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Katherine Sewell
I've done all my posting for this morning, and I am truly very sorry that you got only one post out of a dozen!! It's that dreaded "h" word that MyPraize will NOT accept!! And with all the sites that I post to, and all the posts I have to post each week, I simply cannot waste my time trying to post to MyPraize. Perhaps, someday, MyPraize will wake up and ralize that there is "heaven" and "h" for a Christian to talk about. Until then, I will leave this site open but not used!
Katherine Sewell
I Bequeath My Pastor's Soul to the devil! "Covetousness, which is idolatry" (Colossians 3:5). Covetousness is explicit idolatry. Covetousness is the darling sin of our nation. Covetousness being idolatry - is highly provoking to God. This leprosy has infected all sorts and ranks of men. Whatever a man loves most and best - that is his god! The covetous man looks upon the riches of the world as his heaven - his happiness - his great ALL. His heart is most upon the world, his thoughts are most upon the world, his affections are most upon the world, his discourse is most about the world. He who has his mind taken up with the world, and chiefly delighted with the world's music - he has also his tongue tuned to the same key, and takes his joy and comfort in speaking of the world and worldly things. If the world is in his heart - it will break out at the lips. A worldly-minded man speaks mostly of worldly things. "They are of the world, therefore they speak of the world," (John 4:5). The love of this world oils the tongue for worldly discourses, and makes men... forget God, neglect Christ, despise holiness, forfeit heaven. Ah! the time, the thoughts, the strength, the efforts - which are spent upon the world, and the things of the world - while sinners' souls lie bleeding, and eternity is hastening upon them! I have read of a greedy banker, who was always best when he was most in talking of money and the world. Being near his death, he was much pressed to make his WILL. Finally he dictates: First, I bequeath my own soul to the devil - for being go greedy for the muck of this world! Second, I bequeath my wife's soul to the devil - for persuading me to this worldly course of life. Thirdly, I bequeath my pastor's soul to the devil - because he did not show me the danger I lived in, nor reprove me for it! "People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction!" (1 Timothy 6:9). ~Thomas Brooks~ _____________________________ The One Who Profits Me the Most! "Be an example to all believers... in what you teach, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity" (1 Timothy 4:12). I will name some of the criteria by which I measure the helpfulness of a preacher or writer to my own soul. The one who profits me the most, is the man whose ministry brings the most awe of a holy and sovereign God into my heart, who reveals my sinfulness and failures to me, who conveys the most light on my path of duty, who makes Christ most precious to me, who encourages me to press forward along the narrow way. "Watch your life and doctrine closely" (1 Timothy 4:16). ~A. W. Pink~ ___________________________ That Irresponsible, Amusement-mad Paganized Pseudo-religion!! In many churches, the Gospel has been watered down until the solution is so weak, that if it were poison - it would not hurt anyone; and if it were medicine - it would not cure anyone! We must have a new reformation! There must come a violent break with that irresponsible, amusement-mad, paganized pseudo-religion which passes today for the faith of Christ and which is being spread all over the world by unspiritual men employing unscriptural methods to achieve their unspiritual ends! ~A. W. Tozer~ __________________________ Your Life Preaches All the Week Study universal holiness of life. Your whole usefulness depends on this, for your sermons last but an hour or two - your life all the week. If satan can only make a covetous minister a lover of praise, of pleasure, of good eating - he has ruined his ministry. Give your self to prayer, and get your texts, your thoughts, your words from God. In great measure, according to the purity and perfections of the instrument, will be success. It is not great talents God blesses, so much as great likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awesome weapon in the hand of God! ~Robert Murray M'Cheyne~ _____________________________ Souls Are Perishing - And Ministers are Amusing Them! "But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes the life of one of them - that man will be taken away because of his sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for his blood. When I say to the wicked, 'O wicked man, you will surely die!' and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways - that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood!" (Ezekiel 33:6-8). We behold this same evil affecting many of the pulpits to today's churches. Mere morality is taking the place of regeneration, and the atonement by blood is a slighted subject. Instead of beseeching men to be reconciled to God - we find ministers wasting their time in giving Sunday lectures about all kinds of subjects. Rome is burning - and Nero is playing his fiddle! Souls are perishing - and ministers are amusing them! ~Archibald Brown~
Katherine Sewell
Confession # 5 [I goofed!! I said, "(the End) on the last post of this series on Confession. There is more finishing here!] Of all practises that were ever devised by man in the name of religion, I firmly believe that none was ever devised so mischievous and objectionable as the confessional! It overthrows Christ's office, and places man in the seat which should only be occupied by the Son of God. It puts two sinners in a thoroughly wrong position: it exalts the confessor far too high; and it places those who confess far too low. It gives the confessor a place which it is not safe for any child of Adam to occupy. It imposes on those who confess, a bondage to which it is not safe for any child of Adam to submit. It sinks one poor sinner into the degrading attitude of serf - it raises another poor sinner into a dangerous mastery over his brother's soul. It make the confessor little less than a God. It makes those who confess little better than slaves. If we love Christian liberty, and value inward peace, let us beware of the slightest approach to the Romish confessional. Those who tell us that Christian ministers were intended to receive confessions, and that Evangelical teaching makes light of the ministerial office, and strips it of all authority and power - are making assertions which they cannot prove. We honor the minister's office highly, but we refuse to give it a hair's breadth more dignity than we find given in the Word of God! We honor ministers as Christ's ambassadors, Christ's messengers, Christ's watchmen, helpers of believers' joy, preachers of the Word, and stewards of the mysteries of God. But we decline to regard them as priests, mediators, confessors, and rulers over men's faith - both for the sake of their souls and of our own. The vulgar notion that Evangelical teaching is opposed to the exercise of soul-discipline, or heart-examination, or self-humiliation, or mortification of the flesh, or true contrition - is a mere invention of man's. Opposed to it! There was never a more baseless assertion. We are entirely favorable to it. This only we require - but that it shall be carried on in the right way. We approve of a confessional - but it must be the only true one - but the throne of grace. We approve of going to a confessor - but it must be the true One - Christ the Lord. We approve of submitting consciences to a priest - but it must be to the great High Priest - Jesus the Son of God. We approve of unbosoming our secret sins, and seeking absolution - but it must be at the feet of the great Head of the Church, and not at the feet of one of His weak members. We approve of kneeling to receive godly counsel - but it must be at the feet of Christ, and not at the feet of man. Let us beware of ever losing sight of Christ's priestly office. Let us glory in His atoning death, honor Him as our Substitute and Surety on the Cross, hear His voice as our Prophet, and obey Him as our King. I shall conclude this paper with two words of PRACTICAL APPLICATION. (a) We have seen who ought to confess sin. (b) We have seen to WHOM confession ought to be made. Let us try to bring the subject nearer to our hearts and consciences. Times flies very fast. Writing and preaching - reading and working - doubting and speculating - discussion and controversy - all, all will soon be past and gone forever! Yet a little while and there will remain nothing but certainties, realities and eternity! Let us then ask ourselves honestly and conscientiously, Do we confess? 1. If we never confessed sin before, let us go this very day to the throne of grace, and speak to the great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, about our souls. Let us pour out our heart before Him, and keep nothing back from Him. Let us acknowledge our iniquities to Him, and entreat Him to cleanse them away. Let us say to Him, in David's words, "For Your name's sake - pardon my iniquity, for it is great." "Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities." Let us cry to Him as the publican did in the parable, "God be merciful to me a sinner." (Ps. 25:11, 51:9; Luke 18:13). Are we afraid to do this? Do we feel unworthy and unfit to begin? Let us resist such feelings, and begin without delay. There are glorious Bible examples to encourage us - there are rich Bible promises to lure us on. In all the volume of Scripture there are no passages so encouraging as those which are about confession of sin. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:8). "If any say: I have sinned, and perverted that which is right, and it profited me not; He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light" (Job 33:27). "Father, said the prodigal son, "I have sinned against Heaven and in your sight, and am no more worthy to be called your son. But the Father said to his servant: Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring in his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and be merry." (Luke 15:21-23). If Christ had never died for sinners, there might be some excuse for doubting. But Christ having suffered for sin, there is nothing that need keep us back. (2) If we have been taught by the Holy Spirit to confess our sins, and know the subject of this paper by inward experience - then let us keep up the habit of confession to the last day of our lives. May every day find us more humble - and yet more hopeful; more sensible of our own unworthiness - and yet more ready to rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh! May our prayers become every day more fervent; our confessions of sin more real; our eye more single; our walk with God more close; our knowledge of Jesus more clear; our love to Jesus more deep; our citizenship in Heaven more manifest; and our separation from the world more distinct! So living - we shall cross the waves of this troublesome world with comfort, and have an abundant entrance into God's kingdom. So living - we shall find that our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Yet a few more years, and our prayers and confessions shall cease forever. We shall begin an endless life of praise. We shall exchange our daily confessions for eternal thanksgivings! ~J. C. Ryle~ (The End)
Katherine Sewell
The Chief End of Life # 5 But perhaps you ambition takes a lower aim, a narrower range, and you have set your highest mark in DOMESTIC HAPPINESS, and feel that in obtaining a comfortable home, and sharing it with the woman of your choice and of your love, you would reach the summit of your ambition, and neither look nor wish for anything beyond. This, in subordination to true religion is a wise moderation, a modest ambition. But, put in lieu of piety, it is a groveling and earthly one. How soon, if acquired, may that little earthly paradise be broken up by the intrusion of poverty or death! Besides, what is so likely to secure this object as the once we recommend? It is only over the lovely scene of a pious household that the beautiful strain of ancient poetry may still be poured, "How goodly are your tents, Jacob, and your tents, Israel! As valleys they are spread forth, as gardens by the riverside, as aloes which Yahweh has planted, as cedar trees beside the waters." Tested then by itself and an examination of its own characteristics, and also by contrast with everything that may be put in competition with it, true religion proves itself to be what it really is, and we ourselves have found it to be - the chief end, the chief good, and therefore the chief business of life. To assist each other in the pursuit of this object we, who send forth this address, are associated in brotherhood and in fellowship. The purpose of our association is not scientific - that may be sought, and should be sought, in other associations. Neither is it political, on this subject we have our opinions, and as they may in some measure differ, we do not discuss that thorny topic. Nor is it commercial, we gain our knowledge of everything connected with trade by solitary reading and attending to our business, whatever it may be, in the scene of our daily occupation. Nor, we can truly aver, is it sectarian, for we are members of different communities of Christians, who, without sacrificing or compromising our conscientious convictions and usual practices, have agreed to unite for a common object, upon the basis of great principles avowed by us all, and are held to each other by the bond of brotherly kindness and charity. We had already learned from many proofs around us, the possibility of union without compromise, and now have experienced, "how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity." It is our conviction that no sentiments ought to keep professing Christians from uniting with each other in some way, which do not keep them from union with Christ. We say, then, to you, as Moses did to his father-in-law, "We are journeying to the place of which the Lord has said, I will give to you. Come you with us, and we will do you good; for the Lord has spoken good concerning Israel." And we think that it would be happy for you, if you would reply in the language of Ruth to Naomi, "Where you go I will go - your people shall be my people, and your God my God." It is not our chief aim, however, to draw you within the circle of our hallowed association, as we deem it, for this would do you no good, nor would it promote the end of our union, or be in accordance with its laws, unless you were first drawn to God through faith in Jesus Christ. It is this latter end which is our main object. Having found out the blessed secret that genuine religion is the young man's safest guide, as well as surest bliss, we long to impart the secret to you, and to lead you to the well-spring of pure felicity. As we have already said - once we were ignorant of this, but the eyes of our understanding are now opened, and in the fullness of our adoring wonder, gratitude, and love, we feel that we cannot more worthily magnify God, for His grace to us, or more acceptably serve Him - than by an endeavor to make you the sharers of our bliss. There is nothing more certain than death; there is nothing more uncertain than life. "Youth is as mortal as the elderly." Presume not on long life. But now turn to another spectacle, we mean that of an individual who has lived out his fourscore years, and died at last without true religion. He may have acquired wealth and left his family in affluence; he may have got for himself a name, and obtained a niche for his statue in the temple of fame; he may have gained respect for his talents while he lived, and for his memory when dead; and he may have even left a rich legacy to posterity, in works of public usefulness. But inasmuch as he neglected to glorify God by a life of religion, he lived in vain as regards the eternal world. The sublime end of existence was lost; and in the first moment of his waking up in another world, he would exclaim, "I have lost my life, for I have lost my soul!" He has committed a fatal mistake which require an eternity to understand - and an eternity to deplore! From that mistake may God in His great mercy preserve us, by bringing us with clear intelligence, deliberate resolution, inflexible purpose, and prayerful dependence - to adopt and ever maintain the apostle's choice of an object of existence, and say, in reference to the salvation of our immortal soul - this thing I do! ~John Angell James~ (The End)
Katherine Sewell
The Chief End of Life # 4 Young men and women, we implore you to give this subject your serious consideration. You, like ourselves, are just setting out on life's eventful journey. O say, should there be no plan laid down, no purpose formed for such a course? Shall life be aimless, objectless, meaningless? What life? Shall we trust to incidents and casualties as they spring up - for our plan of action? Shall we float down the stream of existence like twigs on the river, and lie at the mercy of whatever can lay hold upon us? Shall mere chance form our character, select our objects, guide our conduct? Remember, we can have but one life. All, all, for a time and for eternity too, is staked upon that one throw of the dice, and embarked in that one adventure. Character and destiny for this world and the next are involved in this one life. A misspent life can never be spent over again! It is a mistake which will require everlasting ages to understand and deplore it. If you hesitate about our choice of the end of existence, will you allow us respectfully and affectionately to inquire what you would propose instead of it? What have you found so immensely valuable, that it is more worthy of your pursuit than that which we have set before you? If it is indeed better than ours, more deserving the regard of a rational, moral, and immortal being than religion and eternal salvation, tell it to us, that we may rise to a higher dignity and bliss than we have yet reached. Do you say that your object is "To succeed in business, and to obtain WEALTH?" We are not indifferent to this as a subordinate object, and we believe, as we have already said, that our religion will rather help than hinder us in the attainment of it. But as a supreme object of existence - it is too uncertain as to its attainment, too unsatisfying as regards its nature, and too precarious as to its tenure, and too short-lived as to its continuance, to be our supreme end. We have not seen much of life, but we have seen enough to learn that many fail in business, where one succeeds; and that the few who succeed seem by no means the happiest. And we have also been often sadly impressed and affected by the spectacle of the successful competitor for business and wealth, cut off by death - just when the time had arrived for enjoying his gains and luxuriating in ease upon the profits of his industry. The announcement made to the successful man, congratulating himself upon his acquisitions and his prospects, "You fool! This very night your life is demanded of you. And the things you have prepared - whose will they be?" has often rung in our ears. Is it PLEASURE your propose as the end of life? No man is less likely to enjoy pleasure than he who lives for it, who makes it a business and profession. We have not only heard and read, but have seen, that a taste for pleasure in youth is the way to poverty in manhood, and misery in old age. We would here present you with one of the most affecting scenes ever exhibited even in the martyrology of pleasure's victims. It is taken from the death-bed of that accomplished poet, and as accomplished libertine, Lord Byron; a man in whom the darkest passions of the soul, the loftiest powers of imagination, and the grossest propensities of man's animal nature, struggled for preeminence. One who was a spectator of the scene writes: "He felt assured that his bodily constitution had been irretrievably ruined by intemperance; that he was a worn-out man; and that his muscular power was gone. Flashes before his eyes, palpitations and anxieties, hourly afflicted him. 'Do you suppose,' he said with impatience, 'that I wish for life? I have grown heartily sick of it, and shall welcome the hour I depart from it. Why should I regret it? Can it afford me any pleasure? Have I not enjoyed it to the fullest? Few men can more pleasure-loving than I have done. I am literally speaking, a young old man. Hardly arrived at manhood, I had attained the zenith of fame. Pleasure I have known under every form in which it can present itself to mortals. I had traveled, satisfied my curiosity, and lost every illusion. I have exhausted all the nectar of the cup of life: it is time to throw away the dregs. But the apprehension of two things now haunts my mind: I picture myself slowly expiring on a bed of torture, or terminating my days as a sad idiot! Would to heaven the day were come in which I should meet immediate, painless death - the object of my wishes.' "It is with infinite regret," continues the writer, "I must state, that, although I seldom left Lord Byron's pillow during the latter part of his illness, I did not hear him make any, even the smallest, mention of true religion. At one moment I heard him say, "Shall I sue for mercy?" After a long pause, he added, "Come, come, no weakness. Let's be a man to the last." Thus terminated, in a gloomy,sullen fit of infidelity and despair. All of his rank, wealth, genius had been sacrificed to skepticism - and its natural fruits, vice, and misery. He had made pleasure his deity, and now see in what a miserable condition his god leaves him. What an antidote does his death furnish to the poison of his life! Is there anything here to tempt us to infidelity and wicked pleasure? Perhaps you propose mental cultivation and the acquisition of KNOWLEDGE as the great end of life. We say nothing against learning,science, and the arts. We profess to admire them,and to have some taste for them. We have drunk at their springs, and often bitterly regret that our circumstances forbid us to partake more largely of their delicious waters. But then what will these do for us, in supplying the deeper needs of our moral nature, healing its diseases, or in satisfying its higher aspirations? Can they obtain for us the renovation of our corrupt hearts, the pardon of our numerous sins, the forfeited favor of God, assistance in our struggles after holiness, consolation in the dark and dreary hour of human woe, guidance amidst the perplexities of life,and protection from its dangers? Or, as may be the case, should we be cut off in life's sweet prime, will they stand by our dying bed, smooth its pillows, and comfort us in the prospect of the grave? Will they qualify us to go in and dwell with God in heaven, and partake of the glories of immortality? Shall we in looking back upon life so early brought to a close, and in looking on to eternity so near at hand, feel that in studying science and neglecting true religion, we have answered the end of life? ~J. C. Ryle~ (continued with # 5)
Katherine Sewell
satanic Temptations # 4 By faith, we are assured of the truth, excellence, and importance of God's Word, and thus oppose the whole Bible to satan's darts. The doctrines and duties, the invitations and promises, the warnings and threatenings, are all useful by turns. Are we tempted by the difficulties and mysteries of some of the doctrines - to disbelief, and error? Faith fixes her powerful eye upon the evidence of the truth, and with a powerful eye upon the evidence of the truth, and with a "Thus says the Lord," to depend upon, receives the truth on the authority of Him who reveals it, and at the same time, conscious of its inability to comprehend even the most common matters in their full extent, bows the intellect into submission to the Scriptures, and admits, without gainsayig, whatever Divine wisdom has revealed. It is one of satan's masterpieces to induce men to take some one truth of Scripture, and to magnify its importance beyond all due bounds, and to exalt it not only above all other truths - but to the utter exclusion of them, thus founding error upon truth, and heresies upon the sacred Scriptures. Socinianism takes the humanity and example of Christ - but leaves out His Divinity and atonement. Mysticism, perverting the indwelling of the Spirit, insists on the inward light, to the neglect of the work of Christ, and the outward revelation. Antinomianism triumphs in free grace and justification by faith - but is negligent of good works; while self-righteousness is proud of good works to the neglect of faith. Rigid predestinarianism asserts the sovereignty of God to the subversion of man's freedom; while Pelagianism boasts of man's own sufficiency, to the denial of God's decrees and human dependence. But a simple faith takes the whole Word and thus repels the wiles of the tempter. In like manner, when the temptation is to sinful indulgence, and when the father of lies urges all kinds of arguments, and furnishes all kinds of excuses for sin, that it is but a little offence, or a common one; that repentance can soon follow it; that there is no perfection here; that it is a part of the conflict for us to be occasionally defeated; that it need not be repeated - then faith meets the whole, by this one declaration, "It is still sin! God has forbidden it. How can I do this wickedness, and sin against the Lord?" Thus, as Christ Himself overcame the tempter by quoting Scripture, so does the believer. The apostle Paul exhorts us to be sober and vigilant, because our adversary the devil goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Sobriety means not merely a restraint upon our fleshly appetite, so as not to be intoxicated with strong drink - but a restraint also upon the lusts of the mind, so as not to have the soul intoxicated with the love of the world. Many a man has a drunken soul, who never had a drink in his life. Beware of spiritual inebriety. What can an intoxicated man do against a roaring lion? He can neither fight nor flee. And we must add vigilance to sobriety. Watchfulness is an essential duty of the Christian life; none is more necessary; none more frequently or more solemnly enjoined. Who that is asleep can defend himself against a lion? How cautiously, how circumspectly should we walk, if we were in a country where wild beasts are common, and saw the footprints, and actually heard the roar of a lion. Such is our situation. See to it, then, that you do walk circumspectly - looking all around, watching every object, lest it conceal the enemy; your trials, your comforts, your occupations, your tastes, your pleasures, your thoughts, your desires, your besetting sins - and especially watch your hearts with all diligence. An unwatchful Christian is sure to be an unsuccessful one. To sum up all that I would inculcate on this awful subject, I would remark: It is a mysterious one, and we should not allow a restless and unwholesome curiosity to pry further into it than God has seen fit to reveal. It is a solemn one, and should never be spoken of lightly or irreverently. it is a scriptural one, and should not be viewed with skepticism and distrust. We should never allow ourselves to throw the blame of our sins upon satan, nor in the smallest degree plead the strength and subtlety of his temptations, as an excuse for our guilt in complying with them; for though he may entice, he cannot compel. John Angell James~ (The End)
Katherine Sewell
Evidences and Results of Sanctified Affliction # 4 6. A clearer view of the glory of Christ, and a deeper sense of His inestimable preciousness, are an evidence of growth of grace in affliction. The design of all God's dealings in His providential dispensations, in the scheme of redemption, and in the work of His Holy Spirit - is to bring us to Christ, to enlighten our minds in the knowledge of Him, and to endear Him more and more to our hearts! If, then, amidst the 'decays of health' we have learned to feel His value more, as the Physician of souls; if amidst the 'loss of property', the worth of His unsearchable riches has been more correctly estimated; if at the 'grave of earthly friends', we have been drawn closer to Him the Friend of sinners; if amidst the gloom and desolation of earthly scenes, the glory of the Cross has shone forth with a new and surpassing luster; if amidst privations and losses, otherwise trying and distressing, we are brought to adopt the language of the apostle, "I have all things, and abound. All things are mine; for I am Christ's!" In this case, also, the affliction has answered its end; for that trial cannot have been in vain, which has revealed to us the glory of the Saviour, and made us more Christlike, both in our sentiments, feelings and life. Clearer views of the importance of gospel truths, and a richer unction from them resting upon the heart, acquired by sorrow - are a convincing proof of benefit from God's chastening hand. 7. Less dread pf future trials, with a stronger trust in God for support under them - is another evidence of sanctified trial. There is about most of us, until it is removed by God's grace, a timidity, dread, and desponding feeling about afflictions, which make us afraid to encounter them. We turn away from them with dismay, as if there were no power which could support us under them, no wisdom to guide us through them, and no grace to comfort us in the midst of them. The very shadow of an approaching affliction makes our coward hearts to tremble, and causes us to cry out in unbelief, "How can I endure it?" We thus dishonor God by our guilty fears, and show a weakness of faith exceedingly dishonorable to us. To be cured of this weakness by affliction, and to rise out of it strong in faith, and firm in trust; to feel our fears subsiding, and our confidence in God established; to see new chastisements preparing for us, to be endured as soon as the present ones have ceased; to behold storm clouds returning after the rain, and gathering to beat upon us, when those which have lately spent their fury upon us retire - and yet to be able to say, "I will trust and not be afraid - for with the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength, and He will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed upon Him, because he trusts in Him" - is a genuine mark of improvement by afflictive dispensations. God's design in chastening us - is to bring us to confide in Him. He demands our trust, and is honored by it, and it is really no small part of our sanctification. And he that goes forward from one cross to another, strengthened by the past to meet with greater courage the future; who can trust himself and all he has with greater calmness to the disposal of God, with less apprehension for the result, has not been visited in vain by the afflictive hand of God. 8. A more entire consecration of the soul to God's service in general, and to some special service in particular, is also a proof of sanctified affliction. How delightful a spectacle is it to God, to angels, and to men - to see a Christian rising from the bed of his own sickness, or returning from the grave of a near relative, in the spirit of the hundred and sixteenth Psalm - and while the eyes are yet moistened with tears, and the heart soft with sorrow, yielding up himself afresh to the claims, the service, and the glory of God; and instead of being paralyzed with grief, or taken up with enjoyment, setting himself apart by a new dedication to God. How beautiful is the language of the Psalmist in the review of his deliverance, "I love the Lord because He has heard my appeal for mercy. Because He has turned His ear to me, I will call out to Him as long as I live. The ropes of death were wrapped around me, and the horrors of the grave overcame me; I encountered trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: "Lord, save me!" The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is compassionate. The Lord guards the simple; I was helpless, and He saved me. Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. For You, Lord, rescued me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living. I believed, even when I said, "I am severely afflicted." How can I repay the Lord all the good He has done for me? I will take the cup of salvation and worship the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all His people. Lord, I am indeed Your servant; I am Your servant! You have loosened my bonds. I will offer You a sacrifice of thanksgiving and will worship the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord, in the very presence of all His people, in the courts of the Lord's house. Hallelujah!" This is the language of sanctified affliction. Then when the Christian is seen giving himself afresh to the service of God, in a more devoted attendance upon all the means of grace, private, domestic, and public; when his liberality is more diffusive, and his zeal more ardent; when he seems concerned, inventive, and laborious to show his gratitude and love by new acts of devotedness, and former measures of service will not content him - it is a convincing evidence that he has derived benefit from tribulation. 9. Increased sympathy for others in their affliction, is a proof that our own affliction has done us good. In some cases sorrow has hardened the heart, and made men selfish; it has drawn off all their attention from others, and concentrated it on themselves. This is a dark sign; nothing can be a stronger proof that trials have done us harm, instead of good - than when they have blunted our susceptibilities, hardened our hearts, and put all our tears in reserve for ourselves! Nor, on the contrary, can there be a more convincing evidence that they have benefited us, than an increase of sympathy, and a greater readiness to weep with those who weep. It is a delightful exhibition of a mind softened and sanctified by affliction, to see a person, on recovering from it, still holding in remembrance the wormwood and the gall - and instead of giving himself to selfish enjoyment, going forth with quickened sensibilities to support and comfort the distressed. Such are the proofs, evidences and results of sanctified affliction. May they be found in you, my dear friends; and in your pastor. Trials abound in this world - it is a valley of tears. happy will it be for us, if we shall emerge from it at length into that blessed region, where God shall wipe away all tears from every eye. "I reckon," said the blessed Paul, "that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us!" Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory!" "We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, and are called according to His purpose." With such internal consolations as the gospel affords, and with such a peace as passes understanding - what external tribulation may we not endure, and endure not only with all patience, but with joyfulness? Be much in prayer for the presence and help of the Spirit of God as a Comforter. Without His aid the least trial will distress you - and with it the greatest cannot crush you! God is able to support and comfort - as well as save - to the uttermost! And none of us an tell what, in either case - the uttermost of God can do! ~J. C. Ryle~ (The End)
Katherine Sewell
Justification # 4 Oh, believe me, there is no peace with God except through Christ! Peace is His peculiar gift. Peace is that legacy which He alone had power to leave behind Him when He left the world. All other peace beside this, is a mockery and a delusion. When hunger can be relieved without food, and thirst quenched without drink, and weariness removed without rest - then, and not until then, will people find peace without Christ. Now, is this peace your own? Bought by Christ with His own blood, offered by Christ freely to all who are willing to receive it - is this peace your own? Oh, rest not - rest not until you can give a satisfactory answer to my question, have you true peace with God? 4. Let me show you, in the last place, the HAND by which the privilege of peace is received - FAITH. I ask special attention of all who read these pages to this part of our subject. There is scarcely any point in Christianity so important as the means by which Christ, justification, and peace, become the property of a man's soul. Many, I fear, would go with me so far as I have gone in this paper - but would part company here. Let us endeavor to lay hold firmly on the truth. The means by which a man obtains an interest in Christ and all His benefits is simple faith. There is but one thing needful in order to be justified by His blood, and have peace with God. That one thing is to believe on Him. This is the peculiar mark of a true Christian. He believes on the Lord Jesus for his salvation. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved." "Whosoever believes in Him shall not perish - but have eternal life" (Acts 16:31; John 3:16). Without this faith it is impossible to be saved. A man may be moral, amiable, good-natured, and respectable. But if he does not believe on Christ, he has no pardon, no justification, no title to heaven. "He who believes not, is condemned already." "He who believes not the Son shall not see life - but the wrath of God abides on him." "He who believes not, shall be damned." (John 3:18,36; Mark 16:16). Beside this faith nothing whatever is needed for a man's justification. Beyond doubt, repentance, holiness, love, humility, prayerfulness - will always be seen in the justified man. But they do not in the smallest degree justify him in the sight of God. Nothing joins a man to Christ - nothing justifies - but simple faith. "To him who works not - but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." "We conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law." (Romans 4:5; 3:28). Having this faith, a man is at once completely justified. His sins are at once removed. His iniquities are at once put away.The very hour that he believes he is reckoned by God entirely pardoned, forgiven, and a righteous man. His justification is not a future privilege, to be obtained after a long time and great pains. It is an immediate present possession. Jesus says, "He who believes on Me has everlasting life." Paul says, "By Him all who believe are justified from all things." (John 6:47; Acts 13:39). I need hardly say that it is of the utmost importance to have clear views about the nature of true SAVING FAITH. It is constantly spoken of as the distinguishing characteristic of New Testament Christians. They are called "believers." In the single Gospel of John, "believing" is mentioned eighty or ninety times. There is hardly any subject about which so many mistakes are made. There is none about which mistakes are so injurious to the soul. The darkness of many a sincere inquirer may be traced up to confused views about faith. Let us try to get a distinct idea of its real nature. True saving faith is not the possession of everybody. The opinion that all who are called Christians are, as a matter of course, believers, is a most mischievous delusion. A man may be baptized, like Simon Magus, and yet have "no part or lot" in Christ. The visible Church contains unbelievers as well as believers. "All people have not faith" (2 Thess. 3:2). True saving faith is not a mere matter of FEELING. A man may have many good feelings and desires in his mind towards Christ, and yet they may all prove as temporary and short-lived as the morning cloud and the early dew. Many are like the stoney-ground hearers, and "receive the word with joy." Many will say under momentary excitement, "I will follow You wherever You go," and yet return to the world. (Matt. 8:19; 13:20). True saving faith is not a bare assent of the intellect to the fact that Christ died for sinners. This is not a jot better than the faith of devils. They know who Jesus is. "They believe," and they do more, "they tremble." (James 2:19). True saving faith is an act of the whole inner man. It is an act of the head, heart, and will, all united and combined. It is an act of the soul, in which - seeing his own guilt, danger, and hopelessness - and seeing at the same time Christ offering to save him - a man ventures on Christ - flees to Christ - receives Christ as his only hope, and becomes a willing dependent on Him for salvation. It is an act which becomes at once the parent or a habit. He who has it may not always be equally sensible of his own faith; but in the main he lives by faith, and walks by faith. True faith has nothing whatever of merit about it, and in the highest sense cannot be called "a work." It is but laying hold of a Saviour's hand, leaning on a husband's arm, and receiving a physician's medicine. It brings with it nothing to Christ, but a sinful man's soul. It gives nothing, contributes nothing, pays nothing, performs nothing. It only receives, takes, accepts, grasps, and embraces the glorious gift of justification which Christ bestows, and by renewed daily acts enjoys that gift. Of all Christian graces, faith is the most important. Of all, it is the simplest in reality. Of all, it is the most difficult to make people understand in practice. The mistakes into which people fall about it are endless. Some who have no faith never doubt for a moment that they are believers. Others, who have real faith, can never be persuaded that they are believers at all. But nearly every mistake about faith may be traced up to the old root of natural pride. People will persist in sticking to the idea that they are to pay something of their own in order to be saved. As to a faith which consists in receiving only, and paying nothing at all, it seems as if they could not understand it. Saving faith is the hand of the soul. The sinner is like a drowning man at the point of sinking. He sees the Lord Jesus Christ holding out help to him. He grasps it and is saved. This is faith. (Hebrews 6:18). Saving faith is the eye of the soul. The sinner is like the Israelite bitten by the fiery serpent in the wilderness, and at the point of death. The Lord Jesus Christ is offered to him as the brazen serpent, set up for his cure. He looks and is healed. This is faith. (John 3:14, 15). Saving faith is the mouth of the soul. The sinner is starving for lack of food, and sick of a severe disease. The Lord Jesus Christ is set before him as the bread of life, and the universal medicine. He receives it, and is made well and strong. This is faith. (John 6:35). Saving faith is the foot of the soul. The sinner is pursued by a deadly enemy, and is in fear of being overtaken. The Lord Jesus Christ is put before him as a strong tower, a hiding place, and a refuge. He runs into it and is safe. This is faith. (Prov. 18:10). ~J. C. Ryle~ (continued with # 5)
Katherine Sewell
Justification # 3 3. Let me show you, in the third place, the ROCK from which justification and peace with God flow. That rock is Christ. The true Christian is not justified because of any goodness of his own. His peace is not to be traced up to any work that he has done. It is not purchased by his prayers and regularity, his repentance and his amendment, his morality and his charity. All these are utterly unable to justify him. In themselves they are defective in many things and need a large forgiveness. And as to justifying him, such a thing is not to be named. Tried by the perfect standard of God's law the best of Christians is nothing better than a justified sinner, a pardoned criminal. As to merit, worthiness, desert, or claim upon God's mercy - he has none. Peace built on any such foundations as these is utterly worthless. The man who rests upon them is miserably deceived. Never were truer words put on paper than those which Richard Hooker penned on this subject 280 years ago. Let those who would like to know what English clergymen thought in olden times, mark well what he says. "If God would make us an offer thus large - Search all the generations of people since the fall of your father Adam, and find one man, who has done any one action, which has past from him pure, without any stain or blemish at all - and for that one man's one only action,, neither man nor angel shall find the torments which are prepared for both - do you think this ransom, to deliver man and angels, would be found among the sons of men? The best things we do have something in them to be pardoned. How then can we do anything meritorious and worthy to be rewarded?" To these words I desire entirely to subscribe. I believe that no man can be justified by his works before God in the slightest possible degree. Before man he may be justified - his works may evidence the reality of his Christianity. Before God he cannot be justified by anything that he can do - he will be always defective, always imperfect, always short-coming, always far below the mark, so long as he lives. It is not by works of his own that anyone ever has peace and is a justified man. But how then is a true Christian justified? What is the secret of that peace and sense of pardon which he enjoys? How can we understand a holy God dealing with a sinful man - as with one innocent, and reckoning him righteous notwithstanding his many sins? The answer to all these questions is short and simple. The true Christian is counted righteous for the sake of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He is justified because of the death and atonement of Christ. He has peace because "Christ died for his sins according to the Scriptures." This is the key that unlocks the mighty mystery. Here the great problem is solved, how God can be just and yet justify the ungodly. The life and death of the Lord Jesus explain all. "He is our peace." (1 Cor. 15:3; Eph. 2:14). Christ has stood in the place of the true Christian. He has become his Surety and his Substitute. He undertook to bear all that was to be borne, and to do all that was to be done - and what He undertook He performed. Hence the true Christian is a justified man. (Isaiah 53:6). Christ has suffered for sins, the "just for the unjust." He has endured our punishment in His own body on the Cross. He has allowed the wrath of God, which we deserved, to fall on His own head. Hence the true Christian is a justified man. (1 Pet. 3:1-8). Christ has paid the debt the Christian owed, by His own blood. He has reckoned for it, and discharged it to the uttermost farthing by His own death. God is a just God, and will not require his debts to be paid twice over. Hence the true Christian is a justified man. (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 1:18, 19). Christ has obeyed the law of God perfectly. The devil, the prince of this world, could find no fault in Him. By so fulfilling it He brought in an everlasting righteousness, in which all His people are clothed in the sight of God. Hence the true Christian is a justified man. (Dan. 9:24; Rom. 10:4). Christ, in one word, has lived for the true Christian. Christ has died for him. Christ has gone to the grave for him. Christ has risen again for him. Christ has ascended up on high for him, and gone into heaven to intercede for his soul. Christ has done all, paid all, suffered all that was needful for his redemption. Hence arises the true Christian's justification - hence his peace. In himself there is nothing but sin - but in Christ he has all things that his soul can require. (Col. 2:3; 3:11). Who can tell the blessedness of the exchange which takes place between the true Christian and the Lord Jesus Christ! Christ's righteousness is placed upon him - and his sins are placed upon Christ. Christ has been reckoned a sinner for sinner for his sake - and now he is reckoned innocent for Christ's sake. Christ has been condemned for his sake though thee was no fault in Him - and now he is acquitted for Christ's sake, though he is covered with sins, faults, and short-comings. Here is wisdom indeed! God can now be just and yet pardon the ungodly. Man can feel that he is a sinner, and yet have a good hope of heaven and feel peace within. Who among us could have imagined such a thing? Who ought not to admire it when he hears it? (2 Cor. 5:21). This may well be called a "love that passes knowledge!" It no way could free grace ever have shone so brightly as in the way of justification by Christ. (Eph. 3:19). This is the old way by which alone the children of Adam, who have been justified from the beginning of the world, have found their peace. From Abel downwards, no man or woman has ever had one drop of mercy - except through Christ. To Him every altar that was raised before the time of Moses was intended to point. To Him every sacrifice and ordinance of the Jewish law was meant to direct the children of Israel. Of Him all the prophets testified. In a word, if you lose sight of justification by Christ, a large part of the Old Testament Scripture will become an unmeaning tangled maze. This, above all, is the way of justification which exactly meets the needs and requirements of human nature. There is a conscience left in man, although he is a fallen being. There is a dim sense of his own need, which it in his better moments will make itself heard, and which nothing but Christ can satisfy. So long as his conscience is not hungry, any religious toy will satisfy a man's soul and keep him quiet. But once let his conscience become hungry, and nothing will quiet him but real spiritual food - no food but Christ. There is something within a man, when his conscience is really awake, which whispers, "There must be punishment and suffering because of my sins - or no peace." At once the Gospel meets him with Christ. Christ has suffered for sin, the just for the unjust, to bring him to God. He bore our sins in His own body on the tree. By His stripes we are healed. (1 Pet. 2:24; 3:18). I know there are thousands of professing Christians who see no peculiar beauty in this doctrine of justification by Christ. Their hearts are buried in the things of the world. Their consciences are palsied, benumbed, and speechless. But whenever a man's conscience begins really to feel and speak, he will see something in Christ's atonement and priestly office which he never saw before. Light does not suit the eye nor music the ear, more perfectly than Christ suits the real needs of a sinful soul. This is the one true way of peace - justification by Christ. Beware lest any turn you out of this way and lead you into any of the false doctrines of the Church of Rome. Alas, it is amazing to see how that false Church has built a house of error near by the house of truth! Hold fast the truth of God about justification, and be not deceived. Listen not to anything you may hear about other mediators and helpers to peace. Remember there is no mediator but one - Jesus Christ. Remember there is no purgatory for sinners but one - the blood of Christ. Remember there is no sacrifice for sin but one - the sacrifice once made on the Cross. Remember there are no works that can merit anything - but the work of Christ. Remember there is no priest who can truly absolve - but Christ. Stand fast here, and be on your guard. Give not the glory due to Christ, to another. ~J. C. Ryle~ (continued with # 4)
Katherine Sewell
Justification # 2 2. Let me show you, in the next place, the FOUNTAIN from which true peace is drawn. That fountain is justification. The peace of the true Christian is not a vague, dreamy feeling, without reason and without foundation. He can show cause for it. He builds upon solid ground. He has peace with God, because he is justified. Without justification it is impossible to have real peace with God. Conscience forbids it. Sin is a mountain between a man and God, and must be taken away. The sense of guilt lies heavy on the heart, and must be removed. Unpardoned sin will murder peace. The true Christian knows all this well. His peace arises from a consciousness of his sins being forgiven, and his guilt being put away. His house is not built on sandy ground. His well is not a broken cistern, which can hold no water. He has peace with God, because he is justified. He is justified, and his sins are forgiven. However many, and however great, they are cleansed away, pardoned, and wiped out. They are blotted out of the book of God's remembrance. They are sunk into the depths of the sea. They are cast behind God's back. They are searched for and not found. They are remembered no more. Though they may have been like scarlet, they are become white as snow; though they may have been red like crimson, they are as wool. And so he has peace. He is justified and counted righteous in God's sight. The Father sees no spot in him, and reckons him innocent. He is clothed in a robe of perfect righteousness, and may sit down by the side of a holy God without feeling ashamed. The holy law of God, which touches the thoughts and intents of men's hearts, cannot condemn him. The devil, "the accuser of the brethren," can lay nothing to his charge, to prevent his full acquittal. And so he has peace. Is he not naturally a poor, weak, erring, defective sinner? He is! None knows that better than he does himself. But notwithstanding this, he is reckoned complete, perfect, and faultless before God, for he is justified! Is he not naturally a debtor? He is! None feels that more deeply than he does himself. He owes ten thousand talents, and has nothing of his own to pay. But his debts are all paid, settled, and crossed out forever, for he is justified! is he not naturally liable to the curse of a broken law? He is! None would confess that more readily than he would himself. But the demands of the law have been fully satisfied - the claims of justice have been met to the last tittle, and he is justified! Does he not naturally deserve punishment? He does! None would acknowledge that more fully than he would himself. But the punishment has been borne. The wrath of God against sin has been made manifest. Yet he has escaped, and is justified! Does anyone who is reading this paper know anything of all this? Are you justified? Do you feel as if you were pardoned, forgiven, and accepted before God? Can you draw near to Him with boldness, and say, "You are my Father and my Friend, and I am Your reconciled child"? Oh, believe me, you will never taste true peace until you are justified! Where are your sins? Are they removed and taken away from off your soul? Have they been reckoned for, and accounted for, in God's presence? Oh, be very sure these questions are of the most solemn importance! A peace of conscience not built on justification, is a perilous dream. From such a false peace the Lord deliver you! Settle it in your mind that there can be no peace with God, unless we feel that we are justified. We must know what has become of our sins. We must have a reasonable hope that they are forgiven, and put away. We must have the witness of our conscience that we are reckoned not guilty before God. Without this it is vain to talk of peace with God. We have nothing but the deception and imitation of it. "There is no peace, says my God, to the wicked" (Isa. 57:21). Did you ever hear the sound of the trumpets which are blown before the judges, as they come into a city to open the Courts? Did you ever reflect how different are the feelings which these trumpets awaken in the minds of different people? The innocent man, who has no cause to be tried, hears them unmoved. They proclaim no terrors to him. He listens and looks on quietly, and is not afraid. But often there is some poor wretch, waiting his trial in a silent cell, to whom those trumpets are a knell of despair. They warn him that the day of trial is at hand. Yet a little time and he will stand at the bar of justice, and hear witness after witness telling the story of his misdeeds. Yet a little time, and all will be over -the trial, the verdict, and the sentence - and there will remain nothing for him but punishment and disgrace. No wonder the prisoner's heart beats quickly, when he hears that trumpet's sound! There is a day fast coming when all who are not justified shall despair in like manner. The voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God shall scatter to the winds the false peace which now buoys up many a soul. The day of judgment shall convince thousands of self-willed people too late, that it needs something more than a few beautiful ideas about "God's love and mercy," to reconcile a man to his Maker, and to deliver his guilty soul from the bottomless pit. No hope shall stand in that solemn day but the hope of the justified man. No peace shall prove solid, substantial, and unbroken - but the peace which is built on justification. Is this peace your own? Rest not, rest not, if you love life, until you know and feel that you are a justified man. Think not that this is a mere matter of names and words. Flatter not yourself with the idea that justification is an "abstruse and difficult subject," and that you may go to heaven will enough without knowing anything about it. Make up you mind to the great truth that there can be no heaven without peace with God - and no peace with God without justification. And then give your soul no rest until you area justified person. ~J. C. Ryle~ (continued with # 3)
Katherine Sewell
Confession # 4 Facts, stubborn facts, abound to show that the practice of confessing to ministers has often led to the grossest and most disgusting unmorality. A living writer has truly said, "There is no worse school of wickedness on earth, than the confessional. History testifies that for every offender whom the confessional has reclaimed - it has hardened thousands; for one it may have saved - it has destroyed millions." The man who turns away from Christ to confess his sins to ministers, is like a man who chooses to live in prison when he may walk at liberty; or to starve and go in rags, in the midst of riches and plenty; or to cringe for favors at the feet of a servant, when he may go boldly to the Master and ask what he will. A mighty and sinless High Priest is provided for him - and yet he prefers to employ the aid of mere fellow-sinners like himself! He is trying to fill his purse with rubbish - when he may have fine gold for the asking. He is insisting on lighting a candle - when he may enjoy the noonday light of God's sun! If we love our souls, let us beware of giving to ministers the honor that belongs to Christ alone - He is the true High Priest of the Christians' profession. He ever lives to receive confessions, and to absolve sinners. Why should we turn away from Him to man? Above all, let us beware of the whole system of the Romish confessional. ~J. C. Ryle~ (The End)
Katherine Sewell
Confession # 3 Christ is a High Priest of infinite WILLINGNESS to receive confession of sin. He invites all who feel their guilt, to come to Him for relief. "Come unto Me," He says, "all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." "If any man thirsts - let him come unto Me and drink." When the penitent thief cried to Him on the Cross - He at once absolved him fully, and gave him an answer of peace. (Matt. 11:28; John 7:37). Christ is a High Priest of perfect KNOWLEDGE. He knows exactly the whole history of all who confess to Him - no secrets are hidden from Him. He never errs in judgment - He makes no mistakes. It is written that "With righteousness He will judge." (Isaiah 11:4). He can discern the difference between the hypocritical professor who is full of words - and the broken-hearted sinner who can scarce stammer out his confession. People may deceive ministers by "good words and fair speeches," but they will never deceive Christ! Christ is a High Priest of matchless TENDERNESS. He will not afflict willingly, or grieve any soul that comes to Him. He will handle delicately, every wound that is exposed to Him. He will deal tenderly even with the vilest sinners, as He did with the Samaritan woman. Confidence reposed in Him is never abused - secrets confided to Him are completely safe. Of Him it is written, that "He will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax." He is one who "despises none." (Isaiah 42:3; Job 36:5). Christ is a High Priest who can SYMPATHIZE with all who confess to Him. He knows the heart of a man by experience, for He had a body like our own, and was made in the likeness of man. "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin." (Hebrews 4:15). To Him the words can most truly be applied, which Elihu applied to himself, "I am just like you before God; I too have been taken from clay. No fear of me should alarm you." (Job 33:6-7). This great High Priest of the gospel is the person whom we ought specially to employ in our confession of sin. It is only through Him and by Him, that we should make all our approaches to God. In Him we may draw near to God with boldness, and have access with confidence. (Eph. 3:12). Laying our hand on Him and His atonement, we may "come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16). We need no other mediator or priest. We can find no better High Priest. Why should we confess our sins to angels and dead saints - while we have Christ for a High Priest? Why should we confess to the Virgin Mary, Michael the Archangel, John the Baptist, Paul, or any other creature in the unseen world? The Church of Rome enjoins such confession as this on her millions of members, and many members of the Church of England seem half-disposed to think the Church of Rome is right! But when we ask a Scriptural reason for the practice, we may ask long without getting an answer. There is no need for such a confession. Christ has not given up His office, and ceased to be our great High Priest. The saints and angels cannot possibly do more for us than Christ can. They certainly have not more pity or compassion, or more good will towards our souls. There is no warrant of Scripture for such a confession. There is not a text in the Bible that bids confess to dead saints angels. There is not an instance in Scripture of any living believer taking his sins to them. There is not the slightest proof that there is any use in such a confession. We do not even know that the saints in glory can hear what we say, much less do we know that they could help us if they heard. They were all sinners saved by grace themselves - where is the likelihood that they could do anything to aid our souls? The man who turns away from Christ to confess to saints and angels, is a deluded robber of his own soul. He is following a shadow - and forsaking the substance. He is rejecting the bread of life, and trying to satisfy his spiritual with sand. But why again, should be confess our sins to living priest or ministers - while we have Christ for a High Priest? The Church of Rome commands her members to do so. A party within the Church of England approves the practice as useful, helpful, and almost needful to the soul. But, again, when we ask for Scripture and reason in support of the practice, we receive no satisfactory answer. There is not any need for confessing to priests or ministers! There is none! There is nothing they can do for a sinner that Christ cannot do a thousand times better! Is there any Scriptural warrant for confessing to priests or ministers? There is NONE. There is NOT a passage in the New Testament which commands it. Paul writes three Epistles to Timothy and Titus about ministerial duty. But he says nothing about receiving confessions. James bids us "confess our faults to one another," but he says nothing about confessing to ministers. Above all, there is not a single example in Scripture of any one confessing to a minister and receiving absolution. We see the Apostles often declaring plainly the way of forgiveness, and pointing men to Christ. But we nowhere find them telling men to confess to them, and offering to absolve them after confession. Finally, is any good likely to result from confessing to priests or ministers? I answer boldly, there is none. Ministers can never know that those who confess to them are telling the truth. Those who confess to them will never feel their consciences really satisfied, and will never feel certain that what they confess will not be improperly used. Above all, the experience of former times is enough to condemn "auricular confession" forever, as a practice of most vile and evil tendency! ~J. C. Ryle~ (continued with # 4)
Katherine Sewell
Confession # 2 Man is naturally asleep - and must be awakened. He is blind - and must be made to see. He is dead - and must be made alive. If this was not the case, then there would be no need for our pressing the duty of confession. Scripture commands it. Reason assents to it. Conscience, in its best moments, approves of it. And yet, notwithstanding this, the vast majority of men have no practical acquaintance with confession of sin! No disease of body is so desperate as mortification. No heart is in so bad a state as the heart that does not feel sin. Shall I say what is my first and foremost wish for wise souls, if they are yet unconverted? I can wish them nothing better than thorough self-knowledge. Ignorance of self and sin are the root of all mischief to the soul. There is hardly a religious error or a false doctrine that may not be traced to it. Light was the first thing called into being. When God created the world, He said, "Let there be light." (Genesis 1:3). Light is the first thing that the Holy Spirit creates in a man's heart, when He awakens, converts, and makes him a true Christian (2 Cor. 4:6). For lack of seeing sin men do not value salvation. Once let a man get a sight of his own heart, and he will begin to cry, "God be merciful to me a sinner!" If a man has learned to feel and acknowledge his sinfulness, he has great reason to thank God. It is a real symptom of health in the inward man. It is a might token for good. To know our spiritual disease - is one step towards a cure. To feel bad and wicked is the first beginning of being really holy. What though we feel ashamed and confounded at the sight of our own transgressions! What though we are humbled to the dust, and cry, "Lord, I am vile! Lord, I am the very chief of sinners!" It is better a thousand times to have these feelings and be miserable under them - than to have no feelings at all. Anything is better than a dead conscience, and a cold heart, and a prayer-less tongue! If we have learned to feel and confess sin, we may well thank God and take courage. Whence came those feelings? Who told you that you were a guilty sinner? What moved you to begin acknowledging your transgressions? How was it that you first found sin to be a burden, and longed to be set free from it? These feelings do not come from man's natural heart. The devil does not teach such lessons. The schools of this world have no power to impart them. These feelings come down from above. They are the precious gift of God the Holy Spirit. It is His special office to convince of sin. The man who has really learned to feel and confess his sins, has learned that which millions never learn, and for lack of which millions die in their sins, and are lost to all eternity. 2. I now turn to the second branch of my subject. To whom ought confession of sin be made? I enter on this branch of the subject with sorrowful feelings. I approach it as a sailor would approach some rock on which many gallant ships have made shipwreck. I cannot forget that I have arrived at a point on which millions of so-called Christians have erred greatly - and millions are erring at the present day. But I dare not keep back anything that is Scriptural, for fear of giving offence. The errors of millions must not prevent a minister of the Gospel speaking the truth. If multitudes are hewing our broken cisterns that an hold no water - then it becomes the more needful to point out the true fountain. If countless souls are turning aside from the right way - then it becomes the more important to show clearly to whom confession ought to be made. Sin, to speak generally, ought to be confessed to God. He it is whom we have chiefly offended. His are the laws which we have broken. To Him it is that all men and women will one day give account. His displeasure is that which sinners have principally to fear. This is what David felt:"Against You, only have I sinned and done this evil in Your sight." (Psalm 51:4). This is what David practiced: "I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord." (Psalm 12:5). This is what Joshua advised Achan to do: "My son, give glory to God, and make confession to Him." (Joshua 7:19). The Jews were right when they said, "Who can forgive sins, but God alone?" (Mark 2:7). But must we leave the matter here? Can vile sinners like us ever dare to confess our sins to a holy God? Will not the thought of His infinite purity shut our mouths and make us afraid? Must not the remembrance of His holiness make us afraid? Is it not written of God, that He is "of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity!" (Habakkuk 1:13). Is it not said, that He "hates all workers of iniquity!" (Psalm 5:5). Did He not say to Moses, "No man shall see my face and live"? (Exodus 33:20). Did not Israel say of old, "Let not God speak with us, lest we die!" (Exodus 20:19). Did not Daniel say, "How can the servant of my Lord talk with my Lord?" (Daniel 10:17). Did not Job say, "When I consider, I am afraid of Him!" (Job 23:15). Did not Isaiah say, "Woe is me, for I am undone - for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty!" (Is. 6:5). Does not Elihu say, "Shall it be told Him that I speak? If a man speaks - then surely he shall be swallowed up"? (Job 37:20). These are serious questions. They are questions which must and will occur to thoughtful minds. There are many who know what Luther meant when he said, "I dare not have anything to do with an absolutely holy God!" But I thank God they are questions to which the gospel supplies a full and satisfactory answer. The gospel reveals One who is exactly suited to the needs of souls which desire to confess sin. I say then, that sin ought to be confessed to God in Christ. I say that sin ought especially to be confessed to God manifest in the flesh - to Jesus Christ the Lord - to that Jesus who came into the world to save sinners - to that Jesus who died for sinners, and rose again for our justification, and now lives at the right hand of God to intercede for all who come to God by Him. He who desires to confess sin, should apply directly to Christ. Christ is our great High Priest. Let that truth sink down into our hearts, and never be forgotten. He is sealed and appointed by God the Father for that very purpose, to be the Priest for Christians. It is His peculiar office to receive, and hear, and pardon, and absolve sinners. It is His place to receive confessions, and to grant full absolutions. It is written in Scripture, "You are a Priest forever!" "We have a great High Priest who has passed into the heavens." "Having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith" (Hebrews 4:14, 5:6, 6:20, 10:21-22). Christ is a High Priest of Almighty power. There is no sin that He cannot pardon - and no sinner that He cannot absolve. He is very God of very God. He is "over all, God blessed forever." He says Himself, "I and my Father are one." He has "all power in heaven and earth." He has "power on earth to forgive sins." He has complete authority to say to the chief of sinners, "Your sins are forgiven. Go in peace." He has "the keys of death and the bottomless pit." When He opens, no one can shut. (Romans 9:5; John 10:30; Matt. 28:18, 9:6; Luke 7:48-50; Revelation 1:18, 3:7). ~J. C. Ryle~ (continued with # 3)
Katherine Sewell
Confession # 1 "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). There are occasions when circumstances give a peculiar importance to particular doctrines in religion. The assaults of enemies sometimes make it needful to exhibit some special truth with special distinctness. The plausible assertion of some error sometimes requires to be met by more than ordinary carefulness in showing "the thing as it is" in the Word. A doctrine may perhaps be in the rear-rank today, and tomorrow may be thrust forward by the force of events into the very front of the battle. This is the case at the present time with the subject of "Confession." Many years have passed away since men thought and talked so much as they do now about "the confession of sins." I desire in this paper to lay down a few plain scriptural principles about "confession of sin." The subject is one of primary importance. Let us beware, in the din of controversy and discussion, that we do not lose sight of the mind of Holy Scripture, and injure our own souls. There is a confession which is needful to salvation - and there is a confession which is not needful at all. There is a confessional to which all men and women ought to go - and there is a confessional which ought to be denounced, avoided, and abhorred. Let us endeavor to separate the wheat from the chaff, and the precious from the vile. 1. In the first place - Who are those who ought to confess sin? 2. In the second place - To whom ought confession of sin to be made? Once let a man have clear views on these two points, and he will never go wrong on the subject of confession. 1. In the first place - Who are those who ought to confess sins? I answer this question in one plain sentence. All men and women in the world! All are born in sin and are children of wrath. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Before God all are guilty. There is not a just man upon earth who does good and sins not. There is not a child of Adam that ought not to confess sin (Eph. 2:3; Rom. 3:23, 19; Eccl. 8:20). There is no exception to this rule. It does not apply only to murderers, and felons, and the inhabitants of prisons - it applies to all ranks, and classes, and orders of mankind. The highest are not too high to need confession - the lowest are not too low to be reached by God's requirement in this matter. Kings in their palaces and poor men in their cottages - preachers and hearers - teachers and scholars - landlords and tenants - masters and servants - all, all are alike summoned in the Bible to confession. None are so moral and respectable, that they need not confess that they have sinned. All are sinners in thought, word, and deed - and all are commanded to acknowledge their transgressions. Every knee ought to bow, and every tongue ought to confess to God. "Behold," says the Lord, "You say, 'I am innocent - He is not angry with me.' But I will pass judgment on you because you say, 'I have not sinned." (Jeremiah 2:35) "If we say that we have no sin - then we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." (1 John 1:8). Without confession, there is NO salvation. The love of God towards sinners is infinite. The readiness of Christ to receive sinners is unbounded. The blood of Christ can cleanse away all sin. But we must plead "guilty," before God can declare us innocent. We must acknowledge that we willingly surrender, before we can be pardoned and let go free. Sins that are known and not confessed, are sins that are not forgiven - they are yet upon us, and daily sinking us nearer to the bottomless pit. "He who covers his sins shall not prosper - but whoever confesses and forsakes them shall find mercy." (Prov. 28:13). Without confession, there is no inward peace. Conscience will never be at rest, so long as it feels the burden of unacknowledged transgression. It is a load of which man must get rid of if he means to be really happy. It is a worm at the root of all comfort. It is a blight on joy and mirth. The heart of a little child is not easy, when he stands in his parents' presence and knows that he has been doing something wrong. He is never easy until he has confessed. Just so, the heart of the grownup man is never really easy, until he has unburdened himself before God and obtained pardon and absolution. "When I kept silence," says David, "my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD: - and you forgave the guilt of my sin" (Psalm 32:3-5). There is no gainsaying these things. They stand out plainly on the face of Scripture as if they were written with a sunbeam! They are so clear that he who runs may read. Confession of sin is absolutely necessary to salvation - it is a habit which is an essential part of repentance unto life. Without it, there is no entrance into Heaven. Without it, we have no part or lot in Christ. Without it, we shall certainly go to the bottomless pit. All this is undoubtedly true. And yet in the face of all this, it is a melancholy and appalling fact that few people confess their sins! Some people have no thought or feeling about their sins - the subject is one which hardly crosses their minds. They rise in the morning and go to bed at night; they eat, and drink, and sleep, and work, and get money, and spend money - as if they had no souls at all. They live on as if this world was the only thing worth thinking of. They leave religion to ministers, and old men and women. Their consciences seem asleep, if not dead. Of course they never confess! Some people are too proud to acknowledge themselves sinners. Like the Pharisee of old, they flatter themselves they are "not as other men." They do not get drunk like some, or swear like others, or live profligate, lives like others. They are moral and respectable! They perform the duties of their station! They attend church regularly! They are kind to the poor! What more would you have? If they are not good people and going to heaven - then who can be saved? But a to habitual confession of sin,they do not see that they need it. It is all very well for wicked people - but not for them. Of course, when sin is not really felt - then sin will never be confessed! Some people are too indolent and slothful to take any step in religion so decided as confession. Their Christianity consists in meaning, and hoping, and intending, and resolving. They do not positively object to anything that they hear upon spiritual subjects. They can even approve of the Gospel. They hope one day to repent, and believe, and be converted, and become thorough Christians, and go to Heaven after death. But they never get beyond "hoping." They never come to the point of making a business of true religion. Of course they never confess sin. In one or other of these ways thousands of people on every side are ruining their souls. In one point they are all agreed. They may sometimes call themselves "sinners" in a vague, general way, and cry out, "I have sinned," like Pharaoh, and Balaam, and Achan, and Saul, and Judas Iscariot - but they have no real sense, or sight, or understanding of sin. Its guilt, and vileness, and wickedness, and consequences - are utterly hid from their eyes. And the result, in each case, is one and the same. They know nothing practically of confession of sins. Shall I say what seems to me the clearest proof that man is a fallen and corrupt creature? It is not open vice or unblushing profligacy. It is the wide-spread "spirit of slumber" about their souls, in which most men lie chained and bound. When I see that multitudes of sensible men, and intelligent men, and decent-living men, can travel quietly towards the grave, and feel no concern about their sins, I need no more convincing evidence that man is "born to sin", and that his heart is alienated from God. There is no avoiding the conclusion. ~J. C. Ryle~ (continued with # 2)
Katherine Sewell
Saving Faith # 3 No, beloved, the reason is this. Conscience tells every unconverted person, whether he like to confess it or not, that after death shall come the judgment; conscience tells him that all shall be judged according to their works- that he cannot abide this fiery trial, because he has sinner and not sought reconciliation, and he feels that he may one day have his part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone. Hence it is that he thinks death a most unpleasant subject, and with all his pride of life stands in cowardly fear of his last day; and hence you may understand how blessed these words would be to a sinner's ear, that "Whoever believes on Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." Observe now the contents of this promise; look narrowly into it, for it will stand a close examination. The believer shall not perish; this earthly tabernacle may indeed be dissolved, and laid in the grave and see corruption - but the true sting of that death is sin, and this his Saviour has taken on Him and put away. He shall not perish in the day of judgment; the second death can have no power over him, and then the words of our blessed Master shall be found a truth. "This is the will of Him that sent Me, that everyone which sees the Son, and believes on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:40). "I am the resurrection and the life: he who believes on Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die" (11:25, 26). And more than this: the believer shall have everlasting life. He shall be raised body and soul at our Lord's second coming. He shall have part in that first resurrection, which belongs only to the saints, and finally shall dwell forever in that blessed place where "there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain - for the former things are passed away" (Revelation 21:4). And now, beloved, judge for yourselves whether it be not true, that our text contains a treasury of precious and most consoling doctrines, and he who can hear it without feeling its value may indeed tremble for the safety of his immortal soul. Believer, let it be your care to carry home these comfortable words on which we have dwelt, and meditate upon them as your daily food throughout the week which is now before you. Let them be ever in your mind, and prepare you for that holy sacrament which Jesus has mercifully ordained; let them add strength to your faith and growth to your sanctification; let them increase your humility and your thankfulness, your zeal for God's glory, and your desire to show forth His praise, your love towards Christ and your love towards your brethren; for surely, dear friends, if God so loved us, it is a small matter if we love our fellow sinners. And you too, dear brethren, who have dared hitherto, like Gallio, to care for none of these things, you also are appealed to in this text. Learn then, now, if you have not learned it yet, that this single verse, if there were no other, would be sufficient to condemn you in the last day, because it leaves you without excuse for remaining in your sins. You have deserved nothing but wrath; and yet, behold, here is God willing to save, loving, giving, promising all things. Oh! remember how great must be your guilt if you reject so great salvation. You are the very world that God has so loved; for your sakes He gave His only begotten Son, and even now, at this minute, He is inviting you, by me, His minister, to accept the mercy which He freely offers, to be reconciled with Him who will one day be the judge of all (Isaiah 55:1, 2; 1:18; Acts 16:31). Come then, I entreat you, to your Father, in the name of Christ, for through Him we have boldness and access with confidence. Resist the attempts of the world, the flesh and the devil to detain you; resist even your best friend, if he would keep you back from God and tell you there will be a more convenient season than today. "As though God did beseech you by us; we beg you in Christ's stead, be reconciled to God. For He has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor. 5:20, 21). ~J. C. Ryle~ (The End)

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