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“I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world,
but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.”—John 17:15.
1. The meanings of this prayer – 3:43
2. The reasons of this prayer – 8:52
3. The doctrinal inferences that we may derive from it – 18:19
4. The practical lessons it teaches – 23:00
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…doubtless it would not be for our good to withdraw from this world as soon as we had escaped from sin. It is better for us to tarry a little while; far better. And the reasons for this are—first, because a little stay on earth will make heaven all the sweeter. Nothing makes rest so sweet as toil; nothing can render security so pleasant as a long exposure to alarms, and fears, and battles. No heaven will be so sweet as a heaven which has been preceded by torments and pains. Methinks the deeper draughts of woe we drink here below, the sweeter will be those draughts of eternal glory which we shall receive from the golden bowls of bliss; the more we are battered and scarred on earth the more glorious will be our victory above, when the shouts of a thousand times ten thousand angels welcome us to our Father’s palace. The more trials the more bliss, the more sufferings the more ecstacies, the more depression the higher the exaltation. Thus we shall gain more of heaven by the sufferings we shall pass through here below. Let us not then, my brethren, fear to advance through our trials: they are for our good; to stop here awhile is for our benefit.
Fellowship with Christ is so honorable a thing that it is worth while to suffer, that we may thereby enjoy it.
I should never have known the Saviour’s love half so much if I had not been in the storms of affliction. How sweet it is to learn the Saviour’s love when nobody else loves us! When friends flee away, what a blessed thing it is to see that the Saviour does not forsake us but still keeps us, and holds fast by us, and clings to us, and will not let us go! O beloved brother and sister, believe that your remaining here on earth is for your eternal benefit, and therefore Jesus said, “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world.”
The pious mind will know how to improve the very sight of sin to its own sanctification. It will learn humility when it remembers that restraining grace alone prevents a similar fault in itself, it will gather subjects for gratitude and admiration from the fact, that grace alone has made it to differ. Never shall we value grace so much as when we see the evil from which it delivers us, never shall we more abhor sin than when we discern its visible deformity. Bad society is in itself like the poisonous cassava, but if baked in the fire of grace it may even be rendered useful. True grace casts salt into the poisonous stream, and then when forced to ford it, the filth thereof is destroyed. Abide, then, O soldier, in the trenches of labour and battle, for the hardness of service is beneficial to thee.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon