[T]ake pains to climb up to that besieged house to Christ; for devils, men, and armies of temptations are lying about the house, to hold out all that are out, and it is taken with violence. It is not a smooth and easy way, neither will your weather be fair and pleasant; but whosoever hath seen the invisible God, and the fair City, makes no reckoning of losses or crosses. In ye must be, cost you what it will. Stand not for a price, and for all that ye have, to win the castle. The rights to it are won to you, and it is disponed to you in the testament of your Lord Jesus (and see what a fair legacy your dying Friend, Christ, hath left you!), and there wanteth nothing but possession. Then get up in the strength of the Lord; get over the water to possess that good land. It is better than a land of olives and wine-trees; for the Tree of Life, that beareth twelve manner of fruits every month, is there before you; and a pure river of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb, is there. Your time is short; therefore lose no time. Gracious and faithful is He who hath called you to His kingdom and glory. The city is yours by free conquest, and by promise; and, therefore, let no unco lord-idol put you from your own. The devil hath cheated the simple heir of his paradise, and, by enticing us to taste of the forbidden fruit, hath as it were, bought us out of our kindly heritage. But our Lord Christ Jesus hath done more than bought the devil by; for He hath redeemed the wadset, and made the poor heir free to the inheritance. If we knew the glory of our Elder Brother in heaven, we would long to be there to see Him, and to get our fill of heaven. We children think the earth a fair garden; but it is but God’s outfield, and wild, cold, barren ground. All things are fading that are here. It is our happiness to make sure of Christ to ourselves. Samuel Rutherford (Letters of Samuel Rutherford, Edinburgh; London: Oliphant, Anderson & Ferrier, 1891, p. 511).
The Rev. William Frederick Vincent Bartlett reminds us of the Sabbath’s origin (Southern Presbyterian Pulpit: A Collection of Sermons, pp. 385, 386): You must remember that in dealing with the Sabbath you are not dealing with a mere human device. It is not like a tariff bill or a lodge bill that men may quarrel over. It not an enactment of the state. It is God’s institution; the creation of God’s will and armed with God’s sanction. As, then, God made it, no man has a right to unmake it.
The Rev. Zachary Crofton (Nonconformist minister, 1626-1672), in his The Vertue and Value of Baptism (London, 1663) begins the book with short catechism on the subject. One of the questions addresses what renders one to be a fit subject for baptism. It is not the majority report, and is quite contrary to the conversionalism so prevalent now: Q. By what must Infidels converted to the Faith be judged, within the Covenant, and fit Subjects to be baptized[?] A. By making a profession of saving faith, which may be done by men in the gall of bitterness, and bond of iniquity; not by a saving profession of faith, importing sincerity of grace, nor by a well ordered conversation; for God’s Ministers must judge by a present visible sign, and they cannot search the heart: And plants are to be set in the Church before we look for fruit; Baptism is a bond unto amendment of life.
How slight will the excuse be, God hath not forbidden this or that, when God shall silence men with the question, Where, or when did I command this or that? There was no addition to be made under the law to the meanest instrument God had appointed in his service. The sacred perfume was not to have one ingredient more put into it, than what God had prescribed in the composition; nor was any man, upon pain of death, to imitate it; nor would God endure that sacrifices should be consumed with any other fire, than that which came down from heaven: so tender is God of any invasions of his wisdom and authority. In all things of his nature, whatsoever voluntary humility and respect to God they may be disguised with, there is a swelling of the fleshly mind against infinite understanding, which the apostle nauseates, Col. 2:18 . . . . To conclude; such as make alterations in religion, different from the first institution, are intolerable busy bodies, that will not let God alone with his own affairs. Vain man would be wiser than his maker, and be dabbling in that which is his sole prerogative. Stephen Charnock (Works, Vol. 2, pp. 81–83)
All superstition is based upon ignorance more or less gross. Minds not capable of close and just discrimination are peculiarly liable to it. A carnal state of the heart works up the imagination, and the fleshly mind seizes with great vigour upon its own conceptions. When one has not been made wise by God’s word, and the affections become highly excited, plausible pretences are sufficient to mislead. Once enlisted in the cause of superstition, self-love causes persistence in it. Having some persuasion that holiness is essential, and the natural heart rising in opposition to the requirements of God’s law, the excited mind perversely seeks out some method whereby to delude itself into the persuasion that it is holy. The growth of superstition is by a very gradual process. Its whole history is written in three words, little by little. The only sure defence against it is the true knowledge and genuine love of God, accompanied by a firm determination to do what he commands, to worship as he directs, and to follow human devisings in nothing. William S. Plumer (The Law of God as Contained in the Ten Commandments, p. 230)
It is now Saturday night, and I must prepare for the holy Sabbath. My Bible and Confession of Faith are my travelling companions, and precious friends have they been to me. I bless God for that glorious summary of Christian doctrine contained in our noble standards. It has cheered my soul in many a dark hour, and sustained me in many a desponding moment. I love to read it, and ponder carefully each proof-text as I pass along. J.H. Thornwell (The Life and Letters of James Henley Thornwell, p. 162)
An Exposition Upon the Epistle of Jude, pp. 50-51 The sanctification of none is in this life so complete, but it admits of multiplication. Mercy, peace, love, even to you (saith the apostle) be multiplied. There is no plenary perfection on this side heaven; the highest saint in this life is not come to the fullness of his measure, Eph. iv. 13. Blessed Paul thought not himself to have apprehended, Phil. iii.13. The most perfect Christian is perfectly imperfect when he begins, imperfectly perfect when he ends; when we have done all, we are unprofitable servants. The fullest vessel may have more wine poured into it, without any fear of bursting; none must bid God stay his hand. They who think have need of nothing, have truly received nothing. Till the sabbath comes, we must daily be gathering manna: he that rests in time of labour, shall labour, though in vain, in the time of rest. A Christian is not like a top, that moves by going round, and not by going forward: not like the sun in Hezekiah’s time, that stood still; but like the sun in its natural course, that goes forward to the perfect day. we must go from strength to strength, till we appear before the Lord in Zion, Psal. lxxxiv.7. Where there is no growing, there is some decaying. While we neglect to gain, we spend upon the stock. Sin is continually making breaches in our graces, and we must be daily making them up; our garment has daily rents, and therefore it wants constant mending; the dust daily falls in our houses, and therefore they want frequent cleansing; our hearts are like to children’s faces, after every washing, they soon grow foul again. Sanctification is nothing but a return to our first estate, to which we cannot attain till death. When the sting of sin is gone, the stain cleaves close, and we had need wash seven times daily to get it out.
The primitive institution of the Sabbath—as the sign of that rest into which spiritually and by faith we enter now, as well as the foretaste of the rest which remaineth for us in the world to come—is surely a delightful truth; and its observance cannot but be a precious privilege. This world, with all that it contains, was made for man. Man himself was made for God, for entering into God’s rest. And that he might all the better do so, the Sabbath was made for him. “God blessed the Sabbath-day and hallowed it.” The blessing is not recalled, the consecration is not repealed. There remaineth a rest unto the people of God—and a day of rest. Let us not fall short of the rest hereafter. Let us not despise the day of rest now. Studies in Genesis, Chapter 2
Robert Smith Candlish discusses the proper approach to the use of creature-comforts (Studies in Genesis; Genesis 1.1) [I]f, on the instant when we were about to use, as we have been wont, any of the creatures of God provided for our accommodation, God himself were to appear personally present before us, and were to say, Son—Daughter—I created this thing which you are about to use—this cup of wine which you are about to drink, this piece of money that you are about to spend, this brother or sister with whom you are now conversing—and I testify this to you, at this particular moment—I, your Lord and your God—I created them—such as they are—for those ends which they are plainly designed to serve;—would we go on to make the very same use of the creature that we intended to make? Or would not our hand be arrested, and our mouth shut, and our spirit made to stand in awe, so that we would not sin?