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“The doctrine of substitution is the key to all the sufferings of Christ” by Charles Spurgeon

“The doctrine of substitution is the key to all the sufferings of Christ. I do not know how many theories have been invented to explain away the death of Christ.

The modern doctrine of the apostles of ‘culture’ is that Jesus Christ did something or other, which, in some way or other, was, in some degree or other, connected with our salvation. But it is my firm belief that every theory, concerning the death of Christ, which can only be understood by the highly-cultured, must be false.

‘That is strong language,’ says someone. Perhaps it is, but it is true. I am quite sure that the religion of Jesus Christ was never intended for the highly-cultured only, or even for them in particular.

Christ’s testimony concerning His own ministry was, ‘The poor have the gospel preached to them.’ So, if you bring me a gospel which can only be understood by gentlemen who have passed through Oxford or Cambridge University, I know that it cannot be the gospel of Christ.

He meant the good news of salvation to be proclaimed to the poorest of the poor. In fact, the gospel is intended for humanity in general.

So, if you cannot make me understand it, or if, when I do understand it, it does not tell me how to deliver its message in such plain language that the poorest man can comprehend it, I tell you, sirs, that your newfangled gospel is a lie, and I will stick to the old one, which a man, only a little above an idiot in intellect, can understand.

I cling to the old gospel for this, among many other reasons, that all the modern gospels, that leave out the great central truth of substitution, prevent the message from being of any use to the great mass of mankind.

If those other gospels, which are not really gospels, please your taste and fancy, and suit the readers of Quarterly Reviews, and eloquent orators and lecturers, there are the poor people in our streets, and the millions of working-men, the vast multitudes who cannot comprehend anything that is highly metaphysical.

And you cannot convince me that our Lord Jesus Christ sent, as His message to the whole world, a metaphysical mystery that would need volume upon volume before it could even be stated.

I am persuaded that He gave us a rough and ready gospel like this: ‘The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost,’ or this, ‘With His stripes we are healed,’ or this, ‘The chastisement of our peace was upon Him,’ or this, ‘He died the Just for the unjust to bring us to God.’

Do not try to go beyond this gospel, brethren. You will get into the mud if you do. But it is safe standing here.

And standing here, I can comprehend how our Lord Jesus took the sinner’s place, and passing under the sentence which the sinner deserved, or under a sentence which was tantamount thereto, could cry, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?‘”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, ‘The Saddest Cry From the Cross,’ in Majesty in Misery, Volume 3: Calvary’s Mournful Mountain (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2005), 177-178. (MTPS, 48: 523-524)

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“It is free mercy that every day keeps Hell and my soul asunder” by Thomas Brooks

“‘Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy,’ (Matthew 5:7). Mercy is a commiserating of another man’s misery in our hearts, or a sorrow for another man’s distress, or a heart-grieving for another man’s grief, arising out of an unfeigned love unto the party afflicted.

Or more plainly thus: mercy is a pitying of another man’s misery, with a desire and endeavor to help him to the uttermost of our ability. The Hebrew for godly, חסד, chasid, signifies gracious, merciful.

The more godly any man is, the more merciful that man will be. ‘Blessed are the merciful,’ that is, blessed are they that show mercy to others, out of a deep sense of the mercy of God to them in Christ.

Blessed are such who show mercy out of love to mercy, out of a delight in mercy.

Blessed are such as show mercy out of love and obedience to the God of mercy.

Blessed are such as show mercy to men in misery, upon the account of the image of God, the glory of God that is stamped upon them.

Blessed are such as extend their piety and mercy, not only to men’s bodies, but also to their precious and immortal souls.

Soul-mercy is the chief of mercies. The soul is the most precious jewel in all the world; it is a vessel of honour, it is a spark of glory, it is a bud of eternity, it is the price of blood, it is beautified with the image of God, it is adorned with the grace of God, and it is clothed with the righteousness of God.

Such are blessed as show mercy to others, from gracious motives and considerations.

It is free mercy that every day keeps Hell and my soul asunder.

It is mercy that daily pardons my sins.

It is mercy that supplies all my inward and outward wants.

It is mercy that preserves, and feeds, and clothes my outward man.

It is mercy that renews, strengthens, and prospers my inward man.

It is mercy that has kept me many times from committing such and such sins.

It is mercy that has kept me many a time from falling before such and such temptations.

It is mercy that has many a time preserved me from being swallowed up by such and such inward and outward afflictions.

Such as show mercy out of a design to exalt and glorify the God of mercy, such who show most mercy to them to whom God shows most mercy: these are blessed, and shall obtain mercy.”

–Thomas Brooks, “A Cabinet of Jewels,” The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, Volume 3, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; G. Herbert, 1866), 271-272.

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“Pray for the worst, the hardest, and the most unbelieving” by J.C. Ryle

“Do we know what it is to pray for ourselves? This, after all, is the first question for self-inquiry. The man who never speaks to God about his own soul, can know nothing of praying for others.

He is as yet Godless, Christless, and hopeless, and has to learn the very rudiments of religion. Let him awake, and call upon God.

But do we pray for ourselves? Then let us take heed that we pray for others also.

Let us beware of selfish prayers,—prayers which are wholly taken up with our own affairs, and in which there is no place for other souls beside our own.

Let us name all whom we love before God continually.

Let us pray for all,—the worst, the hardest, and the most unbelieving.

Let us continue praying for them year after year, in spite of their continued unbelief.

God’s time of mercy may be a distant one. Our eyes may not see an answer to our intercessions. The answer may not come for ten, fifteen, or twenty years.

It may not come till we have exchanged prayer for praise, and are far away from this world. But while we live, let us pray for others.

It is the greatest kindness we can do to anyone, to speak for him to our Lord Jesus Christ. The day of judgment will show that one of the greatest links in drawing some souls to God, has been the intercessory prayer of friends.”

–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), 116-117.

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“The righteousness of Christ” by Thomas Brooks

“Though men may accuse you, judge and condemn you, yet know for your support, that you are acquitted before the throne of God. However you may stand in the eyes of men, as full of nothing but faults, persons made up of nothing but sin, yet are you clear in the eyes of God.

God looks upon weak saints in the Son of His love, and sees them all lovely. They are as the tree of Paradise, ‘fair to his eye, and pleasant to his taste,’ (Gen. 3:6).

Ah, poor souls! You are apt to look upon your spots and blots, and to cry out with the leper not only ‘Unclean, unclean!’ but ‘Undone, undone!’

Well, forever remember this, that your persons stand before God in the righteousness of Christ, upon which account you always appear, before the throne of God, without fault. You are all fair, and there is no spot in you.”

–Thomas Brooks, “The Unsearchable Riches of Christ,” The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, Volume 3, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1866/2001), 70.

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“There will be a great change soon” by J.C. Ryle

“A desire of salvation shall come to many too late. They shall long after pardon, and peace, and the favour of God, when they can no more be had. They will wish they might have one more Sunday over again, have one more offer of forgiveness, have one more call to prayer.

But it will matter nothing what they think, or feel, or desire then: the day of grace will be over; the gate of salvation will be bolted and barred. It will be too late!

I often think what a change there will be one day in the price and estimation at which things are valued. I look round this world in which my lot is cast; I mark the current price of everything this world contains; I look forward to the coming of Christ, and the great day of God.

I think of the new order of things, which that day will bring in; I read the words of the Lord Jesus, when He describes the master of the house rising up and shutting the door; and as I read, I say to myself, ‘There will be a great change soon.’

What are the dear things now? Gold, silver, precious stones, bank notes, mines, ships, lands, houses, horses, carriages, furniture, meat, drink, clothes, and the like. These are the things that are thought valuable; these are the things that command a ready market; these are the things which you can never get below a certain price, He that has much of these things is counted a wealthy man. Such is the world!

And what are the cheap things now? The knowledge of God, the free salvation of the Gospel, the favour of Christ, the grace of the Holy Ghost, the privilege of being God’s son, the title to eternal life, the right to the tree of life, the reversion of a mansion in heaven, the promises of an incorruptible inheritance, the offer of a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

These are the things that no man hardly cares for. They are offered to the sons of men without money and without price: they may be had for nothing,—freely and gratuitously. Whosoever will may take his portion. But, alas, there is no demand for these things! They go a begging. They are scarcely looked at. They are offered in vain. Such is the world!

But a day is coming upon us all when the value of everything shall be altered.

A day is coming when banknotes shall be as useless as rags, and gold shall be as worthless as the dust of the earth.

A day is coming when thousands shall care nothing for the things for which they once lived, and shall desire nothing so much as the things which they once despised. The halls and palaces will be forgotten in the desire of a ‘house not made with hands.’

The favour of the rich and great will be no more remembered, in the longing for the favour of the King of kings. The silks, and satins, and velvets, and laces, will be lost sight of in the anxious want of the robe of Christ’s righteousness.

All shall be altered, all shall be changed in the great day of the Lord’s return. ‘Many will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.'”

–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), 35-37.

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“Meditating day and night” by William Plumer

“Another positive sign of a renewed man is that he meditates in the law of the LORD day and night. ‘As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.’

Vain thoughts lodge in all ungodly men. But the righteous hate sinful imaginings. What the wicked would be ashamed to act or speak out, the righteous is ashamed to think or desire.

Yet the mind of the righteous is full of activity. He meditates. The power of reflection chiefly distinguishes a man from a brute.

The habit of reflection chiefly distinguishes a wise man from a fool. Pious reflection on God’s word greatly distinguishes a saint from a sinner.

Without meditation grace never thrives, prayer is languid, praise dull, and religious duties unprofitable.

Yet to flesh and blood without divine grace this is an impossible duty.

It is easier to take a journey of a thousand miles than to spend an hour in close, devout, profitable thought on divine things.

Like prayer (Luke 18:7), meditation is to be pursued day and night, not reluctantly, but joyously, not merely in God’s house, or on the Lord’s day, but whenever other duties do not forbid.

Nor does the true child of God slight part of divine truth. He loves it all.

A saint is therefore described by his ‘meditating in the law of God day and night,’ which is the natural and necessary effect of his delight in it.”

–William Plumer, Psalms: A Critical and Expository Commentary with Doctrinal and Practical Remarks (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, originally published in 1867; reprinted 2016), 28.

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“We give thanks to You” by Matthew Henry

“We give thanks to You, the God of gods, the Lord of lords, for Your covenant love endures forever. Your goodness is Your glory, and Your glory is Your goodness. In Your kindness You are gracious to undeserving sinners according to the abundance of Your grace. You manifest Your mercy to the rebellious who have lived in debauchery. You show Your mercy to whom You choose to show mercy, even to degenerate idol-worshippers like ourselves. All Your works praise You and Your saints bless Your holy name. Psa. 136:2, 3; Exod. 33:19; Psa. 145:10.

You are gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and abounding in covenant love. You have told us that You do not delight in afflicting the children of men. Though You cause them grief, You have compassion according to the greatness of Your unfailing love. You take great pleasure in those that fear You, the ones who hope in the love You manifest through Your covenant. Psa. 145:8; Lam. 3:32, 33; Psa. 147:11.

Thank You for demonstrating Your mercy by causing Your sun to shine on the evil and the good. You graciously send rain on the just and the unjust. We thank You for the arrival of every new day. We see with our own eyes that You have stretched out the heavens like a vast curtain where You have pitched a tent for the sun, which shines forth as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber and rejoices as a strong man to run a race. Matt. 5:45; Psa. 104:2; 19:4, 5.

When we consider the heavens, the work of Your fingers, the sun, the moon and the stars which You have ordained, we stand in awe that You have shown such care for us. For what is man that you should give any consideration of him? You bless us with the light of the sun that is a pleasant thing for our eyes. May all glory go to the Father of light, who commands the morning and causes the dawn to know its place. You have never left Yourself without witness among the nations. For you have provided all the peoples of the world with abundance, giving them rain from heaven and fruitful seasons on earth, providing them with food to eat and filling their hearts with joy and gladness. Psa. 8:3, 4; Eccles. 11:7; James 1:17; Job 38:12; Acts 14:17.

We honour You for the way You cover the heavens with clouds, and prepare rain for the earth. You make grass grow on the mountains. You give food to the wild beasts and the young ravens which cry out to You. You cause it to rain in the wilderness where there is no man. You satisfy even the desolate wastelands. Psa. 147:8, 9; Job 38:26, 27.

We bless You when we see how You show Your care for the earth by watering it. You enrich the soil with the river of God which is full of water as it flows down from heaven. You provide grain, and water the earth’s ridges abundantly. You settle its furrows and soften it with showers. You bless its sprouts and crown the year with Your bounty. Our carts are heavy with abundance. You make springs pour forth water in the valleys, creating rivulets that run among the hills, and give drink to every beast of the field, and the birds of the air nest by the waters, singing among the branches. Psa. 65:9-11; Psa. 104:10-12.

We stand in awe as we consider that You laid the foundation of the earth so that it will never be moved. You set boundaries for the seas so they will never again flood the earth. You shut up the sea with bars and doors, saying, ‘Up to this point you shall come, but no farther. Here your proud waves shall stop.’ You have held to Your oath when You swore that the waters of Noah would never again overwhelm the earth. You remain faithful to Your covenant commitment that so long as the earth continues, seed-time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall not cease. Your covenant of the day and of the night has never been broken. You give the sun for a light by day, and the moon and the stars for lights by night. Psa. 104:5, 9; Job 38:8, 10, 11; Isa. 54:9; Gen. 8:22; Jer. 33:20; 31:35.

We marvel at Your abundant provision for every living thing. Every creature waits on You to give them their food at the right season. Whatever You give them they gather. You open your hand in blessing, and they are filled with good things. You hide Your face and they are terrified. When You take away their breath, they die and return to dust. Then You renew the face of the earth. You send out Your Spirit and they are created. This, your glory, shall endure forever, and You will rejoice in Your own works. Psa. 104:27-31.

You cause grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate. You enable man to bring forth food from the earth – wine that gladdens his heart, oil that makes his face shine, and bread to strengthen his heart. You give life and breath to every living thing. The whole earth is full of Your gracious love. Psa. 115:16; Eccles. 1:4; Deut. 29:20; Psa. 8:6; Gen. 9:2; Prov. 8:31.

Amen.”

–Matthew Henry, A Way to Pray: A Biblical Method for Enriching Your Prayer Life and Language by Shaping Your Words with Scripture, Ed. O. Palmer Robertson (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1710/2015), 133-137.

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