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Thomas Watson – Gospel Piety + Moral Equity

21 May

(c. 1620 – 1686) an English, Nonconformist, Puritan preacher and author.

A good Christian makes gospel piety and moral equity kiss each other. Herein some discover their hypocrisy: they will obey God in some things which are more facile, and may raise their repute; but other things they leave undone. “One thing is lacking,” Mark 20:21. Herod would hear John Baptist, but not leave his incest. Some will pray, but not give alms; others will give alms, but not pray. “Ye tithes of mint and annise, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith.” Matt. 22:23. The badger has one foot shorter than the other; so these are shorter in some duties than in others. God likes not such partial servants, who will do some part of the work he sets them about, and leave the other undone.

~Thomas Watson~


A Complete Body of Divinity (Vestavia Hills, AL; Solid Ground Christian Books; 2016), 222-223.

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B.B. Warfield – Christ’s Self-Sacrifice and Our’s

5 May
1851-1921. Reformed Theologian in America and Principle of Princeton Seminary in the line of Charles Hodge.

1851-1921. Reformed Theologian in America and Principle of Princeton Seminary in the line of Charles Hodge.

Our self-abnegation is thus not for our own sake, but for the sake of others. And thus it is not to mere self-denial that Christ calls us, but specifically to self-sacrifice: not to unselfing ourselves, but to unselfishing ourselves. Self-denial for its own sake is in its very nature ascetic, monkish. It concentrates our whole attention on self—self-knowledge, self-control—and can therefore eventuate in nothing other than the very apotheosis of selfishness. At best it succeeds only in subjecting the outer self to the inner self, or the lower self to the higher self; and only the more surely falls into the slough of self-seeking, that it partially conceals the selfishness of its goal by refining its ideal of self and excluding its grosser and more outward elements. Self-denial, then, drives to the cloister; narrows and contracts the soul; murders within us all innocent desires, dries up all the springs of sympathy, and nurses and coddles our self-importance until we grow so great in our own esteem as to be careless of the trials and sufferings, the joys and aspirations, the strivings and failures and successes of our fellow-men. Self-denial, thus understood, will make us cold, hard, unsympathetic,—proud, arrogant, self-esteeming,—fanatical, overbearing, cruel. It may make monks and Stoics,—it cannot make Christians.

It is not to this that Christ’s example calls us. He did not cultivate self, even His divine self: He took no account of self. He was not led by His divine impulse out of the world, driven back into the recesses of His own soul to brood morbidly over His own needs, until to gain His own seemed worth all sacrifice to Him. He was led by His love for others into the world, to forget Himself in the needs of others, to sacrifice self once for all upon the altar of sympathy. Self-sacrifice brought Christ into the world. And self-sacrifice will lead us, His followers, not away from but into the midst of men. Wherever men suffer, there will we be to comfort. Wherever men strive, there will we be to help. Wherever men fail, there will be we to uplift. Wherever men succeed, there will we be to rejoice. Self-sacrifice means not indifference to our times and our fellows: it means absorption in them. It means forgetfulness of self in others. It means entering into every man’s hopes and fears, longings and despairs: it means manysidedness of spirit, multiform activity, multiplicity of sympathies. It means richness of development. It means not that we should live one life, but a thousand lives,—binding ourselves to a thousand souls by the filaments of so loving a sympathy that their lives become ours. It means that all the experiences of men shall smite our souls and shall beat and batter these stubborn hearts of ours into fitness for their heavenly home. It is, after all, then, the path to the highest possible development, by which alone we can be made truly men. Not that we shall undertake it with this end in view. This were to dry up its springs at their source. We cannot be self-consciously self-forgetful, selfishly unselfish. Only, when we humbly walk this path, seeking truly in it not our own things but those of others, we shall find the promise true, that he who loses his life shall find it. Only, when, like Christ, and in loving obedience to His call and example, we take no account of ourselves, but freely give ourselves to others, we shall find, each in his measure, the saying true of himself also: “Wherefore also God hath highly exalted him.” The path of self-sacrifice is the path to glory.

~B.B. Warfield~

“Imitating the Incarnation,” The Person and Work of Christ, (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed Books, 2950), 574.

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James Durham – Duty to God and Man

14 Apr

Our Lord Jesus sums up the whole law in these two words, which he calls the two great commandments (Matt. 22:37) — Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbor as thyself — the two legs that piety and practice walk upon. The one comprehends our duty to God, which runs through all the ten commands, but does more eminently exert itself in the first four, whereof we have spoken. The other contains our duty to our neighbor, which is set down more particularly in the last six commands, whereof we are now to speak. And however many do ignorantly and wickedly look on duty to man as somewhat extrinsic to religion and duty to God, yet both have the same authority, both are put in one sum of the law, both are written on tables of stone with the Lord’s own finger, and put within the ark. And therefore we ought with a proportionable care to enquire what God requires of us as duty to others, as well as to himself; and we should make no less conscience of obedience to the one than to the other.

~James Durham~

A Practical Exposition of the Ten Commandments, (Dallas, TX: Naphtali Press, 2002), 291.

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John Owen: The Holy Spirit and Conviction of Sin

26 Jun

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

The principal efficient cause of this work [conviction of sin] is the Holy Ghost; the preaching of the word, especially of the law, being the instrument which be maketh use of therein. The knowledge of sin is by the law, both the nature, guilt, and curse belonging to it, Rom. 7:7. There is, therefore, no conviction of sin but what consists in an emanation of light, and knowledge from the doctrine of the law, with an evidence of its power and a sense of its curse. Other means, as afflictions, dangers, sicknesses, fears, disappointments, may be made use of to excite, stir up, and put an edge upon the minds and affections of men; yet it is, by one means or other, from the law of God that such a discovery is made of sin unto them, and such a sense of it wrought upon them, as belong unto this work of conviction. But it is the Spirit of God alone that is the principal efficient cause of it, for he works these effects on the minds of men. God takes it upon himself, as his own work, to “reprove men, arid set their sins in order before their eyes,” Ps 50:21. And that this same work is done immediately by the Spirit is expressly declared, John 16:8. He alone it is who makes all means effectual unto this end and purpose. Without his especial and immediate actings on us to this end, we may hear the law preached all the days of our lives and not be once affected with it.

~John Owen~

A Discourse Concerning the Holy Spirit, The Works of John Owen, Volume 3 (ed. William H. Goold, Edinburgh: T&T Clark, n.d.), 351-352.

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John Calvin – All Truth is God’s Truth

23 Jun


As truth is most precious, so all men confess it to be so. And yet, since God alone is the source of all good, you must not doubt, that whatever truth you anywhere meet with, proceeds from Him, unless you would be doubly ungrateful to Him;

~John Calvin~

Letter CCXXXVI.—TO BUCER, Letters of John Calvin, Volume 2 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009), 198–199.

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Theodore S. Wright – Prejudice and Discouragement

22 Jun

1797-1847. Attended Princeton Theological Seminary. Pastored First Colored Presbyterian Church of New York.

But, sir, this prejudice goes farther. It debars men from heaven. While, sir, this slavery cuts off the colored portion of the community from religious privileges, men are made infidels. What, they demand, is your Christianity? How do you regard your brethren? How do you treat them at the Lord’s table? Where is your consistency in talking about the heathen; traversing the ocean to circulate the Bible everywhere, while you frown upon them at your door? These things meet us, and weigh down our spirits.

~Theodore S. Wright~

The Black Abolitionist Papers Volume III: The United States, 1830-1846 Edited by C. Peter Ripley (Chapel Hill, NC; The University of North Carolina Press, 1991), 185.

The Black Abolitionist Papers, Volumes I-V

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John Calvin – On the Golden Rule

19 Jun


So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12 ESV)

It is an exhortation to his [Christ’s] disciples to be just, and contains a short and simple definition of what justice means. We are here informed, that the only reason why so many quarrels exist in the world, and why men inflict so many mutual injuries on each other, is, that they knowingly and willingly trample justice under their feet, while every man rigidly demands that it shall be maintained towards himself.

Where our own advantage is concerned, there is not one of us, who cannot explain minutely and ingeniously what ought to be done. And since every man shows himself to be a skilful teacher of justice for his own advantage, how comes it, that the same knowledge does not readily occur to him, when the profit or loss of another is at stake, but because we wish to be wise for ourselves only, and no man cares about his neighbours? What is more, we maliciously and purposely shut our eyes upon the rule of justice, which shines in our hearts. Christ therefore shows, that every man may be a rule of acting properly and justly towards his neighbours, if he do to others what he requires to be done to him. He thus refutes all the vain pretences, which men contrive for hiding or disguising their injustice. Perfect justice would undoubtedly prevail among us, if we were as faithful in learning active charity, (if we may use the expression,) as we are skilful in teaching passive charity.

~John Calvin~

Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke, vol. 1 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 355–356.

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Abraham Kuyper – Particular, Covenant, and Common Grace

8 Jun

1837-1920. Dutch pastor, theologian, politician, and Prime Minister of the Netherlands.

Particular grace deals with the individual, the person to be saved, with the individual entering glory. And with this individual, as child of God, we cannot wrap the golden chain of redemption around his soul unless that golden chain descends from personal, sovereign election.

For that reason, the almighty sovereignty of God, who elects whom he will and rejects those to whom he does not show mercy, remains the heart of the church, the cor ecclesiae, which the Reformed churches must hold firmly until the return of the Lord. The consequence of forsaking this truth would be their vanishing from the earth, even prior to the Maranatha. This doctrine is and remains, therefore, the heart of our confession. This is the testimony that, on the authority of God’s Word, sealed by our personal experience, we shout aloud for all to hear: grace is particular.

Nevertheless, that same child of God is something other than an isolated individual limited to himself. This individual is also part of a community, member of a body, participant in a group identity, enclosed within an organism. The doctrine of the covenant emphasizes and does justice to this truth.

Without the doctrine of the covenant, the doctrine of election is mutilated, and the frightening lack of the assurance of faith is the valid punishment resulting from this mutilation of the truth. If separated from the confession of the covenant, election in isolation attempts to take hold of the Holy Spirit without honoring God the Son. The Third Person in the Trinity does not allow that violation of the honor of the Second Person. Christ himself testified that the Holy Spirit “will take what is mine and declare it to you” [John 16:14]. Anyone who presumes to trample upon this divine ordinance will not escape the severe anguish with which this unshakeable ordinance wreaks its misery of soul.

Therefore, in Holy Scripture this sovereign, personal election never appears in any other manner but within the context of covenant grace. The individual, this single soul, must experience being incorporated into the community of the saints. We are elected personally, but together we are branches of the one Vine, members of the same body. For that reason, the confession of particular, personal grace is untrue and unscriptural unless it arises within the context of the covenant.

However, this is not the end of the matter.

The divine covenant in the Mediator in turn has its background in the work of original creation, in the existence of the world, and in the life of our human race. As individuals God’s children belong to the community of the saints. But that community of saints also consists of the children of men, born of a woman by the will of man. Consequently they are interwoven and interconnected with all of human living that originated in paradise and continues in its misshapen form even after humanity’s fall from God.

Neither our election nor our attachment to the community of saints negates our common humanity, nor removes our participation in the life of family, homeland, or world.

Therefore, we need to consider not two, but three aspects: first, our personal life; second, our incorporation into the body of Christ; and third, our existence as human beings (that is, our origin by human birth, our membership in the human race).

~Abraham Kuyper~

Common Grace, Volume 1: God’s Gifts for a Fallen World: The Historical Section. Edited by Jordan J. Ballor, Melvin Flikkema, and Stephen J. Grail. Translated by Nelson D. Kloosterman and Ed M. van der Maas. Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press; Acton Institute, 2015), 2-3.

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Abraham Kuyper – The Goal of My Work on Common Grace

2 Jun

1837-1920. Dutch pastor, theologian, politician, and even Prime Minister of the Netherlands. Founded the Free University of Amsterdam, formed the Anti-Revolutionary Party. Known for his lectures “On Calvinism” and his views on Common Grace.

If God is sovereign, then his lordship must extend over all of life, and it cannot be restricted to the walls of the church or within the Christian orbit. The non-Christian world has not been handed over to Satan, nor surrendered to fallen humanity, nor consigned to fate. God’s sovereignty is great and all-dominating in the life of that unbaptized world as well. Therefore Christ’s church on earth and God’s children cannot simply retreat from this life. If the believer’s God is at work in this world, then in this world the believer’s hand must take hold of the plow, and the name of the Lord must be glorified in that activity as well…

Spiritual isolation and ecclesiastical isolation are equally anti-Reformed. This work will have achieved the goal I have envisioned only when it ends such isolation without, God forbid, tempting believers to lose themselves in that world, a world that may not hold dominion over us, but rather a world within which we in the power of God must exercise dominion.

~Abraham Kuyper~

Common Grace, Volume 1: God’s Gifts for a Fallen World: The Historical Section. Edited by Jordan J. Ballor, Melvin Flikkema, and Stephen J. Grail. Translated by Nelson D. Kloosterman and Ed M. van der Maas. Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press; Acton Institute, 2015), xxxvi–xxxvii.

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Geerhardus Vos – The Eschatological Complexion of Paul’s Theology

16 May

1862-1949. Dutch Reformed pastor who became professor of Biblical Theology at Princeton Seminary. Known as the father of Reformed Biblical Theology.

By giving the soteric movement this cosmical setting it claims for it the significance of a central world-process, around the core of which all happenings in the course of time group themselves. By this one stroke order is brought into the disconnected multitudinousness of events. The eschatology, without losing touch with history, nevertheless, owing to the large sweep of its historical reach, becomes philosophico-theological. It no longer forms one item in the sum-total of revealed teaching, but draws within its circle as correlated and eschatologically-complexioned parts practically all of the fundamental tenets of Pauline Christianity… It will appear throughout that to unfold the Apostle’s eschatology means to set forth his theology as a whole.

~Geerhardus Vos~

The Pauline Eschatology (Princeton, NJ; Geerhardus Vos, 1930), p. 11.

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