The end of study is information, and the end of meditation is practice, or a work upon the affections. Study is like a winter sun that shines but does not warm, but meditation is like blowing up the fire, where we do not mind the blaze but the heat. The end of study is to hoard up truth, but of meditation to lay it forth in conference or holy conversation. In study, we are rather like vintners that take in wine to store themselves for sale; in meditation, like those that buy wine for their own use and comfort. A vintner’s cellar may be better stored than a nobleman’s; the student may have more of notion and knowledge, but the practical Christian has more of taste and refreshment.Thomas Manton (1620-1677)
“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.
“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
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.
Question: What are the signs of our growing in grace?
Answer: When we have a more spiritual frame of heart.
- When we are more spiritual in our principles; when we oppose sin out of love to God, and because it strikes at his holiness.
- 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.
- 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.
A Body of Divinity