Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Challenge of Lack of Discipline in SBC

Last month I came across a very interesting discussion of the loss of discipline in Southern Baptist churches. This topic has been much discussed recently, but what made this essay particularly interesting is that it was written 50 years ago as part of a discussion held at Southern seminary when it was much less conservative. This quote from Theron Price seems to be all the more accurate as the decades have passed and is fruitful for consideration in light of the upcoming conference at Union.

“Finally, there is a current need to recover the sense of the dignity and authority of the church. This is increasingly difficult for Southern Baptists to achieve within the greatly changed patterns of Southern life. In principle Baptists have viewed a church as a congregation of saints, have stressed informed and responsible discipleship on the basis of personal regeneration. The Christian life has been viewed as one of ‘separation from the world and unto God.’ But success itself has risen up to threaten this! In becoming a mass movement and, in the South, all but a territorial church, Baptist have found it difficult to ‘separate.’ The Southern Baptist Convention is no longer in actual practice of a group of ‘gathered and disciplined churches.’ The more Southern Baptists succeed – at the surface level of mere numerical increase without
corresponding growth in biblical knowledge, theological competence, and ethical sensitivity – the more difficult it will become for them to be as Baptist in fact as they are in name. It is to this situation that a proper discipline must be directed. And it is, moreover, to this that realistic attention and earnest prayer need to be given.”

- Theron Price, “Discipline in the Church,” in Duke K. McCall,, ed. What is the Church? A Symposium of Baptist Thought(Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1958), 184-185.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Judson on Weekly Communion

I recently came across Edward Judson’s book, The Institutional Church: A Primer in Pastoral Theology(New York: Lentilhon, 1899; link is to a reprint) and found an interesting discussion of communion. Judson was the son of Adoniram Judson and had been born on the mission field. He served as pastor of Memorial Baptist Church in New York City from 1881 to 1914.

I found this interesting in his affirmation of weekly communion and the importance of joy and simplicity in the observance.

“We have found it very helpful to observe the Communion every Sunday morning. This seems to accord with the primitive custom of the church, the early Christians meeting on the first day of the week to break bread. Besides, the members of a down-town church are so widely scattered, and their attendance upon public worship is necessarily so desultory, that it is peculiarly wholesome and comfortable for them, whenever they come to church of a Sunday morning, to find awaiting them the simple repast that so vividly and pathetically symbolizes Christ’s sufferings and death on their behalf, and their deep mystical union with Him through faith and love. Otherwise, a long period might elapse without their sharing in this social rite, which constitutes the very essence of their membership in the visible and local church. ... Let the Communion be brief. In the very nature of the case, sign language is most vivid when first presented to the eye, and loses rather than gains in impressiveness, when too long continued. Communion should not be a doleful repast, but suffused with solemn joy. The prayers should be short, like grace at meat.” (57-58)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Conference Next Week At Union

The “Southern Baptists, Evangelicals and the Future of Denominationalism” Conference at Union University will begin Tues of next week and run through Friday. I am excited about this conference and the conversation that will be taking place here during it.
Three brief videos have recently been produced with three of our speakers talking about the upcoming conference.

Ed Stetzer:

Timothy George:

Mark Devine:

You can see the full line up of speakers here. I will be addressing the issue of pastoral ministry and how I believe our thinking in this area needs to change. I will essentially argue that for the future we need a return to the past, recapturing the grand tradition of the care of souls. I will be talking about some of this today on the radio from 4-5 pm on 88.7 FM in Jackson.
You can still register. I hope to see you here.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Elizabeth Prentiss, Communion Poem

For several years now I have enjoyed Elizabeth Prentiss’s poem collection titled Golden Hours (now nicely reprinted by Solid Ground Christian Books). I came back across this poem this week as I have been contemplating communion.

“In Remembrance of Me”

Dear Jesus, Thou this feast hast spread,
Invited guests are we;
We come as Thou hast bid us come,
Thus to remember Thee.

We come from sinful thought and aim,
More earnestly to flee;
Pardon to seek and grace to find,
As we remember Thee.

We come to thank Thee for Thy love
So rich, so full, so free;
To bless Thee, praise Thee, lose ourselves
As we remember Thee.

We come to lay the burdens down
That press most heavily;
To enter into perfect peace
As we remember Thee.

Our penitence, our love, our hope,
Oh condescend to see,
And let us “bear a song away”
As we remember Thee.

- Elizabeth Prentiss

Thursday, September 24, 2009

John Flavel on the Value of Communion

“This ordinance hath a direct and peculiar tendency to the improvement and strengthening of faith. It is a pledge superadded to the promise for faith’s sake: Heavenly and sublime mysteries do therein stoop down to your senses, that you may have the clearer apprehensions of them; and the clearer the apprehensions are, the stronger the assent of faith must needs be: By this seal also the promise comes to be more ratified to us; and the firmer the promise appears to the soul, the more bold and adventurous faith is in casting itself upon it.” [Flavel, Works, VI:45]

- Quoted in J. Stephen Yuille. The Inner Sanctum of Puritan Piety: John Flavel’s Doctrine of Mystical Union with Christ(Reformation Heritage Books, 2007), p. 102

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Gerald Bray at Union University

Gerald Bray is the Scholar-in-Residence at Union University this Fall. It is a great privilege for us to host Dr. Bray who is an amazing scholar and good friend. His intellect and wit are both legendary!

He will give a series of public lectures on the theme, “God is Love.” All the lectures will be held in Union’s Coburn Dining Room and the schedule and specific topics are as follows:

Tuesday, September 29 – 12:15 pm
“God’s Love for Himself”

Thursday, October 1 – 12:15 pm
“God’s Love for His Creation”

Friday, October 2 – 12:00 noon
“The Rejection of God’s Love”

Monday, October 5 – 12:00 noon
“God’s Response to the Rejection of His Love”

Dr. Bray will also speak on the debate between John Piper and N. T. Wright at our Christian Studies colloquium at 3:15 on September 29 in Jennings 325.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Maxwell on Ministry to Widow(er)s

My friend and fellow pastor, B J Maxwell, has written a wonderful and powerful exhortation on ministering to those who have lost a spouse titled, Cry for Her Now (or Thoughts on Ministry to Widow(er)s). He rightly notes the biblical mandate for this ministry (and how we might tend to avoid it) and then gives wise counsel on how to do this well.

This article is full of wisdom well-put. I cannot adequately summarize it here but will simply cite one paragraph to give you a feel for it.
Lesson: Learn to be a better husband from men who aren’t anymore. There is great benefit from the flood of new marriage books on the market. Slick covers depicting Tintselesque couples helping suburban families navigate the American dream. Read them, learn from them, practice them. But then go sit down with a Christian man who served his wife faithfully for decades but now sleeps alone. Watch him cry. Listen to him laugh. See his pictures. Enjoy his stories (again!). Imitate his faith. Make sure the thought of your wife makes you cry now so that you can cry without regret later.
I encourage you to take time to read the entire post and reflect on it.

Luther on the Value of the Bible

“Whoever believes and holds to Christ’s Word, heaven stands open to him, hell is shut, the devil is imprisoned, sins are forgiven, and he is a child of eternal life. That is what this book teaches you – the Holy Scripture – and no other book on earth.” - Martin Luther (WA 48:155)

“You must always have God’s Word in your heart, upon your lips, and in your ears. But where the heart is idle and the Word does not sound, the devil breaks in and has done the damage before we are aware [Matthew 13:24-30]. On the other hand, the Word is so effective that whenever it is seriously contemplated, heard, and used, it is bound never to be without fruit [Isaiah 55:11; Mark 4:20]. It always awakens new understanding, pleasure, and devoutness and produces a pure heart and pure thoughts [Philippians 4:8]. For these words are not lazy or dead, but are creative, living words [Hebrew 4:12]. (Large Catechism 1:100-101)” p. xi

[These quotes are used in the new Lutheran Study Bible]

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Lutheran Study Bible

The Lutheran Study Bible: English Standard Version
General Editor, Edward Engelbrecht

(Concordia Publishing House)

This is a significant, well done new study Bible. I have been really encouraged looking through this study Bible because of the faithful, reverent approach to the Scriptures. Since I am not a Lutheran, I will differ in places, but this is a really nice resource.

The Study Bible is based on the ESV text. It is truly an international project with contributors from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, England, Ethiopia, Finland, Germany, Ghana, Haiti, India, Kenya, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Russia, South Africa, Ukraine, and the US. As occasional illustrations it uses engravings by 19th century Lutheran artist, Julius Schnorr von Carlsfeld (who was influenced by Dürer and Holbein). As introductory matter helping people to read and understand the Bible it contains a nice summary essay on Bible reading and interpretation, an essay on Law & Gospel, Luther’s Small Catechism, and an essay on the unity of Scripture. It also has a copy of the lectionaries, a two-year reading plan, a topical index, and a significant “Biblical Chronology and World History.”

Within the Biblical text it keeps a running chronology and has four types of notes. First it has the regular study bible notes explaining various portions of the text. Second, there are “Law and Gospel Application Notes” which summarize sections calling for application and praise since Bible reading is to be a devotional act. Third, quotes from Church fathers are included in many places. Fourth there are extended articles in various places. Each book also has an introduction.

The notes are written from a clear, conservative, evangelical perspective. Kudos to Concordia for producing this useful study tool.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Monod, An Undivided Love

Adolphe Monod, AN UNDIVIDED LOVE: Loving and Living for Christ
Translated by Constance Walker
(Solid Ground Christian Books, 2009), pb., 200 pp.

Solid Ground Christian Books continues to do the church a great service by reprinting great old books, that many of would not know of otherwise. One of the latest examples is this wonderful little book by Monod.

I had not previously heard of Monod (1802-1856), but he has been described as being to 19th century France what Spurgeon was to Victorian England. Michael Haykin, in his blurb for the book, noted that English-speaking evangelicals tend to be ignorant of “the spiritual riches found in other Evangelical cultures,” and this strikes me as true. This book provides a great opportunity to remedy this ignorance.

I have enjoyed reading in this book, which is a collection of sermons. Monod sermons are rich, spiritually powerful and pastorally sensitive. In this volume he is regularly appealing to our yearning for joy and declaring that Christ is the only true source. In one place, he makes the very point C. S. Lewis made years later- our yearnings are too large for what this life alone cane yield. We must either define down our expectations or find a greater joy in Christ. This si the very point Lewis was making when he said we are too easily satisfied, our problem in not that we desire, but that we settle for dim pleasures. Then, as he declares the joy of being in Christ, he is also pastorally aware enough to address those who are currently suffering. He takes up several examples including this one:

“And you, my sister, who are inwardly consumed by the sweet and powerful need to love and be loved, none have appreciated the consolations of the family hearth better than you. Having been refused those consolations, you find yourself to be ‘lonely and afflicted’ (Psalm 25:16). Refused, but by whom? By blind fate? No, but by a fatherly providence. And why? In order to deprive you of that which is lavished on others? No, but to enrich you more than anyone else. Blieve it well, ‘God has provided something better for [you]’ (Hebrews 11:40) in reducing you to seek your fullness in his love and to confine all the most legitimate, most noble, most inalienable desires of your being to him alone” (63).

There is much good in this book.

Packer, What is the Gospel?

As we approach the Lord's day may we be faithful in proclaiming this message.

“I formulate the Gospel this way: it is information issuing in invitation; it is proclamation issuing in persuasion. It is an admonitory message embracing five themes. First, God: the God whom Paul proclaimed to the Athenians in Acts 17, the God of Christian theism.

Second, humankind: made in God’s image but now totally unable to respond to God or do anything right by reason of sin in their moral and spiritual system. Third, the person and work of Christ: God incarnate, who by dying wrought atonement and who now lives to impart the blessing that flows form his work of atonement.

Fourth, repentance, that is, turning from sin to God, from self-will to Jesus Christ. And fifthly, new community: a new family, a new pattern of human togetherness which results from the unity of the Lord’s people in the Lord, henceforth to function under the one Father as a family and a fellowship.” (44, emphasis added)

Packer, J.I. Serving the People of God: Collected Shorter Writings of J.I. Packer. Vol. 2. Carlisle, UK: Paternoster, 1998.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Packer on Communion

J. I. Packer has a wonderful essay on the Lord’s Supper titled “The Gospel and the Lord’s Supper” in Serving the People of God: Collected Shorter Writings of J.I. Packer, Vol 2 (I have the Paternoster edition, but it is published this side of the pond by Regent).

In the original article he is addressing some specific issues in Anglicanism, but it is quite applicable to all evangelicals. He expounds the gospel in contrast to some competing gospels (Barth, Hick, popular self-help) and discusses how the Supper is to be a reminder of the true gospel. It is a great, short read.

Here are some quotes to entice you.

“The Lord’s Supper is about the Gospel of the marvelous sovereign grace of God, saving sinners who are fundamentally and radically bad until grace finds them and makes them new.” (46)

“What we need more than anything else at the Lord’s Table is a fresh grasp of the glorious truth that we sinners are offered mercy through faith in the Christ who forgives and restores, out of which faith comes all the praise that we offer and all the service that we render. . . . for this everlasting gospel of salvation for sinners is what in Scripture the Lord’s Supper is all about.” (49)

“We are also to learn the divinely intended discipline of drawing assurance from the sacrament. We should be saying in our hearts, ‘As sure as I see and touch and taste this bread and this wine, so sure is it that Jesus Christ is not a fancy but a fact, that he is for real, and that he offers me himself to be my Saviour, my Bread of Life, and my Guide to glory. He has left me this rite, this gesture, this token, this ritual action as a guarantee of this grace; He instituted it, and it is a sign of life-giving union with him, and I’m taking part in it, and thus I know that I am his and he is mine forever.’ That is the assurance that we should be drawing from our sharing in the Lord’s Supper every time we come to the table.” (50)

“A strange perverse idea has got into Anglican hearts that the Lord’s Supper is a flight of the alone to the Alone; it is my communion I come to make, not our communion in which I come to share. You can’t imagine a more radical denial of the Gospel than that.” (50)

“At the Holy Table, above all, let there be praise!” (51)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

John Brown on More Frequent Communion

I have recently read John Brown of Haddington’s booklet An Apology for the more Frequent Administration of the Lord’s Supper: with Answers to the Objections Urged Against It (Edinburgh: Printed by J. Ritchie for Ogle & Aikman, Edinburgh, M. Ogle, Glasgow and R. Oble, London, 1804). According to WorldCat there are only about 3 copies of this booklet in North America so I was pleased to get a fiche version which could be borrowed.

This is the John Brown whose effort to teach himself Greek is recounted by A. T. Robertson in his ‘big grammar.’ Joel Beeke and Randall Pederson in their fine intro to Brown state, “Eighteenth-century Scotland produced many noted ministers, scholars and educators, but none greater, or so greatly loved, in his own day or afterwards, as John Brown of Haddington” (in The Systematic Theology of John Brown of Haddington).

Brown makes a persuasive argument about the value of celebrating communion more frequently. Here are some quotes:

“In the apostolic times it was ordinarily administered every Sabbath, as is granted by all those who have inquired into the history of these times”(5-6)

“Have Christians now less need of this ordinance? . . . . Has [Christ] transferred the virtue and usefulness of this ordinance to another? If none of these can be pretended, why count the example of the apostles a sufficient warrant for the observation of the first day Sabbath, for public worship, for holding synods and presbyteries, if we count not their example in the frequent administration of the supper also worthy of, and fit for, our imitation.” (6)

“That the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was generally administered every Lord’s day for the space of about 300 years is beyond dispute.” (Footnote: Vide Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Augustine, Mintius Felix, Cyprian, Fortunatus, Basil, Ambrose, Jerome, and others) (6)

“As often as the church of Christ has been in a flourishing state, greater frequency has been practiced or pushed.” (12)

“On the other hand, a declension toward the unfrequent celebration of this ordinance, has been generally the close attendant of apostasy and backsliding.” (12)

“Is it not then merciless, is it not cruel, in an overseer of souls, to allow such persons but one or two sacramental meals in the year, when ; it lies in his power to afford them more? Christ allows them to communicate every Sabbath; Christ’s servants voluntarily refuse to allow them to communicate above once or twice in the year, by keeping away the sacrament from them bounds!” (17)

“All human devices to render God’s ordinances more solemn, are impeachments of his wisdom, and have always tended to bring the ordinances into contempt.” (27)

“If the abuse of an ordinance is any reason against the frequent use of it, why preach we any more than one Sabbath in the year, since to many our preaching is the savour of death unto death, and gives men an occasion to trample under foot the blood of the Son of God?” (29)

“…the conscientious approach to God in this solemn ordinance, the Sabbath before and the Sabbath after, would more effectually prepare the soul for receiving and rivetting [fastening firmly] divine impressions, than all the work of these three days.” (35)

I am pursuing the possibility of having this booklet republished in modern font and with some explanatory notations.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wisdom and Responsibility

I recently came across this good quote from Michael Michael Fox’s recently published second volume on Proverbs in the Anchor series. This series (and this volume) is critical but there are good gems to be found here. His essays at the end of the commentary are particularly interesting. Whether or not he intends it, Fox sounds a good bit like Augustine in this good quote:

The upshot of this principle is an extraordinary assertion of individual responsibility. Each person constantly faces moral choices, with only wisdom to guide him. But wisdom is universally available (1:20-29; 8:1-4; 9:4-6); it is directly before the eyes of the one who looks carefully (17:24), and if one lacks wisdom, it is because he has chosen to spurn it (1:7b, 22, 29), to desire evil (21:10), and to love mindlessness (1:22). Sin is folly, and folly is ignorance, and ignorance is no excuse. It is itself a moral failing, the root of all failure. (p 944 )

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Christ Victorious

I came back across this poem from Elizabeth Prentiss today. Mrs. Prentiss suffered much and deals with this topic well in her poems. I like the honest assessment of grief and the move to triumph through the gospel.

Christ Victorious

Oh, days of sickness, grief and pain,
What bring ye in your mournful train?
Gray hairs, old age before its time-
The breaking down of manhood’s prime,
The trembling hand, the fainting heart,
Bruises and wounds to throb and smart,
The nerve unstrung, the sleepless brain;
Oh, these come boldly in your train.

But days of sickness, grief and pain,
Do these alone make up your train?
Not so! Not so! The ranks between
Submission’s gracious form is seen;
Sweet Patience ventures hand in hand,
While Faith, Christ’s honor to maintain
Rides, dauntless, mid your hostile train.

Come, then, wild troop of griefs and pains
And riot on my Lord’s domains!
Where you lay waste, another Hand
A firmer fabric long has planned;
What you destroy, Faith’s radiant smile
Declares is for a little while;
And Christ Himself shall come to reign
Victorious o’er your helpless train.

- Elizabeth Prentiss, found in Golden Hours

Monday, September 14, 2009

Brad Green Online

My good friend and colleague has launched a website making available various papers and addresses he has given (print and audio). Brad is an excellent theologian in the classic mold- not merely academic but also with a heart for the church. He has given serious thought to a number of issues including education, the life of the mind, Augustine and others. I am excited to see these items available to a wider audience and believe this site will be a helpful resource.

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism

Christian Smith has written a brief article condensing his research on the religious beliefs of American teenagers. It is well worth reading. He argues that the functional religious of American youth (which as he says they learned from the adults around them) is “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.” This is the functional religion even though many identify themselves as Protestant, Catholic, Mormon, or Muslim. His assessment squares well with what I see going on around me.

The three terms in his description are important. This functional religion is “moralistic” because it centers not on redemption or being made right with God but on being a good person- as defined by ourselves. It is “therapeutic” because it centers on feeling good about yourself. It is “deism” because the God in view is removed, not calling us to account. As Smith points out this “religion” is not unique to younger people. They are simply reflecting what has been encouraged in our culture for some time.

Here are a few quotes:

“ ‘God is a spirit that grants you anything you want, but not anything bad’ . .
. . ‘God’s all around you, all the time. He believes in forgiving people and whatnot, and he’s there to guide us, for somebody to talk to and help us through our problems. Of course, he doesn’t talk back.’ This last statement is perhaps doubly telling. . . .[God] also does not offer any challenging comebacks to or arguments about our requests.” 50 (page 4 of the online .pdf)

“Thus, one sixteen-year-old white mainline Protestant boy from Texas complained with some sarcasm in his interview that, ‘Well, God is almighty, I guess [yawns]. But I think he’s on vacation right now because of all the crap that’s happening in the world, cause it wasn’t like this back when he was famous.’” 50 (page 4 of the online .pdf)

“Our religiously conventional adolescents seem to be merely absorbing and reflecting religiously what the adult world is routinely modeling for and inculcating in its youth.” 51(page 5 of the online .pdf)

“In short, our teen interview transcripts reveal clearly that the language that dominates U.S. adolescent interests and thinking about life—including religious and spiritual life—is primarily about personally feeling good and being happy.”
53 (page 7 of the online .pdf)

“. . . we have come with some confidence to believe that a significant part of ‘Christianity’ in the United States is actually only tenuously connected to the actual historical Christian tradition, but has rather substantially morphed into Christianity’s misbegotten step-cousin, Christian Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.” 56 (page 10 of the online .pdf)

Original Source: “Summary Interpretation: Moralistic Therapeutic Deism,” from Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers by Christian Smith with Melinda Lundquist Denton, copyright © 2005 by Oxford University Press, Inc.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Death of a Brother

My family and I have been blessed by the care of many people in this last week as we have dealt with the death of my older brother, Doug. We have seen the church in action, our church, my parents’ church and many others, including the Union University community.

We are grateful, and God has been faithful.
For the funeral, I gathered a lengthy Scripture reading from the Psalms believing the Psalms give us words for expressing grief, and in the midst of the grief finding hope in the character of God. I told the family I would pass on the reading, so I post it here as one step to accomplish that.

142:1 With my voice I cry out to the Lord;
with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord.
2 I pour out my complaint before him;
I tell my trouble before him.
3 When my spirit faints within me,
you know my way!

5 I cry to you, O Lord;
I say, “You are my refuge,
my portion in the land of the living.”
6 Attend to my cry,
for I am brought very low!

38:8 I am feeble and crushed;
I groan because of the tumult of my heart.
9 O Lord, all my longing is before you;
my sighing is not hidden from you.
10 My heart throbs; my strength fails me,
and the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me.…
15 But for you, O Lord, do I wait;
it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer. …
17 For I am ready to fall,
and my pain is ever before me. …
21 Do not forsake me, O Lord!
O my God, be not far from me!
22 Make haste to help me,
O Lord, my salvation!

143:4 my spirit faints within me;
my heart within me is appalled.
5 I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all that you have done;
I ponder the work of your hands.
6 I stretch out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah
7 Answer me quickly, O Lord!
My spirit fails!…
8 Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.

17:8 Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings,
22:11 Be not far from me,
for trouble is near,
and there is none to help.
22:19 But you, O Lord, do not be far off!
O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
34:4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.

73:23 [You, O Lord, are continually with me];
you hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

40:1 I waited patiently for the Lord;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
2 He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,making my steps secure.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,and put their trust in the Lord.

46:1 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Elegy for John Gill

I just recently discovered an elegy given for John Gill upon his death by Benjamin Francis. It is contained in Sprinkle Publications’ reprint of A Brief Memoir of the Life and Writings of the Late Rev. John Gill, D. D., by John Rippon. I have included here two brief excerpts from this lengthy piece. Though we don’t speak in these forms today, we will have been faithful in our callings if our people can say these sorts of things about us one day. Seeing the result of ministries of the past helps us in aiming our efforts today. Let us give ourselves to our callings that we too might love our people, faithfully teaching and caring for them.

“To part with thee,- our ever watchful guide,-
To part with thee prompts our succeeding tears
Excites our sorrow, and our fear alarms.
No more we see thy venerable face
In sacred Zion, at her solemn feasts,
Exciting pleasure, reverence and love.
No more we hear they heart-reviving tongue,
Touch’d with a coal of bright celestial fire,
Unfold the wonders of redeeming grace!
No more new streams of truth divine we taste,
From thy unwearied and exhaustless quill!
Thy learned pen, incessantly employ’d,
For half an age, in they great Master’s cause,
Thy hand has chang’d for never-fading palms;
And thy vast labours in the gospel field,
For fifty-five revolving suns, receive
The bright reward of an immortal crown.

So glow’d thy bosom with the sacred fire
Of love supreme to thy redeeming God,
Divinely kindl’d in thy tender mind,
Nor ought abated with advancing age:
Hence thy loud praise for abounding grace,
Thy deep concern for never-dying souls,
And tender feelings for each brother’s woe:
Hence, for thy savior, thy unwearied zeal,
Thy various labors, and incessant toil:
And hence, thy relish and supreme esteem
For ev’ry stream of sacred truth, that flows
From revelation’s hallow’d spring, unmix’d
With muddy error, and insipid forms.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Jacobus on Fitness for Communion

Here is another good quote from Melanchthon Jacobus, this time on faith in coming to the Lord’s Table,
“Some will not venture to profess Christ until they can rather profess themselves. they wait for worthiness to come to the Lord’s table, not considering that it is uworthiness which they are to profess, along with Christ’s worthiness – their sins, along with His name for remission of sins.” (82)
(Jacobus, Melancthon W. Notes, Critical and Explanatory, on The Acts of the Apostles. 1859. Reprinted by Solid Ground Christian Books, 2006.)