March 24, 2017

Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards in Vol I of the Works - XXVIII - Appendix IV, V, VI

Required reading
Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards in Volume I of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here)Read Appendix IV, V, VI.

My summary.
Today we finish the Memoirs with the final Appendices.

The editor gives a good summary of Appendix IV: 'There are four distinct series of these manuscript Notes or Remarks, which from the handwriting, as well as from other evidence, were obviously commenced by him during his collegiate life, and as nearly as can be judged in the following order. The first, entitled "The Mind," is a brief collection of discussions and remarks in mental philosophy. The second is without a title, and consists of "Notes on Natural Science." The third is entitled "Notes on the Scriptures." The fourth is entitled, "Miscellanies." and consists chiefly of observations on the doctrines of the Scriptures.'

Appendix V is a a list of significant family dates from Edwards' Bible and relatives.

Appendix VI is a list of his published works.

What grabbed me
I enjoyed the point about the need for preachers to be passionate:
'6. Why it is proper for Orators and Preachers to move the Passions—needful to show earnestness, &c. how this tends to convince the judgment, and many other ways is good and absolutely necessary.'

If we are to hit the heart, we must show our own hearts have been hit.

Next week's reading
Read Chapter 1 of 'Dissertation on the end for which God created the world'.

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



March 23, 2017

The Christian in Complete Armour - Gurnall - XXIII - Direction Fifth continued

Required reading
The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall (Available from Amazon or free here) - Read the First Use of Division First of Second General Part of Direction Fifth.

My summary
Now we read Gurnall's first use for the truth of heart as a girdle for the will that covers the Christian's uncomeliness.

Gurnall observes the odious nature of hypocrisy and its hatefulness to God.

Then he gives some aggravations of hypocrisy and outlines things the hypocrite trades in and lays claim to.

What grabbed me
I appreciated the reminder of the relationship of hypocrisy to other sins: 'Hypocrisy cannot so properly be said to be one single sin, as the sinfulness of other sins. It is among sins, as sincerity among graces. Now that is not one grace but an ornament, that beautifies and graces all other graces. The preciousness of faith is, that it is 'unfeigned,' and of love to be 'without dissimulation.' Thus the odiousness of sins is, when they are committed in hypocrisy.'

Hypocrisy compounds the seriousness of other sin.

Next week's reading
Read the Second Use of Division First of Second General Part of Direction Fifth.

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









March 17, 2017

Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards in Vol I of the Works - XXVII - Appendix I, II, III

Required reading
Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards in Volume I of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here)Read Appendix I, II and III.

My summary.
This week we read three appendices that give more information about Jonathan Edwards' ancestors.

Appendix I speaks about:
(i) Richard Edwards (great-great-grandfather);
(ii) William Edwards (great-grandfather);
(iii) Richard Edwards (grandfather);
(iv) Anthony Stoddard (maternal great-grandfather);
(v) Solomon Stoddard (maternal grandfather);
(vi) Timothy Edwards (father - most of the appendix is concerned with narrating his life).

Appendix II is devoted to giving an account of the ministry of Richard Edwards (Jonathan's grandfather).

Appendix III gives a statement of the children (Jonathan's sisters) of Timothy and Esther Edwards.

What grabbed me
I enjoyed reading the account of Richard Edwards in Appendix II.

I liked his way of dealing with heavy problems: 'In all affairs of weight and difficulty, he appeared, in an unusual degree, to commit himself to God, to wait on him for direction and for help, to leave the event in his hands, and then to be at peace. He has sometimes told me, says his son, that when his mind has been much agitated in consequence of some great trouble and perplexity, in which he could see no means of help or relief, so that he could get no rest for a great part of a night, it has been his customary course, to cast it entirely on God, and leave it in his hands; and then, said he, I can at once go to sleep.'

Commit your worries to the Lord and you will sleep far better.

Next week's reading
Read Appendix IV.

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


March 16, 2017

The Christian in Complete Armour - Gurnall - XXII - Direction Fifth continued

Required reading
The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall (Available from Amazon or free here) - Read all Four Inquiries of Division First of Second General Part of Direction Fifth.

My summary
Today we continue to learn about the words: 'Having your loins girt about with truth.'

After seeing its first meaning last week, Gurnall says that it also means we are to have truth of heart - in other words, sincerity of heart.

Firstly, he explains that having the belt of truth means that we have sincerity of heart in all our ways which covers all the Christian's uncomeliness.

Gurnall then answers four inquiries that are made about this sincerity of heart in its covering uncomeliness:
(i) What is that sincerity?;
(ii) What uncomeliness doth sincerity cover?;
(iii) How doth sincerity cover the saint's sinful uncomelinesses?;
(iv) Whence is it that sincerity thus covers the saint's uncomelinesses?.

What grabbed me
I liked Gurnall's summary statement about the importance of the belt of truth: 'The girdle is used as an ornament put on uppermost, to cover the joints of the armour, which would, if seen, cause some uncomeliness. Here—at the loins I mean—those pieces of armour for the defence of the lower parts of the body are fastened to the upper. Now because they cannot be so closely knit and clasped, but there will be some little gaping betwixt piece and piece, therefore they used to put over those parts a broad girdle, that covered all that uncomeliness. Now, sincerity doth the same for the Christian, that the girdle doth for the soldier. The saint's graces are not so close, nor his life so exact, but in the best there are found infirmities and defects, which are as so many gapings and clefts in his armour, but sincerity covers all, that he is neither put to shame for them, nor exposed to danger by them.'

We need truth/sincerity to stop everything falling apart!

Next week's reading
Read the First Use of Division First of Second General Part of Direction Fifth.

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








March 10, 2017

Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards in Vol I of the Works - XXVI - A farewell sermon

Required reading
Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards in Volume I of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here)Read A Farewell Sermon.

My summary.
This week we read Edwards' farewell sermon which he preached at the end of his ministry at Northampton.

In the preface Edwards seeks to correct some gross misrepresentations about the circumstances leading to his farewell sermon.

The sermon itself is on 'As also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus.' (2 Corinthians 1:14)

Edwards' doctrine is that ministers, and the people that have been under their care, must meet one another before Christ's tribunal at the day of judgement.  He seeks to show:
(i) what manner ministers shall meet one another at the day of judgement;
(ii) for what purposes;
(iii) for what reasons God has so ordered it.

In his application, Edwards speaks to:
(i) professors of godliness;
(ii) the Christless;
(iii) those under awakenings;
(iv) young people;
(v) children.

What grabbed me
A very interesting sermon given the circumstances.

I particularly liked the message Edwards had for the Christless: 'You and I are now parting one from another as to this world. Let us labour that we may not be parted after our meeting at the last day. If I have been your faithful pastor (which will that day appear whether I have or no), then I shall be acquitted, and shall ascend with Christ. O do your part that in such a case, you may not be forced eternally to part from me, and all that have been faithful in Christ Jesus. This is a sorrowful parting, but that would be a more sorrowful.—This you may perhaps bear without being much affected with it, if you are not glad of it, but such a parting in that day will most deeply, sensibly, and dreadfully affect you.'

There is a far greater parting between believers and unbelievers yet to come.

Next week's reading
Read Appendix I, II and III.

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

March 9, 2017

The Christian in Complete Armour - Gurnall - XXI - Direction Fifth commenced

Required reading
The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall (Available from Amazon or free here) - Read First General Part of Direction Fifth.

My summary
Today we begin to unpack the words: 'Having your loins girt about with truth.'

Firstly, Gurnall advises us to have truth of doctrine for the mind.

This is necessary because Satan:

(i) comes as a serpent in the persons of false teachers, and by them labours to put a cheat on us, and cozen us with error for truth;
(ii) comes as a lion in the persons of bloody persecutors, and labours to scare Christians from the truth with fire and faggot.

What grabbed me
I appreciated the comparison between the wrath of man and the wrath of God: 'Man's wrath, alas, when hottest, is but a temperate climate to the wrath of the living God. They who have felt both have testified as much. Man's wrath cannot hinder the access of God's love to the creature, which hath made the saints sing in the fire in spite of their enemies' teeth. But the creature under God's wrath, is like one shut up in a close oven—no crevice open to let any of the heat out, or any refreshing in to him.'

I know which wrath I fear more!

Next week's readingRead all Four Inquiries of Division First of Second General Part of Direction Fifth.

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







March 5, 2017

Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards in Vol I of the Works - XXV - Chapter 25

Required reading
Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards in Volume I of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here) - Read Chapter 25.

My summary.
Today's chapter is basically an assessment from the editor about Edwards' character.

From his devotion to the Lord, to his devotion to his children, Edwards is praised as an exemplary man.

The last part of the chapter is concerned with outlining Edwards' contributions to advances in theology.

What grabbed me
I was struck by the comments about Edwards' watch on his tongue: 'He was thought by some to be distant and unsociable in his manners; but this was owing to the want of a better acquaintance. He was not, indeed, a man of many words, and was somewhat reserved in the company of strangers, and of those, on whose candour and friendship he did not know that he could rely. And this was probably owing to two causes. First, the strict guard he set over his tongue, from his youth. From experience and observation he early discovered, that the sins of the tongue make up a very formidable proportion of all the sins committed by men, and lead to a very large proportion of their remaining sins. He therefore resolved to take the utmost care, never to sin with his tongue; to avoid not only uttering reproaches himself, but receiving them, and listening to them from others; to say nothing for the sake of giving pain, or wounding the feelings or reputation of others; to say nothing evil concerning them, except when an obvious duty required him to do it, and then to speak, as if nobody had been as vile as himself, and as if he had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings, as others; never to employ himself in idle, trivial, and impertinent talk, which generally makes up a great part of the conversation of those, who are full of words, in all companies; and to make sure of that mark of a perfect man, given by James, 'if any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able, also, to bridle the whole body.' He was sensible, that 'in the multitude of words there wanteth not sin,' and therefore refrained his lips, and habituated himself to think before he spoke, and to propose some good end in all his words; which led him, conformably to an apostolic precept, to be, above many others, slow to speak.'

Setting a guard over your mouth is always a good way to avoid sin!

Next week's reading
Read A Farewell Sermon.


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

March 2, 2017

The Christian in Complete Armour - Gurnall - XX - Direction Fourth

Required reading
The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall (Available from Amazon or free here) - Read Direction Fourth.

My summary
This week we study the fourth direction from the text: 'Stand therefore'.

Gurnall outlines three duties that are imported in the command:

(i) Satan in his temptations is stoutly to be resisted, not in anywise to be yielded unto;
(ii) it should be the care of every Christian to stand orderly in the particular place wherein God hath set him;
(iii) the Christian must stand and watch, as opposed to sleep and sloth.

What grabbed me
I liked the reminder that it is safer to resist than flee: 'The Christian's safety lies in resisting. All the armour here provided is to defend the Christian fighting, none to secure him flying. Stand, and the day is ours. Fly, or yield, and all is lost. Great captains, to make their soldiers more resolute, do sometimes cut off all hope of a safe retreat to them that run away. Thus the Norman conqueror, as soon as his men were set on English shore, sent away his ships in their sight, that they might resolve to fight or die. God takes away all thought of safety to the coward; not a piece to be found for the back in all God's armoury. Stand, and the bullets light all on your armour; flee, and they enter into your hearts. It is a terrible place, Heb. 10:38, 'The just shall live by faith, but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.' He that stands to it believingly comes off with his life; but he that recoils, and runs from his colours, as the Greek word imports, God will have no pleasure in him, except it be in the just execution of his wrath on him. And doth he not make a sad change, that from fighting against Satan, engageth God as an enemy against him? There is comfort in striving against sin and Satan, though to blood, but none to lie sweating under the fiery indignation of a revenging God. What Satan lays on, God can take off; but who can ease, if God lays on? What man would not rather die in the field fighting for his prince, than on a scaffold by the axe, for cowardice or treachery?'

Never turn your back on Satan!

Next week's readingRead First General Part of Direction Fifth

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






February 3, 2017

Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards in Vol I of the Works - XXIV - Chapter 24

Required reading
Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards in Volume I of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here) - Read Chapter 24.

My summary.
Today's chapter is filled with death.  

We hear about the passing away of:
(i) Aaron Burr (Edwards' son in law and president of Princeton);
(ii) Edwards' father;
(iii) Jonathan Edwards' death (after his acceptance of the presidency at Princeton, he received a small pox inoculation which was unsuccessful);
(iv) Esther Edwards (Mrs Burr);
(v) Sarah Edwards (she died of dysentery, after her trip to look after the Burr orphans).

What grabbed me
Grim reading today, but it was encouraging to see many good Christian responses to death.

I was particularly impressed with Sarah Edwards' letter to her daughter, Mrs Burr, about the death of Jonathan Edwards:

'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 on 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.'

Thankfully, our Heavenly Father never dies.

Next week's reading
Read Chapter 25.


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

February 2, 2017

The Christian in Complete Armour - Gurnall - XIX - Direction Third concluded

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

My summary
Gurnall examines the second argument Paul gives for putting on the armour of God: 'And having done all, to stand.'

Gurnall says that we see here


(i) the necessity of perseverance — having done all;

(ii) the necessity of divine armour to persevere till we have done all;
(iii) the certainty of persevering and overcoming at last, if clad with this armour;
(iv) the blessed result of the saints' perseverance, propounded as that which will abundantly recompense all their pain and patience in the war—having done all, to stand.


What grabbed me
I loved this illustration about the need to act: 'A great captain once smote one of his soldiers for railing at his enemy, saying, that he called him not to rail on him, but to fight against him and kill him. It is not crying out upon the devil, and declaiming against sin in prayer or discourse, but fighting and mortifying it, that God looks chiefly upon. Such a one else doth but beat the air. There are no marks to be seen on his flesh and unmortified lusts that he hath fought. Paul was in earnest. He left a witness upon his body, made black and blue with strokes of mortification.'

Christians are doers, not simply talkers.

Next week's reading
Read 
Direction Fourth.

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





January 27, 2017

Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards in Vol I of the Works - XXIII - Chapter 23

Required reading
Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards in Volume I of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here) - Read Chapter 23.

My summary.
This week we hear about:
(i) Edwards' severe attack of ague and fever;
(ii) Edwards' dissertations on the End for which God created the World and the Nature of True Virtue;
(iii) the war of 1754 with France and its consequences at Stockbridge;
(iv) Mr Hawley and Mr Brainerd's work with the Indians;
(v) Edwards's Treatise on Original sin;
(vi) further opinion from Edwards regarding morality and liberty of the will.

What grabbed me
I appreciated Edwards' comments about the inability of man to repent: 'Fears of hell tend to convince men of the hardness of their hearts. But then, when they find how hard their hearts are, and how far from a proper sensibility and affection in things of religion; they are kept from properly condemning themselves for it, from the moral necessity, or inability, which attends it. For the very notion of hardness of heart implies moral inability. The harder the heart is, the more dead is it in sin, and the more unable to exert good affections and acts. Thus the strength of sin is made the excuse for sin. And thus I have known many under fears of hell, justifying, or excusing, themselves, at least implicitly, in horrid workings of enmity against God, in blasphemous thoughts, &c.'

Fear of hell does not bring about change in a man's life.  A new heart is required!

Next week's reading
Read Chapter 24.


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

January 26, 2017

The Christian in Complete Armour - Gurnall - XVIII - Direction Third continued

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

My summary
Gurnall examines the first argument Paul gives for putting on the armour of God: 'It behoves every one to arm and prepare himself for the evil day of affliction and death, which unavoidably he must conflict with.'

This point has three branches:

(i) the day of affliction and death is an evil day;
(ii) this evil day is unavoidable;
(iii) it behoves every one to provide for this evil day.

In his application of the doctrine, Gurnall particularly exhorts four groups of people:
(i) those that are so far from providing for the evil day that they will not suffer any thoughts of that day to stay with them;
(ii) those who if they think of the evil day yet do so only as so far off that it is to little purpose;
(iii) those who think often of this evil day yet continue in their old trade of sin;
(iv) those who rest in an unarmed condition.

What grabbed me
I was helped by the encouragement to die to this world: 'Labour to die to this life, and the enjoyments of it, every day more and more. Death is not so strong to him whose natural strength has been wasted by long pining sickness, as it is to him that lies but a few days, and has strength of nature to make great resistance. Truly thus it is here. That Christian whose love to this life and the contents of it, hath been for many years consuming and dying, will with more facility part with them than he whose love is stronger to them. All Christians are not mortified in the same degree to the world. Paul tells us he died daily. He was ever sending more and more of his heart out of the world, so that by that time he came to die, all his affections were packed up and gone, which made him the more ready to follow:19 'I am ready to be offered up,' II Tim. 4:6. If it be but a tooth to pull out, the faster it stands the more pain we have to draw it. O loosen the roots of thy affections from the world, and the tree will fall more easily.'

It's hard to leave what you love.

Next week's reading
Read Second Argument of Second 
General Part of Direction Third.

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




January 20, 2017

Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards in Vol I of the Works - XXII - Chapter 22

Required reading
Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards in Volume I of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here) - Read Chapter 22.

My summary.

This week the troubles with the Indian school in Stockbridge come to a close as all attempts to remove Edwards are thwarted and the primary individual leaves.

The reading today is also concerned with:
(i) discussion of other missionary efforts to the Indians;
(ii) the illness of Edwards' elders sons;
(iii) the completion of the 'Treatise on the Freedom of the Will';
(iv) Mr Gillespie's dismissal by the General Assembly of the church of Scotland.

What grabbed me
I was encouraged by Edwards' words of consolation to Gillespie: 'You have some peculiar reasons to rejoice in your sufferings, and to glorify God on account of them. They having been so greatly taken notice of by so many of the people of God, and there being so much written concerning them, tends to render them, with their circumstances, and particularly the patience and meekness with which you have suffered, so much the more extensively and durably to the glory of the name of your blessed lord, for whom you suffer. God is rewarding—you for laying a foundation, in what has been said and done and written concerning your sufferings, for glory to his own name, and honour to you, in his church, in future generations. Your name will doubtless be mentioned hereafter with peculiar respect, on the account of these sufferings, in ecclesiastical history; as they are now the occasion of a peculiar notice, which saints and angels in heaven take of you, and of their praises to God on your account; and will be the occasion of a peculiar reward, which God will bestow upon you, when you shall be united to their assembly.'

In times of suffering, it always helps to keep your eyes on your Father in heaven.

Next week's reading
Read Chapter 23.


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

January 19, 2017

The Christian in Complete Armour - Gurnall - XVII - Direction Third commenced

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

My summary
Today Gurnall begins to expound the words: 'Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.' (Eph 6:13)

He starts with 'Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God', and observes:
(i) why the apostle renews so soon the same exhortation (and what truths ministers ought often to preach);
(ii) that the best of saints are subject to decline in their graces and why we are to seek a recovery of them.

What grabbed me
I appreciated the encouragement to see a sense of corruption as a sign of grace: 'Christian, do not judge grace to be fallen weaker, because thy sense of corruption is grown stronger. This oft lies at the bottom of poor souls' complaints in this case. O they never felt pride, hypocrisy, and other corruptions, so haunt them as now. None knows how they are vexed with these and the like, besides themselves. Now let me ask thee who makest this sad moan, whether thou dost not think these corruptions were in thee before thou didst thus feel them? how oft hast thou prayed as formally, and not been troubled? how oft hast thou stood chatting with the same lusts, and thy soul hath not been laid low before the Lord with such abasement of thyself as now? Deal faithfully between God and thy soul, and tell not a lie for God by bearing false witness against thyself. If it be thus, thou hast rather a comfortable sign of grace growing than decaying. Sin cannot be on the getting hand, if the sense of sin grow quick; this is the concomitant of a thriving soul. None [are] so full of complaints of their own hearts as such; the least sin goes now to their very souls, which makes them think viler of themselves than ever. But it is not the increase of sin in them, but the advance of their love to Christ, makes them judge so. When the sun shines with some power, and the year gets up, we observe, though we may have frosts and snow, yet they do not lie long, but are soon dissolved by the sun. O it is a sweet sign that the love of Christ shines with [such] a force upon thy soul, that no corruptions can lie long in thy bosom, but they melt into sorrow and bitter complaints. That is the decaying soul, where sin lies bound up and frozen, [where] little sense of or sorrow for it appears.'

It is far better to have a sense of sin than no sense of sin!

Next week's reading
Read First Argument of Second 
General Part of Direction Third.

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



January 12, 2017

Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards in Vol I of the Works - XXI - Chapter 21

Required reading
Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards in Volume I of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here) - Read Chapter 21.

My summary.
Today we learn more about the controversy over the Indian schools, including an attempt to remove Edwards in order to remove the school teachers.

But by the end of the chapter, the editor sums up the situation: 'Thus far the individuals, opposed to the Stockbridge missionaries, had met with little success to encourage their efforts. They had looked for help to various sources; to the Indians and to the people of Stockbridge, to the commissioners and to the provincial legislature, to Mr. Hollis and to the Society in London; and in every instance, so far as the result was known, they had looked in vain. The Housatonnucks had refused all intercourse with them. From disgust at their management, a part of the Mohawks had actually retired, and the rest were threatening to retire, to their own country. The people of Stockbridge had, to a man, united against them. The commissioners were equally unanimous, in sustaining the individuals whose overthrow they had attempted. And now, before the provincial legislature, they had made their great and united effort, and had failed. In the mean time, Mr. Edwards was even more firmly established as the Indian missionary, and Mr. Woodbridge as the schoolmaster of the Housatonnucks; Mr. Hawley had not been compelled to resign his place to the son of the resident trustee; the female school had not as yet been secured to his wife, and obviously could not now be, unless secured to her in London; and the stewardship of the three schools was not likely to be conferred on himself. Such was the state of things in the spring of 1753. It looked as though the great struggle was over; and that the party, which had hitherto acted on the offensive, would thenceforward be quiet, from a conviction, that every hostile movement must issue in defeat. The result justified this conclusion.'

In Edwards' correspondence we also learn about:
(i) his interest in other congregations and their ministers (including Dutch churches);
(ii) his family's ill health;
(iii) his old Northampton church's ill health.

What grabbed me
I liked the last paragraph of the chapter: 'On his arrival in Stockbridge, he found this controversy waging, and soon discovered that it was a controversy between the friends and enemies of the mission; between those who aimed at the real welfare of the Indians, and those who endeavoured to use them as instruments of their own private emolument; that one party relied on wealth, and office, and influence, to carry its measures; and the other, on personal integrity, a conscientious discharge of duty, and the protection of God. For a time he avoided taking any part in it; and his own temporal comfort, and the welfare of his family, seemed to require, that he should persevere in the same course. But his conscience forbade it. He must either sit quietly by, and see the charities of the province, of the Society in London, and of Mr. Hollis, diverted from their appointed course, to fill the coffers of private avarice; or he must unite with those who were exerting their whole influence to prevent it. In such a state of things, he could not deliberate, and, through the divine blessing, he and his associates were now permitted to see, that they had not toiled and suffered in vain.'

It always encouraging to see people make a stand for righteousness, regardless of the personal cost.

Next week's reading
Read Chapter 22.


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


The Christian in Complete Armour - Gurnall - XVI - Direction Second continued

Required reading
The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall (Available from Amazon or free here) - Read Branch Fifth of Division Second of Second General Part of Direction Second.

My summary
Now Gurnall explains what is meant by 'in high places'.

His doctrine is that the chief prize for which we wrestle against Satan is heavenly.

Gurnall then gives three uses:

(i) a word of reprrof to four sorts of person (those who are far from wrestling against Satan, who are Satan's instruments, who are negligent in labouring for heaven, who make a great bustle in religion);
(ii) try whether they be heavenly things or earthly thou chiefly pursuest;
(iii) is it heaven and all that is heavenly that Satan seeks to hinder us of? Let this provoke us the more earnestly to contend for them.

What grabbed me
Today's reading was not so much about the joys of heaven as about the hopelessness of worldly pleasures.

I liked this comment: 'What folly then is it to dandle this vain world in our affections, whose joy, like the child's laughter on the mother's knee, is sure to end in a cry at last, and [to] neglect heaven and heavenly things, which endure forever? O remember Dives stirring up his pillow, and composing himself to rest! —how he was called up with the tidings of death before he was warm in this his bed of ease, which God had made for him in flames; from whence we hear him roaring in the anguish of his conscience.'

A pursuit of pleasure in this world always ends with pain.

Next week's reading
Read First 
General Part of Direction Third.

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


January 6, 2017

Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards in Vol I of the Works - XX - Chapter 20

Required reading
Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards in Volume I of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here) - Read Chapter 20.

My summary.
This week we learn about Edwards first year at Stockbridge, particularly his dealings with the Indian school.

We hear about:
(i) Edwards' views on what the Indian children should be taught, including spiritual matters;
(ii) Edwards' consolation to a friend due the loss of her son;
(iii) the financial situation of his family in the early days at Stockbridge;
(iv) the employment of a new school teacher;
(iv) the awful behaviour of the resident trustee of the Indian school and Edwards' attempts to remove his influence.

What grabbed me
Edwards' letter to his sorrowful friend was marvelous.  

It clearly demonstrates how contemplation of Christ can calm the aching heart: 'His loveliness, and his love, have both their greatest and most affecting manifestation in those sufferings, which he endured for us at his death. Therein, above all, appeared his holiness, his love to God, and his hatred of sin, in that, when he desired to save sinners, rather than that a sensible testimony should not be seen against sin, and the justice of God be vindicated, he chose to become obedient unto death; even the death of the cross. Thus, in the same act, he manifests, in the highest conceivable degree, his infinite hatred of sin, and his infinite love to sinners. His holiness appeared like a fire, burning with infinite vehemence against sin; at the same time, that his love to sinners appeared like a sweet flame, burning with an infinite fervency of benevolence It is the glory and beauty of his love to us, polluted sinners, that it is an infinitely pure love; and it is the peculiar sweetness and endearment of his holiness, that it has its most glorious manifestation in such an act of love to us. All the excellencies of Christ, both divine and human, have their highest manifestation in this wonderful act of his love to men—his offering up himself a sacrifice for us, under these extreme sufferings. Herein have abounded toward us the riches of his grace, in all wisdom and prudence. (Eph. i. 8.) Herein appears his perfect justice. Herein, too, was the great display of his humility, in being willing to descend so low for us. In his last sufferings, appeared his obedience to God, his submission to his disposing will, his patience, and his meekness, when he went as a lamb to the slaughter, and opened not his mouth, but in a prayer that God would forgive his crucifiers. And how affecting this manifestation of his excellency and amiableness to our minds, when it chiefly shines forth in such an act of love to us.'

The editor said that this letter 'will probably be regarded as one of the happiest specimens of christian sympathy and condolence, to be found in epistolary writing.'  

I agree.

Next week's reading
Read Chapter 21.


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

January 5, 2017

The Christian in Complete Armour - Gurnall - XV - Direction Second continued

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

My summary
Today we finish examining what is meant by our war being 'against spiritual wickedness' by learning more about sins that the devils do chiefly annoy saints with.

The second sort of spiritual sins are so called from the object about which they are conversant - they concern spiritual objects, not carnal objects.

Gurnall proceeds to give us two types of this sort of spiritual sin:

(i) erroneous principles;
(ii) spiritual pride (including pride of gifts,grace privileges).

What grabbed me
I was helped by the reminder that envying the gifts of others demonstrates contempt toward God: 'When thou enviest the gifts of thy brethren, thou takest upon thee, to teach God what he shall give and to whom; as if the great God should take counsel, or ask leave of thee, before he dispenseth his gifts. And darest thou stand to thy own envious thoughts with this interpretation? such a one thou findest Christ himself give, 'Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?' Matt. 20:15, as if Christ had said, What hath any to do with cavil, at my disposure of what is not theirs, but mine, to give?'

We should delight in the gifts that God has given us and not complain about what he has not given.

Next week's reading
Read Branch Fifth of Division Second of Second 
General Part of Direction Second.

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

December 30, 2016

Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards in Vol I of the Works - XIX - Chapter 19

Required reading
Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards in Volume I of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here) - Read Chapter 19.

My summary.

This week Edwards moves to Stockbridge.

We hear about:
(i) the call to Edwards from the church in Stockbridge and the missionary society;
(ii) the history of the church in Stockbridge;
(iii) the schooling of Indian children at Stockbridge;
(iv) revival in other areas;
(v) reasons for Edwards' break with the Northampton congregation (according to Edwards, pride appears to be the primary reason);
(vi) Edwards' move to Stockbridge (including finding suitable accommodation for his family).

What grabbed me
I was helped by Edwards' introspection for why he was dismissed from Northampton: 'And here I desire it may be observed, that I would be far from so laying all the blame of the sorrowful things, that have come to pass, to the people, as to suppose that I have no cause of self-reflection and humiliation before God, on this occasion. I am sensible that it becomes me to look on what has lately happened, as an awful frown of heaven on me, as well as on the people. God knows the sinfulness of my heart, and the great and sinful deficiencies and offences; which I have been guilty of, in the course of my ministry at Northampton. I desire that God would discover them to me more and more, and that now he would effectually humble me, and mortify my pride and self-confidence, and empty me entirely of myself, and make me to know how that I deserve to be cast away, as an abominable branch, and as a vessel wherein is no pleasure; and, if it may consist with his holy will, that he would sanctify me, and make me a vessel more meet for my Master's use; and yet improve me as an instrument of his glory, and the good of the souls of mankind.'

In conflict, it is easy to lay the blame at the feet of others.  But we should also examine ourselves for unrepentant sin.

Next week's reading
Read Chapter 20.


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

December 29, 2016

The Christian in Complete Armour - Gurnall - XIV - Direction Second continued

Required reading
The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall (Available from Amazon or free here) - Read up to 'Second Sort of Spiritual Sins' of Branch Fourth of Division Second of Second General Part of Direction Second.

My summary
Today we begin examining what is meant by our war being 'against spiritual wickedness'.

Gurnall gives us three doctrines:

(i) the devils are spirits;
(ii) the devils are extremely wicked;
(iii) the devils do chiefly annoy the saints with, and provoke them to, spiritual wickedness.

On the last doctrine, there are two sub points that give the 'sorts' of spiritual sins that the devils use to provoke saints. Today, we only read the first sub point: Sins may be called spiritual from the subject wherein they are acted.

What grabbed me
I appreciated the 'help' that Gurnall gave in guarding our hearts: 'Set a strong guard about thy outward senses. These are Satan's landing places, especially the eye and ear. Take heed what thou importest at them. Vain discourse seldom passeth without leaving some tincture upon the heart; as unwholesome air inclines to putrefaction things sweet in themselves, so unsavory discourse to corrupt the mind that is pure. Look thoubreathest therefore in a clean air. And for thy eye, let it not wander. Wanton objects cause wanton thoughts. Job knew his eye and his thoughts were like to go together, and therefore, to secure one, he covenants with the other, Job 31:1.'

Watch your heart by watching your senses!

Next week's reading
Conclude Branch Fourth of Division Second of Second 
General Part of Direction Second.

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