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).
A Rebuke to Backsliders and a Spur for Loiterers (London: John Hancock, 1684), 57-58.
I can truly say, that Christ, his love, his works, his grace, his word, are the main objects of my contemplation and meditation. Oh I am always best, when I am most a-meditating and contemplating Christ, his love, his grace, etc. “How precious are thy thoughts unto me, O God; how great is the sum of them!” (Psalm 139:17).
The true Christian is called to be a soldier, and must behave as such from the day of his conversion to the day of his death. He is not meant to live a life of religious ease, indolence, and security. He must never imagine for a moment that he can sleep and doze along the way to heaven, like one travelling in an easy carriage. If he takes his standard of Christianity from the children of this world, he may be content with such notions; but he will find no countenance for them in the Word of God. If the Bible is the rule of his faith and practice, he will find his course laid down very plainly in this matter. He must “fight.”
With whom is the Christian soldier meant to fight? … The principal fight of the Christian is with the world, the flesh, and the devil. These are his never-dying foes. These are the three chief enemies against whom he must wage war. Unless he gets the victory over these three, all other victories are useless and vain. If he had a nature like an angel, and were not a fallen creature, the warfare would not be so essential. But with a corrupt heart, a busy devil, and an ensnaring world, he must either “fight” or be lost.
He must fight the flesh. Even after conversion he carries within him a nature prone to evil, and a heart weak and unstable as water. That heart will never be free from imperfection in this world, and it is a miserable delusion to expect it. To keep that heart from going astray, the Lord Jesus bids us “watch and pray.” The spirit may be ready, but the flesh is weak. There is need of a daily struggle and a daily wrestling in prayer. “I keep under my body,” cries St. Paul, “and bring it into subjection.”—“I see a law in my members warring against the law of mind, and bringing me into captivity.”—“O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”—“They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”—“Mortify your members which are upon the earth.” (Mark 14:38; 1 Corinthians 9:27; Romans 7:23, 24; Galatians 5:24; Colossians 3:5)
—J. C. Ryle
Holiness (London: William Hunt and Company, 1889), 76–77.
The price that time must be redeemed with, is, above all, by our utmost diligence: that we be still doing, and put forth all our strength, and run as for our lives; and whatever our hand shall find to do, that we do it with our might, remembering that there is no work, nor device, not knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither we go. Our sluggish ease is an easy price to be parted with for precious time. To redeem it, is not to call back time past; nor to stop time in its hasty passage; nor to procure a long life on earth: but to save it, as it passeth, from being devoured and lost, by sluggishness and sin.
The Practical Works of the Rev. Richard Baxter, 3:123.