Category Archives: The Gospel

“One word of God can do more than ten thousand words of men” by John Flavel

“The Word of God is the only support and relief to a gracious soul in the dark day of affliction (Psalm 119:50, 92; 2 Sam. 23:5). That for this very purpose it was written (Romans 15:4).

No rules of moral prudence, no sensual remedies can perform that for us which the Word can do.

And is not this a sealed truth, attested by a thousand undeniable experiences? Hence have the saints fetched their cordials when fainting under the rod.

One word of God can do more than ten thousand words of men to relieve a distressed soul.”

–John Flavel, The Mystery of Providence, in The Works of the John Flavel (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1820/1997), 4: 424.

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“The long-suffering of God is very wonderful” by Jonathan Edwards

“Love to God disposes men to imitate God and therefore disposes them to such long-suffering as He manifests. Long-suffering is often spoken of as one of the attributes of God.

Ex. 34:6: ‘And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.’ Num. 14:18: ‘The Lord is long-suffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression,’ Rom. 2:4: ‘Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long-suffering?’

The long-suffering of God is very wonderful. He bears innumerable injuries from men, and those which are very great.

If we consider the wickedness there is in the world, and then consider how God continues the world, does not destroy it, but is continually blessing it with innumerable streams of good, and supplying and supporting the world, how rich His daily bounties are to it, how He causes the sun to rise and shed forth his beams on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

And if we consider the goodness of God to some particular populous cities, how vast the quantity of the fruits of God’s goodness is which is daily spent upon them, and consumed by them, and then consider what wickedness there was in these very cities, it will show us how amazingly great is His long-suffering.

And if we consider the same long-suffering has been manifest to very many particular persons, in all ages of the world. He is long-suffering to the sinners that He spares, and to whom He offers His mercy, even while they are rebelling against Him.

And especially if we consider God’s long-suffering towards His elect, many of whom live long in sin, and are great sinners, and God bears with them, yea, bears to the end, and finally is pleased to forgive, and never punishes them, but makes them the vessels of mercy and glory, and shows mercy to them even while enemies, as the apostle Paul takes notice it was with himself.

1 Tim. 1:13–16: ‘Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering for a pattern, to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.’

A child’s love to his father disposes him to imitate his father, and especially does the love of God’s children dispose them to imitate their Heavenly Father.”

–Jonathan Edwards, Charity and Its Fruits in Ethical Writings (ed. Paul Ramsey and John E. Smith; vol. 8; The Works of Jonathan Edwards; New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 1989), 8: 192–194.

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“The Shepherd of the whole flock is Himself a Lamb” by Jonathan Edwards

“Though Christ is now at the right hand of God, exalted as King of Heaven, and Lord of the Universe, yet as He still is in the human nature, He still excels in humility. Though the man Christ Jesus be the highest of all creatures in heaven, yet He as much excels them all in humility, as He doth in glory and dignity.

And though He now appears in such glorious majesty and dominion in heaven, yet He appears as a lamb in His condescending, mild and sweet treatment of His saints there. For He is a lamb still, even in the midst the throne of His exaltation.

And He that is the Shepherd of the whole flock is Himself a Lamb, and goes before them in heaven as such: ‘For the Lamb, which is in the midst of the throne, shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes,’ (Revelation 7:17).

Though in heaven every knee bows to Him, and though the angels fall down before Him, adoring Him, yet He treats His saints with infinite condescension, mildness and endearment. And in His acts towards the saints on earth, He still appears as a lamb, manifesting exceeding love and tenderness, in His intercession for them, as one that has had experience of affliction and temptation.

He has not forgotten what these things are, nor has He forgotten how to pity those that are subject to them. And He still manifests His lamb-like excellencies in His dealings with His saints on earth in admirable forbearance, love, gentleness, and compassions, instructing, supplying, supporting, and comforting them, often coming to them, and manifesting Himself to them by His Spirit, that He may sup with them, and they with Him, admitting them to sweet communion with Him, enabling them with boldness and confidence to come to Him, and solace their hearts in Him.

And in heaven Christ still appears, as it were with the marks of His wounds upon Him; and so appears as a lamb as it had been slain.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “The Excellency of Christ,” Sermons and Discourses, 1734–1738 (ed. M. X. Lesser and Harry S. Stout; vol. 19; The Works of Jonathan Edwards; New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2001), 19: 581.

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“Follow Christ as a little, poor, helpless child, taking hold of His hand” by Jonathan Edwards

“In all your course, walk with God and follow Christ as a little, poor, helpless child, taking hold of Christ’s hand, keeping your eye on the mark of the wounds on His hands and side, whence came the blood that cleanses you from sin and hiding your nakedness under the skirt of the white shining robe of His righteousness.”

–Jonathan Edwards, Letters and Personal Writings (ed. George S. Claghorn and Harry S. Stout; vol. 16; The Works of Jonathan Edwards; New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 1998), 16: 90–91. Edwards wrote this advice to Deborah Hatheway, an eighteen-year-old new convert to Christ who was without a pastor, in a letter of counsel on June 3, 1741.

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“One who is ready to be your friend for time and for eternity” by J.C. Ryle

“A friend is one of the greatest blessings on earth. Tell me not of money: affection is better than gold; sympathy is better than lands. He is the poor man who has no friends.

This world is full of sorrow because it is full of sin. It is a dark place. It is a lonely place. It is a disappointing place. The brightest sunbeam in it is a friend. Friendship halves our troubles and doubles our joys.

A real friend is scarce and rare. There are many who will eat, and drink, and laugh with us in the sunshine of prosperity.

There are few who will stand by us in the days of darkness,—few who will love us when we are sick, helpless, and poor,—few, above all, who will care for our souls.

Does any reader of this paper want a real friend? I write to recommend one to your notice this day. I know of One ‘who sticketh closer than a brother.’ (Prov. 18:24.)

I know of One who is ready to be your friend for time and for eternity, if you will receive Him. Hear me, while I try to tell you something about Him.

The friend I want you to know is Jesus Christ. Happy is that family in which Christ has the foremost place! Happy is that person whose chief friend is Christ!”

–J.C. Ryle, Practical Religion: Being Plain Papers on the Daily Duties, Experience, Dangers, and Privileges of Professing Christians (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1878/2013), 317.

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“How you loved us, good Father” by Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)

“Inasmuch as He was a man, He was a mediator, but inasmuch as He is the Word, He is not in the middle, because He is equal to God, and is God in the presence of God, and one God together with Him.

How you loved us, good Father, who did not spare your only Son, but handed Him over for the sake of us, the wicked!

How you loved us, for whose sake Your Son, through not considering it an act of robbery to be Your equal, was subjugated and reduced clear to death on the cross!

But He was the only one among the dead with free will, having both the power to lay down His life and the power to take it up again.

For our sake, He was both Your victor and Your sacrificial victim, and the victor because He was the victim.

For our sake He was both Your sacrificing priest and Your sacrifice, and He was the priest because He was the sacrifice. He was born from You yet acted as our slave, thereby turning us from Your slaves into Your sons.”

–Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, trans. Sarah Ruden (New York: Modern Library, 2017), 341-342.

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“Make me also an instrument of His glory” by Jonathan Edwards

“Sir,

My request to you is that, in your intended journey through New England the next summer, you would be pleased to visit Northampton. I hope it is not wholly from curiosity that I desire to see and hear you in this place; but I apprehend, from what I have heard, that you are one that has the blessing of heaven attending you wherever you go; and I have a great desire, if it may be the will of God, that such a blessing as attends your person and labors may descend on this town, and may enter mine own house, and that I may receive it in my own soul.

Indeed I am fearful whether you will not be disappointed in New England, and will have less success here than in other places: we who have dwelt in a land that has been distinguished with light, and have long enjoyed the gospel, and have been glutted with it, and have despised it, are I fear more hardened than most of those places where you have preached hitherto.

But yet I hope in that power and mercy of God that has appeared so triumphant in the success of your labors in other places, that He will send a blessing with you even to us, though we are unworthy of it. I hope, if God preserves my life, to see something of that salvation of God in New England which He has now begun, in a benighted, wicked, and miserable world and age and in the most guilty of all nations.

It has been with refreshment of soul that I have heard of one raised up in the Church of England to revive the mysterious, spiritual, despised, and exploded doctrines of the gospel, and full of a spirit of zeal for the promotion of real vital piety, whose labors have been attended with such success. Blessed be God that hath done it! He is with you, and helps you, and makes the weapons of your warfare mighty.

We see that God is faithful, and never will forget the promises that He has made to His church; and that He will not suffer the smoking flax to be quenched, even when the floods seem to be overwhelming it; but will revive the flame again, even in the darkest times.

I hope this is the dawning of a day of God’s mighty power and glorious grace to the world of mankind. May you go on, reverend Sir! And may God be with you more and more abundantly, that the work of God may be carried on by a blessing on your labors still, with that swift progress that it has been hitherto, and rise to a greater height, and extend further and further, with an irresistible power bearing down all opposition!

And may the gates of hell never be able to prevail against you! And may God send forth more laborers into His harvest of a like spirit, until the kingdom of Satan shall shake, and his proud empire fall throughout the earth and the kingdom of Christ, that glorious kingdom of light, holiness, peace and love, shall be established from one end of the earth unto the other!

I fear it is too much for me to desire a particular remembrance in your prayers, when I consider how many thousands do doubtless desire it, who can’t all be particularly mentioned; and I am far from thinking myself worthy to be distinguished.

But pray, Sir, let your heart be lifted up to God for me among others, that God would bestow much of that blessed Spirit on me that He has bestowed on you, and make me also an instrument of His glory.

I am, reverend Sir, unworthy to be called your fellow laborer,

Jonathan Edwards”

–Jonathan Edwards, Letters and Personal Writings (ed. George S. Claghorn and Harry S. Stout; vol. 16; The Works of Jonathan Edwards; New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 1998), 16: 80–81. Edwards wrote this letter to George Whitefield on February 12, 1739/40.

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