Oh! look before you, and see where it leads! “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. This, my friends, and this alone–is the way of salvation. Is this the way in which you are walking? Or is it the smooth, easy downward road to destruction? You may slide along that without exertion or difficulty, like a dead fish floating with the stream; but oh! look before you, and see where it leads! Most people form some easy system of religion, from their own vain imaginations, suited to their depraved taste, indulgent to their sloth and carnality, and favorable to their lusts–and this they call ‘Christianity’! But this is not the religion of the Bible! This is not the way to life laid out by God in His Word–but it is the smooth downward road to destruction! (Samuel Davies, “Saints Saved with Difficulty; and the Certain Perdition of the Wicked”)
I am a pilgrim in the world, but at home in my God! “Lord, You have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or You brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting You are God!” Psalm 90:1-2. The Christian knows no change with regard to God. He himself may be rich today–and poor tomorrow, he may be sickly today–and well tomorrow, he may be in happiness today–tomorrow he may be distressed;
but there is never any change with regard to his relationship to God. If He loved me yesterday–then He loves me today. My unmoving mansion of rest, is my blessed Lord. Let prospects be ruined, let hopes be blasted, let joy be withered, let mildews destroy everything, I have lost nothing of what I have in God. He is “my strong habitation where unto I can continually resort.” I am a pilgrim in the world, but at home in my God. In the earth I wander, but in God I dwell in a quiet habitation. “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign LORD is my strength!” Habakkuk 3:17-19. (Charles Spurgeon)
“Behold the Man!” John 19:5. If there is one place where our Lord Jesus most fully becomes the joy and comfort of His people–it is where He plunged deepest into the depths of woe. Come, behold the Man in the garden of Gethsemane. Behold His heart so brimming with love, that He cannot hold it in. Behold the bloody sweat as it distills from every pore of His body and falls upon the ground. Behold the Man upon the bloody tree. Stand amazed as they drive the nails into His hands and feet. Look up and see the sorrowful image of your suffering Lord. Mark Him as the ruby drops stand on the thorn crown. Behold the Man when all His bones are out of joint, and He is poured out like water and brought into the dust of death. God has forsaken Him–and Hell encompasses Him. Behold and see–was there ever sorrow like His sorrow? Gaze upon Him! We have only to sit longer at the cruel cross–to be less troubled with our trials and woes. We have but to see His sorrows–and we shall be ashamed to mention our sorrows. We have but to gaze into His wounds–and heal our own. If we would grow in grace–it must be by considering His humiliation and His sorrow. If we would live holily–it must be by the contemplation of His sin-atoning death. (Charles Spurgeon)
In a few years
“For we were born only yesterday and know nothing, and our days on earth are but a shadow.” Job 8:9. “He springs up like a flower and withers away; like a fleeting shadow, he does not endure.” Job 14:2.
“Only a few years will pass before I go on the journey of no return!” Job 16:22. “My days are like the evening shadow; I wither away like grass.” Psalm 102:11. “Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow.” Psalm 144:4. How transient is human life–yet no one lays it to heart. With the magnificence of eternity before us—let fleeting time, with all its fluctuations, dwindle into its own littleness. In a few years our heads will be laid in the cold grave, and the green turf will cover us. The children who come after us will tread upon our graves. They will weep for us a few days. They will talk of us a few months. They will remember us a few years. Then our memory shall disappear from the face of the earth, and not a tongue shall be found to recall it! The character with which we sink into the grave at death–is the very character with which we shall reappear at the final judgment! “O God, impress upon me the value of time–and give regulation to all my thoughts and to all my actions. O God, help me to live for Your glory. As the years roll over me, may I withdraw my affections from time, and feel that in moving through the world, I am moving toward eternity!” “So teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12. (Thomas Chalmers, 1780-1847)
They hope that they shall not have two Hells!
Because men suffer in this world–they assume they shall be freed from sufferings in the world to come. Because they have a Hell here–they imagine that they shall escape Hell hereafter. They hope that they shall not have two Hells! Poor, deluded soul! You may and must have two Hells. Cain, and Judas, and millions of reprobate men and women, have two Hells–one in this life, in torments of body–and another in the life to come, in unquenchable fire. You may have a prison on earth–and a dungeon in Hell. You may now lack a crumb of bread–and hereafter lack a drop of water. You may now be the reproach of men–and hereafter the scorn of God Himself. Affliction alone is not enough to evidence a man to be a saved man. Blows may sooner break the neck, than the heart! Afflictions are in themselves, the fruit of divine wrath–and therefore cannot possibly of themselves make the least argument of God’s love to the soul. God forbid that a man should take that for his security from Hell–which may be but the foretaste of Hell! Present afflictions, may be the pledge of endless misery. In many cases it is to be feared that the cup of affliction, is a vial of wrath–and that the plagues of this life, are but some drops of that coming storm of fire and brimstone, wherein impenitent sinners shall be scorched and tormented forever! (Thomas Case, “The Rod and the Word, A Treatise on Afflictions” 1653)
Afflictions make Heaven appear as Heaven indeed!
To the weary, Heaven is rest;
to the banished, it is home;
to the scorned and reproached, it is glory;
to the captive, it is liberty;
to the soldier, it is victory;
to the hungry, it is hidden manna;
to the thirsty, it is the fountain of life;
to the grieved, it is fullness of joy; and
to the mourner, it is pleasures forevermore.
In a word, to those who have lain upon the dunghill of affliction and walked in holiness, Heaven is the throne on which they shall sit and reign with Christ forever and ever! (Thomas Case, “The Rod and the Word, A Treatise on Afflictions” 1653)
The Family Disease: “He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves, that they were righteous.” Luke 18:9. The sin which our Lord here denounces, is “self-righteousness.” We are all naturally self-righteous. It is the family disease of all the children of Adam. From the highest to the lowest–we think more highly of ourselves than we ought to. We secretly flatter ourselves that we are not as bad as some, and that we have something to merit the favor of God. We forget the plain testimony of Scripture: “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.” “What is man, that he could be pure; or one born of woman, that he could be righteous?” “There is no one righteous, not even one!” The true cure for self-righteousness, is self-knowledge. Once let the eyes of our understanding be opened by the Spirit–and we shall talk no more of our own goodness. Once let us see what sin there is in our own hearts, and what the holy law of God requires–and self-conceit will die. We shall lay our hand on our mouths, and cry with the leper, “Unclean, unclean!” Leviticus 13:45. “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:32. “Christ died for the ungodly!” Romans 5:6. (J.C. Ryle)