The Saints Everlasting Rest: 2

By Richard Baxter

 

It was not only our interest in God, and actual enjoyment of him, which was lost in Adam’s fall but all spiritual knowledge of him, and true disposition towards such a felicity.  When the Son of God comes with recovering grace, and discoveries of a spiritual and eternal happiness and glory, he finds not faith in man to believe it.  As the poor man, that would not believe any one had such a sum as a hundred pounds, it was so far above what he possessed, so men will hardly now believe there is such a happiness as once they had, much less as Christ hath now procured.

When God would give the Israelites his Sabbaths of rest, in a land of rest, it was harder to make them believe it, than to overcome their enemies, and procure it for them.  And when they had it, only as a small intimation and earnest of an incomparably more glorious rest through Christ, they yet believe no more than they possess, but say, with the epicure at the feast, Sure there is no other heaven but this! or, if they expect more by the Messiah, it is only the increase of their earthly felicity.

The apostle aims most of this Epistle against this obduracy, and clearly and largely proves that the end of all ceremonies and shadows is to direct them to Jesus Christ, the substance; and that the rest of Sabbaths, and Canaan, should teach them to look for a further rest, which indeed is their happiness.

My text is his conclusion after divers arguments; a conclusion which contains the ground of all the believer’s comfort, the end of all his duty and sufferings, the life and sum of all gospel promises and Christian privileges.

Christian Love 42: Humble Beginnings

By Hugh Binning

 

Now these are the steps of it, mentioned in Matthew 5, and the lowest step that a soul first ascends to him by, is poverty of spirit, or humility.  And truly the spirit cannot meet with Jesus Christ til he first bring it down low, because he has come so low himself, as that no soul can ascend up to heaven by him, except they bow down to his lowliness, and rise upon that step.  Now a man being humbled in spirit before God, and under his mighty hand, he is only fit to obey the apostolic precept “Be subject one to another,”. (1st Peter 5:5)

Humility towards men depends upon that poverty and self emptying under God’s mighty hand, verse 6.  It is only a lowly heart that can make the back to bow, and submit to others of whatsoever quality, and condescend to them of low degree.  (Romans 12:16, Ephesians 5:21)  But the fear of the Lord humbling the spirit will easily set it as low as any other can put it.  This is the only basis and foundation of Christian submission and moderation.  It is not a complementary condescending.  It consists not in an external show of gesture and voice.  That is but an apish imitation.  And indeed pride often will satisfy itself under voluntary shows of humility, and can demean itself to indecent and unseemly submissions to people far inferior, but it is the more deformed and hateful, that it lurks under some shadows of humility.  As an ape is the more ugly and ill favored that it is liker a man, because it is not a man, so vices have more deformity in them when they put on the garb and clothing of virtue.  Only it may appear how beautiful a garment true humility is, when pride desires often to be covered with the appearance of it, to hide its nakedness.

O how rich a clothing is the plain and simple garment of humility and poverty of spirit! “Be clothed with humility,”. (1st Peter 5:5)  It is the ornament of all graces.  It covers a man’s nakedness by the uncovering of it.  If a man had all other endowments, this one dead fly, would make all the ointment unsavory, pride. But humility is condimentum virtutum, as well as vestimentum.  It seasons all graces, and covers all infirmities.  Clothes are for ornament and necessity both.  Truly this clothing is alike fit for both, to adorn and beautify whatsoever is excellent, and to hide or supply whatsoever is deficient.

 


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Christian Love 41:The Blessed Poor

By Hugh Binning

 

The first week of creation, as it were, afforded two individual examples of this wise arrangement of divine justice, angels cast out of heaven, and man out of paradise, a high and terrible aim at wisdom brought both as low as hell. The pride of angels and men was only the rising up to a height, or climbing up a steep to the pinnacle of glory, that they might catch the lower fall.  But the last week of the creation, to speak so, will afford us rare and eminent demonstrations of the other, poor, bad, and miserable sinners lifted up to heaven by humility, when angels were thrown down from heaven for pride. What a strange sight, an angel, once so glorious, so low, and a sinner, once so bad and miserable, so high!

Truly may any man conclude within himself, “Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud,”.  (Proverbs 16:19) Happy lowliness, that is the foundation of true highness! But miserable highness that is the beginning of eternal lowness. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,”. (Matthew 5:3)  Blessedness begins low, in poverty of spirit.  And Christ’s sermon upon blessedness begins at it, but it arises in the end to the riches of a kingdom, a heavenly kingdom.

Grace is the seed of glory, and poverty of spirit is the seed, first dead before it be enlivened to grow up in fruits. And indeed the grain “is not made alive except it die,” (1st Corinthians 15:36) and then it gets a body, and “brings forth much fruit,”. (John 7:24) Even so, grace is sown into the heart, but it is not made alive except it die in humility, and then God gives it a body, when it springs up in other beautiful graces, of meekness, patience, love, and so on.  But these are never ripe til the day that the soul get the warm beams of heaven, being separated from the body, and then the harvest is a rich crop of blessedness.  Holiness is the ladder to go up to happiness by, or rather our Lord Jesus Christ as adorned with all these graces.

 


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Christian Love 40: Pride and Humility

By Hugh Binning

 

Now, I believe, if any man could but impartially and seriously reflect upon himself, he would see nothing of that kind, no true solid and real dignity to provoke love, but real lowness and misery to cause loathing.  There is a lie in every sin, but the greatest and grossest lie is committed in pride, and attribution of that excellence to ourselves which is not. And upon what erroneous perception, which is a sandy and vain foundation, is built the tower of self-conceit, vain self-glorying, and the like? Pride, which is the mother of these, says most presumptuously, “By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I am prudent,”. (Isaiah 10:13) “I am and none else besides me,”. (Isaiah 47:10) It is such a false imagination, as “I am of perfect beauty,” “I am and none else,” “I am a god,” (Ezekiel 27:3 and 28:2) which swells and lifts up the heart.  Now what a vain thing is it, an inordinate elevation of the heart upon a false misapprehension of the mind? The “soul which is lifted up, is not upright in him,”. (Hibachi 2:4) It must be a tottering building that is founded on such a gross mistake.

Some cover their pride with the pretense of high spirituality, and please themselves in apprehensions of some magnanimity and generosity.  But the truth is, it is not true magnitude, but a swelling out of the superabundance of destructive thinking.  True greatness of spirit is inwardly and throughout solid, firm from the bottom, and the foundation of it is truth.

Which of the two do you think has the better spirit, he who calls dust, dust, and accounts of a manure pile as a manure pile, or he that, upon a false imagination, thinks dust and manure is gold and silver, esteems himself a rich man, and raises up himself above others? Humility is only true kindness and generosity, for it digs down low, that it may set and establish the foundation of true worth.  It is true, it is lowly, and bows down low.  But as the water that comes from a height, the lower it comes down the higher it ascends up again, so the humble spirit, the lower it falls in its own estimation, the higher it is raised in real worth and in God’s estimation. “He that humbles himself shall be exalted, and he who exalts himself shall be abased,”.  (Matthew 23:12) He is like a growing tree, the deeper the roots go down in the earth, the higher the tree grows above ground, as Jacob’s ladder, the foot of it is fastened in the earth, but the top of it reaches the heaven.  And this is the sure way to ascend to heaven.

Pride would fly up upon its own wings. But the humble man will enter at the lowest step, and so goes up by degrees, and in the end is made manifest.  Pride catches a fall, and humility is raised on high; it descended that it might ascend. “A man’s pride brings him low, but one of lowly spirit gains honor,”. (Proverbs 29:23) “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” But “before honor is humility,”.  (Proverbs 16:16 and 18:12)

 


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Christian Love 37: Majesty of Meekness

By Hugh Binning

 

Having, then, such a Teacher and Master, sent to us from heaven, shouldn’t we then glory in our Master?  But some may suppose, that he who came down from heaven, filled with all the riches and treasures of heavenly wisdom, should reveal in his school unto his disciples, all the mysteries and profound secrets of nature and art, about which the world has plodded since the first taste of the tree of knowledge, and beaten out their brains to the frustration of all their spirits, without any fruit, but the discovery of the impossibility of knowing, and the increase of sorrow by searching. Who would not expect, when the Wisdom of God descends among men, but that he should show unto the world that wisdom, in the understanding of all the works of God, which all men have been pursuing in vain; that he by whom all things were created, and so could uncover and manifest all their hidden causes and virtues, all their admirable and wonderful qualities and operations, as easily by a word, as he made them by a word; who would not expect, I say, but that he should have made this world, and the mysteries of it, the subject of all his lessons, the more to illustrate his own glorious power and wisdom?

And yet see, those who came into his school and heard this Master and Doctor teach his scholars, they who had been invited to come, through the fame and report of his name, would have stood astonished and surprised to hear the subject of his doctrine; one come from on high to teach so low things as these, “Learn of me, I am meek and lowly.” Other men that are masters of professions, and authors of sects or orders, aspire to some singularity in doctrine to make them famous.  But behold our Lord and Master, this is the doctrine he vents!  It has nothing in it that sounds high, and looks big in the estimation of the world.  In regard of the wisdom of the world, it is foolishness, a doctrine of humility from the most High!  A lesson of lowliness and meekness from the Lord and Maker of all! There seems, at first, nothing in it to allure any to follow it. Who would travel so far as the college of Christianity to learn no more but this, when every man pretends to be a teacher of it?

But truly there is a majesty in this lowliness and there is a singularity in this commonness.  If you would stay and hear a little longer, and enter into a deep search of this doctrine, we would be surcharged and overcome with wonders.  It seems shallow till you enter but it really has no bottom.  Christianity does not make great noise, but it runs the deeper.  It is a light and superficial knowledge of it, a small smattering of the doctrine of it, that makes men despise it and prefer other things, but the deep and solid apprehension of it will make us adore and admire, and drive us to an O altitudo! “O the depth both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” (Romans 11:33).  As the superficial knowledge of nature makes men atheists, but the profound understanding of it makes men seek God so all other things, vilescit scientia, “grow more contemptible by the knowledge of them.” It is ignorance of them which is the mother of that devout admiration we bear to them. But Christianity only, vilescit ignorantia, clarescit scientia, is common and low, because it is not known.  And that is no disparagement at all to it, that there is no one who despises it, but the one who doesn’t know it, and anyone who knows it, can do nothing but despise all things it once knew other than it.

 


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R.C. Chapman’s S.O.S. 2:15

By R.C. Chapman

 

“Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines; for our vines have tender grapes.” (Song of Solomon 2:15)

I am troubled and ashamed, as this warning strikes the ear, this precious warning voice of my Beloved! Alas! My neglected spirit, what has it not cost me! When I should have been watching my affections with all jealousy of love to my Lord, I have been hindered with much serving; I have been of a doubtful mind; and keeping the heart with all diligence has been forgotten.

How much of the proud Pharisee cleaves to me still, who washes the outside of the cup and the platter, heedless of that which is within! (Matthew 23:25; Luke 11:39)

O my soul! Are you not ashamed! Think to yourself, that, as Jesus is the church’s Husband, so it is the greatest duty of the bride, the Lamb’s wife, to give Him her heart! Watch therefore, against those things which take from Him of your love.  Your husband, who His own self bore your sins in His own body on the tree, is now in heaven to present you to the Father: so you are holy and blameless before Him in love! Do not refrain, therefore, to search for those little foxes, those subtle sins that cheat you with a flattering smile, those foxes that have their holes in the depths of the heart.

Jesus Himself, is the light to show you these little enemies that do you so grievous trouble.  Beware, I charge you, of descending without His lamp into the dark caverns.  You will only be bewildered there, unless Jesus goes with you:  You will be terrified, instead of humbled; confounded, instead of instructed.  Therefore, let Jesus be wisdom to you in the blood of His cross, that precious blood, which blotted out all your iniquities, will bring to light your hidden evils! By its sprinkling, you will discern the humble cloak of pride, you will see how the heart can be puffed up with wind, and feed upon the east wind of empty thoughts, instead of Christ! You will see the guilt of neglecting the whispers of the Lord’s love, through self sufficiency in your dealing with little matters without the help and fellowship of your Lord, of ungentle behavior toward brothers, and of the lack of tenderness toward the ungodly.

These things, and other numberless things, you will perceive and hate; and if the tender grapes of your inward grace and comfort have suffered loss, and Jesus has withdrawn Himself, you will justify Him and say: Lord, my heart sins have grieved You, and in all Your correction You are holy and full of love.

 


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Christian Love 36: Learning Meekness

By Hugh Binning

 

Humility is the root of charity, and meekness the fruit of both.  There is no solid and pure ground of love to others, except that the worthlessness of self-love be first cast out of the soul; and when that excessive evil is cast out, then charity has a solid and deep foundation: “The end of the command is charity out of a pure heart,” (1st Timothy 1:5).  It is only such a purified heart, cleansed from that poison and infection of pride and self-conceit which can send out such a sweet and wholesome stream, to the refreshing of the spirits and hearts of the church of God.  If self-glory and pride have deep roots fastened into the soul, they draw all the sap and virtue downward, and send little or nothing at all up to the tree of charity, which makes it barren and unfruitful in the works of righteousness, and fruits of mercy and meekness.  There are obstructions in the way of that communication, which only can be removed by the plucking up of these roots of pride and self-conceit, which prey upon all, and incorporate all in themselves and their own benefit, yet, like the lean cows who devoured the fat ones, are never the fatter or more well-favored.

It is no wonder, then, that these are the first principles that we must learn in Christ’s school, the very A-B-C s of Christianity: “Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls,” (Matthew 11:29).  This is the great Prophet sent by the Father into the world to teach us, whom he has, with a voice from heaven, commanded us to hear: “This is my well-beloved Son, hear him.” Shouldn’t the fame and report of such a Teacher move us? He was testified of very honorably, long before he came, that he had the Spirit above measure, that he had “the tongue of the learned;” (Isaiah 1:4).  He was a greater prophet than Moses, (Deuteronomy 18: 15,18) that is, the wonderful counselor of heaven and earth (Isaiah 9:6) the ““Witness to the people,” a Teacher and “Leader to the people.” And then, when he came, he had the most glorious testimony from the most glorious persons, the Father and the Holy Ghost, in the most solemn manner that the world ever heard of, (Matthew 17:5) “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.” Now, this is our Master, our Rabbi, (Matthew 23:8).  This is the Apostle and High Priest of our profession (Hebrews 3:1)  “the light of the world and life of men,” (John 8:12 and 6:33,51)

 


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R.C. Chapman’s S.O.S. 2:14

By R.C. Chapman

 

“O my dove, that is in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see your countenance, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your countenance is comely.” (Song of Solomon 2:14)

Does it make you moan, O my soul, complaining, that, while Jesus calls you His dove, you are still so much like the beast of the forest, the men of this world; who, like their father, Satan, are full of pride, envy, self-will, discontent, and coveting?  These things, to your grief, hurry you away from Jesus; and so fickle are you, so movable your ways, that when He banquets you with his smile, then you are most close to forsaking Him!  O what dirtiness is in you!  Dirtiness on you!  Yet do not be cast down, O my soul; neither be anxious within me; for, listen!  The voice of your Beloved!  Though in your own eyes some fierce wolf or filthy swine, your Lord calls you His dove! And He will never take away His Holy Spirit from you.  Do not think because He will prove you with truth, and open to you the secret chambers of your heart, that He will, therefore, cast you off.  He hates putting away; He bids you to call to mind the safety in the clefts of the rock.

I charge you, do not dishonor Him by unbelief, as though He were capable of change! Behold the mountains, they may depart; and the hills, they may be removed that seem to stand fast for ever, showing defiance to the power of earthquake  and tempest, yes, even of time itself! But Jesus!  He is the mighty God, and His kindness will not depart from you.  He is Alpha, Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the ending.  His name is I am!  Behold your Rock, smitten by the hand of God the Father, from Whom gushed out the waters.  Of these waters drink forever, O my soul!  The wounds of Jesus are your everlasting life.  The blind world didn’t know your access within the holiest of all, for they didn’t come to the blood of sprinkling: but, O do not be unmindful of your high calling!  Jesus Himself invites you!  He does not delight only in the songs above, those who see Him face to face: He would have you humbly bold to speak with Him, who says, “Let me hear your voice; for sweet is your voice, and your countenance is comely.”

 


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Christian Love 35: Love Covers Sins

By Hugh Binning

 

“Charity covers a multitude of sins,” (1st Peter 4:8) and therefore “above all things have fervent charity among yourselves,” he says.  What is above prayer and watching to the end, above carefulness? Indeed, in reference to fellowship with God, these are above all; but in relation to comfortable fellowship one with another in this world, this is above all, and the crown or cream of other graces.  He whose sins are covered by God’s free love, cannot think it a hard thing to spread the garment of his love over his brother’s sins.  Hatred stirs up strife, all uncharitable affections, such as envy, and wrath.  It stirs up contentions, and makes a spreading fire of  men’s infirmities.  But “love covers all sins,” conceals them from all to whom the knowledge of them does not belong, (Proverbs 10:12)

Love in a way does not attempt to know the bad it knows, or at least to remember it much.  It will sometimes hoodwink itself to a favorable esteeming of others.  It will pass by an infirmity and flaw, but many stand still and commune with the infirmity and flaws of others.  But the one who  covers a transgression seeks love to bury offences in.  Silence is a notable way to preserve agreement and harmony, and bring forth true warmth and friendship.  The keeping of faults long above ground unburied, makes them cast forth an evil smell that will away separate friends.  Therefore, the wise man says, “He who covers a transgression seeks love: but he who repeats a matter separates close friends,” (Proverbs 17) Covering faults in a Christian way, will make a stranger a friend; but repeating and spreading of them will make a friend not only a stranger, but also an enemy.

Yet this is not to the say that we have no Christian duty of reproving and admonishing one another, “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” (Ephesians 5:11) Love commands us to reprove in the “spirit of meekness,” (Galatians 6:1) as a man would restore an arm out of joint.  Therefore you “You shall not hate your brother in your heart.  You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. ” (Leviticus 19:17) And he who reproves his brother in this manner out of love, and in meekness and wisdom, “will afterwards find more favor from him than the one who flatters with his tongue,” (Proverbs 28:23).

To cover and hide grudges and jealousies in our hearts, is to nourish a flame in our hearts, which only waits to vent, and will at one time or another burst out.  But to look too narrowly to every step, and to write up a registry of men’s petty faults, especially so as to make them known to the world; this is inconsistent with the rule of love. And truly, it is a token of one “destitute of wisdom to hate his neighbor; but a man of understanding will hold his peace.” He who has most defects himself, will find the most in others, and strive to vilify them one way or another; but a wise man can pass by frailties, yes, even offences done to him, and be silent, (Proverbs 11:12).

 


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