“The Law of Truth was written upon his lips” by John Bunyan

“CHR. Sir, said Christian, I am a man that am come from the City of Destruction, and am going to the Mount Zion; and I was told by the man that stands at the gate, at the head of this way, that if I called here, you would show me excellent things, such as would be a help to me in my journey.

INTER. Then said the Interpreter, Come in; I will show thee that which will be profitable to thee. So He commanded His man to light the candle, and bid Christian follow Him: so He had him into a private room, and bid His man open a door; the which when he had done, Christian saw the picture of a very grave person hang up against the wall; and this was the fashion of it.

It had eyes lifted up to Heaven, the best of books in his hand, the law of truth was written upon his lips, the world was behind his back. It stood as if it pleaded with men, and a crown of gold did hang over its head.

CHR. Then said Christian, What meaneth this?

INTER. The man whose picture this is, is one of a thousand; he can beget children (1 Cor. 4:15), travail in birth with children (Gal. 4:19), and nurse them himself when they are born. And whereas thou seest him with his eyes lift up to Heaven, the best of books in his hand, and the law of truth writ on his lips, it is to show thee, that his work is to know and unfold dark things to sinners; even as also thou seest him stand as if he pleaded with men; and whereas thou seest the world as cast behind him, and that a crown hangs over his head, that is to show thee that slighting and despising the things that are present, for the love that he hath to his Master’s service, he is sure in the world that comes next to have glory for his reward.

Now, said the Interpreter, I have showed thee this picture first, because the man whose picture this is, is the only man whom the Lord of the place whither thou art going, hath authorized to be thy guide in all difficult places thou mayest meet with in the way; wherefore, take good heed to what I have showed thee, and bear well in thy mind what thou hast seen, lest in thy journey thou meet with some that pretend to lead thee right, but their way goes down to death.”

–John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress in The Works of John Bunyan (London: Blackie and Son, Paternoster Row, 1862), 3:98.

“He gave Himself for her” by Jonathan Edwards

“For the Creator to make the creature was a great thing. But for Him to become a creature was a greater thing. And He did a much greater thing still to obtain this joy in that for this He laid down His life and suffered even the death of the cross.

For this He poured out His soul unto death, and He that is the Lord of the universe, God over all, blessed for evermore, offered Himself a sacrifice, in both body and soul, in the flames of divine wrath.

Christ obtains His elect spouse by conquest: for she was a captive in the hands of dreadful enemies and her Redeemer came into the world to conquer these enemies and rescue her out of their hands that she might be His bride.

And He came and encountered these enemies in the greatest battle that ever was beheld by men or angels. He fought with principalities and powers. He fought alone with the powers of darkness and all the armies of hell. Yea He conflicted with the infinitely more dreadful wrath of God and overcame in this great battle.

And thus He obtained His spouse. Let us consider at how great a price Christ purchased this spouse: He did not redeem her with corruptible things as silver and gold, but with His own precious blood. Yea He gave Himself for her.

When He offered up Himself to God in those extreme labors and sufferings this was the joy that was set before Him that made him cheerfully to endure the cross and despise the pain and shame.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “The Church’s Marriage To Her Sons, And To Her God,” in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 25, Sermons and Discourses 1743-1758. Ed. Wilson H. Kimnach (WJE Online Vol. 25), 187-188.

“The joyful day is coming” by Jonathan Edwards

“We trust, dear sir, that you will esteem it a most blessed employment to spend your time and skill in adorning Christ’s bride for her marriage with the Lamb, and that it is work that you will do with delight.

And that you will take heed that the ornaments you put upon her are of the right sort, what shall be indeed beautiful and precious in the eyes of the Bridegroom, that she may be all glorious within, and her clothing of wrought gold that on the wedding day she may stand on the King’s right hand in gold of Ophir.

The joyful day is coming when the spouse of Christ shall be led in unto the King with raiment of linen. And angels and faithful ministers will be the servants that shall lead her in.

And you, sir, if you are faithful in the charge that is now to be committed to you, shall be joined with glorious angels in that honorable and joyful service.

But with this difference: that you shall have the higher privilege. Angels and faithful ministers shall be together in bringing in Christ’s bride into His palace and presenting her to Him. But faithful ministers shall have a much higher participation of the joy of that occasion.

They shall have a greater and more immediate participation with the bride in her joy. For they shall not only be ministers to the church as the angels are, but parts of the church, principal members of the bride…

So great, dear sir, is the honor and joy that is set before you, to engage you to faithfulness in your pastoral care of this people; so glorious the prize that Christ has set up to engage you to run the race that is set before you.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “The Church’s Marriage To Her Sons, And To Her God,” in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 25, Sermons and Discourses 1743-1758. Ed. Wilson H. Kimnach (WJE Online Vol. 25), 193-194.

“The church has but one husband” by Jonathan Edwards

“There are many ministers in the church of Christ, and there may be several pastors of one particular church: but the church has but one husband. All others are rejected and despised in comparison of Him.

He is among the sons as the apple tree among the trees of the wood. They all are barren and worthless. He only is the fruitful tree and therefore leaving all others, the church betakes herself to Him alone, and sits under His shadow with great delight, and His fruit is sweet to her taste.

She takes up her full and entire rest in Him, desiring no other. The relation between a minister and people shall be dissolved, and may be dissolved before death: but the union between Christ and His church shall never be dissolved, neither before death, nor by death, but shall endure through all eternity.

‘The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed’ but Christ’s conjugal love and ‘kindness shall not depart’ from His church ‘neither shall the covenant of his peace,’ the marriage covenant, ‘be removed’ (Isaiah 54:10).”

–Jonathan Edwards, “The Church’s Marriage To Her Sons, And To Her God,” in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 25, Sermons and Discourses 1743-1758. Ed. Wilson H. Kimnach (WJE Online Vol. 25), 177-178.

“The Church doesn’t need another accuser” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“A pastor should not complain about his congregation, certainly never to other people, but also not to God. A congregation has not been entrusted to him in order that he should become its accuser before God and men. When a person becomes alienated from a Christian community in which he has been placed and begins to raise complaints about it, he had better examine himself first to see whether the trouble is not due to his wish dream that should be shattered by God; and if this be the case, let him thank God for leading him into this predicament.

But if not, let him nevertheless guard against ever becoming an accuser of the congregation before God. Let him rather accuse himself for his unbelief. Let him pray to God for an understanding of his own failure and his particular sin, and pray that he may not wrong his brethren. Let him, in the consciousness of his own guilt, make intercession for his brethren. Let him do what he is committed to do, and thank God.”

–Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together (New York: Harper & Row, 1954), 29-30.

“The Proof of our Ministry” by Charles Spurgeon

“I have come down many times from the sick chamber of those members of this church who are now in the upper house, and I have done so with faith confirmed and joy increased. Those beloved ones have given me more strength and assurance than I ever derived from the study of the ablest works in my library.

They were sometimes very poor, but I remember well the glories of the little room wherein they were disrobing for the beatific vision. Their heavenly serenity, varied with bursts of triumphant joy, has driven all my fears away.

Some have been wasted with disease and racked with pain till it seemed impossible that an original thought could have come from them, and yet their speech has been fresh and new, an inspired utterance far excelling poetry.

They only spoke what they were seeing, what they were enjoying, for the jewelled gates were set open to them, and they peered within and then turned round and told us a little of what they saw. It has been a glorious thing to find none of them trembling, none confounded, none wavering.

No dying man has looked me in the face and said, ‘Sir, you did not preach a religion which a man can die with; you taught me doctrines which are not substantial enough for the dying hour.’

No, I feel even now their death grips, as they have clasped my hand and told me of their overflowing joy. They have said to me, ‘Bless the Lord that ever I stepped into the Tabernacle to hear of justification by faith, of the divine substitution, of atonement, made by blood, and of a faithful God who casts not away his people!’

Such expressions I have heard from those upon the borders of Immanuel’s land. These are our seals and the tokens that Christ has spoken by us.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “The Proof of Our Ministry,” Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Vol. 30, (Pasadena, TX: Pilgrim Publications, 1973), 360-70. Delivered on Lord’s Day morning, June 29, 1884, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle.