Feeds:
Posts
Comments

A Letter from John Newton

You have one hard lesson to learn, that is–the evil of your own heart. You know something of it–but it is needful that you should know more; for the more we know of ourselves–the more we shall prize and love Jesus and His salvation. The more you know Him–the better you will trust Him. The more you trust Him–the better you will love Him. The more you love Him–the better you will serve Him. This is God’s way. You are not called to buy–but to beg; not to be strong in yourself–but in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. He is teaching you these things, and I trust he will teach you to the end.

Do not be surprised to find yourself poor, helpless, and vile. All whom God favors and teaches–will find themselves so. The more grace increases–the more we shall see to abase us in our own eyes!

I hope what you find in yourself by daily experience, will humble you–but not discourage you. For if our Physician is almighty–our disease cannot be desperate. Our sins are many–but His mercies are more. Our sins are great–but His righteousness is greater. When our sins prevail, remember that we have an Advocate with the Father, who is able to pity, to pardon, and to save to the uttermost! Think of the names and relations which Jesus bears to us. Does He not call Himself–a Savior, a Shepherd, a Friend, and a Husband? Has He not made known unto us His love, His atoning sacrifice, His righteousness, His promises, His power, and His grace–and all for our encouragement? It is better to be admiring the compassion and fullness of grace which is in our Savior–than to dwell and pore too much upon our own poverty and vileness.

Remember that He has loved you with an everlasting love–and therefore in loving-kindness has drawn you to Himself. He will surely accomplish that which He has begun. Nothing which can be named or thought of–shall ever be able to separate you from Him! This persuasion will give you strength for the battle! This is the shield which will quench the fiery darts of Satan! This is the helmet which the enemy cannot pierce! Be strong, therefore–not in yourself–but in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

Remember, the growth of a believer is not like a mushroom–but like an oak, which increases slowly indeed–but surely. Many suns, showers, and frosts, pass upon it before it comes to perfection. And in winter, when it seems to be dead–it is gathering strength at the root. Be humble, watchful, and diligent in the means, and endeavor to look through all, and fix your eye upon Jesus–and all shall be well. I commend you to the care of the good Shepherd.

Newton, John. The Works of John Newton, Volume 2 of 4: Cardiphonia – Letter I (March 18, 1767) of Seven Letters To Sally Johnson. pp.6-7

Pange, Lingua, Gloriosi Proelium Certaminis
Venantius Fortunatus 580A.D.

"Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle, with completed victory rife,
And above the Cross’s trophy, tell the triumph of the strife;
How the world’s Redeemer conquer’d, by surrendering of His life.

"God, his Maker, sorely grieving that the first-born Adam fell,
When he ate the noxious apple, whose reward was death and hell,
Noted then this wood, the ruin of the ancient wood to quell.

"For the work of our Salvation needs would have his order so,
And the multiform deceiver’s art by art would overthrow;
And from there would bring the medicine whence the venom of the foe.

"Wherefore, when the sacred fulness of the appointed time was come,
This world’s Maker left His Father, left His bright and heavenly home,
And proceeded, God Incarnate, of the Virgin’s holy womb.

"Weeps the Infant in the manger that in Bethlehem ‘s stable stands;
And His limbs the Virgin Mother does compose in swaddling bands,
Meetly thus in linen folding of her God the feet and hands.

"Thirty years among us dwelling, His appointed time fulfilled,
Born for this, He meets His Passion, for that this He freely willed:
On the Cross the Lamb is lifted, where His life-blood shall be spilled.

"He endured the shame and spitting, vinegar, and nails, and reed;
As His blessed side is opened, water from there and blood proceed:
Earth, and sky, and stars, and ocean, by that flood are cleansed indeed.

"Faithful Cross! above all other, one and only noble Tree!
None in foliage, none in blossom, none in fruit your peels may be;
Sweetest wood and sweetest iron, sweetest weight is hung on you!

"Bend your boughs, oh Tree of Glory! your relaxing sinews bend;
For awhile the ancient rigor, that your birth bestowed, suspend;
And the King of heavenly beauty on your bosom gently tend.

"You alone wast counted worthy this world’s ransom to uphold;
For a shipwreck’d race preparing harbor, like the Ark of old:
With the sacred blood anointed from the wounded Lamb that roll’d.

"Laud and honor to the Father, laud and honor to the Son,
Laud and honor to the Spirit, ever Three and ever One
:
Consubstantial, co-eternal, while unending ages run.

The offenses and falls of others must not impede you in your love, for even great grace can coexist with great corruption—how much more this is true when grace is feeble. You do not know how much strife another has concerning these faults, how much he grieves over them in secret, and with how many tears and prayers he seeks forgiveness.

Wilhelmus À Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, Chapter 82 – Love for one’s neighbor

If you wish to increase in love:

(1) Take your life, honor, possessions, and all that you have, and surrender them to the Lord. Let Him care for them and do not concern yourself about them, so that you can readily part with them if love toward God requires this.

(2) Display the image of God which is in you—however small or great it may be—and show the world that you have a different nature, being in covenant with God.

(3) Believe in God‘s love toward you and rejoice in this.

(4) Pray for the increase of love.

(5) Have continual fellowship with those who love God, and be their companion.

(6) Abstain from willful sins and be zealous to do the will of God. If you fall, do not continue in this sin, but with sorrow humble yourself, as having sinned against love, and arise again—holding fast to the unchangeable love of God and the immutability of the covenant. While thus acquainting yourself with the Lord, you will go on from strength to strength and become more abundant in love.

―And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God‖ (2 Thess 3:5).

a’Brakel

A’Brakel writes:

However, since all that glitters is not gold, everything that has the appearance of holiness and is called holiness is not holiness … There are three requisites for holiness:

(1) it proceeds from a good root: faith;

(2) it functions according to a good rule: the will of God as revealed in the law; and

(3) it has a good objective: the honor of God.

First, all that is worthy of being called holiness must proceed from a holy principle. Faith is the primary element of conversion as far as order is concerned. This faith unites a person with Christ who is our life. It does not only make us a partaker of His benefits, but first and foremost, of the Person Himself. … [Faith] actuality, unites the soul with Christ, and thus life and strength flow out of Him into the soul …

Secondly, to holiness belongs a good rule with which the disposition of the heart and one‘s deeds must agree. This is nothing but the will of God alone, as presented in the law of the ten commandments.

Thirdly, to holiness belongs a holy objective. [i.e. the glorification of God]

Silly worm

The counsels of a boundless being are not to be scanned by the brain of a silly worm, that hath breathed but a few minutes in the world. Since eternity cannot be comprehended in time, it is not to be judged by a creature of time.

Source: Stephen Charnock, “Existence and Attributes of God”

  1. God has regenerated them by his Holy Spirit
  2. God has decreed from eternity that in time he would adopt them from the human race to be His children and heirs of eternal life.
  3. God has betrothed them to his son … In the Song of Solomon the Lord Jesus therefore frequently calls them his bride: "My sister, my bride" … As the father of the bridegroom also becomes the father of the bride by reason of marriage, the father of our Lord Jesus Christ likewise becomes the father of believers.
  4. They have children by reason of being united to the son of God.

Wilhelmus à Brakel (1700 A.D.) p.419

Answer: (1) Christ did indeed suffer eternal damnation, for eternal damnation, death, and pain consist in total separation from God, in the total manifestation of divine wrath, and all of this for such a duration until the punishment upon sin was perfectly and satisfactorily born. However, Christ has suffered all this to the fullest extent, as has been demonstrated earlier. He suffered as long and in such a measure until He could say, “It is finished” (John 19:30), and “I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do” (John 17:4). (2) Christ did not need to be locally in hell, for this does not belong to the essence of eternal damnation. His suffering did not have to be endless or eternal in duration. Man is subject to this due to his inability to endure punishment exhaustively and at the same time restore himself into a state of perfection. Consequently man would have to remain subject to it until he would make full satisfaction, which could not occur to all eternity. Since, however, the Surety has suffered everything to the most perfect degree and with utmost exertion, that is, as much as was necessary to satisfy divine justice, and since He fulfilled the demands of the law by His perfect obedience, it was neither possible to extend His suffering any further, nor “that He should be holden of” death (Acts 2:24). Additional Objection: Christ’s human nature, in which He suffered, was finite and thus was not capable of bearing infinite wrath. Consequently His suffering was not sufficient to atone for sin which merits eternal punishment. Answer: We cannot determine to what degree Christ’s human nature was fortified, but it always remained finite. In this nature Christ endured a total being forsaken by, and the full wrath of, the infinite God against whom the elect had sinned. One should note, however, that it was not the human nature which suffered, but the Person according to this nature, and since the Person is infinite, all that He suffered was of infinite efficacy and value.

Wilhelmus à Brakel (1700 A.D.)

This glorified Jesus is beyond the reach of the children of this world, and therefore they gravitate towards occupying their minds with earthly objects and find some delight in doing so, there being nothing else for them. But believers, you who know and love Jesus, with what else should the eye of your understanding be occupied than in beholding the King in His beauty (Isa 33:17)? If one begins to get a view of Him, all that is here below will of itself lose its luster and glory and it will be a light task to withdraw your love and attachment from the earth. … Suppose that the Lord Jesus were to take you by the hand and lead you into His inner chamber, revealing to you all the heavenly mysteries pertaining to the work of redemption, revealing Himself to you in His divine perfections and in all the glory He has received as Mediator. Let us suppose furthermore that He would assure you with love that all His glory and fullness is for you and to your benefit, that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have been mutually engaged to exalt you to incomprehensible and unspeakable felicity, and to satisfy and encompass you both now and hereafter in eternity with His love and all-sufficiency. In your opinion, can there be anything more delightful than this? … Beholding Him as such will cause the soul to be more intimately united with Jesus; and hence, the more virtue will go out from Him. The more the soul may receive the strength and influence of the Spirit, the less strength sin will have within him, and the more zealous he will be to be pleasing unto the Lord. From all this it may therefore convincingly be concluded that beholding the glorified Jesus has a sanctifying influence.

Wilhelmus à Brakel (1700 A.D.) p.655-658

What is conversion

We have already demonstrated above that man is entirely incapable of converting himself Allow me to make you acquainted with yourself, your inability, as well as that your refraining from evil and doing good is of no value before God. Allow me briefly to convey to you what true conversion is. Some imagine that conversion consists in refraining from the commission of gross sins and in the performance of some good deeds. Conversion, however, is a complete change of man as far as his spiritual frame, intellect, will, thoughts, words, and deeds are concerned. This change can be compared with a person born blind receiving his sight, a deaf person being enabled to hear, a dumb person being enabled to speak, or a totally paralyzed person being enabled to move about. The Holy Spirit is given to the person who is to be converted, who, having made His residence in the soul, reveals to the soul how polluted it is from every perspective, causing the soul to detest and abhor itself, to be filled with shame, to be humbled, and to be perplexed concerning its condition. In addition to this the Holy Spirit reveals God to the soul as being holy, majestic, just, good, and a God of truth. He reveals to the soul the necessity and the fullness of the Mediator and grants him some understanding as to how he can be reconciled and united to God. He works love and fear for, and obedience towards, God. How precious this becomes to the soul, causing him to betake himself to the Mediator Jesus, to receive these matters out of His fullness! This produces grief and sorrow over the fact that the soul cleaves to all that is before the eyes and cleaves to sin—both the great as well as the small sins, both external and internal sins. Now he perceives and is conscious of all these sins of which previously he took no notice. Such a soul now seeks to exercise communion with God and desires to be near Him. The soul is either joyful or sorrowful in relation to whether he is far from God or close to Him. His disposition is one in which his back is turned the world and sin, even though he is frequently ensnared by them. He lives focused upon God, and even though all is darkness, he looks to Him for light, life, spirituality, comfort, strength to do battle against sin, as well as for holiness. Such a soul is not satisfied with mere performance. He knows that he must perform good works, but wishes to do so by faith, in union with Christ, and through Him unto God, doing so in the presence of the Lord out of love to God, in the fear of God, in obedience to God, and with denial of self.

Source: Wilhelmus à Brakel – Dutch theologian from the late 1600s

%d bloggers like this: