By William B. Rose
Topics Beginning with "B"
008 -- BACKSLIDER, Are You a
Are you a backslider? The question is not untimely nor impertinent. Do not dismiss it readily. You may be backslidden in heart and not know it. Many are. You know that something is not right, but you never suspect that the trouble is with yourself. You think that the preachers you hear and the papers you read are not as they used to be. The way things look to us often depends upon our own eyesight. Perhaps the difficulty may be, in part at least, with yourself. It may be that Divine truths do not affect you as they once did, because you have lost your interest in Divine things. The failure of sermons to touch you may be owing to your own hardness of heart. It is possible that even you have lost your first love. It will do no harm to look into the matter.
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009 -- BACKSLIDER Deceived
Many are backslidden and do not know It. Their professions are high-their state of grace low. "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked" (Rev. 3:17). It is a sad thing not to see; it is still sadder not to know that one can not see. Christ could not do much for the Pharisees. They were so observant of some of the practices of religion, that they would not admit the possibility of their not being in a state of salvation. They were censorious of others; they were charitable towards themselves. Many are In this same condition. They are strict in some things, loose in others. Their religion is a religion of selfishness. They have unbounded admiration of themselves. Anyone who approves of them and their course they fellowship; those who disagree with them they condemn. They are not willful hypocrites, but they are deceived.
We are too apt to judge of our religious state by comparing ourselves with those around us, instead of examining ourselves by the Word of God. Many a one is floating rapidly down to hell with the quieting remark, "I guess I am as good as any of them." Suppose you are, If they are not good enough to go to a Heaven of purity, into which there can not enter anything that defileth, your being as good as they are will not save you. "For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:20). Condemning others will not save ourselves. Whatever is the condition or conduct of others, we must be right with God. The betrayal of Christ by Judas did not excuse Peter for denying his Master. He had to repent for himself. The great question for each of us to settle is, "Am I right with God?"
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010 -- BACKSLIDER, A Redeeming Feature of a
There was one redeeming feature in the backslidings of Solomon-he did not put in a claim for what he had done and given towards the building of the Temple. He did very wickedly in yielding to his wives, and building altars to their favorite divinities. For the sake of domestic peace he sacrificed the purity of the worship of Jehovah, and "went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites." And he built high places "for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods" (1 Kings 11:8). But he did not put a mortgage on the Temple to pay for them; nor did he withdraw the offerings which he had made to God. He made no attempt to turn the Temple over to the priests of Baal. Bad as his case was, It might have been worse. But if God was angry with him, how must he feel towards those who labor to destroy what they formerly built for God?
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011 -- BACKSLIDER, Return
If you have, in the slightest degree, wandered from God, come back to him at once. Do not wait till you have broken some great commandment before you bring him a broken heart. Open disgrace is not essential to true penitence. The sooner you confess wherein you have been wrong, the less you will have to confess. Nothing can possibly be gained by waiting. You are constantly growing harder, and you may grieve the Spirit until he leaves you.
Do not wait for some great occasion, or for some eminent saint to help you. You have now the best occasion -- a time without distraction, the best and greatest of helps -- the Holy Spirit. And God is saying, "Return unto me, and I will return unto you" (Mal. 3:7). Then come back at once, however slightly or however widely you may have wandered.
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012 -- BACKSLIDER, Death of a
For years he was a happy Christian and a successful worker in getting souls saved. He went into politics. During the excitement preceding election he neglected prayer meetings to attend political meetings. He became cold and formal. He obtained an office. Before his term of office expired he gave up religion entirely. He took to smoking, and then to drinking beer. We went to see him. He received us cordially. We reminded him of former days and urged him to get back to the Lord. He laid his. band on our shoulder and with great emphasis said, "Brother, I have not a single doubt but that if I die as I am I shall be damned. But I have not a single desire to be otherwise." He had grieved away the Spirit.
A few mornings after our conversation, he went out from his home apparently as well as usual. In the heart of the town he suddenly fell in the street. A crowd gathered around him. They tried to lift him up, but he was dead. The inexorable summons had come, and all unprepared as he was, he was ushered into eternity. Beware of the beginnings of backsliding.
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013 -- BACKSLIDING When Old
Probation lasts while life lasts. Every day a man lives in sin he is becoming hardened in sin, and the probability of his ever becoming converted is lessened. The longer and more faithfully one lives in the service of God, the more confirmed are his habits of piety and obedience to God; and the harder it is to turn him aside into any of the ways of sin; still, till one gets through to glory there is a possibility of falling. God is able to keep us. He inspires and prompts and leads, but he never interferes with the freedom of the will. All along the way of life there are by-paths, which lead into the broad, well-traveled road that ends in destruction, and any one may easily pass over to it if he will. Those who have for many years done valiant service in the cause of God, are not exempt from the danger of falling and, if they forsake God, they insure their destruction just as certainly as if they had never known him. "When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die" (Ezek. 18:26). Solomon was the ablest man of his age. His intellect was of the highest order; his knowledge unequaled. He had been brought up in habits of piety. His conversion was clear, and to him was made a miraculous manifestation of God's presence and blessings. For many years he had the clearest evidence of the fulfillment of God's promises in his behalf; and yet we read: "For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father" (1 Kings 11:4). If Solomon fell when he was old, then who is exempt from the liability of falling when he is old, and after he has spent happy years in the service of God?
One danger of backsliding when one is old, results from the love of peace and tranquillity which grows upon us as we grow in years. We do not like contention: "Young men for war." Old men have had enough of it. They have seen that its track is strewed with desolation, and that all the Christian graces and useful arts flourish best in times of peace. Especially do the aged want peace in the family. This was the case with Solomon. He did not forsake God because he had any inclination himself to do it; but his wives were clamorous. They wanted altars built for their false gods; so Solomon, for the sake of peace, hearkened to their requests and built an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. He did not tear down the altar of Jehovah; sacrifices were offered upon it as usual. He only compromised.
The same thing, in substance, is often done in our day. Men who have served God faithfully for years; who have clear convictions of the incompatibility of Baal-worship with the worship of Jehovah, will, at the instigation of their wives, pay their money for the support of Masonic preachers in whose Christianity they have no confidence: and for the rent of pews, when they know that God's house should be just as free as his proffered grace.
As in the case of Solomon. they may keep up the form of worship and so they fail to see. until too late, that they have in reality backslidden from God. It is better to have war than wantonness in the household. It is more necessary to be true to the principles of the gospel than to have peace. Another cause of backsliding Is love of money. Many, as they grow old, grow covetous and stingy. The stream of beneficence flowing from them grows smaller the longer it flows. The less use they have for money, the more they love money. They hoard up property for relations who do not need it, and who will spend it in the service of the devil. As an old writer expresses it, "They go to hell making money, and their heirs go to hell spending it." They hope to have durable riches, though they have not been "faithful in the unrighteous mammon" (Luke 16:11). They hope God will give them a heavenly inheritance, and yet they do not give God any part of the earthly inheritance which for a little time he entrusted to their hands. They do not even remember him in their wills.
Ye who are on the downhill side of life, will you not listen to the words of warning written in love by one of your number? Let us see to it that whatever suffering fidelity to God may cost us, we endure to the end. Let us not be weary in well-doing. The reaping time is at hand. Let us go on till the Master calls, and "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3). Whatever of conflict may await us, let us say with Paul: "But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy." Then, when the warfare is ended. we shall be able with him to say: "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing" (2 Tim. 4:7, 8).
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014 -- BAPTIZED HEATHEN
Fletcher was a very loving, amiable man, but he was a very outspoken one. He has one chapter entitled, "An Address to Baptized Heathen." The matter that follows is worthy of the title: "O ye that regard pleasure, profit and honor more than justice, mercy and the fear of God; ye that, far from embracing Divine truth at the hazard of your reputation, spread abroad scandalous untruths to the ruin of other people's reputations; ye who try to persuade yourselves that religion is nothing but a monstrous compound of superstition, enthusiasm and priest-craft; ye who can violate the laws of temperance or honesty without one fearful remorse, breaking through promises, oaths and matrimonial or sacramental engagements, as if there were no future state, no supreme Judge, no day of retribution, no Divine law enacting that `whosoever loveth or maketh a he shall be cast into the lake of fire'; that `the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God,' ye are the persons whom I beg leave to call baptized heathens." Reader, are you a Christian?
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015 -- BELIEVING AND CONFESSING
There is an inexhaustible fountain of blessings in that saying of St. Paul's, "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." The believing must be with the heart, the affections, THE WILL, and not merely with the head -- the Intellect. Believing in this way brings one into righteousness. into the principle of right, into the determination and the power to do right. This is a great blessing. But with the mouth -- not merely with the life -- confession is made unto salvation. There must be the frank, outspoken confession. if you would taste in their fullness the joys of salvation. It was for his own benefit, as well as for that of others, that the Psalmist said, "Come, all ye that fear the Lord, and I will declare unto you what he hath done for my soul." You can not keep the blessing God has given you unless you declare it. Confess it to your family, to those with whom you come in contact, and, on proper occasions, to the great congregation.
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016 -- BIBLE, The
The Bible is a wonderful book. It never ceases to be interesting and instructive. The more we read it, the more we enjoy it. We always find in it something new. It is a field, the fertility of which increases the longer, and the more thoroughly, it is cultivated. The more there is taken from it, the more it is capable of yielding. It is a mine, which grows richer and richer the deeper it is worked. We lose our interest in other books after reading them a few times. It is not so with the Bible. It is the oldest book in the world, and yet it is always fresh and new to those who devoutly read it. It was adapted to every period of the world's history in the past; it is especially adapted to our times. Beloveds, read your Bibles.
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017 -- BIBLE Mysteries
The mysteries of the Bible are not greater than the mysteries that surround us. The words of the Apostle sound strange to some: "There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body." "How is it possible," says the materialist, "that there can be a spiritual body?" We will tell you if you will explain to us how it is possible that the same elements, combined in precisely the same proportions, should form substances so unlike in their appearance, and in their properties, as water and ice and snow and steam. The most ordinary life is enveloped in mysteries. But, thank God! we may all understand enough of the mystery of godliness to make us happy in life and triumphant in death. He whose ear God hath opened can hear songs in the night.
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018 -- BIBLE Never Changes
Fashion changes, but the Bible never changes. Like its author, it is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Clocks may vary, but the sun never varies. It always keeps time. It never rises a second too late, nor sets a second too early, So the Bible presents an unerring, invariable standard of right and wrong. One generation may sanction slave-holding, but through all generations the Bible rings out, "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." In some countries some who read the Bible may love strong drink; but in all countries the Bible sounds the warning, "Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder." Churches may dress like the world, live like the world, and seek enjoyment in worldly pleasures; but in all churches the Bible utters the solemn charge, "And be not conformed to this world." Then love your Bible, carefully obey its directions, and it will lead you at last to a full and unending participation of joys immortal.
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019 -- BIBLE Reading
We recommend all our readers to read the Bible through once a year by course. You will feel an interest in it, that you can not when you take it up and read at random. We read through last year the Revised Version of the Bible. It is a good thing to have a copy to consult when you come to a passage in the Old Version that you do not understand. It sometimes brings out the meaning of the original more clearly. But on the whole we like the Old Version immeasurably better. We think it is destined to hold its place. It is dear to the hearts of millions of God's children.
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020 -- BLESSING OF GOD: It Maketh Rich
The humblest place is made pleasant by the presence of God. If we had more of his Spirit abiding in our homes, we should need less costly furniture, and fewer fine clothes. Debts. with their never-falling annoyances, would be avoided.
This prayer of Martin Luther is a good one to be adopted by every family. We should not take a single step in life upon which we can not have God's blessing. Still more beautiful is the blessing which Aaron and his sons were commanded to pronounce upon the children of Israel: "The Lord bless thee and keep thee: the Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace" (Num. 6:24-26). Let us prize the blessing of God as above all price.
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021 -- BREAD, Daily Provided
Green pastures are provided by the Great Shepherd for all his flock. The food is nutritious, delicious and abundant. And the sheep gather it as they need it, each for himself. There is none laid up in store. It is not fed out dry by hired men. The prayer which our Lord teaches us is, "Give us this day our daily bread." There should be no starvelings in the flock. Saints may be without a preacher, but their great Provider is always at hand. He supplies their wants, sometimes in one way, sometimes in another; but he never leaves them to suffer for lack of bread. "The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing."
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022 -- BURDENS OF THE LORD Not Crushing
The burden which the Lord lays upon us is not crushing. The yoke that Christ would have us bear is not galling. Sometimes, in the work of the Lord, we allow others to put burdens upon us which the Lord never imposed. We suffer a yoke to be put upon us which Christ never intended us to wear. Others may have more knowledge than we in many things; but we should live so near the Lord that we hear and know his voice in all matters relating to our duty. The promise is general: "All thy children shall be taught of the Lord." We should each seek to be divinely taught, especially in regard to our own duty. We may always expect an answer when, in humility and submission, we inquire, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?
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023 -- BUSINESS FOR GOD, Not Slothful in
He who is doing business for God should, of all men, be most diligent in business. His work is the most important of that in which a human being can engage. His wages are the very highest. None should surpass him in fidelity to his calling, He should make the most of every hour and every day.
We once lived near a blacksmith, who was diligent in his calling. The ring of his hammer has roused us up to read God's Word and pray -- to study and devotion. The Holy Spirit said, "Ought you to be less diligent to lay up treasures in Heaven, than this man is to secure an earthly competence?" So his industry was made to us a means of grace.