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Thomas Boston – Three Unions In Our Religion

5 Apr
Thomas Boston2-719007

1676-1732. A Scottish Church Leader. One of the twelve Marrow Men.

There are three mysterious unions in our religion. (1.) The substantial union of the three persons in one Godhead. (2.) The personal union of the divine and human natures in Jesus Christ. (3.) The mystical union betwixt Christ and believers, which is that wherein Christ and believers, are so joined, that they are one Spirit, and one mystical body, 1 Cor. 6:17 and 12:13.

~Thomas Boston~

The Whole Works of Thomas Boston: An Illustration of the Doctrines of the Christian Religion, Part 1, ed. Samuel M‘Millan, vol. 1 (Aberdeen: George and Robert King, 1848), 546.

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John Newton – Our Great High Priest

6 Feb

It is a comfortable consideration, that he with whom we have to do, our great High Priest, who once put away our sins by the sacrifice of himself, and now for ever appears in the presence of God for us, is not only possessed of sovereign authority and infinite power, but wears our very nature, and feels and exercises in the highest degree those tendernesses and commiserations, which I conceive are essential to humanity in its perfect state. The whole history of his wonderful life is full of inimitable instances of this kind. His bowels were moved before his arm was exerted: he condescended to mingle tears with mourners, and wept over distresses which he intended to relieve. He is still the same in his exalted state; compassions dwell within his heart. In a way inconceivable to us, but consistent with his supreme dignity and perfection of happiness and glory, he still feels for his people. When Saul persecuted the members upon earth, the Head complained from heaven; and sooner shall the most tender mother sit insensible and inattentive to the cries and wants of her infant, than the Lord Jesus be an unconcerned spectator of his suffering children. No, with the eye, and the ear, and the heart of a friend, he attends to their sorrows; he counts their sighs, puts their tears in his bottle; and when our spirits are overwhelmed within us, he knows our path, and adjusts the time, the measure of our trials, and every thing that is necessary for our present support and seasonable deliverance, with the same unerring wisdom and accuracy as he weighed the mountains in scales and hills in a balance, and meted out the heavens with a span. Still more, besides his benevolent, he has an experimental, sympathy. He knows our sorrows, not merely as he knows all things, but as one who has been in our situation, and who, though without sin himself, endured when upon earth inexpressibly more for us than he will ever lay upon us. He has sanctified poverty, pain, disgrace, temptation, and death, by passing through these states: and in whatever states his people are, they may by faith have fellowship with him in their sufferings, and he will by sympathy and love have fellowship and interest with them in theirs. What then shall we fear, or of what shall we complain; when all our concerns are written upon his heart, and their management, to the very hairs of our head, are under his care and providence; when he pities us more than we can do ourselves, and has engaged his almighty power to sustain and relieve us? However, as he is tender, he is wise also: he loves us, but especially with regard to our best interests. If there were not something in our hearts and our situation that required discipline and medicine, he so delights in our prosperity, that we should never be in heaviness. The innumerable comforts and mercies with which he enriches even those we call darker days, are sufficient proofs that he does not willingly grieve us: but when he sees a need-be for chastisement, he will not withhold it because he loves us; on the contrary, that is the very reason why he afflicts. He will put his silver into the fire to purify it; but he sits by the furnace as a refiner, to direct the process, and to secure the end he has in view, that we may neither suffer too much nor suffer in vain.

~John Newton~

John Newton and Richard Cecil, The Works of John Newton, Vol. 2: Letter IV to Mrs. **** (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824) p. 20-21.

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George Smeaton – Just and Justifier

24 Jan

1814-1889. Scottish minister and Professor of New Testament Exegesis at New College, Edinburgh.

The design or final cause which God had in view in the whole matter of the atonement is next subjoined: that He might be just, and the justifier (Rom. 3:26). The allusion is to the concurrence or harmony of these two perfections of God. The word JUST, applied to God, means that He asserts just claims and inflicts just punishment. It is a perversion of language to interpret the term as if it could mean anything else than justice in the ordinary acceptation of the word among men made in the image of God. The contrast in which it is placed to divine forbearance, and the allusion to the propitiatory, allow no doubt as to its import Justice seemed to slumber during that period of forbearance; now it is displayed.

But this determines the character of the atonement Such language would be unmeaning, if it were not admitted that the atonement is in the proper sense of the word a satisfaction of divine justice. This single clause, therefore, fully warrants the expression in common use, notwithstanding all the objections which have been adduced against it as unfitting or unwarrantable. And when the apostle adds, “that He might be just, AND THE JUSTIFIER,” he alludes to the fact that these two apparently conflicting perfections, justice and grace, meet in full harmony on the cross: justice suffers no violence, and grace has full outlet.

~George Smeaton~

The Doctrine of the Atonement, as Taught by the Apostles (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1870), 142-143.

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George Smeaton – Love Is Prominent in the Atonement

15 Jan

1814-1889. Scottish minister and Professor of New Testament Exegesis at New College, Edinburgh.

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

The atonement is here described as emanating from the love of God. These words of Christ plainly show that the biblical doctrine on this point is not duly exhibited, unless love receives a special prominence; and that it would be a misrepresentation against which the biblical divine must protest, if, under the influence of any theory or dogmatic prejudice, love is not allowed to come to its rights. If even justice were made paramount, the balance of truth would be destroyed.

~George Smeaton~

The Doctrine of the Atonement, as Taught by Christ Himself, Second Edition (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1871), 45-46.

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George Smeaton – The Incarnation as Foundational to the Atonement

3 Jan

1814-1889. Scottish minister and Professor of New Testament Exegesis at New College, Edinburgh.

Having noticed the provision to be made for sin, we come next to the great fact of the Incarnation as the foundation of the whole work of atonement. The Lord’s advent in flesh is uniformly set forth as a means for the accomplishment of a great result: not as in itself an end. Thus, in the Lord’s own teaching, He announces that He came down from heaven for the sake of a people given to Him (John 6:39); that He came to save that which was lost (Matt. 18:11); that He came to give His life for others (Mark 10:45). We may represent the relation between God and man in this way. Between the INFINITE GOD, possessed of all holiness and justice, and MAN, a rebel and infected with sin, there is the widest conceivable remove in a moral point of view. What can bring them together? Who can terminate the estrangement? The INCARNATION of the Eternal Son supplies the answer: this fills up the chasm and paves the way to the rectification of man’s relation. But it is equally necessary to meet the wants and cravings of the human spirit, which ever and anon exclaims: What would become of me if my Maker were not my Redeemer? (Is. 54:5).

~George Smeaton~

The Doctrine of the Atonement, as Taught by Christ Himself, Second Edition (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1871), 39–40.

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Jonathan Edwards – The Excellency of Christ in the Incarnation

31 Dec

1703-1758. Reformed Preacher and Theologian in New England.

Having thus shown wherein there is an admirable conjunction of excellencies in Jesus Christ, I now proceed,
Secondly, To show how this admirable conjunction of excellencies appears in Christ’s acts.

1. It appears in what Christ did in taking on him our nature. In this act, his infinite condescension wonderfully appeared, that he who was God should become man; that the word should be made flesh, and should take on him a nature infinitely below his original nature! And it appears yet more remarkably in the low circumstances of his incarnation: he was conceived in the womb of a poor young woman, whose poverty appeared in this, when she came to offer sacrifices of her purification, she brought what was allowed of in the law only in case of poverty; as Luke 2:24. “According to what is said in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtle-doves, or two young pigeons.” This was allowed only in case the person was so poor that she was not able to offer a lamb. Lev. 12:8.

And though his infinite condescension thus appeared in the manner of his incarnation, yet his divine dignity also appeared in it; for though he was conceived in the womb of a poor virgin, yet he was conceived there by the power of the Holy Ghost. And his divine dignity also appeared in the holiness of his conception and birth. Though he was conceived in the womb of one of the corrupt race of mankind, yet he was conceived and born without sin; as the angel said to the blessed Virgin, Luke 1:35. “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God.”

His infinite condescension marvellously appeared in the manner of his birth. He was brought forth in a stable, because there was no room for them in the inn. The inn was taken up by others, that were looked upon as persons of greater account. The blessed Virgin, being poor and despised, was turned or shut out. Though she was in such necessitous circumstances, yet those that counted themselves her betters would not give place to her; and therefore, in the time of her travail, she was forced to betake herself to a stable; and when the child was born, it was wrapped in swaddling-clothes, and laid in a manger. There Christ lay a little infant; and there he eminently appeared as a lamb. But yet this feeble infant, born thus in a stable, and laid in a manger, was born to conquer and triumph over Satan, that roaring lion. He came to subdue the mighty powers of darkness, and make a show of them openly; and so to restore peace on earth, and to manifest God’s good-will towards men, and to bring glory to God in the highest; according as the end of his birth was declared by the joyful songs of the glorious hosts of angels appearing to the shepherds at the same time that the infant lay in the manger; whereby his divine dignity was manifested.

~Jonathan Edwards~

The Works of Jonathan Edwards Vol. 1 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008), 683. The Excellency of Christ

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Herman Bavinck – The Central Fact of the Entire History of the World

30 Dec

The doctrine of Christ is not the starting point, but it certainly is the central point of the whole system of dogmatics. All other dogmas either prepare for it or are inferred from it. In it, as the heart of dogmatics, pulses the whole of the religious-ethical life of Christianity. It is “the mystery of godliness” (1 Tim. 3:16). From this mystery all Christology has to proceed. If, however, Christ is the incarnate Word, then the incarnation is the central fact of the entire history of the world; then, too, it must have been prepared from before the ages and have its effects throughout eternity.

~Herman Bavinck~

Reformed Dogmatics Volume 3: Sin and Salvation in Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), p. 274.

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John Owen: Christ is God and Man in One Person

28 Dec

1616 -1683. Preeminent English Puritan theologian, pastor, and independent.

QUESTION. It was queried by some, how we may make our application unto Christ; not in general, but under what notion and apprehension of the person of Christ?

ANSWER. Because some seem to apprehend there might be danger in terminating our worship upon the nature of Christ as a creature, I shall give you my thoughts and directions in it. And,—
First. You must observe we are to have no conceptions, in our acting of any duty, towards Christ or about him, but with respect unto his person as he is God and man in one person. It is not lawful for us to have any apprehensions of Christ, to make any application to him, as man only; nor is it lawful for us to have any apprehensions of him as God only: but all our apprehensions of Christ, and all our addresses unto him, must be as God and man in one person. So he is, and so he will be to all eternity. The union is inseparable and indissoluble; and for any man to make his application unto Christ either as God or as man, is to set up a false Christ. Christ is God and man in one person, and no other. So, in all our actings of faith upon him, and applications unto him, we ought to consider him as he was “the seed of David,” and as “God over all, blessed for ever,” in one person.

~John Owen~

The Works of John Owen, ed. William H. Goold, vol. 8: Sermons to the Nations (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, n.d.), 373.

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Charles Wesley – Happy the Place, But Happier Still

26 Dec

1707-1788. English leader of the Methodist movement along with brother John Wesley.

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea” – Matthew 2:1

HAPPY the place, but happier still
The heart where Christ is born:
The heart which He vouchsafes to fill
Need neither sin nor mourn;
No city could with Bethlehem share
The honour of His birth,
But every soul by faith may bear
The Lord of heaven and earth.

~Charles Wesley~

The Poetical Works of John and Charles Wesley, ed. G. Osborn, vol. 10 (London: Wesleyan-Methodist Conference Office, 1871), 142.

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Wilhelmus à Brakel – Joyously Magnify God For the Incarnation

25 Dec


The incarnation is that great work of God in which the wisdom, goodness, power, mercy, and glory of God shine forth in a most excellent manner. What wisdom, goodness, and power is manifested in bringing a sinner back to a holy God by way of the most sublime manifestation of His justice; by a Person who is both God and man; through such a way of suffering; and by leading the sinner to such a felicity in ways which pass all understanding! All this the holy angels observe, and it is an element of their felicity to perceive the perfections of God in the work of redemption revealed by the incarnation. “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God” (Eph. 3:10). Mary perceived all this and said, “For He that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is His Name; and His mercy is on them that fear Him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with His arm” (Luke 1:49–51).

One ought thus to meditate upon the incarnation, in order to discern clearly these and other attributes of God, approving of them with holy adoration and joyously magnifying God with the holy angels, saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14).

~Wilhelmus à Brakel~

The Christian’s Reasonable Service, ed. Joel R. Beeke, trans. Bartel Elshout, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 1992), 513-514.

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