Well then, I will tell you. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and I myself have founded great empires; but upon what did these creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love, and to this very day millions will die for Him. . . . I think I understand something of human nature; and I tell you, all these were see more men, and I am a man; none else is like Him: Jesus Christ was more than a man. . . . I have inspired multitudes with such an enthusiastic devotion that they would have died for me . . . but to do this it was necessary that I should be visibly present with the electric influence of my looks, my words, of my voice. When I saw men and spoke to them, I lightened up the flame of self-devotion in their hearts. . . . Christ alone has succeeded in so raising the mind of man toward the unseen, that it becomes insensible to the barriers of time and space. Across a chasm of eighteen hundred years, Jesus Christ makes a demand which is beyond all others difficult to satisfy; He asks for that which a philosopher may often seek in vain at the hands of his friends, or a father of his children, or a bride of her spouse, or a man of his brother. He asks for the human heart; He will have it entirely to Himself. He demands it unconditionally; and forthwith His demand is granted. Wonderful! In defiance of time and space, the soul of man, with all its powers and faculties, becomes an annexation to the empire of Christ. All who sincerely believe in Him, experience that remarkable, supernatural love toward Him. This phenomenon is unaccountable; it is altogether beyond the scope of man's creative powers. Time, the great destroyer, is powerless to extinguish this sacred flame; time can neither exhaust its strength nor put a limit to its range. This is it, which strikes me most; I have often thought of it. This it is which proves to me quite convincingly the Divinity of Jesus Christ.
Do not be satisfied with the practice — without the principles of piety. It is not enough to have a correct creed — you must have a renewed heart. It is not sufficient to have an ornate ritual — you must have a holy life, and to be holy you must be renewed by the Holy Spirit. If this change is not wrought in you by the Holy Spirit, you see more who yield so readily to good will yield just as quickly to evil.
I do pray you not to imagine that natural religion is spiritual religion. Do not mistake the lessons learned at your mother's knee for the teachings of the Holy Spirit. Do not confuse a change with the change; and do not think that anything that can come to you by your first birth — can serve your turn without a second birth. see more "You must be born again," or else, though you spent the first six years of your life in the house of God, and though you were started under the most hallowed influences, you only want an opportunity, a temptation, a peculiar stress laid upon you — and you will go off where the old nature carries you, and you will find out for yourself, and to the horror of others, that all your early training had effected nothing, because it stopped short of the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
I would have every person examine himself to see whether his religion is vital to his own soul. Have you been born again? I inquire not now about your mother, or father, or friends. Have you been born again? Are you now condemned under sin, or are you justified by faith in Jesus Christ? There can be no proxies, and no sponsors here; every man see more must give account for himself to God; and each man, each woman, must come to the Savior personally, and receive Him, and be saved by Him, or else eternal ruin is certain.
It is a much easier thing to build a temple for God--than it is be a temple for God. Just so, it is a much more common thing for people to show zeal in repairing churches--than in reforming their own lives.
Likewise, there are many who, trained up in the ways of the Lord, are see more indefatigable in rendering some external service to the cause of the Lord Jesus Christ. They would give to the building of a church; they would work hard to construct it, and so forth. But, alas, you may give, and you may work, and you may attend to all the externals of religion--and yet have no part nor lot in the matter!
Yielding to godly influences may exist without any personal, vital godliness whatever! You may meet with God's people--and yet not be one of God's people. A young man may yield to his mother's advice--and yet never be really repentant on account of sin. He may listen to his father's word, and pay respect to the externals of his father's religion--but yet never have sincerely believed in the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is so easy to have been under religious influence from our youth up, and then to go on, year after year, never having raised the question whether we are true Christians or not!
We ought to learn to look up. Many people dwarf their lives and hinder the best possibilities of growth in their souls—by looking downward. They keep their eyes ever entangled in mere earthly sights and scenes, and miss seeing the glory of the hills that pierce the clouds, and of the heavens that bend over them. We grow in the direction in which our see more eyes habitually turn. We become like that toward which we look much and intently.
Yet there are those who never look upward at all. They never see anything but the things that are on the earth. They never see the stars. They never think of God. They do not pray. They have no place in their scheme of life for divine things.
Christ sanctifies all our crosses. They shall be medicinal to the soul; they shall work sin out--and work grace in. Christ sees to it that His people lose nothing in the furnace of affliction--but their drossy impurities. see more
Christ is the most rare blessing. Christ is a jewel that few are enriched with. This should both raise our esteem of Him--and quicken our pursuit after Him. Many hear of Christ--but few have Him. Many have Christ sounded in their ears--but few have Christ formed in their hearts.
Let us always keep up our distinction from the world. Not in a spirit of pride or self-righteousness, as if conscious of some supposed superiority in ourselves. But in a meek, lowly, and loving spirit — let us avoid all that is really evil, and abstain from what has the appearance of evil. Oh, to live in this world as strangers and see more pilgrims — as those whose treasure is above — and whose hearts are there also! ~ James Smith, "The Wondrous Love of Christ, as Displayed in His Intercessory Prayer!" 1861 ~
Let us not be much troubled about the world. As we are . . . chosen out of it, redeemed from it, and shall soon leave it — we should not allow ourselves to be very much affected by any of its see more affairs. The world's politics, pleasures, and pursuits — should be looked upon by us with the eye of a foreigner — for we are strangers and pilgrims on the earth, as all our fathers were. We arrived in the world but yesterday — and we leave tomorrow!
Let us not, therefore, mix up with the world, or be much taken up with its schemes and cares, its speculations or its prospects.
Let us not be dejected — if we are stripped of what we now have. We are not of the world — we do not have our portion here. We need but little of this world's goods, and our Heavenly Father will see to it that we have enough. He will not allow us to lose anything that is essential to our holiness or happiness. As our lives are insured by see more our Heavenly Father — so all our needs are anticipated, and provided for. Lose what we may — we shall never lose . . . our God, our title deed to our glorious inheritance, or our place at the marriage supper of the Lamb!
The world is no model for a Christian! We should . . . not dress so expensively, nor furnish our homes so extravagantly, nor live so luxuriously — as the world does! But as strangers and pilgrims in the world — we should abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.
Believers are not of the world. They are born from above, and possess a nature far superior to that of the world — which unfits them for its pleasures and pursuits, and qualifies them for the enjoyments and employments of the Heavenly world.
The world and the Church are essentially and eternally distinct — and they ought to be distinguishable. The Church ought not to mix with the world — but to bear a practical testimony against it, that its works and ways are evil. All through our Lord's prayer, He keeps up the distinction, and twice over He asserts of His disciples, "They are not of the world — even as I am not of the world!"
"Only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better." Luke 10:42
Paul prayed that his friends "may be able to discern what is best." Philippians 1:10 see more
We must be always making choices in this world. We cannot take up everything that lies in our path--and we ought to choose the best things. Even among 'right things' there is room for choice, for some right things are better than others.
There are many Christians, however, who do not habitually choose the best things--but second-rate things. They labor for the food that perishes--when they might labor for the food that endures unto everlasting life. Even in their prayers, they ask for temporal blessings--when they might ask for spiritual treasures!
They are like "the man with the muck-rake" in Bunyan's 'Pilgrim's Progress'--who only looks 'down' and drags his rake among the weeds and worthless rubbish--while over his head are crowns which he might take into his hands! They are like Esau, who sold his valuable birthright for some lentil stew. They toil for this world's vain things--when they might have been laying up treasures in Heaven!
We only have one life to live--and we ought therefore to do the best we possibly can with it. We pass through this world only once--and we ought to gather up and take with us the things that will truly enrich us--things we can keep forever!
It is not worth our while, to toil and moil, and strive and struggle--to do things that will leave no lasting results when our life is done--while there are things we can do which have eternal significance!
"Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things!" Colossians 3:1-2
There is no way of personal helpfulness but Christ's way, and there is no other secret of attaining it, but his secret. You cannot learn it from a book of rules. It is not a system of etiquette. It is a new life — it is Christ living in the heart! see more
The aim of the divine helpfulness, is not to make things easy for u us—but to make something of us. We need to keep this divine principle in mind in our helping of others. It is usually easier to give r relief—than it is to help another to grow strong. Yet in many cases, relief is the poorest help we can give; the very best is inner h see more help—that which makes one stronger, purer, truer, braver, that which makes one able to overcome. Someone has said, "To help another is the divinest privilege one can have. There are many who help us in mechanical things; there are a few who help us in our outside duties; there are perhaps only two or three who can help us in our most sacred sphere of inner life."
When we hear of men living in sin and yet claiming to be Christians, we are disgusted with their pretenses--but we are not deceived by their professions.
In the same manner, we care little for those who are orthodox see more Christians in creed--if it is clear that they are heterodox in life. He who believes the truth, should himself be true. How can we expect others to receive our religion--if it leaves us foul, false, malicious, and selfish?
We sicken at the sight of a dirty dish, and refuse even good food when it is placed thereon. So pure and holy is the doctrine of the cross, that . . . he who hears it aright will have his ear cleansed, he who believes it will have his mind and heart purged, he who preaches it should have his tongue purified.
Woe unto that man who brings reproach upon the gospel by an unholy walk and life!
Lord, evermore make us vessels fit for your own use, and then fill us with the pure juice of the grapes of sound doctrine and wholesome instruction. Do not allow us to be such foul cups as to be only fit for the wine of Sodom!
"Yes, He is altogether lovely! This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend!" Song of Songs 5:16
Jesus is . . . see more an ocean of delights, a sea of pleasure, a fountain of bliss!
There is enough in Jesus, and in the happiness which we shall eternally enjoy: to comfort the most dejected saint, to soothe the sorrows of the most tried soul, to strengthen the weakest, and to stimulate the most feeble to press onward in the path of tribulation!
O for . . . more spirituality of soul, more conformity to His lovely likeness, more unreserved dedication to His holy service!
I often try thus to praise His dear name--but am hindered . . . by this heavy clog of clay, by my evil heart of unbelief, and by Satan presenting something to the mind to alarm, or draw me aside.
But shortly--understanding, mind, will, and affections--will all be sweetly engaged and employed in ascribing, "Blessing and honor, thanksgiving and power--to Him who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb forever!"
My heart leaps within me at the thought of thus giving perfect and perpetual praise to my beloved Lord!
~ James Smith's autobiography, "Marvelous Mercy!" 1862 ~