From the church bulletin yesterday:
What is fate? Fate is this-Whatever is, must be. But there is a difference between that and Providence. Providence says, “Whatever God ordains must be; but the wisdom of God never ordains anything without a purpose. Everything in this world is working for some one great end…The doctrine of Providence is not, that what is, must be; but that, what is, works together for the good of our race, and especially for the good of the chosen people of God.
“for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. “
(James 1:20 NKJV)
My father used to tell me that nobody ever wins an argument. His point was that the moment anger or passion takes hold of a conversation, everything said after that is just destructive. I believe I have proved his point on several occasions to the detriment of others and the embarrassment of myself, since receiving his advice. Anger in a conversation would rather take truth as a sword to destroy someone rather than an instrument of precise pruning. We might trim a hedge by cutting it down, but that would kill it.
For a Christian, truth coupled with anger is a sin. We think we are to go, and that we should, set that person straight. Most often we care not for someone until we care to rip them to shreds with the truth. Truth is precise and razor sharp, so great care and love must be coupled with truth in order to administer it properly. God is Truth…God is Love. Both. Not one or the other, but both at the same time.
This is what should be defining Christianity…
Here’s Manton on this:
Christianity, of all religions, is the meekest and most humble. It is founded upon the blood of Christ, who is a Lamb slain. It is consigned and sealed by the Spirit of Christ, who descended like a dove. Both are emblems of a meek and modest humility. And should a meek religion be defended by our violences, and the God of peace served with wrathful affections, and the madness of an evil nature bewray itself in the best cause? Christ’s warfare needeth not such carnal weapons; as Achish said, ’Have I need of mad men?’ 1 Sam. 21:15. So, hath Jesus Christ need of our passions and furies? Doth the God of heaven need a tongue set on fire of hell? James 3:6.
~Thomas Manton (from his commentary on James)
In ordering the life well, let faith and religion be the foundation, which being taken away, all other virtues are but smokes.
Religion cannot be separated from the fear of God and the reverence of Him, neither can any man be counted godly, save he who, acknowledging God to be his Father and Lord, doth addict himself wholly to Him.
-John Calvin, from his commentary on Acts 10
The Christian is enabled to rejoice greatly, even when he is grieved by manifold trials. He rejoices and grieves at the same time. He is a mass of contradictions. He is weak, yet strong; has no righteousness, yet is divinely righteous; has no strength, yet is invincible; a worm, yet threshes mountains (Isaiah 41: 14-15); poor, yet making many rich; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing. Joy and grief fill his heart at the same time, so that it is possible that he may ‘receive the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost’ (1 Thess. 1:6).
~Robert Murray M’Cheyne
from a sermon entitled Rejoicing in Affliction
This is what we might call, trying to ride a bike without the bike…
Is it not enough that men should be contented with such a stupid blindness, as, being called Christians, to look no farther for their comfort and consolation than moral considerations common to heathens would lead them, when one infinitely holy and blessed person of the Trinity has taken this office upon him to be our comforter, but they must oppose and despise him also? Nothing more discovers how few there are in the world that have interest in that blessed name whereby we are all called.
The life in heaven begins at death. Death is the birthday of that life of immortality, and that is the life which can only truly be called life. When Christ came by dying to purchase life, it was not this sorry life on earth, but the life in the world to come, that life of immortal glory; and death’s day is the birthday of this life. And for our bodies, they are but refined by death, and fitted, as vessels cast into the fire, to be molded, to be most glorious vessels after.
Death is ours every way. It is our greatest friend under the mask of an enemy. So that, whatsoever Satan may suggest to the contrary, death is ours; our friend that was our enemy; a good thing that was an ill. Our fancy in a temptation may make us apprehend those things that are useful and good to be terrible and ill, and those things that are truly dangerous to us as if they were the only good. Satan abuseth our imagination, by amplifying the good of evil, and the evil of good. But, indeed, death, and all that makes way unto it, sickness, and misery, they are ours; they do us good, they fit us for heaven. Sickness, it fits us for death; it unlooseth the soul from the body. As for the profits, and pleasures, and honors of the world, what do they? They nail us faster to the world, and do us hurt.
Therefore, death is ours. It is a good messenger; it brings good tidings when it comes. Hereupon it is that the wise man saith, ‘The day of death is better than the day of birth,’ Eccles. 7:1. When we are born, we come into misery; when we die, we go out of misery to happiness. It is better to go out of misery than to come into it. If the day of death be better than the day of birth to a Christian, certainly then death is theirs. It makes a short end of all that is miserable, and it is a terminus from whence all good begins. There is nothing in the world that doth us so much good as death. It ends all that is ill both of body and soul, and it begins that happiness that never shall have an end. Therefore, ‘blessed are they that die in the Lord, saith the Spirit,’ Rev. 14:13, ‘A voice from heaven’ saith so, and therefore, ’Write,’ saith he. It may be written if the Spirit saith it: it is testimony and argument enough. ’Blessed are those that die in the Lord: they rest from their labors; and their reward follows them.’ For they rest from all that is evil, and from that only. All that is good, ’their works follow them.’ So that if all evil cease, and all good follows, I hope death may well be said to be ours, and for our good.
from A Christians Portion; volume 4 of Works, pages 11-12
A full and hearty choosing of this God for our God and portion, in opposition to all other persons and things : Psalm 16:2. ‘my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord.’ Psalm 119:57. ‘Thou art my portion, Lord.’ We are not at liberty to choose our God or our portion, what we will give our hearts to, love most, &c. God, as our great Lord and Master, has determined that for himself. And law vengeance will pursue the neglect of it.
-Thomas Boston, volume 2 of Works, page 93