A man preacheth that sermon only well unto others which preacheth itself in his own soul. And he that doth not feed on and thrive in the digestion of the food which he provides for others will scarce make it savoury unto them; yea, he knows not but the food he hath provided may be poison, unless he have really tasted of it himself. If the word do not dwell with power in us, it will not pass with power from us.
The love of God is like himself "" equal, constant, not capable of augmentation or diminution; our love is like ourselves "" unequal, increasing, waning, growing, declining. His, like the sun, always the same in its light, though a cloud may sometimes interpose; ours, as the moon, has its enlargements and straightenings.
When sin lets us alone we may let sin alone; but as sin is never less quiet than when it seems to be most quiet, and its waters are for the most part deep when they are still, so ought our contrivances against it to be vigorous at all times and in all conditions, even where there is least suspicion.
The new goddess contingency could not be erected until the God of heaven was utterly despoiled of his dominion over the sons of men, and in the room thereof a home-bred idol of self-sufficiency set up, and the world persuaded to worship it. But that the building climb no higher, let all men observe how the word of God overthrows this babylonian tower.
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I have known some good men who have been so addicted to their study, that they have thought the last day of the week sufficient to prepare for their ministry, though they employ all the rest of the week in other studies. But your business is to trade with your spiritual abilities. ... A man may preach a very good sermon, who is otherwise himself; but he will never make a good minister of Jesus Christ, whose mind and heart are not always in the work. Spiritual gifts will require continual ruminating on the things of the Gospel in our minds.
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Sin also carries on its war by entangling the affections and drawing them into an alliance against the mind. Grace may be enthroned in the mind, but if sin controls the affections, it has seized a fort from which it will continually assault the soul. Hence, as we shall see, mortification is chiefly directed to take place upon the affections.
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Consider who and what you are; who the Spirit is that is grieved, what he has done for you, what he comes to your soul about, what he has already done in you; and be ashamed. Among those who walk with God, there is no greater motive and incentive unto universal holiness, and the preserving of their hearts and spirits in all purity and cleanness than this: That the blessed Spirit, who has undertaken to dwell in them, is continually considering what they give entertainment in their hearts unto, and rejoices when his temple is kept undefiled.
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Let our hearts admit, "I am poor and weak. Satan is too subtle, too cunning, too powerful; he watches constantly for advantages over my soul. The world presses in upon me with all sorts of pressures, pleas, and pretences. My own corruption is violent, tumultuous, enticing, and entangling. As it conceives sin, it wars within me and against me. Occasions and opportunities for temptation are innumerable. No wonder I do not know how deeply involved I have been with sin. Therefore, on God alone will I rely for my keeping. I will continually look to Him.
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When we realize a constant enemy of the soul abides within us, what diligence and watchfulness we should have! How woeful is the sloth and negligence then of so many who live blind and asleep to this reality of sin. There is an exceeding efficacy nad power in the indwelling sin of believers, for it constantly inclines itself towards evil. We need to be awake, then, if our hearts would know the ways of God. Our enemy is not only upon us, as it was with Samson, but it is also in us.
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Not to be daily employing the Spirit and new nature for the mortifying of sin is to neglect that excellent succor which God has given us against our greatest enemy. If we neglect to make use of what we have received, God may justly hold his hand from giving us more. His graces, as well as his gifts, are bestowed on us to use, exercise, and trade with. Not to be daily mortifying sin is to sin against the goodness, kindness, wisdom, grace, and love of God, who has furnished us with a principle of doing it.
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Sin aims always at the utmost; every time it rises up to tempt or entice, might it have its own course, it would go out to the utmost sin in that kind. Every unclean thought or glance would be adultery if it could; every covetous desire would be oppression, every thought of unbelief would be atheism, might it grow to its head. Men may come to that, that sin may not be heard speaking a scandalous word in their hearts - that is, provoking to any great sin with scandal in its mouth; but yet every rise of lust, might it have its course, would come to the height of villainy: it is like the grave that is never satisfied.
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I will not judge a person to be spiritually dead whom I have formerly judged to have had spiritual life, though I see him at present in a swoon as to evidences of the spiritual life. And the reason why I will not judge him so is this - because if you judge a person dead, you neglect him, you leave him; but if judge him to be in a swoon, though never so dangerous, you use all means for the retrieving of his life.
We, according to the Scriptures, plainly believe that Christ hath, by his righteousness, merited for us grace and glory; that we are blessed with all spiritual blessings, in, through, and for him; that he is made unto us righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption; that he hath procure for us, and that God for his sake bestoweth on us, every grace in this life that maketh us differ from others, and all that glory we hope for in that which is to come; he procured for us remission of all our sins, an actual reconciliation with God, faith, and obedience.
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The love of God is like himself - equal, constant, not capable of augmentation or diminution; our love is like ourselves - unequal, increasing, waning, growing, declining. His, like the sun, always the same in its light, though a cloud may sometimes interpose; ours, as the moon, has its enlargements and straightenings.
A man may beat down the bitter fruit from an evil tree until he is weary; while the root abides in strength and vigour, the beating down of the present fruit will not hinder it from bringing forth more. This is the folly of some men; they set themselves with all earnestness and diligence against the appearing eruption of lust, but, leaving the principle and root untouched, perhaps unsearched out, they make but little or no progress in this work of mortification.
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The duties God requires of us are not in proportion to the strength we possess in ourselves. Rather, they are proportional to the resources available to us in Christ. We do not have the ability in ourselves to accomplish the least of God's tasks. This is the law of grace. When we recognize it is impossible for us to perform a duty in our own strength, we will discover the secret of its accomplishment.
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Though we are commanded to 'wash ourselves', to 'cleanse ourselves from sins', to 'purge ourselves from all our iniquities', yet to imagine that we can do these things by our own efforts is to trample on the cross and grace of Jesus Christ. Whatever God works in us by his grace, he commands us to do as our duty. God works all in us and by us.
Our great Pattern hath showed us what our deportment ought to be in all suggestions and temptations. When the devil showed Him "all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them," to tempt Him withal, He did not stand and look upon them, viewing their glory, and pondering their empire.... but instantly, without stay, He cries, "Get thee hence, Satan." Meet thy temptation in its entrance with thoughts of faith concerning Christ on the cross; this will make it sink before thee. Entertain no parley, no dispute with it, if thou wouldst not enter into it.
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Faith is the leading grace in all our spiritual warfare and conflict; but all along, while we live, it hath faithful company that adheres to it and helps it. Love works, and hope works, and all other graces - self-denial, readiness to the cross - they all work and help faith. Yet when we come to die, faith is left alone. Now, try what faith will do. Not to be surprised with any thing is the substance of human wisdom; not to be surprised with death is a great part of the substance of our spiritual wisdom.
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Because he is; that is, because he is an infinitely glorious, good, wise, holy, powerful, righteous, self-subsisting , self-sufficient , and all-sufficient being; the fountain and author of all being and good; the first cause, last end, and sovereign Lord of all; therefore, he is to be worshipped: therefore, are we to admire, adore, and love him; to praise, to trust and to fear him.
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Some relate . . . that the eagle tries the eyes of her young by turning them to the sun; which if they cannot look steadily on, she rejects them as spurious. We may truly try our faith by immediate intuitions of the Sun of Righteousness. Direct faith to act itself, immediately and directly on the incarnation of Christ and His mediation; and if it be not the right kind and race, it will turn its eyes aside to anything else.
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Believers obey Christ as the one whom our obedience is accepted by God. Believers know all their duties are weak, imperfect, and unable to abide in God's presence. Therefore they look to Christ as the one who bears the iniquity of their holy things, who adds incense to their prayers, gathers out all the weeds from their duties and makes them acceptable to God.
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Many there are who, not comprehending, not being affected with, that divine, spiritual description of the person of Christ which is given us by the Holy Ghost in the Scripture, do feign unto themselves false representations of him by images and pictures, so as to excite carnal and corrupt affections in their minds. By the help of their outward senses, they reflect on their imaginations the shape of a human body, cast into postures and circumstances dolorous or triumphant; and so, by the working of their fancy, raise a commotion of mind in themselves, which they suppose to be love unto Christ.
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...but let it suffice us to know that it became God, who is the supreme Ruler, Governor and Judge of all that sin should be punished with death in the sinner or his surety; and therefore if God would bring many sons to glory, the Captain of their salvation must undergo sufferings and death, to make satisfaction for them.
To believe that He will preserve us is, indeed, a means of preservation. God will certainly preserve us, and make a way of escape for us out of the temptation, should we fall. We are to pray for what God has already promised. Our requests are to be regulated by His promises and commands. Faith embraces the promises and so finds relief.
The Scripture abounds in commands and cautions for our utmost diligence in our search and inquiry as to whether we are made partakers of Christ or not, or whether His Spirit dwells in us or not-which argue both the difficulty of attaining an assured confidence herein, as also the danger of our being mistaken, and yet the certainty of a good issue upon the diligent and regular use of means to that purpose.
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The vigour, and power, and comfort of our spiritual life depends on the mortification of the deeds of the flesh...The choicest believers, who are assuredly freed from the condemning power of sin, ought yet to make it their business all their days to mortify the indwelling power of sin...Do you mortify; do you make it your daily work; be always at it whilst you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.
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Great winds and storms help fruit-bearing trees. So also do corruptions and temptations help the fruitfulness of grace and holiness. The storm loosens the earth round its roots so the tree is able to get its roots deeper into the earth, where it receives fresh supplies of nourishment. But only much later will it be seen to bring forth better fruit. So corruptions and temptations develop the roots of humility, self-abasement and mourning in a deeper search for that grace by which holiness grows strong. But only later will there be visible fruits of increased holiness.
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In this would I live; in this would I die; upon this would I dwell in my thoughts and affections, to the withering and consumption of all the painted beauties of this world, to the crucifying all things here below, until they become to me a dead and deformed thing, no way suitable for affectionate embraces.
The growth of trees and plants takes place so slowly that it is not easily seen. Daily we notice little change. But, in course of time, we see that a great change has taken place. So it is with grace. Sanctification is a progressive, lifelong work (Prov 4:18). It is an amazing work of God's grace and it is a work to be prayed for (Rom 8:27).
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God hath work to do in this world; and to desert it because of its difficulties and entanglements, is to cast off His authority. It is not enough that we be just, that we be righteous, and walk with God in holiness; but we must also serve our generation, as David did before he fell asleep. God hath a work to do; and not to help Him is to oppose Him.