The Nature and Calling of Free Grace

Written by J.C. Philpot

I admire and love the grace of God; and the longer I live, the more do I love and admire it.

My sins, my corruptions, my infirmities make me feel my deep and daily need of it; and as its freeness, fulness, suitability and inexpressible blessedness are more and more opened up to my heart and conscience, so do I more and more cleave to and delight in it. What, in fact, is there which you can substitute for it?

I assume that you have some concern about religion; that the solemn realities of eternity press with more or less weight on your conscience, and that you are awakened to see the evil of sin and your own evil case as sinners. I speak not to stocks and stones; I speak to you who desire to fear God and to have your hearts right before Him. If you have no concern about the salvation of your soul, you will love many things far beyond free grace. Money, dress, amusements, the pleasures that present themselves on every side, though hollow as the tomb and vain as a drunkard’s mirth, will so charm your mind and occupy your thoughts that Christ and His gospel will have no place in your conscience. But if you have any anxiety about your eternal condition, and are brought to cry, “What shall I do to be saved?” then I ask you, what can you put in the place of free grace? Surely, you cannot be so foolish as to put your own works in its stead. Surely, you cannot be so ignorant of your ruined condition before God, and of what is revealed in the Scriptures of the way of salvation by the atoning blood of Jesus, as to substitute the words and works of man for the words and works of the God-Man?

You may doubt your own interest in His atoning blood; but you do not doubt that salvation is all of grace, and that if saved your soul can be saved by grace alone.

And why not YOU be saved? What countless trophies has grace already at the Redeemer’s feet! What hosts of ruined wretches, of souls sunk beyond all other help or hope, has free grace sought out, rescued from their destructions, plucked from the jaws of hell, and ransomed from the hand of him that was stronger than they, so that they have come and sung in the height of Zion, and flowed together to the goodness of the Lord!

Look at Paul. Where can we find among the sons of men a parallel to the great Apostle of the Gentiles? What a large capacity! What a powerful intellect he naturally possessed, but how subdued and subjugated it became by grace, and how devoted to the glory of God and the advancement of His Dear Son! How grace arrested him at Damascus’ gate, cast him down body and soul at the Redeemer’s feet, translated him from the power of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son, and changed a bloodthirsty persecutor of the church of Christ into a minister and an apostle, the greatest ever seen. As such, what a deep humility, thorough disinterestedness, noble simplicity, godly zeal, unwearied labors distinguished him from first to last-a course of more than thirty years.

How in his inspired writings he pours, as it were, from his pen the richest streams of heavenly truth! With what clearness, power, and savor he describes and enforces the way of salvation through the blood shedding and obedience of the Son of God, the blessings of free grace, the glorious privileges of the saints, and the things that make for their happiness and holiness! How in every epistle it seems as if his pen could hardly drop a line without in some way setting forth the infinite grace, the boundless mercy, and unfathomable love of God, as displayed in the gift of His dear Son, and the blessings that flow to the church through His blood and love.

But look not at Paul only. View the jewels on every side that grace has set in the Redeemer’s crown out of the most depraved and abject materials! Who, for instance, were those Ephesians to whom Paul wrote that wonderful epistle? The most foolish and besotted of idolaters, so infatuated with their image which fell down from Jupiter-most probably some huge meteoric stone, that had fallen from the sky-that they spent two hours until they wearied out their throats with crying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians; ! men debased with every lust, ripe and ready for every crime. How rich, how marvelous the grace that changed worshippers of Diana into worshippers of Jehovah, brutal howlers into singers who made melody in their heart to the Lord (Eph. 5:19), and magicians, full of curious arts and Satanic witchcraft, into saints built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets!

Now cannot the same grace, that did so much for them, do the same or similar things for us?

Is the nature of man now less vile, or is the grace of Christ now less full and free? Has the lapse of 1800 years raised man out of the depths of the Fall, eradicated sin from his constitution, cleansed the foul leprosy of his nature, and purified it into holiness? Let the thin sheet of decent morality and civilization be taken off the corpse, and here it lies in all its hideous ghastliness.

Human nature is still what it ever was dead in trespasses and sins. Or has time, which changes so many things on earth, changed things in heaven? Is not God the same gracious Father, Jesus the same compassionate Savior, the Holy Spirit the same heavenly Teacher? Is not the gospel the same glad tidings of salvation, and the power of the gospel the same to everyone that believeth? Then why should not we be blessed with the same spiritual blessings as the saints at Ephesus? Why may not the same Jesus be to us what He was to them, the same Spirit to do for us and in us what He did for and in them, and the same grace save and sanctify us which saved and sanctified them? Here and here alone is our strength, our help, our hope, our all.

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Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage:  Joseph Charles Philpot (1802 – 1869) was known as “The Seceder”. He resigned from the Church of England in 1835 and became a Strict & Particular Baptist. While with the Church of England he was a Fellow of Worchester College, Oxford. After becoming a Strict and Particular Baptist he became the Editor of the Gospel Standard magazine and served in that capacity for twenty years.

Educated at Oxford University, he was elected a fellow of Worcester College, and appeared to have a brilliant scholastic career before him. But he was brought into solemn concern spiritually and the Lord led him into the ministry. He first preached in the Established Church at Stadhampton (Oxfordshire). In 1835, however, he was constrained, for the truth’s sake, to sever his connection with the Church of England and to resign his curacy and his fellowship. The letter to the provost stating his reasons was published and went into several editions.

The same year, he was baptized by John Warburton at Allington (Wilts). The rest of his life was spent ministering among the Strict Baptists. For 26 years, he held a joint pastorate at Stamford (Lines) and Oakham (Rutland). In addition for over twenty years, he was editor of “The Gospel Standard”, where many of his sermons first appeared.

–Theopedia

A Simple Understanding of the Transcendence and Sovereignty of God from a Historical and Biblical Christian Context

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In the early part of the fifth century these two types of religious thought came into direct conflict in a remarkably clear contrast as embodied in two fifth-century theologians, Augustine and Pelagius.

Augustine pointed men to God as the source of all true spiritual wisdom and strength, while Pelagius instead threw men back on themselves and said that they would be able in their own strength to do all that God commanded, otherwise God would not command it. We believe that Arminianism represents something of a compromise between these two systems, including its more evangelical form, early Wesleyanism. And while Arminianism approaches the form of a religion of faith, it nevertheless does so while containing some serious elements of error.

We are living in a day in which practically all of the historic churches are being attacked from within by unbelief. Many of them have already succumbed. And almost invariably the line of descent has been from a historic, biblical Christianity to Arminianism, from Arminianism to Liberalism, and then to Unitarianism. And the history of Liberalism and Unitarianism shows that they deteriorate into a social gospel which is a system too weak to sustain itself. Therefore, we are convinced that the future of Christianity is bound up with that system of theology which goes back to its historic, and biblical roots.

Where God-centered principles of the Bible have been abandoned, there inevitably has been a strong tendency downward into the depths of man-centered naturalism or secularism. Some have declared (rightly, we believe) that there is no consistent stopping or halfway place between an orthodox Biblical Christianity and atheism.

The basic principle of Christianity is the sovereignty of God. This represents the purpose of the Triune God as absolute, unconditional, and independent of the whole finite creation, which originated solely in the eternal counsel of His will. Therefore, He appoints the course of nature and directs the course of history down to the minutest details. His decrees therefore are eternal, unchangeable, holy, wise and sovereign. They are represented in the Bible as being the evidence and basis of God’s divine foreknowledge of all future events, and that His will is not conditioned by that foreknowledge or by anything originating in the events themselves.

Every thinking person readily sees that some sovereignty rules his life. For instance, he was not asked whether or not he would have existence, or when or what or where he would be born, or whether it would be in the twentieth century or before the Flood, or even whether male or female, whether white or black, whether in the United States, or China, or Africa. All of those things were sovereignly decided for him before he had any existence. It has been recognized by Christians in all ages that God is the Creator and Ruler of the world, and that as such He is the ultimate source of all power that is found in the world. Hence nothing can come to pass apart from His sovereign will, otherwise He would not be truly GOD. And when we dwell on this truth we find that it involves considerations which establishes both the true orthodox, Biblical position,  and disproves the Arminian position.

By virtue of the fact that God has created everything that exists, He is the absolute Owner and final Disposer of all that He has made. He exerts not merely a general influence, but actually rules in the affairs of men (Acts 4:24-28). Even the nations are as the small dust of the balance when compared with His greatness (Isaiah 40:12-17).

Amid all the apparent defeats and inconsistencies of our human lives, God is actually controlling all things in undisturbed majesty. Even the sinful actions of men can occur only by His permission and with the strength that he gives the creature. And since He permits not unwillingly but willingly, then all that comes to pass – including even the sinful actions and ultimate destiny of men – must be, in some sense, in accordance with what He has eternally purposed and decreed. Just in proportion as this is denied, God is excluded from the government of the world, and we have only a finite God. Naturally, some problems arise which in our present state of knowledge we are not able fully to explain. But that is not a sufficient reason for rejecting what the Scriptures and the plain dictates of reason affirm to be true.

And shall we not believe that God can convert a sinner when He pleases? Cannot the Almighty, the omnipotent Ruler of heaven and earth, change the character of the creatures He has made? He changed the water into wine at Cana and converted Saul on the road to Damascus. The leper said, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean” (Mathew. 8:2). And at a word his leprosy was cleansed. Let us not believe, as do the Arminians, that God cannot control the human will, or that He cannot regenerate a soul when He pleases. He is as able to cleanse the soul as the body. If He chose He could raise up such a flood of Christian ministers, missionaries and workers of various kinds, and could so work through His Holy Spirit, that the entire world would be converted in a very short time. If He had purposed to save all men He could have sent hosts of angels to instruct them and to do supernatural works on the earth. He could have worked marvelously in the heart of every person so that no one would have been lost.

Since evil exists only by His permission, He could, if He chose, blot it out of existence. His power in this respect was shown, for instance, in the work of the destroying angel who in one night slew all of the first-born of the Egyptians (Exodus 12:29), and in another night slew 185,000 of the Assyrian army (II Kings 19:35). It was shown when the earth opened and swallowed Korah and his rebellious allies (Numbers 16.31-35). King Herod was smitten and died a horrible death (Acts 12:23). In Daniel 4:34-35 we read that the Most High God’s “dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom from generation to generation; and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; and he doeth according to his will in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and no one can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?”

All of this brings out the basic principle of the true, Biblical, Christian Faith – the sovereignty of God.

God created this world in which we find ourselves, He owns it, and He is running it according to His own sovereign good pleasure. God has lost none of His power, and it is highly dishonoring to Him to suppose that He is struggling along with the human race, doing the best He can to persuade men to do right, but unable to accomplish His eternal, unchangeable, holy, wise, and sovereign purpose.

Any religious system which teaches that the serious intentions of God can in some cases be defeated, and that man, who is not only a creature but a sinful creature, can exercise veto power over the plans of Almighty God, is in striking contrast to the biblical idea of his immeasurable exaltation by which He is removed from all weaknesses of humanity. That the plans of men are not always executed is due to a lack of power, or a lack of wisdom, or both.

But since God is unlimited in these and in all other resources, no unforeseen emergencies can arise. To Him the causes for change have no existence. To assume that His plan fails and that he strives to no effect is to reduce Him to the level of His creatures and make Him no God at all.

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Taken from, “The Reformed Faith,” condensed, edited and adapted with apologies for a younger, audience. 
“The Reformed Faith,”
was originally written by, Loraine Boettner in 1983.

History: When Augustine Reintroduced Christmas to England

 Taken from, “Christmas, its Origin and Associations”
Written by, W.F. Dawson.

leo crowns charlemagne

The outgoing of the Romans and the incoming of the Angles, the Saxons, and the Jutes disastrously affected the festival of Christmas…

…for the invaders were heathens, and Christianity was swept westward before them. They had lived in a part of the Continent which had not been reached by Christianity nor classic culture, and they worshipped the false gods of Woden and Thunder, and were addicted to various heathenish practices, some of which now mingled with the festivities of Christmastide.

Still, as these Angles came to stay and have given their name to our country, it may be well to note that they came over to Britain from the one country which is known to have borne the name of Angeln or the Engle-land, and which is now called Sleswick, a district in the middle of that peninsula which parts the Baltic from the North Sea or German Ocean. The Romans having become weakened through their conflicts with Germany and other nations, at the beginning of the fifth century, the Emperor Honorius recalled the Roman legions from Britain, and this made it much easier for the Angles and Saxons (who had previously tried to get in)”to come and remain in this country.

Thus our Teuton forefathers came and conquered much the greater part of Britain, the Picts and Scots remaining in the north and the Welsh in the west of the island. It was their custom to kill or make slaves of all the people they could, and so completely did they conquer that part of Britain in which they settled that they kept their own language and manners and their own heathenish religion,and destroyed or desecrated Christian churches which had been set up. Hence Christian missionaries were required to convert our ancestral worshippers of Woden and Thunder, and a difficult business it was to Christianise such pagans, for they stuck to their false gods with the same tenacity that the northern nations did.

In his poem ofKing Olaf’s Christmas” Longfellow refers to the worship of Thor and Odin alongside with the worship of Christ in the northern nations:”

“At Drontheim, Olaf the King
Heard the bells of Yule-tide ring,
As he sat in his banquet-hall.
Drinking the nut-brown ale,
With his bearded Berserks hale
And tall.
O’er his drinking horn, the sign
He made of the Cross divine
As he drank, and muttered his prayers ;
But the Berserks evermore
Made the sign of the Hammer of Thor
Over theirs.”

In England, too, Christ and Thor were worshipped side by side for at least 150 years after the introduction of Christianity, for while some of the English accepted Christ as their true friend and Saviour, He was not accepted by all the people. Indeed, the struggle against Him is still going on, but we anticipate the time when He shall be victorious all along the line.

The Christmas festival was duly observed by the missionaries who came to the South of England from Rome, headed by Augustine of Canterbury, (not Augustine of Hippo) and in the northern parts of the country the Christian festivities were revived by the Celtic missionaries from lona, under Aidan, the famous Colombian monk. At least half of England was covered by the Columbian monks, whose great foundation upon the rocky island of lona, in the Hebrides, was the source of Christianity to Scotland. The ritual of the Celtic differed from that of the Romish missionaries, and caused confusion, till at the Synod of Whitby (664) the Northumbrian Kingdom adopted the Roman usages, and England obtained ecclesiastical unity as a branch of the Church of Rome. Thus unity in the Church preceded bv several centuries unity in the State.

In connection with Augustine’s mission to England, a memorable story (recorded in Green’s “History of the English People”) tells how, when but a young Roman deacon, Gregory had noted the white bodies, the fair faces, the golden hair of some youths who stood bound in the market-place of Rome. “From what country do these slaves come?” he asked the traders who brought them. “They are English, Angles!” the slave-dealers answered. The deacon’s pity veiled itself in poetic humour. “Not Angles, but Angels,” he said, ”with faces so angel-like! From what countrv come they?” “They come,” said the merchants, “from Deira.” “De ira!” was the untranslatable reply; “aye, plucked from God’s wrath, and called to Christ’s mercy! And what is the name of their king?” “AElla,” they told him, and Gregory seized on the words as of good omen. “Alleluia shall be sung in AElla’s land!” he cried, and passed on, musing how the angel-faces should be brought to sing it.

Only three or four years had gone by when the deacon had become Bishop of Rome, and the marriage of Bertha, daughter of the Prankish king, Charibert of Paris, with AEthelberht, King of Kent, gave him the opening he sought; for Bertha, like her Prankish kinsfolk, was a Christian. And so, after negotiations with the rulers of Gaul, Gregory sent Augustine, at the head of a band of monks, to preach the gospel to the English people. The missionaries landed in 597, on the very spot where Hengest had landed more than a century before,in the Isle of Thanet; and the king received them sitting in the open air on the chalk-down above Minster, where the eye nowadays catches, miles away over the marshes, the dim tower of Canterbury.

Rowbotham, in his “History of Music,” says that wherever Gregory sent missionaries he also sent copies of the Gregorian song as he had arranged it in his “Antiphonary.” And he bade them go singing among the people. And Augustine entered Kent bearing a silver cross and a banner with the image of Christ painted on it, while a long train of choristers walked behind him chanting the Kyrie Elcison. In this way they came to the court of Aethelberht, who assigned them Canterbury as an abode; and they entered Canterbury with similar pomp, and as they passed through the gates they sang this petition: “Lord, we beseech Thee to keep Thy wrath away from this citv and from Thy holy Church, Alleluia!”

As papal Rome preserved many relics of heathen Rome, so, in like manner, Pope Gregory, in sending Augustine over to convert the Anglo-Saxons, directed him to accommodate the ceremonies of the Christian worship as much as possible to those of the heathen, that the people might not be much startled at the change; and, in particular,he advised him to allow converts to kill and eat at the Christmas festival a great number of oxen to the glory of God, as they had formerly done to the honor of the devil.

The clergy, therefore, endeavored to connect the remnants of Pagan idolatry with Christianity, and also allowed some of the practices of our British ancestors to mingle in the festivities of Christmastide. The religion of the Druids, the priests of the ancient Britons, is supposed to have been somewhat similar to that of the Brahmins of India, the Magi of Persia, and the Chaldeans of Syria. They worshipped in groves, regarded the oak and mistletoe as objects of veneration, and offered sacrifices. Before Christianity came to Britain December was called “Aerra Geola,” because the sun then ” turns his glorious course.” And under different names. such as Woden (another form of Odin), Thor, Thunder, Saturn, etc., the pagans held their festivals of rejoicing at the winter solstice; and so many of the ancient customs connected with these festivals were modified and made subservient to Christianity.

Some of the English even tried to serve Christ and the older gods together, like the Roman Emperor, Alexander Severus, “whose chapel contained Orpheus side by side with Abraham and Christ.” Roedwald of East Anglia resolved to serve Christ and the older gods together, and a pagan and a Christian altar fronted one another in the same royal temple.” Kent, however, seems to have been evangelised rapidly, for it is recorded that on Christmas Day, 597, no less than ten thousand persons were baptized.

Before his death Augustine was able to see almost the whole of Kent and Essex nominally Christian. Christmas was now celebrated as the principal festival of the year, for our Anglo-Saxon forefathers delighted in the festivities of the Halig-Monath (holy month), as they called the month of December, in allusion to Christmas Day. At the great festival of Christmas the meetings of the Witenagemot were held, as well as at Easter and Whitsuntide, wherever the Court happened to be. And at these times the Anglo-Saxon, and afterwards the Danish, Kings of England lived in state, wore their crowns, and were surrounded by all the great men of their kingdoms (together with strangers of rank) who were sumptuously entertained, and the most important affairs of state were brought under consideration. There was also an outflow of generous hospitality towards the poor, who had a hard time of it during the rest of the year, and who required the Christmas giftsto provide them with such creature comforts as would help them through the inclement season of the year.

Readers of Saxon history will remember that chieftains in the festive hall are alluded to in the comparison made by one of King Edwin’s chiefs, in discussing the welcome to he given to the Christian missionary Paulinus: “The present life of man, O King, seems to me, in comparison of that time which is unknown to us, like to the swift flight of a sparrow through the hall where you sit at your meal in winter, with your chiefs and attendants, warmed by a fire made in the middle of the hall, while storms of rain or snow prevail without.”

The “hall” was the principal part of a gentleman’s house in Saxon times “the place of entertainment and hospitality” and at Christmastide the doors were never shut against any who appeared to be worthy of welcome. And with such modes of travelling as were in vogue in those days one can readily understand that, not only at Christmas, but also at other seasons, the rule of hospitality to strangers was a necessity.

True Christianity Before the Reformation???

obj19386geo18359pg18p295It is an error to believe that Christianity did not exist before the Reformation save under the Roman Catholic form.


Anselm of Canterbury laid down as the very essence of Christianity the doctrines of the Incarnation and Atonement
; and in a work in which he teaches us how to die. He says to the departing soul, “Look only to the merits of Jesus Christ.”

St. Bernard proclaimed with a powerful voice the mysteries of Redemption. “If my sin cometh from another,” says he, “why should not my righteousness be granted me in the same way!”

Reflect about all the thousands of souls obscure and unknown to the world who have nevertheless been partakers of the real life of Christ.


A monk named Arnoldi every day offered up this fervent prayer in his quiet cell,
O Lord Jesus Christ! I believe that Thou alone art my redemption and my righteousness.”

Christopher of Utenheim, a pious bishop of Basle, had his name inscribed on a picture painted on glass, which is still in that city, and surrounded it with this motto, which he desired to have continually before his eyes, “My hope is in the cross of Christ; I seek grace and not works”

A poor Carthusian friar named Martin wrote a touching confession, in which he says, “O most merciful God! I know that I cannot be saved and satisfy Thy righteousness than by the merits, of the most innocent passion, and by the death of thy dearly beloved Son. Holy Jesus I all my salvation is in Thy hands.” Then the good Carthusian placed his confession in a wooden box, and enclosed it in a hole he made in the walls of his cell.

The piety of Brother Martin would never have been known if the box had not been discovered in 1776 as some workmen were pulling down an old building that had formed part of the Carthusian convent at Basle. D’ Aubigne

IS ORGANIZED CHRISTIANITY OF GOD?

christianity-under-attackUpon reflection, the title should be considered somewhat assuming…

…because if organized Christianity be not of God, then the obvious conclusion is that it must be of men. Usually, the object of such a paper as the one that I read, is to expose the defects and abuses of all existing organized Christian denominations, and then to endeavour to prove from these observations that all Church organizations are wrong. This case was no exception, the writing was a personal creedal statement, commenting on the writer’s views, desires, and endeavors of a class of Christian brethren, who assume for themselves the possession of superior piety,larger zeal, broader charity,and deeper acquaintance with Scripture, especially its prophetic portions, than that enjoyed by others. As such it requires a careful notice, and we will endeavour to examine it from the stand-points of Nature and Revelation.

 The question resolves itself into two: Is Christianity of God? ” And, is Organization of God?” For, if both be of God we may expect to find organization, one of God’s methods, in Christianity, one of God’s works. In reference to the former question, I think that most Christians are agreed. We all believe alike in the Divine origin of Christianity. That is why we are here. Only the second question, therefore, requires consideration ” Is organization of God?

And here replies come crowding in from all quarters of the universe of matter.

The fact is that the illustrative evidences are so numerous and diversified as to be appreciable only by their Divine Author Himself. Their cumulative force is incalculable. The study of them might well occupy a lifetime,- and then leave the subject unexhausted, as in the case of our own great philosopher,who felt that he had only picked up a few specimens on the shores of truth while the great ocean lay unexplored before him.

Organization is the arrangement of parts with a view to use or service…

…and wherever we look into the Divine operations we meet with examples of it. It is evidently a principle very precious to the Divine mind. It is impossible to refer to anything which God has ever said or done upon any other principle. Every word He has spoken was spoken at the right time and occupied the right place in the complete Revelation; and every creature which He has formed occupies its proper place in relation to every other creature and to the universe. Even the smallest atom is so arranged as to fulfil its service, by the laws of cohesion, to other atoms, and by the laws of gravitation, to the near and distant masses of the Creation.

The construction of the leaf is such that the arrangement of its parts serves the life, beauty, and fragrance of the whole, so that it forms a suitable home for the microscopic multitudes which dwell upon it. The organism of the minutest protoplasm is perfect; and everywhere, as we pass upward through the various walks of animal life, we see that “Circumstances are adapted to Being,” and “Being to Circumstances.”

Every observation of creative effect constrains us to say “this also comes forth from the Lord of Hosts, who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in working.” 

In the great realm of Providence though a much more difficult subject for research, we meet with innumerable illustrations of the same principle in the histories of individuals and of the race. Events are manifestly related to each other, and to the great plan of the invisible Designer; and all the minor circumstances from which they happen are necessarily,although less perceptibly, under the same law. Many events whose meaning long remained an unsearchable mystery have been explained by the great Interpreter, and now appear, like some apparent exceptional phenomena in nature, in their beneficent relation to the Divine purpose.

And now may we venture to draw aside the veil from the Holy of Holies? Or rather, may we venture to gaze upon the glories which our Saviour has revealed, and dare to gather principles from the facts which He has declared? Assuredly we may. And as we look into the heavenly world, we find all most distantly removed from anything like confusion or disorder. The “King of Kings” is “Lord of Hosts:” “He doeth according to His will in the armies of heaven.” In that “general assembly and Church of the firstborn,” “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all Churches of the saints.” “The angels that excel in strength do His commandments, hearkening unto the voice of His Word.” The archangel Michael has his office, and the angel Gabriel has his duty. There are “thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers.” And even the mystic symbols of the Apocalypse curiously illustrate the same great principle. The “living creatures” are four; “the elders,” twice twelve; the numbers of the sealed, twelve times twelve thousand; and each angel has his work assigned. And the most luminous description in the whole book, that of the glorified Church, Paradise regained, the bridal Jerusalem, is full of organization.

Even the heavenly Jerusalem, like the earthly, “is built as a city that is fitted together.” Most singular imagery is made use of, to represent its perfect relation of parts. “The city is shaped four-square, and the length is as large as the breadth. The length, and the breadth, and the height of it are equal.” Taken literally, this description of a city as a cube; but, even taken figuratively, according to the spirit and purpose of the whole book, it gives the idea of perfect symmetrical arrangement. It rests on twelve foundations; its walls which face the quarters of the heavens have each of them three gates; and each pearly gate is kept by a guardian angel. The street of the city, which is pure gold, as if it were transparent glass,” as it receives no alloy, reflects no disorder. Our Saviour has taught us to pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.” There is a world where organization does not prevail, but that is a world of woe, where the will of the Creator is constantly violated, where they are “hateful and hating one another.”

We contend that organization is a universal principle in the Divine operations: and that,as Christianity is of God, we shall infallibly meet with organization in Christianity. Further, Christianity displays more of the wisdom of God than any of God’s His other works.

It has more of God in it. Christianity has, that is, the Church has, God in it personally; not bodily, it is true, but spiritually; which is of infinitely greater importance. Christ is the head of the Church, which is His Body,” the fulness of Him that filleth all in all,” i.e., that without which He who filleth all in all, would not, in His mediatorial relation, be complete.

Unspeakably grand are the words of the Apostle; “He created all things by Jesus Christ, to the intent that now, unto the principalities and powers, in heavenly places, might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God.” We therefore feel confident, that, as organization is a universal principle with God, and as the Church is the chief work of His Divine Wisdom, we shall see the principle distinctly exhibited in it. 

For the Great Head of the Church has Himself given to His people, by Inspiration, a complete record that is historical, doctrinal, practical and ecclesiastical. The New Testament is the Divine Church-Manual; the perfect  book of ready reference for the Christian community. We therefore look to it, with the confident assurance that all shall find sufficient directions for church organization,nor are we disinterested. For, in addition to all the important scattered statements, from which we learn that our Saviour’s wisdom is not of this world,” and therefore not to be added to, supported by, or directed by, the earthly wisdom. We also find that the church consists of regenerated persons, banded together in fellowship by common consent, authorized in each case, to direct their own affairs,and elect their own officers –we have three epistles given le special purpose of guiding in choice of suitable men, and using them when chosen, in the discharge of their duty.

Unfortunately, by some of brethren the epistles to Timothy and that to Titus appear to have entirely forgotten. These important apostolical epistles are especially devoted to Church organization. These epistles indicate the two kinds of offices held in the Church, and presents the duties of one of them in the most detailed and elaborate manner, that the “man of God*’ might know how he ought to behave himself in the house of God, which is church of the living God.” Look deeply into these epistles, and you find, not only that there are offices in the Church, but also what are ” that of the Bishop and of the Deacon. These two are carefully presented, and no other is named. Now, with regard to office of Deacon, as stated in the sixth chapter of the Acts they to serve the secular of the Church. Only the office Bishop has to be considered, and the meaning is immediately clear, –that bis work is strictly spiritual. Another thing is equally evident, is that he is not an officer set over a number of subordinates; he stands alone. His name denotes his duty –to oversee; to superintend. He is elsewhere described as a pastor, or shepherd, and the term is sometimes used interchangeably with presbyter or elder, as in Acts 20:17, 28, where the elders of the Church are admonished as the overseers of the flock to feed the Church of God. See also 1 Peter 5:1-4, where the elders are exhorted to feed the flock of God, “taking the oversight.”

Some kind spirit will,no doubt, suggest –Why do you not read the remainder of the verse last quoted? “and that disagreeable clause about “filthy lucre;” for our brethren whose manifesto has called forth these remarks, are very fond of denying, and, many of them, very much given to maligning an ordained, educated, and paid ministry. “To the law and to the testimony; for if we speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in us.” Let our brethren kindly remember that, if they speak not according to it,they are under the same condemnation. Refer to the Church-Manual then, and you find Ordination in 1 Timothy 4:14; and in Titus 1:5. Education you find in 1 Timothy 4:13; and 2 Timothy, 4:13. Consider also the fact that Paul was highly educated both in Hebrew and Classic literature, that he possessed a highly cultivated logical faculty,and that these attainments were eminently made use of by the great Head of the Church, Jesus Christ, himself. 

Perhaps we could use the greatest example of an organized, ordained, educated, and paid ministry, and that is that of the poor fishermen apostles who were supernaturally educated by the Holy Ghost, at least in Languages, Sacred Literature, and Composition, all to counterbalance the deficient training of their early life.

And now as it regards to “filthy lucre;” Remuneration is found in 1 Timothy 5:17, 18 ; and 2 Timothy 2:4. It is rather cruel, and certainly not in accordance with their boasted charity, that a sweeping charge of mercenariness should be brought forward by a body of Christians who have every opportunity of increasing their income, many of whom have already made or inherited their fortunes, and who are not, as a body, remarkable for the largeness of their liberality, against a body of men, many of whom have given up all worldly prospects, that they may serve the cause of Christ, and almost all of whom would have realized more of this world’s goods had they followed other walks in life. “And truly had they been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.”

Enough, we think, has been said to prove that the Organized Christianity of the New Testament is of God. With other organizations than are found in the Divine Church Manual, we have nothing to do. While we mourn over the human imperfections which often mar the working of even Christ’s own method, we cannot charge the Divine method itself. Instead, we thank God that He has not left us without the pattern showed to us in the Sermon on Mount, and we pray for the time when the spirit of the Church shall better exemplify the skill and beauty of the model.

We close these thoughts by asking ourselves, in all charity but in all faithfulness, another question, “Disorganized Christianity” –Is it of God?”

Taken, and largely edited from, “The Christian Witness,” written sometime near 1867.

 

Are YOU a spiritual drama-drinker?

Written by J. C. Ryle.
Edited for thought and space.

Delirious-Ideas-SchizophreniaThe spiritual lives of many so-called Christians, I fear, are nothing better than a continual diet of spiritual drama-drinking.

They are always morbidly craving fresh excitement; and they seem to care little what it is if they only get it. All preaching seems to come alike to them; and they appear unable to “see differences,” so long as they heard what is clever, have their ears tickled, and sit in a crowd.

Worst of all, there are hundreds of young unestablished believers who are so infected with the same love of excitement, that they actually think it a duty to be always seeking it. Insensibly almost to themselves, they take up a kind of hysterical, sensational, sentimental Christianity, until they are never content with the “old paths,” and, like the Athenians, are always running after something new. To see a calm-minded young believer, who is not stuck up, self-confident, self-conceited, and more ready to teach than learn, but content with a daily steady effort to grow up into Christ’s likeness, and to do Christ’s work quietly and unostentatiously, at home, is really becoming almost a rarity!

Too many young professors, alas, behave like young recruits who have not spent all their bounty money. They show how little deep root they have, and how little knowledge of their own hearts, by noise, forwardness, readiness to contradict and set down old Christians, and over-weaning trust in their own fancied soundness and wisdom! Well will it be for many young professors of this age if they do not end, after being tossed about for a while, and “carried to and fro by every wind of doctrine, “by joining some petty, narrow-minded, censorious sect, or embracing some senseless, unreasoning, crotchety heresy. Surely in times like these there is great need for self-examination.

When we look around us, we may well ask, “How do we do about our souls?”

In handling this question, I think the shortest plan will be to suggest a list of subjects for self-inquiry, and to go through them in order. By so doing I shall hope to meet the case of every one into whose hands this volume may fall I invite every reader of this paper to join me in calm, searching self-examination, for a few short minutes. 

I desire to speak to myself as well as to you. I approach you not as an enemy, but as a friend. “My heart’s desire and prayer to God is that you may be saved.” (Rom. 10:1.) Bear with me if I say things which at first sight look harsh and severe. Believe me, he is your best friend who tells you the most truth.

Let me ask, in the first place, “Do we ever think about our souls at all?”

Thousands of people, I fear, cannot answer that question satisfactorily. They never give the subject of religion any place in their thoughts. From the beginning of the year to the end they are absorbed in the pursuit of business, pleasure, politics, money, or self-indulgence of some kind or another. Death, and judgment, and eternity, and heaven, and hell, and a world to come, are never calmly looked at and considered. They live on as if they were never going to die, or rise again, or stand at the bar of God, or receive an eternal sentence! They do not openly oppose religion, for they have not sufficient reflection about it to do so;” but they eat, and drink, and sleep, and get money, and spend money, as if religion was a mere fiction and not a reality.

They are neither infidels, nor High Church, nor Low Church, nor Broad Church. They are just nothing at all, and do not take the trouble to have opinions. A more senseless and unreasonable way of living cannot be conceived; but they do not pretend to reason about it. They simply never think about God, unless frightened for a few minutes by sickness, death in their families, or an accident. Barring such interruptions, they appear to ignore religion altogether, and hold on their way cool and undisturbed, as if there were nothing worth thinking of except this world.

It is hard to imagine a life more unworthy of an immortal creature than such a life as I have just described, for it reduces a man to the level of a beast. But it is literally and truly the life of multitudes in the world: and as they pass away their place is taken by multitudes like them. The picture, no doubt, is horrible, distressing, and revolting: but, unhappily, it is only too true. In every large town, in every market, on every stock-exchange, in every club, you may see specimens of this class by scores, “men who think of everything under the sun except the one thing needful,” the salvation of their souls. Like the Jews of old they do not “consider their ways, “they do not “consider their latter end;” they do not “consider that they do evil.” (Isa.1:3; Hag. 1:7; Dent, 32:29; Eccles. 5:1) Like Gallio they “care for none of these things:” they are not in their way. (Acts xviii. 17.) If they prosper in the world, and get rich, and succeed in their line of life, they are praised, and admired by their contemporaries. Nothing succeeds in the world like success. But for all this they cannot live forever. They will have to die and appear before the bar of God, and be judged; and then what will the end be? When a large class of this kind exists in our country, no reader need wonder that I ask whether he belongs to it. If you do, you ought to have a mark set on your door, as there used to be a mark on a plague-stricken house two centuries ago, with the words, ” Lord have mercy on us,” written on it. Look at the class I have been describing, and then look at your own soul

Let me ask, in the second place, whether we ever do anything about our souls?

There are multitudes in the world who think occasionally about religion, but unhappily never get beyond thinking. After a stirring sermon, ” or after a funeral,” or under the pressure of illness, ” or on Sunday evening,” or when things are going on badly in their families,” or when they meet some bright example of a Christian,” or when they fall in with some “striking religious book or tract,” they will at the time think a good deal, and even talk a little about religion in a vague way. But they stop short, as if thinking and talking were enough to save them. They are always meaning, and intending, and purposing, and resolving, and wishing, and telling us that they “know” what is right, and “hope” to be found right at last, but they never attain to any action. There is no actual separation from the service of the world and sin, no real taking up the cross and following Christ, no positive doing in their Christianity. Their life is spent in playing the part of the son in our Lord’s parable, to whom the father said,” Go, work in my vineyard: and he answered, I go, sir, and went not.” (Matt.21:30.) They are like those whom Ezekiel describes, who liked his preaching, but never practiced what he preached:” “They come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not.” (Ezek. 33: 31, 32.) In a day like this, when hearing and thinking, without doing, is so common, no one can justly wonder that I press upon men the absolute need of self-examination. Once more, then, I ask you to consider the question of my text,” “How do we do about our souls?”

Let me ask, in the third place, whether we are trying to satisfy our consciences with a mere formal Religion?

There are myriads in the world at this moment who are making shipwreck on this rock. Like the Pharisees of old, they make much ado about the outward part of Christianity, while the inward and spiritual part is totally neglected. They are careful to attend all the services of their place of worship, and regular in using all its forms and ordinances. They are never absent from Communion when the Lord’s Sapper is administered. Sometimes they are most strict in observing Lent, and attach great importance to Saints’ days. They are often keen partisans of their own Church, or sect, or congregation, and ready to contend with anyone who does not agree with them. Yet all this time there is no heart in their religion. Anyone who knows them intimately can see with half an eye that their affections are set on things below, and not on things above; and that they are trying to make up for the want of inward Christianity by an excessive quantity of outward form. And this formal religion does them no real good. They are not satisfied. Beginning at the wrong end, by making the outward things first, they know nothing of inward joy and peace, and pass their lives in a constant struggle, secretly conscious that there is something wrong, and yet not knowing why. Well, after all, if they do not go on from one stage of formality to another, until in despair they take a fatal plunge, and fall into carnality!

When professing Christians of this kind are so painfully numerous, no one need wonder if I press upon him the paramount importance of close self-examination. If you love life, do not be content with the husk, and shell, and scaffolding of religion. Remember our Savior’s words about the Jewish formalists of His day: “This people drawled nigh with their mouth, and honored me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. In vain do they worship?” (Matt. 15:9.) It needs something more than going diligently to church, and receiving the Lord’s Supper, to take our souls to heaven. Means of grace and forms of religion are useful in their way, and God seldom does anything for His church without them. But let us beware of making shipwreck on the very lighthouse which helps to show the channel into the harbor.

Once more I ask, “How do we do about our souls?”

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Meet the author and part of 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.

Christ’s Cross, is Christ’s way to Christ’s Crown. Part One.

Written by, William Penn (1644 – 1718) during his confinement in the Tower of London, in the year 1668. Selections apologetically edited for thought and sense.
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600px_Purple_cross_and_crown.
……NO CROSS ?
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……NO CROWN !!!

 

The knowledge and obedience of the doctrine of the cross of Christ, is of infinite moment to the souls of men; for that is the only door to true Christianity.

It is also the only path the ancients ever trod to blessedness. Yet, with extreme affliction, let me say, that Christianity is so little understood, so much neglected, and what is worse, so bitterly contradicted by the vanity, superstition, and intemperance of professed Christians, that we must either renounce our claim to believing what the Lord Jesus hath told us in Luke 14:27, “That whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after him, cannot be his disciple:” or, admit the truth and conclude, that the generality of Christendom do miserably deceive and disappoint themselves in the great business of Christianity and their own salvation.

For we cannot be so tender and charitable in the survey of those nations that entitle themselves to any interest in the holy name of Christ, without acknowledging that after all the gracious advantages of light, and obligations to fidelity, which these latter ages of the world have received, by the coming, life, doctrine, miracles, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ, with the gifts of his Holy Spirit; to which add the writings, labors, and martyrdom of his dear followers in all times, there seems very little left of Christianity but the name. Even this is now being usurped by the old heathen nature and life, and it is making the professors of Christianity but true heathens in disguise. For though these so-called Christians worship not the same idols, they are in fact worshipping Christ with the same heart. And it is a certain fact that they cannot do otherwise, while they live in the same lusts.

As a result, it can be said that these unmortified Christians and the heathen are of the same religion.

The deity they truly worship is the god of the world, the great lord of lusts: to him they bow with the whole powers of soul and sense. What shall we eat? What shall we drink? What shall we wear? And how shall we pass away our time? In which way may we gather wealth, increase our power, enlarge our properties and dignify and perpetuate our names and families in the earth? This base sensuality is most pathetically expressed and described by the beloved apostle John, in these words: “The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, which (says he) are not of the Father, but of the world that lies in wickedness.” It is a mournful reflection but a certain truth, that these Worldly lusts fill up the study, care and conversation of wretched Christendom!

This miserable defection from primitive times, when the glory of Christianity was the purity of its professors, I cannot but call the second and worst part of the Jewish tragedy, upon the blessed Savior of mankind. For the Jews, from the power of ignorance and the extreme prejudice they were under to the unworldly way of his appearance, would not acknowledge him when he came, but for two or three years persecuted, and finally crucified him in one day. But the false Christian’s cruelty lasts longer: they have first, with Judas, professed him, and then, for these many ages, most basely betrayed, persecuted, and crucified him, by a perpetual apostasy in manners, from the self-denial, and holiness of his doctrine; their lives giving the lie to their faith. These are they that the author of the epistle to the Hebrews tells us, “crucify to themselves the son of God afresh, and put him to open shame:” whose defiled hearts, John, in his Revelation, compares to the streets of Sodom, and Egypt, spiritually so called, where he beheld the Lord Jesus crucified, long after he had been ascended.

As Christ said of old, that a man’s enemies are those of his own house; so Christ’s enemies now, are chiefly those of his own profession: “they spit upon him, they nail and pierce him, and they crown him with thorns, and give him gall and vinegar to drink.” Nor is this hard to comprehend; for they that live in the same evil nature and principle the Jews did, that crucified him outwardly, must needs crucify him inwardly; since they that reject the grace now in their own hearts.  In truth, they are one in stock and generation with the hard-hearted Jews that resisted the grace that then appeared in and by Christ.

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Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage:  William Penn (14 October 1644 – 30 July 1718) philosopher, early Quaker and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania, the English North American colony and the future Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He was an early champion of democracy and religious freedom, notable for his good relations and successful treaties with the Lenape Indians. Under his direction, the city of Philadelphia was planned and developed.

In 1681, King Charles II handed over a large piece of his American land holdings to William Penn to satisfy a debt the king owed to Penn’s father. This land included present-day Pennsylvania and Delaware. Penn immediately sailed to America and his first step on American soil took place in New Castle in 1682. On this occasion, the colonists pledged allegiance to Penn as their new Proprietor, and the first general assembly was held in the colony

As one of the earlier supporters of colonial unification, Penn wrote and urged for a Union of all the English colonies in what was to become the United States of America. The democratic principles that he set forth in the Pennsylvania Frame of Government served as an inspiration for the United States Constitution. As a pacifist Quaker, Penn considered the problems of war and peace deeply, and included a plan for a United States of Europe (“European Dyet, Parliament or Estates”) in his voluminous writings.

A man of profound religious convictions, Penn wrote numerous writings in which he exhorted believers to adhere to the spirit of Primitive Christianity. He was imprisoned several times in the tower of London due to his faith, and his book No Cross, No Crown (1669), which he wrote while in prison, has become a Christian classic.