Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Hercules Collins book


There have been several announcements in the blogosphere about the new book on Hercules Collins edited by Steve Weaver and Michael Haykin. I am now a little over half way through reading the book, and it is really good. The book begins with a brief biographical sketch and the rest of the book is excerpts from his writings. This is a great way to introduce writers from the past who have been largely forgotten. I am not sure I would commit time to starting a lengthy book by someone I don’t know, but it is easy to take up a little book like this. Then, once I discover in these excerpts gems of real spiritual insight and pastoral warmth I am very interested in reading more. This also has made me very interested in the series in general.

One thing I have most appreciated in the book is Collins’ comments on contentment. I find contentment to be one of the most significant issues I deal with in shepherding the flock. Singles find it hard to be content without marriage. Couples who do not yet have children find contentment difficult without children. Those with young children struggle to be content with the labor and limitations that a young family brings. Those who are older may find it difficult to be content with limitations of age. Collins speaks well to this issue, and as one who was persecuted and imprisoned for the faith he speaks with authority. He exhorts us to trust God, to remember that God knows our situation and to see that endurance under trials proves the reality of our faith to a watching world.


“For, as a tree is known by his fruit, so is a Christian by a patient wearing [of] Christ’s cross. This will and hath convinced an adversary, when a bare profession will not. And though a man should make a great profession, or preach with great demonstration of truth, . . . an unsuitable living, or a sinful declining [of] sufferings, may greatly hinder the belief of the truth.” 36

“How much of the presence of Christ have they had to enable them to bear the cross quietly, patiently, contentedly, not like a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke. And some cannot boast of raptures and ecstasies, yet they have cause to bless God for making good that promise to them, John 16:33, that as in the world they have tribulation, so in Christ peace.” 51

“Thinking people will conclude they must needs be the Lord’s that suffer patiently under such apparent wrong.” 54

“We can never know God as we ought without temptations. … In this school of affliction it is that the soul is taught to suck sweetness out of the Word of God.” 75
This is a great little book, one to read yourself and to pass on to church members.

2 comments:

Joel Maners said...

I think that you've hit on soemthing here Ray. I always thought i was interesting that Paul told Timothy that godliness with contentment is great gain. It's as if the 2 don't necessarily go together. I believe that we sell Christianity as something that brings contentment but in many ways it brings conflict into people's lives. What they once had not questions about, they now wrestle with. Where once there were no expectations, we now have high expectations. This often leads to a crisis of faith. Perhaps we need to be focused on growing a deeper and more robust faith that can handle the discontent with this world.

Ray Van Neste said...

I agree Joel.