Thoughts, Views and Apprehensions of the Early Church

downloadThe disciples, after the festival of Pentecost were now fully assured that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah.

And so after waiting and receiving in Jerusalem the promise of the Holy Spirit, the Disciples now Apostles, quickly began to preach the Gospel; the glorious news of Jesus Christ and how he died to save man from sin.

Equally quickly, they were faced with the many souls that God was adding to His church. Think of it, here were preachers, newly out on their own, faced with hundreds, if not thousands of new believers –every day! Now, freshly minted, and out on their own, they were preaching, mentoring, pastoring, teaching and discipling –all the duties that are required for taking care of the new souls in the faith, and they were doing it with raw numbers we can hardly imagine.  And think of this, these newly appointed apostles were also facing with terrible persecutions. To consider even the physical logistics of shepherding all those hurting, displaced people; many of which were actually refugees is mind-blowing. So from this aspect, as well as the press of their evangelistic labors, we can understand full well why they had no time to write down their stories of those moments which they had had with Christ, or about their reminiscences of their communing with Him. Further, they also labored under one terrible misapprehension or misunderstanding. They believed that Jesus was coming speedily to earth again, to set up his eternal throne.

This mistake on the part of these new apostles, may be responsible for the lateness of the written Gospels; for they were written many years after Christ had ascended into heaven. And since it seems that many Christians believed, Apostles included, that Christ would speedily come again, they therefore, had little enough time to preach as it was, especially since their mission was to go out and make disciples of the entire world.

But this mindset, which we might deplore today, was perhaps also responsible for the magnificent courage with which those men, “that little band of humble, simple provincials,” exhibited as they created the Christian religion in the shadow of the cross. And also consider the Gospels, those beautiful Gospels we now have… well, when they were finally written, the writers who wrote them, under the aid of the Holy Spirit, were also able to use them to help to address the specific needs of the church which had arisen in the intervening years.

Undoubtedly, those brave men who were charged with leading this church, knew no fear. Nothing that the world could do frightened their souls. Everything appeared paltry, the world and its pleasures grow very dim in the light of the Cross, and their minds were set on nothing except Christ.

The activity of commerce, the enthusiasm of art, the gossip and tattle of the streets “these things were as dust to them. They had seen and spoken with a man risen from the dead. A risen spirit had assured them that prophecy was at last fulfilled. The end of the world had come upon them. Christ was risen from the dead. The King had come. Soon, very soon, the power of God would be made manifest to all nations, and to all peoples, throughout the whole world.

So our first view of Christianity is the spectacle of these earnest and loving disciples preaching Christ’s Gospel with the assurance that the end of the world had come.

THE OFFENCE OF THE CROSS

Taken and adapted from, ATONEMENT, THE FUNDAMENTAL FACT OF CHRISTIANITY
Written by Newman Hall, LL.B.; D.D.
Edited for thought and sense.

Nails by Matt Reier, (c) IRI.
‘Jesus Christ and Him crucified,’ was the theme of the first Missionary of the Gospel to Europe.

The world was in a state of moral stagnation. Judaism, divinely ordained, having fulfilled its purpose, had become shell without kernel, body without life. Philosophy might be beautiful, but was powerless to purify. St. Paul, coming over from Asia to preach to Europe, proclaimed salvation for a ruined world through a Man who had been crucified as a malefactor, but whom the missionary affirmed to be the Son of God and the only Saviour. He asserted, not simply that this Benefactor had suffered martyrdom, but that this martyrdom was the grand object for which He lived, by which alone salvation was secured, without which mental culture, philosophy, ethics, cult, or creed could not avail to save mankind from sin, and give assurance of the favour of God and eternal life.

Jews, who were dwelling in every city, and to whom the missionary, as a Jew, made his first appeal, were offended by being told to recognize their promised Messiah in a poor mechanic, trained at no college, invested with no dignity, His chief followers poor fishermen, and Himself put to the most shameful death as a felon. That by Him alone, and not by their own Law of Moses, they could be saved, was to them a ‘stumbling-block.’

The Jews ‘required a sign’; a miracle so stupendous as to forbid all doubt. Their old religion had been thus certified. Christ performed many quiet miracles of benevolence on earth, but they demanded a ‘sign from heaven.’ When He fed the multitudes and raised Lazarus they thought that as a Leader He might supply His armies with food, heal the wounded, and restore the slain.

Then they wanted to make Him their king. But when He meekly submitted to be bound and condemned, they were disappointed, and in their provocation shouted, ‘Crucify Him!’ They wanted a carnal Christ, a worldly king: and so the cross became a symbol of delusion, disgrace, defeat, ‘a stumbling-block.’

Not less did it appear ‘to the Greek foolishness.’ They despised the Jews as a petty, bigoted, exclusive, troublesome tribe of barbarians, in a narrow strip of country, lost to view in the great Empire that ruled them. That a peasant member of this despised race was to be accepted by them as superior to their own Plato or Socrates, be honoured as Ruler as well as Teacher, be trusted as sole Saviour of men, and worshipped as the one and only true incarnation of the Deity –this, to the Greek, was the extravagance of ‘foolishness.’

Earliest records tell us that the people generally accounted those to be ‘fools who gave rank to One crucified.’ They said that ‘they who worshipped a crucified man deserved to hang on the cross they adore.’ In Rome is a fragment of plaster from the ruins of the barracks of the Praetorian guard which bears traces of a rough caricature, as if scratched by the point of a sword. On a cross is suspended the figure of a man with the head of an ass, before which a soldier is on his knees; and below is the inscription, ‘Aleximenos worships his god.’

The Apostolic Missionary was sober in his enthusiasm, and did not needlessly provoke opposition. ‘I am become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some’ (1 Cor. 9: 20-22). Unless essential to his mission, he would not emphasize what was likely to hinder it, and close the ears of those he came to teach. Did he therefore keep the fact of the Atoning Sacrifice in the background, or reserve it for future unfolding? On the contrary, he made it prominent, and at once.

It was his dominant theme, the message he felt directed by God to convey. Men might deride, oppose, persecute, but all the more boldly he proclaimed it, emblazoned it on his standard, gave it trumpet-voice, declaring to the cultured Corinthians ‘I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified’ (1 Cor. 2:2). This was his boast, not his shame. ‘Far be it from me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ ‘ (Gal.6:14). The Jews might demand celestial signs, and the Greeks worldly wisdom, but he was determined to ‘preach Christ crucified,’ Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God’ (1 Cor. 1: 22-25).

History, lauding its heroes of freedom, science, and religion, has taught us to honour rather than be ashamed of those who have endured suffering and scorn for the sake of principle. But that God, incarnated, should stoop so low; that nothing less than the cross should suffice for man’s salvation; that all classes should be placed on a common level, needing the same Atonement, by which the most degraded criminal will be accepted, side by side with the seemingly blameless religionist, on repentance and faith; and that whatever we do that is commendable is accepted on the basis of what Christ did and suffered –this is too humbling for human pride.

As breakers of law we are disposed to under-rate the claims of law. Sinners naturally make light of sin, framing excuses for it, sometimes defending it, lessening the peril of it, or altogether denying both its guilt and penalty. ‘The unsearchable riches of Christ,’ revealed in His sufferings on our behalf, imply a destitution on our part greater than we are willing to acknowledge. Are our stains of so deep a dye that ‘the blood of Jesus Christ’ is needed to cleanse us? Is our distance from God so great that we can only ‘be made nigh in the blood of Christ?’ Offence is thus taken at the doctrine of Atonement, which is either denied, or explained as one among other moral influences by which man’s sinfulness may be overcome, and he be reconciled to God by amendment of life. Thus salvation is regarded as self-reformation, and not as forgiveness through faith in Him who died for our sins.

Just a Bit O’ History… Psalm 67: A Prayer for Blessing and Thanksgiving

Psalm 67

prayerThksgThis psalm has been called by the ancient expositors ‘the Lord’s Prayer of the Old Testament.’

It has, like that of the New, seven divisions. The first three verses and last three are linked by a longer one in the middle, and the third and fifth are in the same words. It is by special distinction the missionary psalm.

In the year 1644, the Corporation (or City) of London invited the two Houses of Parliament to a grand banquet, in proof of the union of their cause, and in celebration of their victory. The Westminster Assembly of Divines and the Scottish Commissioners were also invited, and the festival was after the manner of that of Solomon at the dedication of the temple.

Stephen Marshall, a noted preacher of the day, selected for his text the appropriate words, 1 Chron. 12:38-40; and the spiritual provision seems to have reached a lavish expenditure not thought of in public feasts in our days.

Baillie gives a full description of the rejoicings, and tells how the feast ended with the singing of the 67th Psalm, Dr. Burgess reading the line, that all might take part, ‘a religious precedent,’ says a chronicler of the time, ‘worthy to be imitated by all godly Christians in both their public and private meetings.’

 

Psalm 67

1599 Geneva Bible

To him that excelleth on Neginoth. A Psalm or song.

God be merciful unto us, and bless us, and cause his face to shine among us. Selah
That they may know thy way upon earth, and thy saving health among all nations.
Let the people praise thee, O God: let all the people praise thee.
Let the people be glad and rejoice: for thou shalt judge the people righteously,
and govern the nations upon the earth.
Selah.

Let the people praise thee, O God: let all the people praise thee.
Then shall the earth bring forth her increase, and God, even our God shall bless us.
God shall bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear him.

——————————————-
Written by John Ker, D. D.
Taken from, “The Psalms in History and Biography”
Edited for thought and sense.

The Necessity of the Atonement

Taken and Adapted from “God’s Way of Peace.”
Written by Horatius Bonar
Edited for thought and sense.

lamb-of-god[We live in a day where the death of Christ is being trivialized. What need was there for it? Why would an Almighty God be so barbaric as to require this death, and not just any death, but the death of the God-man, Jesus Christ, and what did it really accomplish in the salvation of humanity? It seems that every assault upon the Christian faith these days involves an attack upon what is now commonly described as the “Substitution theory.” And while many of the other so-called modern theories seem new and “proper,” they really antiquated or at least greatly modified from original form in most theological circles. Unfortunately, their echoes remain in popular religious thought, and further, they trouble many minds which have not learned to distinguish between the Christian fact and the theological theory with which the respective characteristics of the substitutionary and non-substitutionary theories are framed. The historic concepts of the Sacrificial Atonement are usually viewed within the framework of the Penal, Substitutionary aspects, and are thereby contrasted with the Merely Moral or Exemplary Theories of Propitiation; the same of which as is often set forth in Modern thought….  However, in this post, I wish to get back to the simple basics of what Jesus accomplished for man on the cross. And I am very unapologetic that I hold to the historic and orthodox Christian view of the necessity of the shedding of blood chosen by the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world. –M.W.P]

“What is the special meaning of the blood, of which we read so much? How does it speak peace? How does it ‘purge the conscience from dead works?’ (Heb. 9:14) “What can blood have to do with the peace, the grace, and the righteousness of which we have been speaking?”

God has given the reason for the stress which he lays upon the blood; and, in understanding this, we get to the very bottom of the grounds of a sinner’s peace.

The sacrifices of old, from the days of Abel downward, furnishes us with the key to the meaning of the blood…

…and explain the necessity for its being “shed for the remission of sins.” “Not without blood” (Heb. 9:7) was the great truth taught by God from the beginning; the inscription which may be said to have been written on the gates of tabernacle and temple. For more than two thousand years, during the ages of the patriarchs, there was but one great sacrifice, – THE BURNT OFFERING. This, under the Mosaic service, was split into parts, – the peace-offering, trespass offering, sin offering, etc. In all of these, however, the essence of the original burnt offering was preserved, – by the blood and the fire, which were common to them all.

The blood, as the emblem of substitution, and the fire, as the symbol of God’s wrath upon the substitute, were seen in all the parts of Israel’s service; but especially in the daily burnt offering, the morning and evening lamb, which was the true continuation and representative of the old patriarchal burnt offering. It was to this that John referred when he said “Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Israel’s daily lamb was the kernel and core of all the Old Testament sacrifices; and it was its blood that carried them back to the primitive sacrifices, and forward to the blood of sprinkling that was to speak better things than that of Abel (Heb. 12:26).

In all these sacrifices the shedding of the blood was the infliction of death. The “blood was the life” (Lev. 17: 11, 14; Deut. 12:23); and the pouring out of the blood was the “pouring out of the soul” (Isa. 53:12). This blood shedding or life-taking was the payment of the penalty for sin; for it was threatened from the beginning, “In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:17); and it is written, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezek. 18:3); and again, “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 7:23).

But the blood shedding of Israel’s sacrifices could not take sin away. It showed the way in which this was to be done, but it was in fact more a “remembrance of sins” (Heb. 10:3), than an expiation (Heb. 10:11). It said life must be given for life, ere sin can be pardoned; but then the continual repetition of the sacrifices showed that there was needed richer blood than Moriah’s altar was ever sprinkled with, and a more precious life than man could give.

The great blood-shedding has been accomplished; the better life has been presented; and the one death of the Son of God has done what all the deaths of old could never do. His one life was enough; his one dying paid the penalty; and God does not ask two lives, or two deaths, or two payments. “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many” (Heb. 9:28). In that he died, he died unto sin once” (Rom. 6:10). “He offered one sacrifice for sins forever” (Heb. 10:12).

The “sprinkling of the blood” (Ex. 24:8), was the making use of the death, by putting it upon certain persons or things, so that these persons or things were counted to be dead, and, therefore, to have paid the law’s penalty. So long as they had not paid that penalty, they were counted unclean and unfit for God to look upon; but as soon as they had paid it, they were counted clean and fit for the service of God. Usually when we read of cleansing, we think merely of our common process of removing stains by water and soap. But this is not the figure meant in the application of the sacrifice. The blood cleanses, not like the prophet’s “nitre and much soap” (Jer. 2:22), but by making us partakers of the death of the Substitute. For what is it that makes us filthy before God? It is our guilt, our breach of law, and our being under sentence of death in consequence of our disobedience. We have not only done what God dislikes, but what his righteous law declares to be worthy of death. It is this sentence of death that separates us so completely from God, making it wrong for him to bless us, and perilous for us to go to him.

When thus covered all over with that guilt whose penalty is death, the blood is brought in by the great High Priest. That blood represents death; it is God’s expression for death. It is then sprinkled on us, and thus death, which is the law’s penalty, passes on us. We die. We undergo the sentence; and thus the guilt passes away. We are cleansed! The sin which was like scarlet becomes as snow; and that which was like crimson becomes as wool. It is thus that we make use of the blood of Christ in believing; for faith is just the sinner’s employing the blood. Believing what God has testified concerning this blood, we become one with Jesus in his death; and thus we are counted in law, and treated by God, as men who have paid the whole penalty, and so been “washed from their sins in his blood.”*

Such are the glad tidings of life, through him who died. They are tidings which tell us, not what we are to do, in order to be saved, but what He has done. This only can lay to rest the sinner’s fears; can “purge his conscience;” can make him feel as a thoroughly pardoned man. The right knowledge of God’s meaning in this sprinkling of the blood, is the only effectual way of removing the anxieties of the troubled soul, and introducing him into perfect peace.

The gospel is not the mere revelation of the heart of God in Christ Jesus.

In it the righteousness of God is specially manifested (Rom 1:17); and it is this revelation of the righteousness that makes it so truly “the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16). The blood shedding is God’s declaration of the righteousness of the love which he is pouring down upon the sons of men; it is the reconciliation of law and love; the condemnation of the sin and the acquittal of the sinner. As “without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Heb. 9:22); so the gospel announces that the blood has been shed by which remission flows; and now we know that “the Son of God is come” (I John 5:20), and that “the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin” (I John 1:7). The conscience is satisfied. It feels that God’s grace is righteous grace, that his love is holy love. There it rests.

It is not by incarnation but by blood shedding that we are saved. The Christ of God is no mere expounder of wisdom; no mere deliverer or gracious benefactor; and they who think they have told the whole gospel, when they have spoken of Jesus revealing the love of God, do greatly err. If Christ be not the Substitute, he is nothing to the sinner. If he did not die as the Sinbearer, he has died in vain. Let us not be deceived on this point, nor misled by those who, when they announce Christ as the Deliverer, think they have preached the gospel. If I throw a rope to a drowning man, I am a deliverer. But is Christ no more than that? If I cast myself into the sea, and risk my life to save another, I am a deliverer. But is Christ no more? Did he but risk his life? The very essence of Christ’s deliverance is the substitution of Himself for us, his life for ours. He did not come to risk his life; he came to die! He did not redeem us by a little loss, a little sacrifice, a little labor, a little suffering, “He redeemed us to God by his blood” (Rev. 5:9); “the precious blood of Christ” (I Pet. 1:18). He gave all he had, even his life, for us. This is the kind of deliverance that awakens the happy song, “To him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.”

The tendency of the world’s religion just now is, to reject the blood; and to glory in a gospel which needs no sacrifice, no “Lamb slain.” Thus, they go “in the way of Cain” (Jude 11). Cain refused the blood, and came to God without it. He would not own himself a sinner, condemned to die, and needing the death of another to save him. This was man’s open rejection of God’s own way of life. Foremost in this rejection of, what is profanely called by some scoffers, “the religion of the shambles,” we see the first murderer; and he who would not defile his altar with the blood of a lamb, pollutes the earth with his brother’s blood.

The heathen altars have been red with blood; and to this day they are the same. But these worshippers know not what they mean, in bringing that blood. It is associated only with vengeance in their minds; and they shed it, to appease the vengeance of their gods. But this is no recognition either of the love or the righteousness of God. “Fury is not in him;” whereas their altars speak only of fury. The blood which they bring is a denial both of righteousness and grace.

But look at Israel’s altars. There is blood; and they who bring it know the God to whom they come. They bring it in acknowledgment of their own guilt, but also of his pardoning love. They say, “I deserve death;” but let this death stand for mine; and let the love which otherwise could not reach me, by reason of guilt, now pour itself out on me.”

Inquiring soul!  Beware of Cain’s error on the one hand, in coming to God without blood…

…and beware of the heathen error on the other, in mistaking the meaning of the blood. Understand God’s mind and meaning, in “the precious blood” of his Son. Believe his testimony concerning it; so shall thy conscience be pacified, and thy soul find rest.

It is into Christ’s death, that we are baptized (Rom. 6:3), and hence the cross, which was the instrument of that death, is that in which we “glory” (Gal. 6:4). The cross is to us the payment of the sinner’s penalty, the extinction of the debt, and the tearing up of the bond or handwriting which was against us. And as the cross is the payment, so the resurrection is God’s receipt in full, for the whole sum, signed with his own hand. Our faith is not the completion of the payment, but the simple recognition on our part of the payment made by the Son of God. By this recognition, we become so one with Him who died and rose, that we are henceforth reckoned to be the parties who have paid he penalty, and treated as if it were we ourselves who had died.

Thus are we “justified from the sin,” and then made partakers of the righteousness of him, who was not only delivered for our offences, but who rose again for our justification.

Are You Wheat? Or, Are You Chaff?

Written by J. C. Ryle.
Adapted from, Two Classes

Edited for thought, sense and space.

h_careers.

.“His fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

–Matt. 3:12

.

WHICH CLASS?

A SIMPLE question…

The question is a very serious one.  It is drawn from a verse of Scripture which I now place before your eyes: “His fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matt. 3:12).  The words of that verse were spoken by John the Baptist, the Prophet of the Highest.  They are a prophecy about our Lord Jesus Christ, and a prophecy which has not yet been fulfilled.  They are a prophecy which we shall all see fulfilled one day, and God alone knows how soon.

I invite everyone to consider the great truths which this verse contains. Listen, before you begin once more your appointed path of duty.  Listen, before you start once more on some round of business.  Listen, before you plunge once more into some course of useless idleness and folly.  Listen to one who loves your soul, and would desire to help to save it, or draw it nearer to Christ.  Who knows what a day may bring forth? Who can tell whether you will live to see to-morrow?

Let us look at the two great classes into which this world may be divided.

There are only two classes of people in the world in the sight of God, and both are mentioned in the text which I have already quoted in this paper. There are those who are called the wheat, and there are those who are called the chaff.

Viewed with the eye of man, the earth contains many different sorts of inhabitants.  Viewed with the eye of God, it only contains two.  Man’s eye looks at the outward appearance:—this is all he thinks of.  The eye of God looks at the heart:—this is the only part of which He takes any account.  And tried by the state of their hearts, there are but two classes into which people can be divided:—either they are wheat, or they are chaff.

Who are the wheat in the world? 

The wheat means all men and women who are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ,—all who are led by the Holy Spirit,—all who have felt themselves sinners, and fled for refuge to the salvation offered in the Gospel, —all who love the Lord Jesus and live to the Lord Jesus, and serve the Lord Jesus,—all who have taken Christ for their only confidence, and the Bible for their only guide, and regard sin as their deadliest enemy and look to heaven as their only home.  All such, of every Church, name, nation, people, and tongue,—of every rank, station, condition, and degree,—all such are God’s wheat.

Show me people of this kind anywhere, and I know what they are.  I know not that they and I may agree in all particulars, but I see in them the handiwork of the King of kings, and I ask no more.  I know not whence they came, and where they found their religion; but I know where they are going, and that is enough for me. They are the children of my Father in heaven.  They are part of His wheat.

All such, though sinful and vile, and unworthy in their own eyes, are the precious part of mankind.  They are the sons and daughters of God the Father.  They are the delight of God the Son.  They are the habitation of God the Spirit.  The Father beholds no iniquity in them:—they are the members of His dear Son’s body: in Him He sees them, and is well pleased.  The Lord Jesus discerns in them the fruit of His own travail and work upon the cross, and is well satisfied.  The Holy Ghost regards them as spiritual temples which He Himself has reared, and rejoices over them.  In a word, they are the wheat of the earth.

Who are the chaff in the world? 

The chaff means all men and women who have no saving faith in Christ, and no sanctification of the Spirit, whosoever they may be.  Some of them perhaps are infidels, and some are formal Christians.  Some are sneering Sadducees, and some self-righteous Pharisees.  Some of them make a point of keeping up a kind of Sunday religion, and others are utterly careless of everything except their own pleasure and the world.  But all alike, who have the two great marks already mentioned—no faith and no sanctification,—all such are chaff.  From Paine and Voltaire to the dead Churchman who can think of nothing but outward ceremonies,—from Julian and Porphyry to the unconverted admirer of sermons in the present day,—all, all are standing in one rank before God: all, all are chaff

They bring no glory to God the Father.  They honour not the Son, and so do not honour the Father that sent Him.  They neglect that mighty salvation which countless millions of angels admire.  They disobey that Word which was graciously written for their learning.  They listen not to the voice of Him who condescended to leave heaven and die for their sins.  They pay no tribute of service and affection to Him who gave them life, and breath, and all things.  And therefore God takes no pleasure in them.  He pities them, but He reckons them no better than chaff.

Yes! you may have rare intellectual gifts, and high mental attainments: you may sway kingdoms by your counsel, move millions by your pen, or keep crowds in breathless attention by your tongue; but if you have never submitted yourselves to the yoke of Christ, and never honoured His Gospel by heartfelt reception of it, you are nothing in His sight.  Natural gifts without grace are like a row of cyphers without a unit before them: they look big, but they are of no value.  The meanest insect that crawls is a nobler being than you are: it fills its place in creation, and glorifies its Maker with all its power, and you do not.  You do not honour God with heart, and will, and intellect, and members, which are all His  You invert His order and arrangement, and live as if time was of more importance than eternity, and body better than soul.  You dare to neglect God’s greatest gift,—His own incarnate Son.  You are cold about that subject which fills all heaven with hallelujahs.  And so long as this is the case, you belong to the worthless part of mankind.  You are the chaff of the earth.

Let this thought be graven deeply in your mind, whatever else you forget.  Remember there are only two sorts of people in the world.  There are wheat, and there are chaff.

I know well the world dislikes this way of dividing professing Christians.  The world tries hard to fancy there are three sorts of people, and not two.  To be very good and very strict does not suit the world:—they cannot, will not be saints.  To have no religion at all does not suit the world:—it would not be respectable;—”Thank God,” they will say, “we are not so bad as that.”  But to have religion enough to be saved, and yet not go into extremes,—to be sufficiently good, and yet not be peculiar,—to have a quiet, easy-going, moderate kind of Christianity, and go comfortably to heaven after all,— this is the world’s favourite idea.  There is a third class,—a safe middle class,—and in this middle class the majority of men persuade themselves, they will be found.

There were two classes in the day of Noah’s flood, those who were inside the ark, and those who were without;—two in the parable of the Gospel net, those who are called the good fish, and those who are called the bad; —two in the parable of the ten virgins, those who are described as wise, and those who are described as foolish;—two in the account of the judgment day, the sheep and the goats;—two sides of the throne, the right hand and the left;—two abodes when the last sentence has been passed, heaven and hell.

You attend church, perhaps.  You like good people.  You can distinguish between good preaching and bad. You think Protestantism true, and support it cordially.  You subscribe to religious societies.  You attend religious meetings.  You sometimes read religious books.  It is well: it is very well.  It is good: it is all very good.  It is more than can be said of many.  But still this is not a straightforward answer to my question,—Are you wheat or are you chaff?

Have you been born again?  Are you a new creature? Have you put off the old man, and put on the new?  Have you ever felt your sins, and repented of them?  Are you looking simply to Christ for pardon and life eternal?  Do you love Christ?  Do you serve Christ? Do you loathe heart-sins, and fight against them?  Do you long for perfect holiness, and follow hard after it?  Have you come out from the world?  Do you delight in the Bible?  Do you wrestle in prayer?  Do you love Christ’s people?  Do you try to do good to the world?  Are you vile in your own eyes, and willing to take the lowest place?  Are you a Christian in business, tastes, tempers, and daily private habits,—on week-days, and by your own fireside? 

Oh, think, think, think on these things, and then perhaps you will be better able to tell the state of your soul.

The Chaplain and the Cook

[For those who know me know that I love a good story, especially a story that teaches a precious spiritual truth, or is about the life of a Christian whose example testifies of Christ, his Master. This is an ancient story of a simple cook, who loved God and in his simple way, was ready to testify of that faith once given to the saints. I had originally decided not to publish this account because, I felt that there was not enough “spiritual meat on the bone.” However, over the course of the last six months, I have used the verse highlighted in this old tale on several occasions, as well as the thoughts behind it. So, read and enjoy. –M.W.P.]

King__Queen.The witty Earl of Rochester being once in company with the king, Charles II…

…his queen, chaplain, and some ministers of state, when the king suddenly exclaimed, “Let our minds be unbended from the cares of state, and give us a generous glass of wine, that cheereth, as the Scripture saith, both God and man.”

The queen intimated that she did not think the Bible contained any such declaration. The chaplain, being appealed to, agreed with her majesty. Rochester, deeming the king to be right, went to the kitchen to inquire among the servants if any of them were conversant with the Bible, and knew in which part of it the passage might be found.

Finding that the Scotch, Protestant cook was acquainted with the locality and meaning of the disputed verse, Rochester ordered him to be in waiting,and returned to the king. The “wine question” was still under discussion, and Rochester moved that David the cook should be called in. This was done, and the passage produced, and read aloud from Judges 9:13. The king smiled, the queen asked pardon, and the poor chaplain blushed. Rochester, now asked the parson to explain the text. “The poor craven chaplain said never a word.” The earl therefore applied to David for an exposition.

The honest cook immediately replied, “How much wine cheereth man your lordship knows; and that it cheereth God, I beg leave to say that, under the Old Testament dispensation, there were meat-offerings and drink-offerings. The latter consisted of wine, which by a metaphor is said to cheer God, as He was well pleased in the salvation He had appointed; whereby His justice was satisfied, His law fulfilled, His mercy reigned. His love triumphed, and the sinner was saved.”

The king was agreeably surprised at his evangelical exposition; and Rochester recommended that the parson should be made cook, and the cook made parson!