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Choking the Weeds

“The way to destroy ill weeds is to plant good herbs that are contrary.”

We have all heard of weeds choking the wheat; if we were wise we should learn from our enemy, and endeavor to choke the weeds by the wheat. Preoccupation of mind is a great safeguard from temptation. Fill a bushel with corn, and you will keep out the chaff: have the heart stored with holy things, and the vanities of the world will not so readily obtain a lodging-place.

Herein is wisdom in the training of children. Plant the mind early with the truths of God’s word, and error and folly will, in a measure, be forestalled. The false will soon spring up if we do not early occupy the mind with the true. He who said that he did not wish to prejudice his boy’s mind by teaching him to pray, soon discovered that the devil was not so scrupulous, for his boy soon learned to swear. It is well to prejudice a field in favor of wheat at the first opportunity.

In the matter of amusements for the young, it is much better to provide than to prohibit. If we find the lads and lasses interesting employments they will not be so hungry after the gayeties and ensnarements of this wicked world. If we are afraid that the children will eat unwholesome food abroad, let us as much as possible take the edge from their appetites by keeping a good table at home.

Charles H. Spurgeon, Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden, Distilled and Dispensed (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1883), 29–30.

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Resolved by Resurrection

“And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.”

John 6:39

This promise is highly necessary for us, who miserably groan under so great weakness of the flesh, of which every one of us is sufficiently aware; and at every moment, indeed, the salvation of the whole world might be ruined, were it not that believers, supported by the hand of Christ, advance boldly to the day of resurrection. Let this, therefore, be fixed in our minds, that Christ has stretched out his hand to us, that he may not desert us in the midst of the course, but that, relying on his goodness, we may boldly raise our eyes to the last day.

There is also another reason why he mentions the resurrection. It is because, so long as our life is hidden in Christ (Colossians 3:3) we are like dead men. For in what respect do believers differ from wicked men, but that, overwhelmed with afflictions, and like sheep destined for the slaughter (Romans 8:36), they have always one foot in the grave, and, indeed, are not far from being continually swallowed up by death? Thus there remains no other support of our faith and patience but this, that we keep out of view the condition of the present life, and apply our minds and our senses to the last day, and pass through the obstructions of the world, until the fruit of our faith at length appear.

John Calvin, Commentaries, 253–254

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God Sees Our Thoughts

How little is this really felt! How many things are done continually, which men would never do if they thought they were seen! How many matters are transacted in the rooms of imagination, which would never bear the light of day! Yes; men entertain thoughts in private, and say words in private, and do acts in private, which they would be ashamed and blush to have exposed before the world. The sound of a footstep coming has stopped many a deed of wickedness. A knock at the door has caused many an evil work to be hastily suspended, and hurriedly laid aside. But oh, what miserable folly is all this! There is an all-seeing Witness with us wherever we go. Lock the door, pull down the blind, turn out the light; it doesn’t matter, it makes no difference; God is everywhere, you cannot shut Him out, or prevent His seeing.

—J. C. Ryle
Thoughts for Young Men, 83.

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Signs of Growing in Grace

Question: What are the signs of our growing in grace?

Answer: When we have a more spiritual frame of heart.

  1. When we are more spiritual in our principles; when we oppose sin out of love to God, and because it strikes at his holiness.
  2. When we are more spiritual in our affections. We grieve for the first rising of corruption, for the bubbling up of vain thoughts, and for the spring that runs underground. We mourn not only for the penalty of sin, but for its pollution. It is not a coal only that burns, but blacks.
  3. When we are spiritual in the performance of duty. We are more serious, reverent, fervent; we have more life in prayer, we put fire to the sacrifice. ‘Fervent in spirit’ (Romans 12:2): We serve God with more love, which ripens and mellows our duty, and makes it come off with a better relish.

—Thomas Watson
A Body of Divinity

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Importance of Christianity Among Youth

The exercise of Christian virtue makes youth the pleasanter in all the circumstances and concerns of it. Herein it has greatly the advantage of a course of youthful vanity, for the pleasure of that is exceeding unsteady and inconstant: it serves them only for a moment.

1. Young people’s exercise of Christian virtue, would sweeten both their company and their solitude.

(a) Their company would be abundantly sweeter, if they were virtuous in company. It would be more rational, more becoming reasonable creatures: their own reason would approve of it. They would be glad when they reflected and thought of it: everyone’s mind would approve of it.

It is a strange notion that many young people have, that company will be the worse for being virtuous. Vice is the most useless thing in the world in company: it does no good in any way: they may have free conversation without it, they may please and divert one another without it. And virtue would sweeten all that is said and done: it would make everyone the more pleasant company, one to another: it would supply ’em with the most pleasant and entertaining subjects of conversation.

(b) The exercise of Christian virtue would also sweeten solitude. Oftentimes those that live viciously and appear very merry in company, are afraid of solitude. They don’t love to be much in retirement; for they have nothing to entertain them alone. And when they are alone, reason and conscience is more apt to be in exercise, which greatly disturbs their peace. But those young people that walk in Christ and Christian virtue have wherein to rejoice, and to entertain their mind, both alone and in company. ‘Tis pleasant to them oftentimes to be alone; for then they have the better opportunity to fix their minds on divine objects, to withdraw their thoughts from worldly things, and the more uninterruptedly to delight themselves in divine contemplations, and holy exercise and converse with God. Christ calls forth such young persons from the company and noise of the world in such language as that.

2. It sweetens both business and diversion. To walk in Christ and Christian virtue, is the way to have the sensible presence of God, and the light of his countenance, and testimony of his favor, which is enough to sweeten everything to them.

If a person has good evidence of that, that his sins are forgiven, and that he is at peace with God, and is the object of God’s love, and has within him the testimony of a good conscience; this is enough to give quietness and cheerfulness, wherever he is, and whatever he is about. ‘Tis enough to make hard labor easy, and he may well do whatsoever he doth cheerfully that does to the Lord, and not to men (Ephesians 6:7). The exercise of religion would even sweeten young people’s diversions, as it would regulate them according to the rules of wisdom and virtue, and would direct ’em to suitable and worthy ends, and make them subservient to excellent purposes.

As has been already said of earthly enjoyments and company, so it is true diversions, that they are abundantly sweetest, when virtue moderates and guides them.

3. It sweetens what is present, and also the thoughts of what is to come. When young people spend their youth in sin and vanity, it gives them no pleasure but in what is present. It has a tendency to make the prospect of that which is future terrible. And therefore such young people are not wont to think much of what is future; hate such thoughts [as] are uncomfortable to them, and therefore shut them out what they can.

But when young people walk in the ways of Christ and Christian virtue, it not only gives them abundantly the most pleasant enjoyment of the present time, but renders the prospect of what is to come comfortable and joyful. They that spend their youth in the exercise of Christian virtue, they may think of old age with comfort, if they should live to it: and they may think of death with comfort, and may think of eternity with unspeakable joy. We are born for an eternal duration. Those that are now young, and have had their beings but a little, which they are to have their beings to all eternity, and Christ will give young people rational comfort and joy, let them look as far forward as they will, in this endless duration.

—Jonathan Edwards
Adapted from Works, “Sermons and Discourses,” 1734-1738, (Yale University Press, 2001), 86-88.