Bulletin Edition April 2020

If I wash myself with snow


By nature, man knows nothing of the purity and perfection of God—or the deep sinfulness and corruption of the creature. There is a veil over man’s heart—a veil of ignorance—of delusion—of unbelief—of self-deception as regards the nature of sin. No man is vitally and experimentally acquainted with—its hideous nature—its awful depths—its subtlety—its workings—its movements—its cravings—its lustings—the heights to which it rises—the depths to which it sinks.

But when the Lord the Spirit takes a man really and vitally in hand—and He truly begins His sovereign work of grace upon the soul—He commences by opening up to the astonished eyes of the sinner, something of the real nature of sin. He not only shows him the huge, high, wide-spreading branches of sin—but bids him look down and see how deeply-rooted sin is in his very being—that sin is not an accident—a faint blot that may soon be washed out—a something on the surface, like a skin disease that may be healed by a simple ointment. He shows him that sin is seated in his very bones—that this deep-rooted malady has taken possession of him—that he is a sinner to his very heart’s core—that every thought, every word, every action of man’s whole being—is one mass of sin, filth, and pollution.

And if he attempts, as most awakened sinners do attempt—to purify himself—to ease his guilt by lopping off a few external branches—if he attempts to wash himself clean from iniquity, the Spirit will teach him the meaning of Job’s words, “If I wash myself with snow, and cleanse my hands with lye, yet You will plunge me in the ditch. My own clothes shall abhor me.” (Job 9:30, 31). Until at last God brings him to this spot—that he is a sinner throughout—yes, that he is the chief of sinners—that every evil lodges in his heart—and the seed of every crime dwells in his fallen nature. When a man is brought here, he is brought to the place of the stopping of mouths—his own righteousness is effectually cut to pieces—his hopes of salvation by his works are completely removed from under him. Those rotten props are cut away by the hand of the Spirit from the sinking soul, that he may fall into himself one mass of confusion and ruin.

And until he is brought here, he really can know nothing—of a free-grace salvation—of the superaboundings of grace over the aboundings of sin—of God’s electing love—of Christ’s substitution and suretyship—of His atoning blood—of His justifying righteousness—of His dying love. He can know nothing of the rich provisions of almighty power and eternal mercy that are lodged in the fullness of Christ. He has—no eyes to see—no ears to hear—no heart to feel—no arms to embrace a whole Christ—a precious Christ, a Savior from the wrath to come—who has stood in the sinner’s place and stead—made full atonement for sin—fulfilled the law—brought in everlasting righteousness—and justified the ungodly!

If you plunge into eternity clutching the airy fiction

(Octavius Winslow, “From Grace to Glory” 1864)

We do not hesitate to pronounce the doctrine of “baptismal regeneration” to be the paramount lie of Satan — the most subtle and fatal weapon which this arch foe of our race ever forged for the destruction of men’s souls in eternal perdition!

Do not build your hope of glory upon your baptism. You are lost to all eternity if you do. You must be born again — if ever you enter the kingdom of heaven.

If you plunge into eternity clutching the airy fiction, the fatal notion, that you passed from spiritual death into spiritual life in your baptism; that in baptism you were regenerated, adopted, justified, made holy and saved; you have staked your eternal happiness upon the most fatal lie!

In many instances, the unhappy victim of this delusion passes away — undeceived until the deception is too late to rectify!

Crimson hieroglyphics?

The following is from Spurgeon’s sermon,


It is a grievous token of hardness of heart

when we can live contentedly without the

present enjoyment of the Savior’s face.

There is no doubt whatever that living among

sinners has a hardening tendency even upon

Christian men. You cannot walk about in this

great lazar-house, without receiving some contagion.

Though you were pure in heart, the prince of this

world would make you his prey. It were hard to

dwell in so foul a world as this without contracting

some impurity. Those black coals which fill this

earthly cellar, if they will not burn us, will at least

blacken us. When so many fires of sin are pouring

forth their smoke, the whitest of linen cannot

escape the falling black soot.

If “the thought of foolishness is sin,” then even

to think of sin exercises a polluting influence.

Can I read a description of another man’s sin

without getting my heart hardened? I question

if reading the daily reports of crime in the police

news is not a very fertile cause of sin. Great

crimes usually produce their like in congenial

winds, and even in the purest hearts their

recital cannot but have an injurious effect.

The tree of knowledge of good and evil bears

dangerous fruit; it were well if we restrained

our curiosity, and left foul deeds alone, unknown,

unread by us. What good can come from turning

over the foul dunghill of crime? Let those traverse

our sewers whose business it is to do so; were it

not better for the most of us to keep out of them.

Those who are called in providence to deal daily

with the coarser sins had need to set a special

watch over themselves lest they fall by little and little.

He who handles sharp-edged tools, is apt to cut his

fingers, and none the less so because the knife is

made of the best steel. Let us walk warily among

men, like a man with naked feet when going over

thorny ground, lest our hurt be grievous.

I daily feel that the atmosphere of earth has as

much a tendency to harden my heart, as to harden

plaster which is newly spread upon the wall; and

unless I am baptized anew with the Spirit of God,

and constantly stand at the foot of the cross,

reading the curse of sin in the crimson hieroglyphics

of my Savior’s dying agonies, I shall become as

steeled and insensible as the mass of professors

already are.

Shame on us, that any of us should be guilty

of such tampering with that accursed thing

which slew the Lord of glory.

A great deal of talk about religion


How many there are who are mistaking the ‘form of religion’ for the power of it—mistaking ‘doctrines learned in the head’ for the teachings of the Spirit in the soul! There is a great deal of talk about religion—but how few know anything of—what true religion is—the secret of vital godliness—the inward teachings and operations of the Spirit upon the heart! Many men speak fluently enough of doctrines, and of the blessed truths of the gospel. But what good can mere doctrines do for me—unless they are sealed on my heart, and applied with divine power to my conscience? Without this, the greatest truths can do me no good.

But when the Lord lays us low, puts us into the furnace, and drags us through the waters—He shows us that true religion, vital godliness, is something deeper, something more spiritual, something more supernatural, something that stands more in the teachings of God the Spirit and His operation on the heart, than ever we dreamt of before we entered upon the trial. We might have had the clearest views of doctrinal truth—and yet these were but ‘dim notions floating in the head,’ before we came into the furnace. But these things now are seen in a different light, and felt in a totally different manner. What before was but a doctrine—becomes now a most certain truth. And what before was but a sound sentiment—is now sealed as a living reality in experience.

As the Lord, then, brings us into the dust, He strips away our ‘mere notional, doctrinal religion.’ He begins to open up to our heart the real nature of vital godliness—that it is something deeper, something more spiritual, something more powerful, something more experimental than anything we have ever yet known—that it consists in the teachings and leadings of God the Spirit in the conscience. As soon as this is felt, it strips a man of everything he has learned in the flesh—and brings him down to the dust of death. And when brought there, the blessed Spirit opens up the truths of the gospel in a way he had never known before. Many people know the truth in the letter—but how few by the teachings and operations of God the Spirit in the heart! They have sound views of the way of salvation—but it has never been wrought out with a mighty power into their soul. They have clear heads—but their hearts are not broken into contrition and godly sorrow. Their minds are well-instructed in the truths of the gospel—but these truths have not been communicated by an unction from the Holy One.

Until a man is made to see the emptiness of a mere profession—to have his free-will stripped and purged away—and to be brought out of that empty religion so generally current—and is broken down into humility at the footstool of divine mercy—he will not feel the power, the reality, the sweetness, and the blessedness of the overwhelming love of God displayed in the gospel. Until the soul is thus stripped—until the vessel is thus emptied—these things cannot be known—nor is it in a condition to receive the glorious riches of free grace. Until the dross and tin is removed from the heart—the pure metal cannot shine. Until this chaff is blown away—the wheat lies heaped up in one confused mass on the threshing floor. The Lord, therefore, will test His work on the heart—for He is a jealous God, and He will not give His glory to another—but reserves to Himself, His prerogative of sovereign mercy, and of saving to the uttermost.


John MacDuff

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

“I will ask the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever.” John 14:16

A gracious Hospice opened by Christ to His disciples in the near prospect of His departure, was the promise of a divine Comforter, whose advent would more than compensate them for His own personal absence and loss; not a temporary visitant, like the angels who from time to time gladdened both dispensations; not like the Abrahams, and Elijahs, and Isaiahs, and Davids, and Baptists–brilliant passing meteors shining for a season and then lost in the darkness–no satellite with reflected or derivative light, but an abiding Presence and glory “above the brightness of the sun.”

This heavenly Paraclete was to “teach them all things;” to “guide them into all truth;” to energize, with superhuman wisdom and power–a continued strength and inspiration for His people in the time to come. And, best of all, He was to be the ever-present Revealer of an absent Lord, magnifying Him in the affections of His Church and people–“He shall glorify Me for He shall receive from Me, and shall show it unto you.”

At Pentecost there was the full realization of the promise. The windows of heaven were then opened, and showers of blessing descended. The gathered disciples were “baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire,” each brow haloed with flame–a radiance of unearthly brightness. It was the predicted “times of refreshing.” The prophetic announcement was fulfilled–“He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass, and as showers that water the earth.” Multitudes were enabled to call Christ “Lord, by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3).

Living as we do under “the dispensation of the Spirit,” we have in His bestowal and name a true Refuge and House of Rest. He is emphatically the Spirit of peace, brooding with halcyon calm over the chaos of unrest. COMFORTER is surely the most precious of balm-words for the weary and heavy laden, the sin-burdened and sorrow-burdened. Filled with all joy and peace in believing, we “abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

“Filled with the Spirit”–that is the secret and explanation of the rest this Hospice affords. Its every window is thrown open to catch the divine breath and echoes from the everlasting hills. There replenished and recruited with His varied gifts, the traveler is ready to prosecute his upward and onward way, with the new song on his lips–“Your Spirit, O God, is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.” The chalice of joy given by the divine Agent is so full of the living water of which He is the emblem, that there is no room in it for the poison-drops of sin, the contamination of any baser earthly admixture. Rather, in His hands, life is like the vessels of Cana, not only filled to the brim, but the contents are gradually transfused and transfigured into the wine of heaven. Commonest blessings and joys are in Him sanctified, and become sacramental.

“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirsts, let him come unto Me, and drink. This spoke He of the Spirit” (John 7:37, 39).

May it be mine personally to appropriate this richest boon and legacy bequeathed by the departing Savior to His Church and people; recognizing in the presence and supporting grace of “the Comforter” the chief well of refreshment for pilgrims “passing through the Valley of Baca.” It is an additional encouragement, too, in pleading for the peerless gift, that the divine Father is harmonized with the divine Son in the loving and bountiful bestowment. Does an earthly parent delight in lavishing tokens of affection on his offspring? “How much more shall your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit unto those who ask Him?”

Happy those who are able, in some feeble measure, yet with lowly confidence, to join in the apostle’s testimony– “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, which is given unto us.”

“This is the resting place, let the weary rest. This is the place of repose.” Isaiah 28:12

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