October 13, 2017

Religious Affections in Vol I of the Works - Edwards - I - Preface

Required reading
Religious affections in Volume I of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here) - Read the Preface.

My summary.
This week we begin Edwards' religious affections.

Initially Edwards states the importance of the answering the following question: 'What are the distinguishing qualifications of those that are in favour with God, and entitled to his eternal rewards?'

Yet, Edwards is also honest about the difficulty of answering the question, particularly because the ongoing mixture of unbelievers in with believers in the local church.

What grabbed me
I was helped by Edwards' identifying reasons Satan produces counterfeit experiences:  'By this means, the devil gratifies himself, that multitudes should offer to God, under the notion of acceptable service, what is indeed above all things abominable to him. By this means, he deceives great multitudes about the state of their souls; making them think they are something, when they are nothing; and so eternally undoes them: and not only so, but establishes many in a strong confidence of their eminent holiness, who, in God's sight, are some of the vilest hypocrites.'

Many are blind to their lost state because they are relying on Satan's false assurance of salvation.

Next week's reading
Read Part 1.

Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.

October 12, 2017

The Christian in Complete Armour - Gurnall - XLI - Direction Eight commenced

Required reading
The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall (Available from Amazon or free here) - Commence Direction Eight by reading up to the First General Part.

My summary
Today we begin Direction Eight: 'Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.' (Eph. 6:16)

To start the subject, Gurnall gives us an explication of the words by answering four inquiries:
(i) What faith is it that here is commended? (Justifying faith);
(ii) What is this justifying faith as to its nature? (An act of the soul whereby it rests on Christ);
(iii) Why is faith compared to a shield (Because of a double resemblance between grace and that piece of armour);
(iv) What does above all import? (Faith is above the other graces).

What grabbed me
I enjoyed Gurnall's use of Moses as an example of faith: 'It was hard work for Moses to strip himself of the magistrate's robes, and put his hands on his servants head; hard to leave another to enter upon his labours, and reap the honour of lodging the Israelites' colours in Canaan, after it had cost him so many a weary step to bring them within sight of it. Yet, faith made him willing; he saw better robes, that he should put on in heaven, than those he was called on to put off on earth. The lowest place in glory is, beyond all compare, greater preferment than the highest place of honour here below; to stand before the throne there, and minister to God in immediate service, than to sit in a throne on earth and have all the world waiting at his foot.'

I love that.  The lowest place in heaven is far above the highest place the world can offer!

Next week's reading
Continue Direction Eight by reading First Branch of First General Part.

Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.




September 29, 2017

The Christian in Complete Armour - Gurnall - XL - Direction Seventh concluded

Required reading
The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall (Available from Amazon or free here) - Read the Second Doctrine of the Third General Part of Direction Seventh.

My summary
Today we conclude Volume First!

Gurnall completes the third General Part of Direction Seventh with his second doctrine: 'The peace which the gospel brings and speaks to the heart, will make the creature ready to wade through any trial or trouble that meets him in his Christian course.'

Thus, we are given two ways that the gospel prepares souls for sufferings:
(i) by its privileges (being a child and heir of God);
(ii) by its influences (making the Christian unconquerable, filling the heart with love to Christ, self-denial and patience).

What grabbed me
I enjoyed hearing the encouragement to repent of our presumptuous sins that have stolen our peace: '1. Presumptuous sins, these are the thieves that 'break through and steal' the saint's comfort away. When the Christian comes to look into his soul after such a bold act, and thinks to entertain himself, as formerly, with the comforts of his pardoned state, interest in Christ, and hopes of heaven through him, alas! he finds a sad change. There is no promise that will give out its consolations to him—the cellar-door is locked, Christ withdrawn, and the keys carried away with him. He may even cry out with a sad complaint, as Mary when she found not Christ's body in the sepulchre, 'They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.' Thus the Christian may, with aching heart, bemoan his folly, 'My pride, my uncleanness, my earthly-mindedness, they have taken away my treasure, robbed me of my comfort. I could never have a comfortable sight of God's face in any duty or promise since I fell into that foul sin.' And therefore, Christian, have a care of such robbers of thy peace as this. 'The spirit of man' is called 'the candle of the Lord,' Prov. 20:27. Hath God lighted thy candle, Christian—cheered thy spirit, I mean, with the sense of his love? Take heed of presumptuous sins. If such a thief be suffered in this thy candle, thy comfort will soon sweal out. Hast thou fallen into the hands of any such presumptuous sins as have stolen thy peace from thee? Send speedily thy hue and cry after them—I mean, take thy sad moan to God, renew thy repentance out of hand, and raise heaven upon them by a spirit of prayer. This is no time to delay. The farther thou lettest these sins go without repentance, the harder thou wilt find it to recover thy lost peace and joy out of their hands. And for thy encouragement know, God is ready, upon thy serious and solemn return, to restore thee 'the joy of his salvation,' and do justice upon these enemies of thy soul for thee by his mortifying grace, if thou wilt prosecute the law upon them closely and vigorously, without relenting towards them, or being bribed with the pleasure or carnal advantage that they will not spare to offer, so their lives may be spared.'

Repent quickly without delay to find peace in God's arms again!

Next week's reading
Commence Direction Eight by reading up to the First General Part.

Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.



September 28, 2017

On Original Sin in Vol I of the Works - Edwards - XI - Chapter 4 of Part IV

Required reading
The great Christian doctrine of original sin defended in Volume I of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here) - Read Chapter 4 of Part IV.

My summary.
Edwards now finishes the work by answering some final objections to the doctrine of original sin.

The objections are:
(i) that at the restoration of the world after the flood, God pronounced equivalent or greater blessings on Noah and his sons, than he did on Adam at his creation, when he said, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and have dominion over the fish of the sea, &c.;
(ii) that it disparages the divine goodness in giving us our being; which we ought to receive with thankfulness, as a great gift of God's beneficence, and look upon as the first, original, and fundamental fruit of the divine liberality;
(iii) that Scripture reveals of the process of the day of judgment; which represents the judge as dealing with men singly and separately, rendering to every man according to his deeds, and according to the improvement he has made of the particular powers and talents God has given him personally;
(iv) that though in Scripture, action is frequently said to be imputed, reckoned, accounted to a person, it is no other than his own act and deed;
(v) that little children are made patterns of humility, meekness, and innocence;
(vi) that it pours contempt upon the human nature;
(vii) that it tends to beget in us an ill opinion of our fellow-creatures, and so to promote ill-nature and mutual hatred;
(viii) that it tends to hinder comfort and joy, and to promote melancholy and gloominess of mind.;
(ix) that to make men believe that wickedness belongs to their very nature, tends to encourage them in sin;
(x) that it would be unlawful to beget children;
(xi) that the doctrine is no oftener, and no more plainly, spoken of in Scripture.

What grabbed me
I enjoyed Edwards' reply to the notion that the doctrine of original sin should be rejected because it promotes a hatred of humanity: 

'Another objection, which some have made against this doctrine, much like the former, is, that it tends to beget in us an ill opinion of our fellow-creatures, and so to promote ill-nature and mutual hatred.

To which I would say, if it be truly so, that we all come sinful into the world, then our heartily acknowledging it, tends to promote humility: but our disowning that sin and guilt which truly belongs to us, and endeavouring to persuade ourselves that we are vastly better than in truth we are, tends to a foolish self-exaltation and pride. And it is manifest, by reason, experience, and the word of God, that pride is the chief source of all the contention, mutual hatred, and ill-will which are so prevalent in the world; and that nothing so effectually promotes the contrary tempers and deportments, as humility. This doctrine teaches us to think no worse of others, than of ourselves: it teaches us, that we are all, as we are by nature, companions in a miserable helpless condition; which under a revelation of the divine mercy, tends to promote mutual compassion. And nothing has a greater tendency to promote those amiable dispositions of mercy, forbearance, long-suffering, gentleness, and forgiveness, than a sense of our own extreme unworthiness and misery, and the infinite need we have of the divine pity, forbearance, and forgiveness, together with a hope of obtaining mercy. If the doctrine which teaches that mankind are corrupt by nature, tends to promote ill-will, why should not Dr. T.'s doctrine tend to it as much? For he teaches us, that the generality of mankind are very wicked, having made themselves so by their own free choice, without any necessity: which is a way of becoming wicked, that renders men truly worthy of resentment; but the other, not at all, even according to his own doctrine.'

A proper understanding our sinfulness is actually beneficial!

Next week's reading
Read the Preface 'A treatise concerning religious affections'.

Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.

September 22, 2017

On Original Sin in Vol I of the Works - Edwards - X - Chapter 3 of Part IV

Required reading
The great Christian doctrine of original sin defended in Volume I of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here) - Read Chapter 3 of Part IV.

My summary.
Today Edwards continues answering objections to the doctrine of original sin.

The objection dealt with today is that the imputation of Adam's sin to his posterity is unjust and unreasonable.

Edwards's primary observation is the fact that God deals with Adam and his posterity as one.  

He then gives the following answers to the difficulties of this fact

Firstly, 'That appointing Adam to stand, in this great affair, as the moral head of his posterity, and so treating them as one with him, as standing or falling with him, is injurious to them. To which I answer, it is demonstrably otherwise; that such a constitution was so far from being injurious to Adam's posterity, any more than if every one had been appointed to stand for himself personally, that it was, in itself considered, attended with a more eligible probability of a happy issue than the latter would have been: and so a constitution that truly expresses the goodness of its Author.'

Secondly, 'It being thus manifest, that this constitution, by which Adam and his posterity are dealt with as one, is not unreasonable on account of its being injurious and hurtful to the interest of mankind, the only thing remaining in the objection, against such a constitution, is the impropriety of it, as implying falsehood, and contradiction to the true nature of things; as hereby they are viewed and treated as one, who are not one, but wholly distinct; and no arbitrary constitution can ever make that to be true, which in itself considered is not true. This objection, however specious, is really founded on a false hypothesis, and wrong notion of what we call sameness or oneness, among created things; and the seeming force of the objection arises from ignorance or inconsideration of the degree, in which created identity or oneness with past existence, in general, depends on the sovereign constitution and law of the supreme Author and Disposer of the universe.'

What grabbed me
I liked this concluding remark: 'From what has been observed it may appear, there is no sure ground to conclude, that it must be an absurd and impossible thing, for the race of mankind truly to partake of the sin of the first apostacy, so as that this, in reality and propriety, shall become their sin; by virtue of a real union between the root and branches of mankind, (truly and properly availing to such a consequence,) established by the author of the whole system of the universe; to whose establishments are owing all propriety and reality of union, in any part of that system; and by virtue of the full consent of the hearts of Adam's posterity to that first apostacy. And therefore the sin of the apostacy is not theirs, merely because God imputes it to them; but it is truly and properly theirs, and on that ground God imputes it to them.'

If God imputes Adam's sin to his posterity because he views them as one, then the sin of apostacy is indeed theirs.  

As Edwards says earlier: 'But what extreme arrogance would it be in us, to take upon us to act as judges of the beauty and wisdom of the laws and established constitutions of the supreme Lord and Creator of the universe!'

Next week's reading
Read Chapter 4 of Part IV.

Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.


September 21, 2017

The Christian in Complete Armour - Gurnall - XXXIX - Direction Seventh continued

Required reading
The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall (Available from Amazon or free here) - Conclude the First Doctrine of the Third General Part of Direction Seventh by reading up to the heading 'Second Doctrine'.

My summary
This week we continue Direction Seventh, 'And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace'.

Last time we saw the third part of the direction is about 'preparation' and so our first doctrine is to be always prepared and ready to meet with any trial.

Gurnall now expands on this doctrine by giving us three uses:
(i) the Christian must stand shod in readiness to march at the call of God in any way or weather;
(ii) the Christian must be ready to suffer because suffering may overtake you suddenly and because you will receive an inheritance for suffering;
(iii) the Christian must remember the directions that help put on the spiritual shoe (i.e. obey, pray, meditate, resign oneself to the will of God, make self-denial, mortify sin).

What grabbed me
I loved the encouragement to pray for a suffering spirit: 'Second Direction. Pray for a suffering spirit. This is not a common gift, which every carnal gospeller and slighty professor hath. No; it is a peculiar gift, and bestowed on a few sincere souls. 'Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake,' Php. 1:29. All the parts and common gifts that a man hath will never enable him to drink deep of this cup for Christ. Such is the pride of man's heart. He had rather suffer any way than this; rather from himself, and for himself, than from Christ or for Christ. You would wonder to see sometimes, how much a child will endure at his play, and never cry for it—this fall, and that knock, and no great matter is made of it, because got in a way that is pleasing to him. But, let his father whip him, though it puts him not to half the smart, yet he roars and takes on, that there is no quieting of him. Thus, men can bring trouble on themselves, and bite in their complaints. They can, one play away his estate at cards and dice, and another whore away his health, or cut off many years from his life by beastly drunkenness; and all is endured patiently. Yea, if they had their money and strength again, they should go the same way. They do not repent of what their lusts have cost them, but mourn they have no more to bestow upon them. Their lusts shall have all they have, to a morsel of bread in their cupboard and drop of blood in their veins; yea, they are not afraid of burning in hell, as their sins' martyrs. But come, and ask these that are so free of their purse, flesh, soul, and all, in lust's service, to lay their estate or life for a few moments at stake in Christ's cause and his truth's, and you shall see that God is not so much beholden them. And therefore pray and pray again for a suffering spirit in Christ's cause. Yea, saints themselves need earnestly to plead with God for this. Alas! they do not find suffering work follow their hand so easily. The flesh loves to be cockered, not crucified. Many a groan it costs the Christian before he can learn to love this work. Now prayer, if any means, will be helpful to thee in this particular. He that can wrestle with God, need not fear the face of death and danger. Prayer engageth God's strength and wisdom for our help. And what is there too hard for the creature, that hath God at his back for his help, to do or suffer? We are bid to 'count it all joy, when we fall into divers temptations,' James 1:2—not temptations to sin, but for righteousness. He means troubles for Christ and his gospel. Ah! but might the poor Christian say, it were cause of more joy to be able to stand under these temptations, than to fall into them. Little joy would it be to have the temptation, and not the grace to endure temptation. True indeed; but, for thy comfort,Christian, he that leads thee into this temptation stands ready to help thee through it. Therefore, ver. 5, there is a gracious si quis —if any one—set up; 'If any of you'—i.e. you suffers chiefly—'lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.' This, methinks, should not much strain our faith to believe. There are not many masters so disingenuous to be found, that would twit and upbraid their servant for asking humbly their counsel in a work of peril and difficulty, which they cheerfully undertake out of love to their persons and obedience to their command. How much less then needest thou fear such dealing from thy God? If thou hast so much faith and love as to venture at his command upon the sea of suffering, he will, without doubt, find so much mercy as to keep thee from drowning, if, feeling thyself begin to sink, thou criest earnestly as Peter did to him, 'Lord, save me.' Wert thou even under water, prayer would buoy thee up again. The proverb indeed is, 'He that would learn to pray, let him go to sea.' But I think it were better thus, 'He that would go to sea—this I mean of suffering—let him learn to pray before he comes there.' But, if thou beest not a man of prayer before suffering work come, thou wilt be able to do little at that weapon then.'

Far too often we run from the gift of suffering!

Next week's reading
Read the Second Doctrine of the Third General Part of Direction Seventh.

Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.


September 1, 2017

On Original Sin in Vol I of the Works - Edwards - X - Chapter 1 and 2 of Part IV

Required reading
The great Christian doctrine of original sin defended in Volume I of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here) - Read Chapters 1 and 2 of Part IV.

My summary.
Now Edwards proceeds to objections to the doctrine of original sin that he hasn't previously considered.

In Chapter 1, he looks at the charge 'that if we come into the world infected with sinful and depraved dispositions, then sin must be natural to us; and if natural, then necessary; and if necessary, then no sin, nor any thing we are blamable for, or that can in any respect be our fault, being what we cannot help: and he urges, that sin must proceed from our own choice, &c.'

Edwards responds by referring the reader to his other work on the subject but does comment that other great doctrines are clearly subverted by the Arminian notion of freedom and these doctrines are plainly and abundantly taught in the Scripture.

Then in Chapter 2, Edwards focuses on the objection 'that it is highly injurious to the God of our nature, whose hands have formed and fashioned us, to believe our nature to be originally corrupted, and that in the worst sense of corruption'.

Edwards answers that God merely withholds positive influence from humans. Thus 'for God so far to have the disposal of this affair, as to withhold those influences, without which, nature will be corrupt, is not to be the author of sin.'

What grabbed me
I appreciated the description of God's withdrawal of positive influence: 'As, when a subject has once renounced his lawful sovereign, and set up a pretender in his stead, a state of enmity and war against his rightful king necessarily ensues. It were easy to show, how every lust, and depraved disposition of man's heart, would naturally arise from this private original, if here were room for it. Thus it is easy to give an account, how total corruption of heart should follow on man's eating the forbidden fruit, though that was but one act of sin, without God putting any evil into his heart, or implanting any bad principle, or infusing any corrupt taint, and so becoming the author of depravity. Only God's withdrawing, as it was highly proper and necessary that he should, from rebel-man, and his natural principles being left to themselves, is sufficient to account for his becoming entirely corrupt, and bent on sinning against God.'

We are responsible for our corruption, not God.

Next week's reading
Read Chapter 3 of Part IV.

Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.

August 31, 2017

The Christian in Complete Armour - Gurnall - XXXVIII - Direction Seventh continued

Required reading
The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall (Available from Amazon or free here) - Commence the First Doctrine of the Third General Part of Direction Seventh by reading up to the heading 'Use or Application'.

My summary
This week we continue Direction Seventh, 'And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace'.

In the first part of this direction, Gurnall told us what is meant by 'the gospel'.  Then in the second part we learned what is meant by 'peace'.

So today Gurnall gives us the third part of the direction and begins to explain what is meant by 'preparation'.

We learn that the first doctrine is that it is our duty, as Christians, to be always prepared and ready to meet with any trial, and endure any hardship which God may lay out for us in our Christian warfare.  

This is because:
(i) there are reasons taken from Christ, for or from whom we suffer;
(ii) there are reasons taken from the excellency of the frame of spirit which such a holy readiness would import.

What grabbed me
I liked the encouragement to be ready due to Christ's readiness: 'Christ deserves this readiness to meet any suffering he lays out in his providence for us, if we consider his readiness to endure sorrow and trouble for us. When God called him to the work of mediatorship, he found the way laid with sharper stones, I hope, than we do in the road that is appointed us to walk in. He was to tread upon swords and spikes, all manner of sorrows—and those edged with the wrath of God; this was the sharpest stone of all, which he hath taken out of our way, and yet how light did he go upon the ground! O had not his feet been well shod with love to our souls, he would soon have turned back, and said the way was unpassable; but he goes on and blinks not; never did we sin more willingly, than he went to suffer for our sin. 'Lo, I come,' saith he to his Father, 'I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart,' Ps. 40:7, 8. O what a full consent did the heart of Christ rebound to his Father's call, like some echo that answers what is spoken twice or thrice over! Thus, when his Father speaks to him to undertake the work of saving poor lost man, he doth not give a bare assent to the call, but trebles it; 'I come...I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart.' He was so ready, that before his enemies laid hands on him, in the instituting of the Lord's supper, and there did sacramentally rend the flesh of his own body, and broach his own heart to fill that cup with his precious blood, which with his own hand he gave them, that they might not look upon his death now at hand as a mere butchery from the hand of man's violence, but rather as a sacrifice, wherein he did freely offer up himself to God for them and all believers. And when the time was come that the sad tragedy should be acted, he, knowing the very place whither the traitor with his black guard would come, goes out, and marcheth into the very mouth of them. O what a shame were it, that we should be unwilling to go a mile or two of rugged way to bear so sweet a Saviour company in his sufferings! 'Could ye not watch with me one hour?' said Christ to Peter, Matt. 26:40—not with me, who am now going to meet with death itself, and ready to bid the bitterest pangs of it welcome for your sakes? not with me?'

How could we not follow in the footsteps of our Master and Saviour?

Next week's reading
Conclude the First Doctrine of the Third General Part of Direction Seventh by reading up to the heading 'Second Doctrine'.

Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.

August 11, 2017

On Original Sin in Vol I of the Works - Edwards - IX - Chapter 1 and 2 of Part III

Required readingThe great Christian doctrine of original sin defended in Volume I of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here) - Read Part III.


My summary.
This week Edwards teaches us that original sin is shown by Christ's redemption.

In Chapter 1, Edwards says that humans (both adults and infants) must have original sin because Christ redeemed sinners who deserved destruction.

Then in Chapter 2, Edwards demonstrates that the application of redemption implies original sin.  It is shown in the way Scripture describes the Christian experience of:
(i) repentance and conversion;
(ii) circumcision of the heart;
(iii) spiritual resurrection;
(iv) having a new heart and new spirit;
(v) putting off the old man and putting on the new man;
(vi) being created anew.

What grabbed me
I always like the point that if Christ didn't die for sinners, he died in vain: 'If all mankind, in all parts of the world, have such sufficient power to do their whole duty, without being sinful in any degree, then they have sufficient power to obtain righteousness by the law: and then, according to the apostle Paul, Christ is dead in vain. Gal. ii. 21. "If righteousness come by law, Christ is dead in vain;"...And according to the sense in which he explains this very place, "it would have frustrated, or rendered useless, the grace of God, if Christ died to accomplish what was or might have been effected by law itself, without his death." So that it most clearly follows from his own doctrine, that Christ is dead in vain, and the grace of God is useless. The same apostle says, if there had been a law which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law, Gal. iii. 21. i. e. (still according to Dr. T.'s own sense,) if there was a law, that man, in his present state, had sufficient power perfectly to fulfil.'

A denial of sin, is a denial of the Saviour.

Next week's reading
Read Chapters 1 & 2 of Part IV.


Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.

August 10, 2017

The Christian in Complete Armour - Gurnall - XXXVII - Direction Seventh continued

Required reading
The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall (Available from Amazon or free here) - Conclude the Second General Part of Direction Seventh.

My summary
Today we continue Direction Seventh, 'And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace'.

Most of the reading is dedicated to a discussion of the third kind of peace: 'peace of love and unity'.  Gurnall teaches that the gospel:
(i) propounds powerful arguments for peace and unity;
(ii) takes away the cause of feud and enmity.

The use of this third peace is that it:
(i) helps us to think of the peace and love found among the wicked;
(ii) shows the sin of those who abuse the gospel to a contrary end;
(iii) exhorts all saints to nourish peace among themselves.

Then Gurnall briefly considers the peace of indemnity and service that the gospel brings.

What grabbed me
I liked the warning Gurnall gave about disunity and prayer: 'You cut off your trade with heaven at the throne of grace. You will be little in prayer to God, I warrant you, if much in squabbling with your brethren. It is impossible to go from wrangling to praying with a free spirit. And if you should be so bold as to knock at God's door, you are sure to have cold welcome. 'Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift,' Matt. 5:24. God will not have the incense of prayer put to such strange fire; nor will he eat of our leavened bread, taste of any performance soured with malice and bitterness of spirit.'

Our horizontal relationships with brethren have a profound effect our vertical relationship with God!

Next week's reading
Commence the First Doctrine of the Third General Part of Direction Seventh by reading up to the heading 'Use or Application'.

Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.

August 4, 2017

On Original Sin in Vol I of the Works - Edwards - VIII - Chapter 4 of Part II

Required reading
The great Christian doctrine of original sin defended in Volume I of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here) - Read Chapter 4 of Part II.

My summary.
Now Edwards refutes Dr T.'s twisting of Romans 5:12ff to deny original sin.

In Section I, Edwards object's to Dr T.'s teaching that:
(i) death means only temporal death;
(ii) sin entering the world means Adam began transgression;
(iii) causal particles have no bearing on the matter;
(iv) death only means favour, not punishment;
(v) personal sins do not bring mortality
(vi) the free grace of God means restoring mankind to that life which they lost in Adam;
(vii) judgement, condemnation, justification and righteousness should be redefined;
(viii) all men becoming sinners means all men are brought into a state of suffering.

Then in Section II, Edwards look at the general context of Romans 5:12ff, showing that is thoroughly connected with the rest of the book.

What grabbed me
I liked the emphasis Edwards placed on the need to understand original sin rightly when one reads Romans: 'Another thing observable in the apostle's grand scope from the beginning of the epistle, is, that he endeavours to show the greatness and absoluteness of dependence on the redemption and righteousness of Christ, for justification and life, that he might magnify and exalt the Redeemer; in which design his whole heart was swallowed up, and may be looked upon as the main design of the whole epistle. And this is what he had been upon in the preceding part of this chapter, inferring it from the same argument, even the utter sinfulness and ruin of all men. And he is evidently still on the same thing from the 12th verse to the end; speaking of the same justification and righteousness, which he had dwelt on before, and not another totally diverse. No wonder, when the apostle is treating so fully and largely of our restoration, righteousness, and life by Christ, that he is led by it to consider our fall, sin, death, and ruin by Adam; and to observe wherein these two opposite heads of mankind agree, and wherein they differ, in the manner of conveyance of opposite influences and communications from each.'

If we understand our sin, we can understand how marvelous our Redeemer is!

Next week's reading
Read Part III.

Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.
















August 3, 2017

The Christian in Complete Armour - Gurnall - XXXVI - Direction Seventh continued

Required reading
The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall (Available from Amazon or free here) - Continue the Second General Part of Direction Seventh by reading up to the heading 'Third kind of peace'.

My summary
Today we continue Direction Seventh, 'And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace' by looking at uses of the second of peace, which we saw last week is peace of conscience.  

Firstly, Gurnall shows us that the peace of conscience from the gospel reproves three sorts of persons:
(i) papists who deny the peace of conscience;
(ii) those who frame very unlovely images in their own foolish imaginations of the gospel;
(iii) those that think to heal their consciences with other than gospel balm.

Secondly, Gurnall gives characters by which peace of conscience can be known.  It is known by:
(i) the vessel it is poured into, which is a broken heart;
(ii) being obtained in a gospel way, that is a way of obedience and duty;
(iii) its strengthening and restorative effects;
(iv) its strong comfort of the soul.

What grabbed me
I was encouraged by the reminder that peace of conscience strengthens the believer: 'Gospel peace in the conscience is strengthening and restorative. It makes the Christian strong to fight against sin and Satan. The Christian is revived, and finds his strength come, upon a little tasting of this honey; but O what a slaughter doth he make of his spiritual enemies, when he hath a full meal of this honey, a deep draught of this wine! now he goes like a giant refreshed with wine into the field against them. No lust can stand before him. It makes him strong to work. O how Paul laid about him for Christ! He 'laboured more abundantly than they all.' The good man remembered what a wretch he once was, and what mercy he had obtained; the sense of this love of God lay so glowing at his heart, that it infired him with a zeal for God above his fellow apostles.'

Peace from God promotes zeal for God!

Next week's readingConclude the Second General Part of Direction Seventh.

Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.


July 28, 2017

On Original Sin in Vol I of the Works - Edwards - VII - Chapter 3 of Part II

Required reading
The great Christian doctrine of original sin defended in Volume I of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here) - Read Chapter 3 of Part II.

My summary.
Today Edwards focuses on three New Testament texts to prove the doctrine of original sin.

The texts are:
(i)  6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (Jn. 3:6);
(ii) 9 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;  10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:  11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.  12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.  13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:  14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:  15 Their feet are swift to shed blood:  16 Destruction and misery are in their ways:  17 And the way of peace have they not known:  18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.  19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.  20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.  21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;  22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:  23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;  24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: (Rom. 3:9-24);
(iii) 6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.  8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.  10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (Rom. 5:6-10).

Dr. T's arguments are that flesh in John 3:6 refers to man in his natural state while the Romans passages are not universally applicable to all mankind.  Thus Edwards spends his time counteracting these arguments.

What grabbed me
I found today's reading a little laborious and nothing particularly grabbed me - probably because the Romans passages always appear fairly straight forward to me.

I also disagreed with Edwards that 'flesh' in John 3:6 clearly refers to the sinful nature.  As Carson says in his commentary on John: 'The word flesh does not here bear the most frequent freight Paul assigns it, 'sinful nature' or the like. As in 1:14, 'flesh' refers to human nature. The point is that natural, human birth produces people who belong to the earthly family of humankind, but not to the children of God.'

Next week's reading
Read Chapter 4 of Part II.

Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.















July 27, 2017

The Christian in Complete Armour - Gurnall - XXXV - Direction Seventh continued

Required reading
The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall (Available from Amazon or free here) - Continue the Second General Part of Direction Seventh by reading up to the heading 'Use or Application. [A reproof to three sorts of persons.]'.

My summary
Today we continue Direction Seventh, 'And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace'.

Gurnall now teaches us about the peace of conscience.  He considers two particulars to demonstrate the truth of peace of conscience.

Firstly, he inquires 'What is the argument that is able to pacify conscience thoroughly awakened?'  The argument that is able to pacify tells you that your sins are all pardoned and your God is reconciled to you.

Secondly Gurnall examines the power required to apply this argument as to give peace to the conscience.  Ultimately, it is the power of the Spirit of God.

What grabbed me
I liked the vivid description of an unhappy conscience: 'When Adam sinned, he dissolved another manner of jewel than Cleopatra did, he drank away this sweet peace of conscience in one unhappy draught, which was worth more to him than the world he lived in, Heb. 10:2. No wonder that it rose in his conscience as soon as it was down his throat—'they saw that they were naked.' Their consciences reproached them for cursed apostates. That therefore which brings peace to conscience must prostrate this Goliath—throw this troubler overboard —pluck this arrow out of the soul—or else the war will not end, the storm will not down, the wound will not close and heal which conscience labours under. Now the envenomed head of sin's arrow, that lies burning in conscience, and, by its continual boking [to nauseate, to vomit, to belch] and throbbing there, keeps the poor sinner out of quiet—yea, sometimes in unsupportable torment and horror—is guilt. By it the creature is alarmed up to judgment, and bound over to the punishment due to his sin; which, being no less than the infinite wrath of the eternal living God, must needs lay the poor creature into a dismal agony, from the fearful expectation thereof in his accusing conscience.'

A troubled conscience is one of the worst experiences in this world.  Thankfully there is an antidote in the gospel.

Next week's readingContinue the Second General Part of Direction Seventh by reading up to the heading 'Third kind of peace'.

Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.

July 21, 2017

On Original Sin in Vol I of the Works - Edwards - VI - Chapter 2 of Part II

Required reading
The great Christian doctrine of original sin defended in Volume I of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here) - Read Chapter 2 of Part II.

My summary.
Today Edwards examines other parts of Old Testament Scripture that prove the doctrine of original sin.

We see that wickedness is often spoken of in Scripture:
(i) as a thing belonging to the race of mankind (i.e. the world);
(ii) as being man's own in contradistinction from holiness ;
(iii) as belonging to man in his childhood.

What grabbed me
I liked Edwards' closing paragraph about the importance of accepting truth from God's mouth: 'It is fit we all should know, that it does not become us to tell the Most High, how often he shall particularly explain and give the reason of any doctrine which he teaches, in order to our believing what he says. If he has at all given us evidence that it is a doctrine agreeable to his mind, it becomes us to receive it with full credit and submission; and not sullenly to reject it, because our notions and humours are not suited in the manner, and number of times, of his particularly explaining it. How often is pardon of sins promised in the Old Testament to repenting and returning sinners! How many hundred times is God's special favour there promised to the sincerely righteous, without any express mention of these benefits being through Christ! Would it therefore become us to say, that inasmuch as our dependence on Christ for these benefits is a doctrine, which, if true, is of such importance, God ought expressly to have mentioned Christ's merits as the reason and ground of the benefits, if he knew they were the ground of them; and should have plainly declared it sooner, and more frequently, if ever he expected we should believe him, when he did tell us of it? How oft is vengeance and misery threatened in the Old Testament to the wicked, without any clear and express signification of any such thing intended, as that everlasting fire, where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth, in another world, which Christ so often speaks of as the punishment appointed for all the wicked! Would it now become a Christian, to object and say, that if God really meant any such thing, he ought in reason and truth to have declared it plainly and fully; and not to have been so silent about a matter of such vast importance to all mankind, for four thousand years together?'

It is not our place to tell God how he should teach us.  Our place is to receive the truth and believe it.

Next week's reading
Read Chapter 3 of Part II.

Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.