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29 August, 2013

Eternal Punishment - Part 1

Excerpt from the book "Fire & Brimstone in Hell"

We take up our pen to write on one of the most solemn truths taught in the Word of God. And before we began, we turned to the Lord and earnestly sought that wisdom and grace which we are conscious we sorely need; making request that we might be preserved from all error in what we shall write, and that nothing may find a place in these pages which shall be displeasing to that Holy One, "whose we are-and whom we serve." O that we may write in the spirit of One who said, "Who can comprehend the power of Your anger? Your wrath is as awesome as the fear You deserve!" (Psalm 90:11).
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The subject before us is one that needs stressing in these days. The great majority of our pulpits are silent upon it, and the fact that it has so little place in modern preaching is one of the signs of the times, one of the many evidences that the Apostasy must be near at hand. It is true that there are not a few who are praying for a world-wide Revival-but it appears to the writer, that it would be more timely, and more scriptural, for prayer to be made to the Lord of the harvest-that He would raise up and thrust forth laborers who would fearlessly and faithfully preach those truths which are calculated to bring about a revival.
While it is true that all genuine revivals come from God-yet He is not capricious in the sending of them. We are sure that God never relinquishes His sovereign rights to own and to bless-where and as He pleases. But we also believe that here, as everywhere, there is a direct connection between cause and effect-and a revival is the effect of a previous cause. A revival, like a genuine conversion, is wrought by God by means of the Word-the Word applied by the Holy Spirit, of course. Therefore, there is something more needed (on our part) than prayer-the Word of God must have a place, a prominent place, the prominent place. Without the Word and prayer-there will be no Revival, whatever excitement and activities of the emotions there may be.
It is the deepening conviction ofthe writer, that what is most needed today, is a wide proclamation of those truths which are the least acceptable to the flesh.
What is needed today, is a scriptural setting forth of the character of God-
His absolute sovereignty,
His ineffable holiness,
His inflexible justice,
His unchanging veracity.

What is needed today, is a scriptural setting forth of the condition of the natural man-
his total depravity,
his spiritual insensibility,
his inveterate hostility to God,
the fact that he is "condemned already"
and that the wrath of a sin-hating God
is even now abiding upon him!

What is needed today, is a scriptural setting forth of the alarming danger which sinners are in-the indescribably awful doom which awaits them, the fact that if they follow only a little further their present course, they shall most certainly suffer the due penalty of their iniquities!
What is needed today, is a scriptural setting forth of the nature of that dreadful punishment which awaits the lost-
the awfulness of it,
the hopelessness of it,
the unendurableness of it,
the endlessness of it!

28 August, 2013

Soul's Killing

Satan hides the hook!

"Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we
 are not ignorant of his devices." 2 Corinthians 2:11 

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Satan has his several devices to deceive, entangle, 
and undo the souls of men. Satan has . . . 
  snares for the wise, and snares for the simple;
  snares for hypocrites, and snares for the upright;
  snares for brave, and snares for the timorous;
  snares for the rich, and snares for the poor;
  snares for the aged, and snares for youth. 
Happy are those souls which are not captured
and held in the snares that he has laid!

Satan's first device to draw the soul into sin is, 
  to present the bait-and hide the hook; 
  to present the golden cup-and hide the poison; 
  to present the sweet, the pleasure, and the profit 
that may flow in upon the soul by yielding to sin-
and to hide from the soul the wrath and misery 
that will certainly follow the committing of sin!

By this device he deceived our first parents, "And the 
serpent said unto the woman, You shall not surely die
-for God knows, that in the day you eat thereof, then 
your eyes shall be opened; and you shall be as gods."
Your eyes shall he opened, and you shall be as gods! 
Here is the bait, the sweet, the pleasure, the profit. 
Oh-but he hides the hook-the shame, the wrath, 
and the loss that would certainly follow! So Satan
cheats them-giving them an apple in exchange for 
a paradise!

Satan with ease pawns falsehoods upon us, by his 
golden baits, and then he leads us and leaves us 
in a fool's paradise. He promises the soul honor, 
pleasure, profit-but pays the soul with the greatest 
contempt, shame, and loss that can be!

Alas! Many have fallen forever by this vile strumpet, 
the world, who, by showing forth her two fair breasts 
of PROFIT and PLEASURE, has wounded their souls, 
and cast them down into utter perdition! She has, 
by the glistening of her pomp and preferment, 
slain millions! 

27 August, 2013

A cooler Hell

This is an excerpt from the book " 

"Fire & Brimstone in Hell! - Don't Kid Yourself, Hell Is Real "

(Thomas Brooks, "The Crown and Glory of Christianity,
 or, HOLINESS, the Only Way to Happiness", 1662)

"God, I thank You that I'm not like other people-greedy, 
 unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 
 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get." 
 Luke 18:11-12
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Many please and satisfy themselves with mere civility and common morality. They bless themselves that they are not swearers, nor drunkards, nor extortioners, nor adulterers, 
etc. Their behavior is civil, sincere, harmless, and blameless.

But civility is not sanctity. Civility rested in-is but a beautiful abomination-a smooth way to hell and destruction.
Civility is very often . . .
  the nurse of impiety,
  the mother of flattery, and
  an enemy to real sanctity. 
There are those who are so blinded with the fair shows of civility-that they can neither see the necessity nor beauty of sanctity. There are those who now bless themselves in their common morality, whom at last God will scorn and cast off for lack of real holiness and purity.

A moral man may be an utter stranger . . .

  •   to God,
  •   to Christ,
  •   to Scripture,
  •   to the filthiness of sin,
  •   to the depths and devices of Satan,
  •   to their own hearts,
  •   to the new birth,
  •   to the great concerns of eternity, 
  •   to communion with Christ, 
  •   to the secret and inward ways and workings of the Spirit.

Well, sirs, remember this-though the moral man is good for 
many things-yet he is not good enough to go to heaven! He 
who rises to no higher pitch than civility and morality-shall 
never have communion with God in glory. The most moral 
man in the world, may be both Christless and graceless.

Morality is not sufficient to keep a man out of eternal misery. 
All morality can do, is to help a man to one of the best rooms 
and easiest beds which hell affords! For, as the moral man's 
sins are not so great as others-so his punishments shall not 
be so great as others. This is all the comfort that can be given 
to a moral man-that he shall have a cooler hell than 
others have. But this is but cold comfort.

Morality without piety is as a body without a soul. Will
God ever accept of such a stinking sacrifice? Surely not!

26 August, 2013

The Soul After Conversion - Part 1

This is an excerpt from the book: Are You Sure You Are Born Again!

That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. John 3:6

Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. John 3:6

Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives new life from heaven. John 3:6

No truth shines with clearer luster in the Divine word than that salvation, from first to last, is of God. It is convincingly and beautifully shown to be the work of the glorious Trinity in unity: each person of the Godhead occupying a distinct and peculiar office, and yet all engaged upon, and, as it were coalescing in this mighty undertaking. The Father is represented as giving His elect in covenant engagement to His Son, John 17. 2. The Son is represented as assuming in eternity the office of Surety, and in the "fulness of time" appearing in human form, and suffering for their sins upon the cross, Rom. 8. 3. The Holy Spirit is represented as convincing of sin, working faith in the heart, and leading to the atoning blood, John 16. 8. Thus is salvation shown to be the entire work of the Triune God, distinct in office, yet one in purpose. We have now more immediately to do with that department in the stupendous plan which is ascribed especially and peculiarly to God the eternal Spirit. 

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We have already viewed the sinner in the various phases of his unconverted state. How awful did that state appear! The understanding, the will, the affections were all dark, perverted and alienated from God, with enmity and death marking every unconverted man. We have seen this state reversed; the temple restored, and God dwelling again with men; the heart brought back to its lawful Sovereign, and clinging to Him with all the grasp of its renewed affections; darkness succeeded by light, enmity by love, ingratitude by praise- and the whole soul turning with the rapidity and certainty of the magnetic needle to God, the center of its high and holy attraction. To whose power are we to attribute this marvellous change? To the sinner himself? That cannot be; for the very principle that led to the first step in departure from God, and which still urges him on in every successive one, supplies him with no adequate power or motive to return. To the mere exercise of some other human agency? 

That is equally impossible; for in the whole empire of created intelligence God has nowhere delegated such power and authority to a single individual. We must look for the secret of this spiritual change outside of the creature, away from men and angels, and seek it in God the eternal Spirit. God looks within Himself for the power, and He finds it there, even in His own omnipotent Spirit. This is the great and spiritual truth we are now to consider: regeneration, the sole and special work of the Holy Spirit. The doctrine that assigns to human power an efficient part in the new birth is based upon the supposition that there is in man an inherent principle, the natural bias of which is to holiness; and that, because God has created him a rational being, endowed with a will, understanding, conscience, affections and other intellectual and moral properties, therefore the simple, unaided, voluntary exercise of these powers- a simple choosing of that which the conscience and the understanding point out to be good in view of certain motives presented to the mind- is all that is required to bring the soul into the possession of the Divine nature. With all meekness and affection, yet uncompromising regard for the glory of God, would we expose, on scriptural grounds alone, the fallacy and the dangerous tendency of this hypothesis. 

Begging the reader to bear in mind that which in the previous chapter has been advanced touching the actual state of the natural man, we would earnestly call his attention to the following passages. John 3. 6: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh." It is, morally, nothing but flesh. It is carnal, corrupt, depraved, sinful and has no discernment or perception whatever of spiritual things. This is the sense in which the term flesh, as opposed to spirit, is to be interpreted in God's Word. It signifies the corruption of nature. Gal. 5. 17 "For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other." Again, Rom. 8. 5-8: "For those who are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but those who are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then those who are in the flesh cannot please God." What further proof do we need of the natural sinfulness and impotence of man? And yet the powerful testimony borne to this by God's Word is by no means exhausted. 

Do we speak of his mind? Eph. 4. 18: "Having the understanding darkened." Of his knowledge? 1 Cor. 2. 14: "The natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." Of his heart? Eccles. 9. 3: "The heart of the sons of men is full of evil." Of his love to God? Rom. 8. 7: "Enmity." Of his ability to believe? John 12. 39: " They could not believe." Of his power to acknowledge Christ? I Cor. 12. 3: "No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit." Thus minute, clear and solemn is the testimony of the Holy Spirit Himself, touching the real amount of human power brought to bear upon the production of spiritual life in the soul of man. 

So far from cooperating with the Spirit in the new creation, the natural man presents every resistance and opposition to it. There is not only a passive aversion but an active resistance to the work. The stream of man's natural inclinations, as we have fully proved from the Scriptures of truth, runs counter to all holiness. A strong and steady current has set in against God, and all that God loves. The pride of reason, the perverseness of the will, the enmity of the mind, the heart's love of sin, all are up in arms against the entrance of the Holy Spirit. Satan, the great enemy of God and man, has been too long in quiet and undisturbed possession of the soul to resign his dominion without a strong and a fearful struggle to maintain it. When the Spirit of God knocks at the door of the heart, every ally is summoned by the "strong man armed" to "resist" the Spirit, and bar and bolt each avenue to His entrance........

25 August, 2013

God's Patience

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August 17, 1767.

It is indeed natural to us to wish and to plan, and it is merciful in the Lord to disappoint our plans, and to cross our wishes. For we cannot be safe, much less happy, but in proportion as we are weaned from our own wills, and made simply desirous of being directed by His guidance. This truth (when we are enlightened by His Word) is sufficiently familiar to the judgment; but we seldom learn to reduce it to practice, without being trained awhile in the school of disappointment. The schemes we form look so plausible and convenient, that when they are broken, we are ready to say, What a pity! 

We try again, and with no better success; we are grieved, and perhaps angry, and plan out another, and so on; at length, in a course of time, experience and observation begin to convince us, that we are not more able than we are worthy to choose aright for ourselves. Then the Lord's invitation to cast our cares upon Him, and His promise to take care of us, appear valuable; and when we have done planning, His plan in our favour gradually opens, and he does more and better for us than we either ask or think.I can hardly recollect a single plan of mine, of which I have not since seen reason to be satisfied, that had it taken place in season and circumstance just as I proposed, it would, humanly speaking, have proved my ruin; or at least it would have deprived me of the greater good the Lord had designed for me. 

We judge of things by their present appearances, but the Lord sees them in their consequences, if we could do so likewise we should be perfectly of His mind; but as we cannot, it is an unspeakable mercy that He will manage for us, whether we are pleased with His management or not; and it is spoken of as one of his heaviest judgments, when He gives any person or people up to the way of their own hearts, and to walk after their own counsels.Indeed we may admire His patience towards us. If we were blind, and reduced to desire a person to lead us, and should yet pretend to dispute with him, and direct him at every step, we should probably soon weary him, and provoke him to leave us to find the way by ourselves if we could. But our gracious Lord is long-suffering and full of compassion; He bears with our forwardness, yet He will take methods to both shame and to humble us, and to bring us to a confession that He is wiser than we.

 The great and unexpected benefits He intends us, by all the discipline we meet with, is to tread down our wills, and bring them into subjection to His. So far as we attain to this, we are out of the reach of disappointment; for when the will of God can please us, we shall be pleased every day, and from morning to night; I mean with respect to His dispensations. O the happiness of such a life! I have an idea of it; I hope I am aiming at it, but surely I have not attained it. Self is active in my heart, if it does not absolutely reign there. I profess to believe that one thing is needful and sufficient and yet my thoughts are prone to wander after a hundred more. 

If it be true that the light of His countenance is better than life, why am I solicitous about anything else? If He be all-sufficient, and gives me liberty to call Him mine, why do I go a-begging to creatures for help? If He be about my path and bed; if the smallest, as well as the greatest events in which I am concerned, are under His immediate direction; if the very hairs of my head are numbered then my care (any farther than a care to walk in the paths of His precepts, and to follow the openings of His providence) must be useless and needless, yea, indeed, sinful and heathenish, burdensome to myself, and dishonourable to my profession. Let us cast down the load we are unable to carry, and if the Lord be our Shepherd, refer all and trust all to Him.

 Let us endeavour to live to Him and for Him to-day, and be glad that to-morrow, with all that is behind it, is in His hands.It is storied of Pompey, that when his friends would have dissuaded him from putting to sea in a storm, he answered, It is necessary for me to sail, but it is not necessary for me to live. A pompous speech, in Pompey's sense! He was full of the idea of his own importance, and would rather have died than have taken a step beneath his supposed dignity. But it may be accommodated with propriety to a believer's case. 

It becomes us to say, It is not necessary for me to be rich, or what the world accounts wise; to be healthy, or admired by my fellow-worms; to pass through life in a state of prosperity and outward comfort,-these things may be, or they may be otherwise, as the Lord in His wisdom shall appoint;-but it is necessary for me to be humble and spiritual, to seek communion with God, to adorn my profession of the Gospel, and to yield submissively to His disposal, in whatever way, whether of service or suffering, He shall be pleased to call me to glorify Him in the world. It is not necessary for me to live long, but highly expedient that whilst I do live I should live to Him. Here, then, I would bound my desires; and here, having His word both for my rule and my warrant, I am secured from asking amiss. Let me have His presence and His Spirit, wisdom to know my calling, and opportunities and faithfulness to improve them; and as to the rest, Lord, help me to say, "What Thou wilt, when Thou wilt, and how Thou wilt."

24 August, 2013

The Inward Witness to the Ground & the Reality of Faith - Part 2

.....He has likewise received the water, considered as the emblem of sanctification. To a believer, all that the Scripture teaches concerning the nature, beauty, and necessity of holiness-as a living principle in the heart-carries conviction and evidence. A deliverance from the power, as well as from the guilt of sin, appears to be an important and essential part of salvation. He sees his original and his proper happiness, that nothing less than communion with God and conformity to him, is worth his pursuit. And therefore he can say, "My soul thirsts for you: I delight in the law of God after the inward man." In a word, his judgment and his choice are formed upon a new spiritual taste, derived from the written word, and correspondent with it, as the musical ear is adapted to relish harmony: so that what God has forbidden, appears hateful; what he has commanded, necessary; what he has promised, desirable; and what he has revealed, glorious. Whoever has these perceptions, has the witness in himself, that he has been taught of God, and believes in his Son.

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Again: From hence arises a solid evidence, that the Scripture is indeed the word of God, because it so exactly describes what is exemplified in the experience of all  who  are  subjects of a work of grace. While we are in a natural state, it is to us as a sealed book: though we can read it, and perhaps assent to the facts, we can no more understand our own  concernments  in what we read, than if it was  written  in an unknown tongue. But when the mind is enlightened by the Holy Spirit, the Scripture addresses us as it were by name, explains every difficulty under which we labored, and proposes an adequate and effectual remedy for the relief of all our needs and fears.

Lastly: It follows, that the hope of a believer is built upon a foundation that cannot be shaken, though it may and will be assaulted. It does not depend upon occasional and changeable frames, upon any that is precarious and questionable, but upon a correspondence and agreement with the written word. Nor does this agreement depend upon a train of labored arguments and deductions, but is self-evident, as light is to the eye, to every person who has a real participation of the grace of God. It is equally suited to all capacities. 

By this the unlearned are enabled to know their election of God, and "to rejoice with a joy unspeakable and full of glory." And the wisest, if destitute of this perception, though they may be masters of all the external evidences of Christianity, and able to combat the cavils of infidels, can see no real beauty in the truths of the Gospel, nor derive any solid comfort from them.
I have only sent you a few hasty hints: it would be easy to enlarge; but I sat down, not to write a book, but a letter. May this inward witness preside with power in our hearts, to animate our hopes, and to mortify our corruptions!

23 August, 2013

The Inward Witness to the Ground & the Reality of Faith - Part 1

I readily offer you my thoughts on 1Jo. 26
5:10; "He who believes on the Son of God, has the witness in himself;" though, perhaps, you will think I am writing a sermon, rather than a letter. If we believe in the Son of God, whatever trials we may meet with in the present life, our best concerns are safe, and our happiness is sure. If we do not, whatever else we have, or seem to have, we are in a state of condemnation; and, living and dying so, must perish. Thousands, it is to be feared, persuade themselves that they are believers, though they cannot stand the test of Scripture. And there are many real believers, who, through the prevalence of remaining unbelief, and the temptations of Satan, form hard conclusions against themselves, though the Scripture speaks peace to them. 

But how does this correspond with the passage before us, which asserts universally, "He who believes has the witness in himself?" for can a man have the witness in himself, and yet not know it? It may be answered, the evidence, in its own nature, is sufficient and infallible; but we are very apt, when we would form a judgment of ourselves, to add additional rules and marks of trial, which are not given us (for that purpose) in the Bible. That the word and Spirit of God do witness for his children, is a point in which many are agreed, who are far from being agreed as to the nature and manner of that witness. It is, therefore, very desirable, rightly to understand the evidence by which we are to judge whether we are believers or not.

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The importance and truth of the Gospel salvation is witnessed to in heaven, by "the Father, the Word, and the Spirit." It is witnessed to on earth, by "the Spirit, the water, and the blood," 1Jo. 26 5:7-8. The spirit, in 1Jo. 26 5:8, (I apprehend) denotes a Divine light in the understanding, communicated by the Spirit of God, enabling the soul to perceive and approve the truth. The water seems to intend the powerful influence of this knowledge and light in the work of sanctification. 

And the blood, the application of the blood of Jesus to the conscience, relieving it from guilt and fear, and imparting a "peace which passes all understanding." And he who believes has this united testimony of the Spirit, the water, and the blood; not by hearsay only, but in himself. According to the measure of his faith (for faith has various degrees), he has a living proof that the witness is true, by the effects wrought in his own heart.

These things, which God has joined together, are too often attempted to be separated. Attempts of this kind have been a principal source and cause of most of the dangerous errors and mistakes which are to be found among professors of religion. Some say much concerning the Spirit; and lay claim to an inward light, whereby they think they know the things of God. Others lay great stress upon the water; maintaining a regular conversation, abstaining from the defilement's of the world, and aiming at a mastery over their natural desires and tempers. 

But neither the one nor the other appear to be duly sensible of the value of the blood of atonement, as the sole ground of their acceptance, and the spring of their life and strength. Others, again, are all for the blood; can speak much of Jesus, and his blood and righteousness; though it does not appear that they are truly spiritually enlightened to perceive the beauty and harmony of Gospel truths, or that they pay a due regard to that "holiness without which no man can see the Lord."

But Jesus came, not by water only, or by blood only, but by water and blood; and the Spirit bears witness to both, because the Spirit is truth. The water alone affords but a cold, starched form of godliness, destitute of that enlivening power which is derived from a knowledge of the preciousness of Jesus, as the Lamb who was slain. And if any talk of the blood without the water, they do but turn the grace of God into licentiousness: so, likewise, to pretend to the Spirit, and at the same time to have low thoughts of Jesus, is a delusion and vanity; for the true Spirit testifies and takes of his glory, and presents it to the soul. But the real believer receives the united testimony, and has the witness in himself that he does so.

To have the witness in ourselves, is to have the truths that are declared in the Scripture, revealed in our hearts. This brings an experimental conviction, which may be safely depended on, "that we have received the grace of God in truth." A man born blind may believe that the sun is bright, upon the testimony of another; but, if he should obtain his sight, he would have the witness in himself. Believing springs from a sense and perception of the truths of the Gospel; and whoever has this spiritual perception is a believer. He has the witness in himself. He has received the Spirit: his understanding is enlightened, whereby he sees things to be as they are described in the word of God, respecting his own state by sin, and the utter impossibility of his obtaining relief by any other means than those proposed in the Gospel. These things are hidden from us by nature.

He has likewise received the blood. The knowledge of sin, and its demerits, if alone, would drive us to despair; but by the same light of the Spirit, Jesus is apprehended as a suitable and all-sufficient Savior. All that is declared concerning his person, offices, love, sufferings, and obedience, is understood and approved. Here the wounded and weary souls find healing and rest. Then the Apostle's language is adopted, "Yes, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord."