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C.N. Douglas, comp.  Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical.  1917.
 
Alexander Maclaren
 
  A man who has not learned to say “no”—who is not resolved that he will take God’s way in spite of every dog that can bark at him, in spite of every silvery voice that can woo him aside—will be a weak and wretched man till he dies.  1
  Ah, there is nothing more beautiful than the difference between the thought about sinful creatures which is natural to a holy being, and the thought about sinful creatures which is natural to a self-righteous being. The one is all contempt; the other, all pity.  2
  An old historian says about the Roman armies that marched through a country, burning and destroying every living thing, “They make a solitude, and they call it peace.” And so men do with their consciences. They stifle them, sear them, forcibly silence them, somehow or other; and then, when there is a dead stillness in the heart, broken by no voice of either approbation or blame, but doleful, like the unnatural quiet of a deserted city, then they say, “It is peace;” and the man’s uncontrolled passions and unbridled desires dwell solitary in the fortress of his own spirit! You may almost attain to that.  3
  And looking back upon “the sea that brought us thither,” we shall behold its waters flashing in the light of that everlasting morning, and hear them breaking into music upon the eternal shore. And then, brethren, when all the weary night-watchers on the stormy ocean of life are gathered together around Him who watched with them from His throne on the bordering mountains of eternity, where the day shines forever—then He will seat them at His table in His kingdom, and none will need to ask, “Who art Thou?” or “Where am I?” “for all shall know it is the Lord,” and the full, perfect, unchangeable vision of His blessed face will be heaven.  4
  And then, the quiet of the green, inland valleys of our Father’s land, where no tempest comes any more, nor the loud winds are ever heard, nor the salt sea is ever seen; but perpetual calm and blessedness; all mystery gone, and all rebellion hushed and silenced, and all unrest at an end forever! “No more sea;” but, instead of that wild and yeasty chaos of turbulent waters, there shall be the river that makes glad the city of God, the river of water of life, that proceeds “out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.”  5
  As the flowers follow the sun, and silently hold up their petals to be tinted and enlarged by its shining, so must we, if we would know the joy of God, hold our souls, wills, hearts, and minds, still before Him, whose voice commands, whose love warns, whose truth makes fair our whole being. God speaks for the most part in such silence only. If the soul be full of tumult and jangling voices, His voice is little likely to be heard.  6
  As we look upon that agony and those tearful prayers, let us not only look with thankfulness; but let that kneeling Saviour teach us that in prayer alone can we be forearmed against our lesser sorrows; that strength to bear flows into the heart that is opened in supplication; and that a sorrow which we are made able to endure is more truly conquered than a sorrow which we avoid.  7
  Being in Christ, it is safe to forget the past; it is possible to be sure of the future; it is possible to be diligent in the present.  8
  Certainly it is one of the most blessed things about “the faith that is in Christ Jesus,” that it makes a man remember his own sinfulness with penitence, not with pain—that it makes the memory of past transgressions full of solemn joy, because the memory of past transgressions but brings to mind the depth and rushing fullness of that river of love which has swept them all away as far as the east is from the west. Oh, my brother, you cannot forget your sins; but it lies within your own decision whether the remembrance shall be thankfulness and blessedness, or whether it shall be pain and loss forever.  9
  Christ puts Himself at the head of the mystic march of the generations; and, like the mysterious angel that Joshua saw in the plain by Jericho, makes the lofty claim, “Nay, but as the captain of the Lord’s host am I come up.”  10
  Christ wrought out His perfect obedience as a man, through temptation, and by suffering.  11
  Christ’s voice sounds now for each of us in loving invitation; and dead in sin and hardness of heart though we be, we can listen and live. Christ Himself, my brother, sows the seed now. Do you take care that it falls not on, but in, your souls.  12
  Do not let the empty cup be your first teacher of the blessings you had when it was full. Do not let a hard place here and there in the bed destroy your rest. Seek, as a plain duty, to cultivate a buoyant, joyous sense of the crowded kindnesses of God in your daily life.  13
  Do not let the loud utterances of your own wills anticipate, nor drown, the still, small voice in which God speaks. Bridle impatience till He does. If you cannot hear His whisper, wait till you do. Take care of running before you are sent. Keep your wills in equipoise till God’s hand gives the impulse and direction.  14
  Embrace in one act the two truths—thine own sin, and God’s infinite mercy in Jesus Christ.  15
  Faith has in it the recognition of the certainty and the justice of a judgment that is coming down crashing on every human head; and then from the midst of these fears and sorrows and the tempest of that great darkness there rises up in the night of terrors the shining of one perhaps pale, quivering, distant, but divinely given hope, “My Saviour! My Saviour! He is righteous; He has died; He lives! I will stay no longer; I will cast myself upon Him!”  16
  Faith refers to Christ. Holiness depends on faith. Heaven depends on holiness.  17
  Given a man full of faith, you will have a man tenacious in purpose, absorbed in one grand object, simple in his motives, in whom selfishness has been driven out by the power of a mightier love, and indolence stirred into unwearied energy.  18
  God gives us power to bear all the sorrows of His making; but He does not give us power to bear the sorrows of our own making, which the anticipation of sorrow most assuredly is.  19
  “God giveth His beloved sleep;” and in that peaceful sleep, realities, not dreams, come round their quiet rest, and fill their conscious spirits and their happy hearts with and fellowship. In His own time He will make the eternal morning dawn, and the hand that kept them in their slumbers shall touch them into waking, and shall clothe them when they arise according to the body of His own glory; and they, looking into His face, and flashing back its love, its light, its beauty, shall each break forth into singing as the rising light of that unsetting day touches their transfigured and immortal heads, in the triumphant thanksgiving; “I am satisfied, for I awake in Thy likeness.”  20
 
 
  Grieve not the Christ of God, who redeems us; and remember that we grieve Him most when we will not let Him pour His love upon us, but turn a sullen, unresponsive unbelief towards His pleading grace, as some glacier shuts out the sunshine from the mountain-side with its thick-ribbed ice.  21
  He that has no present Christ has a future, dark, chaotic, heaving with its destructive ocean; and over it there goes forever—black-pinioned, winging its solitary and hopeless flight, the raven of his anxious thoughts, and finds no place to rest, and comes back again to the desolate ark with its foreboding croak of evil in the present and evil in the future.  22
  Heaven is endless longing, accompanied with an endless fruition—a longing which is blessedness, a longing which is life.  23
  I do not know why a man should be either regretful or afraid, as he watches the hungry sea eating away this “bank and shoal of time” upon which he stands, even though the tide has all but reached his feet—if he knows that God’s strong hand will be stretched forth to him at the moment when the sand dissolves from under him, and will draw him out of many waters, and place him high above the floods on the stable land where there is “no more sea.”  24
  If faith, then, new birth; if new birth, then sonship; if sonship, then “an heir of God, and a joint-heir with Christ.” But if you have not got your foot upon the lowest round of the ladder, you will never come within sight of the blessed face of Him who stands at the top of it, and who looks down to you at this moment, saying to you, “My child, wilt thou not at this time cry unto me, ‘Abba, Father?’”  25
  If life has not made you by God’s grace, through faith, holy—think you, will death without faith do it? The cold waters of that narrow stream are no purifying bath in which you may wash and be clean. No! no! as you go down into them, you will come up from them.  26
  If our faith in God is not the veriest sham, it demands, and will produce, the abandonment sometimes, the subordination always, of external helps and material good.  27
  If we carried with us more distinctly than we do that one simple thought that in all human joys, in all the apparently self-forgetting tenderness, of that Lord, who had a heart for every sorrow, and an ear for every complaint, and a hand open as day and full of melting charity for every need—that in every moment of that life in the boyhood, in the dawning manhood, in the maturity of His growing power—there was always present one black shadow, toward which He ever went straight with the consent of His will and the clearest eye, we should understand something more of how the life as well as the death was a sacrifice for us sinful pen.  28
  If you want to live in this world, doing the duty of life, knowing the blessings of it, doing your work heartily, and yet not absorbed by it, remember that the one power whereby you can so act is, that all shall be consecrated to Christ, and done for His sake.  29
  In danger Christ lashes us to Himself, as the Alpine guides do when there is perilous ice to get over.  30
  In such a world as this, with such hearts as ours, weakness is wickedness in the long run. Whoever lets himself be shaped and guided by any thing lower than an inflexible will, fixed in obedience to God, will in the end be shaped into a deformity, and guided to wreck and ruin.  31
  It is not the thinker who is the true king of men, as we sometimes hear it proudly said. We need one who will not only show, but be the Truth; who will not only point, but open and be the Way; who will not only communicate thought, but give, because He is the Life. Not the rabbi’s pulpit, nor the teacher’s desk, still less the gilded chairs of earthly monarchs, least of all the tents of conquerors, are the throne of the true king. He rules from the cross.  32
  It was a deep true thought which the old painters had, when they drew John as likest to his Lord. Love makes us like.  33
  Let the current of your being set towards God, then your life will be filled and calmed by one master-passion which unites and stills the soul.  34
  Logically, faith comes first, and love next; but in life they will spring up together in the soul; the interval which separates them is impalpable, and in every act of trust, love is present; and fundamental to every emotion of love to Christ is trust in Christ.  35
  Nothing but Christian faith gives to the farthest future the solidity and definiteness which it must have if it is to be a breakwater for us against the fluctuating sea of present cares and thoughts.  36
  Oh! it irradiates all our days with lofty beauty, and it makes them all hallowed and divine, when we feel that not the apparent greatness, not the prominence nor noise with which it is done, nor the external consequences which flow from it, but the motive from which it flowed, determines the worth of our deed in God’s eyes. Faithfulness is faithfulness, on whatsoever scale it be set forth.  37
  Oh, when we are journeying through the murky night and the dark woods of affliction and sorrow, it is something to find here and there a spray broken, or a leafy stem bent down with the tread of His foot and the brush of His hand as He passed; and to remember that the path He trod He has hallowed, and thus to find lingering fragrance and hidden strength in the remembrance of Him as “in all points tempted like as we are,” bearing grief for us, bearing grief with us, bearing grief like us.  38
  Ordinary human motives will appeal in vain to the ears which have heard the tones of the heavenly music; and all the pomp of life will show poor and tawdry to the sight that has gazed on the vision of the great white throne and the crystal sea.  39
  Remember that vision on the Mount of Transfiguration; and let it be ours, even in the glare of earthly joys and brightnesses, to lift up our eyes, like those wondering three, and see no man any more, save Jesus only.  40
  So for us, the condition and preparation on and by which we are sheltered by that great hand, is the faith that asks, and the asking of faith. We must forsake the earthly props, but we must also believingly desire to be upheld by the heavenly arms. We make God responsible for our safety when we abandon other defense? and commit ourselves to Him.  41
  Surely scripture is right when it makes the sin of sins that unbelief, which is at bottom nothing else than a refusal to take the cup of salvation. Surely no sharper grief can be inflicted upon the Spirit of God than when we leave His gifts neglected and unappropriated.  42
  That is faith, cleaving to Christ, twining round Him with all the tendrils of our heart, as the vine does round its support.  43
  The act of faith, which separates us from all men, unites us for the first time in real brotherhood; and they who, one by one, come to Jesus and meet Him alone, next find that they are come to the city of God “and to an innumerable company.”  44
  The cross is the center of the world’s history; the incarnation of Christ and the crucifixion of our Lord are the pivot round which all the events of the ages revolve. The testimony of Christ was the spirit of prophecy, and the growing power of Jesus is the spirit of history.  45
  The cup which my Saviour giveth me, can it be anything but a cup of salvation?  46
  The grave has a door on its inner side.  47
  The joys of heaven are not the joys of passive contemplation, of dreamy remembrance, of perfect repose; but they are described thus: “They rest not day nor night.” “His servants serve Him, and see His face.”  48
  The mystery of the universe, and the meaning of God’s world, are shrouded in hopeless obscurity, until we learn to feel that all laws suppose a lawgiver, and that all working involves a Divine energy.  49
  The root of all steadfastness is in consecration to God.  50
  The sum of the whole matter is this: He who is one in will and heart with God is a Christian. He who loves God is one in will and heart with Him. He who trusts Christ loves God. That is Christianity in its ultimate purpose and result. That is Christianity in its means and working forces. That is Christianity in its starting point and foundation.  51
  The tears of Christ are the pity of God. The gentleness of Jesus is the long-suffering of God. The tenderness of Jesus is the love of God. “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.”  52
  The true confidence which is faith in Christ, and the true diffidence which is utter distrust of myself—are identical.  53
  The vision of the Divine Presence ever takes the form which our circumstances most require.  54
  There can be no faith so feeble that Christ does not respond to it.  55
  Transiency is stamped on all our possessions, occupations, and delights. We have the hunger for eternity in our souls, the thought of eternity in our hearts, the destination for eternity written on our inmost being, and the need to ally ourselves with eternity proclaimed by the most short-lived trifles of time. Either these things will be the blessing or the curse of our lives. Which do you mean that they shall be for you?  56
  “Tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope.” That is the order. You cannot put patience and experience into a parenthesis, and, omitting them, bring hope out of tribulation.  57
  True faith, by a mighty effort of the will, fixes its gaze on our Divine Helper, and there finds it possible and wise to lose its fears. It is madness to say, “I will not be afraid;” it is wisdom and peace to say, “I will trust and not be afraid.”  58
  We are only asking you to give to Christ that which you give to others, to transfer the old emotions, the blessed emotions, the exercise of which makes gladness in the life here below, to transfer them to Him, and to rest safe in the Lord. Faith is trust.  59
  We believe that to Christ belongs creative power—that “without Him was not anything made which was made.” We believe that from Him came all life at first. In Him life was as in its deep source. He is the fountain of life. We believe that as no being comes into existence without His creative power, so none continues to exist without His sustaining energy. We believe that the history of the world is but the history of His influence, and that the centre of the whole universe is the cross of Cavalry.  60
  While the agent of renovation is the Divine Spirit, and the condition of renovation is our cleaving to Christ, the medium of renovation and the weapon which the transforming grace employs is “the word of the truth of the gospel,” whereby we are sanctified.  61
  Yes, every sin is a mistake, and the epitaph for the sinner is, “Thou fool.”  62
  You must cast yourself on God’s gospel with all your weight, without any hanging back, without any doubt, without even the shadow of a suspicion that it will give.  63
 
 
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