Scottish Divine, Theologian and Philosopher
"None can comprehend eternity but the eternal God. Eternity is an ocean, whereof we shall never see the shore; it is a deep, where we can find no bottom; a labyrinth from whence we cannot extricate ourselves and where we shall ever lose the door."
"Affliction doth not rise out of the dust or come to men by chance; but it is the Lord that sends it, and we should own and reverence His hand in it."
"All that is right in our prayers is the Spirit's work, and all that is wrong in them from ourselves, either as to matter or manner."
"As a narrow vessel cannot contain the ocean, so neither can the finite creature comprehend the infinite good: but no measure shall be set to the enjoyment, but what ariseth from the capacity of the creature. So that, although there be degrees of glory, yet all shall be filled. . . God will be all in all to the saints: He will be their life, health, riches, honour, peace, and all good things. He will communicate Himself freely to them. . . There will be no veil between God and them, to be drawn aside; but His fulness shall ever stand open to them."
"As fish in the water love deep places and wells and are most frequently found there, so wicked men have a great love to carnal security and have no will to strive against the stream. Fish love deep places best where there is least noise. Oh, how careful are natural men to keep all quiet, that there may be nothing to disturb them in their rest in sin! They love to be secure which is their destruction. O my soul, beware of carnal security, of being secure, though plunged over head and ears in sin."
"As to the crook in your lot, God has made it; and it must continue while He will have it so. Should you ply your utmost force to even it, or make it straight, your attempt will be vain: it will not change for all you can do. Only He who made it can mend it, or make it straight. This consideration, this view of the matter, is a proper means at once to silence and to satisfy men, and so bring them to a dutiful submission to their Maker and Governor, under the crook in their lot."
"Be not anxious about thy provision for old age, for by all appearance thou wilt never see it. It is more than probable thou wilt be sooner at thy journey's end. The body is weak; it is even stepping down to salute corruption as its mother, ere it has well entered the hall of the world: thy tabernacle pins seem to be drawing out by little and little already. Courage then, O my soul; ere long the devil, and the world, and the flesh shall be bruised underthy feet; and thou shalt be received into eternal mansions. But though the Lord should lengthen out thy days to old age, he that brought thee into life will not forsake thee then either. If he give thee life, he will give thee meat. Keep a loose hold of the world then; contemn it if thou wouldst be a fisher of men.."
"By this (the work of the Spirit in our prayers) view he strikes us with holy dread and awe of the majesty of God, whereby is banished that lightness and vanity of heart, that makes such flaunting in the prayers of some."
"Consider the end of God’s decrees – and this is no other than His own glory. Every rational agent acts for an end; and God being the most perfect agent, and His glory the highest end, there can be no doubt but all His decrees are directed to that end. “For to Him are all things.”"
"Crooked things are unpleasant to the eye; and no crook in the lot seems to be joyous, but grievous, making an unsightly appearance. Therefore men need to beware of giving way to their thoughts to dwell on the crook in their lot, and of keeping it too much in view."
"God hath decreed the end, so He hath decreed the means that are proper for attaining that end; so that these two must not be separated."
"God is man's chief end, and the chief good. All things are from him, and so must be for him. And to alter this order, is for men to make God'd honour the means, and their own welfare the end; which is to lift themselves very proudly above God."
"Has God decreed all things that come to pass? Then there is nothing that falls out by chance, nor are we to ascribe what we meet with either to good or ill luck and fortune. There are many events in the world which men look upon as mere accidents, yet all these come by the counsel and appointment of Heaven."
"How ready are we to be more concerned for our own interest, than for the honour of God; more fervent for temporal than for spiitual mercies."
"I have had more experience of his goodness and knowledge of his name; and therefore think I can cast my burden on the Lord better than before. But it is easy swimming when the head is held up. Lord, increase my faith. I believe, Lord, help mine unbelief."
"If a man had a servant that would go out and sow his seed very diligently and faithfully; but would come in, and sit down idle when it is sown, and forget to harrow it, and hide it with the earth; would the master be well pleased with him? yea, would he not be highly displeased, because the fowls would come and pick it up? So, O my soul, if thou shouldst be never so much concerned to get good seed, and never so faithful and diligent in sowing it; yet if after thou turn careless, and take not the way to cover it, by serious seeking to the Lord, that he may keep it in the hearts of people, and make it to prosper, the devil may pick it all up; and where is thy labour then; and how will the Lord be pleased with thee! Therefore pray more frequently, cry more fervently to God, when the public work is over, than thou hast done."
"if you would approve yourself to God, walking by faith, not by sight, you must quiet yourself in the will and purpose of God, and not insist that it should be according to your mind."
"It is our duty to look to God's commands, and not to His decrees; to our own duty, and not to His purposes. The decrees of God are a vast ocean, into which many possibly have curiously pried to their own horror and despair; but few or none have ever pried into them to their own profit and satisfaction."
"Let the mantle of worldly enjoyments hang loose about you, that it may be easily dropped when death comes to carry you into another world."
"Many exhaust their spirits in reading romances, and their minds pursue them, as the flame does the dry stubble; while they have no heart for, nor relish to, the holy word; and therefore seldom take a Bible in their hands. What is agreeable to the vanity of their minds is pleasant and exciting; but what recommends holiness to their unholy hearts, makes their spirits dull and flat. What pleasure they find in reading a profane ballad, or story-book, to whom the Bible is entirely tasteless! Many lay by their Bibles with their sabbath-day's clothes; and whatever use they have for their clothes, they have none for their Bibles, until the return of the Sabbath."
"None can comprehend eternity but the eternal God. Eternity is an ocean, whereof we shall never see the shore; it is a deep, where we can find no bottom; a labyrinth from whence we cannot extricate ourselves and where we shall never lose the door."
"O what hardness of heart mayst thou see in every corner whither thou goest, and where thou preachest, most part being as unconcerned as the very stones of the wall; and say what thou wilt, either by setting before them alluring promises or dreadful threatenings, yet people are hardened against both, none relenting for what they have done, or concerned about it."
"Providence interposing, crooks the measures which human prudence and industry had laid straight towards the respective ends; so the swift lose the race, and the strong the battle, and the wise miss of bread; while in the mean time, some one of other providential incident, supplying the defect of human wisdom, conduct, and ability, the slow gain the race and carry the prize; the weak win the battle and enrich themselves with the spoil; and bread falls into the lap of the fool."
"Remember, O my soul, what Christ said to the Pharisees, Luke 16:15, 'Ye are they which justify yourselves before men, but God knoweth your hearts. For that which is highly esteemed among men, is an abomination in the sight of God.' Let this scare thee from seeking thyself. Consider, that seeking thy own glory is a dreadful and abominable thing. In that it is base treachery and cruelty to the souls of hearers, when a man seeks to please their fancy more than to gain their souls, to get people to approve him more than to get them to approve themselves to God. This is a soul-murdering way, and it is dear-bought applause that is won by the blood of souls. O my soul, beware of this. Let them call thee what they will; but seek thou God's glory and their good."
"Show yourselves of the family of heaven, by your concern that the Lord's kingdom may come, even that of glory, grace, the gospel, and power. For this is the language of those who cry unto God, 'Abba, Father.'..."
"Sin so bowed the hearts and minds of men, that they became crooked in respect of the holy law; and God justly so bowed their lot, that it became crooked too. And this crook in our lot inseparably follows our sinful condition, till dropping this body of sin and death, we get within heaven's gates."
"The promises are the rule and encouragement of prayer...regulate our prayers...God's bills and bonds to his people, and by them he shows what he allows us to ask of him."
"There are but two families in the world, and to one of the two every man and woman belongs. One is satan's family, the other God's."
"They are soon wearied of well-doing; for holy duties are not agreeable to their corrupt nature. Take notice of them at their worldly business, set them down with their carnal company, or let them be enjoying a lust; time seems to them to fly, and drive furiously, so that it is gone before they are aware. But how heavily does it pass, while a prayer, a sermon, or a Sabbath lasts! The Lord's day is the longest day of all the week, with many; therefore, they must sleep longer that morning, and go sooner to bed that night, than ordinarily they do; that the day may be made of a tolerable length—for their hearts say within them, "When will the Sabbath be gone?" Amos 8:5. The hours of worship are the longest hours of that day—hence, when duty is over, they are like men eased of a burden; and when sermon is ended, many have neither the grace nor the good manners to stay until the blessing is pronounced—but, like the beasts, their head is away, as soon as a man puts his hand to loose them; and why? Because, while they are at ordinances, they are, as Doeg, "detained before the Lord,""
"We are spiritually dead without the Spirit indwelling, and spiritually asleep without the Spirit influencing....The former, praying, is like a ghost walking and talking; the latter, like a man speaking through his sleep."
"What an honourable thing is it to be fishers of men! How great an honour shouldst thou esteem it, to be a catcher of souls! We are workers together with God, says the apostle. If God has ever so honoured thee, O that thou knewest it, that thou mightst bless his holy name, that ever made such a poor fool as thee to be a co-worker with him. God has owned thee to do good to those who were before caught. O my soul, bless thou the Lord. Lord, what am I, or what is my father's house, that thou hast brought me to this?"
"What pain and difficulty do men often find in bringing their hearts to pious duties! and what a task is it to the carnal heart to abide at them! It is a pain to it--to leave the world but a little to come before God. It is not easy to borrow time from the many things--to spend it upon the one thing needful. Men often go to God in duties, with their faces towards the world; and when their bodies are on the mount of ordinances, their hearts will be found at the foot of the hill "going after their covetousness.”"
"Who is sufficient for these things? No man is of himself sufficient; even the greatest of men come short of sufficiency. This may make thee then to be affected with insufficiency, who are so far below these men as shrubs are below the tall cedars; and yet they cannot teach it of themselves. Consider the weight of the work, even of preaching, which is all that thou hast to do now. It is the concern of souls. By the foolishness of preaching it pleases the Lord to save them that believe"
"Whoever be the instruments of any good to us, of whatever sort, we must look above them, and eye the hand and counsel of God in it, which is the first spring, and be duly thankful to God for it. And whatever evil of crosses or afflictions befalls us, we must look above the instruments of it to God."
"Yes, from the mountain of eternity we shall look down, and behold the whole plain spread before us. Down here we get lost and confused in the devious valleys that run off from the rdots of the hills everywhere, and we cannot make out where the streams are going, and what there is behind that low shoulder of the hill yonder. But when we get to the summit peak and look down, it will all shape itself into one consistent whole, and we shall see it all at once. None can comprehend eternity but the eternal God."