the heavenly race who cannot win because they carry too much weight. A light weight, of course, has the advantage. There are some people who have an immensely heavy weight to carry. “How hardly shall a rich man enter into the kingdom of heaven!” What is the reason? Because he carries so much weight; he has so much of the cares and pleasures of this world; he has such a burden that he is not likely to win, unless God should please to give him a mighty mass of strength to enable him to bear it. We find many men willing to be saved, as they say; they receive the Word with great joy, but by-and-bye thorns spring up and choke the Word. They have so much business to do; they say they must live; they forget they must die. They have such a deal to attend to, they cannot think of living near to Christ. They find they have little time for devotions; morning prayer must be cut short, because their business begins early; they can have no prayer at night, because business keeps them so late. How can they be expected to think of the things of God? They have so much to do to answer this question — “What shall I eat? What shall I drink? And wherewithal shall I be clothed?” It is true they read in the Bible that their Father who is in heaven will take care of them in these things if they will trust Him. But they say, “Not so.” Those are enthusiasts according to their notions who rely upon providence. They say, the best providence in all the world is hard work; and they say rightly; but they forget that into the bargain of their hard work “it is in vain to rise up early and sit up late, and eat the bread of carefulness; for except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.” You see two men running a race. One of them as he starts, lays aside every weight; he takes off his garment and away he runs. There goes the other poor fellow; he has a whole load of gold and silver upon his back. Then around his loins he has many distrustful doubts about what shall become of him in the future, what will be his prospects when he grows old, and a hundred other things. He does not know how to roll his burden upon the Lord. See how he flags, poor fellow, and how the other distances him, leaves him far behind, has gained the corner, and is coming to the winning post. It is well for us if we can cast everything away except that one thing needful, and say, “This is my business, to serve God on earth, knowing that I shall enjoy Him in heaven.” For when we leave our business to God, we leave it in better hands than if we took care of it ourselves. They who carve for themselves generally cut their fingers; but they who leave God to carve for them, shall never have an empty plate. He who will walk after the cloud shall go aright, but he who will run before it shall soon find that he has gone a fool’s errand. “Blessed is the man who trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.” “The young lions do lack and suffer hunger, but they that wait upon the Lord shall not want any good thing.” Our Savior said, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin, and yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” “Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feedeth them; are ye not much better than they?” “Trust in the Lord and do good, and verily thou shalt be fed.” “His place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks; bread shall be given him, his waters shall be sure.” “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Carry the weight of this world’s cares about you, and it will be as much as you can do to carry them and to stand upright under them, but as to running a race with such burdens, it is just impossible.

It is very well now to be sailing over the smooth waters of life, but the rough billows of Jordan will make you want a Savior. It is hard work to die without a hope; to take that last leap in the dark is a frightful thing indeed. I have seen the old man die when he has declared he would not die. He has stood upon the brink of death, and he has said, “All dark, dark, dark! O God, I cannot die.” And his agony has been fearful when the strong hand of the destroyer has seemed to push him over the precipice. He “lingered shivering on the brink, and feared to launch away.” And frightful was the moment when the foot slipped and the solid earth was left, and the soul was sinking into the depths of eternal wrath. You will want a Savior then, when your pulse is faint and few; you will need an angel then to stand at your bedside; and when the spirit is departing, you will need a sacred convoy to pilot you through the dark clouds of death and guide you through the iron gate, and lead you to the blessed mansion in the land of the hereafter. Oh, “seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” O Lord, turn us and we shall be turned. Draw us and we will run after Thee; .and Thine shall be the glory; for the crown of our race shall be cast at Thy feet, and Thou shalt have the glory forever and ever.

Charles H. Spurgeon – Words of Warning for Daily Life, ‘Running for a Purpose’

The Wednesday Word: Only Two Worldwide Religions

It is estimated that there are around 10,000 religions in the world, but the truth is they break down into just two categories. The first category of religion is comprised of those who demand performance (on the adherent’s part). Salvation for them is a matter of doing one’s best or obeying a set of rules. For example … ‘Don’t eat this and don’t eat that.’ ‘Pray at this time.’ ’Take part in this ceremony or that sacrament’. ’Perform this or that good work’. This is the religion of ‘DO.’ It is by far the more popular of the two.

The other category of religion is really a non-religion and is summarized by the word DONE. Membership comes about by being given the gift of eternal life by God. Since it is a gift, it cannot be earned or deserved.

As we have said many times, “Without Christ, we can do nothing” (John 15:5). That’s true, but the flip side is also accurate … with Christ, there’s nothing we need to do! Jesus has done and paid all to redeem us. It is Finished!

I don’t know who said this but when they wrote of the two religions they spoke the truth,

“One religion is of Cain, the other of Abel.

One is of Ishmael, the other of Isaac.

One is of Esau, the other of Jacob.

One is of Law, the other of Promise.

One is of Mount Sinai, the other of Mount Calvary.

One condemns, the other finds no fault.

One leads to bondage, the other to freedom.

One of weakness, the other of power.

One of merit, the other of mercy.

One of works, the other of grace.”

One is by trying, the other is by trusting.

Yes indeed, there really are only two types of religion, one is the religion of ‘Do’ the other is the religion of ‘Done.’

DO or DONE? Where do you stand? We either believe that we must DO something to gain heaven or else we rest in the fact that Jesus Christ has DONE it all. He has gained our entire acceptance through His doing, dying and rising again.

The late Scott Richardson said, “The voice from the cross did not summon men to do, but to be satisfied with what was done: “It is finished.” The sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ is the only perfect thing which has ever been presented to God on man’s behalf. “It shall be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no blemish therein” (Leviticus 22:21).

There’s not a single thing the unbeliever can do to please God for they that are in the flesh cannot please God (see Romans 8:8). All the unbeliever’s trying to get right with and impress God is useless. We are not called to try something, we are called to trust.

Christ ascended into heaven because His work of atonement was finished. It was not partially done; it was and is finished. Of course, He sprinkled His blood on the mercy seat but that was not to achieve redemption. Redemption had already been obtained. This is made clear when we read in the Scriptures, “But by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Hebrews 9:12).

Notice that eternal redemption had already been obtained before He came to the mercy seat.

It is Finished!

“Nothing, either great or small –

Nothing, sinner, no;

Jesus did it, did it all,

Long, long ago.

It is finished! Yes, indeed,

Finished, every jot;

Sinner, this is all you need –

Tell me, is it not?

When He, from His lofty throne,

Stooped to do and die,

Everything was fully done;

Hearken to His cry:

Weary, working, burdened one,

Wherefore toil you so?

Cease your doing; all was done

Long, long ago.

Till to Jesus’ work you cling

By a simple faith,

“Doing” is a deadly thing –

“Doing” ends in death.

Cast your deadly “doing” down –

Down at Jesus’ feet;

Stand in Him, in Him alone,

Gloriously complete.”

James Proctor (1826-59).

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com   

It is because thou wouldest have righteousness promoted, set up, and established in the world

From this consideration, two things present themselves to our sight.

II. There have been, and may yet be a people in the world that have, and may suffer in the sense of the apostle here, according to the will of God.

Second, To prove this by reason is easy. The devil is not yet shut up in the bottomless pit-Antichrist is yet alive. The government in all kingdoms is not yet managed with such light, and goodness of mind, as to let the saints serve God, as he has said, whatever it is in some. And until then there will be in some places, though for my part I cannot predict where, a people that will yet suffer for well-doing, or for righteousness’ sake.

In order to a right handling of this matter, I shall divide this head into these two parts-

A. Show you what it is to suffer for well-doing, or for righteousness.

B. Show you what it is to suffer for righteousness’ sake. I put this distinction, because I find that it is one thing to suffer for righteousness, and another to suffer for righteousness’ sake.

[B. What it is to suffer for righteousness’ sake.]

Wherefore, that I may show you who may be said to suffer for righteousness’ sake, I will propound and speak to several things.

2. Is it for the sake of righteousness that thou sufferest? Then it is because thou wouldest have righteousness promoted, set up, and established in the world; also thou art afflicted at those advantages that iniquity gets upon men, upon things, and against thyself. “I beheld,” said David, “the transgressors, and was grieved; because men kept not thy word” (Psa 119:158). And again, These are they that mourn for the abominations that are done among men (Eze 9:4). There is a great deal of talk about religion, a great deal of pleading for religion, namely, as to the formalities of this and the other way.[35] But to choose to be religious, that I might be possessed with holiness, and to choose that religion that is most apt to possess me with it, if I suffer for this, I suffer for righteousness’ sake. Wherefore say thus to thy soul, thou that art like to suffer for righteousness, How is it with the most inward parts of my soul? What is there? What designs, desires, and reachings out are there? Why do I pray? Why do I read? Why do I hear? Why do I haunt and frequent places and ordinances appointed for worship? Is it because I love holiness? would promote righteousness, because I love to see godliness show itself in others, and because I would feel more of the power of it in myself? If so, and if thou sufferest for thy profession, thou sufferest, not only for righteousness, but also for righteousness’ sake.

Dost thou thus practise, because thou wouldest be taught to do outward acts of righteousness, and because thou wouldest provoke others to do so too? Dost thou show to others how thou lovest righteousness, by taking opportunities to do righteousness? How is it, dost thou show most mercy to thy dog,[36] or to thine enemy, to thy swine, or to the poor? Whose naked body hast thou clothed? Whose hungry belly hast thou fed? Hast thou taken delight in being defrauded and beguiled? Hast thou willingly sat down by the loss with quietness, and been as if thou hadst not known, when thou hast been wronged, defamed, abused, and all because thou wast not willing that black-mouthed men should vilify and reproach religion upon thy account (1 Cor 6:7)?

He that loveth righteousness will do thus, yea, and do it as unto God, and of tenderness to the Word of God which he professeth. And he that thinks to make seeing men believe, that when he suffereth, he suffereth for righteousness’ sake, and yet is void in his life of moral goodness, and that has no heart to suffer and bear, and put up, and pass by injuries in his conversation among his enemies at home, is deceived.

There are some Scriptures that are as if they were out of date among some professors, specially such as call for actual holiness and acts of self-denial for God; but it will be found, at the day of judgment, that they only are the peculiar people that are “zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14). God help us, it is hard now to persuade professors to come up to negative holiness, that is, to leave undone that which is bad; and yet this of itself comes far short of ones being found in practical goodness.

But this is the man that suffereth, when he suffereth for righteousness’ sake, that makes it his business, by all lawful means, according to the capacity that God has put him in, to promote, set up, and establish righteousness in the world; I say this is the man that suffereth for righteousness’ sake, that suffereth for so doing; and I am sure that a life that is moral, when joined to the profession of the faith of the things that are of the Spirit of God, is absolutely necessary to the promoting of righteousness in the world. Hence Peter tells them that suffer for righteousness’ sake, that they must have “a good conscience”-a good conscience towards God, towards men, towards friends, towards enemies (1 Peter 3:14-16; Acts 24:16; 23:1). They must have a good conscience in all things, being willing, ready, desirous to live honestly, godly, and righteously in this world, or else they cannot, though they may suffer for the best doctrine under heaven, suffer for righteous-ness’ sake (Heb 13:18).

John Bunyan- Seasonable Counsel or Advise to Sufferers

Footnotes:

35. Every Christian must be decided in his own conscience as to the formalities of religion; but he who prefers talking of forms and ceremonies to communion in the substance, is in a melancholy state.-Ed.

36. What a severe reproach it is to human nature, to see a lovely child in rags and shoeless, running the streets, exposed to the pitiless weather, while a splendid equipage passes, in which a lady holds up her lapdog at the window to give it an airing!! Is not this a greater crime than sends many a poor wretch to the treadmill?-Ed.

There are many parallels between the rainbow and God’s grace

Arthur PinkThe following paragraph is quoted from our work Gleanings in Genesis.

There are many parallels between the rainbow and God’s grace. As the rainbow is the joint-product of storm and sunshine, so grace is the unmerited favor of God appearing on the dark background of the creature’s sin. As the rainbow is the effect of the sun shining on the drops of rain in a cloud, so Divine grace is manifested by God’s love shining through the blood shed by our blessed Redeemer. As the rainbow is the telling out of the varied hues of the white light, so the ‘manifold grace of God’ (1 Pet. 4:10) is the ultimate expression of God’s heart. As nature knows nothing more exquisitely beautiful than the rainbow, so heaven itself knows nothing that surpasses in loveliness the wondrous grace of God. As the rainbow is the union of heaven and earth-spanning the sky and reaching down to the ground—so grace in the one Mediator has brought together God and man. As the rainbow is a public sign of God hung out in the heavens that all may see it, so ‘the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men’ (Titus 2:11). Finally, as the rainbow has been displayed throughout all the past forty centuries, so in the ages to come God will show forth ‘the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus’ (Eph. 2:7).”

Arthur W. Pink- The Divine Covenants-Part Three-The Noahic Covenant