|Fire and Ice: Puritan and Reformed Writings|
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by Ralph Erskine
Let all believers learn to lay all things they need over against the all things that Christ hath; when you think on your guiltiness, look to Christ's righteousness, and lay this over against that; when you apprehend your weakness, then apprehend Christ's strength, and lay this over against that; when you consider your emptiness, consider Christ's fulness, and lay this over against that. Study Christ and your condition together; for, if you study your condition without studying Christ, then you will be full of despair and discouragement; and if you study Christ, without studying your condition, then you will be filled with pride and presumption. If you be ignorant, think upon Christ as a Prophet; if guilty, now think upon Christ as a Priest; if enslaved, now study him as a King; Christ hath titles suited to your condition; therefore lay his titles and your condition together. It is remarkable that all the epistles to the seven churches of Asia begin with some title of Christ suited to the condition of that church; for example, his title to the church of Smyrna, Rev. 2:8, is, "The first and the last, that was dead and is alive;" why so? Because they were to suffer hard things, and were called to be faithful unto death, and so on; he shews that he hath titles suited to every case. Thus, set you his names and titles that suit your condition, just over against it, and assure Yourselves that Christ will make good his titles that he is clothed with; if the title be, "The Lord is my shepherd," then I may assure myself, "I shall not want," Psalm 23:1. Thus do you; when you find distress among the saints, then remember his title, "The King of Saints;" when there is a disorder among the nations, remember his title, "The King of nations;" when you find darkness overspreading your souls, remember his title, "I am the Light of the world;" when you find death and deadness taking place, remember his title, "I am the resurrection and the life;" when you are reproached, troubled, and oppressed, remember his title that he is a "Refuge in time of trouble, a present help." Know that as Christ and the promise is yours, in the gospel-offer and publication, to be believed in, and rested upon; so, Christ is so far yours in possession, as you through grace improve him, and rest upon him; and the promise is so far yours in possession, as you improve it, and rest upon it. Thus you may be possessed of all things.
Again, hence learn how groundless the complaints of believers are when they complain of things they lack. Whatever you lack, yet still look to him, and you will see you lack nothing. Do you say, Alas! I lack such and such a near relation? Why, do you complain as long as you have such a relation as Christ living? Will you say, I miss a dear child? Is he not better to you than ten children? Do you want a father as long as your everlasting Father remains? Yea, here is comfort enough even in the case of parting with all things in the world; you may say joyfully, Farewell passing shadows and empty nothings, and welcome Jesus who hath all things that the Father hath, and who invites me to the everlasting enjoyment thereof. Let no extreme difficulty discourage you, and make you think, Oh! it is impossible relief can now come; What? Are not all things possible to him that hath all things in his hand? Yea, "All things are possible to him that believeth;" and it is possible for you to do all things through Christ strengthening you, even to overleap the highest walls, to break bows of steel in pieces, and wade through the deepest fords in your way. "What ailed thee, O sea! that thou fleddest? and thou Jordan, that thou wast driven back? Tremble thou earth at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob."
O believer! Let him that hath all things the Father hath be all
things to you; let him be the all of your knowledge, saying with
Paul, "I desire to know nothing but Christ, and him crucified;"
what, Paul, was you not acquaint with the heathen poets, and all
the learning of your age? True; but I count all dung for the excellency
of the knowledge of Christ; in knowing him I know all things.
Let Christ be the all of your desire, saying, "Whom have
I in heaven but thee? and there is none on earth that I desire
beside thee, Psalm 73:25. One thing have I desired of the Lord,
that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and
to enquire in his temple," Psalm 27:4. This is my salvation
and all my desire. Let him be the all of your love and delight;
let him be the all of your esteem, the all of your joy, the all
of your glory, the all of your life, and the all of your trust
This extract taken from Christ's Treasures Opened by Himself (115K). Word format (43K) PDF format (88K)
Index to Ralph Erskine
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