The tempter will permit men to make use of religion as a medicine, a little in fainting fits, to relieve and recover them, but not as their daily food: not to be their diligent and constant practice. The crafty serpent will abuse the words of the Holy Spirit, “be not righteous over much.” As Judas said of the precious ointment poured upon our Saviour, “why was this waste?” so carnal men are apt to say, why these severe restraints from satisfying the natural appetites? Why such circumspection in our walking? Why keep the Lord’s day so religiously? Is it not enough to hear the sermons? May we not afterwards unbend, and enjoy free society, and recreate ourselves with carnal contentments? They do not believe that God is so strict in his commands, nor will be so exact in requiring an account for them: fond creatures to entertain such carnal conceits of God, to think him like themselves. They are apt to say, the ministers will fetter them all by imaginative rules of holiness unprescribed in the scriptures. For men would fain have the light, and the law that regulates them, to be suitable to their appetites and actions. But are we not commanded to imitate and honour our pattern, “to be holy as our heavenly Father is holy, in all manner of conversation?” Are we not enjoined to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling; to cleanse ourselves from all pollutions of flesh and spirit, and to perfect holiness in the fear of God: to follow holiness with the most zealous and unsatisfied desires,” that, if it were possible, we might anticipate heaven on earth? Can there be any excuse for neglecting these holy duties? William Bates, The Whole Works of the Rev. William Bates, ed. W. Farmer, vol. 4 (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1990), 127–128.
Let none be so foolish as to sit down contented without sanctification, but study holiness as ever ye would see heaven. We want a title to heaven, we must get that in justification and adoption: we want a meetness for heaven, and we must get that in sanctification. The sanctified are elected, and shall be glorified, 1 Pet. 1:1, 2, 4. And they that live and die unsanctifled, shall never see heaven, Heb. 12:14. ‘For without holiness no man shall see the Lord.’ Thomas Boston, Works, vol. 1, 661.
[I]t must be some grievous crime, and somewhat which is very offensive to him, that provokes him to sentence them to an eternal banishment from him. Oh how horrid a thing is sin! it brings all evil, Rom. 2:7, 8, and deprives of all good, Isa. 59:2. Its formal nature is a voluntary departure from God’s precepts, Heb. 3:12; Jer. 2:5; and its woeful effect is an eternal total departure from his gracious presence. His partial temporary departure from his own people, who are the objects of his eternal choice and infinite love, ‘which makes them go mourning all the day, and lie roaring all the night, because of their sins,’ speaks much of the evil of sin; but his full everlasting departure from others, which leaves them naked, and stripped of all comfort, and exposed to all misery and mischief, doth more abundantly proclaim its filthiness and loathsomeness. It can be no ordinary cloud or vapour that can obscure the sun at noonday, in all his beauty and brightness, and turn the clear day into a black night; and it can be no little or small thing which provokes the Father of mercy, and God of all grace, to deal so severely with the works of his own hands. The Rev. George Swinnock (Works, vol. 5, p. 285)
“[S]ince none . . . have been altogether exempt from temporal punishments, let us learn to bear them patiently. God did not spare Moses; what wonder if our condition is no better than his? Moreover, in the opinion of men it was a trifling offence, for the sake of which he was so severely chastised; for, carried away by indignation, he had been so irritated against the people that he had attributed less power to God than was due to Him. Now, those errors, into which we fall through thoughtless impetuosity, are more easily pardoned; but hence it is manifest how precious to God is His glory, when He does not suffer it to be obscured with impunity even by inadvertence. At the same time, also, we are taught that nothing is more irrational than to assume to ourselves the judgment respecting sins, and to weigh them in our own balance, when God is their only legitimate assessor.” John Calvin (Commentaries on the Four Last Books of Moses Arranged in the Form of a Harmony, vol. 4, p. 378)
Our Saviour did not promise wealth and honour to his followers, nor did he think it worth his pains of coming and dying, to bestow such gifts upon his children. He made heaven their happiness, and the earth their hell; the cross was their badge here, and the crown their reward hereafter; they seemed not to be a purchase congruous to so great a price of blood. Stephen Charnock (The Complete Works of Stephen Charnock, vol. 1, p. 34)
“[O]bserve how the Scripture sets out the spirits of men after their Idoll gods, in regard of the cost they are willing to bestow upon them. Isa. 46:6. They shall lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the ballance, and hire a goldsmith, and he maketh it a god. They care not what cost they are at to worship their Idols. O what a shame would it be if we should not be willing to part with much of our estates for the true worship of the true God: and though we should lose our estates, yet if we can serve God better, and in a purer way, we should be content; for Idolaters will lavish gold out of the bag upon their Idols. Now there is none like to our God; therefore it is a shame that they should doe more for their gods then we doe for ours. And then what are Idolaters willing to suffer for their gods? 1 Kings 18:28 how did Baals Priests there cut themselves after their manner, with Knives and Lancers, till the blood gushed out, to shew their respect to their Idols! let us then be willing to suffer any thing that God calls us to. And how constant were they to their Idols! therefore sayes God, Jer. 2:10, 11. Consider diligently and see, if there be such a thing: hath a Nation changed their gods which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit; how ill doth God take this that Idolaters should not change their gods that are infinitely below him, and yet that his people should change their God who is infinitely above them?” Jeremiah Burroughs, The Saints Treasury (London: T. C. for John Wright, 1654), 11.
“Wilt thou presently give a bill of divorce to all other lovers, and keep the bed of thy heart wholly for [Christ]? Shall the evil of sin never more have a good look from thee; but, as Amnon served Tamar, shall the hatred wherewith thou hatest those filthy strumpets—with whom thou hast had cursed dalliances, and committed spiritual fornication—be greater than the love wherewith thou hast loved them? Canst thou pack away the bondwoman and her son, and these things not at all be grievous in thy sight; that thy whole joy and delight may be in, and all that thou art worth preserved for, the true Isaac? Shall this Sun reign alone in the heavens of thy heart without any competitor? As when a dictator was created at Rome, there was a supersedeas to all other authority; so if Christ be exalted in thy soul, there must be a cessation of all other rule and power. Christ will not be a king merely in derision, as the Jews made him; nor as the stump of wood was to the frogs in the fable, whom every lust may securely dance about and provoke.” George Swinnock (Works, vol. 3, p. 464)
“Every good fear endeth in duty; it ariseth from faith, and ends in duty; it stirs up the soul to use all the means to prevent the danger. If Noah had not believed, he had never feared; if he had not feared, he had never prepared an ark. The fear of the wicked ends in irresolution, perplexity, and despair; their terrors differ only in degree and duration from the pains of hell—mere involuntary impressions, whose end is not duty, but despair and torment; but the fear of the godly sets them a-work.” Thomas Manton, The Complete Works of Thomas Manton, vol. 14 (London: James Nisbet & Co., 1973), 196–197.
[I]f we deny God the government of sin in the course of his providence, we must necessarily deny him the government of the world, because there is not an action of any man’s in the world, which is under the government of God, but is either a sinful action or an action mixed with sin. Stephen Charnock, The Complete Works of Stephen Charnock, vol. 1, p. 30