From the Pen of Samuel Rutherford

Screen Shot 2019-05-21 at 1.31.25 PMI have been reading and re-reading The Letters of Samuel Rutherford, and I keep jotting down notes, underlying -and over-underlying! the text, praying, and meditating on the words he penned from prison to his parishioners. What a gift for us to be encouraged by this man’s gift to point us to Christ and keep looking up to Him no matter how heavy our afflictions may be.

Here are a few quotes for your own encouragement and meditation:

“Now honor God, shame the strong roaring lion, when you seem weakest. Should such an one as you faint in the day of adversity? Call to mind the days of old; the Lord yet liveth; trust in him, although he should slay you. Faith is exceedingly charitable, and believeth no evil of God.”

“I would advise you ask of God a submissive heart.”

“…and though we cannot see a reason for it, yet He hath a most just reason.”

“Worthy and dear Lady, in the strength of Christ, fight and overcome. You are now alone, but you may have, for the seeking, three always in your company, the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit. I trust they are near you.”

“Therefore, I entreat you and charge you in the Lord’s name, pray!”

“I know Christ shall make Aberdeen [where he was imprisoned] my garden of delights.”

“Faith will trust the Lord, and it is not hasty nor headstrong. Neither is faith so timorous as to flatter a temptation or ti bud and bribe the cross.”

“I think it the Lord’s wise love that feeds us with hunger, and makes us fat with wants and desertions.”

“I know that He who sent me to the west and south sends me also to the north. I will charge my soul to believe and to wait for Him, and will follow His Providence and not go before it nor stay behind it.”

“My adversaries have sent me here [the prison in Aberdeen] to be feasted with love banquets with my royal, high, high, and princely Lord Jesus.”

“But I will yield to Him, providing my suffering may preach more than my tongue did.. I will hold my peace hereafter.”

“To pray and believe now, when Christ seems to give you a nay-say, is more than it was before. Die believing; die, and Christ’s promise in your hand!”

“I find it most true, that the greatest temptation out of Hell is to live without temptations. If my waters would stand, they would rot. Faith is the better for the free air and the sharp winter-storm in its face. Grace withereth without adversity. The Devil is but God’s master-fencer, to teach us to handle our weapons.”

“[I have been helped] By praying for others; for, by making an errand to God  for them, I have gotten something for myself.”

“I have been really confirmed, in many particulars, that God heareth prayers; and therefore I used to pray for any thing, of how little importance soever.”

“I know it is no dumb Providence, but a speaking one, whereby our Lord speaketh his mind to you, though for the present ye do not well understand what He saith. However, it  be, he who sitteth upon the floods hath shown you this marvelous loving kindness in the great depths. I know that your loss is great, and your hope is gone far against you. but I entreat you, sir, expound aright our Lord’s laying all hindrances in the way.”

“My dear brother, let God make of you what he will, he will end all with consolation, and will make glory out of your sufferings; and would you wish better work? This water was in your way to heaven and written in your Lord’s Book: ye behoved to cross it, and therefore, kiss the wise and uttering Providence. Let not the censures of men, who see but the outside of things, and scare well that, abate your courage and rejoicing in the Lord. Howbeit your faith seeth but the black side of Providence, yet it hath a better side, and God will let you see it.”

“Your heart is not the compass Christ saileth by.”

“O sweet stability of well-founded salvation! Who could win heaven, if this were not so? and who could be saved, if God were not God, and if he were not such a God as He is? O, God be thanked, that our salvation is coasted and landed and shored upon Christ, who is Master of winds and storms!”

“I hold my peace here; let Him do His will.”

“I remain a still a prisoner of hope, and do think it service to the Lord to wait on still with submission, till the Lord’s morning sky break, and his summer day dawn.”

“Our hope is not hung upon such an untwisted thread as, “I imagine so” or “It is likely”; but the cable, the strong tow of our fastened anchor, is the oath and promise of Him who is eternal verity.”

“It is easy to make conscience believe as you will, not as you know.”

“My dear brother be not frightened at the cross of Christ. It is not seen yet what Christ will do for you when it cometh to the words. He will keep his grace till you be at starit, and then bring forth the decreed birth of your salvation. You are an arrow of his own making. Let Him shoot you against a wall of brass, your point shall keep whole.”

“If we had more practice of obedience, we should have more sound light.”

“Slack not your hands in meeting to pray.”

“You say, that you know not what to do… Say, “Pray, Father, save me from this hour”. What course can you take, but pray, and trust Christ’s own comforts? He is not bankrupt, take His Word. “Oh,” say you, “I cannot pray.” I answer, honest sighing is faith breathing and whispering in the ear..”

“Say, ‘I shall rather spoil twenty prayers, than to not pray at all. Let my broken words go up to Heaven; when they come up into the angel’s golden censer, that compassionate Advocate will put together my broken prayers and perfume them,’  Words are but accidents of prayer.”

“Lend Christ your melancholy, for Satan has no right to make chamber in your melancholy.”

“There is no way of quieting the mind, and of silencing the heart of a mother, but godly submission. The readiest way for peace and consolation to clay-vessels is, that it is a stroke of the Potter and Former of all things… It is not safe to be pulling and drawing with the Omnipotent Lord. Let the pull go with him, for he is strong; and say, “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven.”

“It is the art and sill of faith to read what the Lord writes upon the Cross, and to spell and construct right his sense. Often we miscall words and sentences of the cross, and either put nonsense on his rids, or burden His Majesty with slanders and mistakes, when He minded for us thoughts of peace and love, even to do us good in the latter end.”

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky Pliego

 

 

PC: Aaron Burden via Unsplash

The Excellency of Meekness and Quietness of Spirit

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In the first chapter of Matthew Henry’s book, The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit, he writes about the nature of this trait. (I shared some quotes and thoughts here). Now in this second chapter he moves on to explain the excellency of a meek and quiet spirit.

Here are some wonderful quotes (and some added thoughts):

“It is easier to kill an enemy without, which may be done at a blow, than to chain up and govern an enemy within, which requires a constant, even, steady hand, and a long and regular management.”

Like Owen, Henry understood that the real enemy is within us and the only thing we were supposed to do with it was kill it. Mortification of the flesh and of sins in us were a doctrine that was taught, believed and pursued with much earnest then; and how we need to recover that! Especially now that the world has indoctrinated us  to look outside us to find the fault within us (For example, “It was my dad’s fault that now I am this way.”). We must stop blaming the circumstances around us, and start pursuing a meek and quiet spirit who is prone to fight sin with us. Henry continues encouraging us to remember that, “Meekness is a victory over ourselves and the rebellious lusts in our own bosoms.”  The meek man will indeed fight and win.

Mathew Henry writes that a person who has learned to be meek and quiet in his spirit will be quiet and in control of himself even when the world around them will be busy and noisy. He writes,

“A meek and quiet Christian must needs live very comfortably, for he enjoys himself, he enjoys his friends, he enjoys his God, and he puts it out of reach of his enemies to disturb him in these enjoyments.”

I love that!  I want to learn this lesson well. To not let anything nor anyone to rob me of the gifts that God has given me. What a blessing that would be!

Henry continues (and this might be my favorite quote of this chapter!),

“The greatest provocations that men can give would not hurt us if we did not, by our own inordinate and foolish concern, come too near them, and within the reach of their cannon; we may therefore thank ourselves if we be damaged. He that has learned, with meekness and quietness to forgive injuries, and pass them by, has found the best and surest way of baffling and defeating them…”

Henry writes about the ways in which a meek and a quiet spirit will profit us. He mentions these specific areas:

1. It is profitable because it is the condition to receive the promise: “The meek shall inherit the earth”

2. Meekness directly affects our own interests like our health, our wealth (being much or little), our safety.

Lastly Matthew Henry incites us to consider what a “preparative this meekness and quietness of spirit is for something further.”  As Christians we want to be able to stand strong, unshakable, “well fitted and furnished for every good work, to be made ready, and be a people prepared for the Lord…”

He mentions five ways in which this grace of meekness is “particularly a good preparation for what lies before us in this world:”

1. It makes us fit for any duty. Including our spiritual duties like reading the Word, praying, and keeping the Lord’s Day.

2. It makes us fit for any relation which God and His Providence may call us into.

3. It makes us fit for any condition according as the wise God shall please to dispose of us. And on this he writes,

“Those that through grace are enabled to compose and quiet themselves are fit to live in this world, where we meet with so much every day to discompose and disquiet us. In general, whether the outward condition be prosperous or adverse, whether the world would smile or frown upon us, a meek and quiet spirit is neither lifted up with the one, nor cast down with the other, but still in the same poise…”

 

“Meekness and quietness will fortify the soul on each hand, and suit it to several entertainments which the world gives us; like a skillful pilot who, whatever point of the compass the wind blows from, will shift his sails accordingly, and who knows either how to get forward and weather his point with it, or to lie by without damage. It is the continual happiness of a quiet temper to make the best of that which is.”

4. It makes us fit for a day of persecution.

5. It makes us fit for death and eternity.

So now we only have one more chapter left in this book, and if God permits, I will share some more quotes and thoughts about it next week.

What a blessing it is to have many of the books that Puritans wrote available for us today. I hope you may be encouraged to always have one among the books you are currently reading.

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky Pliego

PC: Jeremy Bishop via Unsplash

The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit -Ch. 1-

N0Y8fkAXQGWq5hpoX4tgNwWith a desire to expose my dear daughter to the writings of the Puritans, I decided to pull out Matthew Henry’s book, The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit. I remembered I loved this book, but I had forgotten how much I loved it. I am so glad my daughter and I are reading it together this time, because I can tell she is loving it too. (And who doesn’t want their children to love the Puritans?)

In the next weeks, God willing,  I will be sharing with you some quotes from this book, along with some comments. I am sure that you will find them encouraging , but honestly, I do hope that I can get you to buy yourself a copy and start reading it. There is so much goodness in it! And maybe, who knows, at the end of these series of posts we will be reading it together.

In the first chapter of his book Mathew Henry writes about the nature of meekness towards God and towards men, and the nature of quietness of spirit.

In relation to our meekness toward God, he says that keeping a meek and quiet spirit helps us to submit (come under) to the will of God and to His Providence. Henry helps us see how many times, when the “events  of Providence are grievous and afflictive, displeasing to sense,”  or  “dark and intricate and we are quite at loss what God is about to do with us..” we can learn to quiet our soul under these hard Providences remembering “the law of meekness that whatsoever pleases God must not displease us.” And so we embrace His perfect will for us and do not fret about what is now disclosed to us.

Mathew Henry writes,

“Meekness is the silent submission of the soul to the Word of God: the understanding bowed to every divine truth, and the will to every divine precept; and both without murmuring or disputing.”

This is important to consider because the only way to be able to submit ourselves to the Word of God is to be in the Word of God. If we never open our Bibles, if we never read them, and never meditate on the whole counsel of God, how are we to know what are precepts, His promises? How will we ever know God’s thoughts for us? Only when we know God’s character -as revealed in Holy Word- can we learn to come under His Providence without murmuring or disputing.

When Mathew Henry writes about meekness toward our brothers and sisters, he says that having this frame of mind is of great help to fight anger within us. The author helps us see, through the use of biblical arguments, that the Holy Spirit uses meekness to help us learn to “prudently govern our own anger.”

How is this? Well, he argues that the work of meekness does four things in reference to our anger:

1. It helps us “to consider the circumstances of that which we apprehend to be a provocation, so as at no time to express our displeasure, but upon due and mature deliberation.”  He continues, “The office of meekness is to keep reason upon the throne in the soul as it ought to be, to preserve the understanding clear and unclouded, the judgement untainted and unbiased in the midst of great provocations..”

Henry encourages us to cultivate a meek heart so that we may be able to keep silence before God when the tumult of our passions may want to drown His voice. He writes, “Hear reason, keep passion silent, and then you will find it difficult to bear provocation.”

How wonderful is this? To remain calm and unshaken when provoked, because meekness is our backbone.

2. “The work of meekness is to calm the spirit so that the inward peace may not be disturbed by any outward provocation.”

The author reminds us that as much as we need “patience in case of sorrow, so we need meekness in case of anger..” because “meekness keeps possession of the soul…” To not be at loss because of our ill tempter!

Another great quote:

“Meekness preserves the mind from being ruffled and discomposed, and the spirit from being unhinged by the vanities and vexations of this lower world. It stills the noise of sea, the noise of her waves, and the tumult of the soul; it permits not the passions to crowd out in a disorderly manner, like a confused, ungoverned rabble, but draws them out like a the train bands, rank and file, every one in his own order, ready to march, to charge, to fire, to retreat, as wisdom and grace give word of command.”

3. Meekness will also help us, Henry writes,  to keep our mouth bridled, especially “when the heart is hot.” Matthew Henry continues, “meekness will ‘lay the hand upon the mouth’ (as the wise man’s advice is Prov. 30:32), to keep that evil thought from venting itself in any  evil word, reflecting upon God or our brother.”

4. “Meekness will cool the heat of passion quickly, and not suffer it to continue. As it keeps us from being soon angry, so it teaches us, when we are angry, to be soon pacified, The anger of a meek man is like fire struck out of steel, hard to be got out, but when it is out, soon gone.”

And what are we to do when provoked? We all would agree with Mathew Henry when he says that “angry thoughts, as other vain thoughts, may crowd into the heart upon a sudden surprise,” but he doesn’t excuse an angry response from us just because of the sudden appearance of these in our hearts and mind. He continues saying, “but meekness will not suffer them to lodge there, nor let the sun go down upon the wrath, for if it do, there is danger lest it rise bloody the next morning.” How we need to consider this. We should never lodge in our heart anger -it never comes alone (we know!) but always  brings along bitterness and malice, and evil thoughts.

But that is not all, there are more good news. Meekness does not only helps us learn how to deal with our own passions and anger, but it also teaches us and enables us to “patiently bear the anger of others.”

Look at these quotes under this same point:

“A needful truth, spoken in a heat, amy do more hurt than good, and offend rather than satisfy.”

“It is indeed a great piece of self-denial to be silent when we have enough to say, and provocation to say it; but if we do thus control our tongues, out of a pure regard for peace and love, it will turn to a good account and will be an evidence for us that we are Christ’s disciples, having learned to deny ourselves.”

Another advice that is gold:

“When any speak angrily to us, we must pause a while, and study an answer, which both, for the matter and manner of it, may be mild and gentle.”

And meekness will help us to not only to refrain our anger, to be patient when others are angry at us, but also to move toward repentance when necessary. Henry writes, “Meekness teaches us, as often as we trespass against our brother, to turn again and say, “I repent” (Luke 17:4)”

In my next post I will be sharing what Mathew Henry has to say about the nature of a quiet spirit, which is his second main point in chapter 1.

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky Pliego

Pray Expecting Answers

IMG_0923We have the Psalms, the prayers of the apostles, the prayers of many saints in Church history recorded for us; we know that Jesus himself taught us how to pray and we still feel that we don’t know how to pray.  We still feel inadequate and that our words are never the right ones. We don’t know what to ask for or how to ask for some things. We are Reformed Christians, we believe in God’s sovereignty and so we try our best not to sound like those who name and claim promises and demand answers from God as if they had the power to do so.

But I am afraid that because of this idea of wanting to pray aright -according to each of the points on which our theology stands – the prayer life of many has lost all fervency. The words that come out from our mouths are as dry as our hearts. Our eyes never cry because we don’t let them do so. We are more worried about controlling our emotions than the Psalmist. We know the motions and so we pray the Lord’s prayer not daring to be specific in our prayers. Our favorite prayer is “Let your will be done, Lord” and often pray it holding back, like in a strong dam, all that we really want to say.

Friends, it will do us good to read more of  what the Puritans, Spurgeon, Ryle, Pink, Owens, have written and learn from them how to be good theologians on our knees. The secret I have found in the writings of these men is that the main thing that ruled their prayer life was this: they all knew God and knew that God hears our prayers and answers His children. They prayed with fervency and much confidence. They knew that no Christian prays in vain, that no Christian waits in vain, that no Christian claims to God in vain. They all prayed expecting answers from God.

We should take our Bibles and pray the Scriptures back to God, and do it fervently, trusting that our prayers do reach the ear the Lord. But along with the Scriptures, we must also bring our anxieties, our own individual petitions -big and small-, our fears, our longings before God. We can earnestly plead to Him and ask for His divine intervention and trust that He will come and meet us in our needs. This is not arrogance, this is what coming boldly before the throne of grace in Jesus’ name looks like (Heb. 4:16).

O, how we need to pray more from the heart. How we need to expect more answers from the Lord. Why do we come to prayer more often than not, thinking that God will not answer us? Or why when we pray we think that He will always say no to our petitions? Haven’t we forgotten that God is our good Father who LOVES (yes, all caps!) to give good gifts to His children (Mt.11)? Haven’t we forgotten that He will never withhold from His people good gifts (Ps.84:11)? How we need to be reminded in our prayer closet of the words of the apostle Paul, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Rom. 8:32)!

Let us be praying people, but let us pray knowing that our God hears us and rewards those who seek Him: “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Heb.11:6)

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

Recommended book: The Power of Prayer in a Believer’s Life, a collection of sermons by C.H. Spurgeon edited by Robert Hall.

One Link, One eBook, One Seminar

Happy Saturday, Friends!

One link: I want to suggest to you this article by R.C. Sproul in which he explained -in his very clear and biblical way- what living “Coram Deo” means. It is a short read with much to think about.  Find it here.

One book: Monergism is offering for free The Bruised Reed by Puritan Ricard Sibbes (eBook), which is one of my favorite books and one I try to read once a year. Take advantage of this gift the kind people from Monergism Books are offering now.

One seminar: My friend Rachel Jankovic will be teaching a Live Webinar which consists of 4- sessions entitled, Spiritual Spring Cleaning. Check it out, and I can assure that you will find it super helpful and fun. Find all the details here.

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

 

 

 

The New England Primer -An Alphabet of Lessons for Youth-

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A Wise son maketh a glad father, but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.

BEtter is a little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure & trouble therewith.

COme unto Christ all ye that labor and are heavy laden and he will give you rest.

DO not the abominable thing which I hate saith the Lord.

EXcept a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

FOolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

GODLINESS is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and that which is to come.

HOLINESS becomes GOD’s house for ever.

IT is good for me to draw near unto GOD.
KEEP thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.

LIARS shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone.

MANY are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivereth them out of them all.

NOW is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation.

OUT of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

PRAY to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which sees in secret shall reward thee openly.

QUIT you like men, be strong, stand fast in the faith.

REMEMBER thy Creator in the days of thy youth.

SEest thou a man wise in his own conceit, there is more hope of a fool than of him.

TRUST in God at all times, ye people, pour out your hearts before him.

UPON the wicked, God shall rain an horrible tempest.

WO to the wicked, it shall be ill with him, for the reward of his hands shall be given him.
EXHORT one another daily while it is called to day, lest any of you be hardened thro’ the deceitfulness of sin.

YOUNG men ye have overcome the wicked one.

ZEal hath consumed me, because thy enemies have forgotten the word of God.

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This is an excerpt from The New England Primer, 1777 ed.

Last week I shared, A Lesson for Children A-Z, also from The New England Primer.

UPDATE: Trisha left a comment saying that this would be great for copy work, and I totally agree; so why not use this site, Handwriting Worksheets, to make your own pretty customized worksheets. Go check it out! 🙂

Handwriting Worksheet Maker

Becky