Category Archives: Providence

“Here at last is the thing I was made for” by C.S. Lewis

“There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven; but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else.

You may have noticed that the books you really love are bound together by a secret thread. You know very well what is the common quality that makes you love them, though you cannot put it into words: but most of your friends do not see it at all, and often wonder why, liking this, you should also like that.

Again, you have stood before some landscape, which seems to embody what you have been looking for all of your life; and then turned to the friend at your side who appears to be seeing what you saw– but at the first words a gulf yawns between you, and you realise that this landscape means something totally different to him, that he is pursuing an alien vision and cares nothing for the ineffable suggestion by which you are transported.

Even in your hobbies, has there not always been some secret attraction which the others are curiously ignorant of– something, not to be identified with, but always on the verge of breaking through, the smell of cut wood in the workshop or the clap-clap of water against the boat’s side?

Are not all lifelong friendships born at the moment when at last you meet another human being who has some inkling of that which you were born desiring, and which, beneath the flux of other desires and in all momentary silences between the louder passions, night and day, year by year, from childhood to old age, you are looking for, watching for, listening for?

You have never had it. All the things that have ever deeply possessed your soul have been but hints of it – tantalizing glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echoes that died away just as they caught your ear.

But if it should ever really become manifest – if there ever came an echo that did not die away but swelled into the sound itself- you would know it. Beyond all possibility of doubt you would say, ‘Here at last is the thing I was made for.’

We cannot tell each other about it. It is the secret signature of each soul, the incommunicable and unappeasable want, the thing we desired before we met our wives or made our friends or chose our work, and which we shall still desire on our deathbeds, when the mind no longer knows wife or friend or work.

While we are, this is. If we lose this, we lose all.”

–C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (New York: HarperCollins, 1940/1996), 149-151.

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“Take a lodging as near as you can to Gethsemane and walk daily to mount Golgotha” by John Newton

“Did I not tell you formerly, that if you would take care of His business He will take care of yours? I am of the same mind still. He will not suffer them who fear Him and depend upon Him to want anything that is truly good for them.

In the meanwhile, I advise you to take a lodging as near as you can to Gethsemane, and to walk daily to mount Golgotha, and borrow (which may be had for asking) that telescope which gives a prospect into the unseen world.

A view of what is passing within the vail has a marvelous effect to compose our spirits, with regard to the little things that are daily passing here.

Praise the Lord, who has enabled you to fix your supreme affection upon Him who is alone the proper and suitable object of it, and from whom you cannot meet a denial or fear a change. He loved you first, and He will love you forever.

And if He be pleased to arise and smile upon you, you are in no more necessity of begging for happiness to the prettiest creature upon earth, than of the light of a candle on mid-summer noon.

Upon the whole, I pray and hope the Lord will sweeten your cross, and either in kind or in kindness make you good amends.

Wait, pray, and believe, and all shall be well. A cross we must have somewhere; and they who are favoured with health, plenty, peace, and a conscience sprinkled with the blood of Jesus, must have more causes for thankfulness than grief.

Look round you, and take notice of the very severe afflictions which many of the Lord’s own people are groaning under, and your trials will appear comparatively light.

Our love to all friends,

John Newton”

–John Newton, The Works of John Newton, Vol. 2, Ed. Richard Cecil (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 127–129.

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“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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