1 Corinthians 15
The Resurrection of Christ1 Corinthians 15 1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
The Resurrection of the Dead12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.
29 Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? 30 Why are we in danger every hour? 31 I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! 32 What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.
The Resurrection Body35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36 You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 39 For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.
42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
Mystery and Victory50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 16
The Collection for the Saints1 Corinthians 16 1 Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. 3 And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem. 4 If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me.
Plans for Travel5 I will visit you after passing through Macedonia, for I intend to pass through Macedonia, 6 and perhaps I will stay with you or even spend the winter, so that you may help me on my journey, wherever I go. 7 For I do not want to see you now just in passing. I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, 9 for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.
10 When Timothy comes, see that you put him at ease among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord, as I am. 11 So let no one despise him. Help him on his way in peace, that he may return to me, for I am expecting him with the brothers.
Final Instructions12 Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to visit you with the other brothers, but it was not at all his will to come now. He will come when he has opportunity.
13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love.
15 Now I urge you, brothers—you know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints— 16 be subject to such as these, and to every fellow worker and laborer. 17 I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have made up for your absence, 18 for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours. Give recognition to such people.
Greetings19 The churches of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Prisca, together with the church in their house, send you hearty greetings in the Lord. 20 All the brothers send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.
21 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. 22 If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come! 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. 24 My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.
What I'm Reading
Why Shouldn’t We Trust the Non-Canonical “Gospel of Marcion”?
By J. Warner Wallace 12/3/2017
There are a number of ancient, non-canonical texts used by sect leaders or heretical groups in the early history of Christianity. One of these is called The Gospel of Marcion. Is this non-biblical text reliable? Was it written by an eyewitness who accurately captured the actions and statements of Jesus? There are four attributes of reliable eyewitness testimony, and the first requirement is simply that the account be old enough to actually be written by someone who was present to see what he or she reports. The Gospel of Marcion was written too late in history to have been written by anyone who could have actually seen the ministry of Jesus, and like other late non-canonical texts, this errant document was rejected by the Church. In spite of this, The Gospel of Marcion may have contained small nuggets of truth related to Jesus. Although it is a legendary fabrication altered by an author who wanted to craft a version of the Jesus story that suited the purposes of his religious community, it likely reflected many truths about Jesus: James "Jim" Warner Wallace (born June 16, 1961) is an American homicide detective and Christian apologist. Wallace is a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and an Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at Biola University in La Mirada, California. He has authored several books, including Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, in which he applies principles of cold case homicide investigation to apologetic concerns such as the existence of God and the reliability of the Gospels.
The Gospel of Marcion (130-150AD)
The Gospel of Marcion (also known as The Gospel of the Lord) was used by Marcion, the infamous heretic and one-time Bishop of Sinope between the years of 150-160AD. The text is lost to us, but the Early Church Fathers and apologists (such as Tertullian) criticized The Gospel of Marcion extensively in their own writings; we can now reconstruct much of The Gospel of Marcion from the critical writings of the Church Fathers. Marcion’s Gospel (as acknowledged by the vast majority of historical scholars) appears to be a modification of The Gospel of Luke, altered to support Marcion’s theological ideas. It is typically dated in the mid-2nd century.
Why Isn’t It Considered Reliable?
Marcion first traveled to Rome in 142AD and quickly imposed a heretical view of God and Jesus on the New Testament documents; he created a theological system that swiftly gained popularity. In fact, Marcion had a large following that rivaled his orthodox contemporaries, threatening to split the fledgling Christian community. Irenaeus wrote that Polycarp (the disciple of John the Apostle) called Marcion “the first born of Satan” and many other early orthodox leaders labeled Marcion a heretic (including Clement of Alexandria, Hippolytus, Origen, Rhodo, Bardesanes, Dionysus of Corinth, Theophilus of Antioch, Philip of Gortyna and Ephraim of Syria). Tertullian wrote an entire volume condemning Marcion as a heretic (Against Marcion), and Marcion was eventually excommunicated from fellowship with orthodox believers. The Gospel of Marcion is strikingly similar to the Gospel of Luke, but Marcion reported that his Gospel was the uncorrupted work of Paul, who received all of the information from Jesus Himself. Marcion considered Luke’s Gospel to have been corrupted by Jewish believers who saw Jesus as the Messiah predicted in the Old Testament, a notion that Marcion rejected. There was (and is) no evidence that Paul ever penned a Gospel, and Marcion was not an eyewitness to the life of Christ. His Gospel and theology were rejected by those who were in direct contact with the living eyewitnesses (Polycarp is one such example). For these reasons, The Gospel of Marcion is not to be considered a reliable document.
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James "Jim" Warner Wallace (born June 16, 1961) is an American homicide detective and Christian apologist. Wallace is a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and an Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at Biola University in La Mirada, California. He has authored several books, including Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, in which he applies principles of cold case homicide investigation to apologetic concerns such as the existence of God and the reliability of the Gospels.
The Four Chaplains - How Religion Changes Everything
By Lenny Esposito 2/11/2013
A Calvinist, a Methodist, a Catholic Priest and a Jewish Rabbi walk onto a ship… No, this is not the start of another lame joke, but a celebration of four men whose heroic actions are not remembered as much anymore. Sixty years ago last week, at the height of conflict in World War II, these four U.S. Army chaplains engaged in an act of heroism that is scarcely seen. As their ship sank, they took off their life vests and gave them away to soldiers on board, knowing that sinking in the frigid North Atlantic was a certain death sentence. Lt. George L. Fox, Lt. Alexander D. Goode, Lt. John P. Washington, and Lt. Clark V. Poling laid down their lives willingly as an act of service to their God and to their fellow men.
During WWII, many passenger cruise ships were converted into troop transports for the war effort. The USAT Dorchester wwas a smaller vessel, designed to carry about 314 passengers and crew up and down the East coast. After conversion, it would hold over three times more, with over 900 soldiers and ship's crew boarding on January 23, 1943 to cross the Atlantic to support the fighting in Europe. German submarines, or U-boats, had attacked troop transports before, so the captain sailed outside the shipping lanes and had "ordered the men to sleep in their clothing and keep life jackets on. Many soldiers sleeping deep in the ship's hold disregarded the order because of the engine's heat. Others ignored it because the life jackets were uncomfortable."
Early on February 3, a German submarine torpedoed the ship which was 150 miles off of Greenland. Panic ensued on board, but the chaplains sought to sooth the fears of the men. "One witness, Private William B. Bednar, found himself floating in oil-smeared water surrounded by dead bodies and debris. 'I could hear men crying, pleading, praying,' Bednar recalls. 'I could also hear the chaplains preaching courage. Their voices were the only thing that kept me going.'" 
Once on deck, the chaplains began passing out life jackets to the men, but found out that there were too few for all the passengers aboard. Then, as survivors Grady Clark and John Ladd reported, all four of the chaplains took off their own jackets and gave them to others. "It was the finest thing I have seen or hope to see this side of heaven," said Ladd. The Chaplains locked arms, sang and prayed for the men as the Dorchester sank with them on board.
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Lenny Esposito is president and founder of Come Reason Ministries, a Christian apologetics organization, and author of the popular www.comereason.org Web site. He has taught apologetics and Christian worldview for over 17 years and has authored hundreds articles dealing with intellectually strenuous topics such as the existence of God, theology, philosophy, social issues and Biblical difficulties.
Lenny is an in-demand speaker, teaching at conferences, churches, and schools across the nation. He is a contributor to the popular Apologetics Study Bible for Students and his articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and the Southern California Christian Times. He has debated many topics on faith and reason and the rationality of the Christian worldview; his most recent debate being against well-known atheists and author Dr. Richard Carrier on the question "Does God Exist?"
Lenny is a pioneer in online ministry efforts when he began using the Web to reach others near its beginnings in 1995. He produces one of the top 16 apologetics podcasts according to Apologetics 315 and his site has been viewed millions of times by visitors from nearly every country in the world.
Lenny is a member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society and the Evangelical Theological Society.
Seeing Is Not Always Believing
By R.C. Sproul 12/1/2017
One comment that Christian pastors sometimes hear from people they are counseling is that it would be easier for them to have a strong faith if they could see God doing the same kinds of miracles today as are recorded in the Bible. The unspoken assumption is that seeing is believing—that the people who lived in Jesus’ day found themselves more readily trusting Him because they could see His great works. Robert Charles Sproul, 2/13/1939 – 12/14/2017 was an American theologian, author, and ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America. Dr. R.C. Sproul was founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, an international Christian education and discipleship organization located near Orlando, Fla. He was also copastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., chancellor of Reformation Bible College, and executive editor of Tabletalk magazine. Dr. Sproul has contributed dozens of articles to national evangelical publications, has spoken at conferences, churches, and schools around the world, and has written more than one hundred books. He also served as general editor of the Reformation Study Bible.
Such comments show the need for a closer reading of Scripture, for there are many cases where seeing great miracles didn’t move observers to faith. For example, John 11 records Jesus’ raising Lazarus from the dead — a convincing sign if there ever was one. Yet the authorities took the miracle as a reason to oppose Jesus, not to believe in Him (vv. 45-53). Scripture also records occasions when even God’s people experienced disbelief after seeing many miracles. Consider Joshua 7, which records what happened at Ai not long after the Israelites conquered Jericho. After the conquest of Jericho, when a shout brought the walls “tumbling down” (Joshua 6), you can imagine what the feelings were among the people of Israel. God had delivered them in a dramatic, supernatural way, removing from their path the most formidable obstacle to the conquest of Canaan. He had delivered on His promise that He would give them every place where Joshua set his foot. So, you would think there would be nothing but elation and confidence among the troops and especially in the heart of Joshua. But what transpires is a major comeuppance for Joshua and the Israelites. After a scouting party reports that Ai should be easy to conquer, Joshua sends a force to take the city, but it is quickly routed, and thirty-six people are killed (7:2-5). How does Joshua respond?
Joshua tore his clothes and fell on his face before the ark of the Lord until the evening… . And Joshua said, “Alas, O Lord God, why have you brought this people over the Jordan at all, to give us into the hands of the Amorites, to destroy us? Would that we had been content to dwell beyond the Jordan! O Lord, what can I say, when Israel has turned their backs before their enemies! For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it and will surround us and cut off our name from the earth. And what will you do for your great name?” (vv. 6-9)
Here we see Joshua, the one who in the past has always been courageous, the man of faith who gave the good report to the nation that Israel could take Canaan. Now he’s rending his garments and complaining to the Lord, saying, “Why didn’t You just leave well enough alone? We could have lived happily ever after on the other side of the Jordan, but now we’re humiliated and the news of this defeat will go all through the Promised Land.” Joshua, in a moment of disbelief, is saying to God, “What have you done for me lately?” His faith is so fragile that after one minor setback, he loses his confidence and is in mourning. Joshua thought he understood the full measure of God’s commitment to him and to his army, and he is beside himself when this defeat takes place at the hands of an enemy that Israel should have been able to run over without the help of God. Now even with God’s promise, they suffer this humiliating defeat. All of a sudden, Joshua’s wondering, “Was God’s promise of success an illusion? Was I hearing things? God promised that we’d never be defeated, and now we’re defeated.” What Joshua endures here, as we see in his fasting, mourning, and seeking God’s face, is a crisis of faith.
Why were the Israelites defeated? Joshua 7:1 tells us: “The people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things, for Achan … of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things. And the anger of the Lord burned against the people of Israel.” Yes, God promised Israel victory, but He also commanded the people to exercise scrupulous obedience to the terms of this conflict. God instituted the ban against the Canaanites, meaning that in this conquest of holy war the soldiers could not take any personal loot or booty. And one man in the army disobeyed. Achan succumbed to the temptation to line his own pockets with the spoils from the victory at Jericho. And because of one man’s sin, God held the whole nation of Israel accountable. Because of this trespass, God’s anger is expressed against Israel, and His providential judgment causes this defeat.
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Robert Charles Sproul, 2/13/1939 – 12/14/2017 was an American theologian, author, and ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America. Dr. R.C. Sproul was founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, an international Christian education and discipleship organization located near Orlando, Fla. He was also copastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., chancellor of Reformation Bible College, and executive editor of Tabletalk magazine. Dr. Sproul has contributed dozens of articles to national evangelical publications, has spoken at conferences, churches, and schools around the world, and has written more than one hundred books. He also served as general editor of the Reformation Study Bible.R.C. Sproul Books | Go to Books Page
Do you have a reason for reason?
By Travis Dickinson
Unfortunately Christians sometimes distance themselves from reason. At the same time, it is very common for atheists to consider reason to be the exclusive domain of atheism. This is especially true in a somewhat recent phenomenon known as the New Atheist movement, led by the likes of Richard Dawkins, (the late) Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris. There is literally nothing that is actually “new” about their atheistic beliefs. The only thing that is somewhat novel is their tone and activism. To the New Atheist, faith is, by definition, a suspension of critical thinking and that’s what religious folk trade in—the atheist, however, has no place for faith. They only rely upon reason, or so they allege.
This emphasis on reason has, for them, become a defining theme. In 2012, the “Reason Rally” was held in Washington D.C. The event featured everyone from Richard Dawkins to Bill Maher to Michael Shermer. It was a who’s who of popular level atheism united around the common theme of reason. This theme shows up routinely with atheist groups. Richard Dawkins has the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. At one point, if you contributed a significant amount of money to his foundation, you actually got to join the “Reason Circle.” There is the United Coalition of Reason and many other atheist groups that lay claim to this theme of reason. There is the National Day of Reason that just so happens (wink, wink) to be observed on the same day as the National Day of Prayer and even a move to have “In Reason We Trust” replace “In God We Trust.” Not long ago, there was a law suit against the city of Warren, MI due to the fact that the city had denied a petition to put up what was to be called the “Reason Station” by an atheist group. The Reason Station was to be a contrast to a long standing tradition of having a “Prayer Station” in the atrium of City Hall operated by religious folks. The suit was successful and the city was forced to allow the atheists to put up the Reason Station alongside the Prayer Station. My point with bringing this is up is that all of these suggest that this group values reason.
The incredible irony here is that many of these groups and their sites trade primarily in invectives and vitriolic slams rather than any kind of reasoned defense. The dialogue surrounding the installment of the Reason Station, for example, was anything but thoughtful. You can go to their sites and see for yourself. If one dares to make a positive claim about God or Christianity (or any religion for that matter), one will find oneself mocked and ridiculed in real time, often with no critical reasoning in sight. Even with formal debates involving the so-called experts, it can be difficult to disentangle mocking complaints about religion from actual arguments on the atheist side.
I’m not saying this to match the ridicule. Rather I mention this to point out a radical inconsistency in the current scene. This brand of atheism extols reason but tends to not engage thoughtfully and reasonably. Many have noted this inconsistency, even fellow atheists. Some professional philosophers, who are avowed atheists, have distanced themselves from the New Atheist movement. In fact, atheist philosopher Michael Ruse has said that Richard Dawkins’s book The God Delusion has made him ashamed to be an atheist. This is due to the fact that the philosophical arguments are just so weak and there is no effort to deeply engage the views of the many very serious thinkers on the theistic side.
What’s more is that the atheist will often act as if he or she never depends upon faith, only reason. But this is ridiculous. The object of the atheist’s faith may not be God or Scripture, but he or she will often have an undying faith in the ability of science to discover truths about (and beyond) the world. Theists will often point to features of the world that are inexplicable on an atheistic worldview, and the response is often faith of the fundamentalist sort that science will one day explain these facts. Moreover, the atheist will have faith in his or her senses, memory, the report of (select) books, and the powers of reason itself. The point is that the atheist exercises a very active trust in these things and, thus, is equally a person of faith.
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Welcome to The Benefit of the Doubt where I talk about the art of dialogue, the value of doubts, and the virtue of Christian faith.
I LOVE to dialogue about big ideas, especially with those with whom I disagree. But the tone of most discussions are, let’s call it, unproductive. I’m really interested in helping people with the art of dialoguing well.
No one likes to doubt deeply cherished beliefs. However, I want to suggest that there is great value in our doubts. When handled properly, they lead to truth and knowledge, and even deeper faith.
I’m convinced that Christianity is true, good and beautiful. I’m convinced that Jesus is peerless. Though faith is often disparaged, caricatured and deeply misunderstood, I’m convinced that Christian faith is the primary way to flourish as a human being.
I am the author of Everyday Apologetics and co-author of Stand Firm: Apologetics and the Brilliance of the Gospel (B&H, forthcoming). He blogs at www.travisdickinson.com. You can also follow him on Twitter.
Unlatched Theism: An Examination of John Frame’s Response to All That Is in God
By Dr. Keith A. Mathison 11/2017
There is no doctrine in Christian theology more fundamental or more important than the doctrine of the triune God. The very word theology is a combination of the Greek word theos, which is translated “God,” and the word logos, which can be translated “word” or “discourse.” Theology is a discourse about God, a word about God, and that means it involves the knowledge of God. Theology is the doctrine of God, and our concern in theology is the true knowledge of God. Per Amazon, Keith A. Mathison (MA, Reformed Theological Seminary; PhD, Whitefield Theological Seminary) is dean of the Ligonier Academy of Biblical and Theological Studies and an associate editor of Tabletalk magazine at Ligonier Ministries. He is editor of When Shall These Things Be: A Reformed Response to Hyper-Preterism and associate editor of The Reformation Study Bible. He lives in Lake Mary, Florida, with his wife and children.
The doctrine of God is fundamental because every other subject studied in systematic theology is connected to the doctrine of God and understandable only in relation to it. Scripture is the Word of God. Man is created in the image of God. Sin is a transgression of the law of God. Redemption is the salvific work of God. The church is the people of God. Eschatology is the final goal of God. And so on. If our doctrine of God is off, everything else will be off. This is why the current debates among evangelical and Reformed theologians regarding the doctrine of God are profoundly important. These are not debates over nonessentials. These are not debates over secondary or tertiary doctrines. These debates involve the nature of God Almighty, the One who created the universe and everything in it, who reveals Himself to us, who redeemed us, and who calls us to worship Him in spirit and in truth. A false doctrine of God results in idolatry. The stakes in these debates, therefore, could not be any higher.
Enter James Dolezal. Dr. Dolezal is a professor of theology at Cairn University. He received his Ph.D. from Westminster Theological Seminary, writing his dissertation on the doctrine of divine simplicity. The dissertation has since been published under the title God without Parts: Divine Simplicity and the Metaphysics of God’s Absoluteness (Pickwick, 2011). It is an outstanding work, but also a very technical and academic work because of its origin as a dissertation. In July 2017, Dolezal’s first popular-level book, All That Is in God: Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Christian Theism, was published by Reformation Heritage Books. I had the privilege of reading the manuscript prior to publication, and I also wrote a brief summary review of the book after it was published. The first time I read the manuscript, it became abundantly clear within only a few pages that the book was going to create some waves. Why? Because in this book Dolezal argues that a number of contemporary evangelical and Reformed theologians, whether wittingly or unwittingly, have rejected and/or wrongly redefined elements of classical Christian theism. In other words, they have rejected and/or wrongly redefined elements of the Christian doctrine of God. That is a serious charge, and if accurate, a devastating one that cannot be ignored or brushed aside. Not only does Dolezal argue that many evangelical and Reformed theologians have abandoned classical Christian theism, he also names names. Because some of these names are the names of very popular and influential figures in the contemporary evangelical world, it was inevitable that this book would ruffle some feathers.
Enter John Frame. Dr. Frame is now retired after teaching theology at several seminaries over the course of an almost fifty-year career. Frame has written extensively on the doctrine of God in a number of works, including his Systematic Theology (P&R, 2013) and The Doctrine of God (P&R, 2002), one of four volumes in his Theology of Lordship series. Frame is also the author of No Other God: A Response to Open Theism (P&R, 2001). Dr. Frame is loved by his students and respected by his former colleagues and critics. In fact, many of his former students, colleagues, and even critics contributed to Speaking the Truth in Love, the 1,200-page Festschrift published in his honor in 2009. Frame is one of the most popular and influential Reformed theologians writing today, and yet he is one of the men named by Dolezal as holding to significant errors regarding classical Christian theism. That is no small matter. If Dolezal is wrong, he has misrepresented the work of an important theologian. If Dolezal is right, then Frame’s widespread influence and popularity over the course of many decades may have had a profoundly negative theological influence on the church’s doctrine of God. Frame has, not surprisingly, written a lengthy response to Dolezal’s book in an online article titled “Scholasticism for Evangelicals: Thoughts on All That Is In God by James Dolezal.” Having read both Dolezal and Frame, I am convinced that there are some serious problems in Frame’s response that must be addressed. However, before examining Frame’s response more closely, we need to understand the issues that concern Dolezal as well as the charges that he has made.
All That Is In God | In one sense, there is nothing remarkable about Dolezal’s book. Much of it is merely a restatement of the doctrine of God believed, confessed, and taught by orthodox Christians from the earliest centuries of the church onward—the doctrine of God they believed to be revealed by God Himself in Scripture. It is a restatement of the biblical doctrine of God found in the great creeds of the church. Furthermore, and equally relevant for our purposes, it is the biblical doctrine of God defended by the Reformed theologians of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and it is the doctrine found in the Reformed confessions of those centuries. The Westminster Confession of Faith, for example, clearly and concisely states the classical Christian doctrine of God in the following words:
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Per Amazon, Keith A. Mathison (MA, Reformed Theological Seminary; PhD, Whitefield Theological Seminary) is dean of the Ligonier Academy of Biblical and Theological Studies and an associate editor of Tabletalk magazine at Ligonier Ministries. He is editor of When Shall These Things Be: A Reformed Response to Hyper-Preterism and associate editor of The Reformation Study Bible. He lives in Lake Mary, Florida, with his wife and children.Keith Mathison Books:
Don’t Be Fooled: The Left Doesn’t Care About Morals; It Cares About Power
By D.C. McAllister 12/1/2017
Is America undergoing a great awakening in light of the deluge of sex scandals that are now coming to light? Are we seeing a revival of that old-time religion of chastity, purity, and self-control? One would think so as liberals, who once laughed at sexual improprieties, clapped as sinners danced in the streets, and pointed fingers at accusers on national television, are now offering mea culpas and purging all ranks with the fervor of medieval inquisitors.
It certainly looks like a change for good. But don’t be fooled. This couldn’t be further from the
Whether it's stripping Matt Lauer of his former glory or firing up the torches in the Roy Moore election, the goal of the Left is not purity, but power. This fact does not negate the reality of transgressions or the possibilities of criminality in individual cases, but anyone who values both goodness and freedom in this country needs to be wise as serpents. We’re not seeing a revival of virtue in America. We’re seeing a resistance to it.
For true national repentance, there needs to be recognition of objective standards that allow for any of these judgments to be made in the first place. There’s not. We’re not seeing careful consideration of how we got to this point — the abandonment of God as the source of all moral authority or, at the very least, a common recognition of natural law and traditional social norms.
Instead, we are seeing navel-gazing about how to rethink sex, what to do about the brutality of masculinity, and how to delegitimize conservatives who have been accused of abandoning character for political expediency.
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Denise C. McAllister is a cultural and political commentator based in Charlotte, NC. She is a senior contributor at The Federalist and her work can be found at several outlets, including PJ Media where she’s a contributor, Real Clear Politics, Hot Air, and Ricochet. She has been a guest on Fox News, CNN, Newsmax TV, Sean Hannity Radio, NPR, BBC Radio, and many other radio programs across the nation. Her book, “A Burning and Shining Light,” is a dramatic narrative about the life and ministry of David Brainerd. She is also a pro-life speaker, advocating for the rights of unborn children. In addition to being a writer, she is a musician and visual artist.
Apologetics from the Psalms
By Donnie Griffin 6/22/2016
One can easily obtain apologetics from the Psalms.
Most of the time when we think of the Books of Psalms in the Scriptures, we think songs or prayers. Well, that’s what they are.
But, it’s not very often that we consider the Psalms as a source for apologetics though. But, because the Psalms are written from man’s perspective in an attempt to understand life through worship of a Holy God, they necessarily describe that relationship and often do so in a way that provides evidence.
Furthermore, because the Psalms often approach worship in a way that describe God as creator, arguments for his existence emanate from the verses.
This summer my pastor is preaching through some of the Psalms and it has been interesting so far to hear these apologetic titbits fall off the pages and from his exposition. Hopefully, he won’t mind me sharing some of what unfolded from Psalm 19 a couple of weeks ago, although his sermon wasn’t necessarily apologetic in nature. (This was not his sermon and it is not my intention to reproduce that in any way.)
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Donnie Griffin | I was born in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, born again at a very young age, married a beautiful and likeminded woman, moved to Tennessee, and raised two children in the Southern traditions of loving God and neighbor, exercising manners, and being stewards of the land and its bounty.
After becoming involved in youth ministry in our local church, the need of teaching people “what they believe and why they believe it” became painfully apparent, especially in my immediate context (rural Southern churches). We began an apologetics/theology ministry there but have since moved on. After serving in church leadership and being called to faithfulness and duty to protect our congregation from a rogue pastor under church discipline, my experiences in this biblical process shape much of what I believe about how churches in the South become weak and nominal Christianity is prevalent.
I love the Church and Southern culture so you can expect to read about apologetics and theology as well as church and culture here, written southern style, by the grace of God.
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
GOD DISTINGUISHED FROM IDOLS, THAT HE MAY BE THE EXCLUSIVE OBJECT OF WORSHIP.
1. Scripture, in teaching that there is but one God, does not make a dispute about words, but attributes all honour and religious worship to him alone. This proved, 1st, By the etymology of the term. 2d, By the testimony of God himself, when he declares that he is a jealous God, and will not allow himself to be confounded with any fictitious Deity.
2. The Papists in opposing this pure doctrine, gain nothing by their distinction of dulia and latria.
3. Passages of Scripture subversive of the Papistical distinction, and proving that religious worship is due to God alone. Perversions of Divine worship.
1. We said at the commencement of our work (chap. 2), that the knowledge of God consists not in frigid speculation, but carries worship along with it; and we touched by the way (chap. 5 s. 6, 9, 10) on what will be more copiously treated in other places (Book 2, chap. 8)--viz. how God is duly worshipped. Now I only briefly repeat, that whenever Scripture asserts the unity of God, it does not contend for a mere name, but also enjoins that nothing which belongs to Divinity be applied to any other; thus making it obvious in what respect pure religion differs from superstition. The Greek word euse'beia means "right worship;" for the Greeks, though groping in darkness, were always aware that a certain rule was to be observed, in order that God might not be worshipped absurdly. Cicero truly and shrewdly derives the name religion from relego, and yet the reason which he assigns is forced and farfetched--viz. that honest worshipers read and read again, and ponder what is true.  I rather think the name is used in opposition to vagrant license--the greater part of mankind rashly taking up whatever first comes in their way, whereas piety, that it may stand with a firm step, confines itself within due bounds. In the same way superstition seems to take its name from its not being contented with the measure which reason prescribes, but accumulating a superfluous mass of vanities. But to say nothing more of words, it has been universally admitted in all ages, that religion is vitiated and perverted whenever false opinions are introduced into it, and hence it is inferred, that whatever is allowed to be done from inconsiderate zeal, cannot be defended by any pretext with which the superstitious may choose to cloak it. But although this confession is in every man's mouth, a shameful stupidity is forthwith manifested, inasmuch as men neither cleave to the one God, nor use any selection in their worship, as we have already observed.
But God, in vindicating his own right, first proclaims that he is a jealous God, and will be a stern avenger if he is confounded with any false god; and thereafter defines what due worship is, in order that the human race may be kept in obedience. Both of these he embraces in his Law when he first binds the faithful in allegiance to him as their only Lawgiver, and then prescribes a rule for worshipping him in accordance with his will. The Law, with its manifold uses and objects, I will consider in its own place; at present I only advert to this one, that it is designed as a bridle to curb men, and prevent them from turning aside to spurious worship. But it is necessary to attend to the observation with which I set out--viz. that unless everything peculiar to divinity is confined to God alone, he is robbed of his honour, and his worship is violated.
It may be proper here more particularly to attend to the subtleties which superstition employs. In revolting to strange gods, it avoids the appearance of abandoning the Supreme God, or reducing him to the same rank with others. It gives him the highest place, but at the same time surrounds him with a tribe of minor deities, among whom it portions out his peculiar offices. In this way, though in a dissembling and crafty manner, the glory of the Godhead is dissected, and not allowed to remain entire. In the same way the people of old, both Jews and Gentiles, placed an immense crowd in subordination to the father and ruler of the gods, and gave them, according to their rank, to share with the supreme God in the government of heaven and earth. In the same way, too, for some ages past, departed saints have been exalted to partnership with God, to be worshipped, invoked, and lauded in his stead. And yet we do not even think that the majesty of God is obscured by this abomination, whereas it is in a great measure suppressed and extinguished--all that we retain being a frigid opinion of his supreme power. At the same time, being deluded by these entanglements, we go astray after divers gods.
2. The distinction of what is called dulia and latria was invented for the very purpose of permitting divine honours to be paid to angels and dead men with apparent impunity. For it is plain that the worship which Papists pay to saints differs in no respect from the worship of God: for this worship is paid without distinction; only when they are pressed they have recourse to the evasion, that what belongs to God is kept unimpaired, because they leave him latria. But since the question relates not to the word, but the thing, how can they be allowed to sport at will with a matter of the highest moment? But not to insist on this, the utmost they will obtain by their distinction is, that they give worship to God, and service to the others. For latrei`a in Greek has the same meaning as worship in Latin; whereas doulei`a properly means service, though the words are sometimes used in Scripture indiscriminately. But granting that the distinction is invariably preserved, the thing to be inquired into is the meaning of each. Doulei`a unquestionably means service, and latrei`a worship. But no man doubts that to serve is something higher than to worship. For it were often a hard thing to serve him whom you would not refuse to reverence. It is, therefore, an unjust division to assign the greater to the saints and leave the less to God. But several of the ancient fathers observed this distinction. What if they did, when all men see that it is not only improper, but utterly frivolous?
3. Laying aside subtleties, let us examine the thing. When Paul reminds the Galatians of what they were before they came to the knowledge of Gods he says that they "did service unto them which by nature are no gods," (Gal. 4:8). Because he does not say latria, was their superstition excusable? This superstition, to which he gives the name of dulia, he condemns as much as if he had given it the name of latria. When Christ repels Satan's insulting proposal with the words, "It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve," (Mt. 4:10), there was no question of latria. For all that Satan asked was prosku`nesis (obeisance). In like manners when John is rebuked by the angel for falling on his knees before him (Rev. 19:10; 22:8, 9), we ought not to suppose that John had so far forgotten himself as to have intended to transfer the honour due to God alone to an angel. But because it was impossible that a worship connected with religion should not savour somewhat of divine worship, he could not prosku`nein (do obeisance to) the angel without derogating from the glory of God. True, we often read that men were worshipped; but that was, if I may so speak, civil honour. The case is different with religious honour, which, the moment it is conjoined with worship, carries profanation of the divine honour along with it. The same thing may be seen in the case of Cornelius (Acts 10:25). He had not made so little progress in piety as not to confine supreme worship to God alone. Therefore, when he prostrates himself before Peter, he certainly does it not with the intention of adoring him instead of God. Yet Peter sternly forbids him. And why, but just because men never distinguish so accurately between the worship of God and the creatures as not to transfer promiscuously to the creature that which belongs only to God. Therefore, if we would have one God, let us remember that we can never appropriate the minutest portion of his glory without retaining what is his due. Accordingly, when Zechariah discourses concerning the repairing of the Church, he distinctly says not only that there would be one God, but also that he would have only one name--the reason being, that he might have nothing in common with idols. The nature of the worship which God requires will be seen in its own place (Book 2, c. 7 and 8). He has been pleased to prescribe in his Law what is lawful and right, and thus restrict men to a certain rule, lest any should allow themselves to devise a worship of their own. But as it is inexpedient to burden the reader by mixing up a variety of topics, I do not now dwell on this one. Let it suffice to remember, that whatever offices of piety are bestowed anywhere else than on God alone, are of the nature of sacrilege. First, superstition attached divine honours to the sun and stars, or to idols: afterwards ambition followed--ambition which, decking man in the spoils of God, dared to profane all that was sacred. And though the principle of worshipping a supreme Deity continued to be held, still the practice was to sacrifice promiscuously to genii and minor gods, or departed heroes: so prone is the descent to this vice of communicating to a crowd that which God strictly claims as his own peculiar right!
 Cic. De Nat. Deor. lib. 2 c. 28. See also Lactant. Inst. Div. lib. 4 c. 28.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain Institutes of the Christian Religion
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 135Your Name, O LORD, Endures Forever
135 Praise The LORD!
135:8 He it was who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
both of man and of beast;
9 who in your midst, O Egypt,
sent signs and wonders
against Pharaoh and all his servants;
10 who struck down many nations
and killed mighty kings,
11 Sihon, king of the Amorites,
and Og, king of Bashan,
and all the kingdoms of Canaan,
12 and gave their land as a heritage,
a heritage to his people Israel.
13 Your name, O LORD, endures forever,
your renown, O LORD, throughout all ages.
14 For the LORD will vindicate his people
and have compassion on his servants.
15 The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
16 They have mouths, but do not speak;
they have eyes, but do not see;
17 they have ears, but do not hear,
nor is there any breath in their mouths.
18 Those who make them become like them,
so do all who trust in them.
19 O house of Israel, bless the LORD!
O house of Aaron, bless the LORD!
20 O house of Levi, bless the LORD!
You who fear the LORD, bless the LORD!
21 Blessed be the LORD from Zion,
he who dwells in Jerusalem!
Praise the LORD!
Fox's Book Of Martyrs
By John Foxe 1563
Queen Mary's Treatment of Her Sister, the Princess ElizabethThe preservation of Princess Elizabeth may be reckoned a remarkable instance of the watchful eye which Christ had over His Church. The bigotry of Mary regarded not the ties of consanguinity, of natural affection, of national succession. Her mind, physically morose, was under the dominion of men who possessed not the milk of human kindness, and whose principles werre sanctioned and enjoined by the idolatrous tenets of the Romish pontiff. Could they have foreseen the short date of Mary's reign, they would have imbrued their hands in the Protestant blood of Elizabeth, and, as a sine qua non of the queen's salvation, have compelled her to bequeath the kingdom to some Catholic prince. The contest might have been attended with the horrors incidental to a religious civil war, and calamities might have been felt in England similar to those under Henry the Great in France, whom Queen Elizabeth assisted in opposing his priest-ridden Catholic subjects. As if Providence had the perpetual establishment of the Protestant faith in view, the difference of the duration of the two reigns is worthy of notice. Mary might have reigned many years in the course of nature, but the course of grace willed it otherwise. Five years and four months was the time of persecution alloted to this weak, disgraceful reign, while that of Elizabeth reckoned a number of years among the highest of those who have sat on the English throne, almost nine times that of her merciless sister!
Before Mary attained the crown, she treated Elizabeth with a sisterly kindness, but from that period her conduct was altered, and the most imperious distance substituted. Though Elizabeth had no concern in the rebellion of Sir Thomas Wyat, yet she was apprehended, and treated as a culprit in that commotion. The manner too of her arrest was similar to the mind that dictated it: the three cabinet members, whom she deputed to see the arrest executed, rudely entered the chamber at ten o'clock at night, and, though she was extremely ill, they could scarcely be induced to let her remain until the following morning. Her enfeebled state permitted her to be moved only by short stages in a journey of such length to London; but the princess, though afflicted in person, had a consolation in mind which her sister never could purchase: the people, through whom she passed on her way pitied her, and put up their prayers for her preservation.
Arrived at court, she was made a close prisoner for a fortnight, without knowing who was her accuser, or seeing anyone who could console or advise her. The charge, however, was at length unmasked by Gardiner, who, with nineteen of the Council, accused her of abetting Wyat's conspiracy, which she religiously affirmed to be false. Failing in this, they placed against her the transactions of Sir Peter Carew in the west, in which they were as unsuccessful as in the former. The queen now signified that it was her pleasure she should be committed to the Tower, a step which overwhelmed the princess with the greatest alarm and uneasiness. In vain she hoped the queen's majesty would not commit her to such a place; but there was no lenity to be expected; her attendants were limited, and a hundred northern soldiers appointed to guard her day and night.
On Palm Sunday she was conducted to the Tower. When she came to the palace garden, she cast her eyes towards the windows, eagerly anxious to meet those of the queen, but she was disappointed. A strict order was given in London that every one should go to church, and carry palms, that she might be conveyed without clamor or commiseration to her prison.
At the time of passing under London Bridge the fall of the tide made it very dangerous, and the barge some time stuck fast against the starlings. To mortify her the more, she was landed at Traitors' Stairs. As it rained fast, and she was obliged to step in the water to land, she hesitated; but this excited no complaisance in the lord in waiting. When she set her foot on the steps, she exclaimed, "Here lands as true a subject, being prisoner, as ever landed at these stairs; and before Thee, O God, I speak it, having no friend but Thee alone!"
A large number of the wardens and servants of the Tower were arranged in order between whom the princess had to pass. Upon inquiring the use of this parade, she was informed it was customary to do so. "If," said she, "it is on account of me, I beseech you that they may be dismissed." On this the poor men knelt down, and prayed that God would preserve her grace, for which they were the next day turned out of their employments. The tragic scene must have been deeply interesting, to see an amiable and irreproachable princess sent like a lamb to languish in expectation of cruelty and death; against whom there was no other charge than her superiority in Christian virtues and acquired endowments. Her attendants openly wept as she proceeded with a dignified step to the frowning battlements of her destination. "Alas!" said Elizabeth, "what do you mean? I took you to comfort, not to dismay me; for my truth is such that no one shall have cause to weep for me."
The next step of her enemies was to procure evidence by means which, in the present day, are accounted detestable. Many poor prisoners were racked, to extract, if possible, any matters of accusation which might affect her life, and thereby gratify Gardiner's sanguinary disposition. He himself came to examine her, respecting her removal from her house at Ashbridge to Dunnington castle a long while before. The princess had quite forgotten this trivial circumstance, and Lord Arundel, after the investigation, kneeling down, apologized for having troubled her in such a frivolous matter. "You sift me narrowly," replied the princess, "but of this I am assured, that God has appointed a limit to your proceedings; and so God forgive you all."
Her own gentlemen, who ought to have been her purveyors, and served her provision, were compelled to give place to the common soldiers, at the command of the constable of the Tower, who was in every respect a servile tool of Gardiner; her grace's friends, however, procured an order of Council which regulated this petty tyranny more to her satisfaction.
After having been a whole month in close confinement, she sent for the lord chamberlain and Lord Chandois, to whom she represented the ill state of her health from a want of proper air and exercise. Application being made to the Council, Elizabeth was with some difficulty admitted to walk in the queen's lodgings, and afterwards in the garden, at which time the prisoners on that side were attended by their keepers, and not suffered to look down upon her. Their jealousy was excited by a child of four years, who daily brought flowers to the princess. The child was threatened with a whipping, and the father ordered to keep him from the princess's chambers.
On the fifth of May the constable was discharged from his office, and Sir Henry Benifield appointed in his room, accompanied by a hundred ruffian-looking soldiers in blue. This measure created considerable alarm in the mind of the princess, who imagined it was preparatory to her undergoing the same fate as Lady Jane Grey, upon the same block. Assured that this project was not in agitation, she entertained an idea that the new keeper of the Tower was commissioned to make away with her privately, as his equivocal character was in conformity with the ferocious inclination of those by whom he was appointed.
A report now obtained that her Grace was to be taken away by the new constable and his soldiers, which in the sequel proved to be true. An order of Council was made for her removal to the manor Woodstock, which took place on Trinity Sunday, May 13, under the authority of Sir Henry Benifield and Lord Tame. The ostensible cause of her removal was to make room for other prisoners. Richmond was the first place they stopped at, and here the princess slept, not however without much alarm at first, as her own servants were superseded by the soldiers, who were placed as guards at her chamber door. Upon representation, Lord Tame overruled this indecent stretch of power, and granted her perfect safety while under his custody.
In passing through Windsor, she saw several of her poor dejected servants waiting to see her. "Go to them," said she, to one of her attendants, "and say these words from me, tanquim ovis, that is, like a sheep to the slaughter."
The next night her Grace lodged at the house of a Mr. Dormer, in her way to which the people manifested such tokens of loyal affection that Sir Henry was indignant, and bestowed on them very liberally the names of rebels and traitors. In some villages they rang the bells for joy, imagining the princess's arrival among them was from a very different cause; but this harmless demonstration of gladness was sufficient with the persecuting Benifield to order his soldiers to seize and set these humble persons in the stocks.
The day following, her Grace arrived at Lord Tame's house, where she stayed all night, and was most nobly entertained. This excited Sir Henry's indignation, and made him caution Lord Tame to look well to his proceedings; but the humanity of Lord Tame was not to be frightened, and he returned a suitable reply. At another time, this official prodigal, to show his consequence and disregard of good manners, went up into a chamber, where was appointed for her Grace a chair, two cushions, and a foot carpet, wherein he presumptuously sat and called his man to pull off his boots. As soon as it was known to the ladies and gentlemen they laughed him to scorn. When supper was done, he called to his lordship, and directed that all gentlemen and ladies should withdraw home, marvelling much that he would permit such a large company, considering the great charge he had committed to him. "Sir Henry," said his lordship, "content yourself; all shall be avoided, your men and all." "Nay, but my soldiers," replied Sir Henry, "shall watch all night." Lord Tame answered, "There is no need." "Well," said he, "need or need not, they shall so do."
The next day her Grace took her journey from thence to Woodstock, where she was enclosed, as before in the Tower of London, the soldiers keeping guard within and without the walls, every day, to the number of sixty; and in the night, without the walls were forty during all the time of her imprisonment.
At length she was permitted to walk in the gardens, but under the most severe restrictions, Sir Henry keeping the keys himself, and placing her always under many bolts and locks, whence she was induced to call him her jailer, at which he felt offended, and begged her to substitute the word officer. After much earnest entreaty to the Council, she obtained permission to write to the queen; but the jailer who brought her pen, ink, and paper stood by her while she wrote, and, when she left off, he carried the things away until they were wanted again. He also insisted upon carrying it himself to the queen, but Elizabeth would not suffer him to be the bearer, and it was presented by one of her gentlemen.
After the letter, Doctors Owen and Wendy went to the princess, as the state of her health rendered medical assistance necessary. They stayed with her five or six days, in which time she grew much better; they then returned to the queen, and spoke flatteringly of the princess' submission and humility, at which the queen seemed moved; but the bishops wanted a concession that she had offended her majesty. Elizabeth spurned this indirect mode of acknowledging herself guilty. "If I have offended," said she, "and am guilty, I crave no mercy but the law, which I am certain I should have had ere this, if anything could have been proved against me. I wish I were as clear from the peril of my enemies; then should I not be thus bolted and locked up within walls and doors."
Much question arose at this time respecting the propriety of uniting the princess to some foreigner, that she might quit the realm with a suitable portion. One of the Council had the brutality to urge the necessity of beheading her, if the king (Philip) meant to keep the realm in peace; but the Spaniards, detesting such a base thought, replied, "God forbid that oiur king and master should consent to such an infamous proceeding!" Stimulated by a noble principle, the Spaniards from this time repeatedly urged to the king that it would do him the highest honor to liberate the Lady Elizabeth, nor was the king impervious to their solicitation. He took her out of prison, and shortly after she was sent for to Hampton court. It may be remarked in this place, that the fallacy of human reasoning is shown in every moment. The barbarian who suggested the policy of beheading Elizabeth little contemplated the change of condition which his speech would bring about. In her journey from Woodstock, Benifield treated her with the same severity as before; removing her on a stormy day, and not suffering her old servant, who had come to Colnbrook, where she slept, to speak to her.
She remained a fortnight strictly guarded and watched, before anyone dared to speak with her; at length the vile Gardiner with three more of the Council, came with great submission. Elizabeth saluted them, remarked that she had been for a long time kept in solitary confinement, and begged they would intercede with the king and queen to deliver her from prison. Gardiner's visit was to draw from the princess a confession of her guilt; but she was guarded against his subtlety, adding, that, rather than admit she had done wrong, she would lie in prison all the rest of her life. The next day Gardiner came again, and kneeling down, declared that the queen was astonished she would persist in affirming that she was blameless-whence it would be inferred that the queen had unjustly imprisoned her grace. Gardiner further informed her that the queen had declared that she must tell another tale, before she could be set at liberty. "Then," replied the high-minded Elizabeth, "I had rather be in prison with honesty and truth, than have my liberty, and be suspected by her majesty. What I have said, I will stand to; nor will I ever speak falsehood!" The bishop and his friends then departed, leaving her locked up as before.
Seven days after the queen sent for Elizabeth at ten o'clock at night; two years had elapsed since they had seen each other. It created terror in the mind of the princess, who, at setting out, desired her gentlemen and ladies to pray for her, as her return to them again was uncertain.
Being conducted to the queen's bedchamber, upon entering it the princess knelt down, and having begged of God to preserve her majesty, she humbly assured her that her majesty had not a more loyal subject in the realm, whatever reports might be circulated to the contrary. With a haughty ungraciousness, the imperious queen replied: "You will not confess your offence, but stand stoutly to your truth. I pray God it may so fall out."
"If it do not," said Elizabeth, "I request neither favor nor pardon at your majesty's hands." "Well," said the queen, "you stiffly still persevere in your truth. Besides, you will not confess that you have not been wrongfully punished."
"I must not say so, if it please your majesty, to you."
"Why, then," said the queen, "belike you will to others."
"No, if it please your majesty: I have borne the burden, and must bear it. I humbly beseech your majesty to have a good opinion of me and to think me to be your subject, not only from the beginning hitherto, but for ever, as long as life lasteth." They departed without any heartfelt satisfaction on either side; nor can we think the conduct of Elizabeth displayed that independence and fortitude which accompanies perfect innocence. Elizabeth's admitting that she would not say, neither to the queen nor to others, that she had been unjustly punished, was in direct contradiction to what she had told Gardiner, and must have arisen from some motive at this time inexplicable. King Philip is supposed to have been secretly concealed during the interview, and to have been friendly to the princess.
In seven days from the time of her return to imprisonment, her severe jailer and his men were discharged, and she was set at liberty, under the constraint of being always attended and watched by some of the queen's Council. Four of her gentlemen were sent to the Tower without any other charge against them than being zealous servants of their mistress. This event was soon after followed by the happy news of Gardiner's death, for which all good and merciful men glorified God, inasmuch as it had taken the chief tiger from the den, and rendered the life of the Protestant successor of Mary more secure.
This miscreant, while the princess was in the Tower, sent a secret writ, signed by a few of the Council, for her private execution, and, had Mr. Bridges, lieutenant of the Tower, been as little scrupulous of dark assassination as this pious prelate was, she must have perished. The warrant not having the queen's signature, Mr. Bridges hastened to her majesty to give her information of it, and to know her mind. This was a plot of Winchester's, who, to convict her of treasonable practices, caused several prisoners to be racked; particularly Mr. Edmund Tremaine and Smithwicke were offered considerable bribes to accuse the guiltless princess.
Her life was several times in danger. While at Woodstock, fire was apparently put between the boards and ceiling under which she lay. It was also reported strongly that one Paul Penny, the keeper of Woodstock, a notorious ruffian, was appointed to assassinate her, but, however this might be, God counteracted in this point the nefarious designs of the enemies of the Reformation. James Basset was another appointed to perform the same deed: he was a peculiar favorite of Gardiner, and had come within a mile of Woodstock, intending to speak with Benifield on the subject. The goodness of God however so ordered it that while Basset was travelling to Woodstock, Benifield, by an order of Council, was going to London: in consequence of which, he left a positive order with his brother, that no man should be admitted to the princess during his absence, not even with a note from the queen; his brother met the murderer, but the latter's intention was frustrated, as no admission could be obtained.
When Elizabeth quitted Woodstock, she left the following lines written with her diamond on the window:
Much suspected by me, Nothing proved can be.
Quoth Elizabeth, prisoner.
With the life of Winchester ceased the extreme danger of the princess, as many of her other secret enemies soon after followed him, and, last of all, her cruel sister, who outlived Gardiner but three years.
The death of Mary was ascribed to several causes. The Council endeavored to console her in her last moments, imagining it was the absence of her husband that lay heavy at her heart, but though his treatment had some weight, the loss of Calais, the last fortress possessed by the English in France, was the true source of her sorrow. "Open my heart," said Mary, "when I am dead, and you shall find Calais written there." Religion caused her no alarm; the priests had lulled to rest every misgiving of conscience, which might have obtruded, on account of the accusing spirits of the murdered martyrs. Not the blood she had spilled, but the loss of a town excited her emotions in dying, and this last stroke seemed to be awarded, that her fanatical persecution might be paralleled by her political imbecility.
We earnestly pray that the annals of no country, Catholic or pagan, may ever be stained with such a repetition of human sacrifices to papal power, and that the detestation in which the character of Mary is holden, may be a beacon to succeeding monarchs to avoid the rocks of fanaticism!
Foxe's Book of Martyrs
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
‘Lord, what should I do?’ (1)
12/3/2017 Bob Gass
‘Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.’
(Ps 119:105) 105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. ESV
When you pray, ‘Lord, what should I do?’ He can respond to you in several ways. Let’s look at some over the next few days. He will answer you through His written Word. Instead of turning to ‘Tom, Dick, and Harry’ for guidance, go to God. Make His Word your first option rather than your last resort. The psalmist wrote, ‘Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.’ Without a regular daily intake of God’s Word, you’ll be ‘in the dark’ as to what’s best for you and the direction your life should go. ‘I the LORD will speak what I will, and it shall be fulfilled’ (Ezekiel 12:25 NIV 2011 Edition). If God says it in His Word, you can count on it. There are precepts in Scripture, but mainly God has given us principles to follow. These principles require wisdom and discernment. The psalmist said, ‘I believe in your commands; now teach me good judgment and knowledge’ (Psalm 119:66 NLT). This doesn’t mean you must have a particular verse for every decision or move you make. That’s not how it works. Most times when you ask God for guidance, He will give you ‘good judgment and knowledge’, and that’s enough to get you moving in the right direction. Will you sometimes experience fear? Yes, but that’s when you must use your faith! Your greatest clarity as to God’s will often comes from hindsight, not foresight. It’s in looking back on how God has led you that you say, ‘Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave’ (1 Kings 8:56 NIV 2011 Edition).
(Eze 12:25) 25 For I am the LORD; I will speak the word that I will speak, and it will be performed. It will no longer be delayed, but in your days, O rebellious house, I will speak the word and perform it, declares the Lord GOD.” ESV
(Ps 119:66) 66 Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments. ESV
(1 Kings 8:56) 56 “Blessed be the LORD who has given rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised. Not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke by Moses his servant. ESV
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
President Thomas Jefferson, author of the phrase “Separation of church and state,” asked Congress to ratify a treaty with the Kaskaskia Indians, which they did this day, December 3, 1803. It stated: “Whereas the greater part of said tribe have been baptized… into the Catholic Church, to which they are much attached, the United States will give annually, for seven years, one hundred dollars toward the support of a priest… who will… perform… the duties of his office, and… instruct as many… children as possible.” The treaty, signed by Jefferson, concluded: “The United States will further give the sum of three hundred dollars to assist… in the erection of a church.”
by C.S. Lewis
Reflections on the Intimate Dialogue
Between Man and God
I shouldn't be at all disturbed if it could be shown that a diabolical mysticism, or drugs, produced experiences indistinguishable (by introspection) from those of the great Christian mystics. Departures are all alike; it is the landfall that crowns the voyage. The saint, by being a saint, proves that his mysticism (if he was a mystic; not all saints are) led him aright; the fact that he has practiced mysticism could never prove his sanctity.
You may wonder that my intense desire to peep behind the scenes has not led me to attempt the mystic way. But would it not be the worst of all possible motives? The saint may win a "mortal glimpse of death's immortal rose," but it is a by-product. He took ship simply in humble and selfless love.
There can be a desire (like mine) with no carnal element in it at all which is nevertheless, in St. Paul's sense, "flesh" and not "spirit." That is, there can be a merely impulsive, headstrong, greedy desire even for spiritual things. It is, like our other appetites, "cross-fodder." Yet, being crucified, it can be raised from the dead, and make part of our bliss.
Turning now to quite a different point in your letter. I too had noticed that our prayers for others flow more easily than those we offer on our own behalf. And it would be nice to accept your view that this just shows we are made to live by charity. I'm afraid, however, detect two much less attractive reasons for the ease of my own intercessory prayers. One is that I am often, I believe, praying for others when I should be doing things for them. It's so much easier to pray for a bore than to go and see him. And the other is like unto it. Suppose I pray that you may be given grace to with stand your besetting sin (short list of candidates for this post will be forwarded on demand). Well, all the work has to be done by God and you. If I pray against my own besetting sin there will be work for me. One sometimes fights shy of admitting an act to be a sin for this very reason.
The increasing list of people to be prayed for is, nevertheless, one of the burdens of old age. I have a scruple about crossing anyone off the list. When I say a scruple, I mean precisely a scruple. I don't really think that if one prays for a man at all it is a duty to pray for him all my life. But when it comes to dropping him now, this particular day, it somehow goes against the grain. And as the list lengthens, it is hard to make it more than a mere string of names. But here in some measure-a curious law comes into play. Don't you find that, if you keep your mind fixed upon God, you will automatically think of the person you are praying for; but that there is no tendency for it to work the other way round?
Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
The nations of antiquity
rolled away in the current of ages,
Israel alone remained
one indestructible edifice of gray antiquity...
preserved by an internal and marvelous power.
--- Isaac Mayer Wise
An optimist is a person who sees a green light everywhere,
while a pessimist sees only the red stoplight...
the truly wise person is colorblind.
--- Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965)
Out of My Life and Thought: An Autobiography
Not all who wander are lost.
--- JRR Tolkien
Slow Road Home
Neither fire nor wind, birth nor death can erase our good deeds.
Say Yes to Your Spirit: A Personal Journey for Developing Spirituality, Recovery, and Healing
... from here, there and everywhere
by D.H. Stern
but he who trusts in ADONAI
will be raised high [above danger].
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
Not by might nor by power
And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.
--- 1 Cor. 2:4.
If in preaching the Gospel you substitute your clear knowledge of the way of salvation for confidence in the power of the Gospel, you hinder people getting to Reality. You have to see that while you proclaim your knowledge of the way of salvation, you yourself are rooted and grounded in faith in God. Never rely on the clearness of your exposition, but as you give your exposition see that you are relying on the Holy Spirit. Rely on the certainty of God’s redemptive power, and He will create His own life in souls.
When once you are rooted in Reality, nothing can shake you. If your faith is in experiences, anything that happens is likely to upset that faith; but nothing can ever upset God or the almighty Reality of Redemption; base your faith on that, and you are as eternally secure as God. When once you get into personal contact with Jesus Christ, you will never be moved again. That is the meaning of sanctification. God puts His disapproval on human experience when we begin to adhere to the conception that sanctification is merely an experience, and forget that sanctification itself has to be sanctified (see John 17:19). I have to deliberately give my sanctified life to God for His service, so that He can use me as His hands and His feet.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
So God spoke to her,
she the poor girl from the village
without learning. 'Play me,'
he said, 'on the white keys
of your body. I have seen you dance
for the bridegrooms that were not
to be, while I waited for you
under the ripening boughs of
the myrtle. These people know me
only in the thin hymns of
the mind, in the arid sermons
and prayers. I am the live God,
nailed fast to the old tree
of a nation by its unreal
tears. I thirst, I thirst
for the spring water. Draw it up
for me from your heart's well and I will change
it to wine upon your unkissed lips.'
The Poems of R.S. Thomas
Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest
For Maimonides, intellectual love of God does not lead to a condition of mystic union in which man transcends the awareness of his humanity. ( Philosophy of Judaism: The History of Jewish Philosophy from Biblical Times to Franz Rosenzweig (English and German Edition) ) Yirah implies that man is conscious of himself as a creature even during moments of intellectual communion. This experience of yirah, which is available to all men and which is an outgrowth of knowledge of God, is interpreted by Maimonides, in the Guide, as describing the way in which the philosophic Jew understands Halakhah: ( MAIMONDES: THE GUIDE OF THE PERPLEXED )
This purpose to which I have drawn your attention is the purpose of all the actions prescribed by the Law.… He, may He be exalted, has explained that the end of the actions prescribed by the whole Law, is to bring about the passion of which it is correct that it be brought about, as we have demonstrated in this chapter for the benefit of those who know the true realities. I refer to the fear of Him, may He be exalted, and the awe before His command. It says: “If you fail to observe faithfully all the terms of this Teaching that are written in this book, to reverence this honored and awesome Name, the Lord your God.”
The philosophic Jew understands Halakhah as providing a life-form for that which is present to all men only during moments of intellection. The awe and humility felt by the philosopher when he encounters God’s majesty results from reflection on God’s wisdom as manifest in nature. For the philosopher who lives by Halakhah, the consciousness of being a creature who lives in the presence of God results from the discipline of the mitzvot. Halakhah continuously sets God before the philosopher.
This essay has attempted to make the reader aware of the mutual interaction of philosophy and Halakhah in Maimonidean thought. The discussion of Maimonides’ treatment of yirah pointed to the influence of philosophy on one’s understanding of Halakhah. At the end of the Guide, Maimonides also suggests that the halakhic consciousness influences the philosophic ideal of intellectual love of God. The concept of teshuvah, which has its source in the Halakhah and which occupies a central place in the Mishneh Torah, defines the philosophic Jew’s response to suffering.
Because of Sinai, the halakhic Jew understands his historical condition through obedience or disobedience to the will of God. Physical suffering is interpreted as a message from God calling one to examine his relationship to Torah:
Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest
The modern Lutheran martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906 -- 45), looked to the life of Jesus Christ to distinguish between "cheap grace" and "costly grace." "Cheap grace," Bonhoeffer wrote in The Cost of Discipleship," is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate."
"Costly grace" stands in stark contrast to this: it "... is costly because it calls us to follow, and is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.”
The Cost of Discipleship
Walking With God
• The Principle of Time: Abraham’s encounters with God as they appear in the altar experiences noted in the Scriptures covered a period of at least 40 years. This is not suggesting that “every five years” God met him on an appointment basis, since eight incidents are in focus. But it should help us to see that a maturing walk with God involves God-given time for growth.
• The Problem of Fear: Abraham’s arrangement with Sarah, that she lie about their relationship whenever they were in a hostile setting that might threaten Abraham’s life, is certainly unbecoming. Yet the patience of God with a fearful man should be noted. In short, the Bible makes clear that God’s ability to build a man of faith is not removed because at earlier points in his walk with Him the man has struggles with fear.
• The Priority of Responsiveness: Abraham’s faith is the product of his readiness to respond to God. Though he is called the “father of faith,” he did not arrive at that title by reason of a grand exercise of mighty spirituality. All he does is simply answer when God calls. Even though he is sometimes apparently fearful and even though his development takes decades within his lifetime, the essence of his faith is in the fact that he responds to God, rather than hides from His call.
Man's Walk with God (Power to Become)
Diligently study the Scriptures. --- John 5:39.
The Sadducees came to our blessed Lord and put to him the question, whose wife that woman should be in the next life who had seven husbands in this. The Sermons of George Whitefield (Two-Volume Set) He told them they erred, not knowing the Scriptures. And if we would know what first caused all the errors that have overspread the church of Christ, we would find that, in a great measure, they flowed from the same fountain, ignorance of the Word of God.
Had the human race continued in a state of innocence, we would not need an outward revelation, because the law of God was written on the human heart. But having eaten the forbidden fruit, [Adam] incurred the displeasure of God and lost the divine image and, therefore, without an external revelation, could never tell how God would be reconciled to him or how he should be saved from the misery and darkness of his fallen nature.
That these truths are so I need not refer you to any other book than your own hearts. For unless we are fallen creatures, of what origin those corruptions that daily arise in our hearts? We could not come thus corrupt out of the hands of our Maker, because he, being goodness, could make nothing but what is like himself—holy, just, and good. And that we want to be delivered from the disorders of our nature is evident, because we are unwilling to admit that we are depraved, and we strive to appear of a quite different frame and temper of mind.
God in his written word shows you how you are fallen into darkness and misery. And, at the same time, he points the way to what you desire, even how you may be redeemed by believing in and copying after the Son of his love.
On these two truths rest all divine revelation: It is given to show [both] our misery and our happiness, our fall and our recovery.
From this cause, then, arises the necessity of searching the Scriptures. Since they are nothing else but the grand charter of our salvation, the revelation of a covenant made by God with people in Christ, and a light to guide us into the way of peace, it follows that all are obliged to read and search them, because all are equally fallen from God. All equally stand in need of being informed how they must be restored to him and again united with him.
--- George Whitefield
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
The Power of a Hero
Never underestimate the influence of your child’s heroes. Sixteen-year-old Francis Xavier moved to France from northern Spain, enrolling in the University of Paris and gained a reputation for being “charming, witty, urbane, athletic, musical, good-looking, successful with women, and somewhat vain … a complete worldling until one day he met … Ignatius Loyola.”*
Loyola sought reformation within the Roman church. Loyola’s convictions so affected Francis that for the rest of his life he knelt when writing to Loyola or reading a reply. Together the two men established the Society of Jesus—the Jesuits—in 1534.
In the late 1530s Loyola and Xavier set off as ministers to Venice where they preached and worked in hospitals. Then with the blessing of Pope John III, Xavier left Europe as a missionary to the Orient. Arriving in India in 1542, he walked throughout the countryside, wearing poor clothing, incessantly ringing a little bell, and calling the inhabitants to turn from paganism to Christ. He focused on the children, advising a coworker, “I earnestly recommend to you the teaching of the children … since the grown-ups have no hankering for Paradise.”
Xavier journeyed on to Japan where he laid aside his rags, put on expensive clothing, and publicly debated Buddhist monks. Numbers of Japanese entered the Christian faith, but Xavier felt that the key to winning Japan was to first win the Chinese; so he set off for China. Waiting for an audience with the Chinese emperor and permission to preach, Xavier developed a fever, weakened and died on December 3, 1552.
Francis Xavier is the father of modern Catholic missions. He started life spoiled, but became one of the most courageous figures in missionary history. He laid the groundwork for the Catholic evangelism of the Orient and did it all in just a ten-year period.
Such is the power of a hero.
Wise friends make you wise, but you hurt yourself by going around with fools. You are in for trouble if you sin, but you will be rewarded if you live right. --- Proverbs 13:20-21.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
God Is In The Manger (Day 7)
God Does Not Want To Frighten People
The Bible never wants to make us fearful. God does not want people to be afraid-not even of the last judgment. Rather, he wants to let human beings know everything, so that they will know all about life and its meaning. He lets people know even today, so that they may already live their lives openly and in the light of the last judgment. He lets us know solely for one reason: so that we may find the way to Jesus Christ, so that we may turn away from our evil way and try to find him, Jesus Christ. God does not want to frighten people. He sends us the word of judgment only so that we will reach all the more passionately, all the more avidly, for the promise of grace, so that we will know that we cannot prevail before God on our own strength, that before him we would have to pass away, but that in spite of every¬thing he does not want our death, but our life... . Christ judges, that is, grace is judge and forgiveness and love-whoever clings to it is already set free.
Repentance means turning away from one's own work to the mercy of God. The whole Bible calls to us and cheers us: Turn back, turn back! Return-where to? To the ever¬lasting grace of God, who does not leave us.... God will be merciful-so come, judgment day! Lord Jesus, make us ready. We rejoice. Amen.'
Bonhoefier's sermon for Repentance
Sunday, November 19, 1933
God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - December 3
“There is no spot in thee.” --- Song of Solomon 4:7.
Having pronounced his Church positively full of beauty, our Lord confirms his praise by a precious negative, “There is no spot in thee.” As if the thought occurred to the Bridegroom that the carping world would insinuate that he had only mentioned her comely parts, and had purposely omitted those features which were deformed or defiled, he sums up all by declaring her universally and entirely fair, and utterly devoid of stain. A spot may soon be removed, and is the very least thing that can disfigure beauty, but even from this little blemish the believer is delivered in his Lord’s sight. If he had said there is no hideous scar, no horrible deformity, no deadly ulcer, we might even then have marvelled; but when he testifies that she is free from the slightest spot, all these other forms of defilement are included, and the depth of wonder is increased. If he had but promised to remove all spots by-and-by, we should have had eternal reason for joy; but when he speaks of it as already done, who can restrain the most intense emotions of satisfaction and delight? O my soul, here is marrow and fatness for thee; eat thy full, and be satisfied with royal dainties.
Christ Jesus has no quarrel with his spouse. She often wanders from him, and grieves his Holy Spirit, but he does not allow her faults to affect his love. He sometimes chides, but it is always in the tenderest manner, with the kindest intentions: it is “my love” even then. There is no remembrance of our follies, he does not cherish ill thoughts of us, but he pardons and loves as well after the offence as before it. It is well for us it is so, for if Jesus were as mindful of injuries as we are, how could he commune with us? Many a time a believer will put himself out of humour with the Lord for some slight turn in providence, but our precious Husband knows our silly hearts too well to take any offence at our ill manners.
Evening - December 3
“The Lord mighty in battle.” --- Psalm 24:8.
Well may our God be glorious in the eyes of his people, seeing that he has wrought such wonders for them, in them, and by them. For them, the Lord Jesus upon Calvary routed every foe, breaking all the weapons of the enemy in pieces by his finished work of satisfactory obedience; by his triumphant resurrection and ascension he completely overturned the hopes of hell, leading captivity captive, making a show of our enemies openly, triumphing over them by his cross. Every arrow of guilt which Satan might have shot at us is broken, for who can lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? Vain are the sharp swords of infernal malice, and the perpetual battles of the serpent’s seed, for in the midst of the church the lame take the prey, and the feeblest warriors are crowned.
The saved may well adore their Lord for his conquests in them, since the arrows of their natural hatred are snapped, and the weapons of their rebellion broken. What victories has grace won in our evil hearts! How glorious is Jesus when the will is subdued, and sin dethroned! As for our remaining corruptions, they shall sustain an equally sure defeat, and every temptation, and doubt, and fear, shall be utterly destroyed. In the Salem of our peaceful hearts, the name of Jesus is great beyond compare: he has won our love, and he shall wear it. Even thus securely may we look for victories by us. We are more than conquerors through him that loved us. We shall cast down the powers of darkness which are in the world, by our faith, and zeal, and holiness; we shall win sinners to Jesus, we shall overturn false systems, we shall convert nations, for God is with us, and none shall stand before us. This Evening let the Christian warrior chant the war song, and prepare for to-morrow’s fight. Greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world.
Morning and Evening
COME, THOU LONG-EXPECTED JESUS
Charles Wesley, 1707–1788
I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come … (Haggai 2:7 KJV
Anticipation is a necessary and important part of every believer’s life. In Old Testament times the people anxiously awaited a Messianic Kingdom. Today we should be waiting with the same urgent expectancy as did the Israelites of old. But our anticipation is the Lord’s second advent—the piercing of the clouds and the sound of the trumpet—when victory over sin and death will be complete and final.
Not only looking, but longing the blessed Lord’s return to greet;
Our crowns of glory to gather and cast them with joy at His feet,
Not only waiting, but watching, wistfully scanning the skies;
Anticipating that daybreak when the world’s true Sun shall arise.
The Old Testament prophecies were very specific concerning our Lord’s first advent. The prophets gave the exact location of His birth (Micah 5:2) as well as the sign that He would be virgin born (Isaiah 7:14). Likewise the New Testament gives clear instructions regarding the second advent: “There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations … and when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth near” (Luke 21:25–28 KJV).
“Come, Thou Long-expected Jesus” is another of the more than 6,500 hymns written by Charles Wesley. It was first published in 1744 in a small collection of 18 poems titled Hymns for the Nativity of Our Lord. The vibrant “Hyfrydol” tune was composed by a 20-year-old Welshman, Rowland H. Prichard, in about 1830. The tune means “good cheer.” It has been used with many of our popular hymns.
Just as Christ’s birth 2,000 years ago dramatically changed the course of human history, so will the return of our Lord as the King of kings. With the saints of the ages we pray, “Come, Thou Long-expected Jesus.”
Come, thou long-expected Jesus, born to set Thy people free; from our fears and sins release us: Let us find our rest in Thee; Israel’s Strength and Consolation, hope of all the earth thou art; dear Desire of ev’ry nation, joy of ev’ry longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver, born a child and yet a King; born to reign in us forever, now Thy gracious Kingdom bring. By Thine own eternal Spirit rule in all our hearts alone; by Thine all sufficient merit, raise us to Thy glorious throne.
For Today: Isaiah 9:6, 7; Daniel 7:13, 14; Matthew 1:22, 23; Luke 1:32–35
Rejoice in the truth that God’s eternal promises are unchangeable: Christ was born and He will return. Sing this truth as you go ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Third Use is of exhortation.
1. How should we endeavor after the enjoyment of God as good! How earnestly should we desire him! As there is no other goodness worthy of our supreme love, so there is no other goodness worthy our most ardent thirst. Nothing deserves the name of a desirable good, but as it tends to the attainment of this: here we must pitch our desires, which otherwise will terminate in nullities or inconceivable disturbances.
(1.) Consider, nothing but good can be the object of a rational appetite. The will cannot direct its motion to anything under the notion of evil, evil in itself, or evil to it; whatsoever courts it must present itself in the quality of a good in its own nature, or in its present circumstances to the present state and condition of the desire; it will not else touch or affect the will. This is the language of that faculty: “Who will show me any good?” (Psalm 4:6), and good is as inseparably the object of the will’s motion, as truth is of the understanding’s inquiry. Whatsoever a man would allure another to comply with, he must propose to the person under the notion of some beneficialness to him in point of honor, profit, or pleasure. To act after this manner is the proper character of a rational creature; and though that which is evil is often embraced instead of that which is good, and what we entertain as conducing to our felicity proves our misfortune, yet that is from our ignorance, and not from a formal choice of it as evil; for what evil is chosen it is not possible to choose under the conception of evil, but under the appearance of a good, though it be not so in reality. It is inseparable from the wills of all men to propose to themselves that which in the opinion and judgment of their understandings or imagination is good, though they often mistake and cheat themselves.
(2.) Since that good is the object of a rational appetite, the purest, best, and most universal good, such as God is, ought to be most sought after. Since good only is the object of a rational appetite, all the motions of our souls should be carried to the first and best good: a real good is most desirable; the greatest excellency of the creatures cannot speak them so, since, by the corruption of man, they are “subjected to vanity” (Rom. 8:20). God is the most excellent good without any shadow; a real something without that nothing which every creature hath in its nature (Isa. 40:17). A perfect good can only give us content: the best goodness in the creature is but slender and imperfect; had not the venom of corruption infused a vanity into it, the make of it speaks it finite, and the best qualities in it are bounded, and cannot give satisfaction to a rational appetite which bears in its nature an imitation of Divine infiniteness, and therefore can never find an eternal rest in mean trifles. God is above the imperfection of all creatures; creatures are but drops of goodness, at best but shallow streams; God is like a teeming ocean, that can fill the largest as well as the narrowest creek. He hath an accumulative goodness; several creatures answer several necessities, but one God can answer all our wants: he hath an universal fulness, to overtop our universal emptiness: he contains in himself the sweetness of all other goods, and holds in his bosom plentifully what creatures have in their natures sparingly. Creatures are uncertain goods; as they begin to exist, so they may cease to be; they may be gone with a breath, they will certainly languish if God blows upon them (Isa. 40:24): the same breath that raised them can blast them; but who can rifle God of the least part of his excellency? Mutability is inherent in the nature of every creature, as a creature. All sublunary things are as gourds, that refresh us one moment with their presence, and the next fret us with their absence; like fading flowers, strutting to-day, and drooping to-morrow (Isa. 40:6): while we possess them, we cannot clip their wings, that may carry them away from us, and may make us vainly seek what we thought we firmly held. But God is as permanent a good as he is a real one: he hath wings to fly to them that seek him, but no wings to fly from them forever, and leave them. God is an universal good; that which is good to one may be evil to another; what is desirable by one may be refused as inconvenient for another: but God being an universal, unstained good, is useful for all, convenient to the natures of all but such as will continue in enmity against him. There is nothing in God can displease a soul that desires to please him; when we are in darkness, he is a light to scatter it; when we are in want, he hath riches to relieve us; when we are in spiritual death, he is a Prince of life to deliver us; when we are defiled, he is holiness to purify us: it is in vain to fix our hearts anywhere but on him, in the desire of whom there is a delight, and in the enjoyment of whom there is an inconceivable pleasure.
(3.) He is most to be sought after, since all things else that are desirable had their goodness from him. If anything be desirable because of its goodness, God is much more desirable because of his, since all things are good by a participation, and nothing good but by his print upon it: as what being creatures have was derived to them by God, so what goodness they are possessed with they were furnished with it by God; all goodness flowed from him, and all created goodness is summed up in him. The streams should not terminate our appetite without aspiring to the fountain. If the waters in the channel, which receive mixture, communicate a plea, sure, the taste of the fountain must be much more delicious; that original Perfection of all things hath an inconceivable beauty above those things it hath framed. Since those things live not by their own strength, nor nourish us by their own liberality, but by the “word of God” (Matt. 4:4), that God that speaks them into life, and speaks them into usefulness, should be most ardently desired as the best. If the sparkling glory of the visible heavens delight us, and the beauty and bounty of the earth please and refresh us, what should be the language of our souls upon those views and tastes but that of the Psalmist, “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I can desire beside thee” (Psalm 73:25). No greater good can possibly be desired, and no less good should be ardently desired. As he is the supreme good, so we should bear that regard to him as supremely, and above all, to thirst for him: as he is good, he is the object of desire; as the choicest and first goodness, he is desirable with the greatest vehemency. “Give me children, or else I die” (Gen. 30:1), was an uncomely speech; the one was granted, and the other inflicted; she had children, but the last cost her her life: but, Give me God, or I will not be content, is a gracious speech, wherein we cannot miscarry; all that God demands of us is, that we should long for him, and look for our happiness only in him. That is the first thing, endeavor after the enjoyment of God as good.
2. Often meditate on the goodness of God. What was man produced for, but to settle his thoughts upon this? What should have been Adam’s employment in innocence, but to read over all the lines of nature, and fix his contemplations on that good hand that drew them? What is man endued with reason for, above all other animals, but to take notice of this goodness spread over all the creatures, which they themselves, though they felt it, could not have such a sense of as to make answerable returns to their Benefactor? Can we satisfy ourselves in being spectators of it, and enjoyers of it, only in such a manner as the brutes are? The beasts behold things as well as we, they feel the warm beams of this goodness as well as we, but without any reflection upon the Author of them. Shall Divine blessings meet with no more from us but a brutish view and beholding of them? What is more just, than to spend a thought upon Him who hath enlarged his hand in so many benefits to us? Are we indebted to any more than we are to him? Why should we send our souls to visit anything more than him in his works? That we are able to meditate on him is a part of his goodness to us, who hath bestowed that capacity upon us; and, if we will not, it is a great part of our ingratitude. Can anything more delightful enter into us, than that of the kind and gracious disposition of that God who first brought us out of the abyss of an unhappy nothing, and hath hitherto spread his wings over us? Where can we meet with a nobler object than Divine goodness? and what nobler work can be practised by us than to consider it? What is more sensible in all the operations of his hands than his skill, as they are considered in themselves, and his goodness, as they are considered in relation to us? It is strange that we should miss the thoughts of it; that we should look upon this earth, and everything in it, and yet overlook that which it is most full of, viz. Divine goodness (Psalm 33:5); it runs through the whole web of the world; all is framed and diversified by goodness; it is one entire single goodness, which appears in various garbs and dresses in every part of the creation. Can we turn our eyes inward, and send our eyes outward, and see nothing of a Divinity in both worthy of our deepest and seriousest thoughts? Is there anything in the world we can behold, but we see his bounty, since nothing was made but is one way or other beneficial to us? Can we think of our daily food, but we must have some reflecting thoughts on our great Caterer? Can the sweetness of the creature to our palate obscure the sweetness of the Provider to our minds? It is strange that we should be regardless of that wherein every creature without us, and every sense within us and about us, is a tutor to instruct us! Is it not reason we should think of the times wherein we were nothing, and from thence run back to a never-begun eternity, and view ourselves in the thoughts of that goodness, to be in time brought forth upon this stage, as we are at present? Can we consider but one act of our understandings, but one thought, one blossom, one spark of our souls mounting upwards, and not reflect upon the goodness of God to us, who, in that faculty that sparkles out rational thoughts, has advanced us to a nobler state, and endued us with a nobler principle, than all the creatures we see on earth, except those of our own rank and kind?
Can we consider but one foolish thought, one sinful act, and reflect upon the guilt and filth of it, and not behold goodness in sparing us, and miracles of goodness in sending his Son to die for us, for the expiation of it? This perfection cannot well be out of our thoughts, or at least it is horrible it should, when it is writ in every line of the creation, and in a legible rubric, in bloody letters, in the cross of his Son. Let us think with ourselves, how often he hath multiplied his blessings, when we did deserve his wrath! how he hath sent one unexpected benefit upon the heel of another, to bring us with a swift pace the tidings of good-will to us! how often hath he delivered us from a disease that had the arrows of death in its hand ready to pierce us! how often hath he turned our fears into joys, and our distempers into promoters of our felicity! how often hath he mated a temptation, sent seasonable supplies in the midst of a sore distress, and prevented many dangers which we could not be so sensible of, because we were, in a great measure, ignorant of them! How should we meditate upon his goodness to our souls, in preventing some sins, in pardoning others, in darting upon us the knowledge of his gospel, and of himself, in the face of his Son Christ! This seems to stick much upon the spirit of Paul, since he doth so often sprinkle his epistles with the titles of the “grace of God, riches of grace, unsearchable riches of God, riches of glory,” and cannot satisfy himself, with the extolling of it. Certainly, we should bear upon our heart a deep and quick sense of this perfection; as it was the design of God to manifest it, so it would be acceptable to God for us to have a sense of it: a dull receiver of his blessings is no less nauseous to him than a dull dispenser of his alms; he loves a “cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7); he doth himself what he loves in others; he is cheerful in giving, and he loves we should be serious in thinking of him, and have a right apprehension and sense of his goodness.
(1.) A right sense of his goodness would dispose us to an ingenuous worship of God. It would damp our averseness to any act of religion; what made David so resolute and ready to “worship towards his holy temple” but the sense of his “loving kindness?” (Psalm 138:2). This would render him always in our mind a worthy object of our devotion, a stable prop of our confidence. We should then adore him, when we consider him as “our God,” and ourselves as “the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand” (Psalm 95:7): we should send up prayers with strong faith and feeling, and praises with great joy and pleasure. The sense of his goodness would make us love him, and our love to him would quicken our adoration of him; but if we regard not this, we shall have no mind to think of him, no mind to act anything towards him; we may tremble at his presence, but not heartily worship him; we shall rather look upon him as a tyrant, and think no other affection due to him than what we reserve for an oppressor, viz. hatred and ill-will.
(2.) A sense of it will keep us humble. A sense of it would effect that for which itself was intended; viz. bring us to a repentance for our crimes, and not suffer us to harden ourselves against him. When we should deeply consider how he hath made the sun to shine upon us, and his rain to fall upon the earth for our support; the one to supple the earth, and the other to assist the juice of it to bring forth fruits; how would it reflect upon us our ill requitals, and make us hang down our heads before him in a low posture, pleasing to him, and advantageous to ourselves! What would the first charge be upon ourselves, but what Moses brings in his expostulation against the Israelites (Deut. 32:6): “Do I thus requite the Lord?” What is this goodness for me, who am so much below him; for me, who have so much incensed him; for me, who have so much abused what he hath allowed? It would bring to remembrance the horror of our crimes, and set us a blushing before him, when we should consider the multitude of his benefits, and our unworthy behaviour, that hath not constrained him even against the inclination of his goodness, to punish us: how little should we plead for a further liberty in sin, or palliate our former faults! When we set Divine goodness in one column, and our transgressions in another, and compare together their several items, it would fill us with a deep consciousness of our own guilt, and divest us of any worth of our own in our approaches to him; it would humble us, that we cannot love so obliging a God as much as he deserves to be loved by us; it would make us humble before men. Who would be proud of a mere gift which he knows he hath not merited? How ridiculous would that servant be, that should be proud of a rich livery, which is a badge of his service, not a token of his merit, but of his master’s magnificence and bounty, which, though he wear this day, he may be stripped of to-morrow, and be turned out of his master’s family!
(3.) A sense of the Divine goodness would make us faithful to him. The goodness of God obligeth us to serve him, not to offend him; the freeness of his goodness should make us more ready to contribute to the advancement of his glory. When we consider the benefits of a friend proceed out of kindness to us, and not out of self ends and vain applause, it works more upon us, and makes us more careful of the honor of such a person. It is a pure bounty God hath manifested in creation and providence, which could not be for himself, who, being blessed forever, wanted nothing from us: it was not to draw a profit from us, but to impart an advantage to us; “Our goodness extends not to him” (Psalm 16:2). The service of the benefactor is but a rational return for benefits; whence Nehemiah aggravates the sins of the Jews (Neh. 9:35): “They have not served thee in thy great goodness that thou gavest them;” i. e. which thou didst freely bestow upon them. How should we dare to spend upon our lusts that which we possess, if we considered by whose liberality we came by it? how should we dare to be unfaithful in the goods he hath made us trustees of? A deep sense of Divine goodness will ennoble the creature, and make it act for the most glorious and noble end; it would strike Satan’s temptation dead at a blow; it would pull off the false mask and vizor from what he presents to us, to draw us from the service of our Benefactor; we could not, with a sense of this, think him kinder to us than God hath, and will be, which is the great motive of men to join hands with him, and turn their backs upon God.
(4.) A sense of the Divine goodness would make us patient under our miseries. A deep sense of this would make us give God the honor of his goodness in whatsover he doth, though the reason of his actions be not apparent to us, nor the event and issue of his proceedings foreseen by us. It is a stated case, that goodness can never intend ill, but designs good in all its acts “to them that love God” (Rom. 8:28): nay, he always designs the best; when he bestows anything upon his people, he sees it best they should have it; and when he removes anything from them, he sees it best they should lose it. When we have lost a thing we loved, and refuse to be comforted, a sense of this perfection, which acts God in all, would keep us from misjudging our sufferings, and measuring the intention of the hand that sent them, by the sharpness of what we feel. What patient, fully persuaded of the affection of the physician, would not value him, though that which is given to purge out the humors, racks his bowels? When we lose what we love, perhaps it was some outward lustre tickled our apprehensions, and we did not see the viper we would have harmed ourselves by; but God seeing it, snatched it from us, and we mutter as if he had been cruel, and deprived us of the good we imagined, when he was kind to us, and freed us from the hurt we should certainly have felt. We should regard that which in goodness he takes from us, at no other rate than some gilded poison and lurking venom; the sufferings of men, though upon high provocations, are often followed with rich mercies, and many times are intended as preparations for greater goodness. When God utters that rhetoric of his bowels, “How shall I give thee up, O Ephraim, I will not execute the fierceness of my anger!” (Hos. 11:8), he intended them mercy in their captivity, and would prepare them by it, to walk after the Lord. And it is likely the posterity of those ten tribes were the first that ran to God, upon the publishing the gospel in the places where they lived; he doth not take away himself when he takes away outward comforts; while he snatcheth away the rattles we play with, he hath a breast in himself for us to suck. The consideration of his goodness would dispose us to a composed frame of spirit. If we are sick, it is goodness, it is a disease, and not a hell. It is goodness, that it is a cloud, and not a total darkness. What if he transfers from us what we have? he takes no more than what his goodness first imparted to us; and never takes so much from his people as his goodness leaves them if he strips them of their lives, he leaves them their souls, with those faculties he furnished them with at first, and removes them from those houses of clay to a richer mansion. The time of our sufferings here, were it the whole course of our life, bears not the proportion of a moment to that endless eternity wherein he hath designed to manifest his goodness to us. The consideration of Divine goodness would teach us to draw a calm even from storms, and distil balsam from rods. If the reproofs of the righteous be an excellent oil (Psalm 145:5), we should not think the corrections of a good God to have a less virtue.
(5.) A sense of the Divine goodness would mount us above the world. It would damp our appetites after meaner things; we should look upon the world not as a God, but a gift from God, and never think the present better than the Donor. We should never he soaking in muddy puddles were we always filled with a sense of the richness and clearness of this Fountain, wherein we might bathe ourselves; little petty particles of good would give us no content, when we were sensible of such an unbounded ocean. Infinite goodness, rightly apprehended, would dull our desires after other things, and sharpen them with a keener edge after that which is best of all. How earnestly do we long for the presence of a friend, of whose good will towards us we have full experience.
(6.) It would check any motions of envy: it would make us joy in the prosperity of good men, and hinder us from envying the outward felicity of the wicked. We should not dare with an evil eye to censure his good hand (Matt. 20:15), but approve of what he thinks fit to do, both in the matter of his liberality and the subjects he chooseth for it. Though if the disposal were in our hands, we should not imitate him, as not thinking them subjects fit for our bounty; yet since it is in his hands, we be to approve of his actions and not have an ill will towards him for his goodness, or towards those he is pleased to make the subject of it. Since all his doles are given to “invite man to repentance” (Rom. 2:4), to envy them those goods God hath bestowed upon them, is to envy God the glory of his own goodness, and them the felicity those things might move them to aspire to; it is to wish God more contracted, and thy neighbor more miserable: but a deep sense of his sovereign goodness would make us rejoice in any marks of it upon others, and move us to bless him instead of censuring him.
(7.) It would make us thankful. What can be the most proper, the most natural reflection, when we behold the most magnificent characters he hath imprinted upon our souls; the conveniency of the members he hath compacted in our bodies, but a praise of him? Such motion had David upon the first consideration: “I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). What could be the most natural reflection, when we behold the rich prerogatives of our natures above other creatures, the provision he hath made for us for our delight in the beauties of heaven, for our support in the creatures on earth? What can reasonably be expected from uncorrupted man, to be the first motion of his soul, but an extolling the bountiful hand of the invisible donor, whoever he be? This would make us venture at some endeavors of a grateful acknowledgment, though we should despair of rendering anything proportionable to the greatness of the benefit; and such an acknowledgment of our own weakness would be an acceptable part of our gratitude. Without a due and deep sense of Divine goodness, our praise of it, and thankfulness for it, will be but cold, formal, and customary; our tongues may bless him, and our heart slight him: and this will lead us to the third exhortation:
3. Which is that of thankfulness for Divine goodness. The absolute goodness of God, as it is the excellency of his nature, is the object of praise: the relative goodness of God, as he is our benefactor, is the object of thankfulness. This was always a debt due from man to God; he had obligations in the time of his integrity, and was then to render it; he is not less, but more obliged to it in the state of corruption; the benefits being the greater, by how much the more unworthy he is of them by reason of his revolt. The bounty bestowed upon an enemy that merits the contrary, ought to be received with a greater resentment than that bestowed on a friend, who is not unworthy of testimonies of respect. Gratitude to God is the duty of every creature that hath a sense of itself; the more excellent being any enjoy the more devout ought to be the acknowledgment. How often doth David stir up, not only himself, but summon all creatures, even the insensible ones, to join in the concert! He calls to the “deeps, fire, hail, snow, mountains and hills,” to bear a part in this work of praise (Psalm 148); not that they are able to do it actively, but to show that man is to call in the whole creation to assist him passively, and should have so much charity to all creatures, as to receive what they offer, and so much affection to God, as to present to him what he receives from him. Snow and hail cannot bless and praise God, but man ought to praise God for those things wherein there is a mixture of trouble and inconvenience, something to molest our sense, as well as something that improves the earth for fruit. This God requires of us: for this he instituted several offerings, and required a little portion of fruits to be presented to him, as an acknowledgment they held the whole from his bounty. And the end of the festival days among the Jews was to revive the memory of those signal acts wherein his power for them, and his goodness to them, had been extraordinarily evident; it is no more but our mouths to praise him, and our hand to obey him, that he exacts at our hands. He commands us not to expend what he allows us in the erecting stately temples to his honor; all the coin he requires to be paid with for his expense is the “offering of thanksgiving” (Psalm 50:14): and this we ought to do as much as we can, since we cannot do it as much as he merits, for “who can show forth all his praise?” (Psalm 106:2.) If we have the fruit of his goodness, it is fit he should have the “fruit of our lips” (Heb. 13:15): the least kindness should inflame our souls with a kindly resentment. Though some of his benefits have a brighter, some a darker, aspect towards us, yet they all come from this common spring; his goodness shines in all; there are the footsteps of goodness in the least, as well as the smiles of goodness in the greatest; the meanest therefore is not to pass without a regard of the Author. As the glory of God is more illustrious in some creatures than in others, yet it glitters in all, and the lowest as well as the highest administers matter of praise; but they are not only little things, but the choicer favors he has bestowed upon us. How much doth it deserve our acknowledgment, that he should contrive our recovery, when we had plotted our ruin! that when he did from eternity behold the crimes wherewith we would incense him, he should not, according to the rights of justice, cast us into hell, but prize us at the rate of the blood and life of his only Son, in value above the blood of men and lives of angels!
How should we bless that God, that we have yet a gospel among us, that we are not driven into the utmost regions, that we can attend upon him in the face of the sun, and not forced to the secret obscurities of the night! Whatsoever we enjoy, whatsoever we receive, we must own him as the Donor, and read his hand in it. Rob him not of any praise to give to an instrument. No man hath wherewithal to do us good, nor a heart to do us good, nor opportunities of benefitting us without him. When the cripple received the soundness of his limbs from Peter, he praised the hand that sent it, not the hand that brought it (Acts 3:6): he “praised God” (ver. 8). When we want anything that is good, let the goodness of Divine nature move us to David’s practice, to “thirst after God” (Psalm 42:1): and when we feel the motions of his goodness to us, let us imitate the temper of the same holy man (Psalm 103:2): “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” It is an unworthy carriage to deal with him as a traveller doth with a fountain, kneel down to drink of it when he is thirsty, and turn his back upon it, and perhaps never think of it more after he is satisfied.
4. And, lastly, Imitate this goodness of God. If his goodness hath such an influence upon us as to make us love him, it will also move us with an ardent zeal to imitate him in it. Christ makes this use from the doctrine of Divine goodness (Matt. 5:44, 45): “Do good to them that hate you, that you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven; for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good.” As holiness is a resemblance of God’s purity, so charity is a resemblance of God’s goodness; and this our Saviour calls perfection (ver. 48): “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father, which is in heaven, is perfect.” As God would not be a perfect God without goodness, so neither can any be a perfect Christian without kindness; charity and love being the splendor and loveliness of all Christian graces, as goodness is the splendor and loveliness of all Divine attributes. This and holiness are ordered in the Scripture to be the grand patterns of our imitation. Imitate the goodness of God in two things.
(1.) In relieving and assisting others in distress. Let our heart be as large in the capacity of creatures, as God’s is in the capacity of a Creator. A large heart from him to us, and a strait heart from us to others, will not suit: let us not think any so far below us as to be unworthy of our care, since God thinks none that are infinitely distant from him too mean for his. His infinite glory mounts him above the creature, but his infinite goodness stoops him to the meanest works of his hands. As he lets not the transgressions of prosperity pass without punishment, so he lets not the distress of his afflicted people pass him without support. Shall God provide for the ease of beasts, and shall not we have some tenderness towards those that are of the same blood with ourselves, and have as good blood to boast of as runs in the veins of the mightiest monarch on earth; and as mean, and as little as they are, can lay claim to as ancient a pedigree as the stateliest prince in the world, who cannot ascend to ancestors beyond Adam? Shall we glut ourselves with Divine beneficence to us, and wear his livery only on our own backs, forgetting the afflictions of some dear Joseph; when God, who hath an unblemished felicity in his own nature, looks out of himself to view and relieve the miseries of poor creatures? Why hath God increased the doles of his treasures to some more than others? Was it merely for themselves, or rather that they might have a bottom to attain the honor of imitating him? Shall we embezzle his goods to our own use, as if we were absolute proprietors, and not stewards entrusted for others? Shall we make a difficulty to part with something to others, out of that abundance he hath bestowed upon any of us? Did not his goodness strip his Son of the glory of heaven for a time to enrich us? and shall we shrug when we are to part with a little to pleasure him? It is not very becoming for any to be backward in supplying the necessities of others with a few morsels, who have had the happiness to have had their greatest necessities supplied with his Son’s blood. He demands not that we should strip ourselves of all for others, but of a pittance, something of superfluity, which will turn more to our account than what is vainly and unprofitably consumed on our backs and bellies. If he hath given much to any of us, it is rather to lay aside part of the income for his service; else we would monopolize Divine goodness to ourselves, and seem to distrust under our present experiments his future kindness, as though the last thing he gave us was attended with this language, Hoard up this, and expect no more from me; use it only to the glutting your avarice, and feeding your ambition: which would be against the whole scope of Divine goodness. If we do not endeavor to write after the comely copy he hath set us, we may provoke him to harden himself against us, and in wrath bestow that on the fire, or on our enemies, which his goodness hath imparted to us for his glory, and the supplying the necessities of poor creatures. And, on the contrary, he is so delighted with this kind of imitation of him, that a cup of cold water, when there is no more to be done, shall not be unrewarded.
(2.) Imitate God in his goodness, in a kindness to our worst enemies. The best man is more unworthy to receive anything from God than the worst can be to receive from us. How kind is God to those that blaspheme him, and gives them the same sun, and the same showers, that he doth to the best men in the world! Is it not more our glory to imitate God in “doing good to those that hate us,” than to imitate the men of the world in requiting evil, by a return of a sevenfold mischief? This would be a goodness which would vanquish the hearts of men, and render us greater than Alexanders and Cæsars, who did only triumph over miserable carcasses; yea, it is to triumph over ourselves in being good against the sentiments of corrupt nature. Revenge makes us slaves to our passions, as much as the offenders, and good returns render us victorious over our adversaries (Rom. 12:21): “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” When we took up our arms against God, his goodness contrived not our ruin, but our recovery: This is such a goodness of God as could not be discovered in an innocent state; while man had continued in his duty, he could not have been guilty of an enmity; and God could not but affect him, unless he had denied himself: so this of being good to our enemies could never have been practised in a state of rectitude; since, where was a perfect innocence, there could be no spark of enmity to one another. It can be no disparagement to any man’s dignity to cast his influences on his greatest opposers, since God, who acts for his own glory, thinks not himself disparaged by sending forth the streams of his bounty on the wickedest persons, who are far meaner to him than those of the same blood can be to us. Who hath the worse thoughts of the sun, for shining upon the earth, that sends up vapors to cloud it? it can be no disgrace to resemble God; if his hand and bowels be open to us, let not ours be shut to any.
The Existence and Attributes of God