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God is not bound to give an account of his actions to his creatures – Thomas Watson

February 28, 2012 Comments off

“God is not bound to give an account of his actions to his creatures. If none may say to a king, ‘What doest thou?’ Eccles 8:4, much less to God. It is sufficient, God is Lord paramount; he has a sovereign power over his creatures, therefore can do no injustice. ‘Has not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel to honour, and another to dishonour?’ Rom 9:21. God has liberty in his own breast, to save one, and not another; and his justice is not at all impeached or blemished. If two men owe you money, you may, without any injustice, remit the debt to one, and exact it of the other. If two malefactors ¹ be condemned to die, the king may pardon the one and not the other: he is not unjust if he lets one suffer, because he offended the law; nor if he save the other, because he will make use of his prerogative as he is king.

Though some are saved and others perish, yet there is no unrighteousness in God; because, whoever perishes, his destruction is of himself. ‘O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself.’ Hos 13:9. God offers grace, and the sinner refuses it. Is God bound to give grace? If a surgeon comes to heal a man’s wound, and he will not be healed, is the surgeon bound to heal him? ‘I have called, and ye refused.’ Prov 1:24. ‘Israel would none of me.’ Psa 81:11: God is not bound to force his mercies upon men. If they wilfully oppose the offer of grace, their sin is to be regarded as the cause of their perishing, and not God’s justice.”

Source: A body of divinity, by Thomas Watson

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The genius and character of the Antichrist – Arthur Pink

February 22, 2012 Comments off

For six thousand years Satan has had full opportunity afforded him to study fallen human nature to discover its weakest points and to learn how best to make men do his bidding. The Devil knows full well how to dazzle men by the attraction of power, and how to make them quail before its terrors. He knows how to gratify the craving for knowledge and how to satisfy the taste for refinement and culture, he can delight the ear with melodious music and the eye with entrancing beauty. If he could transport the Savior from the wilderness to a mountain, in a moment of time, and show Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, he is no novice in the art of presenting alluring objects before his victims today. He knows how to stimulate energy and direct inquiry, and how to appease the craving for the occult. He knows how to exalt men to dizzy heights of worldly greatness and fame, and how to control that greatness when attained, so that it may be employed against God and his people.

It is true that up to now Satan’s power has been restrained, and his activities have been checked and often counteracted by the Spirit of God. The brightest fires of the Devil’s kindling can burn but dimly whilever God sheds around them the power of heavenly light. They require the full darkness of night in order to shine in the full strength of their deceiving brightness; and that time is coming. The Word of God reveals the fact that a day is not far distant when Divine restraint will be removed; the light of God will be withdrawn; and then shall “darkness cover the earth and gross darkness the people” (Isa. 60:2). Not only will that which has hindered the full development of the Mystery of Iniquity be removed, but God will “send them strong delusion that they should believe the Lie” (2 Thess. 2:13), and Satan will take advantage of this; he will then make full use of all the knowledge which he has acquired during the last six thousand years.

Satan will become incarnate and appear on earth in human form. As we have shown in previous chapters, the Antichrist will not only be the Man of Sin, but also “the Son of Perdition,” the Seed of the Serpent. The Antichrist will be the Devil’s masterpiece. In him shall dwell all the fullness of the Devil bodily. He will be the culmination and consummation of Satan’s workings. The world is now talking of and looking for the Superman; and the Devil is soon to supply him. The Antichrist will be no ordinary person, but one possessed of extraordinary talents. He will be endowed with superhuman powers. With the one exception of the God-man he will be the most remarkable personage who has ever appeared upon the stage of human history. But to particularize:

I. He will be an intellectual genius.

He will be possessed of extraordinary intelligence. He will be the Devil’s imitation of that blessed One “in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). This Son of Perdition will surpass Solomon in wisdom. In Daniel 7:20 he is represented as “A horn that had eyes.” It is a double symbol. The “horn” prefigures strength; “eyes” speak of intelligence. Again, in Daniel 8:23 he is referred to as “A King of fierce countenance.” who shall “understand dark sentences.” That which baffles others shall be simple to him. The Hebrew word here translated “dark sentences” is the same as the one rendered “hard questions” in 1 Kings 10:1, where we read of the Queen of Sheba coming to Solomon with her “hard questions” in order to test his wisdom. It is also the word that is used in Samson’s riddle in Judges 14. It indicates that the Antichrist will be master of all the secrets of occult science. Ezekiel 28:3 declares of him “Beholding, thou art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from thee.” This will be one of his most alluring attractions. His master mind will captivate the educated world. His marvelous store of knowledge, his acquaintance with the secrets of nature, his superhuman powers of perception, will stamp him as an intellectual genius of the first magnitude.

II. He will be an oratorical genius.

In Daniel 7:20 we are told that he has “a mouth that spake very great things.” As a wizard of words he will surpass Demosthenes. Here also will the Devil imitate that One “who spake as never man spake.” The people were “astonished” at Christ’s doctrine (Matthew 7:28), and said “Whence hath this man this wisdom?” (Matthew 13:54). So will it be with this daring counterfeiter: he will have a mouth speaking very great things. He will have a perfect command and flow of language. His oratory will not only gain attention but command respect. Revelation 13:2 declares that his mouth is “as the mouth of a lion” which is a symbolic expression telling of the majesty and awe producing effects of his voice. The voice of the lion excels that of any other beast. So the Antichrist will out rival orators ancient and modern.

III. He will be a political genius.

He will emerge from obscurity, but by dint of his diplomatic skill he will win the admiration and compel the cooperation of the political world. In the early stages of his career he appears as “a little horn” (or power), but it is not long before he climbs the ladder of fame, and by means of brilliant statesmanship, ascends its topmost rung. Like the majority of politicians, he will not scruple to employ questionable methods; in fact it will be by diplomatic chicanery and intrigue that he will win his early successes. Daniel 11:21 tells us that at first they will not give to him the honor of the kingdom, but “he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.” Once he gains the ascendancy none will dare to challenge his authority. Kings will be his pawns and princes his playthings.

IV. He will be a commercial genius.

“And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand” (Dan. 8:25). Under his regime everything will be nationalized, and none will be able to buy or sell without his permission (Rev. 13:17). All commerce will be under his personal control, and this will be used for his own aggrandizement. The wealth of the world will be at his disposal. There are several scriptures which call attention to this. For example in Psalm 52:7 we read, “Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength; but trusted in the abundance of his riches; and strengthened himself in his substance.” Again, in Daniel 11:38 we are told, “But in his estate shall he honor the god of forces (Satan): and a god whom his fathers knew not shall be honor with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things.” Even plainer is Daniel 11:43, “But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt.” In the last verse of Daniel 11 mention is made of his “palace.” He will be wealthier than Croesus. Ezekiel. 28:4, 5 speaks of him thus, “With thy wisdom and with thine understanding thou hast gotten thee riches, and hast gotten gold and silver into thy treasures: By thy great wisdom and by thy traffic hast thou increased thy riches, and thine heart is lifted up because of thy riches.” Thus will he be able to wield the scepter of financial power and outdo Solomon in all his glory.

V. He will be a military genius.

He will be endowed with the most extraordinary powers, so that “he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practice, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people” (Dan. 8:24). Before his exploits the fame of Alexander and Napoleon will be forgotten. None will be able to stand before him. He will go “forth conquering and to conquer” (Rev. 6:2). He will sweep everything before him so that the world will exclaim, “Who is like unto the Beast? who is able to make war with him?” (Rev. 13:4). His military exploits will not be confined to a corner, but carried out on a vast scale. He is spoken of as the man who will “shake kingdoms” and “make the earth to tremble” (Isa. 14:16).

VI. He will be a governmental genius.

He will weld together opposing forces. He will unify conflicting agencies. Under the compelling power of his skill the world Powers will be united. The dream of a League of Nations will then be realized. The Orient and the Occident shall no longer be divided. A marvelous symbolic picture of this is given us in Revelation 13:1,2: “And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a Beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the Beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the Dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.” Here we find the forces of the Roman, the Grecian, the Medo-Persian, and the Babylonian empires coalesced. He will be the personal embodiment of the world’s political authority in its final form. So completely will the world be swayed by the hypnotic spell cast over it by the Beast that the ten kings of the Roman empire in its ultimate form shall “give their kingdoms unto him” (Rev. 17:17). He will be the last great Caesar.

VII. He will be a religious genius.

He will proclaim himself God, demanding that Divine honors should be rendered to him and sitting in the Temple shall show himself forth that he is God (2 Thess. 2:4). Such wonders will he perform, such prodigious marvels will he work, the very elect would be deceived by him did not God directly protect them. The Man of Sin will combine in himself all the varied genius of the human race, and what is more, he will be invested with all the wisdom and power of Satan. He will be a master of science, acquainted with all of nature’s forces, compelling her to give up for him her long held secrets. “In this master-piece of Satan,” says one, “will be concentrated intellectual greatness, sovereign power and human glory, combined with every species of iniquity, pride, tyranny, willfulness, deceit, and blasphemy, such as Antiochus Epiphanes, Mohammed, the whole line of popes, atheists, and deists of every age of the world have failed to unite in any individual person.”

“All the world wondered after the Beast” (Rev. 13:3). His final triumph shall be that, wounded by a sword, he shall live again (Rev. 13:3). He shall raise himself from the dead, and so wonder-struck will men be at this stupendous marvel they will readily pay him Divine homage, yea, so great will be his dazzling power over men, they will worship his very image (Rev. 13:14,15).

Having contemplated something of the genius of Satan’s prodigy, let us now consider his character. In doing so we shall view him in the light of the Character of the Lord Jesus. Christ is the Divine plumb-line and standard of measurement by which all character must be tested.

In our last chapter we pointed out how that the distinguishing title of the coming Super-man—the Antichrist—has a double significance, inasmuch as it points to him as the imitator of Christ and the opponent of Christ. Hence, in studying his character, we find a series of comparisons and a series of contrasts drawn between the false christ and the true Christ; and these we now propose to set before the reader.

Comparisons between Christ and the Antichrist.

Satan is the master-counterfeiter, and in nothing will this appear more conspicuously than in his next great move. He is now preparing the stage for his climactic production, which will issue in a blasphemous imitation of the Divine incarnation. When the Son of Perdition appears he will pose as the Christ of God, and so perfect will be his disguise, the very elect would be deceived, were it not that God will grant them special illumination. It is this disguise, this simulation of the true Christ which we shall now examine, pointing out the various parallelisms which Scripture furnishes:

  1. Christ was the subject of Old Testament prophecy: so also is the Antichrist; many are the predictions which describe this coming one, see especially Daniel 11:21-45.
  2. The Lord Jesus was typified by many Old Testament characters such as Abel, Joseph, Moses, David, etc. So also will the Antichrist be: such characters as Cain, Pharaoh, Absolom, Saul, etc., foreshadow the Man of Sin. We shall devote a separate chapter to this most fascinating and totally neglected branch of our subject.
  3. Christ was revealed only at God’s appointed time: such will also be the case with the Antichrist. Of the one we read, “But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son” (Gal. 4:4); of the other it is said, “And now we know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time” (2 Thess. 2:6).
  4. Christ was a Man, a real Man, “the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5); so also will the Antichrist be—”that Man of Sin” (2 Thess. 2:3). But Christ was more than a man; He was the God-Man; so also will the Antichrist be more than a man: the Super-man.
  5. Christ was, according to the flesh, a Jew (Rom. 1:3); so also will the Antichrist be—for proofs see chapter three, section one. Christ will make a covenant with Israel (Heb. 8:8); so also will the Antichrist (Dan. 9:27).
  6. Christ is our “Great High Priest;” so Antichrist will yet be Israel’s great high priest (Ezek. 21:26).
  7. Christ was and will be the King of the Jews (Matthew 2:1); so also will the Antichrist be (Dan. 11:36).
  8. Christ will be the King of kings (Rev. 17:14); so also will the Antichrist be (Rev. 17:12,13).
  9. Christ wrought miracles: of Him it is said “approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs” (Acts 2:22); so also will the Antichrist, concerning whom it is written, “whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders” (2 Thess. 2:9).
  10. Christ’s public ministry was limited to three years and a half; so also will the Antichrist’s final ministry be (Rev. 13:5).
  11. Christ is shown to us riding a “white horse” (Rev. 19:11); so also is the Antichrist (Rev. 6:2).
  12. Christ will return to the earth as Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6,7); so also will the Antichrist introduce an era of peace (Dan. 11:21); it is to this that 1 Thessalonians 5:3 directly refers.
  13. Christ is entitled “the Morning Star” (Rev. 22:16); so also is the Antichrist (Isa. 14:12).
  14. Christ is referred to as Him “which was, and is, and is to come” (Rev. 4:8); the Antichrist is referred to as him that “was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit” (Rev. 17:8).
  15. Christ died and rose again; so also will the Antichrist (Rev. 13:3).
  16. Christ will be the object of universal worship (Phil. 2:10); so also will the Antichrist (Rev. 13:4).
  17. The followers of the Lamb will be sealed in their foreheads (Rev. 7:3; 14:1); so also will the followers of the Beast (Rev. 13:16,17).
  18. Christ has been followed by the Holy Spirit who causes men to worship Him; so the Antichrist will be followed by the Anti-spirit—the False Prophet—who will cause men to worship the Beast (Rev. 13:12).

There is no need for us to make any comments on these striking correspondences: they speak for themselves. They show the incredible lengths to which God will permit Satan to go in mimicking the Lord Jesus. We turn now to consider:

Contrasts between Christ and the Antichrist.

I. In their respective Designations.

  1. One is called the Christ (Matthew 16:16); the other the Antichrist (1 John 4:3).
  2. One is called the Man of Sorrows (Isa. 53:3); the other the Man of Sin (2 Thess. 2:3).
  3. One is called the Son of God (John 1:34); the other the Son of Perdition (2 Thess. 2:3).
  4. One is called the Seed of woman (Gen. 3:15); the other the seed of the Serpent (Gen. 3:15).
  5. One is called the Lamb (Isa. 53:7); the other the Beast (Rev. 11:7).
  6. One is called the Holy One (Mark 1:24); the other the Wicked One (2 Thess. 2:8).
  7. One is called the Truth (John 14:6); the other the Lie (John 8:44).
  8. One is called the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6); the other the wicked, profane Prince (Ezek. 21:25).
  9. One is called the glorious Branch (Isa. 4:2); the other the abominable Branch (Isa. 14:19).
  10. One is called the Mighty Angel (Rev. 10:1); the other is called the Angel of the Bottomless Pit (Rev. 9:11).
  11. One is called the Good Shepherd (John 10:11); the other is called the Idol Shepherd (Zech. 11:17).
  12. One has for the number of His name (the gematria of “Jesus”) 888; the other has for the number of his name 666 (Rev. 13:18).

II. In their respective Careers.

  1. Christ came down from heaven (John 3:13); Antichrist comes up out of the bottomless pit (Rev. 11:7).
  2. Christ came in Another’s Name (John 5:43); Antichrist will come in his own name (John 5:43).
  3. Christ came to do the Father’s will (John 6:38); Antichrist will do his own will (Dan. 11:36).
  4. Christ was energized by the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:14); Antichrist will be energized by Satan (Rev. 13:4).
  5. Christ submitted Himself to God (John 5:30); Antichrist defies God (2 Thess. 2:4).
  6. Christ humbled Himself (Phil. 2:8); Antichrist exalts himself (Dan. 11:37).
  7. Christ honored the God of His fathers (Luke 4:16); Antichrist refuses to (Dan. 11:37).
  8. Christ cleansed the temple (John 2:14,16); the Antichrist defiles the temple (Matthew 24:15).
  9. Christ ministered to the needy (Isa. 53:7); Antichrist robs the poor (Ps. 10:8,9).
  10. Christ was rejected of men (Isa. 53:7); Antichrist will be accepted by men (Rev. 13:4).
  11. Christ leadeth the flock (John 10:3); Antichrist leaveth the flock (Zech. 11:17).
  12. Christ was slain for the people (John 11:51); Antichrist slays the people (Isa. 14:20).
  13. Christ glorified God on earth (John 17:4), Antichrist blasphemes the name of God in heaven (Rev. 13:6).
  14. Christ was received up into heaven (Luke 24:51); Antichrist goes down into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 19:20).

Source: The Antichrist by Arthur Pink, Chapter 4

Duties and discouragements – Richard Sibbes

February 17, 2012 Comments off

[It will not be difficult] to resolve that question which some require help in, namely, whether we ought to perform duties when our hearts are altogether averse to them. To be satisfied on this point, we must take account of certain things.

WE SHOULD PERSIST IN DUTIES

Our hearts of themselves are reluctant to give up their liberty, and are only with difficulty brought under the yoke of duty. The more spiritual the duty is, the more reluctance there is. Corruption gains ground, for the most part, in every neglect. It is as in rowing against the tide, one stroke neglected will not be gained in three; and therefore it is good to keep our hearts close to duty, and not to listen to the excuses they are ready to frame.

As we set about duty, God strengthens the influence that he has in us. We find a warmness of heart and increase of strength, the Spirit going along with us and raising us up by degrees, until he leaves us as it were in heaven. God often delights to take advantage of our averseness, that he may manifest his work the more clearly, and that all the glory of the work may be his, as all the strength is his.

Obedience is most direct when there is nothing else to sweeten the action. Although the sacrifice is imperfect, yet the obedience with which it is offered is accepted.

What is won as a spoil from our corruptions will have as great a degree of comfort afterwards as it has of obstruction for the present. Feeling and freeness of spirit are often reserved until duty is discharged. Reward follows work. In and after duty we find that experience of God’s presence which, without obedience, we may long wait for, and yet go without. This does not hinder the Spirit’s freedom in blowing upon our souls when he pleases (John 3:8), for we speak only of such a state of soul as is becalmed and must row, as it were, against the stream. As in sailing the hand must be to the helm and the eye to the star, so here we must put forth that little strength we have to duty and look up for assistance, which the Spirit, as freely as seasonably, will afford.

Yet in these duties that require the body as well as the soul there may be a cessation till strength is restored. Whetting a tool does not hinder, but prepares. In sudden passions, also, there should be a time to compose and calm the soul, and to put the strings in tune. The prophet asked for a minstrel to bring his soul into frame (2 Kings 3:15).

OVERCOMING DISCOURAGEMENTS

Suffering brings discouragements, because of our impatience. “Alas!,” we lament, “I shall never get through such a trial” But if God brings us into the trial he will be with us in the trial, and at length bring us out, more refined. We shall lose nothing but dross (Zech. 13:9). From our own strength we cannot bear the least trouble, but by the Spirit’s assistance we can bear the greatest. The Spirit will add his shoulders to help us to bear our infirmities.  The Lord will give his hand to heave us up (Ps. 37:24). “Ye have heard of the patience of Job,” says James (Jam. 5: 11). We have heard of his impatience too, but it pleased God mercifully to overlook that. It yields us comfort also in desolate conditions, such as contagious sicknesses and the like, in which we are more immediately under God’s hand, that then Christ has a throne of mercy at our bedside and numbers our tears and our groans. And, to come to the matter we are now about, the Sacrament (A marginal note in early editions reads, “This was preached at the Sacrament”), it was ordained not for angels, but for men; and not for perfect men, but for weak men; and not for Christ, who is truth itself, to bind him, but because we are ready, by reason of our guilty and unbelieving hearts, to call truth itself into question.

Therefore it was not enough for his goodness to leave us many precious promises, but he gives us confirming tokens to strengthen us. And even if we are not so prepared as we should be, yet let us pray as Hezekiah did: “The good LORD pardon everyone that prepareth his heart to seek God, the LORD God of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary” (2 Chron. 30:18, 19). Then we come comfortably to this holy sacrament, and with much fruit. This should carry us through all duties with much cheerfulness, that, if we hate our corruptions and strive against them, they shall not be counted ours. “It is no more I that do it,” says Paul, “but sin that dwelleth in me” (Rom. 7:17). For what displeases us shall never hurt us, and we shall be esteemed by God to be what we love and desire and labor to be. What we desire to be we shall be, and what we desire truly to conquer we shall conquer, for God will fulfill the desire of them that fear him (Ps. 145:19). The desire is an earnest of the thing desired. How little encouragement will carry us to the affairs of this life! And yet all the helps God offers will hardly prevail with our backward natures.

THE SOURCE OF DISCOURAGEMENTS

Where, then, do these discouragements come from?

Not from the Father, for he has bound himself in covenant to pity us as a father pities his children (Ps. 103: 13) and to accept as a father our weak endeavors. And what is wanting in the strength of duty, he gives us leave to take up in his gracious indulgence. In this way we shall honor that grace in which he delights as much as in more perfect performances. Possibilitas tua mensura tua (What is possible to you is what you will be measured by).

Not from Christ, for he by office will not quench the smoking flax. We see how Christ bestows the best fruits of his love on persons who are mean in condition, weak in abilities, and offensive for infirmities, nay, for grosser falls. And this he does, first, because thus it pleases him to confound the pride of the flesh, which usually measures God’s love by some outward excellency; and secondly, in this way he delights to show the freedom of his grace and confirm his royal prerogative that “he that glorieth” must “glory in the Lord” (1 Cor. 1:31).

In the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, among that cloud of witnesses, we see Rahab, Gideon and Samson ranked with Abraham, the father of the faithful (Heb. 11:31-32). Our blessed Savior, as he was the image of his Father, so in this he was of the same mind, glorifying his Father for revealing the mystery of the gospel to simple men, neglecting those that carried the chief reputation of wisdom in the world (Matt. 11:25-26).

It is not unworthy of being recorded, what Augustine speaks of a simple man in his time, destitute almost altogether of the use of reason, who, although he was most patient of all injuries done to himself, yet from a reverence of religion he would not endure any injury done to the name of Christ, so much so that he would cast stones at those that blasphemed, not even sparing his own governors. This shows that none have abilities so meagre as to be beneath the gracious regard of Christ. Where it pleases him to make his choice and to exalt his mercy he passes by no degree of understanding, though never so simple.

Neither do discouragements come from the Spirit. He helps our infirmities, and by office is a comforter (Rom. 8:26; John 14: 16). If he convinces of sin, and so humbles us, it is that he may make way for his office of comforting us.  Discouragements, then, must come from ourselves and from Satan, who labors to fasten on us a loathing of duty.

SOME SCRUPLES REMOVED

Among other causes of discouragement, some are much vexed with scruples, even against the best duties; partly by disease of body, helped by Satan’s malice in casting dust in their eyes in their way to heaven; and partly from some remainder of ignorance, which, like darkness, breeds fears—ignorance especially of this merciful disposition in Christ, the persuasion of which would easily banish false fears. They conceive of him as one on watch for all advantages against them, in which they may see how they wrong not only themselves but his goodness. This scrupulosity, for the most part, is a sign of a godly soul, as some weeds are of a good soil. Therefore they are the more to be pitied, for it is a heavy affliction, and the ground of it in most is not so much from trouble of conscience as from a disordered imagination. The end of Christ’s coming was to free us from all such groundless fears. There is still in some such ignorance of that comfortable condition we are in under the covenant of grace as to discourage them greatly. Therefore we must understand that:

Weaknesses do not break covenant with God. They do not break the covenant between husband and wife, and shall we make ourselves more pitiful than Christ who makes himself a pattern of love to all other husbands?

Weaknesses do not debar us from mercy; rather they incline God to us the more (Ps. 78:39). Mercy is a part of the church’s marriage inheritance. Christ betroths her to him “in mercy,” (Hosea 2:19). The husband is bound to bear with the wife, as being the “weaker vessel,” (1 Pet. 3:7), and shall we think Christ will exempt himself from his own rule, and not bear with his weak spouse?

If Christ should not be merciful co our weaknesses, he should not have a people to serve him. Suppose therefore we are very weak, yet so long as we are not found amongst malicious opposers and underminers of God’s truth, let us not give way to despairing thoughts; we have a merciful Savior.

But lest we flatter ourselves without good grounds, we must know that weaknesses are to be reckoned either imperfections cleaving to our best actions, or actions proceeding from immaturity in Christ, whilst we are babes, or the effects of want of strength, where ability is small, or sudden unintended breakings out, contrary to our general bent and purpose, whilst our judgment is overcast with the cloud of a sudden temptation, after which we feel our infirmity, grieve for it and from grief, complain, and, with complaining, strive and labor to reform; finally, in laboring, we make some progress against our corruption.

Weaknesses so considered, although a matter of humiliation and the object of our daily mortification, yet may be consistent with boldness with God, nor is a good work either extinguished by them or tainted so far as to lose all acceptance with God. But to plead for an infirmity is more than an infirmity; to allow ourselves in weaknesses is more than a weakness. The justification of evil shuts our mouths, so that the soul cannot call God Father with childlike liberty, or enjoy sweet communion with him, until peace be made by shaming ourselves, and renewing our faith. Those that have ever been bruised for sin, if they fall, are soon recovered. Peter was recovered with a gracious look of Christ, David by Abigail’s words. If you tell a thief or a vagrant that he is out of the way, he pays no heed, because his aim is not to walk in any particular way, except as it suits his purpose.

WHAT ARE SINS OF INFIRMITY?

To clarify this further, we must understand that:

Wherever sins of infirmity are in a person, there must be the life of grace begun. There can be no weakness where there is no life.

There must be a sincere and general bent to the best things. Though a godly man may suddenly be drawn or driven aside in some particulars, yet, by reason of that interest the Spirit of Christ has in him, and because his aims are right in the main, he will either recover of himself, or yield to the counsel of others.

There must be a right judgment, allowing of the best ways, or else the heart is rotten. Then it will infuse corruption into the whole conversation, so that all men’s actions become infected at the spring-head. They then justify looseness and condemn God’s ways as too much strictness. Their principles whereby they work are not good.

There must be a conjugal love to Christ, so that there are no terms on which they will change their Lord and husband, and yield themselves absolutely over to be ruled by their own lusts, or the lusts of others.

A Christian’s behavior towards Christ may in many things be very offensive, and cause some strangeness; yet he will own Christ, and Christ him; he will not resolve upon any way wherein he knows he must break with Christ.

Where the heart is thus in these respects qualified, there we must know this, that Christ counts it his honor to pass by many infirmities, nay, in infirmities he perfects his strength. There are some almost invincible infirmities, such as forgetfulness, heaviness of spirit, sudden passions and fears which, though natural, yet are for the most part tainted with sin. Of these, if the life of Christ be in us, we are weary, and would fain shake them off, as a sick man his fever; otherwise it is not to be esteemed weakness so much as willfulness, and the more will, the more sin. And little sins, when God shall awaken the conscience and ‘set them in order” before us (Ps. 50:21) will prove great burdens, and not only bruise a reed, but shake a cedar. Yet God’s children never sin with full will, because there is a contrary law in their minds by which the dominion of sin is broken and which always has some secret working against the law of sin. Nevertheless there may be so much will in a sinful action as may destroy our comfort to a remarkable degree afterwards and keep us long on the rack of a disquieted conscience, God in his fatherly dispensation suspending the sense of his love. To the extent that we give way to our will in sinning, to that extent we set ourselves at a distance from comfort. Sin against conscience is as a thief (A flaw in a candlewick which causes guttering) in the candle, which spoils our joy, and thereby weakens our strength. We must know, therefore, that willful breaches in sanctification will much hinder the sense of our justification.

What course shall such take to recover their peace? They must condemn themselves sharply, and yet cast themselves upon God’s mercy in Christ, as at their first conversion. And now they must embrace Christ the more firmly, as they see more need in themselves; and let them remember the mildness of Christ here, that he will not quench the smoking flax. Often we see that, after a deep humiliation, Christ speaks more peace than before, to witness the truth of this reconciliation, because he knows Satan’s enterprises in casting such down lower, because they are most abased in themselves and are ashamed to look Christ in the face, because of their ingratitude.

We see that God did not only pardon David but, after much bruising, gave him wise Solomon to succeed him in the kingdom. We see in Song of Solomon 6:4 that, after the church has been humbled for her slighting of Christ, he sweetly entertains her again, and begins to commend her beauty. We must know for our comfort that Christ was not anointed to this great work of Mediator for lesser sins only, but for the greatest, if we have but a spark of true faith to lay hold on him. Therefore, if there be any bruised reed, let him not make an exception of himself, when Christ does not make an exception of him. “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden,” (Matthew 11:28). Why should we not make use of so gracious a disposition? We are only poor for this reason, that we do not know our riches in Christ. In time of temptation, believe Christ rather than the devil. Believe truth from truth itself. Hearken not to a liar, an enemy and a murderer.

Source

Living Well To God in Our Callings – William Perkins

February 16, 2012 Comments off

William Perkins, How to Live Well, and That Well: In All Estates and Times. Specially When Helps and Comforts Fail. (some modernized spelling):

In the labour and work of our calling, there is required a double action of faith. The first is, to order our labours, that they be done in a good manner, that is, in obedience and to good ends, that is, to God’s glory, and to the good of men, with whom we live. In this respect is Noah said to build an Ark by faith [Heb. 11.7], and good Princes to order their commonwealths, and in way of protection to make war with their enemies: and thus must every man of every office, calling, trade, occuption, do his duty by faith. The second action of faith is in our daily labours to restrain and moderate our care. Men commonly take upon them a double care: one is to do the works and labours of their callings; the other is to procure a blessing and good success to their aforesaid labours. But faith in God’s word where it reigns, it stirs up the hearts of men only to the first care, which is in the performance of their painful labours and duties, and it restrains them from the second, causing them to leave it to God. For when men have done the duty that appertains unto them, then faith makes them without any more ado, to wait for a blessing on God. To this purpose the holy Ghost says, Psal. 55.22. Cast thy burden on the Lord, and he shall nourish thee. Again, Be nothing careful, but in all things let your requests be showed unto God, in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving; [Phil. 4] and, Cast your care on God. [1 Pet. 5] Now this faith, whereby we depend on God for the success of our labours; hath an infallible ground, namely, that God best knows our wants, and he will give unto us all things which he in his wisdom knows to be necessary. Christ says, Mat. 6.31. Your heavenly Father knows that you have need of these things, that is, food and raiment. Again, He cares for you: [1 Pet. 4] and, Nothing shall be wanting unto them that fear God. [Psal. 34] If men would by faith build on these promises, they should not need like drudges of the world to toil and spend themselves, and the best part of their days in worldly cares, as they do: for they should have a greater blessing of God with less care, if they would trust him: and they should have far more time then they have, to care for heaven and heavenly.

Categories: Work Tags: ,

Choosing a Fit Calling – William Perkins

February 16, 2012 Comments off

Every man must choose a fit calling to walk in; that is, every calling must be fitted to the man, and every man must be fitted to his calling. This rule is as necessary as the former, for when men are out of their proper callings in any society, it is as much as if a joint were out of place in the body. Now in the choice of callings, two sorts of men must be considered, men of years, and children. Men of years make choice of fit callings for themselves when they try, judge, and examine themselves to what things they are apt and fit, and to what things they are not. And every man must examine himself of two things: first, touching his affection, secondly, touching his gifts. For his affection, he must search what mind he has to any calling, and in what calling he desires most of all to glorify God. For his gifts he must examine for and to what calling they are fittest. Having thus tried both his affection and gifts, finding also the calling to which they tend with one consent, he may say, that is his calling: because he likes it best, and is every way fittest to it. As, for example, one brought up in the schools of learning desires to know what ought to be his calling; well, he examines his affections or desire, and finds it most of all inclined to the ministry of the Gospel; he examines his gifts also, and finds both knowledge and utterance fit for the same. Now such a one may safely say that the ministry is a calling to which he is set apart. And the like may any other man in any other calling say for himself. Yet, because many men are partial in judging their inclinations and gifts, the best way for them is to use the advice and help of others that are able to give direction herein, and to discern better than themselves.

From: A treatise of the vocations, by William Perkins

Categories: Vocation Tags: ,

What does it mean to hunger and thirst for righteousness? — A.W. Pink

February 10, 2012 Comments off

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” — Matthew 5:6

In Romans 1:16, 17a, Paul says, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith.” In Romans 3:22-24 we read, “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” In Romans 5:19, this blessed declaration is made: “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made [legally constituted] sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made [legally constituted] righteous.” In Romans 10:4, we learn that “Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”

The sinner is destitute of righteousness, for “there is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10). God has, therefore, provided in Christ a perfect righteousness for each and all of His people. This righteousness, this satisfying of all the demands of God’s holy Law against us, was worked out by our Substitute and Surety. This righteousness is now imputed to (that is, legally credited to the account of) the believing sinner. Just as the sins of God’s people were all transferred to Christ, so His righteousness is placed upon them (2 Cor. 5:21). These few words are but a brief summary of the teaching of Scripture on this vital and blessed subject of the perfect righteousness that God requires of us and that is ours by faith in the Lord Christ.

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness.” Hungering and thirsting expresses vehement desire, of which the soul is acutely conscious. First, the Holy Spirit brings before the heart the holy requirements of God. He reveals to us His perfect standard, which He can never lower. He reminds us that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the Kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). Second, the trembling soul, conscious of his own abject poverty and realizing his utter inability to measure up to God’s requirements, sees no help in himself. This painful discovery causes him to mourn and groan. Have you done so? Third, the Holy Spirit then creates in the heart a deep “hunger and thirst” that causes the convicted sinner to look for relief and to seek a supply outside of himself. The believing eye is then directed to Christ, who is “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Jer. 23:6).

Like the previous ones, this fourth Beatitude describes a twofold experience. It obviously refers to the initial hungering and thirsting that occurs before a sinner turns to Christ by faith. But it also refers to the continual longing that is perpetuated in the heart of every saved sinner until his dying day. Repeated exercises of this grace are felt at varying intervals. The one who longed to be saved by Christ, now yearns to be made like Him. Looked at in its widest aspect, this hungering and thirsting refers to a panting of the renewed heart after God (Ps. 42:1), a yearning for a closer walk with Him, and a longing for more perfect conformity to the image of His Son. It tells of those aspirations of the new nature for Divine blessing that alone can strengthen, sustain, and satisfy.

Our text presents such a paradox that it is evident that no carnal mind ever invented it. Can one who has been brought into vital union with Him who is the Bread of Life and in whom all fullness dwells be found still hungering and thirsting? Yes, such is the experience of the renewed heart. Mark carefully the tense of the verb: it is not “Blessed are they which have hungered and thirsted,” but “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst.” Do you, dear reader? Or are you content with your attainments and satisfied with your condition? Hungering and thirsting after righteousness has always been the experience of God’s true saints (Phil. 3:8-14).

“They shall be filled.” Like the first part of our text, this also has a double fulfillment, both initial and continuous. When God creates a hunger and a thirst in the soul, it is so that He may satisfy them. When the poor sinner is made to feel his need for Christ, it is to the end that he may be drawn to Christ and led to embrace Him as his only righteousness before a holy God. He is delighted to confess Christ as his new-found righteousness and to glory in Him alone (1 Cor. 1:30, 31). Such a one, whom God now calls a “saint” (1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 1:1; Eph. 1:1; Phil. 1:1), is to experience an ongoing filling: not with wine, wherein is excess, but with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18). He is to be filled with the peace of God that passeth all understanding (Phil. 4:7). We who are trusting in the righteousness of Christ shall one day be filled with Divine blessing without any admixture of sorrow; we shall be filled with praise and thanksgiving to Him who wrought every work of love and obedience in us (Phil. 2:12-13) as the visible fruit of His saving work in and for us. In this world, “He hath filled the hungry with good things” (Luke 1:53) such as this world can neither give to nor withhold from those who “seek the Lord (Ps. 34:10). He bestows such goodness and mercy upon us, who are the sheep of His pasture, that our cups run over (Ps. 23:5-6). Yet all that we presently enjoy is but a mere foretaste of all that our “God hath prepared for them that love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9). In the eternal state, we will be filled with perfect holiness, for “we shall be like Him” (1 John 3:2). Then we shall be done with sin forever. Then we shall “hunger no more, neither thirst any more.

– A.W. Pink (1886-1952)

Source: The Beatitudes, by AW Pink