“I have determined, the Almighty God being my help and shield, yet to suffer, if frail life might continue so long, even till the moss shall grow on mine eyebrows, rather than thus to violate my faith and principles.”
“O how excellent are the Scriptures to thy soul! O how much virtue dost thou see in such a promise, in such an invitation!
They are so large as to say, Christ will in no wise cast me out! (John 6:37) My crimson sins shall be white as snow!
I tell thee, friend, there are some promises that the Lord hath helped me to lay hold of Jesus Christ through and by, that I would not have out of the Bible for as much gold and silver as can lie between York and London piled up to the stars; because through them Christ is pleased by his Spirit to convey comfort to my soul.
I say, when the law curses, when the devil tempts, when hell-fire flames in my conscience, my sins with the guilt of them tearing of me, then is Christ revealed so sweetly to my poor soul through the promises that all is forced to fly and leave off to accuse my soul.
So also, when the world frowns, when the enemies rage and threaten to kill me, then also the precious, the exceeding great and precious promises do weigh down all, and comfort the soul against all.
This is the effect of believing the Scriptures savingly; for they that do so have by and through the Scriptures good comfort, and also ground of hope, believing those things to be its own which the Scriptures hold forth (Rom 15:4).”
“Let me here give thee, Christian reader, a more particular description of the qualities of unbelief, by opposing faith unto it, in these twenty-five particulars:—
1. Faith believeth the Word of God; but unbelief questioneth the certainty of the same (Ps. 106:24).
2. Faith believeth the Word, because it is true; but unbelief doubteth thereof, because it is true (1 Tim 4:3; John 8:45).
3. Faith sees more in a promise of God to help, than in all other things to hinder; but unbelief, notwithstanding God’s promise, saith, How can these things be? (Rom 4:19–21; 2 Kings 7:2; John 3:11, 12).
4. Faith will make thee see love in the heart of Christ, when with his mouth he giveth reproofs; but unbelief will imagine wrath in his heart, when with his mouth and Word he saith he loves us (Matt 15:22, 28; Num 13; 2 Chron 14:3).
5. Faith will help the soul to wait, though God defers to give; but unbelief will take huff and throw up all, if God makes any tarrying (Psa 25:5; Isa 8:17; 2 Kings 6:33; Psa 106:13, 14).
6. Faith will give comfort in the midst of fears; but unbelief causeth fears in the midst of comfort (2 Chron 20:20, 21; Matt 8:26; Luke 24:26; 27).
7. Faith will suck sweetness out of God’s rod; but unbelief can find no comfort in his greatest mercies (Psa 23:4; Num 21).
8. Faith maketh great burdens light; but unbelief maketh light ones intolerably heavy (2 Cor 4:1; 14–18; Mal 1:12, 13).
9. Faith helpeth us when we are down; but unbelief throws us down when we are up (Micah 7:8–10; Heb 4:11).
10. Faith bringeth us near to God when we are far from him; but unbelief puts us far from God when we are near to him (Heb 10:22; 3:12, 13).
11. Where faith reigns, it declareth men to be the friends of God; but where unbelief reigns, it declareth them to be his enemies (John 3:23; Heb 3:18; Rev 21:8).
12. Faith putteth a man under grace; but unbelief holdeth him under wrath (Rom 3:24–26; 14:6; Eph 2:8; John 3:36; 1 John 5:10; Heb 3:17; Mark 16:16).
13. Faith purifieth the heart; but unbelief keepeth it polluted and impure (Acts 15:9; Titus 1:15, 16).
14. By faith, the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us; but by unbelief, we are shut up under the law to perish (Rom 4:23, 24; 11:32; Gal 3:23).
15. Faith maketh our work acceptable to God through Christ; but whatsoever is of unbelief is sin. For without faith it is impossible to please him (Heb 11:4; Rom 14:23; Heb 6:6).
16. Faith giveth us peace and comfort in our souls; but unbelief worketh trouble and tossings, like the restless waves of the sea (Rom 5:1; James 1:6).
17. Faith maketh us to see preciousness in Christ; but unbelief sees no form, beauty, or comeliness in him (1 Peter 2:7; Isa 53:2, 3).
18. By faith we have our life in Christ’s fullness; but by unbelief we starve and pine away (Gal 2:20).
19. Faith gives us the victory over the law, sin, death, the devil, and all evils; but unbelief layeth us obnoxious to them all (1 John 5:4, 5; Luke 12:46).
20. Faith will show us more excellency in things not seen, than in them that are; but unbelief sees more in things that are seen, than in things that will be hereafter;. (2 Cor 4:18; Heb 11:24–27; 1 Cor 15:32).
21. Faith makes the ways of God pleasant and admirable; but unbelief makes them heavy and hard (Gal 5:6; 1 Cor 12:10, 11; John 6:60; Psa 2:3).
22. By faith Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob possessed the land of promise; but because of unbelief, neither Aaron, nor Moses, nor Miriam could get thither (Heb 11:9; 3:19).
23. By faith the children of Israel passed through the Red Sea; but by unbelief the generality of them perished in the wilderness (Heb 11:29; Jude 5).
24. By faith Gideon did more with three hundred men, and a few empty pitchers, than all the twelve tribes could do, because they believed not God (Judg 7:16–22; Num 14:11, 14).
25. By faith Peter walked on the water; but by unbelief he began to sink (Matt 14:28–30).
Thus might many more be added, which, for brevity’s sake, I omit; beseeching every one that thinketh he hath a soul to save, or be damned, to take heed of unbelief; lest, seeing there is a promise left us of entering into his rest, any of us by unbelief should indeed come short of it.”
“By way of chronology, Unink’s death occurred within weeks of Arie den Dekker’s most recent (wordless) rejection of Bavinck’s suitorship for his daughter.
These were lonely and difficult days for Bavinck: at twenty-nine years old he lived with his parents, saw no immediate prospect of marriage, and, following Unink’s untimely death, had few friends close at hand.
These circumstances set the scene for a comment made in a subsequent letter to the dying Johan van Haselen that typifies the phase into which his life was moving: ‘My books are my true company.’
Barred from pursuing Amelia, bereft of Unink, and with the likes of Snouck Hurgronje and Henry Dosker only accessible by letter, Bavinck surrounded himself with new conversation partners.
In the prime of life, his closest companions became a group of long-dead theologians.”
–James Eglinton, Bavinck: A Critical Biography (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2020), 142-143.
–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Marah Better than Elim,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. 39 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1893), 39: 151.
In the meanwhile, I advise you to take a lodging as near as you can to Gethsemane, and to walk daily to mount Golgotha, and borrow (which may be had for asking) that telescope which gives a prospect into the unseen world.
A view of what is passing within the vail has a marvelous effect to compose our spirits, with regard to the little things that are daily passing here.
Praise the Lord, who has enabled you to fix your supreme affection upon Him who is alone the proper and suitable object of it, and from whom you cannot meet a denial or fear a change. He loved you first, and He will love you forever.
And if He be pleased to arise and smile upon you, you are in no more necessity of begging for happiness to the prettiest creature upon earth, than of the light of a candle on mid-summer noon.
Upon the whole, I pray and hope the Lord will sweeten your cross, and either in kind or in kindness make you good amends.
Wait, pray, and believe, and all shall be well. A cross we must have somewhere; and they who are favoured with health, plenty, peace, and a conscience sprinkled with the blood of Jesus, must have more causes for thankfulness than grief.
Look round you, and take notice of the very severe afflictions which many of the Lord’s own people are groaning under, and your trials will appear comparatively light.
Our love to all friends,
–John Newton, The Works of John Newton, Vol. 2, Ed. Richard Cecil (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 127–129.
I am sure that, in my early youth, no teaching ever made such an impression upon my mind as the instruction of my mother. Neither can I conceive that, to any child, there can be one who will have such influence over the young heart as the mother who has so tenderly cared for her offspring.
A man with a soul so dead as not to be moved by the sacred name of ‘mother’ is creation’s blot. Never could it be possible for any man to estimate what he owes to a godly mother.
Certainly I have not the powers of speech with which to set forth my valuation of the choice blessing which the Lord bestowed on me in making me the son of one who prayed for me, and prayed with me.
How can I ever forget her tearful eye when she warned me to escape from the wrath to come? I thought her lips right eloquent. Others might not think so, but they certainly were eloquent to me.
How can I ever forget when she bowed her knee, and with her arms about my neck, prayed, ‘Oh, that my son might live before Thee!’
Nor can her frown be effaced from my memory,—that solemn, loving frown, when she rebuked my budding iniquities.
And her smiles have never faded from my recollection,—the beaming of her countenance when she rejoiced to see some good things in me towards the Lord God of Israel.
My mother said to me, one day, ‘Ah, Charles! I often prayed to the Lord to make you a Christian, but I never asked that you might become a Baptist.’
I could not resist the temptation to reply, ‘Ah, mother! The Lord has answered your prayer with His usual bounty, and given you exceedingly abundantly above what you asked or thought.'”
–Charles Spurgeon, C. H. Spurgeon’s Autobiography: Volume 1, The Early Years (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1898/1962), 44-45.
You should consider the position in which we are placed. We are often put forward into positions which others perhaps would fill just as well, if they would but make the trial, and we are deeply sensible of our own deficiencies.
But still, being put forward in the forefront of the battle, we may surely ask for a special place in your prayers.
We are only flesh and blood. We are men of like passions with yourselves. We have our private trials, and our special temptations.
Often, while watering the vineyards of others, our own is comparatively neglected. Surely, it is not too much to ask you to pray for us.
Pray that we may be kept humble and sensible of our own weakness, and ever mindful that in the Lord alone can we be strong.
Pray that we may have wisdom to take the right step, to do the right thing, in the right way, and to do nothing to cause the Gospel to be blamed.
Pray, above all, that we may go straight on, even unto the end– that we may never lose our first love, and go back from first principles,– that it may never be said of us, that we are not the men we once were, but that we may go on consistently and faithfully, die in harness, and finish our course with joy, and the ministry which we have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the grace of God.”
The modern, fast-paced world will tempt you to rush and skim. This kind of life will make you shallow. The world does not need more widely read, shallow people. It needs deep people.
I don’t mean complex. I don’t mean highly educated. I don’t mean you know big words. I don’t mean you know historical background.
I mean you have seen glory— the glory of God in his Word. You have pondered it and felt its relation to all the parts of your life. You have been steadied and satisfied by it.
You have come home. You are not frantic anymore. You are at peace in the presence of God. This is what I mean by deep. This is what the world needs.”
–John Piper, The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God’s Delight in Being God (Colorado Springs: Multnomah, 1991/2012), xviii.
In order that we may become stronger in faith and not doubt that God can easily and with one word create and do all things, David asks us to consider winter as compared with summer.
For in this contrast God portrays what He can do and how He always works. In winter He sends snow, rime, and frost, so that no man can bear it.
Surely nobody could survive a real winter if he had to do without fire and warmth and depend only on the sun, as he does in summer. The whole creation is powerless to make even a grain of wheat grow or any fruit ripen in winter, but God can change the winter, banish it, and bring the summer again, so that one forgets the winter.
And He does this so easily that it costs Him only one word. Shouldn’t you, then, the more easily believe that He can help you out of your winter and all distress, easily and with a single word?…
If God every year helps the entire world out of winter, its annual flood and death, should you not learn from this mighty example of God’s power, performed annually before your very eyes, to trust and believe in Him in every need?
Look how even the godless, who believe in nothing, are able to say in winter: ‘O yes, summer will come again,’ and are convinced that it will not be winter forever.
Therefore you and everyone should learn to say in the midst of his winter: ‘Very well, let there be snow, frost, and freezing. No matter how bad things get, summer will come again. God will not let it snow and freeze forever,’ as we are told in Ps. 55:22: ‘He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.’
And then the psalmist tells us something even more comforting. Snow, rime, and frost, he says, are the Lord’s. He Himself causes them, and they are not controlled by the devil or any hostile force.
He commands them. Therefore they cannot be colder or freeze us more than He wishes or than we can bear, just as St. Paul taught the Corinthians that God does not let us be tempted beyond our endurance but directs the temptation so that we may be able to endure it (1 Cor. 10:13).
If the devil controlled the frost, there would not only be incessant winter and eternal frost with never again a summer; it would freeze so hard that we would all freeze to death in a single day and become nothing but chunks of ice.
But God’s winter and frost are not everlasting. And though the winter is hard and in itself hardly to be borne, still He gives us so much fire, warmth, straw, etc., that we can bear it until the summer puts an end to it…
He uses the winter for His own glorification, so that He can demonstrate His power by so easily transforming such a cold, hard, unfruitful time into a luxuriant, pleasant, and joyous summer.”
–Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 14: Selected Psalms III (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 14; Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 125-126, 126-127, 128. Luther is commenting on Psalm 147:16-17.