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Sweetness of the Troubled Christ

“Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name.” (John 12:27-28)

This holy soul, thus troubled, was like the earth before the fall, out of which grew roses, without thorns or thistles, before it was cursed. Christ’s anger, his sorrow, were flowers that smelled of heaven, and not of sin: all his affections of fear, sorrow, sadness, hope, joy, love, desire, were like a fountain of liquid and melted silver; of which the banks, the head-spring, are all as clear from dross, as pure crystal: such a fountain can cast out no clay, no mud, no dirt. When his affections did rise and swell in their acts, every drop of the fountain was sinless, perfumed and adorned with grace; so as the more you stir or trouble a well of rose-water, or some precious liquor, the more sweet a smell it casts out: or, as when a summer soft wind bloweth on a field of sweet roses, it diffuseth precious and delicious smells through the air. There is such mud and dregs in the bottom and banks of our affections, that when our anger, sorrow, sadness, fear, do arise in their acts, our fountain casteth out sin. We cannot love, but we lust; nor fear, but we despair; nor rejoice, but we are wanton, and vain and gaudy; nor believe, but we presume: we rest up, we breathe out sin, we cast out a smell of hell, when the wind bloweth on our field of weeds and thistles; our soul is all but a plat of wild corn, the imaginations of our heart being only evil from our youth. O that Christ would plant some of his flowers in our soul, and bless the soil, that they might grow kindly there, being warmed and nourished with his grace! If grace be within, in sad pressures it comes out. A saint is a saint in affliction; as an hypocrite is an hypocrite, and every man is himself, and casts a smell like himself, when he is in the furnace. Troubled Christ prays. Tempted Job believes, Job 19:25. The scourged Apostles rejoice, Acts 5:41.

—Samuel Rutherford
Christ Dying, and Drawing Sinners to Himself (Glasgow: Niven, Napier & Khull, 1803), 4–5.

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Excerpts

The Ruling Peace of Christ

Christ pacifies all inward troubles, and commands peace when their spirits are tumultuous—appeasing strife within. When the tumultuous affections are up, and in a hurry; when anger, hatred, and revenge begin to rise in the soul, this hushes and stills all. “I will hearken (saith the saints) what God the Lord will speak, for He will speak peace to His people, and to His saints” (Ps 75:8). He that saith to the raging sea, be still, and it obeys Him; He alone can pacify the disquieted spirit. They say of frogs, that if they be croaking never so much in the night, bring but a light among them, and they are all quiet: such a light is the peace of Christ among our disordered affections.

—John Flavel
Adapted from The Whole Works of the Reverend John Flavel, 1:205–206.

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Excerpts

Set the Lord Always Before You

“I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.”
—Psalm 16:8

This is the way to live. With God always before us, we shall have the noblest companionship, the holiest example, the sweetest consolation, and the mightiest influence. This must be a resolute act of the mind. ‘I have set,’ and it must be maintained as a set and settled thing. Always to have an eye to the Lord’s eye, and an ear for the Lord’s voice — this is the right state for the godly man. His God is near him, filling the horizon of his vision, leading the way of his life, and furnishing the theme of his meditation. What vanities we should avoid, what sins we should overcome, what virtues we should exhibit, what joys we should experience if we did indeed set the Lord always before us! Why not?

This is the way to be safe. The Lord being ever in our minds, we come to feel safety and certainty because of His being so near. He is at our right hand to guide and aid us; and hence we are not moved by fear, nor force, nor fraud, nor fickleness. When God stands at a man’s right hand, that man is himself sure to stand. Come on, then, ye foemen of the truth! Rush against me like a furious tempest, if ye will. God upholds me. God abides with me. Whom shall I fear?

—Charles Spurgeon
Faith’s Checkbook, 337.

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Excerpts Poems

Fear Not Amid Dangers

THIS world’s a forest, where, from day to day,
Bears, wolves, and lions, range and seek their prey;
Amidst them all poor harmless lambs are fed,
And by their very dens in safety led.
They roar upon us, but are held in chains;
Our shepherd is their keeper, he maintains
Our lot. Why then should we so trembling stand?
We meet them, true, but in their keeper’s hand.
He that to raging seas such bounds hath put,
The mouths of rav’nous beasts can also shut.
Sleep in the woods, poor lambs, yourselves repose
Upon his care, whose eyes do never close.
If unbelief in you don’t lose their chain,
Fear not their struggling, that’s but all in vain.
If God can check the waves by smallest sand,
A twined thread may hold these in his hand.
Shun ṣin, keep close to Christ; for other evils
You need not fear, tho’ compass’d round with devils.

—John Flavel
The Whole Works of the Reverend John Flavel, 5:255.

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Quotes

Not Forsaken Because You Are Low

God respects you as much in a low as in a high condition, and therefore it need not so much trouble you to be made low. Not only so but, to speak home, he manifests more of his love, grace, and tenderness in the time of affliction than prosperity. As God did not at first choose you because you were high, so he will not forsake you because you are low. Men may look shy upon you, and alter their respects as your condition is altered. When providence has blasted your estates, your summer friends may grow strange, as fearing you may be troublesome to them. But will God do so? No, no!

—John Flavel
Adapted from The Whole Works of the Reverend John Flavel, 5:442.

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