The Worst Deathbed Companions by Matthew Mead

NPG D13659,Matthew Meade (Mead),by; after Robert White; Unknown artistNever rest in convictions—until they end in conversion. This is that wherein most men miscarry. They rest in their convictions, and take them for conversion—as if sin seen were therefore sin forgiven—as if a sight of the lack of grace were the truth of the work of grace.

You who are at any time under convictions, O take heed of resting in them! Though it is true, that conviction is the first step to conversion—yet it is not conversion. A man may carry his convictions along with him into hell.

What is that which troubles poor creatures, when they come to die, but this—-I have not improved my convictions; at such a time I was convinced of sin—but yet I went on in sin in the face of my convictions; in such a sermon I was convinced of such a duty—but I slighted the conviction; I was convinced of my lack of Christ, and of the readiness of Christ to pardon and save; but alas! I followed not the conviction.

Remember this; slighted convictions are the worst death-bed companions. There are two things especially, which above all others make a death-bed very uncomfortable:

  1. Purposes and promises not performed.
  2. Convictions slighted and not improved.

When a man takes up purposes to close with Christ—and yet puts them not into execution; and when he is convinced of sin and duty—and yet improves not his convictions—O this will sting and wound at last!

~ Matthew Mead, The Almost Christian Discovered

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Rest in God, not in the World by Thomas a Kempis

Christian and Faithful in Vanity FairMake no great account who is for thee or against thee, but mind only the present duty and take care that God be with thee in whatsoever you do. Have a good conscience and God will defend you, for he whom God will help no man’s perverseness shall be able to hurt. If you know how to hold your peace and to suffer, without doubt you shall see the help of the Lord. He knows the time and the way to deliver you, therefore you must resign yourself to Him. To God it belongs to help and to deliver from all confusion. Oftentimes it is very profitable for keeping us in greater humility, that others know and rebuke our faults.

When a man humbles himself for his defects, he then easily pacifies others and quickly satisfies those that are angered against him. God protects and delivers the humble man, He loves and comforts the humble man, to the humble man He inclines Himself, on the humble He bestows great grace, and when he is cast down He raises him to glory: to the humble He reveals His secrets, and sweetly draws and invites him to Himself. The humble man having received reproach, is yet in sufficient peace, because he rests on God and not on the world. Reckon not yourself to have profited in anywise unless you feel yourself to be inferior to all.

~ Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

The Spirit Comforting for Believers Only by John Owen

“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” – John 14:16-17 (KJV)

johnowenChrist taught that the Holy Spirit could not be received by the world (John 14:17). The Spirit does indeed act on the world, for their conviction and the conversion of many of them, but as a Spirit of consolation He cannot be received by them until other gracious acts of His have taken place in them. All His acts as Comforter presuppose saving faith.

Receiving the Holy Spirit as Comforter is the great fundamental privilege of true believers, by which, through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, they are exalted above all other persons in this world.

The comfort of the Spirit is not the first saving work on the souls of men. Regeneration and sanctification always precede it. The Spirit comforts none but those whom He has first sanctified. No others can benefit from His work as Comforter, for they are incapable of appreciating it. This is why the whole work of the Holy Spirit as Comforter, the fulfilment of the most glorious promise that Christ ever made to His Church, is so neglected and despised by so many professing Christians. It is an evidence of the fallen state of the Christian profession. If men are not first sanctified by the Holy Spirit, they can never be comforted by Him.

~ John Owen, The Spirit and the Church, Banner of Truth Trust, pp 153-154

Christian Duties in the Gifts of the Holy Spirit by John Owen

johnowenIt is our duty to make use of the gift of the Spirit, which was bought for us by Christ and is of priceless value to our souls. There are two ways in which we may be guilty of neglecting this heavenly fit. We neglect it when we do not value it, seek it, or make every effort to obtain it. We neglect this gift also when we do not constantly and diligently make use of it to fulfil the purpose for which God gave it.

Do you have an ability to pray always, freely given to you by the Holy Spirit? Why then do you not always pray, in private, in your families and whenever you have opportunity?

There are so many hindrances and difficulties in the way of prayer. What discouragements rise up against it. What an aversion to prayer has corrupt nature. What distractions and weariness we find when we pray. Yet our eternal happiness and our present comforts and joys so much depend upon it. Who can fully describe the foolishness and the sinfulness of neglecting this gift of prayer? Can we grieve the Holy Spirit more, and more effectively damage our own souls than by neglecting to pray? Is not this the way to “quench the Spirit”? How shall we answer for the contempt of this gracious help offered us by Jesus Christ?

Shall others at the tinkling of a bell rise and run to prayers to be said or sung, prayers in which they have no spiritual interest, said only to quiet their consciences and satisfy their prejudices, and shall we neglect that spiritual help which has so graciously been given to us? Will not the blind devotion and superstition of multitudes rise up in judgement against us if we neglect this privilege and grace? Having lost the Spirit of God, they have invented many ways to keep up the appearance of prayer. And shall we who have received that Spirit which the world cannot receive be treacherous and disobedient to his promptings and leadings? Who can express the horrible ingratitude of such a sin?

I press this particularly because the temptations and dangers of the days we live in especially call for it. If we would talk less and pray more, things would be better than they are in the world. At least we should be enabled to bear them better and be better prepared to meet whatever we are called to go through.

~ John Owen, The Spirit and the Church, Banner of Truth Trust (2002), pp 125 -126

The Heart of the Believer is Christ’s Garden by C.H. Spurgeon

“I have come into My garden–My sister, My bride!”
– Song of Solomon 5:1

gardenThe heart of the believer is Christ’s garden. He bought it with His precious blood, and He enters it and claims it as His own.

(1) A garden implies separation. It is not the open common, nor is it a wilderness. A garden is walled around, or hedged in. Would that we could see the wall of separation between the Christian and the world made broader and stronger. It makes one sad to hear Christians saying, “Well, there is no harm in this; there is no harm in that,” thus getting as near to the world as possible. Grace is at a low ebb in that soul, which can even raise the question of how far it may go in worldly conformity!

(2) A garden is a place of beauty, it far surpasses the wild uncultivated fields. The genuine Christian must seek to be more excellent in his life than the best moralist, because Christ’s garden ought to produce the best flowers in all the world. Even the best is poor–compared with Christ’s deservings. Let us not put Him off with withered and dwarf plants. The rarest, richest, choicest lilies and roses–ought to bloom in Christ’s own garden!

(3) The garden is a place of growth. The saints are not to remain undeveloped, always mere buds and blossoms. We should grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Growth should be rapid where Jesus is the Gardener, and the Holy Spirit is the dew from above.

(4) A garden is a place of retirement. So the Lord Jesus Christ would have us reserve our hearts as a place in which He can manifest Himself, as He does not unto the world. O that Christians were more retired, that they kept their hearts more closely shut up for Christ! We often worry and trouble ourselves, like Martha, with much serving–so that we have not the room for Christ that Mary had, and do not sit at His feet as we should.

Lord grant the sweet showers of Your grace to water Your garden this day!

~ C.H. Spurgeon (1834-1892)

Utterance a Gift of the Holy Spirit by John Owen

“that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge” – 1Cor. 1:5  

“and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel” – Eph 6:19

johnowenUtterance is a special gift of the Holy Spirit exercised both in speaking to men in the name of God, in preaching the Word, and in speaking to God for ourselves and others.

It is the ability to speak out boldly and freely what is in our minds, and in sacred things, in praying a preaching, it is the gift of the Holy Spirit. We are to pray for this gift for ourselves or others since the spiritual edification of the church depends on it. The foundation of the church was laid in it, as an extraordinary gift,

“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” – Acts 2:4  

– and now the building up of the church continues through it. Utterance is the sole means of public intercourse between God and His church.

It is the Spirit who enables men to carry out every duty required of them in the right way, and without his help we can do nothing as we should.

This is true of ministers of the gospel as they fulfil their ministry in prayer and preaching.

“But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” – Acts 6:4 

“to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” – Eph 4:12

Utterance is the gift of the Spirit to them and in them. Any who are destitute of this gift cannot carry out the duties of a minister of the gospel. If a spiritual ability to pray and preach is not essential to the office of the ministry, then what is?

This gift is so spiritually beneficial for the building up of Christians individually, of Christian families, and especially of churches, that it would be impious not to attribute it to the working of the Spirit. Experience shows that it is not merely a matter of natural ability improved by practice. And without that illumination of the mind which is a special gift of the Spirit, no-one attains the ability to pray.

~ John Owen, The Spirit and the Church (Puritan Paperbacks), Banner of Truth, pp 121 – 122

The Scripture is Where We Find Christ by John Owen

“the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” – Matthew 13:45-46 (ESV)

johnowenThis in reading and studying the holy Scripture, we ought with all diligence to search and attend unto, as did the prophets of old (1 Peter 1: 11, 12), if we intend by them to be made “wise unto salvation.” We should herein be as the merchant-man that seeks for pearls; he seeks for all sorts of them, but when he has found one of “great price,” he parts with all to make it his own. The Scripture is the field, the place, the mine where we search and dig for pearls (See Prov. 2: 1-6). Every sacred truth that is made effectual unto the good of our souls, is a pearl whereby we are enriched; but when we meet with, when we fall upon this pearl of price, the glory of Christ, – this is that which the soul of a believer cleaves unto with joy. Then do we find food for souls in the word of truth, then do we taste how gracious the Lord is therein, then is the Scripture full of refreshment unto us as a spring of living water, – when we are taken into blessed views of the glory of Christ therein. And we are in the best frame of duty, when the principal motive in our minds to contend earnestly for retaining the possession of the Scripture against all that would deprive us of it, or discourage us from a daily diligent search into it, is this, – that they would take from us the only glass wherein we may behold the glory of Christ. This is the glory of the Scripture, that it is the great, yea, the only, outward means of representing unto us the glory of Christ.

~ John Owen, The Glory of Christ, Monergism Books

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