No sin is more apt to insinuate itself into our hearts, and duties, than hypocrisy.
We, of all men, are most in danger to be deceived by it: For our employment lying in, and about spiritual things, we are, on that account, stiled spiritual men (Hosea 9:7). But it is plain, from that very place, that a man may be objectively a spiritual, and all the while subjectively a carnal man. Believe it, brethren, it is easier to declaim, like an orator, against a thousand sins of others, than it is to mortify one sin, like Christians, in ourselves; to be more industrious in our pulpits, than in our closets; to preach twenty sermons to our people, than one to our own hearts.
The Whole Works of the Reverend John Flavel, 6:568.
Go and take your fill of earthly pleasures if you will—you will never find your heart satisfied with them. There will always be a voice within, crying, like the leech in Proverbs 30:15, ‘Give! Give!’ There is an empty place there, which nothing but God can fill. You will find, as Solomon did by experience, that earthly pleasures are but a meaningless show—promising contentment but bringing a dissatisfaction of spirit—gold plated caskets, exquisite to look at on the outside, but full of ashes and corruption within.
—J. C. Ryle
Thoughts for Young Men, 34.
“If a prince, passing by an execution, should take the malefactor’s chains, and suffer in his stead, this would be a wonderful instance indeed.”
The deed would ring through all history, and be quoted as an amazing instance of heroic pity; and well deserved would be all the words of praise and sonnets of admiration which would record and eulogize it. Yet our Lord Jesus did this and infinitely more for those who were not merely malefactors, but enemies to his own throne and person. This is a wonder of wonders! But, alas, it meets with small praise. The most of men around us have heard of it and treated it as an idle tale, and multitudes more regard it as a pious legend, worthy to be repeated as a venerable fable, and then forgotten as an unpractical myth. Even those who know, believe, and admire, are yet cold in their emotions with regard to the story of the cross. Herein is love which ought to set our hearts on fire, and yet we scarcely maintain a smouldering spark of enthusiasm. Lord Jesus, be more real to our apprehensions, and so be more completely the Master of our affections.
—Charles H. Spurgeon
Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden (Passmore & Alabaster, 1883).
The heart of the Gospel is redemption, and the essence of redemption is the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ. They who preach this truth preach the Gospel in whatever else they may be mistaken; but they who preach not the atonement, whatever else they declare, have missed the soul and substance of the divine message. In these days, I feel bound to go over and over again the elementary truths of the Gospel. In peaceful times, we may feel free to make excursions into interesting districts of truth that lie far afield; but now we must stay at home and guard the hearths and homes of the church by defending the first principles of the faith. In this age, there have risen up in the church itself men who speak perverse things. There be many that trouble us with their philosophies and novel interpretations, whereby they deny the doctrines they profess to teach and undermine the faith they are pledged to maintain. … There are plenty who can fiddle to you the new music. It is for me to have no music at any time but that which is heard in heaven: “Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood … to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever!” (Rev 1:5-6).
Charles H. Spurgeon
The Metropolitan Tabernacle, “The Heart of the Gospel,” Sermon text: 2 Corinthians 5:20–21 (1886).