The true Christian is one whose religion is in his heart and life. It is felt by himself in his heart. It is seen by others in his conduct and life. He feels his sinfulness, guilt, and badness, and repents. He sees Jesus Christ to be that Divine Saviour whom his soul needs, and commits himself to Him. He puts off the old man with his corrupt and carnal habits, and puts on the new man. He lives a new and holy life, fighting habitually against the world, the flesh, and the devil. Christ Himself is the corner stone of His Christianity. Ask him in what he trusts for the forgiveness of his many sins, and he will tell you, in the death of Christ.—Ask him in what righteousness he hopes to stand innocent at the judgment day, and he will tell You it is the righteousness of Christ.—Ask him by what pattern he tries to frame his life, and he will tell you that it is the example of Christ.
But, beside all this, there is one thing in a true Christian which is eminently peculiar to him. That thing is love to Christ. Knowledge, faith, hope, reverence, obedience, are all marked features in a true Christian’s character. But his picture would be very imperfect if you omitted his “love” to his Divine Master. He not only knows, trusts, and obeys. He goes further than this,—he loves.
—J. C. Ryle
Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties and Roots (London: William Hunt and Company, 1889), 341.
“Pearls do not lose their worth though swine trample upon them.”
Scriptural truth is none the less worthy to be held and proclaimed because foolish and depraved men pervert it to their own destruction. A knife is a very useful article; and, though some have committed suicide by its means, it is no reason why knives should be discarded. The doctrines of grace are pearls even after Antinomians have turned them over. Justification by faith is the crown-jewel of the gospel, though hypocrites abuse it. Every truth is perverted by polluted minds, but this is no reason for our renouncing what God has revealed; rather is it a strong argument for adorning the doctrine of our Saviour in all things.
My heart, see thou to it that the doctrines of grace are honored at thy hands. Since so many pour contempt upon them, do thou hold them in high esteem, and by thy life make them to be esteemed by others.
—Charles H. Spurgeon
Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden (Passmore & Alabaster, 1883).
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.
Profession of the life of God passeth with many at a very low and easy rate. Their thoughts are for the most part vain and earthly, their communication unsavoury, and sometimes corrupt, their lives at best uneven and uncertain as unto the rule of obedience; yet all is well, all is life and peace!
The holy men of old, who obtained this testimony, that they pleased God, did not so walk before Him. They meditated continually on the law; thought of God in the night seasons; spake of His ways, His works, His praise; their whole delight was in Him, and in all things they followed hard after Him.
The Works of John Owen, 7:301.
Anger is not to be trusted; it is not so just and righteous as it seemeth to be. Of all passions this is most apt to be justified. As Jonah said to God, ‘I do well to be angry,’ Jonah 4:9, so men are apt to excuse their heats and passions, as if they did but express a just indignation against an offence and wrong received. Anger, like a cloud, blindeth the mind, and then tyranniseth over it. There is in it somewhat of rage and violence; it vehemently exciteth a man to act, and taketh away his rule according to which he ought to act. All violent concitations of the spirit disturb reason, and hinder clearness of debate; and it is then with the soul as it is with men in a mutiny, the gravest cannot be heard; and there is in it somewhat of mist and darkness, by which reason, being beclouded, is rather made a party than a judge, and doth not only excuse our passion, but feed it, as being employed in representing the injury, rather than bridling our irrational excess. Well, then, do not believe anger. Men credit their passion, and that foments it. In an unjust cause, when Sarah was passionate, you see how confident she is, Gen. 16:5, ‘The Lord judge between me and thee.’ It would have been ill for her if the Lord had umpired between her and Abraham. It was a strange confidence, when she was in the wrong, to appeal to God. You see anger is full of mistakes, and it seemeth just and righteous when it doth nothing less than work the righteousness of God. The heathens suspected themselves when under the power of their anger. ‘I would beat thee,’ saith one, ‘if I were not angry.’1 When you are under the power of a passion, you’ have just cause to suspect all your apprehensions; you are apt to mistake others, and to mistake your own spirits. Passion is blind, and cannot judge; it is furious, and hath no leisure to debate and consider.
The Complete Works of Thomas Manton, 4:139–140.