Tag Archives: Holiness

“Pure grace clothed with our nature” by Richard Sibbes

“Grace is no enemy to good works. It is no enemy to diligence and to good works; nay, it is the foundation of them.

The Apostle doth not use it here as an argument to neglect good works. (Titus 2:11-14) No. He stirs them up by it.

If anything in the world will work upon a heart,  it is the love, and favour, and grace of God. ‘The love of Christ constraineth,’ (2 Cor. 5:14).

The love of Christ, as known, melts the heart. The knowledge of the grace of Christ is very effectual to stir us up, as to all duties, so especially to the duty of bounty and mercy. For experience of grace will make us gracious, and kind, and loving, and sweet to others.

Those who have felt mercy will be ready to show mercy. Those who have felt grace and love, will be ready to reflect, and show grace and love to others.

Those who are hard-hearted and barren in their lives and conversations, it is a sign that the Sun of righteousness never yet shined on them.

There is a power in grace, and grace known, to assimilate the soul to be like unto Christ. It hath a force to stir us up to that which is good, (Titus 2:11- 12).

The Apostle enforceth self-denial, a hard lesson; and holiness to God, justice to others, and sobriety to ourselves. What is the argument he useth?

‘The grace of God hath appeared.’ (Titus 2:11) The grace of God hath shined, as the word signifieth.

He means Christ appeared, but he saith, ‘The grace of God hath appeared.’ When Christ appeared, grace appeared. Christ is nothing but pure grace clothed with our nature.

What doth this appearing of grace teach us? ‘To deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live holily, and righteously, and soberly.” Holily and religiously in regard of God; justly in regard of men, and not only justly, but bountifully, for bounty is justice.

It is justice to give to the poor. ‘Withhold not good from the owners.’ (Prov. 3:27) They have right to what we have.

Grace, when it appears in any soul, is a teacher; it teacheth to deny all that is naught, and it teacheth to practice all that is good. It teacheth to live holily and righteously in this present evil world.

Many men like the text thus far, ‘The grace of God bringeth salvation.’ Oh it is a sweet text!

Ay, but what follows? What doth that grace teach thee? It teacheth to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts; it doth not teach men to follow and set themselves upon the works of the devil, but to live soberly and justly and righteously in this present evil world.”

–Richard Sibbes, “The Church’s Riches By Christ’s Poverty,” The Works of Richard Sibbes, Volume 4 (ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1639/2001), 4: 518-519.

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“This is our pattern when we speak and write for God” by John Newton

“Self-righteousness can feed upon doctrines, as well as upon works; and a man may have the heart of a Pharisee, while his head is stored with orthodox notions of the unworthiness of the creature and the riches of free grace.

Yea, I would add, the best of men are not wholly free from this leaven; and therefore are too apt to be pleased with such representations as hold up our adversaries to ridicule, and by consequence flatter our own superior judgments.

Controversies, for the most part, are so managed as to indulge rather than to repress this wrong disposition; and therefore, generally speaking, they are productive of little good. They provoke those whom they should convince, and puff up those whom they should edify.

I hope your performance will savour of a spirit of true humility, and be a means of promoting it in others.

This leads me, in the last place, to consider your own concern in your present undertaking. It seems a laudable service to defend the faith once delivered to the saints; we are commanded to contend earnestly for it, and to convince gainsayers.

If ever such defences were seasonable and expedient, they appear to be so in our day, when errors abound on all sides, and every truth of the Gospel is either directly denied, or grossly misrepresented. And yet we find but very few writers of controversy who have not been manifestly hurt by it.

Either they grow in a sense of their own importance, or imbibe an angry contentious spirit, or they insensibly withdraw their attention from those things which are the food and immediate support of the life of faith, and spend their time and strength upon matters which at most are but of a secondary value.

This shews, that, if the service is honourable, it is dangerous. What will it profit a man if he gains his cause, and silences his adversary, if at the same time he loses that humble, tender frame of spirit in which the Lord delights, and to which the promise of His presence is made!

Your aim, I doubt not, is good. But you have need to watch and pray, for you will find Satan at your right hand to resist you: he will try to debase your views; and though you set out in defence of the cause of God, if you are not continually looking to the Lord to keep you, it may become your own cause, and awaken in you those tempers which are inconsistent with true peace of mind, and will surely obstruct communion with God.

Be upon your guard against admitting anything personal into the debate.

If you think you have been ill treated, you will have an opportunity of showing that you are a disciple of Jesus, who, ‘when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not.’ (1 Pet. 2:23) This is our pattern, thus we are to speak and write for God, ‘not rendering railing for railing, but, contrariwise, blessing; knowing that hereunto we are called.’ (1 Pet. 3:9)

The wisdom that is from above is not only pure, but peaceable and gentle; and the want of these qualifications, like the dead fly in the pot of ointment, will spoil the savour and efficacy of our labours. If we act in a wrong spirit, we shall bring little glory to God, do little good to our fellow-creatures, and procure neither honour nor comfort to ourselves.

If you can be content with shewing your wit, and gaining the laugh on your side, you have an easy task. But I hope you have a far nobler aim, and that, sensible of the solemn importance of Gospel truths, and the compassion due to the souls of men, you would rather be a means of removing prejudices in a single instance, than obtain the empty applause of thousands.

Go forth, therefore, in the name and strength of the Lord of Hosts, speaking the truth in love; and may He give you a witness in many hearts, that you are taught of God, and favoured with the unction of His Holy Spirit.”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1988), 1: 272-274.

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“The joy of the saints in heaven shall be a lasting joy, an uninterrupted joy” by Thomas Brooks

“The joy of the saints in heaven shall be a lasting joy, an uninterrupted joy. Here their joy is quickly turned into sorrow, their singing into sighing, their dancing into mourning.

Our joy here is like the husbandman’s joy in harvest, which is soon over, and then we must sow again in tears, before we can reap in joy.

Surely there is no believer but finds that sometimes sin interrupts his joy.

Sometimes Satan disturbs his joy. Sometimes afflictions and sometimes desertions eclipse his joy.

Sometimes the cares of the world, and sometimes the snares of the world, and sometimes the fears of the world, mars our joy.

Sometimes great crosses, sometimes near losses, and sometimes unexpected changes, turns a Christian’s harping into mourning, and his organ into the voice of them that weep.

Surely there is hardly one day in the year, yea, I had almost said one hour in the day, wherein something or other doth not fall in to interrupt a Christian’s joy.

But now in heaven the joy of the saints shall be constant; there shall nothing fall in to disturb or to interrupt their joy: Ps. 16:11, ‘In thy presence is fulness of joy, and at thy right hand is pleasures for ever more.’

Mark, for quality, there are pleasures; for quantity, fulness; for dignity, at God’s right hand; for eternity, for evermore. And millions of years multiplied by millions, make not up one minute to this eternity of joy that the saints shall have in heaven.

In heaven there shall be no sin to take away your joy, nor no devil to take away your joy, nor no man to take away your joy: John 16:22, ‘Your joy no man taketh from you.’

The joy of the saints in heaven is never ebbing, but always flowing to all contentment. The joys of heaven never fade, never wither, never die, nor never are lessened nor interrupted.

The joy of the saints in heaven is a constant joy, an everlasting joy, in the root and in the cause, and in the matter of it and in the objects of it. Æterna erit exultatio, quœ bono lœtatur œterno, their joy lasts for ever whose objects remains for ever.

Isa. 35:10, ‘And the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joys upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall fly away.’

In this world not only the joy of hypocrites and the joy of profane persons, but also the joy of the upright, is oftentimes ‘as the crackling of thorns under a pot,’ (Eccles. 7:6) now all on a flame, and as suddenly out again.

But the joy of believers in heaven shall be like the fire on the altar that never went out. (Lev. 6:13)

So when your hearts are sad and sorrowful, oh! then think of these everlasting joys that you shall have in heaven.”

–Thomas Brooks, “The Best Things Reserved Till Last,” The Works of Thomas Brooks, Volume 1, Ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1666/2001), 1: 425–426.

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“He had a body of Divinity in his head, and the power of it upon his heart” by John Reeve

“He had a body of Divinity in his head, and the power of it upon his heart.”

–John Reeve, as quoted in The Works of Thomas Brooks, Volume 1, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1866/2001), xxxvi. Thomas Brooks died at age 72 on September 27, 1680. In his funeral sermon, John Reeve said these words about this “fine old man” and this “faithful minister of Christ.”

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“His beams bring healing, strength, peace, and joy to the soul” by John Newton

“The Lord Jesus, like the sun, is in all places at once. Go where we will, we are not far from Him, if we have but eyes to see Him, and hearts to perceive Him.

My dear child, when you look at the sun, I wish it may lead your thoughts to Him who made it, and who placed it in the firmament, not only to give us light, but to be the brightest, noblest emblem of Himself.

There is but one sun, and there needs not another: so there is but one Saviour; but He is complete and all-sufficient, the Sun of Righteousness, the Fountain of life and comfort; His beams, wherever they reach, bring healing, strength, peace, and joy to the soul.

Pray to Him, my dear, to shine forth, and reveal Himself to you. Oh, how different is He from all that you have ever seen with your bodily eyes! He is the Sun of the soul, and He can make you as sensible of His presence as you are of the sunshine at noonday.

And, when once you obtain a clear sight of Him, a thousand little things, which have hitherto engaged your attention, will in a manner disappear.

I entreat, I charge you, to ask Him every day to show Himself to you. Think of Him as being always with you; about your path by day, about your bed by night, nearer to you than any object you can see, though you see Him not; whether you are sitting or walking, in company or alone.

People often consider God as if He saw them from a great distance: but this is wrong; for, though He be in heaven, the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him; He is as much with us as with the angels.

In Him we live, and move, and have our being; as we live in the air which surrounds us, and is within us, so that it cannot be separated from us a moment.

And whatever thoughts you can obtain of God from the Scripture, as great, holy, wise, and good, endeavour to apply them all to Jesus Christ, who once died upon the cross, for He is the true God, and eternal life, with whom you have to do.

And, though He be the King of kings, and Lord of lords, and rules over all, He is so condescending and compassionate, that He will hear and answer the prayer of a child.

Seek Him, and you shall find Him. Whatever else you seek, you may be disappointed, but He is never sought in vain.”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 6 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1820/1988), 6: 289-290.

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“You shall not seek Him in vain” by John Newton

March 3, 1772

And now, what shall I say? May the Lord direct me to send you a profitable word. It rejoices my heart to think, that at a time of life when you might have been plunging into the vanities of the world, you are seeking Jesus.

The Lord, who appointed the hour of your birth, and the bounds of your habitation, was pleased in His good providence to withdraw you early from the giddy circle of dissipation in which you might have lived, and to favour you with the advantages of example, instruction, and ordinances.

You live at a distance from those ensnaring temptations by which the minds of young persons are blinded and stupefied. Yet this alone would not have secured you. His providence has been subservient to His grace.

Otherwise, by this time, you would have been weary and impatient of restraint; you would have accounted the means of grace burdensome, and your home a prison.

The evil of the heart is too deeply rooted to be overcome by any thing less than the power of God. Whatever your Papa and Mamma, or the ministers of the Gospel, could have told you concerning your state as a sinner, and your need of a Saviour, you would not have believed them, if the Lord Himself had not borne witness in your heart to His own truths.

You are now seeking Him that you may find Him, yet, if He had not found you at first, you would never have sought Him at all. This I mention for your encouragement, as a good reason why you may be assured that you shall not seek Him in vain.

Go on, my dear Miss; and may the Lord be with you. Give yourself to Him every day, and many times a day; remember how many claims He has to you; especially remember this one, that He bought you with His own blood. He died that you might live.

May the name of Jesus be written upon the tablet of your heart, and be as a seal upon your arm; that all your desires and all your actions may be regulated by His word, directed to His glory, and animated by a living principle of grace, derived from Him who is the fountain of grace.

Two things alone are worth a serious thought,—His presence and His image: the one to make you comfortable in yourself, the other that you may shine to His praise as a light in the world.

These blessings, and the increase of them, are gifts which He bestows without money and without price. Yet it is our part to wait upon Him for them, by prayer, by reading His good word, and frequenting His ordinances.

Thus you shall know if you follow on to know the Lord.

I am your affectionate friend.

John Newton”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 6 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1820/1988), 6: 250–251, 253.

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“The happiest man” by Thomas Brooks

“Know that it is not the knowing man, nor the talking man, nor the reading man, but the doing man, that at last will be found the happiest man.

“If you know these things, blessed and happy are you if you do them.” “Not every one that saith, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doth the will of my Father that is in heaven,” (John 13:17, Matt. 7:21).

Judas called Christ Lord, Lord, and yet betrayed Him, and is gone to his place.

Ah! how many Judases have we in these days, that kiss Christ, and yet betray Christ; that in their words profess Him, but in their works deny Him; that bow their knee to Him, and yet in their hearts despise Him; that call Him Jesus, and yet will not obey Him for their Lord.

Reader, If it be not strong upon thy heart to practise what thou readest, to what end dost thou read? To increase thy own condemnation?

If thy light and knowledge be not turned into practice, the more knowing man thou art, the more miserable man thou wilt be in the day of recompense; thy light and knowledge will more torment thee than all the devils in hell.

Thy knowledge will be that rod that will eternally lash thee, and that scorpion that will for ever bite thee, and that worm that will everlastingly gnaw thee; therefore read, and labour to know, that thou mayest do, or else thou art undone forever.

When Demosthenes was asked, what was the first part of an orator, what the second, what the third? he answered, Action; the same may I say.

If any should ask me, what is the first, the second, the third part of a Christian? I must answer, Action; as that man that reads that he may know, and that labours to know that he may do, will have two heavens—a heaven of joy, peace, and comfort on earth, and a heaven of glory and happiness after death.”

–Thomas Brooks, “A Word to the Reader,” Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, The Works of Thomas Brooks, Volume 1, Ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1666/2001), 1: 8-9.

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