Riches and Poverty! Many in every age have disturbed society by stirring up the poor against the rich. But so long as the world is under the present order of things, universal equality cannot be attained. So long as some are wise, and some are foolish; some are strong, and some are weak; some are healthy, and some are diseased; so long as children reap the fruit of their parent’s misconduct; so long as sun, and rain, and heat, and cold, and wind, and waves, and drought, and blight, and storm, and tempest are beyond man’s control – so long will there be inequality in this world. Take all the property in England by force this day, and divide it equally among the inhabitants. Give every person over twenty years old an equal portion. Let all share alike, and begin the world over again. Do this, and see where you would be at the end of fifty years. You would just have come round to the point where you began! You would just find things as unequal as before! Some would have worked–and some would have been lazy; some would have been always careless–and some always scheming; some would have sold–and others would have bought; some would have wasted–and others would have saved. And the end would be that some would be rich–and others would be poor. Settle it in your mind that the main cause of all the suffering you see around you, is sin. Sin is the grand cause of the enormous luxury of the rich–and the painful degradation of the poor; of the heartless selfishness of the highest classes–and the helpless poverty of the lowest. Sin must be first cast out of the world; the hearts of all people must be renewed and sanctified; the devil must be bound; the Prince of Peace must come down and take His great power and reign – all this must be before there ever can be universal happiness, or the gulf be filled up which now divides the rich and poor. Labor to do good to all men; pity your poorer brethren, and help every reasonable endeavor to raise them from their low estate. Do not slacken your hand from any endeavor to increase knowledge, to promote morality, to improve the temporal condition of the poor. But never, never forget that you live in a fallen world, that sin is all around you, and that the devil is abroad. (J.C. Ryle)
The world and the Church are essentially and eternally distinct–and they ought to be distinguishable. The Church ought not to mix with the world–but to bear a practical testimony against it, that its works and ways are evil. All through our Lord’s prayer, He keeps up the distinction, and twice over He asserts of His disciples, “They are not of the world–even as I am not of the world!”
Believers are not of the world. They are born from above, and possess a nature far superior to that of the world, which unfits them for its pleasures and pursuits; and qualifies them for the enjoyments and employments of the heavenly world. They are delivered from the thraldom of the world–and are raised above its pursuits and its joys. They will not be conquered by the world–but overcome it by faith. They will not be judged with it–but with Christ will sit in judgment upon it. They will not be punished like it–neither in the present nor in the future state. True believers are not of the world! Look at the world’s state–condemned; and theirs, justified! Look at its condition–wretched; and theirs, happy! Look at its character–enemies to God; and theirs, the friends of God! Look at its course–sin; and theirs, holiness! Look at its god–Satan, the most degraded, depraved, and despicable being in existence; and theirs, Jehovah, the high and lofty one, the holy and happy one, the great and glorious one! Look at its end–destruction; and theirs, salvation! The world is darkness–they are light. The world is corrupt–they are purified. The world is in chains–they are free. (James Smith, “The Wondrous Love of Christ, as Displayed in His Intercessory Prayer!” 1861)
The Gospel of Christ, the glorious Gospel of the blessed God, is the only effectual means for reforming mankind. To the man who possesses and knows the use of this grand, this wonderful machine, if I may be allowed the comparison–what is otherwise impossible becomes easy. The Gospel removes difficulties insurmountable to human power. It causes the blind to see, it causes the deaf to hear; it softens the heart of stone, and raises the dead in trespasses and sins, to a life of righteousness. No force but that of the Gospel is sufficient to remove the mountainous load of guilt from an awakened conscience, to calm the violence of tumultuous passions, to raise an earthly soul from groveling in the mire of sensuality or avarice – to a spiritual and divine life, a life of communion with God. No system but the Gospel can communicate motives, encouragements, and prospects–sufficient to withstand and counteract all the snares and temptations with which the spirit of this world, by its frowns or its smiles, will endeavor either to intimidate or to bribe us from the path of duty. But the Gospel, rightly understood and cordially embraced, will inspire the slothful with energy and the fearful with courage. It will make the miser generous, melt the grouch into kindness, tame the raging tiger in the bosom, and, in a word, expand the narrow selfish heart and fill it with a spirit of love to God, cheerful unreserved obedience to His will, and benevolence to mankind. (Letters of John Newton)
“No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servants will serve Him. They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever!” Revelation 22:3-5. This vision of Heaven, how wondrous it is! What a contrast to this poor earth of ours. Streets of gold, and seas of glass, and pearly gates, and rivers and trees of life–in exchange for this vile dust and dross, and worthless ugliness, and for these fruits of pain and death! A realm of splendid light, without a sun! A world, without a sea! Bodies, without pain! Faces, with no tears and no furrows of grief! Hearts, without sighs! Duration, without mutation and reverse! Life, without age or decay! No death! Creatures, but no death! Day, bright, blazing, gorgeous day–but no night! (“No Night in Heaven!” George Conder, 1821-1874)
“Many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able!” Luke 13:24. I do not wonder that so many are deceived, when I see the careless way in which they deal with their souls. When men have to do with their estates, they are very careful; they pay a lawyer to go back over the title-deeds perhaps for two or three hundred years. In trade they will hurry hither and thither to attend to their commercial engagements; they would not launch into speculations, nor would they run great risks. But the soul, the poor soul–how men play with it as a toy, and despise it as if it were worthless! Two or three minutes in the morning when they first roll out of bed; two or three odd minutes in the evening, when they are nearly asleep–the fag-ends of the day given to their souls, and all the best part given to the body! And then, with what indifference do you lend your ears too often to the preaching of the Word! It is an old song–you have heard it so many times. Heaven has become a trifle to you, Hell is almost a jest, eternity an empty notion, and death but a bugbear! Alas! it is a marvel that there are not more deceived. The wonder is that any find the gate, that any discover eternal life, when we are so, so mad, so foolish, so insane–as to trifle where we ought to be solemnly in earnest; and to play and toy–where the whole heart should be given to a work of such everlasting importance. God help us, since it is so easy to be deceived–to search, and watch, and look, and test, and try, that we be not found castaways at the last! “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it!” Matthew 7:13-14. “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test?” 2 Corinthians 13:5. (Charles Spurgeon)
(Letters of William Romaine, 1714-1795)
May Jesus be yours–all that He is, and all that He has. Then you will be as rich as an archangel! May He captivate you more with His infinite beauty and enable you to live more blessedly upon His infinite fullness, that He may keep His royal court in your soul! The more you are acquainted with Him, the more you will grow in love to Him; for He is altogether lovely, an immense ocean of everlasting love! The loveliness of the whole world is but a drop compared to His immeasurable love. What must Heaven be, where His love is to be fully manifested and enjoyed forever! There we shall see Him! Oh, for that day! But even along our pilgrim way, He walks with us and makes our hearts burn within us. These sweet foretastes of His love draw us on and whet our appetite for Heaven. A few more of these foretastes, and we shall get to the fountainhead and drink rivers of pleasure forevermore! To His precious dear heart’s love, I commend you and yours, and am for His sake your friend and servant, William Romaine
“When the Comforter comes . . . He will testify about Me.” John 15:26. He shall testify to My person as self-existent Jehovah. He shall bear witness to My work as the perfect sin-atoner. He shall testify of My grace, how free it is, how full it is. He shall enable the sinner, any poor wretch, however vile in his own eyes–to trust his soul into the hands of Jesus. And having enabled the sinner to do this, then He will testify of Jesus, that He has received him, that he is safe in the arms and may be happy in the enjoyment of Jesus’ love. Thus He will make the soul enamored with Jesus! There will appear such consummate beauty, such infinite loveliness in His precious person, as will eclipse the glory of all other lovers. There will appear such true happiness in fellowship with Him, as will quite dethrone all former idols. And when the foolish heart would depart, the Comforter will not let it. Then will He testify of Jesus, “To whom would you go? Who has eternal life to give, but Him? Turn, turn again to your rest, oh my soul.” If the soul is mourning; He will testify of the joy that is in Jesus. If the soul is burdened; “Cast the burden,” He says, “on your Lord Jesus.” If the soul has lost any creature comfort; “Let it go,” He says, “Jesus is still your salvation and your great reward.” If the soul is grieved with indwelling sin; “It is pardoned,” He says, “you are free from the curse of sin.” Whatever the needs of the believer are, the Spirit’s office is to testify of Jesus: “Jesus is what you need–and you have Him freely.” The Comforter will keep you by His almighty power, until He brings you to the Heaven of heavens–the sight and enjoyment of dear Jesus, eternally dear and lovely Jesus! (Letters of William Romaine, 1714-1795)
“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand!” Psalm 16:11. True happiness is not to be found in this life. It is a flower that only grows in the garden of eternity, and to be expected in its full fruition only in that life which is to come. If we do but seriously believe the truth of the gospel, the best things of this world will seem of small importance; and the worst things this world can inflict will seem but of little consequence. The worst things that this world can inflict will appear too light to provoke us to impatience or discontent. He who has everlasting glory in prospect, will have a mind full of contentment in the darkest condition here. This poor world is the place of our travel and pilgrimage, and, at the best, our temporary inn. Our home, our country, is Heaven, where there are no sorrows, nor fears, nor troubles. In my Father’s house there are mansions, many mansions, instead of my inn. My Savior Himself has gone before me to prepare a place for me. I will therefore content myself with the inconveniences of my short journey, for my accommodations will be inconceivable when I come to my true home, that heavenly inheritance which is the place of my eternal happiness. “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints!” Ephesians 1:18. (Matthew Hale 1600-1675)
“My times are in Your hand!” Psalm 31:15. Every event is under Divine control. Nothing is left to ‘chance’. The hand of God is in all that occurs: directing, overruling, and sanctifying everything to our good and His glory. He appointed all that concerns us, and appointed all in infinite wisdom and love. Therefore we should not judge rashly–or conclude hastily. We know not what may occur today–but we know that the purpose of God cannot be frustrated, nor can His purpose fail. He works all things after the counsel of His own will. He says, “My purpose shall stand–and I will do all My pleasure.” But this is our comfort, that He takes pleasure in His people, and in the prosperity of His redeemed ones. Let us consider, then, that everything that happens to us passes under our Father’s eye; is overruled by our Savior’s power; is directed by the Holy Spirit to do us good. It shall not be as our enemies wish, or as our hearts fear; but as our God and Father pleases, and has ordained. Therefore do not be anxious, troubled, or cast down! The Lord God omnipotent reigns–and He is your Father and your God! He shall preserve you from all evil–He shall preserve your soul. “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28. (James Smith)
When you go through a trial, the sovereignty of God is the soft pillow upon which you lay your head. There is no attribute of God more comforting to His children than the doctrine of Divine Sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe troubles, they believe that Sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that Sovereignty overrules them, and that Sovereignty will sanctify them all. (C. H. Spurgeon)
C. H. Spurgeon on Sickness
- I venture to say that the greatest earthly blessing that God can give to any of us is health–with the exception of sickness. Sickness has frequently been of more use to the saints of God than health has.
- Those who dive in the sea of affliction–bring up rare pearls!
- Is there anything in the world that is worthy to be compared with the incalculable mercy of forgiven sin?
What if I am poor? Yet I am forgiven!
What if I am sickly? Yet I am forgiven!
What if I shall soon die? Yet I am forgiven!
- The groans of sick, yet submissive saints–are as musical to God’s ear as the hallelujahs of archangels!
- Why must we have a severe sickness or affliction in order to drive us to God and bring us to our knees? We must go to God in every time of peril and trouble–even in the minor trials and difficulties of life.
- It is well to praise the Lord for His mercy when you are in health–but make sure that you do it when you are sick, for then your praise is more likely to be genuine.
- The prayer of faith is not always literally answered. God, sometimes, instead of taking away the sickness or the death–gives us grace that we may profit by the sickness, or that we may triumph in the hour of death.
- Restoration from sickness should always be ascribed to God. Whatever part the physician may play, and he often plays a very important part–yet to God, who gives the physician wisdom and skill, must the gracious result be ascribed.
- You believe in God for the salvation of your soul.
Believe in Him about your temporal circumstances.
Believe in God about your sick wife or your dying child.
Believe in God about your losses and bad debts and declining business.
- Sickness may deprive us of a thousand comforts–but there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God!
- We are seldom grateful for good health. God knows that we need to be sick, sometimes, to make us know the value of health–and therefore He sends us to the bed of sickness that we may learn a lesson of gratitude.
- The weaklings and the sickly of the flock are the special objects of the Savior’s care.