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On Christ’s Gethsemane prayer:
“Though we may pray to God to prevent and remove an affliction, yet our chief errand and that which we should most insist upon, must be, that he will give us grace to bear it well. It should be more our care to get our troubles sanctified, and our hearts satisfied under them, than to get them taken way. [Jesus] prayed, saying, Thy will be done.”
– Matthew Henry on Matthew 26:36-46
“Sometimes truth is lost first in a church, and then holiness, and sometimes the decay or hatred of holiness is the cause of the loss of truth; but where either is rejected, the other will not abide.”
– John Owen, The Works of John Owen (ed. William H. Goold; vol. 7; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, n.d.), 199.
“For a minister to preach the word without constant prayer for its success is a likely means to cherish and strengthen secret atheism in his own heart, and very unlikely to work holiness in the lives of others.”
– John Owen, The Works of John Owen (ed. William H. Goold; vol. 7; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, n.d.), 190.
“Gospel truth is the only root whereon gospel holiness will grow.”
– John Owen, The Works of John Owen (ed. William H. Goold; vol. 7; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, n.d.), 188.
My “Principles of Sanctification” class at RTS Jackson reads J.C. Ryle’s classic, Holiness. Ryle always aims to reach the heart of his reader.
Among the marks of growing in grace, he writes, is increase in love.
The man whose soul is ‘growing’ is more full of love every year – of love to all men, but especially love toward the brethren. His love will show itself actively in a growing disposition to do kindness, to take trouble for others, to be good-natured to everybody, to be generous, sympathizing, thoughtful, tender-hearted, and considerate. It will show itself passively in a growing disposition to be meek and patient toward all men, to put up with provocation and not stand upon rights, to bear and forbear much rather than quarrel. A growing soul will try to put the best construction on other people’s conduct, and to believe all things and hope all things, even to the end. There is no surer mark of backsliding and falling off in grace than an increasing disposition to find fault, pick holes, and see weak points in others. Would anyone know if he is growing grace? Then him look within for increasing love.”
– J.I. Packer. Faithfulness and Holiness: The Witness of J.C. Ryle (Wheaton:
Crossway, 2002), 193-194. (The book includes the full text of the first edition of Ryle’s Holiness.)
On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I shall complete a three month series in 1 Thessalonians. Like many other preachers, my favorite book of the Bible is the one I am preaching. This letter of Paul is no exception. Calvin, Simeon, and Stott were particularly helpful advisors as I worked through the text, and I put their books back on my shelves with thanksgiving for each man’s piety, skill, and wisdom.
When in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, the apostle writes: “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,” we obtain insight into how Paul the pastor prayed for his congregation. He sought from God their sanctification, protection, and perseverance.
On sanctification Calvin comments: Paul “knowing that all doctrine is useless until God engraves it, as it were, with his own finger upon our hearts, beseeches God that he would sanctify the Thessalonians.” And sanctification will only be “pure and entire when [a man] thinks nothing in his mind, desires nothing in heart, and does nothing with his body, except what is approved by God.”
We pray without ceasing for God’s sanctifying grace.
Thomas Brooks reflects on humility:
“Labor to be clothed with humility. Humility makes a man peaceable among brethren, fruitful in well-doing, cheerful in suffering, and constant in holy walking (1 Pet. 5:5). Humility fits for the highest services we owe to Christ, and yet will not neglect the lowest service to the [most ordinary] saint (John 13:5) . . . Humility can weep over other men’s weaknessses, and joy and rejoice over their graces. Humility will make a man quiet and contented in the [lowliest] condition, and it will preserve a man from envying other men’s prosperous condition (1 Thess 1:2,3). Humility honors those that are strong in grace and puts two hands under those that are weak in grace (Eph. 3:8). . . Ah! were Christians more humble, there would be less fire and more love among them than now is.”
– Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, 1652 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2011), 209-11.