Contemplation of the Divinity

It has been said by some one that “the proper study of mankind is man.” I will not oppose the idea, but I believe it is equally true that the proper study of God’s elect is God; the proper study of a Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father. There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity. Other subjects we can compass and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self content, and go our way with the thought, “Behold I am wise.” But when we come to this master-science, finding that our plumb-line cannot sound its depth, and that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away with the thought, that vain man would be wise, but he is like a wild ass’s colt; and with the solemn exclamation, “I am but of yesterday, and know nothing.” No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God. We shall be obliged to feel —

“Great God, how infinite art thou,
What worthless worms are we!”

Spoken by C.H. Spurgeon January 7th, 1855 in New Park Street Chapel.

Reflecting upon the rock from which we were hewn

Henry Martyn, missionary to Persia, died on October 16, 1812 at the age of 31. His Life and Letters, edited by John Sargent, reveal a man that is passionate for his God, holy, courageous, compassionate and devoted to the Saviour and His service. He writes:

Who, then, that reflects upon the rock from which he was hewn, but must rejoice to give himself entirely and without reserve to God, to be sanctified by his Spirit? The soul that has truly experienced the love of God will not stay meanly inquiring how much he shall do, and thus limit his service, but will be earnestly seeking more and more to know the will of our heavenly Father, that he may be enabled to do it. Oh may we be both thus minded! May we experience Christ to be our all in all, not only as our Redeemer, but also as the fountain of grace! . . .May [God’s Word] teach us to breathe after holiness, to be more and more dead to the world, and alive unto God, through Jesus Christ!

Henry Martyn, John Sargent editor, The Life and Letters of Henry Martyn, (Carlisle, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1985). First published 1819. ISBN 0851514685.

How Does Pride Manifest Itself?

  1. Through complaining against God for our circumstances or complaining against circumstances that God has brought about. Rom 9:20
  2. Through a lack of gratitude in general. Critical, discontent, unthankful to God and others.
  3. Anger, because the person believes himself worthy of more than he has received.
  4. An attitude of superiority, often disappointed in others.
  5. Through an inflated view of one’s abilities. A wrong self-perception.
  6. By focusing on our lack of abilities. Caught up in self-pity. Constant self-focus. Desire approval from and for what they cannot do.
  7. Perfectionism. Nobody can do it right. Difficult time dealing with those who don’t measure up. Majors in the minors and forgets people.
  8. Talking too much, what others say is just not important
  9. Talking much about one’s self: life, job, children etc.
  10. A desire for independence and control.
  11. Consumed by what others think of them, desire self approval, man-pleasers not God-pleasers.
  12. Devastated by criticism. Can not handle their imperfections, cling to reputation.
  13. Pride manifests itself in unteachableness – Jer 43:2. Stunted growth.
  14. Sarcastic, degrading, puts others down to lift oneself up. Prov 28:25
  15. A lack of lowly service to others – Gal 5:13
  16. A lack of compassion. Can’t see beyond their own desires. Heb 5:2
  17. Defensive and blame-shifting. They cannot be wrong so others must be. Prov 12:1
  18. An unwillingness to admit wrong doing. Unwilling to accept full blame. Can’t say “I was wrong”. Prov 10:17
  19. A lack of forgiveness. Can’t say “I am sorry, please forgive me” Mt 5:23
  20. A lack of prayer. Focuses prayer upon self.
  21. Resisting or disrespecting authority.
  22. Voices opinions when not asked. Prov 21:2
  23. Minimizes his own sin and short-comings.
  24. Maximizes the sins of others. Mt 7:1-6
  25. Impatient with others. Prov 13:10. Inflexible.
  26. Jealous, envy. Can not rejoice in good coming to others.
  27. Uses others for their own personal gain. Phil 2:3,4
  28. Desire to cover their own sins. James 5:16. Can’t admit faults.
  29. Draws attention to themselves. Dress, behavior etc. 2 Tim 3:2
  30. By not having close intimate relationships. Self-sufficient. Doesn’t need others.

Populism and Scripture: Congregationalism & Leadership

Another tremendous post by Kevin Bauder in his Fundamentalism, Whence? Where? Wither? series. Here is an extract:

“The challenge for any local congregation is to avoid the opposite perils of brouhaha majoritarianism and supercilious elitism. Democracy can be driven by the appetites of the incompetent. Elitism allows for domination by the abstractions of theorists. The answer to both is the same: to recognize the value of those factors that lend greater weight to judgments. Those factors are three in number: biblical skill, deep piety, and office. These three ought to coalesce in local church elders, making them the natural leaders of their congregations.”

John Paton on his father’s prayers

John G. Paton was a Scottish missionary to the South Sea cannibals commencing in the 1850s. The following quotation records some of his earliest remembrances of his father.

Thither daily, and oftentimes a day, generally after each meal, we saw our father retire, and “shut to the door”; and we children got to understand by a sort of spiritual instinct (for the thing was too sacred to be talked about) that prayers were being poured out there for us, as of old by the High Priest within the veil in the Most Holy Place. We occasionally heard the pathetic echoes of a trembling voice pleading as if for life, and we learned to slip out and in past that door on tiptoe, not to disturb the holy colloquy. The outside world might not know, but we knew, whence came that happy light as of a new-born smile that always was dawning on my father’s face: it was a reflection from the Divine Presence, in the consciousness of which he lived. … “He walked with God, why may not I”

My prayer: “Lord,  give me a passion for prayer and to dwell in your presence. Lord, manifest your glory in me.”

Oh! what is nearness to Him?

This is likely my final post that focuses on extracts from the Letters of Samuel Rutherford. I have been personally challenged by the time I have invested in reading of this godly man’s life and heart for the people of God. Mr. Rutherford was a pilgrim having his eyes fixed on the glory of Immanuel’s Land and sought to inspire his people to gaze upon it. The circumstances of my life and the direction of my study has been providentially influenced by my time with Rutherford. I close with one final extract:

Oh! what is nearness to Him? What is that, to be “in God,” to “dwell in God”? What a house must that be! (I John 4:13). How far are some from their house and home! how ill acquaint with the rooms, mansions, safety, and sweetness of holy security to be found in God! Oh, what estrangement! what wandering! what frequent conversing with self and the creature! Is not here “the bed shorter than what a man can stretch himself on it? and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it? (Isa. 28:20). When shall we attain to a living in only God! and be estranged from all the poor created nothings, the painted shadow-beings of yesterday, which, and hour and less before creation, were dark waste negatives and empty nothings, and should so have been for eternity, had the Lord suffered them to lie there forever!

It is He, the great “he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in: that bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity” (Isa. 40:22,23). And He, the only He, and there is no He beside Him (Isa 43:10, 11,13-25). Men or angels, they are not any of them a he to Him! But a living, breathing, dying nothing is man at his best, a sick clay-vanity; and the angel, to Him, but a more excellent, living and understanding nothing. Yet we live at a distance from Him; and we die and wither when we are out of God. Oh, if we knew how nothing we are without Him!

. . . Wait upon the speaking vision: “Behold, he cometh! behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him!” (see Isa. 40:10)

Perhaps these extracts have spoken to you as well. If so I encourage you to read the full book. Banner of truth publishes a copy, my copy is a hardcopy  published by Moody Press in 1951. I have two other volumes from the same series that I would also recommend: The Memoirs of McCheyne by Bonar and The Suffering Saviour by Krummacher.

David Brainerd’s Death – October 9, 1747

David Brainerd was a devout and faithful servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. He had a deep understanding of the glory of God as well as of his own depravity. From this understanding he preached, wrote, prayed, studied and lived a life in the flesh that was not his own. Though his life came to an early end, the life given to him from above continues to proclaim glory to God to this day. Following is an quotation from his diary:

“My mind was greatly fixed on divine things; my resolutions for a life of mortification, continual watchfulness, self-denial, seriousness, and devotion were strong and fixed. . . . I solemnly renewed my dedication of myself to God and longed for grace to enable me always to keep covenant with Him. Time appeared very short, eternity near; and a great name, either in or after life, together with all earthly pleasures and profits, but an empty bubble, a deluding dream.”