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Entries in Voices From the Past (21)

Monday
Dec262011

Voices From the Past - December 26, 2011

For we do not have a high priest who is unable
to sympathize with our weaknesses
Hebrew 4:15

We have a High Priest who is so great that there is none in the world like him.  He is so far beyond us, and infinitely above us, that we are but dust and ashes.  Yet, he is touched with the feeling of our infirmities.  He now appears for us in heaven-- in our nature.  Our Lord took our frail nature upon him and was exposed to want, poverty, hunger, cold, weariness, pain, death, grief, anguish, trouble, and fear.  He knows all of our infirmities.  None of them are so small that he does not take notice.  We may feel our afflictions are more than we can number, but he counts them exactly.  He does not only know them notionally, but experimentally.   He has himself been exercised with them.  He knows by experience what it is to be in need, to have nothing upon which to ride, and nowhere to lay his head.  He knows what it is to be in pain, and to be despised, abused, reproached and hated.  He knows the sorrows of life and the pangs of death by his own experience.  He knows what it is to be tempted to sin and troubled with horrid suggestions from Satan.  He knows what it is to be in all of these things.  and now, he is affected with our infirmities, and is touched with the feeling of them.  He not only has suffered what others feel, but suffers with them in what they feel.  Though Christ is no longer under these infirmities as he once was, he is touched in his soul by our sufferings.  He desires to help and comfort us, and do what is best for us in such a condition, out of his wonderful love.  He feels as we feel at the sufferings of a very dear friend.  His compassion is as a parent for a beloved child.

David Clarkson, Works, 111:81-85

Sunday
Dec182011

Voices From the Past - December 18, 2011

In the beginning there was nothing in the earth that had life or any disposition towards it.  The Holy Spirit moved upon the prepared matter and communicated unto it the principle of life.  Since Adam brought spiritual darkness and death upon all mankind, no man who has ever lived, has had the least principle of spiritual life in him, or any disposition towards it.  In this state of things the Holy Spirit must create life.  He undertakes this by the effectual communication of a new principle of spiritual life unto the souls of God's elect.  This work is regeneration, and the Spirit is the principal and efficient cause of it (John 3:8).  Flesh and blood, and the will of man, are rejected completely in this matter.  The new birth is ascribed unto God alone.  In the new birth he creates a new spiritual being.  The foundation for this came by Jesus Christ, who brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.  The great Physician of our souls came to heal the wound of our nature, laid bare the disease itself, declared the greatness of it, and the ruin we were under that we might be thankful for our transformation.  There is a great variety in the  means which the Holy Spirit uses for this great work.  He works when and how he pleases.  Mostly, he uses the preaching of the Word, but sometimes men are called in an extraordinary manner.  Notwithstanding this, regeneration is of the same nature in all who experience it.  All born of God are born equally so.  One may have more of the image of his heavenly Father impressed on him, be more or less holy, or exhibit more perfections of grace, but they cannot be more or less regenerate.  There is but one kind of regeneration, and the essential form of it is specifically the same in all.

John Own, Works, 111:207-216 

Sunday
Dec042011

Voices From the Past - December 4, 2011

He who had set me apart before I was born,
... was pleased to reveal is Son to me.
Galatians 1:15-16

A remarkable performance of providence for the people of God is the ordering of the occasion, instrument, and means of their conversion.  In nothing does providence shine forth more gloriously.  You are more beholden to him for this than for all your other mercies.  I cannot but think that your heart must be deeply affectd by the thought of it.  Every gracious heart loves to meditate on this.  It is certainly the sweetest history that was ever told.  The place where, and the instruments used, are exceedingly special.  Jacob's instruments!  O the deep sweet impressions, never to be razed out of the memory that this providence has made upon you.  The Lord cast us upon the occasion and ordered the small circumstance for this work to be done. The eunuch, at the very instant he was reading the prophet Isaiah was joined by Philip to show him the way of salvation.  How strange was the change upon Naaman th Syrian wrought by the providential curcumstances of a little captured girl!  Consider the blessed providence and conversion of the Samaritans.  How often have people been amazed that the preacher seems to be speaking exactly to their heart when he knew nothing about them!  O what a sweet remembrance it should be to your soul!  Providence had a design upon you for your eternal good.  Little did Zacchaeus know the desing of Christ's mercy upon hi when he climbed that tree.  Little did some of you think what the aim of providence was when you went to hear such a sermon.  O blessed providence to set you in the way of mercy!  This mercy flows out of the fountain of God's electing love.  It is an eternal mercy that will stick by you when all else fails around you.

John Flavel, Works, IV:376-387

Sunday
Nov272011

Voices From the Past - November 27, 2011 

Not as I will, but as you will
Matthew 26:39

When we pray, we must be wary that our misunderstanding of providence does not make us faint.  God cannot answer our prayers if they cross his revealed will or secret providence.  Since God makes all things work for good to those called according to his purpose (Rom. 8:28), that which cannot be for our good shall never be given.  The physician knows better than the patient what is good for him, and so in like manner, many things are denied us that would hurt us.  We see fathers keep knives, burning sticks, and such sharp and dangerous things away from their childen bcause they love them and want to keep them from things that would hurt them.  God answers our prayers in his way though we might desire it in our way.  'O,' said Naaman (2 Kings 5:11), 'Behold,  I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.' But the Lord will not be tied to means.  Paul's prayer for the ship was answered; they all came safe to land, but some on broken pieces of the ship, and some swimming.  Let God appoint the means, and your deliverance shall be more speedy and comfortable.  God sometimes gives exactly as we ask, but at other times answers in value, though not in kind.  He did not take away Paul's thorn, but he gave sufficient grace instead.   Paul was answered in value.  So many times our prayers are heard when we least think and perceive it, and the good is done to us, as it were, against our will Men cry out to the surgeon to take off the plaster that hurts, but holding it there cures us.  God answers far better things than we desired.  When we labour in prayer and do not receive what we asked for, God makes it up better in another way.  Your prayers are not lost, but paid double.

Richard Sibbes, Works, VII:235-240

Sometimes, God just gives us the exact word we need to hear.

Sunday
Oct302011

Voices From the Past - October 30, 2011

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling
and to present you blameless before the presence
of his glory with great joy
Jude 24

To stand in heaven and look back on earth, and weigh them together in the balance, must transport the soul and make it cry out, 'Is this the place that cost so dear as the blood of God?  No wonder, O blessed price, and thrice-blessed love!  Is this the result of believing?  Is this the outcome of the Spirit's work?  Have the gales of grace blown me into such a harbour?  Is it here that Christ has enticed my soul?  O blessed way and end!  Now I see the gospel indeed as good tidings.  Has my mourning, fasting, sad humbling groaning, and complaining come to this?  Has my praying and watching come to this?  Have my affections and fears of death come this?  Have Satan's temptations and the world's scorns come to this?  O vile nature that resisted such a blessing!  Was duty wearisome?  Was all the world too good to lose?  Did I resist leaving all, denying all, and suffering anything for this?  Was I loath to die and to come to this?  O false heart that almost betrayed me to eternal flames and lost me this glory!  O base flesh that desired to be pleased!  O soul, are you not ashamed that you ever doubted the love that brought you here?  Are you not ashamed of your hard thoughts of God and his providences, repining the ways that have led to such an end?  Are you not sufficiently convinced that the ways you called hard the up you called bitter were necessary?  The Lord had a sweeter purpose and meant better than you would believe.  Your Redeemer was saving you as much when he crossed your desires as when he granted them, and he was saving you when he broke your heart as much as when he bound it up.  No thanks to you, unworthy self, for this received crown, but to Jehovah and the Lamb be glory forever!'

 Richard Baxter, The Saints' Everlasting Rest, pp. 44-46