Category Archives: Providence

“There is one political maxim which comforts me: ‘The Lord reigns'” by John Newton

“O what a Shepherd! Let us love, and sing, and wonder.

I hope the good people at Bristol, and everywhere else, are praying for our sinful, distracted land, in this dark day. The Lord is angry, the sword is drawn, and I am afraid nothing but the spirit of wrestling prayer can prevail for the returning it into the scabbard.

Could things have proceeded to these extremities, except the Lord had withdrawn His salutary blessing from both sides? It is a time of prayer.

We see the beginning of trouble, but who can foresee the possible consequences? The fire is kindled; but how far it may spread, those who are above may perhaps know better than we.

I meddle not with the disputes of party, nor concern myself with any political maxims, but such as are laid down in Scripture. There I read that righteousness exalteth a nation, and that sin is the reproach, and, if persisted in, the ruin of any people.

Some people are startled at the enormous sum of our national debt: they who understand spiritual arithmetic may be well startled if they sit down and compute the debt of national sin.

Imprimis, Infidelity: Item, Contempt of the Gospel: Item, The profligacy of manners: Item, Perjury: Item, The cry of blood, the blood of thousands, perhaps millions, from the East Indies.

It would take sheets, yea quires (i.e. 25 sheets of paper), to draw out the particulars under each of these heads, and then much would remain untold. What can we answer, when the Lord saith, ‘Shall not I visit for these things? Shall not My soul be avenged on such a nation as this?’

Since we received the news of the first hostilities in America, we have had an additional prayer-meeting. Could I hear that professors in general, instead of wasting their breath in censuring men and measures, were plying the Throne of Grace, I should still hope for a respite.

Poor New England! Once the glory of the earth, now likely to be visited with fire and sword. They have left their first love, and the Lord is sorely contending with them.

Yet surely their sins as a people are not to be compared with ours. I am just so much affected with these things as to know, that I am not affected enough.

Oh! My spirit is sadly cold and insensible, or I should lay them to heart in a different manner: yet I endeavour to give the alarm as far as I can.

There is one political maxim which comforts me: ‘The Lord reigns.’ His hand guides the storm; and He knows them that are His, how to protect, support, and deliver them.

He will take care of His own cause; yea, He will extend His kingdom, even by these formidable methods.

Men have one thing in view; He has another, and His counsel shall stand.”

–John Newton, The Works of John Newton, Ed. Richard Cecil (vol. 2; London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 2: 85-87. This quote is from a letter concerning America written by Newton in August 1775.

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“There is not a drop of wrath in a riverful of a believer’s grief” by Charles Spurgeon

“I do not know of any reflection more consoling than this: that my sorrow is not laid on me by a judge, nor inflicted on me as the result of divine anger. There is not a drop of wrath in a riverful of a believer’s grief.

Does not that take the bitterness out of affliction and make it sweet? And then the reflection goes further. Since Christ has died for me, I am God’s dear child; and now if I suffer, all my suffering comes from my Father’s hand—nay, more, from my Father’s heart.

He loves me, and therefore makes me suffer; not because He does not love, but because He does love He does thus afflict me. In every stripe I see another token of paternal love. This it is to sweeten Marah’s waters indeed.

Then will come the next reflection—that a Father’s love is joined with infinite wisdom, and that, therefore, every ingredient in the bitter cup is measured out drop by drop, and grain by grain, and there is not one pang too many ever suffered by an heir of heaven.

The cross is not only weighed to the pound but to the ounce, ay, to the lowest conceivable grain. You shall not have one half a drop of grief more than is absolutely needful for your good and God’s glory.

And does not this also sweeten the cross, that it is laid on us by infinite wisdom, and by a Father’s hand.

Ravishing, indeed, is the reflection in the midst of all our grief and suffering, that Jesus Christ suffers with us. In all thine affliction, O member of the body, the Head is still a sharer.

Deep are the sympathies of the Redeemer, acute, certain, quick, infallible; He never forgets His saints.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Marah; Or, the Bitter Waters Sweetened,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Volume 17 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1871), 17: 236–237.

[HT: Bobby Jamieson]

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“The work of redemption is the face of His wisdom” by Stephen Charnock

“The wisdom of God doth wonderfully appear in redemption. His wisdom in creature ravisheth the eye and understanding. His wisdom in government doth no less affect a curious observer of the links and concatenation of the means.

But His wisdom in redemption mounts the mind to a greater astonishment. The works of creation are the footsteps of His wisdom; the work of redemption is the face of His wisdom.

In Christ, in the dispensation by Him, as well as His person, were ‘hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’ (Col. 2:3). Some doles of wisdom were given out in creation, but the treasures of it opened in redemption, the highest degrees of it that ever God did exert in the world.

Christ is therefore called the ‘wisdom of God,’ as well as the ‘power of God’ (1 Cor. 1:24); and the gospel is called the ‘wisdom of God.’

Christ is the wisdom of God principally, and the gospel instrumentally, as it is the power of God instrumentally to subdue the heart to Himself. This is wrapped up in the appointing Christ as Redeemer, and opened to us in the revelation of it by the gospel.”

–Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God, vol. 1, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1682/2000), 552-553.

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“It runs through the whole web of the world” by Stephen Charnock

“Can anything more delightful enter into us, than that of the kind and gracious disposition of that God who first brought us out of the abyss of an unhappy nothing, and hath hitherto spread His wings over us?

Where can we meet with a nobler object than Divine goodness?

What nobler work can be practiced by us than to consider it?

What is more sensible in all the operations of His hands than His skill, as they are considered in themselves, and His goodness, as they are considered in relation to us?

It is strange that we should miss the thoughts of it.

It is strange that we should look upon this earth, and everything in it, and yet overlook that which it is most full of, namely, Divine goodness (Psalm 33:5).

It runs through the whole web of the world. All is framed and diversified by goodness. It is one entire single goodness, which appears in various garbs and dresses in every part of the creation.

Can we turn our eyes inward, and send our eyes outward, and see nothing of a Divinity in both that is worthy of our deepest and most serious thoughts?

Is there anything in the world we can behold, but we see His bounty, since nothing was made but is one way or other beneficial to us?”

–Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God, vol. 2, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1682/2000), 347.

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“A rich and gracious Savior” by John Newton

“I may express all my complaints in one short sentence: I am a poor creature.

And all my hopes and comforts may be summed up as briefly by saying: I have a rich and gracious Saviour.

Full as I am in myself of inconsistencies and conflicts, I have in Him a measure of peace.

He found me in a waste howling wilderness. He redeemed me from the house of misery and bondage.

And though I have been ungrateful and perverse, He has not yet forsaken me. I trust He never will.

‘Unsustained by Thee I fall.’ But He is able to hold even me up: to pity, to support, and to supply me to the end of life.

How suitable a Saviour! He is made all things to those who have nothing, and He is engaged to help those who can do nothing.”

–John Newton, The Aged Pilgrim’s Thoughts Over Sin and the Grave, Illustrated in a Series of Letters to Walter Taylor, Never Before Published, by the Rev. John Newton (London: Baker and Fletcher, 2nd Ed., 1825), 6.

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“We know who the real King is” by Rankin Wilbourne

“It may not look like Christ is ruling the universe. Today it might look like just a crack of light under a door.

But the New Testament writers were confident because they knew the light had dawned (Rom. 13: 12) and that one day the door will open, and that light, the Sun of Glory, will flood the whole room.

The gravity of Christ being King is often lost on those of us who have no earthly king. But in the Roman Empire, the tiny church not only survived, but flourished, even amid terrible persecution.

They were willing to die because they knew who the real king was. And they believed He was worth dying for.

King David’s men once said to David, ‘You are worth ten thousand of us’ (2 Sam. 18: 3), and we can now say that to our King and make our lives wholly expendable to Him and His cause.

When you know that Christ is the seated and enthroned King, you too will be willing to surrender all your plans and ambitions into His hands.

Perhaps, with the persecuted church, you can even rejoice when you are counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name (Acts 5:41) because we know who the real King is, and He is worthy.”

–Rankin Wilbourne, Union with Christ: The Way to Know and Enjoy God (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2016), 165.

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“He gives rain on the earth” by John Piper

“‘God does great and unsearchable things, wonders without number. He gives rain on the earth.’ (Job 5:8-10) In Job’s mind rain really is one of the great, unsearchable wonders that God does. So when I read this a few weeks ago, I resolved not to treat it as meaningless pop musical lyrics. I decided to have a conversation with myself (which is what I mean by meditation).

Is rain a great and unsearchable wonder wrought by God? Picture yourself as a farmer in the Near East, far from any lake or stream. A few wells keep the family and animals supplied with water. But if the crops are to grow and the family is to be fed from month to month, water has to come from another source on the fields. From where?

Well, the sky. The sky? Water will come out of the clear blue sky? Well, not exactly. Water will have to be carried in the sky from the Mediterranean Sea over several hundred miles, and then be poured out on the fields from the sky. Carried? How much does it weigh? Well, if one inch of rain falls on one square mile of farmland during the night, that would be 2,323,200 cubic feet of water, which is 17,377,536 gallons, which is 144,735,360 pounds of water.

That’s heavy. So how does it get up in the sky and stay up there if it’s so heavy? Well, it gets up there by evaporation. Really? That’s a nice word. What’s it mean? It means that the water stops being water for a while so it can go up and not down. I see. Then how does it get down? Well, condensation happens. What’s that? The water starts becoming water again by gathering around little dust particles between .00001 and .0001 centimeters wide. That’s small.

What about the salt? Salt? Yes, the Mediterranean Sea is saltwater. That would kill the crops. What about the salt? Well, the salt has to be taken out. Oh. So the sky picks up millions of pounds of water from the sea, takes out the salt, carries the water (or whatever it is, when it is not water) for three hundred miles, and then dumps it (now turned into water again) on the farm?

Well, it doesn’t dump it. If it dumped millions of pounds of water on the farm, the wheat would be crushed. So the sky dribbles the millions of pounds of water down in little drops. And they have to be big enough to fall for one mile or so without evaporating, and small enough to keep from crushing the wheat stalks.

How do all these microscopic specks of water that weigh millions of pounds get heavy enough to fall (if that’s the way to ask the question)? Well, it’s called coalescence. What’s that? It means the specks of water start bumping into each other and join up and get bigger, and when they are big enough, they fall.

Just like that? Well, not exactly, because they would just bounce off each other instead of joining up if there were no electric field present. What? Never mind. Take my word for it.

I think, instead, I will just take Job’s word for it.”

–John Piper, Taste and See: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 2005), 24–26.

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