Romans 1 - 3
GreetingRomans 1:1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,
7 To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Longing to Go to Rome8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
The Righteous Shall Live by Faith16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
God’s Righteous JudgmentRomans 2:1 Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. 2 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 3 Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.
6 He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. 9 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality.
God’s Judgment and the Law12 For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.
17 But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God 18 and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; 19 and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
25 For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. 26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. 28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.
God’s Righteousness UpheldRomans 3:1 Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? 2 Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. 3 What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? 4 By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written,
“That you may be justified in your words,
and prevail when you are judged.”
No One Is Righteous9 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
The Righteousness of God Through Faith21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.
What I'm Reading
Subordination in Scripture: κεφαλή in 1 Corinthians 11:3
By Alastair Roberts 11/22/16
Perhaps the text that is closest to the heart of the ESS (eternal subordination of the Son) debate is found in 1 Corinthians 11:3. The prominence of this text is in large measure due to the manner in which it supposedly provides the basis for a connection between the relationship between the Father and the Son and that which exists between the man and the woman. While this apparent parallel has previously provided for some a helpful analogy by which to resist the charge that complementarian theology maintains the inequality of the sexes, more recently this analogy has come to assume a greater theological centrality and to bear more theological weight.
As this text has increasingly become architectonically foundational to the complementarian edifice for many, a great deal of effort has been required to shore it up against challenge. Wayne Grudem stands out as someone who has particularly worked to reinforce and tighten the bond between each element of this complementarian use of the text: he has written at length on the relations of authority and submission between man and woman, has argued for such relations in the Trinity, and has extensively treated the meaning of the Greek word κεφαλή (typically translated 'head') in this and other key verses, insisting that it has the import of 'one in authority (over)'.
At such points, the exegete is at considerable risk of being blown off course by the crosswinds of the gender debates. I do not believe it accidental that gender debates have increasingly come to focus upon the questions concerning the meanings, not just of particular proof-texts, but of isolated words and phrases. Slight differences in translation are used to justify remarkably different accounts of appropriate relations between the sexes. Different sides of the debates can construct vast theological edifices upon the slender pinnacles of terms such asכנגדו עזר in Genesis 2:18 or התשוק in Genesis 3:16, for instance.
This can occur for various reasons. For some, it accompanies the attempt to kick the debate into the long grass of hopelessly contestable exegesis, thereby preventing Scripture from playing a deciding role in our conversations. When so many interpretations are floating around, Scripture can no longer arbitrate and personal choice--with its tendentious, eccentric, and often wilful readings of particular texts and terms--steps in to take its place.
For others, it results from the desire for incontrovertible readings that can decide the gender debates in our favour, or for proof-texts that will serve as a foundation for our systems. When our reading of Scripture is framed by controversy, we can easily be tempted to focus our efforts upon looking for unambiguous and explicit scriptural propositions, proof-text pillars for the superstructure of our theological positions. This quest is frequently misguided and unhelpful. It has the tendency to concentrate weight that should be more widely distributed. The strength of biblical teaching lies less in a number of large and visible proof-text trunks than in the deep and extensive root system of scriptural narrative and intertextuality beneath them. Cut off from this root system, proof-text trunks can easily be toppled. Furthermore, Scripture rarely forces its meanings upon those wilfully resistant to it, even though those with ears and hearts to hear will do so.
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My name is Alastair Roberts. I currently reside in the north of England. In addition to the subjects mentioned above, I am passionate about word games, English cricket, cathedral cities, long walks, and second hand bookstores.
A Prelude to Joy: A Thanksgiving Meditation
By Nathan Rittenhouse 11/23/16
I recently attended the birthday party of a little girl who was too young to read the notes written on her presents. She did not know which gifts came from which guests. I watched as she conferred with the adult beside her to determine who had given her each package. She then searched for the giver to thank them before opening the present. She seemed to have an inherent trust in the givers, assuming that the gifts were good and worthy of gratitude before knowing the contents.
This childish gratitude inspired me to consider the orientation of my heart and mind as I approach Thanksgiving. The simple truth is that in order to be grateful we must first acknowledge that we have been given a gift.
Our inability to see a giver behind our gifts leaves us with a temperament that gravitates toward complaint. Some complaints are legitimate, and others tempt us to complain about complainers. Complaint derives from not getting what we feel we deserve. The opposite of complaining is gratitude: acknowledging that we received something good that we did not deserve. There are ample reasons for sorrow, but we can quickly convince ourselves to despair if we consistently fail to see the good gifts scattered among the wreckage of our world.
One morning several months ago, I was feeling emotionally and spiritually sluggish. My suspicion was that I had a vitamin deficiency of gratitude, so I took my wife on a tour of our home and pointed out everything that we had been given. The gifts ranged from artwork, to kitchenware, to our favorite books and sporting equipment. The value was not just in the items, but in the fact that they reminded us of people who had invested in our lives. The gifts simply reminded us of the givers. Physical objects were not the only things that we had been given. There were also things that we were able to buy because we had been given the opportunity to work. We also own things that we have made because, for this moment, we have been given the good health to work with our hands. When you see everything you have as a gift, your perspective begins to change, and a strange sensation emerges. I call it joy.
It is a tragic situation when a gift has been given out of love, but the receiver does not know who gave it, or worst yet, does not care. In the case of a little girl at a birthday party, the search for the giver is easy. However, there are those in this world with a sense of thanksgiving without knowing whom to be thankful to. Millions of people this week will be thanks-givers, without slowing to ponder the identity of the Thanks-Receiver. We are temporarily thankful for the turkey on Thursday that will fuel our shopping sprees on Friday. We will buy more things at the suggestion of a consumer culture that tells us we actually do not have enough. We have thus commercialized the antithesis of the meaning of the holiday and distracted ourselves from asking the big questions of life that derive from being thankful. I am not suggesting that we should not shop. What I am saying is that we should keep in mind the old doxology “Praise God from whom all blessings flow” and delight not only in the gifts we have been given, but also in the knowledge that the Giver has made Himself known. Take a moment to be still and thank God.
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Nathan has interests in topics of science and religion, church history, and systematic theology. He grew up in an active church and Christian family and developed an enthusiasm for Christ that has intensified with his academic studies. As a student, Nathan refreshed his mind by running track and cross-country and continues to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities with his wife and kids.
Nathan spent the last three years traveling and speaking in universities throughout New England, and is currently focusing on the Mid-Atlantic region.
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
THE TESTIMONY OF THE SPIRIT NECESSARY TO GIVE FULL AUTHORITY TO SCRIPTURE. THE IMPIETY OF PRETENDING THAT THE CREDIBILITY OF SCRIPTURE DEPENDS ON THE JUDGMENT OF THE CHURCH.
1. The authority of Scripture derived not from men, but from the Spirit of God. Objection, That Scripture depends on the decision of the Church. Refutation, I. The truth of God would thus be subjected to the will of man. II. It is insulting to the Holy Spirit. III. It establishes a tyranny in the Church. IV. It forms a mass of errors. V. It subverts conscience. VI. It exposes our faith to the scoffs of the profane.
2. Another reply to the objection drawn from the words of the Apostle Paul. Solution of the difficulties started by opponents. A second objection refuted.
3. A third objection founded on a sentiment of Augustine considered.
4. Conclusion, That the authority of Scripture is founded on its being spoken by God. This confirmed by the conscience of the godly, and the consent of all men of the least candour. A fourth objection common in the mouths of the profane. Refutation.
5. Last and necessary conclusion, That the authority of Scripture is sealed on the hearts of believers by the testimony of the Holy Spirit. The certainty of this testimony. Confirmation of it from a passage of Isaiah, and the experience of believers. Also, from another passage of Isaiah.
1. Before proceeding farther, it seems proper to make some observations on the authority of Scripture, in order that our minds may not only be prepared to receive it with reverence, but be divested of all doubt.
When that which professes to be the Word of God is acknowledged to be so, no person, unless devoid of common sense and the feelings of a man, will have the desperate hardihood to refuse credit to the speaker. But since no daily responses are given from heaven, and the Scriptures are the only records in which God has been pleased to consign his truth to perpetual remembrance, the full authority which they ought to possess with the faithful is not recognised, unless they are believed to have come from heaven, as directly as if God had been heard giving utterance to them. This subject well deserves to be treated more at large, and pondered more accurately. But my readers will pardon me for having more regard to what my plan admits than to what the extent of this topic requires.
A most pernicious error has very generally prevailed--viz. that Scripture is of importance only in so far as conceded to it by the suffrage of the Church; as if the eternal and inviolable truth of God could depend on the will of men. With great insult to the Holy Spirit, it is asked, who can assure us that the Scriptures proceeded from God; who guarantee that they have come down safe and unimpaired to our times; who persuade us that this book is to be received with reverence, and that one expunged from the list, did not the Church regulate all these things with certainty? On the determination of the Church, therefore, it is said, depend both the reverence which is due to Scripture, and the books which are to be admitted into the canon. Thus profane men, seeking, under the pretext of the Church, to introduce unbridled tyranny, care not in what absurdities they entangle themselves and others, provided they extort from the simple this one acknowledgement--viz. that there is nothing which the Church cannot do. But what is to become of miserable consciences in quest of some solid assurance of eternal life, if all the promises with regard to it have no better support than man's Judgment? On being told so, will they cease to doubt and tremble? On the other hand, to what jeers of the wicked is our faith subjected--into how great suspicion is it brought with all, if believed to have only a precarious authority lent to it by the good will of men?
2. These ravings are admirably refuted by a single expression of an apostle. Paul testifies that the Church is "built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets," (Eph. 2:20). If the doctrine of the apostles and prophets is the foundation of the Church, the former must have had its certainty before the latter began to exist. Nor is there any room for the cavil, that though the Church derives her first beginning from thence, it still remains doubtful what writings are to be attributed to the apostles and prophets, until her Judgment is interposed. For if the Christian Church was founded at first on the writings of the prophets, and the preaching of the apostles, that doctrine, wheresoever it may be found, was certainly ascertained and sanctioned antecedently to the Church, since, but for this, the Church herself never could have existed.  Nothings therefore can be more absurd than the fiction, that the power of judging Scripture is in the Church, and that on her nod its certainty depends. When the Church receives it, and gives it the stamp of her authority, she does not make that authentic which was otherwise doubtful or controverted but, acknowledging it as the truth of God, she, as in duty bounds shows her reverence by an unhesitating assent. As to the question, How shall we be persuaded that it came from God without recurring to a decree of the Church? it is just the same as if it were asked, How shall we learn to distinguish light from darkness, white from black, sweet from bitter? Scripture bears upon the face of it as clear evidence of its truth, as white and black do of their colour, sweet and bitter of their taste.
3. I am aware it is usual to quote a sentence of Augustine in which he says that he would not believe the gospel, were he not moved by the authority of the Church (Aug. Cont. Epist. Fundament. c. 5). But it is easy to discover from the context, how inaccurate and unfair it is to give it such a meaning. He was reasoning against the Manichees, who insisted on being implicitly believed, alleging that they had the truth, though they did not show they had. But as they pretended to appeal to the gospel in support of Manes, he asks what they would do if they fell in with a man who did not even believe the gospel--what kind of argument they would use to bring him over to their opinion. He afterwards adds, "But I would not believe the gospel," &c.; meaning, that were he a stranger to the faith, the only thing which could induce him to embrace the gospel would be the authority of the Church. And is it any thing wonderful, that one who does not know Christ should pay respect to men?
Augustine, therefore, does not here say that the faith of the godly is founded on the authority of the Church; nor does he mean that the certainty of the gospel depends upon it; he merely says that unbelievers would have no certainty of the gospel, so as thereby to win Christ, were they not influenced by the consent of the Church. And he clearly shows this to be his meaning, by thus expressing himself a little before: "When I have praised my own creed, and ridiculed yours, who do you suppose is to judge between us; or what more is to be done than to quit those who, inviting us to certainty, afterwards command us to believe uncertainty, and follow those who invite us, in the first instance, to believe what we are not yet able to comprehend, that waxing stronger through faith itself, we may become able to understand what we believe--no longer men, but God himself internally strengthening and illuminating our minds? These unquestionably are the words of Augustine (August. Cont. Epist. Fundament. cap. 4); and the obvious inference from them is, that this holy man had no intention to suspend our faith in Scripture on the nod or decision of the Church,  but only to intimate (what we too admit to be true) that those who are not yet enlightened by the Spirit of God, become teachable by reverence for the Church, and thus submit to learn the faith of Christ from the gospel. In this way, though the authority of the Church leads us on, and prepares us to believe in the gospel, it is plain that Augustine would have the certainty of the godly to rest on a very different foundation. 
At the same time, I deny not that he often presses the Manichees with the consent of the whole Church, while arguing in support of the Scriptures, which they rejected. Hence he upbraids Faustus (lib. 32) for not submitting to evangelical truth--truth so well founded, so firmly established, so gloriously renowned, and handed down by sure succession from the days of the apostles. But he nowhere insinuates that the authority which we give to the Scriptures depends on the definitions or devices of men. He only brings forward the universal Judgment of the Church, as a point most pertinent to the cause, and one, moreover, in which he had the advantage of his opponents. Any one who desires to see this more fully proved may read his short treatises, De Utilitate Credendi (The Advantages of Believing), where it will be found that the only facility of believing which he recommends is that which affords an introduction, and forms a fit commencement to inquiry; while he declares that we ought not to be satisfied with opinion, but to strive after substantial truth.
4. It is necessary to attend to what I lately said, that our faith in doctrine is not established until we have a perfect conviction that God is its author. Hence, the highest proof of Scripture is uniformly taken from the character of him whose Word it is. The prophets and apostles boast not their own acuteness or any qualities which win credit to speakers, nor do they dwell on reasons; but they appeal to the sacred name of God, in order that the whole world may be compelled to submission. The next thing to be considered is, how it appears not probable merely, but certain, that the name of God is neither rashly nor cunningly pretended. If, then, we would consult most effectually for our consciences, and save them from being driven about in a whirl of uncertainty, from wavering, and even stumbling at the smallest obstacle, our conviction of the truth of Scripture must be derived from a higher source than human conjectures, Judgments, or reasons; namely, the secret testimony of the Spirit. It is true, indeed, that if we choose to proceed in the way of arguments it is easy to establish, by evidence of various kinds, that if there is a God in heaven, the Law, the Prophecies, and the Gospel, proceeded from him. Nay, although learned men, and men of the greatest talent, should take the opposite side, summoning and ostentatiously displaying all the powers of their genius in the discussion; if they are not possessed of shameless effrontery, they will be compelled to confess that the Scripture exhibits clear evidence of its being spoken by God, and, consequently, of its containing his heavenly doctrine. We shall see a little farther on, that the volume of sacred Scripture very far surpasses all other writings. Nay, if we look at it with clear eyes, and unblessed Judgment, it will forthwith present itself with a divine majesty which will subdue our presumptuous opposition, and force us to do it homage.
Still, however, it is preposterous to attempt, by discussion, to rear up a full faith in Scripture. True, were I called to contend with the craftiest despisers of God, I trust, though I am not possessed of the highest ability or eloquence, I should not find it difficult to stop their obstreperous mouths; I could, without much ado, put down the boastings which they mutter in corners, were anything to be gained by refuting their cavils. But although we may maintain the sacred Word of God against gainsayers, it does not follow that we shall forthwith implant the certainty which faith requires in their hearts. Profane men think that religion rests only on opinion, and, therefore, that they may not believe foolishly, or on slight grounds, desire and insist to have it proved by reason that Moses and the prophets were divinely inspired. But I answer, that the testimony of the Spirit is superior to reason. For as God alone can properly bear witness to his own words, so these words will not obtain full credit in the hearts of men, until they are sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit. The same Spirit, therefore, who spoke by the mouth of the prophets, must penetrate our hearts, in order to convince us that they faithfully delivered the message with which they were divinely entrusted. This connection is most aptly expressed by Isaiah in these words, "My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever," (Isa. 59:21). Some worthy persons feel disconcerted, because, while the wicked murmur with impunity at the Word of God, they have not a clear proof at hand to silence them, forgetting that the Spirit is called an earnest and seal to confirm the faith of the godly, for this very reason, that, until he enlightens their minds, they are tossed to and fro in a sea of doubts.
5. Let it therefore be held as fixed, that those who are inwardly taught by the Holy Spirit acquiesce implicitly in Scripture; that Scripture, carrying its own evidence along with it, deigns not to submit to proofs and arguments, but owes the full conviction with which we ought to receive it to the testimony of the Spirit.  Enlightened by him, we no longer believe, either on our own Judgment or that of others, that the Scriptures are from God; but, in a way superior to human Judgment, feel perfectly assured--as much so as if we beheld the divine image visibly impressed on it--that it came to us, by the instrumentality of men, from the very mouth of God. We ask not for proofs or probabilities on which to rest our Judgment, but we subject our intellect and Judgment to it as too transcendent for us to estimate. This, however, we do, not in the manner in which some are wont to fasten on an unknown object, which, as soon as known, displeases, but because we have a thorough conviction that, in holding it, we hold unassailable truth; not like miserable men, whose minds are enslaved by superstition, but because we feel a divine energy living and breathing in it--an energy by which we are drawn and animated to obey it, willingly indeed, and knowingly, but more vividly and effectually than could be done by human will or knowledge. Hence, God most justly exclaims by the mouth of Isaiah, "Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen, that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he," (Isa. 43:10).
Such, then, is a conviction which asks not for reasons; such, a knowledge which accords with the highest reason, namely knowledge in which the mind rests more firmly and securely than in any reasons; such in fine, the conviction which revelation from heaven alone can produce. I say nothing more than every believer experiences in himself, though my words fall far short of the reality. I do not dwell on this subject at present, because we will return to it again: only let us now understand that the only true faith is that which the Spirit of God seals on our hearts. Nay, the modest and teachable reader will find a sufficient reason in the promise contained in Isaiah, that all the children of the renovated Church "shall be taught of the Lord," (Isaiah 54:13). This singular privilege God bestows on his elect only, whom he separates from the rest of mankind. For what is the beginning of true doctrine but prompt alacrity to hear the Word of God? And God, by the mouth of Moses, thus demands to be heard: "It is not in heavens that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart," (Deut. 30:12, 14). God having been pleased to reserve the treasure of intelligence for his children, no wonder that so much ignorance and stupidity is seen in the generality of mankind. In the generality, I include even those specially chosen, until they are ingrafted into the body of the Church. Isaiah, moreover, while reminding us that the prophetical doctrine would prove incredible not only to strangers, but also to the Jews, who were desirous to be thought of the household of God, subjoins the reason, when he asks, "To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" (Isaiah 53:1). If at any time, then we are troubled at the small number of those who believe, let us, on the other hand, call to mind, that none comprehend the mysteries of God save those to whom it is given.
 The French adds, "Comme le fondement va deuant l'edifice;"--as the foundation goes before the house.
 The French adds,"La destournant du seul fondement qu'elle a en l'Escriture;"--diverting it from the only foundation which is has in scripture.
 Augustin. De Ordine, lib. 2 c. 9 "Ad discendum dupliciter movemur, auctoritate atque ratione : tempore auctoritas, re autem ratio prior est," &c. "Itaque quamquam bonorum auctoritas imperitae multitudini videatur esse salubrior, ratio vero aptior eruditis: tamen quia nullus hominum nisi ex imperito peritus fit, &c., evenit ut omnibus bona, magna, occulta discere cupientibus, non aperiat nisi auctoritas januam," &c. He has many other excellent things to the same effect.
 The French adds, "Car jacoit qu'en sa propre majesté elle ait assez de quoy estre reuerée, neantmoins elle commence lors à nous vrayement toucher, quand elle est scellée en nos coueurs par le Sainct Esprit."--For though in its own majesty it has enough to command reverence, nevertheless, it then begins truly to touch us when it is sealed in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.
Institutes of the Christian Religion
By Don Carson 8/11/2018
How Does The Wrath Of God manifest itself, according to the Scriptures?
There is no short answer to that question, because the answers are many, depending on an enormous array of circumstances. God’s wrath wiped out almost the entire human race at the Flood. Sometimes God’s punishment of his own covenant people is remedial. Sometimes it is immediate, not the least because it then tends to be instructive (like the defeat of the people at Ai after Achan stole some silver and fine Babylonian clothes): at other times, God forbears, which at one level is gracious, but granted the perversity of God’s image-bearers, is likely to let things get out of hand. The final display of God’s wrath is hell itself (see, for instance, Rev. 14:6ff.).
Romans 1:18ff pictures the revelation of God’s wrath in a slightly different way. What Paul presents here is not the only thing to say about God’s wrath — even in Paul — but it contributes something very important. Not only is God’s wrath being revealed against “all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Rom. 1:18), but it manifests itself in such sins — that is, in God’s giving people over to do what they want to do (Rom. 1:24-28).
In other words, instead of rebuking them in remedial judgment or curtailing their wickedness, God “gave them over”: to “shameful lusts” (1:26) and a “depraved mind” (Rom. 1:28). The result is multiplying “wickedness, evil, greed and depravity” (Rom. 1:29). The picture painted in the rest of the verses of Romans 1 is not a pretty one.
We must reflect a little further as to what this means. In our shortsightedness we sometimes think God is a little abrupt when in certain passages, not least in the Old Testament, he instantly chastens his people for their sins. But what is the alternative? Quite simply, it is not instantly chastening them. If chastening were merely a matter of remedial education to morally neutral people, the timing and severity would not matter very much; we would learn. But the Bible insists that this side of the Fall we are by nature and persistent choice rebels against God.
If we are chastened, we whine at God’s severity. If we are not chastened, we descend into debauchery until the very foundations of society are threatened. We may then cry to God for mercy. Well and good, but at least we should see that it would have been a mercy if we had not been permitted to descend so far down into the abyss.
Granted the shape and trends in Western culture, does this not argue that we are already under the severe wrath of God? Have mercy, Lord!
Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and co-founder (with Tim Keller) of The Gospel Coalition. He has authored numerous books, and recently edited The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016).Don Carson Books | Go to Books Page
By Don Carson 8/12/2018
If Romans 1 condemns the entire human race, Romans 2 focuses especially on Jews. They have enormous advantages in that they were the recipients of the Law — the revelation from God mediated through Moses at Sinai. But here too, Paul argues, all are condemned; possession of the law does not itself save. By Rom. 3:19-20, the apostle explicitly insists that those “under the law” are silenced along with those without the law all are under sin. This prepares the way for the glorious gospel solution (Rom. 3:21-31).
Here in Romans 2, however, there is one paragraph that has generated considerable discussion (Rom. 2:12-16). In verse 12 Paul makes the general point that God judges people by what they know, not by what they do not know. Hence: “All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law” (Rom. 2:12). Jesus had similarly tied human responsibility to human privilege: the more we know, the more severely we are held accountable (Matt. 11:20-24). Mere possession of the law isn’t worth anything. Those (Jews) are righteous who obey the law.
Then Paul adds, “Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them” (Rom. 2:14-15).
Many writers take this to mean that some Gentiles may be truly saved without ever having heard of Jesus, since after all, Paul says that some Gentiles “do by nature things required by the law,” and insists their consciences are “even defending them.” Others try to avoid this implication by arguing that the positive option is for Paul purely hypothetical. But Paul is not arguing that there is a subset of Gentiles who are so good that their consciences are always clean, and therefore they will be saved. Rather, he is arguing that Gentiles everywhere have some knowledge of right and wrong, even though they do not have the law, and that this is demonstrated in the fact that they sometimes do things in line with the law, and have consciences that sometimes accuse them and sometimes defend them.
His argument is not that some are good enough to be saved, but that all display, by their intuitive grasp of right and wrong, an awareness of such moral standards, doubtless grounded in the image of God, that they too have enough knowledge to be held accountable. For Paul is concerned to show that “Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin” (Rom. 3:9).
Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and co-founder (with Tim Keller) of The Gospel Coalition. He has authored numerous books, and recently edited The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016).Don Carson Books | Go to Books Page
By Douglas J. Moo 1994
Paul’s letter to the Christian community in Rome is one of the most important theological documents ever written. Its influence on the church has been enormous: Romans has decisively shaped the teaching of Augustine, Calvin, Luther and Wesley, to mention only a few. Yet Romans is not a systematic theology but a letter written in specific historical circumstances. We will understand it better if we understand those circumstances.
General circumstances | 1. Paul
Paul provides us in Romans 15:14–29 with some details about his own circumstances. He is on his way to Jerusalem, where he plans to hand over to the Jewish church the money that he has collected from the Gentile mission churches. From Jerusalem, Paul intends to travel to Spain in order to begin a new evangelistic work there. On his way to Spain, Paul plans to stop in Rome. Comparing these plans with Luke’s narrative in Acts, we can conclude that Paul wrote Romans at the end of the third missionary journey, probably during his three-month stay in Greece ( Acts 20:3–6 ). Paul undoubtedly spent most of this time in Corinth (see 2 Cor. 13:1, 10 ), and indirect confirmation of this as the place where Romans was written comes from Paul’s commendation of Phoebe, who was from Cenchrea, the seaport adjacent to Corinth ( 16:1–2 ). This stay in Corinth probably occurred in AD 57, although it could have been a year earlier or later.
A factor of some importance in our understanding of Romans is Paul’s indication in these verses that he had reached a crucial turning point in his missionary career. Paul had decided to preach in Spain because ‘there is no more place for me to work in these regions,’ that is, in the eastern Mediterranean ( 15:23 ). With the establishment of vigorous churches ‘from Jerusalem all the way around to Ilyricum’ ( 15:19 ), Paul believed that the work God had given him to do — to plant strategic churches through which the gospel could be proclaimed — was finished in that area. Just as early American pioneers felt crowded and moved on whenever they could see the smoke from someone else’s cabin, so Paul felt ‘crowded’ by the number of Christians where he was ministering and wanted to move on to what we might today call ‘unreached peoples’.
2. The church in Rome
Some early traditions make Peter the founder of the Roman church, but this is unlikely. Probably Jewish pilgrims from Rome, converted through the preaching of Peter on the Day of Pentecost, planted the gospel among the large Jewish population in the capital city (Luke notes in Acts 2:10 that Jews from Rome were present on that day). As in so many other cities, the Jews of Rome did not all embrace this new Messianic teaching. The historian Suetonius noted that the Roman Emperor Claudius expelled all Jews from Rome ‘because they were constantly rioting at the instigation of Chrestus’ (Life of Claudius, 25.2). He was almost certainly referring to violent debates within the Jewish community over the claims of Christians that Jesus was the ‘Christ’ (Gk. Christos), corrupted here into ‘Chrestus’. This expulsion of Jews, then, would have included Jewish Christians, as Luke himself implies when he mentions that it was because of this edict of Claudius that Priscilla and Aquila had come to Corinth ( Acts 18:2 ). The expulsion (which is probably to be dated in AD 49) would have had a significant effect on the make-up of the Christian community in Rome: Gentiles, who had up to this point comprised a minority of the believers, were now left as the only Christians in the city. Therefore, although Jews had been allowed to move back to Rome by the time Paul wrote to the Romans — Priscilla and Aquila, for instance, had returned ( Rom. 16:3–4 ) — Gentiles were in the majority in the church, and had come to dominate both its leadership and theological tone.
Textual variants in chs. 14–16 raise questions about the original form and literary history of Romans. The doxology ( 16:25–27 ) at the end of the letter is placed at the end of ch. 14 in some manuscripts, at both the end of chs. 14 and 16 in other, and at the end of ch. 15 in one early text. Some Latin manuscripts not only have the doxology at the end of ch. 14 but also omit all of ch. 15 and the rest of ch. 16. These data raise the possibility that the sixteen-chapter form of the letter we now have many have been preceded by a fourteen or fifteen-chapter form. Perhaps the most popular of the reconstructions holds that Paul had first written chs. 1–15, with the doxology, to the church at Rome and had subsequently sent this letter, with the addition of 16:1–23, to the church at Ephesus. Not only would this explain why the doxology appears at the end of both chs. 15 and 16, but it would also account for the number of people whom Paul greets in 16:3–16. Acquaintance with so many believers in Rome, a church that Paul had never visited, seems unlikely, but makes perfectly good sense if these verses were written to the church at Ephesus, with which Paul had a long and close relationship. (The best-known advocate of this theory is T.W. Manson, ‘St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans — and Others’, The Romans Debate, ed. K. Donfried [Augsburg, 1977], pp. 1–16.)
This theory and others similar to it must, however, be rejected. For one thing, the textual evidence on which it is based is very slim. To be sure, one manuscript does put the doxology at the end of ch. 15; but the same manuscript includes 16:1–23. We possess no manuscript that contains the fifteen-chapter form of text posited by Manson. There is evidence for a fourteen-chapter form of the text, but it is most improbable that Paul wrote such a text, since it cuts him off in the middle of his argument about the ‘strong’ and the ‘weak’ ( 14:1–15:13 ). Early Christians must have been responsible for omitting the last two chapters of the letter, perhaps to give it a more universal appeal (The Textual History of the Letter to the Romans (Studies and Documents). More likely, however, as Origen suggests, it was Marcion (a second-century theologian who disliked the OT and Jewish elements within Christianity) who removed these chapters.
We have good reason, then, for thinking that the letter printed in our Bibles is substantially identical to the letter that Paul wrote to the Roman church. How do we explain, then, the number of greetings? First, Paul could have met a number of these people — like Priscilla and Aquila — during their exile from Rome in the course of his ministry in the east. The famous Roman roads, well-built and well-maintained, afforded excellent opportunities for travel in the first-century Mediterranean world. Secondly, Paul may have taken the opportunity afforded him by his unfamiliarity with the Roman church to greet every Christian he knew in the city.
Paul seems to send mixed signals on the issue of the particular audience that he had in view as he wrote to the Roman church. On the one hand, several elements of the letter point to a mainly, if not exclusively, Jewish audience: he greets Jewish Christians in 16:3, 7, 11; he addresses ‘the Jew’ in 2:17 and implies that his readers are closely related to the Mosaic law (cf. 6:14; 7:1, 4 ); he calls Abraham ‘our forefather’ ( 4:1 ); and he devotes considerable attention to ‘Jewish’ issues e.g. the sin and failure of Jews ( 2:17–3:8 ), the place of the law in salvation - history (ch. 7 ) and the past and future of Israel (chs. 9–11 ). Indications of a Gentile readership are, however, equally clear: the address of the letter associates the Romans with the Gentiles among whom Paul had specially been called to minister ( 1:5–6; cf. 1:13 and 15:14–21 ); Paul directly addresses Gentiles ( 11:11–24 ) and his plea for unity and tolerance seems to be directed especially to Gentiles ( 15:7–9 ). W. G. Kümmel succinctly summarizes the ambiguity of this evidence: ‘Romans manifests a double character: it is essentially a debate between the Pauline gospel and Judaism, so that the conclusion seems obvious that the readers were Jewish Christians. Yet the letter contains statements which indicate specifically that the community was Gentile-Christian’ (Introduction to the New Testament [SCM, 1975], p.309).
Faced with this conflicting evidence, some scholars have concluded that Paul had a distinctly Jewish audience in mind, others that he was writing to a wholly Gentile audience and still others that he was addressing Jews at some points and Gentiles at others. The evidence is, however, better explained by the supposition that the audience Paul addressed was one made up of both Jewish and Gentile Christians. Nevertheless, the way in which Paul associates the church with his ministry to Gentiles in 1:5–6 suggests that Gentiles were in such a majority that the church had taken on a Gentile flavour and identity.
Class of literature
Ancient letters ranged from brief, intimate notes to family members to elaborate treatises designed for a wide audience. Among the letters of Paul, Romans is clearly the one that is closest to the latter type. Thus, while Romans has the typical opening ( 1:1–15 ) and closing ( 15:14–16:27 ) of a letter, its most striking feature is its sustained theological / pastoral argument in 1:16–11:36. At no point in this lengthy section does Paul directly address the Roman Christians per se or suggest that the issues he is talking about have been raised by them. And this is true even in the more ‘practically’ oriented 12:1–15:13 (although it is likely that the appeals to the ‘strong’ and the ‘weak’ in 14:1–15:13 reflect an actual problem in Rome). The movement of the letter is dictated by the internal logic of the gospel rather than by local issues. This does not mean that Paul wrote the letter in a vacuum: Romans is not a timeless theological treatise, but a letter, written to a specific church in a specific situation. Romans, like all Paul’s letters, is an occasional document. We must not forget the audience he had in view as he wrote. The character of the letter makes clear, at the same time, that the occasion for its writing must have resided in the need to address certain theological issues of relevance to early Christians generally — and to every Christian since.
Scholars have occasionally attempted a more precise identification of the nature of Romans, comparing it to specific kinds of letters of other literary works in the ancient world. While these attempts have often shed light on certain specific features of Romans, none of them can be judged to be an acceptable identification of the letter as a whole. As James Dunn concludes, ‘the distinctiveness of the letter far outweights the significance of its conformity with current literary or rhetorical custom’ ( Romans 1–8 [Word Books, 1988]).
The ‘treatise’ style of Romans raises a critical question about the letter: why did Paul write this particular letter to this particular church? He says little about his purpose in writing, so our answer to this question must be based on our analysis of the contents of the letter against the general circumstances in which it was written. The most likely answers can be grouped into two major categories: those that focus on Paul’s own situation and those that focus on the situation of the Roman Christians.
1. A focus on Paul’s circumstances
Three possibilities should be mentioned. First, Paul may have been writing to introduce himself to the Romans and explain what it is he believes with the purpose of gaining support from them for his mission to Spain. Secondly, Paul, knowing that he would be visiting Rome soon, may have taken this opportunity to put down in writing his own doctrinal conclusions. After all, the apostle had just emerged from a difficult theological and pastoral struggle with the Corinthian church, and had reached a critical turning point in his own ministry. What better time to reflect on, and solidify in writing, his own theological convictions? A third possibility is that Paul took the opportunity in this letter to the Romans to rehearse the speech he was going to give when he arrived in Jerusalem with the collection. Certainly this visit to Jerusalem was very much in Paul’s mind (see 15:25–33 ), and the tensions between Jewish and Gentile Christians that he hoped to heal by means of that collection could well explain why Romans focuses so much on issues relating to Israel and the law.
Probably each of these factors played some role in Paul’s purposes in writing. But only the first explains why the letter was sent specifically to Rome, and it should therefore be given special attention. But before drawing further conclusions, we must note another approach to the question of purpose.
2. A focus on problems in the Roman church
The nineteenth-century biblical critic F. C. Baur pioneered a new approach to Romans by emphasizing that it, like Paul’s other letters, was written to deal with specific problems within the community addressed. Many contemporary scholars agree, finding particularly in Paul’s admonitions to the ‘strong’ and the ‘weak’ ( 14:1–15:13 ) the overarching purpose of the letter. On this view of the matter, Paul wrote in order to heal a division within the church at Rome. The division was specifically one between Gentile Christians (the ‘strong’) and Jewish Christians (the ‘weak’), and this explains why Paul spends so much time in the letter carefully setting forth his theology as it relates to these two groups.
A desire to heal this division within the Roman church was probably one of Paul’s purposes in writing, but not the primary purpose. Would Paul have delayed mentioning anything about his main purpose in writing until the letter was almost finished? Would we not expect him to be drawing applications to this problem from his theological discussion throughout the letter if it loomed so large in his thinking?
So it appears that Paul wrote Romans with a number of purposes in mind. Probably the over-riding purpose was his desire to introduce himself to the church at Rome by setting forth the gospel he preached. This was especially important because false rumours about what Paul preached had reached the Romans (see 3:8 ). He had apparently earned the reputation in the early church of being anti-law and anti-Jewish. Paul sought to show that this was not the case (see particularly 1:16; 7:7–12; chs. 9–11 ) at the same time as he spelt out in detail in what sense he was critical of the Jews and the Mosaic law (see particularly 2:17–3:20; ch. 7 ). These same themes would have been debated in Jerusalem and were central to some of the debates within the Roman church. In other words, we have in Romans a series of purposes, all converging on the issue that predominates throughout the letter: what is the nature of the continuity between God’s old covenant arrangement and his new covenant arrangement? What is the relationship between the law and the gospel, Jewish believer and Gentile believer, Israel and the church? It is Paul’s desire to address this central and enduring theological issue that gives to Romans its special universal character.
In the light of what we have said in the last paragraph, it is no wonder that many scholars think that the continuity of salvation - history is the central theme of the letter. They often single out chs. 9–11 as the heart of the letter. Many of the Protestant reformers, on the other hand, focused their attention on chs. 1–5 and concluded that the theme of justification by faith is the main theme of the letter. Somewhat similar to their approach is that of Ernst Käsemann, who sees ‘the righteousness of God’ (which he takes to mean God’s intervention to reclaim his rebellious creation) as the theme of Romans. However, neither of these concepts is broad enough to encompass the contents of the letter as a whole. While justification by faith is a critical doctrine in Romans, and it becomes the theme of 3:21–4:25, it does not figure prominently in other parts of the letter. If, then, we are to identify a single theme for the letter, it must be ‘the gospel’. The word is prominent in the introduction ( 1:1–2, 9, 15 ) and conclusion ( 15:16, 19 ) of the letter, and has pride of place in what is usually identified as the statement of the letter’s theme: ‘I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes’ ( 1:16 ).New Bible Commentary (The New Bible Set)
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 128Blessed Is Everyone Who Fears the LORD
128 A Song Of Ascents.
128:1 Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD,
who walks in his ways!
2 You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.
3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
around your table.
4 Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
who fears the LORD.
5 The LORD bless you from Zion!
May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life!
6 May you see your children’s children!
Peace be upon Israel!
Fox's Book Of Martyrs
By John Foxe 1563
The Rev. Robert SamuelThis gentleman was minister ofr Bradford, Suffolk, where he industriously taught the flock committed to his charge, while he was openly permitted to discharge his duty. He was first persecuted by Mr. Foster, of Copdock, near Ipswich, a severe and bigoted persecutor of the followers of Christ, according to the truth in the Gospel. Notwithstanding Mr. Samuel was ejected from his living, he continued to exhort and instruct privately; nor would he obey the order for putting away his wife, whom he had married in King Edward's reign; but kept her at Ipswich, where Foster, by warrant, surprised him by night with her. After being imprisoned in Ipswich jail, he was taken before Dr. Hopton, bishop of Norwich, and Dr. Dunnings, his chancellor, two of the most sanguinary among the bigots of those days. To intimidate the worthy pastor, he was in prison chained to a post in such a manner that the weight of his body was supported by the points of his toes: added to this his allowance of provision was reduced to a quantity so insufficient to sustain nature that he was almost ready to devour his own flesh. From this dreadful extremity there was even a degree of mercy in ordering him to the fire. Mr. Samuel suffered August 31, 1555.
Bishop Ridley and Bishop LatimerThese reverend prelates suffered October 17, 5555, at Oxford, on the same day Wolsey and Pygot perished at Ely. Pillars of the Church and accomplished ornaments of human nature, they were the admiration of the realm, amiably conspicuous in their lives, and glorious in their deaths.
Dr. Ridley was born in Northumberland, was first tauht grammar at Newcastle, and afterward removed to Cambridge, where his aptitude in education raised him gradually until he came to be the head of Pembroke College, where he received the title of Doctor of Divinity. Having returned from a trip to Paris, he was appointed chaplain by Henry VIII and bishop of Rochester, and was afterwards translated to the see of London in the time of Edward VI.
To his sermons the people resorted, swarming about him like bees, coveting the sweet flowers and wholesome juice of the fruitful doctrine, which he did not only preach, but showed the same by his life, as a glittering lanthorn to the eyes and senses of the blind, in such pure order that his very enemies could not reprove him in any one jot.
His tender treatment of Dr. Heath, who was a prisoner with him during one year, in Edward's reign, evidently proves that he had no Catholic cruelty in his disposition. In person he was erect and well proportioned; in temper forgiving; in self-mortification severe. His first duty in the morning was private prayer: he remained in his study until ten o'clock, and then attended the daily prayer used in his house. Dinner being done, he sat about an hour, conversing pleasantly, or playing at chess. His study next engaged his attention, unless business or visits occurred; about five o'clock prayers followed; and after he would recreate himself at chess for about an hour, then retire to his study until eleven o'clock, and pray on his knees as in the morning. In brief, he was a pattern of godliness and virtue, and such he endeavored to make men wherever he came.
His attentive kindness was displayed particularly to old Mrs. Bonner, mother of Dr. Bonner, the cruel bishop of London. Dr. Ridley, when at his manor at Fulham, always invited her to his house, placed her at the head of his table, and treated her like his own mother; he did the same by Bonner's sister and other relatives; but when Dr. Ridley was under persecution, Bonner pursued a conduct diametrically opposite, and would have sacrificed Dr. Ridley's sister and her husband, Mr. George Shipside, had not Providence delivered him by the means of Dr. Heath, bishop of Worcester.
Dr. Ridley was first in part converted by reading Bertram's book on the Sacrament, and by his conferences with archbishop Cranmer and Peter Martyr.
When Edward VI was removed from the throne, and the bloody Mary succeeded, Bishop Ridley was immediately marked as an object of slaughter. He was first sent to the Tower, and afterward, at Oxford, was consigned to the common prison of Bocardo, with archbishop Cranmer and Mr. Latimer. Being separated from them, he was placed in the house of one Irish, where he remained until the day of his martyrdom, from 1554, until October 16, 1555.
It will easily be supposed that the conversations of these chiefs of the martyrs were elaborate, learned, and instructive. Such indeed they were, and equally beneficial to all their spiritual comforts. Bishop Ridley's letters to various Christian brethren in bonds in all parts, and his disputations with the mitred enemies of Christ, alike proved the clearness of his head and the integrity of his heart. In a letter to Mr. Grindal, (afterward archbishop of Canterbury,) he mentions with affection those who had preceded him in dying for the faith, and those who were expected to suffer; he regrets that popery is re-established in its full abomination, which he attributes to the wrath of God, made manifest in return for the lukewarmness of the clergy and the people in justly appreciating the blessed light of the Reformation.
This old practiced soldier of Christ, Master Hugh Latimer, was the son of one Hugh Latimer, of Thurkesson in the county of Leicester, a husbandman, of a good and wealthy estimation; where also he was born and brought up until he was four years of age, or thereabout: at which time his parents, having him as then left for their only son, with six daughters, seeing his ready, prompt, and sharp wit, purposed to train him up in erudition, and knowledge of good literature; wherein he so profited in his youth at the common schools of his own country, that at the age of fourteen years, he was sent to the University of Cambridge; where he entered into the study of the school divinity of that day, and was from principle a zealous observer of the Romish superstitions of the time. In his oration when he commenced bachelor of divinity, he inveighed against the reformer Melancthon, and openly declaimed against good Mr. Stafford, divinity lecturer in Cambridge.
Mr. Thomas Bilney, moved by a brotherly pity towards Mr. Latimer, begged to wait upon him in his study, and to explain to him the groundwork of his (Mr. Bilney's) faith. This blessed interview effected his conversion: the persecutor of Christ became his zealous advocate, and before Dr. Stafford died he became reconciled to him.
Once converted, he became eager for the conversion of others, and commenced to be public preacher, and private instructor in the university. His sermons were so pointed against the absurdity of praying in the Latin tongue, and withholding the oracles of salvation from the people who were to be saved by belief in them, that he drew upon himself the pulpit animadversions of several of the resident friars and heads of houses, whom he subsequently silenced by his severe criticisms and eloquent arguments. This was at Christmas, 1529. At length Dr. West preached against Mr. Latimer at Barwell Abbey, and prohibited him from preaching again in the churches of the university, notwithstanding which, he continued during three years to advocate openly the cause of Christ, and even his enemies confessed the power of those talents he possessed. Mr. Bilney remained here some time with Mr. Latimer, and thus the place where they frequently walked together obtained the name of Heretics' Hill.
Mr. Latimer at this time traced out the innocence of a poor woman, accused by her husband of the murder of her child. Having preached before King Henry VIII at Windsor, he obtained the unfortunate mother's pardon. This, with many other benevolent acts, served only to excite the spleen of his adversaries. He was summoned before Cardinal Wolsey for heresy, but being a strenuous supporter of the king's supremacy, in opposition to the pope's, by favor of Lord Cromwell and Dr. Buts, (the king's physician,) he obtained the living of West Kingston, in Wiltshire. For his sermons here against purgatory, the immaculacy of the Virgin, and the worship of images, he was cited to appear before Warham, archbishop of Canterbury, and John, bishop of London. He was required to subscribe certain articles, expressive of his conformity to the accustamed usages; and there is reason to think, after repeated weekly examinations, that he did subscribe, as they did not seem to involve any important article of belief.
Guided by Providence, he escaped the subtle nets of his persecutors, and at length, through the powerful friends before mentioned, became bishop of Worcester, in which function he qualified or explained away most of the papal ceremonies he was for form's sake under the necessity of complying with. He continued in this active and dignified employment some years.
Beginning afresh to set forth his plow he labored in the Lord's harvest most fruitfully, discharging his talent as well in divers places of this realm, as before the king at the court. In the same place of the inward garden, which was before applied to lascivious and courtly pastimes, there he dispensed the fruitful Word of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ, preaching there before the king and his whole court, to the edification of many.
He remained a prisoner in the Tower until the coronation of Edward VI, when he was again called to the Lord's harvest in Stamford, and many other places: he also preached at London in the convocation house, and before the young king; indeed he lectured twice every Sunday, regardless of his great age (then above sixty-seven years,) and his weakness through a bruise received from the fall of a tree. Indefatigable in his private studies, he rose to them in winter and in summer at two o'clock in the morning.
By the strength of his own mind, or of some inward light from above, he had a prophetic view of what was to happen to the Church in Mary's reign, asserting that he was doomed to suffer for the truth, and that Winchester, then in the Tower, was preserved for that purpose. Soon after Queen Mary was proclaimed, a messenger was sent to summon Mr. Latimer to town, and there is reason to believe it was wished that he should make his escape.
Thus Master Latimer coming up to London, through Smithfield (where merrily he said that Smithfield had long groaned for him), was brought before the Council, where he patiently bore all the mocks and taunts given him by the scornful papists. He was cast into the Tower, where he, being assisted with the heavenly grace of Christ, sustained imprisonment a long time, notwithstanding the cruel and unmerciful handling of the lordly papists, which thought then their kingdom would never fall; he showed himself not only patient, but also cheerful in and above all that which they could or would work against him. Yea, such a valiant spirit the Lord gave him, that he was able not only to despise the terribleness of prisons and torments, but also to laugh to scorn the doings of his enemies.
Mr. Latimer, after remaining a long time in the Tower, was transported to Oxford, with Cranmer and Ridley, the disputations at which place have been already mentioned in a former part of this work. He remained imprisoned until October, and the principal objects of all his prayers were three-that he might stand faithful to the doctrine he had professed, that God would restore his Gospel to England once again, and preserve the Lady Elizabeth to be queen; all of which happened. When he stood at the stake without the Bocardo gate, Oxford, with Dr. Ridley, and fire was putting to the pile of fagots, he raised his eyes benignantly towards heaven, and said, "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able." His body was forcibly penetrated by the fire, and the blood flowed abundantly from the heart; as if to verify his constant desire that his heart's blood might be shed in defence of the Gospel. His polemical and friendly letters are lasting monuments of his integrity and talents. It has been before said, that public disputation took place in April, 1554, new examinations took place in October, 1555, previous to the degradation and condemnation of Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer. We now draw to the conclusion of the lives of the two last.
Dr. Ridley, the night before execution, was very facetious, had himself shaved, and called his supper a marriage feast; he remarked upon seeing Mrs. Irish (the keeper's wife) weep, "Though my breakfast will be somewhat sharp, my supper will be more pleasant and sweet."
The place of death was on the northside of the town, opposite Baliol College. Dr. Ridley was dressed in a black gown furred, and Mr. Latimer had a long shroud on, hanging down to his feet. Dr. Ridley, as he passed Bocardo, looked up to see Dr. Cranmer, but the latter was then engaged in disputation with a friar. When they came to the stake, Mr. Ridley embraced Latimer fervently, and bid him: "Be of good heart, brother, for God will either assuage the fury of the flame, or else strengthen us to abide it." He then knelt by the stake, and after earnestly praying together, they had a short private conversation. Dr. Smith then preached a short sermon against the martyrs, who would have answered him, but were prevented by Dr. Marshal, the vice-chancellor. Dr. Ridley then took off his gown and tippet, and gave them to his brother-in-law, Mr. Shipside. He gave away also many trifles to his weeping friends, and the populace were anxious to get even a fragment of his garments. Mr. Latimer gave nothing, and from the poverty of his garb, was soon stripped to his shroud, and stood venerable and erect, fearless of death.
Dr. Ridley being unclothed to his shirt, the smith placed an iron chain about their waists, and Dr. Ridley bid him fasten it securely; his brother having tied a bag of gunpowder about his neck, gave some also to Mr. Latimer.
Dr. Ridley then requested of Lord Williams, of Fame, to advocate with the queen the cause of some poor men to whom he had, when bishop, granted leases, but which the present bishop refused to confirm. A lighted fagot was now laid at Dr. Ridley's feet, which caused Mr. Latimer to say: "Be of good cheer, Ridley; and play the man. We shall this day, by God's grace, light up such a candle in England, as I trust, will never be put out."
When Dr. Ridley saw the fire flaming up towards him, he cried with a wonderful loud voice, "Lord, Lord, receive my spirit." Master Latimer, crying as vehemently on the other side, "O Father of heaven, receive my soul!" received the flame as it were embracing of it. After that he had stroked his face with his hands, and as it were, bathed them a little in the fire, he soon died (as it appeareth) with very little pain or none.
Well! dead they are, and the reward of this world they have already. What reward remaineth for them in heaven, the day of the Lord's glory, when he cometh with His saints, shall declare.
In the following month died Stephen Gardiner, bishop of Winchester and lord chancellor of England. This papistical monster was born at Bury, in Suffolk, and partly educated at Cambridge. Ambitious, cruel, and bigoted, he served any cause; he first espoused the king's part in the affair of Anne Boleyn: upon the establishment of the Reformation he declared the supremacy of the pope an execrable tenet; and when Queen Mary came to the crown, he entered into all her papistical bigoted views, and became a second time bishop of Winchester. It is conjectured it was his intention to have moved the sacrifice of Lady Elizabeth, but when he arrived at this point, it pleased God to remove him.
It was on the afternoon of the day when those faithful soldiers of Christ, Ridley and Latimer, perished, that Gardiner sat down with a joyful heart to dinner. Scarcely had he taken a few mouthfuls, when he was seized with illness, and carried to his bed, where he lingered fifteen days in great torment, unable in any wise to evacuate, and burnt with a devouring fever, that terminated in death. Execrated by all good Christians, we pray the Father of mercies, that he may receive that mercy above he never imparted below.
Mr. John PhilpotThis martyr was the son of a knight, born in Hampshire, and brought up at New College, Oxford, where for several years he studied the civil law, and became eminent in the Hebrew tongue. He was a scholar and a gentleman, zealous in religion, fearless in disposition, and a detester of flattery. After visiting Italy, he returned to England, affairs in King Edward's days wearing a more promising aspect. During this reign he continued to be archdeacon of Winchester under Dr. Poinet, who succeeded Gardiner. Upon the accession of Mary, a convocation was summoned, in which Mr. Philpot defended the Reformation against his ordinary, Gardiner, again made bishop of Winchester, and soon was conducted to Bonner and other commissioners for examination, October 2, 1555, after being eighteen months' imprisoned. Upon his demanding to see the commission, Dr. Story cruelly observed, "I will spend both my gown and my coat, but I will burn thee! Let him be in Lollard's tower, (a wretched prison,) for I will sweep the king's Bench and all other prisons of these heretics!"
Upon Mr. Philpot's second examination, it was intimated to him that Dr. Story had said that the lord chancellor had commanded that he should be made away with. It is easy to foretell the result of this inquiry. He was committed to Bonner's coal house, where he joined company with a zealous minister of Essex, who had been induced to sign a bill of recantation; but afterward, stung by his conscience, he asked the bishop to let him see the instrument again, when he tore it to pieces; which induced Bonner in a fury to strike him repeatedly, and tear away part of his beard. Mr. Philpot had a private interview with Bonner the same night, and was then remanded to his bed of straw like other prisoners, in the coal house. After seven examinations, Bonner ordered him to be set in the stocks, and on the following Sunday separated him from his fellow-prisoners as a sower of heresy, and ordered him up to a room near the battlements of St. Paul's, eight feet by thirteen, on the other side of Lollard's tower, and which could be overlooked by any one in the bishop's outer gallery. Here Mr. Philpot was searched, but happily he was successful in secreting some letters containing his examinations.
In the eleventh investigation before various bishops, and Mr. Morgan, of Oxford, the latter was so driven into a corner by the close pressure of Mr. Philpot's arguments, that he said to him, "Instead of the spirit of the Gospel which you boast to possess, I think it is the spirit of the buttery, which your fellows have had, who were drunk before their death, and went, I believe, drunken to it." To this unfounded and brutish remark, Mr. Philpot indignantly replied, "It appeareth by your communication that you are better acquainted with that spirit than the Spirit of God; wherefore I tell thee, thou painted wall and hypocrite, in the name of the living God, whose truth I have told thee, that God shall rain fire and brimstone upon such blasphemers as thou art!" He was then remanded by Bonner, with an order not to allow him his Bible nor candlelight.
On December 4, Mr. Philpot had his next hearing, and this was followed by two more, making in all, fourteen conferences, previous to the final examination in which he was condemned; such were the perseverance and anxiety of the Catholics, aided by rthe argumentative abilities of the most distinguished of the papal bishops, to bring him into the pale of their Church. Those examinations, which were very long and learned, were all written down by Mr. Philpot, and a stronger proof of the imbecility of the Catholic doctors, cannot, to an unbiased mind, be exhibited.
On December 16, in the consistory of St. Paul's Bishop Bonner, after laying some trifling accusations to his charge, such as secreting powder to make ink, writing some private letters, etc., proceeded to pass the awful sentence upon him, after he and the other bishops had urged him by every inducement to recant. He was afterward conducted to Newgate, where the avaricious Catholic keeper loaded him with heavy irons, which by the humanity of Mr. Macham were ordered to be taken off. On December 17, Mr. Philpot received intimation that he was to die next day, and the next morning about eight o'clock, he joyfully met the sheriffs, who were to attend him to the place of execution.
Upon entering Smithfield, the ground was so muddy that two officers offered to carry him to the stake, but he replied:
"Would you make me a pope? I am content to finish my journey on foot." Arriving at the stake, he said, "Shall I disdain to suffer at the stake, when my Redeemer did not refuse to suffer the most vile death upon the cross for me?" He then meekly recited the One hundred and seventh and One hundred and eighth Psalms, and when he had finished his prayers, was bound to the post, and fire applied to the pile. On December 18, 1555, perished this illustrious martyr, reverenced by man, and glorified in heaven!
John Lomas, Agnes Snoth, Anne Wright, Joan Sole, and Joan CatmerThese five martyrs suffered together, January 31, 1556. John Lomas was a young man of Tenterden. He was cited to appear at Catnerbury, and was examined January 17. His answers being adverse to the idolatrous doctrine of the papacy, he was condemned on the following day, and suffered January 31.
Agnes Snoth, widow, of Smarden Parish, was several times summoned before the Catholic Pharisees, and rejecting absolution, indulgences, transubstantiation, and auricular confession, she was adjudged worthy to suffer death, and endured martyrdom, January 31, with Anne Wright and Joan Sole, who were placed in similar circumstances, and perished at the same time, with equal resignation. Joan Catmer, the last of this heavenly company, of the parish Hithe, was the wife of the martyr George Catmer.
Seldom in any country, for political controversy, have four women been led to execution, whose lives were irreproachable, and whom the pity of savages would have spared. We cannot but remark here that, when the Protestant power first gained the ascendency over the Catholic superstition, and some degree of force in the laws was necessary to enforce uniformity, whence some bigoted people suffered privation in their person or goods, we read of few burnings, savage cruelties, or poor women brought to the stake, but it is the nature of error to resort to force instead of argument, and to silence truth by taking away existence, of which the Redeemer himself is an instance.
The above five persons were burnt at two stakes in one fire, singing hosannahs to the glorified Savior, until the breath of life was extinct. Sir John Norton, who was present, wept bitterly at their unmerited sufferings.
Foxe's Book of Martyrs
The Continual Burnt Offering (Hebrews 1:1)
By H.A. Ironside - 1941
November 24Hebrews 1:1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, ESV
Have you ever wished you understood God better? Have you wondered just how He viewed many things that you are faced with in this scene of testing? Then all you need to do is to get better acquainted with the Lord Jesus, for in Him God is perfectly revealed. He is the brightness of His glory; the exact expression of His character, so He could say, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father”(John 14:9). He is God’s last word to man. In times past His revelations were fragmentary through inspired prophets. Now He has come out to us in the person of His Son, His heir and the creator of the ages. This One has made purification for sins, and He has taken His place as man on the Father’s right hand. In Him we see God.
Lamb of God, our souls adore Thee,
While upon Thy face we gaze!
There the Father’s love and glory
Shine in all their brightest rays.
Thy almighty pow’r and wisdom
All creation’s works proclaim,
Heaven and earth alike confess Thee,
As the ever-great I AM.
Lamb of God, Thou now art seated
High upon Thy Father’s throne,
All Thy gracious work completed,
All Thy mighty vict’ry won.
Ev’ry knee in heaven is bending
To the Lamb for sinners slain;
Ev’ry voice and heart is swelling,
“Worthy is the Lamb to reign.”
--- J. G. Deck
Book of Jasher not in Bible?
November 24Also known as the “Book of the Upright One” in the Greek Septuagint and the “Book of the Just Ones” in the Latin Vulgate, the Book of Jasher was probably a collection or compilation of ancient Hebrew songs and poems praising the heroes of Israel and their exploits in battle. The Book of Jasher is mentioned in Joshua 10:12-13 when the Lord stopped the sun in the middle of the day during the battle of Beth Horon. It is also mentioned in 2 Samuel 1:18-27 as containing the Song or Lament of the Bow, that mournful funeral song which David composed at the time of the death of Saul and Jonathan.
If the Book of Jasher is mentioned in the Bible, why was it left out of the canon of Scripture? We know that God directed the authors of the Scriptures to use passages from many and various extra-biblical sources in composing His Word. Is not truth still truth wherever you find it? The passage recorded in Joshua 10:13 is a good example. In recording this battle, Joshua included passages from the Book of Jasher not because it was his only source of what occurred; rather, he was stating, in effect, “If you don’t believe what I’m saying, then go read it in the Book of Jasher. Even that book has a record of this event.”
There are other Hebrew works that are mentioned in the Bible that God directed the authors to use. Some of these include the Book of the Wars of the Lord (Numbers 21:14), the Book of Samuel the Seer, the Book of Nathan the Prophet, and the Book of Gad the Seer (1 Chronicles 29:29). Also, there are the Acts of Rehoboam and the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah (1 Kings 14:29). We also know that Solomon composed more than a thousand songs (1 Kings 4:32), yet only two are preserved in the Psalm 72 and Psalm 127. Writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, Paul included a quotation from the Cretan poet Epimenides (Titus 1:12) and quoted from the poets Epimenides and Aratus in his speech at Athens (Acts 17:28).
The point is that the divine Author of the Bible used materials chosen from many different sources, fitting them into His grand design for the Scriptures. We must understand that history as recorded in the Bible did not occur in isolation. The people mentioned in the Bible interacted with other people. For example, though the Bible is clear that there is only one God, the Bible mentions a number of the gods people worshiped both within Israel and in the nations around. Similarly, as in Acts 17:28 and Titus 1:12, we sometimes find secular writers being quoted. This doesn’t mean that these quoted writers were inspired. It simply means they happened to say something that was useful in making a point.
There is a book called “The Book of Jasher” today, although it is not the same book as mentioned in the Old Testament. It is an eighteenth-century forgery that alleges to be a translation of the “lost” Book of Jasher by Alcuin, an eighth-century English scholar. There is also a more recent book titled “The Book of Jashar” by science fiction and fantasy writer Benjamin Rosenbaum. This book is a complete work of fiction.
Another book by this same name, called by many “Pseudo-Jasher,” while written in Hebrew, is also not the “Book of Jasher” mentioned in Scripture. It is a book of Jewish legends from the creation to the conquest of Canaan under Joshua, but scholars hold that it did not exist before A.D. 1625. In addition, there are several other theological works by Jewish rabbis and scholars called “Sefer ha Yashar,” but none of these claim to be the original Book of Jasher.
In the end, we must conclude that the Book of Jasher mentioned in the Bible was lost and has not survived to modern times. All we really know about it is found in the two Scripture quotations mentioned earlier. The other books by that title are mere fictions or Jewish moral treatises.
Joshua 10:12–13 At that time Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,
“Sun, stand still at Gibeon,
and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”
13 And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,
until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.
2 Samuel 1:18–27 and he said it should be taught to the people of Judah; behold, it is written in the Book of Jashar. He said:
19 “Your glory, O Israel, is slain on your high places!
How the mighty have fallen!
20 Tell it not in Gath,
publish it not in the streets of Ashkelon,
lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice,
lest the daughters of the uncircumcised exult.
21 “You mountains of Gilboa,
let there be no dew or rain upon you,
nor fields of offerings!
For there the shield of the mighty was defiled,
the shield of Saul, not anointed with oil.
22 “From the blood of the slain,
from the fat of the mighty,
the bow of Jonathan turned not back,
and the sword of Saul returned not empty.
23 “Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely!
In life and in death they were not divided;
they were swifter than eagles;
they were stronger than lions.
24 “You daughters of Israel, weep over Saul,
who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet,
who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.
25 “How the mighty have fallen
in the midst of the battle!
“Jonathan lies slain on your high places.
26 I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
very pleasant have you been to me;
your love to me was extraordinary,
surpassing the love of women.
27 “How the mighty have fallen,
and the weapons of war perished!”
Numbers 21:14 Therefore it is said in the Book of the Wars of the LORD,
“Waheb in Suphah, and the valleys of the Arnon,
1 Kings 14:29 Now the rest of the acts of Rehoboam and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?
1 Kings 4:32 He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005.
Titus 1:12 One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”
Acts 17:28 for
“ ‘In him we live and move and have our being’;
as even some of your own poets have said,
“ ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ ESV
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
11/24/2017 Bob Gass
‘Clothe yourselves with humility.’
(1 Pe 5:4–5) 5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” ESV
The Bible says: ‘Clothe yourselves with humility…for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble…humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you’ (vv. 5-7 NASB). Let’s break this Scripture down into four parts: 1) ‘Clothe yourselves with humility.’ In this context the word clothe refers to a white scarf or apron that was typically worn by servants. Does that mean you have to conform to everybody’s wishes? No; if you do that everybody else may like you but you won’t like yourself. Just be who God called you to be, and be willing to serve others as the opportunity arises. 2) ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less and putting others first. 3) ‘Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.’ Throughout Scripture ‘the mighty hand of God’ symbolises two things: God’s hand of discipline and His hand of deliverance, and you need both. So submit to His discipline and you’ll experience His deliverance. 4) ‘Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.’ Here Peter addresses one of our core human concerns: that if we don’t look out for ourselves nobody else will. But if we really believe God ‘cares’ for us we needn’t worry about serving our own interest. We’re free to focus on the needs of others, confident that God will spare nothing when it comes to meeting our needs.
2 Pet 2
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
He was sentenced to the be a galley slave on a French ship, but after several grueling years he escaped and came back to Scotland to preach. He confronted Mary, Queen of Scots, and so convincingly evangelized that by year 1560 the Scottish Parliament established Presbyterianism as the national faith. His name was John Knox, and he died this day, November 24, 1572. One of his descendants was the Reverend John Witherspoon, who signed the Declaration of Independence and was President of Princeton, teaching many of America’s founders. John Knox stated: “A man with God is always in the majority.”
by C.S. Lewis
Reflections on the Intimate Dialogue
Between Man and God
As you say, the problems about prayer which really press upon a man when he is praying for dear life are not the general and philosophical ones; they are those that arise within Christianity itself. At least, this is so for you and me. We have long since agreed that if our prayers are granted at all they are granted from the foundation of the world. God and His acts are not in time. Intercourse between God and man occurs at particular moments for the man, but not for God. If there is-as the very concept of prayer presupposes-an adaptation between the free actions of men in prayer and the course of events, this adaptation is from the beginning inherent in the great single creative act. Our prayers are heard-don't say "have been heard" or you are putting God into time-not only before we make them but before we are made ourselves.
The real problems are different. Is it our faith that prayers, or some prayers, are real causes? But they are not magical causes: they don't, like spells, act directly on nature. They act, then, on nature through God? This would seem to imply that they act on God. But God, we believe, is impassible. All theology would reject the idea of a transaction in which a creature was the agent and God the patient.
It is quite useless to try to answer this empirically by producing stories-though you and I could tell strange ones of striking answers to prayer. We shall be told, reasonably enough, that post hoc is not propter hoc. The thing we prayed for was going to happen anyway. Our action was irrelevant. Even a fellow-creature's action which fulfills our request may not be caused by it; he does what we ask, but perhaps he would equally have done so without our asking. Some cynics will tell us that no woman ever married a man because he proposed to her: she always elicits the proposal because she has determined to marry him.
In these human instances we believe, when we do believe, that our request was the cause, or a cause, of the other party's action, because we have from deep acquaintance a certain impression of that party's character. Certainly not by applying the scientific procedures-control experiments, etc. -for establishing causes. Similarly we believe, when we do believe, that the relation between our prayer and the event is not a mere coincidence only because we have a certain idea of God's character. Only faith vouches for the connection. No empirical proof could establish it. Even a miracle, if one occurred, "might have been going to happen anyway."
Again, in the most intimate human instances we really feel that the category of cause and effect will not contain what actually happens. In a real "proposal"-as distinct from one in an old-fashioned novel-is there any agent patient relation? Which drop on the window pane moves to join the other?
Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
The great act of faith
is when man decides that he is not God.
--- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
The very contradictions in my life
are in some ways signs
of God's mercy to me.
--- Thomas Merton
Choosing to Love the World:
To see only what is there is to be as blind as the night.
--- Annalyn Joie Tran
Mankind is at its best when it is most free. This will be clear if we grasp the principle of liberty. We must recall that the basic principle of liberty is freedom of choice, which saying many have on their lips but few in their minds.
--- Dante Alighieri
... from here, there and everywhere
by D.H. Stern
but the wise, thinking of afterwards, stills them.
12 If a ruler listens to lies,
all his officials will be wicked.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
Direction of aspiration
Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their master, … so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God. --- Psalm 123:2.
This verse is a description of entire reliance upon God. Just as the eyes of the servant are riveted on his master, so our eyes are up unto God and our knowledge of His countenance is gained (cf. Isaiah 53:1. R.V.). Spiritual leakage begins when we cease to lift up our eyes unto Him. The leakage comes not so much through trouble on the outside as in the imagination, when we begin to say—‘I expect I have been stretching myself a bit too much, standing on tiptoe and trying to look like God instead of being an ordinary humble person.’ We have to realize that no effort can be too high.
For instance, you came to a crisis when you made a stand for God and had the witness of the Spirit that all was right, but the weeks have gone by, and the years maybe, and you are slowly coming to the conclusion, ‘Well, after all, was I not a bit too pretentious? Was I not taking a stand a bit too high?’ Your rational friends come and say—‘Don’t be a fool, we knew when you talked about this spiritual awakening that it was a passing impulse, you can’t keep up the strain, God does not expect you to.’ And you say—‘Well, I suppose I was expecting too much.’ It sounds humble to say it, but it means that reliance on God has gone and reliance on worldly opinion has come in. The danger is lest, no longer relying on God, you ignore the lifting up of your eyes to Him. Only when God brings you to a sudden halt, will you realize how you have been losing out. Whenever there is a leakage, remedy it immediately. Recognize that something has been coming between you and God, and get it readjusted at once.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
I switch on, tune in
the marvellous languages
of the peoples of the planet,
discussing the weather! Thousands of years
speech was evolving-that line of trees
on the hill slope has the illusion
of movement. I think of man
on his mountain; he has paused
now for lack of the oxygen
of the spirit; the easier options
surround him, the complacencies of being
half-way up. He needs some breath
from the summit, a stench rising
to him from the valley from
which he has toiled to release
his potential; a memory rather
of those bright flags, that other
climbers of other mountains
have planted and gone
their way, not down but on
up the incline of their choosing.
The Poems of R.S. Thomas
Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest
As for the “four species that constitute a lulav,” the Sages, may their memory be blessed, have set forth some reason for this in the manner of midrashim whose method is well known by all those who understand their discourses. For these [namely, the midrashim] have, in their opinion, the status of poetical conceits; they are not meant to bring out the meaning of the text in question.… What seems to me regarding the “four species that constitute a lulav” is that they are indicative of the joy and gladness [felt by the Children of Israel] when they left the desert—which was “a place with no grain or figs or vines or pomegranates … There is not even water to drink”—for places in which there were fruit-bearing trees and rivers. For the purpose of commemoration, the finest fruit of these places was taken and the one that was most fragrant, as well as their finest leaves and finest verdure, I mean the willows of the brook. Three things are found in common in these four species. The first one is that at that time they were plentiful in the Land of Israel so that everyone could procure them. The second one is that they are beautiful to look at and full of freshness; and some of them, namely the citron and the myrtle have an excellent fragrance, while the branches of the palm tree and the willow have neither a good nor an offensive smell. The third one is that they keep fresh for seven days, which is not the case with peaches, pomegranates, asparagus, pears, and the like.
As for the prohibition against hewing the stones of the altar, you know the reason [the Sages] have given for this in their dictum: “It is not fitting for that which shortens [human life] to be lifted up against that which prolongs it.” This is excellent in the manner of the midrashim, as we have mentioned. However, the reason for this is manifest, for the idolators used to build altars with hewn stones.
Maimonides recognized the subjective freedom which the talmudic rabbis allowed themselves in their attempt to make Torah significant for their generation. For the religious Jew, Torah was not the product of a culture of the past, but was renewed again and again in each generation. Regarding the biblical text, “Take to heart these instructions with which I charge you this day,” the Sifre states: “They should not be in your eyes as an antiquated royal command to which no one looks with respect, but as one newly given which all run to welcome.” (Sifre on Deuteronomy ) Although Maimonides accepted and valued this approach to Torah, he was insistent that one should not use the teachings which midrashic writers themselves derive from the text as a basis for understanding the intention of the Author of the Bible.
Maimonides was explicit in maintaining that he was not attempting to explain the meaning of Torah as it was practiced in his time:
And he who has deprived someone of a member, shall be deprived of a similar member: “The injury he inflicted on another shall be inflicted on him.” You should not engage in cogitation concerning the fact that in such a case we punish by imposing a fine. For at present my purpose is to give reasons for the [biblical] texts and not for the pronouncements of the legal science.
His primary concern in the Guide was not with the law as practiced by his community, but with the law as a reflection of the nature of its Author. He was not attempting to inspire one to observe commandments, but to convince his reader that nature and Torah reveal the same God. In order that the philosophically trained Jew be convinced that his love for the God of being need not be compromised by his embracing of Torah, he must be shown that the God of revelation gave men laws which were useful.
For the philosophic Jew drawn to a conception of God revealed by reason, Maimonides provides a concept of the God of Israel which can be understood and appreciated by all rational men. Maimonides does this with both the beliefs and the norms of tradition. Once the philosophic Jew accepts that “Indeed, all things proceed from one Deity and one Agent and ‘have been given from one Shepherd,’ ” he is prepared to listen to how the Halakhah, in fact, can give expression to his theocentric passion.
Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest
“See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah … has triumphed.…” Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain.
--- Revelation 5:5–6.
There meet in the person of Christ [other] diverse qualities that would have been thought incompatible in the same person. The Excellency of Christ
The deepest reverence toward God and equality with God. Christ, when on earth, appeared full of holy reverence toward the Father. He paid worship to him, praying to him with postures of reverence: He “knelt down and prayed” (Luke 22:41). This became Christ as one who had taken on him the human nature, but at the same time he existed in the divine nature, so that his person was in every way equal to the person of the Father. God the Father has no attribute or perfection that the Son has not, in equal degree and equal glory.
Infinite worthiness of good and the greatest patience under sufferings of evil. He was perfectly innocent and deserved no suffering. He deserved nothing from God by any guilt of his own, and he deserved no ill from human beings. Yes, he was not only undeserving of suffering, but he was infinitely worthy—worthy of the infinite love of the Father, worthy of infinite and eternal happiness, and infinitely worthy of all possible esteem, love, and service from all peoples.
And yet he was perfectly patient under the greatest sufferings that ever were endured in this world: He “endured the cross, scorning its shame” (Heb. 12:2). He suffered nothing from his Father for his faults but for ours, and he suffered from humans not for his faults but for those things for which he was infinitely worthy of their love and honor, which made his patience the more wonderful and the more glorious: “How is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.’ When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:20–24). There is no such coming together of innocence, worthiness, and patience under sufferings as in the person of Christ.
--- Jonathan Edwards
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
The Bifocals of Faith
Perhaps it was his Scottish accent. Perhaps his playful smile. Perhaps the simplicity of his preaching, or maybe it was his prayers with their pungent twists of boldness. For whatever reason, Peter Marshall is remembered as one of the most beloved Senate Chaplains in American history.
Marshall immigrated to the United States, arriving at Ellis Island in 1927, only 19 years before being named Senate Chaplain. He pastored in Georgia, then at Washington’s New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. On January 5, 1947 he was named Senate Chaplain, and his prayers immediately touched the nation.
Here is his “Bifocals of Faith” prayer, offered before the United States Senate on November 24, 1947:
God of our fathers and our God, give us the faith to believe in the ultimate triumph of righteousness, no matter how dark and uncertain are the skies of today.
We pray for the bifocals of faith—that see the despair and the need of the hour but also see, further on, the patience of our God working out his plan in the world he has made.
So help thy servants to interpret for our time the meaning of the motto inscribed on our coins. Make our faith honest by helping us this day to do one thing because thou hast said, “Do it,” or to abstain because thou hast said, “Thou shalt not.”
How can we say we believe in thee, or even want to believe in thee, when we do not anything thou dost tell us? May our faith be seen in our works. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Just over a year later Peter Marshall, 46 years old, was rushed to the hospital with severe pain in his chest and arms. A massive heart attack took his life, and the entire nation mourned his death. But his prayers, sermons, and life have been immortalized in Christian literature through the efforts of his wife and biographer, Catherine Marshall.
When you pray, don’t talk on and on as people who don’t know God. They think God likes to hear long prayers. Don’t be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask. You should pray like this: Our Father in heaven, help us to honor your name.
--- Matthew 6:7–9.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
God Is In The Manger (5)
Although Bonhoeffer's death (and the narrow timing of it) is tragic, we are fortunate that he was a prolific writer who left behind so many lectures, papers, letters, and diary entries from which we may piece together his theology.
God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - November 24
“The glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams.” --- Isaiah 33:21.
Broad rivers and streams produce fertility, and abundance in the land. Places near broad rivers are remarkable for the variety of their plants and their plentiful harvests. God is all this to his Church. Having God she has abundance. What can she ask for that he will not give her? What want can she mention which he will not supply? “In this mountain shall the Lord of Hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things.” Want ye the bread of life? It drops like manna from the sky. Want ye refreshing streams? The rock follows you, and that Rock is Christ. If you suffer any want it is your own fault; if you are straitened you are not straitened in him, but in your own bowels. Broad rivers and streams also point to commerce. Our glorious Lord is to us a place of heavenly merchandise. Through our Redeemer we have commerce with the past; the wealth of Calvary, the treasures of the covenant, the riches of the ancient days of election, the stores of eternity, all come to us down the broad stream of our gracious Lord. We have commerce, too, with the future. What galleys, laden to the water’s edge, come to us from the millennium! What visions we have of the days of heaven upon earth! Through our glorious Lord we have commerce with angels; communion with the bright spirits washed in blood, who sing before the throne; nay, better still, we have fellowship with the Infinite One. Broad rivers and streams are specially intended to set forth the idea of security. Rivers were of old a defence. Oh! beloved, what a defence is God to his Church! The devil cannot cross this broad river of God. How he wishes he could turn the current, but fear not, for God abideth immutably the same. Satan may worry, but he cannot destroy us; no galley with oars shall invade our river, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby.
Evening - November 24
“Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: so shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.” --- Proverbs 24:33, 34.
The worst of sluggards only ask for a little slumber; they would be indignant if they were accused of thorough idleness. A little folding of the hands to sleep is all they crave, and they have a crowd of reasons to show that this indulgence is a very proper one. Yet by these littles the day ebbs out, and the time for labour is all gone, and the field is grown over with thorns. It is by little procrastinations that men ruin their souls. They have no intention to delay for years—a few months will bring the more convenient season—to-morrow if you will, they will attend to serious things; but the present hour is so occupied and altogether so unsuitable, that they beg to be excused. Like sands from an hour-glass, time passes, life is wasted by driblets, and seasons of grace lost by little slumbers. Oh, to be wise, to catch the flying hour, to use the moments on the wing! May the Lord teach us this sacred wisdom, for otherwise a poverty of the worst sort awaits us, eternal poverty which shall want even a drop of water, and beg for it in vain. Like a traveller steadily pursuing his journey, poverty overtakes the slothful, and ruin overthrows the undecided: each hour brings the dreaded pursuer nearer; he pauses not by the way, for he is on his master’s business and must not tarry. As an armed man enters with authority and power, so shall want come to the idle, and death to the impenitent, and there will be no escape. O that men were wise be-times, and would seek diligently unto the Lord Jesus, or ere the solemn day shall dawn when it will be too late to plough and to sow, too late to repent and believe. In harvest, it is vain to lament that the seed time was neglected. As yet, faith and holy decision are timely. May we obtain them this night.
Morning and Evening
NOW THANK WE ALL OUR GOD
Martin Rinkart, 1586–1649
English Translation—Catherine Winkworth, 1827–1878
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. (Romans 8:35, 37
From some of the severest human sufferings imaginable during the 30 Years’ War of 1618–48—a war that has been described as the most devastating in all history—this great hymn of the church was born.
Martin Rinkart was called at the age of 31 to pastor the state Lutheran church in his native city of Eilenberg, Germany. He arrived there just as the dreadful bloodshed of the 30 Years’ War began, and there Rinkart spent the remaining 32 years of his life faithfully ministering to these needy people.
Germany, the battleground of this conflict between warring Catholic and Protestant forces from various countries throughout Europe, was reduced to a state of misery that baffles description. The German population dwindled from 16 million to 6 million. Because Eilenberg was a walled city, it became a frightfully over-crowded refuge for political and military fugitives from far and near. Throughout these war years several waves of deadly diseases and famines swept the city, as the various armies marched through the town, leaving death and destruction in their wake. The plague of 1637 was particularly severe. At its height Rinkart was the only minister remaining to care for the sick and dying.
Martin Rinkart’s triumphant, personal expressions of gratitude and confidence in God confirm for each of us this truth taught in Scripture, that as God’s children, we too can be “more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
Now thank we all our God with hearts and hands and voices, who wondrous things hath done, in whom His world rejoices; who from our mothers’ arms hath blessed us on our way with countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.
O may this bounteous God thru all our life be near us, with ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us; and keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed, and free us from all ills in this world and the next.
All praise and thanks to God the father now be given, the Son and Him who reigns with Them in highest heaven—The one eternal God whom earth and heav’n adore—for thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.
For Today: 1 Chronicles 16:36; Psalm 147; 1 Corinthians 15:57, 58
God wants us to be victors and not the victims of life. With His presence we can overcome and not be overwhelmed. Carry this musical truth with you ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
6. The goodness of God comprehends all his attributes. All the acts of God are nothing else but the effluxes of his goodness, distinguished by several names, according to the objects it is exercised about. As the sea, though it be one mass of water, yet we distinguish it by several names, according to the shores it washeth, and beats upon; as the British and German Ocean, though all be one sea. When Moses longed. to see his glory, God tells him, he would give him a prospect of his goodness (Ex. 33:19): “I will make all my goodness to pass before thee.” His goodness is his glory and Godhead, as much as is delightfully visible to his creatures, and whereby he doth benefit man: “I will cause my goodness,” or “comeliness,” as Calvin renders it, “to pass before thee;” what is this, but the train of all his lovely perfections springing from his goodness? the whole catalogue of mercy, grace, long-suffering, abundance of truth, summed up in this one word (Ex. 34:6). All are streams from this fountain; he could be none of this, were he not first good. When it confers happiness without merit, it is grace; when it bestows happiness against merit, it is mercy; when he bears with provoking rebels, it is long-suffering; when he performs his promise, it is truth; when it meets with a person to whom it is not obliged, it is grace; when he meets with a person in the world, to which he hath obliged himself by promise, it is truth; when it commiserates a distressed person, it is pity; when it supplies an indigent person, it is bounty; when it succors an innocent person, it is righteousness; and when it pardons a penitent person, it is mercy; all summed up in this one name of goodness; and the Psalmist expresseth the same sentiment in the same words (Psalm 145:7, 8): “They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness. The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger, and of great mercy; the Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over his works.” He is first good, and then compasssionate. Righteousness is often in Scripture taken, not for justice, but charitableness; this attribute, saith one, is so full of God, that it doth deify all the rest, and verify the adorableness of him. His wisdom might contrive against us, his power bear too hard upon us; one might be too hard for an ignorant, and the other too mighty for an impotent creature; his holiness would scare an impure and guilty creature, but his goodness conducts them all for us, and makes them all amiable to us; whatever comeliness they have in the eye of a creature, whatever comfort they afford to the heart of a creature, we are obliged for all to his goodness. This puts all the rest upon a delightful exercise; this makes his wisdom design for us, and this makes his power to act for us; this veils his holiness from affrighting us, and this spirits his mercy to relieve us: all his acts towards man, are but the workmanship of this. What moved him at first to create the world out of nothing, and erect so noble a creature as man, endowed with such excellent gifts; was it not his goodness? what made him separate his Son to be a sacrifice for us, after we had endeavored to rase out the first marks of his favor; was it not a strong bubbling of goodness? What moves him to reduce a fallen creature to the due sense of his duty, and at last bring him to an eternal felicity; is it not, only his goodness? This is the captain attribute that leads the rest to act. This attends them, and spirits them in all his ways of acting. This is the complement and perfection of all his works; had it not been for this, which set all the rest on work, nothing of his wonders had been seen in creation, nothing of his compassions had been seen in redemption,
II. . The second thing is, some propositions to explain the nature of this goodness.
1. He is good by his own essence. God is not only good in his essence, but good by his essence; the essence of “every created being is good;” so the unerring God pronounced everything which he had made (Gen. 1:31). The essence of the worst creatures, yea, of the impure and savage devils, is good; but they are not good per essentiam, for then they could not be bad, malicious, and oppressive. God is good, as he is God; and therefore good by himself; and from himself, not by participation from another; he made everything good, but none made him good; since his goodness was not received from another, he is good by his own nature. He could not receive it from the things he created, they are later than he; since they received all from him, they could bestow nothing on him; and no God preceded him, in whose inheritance and treasures of goodness, he could be a successor; he is absolutely his own goodness, he needed none to make him good; but all things needed him, to be good by him. Creatures are good by being made so by him, and cleaving to him; he is good without cleaving to any goodness without him. Goodness is not a quality in him, but a nature; not a babit added to his essence, but his essence itself; he is not first God, and then afterwards good; but he is good as he is God; his essence, being one and the same, is formally and equally God and good. Αυιάγαθον, “good of himself,” was one of the names the Platonists gave him. He is essentially good in his own nature, and not by any outward action which follows his essence. He is an independent Being, and hath nothing of goodness or happiness from anything without him, or anything he doth act about. If he were not good by his essence, he could not be eternally good, he could not be the first good; he would have something before him, from whence he derived that goodness wherewith he is possessed; nor could he be perfectly good, for he could not be equally good to that from whom he derived his goodness; no star, no splendid body, that derives light from the sun, doth equal that sun by which it is enlightened. Hence his goodness must be infinite, and circumscribed by no limits; the exercise of his goodness may be limited by himself; but his goodness, the principle, cannot; for since his essence is infinite, and his goodness is not distinguished from his essence, it is infinite also; if it were limited, it were finite; he cannot be bounded by anything without him; if so, then he were not God, because he would have something superior to him, to put bars in his way; if there were anything to fix him, it must be a good or evil being; good it cannot be, for it is the property of goodness to encourage goodness, not to bound it; evil it cannot be, for then it would extinguish goodness, as well as limit it; it would not be content with the circumscribing it, without destroying it; for it is the nature of every contrary, to endeavor the destruction of its opposite. He is essentially good by his own essence; therefore, good of himself; therefore, eternally good; and therefore, abundantly good.
2. God is the prime and chief goodness. Being good per se, and by his own essence, he must needs be the chief goodness, in whom there can be nothing but good, from whom there can proceed nothing but good, to whom all good whatsoever must be referred, as the final cause of all good. As he is the chief Being, so he is the chief good; and as we rise by steps from the existence of created things, to acknowledge one Supreme Being, which is God, so we mount by steps from the consideration of the goodness of created things, to acknowledge one Infinite Ocean of sovereign goodness, whence the streams of created goodness are derived. When we behold things that partake of goodness from another , we must acquiesce in one that hath goodness by participation from no other, but originally from himself, and therefore supremely in himself above all other things: so that, as nothing greater and. more majestic can be imagined, so also nothing better and more excellent can be conceived than God. Nothing can add to him, or make him better than he is; nothing can detract from him, to make him worse; nothing can be added to him, nothing can be severed from him; no created good can render him more excellent; no evil, from any creature, can render him less excellent; “our goodness extends not to him” (Psalm 16:2); “wickedness may hurt a man, as we are, and our righteousness may profit the son of man; but, if we be righteous, what give we to Him, or what receives he at our hands” (Job 35:7, 8)? as he hath no superior in place above him, so, being chief of all, he cannot be made better by any inferior to him. How can he be made better by any that hath from himself all that he hath? The goodness of a creature may be changed, but the goodness of the Creator is immutable; he is always like himself, so good that he cannot be evil, as he is so blessed that he cannot be miserable. Nothing is good but God, because nothing is of itself but God; as all things, being from nothing, are nothing in comparison of God, so all things, being from nothing, are scanty and evil in comparison of God. If anything had been, ex Deo, God being the matter of it, it had been as good as God is, but since the principle, whence all things were drawn, was nothing, though the efficient cause by which they were extracted from nothing was God, they are as nothing in goodness, and not estimable in comparison of God (Psalm 73:25): “Whom have I in heaven but thee?”
God is all good; every creature hath a distinct variety of goodness: God distinctly pronounced every day’s work in the creation “good.” Food communicates the goodness of its nourishing virtue to our bodies; flowers the goodness of their odors to our smell; every creature a goodness of comeliness to our sight; plants the goodness of healing qualities for our cure; and all derive from themselves a goodness of knowledge, objectively to our understandings. The sun, by one sort of goodness, warms us; metals enrich us; living creatures sustain us, and delight us by another; all those have distinct kinds of goodness, which are eminently summed up in God, and are all but parts of his immense goodness. It is he that enlightens us by his sun, nourisheth us by bread (Matt. 4:4): “It is not by bread alone that we live, but by the word of God.” It is all but his own supreme goodness, conveyed to us through those varieties of conduitpipcs. “God is all good;” other things are good in their kind; as, a good man, a good angel, a good tree, a good plant; but God hath a good of all kinds eminently in his nature. He is no less all-good, than he is almighty, and all-knowing; as the sun contains in it all the light, and more light than is in all the clearest bodies in the world, so doth God contain in himself all the good, and more good than is in the richest creatures.
Nothing is good, but as it resembles him; as nothing is hot, but as it resembles fire, the prime subject of heat. God is omnipotent, therefore no good can be wanting to him. If he were destitute of any which he could not have, he were not almighty: he is so good, that there is no mixture of anything which can be called not good in him; everything besides him wants some good, which others have. Nothing can be so evil as God is good. There can be no evil but there is some mixture of good with it; no nature so evil but there is some spark of goodness in it: but God is a good which hath no taint of evil; nothing can be so supreme an evil as God is supreme goodness. He is only good, without capacity of increase; he is all good, and unmixedly good; none good but God: a goodness, like the sun, that hath all light, and no darkness. That is the second thing; he is the supreme and chief goodness.
3. This goodness is communicative. None so communicatively good as God. As the notion of God includes goodness, so the notion of goodness includes diffusiveness; without goodness he would cease to be a Deity, and without diffusiveness he would cease to be good. The being good is necessary to the being God; for goodness is nothing else, in the notion of it, but a strong inclination to do good; either to find or make an object, wherein to exercise itself, according to the propension of its own nature; and it is an inclination of communicating itself, not for its own interest, but the good of the object it pitcheth upon. Thus God is good by nature; and his nature is not without activity; he acts conveniently to his own nature (Psalm 119:68): “Thou art good, and dost good.” And nothing accrues to him, by the communications of himself to others, since his blessedness was as great before the frame of any creature as ever it was since the erecting of the world; so that the goodness of Christ himself increaseth not the lustre of his happiness (Psalm 16:2): “My goodness extends not to thee.” He is not of a niggardly and envious nature; he is too rich to have any cause to envy, and too good to have any will to envy; he is as liberal as he is rich, according to the capacity of the object about which his goodness is exercised. The Divine goodness, being the supreme goodness, is goodness in the highest degree of activity; not an idle, enclosed, pent up goodness, as a spring shut up, or a fountain sealed, bubbling up within itself, but bubbling out of itself: a fountain of gardens to water every part of his creation; “He is an ointment poured forth” (Cant. 1:3): nothing spreads itself more than oil, and takes up a larger space wheresoever it drops. It may be no less said of the goodness of God, as it is of the fulness of Christ (Eph. 1:23); “He fills all in all:” he fills rational creatures with understanding, sensitive nature with vigor and motion, the whole world with beauty and sweetness. Every taste, every touch of a creature, is a taste and touch of Divine goodness. Divine goodness offers itself in one spark in this creature, in another spark in the other creature, and altogether make up a goodness inconceivable by any creature. The whole mass, and extracted spirit of it, is infinitely short of the goodness of the Divine nature, imperfect shadows of that goodness which is in himself. Indeed, the more excellent anything is, the more nobly it acts; how remotely doth light, that excellent brightness of the creation, disperse itself! How doth that glorious creature, which God hath set in the heavens, spread its wings over heaven and earth, roll itself about the world, cast its beams upward and downward, insinuate into all corners, pierce the depths, and shoot up its rays into the heights, encircle the higher and lower creatures in its arms, reach out its communications to influence everything under the earth, as well as dart its beams of light and heat on things above, or upon the earth! “Nothing is hid from it” (Psalm 19:6); not from its power, nor from its sweetness. How communicative also is water, a necessary and excellent creature! How active is it in a river, to nourish the living creatures engendered in its womb! refresheth every shore it runs by; promotes the propagation of fruits for the nourishment, and bestows a verdure upon the ground, for the delight of man; and where it cannot reach the higher ground in its substance, it doth by its vapors, mounted up and concocted by the sun, and gently distilled upon the earth, for the opening its womb to bring forth its fruits. God is more prone to communicate himself, than the sun to spread its wings, or the earth to mount up its fruits, or the water to multiply living creatures.
Goodness is his nature. Hence were there internal communications of himself from eternity; diffusions of himself, without himself, in time, in the creation of the world, like a full vessel running over. He created the world that he might impart his goodness to something without him, and diffuse larger measures of his goodness, after he had laid the first foundation of it in his being; and therefore he created several sorts of creatures, that they might be capable of various and distinct measures of his liberality, according to the distinct capacities of their nature, but imparted most to the rational creature, because that is only capable of an understanding to know him, and will to embrace him. He is the highest goodness, and therefore a communicative goodness, and acts excellently according to his nature.
4. God is necessarily good. None is necessarily good but God; he is as necessarily good, as he is necessarily God. His goodness is as inseparable from his nature as his holiness. He is good by nature, not only by will; as he is holy by nature, not only by will, he is good in his nature, and good in his actions; and as he cannot be bad in his nature, so he cannot be bad in his communications; he can no more act contrary to this goodness in any of his actions, than he can un-God himself. It is not necessary that God should create a world; he was at his own choice whether he would create or no; but when he resolves to make a world, it is necessary that he should make it good, because he is goodness itself, and cannot act against his own nature. He could not create anything without goodness in the very act; the very act of creation, or communicating being to anything without himself, is in itself an act of goodness, as well as an act of power; had he not been good in himself, nothing could have been endued with any goodness by him. In the act of giving being, he is liberal; the being he bestows is a displaying his own liberality; he could not confer what he needs not, and which could not be deserved, without being bountiful; since what was nothing, could not merit to be brought into being, the very act of giving to nothing a being, was an act of choice goodness. He could not create anything without goodness as the motive, and the necessary motive; his goodness could not necessitate him to make the world, but his goodness could only move him to resolve to make a world; he was not bound to erect and fashion it because of his goodness, but he could not frame it without his goodness as the moving cause. He could not create anything, but he must create it good. It had been inconsistent with the supreme goodness of his nature, to have created only murderous, ravenous, injurious creatures; to have created a bedlam rather than a world: a mere heap of confusion would have been as inconsistent with his Divine goodness, as with his Divine wisdom. Again, when his goodness had moved him to make a creature, his goodness would necessarily move him to be beneficial to his creature; not that this necessity results from any merit in the creature, which he had framed; but from the excellency and diffusiveness of his own nature, and his own glory; the end for which he formed it, which would have been obscure, yea, nothing, without some degrees of his bounty. What occasion of acknowledgments and praise could the creature have for its being, if God had given him only a miserable being, while it was innocent in action? The goodness of God would not suffer him to make a creature, without providing conveniences for it, so long as he thought good to maintain its being, and furnishing it with that which was necessary to answer that end for which he created it; and his own nature would not suffer him to be unkind to his rational creature, while it was innocent. It had been injustice to inflict evil upon the creature, that had not offended, and had no relation to an offending creature; the nature of God could not have brought forth such an act: and, therefore, some say, that God, after he had created man , could not presently annihilate him, and take away his life and being. As a sovereign, he might do it; as Almighty, he was able to do it, as well as create him; but in regard of his goodness, he could not morally do it: for had he annihilated man as soon as ever he had made him, he had not made man for himself, and for his own glory; to be loved, worshipped, sought, and acknowledged by him. He would not then have been the end of man; he had created him in vain, and the world in vain, which he assures us he did not (Isa. 45:18, 19). And, certainly, if the gifts of God be without repentance, man could not have been annihilated after his creation, without repentance in God, without any cause, had not sin entered into the world. If God did not say to man, after sin had made its entrance into the world, “Seek ye me in vain,” he could not, because of his goodness, have said so to man in his innocence. As God is necessarily mind, so he is necessarily will; as he is necessarily knowing, so he is necessarily loving. He could not be blessed, if he did not know himself, and his own perfection; nor good, if he did not delight in himself, and his own perfections. And this goodness whereby he delights in himself, is the source of his delight in his creatures, wherein he sees the footsteps of himself. If he loves himself, he cannot but love the resemblance of himself, and the image of his own goodness. He loves himself, because he is the highest goodness and excellency; and loves everything as it resembles himself, because it is an efflux of his ow n goodness; and as he doth necessarily love himself, and his own excellency, so he doth necessarily love anything that resembles that excellency, which is the primary object of his esteem. But,
5. Though he be necessarily good, yet he is also freely good. The necessity of the goodness of his nature hinders not the liberty of his actions; the matter of his acting is not at all necessary, but the manner of his acting in a good and bountiful way, is necessary, as well as free. He created the world and man freely, because he might choose whether he would create it, but he created them good necessarily, because he was first necessarily good in his nature, before he was freely a Creator. When he created man , he freely gave him a positive law, but necessarily a wise and righteous law; because he was necessarily wise, and righteous, before he was freely a Lawgiver. When he makes a promise, he freely lets the word go out of his lips, but when he hath made it, he is necessarily a faithful performer; because he was necessarily true and righteous in his nature, before he was freely a promiser. God is necessarily good in his nature, but free in his communications of it; to make him necessarily to communicate his goodness in the first creation of the creature, would render him but impotent, good without liberty and without will; if the communications of it be not free, the eternity of the world must necessarily be concluded, which some anciently asserted from the naturalness of God’s goodness, making the world flow from God as light from the sun. God, indeed, is necessarily good, affective in regard of his nature, but freely good, affectivé, in regard of the effluxes of it to this or that particular subject he pitcheth on. He is not so necessarily communicative of his goodness as the sun of his light, or a tree of its cooling shade, that chooseth not its objects, but enlightens all indifferently, without any variation or distinction; this were to make God of no more understanding than the sun, to shine not where it pleaseth, but where it must. He is an understanding agent, and hath a sovereign right to choose his own subjects; it would not be a supreme goodness, if it were not a voluntary goodness. It is agreeable to the nature of the highest good, to be absolutely free, to dispense his goodness in what methods and measures he leaseth, according to the free determinations of his own will, guide by the wisdom of his mind, and regulated by the holiness of his nature. He is not to “give an account of any of his matters” (Job 33:13); “He will have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and he will have compassion on whom he will have compassion” (Rom. 9:15); and he will be good, to whom he will be good; when he doth act, he cannot but act well, so it is necessary; yet he may act this good or that good, to this or that degree, so it is free. As it is the perfection of his nature, it is necessary; as it is the communication of his bounty, it is voluntary. The eye cannot but see if it be open, yet it may glance upon this or that color, fix upon this or that object, as it is conducted by the will. God necessarily loves himself, because he is good, yet not by constraint, but freedom; because his affection to himself is from a knowledge of himself. He necessarily loves his own image, because it is his image; yet freely, because not blindly, but from motions of understanding and will. What necessity could there be upon him, to resolve to communicate his goodness? It could not be to make himself better by it, for he had a goodness incapable of any addition; he confers a goodness on his creatures, but reaps not a harvest of goodness to his own essence from his creatures. What obligation could there be from the creature, to confer a goodness on him to this or that degree, for this or that duration? If he had not created a man, nor angel, he had done them no wrong; if he had given them only a simple being, he had manifested a part of his goodness, without giving them a right to challenge any more of him; if he had taken away their beings after a time when he had answered his end, be had done them no injury for what law obliged him to enrich them, and leave them in that being wherein he had invested them, but his sole goodness? Whatever sparks of goodness any creature hath, are the free effusions of God’s bounty, the offspring of his own inclination to do well, the simple favor of the donor; not purchased, not merited by the creature. God is as unconstrained in his liberty, in all his communications, as infinite in his goodness, the fountain of them.
6. This goodness is communicative with the greatest pleasure. Moses desired to see his glory, God assures him he should see his goodness (Exod.33:18, 19); intimating that his goodness is his glory, and his glory his delight also. He sends not forth his blessings with an ill will; he doth not stay till they are squeezed from him; he prevents men with his blessings of goodness (Psalm 21:3); he is most delighted when he is most diffusive; and his pleasure in bestowing, is larger than his creature’s in possessing. He is not covetous of his own treasures. He lays up his goodness in order to laying it out with a complacency wholly divine. The jealousy princes have of their subjects makes them sparing of their gifts, for fear of giving them materials for rebellion: God’s foresight of the ill use men would make of his benefits damped him not in bestowing his largesses. He is incapable of envy; his own happiness can no more be diminished, than it can be increased. None can over-top him in goodness, because nothing hath any good but what is derived from him; his gifts are without repentance: sorrow hath no footing in him, who is infinitely happy, as well as infinitely good. Goodness and envy are inconsistent. How unjustly, then, did the devil accuse God! What God gives out of goodness, he gives with joy and gladness. He did not only will that we should be, but rejoice that he had brought us into being; he rejoiced in his works (Psalm 104:31), and his wisdom stood by him, “delighting in the habitable parts of the earth” (Prov. 8:31). He beheld the world after its creation with a complacency, and still governs it with the same pleasure wherewith he reviewed it. Infinite cheerfulness attends infinite goodness. He would not give, if he had not a pleasure that others should enjoy his goodness; since he is better than anything, and more communicative than anything; he is more joyful in giving out, than the sun can be to run its race, in pouring forth light. He is said only to repent, and grieve, when men answer not the obligations and ends of his goodness; which would be their own felicity, as well as his glory. Though he doth not force greater degrees of his goodness upon those that neglect it, yet he denies them not to those that solicit him for it: it is always greater pleasure to him to impart upon the importunities of the creatures, than it is to a mother to reach out her breast to her crying and longing infant. He is not wearied by the solicitations of men; he is pleased with their prayers, because he is pleased with the imparting of his own goodness: he seems to be in travail with it, longing to be delivered of it into the lap of his creature. He is as much delighted with petitions for his liberality in bestowing his best goodness, as princes are weary of the craving of their subjects. None can be so desirous to squeeze those that are under them, as God is delighted to enlarge his hand towards them. It is the nature of his goodness to be glad of men’s solicitations for it, because they are significant valuations of it, and therefore fit occasions for him to bestow it. Since he doth not delight in the unhappiness of any of his creatures, he certamly delights in what may conduce unto their felicity. He doth with the same delight multiply the effects of his goodness where his wisdom sees it convenient, as he beheld the first-fruits of his goodness with a complacency upon laying the top-stone of the creation.
7. The displaying of this goodness was the motive and end of all his works of creation and providence. God being infinitely wise, would not act without the highest reason, and for the highest end. The reason that induced him to create, must be of as great an eminency as himself: the motive could not be taken without him, because there was nothing but himself in being; it must be taken, therefore, from within himself, and from some one of those most excellent perfections whereby we conceive him. But, upon the exact consideration of all of them, none can seem to challenge that honor of being the motive of them, to resolve the setting forth any work, but his own goodness; this being the first thing manifest in his creation, seems to be the first thing moving him to a resolution to create. Wisdom may be considered as directing, power considered as acting, but it is natural to reflect upon goodness as moving the one to direct, and the other to act. Power was the principle of his action, wisdom the rule of his action, goodness the motive of his action; principle and rule are awakened by the motive, and subservient to the end. That which is the most amiable perfection in the Divine nature, and that which he first took notice of, as the footsteps of them, in the distinct view of every day’s work, and the general view of the whole frame, seems to claim the best right to be entitled the motive and end of his creation of things. God could have no end but himself, because there was nothing besides himself. Again, the end of every agent is that which he esteems good, and the best good for that kind of action: since nothing is to be esteemed good but God, nothing can be the ultimate end of God but himself, and his own goodness. What a man wills chiefly is his end; but God cannot will any other thing but himself as his end, because there is nothing superior to himself in goodness. He cannot will anything that supremely serves himself and his own goodness as his end; for, if he did, that which he wills must be superior to himself in goodness, and then he is not God; or inferior to him in goodness, and then he would not be righteous, in willing that which is a lower good before a higher. God cannot will anything as his end of acting, but him self, without undeifying himself.
God’s will being infinitely good, cannot move for anything but what is infinitely good; and, therefore, whatsoever God made, he made for himself (Prov. 16:4), that whatsoever he made might bear a badge of this perfection upon it, and be a discovery of his wonderful goodness: for the making things for himself doth not signify any indigence in God, that he made anything to increase his excellency (for that is capable of no addition), but to manifest his excellency. God possessing everything eminently in himself, did not create the world for any need he had of it; finite things were unable to make any accession to that which is infinite. Man, indeed, builds a house to be a shelter to him against wind and weather, and makes clothes to secure him from cold, and plants gardens for his recreation and health. God is above all those little helps; he did not make the world for himself in such a kind, but for himself, i.e. the manifestation of himself and the riches of his nature; not to make himself blessed, but to discover his own blessedness to his creatures, and to communicate something of it to them. He did not garnish the world with so much bounty, that he might live more happily than he did before, but that his rational creatures might have fit conveniences. As the end for which God demands the performance of our duty is not for his own advantage, but for our good (Deut. 10:13), so the end why he conferred upon us the excellency of such a being was for our good, and the discovery of his goodness to us; for had not God created the world, he had been wholly unknown to any but himself; he produced creatures, that he might be known: as the sun shines not only to discover other things, but to be seen itself in its beauty and brightness. God would create things, because he would be known in his glory and liberality; hence is it that he created intellectual creatures, because without them the rest of the creation could not be taken notice of: it had been in some sort in vain; for no nature lower than an understanding nature, was able to know the marks of God in the creation, and acknowledge him as God. In this regard, God is good above all creatures, because he intends only to comrnunicate his goodness in creation, not to acquire any goodness, or excellency from them, as men do in their framing of things. God is all, and is destitute of nothing, and, therefore, nothing accrues to him by the creation, but the acknowledgment of his goodness. This goodness, therefore, must be the motive and end of all his works.
The Existence and Attributes of God
Craig S. Keener
The Romans Road
November 25, 2018
November 28, 2018
December 5, 2018
I Am Not Ashamed Of The Gospel
The Problems Of Perversity
The Route To Repentance
The Romans Road
Romans 1:1-7 pt 1
Obedience Through Faith
Romans 1:8-17 pt 2
I Am Not Ashamed
Romans 1:18-32 pt 3
The Wrath of God Revealed
Religion, Morality and Faith
Righteousness Through Faith
Called To Be 1
Called To Be 2
Called To Be 3
Called To Be 4
Called To Be Encouraged
Called To Be Encouraged 2
All Rise 1
All Rise 2
All Rise 3
Behind The Mask 1
Behind The Mask 2
Behind The Mask 3
Behind The Mask 4
Who Do You Think You Are?
Who Do You Think You Are? 2
Who Do You Think You Are? 3
Who Do You Think You Are? 4
Who Do You Think You Are? 5
An Unknown Religion
When Enough Is Not Enough
When Enough Is Not Enough 2
And The Answer Is
And The Answer Is 2
And The Answer Is 3
And The Answer Is 4
A Moment of Silence
Today's Your Day
Today's Your Day 2
The Direction Of Faith
The Direction Of Faith 2
The Direction Of Faith 3
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Brett Meador | Athey Creek
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s1-509 | I’m Glad I’m A Christian
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s1-510 | Circumcision
October 31, 2010
November 17, 2010
s1-511 | Circumcision
November 21, 2010
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s1-512 | The Jews - Still Chosen?
November 28, 2010