If you work your way through the Old Testament, this is what you will find. There were dead, lifeless periods when you would think that everything had come to an end – that God’s ways were forgotten. How did these dead periods suddenly give way to something else? Was it that people got together and organized something? Never! Not on a single occasion! Invariably it happened like this: that when they were utterly hopeless, and downcast, and really thought the end had come, God suddenly, unexpectedly, and in the most amazing manner did something. It is God who revives His work. You and I tend to be anxious, over-anxious, about the work, don’t we? Like that poor man Uzzah, we put out our hand to steady the ark, forgetting that he was struck dead for attempting to do so. And there are many people today who seem to think that they must do something to safeguard God’s cause. My dear friend, you need not trouble; God revives His work, but in His time, in His way, and with the person or persons whom He has chosen. The Old Testament history is amazing in that respect. – D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans, Vol. 1, p.96
An inadequate understanding of our sinfulness is probably the greatest single cause of our failure to rejoice always in the Lord always, and to realize that this message is the greatest good news the world has ever received. …The positive road to joy is always via the depth of sin. …It ought to be impossible for us to use the word ‘gospel’ without bursting forth, as it were, into a hymn of praise and thanksgiving. – D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans Vol. 1, pp. 58, 59
Here are the quotes, used and unused, from last night’s biographical address on John Owen.
If thou art, as many in this pretending age, a sign or title gazer, and comest into books as Cato into the theatre, to go out again,—thou hast had thy entertainment; farewell! – In The Preface of the Death of Death in the Death of Christ
Heresy is a canker, but it is a spiritual one; let it be prevented by spiritual means: cutting off men’s heads is no proper remedy for it.
May it please your majesty, could I posses the tinker’s abilities for preaching, I would willing relinquish all my learnings. – In reply to Charles II when asked why he would go hear such a tinker a John Bunyan preach
…I am going to him whom my soul has loved, or rather who has loved me with an everlasting love, – which is the whole ground of all my consolation. The passage is very irksome and wearisome, through strong pains of various sorts, which are all issued in an intermitting fever. I am leaving the ship of the church in a storm; but whilst the great Pilot is in it, the loss of a poor under-rower is inconsiderable. – A letter to His friend Charles Fleetwood
I am glad to hear it; but O brother Payne! The long wished-for day is come at last, in which I shall see that glory in another manner than I have ever done or was capable of doing in this world. – To Thomas Payne with arms uplifted and eyes heavenward on the morning of the day of his death.
The vigor, and power, and comfort of our spiritual life depends on the mortification of the deeds of the flesh. – The Mortification of Sin
Do you mortify; do you make it you daily work; be always at it while you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you. – The Mortification of Sin
…sin is never less quite when it seems to be most quite, and its waters most deep when they are still… – The Mortification of Sin
Sin always aims at the utmost; every time it raises up to tempt or entice, might it have its own course, it would go out to the utmost sin of its kind. Every unclean thought or glance would be adultery if it could; every covetous desire would be oppression, every thought of unbelief would be atheism, might it grow to its head. – The Mortification of Sin
He that shall call a man from mending a hole in the wall of his house, to quench a fire that is consuming the whole building is not his enemy. – The Mortification of Sin
Be much in thoughtfulness of the excellency of the majesty of God and thine infinite, inconceivable distance from him. …Think greatly of the greatness of God. – The Mortification of Sin
Let no man, then, pretend to fear sin that doth not fear temptation to it. They are too nearly allied to be separated. Satan hath put them together so that it is very hard for any man to put them asunder. He hates not the fruit who delights in the root. – On Temptation
The ways of our entering temptation are so many, various, and imperceptible, – the means of it so efficacious and powerful, – the entrances of it so deceitful, subtle, insensible, and plausible, – our weaknesses, our unwatchfulness so unspeakable, – that we cannot in the least keep or preserve ourselves from it. We fail in both wisdom and power for this work. – On Temptation
Should you go into an hospital, and see many persons lying sick and weak, sore and wounded, with many filthy diseases and distempers, and should inquire of them how they fell into this condition, and they shall all agree to tell you of such or such a thing was the occasion of it, “By that I got my wound,” says one, “And my disease,” says another, – would it not make you a little careful how or what you had to do with that thing or place? Should you go into a dungeon, and see many miserable creatures bound in chains for an approaching day of execution, and inquire the way and means whereby they were brought into that condition, and they should all fix on one and the same thing, would you not take care to avoid it? – On Temptation
It will never be exhausted; it is not wasted by men’s spending on it; yea the more they draw out this treasure, the more it grows and abounds! – Indwelling Sin
Fix you affections on heavenly things: this will enable you to mortify sin; fill them with the things that are above, let them be exercised with them, and so enjoy the cheifest place in them. They are above blessed and suitable objects, meet for and answering unto our affections; – God himself, in his beauty and glory; the Lord Jesus Christ who is “altogether lovely, the cheifest of ten thousand;” grace and glory; the mysteries revealed in the gospel; the blessed promises thereby. Were our affections filled up, taken up, and possessed with these things, as it is our duty that they be, – it is our happiness when they are, – what access could sin, with its painted pleasures, with its sugared poisons, with its envenomed baits, have unto our souls. – Indwelling Sin
The Danger of men’s souls lieth not in a disability to attain a comprehension of longer or more subtle confessions of faith, but in embracing things contrary unto, or inconsistent with this foundation thereof. – The Person of Christ
Nothing renders us so like unto God as our love unto Jesus Christ for he is the principle object of His love; – in him doth his soul rest – in him is he always well pleased. Wherever this is wanting, whatever there may be besides, there is nothing of the image of God. – The Person of Christ
There is no greater discovery of the depravation of our natures by sin and degeneracy of our wills from their original rectitude, than that – whereas we are so prone to the love of other things, and therein do seek for satisfaction unto our souls where it is not to be obtained – it is so hard and difficult to raise our hearts unto the love of God. Were it not for that depravation, he would always appear as the only suitable and satisfactory object of our love. – The Person of Christ
An imaginary Christ will effect nothing in the minds of men but imaginary grace. – The Person of Christ
A God-man was necessary for our atonement because…required that there should be an obedience yielded unto God, bringing more glory unto him than dishonor did arise and accrue from the disobedience of man. – The Person of Christ
And although the life of faith and vision differ in degrees – or, as some think, in kind – yet have they both the same object, and the same operations, and there is a great cognation between them. – The Person of Christ
This, therefore, deserves the severest of our thoughts, the best of our meditations, and our utmost diligence in them. For if our future blessedness shall consist in being where he is, and beholding of his glory, what better preparation can there be for it that in a constant previous contemplation of that glory in the revelation that is made in the Gospel, unto this very end, that by a view of it we may be gradually transformed into the same glory? – The Glory of Christ
For they all grow on this root of an over-valuation of temporal things… One real view of the glory of Christ and our concernment therein will give us full relief in this matter…When we have due apprehensions hereof, – when our minds are possessed with thoughts of it, – when our affections reach out after its enjoyments, – let pain, and sickness, and sorrows, and fears, and dangers, and death, say what they will, we shall have in readiness wherewith to combat with them and overcome them; and that on this consideration, that they are all outward, transitory, and passing away, whereas our minds are fixed on those things which are eternal, and filled with incomprehensible glory. – The Glory of Christ
No man shall ever behold the glory of Christ by sight hereafter, who doth not on some measure behold it by faith here in this world. …No man ought to look for anything in heaven, but what one way or other he hath some experience in this life. – The Glory of Christ
There is more glory given to God by coming to Christ in believing, than in keeping the whole law; inasmuch as he has more eminently manifested the holy properties of his nature in the way of salvation by Christ, than in the giving of the law. – The Glory of Christ
There is not anything that Jesus Christ is more delighted with, than that his saints should always hold communion with him as to this business of giving and receiving. For,-…1.This exceedingly honors him, and gives him the glory that is his due. …2. This exceedingly endears the souls of the saints to him, and constrains them to put a due valuation upon him, his love, his righteousness, and grace. – Communion with God
The best biography I read of John Owen was Andrew Thomson’s Prince of the Puritans. I have an extra copy that I will give away for free (to SLBC readers only). Just leave a comment and state why you would like to learn about John Owen. If by some miracle there is more than one reply if any I will choose the one I think best.
I am one of those who do not recognize any consideration of the Word of God which is not accompanied by worship. The Bible is not an ordinary book – it is God’s book, and it is a Book about God and man’s realtionship to Him. Therefore, every time we consider or study the Bible we are, of necessity, worshipping. – D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans Vol. 1, p. 1
Many of you know that each year I devote time to the study of one man’s life and theology. This year I have decided to spend a year being taught by the man many affectionately call “The Doctor”, Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. My first direct exposure to Lloyd-Jones was through his book Spiritual Depression. The logic was life changing, the seriousness contagious, and the solemn holiness that is attested to have permeated the atmosphere in which he preached could still be sensed. It is paragraphs like this that will leave me eternally thankful to God for His teaching:
How do we reconcile the two things? In this way. I say that we must talk to ourselves instead of allowing ‘ourselves’ to talk to us! Do you realize what that means? I suggest that the main trouble in this whole matter of spiritual depression in a sense is this, that we allow our self to talk to us instead of talking to our self. Am I just trying to be deliberately paradoxical? Far from it. this is the very essence of wisdom in this matter. Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment was this [the man in Ps. 42]; instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. ‘Why art thou cast down, O my soul?’ he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: ‘Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you’….The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself.
The second book of Lloyd-Jones and one of the most practically life changing was Preaching and Preachers. After reading this book the driving emphasis behind my ministry, my schedule, use of time, and study habits radically changed and I am all the better for it. I believe these changes have brought about much fruit; I think that God has blessed my ministry in a way that was absent before.
Next year I hope to read through his set of expository sermons on the book of Romans (14 volumes), his large book, the Great Doctrines of the Bible, and Revival. In addition I plan to reread Spiritual Depression, Preaching and Preachers, and The Cross as well as skim back through Studies in the Sermon on the Mount and Life in Christ. As far as biographies I will reread Iain Murray’s wonderful two volume work, as well as reading his new work Lloyd-Jones: Messenger of Grace. Unlike years past I plan on beginning each week by sharing with you some of the gems gleaned from my study the previous week. All these posts will be prefaced, “The Doctor:”.
I invite you join me by reading any of the titles listed above, especially Spiritual Depression and Preaching and Preachers. Also the Martyn Lloyd-Jones Recording Trust has free sermon audio, books, articles, and an mp3 podcast.
Listen to mp3 sermons. You will be rewarded. So many blessed teachers are available online for free it would be a shame not to sit under their preaching. Recently I recommended Piper’s biographical message on John Paton. This would be a great way to start. As I was reading through John Owen on Indwelling Sin this morning I thought the 17th century Puritan could give us some advice on listening to mp3 sermons. The help came from chapter nine of his treatise where he offers prayer and meditation as primary ways of fighting indwelling sin.
1) Don’t expect your flesh to leap with joy. “There is an aversion, as hath been declared, in the law of sin (indwelling sin) unto the immediate communion with God.” Would you rather listen to Coldplay or Sinclair Ferguson while you exercise? Sure one may pump you up, but which one will leave you with fuel for long meditation bearing joy?
2) What you lack in duration make up for in frequency. “Some are discouraged because their minds do not regularly supply them with thoughts to carry on their meditations, through the weakness or imperfections of their own inventions. Let this be supplied by frequent returns of the mind unto the subject proposed to be meditated upon, whereby new senses will still be supplied unto it.” I rarely listen to a sermon in one sitting. Mostly I listen in the mornings for approximately fifteen minutes while I take care of the dogs and eat breakfast. I listen while I do chores, walk the dogs, and work outside. All are short, stolen, precious moments.
3) Worship. This is my favorite line from the chapter:
Meditate of God with God; that is, when we would undertake thoughts and meditations of God, his excellencies, his properties, his glory, his majesty, his love, his goodness, let it be done in a way of speaking unto God, in a deep humiliation and abasement of our souls before him. This will fix the mind, and draw it forth from one thing to another, to give glory unto God in a due manner, and affect the soul until it be brought into that holy admiration of God and delight in him which is acceptable unto him. My meaning is, that it be done in a way of prayer and praise,-speaking unto God.
Begin your listening with a prayer. Pray that worship happen in your mind and heart. Pray that you have discernment to take in only what is scriptural. Pray that you have humility to learn and repent. Don’t just listen to the sermon; listen to the sermon fellowshipping with God.
Recommendations (iTunes links):
Students and adults:
Don’t Waste Your Life
Please pray for me that I never serve what I have not partaken of myself. Also never expect others to taste and see that He is good while your lips smack of the world and your breath reeks of idolatry.
A man preacheth that sermon only well unto others which preacheth itself in his own soul. And he that doth not feed on and thrive in the digestion of the food which he provides for others will scarce make it savoury unto them; yea, he knows not but the food he hath provided may be poison, unless he have really tasted of it himself. If the word do not dwell with power in us, it will not pass with power from us. And no man lives in a more woeful condition than those who really believe not themselves what they persuade others to believe continually. The want of this experience of the power of gospel truth on their own souls is that which gives us so many lifeless, sapless orations, quaint in words and dead as to power, instead of preaching the gospel in the demonstration of the Spirit. – John Owen in The True Nature of a Gospel Church
Here are the quotes I used, and many I simply alluded to in last nights biographical lecture on Edwards.
From about that time, I began to have a new kind of apprehensions and ideas of Christ, and the work of redemption, and the glorious way of salvation by him. An inward sweet sense of these things, at times, came into my heart; and my soul was led away in pleasant views and contemplations of them. And my mind was greatly engaged to spend my time in reading and meditating on Christ, on the beauty and excellency in his person and the lovely way of salvation by free grace in him.
#5 Resolved, Never to loose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way I can.
#7 Resolved, Never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.
#8 Resolved, To act, in all respects, both speaking and doing as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.
#9 Resolved, To think much, on all occasions, of my dying, and the common circumstances which attend death.
# 17 Resolved, That I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.
# 20 Resolved, To maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking.
#22 Resolved, To endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness in the other world as I possibly can, with all the power, might, vigour, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.
#24 Resolved, Whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original cause; and then, both carefully endeavor to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it.
#45 Resolved, Never to allow any pleasure of grief, joy or sorrow, nor any affliction at all, nor any degree of affliction, nor any circumstance relating to it, but what helps religion.
#67 Resolved, After afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them; what good I have got by them; and what I might have got by them.
I had then, and at other times, the greatest delight in the Holy Scriptures of any book whatsoever. Oftentimes in reading it every word seemed to touch my heart. I felt a harmony between something in my heart and those sweet and powerful words. I seemed often to see so much light exhibited by every sentence, and such a refreshing food communicated, that I could not get along in reading; often dwelling long on one sentence, to see the wonders contained in it; and yet almost every sentence seemed full of wonders. – Memoirs
I often used to sit and view the moon for a long time; and in the day spent much time in viewing the clouds and sky, to behold the sweet glory of God in these things: in the mean time, singing forth, with a low voice, my contemplations of the Creator and Redeemer. And scarce anything, among all the works of nature, was so sweet to me as thunder and lightning; formerly nothing had been so terrible to me. Before, I used to be uncommonly terrified with thunder, and to be struck with terror when I saw a thunder-storm rising; but now, on the contrary, it rejoiced me. I felt God, if I may so speak, at the first appearance of a thunderstorm; and used to take the opportunity, at such times, to fix myself in order to view the clouds, and see the lightnings play, and hear the majestic and awful voice of God’s thunder, which oftentimes was exceedingly entertaining, leading me to sweet contemplations of my great and glorious God. While thus engaged, it always seemed natural for me to sing, or chant forth my meditations; or to speak my thoughts in soliloquies with a singing voice. – Memoirs
They say there is a young lady in [New Haven] who is loved of that Great Being, who made and rules the world, and that there are certain seasons in which this Great Being, in some way or other invisible, comes to her and fills her mind with exceeding sweet delight; and that she hardly cares for anything, except to meditate on Him. . . . [Y]ou could not persuade her to do any thing wrong or sinful, if you would give her all the world, lest she should offend this Great Being. She is of a wonderful sweetness, calmness, and universal benevolence of mind; especially after this Great God has manifested himself to her mind. She will sometimes go about from place to place, singing sweetly; and seems to be always full of joy and pleasure. . . . She loves to be alone, walking in the fields and groves, and seems to have some one invisible always conversing with her. – Written in the Front of His Greek Grammar Book
God is glorified in the work of redemption in this, that there appears in it so absolute and universal a dependence of the redeemed on him. Here I propose to show, 1st, That there is an absolute and universal dependence of the redeemed on God for all their good. And, 2dly, That God hereby is exalted and glorified in the work of redemption. – God Glorified in Man’s Dependence
That they have all their good of him, and that they have all through him, and that they have all in him: That he is the cause and original whence all their good comes, therein it is of him; and that he is the medium by which it is obtained and conveyed, therein they have it through him; and that he is the good itself given and conveyed, therein it is in him. Now those that are redeemed by Jesus Christ do, in all these respects, very directly and entirely depend on God for their all. – God Glorified in Man’s Dependence
The redeemed have all from the grace of God. It was of mere grace that God gave us his only-begotten Son. The grace is great in proportion to the excellency of what is given. The gift was infinitely precious, because it was of a person infinitely worthy, a person of infinite glory; and also because it was of a person infinitely near and dear to God. – God Glorified in Man’s Dependence
The grace in bestowing this gift is great in proportion to our unworthiness to whom it is given; instead of deserving such a gift, we merited infinitely ill of God’s hands. – God Glorified in Man’s Dependence
Our blessings are what we have by purchase; and the purchase is made of God, the blessings are purchased of him, and God gives the purchaser; and not only so, but God is the purchaser. Yea God is both the purchaser and the price; for Christ, who is God, purchased these blessings for us, by offering up himself as the price of our salvation. – God Glorified in Man’s Dependence
Our having all of God, shows the fulness of his power and grace; our having all through him, shows the fulness of his merit and worthiness; and our having all in him, demonstrates his fulness of beauty, love, and happiness. And the redeemed, by reason of the greatness of their dependence on God, have not only so much the greater occasion, but obligation to contemplate and acknowledge the glory and fulness of God. – God Glorified in Man’s Dependence
Though [repentance] be a deep sorrow for sin that God requires as necessary to salvation, yet the very nature of it necessarily implies delight. Repentance of sin is a sorrow arising from the sight of God’s excellency and mercy, but the apprehension of excellency or mercy must necessarily and unavoidably beget pleasure in the mind of the beholder. ‘Tis impossible that anyone should see anything that appears to him excellent and not behold it with pleasure, and it’s impossible to be affected with the mercy and love of God, and his willingness to be merciful to us and love us, and not be affected with pleasure at the thoughts of [it]; but this is the very affection that begets true repentance. How much sovever of a paradox it may seem, it is true that repentance is a sweet sorrow, so that the more of this sorrow, the more pleasure. – The Pleasantness of Religion
Our public assemblies were then beautiful, the congregation was then alive in God’s service, everyone earnestly intent on the public worship, every hearer eager to drink in the words of the minister as they came from his mouth; the assembly in general were, from time to time in tears while the Word was preached; some weeping with sorrow and distress, others with joy and love, others with pity and concern for the souls of their neighbors. – A Narrative of Surprising Conversions
For love is not only one of the affections, but it is the first and chief of the affections, and the fountain of all the affections. From love arises hatred of those things which are contrary to what we love, or which oppose and thwart us in those things that we delight in: and from the various exercises of love and hatred, according to the circumstances of the objects of these affections, as present or absent, certain or uncertain, probable or improbable, arise all those other affections of desire, hope, fear, joy, grief, gratitude, anger, &c. From a vigorous, affectionate, and fervent love to God, will necessarily arise other religious affections; hence will arise an intense hatred and abhorrence of sin, fear of sin, and a dread of God’s displeasure, gratitude to God for his goodness, complacence and joy in God, when God is graciously and sensibly present, and grief when he is absent, and a joyful hope when a future enjoyment of God is expected, and fervent zeal for the glory of God. – The Religious Affections
God glorifies Himself toward the creatures also in two ways: 1. By appearing to… their understanding. 2. In communicating Himself to their hearts, and in their rejoicing and delighting in, and enjoying, the manifestations which He makes of Himself…God is glorified not only by His glory’s being seen, but by its being rejoiced in. When those that see it delight in it, God is more glorified than if they only see it. His glory is then received by the whole soul, both by the understanding and by the heart. God made the world that He might communicate, and the creature receive, His glory; and that it might [be] received both by the mind and heart. He that testifies his idea of God’s glory [doesn’t] glorify God so much as he that testifies also his approbation of it and his delight in it. – The Miscellanies
It is reasonable to suppose that he had respect to himself, as his last and highest end, in this work; because he is worthy in himself to be so, being infinitely the greatest and best of beings. All things else, with regard to worthiness, importance, and excellence, are perfectly as nothing in comparison of him. And therefore, if God has respect to things according to their nature and proportions, he must necessarily have the greatest respect to himself. It would be against the perfection of his nature, his wisdom, holiness, and perfect rectitude, whereby he is disposed to do everything that is fit to be done, to suppose otherwise. – The End for which God Created the World
The emanation or communication of the divine fullness, consisting in the knowledge of God, love to him, and joy in him, has relation indeed both to God and the creature: but it has relation to God as its fountain, as the thing communicated is something of its internal fullness. The water in the stream is something of the fountain; and the beams of the sun are something of the sun. And again, they have relation to God as their object: for the knowledge communicated is the knowledge of God; and the love communicated, is the love of God; and the happiness communicated, is joy in God. In the creature’s knowing, esteeming, loving, rejoicing in, and praising God, the glory of God is both exhibited and acknowledged, his fullness is received and returned. Here is both an emanation and remanation. The refulgence shines upon and into the creature, and is reflected back to the luminary. The beams of glory come from God, are something of God, and are refunded back again to their original. So that the whole is of God, and in God, and to God; and he is the beginning, and the middle, and the end. – The End for which God Created the World
I did give up myself and children to God with my whole heart… A few days after this, one evening, in talking of the glorious state my dear departed must be in, my soul was carried out in such longing desires after this glorious state, that I was forced to retire from the family to conceal my joy. When alone, I was so transported, and my soul carried out in such eager desires after perfection, and the full enjoyment of God, and to serve him uninterruptedly, that I think my nature would not have borne much more. I think I had that night a foretaste of Heaven. This frame continued, in some good degree, the whole night. I slept but little; and when I did, my dreams were all of heavenly and divine things. Frequently since I have felt the same in kind, though not in degree. Thus a kind and gracious God has been with me in six troubles, and in seven. But, oh! Sir, what cause of deep humiliation and abasement of soul have I, on account of remaining corruption which I see working, especially pride! Oh, how many shapes does pride cloak itself in! Satan is also busy shooting his darts; but, blessed be God, those temptations of his that used to overthrow me, as yet, have not touched me. Oh to be delivered from the power of Satan as well as sin! I cannot help hoping the time is near. God is certainly fitting me for himself; and when I think it will be soon that I shall be called hence, the thought is transporting. Your dutiful and affectionate daughter Esther Burr. – A Letter from his daughter Esther
I thank you for your most comfortable letter; but more especially would I thank God that has granted you such things to write. How good and kinds is your heavenly Father! Indeed, he is a faithful God; he will remember his covenant forever; and never will fail them that trust in him. But don’t be surprised, or think some strange thing has happened to you, if after this light clouds of darkness should return. Perpetual sunshine is not usual in this world, even to God’s saints. But I hope, if God should hide his face in some respect, even this will be in faithfulness to you, to purify you and fit you for yet further and better light. – Edwards reply to Esther’s letter
My very dear child, What shall I say? A holy and good God has covered us with a dark cloud. O that we may kiss the rod, and lay our hands upon our mouths! The Lord has done it. He has made me adore his goodness, that we had him so long. But my God lives; and he has my heart. O what a legacy my husband, and your father, has left us! We are all given to God; and there I am, and love to be. Your affectionate mother, Sarah Edwards – Sarah to Esther after Jonathan’s death
The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect, over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked; his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times so abominable in his eyes as the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince: and yet ‘tis nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment: ‘tis to be ascribed to nothing else, that you did not go to hell the last night; that you was suffered to awake again in this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep: and there is no other reason to be given why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning, but that God’s hand has held you up: there is no other reason to be given why you haven’t gone to hell since you have sat here in the house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful wicked manner of attending his solemn worship: yea, there is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you don’t this very moment drop down into hell. O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: ‘tis a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you as against many of the damned in hell: you hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment. – Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God
God is the highest good of the reasonable creature, and the enjoyment of him is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. – To go to heaven fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows. But the enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams, but God is the fountain. These are but drops, but God is the ocean. – Therefore it becomes us to spend this life only as a journey towards heaven, as it becomes us to make the seeking of our highest end and proper good, the whole work of our lives, to which we should subordinate all other concerns of life. Why should we labor for, or set our hearts on anything else, but that which is our proper end, and true happiness? – The Christian Pilgrim
God himself is the great good which they are brought to the possession and enjoyment of by redemption. He is the highest good, and the sum of all that good which Christ purchased. God is the inheritance of the saints; he is the portion of their souls. God is their wealth and treasure, their food, their Life, their dwelling- place, their ornament and diadem, and their everlasting honour and glory. They have none in heaven but God; he is the great good which the redeemed are received to at death, and which they are to rise to at the end of the world. The Lord God is the light of the heavenly Jerusalem; and is the “river of the water of life” that runs, and “the tree of life that grows, in the midst of the paradise of God.” The glorious excellencies and beauty of God will be what will for ever entertain the minds of the saints, and the love of God will be their everlasting feast. The redeemed will indeed enjoy other things; they will enjoy the angels, and will enjoy one another; but that which they shall enjoy in the angels, or each other, or in any thing else whatsoever that will yield them delight and happiness, will be what shall be seen of God in them. – God Glorified in Man’s Dependence
There is more glory given to God by coming to Christ in believing, than in keeping the whole law; inasmuch as he has more eminently manifested the holy properties of his nature in the way of salvation by Christ, than in the giving of the law. – John Owen in The Glory of Christ
I could have used this quote when going through Galatians. Even if I could approach God through the law by perfectly keeping it, it would not glorify or endear his heart as much as if I would latch onto Christ for my only righteousness.
I have decided to elect John Owen for 08. A year and a half ago I decided to study one theologian for 30 minutes a day for a year. In addition I would read many biographies and studies of their theologies. For the past year and a half I have been learning from and about Jonathan Edwards. We have had wonderful conversations. A February sermon and post will be dedicated to his impact upon me.So a new year was upon me. Surgeon and Owen were the contenders. I kept wavering back and forth between the two. Finally after reading Owen’s work on the person of Christ in November I made my decision. It was thoughts like these that decided my vote:
There is no greater discovery of the depravation of our natures by sin and degeneracy of our wills from their original rectitude, than that – whereas we are so prone to the love of other things, and therein do seek for satisfaction unto our souls where it is not to be obtained – it is so hard and difficult to raise our hearts unto the love of God. Were it not for that depravation, he would always appear as the only suitable and satisfactory object of our love.
It was required that there should be an obedience yielded unto God, bringing more glory unto him than dishonor did arise and accrue from the disobedience of man.
Unto them that believe unto the saving of the soul, he is, he always hath been, precious – the sun, the rock, the life, the bread of their souls – every thing that is good, useful, amiable, desirable, here or unto eternity. In, from, and by him, is all their spiritual and eternal life, light, power, growth, consolation, and joy here; with everlasting salvation hereafter. By him alone do they desire, expect, and obtain deliverance from that woeful apostasy from God, which is accompanied with – which containeth in it virtually and meritoriously – whatever is evil, noxious, and destructive unto our nature, and which, without relief, will issue in eternal misery. By him are they brought into the nearest cognation, alliance, and friendship with God, the firmest union unto him, and the most holy communion with him, that our finite natures are capable of, and so conducted unto the eternal enjoyment of him. For in him “shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory;” (Isa. xlv. 25;) for “Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation;” they “shall not be ashamed nor confounded, world without end:” verse 17.
My choice was gladdened when I read a book on his theology and life where I read an excerpt from a letter written to a friend when he knew his death was near.
I am going to him whom my soul hath loved, or rather hath loved me with an everlasting love; which is the whole ground of my consolation. The passage [passing away in death] is very irksome and werrisome through strong pain of various sorts which are issued in and intermitting feaver. All things were provided to carry me to London today attending to the advise of my physician, but we were unable to undertake the journey. I am leaving the ship of the church in a storm, but while the great Pilot is in it the loss of a poore under-rower will be inconsideralbe. Live and pray and hope and waite patiently and doe not dispair; the promise stands invincible that he will never leave thee nor forsake thee.
Finally as I began his discourse on the glory of Christ I read:
It will herein, and in the discharge of this duty, be made evident how slight and inconsiderable all these things are from whence our troubles and distresses do arise. For they all grow on this root of an over-valuation of temporal things. And unless we can arrive unto a fixed judgment that all things here below are transitory and perishing, reaching only unto the outward man, or the body, (perhaps unto the killing of it), – that the best of them have nothing that is truly substantial or abiding in them, – that there are other things, wherein we have an assured interest, that are incomparably better than they, and above them, – it is impossible but that we must spend our lives in fears, sorrows, and distractions. One real view of the glory of Christ, and of our own concernment therein, will give us a full relief in this matter. For what are all the things of this life? What is the good or evil of them in comparison of an interest in this transcendent glory? When we have due apprehensions hereof, – when our minds are possessed with thoughts of it, – when our affections reach out after its enjoyments, – let pain, and sickness, and sorrows, and fears, and dangers, and death, say what they will, we shall have in readiness wherewith to combat with them and overcome them; and that on this consideration, that they are all outward, transitory, and passing away, whereas our minds are fixed on those things which are eternal, and filled with incomprehensible glory.
I predict that Owen will trump Edwards in his impact upon my theology. I am excited to learn from him and look forward to sharing his view of God with you.