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Puritan meditation

April 4, 2009
“Study is like a winter sun that hath little warmth and influence: meditation . . . melts the heart when it is frozen, and makes it drop into tears of love…”
 “Some hearers have spiritual anorexia, Baxter said, for they have neither appetite nor digestion,. but others have spiritual bulimia..they have appetite, but no digestion.”
These excerpts are from a wonderful introduction to Christian meditation as the Puritans practiced it, written by Dr. Joel Beeke, pastor of Heritage Netherlands Reformed Church,  and president of Puritan Reformed Seminary,  located in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Dr. Beeke’s article may be read here.

Spurgeon on Human Inability

March 16, 2009

C. H. Spurgeon preached on the text of John 6:44,

“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.”

on March 7, 1858.  In his sermon, “Human Inability,” Spurgeon exposits on the doctrine of regeneration, a doctrine that remains tragically misapprehended by many professing Christians. This timeless sermon is perhaps one of Spurgeon’s most encouraging for those who have truly “come to Christ”–and sobering for those who have not.

“Coming to Christ” is a very common phrase in Holy Scripture. It is used to express those acts of the soul wherein, leaving at once our self-righteousness, and our sins, we fly unto the Lord Jesus Christ, and receive his righteousness to be our covering, and his blood to be our atonement. Coming to Christ, then, embraces in it repentance, self-negation, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and it sums within itself all those things which are the necessary attendants of these great states of heart, such as the belief of the truth, earnestness of prayer to God, the submission of the soul to the precepts of God’s gospel, and all those things which accompany the dawn of salvation in the soul. Coming to Christ is just the one essential thing for a sinner’s salvation. He that cometh not to Christ, do what he may, or think what he may, is yet in “the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity.” Read the rest of this crucial sermon.

Gordon Clark on the wealth of Christians

October 7, 2008
In his commentary, Colossians, Dr. Gordon Clark connects Christian maturity and Christian wealth.
Examining Colossians 2:2,

in order that their hearts may be confirmed, being united in love and to all the wealth of the full conviction of the understanding, to knowledge of the secret of God of Christ…

Dr. Clark asks,

“What does the wealth of a Christian consist of? Answer: It consists of the fullness of the understanding. One’s full conviction of the understanding is the settled and fixed persuasion that one comprehends the truth, and that it is the truth that is comprehended. Such a one is not blown hither and yon by every wind of doctrine. A person ever learning and never able to grasp the truth is not Paul’s ideal.”

Dr. Clark emphasizes the same idea, but addresses Christian maturity, in his exposition of Colossians 1:28, particularly the phrase, [Christ] whom we preach:

“To be mature is to have an extensive knowledge of Christ. Since God would not have put a means in Paul’s hands insufficient to attain God’s and Paul’s purpose, and since the means was the preaching of Pauline theology, it follows that maturity is a knowledge and belief in those holy doctrines. That is why, again, he said, “Whom we preach.”

And so, according to Dr. Clark, Christian maturity is knowledge and belief in the doctrine taught by Paul, and the wealth of the Christian is full understanding of the truth of this doctrine. Wealth and maturity are, for the Christian, effectively the same blessing.

 

 
 

 

Owen on studying theology

June 8, 2008

John Owen, the greatest of Puritan theologians, says this of the motives of those who study theology:

For those laboring in the vineyard of the Lord, the Providence of God provides, more usually than not, a wonderful additional consolation.  The seed that they sow in the earth may well be raked by malicious attacks and covered with the dung of abuse, but it will spring up more mightily and abundantly than any which saw nothing but the sweet smelling breezes of popular applause. . . .

The greatest obstacle to all students of theology is an inborn and destructive darkness of mind.  Seek to break through that by the power and Spirt of Him who once commanded light to shine forth out of darkness. — (John Owen: Biblical Theology, “Epistle to the reader,” pp. xxiii-xxvi)

God’s people under correction

April 30, 2008

“When God corrects us or ours for sin, it is our duty to be silent under the correction, not to quarrel with God, arraign his justice, or charge him with folly, but to acquiesce in all that God does; not only bearing, but accepting, the punishment of iniquity, and saying, as Eli, in a case not much unlike this, It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good…. 

“The most effectual arguments to quiet a gracious spirit under afflictions are those that are fetched from God’s glory; this silenced Aaron. It is true he is a loser in his comforts by this severe execution, but Moses has shown him that God is a gainer in his glory, and therefore he has not a word to say against it: if God be sanctified, Aaron is satisfied. Far be it for him that he should honour his sons more than God, or wish that God’s name, or house, or law, should be exposed to reproach or contempt for the preserving of the reputation of his family. No; now, as well as in the matter of the golden calf, Levi does not acknowledge his brethren, nor know his own children; and therefore they shall teach Jacob thy judgments, and Israel thy law.”  (Deuteronomy 33:9-10.) 

–Matthew Henry: Commentaries, Leviticus 10.

 

If we would live in peace…

March 6, 2008

“If we would live in peace, let us make the best constructions of one another’s words and actions.  Charity judgeth the best, and thinks no evil. If words and actions may be construed to a good sense, let us never put a bad construction upon them.  How much hath the peace of Christians been broken by an uncharitable interpretation of words and actions?  As some lay to the charge of others that which they never said; so, by straining men’s words, others lay to their charge that which they never thought.” 

–John Bunyan: Exhortation to Unity and Peace

Beauty and Bands

February 25, 2008

Calvin concluded a discourse on Beauty and Bands, at Zechariah 11:7, with this prayer: 

Grant, Almighty God, that as thou hast hitherto so kindly showed Thyself to be our Shepherd, and even our Father, and hast carefully provided for our safety–O grant, that we may not by our ingratitude deprive ourselves of thy favors, so as to provoke thy extreme vengeance, but on the contrary suffer ourselves to be gently ruled by thee, and render thee due obedience: and as thine only-begotten Son has been by Thee set over us as our only true Shepherd, may we hear his voice, and willingly obey him, so that we may be able to triumph with thy Prophet, that thy staff is sufficient for us, so as to enable us to walk without fear through the valley of the shadow of death, until we shall at length reach that blessed and eternal rest, which has been obtained for us by the blood of thine only Son. Amen. From: Calvin’s Commentaries, Zechariah XI:7.