“The presence of God in the pressures of His people” by Stephen Charnock

“The omnipresence of God is a comfort in sharp afflictions. Good men have a comfort in this presence in their nasty prisons, oppressing tribunals; in the overflowing waters or scorching flames, He is still with them, (Isa. 43:2).

And many times, by His presence, He keeps the bush from consuming, when it seems to be all in a flame. In afflictions, God shows Himself most present when friends are most absent: ‘When my father and mother forsake me, then the Lord shall take me up,’ (Ps. 27:10).

Then God will stoop and gather me into His protection; Heb. ‘shall gather me,’ alluding to those tribes that were to bring up the rear in the Israelites’ march, to take care that none were left behind, and exposed to famine or wild beasts, by reason of some disease that disenabled them to keep pace with their brethren.

He that is the sanctuary of His people in all calamities is more present with them to support them, than their adversaries can be present with them, to afflict them: ‘A present help in the time of trouble,’ (Ps. 46:2).

He is present with all things for this end; though His presence be a necessary presence, in regard of the immensity of His nature, yet the end of this presence, in regard that it is for the good of His people, is a voluntary presence.

It is for the good of man He is present in the lower world, and principally for the good of His people, for whose sake He keeps up the world: (2 Chron. 16:9), ‘His eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect towards Him.’

If he doth not deliver good men from afflictions, He will be so present as to manage them in them, as that His glory shall issue from them, and their grace be brightened by them.

What a man was Paul, when he was lodged in a prison, or dragged to the courts of judicature; when he was torn with rods, or laden with chains! Then did he show the greatest miracles, made the judge tremble upon the bench, and break the heart, though not the prison, of the jailor,—so powerful is the presence of God in the pressures of His people.

This presence outweighs all other comforts, and is more valuable to a Christian than barns of corn or cellars of wine can be to a covetous man, (Ps. 4:7). It was this presence was David’s cordial in the mutinying of his soldiers, (1 Sam. 30:6).

What a comfort is this in exile, or a forced desertion of our habitations! Good men may be banished from their country, but never from the presence of their Protector; ye cannot say of any corner of the earth, or of any dungeon in a prison, God is not here.

If you were cast out of your country a thousand miles off, you are not out of God’s precinct. His arm is there to cherish the good, as well as to drag out the wicked.

It is the same God, the same presence in every country, as well as the same sun, moon, and stars.”

–Stephen Charnock, “A Discourse Upon God’s Omnipresence,” in The Existence and Attributes of God, in The Works of Stephen Charnock, Vol. 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1681/2010), 1: 451–452.

“He cannot give a greater Son to us” by Stephen Charnock

“In God’s giving Christ to be our Redeemer, He gave the highest gift that it was possible for divine goodness to bestow. As there is not a greater God than Himself to be conceived, so there is not a greater gift for this great God to present to His creatures.

And though He could create millions of worlds for us, He cannot give a greater Son to us.

When God intended in redemption the manifestation of his highest goodness, it could not be without the donation of the choicest gift.

As when He would ensure our comfort He swears ‘by Himself,’ because He cannot ‘swear by a greater,’ (Heb. 6:13), so when He would ensure our happiness He gives as His Son, because He cannot give a greater, being equal with Himself.

Had the Father given Himself in person, He had given one first in order, but not greater in essence and glorious perfections.

The wounds of an Almighty God for us are a greater testimony of goodness than if we had all the other riches of heaven and earth.”

–Stephen Charnock, “A Discourse on the Goodness of God,” The Existence and Attributes of God, The Works of Stephen Charnock, Vol. 2 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1681/2010), 2: 324-325.

“Whatsoever God is, He is infinitely so” by Stephen Charnock

“All the perfections of God are infinitely elevated above the excellencies of the creatures, above whatsoever can be conceived by the clearest and most piercing understanding.

The nature of God, as a Spirit, is infinitely superior to whatsoever we can conceive perfect in the notion of a created spirit.

Whatsoever God is, He is infinitely so.

He is infinite wisdom, infinite goodness, infinite knowledge, infinite power, infinite spirit, infinitely distant from the weakness of creatures, infinitely mounted above the excellencies of creatures.

As easy to be known that He is, as impossible to be comprehended what He is.

Conceive of Him as excellent, without any imperfection, as a Spirit without parts, as great without quantity, as perfect without quality, as everywhere without place, as powerful without members, as understanding without ignorance, as wise without reasoning, as light without darkness.

Conceive of Him as infinitely more excelling the beauty of all creatures, than the light in the sun pure and unviolated exceeds the splendour of the sun dispersed and divided through a cloudy and misty air.

And when you have risen to the highest, conceive Him yet infinitely above all you can conceive of spirit, and acknowledge the infirmity of your own minds.

And whatsoever conception comes into your minds, say, ‘This is not God. God is more than this.’

If I could conceive Him, He were not God, for God is incomprehensibly above whatsoever I can say, whatsoever I can think and conceive of Him.”

–Stephen Charnock, “A Discourse Upon God’s Being a Spirit,” The Works of Stephen Charnock, Vol. 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1681/2010), 1: 279.

“All our thoughts ought to be ravished with God” by Stephen Charnock

“Spiritual worship is performed with a unitedness of heart. The heart is not only now and then with God, but ‘united to fear’ or worship ‘His name,’ (Psalm 86:11).

A spiritual duty must have the engagement of the Spirit, and the thoughts tied up to the spiritual object. The union of all the parts of the heart together with the body is the life of the body, and the moral union of our hearts is the life of any duty.

A heart quickly flitting from God makes not God his treasure; he slights the worship, and therein affronts the object of worship.

All our thoughts ought to be ravished with God, bound up in Him as in a bundle of life.

But when we start from Him to gaze after every feather, and run after every bubble, we disown a full and affecting excellency, and a satisfying sweetness in Him.”

–Stephen Charnock, “On Spiritual Worship,” in The Existence and Attributes of God, in The Works of Stephen Charnock, Vol. 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1681/2010), 1: 301.

“We owe God a love more for what He is in Himself, than for what He is to us” by Stephen Charnock

“We owe God a love for what He is in Himself; and more for what He is, than for what He is to us.

God is more worthy of our affections because He is the eternal God, than because He is our Creator; because He is more excellent in His nature than in His transient actions.

The ‘Ancient of Days’ is to be served before all that are younger than Himself.

As God is infinite, He hath right to a boundless service; as He is eternal, He hath right to a perpetual service.

If God be infinite and eternal, He merits an honour and comportment from His creatures suited to the unlimited perfection of His nature, and the duration of His being. How worthy is the psalmist’s resolution, ‘I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have any being,’ (Ps. 104:33).

It is the use he makes of the endless duration of the glory of God, and will extend to all other service as well as praise. To serve other things, or to serve ourselves, is to waste a service upon that which is nothing.

In devoting ourselves to God, we serve Him that is;

–we serve Him that was, so as that He never began;

–we serve Him that is to come, so as that He never shall end;

–we serve Him by whom all things are what they are;

–and we serve Him who hath both eternal knowledge to remember our service and eternal goodness to reward it.”

–Stephen Charnock, “The Eternity of God,” in The Existence and Attributes of God, in The Works of Stephen Charnock, Vol. 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1681/2010), 1: 373.

“A deluge of self” by Stephen Charnock

“The whole little world of man is so overflowed with a deluge of self.”

–Stephen Charnock, “On Practical Atheism,” in The Existence and Attributes of God, in The Works of Stephen Charnock, Vol. 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1681/2010), 1: 225.

“The fruit of the enjoyment of an infinite and eternal God” by Stephen Charnock

“The enjoyment of God will be as fresh and glorious after many ages, as it was at first. God is eternal, and eternity knows no change. There will then be the fullest possession without any decay in the object enjoyed.

There can be nothing past, nothing future. Time neither adds to it, nor detracts from it. That infinite fulness of perfection which flourisheth in Him now, will flourish eternally, without any discoloring of it in the least, by those innumerable ages that shall run to eternity, much less any despoiling Him of them: ‘He is the same in His endless duration’ (Psalm 102:27).

As God is, so will the eternity of Him be, without succession, without division. The fulness of joy will be always present, without past to be thought of with regret for being gone, without future to be expected with tormenting desires.

When we enjoy God, we enjoy Him in His eternity without any flux: an entire possession of all together, without the passing away of pleasures that may be wished to return, or expectation of future joys which might be desired to hasten.

Time is fluid, but eternity is stable. And after many ages, the joys will be as savory and satisfying as if they had been but that moment first tasted by our hungry appetites.

When the glory of the Lord shall rise upon you, it shall be so far from ever setting, that after millions of years are expired, as numerous as the sands on the seashore, the sun, in the light of whose countenance you shall live, shall be as bright as at the first appearance.

He will be so far from ceasing to flow, that He will flow as strong, as full, as at the first communication of Himself in glory to the creature.

God, therefore, as sitting upon His throne of grace, and acting according to His covenant, is always vigorous and flourishing, a pure act of life, sparkling new and fresh rays of life and light to the creature, flourishing with a perpetual spring, and contenting the most capacious desire, forming your interest, pleasure, and satisfaction, with an infinite variety, without any change or succession.

He will have variety to increase delights, and eternity to perpetuate them. This will be the fruit of the enjoyment of an infinite and eternal God: He is not a cistern, but a fountain, wherein water is always living.”

–Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God, in The Works of Stephen Charnock, Vol. 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1681/2010), 364-365.