November 16, 2018

Misrepresentations Corrected and Truth Vindicated in Vol I of the Works - Edwards - IV - Part III commenced

Required reading
Misrepresentations Corrected and Truth Vindicated in Vol I of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here) - Commence Part III by reading Sections I to V.

My summary.
Today we begin Edwards' general observations of Mr Williams's way of arguing.

Edwards says that Mr. W. endeavours to support his own opinion, and to confute the book he pretends to answer, by the following methods.
1. By frequently misrepresenting what I say, and then disputing or exclaiming against what he wrongfully charges as mine.
2. By misrepresenting what others say in their writings, whose opinions he pretends to espouse.
3. By seeming to oppose and confute arguments, and yet only saying things which have no reference at all to them, but relate entirely to other matters, that are altogether foreign to the argument in hand.
4. By advancing new and extraordinary notions; which are both manifestly contrary to truth, and also contrary to the common apprehensions of the christian church in all ages.
5. By making use of peremptory and confident assertions, instead of arguments.
6. By using great exclamation, in the room of arguing; as though he would amuse and alarm his readers, and excite terror in them, instead of rational conviction.
7. By wholly overlooking arguments, and not answering at all; pretending, that there is no argument, nothing to answer; when the case is manifestly far otherwise.
8. By frequently turning off an argument with this reflection, that it is begging the question; when there is not the least show or pretext for it.
9. By very frequently begging the question himself, or doing that which is equivalent.
10. By often alleging and insisting on things in which he is inconsistent with himself.

Today we look at just the first five.

What grabbed me
To be honest, this is tedious reading and I skimmed a good bit of it.

I liked this bit about the foolishness of letting tares into the church: 'Besides, if Christ has appointed that unsanctified men should come into the church, in order to their conversion, it would be an instance of the faithfulness of his servants to bring in such. But the bringing in tares into the field, is not represented as owing to the faithfulness and watchfulness of the servants; but on the contrary, is ascribed to their sleepiness and remissness. They were brought in while they slept, who ought to have done the part of watchmen, in keeping them out, and preventing the designs of the subtle enemy that brought them in.—Perhaps some would be ready to make the reflection that those churches whose practice is agreeable to the loose principles Mr. W. espouses, do that at noon-day, in the presence of God, angels, and men, which the devil did in the dead of the night, while men slept!'

We cannot afford to wink at weeds.

Next week's reading
Continue Part III by reading Sections VI to IX.

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

November 15, 2018

Dogmatic Theology - Shedd - I - Chapter 1

Required reading
Dogmatic Theology Vol 1 by William G.T. Shedd (Available from Amazon or free here) - Read the Preface and Chapter I (The true method in theological science).

My summary
Today we begin Shedd's magnum opus.

In the preface he gives a brief outline of the work and the general tradition of his theological beliefs.

Then Shedd begins his theological introduction.  He says there are three principal introductory topics:
(i) true method of theological science;
(ii) plan, divisions and subdivisions;
(iii) nature and definition of theological science.

In Chapter 1, he then proceeds to show that the true method of theological investigation is:
(i) natural;
(ii) logical.

What grabbed me
I enjoyed this encouragement to rely on old authors: 'In drawing from these earlier sources, the writer believes that systematic theology will be made both more truthful and more vital. Confinement to modern opinions tends to thinness and weakness. The latest intelligence is of more value in a newspaper than in a scientific treatise. If an author in any department gets into the eddies of his age, and whirls round and round in them, he knows little of the sweep of the vast stream of the ages which holds on its way forever and forevermore. If this treatise has any merits, they are due very much to daily and nightly communion with that noble army of theologians which is composed of the elite of the fathers, of the schoolmen, of the reformers, and of the seventeenth century divines of England and the Continent. And let it not be supposed that this influence of the theologians is at the expense of that of the Scriptures. This is one of the vulgar errors. Scientific and contemplative theology is the child of Revelation. It is the very Word of God itself as this has been studied, collated, combined, and systematized by powerful, devout, and prayerful intellects.'

For light look to the old sources, particularly the oldest source written by the Alpha and the Omega himself.

Next week's reading
Read Chapter II (Plan, Divisions and Subdivisions).

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


November 9, 2018

Misrepresentations Corrected and Truth Vindicated in Vol I of the Works - Edwards - IV - Part II concluded

Required readingMisrepresentations Corrected and Truth Vindicated in Vol I of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here) - Conclude Part II by reading Sections VIII and IX.

My summary.
Firstly, today, Edwards argues against the notion that moral sincerity is the qualification which entitles, and gives a lawful right, to sacraments.  Edwards says: 'Now sincerity, in the general notion of it, is an honest conformity of some profession or outward show of some inward property or act of mind, to the truth and reality of it. If there be a show or pretence of what is not, and has no real existence, then the pretence is altogether vain; it is only a pretence, and nothing else: and therefore is a pretence or show without any sincerity, of any kind, either moral or gracious.'
Next Edwards examines what Mr W. says about the owning of the covenant by professors.  This includes looking at the admission of ancient Israelites and Jewish Christians into the covenant.

What grabbed me
I liked Edwards' firmness: 'There is no such thing as moral sincerity, in the covenant of grace, distinct from gracious sincerity. If any sincerity at all be requisite in order to a title to the seals of the covenant of grace, doubtless it is the sincerity which belongs to that covenant. But there is only one sort of sincerity which belongs to that covenant; and that is a gracious sincerity. There is but one sort of faith belonging to that covenant; and that is saving faith in Jesus Christ, called in Scripture unfeigned faith. As for the faith of devils, it is not the faith of the covenant of grace.'

If you don't share in God's grace, you have no share in the seals of his grace.

Next week's reading
Commence Part III by reading Sections I to V.


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

November 8, 2018

The Christian in Complete Armour - Gurnall - LXXXIII - Direction Twelfth concluded

Required readingThe Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall (Available from Amazon or free here) - Conclude Direction Twelfth by reading Branch Fourth.


My summary
Today we finish the twelfth direction: "And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak." (Eph. 6:19-20)

The fourth and final branch looks at the double argument of Paul enforcing his request for prayers of believers: 'For which I am an ambassador in bonds.'

Firstly, Paul enforces his request for his people's prayers by an argument taken from his office as an ambassador.  Gurnall looks at:
(i) why ministers are called ambassadors;
(ii) why God would send ambassadors to his poor creatures;
(iii) why he useth weak men and not glorious angels to be his ambassadors.

Secondly, Paul stirs up his readers to pray for him by reminding them of his afflicted state.

What grabbed me

We made it.  A mammoth work completed!

And it was good to the last drop.  

Today I particularly enjoyed this declaration of what God expects from those to whom he sends his ambassadors: 'Now, let us see what he expects at the sinner's hand. Not to purchase this his favour with a ransom out of his own purse! No, he empties his Son's veins to pay that. But he requires us, (a) To lay down the weapons of our rebellion—for he cannot in honour treat with us while we have that sword in our hand with which we have fought against him. (b) To accept our pardon and peace at the hands of free grace; attributing the glory of it to the mere mercy of God as the moving, and Christ's satisfactory obedience as the meritorious cause. (c) That we shall swear fealty and allegiance to him for the future. How reasonable these are, those that now reject them shall confess with infinite shame and horror for their folly, when Christ shall pack them to hell by his irrevocable sentence.'

The King's terms are infinitely good.  We have no reason not to accept them!

Next week's reading
Commence Dogmatic Theology Vol 1 by William G.T. Shedd (Available from Amazon or free here) by reading the Preface and Chapter I (The true method in theological science).

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


November 2, 2018

Misrepresentations Corrected and Truth Vindicated in Vol I of the Works - Edwards - III - Part II continuned

Required reading
Misrepresentations Corrected and Truth Vindicated in Vol I of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here) - Continue Part II by reading Sections V, VI and VII.

My summary.
Mr Williams is still under the knife today.

Edwards takes issues with Williams' assertions that:
(i) unsanctified men may speak true, and profess a hearty consent to the terms of the covenant of grace;
(ii) we may admit members into the church of Christ without and against probability of true piety;
(iii) the Lord's supper is a converting ordinance.
 
What grabbed me
I enjoyed Edwards' appeal to common sense: 'This notion of admitting members into the church of Christ without and against probability of true piety, is not only very inconsistent with itself, but very inconsistent with what the common light of mankind teaches in their dealings one with another. Common sense teaches all mankind, in admission of members into societies, at least societies formed for very great and important purposes, to admit none but those concerning whom there is an apparent probability, that they are the hearty friends of the society, and of the main designs and interests of it; and especially not to admit such concerning whom there is a greater probability of their being habitual fixed enemies. But thus it is, according to Mr. S.'s and Mr. W.'s doctrine, as well as the doctrine of the Scripture, with all unsanctified men, in regard to the church of Christ. They are enemies to the head of the society, enemies to his honour and authority, and the work of salvation in the way of the gospel; the upholding and promoting of which is the main design of the society. The church is represented in Scripture as the household of God, in a peculiar manner intrusted with the care of his name and honour in the world, the interests of his kingdom, the care of his jewels, and most precious things. And would not common sense teach an earthly prince not to admit into his household, such as he had no reason to look upon so much as probable friends and loyal subjects in their hearts; but rather friends and slaves in their hearts to his enemies and competitors for his crown and dignity? The visible church of Christ is often represented as his city and his army. Now would not common sense teach the inhabitants of a besieged city to open the gates to none, but those concerning whom there is at least an apparent probability of their not being enemies? And would any imagine, that in a militant state of things it is a likely way to promote the interest of the war, to fill up the army with such as are more likely to be on the enemies' side in their hearts, than on the side of their lawful and rightful prince, and his faithful soldiers and subjects.'

You don't knowingly admit a fox into the hen house so why don't you treat God's house with even greater sensitivity?

Next week's reading
Conclude Part II by reading Sections VIII and IX.

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