Tag Archives: Quotable Quotes

“Adoration in infinitesimals” by C.S. Lewis

“It’s comical that you, of all people, should ask my views about prayer as worship or adoration. On this subject you yourself taught me nearly all I know.

On a walk in the Forest of Dean. Can you have forgotten? You first taught me the great principle, ‘Begin where you are.’

I had thought one had to start by summoning up what we believe about the goodness and greatness of God, by thinking about creation and redemption and ‘all the blessings of this life’.

You turned to the brook and once more splashed your burning face and hands in the little waterfall and said: ‘Why not begin with this?’ And it worked.

Apparently you have never guessed how much. That cushiony moss, that coldness and sound and dancing light were no doubt very minor blessings compared with ‘the means of grace and the hope of glory’. But then they were manifest.

So far as they were concerned, sight had replaced faith. They were not the hope of glory, they were an exposition of the glory itself. Yet you were not– or so it seemed to me– telling me that ‘Nature’, or ‘the beauties of Nature’, manifest the glory.

No such abstraction as ‘Nature’ comes into it. I was learning the far more secret doctrine that pleasures are shafts of the glory as it strikes our sensibility.

As it impinges on our will or our understanding, we give it different names– goodness or truth or the like. But its flash upon our senses and mood is pleasure.

But aren’t there bad, unlawful pleasures? Certainly there are. But in calling them ‘bad pleasures’ I take it we are using a kind of shorthand. We mean ‘pleasures snatched by unlawful acts’.

It is the stealing of the apple that is bad, not the sweetness. The sweetness is still a beam from the glory. That does not palliate the stealing. It makes it worse.

There is sacrilege in the theft. We have abused a holy thing. I have tried, since that moment, to make every pleasure into a channel of adoration.

I don’t mean simply by giving thanks for it. One must of course give thanks, but I mean something different. How shall I put it? We can’t– or I can’t– hear the song of a bird simply as a sound.

Its meaning or message (‘That’s a bird’) comes with it inevitably– just as one can’t see a familiar word in print as a merely visual pattern. The reading is as involuntary as the seeing.

When the wind roars I don’t just hear the roar; I ‘hear the wind’. In the same way it is possible to ‘read’ as well as to ‘have’ a pleasure. Or not even ‘as well as’.

The distinction ought to become, and sometimes is, impossible; to receive it and to recognise its divine source are a single experience. This heavenly fruit is instantly redolent of the orchard where it grew.

This sweet air whispers of the country from whence it blows. It is a message. We know we are being touched by a finger of that right hand at which there are pleasures for evermore.

There need be no question of thanks or praise as a separate event, something done afterwards. To experience the tiny theophany is itself to adore. Gratitude exclaims, very properly: ‘How good of God to give me this.’

Adoration says: ‘What must be the quality of that Being whose far-off and momentary coruscations are like this!’ One’s mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun.

If I could always be what I aim at being, no pleasure would be too ordinary or too usual for such reception; from the first taste of the air when I look out of the window– one’s whole cheek becomes a sort of palate– down to one’s soft slippers at bed-time.

I don’t always achieve it. One obstacle is inattention. Another is the wrong kind of attention. One could, if one practised, hear simply a roar and not the roaring-of-the-wind.

In the same way, only far too easily, one can concentrate on the pleasure as an event in one’s own nervous system—subjectify it—and ignore the smell of Deity that hangs about it.

A third obstacle is greed. Instead of saying: ‘This also is Thou’, one may say the fatal word Encore.

There is also conceit: the dangerous reflection that not everyone can find God in a plain slice of bread and butter, or that others would condemn as simply ‘grey’ the sky in which I am delightedly observing such delicacies of pearl and dove and silver.

You notice that I am drawing no distinction between sensuous and aesthetic pleasures. But why should I? The line is almost impossible to draw and what use would it be if one succeeded in drawing it?

If this is Hedonism, it is also a somewhat arduous discipline. But it is worth some labour: for in so far as it succeeds, almost every day furnishes us with so to speak, ‘bearings’ on the Bright Blur.

It becomes brighter but less blurry. William Law remarks that people are merely ‘amusing themselves’ by asking for the patience which a famine or a persecution would call for if, in the meantime, the weather and every other inconvenience sets them grumbling.

One must learn to walk before one can run. So here. We– or at least I– shall not be able to adore God on the highest occasions if we have learned no habit of doing so on the lowest.

At best, our faith and reason will tell us that He is adorable, but we shall not have found Him so, not have ‘tasted and seen’. Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun which you could never get from reading books on astronomy.

These pure and spontaneous pleasures are ‘patches of Godlight’ in the woods of our experience. Of course one wants the books too.

One wants a great many things besides this ‘adoration in infinitesimals’ which I am preaching. And if I were preaching it in public, instead of feeding it back to the very man who taught it me (though he may by now find the lesson nearly unrecognisable?), I should have to pack it in ice, enclose it in barbed-wire reservations, and stick up warning notices in every direction.

Don’t imagine I am forgetting that the simplest act of mere obedience is worship of a far more important sort than what I’ve been describing.

To obey is better than sacrifice.”

–C.S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer (San Diego, CA: Harvest, 1964), 88-91.

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“A very present help” by Charles Spurgeon

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Ps 46:1 ESV)

A help that is not present when we need it is of small value. The anchor which is left at home is of no use to the seaman in the hour of storm; the money which he used to have is of no worth to the debtor when a writ is out against him.

Very few earthly helps could be called ‘very present’: they are usually far in the seeking, far in the using, and farther still when once used.

But as for the Lord our God, He is present when we seek Him, present when we need Him, and present when we have already enjoyed His aid.

He is more than ‘present,’ He is very present. More present than the nearest friend can be, for He is in us in our trouble; more present than we are to ourselves, for sometimes we lack presence of mind.

He is always present, effectually present, sympathetically present, altogether present. He is present now if this is a gloomy season.

Let us rest ourselves upon Him. He is our refuge, let us hide in Him; He is our strength, let us array ourselves with Him; He is our help, let us lean upon Him; He is our very present help, let us repose in Him now.

We need not have a moment’s care or an instant’s fear. ‘The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.'”

–Charles Spurgeon, “December 22,” in Chequebook of the Bank of Faith.

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“The great mystery of the Trinity” by Sinclair B. Ferguson

“In the upper room on the night of the Passover, Jesus decided that the great mystery of the Trinity was the teaching His disciples most needed to hear (cf. John 13-17). Why was this truth so important? Because Jesus wanted His disciples, and us, to come to know God, in all the riches and fullness of His being.

He wanted us to know God in His eternal glory and to recognize how great He is; but He also wanted us to see that the God whose being we cannot comprehend is also the God who is a Father who loves us, a Son who came to die for us, a Spirit who brings us into God’s heart and who brings God into our hearts.

On that night in which He was betrayed, Jesus preached the doctrine of the Trinity to His disciples because He knew that in the last analysis, only the people who know their God can stand firm in days of trial.

As you study the biblical teaching on God’s character and work, remember that He is not a distant God, but One whose inner being was revealed by Jesus in the most critical hours of His life on earth.

And pray that this Three Personed God will reveal Himself more fully to you through Scripture, that you may come to know Him — in the knowledge that is eternal life (John 17:3). Search for this knowledge with all your heart.”

–Sinclair B. Ferguson, A Heart For God (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1987), 22-23.

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“God is our Father” by Sinclair B. Ferguson

“Unless God is our Father, we are orphans. But God’s own Son has become our Older Brother. He comes through His Spirit, with his Father, to live with us. The Holy Spirit dwells in our lives, making us a suitable dwelling place to receive the Father and the Son!

As a consequence, by the Spirit we learn that we are not abandoned and unloved, but rather that we are loved by the Father, by the Son, and lovingly cared for by the Holy Spirit.”

–Sinclair B. Ferguson, A Heart For God (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1987), 21-22.

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“The monument of God’s wisdom” by Sinclair B. Ferguson

“The Church is the imperfect, visible form of God’s heavenly Kingdom. In it the barriers we have erected in our sin are broken down, because Christ dwells in each member of His Church (cf. Colossians 3:11). The same Christ dwells in you who dwells in me!

How then can we erect barriers between each other? Further, in the Church Jesus Christ is all to all in the fellowship. We all trust Him, we all love Him, we all worship Him, and we all want to serve Him. One common goal dominates everything we do– to please Jesus Christ.

When that happens, everything else is of secondary importance– wealth, background, education, class, race, nationality, all are given a secondary place. Out of the chaos of the differences among men, God weaves a glorious tapestry for His glory, a multi-colored landscape of His wisdom.

This is one of the great joys of belonging to a living Christian church: to be able to look around during church gatherings, and marvel at the way in which God has brought us by different paths to the same Christ– some rich, some poor, some wise, some simple, some with the one accent, some with another, yet all members of the same family.

Not only so, but as we look around, we see some who have suffered, some who have shown great faith, some who have been restored from their backsliding, some who have great gifts, some who have shown us Christ’s love in a special way.

The church, as a living fellowship, is the multi-colored monument that God has erected of His wisdom (cf. Ephesians 3:13). There we can see– if only we will look– how marvellous His wisdom is. We can see in what He has done on the larger canvas of human history that all He does is perfectly wise.

We can see, too, on the smaller canvas of the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ, that He does everything wisely, and works everything together for good for those who love Him and have been called into His purpose (Romans 8:28).”

–Sinclair B. Ferguson, A Heart For God (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1987), 77-78.

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“An explosion of joy” by Lesslie Newbigin

“There has been a long tradition which sees the mission of the Church primarily as obedience to a command. It has been customary to speak of ‘the missionary mandate.’ This way of putting the matter is certainly not without justification, and yet it seems to me that is misses the point.

It tends to make mission a burden rather than a joy, to make it part of the law rather than part of the gospel. If one looks at the New Testament evidence one gets another impression. Mission begins with a kind of explosion of joy. The news that the rejected and crucified Jesus is alive is something that cannot possibly be suppressed. It must be told. Who could be silent about such a fact?

The mission of the Church in the pages of the New Testament is more like the fallout from a vast explosion, a radioactive fallout which is not lethal but life-giving. One searches in vain through the letters of St. Paul to find any suggestion that he anywhere lays it on the conscience of his readers that they ought to be active in mission.

For himself it is inconceivable that he should keep silent. ‘Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!’ (1 Cor. 9:16). But nowhere do we find him telling his readers that they have a duty to do so. It is a striking fact, moreover, that almost all the proclamations of the gospel which are described in Acts are in response to questions asked by those outside the Church.”

–Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society (London: SPCK, 1989), 116.

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“Panting for the glory of Christ” by John Owen

“This I know: that in the immediate beholding of the person of Christ we shall see a glory in it a thousand times above what here we can conceive. The excellencies of infinite wisdom, love, and power therein, will be continually before us.

And all the glories of the person of Christ which we have before weakly and faintly inquired into, will be in our sight forevermore. Hence the ground and cause of our blessedness is that ‘we shall ever be with the Lord,’ (1 Thess. 4:17), as He Himself prays, ‘that we may be with Him where He is, to behold His glory’ (John 17:24).

We cannot perfectly behold it until we are with Him where He is. There our sight of Him will be direct, intuitive, and constant. There is a glory, there will be so, subjectively in us in the beholding of this glory of Christ, which is at present incomprehensible.

For it doth not yet appear what we ourselves shall be (cf. 1 John 3:2). Who can declare what a glory it will be in us to behold this glory of Christ? And how excellent, then, is that glory of Christ itself? This immediate sight of Christ is that which all the saints of God in this life do breathe and pant after.”

–John Owen, “Meditations and Discourses on the Glory of Christ,” in The Works of John Owen, ed. William Goold, 24 vols. (Edinburgh: Johnson & Hunter; 1850-1855; reprint by Banner of Truth, 1965), Vol. 1:379.

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Filed under Christian Theology, Glorification, Glory of Christ, Jesus Christ, John Owen, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes