Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Things Earthly and Heavenly

“As it is but foolish childishness that makes children so delight in baubles that they would not leave them for all your lands, so it is but foolish worldliness, and fleshliness, and wickedness, that makes you so much delight in your houses, and lands, and meat, and drink, and ease, and honour, as that you would not part with them for heavenly delights. But what will you do for pleasure when these are gone? Do you not think of that? When your pleasures end in horror, and go out like a taper, the pleasures of the saints are then at their best.”—Richard Baxter

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Ten Marks of a Flesh-Pleaser

Richard Baxter

The signs of a flesh-pleaser or sensualist are these:

1. When a man in his desire to please his appetite, does not do it with a view to a higher end, that is to say to the preparing himself for the service of God; but does it only for the delight itself. (Of course no one does every action conciously with a view to the service of God. Nevertheless, the general manner or habit of a life spent in the service of God is absent for the flesh-pleaser.)

2. When he looks more eagerly and industriously after the prosperity of his body than of his soul.

3. When he will not refrain from his pleasures, when God forbids them, or when they hurt his soul, or when the necessities of his soul call him away from them. But he must have his delight whatever it costs him, and is so set upon it, that he cannot deny it to himself.

4. When the pleasures of his flesh exceed his delights in God, and his holy word and ways, and the expectations of endless pleasure. And this not only in the passion, but in the estimation, choice, and action. When he had rather be at a play, or feast, or other entertainment, or getting good bargains or profits in the world, than to live in the life of faith and love, which would be a holy and heavenly way of living.

5. When men set their minds to scheme and study to make provision for the pleasures of the flesh; and this is first and sweetest in their thoughts.

6. When they had rather talk, or hear, or read of fleshly pleasures, than of spiritual and heavenly delights.

7. When they love the company of merry sensualists, better than the communion of saints, in which they may be exercised in the praises of their Maker.

8. When they consider that the best place to live and work is where they have the pleasure of the flesh. They would rather be where they have things easy, and lack nothing for the body, rather than where they have far better help and provision for the soul, though the flesh be pinched for it.

9. When he will be more eager to spend money to please his flesh than to please God.

10. When he will believe or like no doctrine but easy-believism, and hate mortification as too strict legalism. By these, and similar signs, sensuality may easily be known; indeed, by the main bent of the life.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Christ Our Prophet, Priest and King

“Salvation (as to the actual dispensation of it) is revealed by Christ as a Prophet, procured by him as a Priest, applied by him as a King. In vain it is revealed, if not purchased; in vain revealed and purchased, if not applied.”—John Flavel, The Fountain of Life

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Meditating Upon Our Weakness

Q. 13. Did our first parents continue in the estate wherein they were created?
A. Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the estate wherein they were created, by sinning against God.

In meditating upon the fall of our first parents, Thomas Boston exhorts the believer to consider his own weakness: 
“If our nature was so weak when at the best, then how miserably weak is it now when it is at its worst? If Adam did not stand when he was perfectly holy and righteous, how unable are we to stand when sin has entirely disabled us? If purified nature could not resist the temptation, but was quite overturned at the first blast, how shall corrupt nature stand when besieged and stormed with a long succession of strong and violent assaults? If Adam in a few hours sinned himself out of paradise, O how quickly would those who are regenerated sin themselves into hell, if they were not preserved by a greater power than their own; nay ‘kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation?’” 
The Works of Thomas Boston
Vol. I., p. 254

Friday, January 31, 2014

“I Bequeath My Pastor’s Soul to the Devil”

Covetousness, which is idolatry.
Colossians 3:5

Covetousness is explicit idolatry. Covetousness is the darling sin of our nation. This leprosy has infected all sorts and ranks of men. Covetousness being idolatry, and the root of all evil, is highly provoking to God.

Whatever a man loves most and best—that is his god. The covetous man looks upon the riches of the world 
as his heaven—his happiness—his great all. His heart is most upon the world, his thoughts are most upon the world, his affections are most upon the world, his discourse is most about the world. 

He who has his mind taken up with the world, and chiefly delighted with the world's music—he has also his tongue tuned to the same key, and takes his joy and comfort in speaking of nothing else but the world and worldly things. If the world is in the heart—it will break out at the lips. A worldly-minded man speaks of nothing but worldly things. "They are of the world, therefore they speak of the world," John 4:5. The love of this world oils the tongue for worldly discourses, and makes men . . . forget God, neglect Christ, despise holiness, forfeit heaven.

Ah! the time, the thoughts, the strength, the efforts, which are spent upon the world, and the things of the world; while sinners' souls lie a-bleeding, and eternity is hastening upon them! 

I have read of a greedy banker, who was always best when he was most in talking of money and the world. Being near his death, he was much pressed to make his will. Finally he dictates:

First, I bequeath my own soul to the devil
—for being so greedy for the muck of this world!

Secondly, I bequeath my wife's soul to the devil
—for persuading me to this worldly course of life.

Thirdly, I bequeath my pastor's soul to the devil
—because he did not show me the danger I lived in, nor reprove me for it.

But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. I Timothy 6:9

Thomas Brooks
A Word in Season to Suffering Saints

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Evils of Short Pastorates

There are churches in the Presbytery not a few which for a long time have been kept back from a satisfactory measure of growth chiefly because of frequent change of pastors. Possibly these churches do not see the cause of the stagnation in their life, but, viewed from the outside, it is not difficult to perceive that there could not be much progress, while ever and anon there came such a shock to all their plans and efforts as is occasioned by a dissolution of the pastoral relation. The survey of all our churches which the preparation of this history rendered necessary furnishes an excellent opportunity of calling attention to what has become a most serious drawback to our cause.

Among the numerous evils arising from frequent changes in the pastorate of a church, the following may be mentioned:

(1) The church is kept in a restless, unsettled state. At each change old plans of work and worship generally are abandoned and new ones introduced. The loss of a pastor is itself a great shock to a congregation, and frequently contentions and alienations arise during the effort to secure another. The evils consequent upon such changes are far greater with us than in the Methodist Church, where they are made systematically, and consequently are expected and arranged for.

(2) Frequent changes in the pastorate prevent deep and permanent foundations from being laid. The pastor, warned by the past history of his church, does not lay out his plans for training, especially the young, as if he expected in future years to reap the fruits of his labors. There is danger that all work shall be performed merely for the present, and consequently that many of the best effects of our system shall fail of being realized.

(3) The formation of the peculiar and affectionate confidence that should exist between pastor and people is almost certainly prevented. Such confidence is one of the mightiest powers for giving to the cause of Christ its most blessed success. Its growth, however, is necessarily the work oftime. By the separation of those between whom it should exist, as it is forming or just as it is ripening into fullness of strength, it will be blasted.

(4) Frequent change is calculated to diminish the impression upon the community of the dignity and sacredness of the pastoral relation. The connection between the pastor and people is an ordinance of God, and is designed to be an important agency in building up the church through the edification of believers and the conversion of the impenitent; but when it is broken every year or two, much of this power is gone.

(5) Serious injury frequently results to ministers from the dissolution of the pastoral relation. In some cases, indeed, it is in order to their removal to situations of greater comfort and usefulness; in many instances, however, it results in unsettling them for a long time, and so of exposing them to numberless hardships. The writer has in mind one case where a pastor of an exceedingly attractive country charge left his field because of an estrangement with a single elder, and after that spent the remainder of his days almost without a charge or a home. He knew of another, a prominent man in the Church, who in his old age mourned that once he had been induced unwisely to give up a most desirable pastoral charge, thus rendering his whole subsequent life a failure.

As a. matter of sad experience it is found that when there are frequent changes in the pastorate of any church, that church becomes restless and unsettled, plans of usefulness are not continued, enterprises for advancing the cause of Christ are not undertaken, strifes are engendered, discipline is not attempted, foundations are not laid deep; and, as a matter of fact, such churches are rarely, if ever, among those that prosper.

Thomas Murphy
The Presbytery of the Log College, pp. 469-471

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Mystery of the Incarnation

It is impossible for us to explain philosophically how two self-conscious intelligences, how two self determined free agents, can constitute one person; yet this is the precise character of the phenomenon revealed in the history of Jesus. In order to simplify the matter, some errorists have supposed that in the person of Christ there was no human soul, but that his divine spirit took the place of a human soul in his human body. Others have so far separated the two natures as to make him two persons - A God and a man intimately united. Others have so pressed the natures together that neither pure divinity nor pure humanity is left, but a new nature resulting from the mixing of both. In opposition to this we have proved above - (1.) That Christ had a true human soul as well as a human body, and (2.) That he, although both God and man, is only one single person.

A. A. Hodge
The Westminster Confession: A Commentary, p. 141