Friday, October 29, 2010
The first and only duty of the bishops… is to see that the people learn the gospel and the love of Christ. For on no occasion has Christ ordered that indulgences should be preached, but he forcefully commanded the gospel to be preached. What a horror, what a danger for a bishop to permit the loud noise of indulgences among his people, while the gospel is silenced, and to be more concerned with the sale of indulgences than with the gospel!
Luther's Works, Vol. 48, Letters I, edited by J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald and H. T. Lehmann, Fortress Press, letter # 16, p. 47.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
But you must look above and beyond these earthly disappointments, to Jesus as our only Friend. We only want more faith to ask at His hands what we will, and to be satisfied with what He gives, believing that if more were for our good, our dearest and best Friend would give more.
The life of faith is a wonderful life. Honoured is the Christian who is called to live it. He is trained in this life to know more of himself, and more of the unchanging character, love, and tender, watchful care of his heavenly Father. Has God so loved us as to give His only and well-beloved Son to die for us, and is it probably that He will withhold anything that is absolutely needful for us? The trial of faith is the sure way of increasing it. We ask for more faith, and God tries what we have, and that is His way of answering our prayer for its increase. He brings us into trials, so that we are compelled to look only to Him for help. He knocks from beneath us every human and earthly prop; for (to our shame be it spoken) we are for ever hewing out creature cisterns, and constructing earthly supports, instead of going without ceasing to our sure and faithful Friend for all we need.
I sometimes think it were a greater trial to be rich than to be poor. Of this I am quite sure, that riches to the Christian are a great snare, as well as a great trouble, and entails more anxiety and sorrow than real pleasure and enjoyment. If ever I have wished for affluence, it has been to help others. Yet in so doing, what losers might the objects of my charity be in this experimental acquaintance with the Saviour's love! Why did our all-wise God lead the children of Israel through the wilderness, and feed them day by day with manna from heaven and water from the rock, but to shew them what was in them, and what was in Him?
And so He feeds and cares for His sheep now. He is unchanged and unchangeable. He took care of Elisha, and He takes care of us; so let us be of good courage, and trust fully in the Lord our God.
Heaven Opened: A Selection from the Correspondence of Mrs. Mary Winslow, edited by her son, Octavius Winslow, 1864, reprinted by Reformation Heritage Books, 2001, pp. 222-223 (the letter has been broken up into paragraphs in order to make it more readable).
Friday, October 22, 2010
What is wrath to others is mercy to you and your house. It is faith’s work to claim and challenge loving–kindness out of all the roughest strokes of God…
And, since you will not alter upon Him who will not change upon you, I do in my weakness, think myself no spiritual seer if I should not prophesy that daylight is near, when such a morning darkness is upon you; and that this trial of your Christian mind towards Him (whom you dare not leave, nevertheless He should slay you) shall close with a doubled mercy. It is time for faith to hold fast as much of Christ as ever you had, and to make the grip stronger, and to cleave closer to Him, seeing Christ loveth to be believed in and trusted to. The glory of laying strength upon one that is mighty to save is more than we can think.
That piece of service, believing in a smiting Redeemer, is a precious part of obedience. Oh what glory to Him to lay over the burden of our heaven upon Him that purchased for us an eternal kingdom! O blessed soul, who can adore and kiss His lovely free grace!
Letters of Spiritual Counsel: Taken from Samuel Rutherford's Letters (electronic edition), Simpsonville SC: Christian Classics Foundation.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
The Lord bless you, and be not silent to you, and keep you from idols. May your children be kept in their proper place, blessed of the Lord, held in the Lord, and consecrated to the Lord. You will not wish to gain for them the admiration of the world, because you would shudder that they should hereafter be embraced by it, and embosomed in it. A mother in this vicinity lately lost a precious daughter of sixteen. As she stood over the coffin, she said, 'There lies my beautiful girl. Oh, I have been proud of her!' and, turning to a minister who stood beside, 'Do you think, sir, the Lord has taken her away on my account, because I was proud of her? I have been too proud of her.' I do not know the minister's reply, but that which we are to learn from the mother's deep anguish is very plain—'Flee from idolatry' [1 Cor. 10:14].
The Marvelous Riches of Savoring Christ: Letters of Ruth Bryan, with a Preface by the Rev. A. Moody Stuart, Reformation Heritage Books, 2005, p. 55.
Friday, October 15, 2010
Farewell, my most excellent and upright brother; and since it is the will of God that you should survive me in the world, live mindful of our intimacy, which, as it was useful to the church of God, so the fruits of it await us in heaven. I am unwilling that you should fatigue yourself for my sake. I draw my breath with difficulty, and every moment I am in expectation of breathing my last. It is enough that I live and die for Christ, who is to all his followers a gain both in life and death. Again I bid you and your brethren Farewell.
John Calvin: Tracts and Letters, edited by Jules Bonnet and translated by David Constable, first published by the Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1858, republished by The Banner of Truth Trust, 2009, vol. 7, p. 364.