When We Are Loss About God’s Work by Matthew Henry

matthew-henry-kindleWhen the methods of Providence are dark and intricate, and we are quite at a loss what God is about to do with us—His way is in the sea, and His path in the great waters, and His footsteps are not known, clouds and darkness are round about Him—a meek and quiet spirit acquiesces in an assurance that all things shall work together for good to us, if we love God, though we cannot understand how or which way. It teaches us to follow God with an implicit faith, as Abraham did when he went out, not knowing where he went, but knowing very well whom he followed. It quiets us with this, that though what He does we know not now, yet we shall know hereafter. John 13:7. When poor Job was brought to that dismal plunge, that he could no way trace the footsteps of divine Providence, but was almost lost in the labyrinth, Job 23:8, 9, how quietly does he sit down with this thought:

“But He knows the way that I take: when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”

~ Matthew Henry, A Discourse on Meekness and Quietness of Spirit, Monergism Books

Wait Upon God in your Vocations by Matthew Henry

s769313777709094367_p1289_i1_w640When you go to your shops, or apply yourselves to the business of your particular calling, wait upon God for His presence with you. Your business calls for your constant attendance everyday, and all the day; keep the shop, and your shop will keep you; but let your attendance on God in your callings. Eye God’s providence in all the occurrences of them. Open shop with this thought: “I am now in the way of my duty, and I depend upon God to bless me in it.” When you are waiting for customers, wait on God to find you something to do in that calling to which He has called you; those you call chance customers, you should rather call providence customers, and should say of the advantage you make by them, “The Lord my God brought it to me.”

When you are buying and selling, see God’s eye upon you, to observe whether you are honest and just in your dealings, and do no wrong to those you deal with; and let your eye then be up to Him, for that discretion to which God does instruct not only the farmer, but the tradesman (Isaiah 28:26); that prudence which directs the way, and with which it is promised the good man shall order his affairs; for that blessing which makes rich, and adds no sorrow with it; for that honest profit which may be expected in the way of honest diligence.

Whatever your employments be, in country-business, city-business, or sea-business, or only in the business of the house, go about them in the fear of God, depending upon Him to make them comfortable and successful, and to prosper the work of your hands unto you. And hereby you will arm yourselves against the many temptations you are compassed about with in your worldly business; by waiting on God you will be freed from the care and cumber which attends much serving, will have your minds raised above the little things of sense and time, will be serving God when you are most busy about the world, and will have God in your hearts when your hands are full of the world.

~ Matthew Henry, The Secret of Communion with God, Solid Ground Books, pp 62-63

Man a Nothing from Valley of Vision

Valley-CoverLord, it is my chief design to bring my heart back to thee.
Convince me that I cannot be my own God,
or make myself happy,
nor my own Christ to restore my joy,
nor my own Spirit to teach, guide, rule me.
Help me to see that grace does this by providential affliction,
for when my credit is good thou dost cast me lower,
when riches are my idol thou dost wing them away,
when pleasure is my all thou dost turn it into bitterness.
Take away my roving eye, curious ear, greedy appetite, lustful heart;
show me that none of these things
can heal a wounded conscience,
or support a tottering frame,
or uphold a departing spirit.
then take me to the cross
and leave me there.

~ Valley of Vision, Banner of Truth

Waiting Upon God in the Dark by Matthew Henry

s769313777709094367_p1289_i1_w640Though it be a dark day, yet let us wait upon God all the day. Though while we are kept waiting for what God will do, we are kept in the dark concerning what he is doing, and what is best for us to do, yet, let us be content to wait in the dark. Though we see not our signs, though there is none to tell us how long, yet let us resolve to wait, how long soever it be; for though what God does we know not now, yet we shall know hereafter, when the mystery of God shall be finished.

Never was man more at a loss concerning God’s dealings with him than poor Job was:

“Behold, I go forward, but he is not there, and backward, but I do not perceive him; on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him; he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him.” – Job 23:8-9 (ESV)

yet he sits down (v.10), resolving to wait on God all the day with a satisfaction in this, that though he know not the way that he takes,

“But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.” – Job 23:10 (ESV)

He sits by as a refiner, and will take care that the gold be in the furnace no longer than is needful for the refining of it. When God’s way is in the sea, so that he cannot be traced, yet we are sure his way is in the sanctuary, so that he may be trusted (Psalm 72:13, 19). And when “clouds and darkness are round about him,” yet even then “justice and judgement are the habitation of his throne.”

~ Matthew Henry, The Secret Communion with God, Solid Ground Christian Books, p42

Observations After Prayer by Matthew Henry

s769313777709094367_p1289_i1_w640We must look up after our prayers with an eye of observation, what returns God makes to our prayers. We must look up, as one who has shot an arrow looks after it to see how near it comes to the mark; we must look within us, and observe what the frame of our spirits is after we have been at prayer, how well satisfied they are in the will of God, and how well disposed to accommodate themselves to it; we must look about us, and observe how Providence works concerning us, that if our prayers be answered, we may return to give thanks; if not, that we may remove what hinders, and may continue waiting. Thus we must set ourselves upon our watch-tower, to see what God will say unto us, and must be ready to hear it, expecting that God will give us an answer of peace, and resolving that we will return no more to folly:

“Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly.” – Psalm 85:8

Thus must we keep up our communion with God; hoping that whenever we lift up our communion with God; hoping that whenever we lift up our hearts unto Him, He will lift up the light of His countenance upon us. Sometimes the answer is quick, “While they are yet speaking, I will hear;” quicker than the return of any of your posts; but if it be not, when we have prayed we must wait.

Let us learn thus to direct our prayers, and thus to look up; to be inward with God in every duty, to make heartwork of it, or we make nothing of it. Let us not worship in the outward court, when we are commanded and encouraged to enter within the vail.

~ Matthew Henry, The Secret of Communion with God, Solid Ground Christian Books, p 26

Forever Damned

“The rich man also died and was buried. In Hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him: Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.” ~ Luke 16:22-24

At last I am in Hell. In spite of all my resolutions not to come, I am here to suffer the just demands of a broken law. O God, can it be that I, who has taught the way of truth, virtue and Heaven–should choose sin, Hell and eternal damnation?

Death and judgement are passed. The time of repentance has slipped away. Mercy’s door is forever shut. I would not heed the warning voice of God, though it thundered in my ears night and day from my cradle to my grave. I hardened my heart and said, “I will not yield!”

At last death came; I tried to repent, but my heart refused to shed a tear. I passed into eternity, a damned soul.

The worm that never dies has coiled its slimy folds around my naked heart and in it fastened its venomous fangs.

Merciful God, pity me. But the white-winged angel of mercy has flown away forever.

The fiends with their bony hands are grasping for my defenseless soul. Away, you devils, you shall not touch me, you shall not have my soul.

Ah, they have me at last! It is useless for me to resist. Is there none to deliver–none, great God, none! I turned my back on You, now You refuse to hear my cry of anguish. The flames of damnation are wrapping my soul in shrouds of eternal misery!

O that I had a drop of water to quench this raging thirst that consumes me, but there is no water here.

Devils laugh at my agony and exultantly shout: Enjoy the wages of sin, FOREVER!

O God, I have been here but one short hour and have suffered more than a thousand tongues can tell; and must I forever suffer thus? Through the ceaseless ages yet to come, must I still suffer on?

Yes, it is forever! FOREVER!

The darkness is intense, broken only by the lurid flashes of divine wrath that are thrown like thunderbolts from the hand of a just God! I grope in the darkness to find Him, but plunge over the precipice of despair onto the rocks below.

Bruised and mangled I rise and stagger on in search of friends, but none are found. All are my enemies. I scream for help and the only answer is the echo of my own sad cry and the yells of delight from the throats of demons.

Alone! Yet multitudes are here; they gnash on me with their teeth; they trample me under their feet. I struggle to rise, and they dash me into the lake of everlasting fire.

Alone! Yes, alone! Without God, without hope, without Heaven. O that I had a moment in which to repent, but it will never be given. I have sealed my own doom. God’s mercy was extended; I refused until too late. Now Eternal Justice is being satisfied. ‘Tis just. God is love and just and holy. He is righteous, but I am guilty damned, and that righteously.

~ J.M. Humphrey (1912)

Christian Conscience Bound by the Word of God by Herman Bavinck

9780801098024Among all people who know God’s Word, conscience is absolutely bound to that Word, and believing in the gospel, therefore, is the duty of everyone; unbelief is sin. Among those who do not know the Word, the conscience is equipped to bound to it, but is not actually bound:

“If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.” – John 15:22

“For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.” – Romans 2:12

The conscience that is bound to the Word of God is said to be enlightened. God binds the conscience and the conscience in turn binds and obligates the person. Therefore, God alone binds the conscience. But there are also improper, indirect binders of the conscience. First, there are human laws made by ecclesiastical or civil governments, which papists claim bind the conscience just as properly as the law of God does. Furthermore, on the basis of a number of Scripture passages:

“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church,
and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” – Matthew 16:18

“The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me,
and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” – Luke 10:16

“Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed,
and those who resist will incur judgement.” – Romans 13:2

“Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath
but also for the sake of conscience.” – Romans 13:5

they contend that the church and worldly government may compel the conscience just as God does. In opposition, the Reformed said that only the one who knows the conscience can bind and punish it. Other people can compel us, but no human being, prince, Satan, or angel can obligate us morally in the conscience; only God can. Nevertheless, human laws can bind us indirectly by virtue of God’s commandment and to the extent that they correspond to God’s command. If they conflict with God’s law, then the conscience may consider itself not to be bound and is obligated to passive resistance; we must obey God rather than other people (Daniel 3:28; Acts 4:19). Second, oaths and promises also bind the conscience, unless they are a bond of unrighteousness.

~ Herman Bavinck, Reformed Ethics, Baker Publishing 2019, pp 198 – 199