“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).”
“We have, lastly, in these verses, an example of the spiritual ignorance which may be found even in the hearts of good men.
We are told that our Lord said to His disciples, “The Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men.”
They had heard the same thing from His lips little more than a week before. But now, as then, the words seemed lost upon them. They heard as though they heard not.
They could not realize the fact that their Master was to die. They could not realize the great truth that Christ was to be “cut off” before He was to reign, and that this cutting off was a literal death upon the cross.
It is written, “They understood not this saying,”—“it was hid from them,”—“they perceived it not.”
Such slowness of understanding may surprise us much at this period of the world. We are apt to forget the power of early habits of thought, and national prejudices, in the midst of which the disciples had been trained.
“The throne of David,” says a great divine, “did so fill their eyes that they could not see the cross.”
Above all, we forget the enormous difference between the position we occupy who know the history of the crucifixion and the Scriptures which it fulfilled, and the position of a believing Jew who lived before Christ died and the veil was rent in twain.
Whatever we may think of it, the ignorance of the disciples should teach us two useful lessons, which we shall all do well to learn.
For one thing, let us learn that men may understand spiritual things very feebly, and yet be true children of God. The head may be very dull when the heart is right.
Grace is far better than gifts, and faith than knowledge.
If a man has faith and grace enough to give up all for Christ’s sake, and to take up the cross and follow Him, he shall be saved in spite of much ignorance. Christ shall own him at the last day.
Finally, let us learn to bear with ignorance in others, and to deal patiently with beginners in religion. Let us not make men offenders for a word.
Let us not set our brother down as having no grace, because he does not exhibit clear knowledge.
Has he faith in Christ? Does he love Christ? These are the principal things.
If Jesus could endure so much weakness in His disciples, we may surely do likewise.”
–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1858/2012), 1: 247-248. Ryle is commenting on Luke 9:37-45.
“Let us mark, lastly, in this passage, our Lord Jesus Christ’s readiness to receive all who come to Him.
We are told, that when the multitude followed Him into the desert, whither He had retired, ‘He received them, and spoke unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing.’ (Luke 9:11)
Unmannerly and uninvited as this intrusion on His privacy seems to have been, it met with no rebuff from our Lord. He was always more ready to give instruction than people were to ask it, and more willing to teach than people were to be taught.
But the incident, trifling as it may seem, exactly tallies with all that we read in the Gospels of the gentleness and condescension of Christ.
We never see Him dealing with people according to their deserts.
We never find Him scrutinizing the motives of His hearers, or refusing to allow them to learn of Him, because their hearts were not right in the sight of God.
His ear was always ready to hear, and His hand was always ready to work, and His tongue was always ready to preach.
None that came to Him were ever cast out. Whatever they might think of His doctrine, they could never say that Jesus of Nazareth was “an austere man.”
Let us remember this in all our dealings with Christ about our own souls. We may draw near to Him with boldness, and open our hearts to Him with confidence.
He is a Saviour of infinite compassion and lovingkindness. He will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax. (Isaiah 42:3)
The secrets of our spiritual life may be such as we would not have our dearest friends know. The wounds of our consciences may be deep and sore, and require most delicate handling.
But we need not fear anything, if we commit all to Jesus, the Son of God.
We shall find that His kindness is unbounded. His own words shall be found abundantly true: ‘I am meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest to your souls.’ (Matthew 11:29)
Let us remember this, finally, in our dealing with other people, if we are called upon to give them help about their souls.
Let us strive to walk in the steps of Christ’s example, and, like Him, to be kind, and patient, and always willing to aid.
The ignorance of young beginners in religion is sometimes very provoking. We are apt to be wearied of their instability, and fickleness, and halting between two opinions.
But let us remember Jesus, and not be weary. He received all, spoke to all, and did good to all.
Let us go and do likewise. As Christ deals with us, so let us deal one with another.”
–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1858/2012), 1: 227-228. Ryle is commenting on Luke 9:7-11.
“Train up your child with all tenderness, affection, and patience. I do not mean that you are to spoil him, but I do mean that you should let him see that you love him.
Love should be the silver thread that runs through all your conduct. Kindness, gentleness, long-suffering, forbearance, patience, sympathy, a willingness to enter into childish troubles, a readiness to take part in childish joys,—these are the cords by which a child may be led most easily,—these are the clues you must follow if you would find the way to his heart.
Few are to be found, even among grown-up people, who are not more easy to draw than to drive. There is that in all our minds which rises in arms against compulsion; we set up our backs and stiffen our necks at the very idea of a forced obedience.
We are like young horses in the hand of a breaker: handle them kindly, and make much of them, and by and by you may guide them with thread; use them roughly and violently, and it will be many a month before you get the mastery of them at all.
Now children’s minds are cast in much the same mould as our own. Sternness and severity of manner chill them and throw them back. It shuts up their hearts, and you will weary yourself to find the door.
But let them only see that you have an affectionate feeling towards them,—that you are really desirous to make them happy, and do them good,—that if you punish them, it is intended for their profit, and that you would give your heart’s blood to nourish their souls.
Let them see this, I say, and they will soon be all your own. But they must be wooed with kindness, if their attention is ever to be won.
And surely reason itself might teach us this lesson. Children are weak and tender creatures, and, as such, they need patient and considerate treatment.
We must handle them delicately, like frail machines, lest by rough fingering we do more harm than good. They are like young plants, and need gentle watering,—often, but little at a time.
We must not expect all things at once. We must remember what children are, and teach them as they are able to bear.
Their minds are like a lump of metal—not to be forged and made useful at once, but only by a succession of little blows. Their understandings are like narrow-necked vessels: we must pour in the wine of knowledge gradually, or much of it will be spilled and lost.
‘Line upon line, and precept upon precept, here a little and there a little,’ must be our rule. The whetstone does its work slowly, but frequent rubbing will bring the scythe to a fine edge.
Truly there is need of patience in training a child, but without it nothing can be done.
Nothing will compensate for the absence of this tenderness and love. A minister may speak the truth as it is in Jesus, clearly, forcibly, unanswerably; but if he does not speak it in love, few souls will be won.
Just so you must set before your children their duty,—command, threaten, punish, reason,—but if affection be wanting in your treatment, your labour will be all in vain.
Love is one grand secret of successful training. Anger and harshness may frighten, but they will not persuade the child that you are right; and if he sees you often out of temper, you will soon cease to have his respect. A father who speaks to his son as Saul did to Jonathan (1 Sam. 20:30), need not expect to retain his influence over that son’s mind.
Try hard to keep up a hold on your child’s affections. It is a dangerous thing to make your children afraid of you.
Anything is almost better than reserve and constraint between your child and yourself; and this will come in with fear. Fear puts an end to openness of manner;—fear leads to concealment;—fear sows the seed of much hypocrisy, and leads to many a lie.
There is a mine of truth in the Apostle’s words to the Colossians:’“Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged’ (Col. 3:21).
Let not the advice it contains be overlooked.”
–J.C. Ryle, The Upper Room (London: William Hunt and Company, 1888), 285–287.
“Be not cast down in heart to hear that the world barketh at Christ’s strangers, both in Ireland and in this land; they do it because their Lord hath chosen them out of this world.
And this is one of our Lord’s reproaches, to be hated and ill-entreated by men. The silly stranger, in an uncouth country, must put up with a smoky inn and coarse cheer, a hard bed, and a barking, ill-tongued host.
It is not long to the day, and he will continue his journey upon the morrow, and leave them all. Indeed our fair morning is at hand, the day-star is near the rising, and we are not many miles from home.
What does it matter if we are mistreated in the smoky inns of this miserable life? We are not to stay here, and we will be dearly welcomed by Him to whom we go.
And I hope, when I shall see you clothed in white raiment, washed in the blood of the Lamb, and shall see you even at the elbow of your dearest Lord and Redeemer, and a crown upon your head, and following our Lamb and lovely Lord whithersoever He goeth,—you will think nothing of all these days.
And you shall then rejoice, and no man shall take your joy from you.”
“I see in this world two heaps, of human happiness and misery: now, if I can take but the smallest bit from from one heap and add to the other, I carry a point.
If, as I go home, a child has dropped a halfpenny, and if, by giving it another, I can wipe away its tears, I feel I have done something. I should be glad, indeed, to do greater things; but I will not neglect this.
When I hear a knock at my study door, I hear a message from God. It may be a lesson of instruction; perhaps a lesson of patience: but, since it is His message, it must be interesting.”
–John Newton, The Works of the John Newton, Ed. Richard Cecil (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 1:76.
“Even a brief glance at Flavel’s history gives some indication of his outstanding character. Of his influence, Wood, the Royalist historian, observes that he had more disciples than either John Owen or Richard Baxter.
One who was intimately acquainted with him, John Galpine of Totnes, draws attention in his memoir of Flavel to three characteristics: his diligence, his longing for the conversion of souls, and his peaceable and healing spirit.
In addition to the incidents recorded in his own writings, there are some remarkable examples of the effects of Flavel’s ministry. Luke Short was a farmer in New England who attained his hundredth year in exceptional vigour though without having sought peace with God.
One day as he sat in his fields reflecting upon his long life, he recalled a sermon he had heard in Dartmouth as a boy before he sailed to America.
The horror of dying under the curse of God was impressed upon him as he meditated on the words he had heard so long ago and he was converted to Christ– eighty-five years after hearing John Flavel preach.”
–Michael Boland, “Introduction” in John Flavel, The Mystery of Providence (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1678/2002), 11.
“Be satisfied as you are, and do not wish to choose another man’s cross. Christ says, ‘Take up the cross, and follow me. He does not say, ‘Desire to have another man’s cross.’ Observe, too, that Christ does not say, ‘Murmur at your cross.’ That is the very reverse of taking it up.
As long as a man is alive, and out of hell, he cannot have any cause to complain. Be he where he may,—be he placed in the most abject position conceivable,—the man is better off than he deserves to be. Let not a single murmur, then, ever escape our lips.
Blessed is the grace of patience, but hard is it to be acquired. May the Lord, of His infinite mercy, teach us to bear all His holy will, and bear it cheerfully, and so to take up our cross for Jesus’ sake!”
–Charles H. Spurgeon, “A Procession of Cross-Bearers,” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. LI (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1905), 365. Spurgeon preached this sermon on Mark 10:21 on May 2, 1875 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London.
“Grace mercy and peace be to you! I am in good care, blessed be the Lord, remaining here in this town a prisoner for Christ and His truth. And I am not ashamed of His cross. My soul is comforted with the consolations of His sweet presence for whom I suffer.
I earnestly entreat you to give your honour and authority to Christ and for Christ and be not dismayed for flesh and blood while you are for the Lord and for His truth and cause. And howbeit we see truth put to the worse for the time yet Christ will be a friend to truth and will do for those who dare hazard all that they have for Him and for His glory.
Sir our fair day is coming and the court will change and wicked men will weep after noon and sorer than the sons of God who weep in the morning. Let us believe and hope for God’s salvation. Sir I hope I need not write to you for your kindness and love to my brother who is now to be distressed for the truth of God as well as I am.
I think myself obliged to pray for you and your worthy and kind bed fellow and children for your love to him and me also. I hope your pains for us in Christ shall not be lost. Thus recommending you to the tender mercy and loving kindness of God rest.
Your very loving and affectionate brother,
–Samuel Rutherford, Letters of Samuel Rutherford With a Sketch of His Life and Biographical Notices of His Correspondents By Samuel Rutherford, Andrew Alexander Bonar (Edinburgh: Oliphant Anderson & Ferrier, 1881), 146.