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Our lot is cast in an age of abounding unbelief, scepticism and, I fear I must add, infidelity. Never, perhaps, since the days of Celsus, Porphyry and Julian, was the truth of revealed religion so openly and unblushingly assailed, and never was the assault so speciously and plausibly conducted. The words which Bishop Butler wrote in 1736 are curiously applicable to our own days: ‘It is come to be taken for granted by many persons, that Christianity is not even a subject of inquiry, but that it is now at length discovered to be fictitious. And accordingly they treat it as if, in the present age, this was an agreed point among all people of discernment, and nothing remained but to set it up as a principal subject of mirth and ridicule, as it were by way of reprisals for its having so long interrupted the pleasures of the world.’ I often wonder what the good bishop would have now said, if he had lived in 1879.

JC Ryle

What a thing is sin!

What a thing is sin, what a devil and master of devils is it, that it should, where it takes hold, so hang that nothing can unclinch its hold but the mercy of God and the heart-blood of his dear Son! O the fretting, eating, infecting, defiling, and poisonous nature of sin, that it should so eat into our flesh and spirit, body and soul, and stain us with its vile and stinking nature: yea, it has almost turned man into the nature of itself… wherefore sin is a fearful thing, a thing to be lamented, a thing to be abhorred, a thing to be fled from with more astonishment and trembling than one would fly from any devil, because it is the worst of things… and because where it takes hold it so fasteneth that nothing, as I have said, can release whom it has made a captive, but the mercy of God and the heart-blood of his dear Son. O what a thing sin is!
-John Bunyan

many thanks to Dr. Ivan Fiske for the gift this evening of Bunyan’s works, from which this is taken. jr

As Little a While as Possible!

He arose as it began to dawn toward that day; as soon as it could be said that the third day was come, the time prefixed for his resurrection, he arose; after his withdrawings from his people, he returns with all convenient speed, and cuts the work as short in righteousness as may be. He had said to his disciples, that though within a little while they should not see him, yet again a little while, and they should see him, and accordingly he made it as little a while as possible.
– Matthew Henry

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
– John, echoed by the Saints of all the ages

Of all the things that will surprise us in the resurrection morning, this I believe will surprise us most, that we did not love Christ more before we died.

-JC Ryle

A Somber Exhortation from Bishop Ryle

When we have carried you to your narrow bed, let us not have to hunt up stray words and scraps of religion, in order to make out that you were a true believer. Let us not have to say in a hesitating way one to another, ‘I trust he is happy; he talked so nicely one day, and he seemed so pleased with a chapter in the Bible on another occasion, and he liked such a person, who is a good man.’ Let us be able to speak decidedly as to your condition. Let us have some solid proof of your repentance, your faith and your holiness, so that none shall be able for a moment to question your state. Depend on it, without this, those you leave behind can feel no solid comfort about your soul. We may use the form of religion at your burial, and express charitable hopes. We may meet you at the churchyard gate, and say, ‘Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord.’ But this will not alter your condition! If you die without conversion, without repentance, and without faith, your funeral will only be the funeral of a lost soul, you had better never have been born.

-JC Ryle, Holiness

Ambrose on the Tamed Tongue

Let there be a door to your mouth, that it may be shut when need arises, and let it be carefully barred, that none may rouse your voice to anger, and thou pay back abuse with abuse… Therefore although we are angry (this arising from the motions of our nature, not of our will), let us not utter with our mouth one evil word, lest we fall into sin; but let there be a yoke and a balance to your words, that is, humility and moderation, that your tongue may be subject to your mind. Let it be held in check with a tight rein; let it have its own means of restraint, whereby it can be recalled to moderation; let it utter words tried by the scales of justice, that there may be seriousness in our meaning, weight in our speech, and due measure in our words. – Ambrose

ed. note: Thanks to Phil Lang, lover of patristic literature, for graciously giving me Ambrose’s “On the Duties of the Clergy,” from which this quotation is taken.

Truly, if religion languish in the closet, it will quickly die in the family.

-John Flavel Works VI p128 

Sometimes it’s time to shut up.

Talking is not the problem. The problem is when incessant talking becomes a cover for indecision or even cowardice…It’s death by dialogue. The conversation never stops after affirming the historic position. There will always be another paper, another symposium, and another round of conversation. The moratorium on making pronouncements will only be lifted once the revisionist [or progressive or liberal] position has won out. Every doctrine central to the Christian faith and precious to you as a Christian has been hotly debated and disputed. If the “conversation” about the resurrection or the Trinity or the two natures of Christ continued as long as smart people on both sides disagreed, we would have lost orthodoxy long ago.

Kevin DeYoung, “What the Bible says about Homosexuality,” pg. 76

ed. note: For various reasons, generally we only quote from brothers whose presence on this earth is now a slab of etched granite and some yellowing pages. But this seemed especially poignant and useful (notice how I avoid the term “relevant” with great determination, if not skill), so I offer it here as food for thought.

O, if he would punish me for my sins, it would not wound my heart so deep to offend him;

But though I sin continually, he continually repeats his kindness to me.

At times I feel I could bear any suffering, but how can I dishonour this glorious God?

…Oh that I could give myself up to him, so as never more attempt to be my own! or have any will or affections that are not perfectly conformed to his will and his love!

But alas, I cannot live and not sin

– Valley of Vision

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