The Wonderful Love of the Father

FatherSonI recently joined a Bible Discussion group and someone asked a very profound question today in it, I must share, along with my response to it, because I think it would be of benefit to others.

Brother Pete (last name withheld so he doesn’t suffer the abuse I sometimes get for my beliefs and being public with them); he asked the following question:

“I’ve prayed many prayers and shed many tears. I’ve read some of these books in the bible until I thought the words were gonna fall off. Am I really willing to go where he leads? What if he wants to humble me, bruise me, crush me or rearrange my life? What if he chooses to tear down everything I thought I was?”

He added the following scripture as reference:

Isaiah 57:15 KJV
For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

My response follows:

Speaking personally; the Lord Jesus spent at least four years deconstructing my life and showing me I wasn’t the person I thought I was. Since that time, He has spent it building me into the person He wants me to be. It can be rough at times, even with as much as I love Him, I do not always feel the love, I should always have for Him. In these times I stand on His promises and resolute in the fact, He is indeed making me into that vessel He wishes to use, and trust in His inestimable mercy and grace to continue to work in me, and through me to bring out that which is best, for I know He indeed knows what is best and knows how best to make me into that which pleases Him. For indeed! It pleases me to please Him, and I want to be the best me I can be!

The Lord can be a hard taskmaster, many times I see (in me) hate, rebellion, and many other completely undesirable qualities, rising up in me when He is working on me. Indeed, many times, my will gets in the way and I suffer for it. I would however, expect nothing less. God is my father, I expect Him to chastise me, correct me, and show me when I am wrong. It’s never pleasant in the sense that I like it. However as I said on my Facebook TL and Twitter TL just within the last week. “Even though the Lord chastises me and corrects me when I am wrong or I have done wrong, I rejoice, for I know He does so in righteousness

I rejoice because not only does it prove to me His righteousness, it also proves that everything else in His word is true, and there is nothing as Paul said; that can separate us from the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus. Not how I feel, not how I think, not what I do. Even though I do not always have the right attitude or spirit when He is dealing with me. I know He does so, because He loves me and He knows I love Him and want my life to be what He chooses (again He knows best) and I do not believe that He expects me to always have the right spirit. Indeed; we are all born with that adamic spirit and nature. So I rest assured in the fact if I endure to the end, I will be saved.

Many times I see Him doing something or making me face something unpleasant to bring out those things that are undesirable in me, in order for me to see them and work on them. As David requested to be shown in him what was evil, so do I! I don’t ask for it to be easy, I ask for it to be complete, for I want to be completely saved.

So not only if I endure to the end of this life, and keep the faith, I also know that if I endure to the end His correction and chastisement when I am wrong, do wrong, or have something in me that is wrong, keeping that same faith. I know that He in the same spirit of a loving Father will comfort me, lift me up and help me when that correction and chastisement is finished. It is not just a matter of enduring through life, but enduring through each test, trial, and persecution.

That being said. The Lord is the most loving, complete, tender, merciful, gracious and beautiful love. He is unimaginably kind, good and uncondemning. He is beautiful in all His make-up. All I have to do to see His mercy is look at life and nature. To look at the things He created, and not see His love, is next to impossible for me. He is everything I have ever desired, He is everything I have ever needed, and He put up with many years of me denying Him, refusing Him, and persecuting Him. I cannot complain, for He has shown me more unwarranted love, mercy and kindness, than I have ever known in my life. He is indeed good and would never hurt us, it is only our disobedience and wills, that cause us not to be able to see, and feel that love at all times in our lives. As the song says, if we never had a problem, we wouldn’t know He can solve them.

He has taught me even to be careful of my words, for I will answer for every one of them. Even when joking around I must always be mindful of Him. That being said though, He is never too hard, He is never unkind, He is always loving, gentle, and conscious of our faults, infirmities, and weaknesses, and mindful of them when He corrects us, in anyway or anything. Indeed; His loving kindness has no end, and understanding this is key to being able to stand in the day of judgement. Jesus did not come into the world to condemn, but to save. We must be ever mindful of this, it says the way of the transgressor is hard therefore if I am suffering, it is because I am transgressing, and it is up to me to correct that, with His help, loving tenderness and kindness.

I must add that when the Lord is finished chastising me, and, I do not get it near as much as I deserve. Most of the time the Lord is overwhelming me with His love, which by the way I tend to see in everything. I see His love in His correction, in History, in every flower, creature, each one of His creations, in all things I see His love, tenderness and guiding hand. So do not think He is in anyway hard, it can just be hard on us at times, because of how we take it. Most of the time when I take it hard and fight against it, it is because my own misunderstanding of the work He is trying to do. Thus the statement I make that I want nothing more than to get me out of the way of the work, He is trying to do. The Lord never ceases to overwhelm me with His love in every aspect of my life!

Indeed! I see that love in our own nations founding documents:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Those words and that spirit were born and nourished in England and our fathers carried them to the ends of the earth. They’re our inheritance from the past, our legacy to the future! That’s why we’re here, to defend them, to the Glorification of He who inspired them, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

“What the ark was to Israel the ballot should be to the American people, and their love of liberty should act like a divine presence to palsy the hand that profanes it.” ~ Rev. R. A. Holland

The Bible can inspire you, lift you up, empower you, make you feel on top of the world. Yet, it can also condemn you, shame you, chastise you, reprove you, and correct you.

Thus Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Gain a Greater Understanding of History by Joseph Stevens Buckminster

JosephStevensBuckminster GilbertStuart

As I have said “History is not simply a record of man’s accomplishments. Even more, History is the story / record of God’s interaction with man. It is indeed His Story” ~ CJD

Gain a Greater Understanding of History; Value of Religious Faith by Joseph Stevens Buckminster (1784 – 1812)

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Having considered the objects, and the reasonableness of religious faith, it now remains to say something of its Importance. The value of religious faith principally results from two circumstances—from the fears it excites, and from the consolations it affords.

In the ordinary conduct of government, and to the well-being of society, some kind of faith is essential. Belief in the superintendence of invisible powers is not peculiar to religion. It is found in every man, who conscientiously submits to the government under which he lives; for how few of the subjects of any extensive empire have ever seen their rulers? Their authority, their edicts, their measures, nay, their very existence, are almost exclusively objects of faith. Suppose the assassin were to fear nothing but the instrument of punishment, or the thief were permitted to demand a strict demonstration of the authority of the officer who arrested him, think you society would long sustain the consequences of so great incredulity? Every man would become his own avenger, and we should revert to the barbarous independence of universal democracy. If, too, the sober part only of the community should require, that every law should be promulgated in their hearing, or that their rulers should constantly live under their ocular inspection, it is easy to foresee, that the affairs of human society would fall into the utmost confusion. We must, therefore, in the ordinary state of society, live, as seeing those that are invisible.

The fear, which faith awakens, is the foundation of the most necessary prudence. It is faith, which warns us of the invisible and approaching misfortunes, to which we are daily exposed; it is faith, which keeps up a continual, and sometimes painful interest in the dangers, which threaten the community. Without this we should rush as inconsiderately into the abode of foreign pestilence, as we now walk the streets of our own city; and be as unprepared for an approaching war, as for an impending earthquake. If we were to wait, till we could satisfy our own personal experience, in regard to some of the most common evils of life, we should find, that our ruin was accomplished, [before] the remedy was provided. The life of children is a continual exercise of faith. The prudence of parents is employed in foreseeing dangers, which the short-sightedness of the child must believe upon authority. Without filial confidence, which is only another name for faith, not one of the generations of men could hardly have reached the maturity of manhood; each successive race would profit nothing from the experience of its predecessors; and even if it were possible to continue the human species without a principle of faith, the world would have remained, to the present day, in a state of infantile ignorance, exposure and imbecility. What then! is it of so much importance, that the years of minority should be so carefully provided with this principle to secure it against the evils of present inexperience; and is it of none, that the full-grown understanding should be admonished of the alarming disclosures, which another world will make of a retributive power? Is it of no importance, that the conscience of the wicked should be awakened, before his senses tell him, that he is in anguish? Shall the narrow policy of civil government, and the feebleness of temporal punishments, be left to maintain, unsupported, the order of society? Is it of so much consequence, that, while he lives here, man should be aware of his mortality, and be provided against death, the inevitable and universal lot of mortal creatures; and of none, that he should suspect his immortality, and extend his views to the tribunal of his Judge? Shall man tremble so much at the thought of dying; and know nothing of the dread of punishment? Is it of no importance for the selfish man to know, that, by the interested pleasures in which he is absorbed, he is surely defeating his own aims, however successful they may have been? Shall the indolent, the luxurious, the dead in sensuality, the avaricious, the hard-hearted, go on accumulating wrath, and hardening their consciences by unbelief? Because we cannot be transported to the regions of future suffering, and witness the intensity of the torment, shall we rush, with all our sins upon our head, into that community of woe, and learn first by experience what we would not receive upon credit? Thank God! that such is the want, which individuals and society feel of a principle like this, that the imagination supplies it, where the reason cannot attain to undoubting conviction. Legislators have always invented something, like what revelation discloses; and the barbarous faith of the early ages has supplied, in almost every country, something, which has served the purposes of providence, till the cultivated mind was ready for the fullness of God’s communications.

In the second place, the value of faith may be estimated from the consolations it affords.

Who would look back upon the history of the world with the eye of incredulity, after having once read it with the eye of faith? To the man of faith it is the story of God’s operations. To the unbeliever it is only the record of the strange sports of a race of agents as uncontrolled as they are unaccountable. To the man of faith every portion of history is part of a vast plan, conceived ages ago in the mind of Omnipotence, which has been fitted precisely to the period it was intended to occupy. The whole series of events forms a magnificent and symmetrical fabric to the eye of pious contemplation; and, though the dome be in the clouds, and the top, from its loftiness, be indiscernible to mortal vision, yet the foundations are so deep and solid, that we are sure they are intended to support something permanent and grand. To the skeptic, all the events of all the ages of the world are but a scattered crowd of useless and indigested materials. In his mind all is darkness, all is incomprehensible. The light of prophecy illuminates not to him the obscurity of ancient annals. He sees in them neither design nor operation, neither tendencies nor conclusions. To him the wonderful knowledge of one people is just as interesting as the desperate ignorance of another. In the deliverance which God has sometimes wrought for the oppressed, he sees nothing but the fact; and in the oppression and decline of haughty empires, nothing but the common accidents of national fortune. Going about to account for events according to what he calls general laws, he never for a moment considers, that all laws, whether physical, political or moral, imply a legislator, and are contrived to serve some purpose. Because he cannot always, by his short-sighted vision, discover the tendencies of the mighty events of which this earth has been the theatre, he looks on the drama of existence around him as proceeding without a plan. Is that principle, then, of no importance, which raises man above what his eyes see or his ears hear at present, and show him the vast chain of human events, fastened eternally to the throne of God, and returning, after embracing the universe, again to link itself to the footstool of Omnipotence?

Would you know the value of this principle of faith to the bereaved? Go, and follow a corpse to the grave. See the body deposited there, and hear the earth thrown in upon all that remains of your friend. Return now, if you will, and brood over the lesson which your senses have given you, and derive from it what consolation you can. You have learned nothing but an unconsoling fact. No voice of comfort issues from the tomb. All is still there, and blank, and lifeless, and has been so for ages. You see nothing but bodies dissolving and successively mingling with the clods which cover them, the grass growing over the spot, and the trees waving in sullen majesty over this region of eternal silence. And what is there more? Nothing,—Come, Faith, and people these deserts! Come, and reanimate these regions of forgetfulness! Mothers! take again your children to your arms, for they are living. Sons! your aged parents are coming forth in the vigor of regenerated years. Friends! behold, your dearest connections are waiting to embrace you. The tombs are burst. Generations long since in slumbers are awakening. They are coming from the east and the west, from the north and from the south, to constitute the community of the blessed.

But it is not in the loss of friends alone, that faith furnishes consolations which are inestimable. With a man of faith not an affliction is lost, not a change is unimproved. He studies even his own history with pleasure, and finds it full of instruction. The dark passages of his life are illuminated with hope; and he sees, that although he has passed through many dreary defiles, yet they have opened at last into brighter regions of existence. He recalls, with a species of wondering gratitude, periods of his life, when all its events seemed to conspire against him. Hemmed in by straitened circumstances, wearied with repeated blows of unexpected misfortunes, and exhausted with the painful anticipation of more, he recollects years, when the ordinary love of life could not have retained him in the world. Many a time he might have wished to lay down his being in disgust, had not something more than the senses provide us with, kept up the elasticity of his mind. He yet lives, and has found that light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. The man of faith discovers some gracious purpose in every combination of circumstances. Wherever he finds himself, he knows that he has a destination—he has, therefore, a duty. Every event has, in his eye, a tendency and an aim. Nothing is accidental, nothing without purpose, nothing unattended with benevolent consequences. Everything on earth is probationary, nothing ultimate. He is poor—perhaps his plans have been defeated—he finds it difficult to provide for the exigencies of life—sickness is permitted to invade the quiet of his household—long confinement imprisons his activity, and cuts short the exertions on which so many depend—something apparently unlucky mars his best plans —new failures and embarrassments among his friends present themselves, and throw additional obstruction in his way—the world looks on and says, all these things are against him. Some wait coolly for the hour when he shall sink under the complicated embarrassments of his cruel fortune. Others, of a kinder spirit, regard him with compassion, and wonder how he can sustain such a variety of woe. A few there are, a very few, I fear, who can understand something of the serenity of his mind, and comprehend something of the nature of his fortitude. There are those, whose sympathetic piety can read and interpret the characters of resignation on his brow. There are those, in fine, who have felt the influence of faith.

In this influence there is nothing mysterious, nothing romantic, nothing of which the highest reason may be ashamed. It shows the Christian his God, in all the mild majesty of his parental character. It shows you God, disposing in still and benevolent wisdom the events of every individual’s life, pressing the pious spirit with the weight of calamity to increase the elasticity of the mind, producing characters of unexpected worth by unexpected misfortune, invigorating certain virtues by peculiar probations, thus breaking the fetters which bind us to temporal things, and

“From seeming evil still educing good,
And better thence again, and better still,
In infinite progression.”

When the sun of the believer’s hopes, according to common calculations, is set, to the eye of faith it is still visible. When much of the rest of the world is in darkness, the high ground of faith is illuminated with the brightness of religious consolation.

Come now, my incredulous friends, and follow me to the bed of the dying believer. Would you see in what peace a Christian can die? Watch the last gleams of thought which stream from his dying eyes. Do you see anything like apprehension? The world, it is true, begins to shut in. The shadows of evening collect around his senses. A dark mist thickens, and rests upon the objects which have hitherto engaged his observation. The countenances of his friends become more and more indistinct. The sweet expressions of love and friendship are no longer intelligible. His ear wakes no more at the well-known voice of his children, and the soothing accents of tender affection die away unheard, upon his decaying senses. To him the spectacle of human life is drawing to its close, and the curtain is descending, which shuts out this earth, its actors, and its scenes. He is no longer interested in all that is done under the sun. O! that I could now open to you the recesses of his soul; that I could reveal to you the light, which darts into the chambers of his understanding. He approaches that world which he has so long seen in faith. The imagination now collects its diminished strength, and the eye of faith opens wide. Friends! do not stand, thus fixed in sorrow, around this bed of death. Why are you so still and silent? Fear not to move—you cannot disturb the last visions which enchant this holy spirit. Your lamentations break not in upon the songs of seraphs, which enwrap his hearing in ecstasy. Crowd, if you choose, around his couch—he heeds you not—already he sees the spirits of the just advancing together to receive a kindred soul. Press him not with importunities; urge him not with alleviations. Think you he wants now these tones of mortal voices—these material, these gross consolations’ No! He is going to add another to the myriads of the just, that are every moment crowding into the portals of heaven! He is entering on a nobler life. He leaves you—he leaves you, weeping children of mortality, to grope about a little longer among the miseries and sensualities of a worldly life. Already he cries to you from the regions of bliss. Will you not join him there? Will you not taste the sublime joys of faith? There are your predecessors in virtue; there, too, are places left for your contemporaries. There are seats for you in the assembly of the just made perfect, in the innumerable company of angels, where is Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant, and God, the judge of all.

A New Perspective: Being a Witness for Jesus, What is My Testimony Worth?

The ChristianPatriot1Peter5

Indeed, what does my testimony actually profit Him?

I saw a sign at a church a couple weeks ago and it said “We are called to be witnesses, not judges” of course I knew what they meant by this, is to be a witness for Jesus without judging the people you should be witnessing too.

However, my mind and heart would not let it go with that, and I kept mulling it over in the back of my mind. This will tell you a little about how long it takes for me to think through something, and get what the Lord is trying to give me, or make me see, I am somewhat slow and methodical.

I’ve always felt that Christians would judge the world, not by judging others because you think yourself above them, or in fact one day, may actually be above others. Like some who think they will sit with Jesus, in judgment of the world after being taken away to be with Him. I felt that you would judge the world, by the life you live and by overcoming yourself in this life, just as the followers of Jesus did in the Early Reign Church, i.e. New Testament Bible times, and the Bible tells us we have too.

I was again thinking about the words on that sign, as my wife and I were passing by that same church in town today. After we got to the store, it hit me. A new look at it I had never considered before. This is a combination of many thoughts and truths I have had throughout my life, now given a new perspective. Looking at it in a courtroom setting…

God, He is the Judge of the earth. and all that is therein, the earth is the courtroom, God calls us to be a witness for His Son, who being innocent, yet was found guilty, and hung on the cross among thieves. We are being witnesses for Jesus, that He was, and is, indeed the Christ, and therefore innocent of the charges leveled against Him at the time of His death.

This being the case, and looking at myself as a lawyer would, it caused me to ask myself first this question. Is my testimony as a witness advancing the cause of Jesus, during this trial we call life?

Secondly, Is my testimony witnessing to His transformational power as a Savior, to His loyalty as the very best friend, to His might as a warrior for His people, to His tenderness as a Father, to His mercy as a Lord, to His peace as the giver of peace, to His majesty as the King of all Kings, to His light that expels all darkness, to His wisdom that goes beyond understanding, to His guidance as a Teacher, to His love as a perfect brother, and to His knowledge as the Master of Humanity?

I’ll have to say, I fall short, and I hope to one day truly proclaim that yes, He has indeed profited by my testimony as a witness.

THE PHILOSOPHY OF ADVERSITY and AFFLICTION

TheChristianPatriotJames1Compilation of adversity and affliction quotes from great philosophers.

ADVERSITY borrows its sharpest stings from our impatience; it flattereth no man; it has no friends, but is not without comfort and hope; it is the parent of virtue and is easier borne than prosperity forgot; it is the true scale in which to weigh friends; it makes wise, though not rich; it often leads to prosperity, and reminds men of religion; it is a severe instructor, but the best; successfully overcome, it is the highest glory; it tests virtue, and will not last forever; he who has not known adversity, has seen but half of the world; he who swells in prosperity, will shrink in adversity; in prosperity caution, in adversity patience; it is more difficult for a man to behave well in prosperity than in adversity; men can bear adversity, but few contempt; sweet are its uses; there is no education like it; adversity makes a man wise, not rich; in the adversity of our friends, we always find something which is not wholly displeasing to us; it is the trial of principle; who hath not known misfortune, hath not read his own heart aright; it is the balance to weigh friends; heaven often smites in mercy, though the blow be severe; adversity elicits dormant talents; it is a severe instructor; our own impatience is the sharpest sting of adversity; he who hath no cross will have no crown; adversity exasperates fools, dejects cowards, and draws out the faculties of the wise; sweet are the uses of adversity.

AFFLICTION is the school of virtue; it separates the wheat from the chaff, and is the wholesome soil of virtue; heaven tries our virtue by affliction, sanctified afflictions are spiritual promotions; a calamity is man’s true touchstone”; the best people need affliction to bring their virtues into play; contentment is thus secured; it lightens the stroke to draw near to Him who wields the rod; by trial, God is shaping us for higher things; prosperity tries the fortunate, adversity the great; God afflicts us to draw us nearer to Him; great trials prepare us for great duties; crown wearers in heaven were cross bearers here; afflictions are but mercies in disguise; they are the wholesome soil of virtue, the good man’s treasure; no man would be happy without them; one affliction is better than a thousand exhortations; the afflicted person is sacred, and the best remedy is to submit to Providence, for there is mercy in affliction’s smart; it heals all those wounds of sin which mock all human art; sorrow is better than laughter, for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is improved; affliction is the wholesome soil of virtue; it shapes as it smites, and is oft a blessing in disguise; it is the good man’s shining time, his treasure; affliction’s sons are brothers in distress, whom it is god-like to relieve; no man would appreciate prosperity thoroughly, who had not experienced suffering and sorrow; the virtuous and the wicked are alike afflicted, for the same sun shines equally upon the just and upon the unjust, and it is our duty to submit to Providence, who ordereth all things well.

Thomas Jefferson Concerning Jesus and Plato

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“Education is chiefly in the hands of persons who, from their profession, have an interest in the reputation and dreams of Plato. They give the tone while at school, and few in their after years have occasion to revise their college opinions. But fashion and authority apart, and bringing Plato to the test of reason, take from him his sophisms, futilities and incomprehensibilities, and what remains? In truth, he is one of the race of genuine sophists, who has escaped the oblivion of his brethren, first, by the elegance of his diction, but chiefly, by the adoption and incorporation of his whimsies into the body of artificial Christianity. His foggy mind is forever presenting the semblances of objects which, half seen through a mist, can be defined neither in form nor dimensions. Yet this, which should have consigned him to early oblivion, really procured him immortality of fame and reverence. The Christian priesthood, finding the doctrines of Christ levelled to every understanding, and too plain to need explanation, saw in the mysticism of Plato materials with which they might build up an artificial system, which might, from its indistinctness, admit everlasting controversy, give employment for their order, and introduce it to profit, power and pre-eminence. The doctrines which flowed from the lips of Jesus himself are within the comprehension of a child; but thousands of volumes have not yet explained the Platonisms engrafted on them; and for this obvious reason, that nonsense cannot be explained. Their purposes, however, are answered. Plato is canonized; and it is now deemed as impious to question his merits as those of an Apostle of Jesus. He is peculiarly appealed to as an advocate of the immortality of the soul; and yet I will venture to say, that were there no better arguments than his in proof of it, not a man in the world would believe it. It is fortunate for us, that Platonic Republicanism has not obtained the same favor as Platonic Christianity; or we should now have been all living, men, women and children, pell mell together, like beasts of the field or forest. Yet “Plato is a great philosopher,” said La Fontaine. But, says Fontenelle, “Do you find his ideas very clear?” “Oh no! he is of an obscurity impenetrable.” “Do you not find him full of contradictions?” “Certainly,” replied La Fontaine, “he is but a sophist.” Yet, immediately after, he exclaims again, “Oh, Plato was a great philosopher.” Socrates had reason, indeed, to complain of the misrepresentations of Plato; for in truth, his dialogues are libels on Socrates.” (To John Adams, 1814. C. VI., 354.)

See also: MORALITY OF GOVERNMENT by Thomas Jefferson 1810
RELIGIOUS VIEWS OF THOMAS JEFFERSON; source: The Jefferson Bible
Thomas Jefferson Concerning the Political Party Divisions of the Nation

LEAVES FROM AN INTERPRETER’S NOTEBOOK. Rev. John Gardner, D. D. 1920

ChristianPatriotQuoteSelahVery interesting perspective I thought I would share. Very good insight into the love and mercy of God.

Leaves From An Interpreter’s Notebook; by Rev. John Gardner, D. D. published 1920

Psalm 93
In times of national calamity, when monarchs suffer eclipse and mighty empires are disintegrated, it is a great thing for some man to arise who has beheld visions of God, an Isaiah whose eyes have been opened to behold the Lord, high and lifted up, or an Ezekiel who has scanned the livid clouds and discovered at the heart of them the august and majestic presence of Him who reigneth forever and ever. Such a seer penned this psalm.

It ranks with the nineteenth psalm for majesty of conception and fervency of utterance. It enshrines the faith which made Israel invulnerable. Men might destroy their cities, blind their kings, rob their nobles of freedom, yet somehow or other the consciousness of heritage and of destiny never departed from them.

Maclaren says of the series of psalms reaching from the 93rd to the 100th: “Probably the historical fact underlying this new conviction of and triumph in the kingdom of Jehovah is the return from exile, but the tone of prophetic anticipation in these exuberant hymns of confident joy can scarcely fail of recognition. The psalmists sang of an ideal state, to which their most glorious experiences but remotely approximated. They saw not yet all things put under Him, but they were sure that He is king, and they were as sure, though with the certitude of faith fixed on His word and not with that of sight, that His universal dominion would one day be universally recognized and rejoiced in.”

Israel’s faith in the majesty of God made them see an authority presiding over every wild and lawless thing in nature. The surging sea, the thunderstorm, tempest and fire are all beneath His control. His majesty and strength are seen in the continuity of natural law, and in the fact that each year is crowned with fruitfulness. In the midst of the chance and change of the seasons there is consciousness of the fact that the universe is built on pillars that are strong. Let the waves of passion beat on the shore as furiously as they will, there is a limit to their striving, and soon they will be turned into submission.

Whatever the outward seeming might be, Israel turned to the thought of God’s house as the most comforting place in all the world. The awful majesty that subdues raging tempests reveals itself as the refuge and strength of His people, and therefore are they enjoined to approach that house with holiness.

Our Father, we thank Thee that the floods shall not overwhelm us, but that when we pass through deep waters Thou wilt be our comfort and stay. We pray that we may ever worship Thee in the beauty of holiness, that we may approach Thee with reverent awe. Keep back Thy servants from presumptuous sins, and let them not have dominion over us! For Christ’s sake. Amen.

Psalm 94

There are times when belief in the divine omnipotence is the most comforting of all our views of God, when we must know that the world is held in hand by One who is mighty. There are other times when it is imperative that we should know God as the judge of all the earth, who ‘will do righteously. When the faithful ones in Israel were coming to grips with Antiochus Epiphanes they needed to stand together, yet their rulers, including the high priests, became the allies of their foes and actually undertook to punish all who were faithful It was a time when men needed the martyr spirit. And it was a time when they needed to know that the foundations of God’s throne were justice and judgment. This psalm was composed for such a period.

Do not brand a man as hard and narrow and vindictive because he beseeches God to smite and burn the lies that vex our groaning earth. Be ashamed of yourself if looking upon the injustices and wickednesses which torture myriads of human hearts, you have imagined a cosmos which take such things for granted. Sainthood is the mother of compassion. The holy Chr-st trembles with compassion for those who are as sheep having no shepherd.

The psalmist looks on the arrogant rulers of Israel who give themselves airs, and exercise tyranny over the poor and defenseless. The widow and the fatherless, the stranger within the gate cannot protect themselves. A king is supposed to be a kinsman, a strong champion of the defenseless. These over-lords are brutally callous, and strike where they ought to soothe and heal. No one could so act unless he were a believer in a little god. Thank God, there have always been men of moral courage, who, though devoid of material resources, have yet been able to champion the people s cause and to declare the word of the Lord to the rulers of Sodom. As Maclaren says: “Ahab had his Elijah, and Herod his John the Baptist. The succession has been continued through the ages.”

Does oppression yield no benefit? Is not discipline educative? God trains men in a hard school. It is only through the fiery furnace that the eyes of tyrants gain a vision of the Son of God, and it is only in that furnace that men discover the greater Man who is their Comforter and their Saviour.

Do not undervalue that discovery. The way to heaven is narrow and blood-stained, but it is blessed to have heaven within the range, of your aspiring. And do not forget that heaven implies hell. It is a blessed thing to know not merely that by the cross you gain the crown, but also that eternal wrath is kindled against all iniquity and those who devise it. We have a great champion, and can rest on Him as our vindicator. Eternal justice is the foundation on which the heavenly order is to be reared.

O God, who art just in all Thy ways, we worship Thee! We thank Thee that the cause of the weak and the fatherless is Thine, and that Thou wilt do justly to the afflicted and destitute, and wilt rescue those who are weak and needy. We beseech Thee to arise in our time and to justify the confidence of those who put their trust in Thee. Deliver those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, protect all those who call upon Thee! Help us to become like Thee in justice and in compassion! For Christ’s sake. Amen.

Psalm 95

So much of what we call poetry is nothing more than musical speech. We like the sound of our own voices, and use phrases that are rhythmical, even though meaningless. This is true of many of our sacred songs. What, for example, is the meaning of the line, “With eyes majestic after death,” or “Beautiful isle of somewhere”? An oriental poet never writes like that; his phrases are full of meaning. This is best seen in the psalms. We have here a little poem of rejoicing in Jehovah as the creator and ruler of His people, and every phrase counts.

Our worship lacks spontaneity. We follow a routine, we sing by proxy, we seldom ejaculate a fervent hallelujah to Jehovah. The Hebrew puts us to shame, for his sense of God was so acute that the fleecy cloud, the murmuring breeze, the wild tempest, the foam-flecked sea, made him to rejoice and to shout aloud to God. Whenever he looked on the world as revealing

the majesty of God he was constrained to rejoicing, and when he surveyed the page of history or called to mind the Lord’s dealings with himself as with his fathers he was filled with reverent awe.

Do not be too much afraid of anthropomorphism. There is great comfort in believing in the pitying eye of God, in nestling in the everlasting arms, in trusting in the hand of the Almighty. It is blessed to know that we are the sheep of His hand. Maclaren says: “The repeated reference to the hand of Jehovah is striking. In it are held the deeps. It is a plastic hand, forming the land as a potter fashioning his clay. It is a shepherd’s hand, protecting and feeding his flock. ‘The sheep of His hand’ suggests not merely the creative but the sustaining and protecting power of God. It is hallowed forever by our Lord’s words, which may be an echo of it: ‘No man is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.'”

It is possible for us to fail in worship through our too eager exuberancy of speech. The silence of a modern congregation might be a good thing if it were devoted to attentive and reverent listening for the voice of God, but alas! It is not a silence at all. The congregation has hired people to make a noise, and it oftentimes is so loud that men and women come and go from God’s house without hearing a syllable of what the heavenly Father has been speaking to their hearts. This is the danger feared by the psalmist. It is possible for our natures to cease to react, for us to become truth-hardened. The Israelites had witnessed many wondrous deliverances and gracious interventions, and experienced marvelous guidance at the hands of God; yet they had grown insensitive, and had taken things for granted. Led by the cloud and pillar of fire they spoke of each day as common, they became ingrates, their hearts were estranged. So odious did they become that Jehovah hid Himself from them, and let them try their own ways until they found them bitter.

O Lord, forgive our presumptuous sins! Forgive us in that we have taken Thy guidance and protection for granted, and have not had regard for Thy will and Thy glory in the wondrous circumstances which Thou hast arranged for us! Perfect that which is lacking in our faith, wc beseech Thee! Help us to overcome the world, help us to conform ourselves to Thee in all things! For Christ’s sake. Amen.

Psalm 96

The nation that recognizes no responsibility beyond its own security and prosperity, that has no vision beyond its own frontiers, that does not know other peoples save for what it can get out of them, that has no sense of kinship with the world and of a common destiny with the rest of humanity, fails in all that makes for greatness. In the period following the exile Israel found her soul through her sense of mission to the peoples of the world. Instead of expecting all the nations to come to her she recognizes a duty to go to them. Instead of asserting superiority she invites them to amity, and asks them to use her altar fires. In her new temple the Gentile courts were spacious.

Alas! she lost the vision and cluttered up the Gentile courts with booths and weights and measures, turning what was holy into a market place, so that the first act of the Son of man when He reached the Temple after embarking on His mission was to hurl the money-changing tables out of the way, and clear a space for the Gentiles to approach.

The new song is one of gladness in the vision of Jehovah’s authority and sway as being over all. The gods of the Gentiles are nothing, and do nothing for their worshipers, they are impotent and worthless, but Jehovah is surrounded by majesty and splendor, strength and beauty. These are ministers waiting upon Him, these are the atmosphere surrounding His throne.

It may be long before all that the psalmist dreams of will be realized, but the Golden Age will come. Others weave legends of a golden age in the long ago; the man of faith says it is coming in the first or in the third watch.

The language of this psalm is borrowed from several other psalms. It shows men of faith agreeing that Jehovah cannot be limited, and that all men have their heritage in Him. These other people share in the priesthood of believers, and are invited to bring their offering and come into His courts.

See to it that your communion table is always open to reverent and obedient penitent hearts. Do not erect barriers and gates, but let men have free access to the heart of God.

In conclusion the psalmist sees all nature sharing the blessed life. It is the thought of Isaiah and of Paul. As Maclaren says: “A poet invests nature with the hues of his own emotions, but this summons of the psalmist is more than poetry. How the transformation is to be effected is not revealed, but the consuming fires will refine, and at last man will have a dwelling place where environment will correspond to character, where the external will image the inward state, where a new force of the material will be the ally of the spiritual, and perfected manhood will walk in a new heaven and new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.”

Our Father, we would sing and make melody unto Thee because Thou art the judge of all the earth, and guidest the world with righteousness and compassion. We thank Thee for the assurance that one day we shall see all things made new, that nature will have reached perfectness, and the sons of men will know themselves as children of God. Hasten the coming of that day, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord! Amen.

Psalm 97

Kent says: “This psalm is connected with Psalms 93 and 99 by the same impressive introductory formula, ‘Jehovah reigneth.’ Each of these psalms presents a vivid, majestic picture of Jehovah enthroned on high, ruling the universe with the principles of justice and righteousness. Few psalms express more nobly the spirit of worship. Nowhere in human literature is theology taught more impressively and effectively.”

On the other hand, Maclaren connects it with Psalm 96, saying it presents Jehovah as king but from a fresh point of view, representing His rule under the form of a theophany, [Theophany: Manifestation of God that is tangible to the human senses. In its most restrictive sense, it is a visible appearance of God in the Old Testament period] which may possibly be regarded as the fuller description of the coming of Jehovah with which Psalm 96 closes.

The first lesson to be learned is from the quotations with which the psalm abounds. This man builds on the past in the sense that he believes that what God was He is. It is a mistake to imagine that the Lord does not speak directly to men today. He always speaks to those who will listen. Because men could not hear or understand the words that Christ wanted to say has He refrained and does He mean to refrain from saying them? We must learn to say: “I will hear what God the Lord will say unto me: speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth.”

The word does not need to be original in order to be new. It needs to be the word for this time. We do not outgrow the Bible. We shall find our knowledge of God coming as a revelation when we reopen our Bibles and relearn their contents.

Has God withdrawn His theophany because for the time there are mists and clouds hiding it? The psalmist waits for the mists to clear, and is expectant of a partial or complete revelation whenever the clouds break. If we felt the awe of the cloud we should be comforted by the bright light in the cloud. The psalmist is conscious that righteousness is the foundation of His throne, and that glory lies within the mantle of the cloud and shall one day burst on the sight of all. Behind the mystery he is ever sure of the holiness, righteousness, consuming fire, delivering power. Whenever God breaks through the cloud all nations shall know that almightiness expresses itself in loving-kindness. Every false thing which has frightened men will be revealed in its impotence.

In the hour when Jehovah is unveiled gladness will come into hearts which for a brief period were fearful and perplexed. We shall know in that day that when we revolt from evil we are beloved of God. No more wondrous fact exists than that while we were sinners Christ died for us. Yet our personal acquaintance with that love demands that because of it we recoil from and repudiate sin. What comfort there is in the words, “Light shineth forth for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart”

Dear Lord, we thank Thee that in the day when men imagined that the Son of God had been destroyed He was asserting His authority in heaven and in earth, and sending His gospel unto all nations. We adore Thee that in the world’s darkest hour the Spirit of God caused men to see visions and dream dreams, and we pray that we may go forth to do our work as those who have beheld Thy glory and know Thee as rejoicing in righteousness. For Thy name’s sake. Amen.

Psalm 98

Some think that originally this psalm was connected with Psalm 96. It is evident that its author was acquainted with the second part of Isaiah. The psalmist announces the facts concerning God’s deliverances, and responds to them with praise. He thinks the providences of God are self-evident, and must challenge the ends of the earth to adoring wonder and praise. God acts in accordance with His nature. He creates and destroys according to eternal principles. He continues the order of nature, the course of the sun through the heavens, the distillation of moisture, the changing seasons, whether men are good or bad. He so loved the world and commended His love toward the world that while we were yet sinners He gave His only begotten Son, and the attitude of the world to Him does not alter the fact. One day the ends of the earth will recognize the fact, and joy will flood the souls of men. God’s deeds are not dependent on our recognition of them.

More precious than sacrifices and burnt offerings is intelligent, soulful praise. God will never come to His triumph until all men spontaneously respond to the challenge of His loving-kindness and His righteous acts. One day the nations of the earth will share a common emotion and sing a new song in unison. In that day the divine sovereignty will be recognized by the travailing earth, which will have found her redemption and know that her mission is complete. Righteousness and equity are the foundations of the divine government of the world, and when the nations I have learned their lesson and bent themselves beneath the judgments of their Lord, then the universe will break forth into melody, and creation will enter into its rest.

Our Father, we thank Thee that Thou knowest those who are Thine, who grieve over everything that is hostile to Thy will, who are distressed at the abominations which are in the earth. Those who bear the cross shall share the crown. Help us to be faithful, grant unto us grace to endure! May we learn to fill up that which is behind of the sufferings of Christ on behalf of the faithful! In His name. Amen.

Psalm 99

There is no sovereignty like that of holiness. Israel rejoiced in her divine king because His character was the guarantee of His triumph. Holiness combined with infinite power and knowledge seems to make God remote. What can mortals do but stand in awe of Him? And yet, if He is holy He must be just, and His sovereignty is the pledge of righteousness as triumphant in the earth. It is a great discovery to know that the universe is built on moral principles, and that the Judge of all the earth will execute justice and righteousness.

We know the vanity of trusting in the integrity and power of earthly potentates. Emperors and presidents, they alike fall short. Their judgments are partial; they are not impelled by love. Because Jehovah is holy, men may worship Him. This is the secret of Israel’s story. The fathers of the race made discovery of the character of God, and worship became the foundation of society.

Maclaren says: “From venerable examples the psalmist draws instruction as to the nature of the worship befitting the holiness of Jehovah. He goes deeper than all sacrifices, or than silent awe. There is a commerce of desire and bestowal between the holy Jehovah and us. But these answers come on certain conditions, which are plain consequences of His holiness, namely, that His worshipers should keep His testimonies, by which He has witnessed both to His own character and to their duty.”

The psalmist has learned that the very heart of holiness is love, and that it is the character of love to forgive. Yet love and forgiveness have moral qualities. Love does not condone, forgiveness is not blind compassion. There must be suffering where there is disease, and sin is disease. Penalties are inevitable to transgression, and Israel learned by bitter experience that God visits the iniquities of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generations. Only, when Israel is forgiven, it knows that love and goodness are at the heart of suffering, and penalty becomes a means of refinement and ennoblement.

Most gracious and most holy Father, who seekest worshipers who approach Thee in spirit and in truth, we beseech Thee to search us and prove us and see if there be any wicked way in us. Where we are found lacking, show us Thy compassion! Cleanse us from iniquity, and release us from the dominion and power of sin! Help us to love Thee with all our being! For Christ’s sake. Amen.

Psalm 100

There is an imperative in holiness which is felt by all men. Whether holiness displays itself as justice, purity or love it challenges the soul to reverent awe. Its authority is absolute. Worship is man’s response to the challenge of holiness. Because Jehovah is God the whole earth is commanded to pay Him homage.

Israel’s history is a witness to the character of God. All the earth can read the record. He has proved Himself a jealous God and a consuming fire, He has displayed His glory in loving-kindness and tender mercy. He has shown Himself a God of deliverances, a present help in trouble. This is the secret of Israel’s joy in worship. Her temple stands open to all the earth.

Maclarcn says: “The depths of sorrow, both of that which springs from outward calamities and of that more heart-breaking sort which wells up from dark fountains in the soul, have been sounded in many a psalm. But the Psalter would not reflect all the moods of the devout soul unless it had some strains of unmingled joy.”

Not only does Jehovah show forth His majesty in Israel’s story but also in all nature. His character is consistent. From everlasting to everlasting He is God, and His nature is definable in terms of goodness. Kindness is the key to the heart of God. We do well to sing:

“There’s a wideness in God’s mercy
Like the wideness of the sea;
And the heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind.”

How can the beholders of loving-kindness withhold the homage of their hearts? No wonder the psalmist anticipates the day when Israel’s hosannas will be mingled with the praise of all the earth.

Our Father, we pray for grace to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus. When we seek Thy face we would entreat Thee in His name; as we confront the circumstances of life and look upon the restless sea of human life we would be possessed of His spirit; when entering the garden of sorrow and facing the challenge of faith zee would learn from Him the secret of self-abnegation; when conscious of the approach of the last enemy we would be of good cheer because He has overcome the world. Help us so to live, we beseech Thee! Amen.

Psalm 101

Commentators have taken widely different views of the authorship of this psalm. Some have called it an ideal description of a Jewish king. Perowne thinks that it may have been written by David in the early part of his reign, when his heart was so true to his God, and Maclaren takes the same view. Kent, on the other hand, avers: “This psalm is an important historical document. In 1 Maccabees 14. [Maccabees also spelled Machabees, four books, none of which is in the Hebrew Bible but all of which appear in some manuscripts of the Septuagint.] 14 it is recorded of Simon, the Maccabean ruler, that “he strengthened all the distressed of his people, he was full of zeal for the law, and every lawless and wicked person he banished.’ There is every reason to believe that this psalm voices the ideals of Simon.” Whoever was the author, the psalm presents us with a mirror for rulers which has significance for all time.

First, a king should be a man of such integrity, moral courage, honor and justice that men can trust him. He is ideally a divine vicegerent, and therefore should build his life on the character of God, who is just and merciful. Every man should have a standard to which he conforms his motives and acts, and a king should take God for his pattern. This king builds his life on piety. In the next place, he recognizes his personal responsibility and the need for singleness of aim. Further, he realizes the influence of environment on judgments; a man is responsible for his friends and advisers. “Walk with wise men and thou shalt be wise, but the companion of fools shall smart for it.” Because of his responsibility this king beseeches God to dwell within him and to enable him to walk in a perfect way. No man is safe until he has made certain moral repudiations.

Second, a king should have a pure court The corruption in kings’ palaces has become a byword. The courtesan, the deceiver, the seeker for place and power, the slanderer, have wrought mischief in all countries and in all ages. This man will permit none but honorable men to occupy places of distinction. Maclaren says: “The vices against which he will implacably war are not gross crimes such as ordinarily bring down the sword of public justice. This monarch has regard to more subtle evils,—slander, superciliousness, inflated vanity. His eyes are quick to mark ‘the faithful in the land. He looks for those whose faithfulness to God guarantees their fidelity to men and their general reliableness. In that court dignity and office will go not to talent, or to crafty acts of senility, or to birth, but to moral and religious qualities.”

Third, this ruler will try to make his personal ideals the standards for civil and political life throughout the country. “Fast as evil springs under shelter of darkness, it shall be destroyed with the returning light. The allusion is, doubtless, to the oriental custom of holding courts of law in the early morning. Day by day will he exercise his work of righteous judgment, purging out all ungodliness from the Holy City.” We do well to have these verses in mind when choosing our rulers, remembering that as are the rulers so are the governed. Godly men have a great responsibility for the well-being of the state.

O Lord, our heavenly Father, the high and mighty Ruler of the universe, who dost from Thy throne behold all the dwellers upon earth, most heartily we beseech Thee with Thy favor to behold and bless all who are in authority, and so replenish them with the grace of Thy Holy Spirit that they may always incline to Thy will, and walk in Thy ways! Endue them plentcously with heavenly gifts, grant them in health and prosperity long to live, and finally, after this life, to attain everlasting joy and felicity, through Jesus Christ our Lord! Amen.

Psalm 102.1-11

These are the words of a personal sufferer. It may be that they have been taken up by a community of suffering saints, for somehow each man’s experience is the key to our common humanity. Originally, however, the words were not for liturgical use, but the expression of an individual’s anguish.

The psalmist was already acquainted with the outpourings of other singers of the songs of Zion. The wise man will fortify himself with the words of God, that he may draw upon them in days of trouble. This man is not a copyist; the words of Scripture are so much a part of himself that he uses them spontaneously to express his own emotion. His condition is pitiable. His life is passing as smoke, fever is burning in him, he is like one suffering from sunstroke, he is emaciated with suffering and pain. His anguish is mental as well as physical, and drives him in upon himself. He is as solitary as a pelican, which is described as the most somber of birds; he is like an owl in a ruined fortress, or a sparrow that has lost its mate and laments on the house top for hours. His enemies say that God has made a public spectacle of him.

That which adds wormwood and gall to his cup is the thought that he suffers because God is angry with him. Sin is the root of his misery. So terrible is God that He has thrust forth His hand and taken this poor man into His grip, and hurled him aloft and away as an utterly worthless and contemptible thing. The figure is so violent that one shrinks from the thought that any man could employ it of himself, and inclines to the idea that it must have been employed to describe the experience of Israel. If, however, it leads to a new and deeper experience of God as One whose every act is inspired by love and grace, and creates a belief that judgment is redemptive, then it can be read as a gospel. And that is what we find in the words which follow, and which are a song of Zion’s deliverance.

We thank Thee, O God, for that discipline whereby Thou dost separate that

in us which is excellent, which reveals us as Thy offspring, from that which is worthless. Thou dost test us and purify us, Thou dost sift us and sanctify us. Thou canst not be satisfied if we fail of the best. Give us grace to know Thy purpose in the midst of discipline, that so we may be submissive and patient, ever believing in Thy wisdom and love! For Christ’s sake. Amen.

Psalm 102.12-28

It is a great moment in a man’s life when facing his individual grief, or the calamities of the nation, he is constrained to say of God the omnipotent, “But Thou I” Perowne says: “This is the great consolatory thought by which he rises above his sorrow. He, the individual, may perish, but Zion’s hopes rest on her eternal King.”

And yet this might seem, as Calvin remarks, a far-fetched consolation. What is it to us that God changeth not, that He sitteth king forever, if meanwhile our condition is so frail and feeble that we cannot continue for a moment? His unchangeable peace and blessedness do but make our life seem the more complete mockery. But the psalmist recalls God’s promises to Zion, especially that great covenant promise: “I will dwell in the midst of you.” Resting on this, he feels sure that God’s children, however miserable their state, shall have their share in that heavenly glory wherein God dwelleth. Because God changes not His promise and covenant change not, and therefore we may ever lift our eyes to His throne in heaven, from which He will surely stretch forth His hand to us.

How can men face life unless their faith is rooted in a personal God whose name and nature they know? It seems as though each man ought not to risk life’s adventure until he has made the great discovery. Jacob’s life was vacillating until he had wrestled with his problem. To believe in a personal God is to believe in a set time for the revelation of His power and delivering mercy. He is interested in our ideals, and it is His purpose to make them actualities.

Because of what shall happen to us the whole world will learn to worship Jehovah. Maclaren says: “The psalmist’s confidence teaches us never to despair of the future of God’s church, however low its present state, but to look down the ages in calm certainty that however externals may change the succession of God’s children will never fail, nor the voice of their praise ever fall silent.”

There is more in this psalmist’s song than he himself imagines. When we turn to the Epistle to the Hebrews we find his language quoted as a fore-gleam of the coming Messiah in whom creation and redemption met and blended, in whom Jehovah’s actions were completed. Words uttered by one whose eyes had been washed by tears found their interpretation in Jesus, in whom God was manifest.

Our God, we praise Thee for the new day with which Thou hast blessed us. Once we were separate from Christ, now we are reconciled; once we had no lot in Thy kingdom, now we are enfranchised; once we were in a silent universe, now we hear and recognize Thy voice; once we had no hope, now our souls have found a sure anchorage; once we had no God, now we know Thee as our Father. Help us to live in the happiness of love! For Christ’s sake. Amen.

Psalm 103.1-5

“This psalm is a meditation as well as a prayer of adoration. Its appreciation of Jehovah’s character and attitude toward men, its childlike, filial trust, and its faith in His universal kingdom and rule, all connect it closely with the teachings of Jesus.” It is built on those words found in Exodus 34.6: “Jehovah, tenderly compassionate and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.”

There is not one sad note in the whole of this psalm. From beginning to end it pulsates with joy. The psalmist is enraptured with God. He would not merely sing of the divine faithfulness, nor bow in reverent awe before the ineffable Presence, but he would challenge every faculty, his reason, his emotions, his will, his moral nature, everything that is high and good, to ascribe adoration unto Jehovah.

Our first betrayal is in our recollectedness. We take providence for granted. We accept the benefactions of God as matters of course. The psalmist will guard his soul against the sin of ingratitude. Therefore he recounts the wondrous mercies of which he has been recipient.

There is the blessing of forgiveness. When standing in the white light of love the soul becomes conscious of its blemishes and pollutions. If we may yet call upon God and know ourselves as the objects of His regard, it is because of His pardoning love.

There is the blessing of healing, not only of a body that is diseased but of a sick soul also. Augustine says: “Even when sin is forgiven thou still carriest about with thee an infirm body. Death is not yet swallowed up in victory, this corruptible hath not yet put on incorruption, still the soul herself is shaken by passions and temptations. But thy sicknesses shall all be healed, doubt it not! They are great, thou wilt say, but the Physician is greater. God made thy body, God made thy soul. He knoweth how to re-create that which He created, He knoweth how to re-form that which He formed. Only be thou still under the hands of the Physician.”

Not only does God rescue a man from the grave, He makes his life a beatification. The glory of God is His loving-kindness and tender mercy, and with these He crowns His beloved, He grants to him the secret of perennial youth. Maclaren says: “How should a man thus dealt with grow old? The body may, but not the soul. Rather it will drop powers that can decay, and for each thus lost will gain a stronger moulting and not be stripped of its wings, though it changes their feathers.”

Our Father, we would learn to keep silence before Thee. Our lives are like the surging sea, tossed by care and need. We pray for the grace of silence, that so we may hear what Thou hast to say to us. For Christ’s sake. Amen.

Psalm 103.6-9

What is the foundation of the psalmist’s confidence? It is the product of experience, but it is founded upon the declared character of God. Because the Lord reigneth in the exercise of righteousness, because He is declared to be the champion of the weak, because all history bears testimony to the character of His government of the race, because He has revealed His nature and His will through Moses to the children of the covenant, therefore the psalmist challenges every attribute of his being to adoration. “He is not spinning a filmy idea of a God out of his own consciousness, but he has learned all that he knows of Him from His historical self-revelation.”

Beware of those ideas which are merely the objectivisation of your best self and which vain men would label God, and of that talking to your best ideas which is foolishly misnamed prayer. Make sure that you bend your knees to God, the Father almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and that He hears prayer.

The background of faith is the actuality of God’s reign in the earth, the belief that He intervenes. He is not silent, He has not created a vast machine and left it to work. He is in a world of free beings where wills may be set in defiance of His will and for the perpetuation of wickedness, and He has determined that justice shall triumph. Man’s safety and peace lie in the discovery of God’s ways of acting. Moses described the secret of a good man’s life when he offered the prayer: “If I have found grace in Thy sight, shew me now Thy way, that I may know Thee!” To that prayer there came a gracious answer: “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” The psalmist builds on that word as the revelation of God, and great peace floods his soul.

If the Almighty were in eternal opposition to us, if there were no further revelation than that His face is against them that do evil, we should become fatalists rather than the children of eager anticipation. Isaiah tells us: “For not forever will I contend, and not perpetually will I be angry; for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made.” God does not cherish a grudge against us. The champion of the oppressed, He is also full of wise understanding and tender solicitude. This is the foundation of the gospel, this is why men repent of sin; the goodness of Jehovah leads them to repentance. .

O God, we would rest in Thy love, we would surrender ourselves to Thy control. Help us to sit at Thy feet as Thy dear children, reveal unto us Thy way, grant us the spirit of self-forgetfulness in Thy service, help us to be sincere and to respond to the promptings of Thy Spirit! For Christ’s sake. Amen.

Psalm 103.10-12

God is not a harsh and vindictive judge. He has no pleasure in punishment. The Scriptures are full of the sorrows of God; He bears our sins and carries our griefs. His punishments are for our correction, and every one of them is potential with blessing.

Psalm 36 testifies: “Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; and Thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds”; and Psalm 57: “Thy mercy is great unto the heavens, and Thy truth unto the clouds.” So here the psalmist exults in the fact that as high as the heavens are above the earth, so mighty is His loving-kindness upon them that fear Him. The idea is that God’s love is immeasurable. We have no instrument by which we can gauge its magnitude and strength. As Maclaren says: “Traverse heaven to the zenith, and from sunrise to sunset, to find distances distant enough to express the towering height of God’s mercy and the completeness of His removal from us of our sins.”

The fact of God’s love is demonstrated by its relationship to our sins. The Bible is the only book in the world that frankly faces the sin of man in its relation to God; it is the only book that adequately describes sin; it is the only book that believes in its forgiveness. We start with the first sin and its penalty, we end with the invitation to take the water of life freely; between we have been shown the anguish of hell, where the fire is unquenched and the worm does not die, and we are told of the greater anguish of One who bore our sins and died that we might be forgiven. The Old Testament tells us that God will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea, that He will cast them behind His back, that “as far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us.” The New Testament tells us how and why He has done it, how the grace of God hath appeared bringing salvation to all men. Let us adore the Lord who can abundantly pardon!

Our Father, be with us as we go forth into life! Grant that we may not become so absorbed in our work that we forget our responsibility for the development of Christlike characters! May our souls become our chief concern, and their nurture our main business! Let the love df Christ become the constraining force in all our judgments! For His sake. Amen.

Psalm 103.13, 14

The last thought which men have entertained of God is that of father. The history of religion outside of Christianity is not the record of children meeting their heavenly Father. Fear hangs like a pall over the lives of the non-Christian world. It is difficult to persuade men who are not acquainted with the story of Christ that God is like a father. Someone has said: “Men said, God was like Hercules in the invincible strength with which He crushed the evils of the world and made an end of them. Later still Plato advanced the suggestion that God was like a ‘geometer,’ a thinker and fashioner, full of ideas and ideals. In this most wonderful and most gracious lyric, the 103rd Psalm, the seer surpasses all the great historical religions and pictures God to us as a pitiful, compassionate, sin-forgiving and soul-healing father, and thus supplies the basis for the most true, most worthy, and most inspiring conception of God.”

We need to begin our thought about life with the pity of God. It is the core of religion. Eight times over in the gospels we are told of Him who was the revealer of God: “Seeing the multitude He was moved with compassion.” Providence is the record of forbearance, adaptation, pity. The incarnation is the doctrine of the Son of God’s identification with lost humanity.

“He remembereth that we are dust.” Dust is synonymous with frailty. God knows us and our frailty, and pities us. He knows our frame, and remembers the duality of our nature, our ignorance, the incidents of our career, the force of circumstance, the tyranny of habit, the fetters of ignorance.

God’s pity is on them that fear Him. Fear is different from dread, fear is not to be identified with terror. Fear is the opposite of recklessness; it means reverence, recognizing the solemn responsibility of life. Ruskin says: “Among the children of God, while there is always that fearful and bowed apprehension of His majesty and that sacred dread of all offense to Him which is called the fear of God, yet of real and essential fear there is not any, but clinging of confidence to Him as their rock, fortress and deliverer.”

Our Father, we rejoice in the constancy of Thy presence. We thank Thee that even our transgressions do not hide us from Thee. Thine eye seest us in our sin as in our righteousness, and when our hearts cry out against us Thou art greater than our hearts, and declarest to us Thy message of love, Thy willingness to pardon. Accept our adoration, we beseech Thee! In Christ’s name. Amen.

Psalm 103.15-22

A being fragile as a potter’s vase needs to be handled gently. A life like a prairie flower, which expresses itself for a moment in beauty and fragrance and then wilts and withers, is pathetic in its weakness and appeals to the great Artificer. Sometimes the thought of human life as possessed of the frailty of a flower brings comfort to a man who watches those who do iniquitous deeds. It is a comfort to know that the mighty arm of oppression will lose its force. Sometimes it is tragic, as when we see a generation of struggling, aspiring, loving, hating men and woman passing away and leaving no trace behind. In those hours a man needs to make discovery of God the unchangeable, in order that he may remain a child of hope and realize the comfort of His presence.

Again we find comfort in the loving-kindness of God toward them that fear Him. As Perowne says: “As if to remind us that there is a love within a love,—a love which they only know who have tasted that the Lord is gracious, who fear Him and walk in His ways,—as well as a love which maketh the sun to shine, and sendeth rain upon the just and the unjust. In the next verse there is the same limitation, To such as keep His covenant, and to those who not only know but do His will. The blessings of the covenant are no inalienable right. Children’s children can only inherit its blessings by cleaving to it.”

From thought of self the psalmist listens to the universe, and learns that all nature is vocal. The challenge to his soul is met by the chorus of created things, mighty warriors of the air and sky, winds and lightnings and every force that expresses itself and fulfills the will of Him who sends it forth. Everything is articulate with praise. How then shall he who is the interpreter of nature remain silent? He will add his voice to the chorus, and sing his hymn of praise with every element of being.

Our Father in heaven, we pray that the light of life may shine within us, that in the hour when the Bridegroom comcth we may be found with our lamps trimmed and burning, our loins girt, our feet shod, our souls prepared. Teach us to wait for the coming of our Lord! Amen.

Psalm 104.1-4

The psalmist starts out with the idea of nature as the ever-changing vesture of God, and in this psalm we have an interpretation of the goings forth of the Eternal, and the response of nature to His presence.

The universe is not adrift in space, it is ordered and controlled by Him who made it and who directs its way. It is not capable of continuance without His wise control and supervision. God has not made the universe a finished thing. He only rested from His labor of creation when man appeared. Since then He has been active, renewing the face of the earth, leading all creation to its goal. Of each new generation it is true He giveth life and breath and all things.

Some have conjectured that the psalmist may have been in Egypt and become acquainted with certain Egyptian songs of creation, but anyone who has compared the sacred odes of other nations with those of Israel knows that there is a sublimity and purity and moral consciousness about these latter which make them unique. “The psalm is a gallery of vivid nature-pictures, touched with wonderful grace and sureness of hand.” It has been called the Psalm of the Cosmos.

Look then upon the activity of God. He takes to Himself a vesture of light. The vesture hides Him, yet expresses Him. Calvin says: “In comparing the light to a robe he signifies that though God is invisible yet His glory is manifest. If we speak of His essential being, it is true that He dwelleth in light inaccessible; but inasmuch as He irradiates the whole world with His glory, this is a robe wherein He in some measure appears to us as visible, who in Himself had been hidden.” How sublime are the divine actions! The speeding face of the sky is like the shaping out of a tent in which one would sojourn for a moment

Listen to the voice of the wind; how aloof, how solemn, how kind! Newman says: “But how do the wind and water, earth and fire move? Now here Scripture interposes, and seems to tell us that all this wonderful harmony is the work of angels. Those events which we ascribe to chance (as the weather), or to nature (as the seasons), are duties done to that God who maketh His angels to be winds, and His minister a flame of fire. Thus whenever we look abroad we are reminded of those most gracious and holy beings, the servants of the Holiest, who deign to minister to the heirs of salvation. Every breath of air and ray of light and heat, every beautiful prospect is (as it were) the skirt of their garments, the waving of the robes of those whose faces see God in heaven.”

“Father, we thank Thee for the world about us, and above, and beneath. We bless Thee for the austere loveliness of the wintry heavens, for those fixed or wandering fires which lend their splendor to the night, for the fringe of beauty wherewith Thou borderest the morning and the evening sky, and for this daily sun sending his roseate flush of light across the white and wintry world. Amen”

Psalm 104. 5-18

The psalmist’s view of creation is that beneath the heaving mass of waters God was forming the earth in all its beauty of hill and valley, watercourse and broadspreading prairie. In the moment of unveiling He rebuked the sea, and it was gathered within its bounds. No one has expounded the theme more eloquently than John Milton:

“Ye mists and exhalations that now arise From hill or streaming lake, dusky or gray Till the sun paint your fleecy skirts with gold, In honor to the world’s great Author rise. Whether to deck with clouds the uncolored sky, Or wet the thirsty earth with falling showers, Rising or falling, still advance His praise. His praise, ye winds that from four quarters blow, Breathe soft or loud. And wave your tops, ye pines, With every plant in sign of worship wave.”

The psalmist sees tokens of beneficence on every hand. Particularly does he lay emphasis on the watercourses, the rains and dews which are essentially gifts of God, and the generators of life to herb and beast and man. “The mountains are mentioned not only because on them the clouds rest, from them the streams descend, but because Palestine was a land of mountains and of valleys, ‘of the rain of heaven it drinketh water.'” The fruit of the earth combined with human industry provides a banqueting table as is described in verse 15. Jehovah is not sparing in His gifts, He bestows His blessings with a lavish hand.

Our God, who hast given to this age its solemn task, we pray that Thou wouldst enable it to make it nobler and stronger than the age that has passed. Grant that it may be guided and instructed by prophetic souls who shall establish what is right, and expose and condemn everything that is evil! Let it know the blessedness of pardoned sin, the privilege of sacrificial service! We ask it for Christ’s sake. Amen.

Psalm 104.19-35

Maclaren says: “With verse 19 the psalmist thinks of moon and sun only in relation to the alternation of day and night as affecting creatural life on earth. The moon is named first because the Hebrew day began with the evening. It is the measurer, by whose phases seasons (or, according to some, festivals) are reckoned. The sun is a punctual servant, knowing the hour to set and duly keeping it. ‘Thou appointest darkness, and it is night.’ God wills, and

His will effects material changes. He says to His servant night, ‘Come,’ and she comes.” Do not lose the poetry of life. Beware lest science blind the eyes of your heart, and the universe become to you a vast nothingness.

Very fine is the psalmist’s delineation of the business of the night. The hours in which wild beasts can issue from their lairs and pursue their hunting, are the hours in which man the worker may find rest and refreshment for the challenging moments of dawn. Man needs food, but unlike the beasts he cannot live by hunting. If he is to be a man he must live by digging and delving. The world lies around him rich in possibilities, his business is to create out of it a harvest field, a mine, a city of habitation. He creates a family, a society, a church. His manhood, all that is implied in the term humanity, is the product of work. Man finds the key to life in the words of Jesus Christ: “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” Man makes discovery of himself in his labor.

“Not God Himself can make man’s best Without best man to help Him. ‘Tis God gives skill, But not without man’s hands: He could not make Antonio Stradivari’s violins Without Antonio.”

Not only is there a poetry of night and of work, but also of the sea. Perowne says: “Then he remembers that there is one vast field of creative wonders of which as yet he has said nothing. The sea, too, has its life,—a life in its depths, of things small and great, a life of coral insect as well as of the whale, and also a life on its surface, where go the ships carrying the thoughts and the passions, the skill and the enterprise of human hearts.”

Happy indeed must God be in the music of the spheres, happy in beholding a world divinely fair, happy in witnessing the effort, the aspiration, the prayers of men. Happy should man be that he has such a God as creator and friend. Ashamed he ought to be in that his sin has marred the harmony of creation. No wonder that at last the human soul reaches an ecstasy, and cries for the first time, Hallelujah!

With gladsome minds we praise Thee, O God, for Thy kindness, Thy mercy and Thy faithfulness. We magnify Thee for the majesty of Thy strength, the infinitude of Thy resources. Thy bounty is on every, hand, Thy providence is over all Thy works. Help us to live before Thee in reverence, gratitude and obedient service! For Christ’s sake. Amen.

Psalm 105

Verses 1-15 are to be found in 1 Chronicles 16. The principle underlying the psalm is that we know what God is like by learning what God has done. The Bible is a statement of facts. God made the heavens and the earth and man. God called Abraham, God moulded Jacob, God overruled the malicious schemes of Jacob’s sons toward their brother Joseph, and turned a young man’s misery into a gospel for the human race. God was in Egypt, and in His own time called His sons out of Egypt. The whole of Israel’s story was a revelation of God to the nations.

If we were to think more on the lessons of history our lives would be more praiseful, and we should have greater confidence in the divine providence. Our praise is so empty because we have been shallow in our thinking. If we knew God as our ally life would assume a new significance.

Someone has spoken of the names ascribed to Israel as indicating their obligations as “secretaries of God’s praise.” God’s relation to Israel was of His own volition, the covenant which He made was because of His love, and the long record of His doings demonstrated His faithfulness.

Do not entertain vague ideas; become positive in your knowledge and belief that God is in your life and is guiding it in mercy. If the divine covenant implies obligations on His part, it also involves obligations on the part of His chosen. The covenant was renewed to each generation. God holds relationship to you as definitely as to your father and mother. Calamities do not imply change on God’s part; they involve suffering, but they also develop knowledge, strength, power; they lead to new discoveries of riches of mind and heart. The psalmist knows the whole dread story of Israel’s suffering in Egypt, but he knows that it was the pathway to glory. The tender mercy of God is over all His works.

We thank Thee, O God, that we have learned to trust Thy wisdom, and know that Thy will is good, when it holds us back as when it speeds us on our way. Thou dost sail life’s sea with us, and we shall not be destroyed, but shall reach the haven of our desire! Give unto us a deeper repose of soul, we beseech Thee! For Christ’s sake. Amen.

Psalm 106

This psalm deals with the same theme as the last, but from a different point of view. History vindicates God as true and righteous altogether; history is a long record of humanity’s failure to do and be according to its covenant. No man can study history without being inspired to a belief that at the heart of things there is invincible, everlasting justice. On the other hand, the historian knows the tragedies that arise from faults of temper. Kent says that in this psalm “the general theory of Israel’s history is that of the author of the book of Judges; it was a repeated cycle of rebellion, affliction at the hands of heartless foes, and divine deliverance.” It extols the goodness of Jehovah, and invokes His favor. It tells of His care over an ungrateful people during the exodus and in the wilderness and at Horeb as well as on the borders of Canaan. It continues the story at Baalpeor, Meribah, in Canaan, under the Assyrians and in exile. The soul cannot but exult in God, it cannot but be ashamed of Israel’s failure.

Israel occupies so unique a place in history because her patriots were ready to point out her failures, and she accepted the reproach and made it a litany. America suffers because she has been fed on Decatur’s words: “My country, may she always be in the right; but my country, right or wrong!” She needs to learn to accept rebuke, to humble herself before God.

This psalmist exults in God; the remembrance of the divine love brings happiness, and challenges to prayer. But the other side of things must be faced. The fathers have sinned, and their children have condoned their iniquity. The story of each generation is of faithlessness, ingratitude, obstinacy. Again and again there has been open rebellion against God, deliberate repudiation of morality, assault upon righteous leaders and holy institutions. They have bartered away their God, and got nothing but misery in exchange. When they became apostate they sank to the lowest depths. The gods they chose instead of Jehovah were bestial, and the service they rendered them was infamous. No wonder God was angry.

Yet the story does not end there. Jehovah’s love and compassion persisted, His patience and longsuffering continued through long generations. Prayer is answered, and God’s favor is restored to His penitent people again. No wonder that the psalm closes with Hallelujah!

O Love divine, infinite in tenderness and condescension, we trust Thee in the midst of our sorrows and distresses, for Thy nearness comforts us. When we go into dark shadows Thou art by our side; -when journeying through desert places Thou art as the shadow of a rock; when lonely and disconsolate the wind whispers Thy name and assures us of Thy presence. Blessed be Thy name! Teach us to rejoice in Thee! Through Christ. Amen.

Psalm 107.1-9

Kent says: “This psalm contains a strong liturgical element. The horizon is not limited to Palestine, but includes the distant lands of the dispersion. In imagination the reader beholds caravans making long journeys through the parched, trackless desert far away from inhabited cities. He shares their joy as at last they are guided to the populous, well-watered city which is the goal of their pilgrimage. He sees captives dragged into distant exile living the life of slaves, in bonds and afflicted by the lash of the taskmaster. Again the vision changes, and he shares the trials and the perils of sailors helplessly tossed by the storm. If not written in one of the lands of the dispersion this psalm is certainly from one who had traveled widely, and observed closely, and himself participated in the life that lay beyond the bounds of Palestine.”

The problem which every good man must face is this: in, times of suffering and calamity is it worth while praying to God? Is providence active? Does God will to interfere in response to the pleading of His children? The psalmist believes that God does interfere, that when trouble drives man to God He shows Himself ready and waiting to be gracious. To emphasize his belief the psalmist pictures life under a variety of figures, each graphically portraying human extremity and the divine intervention.

First, he shows us life under the figure of a caravanserai in the desert. There is nothing but a trackless waste, no oasis, no hillock from which to take your bearings, no water, no shade. Distress has laid its cruel hand upon their spirits. No knowledge of desert life and ways is of value. Their souls are submerged in despair, they are lost, they walk in a circle and ever come back on their tracks. In desperation they cry to God, and beseech Him to guide them in a straight line until they reach an inhabited place.

O God, who givest us all things richly to enjoy, we would not forget Thee in our joy at Thy gifts; we would not derive from Thee life and every good, and yet live as though there were no God. We pray that each day we may enjoy a larger revelation of Thy presence and Thy blessing. Help us to live for Thee, and to become each day more worthy to live with Thee! For Christ’s sake. Amen.

Psalm 107. 10-16

The man who wrote these words knew the prophecies of Isaiah. Compare Isaiah 42.7 and 49.9: “To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners’ from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house”—”That Thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves.”

Israel had literally known the bondage that is the penalty of sin. The pity, the shame, the horror of it was in the soul of the prophets and psalmists. What does it mean? Is the lesson merely the fearful looking-for of judgment and fiery indignation that shall destroy God’s adversaries? No; there is a gospel of doom.

Punishment follows transgression. Sin blinds the soul’s vision and fetters the soul’s freedom, not because God delights in seeing the wicked suffer but yearns to protect the wicked from destruction. He is behind the fetters, as the social instinct is behind law in every civilized community. So He is near when man (or nation) comes to himself, when the heart sobs out its confession and pleads for the privilege of doing something in return for which it may eat spiritual food and dwell in the Father’s house.

Yes, sin drives us into exile, sin enslaves, sin generates the feelings, appetites and outlook of slaves, sin fetters, sin lays on us the lash of a harsh taskmaster. Maclaren says: “Is not godless life ever bondage? And is not rebellion against God the sure cause of falling under a harsher dominion? And does He not listen to the cry of a soul that feels the slavery of subjection to self and sin? And is not true enlargement found in His free service? And does He not give power to break the strongest chains of habit?” Yes, it is God who makes it hard for man to sin; it is God who snaps fetters and bids the enslaved man go forth into a large, free, righteous world.

O God, we thank Thee that Thou hast made our cars to hear Thy voice, and hast brought seeing to our eyes, and understanding to our hearts; that through Thy grace our nature is at last alive, and we begin to discover the strength of manhood. Thy love is forever wooing us. Thou callest us to possess the land of promise, and there to build a temple and a home. Help us to be wholly Thine! For Christ’s sake. Amen.

Psalm 107.17-22

Sin is not merely as confusing as a trackless desert in which the lost man wanders aimlessly, returning on his steps, without refreshment or shelter or hope, exposed to illusions and desperate; or the fettering of mind and soul driving us into exile, beclouding the vision; it also is like sickness that is the result of folly. This is the foolishness of sinning, that even when men begin to reap the harvest of suffering and disease they persist in their wickedness.

The penalties of wrongdoing are not merely physical, dire as the pains of transgression may be. Who does not know the sickness that follows loss of temper, the strain of nerve that is the result of avarice, the corruption that follows lust? The facts have been reported by text-books, by newspapers, by reports of doctors and magistrates. Yet these are not so awful as the sickness of soul that brings perversity, fear and all the horrors of death and judgment.

Yet these miseries drive us to God, and He answers through His word. He speaks healing words to the penitent soul, He makes known a gospel in the person of His Son, who bears our sins and carries our sorrows. Who can refrain from exulting gladness who knows that it is the Lord who healeth him?

Dear Lord, the desire of every human heart, we praise Thee for the healing of Thy presence, for the constraints of love which draw us to Thy heart. Men may not know that that which they crave is Thy presence, but Thou interpretest their tears and their sighing, and comest to them with healing in Thy wings. Help us to make Thee known! Hasten the day when Thy messengers shall have reached every clime and every people with the word of truth! For Thy name’s sake. Amen.

Psalm 107.23-31

A fourth picture of human misery finding its cure in God is found in a voyage on a storm-tossed sea. Perowne says: “It is painted as a landsman would paint it, but yet only as one who had himself been exposed to the danger could paint the storm, —the waves running mountains high on which the tiny craft seemed a plaything, the helplessness of human skill, the gladness of the calm, the sure refuge in the haven.” He goes on to quote Addison in the Spectator, who preferred this description of a ship in a storm before any other he had ever met with, and for the same reason for which “Longinus recommends one in Homer, because the poet has not amused himself with little fancies upon the occasion, as authors of an inferior genius whom he mentions had done, but because he has gathered together those circumstances which are the most apt to terrify the imagination, and which really happened in the raging of a tempest. How much more comfortable as well as rational is this system of the psalmist than the pagan scheme in Virgil and other poets, where one deity is represented as raising a storm, and another as laying it! Were we only to consider the sublime in this piece of poetry, what can be nobler than the idea it gives us of the Supreme Being thus raising a tumult among the elements and recovering them out of their confusion, thus troubling and becalming nature?”

There are souls who embark upon the perilous sea of life intent only on their business and their pleasure, who regard the awful majesty of God, yet without reverence. The tempests take them by surprise. Passion and desire sweep through them. The consequences of their wilfulness come back upon them in the furies. At first they brace themselves to the task of mastering circumstances, but ultimately their knowledge, skill, and cunning, their powers of endurance fail, and they fall back beaten and desperate. Then it is that they recognize their need of God, and in response to the cry of anguish He hushes the tempest into a zephyr, and leads them back to safety and to the challenge of the sanctuary.

True repentance leads a man into fellowship with God’s people. He who knows the blessedness of rescue from the furies feels the constraint of confession. He must tell what God has done for his soul.

Our Master, we thank Thee that our lives are known to Thee from their first dawning to their close. Our sufferings and griefs are understood by Thee, for Thou hast traversed our way. When we are tempted it is not beyond the intensity of testing which Thou didst bear. We rejoice in Thy presence, and in the sympathy and love Thou dost manifest to us. Help us to overcome, we beseech Thee! Amen.

Psalm 107. 33-43

Perowne says: “The character of the psalm changes at this point. We have no longer distinct pictures as before; the beautiful double refrain is dropped, the language is harsher and more abrupt. Instead of fresh examples of deliverance from peril and thanksgiving for God’s mercies we have now instances of God’s providential government of the world exhibited in two series of contrasts. The first of these is contained in verses 33-38, and expresses a double change,—the fruitful, well-watered land smitten, like the rich plain of Sodom, with desolation and changed into a salt marsh; and anon the wilderness crowned with cities, like Tadmor, and made fertile to produce corn and wine. The second is contained in verses 39-41, and expresses somewhat obscurely the changes in the fortunes of man (as the last series did those of countries), viz., how the poor and the humble are raised, and the rich and the proud overthrown.”

Many a man through sin finds his life turned into bitterness, the fertility in which he rejoiced becoming nothing more than a salt marsh. Sin is delusive. It promises adventure and achievement, it gives bitterness and barrenness. Sin is a withering blight on life. On the other hand, many a life that seemed ruined and dead, nothing but a salt marsh, has been made verdant, beautiful, life-giving, the habitation of all manner of beautiful and mighty thoughts and achievements. The miracle of the twice-born is the most romantic story the world has ever heard.

Sometimes wickedness asserts itself as tyranny. It attacks the innocent, and seizes the fair smiling land in which honest hearted men have built their homes, and to which they have devoted their strength. Yet God has a way of putting tyrants to confusion, and driving them forth into the desert where they have no wisdom with which to extricate themselves. Never imagine a war as ended where wanton invasion has not been put to shame. God’s actions startle wickedness into silence, while making good men exclaim: “It is the Lord’s doings, and marvelous in our eyes.”

Let us close with a prayer of Isaac Ogden Rankin.

O Thou who hast brought hope into our mortal life by the assurance of our Lord’s rising again as the first fruits of His brethren, help us to be more worthy of our immortality! Give us courage for all experiences, and suffer us not to be so tamely subject to the vexations of these passing days! Spirit of God, by whom we live, keep us ever in a joy above complainings! Let us not murmur when the way is hard, but rather with all gratitude remember that it is the way and Thou our guide! Help us to draw from deeper wells, that we may taste refreshment of the living water! Make all our days Thy care, and be Thou in all our confidence an inward peace! Richly hast Thou endowed us; give us grateful and expectant hearts to find Thee everywhere! O Thou, our rest, let no disturbing or unrestful word find outlet through the door of our lips, but make us always bringers of good cheer, to the glory of Christ! Amen.

Psalm 108

Some man of God wishing to express himself toward God drew upon the treasures of song, and put together Psalms 57, 7-11 and 60, 5-12. His people had met with a great victory, and he desired to sing a hymn of thanksgiving.

When he would challenge his glory to sing and play unto God he refers to his soul, to all his rational powers. God waits to be praised by the human reason. Not until a man has surrendered his intellectual powers in adoration of the majesty and goodness of God has he made the full surrender which will guarantee to him the blessedness of communion. This man would testify to the nation that Jehovah is a glorious God, whose loving-kindness and truth reach through the universe. This idea recurs in Scripture: “Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens, and Thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.”

Matthew Henry thinks that this psalm teaches us how to pray as well as to praise. He emphasizes: (1) we must be public-spirited in prayer, and bear upon our hearts, at the throne of grace, the concerns of the church of God; (2) we must in prayer act faith upon the power and promise of God; what He has promised He will perform, for it is the word both of His truth and of His power; (3) we must in prayer take the comfort of what God has secured to us and settled upon us, though we are not yet put in the possession of it; (4) we must take encouragement from the beginning of mercy, to pray and hope for the perfecting of it; (5) we must not be discouraged in prayer, nor beaten off from our hold of God, though providence has in some instances frowned upon us; (6) we must seek help from God, renouncing all confidence in the creature; (7) we must depend entirely upon the favor and grace of God, both for strength and success in our work and warfare.

Our Lord and God, help us to praise Thee for the love Thou hast bestowed, and the pardoning grace Thou hast imparted. Thou didst seek us when we were far astray, Thou didst rescue us from the paths of death. When we were hopeless Thou didst change life into a song of triumph. Grant that our devotion to Thee may show our gratitude for all Thy benefits toward us! Amen.

Psalm 109

This is one of the imprecatory psalms. It is burdened with impassioned pleadings for vengeance. The psalmist cannot restrain his satisfaction at the various horrors which are to come upon his enemies. Driver says: “The psalmist here cries to God for help; he complains that certain malignant foes—we cannot say definitely who they are,—have, without any provocation on his part, brought against him false and malicious charges: ‘They have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my good will.’ Then he singles out, as it seems, the ringleader, and utters upon him a series of anathemas, imprecating upon him and his family misfortunes and trouble in every department of life. ‘Set Thou a wicked man over him, and let an accuser stand at his right hand.’ Let him, i.e., when arraigned in a court of justice have no chance of acquittal, let him have not only an august judge but a malicious accuser to bring about his ruin. When sentence is given upon him let him be condemned, and let his prayer be turned into sin, i.e., may his prayer to God for mercy have the very opposite effect, and draw down upon him the divine wrath!”

We will, not pursue the analysis of the psalm. The language is terrible. How did it-get into the Bible? We find similar language in Jeremiah. We find passages that make us recoil even in Isaiah. What have we to say?

First, these men had a keen sense of the conflict between good and evil. Israel was the champion of God, the nations of the earth were leagued against her. She was jealous for God. She could see nothing but chaos and ruin if God’s cause failed. God could not triumph in this terrible war unless His enemies were defeated. An enemy is not defeated without bloodshed and all the other horrors of the battlefield. The psalmist had not our knowledge, but as far as he knew the case was desperate, and he was fighting a hard and critical battle. This does not excuse, but it explains the temper of the times. Do we realize the crisis? Are we aware that good and evil are in a death grip? Do we feel the issue that is at stake? Is our supineness [indifference] nobler than vehement hate of wickedness?

Second, we must remember that men of a given age are to be judged by the standards of their age and not of another. The men of the Bible were of like passions with ourselves, and said and did many things which we revolt from and repudiate. They must be judged in the light of their times and civilization.

Third, these feelings are not Christian. They would have been intolerable to one who fully knew the spirit of Jesus. Yet they have recurred again and again among the followers of Jesus. The fact is, we are all liable to sin. It is true today: “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.” We ought to be charitable; we often are far from it. We need to cry: “From envy, hatred and malice and all uncharitableness, good Lord deliver us!”

Our Father, grant that we may never be false to those glories which Thou hast placed in our hearts and souls! May our lives be blameless, may every faculty be active and at work, may we ever be learning from our Master how to behave so as to please Thee! For His sake. Amen.

Psalm 110

Perowne says: “This psalm claims emphatically to be the fruit and record of a divine revelation. The words of the poet, though shaped in the poet’s heart, come to him from the very sanctuary of the Most High. It is an oracle, an utterance of Jehovah, which he has heard and which he is to declare to others. It is an oracle which concerns a king who reigns in Zion; it is addressed to one to whom the poet does homage, calling him Lord; it assures him of the high favor of Jehovah, who lifts him to a share in His own regal dignity, giving him the victory over all his enemies.”

We have then an oracle, a whispered utterance, a revelation heard in the quietness of a man’s soul. How august was the office of a prophet, a man who heard God and uttered what had been whispered in quietness. The message is to a king who is going forth on a holy crusade, who shall bring his foes to the ground. Zion is to be the center of a mighty empire, all enemies shall be submissive and passive beneath his sway. It was a wonderful day when the king led his brave warriors into the battlefield; those soldiers were young and fresh and full of vigor, they had all the freshness of the dew. This king is also a priest, and his campaign is a holy crusade.

What does it mean?

Driver says: “In the Israelite monarchy was foreshadowed the sovereignty to be exercised in the future by David’s Son. Elevated, extended, and spiritualized, the aims and objects of the monarchy of David are the aims and objects of the kingdom of Christ. Like other prophecies, the prophecy of this psalm starts from the present and looks out into the future. We see an earthly monarch engaged in a struggle of flesh and blood and fighting bloody battles with his enemies. We see again traits which pass beyond the literal reality, and lend themselves to an ideal picture. It is in virtue of such traits as these that the psalm is Messianic, prefiguring One in whom they are truly realized.”

O God, the heavens and the earth are filled with the glory of Thy presence! Thy smile gives beauty to the flower. We praise Thee in the midst of Thy creation. Especially do we adore Thee as we realize Thy grace in the removal of the stain and defilement of our sin. We pray that our lives may be spent in Thy service, and that our fidelity may prove our love. For Christ’s sake. Amen.

Psalm 111

This is an alphabetical psalm, following the order of the Hebrew alphabet and consisting of twenty-two lines. It celebrates the acts, the glory and righteousness of Jehovah in the assembly of the upright.

The assembly is a more intimate circle than the congregation. They are concerned with God. True worship begins with God. So often we come to God’s house thinking of ourselves, our needs, our work; we are not prepared to meet with Him. “The psalmist begins by declaring that with his whole heart he will give thanks to God: and because to keep his thankfulness and his ascription of praise would be to rob God of half His honor, therefore will he give utterance to his feelings, and give utterance to them in the fitting place, in the congregation of the upright.” Let us not forget that confession of our allegiance to God is essential.

Men are apathetic and forgetful of God. They do not trace His glory, do not recall His graciousness and tender compassion. He has never failed them. History is a witness to providence. Experience is a Bible, telling of a love that is persistent and a forbearance that is infinite. A good man will take pains to instruct others in the fidelity of God to His covenant and the reality of His guidance. He sends redemption to His people in that He rescues them from foes and from those weaknesses of character which restrain them from seeking the land of promise. We need to know and to remember the statutes of the Most High, and that He demands from His children conformity to those ways which He has laid down for their guidance.

Teach us Thy way, O Lord, and help us to walk in it! Grant unto us a reverent knowledge of Thy will; help us to obey every law which Thou hast written in our bodies and souls, and in the lives of men, and all that is enshrined in human history; help us to grow wiser and better! May our religion show itself in our industry, in our doing what should be done, and bearing what must be borne! Help us to live and work for the coming of Thy kingdom! For Christ’s sake. Amen.

Source: Record of Christian Work, Volume 39; By Alexander McConnell, William Revell Moody, Arthur Percy Fitt

FAITH’S FINAL AUTHORITY by Henry W. Frost; published 1920

TheGoodShepherdAlphaOmegaIt’s amazing to me how the Lord works, I can’t tell you how many times this sort of thing has happened to me. I found the following article because I went to look for a quote by Benjamin Harrison to make sure it was real, and to read it in its complete context. The book and only book brought up in the search contained the following article as titled above, and I as I began to read it, because that is what I do, it struck me once again that I had found something from history that could very well have been written for this day and time. It never ceases to amaze me how the Lord leads me unawares to things like this, it is simply astounding to me how often this kind of thing happens. The Lord is always performing small miracles if we only open ourselves up to them, he’s also still doing big miracles if you have faith growing as a mustard seed.

To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” ~ Thomas Aquinas

BEGIN: FAITH’S FINAL AUTHORITY by Henry W. Frost; published 1920, in Record of Christian Work, Volume 39 By Alexander McConnell, William Revell Moody, Arthur Percy Fitt

It is commonly acknowledged that these are days of intense and immense unsettlement. The foundation of things is being shaken and almost destroyed, and the cry is going up, “What can the righteous do?” The time has come when men’s hearts are failing them for fear, not knowing what the future will bring forth. What yesterday was certain, to-day is doubted and tomorrow will be disbelieved. The question is, What will remain? and, If there is certainty, where may it be found?

Moreover, this unsettlement and consequent disquiet exist amongst all classes of persons and in all the various relationships of life. Secular and religious periodicals indicate that the human mind is in a state of actual ferment, and this in respect to nearly every subject under the sun. Is monarchy or democracy the ideal government? Granting that democracy is the ideal, is it to be limited or unlimited? Is the proposed League of Nations from heaven and a gift from God, or is it from the pit and the work of Satan? Is the world getting better or worse? Is man immortal or only mortal? Is communion with the dead possible, and, if it is, is it lawful? Is Christ’s coming premillennial, postmillennial or nonmillennial? What part is the Christian to play in politics? Is he to abandon himself to them in the hope of saving the world, or is he to stand off from them as from a hopeless and contaminating task, giving himself to prayer and evangelization? What fellowship is a Christian to have with those who are not Christians, or with those who are, but are not true to Christ and His Word? What social pleasures are allowable? How is the Sabbath to be kept? What principles are to govern parents in the bringing up of their children? What is prayer? is it objective or simply subjective? What is the Word? is it inspired in whole, in part or not at all?  What is salvation? Is it to be obtained through service, suffering or sacrifice? And, if by sacrifice, by whose, one’s own or Christ’s? And who is Christ? Is He just Man or is He also God? If He is only Man, what can He do for men, or, if He is also God, what does He require of men?

And so the questions come in like a flood, from paper and magazine, from pew and pulpit, from quibbling minds and also from broken hearts. Some of us had thought that most of these matters had been settled long ago and that the issue of things had resolved itself simply into this: belief or unbelief. But we suddenly find that everything is once more in the melting pot; that serious-minded men and women are questioning realities: and that even Christians are demanding new solutions of old-time problems. We perceive, therefore, that every teacher of men is called upon to exercise infinite patience and to be ready to build again from the bottom upward; and, moreover, probably the teacher has problems of his own, which many years and much prayerful thinking have failed to solve. It is a time of mental and spiritual disorder in every sphere of life and in every part of the world.

And what makes the situation worse to many is that there seems to be no final court of appeal, especially in spiritual affairs, where cases may be argued and where just and final decisions may be obtained. There is a feeling that such a court should and must exist somewhere; but the question is, Where is it? So men conclude that herein is presented the greatest problem of all They declare that there are many voices in the world, each differing from the other, and no one knows which one is most Divine. Confusion is thus turned into what may only be described by Milton’s phrase:

“With ruin upon ruin, rout upon rout, Confusion worse confounded.”

And we have the spectacle thus of men stumbling forward in the dark, with their arms outstretched. They need a guiding hand, but they fail to find it. What, then, shall they do?

In this crisis, some say that we should turn to the pope. But if so, which one? Accepting Peter, for the moment, as the first pope, are we to test all the others by him, and if we are, what will be left of the others? But if we are not, which of the later-day popes are we to reckon as having spoken ex cathedra? This last is most perplexing, for there have been many popes, each one with a different dictum; twice over at the same time there have been two popes, each opposing the other; again and again a later-day pope has contradicted a former-day one, so that the benediction of the one has become the malediction of the other; and even the doctrine of papal infallibility, which one must accept if one turns to the Roman curia, was condemned as heresy by the popes themselves up to the time of Pius the Ninth, and by a large number of the cardinals even then; and to this day the theologians at Rome are not agreed as to what papal infallibility means. Tested by the necessary laws of harmony and unanimity we shall riot find final authority with the popes.

But others say that we should turn to the Church. If so, which Church? Shall it be the Roman, Greek, Armenian, Syrian, Nestorian, or Coptic? For, mark it, it will have to be a choice between these since they do not agree with one another even in things fundamental. Or, if we shall turn away from the historic churches to the reformed, where fundamental agreement is found, which Protestant Church shall it be? Shall it be the Church of England, Church of Scotland, Episcopal, Reformed Episcopal, Lutheran, Moravian, Presbyterian, Congregational, Baptist, Methodist or the Salvation Army? For, mark it, again, while these agree in essentials, they vastly disagree in nonessentials, which with the conscientious man are often tremendously vital. Or shall we make another effort and turn to the apostolic, simple and devoted people, the Plymouth Brethren? But to which party among these shall we go; the close, open or loose; the Darbyites, Newtonites, Cecilites, Ravenites, or Grantites? for we must differentiate even here. Alas I it is manifest that we shall not find union and unanimity even in the Church, historic or reformed; and this is certain, that we shall never get the harmonious note of authority from Scriptural and spiritual discord.

But still others say that we should seek to hear the authoritative word outside of organized ecclesiasticism, in that great consensus of opinion expressed by individuals through the ages and brought into full expression in these last days of grace. But can we place this consensus? Do any two men interpret and formulate it alike? Is it possible from book or sermon to define and express it? Even where it may be partly vocalized, is it clear, comprehensive and final? For instance, was the consensus voice in apostolic days the same as it was in mediaeval? and was it then what it is now, since men have been to war and slain the great dragon? And, in passing, what was the great dragon? Was it Kaiserism or sin in the human heart? And, if it was sin, was this slain and is it dead? If, then, sin is not dead, who knows what the consensus has to say about it, in national, social and personal life?

Moreover, what is this consensus which is so much talked about? is it a person or thing? Is it living or dead? Is it truth or shibboleth? Is it Divine or human? If it proves at last to be just human, then evidently we are back where we were at, the beginning, and in this case we are in the grip of the greatest religious mastodon of the ages, the genus homo, that is, our fallible selves. And, clearly, no one can hope that final spiritual authority will come out of a condition such as this. In short, if we may not go farther than we have gone, we shall find no final authority anywhere, and hence, we shall remain of all men the most miserable.

It is a relief now to turn away from such uncertainties, which are but vagaries, to a nearer, surer and more soul-satisfying consideration. There is a Book [the Holy Bible] which claims to be divinely authoritative, and we may affirm that there are facts about it which substantiate this claim, among which are the following:

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First, it is an old Book, all of it old and some of it very old, and no neglect, nor hatred, nor persecution, has ever been able to destroy it; which suggests that God fashioned it and has preserved it.

Second, the Book has proved to be a regenerating, transforming and comforting influence, through thousands of years, with millions of persons and in behalf of individuals of diverse characteristics and needs; which indicates that it has had within itself a power beyond the human.

Third, the Book touches upon history, art, poetry and science, formulates theology and expands experimental religion, and these diverse elements have been presented by men of different times, countries, races, social position, political environment and national and personal aspiration, and all this without a false or conflicting statement within it, and with a perfect harmonization and development of truth: which implies the presence and power of the miraculous.

Fourth, the Book is prophetic in the major portion of it. and its foretellings have often anticipated thousands of years, multitudes of people and a multiplicity of events, including the largest possible national movements and also the smallest possible personal details, and its utterances have never yet failed nor been once discredited: which manifests elements of foreview and predetermination which are nothing less than Divine.

And. finally, it is beyond doubting that whatever measure of infallibility there has been amongst men has come from the Book, and that all past and present confusion has developed, not from it, but only from man’s failure to understand and interpret it aright; which proves beyond controversy that the Book is a light shining in a dark place, a voice which has a divinely certain sound, a sacred dictum, an ultimate dogma, the ex cathedra [with authority] utterance of the living God. Here, then, faith may rest, for here is final authority.

Here, however, the heart falters. For each of us rightly asks: Who am I that I should think myself to be better than other men? And what chance of success in interpreting the Bible may I hope for when men at large have so widely disagreed concerning it? This indeed is searching and solemnizing; it is even discouraging and disheartening, particularly since the very Book whose authority we recognize tells us plainly that to the end we shall see in part and, therefore, prophesy in part.

It is to be remembered, however, that this is not all of the truth and that what remains is most encouraging and enheartening. For these things are also facts. The Master promised that the Spirit through the Book should guide us into truth. We know that whatever of truth has been discovered has been found by searching the Book. It is evident that thousands of persons have been made both wise and godly by meditating on the things contained in the Book. It is true, even if we may not know everything in the Book, that we may know much of it and that this will ever be for our own and others’ profit. And, finally, it is manifest that the apprehension of truth is not so much in proportion to one’s knowledge of the Book as it is to one’s obedience to it. In view of prevailing Scriptural misinterpretation and spiritual confusion, it behooves us to walk through life with humble and contrite hearts. We must keep in mind that others besides ourselves have the fullness of the Spirit, and, instead of ourselves, may have the right interpretation of the revelation. And we are never to forget that finality of knowledge and teaching will never be found with us. since we, too, are only men. At the same time, there is every reason to be assured that it is our sacred privilege to come to the Bible as God’s infallible Word; to regard it is the Divine mandate in respect to human life and conduct; to study it as the one revelation which will illuminate the soul and transform the life; and to hold it as the decisive word in all controversy. By doing these things, in spite of all personal infirmity and even in these confused and confusing times, we shall increasingly discover that God’s truth is ever fixed and final and also that he who does the will of God will certainly know of the doctrine.

But to get the benefit of the Book, we need to deal practically with it When one is sick and goes to a medicine chest for a remedy, he does not take the first medicine which chances to come to hand, nor does he take all of the medicines which the cupboard may contain; he selects his remedy according to his need and for the time being shuts himself up to it. The Bible is a sacred medicine chest,’ and it holds in behalf of those spiritually sick, remedies for every disease.

God expects us, however, to show spiritual discernment, not to speak of common sense, in dealing with it. If we wish to know about earth, we do not want to study about heaven; and if we desire to know about heaven, we do not want to study about earth. Again, if we want to understand about spiritual experiences, we ought not to turn to prophecy; and if we want to understand prophecy, we ought not to study about spiritual experiences. We are called upon, first of all, to discover our spiritual need, and then to deal with that portion of the Word which has to do with this. If one is impure, let him consider the purity of Christ and His ability to displace fleshly sin. If one has a temper, let him consider the gentleness of Christ and His power to give love and patience. If one is uncertain about fundamental truth, let him study what the Word has to say about inspiration, the Deity of Christ, the Atonement, the Resurrection and other like subjects. If one is not interested in foreign missions, let him dwell upon the great commission of Christ, the acts of the Holy Spirit variously recorded and the missionary life of Paul. If one is doubtful about eschatology, let Him take up faithfully and fearlessly the teachings which concern future things and found his convictions on the revelation of the Bible rather than upon the comments of lesser books. In other words, we need to deal sanely with the Book in order that the Book may deal sanely with us. To do this is to become, in the best sense, a Bible Christian. And the man who is this is not shaken by every wind which blows and every wave which beats, but stands unmoved and unmovable through every storm. Mr. Moody made one text, “He that doeth the will of God abideth for ever,” the guide of his life; and he became like his text. But he only got to know God’s will by close and prolonged study of God’s Word and this from the standpoint of his personal need.

A last word needs to be spoken. We must be careful not to divorce knowledge and action. It is terribly possible for us to know much and yet to put little into practice. One may approve of clothing and yet go unclothed. One may admire food and yet remain hungry. One may glory in the sun and yet walk in the dark. One may agree with truth and yet abide in falsehood. One may swear by the Bible, the whole Bible and nothing but the Bible, and yet not know, or else forsake, its plainest precepts. Faith only overcomes the world by turning theory into practice, by first knowing and then doing. The heretics of life are not only those who depart from revealed truth, but also those who search it, understand it, praise it—and then neglect or disobey it. At every turn of life, in every crisis of life, for every purpose of life, we need to come to the Word as to God’s final utterance and faith’s full resting place. But having done this, we need, above all else, to set our hearts to keep that which is written therein. There was once on earth a Man Who was God’s great Dogmatist, [Jesus Christ] and He said: “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures”; and, be it remembered, this Holy One added: “If ye know these things, blessed are ye if ye do them.”

In “The Monastery,” the White Lady speaks to Glendinning these quaint but most true words:

“Within that awful volume lies
The mystery of mysteries!
Happiest they of human race,
To whom God has granted grace
To read, to fear, to hope, to pray,
To lift the latch and force the way;
And better had they ne’er been born
Who read to doubt or read to scorn!”

Christian Condescension: Reminds Me of the Teachings of My Youth

I believe a visible church to be a congregation of those who make a credible profession of their faith in Christ, and obedience to him, joined by the bond of the covenant #quote Roger Sherman, Signer of the Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution

“I believe a visible church to be a congregation of those who make a credible profession of their faith in Christ, and obedience to him, joined by the bond of the covenant” ~ Roger Sherman, Signer of the Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution

True Story from my life: Never Judge a Book by it’s Cover: In memory of a great man I once knew
 

 “Truth, indeed, came once into the world with her Divine Master, and was a perfect shape, most glorious to look upon; but when he ascended, and his apostles after him were laid asleep then strait arose a wicked race of Deceivers, who, as that story goes of that wicked Typhon with his conspirators, how they dealt with the good Osiris, took the virgin Truth, hewed her lovely form into a thousand pieces, and scattered them to the four winds. From that time ever since, the sad friends of Truth, such as durst appear imitating the careful search which Isis made for the mangled body of Osiris, went up and down, gathering up every limb still as they could find them. We have not yet found them all, Lords and Commons, nor ever shall do till her Master’s second coming. He shall bring together every joint and member, and shall mould them into an immortal feature of loveliness and perfection.” ~ John Milton in his Areopagitica 1644

NOTE: Condescension in this instance is not speaking of a patronizing, rude tone or behavior; it means voluntary assumption of equality with a person regarded as inferior. In other words, showing charity and humility to those who you think are or are in fact inferior to you, just as Jesus washed the feet of those who were inferior to him.

Originally Titled “Christian Condescension” in The Friend, A Religious and Literary Journal from “The Free Thinker” section dated July 25, 1829 [Friends refers to the original Quakers]

The importance of maintaining brotherly love, and that respect which is due to the sentiments of each other, is impressively inculcated in the subsequent remarks of Stephen Crisp, which contain a beautiful description of a religious society, properly organized under the government and direction of the Head of the church [Jesus Christ]. We have always professed, that the sensible guidance of the holy Spirit was essential to the performance of every act, characterized by the solemn title of religious duty. The Great Shepherd putteth forth his own sheep, and goeth before them. They know his voice, and they follow him, and the voice of a stranger they will not follow. How safe to be thus led by him: and to experience this state of safety, we must not only know, but faithfully obey his voice. Can there be any jar or confusion amongst a people thus disciplined and thus obedient? Every one would keep his rank in righteousness, and being subject to him in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, nothing would be lacking to the complete performance of his divine will. Heavenly harmony and unity would naturally subsist amongst these followers of the Prince of Peace. Ephraim would not envy Judah, nor Judah vex Ephraim. The strong would cheerfully bear the burdens of the weak, and the younger and inexperienced would treat with due deference the judgment of their elders in the truth. Humility and condescension would be learned in this school, and while we were engaged in doing the Lord’s work, we should be promoting our own advancement in the way of salvation. We cannot but hope, however discouraging the signs of the times may often appear, that the Lord is at work in the hearts of many, to prepare them, like the stones of the temple, to be built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood to offer acceptable sacrifices to him through Jesus Christ. May we all give ourselves up to his divine government, and he will not fail to perfect the work to the praise and glory of his grace, and to the comfort and enlargement of his church. Signed M.

“And all you, dear friends, upon whom the Lord hath laid a care for his honour, and for the prosperity of the truth, and gathered you into the good order of the gospel, to meet together to manage the affairs thereof; take heed that ye have a single eye to the Lord; to do the Lord’s business in the leadings of his spirit, which is but one, and brings all that are given up to be governed by it, to be of one mind and heart, at least, in the general purpose and service of those meetings. Although, through the diversity of exercises, and the several degrees of growth among the brethren, every one may not see or understand alike in every matter, at the first propounding of it; yet this makes no breach of the unity, nor hinders the brotherly kindness, but puts you often upon an exercise and an inward travailing, to feel the pure, peaceable wisdom that is from above, to open among you, and every one’s ear is open to it, in whomsoever it speaks; and thereby a sense of life is given in the meeting, to which all that are of a simple and tender mind, join and agree. But if any among you be contrary minded in the management of some outward affair, relating to the truth, this doth not presently break the unity that ye have in Christ, nor should weaken the brotherly love, so long as he keeps waiting for an understanding from God, to be gathered into the same sense with you, and walks with you according to the law of charity. Such an one ought to be borne with and cherished, and the supplications of your souls will go up to God for him, that God may reveal it to him, if it be his will, that so no difference may be in understanding, so far as is necessary for the good of the church, no more than there is in matters of faith and obedience to God. For, my friends, it is not absolute necessity that every member of the church should have the same measure of understanding in all things; for then where were the duty of the strong bearing with the weak? then where were the brother of low degree? where would be any submitting to them that are set over others in the Lord? which all tend to the preserving unity in the church, notwithstanding the different measures and different growths of the members thereof. For as the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets, so are the spirits of all that are kept in a true subjection to the spirit of life in themselves, kept in the same subjection to the sense of life given by the same spirit in the church; and by this means we come to know the one Master, even Christ, and have no room for other masters, in the matter of our obedience to God. And while every one keeps in this true subjection’, the sweet concord is known, and the oil is not only upon Aaron’s head, but it reacheth the skirts of his garment also; and things are kept sweet and savoury, and ye love one another, from the greatest to the least in sincerity, and as the apostle saith without dissimulation. And this love excludes all whisperings of evil things, all backbiting, grudgings and murmurings, and keeps Friends’ minds clear one toward another, waiting for every opportunity to do each other good and to preserve each other’s reputation, and their hearts are comforted at the sight of one another. And in all their affairs, both relating to the church and to the world, they will be watchful over their own spirits, and “keep in the Lord’s power, over that nature and ground in themselves, that would be apt to take an offence, or construe any word or action, to a worse sense than the simplicity thereof, or the intention of the other concerned will allow of.”

 “And whereas it may often fall out, that among a great many, some may have a different apprehension of a matter from the rest of their brethren, especially in outward or temporal things, there ought to .-be a Christian liberty, maintained for such to express their sense, with freedom of mind, or else they will go away burdened; whereas if they speak their minds freely, and a friendly and Christian conference be admitted thereupon, they may be eased, and oftentimes the different apprehension of such a one comes to be wholly removed, and his understanding opened to see as the rest see; for the danger in society doth not lie so much in this, that some few may have a differing apprehension in some things from the general sense, as it doth in this; namely, when such that so differ, do suffer themselves to be led out of the bond of charity, and labour to impose their private sense upon the rest of their brethren, and to be offended and angry if it be not received; this is the seed of sedition and strife that hath grown up in too many to their own hurt.

“And therefore, my dear friends, beware of it, and seek not to drive a matter on in fierceness or in anger, nor to take offence into your minds at any time, because what seems to be clear to you is not presently received; but let all things in the church be propounded with an awful reverence of Him that is the head and life of it, who hath said, ‘where two or three are met in my name, I will be in the midst of them;’ and so he is, and may befelt by all who keep in his spirit.”

NOTE (~CJD): Those who question my religion, I am neither catholic, nor protestant, nor charismatic, Mormon, LDS, Mennonites, Quakers, etc. The group of churches I grew up in you probably, have never heard of. I was raised in a non-denominational group of churches originally called “School of the prophets” by outsiders (not to be confused with the LDS church) The “School of the Prophets” was a designation given by outside ministers who came visiting at the old campground from whence the movement began, if my memory serves me well.. Sometime in the early 1900’s they began to be known simply as “the Body of Christ”.

For those that say forget religion but give me Jesus; Paul said in Philippians 1:15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: 16 The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: 17 But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. 18 What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.

“If men are so wicked with religion,” said Benjamin Franklin to one who was about publishing an argument against the providence of God, “what would they be without it?” The advice Franklin gave in this instance was characteristic of the man. “He that spits against the wind, spits in his own face.”

I was raised to be skeptical of organized religion, I cannot say I was raised to be against it, for the reason exact reason Paul says here, “notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.” for that is the only way a lot of people learn about Jesus. Therefore I will not say I’m against it, nor would I say I hate it. I hate what some have done in Jesus’ name, but you have that even outside of organized religion, besides that there are good people in all religions which is why the Bible says in another passage there are God’s people in all “Come out of her my people”

Revelations 18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. 5 For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.

Jesus has people in organized religion, while I condemn the things some do in organized religion, I do not condemn it all as bad. I grew up in, and was taught among people who are into the Pure Religion of Jesus Christ just as;

James said in chapter 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. 27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

Therefore I will not condemn religion for there are God’s people in all and (paraphrased here) if you offend the least of these, it is better you had a millstone around your neck and cast into the sea.

Hence I am careful, lest I cause a stumbling block to those who might be saved having been taught by those whom (2 Timothy 3:)5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

I am also careful not to condemn any one group, for Hebrews 13: says 1 Let brotherly love continue. 2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 3 Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.

From studying history, I would say they [the Body of Christ] are most likely the descendents of Quakers from way back, I know many in my family at the founding of the United States and before, were Quakers, I’m sure they must have some connection to those once known as “the Jerks” because of the manifestation of the Spirit of God (Holy Ghost) in their services.

This ministry was built on what we refer to as the “threshing floor” [which refers to ministers having discussions and sometimes arguments on the Truth in the Word, separating the Truth from the interpretation of man or wheat from the chaff] and is solely dedicated to the truth in the Word and the True Gospel of Christ, they have never sought fame, notoriety, nor fortune. They have simply tried to live simple Christian lives and do only those things which are pleasing to God and our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ.

The ministers are not voted for, nor chosen by anyone other than Jesus, no one signs anything to join, if Jesus adds you, there you are. They are most closely associated with Pentecostal, or at least identified as such by those who do not know them. The churches do not have a program other than following the Spirit of God, many times you will hear them say “watch the spirit and where it leads”. Anyone can speak at any time, sing songs, whatever the spirit of God (Holy Ghost) leads any one to do.

It is orderly however, because the people themselves are orderly, that is unless there is an out pouring of the Holy Ghost, then things can get a little exciting. It’s all good and the people are among the best I have ever known in my life.

We are more into restoring the church like it was in the Early Reign church, and living life without sin, like Jesus taught people to do in the first place. And yes, we believe that you can overcome sin, in this life and grow into the perfect knowledge and image of Christ.

For those who do not agree with my views and those I post quotes of, about Christianity, or who think I have never known anything else. I have investigated it, and I came to my conclusions with reason and the help of the Lord: All the quotes, etc., I share, are things that I agree with because I have seen them in my own life.

Like many in my generation, in my teens I turned from the Lord even though I grew up with, and around the most Christ-like people I have ever known in my life, and as a child, I do not believe, I could have had a greater love for the Lord. However, I had no real understanding of the wisdom and knowledge of the Lord, for all the hours I had set listening to ministers, I never really understood, because one, I was just loving Jesus and two, I was completely naive, what proverbs refers to in one instance “a simple one”

I strayed and due to various things in my life, questioned even the very existence of Jesus, it was by his grace and mercy that I finally began to understand, after he removed the scales from my eyes and heart.

I won’t go into how he did this, but let me say, I was the mule that he had to use the 2×4 between the eyes on to get my attention. After using that 2×4 however, he let me see, and showed me the Greatest Love I have ever felt, or known in my life, and since that time (age mid-late 20’s) I have lived for the sole purpose of loving and serving him, and giving others the understanding and wisdom he has allowed me to see, through looking back at my life.

See, I have a great memory and can go through my life, step by step in detail, and see the numerous and various ways he tried to reach out to me, when I failed miserably to see his hand in my life, which is why I have an affinity for the song “He was there all the time”.

Let me say for all the bad I did, he in his grace and mercy, I believe and hope, has made something he can use to help others along life’s way. If not helpful to others, it is because of my failures and not his.

Never Judge a Book by it’s Cover: In memory of a great man I once knew

homeless manNever Judge A Book By It’s Cover, in memory of a great man I once knew.

I have to write this in memory of a man I once knew in southern California. As I sat reading my Bible this morning, the Lord brought him back to my mind. This man, I met outside of a restaurant where my family, dad, mom, brother, and some others used to go after church. I used to go outside at times while I was waiting for the others to finish eating. I would run into various people while hanging out, waiting for the others.

One night, I met this man and started talking to him, he could quote me any scripture. It did not matter how hard I made it for him. I could give him a book, chapter and verse out of the Bible and he’d quote it to me verbatim. Even when I would make it hard for him and quote scripture myself, he could tell me exactly where it was in the Bible. I’d do things to try to trip him up, and he never failed to get it exactly right. I could quote him scriptures from various points in the Bible and he’d pick up on it. I used to marvel at how well he knew the Bible.

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, 
ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be 
measured to you. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy 
brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine 
own eye? Matthew 7:!-3

The thing that really touched me, and caused me to remember him today is, you see, he was dirty, disheveled, talked to himself, and was homeless. The moral of the story, never judge a book by its cover, you may miss out on things that you marvel at your whole life, and the memory of, touches your heart as only the Lord can.

My uncle admonished me one time about how my brother and I always had friends that were low class or without class, if I had been as he admonished me to be, I would have missed out on knowing this man, who I now remember so fondly. I guess I got my love of the underdog from his sister, my mother. Moral: never avoid someone you may think beneath you, for to God, they may be above you, and you are just too blind to see, because of your high mindedness, thinking of yourself more than you are.

See, I never minded giving money to wino’s, or those who were homeless, even if I knew they would just go buy booze or whatever, as I told those who admonished me about it. Booze, etc., that is all that some of those people had, if any of them were taking advantage of me, I knew the Lord would honor my gift, whether he honored the ones who simply took advantage of me or not. Even if I felt the Lord wouldn’t honor, I would have done the same. It wasn’t up to me to judge, it was up to me, to do what the Lord laid it on my heart to do.

Another story from the same place:

Now that I have told you about him, I’ll tell you of another, I also met this younger man one night who came up to me pushing a bicycle with a flat tire, he asked me if I had five dollars so he could get it fixed. I think I gave him ten, funny thing is, I was back at the same restaurant a couple of nights later. I went outside as I normally did, and this same young man came up to me, again pushing the bike with the flat tire. He tried to give me the same story again, I laughed at him, for I was incredulous he didn’t remember me and I told him I had just given him the money to fix it a couple nights before, and I wouldn’t be fooled again. Moral of this story: Don’t be a sucker either

Benjamin Franklin on Faith and Good Works and His Religious Creed

benjaminfranklinSELECTIONS FROM FRANKLIN’S MISCELLANEOUS LETTERS.
[The Works of Benjamin Franklin. Edited by Jared Sparks. 1840]
TO GEORGE WHITEFIELD, ON FAITH AND GOOD WORKS.

NOTE: As the Bible says, there is nothing new under the sun. Benjamin Franklin’s idea of “paying it forward”.

Letter to George Whitefield:

FOR my own part, when I am employed in serving others, I do not look upon myself as conferring favors, but as paying debts. In my travels, and since my settlement, I have received much kindness from men, to whom I shall never have any opportunity of making the least direct return; and numberless mercies from God, who is infinitely above being benefited by our services. Those kindnesses from men, I can therefore only return on their fellow men, and I can only show my gratitude for these mercies from God, by a readiness to help his other children and my brethren. For I do not think that thanks and compliments, though repeated weekly, can discharge our real obligations to each other, and much less those to our Creator. You will see in this my notion of good works, that I am far from expecting to merit heaven by them. By heaven we understand a state of happiness, infinite in degree, and eternal in duration. I can do nothing to deserve such rewards. He that, for giving a draft of water to a thirsty person, should expect to be paid with a good plantation, would be modest in his demands, compared with those who think they deserve heaven for the little good they do on earth. Even the mixed, imperfect pleasures we enjoy in this world, are rather from God’s goodness than our merit; how much more such happiness of heaven! For my part I have not the vanity to think I deserve it, the folly to expect it, nor the ambition to desire it; but content myself in submitting to the will and disposal of that God who made me, who has hitherto preserved and blessed me, and in whose fatherly goodness I may well confide, that he will never make me miserable, and that even the afflictions I may at any time suffer shall tend to my benefit

The faith you mention has certainly its use in the world. I do not desire to see it diminished, nor would I endeavor to lessen it in any man. But I wish it were more productive of good works, than I have generally seen it; I mean real good works; works of kindness, charity, mercy, and public spirit; not holiday-keeping, sermon-reading or hearing; performing church ceremonies, or making long prayers, filled with flatteries and compliments, despised even by wise men, and much less capable of pleasing the Deity. The worship of God is a duty; the hearing and reading of sermons may be useful; but if men rest in hearing and praying, as too many do, it is as if a tree should value itself on being watered and putting forth leaves, though it never produced any fruit.

Your great master thought much less of these outward appearances and professions, than many of his modern disciples. He preferred the doers of the word, to the mere hearers; the son that seemingly refused to obey his father, and yet performed his commands, to him that professed his readiness, but neglected the work; the heretical but charitable Samaritan, to the uncharitable though orthodox priest and sanctified Levite; and those who gave food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, raiment to the naked, entertainment to the stranger, and relief to the sick, though they never heard of his name, he declares shall in the last day be accepted; when those who cry Lord,! Lord! who value themselves upon their faith, though great enough to perform miracles, but have neglected good works, shall be rejected. He professed, that he came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance; which implied his modest opinion, that there were some in his time so good, that they need not hear even him for improvement; but now-a-days we have scarce a little parson, that does not think it the duty of every man within his reach to sit under his petty ministrations; and that whoever omits them offends God.

I wish to such more humility, and to you health and happiness, being your friend and servant,

B. Franklin; Philadelphia, 6 June, 1758.

TO EZRA STILES, WITH A STATEMENT OF HIS RELIGIOUS CREED.

YOU desire to know something of my religion. It is the first time I have been questioned upon it But I cannot take your curiosity amiss, and shall endeavor in a few words to gratify it Here is my creed. I believe in one God, the creator of the universe. That he governs it by his Providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable service we render to him is doing good to his other children. That the soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental points in all sound religion, and I regard them as you do in whatever sect I meet with them.

As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think his system of morals and his religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is like to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting changes, and I have, with most of the present Dissenters in England, some doubts as to his Divinity; though it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the truth with less trouble. I see no harm, however, in its being believed, if that belief has the good consequence, as probably it has, of making his doctrines more respected and more observed; especially as I do not perceive that the Supreme takes it amiss, by distinguishing the unbelievers in his government of the world with any peculiar marks of his displeasure.

I shall only add, respecting myself, that, having experienced the goodness of that Being in conducting me prosperously through a long life, I have no doubt of its continuance in the next, though without the smallest conceit of meriting such goodness. ….

B. Franklin;  Philadelphia, 9 March, 1790.

LETTER TO MESSRS. THE ABBES CHALUT AND ARNAUD

Philadelphia, April 17, 1787.

Dear Friends, Your reflections on our situation, compared with that of many nations of Europe, are very sensible and just. Let me add, that only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.

Our public affairs go on as well as can reasonably be expected, after so great an overturning. We have had some disorders in different parts of the country, but we arrange them as they arise, and are daily mending and improving; so that I have no doubt but all will come right in time. Yours,

B. Franklin.

 From ” The Private Correspondence of Benjamin Franklin” (1818), Vol. I, p. 220. The letter is a reply to one from the Abbes, dated ” Paris 9 Decembre 1786.”

“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word darkness on the walls of his cell” by C. S. Lewis

Main source: A Library of American Literature from the Earliest Settlement to the Present Time. By Edmund Clarence Stedman and Ellen Mackay Hutchinson

Prayer at The Commencement of The New Year

HappyNewYearBlessingO LORD, Thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations. From everlasting to everlasting Thou art God, without change or decay; but to us, Thou hast divided our time into weeks and days and months and years. In this way Thou dost admonish us of the progress of our duration here. The heavens continue to this day, for they are Thy ordinances, intended by Thee to admonish us of our progress towards a boundless eternity. Another year has completed its rounds. We look back over the past and recall to our memory the many changes which have occurred, and the numerous mercies which have befallen us. Many are they whom we knew on earth who are now numbered with the dead. Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men. Many tender ties have been severed; many useful lives have been terminated. Many unlooked-for events have transpired, and we acknowledge the reception of many unlooked-for and precious blessings.

O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endureth for ever.

Grant, O Lord, that should we be spared through another year, our lives may be spent to Thy praise. But hast Thou otherwise determined, and if this year we must die, prepare us for an exchange of worlds. Whatever our hands find to do may we do it with all our might. We would not forget that the night cometh when no man can work; therefore, grant, O Lord, should this year be our last, it may be the most serious and the most devout we have ever yet passed, and may it be the most diligent of all we have yet spent in the cause of the Redeemer. May it be a good year to our precious souls, and a prosperous year to the Church of the Saviour. May the gospel be preached more widely and more effectually than ever before. May all Thy priests be clothed with righteousness; send down upon them all the healthful spirit of Thy grace. Oh that amidst all Thy Churches the gospel may be better understood, and more faithfully and more successfully preached! Prepare Thy people by Thine own presence amongst them for Thy expected return.

Teach us, O Lord, during this year more diligently to employ and improve our precious time. May we walk circumspectly, redeeming the time, because the days yet to come are few and may be evil. Let not our indolence invite the tempter. May every day as it passes carry with it into eternity the record of some work done for Thee and for our fellow-men; and if we be spared to reach the close of this year, may the retrospect afford us some degree of satisfaction and peace.

May we remember that we are in a world of change and disappointment; prepare us for all the vicissitudes of life. In the day of prosperity may we be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider. Help us in all things to remember that Thou art our Sovereign, and that Thou art ever good and kind, just and true. O God, our help in ages past, be Thou our strength for years to come. We yield ourselves to Thee, and amidst all the uncertainties of the future, we hope in Thy mercy. Graciously accept our confidence, for the sake of Thy dear Son Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

Source: The blessing of the household, a series of family prayers by Thomas Talman Gough 1875

ANewyearsBlessing

The Preacher’s Blessing; Or, The Happy New Year.

NewYearsBlessingsThe Preacher’s Blessing;
Or, The Happy New Year.

Numbers vi. 22—26.

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, The Lord bless thee, and keep thee; the Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee; the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.

Such, my brethren, was the blessing which Aaron and his successors, the Jewish priests, were to pronounce by the Lord’s appointment over the people of God; and I know no words of pious greeting better suited to this day. New Year’s Day so seldom falls on a Sunday, that, when it does, it would be a pity to let it slip, without wishing you all a happy new year, according to the good old English custom. But, as Jesus Christ once said to his disciples, “Not as the world giveth give I unto you,”—meaning that his gifts are very different from those of the world,— so it becomes the minister of Jesus Christ to say to you on this occasion, “Not as the world wisheth, wish I unto you;” meaning thereby, that the happiness he wishes for you is something very different from what the world commonly esteems such. The world’s notion of happiness, and the gospel notion of happiness, are very different; and therefore the world’s wishes for your happiness, and the preacher’s wishes for your happiness must be very different also. The world, when it wishes a man happiness, means a long life, and strong health, and plenty of money, and a good name, and a thriving family. The preacher, on the other hand, when he wishes you happiness, as I wish you all now, means something very different thereby. What? (you will perhaps ask,) do I not then wish you life and riches? Yes, my dear brethren, I wish you, and pray God to give you these things, and that far more abundantly than the world can wish them for you—even a life without end, and an inheritance more to be desired than gold, a crown eternal in the heavens. These are the wishes of the preacher, these are his prayers in your behalf,—everlasting life and everlasting glory after your departure out of this world; and, during your stay on earth, a sound body, a healthy soul, a name in the book of life, and a household affectionate and dutiful, lovers of God and of his will. Such is the difference between the good wishes of the world and the good wishes of the preacher. The world’s good wishes are like itself, worldly: they look chiefly to the body: they reach not beyond earth, and the things of earth; while the good wishes of the preacher are chiefly for your souls: he looks, and by his office is bound to look, first to the one thing needful: his desires for your welfare are guided by the gospel, and like that would raise you up to heaven. Even with regard to this world, the preacher knows full well that the greatest happiness we can any of us enjoy in it is a peaceful mind, a quiet conscience, the feeling that God is reconciled to us, and loves us, and cares for us, and watches over us, and will so order and arrange whatever may befall us, that all things shall work together for our good.

These, I say, are the very best gifts,—they are the truest good, which any man can have in this life; and they are all contained in the text. Therefore what the Jewish priests were commanded to say to their people at seasons of joy and blessing, the same words do I now utter as a new year’s prayer for the whole of my parishioners and my people. To every one of you, my friends, I say, in the words of Moses: “The Lord bless thee, and keep thee; the Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee; the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.” This is my prayer now in your behalf: may each of you, young and old, male and female, rich and poor, may each of you take the words home to your hearts! and may God Almighty hear the words, and bring them all to pass to your great, and endless good!

But let us look at the text a little more in detail; and let us keep in mind, that this solemn blessing was of God’s own appointment, and that therefore we may expect to find mention in it of all those things which he knows to be best for his people. The first words of it are, “The Lord bless thee!” that is, the Lord give thee every good gift, and pour down upon thee in due abundance whatever is wholesome and profitable for thy soul first, and also for thy body. “The Lord keep thee!” that is, the Lord watch over thee for good, and shield thee from every kind of evil. Here then we have already prayed for every thing that is good for you; and have also called on the Almighty (think of that word) to be a guard to you against your enemies of every kind, and to defend you from all sorts of dangers. Is not this enough? Can we wish for any thing more? We perhaps might have thought it enough; but God in his bounty does not: at least he is pleased to shew forth the overflowings of his loving-kindness by heaping up blessing upon blessing. So the text goes on thus: “The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee.” You all know the difference of feel there is between a sunshiny and a cloudy day. The real heat may be the same; nay, the cloudy may be warmer than the sunshiny. In point of fact we know it often is; for we often have bright sunshine in the clear frosty days of winter, and dull clouds in the middle of summer. But though the real heat may be the same on both days,—though the thermometer, as it is called, or the glass which measures heat, may tell us that the cloudy day is the warmer of the two,—yet to our feelings it may be quite the contrary. There is something so enlivening in the sun, that I have often known persons come in from a walk on a bright winter’s day, and speak of it as very pleasant; while the same persons, on a damp cloudy evening in July, would be the first perhaps to shiver, and to wish for a fire. Now the same difference which it makes to a man’s body, whether the sun is shining upon him, the same difference does it make to his soul, whether God’s face is shining on him or no. Let God’s face shine on the soul, it walks in the brightest sunshine: let God veil his face and cloud it over, the soul feels chilled and is discomforted. Thus it is written, “Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled.” (Psalm xxx. 7.)

Think not, my brethren, that this is a small blessing. I said, that we often feel the cold on a sunshiny day in winter less than on a cloudy day in summer. Now is not something answering to this often met with in the world? Do we not see many a man there disquieted and ill at ease in the midst of riches and luxuries; while his poor neighbour, who lives in some sorry hovel, may look always cheerful and contented? What is this difference owing to? Not to the health and strength of the poor man: for he may be old, and often a sufferer from cold and wet; and he cannot afford to buy himself the little comforts proper for his years and infirmities. The rich man, on the other hand, may be still young: his disease, if it can be called one, is more of the mind than of the body: he can consult the best physicians: he can travel from place to place in search of pleasure: he is not obliged to deny himself any one earthly thing necessary to his ease and enjoyment. Yet with all this, in spite of his youth and his riches, and his having no outward ailment, and his possessing every comfort and luxury that heart could wish for, he may be always growling and grumbling; while the dweller in the old hovel, with the pinching frost of poverty and age, and sometimes sickness to boot, sharp upon him, may be ever making the best of his condition, and finding out something or other in it to thank God for. This is no mere dream of what might be. Those who mix much with the rich and with the poor, may see instances such as I have been describing, of discontented rich men and contented poor men, in every part of the land. What then, I ask, is this difference owing to? To what cause must we trace the gloomy spirit of the one, who has every worldly good to satisfy him, and the blithe-hearted contentedness of the other, whose lot in the world’s eyes is so hard and wretched? The cause is simply this, that the poor man I have been speaking of—for what I have said is true only of such— has led a Christian life, or at least has turned to God in earnest and repented of his sins betimes; and so God has allowed his face to shine upon him and to cheer him: while his rich neighbour has been led astray by the deceitfulness of riches, and has been so taken up with his pleasures, or with the cares which riches brings with it, that he could not spare time to think about God. He has turned his face away from God: therefore God has turned away his face from him, and left him in clouds and heaviness. O, my brethren, that you might but know and feel the joy and gladness which the light of God’s face can shed sceptre to us, as King Ahasuerus held his out to Esther, when she presented herself before him,— this surely is the highest privilege a son of Adam can enjoy. It is true, God does not in reality sit, like an eastern king, on a visible throne: for he dwells in glory unapproachable, and in light which no eye can pierce. Nor does he really lift up his head, any more than he holds out a golden sceptre. But a child may understand, that, when such things are said of God Almighty, it is only for the purpose of bringing down what is declared concerning him to the level of our poor weak minds. If heavenly things were spoken of after a heavenly manner, how could we creeping earthworms understand them? Therefore it has pleased God in Holy Writ to speak of himself in words and images borrowed from earthly things, that so we may be enabled to form some notions, however dim, and to gain some knowledge, however scanty, of his infinite power and goodness. Thus in some places of Scripture God is called a king, and in others a father. Not that he is like an earthly king, or an earthly father: but we all know what a king is, and what a father is: therefore, in compassion to our ignorance, God suffers himself to be thus spoken of, that we may in some measure understand the duty, and the obedience, and the love, which we owe him, and the protection, and the benefits, and the mercy, which we may hope for from him. So we read too in Scripture of God’s hands, and God’s eyes. Not that God, who is a spirit, either has, or is believed to have, hands and eyes, as we have: but this is said, to teach us that he sees and knows all our most secret actions, just as if he had eyes to see them with, and that he can punish us for our sins, and smite us down, just as if he had a strong right hand. You must not therefore be surprised by the expressions,” The Lord make his face shine upon thee,” and ” lift up his countenance upon thee:” for these things too are said in compassion to our weakness, to make us understand that God’s favour is as cheering to the soul, as sunshine is to the body; and that they who are reconciled to him, and are living in his love, have the same quiet trust and confidence that no real harm can happen to them, as you and I should have, if we knew ourselves to be countenanced and befriended by the king. If we had the king’s countenance, if he had looked favorably upon us, and assured us of his friendship, we should expect to receive some honour or preferment from him; or at least we should feel certain that, so far as he could hinder, he would not suffer any one to harm us. So is it with those who have God’s countenance, but in a far, far higher degree. For the king, great as he is, is only a man. His power is cut short in a thousand ways, and at the very best can only follow us to the grave. When dust to dust is thrown upon our coffins, we are beyond the sway of every earthly prince. But God is the King of kings: his power is bounded by nothing, but his own wisdom and goodness and will: whatever he pleases to do, he can do: above all, in the grave, where all human rule is at an end, his rule and sovereignty are doubled. Here he leaves us in a great degree to our own devices: he governs us by human means: he rules us by viceroys and by stewards: but the moment the soul leaves the body, it passes into his immediate kingdom: it goes to a place where the government is given in charge, not to any earthly prince, but to the only begotten Son, who there reigns and judges in person with a boundless power to punish and to reward. My brethren, the friendship and protection of the King of kings is surely well worth having. May he be pleased, as the Psalmist expresses it, to ” give us everlasting felicity, and to make us glad with the joy of his countenance!” (Psalm xxi. 6.)

Since God however does not really sit like a king upon a throne, nor shew himself to man face to face, how are we to know whether his countenance has been lifted up upon us? The last blessing mentioned in the text will furnish an answer to this question: “The Lord give thee peace.” For peace is the fruit of God’s favour. He who is at peace, and feels himself at peace with God, he who knows himself to be reconciled to his heavenly Father through the sufferings and merits of Jesus Christ, he who knows that he has been admitted and adopted into Christ’s family, and feels that obedient reverence and love toward God, which every true son must feel for the best of fathers,—such a person may be quite sure that God has indeed smiled upon him and lifted up his countenance upon him. “The effect of righteousness,” in both senses of the word,—the effect of justification by faith in the blood of Christ, and of our living thereupon a good and christian life, both which things in Scripture are often termed righteousness,—the effect of this righteousness, the prophet Isaiah says, ” is peace.” Peace then is the offspring of righteousness. If we know we are forgiven for Christ’s sake, we are at peace, because we know that nothing can hurt us. If, out of gratitude and love to our Master and Saviour, we are living in obedience to his holy laws, then too we have every ground and reason to be at peace: for, as the apostle exclaims, “If we are followers of that which is good, who is he that will harm us?” (1 Peter iii. 13.) Here I should conclude, but for one caution most necessary to be given. Some may think, that, because they are at peace, because their conscience does not prick or pain them, therefore all must be well with them. My brethren, it is not every sort of peace that is to be desired, but only that true peace, which is the effect of righteousness. There is a false peace, a peace arising out of recklessness and carelessness and the never thinking about God. Let me warn you against this false peace. Would you say, a man was at peace, who was dropping into a deadly slumber? Would you say that Sampson was at peace, when he lay sleeping in the lap of Delilah? Such, so dangerous, so deadly is,—the peace shall I call it? or rather, the false security of the self-righteous and the wicked.

Rouse yourselves then, I beseech you, from such fatal slumbers, if any of you have hitherto been sinking beneath them. Awake! the flames of the fiery lake are flashing in your eyes, and you see them not, but are sliding sleep-bound toward them. Awake! behold, the face of the Lord does not shine, but frown upon you. Any fear, any woe, any sting of conscience will be a blessing to you, which can but save you from the wrath of a disregarded and offended God. As the old year has fallen into its grave, and the new year has just opened its eyes to the light of this morning’s sun, so let the days of your ungodliness have come to an end, and let this be the first day of a new year of godly fear and hope. This is my prayer for you: this is my new year’s blessing. I cannot wish you peace yet, your false dead peace must be broken up, the crust of hard ice which covers your hearts must be broken up, before you can enjoy anything like true living peace, before the waters can flow gently and calmly, basking in the sunshine of heaven.

My brethren, you can now understand a little better how precious was the blessing which the priest of God among the Jews called down upon the people of God. Let me repeat the words again, as I do from my heart: my brethren, the Lord bless you this year, and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you, and be gracious unto you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace, now and evermore.

source: Sermons to a country congregation;  by Augustus William Hare 1836

Christmas; Christ’s Nativity: The Manifestation of Christ, or Epiphany.

The Child of Promise and The Nativity of Christ

“The Greek word signifies manifestation, and hath been of old used for Christmas day, when Christ was manifested in the flesh; and for the day wherein the star did appear to manifest Christ to the wise men, as appears by Chrysostom and Epiphanius. For the antiquity of the day, Augustin says, The solemnity of this day, known throughout all the world, what joy doth it bring in!”—” This feast has several appellations amongst the Greek fathers, sometimes it is called, the day of sacred illumination, (Gregory Nazianzen); sometimes the Theophany, the manifestation of God. It often imports Christ’s birth-day; now is the festival of the Theophany, or Christ’s nativity. Yet sometimes they are distinguished, The nativity of Christ and the Theophany, &c. are to be accounted for holidays. And again, The first festival is that of Christ’s birth, the next is that of the Theophany, (Epiphanius). But of all the names most usual, and most frequently applied to it, is this of Epiphany, though under the patriarchate of Alexandria communicated both to the nativity and baptism of Christ.”

I.— The manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles.

The order of divine providence, to a contemplative mind, affords one of the strongest evidences of the over-ruling power of Almighty God, in arranging and completing the purposes of his will for the final benefit of all his creatures. The establishment and administration of nations, and even the successive transactions of every man’s life, sufficiently declare, “this is thy hand, and thou Lord hast done it.” The motive may not always be visible to the limited view of man, but the effect is always visible; or at least, may be deduced from the variety of combinations which every man sees before him. In nothing is this observation more conclusive, than in a comparison of the volume of Scripture with the general history of the human race; and still more, with the history of the human heart.

The manifestation of our blessed Saviour to the world, is the grand key of those unsearchable riches, which the grace of God has given to mankind. He was first manifested by the voice of prophecy, generally, and obscurely, in the early ages; afterwards, more fully revealed in the family of David; and at last, expected and received in the manger at Bethlehem. Could this have been thought possible? Could it ever have been imagined, that he who came specifically into the world to save sinners, and to establish for himself a spiritual kingdom, a kingdom, sooner or later, to comprehend all people, nations, and languages, should be received in a stable amongst the meanest of mankind? But this was an indispensable link in the history of redemption. The more wonderful, because the more unlikely.

Our Lord’s nativity, doubtless, was his first personal manifestation to the Jewish nation, to whom his Gospel was to be first offered. Connected with this was the manifestation of himself, at his baptism by John, by a miraculous appearance, and a miraculous voice. “Then Jesus when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water; and lo! The heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him; and a voice from heaven saying, This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. We cannot imagine any exhibition of himself more impressive, illustrious, or sublime. And if we refer on this occasion to the inspired words of the Evangelical Prophet, the scene before us becomes our own. “Behold my servant whom I uphold, mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth. I have put my Spirit upon him, he shall show forth judgment to the Gentiles.

It will not be supposed that great events can be accomplished without great  manifestations. There must be something of no common nature to mark the circumstance, and direct the attention. Though some mystery hangs over the disclosure of the wandering star to the wise men of the East, none whatever attaches to the object of their journey. The appearance of a star of an uncommon description was likely to attract the notice of celebrated men belonging to a nation long distinguished for their study of astronomy. How they were made acquainted with the expected, or actual birth of Christ, does not appear. The Chaldeans were a wise and an inquiring people, and might have heard, or read of, the predictions relative to the Messias from the books of Moses, through the information of travelling Jews; or they might have had the circumstance particularly revealed, an opinion I am inclined to adopt, as they were warned by God in a dream to return by a different road. However it was, a star of so particular a description pointing out distinctly to them a line of road leading to the very object of their search, was a pre-disposing cause of their journey; and a miraculous interposition of Divine Providence to reveal the new-born Saviour to a remote region of the Gentile world.

The leading of the star was a moral movement, and every step of the Magi was on sacred ground. They had a Saviour in view, and were little molested with the difficulties of their journey. Christian traveller! dost thou see any resemblance to thyself? The Gospel is thy star, and the heavens above thee are clear. Thou hast no Alps to climb, nor torrents to obstruct thy path; but thou hast dangers to encounter which they never felt, perverse passions and pernicious principles; thou art way-laid by temptations—the world, the flesh, and the devil, are inveterate enemies in that wilderness which thou must pass. But look upward! thou hast a guide and protector as well as them; the star is as visible to thee, as to any of the eastern sages. If the star was emblematic of the Gospel, thou hast the reality of what they only had the figure. The bright and morning star is thine. There was a time in the course of their journey, that the wise men lost sight of the friendly star. They were searching at Jerusalem, and saw it not . Their interview with Herod was of a dangerous nature, and excited both the jealousy and cruelty of the tyrant. Their fears might be proportionate. They departed, it may be, dejected with disappointment from the holy city on their road to Bethlehem; but they had not proceeded far, when the star again appeared, and “they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.” Thus the man that mourneth for his sin committed against conviction, fallen from prospects of holy hope through the infirmity, and perhaps worse than the infirmity of the flesh, when he again beholds the blessed star of salvation beam upon his soul; when the faith which once led him over floods of ungodliness, and the barren sands of an Arabian desert, begins again to influence his breast, and the spirit of divine love to re-assure his heart, then does he resemble the wise men of the East, rejoicing at the re-appearance of their star, and warmly pursuing their path to the place where the Saviour lies. Happy is the man that recovers from his sin, from the hiding of God’s face, with all the fatal consequences of such a privation; happy in the acquisition of that treasure which the wise men found at Bethlehem; most of all happy, in being taught by the grace of God how to value it! Their own treasures presented to the holy babe, were trivial in comparison with those which he had to bestow. Gold, and frankincense, and myrrh, might be appropriate marks of their own characters and country, and might not be without an allusion to the heavenly Prince, the object of their journey; but the offering of a convert of the Gospel, the offering of one wearied and heavy laden with the burthen of his sin, where was that to be found, but in the very bosom of him whom they came to worship.

Blessed Lord! accept thine own offering; neither the calves and goats of the Jews, nor the lip-labour of the Christian, if I may use a term too degrading for the holiness of his profession, can be a sufficient offering for thee, who art all in all to us. Let us, impressed with this, conviction, approach the humble cottage of the lowly Jesus, and present our own gifts before him; not indeed earthly treasures, to whatever they may allude; not costly presents, such as have too often deceived men of this world; neither with ashes on our heads, nor sackcloth on our persons, but such as the Gospel, pure and unadulterated, rejoices to present, a pure faith, a contrite heart, and an holy conversation.

But our contemplation on the Chaldean manifestation of Christ does not end here. Herod’s cruelty was itself a manifestation of its cause. How shall we reflect on the case of the poor infants who were slaughtered on this sad occasion? Even with that comfort which the Gospel only can bestow. No death is premature which the Almighty has designed; nor any injury inflicted, which the Son of God cannot cure. In infancy, every man may be satisfied with death. If unsinning life may be presented as an offering, through the merits and mediation of him who merited all for us, Oh! let the tear be checked which is shed for a dying babe. Nature may make some resistance, but grace is the healing balm. These poor infants resemble the souls under the altar, in the book of St . John’s revelation, who were “slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held. It may be said that they were baptized in blood. True; it was the blood of Christ which taketh away the sin of the world. Youth and age are as nothing in the sight of him, to whom a thousand years are as one day. “Cease, then, from man, whose breath is in his nostrils, for wherein is he to be accounted of?”

II.—The manifestation of Christ by his First Miracle.

To rejoice at every manifestation of the Saviour to the world is a Christian feeling, and must be considered as a manifestation of the increase of our Christian faith. Blessed are the people that are in such a case! and truly blessed is the heart that can sympathize in so holy an affection, that can go on from grace to grace, till he appears before the Lord in Zion.

Our Lord’s manifestations of himself were gradual; like that of the morning, which first irradiates the hills, then penetrates to the depths of the valleys. Each ray brings an accession of light, till the whole atmosphere is sensible of the blessing. If the revelation of natural beauty makes such an impression on the mind, what may we not expect, what, indeed, do we not experience, when the deepest recesses of the soul become the receptacles of spiritual joy, and the “whole of man’s existence is absorbed in the high conception? I speak this under correction; for being compounded of body as well as soul, our warmest aspirations must accord with our relative situation. This union cannot be forgotten, and when rationally, though spiritually established, it must afford the just measure of every religious feeling.

It was a manifestation of our Lord’s person and character, when, at an early period of his life, he was discovered by his mother, sitting in the midst of the learned rabbis in the temple at Jerusalem, hearing them and asking them questions. His proficiency, natural rather than acquired, amazed his hearers, and astonished his mother, who had reason to believe that the Son of Miracle was destined to sustain a character of undefined greatness. The immediate effect of this voluntary appearance is unknown; but, doubtless, it led the way to the disclosure of his future character, and was a link of that chain which bound in one, both the Jewish and the Gentile world: and though Scripture is silent on the subject, it is possible that a Nicodemus, or a Joseph of Arimathea, might be influenced to believe, from a remote circumstance, in the divinity of his character; and, finally, to adopt that acknowledgment of it afterwards, so honourable and valuable to themselves.

The true character of Jesus was, if I may so say, in abeyance with respect to his public history, till he had attained the usual age of public teachers. He then stepped forward with that divine dignity, which accompanied him to the end of his short ministry upon earth.

That which attracts attention in any great character must be something above the ordinary efforts of mankind; something allied, as it were, to a divine original: and though in the common dispensation of God’s Providence, the course of nature is smooth and undisturbed, yet, when his will is to be displayed for purposes higher than man’s understanding, he speaks a language that must be heard, and in accents derived from himself—the clouds pour out water, the air thunders, and his arrows are abroad. Miracle is the signal of God’s peculiar interference at the delivery of the law. The grandeur of the scenery is equal to the importance of the occasion. The Gospel also has its introduction. It is, indeed, a covenant of mercy, and therefore introduced with a milder designation of God’s will. Here miracle is equally conspicuous; but the lenient hand of the Saviour distributes it under a different principle. The law says, the soul that sinneth, it shall die—the Gospel, come unto me and ye shall live. There are also inward as well as outward miracles; miracles of grace as well as miracles of glory. The conversion of a sinner’s heart, and magnifying the glory of God by a miraculous interposition, are conspicuous proofs that God is in us of a truth.

It pleased the Almighty, that the first manifestation of the Saviour in his public capacity, should be made by a miracle. The nature of the miracle was appropriate to the circumstance. The person of our Lord had been miraculously attested at his baptism by John. A few, a very few friends had attached themselves to him at this period, by the tie of an affectionate friendship, founded on the holy character which they believed him to possess. These friends, with relatives of his temporal state, were present with him at a marriage feast, probably of one of his family; unconscious that, at that time, he would give any proof of the divine nature of his character. How unconscious are many of us of the moment, or circumstance, which decides the most important event of our whole lives! This observation must be obvious to every reflecting man. A journey is often commenced which, to many, never ends. We enter an apartment, careless and unconcerned, when the presence of a particular person, or an unexpected offer, gives a turn to every prospect of our hearts. This marriage festival, which brought present enjoyment to some, gave salvation to many more. It gave an impulse, through the grace of God, to the first ministers of the Gospel, and showed them the way, through many long and painful travels, to experience the blessings and happy consequences of an apostolic mission.

The order of divine providence is here as minutely followed, as in any other part of our Lord’s various life. The first manifestation of his glory by his first miracle, was apparently undesigned as to every outward circumstance. It was not made in the temple, the most eminent monument of the glory of God; it did not take place in the holy city, where great kings and great prophets had usually assembled; it did not occur in the mansion of the rich, or in the camp of the warrior, where numerous retainers might have maintained his cause, or fought his battles; but it happened in the humble cottage of a poor man like himself, unable to supply all things necessary on a memorable occasion. His mother’s anxiety was excited: for, when they wanted wine, she said unto him,—” They have no wine.” In that country, wine was not the luxury, but the necessary of life: and when he liberally and miraculously supplied the want, justly might they wonder, and lay the first foundation of that faith on which they were to be built up unto eternal life. “This beginning of miracles,” says the Evangelist, “did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory, and his disciples believed on him’.”

Though the conversion of a world was to be the consequence of our Lord’s manifestation, it was necessarily to commence from one point: for in all things there must be an impulse, as well as a final consequence. Here were friends to be convinced, as well as adversaries to be repelled. Both were ready to fill the ranks. Had they been as ready for conviction, or conciliation, the mystery would have been over. But not so, “great is the mystery of godliness.” “A great and effectual door is opened, and there are many adversaries. The harmony, however, of a family of love, as on this occasion, is a picture deserving the contemplation of everyone who would study the intrinsic beauty of Christian society; “after this, Jesus went down to Capernaum, he and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples.”

The object of this miracle was to make Jesus known, as well as to confirm the faith of those who, in a short period, were to become missionaries of the Gospel. Eye-witnesses of such transactions were to be selected for the first preachers. Such was also the selection of witnesses of our Lord’s resurrection.

There is a consistency between this miracle, and the time, place, and persons, when, where, and by whom, it was performed. It had been tauntingly said of Christ, “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Whence hath this man all these things*?” The performance of the miracle was an answer to the inquiry. Even his brethren were convinced.

But Jesus not only manifested himself, but his glory. The word glory, in its spiritual sense, is attributed to Christ in its most extensive signification. The glory of the Lord is an expression continually occurring in Scripture; and no man can read it with out an overwhelming apprehension of that Majesty which no man hath seen or can see; an eminence and splendour which surpass human conception, and when we see “the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,” we have a reflected glory which was communicated to man for the most beneficial purpose of man’s redemption. “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto themWhen these expressions of love reach the heart, the glory of the divine union will excite every better feeling, and produce an animation and joy, as if touched with celestial fire.

Lose not a transport so seldom felt, so quickly lost. Be as one of the heavenly host, even now beholding and contemplating the magnificence of the Saviour. “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

III.—Christian Missions.

No man can be satisfied of the value of our Christian faith on its true principle, without earnestly endeavouring to extend its advantages both within, and without his power. If salvation be the end of religion, and the knowledge of religion be derived from the word of God, we have here the first step of those many travels to which the zealous missionary is directed. “When thou art converted,” said our Lord to St. Peter, “strengthen thy brethren .” This was not a general, but a particular admonition. But as universal precepts include particular duties, we may imagine that the conversion of brethren was to be propagated from man to man, as all the benefits of society extend to every member of a community.

When we look around us, do we not wish that all we see were Christian? When we observe ordinary habits become public nuisances, and knowing that we reside in a reputed Christian country where salvation has been preached, and even, where, I trust, it has been found; when we reflect upon the relays of sin that pass along our streets, and still more, of what is concealed from our eyes, are we not disgusted at such circumstances, and feel our hearts sink at so appalling a prospect; and finally, under such an impression, is it not our endeavour, by God’s grace, to lessen the iniquity at least by one? He who takes this view of his situation, must necessarily strive to improve it, and to propagate a saving faith within his sphere as an indispensable duty.

But as every duty has its own qualification, so has even the solemn duty of conversion. The mark may be missed by an improper use of the means. A true zeal must be according to knowledge; otherwise we may mar the very blessing it might have been our happiness to procure. This is not the place, however, to draw distinctions. If Christian missions are necessary, a self-evident proposition, they must be supported; but to make them available, they must be derived from that legitimate authority, originally and especially deputed by the voice of inspiration. I mean not to make any observation on the good men who cross sea and land to make a proselyte; but I have often regretted, that more effectual measures had not been adopted for the promotion of this good cause, within the bosom of our own excellent Church.

The propagation of the Gospel, though miraculously rapid at its first institution amongst the civilized nations of the world, was left to find its way in savage countries, and in remote regions of the globe recently or slowly inhabited, by ordinary means, and by the intrinsic value justly attributed to it by pious, zealous, and intrepid neighbours. We will not speak of late or early propagation of the Gospel, because, to the Almighty Ruler of the universe, a thousand years are as one day; and to the happy country, whenever or wherever converted to pure Christianity, we need only reckon by the same measure of time. That which I would wish to inculcate is, that conversion is a duty of all times and seasons as well as in all places, and incumbent on persons of every age and station. The opportunities of life indeed, are different with respect to every event, but if the heart be right, the duty will find its proper place, and God himself will point out the opportunity. If we travel with our eye under this direction, we can follow the Lord’s leading through the most wonderful tracks, and accomplish his purpose by ways nothing less than miraculous.

Within the memory of man, ships of discovery have been sent out into regions not known, and among people the most unlikely to be brought under the cross of Christ. See! the prophecy is fulfilling, ” all nations shall call me blessed.” At various periods in the history of the world, certain impulses seem to prevail in the developement of new facts. The extension of trade, and the astonishing application of the mechanical arts, constitute new powers in the hand of man. These powers arise from new combinations in the reasoning faculties, and produce effects attributable only to the God of reason; the consequence, therefore, is, that the ways of God are carried into effect in a manner derivable only from himself. Thus it is that the trading ship with its Bible on board, is a messenger of heaven; whilst the vessel itself traverses the ocean unconscious of its treasure.

Though all the Apostles were missionaries, St. Paul was the original missionary of the Gentile Church. Not only his preaching and epistles, but the very circumstances of his travels, were appropriate to his mission. What was his shipwreck on the island of Melita, but a part of this design? When they saw the viper on his hand, was it merely considered as an accident by his heathen spectators? This man is a murderer, they said. But when he shook it off, and found no harm—This man is a god. He was a prisoner at Rome,—why? that he might spread the knowledge of the Saviour, and make proselytes in Nero’s prison as well as in Nero’s palace. It is even said, that this great missionary visited Britain. Certain it is, his doctrines came early to this island. In what state did they find our Saxon ancestors ?—oppressed with the cruel rites of Druidism; rude, ignorant, and idolatrous. How great then are the blessings which a mission has brought to us! Let gratitude, founded on the depths of religion, return the obligation, by doing to others what others have done for us; and may we never fail to express that gratitude with faithful hearts to the Giver of all goodness and lover of souls, who hath called us, and our forefathers, out of darkness into the marvellous light of the Gospel.

It is thus that the same benefits are destined to travel round the world. Every man may lend a helping hand. A man may travel by his prayers; he may travel by his bounty; he may be a missionary by his fireside; in humility of mind, and rich in spirit, he may do all this—neither will his labour be in vain in the Lord—he may cast his treasure on the waters, and it will return after many days.

God uses his own means to accomplish his own ends. The Gospel was never thought of when Cook landed at Otaheite. Yet see the change! I can only draw a general conclusion from the circumstance. But there is more in contemplation in the eye of Providence than can be drawn by the most reflecting mind from the events of the most interesting narrative. “I shall see him, but not now, I shall behold him, but not nigh; there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel.” The star travelled with the wise men from Chaldea, till it became fixed over the revealed Saviour at Jerusalem. The manifestation of Christ is still in progress; nor will it cease till the Gospel of ” the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations’.”

But in casting my eye over the extensive labours of a missionary life, I must not omit other duties, with which we ought to be better acquainted—the mission which presents itself to us at home. And if I add, that this is preparatory to the great and comprehensive plan for the conversion of a world, I trust that I should begin at the right point. Even under the pleasing duties of a parish minister, he cannot but feel discouraged by the carelessness of some, and the obstinate resistance of others, neither of whom he can by any means consider as converts of the Gospel. Here there is ample scope for missionary labours within a narrow compass.

An eminent and eloquent divine, though not of our Church, produces this argument in favour of national establishments of religion.

“An establishment,” he says, “when rightly viewed, has greatly more in it of the character and power of a missionary operation. It may be regarded as an universal home mission. It works aggressively over all the land. That was a prodigious progressive movement which it made at the outset, when it first planted its churches, and chalked out its parishes, and so caused the voice of the Gospel to be heard throughout the whole length and breadth of the territory. And, then, if rightly followed up, we shall discern in its internal workings the same character; for each minister in his own little vineyard is provided with ample scope, and is placed in the best vantage-ground for the high and holy functions of a Christian missionary. It is true that his pulpit is stationary, and there must be some predisposition for Christianity among those families of his people, who are drawn to it by a process of attraction on the Sabbath. But his power is moveable; and by a process of aggression through the week, he can go forth among all the families of his people, even among those who have as little of predisposition for Christianity as exists in the remotest wilds of Paganism. We have not to traverse oceans and continents in order to perform the essential work of a missionary, or to assail an immortal spirit which is not in quest of salvation for itself, with the calls and overtures of Heaven’s high embassy. There is a moral as well as a physical distance which must be overcome; and in the act of doing it, the parochial clergyman may have to face such difficulties, and to force his way through such barriers of dislike, or prejudice, or delicacy, that in the prosecution of his calling, he may, without half a mile of loco-motion, earn the proudest triumphs, and discharge the most arduous functions; and, in short, evince all the sound characteristics of a most deep and devoted missionary. We must not overlook the great Christian good achieved, whether in those rare and transient visitations by which they intersect our land, or in that multitude of fabrics, where they permanently emanate the lessons of the Gospel, and by which they have beautified, with frequent spots of surpassing verdure, the face of our island.”

See also:The Wisdom and Love of God as Shown by His Creation by Noah Webster

Source: Reflections adapted to the holy seasons of the Christian and ecclesiastical year: By John Brewster (1834)

The Child of Promise and The Nativity of Christ

LivingNativityThe Child of Promise.

The word promise, in the Christian acceptation of the expression, is attended with such a pleasing contemplation, that we are prepared to pursue the train of imagination with an alacrity that delights, and a zeal that leads to a conclusion which satisfies the warmest expectation. The land of promise has become proverbial; and we pursue the wanderings in the wilderness till we arrive, with the Israelites, at a country flowing with milk and honey, a country abounding in everything that could please the eye or gratify the senses. That land of promise to the sons of Jacob, was merely an emblem of a spiritual kingdom to the sons of the Gospel. For who is our leader through the wilderness of the world? Who is he that strikes the rock, and bids the living water flow through the Christian camp? One who was indeed the child of promise long before the patriarchal dispensation spread itself abroad in the land of Canaan. By faith, even in the most early days, the elders obtained a good report; and by faith, Abel offered an acceptable sacrifice ‘. This could not have been the case without an original revelation. And if we penetrate a little nearer to the first spring of salvation, we shall witness a grateful promise indeed, that the offspring of our first parents, who brought sin into the world and all our woe, should ultimately bruise the serpents head, and “through death, destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. That this is a great mystery must be acknowledged; but, as a confirmed doctrine of the Gospel, must be believed—believed, not merely as an historic fact, but as the foundation of our Christian dispensation. The purpose doubtless is most beneficial; and though the Almighty has permitted the enemy of our salvation to “walk about seeking whom he may devour’,” we may rest assured that he will be permitted to devour none but those who, virtually or really, renounce the allegiance of our God and Saviour.

If we have evidence of this inestimable promise, disbelief of it becomes tenfold sinful. The distinction of the Apostle is this—” Because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith’.” When we perceive, then, a long train of prophecy bearing on this one event, when we have been enabled to see that event accomplished; when we live after the fact, and are made acquainted with the inestimable benefits to be derived from it; that the child of promise has bruised the serpent’s head, by being himself bruised, and put to grief as a substitute for those who had been led astray by the wiles of the seducing serpent; when the blessings of his appearance have been felt in the breasts of the faithful; when the Comforter has come to soothe the orphan hearts of the miserable and heavy-laden—what can we say but that the voice of joy and gladness has cheered the desert, that “the branch of the Lord is beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel!”

To enumerate the prophecies, would here be out of place; but to lay the elect corner-stone on this foundation, as the peculiar grounds of spiritual deliverance, is to establish a principle, which infidelity, with its fullest train of sophistry, is unable to remove, or destroy.

As the original sin of our first parents was the sole cause of the loss of their happy abode, and degraded and obscured the fine faculties with which they were endowed; as that sin has been but too fatally transmitted to their posterity in every succeeding age, and is still predominant in our own; the Almighty, in the depth of his divine mercy and goodness, proposed a deliverer to propitiate for his fallen creatures. The plan of Providence, as declared in the Scriptures of truth, was intimated in every age, obscurely perhaps at first; but sufficiently intelligible to excite hope; afterwards, in language that could not be mistaken; till at length the time came that Christ burst upon the world and completed the general joy.

I speak here collectively—waiving the hardness of the Jew and the resistance of the Gentile:—but anticipating that day of Messiah’s triumph, that one day, if I may so say, when “the multitudes that went before and that followed, cried, saying, Hosannah to the Son of David: blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosannah in the highest!” Is there any one duly impressed with the necessity of a Redeemer, with the true value of a Deliverer—and such a Deliverer !—” the brightness of his Father’s glory, and the express image of his person,” and one “who, his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree;” is there any man so tame of soul, so destitute even of self-love, as not to hail his appearance with the most joyful acclamations?

This is, indeed, the advent of the child of promise: and to everyone who receives him graciously, he is the child of promise still: as he enters no man’s doors but with this benevolent assurance, this day is salvation come to this house . The promise is completed in the breast of every true believer—the fruit of David’s body now rests on David’s throne. Good old Simeon departed in peace when he had received the infant Jesus in his arms; and Anna, the venerable and aged’ prophetess, spake of him to all those that looked for redemption in Israel.

While our hearts are warm with expectation, let not our bodies faint with apprehension, either under the pressure of sin, sorrow, or affliction. These, indeed, are evils that no man can support without assistance far beyond his own; but he must not forget that help is at hand in the person of the promised child, who came with healing on his wings, with consolation sweet as his pure spirit, with salvation which his merits and his mercies only can communicate. “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” Rest then here on the omnipotence of this most explicit prophecy; repose with confidence that he who is all this, can bestow all that he possesses; and be assured, that the Prince of Peace is the holy child of promise.

May the benefits of this promise cheer and cherish the heart of every Christian: “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.

The Nativity of Christ.

“When the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son.” We cannot have meditated truly on the preparation which was making for the greatest change which had ever taken place on the moral theatre of the world, if we perceive not the intrinsic value of the person to be introduced. Many great men have unexpectedly appeared at various periods, who, from unusual energy of mind or body, have occasioned great civil and political changes in their respective countries and stations. This age has not been without its instances. But, great as these changes may have been, they passed speedily away. Others may succeed; but none are permanent. New changes possibly form new habits: but do they form new men? We must look elsewhere for such a conformation. And such a change we have had, indeed such a change we now have in the blessed object of adoration on this day of Christ’s nativity.

A very partial and even prejudiced observer, is compelled to acknowledge that an important and visible change in the constitution of the world, took place as on this day of Christ’s nativity; the consequences of which will remain to the end of the world. Even the false apostles of later days, the instructors of new religions, wherever they may be found, are proofs of the existence of one pure fountain from whence their polluted streams have flowed; and when those streams shall be cleared from their defilements, which will be accomplished by an ethereal grace, all will flow together into the sanctuary of the Lord.

“When the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son.” A short selection of passages from the more remote and obscure prophecies to the recent and explicit, will at once illustrate the point of time alluded to by the apostle. “The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head’.”—” In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed—” Of the fruit of thy body (David’s) will I set upon thy throne.”— “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Emanuel .”—” Behold! thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus. ” He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of his father David‘.”—” From henceforth,” said Mary the virgin, “shall all generations call me blessed‘.”

This day of our Lord’s nativity presents to us a yearly representation of this fulness of time. It reminds us of another day distinguished in the annals of sacred history, when the children of Israel were delivered from the captivity of Egypt; and may also call attention to ourselves when delivered from the bondage of sin: ” this day shall be unto you for a memorial, and you shall keep it a feast unto the Lord throughout your generations ; you shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever.” Previous to this day, the Messiah appeared only in figure, in shadow, and prophecy, but on this day of his revelation to Israel, and through Israel to the world at large, the shadow fled, and prophecy was accomplished. Then, indeed, time was at the full. God sent forth his Son: he went forth from himself, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. The passage illustrates, the whole scheme of man’s redemption through Christ, from the pressure of the law of Moses, from the pains and penalties of sin and death, from natural depravity, to an assumption, by the Saviour, into the inestimable blessing of adoption: “and because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father!” The connexion now is as full as the time—” Christ taking our flesh, we rejoicing in his Spirit—he, by us, partaking of our nature—we, by him, partaking of the divine nature, both sealing our duty to him”!

A contemplation of the sacred books, revealing and recording every circumstance relative to him who is the light of the world, is wonderful in every view. They are satisfactory evidences of what God has done for the soul of man; clear as a plan of salvation, consoling to penitent sinners, encouraging to those who are the happy recipients of so inestimable a blessing. When these consequences are fairly understood and appreciated, the prophetic notice of our Lord’s coming, the supernatural circumstances of his birth, the vision of angels to the shepherds, the harmony of the celestial hymn, the painful journey of the wise men of Persia, the presentation of a valuable symbolic offering to an obscure infant in the manger of an obscure inn; and at a later period of the infant’s life, the extraordinary appearance and preaching of his avowed forerunner, St. John; and more, the splendid and miraculous revelation of the Holy Spirit at his baptism;—will be thought far from unseasonable preludes to our hymns of praise and thanksgivings to him, who thus brought tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.

Had the Jews been sensible of such a visitor, as they ought to have been from a knowledge of their own Scriptures; were we sensible of such a visitor, with both the Jewish Scriptures and our own before our eyes, how very different would have been their conduct, and how very different should be our own on the anniversary of this day of our Lord’s nativity! It would not merely be a periodical blessing, but every day would cause a spiritual rejoicing for a new state of existence. “This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will be glad and rejoice in it.”

Considered in this light, we have a fulness of subject, suitable to the fulness of time: a subject which seems to burst beyond common bounds, and offers such a plenitude of thought, as ought, indeed, to fill our hearts with gladness, and our tongues with praise. I do not, however, call upon myself or others to desire an excitement beyond our natural powers. An enthusiastic elevation of mind is no proof of a sound and holy faith. The calmness of our belief is the criterion of our wisdom. “The wisdom that is from above, is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. The subject indeed is high; and requires the highest attainment of spiritual understanding to reflect upon it with edification and improvement: but God has given us, on such occasions, not “the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” If our understanding be charged with righteousness, our Christian path will be as smooth, as if softened by the dew of the morning.

May my heart be prepared by divine grace for so holy a meditation! May it secure to me the calmness of piety; and then may I be allowed to open my eyes and exclaim with the servant of the prophet on the rapture of his master, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof!”

The day of Christ’s nativity must not pass away like common days; neither must it be distinguished by that thoughtless and licentious hilarity, which custom has shed around it. The cheerfulness of true religion requires nothing austere or morose, much less anything brutish or intemperate, to correct it. The domestic virtues are Christian virtues; they are graces emanating from the very spirit of Christianity, and diffusing such a love among family-society, as the angels of heaven may look upon with complacency and satisfaction. Blessed is that season which is made holy by the pleasing and pious intercourse of prayer and praise! Blessed are those Christian friends who meet together to praise God and be thankful: thankful, not only for the comforts they enjoy as members of a Christian family, but as part of an holy brotherhood, of “the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven’;” as one of those that “have obtained a good report through faith, and have received the promise”.

The meditation is awful and interesting to which we are directed on this blessed day of our Lord’s nativity—it rests principally on the great doctrine of the day, salvation by Christ alone; “neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” No obscurity attends the doctrine; neither can salvation be explained away by any moral argument. The original revelation of our Lord’s name and character to his reputed father, -cannot be misunderstood; “Mary thy wife shall bring forth a son, conceived in her by the Holy Ghost, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sin.” “The God of our fathers,” says St Peter, “raised up Jesus, whom ye slew, and hanged on a tree: him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins’.” How was this accomplished? Hallowed be the exposition to every feeling member of the Church of Christ!” I delivered unto you, first of all,” says St. Paul, “that which I also received; how that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures ‘.” And the beloved apostle expressly declares, “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

To bring this home to the reflecting heart. We are, or ought to be well satisfied of the insufficiency of human merit; every man bears the evidence within his own breast; and I dare not think that any man can rest on his own merit. No man certainly, who does not greatly deceive himself. If he cannot rest on himself, he must look for help elsewhere. But where, in human life, can he find it? Poor human nature sinks beneath his grasp. No man may redeem his brother. But in the discovery made on this day of God, we have as much as God can send; as much as man can desire. “God sent forth his Son”—his great estimation of the person sent, is implied in the expression. Human feelings are those only by which we can arrive at any adequate conception of things divine. The name of Son needs no interpretation in a parent’s breast. And if we can imagine, even in a low degree, the infinite pureness of the Almighty’s love, then may we attempt to calculate the love of God, which passes all understanding. The Son, too, implies the human nature of Christ without which the object of his appearance would have been in vain. The world in which he appeared, and the character of that world, are consonant with the great purpose of his coming. “In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.”—” He sent his Son to be the propitiation [or, propitiatory sacrifice] for our sins ‘.” That is, to free us from all the evil consequences of sin, and endow us with all possible good; adopt us as beloved children, and invest us with an heavenly inheritance.”

Here then is disclosed, not only the fulness of time referred to in the birth of Christ, but the fulness of blessings attached to it. In consequence of the great event of this day, the circumstances of the world are changed. We were under the law, and subject to its penalties: we are under the Gospel, and expectants of its promises. Under the sentence of the law our very lives were jeopardied; under the benevolence of redemption we are not only rescued, but accepted. Our redemption is not restricted by cruel conditions, or by narrow bounds; the Son, thus given and received by faith in the pardoning mercy of God, through him, is all-sufficient; he is a common Saviour, and his gratuity “a common salvation.”In him shall all nations be blessed;” but not as all nations, or all sinners, but as redeemed, purchased by the blood of the Redeemer. It was a matter of purchase and delivery—” He gave his life a ransom for many,” for the many, the world. To make this redemption effectual it must be accepted in the beloved, the beloved Son of God, for “he that made Christ the Son of man, regenerates men to be the sons of God.”

As practical feeling is the proper result of sound faith, it becomes us to let no moment of reflection pass by without improvement in the contemplation of Divine truth. The fulness of time has brought before us a complete view of man’s salvation, let us inquire, whether our hearts have freely responded to such happy tidings? If they have, the convinced Christian will have great cause for rejoicing. No partial view of his religion will have produced a partial judgment of his condition, not relying on any personal call, he will still consider himself personally interested in an assurance of hope, resting on the firm basis of an assurance of faith.

As we rise by degrees through almost every situation of human life, so by degrees we rise from the humbling necessities of mortality to the triumphant glories of a better world. The progress, which at first is pleasant, at last is delightful. How exquisite the gradations of a Christian mind advancing daily in spiritual strength, daily rising from one eminence to another, and experiencing those sweet consolations, the happy consequences of an increase in religious knowledge! The Christian is springing upwards. At the first step he finds the fulness of comfort, that enviable state of mind, which may be felt, but cannot be described. After a hard day of conflict and of sorrow, he finds himself resting at ease on the bosom of a friend. But why represent in figure, what is best known in substance? The Spirit of God, which has guarded his footsteps in every movement of his variegated life, sheds a benignant glow around his heart, which thrills in every vein. Peace I leave with you—is the glad voice he hears—My peace I give unto you. From hence he springs forward again, in the fulness of duty, to perfect his day of holiness. This is the second step of advance in his growth of Christian grace. Here he calls to mind the wonderful arrangement of the Almighty, in the accomplishment of this day of salvation. The fulness of God’s mercy is manifested in the inscrutable, but sufficient dispensation of his Son. If we have received of his bounty, let us return of our fulness. But fulness of comfort, and even fulness of duty, however valuable in their separate stations, will both be incomplete, without that fulness of thanksgiving and joy, which is the third gradation of piety on this day of the Lord.

If this be a time of seasonable joyfulness, let it be on the best principles of spiritual enjoyment; connecting the passing scenes of a transitory life with the reversion of a goodly heritage, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

The meditating Christian will suffer no reflection to pass by him without improvement. Is this the day of Christ’s nativity? So is every day that rises upon the Christian’s soul. So is every day that finds him on his knees before this shrine. Such convictions are ever new—they spring daily like the tender grass, fragrant as the field which the Lord hath blessed.

Help us then, blessed Lord, so to live through this day of God, that we may indeed rejoice when the day-spring from on high shall visit us!

A double nativity; of our own, and of Christ.

“Unto Us a child is born, unto us a son is given”— the prophet Isaiah was as confident that the child whose high character he describes, (Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace,) would appear in a due season, as if he then stood before his presence. The angels, in a vision, announce the coming of this child on the very day of his nativity, to a company of unpretending shepherds, with an appropriation which cannot be mistaken. The prophet said, “Unto us a child is born;” the angel, “unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ, the Lord’.” The connection is extraordinary and important. The language of the angel is the interpreter of the voice of prophecy. He not only points out the child, but the end and design of that child’s appearance in the world. It is specifically declared that the nativity of Christ was intended to fulfill a peculiar purpose, and that the beneficial influence of it should extend to the remotest regions, and the most distant people. Unto you, he says, is born a Saviour; but lest the shepherds should suppose the revelation to be confined to themselves, he dispels their personal fears with this reviving and general promise:—,” I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people;” that is, according to the best Scripture interpretation, to all who shall beneficially to themselves lay hold on the good tidings o salvation through the means of faith.

The history of Christianity takes this direction from the first:—” Children of the stock of Abraham,” said St. Paul, “and whosoever among you feareth God, unto you is the word of this salvation sent.  But soon does he make the fatal distinction, “Seeing ye put the word of God from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, Lo! we turn to the Gentiles.” The Gentiles happily received the rejected doctrine of the cross: but “now” says the same Apostle to the Ephesians, “in Christ Jesus, ye who sometimes were far off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”

From these considerations, it is clear that this salvation is personal, and therefore interesting: for the Lord Christ came not for his own sake into this miserable world, but that he might succour and save us. Let us then diligently endeavour to believe the angel, that we may enjoy the benefit of his coming. This is the language of Scripture in every part: believe and ye shall be saved; so believe as to make the nativity of Christ your own; and so live as to show that your whole conversation flows from your pure and lively faith: for the Scripture says, “The just shall live by faith.” This is the very ground of Christianity in its purest interpretation; and the end of all Christian knowledge is this.

The object of our present contemplation is that of a double nativity, that of our own, and of Christ; and that, in connection with each other.

The birth of our Lord, however it was received on earth, was the cause of great rejoicing in heaven. This joy is so great in this celestial region, that it cannot be contained, but bursts forth in splendour and in glory, that it may be communicated to the world. In contemplating this revelation we are ready to say, “Had I been one of the shepherds, with what devotion would I have received this holy child! With how much diligence would I have served him! But this presumption is soon checked by the self inquiry, do I duly serve him now? Is my devotion as ardent, and my love as pure, as I imagine it would have been then ?”—We see Christ now walking before us in the person of the poor and miserable. Do we now relieve him? We see his glory spreading over all the world, and the Gospel of his kingdom taking possession of the heart, and yet we are neither affected by the magnificence, nor the interest of the sight; neither do we turn our eyes on our own wants, and on that spiritual part which we are called upon to bear in it.:

Again, we see our Lord in the manger, and in as lowly a mansion as ever received any of the human race. Had I been there this should not have been the case. But, alas! like the three disciples on the mount of transfiguration, we wist not what we say. Let us turn aside from all such vain inquiries, and busy ourselves in those only which will make us wise unto salvation.

Our Lord in his cradle was like a treasure hidden in the earth. Search for it, and find it; open it, and possess it; and then it becomes profitable and precious. Such is this nativity. Use it as the pleasure of the Lord designed it; reflect upon it with all its consequences; otherwise it will be no comfort and advantage—it will be no nativity to us. For if we know no more than the bare history of our Saviour’s birth, and the circumstances which occurred at it—that he was born poor and needy—that he was visited in a stable as a forlorn and helpless infant, and lay reposing in a manger, we might have sympathized with him as a fellow-sufferer, but we could not have profited from this more than from any other history. If we looked upon him as no more than one of ourselves, one born in the ordinary course of human life, and returning again to the dust like other men, what rejoicing could we have had on this day of his nativity? No—look further :—” God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself.” And if he was so at his crucifixion, he was not less so on the day of his nativity. Look at the host of heaven announcing the event; hear the song of glad tidings harmoniously descending from the clouds; and, then, if the Gospel be true, not all the arguments of the most insidious skeptic can wrest this overwhelming truth from the record of the Almighty. How, then, it becomes us to inquire, should we use the day of his nativity, whom we acknowledge as the Saviour, the Messiah, “Him that should come, and that we look not for another?” even as I have already said, that if we believe that he was born for us, according to the declaration of the angel that his nativity is ours.

To complete our meditation, we must bring it home to ourselves, by reflecting deeply on the nature of our own nativity. And here we must refer to the same records which have so clearly delineated the purity of our Saviour’s birth, and his celestial origin, before we can duly appreciate our own. Adam’s sin, and man’s degeneracy are too well known to make us strangers to the depravity of our nature. Death was the mark of punishment assigned to the commission of the original sin of man: and the continuance of death in the world, affords decisive evidence both of the sin and the recompense. But though temporal death is unavoidable by the sons of men, as partakers of the fallen nature of their parents, a restoration to spiritual life is graciously permitted to all those who are capable of receiving such a blessing, by means of the merits and mediation of him, who, mercifully and specifically appeared as the promised Saviour of the world. “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”

The best men under the first covenant, as well as under the second, have confessed, with heavy hearts, the original corruption of the nature of man. “In sin has my mother conceived me,” is a weight about the neck of every man born into the world; and the longer he lives, the stronger is the evidence. Our nativity, therefore, has but a melancholy presage: and “if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us ‘;” the Gospel truth, as well as the truth of our declaration. This will admit of self-evident proof. It is not because a man may say, “I am possessed of rational faculties, and an understanding heart, therefore I will not sin.” Experience is against him. God “destroys the wisdom of the wise, and brings to nothing the understanding of the prudent,” that no flesh should glory in his presence. Men of all learning and of all knowledge have sinned, and come short of the glory of God, as well as those who have had few opportunities of adding to their original stock of attainments. Here then we are all equal, and all bowing before the equitable throne of God. And here should we all have perished, if the wisdom of God had not been wiser than men, and found out for us a nativity not our own. “Christ was made sin, or a sin-offering for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. To deliver us from the effects of our natural nativity, God sent another nativity, which behoves us to be without spot or blemish, that it might make this unclean and sinful nativity pure.

This is that holy nativity, both of our own and of Christ, which we are called upon to celebrate on the anniversary of our Saviour’s birth. Happy is the man that can celebrate his spiritual birth on the same occasion. “If ye shall keep these,” says Luther, “then both the holy nativity of Christ shall be a help and comfort unto you, and also, ye shall be spiritual children of his mother, as Christ Jesus is her child according to the flesh.” In this discussion we have faith in its purest light, and we have love, the effects of faith, in its most brilliant colours.

This is then that most excellent provision which the ‘Lord hath provided for us; but of which none can experience the benefit, but those who accept it through faith. No man can easily believe this, but he that feeleth what his own nativity is; for he that feeleth not his own misery, can have no feeling for the nativity of Christ. If we are truly sensible of the original taint of sin, of our actual guilt and incessant propensity to evil, we shall then see the necessity of a restoration through the grace of God to that image of the Almighty in which man was first created.

This is an enviable situation for any Christian to attain: and the reverse of it, as we value the safety of our souls, carefully to be avoided. For if we feel not the weight of our sins, neither as yet feel the bitterness of them, the history of our Lord’s birth slides coldly to the heart—we may hear it, indeed, but it makes no impression; it never enters into our understanding, nor excites that warm feeling of danger which may rouse our attention, and, by divine grace, rescue us from a precipice, only one degree remote from everlasting ruin. If we really did believe that this nativity was for our advantage, we should fear neither sin nor death; and, therefore, to make this festival effectual to all its holy purposes, a faithful Christian must doubt nothing, that this nativity is as well his, as it is the Lord Christ’s. Let the heart have some confidence in this persuasion, otherwise it will be in a most evil case. This was signified by the angel, when he said, unto you he is born; as if he had said, whatever he is, or possesses to bestow, it is yours. He is your Saviour, and is able to deliver you from the wrath to come, and is truly your ” wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.

When we have meditated on a subject suitable, not to one day, but to every day of every Christian’s life, piously and religiously, are we not well assured that the angel has, indeed, brought us tidings of great joy; as it cannot but be that our hearts must be glad, when we enjoy this Saviour as our own?

When we are bent down with misery and sin, when we are oppressed with calamity and distress, and there remains no comfort or assistance within us, or without us, in a world of trouble; when the heavy heart cannot lift up itself above its burden, the situation is indeed deplorable and sad:—” I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me; refuge failed me, no man cared for my soul’:”—but when we conceive a trust which rises above the world, and are satisfied that Christ’s nativity is ours, and that the benefit of his coming reaches to us, under every circumstance of life or death, then the Sun of Righteousness rises upon the soul, and all creation is gladdened by its beams:—” This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it’!”

See also:The Wisdom and Love of God as Shown by His Creation by Noah Webster

Source: Reflections adapted to the holy seasons of the Christian and ecclesiastical year: By John Brewster (1834)

Burden Story Looking Back, by Florence (Burden) Harmon 1919-2013

Grandma, Grandpa, Gary (youngest son), Cindy and Christy (grand-daughters)

Grandma, Grandpa, Gary (youngest son), Cindy and Christy (grand-daughters)

In loving memory of my dear sweet grandmother Florence L. (Burden) Harmon who passed away from us yesterday (14 Nov 2013) to go away to meet the Lord Jesus; who she spent her whole life serving, and preparing for this day. A true Christian “Peace Maker” if I have ever known one. She lived her whole life preparing for the day she would be called away by the Lord Jesus. God bless her, and keep her, as she now joins grandpa, her parents, siblings, and extended family with the Lord she so loved, somewhere beyond the sunset.

Founding Father and Educator Benjamin Rush in a letter written to John Adams concerning a visit to his family homestead. This is an excerpt containing what Rush said about his visit to the family cemetery, while there. I know the feeling behind his sentiment from doing genealogy, our family history thinking of the things my ancestors faced and overcame, and visiting the graves of my ancestors. It gives you a feeling of inferiority and awe for their stamina, strength, vision and relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father.

(Excerpt)

In walking over the grave-yard, I met with a head-stone, with the following inscription:

“In memory of James Rush, who departed this life March 16th, 1727, aged forty-eight years.

“I’ve tried the strength of death, at length.

And here lie under ground,
But I shall rise, above the skies,
When the last trump shall sound.”

This James Rush was my grandfather. My son, the physician, was named after him. I have often heard him spoken of as a strong-minded man, and uncommonly ingenious in his business, which was that of gunsmith. The farm still bears marks of his boring machine. My father inherited both his trade and his farm. While standing near his grave, and recollecting how much of my kindred dust surrounded it, my thoughts became confused, and it was some time before I could arrange them. Had any or all of my ancestors appeared before me, in their homespun or working dresses, (for they were all farmers or mechanics), they would probably have looked at one another, and said, ‘What means that gentleman by thus intruding upon us?’

“Dear and venerable friends! be not offended at me. I inherit your blood, and I bear the name of most of you. I come here to claim affinity with you, and to do homage to your Christian and moral virtues. It is true, my dress indicates that I move in a different sphere from that in which you have passed through life; but I have acquired and received nothing from the world which I prize so highly as the religious principles which I inherited from you, and I possess nothing that I value so much as the Innocence and purity of your characters.” Benjamin Rush; Philadelphia, July 13th 1812

(End Excerpt)

Burden Story Looking Back, by Florence (Burden) Harmon, assisted by Shirley Harmon. Contributors of information, Andrew William “Butch” Burden, my [Florence] father: His cousin, Agnes Deemer Neiss, His Nephew, Otis Burden.

My grandparents, Daniel Webster Burden and Susan Christine (Deemer) Burden, homesteaded a one-hundred sixty acre farm in the Land Run of 1891, one mile north and one-quarter east from Avery, Okla., of which the SW 40 is still in the family, owned by my sister, Mrs. Paul (Naomi Ruth) Bell of Cushing. The remaining one hundred twenty acres is owned by Herman Kluck. (edit, now back in the family) In the same land run, my great grandparents, Andrew William Deemer and his wife, Elizabeth (Metz) Deemer, homesteaded a farm at the ages of 61 and 59 respectively, in the Soonerville area, which now belongs to John and JoAnn Cargill. Andrew W. Deemer was Holland “Dutch” from Rochester, Pennsylvania, where his family was in their glass making business. Elizabeth (Metz) Deemer came from Germany as a child of (9) years. In 1864, the Deemer family moved to Johnson County Missouri, where they resided until participating in the Land Run. They had three sons; Henry, Wesley, and Jacob: six daughters, Susan Christine. Sarah, Mary, Caroline, Elizabeth and Margaret. Great-grandfather Deemer was a farmer and a professional carpenter. In 1902, they moved to Kansas, where Mrs. Deemer died shortly after, and Mr Deemer returned to Oklahoma, to live in Yale with a granddaughter, Nora Burden, until his death in 1918. Nora Burden was a dressmaker, milliner, nurse and restauranteur in Yale for many years. Great-grandfather Deemer was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic on the North side during the Civil War. Agnes Deemer Neiss, who contributed to the article, now resides in the Colonial Plaza Nursing Center of Cushing, Okla. She was the daughter of Jacob Metz Deemer, who married Dorsa Wheeler of the Cushing area, the daughter of Phillip and Sarah Emma Wheeler. Mrs. Neiss has a brother, Dennis Deemer, who now resides with a son in Phoenix, Ariz. [Burden’s originated in Scotland, Harmon’s England]

Daniel W. Burden had three brothers; John Burden of Yale, who married Susan’s sister, Margaret. Their children were Nora, Alice, Bill and a daughter who died in childbirth. The other brothers were; Charlie Burden and Freeman ‘Burden, of which not too much is known by us, and one sister, called Lude. William Burden had a brother, Eldredge, who moved to Indiana, he became a judge. Daniel’s father, William Burden, married a German woman named, Jane Utz. William Burden raised hogs in Missouri and while feeding and watching them eat, was shot by snipers during the Civil War. John, his son, then took his Dad’s Uniform and went to fight in his place.

Daniel and Susan Burden had six sons. Alfred, father of Otis Burden, Benjamin, Andrew William (Butch), Ralph, an unnamed infant who died at birth, and Raymond, one daughter, Florence. Alfred Burden as a young man, hauled lumber with a team of oxen, from Davenport, Okla. to Cushing for resale. The family resided , on the Burden Homestead until 1904, when Uncle Alfred and Grandfather Burden bought a 640 acre ranch, approximately three miles from Depew, Okla. They rented out the homestead and moved to the ranch with all the family, except Alfred who had married Mary Rice of the Avery Community and as newlyweds, moved to Colorado and lived for awhile.

Grandfather Burden bought and raised cattle on the ranch,  My father, A.W.Burden, recalls seeing a zebra graze near the cattle for two days. He never knew where it came from or where it went. He also saw a bald eagle eating a rabbit among the timber on the ranch. He walked near the eagle, scaring it, and it flew very high and disappeared. They resided at the ranch until statehood in 1907, then sold out, and moved back to the Homestead near Avery.

Grandfather, Daniel Burden, hauled freight, to and from Guthrie, for early Cushing stores, namely Carpenters and Carvers. When buying groceries and supplies for their family, they took a two day trip to Guthrie, once each month. They bought their staples in large containers, parched and ground their own coffee. My father said, “That was real coffee.” Grandfather Burden later worked for Jacob Puckett. He also served as one of the early day Sheriffs. Their first dwelling on the Homestead, was a tent, then they built a sod house, using the tent to cover it. Later, they built a log house. While living in the log house, young Benjamin kept having the stomach ache, and told his Mother, “Ma, wes go back home, dis ole log house gives me de belwy ache.” Billy Hockemyer built the first frame house. The present house was Grandpa’s and Grandma’s last home. Grandpa Burden died in 1924, at the age of 66 years. Grandma died in 1940, at the age of 81 years. She was blind with cataracts for twelve years before her death. She was a very independent person. After going blind, she used a cane to go through the house by herself. They also had a rope from the back door to the outdoor toilet, that enabled her to go and come without help. Some of the things I remember most about Grandma, before she went totally blind, she used to make delicious biscuits (double dough type), when we grandchildren would stay the night with her; also she would tell us stories at night, often time, old ghost tales, some of which she said were supposed to be true. She used to sit in her rocker and rock slowly and sing old hymns, “What a Friend”, “Only Trust Him” and others. Uncle Alfred was a very enterprising young man, always on the lookout for opportunity, when the railroad came through and Mound city was founded, later called Avery, he ran the Livery barn and operated the first taxi service. His father-in-law, Frank Rice, was the first postmaster of Mound city. Mr. Rice and G. A. Robertson were two of the earliest businessmen to settle in Mound City, moving from Baker Village because of the railroad. After living in Avery for a time, Mr. Rice moved to a farm, one half mile north of Avery, in 1910, adding a two story portion to the existing house. (Edit: This is the house I grew up in, first story was built in 1896), Uncle Alfred’s son Otis and wife, Olive, live just north of the Summit Ridge Shopping center in Cushing. Alfred and Mary Burden had four sons, Olan, deceased; Otis of Cushing; George, of California; and Francis, who died in infancy; also one daughter, Rose Mary, who died at birth. Alfred Burden died in 1967 at the age of 85 years. Mary (Rice) Burden, died in 1972, at the age of 90 years. They were residing in Cushing at the time of their death,

Mamie Florence Burden, married Tom Cunningham of Yale, where he was a Barber. He was killed very early in their marriage and there were no children. Aunt Florence lived in Yale for several years before moving to Sapulpa, where she died in 1964, at the age of 78 years. A special treat in the summertime was when my Cousin Thelma and I got to visit her and Aunt Nora in Yale.

Benjamin Burden, married Vivian Larkins; a niece of Maude Rider, an early resident of Avery. Uncle Ben passed away in 1967, at the age of 73 years, while living in Sapulpa. They had one son, by adoption, Thomas. He and family live in Sapulpa. Aunt Vivian still lives in Sapulpa.

Ralph Burden, married Lena Smith, daughter of Henry Smith, a farmer of the Cushing area. Uncle Ralph served in WWI. Their children; Thelma, deceased; Raymond, of Jenks, Okla.; Dorothy, of Sapulpa; Henry, deceased; and Donna Sue, also of Sapulpa. Aunt Lena passed away in 1951, at the age of 52 years. Uncle Ralph died in 1967, at the age of 73 years. They lived in Sapulpa at the time of their deaths.

Raymond Burden married Jewel Gentry. Uncle Ray died in 1974, at the age of 76 years. Jewel is also deceased, they lived in Sapulpa at time of death. They had two children; Raymond, of Lindsey, and Idora Sue, of Sapulpa. Of all Daniel’s and Susan’s children, only my father, A. W. Burden is living.

Grandpa Andrew "Butch" Burden

Grandpa Andrew “Butch” Burden

When my father and some of his brothers were still single, they were at a dance in Avery. They were preparing to leave and my father (Andrew “Butch” Burden) went back inside for one brother, and a man (edit: mans name has been xx’ed out I cannot read it) being drunk, jumped him and cut his left side open, piercing his lower left lung. After recovering, while still single he worked on several ranches; the Butcher Ranch near Bartlesville, and the Fowler Brothers Ranch near Ralston, Okla. to name a couple. My Dad was quite a cowboy; riding broncs, breaking horses and riding in rodeos. He was working for his brother, Alfred near Shamrock, Okla. when he met my mother, Nellie Leona Ricks, daughter of John Henry and Lula Lamar (Crawford) Ricks, whom he later married at the Creek County Courthouse, in Sapulpa, Okla. on February 12, 1919. [Ricks originated in England, Crawford Scotland] My father was born May 3, 1891 in Holden, Mo. and my Mother [Nellie Leona (Ricks) Burden] was born March 26, 1903 in Powhatan County, Arkansas. She died October 24, 1976, at the age 73 years. After their marriage, they moved one mile west of Shamrock, where my brother and I were born. In 1922, they moved into a tent on my Grandparent’s Homestead. I was born in December, 1919 and my brother, Elvin Andrew was born in October, 1921. He married a Cushing girl Georgia Lou Campbell. They have three children; Ronald, of Davenport, Okla., where he works for an Uncle, Mr. Forbes, in the bank; Richard and Marilyn, both of the Tulsa area. Elvin and Georgia Lou live in Tulsa, where he has worked at W. C. Norris Co., for almost 30 years. Later, my parents moved to the SW 40, where they lived when my brother Merle Edward was born, February, 1924. He was killed on the Railroad track, which ran through the property, In November, 1925, while trying to follow my father, who was in the wagon, taking a load of cotton to Avery. Later, my sister Irma Elva, was born, August, 1927, and she later died of diphtheria, January, 1929. Later, my parents moved several while farming for others. While living on the McMurray farm, north of Stroud, my sister, Naomi Ruth, was born in January, 1936. She married Paul D. Bell, son of Roland R. and Mamie Bell, who operated the New Method Cleaners in Cushing for several years. Earl Edward Bell, who worked for Roland Bell, at the cleaners, was residing in Tulsa, as a manager of the Picadilly Cafeteria a few years ago. He was kidnapped and murdered, following a robbery, by a former employee. Paul D. Bell now works at the VoTech School in Drumright as an instructor of Key Punch and Data Processing. Naomi Ruth and Paul have ‘ one son, Paul Eugene, who lives on his Mother’s part of the Burden farm, with his wife, Terri (Johnson) Bell and two children, Brena, a girl, and their five month old baby boy, Paul Edward Bell. Paul Eugene works at the Cushing Fire Dept. John Henry Ricks parents were Samuel W. Ricks and Priscilla Payne.

Grandma Nellie (Ricks) Burden and Grandpa Butch Burden

Grandma Nellie (Ricks) Burden and Grandpa Butch Burden

My parents, A. W. and Nellie Burden, later moved into Stroud and lived there during the Depression Years. My father worked for Bob Terry, in the Blacksmith Shop. We later returned to the SW40 portion of the Burden Homestead, which later became my Father’s inheritance. During this time, they improved and added onto the house. My Mother loved to do carpenter work, in fact, she once told a neighbor, that she would rather do that, than eat when she was hungry, She was always finding more ways to improve their homes. They lived in Tulsa for several years, where they completely remodeled the home they bought . They also helped several of their grandchildren, with improvements on their homes. While living in Tulsa, they celebrated their golden Wedding Anniversary with an open house, for their old friends and neighbors, in their previous home on the Burden Homestead. This carpentry trait has passed on down the family to me and also my daughters.
At the age of 19 years, I married Vernon E. Harmon, on June 3, 1939, son of Alonzo L. (Peanuts) Harmon and Anna Eliza (Flessa) Harmon. We lived in the Cushing area for a few years, during which our first two children, Bobby Dale. and Shirley Ann were born. We later moved to Avery, to the Tom Coleman property, which we bought, and where our third child, Elberta Kay was born. We then moved to Grand Junction, Colo, and my parents also moved there. We lived there for two years, then returned to Avery, where our two older children attended Avery School for their first year. During this year of 1945, on the day Franklin D. Roosevelt died, a tornado struck Avery, blowing out all the west windows and ruining the roof of my parents home. We later moved to the Tulsa area and then into Tulsa where we lived for several years. When Vernon retired, we returned to Avery to make our home. Vernon did carpentry work for several years before becoming Maintenance Man of Tulsa’s Northland Shopping Center for thirteen years. Anna Eliza Flessa, daughter of Henry Edward Flessa and Christine Anna Ellis. Alonzo (Peanuts) parents were John Thomas Harmon and Lucetta Jane Yost. John Thomas was the son of Absalom Harmon who married the daughter of Captain George Donner, Elizabeth, who according to family history became pregnant just before the ill fated trip west, when the family took the turn at Hastings Cutoff, Absalom and Elizabeth stayed behind due to the complications of her pregnancy. It is not clear whether they returned immediately to Illinois or whether they stayed somewhere around the Fort Bridger area until after the birth of the baby, John Thomas Harmon.

Our son, Bob, married Judy Spires of Tulsa. They have one daughter, Robin, and live in Avery. Bob is employed with Wright’s Electric in Cushing, and Judy works at Dell Telephone. Our daughter, Kay married James Rogers, of Oologah, Okla. They have three children, Cindy, Christy, and Michael. They are making their home in Jennings, Okla. They operate a concrete finishing business in the Tulsa area. Our daughter Shirley married Robert J. R. Davis, they have two sons, Richard and Robert, they have a Heating and Air Conditioning business in the Tulsa area.

My Father A. W. “Butch” Burden (1891-1979) wrote a song about Avery’s early years and declining years.

We’ll sing a song of Avery,
She used to be a town.
But old Depression hit her,
And Avery’s falling down.

East side, West side,
All around the town,
It’s plain to see,
Old Avery’s falling down.

There’s Billy in the restaurant,
Allen in the store,
Business has been sagging much,
Since 1924.

Mary was the postmiss,
While Shorty tends the store,
And Emmett’s on the corner now,
No profits anymore.

Johnny was the banker,
But found it would not pay,
Bought a barn and filled it,
Full of barley, oats, and hay.

Harry runs the station,
Altho’ there’s few cars stop,
And when they do, Old Harry boy,
is Johnny-on-the-spot.

Happy Jack, the farmer,
A man of some renown,
Says, “When they all get moved,
He’s going to farm the town.”

Friends, now do you think it fair?
I do, altho’ not quite,
Except he leaves a little patch,
For our friend, Ernie Wright.

There won’t be any Avery,
There won’t be any lights,
And where will Cecil Ditto go,
To pass away the nights.

Goodbye, goodbye, old Avery,
You’re sinking, that is true,
We’ll get Hiram Long, to sing a song,
And we will bury you.

The people written about in this song were all deceased by 1979

My Father wishes to say, “He is now in a bigger business than ever before, that of trying to serve His Lord.” by Florence L. (Burden) Harmon

Update Nov 18th: One of the many Gospel songs my grandmother wrote.

I have so much, to thank you for, Dear Jesus.
I have so much to thank you for, Precious Lord.
You gave me eyes that I might see,
A chance to someday reign with Thee.
I have so much to thank you for, Precious Lord.

I have so much, to thank you for, Dear Jesus.
I have so much to thank you for, Precious Lord.
You gave me eyes that I might see,
A chance to someday be like Thee.
I have so much to thank you for, Precious Lord.
by Florence Lorene (Burden) Harmon

As a side note: One of the wonderful ways of the Lord. In all my years of growing up in Church, this was one of my very favorite songs. I never knew it was one of the songs written by my grandmother until her funeral today. She was always so humble and unassuming, always concerned with everyone’s welfare and hoping for the best. The one thing she wanted in life was for her children and grandchildren to serve and be saved by the grace of the Lord she loved and served so truly.

I remember when I started writing poetry a number of years ago, she was very pleased that her and her fathers gift for words was passed onto another generation in her grandchildren. She made a great many contributions to the church and God’s people. One of the many things in our lives where the Lord shows His workings. The minister (Rev. Ray Leniger) of the church I grew up in, my mother and her siblings grew up with Bro. Leniger and his siblings, as well as my brother and I growing up with Bro. Leniger’s children, all of us never knowing we were actually cousins until I did Bro. Leniger’s family tree a few years after he passed away. When I found out a few years ago that we were all cousins, Grandmother related to me how she had cared for Brother Leniger’s mother when she was sick with tuberculosis.  As evidenced by the words spoken and the speakers at her funeral today, she touched a great number of lives with her own. A great many other lives with the words and songs she contributed to the Body, never seeking credit or fame for herself.

Now that I look back, the Lord must have been in the last long talk we had a few weeks ago. It was about events taking place in my life, the Lord, thanking Him for His grace and goodness on our lives. How good He is, how much we love Him, and my personal desire to please Him. That’s the main thing she wished for her family was for them to have a love for the Lord and a wish to serve Him. I thank Him now for that talk we had, I will always remember it, I cannot think of anything better we could have talked about in our last long conversation. She and her prayers will be missed, may the Lord raise up another to continue on where she ended.

Thank you Lord, she will be missed. I think they wrote the Burden story in the 1970’s for the Perkins newspaper. Thank you Lord for the time we had together, looking for the day we’ll all be together again.

I asked my grandmother the last names of the people mentioned in the Song of Avery, their last names are as follows:

Hiram Long, Cecil Ditto, Ernie Wright,

the ones without last names are as follows,

Happy Jack,(I don’t know how it is spelled, it sounds like Mc-Que-in) the farmer.

Old Harry runs the station, (Crown)

Emmett’s on the corner now (Coleman),

Shorty tends the store, (Coleman, she wasn’t sure on this)

Mary was the postmiss, (Coleman, she wasn’t sure on this)

Allen in the store, (G. A. Robertson) (note: one of his brothers was Governor)

Billy in the restaurant, (Parker)

Johnny was the banker, (Murphy)

America! The Great Ship Of Freedom

Jesus Pilot MeOur mission, to restore the first principles that made this ship great, and to get back to the guiding hand of God in all we do! For with Him, we cannot fail, yet without Him,we are doomed to failure. Our Saviour Jesus is the Master of this ship, we should honor Him and address him for his wisdom and guidance in all we do! We must not fail in the task He has laid before us, for if we do, we will not only have failed Him, we will have failed every freedom loving person, who has ever lived and doomed the generations to come to the chains of bondage and oppression the world over, such as has never been before in it’s history! This ship is the last great hope for mankind, let us not fail her, her Master and crew, for if we do, the sea of humanity that we know and love, will sink to the depths of despair, when we have all, lost this, the last great hope for freedom, liberty, blessings and prosperity in the world today!

Our values, they are simple and they are clear. They can be found in the Bible, they can be found in places of worship, We once found them in every courthouse in America. The principles found in the Bible that this nation, this ship we call America, was founded on a short 235 years ago. The freedom to honor our Lord and Saviour in all things. The freedom to work and to prosper, to the best that lies within us. The liberty of the spirit and mind of man to seek the knowledge, wisdom and truth that is Him, and to share this with the world, as He has commanded us to, from the beginning of time. There is no worse oppression than that, over the mind and spirit of man, that keeps them from learning of our dear sweet and merciful Saviour, and keeps them in the void of darkness that once covered the whole earth.

Our vision, to once again restore this ship, this Republic, to the foundational principles, that she was launched with, when God fearing, Lord Jesus’ loving people, first came to America hoping for freedom, from the oppressive hand of man, that kept them from serving God in truth and in deed. That also kept them from the profits and fruits of their own hands, and put the fruits of those labors in the hands of tyrannical oppressors, that had produced nothing but grief, hardship, oppression and death.

While I do not have complete faith in the ship of state, I have complete faith in the God of heaven and the deep, faith in the crew, who with steady hands and upright hearts will help this ship weather the storm that is the Muslim menace, new world order and the tyranny of our times We will weather this storm my shipmates and we will come thru in the bright light of liberty and freedom that has brought us through thus far. God is with us, God is for us, when we are for Him, His son and His people. Let the bow ride high on the waves, the wind be in our sails and our Ships Master, the Lord of Creation will guide us and be with us through this time of darkness that has descended upon us and the face of the deep. God bless this ship that is the Spirit of America and God be with us all in these troubled times that have befallen us. We must get back to the principles that allowed the Lord to bless this ship and make it the great bastion of freedom and prosperity it once was.

Never has this Nation since the Civil War, come to a crossroads where the differences are so STARK and so MANY, between the right and the left in this great Nation we Patriots love. The directions so different in vision and ideology, as what we face today. At some point Compromise becomes Submission, I think we are at that point. Do we STAND with God, Freedom, and our Forefathers, or do we go the way of every Nation in the past. The way of oppression, government intrusion and slavery.

Where only a few, rule over the many, instead of the many keeping the few in check. God help us today, AND in these times, to STAND, STAND STRONG, and STAND RESOLUTE, in our RESOLVE to uphold the BANNER of GOD and FREEDOM passed down to us by our forefathers, in Jesus name, the Creator and Founder of Freedom and Liberty!

SIGNS OF THE TIMES by Jedidiah Morse: Pastor of the Congregational Church

“SIGNS OF THE TIMES” A Sermon by Jedidiah Morse: Pastor of the Congregational Church in Charlestown.

DANIEL xii. 4, 10.

BUT THOU, OH DANIEL, SHUT UP THE WORDS AND SEAL THE
BOOK, EVEN TO THE TIME OF THE END; MANY SHALL RUN
TO AND FRO, AND KNOWLEDGE SHALL BE INCREASED.

MANY SHALL BE PURIFIED AND MADE WHITE, AND TRIED;
BUT THE WICKED SHALL DO WICKEDLY; AND NONE OF THE
WICKED SHALL UNDERSTAND; BUT THE WISE SHALL UNDERSTAND.

Jedidiah Morse 1761-1826

Jedidiah Morse 1761-1826

OUR blessed Lord once addressed the Pharisees and Sadducees, in a way of keen reproof for their criminal inattention to events which were manifestly fulfilling most important prophecies, in the following language; “When it is evening, ye say, it will be fair weather; for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to-day; for the sky is red and lowering. Oh ye hypocrites, ye can – discern the face of the sky, but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” Daniel’s seventy weeks;[Dan.ix.24] were then nearly completed. The sceptre was departing from Judah; Elias had already come in the person of John Baptist, as the forerunner of the Messiah; the numerous prophecies relating to his character, doctrine, and miracles, were visibly fulfilling, and a general expectation of his coming prevailed over the world. Had these Pharisees and Sadducees taken due pains to acquaint themselves with these prophecies, and with the singular events, which were accomplishing them; had they been as attentive to these “signs of the times,” as to the signs of the weather, they might easily have perceived that these were the times of their expected Messiah, and that their nation was shortly to be given up to awful punishments for rejecting him.

“That, which hath been, is now; and that, which is to be, hath already been.”[Eccles. iii:15] “Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.”[Ch.i:10] Are there not many of the present generation of men, who resemble these ancient Pharisees and Sadducees? They can “discern the face of the sky;” they are wise to prognosticate the course of events with respect to political and commercial affairs; but they ”discern not the signs of the times;” they are criminally ignorant of the Scripture prophecies, which relate to the present period, and inattentive to events, which are remarkably fulfilling them. But this, however, should not surprise us; since the prophet has given us warning, that at this period “the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand.”

The verses of the text may with propriety be read in connection. The intervening passage is a digression, and may be included in a parenthesis. The import of the verses thus connected, is this; that “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased;” and that the effect of this increase of knowledge, in conjunction with other causes, will be, that “many shall be purified, and made white, and tried.”

The person, who addressed Daniel in this prophecy, and directed him to “shut up the words, and seal the book to the time of the end,” was none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. In the tenth chapter of this prophecy, [v. 5-6] a more particular account of this personage is given. “Then I lifted up mine eyes and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz; his body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in color to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude.” Any one, who will take the pains to compare this description with that, which St. John, in the Revelation i:13-20, gives of Jesus Christ, must be convinced, that the personage here described, who is the same, that addresses the prophet in the text, can be no other, than the Son of God. This might be farther confirmed by a comparison of Daniel xii. 5, 6, 7. with Rev. x. 2. 6. in both which places the personage, alluded to and described in the text, is ” represented, as setting his right foot on the sea, and his left upon the land, as Sovereign Lord of both elements.”

The prophecy under consideration, which was dictated by “him that is true,”[Rev. iii.7] describes events, which were to happen in the last times, or “in the time of the end,” and must of course remain obscure, till the events predicted shall be about to happen, or be actually passing in view of the then existing generation.

The prophecy in the text is then yet to be fulfilled; or, perhaps to speak more correctly, is fulfilling by the events of the present times. This appears from the prophecies connected with the text. The victories of Mahomet, or the rise and establishment of his dominion, and also the destruction of his power, seem plainly foretold and described in the five last verses of the chapter preceding the text.[Dan.xi.40-end “And at the time of the end,” i.e. of the prosperity of the Roman empire, “the king of the south,” meaning Mahomet, “shall push at him: and the king of the north,” the Turks from Scythia, “shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots and with horsemen, and with many ships, and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow, and pass over. He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape out of his hands, even Edom and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon.” It is remarkable, that while the Turks from the north overran Syria, Palestine, and the other neighboring countries, Edom, Moab, and Ammon escaped, and have never been conquered by any nation; and their inhabitants, the Arabs, to this day, receive an annual tribute from the Ottoman emperors, for the safe passage of their pilgrims and caravans to Mecca. “He,” meaning the Turkish emperors, continues the prophet, “shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt, and the Libyans and Ethiopians shall be at his steps.” These prophecies have all been literally fulfilled. Egypt, with her immense treasures, Lybia and Ethiopia, embracing the northern parts of Africa, fell under the dominion of the Turks, and so remain to this day.

Events, which are yet future, are foretold in the two following verses; “But tidings out of the east, and out of the north, shall trouble him; therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy and utterly to take away many. And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palaces between the seas in the glorious holy mountain;[Temple Mount] yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.” Mr. Mede supposes, that these “tidings from the east, and the north, which shall trouble the Turkish emperor, may be the return of Judah and Israel from the countries east and north of the holy land, as in these countries the greater numbers were dispersed, and remain to this day.” The return of the Jews to their own land, is expressly predicted by the prophet Ezekiel; [Chap, xxxix. 5 last verses] and to this event, and to the assistance, which shall be given them by the Christian nations east and north of the holy land, this prophecy may refer. Tidings of such assistance from these nations would doubtless trouble the Turkish government, who are in possession of the country, which is to be restored to the Jews.

But other writers on prophecy give the passage a different interpretation. Persia lies to the east, and Russia to the north, of the Turkish dominions. For centuries past, it is well known, that the Turkish emperors have been apprehensive of a junction of these two formidable powers, and have exerted all their policy to prevent it. It is known also, that there is a tradition current among the common people in Turkey, that their empire will one day be overthrown by the Russians; also that a mutual affection and confidence subsist between the Christians of the Greek church, vast numbers of whom are inhabitants of the Turkish empire, and the same denomination in Russia, where this is the established religion; and that the former consider the latter, as those “whom ancient prophecies mention, as designed by God for their avengers and deliverers in after ages.” [See Sir Paul Rycaut’s Account of the Greek Church, c, iii. p. 83. Published 1678] So the Greek church interprets the prophecy under consideration.

On the whole, it appears most probable from the language of this prophecy, that the Persians on the east and the Russians on the north will, at a period not far distant, unite in one grand effort against the Turkish empire to overthrow it; that the Turks will establish their camp and collect all their strength “between the seas of the glorious holy mountain,” i.e. in the land of Canaan, between the Mediterranean and Dead Seas, whence they will go forth with great fury against their combined foes, “to destroy, and utterly to make away many.” “Yet he,” i.e. the Turkish power, “shall come to his end, and none shall help him.” This will complete the ruin of the Mahometan power, or the eastern antichrist. The overthrow of the western antichrist, which is also predicted in this chapter, will happen about the same time.

“And at that time,” says the prophet in the chapter, which contains our text; that is, at the time when the great events of which we have spoken, shall be passing; when the antichrists of the east and the west shall be falling (for they are to fall, agreeably to the prophecy, nearly at the same time) by the means, which God hath ordained for that purpose; “at that time, shall Michael stand up, the great Prince, which standeth for the children of thy people, and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was, since there was a nation, even to that same time.” “And at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book;” that is, Israel, God’s chosen heritage, who shall have been preserved till this time a distinct people in all the nations, among which they are dispersed, as entirely so, as if their names were registered in a book, shall now be delivered, collected and established in great peace and prosperity in the holy land. The prophets, and after them our Lord, and his apostle John in the Revelation, all represent the time of the conversion of the Jews, and their return to the holy land, as a time of great trouble.

After these and the contemporary events, which we are led from the prophecies to expect, shall have happened, then will follow, how soon after we know not, the general resurrection of the dead, and the final judgment, to which the following verses undoubtedly refer; “And many of them, that sleep in the dust of the earth (many being here put for all [Rom. v. 15]) shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise, shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars forever and ever.”

The Lord Jesus Christ, by his Spirit, having dictated to his holy and beloved prophet the whole series of grand events, which were to happen from the time these prophecies were penned, to the complete establishment of Christ’s kingdom on earth, and even to the end of time, directs Daniel to close his sacred records, which would remain obscure, and but partially understood, “till the time of the end,” till the events predicted should be actually happening in view of the world. Then many will be running to and fro through the earth, and knowledge will be increased. And as these times will be full of trouble, such as the world at no former period ever witnessed; and also times of increased light and knowledge; both will conspire to purify the souls of good men, who shall have understanding in the times. “Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried, and the wise shall understand; but the wicked shall do wickedly, and shall not understand;” they shall be given up to blindness and obstinacy of heart, because they will persist in their wickedness, against all the light and evidence, which shall surround them, and they shall have nothing to support them, under the trials, which shall befall them in that awful period. .

Such I conceive to be the meaning of the text. In fixing it, I have consulted the best helps within my reach. I have been thus particular in bringing into view and explaining the prophecies, immediately connected with the text, for the purpose of ascertaining, as far as practicable, the time, when we are to expect the events, which it predicts. If our interpretation be correct, the events, which are to fulfill this prophecy, are near at hand, or they may be even now passing in view of the present generation. In the sequel of this discourse therefore I propose,

I. To exhibit evidence to shew, that the prophecy in the text has not yet received its ultimate and highest accomplishment, but is probably fulfilling by the events of the present time.

II. To show what effects we are to expect will follow these events.

III. To apply the subject.

I. I am to exhibit evidence to show, that the prophecy in the text has not yet received its ultimate and highest accomplishment, but is probably fulfilling by the events of the present time.

Some prophecies, says Lord Bacon, “are not fulfilled punctually, at once, but have a springing and germinant accomplishment throughout many ages, though the height, or fullness of them, may refer to someone age.”[Advancement of Learning. Book ii. in English] Precisely of this character, I conceive, is the prophecy now under consideration. To the period, when the Christian religion was first introduced and propagated in the world, the words of this prophecy may be literally applied, “Many ran to and fro through the earth, and knowledge was increased.” And “many were purified and made white, and tried,” by cruel persecutions. “The wicked” then “did wickedly, and none of the wicked understood” the signs of the times; “but the wise did understand.”

Wonderful was the revolution effected in the world by the introduction of the Christian religion. The preparations made for this event, by the providence of God, corresponded with its magnitude. The Roman Empire embraced almost the whole world, and its inhabitants universally spoke the Greek or Roman language. These were the languages of their courts, of their laws, of their priests and learned men, of their worship, and of their books generally. These circumstances, it is easy to conceive, were adapted wonderfully to facilitate the spread of the Gospel. The Jews, in consequence of their frequent captivities, were dispersed extensively among the surrounding nations; and, having carried with them a knowledge of the true God, prepared the way for the conversion of those nations. The Hebrew Scriptures had been translated into the Greek language, and were thus prepared to be dispersed and read in due time among that extensive portion of the heathen nations, to which this language was vernacular.* See Note A.

About this time also the proselytes of the gate, as they were called, were greatly multiplied. These were persons from various parts of the world, who had renounced heathenism, acknowledged and worshipped the true God, but had not fully embraced Judaism;[See Jennings’ Jewish Antiquities, vol. i. p. 131] and thus, freed from the prejudices of both, were prepared to receive the new religion, which Christ came to establish. The first Gentile converts to Christianity were chiefly of this class of people. We may add, as another remarkable event preparatory to the spread of the Gospel, that previously to the advent of our Savior, philosophy and the arts were cultivated to a great extent, and advanced to a high degree of perfection. Thus the minds of men were refined and prepared to examine the evidence on which Christianity claimed to be believed; and, through the power of the Holy Ghost, to embrace, defend, and propagate its sublime and heavenly doctrines. The heathen nations moreover had become tired of their religion, and of their idol gods; they had ceased to consult their oracles, and to respect their priests, and sighed for a change.[Millar’s Hist, of Christianity, vol. i. p. 255]

These preparations being made by the providence of God, the expected Messiah made his appearance, and set up his kingdom in the world. His disciples, at first few in number and of no reputation or influence among men, soon increased to a multitude. Within less than forty years after the death of Christ, his gospel was preached, and by great numbers embraced, in all the celebrated cities and countries, and even in the remote provinces and villages, of Asia, Europe, and Africa, comprising the whole of the then known world. The Sun of Righteousness darted his genial beams in every direction over the earth. The heralds of the Savior, sent forth, “their sound into all the earth, and their words unto the end of the world.”[Rom.x.18] Before the generation, who were contemporary with our Lord, had “passed away,[Matt.xxiv.14,34] the Gospel was preached throughout the world, (i. e. through all the Roman empire, among gentiles as well as Jews,) for a witness unto all nations.”

Clement, a fellow laborer with the apostles, asserts, that “St. Paul taught the whole world righteousness, having preached both in the east and in the west, and traveled to the utmost bounds of the west.” It is believed by many, that he preached the gospel even in Britain. According to Justin Martyr, “there was no nation, no sort of men, whether Greeks or barbarians, no country, however rude or unpolished, where prayers and thanksgivings were not presented to the Father and Creator of all things, through the name of the crucified Jesus.” Lanctantius says, if “the Christian law is entertained from the rising of the sun, to the going down of the same, where every sex, age, nation, and country, does with one heart and soul worship God.” Irenaeus and Tertullian bear full testimony to the same facts. The latter,* after enumerating the principal portions of the world, where the gospel had been preached, concludes thus, “In all these places the name of Christ reigns, because he has now come, before whom the gates of all cities are set open, and none shut; before whom doors of brass fly open, and bars of iron are snapt asunder; that is, those hearts, once possessed by the devil, by faith in Christ are set open.”

The opening of the Christian era, and the first spread of the Gospel over the world, we may therefore consider as commencing the fulfillment of the prophecy under consideration. At this period “many ran to and fro through the earth, and knowledge was increased. Many were purified, and made white, and tried.”

It has received a “germinant accomplishment,” to use the words of Lord Bacon, in succeeding ages of the church; particularly during the three first centuries, and when Constantine ordered all the heathen temples to be destroyed, and established Christianity, as the religion of his empire, about the year 331. Also, and especially at the period of the Reformation, and the consequent revival and spread of the true religion, as well as of learning, philosophy, and the useful arts.

But considerations brought into view in the beginning of this discourse, and others of great weight, lead us to conclude that the highest and complete fulfillment of this prophecy is yet future; or perhaps we have entered on the period, in which it is to receive its full and ultimate accomplishment. Judging * from the course of events for the last half century, particularly of the last twenty years, we are constrained to believe that God in his providence has been, and is preparing the world for some grand revolution, some wonderful display of his sovereign and almighty power. Such a revolution is plainly foretold by the prophets; and from the language, which they use in describing it, as well as from the preparations, which are making to introduce it, we are left to infer that, though in many points it will resemble, yet it will on the whole far surpass, in magnitude and effect, that which took place at the opening of the Christian era.

Whether the world is again to be reduced to two languages and one grand empire, so far, as shall be necessary to free intercourse and the diffusion of useful knowledge among the various nations of the globe, cannot be foreseen. What God in his providence has once done for the accomplishment of one grand Revolution, he can and may do again, if necessary, to effect another of a similar kind and of greater magnitude. By a more extensive commercial intercourse among the nations; by wars, conquests, and revolutions; by raising up a modem Alexander, to subjugate a large portion of the world; by an increase and diffusion of knowledge, derived from travellers, and enterprises for discovery; especially by means of Missionaries, who are already scattered in every part of the world, and every day are increasing in number, and exploring some new region; not only learning the languages of the nations, but communicating the knowledge of their own; by all these and other means, which Divine providence may ordain, may not the English and French languages become to the world, what the Latin and Greek languages were before the Christian era? And may not the vast domains of some modern Alexander, become united with the dominions of some other great power, corresponding to the Roman Republic in the days of Alexander, and so the mass of mankind, be once more combined in one grand and universal empire.

As, by their peculiar situation, the Jews were formerly made subservient to the conversion of the Gentiles; so this remarkable people are to be used, according to prophecy, for the same end, at some future period. The conversion of the Jews, and their to return the Holy Land, will accomplish so many prophecies, in so public and signal a manner, as to confute and silence infidelity in every form. The attention of the whole world will be excited to this wonderful display of the mighty power of God, in fulfilling his word; and the effectual influence of his Holy Spirit, converting the nations, and bringing in “the fullness of the Gentiles,”[Rom.xi.25] will render genuine Christianity universally triumphant, [Note B.]

But it is time to direct your attention to events of the present day, which remarkably correspond with the prophecy under consideration, and appear to be fulfilling it in its highest ultimate intention. All, who have taken pains to acquaint themselves to any considerable extent with what has been passing in the world, particularly since the commencement of the American Revolution, and who duly consider the existing state of things, and the prospects of still greater changes, than any which have yet taken place, must be constrained to acknowledge, that it is now true, in a degree more remarkable than at any former period of the world, that many are “running to and fro in the earth, and that knowledge is increasing.” We now enter an immense field, over which we have time only to cast a rapid glance.

Men of enterprise and intelligence, moving in all directions, by land and sea, prompted by motives of gain, of literary curiosity, of fame; or by the refined and exalted motive of benevolence to the souls of men; are running to and fro, exploring every inhabited spot on the globe; publishing and circulating, in various languages and forms, accounts of their discoveries, and thus adding immensely to the stock of useful knowledge in all its branches. The details, which would abundantly illustrate and confirm the truth of what we have now asserted, would fill volumes, and will not be expected in a single discourse. We can only point your attention to a few prominent facts out of the multitudes, that crowd upon the mind.

First, as to the American Continent, “many are running to and fro” through this portion of the globe, “and knowledge is increased.” The northwestern and northeastern coasts of this extensive Continent, the only parts of the seacoast, before unknown, have been minutely surveyed, by skilful navigators, and an acquaintance formed, and commercial intercourse opened with the native tribes bordering upon them. These things have prepared the way for planting a number of English, Russian, and Danish colonies in regions, which, till within a few years, were classed under the head of “Unknown Lands.” These colonies, formed by Christian and civilized nations, (for different purposes indeed,) are doubtless designed by Providence, as so many stands, whence, in due time, will be diffused over those dark regions the light of science and religion. In aid of this desirable event, the interior of North America has been lately explored by enterprising travelers in different directions, from the waters of the Atlantic to the coasts of the Pacific Ocean; so that few portions of it, of any great extent, now remain unknown. [Note C.]

In like manner, the interior of South America has been extensively traversed by men of science, and a knowledge of the inhabitants, and of the situation and resources of the several countries, acquired. These discoveries, together with the revolutions and changes in government and property, which have happened, and which are still taking place in rapid progression, have already prepared the way, and are opening it still further and wider, for the heralds of the Savior to go forth into every corner of the Continent, where inhabitants are to be found, to proclaim the glad tidings of his Gospel. Multitudes of these heralds, taking up their cross, and putting their lives in their hands, have already spread themselves, in different stations, either among the heathen tribes, or in the frontier and destitute Christian settlements, over a great part of the Continent, from Greenland on the north, to Patagonia on the south.[Note.D] And multitudes more, we may reasonably hope, will shortly be added to them, when it is considered, that Missionary and Bible Societies are increasing beyond all former example, which of course must increase the means of supporting Missionaries and diffusing religious knowledge; and that the Lord, in a wonderful manner, is inclining the hearts of suitable men to engage in this self-denying service, and providing means for educating them for this purpose.[Note.E]

From the Western we direct your attention to the Eastern Continent. There too, in a still more remarkable manner, “Many are running to and fro, and knowledge is increased.” We behold scenes of amazing interest on that vast theater; scenes which are rapidly fulfilling this, as well as other prophecies of Scripture.

It is remarkable, that the doctrine of Mahomet was forged at Mecca, and the supremacy of the Pope established by a grant from Phocas, [Phocas was Byzantine Emperor from 602 to 610. He usurped the throne from the Emperor Maurice, and was himself overthrown by Heraclius after losing a civil war] in the very same year, that is, Anno Dom. 606. Hence it is inferred, that, as the eastern and western antichrists began their reign together, their expected overthrow will happen about the same time; and that time, according to the best interpretation of prophecy, is probably near at hand, even at the door. The overthrow of these gigantic powers, which will shake all nations by their fall, is to be speedily followed, according to prophecy, by the return of the Jews to the Holy Land; and this signal event by the conversion of the Gentiles; and thus “the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ.”[Rev. xi. 15.]

Preparatory to these tremendous and delightful events, and during their progress, as a part of the appropriate means of their accomplishment, “Many will be running to and fro through the earth, and knowledge will be increased.” Several of the prophecies, by different events, will be fulfilling at the same time. Accordingly we find that, while the Papal and Mahometan powers, assailed by wars, which are deluging in blood and desolating one country after another, are tottering to their final fall; and while the instruments, raised up and fitted by Divine providence to destroy these powers, are executing their bloody work, “Many are running to and fro, and knowledge is increased.” Voyages and enterprises for discovery by sea and land have been planned and executed to an uncommon extent, and with great success. The islands in every ocean have been visited; the coasts and harbors of every country on the globe have been surveyed. The vast interior regions of Africa, which a few years since were unknown to the civilized and Christian world, have been penetrated, in various directions, by adventurous and intelligent travellers, and are likely soon to be as well known, as other portions of the globe; and establishments are already formed, with prospects of extensive good effects, for diffusing among them a knowledge of the sciences, and of the arts of civilized life.[ Note F.]

In Asia, in ways still more remarkable, “many are running to and fro, and knowledge is increasing.” The Asiatic Society [Founded in 1784, by Sir William Jones, who was its brightest ornament] has effected wonders in the acquisition and diffusion of useful knowledge in that populous portion of the world. Travelers of great name and authority have visited some of the principal nations of Asia, and have added largely to the general stock of knowledge.

These discoveries, and the information, which in consequence of them has been acquired, relative to the character, languages, manners, customs, religion, government, and history, of the nations visited, have prepared the way for Missionaries of the cross. These self-denying friends of the Redeemer and of the souls of the heathen, filled with Christian zeal, are flocking in great numbers to this vast field of Missionary labor, which has long been whitening for harvest. From Great Britain, and her colonies, whose Missionary and Bible Societies, literary establishments, and other benevolent, richly endowed, and well directed Associations, have done more for the diffusion of Christian and other useful knowledge, than all the world beside; from Germany, Denmark, Holland, and we are happy now to add, from New England, have gone, and are going forth, a succession of Missionaries, who are spreading themselves in Europe and its islands, in North and South America, in the West Indies, in the islands of the Pacific Ocean, in Africa and its islands, in New Holland, in the thickly peopled islands in the Indian Ocean, in China, in Tartary, in Hindoostan, and in many other parts of Asia.* Many of these Missionaries, with almost incredible industry, perseverance, and success, are engaged in translating the Holy Scriptures, into the languages of the most numerous Pagan nations. Thousands, probably millions, of copies of the sacred volume, in these different languages, have already been printed and circulated among people, ignorant of the Gospel. Many have been the converts of these holy men of God, and among them not a few of the learned and influential men of these heathen nations, who, full of love to the Savior, and zeal for his cause, of thankfulness for the blessings they have received, and concern for the souls of their countrymen, have themselves become successful preachers and Missionaries of the cross, [See “The Star in the East,” a Discourse by Rev. Dr. Buchanan, reprinted in Philadelphia by Bradford; and in Boston by Monroe & Francis; a discourse, which should be read by every Christian.] And what is worthy of particular notice, a seed sown by one of the Apostles of our Lord in the heart of Asia, which has ever since been germinating, secluded from the eye of the Christian world, has been lately visited, and under the nurturing care of wise and faithful servants of Jesus Christ, is likely to prove an eminently fruitful branch of the Christian church, in a region desolate and barren in the fruits of righteousness. I allude to the Christians of St. Thomas, or as they are now called, the Syrian Christians, in Malayala, a sequestered region of Hindoostan. These Christians, More than 200,000 in number having 55 churches whose faith and worship resemble those of the Church of England, and who have among them ancient and authentic copies of the holy Scriptures, profess to have descended in regular succession from converts to the Christian faith, made by St. Thomas, one of the twelve Apostles of our Lord, who it is said here preached the Gospel, and suffered martyrdom.[Note H.] These Malayalan churches are connected with 215 other Christian churches in Mesopotamia and Syria, which are oppressed with difficulties and struggling for existence, [Panoplist vol. iii. P. 527] Measures have probably been adopted effectually to relieve these churches, to strengthen the things which remain and are ready to die, and to render them, as from their local and relative situation they may be rendered, subservient to the extensive propagation of the Gospel in the regions around them.

* A full account of these Missionaries, of their labors, sufferings, and success, is given in the reports of the London, Baptist, Edinburgh, United Brethren’s, and other Missionary Societies in Great Britain; compendious extracts of which may be found in the Panoplist and Missionary Magazine, and other works of the kind in the United States.

But I must forbear. The subject is vast and inexhaustible. The events of the present day seem to be adapted and designed, by the Providence of God, to prepare the world to receive the Gospel; and at the same time the appropriate means are preparing and in operation to an extent altogether unparalleled for diffusing the knowledge of its blessed truths to every creature under heaven. Thus we see that at the present period, “Many are running to and fro through the earth, and knowledge is increased.”

I have time only to glance very briefly over the second branch of discourse, which was,

II. TO show, what effects we are to expect from the events, which have been briefly described. “Many, (says the Prophet,) shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” Such are the events we are to look for, whenever the prophecy we have been considering shall be fulfilling. If we look back to the opening of the Christian era, to the time when the Apostles of our Lord first preached the Gospel in the world, we shall perceive with delight its astonishing effects upon the characters and conduct of men. In all, who enjoyed its benign influence, and embraced its divine truths, it produced amiable, holy, and heavenly dispositions. In the humble disciples of Jesus, every quality, which could adorn the human character, was to be found; and great, in the first ages of Christianity, was the multitude, of these children of God, scattered in different parts of the world. Still there were multitudes more, who persisted in doing wickedly, and did not understand the things, which belonged to their peace. .

Effects like these, but in magnitude and extent still greater, we are to look for, agreeably to prophecy, at the period of the other grand Revolution in the Christian church, of which we have spoken, and which is yet to come. If such effects begin to exist, at the present day, to a remarkable extent, they furnish evidence, that this prophecy is now fulfilling before our eyes.

The terms, “purified, made white, and tried,” when used by the Prophet to express these effects, plainly indicate that the period, when “many shall run to and fro through the earth, and knowledge shall be increased,” will be a period of great sufferings. And such a period we are forewarned by the Prophet to expect; “And there shall be a time,” (and this time is that, in which the prophecy under consideration will be accomplishing,) “and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that same time.”[Dan. xii. 1.] How many years this period of trouble will continue we know not. Judging from the present state of the world, we have probably entered upon it. Its darkest part is doubtless yet to come. For we are taught in the prophecies to expect that the world, which now lieth in wickedness, is one day to be punished with most awful judgments of Heaven. “Behold the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and he shall destroy the sinners out of it. For the stars of heaven, and the constellations thereof, shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine; and I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.” (Isaiah xiii. 9, 10, 11.) Also, Isa. xxvi. two last verses. “Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee; hide thyself, as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For behold, the Lord cometh out of his place, to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.”

While the Lord shall be thus executing his strange work, in punishing the nations for their wickedness, he will, at the same time, by new and uncommon means, be spreading his word, and the light of his Gospel, and increasing every species of useful knowledge; and will, by the instrumentality of this knowledge and these judgments, purify multitudes of people, who will hereafter be numbered among those, who will be arrayed in white, and will have come out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.[Rev. vii. 13, 14.]

Are not effects of the mixed nature, we have now described, every day produced, and coming to our knowledge from every part of the world? While the judgments of God are in the earth, are not some of the inhabitants in every part of the world learning righteousness?[Isaiah xxvi. 9.] Look at the tragedy, which is now acting on the theater of Europe, at which the world is gazing with astonishment; what are its effects? Are not multitudes purified by it, and made white, and tried? Is not God, in this manner, removing those obstacles to the progress of useful knowledge and the pure Gospel of Christ, which for ages have been accumulating in that region, where ignorance and superstition have prevailed to so great an extent among the people, and preparing the way for better times, and a better order of things? Amid these scenes we behold the Christian church remarkably preserved, awake to her true interests, and zealous to advance them; tried by various opposition, yet purified and made white by her sufferings; rising in glory, increasing daily in numbers, and extending her influence rapidly over the world. Thus the wrath of man is made to praise God, good is educed out of evil, order out of confusion. The church, during this dismal period, will resemble Israel in the land of Goshen, at the time when the darkness, which was felt, brooded over the Egyptians; her members will have light in all their dwellings, be shielded from the destroying angel under the wing of the Almighty. While the wicked, who will obstinately persist in doing wickedly, and who will not understand the prophecies, nor observe the signs of the times, nor regard the judgments of Heaven, will resemble the Egyptians, when under judicial darkness; the things, which belong to their peace, will be hidden from their eyes; they will be left to fill up the measure of their sins, and to ripen for some signal overthrow. “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, all that do wickedly, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root, nor branch. But unto you, that fear my name, shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings.[ Malachi iv. 1, 2.]

Such, as we have now exhibited, is the evidence, that the prophecy in the text has not yet received its highest and ultimate accomplishment, but is now receiving it in the events of the present time; and such are some of the effects, which we may expect to follow these events. The application of the subject remains.

The period of the world, in which we have our probationary existence, is an eventful period. The aspect of the times is portentous in an uncommon degree. Changes and revolutions, which affect not only the peace and prosperity, but the existence of nations, are continually announced to the public. Indeed we may now say, what was said more than twelve years ago, and with still more evidence to support its truth, than then existed, that, “Wonder has succeeded wonder for so long a period, and in such regular succession, that wonders have now become the ordinary course of events, “[*Dr. Dwight’s Sermon on 4th of July, 1798]

*On July 4th, 1798, Dwight delivered an address entitled, “The Duty of Americans, at the Present Crisis,” which analyzed the downside of the French Revolution and offered a lesson to America. Dwight declared:

“Where religion prevails…a nation cannot be made slaves, nor villains, nor atheists, nor beasts. To destroy us therefore, in this dreadful sense, our enemies must first destroy our Sabbath and seduce us from the house of God. Religion and liberty are the two great objects of defensive war. Conjoined, they united all the feelings and call forth all the energies of man….

Religion and liberty are the meat and the drink of the body politic. Withdraw one of them and it languishes, consumes, and dies. If indifference to either, at any time, becomes the prevailing character of a people, one half of their motives to vigorous defense is lost, and the hopes of their enemies are proportionally increased. Here, eminently, they are inseparable.

Without religion we may possibly retain the freedom of savages, bears, and wolves, but not the freedom of New England. If our religion were gone, our state of society would perish with it; and nothing would be left, which would be worth defending.”

My design in selecting the text, and my single object in the preceding discourse, has been to awaken the attention of my audience in general, and particularly that of the religious Society now assembled, to the “signs of the times.” If this object have been in any degree attained, by the facts and observations now presented before you, we shall the more readily perceive, what are our appropriate duties, and be more easily persuaded to discharge them.

If there be any reasonable foundation to believe, that the representation, we have given of the present state of the world is correct, it is surely high time for us to awake out of sleep, to fix our eyes on the great events, which are passing before us; to compare them attentively with the predictions of the inspired prophets, and then to act wisely for ourselves, for our families, for the church of God, for our country, and for our fellow men in general. The course, which wisdom dictates to us with reference to these several objects, is obvious. Our first care should be for ourselves, that our own peace be made with God; knowing that there is no safety in perilous, nor indeed in any times, but in his friendship and protection. Our next care should be for our families, which are a part of ourselves, that they be diligently and faithfully instructed and governed, and so far, as depends on us, prepared to meet and endure the trials, which await them. No pious parent, who loves his offspring, and discerns the aspect of the times, will be satisfied without doing all he can, to secure their salvation. After that we should be concerned for the church, the ark of God, in which all its true members will be safe, during this stormy period of the world. Her interests should be dear to us. For her prosperity we should continually pray. “For Zion’s sake, we should not hold our peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake, we should not rest, till the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof, as a lamp that burneth.” While we perceive a deluge of troubles about to overwhelm the world, we should lift up our warning voice, and do what we can to persuade all, over whom we have influence, to enter into the ark, that they may be safe. Love to that country also, which our offspring after us are, to inhabit, with such scenes of trouble in prospect, should excite in us deep solicitude, and prompt our fervent prayers for its reformation, its safety, and prosperity. We should feel a tender sympathy for a suffering world, and pray that the righteous God would in mercy cut short these days of his vengeance, and hasten the period of the Redeemer’s universal reign, when his will shall be done on earth, as it is done in heaven.

These duties wisdom prescribes to us all; and the peculiar aspect of the times, and the prospect before us, imperiously demand our attentive performance of them. The friends of the Redeemer, we have reason to expect, will discern these prophetic signs of the times, and be prompted by them to vigorous exertions in his cause; but the eyes of his enemies will be closed. “The wicked shall do wickedly, and shall not understand.” Infidels, and those, who harmonize with infidels in sentiment and practice, will not perceive what God is doing in the earth. While he is using them, as instruments in his hand, to accomplish his prophecies; intent on their own purposes, they will think they are prospered. “Whom God wills to destroy, he first permits to be infatuated.” The Apostle has given us warning that there will come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, where is the promise of his coming? For, since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue, as they were from the beginning of the creation.”[2 Peter iii. 3,4] If such characters should appear, and such language be heard, in these times, which bear so many marks of the “last days,” we shall not be surprised.

To the Christian Society now assembled, to pay their annual and united homage to God in his sanctuary, I now turn my address.

Fathers and Brethren. “The Society for propagating the Gospel among the Indians and others in North America,” is the first Institution of the kind established in America, and yet it is but of recent origin. It has been in operation but twenty three years. During this period, we have the satisfaction to believe that its exertions have been extensively useful, not only to the few remains of Indian tribes, still among us, but more especially to the destitute inhabitants of the eastern division of this Commonwealth, to which its attention has been hitherto principally directed. [For a particular historical account of the origin, proceedings, and present state, of this Society, see Appendix]

The grand design of this Society is sufficiently expressed by its name. This design, its members’ have endeavored, according to their means, to accomplish, by supporting Missionaries, aiding the settlement of Ministers, patronizing Schools, and distributing the holy Scriptures, and useful books of various kinds, in places where such aid seemed peculiarly important.” The funds of the Society, aided by liberal grants from the Legislature, for a course of years, and other donations of large amount, which delicacy forbids me more particularly to specify, have enabled the Society to do much in these ways, for the religious improvement of a large and very useful body of our necessitous fellow citizens. For a few of the last years, the Society has directed its attention, and a portion of its funds, to the destitute in several of the neighboring states.[To Rhode Island, Vermont, New York, and Canada] The field of usefulness is every day extending; and, were the funds of the Society much larger than they are, they could be employed to great advantage in meliorating the condition, and promoting the salvation, of the ignorant and suffering part of our fellow men.

Since the establishment of this Society, many others have been instituted for like purposes, in this, and in most of the other states; and yet there is ample scope for all their exertions, and for the employment of all their means. The increase of these Institutions, the liberality with which they are supported, and the zeal with which their pious and benevolent objects are pursued, and the success with which their labors are rewarded, augur well to our country, and to the cause of our Redeemer. Let the members of this parent Society, which has led the way in these benevolent and most useful establishments, be animated with increasing zeal in their labors of love to the souls of their fellow men, and still maintain the rank they sustain, and be an example in Christian zeal and fidelity, to other similar Institutions. Let love to God, and love to men, prompt and govern all our measures and exertions; so shall we manifest that we are among the “wise, who understand,” secure the liberal patronage of the friends of the Redeemer, and best accomplish the grand object of our Institution.

Particularly let the peculiar and serious aspect of the times, and the wonderful means, which are in operation in all parts of the world, to effect the same glorious object, which we have in view, inspire us with corresponding ardor to be co-workers with our fellow Christians, and with God, in alleviating the miseries, which have already come, and are fast thickening, upon our guilty world, and which are preparing the way for the millennial peace.

To our efforts let us join our prayers and say, “Arise, Oh Lord, let thy work appear before thy servants, and let the whole earth be filled with thy glory.” Let the united prayers of the multitudes of thy saints on earth come up before, thee, as incense, that the great voices may soon be heard in heaven, saying, “Alleluia, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever, Amen.”

NOTES

Note A.

ABOUT two hundred and seventy years before the birth of Christ, the Hebrew Scriptures were translated into the Greek language, and deposited in the famous Alexandrian Library, by Ptolemy Philadelphus, one of the kings of Egypt.* Here they remained neglected, till the time of our Savior. At this period this version was rescued from obscurity, and brought into use among all who spoke the Greek language, heathens as well as Jews. Our Savior and his Apostles all quoted this version, as did the primitive fathers. All the Greek churches used it, and the bible of the Latin churches, was a translation of it. The converted nations had the Scriptures translated into their language ‘ from this version, as the Illyrian, the Gothic, the Arabic, the Ethiopic, the Armenian, and the Syriac.

It is remarkable, that at the time when the Septuagint translation of the Scriptures was made, God had brought under the dominion of the Greeks, by the instrumentality of Alexander the Great, all the eastern nations of the world; and that they continued members of the Grecian Empire, at the time of our Savior, and during the period of the first propagation of the Gospel. “In this manner did God remarkably prepare the way for the preaching of the Gospel, which was then approaching, and facilitate the union of so many nations of different languages and manners into one society, and the same worship and doctrines, by the instrumentality of the purest, most copious, and correct language in the world, and which became common to all the countries, which were conquered by Alexander.”[ Rollin’s Ancient History, vol. vi.p. 79. Etheridge’s edition]

* Various fabulous and contradictory accounts of this translation have been given by Aristeat, and other authors. Those who wish to see a full and satisfactory view of this whole subject, may consult Pridcaux’s Connections of the Old and New Testament, part ii. chap. i. p. 28—64.

Note B.

The late movements among the Jews, particularly the convocation of the Grand Sanhedrim at Paris by Bonaparte, This Assembly consisted of 111 members. (July 15th, 1806,) may be considered as distant indications that the period of their dispersion is drawing to a close, and that a way. preparing for their return to the holy land. In remarking on this extraordinary assembly and its designs, it has been said, “The Deputies from the Dutch Jews and those from Frankfort on the Main, have been admitted into the Sanhedrim of France and Italy, and have declared their determination to adhere to its decisions. It will doubtless be the policy of Bonaparte, to attach to his person and government, the whole body of this dispersed, and enterprising people, and to avail himself of their services in promoting his ambitious views. The ready entrance, which they obtain into every country of Europe, makes them peculiarly fit instruments for his purposes.”[Christian Observer, vol vi. p. 405.] What effects are to follow from this meeting of the Grand Sanhedrim, and in what ways it may tend to effect the return of this scattered people to the country of their ancestors, cannot be foreseen.

This extraordinary people, by a standing miracle, have been preserved for nearly 1800 years, distinct from all the nations among which they have been dispersed. By means of their holy scriptures they have maintained a general uniformity in their religious faith, and a knowledge of their original language, in which they can readily converse, and maintain intercourse with each other. The meeting and transactions of this Grand Assembly may therefore be intended by Divine Providence, (though the Emperor of France, who convoked it, doubtless had quite different objects in view,) to give rise to a more intimate and extensive connection and correspondence between the scattered remains of the tribes of Israel, wherever they are found, and to lay plans for combining their pecuniary means, and their influence in effecting, in due time, not merely the ambitious views of an earthly monarch, but the purposes of Heaven, and the object of the desire and expectation of this people, viz. a return to the holy land. The following extracts from the work alluded to, give countenance to these conjectures

The learned and eloquent President [Abraham Furtado, of Bourdeaux] of this Sanhedrim, in an address to the Commissioners of the Emperor, has the following sentence. “Methinks I see the muse holding her immortal burin, and tracing on her adamant table, amidst so many deeds, which make this reign so conspicuous, that which the hero of the age has done to destroy utterly the barrier raised between nations, and the scattered remains of the most ancient people.” This expression marks the extent of the views of this Assembly.

In a communication of the Emperor to the Sanhedrim arc the following passages, from which some of his views may be collected, that have a bearing on the subject in question.

“In return for his gracious protection, His Majesty requires a religious pledge for the strict adherence to the principles contained in your answers. This assembly, constituted as it is now, could not of itself give such a security. Its answers, converted into decisions by another assembly, of a nature still more dignified and more religious, must find a place near the Talmud, and thus acquire, in the eyes of the Jews of all countries and of all ages, the greatest possible authority. It is also the only means left to you to meet the grand and generous views of His Majesty, and to impart, to all of your persuasion, the blessings of this new era.

“The purity of your law has, no doubt, been altered by the crowd of commentators, and the diversity of their opinions must have thrown doubts in the minds of those who read them. It will be then a most important service, conferred on the whole Jewish-community, to fix their belief on those points which have been submitted to you. To find, in the history of Israel, an assembly capable of attaining the object now in view, we must go back to the Great Sanhedrim, and it is the Great Sanhedrim, which His Majesty this day intends to convene. This senate, destroyed together with the temple, will rise again to enlighten the people it formerly governed: although dispersed throughout the whole world, it will bring back the Jews to the true meaning of the law, by giving interpretations, which shall set aside the corrupted glosses of commentators; it will teach them to love and to defend the country they inhabit; it will convince them that the land, where, for the first time since their dispersion, they have been able to raise their voice, is entitled to all those sentiments, which rendered their ancient country so dear to them.

“Lastly, the Great Sanhedrim, according to ancient custom, will be composed of seventy members, exclusive of the President. The duties of the Great Sanhedrim shall be to convert into religious doctrines the answers already given by this assembly, and likewise, those which may result from the continuance of your sittings.

“For you will observe, Gentlemen, your mission is not fulfilled; it will last as long as that of the Great Sanhedrim, which will only ratify your answers and give them a greater weight; His Majesty is, besides, too well satisfied with your zeal and with the purity of your intentions, to dissolve this assembly before the accomplishment of the great work in which you are called to assist.

“In the first instance it is fit that you should name by ballot a committee of nine members to prepare, with us, the groundwork of our future discussions, and of the decisions of the Sanhedrim. You will observe that the Portuguese, German, and Italian Jews, are equally represented in this committee. We also invite you to acquaint the several Synagogues of Europe of the meeting of the Great Sanhedrim without delay, that they may send deputies able to give to government additional information, and worthy of communicating with you.”

The Sanhedrim, in reply to the Emperor’s communication, say, that “his Majesty the Emperor, in allowing the formation of a Great Sanhedrim, has anticipated the wishes and the wants of all those, who profess the religion of Moses, in Europe, &c.” They direct “That a proclamation shall be addressed by this Assembly to all the Synagogues of the French Empire, of Italy, and of Europe, to acquaint them, that” on the 20th of October next, (1806,) the Great Sanhedrim will open in Paris, under the protection, and by the special permission of his Majesty.”

In the address of the Israelites of Frankfort on the Main, to the Grand Sanhedrim, are the following expressions indicative of their views.

“May the glorious example of France extend beyond the limits of its Empire.’ May the humanity of its sovereign gain ground over the whole earth, and produce a noble sentiment of emulation, by which we shall be admitted to share the happiness of our brethren, instead of a barren sentiment of admiration! May the Rulers of mankind lend an attentive ear to the mournful voice of an insulted nation! O Divine Goodness! deign to cast a look of mercy on a people formerly the object of thy complacency? Inspire the masters of the world! Move their hearts in favor Israel!”

The President, in his reply, echoes these sentiments in the following language.

“The impulse given by France, the influence of its opinions on the European continent, indulge a hope that many states will be proud to follow its example.

“The time will come when people shall no longer give vent to those odious and ridiculous passions which were gratified by our humiliation.

“The career of esteem and of consideration is open for us let us enter it with a bold step; let us divest ourselves of the rust of prejudices. Thus shall we conquer the prejudices of others.”

In 1809, a society was formed in London for the express purpose of promoting the conversion of the Jews to Christianity. They commenced their active labors in March, of this year. From their report in November following, it appears that their benevolent efforts are likely to be extensively useful. A chapel has been opened for Rev. Mr. Frey, who preaches Sabbath evenings, to a crowded audience, many of them Jews. Their free school, not confined however to Jews, contains upwards of 300 children. One of the principal Jews in the kingdom, has lately been baptized, and made vice president of the society. A learned Rabbi lately from Palestine, has embraced the Christian faith, and is placed under able instruction, in hope that he may become a minister of the gospel, in due time among his brethren in his native country.[Christian Observer, vol. viii. p. 739.]

From the foregoing, the reader will perceive, that the first steps, in Divine Providence, toward a return of the Jews to the Holy Land, are probably already taken, in the events now brought into view. The Grand Sanhedrin, of Europe,* composed of representatives from every community in this quarter of the world, under the protection and direction of the Emperor of France, may, it is conceived, at no great distance of time, attach to itself, and bring under its influence and control, all the scattered remains of this people throughout the globe. Such a course of events, with the concurring efforts to convert them to the faith of the Gospel, it is easy to perceive, prepares the way, and very naturally leads on to their return agreeably to prophecy, to the land of their fathers.

* Europe contains probably one half the whole number of Jews on the globe; and these embrace almost the whole of the learning and talents of the nation. More than 13,000 Jews inhabit the single city of Prague.

“Therefore thus saith the Lord God; now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for my holy name. After that they have borne their shame, and all their trespasses whereby they have trespassed against me, when they dwelt safely in their land, and none made them afraid. When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them from out of their enemies’ lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations; then shall they know that I am the Lord their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them anymore there. Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord God.”[ Ezekiel xxxix. 25, to the end.]

Note C.

The Russians were the first to survey the North West coast of America. After them, Cook, Meares, Dixon, Vancouver, La Perouse, and many other able navigators, American as well as European, have almost perfected our knowledge of this coast. Mr. Hearne, in 1769, to 1772, and Mr. Mackenzie, in 1789, proceeding from the English settlements on Hudson’s Bay in different courses to the N. W. visited the Frozen Ocean. In 1792, 1798, the latter gentleman had the honor of being the first European, who visited the Pacific Ocean, by an inland journey from the English settlements above named. Captains Clarke and Lewis, under the auspices of our own government, have since visited this Ocean in another direction. And I am informed, that a little colony is already on the way, partly by land across the continent, but principally by water, with a view to plant themselves on the waters of the Pacific Ocean, at the mouth of Columbia river. The Russians have a settlement on this coast further North, which, according to Hassel, consists of about 800 souls.[Hassel’s Tables, 1809] In Greenland, the Danish government have a colony of 6,100 souls. The British colonies are spreading their settlements around Hudson Bay, on the Labrador coast, (of which country Mr. Cartwright has published an interesting description,) and in Upper Canada. The enterprising inhabitants of the United States are already in companies passing the Mississippi, and planting themselves in the newly acquired territory of Louisiana. Journeys from the Atlantic states, to the Pacific Ocean, will probably soon become as common, and excite as little public attention, as a voyage round the world.

Note D.

In Greenland the United Brethren, or Moravians, and the Danes, support missionaries, at Lichtenau, Newherrnhut, and Lichtenfels; the former place is surrounded by heathen inhabitants, among whom the missionaries arc laboring with zeal and success. But the inhabitants around the other two settlements, consist chiefly of persons baptized by the Brethren, and educated in Christian principles. Those, who do not belong to the Brethren’s church, have all been baptized by the Danish missionaries, so that No Trace Of Paganism Is Now Left In That Neighborhood. [See the 38th No. of the periodical accounts of the Brethren. 1804.]

In Labrador the Moravians have missionaries stationed at Okkak, Nain, and Hopedale. In this cold and dreary region, among the poor Esquimaux,[Eskimo] these intrepid soldiers of Jesus Christ, are pursuing their labors with increasing “joy and thankfulness.” One of their reports[See No. 39.] States, that the poor Indians, “were remarkably diligent in their attendance upon Divine worship; and seemed to take great delight in every opportunity afforded them to hear the gospel.” These missionaries had established schools for the instruction of young men, which are represented as in a flourishing state.

This exemplary sect of Christians, the United Brethren, have missionaries established also at Fairfield, in Upper Canada; among the Chippeway Indians, on the Tonquakamick; at Petquotting, on the river of the Hurons; at Goshen, and among the Delaware Indians, on the Wabash;* in Surinam, South America, at Paramaribo, Bombey, and Hoop, on the Corentyn; also, in the Danish West India Islands of St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. Jan. In these islands they have five settlements, in which the number of Negroes in their congregations amounted, in 1807, to 10,557. In 1805, 207 adult negroes were added to these churches by baptism.[See No. 46, of their Periodical Accounts.] To Demerara, Monte Video, Buenos Ayres, and other stations in South America, and in several of the West India Islands, missionaries have been sent from England; and a number also into Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and the other British colonies north of the United States. Add to these, the various religious associations in the United States support missionaries among the Cherokee Indians in Tennessee; the Wyandots, at Sandusky, on Lake Erie; the Oneidas, and the remains of the Stockbridge tribe in New York; the Marshpee and Vineyard Indians in Massachusetts, and the Narragansetts, at Charlestown, Rhode Island. And beside these are supported a great number of temporary and stationary missionaries, along the extensive frontier of the United States, and in the destitute parts of their interior settlements.

* This tribe, within a few years, has been visited by a Delegation from the Stockbridge Indians, (who are under the care of Rev. Mr. Sergeant) at the head of which is Captain Hendrick, with a view to introduce among them the Christian religion, and the useful arts. This mission has been patronized, and, in part supported, by The Society for propagating the Gospel among the Indians, &c. A school was to be established here, and a master of the Stockbridge tribe was engaged, and went on with the Delegation, to keep it. See Appendix.

Note E.

Without pretending to a precise knowledge on the subject, we reckon within the limits of the United States, at least thirty Missionary Societies of different descriptions and denominations of Christians; and fifteen Bible Societies; the latter, all instituted within the last three years, and three fourths of them within the last year.

Theological Institutions have been established at New York, (1805,) by the Associate Reformed Church; the stated number of students from about 10 to 15. Also at Andover, in Massachusetts, (1808,) the whole number of students since admitted, between sixty and seventy.* And at New Brunswick, New Jersey,(l 810,) by the Dutch Reformed Church, which is just commencing its operations. The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church,

* Four of these, viz. Messrs. Adoniram Judson, Samuel Newell, Samuel Nott, and Samuel J. Mills, have already devoted themselves to missionary labors in foreign countries, and two others are destined to a mission in the interior of Georgia, and arc on their way thither; at their meeting’ in May last, resolved on founding a similar institution somewhere within their bounds, and are collecting the necessary funds for the purpose. Besides these, there are funds to a considerable amount attached to the Colleges at Cambridge and Princeton, and to the Academies at Exeter,(N.H.) and Andover, (Mass.) for the support of theological students.

Institutions of this kind, and particularly for the purpose of educating missionaries, are established at Gosport in England, where in 1807, there were thirteen students; also at Hoxton, England, and at Berlin, in Prussia, wherein 1805, were five students.

Note F.

Among other establishments alluded to, which have in view the benefit of the inhabitants of this benighted quarter of the world, I have pleasure in mentioning, particularly, “the African Institution,” to which the abolition of the slave trade gave rise, and which was formed in London in April, 1807. Its members in point of rank, talents, wealth, and good influence, are among the first characters in England.

The objects of this noble institution, and the means of effecting them, will be best learned, by the following extracts from their Rules and Regulations.

Resolved, 1. That this Meeting is deeply impressed with a sense of the enormous wrongs which the natives of Africa have suffered in their intercourse with Europe; and from a desire to repair those wrongs, as well as from general feelings of benevolence, is anxious to adopt such measures as are best calculated to promote their civilization and happiness.

2. “That the approaching cessation of the Slave Trade hitherto carried on by Great Britain, America, and Denmark, will, in a considerable degree, remove the barrier which has so long obstructed the natural course of social improvement in Africa; and that the way will be thereby opened for introducing the comforts and arts of a more civilized state of society.

3. “That the happiest effects may be reasonably anticipated from diffusing useful knowledge, and exciting industry among the inhabitants of Africa, and from obtaining and circulating throughout this country more ample and authentic information concerning the agricultural and commercial faculties of that vast continent.

4. “That the present period is eminently fitted for prosecuting these benevolent designs; since the suspension, during the. war, of that large share of the Slave Trade, which has commonly been carried on by France, Spain, and Holland, will, when combined with the effect of the Abolition Laws of Great Britain, America, and Denmark, produce nearly the entire cessation of that traffic along a line of coast extending between two and three thousand miles in length, and thereby afford a peculiarly favorable opportunity for giving a new direction to the industry and commerce of Africa.

“To prevent misconception concerning the views and measures of the African Institution, it may be proper in the first instance to declare, that it is the Society’s fixed determination not to undertake any religious mission, and not to engage in commercial speculations. The Society is aware that there already exist several most respectable Institutions formed for the diffusion of Christianity, and means not to encroach on their province. It may also be proper to premise, that it will naturally become the duty and care of the Society, to watch over the execution of the laws, recently enacted in this and other countries, for abolishing the African Slave Trade; to endeavor to prevent the infraction of those laws; and from time to time to suggest any means by which they may be rendered more effectual to their objects; and likewise to endeavor, by communicating information, and by other appropriate methods, to promote the Abolition of the African Slave Trade by Foreign powers.

“The means which it is proposed to employ for the purpose of promoting civilization and improvement in Africa are of the following kind.

1. “To collect and diffuse, throughout this country, accurate information respecting the natural productions of Africa, and, in general, respecting the agricultural and commercial capacities of the African Continent, and the intellectual, moral, and political condition of its inhabitants.

2. “To promote the instruction of the Africans in letters and in useful knowledge, and to cultivate a friendly connection with the natives of that Continent.

3. “To endeavor to enlighten the minds of the Africans with respect to their true interests; and to diffuse information amongst them respecting the means whereby they may improve the present opportunity of substituting a beneficial commerce in place of the Slave Trade.

4. “To introduce amongst them such of the improvements and useful arts of Europe as are suited to their condition.

5. “To promote the cultivation of the African soil, not only by exciting and directing the industry of the natives, but by furnishing, where it may appear advantageous to do so, useful seeds and plants, and implements of husbandry.

6. “To introduce amongst the inhabitants beneficial medical discoveries.

7. “To obtain a knowledge of the principal languages of Africa, and, as has already been found to be practicable, to reduce them to writing, with a view to facilitate the diffusion of information among the natives of that country.

8. “To employ suitable agents and to establish correspondences as shall appear advisable, and to encourage and reward individual enterprise and exertion in promoting any of the purposes of the institution.”

The subscriptions to this institution have been very liberal,”‘ and the prospect of success encouraging. The aid of the United States, through the Secretary of the Association has been solicited in a correspondence with the President of the Society for promoting the Abolition of Slavery in the United States, and with other American gentlemen of respectability. In one of his letters he states the strong reasons, which exist, to induce the American government and the American public, actively to co-operate in accomplishing the plans of this Institution.

“The success,” he says, “of any endeavors for the civilization of Africa, must depend on the degree in which the continuance of the Slave Trade on that coast can be prevented. Much has been done by the legislative enactments of Great Britain and America. Your Congress however, do not seem to have been aware of the subtle evasions, which men, practiced in this trade of blood, would have recourse to, in the prosecution of their nefarious practices. Accordingly, it appears, that American ships, using the Swedish, Spanish, and Portuguese flags, and some even sailing under their own, have appeared in the African seas, for the purpose of procuring slaves, to carry to the colonies of Spain, Portugal, Sec. What is wanted in order to destroy this system is, in the first place, an act of Congress, rendering it highly penal in any American citizen, to be engaged in this trade, either as a capitalist, or as an agent, under any flag, or under any circumstances. But above all, a contract or agreement between Great Britain and America, that the cruisers of both nations shall be empowered indiscriminately, and mutually to enforce their Abolition laws. At present, the American laws prohibiting the foreign Slave Trade, are a dead letter, because they have no cruisers on the coast of Africa, or in the tropical latitudes, to carry them into effect. If once, however, it were understood, that these piratical violators of the laws of their own country, as well as of the dearest rights of humanity, were obnoxious to seizure by British cruisers, and to subsequent condemnation, much more would be done in a few months to remove the grand obstacle, to the improvement of Africa, than could otherwise be effected in a series of years. On this subject the gentlemen above mentioned have been strongly solicited to use their influence to produce a willingness, on the part of the government of the United States, to accede to such an agreement, to which I am persuaded there would be no objection on this side of the water; and from which many happy effects, not only to Africa, but to ourselves also, might be anticipated. The cooperation of the two countries, in one common purpose of benevolence would serve, it might be hoped, to draw more closely the bond of union between them, and would unquestionably strengthen in the minds of all benevolent men, the existing motives for desiring a perfect amity to be perpetuated between them.”

It is hoped that the American government and people are not wanting in a disposition to lend their legislative aid and private influence, to the accomplishment of an object, which, when understood in all its contemplated consequences, cannot fail to excite the warmest approbation, and even admiration, of every humane, upright, and liberal mind.

Quote by Thomas Jefferson You’ll Never Hear From The Democrats

JeffersonContrary to what liberals, democrats, progressive and the revisers of history say Jefferson most definitely believed in God, served the Lord and followed the precepts of Jesus Christ. You’ll notice he says “our” when referring to the Christian religion as in this example: the Holy Author of our religion” as a further example continue to read…He was against forcing people to serve God, yet I must point out the Bible itself teaches that God wants willing servants, serving out of love, not slaves serving out of fear or the whip.

Mr. Jefferson has observed in one of his private letters, “that the writer of these essays was the first man who ever called in question his religious sentiments, and much more, that ever branded him with the appellation of Atheist” He further observes, ” from my earliest youth I have ever had a great and reverential regard, for religion and for the ordinances of God: but at the same time, I do believe that there are those who are set for a defense of the gospel, who abuse its privileges, and trample upon the sacred rights of conscience. For it will be acknowledged by all, that conscience is the throne of God in the heart of man; and whoever requires a violation of conscience, requires more than ever God did: But it was to guard against these trampler’s upon the rights of conscience, that the bill for establishing religious Freedom in this state, was introduced into the house: and whether it will prove beneficial or injurious to society generally, must be left to God and posterity.” As the previous remarks quoted from the pamphlet, were principally founded on the bill for establishing religious freedom in the state of Virginia, we will subjoin the act for the benefit of our readers, many of whom, perhaps, have never seen it: An ACT for establishing Religious Freedom, passed in the assembly of Virginia, in the beginning of the year 1786.

Shepard“Well aware that Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments’ or burdens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do; that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world, and through all time that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher not of his own persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, and is withdrawing from the ministry those temporal rewards, which proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct, are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labors for the instruction of mankind; that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, more than oyx opinions, in physics or geometry; that therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow citizens he has a natural right; that it tends also to corrupt the principles that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing, with a monopoly of worldly honors and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it; that though indeed these are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles, on supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge that tendency, will make his opinions the rule judgment, and approve or condemn the sentients of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own; that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order; and finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them.

Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

And though we will know that this assembly, elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding assemblies, constituted with powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare this act irrevocable, would be of no effect in law, yet we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present or narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right.”

source: The life of Thomas Jefferson: esq., LL. D., late ex president of the United States
See also: Thomas Jefferson Biography
Thomas Jefferson Notes of Religion October 1776
THE GREAT SEAL OF THE UNITED STATES
Thomas Jefferson Concerning Jesus and Plato
Thomas Jefferson Defines What a True Republic Is
Thomas Jefferson Notes on the Illuminati and Free Masons
MORALITY OF GOVERNMENT by Thomas Jefferson 1810
The Importance of Free Speech and The Free Press in America
Eulogy of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams by Daniel Webster
Patrick Henry may well be proved a Prophet as well as a Statesman
Thomas Jefferson: Encroaches on Liberty & Rights by Government
Thomas Jefferson First Annual Message as President December 1801
Thomas Jefferson Concerning the Political Party Divisions of the Nation
Jefferson Foresaw and Prophesied about This Time in American History
Thomas Jefferson Constitutional Powers Usurped by the Supreme Court
THOMAS JEFFERSON CONCERNING IMMIGRATION and IMMIGRANTS
Thomas Jefferson and John Adams Explain Why Muslims Turn to Terrorism
RELIGIOUS VIEWS OF THOMAS JEFFERSON; source: The Jefferson Bible
Prophetic Letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison; Paris Dec 20, 1787
Passage of the Potomac through the Blue Ridge Mountains by Thomas Jefferson
THOMAS JEFFERSON: VIRGINIA BILL FOR ESTABLISHING RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
 
A SUMMARY VIEW OF THE RIGHTS OF BRITISH AMERICA by Thomas Jefferson 1774
Preface To Resolutions of Virginia and Kentucky by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson
KENTUCKY RESOLUTIONS by Thomas Jefferson 1798
Virginia Protest Prepared by Jefferson for the Legislature of Virginia
Thomas Jefferson to Archibald Stuart on Amending the Virginia Constitution
Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry and Henry’s Virginia Resolutions of 1765
 
 
The Truth about the current political parties in America and their origins by Thomas Jefferson and others
hand_of_god_by_afina_energy

THE HAND OF GOD IN AMERICAN HISTORY by Rev Morgan Dix July 4th 1876 NYC

Morgan Dix3The Hand Of God In American History. A Discourse By Rev. Morgan Dix, D. D., Delivered At Trinity Church, New York, July 4th, 1876.

Glory be to God! and here, throughout the land, far and near, through all our homes, be peace, good will and love. As one family, as one people, as one nation, we keep the birthday of our rights, our liberty, our power and strength. Let us do this with eyes and hearts raised to the Fountain of all life, the Beginning of all glory and might; with words of praise and thanks to God who rules on high; for He is the living God and steadfast power, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and His dominion shall be even unto the end. Wherefore as He is our strength and hope, let all begin and all go on, first and ever, with glory to God Most High. There are great things to think about to-day; the growth of the people, unparalleled in history; the vastness of their empire, a wonder of the latter days; the bands by which the mighty frame is held together—so slight to the eye, so hard to break; the many races welded into one; the marvelous land, with its oceans on all sides, its lakes themselves like lesser oceans, its icebergs and glaciers, its torrid deserts, its mountain ranges and rich, fat valley land, its climates of all kinds, its rivers, which would have seemed of all but fabulous length, its wealth in all that rock, and earth, and water can supply; and then the people—active, able, full of enterprise and force, acting with the power of a myriad of giants, speaking one language, living under one flag, bound by common interests, and, as to-day, kindled by one common feeling of devotion, pride, joy, hope, sure there is enough to think about to-day, enough to fill the soul and almost make the head giddy. But let these things be spoken of elsewhere; let others dwell upon them. We have a definite share in the national celebration: let us not forget our part, which is to lift to God a great voice which He shall hear amid all the other voices of the hour. Why do we gather here? Is it to recount the praises of men and their mighty achievements? Is it to make display of our national greatness, to tell over our victories and conquests in divers scenes of conflict, to celebrate the names and acts of chieftains, statesmen, and rulers of the land, of brave and patient people who gave fortune, life, and sacred honor to the State, of any of those who deserve remembrance to-day? Let this be done elsewhere, as is right and fitting; let men stand up when it is convenient, and set oration and address do honor to the dead and the living, point the moral of our history, hold up the ideals of patriotism, virtue, and unselfish love of home and native land.

Morgan Dix2But we must be about our Father’s business; we have other words to speak, deeper, further-reaching; our work here is to offer praise and glory to God; to bless Him in His relations to the nation as its Lord and King, as Ruler and Governor, as Providence, law-giver, and Judge. Without God nothing of what we properly value to-day could have been. Without God there could have been no nation, nor nation’s birthday. It is He that hath made us and kept us one. The office of the Church is to bless and sanctify the nation’s feast day. She cannot be indifferent nor unmoved. We are citizens of the earthly house as well as of the heavenly. We act in that double capacity in praising God Almighty, while with our brethren we keep the feast. And oh! what ground for thankfulness to-day. Think of the mighty hand that hath led us and upheld us through these hundred years—what it has done for us—what that right hand of the Most High hath wrought I look back to the humble beginnings—to the poor little Colonists with their scant store, and their modest ambitions; think of their long-suffering patience, and also of their honorable resolve not to submit to oppression and injustice; remember the band of men who met together, just one hundred years ago, to sign the Declaration, how they did it—not, as popular legends tell us, with transports of enthusiasm and amid bell-ringing and general jubilation, but in secret session of Congress. With an awful sense of what it meant. With a vision of the gibbet and the axe before their eyes, and well aware of the toil, and blood, and grief that it must cost to maintain their manly attitude before the world. Think with what dread and sinking of heart, with what tears and partings, with what conflicts of spirit, and what doubts as to the duty of the hour, the foundations were laid; and let us have a tender heart toward the old fathers of the State, the men who took their lives in their hands, and so brought the new nation to the birth, and then amid what untold trials and sufferings they carried on their war! Think of the great hearts ready to break, of the starved and ragged armies with that mighty spirit under their hunger-worn ribs, more frequently retreating than advancing, wasted by sickly summer heat, and often in winter standing barefoot in snow; that squalid, sorrowful, anxious force working their sure way through cloud, and storm, and darkness to the victory, perfect and finished, at the end. It is touching to read the memorials of those days, and to think of all that has come since then; how we are entered into their labors, and are at peace because they went through all that; they sowed in tears and we reap in joy. So then let there be thanks to God for the past, out of which He has evoked the present grandeur of our State, and let us remember what we owe to those who went before, for a part of that debt is obvious; to imitate the virtues and return to the simple mind, the pure intention, the unselfish devotion to the public weal which marked the founders of the Republic. It is a far cry to those days, but there still shine the stars which guided them on their way, the light of heaven illuminating the earth, the bright beacons of honesty, truth, simplicity, sincerity, self-sacrifice, under which, as under an astrological sign, the little one was born. Pray heaven those holy lights of morality and public virtue may not, for us, already have utterly faded away. Surely it. is a marvelous thing to see how nations rise and grow; how they gather strength; how they climb to the meridian of their noonday light and glory; how they blaze awhile, invested with their fullest splendors at that point, and thence how they decline and rush downward into the evening, and the night, and the darkness of a long, dead sleep, whence none can awake any more. This history is not made without God. His hand is in it all. His decrees on nation and State are just, in perfect justice, as on each one of us men. And must it all be told over again in our case? Is there no averting the common doom? Must each people but repeat the monotonous history of those who went before? God only knows how long the course will be till all shall be accomplished. But certainly we, the citizens, may do something; we may live pure, honest, sober lives, for the love of country also, as well as for the love of Christ. We may, by taking good heed to ourselves, help to purify the whole nation, and so obtain a lengthening of our tranquility. We want much more of this temper; we need to feel that each man helps, in his own way, to save or to destroy his country. Every good man is a reason in God’s eyes why He should spare the nation and prolong its life; every bad man, in his vicious, selfish, evil life, is a reason why God should break up the whole system to which that worthless, miserable being belongs.

If we love our country with a true, real love we shall show it by contributing in ourselves to the sum of collective righteousness what it may be in our power, aided by God’s grace, to give. They are not true men who have no thanks to bring to the Lord this day. They are not true men who simply shout and cry, and make noisy demonstration, and speak great swelling words, without reason, or reflection, or any earnest thought to duty, to God, and the State. From neither class can any good come; not from the senselessly uproarious, not from the livid and gloomy children of discontent. They were thoughtful, patriotic, self-sacrificing men who built this great temple of civil and religious liberty. By such men only can it be kept in repair and made to stand for ages and ages. No kingdom of this world can last forever, yet many endure to a great age. The old mother country, England, in her present constitutional form, is more than 800 years old—a good age, a grand age, with, we trust and pray, many bright centuries to come hereafter, as good, as fair. Let us remember that for us, as for all people, length of days and long life and peace depend on the use we make of our gifts, on the fidelity with which we discharge our mission. And that is the reason why every one of us has, in part, his country’s life in his own hands. But I detain you from the duty of the hour. We meet to praise not man, but God; to praise Him with a reasonable and devout purpose; to bless him for our first century, for this day which He permits us to see, for our homes, our liberties, our peace, our place among the powers of the earth. It is all from him, whatever good we have, and to him let us ascribe the honor and the glory. And let us say, with them of old time.

Blessed art Thou, O Lord God of our fathers; and to be praised and exalted above all forever.

And Blessed is Thy glorious and holy name; and to be praised and exalted above all forever.

Blessed art Thou in the temple of Thine holy glory; and to be praised and glorified above all forever.

Blessed art Thou that beholdest the depths and sittest upon the cherubims; and to be praised and exalted above all forever.

Blessed art Thou in the glorious throne of thy kingdom; to be praised and glorified above all forever.

Blessed art Thou in the firmament of heaven; and above all to be praised and glorified forever.

Yea, let us bless the Most High, and praise and honor Him that liveth forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation. And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; and He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth.

See also: The Wisdom and Love of God as Shown by His Creation by Noah Webster
THE SOURCE AND SECURITY OF AMERICAN FREEDOM AND PROGRESS by Courtlandt Parker 1876
INDIVIDUAL PURITY THE HOPE OF FREEDOM’S BLESSINGS by Charles Sprague 1791-1875
AMERICA! FAIREST OF FREEDOM’S DAUGHTERS by Jeremiah E. Rankin 1828-1903
Joseph Baldwin: Address 1892, to National Teachers Association in New York
True American Patriotism Defined by Hon. Curtis Guild and H. F. Kinnerney 1876
A PRAYER FOR THE NATION by Rev. William Bacon Stevens July 4, 1876
THE GREAT AMERICAN REPUBLIC A CHRISTIAN STATE by Cardinal James Gibbons 1834-1921
THE GRAND MISSION OF AMERICA by Joseph H. Twitchell, July 4, 1876
SCORN TO BE SLAVES by Dr. Joseph Warren 1741-1775

THE GRAND MISSION OF AMERICA by Joseph H. Twitchell, July 4, 1876

rev_joseph_h_twichellTHE GRAND MISSION OF AMERICA. AN ADDRESS BY REV. JOSEPH H. TWITCIIELL 1838-1918, A Lincoln Republican and the reported best friend of Samuel L. Clemens i.e. Mark Twain. Delivered At The Centennial Celebration At Hartford, Conn., July 4th, 1876.

This republic was ordained of God who has provided the conditions of the organization of the race into nations by the configuration of land and the interspaces of the sea. By these national organizations the culture and development of the race are secured. We believe that our nation is a creature of God— that he ordained it for an object, and we believe that we have some comprehension of what that object is. He gave us the best results of the travail of ages past for an outfit, separating us from the circumstances that in the existing nations encumbered these results, and sent us forth to do his will. We built on foundations already prepared a new building. Other men had labored and we entered upon their labors. God endowed and set us for a sign to testify the worth of men and the hope there is for man. And we are rejoicing to-day that in our first hundred years we seem to have measurably—measurably—fulfilled our Divine calling. It is not our national prosperity, great as it is, that is the appropriate theme of our most joyful congratulations, but it is our success in demonstrating that men are equal as God’s children, which affords a prophecy of better things for the race. That is what our history as a lesson amounts to.

There have been failures in particulars, but not on the whole; though we fall short, yet still, on the whole, the outline of the lesson may be read clearly. The day of remembrance and of recollection is also the day of anticipation. We turn from looking back one hundred years to looking forward one hundred. It is well for some reasons to dwell upon to-day, but the proper compliment of our memories, reaching over generations, is hope reaching forward over a similar period of time. Dwelling on to-day—filling our eyes with it—we can neither see far back nor far on. We are caught in the contemplation of evils that exist and that occupy us with a sense of what has not been done and of unpleasing aspects. True there are evils, but think what has been wrought in advancing the work of the grand mission of America. Do we doubt that the work is to go on? No! There are to be strifes and contending forces. But as out of strife has come progress, so will it be hereafter. Some things that we have not wanted, as well as some things that we have wanted have been done, yet on the whole the result is progress. It is God’s way to bring better things by strife. (The speaker here alluded to the battle of Gettysburg, where he officiated as chaplain in the burial of the dead—the blue and the gray often in the same grave—and said that the only prayer that he could offer was “Thy will be done, thy Kingdom come on earth as it . is in heaven.”

The republic is to continue on in the same general career it has hitherto followed. The same great truths its history has developed and realized in social and civil life are to still farther emerge. The proposition that all men are created equal is to be still further demonstrated. Human rights are to be vindicated and set free from all that would deny them—Is any law that asserts the dignity of human nature to be abrogated? Never. The Republic is to become a still brighter and brighter sign to the nations to show them the way to liberty. We have opened our doors to the oppressed. Are those doors to be closed? No; a thousand times no. We have given out an invitation to those who are held in the chains of wrong. Is that invitation to be recalled? No, never. The invitation has been accepted; and here the speaker alluded to the fact—which shows how homogenous we finally become as a nation, though heterogeneous through immigration—that the Declaration of Independence is read here to-day by a man whoso father was born in Ireland; the national songs are sung by a man who was himself born in Ireland; and the company of singers here, nearly all, were born in Germany. Then he passed to the subject of Chinese education in this country and spoke of Yung Wing and his life-work, alluding to him as the representative of the better thought and hope of China, and then paid his respects to that part of the Cincinnati platform which alludes to this race. So long as he had voted he had given his support to this political party whose convention was held at Cincinnati, but that platform wherein it seems on this point to verge toward un-American doctrine, he repudiated; “I disown it; I say woe to its policy; I bestow my malediction upon it.” Now, if there is any one here who will pay like respect to the platform of the other party the whole duty will be done. We are urged to-day in view of our calling, and of the fulfillment of the past to set our faces and hearts toward the future in harmony and sympathy with the hope we are to realize. Let every man make it a personal duty and look within himself. God save the Republic! May it stand in righteousness and mercy ; so only can it stand. If we forsake our calling, God will take away the crown He has given us. The kingdom of God will be taken from us and given to another nation which shall bring forth the fruits thereof.

See also:
The Consequence of Bad Legal Precedent in American Legislation
True American Patriotism Defined by Hon. Curtis Guild and H. F. Kinnerney 1876
THE SOURCE AND SECURITY OF AMERICAN FREEDOM AND PROGRESS by Courtlandt Parker 1876
PATRIOT SONS OF PATRIOT SIRES by Rev. Samuel Francis Smith 1808-1895
Joseph Baldwin: Address 1892, to National Teachers Association in New York
TRUE FREEDOM! A Poem by James Russell Lowell 1819-1891
THE GENIUS OF AMERICA by Hon. Dr. Felix R. Brunot July 4, 1876
A PRAYER FOR THE NATION by Rev. William Bacon Stevens July 4, 1876
Advice to Young People from Noah Webster Father of American Education
The Wisdom and Love of God as Shown by His Creation by Noah Webster
COURAGE! A Poem by Bryan Waller Procter 1787-1874
AIM HIGH! An Address by President Benjamin Harrison 1893
A GOOD NAME by Joel Hawes 1789-1867