Too Old to Be Useful

“Well, it is a pleasant sight to see young people actively engaged in doing good!” said an old lady, as she watched from her parlor window some of her grand-children setting forth on their weekly errands of mercy to the poor and afflicted.

Yes; it was a pleasant sight to look upon these youthful Christians, full of health and energy, devoting their time and their talents to the service of God and the welfare of their fellow-creatures; and yet the old lady sighed as she finished her sentence, and did not seem quite comfortable. Why? Listen to what she is saying now:

“Ah, I was once as busy as any of them. I could take a class in the Sunday-school, and visit the poor, and collect for the missionary society; but now I am forced to be idle and useless. My strength and my senses are gradually forsaking me; and I am but a worn-out and unprofitable servant. But come, I must not complain; I have had my share in these good works in bygone days, and I must be content to lie by now and let others labor; for I am too old to be of any use.”

Was the old lady right? She meant what she said, and she meant well. She was trying to bear with patience and resignation her unavoidable exclusion from the charitable engagements of her young relatives; but old people as well as young sometimes have mistaken ideas; and it is possible that the old lady was not quite so clear upon the subject of Christian usefulness as we should like our readers to be.

It is true that the aged cannot work in God’s vineyard as they used to do before infirmity or ill-health disabled them for active service — but still they are not too old to be useful.

Too old to be useful! Such words are a libel upon their characters — an insult to their capabilities. It cannot be that any Christian is continued upon earth who has not something to do — as well as to suffer for his Master. Look at the closing days of the venerable Eliot, the first missionary to the American Indians. On the day of his death, when in his eightieth year, he was found teaching the alphabet to an Indian child at his bedside. “Why not rest from your labors, now?” said a friend. “Because,” said the venerable man, “I have prayed to God to make me useful in my sphere, and he has heard my prayer; for now that I can no longer preach, he leaves me strength enough to teach this poor child this alphabet.”

Eighty years of age and bed-ridden! Who after this can plead their inability to do good? Who will not rather gather up their remaining time and talents and devote them to God’s service? Like the widow’s mite, your offering may seem poor and small; you are almost ashamed to cast it into the treasury; but bring it without hesitation — nay with gladness. What could give you more? it is your all; and your feeble efforts will meet with kind and gracious acknowledgment from a loving Savior, who said, “She has done what she could!”

Oh, it is so delightful to labor for Christ that the true-hearted Christian would gladly keep on as Eliot did to the last. Rev. John Campbell, of Kingsland, went one morning to attend an early committee meeting of a religious society. On his way up-stairs he found an old friend, remarkable for his devotedness to the cause of Christ, leaning on the banister which led to the room, and unable to proceed from a difficulty of breathing.

“What! are you here, Mr. T? How could you venture in your state of health? You have attended our meetings for a long time, and you should now leave the work for younger men.”

His friend looked up with a cheerful smile, and replied, with characteristic energy, “Oh, Johnny, Johnny, man, it is hard to give up working in the service of such a Master.”

How cheering then is the thought that the aged have still opportunities of usefulness afforded them! Suppose we remind our readers of a few ways in which they have it in their power to benefit others.

Well, some of you, perhaps, who cannot walk about and visit your neighbors, might send them a little tract and book occasionally. A person dies in your street — a child is born in the next house — a worldly family opposite are in trouble — a gentleman has met with an accident —  — all these, and many others, are occasions when “a little messenger of mercy” might speak “a word in season.” Listen to the following fact:

A man who was keeper of one of the locks on the Grand Junction Canal lived for many years apparently without any religious feelings. He possessed much personal kindness, and had been the means of saving at least twelve people from a watery grave, some of whom had plunged into the stream in seasons of frantic sorrow. In the summer of 1841 poor Matthew met with a severe accident, and was removed to the London Hospital. After he had been there a few days, he received a letter by post — of which the following is a copy — enclosing a tract entitled “Today!”

“You have suffered greatly, my friend; your poor body calls for help and sympathy, and in the hospital you are mercifully attended to, as you could not be at home. How is it with your precious soul? Are you fit to die? Had your sufferings caused instant death, where would your soul have been? Where, my friend? Where? In Heaven — or in Hell? Do think of this inquiry, and read the tract I enclose. Do not neglect this friendly warning — but attend to it while it is yet with you called ‘Today.’ Oh! what a mercy you were spared yet a little longer! May it be for the salvation of your precious soul. The Lord Jesus is able and willing to save all who feel their need of his salvation. Pray, then, afflicted friend, for the Holy Spirit to show you your need of mercy, and of the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ to cleanse you from your sins, and to obtain your acceptance with God. This tract was written by a gentleman seventy years old. May the Lord make it a blessing to your soul. He is able and willing to save you from going to Hell, and willing to prepare you for the holiness and happiness of Heaven. — Farewell.”

There was no signature to the letter; it bore the “Stroudwater” postmark — but Matthew knew no one residing there. However, the perusal of the letter induced him to read the tract; the Holy Spirit blessed it to his conversion; and he became a consistent Christian. He wished very much that he could find out who had sent him the tract; and a kind friend to whom this interesting fact was mentioned thought that he knew the person from whom it came. He wrote accordingly, and received the following note, which proved that his conjecture was right:

“My dear sir: It was in hours of weakness, and during a long detention from the house of the Lord, that I was directed one Sabbath-day to write the letter to which you refer. It used to be a saying with myself, to myself, on doing any such thing, ‘Well, I have cast one grain more of the good seed of the kingdom into the field of the world — that world which still lies in wickedness,’ I bless the Lord he permitted me to cast in that grain, and I praise him still more that he caused it to germinate and bring forth fruit. Glory be to his holy name, that he has seen fit to glorify the riches of his grace in the salvation of a soul by means in themselves so weak and poor. Several other such grains have been cast into the field of the world. Oh, that it may please the Lord to cause them to be fruitful also!”

Now, reader, let the example of this pious invalid win you in some measure to follow it. It does not, you see, require much money, much talent, much influence, or much strength to be useful. A few kind words written, or a good tract enclosed to an acquaintance or even to a stranger, may be the appointed channel through which God’s grace shall flow into their seals. “Cast your bread upon the waters: for you shall find it after many days.”

Then there is the influence which you may exert over children and young people. Not by fault-finding, or selfish requirements, or sarcastic observations; but by kind words, persuasive advice, and affectionate treatment. Your little grand-children, or your elder nephews and nieces, as they cluster round your cheerful fireside, may drink in many a gentle lesson which shall guide them in after years. If you have not any youthful relatives, you can cultivate the acquaintance of the children of your friends and neighbors. It is a lovely sight to see old age and youth sweetly blending together — old age tempering the gaiety of youth, and youth brightening the gravity of old age. The ivy adorns the oak — and the oak supports the ivy. “But young people,” you may say, “are so self-willed and conceited; they think they are as wise as old folks.” It is often too true — but bear with them; we have all been young in our time; and it is astonishing how grateful even the most independent among them are for a real and warm-hearted interest in their welfare. You may influence them strongly, if you are only kind in purpose and judicious in practice.

Sympathize with them in their joys and their sorrows. Show them that increase of years does not necessarily blunt the feelings or narrow the affections; that the pilgrim who has almost reached his welcome and long-expected resting-place does not forget or despise those who have but lately set out on their toilsome journey. Speak to them of your own experience of actual life; of the mental and moral discipline which you have endured; of the difficulties in the path of duty which you have met and conquered; of the comfort which has sustained you in the hour of trial and bereavement. Simple facts are more impressive than mere advice. Quietly but deeply they sink into the memory, arousing no opposition, exciting no argument; in time of need they will be remembered and turned to good account. You may thus be the honored instrument of guiding some wayward and careless heart to true peace and happiness; of imparting right principles which shall steer some perplexed spirit across the rough sea of temptation; of forming the character of those who are destined in coming years to exercise great moral power over their fellow-creatures. You may not — you will not — live to behold those happy results of your patient and prayerful efforts; but when those who die in the Lord rest from their labors, their works follow them.

An aged man carefully planted several fruit-trees in his garden, that they might grow up for the use and benefit of posterity; so may you cast into human hearts, that precious seed which will germinate and spring forth and bless the world long after you have departed to your rest. The destiny of future generations may be linked with your Christian endeavor. God grant that you may fully appreciate and fulfill your peculiar mission to the young.

But perhaps the best way in which the aged Christian — yes, and any Christian — can benefit others, is by the purity and loveliness of his example. You cannot now do much or say much for the good of your fellow-creatures; but “nothing speaks so loudly as the silent eloquence of a holy and consistent life;” nothing exercises such gentle and yet such powerful influence over the mind, as the example of one whom we love and respect. It is a practical and perpetual sermon.

Look into that quiet and half-darkened room. In the large easy-chair sits an aged lady. She is confined by constant ailment to her chair, for she cannot move herself without assistance. Her friends are forbidden to see her, as the least excitement proves injurious; and therefore a skillful nurse and a loving-hearted daughter are her only associates. But she does not wish for society; incessant pain renders her unable to converse much, and the exertion of speaking but a few words fatigues her sadly. Poor lady! the days have indeed come in which she has no pleasure; the grasshopper is become a burden; desire has failed; and fears are in the way. Her life has been a life full of good works; and now, withdrawn forever from her loved occupations, she must solace herself with the beautiful thought, “They also serve, who only stand and wait.” It is a beautiful thought; she knows its truth; she feels its preciousness; her daily, constant prayer is, “May Your will be done.”

Yet you must not imagine that her career of usefulness has ended — that it found its termination in that sick room. No; in that limited sphere, during that lingering illness, she has, perhaps, done more good than you or I have effected in our lifetime. How? That kind servant who waits upon her has lately grown thoughtful and pious, and she traces the happy change in her views and in her feelings to the sweet example of her dear mistress; not to her counsels, not to her persuasions — but to her example. She witnessed her patience, her fortitude, her serenity, her faith in Christ, her readiness to depart; and she felt how valuable that religion must be which could give such peace in life, such hope in death. She determined, with God’s help, to make that religion her own; and now her mistress’ last hours are cheered by the delightful knowledge that her grateful attendant has chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her.

Glance now inside that lowly almshouse. There dwells a venerable man whose snow-white locks, bended frame, and tottering steps are plain indications that his physical energies are rapidly declining. Is he too old or too infirm to be useful? Almost, so far as active service is concerned, for he is both palsied and half blind; but the light of his example shines brightly still, and sheds a holy radiance on all who come within its reach. His upright conduct, his cheerful demeanor, his kind feelings, and his Heaven-like spirit — are perpetual living lessons to his neighbors and friends. More than one thoughtless visitor has left his humble abode with the impression, “Well, there is such a thing as real religion; I wish I were as good and as happy as that old man is.” And many wavering or weary Christians have been strengthened for their earnest conflict through the remembrance of the simple faith and devotedness of this aged servant of God.

Does your life, your example, thus influence others for good? Are you an epistle known and read of all men? Does your character and conduct commend the religion of Christ? Is it your daily endeavor to “adorn” as well as profess the doctrine of God your Savior? Every Christian should look well to his example; it effects far more than his words, however well-chosen and well-expressed those words may be. But especially should the aged believer be careful to let his light shine brightly and steadily before men, because his sphere of usefulness being limited, he should make the most of those means which are still within his reach; and because soon, very soon, “the night comes,” and then his opportunities on earth will be closed forever.

There is one other way that we must not overlook, in which the aged Christian may advance Christ’s kingdom in the world, and that way is intercessory prayer. Weak and infirm, you may be unable to converse about religion; poor, perhaps, in this world’s riches, it is not in your power to relieve the wants of the needy; but amidst your feebleness and your poverty — you can shut your door and pray to your Father who sees in secret. You can implore . . .
his support for the distressed; 
his sympathy for the sorrowful; 
his aid for the helpless;
his instruction for the ignorant; 
his pardon for the sinful; 
his grace for the undeserving.

You can plead with him on behalf of the heathen at home, and the heathen abroad. You can supplicate his blessing both for the queen upon her throne and the peasant in his cottage. Abraham interceded for Sodom; Job for his children; Moses for the Israelites; Jacob for his grandsons; the disciples for their persecuted brethren; the apostle for his beloved converts. Catch their spirit; follow in their steps; add to their success. “The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

It is impossible to tell how richly the healthful dew of God’s grace may rest upon parched and barren hearts; or how appropriately the gifts of his providence may be given to the abodes of poverty and need, through the instrumentality of those heartfelt petitions which you offer at the throne of grace. Eternity alone will fully disclose the blessings which have been linked with intercessory prayer.

Aged Christian! mourn not that your opportunities of usefulness are so few; rather rejoice that you are still permitted to have a place among the laborers in Christ’s vineyard. Your department is a retired one; your employment is easy; but your path is marked out for you by the Master whom you serve. In wise considerateness he appoints to each laborer his position and his duties; and to all who honestly perform the work which he assigns — be it great or be it small — he will address those gracious words of commendation, “Well done, good and faithful servant — enter you into the joy of your Lord!”

Yet you cannot but sigh sometimes when you reflect how little you are really able to do for the honor of God and the good of your fellow-men; your best services are so imperfect, your holiest efforts are so defiled. As life advances, you grow better acquainted with your own motives, and more enlightened respecting God’s character and will; and the inevitable result is that you are humbled under the increasing consciousness of your sinfulness and your failures. Oh if you could but serve God as you desire to do! How unwearied, how unselfish, how unlimited would be your joyful obedience!

Wait awhile, and your longings shall be satisfied. In Heaven there will be no feebleness to retard your efforts, no imperfection to sully your actions. “His servants shall serve him.” Without one difficulty or defect, they shall fulfill his varied behests and do his will. And as angels are now ministering spirits for the heirs of salvation, it is not improbable that glorified Christians will be frequently engaged on some errand of love to God’s intelligent creatures. How welcome is this idea to those who feel half sorry when they consider that their work on earth is so near its close!

Anonymous

Downloaded from Grace Gems – A Treasury of Ageless, Sovereign Grace, Devotional Writings

 

 

3 Simple Rules For Listing to a Sermon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is not enough that we go to church and hear a sermons. We may do so for fifty years, and be nothing better, but rather worse. “Take heed,” says our Lord, “how you hear.” Would anyone know how to hear properly? Then let them lay to heart three simple rules.

  • We must hear with FAITH, believing implicitly that every word of God is true, and shall stand. The word in the old time did not profit the Jews, since it was “not mixed with faith in those who heard it (Heb. 4:2).
  • We must hear with REVERENCE, remembering constantly that the Bible is the book of God. This was the habit of the Thessalonians. They received Paul’s messages, “not as the word of men, but the word of God” (Thess. 2:13).
  • We must hear with PRAYER, praying for God’s blessing before the sermon is preached, praying for God’s blessing again when the sermon over. Here lies the rand defect of the hearing of many. They ask no blessing, and so they have none. The sermon passes through their minds like water through a leaky vessel, and leaves nothing behind.

Summary

Let us bear these rules in mind every Sunday morning, before we go to hear the Word of God preached. Let us not rush into God’s presence careless, reckless, and unprepared, as if it mattered not in what way such work was done. Let us carry with us faith, reverence, and prayer. If these three are our companions, we will hear with profit, and return with praise.

J.C. Ryle

Daily Remembrancer M. & E. Pastor James Smith (1802-1862) “Be watchful.” Revelation 3:2

SATAN is watching to ensnare us, the world is watching to exult over us, and God is watching to protect us. Jesus our best friend says to us, “BE WATCHFUL.” Watch against the spirit of the world, against thy easily besetting sins, against seasons of temptation, and against Satan the sworn enemy of thy soul. Watch for opportunities to do good, for answers to prayer, for the appearance of God as a God of providence. Unite prayer to God, dependence on His holy word, and watchfulness together, pray to be kept from sin, in temptation, unspotted from the world; trust in God to answer but do not leave the throne; and then watch as though all depended upon thy diligence and efforts. Blessed is He that watcheth and keepeth his garments. “Watch ye therefore and pray always.” But trust not to thy watchfulness, but while watching trust in God. He that keepeth thee will not slumber; He is with thee when on guard, as well as when thou art feasting on His word and rejoicing at His table. He withdraweth not His eyes from the righteous. “The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry.” Watch ye therefore, and pray.

O gracious God, in whom I live,
My feeble efforts aid;
Help me to watch, and pray, and strive,
Though trembling and afraid. 

Taken from: “Daily Remembrancer Morning and Evening”

Collection of Quotations

 

 

 

 

The Larger Catechism of the Westminster Assembly

Q. 103
What is the first commandment?

A. The first commandment is, Thou shalt no other gods before me.

Q. 104. 
What are the duties required in the first commandment?

A. The duties required in the first commandment are, the knowing and acknowledging of God to be the only true God, and our God. , and to worship and glorify him accordingly, by thinking meditating, remembering, highly esteeming, honouring, adoring, choosing, desiring, fearing him; believing him; trusting, hoping, delighting, rejoicing in him; being zealous for him; calling upon him, giving all praise and thanks, and yielding all obedience and submission to him with the whole man; being careful in all things to please him, and sorrowful when in any thing he is offended; and walking humbly with him.

Q. 3
What is the word of God?

A. The holy scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the word of God, the only rule of faith and obedience.

Q. 4
How doth it appear that the scriptures are the word of God?

A. The scriptures manifest themselves to be the word of God, by their majesty and purity, by the consent of all parts, and the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory to God, by their light and power to convince and convert sinners, to comfort and build up believers unto salvation: but the Spirit of God bearing witness by and with the scriptures in the heart of man, is alone able fully to persuade it that they are the very word of God.

Q. 5
What do the scriptures principally teach?

A. The scriptures principally teach, what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.

Q. 152
What doth every sin deserve at the hands of God?

A. 
Every sin even the least, being against the sovereignty, goodness, and holiness of God, and against his righteous law, deserveth his wrath and curse, both in this life, and that which is to come; and cannot be expiated but by the blood of Christ.

Q. 153
What doth God require of us, that we may escape his wrath and curse due to us by reason of the transgression of the law?  

A. That we may escape the wrath and curse of God due to us by reason of the transgression of the law, he requireth of us repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, and the delight use of the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of his mediation.

Q. 154 
What are the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of his mediation? 


A. 
The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to his church the benefits of his mediation, are all his ordinances; especially the word, sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for their salvation.

Q. 155
How is the word made effectual to salvation! 

A. The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching of the word, an effectual means of enlightening, convincing, and humbling sinners, of driving them out of themselves, and drawing them unto Christ? Of conforming them to his image, and subduing them to his will; of strengthening them against temptations and corruptions; of building them up in grace, and establishing their hearts in holiness and comfort through faith unto salvation.

Since God places your salvation in himself alone, why should you descend to yourself? Since he assigns you his own mercy alone, why will you recur to your own merits? Since he confines your thoughts to his own mercy, why do you turn partly to the view of your own works? (Calvin’s Inst. 3/22/6) 

 “A Sabbath well spent brings a week of content,
And strength for the toils of the morrow:
But a Sabbath profaned, whate’er may be gained,
Is a certain forerunner of sorrow.”

“You will never glory in God till first of all God has killed your glorying in yourself.”    C. H. Spurgeon  

Psalm 54:4 “Blessed are they that dwell in his house,”  But how dwell in it? Not to look in sometimes as we pass by, or to stay in it a time, as we do at an inn, but to be constant abiders in it day and night, as to which we have devoted ourselves and vowed our service… They are dwellers, not visitors, in God’s house.” Richard Baker   

Institutes of the Christian Religion
John Calvin
By Henry Beveridge

Some object that God would be inconsistent with himself, in inviting all without distinction while he elects only a few. Thus, according to them, the universality of the promise destroys the distinction of special grace. Some moderate men speak in this way, not so much for the purpose of suppressing the truth, as to get quit of puzzling questions, and curb excessive curiosity. The intention is laudable, but the design is by no means to be approved, dissimulation being at no time excusable. In those again who display their petulance, we see only a vile cavil or a disgraceful error. The mode in which Scripture reconciles the two things-viz. that by external preaching all are called to faith and repentance, and that yet the Spirit of faith and repentance is not given to all-I have already explained, and will again shortly repeat. But the point which they assume I deny as false in two respects: for he who threatens that when it shall rain on one city there will be drought in another (Amos 4:7); and declares in another passage, that there will be a famine of the word (Amos 8:11), does he who, forbidding Paul to preach in Asia, and leading him away from Bithynia, carries him over to Macedonia (Acts 16:6:), shows that it belongs to him to distribute the treasure in what way he pleases. But it is by Isaiah he more clearly demonstrates the promises of salvation specially to the elect (Isaiah 8:16); for he declares that his disciples would consist of them only, and not indiscriminately of the whole human race. Whence it is evident that the doctrine of salvation, which is said to be sat apart for the sons of the Church only, is abused when it is represented as effectually available to all.   (Vol. 2, Book 3, Ch.22, Sec. 10, pp. 221-222)

The Typology of the Ark.
 A.W. Pink

  1. The ark was a place of absolute security.

    This truth is seen in several particulars. First, this ark itself was pitched “within and without with pitch” (Gen. 6:14), hence it would be thoroughly watertight, and as such, a perfect shelter. No matter how hard it rained or how high the waters rose, all inside the ark were secure. The ark was in this respect also, a type of our salvation in Christ. Speaking to the saints, the apostle said, “Your life is hid (like Noah in the ark) with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). In the next place, we read concerning Noah after he had entered the ark, “And the Lord shut him in” (Gen. 7:16). What a blessed word this is! Noah did not have to take care of himself; having entered the ark, God was then responsible for his preservation. So it is with those who have fled to Christ for refuge, they are “kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5). Finally the security of all in the ark is seen in the issuing of them forth one year later on to the destruction-swept earth-“And Noah went forth, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him: every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, after their kinds, went forth out of the ark” (Gen. 8:18, 19). All who had entered had been preserved, none had perished by the flood, and none had died a natural death, so perfect is the type. How this reminds us of the Lord’s words, “Of them which thou gavest Me I have lost none” (John 18:9). (Gleanings in Genesis pp 105-6)

    THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD
    “Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.” (Psalm 139:2-4). What a wondrous Being is the God of Scripture! Each of His glorious attributes should render Him honourable in our esteem. The apprehension of His omniscience ought to bow us in adoration before Him. Yet how little do we meditate upon this divine perfection! Is it because the very thought of it fills us with uneasiness? How solemn is this face: nothing can be concealed from God! And the Spirit of the LORD fell upon me, and said unto me, Speak; Thus saith the LORD; Thus have ye said, O house of Israel: “for I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them” (Ezekiel 11:5). Though He be invisible to us, we are not so to Him. Neither the darkness of night, the closest curtains, nor the deepest dungeon can hide any sinner from the eyes of Omniscience. The tress of the garden were not able to conceal our first parents. No human eye beheld Cain murder his brother, but his Maker witnessed his crime. Sarah might laugh derisively in the seclusion of her tent, yet was it heard by Jehovah. Achan stole a wedge of gold and carefully hid it in the earth, but God brought it to light. David was at much pains to cover up his wickedness, but ere long the all-seeing God sent one of His servants to say to him, “Thou art the man”! And to writer and reader is also said, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).  (A.W. Pink)

Hebrews 12:25: See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh”-note carefully the present tense: not “that spoke.” Christ is still speaking through His Gospel, by His Spirit, and instrumentally through His own commissioned servants, calling upon all who come under the sound of his voice to serve and obey Him. There are many ways in which we may “refuse” to hear and heed Him. First, by neglecting to read daily and diligently the Scriptures through which He speaks. Second, by failing to attend public preaching where His Word is faithfully dispensed-if so be we live in a place where this holy privilege is obtainable. Third, by failing to comply with the terms of His Gospel and yield ourselves unto His authority. Fourth, by forsaking the Narrow Way of His commandments and going back again to the world. Fifth, by abandoning the truth for error, which generally ends in total apostasy. How we need to pray for an hearing ear, that is, for a responsive heart and yielded will.     (A. W. Pink commentary)

Puritan, Joseph Caryl, very pertinently asked, “You will swallow words until you have tried them. Why else have we ears to hear? Why are we trusted with reason to judge things with, or with rules to judge them?  There is no greater tyranny in the world than to command men to believe (with implicit faith) as others believe, or to impose our opinions and assertions upon those who hear them and not give them liberty to try them” (Practical Christianity A.W. Pink)

(W.T. Shedd Presbyterian, (1889) The unenlightened understanding is unable to apprehend, and the unregenerate will is unable to believe. Vital force is lacking in these two principle factors. What is needed at this point is life and force itself. Consequently, the Author of spiritual life Himself must operate directly, without the use of means or instruments; and outright give spiritual life and power from the dead: that is, ex nihilo. The new life is not imparted because man perceives the truth, but he perceives the truth because the new life is imparted. A man is not regenerated because he has first believed in Christ, but he believes in Christ because he has been regenerate .

(Counterfeit or Genuine by David O. Fuller, DD) Surely, we come to Scripture to be learners only: not to teach the blessed writers how they ought to have spoken about God! When will men learn that “the Scripture phrase, or language of the Holy Ghost” is as much above them as heaven is above earth? …….What is the use of the inspiration of the Bible, if no form of the Bible that we now have is inspired? Why should God have worked a stupendous miracle in order to preserve the writers of the Biblical books from error and make the autographs of their books completely true, if He intended then to leave the books thus produced to the mere chance of transmission from generation to generation by every human and often careless copyists?” 

(Exposition of Psalm 119 by Charles Bridges) In connecting this verse with the preceding, how accurately is the middle path preserved, equally distant from the idea of self-sufficiency to “keep the Lord’s statutes,” and self-justification in neglecting them! The first attempt to render spiritual obedience will quickly convince us of our utter helplessness. We might as soon create a world, as create in our hearts one pulse of spiritual life. And yet our inability does not cancel our obligation. Shall God lose his right, because sin has palsied our ability? Is not a drunken servant still under his master’s law? and is not the sin which prevents him from performing his duty, not his excuse, but his aggravation? Thus our weakness is that of an heart, which “cannot be subject to the law of God,” only because it is carnal, “enmity against God.” The obligation therefore remains in full forWhat then remains for us, but to return the mandate to haven, accompanied with an earnest prayer, that the Lord would write upon our hearts those statutes,  to which he requires obedience in his word?-“Thou hast commanded us to keep thy statutes diligently.” We acknowledge, Lord, our obligation; but we feel our impotency. Lord help us: we look unto thee. “Oh that our ways were directed to keep thy statutes!” Give what thou commandest; and then command what thou wilt.” Now, as if to exhibit the fullness and suitableness of the promises of the gospel, the commands and prayers are returned back again from heaven with promises of quickening and directing grace. Thus does the Lord fully answer his end with us. He did not issue the commands, expecting that we could turn our own hearts to them; but that the conviction of our entire helplessness might cast us upon him, who loves to be sought, and never will be thus in vain. And indeed this is a part of the “mystery of godliness,” that in proportion as we depend upon him who is alike, “the Lord our righteousness,” and our strength, our desire after holiness will increase, and our prayers become more fervent. He who commands our duty, perfectly knows our weakness, and he who feels his own weakness is fully encouraged to depend upon the power of his Saviour. Faith is then the principle of evangelical obedience, and the promises of his grace enable us for duty, at the very time that we are commanded to it. In this view are brought together the supreme authority of the Lawgiver, the total insufficiency of the creature, the full provisions of the Saviour, and the all-sufficiency of “the God of grace.” We pray for what we want; we are thankful for what we have; we trust for what is promised. Thus “all is of God.” Christ “is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.” (Rev. 22:13.) Thus “grace reigns” triumphant. The foundation is laid in grace, and the headstone will be brought forth with shouting, crying, “Grace, grace unto it.” (Zech. 4:7). The Saviour’s work is finished and Jesus is crowned Lord of all for ever. From the time of the Apostles until the present God’s people have loved His Word. In times of sorrow they have found solace in its promises, in days of sadness, they have been comforted and strengthened by its testimonies; in the midst of happiness, they have rejoiced in its commands, and always has this been the so because they have regarded this Word as God’s Word; it words indeed, have been a blessing to their souls. Thus, even though many of its implications have only been worked out since the days of the Reformation, the idea of verbal inspiration has been present from the beginning. One thing at least is clear: the doctrine of verbal inspiration, which Bible believers are defending today, is a doctrine which has been defended since the days of the Apostles. It is indeed the very view which the Apostles and, above all, our Lord Himself maintained. The view of modernism, neo-orthodoxy and destructive criticism do not represent a natural development of the attitude toward the Bible which has characterized the Church since the time of its inception. Those who espouse the doctrine of verbal inspiration and Scriptural infallibility are in a true apostolic succession.

Psalm 119: 5.
O that my ways were directed to keep thy statues!  The Lord has indeed “commanded us to keep his precepts.” But, alas! Where is our power? Satan would make the sense of our weakness an excuse for indolence. The Spirit of God convinces us of it, as an incitement to prayer and an exercise of faith. If, Reader, your heart is perfect with God, you “consent to the law that it is good;” you “delight in it after the inner man” (Rom. 7:16, 22); you would not have one jot or tittle altered, mitigated, or replaced, that it might be more conformed to your own will, or allow you more liberty or self-indulgence in the ways of sin. But you do not sigh to think, that, when you aim at the perfect standard of holiness, you should, at your best moments, and in your highest attainments, fall so far below it; seeing indeed the way before you, but feeling yourself without ability to walk in it? Then let a sense of your helplessness for the work of the Lord lead you to the throne of grace, to pray, and watch, and wait, for the strengthening and refreshing influences of the Spirit of grace. Here let your faith realize at one and the same view your utter insufficiency, and your complete All-sufficiency. (2 Cor. 3:5.) Here behold Him, who is ever presenting himself before God as our glorious Head, receiving in himself, according to the good pleasure of the Father (Col. 1:18, 19),  the full supply for this and every successive moment of inexpressible need. Our work is not therefore left upon our own hands, or wrought out at our “own charges.” So long as “He hath the residue of the Spirit” (Matt. 2:15), “grace” will be found “sufficient;” –Divine “strength will be made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9) “Without him we can do nothing” (John 15:5); “through him, all things.” (Phil. 4:14) Even the “worm Jacob shall thresh the mountains,” when the Lord says, “Fear not, I will help thee.” (Isaiah 41:14, 15.)  

Psalm 40:12- “For innumerable evils have compassed me about”
“Come at length the dreadful night;
Vengeance with its iron rod
Stood, and with collected might
Bruised the harmless Lamb of God.
See, my soul, thy Saviour see
Prostrate in Gethsemane!

There my God bore all my guilt
This through grace can be believed;
But the horrors which he felt
Are too fast to be conceived.
None can penetrate through thee,
Doleful, dark Gethsemane!

Sins against a holy God;
Sins against his righteous laws;
Sins against his love, his blood;
Sins against his name and cause;
Sins immense as is  the sea
Hide me, O Gethsemane!”
(The Treasury of David)

Psalm 33:20b “He is our help” There is an excellent story of a young man, that was at sea in a mighty raging tempest; and when all the passengers were at their wit’s end for fear he, only was merry; and when he was asked the reason of his mirth, he answered, “That the pilot of the ship was his farther, and he knew his father would have a care of him.” The great and wise God, who is our Father, hath from all eternity decreed what shall be the issue of all wars, what the event of all troubles; he is our pilot, he sits at the stern; and though the ship of the church or state be in a sinking condition, yet be of good comfort, our Pilot will have a care of us. There is nothing done in the lower house of Parliament on earth, but what is first decreed in the higher house in heaven. All lesser wheels are ordered and overruled by the upper. Are not five sparrows, saith Christ, sold for a farthing? One farthing’s worth of harm more than God hath decreed from all eternity.-Edmund Calamy (The Treasury of David P. 120)

Psalm 119:18 Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy lawThe light which they beg is not anything besides the word. When God is said to enlighten us, it is not that we should expect new revelations, but that we may see the wonders in his word, or get a clear sight of what is already revealed. Those that vent their own dreams under the name of the Spirit, and divine light, they do not give you mysteria, but monstra, portentous opinions; not show you the wondrous things of God’s law, but he prodigies of their own brain; unhappy abortives, that die as soon as they come to light. “To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this words, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20). (Psalm 119 Volume 1, Sermon XIX. Thomas Manton)

(E.J. Young “Thy Word is Truth”) …..The Bible is indeed indispensable, for without it we could not know the will of God. One of the Reformed catechisms asks the pertinent question, ‘Whence do you know your misery?’ The answer which is given is very simple, but also very penetrating. It merely says, ‘Out of the law of God’ (Heidelberg Catechism, Question No. 3) According to this catechism one would not know how great his misery was, were it not for the law of God. The Bible, of course, teaches the same thing: ‘for by the law is the knowledge of sin’ (Romans 3:20). This law to which the Bible refers is something that was once for all written down. It is there in the Bible, accessible at all times to those who desire to consult it. 

THE DECREES OF GOD. The Attributes of God by A.W.Pink “Let us now consider some of the properties of the divine decrees. First, they are eternal. To suppose any of them to be made in time is to suppose that some new occasion has occurred; some unforeseen event or combination of circumstances has arisen, which has induced the Most High to form a new resolution. This would argue that the knowledge of the Deity is limited, and that He is growing wiser in the progress of time-which would be horrible blasphemy. No man who believes that the divine understanding is infinite, comprehending the past, the present, and the future, will ever assent to the erroneous doctrine of temporal decrees. God is not ignorant of future events which will be executed by human volitions; He has foretold them in innumerable instances, and prophecy is but the manifestation of His eternal prescience. Scripture affirms that believers were chosen in Christ before the world began (Ephesians. 1:14), yea, that grace was “given” to them (II Timothy 1:9). Secondly, the decrees of God are wise. Wisdom is shown in the selection of the best possible ends and of the fittest means of accomplishing them. That this character belongs to the decrees of God is evident from what we know of them. They are disclosed to us by their execution, and every proof of the wisdom of the plan, in conformity to which they are performed. As the Psalmist declared, “O LORD, how manifold are Thy works! In wisdom Thou made them all” (104:24). It is indeed but a very small part of them which falls under our observation, yet, we ought to proceed here as we do in other cases, and judge of the whole by the specimen, of what is unknown, by what is known. He who perceives the workings of admirable skill in the parts of a machine which he has an opportunity to examine, is naturally led to believe that the other parts are equally admirable. In like manner we should satisfy our minds as to God’s works when doubts obtrude themselves upon us, and repel any reconcile to our notions of what is something that we reach the bounds of the finite and gaze toward the mysterious realm of the infinite, let us exclaim, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” (Romans 11:33).  Thirdly, they are free. “Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being His counsellor hath taught Him? With whom took He counsel, and who instructed Him, and taught Him in the path of judgment, and taught Him knowledge, and shewed to Him the way of understanding?” (Isaiah 40:13-14). God was alone when He made His decrees, and His determinations were influenced by no external cause. He was free to decree or not to decree, and to decree one thing and not another. This liberty we must ascribe to Him who is Supreme, Independent, and Sovereign in all His doings. Fourthly, they are absolute and unconditional. The execution of them is not suspended upon condition which may, or may not be, performed. In every instance where God has decreed and end, He has also decreed every means to that end. The One who decreed the salvation of His elect also decreed to work faith in them (II Thessalonians 2:13). “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Isaiah 46:10); but that could not be, if His counsel depended upon a condition which might not be performed. But God “worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (Ephesians 1:11). 

Surgeon on the Sovereignty of God Sermon on Matthew 20:15- “There is no attribute more comforting to His children than that of God’s sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe trials, they believe that sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that sovereignty overrules them, and that sovereignty will sanctify them all. There is nothing for which the children ought more earnestly to contend than the doctrine of their Master over all creation- the kingship of God over all the works of His own hands-the throne of God and His right to sit upon that throne. On the other hand, there is no doctrine more hated by worldlings, no truth of which they have made such a football, as the great and stupendous, but yet most certain doctrine of the sovereignty of the infinite Jehovah. Men will allow God to be everywhere except on His throne. They will allow Him to be in His workshop to fashion worlds and make stars. They will allow Him to be in His almonry to dispense His alms and bestow His bounties. They will allow Him to sustain the earth and bear up the pillars thereof, or light the lamps of heaven, or rule the waves of the ever-moving ocean; but when God ascends His throne, His creatures then gnash their teeth.  And we proclaim an enthroned God, and His right to do as He wills with His own, to dispose of His creatures as He thinks well, without consulting them in the matter; then it is that we are hissed and execrated, and then it is that men turn a deaf ear to us, for God on His throne is not the God they love. But it is God upon the throne that we love to preach. It is God upon His throne we trust.” 

THE BEAUTY Of HOLINESS OF GOD “As it seems to challenge an excellency above all His other perfections, so it is the glory of all the rest: as it is the glory of the Godhead, so it is the glory of every perfection in the Godhead; as His power is the strength of them, so His holiness is the beauty of them; as all would be weak without almightiness to back them, so all would be uncomely without holiness to adorn them. Should this be sullied, all the rest would lose their honour; as at the same instant the sun should lose its light, it would lose its heat, its strength, it strength, its generative and quickening virtue. As sincerity is the lustre of every grace in a Christian, so is purity the splendour of every attribute in the Godhead. His justice is a holy justice, His wisdom a holy wisdom, His power a “holy arm” (Psalm 98:1). His truth or promise a “holy promise” (Psalm 105:42). His name, which signifies all His attributes in conjunction is “holy” (Psalm 103:1). (S. Charnock).  

The Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 34: Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.

LAMENT TO THE LORD
They’ve brought you up to date, Lord down at old St. Machar’s
They’ve pensioned off the organ and they’re praising on guitars!
They’ve done it for the young ones; ‘we want to draw them in’
But I do wish they could worship without making such a din!
I’m growing rather deaf, Lord, and where there’s all that noise
It gets so very hard, Lord, to hear your loving voice.
They’re using SGP, Lord, words and tunes that I don’t know,
So I hardly ever sing now, though I did love singing so.
They’re very go ahead, Lord, They’re using the NIV,
But the words are not so beautiful as the others used to be.

So they’ve modernised the Bible, the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed
When the old ones were so perfect that they filled my every need. 
My mind’s not quite so agile as it was some years ago
And I miss the age old beauty of the words that I still know.
It’s very clear to me, lord, I’ve overstayed my time,
I don’t take to change so kindly as I did in my prime.
But it can’t be very long now before I’m called above.
 And I know I’ll find you there, lord, and glory in your love.
So till then I’ll stick it out, lord, though it is not the same for me,
But while others call you “YOU”, Lord, do you mind if I say “THEE”?

“The Christian family is the greenhouse within which is nurtured the tender plant of obedient service to Christ; therefore the church should keep the glass clean, the temperature warm, and the soil well watered and fertilized.” (With a Shepherd’s heart p. 81) 

The Cross!

WHAT THE CROSS IS

1 A magnet to draw us

2 A Gallows to slay us

3 A Balance to weigh us

4 A Ladder to lift us

WHAT THE CROSS SHOWS US

1 Sin at its blackest

2 Law at its sternest

3 Love at its highest

4 Life at its fullest

THE DIMENSIONS OF THE CROSS

1 It is as high as heaven

2 It is as deep as damnation

3 It is as wide as the world