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“Our need of revival is indeed very great today” by Iain Murray

“Our need of revival is indeed very great today. It may be that a generation of freshly-anointed preachers is already being prepared. Whether that is so or not, when such men are sent forth by Christ we can be sure of certain things.

They will not be identical in all points with the men of the past, but there will be a fundamental resemblance.

They will be hard students of Scripture.

They will prize a great spiritual heritage.

They will see the danger of ‘unsanctified learning’.

While they will not be afraid of controversy, nor of being called hyper-orthodox, they will fear to spend their days in controversy. They will believe with John Rice that ‘the church is not purified by controversy, but by holy love’.

They will not forget that the wise, who will shine ‘as: the stars forever and ever’, are those who ‘turn many to righteousness’ (Dan. 12.3).

They will covet the wisdom which Scripture attributes to the one ‘that winneth souls’ (Prov. 11.30).

But their cheerfulness will have a higher source than their work. To know God Himself will be their supreme concern and Joy.

They will therefore not be strangers to humility.

And their experience will not be without trials and discouragements, not least because they fall so far short of their aspirations.

If they are spared to live as long as John Leland they will be ready to say with him at last: ‘I have been unwearedly trying to preach Jesus, but have not yet risen to that state of holy zeal and evangelical knowledge, that I have been longing after’.

Whether their days be bright or dark they will learn to say with Nettleton that ‘the milk and honey lie beyond this wilderness world’.”

—Iain H. Murray, Revival and Revivalism: The Making and Marring of American Evangelicalism, 1750-1858 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1994), 386-387.

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“The priceless merit of His sufferings” by J.C. Ryle

“We must not be content with a vague general belief, that Christ’s sufferings on the cross were vicarious. We are intended to see this truth in every part of His passion.

We may follow Him all through, from the bar of Pilate, to the minute of His death, and see Him at every step as our mighty Substitute, our Representative, our Head, our Surety, our Proxy, the Divine Friend who undertook to stand in our stead, and by the priceless merit of His sufferings, to purchase our redemption.

Was He scourged? It was that ‘through His stripes we might be healed.’

Was He condemned, though innocent? It was that we might be acquitted though guilty.

Did He wear a crown of thorns? It was that we might wear the crown of glory.

Was He stripped of His raiment? It was that we might be clothed in everlasting righteousness.

Was He mocked and reviled? It was that we might be honored and blessed.

Was He reckoned a malefactor, and numbered among transgressors? It was that we might be reckoned innocent, and justified from all sin.

Was He declared unable to save Himself? It was that He might be able to save others to the uttermost.

Did He die at last, and that the most painful and disgraceful of deaths? It was that we might live forevermore, and be exalted to the highest glory.

Let us ponder these things well. They are worth remembering.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Matthew (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1856/2012), 314. Ryle is commenting on Matthew 27:45-56.

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“Without Christ crucified” by J.C. Ryle

“The cross is the foundation of a church’s prosperity. No church will ever be honored in which Christ crucified is not continually lifted up.

Nothing whatever can make up for the want of the cross. Without it all things may be done decently and in order.

Without it there may be splendid ceremonies, beautiful music, gorgeous churches, learned ministers, crowded communion tables, huge collections for the poor. But without the cross no good will be done.

Dark hearts will not be enlightened.
Proud hearts will not be humbled.
Mourning hearts will not be comforted.
Fainting hearts will not be cheered.

Sermons about the Catholic Church and an apostolic ministry,—sermons about baptism and the Lord’s supper,—sermons about unity and schism,—sermons about fasts and communion,—sermons about fathers and saints,—such sermons will never make up for the absence of sermons about the cross of Christ.

They may amuse some. They will feed none. A gorgeous banqueting room and splendid gold plate on the table will never make up to a hungry man for the want of food.

Christ crucified is God’s grand ordinance for doing good to men. Whenever a church keeps back Christ crucified, or puts anything whatever in that foremost place which Christ crucified should always have, from that moment a church ceases to be useful.

Without Christ crucified in her pulpits, a church is little better than a cumberer of the ground, a dead carcass, a well without water, a barren fig tree, a sleeping watchman, a silent trumpet, a dumb witness, an ambassador without terms of peace, a messenger without tidings, a lighthouse without fire, a stumbling-block to weak believers, a comfort to infidels, a hot-bed for formalism, a joy to the devil, and an offence to God.”

–J.C. Ryle, Startling Questions (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1853), 295–297.

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“Let us delight in the knowledge of Christ crucified” by Stephen Charnock

“Let us delight in the knowledge of Christ crucified, and be often in the thoughts and study of Him. Study Christ, not only as living, but dying; not as breathing in our air, but suffering in our stead; know Him as a victim, which is the way to know Him as a conqueror.

Christ as crucified is the great object of faith. All the passages of His life, from His nativity to His death, are passed over in the Creed without reciting, because, though they are things to be believed, yet the belief of them is not sufficient without the belief of the cross: in that alone was our redemption wrought.

Had He only lived, He had not been a Saviour. If our faith stop in His life, and do not fasten upon His blood, it will not be a justifying faith.

His miracles, which prepared the world for His doctrine, His holiness, which fitted Himself for His suffering, had been insufficient for as without the addition of the cross.

Without the cross, we had been under the demerit of our crimes, the venom of our natures, the slavery of our sins, and the tyranny of the devil; without the cross, we should forever have had God for our enemy, and Satan for our executioner; without the cross, we had lain groaning under the punishment of our transgressions, and despaired of any smile from heaven.

It was this death which as a sacrifice appeased God, and as a price redeemed us. Nothing is so strong to encourage us, nothing so powerful to purify us. How can we be without thinking of it!

The world we live in had fallen upon our heads, had it not been upheld by the pillar of the cross, had not Christ stepped in and promised a satisfaction for the sin of man.

By this all things consist. Not a blessing we enjoy but may put us in mind of it. They were all forfeited by our sins, but merited by his precious blood.

If we study it well, we shall be sensible how God hated sin and loved a world; how much he would part with to restore a fallen creature. He showed an irresistible love to us.”

–Stephen Charnock, “The Knowledge of Christ Crucified,” The Works of Stephen Charnock, Volume 4 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1865/2010), 4: 504.

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“You can never love Him as He has loved you” by Charles Spurgeon

“Our Lord Jesus was not only in the brunt of danger, and in the faintness of His agony, but He was in full prospect of a cruel death. He knew all that was to be done to Him.

When you and I have to suffer, we do not know what is before us; it is a happy circumstance that we do not.

But Jesus knew that they would buffet Him. He knew that they would blindfold Him. He knew that they would spit in His face. He knew that they would scourge Him. He knew that the crown of thorns would tear His temples.

He knew that He would be led forth like a malefactor, bearing the gibbet on His shoulder. He knew that they would nail His feet and hands to the cruel cross.

He knew that He would cry, “I thirst.” He knew that His Father must forsake Him on account of the sin of man that would be laid upon Him.

He knew all that. These huge Atlantic billows of grief cast their spray in His face already, His lips were salty with the brine of His coming grief.

But He did not think of that! His one thought was for His beloved, those whom His Father had given Him. Till He dies, He will keep His eye on His sheep, and He will grasp His Shepherd’s crook with which to drive the foe from them.

Oh, the all-absorbing, self-consuming love of Christ! Do you know that love, beloved? If so, let your hearts reciprocate it, loving Him in return with all the strength of your life, and all the wealth of your being.

Even then you can never love Him as He has loved you. O faulty saints, you who do love Him, and yet often fail Him, you who do trust Him, and yet are oftentimes dismayed, gather strength, I pray you, from this wonderful love of Jesus!

Is not the love of Christ a mass of miracles, all wonders packed together?

It is not a subject for surprise that He should love, but that He should love such worms as we are, that He should love us when we were dead in trespasses and sins, that He should love us into life, should love us despite our faults, should love us to perfection, and should love us until He brings us to share His glory.

Rejoice, then, in this wondrous care of Christ,—the dying Christ with a living care for His disciples.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “The Living Care of the Dying Christ,” in Majesty in Misery: Select Sermons on the Passion of Christ, Volume 1: Dark Gethsemane (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2005), 222-223. [MTPS, 40: 316-317]

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“God All-Sufficient” – The Valley of Vision

O LORD OF GRACE,

The world is before me this day,
and I am weak and fearful,
but I look to Thee for strength;
If I venture forth alone I stumble and fall,
but on the Beloved’s arms I am firm
as the eternal hills;
If left to the treachery of my heart
I shall shame Thy Name,
but if enlightened, guided, upheld by Thy Spirit,
I shall bring Thee glory.
Be Thou my arm to support,
my strength to stand,
my light to see,
my feet to run,
my shield to protect,
my sword to repel,
my sun to warm.
To enrich me will not diminish Thy fullness;
All Thy lovingkindness is in Thy Son,
I bring Him to Thee in the arms of faith,
I urge His saving Name as the One who died for me.
I plead His blood to pay my debts of wrong.
Accept His worthiness for my unworthiness,
His sinlessness for my transgressions,
His purity for my uncleanness,
His sincerity for my guile,
His truth for my deceits,
His meekness for my pride,
His constancy for my backslidings,
His love for my enmity,
His fullness for my emptiness,
His faithfulness for my treachery,
His obedience for my lawlessness,
His glory for my shame,
His devotedness for my waywardness,
His holy life for my unchaste ways,
His righteousness for my dead works,
His death for my life.”

–“God All-Sufficient,” in The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, Ed. Arthur Bennett (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1983), 155.

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“Having God’s Son, we have all we can ever wish for” by John Calvin

“We may always come boldly to God’s throne, assuring ourselves that His majesty will no more be terrifying to us, seeing He shows Himself a Father towards us in the person of His only Son. We see then that St. Paul’s intention is to keep us close to Jesus Christ.

And therein we also see what our perversity is. For it is certain that the care and zeal which St. Paul had, to make us cleave steadfastly to the Son of God, came through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, who knew our frailty and inconstancy. If we had (in a manner of speaking) one drop of sound sense, it would be enough to make us understand that by the gospel we may possess God’s Son who gives Himself to us, and that by having Him, we have all we can ever wish for.

It would have been enough to have spoken this in one word, as St. Paul has shown already, (Rom. 8:32) but we see how he repeats and confirms his saying, as though it were hard to believe. And indeed it is hard, because we are too much given to distrust and unbelief. Again, to believe for one day is not all that we have to do.

It is necessary for us to persevere, which is found as a very rare thing in this world, because we are always fluttering about, by reason of which men, as it were, willfully deprive themselves of what was given them. Furthermore, since all the world is in this case, and we cannot be won or persuaded without great pains to come to our Lord Jesus Christ and to rest on Him, let us use the remedy St. Paul proposes here.

And first of all we must carefully observe that Jesus Christ is the door to open heaven to us, (John 10:9) for we know that at His death the veil of the Temple was rent in two, (Matt. 27:51) and that in such a way, that we may now enter without inhibition into the sanctuary of God—not of such a material temple as was then— so that we may approach into the presence of our God and come to Him for refuge, just as a child throws himself into the lap of his father or mother, for it is certain that God surpasses all the fathers and mothers of the world in all kindness and favour.

Seeing then that we know that, what more do we think would be to our benefit? What better or more excellent thing would we have rather than God? Then we must go and search for it in the bottom of hell. For when we have engaged in wanderings to our heart’s content we shall invariably find that there is nothing in any of all the creatures high or low that is worth a straw in comparison with God, as the prophet Isaiah says. (Isaiah 45:6)

So then, seeing that God has given Himself to us in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that the whole fulness of the Godhead dwells in that great sanctuary which was typified by the visible sanctuary of the law, (Hebrews 9:9) ought we not to be fully satisfied when we have that, and to rest ourselves wholly there?

And although our minds and our affections are fickle, yet they ought to be held in check like prisoners, so that we may say, ‘Let us cleave, let us cleave to our God,’ according to that saying of David, ‘Behold, all my happiness and all my joy is joined to my God! (Psalm 73:28) He is the fountain of light and life. (Psalm 36:9) He is my portion, I cannot have a better lot, I must take all my delight in Him.’ (Psalm 16:5)”

–John Calvin, “Sermon on Ephesians 3:9-12,” Sermons on the Epistle to the Ephesians (trans. Arthur Golding; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1562/1973), 266-268.

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