Back to Contents
247. The Tried Man the Blessed Man
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. James 1:12
TO be blessed is to be happy, favored, prosperous, etc.
But it has a secret, sacred emphasis all its own; for the favor and prosperity are such as only God himself can bestow.
Who would not desire to be blessed of God?
Most men mistake the whereabouts of blessedness.
It is not bound up with wealth, rank, power, talent, admiration, friendship, health, pleasure, or even with a combination of all these.
It is often found where least expected: amid trials, temptations, etc.
I. THE BLESSED IN THIS LIFE.
1. Blessedness is not in our text connected with ease, freedom from trial, or absence of temptation.
Untested treasures may be worthless; not so those which have endured the fire. No man may reckon himself blessed if he has to fear that a trial would wither all his excellence.
2. Blessedness belongs to those who endure tests.
3. Blessedness belongs to those who endure trials out of love to God. The text speaks of "them that love him."
- These have faith, or it would not be tried; faith is blessed.
- These have life which bears trials, the spiritual life is blessed.
- These possess uprightness, purity, truth, patience; all these are blessed things.
4. Blessedness belongs to those who are proved true by trial.
- He that has love to God finds joy in that love.
- He also finds blessedness in suffering for that love.
5. Blessedness comes out of patient experience.
- After the test comes approval. "When he hath been approved" is the rendering of the Revised Version.
- After the test comes assurance of our being right. Certainty is a most precious commodity.
- Blessedness of thankfulness for being sustained.
- Blessedness of holy dependence under conscious weakness.
- Blessedness of peace and submission under God's hand.
- Blessedness of fearlessness as to result of further trial.
- Blessedness of familiarity with God enjoyed in the affliction.
- Blessedness of growth in grace through the trial.
He who, being tested, is supported in the ordeal, and comes out of the trial approved, is the blessed man.
II. THE BLESSED IN THE LIFE TO COME.
Those who have endured trial inherit the peculiar blessedness
1. Of being crowned. How crowned if never in the wars?
2. Of attaining the glory and "crown of life" by enduring trial, thus only can life be developed till its flower and crown appear.
- Crowned because victorious over enemies.
- Crowned because appreciated by their God.
- Crowned because honored of their fellows.
- Crowned because they have kept the conditions of the award.
3. Of possessing a living crown of endless joy. "Crown of life" or living crown: amaranthine, unfading.
- By trial brought to purest health of mind.
- By trial trained to utmost vigor of grace.
- By trial developed in every part of their nature.
- By trial made capable of the highest glory in eternity.
4. Of receiving this lift-crown from God.
- If such fierce trials do not kill them, nothing will.
- If they have spiritual bliss, it can never die.
- If they have heavenly life, it will always be at its crowning point.
Let us wait for the time of approval patiently.
- His own promise reveals and displays it.
- His peculiar regard to those who love him doubly ensures it.
- His own hand shall give it. Let us encounter trial cheerfully.
Let us expect the crown of life most joyfully and gather courage from the assurance of it.
"Blessed"; that is, already blessed. They are not miserable as the world judgeth them. It is a Christian paradox, wherein there is an allusion to what is said (Job 5:17). "Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth;" it is a wonder, and therefore he calleth the world to see it. Behold! So the apostle, in an opposition to the judgment of the world, saith, Blessed.
Afflictions do not make the people of God miserable. There's a great deal of
difference between a Christian and a man of the world: his best estate is vanity (Ps. 39:5), and a Christian's worst is happiness. He that loveth God is like a die; cast him high or low, he is still upon a square: he may be sometimes afflicted, but he is always happy. Thomas Manton
Times of affliction often prove times of great temptations, and therefore afflictions are called temptations.- Thomas Brooks
The most durable and precious metal in the ancient arts was the Corinthian bronze, which was said to have first been caused by the fusing of all the precious metals when Corinth was burned. The most precious products of experience are got in the fire of trial. John Legge
An old sailor was asked for what purpose shoals and rocks were created, and the reply was, "That sailors may avoid them." A Christian philosopher, using that axiom, upon being asked for what purpose trials and temptations are sent, answered, "That we may overcome and use them." The true dignity of life is not found in escaping difficulties, but in mastering them for Christ's sake and in Christ's strength. Dean Stanley
Many were the sorts of crowns which were in use amongst the Roman victors: (1) Corona civica, a crown made of oaken boughs, which was given by the Romans to him that saved the life of any citizen in battle against his enemies. (2) Obsidionalis, which was of grass, given to him that delivered a town or city from siege. (3) Muralis, which was of gold, given to him that first scaled the wall of any town or castle. (4) Castralis, which was likewise of gold, given to him that first entered the camp of the enemy. (5) Navalis, and that also of gold, given to him that first boarded the ship of an enemy. (6) Ovalis (and that of myrtle), which was given to those captains that subdued any town or city, or that won any field easily, without blood. (7) Triumphalis, which was of laurel, given to the chief general or consul who, after some signal victory, came home triumphing. These, with many others, as imperial, regal, and princely crowns (rather garlands or coronets than crowns), are not to be compared to the crown of glory which God hath prepared for those that love him. Who is able to express the glory of it; or to what glorious thing shall it be likened? If I had the tongue of men and angels, I should be unable to decipher it as it worthily deserveth. It is not only a crown of glory, but hath divers other titles of pre-eminency given unto it, of which all shall be true partakers that are godly; a crown of righteousness, by the imputation of Christ's righteousness; a crown of life, because those that have it shall be made capable of life eternal; a crown of stars, because they that receive it shall shine as stars for ever and ever. John Spencer
The same who crowns the conqueror, will be
A coadjutor in the agony.
Charles Hadden Spurgeon
248. More and More
But he giveth more grace. James 4:6
PRACTICAL as is the Epistle of James, the apostle does not neglect to extol the grace of God, as unevangelical preachers do in these times.
We err if we commend the fruits regardless of the root from which they spring. Every virtue should be traced to grace.
We must clearly point out the fountain of inward grace as well as the stream of manifest service which flows from it.
The principle of grace produces the practice of goodness, and none can create or preserve that principle but the God of all grace.
If we fail anywhere, it will be our wisdom to get more grace.
See the bounty of God: ever giving, and ever ready to give more!
I. OBSERVE THE TEXT IN ITS CONNECTION.
1. It presents a contrast. "But he giveth more grace."
2. It suggests a note of admiration.
- Two potent motives are confronted. "The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy"; on God's part this is met by "but he giveth more grace."
3. It hints at a direction for spiritual conflict.
- What a wonder that when sin aboundeth, grace still more abounds!
- When we discover more of our weakness, God gives more grace.
4. It encourages us in continuing the conflict.
- We learn where to obtain the weapons of our warfare; we must look to him who gives grace.
- We learn the nature of those weapons: they are not legal, nor fanciful, nor ascetical, but gracious: "he giveth more grace."
- We learn that lusting after evil must be met by the fulfillment of spiritual desires and obtaining more grace.
5. It plainly indicates a victory.
"He giveth more grace" is a plain promise that:
- As long as there is one passion in the believing soul that dares to rise, God will give grace to struggle with it.
- The more painfully we mourn the power of sin, the more certainly will grace increase if we believe in Jesus for salvation.
- God will not give us up, but that he will more and more augment the force of grace, so that sin must and shall ultimately yield to its sanctifying dominion.
Glory be to God, who, having given grace, still goes on to give more and more grace till we enter into glory! There is no stint or limit to the Lord's increasing gifts of grace.
II. OBSERVE THE GENERAL TRUTH Of THE TEXT.
God is ever on the giving hand. The text speaks of it as the Lord's way and habit: "He giveth more grace."
1. He giveth new supplies of grace.
2. He giveth larger supplies of grace.
3. He giveth higher orders of grace.
4. He giveth more largely as the old nature works more powerfully.
This should be
1. A truth of daily use for ourselves.
2. A promise daily pleaded for others.
3. A stimulus in the contemplation of higher or sterner duties, and an encouragement to enter on wider fields.
4. A solace under forebodings of deeper trouble in common life.
5. An assurance in prospect of the severe tests of sickness and death.
Seeing it is the nature of God to give more and more grace, let us have growing confidence in him.
III. BRING IT HOME BY SPECIAL APPROPRIATION.
1. My spiritual poverty, then, is my own fault, for the Lord giveth more grace to all who believe for it.
2. My spiritual growth will be to his glory, for I can only grow because he gives more grace. Oh, to grow constantly!
3. What a good God I have to go to! Let me rejoice in the present and hope for the future. Since the further I go the more grace shall I know, let me proceed with dauntless courage.
Brethren, let us trust the liberality of God, try it by prayer, prove it by faith, bear witness to it with zeal, and praise it with grateful joy.
When Lord North, during the American war, sent to the Rev. Mr. Fletcher, of Madeley (who had written on that unfortunate war, in a manner that had pleased the minister), to know what he wanted, he sent him word, that he wanted but one thing, which it was not in his lordship's power to give him, and that was more grace. John Whitecross
When a man gives a flower, it is a perfect gift; but the gift of grace is rather the gift of a flower seed.
When Matthew Henry was a child he received much impression from a sermon on the parable of the "mustard-seed." On returning home, he said to his child sister, "I think I have received a grain of grace." It was the seed of the Commentary "cast upon the waters." Charles Stanford
I have grace every day! every hour! When the rebel is brought, nine times a day, twenty times a day, for the space of forty years, by his prince's grace, from under the ax, how fair and sweet are the multiplied pardons and reprievals of grace to him! In my case here are multitudes of multiplied redemptions! Here is plenteous redemption! I defile every hour, Christ washeth; I fall, grace raiseth me; I come this day, this morning, under the rebuke of justice, but grace pardoneth me; and so it is all along, till grace puts me into heaven. Samuel Rutherford
Were you to rest satisfied with any present attainments to which you have reached, it would be an abuse of encouragement. It would be an evidence that you know nothing of the power of divine grace in reality, for
"Whoever says, I want no more,
Confesses he has none.
Those who have seen their Lord, will always pray, "I beseech thee, show me thy glory." Those that have once tasted that the Lord is gracious, will always cry, "Evermore give us this bread to eat." William Jay
A little grace will bring us to heaven hereafter, but great grace will bring heaven to us now. An old Divine
Oh, what a sad thing it is when Christians are what they always were! You
should have more grace; your word should be, ego non sum ego I am not the same I, or, nunc oblita mihi now my old courses are forgotten; or, as the apostle, 1 Peter 4:3, "The time past may suffice to have walked in the lusts of the flesh." Thomas Manton
Have you on the Lord believed?
Still there's more to follow;
Of his grace have you received?
Still there's more to follow;
Oh, the grace the Father shows!
Still there's more to follow I
Freely he his grace bestows;
Still there's more to follow!
Charles Hadden Spurgeon
249. Salvation as It Is Now Received
Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:9
THE greater benefits of salvation are usually classed among things to come, but indeed a large portion of them may be received here and now.
I. WHAT OF SALVATION IS RECEIVED HERE?
1. The whole of it by the grip of faith, and the grace of hope.
2. The absolute and final pardon of sin is ours at this moment.
3. Deliverance from slavish bondage, and from a sense of awful distance from God is a present relief.
4. Rescue from the condemning power of sin is now complete.
- Peace, reconciliation, contentment fellowship with God, and delight in God, we enjoy at this hour.
5. Release from its dominion is ours. It can no longer command us at its will, nor lull us to sleep by its soothing strains.
6. Conquest over evil is given to us in great measure at once.
7. Joy may become permanent in the midst of sorrow. The immediate heritage of believers is exceedingly great. Salvation is ours at this day, and with it "all things."
II. HOW IS IT RECEIVED?
1. Entirely from Jesus, as a gift of divine grace.
- Sins are conquerable. No one should imagine that he must necessarily sin because of his constitution or surroundings.
- Holy living is possible. Some have reached a high degree of it. Why not others?
2. By faith, not by sight or feeling. We believe to see, and this is good. To require to see in order to believe is vicious.
3. By fervent love to God. This excites to revenge against sin and so gives present purification. This also nerves us for consecrated living and, thus, produces holiness.
4. By joy in the Lord. This causes us to receive peace unspeakable, not to be exaggerated, nor even uttered. Too great, too deep to be understood, even by those who enjoy it.
Much of heaven may be enjoyed before we reach it.
III. HAVE YOU RECEIVED IT, AND HOW MUCH?
1. You have heard of salvation, but hearing will not do.
2. You profess to know it? But mere profession will not do.
3. Have you received pardon? Are you sure of it?
4. Have you been made holy? Are you daily cleansed in your walk?
5. Have you obtained rest by faith and hope and love? Make these inquiries as in God's sight.
If the result is unsatisfactory, begin at once to seek the Lord.
Look for the appearing of the Lord as the time for receiving in a fuller sense "the end of your faith."
An evangelist said in my hearing: "He that believeth hath everlasting life. H-A-T-H that spells 'got it.'" It is an odd way of spelling, but it is sound divinity. C. H. S.
This is the certainty of their hope, that it is as if they had already received it. If the promise of God and the merit of Christ hold good, then they who believe in him, and love him, are made sure of salvation. The promises of God in Christ "are not yea and nay; but they are in him yea, and in him amen." Sooner may the rivers run backward, and the course of the heavens change, and the frame of nature be dissolved, than any one soul that is united to Jesus Christ by faith and love can be severed from him, and so fall short of the salvation hoped for in him, and this is the matter of their rejoicing. Archbishop Leighton
To fall into sin is a serious thing, even though the guilt of it be forgiven. A boy who had often been disobedient was made by his father to drive a nail into a post for each offense. When he was well-behaved for a day he was allowed to draw out one of the nails. He fought against his temper bravely, and at last all the nails were gone from the post, and his father praised him. "Alas, father," said the lad, "the nails are all gone, but the holes are left!" Even after forgiveness it will require a miracle of grace to recover us from the ill effects of sin.
In St. Peter's, at Rome, I saw monuments to James III., Charles III., and Henry IX., kings of England. These potentates were quite unknown to me. They had evidently a name to reign, but reign they did not: they never received the end of their faith. Are not many professed Christians in the same condition? C. H. S.
Charles Hadden Spurgeon