REFORMATION: The Significance and Relevance of Luther’s 95 Theses. Part 1, The Dream

Luther-nailing-theses-560x538On the morning of the 31st October, 1517, the Elector said to Duke John, “Brother, I must tell you a dream which I had last night, and the meaning of which I should like much to know. It is so deeply impressed on my mind, that I will never forget it, were I to live a thousand years. For I dreamed it thrice, and each time with new circumstances.”

Duke John: “Is it a good or a bad dream?”

The Elector: “I know not; God knows.”

Duke John: “Don’t be uneasy at it; but be so good as tell it to me.”

The Elector: “Having gone to bed last night, fatigued and out of spirits, I fell asleep shortly after my prayer, and slept calmly for about two hours and a half; I then awoke, and continued awake to midnight, all sorts of thoughts passing through my mind. Among other things, I thought how I was to observe the Feast of All Saints. I prayed for the poor souls in purgatory; and supplicated God to guide me, my counsels, and my people according to truth.

“I again fell asleep, and then dreamed that Almighty God sent me a monk, who was a true son of the Apostle Paul. All the saints accompanied him by order of God, in order to bear testimony before me, and to declare that he did not come to contrive any plot, but that all that he did was according to the will of God. They asked me to have the goodness graciously to permit him to write something on the door of the church of the Castle of Wittenberg. This I granted through my chancellor.luther95

“Thereupon the monk went to the church, and began to write in such large characters that I could read the writing at Schweinitz. The pen which he used was so large that its end reached as far as Rome, where it pierced the ears of a lion that was crouching there, and caused the triple crown upon the head of the Pope to shake. All the cardinals and princes, running hastily up, tried to prevent it from falling. You and I, brother, wished also to assist, and I stretched out my arm; – but at this moment I awoke, with my arm in the air, quite amazed, and very much enraged at the monk for not managing his pen better. I recollected myself a little; it was only a dream.”

1380718_623541131023014_477844839_n“I was still half asleep, and once more closed my eyes. The dream returned. The lion, still annoyed by the pen, began to roar with all his might, so much so that the whole city of Rome, and all the States of the Holy Empire, ran to see what the matter was. The Pope requested them to oppose this monk, and applied particularly to me, on account of his being in my country. I again awoke, repeated the Lord’s prayer, entreated God to preserve his Holiness, and once more fell asleep.”

“Then I dreamed that all the princes of the Empire, and we among them, hastened to Rome, and strove, one after a another, to break the pen; but the more we tried the stiffer it became, sounding as if it had been made of iron. We at length desisted. I then asked the monk (for I was sometimes at Rome, and sometimes at Wittenberg) where he got this pen, and why it was so strong. ‘The pen,” replied he, “belonged to an old goose of Bohemia, a hundred years old. I got it from one of my old schoolmasters. As to its strength, it is owing to the impossibility of depriving it of its pith or marrow; and I am quite astonished at it myself.’ Suddenly I heard a loud noise – a large number of other pens had sprung out of the long pen of the monk. I awoke a third time: it was daylight.”

Duke John: “Chancellor, what is your opinion? Would we had a Joseph, or a Daniel, enlightened by God!”

Chancellor: “Your highness knows the common proverb, that the dreams of young girls, learned men, and great lords have usually some hidden meaning. The meaning of this dream, however, we shall not be able to know for some time – not till the things to which it relates have taken place. Wherefore, leave the accomplishment to God, and place it fully in his hand.”

Duke John: “I am of your opinion, Chancellor; ’tis not fit for us to annoy ourselves in attempting to discover the meaning. God will overrule all for his glory.”

Elector: “May our faithful God do so; yet I shall never forget, this dream. I have, indeed, thought of an interpretation, but I keep it to myself. Time, perhaps, will show if I have been a good diviner.”

History:  “The Dream” was recorded both by J. A. Wylie and Jean-Henri Merle d’Aubigné.

James Aitken Wylie (1808-1890) was a Scottish historian of religion and Presbyterian minister. He was a prolific writer and is most famous for writing The History of Protestantism.

Jean-Henri Merle d’Aubigné (16 August 1794 – 21 October 1872) was Swiss  Protestant minister and historian of the Reformation.

Many thanks and a debt of gratitude to Timothy A. Williams for his continued thoughts and source material for this series!  

Happiness is…

Written by William Mason

scan0029If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.- John 3:17.

Jesus is a prophet to teach, a priest to atone, and a king to reign by love in the hearts of all his subjects.

So a Christian receives the Lord Jesus. Faith in him begets an ear of love to his doctrine, and a heart of obedience to his commands. Let no one call evangelical obedience, legal bondage. For, every precept that drops from the mouth of Jesus, flows from love to us. When he saith, “Do this;” it is for thy happiness and good, O soul. “Avoid that:” love is careful of thee, “Do thyself no harm.” This is pleasant to the renewed soul to hear, his happiness to obey. Faith in Jesus makes all things easy. “His commandments are not grievous.” To know them is our privilege. To do them is our happiness.

Say, O Christian, is not this thy experience?

Art thou not happy in doing the will of Jesus, who died for our sins? Art thou not delighted in obeying Jesus, who hath made peace between God and thy soul? Art thou not joyful in glorifying thy Father, by bringing forth the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ? Verily IN keeping thy commandments, O Lord, there is great reward of grace; in peace and happiness of soul now; and hereafter such shall hear that joyful sentence from our loving Saviour, “Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”- Mat_25:34. Then shall the works of the righteous be owned and proclaimed by the judge. They are called to inherit the kingdom. Why? Because blessed of God the Father with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus.

Hence the kingdom is prepared for them before the foundation of the world.  But it constitutes no part of the believer’s happiness, to do any work whatsoever, whereby to entitle himself to the favor of God; or to make the work of salvation more effectual than the blood and righteousness of the Son of God hath. No; this is to be rejected as the vilest slavery, the worst of drudgery; contrary to faith; inconsistent with Christian love; and derogatory to the salvation of JESUS. Luther was wont to say, ‘if picking up a straw would save me, I would not do it; it would be an act of unbelief of my dear Lord’s salvation: but being already saved by Jesus, through his grace, I would go through fire and water to obey his commands.’ Where Jesus is the life of the soul, this will be manifest, in obedience to his commands. “Blessed is the man who delighteth greatly in his commandments.”- Psa_112:1.

I hear thy word with love.
And I would fain obey:
Send thy good Spirit from above
To guide me lest I stray.

How perfect is thy word!
And all thy judgments just,
For ever sure thy promise, Lord,
Here I securely trust.

While of thy works I sing,
Thy glory to proclaim,
Accept the praise, my God and King,
In my Redeemer’s name.

Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage:  William Mason (1719 – 29 September 1791) was a Calvinist writer. Mason was born in Rotherhithe. He wrote a number of very popular Christian books, and was twice briefly editor of The Gospel Magazine, immediately before and immediately after Augustus Montague Toplady.
Some of his writings include:  
A Spiritual Treasury for the Children of God
The Christian Communicant
A commentary on Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, printed as footnotes in some copies of the same as “Mason’s Notes”.
The Believer’s Pocket Companion
References:  Hatfield, Edwin Francis. The Poets of the Church, New York, 1884, pages 412–414
Excerpts from Wikipedia, source material from  ilyston

Worried? …About IF you have a New Heart?

by John Berridge

1untitled“Faith, will carry heaven in one hand and hell in the other”

Ezek. 36: 25, 26, 27.—Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean ; from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you ; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes. Then, when I shall have taken them from among the heathen.

Sin makes a sinner guilty before God

…filthy in ourselves; both a guilty and filthy creature: guilty, as being contrary to the authority of God ; filthy, as being contrary to the holiness of God. Guilt produces fear; filth produces shame.

I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall he clean.

A fountain is opened for sin and uncleanness—a type of the blood of Christ. This must be sprinkled on the unclean : an application must be made of the blood of Christ, and made by the Spirit of God. This typified by the water of purification: Num. 19. This cleanseth from all filthiness, and from all idols. Henceforth the sprinkled sinner saith, What have I to do any more with idols ? Hos. 14. 8. The Lord is my God.

imagesCAUZ406HA new heart will I give you  —A heart devoted to the Lord; devoted to the love and service of God.

A new spirit will I put within you. —A meek and lowly spirit; a child-like teachable spirit; a kind and brotherly spirit; a forgiving merciful spirit.

I will take away the stony heart. —Insensible of its own hardness, and of sin, and of God’s love; unapt to receive divine impressions, or to return devout affections, inflexible.

And give you a heart of flesh. —A tender heart; sensible of sin ; mourning for it; humbled under it; fearful of God’s displeasure ; feeling the power of God’s word ; and sensible of spiritual pleasure and pain.

1imageNow God makes this wholly his own act

He does not say, I will take away the stony heart, if you do not resist me; nor yet, I will earnestly persuade you to take it away : but he says absolutely, I, myself, will take it away, making it wholly his own act. Hence the event is certain ; for God by the sweet and powerful operations of his Spirit effectually overcomes the resistance of the will. Hence renovation ensues, and conversion to God. Is nothing then to be done by the sinner? Yes, he says, For this  will be inquired of; and a spirit of prayer is given for this purpose.

And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes. —Now a spiritual nature is received, capable of spiritual worship and service. The wheels of obedience are now made, and set in order ; but a spring is yet wanting to set them a-going, which the Lord here promises to bestow. I will put my Spirit within you. Will before was given, now power; and constant additional supplies of his Spirit are needful to keep the wheels going. Then shall ye loathe yourselves: ver. 31.

Self-loathing is not only consistent with a sense ofat-the-foot-of-the-cross pardon, but is the fruit of it.

While we feel sin within us to condemn us, faith discovers a righteousness without us, which can justify us ; and while we rejoice in Christ, as the Lord our righteousness, we shall ever have cause enough in ourselves for humiliation. The gospel teaches men to feel sin, and believe for righteousness.

Faith will carry heaven in one hand, and hell in the other: hell as deserved by us; heaven as purchased for us. It will also powerfully incline us to respect all the commandments of God.      –by John Berridge, “Brief Comments on Ezekiel 36”

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Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: John Berridge (February 1716 − January 22, 1793) was an Anglican evangelical revivalist and hymnist. He was born in Kingston, Nottinghamshire and educated at Clare College, Cambridge. He was the son of a wealthy grazier in Nottinghamshire. In 1749, he was ordained to the parish of Stapleford, near Cambridge. In 1755 he became Vicar of Everton. He never married.

By 1758 he would ride on horseback far and wide across the whole of Huntingdonshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire. He preached up to twelve open-air sermons and travelled over 100 miles each week.  Berridge, the vicar of Everton, was commended by John Wesley as one of the most simple as well as most sensible of all whom it pleased God to employ in reviving primitive Christianity. C.H. Spurgeon included John Berridge on his list of Eccentric Preachers “Take for instance John Berridge. Berridge was quaint by nature. In the former lecture I quoted purposely from his letters rather than from any of his sermons or didactic works, because in a letter you see a man at ease. Berridge could not help being singular, for the form of his mind led him in that direction, and his bachelor life helped to develop his idiosyncrasies. His quaintness was all his own, and you see it in his household arrangements…”  He died at the age of 77 and thousands attended his funeral. At his own request John Berridge was buried on the north-east side of Everton churchyard as “a means of consecrating it”. This piece of ground had previously been reserved for those who had come to a dishonourable end. His gravestone is a testament to his humble faith.

Thoughts and Contrasts in Obedience (Or, you want to obey, but it hurts!)

 by Thomas Brooks

First, one type of obedience is legal…

obey-god-forked-path…when all is done which God requires; and all is done as God requires, when there is one path of duty, but we do walk in it perfectly and continually. However, no man on earth does or can walk in all God’s statutes, or fully do what he commands. “We all stumble in many ways,” James 3:2. Just so, Eccl. 7:20, “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.” 1 Kings 8:46, “For there is no man who sins not.” Prov. 20:9, “Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?” Job 14:4, “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.” 1 Jn. 1:8, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

Secondly, another type of obedience is evangelical.

…such as walking in all the statutes of God, and such as keeping of all the commands of God through Christ, which is accepted of, and accounted of by God-as if we did keep them all. This walking in all God’s statutes, and keeping of all his commandments, and doing of them all, is not only possible-but it is also actual in every believer, in every sincere Christian. Evangelical obedience consists in these particulars-

Evangelical obedience consists in the approbation of all the statutes and commandments of God.

Consider Rom. 7:12, “The commandment is holy, and just, and good.” Ver. 16, “I consent unto the law that it is good.” There is both assent and consent. Psalms 119:128, “I esteem all your precepts concerning all things to be right.” A sincere Christian approves of all divine commands, though he cannot perfectly keep all divine commands. 

But, evangelical obedience consists in a conscientious submission unto the authority of all the statutes of God.

Every command of God has an authority within his heart, and over his heart. Psalms 119:161, “My heart stands in awe of your word.” A sincere Christian stands in awe of every known command of God, and has a spiritual regard unto them all. Psalms 119:6, “I have respect unto all your commandments.” 

Obedience to God - The Stewardship SentinelBut, evangelical obedience consists in a cordial willingness and a cordial desire to walk in all the statutes of God, and to obey all the commands of God.

Consider also Rom. 7:18, “For to will is present with me.” Psalms 119:5, “O that my ways were directed to keep your statutes!” Ver. 8, “I will keep your statutes.” 

But, evangelical obedience consists in a sweet delight in all God’s commands.

Psalms 119:47, “I delight in your commands because I love them.” Rom. 7:22, “I delight in the law of God after the inward man.” 

But, he who obeys sincerely-obeys universally.

Though not in regard of practice, which is impossible-yet in regard of affection, he loves all the commands of God, yes, he dearly loves those very commands of God which he cannot obey, by reason of the infirmity of the flesh, by reason of that body of sin and death which he carries about with him. Ponder upon Psalms 119:97, “O how I love your law!” Such a pang of love he felt, as could not otherwise be vented-but by this heartfelt exclamation, “O how I love your law,” verse. 113, 163, 127, 159, 167. Ponder upon all these verses. 

But, a sincere Christian obeys all the commands of God

He is universal in his obedience, in respect of valuation or esteem. He highly values all the commands of God; he highly prizes all the commands of God; as you may clearly see by comparing these scriptures together, Psalm 119:72, 127, Psalms 119:128, Psalm 119:19:8-11; Job 23:12. 

But, a sincere Christian is universal in his obedience, in respect of his purpose and resolution

He purposes and resolves, by divine assistance, to obey all, to keep all. Psa_119:106, “I have sworn, and will perform it, that I will keep your righteous judgments.” Psalm 17:3, “I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.”

 But, a sincere Christian is universal in his obedience, in respect of his inclination

He has an habitual inclination in him to keep all the commands of God, 1 Kings 8:57-58; 2 Chron. 30:17-20; Psalm 119:112, “I have inclined my heart to perform your statutes always, even to the end.” 

But,evangelical keeping of all the commands of God, consists in a sincere endeavor to keep them all

They put out themselves in all the ways and parts of obedience; they do not willingly and wittingly slight or neglect any commandment-but are striving to conform themselves thereunto. As a dutiful son does all his father’s commands, at least in point of endeavor; just so, sincere Christians make conscience of keeping all the commands of God in respect of endeavors. Psalm 119:59, “I turned my feet unto your testimonies.”

178838750_640God esteems of evangelical obedience as perfect obedience

Zacharias had his failings, he did hesitate through unbelief, for which he was struck dumb-yet the text tells you, “That he walked in all the commandments of the Lord blameless,” Luke 1:6, because he did cordially desire and endeavor to obey God in all things. Evangelical obedience is true for the essence, though not perfect for the degree. A child of God obeys all the commands of God-in respect of all his sincere desires, purposes, resolutions, and endeavors; and this God accepts in Christ for perfect and complete obedience. This is the glory of the covenant of grace, that God accepts and esteems of sincere obedience as perfect obedience. Such who sincerely endeavor to keep the whole law of God-they do keep the whole law of God in an evangelical sense, though not in a legal sense. A sincere Christian is for the first table as well as the second, and the second as well as the first. He does not adhere to the first and neglect the second, as hypocrites do; neither does he adhere to the second and despise the first, as profane men do.

prodigal-sonO Christians, for your support and comfort, know that when your desires and endeavors are to do the will of God entirely, as well in one thing as in another, God will graciously pardon your failings, and pass by your imperfections.

“He will spare you as a man spares his son who serves him,” Mal. 3:17. Though a father sees his son to fail, and come short in many things which he enjoins him to do-yet knowing that his desires and endeavors are to serve him, and please him to the full, he will not be rigid and severe with him-but will be indulgent to him, and will spare him, and pity him, and show all love and kindness to him. The application is easy, etc.

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Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: 
Thomas Brooks (1608–1680) was an English non-conformist Puritan preacher and author.  Much of what is known about Thomas Brooks has been ascertained from his writings. Born, likely to well-to-do parents, in 1608, Brooks entered Emmanuel College, Cambridge in 1625, where he was preceded by such men as Thomas Hooker, John Cotton, and Thomas Shepard. He was licensed as a preacher of the Gospel by 1640. Before that date, he appears to have spent a number of years at sea, probably as a chaplain with the fleet.

After the conclusion of the First English Civil War, Thomas Brooks became minister at Thomas Apostle’s, London, and was sufficiently renowned to be chosen as preacher before the House of Commons on December 26, 1648. His sermon was afterwards published under the title, ‘God’s Delight in the Progress of the Upright’, the text being Psalm 44:18: ‘Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from Thy way’. Three or four years afterwards, he transferred to St. Margaret’s, Fish-street Hill, London.

As a writer C. H. Spurgeon said of him, ‘Brooks scatters stars with both hands, with an eagle eye of faith as well as the eagle eye of imagination’.  In 1662, he fell victim to the notorious Act of Uniformity, but he appears to have remained in his parish and to have preached as opportunity arose. Treatises continued to flow from his pen

Do you belong to the one and only true Church?

Church-on-Rock

 

By J.C. Ryle

…to the Church outside of which there is no salvation?

I do not ask where you go on Sunday; I only ask, “Do you belong to the one true Church?”

Where is this one true Church? What is this one true Church like? What are the marks by which this one true Church may be known? You may well ask such questions. Give me your attention, and I will provide you with some answers.

The one true Church is composed of all believers in the Lord Jesus.

It is made up of all God’s elect-of all converted men and women of all true Christians. In whomsoever we can discern the election of God the Father, the sprinkling of the blood of God the Son, the sanctifying work of God the Spirit, in that person we see a member of Christ’s true Church.

It is a Church of which all the members have the same marks. They are all born of the Spirit; they all possess “repentance towards God, faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ,” and holiness of life and conversation. They all hate sin, and they all love Christ. They worship differently and after various fashions; some worship with a form of prayer, and some with none; some worship kneeling, and some standing; but they all worship with one heart. They are all led by one Spirit; they all build upon one foundation; they all draw their religion from one single Book-that is the Bible. They are all joined to one great center-that is Jesus Christ. They all even now can say with one heart, “Hallelujah”; and they can all respond with one heart and voice, “Amen and Amen.”

It is a Church which is dependent upon no ministers upon earth, however much it values those who preach the Gospel to its members. The life of its members does not hang upon church membership, and baptism, and the Lord’s Supper-although they highly value these things, when they are to be had. But it has only one great Head one Shepherd, one chief Bishop-and that is Jesus Christ. He alone, by His Spirit, admits the members of this Church, though ministers may show the door. Till He opens the door no man on earth can open it-neither bishops, nor presbyters, nor convocations, nor synods. Once let a man repent and believe the Gospel, and that moment he becomes a member of this Church. Like the penitent thief, he may have no opportunity of being baptized; but he has that which is far better than any water-baptism-the baptism of the Spirit. He may not be able to receive the bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper; but he eats Christ’s body and drinks Christ’s blood by faith every day he lives, and no minister on earth can prevent him. He may be excommunicated by ordained men, and cut off from the outward ordinances of the professing Church; but all the ordained men in the world cannot shut him out of the true Church.

It is a Church whose existence does not depend on forms, ceremonies, cathedrals, churches, chapels, pulpits, fonts, vestments, organs, endowments, money, kings, governments, magistrates, or any act of favor whatsoever from the hand of man. It has often lived on and continued when all these things have been taken from it; it has often been driven into the wilderness or into dens and caves of the earth, by those who ought to have been its friends. Its existence depends on nothing but the presence of Christ and His Spirit; and they being ever with it, the Church cannot die.

This is the Church to which the Scriptural, titles of present honor and privilege, and the promises of future glory, especially belong; this is the body of Christ; this is the flock of Christ; this is the household of faith and the family of God; this is God’s building, God’s foundation, and the temple of the Holy Ghost. This is the Church of the first-born, whose names fire written in heaven; this is the royal priesthood, the chosen generation, the peculiar people, the purchased possession, the habitation of God, the light of the world; the salt and the wheat of the earth; this is the “Holy Catholic Church” of the Apostle’s Creed; this is the “One Catholic and Apostolic Church” of the Nicene Creed; this is that Church to which the Lord Jesus promises, “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”, and to which He says, “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” Mat_16:18; Mat_28:20.

This is the only Church which possesses true unity. Its members are entirely agreed on all the weightier matters of religion, for they are all taught by one Spirit. About God, and Christ, and the Spirit, and sin, and their own hearts, and faith, and repentance, and necessity of holiness, and the value of the Bible, and the importance of prayer, and the resurrection, and judgment to come-about all these points they are of one mind. Take three or four of them, strangers to one another, from the remotest corners of the earth; examine them separately on these points; you will find them all of one judgment.

This is the only Church which possesses true sanctity. Its members are all holy. They are not merely holy by profession, holy in name, and holy in the judgment of charity; they are all holy in act, and deed, and reality, and life, and truth. They are all more or less conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. No unholy man belongs to this Church.

This is the only Church which is truly catholic [universal]. It is not the Church of any one nation or people; its members are to be found in every part of the world where the Gospel is received and believed. It is not confined within the limits of any one country, or pent up within the pale of any particular forms or outward government. In it there is no difference between Jew and Greek, black man and white, Episcopalian and Presbyterian-but faith in Christ is all. Its members will be gathered from north, and south, and east, and west, in the last day, and will be of every name and tongue-but all one in Jesus Christ.

This is the only Church which is truly apostolic. It is built on the foundation laid by the Apostles, and holds the doctrines which they preached. The two grand objects at which its members aim are apostolic faith and apostolic practice; and they consider the man who talks of following the Apostles without possessing these two things to be no better than sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal.

This is the only Church which is certain to endure unto the end. Nothing can altogether overthrow and destroy it. Its members may be persecuted, oppressed, imprisoned, beaten, beheaded, burned; but the true Church is never altogether extinguished; it rises again from its afflictions; it lives on through fire and water. The Pharaohs, the Herods, the Neros, the bloody Marys, have labored in vain to put down this Church; they slay their thousands, and then pass away and go to their own place. The true Church outlives them all and sees them buried each in his turn. It is an anvil that has broken many a hammer in this world, and will break many a hammer still; it is a bush which, often burning, yet is not consumed.

This is the Church which does the work of Christ upon earth. Its members are a little flock, and few in number, compared with the children of the world; one or two here, and two or three there. But these are they who shake the universe; these are they who change the fortunes of kingdoms by their prayers; these are they who are the active workers for spreading the knowledge of pure religion and undefiled; these are the life-blood of a country, the shield, the defense, the stay and the support of any nation to which they belong.

This is the Church which shall be truly glorious at the end. When all earthly glory is passed away then shall this Church be presented without spot before God the Father’s throne. Thrones, principalities, and powers upon earth shall come to nothing; but the Church of the first-born shall shine as the stars at the last, and be presented With joy before the Father’s throne, in the day of Christ’s appearing. When the Lord’s jewels are made up, and the manifestation of the sons of God takes place, one Church only will be named, and that is the Church of the elect.

Reader, this is the true Church to which a man must belong, if he would be saved. Till you belong to this, you are nothing better than a lost soul. You may have countless outward privileges; you may enjoy great light, and knowledge-but if you do not belong to the body of Christ, your light, and knowledge, and privileges, will not save your soul. Men fancy if they join this church or that church, and become communicants, and go through certain forms, that all must be right with their souls. All were not Israel who were called Israel, and all are not members of Christ’s body who profess themselves Christians. Take notice, you may be a staunch Episcopalian, or Presbyterian, or Independent, or Baptist, or Wesleyan, or Plymouth Brother-and yet not be long to the true Church. And if you do not, it will be better at last if you had never been born.

Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage:  John Charles Ryle (10 May 1816 – 10 June 1900) was the first Anglican bishop of jc-ryleLiverpool. Ryle was born at Macclesfield, and was educated at Eton and at Christ Church, Oxford, where he was Craven Scholar in 1836.  The son of a wealthy banker, he was destined for a career in politics before choosing a path of ordained ministry. While hearing Ephesians 2 read in church in 1838, he felt a spiritual awakening and was ordained by Bishop Sumner at Winchester in 1842. For 38 years he was a parish priest, first at Helmingham and later at Stradbrooke, in Suffolk. He became a leader of the evangelical party in the Church of England and was noted for his doctrinal essays and polemical writings.

Ryle was a strong supporter of the evangelical school and a critic of Ritualism. He was a writer, pastor and an evangelical preacher. Among his longer works are Christian Leaders of the Eighteenth Century (1869), Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (7 vols, 1856–69), Principles for Churchmen (1884). Ryle was described as having a commanding presence and vigorous in advocating his principles albeit with a warm disposition. He was also credited with having success in evangelizing the blue collar community. His second son, Herbert Edward Ryle also a clergyman, became Dean of Westminster.

Excerpts from Wikipedia, source material from ilyston

Tired? At the end of your rope? Then Come to me!

By, John A. Broadus

images (5)Come unto me,
all ye that labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me;
for I am meek and lowly in heart:
and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  

This familiar passage of Scripture contains one of the most precious among the many precious invitations of our compassionate Redeemer. Many a feeble and fainting believer has been led by it to take fresh courage and “press toward the mark,” many a burdened sinner has found in it that the gospel of Jesus is indeed “good news,” “a word in season to him that is weary.” And since the passage is so important and so precious, we may find our profit in attending a little to its phraseology, in endeavoring to make ourselves acquainted with its precise terms.

The Saviour invites to him all “that labor and are heavy laden.”

In this he doubtless referred partly to the burden of ceremonies and observances which the scribes and Pharisees imposed upon their followers, as required by the traditions of the fathers, and as essential and sufficient for their finding favor with God. The law itself, St. Paul tells us, was, if looked upon as a means of salvation, too grievous a burden for any to bear; and these superstitious observances made it yet more grievous. Such persons, then, tolling and borne down beneath the burden of the ceremonial law, are here invited to the Saviour. But he had reference likewise to all men, Jew and Gentile, in every nation and age, who are burdened with sin. All such are invited to him, with the promise that he will give them rest, rest from their labor, and relief from their load. They wear the galling yoke of sin and Satan, and he bids them take his yoke upon them.

Wearing the yoke of another is an expression very often employed in Scripture (as all will remember) to denote subjection to him. The figure is taken, of course, from beasts of burden, as oxen; being applied thence to all who are the laboring servants of a master. Jesus is then bidding those who have been the “servants of sin,” to obey him from the heart and be his servants; those who have been subject to Satan, to take him instead as their King. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me.” He recommends himself not only as King and Master, but as Teacher too. The gospel is frequently and properly represented as something to be learned; men need to be taught the way of salvation. Thus we read that God “will have all men to be saved, and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” This knowledge of the truth, these lessons of salvation, must be obtained from the Great Teacher Jesus.

And when he says, “For I am meek and lowly in heart,” the Saviour means to show that he is fitted to be a Teacher,

…that so all may come and learn of him. In order that a Teacher may win the hearts of his pupils, and thereby the better make them love to learn and love what they do learn, he must unite to other qualities a certain mildness, and gentleness, and kindliness. Such men, other things being equal, are always most beloved and most successful. There are some men who by their affection and gentleness seem able to win at once the love of a child. And when our blessed Saviour bids men learn of him, he encourages the timid and fearful to come to him, by telling them that he is meek and lowly in heart, mild and loving and gentle, that he will be kind to them, and they need not fear. He would not be rough and overbearing and haughty as were the Doctors, the teachers of the law, he is not imperious and domineering and severe like many who have since professed to teach his doctrines: he is humble and affectionate, condescending and kind.

We may learn from these words the character of the lessons, as well as of the Teacher. It is the knowledge of himself that he will give; and as he is meek and lowly, i.e., gentle and humble, so those that come to learn of him will be taught lessons of gentleness, lessons of humility. Still the chief intent of this clause would seem to be what was mentioned first, namely to recommend himself as disposed to be kind and affectionate to all who might come to learn of him. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me: [you need not fear to make me your Teacher, for I am meek and lowly in heart:] and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” He promises to free them from their grievous tolls, to relieve them of their heavy burdens, to give them rest. To appreciate fully the expressiveness of this figure, one must imagine himself bearing a heavy burden, a weight such as he can hardly sustain, and that after bearing it till he is almost crushed to the ground, he throws it off, and rests. There are few things so delightful as this rest to one who has been heavy laden. And then suppose the burden is clinging to you, bound with cords you cannot sever, though you are bowed down under the load and vainly striving to throw it off, and that as you labor thus and are heavy laden, one offers if you come to him to loose the bonds and take away the burden, and let you rest-how sweet would be the thought! how quickly, how joyfully, how thankfully, you would run to him!

But it is impossible that men should be without subjection to some higher power; by our very nature we look up to some Being that is above us.

All who are not subject to God, are the subjects of Satan: and they who wish to be delivered from the dominion of the Evil One, must find such deliverance in having God himself for their King, as he intended they should when he made them. Accordingly, when the Saviour offers to give rest, he bids them take his yoke upon them, and learn of him, and they shall find rest unto their souls. And then he concludes the invitation by encouraging them to believe that this exchange will be good and pleasant; they labor under the galling yoke of Satan, and are heavy laden with the grievous burdens of sin, but his yoke is easy. This burden is light. Such, I think, is the meaning of the various passages of this invitation, which, familiar as it is, I may read again: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30).

Having endeavored thus to explain the language of the text, I wish to say something upon two subjects connected with it, (1) who they are that are here invited to come and (2) what is meant by coming to Jesus.

The invitations of the gospel are addressed to all; the gospel is to be preached to every creature.

God commandeth all men everywhere to repent, he promises that whosoever believeth on Jesus shall not perish, but have everlasting life, and “whosoever will,” is invited to take of the water of life, freely. The purposes of Him who inhabiteth eternity, and who seeth the end from the beginning, will all be fulfilled. Those purposes we cannot declare, that God will have (i.e., wishes) all men to be saved, that he bids all the ends of the earth look unto him, that he that cometh unto Jesus shall in no wise be cast out.

And it is worth observing that the gospel invitations, while they extend to all, are so varied. The same bountiful and gracious Being who suits the blessings of his providence to our various wants, does also adapt the invitations of his mercy to the varied characters and conditions of men. Are men enemies to God?-they are invited to be reconciled. Have they hearts harder than the nether millstone?-he offers to take away the stone, and give a heart of flesh. Are they dancing gaily, or rushing madly, along the way that leads to death?-he calls upon them to turn, “Turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die?” Are they sleeping the heavy sleep of sin?-“Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead.” Are men hungering with a craving hunger?-he tells them of the bread that came down from heaven. Are they thirsty?-he calls them to the water of life. And are they burdened with sin and sinfulness?-he invites them to come to Jesus for rest. It is those who are “bowed down beneath a load of sin,” that are here especially invited to come to Jesus.

Sin is great and grievous burden: and no man can ever see it as it is and feel it in its weight without wishing to be relieved of it.

My hearers, are there not many among you who have often felt this-who have often felt heavy laden with the load of your transgressions, and the burden of your sinfulness? Are there not those among you who feel this now? If you do not all feel so, it is because your perceptions are blunted, you do not see things as they are. You have been servants of sin for a long time-have you not found it a hard master? You have been wearing the yoke of Satan lo! these many years-have you not found that his yoke is indeed galling and grievous? How many things you have done at his bidding that you knew to be wrong? How often you have stifled the voice of your conscience, and listened to the suggestions of the Tempter! How often you have toiled to gratify sinful desires and passions, and found that still the craving, aching void was left unfilled!

What has sin done for the world and for you that you should desire it? It brought death into the world, and all our woe. It has filled the earth with suffering and sorrow. It has made it needful that Jesus, the only-begotten Son of God, should suffer and die, to make atonement for it. It has brought upon you much of unhappiness now, and many most fearful apprehensions for the future. By your sins you have incurred the just anger of Him that made you-already they rise mountain high, and yet still you go on in your sinfulness, accumulating more and more, heaping up wrath against the day of wrath. You shudder when you think of death, you tremble when you think of God, for you know well that you are not prepared to die, that you cannot meet your Maker and Judge in peace. And not only has sin brought on you all these sufferings and fears, but you cannot rid yourself of it. You have bowed your neck to the yoke, and now you cannot free yourself from it. Never did any old man of the sea cling so closely upon the shoulders of the deluded traveler, as the hideous form of sin clings to you, and you cannot shake it off, struggle as you may. No poisoned garment of ancient fable ever adhered so closely to him that wore it, sending death through all his frame, as does the garment of iniquity.

Sum it up again –what has sin done for you?

It has made you unhappy, filling you with craving, unsatisfied desires, it has made you captive, and bound you with cords you cannot burst, it has brought upon you the indignation and wrath of Almighty God, which you cannot expiate. Is it not then a burden, of which you would like to be relieved? If so, hear the Saviour’s own invitation, and come to him. He will take off the heavy load that crushes you, and you shall find rest to your souls. He will intercede in your behalf before God, he will take away your guilt by the sacrifice he has offered, he will “wash you thoroughly from your iniquity, and cleanse you from your sin.”

Let all then, who are burdened with sin and sinfulness, who long to know how their transgressions may be forgiven and their souls saved, all who are inquiring what they must do, let them hear the gracious words of the text, and come to Jesus.

Do you fear that God is angry with you, and will not hear your prayer? It is true. God is angry with the wicked every day; and the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination unto the Lord. You may not mock the offended majesty of God Most High, you may not dare to mock him by coming unto him in your own name, and trusting in your own righteousness. You ought to fear before him, and to tremble at the thought of coming to him thus. But you may come to Jesus-you are invited to come to him. He is the appointed mediator between God and man. Come and ask him to intercede for you. And then through him draw near to the throne of grace. Make mention of his merits, plead his atoning sacrifice, rely wholly on what he has done, and God’s anger is turned away-he will hear, he will pardon, and your soul shall live. If then you are burdened with a sense of your unworthiness, come to Jesus, and you shall not come in vain.

All that labor, with whatever toil, all that are heavy laden, with whatever burden, may take this invitation as addressed to them. “Thou callest burdened souls to Thee, And such, O Lord, am I.” Whatever it is that bears you down, the consciousness of sin, the terror of judgment, distressing doubts or manifold temptations, whatever else may torment your soul and weigh down your spirit, this invitation is for you. If you are burdened with affliction or sorrow or fearful apprehension, in short (to repeat it again and again) if you bear any burden, you are invited to Jesus. “Come unto me, all ye,” etc.

It would be natural and reasonable enough for one thus frequently and earnestly invited to come to Jesus, especially for one who is “an alien from God, and a stranger to grace,” who knows not the blessed Saviour in the pardon of his sins, who has never “come boldly unto the throne of grace,” and obtained mercy and found grace to help in time of need, it would be natural enough for him to inquire now, “What is meant by coming to Jesus? Suppose I feel myself to be burdened, and want to seek relief, how shall I come to Jesus for rest?” This is the remaining subject of which I propose to speak. I shall not try to explain, for I can add nothing to that which is, in itself, plain already, but only to illustrate.

First then I say, come to him as men came when he was on earth.

We sometimes hear it said, “Oh, that I had lived when Jesus was sojourning among men; how would I have gone to him for peace and prayed that I might follow him whithersoever he went! What a privilege it must have been to the people of Bethany, for instance, when again and again Jesus came among them, when they might, even in their own homes, sit as Mary sat at the feet of the great and good Teacher and learn lessons of heavenly wisdom!” Yes, it was a great privilege; and it is true that the case is somewhat different now. We cannot now go sensibly to Jesus as a man, living somewhere among us. We are not now to go from one part of the country or the world to another, in order to be where the Saviour is. There is no sensible coming to him now. But it is only a change from sight to faith-from a moving of the body to a moving of the thoughts and affections. It may be thought a great privation that we cannot go somewhere, as they did then, and find him. But is it not on the other hand a great privilege that we need not now go anywhere, we may always find him here? He is everywhere, and as much in one place as another. Men have often forgotten this great and consoling and gladdening truth. Many a weary pilgrimage has been made in the centuries that are past to the Holy Land, in the hope that forgiveness of sin and peace of conscience, which could not be found at home, might be found there. It is pleasant, and may do the heart good, to stand where Jesus stood, to weep where he wept on Olivet, to pray where he prayed in Gethsemane, but he is here now as well as there. Wherever one seeks him there he may be found “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Wherever there is a tear of penitence, or a sigh of godly sorrow, wherever there is earnest prayer to him or the desire to pray felt in the heart, there is Jesus to see and to hear and to answer.

If then we lose the sensible coming, do we not gain greatly in that we can always find him where we are? And since this is so, since he is really and always near to every one that seeketh him, may I not say again, come to him as men came when he was on earth. Come with the same confidence in his power that they felt who asked him to heal their disease. There are many to testify that they have come and been heard, and none been sent empty away-do you come, and you too shall hear him say, “Thy sins are forgiven thee.” Come with the same humility the Syrophoenician woman felt, when she pled that the dogs, though they should not eat the children’s food, might yet have the crumbs that fell under the table-and that she, though a Gentile, might yet have some humble share in that salvation which was of the Jews. Come with all the earnestness the poor blind man felt. He heard that Jesus was passing, and none could hinder him with all their charges, from crying, “Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me.” And when the compassionate Saviour stopped, and commanded him to be called, they said to him, “Be of good comfort, rise! he calleth thee.” Even so, my hearer, Jesus commands you to be called, as you sit in your spiritual blindness. Just as Bartimeus threw away his cloak that nothing might hinder him, and went eagerly to Jesus, so you come at once unto him, and ask that you may receive your sight. You too shall hear him say, “Go thy way; thy faith bath made thee whole.”

Again, and this is the last thing I shall say now, come to Jesus just as you are.

Wait not to be ready; think not of being prepared; dream not of being fit; to come. The readiness, the preparation, the fitness, all must be his gift. How wrong to put off your coming to him till you have that which he alone can give. You are a burdened sinner-is it not so? Do you not feel the truth, here on my heart the burden lies, past offenses pain mine eyes-you are heavy laden with sin-then Jesus here invites you to come unto him. Do you say you are not sorry for sin as you ought to be? I know you are not. But come to Jesus, and ask that he will help you to repent. If you have no faith, ask that he will give you faith. All must come from him. Let him be your Lord, your life, your sacrifice, your Saviour and your all. You are a sinner, and Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.

It is said (many here have doubtless read the account) that a brother of the famous Whitefield was once conversing, in great distress, with Lady Huntingdon. She told him of the infinite love and mercy of Jesus, but he replied, “I know all that; but there is no mercy for me-I am lost, I am lost.” “I am glad to hear it, Mr. Whitefield, very glad to hear it.” “How, my dear Madam, glad to hear that I am lost?” “Yes, Jesus came to save the lost.” That word moved him; he believed on Jesus, and lived and died a Christian. And so may you, if you believe on him who is the Saviour of the lost and ruined. Then come to Jesus, come earnestly, come just as you are.

Just as I am,
without one plea
Save that thy blood was shed for me,
And that thou bidst me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come.

Come, and you will be heard-you shall find rest. He will not send you away. He came into the world to save sinners-he suffered and died to save sinners-he invited burdened sinners to him. Then take this blessed, this precious invitation to yourself, come to Jesus, and your soul shall live. “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And Jet him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”

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Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage:  John Albert Broadus (1827–1895) was an American Baptist pastor and professor at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, one of john-broadusthe most famous preachers of his day. Charles Spurgeon deemed Broadus the “greatest of living preachers.” Church historian Albert Henry Newman later said “perhaps the greatest man the Baptists have produced.”

 Excerpts from Wikipedia, source material from ilyston

Sex, Money and the Devil…

by,  J. C. Ryle

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The principal fight of the Christian is with the world, the flesh, and the devil.

These are their never-dying foes. These are the three chief enemies against whom the Christian must wage war. Unless they get the victory over these three, all other victories are useless and vain. If they had a nature like an angel, and were not a fallen creature, the warfare would not be so essential. But with a corrupt heart, a busy devil, and an ensnaring world, the Christian must either fight or be lost.

The Christian must fight the flesh.

Even after conversion they carry within them a nature prone to evil, and a heart weak and unstable as water. To keep that heart from going astray, there is need of a daily struggle and a daily wrestling in prayer. “I discipline my body,” cries Paul, “and bring it under subjection.” “I see a law in my members at war against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity.” “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of death?” “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts.” “Mortify your members which are upon the earth” (1 Cor. 9:27; Rom. 7:23, 24; Gal. 5:24; Col. 3:5).

The Christian must fight the world.

The subtle influence of that mighty enemy must be daily resisted, and without a daily battle can never be overcome. The love of the world’s good things, the fear of the world’s laughter or blame, the secret desire to keep in with the world, the secret wish to do as others in the world do, and not to run into extremes—all these are spiritual foes which beset the Christian continually on their way to heaven, and must be conquered. “The friendship of the world is enmity with God: whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world, is the enemy of God.” “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” “Whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world.” “Be not conformed to this world” (James 4:4; 1 John 2:15; 1 John 5:4; Rom. 12:2).

The Christian must fight the devil.

That old enemy of mankind is not dead. Ever since the fall of Adam and Eve he has been going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it, and striving to compass one great end—the ruin of a person’s soul. Never slumbering and never sleeping, he is always going about as a lion seeking whom he may devour. An unseen enemy, he is always near us, about our path and about our bed, and spying out all our ways. A murderer and a liar from the beginning, he labors night and day to cast us down to hell. Sometimes by leading into superstition, sometimes by suggesting infidelity, sometimes by one kind of tactics and sometimes by another, he is always carrying on a campaign against our souls. “Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.” This mighty adversary must be daily resisted if we wish to be saved. But “this kind does not come out” except by watching and praying, and putting on the whole armor of God. The strong man armed will never be kept out of our hearts without a daily battle. (Job 1:7; 1 Peter 5:8; John 8:44; Luke 22:31; Eph. 4:11).

Reader, perhaps you think these statements too strong.

You fancy that I am going too far, and laying on the colors too thickly. You are secretly saying to yourself, that men and women may surely get to heaven without all this trouble and warfare and fighting. Remember the maxim of the wisest general that ever lived in England: “In time of war it is the worst mistake to underrate your enemy, and try to make a little war.” This Christian warfare is no light matter.

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Meet the author and your Christian heritage:  John Charles Ryle (10 May 1816 – 10 June 1900) was the first Anglican bishop of Liverpool.  Ryle was born at Macclesfield, and was educated at Eton and at Christ Church, Oxford, where he was Craven Scholar in 1836.  The son of a wealthy banker, he was destined for a career in politics before choosing a path of ordained ministry. While hearing Ephesians 2 read in church in 1838, he felt a spiritual awakening and was ordained by Bishop Sumner at Winchester in 1842. For 38 years he was a parish priest, first at Helmingham and later at Stradbrooke, in Suffolk. He became a leader of the evangelical party in the Church of England and was noted for his doctrinal essays and polemical writings.

Ryle was a strong supporter of the evangelical school and a critic of Ritualism. He was a writer, pastor and an evangelical preacher. Among his longer works are Christian Leaders of the Eighteenth Century (1869), Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (7 vols, 1856–69), Principles for Churchmen (1884). Ryle was described as having a commanding presence and vigorous in advocating his principles albeit with a warm disposition. He was also credited with having success in evangelizing the blue collar community. His second son, Herbert Edward Ryle also a clergyman, became Dean of Westminster.

Excerpts from Wikipedia, source material from ilyston