If you make doctrine the main thing, you are very likely to grow narrow-minded.; if you make your own experience the main thing, you will become gloomy and censorious of others; if you make ordinances the main thing, you will be apt to grow merely formal; but you can never make too much of the living Christ Jesus. Remember that all things else are for his sake. Doctrines and ordinances are the planets, but Christ is the Sun; the stars of doctrine revolve around him as their great primal light. Get to love him best of all.
It is our duty to be “perfecting holiness in the fear of God,” 2 Cor. 7:1; to be “growing in grace” every day, 1 Pet. 2:2, 2 Pet. 3:18; to be “renewing our inward man day by day,” 2 Cor. 4:16. Now, this cannot be done without the daily mortifying of sin. Sin sets its strength against every act of holiness, and against every degree we grow to. Let not that man think he makes any progress in holiness who walks not over the bellies of his lusts. He who doth not kill sin in his way takes no steps towards his journey’s end. He who finds not opposition from it, and who sets not himself in every particular to its mortification, is at peace with it, not dying to it.
‘Must worship him.’ Not they may, or it would be more agreeable to God to have such a manner of worship, but they must. It is not exclusive of bodily worship, for this were to exclude all public worship in societies, which cannot be performed without reverential postures of the body.* The gestures of the body are helps to worship and declarations of spiritual acts. We can scarcely worship God with our spirits without some tincture upon the outward man. But he excludes all acts merely corporeal, all resting upon an external service and devotion, which was the crime of the Pharisees, and the general persuasion of the Jews as well as heathens, who used the outward ceremonies, not as signs of better things, but as if they did of themselves please God, and render the worshippers accepted with him, without any suitable frame of the inward man.† It is as if he had said, Now you must separate yourselves from all carnal modes to which the service of God is now tied, and render a worship chiefly consisting in the affectionate motions of the heart, and accommodated more exactly to the condition of the object, who is a Spirit.
If there is such enjoyment in the fruition of scientific truth, what shall we say of that higher realm of spiritual truth whose chief objects are God, his perfections, his law, his works, and his redemption? There the mind is fed with most perfect verities, the conscience is filled with moral complacency, and the heart satisfied with love. Not one, but every power of the soul is here provided with its appropriate good. God himself is the uncloying object of meditation, full orbed, many sided, of manifold and infinite perfection. Let men call the meditative Christian a dreamer. It were better for us to sleep in this world of sin and sense, if only we dreamed of him.
What has always filled me with indignation was to behold a church or to meet the office-bearer of a church, with the flag furled or hidden under the garb of office, instead of being thrown out boldly to display its glorious colours in the breeze. What one confesses to be the truth, one must also dare to practise in word, deed and whole manner of life. A church Calvinistic in origin and still recognizable by its Calvinistic confession, which lacks the courage, nay rather which no longer feels the impulse to defend that confession boldly and bravely against all the world, such a church dishonours not Calvinism but itself. Albeit the churches reformed in bone and marrow may be small and few in numbers, as churches they will always prove indispensable for Calvinism; and here also the smallness of the seed need not disturb us, if only that seed be sound and whole, instinct with generative and irrepressible life.
Blood, the blood of the cross. This is the great theme of all these epistles... This was Paul's constant sermon, his constant preaching... How that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: …’ but you notice that is the thing he preached most of all, first in importance as well as in time. This was the centre of the message, how that Christ died for our sins.