August 11, 2017

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

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 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 and 3 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.














July 20, 2017

The Christian in Complete Armour - Gurnall - XXXIV - 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 'Second Kind of Peace'.

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

Firstly, in today's reading, Gurnall gives directions to sinners as to how they may be at peace with God.  You should:
(i) see and be sensible of the feud and enmity that at present stands betwixt God and thee;
(ii) propoundest right ends in thy desire of reconciliation with God;
(iii) throw down thy rebellious arms and humbly submit to his mercy;
(iv) hie thee to the throne of grace and humbly present thy request to God that he would be at peace with thee.

Secondly, Gurnall addresses those already at peace with God and exhorts you:
(i) to makest no peace with sin;
(ii) to be reconciled to any that have wronged thee;
(iii) to never distrust his providence;
(iv) to show no discontent at any affliction;
(v) to comfort thyself that thou shalt feast with God ere long in heaven;
(vi) to woo others to embrace the same mercy.

What grabbed me
I appreciated the exhortation to forsake all sin:'Save one lust and you lose one soul. If men mean to go to hell, why are they so mannerly? This halving with sin is ridiculous. Art thou afraid of this sin, and not of a less, which hinders thy peace, and procures thy damnation as sure, only not with so much distraction to thy drowsy conscience at present? This is as ridiculous as it was with him, who, being to be hanged, desired that he might by no means go through such a street to the gallows, for fear of the plague that was there. What wilt thou get, poor sinner, if thou goest to hell, though thou goest thither by thy ignorance, unbelief, spiritual pride, &c., yet led about so as to escape the plague of open profaneness? O sirs, consider but the equity, the honourableness of the terms that God offers peace upon. What lust is so sweet or profitable that is worth burning in hell for?'

All sin is equally fatal and must be abandoned.

Next week's reading
Continue the Second General Part of Direction Seventh by reading up to the heading 'Use or Application. [A reproof to three sorts of persons.]'.

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

June 30, 2017

On Original Sin in Vol I of the Works - Edwards - V - Chapter 1 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 1 of Part II.

My summary.
Now Edwards examines arguments concerning original sin from the first chapters of Genesis.

In contrast to Dr. T.'s arguments, Edwards asserts that:
(i) Adam was created with a principle of holiness in his heart from which his acts flowed - holiness did not flow from Adam's choice;
(ii) the death threatened to Adam included eternal death, not simply losing of life;
(iii) the threats of death do apply to Adam's posterity.

What grabbed me
I liked Edwards' comments that what applied to Adam, applies to his posterity: 'I have now particularly considered the account which Moses gives us, in the beginning of the Bible, of our first parents, and God's dealings with them; the constitution he established with them, their transgression, and what followed. And on the whole, if we consider the manner in which God apparently speaks to Adam from time to time; and particularly, if we consider how plainly and undeniably his posterity are included in the sentence of death pronounced on him after his fall, founded on the foregoing threatening; and consider the curse denounced on the ground for his sake, for his sorrow, and that of his posterity; and also consider, what is evidently the occasion of his giving his wife the new name of Eve, and his meaning in it—and withal consider apparent fact in constant and universal events, with relation to the state of our first parents and their posterity from that time forward, through all ages of the world—I cannot but think, it must appear to every impartial person, that Moses's account does, with sufficient evidence, lead all mankind, to whom his account is communicated, to understand, that God, in his constitution with Adam, dealt with him as a public person—as the head of the human species—and had respect to his posterity, as included in him. And it must appear, that this history is given by divine direction, in the beginning of the first written revelation, in order to exhibit to our view the origin of the present sinful, miserable state of mankind, that we might see what that was, which first gave occasion for all those consequent wonderful dispensations of divine mercy and grace towards mankind, which are the great subject of the Scriptures, both of the Old and New Testament; and that these things are not obscurely and doubtfully pointed forth, but delivered in a plain account of things, which easily and naturally exhibits them to our understandings.'

The curse that came to Adam clearly is upon us too.  And we should flee to Christ as a result, not seek to twist Scripture to remove culpability.

Next week's reading
Read Chapter 2 of Part II.

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













June 29, 2017

The Christian in Complete Armour - Gurnall - XXXIII - 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 'Directions to sinners as to how they may be at peace with God'.

My summary
Today we continue Direction Seventh, 'And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace', by learning further about the peace we have with God.

Gurnall now teaches us about the superiority of our peace when we compare our nature in Christ to its state in Adam.  Unlike Adam, we have:
(i) a superior union with God;
(ii) a superior communion with God.

Gurnall then gives exhortations to the sinner to embrace this peace with God.  The sinner is told to consider:
(i) what it is that is offered thee - peace with God;
(ii) who it is that offers peace to thee - the great God;
(iii) how God offers thee peace;
(iv) what thou doest when thou refusest peace with God.

What grabbed me
I liked the point about the qualifications of a minister of peace: 'Observe the qualifications required in those he employs as ambassadors to offer peace to sinners. 'The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves,' II Tim. 2:24, 25. O how careful is God that nothing should be in the preacher to prejudice the sinner's judgment, or harden his heart, against the offer of his grace. If the servant be proud and hasty, how shall they know the master is meek and patient? God would have them do nothing to make the breach wider, or hinder a happy close betwixt him and them. Indeed, he that will take the bird must not scare it. A froward peevish messenger is no friend to him that sends him. Sinners are not pelted into Christ with stones of hard provoking language, but wooed into Christ by heart-melting exhortations.'

If our God is a God of love, we must be ministers of love or our hearers will not believe.

Next week's reading
Continue the Second General Part of Direction Seventh by reading up to the heading 'Second Kind of Peace'.

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



















June 23, 2017

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

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 I.

My summary.
Today Edwards demonstrates that man is totally depraved because all humans die.

We hear primarily hear that:
(i) the Scriptures repeatedly tell us that death is due to sin;
(ii) although death does have some benefits for humanity, it is not simply a favour to mankind;
(iii) the death of all infants of all nations demonstrates the sinfulness of all humans.

What grabbed me
I appreciated Edwards' affirmation of link death of sin together: 'And the Scripture every where speaks of all great afflictions and calamities, which God in his providence brings on mankind, as testimonies of his displeasure for sin, in the subjects of those calamities; excepting those sufferings which are to atone for the sins of others. He ever taught his people to look on such calamities as his rod, the rod of his anger, his frown, the hidings of his face in displeasure. Hence such calamities are in Scripture so often called by the name of judgments, being what God brings on men as a judge, executing a righteous sentence for transgression. Yea, they are often called by the name of wrath, especially calamities consisting or issuing in death.'

Without sin, there is no death.  So if there is death, there is sin.

Next week's reading
Read Chapter 1 of Part II.

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












June 22, 2017

The Christian in Complete Armour - Gurnall - XXXII - Direction Seventh commenced

Required reading
The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall (Available from Amazon or free here) - Commence the Second General Part of Direction Seventh by reading up to the heading 'Superiority of our nature in Christ to its state in Adam'.

My summary
Today we continue Direction Seventh: 'And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace' by commencing a discussion of what is here meant by peace.  

Gurnall defines peace as''the blessing of the gospel' and we read about the first kind of peace the gospel brings: peace with God.  

Gurnall teaches us about this peace with God by showing us:
(i) the need for peace with God because of the quarrel betwixt God the sons of men;
(ii) that the gospel effects the peace needed between God and men;
(iii) why God effects peace by the gospel.

What grabbed me
I enjoyed the points about why God brought peace to man, particularly this point: 'Indeed, God intended, by this way of reconciling poor sinners to himself, to make work for angels and saints to admire the mystery of his wisdom, power, and love therein, to everlasting. O, when they shall all meet together in heaven, and there have the whole counsel of God unfolded to them!—when they shall behold what seas were dried up, and what rocks of creature impossibilities digged through, by the omnipotent wisdom and love of God, before a sinner's peace could be obtained, and then behold the work, notwithstanding all this, to be effected and brought to a happy perfection—O how will they be swallowed up in adoring the abyss of his wisdom, who laid the platform of all this according to the eternal counsel of his own will! Surely the sun doth not so much exceed the strength of our mortal eyes as the glory of this will their understandings from ever fully comprehending it. This, this is the piece which God drew on purpose, for its rare workmanship, to beautify heaven itself withal.'

God demonstrated his glory magnificently in making peace with us.

Next week's reading
Continue the Second General Part of Direction Seventh by reading up to the heading 'Directions to sinners as to how they may be at peace with God'.

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


















June 16, 2017

On Original Sin in Vol I of the Works - Edwards - III - Chapter 1 of Part I concluded

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 Sections VII, VIII and IX from Chapter 1 of Part I.


My summary.
Now. in Section VII. Edwards demonstrates from Scripture and church history that mankind is depraved because of their:
(i) wicked character (Section VII);
(ii) corruption despite means to restrain sin (VIII).

Section IX is devoted to answering evasions of the arguments for the depravity of humanity.  The five evasions are:
(i) Adam's nature was very far from being sinful; yet he sinned;
(ii) man only make themselves corrupt by their own free choice;
(iii) mankind only sins because of bad examples;
(iv) man only sins because the animal passions get the start of reason.;
(v) by conflict and victory our virtue may be refined and established.

What grabbed me
I appreciated the point about humanity's continual sin despite being given many means of restraint.  

Even from the beginning, this has been the case: 
'Here is a mighty alteration: mankind, once so easy and happy, healthful, vigorous, and beautiful, rich in all the pleasant and abundant blessings of paradise, now turned out, destitute, weak, and decaying, into a wide barren world, yielding briers and thorns, instead of the delightful growth and sweet fruit of the garden of Eden, to wear out life in sorrow and toil, on the ground cursed for his sake; and at last, either through long and lingering decay, or severe pain and acute disease, to expire and turn into putrefaction and dust. If these are only used as medicines, to prevent and to cure the diseases of the mind, they are sharp medicines indeed; especially death; which, to use Hezekiah's representation, is as it were breaking all his bones. And, one would think, should be very effectual, if the subject had no depravity—no evil and contrary bias, to resist, and hinder a proper effect—especially in the old world, when the first occasion of this terrible alteration, this severity of means, was fresh in memory. Adam continued alive near two-thirds of the time before the flood; so that a very great part of those who were alive till the flood, might have opportunity of seeing and conversing with him, and hearing from his mouth, not only an account of his fall, and the introduction of the awful consequences of it, but also of his first finding himself in existence in the new-created world, of the creation of Eve, and what passed between him and his Creator in paradise.

But what was the success of these great means, to restrain men from sin, and to induce them to virtue? Did they prove sufficient?—instead of this, the world soon grew exceeding corrupt; till, to use our author's own words, mankind were universally debauched into lust, sensuality, rapine, and injustice.'

Despite countless warnings and helps, humanity continues to sin.  

Is humanity totally depraved?  Absolutely! 

Next week's reading
Read Chapter 2 of Part I.


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











June 15, 2017

The Christian in Complete Armour - Gurnall - XXXI - Direction Seventh commenced

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

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

Gurnall asks three distinct questions of this direction and the first is the subject matter of today's reading: 'What is meant by the 'gospel'?  

Gurnall teaches us that 'The revelation of Christ, and the grace of God through him, is without compare the best news, and the joyfullest tidings, that poor sinners can hear.'

Then we learn that the gospel has five properties.  It is:
(i) good;
(ii) of some great good;
(iii) intimately concerns those who hear it;
(iv) unheard of and unlooked for;
(v) true and certain.

Then Gurnall gives us some uses of this doctrine;
(i) pity those that never heard word of this good news;
(ii) lament that so good news should have such an ill welcome as the gospel commonly finds in the world;
(iii) unbelievers be persuaded to receive the message of the gospel;
(iv) believers rejoice at the news.

What grabbed me
I liked the encouragement to rejoice in the gospel: 'To believers. You who have entertained the message of the gospel, rejoice at the news. Glad tidings and sad hearts do not well together. When we see one heavy and sorrowful, we ask him, what ill news he hath heard. Christian, what ill news hath Christ brought from heaven with him, that makes thee walk with thy folded arms and pensive countenance? Ps. 132:16. To see a wicked man merry and jocund, or a Christian sad and dumpish, is alike uncomely. 'A feast is made for laughter,' saith Solomon, Ecc. 10:19. I am sure God intended his people's joy in the feast of the gospel. Mourners are not to sit at God's table, Deut. 26. Truly the saint's heaviness reflects unkindly upon God himself. We do not commend his cheer, if it doth not cheer us. What saith the world? The Christian's life is but a melancholy walk. Sure, thinks the carnal wretch, it is a dry feast they sit at, where so little wine of joy is drunk. And wilt thou confirm them in this their opinion, Christian? Shall they have an example to produce Christ and his word, which promise peace and joy to all that will come to this feast? O God forbid that thy conversation, wherein thou art to 'hold forth the word of life'—to live in the eyes of the world—and which ought to be as a comment or gloss upon the word, to clear up the truth and reality of it to others—forbid that this should so disagree with the text, as to make the gladsome tidings spoken of in it, more disputed and questioned in the thoughts of the unbelieving world than before. It is an error, I confess, and that a gross one, which the Papists teach—that we cannot know the Scriptures to be the word of God, but by the testimony of the church; yet it is none to say, that a practical testimony from the saints' lives hath great authority over the consciences of men, to convince them of the truth of the gospel. Now they will believe it is good news indeed the gospel brings, when they can read it in your cheerful lives. But when they observe Christians sad with this cup of salvation in their hands, truly they suspect the wine in it is not so good as the preachers commend it to them for. Should men see all that trade to the Indies come home poorer than they went, it would be hard to persuade others to venture thither, for all the golden mountains said to be there. O Christians, let the world see that you are not losers in your joy since you have been acquainted with the gospel. Give not them cause to think by your uncomfortable walking, that when they return Christians, they must bid all joy farewell and resolve to spend their days in a house of mourning.'

A happy Christian is a good witness to the truth of the gospel.

Next week's reading
Commence the Second General Part of Direction Seventh by reading up to the heading 'Superiority of our nature in Christ to its state in Adam'.

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

















May 26, 2017

On Original Sin in Vol I of the Works - Edwards - II - Chapter 1 of Part I continued

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 Sections III and VI from Chapter 1 of Part I.


My summary.
This week Edwards looks at humanity's propensity to sin due to original sin.

Firstly, in Section III, Edwards demonstrates we have a propensity to moral evil instead of good.

This propensity to sin is:

(i) immediate, continual and progressive (Section IV);
(ii) great in matter and quantity (Section V);
(iii) extremely foolish in matters of religion (Section VI).

What grabbed me
I appreciated Edwards' discussion of love for God: 'They may love God more than other things, and yet there may not be so much love, as there is want of due love; or in other words, they may love God more than the world, and therefore the love of God may be predominant, and yet may not love God near half so much as they ought to do. This need not be esteemed a paradox: A person may love a father, or some great friend and benefactor, of a very excellent character, more than some other object, a thousand times less worthy of his esteem and affection, and yet love him ten times less than he ought; and so be chargeable, all things considered, with a deficiency in respect and gratitude, that is very unbecoming and hateful. If love to God prevails above the love of other things, then virtue will prevail above evil affections, or positive principles of sin; by which principles it is, that sin has a positive power and influence. For evil affections radically consist in inordinate love to other things besides God: and therefore, virtue prevailing beyond these, will have the governing influence. The predominance of the love of God in the hearts of good men, is more from the nature of the object loved, and the nature of the principle of true love, than the degree of the principle. The object is one of supreme loveliness; immensely above all other objects in worthiness of regard; and it is by such a transcendent excellency, that he is God, and worthy to be regarded and adored as God: and he that truly loves God, loves him as God. True love acknowledges him to be divinely and supremely excellent; and must arise from some knowledge, sense, and conviction of his worthiness of supreme respect: and though the sense and view of it may be very imperfect, and the love that arises from it in like manner imperfect; yet if there be any realizing view of such divine excellency, it must cause the heart to respect God above all.'

How far we fall short of the love we owe our Lord!

Next week's reading
Read Sections VII, VIII and IX from Chapter 1 of Part I.


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










May 25, 2017

The Christian in Complete Armour - Gurnall - XXX - Direction Sixth concluded

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

My summary
Today we finish Direction Sixth: 'and having on the breastplate of righteousness'.

Because of the breastplate of righteousness, Gurnall:
(i) encourages us to maintain the power holiness as it is possible to do so;
(ii) rebukes several sorts of persons;
(iii) exhorts the saints to bless God, keep their breastplate on, and be humble when they are holy.

What grabbed me
I was helped by the instruction to meditate upon God's holiness instead of my holiness or that of others: '(1.) Often meditate on the infinite holiness of God. When men stand high their heads do not grow dizzy till they look down. When men look down upon those that are worse than themselves, or less holy than themselves, then their heads turn round. Looking up would cure this disease. The most holy men, when once they have fixed their eyes a while upon God's holiness, and then looked upon themselves, they have been quite out of love with themselves, and could see nothing but unholiness in themselves.'

If you are to be holy as God is holy you must look at his holiness!

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

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