Heaven is the palace, or presence-chamber, of the Supreme Being who is both the cause and source of all holy love. God, indeed, with respect to His essence is everywhere. He fills heaven and earth. But yet He is said on some accounts more especially to be in some places rather than others. He was said of old to dwell in the land of Israel above all other lands, and in Jerusalem above all other cities in that land, and in the temple above all other houses in that city, and in the holy of holies above all other apartments in that temple, and on the mercy seat over the ark above all other places in the holy of holies. But heaven is His dwelling place above all other places in the universe.
The devil can counterfeit all the saving operations and graces of the Spirit of God.
An admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies.
I began to have a new kind of apprehensions and ideas of Christ, and the work of redemption, and the glorious way of salvation by Him. An inward, sweet sense of these things, at times, came into my heart; and my soul was led away in pleasant views and contemplations of them. And my mind was greatly engaged to spend my time in reading and meditating on Christ, on the beauty and excellency of His person, and the lovely way of salvation by free grace in Him.
Lord, grant that from hence I may learn to withdraw thoughts, affections, desires, and expectations entirely from the world, and may fix them upon the heavenly state, where there is fullness of joy; where reigns heavenly, sweet, calm, and delightful love without alloy; where there are continually the dearest expressions of this love; where there is the enjoyment of this love without ever parting; and where those persons, who appear so lovely in this world, will be inexpressibly more lovely, and full of love to us. How sweetly will those, who thus mutually love, join together in singing the praises of God and the Lamb. How full will it fill us with joy, to think that this enjoyment, these sweet exercises, will never cease or come to an end, but will last to all eternity.
I had then, and at other times, the greatest delight in the Holy Scriptures, of any book whatsoever. Oftentimes in reading it, every word seemed to touch my heart. I felt a harmony between something in my heart, and those sweet and powerful words. I seemed often to see so much light exhibited by every sentence, and such a refreshing food communicated, that I could not get along in reading; often dwelling long on one sentence, to see the wonders contained in it; and yet almost every sentence seemed to be full of wonders.
Our external delights, our ambition and reputation, and our human relationships – for all these things our desires are eager, our appetites strong, our love warm and affectionate, our zeal ardent. Our hearts are tender and sensitive when it comes to these things, easily moved, deeply impressed, much concerned, and greatly engaged. We are depressed at our losses and excited and joyful about our worldly successes and prosperity. But when it comes to spiritual matters, how dull we feel! How heavy and hard our hearts! We can sit and hear of the infinite height, and depth, and length, and breadth of the love of God in Christ Jesus, of His giving His infinitely dear Son – and yet be cold and unmoved!… If we are going to be emotional about anything, shouldn’t it be our spiritual lives? Is anything more inspiring, more exciting, more loveable and desirable in heaven or earth than the gospel of Jesus Christ?… The gospel story is designed to affect us emotionally – and our emotions are designed to be affected by its beauty and glory. It touches our hearts at their tenderest parts, shaking us deeply to the core. We should be utterly humbled that we are not more emotionally affected than we are.
Envy is a spirit of dissatisfaction or opposition to the prosperity or happiness of other people.
There is no way that Christians, in a private capacity, can do so much to promote the work of God and advance the kingdom of Christ as by prayer.
The duty of singing praises to God seems to be given wholly to excite and express religious affections. There is no other reason why we should express ourselves to God in verse rather than in prose and with music, except that these things have a tendency to move our affections.
He who has no religious affection is in a state of spiritual death and is wholly destitute of powerful quickening influences of the Spirit of God.
Holy affections do not have heat without light.
I should think myself in the way of my duty, to raise the affections of my hearers as high as I possibly can, provided they are affected with nothing but the truth, and with affections that are not disagreeable to the nature of what they are affected with.
True religious affections are distinguished from false. Affections that are truly spiritual and gracious, do arise from those influences and operations on the heart, which are spiritual, supernatural and divine.
Such is man’s nature, that he is very inactive and lazy unless he is influenced by some affection, either love or hatred, desire, hope, fear, or some other. These affections we see to be the springs that set men agoing, in all the affairs of life, and engage them in all their pursuits.
Nothing sets a Christian so much out of the devil’s reach than humility.
Whether God has decreed all things that ever come to pass or not, all that own the being of a God, own that He knows all things beforehand. Now, it is self-evident that if He knows all things beforehand, He either doth approve of them or doth not approve of them; that is, He either is willing they should be, or He is not willing they should be. But to will that they should be is to decree them.
Some are greatly affected when in company; but have nothing that bears any manner of proportion to it in secret, in close meditation, prayer and conversing with God when alone, and separated from the world. A true Christian doubtless delights in religious fellowship and Christian conversation, and finds much to affect his heart in it; but he also delights at times to retire from all mankind, to converse with God in solitude. And this also has peculiar advantages for fixing his heart, and engaging his affections. True religion disposes persons to be much alone in solitary places for holy meditation and prayer… It is the nature of true grace, however it loves Christian society in its place, in a peculiar manner to delight in retirement, and secret converse with God.
For it appears, that all that is ever spoken of in the Scriptures as the ultimate end of God’s works, is included in that one phrase, the glory of God.
The moral rectitude of the disposition, inclination, or affection of God, chiefly consist in a regard to Himself, infinitely above His regard to all other beings.
Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken, my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.
All the fruits of the Spirit which we are to lay weight upon as evidential of grace, are summed up in charity, or Christian love; because this is the sum of all grace.
It is the sword of the Spirit that pierces [Satan] and conquers him. It is that great and strong sword with which God punishes Leviathan, that crooked serpent. It is that sharp sword that proceeds out of the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, with which He smites his enemies. Every text is a dart to torment the old serpent. He has felt the stinging smart thousands of times. Therefore, he is engaged against the Bible and hates every word of it.
There was no part of creature holiness that I had so great a sense of loveliness as humility, as brokenness of heart and poverty in spirit. There is nothing that I longed for more earnestly. My heart panted after this, to lie low before God as in the dust that I might be nothing and that God might be all.
Humility may be defined to be a habit of mind and heart corresponding to our comparative unworthiness and vileness before God, or a sense of our own comparative meanness in His sight, with the disposition to a behavior answerable thereto.
The more excellent something is the more likely it will be imitated. There are many false diamonds and rubies, but who goes about making counterfeit pebbles? However, the more excellent things are the more difficult it is to imitate them in their essential character and intrinsic virtues. Yet the more variable the imitations be, the more skill and subtlety will be used in making them an exact imitation. So it is with Christian virtues and graces. The devil and men’s own deceitful hearts tend to imitate those things that have the highest value. So no graces are more counterfeited than love and humility. For these are the virtues where the beauty of a true Christian is seen most clearly.
True liberty consists only in the power of doing what we ought to will, and in not being constrained to do what we ought not to will.
Resolved, never to allow the least measure of any fretting uneasiness at my father or mother. Resolved to suffer no effects of it, so much as in the least alteration of speech, or motion of my eye: and to be especially careful of it with respect to any of our family.
Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance, in eating and drinking.
Resolved, to inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking.
There has been a wonderful alteration in my mind, in respect to the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, from that day to this… God’s absolute sovereignty… is what my mind seems to rest assured of, as much as of anything that I see with my eyes… The doctrine has very often appeared exceeding pleasant, bright, and sweet. Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God… God’s sovereignty has ever appeared to me, [a] great part of His glory. It has often been my delight to approach God, and adore him as a sovereign God.
He not only is sovereign, and has a sovereign right to dispose and order in that affair; and He not only might proceed in a sovereign way, if He would, and nobody could charge Him with exceeding His right; but He actually does so; He exercises the right which He has.
And scare any thing, among all the works of nature, was so sweet to me as thunder and lightning. Formerly, nothing had been so terrible to me. I used to be a person uncommonly terrified with thunder: and it used to strike me with terror, when I saw a thunder-storm rising. But now, on the contrary, it rejoiced me. I felt God at the first appearance of a thunder-storm. And used to take the opportunity at such times to fix myself to view the clouds, and see the lightning’s play, and hear the majestic and awful voice of God’s thunder: which often times was exceeding entertaining, leading me to sweet contemplations of my great and glorious God. And while I viewed, used to spend my time, as it always seemed natural to me, to sing or chant forth my meditations; to speak my thoughts in soliloquies, and speak with a singing voice.
Resolved, to inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent, what sin I have committed, and wherein I have denied myself – also at the end of every week, month and year.
Resolved, constantly, with the utmost niceness and diligence, and the strictest scrutiny, to be looking into the state of my soul, that I may know whether I have truly an interest in Christ or not; that when I come to die, I may not have any negligence respecting this to repent of.
A true love of God must begin with a delight in his holiness, and not with a delight in any other attribute; for no other attribute is truly lovely without this.
God has appeared to me, a glorious and lovely being chiefly on account of His holiness. The holiness of God has always appeared to me the most lovely of all His attributes.
Pride is a person having too high an opinion of himself. Pride is the first sin that ever entered into the universe, and the last sin that is rooted out. Pride is the worst sin. It is the most secret of all sins. There is no other matter in which the heart is more deceitful and unsearchable. Alas, how much pride the best have in their hearts! Pride is God’s most stubborn enemy! There is no sin so much like the devil as pride. It is a secret and subtle sin, and appears in a great many shapes which are undetected and unsuspected.
Pride is the worst viper in the heart. It is the first sin that ever entered into the universe. It lies lowest of all in the foundation of the whole building of sin. Of all lusts, it is the most secret, deceitful, and unsearchable in its ways of working. It is ready to mix with everything. Nothing is so hateful to God, contrary to the spirit of the Gospel, or of so dangerous consequence. There is no one sin that does so much to let the devil into the hearts of the saints and expose them to his delusions.
[Pride] is a secret and subtle sin, and appears in a great many shapes which are undetected and unsuspected.
When God is about to bestow some great blessing on His church, it is often His manner, in the first place, so to order things in His providence as to show His church their great need of it, and to bring them into distress for want of it, and so put them upon crying earnestly to Him for it.
The nature of the operations and affections are to be inquired into and examined by the rule of God’s Word and not by the actions of mere sensual spirits.
Some talk of it as an unreasonable thing to fright persons to heaven, but I think it is a reasonable thing to endeavor to fright persons away from hell. They stand upon its brink, and are just ready to fall into it, and are senseless of their danger. Is it not a reasonable thing to fright a person out of a house of fire? Or is it not the duty of a parent to warn their child running toward the edge of a cliff?
Do we who have the care of souls know what hell is? Have we seen the state of the damned? Are we aware how dreadful their case is? Do we know that most people go there unaware of their danger? And do we see that our hearers are not aware of their danger? If we knew all this, it would be morally impossible for us to avoid passionately telling them the dreadfulness of that misery and their great exposure to it. We would cry aloud to them!
When ministers preach about hell and warn sinners to avoid it in a cold manner – though they may say in words that it is infinitely terrible – they contradict themselves. For actions…have a language as well as words. If a preacher’s words represent the sinner’s state as infinitely dreadful while his behavior and manner of speaking contradict it – showing that the preacher does not think so – he defeats his own purpose. The language of his actions in such a case is much more powerful than the bare meaning of his words.
We ought carefully and with the utmost seriousness and consideration attend the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper: this was appointed for this end, to draw forth longings of our souls toward Jesus Christ. Here are the glorious objects of spiritual desire by visible signs represented to our view. We have Christ evidently set forth crucified…. Here we have that spiritual meat and drink represented and offered to excite our hunger and thirst; here we have all that spiritual feast represented which God has provided for poor souls; and here we may hope in some measure to have our longing souls satisfied in this world by the gracious communications of the Spirit of God.
The person to whom the Spirit gives testimony and for whom He raises their esteem must be Jesus – the one who appeared in the flesh. No other Christ can stand in His place. No mystical, fantasy Christ! No light within – as the spirit of Quakers extols – can diminish esteem of and dependence upon an outward Christ. The Spirit who gives testimony for this historical Jesus and leads to Him can be no other than the Spirit of God.
There is [in God] an inexhaustible fountain of blessings. Every kind of dainty is in inexhaustible plenty. Therefore ‘tis called a river of life, rivers of pleasure forevermore (Revelation 22:1). Here the soul manifests itself abundantly without danger of spending the provision. Therefore Christ says to His people, “Eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved” (Song of Songs 5:1). There is no such thing as excess in our taking of this spiritual food. There is no such virtue as temperance in spiritual feasting… At God’s right hand there are pleasures forevermore. There you may eat and drink, and always be satisfied and yet never be glutted. You may eat and drink abundantly and never be in danger of excess.
Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.
Lukewarmness in the Christian faith is vile, and zeal an excellent grace; yet above all other Christian virtues, this needs to be strictly watched and searched. For it is zeal with which corruption and pride and human passion is very apt to mix unobserved.
Seek not to grow in knowledge chiefly for the sake of applause, and to enable you to dispute with others; but seek it for the benefit of your souls.
People may seem to have an extraordinary conviction of the dreadful nature of sin and a very uncommon sense of the misery of a Christless condition. They may have extraordinary views of the certainty and glory of divine things. They may be moved with extraordinary affections of fear and sorrow, desire, love, or joy. People may be changed very suddenly, and the work be carried on with very unusual swiftness… If in its nature an operation conforms to the rules and marks given in Scripture, the extraordinary and unusual degree of influence and power is rather an argument in its favor. The higher the degree of agreement to the rule, the more evident that conformity.
Some of these things the devil would not do if he could. He would not awaken the conscience and make men aware of their miserable state caused by sin. He would not make them aware of their great need of a Savior. The devil would not confirm men in the belief that Jesus is the Son of God and the Savior of sinners or raise men’s value and esteem of Him. He would not generate in men’s minds an opinion of the necessity, usefulness, and truth of the Holy Scriptures or induce them to make much use of them. Nor would he show men the truth in things that concern their souls’ interest. He would not undeceive them and lead them out of darkness into light. He would not give them a view of things as they really are…Therefore, we may be sure that these marks are especially adapted to distinguish between the true Spirit and the devil transformed into an angel of light.
There are many things concerning this work [of revival] that are well known. These are sufficient to determine it to be the work of God… The Spirit who is at work takes people’s minds off the vanities of the world. He engages them in a deep concern about eternal happiness. He puts their thoughts on earnestly seeking their salvation. He convinces them of the dreadfulness of sin and of their own guile and miserable natural state. The Spirit awakens men’s consciences and makes them aware of God’s awful anger. He causes in them a great desire and earnest care and endeavor to obtain God’s favor. He causes them to be more diligent in the use of His appointed means of grace. Especially, this is seen in a greater desire to hear and read the word of God. And it is well known that the Spirit who is at work operates as the Spirit of truth. He makes people more aware of what is really true in those things that concern their eternal salvation. He impresses on them that they must die and that life is very short and uncertain. He shows them there is a great sin-hating God to whom they are accountable and who will fix them in an eternal state in another world. He shows them they stand in great need of a Savior. He makes persons more aware of the value of Jesus who was crucified and their need of Him. And this awareness moves them earnestly to seek an interest in Him.
Without the capacity of rational argument, all our proof of God ceases.
Resolved, to strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before.
That perfection of God which we call faithfulness, or His inclination to fulfill His promises to His creatures, could not properly be what moved Him to create the world, nor could such a fulfillment of His promises to His creatures be His last end in giving the creatures being.
God created man for nothing else but happiness. He created him only that He might communicate happiness to him.
Jesus knew that all mankind were in the pursuit of happiness. He has directed them in the true way to it, and He tells them what they must become in order to be blessed and happy.
[This desire for happiness is] insuperable,…never can be changed…never can be overcome, or in any way abated. Young and old love happiness alike, and good and bad, wise and unwise.
They certainly are the wisest men that do those things that make the most for their happiness, and this in effect is acknowledged by all men in the world, for there is no man upon the earth who isn’t earnestly seeking after happiness, and it appears abundantly by the variety of ways they so vigorously seek it.
Resolved: To endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness in the other world as I possibly can, with all the power, might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of."
I was almost constantly in ejaculatory prayer, wherever I was. Prayer seemed to be natural to me, as the breath by which the inward burnings of my heart had vent.
As God delights in His own beauty, He must necessarily delight in the creature’s holiness which is a conformity to and participation of it.
The true spirit of prayer is no other than God’s own Spirit dwelling in the hearts of the saints. And as this spirit comes from God, so doth it naturally tend to God in holy breathings and pantings. It naturally leads to God, to converse with him by prayer.
Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.
Our obligation to love, honor, and obey any being is in proportion to his loveliness, honorableness, and authority… But God is a being infinitely lovely, because He hath infinite excellence and beauty… So that sin against God, being a violation of infinite obligations, must be a crime infinitely heinous, and so deserving infinite punishment… The eternity of the punishment of ungodly men renders it infinite…and therefore renders [it] no more that proportionable to the heinousness of what they are guilty of.
We should never be angry but at sin, and this should always be that which we oppose in our anger. And when our spirits are stirred to oppose this evil, it should be as sin, or chiefly as it is against God. If there be no sin and no fault, then we have no cause to be angry; and if there be a fault or sin, then it is infinitely worse as against God than it is as against us, and therefore it requires the most opposition on that account. Persons sin in their anger when they are selfish in it; for we are not to act as if we were our own, or for ourselves simply, since we belong to God, and not to ourselves. When a fault is committed wherein God is sinned against, and persons are injured by it, they should be chiefly concerned, and their spirits chiefly moved against it, because it is against God; for they should be more solicitous for God’s honor than for their own temporal interests.
Resolved, after afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them, and what I might have got by them.
The blessedness of Heaven is so glorious that when the saints arrive there they will look back upon their earthly pilgrimage, however wonderful their life in Christ was then, as a veritable Hell. Just as truly, on the other hand, will those who perish in Hell look back on the life in this world, however miserable it may have been, as veritable Heaven.
Resolved, never to do anything out of revenge.
There is no inconsistency or contrariety between the decretive and preceptive will of God. It is very consistent to suppose that God may hate the thing itself, and yet will that it should come to pass. Yea, I do not fear to assert that the thing itself may be contrary to God’s will, and yet that it may be agreeable to His will that it should come to pass, because His will, in the one case, has not the same object with His will in the other case. To suppose God to have contrary wills towards the same object, is a contradiction; but it is not so, to suppose Him to have contrary wills about different objects. The thing itself, and that the thing should come to pass, are different, as is evident; because it is possible that the one may be good and the other may be evil. The thing itself may be evil, and yet it may be a good thing that it should come to pass. It may be a good thing that an evil thing should come to pass; and oftentimes it most certainly and undeniably is so, and proves so.
God can answer prayer, though He bestow not the very thing for which we pray. He can sometimes better answer the lawful desires and good end we have in prayer another way. If our end be our own good and happiness, God can perhaps better answer that end in bestowing something else than in the bestowment of the very thing which we ask. And if the main good we aim at in our prayers be attained, our prayer in answered.
All the virtues which appeared in Christ shone brightest in the close of His life, under the trials He then met. Eminent virtue always shows brightest in the fire. Pure gold shows its purity chiefly in the furnace. It was chiefly under those trials which Christ endured in the close of His life that His love to God, His honor of God’s majesty, His regard to the honor of His law, His spirit of obedience, His humility, contempt of the world, His patience, meekness, and spirit of forgiveness towards men, appeared. Indeed, everything that Christ did to work out redemption for us appears mainly in the close of His life. Here mainly is His satisfaction for sin, and here chiefly is His merit of eternal life for sinners, and here chiefly appears the brightness of His example which He has set us for imitation.
I have this day solemnly renewed my baptismal covenant and self-dedication, which I renewed when I was received into the communion of the church. I have been before God; and have given myself, all that I am and have to God, so that I am not in any respect my own: I can challenge no right in myself, I can challenge no right in this understanding, this will, these affections that are in me; neither have I any right to this body, or any of its members: no right to this tongue, these hands, nor feet: no right to these senses, these eyes, these ears, this smell or taste. I have given myself clear away, and have not retained anything as my own. I have been to God this morning, and told Him that I gave myself wholly to Him. I have given every power to Him; so that for the future I will challenge no right in myself, in any respect.
Our obligation to love, honor and obey any being is in direct proportion to that being’s loveliness, honorableness and authority. Since God is of infinite loveliness, infinite honor and infinite authority our obligation to Him is infinite.
In efficacious grace we are not merely passive, nor yet does God do some and we do the rest. But God does all, and we do all. God produces all, we act all. For that is what produces, viz. our own acts. God is the only proper author and fountain; we only are the proper actors. We are in different respects, wholly passive and wholly active.
Grace is but glory begun, and glory is but grace perfected.
Pride is the worst viper in the human heart! Pride is the greatest disturber of the soul’s peace, and of sweet communion with Christ. Pride is with the greatest difficulty rooted out. Pride is the most hidden, secret, and deceitful of all lusts! Pride often creeps insensibly into the midst of religion, even, sometimes, under the disguise of humility itself!
There is a way in which the Spirit leads the sons of God, a way that others do not know; and that is by inclining them to do the will of God, to go in the path of truth and Christian holiness from a holy, heavenly disposition which the Spirit of God gives them. The Spirit inclines and leads them to those things that are excellent and agreeable to God. He enlightens them with respect to their duty, by making their eye single and pure, whereby the whole body is full of light. The purifying influence of the Spirit corrects the taste of the soul; thereby He savors those things that are holy and agreeable to God. Like one with a discriminating taste, He chooses those things that are good and wholesome, and rejects those that are evil. And thus the Spirit of God leads and guides; He enables men to understand the commands and counsels of God’s Word, and rightly to apply them.
Not that I think only the law should be preached. The Gospel is to be preached as well as the law. The law is to be preached only to make way for the Gospel, and in order that it may be preached more powerfully. The main work of a minister is to preach the Gospel.
‘Tis not God’s design that men should obtain assurance in any other way, than by mortifying corruption, and increasing in grace, and obtaining the lively exercises of it. And although self-examination be a duty of great use and importance, and by no means to be neglected; yet it is not the principal means, by which the saints do get satisfaction of their good estate. Assurance is not to be obtained so much by self-examination, as by action.
Though true grace has various degrees, and there are some that are but babes in Christ, in whom the exercise of the inclination and will, towards divine and heavenly things, is comparatively weak; yet everyone that has the power of godliness in his heart, has his inclinations and heart exercised towards God and divine things, with such strength and vigor that these holy exercises do prevail in him above all carnal or natural affections, and are effectual to overcome them: for every true disciple of Christ "loves Him above father or mother, wife and children, brethren and sisters, houses and lands: yea, than his own life."
There is a language in actions. And in some cases the language of action is much more clear and convincing than words.
Whenever I hear anything spoken in conversation of any person, if I think it would be praiseworthy in me, Resolved to endeavor to imitate it. July 8, 1723.
The Word of God is the principle means by which other means operate and are made effectual… For all that is visible to the eye is vague and vain without the Word of God to instruct and guide the mind. It is the Word of God that is indeed held forth and applied by example, just as the word of the Lord sounded forth to other towns of Macedonia and Achaia by the example of those who believed in Thessalonica.
God has appointed this whole life to be all as a race or a battle; the state of rest, wherein we shall be so out of danger as to have no need of watching and fighting, is for another world.
This commitment to total obedience does not mean a mere negative avoidance of evil practices. It also means positively obeying God’s commands. We cannot say that someone is a true Christian just because he is not a thief, liar, blasphemer, drunkard, sexually immoral, arrogant, cruel or fierce. He also has to be positively God-fearing, humble, respectful, gentle, peaceful, forgiving, merciful and loving. Without these positive qualities, he is not obeying the laws of Christ.
What is the surest character of true, divine, supernatural love that distinguishes it from counterfeits that arise from a natural self-love? It is the Christian virtue of humility that shines in it. Divine love above all others renounces and abases what we term “self.” Christian love or true love is a humble love… In that person we see a sense of his own smallness, vileness, weakness, and utter insufficiency. We see a lack of self-confidence. We see self-emptiness, self-denial, and poverty of spirit. These are the manifest tokens of the Spirit of God.