J. C. Ryle – George Whitefield: His Life and Ministry (Christian audio book)

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From the book: Christian Leaders of the 18th century, by Bishop J C Ryle

Amazon.com description –

Although much has been written on the evangelical revival of the 18th century, J.C. Ryle’s account remains the best popular introduction to this gerat spiritual era. The best introduction to the 18th century and undoubtedly Ryle’s finest piece of historical writing. Contains vivid biographies of the men who ‘shook England from one end to the another’,giving strong reasons for his belief ‘that excepting Luther and his Continental contemporaries, and our own martyred Reformers, the world has seen no such men since the days of the apostles.’ But Ryle does not write to prompt admiration, and his conclusions and applications of his subject are among the most forceful that ever came from his pen. ‘I am obliged to say plainly that, in my judgement, we have among us neither the men nor the doctrines of the days gone by…Once let the evangelical ministry return to the ways of the 18th century, and I firmly believe we should have as much success as before. We are where we are, because we have come short of our fathers.’

VIDEO by Christian Praise and Worship in Songs, Sermons, and Audio Books

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JC Ryle free online book links – The Bishop of Liverpool, J. C. Ryle

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New links added / updated list

About J C Ryle from Wikipedia-

Ryle was a strong supporter of the evangelical school and a critic of Ritualism. He was a writer, pastor and an evangelical preacher. Among his longer works are Christian Leaders of the Eighteenth Century (1869), Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (7 vols, 1856–69), Principles for Churchmen (1884). Ryle was described as having a commanding presence and vigorous in advocating his principles albeit with a warm disposition. He was also credited with having success in evangelizing the blue collar community. His second son, Herbert Edward Ryle also a clergyman, became Dean of Westminster.

Published works

External Links

The Bishop of Liverpool, J. C. Ryle

By Josh Etter | Oct 14, 2011 05:00 pm

Since our first Conference for Pastors in 1988, Pastor John has given a biographical study of a great hero of the faith—”men of whom the world is not worthy.” This year Pastor John will focus on J. C. Ryle, the Bishop of Liverpool. Here’s a quick preview:

Join us on January 30 to February 1 for our 2012 Conference for Pastors, „God, Manhood & Ministry: Building Men for the Body of Christ.” Registration is now open.

For the full list of resources from J. C. Ryle, check out Ryle Books at JCRylequotes.com. Or read some of his books online for free:

Sermons and Tracts: from http://www.tracts.ukgo.com/john_charles_ryle.htm

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  1. Only One Way. (85k) html (50k) pdf (96k) zip (20k)
  2. The Cross of Christ.(19k) zip (6k)
  3. Preface to Gospel of John. (48k) zip (16k)
  4. Do You Confess? (65k) zip (18k)
  5. Christ Crucified. (63k) Helmingham Series.
  6. “Peace! Be Still!”  (58k) pdf (120k) zip (22k)
  7. Three Pictures! (59k) zip (16k)
  8. Faith’s Choice. (45k) zip (16k)
  9. Form or Heart? (54k) zip (17k)
  10. Beware! (106k) zip (22k)
  11. Is Thy Heart Right? (48k) zip (15k)
  12. Assurance. (127k) zip (42k)
  13. We Must Be Holy. (15k)
  14. Come! (49k) zip (15k)
  15. Which Class? (70k) zip (22k)
  16. The Inspiration of the Bible. (63k) zip (19k)
  17. Free Salvation. (66k) rtf (66k) Helmingham Series.
  18. Prove all Things. (55k) zip (18k)
  19. Are You Looking? (43k) zip (13k)
  20. Come Out, and Be Ye Separate. (58k) zip (20k)
  21. Strive! (66k) zip (19k)
  22. Self Inquiry. (52k) zip (16k)
  23. Unbelief A Marvel. (83k) pdf (68k) zip (15k)
  24. Where Are Your Sins?  (67k) zip (24k)
  25. Gospel Treasures (15k)
  26. Are You Ready? (61k) rtf (61k)
  27. Justified! (108k) pdf (176k) zip (24k)
  28. Are You Fighting? (65K) zip (21k)
  29. Whole Family! (44k) zip (14k)
  30. Christ is All. (62k) zip (19k)
  31. Are You Holy? (61k) zip (19k)
  32. Evangelical Religion. (89k) html (74k) pdf (162k) zip (25k)
  33. No Uncertain Sound. (128k) pdf (172k) zip (35k) html (94k)
  34. Victory. (56k) zip (18k)
  35. Do You Pray? (198k) pdf (92k) docx (59k) zip (44k)
  36. Do You Believe? (64k) zip(20k)
  37. The Great Battle. (65k) rtf (65k)
  38. Christ and the Two Thieves. (44k) zip(16k)
  39. „Many Shall Come.” (62k) zip (18k)
  40. Ritualism in C of E. (49k) zip(17k)
  41. Duties of Parents. (79k) zip (28k)
  42. The Morning Without Clouds. (27k) zip (11k)
  43. Remember Lot! (44k) zip (15k)
  44. How Do You Do? (56k) zip(18k)
  45. What Canst Thou Know? (43k) zip (17k)
  46. „What Think Ye of Christ?” (42k) zip (14k)
  47. Looking unto Jesus. (43k) zip (15K)
  48. If Any Man—! (61k) zip (21k )
  49. Able to Save (65K) pdf (88k) zip (17k) html (53k)
  50. The Power of the Holy Spirit.(18k)
  51. Calvary. (19k)
  52. Faith and Assurance. (17k) zip (6k)
  53. „One Blood” (49k) zip (15k)
  54. Hold Fast. (36k) zip (8k)
  55. Heaven. (35k) zip (8k)
  56. Is It Real? (38k) zip (12k)
  57. The City. (48k) zip (18k)
  58. Occupy Till I Come. (67k) pdf (106k) zip (20k)
  59. The Cross. (104k) zip (22k)
  60. Are We Sanctified? (64k) zip (23k)
  61. Are You Happy? (124k) pdf (104k) zip (23k)
  62. Rich and Poor. (58k) zip (20k)
  63. Tried by its Fruits. (43k) zip (17k)
  64. The Real Presence (61k) zip (16k)
  65. Inspiration. (255k) docx (63k) pdf (280k) zip (37k) from „Old Paths” 1900AD edition.
    1. (53k) zip (16k)
  66. Bible-Reading. (185k) pdf (184k) docx (58k) zip (38k)
  67. Idolatry. (76k) pdf (121k) zip (24k)
  68. The Thirty-nine Articles. (81k) pdf (140k) zip (25k)
  69. John Wycliffe. (38k) from „Light from Old Times” 1902 edition.pdf (51k) zip (12k)
  70. George Whitefield. (97k) from „Church Leaders” 1878 edition.pdf (133k) zip (31k)
  71. Shall We Know One Another? (31k) 1875 edition.
  72. Why were our Reformer’s Burned? (152k) from „Light from Old Times” 1902 edition. pdf (130k) zip (33k)
  73. Toplady and his Ministry. (70k) from „Church Leaders” 1878 edition. pdf (120k) zip (25k)
  74. James II. & the Seven Bishops. (131k) from „Light from Old Times” 1902 edition. pdf (175k) zip (39k)
  75. Conversion. (69k) from “Old Paths” 1878AD edition. pdf (81k) zip (17k)
  76. Having the Spirit. (131k) pdf (132k) zip (28k)
  77. England a Hundred Years Ago. (91k) [i.e. 18th century] pdf (82k) zip (19k)
  78. „Never Perish!” (255k) pdf (201k) zip (47k)
  79. Hold Fast. (1890AD) (170k) pdf (182k) zip (60k)
  80. Archbishop Laud. (133k) from „Light from Old Times” 1902 edition. pdf (164k) zip (39k)
  81. Richard Baxter. (123k) from „Light from Old Times” 1902 edition. pdf (142k) zip (34k)
    1. (116k) from „Practical Religion” 1887 4th edition. pdf (120k) zip (31k)
    2. (141k) from „Knots Untied” 1900AD edition. pdf (126k) zip (31k)
  82. Apostolic Fears. (80k) from „Knots Untied” 1900AD edition. pdf (87k) zip (23k)
    1. (125k) from „Practical Religion” 1887 4th edition. pdf (120k) zip (34k)
  83. The World. (107k) from „Practical Religion” 1887 4th edition. pdf (119k) zip (32k)
  84. Be Content. (56k) 1875AD edition. pdf (82k) zip (18k)
  85. Farewell to the Diocese. (34k) February 1st 1900AD, 4 months before his death. pdf (20k)
    1. (89k) from „Light from Old Times” 1902 edition. pdf (81k) zip (28k)
  86. What do we Owe the Reformation? (123k) pdf (125k) zip (35k)
  87. Going to the Table. (161k) from „Practical Religion” 1887 4th edition. pdf (116k) zip (39k)
    1. (99k) from „Knots Untied” 1900AD edition. pdf (121k) zip (27k)
  88. Prayer-Book Statements: Regeneration. (164k) from „Knots Untied” 1900AD edition. (pdf) (218k) zip (41k)
  89. Self-Exertion. (169k) from „Practical Religion” 1887 4th edition. pdf (101k) zip (41k)
    1. (118k) from „Practical Religion” 1887 4th edition. pdf (113k) zip (26k)
  90. A Bad Heart. (72k) from „The Christian Race and Other Sermons” 1900AD. pdf (60k) zip (18k)
    1. (1 of 3) (67k) from „The Christian Race and Other Sermons” 1900AD. pdf (62k) zip (17k)
    2. (2 of 3) (105k) from „The Christian Race and Other Sermons” 1900AD. pdf (68k) zip (19k)
    3. (3 of 3) (81k) from „The Christian Race and Other Sermons” 1900AD. pdf (68k) zip (20k)
  91. The Sabbath. (238k) from „Knots Untied” 1900AD edition. pdf (157k) zip (43k)
  92. The Lord’s Supper. (197k) from „Knots Untied” 1900AD edition. pdf (171k) zip (44k)
  93. Do You Want a Friend? (103k) from Home Truths 1857AD. pdf (74k) zip (29k)
  94. The Church’s Distinctive Principle. (221k) from „Principles for Churchmen.” 1900AD. pdf (127k) zip (45k)
  95. The Church’s Comprehensiveness. (145k) from „Principles for Churchmen.” 1900AD. pdf (79k) zip (32k)
  96. How Far May Churchmen Differ? (133k) from „Principles for Churchmen.” 1900AD. pdf (88k) zip (32k)
  97. Can there be more unity among Churchmen? (93k) from „Principles for Churchmen.” 1900AD. pdf (105k) zip (36k)
  98. Self Righteousness  (110k) from „The Christian Race and Other Sermons” 1900AD. pdf (53k) zip (31k)
  99. Few Saved. (166k) from „Old Paths” 1900ADedition. pdf (136k) zip (30k)
  100. Saving Faith. (107k) from „The Christian Race and Other Sermons” 1900AD. pdf (45k) zip (32k)
    1. (423k) with preface from Coming Events & Present Duties, On Prophecy. 1879AD edition. pdf (288k) zip (72k)
  101. Living or Dead? (117k) from Home Truths,1856AD. Fifth Series pdf (167k) zip (34k)
  102. Do You Have Peace? (127k) from Home Truths,1856AD. Fourth Series. pdf (186k) zip (50k)
    1. (118k) from „Holiness” 1885AD 2nd edition. pdf (151k) zip (48k)
  103. The Best Friend (173k) from „Practical Religion” 1887 4th edition. pdf(139k) zip(44k)
  104. Sanctification (192k) from „Holiness” 1885AD 2nd edition. docx (54k) rtf (192k) pdf (174k) zip (73k)
  105. Our Souls! (128k) from „Old Paths” 1900ADedition. docx (43k) rtf (128k) pdf (217k) zip (30k)
  106. Rich and Poor. (189k) 1853ADtract. docx (58k) pdf (201k) zip (41k)
  107. An Estimate of Thomas Manton. (189k) from vol II, Complete Works of Thomas Manton D.D.1871AD. docx (37k) pdf (131k) zip (41k)
  108. What Time Is It? (152k) being thoughts on Romans xiii. 12, 1854AD. docx (44k) pdf (227k) zip (29k)
  109. Forgiveness. (197k) from „Old Paths” 1900ADedition. docx (58k) pdf (91k) zip (40k)
  110. What Good Will It Do? (301k) Tract supporting establishment of Church of England 1872AD. pdf (108k) docx (76k) zip (52k)
  111. The Heart. (133k)  from „Old Paths” 1900AD edition. pdf (52k) docx (42k) zip (27k)
  112. What is Your Hope? (173k) A tract published 1856AD. pdf (109k) docx (54k) zip (37k)
  113. Have You the Spirit? 260k) A tract published 1854AD. pdf (127k) docx (64k) zip (46k)
  114. John Hooper (1mb) from „Bishops & Clergy of Other Days.”1868AD pdf (1.1mb) zip (256k) docx (140k)
  115. Hugh Latimer (181k) from „Bishops & Clergy of Other Days.”1868AD pdf (145k) docx (66k) zip (47k)
  116. A Word to the Churches. (116k) from „Home Truths” 4th series, 1856AD pdf (74k) docx (38k) zip (24k)
  117. What is the Church? (214k) from „Home Truths” 4th series, 1856AD pdf (146k) docx (69k) zip (46k)
  118. Richard Baxter. (181k) from „Bishops & Clergy of Other Days.” 1868AD pdf (215k) docx (61k) zip (42k)
  119. Consider your Ways. (221k) from „Living or Dead?” series of „Home Truths.” 1851AD pdf (77k) docx (53k) zip (39k)
  120. Samuel Ward. (195k) from „Bishops & Clergy of Other Days.”1868AD pdf (91k) docx (53k) zip (36k)
  121. The Character of a True Christian. (164k) from „The Christian Race and Other Sermons” 1900AD. pdf (70k) docx (40k) zip (27k)
  122. Wheat or Chaff? (181k) A tract published 1854AD. pdf (82k) docx (52k) zip (40k)
  123. Repent or Perish. (210k) from „Home Truths” 7th series, 1859AD pdf (88k) docx (57k) zip (41k)
  124. „He whom thou lovest is sick.” (148k) from „Home Truths” 7th series, 1859AD pdf (63k) docx (44k) zip (31k)
  125. The Lord our Righteousness. (133k) from „The Christian Race and Other Sermons” 1900AD. pdf (53k) docx (39k) zip (28k)
  126. Young Men Exhorted (377k) from „Home Truths” 4th series, 1856AD pdf (190k) docx (94k) zip (70k)

 

EVANGELICAL TRACTS J. C. RYLE REFORMATION GEORGE WHITEFIELD JOHN BUNYAN J. GRESHAM MACHEN
JOHN OWEN GEORGE SALMON JAMES WYLIE JOHN CHARLES RYLE JONATHAN EDWARDS R. C. TRENCH
JOHN KNOX LORAINE BOETTNER CHARLES SPURGEON JOHN WYCLIFFE CHARLES HODGE OTHER TRACTS
MARTIN LUTHER JOHN CALVIN FOXE’S MARTYRS R. L. DABNEY SAMUEL DAVIES OTHER BOOKS
JOHN NEWTON WILLIAM THE SILENT CONFESSION OF FAITH SAMUEL RUTHERFORD SAVONAROLA CHRISTIAN HISTORY


J C Ryle – The Two Bears, and Other Sermons for Children

a Librivox recording – VIDEO by  Christian Praise and Worship in Songs, Sermons, and Audio Books

 

J C Ryle – Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees… (What did Jesus mean?)

Photo credit bws.biblista.net

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

In this short tract, J C Ryle explains the four points that will keep christians from being deceived by strange doctrines, as in Jesus’s warning to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees:

I desire to impress these four points upon you:

  1. clear views of the sinfulness of human nature;
  2. clear views of the inspiration of Scripture;
  3. clear views of the Atonement and Priestly office of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ;
  4. and clear views of the work of the Holy Ghost.

I believe that strange doctrines about the church, the ministry, and the sacraments,—about the love of God, the death of Christ, and the eternity of punishment,—will find no foothold in the heart which is sound on these four points. I believe that they are four great safeguards against the leaven of the Pharisees. and of the Sadducees by way of practical application. My desire is to make the whole subject useful to those into whose hands these pages may fall, and to supply an answer to the questions which may possibly arise in some hearts,—What are we to do? What advice have you got to offer for the times?

and, lest you think you are immune from the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees, Ryle, rightly warns that everyone could deviate and find themselves falling into the temptation to follow false doctrine, and, thus, falling away from the faith:

Finally, beware of supposing that you at any rate are not in danger. “Your views are sound: your feet stand firm: others may fall away, but you are safe!” Hundreds have thought the same, and come to a bad end. In their self-confidence they tampered with little temptations; and little forms of false doctrine ; in their self-conceit they went near the brink of danger: and now they seem lost for ever. They appear given over to a strong delusion, so as to believe a lie.

BEWARE!

by Rev. J. C. Ryle

“Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed, and beware of the leaven of the
Pharisees and of the Sadducees.”
—MATTHEW XVI. 6.

READER,

The title of the tract now in your hands has been chosen with special reference to its subject. It is a tract of warning against one of the greatest dangers of these last days. It is not a warning about things that I fear your doing, but about things that I fear your believing; it is not a warning against vice and immorality, but against false doctrine in religion: and it is a warning founded on the express words of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. If the Chief Bishop of the Church has thought it good to give men warnings, it cannot be wrong in His ministers to do the same.

Every word spoken by the Lord Jesus is precious. It is the voice of the chief Shepherd. It is the Great Head of the Church speaking to all its members,—the King of kings speaking to His subjects,—the Master of the house speaking to His servants,—the Captain of our salvation speaking to His soldiers. Above all, it is the voice of Him who said, “I have not spoken of Myself: but the Father which sent Me, He gave Me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak” (John xii. 49). The heart of every believer in the Lord Jesus ought to burn within him when he hears his Master’s words: he ought to say, This is “the voice of my beloved” (Cant. ii. 8).

And every kind of word spoken by the Lord Jesus is of the greatest value. Precious as gold are all His words of doctrine and precept; precious are all His parables and prophecies; precious are all His words of comfort and of consolation; precious, not least, are all His words of caution and of warning. You and I are not merely to hear Him when He says, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour, and are heavy laden;” we are to hear Him also when He says, “Take heed and beware.”

Reader, I am going to ask your attention to one of the most solemn and emphatic warnings which the Lord Jesus ever delivered. You will find it in the text which stands at the head of this tract: “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” I wish to erect a beacon for all who desire to be saved, and to preserve some souls, if possible, from making shipwreck. The times call loudly for such beacons: the spiritual shipwrecks of the last few years have been deplorably numerous. The watchmen of the Church ought to speak out plainly now, or for ever hold their peace.

In considering the words which form the subject of

this tract, there are four points which I desire to enforce on your notice.

  • I. First of all, I will ask you to observe the persons to whom this warning was addressed.
  • II. Secondly, the dangers against which we are here warned.
  • III Thirdly, the peculiar name under which those dangers are described.
  • IV. Fourthly, some safeguards and antidotes against the dangers of which our Lord Jesus Christ warns us.

I offer up my prayer to God that He with whom alone is all power,—without whom ministers preach, and write, and speak in vain,—may send down the Holy Ghost upon all who read this tract. I pray that every reader may lay it down more thoroughly acquainted with the dangers by which we are surrounded, and the best safeguards against those dangers,—more careful over his own heart, and more thankful for the truth as it is in Jesus.

I. First of all, I ask you to observe who they were to whom the warning of the text was addressed.

You will observe that our Lord Jesus Christ was not speaking to men who were worldly, ungodly, and unsanctified, but to His own disciples, companions, and friends: He addressed men who, with the exception of the apostate Judas Iscariot, were right-hearted in the sight of God; He spoke to the twelve apostles, the first founders of the Church of Christ, and the first ministers of the Word of salvation: and yet even to them he addressed the solemn caution of our text, “Take heed and beware.” There is deep instruction here for all who profess to love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. It tells us loudly that the most decided servants of Christ are not beyond the need of warnings, and ought to be always on their guard. It shows us plainly that the holiest of believers ought to walk humbly with his God, and to watch and pray, lest he fall into temptation, and be overtaken in a fault. None is so holy, but that he may fall,—not finally, not hopelessly, but to his own they are yet in the body, and yet in the world. They are ever near temptation: they are ever liable to err, both in doctrine and in practice. Their hearts, though renewed, are very feeble; their understanding, though enlightened, is still very dim: they have need to live like those who dwell in an enemy’s land, and every day to put on the armour of God. The devil is very busy: he never slumbers or sleeps. Let us remember the falls of Noah, and Abraham, and Lot, and Moses, and David, and Peter; and remembering them, be humble, and take heed lest we fall.

Reader, I know not into whose hands this tract may fall; but as a minister myself, I may be allowed to say that none need warnings so much as the ministers of Christ’s Gospel. Our office and our ordination are no security against errors and mistakes. It is, alas, too true, that the greatest heresies have crept into the Church of Christ by means of ordained men. Neither Episcopal ordination, nor Presbyterian ordination, nor any other ordination, confers any immunity from error and false doctrine. Our very familiarity with the Gospel often begets in us a hardened state of mind: we are apt to read the Scriptures, and preach the Word, and conduct public worship, and carry on the service of God, in a dry, hard, formal, callous spirit; our very familiarity with sacred things, except we watch our hearts, is likely to lead us astray. “Nowhere,” says an old writer, “is a man’s soul in more danger than in a priest’s office.”

The history of the Church of Christ contains many melancholy proofs that the most distinguished ministers may for a time fall away. Who has not heard of Archbishop Cranmer recanting and going back from those opinions he had defended so stoutly, though, by God’s mercy, raised again to witness a glorious confession at last? Who has not heard of Bishop Jewell, signing documents that he most thoroughly disapproved, and of which signature he afterwards bitterly repented? Who does not know that many others might be named, who, at one time or another, have been overtaken by faults, have fallen into errors, and been led astray? And who does not know the mournful fact that many of them never came back to the truth, but died in hardness of heart, and held their errors to the last?

Reader, these things ought to make us all humble and cautious. They tell us to distrust our own hearts, and to pray to be kept from falling. In these days, when we are specially called upon to cleave firmly to the doctrines of the Protestant Reformation, let us take heed that our zeal for Protestantism does not puff us up, and make us proud. Let us never say in our self-conceit, “I shall never fall into Popery or Neologianism: those views will never suit me.” Let us remember that many have begun well and run well for a season, and yet afterwards turned aside out of the right way; let us take heed that we are spiritual men as well as Protestants, and real friends of Christ as well as enemies of anti-Christ; let us pray that we may be kept from error; let us never forget that the twelve apostles themselves were the men to whom the Great Head of the Church addressed these words: “Take heed and beware.”

Photo credit www.randolphcofc.org

II. I now propose, in the second place, to explain what were those dangers against which our Lord warned the Apostles. “Take heed,” He says, “and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.”

The danger against which He warns them is false doctrine. He says nothing about the sword of persecution, or the open breach of the ten commandments, or the love of money, or the love of pleasure: all these things no doubt were perils and snares to which the souls of the apostles were exposed; against these things, however, our Lord raises no warning voice here. His warning is confined to one single point: “The leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” We are not left to conjecture what our Lord meant by that word “leaven.” The Holy Ghost, a few verses after the very text on which I am now dwelling, tells us plainly that by leaven was meant the “doctrine” of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

Reader, let us try to understand what we mean when we speak of the “doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” Without a clear understanding of this point the whole tract you are now reading will be useless.

The doctrine of the Pharisees may be summed up in three words,— they were formalists, tradition worshippers, and self-righteous. They attached such weight to the traditions of men that they practically regarded them as of more importance than the inspired writings of the Old Testament; they valued themselves upon excessive strictness in their attention to all the ceremonial requirements of the Mosaic law; they thought much of being descended from Abraham,—they said in their hearts, “We have Abraham for our father;” they fancied because they had Abraham for their father that they were not in peril of hell like other men, and that their descent from him was a kind of title to heaven; they attached great value to washings and ceremonial purifyings of the body, and believed that the very touching of the dead body of a fly or gnat would defile them; they made a great ado about the outward parts of religion, and such things as could be seen of men; they made broad their phylacteries, and enlarged the fringes of their garments; they prided themselves on paying great honour to dead saints, and garnishing the sepulchres of the righteous. They were very zealous to make proselytes. They thought much of having power, rank, and pre-eminence, and of being called by men, “Rabbi, Rabbi.” These things, and many such-like things, the Pharisees did.

All this time, remember, they did not formally deny any part of the Old Testament Scripture; but they brought in, over and above it, so much of human invention, that they virtually put Scripture aside, and buried it under their own traditions: and of this sort of religion, our Lord says to the apostles, “Take heed and beware.”

The doctrine of the Sadducees, on the other hand, may be summed up in three words,—free-thinking, scepticism, and rationalism. Their creed was one far less popular than that of the Pharisees, and, therefore, we find them less often mentioned in the New Testament Scriptures. So far as we can judge from the New Testament, they appear to have held the doctrine of degrees of inspiration; at all events they attached exceeding value to the Pentateuch above the other parts of the Old Testament, if indeed they did not altogether ignore the latter; they believed that there was no resurrection, no angel, and no spirit; they tried to laugh men out of their belief in these things, by supposing hard cases, and bringing forward difficult questions. We have an instance of their mode of argument in the case which they propounded to our Lord of the woman who had had seven husbands, when they asked “In the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven?” And in this way they probably hoped, by rendering religion absurd, and its chief doctrines ridiculous, to make men altogether give up the faith they had received from the Scriptures.

All this time, remember, we may not say that the Sadducees were downright infidels: this they were not. We may not say they denied revelation altogether: this they did not do. They observed the law of Moses. Many of them were found among the priests in the times described in the Acts of the Apostles. But the practical effect of their teaching was to shake men’s faith in any revelation, and to throw a cloud of doubt over men’s minds, which was only one degree better than infidelity. And of all such kind of doctrine,—free-thinking, scepticism, rationalism, our Lord says, “Take heed and beware.”

Now the question arises, Why did our Lord Jesus Christ deliver this warning? He knew, no doubt, that within forty years the schools of the Pharisees and the Sadducees would be completely overthrown. He that knew all things from the beginning, knew perfectly well that in forty years Jerusalem, with its magnificent temple, would be destroyed, and the Jews scattered over the face of the earth. Why then do we find Him giving this warning about the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?

Reader, I believe that our Lord delivered this solemn warning for the perpetual benefit of that Church which He came on earth to found. He spoke with a prophetic knowledge. He knew well the diseases to which human nature is always liable; He foresaw that the two great plagues of His Church upon earth would always be the doctrine of the Pharisees and the doctrine of the Sadducees; He knew that these would be the upper and nether mill-stones, between which His truth would be perpetually crushed and bruised until He came the second time; He knew that there always would be Pharisees in spirit, and Sadducees in spirit, among professing Christians; He knew that their succession would never fail, and their generation never become extinct,—that though the names of Pharisees and Sadducees were no more, yet their principles would always exist. He knew that during the time that the Church lasts, until His return, there would always be some that would add to the Word, and some that would subtract from it,—some that would stifle it, by adding to it other things, and some that would bleed it to death, by subtracting from its principal truths. And this is the reason why we find Him delivering this solemn warning: “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.”

And now comes the question, Had not our Lord Jesus Christ good reason to give this warning? I appeal to all who know anything of Church history, Was there not indeed a cause? I appeal to all who remember what took place soon after the apostles were dead. Do we not read that in the Church of Christ there rose up two distinct parties; one ever inclined to err, like the Arians, in holding less than the truth,—the other ever inclined to err, like the relic worshippers and saint worshippers, in holding more than the truth as it is in Jesus? Do we not see the same thing coming out in after times, in the form of Romanism on the one side and Socinianism on the other? Do we not read in the history of our own Church of two great parties, the nonjurors on the one side, and the latitudinarians on the other? These are ancient things. Time and space make it impossible for me to enter more fully into them. They are things well known to all who are familiar with records of past days. There always have been these two great parties,—the party representing the principles of the Pharisee, and the party representing the principles of the Sadducee. And therefore our Lord had good cause to say of these two great principles, “Take heed and beware.”

But, reader, I desire to bring the subject near to you at the present moment. I ask you to consider whether warnings like this are not especially needed in these times in which our lot is cast. We have, undoubtedly, much to be thankful for in England. We have made great advances in arts and sciences: we have much of the form and show of morality and religion. But, I ask anybody who can see beyond his own door, or his own fireside, whether we do not live in the midst of dangers from false doctrine?

We have amongst us, on the one side, a school of men who, wittingly or unwittingly, are paving the way into the Church of Rome; a school that professes to draw its principles from primitive tradition, the writings of the Fathers, and the voice of the Church; a school that talks and writes so much about the Church, the ministry, and the sacraments, that it makes them, like Aaron’s rod, swallow up everything else in Christianity; a school that attaches vast importance to the outward form and ceremonial of religion,—to gestures, postures, bowings, crosses, piscinas, sedilia, credence-tables, rood screens, albs, tunicles, chasubles, altar cloths, and many other like things, about which not a word is to be found in the Holy Scriptures. When we examine the proceedings of that school there can be but one conclusion concerning them. I believe, whatever be the meaning and intention of its teachers, that upon them has fallen the mantle of the Pharisees.

We have, on the other hand, a school of men who, wittingly or unwittingly, appear to pave the way to Socinianism; a school which holds strange views about the plenary inspiration of Holy Scripture,—strange views about the doctrine of sacrifice, and the atonement of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,—strange views about the eternity of punishment, and God’s love to man; a school strong in negatives, but very weak in positives,—skilful in raising doubts, but impotent in laying them,—clever in unsettling and unscrewing men’s faith, but powerless to offer any firm rest for the sole of our foot. And whether the leaders of this school mean it or not, I believe that on them has fallen the mantle of the Sadducees.

These things sound harsh. It saves a vast deal of trouble to shut our eyes, and say, “I see no danger,” and because it is not seen, therefore not to believe it. It is easy to stop our ears, and say, “I hear nothing,” and because we hear nothing, therefore to feel no alarm. But we know well who they are that rejoice over the state of things we have to deplore in some quarters of our own Church. We know what the Roman Catholic thinks: we know what the Socinian thinks. The Roman Catholic rejoices over the rise of the Tractarian party: the Socinian rejoices over the rise of men who teach such views as those lately set forth about the atonement and inspiration. They would not rejoice as they do if they did not see their work being done and their cause being helped forward. The danger, I believe, is far greater than we are apt to suppose: the books that are read in many quarters are most mischievous; the tone of thought on religious subjects, among many classes, and especially among the higher ranks, is deeply unsatisfactory. The plague is abroad. If we love life, we ought to search our own hearts, and try our own faith, and make sure that we stand on the right foundation. Above all, we ought to take heed that we ourselves do not imbibe the poison of false doctrine, and go back from our first love.

I feel deeply the painfulness of speaking out on these subjects. I know well that plain speaking about false doctrine is very unpopular, and that the speaker must be content to find himself thought very uncharitable, very troublesome, and very narrow-minded. Thousands of people can never distinguish differences in religion: to them a clergyman is a clergyman, and a sermon is a sermon, and as to any difference between one minister and another, or one doctrine and another, they are utterly unable to understand it. I cannot expect such people to approve of any warning against false doctrine. I must make up my mind to meet with their disapprobation, and must bear it as I best can.

But I will ask any honest-minded, unprejudiced Bible reader to turn to the New Testament and see what he will find there. He will find many plain warnings against false doctrine: “Beware of false prophets,”—”Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit,”—”Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines,”—”Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God.” (Matt. vii. 15; Col. ii. 8; Heb. xiii. 9; 1 John iv; 1). He will find a large part of several inspired epistles taken up with elaborate explanations of true doctrine and warnings against false teaching. I ask whether it is possible for a minister who takes the Bible for his rule of faith to avoid giving warnings against doctrinal error?

Finally, I ask any one to mark what is going on in England at this very day. I ask whether it is not true that hundreds have left the Established Church and joined the Church of Rome within the last thirty years? I ask whether it is not true that hundreds remain within our pale, who in heart are little better than Romanists, and who ought, if they were consistent, to walk in the steps of Newman and Manning, and go to their own place? I ask again whether it is not true that scores of young men, both at Oxford and Cambridge, are spoiled and ruined by the withering influence of scepticism, and have lost all positive principles in religion? Sneers at religious newspapers, loud declarations of dislike to “parties,” high-sounding, vague phrases about “deep thinking, broad views, new light, and the effete weakness of certain schools of theology,” make up the whole Christianity of many of the rising generation. And yet, in the face of these notorious facts, men cry out, “Hold your peace about false doctrine. Let false doctrine alone!” I cannot hold my peace. Faith in the Word of God, love to the souls of men, the vows I took when I was ordained, alike call on me to bear witness against the errors of the day. And I believe that the saying of our Lord is eminently a truth for the times: “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.”

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III. The third thing to which I wish to call your attention is the peculiar name by which our Lord Jesus Christ speaks of the doctrines of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

Reader, the words which our Lord used were always the wisest and the best that could be used. He might have said, “Take heed and beware of the doctrine, or of the teaching, or of the opinions of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees; “but He does not say so: He uses a word of a peculiar nature. He says, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.”

Now we all know what is the true meaning of the word “leaven.” It is what we commonly call yeast,—the yeast which is added to the lump of dough in making a loaf of bread. This yeast or leaven bears but a small proportion to the lump into which it is thrown; just so, our Lord would have us know, the first beginning of false doctrine is but small compared to the body of Christianity. It works quietly and noiselessly; just so, our Lord would have us know, false doctrine works secretly in the heart in which it is once planted.. It insensibly changes the character of the whole mass with which it is mingled; just so, our Lord would have us know, the doctrines of the Pharisees and Sadducees turn everything upside down, when once admitted into a church or into a man’s heart. Let us mark these points: they throw light on many things that we see in the present day. It is of vast importance to receive the lessons of wisdom that this word “leaven” contains in itself.

False doctrine does not meet men face to face, and proclaim that it is false; it does not blow a trumpet before it, and endeavour openly to turn us away from the truth as it is in Jesus; it does not come before men in broad day, and summon them to surrender. It approaches us secretly, quietly, insidiously, plausibly, and in such a way as to disarm man’s suspicion, and throw him off his guard. It is the wolf in sheep’s clothing, and Satan in the garb of an angel of light, who have always proved the most dangerous foes of the Church of Christ.

I believe the most powerful champion of the Pharisees is not the man who bids you openly and honestly come out and join the Church of Rome: it is the man who says that he agrees on all points with you in doctrine. He would not take anything away from those evangelical views that you hold; he would not have you make any change at all: all he asks you to do is to add a little more to your belief, in order to make your Christianity perfect. “Believe me,” he says, “we do not want you to give up anything. We only want you to hold a few more clear views about the church and the sacraments. We want you to add to your present opinions a little more about the office of the ministry, and a little more about the Prayer-book, and a little more about the necessity of order and of discipline. We only want you to add a little more of these things to your system of religion, and you will be quite right.” But when men speak to you in this way, then is the time to remember what our Lord said, and to “take heed and beware.” This is the leaven of the Pharisees, against which you are to stand upon your guard.

Why do I say this? I say it because there is no security against the doctrine of the Pharisees, unless we resist its principles in their beginnings. Beginning with a “little more about the church,” you may one day place the church in the room of Christ. Beginning with a “little more about the ministry,” you may one day regard the minister as the mediator between God and man. Beginning with a “little more about the sacraments,” you may one day altogether give up the doctrine of justification by faith without the deeds of the law. Beginning with a “little more reverence for the Prayer-book,” you may one day place it above the holy Word of God Himself. Beginning with a “little more honour to bishops,” you may at last refuse salvation to every one who does not belong to an Episcopal Church. I only tell you an old story: I only mark out roads that have been trodden by hundreds of members of the Church of England in the last few years. They began by carping at the Reformers, and have ended by swallowing the decrees of the Council of Trent; they began by crying up Laud and the non-jurors, and have ended by going far beyond them, and formally joining the Church of Rome. I believe that when we hear men asking us to “add a little more” to our good old plain Evangelical views, we should stand upon our guard. We should remember our Lord’s caution: “Of the leaven of the Pharisees take heed and beware.”

I believe the most dangerous champion of the Sadducee school is not the man who tells you openly that he wants you to lay aside any part of the truth, and to become a free-thinker and a sceptic. It is the man who begins with quietly insinuating doubts as to the position that we ought to take up about religion,—doubts whether we ought to be so positive in saying “this is truth, and that falsehood,”—doubts whether we ought to think men wrong who differ from us on religious opinions, since they may after all be as much right as we are. It is the man who tells us we ought not to condemn anybody’s views, lest we err on the side of want of charity. It is the man who always begins talking in a vague way about God being a God of love, and hints that we ought to believe perhaps that all men, whatever doctrine they profess, will be saved. It is the man who is ever reminding us that we ought to take care how we think lightly of men of powerful minds, and great intellects (though they are deists and sceptics), who do not think as we do, and that, after all, great minds are all, more or less, taught of God. It is the man who is ever harping on the difficulties of inspiration, and raising questions whether all men may not be found saved in the end, and whether all may not be right in the sight of God. It is the man who crowns this kind of talk by a few calm sneers against what he is pleased to call “old-fashioned views,” and “narrow-minded theology,” and “bigotry,” and the “want of liberality and charity,” in the present day. But when men begin to speak to us in this kind of way, then is the time to stand upon our guard. Then is the time to remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and “to take heed and beware.”

Once more, why do I say this? I say it because there is no security against Sadduceeism, any more than against Phariseeism, unless we resist its principles in the bud. Beginning with a little vague talk about “charity,” you may end in the doctrine of universal salvation, fill heaven with a mixed multitude of wicked as well as good, and deny the existence of hell. Beginning with a few high-sounding phrases about intellect and the inner light in man, you may end with denying the work of the Holy Ghost, and maintaining that Homer and Shakespeare were as truly inspired as St. Paul, and practically casting aside the Bible. Beginning with some dreamy, misty idea about all religions containing more or less truth, you may end with utterly denying the necessity of missions, and maintaining that the best plan is to leave everybody alone. Beginning with dislike to “Evangelical religion,” as old-fashioned, narrow, and exclusive, you may end by rejecting every leading doctrine of Christianity,—the atonement, the need of grace, and the divinity of Christ. Again I repeat that I only tell an old story: I only give a sketch of a path which scores have trodden in the last few years. They were once satisfied with such divinity as that of Newton, Scott, Cecil, and Romaine; they are now fancying they have found a more excellent way in the principles which have been propounded by the theologians of the Broad school! I believe there is no safety for a man’s soul unless he remembers the lesson involved in those solemn words, “Beware of the leaven of the Sadducees.”

Reader, beware of the insidiousness of false doctrine. Like the fruit of which Eve and Adam ate, it looks at first sight pleasant and good, and a thing to be desired. Poison is not written upon it; like counterfeit coin it is not stamped “bad”: it passes current from the very likeness it bears to the truth.

Beware of the very small beginnings of false doctrine. Every heresy began at one time with some little departure from the truth. There is only a little seed of error needed to create a great tree: it is the little stones that make up the mighty building; it was the little timbers that made the great ark that carried Noah and his family over a deluged world; it is the little leaven that leavens the whole lump; it is the little flaw in one link of the chain cable that wrecks the gallant ship, and drowns the crew; it is the omission or addition of one little item in the doctor’s prescription that spoils the whole medicine, and turns it into poison. We do not tolerate quietly a little dishonesty, or a little cheating, or a little lying: just so, let us never allow a little false doctrine to ruin us, by thinking it is but a “little one,” and can do no harm. The Galatians seemed to be doing nothing very dangerous when they “observed days and months, and times and years; yet St. Paul says, “I am afraid of you” (Gal. iv. 10, 11).

Finally, beware of supposing that you at any rate are not in danger. “Your views are sound: your feet stand firm: others may fall away, but you are safe!” Hundreds have thought the same, and come to a bad end. In their self-confidence they tampered with little temptations; and little forms of false doctrine ; in their self-conceit they went near the brink of danger: and now they seem lost for ever. They appear given over to a strong delusion, so as to believe a lie. Some of them have exchanged the Prayer-book for the Breviary, and are praying to the Virgin Mary, and bowing down to images: others of them are casting overboard one doctrine after another, and bid fair to strip themselves of every sort of religion but a few scraps of Deism. Very striking is the vision in Pilgrim’s Progress, which describes the hill Error as “very steep on the farthest side;” and “when Christian and Hopeful looked down they saw at the bottom several men dashed all to pieces by a fall they had from the top.” Never, never let us forget the caution to beware of “leaven”; and if we think we stand let us “take heed lest we fall.”

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IV. I propose, in the fourth and last place, to suggest some safeguards and antidotes against the dangers of the present day,—the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of the Sadducees.

I feel that we all need more and more the presence of Holy Ghost in our hearts, to guide, to teach,

and keep us sound in the faith. We all need to watch more and to pray to be held up, and preserved from falling away. But still, there are certain great truths in a day like this, we are specially bound to keep in mind. There are times when some common epidemic invades a land, when medicines, at all times valuable, become of peculiar value ; there are places where a peculiar malaria prevails, in which remedies, in every place valuable, are more than ever valuable in consequence of it. So I believe there are times and seasons in the Church of Christ when we are bound to tighten our hold upon certain great leading truths, to grasp them in our hands, to press them to our hearts, and not to let them go. Such doctrines I desire to set before you in a few words, as the great antidotes to the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. When Saul and Jonathan were slain by the archers, David ordered the children of Israel to be taught the use of the bow.

For one thing, if you would be kept sound in the faith, I charge you to take heed to your doctrine about the total corruption of human nature. Bear in mind that the corruption of human nature is no slight thing. It is no partial, skin-deep disease: it is a radical and universal corruption of man’s will, intellect, affections, and conscience. We are not merely poor and pitiable sinners in God’s sight: we are guilty sinners; we are blameworthy sinners; we deserve justly God’s wrath and God’s condemnation. I believe there are very few errors and false doctrines of which the beginning may not be traced up to unsound views about the corruption of human nature. Wrong views of a disease will always bring with them wrong views of the remedy: wrong views of the corruption of human nature will always carry with them wrong views of the grand antidote and cure of that corruption. Reader, remember this point, and it will do you good.

For another thing, I charge you to take heed to your doctrine about the inspiration and authority of the Holy Scriptures. I would have you boldly maintain, in the face of all gainsayers, that the whole of the Bible is given by inspiration of the Holy Ghost,—that all is inspired completely, not one part more than another,—and that there is an entire gulf between the Word of God and any other book in the world. You need not be afraid of difficulties in the way of the doctrine of plenary inspiration. There may be many things about it far too high for you and me to comprehend: it is a miracle, and all miracles are necessarily mysterious. But if we are not to believe anything until we can entirely explain it, there are very few things indeed that we shall believe. You need not be afraid of all the assaults that criticism brings to bear upon the Bible. From the days of the apostles the Word of the Lord has been incessantly “tried,” and has never failed to come forth as gold, uninjured, and unsullied. You need not be afraid of the discoveries of science. Astronomers may sweep the heavens with telescopes, and geologists may dig down into the heart of the earth, and never shake the authority of the Bible: “The voice of God, and the work of God’s hands never will be found to contradict one another.” You need not be afraid of the researches of travellers. They will never discover anything that contradicts God’s Bible. I believe that if a Layard were to go over all the earth and dig up a hundred buried Ninevehs, there would not be found a single inscription which would contradict a single fact in the Word of God.

Furthermore, I would have you boldly maintain that this Word of God is the only rule of faith and of practice,—that whatsoever is not written in it cannot be required of any man as needful to salvation,—and that however plausibly new doctrines may be defended, if they be not in the Word of God they cannot be worth your attention. It matters nothing who says a thing, whether he be bishop, archdeacon, dean, or presbyter; it matters nothing that the thing is well said, eloquently, attractively, forcibly, and in such a way as to turn the laugh against you: you are not to believe it except it be proved to you by Holy Scripture.

Last, but not least, I would have you use the Bible as if you believed it were given by inspiration. Use it with reverence: read it with all the tenderness with which you would read the words of an absent father. Remember, you must not expect to find in a book inspired by the Spirit of God no mysteries: rather remember that in nature there are many things you cannot understand ; and that as it is in the book of nature, so it will always be in the book of Revelation. Draw near to the Word of God in that spirit of piety recommended by Lord Bacon many years ago. “Remember,” he says, speaking of the book of nature, “that man is not the master of that book, but the interpreter of that book.” And as you deal with the book of nature, so you must deal with the Book of God. Draw near to it, not to teach, but to learn,—not as if you were the master of it, but like a humble scholar, seeking to understand it. Reader, once more I say, remember this point, and it will do you good.

For another thing, I charge you to take heed to your doctrine respecting the atonement and priestly office of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I would have you boldly maintain that the death of our Lord upon the cross was no common death. It was not the death of one who only died like Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer, as a martyr; it was not the death of one who only died to give us a mighty example of self-sacrifice and self-denial. The death of Christ was an offering up unto God of Christ’s own body and blood, to make satisfaction for man’s sin and transgression. It was a sacrifice and propitiation; a sacrifice typified in every offering of the Mosaic law, a sacrifice of the mightiest influence upon all mankind. Without the shedding of that blood there could not be,—there never was to be,—any remission of sin.

Furthermore, I would have you boldly maintain that this crucified Saviour ever sitteth at the right hand of God, to make intercession for all that come to God by Him; that He there represents and pleads for them that put their trust in Him; and that He has deputed His office of Priest and Mediator to no man, or set of men on the face of the earth. We need none beside. We need no Virgin Mary, no angels, no saint, no priest, no person ordained or unordained, to stand between as and God, but the one Mediator, Christ Jesus.

Furthermore, I would have you boldly maintain that peace of conscience is not to be bought by confession to a priest, and by receiving a man’s absolution from sin. It is to be had only by going to the great High Priest, Christ Jesus; by confession before Him, not before man; and by absolution from Him only, who alone can say, “Thy sins be forgiven thee: go in peace.”

Last, but not least, I would have you boldly maintain that peace with God, once obtained by faith in Christ, is to be kept up, not by mere outward ceremonial acts of worship,—not by receiving the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper every day,—but by the daily habit of looking to the Lord Jesus Christ by faith,—eating by faith His body, and drinking by faith His blood; that eating and drinking of which our Lord says that he who eats and drinks shall find His “body meat indeed, and His blood drink indeed.” Holy John Owen declared, long ago, that if there was any one point more than another that Satan wished to overthrow, it was the Priestly office of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: Satan knew well, he said, that it was the “principal foundation of faith and consolation of the church.” Right views upon that office are of essential importance in the present day, if men would not fall into error. Reader, once more I say, remember this point, and it will do you good.

One more remedy I must mention. I charge you to take heed to your doctrine about the work of God the Holy Ghost. Settle it in your mind that His work is no uncertain, invisible operation upon the heart: that where He is, He is not hidden; that where He is, He is not unfelt; that where he is, He is not unobserved. You do not believe that the dew, when it falls, cannot be felt, or that where there is life in a man it cannot be seen and observed by his breath. So is it with the influence of the Holy Ghost. No man has any right to lay claim to it, except its fruits,—its experimental effects,—can be seen in his life. Where He is, there will ever be a new creation; where He is, there will ever be a new man; where He is, there will ever be new knowledge, new faith, new holiness, new fruits in the family, in the world, in the church. And where these new things are not to be seen we may well say, with confidence, there is no work of the Holy Ghost. These are times in which we all need to be upon our guard about the doctrine of the work of the Spirit. Madame Guyon said, long ago, that the time would perhaps come when men might have to be martyrs for the work of the Holy Ghost: that time seems not far distant. At any rate, if there is one truth in religion that seems to have more contempt showered upon it than another, it is the work of the Spirit. Reader, once more I say, remember this point, and it will do you good.

Reader, I desire to impress these four points upon you: clear views of the sinfulness of human nature; clear views of the inspiration of Scripture; clear views of the Atonement and Priestly office of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; and clear views of the work of the Holy Ghost. I believe that strange doctrines about the church, the ministry, and the sacraments,—about the love of God, the death of Christ, and the eternity of punishment,—will find no foothold in the heart which is sound on these four points. I believe that they are four great safeguards against the leaven of the Pharisees. and of the Sadducees by way of practical application. My desire is to make the whole subject useful to those into whose hands these pages may fall, and to supply an answer to the questions which may possibly arise in some hearts,—What are we to do? What advice have you got to offer for the times?

1. In the first place, I will ask every reader of this tract to find out whether he has saving personal religion for his own soul. This is the principal thing after all. It will profit no man anything to belong to a sound visible church, if he does not himself belong to Christ: it will avail a man nothing to be intellectually sound in the faith, and to approve sound doctrine, if he is not himself sound at heart. Reader, is this the case with you? Can you say that your heart is right in the sight of God? Is it renewed by the Holy Ghost? Does Christ dwell in it by faith? Oh, rest not, rest not, till you can give a satisfactory answer to these questions! The man who dies unconverted, however sound his views, is as truly lost for ever as the worst Pharisee or Sadducee that ever lived.

2. In the next place, let me beseech every reader of this tract who desires to be sound in the faith, to study diligently the Bible. That blessed book is given to be a light to our feet, and a lantern to our path. No man who reads it reverently, prayerfully, humbly, and regularly, shall ever be allowed to miss the way to heaven. By it every sermon, and every religious book, and every ministry ought to be weighed and proved. Reader, would you know what is truth? Do you feel confused and puzzled by the war of words which you hear on every side about religion? Do you want to know what you ought to believe, and what you ought to be and do, in order to be saved? Take down your Bible, and cease from man. Read your Bible with earnest prayer for the teaching of the Holy Ghost; read it with honest determination to abide by its lessons. Do so steadily and perseveringly, and you shall see light: you shall be kept from the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees, and be guided to eternal life. The way to do a thing is to do it. Act upon this advice without delay.

3. In the next place, let me advise every reader of this tract who has reason to hope that he is sound in faith and heart, to take heed to the proportion of truths. I mean by that to impress the importance of giving each several truth of Christianity the same place and position in our hearts which is given to it in God’s Word. The first things must not be put second, and the second things must not be put first in our religion: the church must not be put above Christ; the sacraments must not be put above faith and the work of the Holy Ghost; ministers must not be exalted above the place assigned to them by Christ; means of grace must not be regarded as an end instead of a means. Reader, attention to this point is of great moment: the mistakes which arise from neglecting it are neither few nor small. Here lies the immense importance of studying the whole Word of God, omitting nothing, and avoiding partiality in reading one part more than another. Here again lies the value of having a clear system of Christianity in our minds. Well would it be for the Church of England if all its members read the thirty-nine Articles, and marked the beautiful order in which those Articles state the main truths which men ought to believe.

4. In the next place, let me entreat every true-hearted servant of Christ not to be deceived by the specious guise under which false doctrines often approach our souls in the present day. Beware of supposing that a teacher of religion is to be trusted, because, although he holds some unsound views, he yet “teaches a great deal of truth:” such a teacher is precisely the man to do you harm: poison is always most dangerous when it is given in small doses and mixed with wholesome food. Beware of being taken in by the apparent earnestness of many of the teachers and upholders of false doctrine: remember that zeal and sincerity and fervour are no proof whatever that a man is working for Christ, and ought to he believed. Peter no doubt was in earnest when he bade our Lord spare Himself, and not go to the cross; yet our Lord said to him, “Get thee behind me, Satan”: Saul no doubt was in earnest when he went to and fro persecuting Christians; yet he did it ignorantly, and his zeal was not according to knowledge: the founders of the Spanish Inquisition were no doubt in earnest, and in burning God’s saints alive thought they were doing God’s service; yet they were actually persecuting Christ’s members and walking in the steps of Cain.—It is an awful fact that, “Satan himself is transformed as an angel of light.” Of all the delusions prevalent in these latter days, there is no greater than the common notion that “if good a man is in earnest about his religion he must be a good man!”

Reader, beware of being carried away by this delusion: beware of being led astray by “earnest-minded men.” Earnestness is in itself an excellent thing; but it must be earnestness in behalf of Christ and His whole truth, or else it is worth nothing at all. The things that are highly esteemed among men are often abominable in the sight of God.

5. In the next place, let me counsel every true servant of Christ to examine his own heart frequently and carefully as to his state before God. This is a practice which is useful at all times: it is specially desirable at the present day. When the great plague of London was at its height people remarked the least symptoms that appeared on their bodies in a way that they never remarked them before: a spot here, or a spot there, that in time of health men thought nothing of, received close attention when the plague was decimating families, and striking down one after another So ought it to be with ourselves, in the times in which we live. We ought to watch our hearts with double watchfulness; we ought to give more time to meditation, self-examination, and reflection. It is a hurrying, bustling age: if we would be kept from falling, we must make time for being frequently alone with God.

6. Last of all, let me urge all true believers to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. You and I have no cause to be ashamed of that faith. There is no system so life-giving, so calculated to awaken the sleeping, lead on the inquiring, and build up the saints, as that system which is called the Evangelical system of Christianity. It may be spoken against and mocked by some; but so it was in the days of the apostles. It may be weakly set forth and defended by many of its advocates; but, after all, its fruits and its results are its highest praise. No other system of religion can point to such fruits. Nowhere are so many souls converted to God as in those congregations where the Gospel of Jesus Christ is preached in all its fulness, without any admixture of the Pharisee or Sadducee doctrine. We are not called upon, beyond all doubt, to be nothing but controversialists; but we never ought to be ashamed to testify to the truth as it is in Jesus. We have the truth, and we need not be afraid to say so. The judgment-day will prove who is right, and to that day we may boldly appeal.

The Cross: A call to the fundamentals of religion – J C Ryle

photo credit regenerationandrepentance.wordpress.com

Also by J C Ryle –

  1. God’s Book, the Bible 
  2. What think ye of Christ
  3. Exhorting young men

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

The Cross: A call to the fundamentals of religion

I. Let me show you what the Apostle Paul did not glory in.
~There are many things that Paul might have gloriedin, if he had thought as some do in this day. If everthere was one on earth who had something to boastof in himself, that man was the great apostle of theGentiles. Now, if he did not dare to glory, who shall?He never gloried in his national privileges…..
~He never gloried in his own works. None everworked so hard for God as he did. He was moreabundant in labors than any of the apostles. No livingman ever preached so much, traveled so much, andendured so many hardships for Christ’s cause….
~He never gloried in his knowledge. 
~He never gloried in his graces.
~He never gloried in his churchmanship.
~Oh! reader, beware of self-righteousness. Opensin kills its thousands of souls. Self-righteousnesskills its tens of thousands. Go and study humility withthe great apostle of the Gentiles. Go and sit with Paulat the foot of the cross. Give up your secretpride. Cast away your vain ideas of your owngoodness. Be thankful if you have grace, but never glory in it for a moment. Work for God and Christ with heart and soul, and mind and strength, but never dream for a second of placing confidence in any work of your own.
II. Let me explain to you what he did glory in.
III. Let me show you why all Christians should think and feel about the cross like Paul.

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A little bit about J C Ryle from Wikipedia:

Ryle was a strong supporter of the evangelical school and a critic of Ritualism. He was a writer, pastor and an evangelical preacher. Among his longer works are Christian Leaders of the Eighteenth Century (1869), Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (7 vols, 1856–69), Principles for Churchmen (1884). Ryle was described as having a commanding presence and vigorous in advocating his principles albeit with a warm disposition. He was also credited with having success in evangelizing the blue collar community. His second son, Herbert Edward Ryle also a clergyman, became Dean of Westminster.

Ryle, J.C (John Charles) (1816-1900)

Thoroughly evangelical in his doctrine and uncompromising in his principles, J.C. Ryle was a prolific writer, vigorous preacher, and faithful pastor.

He was born at Macclesfield and educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford. He was a fine athlete who rowed and played Cricket for Oxford, where he took a first class degree in Modern Greats and was offered a college fellowship (teaching position) which he declined. The son of a wealthy banker, he was destined for a career in politics before answering a call to ordained ministry.

He was spiritually awakened in 1838 while hearing Ephesians 2 read in church. He was ordained by Bishop Sumner at Winchester in 1842. For 38 years he was a parish vicar, first at Helmingham and later at Stradbrooke, in Suffolk. He became a leader of the evangelical party in the Church of England and was noted for his doctrinal essays and polemical writings. In 1880, at age 64, he became the first bishop of Liverpool, at the recommendation of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. He retired in 1900 at age 83 and died later the same year.

In his diocese, he exercised a vigorous and straightforward preaching ministry, and was a faithful pastor to his clergy, exercising particular care over ordination retreats. He formed a clergy pension fund for his diocese and built over forty churches. Despite criticism, he put raising clergy salaries ahead of building a cathedral for his new diocese. Ryle combined his commanding presence and vigorous advocacy of his principles with graciousness and warmth in his personal relations. Vast numbers of working men and women attended his special preaching meetings, and many were led to faith in Christ. (Source http://www.anglicanlibrary.org)

God’s Book, the Bible By John Charles Ryle

photo credit regenerationandrepentance.wordpress.com

A little bit about J C Ryle from Wikipedia:

Ryle was a strong supporter of the evangelical school and a critic of Ritualism. He was a writer, pastor and an evangelical preacher. Among his longer works are Christian Leaders of the Eighteenth Century (1869), Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (7 vols, 1856–69), Principles for Churchmen (1884). Ryle was described as having a commanding presence and vigorous in advocating his principles albeit with a warm disposition. He was also credited with having success in evangelizing the blue collar community. His second son, Herbert Edward Ryle also a clergyman, became Dean of Westminster.

Ryle, J.C (John Charles) (1816-1900)

Thoroughly evangelical in his doctrine and uncompromising in his principles, J.C. Ryle was a prolific writer, vigorous preacher, and faithful pastor.

He was born at Macclesfield and educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford. He was a fine athlete who rowed and played Cricket for Oxford, where he took a first class degree in Modern Greats and was offered a college fellowship (teaching position) which he declined. The son of a wealthy banker, he was destined for a career in politics before answering a call to ordained ministry.

He was spiritually awakened in 1838 while hearing Ephesians 2 read in church. He was ordained by Bishop Sumner at Winchester in 1842. For 38 years he was a parish vicar, first at Helmingham and later at Stradbrooke, in Suffolk. He became a leader of the evangelical party in the Church of England and was noted for his doctrinal essays and polemical writings. In 1880, at age 64, he became the first bishop of Liverpool, at the recommendation of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. He retired in 1900 at age 83 and died later the same year.

In his diocese, he exercised a vigorous and straightforward preaching ministry, and was a faithful pastor to his clergy, exercising particular care over ordination retreats. He formed a clergy pension fund for his diocese and built over forty churches. Despite criticism, he put raising clergy salaries ahead of building a cathedral for his new diocese. Ryle combined his commanding presence and vigorous advocacy of his principles with graciousness and warmth in his personal relations. Vast numbers of working men and women attended his special preaching meetings, and many were led to faith in Christ. (Source http://www.anglicanlibrary.org)

 

God’s Book, the Bible [An undated booklet published in the 1890’s.]

By John Charles Ryle,

First Bishop of Liverpool in 1880

“Search the Scriptures.”—JOHN 5:39

“How readest thou?”—LUKE 10:26

NEXT to praying there is nothing so important in practical religion as Bible-reading.  God has mercifully given us a book which is “able to make us wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”  (2 Tim. iii. 15.)   By reading that book we may learn what to believe, what to be, and what to do; how to live with comfort, and how to die in peace.  Happy is that man who possesses a Bible! Happier still is he who reads it! Happiest of all is he who not only reads it, but obeys it, and makes it the rule of his faith and practice!

Nevertheless it is a sorrowful fact that man has an unhappy skill in abusing God’s gifts.  His privileges, and power, and faculties, are all ingeniously perverted to other ends than those for which they were bestowed.  His speech, his imagination, his intellect, his strength, his time, his influence, his money,—instead of being used as instruments for glorifying his Maker,—are generally wasted, or employed for his own selfish ends.  And just as man naturally makes a bad use of his other mercies, so he does of the written Word.  One sweeping charge may be brought against the whole of Christendom, and that charge is neglect and abuse of the Bible.

To prove this charge we have no need to look abroad: the proof lies at our own doors.  I have no doubt that there are more Bibles in Great Britain at this moment than there ever were since the world began.  There is more Bible buying and Bible selling, more Bible printing and Bible distributing,—than ever was since England was a nation.  We see Bibles in every bookseller’s shop,—Bibles of every size, price, and style; Bibles great, and Bibles small,—Bibles for the rich, and Bibles for the poor.  There are Bibles in almost every house in the land.  But all this time I fear we are in danger of forgetting, that to have the Bible is one thing, and to read it quite another.

This neglected Book is the subject about which I address the readers of this paper today.  Surely it is no light matter what you are doing with the Bible.  Surely, when the plague is abroad, you should search and see, whether the plague-spot is on you.  Give me your attention while I supply you with a few plain reasons why every one who cares for his soul ought to value the Bible highly, to study it regularly, and to make himself thoroughly acquainted with its contents.

1.  No Book like the Bible

I.  In the first place, there is no book in existence written in such a manner as the Bible.

The Bible was “given by inspiration of God.”  (2 Tim, iii. 16.)  In this respect it is utterly unlike all other writings.  God taught the writers of it what to say.  God put into their minds thoughts and ideas.  God guided their pens in setting down those thoughts and ideas.  When you read it, you are not reading the self-taught compositions of poor imperfect men like yourself, but the words of the eternal God.  When you hear it, you are not listening to the erring opinions of short-lived mortals, but to the unchanging mind of the King of kings.  The men who were employed to indite the Bible, spoke not of themselves.  They “spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”  (2 Peter i. 21.)  All other books in the world, however good and useful in their way, are more or less defective.  The more you look at them the more you see their defects and blemishes.  The Bible alone is absolutely perfect.  From beginning to end it is “the Word of God.”

I shall not waste time by attempting any long and laboured proof of this.  I say boldly, that the Book itself is the best witness of its own inspiration.  It is utterly inexplicable and unaccountable in any other point of view.  It is the greatest standing miracle in the world.  He that dares to say the Bible is not inspired, let him give a reasonable account of it, if he can.  Let him explain the peculiar nature and character of the Book in a way that will satisfy any man of common sense.  The burden of proof seems to my mind to lie on him.

It proves nothing against inspiration, as some have asserted, that the writers of the Bible have each a different style.  Isaiah does not write like Jeremiah, and Paul does not write like John.  This is perfectly true, and yet the works of these men are not a whit less equally inspired.  The waters of the sea have many different shades.  In one place they look blue, and in another green.  And yet the difference is owing to the depth or shallowness of the part we see, or to the nature of the bottom.  The water in every case is the same salt sea.—The breath of a man may produce different sounds, according to the character of the instrument on which he plays.  The flute, the pipe, and the trumpet, have each their peculiar note.  And yet the breath that calls forth the notes, is in each case one and the same.—The light of the planets we see in heaven is very various.  Mars, and Saturn, and Jupiter, have each a peculiar colour.  And yet we know that the light of the sun, which each planet reflects, is in each case one and the same.  Just in the same way the books of the Old and New Testaments are all inspired truth, and yet the aspect of that truth varies according to the mind through which the Holy Ghost makes it flow.  The handwriting and style of the writers differ enough to prove that each had a distinct individual being; but the Divine Guide who dictates and directs the whole is always one.  All is alike inspired.  Every chapter, and verse, and word, is from God.

Oh, that men who are troubled with doubts, and questionings, and skeptical thoughts about inspiration, would calmly examine the Bible for themselves! Oh, that they would act on the advice which was the first step to Augustine’s conversion,—“Take it up and read it!—take it up and read it!” How many Gordian knots this course of action would cut! How many difficulties and objections would vanish away at once like mist before the rising sun! How many would soon confess, “The finger of God is here! God is in this Book, and I knew it not.”

This is the Book about which I address the readers of this paper.  Surely it is no light matter what you are doing with this Book.  It is no light thing that God should have caused this Book to be “written for your learning,” and that you should have before you “the oracles of God.”  (Rom. iii. 2; xv. 4.)  I charge you, I summon you to give an honest answer to my question.  What art thou doing with the Bible?—Dost thou read it at all?—HOW READEST THOU?

2.  Bible Sufficient for Our Salvation

II.  In the second place, there is no knowledge absolutely needful to a man’s salvation, except a knowledge of the things which are to be found in the Bible.   

We live in days when the words of Daniel are fulfilled before our eyes.—“Many run to and fro, and knowledge is increased.”  (Dan. xii. 4.)  Schools are multiplying on every side.  New colleges are set up.  Old Universities are reformed and improved.  New books are continually coming forth.  More is being taught,—more is being learned,—more is being read,—than there ever was since the world began.

It is all well.  I rejoice at it.  An ignorant population is a perilous and expensive burden to any nation.  It is a ready prey to the first Absalom, or Catiline, or Wat Tyler, or Jack Cade, who may arise to entice it to do evil.  But this I say,-we must never forget that all the education a man’s head can receive, will not save his soul from hell, unless he knows the truths of the Bible.

A man may have prodigious learning, and yet never be saved.  He may be master of half the languages spoken round the globe.  He may be acquainted with the highest and deepest things in heaven and earth.  He may have read books till he is like a walking cyclopaedia.  He may be familiar with the stars of heaven,—the birds of the air,—the beasts of the earth, and the fishes of the sea.  He may be able, like Solomon, to “speak of trees, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows on the wall, of beasts also, and fowls, and creeping things, and fishes.”  (1 King iv. 33.)  He may be able to discourse of all the secrets of fire, air, earth, and water.  And yet, if he dies ignorant of Bible truths, he dies a miserable man! Chemistry never silenced a guilty conscience.  Mathematics never healed a broken heart.  All the sciences in the world never smoothed down a dying pillow.  No earthly philosophy ever supplied hope in death.  No natural theology ever gave peace in the prospect of meeting a holy God.  All these things are of the earth, earthy, and can never raise a man above the earth’s level.  They may enable a man to strut and fret his little season here below with a more dignified gait than his fellow-mortals, but they can never give him wings, and enable him to soar towards heaven.  He that has the largest share of them, will find at length that without Bible knowledge he has got no lasting possession.  Death will make an end of all his attainments, and after death they will do him no good at all.

A man may be a very ignorant man, and yet be saved.  He may be unable to read a word, or write a letter.  He may know nothing of geography beyond the bounds of his own parish, and be utterly unable to say which is nearest to England, Paris or New York.  He may know nothing of arithmetic, and not see any difference between a million and a thousand.  He may know nothing of history, not even of his own land, and be quite ignorant whether his country owes most to Semiramis, Boadicea, or Queen Elizabeth.  He may know nothing of the affairs of his own times, and be incapable of telling you whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or the Commander-in-Chief, or the Archbishop of Canterbury is managing the national finances.  He may know nothing of science, and its discoveries,—and whether Julius Caesar won his victories with gunpowder, or the apostles had a printing press, or the sun goes round the earth, may be matters about which he has not an idea.  And yet if that very man has heard Bible truth with his ears, and believed it with his heart, he knows enough to save his soul.  He will be found at last with Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom, while his scientific fellow-creature, who has died unconverted, is lost for ever.

There is much talk in these days about science and “useful knowledge.”  But after all a knowledge of the Bible is the one knowledge that is needful and eternally useful.  A man may get to heaven without money, learning, health, or friends,—but without Bible knowledge he will never get there at all.  A man may have the mightiest of minds, and a memory stored with all that mighty mind can grasp,—and yet, if he does not know the things of the Bible, he will make shipwreck of his soul for ever.  Woe! woe! woe to the man who dies in ignorance of the Bible!

This is the Book about which I am addressing the readers of these pages today.  It is no light matter what you do with such a book.  It concerns the life of your soul.  I summon you,—I charge you to give an honest answer to my question.  What are you doing with the Bible? Do you read it? HOW READEST THOU?

3.  No Book Contains Such Important Matters

III.  In the third place, no book in existence contains such important matter as the Bible.

The time would fail me if I were to enter fully into all the great things which are to be found in the Bible, and only in the Bible.  It is not by any sketch or outline that the treasures of the Bible can be displayed.  It would be easy to fill this volume with a list of the peculiar truths it reveals, and yet the half of its riches would be left untold.

How glorious and soul-satisfying is the description it gives us of God’s plan of salvation, and the way by which our sins can be forgiven! The coming into the world of Jesus Christ, the God-man, to save sinners,—the atonement He has made by suffering in our stead, the just for the unjust,—the complete payment He has made for our sins by His own blood,—the justification of every sinner who simply believes on Jesus, the readiness of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, to receive, pardon, and save to the uttermost,—how unspeakably grand and cheering are all these truths! We should know nothing of them without the Bible.

How comforting is the account it gives us of the great Mediator of the New Testament,—the man Christ Jesus! Four times over His picture is graciously drawn before our eyes.  Four separate witnesses tell us of His miracles and His ministry,—His sayings and His doings,—His life and His death,—His power and His love,—His kindness and His patience,—His ways, His words, His works, His thoughts, His heart.  Blessed be God, there is one thing in the Bible which the most prejudiced reader can hardly fail to understand, and that is the character of Jesus Christ!

How encouraging are the examples the Bible gives us of good people! It tells us of many who were of like passions with ourselves,—men and women who had cares, crosses, families, temptations, afflictions, diseases, like ourselves, and yet “ by faith and patience inherited the promises,” and got safe home.  (Heb. vi. 12.)  It keeps back nothing in the history of these people.  Their mistakes, their infirmities, their conflicts, their experience, their prayers, their praises, their useful lives, their happy deaths,—all are fully recorded.  And it tells us the God and Saviour of these men and women still waits to be gracious, and is altogether unchanged.

How instructive are the examples the Bible gives us of bad people! It tells us of men and women who had light, and knowledge, and opportunities, like ourselves, and yet hardened their hearts, loved the world, clung to their sins, would have their own way, despised reproof, and ruined their own souls for ever.  And it warns us that the God who punished Pharaoh, and Saul, and Ahab, and Jezebel, and Judas, and Ananias and Sapphira, is a God who never alters, and that there is a hell.

How precious are the promises which the Bible contains for the use of those who love God! There is hardly any possible emergency or condition for which it has not some “word in season.”  And it tells men that God loves to be put in remembrance of these promises, and that if He has said He will do a thing, His promise shall certainly be performed.

How blessed are the hopes which the Bible holds out to the believer in Christ Jesus! Peace in the hour of death,—rest and happiness on the other side of the grave,—a glorious body in the morning of the resurrection,—a full and triumphant acquittal in the day of judgment,—an everlasting reward in the kingdom of Christ,—a joyful meeting with the Lord’s people in the day of gathering together; these, these are the future prospects of every true Christian.  They are all written in the book,—in the book which is all true.

How striking is the light which the Bible throws on the character of man! It teaches us what men may be expected to be and do in every position and station of life.  It gives us the deepest insight into the secret springs and motives of human actions, and the ordinary course of events under the control of human agents.  It is the true “discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  (Heb. iv. 12.)  How deep is the wisdom contained in the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes! I can well understand an old divine saying, “Give me a candle and a Bible, and shut me up in a dark dungeon, and I will tell you all that the whole world is doing.”

All these are things which men could find nowhere except in the Bible.  We have probably not the least idea how little we should know about these things if we had not the Bible.  We hardly know the value of the air we breathe, and the sun which shines on us, because we have never known what it is to be without them.  We do not value the truths on which I have been just now dwelling, because we do not realize the darkness of men to whom these truths have not been revealed.  Surely no tongue can fully tell the value of the treasures this one volume contains.  Well might old John Newton say that some books were copper books in his estimation, some were silver, and some few were gold;—but the Bible alone was like a book all made up of bank notes.

This is the Book about which I address the reader of this paper this day.  Surely it is no light matter what you are doing with the Bible.  It is no light matter in what way you are using this treasure.  I charge you, I summon you to give an honest answer to my question,—What art thou doing with the Bible?—Dost thou read it?—HOW READEST THOU?

4.  No Book Has Ever Produced Such Wonderful Effects on Mankind

IV.  In the fourth place, no book in existence has produced such wonderful effects on mankind at large as the Bible.

(a)  The Doctrines of the Bible Turned the world Upside Down

(a)  This is the Book whose doctrines turned the world upside down in the days of the Apostles.

Eighteen centuries have now passed away since God sent forth a few Jews from a remote corner of the earth, to do a work which according to man’s judgment must have seemed impossible.  He sent them forth at a time when the whole world was full of superstition, cruelty, lust, and sin.  He sent them forth to proclaim that the established religions of the earth were false and useless, and must be forsaken.  He sent them forth to persuade men to give up old habits and customs, and to live different lives.  He sent them forth to do battle with the most grovelling idolatry, with the vilest and most disgusting immorality, with vested interests, with old associations, with a bigoted

priesthood, with sneering philosophers, with an ignorant population, with bloody-minded emperors, with the whole influence of Rome.  Never was there an enterprise to all appearance more Quixotic, and less likely to succeed!

And how did He arm them for this battle? He gave them no carnal weapons.  He gave them no worldly power to compel assent, and no worldly riches to bribe belief.  He simply put the Holy Ghost into their hearts, and the Scriptures into their hands.  He simply bade them to expound and explain, to enforce and to publish the doctrines of the Bible.  The preacher of Christianity in the first century was not a man with a sword and an army to frighten people, like Mahomet,—or a man with a license to be sensual, to allure people, like the priests of the shameful idols of Hindustan.  No! he was nothing more than one holy man with one holy book.

And how did these men of one book prosper? In a few generations they entirely changed the face of society by the doctrines of the Bible.  They emptied the temples of the heathen gods.  They famished idolatry, or left it high and dry like a stranded ship.  They brought into the world a higher tone of morality between man and man.  They raised the character and position of woman.  They altered the standard of purity and decency.  They put an end to many cruel and bloody customs, such as the gladiatorial fights.—There was no stopping the change.  Persecution and opposition were useless.  One victory after another was won.  One bad thing after another melted away.  Whether men liked it or not, they were insensibly affected by the movement of the new religion, and drawn within the whirlpool of its power.  The earth shook, and their rotten refuges fell to the ground.  The flood rose, and they found themselves obliged to rise with it.  The tree of Christianity swelled and grew, and the chains they had cast round it to arrest its growth, snapped like tow.  And all this was done by the doctrines of the Bible! Talk of victories indeed! What are the victories of Alexander, and Caesar, and Marlborough, and Napoleon, and Wellington, compared with those I have just mentioned? For extent, for completeness, for results, for permanence, there are no victories like the victories of the Bible.

(b)  This Book Made the Protestant Reformation

(b)  This is the Book which turned Europe upside down in the days of the glorious Protestant Reformation.

No man can read the history of Christendom as it was five hundred years ago, and not see that darkness covered the whole professing Church of Christ, even a darkness that might be felt.  So great was the change which had come over Christianity that if an apostle had risen from the dead he would not have recognised it, and would have thought that heathenism had revived again.  The doctrines of the Gospel lay buried under a dense mass of human traditions.  Penances, and pilgrimages, and indulgences, relic-worship, and image-worship, and saint-worship, and worship of the Virgin Mary, formed the sum and substance of most people’s religion.  The Church was made an idol.  The priests and ministers of the Church usurped the place of Christ.  And by what means was all this miserable darkness cleared away? By none so much as by bringing forth once more the Bible.

It was not merely the preaching of Luther and his friends, which established Protestantism in Germany.  The grand lever which overthrew the Pope’s power in that country was Luther’s translation of the Bible into the German tongue.—It was not merely the writings of Cranmer and the English Reformers which cast down popery in England.  The seeds of the work thus carried forward were first sown by Wycliffe’s translation of the Bible many years before.—It was not merely the quarrel of Henry VIII and the Pope of Rome, which loosened the Pope’s hold on English minds.  It was the royal permission to have the Bible translated and set up in churches, so that every one who liked might read it.  Yes! it was the reading and circulation of Scripture which mainly established the cause of Protestantism in England, in Germany, and Switzerland.  Without it the people would probably have returned to their former bondage when the first reformers died.  But by the reading of the Bible the public mind became gradually leavened with the principles of true religion.  Men’s eyes became thoroughly open.  Their spiritual understandings became thoroughly enlarged.  The abominations of popery became distinctly visible.  The excellence of the pure Gospel became a rooted idea in their hearts.  It was then in vain for Popes to thunder forth excommunications.  It was useless for Kings and Queens to attempt to stop the course of Protestantism by fire and sword.  It was all too late.  The people knew too much.  They had seen the light.  They had heard the joyful sound.  They had tasted the truth.  The sun had risen on their minds.  The scales had fallen from their eyes.  The Bible had done its appointed work within them, and that work was not to be overthrown.  The people would not return to Egypt.  The clock could not be put back again.  A mental and moral revolution had been effected, and mainly effected by God’s Word.  Those are the true revolutions which the Bible effects.  What are all the revolutions recorded by Vertot,—what are all the revolutions which France and England have gone through, compared to these? No revolutions are so bloodless, none so satisfactory, none so rich in lasting results, as the revolutions accomplished by the Bible!

This is the book on which the well-being of nations has always hinged, and with which the best interests of every nation in Christendom at this moment are inseparably bound up.  Just in proportion as the Bible is honoured or not, light or darkness, morality or immorality, true religion or superstition, liberty or despotism, good laws or bad, will be found in a land.  Come with me and open the pages of history, and you will read the proofs in time past.  Read it in the history of Israel under the Kings.  How great was the wickedness that then prevailed! But who can wonder? The law of the Lord had been completely lost sight of, and was found in the days of Josiah thrown aside in a corner of the temple.  (2 Kings xxii. 8.)—Read it in the history of the Jews in our Lord Jesus Christ’s time.  How awful the picture of Scribes and Pharisees, and their religion! But who can wonder? The Scripture was “made of none effect by man’s traditions.”  (Matt. xv. 6.)—Read it in the history of the Church of Christ in the middle ages.  What can be worse than the accounts we have of its ignorance and superstition? But who can wonder? The times might well be dark, when men had not the light of the Bible.

This is the Book to which the civilized world is indebted for many of its best and most praise-worthy institutions.  Few probably are aware how many are the good things that men have adopted for the public benefit, of which the origin may be clearly traced up to the Bible.  It has left lasting marks wherever it has been received.  From the Bible are drawn many of the best laws by which society is kept in order.  From the Bible has been obtained the standard of morality about truth, honesty, and the relations of man and wife, which prevails among Christian nations, and which,—however feebly respected in many cases,—makes so great a difference between Christians and heathen.  To the Bible we are indebted for that most merciful provision for the poor man, the Sabbath day.  To the influence of the Bible we owe nearly every humane and charitable institution in existence.  The sick, the poor, the aged, the orphan, the lunatic, the idiot, the blind, were seldom or never thought of before the Bible leavened the world.  You may search in vain for any record of institutions for their aid in the histories of Athens or of Rome.  Alas! there are many who sneer at the Bible, and say the world would get on well enough without it, who little think how great are their own obligations to the Bible.  Little does the infidel workman think, as he lies sick in some of our great hospitals, that he owes all his present comforts to the very book he affects to despise.  Had it not been for the Bible, he might have died in misery, uncared for, unnoticed and alone.  Verily the world we live in is fearfully unconscious of its debts.  The last day alone, I believe, will tell the full amount of benefit conferred upon it by the Bible.

This wonderful book is the subject about which I address the reader of this paper this day.  Surely it is no light matter what you are doing with the Bible.  The swords of conquering Generals,—the ship in which Nelson led the fleets of England to victory,—the hydraulic press which raised the tubular bridge at the Menai—each and all of these are objects of interest as instruments of mighty power.  The Book I speak of this day is an instrument a thousand-fold mightier still.  Surely it is no light matter whether you are paying it the attention it deserves.  I charge you, I summon you to give me an honest answer this day,—What art thou doing with the Bible? Dost thou read it? HOW READEST THOU?

5.  No Book Can Do So Much for Those who Read It Rightly

V.  In the fifth place, no book in existence can do so much for every one who reads it rightly as the Bible.

The Bible does not profess to teach the wisdom of this world.  It was not written to explain geology or astronomy.  It will neither instruct you in mathematics, nor in natural philosophy.  It will not make you a doctor, or a lawyer, or an engineer.

But there is another world to be thought of, beside that world in which man now lives.  There are other ends for which man was created, beside making money and working.  There are other interests which he is meant to attend to, beside those of his body, and those interests are the interests of his soul.  It is the interests of the immortal soul which the Bible is especially able to promote.  If you would know law, you may study Blackstone or Sugden.  If you would know astronomy or geology, you may study Herschel and Lyell.  But if you would know how to have your soul saved, you must study the written Word of God.

The Bible is “able to make a man wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”  (2 Tim. iii. 15.)  It can show you the way which leads to heaven.  It can teach you everything you need to know, point out everything you need to believe, and explain everything you need to do.  It can show you what you are,—a sinner.  It can show you what God is,—perfectly holy.  It can show you the great giver of pardon, peace, and grace,—Jesus Christ.  I have read of an Englishman who visited Scotland in the days of Blair, Rutherford, and Dickson, three famous preachers,—and heard all three in succession.  He said that the first showed him the majesty of God,—the second showed him the beauty of Christ,—and the third showed him all his heart.  It is the glory and beauty of the Bible that it is always teaching these three things more or less, from the first chapter of it to the last.

The Bible applied to the heart by the Holy Ghost, is the grand instrument by which souls are first converted to God.  That mighty change is generally begun by some text or doctrine of the Word, brought home to a man’s conscience.  In this way the Bible has worked moral miracles by thousands.  It has made drunkards become sober, unchaste people become pure,—thieves become honest; and violent-tempered people become meek.  It has wholly altered the course of men’s lives.  It has caused their old things to pass away, and made all their ways new.  It has taught worldly people to seek first the kingdom of God.  It has taught lovers of pleasure to become lovers of God.  It has taught the stream of men’s affections to run upwards instead of running downwards.  It has made men think of heaven, instead of always thinking of earth, and live by faith, instead of living by sight.  All this it has done in every part of the world.

All this it is doing still.  What are the Romish miracles which weak men believe, compared to all this, even if they were true? Those are the truly great miracles which are yearly worked by the Word.

The Bible applied to the heart by the Holy Ghost, is the chief means by which men are built up and established in the faith, after their conversion.  It is able to cleanse them, to sanctify them, to instruct them in righteousness, and to furnish them thoroughly for all good works.  (Psalm cxix. 9; John xvii. 17; 2 Tim. iii. 16, 17.)  The Spirit ordinarily does these things by the written Word; sometimes by the Word read, and sometimes by the Word preached, but seldom, if ever, without the Word.  The Bible can show a believer how to walk in this world so as to please God.  It can teach him how to glorify Christ in all the relations of life, and can make him a good master, servant, subject, husband, father, or son.  It can enable him to bear afflictions and privations without murmuring, and say, “It is well.”  It can enable him to look down into the grave, and say, “I fear no evil.”  (Psalm xxiii. 4.)  It can enable him to think on judgment and eternity, and not feel afraid.  It can enable him to bear persecution without flinching, and to give up liberty and life rather than deny Christ’s, truth.  Is he drowsy in soul? It can awaken him.—Is he mourning? It can comfort him.—Is he erring? It can restore him.—Is he weak? It can make him strong.—Is he in company? It can keep him from evil.—Is he alone? It can talk with him.—(Prov. vi. 22.)  All this the Bible can do for all believers, for the least as well as the greatest,—for the richest as well as the poorest.  It has done it for thousands already, and is doing it for thousands every day.

The man who has the Bible, and the Holy Spirit in his heart, has everything which is absolutely needful to make him spiritually wise.  He needs no priest to break the bread of life for him.  He needs no ancient traditions, no writings of the Fathers, no voice of the Church, to guide him into all truth.  He has the well of truth open before him, and what can he want more? Yes! though he be shut up alone in a prison, or cast on a desert island, though he never see a church, or minister, or sacrament again,—if he has but the Bible, he has got the infallible guide, and wants no other.  If he has but the will to read that Bible rightly, it will certainly teach him the road that leads to heaven.  It is here alone that infallibility resides.  It is not in the Church.  It is not in the Councils.  It is not in ministers.  It is only in the written Word.

(a)  The Bible’s Saving Power

(a)  I know well that many say they have found no saving power in the Bible.  They tell us they have tried to read it, and have learned nothing from it.  They can see in it nothing but hard and deep things.  They ask us what we mean by talking of its power.

I answer, that the Bible no doubt contains hard things, or else it would not be the book of God.  It contains things hard to comprehend, but only hard because we have not grasp of mind to comprehend them.  It contains things above our reasoning powers, but nothing that might not be explained if the eyes of our understanding were not feeble and dim.  But is not an acknowledgment of our own ignorance the very corner-stone and foundation of all knowledge? Must not many things be taken for granted in the beginning of every science, before we can proceed one step towards acquaintance with it? Do we not require our children to learn many things of which they cannot see the meaning at first? And ought we not then to expect to find “deep things” when we begin studying the Word of God, and yet to believe that if we persevere in reading it the meaning of many of them will one day be made clear? No doubt we ought so to expect, and so to believe.  We must read with humility.  We must take much on trust.  We must believe that what we know not now, we shall know hereafter; some part in this world, and all in the world to come.

But I ask that man who has given up reading the Bible because it contains hard things, whether he did not find many things in it easy and plain? I put it to his conscience whether he did not see great landmarks and principles in it all the way through? I ask him whether the things needful to salvation did not stand out boldly before his eyes, like the light-houses on English headlands from the Land’s-end to the mouth of the Thames.  What should we think of the captain of a steamer who brought up at night in the entrance of the Channel, on the plea that he did not know every parish, and village, and creek, along the British coast? Should we not think him a lazy coward, when the lights on the Lizard, and Eddystone, and the Start, and Portland, and St. Catherine’s, and Beachy Head, and Dungeness, and the Forelands, were shining forth like so many lamps, to guide him up to the river? Should we not say, Why did you not steer by the great leading lights? And what ought we to say to the man who gives up reading the Bible because it contains hard things, when his own state, and the path to heaven, and the way to serve God, are all written down clearly and unmistakably, as with a sunbeam? Surely we ought to tell that man that his objections are no better than lazy excuses, and do not deserve to be heard.

(b)  Some Read and Are Not Changed

(b)  I know well that many raise the objection, that thousands read the Bible and are not a whit the better for their reading.  And they ask us, when this is the case, what becomes of the Bible’s boasted power?

I answer, that the reason why so many read the Bible without benefit is plain and simple;—they do not read it in the right way.  There is generally a right way and a wrong way of doing everything in the world; and just as it is with other things, so it is in the matter of reading the Bible.  The Bible is not so entirely different from all other books as to make it of no importance in what spirit and manner you read it.  It does not do good, as a matter of course, by merely running our eyes over the print, any more than the sacraments do good by mere virtue of our receiving them.  It does not ordinarily do good, unless it is read with humility and earnest prayer.  The best steam-engine that was ever built is useless if a man does not know how to work it.  The best sun-dial that was ever constructed will not tell its owner the time of day if he is so ignorant as to put it up in the shade.  Just as it is with that steam-engine, and that sun-dial, so it is with the Bible.  When men read it without profit, the fault is not in the Book, but in themselves.

I tell the man who doubts the power of the Bible, because many read it, and are no better for the reading, that the abuse of a thing is no argument against the use of it.  I tell him boldly, that never did man or woman read that book in a childlike persevering spirit, like the Ethiopian eunuch, and the Bereans (Acts viii. 28; xvii. 11),—and miss the way to heaven.  Yes, many a broken cistern will be exposed to shame in the day of judgment; but there will not rise up one soul who will be able to say, that he went thirsting to the Bible, and found in it no living water,—he searched for truth in the Scriptures, and searching, did not find it.  The words which are spoken of Wisdom in the Proverbs are strictly true of the Bible: “ If, thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.”  (Prov. ii. 3, 4, 5.)

This wonderful Book is the subject about which I address the readers of this paper this day.  Surely it is no light matter what you are doing with the Bible.  What should you think of the man who in time of cholera despised a sure receipt for preserving the health of his body? What must be thought of you if you despise the only sure receipt for the everlasting health of your soul? I charge you, I entreat you, to give an honest answer to my question.  What dost thou do with the Bible?—Dost thou read it?—HOW READEST THOU?

6.  Bible the Only Standard by which All Doctrines Are Tested

VI.  In the sixth place, the Bible is the only rule by which all questions of doctrine or of duty can be tried.

The Lord God knows the weakness and infirmity of our poor fallen understandings.  He knows that, even after conversion, our perceptions of right and wrong are exceedingly indistinct.  He knows how artfully Satan can gild error with an appearance of truth, and can dress up wrong with plausible arguments, till it looks like right.  Knowing all this, He has mercifully provided us with an unerring standard of truth and error, right and wrong, and has taken care to make that standard a written book,—even the Scripture.

No one can look round the world, and not see the wisdom of such a provision.  No one can live long, and not find out that he is constantly in need of a counselor and adviser,—of a rule of faith and practice, on which he can depend.  Unless he lives like a beast, without a soul and conscience, he will find himself constantly assailed by difficult and puzzling questions.  He will be often asking himself, What must I believe? and what must I do?

(a)  Difficulties about Doctrine

(a)  The world is full of difficulties about points of doctrine.  The house of error lies close alongside the house of truth.  The door of one is so like the door of the other that there is continual risk of mistakes.

Does a man read or travel much? He will soon find the most opposite opinions prevailing among those who are called Christians.  He will discover that different persons give the most different answers to the important question, What shall I do to be saved? The Roman Catholic and the Protestant,—the Neologian and the Tractarian,—the Mormonite and the Swedenborgian, each and all will assert that he alone has the truth.  Each and all will tell him that safety is only to be found in his party.  Each and all say, “Come with us.”  All this is puzzling.  What shall a man do?

Does he settle down quietly in some English or Scotch parish? He will soon find that even in our own land the most conflicting views are held.  He will soon discover that there are serious differences among Christians as to the comparative importance of the various parts and articles of the faith.  One man thinks of nothing but Church government,—another of nothing but sacraments, services, and forms,—a third of nothing but preaching the Gospel.  Does he apply to ministers for a solution? He will perhaps find one minister teaching one doctrine, and another another.  All this is puzzling.  What shall a man do?

There is only one answer to this question.  A man must make the Bible alone his rule.  He must receive nothing, and believe nothing, which is not according to the Word.  He must try all religious teaching by one simple test,—Does it square with the Bible? What saith the Scripture? I would to God the eyes of the laity of this country were more open on this subject.

I would to God they would learn to weigh sermons, books, opinions, and ministers, in the scales of the Bible, and to value all according to their conformity to the Word.  I would to God they would see that it matters little who says a thing, whether he be Father or Reformer,—Bishop or Archbishop,—Priest or Deacon,—Archdeacon or Dean.  The only question is,—Is the thing said Scriptural? If it is, it ought to be received and believed.  If it is not, it ought to be refused and cast aside.  I fear the consequences of that servile acceptance of everything which “the parson” says, which is so common among many English laymen.  I fear lest they be led they know not whither, like the blinded Syrians, and awake some day to find themselves in the power of Rome.  (2 Kings vi. 20.)  Oh, that men in England would only remember for what purpose the Bible was given them.

I tell English laymen that it is nonsense to say, as some do, that it is presumptuous to judge a minister’s teaching by the Word.  When one doctrine is proclaimed in one parish, and another in another, people must read and judge for themselves.  Both doctrines cannot be right, and both ought to be tried by the Word.  I charge them, above all things, never to suppose that any true minister of the Gospel will dislike his people measuring all he teaches by the Bible.  On the contrary, the more they read the Bible, and prove all he says by the Bible, the better he will be pleased.  A false minister may say, “You have no right to use your private judgment: leave the Bible to us who are ordained.”  A true minister will say, “Search the Scriptures, and if I do not teach you what is Scriptural, do not believe me.”  A false minister may cry, “Hear the Church,” and “Hear me.”  A true minister will say, “Hear the Word of God.”

(b)  Difficulties about Practice

(b)  But the world is not only full of difficulties about points of doctrine; it is equally full of difficulties about points of practice.  Every professing Christian, who wishes to act conscientiously, must know that it is so.  The most puzzling questions are continually arising.  He is tried on every side by doubts as to the line of duty, and can often hardly see what is the right thing to do.

He is tried by questions connected with the management of his worldly calling, if he is in business or in trade.  He sometimes sees things going on of a very doubtful character,—things that can hardly be called fair, straightforward, truthful, and doing as you would be done by.  But then everybody in the trade does these things.  They have always been done in the most respectable houses.  There would be no carrying on a profitable business if they were not done.  They are not things distinctly named and prohibited by God.  All this is very puzzling.  What is a man to do?

He is tried by questions about worldly amusements.  Races, and balls, and operas, and theatres, and card parties, are all very doubtful methods of spending time.  But then he sees numbers of great people taking part in them.  Are all these people wrong? Can there really be such mighty harm in these things? All this is very puzzling.  What is a man to do?

He is tried by questions about the education of his children.  He wishes to train them up morally and religiously, and to remember their souls.  But he is told by many sensible people, that young persons will be young,—that it does not do to check and restrain them too much, and that he ought to attend pantomimes and children’s parties, and give children’s balls himself.  He is informed that this nobleman, or that lady of rank, always does so, and yet they are reckoned religious people.  Surely it cannot be wrong.  All this is very puzzling.  What is he to do?

There is only one answer to all these questions.  A man must make the Bible his rule of conduct.  He must make its leading principles the compass by which he steers his course through life.  By the letter or spirit of the Bible he must test every difficult point and question.  “To the law and to the testimony! What saith the Scripture?”  He ought to care nothing for what other people may think right.  He ought not to set his watch by the clock of his neighbour, but by the sun-dial of the Word.

I charge my readers solemnly to act on the maxim I have just laid down, and to adhere to it rigidly all the days of their lives.  You will never repent of it.  Make it a leading principle never to act contrary to the Word.  Care not for the charge of over-strictness, and needless precision.  Remember you serve a strict and holy God.  Listen not to the common objection, that the rule you have laid down is impossible, and cannot be observed in such a world as this.  Let those who make such an objection speak out plainly, and tell us for what purpose the Bible was given to man.  Let them remember that by the Bible we shall all be judged at the last day, and let them learn to judge themselves by it here, lest they be judged and condemned by it hereafter.

This mighty rule of faith and practice is the book about which I am addressing the readers of this paper this day.  Surely it is no light matter what you are doing with the Bible.  Surely when danger is abroad on the right hand and on the left, you should consider what you are doing with the safe-guard which God has provided.  I charge you, I beseech you, to give an honest answer to my question.  What art thou doing with the Bible?—Dost thou read it? HOW READEST THOU?

7.  Bible Is Only Book by which All True Servants of God Have Lived by

VII.  In the seventh place, the Bible is the book which all true servants of God have always lived on and loved.  Every living thing which God creates requires food.  The life that God imparts needs sustaining and nourishing.  It is so with animal and vegetable life,—with birds, beasts, fishes, reptiles, insects, and plants.  It is equally so with spiritual life.  When the Holy Ghost raises a man from the death of sin and makes him a new creature in Christ Jesus, the new principle in that man’s heart requires food, and the only food which will sustain it is the Word of God.

There never was a man or woman truly converted, from one end of the world to the other, who did not love the revealed will of God.  Just as a child born into the world desires naturally the milk provided for its nourishment, so does a soul “born again” desire the sincere milk of the Word.  This is a common mark of all the children of God—they “delight in the law of the Lord.”  (Psalm. i. 2.)   Show me a person who despises Bible reading, or thinks little of Bible preaching, and I hold it to be a certain fact that he is not yet “born again.”  He may be zealous about forms and ceremonies.  He may be diligent in attending sacraments and daily services.  But if these things are more precious to him than the Bible, I cannot think he is a converted man.  Tell me what the Bible is to a man, and I will generally tell you what he is.  This is the pulse to try,-this is the barometer to look at,—if we would know the state of the heart.  I have no notion of the Spirit dwelling in a man and not giving clear evidence of His presence.  And I believe it to be a signal evidence of the Spirit’s presence when the Word is really precious to a man’s soul.

Love to the Word is one of the characteristics we see in Job.  Little as we know of this Patriarch and his age, this at least stands out clearly.  He says, “I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.”  (Job xxiii. 12.)

Love to the Word is a shining feature in the character of David.  Mark how it appears all through that wonderful part of Scripture, the cxixth Psalm.  He might well say, “ Oh, how I love thy law!” (Psalm cxix. 97.)

Love to the Word is a striking point in the character of St. Paul.  What were he and his companions but men “mighty in the Scriptures?”  What were his sermons but expositions and applications of the Word?

Love to the Word appears pre-eminently in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  He read it publicly.  He quoted it continually.  He expounded it frequently.  He advised the Jews to “search” it.  He used it as His weapon to resist the devil.  He said repeatedly, “The Scripture must be fulfilled.”—Almost the last thing He did was to “open the understanding of His disciples, that they might understand the Scriptures.”  (Luke xxiv. 45.)   I am afraid that man can be no true servant of Christ, who has not something of his Master’s mind and feeling towards the Bible.

Love to the Word has been a prominent feature in the history of all the saints, of whom we know anything, since the days of the Apostles.  This is the lamp which Athanasius and Chrysostom and Augustine followed.  This is the compass which kept the Waldenses and Albigenses from making shipwreck of the faith.  This is the well which was re-opened by Wycliffe and Luther, after it had been long stopped up.  This is the sword with which Latimer, and Jewell, and Knox won their victories.  This is the manna which fed Baxter and Owen, and the noble host of the Puritans, and made them strong to battle.  This is the armoury from which Whitefield and Wesley drew their powerful weapons.  This is the mine from which Bickersteth and M’Cheyne brought forth rich gold.  Differing as these holy men—did in some matters, on one point they were all agreed,—they all delighted in the Word.

Love to the Word is one of the first things that appears in the converted heathen, at the various Missionary stations throughout the world.  In hot climates and in cold,—among savage people and among civilized,—in New Zealand, in the South Sea Islands, in Africa, in Hindustan,—it is always the same.  They enjoy hearing it read.  They long to be able to read it themselves.  They wonder why Christians did not send it to them before.  How striking is the picture which Moffat draws of Africaner, the fierce South African chieftain, when first brought under the power of the Gospel! “Often have I seen him,” he says, “under the shadow of a great rock nearly the live-long day, eagerly perusing the pages of the Bible.”—How touching is the expression of a poor converted Negro, speaking of the Bible! He said, “It is never old and never cold.”—How affecting was the language of another old negro, when some would have dissuaded him from learning to read, because of his great age.  “No!” he said, “I will never give it up till I die.  It is worth all the labour to be able to read that one verse, ‘God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.’”

Love to the Bible is one of the grand points of agreement among all converted men and women in our own land.  Episcopalians and Presbyterians, Baptists and Independents, Methodists and Plymouth Brethren,—all unite in honouring the Bible, as soon as they are real Christians.  This is the manna which all the tribes of our Israel feed upon, and find satisfying food.  This is the fountain round which all the various portions of Christ’s flock meet together, and from which no sheep goes thirsty away.  Oh, that believers in this country would learn to cleave more closely to the written Word! Oh, that they would see that the more the Bible, and the Bible only, is the substance of men’s religion, the more they agree.  It is probable there never was an uninspired book more universally admired than Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.  It is a book which all denominations of Christians delight to honour.  It has won praise from all parties.  Now what a striking fact it is, that the author was pre-eminently a man of one book! He had read hardly anything but the Bible.

It is a blessed thought that there will be “much people” in heaven at last.  Few as the Lord’s people undoubtedly are at any one given time or place, yet all gathered together at last, they will be “a multitude that no man can number.”  (Rev. vii. 9; xix. 1.)   They will be of one heart and mind.  They will have passed through like experience.  They will all have repented, believed, lived holy, prayerful, and humble.  They will all have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.  But one thing beside all this they will have in common: they will all love the texts and doctrines of the Bible.  The Bible will have been their food and delight in the days of their pilgrimage on earth.  And the Bible will be a common subject of joyful meditation and retrospect, when they are gathered together in heaven.

This Book, which all true Christians live upon and love, is the subject about which I am addressing the readers of this paper this day.  Surely it is no light matter what you are doing with the Bible.  Surely it is matter for serious inquiry, whether you know anything of this love to the Word, and have this mark of walking “in the footsteps of the flock.”  (Cant. i. 8.)   I charge you, I entreat you to give me an honest answer.  What art thou doing with the Bible?—Dost thou read it?—HOW READEST THOU?

8.  Bible Is the Only Book that can Comfort in the Last Hours of Life

VIII.  In the last place; the Bible is the only book which can comfort a man in the last hours of his life.  Death is an event which in all probability is before us all.  There is no avoiding it.  It is the river which each of us must cross.  I who write, and you who read, have each one day to die.  It is good to remember this.  We are all sadly apt to put away the subject from us.  “Each man thinks each man mortal but himself.”  I want every one to do his duty in life, but I also want every one to think of death.  I want every one to know how to live, but I also want every one to know how to die.

Death is a solemn event to all.  It is the winding up of all earthly plans and expectations.  It is a separation from all we have loved and lived with.  It is often accompanied by much bodily pain and distress.  It brings us to the grave, the worm, and corruption.  It opens the door to judgment and eternity,—to heaven or to hell.  It is an event after which there is no change, or space for repentance.  Other mistakes may be corrected or retrieved, but not a mistake on our death-beds.  As the tree falls, there it must lie.  No conversion in the coffin! No new birth after we have ceased to breathe! And death is before us all.  It may be close at hand.  The time of our departure is quite uncertain.  But sooner or later we must each lie down alone and die.  All these are serious considerations.

Death is a solemn event even to the believer in Christ.  For him no doubt the “sting of death” is taken away.  (1 Cor. xv. 55.)   Death has become one of his privileges, for he is Christ’s.  Living or dying, he is the Lord’s.  If he lives, Christ lives in him; and if he dies, he goes to live with Christ.  To him “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”  (Phil. i. 21.)   Death frees him from many trials,—from a weak body, a corrupt heart, a tempting devil, and an ensnaring or persecuting world.  Death admits him to the enjoyment of many blessings.  He rests from his labours: the hope of a joyful resurrection is changed into a certainty:—he has the company of holy redeemed spirits: he is “with Christ.”  All this is true, and yet, even to a believer, death is a solemn thing.  Flesh and blood naturally shrink from it.  To part from all we love is a wrench and trial to the feelings.  The world we go to is a world unknown, even though it is our home.  Friendly and harmless as death is to a believer, it is not an event to be treated lightly.  It always must be a very solemn thing.

It becomes every thoughtful and sensible man to consider calmly how he is going to meet death.  Gird up your loins, like a man, and look the subject in the face.  Listen to me, while I tell you a few things about the end to which we are coming.

The good things of the world cannot comfort a man when he draws near death.  All the gold of California and Australia will not provide light for the dark valley.  Money can buy the best medical advice and attendance for a man’s body; but money cannot buy peace for his conscience, heart, and soul.

Relatives, loved friends, and servants, cannot comfort a man when he draws near death.  They may minister affectionately to his bodily wants.  They may watch by his bed-side tenderly, and anticipate his every wish.  They may smooth down his dying pillow, and support his sinking frame in their arms.  But they cannot “minister to a mind diseased.”  They cannot stop the achings of a troubled heart.  They cannot screen an uneasy conscience from the eye of God.

The pleasures of the world cannot comfort a man when he draws near death.  The brilliant ball-room; the merry dance,—the midnight revel,—the party to Epsom races, the card table,—the box at the opera,—the voices of singing men and singing women,—all these are at length distasteful things.  To hear of hunting and shooting engagements gives him no pleasure.  To be invited to feasts, and regattas, and fancy-fairs, gives him no ease.  He cannot hide from himself that these are hollow, empty, powerless things.  They jar upon the ear of his conscience.  They are out of harmony with his condition.  They cannot stop one gap in his heart, when the last enemy is coming in like a flood.  They cannot make him calm in the prospect of meeting a holy God.

Books and newspapers cannot comfort a man when he draws near death.  The most brilliant writings of Macaulay or Dickens will pall on his ear.  The most able article in the Times will fail to interest him.  The Edinburgh and Quarterly Reviews will give him no pleasure.  Punch and the Illustrated News, and the last new novel, will lie unopened and unheeded.  Their time will be past.  Their vocation will be gone.  Whatever they may be in health, they are useless in the hour of death.

There is but one fountain of comfort for a man drawing near to his end, and that is the Bible.  Chapters out of the Bible,—texts out of the Bible,—statements of truth taken out of the Bible, books containing matter drawn from the Bible,—these are a man’s only chance of comfort when he comes to die.  I do not at all say that the Bible will do good, as a matter of course, to a dying man, if he has not valued it before.  I know, unhappily, too much of death-beds to say that.  I do not say whether it is probable that he who has been unbelieving and neglectful of the Bible in life, will at once believe and get comfort from it in death.  But I do say positively, that no dying man will ever get real comfort, except from the contents of the Word of God.  All comfort from any other source is a house built upon sand.

I lay this down as a rule of universal application.  I make no exception in favour of any class on earth.  Kings and poor men, learned and unlearned,—all are on a level in this matter.  There is not a jot of real consolation for any dying man, unless he gets it from the Bible.  Chapters, passages, texts, promises, and doctrines of Scripture,—heard, received, believed, and rested on,—these are the only comforters I dare promise to any one, when he leaves the world.  Taking the sacrament will do a man no more good than the Popish extreme unction, so long as the Word is not received and believed.  Priestly absolution will no more ease the conscience than the incantations of a heathen magician, if the poor dying sinner does not receive and believe Bible truth.  I tell every one who reads this paper, that although men may seem to get on comfortably without the Bible while they live, they may be sure that without the Bible they cannot comfortably die.  It was a true confession of the learned Selden,—“There is no book upon which we can rest in a dying moment but the Bible.”

I might easily confirm all I have just said by examples and illustrations.  I might show you the death-beds of men who have affected to despise the Bible.  I might tell you how Voltaire and Paine, the famous infidels, died in misery, bitterness, rage, fear, and despair.  I might show you the happy death-beds of those who have loved the Bible and believed it, and the blessed effect the sight of their death-beds had on others.  Cecil,—a minister whose praise ought to be in all churches,—says, “I shall never forget standing by the bed-side of my dying mother.  ‘Are you afraid to die?’ I asked.—‘No!’ she replied: ‘But why does the uncertainty of another state give you no concern?’——‘Because God has said, Fear not; when thou passest through the waters I will be with thee, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee.’” (Isa. xliii. 2.)   I might easily multiply illustrations of this kind.  But I think it better to conclude this part of my subject by giving the result of my own observations as a minister.

I have seen not a few dying persons in my time.  I have seen great varieties of manner and deportment among them.  I have seen some die sullen, silent, and comfortless.  I have seen others die ignorant, unconcerned, and apparently without much fear.  I have seen some die so wearied out with long illness that they were quite willing to depart, and yet they did not seem to me at all in a fit state to go before God.  I have seen others die with professions of hope and trust in God, without leaving satisfactory evidences that they were on the rock.  I have seen others die who, I believe, were “in Christ,” and safe, and yet they never seemed to enjoy much sensible comfort.  I have seen some few dying in the full assurance of hope, and like Bunyan’s “Standfast,” giving glorious testimony to Christ’s faithfulness, even in the river.  But one thing I have never seen.  I never saw any one enjoy what I should call real, solid, calm, reasonable peace on his death bed, who did not draw his peace from the Bible.  And this I am bold to say, that the man who thinks to go to his death-bed without having the Bible for his comforter, his companion, and his friend, is one of the greatest madmen in the world.  There are no comforts for the soul but Bible comforts, and he who has not got hold of these, has got hold of nothing at all, unless it be a broken reed.

The only comforter for a death-bed is the book about which I address the readers of this paper this day.  Surely it is no light matter whether you read that book or not.  Surely a dying man, in a dying world, should seriously consider whether he has got anything to comfort him when his turn comes to die.  I charge you, I entreat you, for the last time, to give an honest answer to my question.  What art thou doing with the Bible?—Dost thou read it? —HOW READEST THOU?

I have now given the reasons why I press on every reader the duty and importance of reading the Bible.  I have shown that no book is written in such a manner as the Bible,—that knowledge of the Bible is absolutely necessary to salvation,—that no book contains such matter,—that no book has done so much for the world generally,—that no book can do so much for every one who reads it aright,—that this book is the only rule of faith and practice,—that it is, and always has been, the food of all true servants of God,—and that it is the only book which can comfort men when they die.  All these are ancient things.  I do not pretend to tell anything new.  I have only gathered together old truths, and tried to mould them into a new shape.  Let me finish all by addressing a few plain words to the conscience of every class of readers.

9.  Exhortations Regarding the Bible

(1)  If You Never Read the Bible

(1)  This paper may fall into the hands of some who can read, but never do read the Bible at all.  Are you one of them? If you are, I have something to say to you.

I cannot comfort you in your present state of mind.  It would be mockery and deceit to do so.  I cannot speak to you of peace and heaven, while you treat the Bible as you do.   You are in danger of losing your soul.

You are in danger, because your neglected Bible is a plain evidence that you do not love God.   The health of a man’s body may generally be known by his appetite.  The health of a man’s soul may be known by his treatment of the Bible.  Now you are manifestly labouring under a sore disease.  Will you not repent?

I know I cannot reach your heart.  I cannot make you see and feel these things.  I can only enter my solemn protest against your present treatment of the Bible, and lay that protest before your conscience.  I do so with all my soul.  Oh, beware lest you repent too late! Beware lest you put off reading the Bible till you send for the doctor in your last illness, and then find the Bible a sealed book, and dark, as the cloud between the hosts of Israel and Egypt, to your anxious soul! Beware lest you go on saying all your life, “Men do very well without all this Bible-reading,” and find at length, to your cost, that men do very ill, and end in hell! Beware lest the day come when you will feel, “Had I but honoured the Bible as much as I have honoured the newspaper, I should not have been left without comfort in my last hours! “Bible neglecting reader, I give you a plain warning.  The plague-cross is at present on your door.  The Lord have mercy upon your soul!

(2)  Advice on Reading the Bible

(2)  This paper may fall into the hands of someone who is willing to begin reading the Bible, but wants advice on the subject.  Are you that man? Listen to me, and I will give a few short hints.

(a)  For one thing, begin reading your Bible this very day.  The way to do a thing is to do it, and the way to read the Bible is actually to read it.  It is not meaning, or wishing, or resolving, or intending, or thinking about it, which will advance you one step.  You must positively read.  There is no royal road in this matter, any more than in the matter of prayer.  If you cannot read yourself, you must persuade somebody else to read to you.  But one way or another, through eyes or ears, the words of Scripture must actually pass before your mind.

(b)  For another thing, read the Bible with an earnest desire to understand it.  Think not for a moment that the great object is to turn over a certain quantity of printed paper, and that it matters nothing whether you understand it or not.  Some ignorant people seem to fancy that all is done if they clear off so many chapters every day, though they may not have a notion what they are all about, and only know that they have pushed on their mark so many leaves.  This is turning Bible reading into a mere form.  It is almost as bad as the Popish habit of buying indulgences, by saying an almost fabulous number of ave-marias and paternosters.  It reminds one of the poor Hottentot who ate up a Dutch hymn-book because he saw it comforted his neighbours’ hearts.  Settle it down in your mind as a general principle, that a Bible not understood is a Bible that does no good.  Say to yourself often as you read, “What is all this about?”  Dig for the meaning like a man digging for Australian gold.  Work hard, and do not give up the work in a hurry.

(c)  For another thing, read the Bible with child-like faith and humility.  Open your heart as you open your book, and say, “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.”  Resolve to believe implicitly whatever you find there, however much it may run counter to your own prejudices.  Resolve to receive heartily every statement of truth, whether you like it or not.  Beware of that miserable habit of mind into which some readers of the Bible fall.  They receive some doctrines because they like them: they reject others because they are condemning to themselves, or to some lover, or relation, or friend.  At this rate the Bible is useless.  Are we to be judges of what ought to be in the Word? Do we know better than God? Settle it down in your mind that you will receive all and believe all, and that what you cannot understand you will take on trust.  Remember, when you pray, you are speaking to God, and God hears you.  But, remember, when you read, God is speaking to you, and you are not to “answer again,” but to listen.

(d)  For another thing, read the Bible in a spirit of obedience and self-application.  Sit down to the study of it with a daily determination that you will live by its rules, rest on its statements, and act on its commands.  Consider, as you travel through every chapter, “How does this affect my position and course of conduct? What does this teach me?”  It is poor work to read the Bible from mere curiosity, and for speculative purposes, in order to fill your head and store your mind with opinions, while you do not allow the book to influence your heart and life.  That Bible is read best which is practised most.

(e)  For another thing, read the Bible daily.  Make it a part of every day’s business to read and meditate on some portion of God’s Word.  Private means of grace are just as needful every day for our souls as food and clothing are for our bodies.  Yesterday’s bread will not feed the labourer today, and today’s bread will not feed the labourer tomorrow.  Do as the Israelites did in the wilderness.  Gather your manna fresh every morning.  Choose your own seasons and hours.  Do not scramble over and hurry your reading.  Give your Bible the best, and not the worst part of your time.  But whatever plan you pursue, let it be a rule of your life to visit the throne of grace and the Bible every day.

(f)  For another thing, read all the Bible, and read it in an orderly way.  I fear there are many parts of the Word which some people never read at all.  This is to say the least, a very presumptuous habit.  “All Scripture is profitable.”  (2 Tim. iii. 16.)   To this habit maybe traced that want of broad, well-proportioned views of truth, which is so common in this day.  Some people’s Bible-reading is a system of perpetual dipping and picking.  They do not seem to have an idea of regularly going through the whole book.

This also is a great mistake.  No doubt in times of sickness and affliction it is allowable to search out seasonable portions.  But with this exception, I believe it is by far the best plan to begin the Old and New Testaments at the same time,—to read each straight through to the end, and then begin again.  This is a matter in which every one must be persuaded in his own mind.  I can only say it has been my own plan for nearly forty years, and I have never seen cause to alter it.

(g)  For another thing, read the Bible fairly and honestly.  Determine to take everything in its plain, obvious meaning, and regard all forced interpretations with great suspicion.  As a general rule, whatever a verse of the Bible seems to mean, it does mean.  Cecil’s rule is a very valuable one, “The right way of interpreting Scripture is to take it as we find it, without any attempt to force it into any particular system.”   Well said Hooker, “I hold it for a most infallible rule in the exposition of Scripture, that when a literal construction will stand, the furthest from the literal is commonly the worst”

(h)  In the last place, read the Bible with Christ continually in view.  The grand primary object of all Scripture is to testify of Jesus.  Old Testament ceremonies are shadows of Christ.  Old Testament judges and deliverers are types of Christ.  Old Testament prophecies are full of Christ’s sufferings, and of Christ’s glory yet to come.  The first advent and the second,—the Lord’s humiliation and the Lord’s kingdom,—the cross and the crown, shine forth everywhere in the Bible.  Keep fast hold on this clue, if you would read the Bible aright.

I might easily add to these hints, if space permitted.  Few and short as they are, you will find them worth attention.  Act upon them, and I firmly believe you will never be allowed to miss the way to heaven.  Act upon them, and you will find light continually increasing in your mind.  No book of evidence can be compared with that internal evidence which he obtains who daily uses the Word in the right way.  Such a man does not need the books of learned men, like Paley, and Wilson, and M’Ilvaine.  He has the witness in himself.  The book satisfies and feeds his soul.  A poor Christian woman once said to an infidel, “I am no scholar.  I cannot argue like you.  But I know that honey is honey, because it leaves a sweet taste in my mouth.  And I know the Bible to be God’s book, because of the taste it leaves in my heart”

(3)  If You Only Read the Bible a Little

(3)  This paper may fall into the hands of some one who loves and believes the Bible, and yet reads it but little.  I fear there are many such in this day.  It is a day of bustle and hurry.  It is a day of talking, and committee meetings, and public work.  These things are all very well in their way, but I fear that they sometimes clip and cut short the private reading of the Bible.  Does your conscience tell you that you are one of the persons I speak of? Listen to me, and I will say a few things which deserve your serious attention.

You are the man that is likely to get little comfort from the Bible in time of need.  Trial is a sifting season.  Affliction is a searching wind, which strips the leaves off the trees, and brings to light the birds’ nests.  Now I fear that your stores of Bible consolations may one day run very low.  I fear lest you should find yourself at last on very short allowance, and come into harbour weak, worn and thin.

You are the man that is likely never to be established in the truth.  I shall not be surprised to hear that you are troubled with doubts and questionings about assurance, grace, faith, perseverance, and the like.  The devil is an old and cunning enemy.  Like the Benjamites, he can “throw stones at a hair-breadth, and not miss.”  (Judges xx.  16.)   He can quote Scripture readily enough when he pleases.  Now you are not sufficiently ready with your weapons to be able to fight a good fight with him.  Your armour does not fit you well.  Your sword sits loosely in your hand.

You are the man that is likely to make mistakes in life.  I shall not wonder if I am told that you have erred about your own marriage,—erred about your children’s education,-erred about the conduct of your household, erred about the company you keep.  The world you steer through is full of rocks, and shoals, and sandbanks.  You are not sufficiently familiar either with the lights or charts.

You are the man that is likely to be carried away by some specious false teacher for a season.  It will not surprise me if I hear that some one of those clever, eloquent men, who can “make the worse appear the better cause,” is leading you into many follies.  You are wanting in ballast.  No wonder if you are tossed to and fro, like a cork on the waves.

All these are uncomfortable things.  I want every reader of this paper to escape them all.  Take the advice I offer you this day.  Do not merely read your Bible” a little,” but read it a great deal.  “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.”  (Coloss. iii. 16.)  Do not be a mere babe in spiritual knowledge.  Seek to become “well instructed in the kingdom of heaven,” and to be continually adding new things to old.  A religion of feeling is an uncertain thing.  It is like the tide, sometimes high, and sometimes low.  It is like the moon, sometimes bright, and sometimes dim.  A religion of deep Bible knowledge, is a firm and lasting possession.  It enables a man not merely to say,” I feel hope in Christ,”—but “I know whom I have believed.”  (2 Tim. i. 12.)

(4)  If You Read the Bible a Lot But Don’t Think You are Being Helped

(4)  This paper may fall into the hands of some one who reads the Bible much, and yet fancies he is no better for his reading.  This is a crafty temptation of the devil.  At one stage he says, “ Do not read the Bible at all.”  At another be says, “Your reading does you no good: give it up.”  Are you that man? I feel for you from the bottom of my soul.  Let me try to do you good.

Do not think you are getting no good from the Bible, merely because you do not see that good day by day.  The greatest effects are by no means those which make the most noise, and are most easily observed.  The greatest effects are often silent, quiet, and hard to detect at the time they are being produced.  Think o£ the influence of the moon upon the earth, and of the air upon the human lungs.  Remember how silently the dew falls, and how imperceptibly the grass grows.  There may be far more doing than you think in your soul by your Bible-reading.

The Word may be gradually producing deep impressions on your heart, of which you are not at present aware.  Often when the memory is retaining no facts, the character of a man is receiving some everlasting impression.  Is sin becoming every year more hateful to you? Is Christ becoming every year more precious? Is holiness becoming every year more lovely and desirable in your eyes? If these things are so, take courage.  The Bible is doing you good, though you may not be able to trace it out day by day.

The Bible may be restraining you from some sin or delusion into which you would otherwise run.  It may be daily keeping you back, and hedging you up, and preventing many a false step.  Ah, you might soon find this out to your cost, if you were to cease reading the Word! The very familiarity of blessings sometimes makes us insensible to their value.  Resist the devil.  Settle it down in your mind as an established rule, that, whether you feel it at the moment or not, you are inhaling spiritual health by reading the Bible, and insensibly becoming more strong.

(5)  If You Love the Bible

(5)  This paper may fall into the hands of some who really love the Bible, live upon the Bible, and read it much.  Are you one of these? Give me your attention, and I will mention a few things which we shall do well to lay to heart for time to come.

Let us resolve to read the Bible more and more every year we live.  Let us try to get it rooted in our memories, and engrafted into our hearts.  Let us be thoroughly well provisioned with it against the voyage of death.  Who knows but we may have a very stormy passage? Sight and hearing may fail us, and we may be in deep waters.  Oh, to have the Word “ hid in our hearts “ in such an hour as that! (Ps. cxix. 11.)

Let us resolve to be more watchful over our Bible reading every year that we live.  Let us be jealously careful about the time we give to it, and the manner that time is spent.  Let us beware of omitting our daily reading without sufficient cause.  Let us not be gaping, and yawning, and dozing over our book, while we read.  Let us read like a London merchant studying the city article in the Times,—or like a wife reading a husband’s Letter from a distant land.  Let us be very careful that we never exalt any minister, or sermon, or book, or tract, or friend above the—Word.  Cursed be that book, or tract, or human counsel, which creeps in between us and the Bible, and hides the Bible from our eyes! Once more I say, let us be very watchful.  The moment we open the Bible the devil sits down by our side.  Oh, to read with a hungry spirit, and a simple desire for edification!

Let us resolve to honour the Bible more in our families.  Let us read it morning and evening to our children and households, and not be ashamed to let men see that we do so.  Let us not be discouraged by seeing no good arise from it.  The Bible-reading in a family has kept many a one from the gaol, the workhouse, and the Gazette, if it has not kept him from hell.

Let us resolve to meditate more on the Bible.  It is good to take with us two or three texts when we go out into the world, and to turn them over and over in our minds whenever we have a little leisure.  It keeps out many vain thoughts.  It clenches the nail of daily reading.  It preserves our souls from stagnating and breeding corrupt things.  It sanctifies and quickens our memories, and prevents them becoming like those ponds where the frogs live but the fish die.

Let us resolve to talk more to believers about the Bible when we meet them.  Alas, the conversation of Christians, when they do meet, is often sadly unprofitable! How many frivolous, and trifling, and uncharitable things are said! Let us bring out the Bible more, and it will help to drive the devil away, and keep our hearts in tune.  Oh, that we may all strive so to walk together in this evil world; that Jesus may often draw near, and go with us, as He went with the two disciples journeying to Emmaus!

Last of all, let us resolve to live by the Bible more and more every year we live.  Let us frequently take account of all our opinions and practices,—of our habits and tempers,—of our behaviour in public and in private,—in the world, and by our own firesides.  Let us measure all by the Bible, and resolve, by God’s help, to conform to it.  Oh that we may learn increasingly to “cleanse our ways” by the Word! (Ps. cxix. 9.)

I commend all these things to the serious and prayerful attention of every one into whose hands this paper may fall.  I want the ministers of my beloved country to be Bible-reading ministers, the congregations, Bible-reading congregations,—and the nation, a Bible-reading nation.  To bring about this desirable end I cast in my mite into God’s treasury.  The Lord grant that it may prove not to have been in vain!

The Classical Library (http://www.anglicanlibrary.org)

John Charles Ryle for Christmas – What Think Ye of Christ?

J. C. Ryle
(1816-1900)

Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, the son of David.— Matthew 22:42

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First published by Drummond’s Tract Depot, Stirling, Scotland

Christmas is a season which almost all Christians observe in one way or another. Some keep it as a religious season. Some keep it as a holiday. But all over the world, wherever there are Christians, in one way or another Christmas is kept. (Photo on right touchyaneighbor.com Photo above richgift.blogspot.com)

Perhaps there is no country in which Christmas is so much observed as it is in England. Christmas holidays, Christmas parties, Christmas family-gatherings, Christmas services in churches, Christmas hymns and carols, Christmas holly and mistletoe,—who has not heard of these things? They are as familiar to English people as anything in their lives. They are among the first things we remember when we were children. Our grandfathers and grandmothers were used to them long before we were born. They have been going on in England for many hundred years. They seem likely to go on as long as the world stands.

But, reader, how many of those who keep Christmas ever consider why Christmas is kept? How many, in their Christmas plans and arrangements, give a thought to Him, without whom there would have been no Christmas at all? How many ever remember that the Lord Jesus Christ is the cause of Christmas ? How many ever reflect that the first intention of Christmas was to remind Christians of Christ’s birth and coming into the world? Reader, how is it with you? What do you think of at Christmas?

Bear with me a few minutes, while I try to press upon you the question which heads this tract. I do not want to make your Christmas merriment less. I do not wish to spoil your Christmas cheer. I only wish to put things in their right places. I want Christ Himself to be remembered at Christmas! Give me your attention while I unfold the question—”What think ye of Christ?”

I. Let us consider, firstly, why all men ought to think of Christ.

II. Let us examine, secondly, the common thoughts of many about Christ.

III. Let us count up, lastly, the thoughts of true Christians about Christ.

Reader, I dare say the demands upon your time this Christmas are many. Your holidays are short. You have friends to see. You have much to talk about. But still, in the midst of all your hurry and excitement, give a little time to your soul. There will be a Christmas some year, when your place will be empty. Before that time comes, suffer me as a friend to press home on your conscience the inquiry,—”What think ye of Christ?”

I. First, then, let us consider why all men ought to think of Christ.

This is a question which needs to be answered, at the very outset of this tract. I know the minds of some people when they are asked about such things as I am handling today. I know that many are ready to say, „Why should we think about Christ at all ? We want meat, and drink, and money, and clothes, and amusements. We have no time to think about these high subjects. We do not understand them. Let parsons, and old women, and Sunday-school children mind such things if they like. We have no time in a world like this to be thinking of Christ.”

Such is the talk of thousands in this country. They never go either to church or chapel. They never read their Bibles. The world is their god. They think themselves very wise and clever. They despise those whom they call „religious people.” But whether they like it or not, they will all have to die one day. They have all souls to be lost or saved in a world to come. They will all have to rise again from their graves, and to have a reckoning with God. And shall their scoffing and contempt stop our mouths, and make us ashamed? No, indeed! not for a moment! Listen to me and I will tell you why.

All men ought to think of Christ, because of the office Christ fills between God and man. He is the eternal Son of God, through whom alone the Father can be known, approached, and served. He is the appointed Mediator between God and man, through whom alone we can be reconciled with God, pardoned, justified, and saved. He is the Divine Person whom God the Father has sealed to be the giver of everything that man requires for his soul. To Him are committed the keys of death and hell. In His favour is life. In Him alone there is hope of salvation for mankind. Without Him no child of Adam can be saved. „Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” „He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” (I Cor. iii. 11; 1 John v.12.) And ought not man to think of Christ? Shall God the Father honour Him, and shall not man? I tell every reader of this tract that there is no person, living or dead, of such immense importance to all men as Christ. There is no person that men ought to think about so much as Christ.

All men ought to think of Christ, because of what Christ has done for all men. He thought upon man, when man was lost, bankrupt, and helpless by the fall, and undertook to come into the world to save sinners. In the fullness of time He was born of the Virgin Mary, and lived for man thirty-three years in this evil world. At the end of that time He suffered for sin on the cross, as man’s substitute. He bore man’s sins in His own body, and shed His own lifeblood to pay man’s debt to God. He was made a curse for man, that man might be blessed. He died for man that man might live. He was counted a sinner for man that man might be counted righteous. And ought not man to think of Christ? I tell every reader of this tract that if Christ had not died for us, we might all of us, for anything we know, be lying at this moment in hell.

All men ought to think of Christ, because of what Christ will yet do to all men. He shall come again one day to this earth with power and glory, and raise the dead from their graves. All shall come forth at His bidding. Those who would not move when they heard the church-going bell, shall obey the voice of the Archangel and the trump of God. He shall set up His judgment-seat, and summon all mankind to stand before it. To Him every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that He is Lord. Not one shall be able to escape that solemn assize. Not one but shall receive at the mouth of Christ an eternal sentence. Every one shall receive according to what he has done in the body, whether it be good or bad. And ought not men to think of Christ? I tell every reader of this tract, that whatever he may choose to think now, a day is soon coming when his eternal condition will hinge entirely on his relations to Christ.

But why should I say more on this subject? The time would fail me if I were to set down all the reasons why all men ought to think of Christ. Christ is the grand subject of the Bible. The Scriptures testify of Him.—Christ is the great object to whom all the Churches in Christendom profess to give honour. Even the worst and most corrupt branches of it will tell you that they are built on Christ.—Christ is the end and substance of all sacraments and ordinances.—Christ is the grand subject which every faithful minister exalts in the pulpit.—Christ is the object that every true pastor sets before dying people on their deathbeds.—Christ is the great source of light and peace and hope. There is not a spark of spiritual comfort that has ever illumined a sinner’s heart, that has not come from Christ. Surely it never can be a small matter whether we have any thoughts about Christ.

Reader, I leave this part of my subject here. There are many things which swallow up men’s thoughts while they live, which they will think little of when they are dying. Hundreds are wholly absorbed in political schemes, and seem to care for nothing but the advancement of their own party.—Myriads are buried in business and money matters, and seem to neglect everything else but this world.—Thousands are always wrangling about the forms and ceremonies of religion, and are ready to cry down everybody who does not use their shibboleths, and worship in their way. But an hour is fast coming when only one subject will be minded, and that subject will be Christ! We shall all find—and many perhaps too late—that it mattered little what we thought about other things, so long as we did not think about Christ.

Reader, I tell you this Christmas, that all men ought to think about Christ. There is no one in whom all the world has such a deep interest. There is no one to whom all the world owes so much. High and low, rich and poor, old and young, gentle and simple,—all ought to think about Christ.

II. Let us examine, secondly, the common thoughts of many about Christ.

To set down the whole list of thoughts about Christ, would indeed be thankless labour. It must content us to range them under a few general heads. This will save us both time and trouble. There were many strange thoughts about Christ when He was on earth. There are many strange and wrong thoughts about Christ now, when He is in heaven.

The thoughts of some people about Christ are simply blasphemous. They are not ashamed to deny His Divinity. They refuse to believe the miracles recorded of Him. They pretend to find fault with not a few of His sayings and doings. They even question the perfect honesty and sincerity of some things that He did. They tell us that He ought to be ranked with great Reformers and Philosophers, like Socrates, Seneca, and Confucius, but no higher.—Thoughts like these are purely ridiculous and absurd. They utterly fail to explain the enormous influence which Christ and Christianity have had for eighteen hundred years in this world. There is not the slightest comparison to be made between Christ and any other teacher of mankind that ever lived. The difference between Him and others is a gulf that cannot be spanned, and a height that cannot be measured. It is the difference between gold and clay,—between the sun and a candle. Nothing can account for Christ and Christianity, but the old belief that Christ is very God. Reader, are the thoughts I have just described your own? If they are, take care!

The thoughts of some people about Christ are vague, dim, misty, and indistinct. That there was such a Person they do not for a moment deny. That He was the Founder of Christianity, and the object of Christian worship, they are quite aware. That they hear of Him every time they go to public worship, and ought to have some opinion or belief about Him, they will fully admit. But they could not tell you what it is they believe. They could not accurately describe and define it. They have not thoroughly considered the subject They have not made up their minds! —Thoughts such as these are foolish, silly, and unreasonable. To be a dying sinner with an immortal soul, and to go on living without making up one’s mind about the only Person who can save us, the Person who will at last judge us, is the conduct of a lunatic or an idiot, and not of a rational man. Reader, are the thoughts I have just described your own? If any are, take care!

The thoughts of some men about Christ are mean and low. They have, no doubt, a distinct opinion about His position in their system of Christianity. They consider that if they do their best, and live moral lives, and go to church pretty regularly, and use the ordinances of religion, Christ will deal mercifully with them at last, and make up any deficiencies.—Thoughts such as these utterly fail to explain why Christ died on the cross. They take the crown off Christ’s head, and degrade Him into a kind of make-weight to man’s soul. They overthrow the whole system of the Gospel, and pull up all its leading doctrines by the roots. They exalt man to an absurdly high position; as if he could pay some part of the price of his soul!—They rob man of all the comfort of the Gospel; as if he must needs do something and perform some work to justify his own soul!—They make Christ a sort of Judge far more than a Saviour, and place the cross and the atonement in a degraded and inferior position! Reader, are the thoughts I have just described your own? If they are, take care !

The thoughts of some men about Christ are dishonouring and libellous. They seem to think that we need a mediator between ourselves and our Saviour! They appear to suppose that Christ is so high, and awful, and exalted a Person, that poor, sinful man may not approach Him! They say that we must employ an Episcopacy ordained minister as a kind of go-between, to stand between us and Jesus, and manage for our souls! They send us to saints, or angels, or the Virgin Mary, as if they were more kind and accessible than Christ!—Thoughts such as these are a practical denial of Christ’s priestly office. They overthrow the whole doctrine of His peculiar business, as man’s Intercessor. They hide and bury out of sight His especial love to sinners and His boundless willingness to receive them. Instead of a gracious Saviour, they make Him out an austere and hard King. Reader, are the thoughts I have just described your own? If they are, take care!

The thoughts of some men about Christ are wicked and unholy. They seem to think that they may live as they please, because Christ died for sinners! They will indulge every kind of wickedness, and yet flatter themselves that they are not blameworthy for it, because Christ is a merciful Saviour! They will talk complacently of God’s election, and the necessity of grace, and the impossibility of being justified by works and the fullness of Christ, and then make these glorious doctrines an excuse for lying, cheating, drunkenness, fornication, and every kind of immorality.—Thoughts such as these are as blasphemous and profane as downright infidelity. They actually make Christ the patron of sin. Reader, are these thoughts I have described your own? If they are, take care!

Reader, two general remarks apply to all these thoughts about Christ of which I have just been speaking. They all show a deplorable ignorance of Scripture. I defy any one to read the Bible honestly and find any warrant for them in that blessed Book. Men cannot know their Bibles when they hold such opinions.—They all help to prove the corruption and darkness of human nature. Man is ready to believe anything about Christ except the simple truth. He loves to set up an idol of his own, and bow down to it, rather than accept the Saviour whom God puts before him.

I leave this part of my subject here. It is a sorrowful and painful one, but not without its use. It is necessary to study morbid anatomy, if we would understand health. The ground must be cleared of rubbish before we build.

III. Let us now count up, lastly, the thoughts of true Christians about Christ.

The thoughts I am going to describe are not the thoughts of many. I admit this most fully. It would be vain to deny it. The number of right thinkers about Christ in every age has been small. The true Christians among professing Christians have always been few. If it were not so, the Bible would have told an untruth. „Strait is the gate,” says the Lord Jesus, „and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.—Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.” „Many walk,” says Paul, „of whom I tell you, even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ; whose end is destruction.” (Matt vii. 13, 14. Phil. iii. 18, 19.)

True Christians have high thoughts of Christ. They see in Him a wondrous Person, far above all other beings in His nature,—a Person who is at one and the same time perfect God, mighty to save, and perfect Man, able to feel.—They see in Him an All-powerful Redeemer, who has paid their countless debts to God, and delivered their souls from guilt and hell.—They see in Him an Almighty Friend, who left heaven for them, lived for them, died for them, rose again for them,—that He might save them for evermore.—They see in Him an Almighty Physician, who washed away their sins in His own blood, put His own Spirit in their hearts, delivered them from the power of sin, and gave them power to become God’s children.—Happy are they who have such thoughts! Reader, have you?

True Christians have trustful thoughts of Christ. They daily lean the weight of their souls upon Him by faith, for pardon and peace. They daily commit the care of their souls to Him, as a man commits a treasure to a safe keeper. They daily cling to Him by faith, as a child in a crowd clings to its mother’s hand. They look to Him daily for mercy, grace, comfort, help, and strength, as Israel looked to the pillar of cloud and fire in the wilderness for guidance. Christ is the Rock under their feet, and the staff in their hands, their ark and their city of refuge, their sun and their shield, their bread and their medicine, their health and their light, their fountain and their shelter, their portion and their home, their door and their ladder, their root and their head, their advocate and their physician, their captain and their elder brother, their life, their hope, and their all. Happy are they who have such thoughts! Reader, have you?

True Christians have experimental thoughts of Christ. The things that they think of Him, they do not merely think with their heads. They have not learned them from schools, or picked them up from others. They think them because they have found them true by their own heart’s experience. They have proved them, and tasted them, and tried them. They think out for themselves what they have felt . There is all the difference in the world between knowing that a man is a doctor or a lawyer, while we never have occasion to employ him, and knowing him as „our own,” because we have gone to him for medicine or law. Just in the same way there is a wide difference between head knowledge and experimental thoughts of Christ. Happy are they who have such thoughts? Reader, have you?

True Christians have loving and reverent thoughts of Christ. They love to do the things that please Him. They like, in their poor weak way, to show their affection to Him by keeping His words. They love everything belonging to Him,—His day, His house, His ordinances, His people, His Book. They never find His yoke heavy, or His burden painful to bear, or His Commandments grievous. Love lightens all. They know something of the mind of Mr. Standfast, in „Pilgrim’s Progress,” when he said, as he stood in the river,—”I have loved to hear my Lord spoken of; and whenever I have seen the print of His shoe in the earth, then I have coveted to set my foot over it.” Happy are they who have such thoughts? Reader, have you?

True Christians have hopeful thoughts of Christ. They expect to receive far more from Him one day than they have ever received yet. They hope that they shall be kept to the end, and never perish. But this is not all. They look forward to Christ’s second coming and expect that then they shall see far more than they have seen, and enjoy far more than they have yet enjoyed. They have the earnest of an inheritance now in the Spirit dwelling in their heart. But they hope for a far fuller possession when this world has passed away. They have hopeful thoughts of Christ’s second Advent, of their own resurrection from the grave of their reunion with all the saints who have gone before them, of eternal blessedness in Christ’s kingdom. Happy are they who have such thoughts! They sweeten life, and lift men over many cares. Reader, have you such thoughts ?

Reader, thoughts such as these are the property of all true Christians. Some of them know more of them and some of them know less. But all know something about them. They do not always feel them equally at all time! They do not always find such thoughts equally fresh and green in their minds. They have their winter as well as their summer, and their low tide as well as their high water. But all true Christians are, more or less, acquainted with these thoughts. In this matter churchmen and dissenters, rich and poor, all are agreed, if they are true Christians. In other things they may be unable to agree and see alike. But they all agree in their thoughts about Christ. One word they can all say, which is the same in every tongue. That word is „Hallelujah,” praise to the Lord Christ! One answer they can all make, which in every tongue is equally the same. That word is, „Amen,” so be it!

And now, reader, I shall wind up my Christmas tract, by simply bringing before your conscience the question which forms its title. I ask you this day, —”What think ye of Christ?”

What others think about Him is not the question now. Their mistakes are no excuse for you.—Their correct views will not save your soul. The point you have before you is simply this,—”What do you think yourself?”

Reader, this Christmas may possibly be your last. Who can tell but you may never live to see another December come round? Who can tell but your place may be empty, when the family party next Christmas is gathered together? Do not, I entreat you, put off my question or turn away from it. It can do you no harm to look at it and consider it. What do you think of Christ?

Begin, I beseech you, this day to have right thoughts of Christ, if you never had them before. Let the time past suffice you to have lived without real and heartfelt religion.—Let this present Christmas be a starting point in your soul’s history. Awake to see the value of your soul, and the immense importance of being saved. Break off sharp from sin and the world. Get down your Bible and begin to read it. Call upon the Lord Jesus Christ in prayer, and beseech Him to save your soul. Rest not, rest not till you have trustful, loving, experimental, hopeful thoughts of Christ.

Reader, mark my words! If you will only take the advice I have now given you, you will never repent it. Your life in future will be happier. Your heart will be lighter. Your Christmas gatherings will be more truly joyful. Nothing makes Christmas meetings so happy as to feel that we are all travelling on towards an eternal gathering in heaven.

Reader, I say for the last time, if you would have a happy Christmas, have right thoughts about Christ.

added to www.biblebb.com by Tony Capoccia

John Charles Ryle – Exhorting Young Men

Ryle was a strong supporter of the evangelical school and a critic of Ritualism. He was a writer, pastor and an evangelical preacher. Among his longer works are Christian Leaders of the Eighteenth Century (1869), Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (7 vols, 1856–69), Principles for Churchmen (1884). Ryle was described as having a commanding presence and vigorous in advocating his principles albeit with a warm disposition. He was also credited with having success in evangelizing the blue collar community. His second son, Herbert Edward Ryle also a clergyman, became Dean of Westminster. (Photo credit Gospel Expositions by J.C. Ryle)

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John Piper – Why you should read the Bible even when you don’t feel like it

English: John Charles Ryle (1816-1900)John Piper writes at www.desiringGod.org and quotes from J.C.Ryle on why you should read the Bible whether you feel like it or not:

Don’t rest on past reading. Read your Bible more and more every year. Read it whether you feel like reading it or not. And pray without ceasing that the joy return and pleasures increase.

Three reasons this is not legalism:

  1. You are confessing your lack of desire as sin, and pleading as a helpless child for the desire you long to have. Legalists don’t cry like that. They strut.
  2. You are reading out of desperation for the effects of this heavenly medicine. Bible-reading is not a cure for a bad conscience; it’s chemo for your cancer. Legalists feel better because the box is checked. Saints feel better when their blindness lifts, and they see Jesus in the word. Let’s get real. We are desperately sick with worldliness, and only the Holy Spirit, by the word of God, can cure this terminal disease.
  3. It is not legalism because only justified people can see the preciousness and power of the Word of God. Legalists trudge with their Bibles on the path toward justification. Saints sit down in the shade of the cross and plead for the blood-bought pleasures.

So lets give heed to Mr. Ryle and never grow weary of the slow, steady, growth that comes from the daily, disciplined, increasing, love affair with reading the Bible.

Do not think you are getting no good from the Bible, merely because you do not see that good day by day. The greatest effects are by no means those which make the most noise, and are most easily observed. The greatest effects are often silent, quiet, and hard to detect at the time they are being produced.

Think of the influence of the moon upon the earth, and of the air upon the human lungs. Remember how silently the dew falls, and how imperceptibly the grass grows. There may be far more doing than you think in your soul by your Bible-reading. (J. C. Ryle, Practical Religion, 136)

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