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Though he may be admired for his skill—yet none care to come near him. Such as have a high opinion of their own excellencies are on the fast track to eternal ruin! Either God infatuates them, Isaiah , or denies a blessing to their labors, or allows them to fall into some great sin. Peter, who was so well-conceited of himself, as if he had more grace than all the Apostles, the Lord let him fall very low!
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He denied Christ with an oath, nay, an imprecation, Matthew Peter wished a curse on himself if he knew Christ; nay, some think he cursed Christ. The Lord sometimes lets vain, conceited people fall—not only foully, but finally. Let all this, make us deny our pride; let it kill the worm of self-conceit.
If we are proud of our knowledge—the devil does not care how much we know. Let Paul be our pattern. Though he was the chief of the Apostles, he says, "I am less than the least of all God's people. This illustrious Apostle, a star of the first magnitude, shrank into nothing in his own eyes. It is excellent to be like Moses, whose face had a luster on it—but "he was not aware that his face was radiant. The gluttonous appetite cries, "Give, give! Paul beat down his body, 1 Corinthians Such a proportion only is to be taken for the recruiting of nature, as may help forward God's service.
More are hurt by excess in lawful things --than by meddling with sinful things. More are killed by wine --than by poison. Many make their belly their god, Philippians And to this god, they pour their drink offerings! And to this god, they pour their drink offerings. Clemens Alexandrinus writes of a fish whose heart is in his belly. This is an emblem of epicures, whose heart is in their belly; they are devoted to their appetite! Excess in food or drink clouds the mind, chokes holy affections, and provokes lust.
The foulest weeds grow out of the fattest soil.
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Intemperance shortens life—as too much oil extinguishes the lamp. Many dig their graves, with their teeth! Christ cautioned His Apostles, Luke , "Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation. What a shame is it—that the soul, that princely part, which sways the scepter of reason, and is akin to the angels, should be enslaved to the brutish part!
Deny the sinful cravings of the flesh. What has God given conscience for, but to be a golden bridle to check the inordinacy of the appetite! Proverbs , "Ease slays the simple. It is loath to take pains for heaven. Proverbs , "A slothful man hides his hand in his bosom. Weeds and vermin grow in untilled ground, and all vices grow in an idle, untilled heart. How can they expect to reap a harvest of glory— who never sowed any seed? Is Satan so busy in his diocese, 1 Peter , and are Christians idle? Are they like the lilies—which neither toil, nor spin?
O deny your ease! Seneca, a heather, devoted himself to labor and spent part of the night in study. Hannibal forced his way over the Alps and craggy rocks. We must force our way to paradise. Let us shake off sloth—as Paul did the viper! Never think to be brought to heaven as the passengers in a ship are brought to their ports—while sleeping!
Those slothful people in Eturia, who like drones enter into the hive and consumed the honey, were expelled from others and condemned to exile. Such as idle away the day of grace and fold their hands to sleep when they should be working out salvation, God will condemn to a perpetual exile in hell. This is the wisdom of the flesh , 2 Corinthians Carnal policy is craft. The politician does not consult what is best for the country—but what is the safest policy for himself. The politician is made of willow; he can side with all parties; his religion is cut according to the fashion of the times; he can bow either to the east or to the west.
Zeal for truth, is blotted out of the politician's creed. Sir Thomas More said that he would not follow truth too near the heels—lest it should dash out his brains. It is judged by some a piece of wise policy, not to declare against error for fear of losing a party. The Politician is a latitudinarian. He can go all ways. The ostrich's wings help her to outrun other creatures. Sinful policy makes men run further than they can, who are of purer consciences.
In short, the politician is like a chameleon, who can change into all colors—and be of the same mind as his company is. He can be either serious or feathery. I grant that Christian prudence is commendable—but the serpent shrewdness must not devour the dove inoffensiveness.
That policy is unjustifiable, which teaches people to avoid duty. Deny carnal policy; dare to be honest. The best policy is to hold fast to honesty and integrity. James , "If any man among you seems to be religious, and bridles not his tongue, this man's religion is vain. Augustine compares the tongue to a furnace, and too often sparks of anger fly out of it! The Holy Spirit once descended in cloven tongues of fire, Acts But the Apostle James speaks of a tongue that is set on fire of hell, James Some cannot rule their own spirit—but are carried away with their passions as a chariot with wild horses.
There is, I know, a holy anger against sin—but the fury of anger is the scum which boils off from an unsavory heart! Anger disturbs reason, and makes a person unfit for holy duties. O Christians, deny yourselves! Pray that God will set a watch before your lips, Psalm Labor to quench the fire of wrath—with a flood of tears!
It is recorded of Mr. John Bruen, in the county of Chester, that though he was naturally of a hasty, angry spirit—yet at length he got the victory over his passions, and grew so meek and calm that his very nature seemed to be quite altered. Grace does to the passions what Christ did to the sea when it was stormy. He said, "Peace, be still.
Grace turns the fierceness of the lion—into the meekness of the dove! Romans , "Be not conformed to this world. If the old Christians were to rise out of their graves—our new fashions might frighten them into their graves again! Was there ever such excess in hair? One asked Pastor Dod why he did not preach against those ruffians who wore long hair.
He replied, "If grace comes into their heart—it will make them cut off their hair. Nor can the female gender be excused for their excess in apparel. Gone will be their scarves, ankle chains, sashes, perfumes, and charms; their rings, jewels, party clothes, gowns, capes, and purses; their mirrors, linen garments, head ornaments, and shawls.
Seneca complained of those in his time who hung two or three houses on their ears! Some wear half their incomes upon their backs! Lysander would not allow his daughters to be too gorgeously attired, saying "it would make them more common —than lovely. That professors should conform and comply with others in their antic dresses, is a reproach of piety!
A tear in the eye—would more adorn than a tower on the head. O deny yourselves! Pull down these flags of vanity. Have not God's judgments humbled you? They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes. Psalm , "The king's daughter is all glorious within. He must not look with one eye at piety—and aim at himself with the other eye. He must not aim at self-enriching and self-applause.
He must not aim at self-enriching. Some espouse the gospel only for gain. They court this queen, not for her beauty but for her jewels! It is not the fire of the altar they regard—but the gold of the altar! Judas preached and wrought miracles—but his eye was chiefly on the money bag. How do many ministers heap benefice upon benefice, minding the fleece more than the flock! Dumb dogs that is, those who are afraid to speak the truth for fear that it will offend the rich are greedy dogs.
They are like silent watchdogs that give no warning when danger comes. They love to lie around, sleeping and dreaming. And they are as greedy as dogs, never satisfied. They are stupid shepherds, all following their own path, all of them intent on personal gain. These make use of the ministerial function, only as a net to catch filthy lucre. This is to be profane in sacred things. It is sordid and unworthy of a Christian, to make piety bow to secular interest.
A Christian must not aim at self-applause. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. They prayed and gave alms—that they might be seen by men. The oil of vain-glory fed their lamp!
Verse 5, "Truly they have their reward. Luther confessed that, although he was never tempted with covetousness—yet he was sometimes with vain-glory! The moth breeds in the finest cloth; and self-seeking is apt to breed in the best duties. Sinister aims corrupt piety. A good aim will not make a bad action good—but a bad aim will make a good action bad.
To blame are they who, when they have done any glorious service in the church, take the praise themselves, like those heathens who sacrificed the wax to their gods, but kept the honey to themselves. Matthew Paris speaks of one who, having in several lectures proved strenuously that Christ was God, and being highly applauded for it, cried out saying, "O Jesus, You are indebted to me for Your divinity this day.
Let this cause trembling and humility in Christians. Some ships which have escaped the rocks, have been wrecked upon the sands. Many who have escaped the rocks of gross scandals have been wrecked upon the sands of self-seeking. Tacitus said he would not have Erasmus's fame and applause, for all the world.
No—but to have esteem in God's church is a blessing. Hebrews "By faith the elders obtained a good report. But the sin is when self-applause is the only thing hunted after. Popular applause is the golden arrow which glitters in the eye—but wounds the heart. How many have been blown to hell with the breath of popular applause. O let us deny, yes, abhor this vain-glorious temper. We have a holy example in John the Baptist, who sought to lift up Christ and beat down himself.
John , "Someone is coming who is far greater than I am. Christ, who comes after me, is the Prince. I am but the morning star; He is the sun. I baptize only with water, He with the Holy Spirit. When Joab had taken Rabbah, he did not usurp the praise to himself—but sent for King David that he might carry away the glory of the victory, 2 Samuel So, when any eminent service in church has been done—the glory of all should be given to Christ and free grace!
It is better that God should approve—than that the world should applaud! If we are faithful, we shall have honor enough in heaven. Let this be our chief aim in duty that we may grow more in love with God and be made more like Him, have more communion with Him, and bring more revenues of honor to Him.
It was a worthy speech of Philip de Mornay upon his deathbed, that he had, through the course of his life, made God's glory his end and aim. As all the rivers run into the sea, so all our actions must run into God, the infinite Ocean! Titus , "The grace of God has appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly. The scripture gives no license for sin. It bids us to deny ungodly lusts. It is not likely he will sacrifice his Isaac —his worldly profits—who will not sacrifice the ram —his vile lusts!
A Christian must deny his malice, revenge, covetousness, uncleanness, superstition, and heterodoxy. A man may as well go to hell for a drunken opinion—as a drunken life. And let me especially instance two sins a Christian must deny:. A Christian must deny the sin of rash censuring. James , "Don't speak evil against each other. You shall hear them say, "Such a one is proud, factious, and hypocritical. The root of censoriousness is pride. A person thinks that by taking away from another's reputation—he shall add something to his own.
But let him who shall raise himself upon the ruin of another's fame, be warned. Do you think it is no sin to murder a man in his name? You who are such a critic, it is to be feared you can spy all faults but your own! O Christian, look inward. If you viewed your own spots more in the looking-glass of the Word, you would not be as ready to throw the stone of censure at others.
Deny this sin of rash censuring and smiting with the tongue , Jeremiah You who speak reproachfully of your brother without a cause, the time may come that he may be accepted—and you rejected! He may be found gold—and you reprobate silver! A Christian must deny his besetting complexion sin. Psalm , "I have kept myself from my iniquity. This must be denied. The devil can hold a man fast by one sin. A jailer can hold the prisoner fast by one fetter.
One sin is enough to stop the current of mercy. One sin may damn as well as more, just as one millstone is enough to sink a man into the sea. If there is any lust which we cannot deny, it will be a bitter root either of scandal or apostasy. Luke , "If any man comes to me and hates not father and mother and wife and children, he cannot be My disciple.
When our friends would prove snares, and hinder us from our duty, we must either leap over them or tread upon them! Here is faith in God. A carnal heart will commend and profess Christ—but will part with nothing for Him. The young man in the gospel was Christ's hearer —but not His follower. When Christ said to him, "Sell all and give to the poor," he went away sorrowful, Matthew When riches are joined with a bad heart, they do much hurt.
The world lay nearer the young man's heart than Christ. Have some of the heathens denied the world? Epaminondes, a Grecian captain who obtained many glorious victories, was a great despiser of the world. He refused vast sums of money sent him from the King of Persia, so that when he died he left scarcely enough to defray the charges of his funeral. Did a heathen go thus far in denying the world, and shall not Christians do much more? Let the wedge of gold be denied for the pearl of great price.
Matthew , "We have forsaken all and followed You. Philippians , "For whom I have suffered the loss of all things. Galeacius, marquess of Vico, parted with a fair estate to enjoy the pure ordinances of Christ at Geneva. When a Jesuit persuaded him to return to his popish religion in Italy, promising him a huge sum of money, he said, "Let their money perish with them, who esteem all the gold in the world worth one hour's communion with Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit.
This is in the text, "Let him take up his cross. There is probably nothing more anti-effortless than to believe that one must endure such trials.
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In many quarters of Evangelicalism today even the fact that one goes through a trial is a sign of a lack of faith. Suffering in the flesh is a good thing? Good luck being invited back to your regular hyper-grace church with this kind of preaching. But what does partaking of the divine nature entail? Though James says nothing essentially different from Christ and the Apostles, for some reason he receives special treatment from this brand of Evangelicalism.
Regardless, James forever stands as a stark rebuke to those who would attempt to divorce faith from works. When compared with the writings of St. John, all the other New Testament writers, including James, pale in comparison to the seriousness with which John takes the issue of effortlessness. But, amazingly, the Sola Scriptura believing, effortless-Christian turns a deaf ear once again to this unequivocal message. Oh man, I was dreading this the entire time I have been writing.
Perhaps it would be best to select a few verses that deal with the correct understanding of grace, since this topic seems to be the one most thoroughly misunderstood by this movement. Without the gift of grace one is helpless in the fight against sin and death. The Old Law could offer no power to defeat sin and death by itself. But, being strong has nothing whatsoever to do with effortlessness.
The temptation is to see grace as something automatic, requiring no participation from the believer. But receiving grace in this light is to receive grace in vain. Paul routinely denies such a misreading. Grace empowers us to resist the powers ungodliness. Resisting such things in a world overcome with evil, in a world that tempts and tears at a man from every direction is anything but a sit-down battle.
One must be engaged and actively resist the enemy of his soul. Self -denial is learned not out of the topics of philosophy but the oracles of Scripture. It is my request to the reader to pursue this manual with seriousness, knowing that the practice of self-denial is that wherein his salvation is nearly concerned. May the Lord work with His Word and cause the dew of His blessing to fall with this manna, which is the prayer of,.
The Word is compared to a lamp for its illuminating quality, Psalm , and to refined silver for its enriching quality, Psalm Among other parts of sacred writ, this is not the least: "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself. These words are dropped from the lips of Christ, the oracle of truth. In the preceding verse, our blessed Savior foretold His passion: "The Son of Man must suffer many things. He must be rejected. Thus He as the "stone which the builders refused," Psalm He must be slain.
This diamond must be cut. He who gave life to others must Himself die. And as Christ thus abased Himself for us, so we must deny ourselves for Him. Self denial is the foundation of godliness, and if this is not well laid, all the building will fall. Let me explain the words:.
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It concerns all; it respects both ministers and people. Christ spoke it as well to His apostles as to the rest of His hearers. The words have two parts:. Second, an imposal: "Let him deny himself. It carries in it the force of the command. It is as if a king should say, "Let it be enacted. The proposition I shall insist on is that a good Christian must be a self-denier. He must not deny his promise. A man's promise should be sacred. He is to keep it though it is to his loss, Psalm ,4. He who makes no reckoning of his promise, God makes no reckoning of his profession..
A Christian must not deny his grace. He must not disown any good work wrought in him. He ought not to say that he is a dry tree when the dew of heaven lies upon his branches. As it is a sin for a man to make himself better than he is, so it is to make himself worse. To say he has grace when he has none is presumption. To say he has no grace when he has is ingratitude. It is bearing false witness against the Spirit of God. I answer in general that he must deny that carnal part which is near to him as himself, that which is the apple of his eye.
But more particularly:. A Christian must deny his reason. I do not say renounce it, but deny it. Some cry up the Diana of reason, making it the rule and standard of faith. Indeed, that there is a God and that this God is to be worshipped is a law written in the heart of man and is consonant to reason.
But who God is and the right mode of worship is such an arcane matter that reason can no more find out than the Philistines could Sampson's riddle. Job "Canst thou by searching find out God? The doctrine of the Trinity. The well is deep, and who can with the plumb line of reason fathom it! The persons in the Trinity are distinguished but not divided. They are three subsistence's but one essence. The Trinity is purely an object of faith.
There are some truths in religion demonstrable by reason, such as that we should flee vice and do to others as we would have them do to us.
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But the Trinity of persons in the unity of essence is of divine revelation and must be assented to by faith. Those illuminated philosophers who could discourse subtlely of the magnitude and influence of the stars, the nature of plants and minerals, could not by their deepest investigation find out the mystery of the Trinity. This is wholly supernatural and must be adored with humble believing. The doctrine of the Incarnation. This is the doctrine that eternity should be born, the He who rules the stars should suck the breasts, that a virgin should conceive, that the branch should bear the root, that in Christ there should be two natures yet but one person, that the divine nature should not be translated into the human, yet the human nature should be assumed into the person of the Son of God, the human nature not God yet one with God; here reason must be denied.
The doctrine of the Resurrection. That the body interred, nay, crumbled into a thousand factions and the ashes scattered in the air, should rise again is above reason to imagine. The Epicureans and Stoics derided Paul when he preached to them of the resurrection, Acts Here reason must be taken captive, John The chemist can, out of several means mingled together, extract the one from the other, the silver from the gold, the alchemy from the silver, and can reduce every metal to its own species.
So, when the bodies of men are mixed with other substances, the wise God can make a sudden extraction and clothe every soul with its own body. Did not the same particular body rise, it would be rather a creation than a resurrection. Acts "Why should it be thought incredible that God should raise the dead? And he cannot but do it because of His truth. Reason must be denied in agendis, that is, in duties enjoined to be practiced. There are many duties in religion which carnal reason quarrels at. God said, "It is the glory of a man to pass by an offense," Proverbs No, says carnal reason, it is cowardice.
The heathens thought it gallantry of spirit to avenge injuries. God says that the paths of holiness are strewn with roses. Proverbs "Her ways are ways of pleasantness. No, says reason, they are severe and cynical. I must crucify my delights and drown my mirth in tears. God says that religion is gainful. It brings temporal riches.
Proverbs "In her left hand riches and honor. No, says reason, If I follow the trade of religion I shall break. He who will go no farther than reason will come many leagues short of heaven. A Christian must deny his will. This is Brugensis' gloss upon the text: "The will is the great wheel in the soul that moves all the affections. It echoed God's will. But since the fall, though it retains its freedom in moral actions, yet spiritually it is depraved.
If the will could cease from sinning, says Bernard, there would be no hell. The greatest wound is fallen upon the will. The mariners compass, being stricken with thunder, causes the point of the needle to be wrong. Man's nature being corrupted causes the will to point wrong; it points to evil.
There is in the will not only impotence but obstinacy. Acts "Ye have always resisted the Holy Ghost. Here we must deny our will and bring it to God's will. If a crooked stick is laid upon the ground that is level, we do not try to bring the ground even with the stick, but to make the stick even to the ground. So God's will is not to be brought to ours, but our will being crooked must be brought to God's will. We pray, "Thy will be done. A Christian must deny his own righteousness, his civilities, duties, and good works.
Philippians "That I may be found in Him not having mine own righteousness. A hypocrite would spin a web of salvation out of his own righteousness. But St. Paul, like the bee, sucked salvation from the flower of Christ's righteousness. Isaiah "Our righteousness are as filthy rags.
Put gold in the fire and there comes out dross. Our most golden services are mixed with unbelief. The angel pouring sweet odors into the prayers of the saints, Revelation , shows that they are in themselves unsavory and need Christ's sweet odors to perfume them. Use duty, but trust Christ's righteousness for salvation. Noah's dove made use of her wings to fly but trusted the arc for safety. And, if we must deny our holy things in point of justification, then much more our civilities.
A stake may be finally painted, but it has no root. A man maybe painted with civility and yet have no root of. A moral person is washed, not changed. The life may be civil when the heart is wicked just as the sea may be calm when the water is salty. The Pharisee could say he was no adulterer, Luke , but he could not say he was not proud. The civilized person may have a secret antipathy against goodness. He may hate grace as much as vice. Civility is but a cracked title to heaven. A piece of brass may shine, but, lacking the King's image, it will not pass as currency.
A man may shine with moral virtues, but lacking the image of God consisting in holiness he will not pass as currency at the day of judgment. Morality is good, but God will say, "Yet thou lackest one thing," Mark Civility is a good Jacob's staff to walk with among men, but it is a bad Jacob's ladder to climb up to heaven.
A Christian must deny all self-confidence. How confident was Pendleton of himself! The same Hebrew word signifies both confidence and folly. Self-confidence betrays folly. Peter presumed too much on his own strength, Matthew "Though I should die with Thee, yet will I not deny thee. Matthew "He denied with an oath, saying, I know not the man. Self jealousy is good. Romans "Be not high-minded, but fear. Who that knows the fearceness of a trial or the falseness of his heart will not fear?
How have some professors shines like stars in the church's hemisphere yet have been falling stars? The Apostles have been called but some of the ancients "the eyes of the world," Christ's feet, the church's breasts. Judas was one of these, yet a traitor. Nay, some of the saints, through God's withdrawing the influence of His Spirit, have relapsed for a time, such as Cranmer and Origen, whose heart fainted in the seventh persecution and he offered incense to the idol.
Deny self-confidence. The vine being weak twists about the elm to support it. A good Christian, being conscience of his own imbecility, twists by faith about Christ. Philippians "I can do all things through Christ's strengthening me. Ours lies in our head, Christ. A Christian must deny self-conceit. Job "Vain man would be wise. He is apt to have a high opinion of himself.
Acts "There was a certain man named Simon, giving out that himself was some great one. Such as view themselves in the flattering glass of self-love appear bigger in their own eyes than they are. They think their spark is a sun, their drop a sea. They are highly conceited of their acumen, their wit and parts, and are ready to despise others. The Chinese say that Europe has one eye and they have two, and the rest of the world is blind. Deny self-conceit. Romans "I say to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think.
Self-conceit is no small sin. Chrysostom calls it the mother of hell. It is a kind of idolatry, a self-worshipping. Whatever noble endowment you have is borrowed. As the man said of the axe which fell in the water, 2 Kings , "Alas, master, for it was borrowed from heaven. And what wise man would be proud of a jewel that was lent to him?
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Whatever acuteness of wit or sageness of judgment you have, think how far short you come. How far short do you come of that knowledge which Adam had in innocence? He was the oracle of wisdom. He could unlock nature's dark cabinet and find out those secrets which amuse us. Adam had a full inspection into the cause of things. He was a kind of earthly angel. But how far short do you come of him? Your knowledge is checkered with ignorance. There are many hard knots in nature which cannot be easily untied, like why the loadstone should draw iron and leave gold and pearl, or why the Nile should overflow in the summer when waters are usually lowest.
Job "What way is the light parted? How do the bones grow in the womb? Ecclesiastes What is the reason of all occult qualities? He who sees clearest has a mist before his eyes. By eating of the tree of knowledge, we lost the key of knowledge. How far short do you come of that knowledge Satan has? He is called "demon" from his knowledge. We read of the "depths of Satan," Revelation , and his stratagems, 2 Corinthians Satan is an intelligent spirit. Though he has lost his sanctity, yet not his knowledge. Though he has lost his breastplate, yet not his headpiece.
He has wit enough to deceive the nations, Revelation His understanding is nimble, and, being compared with ours, is like the swift flight of an eagle compared with the slow motion of a snail. Why, then, should any be puffed up with deceit of their knowledge wherein the devil far outstrips them? How far short do you come of the knowledge they have who are perfected in glory?
He who is higher than a dwarf may be lower than a giant. Such as excel others in natural abilities are of a lower stature than the glorified saints. Their light which burned here like fire when it is smothered is now blown up into a pure flame. An infant glorified know more than the most profound rabbis on earth. In heaven, all shadows fly away, the sun of righteousness having risen there with his illustrious beams.
This may pull down the plumes of pride and self-conceit. Your dark side is broader than your light side. Your ignorance is more than your knowledge. Your knowledge is but the light of a torch, your ignorance as the Cimmerian darkness. Job "How little a portion is known of God? Christians, the greatest part of your knowledge is not as much as the least part of your ignorance.
This may demolish all high imaginations. You have no cause to be conceited of the knowledge you have, but rather to be humbled for what you lack. Think of what a hell of sin you carry about you. Sin is the accursed thing, Joshua It is the quintessence of evil. It is like a stain to beauty.