Jerome Zanchius

Chapter 1.

The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination
Stated and Asserted


Having considered the attributes of God as laid down in Scripture, and so far cleared our way to the doctrine of predestination. I shall, before I enter further on the subject, explain the principal terms generally made use of when treating of it, and settle their true meaning. In discoursing on the Divine decrees, mention is frequently made of God’s love and hatred, of election and reprobation, and of the Divine purpose, foreknowledge and predestination, each of which we shall distinctly and briefly consider. 

I.-When love is predicated of God, we do not mean that He is possessed of it as a passion or affection. In us it is such, but if, considered in that sense, it should be ascribed to the Deity, it would be utterly subversive of the simplicity, perfection and independency of His being. Love, therefore, when attributed to Him, signifies- (1) His eternal benevolence, i.e., His everlasting will, purpose and determination to deliver, bless and save His people. Of this, no good works wrought by them are in any sense the cause. Neither are even the merits of Christ Himself to be considered as any way moving or exciting this good will of God to His elect, since the gift of Christ, to be their Mediator and Redeemer, is itself an effect of this free and eternal favour borne to them by God the Father (John iii. 16). His love toward them arises merely from “the good pleasure of His own will,” without the least regard to anything ad extra out of Himself.

               (2) The term implies complacency, delight and approbation. With this love God cannot love even His elect as considered in themselves, because in that view they are guilty, polluted sinners, but they were, from all eternity, objects of it, as they stood united to Christ and partakers of His righteousness.

               (3) Love implies actual beneficence, which properly speaking, is nothing else than the effect or accomplishment of the other two: those are the cause of this. This actual beneficence respects all blessings, whether of a temporal, spiritual or eternal nature. Temporal good things are indeed indiscriminately bestowed in a greater or less degree on all, whether elect or reprobate, but they are given in a covenant way and as blessing to the elect only, to whom also the other benefits respecting grace and glory are peculiar. And this love of beneficence, no less than that of benevolence and complacency, is absolutely free, and irrespective of any worthiness in man.

               II.-When hatred is ascribed to God, it implies (1) a negation of benevolence, or a resolution not to have mercy on such and such men, nor to endue them with any of those graces which stands connected with eternal life. So, “Esau have I hated” (Rom. ix.), i.e., “I did, from all eternity, determine within Myself not to have mercy on him.” The sole cause of which awful negation is not merely the unworthiness of the persons hatred, but the sovereignty and freedom of the Divine will. (2) It denotes displeasure and dislike, for sinners who are not interested in Christ cannot but be infinitely displeasing to and loathsome in the sight of eternal purity. (3) It signifies a positive will to punish and destroy the reprobate for their sins, of which will, the infliction of misery upon them hereafter, is but the necessary effect and actual execution.

               III.-The term election, that so very frequently occurs in Scripture, is there taken in a fourfold sense, and most commonly signifies (1) “That eternal, sovereign, unconditional, particular and immutable act of God where He selected some from among all mankind and of every nation under heaven to be redeemed and everlastingly saved by Christ.”

               (2) It sometimes and more rarely signifies “that gracious and almighty act of the Divine Spirit, whereby God actually and visibly separates His elect from the world by effectual calling.” This is nothing but the manifestation and partial fulfilment of the former election, and by it the objects of predestinating grace are sensibly led into the communion of saints, and visibly added to the number of God’s declared professing people. Of this our Lord makes mention: “Because I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”  (John xv. 19). Where it should seem the choice spoken of does not refer so much to God’s eternal, immanent act of election as His open manifest one, whereby He powerfully and efficaciously called the disciples forth from the world of the unconverted, and quickened them from above in conversion.

               (3) By election is sometimes meant, “God’s taking a whole nation, community or body of men into external covenant with Himself by giving them the advantage of revelation, or His written word, as the rule of their belief and practice, when other nations are without it.” In this sense the whole body of the Jewish nation was indiscriminately called elect, because that “unto them were committed the oracles of God” (Deut. vii. 6). Now all that are thus elected are not therefore necessarily saved, but many of them may be, and are, reprobates, as those of whom our Lord says (Matt. xiii. 20), that they “hear the word, and anon with joy receive it,” etc. And the apostle says, “They went out from us” (i.e. , being favoured with the same Gospel revelation we were, they professed themselves true believers, no less than we), “but they were not of us” i.e. , they were not, with us, chosen of God unto everlasting life, nor did they ever in reality possess that faith of His operation which He gave to us, for if they had in this sense “been of us, they would, no doubt, have continued with us” (1 John ii. 19), they would have manifested the sincerity of their professions and the truth of their conversion by enduring to the end and being saved.  And even this external revelation, though it is not necessarily connected with eternal happiness, is nevertheless productive of very many and great advantages to the people and places where it is vouchsafed, and is made known to some nations and kept back* from others, “according to the good pleasure of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.”

(4) And, lastly, election sometimes signifies “the temporary designation of some person or persons to the filling up some particular station in the visible church or office in civil life.” So Judas was chosen to the apostleship (John vi. 70), and Saul to be the king of Israel (1 Sam. X. 24). Thus much for the use of the word election.

               IV.-On the contrary, reprobation denotes either (1) God’s eternal preterition of some men, when He chose others to glory, and His predestination of them to fill up the measure of their iniquities and then to receive the just punishment of their crimes, even “destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power.” This is the primary, most obvious and most frequent sense in which the word is used. It may likewise signify (2) God’s forbearing to call by His grace those whom He hath thus ordained to condemnation, but this is only a temporary preterition, and a consequence of that which was from eternity. (3) And, lastly, the word may be taken in another sense as denoting God’s refusal to grant to some nations the light of the Gospel revelation. They may be considered as a kind of national reprobation, which yet does not imply that every individual person  who lives in such a county must therefore unavoidably perish forever, any more than that every individual who lives in a land called Christian is therefore in a state of salvation. There are, no doubt, elect persons among the former as well as reprobate ones among the latter. By a very little attention to the context any reader may easily discover in which of these several senses the words elect and reprobate are used whenever they occur in Scripture.

               V.-Mention is frequently made in Scripture of the purpose*of God, which is no other than His gracious intention from eternity of making His elect everlastingly happy in Christ.

               VI.-When foreknowledge is ascribed to God, the word imports (1) that general prescience whereby He knew from all eternity both what He Himself would do, and what His creatures, in consequence of His efficacious and permissive decree, should do likewise. The Divine foreknowledge, considered in this view, is absolutely universal; it extends to all beings that did, do or ever shall exist, and to all actions that ever have been, that are or shall be done. Whether good or evil, natural, civil or moral. (2) The word often denotes that special prescience which has for its objects His own elect, and them  alone, whom He is in a peculiar sense said to know and foreknow (Psalm i:6; John ii.19; Rom. viii. 29; 1 Pet. i:2), and this knowledge is connected with, or rather the same with love, favour and approbation.

               VII.-We came now to consider the meaning of the word predestination, and how it is taken in Scripture. The verb predestinate is of Latin original, and signifies, in that tongue, to deliberate beforehand with one’s self how one shall act: and in consequence of such deliberation to constitute, fore-ordain and predetermine  where, when, how and by whom anything shall be done, and to what end it shall be done. So the Greek verb, IIροοριζω, which exactly answers to the English word predestinate, and is rendered by it, signifies to resolve beforehand within one’s self what to do; and, before the thing resolved on is actually effected, to appoint it to some certain use, and direct it to some determinate end. The Hebrew verb Habhdel has likewise much the same signification.

               Now, none but wise men are capable (especially in matters of great importance) of rightly determining what to do, and how to accomplish a proper end by just, suitable and effectual means; and if this is, confessedly, a very material part of true wisdom, who so fit to dispose of men and assign each individual his sphere of action in this world, and his place in the world to come, as the all-wise God? And yet, alas! How many are there who cavil as those eternal decrees which, were we capable of fully and clearly understanding them, would appear to be as just as they are sovereign and as wise as they are incomprehensible! Divine preordination has for its objects all things that are created: no creature, whether rational or irrational, animate or inanimate, is exempted from its influence. All beings whatever, from the highest angel to the meanest reptile, and from the meanest reptile to the minutest atom, are the objects of God’s eternal decrees and particular providence. However, the ancient fathers only make use of the word predestination as it refers to angels or men, whether good or evil, and it is used by the apostle Paul in a more limited sense still, so as, by it, to mean only that branch of it which respects God’s election and designation of His people to eternal life (Rom. viii. 30: Eph. i. 11).

               But, that we may more justly apprehend the import of this word, and the ides intended to be conveyed by it, it may be proper to observe that the term predestination, theologically taken, admits of a fourfold definition, and may be considered as (1) “that eternal, most wise and immutable decree of God, whereby He did from before all time determine and ordain to create, dispose of and direct to some particular end every person and thing to which He has given, or is yet to give, being, and to make the whole creation subservient to and declarative of His own glory.” Of this decree actual providence is the execution. (2) Predestination may be considered as relating generally to mankind, and them only; and in this view we define it to be “the everlasting sovereign and within himself to create Adam in His own image and likeness, and then to permit his fall; and to suffer him thereby to plunge himself and his whole posterity” (inasmuch as they all sinned in him, not only virtually, but also federally and representatively) “into the dreadful abyss of sin, misery and death” (3) Consider predestination as relating to the elect only, and it is “that eternal, unconditional, particular and irreversible act of the Divine will whereby, in matchless love and adorable sovereignty, God determined with Himself to deliver a certain number of Adam’s degenerate* offspring out of that sinful and miserable estate into which, by his primitive transgression, they were to fall,” and in which sad condition they were equally involved, with those who were not chosen, but, being pitched upon and singled out by God the Father to be vessels of grace and salvation (not for anything in them that could recommend them to His favour or entitle them to His notice, but merely because He would show Himself gracious to them), they were, in time, actually redeemed by Christ, are effectually called by His Spirit, justified, adopted, sanctified, and preserved safe to His heavenly kingdom. The supreme end of this decree is the manifestation of His own infinitely glorious and amiably tremendous perfections; the inferior or subordinate end is the happiness and salvation of them who are thus freely elected. (4) Predestination, as it regards the reprobate, is “that eternal most holy, sovereign and immutable act of God’s will, whereby He hath determined to leave some to perish in their sins, and to justly them.”   (Pp, 57-64)                   

*See Psalm clxvii. 19, 20.

 *The purpose of God does not seem to differ at all from predestination, that being, as well as this, an eternal, free and unchangeable act of His will. Besides, the word “purpose,” when predicated of God in the New Testament, always denotes His design of saving His elect, and that only (Rom 8:28; 9:11; Eph 1:11; 3:11; 2 Tim. 1:9). As does the term “predestination,” which throughout the whole New Testament never signifies the appointment of the non-elect to wrath, but singly and solely the fore-appointment of the elect to grace and glory, though, in common theological writings, predestination is spoken of as extending to whatever God does, both in a way of permission and efficiency, as, in the utmost sense of the term, it does. It is worthy of the reader’s notice that the original word which we render purpose, signifies not only an appointment, but a fore-appointment, and such a fore-appointment as is efficacious and cannot be obstructed, but shall most assuredly issue in a full accomplishment, which gave occasion to the following judicious remark of a late learned writer:”a Paulo saepe usurpatur in electionis negotio, ad designandum consilium hoc Dei non esse inanem quandam et inefficacem velleitatem; sed constans, determinatum, et immutabile Dei propositum. Vox enim est efficaciae summae, ut notant grammatici veteres; et signate vocatur a Paulo, consilium illius, qui efficaciter omnia operatur ex beneplacito suo.” -Turretin. Institut. Tom. 1, loc. 4, quaest. 7. s.12.

* When we say that the decree of predestination to life and death respects man as fallen, we do not mean that the fall was actually antecedent to that decree, for the decree is truly and properly eternal, as all God’s immanent acts undoubtedly are, whereas the fall took place in time. When we intend, then, is only this viz., that God (for reasons, without doubt, worthy of Himself, and of which we are by no means in this life competent judges), having, from everlasting, peremptorily ordained to suffer the fall of Adam, did likewise, from everlasting, consider the human race as fallen; and out of the whole mass of mankind, thus vied and foreknow as impure and obnoxious to condemnation, vouchsafed to select some particular persons (who collectively make up a very great though precisely determinate number) in and on whom He would make known the ineffable riches of His mercy.      

James Smith (1802-1862)


“Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.”  Psalm 71:18 (kjv)

Old age and its infirmities will creep in on us; and with old age come weakness, pains, and fears. But an aged Christian should be a happy person; for he has proved the Lord to be faithful so many years, he has had answers to prayer so many times, and the God of his youth stands pledged never to leave nor forsake him. Will the Lord forsake an old servant? Never! Will the Father of mercies forsake one of His children when compassed with the infirmities of old age! Impossible! No, no! The Lord, who has borne with us so long — will bear with us to the end. The Lord, who has glorified Himself in our life — will get glory to Himself in our death.

As the God of all comfort, He will comfort us on the bed of languishing, and will make all our bed in our sickness; and when heart and flesh are failing — He will be the strength of our heart, and our portion forever!

Aged believer — doubt not, fear not! God has given you His Word — trust it. He has confirmed His Word by the death of His Son — therefore exercise confidence in Him. He has been a Friend and a Father to you for many years; and He will be your Friend and Father to the very last!

Be much with Him in prayer. With all the simplicity of a little child — let your requests be made known unto Him. He has grace for old age — as He had for youth; and He has grace for a dying bed — as He had grace for all the conflicts of life. Believe His word, rest in His love, expect His blessing to the end — and you shall be more than a conqueror through Him who loved you. God never loved you more than He does now in your weakness, pains, and old age; and — sweet thought! — He will never love you less! His love is infinite, everlasting. Having loved you — He loves you to the end!

Father in Heaven, I thank You for the mercies of my life. Help me to trust You through to the end of my life — in spite of my weakness and human frailty.

And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you. Isaiah 46:4 (kjv)

"Taken from: "Daily Remembrancer Morning and Evening"
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How to Pray for Your Pastor

When Roman legions invaded Caledonia (modern-day Scotland) in the late first century AD, it was said by the historian Tacitus that the powerful Celtic chieftain Calgacus emerged and rallied his tribes against the might of Rome, famously declaring, “They make a desert, and they call it peace.”

Today’s Christian pastor is likewise making similar stands for biblical Christianity in the midst of a secular desert created by an anti-Christian culture. The Bible describes a faithful pastor as an elder who oversees the flock and the household of God. According to Paul, pastor/elders rule the church (Titus 1:5) and guard the treasures of Christ (v. 9). Additionally, they minister to the people by teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16).

If ever there was an era in Christian history that believers should be committed to praying for their pastors, it is now. James rebukes our prayerlessness when he says, “You do not have, because you do not ask” (James 4:2). And what prayers are we offering up to God on behalf of our pastors? Let me suggest several.


If your minister is not being blessed and instructed by the Word, it is highly unlikely that you will be. Your spiritual well-being is directly linked to your pastor’s seeking the Lord in his preparation for the sacred desk. If he is not diligently seeking the Lord, you won’t find Him in his preaching either.

A godly pastor is a joyful, dutiful herald of the most high King. His enthusiasm for proclaiming God’s Word will be infectious and unstoppable, and it will be readily apparent to all who hear him that this is a man who knows his God. Second Timothy 4:1–2 reads:

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.


I suspect that many people who sit week after week in the pews of their particular church have no idea how difficult a Sunday is for a minister and his family. Pray for your pastor’s Sundays. Robert Murray M’Cheyne says: “A well-spent sabbath we feel to be a day of heaven upon earth. … We love to rise early on that morning, and to sit up late, that we may have a long day with God.”


Pray that God would help your pastor in the midst of busyness to taste and see that the Lord is good. Pray that his children would grow up loved and cherished in the household of faith. Joel Beeke says: “Family worship is the foundation of child rearing. As family worship goes, so will go the family. The Puritans thought family worship was the whole backbone of society.” We read in Deuteronomy 6:4–7:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.


May your pastor have a Christlike love for the lost and a joy in telling others about the Shepherd-King. If a man loves the Lord, he will love telling others the old story of the gospel. He also will teach and model for others a renewed sense of evangelism and mission. He is worthy to receive the glory and honor due Him (Rev. 4:11). Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, is worthy to receive the reward. We need our pastors to have a zeal for the lost.


A growing personal relationship with Christ will supply the motivation and zeal needed for a pastor’s duty to God. It will be tiring. It will require an all-in, total commitment. Pray that God would provide every physical and emotional need for the call to serve. Pastors are often subject spiritual temptation, so pray for God to protect these men from the evil one. Pray that they would guard themselves and be granted personal holiness. Pray that they would apply the means of grace to their own hearts, by God’s help.


Thomas Smyth of the antebellum historic Second Presbyterian Church in Charleston, S.C., once charged a young pastor by saying:

Preaching is your pre-eminent employment, so the Gospel is the sum and substance of your preaching—the power of God and the wisdom of God unto salvation. 

Necessity is laid upon you, yea, woe is unto you if you preach not the Gospel. … Preach Christ as set forth in the Gospel—the sum and substance of God’s testimony, and the author of eternal salvation to all who believe upon him.

Preach—this glorious Gospel of good news—first and last, every way, and everywhere, in public and in private; in the pulpit and by the press; to the living and to the dying; to the lost and the saved.

Pray for your pastor, pray as if your very life and those you love depended upon it. Melton L. Duncan is a ruling elder at Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville, S.C

Diseases of Souls by John Willison (1680-1750)



   The words being before explained, and the doctrine raised, I proceed to Doct. III. Viz. However desperate the diseases of those within the church may seem to be, yet if they die of them, it will be owing to themselves, seeing they have an able physician, an excellent balm to look to for healing.

   This being the doctrine which I chiefly intend to insist upon, I propose to do it at some length in the following method:
I. I will inquire into those dangerous diseases for which there is balm in Gilead, and a physician there.
II. Take notice of some of those dangerous symptoms which make our diseases appear desperate and incurable, for which there is yet balm in Gilead.
 III. Speak of the physician there, who hath the balm, and applies it for curing the diseased.
IV. Inquire into the nature of the balm, and means which the physician makes use of the healing.
V. Touch at the physician’s method of applying the balm, and performing the cure. 
VI. Make application of the whole.
I The first head is, to inquire into the dangerous diseases of those within the church for which the balm is provided. And for the better understanding hereof, I shall premise some things.
  1. When I speak of the church, I mean the church visible, which includes hypocrites as well as true believers.
   2.Though the strength and power of the soul’s diseases be broken in believers, by renewing grace, yet there is no disease in the unrenewed but believers are in part liable to it, and have the relics of it to groan under, while they are here below.
  3. I am not to speak of the diseases of the body natural, which is the province of physicians; nor of the body politic, or civil society, which is the business of politicians and statesmen: though in the meantime the abounding of those at this day is so visible to all, that we have ground to bewail and mourn over them before the Lord. Ah! The diseases of our body, both civil and ecclesiastic, are so great and lamentable, that we may justly apply that word to ourselves, which we have in Isa. i. 5, 6, “The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint; from the sole of the foot even unto the head, there is no soundness in it, but wounds, bruises, and putrifying sores.” Such a case, indeed, is mournful, yet, blessed be God, it is not separate. There is balm in Gilead for the state as well as the church, and we should plead with the great physician in Israel to pity both, and heal their respective diseases. Thanks be to God that he is both able and willing, and that he gives us such promises to plead with him, as these following, in Isa. i. 25, 26, “And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin. And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning; afterwards thou shalt be called the city of righteousness,” &c. And that in Isa. xlix. 22, 23, “Thus saith the Lord God, Behold I will lift up my hand to the Gentiles and set up my standard to the people; and they shall bring thy sons in their arms and thy daughters shall be carried on their shoulders; and kings shall be thy nursing-fathers, and their queens thy nursing-mothers,” &c. And that promise in Isa. lx. 17, 18, “I shall make thy officers peace, and thine exactors righteousness; violence shall no more be hears in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls salvation and thy gates praise.” Now it is surely the duty of all the members of both church and state, to plead these promises with God, and to wait his time for accomplishing them to us. O what is there so hard, but the outpouring of his Spirit can do?
    4. The diseases which I propose to speak of in this place, are the sins of spiritual plagues and distempers of men’s souls. Which are very dangerous and deadly. These we ought all to know, with symptoms and effects, that we may seek after the balm in Gilead, which is mercifully provided of God for our healing. God would have every man to know the plague of his own heart, 1 Kings viii. 38. This every man should know and be acquainted with in the first place, in order to healing; though yet we are not wholly to confine our thoughts and care about those diseases which are private and personal, but show our concern also about those which are public and national; of which more afterwards. 
    5. These soul distempers are called in scripture, diseases, wounds, and sickness, Ps. xxxviii. 5; ciii. ; cxlvii. 3; Ezek. xxxvi. 4; Matt. ix. 12. Because they produce effects in the soul like to those which diseases produce in the body; such as, (1.) As diseases waste the beauty of the body, and produce uncomeliness and deformity in it, Ps. xxxix. 11. As they make the eyes sink and turn dull, the skin shrink up and gather blackness, the flesh melt away, and bones stick out, and the most beautiful person to look pale and ghastly; so our sins and spiritual distempers destroy the comeliness of the soul, deprive it of its primitive beauty, the image of God, and bring upon it a most ghastly deformity, and make it resemble both brutes and devils, the one in sensuality and lust, the other in pride and malice. (2.) As diseases weaken the body, and make it unfit for spiritual work and exercises, as prayer, hearing, meditating, &c. so that duty becomes a burden to it. (3.) As the diseases deprive men of their appetite for food, and of their digestion; so sin takes away the soul’s appetite and digestion, that it hath no hunger for the bread of life, for communion with God, and the influences of his Spirit; and though the man attends ordinances, he doth not digest what he hears, nor is nourished by it. (4.) Diseases occasion pain in the body that it cannot rest; so sin brings anguish and torture into the soul. Hence David complains of his bones being vexed, and his soul being sore vexed, Ps. vi. 2, 3. These things being promised, I shall mention some of those dangerous diseases of the soul for which we need the balm of Gilead. 
   Atheism. Infidelity, or misbelief of divine truths, revealed to us, is a deadly disease, for it hinders the success of the gospel, and the saving of souls. What is it that keeps many halting so long between two opinions, and hovering betwixt Christ and the devil, but heir not believing firmly the Bible to be God’s word, and the gospel tidings to be certain truth; namely, that God sent Jesus Christ, his eternal Son, into the world, to assume our nature, and die for sin instead; and their not giving firm credit to the being of a God, the immortality of the soul, and the life to come. Though many will not openly question any of these truths, yet the wavering thoughts they have about them hinder them from failing in with the gospel-method of salvation which God hath established. Ah! This is a deadly disease! Also, there is much practical atheism among us; many profess to won God, and yet live as if they believed there was no God that made the world, and no providence that governs it: they pay God no homage nor respect; they put the creature, or self, in God’s room; they ascribe their mercies to fortune, or to their own wisdom or industry, rather than to God. A woful disease! God’s children indeed are cured of prevailing atheism, yet the dregs of the disease remain; and sometimes atheistical thoughts come to a great height in them, as in Asaph, though afterwards he was heartily grieved and ashamed for entertaining them, and calls himself both a fool and a beast for it, Ps. lxxiii. 21, 22. And no wonder he did so, for atheism and infidelity, though it abound in the church, yet there is no such disease in hell, no such madness there, for the devils believe and tremble, James ii. 19. But though the disease be grievous, yet Christ hath balm for it, and to him we must go both to help our unbelief and increase our faith.

and of gospel truths, is a mortal disease, and destroys many, even of those who profess to know him, according to Hos. iv. 6. There are multitudes living in the midst of gospel light, who yet continue in gross darkness. They are ignorant of the infinite justice and holy nature of God; and of the misery of man in his fallen state, of the evil of sin, and the ransom necessary for it. They are ignorant of Jesus Christ and his mediatory offices, and of the nature and necessity of Christ’s righteousness, and of faith which applies it to us. They know nothing of the Spirit’s office in our redemption, nor of his work in regeneration; yea, they do not so much as know if there be a Holy Ghost. Alas! That this disease of ignorance should still prevail, notwithstanding all the means of knowledge we enjoy. I grant that believers are spiritual illuminated, and get the strength of this disease broken at their first conversion, yet still much blindness remains with them; and frequently clouds of darkness so overshadows them, that they have but faint waves of divine mysteries. This is a sad disease, but yet there is balm in Gilead, and eye-salve in Israel for it, Rev. ii. 17, 18; Jer. xxiv. 7.

is a woeful disease; it clogs the mind, and unfits the soul for spiritual work. The thoughts of the world shut out the thoughts of God and eternity; they tempt many poor souls, like Martha, to be carefully troubled about many things, even things which will not avail them at a dying hour, while the one thing necessary is quite neglected and forgot. Ah! What numbers are there dying of this disease? When other plagues kill their thousands, this slays its ten thousands. O what havoc doth it daily make among professed Christians? Pharaoh’s words concerning the Israelites may well be applied to many of them, Exod. xiv. 3, “They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in.” So hot are they in pursuing the world, so busied  in providing for their families in paying their debts in making bargains, purchases and in courting the favour of men, that they can find no time in their lives, nor room in their hearts for precious Christ, and the concerns of their souls. O sinner! This disease of earthly-mindedness quite defeats the design of the gospel, and mars your profiting by Sabbaths and sermons; it turns the house of God into a place of merchandize, by your thoughtfulness in it about worldly gain and profit. What a fearful distemper is this, that turns a man’s head and heart where his feet should be! That makes him bestow his soul and all its noble faculties upon a little white and yellow clay! and so all his days dig for dross and dung with mattocks of gold! Nothing can cure this disease but the balm of Gilead. The prevailing power of it is indeed broken in believers at conversion, the world is then put down from the throne and chief place in the soul; yet afterwards it does rally its broken forces, and struggles hard to recover the throne again; and this proves very troublesome even to the best. It distracts their thoughts, molests them in holy duties, and steals away their affections from Christ and heaven. This is a sore plague, yet there is balm in Israel and help in God’s word and promise for it; Cant.  iv. 8; Jer. xxxii.4; Col. iii. 1, 2.

is a sore disease, when the heart becomes backward to pay God a visit in secret, and the man unwilling to go to his closet to converse with his Maker. Ah! This is the case with many, who would rather toil their bodies a whole day, than spend a quarter of an hour upon their knees with God in secret. Their animal spirits are vigorous and lively in pursuing their worldly business, or even their diversions; but they are low and faint in soul-work and spiritual exercises. We see many who do not weary to spend whole days, yea, and nights too, in drinking, dancing, gaming, and serving their lusts; but they grudge to give God so much as one day, or any part even of his own day. They say of Sabbaths and sermons, “What a weariness hath it? When will the Sabbath be gone?” This is a prevailing disease, and how strong are the drags of it in believers! For though at conversion, their hearts are reconciled to God and his ways, yet, at times, they feel much of a recurring backwardness for spiritual work, so that when they would do good, evil is present with them. But yet there is balm for the disease, in the physician of Israel, and his gracious promises, Psal. cx. 3; Isa. xl. 31; Ezek. xxxvi. 27.

prevailing and venting itself various ways, is a sad disease. Sometimes it rises like a flood, swells high, and carries all before it, like the current of a tide that cannot be withstood. So it is with those in whom the strength of corruption was never subdued by converting grace. And though the tide be turned with renewed persons, yet upon some occasions we find them making complaints of the prevalency of indwelling sin, through the power of temptation, as Paul, Rom. vii. And David, Psal. lxv, “Iniquities prevail against me;” and Isa. lxiv. 6, “Our iniquities like the wind have taken us away.” This is a most humbling disease; yet the physician of Israel hath provided balm for it in his word, Psal. lxv.3; Mic. vii. 19; Rom. vii. 23, 25.

is a woeful disease. When men draw near to God with their lips only, and give him no more but bodily service, which is no better than that of a statue on a tomb, with eyes and hands lift up, only it wants a voice.  And how unpleasant is a voice to God without the heart and affections? He heavily complains of it, Isa. xxix. 13. Among the unrenewed, hypocrisy is a deadly and reigning disease. And though the converted be delivered from its reigning power, yet they are sadly distressed with its remains, and often put to complain that they give God more of the body than the heart in duty; and that their prayers are little better than lip labour. But the physician of Israel hath promised balm for this disease, Jer. xxxi. 33; Prov. iv. 18; 2 Cor. iv.16.

Alas! For the unfixedness of the heart, that goeth out in many vain excursions towards the world and its trifles, and even in time of the most solemn approaches unto God! Hereby our religions performances are woefully marred, and God provoked to loathe and abhor them. There is a voluntary and habitual wandering of heart that is the reigning plague of the unregenerate: and there is an involuntary wandering that is a disease of God’s people, which they bemoan and lament before the Lord. But there is balm in Gilead for it in all shapes; Jer. xxxii. 29; Ezek. xi. 19.

is the common disease of god’s people. They are liable to backslide from the power of life of godliness, and to lose their former spirituality and liveliness in servicing God in their closets, families, and public assemblies; so that sometimes, their religions duties are like to wither and dwindle away into a dead form, and “the things that remain are ready to die,” as it was with the church of Sardis, Rev. iii. 2. This decay comes upon them when known sin or sloth are indulged by men. Then it is that spiritual exercises become a weariness, and aversion grows to hear-work and secret duties, such as prayer, reading the Bible, meditation, and communing with their own hearts; then the graces languish, the faith of divine revelation becomes weak, the truths which God reveals concerning his glorious perfections, the excellencies of Christ, and concerning sin and duty, heaven and hell, make but small impression on the mind. Then repentance is restrained, and the soul is little affected with God and its evil; then love turns cool to Christ and his image, it doth not constrain to duty, nor to hate and mortify sin as before; than hope becomes faint and languid, and hath not such desirous expectations of the eternal world, and things unseen, as to fortify the soul against the allurements of the devil, the world and the flesh. This spiritual consumption is a mournful disease, and calls us speedily to apply to the Physician of Israel for the balm he hath promised for it, Deut. xxx. 6; Hos. xiv. 4-6; Psal. lxix. 32; John xiv. 19; Gal. ii. 20.

is one of God’s people’s diseases that requires this balm. They are often cast down by outward afflictions, and especially by the prevalency of sin and Satan’s temptations, by the hidings of God’s face, the shutting out of their prayers, the darkening of their evidences, the revival of former guilt, and the renewing of mount Sinai’s thunderings against them. Under these trials, they are apt to think that God holds them for his enemies, and writes bitter things against them, and hence are put to cry with the psalmist, “Hath God forgotten to be gracious? Is his mercy clean gone for ever? And will he be favourable no more? This is a disease which sadly enfeebles their hearts and weakens their hands; yet the great Physician of the church hath provide balm for it, Psal. xlii. 5 &c.; Isa. xli. 10, 17, 18; liv. 7, &c. lvii. 16, &c.; Jer. xxxi. 25; Heb. xiii. 5, 6.

Alas! We turn unthankful both for common and special mercies, and for the unspeakable gift of Jesus Christ to Adam’s fallen race. What bad requitals do we make of God for his goodness! There are many who make use of God’s mercies as darts to shoot at heaven, and weapons to fight against God himself. The more he gives them of health and money, they turn the more profane and debauched; so that instead of serving God with his benefits, they make a sacrifice of them to the devil, Hos. ii. 8. I fear such will be found guilty of this evil, who bestow their time and money upon games and pastimes, balls and assemblies, plays and comedies, and such vanities that prove nurseries of sin, and serve greatly to debauch the minds and morals of men and women. O let us not ungratefully requite the Lord our gracious benefactor. Ah! How much of this disease remains even with the best! Even Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him 2 Chron. xxxii. 25. Great need have we all of the balm of Gilead to cure us of this plague.

The unbeliever goes about to build an imaginary tower of his own righteousness, and will not submit to the righteousness of Christ the glorious Surety, who hath brought in an everlasting and law-biding righteousness for sinners to fly to. Nay believers who have actually fled to it, still groan under the remains of this woeful disease within them. They have still a hankering after some dependence upon their duties and performances, although they cannot but own that their best duties need the blood of Christ, as well as their worst sins; and if they be not washed from the sins that cleave to them, they would damn them. O! then, what need have we all of the balm of Gilead, and the Physician there, for these deadly diseases which we cleave to?
 The time would fail me to mention and insist upon many other grievous disease which abound among us; such as pride, self-conceit, and lifting up ourselves, because of some attainments, above others; discontentment with our lot and condition in the world; impatience under crosses, sinful self-love, intemperance, covetousness, envy, rash anger, malice, revenge, and many other deadly plagues. However light some may make of these distempers, yet there is none of them but what will prove deadly, if the balm of Gilead, and Physician there, be not applied to for cure. But, blessed be the God of Israel, that this balm is a universal medicine, a catholicon for all manner of soul-diseases, if sinners would but seek to it, and submit to the application of it in the Physician’s own way. May we all be brought to see and feel our diseases in time, that we may hasten to the great Physician of the church, while his balm and power are present to heal us. May God of his infinite mercy determine us to it, for Christ Jesus sake. Amen.

Meet the Puritans


was a zealous nonconformist, and a considerable sufferer under the oppressions of the persecuting prelates. In the year 1569, he and Mr. Nicholas Crane, another puritan minister, were licensed to preach by Bishop Grindal. Their licenses are said to have been granted on condition that they should avoid all conventicles, and all things contrary to the order established in this kingdom. Accordingly, they made the following promise, signed with their own hands:—” I do faithfully ” promise, that I will not, any time hereafter, use any ” public preaching, or open reading, or expounding of the ” scriptures; nor cause, neither be present at, any private ” assemblies of prayer or expounding of the scriptures, or ” ministering the communion in any house, or other place, contrary to the state of religion now by public authority ” established, or contrary to the laws of this realm of England. Neither will I inveigh against any rites or ceremonies used or received by common authority within “this realm.” Such were the conditions on which these divines entered the sacred function! But, surely, if the church of England, so lately separated from the church of Rome, had come immediately from heaven, and been as infallible as its natural parent, the mother church, pretended, it would have been too wisely constructed to require such tyrannical promises of the Lord’s servants.

The two divines were afterwards apprehended and cast into prison for nonconformity, where they remained more than twelve months, and then they were released. But persisting in the same practice, and not keeping to the exact order established in the church of England, Mr. Bonham was again committed to prison, and Mr. Crane was silenced from preaching within the diocese of London; but it floes not appear how long they continued under these ecclesiastical oppressions.

Mr. Bonham was a zealous man in the cause of the reformation. Being concerned for the restoration of a purer ecclesiastical discipline, he, in 1572, united with his brethren in the formation of the presbyterian church at Wandsworth in Surrey. Our divine was afterwards called to endure fresh trials. Mr. Bonham and Mr. Nicholas Standen, another puritan minister, were brought under the tyrannical power of the high commission, and cast into prison for nonconformity. After having continued under confinement a long time, and being deeply afflicted with the sickness of the prison, they presented their petitions to the lords of the council, to which their lordships paid immediate attention. They accordingly addressed a letter to Archbishop Parker and other commissioners, signifying that they should be glad to assist them in any lawful cause against such as refused conformity; yet they did not like men to be so long detained without having their cause examined, and desire them to proceed in such cases more speedily in future. They entreat them to examine the cause of the two complainants, and, in case they should be found so sick that they could not continue in prison without inconvenience, to suffer them to be bailed till their cause should be ended.

This effort of the council seems to have been without any good effect. Undismayed, however, by the first repulse, they made a second application, but in a style much more peremptory. They addressed another letter to the archbishop alone, signifying, that, for good considerations, it was her majesty’s pleasure that Bonham and Standen, committed by his lordship for breach of conformity, should be set at liberty, upon warning to observe the laws in their public ministry in future, or else to abstain from it.

Mr. Strype observes, that, during the above year, these two divines were accused of being concerned in Undertree’s sham plot, and committed to prison; but, upon examination, they were found innocent, and were both acquitted and released by order of council.

Puritians Archive

In God’s Arms (Poetry)

The Christian’s Rest
Christian Poetry
by Nancy Moelker
(Jenison, MI)

The Christian’s Rest

Resting in the arms of God –
Oh, what joy divine,
Just to know that I am His
And He is mine!

Resting in the arms of God,
I’ve no cause for fear.
Satan may assail me,
But my sovereign God is near.

Resting in the arms of God,
Submissive to His will,
Knowing He’ll work good for me
Through times of good or ill.

Resting in the arms of God,
Doubts and strivings cease.
Christ is all my righteousness,
And I have perfect peace.

Resting in the arms of God
Through life’s pilgrim way,
Trusting in His promises,
He leads me day by day.

Resting in the arms of God
At my final breath –
Christ has won the victory!
“Where’s thy sting, O death?”

Resting in the arms of God,
Heaven’s gates unfold.
Forever with my Savior
I’ll have joy and peace untold!

Resting in the arms of God –
Oh, what joy divine,
Just to know that I am His
And He is mine!
Resting in the arms of God
At my final breath –
Christ has won the victory!
“Where’s thy sting, O death?”

Resting in the arms of God,
Heaven’s gates unfold.
Forever with my Savior
I’ll have joy and peace untold!

Resting in the arms of God –
Oh, what joy divine,
Just to know that I am His
And He is mine!

Three R’s Blog

The True Manner of Keeping the Lord’s day.


ALMIGHTY God will have himself worshipped, not only in a private manner by private persons and families, but also in a more public sort, of all the godly joined together in a visible church: that by this means he may be known not only to  be the God and Lord of every singular person, but also of the creatures of the universal world. ….

3. Because that on this day Christ rested from all the sufferings of his passion, and finished the glorious work of our redemption. If, therefore, the finishing of the work of the first creation, by which God mightily manifested himself to his creatures, deserved a Sabbath to solemnize the memorial of so great a work, to honour of the worker, and therefore calls it “mine holy day,” (Isa. Lviii. 13;) much more does the new creation of the world, effected by the resurrection of Christ, whereby he mightily declared himself to be the Son of God (Rom. i. 4), deserve a Sabbath, for the perpetual commemoration of it, to the honour of Christ, and therefore worthily called the Lord’s day (Rev. i. 10.) For, as the deliverance out of the captivity of Babylon, being greater, took away the name from the deliverance out of the bondage of Egypt (Jer. xxiii. 7, 8;) so the day on which Christ finished the redemption of the world did more justly deserve to have the Sabbath kept on it, than on that day on which God ceased creating the world. As, therefore, in the creation, the first day wherein it was finished, was consecrated for a Sabbath; so in the time of redemption, the first day wherein it was perfected must be dedicated to a holy rest; but still a seventh day kept according to God’s moral commandment. The Jews kept the last day of the week, beginning their Sabbath with the night (Gen. ii. 2; Lev. xxiii. 32; Neh. xiii. 19), when God rested; but Christians honour the Lord better, on the first day of the week (Matt. xxviii. 1), beginning the Sabbath with the day when the Lord arose (Acts xx. 7, 11.) They kept their Sabbath in remembrance of the world’s creation; but Christians celebrate it in memorial of the world’s redemption; yea, the Lord’s day being the first of the creation and redemption, puts us in mind, both of the making of the old, and redeeming of the new world.

As, therefore, under the Old Testament, God, by the glory consisting of seven lamps, seven branches, &c. (Exod. xxv. 31), put them in remembrance of the creation, light, and Sabbath’s rest; so, under the New Testament, Christ, the true light of the world, appears in the midst of the seven lamps, and seven golden candlesticks (Rev. i. 13), to put us in mind to honour our Redeemer in the light of the gospel of the Lord’s seventh day of rest. And seeing the redemption, both for might and mercy, so far exceeds the creation, it stood with great reason that the greater work should carry the honour of the day. Neither does the honourable title of the Lord’s day diminish the glory of the Sabbath; but rather, being added, augments the dignity of it; as the name Israel, added to Jacob, made the patriarch the more renowned (Gen. xxxii. 28.)

The reason taken from the example of God’s resting from the work of the creation of the world continued in force till the Son of God ceased from the work of the redemption of the world, and the former gave place to the latter.

The Practice of Piety 
by Lewis Bayly. 
A Puritan Devotional Manual. 
(pp. 159-164)

 Press to Contniue 

Young Calvinists!

My Comforter

“My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” asks David in Psalm 22:1. We can fall into what seem to be terrible times of trial and feel like everything, even our own God, is against us. This feeling is what David expresses in his question. Trials can come in many ways and forms: perhaps we feel so fallen into a sin that even God can no longer save us, a loved one has been taken from us despite their youth and healthiness, or we ourselves suffer with some terrible illness. However, all of these things are only a minor comparison to what Christ, our caring Shepherd, has suffered. Christ suffered the full pouring out of God’s wrath for innumerable sins of an innumerable amount of His elect people. In His suffering, Christ became our Mediator who knows all our burdens and grants us full assurance of peace in salvation.

For us, Christ “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men,” (Phil. 2:7). As a man, we know that “Jesus wept” and felt the pain, weakness, and tiredness of our bodies (John 11:35, John 4:6, Matt. 8:24). He also knew what it felt like to be hated and unjustly tortured. Countless times the Pharisees questioned Jesus with wicked motives, men tried to push Him off of a cliff, He lost His friend Lazarus, and all His suffering climaxed when He bore the wrath of God on the cross. Now, the One who suffered all these unimaginable miseries has become our Mediator. Jesus, who suffered more than is imaginable–for this punishment came from the all powerful God– understands any pain that you or I may ever encounter. This merciful Saviour, our gracious Comforter, speaks to us and comforts us in the scriptures, through His voice in the preaching, and in speaking with us and answering our prayers.

In His word, Jesus assures us of our salvation, which brings us peace in any trial, saying “therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). Every week Jesus spiritually renews us with the preaching so that it is fitting to compare the preaching to milk or meat as is done in I Corinthians 3:2. On the Sabbath, we are assured that we have no need of fear, but may live instead devoting all our heart and soul in joy and thankfulness praising the God of our salvation. Lastly, Jesus works peace within us by answering our prayers. He is our “Emmanuel… God with us” and He knows everything we need (Matt. 1:23). For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (I Pet. 3:12)

Through any affliction we may face, our Lord Jesus is our comfort. He has been touched with our infirmities and knows the feelings of temptation (Heb 4:15). There is no man who can comfort us like our gentle Shepherd. He fully understands and comprehends the burdens we may face and has a compassionate love towards us, His sheep. How blessed we are to have a full assurance and confidence in Him knowing He is our faithful Mediator who “change[s] not” (Mal. 3:6).

Luke Christian Potjer


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!


One of the secrets of happy and beautiful life!

(J.R. Miller)

“As your days–so shall your strength be!” Deuteronomy 33:25

One of the secrets of happy and beautiful life, is to live one day at a time. Really, we never have anything to do any day–but the bit of God’s will for that day. If we do that well–we have absolutely nothing else to do.

Time is given to us in days. It was so from the beginning. This breaking up of time into little daily portions means a great deal more than we are accustomed to think. For one thing, it illustrates the gentleness and goodness of God. It would have made life intolerably burdensome if a year, instead of a day–had been the unit of division. It would have been hard to carry a heavy load, to endure a great sorrow, or to keep on at a hard duty–for such a long stretch of time. How dreary our common task-work would be–if there were no breaks in it, if we had to keep our hand to the plough for a whole year! We never could go on with our struggles, our battles, our suffering–if night did not mercifully settle down with its darkness, and bid us rest and renew our strength. 

We do not understand how great a mercy there is for us in the briefness of our short days. If they were even twice as long as they are–life would be intolerable! Many a time when the sun goes down–we feel that we could scarcely have gone another step. We would have fainted in defeat–if the summons to rest had not come just when it did.

We see the graciousness of the divine thoughtfulness in giving us time in periods of little days, which we can easily get through with–and not in great years, in which we would faint and fall by the way. It makes it possible for us to go on through all the long years and not to be overwrought, for we never have given to us at any one time–more than we can do between the morning and the evening.

If we learn well the lesson of living just one day at a time, without anxiety for either yesterday or tomorrow, we shall have found one of the great secrets of Christian peace. That is the way God teaches us to live. That is the lesson both of the Bible and of nature. If we learn it, it will cure us of all anxiety; it will save us from all feverish haste; it will enable us to live sweetly in any experience.

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