Quotes by Stephen Charnock
If every attribute of the Deity were a distinct member, holiness would be the soul to animate them. Without holiness His patience would be an indulgence to sin, His mercy a fondness, His wrath a madness, His power a tyranny, His wisdom an unworthy subtlety.Holiness gives decorum to them all.
Grace is as large in renewing us as sin was in defacing.
As it seems to challenge an excellency above all His other perfections, so it is the glory of all the rest; as it is the glory of the Godhead, so it is the glory of every perfection in the Godhead; as His power is the strength of them, so His holiness is the beauty of them; as all would be weak without almightiness to back them, so all would be uncomely without holiness to adorn them. Should this be sullied, all the rest would lose their honour; as at the same instant the sun should lose its light, it would lose its heat, its strength, its generative and quickening virtue. As sincerity is the luster of every grace in a Christian, so is purity the splendor of every attribute in the Godhead. His justice is a holy justice, His wisdom a holy wisdom, His arm of power a "holy arm" (Ps. 98:1), His truth or promise a "holy promise" (Ps. 105:42). His name, which signifies all His attributes in conjunction, "is holy," Psalm 103:1.
It is less injury to Him to deny His being, than to deny the purity of it; the one makes Him no God, the other a deformed, unlovely, and a detestable God… He that saith God is not holy speaks much worse that he that saith there is no God at all.
All our works before repentance are dead works (Hebrews 6:1). And these works have no true beauty in them, with whatsoever gloss they may appear to a natural eye. A dead body may have something of the features and beauty of a living, but it is but the beauty of a carcass, not of a man… Since man, therefore, is spiritually dead, he cannot perform a living service. As a natural death does incapacitate for natural actions, so a spiritual death must incapacitate for spiritual actions.
God, apart from Christ, is an angry, offended Sovereign. Unless we behold Him in and through Christ, the Mediator, the terrors of His Majesty would overwhelm us. We dare not approach the Father except in Christ because of our sins. We first fasten our eyes upon Christ, then upon the Father. If Christ does not bear our guilt and reconcile us unto God, we perish! Before any man can think to stand before the face of God’s justice or be admitted to the secret chamber of God’s mercy or partake of the riches of His grace, he must look to the Mediator, Christ Jesus.
Wisdom and power are the ground of the respect we give to men; they being both infinite in God, are the foundation of a solemn honor to be returned to Him by His creatures. If a man make a curious engine, we honor him for his skill; if another vanquish a vigorous enemy, we admire him for his strength; and shall not the efficacy of God’s power in creation, government, redemption, inflame us with a sense of the honor of His name and perfections! We admire those princes that have vast empires, numerous armies, that have a power to conquer their enemies, and preserve their own people in peace; how much more ground have we to pay a mighty reverence to God, who, without trouble and weariness, made and manages this vast empire of the world by a word and beck! What sensible thoughts have we of the noise of thunder, the power of the sun, the storms of the sea! These things, that have no understanding, have struck men with such a reverence that many have adored them as gods. What reverence and adoration does this mighty power, joined with an infinite wisdom in God, demand at our hands.
As holiness is the beauty of all God’s attributes, so power is that which gives life and action to all the perfections of the Divine nature. How vain would be the eternal counsels, if power did not step in to execute them. Without power His mercy would be but feeble pity, His promises an empty sound, His threatenings a mere scarecrow. God’s power is like Himself: infinite, eternal, incomprehensible; it can neither be checked, restrained, nor frustrated by the creature.
How foolish is every sinner. Can we poor worms strut it out against infinite power? Oh, that every obstinate sinner would think of this, and consider his unmeasurable boldness in thinking himself able to grapple with omnipotence! What force can any have to resist the presence of Him before whom rocks melt, and the heavens at length shall be shriveled up as a parchment by the last fire! As the light of God’s face is too dazzling to be beheld by us, so the arm of His power is too mighty to be opposed by us.
Had it been published by a voice from heaven, that twelve poor men, taken out of boats and creeks, without any help of learning, should conquer the world to the cross, it might have been thought an illusion against all reason of men; yet we know it was undertaken and accomplished by them.
God doth not will [sin] directly, and by an efficacious will. He doth not directly will it, because He hath prohibited it by His law, which is a discovery of His will; so that if He should directly will sin, and directly prohibit it, He would will good and evil in the same manner, and there would be contradictions in God’s will: to will sin absolutely, is to work it (Psalm 115:3): “God hath done whatsoever He pleased.” God cannot absolutely will it, because He cannot work it. God wills good by a positive decree, because He hath decreed to effect it. He wills evil by a private decree, because He hath decreed not to give that grace which would certainly prevent it. God doth not will sin simply, for that were to approve it, but He wills it, in order to that good His wisdom will bring forth from it. He wills not sin for itself, but for the event.
Without faith we are not fit to desire mercy, without humility we are not fit to receive it, without affection we are not fit to value it, without sincerity we are not fit to improve it.
Presume not upon God’s patience. The exercise of it is not eternal; you are at present under His patience, yet while you are unconverted you are also under His anger: “God is angry with the wicked every day” (Psm. 7:11). You know not how soon His anger may turn His patience aside, and step before it. It may be His sword is drawn out of the scabbard, His arrows may be settled in His bow, and perhaps there is but a little time before you may feel the edge of the one or the point of the other, and then there will be no more time for patience in God to us, or petition from us to Him. If we die without repentance, He will have no longer mercy to pardon, nor patience to bear.
A proud faith is as much a contradiction as a humble devil.
Without the heart it is not worship; it is a stage play; an acting a part without being that person really…a hypocrite. We may truly be said to worship God-though we lack perfection; but we cannot be said to worship Him if we lack sincerity.
Not all the vials of judgment that have or shall be poured out upon the wicked world, nor the flaming furnace of a sinner’s conscience, nor the irreversible sentence pronounced against the rebellious demons, nor the groans of the damned creatures – give such a demonstration of God’s hatred of sin – as the wrath of God let loose upon His Son! Never did divine holiness appear more beautiful and lovely than at the time our Savior’s countenance was most marred in the midst of His dying groans – when God had turned His smiling face from Him, and thrust His sharp knife into His heart, which forced that terrible cry from Him, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me!”
It is a sad thing to be Christians at a supper, heathens in our shops, and devils in our closets.
Nourish right conceptions of the majesty of God in your minds. Let us consider that we are drawing to God, the most amiable object, the best of beings, worthy of infinite honor, and highly meriting the highest affections we can give; a God that made the world by a word, that upholds the great frame of heaven and earth; a Majesty above the conceptions of angels; who uses not His power to strike us our deserved punishment, but His love and bounty to allure us; a God that gave all creatures to serve us, and can, in a trice, make them as much our enemies as he hath now made them our servants. Let us view Him in His greatness, and in His goodness, that our hearts may have a true value of the worship of so great a majesty, and count it the most worthy employment with all diligence to attend upon Him.
When we enjoy God, we enjoy Him in His eternity without any flux… After many ages, the joys will be as savory and satisfying as if they had been but that moment first tasted by our hungry appetites. When the glory of the Lord shall rise upon you, it shall be so far from ever setting, that after millions of years are expired, as numerous as the sands on the seashore, the sun, in the light of whose countenance you shall live, shall be as bright as at the first appearance; He will be so far from ceasing to flow, that He will flow as strong, as full, as at the first communication of Himself in glory to the creature. God is always vigorous and flourishing; a pure act of life, sparkling new and fresh rays of life and light to the creature, flourishing with a perpetual spring, and contenting the most capacious desire; forming your interest, pleasure, and satisfaction; with an infinite variety, without any change or succession; He will have variety to increase delights, and eternity to perpetuate them; this will be the fruit of the enjoyment of an infinite and eternal God.
When we enjoy God, we enjoy Him in His eternity without any flux… Time is fluid, but eternity is stable; and after many ages, the joys will be as savory and satisfying as if they had been but that moment first tasted by our hungry appetites. When the glory of the Lord shall rise upon you, it shall be so far from ever setting, that after millions of years are expired, as numerous as the sands on the seashore, the sun, in the light of whose countenance you shall live, shall be as bright as at the first appearance; He will be so far from ceasing to flow, that He will flow as strong, as full, as at the first communication of Himself in glory to the creature. God is always vigorous and flourishing; a pure act of life, sparkling new and fresh rays of life and light to the creature, flourishing with a perpetual spring, and contenting the most capacious desire; forming your interest, pleasure, and satisfaction; with an infinite variety, without any change or succession; He will have variety to increase delights, and eternity to perpetuate them; this will be the fruit of the enjoyment of an infinite and eternal God.
We often learn more of God under the rod that strikes us than under the staff that comforts us.
Works make not the heart good, but a good heart makes the works good.
Assurance is the fruit that grows out of the root of faith.
In regard of God, patience is a submission to His sovereignty. To endure a trial, simply because we cannot avoid or resist it, is not Christian patience. But to humbly submit because it is the will of God to inflict the trial, to be silent because the sovereignty of God orders it – is true godly patience.
When we believe that we ought to be satisfied, rather than God glorified, we set God below ourselves, imagine that He should submit His own honor to our advantage; we make ourselves more glorious than God, as though we were not made for Him, but He made for us; this is to have a very low esteem of the majesty of God.
To pretend to homage to God, and intend only the advantage of self, is rather to mock Him than worship Him. When we believe that we ought to be satisfied, rather than God glorified, we set God below ourselves, imagine that He should submit His own honor to our advantage: we make ourselves more glorious than God.
If God is in fact our Enemy with only destructive intentions toward us, why do we experience any good at all? It isn’t surprising that life is painful. What’s surprising is that life is joyful. What do our simple, daily joys mean? Is God pretending to be our Friend, is He setting us up for the ultimate nasty surprise? Or is God sending us signals every day that His heart is loving and kind, so kind that we can go back to Him in repentance and find His arms open to us?
A man may be theologically knowing and spiritually ignorant.
Without the heart it’s not worship, it’s a stage play.