When the Holy Spirit does his work of regeneration in the hearts of men he does not come on them with great powerful feelings and emotions which cannot be resisted. He does not possess men as evil spirits take possession of their victims.
To suppose that whatever God requireth of us that we have power of ourselves to do, is to make the cross and grace of Jesus Christ of none effect.
Without absolutes revealed from without by God Himself, we are left rudderless in a sea of conflicting ideas about manners, justice and right and wrong, issuing from a multitude of self-opinionated thinkers.
So unspiritual are many men’s minds, and so unsavoury their judgments, that they reckon men’s happiness by their possessions, and suppose the catalogue of their titles to be a roll of their felicities, calling the proud happy, and advancing in our conceits “them that work wickedness,” Mal. 3:15; but God will one day come in with another reckoning, and make them know that all things without Christ are but as ciphers without a figure,—of no value.
The custom of sinning takes away the sense of it, the course of the world takes away the shame of it.
In the divine Scriptures, there are shallows and there are deeps; shallows where the lamb may wade, and deeps where the elephant may swim.
It is not the glorious battlements, the painted windows, the crouching gargoyles that support a building, but the stones that lie unseen in or upon the earth. It is often those who are despised and trampled on that bear up the weight of a whole nation.
It is not the distance of the earth from the sun, nor the sun’s withdrawing itself, that makes a dark and gloomy day; but the interposition of clouds and vaporous exhalations. Neither is thy soul beyond the reach of the promise, nor does God withdraw Himself; but the vapors of thy carnal, unbelieving heart do cloud thee.
Let our hearts admit, “I am poor and weak. Satan is too subtle, too cunning, too powerful; he watches constantly for advantages over my soul. The world presses in upon me with all sorts of pressures, pleas, and pretenses. My own corruption is violent, tumultuous, enticing, and entangling. As it conceives sin, it wars within me and against me. Occasions and opportunities for temptation are innumerable. No wonder I do not know how deeply involved I have been with sin. Therefore, on God alone will I rely for my keeping. I will continually look to Him.
Your state is not at all to be measured by the opposition that sin makes to you, but by the opposition you make to it.
Steadfastness in believing doth not exclude all temptations from without. When we say a tree is firmly rooted, we do not say the wind never blows upon it.
God has work to do in this world; and to desert it because of its difficulties and entanglements, is to cast off His authority. It is not enough that we be just, that we be righteous, and walk with God in holiness; but we must also serve our generation, as David did before he fell asleep. God has a work to do; and not to help Him is to oppose Him.
On Christ’s glory I would fix all my thoughts and desires, and the more I see of the glory of Christ, the more the painted beauties of this world will wither in my eyes and I will be more and more crucified to this world. It will become to me like something dead and putrid, impossible for me to enjoy.
Clearly the Holy Spirit is not merely a quality to be found in the divine nature … He is a holy intelligent person.
All that men do in the world is but seeking to supply their wants;—either their
1) natural wants, that nature may be supplied; or their
2) sinful wants, that their lusts may be satisfied; or their
3) spiritual wants, that their souls may be saved.
For the two first, men without the gospel lay out all their strength; but of the last there is amongst them a deep silence. Now this is all one as for men to cry out that their finger bleeds, whilst a sword is run through their hearts, and they perceive it not;—to desire a wart to be cured, whilst they have a plague-sore upon them. And hence perhaps it is that they are said to go to hell “like sheep,” Ps. 49:14, —very quietly, without dread, as a bird hastens to the snare, and not knowing that it is for his life, Prov. 7:23,—and there lie down in utter disappointment and sorrow for evermore.
The greatest sorrow and burden you can lay on the Father, the greatest unkindness you can do to him is not to believe that he loves you.
(John Owen: John Owen, called the “prince of the English divines,” “the leading figure among the Congregationalist divines,” “a genius with learning second only to Calvin’s,” and “indisputably the leading proponent of high Calvinism in England in the late seventeenth century,” was born in Stadham (Stadhampton), near Oxford. He was the second son of Henry Owen, the local Puritan vicar. Owen showed godly and scholarly tendencies at an early age. He entered Queen’s College, Oxford, at the age of twelve and studied the classics, mathematics, philosophy, theology, Hebrew, and rabbinical writings. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1632 and a Master of Arts degree in 1635. Throughout his teen years, young Owen studied eighteen to twenty hours per day. http://theessentialowen.com/about-owen/)