Today's Expositor's Quote is from John Bunyan's autobiography, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners:
I have . . . been often tempted to pride; . . . and though I dare not say I have not been infected with this, yet truly the Lord, of His precious mercy, hath so carried it towards me, that . . . I have had but small joy to give way to such a thing; for it hath been my every day's portion to be let into the evil of my own heart. . . . I have had also . . . some notable place or other of the Word presented before me, which word hath contained in it some sharp and piercing sentence concerning the perishing of the soul, notwithstanding gifts; . . . as, for instance . . . 'Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, and a tinkling cymbal' (1 Cor. 13.1, 2).
A tinkling cymbal is an instrument of music, with which a skilful player can make such melodious and heart-inflaming music, that all who hear him play can scarcely hold from dancing; and yet behold the cymbal hath not life, neither comes the music from it, but because of the art of him that plays therewith; so then the instrument at last may come to naught and perish, though, in times past, such music hath been made upon it.
Just thus I saw it was and will be with them who have gifts, but want saving grace, they are in the hand of Christ, as the cymbal in the hand of David; and as David could, with the cymbal, make that mirth in the service of God, as to elevate the hearts of the worshippers, so Christ can use these gifted men, as with them to affect the souls of His people in His church; yet when He hath done all, hang them by as lifeless, though sounding cymbals.
This consideration . . . [was] a maul on the head of pride, and desire of vain glory; what, thought I, shall I be proud because I am a sounding brass? . . . Hath not the least creature that hath life, more of God in it than these? . . . A little grace, a little love, a little of the true fear of God, is better than all these gifts. . . .
Thus, therefore, . . . though gifts in themselves [are] good to the thing for which they are designed, to wit, the edification of others; yet empty and without power to save the soul of him that hath them, if they be alone. . . . This showed me, too, that gifts being alone, were dangerous . . . because of those evils that attend them that have them, to wit, pride, desire of vain glory, self-conceit, etc., all of which were easily blown up at the applause and commendation of every unadvised Christian, to the endangering of a poor creature to fall into the condemnation of the devil.
I saw therefore that he that hath gifts had need be let into a sight of the nature of them, to wit, that they come short of making of him to be in a truly saved condition, lest he rest in them, and so fall short of the grace of God. He hath also cause to walk humbly with God, and be little in his own eyes, and to remember withal, that his gifts are not his own, but the church's; and that by them he is made a servant to the church; and that he must give at last an account of his stewardship unto the Lord Jesus; and to give a good account, will be a blessed thing.
Let all men therefore prize a little with the fear of the Lord; gifts indeed are desirable, but yet great grace and small gifts are better than great gifts and no grace. It doth not say, the Lord gives gifts and glory, but the Lord gives grace and glory; and blessed is such an one to whom the Lord gives grace, true grace, for that is a certain forerunner of glory.
John Bunyan, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, originally published in 1666; from the section "A Brief Account of the Author's Call to the Work of the Ministry." Available on the web.
[Jesus said, "Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven." My it never be that we should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen -- Coty]
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