“The deep things of God” by Charles Spurgeon

“We shall gaze awhile upon the glory which awaits us. We shall say a little—and oh, how little it will be—upon that glory of which we have so sure a prospect, that glory which is prepared for us in Christ Jesus, and of which He is the hope!

I pray that our eyes may be strengthened that we may see the heavenly light, and that our ears may be opened to hear sweet voices from the better land.

As for me, I cannot say that I will speak of the glory, but I will try to stammer about it. For the best language to which a man can reach concerning glory must be a mere stammering.

Paul did but see a little of it for a short time, and he confessed that he heard things that it was not lawful for a man to utter. And I doubt not that he felt utterly nonplussed as to describing what he had seen.

Though a great master of language, yet for once he was overpowered. The grandeur of his theme made him silent. As for us, what can we do, where even Paul breaks down?

Pray, dear friends, that the Spirit of glory may rest upon you, that He may open your eyes to see as much as can at present be seen of the heritage of the saints.

We are told that ‘eye hath not seen, neither hath ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.’ Yet the eye has seen wonderful things.

There are sunrises and sunsets, Alpine glories and ocean marvels which, once seen, cling to our memories throughout life. Yet even when nature is at her best she cannot give us an idea of the supernatural glory which God has prepared for His people.

The ear has heard sweet harmonies. Have we not enjoyed music which has thrilled us? Have we not listened to speech which has seemed to make our hearts dance within us?

And yet no melody of harp nor charm of oratory can ever raise us to a conception of the glory which God hath laid up for them that love Him. As for the heart of man, what strange things have entered it!

Men have exhibited fair fictions, woven in the loom of fancy, which have made the eyes to sparkle with their beauty and brightness; imagination has revelled and rioted in its own fantastic creations, roaming among islands of silver and mountains of gold, or swimming in seas of wine and rivers of milk.

But imagination has never been able to open the gate of pearl which shuts in the city of our God.

No, it hath not yet entered the heart of man. Yet the text goes on to say, ‘but He hath revealed it unto us by His Spirit.’ So that heaven is not an utterly unknown region, not altogether an inner brightness shut in with walls of impenetrable darkness.

God hath revealed joys which He has prepared for His beloved; but mark you, even though they be revealed of the Spirit, yet it is no common unveiling, and the reason that it is made known at all is ascribed to the fact that the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.’

So we see that the glory which awaits the saints is ranked among the deep things of God, and he that would speak thereof after the manner of the oracles of God must have much heavenly teaching.

It is easy to chatter according to human fancy, but if we would follow the sure teaching of the word of God we shall have need to be taught of the Holy Spirit, without whose anointing the deep things of God must be hidden from us.

Pray that we may be under that teaching while we dwell upon this theme.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Glory!” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 29 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1883), 277–278.

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“Love” by George Herbert

Love bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack’d anything.

‘A guest,’ I answer’d, ‘worthy to be here:’
Love said, ‘You shall be he.’
‘I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
I cannot look on Thee.’
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
‘Who made the eyes but I?’

‘Truth, Lord; but I have marr’d them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.’
‘And know you not,’ says Love, ‘Who bore the blame?’
‘My dear, then I will serve.’
‘You must sit down,’ says Love, ‘and taste my meat.’
So I did sit and eat.

–George Herbert, “Love” in Herbert: Poems (Everyman Library) (New York: Knopf, 2004), 253.

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“Bloodless, boneless, tasteless, colourless, lukewarm, undogmatic Christianity” by J.C. Ryle

“The times require at our hands distinct and decided views of Christian doctrine. I cannot withhold my conviction that the professing Church of the nineteenth century is as much damaged by laxity and indistinctness about matters of doctrine within, as it is by skeptics and unbelievers without.

Myriads of professing Christians now-a-days seem utterly unable to distinguish things that differ. Like people afflicted with colour-blindness, they are incapable of discerning what is true and what is false, what is sound and what is unsound.

If a preacher of religion is only clever and eloquent and earnest, they appear to think he is all right, however strange and heterogeneous his sermons may be. They are destitute of spiritual sense, apparently, and cannot detect error.

Popery or Protestantism, an atonement or no atonement, a personal Holy Ghost or no Holy Ghost, future punishment or no future punishment, High Church or Low Church or Broad Church, Trinitarianism, Arianism, or Unitarianism, nothing comes amiss to them: they can swallow all, if they cannot digest it!

Carried away by a fancied liberality and charity, they seem to think everybody is right and nobody is wrong, every clergyman is sound and none are unsound, everybody is going to be saved and nobody going to be lost.

Their religion is made up of negatives; and the only positive thing about them is, that they dislike distinctness, and think all extreme and decided and positive views are very naughty and very wrong!

These people live in a kind of mist or fog. They see nothing clearly, and do not know what they believe. They have not made up their minds about any great point in the Gospel, and seem content to be honorary members of all schools of thought.

For their lives they could not tell you what they think is truth about justification, or regeneration, or sanctification, or the Lord’s Supper, or baptism, or faith, or conversion, or inspiration, or the future state. They are eaten up with a morbid dread of CONTROVERSY and an ignorant dislike of PARTY SPIRIT.

And yet they really cannot define what they mean by these phrases. The only point you can make out is that they admire earnestness and cleverness and charity, and cannot believe that any clever, earnest, charitable man can ever be in the wrong!

And so they live on undecided; and too often undecided they drift down to the grave, without comfort in their religion, and, I am afraid, often without hope.
The explanation of this boneless, nerveless, jelly-fish condition of soul is not difficult to find.

To begin with, the heart of man is naturally in the dark about religion,—has no intuitive sense of truth,—and really NEEDS instruction and illumination. Besides this, the natural heart in most men hates exertion in religion, and cordially dislikes patient painstaking inquiry.

Above all, the natural heart generally likes the praise of others, shrinks from collision, and loves to be thought charitable and liberal. The whole result is that a kind of broad religious “agnosticism” just suits an immense number of people, and specially suits young persons.

They are content to shovel aside all disputed points as rubbish, and if you charge them with indecision, they will tell you,—“I do not pretend to understand controversy; I decline to examine controverted points. I daresay it is all the same in the long run.”

Who does not know that such people swarm and abound everywhere? Now I do beseech all who read this paper to beware of this undecided state of mind in religion. It is a pestilence which walketh in darkness, and a destruction that killeth in noon-day.

It is a lazy, idle frame of soul, which, doubtless, saves men the trouble of thought and investigation; but it is a frame of soul for which there is no warrant in the Bible, nor yet in the Articles or Prayer-book of the Church of England.

For your own soul’s sake dare to make up your mind what you believe, and dare to have positive distinct views of truth and error. Never, never be afraid to hold decided doctrinal opinions.

And let no fear of man and no morbid dread of being thought party-spirited, narrow, or controversial, make you rest contented with a bloodless, boneless, tasteless, colourless, lukewarm, undogmatic Christianity.

Mark what I say. If you want to do good in these times, you must throw aside indecision, and take up a distinct, sharply-cut, doctrinal religion. If you believe little, those to whom you try to do good will believe nothing.

The victories of Christianity, wherever they have been won, have been won by distinct doctrinal theology:

  • by telling men roundly of Christ’s vicarious death and sacrifice
  • by showing them Christ’s substitution on the cross, and His precious blood
  • by teaching them justification by faith, and bidding them believe on a crucified Saviour
  • by preaching ruin by sin, redemption by Christ, regeneration by the Spirit
  • by lifting up the brazen serpent
  • by telling men to look and live,—to believe, repent, and be converted.

This,—this is the only teaching which for eighteen centuries God has honoured with success, and is honouring at the present day both at home and abroad.

Let the clever advocates of a broad and undogmatic theology,—the preachers of the Gospel of earnestness, and sincerity and cold morality,—let them, I say, show us at this day any English village or parish, or city, or town, or district, which has been evangelized without ‘dogma,’ by their principles.

They cannot do it, and they never will. Christianity without distinct doctrine is a powerless thing. It may be beautiful to some minds, but it is childless and barren. There is no getting over facts. The good that is done in the earth may be comparatively small.

Evil may abound, and ignorant impatience may murmur, and cry out that Christianity has failed. But, depend on it, if we want to ‘do good’ and shake the world, we must fight with the old apostolic weapons, and stick to ‘dogma.’ No dogma, no fruits! No positive Evangelical doctrine, no evangelization!”

–J.C. Ryle, Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties and Roots (London: William Hunt and Company, 1889), 416–419.

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“We live by grace” by Richard Sibbes

“Grace appears to us in Christ, ‘The grace of God had appeared,’ Titus 2:11. Christ is called grace. He is the grace of God invested and clothed with man’s nature. When Christ appeared, the grace and mercy and love of God appeared.

Then again it is victorious, shining to victory over all that is contrary. For, alas! Beloved, what would become of us if there were not grace above sin, and mercy above misery, and power in Christ Jesus above all the power in Satan and death!

And then they have a testimony of all that belong to God; for they have their eyes opened to behold this glory, and by beholding are transformed from glory to glory.

The several attributes of God shine upon several occasions: They have as it were several theatres whereon to discover their glory:

In creation there was power most of all.

In governing the world, wise providence.

In hell, justice in punishing sinners.

But now to man in a lapsed estate, what attribute shines most, and is most glorious? Oh it is mercy and free grace!

If grace and mercy were hidden, our state being as it is since the fall, what were all other attributes but matter of terror? To think of the wisdom, and power, and justice of God would add aggravations. He is the more wise and powerful to take revenge on us.

Grace is the glorious attribute whereby God doth as it were set Himself to triumph over the greatest ill that can be, over sin. That that is worse than the devil himself cannot prevail over His grace.

There is a greater height and depth and breadth, there are greater dimensions in love and mercy in Christ, than there is in our sins and miseries. And all this is gloriously discovered in the gospel.

Do you wonder then why the grace of God hath found such enemies as it hath done always, especially in popery, where they mingle their works with grace? For the opposite heart of man being in a frame of enmity to God, sets itself most against that that God will be glorified in.

Therefore we should labour to vindicate nothing so much as grace. We have a dangerous encroaching sect risen up, enemies to the grace of God, that palliate and cover their plot cunningly and closely, but they set nature against grace.

Let us vindicate grace upon all occasions; for we live by grace, and we must die by grace, and stand at the day of judgment by grace; not in our own righteousness, but in the righteousness of Christ, being found in Him.”

–Richard Sibbes, “The Excellency of the Gospel Above the Law,” in The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart, vol. 4 (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; W. Robertson, 1863), 240–241.

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“The need and beauty of humility” by J.C. Ryle

“Heaven alone, I suppose, will fully teach us how humble we ought to be. Then only, when we stand within the veil, and look back on all the way of life by which we were led, then only shall we completely understand the need and beauty of humility.”

–J.C. Ryle, Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties and Roots (London: William Hunt and Company, 1889), 398.

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“These blessed servants of God” by J.C. Ryle

“Some believers are rivers of living water long after they die. They do good by their books and writings in every part of the world, long after the hands which held the pen are mouldering in the dust.

Such men were Bunyan, and Baxter, and Owen, and George Herbert, and Robert M’Cheyne. These blessed servants of God do more good probably by their books at this moment, than they did by their tongues when they were alive. ‘Being dead they yet speak.’ (Heb. 11:4.)”

–J.C. Ryle, Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties and Roots (London: William Hunt and Company, 1889), 387.

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“The grand secret of inward peace” by J.C. Ryle

“To be without Christ is to be without peace. Every man has a conscience within him, which must be satisfied before he can be truly happy. So long as this conscience is asleep or half dead, so long, no doubt, he gets along pretty well.

But as soon as a man’s conscience wakes up, and he begins to think of past sins, and present failings, and future judgment, at once he finds out that he needs something to give him inward rest.

But what can do it? Repenting, and praying, and Bible-reading, and church-going, and sacrament-receiving, and self-mortification may be tried, and tried in vain.

They never yet took off the burden from any one’s conscience. And yet peace must be had! There is only one thing that can give peace to the conscience, and that is the blood of Jesus Christ sprinkled on it.

A clear understanding that Christ’s death was an actual payment of our debt to God, and that the merit of that death is made over to man when he believes, is the grand secret of inward peace.

It meets every craving of conscience. It answers every accusation. It calms every fear. It is written, ‘These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace.’

‘He is our peace.’ ‘Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ (John 16:33; Ephes. 2:14; Rom. 5:1.)

We have peace through the blood of His cross: peace like a deep mine,—peace like an ever flowing stream.”

–J.C. Ryle, Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties and Roots (London: William Hunt and Company, 1889), 364–365.

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