The Busyness of Life and the Silence of Conscience

220px-stpaulscross17thcThat grand old bell in St. Paul’s Cathedral, London…

...is seldom heard by many during the business hours of the day. The roar and din of traffic in the streets have a strange power to deaden its sound and prevent men hearing it. But when the daily work is over, the desks are locked, and doors are closed, and books are put away, and quiet reigns in the great city, the case is altered. As the old bell strikes eleven, and twelve, and one, and two, and three at night, thousands hear it who never heard it during the day. And so I hope it will be with many a one in the matter of his soul.

Now, while in health and strength, in the hurry and whirl of business, I fear the voice of your conscience is often stifled and you cannot hear it But the day may come when the great bell of conscience will make itself heard, whether you like it or not. Laid aside in quietness, and obliged by illness to sit still, you may be forced to look within and consider your own soul’s concerns.

–J. C. Ryle

CHRIST IN HIS LIFE ON EARTH. Or, Blinding Glimpses of Christ Through the Illumination of the Gospels.

Written by A. M. Hodgkin
Edited for thought and sense.

18-awesomeThe Sun of Righteousness has arisen with healing on His wings.

As we read through the Bible we watch the unfolding of the dawn of that day which Abraham rejoiced to see, that is, of that Star prophesied by Balaam, of the great Light foretold by Isaiah. We have, as it were, been watching one cloud after another lit up by the coming glory, and now the King of Glory Himself has come. “We have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him.” We have “seen the Lord’s Christ.” “Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people, a Light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of Thy people Israel.”

Wherever the Light of Christ has shone it has brought a higher ideal of human life to the individual, a higher moral law than was known before.

The Gospel of Christ is the only religion which has a ray of hope for the lost, the sinful, the oppressed and the weak, or a message for the woman and the little child.

The Christ who, for nineteen centuries,has won the victory over sin and darkness and moral degradation is the Christ of the New Testament. Except the bare fact of His existence, all we know of Him is from the Bible.

It is vain for men to say to-day, we believe in Christ, but reject the Bible. It is the preaching of Christ as He is revealed in the Bible –“God incarnate, perfect Man, Saviour by the way of the Cross, and Lord by the resurrection” –that has produced this transformation in the hearts and lives of men (Campbell Morgan).

In the Gospel of Christ according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, we see God’s purpose in giving us a fourfold picture of Him, which brings out the majesty of His person and workA statue has this advantage over a picture, that it enables us to see the one represented from all sides. So this fourfold presentation of Christ exhibits from each point of view some fresh beauty in Him.

The four evangelists have been compared with the four cherubim of Ezekiel and Revelation. Matthew shows us our Lord in His kingly aspect as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah; Mark exhibits Him as the faithful Servant of Jehovah, the ox, ready alike for service or for sacrifice; Luke presents Him as the Son of Man, full of human sympathy, as the emblem of the man suggests; whereas, with John, we see Him as the Son of God, the eagle,soaring into the heavenly blue with a majesty that transcends all our thought and imagination.

Matthew

Christ the King

In this Gospel we see the royal majesty of our heavenly King. The Gospel by Matthew was written for the Jews. It sets forth the Law, and refers constantly to the Old Testament Scriptures, showing how both have been fulfilled by Christ.

This Gospel opens thus: “The book of the generations of Jesus Christ,the Son of David, the Son of Abraham” (1:1). This shows His covenant position as Son of Abraham, and His royal position as Son of David. “David the King,” in ver. 6, emphasizes our Lord’s position as David’s royal Heir.

His wondrous divinity is announced in His birth through the power of the Holy Ghost, in His personality as Savior (Jesus), and in His absolute Godhead as revealed in the name Emmanuel –God with us.

Matthew alone recounts the visit of the Magi. The whole world at this time was expecting the advent of some Great One. “Where is He that is born King of the Jews? ” Their adoration foreshadowed His universal dominion. Matthew alone tells us how Herod, the usurper of David’s sovereignty, sought to slay the heir.

In this Gospel John the Baptist introduces the Lord Jesus as the mighty Judge, Who shall purge His floor with tremendous judgment. Matthew’s account of the temptation, instead of following the chronological order of Luke, gives the account of the temptation on the mountain last, as if to emphasize it. Our Lord is the world’s King. Satan has usurped the dominion; he offers to surrender it on one condition. It means escape from Calvary for the Savior, and escape from centuries of suffering for His Church. But we see the victory of the King.

“From that time Jesus began to preach,and to say. Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” The word Kingdom occurs fifty-five times in Matthew; thirty-five times it is ” the Kingdom of Heaven,” an expression found nowhere else in the Gospels. John uses the word Kingdom only five times.

The Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5-7) gives us the Laws of the Kingdom. We have the seven parables of the Kingdom in chapter 8, each beginning with “The Kingdom of Heaven is like, “except that of the Sower, where we have the word Kingdom in verse IL Almost all our Lord’s parables in Matthew begin thus, whereas in Luke it is nearly always “A certain man.” Compare also the two accounts of the Marriage Supper. It is Matthew who tells us that the host was a King. The parables of the Day of Judgment set forth especially the royal and power of Christ.

In common with Mark and Luke, Matthew tells us of the unveiled glory of the King in the transfiguration. He adds this touch, ” His face did shine as the sun,” and these words, ” in whom I am well pleased,” showing how perfectly our Lord fulfilled God’s Law. In his account of the Resurrection he tells of the great earthquake, the angel whose face was like lightning, for fear of whom the keepers did shake and become as dead men.

Finally, this Gospel gives us, as no other,our Lord’s last royal Commission. “All authority hath been given unto Me in heaven and on earth, go ye therefore and make disciples of all the nations.”

Mark

Christ the Servant

Mark gives us the picture of Christ as the willing Servant, yielding active, prompt obedience at every moment of His life.

This Gospel is believed to have been written in Italy for the Romans, and that Mark received his information from Peter. Peter’s words to Cornelius form a perfect summary of this book: “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost, and with power; who went about doing good,and healing all that were oppressed of the devil: for God was with Him” (Acts. 10:38). Instead of opening with any record of our Lord’s birth or early years, Mark begins at once with His ministry. His introduction again supplies the key to the book: “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”The beginning, but not the end,” eternity, it may be, we shall never come to the end of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

One half of this Gospel is occupied with narrative, and only half with our Lord’s utterances; while in Matthew the latter occupy three-fourths, in Luke two-thirds, and in John five-sixths.

The words immediately, forthwith, anon, and straightway meet us constantly. The lesson for us is a like prompt obedience. Matthew and Luke tell us that our Lord was “led” of the Spirit into the wilderness; but Mark’s words are, “The Spirit drives Him into the wilderness.” From him too we learn that the temptation lasted the whole of the forty days, and that the Lord was “with the wild beasts.” The four parables of chapter 4 tell us the working of the Gospel. The parable of the Lord’s return is given only by Mark, and here the Gospel of service is plainly emphasized.

Everywhere Mark gives us the idea of stress of service. Multitudes crowd to hear Christ. The whole city was gathered to the door; so many came and went at times that He could not even eat, or could not enter into the city; men from all the cities ran together on foot to see Him; wherever He went they placed the sick before Him, and as many as touched Him were made whole. Though prompt action ever characterized His ministry He was never hurried in His dealing with those in need. Mark alone tells in two cases of healing, that our Lord took the deaf man and the blind man apart with Himself when He healed them. He alone tells us that He took the little children up in His arms when He blessed them.

These little graphic details are a feature of this Gospel, adding some fresh touch to almost every narrative. Peter’s quick eye had evidently noted them.

In each Gospel we have the record of the great Sacrifice by which sin is put away. But when our Lord rises from the grave and gives His final commission to His disciples, there is a marked contrast here to the record in Matthew; it rings with the urgency of service: not a corner of the world is to be left unvisited, not a soul to be left out.

The book opened with the words “the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,the Son of God.” Here we have the continuation. The Lord is still carrying on His work, and we are co-operating with Him. “So then, after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth,and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.”

Luke

Christ the Son of Man, the Savior

This is the Gospel for the sinner. It brings out the compassionate love of Christ in becoming Man to save us. It was probably written for the Greeks. It traces our Lord’s descent back to Adam, and shows Him as the Son of Man and the Son of God, the Savior for the whole human race. The “Son of the Highest,” and the Son of the lowly virgin.

Instead of the visit of the Magi, Luke tells us of the humble shepherds to whom was announced the tidings of peace to all people,”to you is born a Savior,”and there, among the cattle, the Savior’s first guests would feel themselves at home.

“Mine eyes have seen Thy Salvation,”said the aged Simeon, as he took the Holy Child in his arms. And Anna “spake of Him to all that looked for Redemption in Israel.” Here, in His baptism,we see Him taking His place among the multitudes; Luke omits the words with which Matthew proclaimed Him as the coming Judge. Again, instead of the words, ” Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand,” we find Him beginning His ministry by taking His place in the synagogue at Nazareth, and applying to Himself the gracious words of Isaiah which proclaimed His ministry of mercy to the broken-hearted.

Luke records his compassion to the Widow of Nain, and the depths of His mercy to the woman that was a sinner; the story of Zaccheus with the murmuring of the Pharisees because He had gone to be a guest with a man which was a sinner. The parables of this Gospel bring out in the same way His compassion and His saving power. They generally begin “a certain man.” Such are the Good Samaritan, the Pharisee and the Publican, the Importunate Widow, and, above all, the three parables of the central chapter, the fifteenth, the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin,and the Lost Son, in which His joy over the lost found is so marvelously represented. In the parable of the Great Supper it is Luke who records the Lord’s command to go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in. And the words “Yet there is room” has been the Gospel motto through all the ages.

Luke alone tells us that when our Lord beheld the city He wept over it; of the bloody sweat in Gethsemane; of the Lord showing mercy to the dying thief even in His agony, and gathering from the very Cross the first-fruits of His sufferings.

Luke alone tells of the walk to Emmaus, he himself, very possibly, being one of the two disciples. He tells of our Lord deigning to eat the piece of broiled fish and of the honey-comb, in order to show us His perfect humanity even after His resurrection; of His leading them out as far as to Bethany, and that, as He lifted up His hands and blessed them, He was parted from them.

John

Christ, the Son of God, the Divine friend

John wrote to reveal the Son of God as our Divine Friend. The first chapter shows Him to us as “the only-begotten Son of God, which is in the bosom of the Father,” One of the closing chapters shows us “the disciple whom Jesus loved” “lying on Jesus’ breast.” He came right from the heart of God, right to the heart of man.

“I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself” (Exod.19:4). The object of this Gospel is to bear us as upon the eagle’s wings of our Divine Savior, right into the presence of the Father Himself. ” Father, I will that they also whom Thou hast given Me be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory,which Thou hast given Me: for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world ” (17:24).

These words in the seventeenth chapter take us back to the introduction to this Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word.” Our thoughts are turned back to the first words of the Bible, and unite the great work of creation with the glorious revelation of the Son of God. “And the Word was God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.” Jesus is the Creator; He meets the need of all created life; He meets the need of man by giving Himself to be each man’s greatest, nearest Friend (Rev. John Urquhart).

In accordance with this,one of the chief features of John’s Gospel is our Lord’s personal interviews with individuals. The first disciples in chapter 1, Nicodemus, the Woman of Samaria, and others right through the book, to the very end, where He revealed Himself to Thomas, and said to Peter, “Lovest thou Me?” In all these He disclosed Himself as the Friend of the soul. The close union between Christ and the Church is set forth in this Gospel under the figure of the Bridegroom(3:25-29), of the Vine and the branches (15), of partaking of His flesh and blood (6:48-57), and of the living water. We see His friendship with the beloved disciple, and in the home at Bethany. It comes out again in His last discourse with His disciples, which is introduced by the words, “Having loved His own which were in the world. He loved them unto the end.” ” Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. I have called you friends.” It is revealed in His prayer, where His desire is in all things their oneness with Himself. The love of Christ is limitless to each soul.

The ” I AM ” in this Gospel shows how perfectly He meets the world’s need.
I AM He, the Christ, 4:26, meets our need of a Divine Savior,who is also human.
I AM the Bread of Life, 6:35, meets our soul-hunger.
I AM the Light of the World, 8:12, meets our darkness.
I AM the Door of the Sheep, 10:7, meets our homelessness.
I AM the Good Shepherd, 10:11, meets our helplessness.
I AM the Resurrection and the Life, 11:25, meets our death.
I AM your Master and Lord, 13:13, meets our dependence.
I AM the Way, the Truth,and the Life,xiv. 6, meets our need of salvation.
I AM the True Vine, 15:1, meets our need of union with Himself.
I AM Jesus of Nazareth, 18:5, meets our need of a human Savior, Who is also Divine.

These words I AM (ego eimi) identified our Lord with the covenant name of Jehovah in the Old Testament. The Jews recognized that He claimed deity in applying it thus emphatically to Himself, for it was when He said,” Before Abraham was, I AM,” they took up stones to stone Him, considering it blasphemy, which by the law was punishable by death.

John wrote his Gospel that men “might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing they might have life through His name” (20:31). Accordingly, we find the word ” believe ” occurring nearly a hundred times through this Gospel, and the word ” witness ” nearly fifty times. For, beginning with the Baptist (1:6, 7), John called in one witness after another to give evidence in proving the case. See especially chapter 5:40.

Early Women Disciples – Lydia

Thank you, an excellent, well written post!

My Lord Katie

A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening: and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.” (Acts 16:14)

Lydia, businesswomanLydia fills a remarkable place in the history of the expansion of the church of Jesus Christ. Jesus told His followers to proclaim the Gospel to the whole world. In the Old Testament, God had been mostly dealing with His Jewish children. But now, God wants His story of love and salvation to go to everyone, even Gentiles. God’s dealing with Lydia is just one story that illustrates God’s plan for the ages.

Another thing that changed with the coming of Christ and the Holy Spirit was that now women would be involved in the work of ministry as well as men. For the last several months I have posted stories about…

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This Do in Remembrance of Me: My Own Private Thoughts When Approaching The Lord’s Supper

At the time of receiving…

lords_supper-1024x484Lord, I am here to remember your completed sacrifice against my sin, and to remember your grace against my corruption, and your love against my fears.

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I believe your word; I remember your command; I adore your goodness; I wait for your redemption. Thank you for effecting your completed sacrifice on the cross and making it the seal of mercy, and the conveyance of life to me. O Lord Jesus, come into my heart.

I look to You for mercy and strength to keep mercy. I profess my faith in Christ, that I have pardon and peace with God, life and righteousness only by his death and merits; and to own my obligation to live unto him that died for me, in faith, love, and self-dedication. I look for Christ’s love and likeness; for the benefit and for the efficacy of the cross; to have the load of sin taken from my heart; and any other load, which Christ thinks fit, laid upon my back.

I look to You to help me leave sin behind me, and to receive Christ instead of it; and if I do the one, having laid my sins on Christ, with a will to forsake them, I am sure of the other.  Lord, grant me the peace, and all that comes with it, as well as love, patience, resignation, thankfulness, deliverance from the fear of death, and a hearty longing for eternity, I look to the cross for the pardon of sin, for the kindling of love, for the turning of my heart, for the renewal of my will.

I look to You, not to give, but to receive; not to tell you how good I am, but to think how good you are. I have a great many sins and wants to tell you Lord, more than would take up the whole day; and when I have told you all that I know of in myself, it is not the half, but a very little of what you know about me. I bring myself and my sin to you, believing that you will be all to me, and do all for me that is in your heart.

I go as a Sinner to a Saviour. To whom else should I go, with my blind eyes, foul leprosy, hard heart, and rebellious will? You tell me what I must have, I know not how many graces I need; but I cannot stay for them; my wants are urgent; I am a dying man. My Lord, with your own kindness, you say, “come; do this; remember me.” Your invitation is qualification enough for me to participate today; and I long to feed on you, to thank you, to take you into my heart. I will  behold you crucified, and your blood poured out for me, in spite of all my sins and fears; and though all the saints on earth stood up with one mouth to forbid me, I go to put myself under your wings, and to fly to you for refuge from the monster sin, ready to devour me.

I look to the Cross to know You and myself; to wonder at the reconciliation of strict punishment with free pardon; to see the greatness of my sin, and the greatness of my hope, in the greatness of the sacrifice therein represented; to sin no more, because I believe there is no condemnation for my sin; to be raised as high as heaven, and humbled in the dust; to be astonished at the mystery of Christ crucified, and to profess that I know less of God than ever.

Let me be daily thinking of the cross, daily in a state of thankfulness for it, daily living under it, resolving to receiving you in faith and humility, daily learning of your sacrifice of  love and undeserved mercy, making your love and life my pattern, and dreading the sin which could be expiated with no less a sacrifice.

“Do this in remembrance of me;” –I remember who I am, and what thou are; I will remember you as my Saviour; I will remember you as my Master; I will remember your love; I will remember you as hating my sin; I will remember you as bearing my sin; I will remember you and fear not; help me to remember you and sin not; help me to remember you, to live for you, by you, and through you.

Now knowing, and assuredly believing, the promises of God made over to me for the forgiveness of my sins, through faith in the blood of Christ;

I do from a detestation of my sinfulness, and a hearty sense of my want of pardoning grace, accept once again, your covenant of rest and peace: Trusting in you for the accomplishment of my whole salvation, in the way of gospel holiness, by your Spirit; and resolving without delay to put myself into your hands for that purpose. May you keep me steadfast in this faith and engagement, and carry me on from strength to strength that I may be one with you, my Saviour, and I live for you, and I love you with all my heart, and with all my soul.  

Amen.

A Thought on Shepherds and on the Sheep who Follow them…

shepherd_goodBut he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” John 10:2-5

“But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.…” John 10:26-28

In the 1800’s An American missionary who was travelling in Syria saw three native shepherds bring their flocks to the same brook…

…and the flocks drank there together. At length one of the shepherds arose and called out “Men-ah, men-ah” (which is the Arabic word for ”follow me”). His “sheep came out of the common herd, and followed him up the hillside.

Then the next shepherd did the same, and called out “Men-ah, men-ah,” and his sheep went away with him, and the man did not even stop to count them.

The American said to the remaining shepherd, “Just give me your cloak and turban and crook, and see if they won’t follow me just as soon as they would you.”

So he put on the shepherd’s dress, and called out “Men-ah, men-ah!” –But not a sheep moved an inch! “They knew not the voice of a stranger.”

“Will your flock never follow anybody but you?”

…inquired the American. The Syrian shepherd replied, Oh yes; sometimes a sheep gets sick and then it will follow anyone.”

Is that not just so with the flock of Christ?” 

–Christian Age, c 1860.

When the Ravens Steal the Seed: A False Theology about God.

Written by Arthur W. Pink,
Taken from, “The Foreknowledge of God “

Common Raven in flightFalse theology makes God’s foreknowledge of our believing the cause of His election to salvation; whereas, God’s election is the cause, and our believing in Christ is the effect.

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“When the solemn and blessed subject of divine foreordination is expounded, when God’s eternal choice of certain ones to be conformed to the image of His Son is set forth, the enemy sends along some man to argue that election is based upon the foreknowledge of God, and this ‘foreknowledge’ is interpreted to mean that God foresaw certain ones would be more pliable than others, that they would respond more readily to the strivings of the Spirit, and that because God knew they would believe, He accordingly, predestinated them unto salvation.

But such a statement is radically wrong.

It repudiates the truth of total depravity, for it argues that there is something good in some men. It takes away the independency of God, for it makes His decrees rest upon what He discovers in the creature. It completely turns things upside down, for in saying God foresaw certain sinners would believe in Christ, and that because of this, He predestinated them unto salvation, is the very reverse of the truth. Scripture affirms that God, in His high sovereignty, singled out certain ones to be recipients of His distinguishing favours (Acts 13:48), and therefore He determined to bestow upon them the gift of faith. False theology makes God’s foreknowledge of our believing the cause of His election to salvation; whereas, God’s election is the cause, and our believing in Christ is the effect. There are those today who are misusing this very truth in order to discredit and deny the absolute sovereignty of God in the salvation of sinners, just as higher critics are repudiating the divine inspiration of the Scriptures; evolutionists, the work of God in creation; so some pseudo Bible teachers are perverting His foreknowledge in order to set aside His unconditional election unto eternal life.

Just a Bit O’ History… Psalm 9

Burnt_at_the_stake_by_severeeneI will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works. I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High. When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence.

For thou hast maintained my right and my cause; thou satest in the throne judging right. Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked, thou hast put out their name for ever and ever. O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end: and thou hast destroyed cities; their memorial is perished with them.

But the Lord shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment. And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness. The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.

Sing praises to the Lord, which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people his doings. When he maketh inquisition for blood, he remembereth them: he forgetteth not the cry of the humble. –Psalm 9: 1-11

Five scholars of Lausanne, devoted to the Reformation, were taken in France, A.D. 1553, and burned in the Place des Terreaux at Lyons.

As they were being carried to execution, they sang with a loud voice this psalm, ‘De tout mon coeur, t’exalterai, Seigneur!’ …I will praise thee, 0 Lord, with my whole heart. . . . When he makes inquisition for blood, he remembers them: he forgets not the cry of the humble.’ –taken from Psalm 9.

At this time, by a decree of Pope Paul IV., began that reign of terror, under the treacherous and cruel guises, which lasted nearly till a different terror, its daughter and Nemesis, took its place.

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Meet and exult in the joy of these 5 young martyrs who are part of your Christian heritage: Long years of sorrow and affliction followed the spring-time of joy that had heralded the French Reformation! Yet through it all they never forgot the sweet savor of that early psalmody. ‘Music’ said Luther, ‘is the best consolation of the afflicted. It refreshes the heart and restores its peace.’

So it was with the early martyrs, who constantly went to the stake singing. Yes, such was the joy of heart in those days, that a chronicler describes the young virgins as going more gaily to execution than they would have done to their nuptials. Such was the enthusiastic strength the new life gave them, that we read of a peasant who met some prisoners on the way to execution, and asked the reason of their sentence. He was told they were heretics; and he at once claimed a place by their side, got into the cart, and went to die with his brethren.

To overflow with joy in affliction, to make the prison, and the scaffold jubilant with songs of praise — what better proof can we have that the kingdom of God had come nigh, that at this moment France was entering into a new life? The martyrs of the primitive Church could not have triumphed over death with more exulting faith than some of these early confessors for the cause of Reform in France. Nothing is more beautiful in martyrology than the story of the five scholars of Lausanne, burnt at Lyons on the 16th of May, 1553. Martial Alba, Pierre Naviheres, Bernard Seguin, Charles Favre, Pierre Escrivain, — these were the names of the young brothers so blessed and honored in their exodus from this world of sin and suffering.

They had returned, towards the end of April, 1552, into France, in order to begin their work as ministers of the Gospel. Betrayed and denounced almost as soon as they entered France, they were arrested at Lyons and thrown into prison. Here they lay for more than a year, notwithstanding the untiring efforts of sympathetic friends. In these dungeons — and what dungeons only those who have descended into such places as the oubliettes still to be seen under the pontifical palace at Avignon can form any idea — in these dungeons joy lit up their hearts, to think that the world counted them accursed, while God had chosen them to maintain the cause of Jesus Christ. But nothing we can say will equal the touching story of their last hours as told by the chronicler.

‘These then are the arms with which these holy persons were provided to maintain their last combat, which took place the sixteenth of the month of May (1553), a whole year having rolled away since they were imprisoned. The sixteenth, say I, brought them deliverance, and was the blessed day for which the crown of immortality was prepared for them by the Lord after so virtuous a fight. About nine o’clock in the morning of the said day, after having received sentence of death in the court of Rouane — the which, in short, was to be led to the place of the Terreaux, and there burned alive until their whole bodies were consumed, — all five were put in the place where criminals waited, after having received sentence, until the appointed time, between one and two o’clock in the
afternoon. These five martyrs betook themselves first to praying to God with great ardor and vehemence of spirit, marvelous to those who beheld them; some prostrating themselves on the ground, others looking upward; and then they commenced to rejoice in the Lord and to sing psalms. And as two o’clock drew nigh, they were led out of the said place clothed in their grey dresses and tied with cords exhorting one another to maintain constancy, since the end of their course was at the stake close at hand, and that the victory there was quite certain.

”Being then placed on a cart, they commenced to sing the 9th Psalm: “I will give thanks unto the Lord with my whole heart….” However, they had not time to finish it, so much were they taken up with invoking God, and uttering several passages of Scripture as they passed along. Among others, as they passed by the Place of the Herberie, at the end of the bridge of the Saone, one of them, turning to the vast crowd, said in a loud voice, “The God of peace, who brought again from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep, our Lord, according to Christ by the blood of the eternal covenant, confirm you in every good work to do His will.” Then commencing the Apostles’ Creed, dividing it by articles, one after the other, they repeated it with a holy harmony, in order to show that they had together one accordant faith in all and through all. He whose turn it was to pronounce the words, “Who was conceived of the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary,” raised his voice, in order that the people might know that it was a false calumny which their enemies had spread that they had denied this article, and spoken ill of the Virgin Mary. To the sergeants and satellites who often troubled them, menacing them if they did not hold their peace, they twice answered, “Do not prevent us in the short time we have to live from praising and invoking our God.”

Being come to the place of execution, they mounted with joyful heart on to the heap of wood which was round about the stake. The two youngest among them mounted firsts one after the other, and the executioner having stripped them of their clothes, bound them to the stake. The last who ascended was Martial Alba, the oldest of the five, who had been a long time on his knees upon the wood praying to the Lord. The executioner, having bound the others, came to take him, and having raised him by the armpits, wished to put him down with the others; but he earnestly asked the Lieutenant Tignac to grant him a favor. The lieutenant said to him, ” What wilt thou ?” He said to him, “That I might kiss my brothers before dying.” The lieutenant granted him his request, and then the said Martial, being led up to the wood, kissed and was kissed in turn by all the four standing there tied and bound, saying to each of them, “Adieu, adieu, my brother!” Then the other four there bound kissed each other, turning round their heads and saying one to the other the same words, ” Adieu, my brother!”

‘This done, after the said Martial had recommended his said brothers to God before coming down and being bound, he also kissed the executioner, saying to him these words, “My friend, do not forget what I have said to thee.” Then, after being tied and bound to the same stake, all were inclosed with a chain which went round about the stake. An attempt was then made to hasten their death by strangling them, but it failed, upon which the bystanders heard the five martyrs continually exhorting one another with the words, “Courage, my brothers, courage!” These were the last words heard in the midst of the fire, which soon consumed the bodies of the aforesaid valiant champions and true martyrs of the Lord.’

–Taken from,“The reformation in France, from the dawn of reform to the revocation of the Edict of Nantes”, Translated and Written by Richard Heath, 1886, from an old print in the British Museum.

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Beginning devotional thoughts taken from, THE PSALMS IN HISTORY AND BIOGRAPHY.
Written by the Rev. John Ker, D.D.

Published 1886

The Prevalence and Awfulness of False Religion

Written by, John Flavel, Puritan, 1679.
Taken from, TOUCHSTONE OF SINCERITY, or True and False Religion.
Edited for thought and sense.

PoorestMan

“Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich…”  

–Rev. 3: 17, 18.

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The members of the Laodicean church had a name to live, but were dead.

In regard to their spiritual state, they were emphatically described as lukewarm. They had drawn around them the form of religion, but never heartily engaged in the practice of its duties; they were strangers to its transforming efficacy, its living influence, and heavenly consolations.

To this lifeless indifference the Lord Jesus expressed his aversion: “I would that thou wert cold or hot, etc. The word cold, here, denotes the moral state of those who are wholly alienated from religion; the term hot, relates to the pious temper of those who fervently love Christ and his institutions; the lukewarm are such as are in reality also destitute of religion to be called spiritual and, yet, externally have, too much the appearance of it to be esteemed carnal. The form of religion they affect as an honor, or a safeguard; the power of it they Imagine would be burdensome: they choose not to appear openly on the side of error and impiety, but are more unwilling to live conformably to their profession: their policy is such that they venture little, and such is their folly, that they lose all.

In the text the Laodiceans are accused of being in this deplorable state, and a remedy for their spiritual maladies is pointed out.

  1. Their moral disease is exposed in its symptoms, its character and its aggravations.

    1. Its symptoms are formality, indecision, listless stupidity. Lukewarmness; with all the various traits of those professors of religion who love supremely their temporal interests and private happiness.
    2. Its character is thus noted: “Thou art wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” All these epithets relate to the unsoundness of their foundation. The two first, ”wretched and miserable,” are general, describing their condition to be lamentable, if not hopeless; the three last, “poor, blind, naked,” are more particular, referring to  those great defects in the foundation upon which they were building, which rendered their state so pitiable and dangerous. Thou art “poor” –or devoid of righteousness and true holiness before God. These are the true riches, the riches of Christians: and he that does not possess them, is poor and miserable, howsoever large be his mental gifts or earthly treasures.  Thou art “blind” –without divine illumination, void of spiritual light; and so neither knowing the disease nor the remedy: the evil of sin, or the necessity of Christ. Thou art “naked” ” in a shameful defenseless, and exposed condition: without the garments of salvation, the robe of righteousness and shield of faith.
    3. The aggravations of this deadly Laodicean disease are thus stated: “Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not…etc.”  Alas, to what absurdity and impiety does spiritual delusion lead! To be destitute of holiness, and without Christ, were sufficiently awful: but, while in this state, to boast of spiritual riches, is most miserable. To have the very symptoms of death, and yet confidently profess that we are healthy and safe, is lamentable indeed!
  2. A REMEDY is prescribed: ” I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich ; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see.”

    1. Let us consider what is here recommended. These metaphors represent the most superb and valuable things. Gold tried in the fire–true holiness, Christian graces that have been tried and proved. White raiment–the righteousness of the saints. Eye-salve–the illumination of the Holy Spirit.
    2. Whence may these blessings be obtained? Buy of me, saith Christ. Ordinances, ministers, angels, cannot communicate them to you. Christ, the repository of all graces, alone can confer them.
    3. How are they to be acquired? Not by purchase, as those pretend who build the notion of merit on the words “buy of me.” The exigency of the case destroys this conceit; for what can they who are poor, and wretched, and miserable, and in want of all things, offer in return for these divine riches? Doubtless to “buy”, as the phrase is used here, is cordially to receive, in the way of his own appointment, which Christ offers to bestow. Thus it is elsewhere written: “He that hath no money, let him come and buy wine and milk, without money, and without price.”

In view of what has been said, three observations offer themselves to our consideration.

  1. That many professors of religion are under very great and dangerous mistakes in regard to their character.
  2. That true holiness is exceedingly valuable, and greatly enriches the soul.
  3. That we may safely account that only to be true holiness which will endure all the tests appointed for its examination.

The first observation naturally arises from the scope of the text, which is to awaken and convince unsound professors.

The second is suggested by the use which the Holy Ghost makes of the richest things in nature, to represent the unspeakable worth of Christian graces.

The third is derived from the very significant metaphor of gold tried in the fire; by which I understand a real work of grace, manifesting and proving itself to be such during the closest inspection, or under the severest trial. For whatever puts the reality of one’s holiness to the proof, whatever scrutinizes and tries it, is to him what fire is to gold. Hence we read in Scripture: “Thou hast tried us as silver is tried.” Again: “I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and try them as gold is tried.”

The Death of a Royal Christian Princess, and the Hope of Eternal Life

Elizabeth_tombThe Princess Elisabeth,

The daughter of King Charles I, of England, lies buried in Newport Church, in the Isle of Wight During the time of her father’s troubles she was a prisoner in Carisbrook Castle, in the same beautiful island.

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She was found one day dead in her bed with her Bible open before her and her finger resting on these words,

“Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” A monument in Newport erected by Queen Victoria, represents the young princess with her head bowed in death, and her hand rests on a marble book before her, her finger pointing to the words.

The concluding lines from The Death of The Princess Elizabeth in the 1866 book Lays of the English Cavaliers by John Jeremiah Daniel commemorated Victoria’s actions:

“And long unknown, unhonoured, her sacred dust had slept
When to the Stuart maiden’s grave a mourner came and wept.
Go, read that Royal Martyr’s woe in lines the world reveres
And see the tomb of Charles’s child wet with Victoria’s tears.”

Meet the Royal Christian Princess of our story:  Elizabeth Stuart (1635 – 1650) was the second daughter of King Charles I of England, Scotland and Ireland and his wife, Henrietta Maria of France. From the age of six until her early death at the age of fourteen she was a prisoner of Parliament during the English Civil War. Her emotional written account of her final meeting with her father on the eve of his execution and his final words to his children have been published in numerous histories about the war and King Charles I.

On the outbreak of the English Civil War in 1642, Elizabeth, along with her brother the Duke of Gloucester, were placed under the care of Parliament. Guardianship was assigned to different nobles, among them Philip Herbert, 4th Earl of Pembroke.

After guardianship of the king’s younger children was given to the Earl of Northumberland in 1642, their brother, Prince James, Duke of York, the future James II, came to visit, but was supposedly advised to escape by Elizabeth, who was concerned about him being around the king’s enemies for any length of time.

In 1643, the seven-year-old Elizabeth broke her leg, and soon moved to Chelsea with her brother, the Duke of Gloucester. She was tutored by the great female scholar Bathsua Makin until 1644, by which time she could read and write in Hebrew, Greek, Italian, Latin and French. Other prominent scholars dedicated works to her, and were amazed by her flair for religious reading.

She was called “Temperance” in the family for her kind nature. The turmoil under which she had grown up had produced a young woman of unusual character. When she was eleven, the French ambassador described the princess as a “budding young beauty” who had “grace, dignity, intelligence and sensibility” that enabled her to judge the different people she met and understand different points of view. Her strength of character was in contrast to continued poor health.

When Parliament decided to remove Elizabeth’s household in 1648, the twelve-year-old princess wrote a letter of appeal against the decision:

“My Lords, I account myself very miserable that I must have my servants taken from me and strangers put to me. You promised me that you would have a care for me; and I hope you will show it in preventing so great a grief as this would be to me. I pray my lords consider of it, and give me cause to thank you, and to rest.

Your loving friend,
Elizabeth.”

The Lords were sympathetic and condemned the Commons for presuming to intervene with the Royal Household, and the decision was overturned. However, the Commons demanded that the royal children be brought up strict Protestants; they were also forbidden to join the Court at Oxford, and were held virtual prisoners at St. James’s Palace.

Charles also gave his daughter a Bible during their highly emotional final meeting. Her father told his sobbing daughter not to “grieve and torment herself for him” and asked her to keep her faith in the Protestant religion. Charles then told her to read certain books, among them Bishop Andrew’s Sermons, Hooker’s Ecclesiastical Polity and Bishop Laud’s book against Fisher, to ground her against “popery”. After Charles’ execution, the royal children became unwanted charges of the State.

Following her death, her grave was largely unmarked until the 19th century, with the exception of her carved initials: E[lizabeth] S[tuart]. Queen Victoria, who made her favourite home at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, commanded that a suitable monument be erected to her memory. In 1856, a white marble sculpture by Queen Victoria’s favorite sculptor Carlo Marochetti was commissioned for her grave that depicted Elizabeth as a beautiful young woman, lying with her cheek on a Bible open to words from Gospel of Matthew: “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Above the sculpture is a grating, indicating that she was a prisoner, but the bars are broken to show that the prisoner has now escaped to “a greater rest.” The plaque marking the sculpture reads:

“To the memory of The Princess Elizabeth, daughter of King Charles I,
who died at Carisbrooke Castle on 8 September 1650,
and is interred beneath the chancel of this church,
this monument is erected as a token of respect for her
 virtues and of sympathy for her misfortunes,
by Victoria R., 1856.

Character excerpts taken from Wikipedia

Just a Bit O’ History… Psalm 6

david_nathanO Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure. Have mercy upon me, O Lord; for I am weak: O Lord, heal me; for my bones are vexed. My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O Lord, how long?  Return, O Lord, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies’ sake. For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?  I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears. Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies.
Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping.  The Lord hath heard my supplication; the Lord will receive my prayer. Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed: let them return and be ashamed suddenly.
                                                                               — Psalm 6

 This psalm might have a history to itself.

It has a wail of pain and sorrow, deepening into anguish, running through it; but comfort dawns at the close, like an angel turning the key of the prison. It is the first of the seven penitential psalms, the others being the 32nd, 38th, 51st, 102nd, 130th, 143rd.

One of the strangest things, though not the happiest, in its records is, that, along with Psalm 142nd, it was the choice of Catherine de Medici, who was the Jezebel and Athaliah of the French monarchy. She was irreligious and superstitious, profligate and devoured by ambition; though the fact that she had no children, seemed likely to deprive her of the control which she hoped to gain in the counsels of the kingdom. The psalm was the expression of mere worldly disappointment. She became at last the mother of Francis II. (the first husband of Mary Stuart) and of Charles IX., whose character she corrupted by ministering to his vices, and whom she urged to the massacre of St. Bartholomew. ‘Her desire was realized’ says a French historian, ‘for the misery of France;’ and that family, which then took pleasure in the Psalms, put to death thousands of the Reformed for singing them.’

It has a more pleasing association with another princess, allied to the French royal family. Elizabeth Charlotte was niece of Sophia, Electress of Hanover, and grand-daughter of Elizabeth Stuart, after whom she was named. She had remarkable abilities, and was carefully educated by her aunt Sophia, under the eye of the great Leibnitz. Her father, the Elector Palatine, constrained her to a marriage with the Duke of Orleans, brother of Louis XIV., in the hope that the union might save his principality from the aggression of the French king. But it helped Louis to fresh claims ; and, when her beautiful native land, beside the Ehine and Neckar, was wasted by the French armies, its towns laid in ashes, the Castle of Heidelberg, the home of her childhood, shattered, and the people she loved driven out in winter to die houseless and famishing, she could not sleep for the visions of havoc, and for the thought that she had been cruelly sacrificed to a vain policy. Her letters, lately published, are deeply interesting for the light they throw on the time, and on the Court of France. Her heart went back to her early Protestant faith, and to the old Castle of Osnabruck, where she had spent her happiest days with her aunt.

In a letter to her she relates an incident connected with this psalm. She was walking one day in the orangery at Versailles, and was singing it in the translation of Clement Marot, as an expression of her feelings, a noted artist of the time, warmly attached in heart to the Reformed religion, was engaged in painting the roof, and heard her. ‘Scarcely’ she writes, ‘had I finished the first verse, when I saw M. Rousseau hasten down the ladder and fall at my feet. I thought he was mad, and said, “Rousseau, Rousseau, what is the matter?” He replied, “Is it possible, madam, that you still recollect our psalms and sing them? May God bless you, and keep you in this good mind.” He had tears in his eyes.’ It is interesting to know that Louis XIV., broken-hearted in his old age by defeats and disappointments, recognized her worth, and leaned on her for comfort.

Another woman, of our own time, with trials in a different position, and yet like in kind to those of Elizabeth Charlotte, has put her heart into some of the words. The wife of Thomas Carlyle inserts verses 2-4 in her Journal, 1855, when in sore trouble of body and mind, amid weakness and weariness and sleepless nights and wounded feelings.

‘Oh, dear! I wish this Grange business were well over. It occupies me (the mere preparation for it) to the exclusion of all quiet thought and placid occupation. To have to care for my dress, this time of day, more than I ever did when young and pretty and happy (God bless me, to think I was once all that!), on penalty of being regarded as a blot on the Grange gold and azure, is really too bad. Ach Gott! if we had been left in the sphere of life we belong to, how much better it would have been for us in many ways!

Ah, the spiritis willing, but the flesh is weak as water. Today I walked with effort one little mile, and thought it a great feat. Sleep has come to look to me the highest virtue and the greatest happiness; that is, good sleep, untroubled, beautiful, like a child’s. Ah me! “Have mercy upon me, 0 Lord; for I am weak: 0 Lord, heal me ; for my bones are vexed. My soul is also sore vexed : but thou, 0 Lord, how long ?”

This same verse 3 was the common expression of Calvin when he was in trouble, ‘Tu Domine usque quo?’ ‘Thou, 0 Lord, how long?’

‘Thou, 0 Lord, how long?’ and parts of the psalm, with the last verse of Psalm 70th, were also among the dying words of Robert Rollock, the first Principal of the University of Edinburgh, a man remarkable for power of administration and deep piety.

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Taken from, THE PSALMS IN HISTORY AND BIOGRAPHY.
Written by the Rev. John Ker, D.D.

Published 1886