Monday, February 25, 2008

A good wish to the Lord's-day.

Hail thou that art highly favoured of God, thou map of heaven, thou golden spot of the week, thou market-day of souls, thou daybreak of eternal brightness, thou queen of days, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among days, Luke 1:28. I may say to thee what the angel said to Daniel, Oh day greatly beloved! Dan 9:23. Thou art fairer than all the children of time, grace is poured into thy lips; God, even thy God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows, Ps 45. Of the Jewish Sabbaths and other festivals, in comparison of thee it may be spoken, They perish, but thou remainest, and they all wax old as a garment; and as a vesture hast thou folded them up, and they are changed, but thou shalt (maugre the malice of men and devils) continue the same, and thy years shall not fail, Heb 1:11-12. As the temple succeeded and exceeded the tabernacle, this was fleeting, that was fixed, so dost thou all former Sabbaths, they were but morning stars to usher in thee, the sun, and then to disappear. Other festivals in all their royalty are not arrayed like unto thee. All the graces triumph in thee, all the ordinances conspire to enrich thee; the Father ruleth thee, the Son rose upon thee, the Spirit hath overshadowed thee. Thus is it done to the day which the king of heaven delighteth to honour.

Thou hast not only a common blessing with other days by the law of nature, but a special blessing above all other days, from the love of thy maker. Let thousands mark thee for their new birthday; be thou a day, as it was said of that night to the Jews, much to be remembered, much to be observed to the Lord, for bringing many out of worse than Egyptian bondage, Exod 12:42; be thou to them a day of light and gladness, of joy and honour, and a good day, Esther 8:16. On thee light was created, the Holy Ghost descended, life hath been restored, Satan subdued, sin mortified, souls sanctified, the grave, death, and hell conquered. Oh how do men and women flutter up and down on the weekdays, as the dove on the waters, and can find no rest for their souls, till they come to thee their ark, till thou put forth thy hand and take them in! Oh how do they sit under thy shadow with great delight, and find thy fruits sweet to their taste! Oh the mountings of mind, the ravishing happiness of heart, the solace of soul which on thee they enjoy in the blessed Saviour! They are sorry when the days shorten for thy sake, they wish for thee before thou comest, they welcome thee when thou art come, and they enjoy so much of heaven in thee, that thence they love and look, and long the more for their eternal Sabbath. "Go forth, O thou fairest among women, and be thou fruitful in bringing forth children to thy maker and husband. Be thou the mother of thousands and of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of them that hate them," Gen 24:60. Do thou, like Rachel and Leah, build up the house of Israel; do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be thou famous in Bethlehem. Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O thou mighty and gracious day, and in thy majesty ride prosperously; because of meekness, righteousness, and truth, let thy right hand teach thee terrible things; let thine arrows be sharp in the hearts of spiritual enemies, whereby the people may fall under thee. The Lord hath chosen thee, he hath desired thee for his habitation, Ps 132. Thou art his rest for ever; in thee he will dwell, for he hath desired it.

Let him abundantly bless thy provision, and satisfy thy poor with bread; let him clothe thy priests with salvation, and let thy saints shout aloud for joy; let thine enemies be clothed with shame, but upon thy head let the crown flourish. Let nations bow down to thee; let kingdoms fall down before thee. Let all the kingdoms of the earth become the kingdoms of thy Lord and of thy Christ; be thou honoured as long as the sun and moon shall endure, even throughout all generations. Thou art like Joseph, a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a wall, whose branches run over the wall. The archers have sorely grieved thee, and shot at thee, endeavouring to weaken thy morality, and hated thee, but thy bow abode in strength by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob, from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel; even by the Lord of Sabbaths who shall help thee, and by the Almighty who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts and of the womb; the blessings of this day have prevailed above the blessings of all other days; let them be continued and increased on the heads of this holy and honourable day, and on the head of that day which is separate from its brethren. Let them be ashamed and confounded that seek after thy hurt, let them be turned back and put to confusion that desire thy ruin; let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee; let them that love thy sanctification say continually, Let the Lord be magnified, who delighteth in the prosperity of his saints, and therefore hath set apart his Sabbath for their soul-good.

Thou, like Jacob, hast got away the blessing from the other days, yea, thy God hath blessed thee, and thou shalt be blessed: "Blessed are they that bless thee, and cursed are they that curse thee." In a word, the Lord be gracious to thee, and delight in thee, and cause the light of his countenance to shine upon thee; let all thine ordinances be clothed with power, and be effectual for the conversion and salvation of millions of souls; let thy name be great from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same. Finally, farewell sweet day, thou cream of time, thou epitome of eternity""thou heaven in a glass, thou firstfruits of a blessed and everlasting harvest: Did I say farewell? A welfare I wish to thee; but oh let me never lose thee, or take my leave of thee, till I come to enjoy thee in a higher form, to see the Sun of righteousness,""who early on thy morning rose and made a day indeed while the natural sun was behind,""face to face, and to know thy maker and master as I am known of him, when I shall be a pillar in the temple of my God, and shall go out no more, but serve him day and night, to whom, for the inestimable dignity and privilege of his own day, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen, amen.

From The Works of George Swinnock, "The Christian Man's Calling," Vol. 1, Chap. 22, pp. 258-260
This was posted elsewhere by Andrew Myers, Warrenton, VA USA

Removing the horse leach of covetousness

We concluded a previous post on the disease of consumerism, by acknowledging that we get nowhere until we realise that consumerism is a sin, the sin of covetousness.
"The horseleach hath two daughters, crying, Give, give." Proverbs 30:15. None of us think that we are covetous or the victims of consumerism but if we searched our life, hearts and habits honestly - our time and our thoughts we would know otherwise.

The puritan Richard Capel makes this point. 'We must be convinced that covetousness, I mean that our covetousness, is a vice; for it holds something of a virtue, of frugality, which is not to waste that which one hath; and this makes us entertain thoughts that it is no vice; and we often say that it is good to be a little worldly; a little covetousness we like well; which shows that we do not indeed and in heart, hold it to be a sin. For if sin be naught, a little of sin cannot be good. As good say, a little poison were good, so it be not too much.' This is how destructive covetousness and consumerism is.

We must describe it as it is, and as Scripture describes it, idolatry. ‘Little do they think that worldliness is a most guiltful sin in respect of God, and most hurtful in respect of men. Hark what the Word of God saith of it, Eph 5:5, - it is idolatry, and idolatry is the first sin of the first table.’ (Richard Capel)

'Covetousness is called idolatry, which is worse than infidelity, Colossians 3:5; for it is less rebellion not to honour the king than to set up another king against him.' (Henry Smith).

The only way to deal with the destructive influence of covetousness is not to contain it but to remove it altogether. It must be destroyed itself. We are to mortify covetousness. The horse-leach must be removed or it will drain our spiritual life and endanger our eternal life.

Capel points to Psalm 119:36 "Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness": he saith not, this or that testimony, but (as including all the laws of God) he saith "testimonies"; to show us covetousness draws us away, not from some only, but from all God's commandments. So St. Paul: where covetousness is, there are "many lusts," 1 Timothy 6:9, and "many sorrows," 1 Timothy 6:10. "It drowns men in perdition and destruction," 1 Timothy 6:9. And the Greek word signifies such a drowning as is almost past all hope and recovery. It is the bane all society: men cry out of it, because they would have none covetous, rich but themselves...Such believe not the word, they trust neither nor man. For he that trusts not God, cannot trust man. It robs God that confidence we should have in him, and dependence we owe unto him it turns a man from all the commandments. Hence the prophet prays God to turn his heart to his commandments, "and not to covetousness." For not only we ought not, but as the phrase is, "we cannot serve God mammon," Luke 16:13.'

One of the puritans that wrote most extensively concerning covetousness was William Gouge He has five remedies for preventing or redressing covetousness.

1. The judgment must rightly be informed in these two points-

(1.) In the nature of true happiness.
(2.) In the vanity and deceitfulness of riches.

Many learned men lack this point of understanding.

It is the blindness of a man's mind that maketh him place a kind of happiness in the things of this world, whereby he is brought even to coat upon them. If therefore we shall be rightly instructed that happiness consisteth in matters of another kind than this world affords, and that the things of this world are so vain as they can afford no solid comfort to a man, especially in spiritual distress, and so uncertain as they may suddenly be taken away from men, or men from them, surely their immoderate desire of riches could not be but much allayed. He that said, 'There be many that say, Who will shew us any good O Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us,' Ps. 4:6, well discerned the difference betwixt earthly and heavenly blessings. So did he who said, 'Riches profit not in the day of wrath; but righteousness delivereth from death,' Prov. 11:4.

2. The will and heart of man must follow the judgment well informed, and raise themselves up to that sphere where true happiness resteth. 'Set 'our affection on things above, not on things on the earth,' Col. 3:2. This will keep the heart from coating on things below; for 'where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,' Mat. 6:21. A beast which is feeding in fair and fresh pasture will not stray into a bare and barren heath; much less will an understanding man, that finds the sweetness of spiritual and heavenly blessings, feed upon earthly trash. This made Paul account all outward things but dung, because his heart had tasted of the sweetness of Christ, Phil. 3:8ff.

3. A man's confidence must be placed on God and his providence. God's providence is an overflowing and ever-flowing fountain. The richest treasures of men may be exhausted; God's cannot be. Be therefore fully resolved of this, that 'God will provide,' Gen. 22:8. This casting of our care on God's providence is much pressed in Scripture, as Ps. 55:22, 1 Pet. 5:7, Mat. 6:25, 26, &c. By experience we see how children depend on their parents' providence. Should not we much more on our heavenly Father? This resting upon God's providence is the more to be pressed in this case, because nothing makes men more to misplace their confidence than riches. 'The rich man's wealth is his strong city,' Prov. 10:15.

4. Our appetite or desire of riches must be moderate. Herein be of his mind who thus prayed, 'Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me,' Prov. 30:8. This is the main scope of the fourth petition, Matt. 6:11. Be content, therefore, with that portion which God gives thee, and be persuaded it is best for thee. This lesson had Paul well learned, Phil. iv. 11. Contentedness and covetousness are directly opposite, as light and darkness. The apostle here in this text opposeth them.

5. We must pray against covetousness, as he who said, 'Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness,' Ps. 119:36. We ought the rather to pray to God against it, because it is a hereditary disease, and in that respect the more hardly cured. It was one of Christ's greatest miracles to cure one that was born blind, John 9:32.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Why are the words of Jesus in red?

The red letter edition of the Bible was invented by Louis Klopsch in 1899, and first published in 1900. Klopsch first thought of printing the words of Jesus in red when he read the Luke 22:20 which speaks of the cup as the new testament in Christ's blood. It included the words of Jesus quoted by others but not the words of Christ in the Old Testament. It was extremely popular, an initial edition of 60,000 "Red Letter Testaments" soon sold out. Prominent individuals gave their blessing to it such as the King of Sweden and President Theodore Roosevelt. For some people there is such a sacredness about this presentation that a Bible without the words of Christ in red is almost unthinkable. It is thought that around half of all Bibles printed are red-letter editions.

"Modern Christianity," Klopsch wrote in an explanatory note in his red-letter Bible, "is striving zealously to draw nearer to the great Founder of the Faith. Setting aside mere human doctrines and theories regarding Him, it presses close to the Divine Presence, to gather from His own lips the definition of His mission to the world and His own revelation of the Father… The Red Letter Bible has been prepared and issued in the full conviction that it will meet the needs of the student, the worker, and the searchers after truth everywhere."

Some large-print Bibles omit red letters, however, because the visually-impaired have difficulty with it. Another difficulty with this is that the various red-letter Bibles do not agree 100% on which words should be attributed to Jesus and which should not. Notoriously some red letter editions have Acts 18:9,10 in black while others have it in red. This albeit that the first edition was entitled: "The New Testament… With All the Words Recorded Therein, as Having Been Spoken by Our Lord, Printed in Color". He tried unsuccessfully to copyright it in England as well as the USA.

In the first red-letter Bible, the words "universally accepted as the utterances of our Lord and Saviour" were printed in red. Old Testament passages that Jesus quoted or that were directly related to incidents to which he referred (with the relevant cross reference) were likewise printed in red. Old Testament verses containing prophetic references to Christ were identified with red stars. More recent editions have sometimes avoided the Old Testament because of the difficulties, should verses in the Song of Solomon be in red for instance? This is a problem of interpretation which can, ironically, undermine the proper Christ-centred interpretation of the Scriptures.

Klopsch meant it to emphasise the authority of the Scriptures: "The plan also possesses the advantage of showing how frequently and how extensively, on the Authority of Christ himself, the authenticity of the Old Testament is confirmed, thus greatly facilitating comparison and verification, and enabling the student to trace the connection between the Old and the New, link by link, passage by passage".

There is a difficulty, however, because it seems to elevate certain words above the rest. It seems to imply that they are more holy than what is printed in ordinary black ink. The whole of the Scriptures, especially in fact the Psalms, are the word of Christ. all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable... ." (2 Timothy 3:16)

The Jesus Seminar used a similar colored notation for their publication. They used historical criticism to come to a conclusion as to which statements in the Gospels were spoken by Jesus (notated in red), or inserted by later Biblical writers or editors (notated in black). This Higher Critical bible made use of the notion that we can differentiate the words of Christ and this way of printing the bible to undermine the authority and infallibility of Scripture.

The idea was to produce an edition of the gospels in which only the words that Jesus "really" said would be in red. On the basis of the voting of the committee the words were to be printed either red (Jesus said it) or black (Jesus didn't say it). Eventually, a four-color scheme was developed matched to the voting record.

Red: Jesus undoubtedly said this or something very like it.
Pink: Jesus probably said something like this.
Gray: Jesus did not say this, but the ideas contained in it are close to his own.
Black: Jesus did not say this; it represents the perspective or content of a later or different tradition.

They even brought in the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas and printed some of its sayings in red.

Now we also have the problem of liberal evangelicals calling themselves Red-Letter Christians. They do this in order to discount the normal evangelical politics that opposes abortion, homosexuality etc. They are left wing in their politics and liberal in their convictions. They are reinterpreting Scripture in a liberal way.

Although well-meaning, this way of printing the Bible has created many problems and should be avoided. Thankfully the Trinitarian Bible Society have and continue to avoid it as a practice.

The disease of consumerism

A recent book argues that consumerism is making us ill.

"The citizens of selfish capitalist countries are twice as likely to suffer from a mental illness as the citizens of countries in mainland western Europe, which practise 'unselfish capitalism'," argues Clinical psychologist Oliver James in his book The Selfish Capitalist: Origins of Affluenza.

He says that while the average English-speaking person's real wage has broadly remained the same since the 1970s, he or she is now constantly bombarded with messages to buy, buy, buy.

"The media, advertising, reality TV shows and so on, they give people unrealistic aspirations that they simply cannot meet with their wages and living standards. As a result, people get sucked into competitiveness and workaholism.

"We end up tirelessly striving for material wealth and valuing it over family and friendships. This really heaps pressure on people, damaging their health."

According to a BBC article, "Simon Wessely, professor of epidemiological and liaison psychiatry at King's College, London, believes that cultural factors, not capitalism itself, have created a situation where more people define themselves as mentally ill."

"It is true that rates of self-reported symptoms are on the rise," says Wessely, but that has to be seen in a context where "more human experiences" are seen as illnesses nowadays.

"In my trade, for example, states of sadness are now seen as 'depression', shyness has become 'social phobia', and all sorts of variations in childhood temperament, personality, emotions and behaviour have become characterised as diseases that need treatment, be it Asperger's autism or ADHD."

Daniel Ben-Ami, author of Cowardly Capitalism: The Myth of the Global Financial Casino says that "Today it's widely assumed that the solution to inequality is restraining growth and consumption, in order to protect people from ill-health. In the past, tackling inequality would have meant calling for more growth and increased consumption for the mass of society."

The BBC article says that "some experts believe 10% of Britons, and possibly 20% of British women, are manic, compulsive shoppers whose condition can lead to family break-ups, depression and in some instances suicide." When you think that the average British person is £8,000 in debt, discounting mortgages we ought to be concerned.

Another book, Affluenza: The all-consuming epidemic by John De Graaf, David Wann and Thomas H Naylor takes a similar view. It defines Affluenza as "a painful, contagious, socially-transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more." It is destroying individuals, families and communities with waste, massive debt, constant dissatisfaction and work obsession. The buy, buy, buy messages stir up the want, want, want desires in all of our hearts.

We get nowhere until we realise that Affluenza is a sin, the sin of covetousness, and it shows what all sin is, a destructive disease that aims at maximum destruction.
"The horseleach hath two daughters, crying, Give, give." Proverbs 30:15. None of us think that we are covetous or the victims of consumerism but if we searched our life, hearts and habits honestly - our time and our thoughts we would know otherwise.
We need to be seeking our treasure in heaven and to be rich towards God in faith.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Audio Sermons

The internet has allowed wider and easier distrubution of recorded sermons. There are some excellent audio sermons available on the internet. There is a wide range available from including rare sermons from FP ministers from the past and also Youth Conference papers. The same site has links to Prof. John Murray's lectures on mp3. There are also a large quantity of sermons available at
The Trinitarian Bible Society has a number of good lectures on important issues at
The Inverness branch of the Scottish Reformation Society has its lectures available as does the Stornoway and Aberdeen branches.
Perhaps the first one to listen to ought to a narrated version of Thomas Boston's sermon on Luke 8:18 "Take Heed Therefore How Ye Hear"
The points are:
1. Some things that go before hearing. 
2. Some Things that go with hearing.
3. Some Things that Follow after hearing the word.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Moderating temporal joys

Christopher Love has some helpful advice on this published at

Consider that religion does not extirpate or annihilate worldly rejoicing, but only regulates it. It is not like a weeding hook to pluck up your joy by the roots, but like a pruning hook to lop off the luxuriancy of it, and to keep your joy in its due decorum.

Beloved, religion does not annihilate, but regulates your joys; nay, being religious rather increases than in any way diminishes your joys.

Take this conclusion: the worldly joy of a godly man is oftentimes mingled with more inward gripes and grief of spirit than the worldly joy of a wicked man is. As in, "Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful" (Proverbs 14:13). In 2 Corinthians, the apostle there speaks of some who gloried in appearance, but not in heart (2 Corinthians 5:12). The joy of the wicked is but in appearance, not in reality. When they are in their greatest jollity and mirth, even then they have some inward gripes and anguish of conscience that galls and troubles them. A wicked man's joy is like a godly man's sorrow. The former's joy is but in appearance, not in truth. A godly man has something like sorrow, but it is not so indeed; they are but "as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing" (2 Corinthians 6:10). "The blessing of the Lord maketh rich, and He addeth no sorrow with it" (Proverbs 10:22).

A smaller matter will interrupt the worldly joy of a wicked man than will interrupt the joy of a godly man, I mean, that outward worldly joy that he has here in this world, Ahab, though he had a whole kingdom, yet could take no contentment in it for want of Naboth's vineyard. A little thing diverts the joy of a wicked man, and therefore their joy is compared to the crackling of thorns under the pot (Ecclesiastes 7:6). They make a noise and blaze for a little while, but are soon put out. Belshazzar, when he was quaffing in his golden bowls, and in the midst of all his jollity, yet a hand writing upon the wall quickly dashed all his joys and made him hang down his head (Daniel 5).