28 World evangelism
33 Singing Psalms
34 Singing Psalms (Sacraments)
35 Singing Psalms
36 Singing Psalms
37 Singing Psalms
40 Animal suffering
41 Psalm 84:10
44 Church discipline
45 John the Baptist in Luke
47 Annunciation to Mary
48 Luke 2 and Providence
49 Lord's Supper
50 Psalm 119:89
51 Heaven and the cross
I also made a visit to my favourite Christian bookshop where I bought several books. These were
A biography of Katherine Parr by a Christian called Brandon Withrow
Keller on Counterfeit gods
The festschrift for Dick Gaffin Resurrection and Eschatology
Hugh Martin's Abiding Presence
I also bought a Family Pilgrim's Progress. We have it in Welsh but not English and I want to use it for a series with the children next year.
The certainty which it requires must be full and decisive, as is usual in regard to matters ascertained and proved. So deeply rooted in our hearts is unbelief, so prone are we to it, that while all confess with the lips that God is faithful, no man ever believes it without an arduous struggle. Especially when brought to the test, we by our wavering betray the vice which lurked within. Nor is it without cause that the Holy Spirit bears such distinguished testimony to the authority of God, in order that it may cure the disease of which I have spoken, and induce us to give full credit to the divine promises: "The words of the Lord" (says David, Ps. 12: 6) "are pure words, as silver tried in a furnace of earth purified seven times:" "The word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him," (Ps. 18: 30.) And Solomon declares the same thing almost in the same words, "Every word of God is pure," (Prov. 30: 5.) But further quotation is superfluous, as the 119th Psalm is almost wholly occupied with this subject. Certainly, whenever God thus recommends his word, he indirectly rebukes our unbelief, the purport of all that is said being to eradicate perverse doubt from our hearts.
Now our blockishness arises from the fact that our minds, stunned by the empty dazzlement of riches, power, and honours, become so deadened that they can see no farther. The heart also, occupied with avarice, ambition, and lust, is so weighed down that it cannot rise up higher. In fine, the whole soul, enmeshed in the allurements of the flesh, seeks its happiness on earth. To counter this evil the Lord instructs his followers in the vanity of the present life by continual proof of its miseries . . .
Then only do we rightly advance in the discipline of the cross, when we learn that this life, judged by itself, is troubled, turbulent, unhappy in countless ways, and in no respect clearly happy; that all those things which are judged to be its goods are uncertain, fleeting, vain, and vitiated by many intermingled evils. From this, at the same time, we conclude that in this life we are to seek and hope for nothing but struggle; when we think of our crown, we are to raise our eyes to heaven. For this we must believe: that the mind is never seriously aroused to desire and ponder the life to come unless it be previously imbued with contempt for the present life.
Now, should any one ask me as to the mode, I will not be ashamed to confess that it is too high a mystery either for my mind to comprehend or my words to express; and to speak more plainly, I rather feel than understand it. The truth of God, therefore, in which I can safely rest, I here embrace without controversy. He declares that his flesh is the meat, his blood the drink, of my soul; I give my soul to him to be fed with such food. In his sacred Supper he bids me take, eat, and drink his body and blood under the symbols of bread and wine. I have no doubt that he will truly give and I receive.
1 Christ in all the Scriptures
3 Christain freedom
4 The third use of the law
6 Mt 6.13 Lead us not into temptation
8 Women as homemakers
9 Preaching and death
10 God's repentance
13 2 Peter 1:4
14 Galatians 2:20
15 Christ all in all
16 Life's dangers
17 Life's troubles
19/20 Preface to commentary on Psalms
21 Galatians 1:11-14
22 Inventory of relics
23 Luke 10:13
24 Against the Libertines
25 Return to Geneva
Dwyt ti'm yn cofio Macsen,
Does neb yn ei nabod o;
Mae mil a chwe chant o flynyddoedd
Yn amser rhy hir i'r co';
Pan aeth Magnus Maximus o Gymru
Yn y flwyddyn tri-chant-wyth-tri,
A'n gadael yn genedl gyfan
A heddiw: wele ni!
Ry'n ni yma o hyd, x2
Er gwaetha pawb a phopeth, x3
Ry'n ni yma o hyd, x2
Er gwaetha pawb a phopeth,x3
Ry'n ni yma o hyd.
This translates thus
You don't remember Macsen,
nobody knows him;
Sixteen hundred years
Is too long to remember;
Magnus Maximus left Wales
In the year 383
Leaving us a proper nation
And today - look at us!
We're still here x2
Despite everyone and everything x3
We're still here x2
Despite everyone and everything x3
We're still here.
The whole story is here.
Thus we see that the holy servants of God, even though they wander from their design, unconscious where they are going, still keep the right path, because God directs their steps. Nor is the Providence of God less wonderful in employing the mandate of a tyrant to draw Mary from home, that the prophecy may be fulfilled. God had marked out by his prophet — as we shall afterwards see — the place where he determined that his Son should be born. If Mary had not been constrained to do otherwise, she would have chosen to bring forth her child at home. Augustus orders a registration to take place in Judea, and each person to give his name, that they may afterwards pay an annual tax, which they were formerly accustomed to pay to God. Thus an ungodly man takes forcible possession of that which God was accustomed to demand from his people. It was, in effect, reducing the Jews to entire subjection, and forbidding them to be thenceforth reckoned as the people of God.
Matters have been brought, in this way, to the last extremity, and the Jews appear to be cut off and alienated for ever from the covenant of God. At that very time does God suddenly, and contrary to universal expectation, afford a remedy. What is more, he employs that wicked tyranny for the redemption of his people. For the governor, (or whoever was employed by Caesar for the purpose,) while he executes the commission entrusted to him, is, unknown to himself, God’s herald, to call Mary to the place which God had appointed. And certainly Luke’s whole narrative may well lead believers to acknowledge, that Christ was led by the hand of God "from his mother’s belly" (Psa 22:10). Nor is it of small consequence to the certainty of faith to know, that Mary was drawn suddenly, and contrary to her own intention, to Bethlehem, that "out of it might come forth" (Mic 5:2) the Redeemer, as he had been formerly promised.
The treasure of this mystery was committed by him to a virgin in such a manner, that at length, when the proper time came, it might be communicated to all the godly. It was, I own, a mean kind of guardianship; but whether for trying the humility of faith, or restraining the pride of the ungodly, it was the best adapted. Let us learn, even when the reason does not immediately appear, to submit modestly to God, and let us not be ashamed to receive instruction from her who carried in her womb Christ the eternal "wisdom of God" (1Cor 1:24). There is nothing which we should more carefully avoid than the proud contempt that would deprive us of the knowledge of the inestimable secret, which God has purposely "hid from the wise and prudent, and revealed " to the humble and "to babes" (Luk 10:21).
Commandments and ordinances differ thus. The latter term relates strictly to exercises of piety and of divine worship; the latter is more general, and extends both to the worship of God and to the duties of charity. ... Now, though hypocrites, in that (one) respect, are very careful and exact, they do not at all resemble Zacharias and Elisabeth.
Luke very properly begins his Gospel with John the Baptist, just as a person who was going to speak about the daylight would commence with the dawn. For, like the dawn, he went before the Sun of Righteousness, which was shortly to arise. Others also mention him, but they bring him forward as already discharging his office. Luke secures our respect for him, while he is yet unborn, by announcing the miracles of divine power which took place at the earliest period of his existence, and by showing that he had a commission from heaven to be a prophet, ere it was possible for men to know what would be his character. His object was that John might afterwards be heard with more profound veneration, when he should come forth invested with a public office to exhibit the glory of Christ.
O, Kerstnacht, schoner dan de daegen, sung here by Thijs Van Leer as part of the Hamburger Concerto, is a traditional Dutch Christmas song based on a text from Joost Van Den Vondel's 1623 drama De Gijsbrecht van Aemstel. It was also used at Christmas in 1637 (during the opening of the Amsterdam Schouwburg) and features in a scene concerning the slaughter of the innocents of Bethlehem. We featured the tune a little while back.
O Christmas Eve, more beautiful than the days,
How can Herod bear the Light,
That shines in your darkness,
And is celebrated and worshipped?
His pride listens to no reason,
No matter how shrilly it sounds in his ears.
He tries to destroy the Innocent One
By murdering innocent souls,
And wakens a weeping in both city and land,
In Bethlehem and on the fields,
And wakes the spirit of Rachel,
Which wanders through meadow and pasture.
John Edmonds, pastor of the Pontrhydyrun church, led the service. John began with Scripture verses and prayer then we sang How great Thou art. He then read part of Psalm 25, which was very helpful.
Using material we had supplied and his own knowledge, John sketched my dad's life from his birth in 1929 through to those last months when he knew he was going to die. John explained how he at least became convinced that my dad came to trust in Christ. He was at pains to make clear that it wasn't that dad was a good bloke after all or that it is easy to come to faith at the end. I found a lot of help in what he said. Since I became a Christian I have tried to pray for my dad and I think it is right now that I must believe that God answered my prayers (and those of others) for him as for my sister and mother.
My Uncle John spoke next. He was understandably emotional and failed to stick to anything prepared. His main point was that my dad had a power to cheer people up when he came into a room, which is very true. John then went on to thank individuals for coming - family members, my father-in-law who he recognised from my wedding. When his eye lighted on his cousin Ron he chided him for not answering letters. We laughed. That's how a Brady deals with grief.
John then prayed a prayer of thanks and read from Jonah 2 the passage he felt led to preach on. I wasn't sure why he had gone there at first but his point was that Jonah was a man who realised before it was too late that he had been running from God. Jonah was "lucky" - God used his near death experience in the great fish to wake him up to reality. My dad had said to John that he was lucky to be told he had a short time to live. It is not always like that. We will all die however and so we need to see that we are running from God and need to get right. It was clear gospel but how it was taken I don't really know.
The service closed with the hymn At the name of Jesus, prayer and benediction.
We then went to the nearby crematorium. Rhodri helped us to transport the coffin this time. We entered and left to the sound of my dad's favourite Glenn Miller track American Patrol (as he always desired). We stood for the short committal. John used that crucial word "brother". For me to use that word is difficult but I think I must by faith. It is not the conversion I imagined and it may be that is partly to humble me.
We then headed back to the chapel for some refreshments. It was a blessing to speak with family members (big ones from my dad's family, small ones from my mam's side), old friends from Pontrhydyrun, former neighbours, etc. People are so kind.
We then headed back to Gail's. After Geoff and Iola and Rhodri and Sibyl had headed back to Aber we went for a meal together in the Ash Bridge. It was a happy time for us orphans.
We then headed back to Cardiff.
The next morning, before heading home, we buried my dad's ashes with my mother's in the chapel graveyard (there were just eight of us with John and the undertaker). I'm not a fan of cremation but to see my dad's ashes in a tiny wooden box when he had been in a long wooden box just hours before had its own powerful testimony.
Sunday was a good day but I'm a little numb. Monday was difficult in some ways. It's different to when my mother died for all sorts of reasons. Being sober is a good thing.
1. Rewriting the Reformation (response to Duffy, Starkey, Sansom, etc)
2. Puritan attitudes to Rome
3. AV 1611
4. Preaching for repentance
5. The 1910 Edinburgh Missionary Conference
6. Andrew Bonar (born 1810)
We will use the American Church again despite some drawbacks. The rearrangement of the chairs this year was a great help.
1. Provocative piety - Evaluating Moravian doctrine and practice
They can be spoken of as Non-confessional Lutheran Pietists. They were essentially people of the heart. What mattered to them was not orthodoxy but authentic spiritual experience. Zinzendorf referred to the Holy Spirit as Mother. This is not a doctrinal point but an attempt to express things experientially. It was the same impetus that led to Zinzendorf's blood and wounds theology. They saw the wounds as a mark of Christ's humanity and spoke graphically of the need to hide in the wounds and to delight in them. Cf The Litany of the wounds. It was only a step to eroticising the relationship between Christ and his church. The notorious Appendix 12 to their hymnal was overtly sexual. Their worship then went in a very vivid, spectacular even sensual direction. These practices became a scandal. Today Moravians say the sifting period 1743-1750 was the limit of this temporary aberration. However, the phenomenon was longer and less unusual than they claim. They were not popular when they were most controversial. Wesley was converted through the Moravians but slowly became disillusioned and wrote against them (1745) as antinomians. He was not bitter against them. Whitefield reluctantly distanced himself from them. He wrote a letter to Zinzendorf admonishing him. The Moravians defended themselves but lost the support of the evangelicals. Zinzendorf himself was a curious mixture. The author of such mad novelties also wrote Jesu Thy blood and righteousness and showed many marks of evangelical understanding. He was quite self-contradictory and an autodidact who refused to speak precisely. The explanation of all this is the lack of a confession of faith, the predominance of a youth culture at the height if their influence. The core explanation is a wholly inadequate view of and use of Scripture. Zinzendorf did not believe in verbal inspiration. He actually said that "The fact that the Bible has so many errors (scarcely a book today would be published with so many) is, for me at least, the an unassailable proof for its divinity". Even today Moravians use Bible texts deliberately removed from their context.
2. Missionary practice - Describing the principles
Zinzendorf believed that the nations would not be converted until the Jews were. He believed the Jews would not be converted until they saw Christ's wounds. This idea was subsequently rejected and mission flourished to an astounding degree. It was voluntary. They sent out artisans. The emphasis was on enthusiasm rather than education. Study was done in medicine, geography and languages. Missionaries were given the money to get to the port of departure then worked their passage. Whether a missionary would marry or not was decided by lot. Their message - they rejected the established method and started with Christ rather than God, creation, fall, law, etc. People know there is a God, it was felt, but not about Christ - that is what they need to know. They used a picturesque narrative method in line with their theology. Spannenburg, Zinzendorf's successor, however, was quite orthodox.
3. Exemplary passion - learning from Moravian missionary zeal This what made their contemporaries admire them even if they could not work with them. They gave long, long years of service and many died on the field. What maintained that zeal? Seven things were suggested
1. Readiness to make the world their home (part of their history) 2. Profound experience of God 3. Inspiring leadership 4. Whole church mission involvement 5. Prayer 6. Constant exposure to mission 7. Commitment to mission
1. Like old Princeton we must be committed to a high doctrine of Scripture and as infallible and inerrant word of God. The Bible is in the end our touchstone but while we must have the same high view of Scripture we will have differing legitimate interpretations. In relation to science we may have to revise our interpretations as the church has done before, but only cautiously and after long reflection. As Charles Hodge said there will be a struggle in this, but we can trust the Holy Spirit to guide us. But here we need to do better than the Princetonians. In this area they were strangely weak in their exegesis of the relevant Biblical passages in spite of having such a high view of Scripture.
2. Like old Princeton we must be robustly and enthusiastically Calvinistic in theology, not only in understanding how God saves, but also in how he works in the world. The Princetonians’ doctrine of providence and the absolute sovereignty of God helped them in their assessment of the idea of evolution. Likewise a Calvinistic view of reality will help us face many of the challenges of science today.
3. Like old Princeton we should have a deep respect for the scientific enterprise. I sometimes get the impression that some Christians are deeply suspicious of science. That is not something Hodge and company could understand. Perhaps they had a too high an estimation of the objectivity of scientists, but some Christians may have too low an estimation. While sin affects the scientific enterprise as much as everything else, God’s common grace is operative. There needs to be respect for scientists, support for Christians working in science and respectful dialogue particularly in this area of evolution.
4. Like old Princeton we must engage in this dialogue with courtesy and respect for those with whom we disagree. Nothing brings more discredit on evangelical Christianity than the intemperate way in which we sometimes deal with our opponents. The Princeton theologians always dealt with those they opposed with courtesy and respect; they were gentlemen controversialists and we should be as well. Among other things that means being fair in the way we assess the views of those we oppose. A good example of this in another area of controversy is the way John Piper evaluated N T Wright’s views in his book on justification.
5. Like old Princeton we must remember that the big battle is not on the details of how God created things, but with naturalistic materialism that has no place for God. This was the big issue for old Princeton and it must be for us. Whatever our specific views on many aspects of the evolution debate all Christian theists need to stand together to contend for the Christian worldview. He closed with a quote from Kuyper on evolution
Evolution is a newly conceived system, a newly established theory, a newly formed dogma, a newly emerged faith. Embracing and dominating all of life, it is diametrically opposed to the Christian faith and can erect its temple only on the ruins of our Christian confession… And therefore against that system of the aimlessly and mechanistically constructed cosmos we set our full-fledged resistance. We must not only defend ourselves against it but attack it… Over against Nietzsche’s Evolution-law that the strong must tread the weaker we cling to the Christ of God who seeks the lost and has mercy on the weak. Over against the undirected mechanism of evolution we present faith in that Eternal Being who “has worked and continues to work all things after the counsel of His will” [Eph. 1:11]. Over against the selection that selects the species and neglects the individual, we cling to Election… Over against the annihilation of the individual person in the grave we continue to testify to the coming judgment and of an eternal glory. And over against the altruism that is nothing more than a “transformed” and therefore disguised egoism we raise up the fire of eternal love that burns in God’s Father-heart, a holy spark of which has leaped to our own… And so I conclude by returning to what was, is now, and ever will be the starting point of the Confession for the entire Christian church on earth, by maintaining over against Evolution the first of all articles of faith: I BELIEVE IN GOD ALMIGHTY, CREATOR OF HEAVEN AND EARTH.
Dr Oliver began with Elizabeth. He sketched the background from Henry VIII through Edward VI and Cranmer's correspondence with Bullinger, when Bucer and A Lasco came to England and went on to Mary's efforts to return to Rome, so that the whole cause seemed lost. The sudden and early death of Mary from cancer (and of Cardinal Reginald Pole 12 hours later from influenza) changed everything with the coming of Elizabeth I to the throne. There were general expectations of change but no-one knew exactly what she believed. As the daughter of Ann Boleyn and as illegitimate in the eyes of Rome she was rather likely to be Protestant. She was politically astute and very well educated by the best renaissance scholars. She spoke Latin, read the NT in Greek and spoke many modern languages (including Welsh!). Before her coronation she walked out on a mass led by Oglethorpe. Her coronation was largely Protestant but she deliberately avoided the elevation of the host again. She sanctioned the use of English but put a moratorium on preaching.
We then turned to Calvin. It was only in 1553 that Calvin had become a major figure although he had corresponded on the subject of England's Reformation. English exiles in Geneva imbibed the Reformation principles of Calvin. They observed the church order there and the emphasis on preaching the Word ad fontes. His simple clear expository method was noted and appreciated. The serious way he went about his pastoral duties also had its impact. He had written to Protector Somerset saying "preaching ought not to be lifeless but lively, to teach, to exhort, to reprove, as Saint Paul says in speaking thereof to Timothy". In 1556 the exiles wrote a liturgy based on Calvin. They also produced other materials and eventually a Bible translation.
Calvin was re-issuing his commentary on Isaiah, dedicated to Edward VI, when Elizabeth came to the throne. He wanted to dedicate it now to her but that didn't happen. The problem was Knox's First blast of the Trumpet - published in Geneva. Writing to Cecil Calvin sought to disassociate himself from the book. Elizabeth continued to loath all that came from Geneva. Calvin opposed Nicodemites but Elizabeth and the new Archbishop Parker had been just that in Mary's reign. When Elizabeth appointed new bishops she was suspicious of those who came back from exile and excluded most of them, although 17 of 35 became bishops eventually.
What Elizabeth felt was right for the country was not necessarily what she personally preferred. She herself loved ceremonial and silver crosses and elaborate music. Like all of the Tudors she insisted on law and order. Her suspicion of preaching may have arisen from the fact that it was the only unpredictable part of a service.
She brought in a fixed settlement that was not tinkered with thereafter. The exiles anticipated the removal of Roman elements but such hopes were not realised. The government was keen to keep things broad.
With this background Dr Oliver then went on to speak of the real impact of Calvin on England. How did England become a bastion of Protestantism? It was not by legislation but a new love for the message of Scripture. The great changes did not come through legislation but in other ways. It is not until the following century that the full flowering comes but the seeds were sown in the Elizabethan period. William Perkins and many, many others preached in such a way that the country was transformed. Formal attempts at reformation would get nowhere and so the Puritans ploughed themselves into preaching. By the middle of Elizabeth's reign a second generation of preachers, men like Henry Smith, arose. Smith is a good example but there was no time to quote him. Later Puritan used a more formal style but by the 17th Century there had been a long history of expository preaching.
The other obvious thing apart from preaching was the Geneva Bible (1560). It was in Roman type in quarto form. It was a study Bible and was the English Bible for a century. It brought Calvinism to the masses. This was the version that made England the land of the book. Extraordinary Bible. Reputation unfairly blackened but a great renaissance achievement. It undoubtedly stimulated reading too. There certainly was a great increase in literacy in England. This was the seed bed for Puritanism. There was much opposition to the Geneva Bible and that partly led to the AV in James's reign. The Geneva Bible informed the AV and continued to be widely used after 1611.
It is true that Lancelot Andrews and others opposed Calvinism leading to the Lambeth Articles in opposition. to their proto-Arminianism, which came in the next century. However, the Elizabethan age was not just one of great literature but also of great spiritual books. A prodigious amount of this came from the Puritans. These were preachers of the Word who moulded people by the Word of God and left a great legacy that is ours.
Discussion followed on why we are not making the impact they did today and some useful contributions were made.
By way of opening remarks Dr Carson observed that it is a remarkable thing to be both. Studying the subject is complicated by the constant interaction between the commentaries and the successive editions of the Institutes.
We then had a brief history of the use of the phrase "biblical theology". Also some words on tracing themes, understanding books in their context, etc. The best roots of biblical theology, however, are seen in Calvin.
Calvin self-consciously criticised the commentaries of Melanchthon and Bucer and others. The Aristotelian method used was to identify certain loci and then deal with them exhaustively. That meant that certain things were missed. When all was included the commentary became too long (as with Bucer).
Calvin aimed at "clear brevity" in his commentaries and then dealt with loci in his Institutes (see T H L Parker 51ff "Calvin's NT commentaries")
Sometimes Calvin expanded on certain subjects. Eg Knowledge of God, justification, repentance, OT/NT, predestination, providence, monks vows.
Genesis 1 and 2
Referred to in Chapter 1 of the 1536 Institutes. Lots on the image of God. Commentary (1554) much briefer on the image of God.
Genesis 1:2, 26
Plural references to God poses a question. Calvin careful not to read in Trintarianism carte blanche. "Addressing his wisdom and power". Accused of being a Judaiser in his time. Not an unsystematic theological minimiser in his commentaries. Followed the grammatico-historical way rather than the Christological one of Luther. He did not wish to say more than the text warranted.
In the Institutes 1536 he speaks of the removal of the image of God. Living for righteousness (little Book on the Christian Life) an increasing part of the Institutes.
1. In the commentary on the last 4 books of Moses he makes an exception to his normal method and pursues certain loci
2. He gives a more lengthy discussion of the introduction to the law in the commentary than in the Institutes
3. He alters the order of things in his commentary on the last four books (something he does not do with the harmony of the Gospels)
4. Note that his Harmony of Exodus-Deuteronomy was an actual book not just lectures. Perhaps it came from his attempts to employ biblical theology
Discusses verse 18 first. Similar things in Deuteronomy 5 commentary.
1 Peter 2
Calvin speaks of three marks of the church but in later editions of the Institutes it comes down to two. This was not a change in his theology as other documents show. Why is not clear. He was willing to adapt clearly, however.
1 Corinthians 1
Sanctification. Paul calls the Corinthians sanctified leading to the distinction between definitive or positional sanctification and progressive sanctification that leads to real holiness. In his commentary in a summary of the first chapter he says that Paul prepares them for what is to come and that although the statement in verse 2 may seem strange there were still tokens of a true church there. He speaks of initial separation (regeneration) but he says "it may be taken in two senses". He goes for the defintional but says it makes no great difference.
He refers to the verse only once in the Institutes (4.1.14). In both works he strongly rejects over zealous separationism but argues for sanctification.
It may be that the word sanctification is used to refer to the positional sort more often. However, Calvin was already seeing that the vocabulary of the discourse of systematics is not always the same a the vocabulary of the discourse of the Bible.
Another example - is it right to speak of God being reconciled to us? We sing in these terms without any idea of saying he compromises.
The vocabulary of the discourse of hymn singing is not always the same as the vocabulary of the discourse of systematics.
If you read a lot of systematics read more commentaries and vice versa, etc.
by Garry Williams of the John Owen Centre and was on "John Calvin's Agenda: Issues in the separation from Rome".
We looked first at Calvin's writings (the three central texts are The Reply to Sadoleto (1534), On the necessity of reforming the church (1543) and The Antidote to the Council of Trent (1547). These reveal that Calvin grasped the necessity of urgent reformation. He uses the image of the church having been rocked to sleep.
"What then? When we saw idolatry openly and everywhere stalking abroad, were we to connive at it? To have done so would have just been to rock the world in its sleep of death, that it might not awake."
"call to mind the fearful calamities of the Church, which might move to pity even minds of iron. Nay, set before your eyes her squalid and unsightly form, and the sad devastation which is everywhere beheld."
He saw temporal as well as eternal consequences for rejecting the gospel. "Even now, while your own eyes behold, it is half bent, and totters to its final ruin."
He would quote 1 Corinthians 11 and its reference to temporal judgements.
"But if we reflect how slight the error by which the Corinthians had vitiated the sacred supper was? If contrasted with all the defilements by which, in the present day, it is sullied and polluted amongst ourselves? It is strange not to perceive that God, who so severely punished them, is justly more offended with us."
"I admit that there cannot be too much dispatch, provided, in the meantime, the consultation which ought to be first, the consultation how to restore the church to its proper state, is neither neglected nor retarded. Already delays more than enough have been interposed. The fuel of the Turkish war is within, shut up in our bowels, and must first be removed, if we would successfully drive back the war itself."
We tend to avoid this sort of analysis but Calvin did not.
For Calvin then worship and doctrine were priorities. He was very concerned about the mode of worship "I would say, that rule in the church, the pastoral office, and all other matters of order, resemble the body, whereas the doctrine which regulates the due worship of God and points out the ground on which the consciences of men must rest their hope of salvation, is the soul which animates the body, renders it lively and active, and in short, makes it not to be a dead and useless carcase" (He was a Hebrew thinker not a Greek one).
He has a particularly high view of justification. "The safety of the church depends as much on this doctrine as human life does on the soul. If the purity of this doctrine is in any degree impaired, the church has received a deadly wound."
Beza "Seeing that the city stood greatly in need ... regular presbytery ..."
He had a deep posthumous disagreement with Zwingli who denied the instrumentality of external things for grace to be built up. Outward things can only affect the mind and do not have a direct impact on faith. It can only negatively restrain Zwingli thought.
Calvin had a higher view of things such as the sacraments to build up faith.
We are quick today to defend justification but we are not so concerened about the mode of worship. Calvin was vey much concerned over public worship. It is not simply a matter of being constant and serious. Are we actively engaged in thinking this through. Calvin kept reforming worship.
Garry then quoted a letter to Knox connecting baptism with the promise. This was rather lost on the Baptists present but the point was that he was a man carefully thinking about things.
Surely Calvin's approach was similar to the NT. Worship has an important public role and is also pedagogical. We then moved on to Calvi2. His practice - seeking unity. Calvin, of course, worked worked prolifically hard - preaching, teaching and in pursuing unity. He saw it as very important and poured himself into this in the 1540s, meeting with Bullinger, etc. Some remarkable agreements were drawn up.
Calvin wrote, regretfully, of "the vehemence of Luther's natural temperament, which was so apt to boil over in every direction," even to the point of "flashing his lightning upon the servants of the Lord."
Certainly this is a serious matter. The importance of fraternal realtions with other Bible believing Protestants. We should sit down and talk rather going in all guns blazing (sometimes we are not even as good as Luther).
Garry sought to apply this to Anglican/Nonconformist realtions.
Certainly many things we deplore in Anglicanism (eg Gafcon). The issues we disagree on do matter but we must still try to have relations with genuine believers. There is not that much hostility but there is ignorance and distance at times. What is our disposition?
Finally, we looked at the centre of Calvin's vision. Calvin was a great user of metaphors and similes. One pervasive metaphor he uses is to see everything in relation to the physical body of Christ. This is a lesser known feature of Calvin. What the Spirit unites does is to unite us to Christ's body.
"The flesh of Christ is like a rich and inexhaustible fountain that pours into us the life springing forth from the Godhead into itself” (Institutes 4)
Calvin thought in very concrete terms. He spoke of unbelievers in these terms too.
"Let our opponents, then, in the first instance, draw near to Christ, and then let them convict us of schism, in daring to dissent from them in doctrine."
"Are we, then, to be silent when the peculiar dignity of Christ, the dignity which cost him such a price, is wrested from him with the greatest contumely, and distributed among the saints, as if it were lawful spoil?"
"he hesitates not to strip Christ in order that he may deck his Pope with the spoils."
"poor souls, which ought to have been ruled by the doctrine of Christ, are oppressed by cruel bondage; that nothing is seen in the Christian Church that is not deformed and debased; that the grace of Christ not only lies half-buried, but is partly torn to pieces, partly altogether extinguished. "
Surely this is again something that we do find in Scripture in several places. Every human being stands in some relation to the body of Christ. Let's avoid the fuzziness of today's feminised church.
The split with Rome was all about being near to Christ or far from him. The irony is that Romanism claimed to be able to do it but could not for that is by faith.
The discussion that followed focused on worship, including the Sydney view.
One little event during this year has fixed itself very firmly in my mind, and I hope that it has done so from my conscience having been afterwards sorely troubled by it; it is curious as showing that apparently I was interested at this early age in the variability of plants! I told another little boy (I believe it was Leighton, who afterwards became a well-known lichenologist and botanist), that I could produce variously coloured polyanthuses and primroses by watering them with certain coloured fluids, which was of course a monstrous fable, and had never been tried by me. I may here also confess that as a little boy I was much given to inventing deliberate falsehoods, and this was always done for the sake of causing excitement. For instance, I once gathered much valuable fruit from my father's trees and hid it in the shrubbery, and then ran in breathless haste to spread the news that I had discovered a hoard of stolen fruit.
Darwin's son Francis writes a note just before thi saying
Rev. W.A. Leighton, who was a schoolfellow of my father's at Mr. Case's school, remembers his bringing a flower to school and saying that his mother had taught him how by looking at the inside of the blossom the name of the plant could be discovered. Mr. Leighton goes on, "This greatly roused my attention and curiosity, and I enquired of him repeatedly how this could be done?" - but his lesson was naturally enough not transmissible.
The more one learns about Darwin the less attractive a character he becomes.
One Sunday morning I was waiting to begin the service when a particular family, who have recently started coming, arrived and took their seats. Their little boy of about 8 years of age then came over to me and put a plastic bag into my hands. It was extremely heavy and I said, ‘What’s this?’ He said, ‘I want to give my savings for the poor people who were flooded.’ In the bag was a large tin full of coins. Afterwards it took about 6 people to sort and count it. The total came to 1487 pesos (about £20/$32). It was obvious that he had been saving up for a long time, and he gave the lot to help the flood victims in the Philippines. I was very moved. We plan to visit other areas with relief aid. Please continue to pray for these desperately needy people as we try to show the love of Christ in a practical way as well as spreading the word of the gospel.