Monday, April 28, 2008

They shall come with Songs unto Zion

'The ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come with songs unto Zion' (Isa. 35:10),

The truth of this is well illustrated by the experience of the Covenanting martyrs who had the songs of Zion in their mouth as they approached the heavenly Zion.

Donald Cargill, While in prison he wrote a letter to James Skene, ..." The God of mercies," he writes, " grant you a full gale and a fair entry into His kingdom, which may carry sweetly and swiftly over the bar, that you find not the rub of death." He was executed at the Cross of Edinburgh, July 27th, 1681. On the scaffold he sang his favourite psalm. Psalm cxviii., from the 16th verse to the end; and his last words were, " Welcome Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! Into Thy hands I commend my spirit."

Baillie of Jerviswood, condemned to death on December 34th, 1684, was hanged the same afternoon at the market cross of Edinburgh, with all the attendant barbarities of an execution for high treason. Yet even in his last hours, oppressed by mortal sickness, hourly expecting his sentence, he felt, as he told his son, that God's promises were sure, and that the "testimony of David" would, in his case also, be verified. " I have been young, and now am old, and yet saw I never the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging their bread" (Ps. xxxvii., verse 25).

Renwick. On February 17th, 1688, he was executed at the Grassmarket in Edinburgh. More than once his words were drowned by drums. But he sang a part of Psalm ciii., the psalm which was always chanted by " the Saints " at the celebration of the Sacrament; and, as he was turned over the ladder, his last words were "Lord, into Thy hands I commend my spirit; for Thou hast redeemed me, 0 Lord, Thou God of truth" (Ps. xxxi., verse 6). The same text, in whole or in part, was quoted by more than half of the great army of " witnesses " who suffered on the scaffold, between Hugh M'Kail in 1666 and James Renwick in 1688.

On January 1st, 1685, for example, Daniel McMichael was led out into the fields to be shot, and died singing part of Psalm xlii. In the following February, Alexander McRobin was hanged upon an oak tree near the Kirk of Irongray. At the tree-foot, a friend asked him if he had any word to send to his wife. "I leave her and the two babes upon the Lord," answered McRobin, " and to His promise; a father to the fatherless, and a husband to the widow, is the Lord in His holy habitation" (Ps. Ixviii., verse 5). And so he died, as Wodrow records, " in much composure and cheerfulness." In the parish of Ingliston was a cave, which had been a place of safety to not a few of the Covenanters. On April agth, 1685, guided by a traitor, the soldiers were brought to the mouth of the cave, where they seized five of the wanderers who had found refuge in its shelter. John Gibson, who alone was permitted to pray before he was shot, sang part of Psalm xvii., telling his mother and sister that it was the joyfullest day of his life. The rest were shot, "without being allowed to pray separately."

In January 1681, two "honest, worthy lasses," as Peden calls them, Isabel Alison and Marion Harvie, were hanged at Edinburgh. On the scaffold they sang together, to the tune of "Martyrs," Psalm Ixxxiv. " Marion," said Bishop Paterson, " you would never hear a curate; now you shall hear one," and he called upon one of his clergy to pray. " Come, Isabel," was the girl's answer- she was but twenty years of age—" let us sing the 23rd Psalm," and thus they drowned the voice of the curate.

The Two Margarets of Wigtown were also cruelly put to death. Of the younger it is said that as she was almost drowning she sang the 25th Psalm:

"My sins and faults of youth Do Thou, O Lord, forget;
After Thy mercies, think on me, And for Thy goodness great ";

and so continued singing till her voice was choked in the rising tide.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The One whom my soul loveth

This phrase is frequently in the mouth of the Church in the Song of Solomon. The best commentary on this book is Christian experience itself. Even if our own experience comes short of it, the experience of others help us to get a glimpse of the soul-experience that is described in the book.

This is true of the experience of Cotton Mather, the New England Puritan. Although his influence upon society is misrepresented and criticised it is clear that he was an eminently godly and spiritual man. His biographer writes: 'It might be said of Dr. Mather, with peculiar propriety, that "he was in the fear of the Lord all the day long," for he was almost continually conversing with God in his thoughts; and there was hardly a single occurrence that he met with in life, but he improved it to awaken in his mind some pious thoughts, and...prayers....His diligence in laying hold of all opportunities, and improving all proper means to maintain and cherish the life of faith in his soul, appears in the following extracts from his papers: —

The thoughts of Christ, are become exceeding frequent with me; I meditate on his glorious person, as the eternal Son of God incarnate; and I behold the infinite God as coming to me, and meeting with me in this blessed Mediator. I fly to Him on multitudes of occasions every day, and am impatient if many minutes have passed without some recourse to him. Every now and then, I rebuke myself for having been so long without any thoughts of my lovely Saviour. How can I bear to keep at such a distance from him! I then look up to him, and say, O my dear Saviour, draw near unto me! O come to dwell in my soul, and help me to form some thoughts wherein I shall enjoy thee. Upon this I set myself to think of his glories, his merits, his pattern, his maxims, what he has done, and what he will do for us. I find the subject infinitely inexhaustible. And after I have been thus employed in the day, I fall asleep at night in the midst of some meditation on the glory of my Saviour; so I fall asleep in Jesus, and when I awake in the night, I do on my bed seek him whom my soul loveth. The desires of my soul still carry me to him who was last in my thoughts when I fell asleep. I find that where Christ comes, a wondrous light, life, and peace comes with him, together with strength to go through services and sufferings.

The holiness and happiness to which I am introduced by this way of living, is better to me than all the enjoyments of this world. All the riches of this world appear contemptible things to me, while I have the unsearchable riches of Christ thus brought into my possession; and all the glory of the world would not tempt me to forego them. Now, O my dear Jesus, I know I have an inward witness, that, thou art the Son of God, and the Saviour of the world.

The blessedness of the heavenly world lies in our being with Christ; and by being with the Lord, in beholding his glory, by believing and affecting thoughts of him, I have enjoyed a sort of heaven upon earth. The light and peace, the joy, strength, and purity with which this fills my mind, is an earnest and foretaste of heaven.

As for the delights of this world, such of them as are most helpful to me in seeing and serving God, are those which I w"buld have the greatest value for. But I know of no delights comparable to those which I take in communion with my Saviour.

As for the riches of this world, I use no labour for them, I have no desire to obtain them, they appear to me as contemptible things; my nches are my opportunities to do good, and those illuminations of my mind which furnish me for it. In my Saviour I have unsearchable riches, and in my fruition of him I have a full supply of all my wants. As for the honours of this world, my abhorrence of having the great God robbed on my account, by people's honouring me without their being led through me to him, renders the praises of men distasteful to me; I do nothing to gain honours for myself, and whatever honours are conferred upon me by men, shall be improved for the interest of God. To be accepted of my Saviour, to have his image imprinted on me, and to be employed in his work, for the advancement of his kingdom, are all the honours that I wish for.

When I am exercised with any affliction, I repair to my Jesus. I realize to myself not only his hand, but also his love in sending the trouble. I see my Saviour as once encountering the same trouble, and I am heartily pleased at my conformity to him. I consider what is that good which this trouble deprives me of, and I see the same good, and what is infinitely better, laid up in my Saviour; and I am satisfied. I find the thoughts of my Saviour for ever sweetening the bitter waters of Marah to me; I find him the Comforter that always relieves my soul, when I have him near unto me. How many, O Lord, are my thoughts of theel the occasions on which, and the means by which I cherish such thoughts, cannot be reckoned up in order.

When I see any thing excellent in any man, it leads my thoughts to the superior excellences of Christ my Saviour; and when I behold the miseries of any of my fellow-creatures, I think on the miseries from which I am delivered by my Saviour; and on my obligations to my kind deliverer. I dare not let my mind be idle, as I walk in the streets; I rebuke myself, and I make my moan to heaven, if I have gone many steps without one thought of my Saviour; and when I have been at a loss for fresh thoughts of him, I have compelled the very signs and the shops in the street, to suggest new matter for meditation. I have done expecting any good things from this world; or if such expectations do at any time arise in my mind, I check them with this thought: — What is the good, O my soul, of that which thou expectest of all this good thou hast already in thy Saviour.

In conversing with my Saviour, I go through many portions of Scripture which testify of him, especially in the book of Psalms, taking a verse or more, or sometimes but a part of a verse at a time for the subject of my meditation, when every night I fall asleep in Jesus. The psalms are full of prayers, many of which are so suited to my own condition, that I cannot express it better before the Lord than in those very words which his Spirit teacheth. Several of those petitions were the prayers of Christ; and when I offer them up for myself, it is a vast encouragement and comfort to me to think, that therein I maintain a sweet fellowship with my Saviour, and that this very prayer was once presented by my Saviour unto his eternal Father: my Saviour once prayed at this rate, and found acceptance. I pray but as my Saviour taught me, and as he did before me: certainly such a prayer will be grateful unto God.

Finally, I am solicitous, that while I contemplate the glorious transactions of my Saviour in his work of redemption, I may feel the power of those things upon my own heart; which is a token for good that he has been concerned for me in all those several transactions. For instance, I see God uniting himself to man in the person of my Saviour; I feel the power of it in my returning to God, and in the union of my heart to him. I see my Saviour leading a hidden life, and passing through obscure circumstances while he sojourned amongst us; I feel the power of it, in my being willing to have my walk with God carried on with all possible privacy, and concealed as much as may be from the view of men. I see my Saviour dying on the cross for my sins; I feel the power of it in the death of my sinful dispositions, in my dying unto creatures, and in the world's being crucified to me, or my affections being weaned from it. "I see my Saviour in his resurrection triumphing over the powers of darkness, and entering upon a new life, which he lives for evermore; I feel the power of it, in my rising out of a state of spiritual death and darkness, and walking in newness of life, as being quickened with an everlasting principle of piety, to which I was once a stranger.

The Life of the Late Reverend and Learned Dr. Cotton Mather, Of Boston, (New England) by Samuel Mather (originally published 1729)

Another precious portion written by Mather is found at

Cotton Mather wrote and published more than 400 works. More information is available at

Monday, April 21, 2008


Rev. Jonathan Edwards

The addition of happiness and glory made to the saints at the resurrection, it seems to me evident by the current of the Bible when it tells of those things, will be exceeding great. It is the marriage of the Lamb and the church; the state of things then is the state of perfection; all the state of the church before, both in earth and in heaven, is a growing state. Indeed, the spirits of just men made perfect will be perfectly free from sin and sorrow: will have inexpressible, inconceivable happiness and perfect contentment. But yet part of their happiness will consist in hope of what is to come. They will have as much happiness as they will desire in their existing state, because they will choose to have the addition at that time, and in that order, which God has designed; it will be every way most pleasing, and satisfying, and contenting to them that it should be so. Their having of perfect happiness does not exclude all increase, nor does it exclude all hope, for we do not know but they will increase in happiness for ever. The souls of the saints may now have as much happiness as they, while separate, desire; and such happiness as so answers their nature in its present state, as to exclude all sort of uneasiness and disquietude; and yet part of that happiness, part of that sweet rest and contenting joy, consists in the sight of what is future. They do not desire that that addition should be now, they know that it shall be most beautiful, most for God's glory, most for their own happiness, and most for the glory of the church, and every way most desirable, that it should be in God's order.

But the more properly perfect and consummate state of God's people of the church will be after the resurrection; and the whole is only now growing and preparing for that state: all things that are now in the world are but preparations for it.
The accession of happiness will consist partly in these things:
1.Then the saints will be in their natural state of union with bodies, glorious bodies, bodies perfectly fitted for the uses of a holy, glorified soul.
2.Then the body of Christ will be perfect, the church will be complete; all the parts of it in being; no part of it under sin or affliction; all the parts of it in a perfect state; all the parts of it together no longer mixed with ungodly men; then the church will be as a bride adorned for her husband, therefore the church will exceedingly rejoice.
3.Then the Mediator will fully have accomplished his work; will have destroyed, and will triumph over all his enemies. Then Christ will fully have obtained his reward; then shall he have perfected the full design that was upon his heart from all eternity, and then Jesus Christ will rejoice, and his members must needs with him.

1.Then God will have obtained the end of all his great works that he had been doing from the beginning; then all the deep designs of God will be unfolded in their events; then the wisdom of his marvellous contrivances in his hidden, intricate and inexplicable works will appear, the ends being obtained; then God's glory will more abundantly appear in his works, his works being perfect; this will cause a great accession of happiness to the saints who behold it; then God will fully have glorified himself, and glorified his Son, and his elect; then he will see that all is very good, and will rejoice in his own works, which will be the joy of all heaven. God will rest and be refreshed; and thenceforward will the inhabitants keep an eternal sabbath, such an one as all foregoing sabbaths were but shadows of.

2.Then God will make more abundant manifestations of his glory, and of the glory of his Son, and will pour forth more plentifully of his Spirit, and will make answerable additions to the glory of the saints, such as will be becoming the commencement of the ultimate and most perfect state of things, and as will become such a joyful occasion as the finishing of all things and the marriage of the Lamb. Then also the glory of the angels will receive proportional additions; for the evil angels are then to have the consummation of their reward. So that the good angels will have the consummation of their reward. This will be the day of Christ's triumph, and the day will last for ever. This will be the wedding day between Christ and the church, and this wedding day will last foe ever; the feast, and pomp, and entertainments, and holy mirth, and joys of the wedding will be continued to all eternity.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Inclusive Bible: the logical conclusion of dynamic equivalence

The Inclusive Bible called the first egalitarian translation takes dynamic equivalence to its logical conclusion. It not only erases gender-specific language but everything else that anybody might find offensive. In other words it contextualises Scripture fully within the culture of modern western society. The author ("translator") describes it:
"It is a completely new translation of the Bible from the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and koiné Greek into richly poetic, non-sexist, and non-classist modern English."

According to reports in the version, God is no longer "Father" but "Father-Mother." The "Son of Man" is rendered "the human one." God's "Right Hand" is recast as God's "mighty hand." The word "night" is used to describe evil rather than "darkness" lest folk with dark skin should be offended. Children are called upon to "heed" their parents but not "obey" them. The Inclusive Bible, uses feminine pronouns in reference to the Spirit. "When the Spirit of truth comes, she will guide you into all truth. She won't speak on her own initiative; rather she'll speak only what she hears, and she'lll announce to you things that are yet to come."

Colossians 3:18-19 reads "You who are in committed relationships, be submissive to each other. This is your duty in Christ Jesus. Partners joined by God, love each other. Avoid any bitterness between you."

It is homosexual-friendly but not marriage-friendly

"Kingdom" is apparently both sexist and authoritarian, so it is replaced by the newly coined word, "kindom." Adam is not a "man," he is an "earth creature."

It is published by a group called Priests for Equality which the author describes as "a Catholic organization working for the full inclusion of women at all levels of the church. They're a project of the Quixote Center, though PFE's leader has retired and his second-in-command has moved on, so they're not sure the project will continue much further."
The author describes the background to the Inclusive Bible:
"Back in the 1980s, PFE started the Inclusive Language Project, resetting the church lectionary readings in non-sexist language because they felt that God-language was one of the biggest barriers to women (and at the time, it was certainly a major step). And since I had already worked on an inclusive lectionary for the Episcopalians, they were glad to have me on board. This grew into wanting to do a full translation of the Bible."

The author describes himself as 'spiritually, an explorer of the edges of consciousness, from Taoism and Zen Buddhism to existential Christianity and Jewish mysticism to everything in between—including Native American medicine practices and various forms of aboriginal shamanism'. He says that the extensive footnotes are especially liberal. 'The commentary, in particular, honors many different religious traditions and perspectives, and owes a great debt to Jungian psychology as well'.

Sr. Nancy Sylvester of the Immaculate Heart of Mary lauds it enthusiastically in the National Catholic Reporter
'This translation frees the text so that you can listen to the Spirit within.'

As Gene Veith points out 'Good as New: A Radical Retelling of the Scriptures' goes further in taking dynamic equivalence to its logical conclusion. It describes itself as "women, gay and sinner friendly." Good as New leaves out the Pastoral Epistles and Revelation, including instead the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas.

For a different post that reflects upon 'Good as New' as the culmination of Bible version projects in the 20th century go to

It should be evident why these versions represent dynamic equivalence taken to its logical conclusion when we consider the statements of Eugene Nida father of this theory of translation.

"...God’s revelation involved limitations. ... Biblical revelation is not absolute and all divine revelation is essentially incarnational. ... Even if a truth is given only in words, it has no real validity until it has been translated into life. ... The words are in a sense nothing in and of themselves. ... the word is void unless related to experience" (Nida, Message and Mission, pp. 222-228).
"Because it is a medium of communication within a limited cultural context, human language is unsuited as a vehicle for supernatural, eternal truths that would, in fact, need a language that is unhuman or divine" (Nida, Message and Mission, pp. 224-228, cited by Van Bruggen, p. 76).

Nida writes, "Similarly, in the biblical account, the holy kiss, the wearing of veils, women speaking in the church, and wrestling with an angel all have different meanings than in our own culture" (E. Nida, Message and Missions, p. 41). According to Nida, Jacob’s struggle with the angel is being interpreted psychoanalytically or mythologically (E. Nida, Message and Mission, pp. 41-42). If wrestling with an angel is cultural then what could not come under this category? Nida makes this definition:
"The only absolute in Christianity is the triune God. Anything which involves man, who is finite and limited, must of necessity be limited, and hence relative. Biblical culture relativism is an obligatory feature of our incarnational religion, for without it we would either absolutize human institutions or relativize God" (Eugene Nida, Customs and Cultures, New York: Harper & Row, 1954, p. 282, footnote 22). Yet isn't God being relativised when translators use a name that a tribe or language already has for a heathen deity? This is just the same as what "The Inclusive Bible" does when it too renames God. It has simply reached a further stage on the dynamic equivalence/blasphemy continuum.

Hatred of Sin: a mark of grace

1. His wrongs done to Christ will prick him most. If the wrongs be done by others, they affect him; if by himself, they some way faint him. Wholeness of heart, under wronging of Christ, is too great an evidence that there is little or no ground for application of his satisfaction; but it is kindly like, when wrongs done to Christ affect most.
2. When not only challenges for sin against the law, but for sins against Christ and grace offered in the gospel, do become a burden, and the greatest burden.
3. When the man is made to mind secret enmity at Christ, and is disposed to muster up aggravations of his sinfulness on that account, and cannot get himself made vile enough; when he has a holy indignation at himself, and with Paul counts himself the chief of sinners; even though the evil was done in ignorance, much more if it has been against knowledge. It is no evil token when souls are made to heap up aggravations of their guilt for wrongs done to Christ, and when they cannot get suitable expressions sufficiently to hold it out, as it is an evil token to be soon satisfied in this. There are many that will take with [admit to] no challenge for their wronging Christ; but behold here how the prophet insists, both in the words before, in these, and in the following words; and he can no more win off the thoughts of it, than he can win off the thoughts of Christ’s sufferings.

Rev. James Durham

Extracted from Christ Crucified: The Marrow of the Gospel in Seventy-Two Sermons on the Fifty- Third Chapter of Isaiah

Friday, April 11, 2008

The conversion of John Stevenson of Carrick

Both doctrine and application had great weight with me, and made me go away longing to be reconciled to God, and resolved never to be easy till it were so. After this, in the same year, 1678, and 12th of August, I heard Mr John Welsh on Craigdowhill, who preached on the above- named text, 2 Cor. v. 20, and insisted chiefly on this, "We beseech you, be ye reconciled to God." In speaking to which words, the Lord helped his servant, not only to show what it was to be reconciled to God, but also earnestly to press reconciliation, and to make a free, full, and pressing offer of glorious Christ as Mediator and day's-man, and the great peace-maker, who would make up the breach, and bring about this much needed reconciliation. I, being fully convinced how greatly I needed this reconciliation and day's- man, who is the only way to the Father, I with all my heart and soul did cordially and cheerfully make the offer welcome, and with out known guile, did accept of and receive glorious Christ on his own terms in all his offices as Mediator, and did give myself away to the Lord in a personal and perpetual covenant never to be forgotten, accepting of God for my Lord, and my God, and my guide to the death, and great reward after it; resolving, though strange lords had dominion over me, yet henceforth I would be called by His name, whom I now avouched for my only God and Lord; upon which I took the heavens, earth, and sun in the firmament that was shining on us, as also the ambassador who made the offer, and clerk who raised the Psalms, I say, I took all these to witness in the great judgment-day, that I had uprightly and cheerfully entered into this everlasting marriage covenant, resolved through grace to be stedfast in his covenant till death.

After which, my soul was filled with joy and peace in believing; it was a joy unspeakable and glorious, having now got good hope through grace, that though he was angry, yet now his anger was turned away, and he was now become my salvation. I rejoiced in the thoughts of my new relation to God the Saviour, and felt the ravishing sweetness of a reconciled state, and went away firmly resolving that I would walk all my days in the bitterness of my soul, and never be vainly lifted up, but would fear the Lord and his goodness, who had so far condescended to stoop so low as to pardon a rebel, and be reconciled and pacified to me after all I had done, and all my bones at this very time shall and do cry out, "Who is a God like unto thee, a God keeping covenant, and whose faithfulness and mercy endure to all generations ?" Though after this sensible and sweet covenanting with God on the hill of Craigdow, I always studied to improve this covenant relation with God, according to my various cases, tentations, necessities, and distresses, yet the most memorable time of my renewing this covenant was at Craigdarroch in Nithsdale.

In the year 1686, where in secret prayer the Lord determined to renew that covenant I had entered into with him on Craigdowhill, and wonderfully condescended to bring me as it were nigh to his seat, and filled my mouth with arguments, and allowed me to plead with him as a man does with a reconciled friend; there was I helped with great enlargement to renew and adhere to the everlasting covenant, and there the kind God manifested himself to me otherwise than to the world, and I may say that truly my fellowship was with the Father, and with his dear Son Jesus, in as sensible a way and eminent degree as ever I met with before or since, though many times he has been even since kind to my soul."

From "Select Biographies" by Rev. W.K.Tweedie

Thursday, April 10, 2008

the 12 most important things to learn

It would be a good practice to meditate on one of these 12 lessons during each month of the year.
A course of twelve lessons, which I have begun to learn, and should not cease to remember.
Rev. John Kennedy, Dingwall

1. That I was once "without God in the world." I did think sometimes then that I had a God; but "the living God" I neither sought nor knew. This I learned when Jehovah, as Lawgiver and Judge, presented and pressed His claims. The God who then addressed me was new to me. At first I thought Him to be a "hard Master," and I rose rebelliously against Him; and even when I was compelled to allow that He was righteous I could not venture to approach Him. When I knew Him as the God of salvation, I recognised Him as the same who spake to me from Sinai; but now I could not refrain from drawing near, assured that He was Jehovah, and in the same measure hoping that he would be gracious (Eph. ii. 10; Matt. xxv. 24; Ps. li. 4, cxxx. 3, 4).
2. That during the years of my ignorance I loved to sleep, because I disliked the care and the work to which the Lord was calling me. When He first awakened me I cried for "a little more sleep." I feared to ask to be allowed to sleep alway, and I thought it hard that He would not give me "a little more." I then asked for "a little more slumber;" but this too was sternly refused. I then requested at the least "a little more folding of the hands to sleep;" but though I twice abated my request, I sued in vain. At last I stretched out my hands, but it was to work and not to Christ I rose from the sluggard's bed to toil for self. But sin revived when I began to work. "The commandment" which aroused me stirred up sin and revived sin proved stronger than awakened me-so it slew me, and I died (Prov. xxiv. 33; Rom. vii. 9).
3. That I was as impotent before the calls of the Gospel as before the claims of the law, and that my faith, as surely as my Saviour, must be of God; that the operation of the Holy Ghost in applying was as necessary to me as the acting of the Father in providing, and the work of the Son in purchasing, redemption (John vi. 44; Eph. ii. 8).
4. That it was both vain and forbidden to search for Christ except in "the word of the truth of the Gospel;" and that there was to me no warrant of faith in Jesus but the testimony of God regarding Him to men as sinners. This I learned after vainly seeking a vision of Christ's glory, and traces of his Spirit's work in my soul, in evidence of His "goodwill" to me (John v. 39).
5. That the Person of Christ as "the Word made flesh" was the only foundation on which I might rest my soul; and that the merit of His precious blood was the only ground; even in Him the Daysman, on which I could present myself to God as a suppliant for mercy. Having strained to the utmost the power of "flesh and blood to acquire a satisfying view of His merit in the light of His personal glory," I was left in wearied weakness, utterly benighted, before the sovereign grace of the Father in heaven; and when at last I reached, and found rest in, Christ, it was because I was called, as was Lazarus, out of the grave. "Come forth," was the effectual call of the Son of God; and from among the dead I came, unconsciously quickened, but consciously lost, to Him who is "all in all" (Matt. xvi. 17, 18; Acts xx. 28; Eph. i. 7).
6. That given grace requires more grace. "More grace" is the cry of the new heart in the quickened soul, as surely as it is the promise of God in the Gospel. I thought I could keep the treasure I got when I found the Messiah; but I soon learned that He must rather keep me. I needed grace to make use of the grace which I had received. I leaned on my first experience, and my dead weight soon smothered all its joy and fervour. Fool as I was, I put Christ's gift instead of Christ Himself; He withheld His giving, and I fainted under a sense of poverty. I required to come back as a beggar again to the storehouse of grace, but I felt I could not come unless the Father drew me. I thought it hard to he compelled yet to beg, but harder still that I could not even do the begging without help from God (James iv. 6; John vi. 45; Isa. xl. 29).
7. That it is possible to sleep, but impossible to be happy, with an idol in the heart. The Lord may allow me to go to the sluggard's bed for a time; but when I am awake His anger against idolatry will cast a scaring shadow on my heart, and my flesh may be furrowed by the rod, till I resolutely cast the accursed thing away (Cant. v. 2; Josh. vii.; Hosea ii. 15).
8. That assurance not weakened by unwatchfulness is not worth the having; and that while true assurance is never enjoyed on the bed of sloth, it yet is never the mere reward of toil; that the wise course, in order to its recovery when it is lost, is to seek reviving grace in order to renewed believing, that fruits may be produced to certify my calling and election; but that, even if these are certified, I am still dependent on the Spirit's grace for my ascertaining them, and for so sealing the fruits which evidence them as to satisfy my conscience (2 Peter i. 5-11).
9. That the poverty which results from sloth hath always pride and unbelief as its companions, brings a most real dearth upon my soul, and is worse than weakness in the work of God; but that the healthiest tone of spirit and the best preparation for work or trial is willing, conscious, and trustful dependence on the grace that is m Christ (Prov. xxiv. 32, 33; 2 Cor. xii. 9, 10).
10. That the more I know the better I like Christ as a Master, and the less I think of myself as a servant; that if I had ceased to serve when I ceased to be satisfied with my performances I would have struck work long ago; and that the tasted bitterness of my iniquity in holy things makes the Master's grace all the sweeter when I come to Him for cleansing and for help.
11. That it is extremely difficult to combine the reverence and the boldness of the child in my state of feeling in drawing nigh to God. If I lose the one I become a presumptuous fool; and if I lose the other I become a cowering slave. The child's way is a narrow one between presumption on the one hand and unbelief on the other; and he can walk in it only as the everlasting arms sustain and draw him (Heb. x. 19-22; xii. 28, 29).
12. That the only death I can venture to die is death deprived of its sting on Calvary, and which is a gate of entrance to Zion-death made harmless by the cross of Christ, and made useful as a messenger to bring me to His presence. I can venture to die when I am assured that, as I part with my body for a season, I shall part with my sin for ever.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Love of Christ

Rev John Maclaurin

Comparisons can give but a very imperfect view of this love which passeth knowledge. Though we should suppose all the love of all the men that ever were, or shall be on the earth, and all the love of the angels in heaven, united in one heart, it would be but a cold heart to that which was pierced with the soldier's spear. The Jews saw but blood and water, but faith can discern a bright ocean of eternal love flowing out of these wounds. We may have some impression of the glory of it, by considering its effects.

We should consider all the spiritual and eternal blessings, received by God's people for four thousand years before Christ was crucified, or that have been received since, or that shall be received till the consummation of all things; all the deliverances from eternal misery; all the oceans of joy in heaven; the rivers of waters of life, to be enjoyed to all eternity, by multitudes as the sands of the sea-shore - we should consider all these blessings as flowing from that love, that was displayed in the cross of Christ.

Maclaurin's writings have been held in very high regard. Dr John Brown called Maclaurin "the most profound and eloquent Scottish theologian of the last [18th]century". His sermon, "Glorying in the Cross of Christ," is reckoned to be one of the best sermons in print. Maclaurin was born iu 1693, and was the eldest son of the minister of the parish of Glendaruel, Argyleshire. Having studied divinity at Glasgow and at Leyden, he was in 1719 ordained minister at Luss on the shores of Loch Lomond. He translated the psalms into Gaelic. In 1723 he became minister of what was then known as the North-west Parish in Glasgow. Maclaurin supported the popular or Evangelical party in the Church of Scotland. He took a close interest in the revivals at Kilsyth and Cambuslang. He was the friend and correspondent of Jonathan Edwards, and on one occasion collected contributions among his friends in Scotland, to assist Edwards in a period of difficulty. He died in 1754.