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echoes of thought in love with God through Christ crucified

Author: Pastor Manny (page 1 of 114)

Advent signifies, the act of approaching, or of coming. The members of Christ’s mystic body, the church, however they may differ in external and non-essential points; yet, are they all firmly united in this faith, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; and, consequently, very God, of very God:—that he came to visit us, in great humility:—that he will come again, in the last day, to judge both the quick and the dead:—and that life immortal is obtained for us, and shall be enjoyed by us, through him only.

—Augustus M. Toplady
The Works of Augustus M. Toplady, (London: Richard Baynes, 1825), 3:436.

Humility in fallen man implies a sense of a twofold meanness before God, natural and moral.

His natural meanness consisting in his being infinitely below God in natural perfection, or God’s being infinitely above him in greatness, in power, wisdom, majesty, and the like. So a humble man is sensible of the small extent of his own knowledge, he is sensible of his ignorance of what small extent his understanding is in comparison with the wisdom of God. …

But his natural meanness is become much greater since the Fall. That moral ruin under which his nature has fallen has greatly impaired his natural faculties, though it has not extinguished them. But this brings me to the kind of meanness of fallen man of which the humble man is sensible; and that is his moral meanness and vileness. This consists in his sinfulness. His natural meanness is his littleness; his moral meanness is his filthiness. Fallen man is infinitely different from God in both these respects; both as little and as filthy. …

And both together in a sense of our own littleness, and also a sense of our own moral vileness before God, are implied in that poverty of spirit which the Scripture speaks of in Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” And this sense of our comparative meanness even more arises from a sense of God’s greatness and excellence. They who do not know God never can have any right knowledge of themselves and their own meanness and unworthiness. And in order to that sense of our own meanness and unworthiness, which is in humility, it is necessary that we should not only see God’s greatness, but also his excellence and holiness. The devils and damned spirits see a great deal of God’s greatness, his omnipotence and the like. God makes them sensible of it by what they feel of their sufferings. God shows them how much he is above them and makes them know it, however unwilling they are to know; and they shall see a great deal more of it at and after the Day of Judgment. But they have no humility nor ever will have, because though they see God’s awful greatness, yet they see nothing of his loveliness. There can be no true humility in any without the creature’s seeing his distance from God, not only with respect to greatness but also loveliness.

—Jonathan Edwards
Ethical Writings, in WJE (Yale University Press, 1989), 235-237.

That God should be reconciled after such a dreadful breach as the fall of man made, is wonderful; no sin, all things considered, was ever like to this sin: other sins, like a single bullet, kill particular persons, but this, like a chain-shot, cuts off multitudes as the sand upon the sea-shore, which no man can number.

If all the posterity of Adam in their several generations, should do nothing else but bewail and lament this sin of his, whilst this world continues, yet would it not be enough lamented; for a man so newly created out of nothing, and admitted the first moment into the highest order, crowned a king over the works of God’s hands, Psal. 8:5. a man perfect and upright, without the least inordinate motion, or sinful inclination: a man whose mind was most clear, bright, and apprehensive of the will of God, whose will was free, and able to have easily put by the strongest temptation: a man in a paradise of delights, where nothing was left to desire for advancing the happiness of soul or body: a man understanding himself to be a public, complexive person, carrying not only his own, but the happiness of the whole world in his hand: so soon, upon so slight a temptation, to violate the law of his God, and involve himself and all his posterity with him, in such a gulf of guilt and misery; all which he might so easily have prevented! O wonderful amazing mercy, that ever God should think of being reconciled, or have any purposes of peace towards so vile an apostate creature as man.

—John Flavel
Works, 2:54.

Who shall lead me through the wilderness? There are many ways, many false ways, many cross ways, and but one that is the right way: How shall I hit my way to heaven, the right way that leads [there]? And who will show me and lead me in this way? Here Trust answers, Christ will do it; I lean upon Him to be my Moses to lead me in the way that I should go: “You will guide me with Your counsel” (Psalm 73:24). Christ has gone the way before His saints, and He will show them His steps to direct them. Therefore the apostle exhorts, “Run the race—looking to Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2), as for encouragement, so for direction; follow not the footsteps of the sheep only, but follow the footsteps of the Shepherd, and walk on as He walked before you. But how shall I find the way, or the steps wherein Christ walked? “It is not in name that walketh, to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). “How can a man understand his own ways?” (Proverbs 20:24). There are many hard and intricate cases, where I may be at a stand, and not know which way to take: their answer is, as Psalm 143:8, “In thee do I trust; cause me to know the way wherein I should walk, for I lift up my soul to thee,” and v. 10: “Thy Spirit is good, lead me into the land of uprightness”; I trust that “thou wilt guide me by thy counsel, and bring me to glory” (Psalm 73:24).

—Richard Alleine
A Rebuke to Backsliders and a Spur for Loiterers (London: John Hancock, 1684), 57-58.

When we come to pray, we must remember not only what we want, but what we have received, acknowledging we have all from him; he is our father: Deut. 32:6, ‘Do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people, and unwise? Is not he thy father that hath bought thee? Hath he not made thee and established thee? ‘We must acknowledge the good we have, as well as that we expect to come from him. Therefore, if we would have a praying frame, and be eased of our solicitude, and that anxious care which is a disparagement to providence, it is good to take up God under the notion of a father, which makes us rest upon him for all things: Mat. 6:25, ‘Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.’ Why? ‘For your heavenly Father knoweth that you have need of all these things.’ You that are able fathers would think yourselves disparaged if that your children should filch and steal for their living, and beg and be solicitous, and go up and down from door to door for their maintenance and support, and not trust to your care and provision. A. believer which knoweth he hath a heavenly Father will not be negligent in his calling, but be active and industrious in his way, and use those lawful means which, by the providence of God, he hath been brought up in; and then, ‘be careful for nothing,’ as the apostle’s advice is, Phil. 4:6, and ‘in everything, by prayer and supplication, make your request known unto God.’ Oh, could we turn carking into prayer, and run to our Father, it would be happy for us. Care, and diligence, and necessary provision, that is our work and labour: but, for the success and event of things, leave it to God. When we are carking in the world with such anxiousness, and troubled with restless thoughts, how we should be provided for in old age, and what will become of us and ours, we take God’s work out of his hands. This is a disparagement to our heavenly Father, and a reproach to his providence and fatherly care.

—Thomas Manton
The Complete Works of Thomas Manton, 1:48–49.

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