Gregory of Nazianzus (c. 329-389/390): Let us become like Christ, since Christ became like us

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“Yesterday I was crucified with Him; today I am glorified with Him; yesterday I died with Him; today I am quickened with Him; yesterday I was buried with Him; today I rise with Him. But let us offer to Him Who suffered and rose again for us—you will think perhaps that I am going to say gold, or silver, or woven work or transparent and costly stones, the mere passing material of earth, that remains here below, and is for the most part always possessed by bad men, slaves of the world and of the Prince of the world. Let us offer ourselves, the possession most precious to God, and most fitting; let us give back to the Image what is made after the Image. Let us recognize our Dignity; let us honour our Archetype; let us know the power of the Mystery, and for what Christ died.

Let us become like Christ, since Christ became like us. Let us become God’s for His sake, since He for ours became Man. He assumed the worse that He might give us the better; He became poor that we through His poverty might be rich; He took upon Him the form of a servant that we might receive back our liberty; He came down that we might be exalted; He was tempted that we might conquer; He was dishonoured that He might glorify us; He died that He might save us; He ascended that He might draw to Himself us, who were lying low in the fall of sin.  Let us give all, offer all, to Him Who gave Himself a Ransom and a Reconciliation for us.”

- Gregory of Nazianzus (c. 329-389/390), Oration I, ch. IV & V

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) on the great comfort to be found in Christ’s Gethsemane prayer

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“The godly may take great comfort in this, that Christ has as their high priest offered up such strong cries to God. You that have good evidence of your being believers in Christ, and his true followers and servants, may comfort yourselves in this, that Christ Jesus is your high priest, that that blood, which Christ shed in his agony, fell down to the ground for you, and that those earnest cries were sent up to God for you, for the success of his labours and sufferings in all that good you stood in need of in this world, and in your everlasting happiness in the world to come. This may be a comfort to you in all losses, and under all difficulties, that you may encourage your faith, and strengthen your hope, and cause you greatly to rejoice. If you were under any remarkable difficulties, it would be a great comfort to you to have the prayers of some man that you looked upon to be a man of eminent piety, and one that had a great interest at the throne of grace, and especially if you knew that he was very earnest and greatly engaged in prayer for you. But how much more may you be comforted in it, that you have an interest in the prayers and cries of the only-begotten and infinitely worthy Son of God, and that he was so earnest in his prayers for you, as you have heard!”

- Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), Christ’s Agony (Sermon on Luke 22:44)

Richard Sibbes (1577-1635): His life is a commentary on his inward man

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“[W]herever true wisdom and judgment are, there Christ has set up his government, because where wisdom is it directs us, not only to understand, but to order our ways aright. Where Christ as a prophet teaches by his Spirit, he likewise as a king subdues the heart by his Spirit to obedience to what is taught. This is that teaching which is promised of God, when not only the brain but the heart itself is taught; when men do not only know what they should do but are taught the very doing of it. They are not only taught that they should love, fear and obey, but they are taught love itself, and fear and obedience themselves. Christ sets up his throne in the very heart and alters its direction, so making his subjects good, together with teaching them to be good. Other princes can make good laws, but they cannot write them in their people’s hearts (Jer. 31:33). This is Christ’s prerogative: he infuses into his subjects his own Spirit. Upon him there does not only rest the spirit of wisdom and understanding, but likewise the spirit of the fear of the Lord (Isa. 11:2). The knowledge which we have of him from himself is a transforming knowledge (2 Cor. 3:18). The same Spirit who enlightens the mind inspires gracious inclinations into the will and affections and infuses strength into the whole man. As a gracious man judges as he should, so he inclines to and does as he judges. His life is a commentary on his inward man. There is a sweet harmony among God’s truth, his judgment, and his whole conversation.”

- Richard Sibbes (1577-1635), The Bruised Reed, p. 87-88

Hugh Binning (1627-1653): Take the word of God as the only rule

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“Well then, let this be established in your hearts as the foundation of all true religion, that the scriptures are the word of the eternal God, and that they contain a perfect and exact rule both of glorifying God and of the way to enjoy him. They can make you perfect to every good work. I shall say no more on this; but beseech you, as you love your own souls, be acquainting yourselves with them. You will hear, in these days, of men pretending to more divine and spiritual discoveries and revelations than the scriptures contain: but, my brethren, these can make you ‘wise to salvation,’ these can make you ‘perfect to every good work.’ Then, what needs more? All that is besides salvation, and beyond perfection, count it superfluous and vain, if not worse, if not diabolical. Let others be wise to their own destruction,—let them establish their own imaginations for the word of God, and rule of their faith,—but hold you fast what you have received, and ‘contend earnestly’ for it. Add nothing, and diminish nothing; let this lamp shine ’till the day dawn,’—till the morning of the resurrection; and walk ye in the light of it, and do not kindle any other sparkles, else ye shall lie down in the grave in sorrow, and rise in sorrow. Take the word of God as the only rule, and the perfect rule,—a rule for all your actions, civil, natural, and religious; for all must be done to his glory, and his word teacheth how to attain to that end. Let not your imaginations, let not others’ example, let not the preaching of men, let not the conclusions and acts of Assemblies be your rule, but in as far as you find them agreeing with the perfect rule of God’s holy word. All other rules are regulæ regulatæ; they are but like publications and intimations of the rule itself. Ordinances of assemblies are but like the herald-promulgation of the king’s statute and law; if it vary in any thing from his intention, it is not valid and binding. I beseech you, take the scriptures for the rule of your walking, or else you will wander; the scripture is regula regulans, a ruling rule. If you be not acquainted with it, you must follow the opinions or examples of other men; and what if they lead you unto destruction?”

- Hugh Binning (1627-1653), The Common Principles of the Christian Religion, Lecture III

Thomas Watson (c. 1620-1686): He passed by angels and thought of you

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“The reason our affections are so chilled and cold in religion—is that we do not warm them with thoughts of God. Hold a magnifying glass to the sun, and the glass burns that which is near to it. So when our thoughts are lifted up to Christ, the Sun of righteousness, our affections are set on fire. No sooner had the spouse been thinking upon her Savior’s beauty—but she fell into love-sickness. (Song of Sol. 5:8).

O saints, do but let your thoughts dwell upon the love of Christ, who passed by angels and thought of you; who was wounded that, out of his wounds, the balm of Gilead might come to heal you; who leaped into the sea of his Father’s wrath, to save you from drowning in the lake of fire! Think of this unparalleled love, which sets the angels wondering—and see if it will not affect your hearts and cause tears to flow forth!”

- Thomas Watson (c. 1620-1686), The Great Gain of Godliness, p. 87

Joseph Alleine (1634-1668): Conversion is a supernatural work

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“The author of conversion is the Spirit of God, and therefore it is called “the sanctification of the Spirit” (2 Thess. 2:13) and “the renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Tit. 3:5). This does not exclude the other persons in the Trinity, for the apostle teaches us to bless the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who “has begotten us again unto a living hope” (1 Pet. 1:3). And Christ is said to “give repentance unto Israel” (Acts 5:31); and is called the “everlasting Father” (Is. 9:6) and we his seed, and “the children whom God has given him” (Heb. 2:13). Yet this work is principally ascribed to the Holy Spirit, and so we are said to be “born of the Spirit” (Jn. 3:5-6).

So then, conversion is a work above man’s power. We are “born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man – but of God” (Jn. 1:13). Never think you can convert yourself. If ever you would be savingly converted, you must despair of doing it in your own strength. It is a resurrection from the dead (Eph. 2:1), a new creation (Gal. 6:15; Eph. 2:10), a work of absolute omnipotence (Eph. 1:19). Are not these out of the reach of human power? If you have no more than you had by your first birth – a good nature, a meek and chaste temper, and so forth – you are a stranger to true conversion. Conversion is a supernatural work.”

- Joseph Alleine (1634-1668), A Sure Guide to Heaven, Chapter 2

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) on the wonderful love of God

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“The work of redemption, which the gospel declares unto us, above all things affords motives to love; for that work was the most glorious and wonderful work of love ever seen or thought of. Love is the principal thing which the gospel reveals in God and Christ. The gospel brings to light the love between the Father and the Son, and declares how that love has been manifested in mercy; how that Christ is God’s beloved Son in whom he is well pleased. And there we have the effects of God’s love to his Son set before us in appointing him to the honor of a mediatorial kingdom, in appointing him to be the [Lord and Judge] of the world, in appointing that all men should honor the Son even as they honor the Father. There is revealed the love which Christ has to the Father, and the wonderful fruits of that love, as particularly his doing such great things, and suffering such great things in obedience to the Father, and for the honor of the Father’s justice, authority and law. There it is revealed how the Father and the Son are one in love, that we might be induced in like manner to be one with them, and with one another, agreeable to Christ’s prayer, John 17:21–23, “That they all may be one; as thou Father art in me and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” The gospel teaches us the doctrine of the eternal electing love of God, and reveals how God loved those that are redeemed by Christ before the foundation of the world; and how he then gave them to the Son, and the Son loved them as his own. The gospel reveals the wonderful love of God the Father to poor sinful, miserable men, in giving [Christ not only to love them while in the world, but to love them to the end. And all this love is spoken of as bestowed on us while we were wanderers, outcasts, worthless, guilty, and even enemies.] The gospel reveals such love as nothing else reveals. John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this.” Romans 5:7–8, “Scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” God and Christ in the gospel revelation appear as clothed with love, as being as it were on a throne of mercy and grace, a seat of love encompassed about with pleasant beams of love. Love is the light and glory which are about the throne on which God sits.”

- Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), “Charity and its Fruits”, in: Ethical Writings (Works of Jonathan Edwards Online Vol. 8), p. 143-145